Blossoming

6.12.10 - Blossom (M.Stein)

Long known for playing anthemic Saturday night shows that cater to their more mainstream weekend audiences, Phish approached the first Saturday night of 2010 with a playful, self-referential twist. Connecting a sequence of “Saturday-Night” songs that were often characterized by formulaic jamming throughout 2009, Phish infused Blossom’s second set with their re-found intention, crafting an refreshing frame of forward looking improvisation.

6.12.10 (M.Stein)

For the second consecutive night, the band formed a flowing second set of music, this time, with a celebratory thread running throughout. Opening up with a quintessential Saturday night trio of “Rock and Roll > Hood, and Backwards Down the Number Line” Phish pushed the boundaries of these well-loved anthems, creating some of the most compelling moments of this young tour. After a familiar-sounding “Rock and Roll” that moved from a fierce peak into a layered, ambient passage, the band dropped into a surprise early-set “Harry Hood.” Dripping with passion unlike any other of this era, Trey led the band in, easily, the most awe-inspiring version of their early opus since their return. An instant-classic that left more than a few jaws on the ground, this monumental “Hood” set the tables, however, for the jam that would steal the show like the Hamburgler pocketed quarter-pounders.

Re-emerging after a fall tour of relative inactivity, Phish took “Backwards Down the Number Line” further than ever before, launching into, perhaps, the defining jam of the opening two shows. After the band noodled out of the song’s structure, Phish shifted gears into a menacing milieu of secret-agent, spy-mission Phish drama. Without having a chance to hear the show before writing this, I can safely say that this excursion provided the unquestionable centerpiece of the show. Drifting into the same new sound that emerged from “Light” and “Ghost” in Chicago, Phish furthered their leap into the future with this clandestine journey. Check this out with all due speed, as I’m sure I’ll be revisiting this one in writing before too long. Spilling into “Twenty Years Later” in a reprise of the sequence that highlighted SPAC’s ’09 summer closer, Phish merged the two songs of Joy into a concentrated dose of musical psychedelia.

6.12.10 (M.Stein)

After a hearty exhale following this non-stop opening hour of the set, the band took a moment, preparing for what was next. After some clear communication between Trey and Page, in which Page looked ready and willing, if not a bit overwhelmed, Phish launched into John Lennon’s “Instant Karma!” Coming out of the furthest corner of left field, and sounding incredibly authentic to the original, the band opened the door to a brand new cover that will surely work its way into rotation this summer. Fishman’s replication of the strapping, hard-edged drumbeat gave the song its genuine sound, steering away from his usual intricate drum patterns. But the clear hero of the moment was Page McConnell, who absolutely slayed John Lennon’s vocal part, replicating both his tone and intonation, spot on. While the debut remained as the straight song, I wouldn’t doubt if Phish began to jam out of the “Instant Karma’s” unique textures before too long. A uniting song that fits the spirit of Phish 3.0, this comes as a welcome addition to the band’s ever-expanding repertoire.

And putting a stylistic ass-slap to their Saturday night set, Phish broke out the old-school funk in “Oh Kee Pah >Suzie.” And with time for one last scorcher, the band instead chose to split time between a gorgeous rendition of “Waste” and a gargantuan, snarling take on “Character Zero.” Taking their mainstream theme right on through the set-closer, Phish continued to slay their anthems like Super Mario taking out dragons. Crushing each and every piece in their path, Phish left a torrid wake in the Cleveland region as they made the circus made its way through a driving rain towards Hershey. And that was just the second set!

6.12.10 (M.Stein)

Phish opened the show in the intimate pavilion with another debut cover – The Band’s “Look Out, Cleveland.” A thematic table-setter, this cover of the one-and-done variety, follows a handful of songs that Phish has used to honor specific geographical locales. Phish followed the The Band’s Americana feel, with a slice of their own in the slowly stretching “Ocelot.” Moving into more delicate, bluesy textures, this jam evoked the sounds of The Grateful Dead, a direction the piece seems to be moving. Again using the first set as a showcase for creative, succint jams, alongside “Ocelot,” Phish also shredded a “Stash” before dropping Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “The Ballad of Curtis Loew” for the second time in the 3.0 era, and, also, the second time since 1993. But the unquestionable high point of the first set came after time turned elastic in the long-overdue ressurection of “Mike’s Groove.”

6.12.10 (M.Stein)

Crushing “Mike’s Song” with a militant musical escapade, Trey looked as if he had reacquainted himself with the ethos of the song, wearing his dramatic motions on his sleeve while demonically setting up shop. The band joined in the heavy hitting improv, which ironically didn’t surpass in time many of 2009’s versions, but the density of ideas was unparalled and anything but formulaic. And even more spectacular than “Mike’s,” for the first time in eons, Phish took “Weekapaug” by the jugular and created a truly original jam. Feeling his mojo, Trey stepped to the front of stage with a swagger with spitting leads of fury in what was nothing short of a modern revelation for the song.

After only two nights of summer, Phish creativity has been staggering, not only in their cosmic communication, but also in their show-sculpting. Bringing a completely fresh feel to the table, Phish has begun the process of reinvention once again. And things have never looked so promising…

I: Look Out Cleveland*, Ocelot, Water in the Sky, Stash, The Ballad of Curtis Loew, Sample in a Jar, Time Turns Elastic, Mike’s Song > I Am Hydrogen > Weekapaug Groove

II: Rock and Roll > Harry Hood > Backwards Down the Number Line > Twenty Years Later, Instant Karma*, The Oh Kee Pa Ceremony > Suzy Greenberg > Waste, Character Zero

E: The Squirming Coil

*debut

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644 Responses to “Blossoming”

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  1. Gavinsdad Says:

    More than a few big boys hanging in the air for tonite….tweez, yem, slave….but also waves, scents, ocean sing…lotta ways for the boys to play it tonite. Game on.

  2. c0wfunk Says:

    laid down last night for a “nap” at 8pm and woke up this morning at 7 – must have been pretty friiggin tired!

    After listening to the first night, I’m slightly skeptical about this “new sound” thing but if nothing else 6 months has been good for mr miner’s reviews – because he’s got a fresh pair of ears and is hearing things anew again. Good for our side for sure..

  3. c0wfunk Says:

    oh – I can’t wait to hear page sing instant karm! That sounds fantastic 🙂 Hopefully that appears again later in the tour..

  4. BrandonKayda Says:

    Awesome review Miner

    I’m so pumped for tonight!!!

  5. c0wfunk Says:

    karmA

  6. GorgingHeavily Says:

    PHALL ME PHALL ME PHALL ME
    WEST ME WEST ME WEST ME
    PHALL ME PHALL ME PHALL ME

    hear me?

  7. Matso Says:

    Good to hear that last night was a solid effort as well (not the type of show where you can tell from the setlist, especially with the Sample/TTE in the first set…)

    But what about BTB Fest???

  8. GorgingHeavily Says:

    what about it?

  9. Baxter Says:

    Thanx for the Phish. CAN’T WAIT FOR EAST COAST!!

  10. Mr.Palmer Says:

    Gdad- a Big Hershey Twist tonight for you. I’d wish you a great time but i know you will regardless.

    Looking forward to hearing last night. Funny how it seemed Neemor, Robear, and AW comments last night seemed a bit tempered. Miner, on the other hand, loved it. Can’t wait to make up my own mind.

    Safe travels to those driving to PA.

  11. DukeOfLizards Says:

    Sunday night commitment evaporated, Hershey here I come. What has the ticket situation been like on the ground so far?

  12. Willowed Says:

    I hope all you BTBers had a blast. I am sure it was a great meet up!!
    Thanks for the review Miner!

  13. Billy Breathes Says:

    Thank You Mr Miner. You are one amazing individual.

    Cannot wait to hear the…

    RR–>Hood–>BDNTL

    Phish 4.0

  14. BrandonKayda Says:

    I kind of wish Trey would retire his octave-shifter pedal thing (“Whaling”, or whatever it is). I mean it sounds good in some places (“Light” from last night), but it seems to mess up some peaks of songs – Reba, for example.

  15. Matso Says:

    I noticed the whale on the Ghost from Chi as well, but thought it was used in a good way. Agree though that it’s hit and miss on Reba’s (last year’s JB Reba is an example when it worked) and most songs. Hope it’s not as prominent as last June.

  16. Willowed Says:

    Hey Boys,
    Hood stream is streaming the show now. Just started Look out Cleveland. Sounds great.
    Hust a heads up!!

  17. GOOCHY Says:

    Listening back to the boards from last night. Instant Karma is great! Go Page!

  18. Willowed Says:

    Ocelot just started…That Look Out Cleveland was a fun little jam!!

  19. BrandonKayda Says:

    Willowed – I’m on the Sample right now, pretty tight show so far.

  20. c0wfunk Says:

    listening back to beginning of set 2 chi today as my wife hadn’t heard it yet I was wondering when the whaling comments would surface 😉

    As with any new toy it’s finding it’s place, I like the way he’s integrating it with his loops now, there’s a spot in light where he does this to great effect. Ghost has a bit of this in there too..

    I think any musician knows the feeling of overusing their new toy as they try and figure out how it can do all the cool things you hope it will do, and then eventually that toy becomes just another tool in the arsenal and finds its place. A fun example is when Jerry first got his wah wah pedal in 71 or so, wah wah sugar mags were pretty amusing!

    I stand by my ‘nothing different going on here’ comments – night 1 is great phish don’t get me wrong, but as my wife said “they sound more like phish than ever”… I am glad everyone seems renewed and refreshed though as that can only mean good things ahead.

    just heard caspian > horse for the first time and that’s a really nice little passage. I wonder if everyone likes this caspian more because it’s abbreviated? Seriously though, there’s some nice interplay going on there. I also agree with whoever said horse>silent seems to have gotten the bugs out. Seems like they’ve all been really practicing these composed sections, whether together or apart. Bowie sounded like Trey has been doing nothing for the last 6 months other than practicing that descending riff over and over again. Spot on accurate. The harmonics work in Maze was spot on like I haven’t heard in a really, really long time.

  21. Willowed Says:

    I agree 100% BK
    This stream is super crispy!! Nothing better than a cup of coffee….slovania vs. nigeria in the background and Live Phish from last night cranking out of my computer.
    Today is a good day!!

  22. BrandonKayda Says:

    Yeah second set from Chicago goes pretty deep in Limb/Light->Maze/Wolfman’s/Ghost

    I can’t wait to hit up the Mike’s Groove from last night, from memory (stream) that Weekapaug got out there a little bit. As did many jams in set II.

  23. BrandonKayda Says:

    On TTE now, very crisp and well-rehearsed

    This is probably one of the most difficult compositions they have written for sure

  24. Willowed Says:

    I am on Water in the Sky.

  25. BrandonKayda Says:

    Melody, shelter in the darkness, take hold of me now…

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