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”

  1. Willowed Says:

    Ok now it’s time to get down to business. Come on Stash…drop the heat!!

  2. Matso Says:

    @cowfunk –
    I didn’t mean to get the whale discussion going again. 😉

    I completely agree with you about finding the place for it. I thought by Summer Pt 2 last year Trey had found that place (ie. a bit like the leslie speaker in fall 95/summer 96 – used for emotional effect at crucial moments, but not the basic sound for a particular jam). I think it works better on the Chi Ghost than on the Light, and in both cases, better than last year this time!

  3. zzyzx Says:

    “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”

    NOT EVERY SONG IS IMPROVED WITH A JAM!!!!

    This is what ruined the Phil Lesh Quintet for me, thinking things like, “Brown Eyed Women is a great song, space jams are cool, so clearly BE Women would be even better with a space jam in the middle of it.”

    Some songs are meant to be what they are. Seeing how Page has played IK with both Vida Blue and PBS and hasn’t seen the need to throw in a pointless jam, odds are this is going to remain in the 4-5 minute range and yet – imagine this – people are still going to love it!

  4. BrandonKayda Says:

    Time Turns Elastic is actually a great song…the jam out of it is real nice too.

    There I said it 😉

  5. c0wfunk Says:

    damn zzyzx thank you I agree 150%

  6. Willowed Says:

    I think the Whale Call is Trey’s way of letting his fingers catch up with his brain. ometimes the brin is 3-4 steps ahead of the fingers….They whale cll let’s them get back in sync again.
    Similar to when a person is talking and in mid sentee they say uuummmm to let their mouth catch up with their brain.
    Just my theory

  7. c0wfunk Says:

    bk same for you..

    look forward to hearing last nights’ TTE w/ this “new sound” 😉

    antelope! John Fishman!!! a little whale calling in the low part of antelope..

    diggin the show of life. Is this the one trey said he wrote at dinner w/ the dude of life?

  8. zzyzx Says:

    j3r – did you like my little pun at the end? 😉

  9. Willowed Says:

    BK
    I actually like the song. Heard it twice in 2009…both times I totally dug it.
    Then again…I’m one of those people that doesn’t sit for any song and never takes a pee break so I don’t miss a second of any jam.
    Call me crazy!

  10. BrandonKayda Says:

    Yeah @c0wfunk

    Tonight will be a rager for sure. I still can’t believe the boys are sounding this good first two nights of tour

  11. c0wfunk Says:

    beer is too expensive inside venues to need pee breaks imo .. if you can’t hold it for 90 minutes you may have some other problems!

  12. Willowed Says:

    imagine this….nice zzy
    You must have had your coffee this a.m.

  13. Willowed Says:

    Gordo and Fishman sound very “locked in” IMO.
    One brain four arms!!

  14. Willowed Says:

    Algeria Goooooaaaaalllllll

  15. BrandonKayda Says:

    onto Mike’s Song now

    Bring the heat!!!

  16. glennw Says:

    Mr Miner, thanks for your thoughtful and passionate reviews. Will they sustain this high level and build on the serious momentum they have created? I am looking forward to tonight’s adventure!

  17. c0wfunk Says:

    I believe wholeheartedly in the power of those 4-5 minute “group songs” to unite a crowd and a vibe. The best shows have a punctuation with a loving cup or a char 0 or something at the end that just sums it all up. Seems instant karma could have that power.

  18. Willowed Says:

    The USA needed these guys to tie 0-0. This sucks!!

  19. joe Says:

    slovenia goal – who knew they were green and yellow? confused

  20. BrandonKayda Says:

    So what’s your thoughts on the Stash @Willowed? I didn’t see anything that great in it, but then again it took a couple relistens to the Bowie and Reba from last night to fully appreciate them, so maybe that’s a part of it

  21. zzyzx Says:

    Willowed – then we’ll take care of business when we play them.

  22. BrandonKayda Says:

    Dark, Mike led groove right here. Page is deep in the clav

  23. Willowed Says:

    Slovenia is Green? Wow….I screwed that one up. I figured Slovenia was white….My bad
    That’s what happens when you are cranking Phish and the volume is down on the TV

  24. Willowed Says:

    By the way….Page’s voice has gone thru some major transformation. He always had agreat voice but for some reason it sounds great this tour!!

  25. BrandonKayda Says:

    Trey is just ripping this Mike’s to shreds. Unlike anything we’ve seen in 3.0. Very dark version. I think Mike’s will break out of it’s cage soon, seeing that Weekapaug already did

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