Chocolate Thunder

6.12.10 (M.Stein)

Phish added a large piece to their legacy in Hershey, Pennsylvania last night, throwing down a bass-led massacre in Chocolate City. Throughout two sets of pure Phish fire, Mike took center stage, leading the band through an array of creative jams in which Trey played noticeably more subtle, laid back offerings all night long. Boasting an enhanced creativity through more diverse playing, Trey helped sculpt a show that certainly upped the ante for the rest of the summer. With a bombastic second set and a stellar first, Phish capped the weekend with their strongest overall performance of this summer, which – although hard to believe – has only just begun!

As the sun shone though the clouds of the early evening, Phish came on stage flying high with a groovy greeting of “Jibboo.” Entering the song’s candy grooves, Mike’s presence was immediately felt as his thumping lines bounced though the the wide open field like a kangaroo in the outback. Setting the tone for the show, both Trey wove his lines around his cohort’s leads, eventually bringing the jam to a searing peak of his own. But following the late-’90s TAB transplant, the rest of the first set took on a pronounced old-school persona. While barreling through a roaring, yet intricate, “Chalkdust,” it became very apparent only three shows into tour, regardless of what songs Phish is playing these days, they are simply destroying them all. With a tightness that sounds foreign after the late-’90’s groove era and post-hiatus’ more abstract improv, seeing Phish 2010 is like seeing a renewed band– a bandone that wants to be exactly where it is once again and is having a blast doing IT.

6.12.10 (M.Stein)

The retro-vibe continued with a massive first set “Fluffhead,” showcasing the the pin-point accuracy of Phish’s chops and the intense tension and release that comes along with such precision. Infused with a undeniable urgency, “Fluff” illustrated that the band can once again toy with energy like children in a sandbox, manipulating music as if it were a tangible object. After a seriously cathartic peak, the band dropped into the now-rare “Funky Bitch,” annihilating a version that brought the crowd energy to ferocious first-set heights. From this early point in the show, it became wholly evident that Phish was feeling the flow, likening Loony Tunes’ Tasmanian Devil, taking out anything and everything that stood in their path.

6.12.10 (L.Neuhaus)

Phish continued their scorching opening sequence with the most engaging “Runaway Jim” since their comeback. While remaining within the song’s structure, the entire band oozed creativity as they chugged through the jam. Trey offered delicate licks as opposed to face-melting leads, a pattern that held true for much of the night’s music. This “Jim” proved that the little doggie can still inspire greatness, something it hadn’t yet done this go-round. The show’s only relative lull came in the five-song sequence of “NICU,” “Horn,” “It’s Ice,” “Bouncin” and “Sparkle,” but Phish came right back, punctuating their spirited frame with a demonically abstract “Split Open and Melt.” A version that grew outwards as quickly as it pushed forward, the band, collectively, built a hypnotizing, discordant gem that saw Trey favor tonal bends and washes of psychedelia rather than forceful linear leads. A version that needed a re-listen to truly digest, Phish tapped into a demented realm of darkness as night fell upon setbreak.

Building on the well-crafted second sets of the past two nights, Phish came out in Hershey’s with a musical stanza that flowed impeccably. Lacing together several of their “greatest hits” with creative bass-led improv that just never stopped, Phish crushed a classic frame from the opening note to the last. First the setlist – “Drowned > Tweezer > Twist, Piper > Free, Velvet Sea, YEM” – booyakasha! Or as MC Hammer once sang, “Can’t touch this!” And the playing within matched the absurdity of the visual setlist, one imaginative piece after another.

6.12.10 (L.Neuhaus)

The most expansive jam of the evening came right out of the gates in a multi-faceted jaunt through “Drowned.” Out of the jam’s shredding rock textures, Phish slowed it down into a heart-tugging segment of transcendent psychedelia. And, even in this mellow realm, the band molded their experimentation with Mike at the center of the music. Moving through this ethereal palette as if a daydream, the band soon pushed into a series of lively percussive grooves. Moving in the direction of a dance party, the band wound the jam directly into the first “Tweezer” of 2010. Entering a series of dense liquid patterns, Phish molded a heavy space-aged sequence that seemed that it might launch into the stratosphere. But, ironically, when the dust settled, “Tweezer” stood out as the least exploratory jam of the second set, remaining a showcase for Gordon’s thunder, while Trey spat nasty licks, bringing a snarling element to mix.

6.12.10 (L.Neuhaus)

Following an extended build, the band settled into an ambient section that soon segued  into “Twist.” With some of the best interplay between Trey and Mike all night, it was a relief to see Phish take”Twist” for a significant ride once again. With shorter, staccato-esque licks, Trey darted in and around Mike’s heavily effected basslines, creating a musical game of cat and mouse. Boasting sizzling chops, the entire band moved with intent, collectively manifesting a slamming piece of interlocked dance music. It seems that each time Phish busts out a song right now, they are topping any previous 3.0 version, and this pattern certainly held true with “Twist.” And then, after a momentary pause, Phish breathed life into the year’s first “Piper” –  an immediately exciting proposition, after the song’s stellar 2009. On this night, the band chugged right out of the searing composed jam into one of the night’s most compelling adventures. With a take-no-prisoners attitude, the band careened into a rollicking case of musical density, following on the heels of Miami’s standout excursion. This “Piper” continued pushing the ceiling for the piece’s modern potential, and became another vivid illustration of everything right in current Phish universe.

Splashing down in “Free,” the time seemed ripe for Phish to take the song to town once again. But in the end, “Free” seems like a song whose purpose has changed permanently from jam vehicle to landing pad in this era, and some things we just must accept. Following the relentless opening hour of the set, Phish used “Velvet Sea” to set up a closing “YEM” that brought the house to its knees with its laid back funk fantasy. Again taking a minimalist approach, Trey sat way back, issuing swanky tickets for Gordon’s multiple bass violations. An example of what “YEM” can be when given the tender loving care it deserves, this version just built on the strong Fall ’09 renditions, providing an indelible exclamation point on a evening of modern legend.

With three shows down and fifteen to go, the sky is once again the limit for Phish shows, a place where the extraordinary music once again happens with alarming regularity. Even though the temperatures can’t get much hotter on Summer Tour 2010, the mercury of the music is rising faster than ever. Look Out, Portsmouth, there’s a storm coming through.

I: Gotta Jibboo, Chalk Dust Torture, Fluffhead, Funky Bitch, Runaway Jim, NICU, Horn, It’s Ice, Bouncing Around the Room, Sparkle, Split Open and Melt

II: Drowned > Tweezer > Twist, Piper > Free, Wading in the Velvet Sea, You Enjoy Myself

E: Bold As Love


6.12.10 - Blossom Music Center (L.Neuhaus)

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1,428 Responses to “Chocolate Thunder”

  1. sumodie Says:

    I heard a rumor that Paul was back on the board. Is this true?


    Pretty sure that rumor started from a yemblog tweet -as far as I know it’s Garry Brown

  2. Mitch Says:

    WOW! wawaweewow this is some good light!

    i’ll take a whale call for a light. i dont hate on it. and i love how page gets his space noises going. then trey comes back in with little guitar picking. this is the type of phish that i wanted to develop in 09 and here it is in a more mature form. hellz yeah take me on a spaceship ride.

  3. Mr. Completely Says:

    someone just finally reminded whoever is doing the LP mixes that the band actually does have a bass player in it…he’s not just there for the footbell and the head-bobs, crucial as those may be

    now we just need to keep dropping the Page hints

    his presence ranges from the miniscule to the moderately ok but even the B3 never has any punch

    not hatin’, the boards are hugely improved

    just keepin it real

  4. kayatosh Says:

    mike hits the funk pocket w/ fish in 6/13 YEM. the way they’re playin in YEM restores my complete confidence in this band and their ability to do great things and amaze us to no end.

    They lost no momentum from late 2009. And got better, especially fishman. Mike is way out front and kicking ass. Page plumped up his body and his playin, and Trey is laying back and being much more patient and complimentary with his contribution. This is potent phish.

  5. Mr. Completely Says:

    I agree Mitch

    interesting points earlier about how this song can go different directions (e.g. this one vs. MSG vs. the Gorge for instance)

  6. Gavinsdad Says:

    Peeps still fired up. I like this. ’09 under our belts. Tour in motion and trending toward damn good. It’s funny to see what peoes thoughts are now that we’ve allowed a year for the band to get their sea legs.

    During the gorge Zero there was collective fist pumping. Looked like a motörhead show.

  7. Mitch Says:

    …and right into maze. these soundboards are money. thanks for listening to all the complainers comments PHiSH!

  8. jdub Says:

    Blossom Number Line is just wonderfuly psychedelic. Trey just pulls you in with his spiraling guitar work, Fishman and Gordon keep you on point, and Page gives us the sonic backdrop; while preparing for the drop off. Then they just melt your brain with cosmic textures and pulsating rhythms. Love when the music transends an easily described form. Miner excells at putting these moments into words. So good.

  9. BrandonKayda Says:

    Onto the Chi-Town Bowie now. Can’t wait to dig into this jam!

  10. Mr. Completely Says:

    what a lovely Hood

    even if you’ve seen Phish a whole hell of a lot it should still hit you when Hood is really going, it is just majestic when it’s working and this one is at that level where it really soars

    just another piece in the puzzle – things are getting back to how they should be – things are just not quite right without a signature Hood to go back to and now we have one

    all is right with the world

    phish is melting faces and Hood is a centerpiece jam

  11. Ocecat Says:

    hello all, cant wait to listen to hershey. 2010 certainly sounds promising so far. not a regular poster but have been reading since the return last year. sounds like a special community you guys have built here.

    this will be a long-shot but i am looking for a ride to portsmouth. i am currently close to harrisonburg, va and i’d be willing to help with gas. if anyone can help, please contact me:

  12. Mitch Says:

    you wanna talk about things in the right place? can i get an cheers on this maze?

    they are making me feel like my hearts gonna bounce out of me and im not even at the show. make em say uuuuuunnnggghhhh na na na na

  13. BrandonKayda Says:

    @Mr C

    The first minute or so of that Hood jam is just Mike and Fishman building foundation. That Ohio Hood is so delicate, builds ever so slowly. It’s a keeper to be sure

  14. punkmug Says:

    @Mitch. That Maze was great.

  15. DaNcInG fOoL Says:

    sweet mike uses that little line from the weekapaug intro near the end of drowned. good stuff

  16. BrandonKayda Says:

    This Chitown Bowie goes into a major key jam for a little bit – really intricate jamming here boys!

  17. Mr. Completely Says:

    yeah MAze is kinda the flipside of Hood

    if things are right with Phish, Hood should make your soul fly, but Maze should freak you right the fuck out if it catches you right.

    this one could do that.

    nothing weaker than a toothless Maze

  18. Litteringand Says:

    cheers mitch cheers

  19. Mr. Completely Says:

    yeah brandon I caught that change

    will go back for 2nd listen after this numberline

    intricate is a good word for it

  20. sumodie Says:

    Couch tour over for me -packing for the first of Phish’s Leg1 Tuesday triumvirate, nTelos! (better not forget to print my ticket)

    Leaving at the crack of dawn -only 529 miles from Amherst MA. Piece of cake.

    Haven’t gotten all the way through Hershey yet, but that’ll have to wait (no ipod input in the freakin’ car). No matter. Very excited by the AUDs I heard of Toyo and Blossum -PH evolution, especially on the sticks.

    There’s no room in my car for expectations -only hope to hear some fresh cosmic PH that’s pushing boundaries.

  21. Mr. Completely Says:

    good luck @ocecat!

  22. voopa Says:

    Can’t get over the sound on this Hersey SBD…rivals the LP series. I think Fishman’s snare sound may be the biggest difference. Well, that and the fact that everything seems perfectly mixed…kudos, post-prod guys!

  23. kayatosh Says:

    6/13 YEM — tasters’ choice.

    spinnin me some jibboo now and then i’m gonna revisit first 3 tunes of set II 6/12. next up will be another revisit of chicago set II. still need to respin bowie from that show too. they gave us some pearls.

  24. joe Says:

    safe journy sumo. sounds like an epic mind-clearing roadtrip…flying solo?

  25. sumodie Says:

    Been busy entering BBer cell numbers into my contact list for SPAC. The challenge will be if I can remember their real names in order to call them.

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