Songs of Summer

6.12.10 (Peek)

If you had told me before last night’s show that Phish wouldn’t play a song longer than ten minutes in the second set, I wouldn’t have believed you. Having featured open jamming in each of their first night of tour one would only expect the band to follow suit. If you had then told me that I would loved the show regardless of the glaring lack of exploration, I probably would have chuckled. But that is exactly what happened last night on the waterfront in Portsmouth, Virgina. Phish played an incredibly high-energy show from note one, but rather than a second set of flowing improvisation, the show resembled an intimate summertime recital for those at nTelos Pavilion. With a complete general admission seating policy, and a huge orchestra pit in front of the stage, security allowed anyone to go anywhere without restriction, creating a free-for-all party atmosphere for the notably undersized audience.

With the passion and intensity that Phish is playing right now, they can pull off a purely song-based show and still provide a phenomenal time for all – a clear step forward from last year when these type of shows often fell flat. While the quantity of jamming clearly places this show behind the other three in terms of listening intrigue, the live experience ranked right up there with all of them. With a first set that was equally, if not slightly more exciting than the second, the show never dragged, while often times approaching implosion with the combined energy bouncing around the tiny venue.

6.11.10 (S.LaBrasca)

Coming onstage on the coolest evening of tour, Trey immediately noticed a large “Tube” cut-out sign held by a fan in the middle of the floor. As soon as the crowd saw the sign catch Trey’s eye, everyone launched into collective “Tuuuuuuuube” chant. And the band was more than happy to oblige, altering their original plans for ballistic opener. Extending beyond most ’09 versions, the fast-paced dance jam quickly got the show bumping, and set up the likely planned opener, “Kill Devil Falls.” Then, dropping a bombshell, Phish gracefully entered a third-song “Slave.” Completely switching up the setlist with the earliest placement of the song since 1995 (10.14.95), the band built a patient version that shimmered in the daytime sun. Trey, Mike, and Page pirouetted their ideas around each others, narrating a triumphant tale as the show had barely begun.

But the no-brainer highlight of the first set – and the show – came late in the frame with the summer’s first “Bathtub Gin.” As Mike stood clearly out front leading the charge, the band slowly built an infectious pattern around his bulbous leads. Taking off like a thoroughbred hitting stride, the band came together in an explosion of groove, with Trey speckling searing phrases atop the ride. Taking his fluid leads to another level, Red took over the second part of the jam, carrying the band and audience to the straight to the mountaintop. In the only open jam of the night, the band hit a game-winner that will no doubt land on highlight reels of the first four shows of tour. Featuring a smoking, “My Friend, My Friend,” and a uneventful Tom Waits debut cover, “Cold Water,” Phish, again, kept things fresh last night, having still not repeated a song this summer.

6.12.10 (Peek)

If the theme of the first three second sets of summer have been craftsmanship and exploration, last night’s second half was defined by the level of energy Phish maintained throughout the frame. Beginning in promising fashion, a bombastic “Wilson” led off for “Seven Below,” a song that created more than a few interesting jams last year. It seemed a given that the band would use the song as a launchpad, however, the theme of the night, apparently, wasn’t experimentation. Instead, Phish blasted through a tight structured jam before dropping into “46 Days.” As the Phish left this song for a psychedelic swamp, it seemed that it would be the cosmic trampoline of the evening. But as the jam crawled through the bog to its deepest point, potentially on the brink of “2001,” Trey came in with a fairy tale melody that signaled the beginning of “Idea,” Mike’s newest contribution to the band.

6.12.09 (Peek)

An impressive song that boasts two separate jams, along with catchy verses that carry a distinctly Gordeaux/Green Sparrow vibe, “Idea” seems primed to be a vehicle for rhythmic escapades. The opening jam features a deep groove with Trey ripping licks over top- a sound similar to “Mr. Completely” with much bigger bass lines. The infectious groove saw Trey throw out several multi-note, licks proficiently darting up and down the fretboard. Following the second verse, Phish dropped into a jam underlined by more earnest funk. Page hopped on the clav, Trey began throwing down rhythm chops, Mike put on his envelope filter, and Fishman added a shimmering beat in what became a virtual Phish disco. Look out for this segment to bulge into some serious dance sessions this summer.

And speaking of dance sessions, Phish followed up “Idea” by breaking into a mid-set “2001.” Keeping things tight and to the point, the band spring-boarded into “Simple,” a seemingly odd combination that, if nothing else, kept the energy coursing through the pavilion. The “Simple” jam is a defining passage of summertime ever since Trey left his heart in the sublime solo at The Great Went. Thus this piece set the lite, summer vibe for the rest of the show which included “Joy,” “Taste” and “Theme” before closing with a randomly placed “A Day In the Life,” a song that usually follows much heavier music. The standout piece in this final segment came in a succinct, yet, poignant “Taste.”

6.11.10 (S.LaBrasca)

Capping a show defined by vitality with “First Tube” seemed incredibly appropriate, and the encore may have brought the evening to its highest peak. Trey used the song’s final plateau as a platform for an emotional monologue, carrying the peak beyond its former walls of dissonance into blistering leads. Closing the song with his famed Jedi act of raising his guitar to the gods, Earnest kept the audience enthralled until the very last drop.

After Wednesday off, Phish enters their home turf of New England where things will everything take on a whole new magnitude. With the first four under their belt, things are only gonna’ getting crazier from here. See you in Hartford!

I: Tube, Kill Devil Falls, Slave to the Traffic Light, Lawn Boy, Poor Heart, AC/DC Bag, The Moma Dance, My Friend My Friend, Cold Water*, Bathtub Gin, Stealing Time From The Faulty Plan

II: Wilson, Seven Below, 46 Days > Idea, Also Sprach Zarathustra > Simple > Joy, Taste, Theme from the Bottom, A Day in the Life

E: Heavy Things, First Tube

*debut, Tom Waits

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1,365 Responses to “Songs of Summer”

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  1. SillyWilly Says:

    Never been the first post!

    couldn’t sleep.

    still have that Tweezer reprise dangling out there, huh.

    and the cover extravaganza continues!

  2. beepaphone Says:

    Sounds like a fun show

    I’m a fan of the idea of the first set Slave. I love that song, but its usual late 2nd set placement has always left me with something to be desired. Coil too. Sad to end an entire show (sans encore) with the Page solo. Sure it’s great, but I would enjoy it more if there was another full set of music to be hyped about.

  3. beepaphone Says:

    how are the bug bites coming along

  4. SillyWilly Says:

    Im also pumped that a Mike song “Idea” made the rotation.

    Would love to see more Mike stuff.

  5. SillyWilly Says:

    There alright, beep.

    I did get bitten all over the place though.

  6. beepaphone Says:

    I hear ya. I got it bad this time around. So did my fiancee…her first run-in with chiggers. Those things suck.

    Night, all! (thats barkeep talk for ‘good morning’)

    On the positive note before I retire, a spark of hope and possibility has been lit for the Raleigh and Charlotte shows for me!!!

  7. SillyWilly Says:

    nice, beep!

    Hope that spark turns into a regular Phish phlame.

  8. Matso Says:

    “With the passion and intensity that Phish is playing right now, they can pull off a purely song-based show and still provide a phenomenal time for all – a clear step forward from last year when these type of shows often fell flat.”

    Well said Mr Miner – this is exactly what I want to hear! I’m so psyched for Friday, Saturday and Sunday and am trying not to leave for those shows with any sense of expectation (although after a dry spell of 6 years and hearing the first few nights of this tour, it’s hard not to have some hope that I might be blessed with something special). While coming home next Monday with some deep space exploration under my belt would feel great, what I really want is to be able to board the plane again with a big shit-eating grin on my face having had a phenomenally good time. I’ve seen shows in the past with that framework (Clifford Ball, for example, which by post-97 standards was arguably underjammed, but was two of the most fun shows I’ve ever seen) and would feel the trip was well-worth it if it happened again.

  9. SillyWilly Says:

    @Matso

    Im really excited for you, man!

    You’re gonna get that grin.

    You’ll feel it when you walk into the venue. There’s an energy surrounding the scene right now. The fans know it and the band knows it.

    2010 is special and Im glad you’re going to get to be a part of it

  10. Luther Justice Says:

    Miner has peaked my interest. Can’t wait to listen to this show at work today. I love that this band is unpredictable in a good way.

    Have a great day BB!

  11. [Not Tom] Marshall Says:

    Great show last night. Butters first words last night when we got in were “this feels like a 1993-sized audience – welcome to the future, welcome to the past.”

    Great hanging with him and BigJig and got to meet Sumodie as well. Also got to hook up a fellow Blackboarder with a ticket because I recognized him from his post yesterday.

    And in case anyone has ever wondered … Miner doesn’t write any notes during the show – no time to with all the mad dancing. I have no idea how he can write the reviews he does this way. No one can ever ask him “can you still have fun?”. Thank you Mr Miner!!

  12. SillyWilly Says:

    I wouldn’t expect anything less out of Miner.

    and @Marshall

    that sounds pretty crazy. You recognized a BBer from a post!?

    wild.

  13. SillyWilly Says:

    They’re showing a memorial to the Soweto protestors on ESPN right now.

    Watching this young man’s body be riddled with rubber bullets.

    fucking chilling.

  14. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    “we’re the all request band”

    nice.

    mornin’ all!
    this is going to be the longest day ever. I wanna get on the road, damn it!

  15. Luther Justice Says:

    Bad news Silly. The world’s largest Jesus statue got hit by lightning and burned down. I’m sure you saw it when traveling from Dayton to Cinci on I-75 during your UD years.

    But good news Silly. They have promised to bring the Jesus back bigger than ever.

  16. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    ^
    woot! It’s 4:20 somewhere, right? don’t think I’ve ever gotten the 4:20<strongAM post before…

  17. [Not Tom] Marshall Says:

    It was great being down close without a hassle. Miner’s writeup of Tube is spot on. Everyone could see that Trey was staring at the sign (literally a cut-out with each letter painted a different color). The audience reacted just as Miner writes, and voilà the band’s plans were rewritten. Very cool to be a part of.

  18. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    @auntie em
    how was the lot/scene/etc. there? I was reading a couple of local articles about their planning. curious if it went swimmingly.

  19. [Not Tom] Marshall Says:

    Portsmouth has a very small town feel to it. Wide sidewalks with lots of old historic buildings housing many beer-swilling halls. I didn’t see a parking lot. The entrance to the venue was literally three blocks away from my hotel and the Beir Garden. Very enjoyable. Very laid back. Must be the proximity of the water. If there was a shakedown street I didn’t see it.

  20. [Not Tom] Marshall Says:

    All the local establishments were very welcoming to the crowd.

  21. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    boon to the local economy and all of that, right?

  22. Gavinsdad Says:

    Glad to hear that you got a good first taste NTM. You’re doing the last 4 as well??

  23. Litteringand Says:

    Disclaimer-I am not a hater BUT

    I am really having a hard time with 4-5 min Tubes and 2001’s
    Knowing what I know about those songs and what their potential is, its hard to get behind them. It’s like dry humping vs sex.

  24. BrandonKayda Says:

    Hey everybody!

    Can’t wait to listen to this show today, both sets look hot

  25. [Not Tom] Marshall Says:

    Yep. Last night has me primed for the southern run (although I’m still not sure I’ll be able to manage all four without dragging – maybe I’ll skip out on the 3rd).

    Can’t wait to relisten. Last night was like a great mix tape. Loved hearing Slave early like that. Loved Gin. Loved Taste.

    Fishman is on his game – without a doubt.

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