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”

  1. kayatosh Says:

    6/15 great three songs to start. KDF is a keeper. and slave is real pretty.

  2. DaNcInG fOoL Says:

    @BK are you going to both MPP shows? i find that anything less than 2 shows at a time isn’t enough, so if you’re going to one show knowing you’re going to one the next day two you are going to have the time of your life

  3. gavinsdad Says:

    i never even saw the band at Hershey. just heard em.

  4. JP Says:

    just listened to all of Chicago – some definite highlights and overall strong playing – but to these ears, just another quality show in a huge file of quality shows – nothing really stood out as something I have to hear again and again…

    seems like i am in the minority on this one tho

    a little surprised that Miner is so impressed with the first 4 shows actually, not that they are not well-played shows (and of course, always different being there and what’s not to like?) – but will they stand out looking back at all of 2010? seems unlikely

    that said, it is great to see the boys having fun and playing so well technically and i know for some, this style of show is perfecto

  5. gavinsdad Says:

    fool: BK won’t make the 2nd MPP show cause his head will have popped off at the 1st.

  6. angryjoggerz Says:

    SPAC sounds like a drag.

  7. DaNcInG fOoL Says:

    that’s a shame

  8. kayatosh Says:

    wow, you got to want it to go to SPAC. i tip my cap to all you doing SPAC.

    it’s a money grab. municipal and state governments have never been in worse shape financially.

  9. angryjoggerz Says:

    Though, I am sure the actual show will be ill.

  10. Mr.Palmer Says:

    GD- you are killing me with those Hartford tickets sitting in Wycoff, nj. 10 minutes from my house. Are they good seats?

  11. leo weaver Says:

    no joke gdad. i’d still like to see his first official “phish grin”

  12. BrandonKayda Says:

    Trust me @Gavins, I am having trouble sleeping already 🙂 It is really starting to set in that I am actually seeing them 2 times in the next 11 days.

    If my 6/26 tickets will get here already, then we are set 🙂 Seems with every single show this tour they are getting hotter and hotter.

    Stoked

  13. Uncle Ebeneezer Says:

    wow jtran, just wow

  14. HarryHood Says:

    There is one that about this summer that I can say for sure….. THIS Hood is the best Hood you’ll see.

  15. albert walker Says:

    not trying to be a dick jp

    just wonderin actually

    what first set from 09 do you think is as hot as that shit from Chicago?

    that has a 1, 2 combo of Light > Maze and Ghost > Timber with a ragin Antelope late in the 2nd

    it’s up there with 12/29 for my favorite show I caught in the 22 or so in 3.0

    maybe I’m crazy
    I think it’s pretty fuckin hot

  16. kayatosh Says:

    “but will they stand out looking back at all of 2010? seems unlikely”

    maybe so maybe not. that’s the future and the futures not there.

    what we do know is that these 4 shows stand out among all of 2009 (phish 3.0). and blow away 2003-2004 (phish 2.0).

  17. phoammhead Says:

    @HH

    The best HH I’ll see this summer is the one in front of me, . . . hopefully again!

    I’m with you.

    Listenin’ to Taste right now – ragin’, period!!!

  18. Uncle Ebeneezer Says:

    First set chicago was super dope, just wish the people around would pipe down

  19. albert walker Says:

    but yeah I’ve said I ‘m not ready to judge this band till new years 2010

    that’s why I can’t listen to summer

    I think the music is that much better in late fall Miami, and early 2010

    shit is really getting noticeably better tour to tour so it’s natural the new shows should sound better IMO

  20. leo weaver Says:

    do it mr. p!

  21. kayatosh Says:

    yeah, aw. but it was ghost>limb

    ac/dc bag from last night is choice. interesting.

  22. HarryHood Says:

    Re: SPAC

    I’m going to see a concert, not visit a state park. It kind of annoys me that I have to get raped by the Park Police while I’m walking into or out of a concert.

  23. willowed Says:

    Mr. P…..you must do it…..you can do it………..Please do it!!!

  24. willowed Says:

    Don’t worry hood……We will find a nice little bar near the downtowner on sunday…Tie on a massive buzz and walk to the show. 1 mile!!

  25. HarryHood Says:

    I’m not sure if they really pay attention to these things or not, but I tend to think that if the SPAC Super Troopers pull off what they are prepping for, the band would be slightly annoyed. They and their fans are bringing in a ton of revenue just by being there. I think they care about their fans enough to not want them to be subjected to body cavity searches because they were sipping a brew on the way into the venue

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