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. HarryHood Says:

    I’ve got a Pav both nights…. I just wanted to see who was joining me for the balcony party.

  2. phoammhead Says:

    I can actually understand you – I’ve got a couple of draws around the house with ticket stubs from way back . . . I just recommend you keepin’ it on the LD and not canvass after a show. 🙂

  3. Mitch Says:

    jtran,
    there is a whole section dedicated to tickets if you head to phishposters.com
    someone on there will sell them but you may pay 10-20 bucks which is kinda like buying the ticket again…

  4. willowed Says:

    I truly can’t put into words how great this place is. I know I say this a lot and it may get old…but you guys are truly special.

    You ever have that conversation with a friend…..They are like…why do you need to see 7 shows in a row?

    I try to explain….it’s tough.

    you guys get it.

    live in the moment…embrace life

    The older I get, the more i value my time (I am only 34) but you know what I mean.

  5. Mr.Palmer Says:

    I’m balcony both nights. Sunday i’m solo in sect. 15. dead center

  6. willowed Says:

    I would love to be in the balcony. I heard that is the spot.

  7. jdub Says:

    @Hood, you have had such a harrowing experience since then and still maintain such a positive outlook. Kudos to you. I look forward to chilling with you at SPAC on the eve of another life changing event… The birth of your first child. Life is only good. It’s just our outlook that gets mangled.

    And sorry for all the life coach shit that I spout, that’s just who I am.

  8. DaNcInG fOoL Says:

    has phish ever covered the band before???

  9. willowed Says:

    Jdub……evertime you post…you have an impact on me. I love your outlook.
    I am 4 glasses of Pinot deep….sorry if i am getting sappy.

    I am not an angry person…hence my gooey posts tonight.

  10. HarryHood Says:

    Since we are sharing……..

    I really hate having to shave two days in a row….. Even when I’ve got a job, I’m on the every other day plan. Two interviews two days in a row = having to shave two consecutive days. If I ever won a significant amount of money, the only thing that I would change about my life is that I would shave with a fresh razor EVERY time! No re-uses. I’d throw them away after one use like Nelly does with a pair of Air Force Ones.

  11. ChefBradford Says:

    Willowed, nobody at work can understand at all why I’d want to take a vacation to see 4 shows in a row in a couple of weeks.Even if they understood that it’s an entirely new experience every time, they still wouldn’t get it
    It really confused people when I drove thousands of miles for IT and Coventry

  12. Jtran Says:

    Thanks Mitch

  13. willowed Says:

    today is the start of my week and a half vacation Chef. I am off until next monday.
    Everyone keeps asking me where I am going? I keep telling them a 5 night run a phish Hartford thru GW. They roll their eyes at me.

    They will never get it.

  14. DaNcInG fOoL Says:

    “you went to two phish shows? are you a groupie? did the band recognize that you were following them around?”

  15. Jtran Says:

    “Life is only good. It’s just our outlook that gets mangled.”

    Your second quotable line today for me jdub. Awesome outlook.

  16. willowed Says:

    Don’t they play the same songs? No they don’t.
    Even if they do they sound different.
    Does not compute.
    It never will.

  17. ChefBradford Says:

    ^yep, exactly. My kitchen crew is subjected to Phish every time I work, so…

    🙂

    I’m taking a week to catch the heat down here in the South; saving the rest of my vacation time this year in the hopes of some fall shows, but I’m not counting on anything close by

  18. phoammhead Says:

    Yeah, someone’s Mom asked me over the weekend if I was following around in some “groupie” – i told them yeah and smiled real big 😀

  19. Jtran Says:

    Haha df. My friend (who is actually coming with me to SPAC1 for lack of any other plans this weekend) asked me if I was a “groupie.” I said no. We talked more about my plans for the next couple weeks. She ended the conversation with, “you ARE a groupie”

  20. DaNcInG fOoL Says:

    haha

  21. phoammhead Says:

    I’m on Reba . . . thank God . . . 🙂

  22. HarryHood Says:

    @ Jdub

    With what life has throw at me since the start of this year, if I didn’t stay positive I’d throw in the towel…….. I didn’t know it was possible to have so much bad shit happen to a person at once. I’ve got a great family though, and some great friends. You guys included. I’ve looked at it as a learning experience and I can’t tell you how many times in the last few months that the kindness of others has litterally brought me to tears…….

    Personal story: Just before Mother’s Day, my mom shows up at my house to say hello. She knows that I’ve been getting by with my mortgage/bills, but she also knows that it’s a struggle. She hands me an envelope and says that it’s a little money so that I can take my girfriend to dinner for mother’s day. I resisted, but she insisted and I took it to humor her. We talked for a while and she left without ever saying another word about the envelope she gave me. I had set it down and didn’t open it until a while after she left. When I did get around to opening it, it had $500 in it. Now, that’s litterally more than she makes in a week….. I would be lying if I said that didn’t get the ol’ tears flowin…….. I know I’m biased cause it’s my mom, but that’s a wonderful woman.

  23. sneven Says:

    : : yawning drone : :

    daddy’s a happy feller, even on the road for work with a shitty work laptop 😉

    ((huggs to all))

  24. Mr.Palmer Says:

    We are a sick twisted bunch.

    I’ll see you guys @ SPAC, no hartford for me. Executive decision. I hope they tear that dump to the ground for you guys.

  25. gavinsdad Says:

    tail end of the hershey piper fishman shows off his stuff. nice stamina.

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