Standard Fare

Official SPAC 6/20 Pollock

After setting the table for a huge Sunday night closer at SPAC, Phish went the other way, playing a song-based show that contained barely any creativity. After an exciting opening frame with several summer bust-outs, one wasn’t wrong to think the band might come back with one of their most engaging frames of tour. But Phish pulled out of upstate New York after a choppy second set that contained their least engaging playing of tour. While maintaining their energy and tightness, Phish took no risks in a energetic show that was heavy on the setlist, but, at times in the second set, straight up boring.

Opening the weekend’s final stanza with “Carini,” the band seemed to be on the brink of launching into an evil exploration, only to pull up well short, wrapping up the jam at its deepest point for “Mango Song.” A pairing that worked like oil and water, the band aborted a psychedelic mission for some light summer music, and the pairing carried no cohesion whatsoever. And after “Mango Song,” the band sent a signal loud and clear with “Wilson,” that this set would be about fun songs and not about interesting improvisation.

6.12.10 (L.Neuhaus)

The only significant jam in the entire show came in “Drowned,” a song that Phish has beaten to death since their comeback. Here we are in Summer 2010, and the big jams of the last two nights have been “Rock and Roll” and “Drowned.” Wasn’t that last year? Containing jams so similar in contour, why would Phish choose to feature “Drowned” to the exact same audience who watched them shred apart a much more impressive “Rock and Roll” the night before? As the band launched into “Saratoga Jam #2” they entered hackneyed musical territory, revving up a set of generic percussive grooves that paled in comparison to several segments just like it over the past three nights. When Phish actually tried pushing themselves outside their comfort zone, the last few minutes of “Drowned” became magical; but magic would hardly be the theme of the night.

6.11.10 (S.LaBrasca)

The band did moved gracefully from “Drowned” into “Swept > Steep,” playing the same composed jam that was debuted in Miami, before paying homage to the veritable police-state that overtook SPAC this weekend with “Makisupa.” Making lyrical references to the venue within the song, the band magnified the silly spirit of the set. Unfortunately, while the band was busy making jokes amidst uneventful reggae, precious time clicked off their show. When “Makisupa” ended, it was clear that set’s next segment would be its last, and I, for one, expected at least one interesting jam. But instead, Phish spun their greatest-hit singles of “Piper > 2001 > YEM,” all of which were extremely pedestrian versions. While “2001” held up to its current, five-minute standard, and the versions of “Piper” and “YEM” were generic as they come. Maybe this glossy, jam-less set worked for the masses, but not for me. At times I found myself completely bored, wondering when they were gonna’ play “Ghost” again. But hey, you can’t win ’em all, and with the family atmosphere for Father’s Day, the vibe was one of enjoyment, not of musical seriousness. Take it for what it is, I suppose.

6.18.10 (K.Lindner)

The first set provided more earnest excitement than the second, as its outstanding playing seemed to foreshadow something huge. Bust outs of “Brother,” “Back on the Train,” “Undermind,” “Cities,” “Roggae,” and “Sleep Again” speckled the opening stanza with excitement. The highlights of these summer debuts came in the searing “Undermind” jam and the stunning rendition of “Roggae.” A standard “Antelope” capped the set, setting the plate for the big second half that never happened. In one other first set note, Trey invited long-time friend, TAB bassist, and local, Tony Markelis, to the stage to sit-in for “Jibboo,” a song he co-wrote. With Mike on rhythm guitar, this guest spot resulted as most do – decent. Unable to replicate their normal dynamic, the usually high peak of the song fell a bit flat.

All in all, SPAC’s conclusion didn’t hold up to the other shows of tour. Trumped by the jamming in the weekend’s three previous second sets, last night’s final frame served as the Northeast denouement rather than its peak. Sure the band played some big songs, but they did little to nothing with any of them. Let’s stash this one away and move on to Great Woods.

I: Brother*, AC/DC Bag, Back on the Train, Undermind, Cities, Gotta Jibboo**, Roggae, Sleep Again, Lawn Boy, Run Like an Antelope

II: Carini > The Mango Song, Wilson, Drowned > Swept Away > Steep > Makisupa Policeman, Piper > 2001 > You Enjoy Myself

E: Frankenstein

*Band members’ children in a tub on stage. Happy Father’s Day!
**Tony Markellis on bass and Mike on a second guitar

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1,335 Responses to “Standard Fare”

  1. purplehumpbackwhale Says:

    i havent read any of the comments from the day. too high to read. i was going nuts having a blast listening to the stream of the second set last night. i thought the boys weretght. the drowned jam, althought ANOTHER drowned jam, was some POCKET work between fishman and mike. mike especially was exloratory. it was funny to see the silly side of the boys but they still brought the funk and mike was slapping a lot throughout the whole show (tour).

    i thought it was a great show. sorry miner didnt feel the same. its so personal

  2. Steve Dolley Says:

    Maybe it’s time for Benjy to start seeing less shows. Maybe he got hold of a bad lot burrito or didn’t get enough sleep Saturday. I’ve been seeing and cheering on Phish since they played in my (our) living room in 1985, and I thought Sunday was terrific. Not exploratory, in the sense of what some fans call Type II jams. but, like Saturday, it was extremely high-energy, tight, rocking and engaged. Everyone I saw in the pavillon, from young noobs to jaded oldsters llike me, was getting down hard. Other than a 30-minute trance-funk Ghost (hey I love those too), I don’t know what else you could want from this show. Maybe time to get back off that train Mr. Miner.

  3. grateful ron Says:

    While I am quite sure that I go to the same shows as Mr. Miner, I am not sure that we see them the same way. Maybe he is too spun on 3 or 4 hits of strong CA “L” or maybe he has a fundamental misunderstanding of a great show, either way I would like to remind all of those of you that were not there that this show was top notch.

    From the opening moment the band engaged the audience into their lives by introducing their kids to the mix (just like last year at Alpine) to a fun Brother. After that they played their hearts out.

    I don’t think that from Miner’s mental vantage point he could see the kids jumping around back and side stage grooving to their favorite songs.

    This was a true “Phamily Affair” and I feel sorry that it has not been showcased as such.

    AC/DC Bag was fun and it was a welcome back for Cities, Fat Tony and Mike on rhythm guitar for Jiboo, a solid Mango Song that has been a long time coming, Makisupa was fun and YEM was pretty solid. Not the recent roof-blowing earth shattering style YEM we all experienced at MSG last year or even the YEM from New Years, but a really good YEM. I’m a sucker for gags and as usual Frankenstein with Page on Keytar was not disappointing.

    I’ve been seeing the band for 16 years, never really posted on this site even though often I disagree. What I tend to disagree about is a need to get lost into mental deep jams all the time. I lose my mind plenty at the shows, I often have to pick up my face because it has been melted off, so yes I like the spinning too but there has to be an understanding that it is about good music not drug fueled mental journeys all the time.

    SPAC 2 was solid and I have to make sure that you all know that.

    **One note to all of you that got there early to get Pollock posters, Not Cool of the guys that bought 3 or 4 just to sell on Ebay. Those things went up on the web for sale within hours of the encore. If your motive for buying the posters is personal profit off of other people who you cheated out of the opportunity to buy them at a reasonable price, then you should be ashamed.

    A note to Phish, please in the future if you’re going to limit the locations the LE posters are sold, you must also limit the number of posters per person.**

  4. flysurferrosa Says:

    I love reading Miner’s stuff and I think we are generally on the same page opinion-wise, but I really felt like I had to chime in hear and say Sunday was awesome. Sure, no exploratory jamming, but we also aren’t melting face like we were in the nineties. We’ve got kids in the tub with your brother instead, and I love every bit of it! Keep on rockin and Miner keep on writin, we all appreciate it 🙂 Let’s remember that a few years ago we had resigned to the fact that Phish was a thing of the past. Yay for Phish 2010! I just wish they’d play tweezer reprise once in a while.

  5. sumodie Says:

    Nice to see newcomers here

    But don’t worry whether Miner is having fun (he is) or try to tell him how to view PH -just relate your observations

    Otherwise I concur with y’all, SPAC II was a great night

    As for PH posters, venue staff rarely limit how many they sell to an individual, which does suck


  6. sumodie Says:

    oops! Wrong day 8)

    Though my comments still hold

    Time to find the 6/24 page -lol is me

  7. freeze Says:

    you need to have your head examined Miner

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  10. rick Says:

    wow, I’m listening slowly to the summer tour (in order) and I think this has been the best show by far

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