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. whoel tour! Says:

    for the

    that being said

    Just listened to last night on and i cannot for the life of me see what all the fuss is about. I enjoyed it about as much as i have listening to the other shows from the tour. Maybe it’s because I am not fortunate enough to be at every show? Not sure. I just really appreciate all the new stuff. I have a hard time being critical of brand spanking new music. Give it some time to settle in. Then break it down. These things need time to gel in your mind.

    Last night seemed like a mix of alpine 09 and the first and last night of miami. Just seeing undermind, cities, roggae ac/dc, and antelope in a set make me drop a little dude in me drawers.

  2. sumodie Says:

    How hard can it be to simply describe YOUR OWN thoughts about the show?

    As in, I loved the heavy metal carnage of Carini

    The Mango bust out worked great for me (sure, not the most well played)

    Wilson, a song that usually didn’t excite me in 2009, has impressed me both times (SPAC 2 and nTelos)

    Drowned, perhaps overplayed in 3.0, nevertheless engulfed me with it’s stunning jamming -I was ecstatic here, a huge highlight

    Swept Away>Steep was gorgeous and was perfectly placed, IMO

    Maki has consistently surprised me in 3.0 -this version included. Loved it last night. Quintessential Phishyness

    Piper was VERY FRESH and creative to these ears

    And 2001>YEM was such a blast all the well. Have seriously loved my two 2001s in 2010. No doubt due to Fishman’s impressive drumming this year. And YEM was tight, and thus, for me, great.

    Such is life. PH is seriously hitting some major peaks in 2010, and it will only get better. Can YOU still have fun?

  3. sumodie Says:

    Nap time!

    Good night, BB 8)

    See ya in Mansfield!

  4. Selector J Says:

    starting a little early w/ the radio show.
    filling in for the jazz dude.
    I’m a jazz custy but I fake it ok, I think.
    Led off with Horace Silver’s “Song For My Father”
    Tune in here:

  5. Capt. Obvious Says:

    I’m just trying to help him out and maintain a more logically consistent writing style. I understand that he’s in it for the jams far more than the songs, most of us are. So its logical for him to like ’95 more than 3.0 as you aren’t going to find 30 minute YEMs, Bowies and Tweezers these days. It even makes sense for him to like some of the 2.0 shows with shaky composed sections and long heroin jams better than the 3.0 shows with tighter composed sections and concise jams.

    But its not just logical to fluff shows like Portsmouth and then bash Spac II.

    That just strikes me as either being too up for Portsmouth, or too down for Spac II. It happens – from time to time we all get too tired, have bad seats, bad drugs, bad company, whatever may detract from the show itself.

  6. Selector J Says:

    Just read back to the last page w/ a quickness since I don’t have too much time while I’m working the motherboard…
    You guys craq me up.
    Too many posts to cite specific examples but at least 6 llfa’s.
    Then sumo wraps it up with a little group hug.
    keep on rocking in the free world, gentlemen.

  7. BingosBrother Says:

    Alpine pav re-release now!

  8. Moby Dick Says:

    have a good show tonight selector j

  9. c0wfunk Says:

    @obvious despite my flip response I actually very much agree w/ you

    @sumodie – standing slow clap my friend. Thanks for the group hug.

    phish wins again!

  10. hossmaster Says:


  11. sumodie Says:

    Not sure I was trying for a group hug actually…

    but too tired to flesh out my thoughts any more precisely for now

  12. angryjoggerz Says:

    Nice. Gordo stays at the W.

  13. c0wfunk Says:

    hmsure well group hug maybe not quite right there using selector j’s words .. but what you say, sir, I like it. imprecise or not.

  14. Little Buddy Says:

    Capt. O…

    Interesting point, but… Since when is there any logic in how one enjoys a Phish show. It’s pretty much all feeling, especially for a guy who closes his eyes the entire show so he can just absorb the music as completely as possible, as Miner does. Translating one’s feelings about an event like a Phish show, which a guy like Miner hold so near and dear to his heart, is a difficult thing. I say, give him a break already. And, in his nTelos review he even states that he himself was surprised at how much he enjoyed it since there wasn’t much jamming. Atmosphere and size of the show may have had something to do wit it, but there really isn’t any inconsistency after-all. nTelos flowed for him and SPAC2 didn’t. I was surprised to read the review this morning after seeing the setlist, but after listening to the show I can see where he is coming from. Would I have been bored by it? Hell no, but I see where he is coming from.

    I really liked the first set, but the second set pales immeasurably to that of Blossom and Hershey (to these ears), the only two shows that I’ve caught on this tour (I haven’t caught up on my summer tour listening). The Piper, 2001 and YEM are more like the versions we were hearing last year than what would be expected post-Miami, to these ears.

    I think we all expected something a little different at SPAC2 due to the venues Phishy history. This second set is nothing all that special in the grand scope of 3.0 and will be largely forgotten (unless it was one of the only shows you hit and you just had a blast, which is completely understandable). Other than Carini, which might only make a highlight reel bc it will be the only time we hear it, nothing in set 2 will make any best of tour mixes.

    YMMV though, right?

    G’Nite kids!

  15. Selector J Says:

    You lead off that last post with:

    “Iā€™m just trying to help him out and maintain a more logically consistent writing style.”

    that sounds condescending as !@#$ to me. Maybe you want to rephrase that? Or not.

    Just remember Miner’s well respected here. (Check the banner, brah.) Of course, no one agrees with him 100% of the time but we like to keep dickishness out of the discourse. Just saying.

  16. c0wfunk Says:

    ahh looks like we have a new post. Seems like a good thing.

  17. BingosBrother Says:

    Just scored section 201, row T, seats 93-95 for Sunday Alpine! Woot!

  18. Selector J Says:

    sorry sumo… maybe skimmed it too fast. Seemed like you were going for a “let’s be cool fellas.”

  19. Mr.Miner Says:

    @ captain. I think Portsmouyth killed SPAC 2. Is that a good enough reason?

  20. BingosBrother Says:

    I’m gonna eyefuck the shit outa Page.(No homo)

  21. ChefBradford Says:

    So, uh, anybody got an extra pav/pit for ATL2? I’ll give you my lawn and a smile for it

  22. Capt. Obvious Says:

    Sure its good enough for whatever YOU liked better, but a lot of these reviews are not purely subjective, which is a good thing and why I come here. That is, its not simply whatever you liked based on whatever mood you happened to be in, its generally representative of what someone who’s seen a lot of shows thinks too.

    “Since when is there any logic in how one enjoys a Phish show”

    There’s a lot of logic. Its subjective at the margins, but its certainly not all subjective. Someone may say that 6/18/94 blows away 4/3/98 (or vice versa) and I can’t disagree with that – its an opinion and its apples and oranges. Likewise, someone may that 2.0 blows away 3.0 – I will disagree with that, but again its apples and oranges and depends on taste.

    But when comparing one 3.0 show to another, its often fair to say which is better. Nobody can tell me the Fox theater Slave was better than 12/29/ Tweezer. The Tweezer is objectively a better piece of music. I think Miner would agree.

  23. andrewrose Says:

    Well just sitting down to spill my thoughts about the SPAC shows now after the two night run and my only shows of summer. Sorry I seem to have missed such a thorough discussion! Will try and catch up but figured best just post my thoughts clean first.

    First off, I have to say it was great to finally put a face to some names here during the casual meetup on Sunday afternoon. I mentioned to a few new faces how much of a void there had been post-RMP in the late nineties and through 2.0 in terms of a coherent online community of civilized and knowledgeable fans, and I can say with confidence that that’s certainly no longer the case. So cheers to that.

    In terms of SPAC, I thought night two was fantastic start to finish. Definitely think it was miles ahead of Night 1, and while, yes, it may not have featured any ferocious 20 minute jams (though the Drowned jam certainly trumped anything from the night before and a lot of the other stuff I’ve heard this summer), it did feature tight playing, good flow, and what I thought was phenomenal song selection throughout.

    I couldn’t really ask for a stronger first set. As a relatively new dad (21 months), seeing the show with my good friend Matso (also a new dad), there was something really kind of poignant and fitting about the Brother opener. I know they did it last year, but the energy and good vibes in the place from the opener onwards really just set the tone for what I thought was an incredibly strong and fun opening segment, with nary a groaner in sight. Didn’t hear a single person call a Cities all weekend, or a Roggae for that matter (which gets my nod for best version ever) … Back on the Train, Jiboo, Antelope all smoked with high energy, focused playing, great tension and release without any aimless noodling. Don’t get my wrong, I adore a good Bathub, Fluff, etc as much as the next guy, and maybe more (Bathub is my all time fave on the strength of about every version from 97-99), but I felt Set 1 on Day 1 was comparatively more sloppy in composed parts, and more annoyingly noodley in jams. Was laughing with pleasure when the Antelope closed.

    Would I have liked that Carini to keep going for 20 minutes? Sure, it certainly sounded *smoking* for however many minutes it was going for. (Fish and Mike just slayed this thing). But I’m not one to complain about a Mango Song. Or a tightly woven Makisupa->(Policeman)Piper->2001>YEM, for that matter. Fact is that for whatever reason this band isn’t really capable of launching into interesting 20 minute explorations every night. There are some exceptions since the return (Red Rock, the Gorge, Albany, NYE especially), but for the most part I think the jury is still out on the band (and Trey in particular) finding their real sea legs when it comes to going for it every second set. I’d much rather have them put in a performance like they did last night, than hear them struggle through “exploration” when it’s really not working or doing anything. I’m all for pushing the envelope, but I think there’s a healthy balance going right now between testing those boundaries, and delivering all the other goods they’re capable of. To call last night standard fare is really not giving the proper due to such a wider scope of the band’s appeal, from tight, high energy playing, to great song selection, playfulness, and so much else. Because that doesn’t happen every night either. Go and listen to the first of Trey’s two “note” peaks from YEM, the one before he just holds it, where he plays a quick little solo/riff. That was perfect last night, heartfelt, tight, soaring and unique. That to me captures why SPAC 2 was a great show, and the reason it’s still worth going to see them, even if they’re not doing the whole Seven Below->Ghost->Twist, YEM thing anymore.

    No one said growing up was easy or glamorous. But damned if those weren’t a bunch of *dignified* dads up there on stage Sunday night. Subjectively speaking, of course. šŸ˜‰

  24. Mr.Miner Says:

    interesting day…

    still dont understand what people see in last night show other than energy, but its time to move on people. wow.

  25. ohhphee Says:

    aaannnd….. Scene.

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