Progressive Phish

6.26.09 - Merriweather (Graham Lucas)

In a vintage case of Phish being Phish, the band came to Merriweather Post Pavilion a day after playing the show of the summer, and one upped themselves, slaughtering a second set that now stands as the strongest frame of 2010. Transformed – literally – overnight, Phish has returned to the top of their game, and based on the progress from Friday to Saturday, there is no ceiling limiting how far the band will grow in this era. Having definitively transformed their sound this year, Phish, once again has their foot on the accelerator and nothing but open highway ahead. Exploration and discovery is again the norm, rather than the exception, and something tells me there’s no going back. Open, unstructured jamming no longer presents a challenge for the band, but rather welcome missions into parallel universes. After the past two nights of musical mastery, any doubts anyone had about Phish returning to innovative greatness can be swept under the rug. This is 2010 – the year we make contact.

6.26.10 (G.Lucas)

Opening the second set with Saturday night’s assigned anthem, “Rock and Roll,” Phish built upon Camden’s “Chalk Dust”with a piece of improvisation that immediately jumped to the top of summer’s quickly-growing list of spectacular highlights. As if watching a different band than we saw for the first two weeks of tour, Trey and company held nothing back while pushing themselves into a fluid masterpiece. Comprised of more than a couple distinct sections, the band passed through, perhaps, the most blissful music of the summer before organically building into a mind-melting segment of snarling Phish. Through a maze of nasty licks and surreal communication, the band oozed into a menacing final jam around the theme of Led Zeppelin’s “Moby Dick.” Boasting a new and daring sense of adventure, Trey never considered ending this jam before its proper landing. Absolutely ablaze all night long, Big Red played like a man possessed, embracing the moment, playing every note from his heart rather than his head.

“The Merriweather Rock and Roll” gracefully came to a close in “Free,” and though this landing pad boasted a vulgar bass solo from Gordon, Trey steered the song towards the ending immediately upon the conclusion of Mike’s carpet bombing. “Fast Enough For You” staged a dramatic breather, as Trey’s continued his marksmanship through even the ballads of the set. Upon the start of a mid-set “Sparkle,” I turned to my buddy and said, “Sparkle, Tweezer?”, citing the classic Bomb Factory combination. And sure enough, after sprinting through the chaotic piece, the band promptly slid into the into to the third “Tweezer” of summer.

6.26.10 (G.Lucas)

In a virtual antithesis of Hartford’s grooveasaurus, Merriweather’s “Tweezer” grew into a filthy piece of ominous music that illustrates the band’s emerging musical paradigm. Coupling his hard-edged aggression and killer instinct from the mid-90s with tasteful whaling licks, Trey, joined by Gordon’s murderous bass work, led a piece that can be rightfully described as “new-school/old-school” Phish, or in other words – the future. Trey couldn’t wait to get to the meat of things, improvising throughout the composed section, and when the jam dropped, things took on a completely new life. In a section of purely 2010-sounding music, Phish launched a forward-thinking crusade into darkness that was wrung with musical belligerence. Following a roaring and colossal opening segment, Phish left any semblance of reality behind, traveling to a far off planet of a war-torn alien culture. Providing a futuristic soundtrack of next-level jamming, the band narrated an apocalyptic tale of desperation. Playing with the passion of a wild hyena and the accuracy of a mafia hit man, Trey pushed himself further than any night this summer, and the band stayed with him every step of the way. Descending from pure lunacy into an ambient outro, Trey began to play “Horse,” and pulled back, allowing the piece come to a natural ending in deep space for two more minutes. This was one for the books; Phish hasn’t played a “Tweezer” like this – well – ever.

6.26.10 (G.Lucas)

“Horse > Silent” provided a melodic buffer before the band ended the set with the colossal combination of “Wolfman’s,” “Slave,” Reprise.” In this day and age, it’s simply a treat to get a second set “Wolfman’s,” but the band blew this one up, packing at least fifteen minutes worth of musical action into ten minutes of thick musical molasses. Chunky and celebratory, Phish funked up this version with a playful vocal jam before crunching a set of strapping grooves that Trey backed with meticulous use of the whale. Stylistically translating their fresh sound through multiple styles of masterful jams last night, Phish’s pressed fast-forward on their reinvention in Merriweather’s first show.

Closing the set with a climactic, beautifully-phrased “Slave,” Phish brought artistic resolution to merciless frame of mayhem. But in a surprise move, the band brought out “Reprise” in the far more dramatic set-ending spot, bombastically closing out the night’s “Tweezer” before the encore even got underway. And quite and encore it was.

6.26.10 (G.Lucas)

“Show of Life” and “Good Times” juxtaposed the poignant and introspective side of Trey with his all-out rock-star persona. The night’s two final songs provided a glorious excursions in opposite directions, touching the heart with tenderness and then with fire. Surfing the show’s final wave of adrenaline, Trey played as hard on the last song of the night as he did on any other. Displaying his blazing chops one last time on the classic Zeppelin cover, this finale fit right in with the band’s current fetish with the British legends.

Phish showcased some seriously progressive playing last night, building – only 24 hours later – on Camden’s Friday night triumph. After listening back to this set, it is quite clear that Phish is transforming, in front of our eyes, into a whole new beast. Combining the energy of the first half of tour with a breakthrough in improvisational confidence, the band has, once again, made Phish tour is the most exciting place on the planet.

…How many hours ’til showtime?

First Set Notes: A blistering 2010-sounding “Stash” highlighted a well-played, but relatively uneventful first half of the show. Although a late-set “46-Days”didn’t break form, it surely provided an early sign of the six-string combustion that would soon follow. Another new cover emerged from the renowned Indie band Neutral Milk Hotel. (Never heard of em? Me neither.) The cover, “In The Aeroplane Over the Sea” comes from the band’s iconic 1998 record of the same name. Similar in sound to “Earth Angel,” it seemed as though we were at The Enchantment Under the Sea dance, and Trey might start looking at his disappearing hand in some sort of time-space paradox. The heartfelt song provided a bizarre interlude in the set between “Tube” and “Stash, but I’m all for the new covers; keep ’em coming.

I: Crowd Control, Kill Devil Falls, AC/DC Bag, Sugar Shack, Tube, In The Aeroplane Over The Sea*, Stash, Backwards Down the Number Line, NICU, 46 Days, Suzy Greenberg

II: Rock and Roll > Free, Fast Enough for You, Sparkle, Tweezer > The Horse > Silent in the Morning, Wolfman’s Brother, Slave to the Traffic Light, Tweezer Reprise

E: Show of Life, Good Times Bad Times

*debut

6.26.09 - Merriweather (Graham Lucas)

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1,099 Responses to “Progressive Phish”

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  1. Exree Hipp Says:

    Kinda stunned to hear you haven’t heard of Neutral Milk Hotel but I understand we listen to a lot of Phish 🙂

    For those of you who haven’t heard this band, track down In The Aeroplane Over The Sea. It is, without a doubt, one of the top 5 albums of the 90s. Nothing, save for Loveless and OK Computer, can be considered a greater work of musical art within ten years on either side of its release.

  2. Exree Hipp Says:

    To add to that – it was truly a surreal experience to hear Phish begin to play this song. They kinda-sorta butchered it, but Mangum’s songs are so simple in their composition that the performance and production of their execution is crucial to their effect. Not to mention Mangum’s vocals. But what glory to hear my favorite band play a song off of one of my favorite albums, and to be able to hear it without having seen the setlist ahead of time was an all-time great surprise for me.

    This album would have been one of my top requests for Halloween, but after hearing this cover I realize how difficult it would be to pull this off without the proper instrumentation… Chalk it up to mid-90s Phish not covering Loveless as one of the great/sad/tragic/huge non-happenings of my Phish-listening career.

  3. Holger Says:

    Agree! Its Getting better every night. Camden was a breakthrough. Following the Tour once again from Berlin, Germany via your “no spoilers” uploads. Thanks for your great work Mr. Miner! I was happy to catch tix for the 2 Final Nights of the summer at Jones Beach. Cant wait to be where its at…

  4. Exree Hipp Says:

    Can’t say enough about how happy I am with the jamming since SPAC. The 6/20 Drowned, 6/25 CDT & 2001, and last night’s R&R and Tweezer are so good I’m just beside myself pretty much. Didn’t know if they’d be willing to go down roads like this again anytime soon after hearing the way the very very good Sally jam ended at Mansfield.

  5. jdub Says:

    Great write up again @Miner.

    Morning routine: make coffee, DL show while waiting for Miner’s review, hippie speedball, listen throughout morning, get excited about this bands rise to the top!

    Looks BK and poppa BK got a heck of a show.

  6. Mr.Miner Says:

    @ Holger – sickness! Love to hear that No Spoilers is getting international love!

  7. goochy Says:

    I’m right there with you on this one, Miner. That great 2nd set made up for the pretty weird 1st by far.

  8. jdub Says:

    And Thank you @Miner for delivering these reviews Miner. It amazes me that you can put your thoughts down so eloquently and on point by 7 the next morning.

  9. Al Says:

    After I took a great pause from Phish – I downloaded the auds from Hershey and was deeply dissapointed. Now I bought both of the Camden
    SBDs and I must say, I’m back on the train…
    I’ll get this show later for sure.

    Hey, Holger – Grüsse aus Bremen. Zwei Phishheads aus Deutschland ist schon ‘ne komische Sache.

  10. Exree Hipp Says:

    Yeah Miner, I’m here in London and loving the site every day. Thanks again for all your work.

  11. Holger Says:

    @ Al, Gruesse zurueck! Es gibt sie doch noch 😉 check out http://www.bouncingaroundeuroom.eu and the Facebook Group Phish Phans in Europe and Germany…

  12. Lily Says:

    Great show last night-first time at mpp, smallish venue easy parking no hassle security and great sounds/lights from lower lawn. Last night’s r&r and tweezer (and tweeprise) blew me away, but th wolfmans may have taken the cake. Nice write up, miner…

    Can’t wait for tonight-we got 2nd row through mail order-50ish shows so far and best ticket of my life- so so pumped and pulling to hear my elusive first-ever lizards! Have fun everyone!

  13. Jacob Says:

    @Exree Hipp-I think we would see eye to eye on a lot of music from the 90s. Could it be possible Phish tries something from Loveless coming up? (Like say…Sometimes or Soon in Atlanta…….?!).

    Would love to see Walfredo tonight too!! Tour’s gaining steam!

  14. Moby Dick Says:

    You guys saw that I was all up in that RnR right!!

    Hell yes.

  15. willowed Says:

    Can’t wait to Spin…took a break from the couch tour last night. The wife is getting a little pissed.

  16. willowed Says:

    One more thing…..I can’t fucking believe we lost to Ghana.

    I will be changing my avatar in 3, 2, 1………

  17. Exree Hipp Says:

    @Jacob – I do wonder… Trey said repeatedly in interviews that Loveless was his pick for Halloween 1998, and the rest of the band put the kibosh on it. Trey had figured out how to create the sound live, and I don’t doubt that, but their ability to execute it I doubt pretty heavily given many of their other covers of bands for whom tone is the biggest thing.

    I assume given his love of the album and ability to make the sound, it’s a possibility. Their other covers of this type – bands he loves – are all pretty poor, though, imo. Sabotage, Gold Soundz, Rhinoceros, Golden Age, and now Aeroplane are all spotty at best in terms of their evocation of the source band’s sound. Obviously some of them have been fun and Golden Age led to a decent jam, but they aren’t in the realm of the covers that Phish has truly made their own.

    The way they reinvented Remain in Light, though, is what makes me think long and hard about it. They took what is, imo, one of the top 5 albums of that decade and completely owned it. They completely, amazingly executed the thing, while also extending and re-conceiving it. That set is one of their all time greatest pretty inarguably, imo. So I hope if they go for any of the Loveless material they really, really go for it.

  18. Gavinsdad Says:

    @dla: BK is a regular around here who has contributed massive amounts of support and good vibes to this “board”. He’s all of 15 or 16 and he and his father had their first live phish experience last nite. We’ve all been rooting for em hard

    @lily: bring an extra bag into the show tonite to put your face in after it falls off

    @jdub: morning player

    @miner: thanks as always.

    @exree: I’m an unabashed NMH fan myself, oh comely would have been tougher right? ;-). Still so glad to see these tasteful covers being pulled outta the hat.

    Waiting for my time in NC patiently.

  19. Foul_Domain Says:

    Great review, Miner.

    Like you, Im a sucker for a big Tweezer. Cant wait to hear this one!

    Begin download…

  20. projmersch Says:

    I loved the second set tonight. The band really was connecting strong on every jam. Even FEFY seemed to hit a different level.

    Going back tonight for some more!

  21. Al Says:

    @Holger – thanks for the link!!! Didn’t know that one.

    I’ll be in Greece for three weeks now. I guess I’ll have to catch up with a lot of downloading and review-reading afterwards…I’ll take both Camden 2010 shows down to the beach fellas, promised.

  22. Little Buddy Says:

    Reading this makes me very, very excited. Can’t wait to listen!

    Exree Hip is right. That Neutral Milk Hotel album is def on of the best of the last 20 years. Makes all sorts of best of lists among the indie mags and was recently listed as the best album available on emusic.com.

    Can’t wait for cmac! Exciting stuff.

  23. Matso Says:

    Good to see another European (Holger) on the board and welcome back to Al. I’ve been wondering where you’ve been hiding. Enjoy Camden, but don’t skip on the many other highlights from this tour (Chicago, Hartford 2, SPAC, etc). There’s good stuff all over the place.

    In the spirit of the indie hipster bust-out last night, I’m predicting a “Brother Sport” tonight. It is MPP after all… If they could nail it, that would be the ultimate Phish dance party.

  24. Exree Hipp Says:

    Phish covering Merriweather Post Pavilion at MPP would be quite a hilarious treat, and if someone told me they did it, and learned the album during the setbreak, I’d believe it.

  25. Corey Says:

    @Matso, Caught your post from the last page…been a blast so far with the extended family. Everyone’s all ready to go downstairs for the “big game.” I’m sure you are too. Should be good. Not sure we can handle another loss in this house. The US game was heartbreaking.

    Glad your travels were safe and fun fun fun whilst here. Hope to see you again sometime. PHiSH European tour?? 🙂 I certainly hope so.

    Good luck today…but I have to root for the black red and gold.

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