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


6.26.09 - Merriweather (Graham Lucas)

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1,099 Responses to “Progressive Phish”

  1. VoidBoy Says:

    Nice write up BK…

    We knew your face was melting… hope your dad enjoyed it too.

  2. Robear Says:

    brandon, thanks for that review. hope they treated you well at the waterwheel.

    good luck topping your first shows in the future!!!

  3. bodi Says:

    just got back from MPP2. i can’t believe last night was just a warm up for this? who the fuck are these guys? was this a back to the future moment when the whole Merriweather was a Delorean and we zipped back to 95, or 97 or 94 or …, this is one frankenstein of a band now, all the attached parts finally stitched into a bloodthirsty monster. I’m so grateful it shredded me to bits this weekend. Thank You Phish.

    Really you have to ascribe it to this new hybrid sound, phenomenal acoustics, peak musicianship and total confidence regained at last. I just don’t see how they can pull back from this plateau at this point. I don’t want to think this was a one-off teaser weekend of what everyone dreams phish to be, but I gotta think this locomotive can’t stop now, or perhaps Camden really started it off when Trey sang “Can’t stop till you get enougn.” Cuz that’s what it seemed like he was singing all weekend here. I have never seen such collective happiness and joy on that stage before tonight. I have never seen Trey dance so hard during YEM, or throw his soul into every note played in a show like he did tonight. Maybe it was that hot My Soul that got him back in the warp speed x-wing fighter pilot seat. But make no mistake, this was a dark set 2. The tweezer let out some demons last night, and they came back out in force in set 2. I gotta say the ecstacy of feeling that Ghost come on, and it was signaled for a good few minutes in Piper, was not so sustained through an admittedly strong but not interstellar ghost, but then the >jumpin jack flash>saw it again, contact>yem bookend made it all moot. From top to bottom the flow was flawless and earnest. i felt nothing was forced, they just seemed to fall into a mid-life zen buddhist qi cultivation zone where they were all karma hoses, blasting the masses with rock and molasses.
    Hotlanta will be going down in flames, again. And a bunch of rascally northerners will be doing it again too.

  4. Mr. Murph Says:

    Its swell you had a great time. how does one meet up with BBers. Im going to the last 4 shows and I think it would be neat to show some of yall how we do things in the RuffRaleigh.

  5. bodi Says:

    @BK I just read your great review and realized i repeated a lot of the sentiments while writing my review prior to that. consensus all time happening it seems. thank god it wasn’t just me.

  6. Robear Says:

    right on bodi and everyone coming back. we feel IT way out here.

  7. BrandonKayda Says:

    Sorry, I talked to TaylorC and Mike Padeli*, not Mike Dadeli 😉

    Incredible night.

  8. Mr. Murph Says:

    Its so weird to think Phish can do this day in day out. And for them to play a 4th of july show next weekend, its unreal. See me hanging the rails with a Meatstick or Weigh sign. I was hoping for the meatstick on the 4th. Fourth of july, its the hotdog day, wish they would play that sucker again,

  9. Mr. Completely Says:

    @brandon, apparently your dad is a good luck charm

    let him know we’ll be needing him to hit all the shows for the rest of the summer, k?

  10. Mr. Completely Says:

    @bodi, holy shit, what a great fucking mini review

    you can go on tour with @BK’s dad

  11. Robear Says:

    lol @ C.

    ::looks for flights and tix to the greek for BK and DK::

  12. bodi Says:

    @Mr. C., glad you can sense the excitement a bit. I tell ya man, i’m from the northwest, always had seen northwest dead/phish stuff, but always yearned for the balls to the wall east coast shed experience. I finally got it big time tonight man. thanks east coast phish!!

    i’ll just add a postscript: i think the confidence is the xfactor that finally arrived this weekend (camden included). It’s like they had a team meeting after the northeast run and just said, alright, its time we reclaim our title for greatest rock band in America right now. done.

  13. voopa Says:

    Fuck yeah. Phish always wins! Listening to the vb0 of the sbd right now…on D Sky…I believe that I will have to hear all of this before sleepytime (the fact that it’s still over 80 degrees here figures in too, but still)…ah hum ah yes yeah yay fucking Phish yeah!

  14. Mr. Completely Says:

    another notable moment in that Tweezer is when Fish grows a second set of arms.

    not 100% clear on the timing of that. have to go to the video replay, dave.

  15. Mr. Completely Says:

    I’m going to hit at least some of it here in a minute @voop

  16. BrandonKayda Says:

    I think I’m gonna hold off listening to any of MPP until Tuesday.

    Glad to hear you guys are digging the shows as much as I did.

    The feeling I got in there…its incredible. That is the most “free” I have ever felt at a concert – or anywhere in general.

    It just felt so good dancing around with a bunch of fellow peeps for two days straight, cannot wait to do it again.


  17. voopa Says:

    you won’t regret it

    Nor will you lurkers with extra Greeks with your selling them to me for face or slightly more…do it!

  18. voopa Says:

    Fucking awesome, BK. I bet my dad wouldv’e loved a Phish show.

  19. oneshowatatime Says:

    how am i going to go to sleep when set 2 is streaming right now? this is just heartbreaking… i have to tear myself away and catch up tomorrow. nooooooooooooooo!

  20. oneshowatatime Says:

    @BK – good luck making it to tuesday without listening to MPP… haha

  21. Mr. Completely Says:

    over/under on BK listening to MPP is W + 4.5 hours where “W” is his Wake-up time.

  22. BrandonKayda Says:

    I don’t know @C

    I want to keep the memories alive for a bit and not listen to anything.

    I’m psyched to read Miner’s review tomorrow – I bet he was floored.

    Goodnight folks, so happy with MPP as a whole, had a fabulous time.


  23. oneshowatatime Says:

    oh man, as soon as he starts reading Miner’s review he’s going to break down. mark my words.

  24. voopa Says:

    Wow nice Trey jamming during Ginseng

  25. BrandonKayda Says:

    I bet that I won’t listen till Tuesday

    That’s it 🙂

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