Saturday Night SPAC Attack

Posted in Uncategorized with the tags , on June 20th, 2010 by Mr.Miner

6.17.10 (J.Reiss)

In a show book-ended with two more “Tweezer Reprises,” the band dropped a very Phishy affair in upstate New York last night to opening SPAC’s two-night stand. With a first set of early classics and a diverse second half composed of multiple segments, each carrying distinctly different vibes, Phish patched together an impressive evening of music. Suffering from a tad bit of choppiness, the second stanza did manage to maintain a flow from beginning to end, filled with this summer’s locked and loaded jamming, the band’s most promising debut this year, and one of the more exploratory jams of the summer.

6.18.10 (K.Lindner)

Sparking the show like a Phillies Blunt, Phish came out in comedic and invigorated form with the third version of “Tweezer Reprise” in a row- “Threeprise!” After capping Hartford with the now-legendary double -“Reprise” encore, the band couldn’t get enough blasting into the freezer for a third consecutive time. Surfing a tsunami of energy from Hartford, the band crashed into a second-song “Chalk Dust,” maintaining the initial intensity. The first set quickly adopted an old-school theme with a series of classic early-90s pieces; each musical link in the first set chain carried its own weight, with the improvisational highlight coming in the late-set “Bathtub Gin.” While not in the same league as the Virginia version, this one nonetheless carries thick groove of its own. Additionally, the bust out of “Yamar” brought a quintessential summer vibe to the set, providing the stage for some percussive full-band interplay.

Call it the whale, call it what you will, Trey’s new style and tone – on full display in “Bathtub Gin” – and just about every other jam of the evening, has taken over his playing. And I must say, I am in love with the whale. Offering a new twist on Trey’s ideas, his pitch bending, sustained notes provide a more laid-back feel to his leads, bringing a completely new guitar element to the mixture. Often beginning in the background with gentle whispers, this minimalist approach not only provides the band with a new sound to build around, it allows Mike to step up as the bold, bass-wielding co-leader of every jam. The combination of these two elements have certainly carved out a new summer sound, but more on the 2010 sound come an off-day. Right now, let’s get to the second set.

6.17.10 (J.Reiss)

As Phish continues their re-evolution, the next logical step will be regaining comfort pushing their music into exploratory realms once again. Even in some of the summer’s most eventful sets, Phish has remained anchored to their song structures, sculpting full-on, energetic jams whose creativity come from the band’s natural chops rather than leading their music outwards. With last night’s “Rock and Roll,” Phish took his a step in the right direction. As the band left the song for the “Saratoga Jam,” their music became more open-ended and psychedelic than it has since Hershey’s “Drowned,” and they took this jam even further. With Mike at the center, the band passed through a slower groove of beauty into an exploration of faster textures, pushing their music without falling prey to typical cliches. Providing the most rewarding part of the evening, the second set opener took us for the most adventurous journey of tour. The multi-dimensional piece could have withstood another few minutes of exploration of straight psychedelia, yet still concluded organically.

Ending in a tasteful pass into “Free,” Trey and Mike seemed like they were about to take the song for the elusive ride through a crunchy dungeon that we’ve all been waiting for. Leaving the bass solo behind, they set up a groove before making that damned chord change signifying the ending just as the piece set its course set for darker realms. Following this opening sequence, Phish dropped a meaningless “Number Line” in the middle of the second set with no improvisation. Playing the contained radio single for the Saturday night crowd, Phish deflated the set’s initial peak rather quickly, but when the band started up a slow, unknown groove, things got very interesting.

6.18.10 (K.Lindner)

Only after the show did we learn the title of Page’s “Halfway to the Moon,” but for the time we became engulfed by the sinister molasses of Phish’s most promising new song. With a particularly foreboding groove and tar-thick, “Moma”-esque bass patterns, this piece foreshadowed nothing but greatness in its world premiere. With an evil, yet funky launchpad, look out when this one opens a second set later this summer; the potential seems off the charts.

But when Trey decides things are over, things are over. And such was the case as the band sat on the brink of something greater when he hacked into the growing piece with “Prince Caspian.” For a band that communicates so well while improvising, Trey could alert his band mates to his intentions when he wants to change a song; but in an all-to-characteristic move, Big Red lopped off another exploration without notice. Though Phish played a solid “Caspian,” the sudden change jerked the set’s momentum like a 747 hitting a large pocket of turbulence, and the lull continued through “Joy.” But everything shifted back into high gear for the show’s conclusion.

SPAC Pollock

Getting visibly excited throughout the into to “Bowie,” Trey flashed the double-heavy metal horns before dropping into the most scintillating version we’ve heard since their return. One-upping Chicago’s first-set closer with heavy grooves and series of blissful peaks, this version got the show back to a torrid level of intensity, while reminding is what is possible from a song that lied dormant for quite some time. The phenomenal version presented itself as the set-ender, but Phish went on to punctuate the frame with their newest cathartic closer, “Show of Life.” Infused with an enhanced energy, the anthem’s growing potential for transcendence continued to unfold in the song’s second incarnation.

One had the sense that a final “Reprise” might have been coming as the band remained onstage during Page’s “Coil” solo, and after a boisterous stop in “Character Zero,” that is exactly what went down – the fourth “Tweezer Reprise” in two nights! This final helping of musical gusto carried everyone into a beautiful New York night with nowhere to drive, as Sunday night’s weekend closer loomed large. As the tour approaches its halfway point, things are only getting better. Stay tuned – same bat time, same bat channel.

I: Tweezer Reprise, Chalk Dust Torture, Funky Bitch, Runaway Jim, Ya Mar, Sample in a Jar, Axilla > Fluffhead, Bathtub Gin, Suzy Greenberg

II: Rock and Roll > Free, Backwards Down the Number Line, Halfway to the Moon* > Prince Caspian, Joy, David Bowie, Show of Life

E: The Squirming Coil, Character Zero, Tweezer Reprise

*Debut

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Fireworks On A Friday Night

Posted in Uncategorized with the tags , on June 19th, 2010 by Mr.Miner
6.18.10 - Hartford (K.Lindner)

6.18.10 - Hartford (K.Lindner)

Phish capped off two nights at Hartford, Connecticut on Friday with a completely fluid two-set show that, boasted, arguably, the standout set of the summer thus far. Putting an fierce exclamation point on the first half of the weekend, the band played with extreme cohesion and vigor, as Trey led Phish through a non-stop, guitar-led tale of wonder after setbreak. Featuring stretched out, creative annihilation’s of old favorites, without getting too experimental, the band came, they saw, and they conquered. Though Phish left off a big set-closer, they more than compensated with an unprecedented double-“Tweezer Reprise” encore that just about blew the roof off the Comcast Theatre.

The masterful set launched off “Halley’s Comet” into a dense version of “Light,” showcasing the piece for the first time since tour’s opening night. Remaining more contained than than the past few versions we’ve heard, the band built off the peak into a textured realm, engaging in a unique interchange that morphed into a series of tightly-wound percussive grooves. Settling into a short ambient passage, Trey dotted a sparse melody amidst the jam’s final stages. When Page sustained his final effect, Trey tastefully played the intro to “Billy Breathes,” in a stark juxtaposition to the previous night’s entry into “Horse > Silent.” The gentle composition, provided a musical pillow for “Light,” before the house nearly shook to the ground with the second “Tweezer” of summer.

6.18.10 (K.Lindner)

6.18.10 (K.Lindner)

From note one Trey took control of this monstrosity, directing grooves like a cosmic traffic cop. While Fishman kept a driving beat going throughout this rhythmic safari, Trey and Mike stepped up, indulging in an extended session of liquid crack. Trey immediately took a rhythmic approach to things, locking into a signature pattern. Gordon backed him with brontosaurus bass lines that sprung off the stage like the smoke monster, devouring all in its path. The unstoppable river of crunchy grooves felt being hooked to an IV of soulful refreshment. Setting sail into the subsequent section, Trey pulled up with a supremely, pimped-out lick, settling the scene to sew together more subtle bending leads in his new, “impressionistic” tone. Building into an addictive, rolling pattern, Trey continued pushing forward in an unrelenting version that became a galleria for his and Mike’s collective genius. If you like to dance, this one is for you. Check it – now!

6.18.10 (K.Lindner)

Coming out of the highly-illegal musical territory, it took Phish a couple minutes to properly cool off after such a blazing affair. When a final ambient bulge slid quietly into ‘Theme From the Bottom,” the palpable energy from “Tweezer” overflowed directly into the summer anthem, forming another blistering version of a song with quality full-band cooperation. Phish then book-ended the gargantuan portion of the set with a sprawling and ethereal “Harry Hood.” Featuring incredibly patient interplay between Mike and Trey, again showcasing his new tone and playing style, the two players took co-lead in this sacred dance. Using a more gradual build than Blossom’s intense burst of glory, this version’s beauty came in its slower, haunting quality.

After a classically placed, penultimate “Velvet Sea,” Phish surprised everyone by coming out with “Stealing Time” as the second-set closer. It seems like the band is grooming this song to be a modern-age “Character Zero,” as the blues-rocker has now punctuated a first and second set this tour. Settling into a section of distorted grooves, not all that dissimilar from its older relative, Phish ended with a bang, again giving a fresh feel to their setlist. But the evening’s most bombastic moments were still to come.

6.18.10 (K.Lindner)

Amidst the peak of a raucous “Tweezer Reprise” encore, Trey – juiced with enthusiasm – called out that the band played “Tweezer” in Hershey without a “Reprise,” so they would now play it again! Taking it from the top, Phish cannonballed into, possibly, the most face-melting “Tweezer Reprise” ever played. While Trey got on his knees, jumped off of amps, and stomped in circles, the band brought the song to into virtual lunacy. Regardless of what this sounds like on tape, the experience can simply not be replicated. You Tube this clip ASAP, you won’t believe your eyes; a magnificent end to a stellar second half of Phish.

Official Hartford Poster

The opening set got going in earnest when an impressive, technically sound version of “Rift” gave way to the rubber grooves of “Wolfman’s Brother.” A song that has nestled into its ten-minute, first-set role this era, this version got the venue bumping for the first time of the night. An otherwise old-school set was broken up by Trey’s new pop-love song written for his wife, called “Summer of ’89.” Trust me, I love Big Red’s ballads more than the next guy, but on this one I’ve got to say, “Really, Trey?” Making “Jennifer Dances” look like an alien encounter in a dark alley, this debut should bring message board flaming to new heights. Ironically, the final section moves into some interesting improvisation, but I’ll see how this one develops before saying any more. A throw-down “Possum,” brought the crowd way up for a drop into “Moma,” but the sparkling oasis of the first set came at the end in “Reba.” Using his minimalist strokes, Trey’s new technique of laying way back in jams allowed Mike to step up as co-band leader, a situation where two heads are most certainly better than one. These understated grooves became the foundation for Phish’s delicate journey to the top, in another display of an increasingly patient band.

Hartford’s second night showed what a difference a day can make. 24 hours after their only inconsistent night of Summer 2010, Phish came back with a first-rate show that featured, in my opinion, the defining set of the six-show tour. As we sail into the second half of the weekend and into the woods of upstate New York, SPAC will likely bring more special evenings, but will Phish top such a powerful endeavor? They’ve been known to…

Answers are only hours away.

I: Fee, Rift, Wolfman’s Brother, Summer of ’89*, Foam, Possum, The Moma Dance, Julius, Reba, Cavern

II: Halley’s Comet > Light > Billy Breathes, Tweezer > Theme From the Bottom, Harry Hood, Wading in the Velvet Sea, Stealing Time From the Faulty Plan

E: Sleeping Monkey, Tweezer Reprise, Tweezer Reprise

*debut

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Entering New England

Posted in Uncategorized with the tags , on June 18th, 2010 by Mr.Miner

6.15.10 (B.Riley)

In a summer marked with consistency, Phish dropped their first spotty effort of 2010 last night at Hartford’s Comcast Theatre. Though the Northeast’s opening night featured a half-hour of the summer’s best Phish music, the show also saw the band stumble more than a few times in a choppy affair that boasted little to no flow at all. On the brighter side, the band did pull it together in spurts, in both sets, creating some highlights that will definitely be spun all summer long.

6.15.10 (B.Riley)

Beginning with the meat and potatoes, Phish absolutely destroyed “Disease > Sand,” a sequence that stands out among the tightest adventures of tour. Pulling their collective chops together to start the second set, the band followed a “Party Time” opener with a sizzling, multi-faceted highlight reel that could be excerpted as the essential chunk of the evening. Moving out of a passionate foundation of “Disease,” the band entered a series of super-charged percussive grooves that took on a life of their own. The band that bumbled through more than a couple compositions in the first set, all of a sudden, was on fire in a sub-conscious rhythmic crusade. Heavily flirting with “Crosseyed” textures, the band took the express train in forming one of the most powerful pieces of music of 2010. This several-tiered trek provided some of the most impressive work from Trey we’ve seen this tour, not to mention the sublime interplay undertaken by the entire band. Their improv seemed to gain energy with each and every change, as the crowd inhaled the seething vitality. A blistering work of art, “Disease” provided the outright jam of the night, and reaching a point where the band easily could have steered back to the ending, Phish tastefully melted the jam into a haunting segue into “Sand.”

Trey attacked like a piranha throughout “Sand,” pulling out just about every weapon in his arsenal. Moving between dirty, uncompressed notes; subtle, rhythm licks; silky, swanky grooves, and walls of sonic dissonance, the song became a showcase of guitar acrobatics one might expect to see at a Trey show. But Big Ern decided to straight-up let loose, leading an addictive piece of improv that, combined with the band’s foundation of fury, made for a stellar second half of the second-set gem.

6.12.10 (P.Brotherhood)

Then, in a flagrant moment of TreyDHD, The Bad Lieutenant decided “Sand” should immediately cease, proceeding to castrate the addictive groove by relentlessly playing “The Horse” amidst the dinosaur rhythm. In one of the more awkward on-stage moments in memory, this “segue” will forever be remembered as “Forced > Silent.” And, interestingly, once this moment went down, so did the set’s entire momentum. Choosing songs seemingly at random, the band played “Guyute,” and “Farmhouse” before closing the set with a “Weekapaug”-heavy “Mike’s Groove” that paled in comparison to Blossom’s first-set smoker that set the bar for this summer.

The most intriguing segment of the final half of the set, interestingly enough, came in the extended “Farmhouse.” While not moving far from the song, Phish wove a serene soundscape that transcended any normal version, providing the most out-of-the-ordinary take on any song after “Sand.” (Though “Weekapaug” did bring some heat of its own.)

Official Hartford Poster

The opening set’s high point came in a unique “Stash,” where Page led much of the way before Trey crept from behind the scenes to peak the piece in menacing style. Taking this far beyond an average first-set jam for this tour, Phish let things hang out early last night as they went deep on the show’s fourth song. Additionally, as the band came to the end of a standard “Walk Away,” Page upped the musical ante on his organ, coaxing the band to add an extension into the normally short piece. And when Trey got the opportunity, boy did he ever take liberty, massacring a guitar solo as if he were a comic book hero. This segment is truly one for the books; a must-hear-now type situation. But other than a flowing “Ocelot” and a decent “Alaska” (if you like that sort of thing), the set didn’t offer much in terms of precision or excitement. This was the first set of tour that just didn’t really work for me, but throughout a tour, some sets are bound to fall flat.

Though unsteady overall, the few earnest high points of last night were as high as any we’ve seen thus far. But as we move onto Friday night, one would imagine this show will be far in the rear view mirror by Sunday, as an erratic kick-start to the weekend.

I: Punch You In the Eye, Ocelot, Dinner and a Movie, Stash, Esther, Walk Away, The Divided Sky, When the Circus Comes, Sugar Shack, Alaska,Golgi Apparatus

II: Party Time, Down with Disease > Sand > The Horse > Silent in the Morning, Guyute, Farmhouse, Mike’s Song > I Am Hydrogen > Weekapaug Groove

E: Shine a Light

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The First Four

Posted in Uncategorized with the tags on June 16th, 2010 by Mr.Miner

6.13.10 (M. Wagner)

Phish couldn’t have opened their summer tour with four more encouraging shows. While displaying precise chops and improvisational acumen, the clearest difference between this summer and last year is the confidence, intensity, and urgency behind their playing. With no members slacking, the band resembles the Phish of old – a four-headed, fire-breathing dragon. The band has obviously reached a level of pure comfort on stage again, opening the door to new possibilities – and some of these scenarios have already begun to unfold.

The band has showcased four different types of shows to kick off the tour, all without repeating a song. While the first sets carried a similar vibe, highlighting different pieces with tension-filled, structured jamming, the themes of the second sets have gone four different ways. Chicago’s proved exploratory and transcendent, with several open jams. Blossom’s turned creatively anthemic, with a menacing centerpiece of “Backwards Down the Number Line,” a jam that easily gets my vote for the defining moment of tour so far. Hershey’s became a fantasy setlist with a balance of grooves and exploration to satisfy everyone, while transforming the GA show into a huge dance party. And finally, Portsmouth’s emerged as a song-based set with a light, summery vibe. Four shows, four diferent feels; the excitement continues to build.

6.11.10 (S.LaBrasca)

One of the questions coming into this summer concerned new covers, with many fans having tired of the same ol’, same ol’. And lo and behold, Phish has come out with three brand new covers in the first four nights of tour. Whether or not these songs will stay in rotation is yet to be discovered, but out of “Look Out, Cleveland,” Instant Karma,” and “Cold Water,” I would wager my money on John Lennon’s classic. In addition, Phish unveiled two original pieces, Trey and The Dude if Life’s “Show of Life,” and Mike’s “Idea.” These two, completely different songs will soon become launch pads for extremely different jams. “Show of Life” carries spiritual and uplifting potential, while “Idea” holds the reigns of blow-out dance sessions with bass-led grooves and two distinct improvisational sections.

Along with their tightness and confidence, the band has also displayed a willingness to take risks, delving into plenty of innovative improvisation. Taking a minimalist approach to many jams, Trey has often sat back, slowly building around Mike’s leads with atypical phrases ranging from bending, sustained notes to short, delicate licks. Hints of a new type of psychedelia have peeked out of this style, something the band may build upon as the tour moves on. The communication between Trey, Mike, and Page has been utterly impressive, and Fishman has been holding things down with authority.

6.11.10 (S.LaBrasca)

6.11.10 (S.LaBrasca)

The band’s proficiency has not only allowed them to sculpt open explorations, but extremely creative jams that have remained anchored to their song structures. Pieces like Chicago’s “Bowie,” and “Limb,” and Hershey’s “Runaway Jim,” “Split,” “Twist,” and “YEM,” are all perfect examples of this style that has revitalized so many Phish classics over the opening run of tour.

As they moving into the high-key, Northeastern portion of their tour, Phish is riding an undeniable wave of momentum. Between Hartford, SPAC, and Great Woods – the musical dramatics are sure to escalate in what is quickly becoming a very special summer.

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Songs of Summer

Posted in Uncategorized with the tags , on June 16th, 2010 by Mr.Miner

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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Shots of Sunday

Posted in Uncategorized with the tags , on June 14th, 2010 by Mr.Miner

6.13.10 - Hersheypark Stadium (Matt Wagner)

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6.13.10 (M.Wagner)

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6.13.10 (M.Wagner)

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6.13.10 (M.Wagner)

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Chocolate Thunder

Posted in Uncategorized with the tags , on June 14th, 2010 by Mr.Miner

6.12.10 (M.Stein)

Phish added a large piece to their legacy in Hershey, Pennsylvania last night, throwing down a bass-led massacre in Chocolate City. Throughout two sets of pure Phish fire, Mike took center stage, leading the band through an array of creative jams in which Trey played noticeably more subtle, laid back offerings all night long. Boasting an enhanced creativity through more diverse playing, Trey helped sculpt a show that certainly upped the ante for the rest of the summer. With a bombastic second set and a stellar first, Phish capped the weekend with their strongest overall performance of this summer, which – although hard to believe – has only just begun!

As the sun shone though the clouds of the early evening, Phish came on stage flying high with a groovy greeting of “Jibboo.” Entering the song’s candy grooves, Mike’s presence was immediately felt as his thumping lines bounced though the the wide open field like a kangaroo in the outback. Setting the tone for the show, both Trey wove his lines around his cohort’s leads, eventually bringing the jam to a searing peak of his own. But following the late-’90s TAB transplant, the rest of the first set took on a pronounced old-school persona. While barreling through a roaring, yet intricate, “Chalkdust,” it became very apparent only three shows into tour, regardless of what songs Phish is playing these days, they are simply destroying them all. With a tightness that sounds foreign after the late-’90’s groove era and post-hiatus’ more abstract improv, seeing Phish 2010 is like seeing a renewed band– a bandone that wants to be exactly where it is once again and is having a blast doing IT.

6.12.10 (M.Stein)

The retro-vibe continued with a massive first set “Fluffhead,” showcasing the the pin-point accuracy of Phish’s chops and the intense tension and release that comes along with such precision. Infused with a undeniable urgency, “Fluff” illustrated that the band can once again toy with energy like children in a sandbox, manipulating music as if it were a tangible object. After a seriously cathartic peak, the band dropped into the now-rare “Funky Bitch,” annihilating a version that brought the crowd energy to ferocious first-set heights. From this early point in the show, it became wholly evident that Phish was feeling the flow, likening Loony Tunes’ Tasmanian Devil, taking out anything and everything that stood in their path.

6.12.10 (L.Neuhaus)

Phish continued their scorching opening sequence with the most engaging “Runaway Jim” since their comeback. While remaining within the song’s structure, the entire band oozed creativity as they chugged through the jam. Trey offered delicate licks as opposed to face-melting leads, a pattern that held true for much of the night’s music. This “Jim” proved that the little doggie can still inspire greatness, something it hadn’t yet done this go-round. The show’s only relative lull came in the five-song sequence of “NICU,” “Horn,” “It’s Ice,” “Bouncin” and “Sparkle,” but Phish came right back, punctuating their spirited frame with a demonically abstract “Split Open and Melt.” A version that grew outwards as quickly as it pushed forward, the band, collectively, built a hypnotizing, discordant gem that saw Trey favor tonal bends and washes of psychedelia rather than forceful linear leads. A version that needed a re-listen to truly digest, Phish tapped into a demented realm of darkness as night fell upon setbreak.

Building on the well-crafted second sets of the past two nights, Phish came out in Hershey’s with a musical stanza that flowed impeccably. Lacing together several of their “greatest hits” with creative bass-led improv that just never stopped, Phish crushed a classic frame from the opening note to the last. First the setlist – “Drowned > Tweezer > Twist, Piper > Free, Velvet Sea, YEM” – booyakasha! Or as MC Hammer once sang, “Can’t touch this!” And the playing within matched the absurdity of the visual setlist, one imaginative piece after another.

6.12.10 (L.Neuhaus)

The most expansive jam of the evening came right out of the gates in a multi-faceted jaunt through “Drowned.” Out of the jam’s shredding rock textures, Phish slowed it down into a heart-tugging segment of transcendent psychedelia. And, even in this mellow realm, the band molded their experimentation with Mike at the center of the music. Moving through this ethereal palette as if a daydream, the band soon pushed into a series of lively percussive grooves. Moving in the direction of a dance party, the band wound the jam directly into the first “Tweezer” of 2010. Entering a series of dense liquid patterns, Phish molded a heavy space-aged sequence that seemed that it might launch into the stratosphere. But, ironically, when the dust settled, “Tweezer” stood out as the least exploratory jam of the second set, remaining a showcase for Gordon’s thunder, while Trey spat nasty licks, bringing a snarling element to mix.

6.12.10 (L.Neuhaus)

Following an extended build, the band settled into an ambient section that soon segued  into “Twist.” With some of the best interplay between Trey and Mike all night, it was a relief to see Phish take”Twist” for a significant ride once again. With shorter, staccato-esque licks, Trey darted in and around Mike’s heavily effected basslines, creating a musical game of cat and mouse. Boasting sizzling chops, the entire band moved with intent, collectively manifesting a slamming piece of interlocked dance music. It seems that each time Phish busts out a song right now, they are topping any previous 3.0 version, and this pattern certainly held true with “Twist.” And then, after a momentary pause, Phish breathed life into the year’s first “Piper” –  an immediately exciting proposition, after the song’s stellar 2009. On this night, the band chugged right out of the searing composed jam into one of the night’s most compelling adventures. With a take-no-prisoners attitude, the band careened into a rollicking case of musical density, following on the heels of Miami’s standout excursion. This “Piper” continued pushing the ceiling for the piece’s modern potential, and became another vivid illustration of everything right in current Phish universe.

Splashing down in “Free,” the time seemed ripe for Phish to take the song to town once again. But in the end, “Free” seems like a song whose purpose has changed permanently from jam vehicle to landing pad in this era, and some things we just must accept. Following the relentless opening hour of the set, Phish used “Velvet Sea” to set up a closing “YEM” that brought the house to its knees with its laid back funk fantasy. Again taking a minimalist approach, Trey sat way back, issuing swanky tickets for Gordon’s multiple bass violations. An example of what “YEM” can be when given the tender loving care it deserves, this version just built on the strong Fall ’09 renditions, providing an indelible exclamation point on a evening of modern legend.

With three shows down and fifteen to go, the sky is once again the limit for Phish shows, a place where the extraordinary music once again happens with alarming regularity. Even though the temperatures can’t get much hotter on Summer Tour 2010, the mercury of the music is rising faster than ever. Look Out, Portsmouth, there’s a storm coming through.

I: Gotta Jibboo, Chalk Dust Torture, Fluffhead, Funky Bitch, Runaway Jim, NICU, Horn, It’s Ice, Bouncing Around the Room, Sparkle, Split Open and Melt

II: Drowned > Tweezer > Twist, Piper > Free, Wading in the Velvet Sea, You Enjoy Myself

E: Bold As Love

***

6.12.10 - Blossom Music Center (L.Neuhaus)

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Blossoming

Posted in Uncategorized with the tags , on June 13th, 2010 by Mr.Miner

6.12.10 - Blossom (M.Stein)

Long known for playing anthemic Saturday night shows that cater to their more mainstream weekend audiences, Phish approached the first Saturday night of 2010 with a playful, self-referential twist. Connecting a sequence of “Saturday-Night” songs that were often characterized by formulaic jamming throughout 2009, Phish infused Blossom’s second set with their re-found intention, crafting an refreshing frame of forward looking improvisation.

6.12.10 (M.Stein)

For the second consecutive night, the band formed a flowing second set of music, this time, with a celebratory thread running throughout. Opening up with a quintessential Saturday night trio of “Rock and Roll > Hood, and Backwards Down the Number Line” Phish pushed the boundaries of these well-loved anthems, creating some of the most compelling moments of this young tour. After a familiar-sounding “Rock and Roll” that moved from a fierce peak into a layered, ambient passage, the band dropped into a surprise early-set “Harry Hood.” Dripping with passion unlike any other of this era, Trey led the band in, easily, the most awe-inspiring version of their early opus since their return. An instant-classic that left more than a few jaws on the ground, this monumental “Hood” set the tables, however, for the jam that would steal the show like the Hamburgler pocketed quarter-pounders.

Re-emerging after a fall tour of relative inactivity, Phish took “Backwards Down the Number Line” further than ever before, launching into, perhaps, the defining jam of the opening two shows. After the band noodled out of the song’s structure, Phish shifted gears into a menacing milieu of secret-agent, spy-mission Phish drama. Without having a chance to hear the show before writing this, I can safely say that this excursion provided the unquestionable centerpiece of the show. Drifting into the same new sound that emerged from “Light” and “Ghost” in Chicago, Phish furthered their leap into the future with this clandestine journey. Check this out with all due speed, as I’m sure I’ll be revisiting this one in writing before too long. Spilling into “Twenty Years Later” in a reprise of the sequence that highlighted SPAC’s ’09 summer closer, Phish merged the two songs of Joy into a concentrated dose of musical psychedelia.

6.12.10 (M.Stein)

After a hearty exhale following this non-stop opening hour of the set, the band took a moment, preparing for what was next. After some clear communication between Trey and Page, in which Page looked ready and willing, if not a bit overwhelmed, Phish launched into John Lennon’s “Instant Karma!” Coming out of the furthest corner of left field, and sounding incredibly authentic to the original, the band opened the door to a brand new cover that will surely work its way into rotation this summer. Fishman’s replication of the strapping, hard-edged drumbeat gave the song its genuine sound, steering away from his usual intricate drum patterns. But the clear hero of the moment was Page McConnell, who absolutely slayed John Lennon’s vocal part, replicating both his tone and intonation, spot on. While the debut remained as the straight song, I wouldn’t doubt if Phish began to jam out of the “Instant Karma’s” unique textures before too long. A uniting song that fits the spirit of Phish 3.0, this comes as a welcome addition to the band’s ever-expanding repertoire.

And putting a stylistic ass-slap to their Saturday night set, Phish broke out the old-school funk in “Oh Kee Pah >Suzie.” And with time for one last scorcher, the band instead chose to split time between a gorgeous rendition of “Waste” and a gargantuan, snarling take on “Character Zero.” Taking their mainstream theme right on through the set-closer, Phish continued to slay their anthems like Super Mario taking out dragons. Crushing each and every piece in their path, Phish left a torrid wake in the Cleveland region as they made the circus made its way through a driving rain towards Hershey. And that was just the second set!

6.12.10 (M.Stein)

Phish opened the show in the intimate pavilion with another debut cover – The Band’s “Look Out, Cleveland.” A thematic table-setter, this cover of the one-and-done variety, follows a handful of songs that Phish has used to honor specific geographical locales. Phish followed the The Band’s Americana feel, with a slice of their own in the slowly stretching “Ocelot.” Moving into more delicate, bluesy textures, this jam evoked the sounds of The Grateful Dead, a direction the piece seems to be moving. Again using the first set as a showcase for creative, succint jams, alongside “Ocelot,” Phish also shredded a “Stash” before dropping Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “The Ballad of Curtis Loew” for the second time in the 3.0 era, and, also, the second time since 1993. But the unquestionable high point of the first set came after time turned elastic in the long-overdue ressurection of “Mike’s Groove.”

6.12.10 (M.Stein)

Crushing “Mike’s Song” with a militant musical escapade, Trey looked as if he had reacquainted himself with the ethos of the song, wearing his dramatic motions on his sleeve while demonically setting up shop. The band joined in the heavy hitting improv, which ironically didn’t surpass in time many of 2009’s versions, but the density of ideas was unparalled and anything but formulaic. And even more spectacular than “Mike’s,” for the first time in eons, Phish took “Weekapaug” by the jugular and created a truly original jam. Feeling his mojo, Trey stepped to the front of stage with a swagger with spitting leads of fury in what was nothing short of a modern revelation for the song.

After only two nights of summer, Phish creativity has been staggering, not only in their cosmic communication, but also in their show-sculpting. Bringing a completely fresh feel to the table, Phish has begun the process of reinvention once again. And things have never looked so promising…

I: Look Out Cleveland*, Ocelot, Water in the Sky, Stash, The Ballad of Curtis Loew, Sample in a Jar, Time Turns Elastic, Mike’s Song > I Am Hydrogen > Weekapaug Groove

II: Rock and Roll > Harry Hood > Backwards Down the Number Line > Twenty Years Later, Instant Karma*, The Oh Kee Pa Ceremony > Suzy Greenberg > Waste, Character Zero

E: The Squirming Coil

*debut

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Blast Off 2010!

Posted in Uncategorized with the tags , on June 12th, 2010 by Mr.Miner

7.31.09 (W.Rogell)

Sometimes the waiting in life makes the reward so much sweeter. An extended, six-month gap of Phish-less existence ended in style last night with a full-on blowout in Chicago, arguably, the most exciting tour-opener since Summer ’99. Picking up right where they left off in Miami, Phish came out with an arsenal of tightly-wound improvisation, giving a nod to their rebuilding year while opening the gates wide open to the new universe of Phish 2010. It didn’t take very long for the band to answer whole lot of questions last night, coming out of the gates with an focused intensity unseen in this era. With a  first set comprised of classic jam vehicles, and a second frame pointed directly towards the future, the band made just the statement that everyone was looking to hear.

12.29.09 (W.Rogell)

Wasting no time on warm ups, the band fired out with an opening combo of “Disease” and “Wolfman’s,” each boasting succinct, densely-packed jams, which soon became the theme of the first set. With no filler whatsoever, the band moved from one piece to the next, leaving a wake of fire behind them. While featuring smoking renditions of “Possum,” “Divided Sky,” and “David Bowie,” the true highlight of the opening frame came in the mid-set “Reba.” Taking a minimalist approach to the jam, Trey sat way back after the initial grooves, allowing the band to sculpt their ideas around his sparse offerings. Tastefully picking up the lead, Trey lead the collective piece to a head, first with subtly, and then with soul-scraping intention. As “Reba” brought the show into dusk, however, little did we know the fury that lied right behind setbreak.

When Phish is at their creative best, they have an ability to weave together jams and songs with a stylistic thread that unites sets with staggering coherency. Often containing strong melodic themes and improvisational unity, these sets are remembered as far more than the sum of their parts even though the very parts of set are the breath-taking substance. Last night, Phish played a set that not only fell into these categories, but easily vaulted to the top stanzas of 3.0 with musical passages that brought a true sense of musical drama back to the stage of the Phish. Absolutely letting loose throughout the second half, the band’s drill-bit focus and energy never wavered, crafting a emotively contoured set that represents the tip of the iceberg for Summer 2010. Phish not only demolished every jam throughout the set, but connected everything with utmost care, in a musical stanza that left everyone drooling for Cleveland.

11.21.09 (W.Rogell)

Annihilating the set-opening triumvirate of “Light > Maze, Ghost,” Phish immediately engaged in extended forays into creative, subconscious psychedelia, providing the Chicago audience with all they bargained for, while giving us some potential foreshadowing of a new musical direction. This fresh sound was characterized by bass-led rhythmic patterns painted by emotive wails and more sustained washes of tone and color by Trey and Page, rather than any clear melodic leads. Pushing “Light” and “Ghost” into completely new places, Phish announced their summer arrival with a unique and far-reaching take on two of their most significant songs, sparking imaginations of what lies down the road.

In the vein of 2009’s most creative “Light” from Madison Square Garden, this version moved well beyond it into a musical depth that we had yet to see from the song. Reaching new planes of open exploration, this multi-faceted piece passed through realms of darkness and of light, emerging as the most creative “Light” ever – for now. Merging with “Maze” through a drawn out, ambient passage, Phish attacked the song like it was 1993 all over again. Seeing the band shred apart “Maze” like they haven’t in memory, it became clear at this point in the show, that we were watching a different band than last year.

12.2.09 (W.Rogell)

And then “Ghost” happened. Perhaps the most sky-scraping jam we have seen in 3.0 thus far, the band allowed the music to play them, reinventing what was possible on stage again. This several-tiered epic sounded like Phish being Phish for the first time in a really long time. With their musical proficiency at such level of such connectedness, the band was clearly able to allow their thoughts to fall by the wayside and play what they felt inside, crafting the first truly monumental jam of 2010. And something tells me there’s a lot more to come.

As “Ghost” slid into “Limb By Limb,” the audience might have thought they were getting a quasi-breather, but in reality, the band delved into a majestic piece of melodic jamming that really showed that things were hitting on all cylinders. A piece that remained largely-reigned in for 2009, stretched out into cascading dreamscapes, partaking the same magic carpet ride as the rest of the set. And just when everything finally settled, the band improvised a vocal ending to the song, adding a sparkle of Phishiness to the stellar version.

The following sequence of “Caspian, Horse > Silent” provided the bridge to a jazzy and dynamic “Antelope,” but not before the band took “Caspian” on a ride into waves of similar melodic bliss we had just heard from “Limb.” Following a calculative incarnation of their classic set-closer, most were busy catching their breaths from a dizzying “Antelope,” when Phish set out their newest spectacle – “Show of Life.”

Sometimes Phish debuts songs in akward places, and sometimes they just get them right; and in this case they chose latter. Placing their new uplifting piece on the heels of a such scorching set, “Show of Life” came into Phish’s worked in idyllic style. The juxtaposition of tone and pace after “Antelope” magnified the beauty of the band’s newest anthem. This song will unquestionably bring us on more than a few emotional odyessys before the month is out, providing Phish with a completely fresh, show-stopping palette for improvisation.

Closing the night with a raucous double-encore of “Cavern,” Julius,” the band sent everyone in Toyota Park home smiling.

And just like that, Phish was Phish again.

I. Down With Disease, Wolfman’s Brother, Possum, Boogie On Reggae Woman, Reba > Jesus Just Left Chicago, The Divided Sky, Golgi Apparatus, David Bowie

II. Light > Maze, Ghost > Limb By Limb, Prince Caspian, The Horse > Silent in the Morning, Run Like An Antelope, Show Of Life*

E: Cavern, Julius

*debut

====

PHOTOS: If you’d like to contribute photos of this summer to Phish Thoughts, please email them to mrminer@phishthoughts.com. There is no guarantee they will be used, but there is a need for some shots this summer!

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Here We Go…

Posted in Uncategorized with the on June 11th, 2010 by Mr.Miner

Toyota Park - 8.11.09 (C.Smith)

And tonight we begin again. Amidst a Chicago dizzy with celebration in the wake of the Blackhawks first Stanley Cup victory in 49 years, Phish comes to town to kick start summer tour. In a return visit to Toyota Park, Phish will begin 2010 in the distinctly un-intimate settings of Chicago’s MLS stadium on the south side of town. In a strange synchronicity, Phish will start tour in a soccer stadium on the opening day of the World Cup, the globe’s largest sports spectacle. The month long event, aired at all hours, will be a great accompaniment to the non-stop traveling circus, popping up on hotel televisions pre and post show all June.

What will be the opener? What will be the highlights? Will we hear any debuts? What will be the jam of the show? The answers are coming in a matter of hours…

=====

8.1.09 (G.Lucas)

NO SPOILERS UPDATE: Phish Thoughts’ “No Spoilers” Download Series is locked and loaded for Summer 2010. With behind-the-scenes maestro, HarrisC, running the show, those of you who want to listen to the shows without knowing what happened will again be in luck. We are going to roll with the same format as Fall tour – shows should be up by mid-day the following day. So if you want to live your own virtual tour from home, all you need is 24-hours of patience.

For those not familiar, Phish Thoughts’ “No Spoilers” downloads, allow me to explain. Each show will be offered in 2 files – “Set I” and “Set II + E.” There are no tracks, simply two unlabeled sets, therefore you can listen to the shows unfold as if you were there. Generally, the first source posted will be the one we use for these downloads. Down the road after tour, Phish Thoughts will offer regular, tracked copies of top-notch audience sources for each show.

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Jam of the Day:

Number Line > Carini” 8.11.09 II

A newly-released SBD nugget of last year’s standout segment from Toyota Park.

[audio:http://phishthoughts.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/06/12-Backwards-Down-The-Number-Line-_-Carini-2009-08-11-Toyota-Park-Bridgeview-IL.mp3]