TreyDHD and The Forced Segue

7.3.10 (W.Rogell)

Communication is the key to any group endeavor. Whether competing in athletics, working within a company, or playing in a band, one must understand what their teammates are doing to best perform their own task. This is a basic tenet learned at the ground level of any cooperative organization, and one that is essential to the success of any group task. It wouldn’t work if two receivers ran the same route, or if two infielders tried to catch the same pop-up, just as it wouldn’t work if a running back didn’t follow his blocking scheme or several people tried to run a meeting. Anyone who has ever worked within a team structure understands the value of communication.

For a band that communicates so proficiently within their improvisational playing, the question after the first leg of summer has to be “Why doesn’t Phish make fluid segues between their songs?” With a handful of exceptions, the band’s attempts at legitimate transitions have ranged from rocky to complete train wrecks. More often than not, Trey directly causes these indecisive changes by not communicating his intentions to his band mates before impatiently pushing through the music with a new song. There were more than a few times last month where the band was fully engaged in a jam, and Trey busted into the piece like a bully scratching the needle over the record, forcing his choice upon everyone.

6.26.10 (G.Lucas)

Some of these transitions came within the context of  jams that were still moving and others came when pieces were largely resolved. But timing is hardly the point here; I completely accept that jams are over when Trey says they are – for better or worse – all I’m saying is take one minute to morph from “Meatstick” to ” Saw It Again.” And for God’s sake, let the band know the plan! Too often, Trey took his own cohorts by surprise, let alone jolting the audience, with his sudden musical u-turns. The reason why this choppy trend is so ridiculous, is that in their hey-day, and throughout most of their career, Phish was a band that could get from any musical place to another with stunning fluidity and quickness! Everyone knows they can do it, the question is, “Why is Trey being so impulsive?”

6.24.10 (G.Lucas)

Let’s say we are at Great Wood’s amidst a deep “Light” jam, a centerpiece of the second set. Even though the band is immersed in a soupy, psychedelic groove, Trey decides it’s time to move on for whatever reason – fine. But instead of crassly coming in with the intro to “46 Days” over full-band improv, why not turn around and inform the band of his intent, allowing them to tactfully bridge songs? In the past, Trey has done this both verbally and non-verbally, sometimes using musical cues, but this summer he has simply sliced off jams, changing directions without any notice. Sometimes these changes seemed premature, as if the band was on the brink of something bigger, but even when improv had run its course, there was no need for such harsh changes. The band usually resisted Trey’s idea at first, as they did during Great Woods’ “Light,” continuing to jam, while creating an awkward onstage moment. But inevitably they relented to their leader in a series of JV transitions. My only question is, ” Why must this trend continue?”

6.25.10 (G.Lucas)

For a band that has forever made fluid segues between completely different musical planes, why, at the most mature point of their career are they ditching a major aspect of their onstage communication? Phish doesn’t have to make segues to craft successful shows, but if they are going to attempt them, they might as well make them work. To their credit, the band did execute some smooth transitions during tour, but there is no reason that these rough moments should be taking place at Phish shows in 2010. For someone who once poured over Phish setlists as if their craftsmanship was a matter of life and death, Trey’s concern for musical flow has certainly dissipated in favor of keeping shows rocking without any interpretable lulls.

The irony behind these abrupt changes is that it could take less than one minute for the band to cooperatively shift into a new song. Using only the skill of communication, Phish could have turned many herky-jerky, guitar-led mash-ups into seamless, flowing segments. Even though Trey’s sudden shifts didn’t always ruin the overall contours of sets, there were more than a few times that eyes were jolted open by out-of-context guitar intrusions. Though Phish is still on an upwards learning curve since their comeback last year, these speed bumps could easily be smoothed out. So as we quickly dial down the days to The Greek, let’s hope Trey realizes the jarring nature of these musical collisions, and consciously exercises patience and communication during Leg II.

***

For examples of these less than fluid moments from Leg I, check out the following sequences…

6.17 – “Sand > Horse,” 6.19 – “Halfway to the Moon > Caspian,” 6.22 – “Sally > Light > 46 Days,” 6.24 – “Crosseyed > Nothing,” 6.27 – “Meatstick > Saw It Again,” 7.3 – “Rock and Roll > Caspian,” 7.4 – “Disease > Piper.

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Jam of the Day:

Rock and Roll > Free” 6.19 II

SPAC’s second set opening sequence is a perfect example of a jam played to fruition and a patient segue into the next song.

[audio:http://phishthoughts.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/07/ph2010-06-19s2t01.mp3,http://phishthoughts.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/07/ph2010-06-19s2t02.mp3]

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DOWNLOAD OF THE DAY:

6.17.2010 Comcast Theatre, Hartford, CT < Torrent

6.17.2010 Comcast Theatre, Hartford, CT < Megaupload

Official Hartford Poster

The first night of Hartford contained a tour highlight in the blistering “Disease” jam that smoothly sailed into “Sand.” Then, Trey provided a prime example of today’s topic by relentlessly forcing “The Horse” into the groove without warning. Strong versions of “Ocelot,” “Stash,” and “Walk Away” stood out in a somewhat sloppy first set. This show had peak moments, but lost all momentum after “Forced > Silent.”

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

Source: DPA 4023 > Sonosax SX-M2 > Sound Devices 722 (24/96)

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928 Responses to “TreyDHD and The Forced Segue”

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  1. BrandonKayda Says:

    First!

  2. Thumpasaurus Says:

    While i usually agree with your phishthoughts mr. miner, i got to come out and say something about your forced segue bit. When you were speaking of teamsmanship, i completely agree with you. Being a chef i know of the necessities of being a team. However, when you are in the business of phish being PHISH, you are immersed into an enterprise of freeflowing “in the momentness,” which phish does at a supremely heightened level. The reality is that when you do what they do, “there are some good points and there are some bad points. I just hope that it all works out. I am just a little freaked out.” Forced phish pun but you get the idea. Sure there was some whacked out seguing during this 1st leg but this is not anything new here and frankly we should be used to it by now. But when the magic happens and the fruition of all their funky efforts come together, there arises a mystical level of understanding that very very few people have ever ascended to and i feel that we are plenty blessed to have that with phish. And i truly believe that this is the one and only reason why we (yourself included i think) all love these men of tremendous musical and phenomenological fortutide. Please reply because i think that you are being a little too critical here and if i am wrong enlighten me.

  3. RamblinOnMyMind Says:

    “Trey’s concern for musical flow has certainly dissipated in favor of keeping shows rocking without any interpretable lulls.”

    For the most part I agree with the assessment about Trey’s rocking intentions, but it’s interesting how UNapparent this is in today’s DOTD. The Sand>Horse was certainly a bad transition, but had it been executed well, it would have been understandable; they just had a pretty long sequence with DWD>Sand and a breather wouldn’t be out of place. But then to follow it (and the bad segue) with Guyute and Farmhouse? I’m not sure what Trey was going for with that one. If you want to keep momentum going, those strike me as odd song choices, even though the Farmhouse was well played. Being there, I was a little disappointed when they followed Forced>Silent with Guyute, but by the peak of Guyute I was ready for them to lay something heavy again. Farmhouse sucked the energy out of the venue and just kind of made for a weird vibe, even though, as I said, it was a really good performance of the song.

    I’d add that the Walk Away was more than “strong”; I thought it was exceptional.

  4. D Says:

    I appreciate your candor in this post. I couldn’t agree more.

  5. Mr. Murph Says:

    I am all in favor for better transitions. They are the ultimate jaw drop. If we could see more DWD>Mikes from Walnut 97, Bowie>Possum 97 MSG and one of my personal favorites Wolfmans>Sally 4/2/98. It seems to work very well through funk jams.

    BRING BACK THE FUNK!!!!!!

  6. BrandonKayda Says:

    DWD->Mike’s from Walnut Creek was flawless.

  7. Mr. Murph Says:

    It truly is. Trey starts teasing it ever so slightly, encompassing more and more off the riff until the entire band catches on. Then they drop into the right key and its history.

    What i love about the Wolfmans>Sally is that you can’t tell its coming at all. The jam is just progressing and then out of no where BAM!, your knee deep in oozy funk

  8. Exree Hipp Says:

    My favorite segue is the Clifford Ball’s Mike’s > Simple. A song pair they have done ten hojillion times but for whatever reason have never done it this way, or nearly as smoothly.

    Phish has never been a great segue band in the way the Dead clearly were but I always wondered why… When they really go for it it is a thing to behold.

    12/7/95 mike’s > week
    7/14/94 cavern > Wilson > cavern
    8/16/97 wolfman’s > simple
    8/16/97 halley’s > cities

    on and on

  9. Gavinsdad Says:

    Miner – been enjoying your topics of late, very focused, and I appreciate the personal passion over these issues. Without belaboring the point, I too always prefer adventurous and creative segues over choppiness…anyone in the know want to verify if the band was using setlists? If so, you’d thhink that they could have made more out of the movement from song to song.

  10. willowed Says:

    Great read Miner…Thank you
    9 years ago today Mrs. Willowed said “I do” to Mr. Willowed.
    She is an amazing women!!

  11. Gavinsdad Says:

    Ps…the fall dates I posted last nite came from a friend, not thru a legit source.

  12. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    congrats, willowed!

  13. Gavinsdad Says:

    Congrats Willowed. We have our tenth coming up in Sept. Who woulda thunk it? Enjoy.

  14. willowed Says:

    Thanks TIII
    Listening to the MPP Wolfman’s right now…..first time I’ve listened. This is a hot little number. Nice inclusion of the vocal jam prior to the jam….I like.

  15. willowed Says:

    Time moves too fast!

  16. Gavinsdad Says:

    I was so into the C&P and Nothing at Camden that I didn’t even realize that a segue was borked. Nothing remains my personal sleeper tune of Leg 1.

  17. DLA Says:

    Completely agree with this post. They could do so much more esp given the huge song repertoir. I’d like to see them not only do more segue changes but also take pieces of tunes and drop them into the middle of others. ie take the chorus of Limb x Limb for example. “And I am taken faaar awayyyy…”. A really cool melody that they could drop into another piece of flowing music providing another layer of harmony but also the surprise element. They could be much more creative. Seems theyre fairly grounded these days in this regard.

    Here’s a great example. Listen to the “Ghost” jam from Albany last fall. queue up to the 41:50 mark into the set (or about the 17:30 mark in the track). They could have so easily and fluidly dropped into a Character Zero chorus right there but they didnt. Had all the pieces in place for what would have been an EPIC change into that chorus. THATS the kind of stuff I want to see them start doing. Curious to hear your guys thoughts.

  18. Dogmattagram Says:

    I’ve always felt that Phish could do more with segues. Many other bands have been really creative in this regard – Dead, Umphrey’s, Disco Biscuits. Even Phil and Friends had some shows in which both sets were non-stop from start to finish. To my knowledge Phish has NEVER pulled off a complete set without stopping between songs. This just seems odd to me.

    In Trey’s defense: That transition from meat stick > saw it again was jarring at the show, but on relisten it started out working pretty well but then fell apart.

    I would love to hear more talk about some favorite past segues

  19. Dogmattagram Says:

    One of my personal favorites is the Stash set 11-14-95. All those transitions – manteca, dog faced boy – are butter. The Saw it again set at MPP really reminded me of that set.

  20. albert walker Says:

    I second the Clifford ball Mikes > Simple

    Ventura summer 97 bowie > cities > bowie is another seamless, effortless transition

  21. Dogmattagram Says:

    Could some of these rocky transitions be blamed more on other band members for not rolling with what could have been an interesting idea introduced by Trey? It seemed like mike and/or Fish kinda gave up on a couple of those instead of coming up with something imaginative to sort of morph the background into what Trey was doing in the foreground.

  22. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    To my knowledge Phish has NEVER pulled off a complete set without stopping between songs.

    a few examples (these are mostly second sets):

    11.16.97 Denver
    11.19.97 Champaign
    6.22.95 Finger Lakes
    2.15.03 Las Vegas
    8.2.03 Limestone (IT Day 1, set III)

    there are far too many sets to count where the only “break” was prior to a set closing YEM or Reprise (2.20.93 comes to mind).

    your point is well taken, however, as it is far less common than one would think for phish to play through an entire set with no stopping. I attribute some of this to the varied styles of songs they play. I imagine it isn’t very easy to go from jam to bluegrass to rocker to jazzy jam to whatever.

  23. Exree Hipp Says:

    Lot of obvious candidates here but maybe some that aren’t…

    Tweezer > Izabella 12/6/97
    Bag > Ghost 7/6/98
    Maze > Shafty 4/5/98
    Tweezer > Timber > Tweezer 12/14/95
    Stash > Dog Faced Boy > Stash 11/14/95
    The second set of 12/1/94
    Weekapaug > Purple Rain 12/30/93
    Sand > Quadrophonic Toppling 12/31/99
    The beautiful craziness of 6/22/94
    Ghost > Slave 7/4/99
    Split > Catapult 12/31/99
    Taste > DWD 2/17/97
    Drowned > Lizards 12/31/95
    Weekapaug > Sea and Sand 12/31/95
    Rock and Roll > After Midnight 12/31/99
    Twist Jam > Walk Away 6/14/00
    Heck, basically the entire second set of 6/14/00
    and the greatest rock and roll moment the band’s ever had, imo:

    12/29/95 Gin > Real Me > Gin

  24. Dogmattagram Says:

    Ok – Looks like I have some listening to do. Thanks for those @TIII.
    Agreed on the varied styles point.

  25. halcyon Says:

    Morning All.

    Make today a Double Rainbow All the Way type of day.

    Congrats to the Willowed’s.

    Great topic. One that will produce interesting discussion and debate. Looking forward to today’s posts.

    Segues when executed can bowl you over, and melt your Face!!!

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