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.


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.




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”

  1. joe Says:

    by the way, I really enjoyed the dead studio mix, mr. c. well crafted. I wasn’t in the recommended state of mind but liked the flow nonetheless.

  2. zzyzx Says:

    AW – you have to understand that you’re at an extreme end of the bell curve. It’s still your preference, but people like to hear songs that they haven’t before (or in my case outside of Alumni, songs that I haven’t heard in a long time). I kind of miss the rush of getting that moment of, “YES! I’ve loved this song for years and I’m finally hearing it live!” The last first times that weren’t new songs for me were 12/31’s NO2 and It’s Dog Log, neither of which were songs that I love love loved, but I still felt that rush…

  3. poop goblin Says:

    But I love buffalo bill

    If fyf was played by itself in the first set it would be lame

    It worked cuz it fit out of the nice carini jam

  4. Mr. Completely Says:

    I missed that article

    must have been when my Sassy subscription lapsed…

    great story though

    of course the real point of the return of Dark Star was it meant the return of actual open (to a degree) jamming, just as the return of Slipknot meant the return of practicing, and the whole series of bustouts taken as a unit meant they had caught the creative fire in general and were actually trying again after years of at least semi-coasting….

    so it’s not really a very meaningful comparison to any single bustout Phish might drop

  5. RamblinOnMyMind Says:

    An Alabama Getaway bustout sounds pretty weak….

    Then again I’d kill to see Jerry in person doing anything. Missed that boat completely. I was ten when he died.

  6. hoedown Says:

    Ramble on- no worries I was confused about what you were talking about.
    Gob- if all the excursions happen out west then what the hell happened at 8. I flew out there and had a fucking blast but overall I didn’t get the “excursions” I had hope for and somewhat expected. Although that Fire breathing Mikes was pretty sweet B)

  7. zzyzx Says:

    “I missed that article

    must have been when my Sassy subscription lapsed…”

    We were reading it in a dorm… I forget who bought it. The best part was that you could see me in the background of a photo from that show so I kept saying, “I am the sassiest boy at Bard College!”

  8. poop goblin Says:

    Agreed xyz

    But I met a kid that’s seen 350 shows and fyf was his favorite moment

    It kept him from jumping off

    That shits crazy to me

    40 year old cat chasing rarities

  9. Mr. Completely Says:

    thanks @joe! glad you liked it!

    and yeah the FYF was totally context dependent, sure, and won’t be nearly as facemelting if they play it again soon

    but there’s a big list of those kind of dark little things they do that are better segue’d in a second set than dropped randomly into a first set…Buffalo Bill included…also Sanity, BBFCFM etc…certainly that Ghost > NO2…

    so many of those things work best when you’re just flying along in a jam and all of a sudden weird shit is happening and you’re like whaaaaaa?

  10. poop goblin Says:

    First Alabama in 6 years was fun as hell man

    Not as epic as unbroken but spring tour red shirt green chord spring tour opener Alabama was fun as hell

    Sure beats Picasso moon

  11. zzyzx Says:

    Is it less crazy for a 40 year old to be chasing dark jams or chasing peaks? The whole thing is kind of stupid if you look at it logically.

  12. joe Says:

    the only one of those what is going on moments out of a jam that I don’t really like is Kung. that’s just a little beyond my weirdness threshold.

  13. Mr. Completely Says:

    “Sure beats Picasso moon”


    you got that right!

    Alabama wasn’t my favorite when I was hearing it every third show but when it lapsed I missed it….

    “That shits crazy to me
    40 year old cat chasing rarities”

    Not my thing either but whatcha gonna do? People are weird, and Phish fans more so than most.

  14. Omni1 Says:

    Besides the typical Mikes there hasn’t been an honest to goodness segue in a long while…..

  15. zzyzx Says:

    Don’t like Kung?!?!? It was especially intense at the 20th anniversary show.

    (Side note, I apparently was partially responsible for Kung being brought back. I made Shelly a tape of a show in fall 92 and put an 80s version of Kung on as filler and apparently that inspired the 12/31/92 return.).

  16. barefootbob Says:

    Everything is a personal experience….I have seen over 100 and one of my favorite shows was the St. Louis Kiel Center when the 2nd set was dedicated to the letter M and the no. 420. John Popper made a surprise performance – the setlist and show…ehh not the best but what an experience to be there. Awesome moment.

  17. poop goblin Says:

    Not really

    Phish don’t play songs or write songs all that well

    That went gin or murat gin is this bands gift.
    What makes them special

    Without top rate rock based improv they are dmb

    This isn’t the dead

    Summer of 89 is not Stella blue

  18. Mr. Completely Says:

    well @z

    not sure I agree there, if you accept that being a music lover isn’t inherently crazy

    open ensemble improv is one of the hardest things there is to do well (it’s easy to do it badly)

    makes the prog rock stuff look like childs play

    as a fan of improvisational music in general – not just Phish, not just Phish and the Dead – those moments are fascinating and compelling to me on many levels

    unless you discount aesthetic experience in general I think it’s a pretty legit interest

    chasing rarities is a little closer to stamp collecting I think – which is fine too

  19. poop goblin Says:

    Loved that show bob

    I did almost all of 96

  20. joe Says:

    a little too theatrical for me I guess zzyzx.

  21. Mr. Completely Says:

    also, what @goblin said

    agree with that post with the exception that they are good at the prog rock songcraft thing, or used to be in the early years

    but that’s not my thing, so…

    not that they don’t have good songs in their way, for instance the match between the music and lyric in Maze is quite clever conceptually

    but the jams are – for me – at a much higher level of sophistication

  22. pabalive Says:

    Miner – I am getting to this very late. But, I must say that I really enjoy when you truly critique the band rather than just gush about them. I understand, this is Phish and there is so much to gush about. However, its nice to hear this form of editorializing from you. Keep it up. Next topic, where’s the bluegrass?

  23. zzyzx Says:

    “chasing rarities is a little closer to stamp collecting I think – which is fine too”

    Well as someone who likes both, I’m telling you that they come from the same place. The stamp collecting aspect comes in a little for songs that you don’t like – say that FUCKING Alumni that’s CLOGGING UP MY NOT SEEN LIST!!!- but the 12/30 Tela or Corinna was great for me because I love seeing those songs and I haven’t had that experience in so long that there was a built up tension.

  24. poop goblin Says:

    I’m just the bust out hater

    Feel trey thinks they can make a set now instead of compliment an already hot set

    I’ll drop it though
    Enough been said

    Fuckin Greek bitches
    West coast phish

  25. Mr. Completely Says:

    I agree @paba

    I do think it helps that Miner is basically coming from a very positive perspective so when he does critique something you know he means it and has thought about it

    not just some random hater who lives to bag on Phish

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