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 ofย  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”

  1. Robear Says:

    night ya’ll.

    good stuff today.

  2. BrandonKayda Says:

    anybody still up?

  3. butter Says:

    just got back from dinner

    what up BK….you still reelin from your first shows?

  4. BrandonKayda Says:

    Hey @Butter!

    How have you been lately? MPP was incredible.

  5. voidboy Says:

    Hey, what up?

    Damn, I’m showing up too late to these little “BB Sessions”

  6. BrandonKayda Says:

    I’ve been doing good – playing a whole lot of piano this past week or so, a lot of improvisation. Been really enjoying myself lately

  7. BrandonKayda Says:

    Hey @Void! What’s up man?

  8. voidboy Says:

    I always love your avatar… reminds me of Frank Zappa.

    Playing’s good… love to play… especially after a good swim… really loosens everything up… playing is so much smoother and “non rushed”. Gelled out, as it were.

  9. BrandonKayda Says:

    My avatar is actually a painting of Frank Zappa ๐Ÿ˜€

    Yeah – I’ve especially been liking playing dissonant/tension and release type improvisation – really fun. The cool thing is that I always end up in a different place than where I started (I normally go for like 15-25mins). I try to keep the jamming as fluid as possible, I think it sounds good atleast ๐Ÿ™‚

    I have to record one of these someday. Once I get my hands on one of those little mini-recorders it’s a done deal.

  10. voidboy Says:

    @BK

    “My avatar is actually a painting of Frank Zappa”

    Yeah, I always imagine that I’m speaking to him/you… though I know he’s passed on and all… I just remember old film footage of him strutting down the boulevard (probably Hollywood or the Haight or something like that). Pretty wild stuff.

    as far as jamming… I like to start out with a couple of notes and sort of work my way around… keep building until I break into something (composed) that I’ve played before… work through that and drop into some unknown territory… sometimes I’ll stare at the floor and imagine I’ve “stepped off” (a cliff) to pick up the vibe again…

    Yeah recording is always lurking there but I’ve been a little too strapped for time as of late.

  11. butter Says:

    been good @BK

    enjoying being home and family time

    the piano improv sounds fun

  12. voidboy Says:

    @Butter,

    Any good shows lately? Spinning any vintage Dead?

  13. BrandonKayda Says:

    One of the jams i did tonight – I started out in a dark Em thing, and then built it into a major key jam, went back into the darkness, then I fell into some funk progression and rode that for a few minutes – then I peaked it and finished with a bunch of sustain. I thought it sounded really good. What do I know though.

    I need to try that RE: Going into a composed song out of a jam, then back into improvisation. I think I’ll do that tomorrow. Thanks! ๐Ÿ™‚

  14. voidboy Says:

    @BK,

    Sounds like some heady stuff. Yeah, you should start recording some stuff. If not to share, to at least capture those “moments” where you felt “IT” came together.

    Yeah, I’ve got some pieces that I’m always trying to “stretch” and cobble together as I play… sometimes it comes together good and other times lays flat. I couldn’t imagine trying to do that stuff in front of thousands of people with all those “expectations” hanging out there. Tough stuff. Not for the faint at heart.

  15. BrandonKayda Says:

    Yeah @Void – I’ve really been enjoying playing lately, but I would probably have huge anxiety if I tried to play in front of an audience. Maybe not. It’s pretty intense regardless

  16. voidboy Says:

    I notice my playing “improves” in front of people I guess because of focus but my creativity (risk taking) drops off… pieces are shorter and safer, albeit cleaner.

  17. butter Says:

    what up void

    just got every Dylan album from a buddies hard drive….(like 50 including compilations and live official releases)

    starting to dive into that, and some various reggae, along with the required 2010 Phish

  18. butter Says:

    i’m out, take care guys

  19. voidboy Says:

    @butter,

    Sounds like a hefty chew… talk to you later.

  20. RamblinOnMyMind Says:

    @Void and BK – It’s weird that you’re having this discussion now. I’ve been reading a lot of jazz criticism this week and realizing that I really need to learn some music theory. I’ve been scouring Amazon for stuff on approaches to improvisation…more philosophical stuff I guess since I am not a musician. I’ve come to the conclusion that I need to play an instrument to really understand what I’m hearing when i listen to a jazz piece or even Phish improv. Haven’t played saxophone since 9th grade, and spent like two months doing some rudimentary guitar stuff in high school, but that’s it.

    Any words of wisdom for someone seriously contemplating the tedious task of relearning how to read music and use technical concepts? I just don’t see myself understanding the art of improv or fully appreciating the full genius of guys like Mingus and Monk without a passing familiarity with playing jazz (even if it’s really basic)

  21. voidboy Says:

    @Rambling..

    For those about to rock… “We salute you”

    Yeah, Sax could be a good choice though guitars are easier to come by and probably cheaper.

    I personally have done little “reading” of music in the traditional sense… though I can pick up bits by ear… or through TABS. I personally just like to “play” and see what comes out. Formal training would have certainly shaved off years of noodling around as well as helped me unlearn bad habits. Would seriously rec. lessons for sure, but keep it fun…

  22. RamblinOnMyMind Says:

    Ah, so your real message is to learn as many AC/DC licks on my acoustic as I can

  23. voidboy Says:

    @Ramble,

    Hey, the’re easy to learn… easy to sing.. (hell, Phish will even cover em…) and the women just dig it (well, some do). Can you imagine a jazzy rendition of “Back in Black”… don’t laugh… I heard a jazz trio playing in a Promenade Mall segue flawlessly into “Smoke on the water” before floating back into their opening number. Heady stuff. And on Sax, it would kill.

  24. BrandonKayda Says:

    I’d recommend mixing music theory and improvisation – taking lessons/classes would definitely help.

  25. BrandonKayda Says:

    The basic Jazz Chord Progression is

    II – IV – V

    That basically means, following a scale, it is the second chord, the fourth chord, and the fifth chord.

    In the key of C, with the C Major scale being C-D-E-F-G-A-B-C, that would mean the first chord would be D-F-A (stacking triads onto the note), the fourth chord would be F-A-C and the fifth chord would be G-B-D.

    I hope that helps if you are still wondering about basic jazz progressions.

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