The Telluride Experience

8.9.10 - Telluride, CO (Wendy Rogell)

For the past two nights, Telluride’s Town Park hosted one of the most memorable stands in Phish history. Between the fantasy-like town with a laid back mountain attitude and its tiny concert field within the Rockies, the stage was set for a weekend of wonder. Although the overall experience was second to none – a 48-hour lucid dream – the music, itself, didn’t hold up to the Berkeley’s opening run. Each night presented a totally different vibe, but neither show provided the type of magical soundtrack one might expect from a band known to adapt to their surroundings like a chameleon. The first night boasted more improvisational creativity than the second night’s setlist-driven dance party, but neither show matched the majesty of Telluride’s idyllic site. The shows certainly provided an unmatchable experience, but when the dust settles at the end of tour, not much music from the mountains will make it onto summer highlight reels.

Town Park - Telluride, CO (G.Lucas)

One one level, however, Telluride was more about the experience that the music. The spacious concert grounds carried a mini-festival feel where one could navigate the site unencumbered by lines or crowds. A blissful feeling permeated the audience as they floated down the small town blocks to Town Park for the first night of fun. Stepping onto the undersized field and gazing up at the monumental peaks, it was hard to believe Phish was actually playing the tiny mountain town. The rumors had come to fruition, and there we stood in the midst of paradise. Any forecasts of harsh Rocky weather dissipated quickly in a gorgeous summer afternoon. Playing from Telluride’s wooden stage of lore without their massive lighting rig, the band stepped into a historic setting on Monday night, and the fans were more than ready.

Phish delivered both of the weekend’s first sets in fairly standard style, allowing space for some surprises – “Camel Walk” and “Light Up Or Leave Me Alone” on night one and “Timber” and “Roses” on night two, some rock and roll – “Disease” and “Julius” on night one and “Faulty Plan” and “Walk Away” on night two, and structured jamming – “Ocelot” and “Stash” on night one and “Yamar” and “Antelope” on night two. Though each of these opening frames were played well, the main plot line of each night unfolded during the subsequent halves.

8.10.10 - Telluride, CO (Graham Lucas)

The second set of Telluride’s opening night brought flashes improvisational brilliance, while also languishing from a choppy flow and an aborted “Tweezer” that ended before it ever got started. Despite the inexplicably botched “Tweezer,” Phish painted the other pieces in this set with their patient creativity of this tour – something that would be completely absent during night two. A snarling “Sand” blasted the night wide open, as Mike and Trey took center stage, co-leading an adventure of dirty dance grooves. Kicking off the set with fire, the band immediately cooled their momentum with the second standard set-two “Number Line” in five shows. Like the song or not, radio single versions don’t belong as the second song in the second set. It seemed the band continued down this mellower path when they began “Prince Caspian,” but when they soared into a regal, unfinished jam, the ballad turned into one of the evening’s high points. Phish peaked the jam and oozed via piano into a haunting “Mind Left Body Jam” on the anniversary of Jerry’s death. While many expected a straight-out Dead cover to honor Garcia, Phish sculpted a subtle and psychedelic nod to their legendary predecessor. One of few open jamming segments of the weekend, Phish used this ambient passage to introduce into the long-awaited “Telluride Tweezer.”

8.10.10 (G. Lucas)

Amidst the monstrous mountains of western Colorado, Phish had crafted the opening half of the set quite well, setting the table for their exploratory vehicle of groove. But when the jam dropped into a crawling funk pattern, seemingly prepped for a cosmic journey, things got screwy. When Trey began playing short rhythm chops, ostensibly as part of the jam, Mike, for some reason thought Trey signaled a song change and began playing a slowed down version of his “Boogie On” bass line in a very clear and visible miscommunication. Mike’s momentum pushed the band into a segue and out of a six-minute “Tweezer” to the ultimate dismay of many fans. On the verge of realizing a colossal mountain odyssey, Phish, instead, gave us the largest case of musical blue balls in quite a while. Though it took some time to mentally get over the travesty that had just ensued, Phish proceeded to take the Stevie Wonder’s song on a bumping ride, substituting for some of the dance rhythms that “Tweezer” painfully lacked. Following their funk session, the band unveiled the unquestionable highlight of the weekend in one of the defining “Pipers” of this era.

Far more directed than Merriweather’s sprawling Leg I highlight, Telluride’s version carried a similar fury with enhanced cohesion. Instead of spraying the audience with a sawed-off shotgun of musical mania, the band carried a single thread through the entire jam. Chugging along as one unit, Fishman’s relentless rhythms coaxed unique bass offerings, while Trey and Page tore apart the top half of the music. Trey switched from lead lines to staccato rhythm chops on the fly, leading the band into a break-neck percussive poem. Adhered together with super glue, Phish careened through the intense piece of improv like a meteor. Locked and loaded, Phish darted and dashed through the evening’s most impressive sequence. Evolving organically through several stages of jamming, the band built an multi-faceted summer highlight as they finalized the piece with a grungy, ambient denouement. This adrenalizing quest bled into the location-appropriate “Mountains In the Mist” forming the defining musical sequence of the two days.

8.10.10 Telluride, CO (Wendy Rogell)

Concluding the set with a smoking “Bowie,” on this night Phish showcased their skills within individual jams rather than sculpting a flowing set of music. Sealing the deal with the first “Quinn the Eskimo” since ’99, Phish sent everyone off into the the pitch-black town with a smile. Though the set featured moments of brilliance, it certainly felt like the band left a lot of room for a night two blowout. If you had told they would have come back with a set-list driven rock show containing little creativity, I wouldn’t have believed you – this was Telluride after all! But that is exactly what happened.

Telluride’s final set, though a bombastic dance party, featured little original improv to write home about. Playing a highly-accessible frame that contained the opposite feeling of the mystical surroundings, the band blasted through a high-energy set that featured almost no risk-taking. While fun to dance to, the set’s only moment of true musical engagement came in the uber-psychedelic blown out ending of “Carini.” Turing to the melodic amidst heavy sonic sorcery, Trey spat juxtaposing lines against the ferocious textures. Descending into a ambient underworld of experimental sound, Phish crafted a gnarling musical palette that served as the evening’s unquestionable highlight.

8.10.10 (G.Lucas)

Every other song in the set came and went with precise playing and undeniable energy, but lacked any gripping improv, staying wholly inside the box. “YEM” contained more spunk than usual, but all in all, though the set carried a superior flow to the previous nights’, it didn’t present many original ideas. To illustrate this point, Phish never even broke form during “Crosseyed and Painless,” spending all nine minutes toying with the song’s original theme and never branching into a “Telluride Jam.” Each time Phish entered a new song, the potential  for creativity existed, but Phish opted out time and time again, favoring structured rock and roll. Throwing a bit of a curveball after the patient, extended jamming on display in Berkeley, the band played a set that, while fun, just didn’t feel congruent with the band’s emerging style of improv.

Official Telluride Poster (Stout)

Usually masters of playing to their surroundings, these shows suffered from a slight disconnect, as Phish pumped out music that didn’t feel like it belonged in the to-die-for setting. Listening back to music Phish has produced in vast settings such as The Gorge or The Fuji Rock Festival, one can hear the nature’s energy infused in the music. But put in a similar isolation and surroundings in Telluride, instead, Phish powered through a finale of fun, but straight-forward, music.With limitless space and a pristine setting, one couldn’t help but have a blast, but without any engaging jamming other than “Carini,” this set won’t get much future play.

And thus went the much anticipated Telluride weekend. It would be a near-impossible task to find a fan who didn’t have an amazing time over their days in Colorado, but the magic of Phish didn’t quite materialize over the two shows. As Phish leaves the west coast hype behind them in a trail of unforgettable memories, Deer Creek and Alpine have the potential to turn into the four-night run of the summer. Back in familiar surroundings again with tickets accessible to all, the specialty shows are over and tomorrow Phish will step into one of the classic summer venues of their career ready to roll. Back in the cornfields, at the half way point of their abbreviated second leg, and coming off a slight musical dip, all signs point to a Deer Creek blowout. Let’s get ready to rumble…

I: Down with Disease, Camel Walk, Ocelot, Light Up Or Leave Me Alone, Summer of ’89, Stash, Cavern, The Wedge, Possum, Julius

II: Sand > Backwards Down the Number Line, Prince Caspian > Tweezer > Boogie On Reggae Woman, Piper > Mountains in the Mist, David Bowie, A Day in the Life

E: Quinn the Eskimo, Tweezer Reprise


I: The Squirming Coil, Stealing Time From the Faulty Plan, Yamar, Timber, Let Me Lie, The Divided Sky, Walk Away, Roses Are Free > Limb By Limb, Bouncing Around the Room, Run Like an Antelope

II: Party Time, Mike’s Song, Crosseyed and Painless > I Am Hydrogen > Weekapaug Groove, Destiny Unbound, Carini > Free, Heavy Things, You Enjoy Myself

E: Shine a Light

Town Park, Telluride, CO - 8.10.10 (Wendy Rogell)

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1,000 Responses to “The Telluride Experience”

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  1. Matso Says:


    Again, I repeat my prediction: Friday will be the show of the summer. 8/13. Trey’s wedding anniversary (see 8/13/97 Amoreena; 8/13/09 banter). Friday the 13th. DC. Ghost due.

  2. Mr. Murph Says:

    Be on the look out for Waves and ASIHTOS.

  3. Foul_Domain Says:

    Morning All,

    Nice read, Miner. I guess, in hindsight, that a mostly song-driven dance party might follow the jamfest that was The Greek.

    What a run!

    I cant stop watching the Simple vid on Vimeo. SIMPLY mind blowing!

  4. Foul_Domain Says:

    DC Set II (In my dreams)

    The Curtain (With)->Billy Breathes, ASIHTOS->Ghost->Twist->Waves->Bliss->Swept Away->Steep->Taste, David Bowie


  5. BrandonKayda Says:

    Hey who’s up?

    Thunderstorm woke me up so I’m listening to Sigur Ros and watching the lightning

  6. Corey Says:

    Resting on the highway…in Montana.

    Greeks 1and2 were something else. Night two was wonderful. Fives days and we’re working our way to Alpine…can’t wait. Five days in between got us into Yosemite, Sequoia, Zion, Grand Teton, and Yellowstone. 5500mi. and counting…

    Who else is heading to Alpine? Running through Prince’s turf tomorrow. Perhaps a resurgence of the Purple Rain? 🙂

    Good morning and good night all. Back on the road…

  7. b-rock Says:

    Morning all! Thanks for the article Miner. the way these shows played out, particularly after the Greek, was surprising. Tonight’s dip into the abyss will be that much sweeter as a result .

    One who continues to bring the heat night in and out though — Wendy Rogell! That picture up top is $$$. Fantastic stuff.

  8. McGGGGG Says:

    First !!!!

    As a person who used to live in Colorado but now in London, scrolling through all the posts on Youtube is absolute torture. It looks sooo gooood.
    Stupid sexy Colorado!

  9. Matso Says:

    McGGGGG – I’m in London too so equally painful (the view of the Barbican from my office isn’t quite Colorado…). Drop me a line if you want to grab a beer at any point (mloertscher at that gmail thing)

  10. posternutbag Says:

    Sitting at the airport, soon to be DC bound! Here’s to “THE four-night run of summer”!

  11. McGGGGG Says:

    Matso! Got your email, it would be great to meet up for a beer. It might not be for a while as I’ll be in and out of London a lot until mid – Sept. My office over looks the O2 in Canary Wharf… some day they will come!!!!! The dome haunts me…. so close but so very few come to play that I want to see. Europe Tour next Spring????? Please!!!

  12. pabalive Says:

    On many levels this is classically Phish. Not necessarily handing down in the place we “expect” them to, but, they will deliver in the less obvious places. Case in point, just about any Camden show has been stellar despite its abysmal location, while, shows in more intimate settings in the 3.0 era have been lacking. Therefore, look out for Phish blowing it out in Jones Beach. Tour closers are always special, particularly when they are so close to home.

  13. In Flagrante Delicto Says:

    Waking up this AM in South Florida after all day travel back from CO yesterday is a tough pill to swallow. Telluride was gorgeous, and a lot of fun. One thing I haven’t seen mentioned is the temperature. Once the sun fell, that place got *cold.* Couldn’t help but think that the Tweezer and the Quinn the Eskimo were comments on the temp. I agree with Miner that the Carini was the bee’s knees of the two shows. Dark and scary, even without the full CK5 rig. Trey has some sort of voice effect that he was literally screaming into late in the jam. Pink Floyd teases all over that one. The days were unforgettable. The nights will be memorable more for the experience than the music.

  14. In Flagrante Delicto Says:

    And the new Langeudoc is a beauty. As are these Wendy photos. Well done!

  15. b-rock Says:

    In some ways I think Phish is a victim of their own incredible musical ability. Because we know they can launch a jam for the ages at any time, it creates an expectation that they’ll do it every time — basically we’re set up for a let-down. They seem to be making conscious decisions to keep things closer to the vest, and though the playing is (with few notable exceptions) spot-on, those moments of “how the hell did we get here?!?!” are farther between than we’ve seen in the past. It’s a little frustrating knowing they can do it but seeing them choose not to.

  16. McGGGGG Says:

    Expectations have always been dangerous when it comes to Phish concerts.
    Enjoy the ride they provide!

    And remember the best Phish concert ever is always the one you are currently at!

    There is plenty of time to compare shows AFTER the show is over, enjoy the one you are currently at to the fullest!

    Phish rules to live by.

  17. zzyzx Says:

    While I haven’t listened again since, I thought that Telluride 1 was the best of the 5 shows I saw, ranking them:

    (drop off)
    (bigger drop off)

    Maybe it was being biased by the setting, but I was absolutely blown away by the first night there. Maybe DC or l’Alpine or JB might have a bigger jam but i wouldn’t trade what I saw…

  18. Gavinsdad Says:

    It’s always been phish ebbs and flows for me…thanks for the synopsis Miner.

    Hoping kansasouri is back online tonite. He definitely made couch tour special

  19. zzyzx Says:

    Greets from Boise, ID where we just crashed for a few hours on our way back into town…

  20. Mike A. Says:

    While I agree with some of the comments in this article, I don’t totally agree at all. Tues night was ten times better than Mon and was in fact I pretty great show. To some extent I chalked the constant botches on Mon (mostly vocal) up to the altitude and the fact that the band came from sea level and had only one night to acclimate.

    My issue with Mon night was there were moments of greatness (DWD, Sand, Light Up etc) with a lot of significant flubs.

    For me, Tues night was a totally different story. Opening with Coil set the stage for a sweet first set that included the highlight of the two night run for me, the Roses, which was spot on. And then a Mikes > Cross Eyed! That’s a fantastic bust out and the Weekapaug to finish the groove was tight. I was also impressed by the Destiny.

    While there wasn’t a real strong theme to both nights, I would say it was bringing the funk and the rock n roll, which I am never going to complain about.

  21. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    @safe travels, timer! maybe “crashed” isn’t the best word to use there. wouldn’t want anyone to think you had an accident! 😉

  22. albert walker Says:

    Agree with miner

    The setting made it one of my fav runs of all time but the shows were pretty standard.

    Didn’t feel either first set and flow wasn’t great in either second.

    Did enjoy night 1 set 2 the most of 4

    Greek made me happy for the future but Telly was more standard. 3.0 fare

    Still had one of my best phish experiences ever
    Fun shows

    Sand piper antelope stash yem timber being highlights

    How bout that Greek mikes > simple
    Hot. As fuck

    Laterz kids
    Back to the grind

  23. c0wfunk Says:

    I’m with z -> first night t-ride had something special. The second set to me had a gorgeous flow and really fit complemented the setting in a gorgeous way. Sand to me was really really good. Maybe it was 10 minutes or whatever but more ground was broken here than in most of the 20min versions I recall from Sand’s heyday (never a vehicle for “open jamming” this is much more open than I remember).. the caspian>mlbj>space>tweezer>boogie on for me was all one breath. Yes, there was a hiccup when boogie on turned over, but the Mike jam that came out more than made up for it. Mike was clearly thrilled. add a piper>mist for the ages and a fantastic bowie w/ aditl taboot and you have a pretty fine set.

    the Tuesday night dance party was a fine way to cap off an amazing experience – my group was thrilled and getting down. I’m assuming everyone was as spent as we were, after 2 days of mountain fun and a night of phish, so the Up vibe of the set was perfect. A spacey “out there” set would have likely lost us, and many others pretty qui9ck. Plenty of nods to the sublime scenery in the song choices (coil, let me lie, divided sky) the second set was time to boogie.

    I was pleasantly thrilled with the crowd both nights, engaged and enticed and enthusiastic throughout, even in the back. A little surprising that it wasn’t a little more chatty and diffuse. Very concentrated itness abounding.

    Great shows! Not sure how they “hold up” but damn in the moment that was some fine phish.

  24. ReBa Says:

    I love it. We always just point to the next show when the prior show was so so. That’s why we keep spending all our money on phish. Always hoping for that blowout. 2 weeks ago it was the Greek, then it was Telluride and now it’s Deer Creek. What happens when all the rest of the shows are the same feeling as all the rest. I know! We will wait for fall and spend more money. hahahahahahhahahaha.

    I don’t care what anybody says. New Phish is welcomed and loved but deep down we all want a few versions (every so often) of certain songs from the hay day. Catching them on a great night is every night. Catching them on a night your all waiting for is few and far between. Good luck in the shows ahead. I have my fingers crossed.

  25. c0wfunk Says:

    one more note -> some guys on tuesday had this HUGE manteca sign. Like giant, spread across 10 people or so, rihgt in our view. Funny thing was, every time they hoisted it, whatever the band was doing, the jam would suddenly end (Timber ho was the first I remember, happened at least twice more.)

    There were some *subtle* manteca teases from Trey to begin the YEM jam, iirc. Mostly a little ‘yeah I saw that, and no, we’re not playing it, thanks’ kind of tease.

    Other than that, the sign thing was not really happening. Is this just a west vs east thing? Were there signs at the greek? Is the request band over? Wouldn’t be sad if that were part of the legendary past 😉

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