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”

  1. gavinsdad Says:

    willowed – you have mail.

  2. angryjoggerz Says:

    Corey, we are trying to do a meet up at Alpine, set break night 1 on Page side cement flats, under the tree area. Gonna be a shit ton of people there, but lets try… unless one of us is working WW, in which case we can do that, but need to know which table. Anyway, safe travels!

  3. Matso Says:

    @ McGGGG-
    I think the same thing every time I see a show at the Brixton Academy – that sloped, curved floor would be amazing. As soon as Trey can leave the States again…

    Anyway, drop me an email and we’ll meet up a some point once things have settled down for you.

  4. c0wfunk Says:

    maybe in the minority here but I *really* enjoyed the “Stash, Cavern, The Wedge, Possum, Julius” portion of night 1. cavern through julius seemed like a big set closer. Possum really had everyone rockin and Trey’s blues / rock soloing has really come a long way and the last 2 tunes really showcased that in a big way.

  5. amazin1986 Says:

    musical blue balls….nice

  6. ColonelJoy Says:

    Writing from a FedEx Office in earshot of DeerCreek…

    This is an honest review Miner!

    Fact is….the real blue collar fans are in for the treats….they will give it to the prolitariate at Creek-Pine….screw the Bougie Elite!

  7. fat bastard Says:

    morning freaks! nice write up prof miner. for a change i get to read it with coffee from home instead of from work. leavin for the creek in a few jammin to some Horace Andy’s “feel good all over” bring it…Psycho Killer tomorrow night fo sho.

    who’s got the jason masks!?

  8. Frycanthropist Says:

    arriving at a gig 2 hrs away to play the whole weekend only to find you aren’t playing at all = musical blue balls

  9. b-rock Says:

    Fry – hypothetical or did that happen to you? If so, that’s shit dude.

  10. Frycanthropist Says:

    Great synopsis Miner.

    On one hand I know its a bit disappointing that the jamming of the Greek didn’t quite carry over to Telluride…

    They went into Phish Rock and Roll mode.
    Phish rock and roll shows will always be a part of tour.

    However, I would say that the increased level of playing that we saw at the Greek still carries over to Telluride.

    This is a much better “rock and roll” show than Raliegh for instance.

  11. Frycanthropist Says:

    @b-rock

    yeah it happened to us last weekend.

  12. b-rock Says:

    Hopefully this weekend works out better for you…

    People of the Creek (and everywhere else), don’t forget to look for the Perseid meteor shower after midnight tonight! Should be money if you’re somewhere dark.

  13. Frycanthropist Says:

    yeh what really happened @b-rock:

    some crazy old man called up the bar we were supposed to play at
    said he was one of us
    told him that we were breaking up
    and to cancel the gigs.

    suffice to say we are in the process of trying to figure out how to sue his ass.

    while we are on the subject, feel free to check out the link attached to my name to check out my band.

    also here is a link for the archive page that has our shows available for download and streaming:

    http://www.archive.org/bookmarks/lycanthropist

  14. angryjoggerz Says:

    Which will create a bigger freak? Greek or Creek?

  15. hawkinbj Says:

    I’m sorry but these shows were very boring. If you were there, sure it was awesome – but what show isn’t? hopefully the jams come back but I personally think phish has adopted the traveling roadshow attitude of, say, the Stones. They’re still better to see live (arguably) than any other band, but the days of chasing songs, dropping 10 bills on full tours, and taking extended time off from work is over.

  16. BingosBrother Says:

    08/12/96 Deer Creek, Noblesville, IN
    Set I: Ya Mar, Split Open and Melt, Esther, Chalkdust Torture, Weigh1, It’s Ice, Dog Faced Boy, Taste, The Oh Kee Pa Ceremony, Suzy Greenberg
    Set II: Timber, Sparkle, Simple, Prince Caspian, McGrupp and the Watchful Hosemasters, Run Like An Antelope, Hello My Baby, Golgi Apparatus, Possum2
    Encore: Sample in a Jar

    1 First since first time since 10/22/95, or 66 shows
    2 With All Fall Down and Simpsons language

  17. BingosBrother Says:

    @AJ : y’all meetin same place on night 2?

  18. b-rock Says:

    Fry – I’ll check your stuff out. thanks.

  19. angryjoggerz Says:

    Sure, why not? You only going night 2?

  20. Little Buddy Says:

    “I’m sorry but these shows were very boring.”

    Hmm. I’m not so sure about that, but it seems they didn’t live up to the hype. My friends who were at t-ride say they had a great time. I am sure the atmosphere was amazing. While Miner is right that these shows will not get a lot of playback, is that really what its about. When I am at a show the furthest thing from my mind is “Hmm, I can’t wait to spin this in my car.” Stay i the moment.

    I think Miner’s critique is quite fair after spinning these shows, though. I really think that the Tweezer was supposed to go somewhere but Mike jumped the gun when he thought Red was transitioning. Mike was just trying to anticipate after the debacle that was Ghost>Mike’s at the Greek, which was awkward and maybe a little embarrassing for them.

    Anyway, I wish I was there. I’m not convinced that the boys will ever make magic night in and night out like they did when they played 100+ shows a year, but I will continue chasing the magic, for sure, because its still there some nights.

  21. fat bastard Says:

    HAWK…your opinions as valid as anyone but…so boring you listened to all of them 3 days after the actual show date? maybe you should give em a little breather and re listen to one set at a time. or listen while driving

  22. Little Buddy Says:

    Is there a DC/BB meet up sheet somewhere inline?

  23. Little Buddy Says:

    ^online (sorry)

  24. BingosBrother Says:

    yep. phissian roulette. daughters birthday combined with me coaching other daughters soccer season opener on Saturday. I like my chances on Sunday though, will be a blast. Have fun at the Creek, make sure to hydrate so that Antelope don’t knock you over.

  25. SOAM Says:

    If you don’t know by now that hyped shows never live up to expectations-your an idiot and should be blowing Dave Matthews

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