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. sumodie Says:

    @butter: awesome news!

  2. BrandonKayda Says:

    Show is up on LivePhish

  3. Guyute711 Says:

    first set terrible, second set bliss

  4. Mr. Completely Says:

    email me real quick @bk?

  5. BrandonKayda Says:

    You got mail @C

    Listening to Sigur Ros – () right now – the second half of it anyways – what a gorgeous, beautiful album that is.

  6. Stupendous a.k.a The Beasel Says:

    check out The Drift and Tarentel
    think u might dig

  7. BrandonKayda Says:

    I’ll check it out when this finishes @Stup – thanks

    Today has been very strange for sure

  8. Stupendous a.k.a The Beasel Says:

    that will put a nice strange cap to ur strange day

  9. leo weaver Says:

    crazy encore

  10. Stupendous a.k.a The Beasel Says:

    seeders wanted over at “what” to get this baby going

  11. Tba Says:

    I splurged and bought the CD for 2nd night T-Ride. Sorry Carini>Free with a Mikes Crosseyed sandwich, I could not resist. Add a nice long YEM, and it seemed like a HUGE show. Then I read Miner’s take, and am wondering did I goat by ordering this show? Was it really just ordinary with that setlist? I am not a huge set list watcher as much, as with Phish if they are on the top of their game, it does not matter what they play. But this seems like the type of show that may be accessable to my wife. Not every person on this earth digs 45 minute exploratory jams. Do I love a show that features just 2001 Mikes Groove for 90% then a character zero finale i.e. Gorge 98′? absolutely. But I also like the tight shows too. Miner seems to be so down on the song oriented show with tight playing. Not ragging him, he’s a great guy, like his reviews although the adjectives and verb use is getting a bit over the top. Christ is Michael Angelo playing guitar? maybe you should get a cane like the pope did and beat the bastard-ohh got my sculpters wrong that was Da Vinci or no it was MA? In any event, teasing you Miner, I’m 100% on board this site, and love hearing your take.

    Hey 6/25 and 6/27 are great, and you pointed me to those gems. listened to them both 10 times each last week. Not quite as sick as I thought they would be but solid A-/b+ shows. Thought the 2001 could have kept going. I’d love to see a whole 2001 set with 20 or so different songs segued in and out. Now that’s an exploratory jam I could get behind.

    So ready for the Beach.

  12. Uncle Ebeneezer Says:

    My notes from first set: Awesome roggae, CTB!!! great stuff from page,  beautiful horn by request,  page reaches up to tickle the clav after vocals in wolfmans bro…quickly getting dark and funky

    Crowd erupts for mini peak in wolfs bro and the boys bring it home strong,  so far I’ve called roggae and tte based on comments from bb,  and I still love the middle to end of tte, and since it’s been shortened it’s solid, rockin lights at the end, magnificent drowned
    and that’s where my notes stopped because holy moly I was just so locked in from there on out…jibboo, twist, buffalo freakin bill, decent hood but still like Greek experience better nothing tops that for me…called twist and was thrilled to hear it. Hmm what else, uhhh KUNG NO2?!?!? Wow wow wow…

    Got one of a thousand of the prints for myself, and a merit badge for robear so holla at a dude. GREAT NIGHT, chill scene, super hot but we’re all grown up now and I’m having so much fun on tour versus camping, etc.

  13. Uncle Ebeneezer Says:

    also just wanna say how awesome it was to see page shine during a few real choice moments…ctb and gin obviously, but also throughout songs all night in places you love and are used to hearing him fill spaces just so

  14. sumodie Says:

    @unc eb: thanx for the mini review

    & loved yer pulled pork n veggies @ r’s berk oasis -youre quite the chef

    have a blast in the corn fields, part II

  15. BrandonKayda Says:

    Glad to hear you had a great time @Uncle Ebeneezer! Cheers

    Tonight looks incredible

  16. leo weaver Says:

    luther justice is a funny MFer

  17. BrandonKayda Says:

    Just started up 08/12 II – Drowned is a nice change since we haven’t seen it much at all this year

  18. BrandonKayda Says:

    7mins into Drowned – Mike is killing it as is Trey – hot peak shredding all around

  19. BrandonKayda Says:

    Beautiful ambient jamming around the 10:45 mark – gorgeous playing.

  20. Stupendous a.k.a The Beasel Says:

    the roggae on the 1st is very nice

  21. butter Says:

    BK your in for a real treat, the next hour and half will rule for u

  22. Uncle Ebeneezer Says:

    jam of the night in that drowned, incredibly spacey and ambient toward the end, best jam I’ve caught in 3.0

  23. Mr. Murph Says:

    This looks like a phenominal show. Can’t wait to give it a spin.

    I was listening to the Head Phones Jam with my buddy while watching the set list, man is that a cool jam.

  24. BrandonKayda Says:

    Yeah @Ebeneezer great jam at the end of that Drowned.

    Also, love the Jibboo->Gin segue – buttery. That was a very well done segue IMO – not to mention the Jibboo itself was $$$ – Trey showing off his chops the whole time. Love the Trey/Page funk in the last minute too.

  25. BrandonKayda Says:


    What did you think of the Split Open and Melt->Dog Faced Boy in set II? Through the stream tonight it sounded insanely deep/psychedelic. Love the dark Mike grooves. Can’t wait to get to that part of the set

    This Gin goes sideways for a few measures (once again, Mike is the leader of all of these awesome jams 😀 ) Fantastic Gin – Trey blows up in the last couple minutes. HUGE

    Mike has to be at the top of his game right now? He just seems to be completely killing it and creating new spaces and open areas to jam in every night (Drowned, Split, etc from tonight)

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