It’s Only Getting Better

8.10.10 -Telluride (Wendy Rogell)

In a start-to-finish massacre, Phish took New York by storm last night, dropping a two-set showcase that oozed creativity all night long. Opening with “Fluffhead” for the first time since Hampton, last night in Jones Beach had a special feel early on. And once they started, they simply never stopped, playing a show with no lulls whatsoever, and some of the most impressive full-band improv we’ve heard this tour. Over this summer, the entire band has gelled as a whole in large part due to the re-evolution of Trey Anastasio. During last night’s second set, our front man never fell back on cliched phrasings or licks, pushing himself by playing intricate leads woven into the fabric of the jams instead of wailing away on top of them. Illustrated throughout the second set, Big Red is back an ready for business, and as Trey goes, so does Phish – a sign of positive things to come. After listening back to this second set after the show, it became quickly apparent that the band has only brighter days ahead. That full-on sense of balls-to-the-wall Phish creativity overtook the metro area last night it hadn’t in a long time.

Official Jones Beach Poster

The first set brought as much heat as any, featuring non-stop action and several, smoking structured jams. While the band struggled through more than a few parts of “Fluffhead,” the shock-value opener had everyone flying high from the get go, and as the band tackled “Kill Devil Falls,” they had hit the ground running. After a slower take on their new-school track, the set took a decided turn for the old-school in a devastating run of songs that speaks for itself. “Cities,” “Funky Bitch,” “Wilson,” Reba,” “Walk Away,” “Wolfman’s,” “Possum.” And that was the entire set. With tightly-wound and full-on playing throughout each and every song, the band clearly clicked from moment one and their connection carried throughout the night. Though non-stop action ran through the entire frame, and Trey had some fun with a toy guitar during “Wilson,” the indelible moments of groove came in “Cities,” “Reba,” and “Wolfman’s.” While “Cities” didn’t approach Greek status, it did bring liquid textures to the opening frame and provided an idyllic lead-in for a stellar “Reba.” Within the context of this one jam, it is hard to say who stood out the most, a tell-tale sign of an awesome effort by the Phish. Trey’s intricate ideas, Mike and Fishman’s delicate pocket, and Page’s rolling pastures of piano rolled into blissful magic carpet ride over Long Island Sound. Topping the set with a fierce triumvirate of “Walk Away” – with the new end groove, a swank “Wolfman’s” and blistering “Possum,” the band blazed a first set trail of fire that would only grow hotter come the second half.

8.10.10 (W.Rogell)

Building on the retro-vibe that permeated the opening stanza, Phish stepped onstage and opened the second set with “Lengthwise > Maze.” Placing “Lengthwise” in a significant slot for the first time in ages, this version was more than novelty as Fishman coaxed the song into “Maze,” evoking the psychedelia of the early ’90s. Another obliterating version of the renewed song kicked of the second set, giving an nod to the two other scintillating “Mazes” from August. Using “Halley’s” as a launchpad into an overstuffed “Mike’s Groove,” Phish sandwiched four creative jams within their musical suite, and one became an instant classic that sits along the many top-shelf offerings from August 2010.

While Phish tore apart a succinct “Mike’s,” once they segued into “Simple” the musical adventure truly began. Taking the second consecutive “Simple” jam down an original path, Phish broke through into quasi-digital territory as the entire band came together with notes that wrapped around each other in an ethereal, cyclical pattern. Fishman’s outstanding progress throughout this summer was evidenced in the morphing, delicate backdrops provided for this excursion, not to mention his work on every jam in the show. Pushing themselves out of the box, Phish seemed primed to explore new places last night as they moved into the usually-benign “Backwards Down the Number Line.” But last night was a different story all together.

8.7.10 (W.Rogell)

In the song’s short history, Phish has now blown out the song exactly four times. But differing from ’09’s versions in Chicago and SPAC, and Blossom’s secret mission in June, last night’s summer highlight actually built out of the “Number Line” jam, itself, as opposed to dropping into a completely separate realm to explore. Taking the song’s actual theme on a ride like never before, all four members of the band played as fluidly and creatively as they have all summer in crafting an immediate epic. Riding through a multi-faceted odyssey, the band once again crafted an forward looking piece of collective patience and acumen. As the jam organically progressed through many blossoms of beauty, the band subtly teased “Maze” more than a few times, en route to a spectacular second set centerpiece. Once again, all members shone amidst this jam, crawling through creative wormholes like all major Phish jams should. Fishman’s break-neck and ever-changing beats on this piece reminded us of a troll of old; one who has crawled out from under the bridge and began using his kit like a rhythmic romper room once again. This jam is a true benchmark of Phish’s progress this summer; get in on your headphones now.

8.13.10 (M.Stein)

Coming down beautifully into “Caspian,” Trey took a minimalist perspective on this joint, knitting a jam with low key licks instead of wailing in traditional fashion. The band followed his lead and laid back in a divergent and refreshing take on the second-set anthem. Likening his playing throughout the set, Trey wove creative lead melodies into the fabric of the music in an ego-less display of axemanship. Instead of finishing the song, the band’s creativity led them outwards into a musical doily that brought memories of Phil and Friend’s version at the Warfield of April ’99. Transforming the open jam into “Rock and Roll,” Phish finally used the eternal set-opener in a far more spontaneous placement. Riding the jam into a legitimate shred session, the band took the cover on an adrenalized mid-set jaunt. After an extended period of psychedelia, “Rock and Roll” gave the show a shot of energy in the form of a searing throw down. And lest anything be standard last night, the band took their cover for a rollicking ride before coming back to the refrain that soon morphed into a vocal-ambient bridge into “Weekapaug.”

8.10.10 (G.Lucas)

Capping the “Mike’s Sandwich” with a totally original “Weekapaug,” Phish proved again that they are looking for new ways to go about things. Much like “Caspian,” Trey left his signature solos behind in favor of more intricate, yet shredding, leads that kept the show pumping with new ideas. This type of playing facilitates more full band interplay, as Trey, himself, brings far more original ideas to the table. Getting straight percussive on the jam, this “Weekapaug” entered a furious territory that we haven’t seen from the song, despite its summer revival. Often putting a lens of their most successful pieces of the summer, one couldn’t help think about the new life that has been breathed into the “Weekapaug” while listening to, perhaps, the greatest version of the season. Punctuating the frame with a “Loving Cup” that simply slayed, Phish had just finished quite the set of music.

Hitting on all cylinders from Alpine, and moving full-speed into Jones Beach, Phish are certainly hitting a new stride as this tour comes to an end – a beautiful omen for fall. With only one show left on their summer slate all signs point to a mid-week blowout tonight at Jones Beach for the tour finale. With a clean slate and their only east coast audience of the month, anything is possible. And based on how Phish played last night, the possibilities are endless. If we are looking at concerts at games, last night was a huge win for the Phish, and tomorrow they look to sweep their twin bill in the Big Apple. Be there…

I: Fluffhead, Kill Devil Falls, Cities, Funky Bitch, Wilson*, Reba, Walk Away, Wolfman’s Brother, Possum

II: Lengthwise > Maze, Halley’s Comet > Mike’s Song > Simple > Backwards Down the Number Line > Prince Caspian > Rock and Roll > Weekapaug Groove, Loving Cup

E: Show of Life, Golgi Apparatus

* w/ toy guitar

Tags: ,

1,354 Responses to “It’s Only Getting Better”

  1. SillyWilly Says:

    oh shit.

    im really sorry, sancho.

    i really thought the reason everyone was talking about it was that the kid was ok.

    i take that all back if he’s not.

  2. sanchothehutt Says:

    wait, jumped off?

    alright, leaving until the official story comes out. Too depressing and not worth hearing through the rumor mill

  3. oneshowatatime Says:

    yeah, really hope everyone’s ok, that must have been intense for everyone at the show!

  4. sanchothehutt Says:

    no, silly, no, I don’t know anything!!!!

    that’s why I’m off, I can’t stand the rumor mill

    And I’m sorry about your ordeal, by the way. LEt’s wait until morning to talk this other topic though,

  5. Skyballs Saxscraper Says:

    @ MR. C

    That is a good way of putting it. Any kind of higher calling that can lead someone to better themselves – religion or whatever – is something worthy of reverence. But, it’s only one path of many.

    See, my father was once an alcoholic – and at one point I thought I would lose him forever. But, instead he became someone who I could believe in. He chose us, his family, over the drink, climbed out of that hole, and the end result was another chance at life. Since then, no matter what I do in life, that is what I want to become – a person that someone can have faith in.

    So many lessons are presented to us, and we don’t always get the meaning until later on when we have the time to think and truly grasp it. Makes no difference to me if you call it the will of God, or something else. Anyone whose soul is truly at ease and filled with love need not place labels on how they got there.

  6. SillyWilly Says:

    yeah we can switch the topic.

    i think im going to bed.

    im exhausted.

    my tour really ended today, too.

    i got into eastern PA yesterday. Drove the 1000 miles to Chicago. Then got up and drove the 300 here to Iowa.

    i feel like its fitting to have had that convo with my parents the same day Phish was ending tour.

    Only, I was supposed to be at Jones Beach tonight!!

  7. plord Says:

    Just back from a hell work day. 14 hours travel for a 2 hour meeting.

    What’d I miss?

  8. SillyWilly Says:

    night, all!

    BK ill get you a more in depth email tomorrow, man.

  9. BrandonKayda Says:

    Beautiful post @Skyballs

    Goodnight @Silly – catch you tomorrow

  10. oneshowatatime Says:

    @plord – not really sure just piecing it together myself still

    sounds like the show was pretty sweet, i don’t know the details but setlist looks promising. some dude jumped from the balcony at setbreak? no bueno, thoughts go out.

  11. oneshowatatime Says:

    back in a few, if there’s anyone out there who cares 😉

  12. Mr. Completely Says:

    @plord: kid [jumped|fell] from balcony @ jones beach and is [ok|not ok]

    huge, very worthy conversation about parents, religion, etc over the last several pages

  13. BrandonKayda Says:

    Anybody still up?

  14. vegas wolfmans Says:

    Leaving Catholicism behind can be quite the tricky thing. I know this from personal experience. My advice is to SEEK. Ask questions and see what makes sense for you. Funny thing is that the older I get, the anti-Catholic chip I used to carry on my shoulder has softened and I’ve come to respect people of faith (any faith)- as long as it’s not being pushed on me. Believing in something you can’t see/ touch/ feel is (IMO) takes courage. I believe it possible to lead a spiritual existence and to know God (or whatever you may call it) without the confines of religion muddying the waters. That path is for your steps alone. The search and asking questions is very healthy. Listening for answers is the hard part.

    Completely agree with Big C that leading a dishonest double life with your folks is no good for the soul. Best to have it all out on table. Good luck, Silly. You’re a good egg. Take it light on yourself.

  15. Mr. Completely Says:

    @oneshow – IMO you should be proud of your mom I think with the way she eventually started to think more independently without losing her faith completely – that church has really been putting its people through tough times for awhile now

  16. Mr. Completely Says:

    and @oneshow

    “Lately I’ve been finding my own spirituality, it’s quite amazing actually. But has NOTHING to do with any organized form of religion. ”

    that’s cool to hear…I am always interested in hearing about people’s thoughts and feelings in that area, when you have the time, on the board or off…it can be hard to talk about…but I find it very valuable to hear from other folks.

  17. BrandonKayda Says:

    Fantastic post @VegasWolfman’s

  18. BrandonKayda Says:

    That is kind of what I am trying to do as well – I want to learn as much as I can in everything else (philosophy, other religions/cultures, etc) before I decide to stick to one thing. I don’t think spirituality has to be limited to religion.

    But I have plenty of time anyhow…

  19. Mr. Completely Says:

    ….wwwow holy crap like that post at the btm page 52 by @skyballs

    (BTW I love coming to this place and getting wisdom transmissions from a guy named “skyballs saxscraper” – it’s very phish)

    I. Feel. That. Post.

  20. yematt Says:

    Split>Dog Faced Boy from 8/12 on Headphones

    best decision i’ve made all day.

  21. Mr. Completely Says:

    @bk as usual your post shows great perspective, but you never have to decide to stick to one thing. if you keep learning things your whole life, your perceptions and understanding will change too, or they should.

    he who is not busy being born etc.

  22. yematt Says:

    didn’t mean to crash in on the philosophical convo

    but that split was incredible, as you were.

  23. vegas wolfmans Says:

    BK- Yes. Plenty of time. No hurry. Educating one’s self about different paths is wise, but ultimately there has to be some sort of “leap”- or “no leap” Right? I’m just not there yet. May never be. Many (probably throwing myself in here) spend a lifetime.


  24. vegas wolfmans Says:

    Mr C beat me to it.

    G’night fellas.

    Phish wins.

  25. BrandonKayda Says:

    Great point C. I definitely see what you mean.

Leave a Reply