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

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

  1. Skyballs Saxscraper Says:

    Phish always wins, haven’t we learned that yet?

    Some of the wisest words I’ve ever heard were:

    “The right lane is for driving, and the left lane is for passing”

  2. Mr. Completely Says:

    @Skyballs, to actually respond to your very thoughtful post – exactly what I am curious about is how these experiences, or this perspective, can be so universal – at least in potential – while at the same time being so unique in its manifestation in each individual person. And so also in the way each person understands it for themselves, unless they are constrained entirely by predetermined belief.

  3. oneshowatatime Says:

    Mr. C took the words out of my mouth. open mind and open heart. tap your goodness within, most things will start to fall into place.

  4. Mr. Completely Says:

    lol @yematt

    I blasted that thing at 11 earlier today

    I’m with you

  5. oneshowatatime Says:

    oh and back to my whole schtick about me and my fam drifting away from Catholicism–that by no means i have anything against catholicism. i only question those who do not ask questions themselves.

  6. William H. Bonney Says:

    “The thing is to find a truth which is true for me, to find the idea for which I can live and die.” Soren Kierkgaard

  7. Mr. Completely Says:

    hm yeah I am not going to get into my actual feelings about organized religion and its overall merits as a cultural institution

    let’s just say they are profoundly negative

  8. oneshowatatime Says:

    “hm yeah I am not going to get into my actual feelings about organized religion and its overall merits as a cultural institution

    let’s just say they are profoundly negative”

    yup. probably time to drop this convo off the ol BB for now 🙂

  9. oneshowatatime Says:

    Alright Mr. C, it’s been a pleasure as usual. I’ve gotta figure out if i’m going to eat or just hit the sack. Catch you all later–hope to see you in Broomfield!

  10. BrandonKayda Says:

    Okay, I’m out for the night (atleast on here) – I will leave you with this quote:

    “If a person leads an ‘active’ life, as Wiggs had, if a person has goals, ideals, a cause to fight for, then that person is distracted, temporarily, from paying a whole lot of attention to the heavy scimitar that hangs by a mouse hair just about his or her head. We, each of us, have a ticket to ride, and if the trip be interesting (if it’s dull, we have only ourselves to blame), then we relish the landscape (how quickly it whizzes by!), interact with our fellow travelers, pay frequent visits to the washrooms and concession stands, and hardly ever hold up the ticket to the light where we can read its plainly stated destination: The Abyss.

    Yet, ignore it though we might in our daily toss and tussle, the fact of our impending death is always there, just behind the draperies, or, more accurately, inside our sock, like a burr that we can never quite extract. If one has a religious life, one can rationalize one’s slide into the abyss; if one has a sense of humor (and a sense of humor, properly developed, is superior to any religion so far devised), one can minimalize it through irony and wit.

    Ah, but the specter is there, night and day, day in and day out, coloring with its chalk of gray almost everything we do. And a lot of what we do is done, subconsciously, indirectly, to avoid the thought of death, or to make ourselves so unexpendable through our accomplishments that death will hesitate to take us, or, when the scimitar finally falls, to insure that we ‘live on’ in the memory of the lucky ones still kicking.”
    — Tom Robbins (Jitterbug Perfume)

  11. Mr. Completely Says:

    hope that kid that fell is ok.

  12. Mr. Completely Says:

    oh nice @bk, drop a death trip on us and bail.

    thanks a lot.


  13. BrandonKayda Says:

    Just for you Mr C! 8)

    One more thing:

    Salvador Dali was a fucking genius.

    Now I’m out. Peace.

  14. Skyballs Saxscraper Says:

    @Mr. C

    I wrote a lot, some of it is probably babble or redundant, but I don’t want to nix anything in the interest of attempting to project my thoughts at the time. It’s late and I should shut down the brane sometime soon.

    The need to search for answers, to define oneself, is not something borne out of environment or prevalent symbolism – it is proof of our humility, that we acknowledge our own imperfections, and seek to augment our own limited knowledge in the hopes that we can understand ourselves, and our world.

    We are all human, we make mistakes, seek answers and redemption – it is normal, unexplainable, and the source of all the hope of the world. I can only fit in what I believe, the only way that I can think to explain something that is beyond my grasp. I think it is ingrained in us, because we can think and reason. Most people who experience discontent with their lives, or youth looking to mature, will seek out their own answers. If you are interested in the science of symbolism, you come to find out that many religions share common stories and themes of redemption, self-search, and salvation. Where these common threads come from is not as important as where they lead. It’s how you finish, etc.

    The important thing, I think, is that we all carry that spark within us. Whether you believe it comes from within, or from the unseen divine, the important thing is that you follow it and seek truth.

  15. vegas wolfmans Says:

    “Where these common threads come from is not as important as where they lead.”

    Beautifully stated. At the end of the day, don’t they all arrive at the same place? Be honest. Be kind to your fellow man. Help others. Etc…

  16. Mr. Completely Says:

    ::MrC just nods

    faring thee well now,
    let your life proceed by its own design
    nothing to tell now,
    let the words be yours, I am done with mine
    done with mine

  17. oneshowatatime Says:

    “Where these common threads come from is not as important as where they lead.”


  18. vegas wolfmans Says:

    FWIW- Robbins has identified himself as a huge admirer of Thomas Merton. I highly recommend The Seven Story Mountain for anyone seeking spirituality in their life. He is a master of interfaith knowledge- all the same in the end, etc…

  19. bodi Says:

    just came back into the city from the show. good lord did they bring it tonight. That was a “we need to pack butts into seats for fall tour” kind of show. Wierd vibes from the balcony aside, or due in part to it, it was classic classic phish show with no brainer song picks along some interestging choices, esp. 2nd set. It was clearly that antelope that sent that guy over the cliff like a lemming at setbreak. i pray he’s ok, and they people he may have landed on especially. That Timber>Light no let up on the dark side getting into that second set, but all throughout, beautiful patient jamming, they just put on a listening clinic that second set and let it ride into the ocean breezes. gorgeous show, i didn’t know MPP2 could be bested this tour, but now I know. that light was serious business, very dissonant and mutating yet retaining a timber ho buzz saw tension… great jazz tonight. dam. welcome to shiny new sporstcar phish, lookin very mean…

    very classy

  20. Prince Nabby Says:

    Wow. Looks like I just missed some heavy theological / existential debate here tonight!

    Bodi, I’m glad you enjoyed the show. I wasn’t there, but I did do DC > Alpine, and I think the first night at Alpine bested MPP 2 pretty handily, and the second set first night at DC was a close run thing. (I did MPP also). Just my $0.02. And, in any case, who can be upset when we’re all agreeing that Phish are just playing progressively better!

  21. oneshowatatime Says:

    @vegas – thanks man, will definitely check that one out, i’ve been looking for a good read in spirituality actually. my room mate has a masters in philosophy from a jesuit school and has a frickin library in his room, but it’s just kinda intimidating 🙂

  22. bodi Says:

    show began with a double rainbow over the stage. no joke. was that brought up earlier? anyway, twas a very good omen indeed… some double rainbow insanity came down the causeway tonite.

  23. sumodie Says:

    rainbows & swans at the beach

    go into the Light!

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