It’s Only Getting Better

Posted in Uncategorized with the tags , on August 18th, 2010 by Mr.Miner

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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Alpine Adventures

Posted in Uncategorized with the tags , on August 16th, 2010 by Mr.Miner

Alpine Valley - 8.14.10 (Michael Stein)

After listening to Alpine’s two-night stand, there is no doubt that Phish left their mark in Wisconsin this past weekend. With four complete sets of music – a rarity in two-night stands these days – and some of the summer’s most impressive playing, the band heads into the final two shows of summer with a full head of steam creativity. Producing some interstellar jams and flowing, fantasy setlists, the Alpine shows delivered potent Phish within a classic Midwestern setting. After giving my thoughts through the headphones regarding the opening night in the Valley, I figured I’d chime in on the second night a little bit as well.

8.7.10 (W.Rogell)

Instead of dropping a highly-anticipated monster “Tweezer” at Alpine (especially after Telluride’s aborted fiasco) Phish decided to surprise everyone and open with the song for the first time since Hampton ’03. This early placement became as much of a shot of adrenaline as it was a slight disappointment; though “Tweezer” got the party started immediately, Phish was clearly not going to explore the ether with their show opener. An exciting ignition to the show nonetheless, the band built a slower-paced rhythmic sculpture that, I’m sure, engaged everyone from the get go.

8.13.10 (M.Stein)

Other than “On Your Way Down” and “Farmhouse,” well-played rotation songs comprised most of the first set. But the highlights of the first frame came in its bookends. To complement the “Tweezer” opener, Phish closed the set with an explosive “David Bowie,” upping the intensity of the entire show right before setbreak. The whole-band jamming showcased in “Bowie” is indicative of the increased level of subconscious communication we’ve seen throughout Leg Two. Responding to, echoing, and finishing each others’ musical ideas, one can hear this notably enhanced connection in “Bowie” and beyond. Throughout this summer and peaking in Alpine, Trey has continued to feel out jams, learning how to play around Mike’s lead parts without overtaking him. And as a result, Phish’s improvisation – as a whole – has progressed to a far more organic place than we have seen in this era. Putting an exclamation point on the first set in black indelible ink, this “Bowie” furthered the rejuvenated path of the song that started on the summer’s opening night in Chicago. But after setbreak is when Alpine’s finale blew up.

8.14.10 (M.Stein)

For the second straight night, Phish crafted a beautifully cohesive set comprised of many significant jam vehicles. While nothing approached the sheer brilliance of “Disease > What’s the Use?”, the band used a heated setlist and ferocious playing to conclude their Midwestern run. The opening combo of “Ghost > Theme” traveled an emotive journey from darkness to light. Though each jam remained anchored to its structure, they also featured incredibly locked in playing, providing a snapping and creative dynamic to their jamming. This “Ghost” is another example of Trey finding his spots perfectly while allowing Mike to lead the charge, and this new type of musical interaction is bringing a tighter feel to the band’s playing each subsequent night. A contributing factor to this interplay is the tone of Trey’s new guitar, more full-bodied and less treble, allowing him to shred while not dominating every eardrum in the venue. Reaching points of boisterous groove, Trey and Mike played symbiotically throughout the set opener.

The band let loose on “Theme,” infusing the piece with a palpable level of emotion, stemming from Phish feeling their music rather than over-thinking. A soul-wrenching piece bled into “Big Black Furry Creatures From Mars,” completing the set’s opening sequence with the hardcore rarity. Following the dark-comedy, the band inserted “You Enjoy Myself” in an uncharacteristic slot in the middle of the second set. The old-school opus served as a rocking middle course before the band launched into their second multi-song sequence of the set; a string of songs that continued the glue-tight playing, and provided the improvisational highlight of the set.

Official Alpine Valley Poster

Phish started up one of their most consistent jam vehicles of this era, “Piper,” as Trey overlapped the opening chords with the tail end of “YEM’s” vocal jam. This version proved that the band’s relentless flow isn’t limited to one type of playing, as all four members came together to form a breakneck summer highlight without anyone stealing the thunder. Fishman absolutely shined as he has been doing all August, and someone lit a fire under Trey for this scorching excursion. An example of Phish channeling the music of the universe, “Piper” provided the soundtrack of a meteor careening through space with an unknown landing point. The band gradually deconstructed the dizzying textures into a ethereal realm on their way to a shimmering section of improv that delivered band and audience into the opening hits of “2001.”

The space-funk excursion concluded the virtuosic part of the evening, as the band followed their addictive grooves with “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” and “Character Zero.” Putting a rocking conclusion on a top-notch set of music, Phish rode off into the Midwestern sunset – triumphant once again. But not before dropping their second quadruple-encore of the weekend, with “Oh! Sweet Nuthin,” “Cavern,” “Joy,” and “Tweezer Reprise” serving as the cherry on the sundae.

As Phish prepares to conclude Summer 2010 – The Tour We Made Contact, only two more shows at Jones Beach remain. It will be interesting to see if Phish will push themselves and crush two more nights of music or if this stand will be a musical afterthought to the theatrics at Alpine Valley. At the end of tours, the band has always liked to showcase the most successful facets of their run, and with these being the only August shows on the east coast, odds are certainly on the former. In a long summer that seems to have passed in a flash, only two more nights of magic remain, and they start this evening on the southern shore of Long Island. See you in a few.

I: Tweezer, AC/DC Bag, On Your Way Down, The Divided Sky, Stealing Time From The Faulty Plan, Water in the Sky, The Moma Dance, Farmhouse, David Bowie

II: Ghost > Theme from the Bottom > Big Black Furry Creature from Mars, You Enjoy Myself > Piper > Also Sprach Zarathustra, While My Guitar Gently Weeps, Character Zero

E: Oh! Sweet Nuthin’, Cavern, Joy, Tweezer Reprise

"Fee" - 8.12.10 (Michael Stein)

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Creme de la Creme

Posted in Uncategorized with the tags , on August 15th, 2010 by Mr.Miner

8.9.10 (W.Rogell)

Due to family obligations I was unable to attend what sounds to be, hands down, the best show of 2010, if not the entire modern era. All I needed was one listen with headphones and closed eyes to know that. “Disease > What’s The Use” is a seminal piece of modern psychedelia and, in my opinion, leap-frogged over of anything from The Greek to hold the trophy for the greatest jam of the year. A segue for the ages created a single piece of music that flowed like few musical sequences we’ve heard thus far. Throughout the entire show, Phish nary flubbed a note while crushing an unrelenting setlist of dreams. Not to mention that Trey had one of his finest nights of since Phish’s return, providing scintillating work from the “Tube” opener, through the end of the show. First set highlights included a sublime “Reba” which ended in “Fuck Your Face,” a combination that must have had Alpine going bezerker. But through the headphones, the most impressive first set jam was the redonkulous “Antelope” that punctuated the first set. Wanna’ hear some shredding? Well, cue this one up; arguably the finest outing of the era for the song as well.

A furious “Mike’s Groove” with an even better “Sneakin’ Sally” in the middle? Forget about it. I’m not sure how much I can go on here. The entire show flowed effortlessly as Phish jammed all the way through a legendary second set. I had an undeniable instinct when I boarded a plane in Indy that I was flying away from the shows of the summer in Alpine, and lo and behold, one night later…Phish exploded. Shit, even “Bug” absolutely slayed. I hope everyone had a blast. I’m sure you did.

That’s why you don’t miss shows.

I: Tube, The Oh Kee Pa Ceremony > Suzy Greenberg, Funky Bitch, Reba, Fuck Your Face, Alaska, Back on the Train, Taste , When the Circus Comes, Lawn Boy, Sparkle, Gumbo, Run Like an Antelope

II: The Sloth, Down With Disease > What’s the Use? > Scent of a Mule, Mike’s Song > Dirt, Sneakin’ Sally Through the Alley, Weekapaug Groove, Bug

E: Quinn the Eskimo

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Deer Creek – XX

Posted in Uncategorized with the tags , on August 14th, 2010 by Mr.Miner

8.7.10 (Wendy Rogell)

Phish stepped into Deer Creek last night for their 20th show in the cornfields on the 14-year anniversary of 8.13.96 – their first massive freak scene in the storied venue – and one night after playing one of their strongest second sets of tour. The likelihood of of a colossal show last night was all but a given. But instead of delving deep on this special date, Phish balanced out the exploration of Deer Creek’s opener with a tight, song-based show that never quite elevated, and featured scarce open improvisation. Holding back on most of their central jam vehicles throughout Deer Creek’s shows, Phish has set up a two-night blowout in Alpine Valley.

8.7.10 (W.Rogell)

The first set featured a slew of old school songs, including “Guelah Papyrus” for the first time this year, and “Axilla,” “I Didn’t Know” and “Curtis Loew” for the first time on this run. But the most notable song choice was the 3.0 debut of “Walls of the Cave,” a song synonymous with the post-hiatus era. The piece sounded clean, slower than remembered and quite polished, as Phish switched up the old-school vibe with this mid-set treat. The band moved through the composed half of “Walls” with notable patience, allowing the intricate piece to breathe. Moving the “Silent Trees” section with some creative, breakneck playing, Phish locked in before dropping into one of the set’s improvisational highlights in “Stash.” Containing astute, full-band interplay, Phish pushed the piece through a melodic interlude amidst the sinister build. Some fierce work from Big Ern brought this one to the top, punctuating a succinct, yet powerful version. The other pieces of structured first set improv came in a standout “Ocelot” and a blistering “Possum” that closed the first half. These two pieces provided opposite feels, as the band wove a delicate blues-rock canvas in “Ocelot” and powered through a “Possum” like a locomotive. All told, the first set provided an entertaining string of well-played songs with several high points, but unfortunately, the same vibe permeated the second set.

8.7.10 (W.Rogell)

The band delivered the second stanza in two distinct sections – first, the dark and improvisational, and second, the light and fluffy. Front-loading the set with a promising sequence of “Light > 46 Days > Maze,” the band had the show in the palm of their hand. But instead of furthering the set by taking another launch pad off the shelf, the rest of the set fizzled into a summertime sing-along with “Meatstick > Mango,” “Fluffhead,” and Julius.” Kicking off the set with “Halley’s Comet” on Deer Creek’s second night, one felt that maybe this would be the time for an outright explosion of the crowd favorite. But in typical fashion, they segued into “Light” out the shortened song for the third time this summer. Following The Greek’s best-ever version of their newest vehicle what lied behind door number two was anyone’s guess.

Opening with a spirited composed jam, the band broke “Light’s” structure and entered a rolling, bass-led segment that brought the band out into earnest experimentation. Trey and Mike hooked up immediately, providing the foundation of the piece, offering symbiotic leads. As this section of another multi-tiered “Light” came to an organic end, the band downshifted into a spacey-ambient plane and slowly climbed out of the placid textures in a sparkling cooperative conversation that highlighted the version. But as the jam began to get truly gripping, Trey took a left turn for the end of the song, bringing back its lyrical reprise. Stretching “Light’s” ending into a drone outro, the band created a sonic bridge into “46 Days.”

8.7.10 (Wendy Rogell)

Though “46 Days” has showed up in a few second sets this summer, it has rarely spurned anything beyond bombastic guitar energy. When placed in this central spot, however, one wouldn’t have been crazy to think Phish would weave an improvisational tale. But again the band sat into an energy-based version of the heavy rocker. Instead of bringing the song to a concluding vocal round like previous summer renditions Phish drifted into another section of abstract ambiance that seamlessly bled into “Maze.” This initial sequence illustrated legitimate attempts to make smoother transitions between songs, albeit via ambient passages, but that intention, alone, is a positive sign in the band’s progression. Centering “Maze” in the second set for the second time this tour, the band again tore apart another scorching version showcasing stellar solos from Page and Trey while Mike backed the music with creative bass lines, enhancing the jam’s appeal.

8.7.10 (W.Rogell)

After bringing “Maze’s” mania to a head, closing the set’s opening sequence it certainly felt like time for some gooier dance music. Taking the road less traveled, a common theme of these Deer Creek shows the band unveiled the second “Meatstick” of 2010, signaling a stylistic turn in the direction of the set. While Merriweather’s version took off into a funk excursion, this rendition never left the song’s structure, but rather oozed into a slick DJ-style segue with “Mango Song.” Layering the two summer anthems over each other, Phish took their time to craft a smooth segue once again. The rest of the set followed a similar jam-less route, pairing “Fluffhead” and “Julius” in an underwhelming ending to the show. But when the band stepped back for a double encore, they capped the night with a magnificent “Slave” in which Trey shone from the first note to last.

Deer Creek’s second night, while entertaining, never gained that undeniable momentum of memorable second sets. By assembling two creative setlists in Indiana, Phish sent their Midwestern circus up to Alpine Valley for two nights with many of their largest musical springboards ready to explode. It’s time to get dirty in dairy land…

I: Chalk Dust Torture, Guelah Papyrus, My Sweet One, Axilla, I Didn’t Know, Walls of the Cave, Stash, Train Song, Backwards Down the Number Line, Ocelot, The Ballad of Curtis Loew, Wilson, Possum

II: Halley’s Comet > Light > 46 Days > Maze, Meatstick > The Mango Song, Fluffhead, Julius

E: Contact, Slave to the Traffic Light

8.7.10 (Wendy Rogell)

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Creativity At The Creek

Posted in Uncategorized with the tags , on August 13th, 2010 by Mr.Miner

Telluride 8.10.10 (Wendy Rogell)

Phish came down from the mountains and into the cornfields of America’s heartland, returning to one of the most well loved venues on summer tour since 1995 – Deer Creek. Departing from their west coast adventure, Phish returned to the Midwestern mecca, stepping onto a conventional stage for the first time this run, but the night was anything but routine. With comfort in toe, the band felt the freedom to take improvisational risks throughout the second set, forming a flowing frame of adventure. In a tale of two sets, the band rectified a sloppy opening frame with exploratory and unique jamming throughout the second half of Deer Creek’s opening night.

8.10.10 (G.Lucas)

Breaking more than a few setlist patterns, Phish centralized several jam vehicles we’ve become used to hearing in the opening halves of shows. Using “Jibboo,” “Bathtub Gin,” and “Split Open and Melt” as significant links in last night’s second-set puzzle, and employing two bust-outs as a mid-set interlude without losing any steam, Phish brought a refreshing feel to their song choices as well as their jamming. Opening the second set with the second leg’s first “Drowned,” Phish guaranteed an exploratory jam right off the bat. Building coherently out of the song’s rock foundation, the band passed through a very brief percussive section on the way to another experiment in the uptempo ambient jamming that Phish has unveiled this tour. The band morphed into a gorgeous four-part conversation that saw Trey move between melodic and dissonant leads while Fishman kept a quick and intricate beat behind the drone landscape. Forging another step into the future, this jam turned into the newest piece of the band’s emerging sonic direction. A totally unique and experimental piece retained a beauty through Trey’s intricate and varying lines and Mike’s co-leadership. This jam likened Phish turning on their headlamps and heading out into the woods to explore the new musical forests of 2010, and coming out with another gem to put alongside the growing pile of stellar Leg II pieces.

8.9.10 (G.Lucas)

As “Drowned” came to a close, Phish resolved the darker psychedelia with a the summer grooves of “Jibboo.” Placing the spinning groove machine in the second set, Trey sat back and painted the rhythms with varying lines, playing few of of his signature licks in a song where they have become second-nature. The divergent angle on “Jibboo” added to the fun of its placement and a cathartic passage of dance music emerged. Following the song’s peak, the band dropped into a mellow groove instead of moving into the song’s ending, taking their time to build a near-seamless, surprise segue into “Bathtub Gin.” Moving as one entity, the band continued the feel-good vibe of “Jibboo” with an upbeat, melodic jam. Mike’s brought unique bass offerings throughout the climbing jam which Trey brought to the top as a rolling melodic geyser. This “Gin” fell in line with the entire opening sequence, lending an unconventional feel to the set, as Phish combined two current first-set anthems in the set’s opening triumvirate.

Continuing the positive setilst anomalies, Phish centered “My Friend” and “Buffalo Bill” as a mid-set interlude to cool down from the frame’s opening 35-minute sequence. Far more entertaining than a played-out ballad, Phish shot some fun into the middle of the set. The final downbeat of “Buffalo Bill” turned into the opening hit of “Twist’s'” first Leg Two appearance, and yet another intriguing jam. Again shying from hackneyed patterns, Trey and Fishman led the band through a delicate rendition that managed to stay relatively close to the “Twist’s” theme. Bringing only more adventure to the set, “Twist” came as a let set surprise, but there was more to come.

8.10.10 (W.Rogell)

Phish ignited the set’s final act got in the grand fashion with the first second-set “Split” since their return. Another truly exploratory piece, clearly Phish came to Deer Creek to get business done. Starting in a distinctly menacing groove, Mike and Fish drove the ship forward as Page crushed his piano, and Trey brought the jam into the abstract with diverse playing, ranging from dissonant wailing to shreddier licks. In the middle of the jam, however, the band lost focus for some moments, almost getting lost. But instead of bailing on the jam, they pushed through the rough patch and arrived in an interesting musical plane. The band used the resulting ambient passage to deconstruct the “Split” jam into nothing, landing in “Dog-Faced Boy.” Another second set bust-out bridged the set into its final punctuation – a second consecutive stunning rendition of “Harry Hood.”

The band’s patience really shone on this nuanced exploration, allowing time to depart from its every day course. Taking the celestial jam into realms uncharted, Mike offered a darker bass line amidst the astral jam that urged the band to follow. Stepping outside the box, this section blossomed into a tangent from the free-flowing piece that put a stamp on an bold and daring frame of music. At the top of the jam, the band splashed into “Golgi” to close the set with one more blast of energy.

8.10.10 (G.Lucas)

While encores are usually an afterthought at Phish shows, last night’s quadruple-encore brought far more fun than usual. Trey stepped on stage with a megaphone, and began to step to the mic for the first megaphoned “Fee” in ages. Teasing the crowd, he then backed away and pretended to put it down a couple times before commencing the song. Extending the Fee’s ending melody, Trey began whipping the megaphone around in circles a la Pete Townshend, creating a feedback loop as Mike stomped his foot bell and began his dental narration of “NO2.” Breaking out connecting elusive pieces, Trey picked up right where Mike left off, beginning the lyrics to “Kung” over the same aural textures. Taking the encore into the absurd, the band recited their nonsensical verse as they built a wall of sound around the poem. Then, busting into Jimi Hendrix’s “Fire,” the band concluded the night by ripping through their final selection.

Deer Creek Official Poster

Phish continued their forward-looking playing last night, crafting a very engaging second set filled with improvisational risks and strewn with rarities. Taking Deer Creek by storm, the band clearly loves the storied venue as much as their fan base, and last night both forces converged in a bold and distinctive experience. As tour moved past its midway point last night, Phish made it quite clear that more experiments lie ahead. And that all starts with one more night in the cornfields.

See you in a few hours…

Set I Notes: Phish opened up their Midwestern run with solid song choices, though struggled through several of them in a fairly flubby first set. Appearing for the first time of this tour were “Runaway Jim,” “Roggae,” “Cars, Trucks and Buses,” and “Sugar Shack.” The sets high points came with the “Jim” opener the mid-set “Cars, Trucks, and Buses,” and and the late-set “Wolfman’s Brother.”

I: Runaway Jim, Punch You In the Eye, Roggae, Cars Trucks Buses, Sample in a Jar, NICU, Horn, Sugar Shack, Wolfman’s Brother, Time Turns Elastic

II: Drowned > Gotta Jibboo > Bathtub Gin, My Friend, My Friend, Buffalo Bill, Twist, The Horse > Silent in the Morning, Split Open and Melt* > Dog Faced Boy, Harry Hood, Golgi Apparatus

E: Fee > NO2 > Kung, Fire

* Unfinished

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The Telluride Experience

Posted in Uncategorized with the tags , on August 12th, 2010 by Mr.Miner

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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The Mountain Life

Posted in Uncategorized with the tags , on August 10th, 2010 by Mr.Miner

Town Park - Telluride, CO (Amanda Lansing)

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

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Transformations

Posted in Uncategorized with the tags , on August 8th, 2010 by Mr.Miner

The Greek Theatre - 8.5.10 (Wendy Rogell)

So I just got to Telluride – what a freaking paradise! Following another outstanding Phish show, containing the most transcendental jam we’ve heard since the day Phish stepped back onto the stage – and a smooth day of travel – the arrival in this mountain town could not feel more magical. Phish opened the western week of their tour with the most eventful and creative three-night run of this era; shows flooded with relaxed musical exploration excursions. Exercising a collaborative patience that we’ve been waiting for in their jamming, Phish blew up the Bay Area with a third night of mystical music on Saturday night.

Concluding the stand with a night focused far more on psychedelia than the previous night’s top-notch offering, Phish used their intricate communication to craft a deep trek into the band’s rejuvenated soul. Plain and simple, “Light” blossomed into the most impressive exploration we’ve seen since the band stepped back on stage in 2009. With a stunning journey into the heart of the unknown, the band proved their intention, beyond a shadow of a doubt, to confront new musical frontiers on a nightly basis. In nothing short of a revelation, Phish sculpted the jam of 2010; a cohesive and directed escapade into the source of it all. Playing a piece so spiritual that it truly needs no qualification of era, the communication between the entire band during this jam was simply astounding. And the way that Mike and Trey responded to each other throughout brought a new level of modern mastery. Phish transformed into cosmic juggernauts in front of our eyes, donning their Jedi robes and summoning the force like never before in this era. Bottom line – the progression continued with an improvisational showcase that immediately set a new bar for the band.

8.5.06 (Wendy Rogell)

One-upping themselves for three consecutive nights, Phish provided completely different vibes during the final two shows of the stand, but jamming their way throughout. As the band emerged from their newest epic, leaving the crowd floored, they oozed into “Twenty Years Later.” Resolving the extended darkness, the band rolled into a most spectacular “Harry Hood.” Applying their patient playing to the ethereal piece, Phish resulted with an emotive classic that stood as majestic resolution to the musical depths they had reached.

8.5.10 Pollock

At this point, the second stanza already had proved its worth in full, but the action was hardly over. A gorgeous “Theme” left the crowd in a summer bliss before getting a shot of adrenaline with a late-set “2001.” The crystalline space-grooves wove through the packed amphitheatre as Phish continued to crush the beautifully flowing set. Releasing into a boisterous “Suzie” jam, the band felt the excessive flow of the collective experience, and restarted the funk after the song’s conclusion. Raging The Greek with contagious energy, Phish orchestrated their crowd like personal marionettes. Concluding Berkeley’s final show with “Slave” – fitting the intricate playing of the set perfectly – the band exclaimed their virtuosity with a superior rendition that signified the triumph of an amazing three-night return to the west coast.

The first set, though not as high-fueled as the previous night’s, contained a phenomenal “Reba” that immediately jumped into the upper-echelon, if not the top, of all of 3.0 versions. In addition to smoking daytime “Jibboo,” “46 Days > Tube” brought the weight to the set’s second half. I’d go into more detail about the first set, but I’m fading right now and need to call it a night. In short, things have transformed once again over the course of The Greek, boding quite well for the next two nights in the heart of the Rockies. This is gonna’ be special.

I: AC/DC Bag , Foam, Gotta Jibboo, Reba, Sleep Again, Army of One, Poor Heart, 46 Days > Tube, Character Zero

II: Wilson > Light > Twenty Years Later, Harry Hood, Theme From the Bottom, Also Sprach Zarathustra > Suzy Greenberg, Slave to the Traffic Light

E: The Lizards, First Tube

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Note: Telluride is on the verge of explosion with the quaint mountain town about to transform into an over-sizeed Phish playland. Due to the 24-hour nature of this event, I’m taking the next two nights off, and will write about Telluride after its over…until then….the “Light” continues growing brighter by the day.

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Exploring Out West

Posted in Uncategorized with the tags , on August 7th, 2010 by Mr.Miner

The Greek Theatre - 8.5.06 (Wendy Rogell)

Taking The Greek by storm in a two-set smoker that far surpassed the tour opener, Phish unveiled a pair of action-packed frames filled with creativity, including one of the best jams of the modern era. From note one through the last, Phish had their mojo flowing, despite a couple of notably awkward on-stage moments during the second set. Speed-bumps aside, much of the band’s improv carried a new-found patience that allowed the exploration of completely new territory for the second straight night. Hitting from all angles, the show never relented, creating a start-to-finish marathon. Feeling comfortable pushing the envelope on a nightly basis once again, Phish has found their way back to progressive exploration, expanding their sonic horizons on a nightly basis.

8.5.10 (W.Rogell)

Kick-starting the show with a raging “Chalk Dust,” the band grabbed the crowd instantly and never let them go. Following “Guyute,” Trey harnessed some of Jerry’s aura floating around the Berkeley Hills, engaging the band in a Deady rendition of the slowly-expanding “Ocelot.” Fitting the early-evening like a glove, this piece set the table for an explosive run of songs that turned a a burgeoning set into an extraordinary one. A song that only sounds great when its technicalities are accurately executed, Phish did just that with”It’s Ice,” properly crushing the Rift-era single before dropping into the highlight of the first set – “Cities.” And boy did it feel good to type that!

After several succinct and standard versions since the Hampton reunion, Phish finally let things fly with their funkafied cover. Entering a series of rhythmic calisthenics, the band time-traveled through groove back to a different era when dancing was all that mattered. Focusing on ferocious grooves, just when one expected the jam to wind down, Phish kicked it up a notch, immediately pumping liquid energy into the intimate amphitheatre. Riding the back of Mike’s and Fish’s pocket – as deep the abyss – Page and Trey painted the piece with their own rhythmic offerings. The band locked into some seriously collaborative funk as the sun set and the Kuroda used the columns of The Greek as a personal mural, enhancing the eye candy of this frozen moment. Anyone who was around during the late-’90s hey-day of the song had to smile ear-to-ear as Phish got straight nasty up in that piece last night! Candied molasses like we haven’t heard from in a quite some time, “Cities” was in a word – refreshing.

The Greek Theatre - 8.5.10 (Wendy Rogell)

And as the band sustained their gooey texture – boom – right into “Moma Dance,” as they refused to let the moment end. With a laid-back version of another groove-era epic, the band had The Greek bumping like a pinball machine for an extended period during dusk. Completing a stellar three-song sequence, the band launched directly into “Bathtub Gin.” This rendition showcased the precise control Phish has rebuilt, pushing and pulling the tempo of the jam as if inflating and deflating a collaborative lung. A piece that coalesced into a searing peak didn’t showcase one member over another, a characteristic that is quickly becoming a defining facet of Phish’s most successful jams this summer. Finalizing one of the most gaudy first halves of 2010, the band finalized things with their emerging set closer “Stealing Time.”

8.5.10 (W.Rogell)

The energy of the first set spilled directly into the second, as Phish strung together a series of stand-alone jams that were highlighted by the opening “Rock and Roll,” and a surreal “Simple” that became the improvisational centerpiece of tour thus far. Playing “Rock and Roll” on the first non-Saturday of the year, Phish used their ever-popular vehicle to voyage into a rolling pasture of melodic ambient-groove. Page shined on piano throughout the jam, as he has been notably turned up in, what is now, the best live mix Phish has ever had. Listening and responding masterfully to each other, the band’s nuanced, cooperative jamming turned fully blissful in one of the escapades of the night. Weaving their lines into a singular musical motion, this jam became the second example in as many nights of a new-school improvisational style in which Fishman continuously rolls out intricate, driving beats while the band moves into a more subtle, ambient territory. After establishing this style on the first two nights (also with “Disease”) one can be sure their will be more of this to come coming over the next fortnight.

Descending from this majestic piece, the band slid into “Ghost,” kicking up the adrenaline in the amphitheatre yet another notch without any thought of rest. In the same controlled style as the first-set “Gin,” Phish manipulated music like Plasticine, molding their path by toying with tempo while Trey and Mike stepped out front to play. Exchanging leads over yet another masterful series of drumbeats, Mike threw on his envelope filter, thickening the jam while Trey spat searing leads atop the musical romper room. When the jam stemmed from from structure, the band sounded as though they were heading for “Walk Away” in a melodic jam-turned-catastrophe, as Trey hacked into the jam with the opening licks of “Mike’s?!” The ensuing moment was the most painful onstage moment we’ve seen this year, as the band had no idea what Trey was doing, and simply collapsed as a unit. Later in the evening, after listening to the butchery, we joked that Phish must have been paying homage to the bust-a-gut “Shred IT” video that became a You Tube sensation last week. But once they regrouped into “Mike’s,” there was nothing to complain about at all. Seething with guitar-led fury, Trey unleashed menacing leads throughout the shredding version. But the best moments of the show were about to unfold.

The Greek Theatre - 8.5.10 (W.Rogell)

As they transitioned into “Simple” nobody could have foreseen the psychedelic fairytale that Phish would spin on this summer evening. Patiently playing wherever that moment brought them, Phish soon moved from a mellow-melodic outro into the most full-blown open-jamming we’ve seen from the band in this era. On the eternal quest for original Phish music, the band delivered in droves during this experimental masterpiece. Weaving their offerings into a quadruple-helix of transcendental improv, the band locked into an amoeba-style jam with no band member pushing or pulling the music any more forcefully than the others. An exemplary illustration of Phish combining to form far more than the sum of their parts, this jam is, perhaps, the most creative and “out-there” we’ve heard the band get in this era. Entering completely original territory having nothing to do with the song, the band locked into one of the most indelible moments in ages. A sure sign that the band is only moving in the right direction, “Simple” brought some of the most impressive playing from Phish this year.

8.5.10 (W.Rogell)

Using “Number Line” to provide a more accessible song after their intricate psychedelia, the band followed up their single-version with a rousing, if not oddly-placed, “Show of Life,” before finishing “Mike’s Groove” by chilling briefly in “Seven Below.” Staring the their post-hiatus vehicle at a seemingly random point in the show, one figured they’d tie the percussive piece into “Weekapaug,” and after only three minutes, they had completely nailed the transition, flying high into the end of their “Mike’s Sandwich.” But for some reason, Phish insisted on back-tracking, inexplicably allowing the beat to drop out for Mike’s opening solo. Amidst a night of musical feats, Phish proved they were still human, botching their second segue of the set.

But just when one thought the band would take their pre-encore bow, Trey directed the band into “You Enjoy Myself” to close a wildly creative frame of music. Keeping the energy pumping, Phish dropped into a final dance session of the night, taking their seminal opus for a short, but swanky ride to close the show in style. Following their groove fiesta, the band came out and crushed “Good Times, Bad Times” to put an exclamation point on quite a special summer night in Northern California.

One more please?

I: Chalk Dust Torture, Guyute, Ocelot, It’s Ice, Cities > The Moma Dance, Bathtub Gin, Stealing Time From the Faulty Plan

II: Rock and Roll > Ghost > Mike’s Song > Simple > Backwards Down the Number Line, Show of Life, Seven Below > Weekapaug Groove, You Enjoy Myself

E: Good Times Bad Times

The Greek Theatre - 8.5.10 (Wendy Rogell)

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PS: With a 6am flight towards Colorado tomorrow, an article will likely follow.

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The Greek Mythology

Posted in Uncategorized with the tags , on August 6th, 2010 by Mr.Miner

The Greek Theatre - 8.5.10 (Wendy Rogell)

Phish stepped to the west coast in laid-back style, playing to their Berkeley surroundings with their second stellar tour-opener in as many months. Using the second set to showcase the real goods, Phish still came correct with a two-set flow that sparked the first west coast Phish of the year. And though The Greek was as crowded as one could imagine, everyone disappeared into thin air as the band dove into two of their defining jams of 2010 in the second set. Like mythological silhouettes against a medieval backdrop, Phish unsheathed two of their most classic vehicles to electrify the intimate audience, commencing a very special week in the Phish community. Taking both “Disease” and “Tweezer” on Odyssian-treks, Phish sculpted two instant classics of the modern era as Act I of The Greek.

8.5.06 (W.Rogell)

Any worries of cold or inclement weather were immediately answered by a sunny afternoon atop the hill at University of California, as the crowd of 8,500 slowly trickled in following a line that snaked down several blocks. But when everyone got settled into the The Greek, it became immediately apparent that we were, indeed, about to witness the freshest of Phish amidst a live-music mecca. The band wasn’t joking about their early start time, coming on stage around 6:45, using a combination of “Possum and “Wolfman’s” to get the party started. Taking “Wolfman’s” for an impressive first-set spin, this one stood out as a strong summer version. Sometimes when Phish plays “Divided Sky” it feels contrived and sometimes it just feels right. Standing amidst the late afternoon in the Berkeley hills, yesterday was one of the latter, greeting early-evening with grandeur. The opening string of first-set action continued with a rousing “Funky Bitch,” and an impressive jam out of “Kill Devil Falls,” before taking a few-song breather. Punctuating the opening frame with the set’s most intense passage, Phish played one of their finest “Antelopes” of the summer, announcing loud and clear that warms ups were over, and set two would be starting soon.

The Greek - 8.5.06 (Wendy Rogell)

But if set one looked and sounded a bit familiar, Phish used their improvisational prowess to make the second half highlights the stuff of dreams. Wasting no time in crafting a forward-looking epoch, Phish soared into brand new musical territory, breaking through an already scintillating “Disease” with uber-creative playing. Building boldly from a dynamic foundation, the band shut off their musical compasses, playing wherever the moment brought them. Traveling through unique percussive rhythms, Trey sat back, slicing and dicing with an ear on the band’s emerging experiment. The band traveled organically outward as Phish’s bass-centric style of 2010 adopted to faster, then ambient, territories. In the most unique moments of the show, Mike’s leadership allowed Trey and Page to enhance the final segment of “Disease” without taking over, as Fishman backed it all with a delicate, yet urgent beat. Phish tread on new ground in the last section of the jam, allowing the band to coalesce around Mike’s ideas while still offering individual phrases that only furthered the minimalist cause. Trey descended through a drone pattern as the band brought the piece to a natural end, splash landing in a nasty “Free” that brought more excitement than most any modern-era versions. Allowing time for brief, structured interplay between Mike and Trey, the band played allowed this version to momentarily marinate before coming out of the ocean.

8.5.06 (W.Rogell)

The second set lost some of it’s cosmic steam with mid-set stops in “Alaska” and “Back on the Train,” killing any chance of a free-flowing set. These songs provided an unnecessary buffer before the band got back go business by annihilating a retro-style “Maze” that had me thinking back to their tour-closer in ’93 on the same stage. Embodying the instinct for the jugular that created the mid-nineties monster, Phish placed the second “Maze” of the year in its respective tour opener. Hopping the express train, “Maze” returned the second set to where it needed to be. And after a idyllic mid-set “Joy,” the thunderclouds rolled in overhead, and Zeus shot down his lightening bolts in the form of “Tweezer.”

If last August I spoke of mainlining the Red Rocks “Tweezer” in an attempt to constantly access the addictive cure-all, we’re gonna have to think of a bit more direct route for this west coast bomb. A version so smooth, yet so powerful, one needs to stop reading this article now and go find a version to listen to… Back? Well, suffice it to say that most all of us can agree on that one! Fusing the laid-back love of California into rhythms of the soul, Phish unveiled a mythical excursion that will be getting non-stop play for the foreseeable future. Using musical space every bit effectively as sound, Phish demolished grooves that shook Mount Olympus to its foundation. An immortal sculpture whose stature will never truly translate to tape, this version funneled directly from the heavens into the inner respites of the human spirit – ambrosia of the gods.

The Greek - 8.5.10 (Wendy Rogell)

Phish peaked this new-school crack with a purpose, and descended into a series of calmed-down grooves. In celebration, Trey somewhat abruptly switched into Fluffhead,” but on this night, the less-than-ideal segue became a mere footnote to the unquestionable centerpiece of the show. To see the band tackle their intricate classic in such gorgeous visual and aural surroundings was a sight to behold. Nailing “Fluffhead,” virtually note-for-note, the band used their college-era piece to close the set on the highest of notes. “The Arrival” of “Fluffhead” also represented the arrival of Summer Tour – The Sequel, and we are just getting started.

Before the encore, Trey closed the night in emotional fashion by honoring guitar craftsman, and former front of house sound man, Paul Languedoc. Trey told a story that bears repetition:

…He [Paul] told me about nine months ago, that he had put aside this magic piece of wood to build one last, really special guitar. And he gave it to me about a week ago, and this is it – [presenting guitar to the crowd.] And I’ve just to to say that I’ve just been freaking out all night about how good this guitar is – it’s the magic guitar…

The story held a certain poignancy as our life adventure with Phish evolves into this next era, and as Trey moves onto his sixth and final Languedoc. We are blessed to be a part of this Golden Age where magic and time are once again partners in crime. And this time we’re playing for keeps.

The only thing I could think as I left the venue was, I’m ready for tomorrow night….you?

See you in a couple of hours…

I: Possum, Wolfman’s Brother, The Divided Sky, Funky Bitch, Kill Devil Falls, Halley’s Comet > Sample in a Jar, NICU, Bouncing Around the Room, Run Like an Antelope

II: Down with Disease > Free, Alaska, Back on the Train, Maze, Joy, Tweezer > Fluffhead

E: Loving Cup, Tweezer Reprise

The Greek Theatre - 8.5.10 (Wendy Rogell)

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Update: No Spoilers and More

I forgot to mention yesterday that No Spoilers is locked and loaded for Leg II. So continue to enjoy the downloads with a similar eta as last month. Also, as we move through this memorable week, some of my posts may be taking a west coast vibe due to spending time with great friends in great places. So if any of my next few pieces are a bit shorter – and the way things are going we all know they likely won’t be – thanks for understanding!

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