No Looking Back

Utica, NY - 10.20.10 (Michael Stein)

Building off an insane night in Utica, it only took one mellow set before Phish blast things right back into the future with a second half of music dripping with free form creativity. After Utica showcased two sets filled with ingenious twists, turns and teases, Phish turned on the fire hose for the second set last night, blasting the Dunkin’ Donuts Center in Providence with stellar open jamming in full-on affair that was underlined by a sky-scraping tour highlight in “Rock and Roll > Carini.” Meanwhile, Phish filled the rest of the set with a furious “Mike’s Groove,” a deep dive into a late-set “Light,” and a surprise closing triumvirate in “Character Zero > 2001 > Loving Cup.” Say what you will about the first set, but Providence’s second half stands up to anything played this tour – the next chapter of Phish music. For the first time in a long time, tour is a place where psychedelic fantasies are realized each and every night, and the band is locked into something magical. The comeback is over and we are firmly planted in the next era – Phish is now.

10.20.10 (M.Stein)

Kicking off the frame with the first “Rock and Roll” of fall, one knew things would become interesting, and with the level of the band’s playing having completely changed, the meaning of “interesting” has greatly evolved as well. Without stepping on one cliche in a song once filled with them, the band sculpted one of the indelible pieces of improvisation this fall. Even the “composed” jam was filled with originality as Trey’s playing took on a life of its own amidst a band cohesive and shredding. Exiting the upbeat textures and entering a sinister piece of avant-garde jamming, Phish displayed a collective intent to come right back after a stellar show and move right beyond it. Flowing in a full-band journey, Phish took this jam far into cutting edge territory. Trey played eerie, hypnotic leads as Mike navigated abstract bass leads for the duration of this oceanic space groove. With virtuoso beats and fills, Fishman’s offerings, per usual, were integral to this ultimate triumph of this piece. If open-ended psychedelia is your thing, crank this one is your headphones and bask in the bliss that is the razor’s edge of modern Phish jamming.

10.20.10 (M.Stein)

When Trey dropped the opening chords of “Carini,” he ended the stratospheric excursion and started a second, equally impressive jaunt. Building significantly upon Broomfield’s version, Providence’s “Carini” soared into a cathartic realm that showcased sublime melody over the usually dark groove. Trey wove a melodic theme into this jam which he not only became a significant part of this jam, but would later reprise in “Light.” Moving into a blissful section of legitimate free form improvisation, the band swam in IT, finding their way into a section of final of outright groove that concluded the wild ride. This brand new direction for “Carini” continued the set’s unparalleled creativity, and concluded a serious, top-shelf segment of new school Phish. Listen immediately and at all costs, as this the type of stuff that we’ve been waiting a year and a half for. And to use an overused, but incredibly appropriate quote – “It’s all happening.”

10.20.10 (M.Stein)

As the band drifted into “My Problem Right There,” it sounded – for a moment – like a segue into “Ghost,” but that would have been pushing the comical. Instead, the band inserted their new Americana piece as a landing pad for the opening sequence of non-stop improvisation. Building each time out, “My Problem Right There” brought a mellow mid-set interlude to a raucous set that took no time getting back there. Without skipping a beat, Trey started up a mid-set “Mike’s” that brought far more engaging play than we’ve heard from the song in quite a while. Tearing the jam to smithereens, the entire band played with a precision and passion that only comes when thinking ceases – something that has clearly happened over the past week of revolutionary music. Taking the always-linear piece into a tangential section, I almost thought we were about to here the ever-elusive second “Mike’s” jam, but instead, the band bridged the “Groove” with an enthusiastic “Sanity” that featured a dissonant, wall-of sound, outro, setting the table for a scintillating run through “Weekapaug.” Littered with nasty licks and percussive breakdowns, this was vintage “Weekapaug” –  what should sound like. Tipping their cap to Rhode Island with the song named after a district in the state, Phish punctuated a mid-set “Mike’s Groove” with its most significant piece.

10.20.10 (M.Stein)

“Suzy Greenberg” followed “Weekapaug” with a feel-good piece whose jam actually took on a real direction rather than generic funk wankery. Then out of left field, Phish dropped into a late-set “Light.” The band is sticking with the new arrangement, giving the piece a far more open-ended vibe, as the lyrical reprise never comes until the improvisation is over. This breathes life into the intial build, as we no longer know that it is heading for a pre-designated peak, but it is now the opening section of today’s most exploratory Phish jam. Taking last night’s version on an fully-synched and intricate ride through the cosmos, Phish sounded like the band of the future. Floating through gorgeous, mind-numbing soundscapes, the entire band contributed equally to open improv. Gaining an edge during its second half, Trey let himself go in a never-ending melodic lead that underlined the latter portion of the jam. Likening a modern day “Dark Star,” “Light” continues to be Phish’s portal to the outer realms of the universe as all members engaged in a four-part psychedelic symphony. After such musical drama, Phish could have walked off the stage to an ovation after “Light,” but instead dropped into a crunching “Character Zero” that was strewn with the same creativity as the rest of the frame, and would surely act as its closer.

10.20.10 (M.Stein)

But as the song came to a end, Trey walked over to Page and Mike, signifying that Phish wasn’t done just yet. Sustaining the final note in a faux climax, Fish kicked the band into a shocking “2001.” Tearing through a torrid session of grooves, Phish continued to breath new life back into this piece as well. No longer five minutes of generic funk, Phish followed Charleston’s centerpiece with another impressive run through. After bringing the show to a peak, the band capped the night with a perfectly-placed “Loving Cup.”

A different landscape than only months ago, a Phish show is again a place where skulls are crushed nightly; a place where you don’t know if you will necessarily be the same after the lights come back on. With fascinating musical intrigue unfolding nightly, Phish has regained that unnameable magic to come out every night with something that leaves us floored. The last year and a half has built to this very point. Proficiency is an issue of the past, and creativity is the sole force guiding Phish music again. The future is now.

It’s all happening. Again.

***

Official Providence Poster

First Set Notes: A particularly slow, song-based frame got off to a hot start with “Disease,” “Funky Bitch,” “Fluffhead,” then stagnated for the duration. Phish played everything perfectly fine, but chose a set of songs that didn’t go well together and the entire set kind of fell flat. “Ocelot” provided the high point of improvisation in a mellow opening half. A fine set of singles, nonetheless, the opening frame provided the necessary exhale after Utica to prepare the band to continue their mission after setbreak.

I: Down with Disease, Funky Bitch, Fluffhead, Roses Are Free, Rift, The Moma Dance, Ocelot, NICU, Sample in a Jar, Julius

II: Rock and Roll > Carini > My Problem Right There, Mike’s Song > Sanity > Weekapaug Groove, Suzy Greenberg, Light, Character Zero > Also Sprach Zarathustra > Loving Cup

E: First Tube

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1,018 Responses to “No Looking Back”

  1. joe Says:

    “if feels like you truly don’t know what’s going to happen at Phish show again”

    I think this is spot on and the Biggest difference right now. It just feels like they have the full arsenal at their disposal and can sling it any way they please. I’ve had a blast at every show I’ve seen since the return, but the feeling the other night was completely different in the first set. (and it’s not just that the song selection has been better, although that helps) It just seemed to me like it was the phish that I’ve been chasing but not getting. I was happy enough with the version I’ve been seeing in that it was all about good feelings and such, but it’s now the well-oiled face-melting machine that we were really waiting for.

  2. tela'smuff Says:

    What smuttynose should i try?

  3. joe Says:

    and stupid “real” life kicked me around a little bit yesterday afternoon to the point that I couldn’t make the show, or more accurately to the point where I was in a bad head space and probably wouldn’t have been contributing to the good vibes. too much negative energy from me. I was asleep by 8:30 last night. couldn’t even do the couch tour.

    Recommendation for those just looking to wander in the woods for a bit in Amherst and not hike per se. Try Amethst Brook (used to abut my backyard) here’s a little list of things of other outdoor things to do as well. wish I was out there and not stuck at work for the weekend.

    http://www3.amherst.edu/~acoc/website/trails/menu.htm#amethyst

  4. albert walker Says:

    as much shit as I like to give to Trey he knows what’s up

    He knows that top shelf ground breaking improv is why us thirty and forty somethings continue to see cutting edge improv

    I heard the stream and it was boring as hell. I have seen only a few setlists in 3.0 that were totally uninteresting but last night’s fit the bill. One of those stereotypical as fell set I’s right down to the Julius closer. Basically no jamming besides the Ocelot which got a little sticky in the end.

    I texted Robear at setbreak that they were taking the set I off that they earned after the rippin 2 set affair in Utica but that the 2nd set would blow up.

    this tour gave me more confidence that if they were going to mail in the 1st set they’d bring some heat in the second.

    seems like they have a new found direction in pushing creative jamming on this tour and they are playing in a way that us old school kids have grown up expecting from this band

    great things to come

  5. albert walker Says:

    starting Rock n Roll now

    very excited

  6. joe Says:

    also think that Utica and Augusta were especially small venues that influenced the playing too. didn’t need to play to the weekend crowd or “casual” city crowd (or something)

  7. butter Says:

    thats the thing, i felt this coming, and was waiting for it at Brim

    we got a taste of it with the Carini, Bowie, Split

    that creativity is now the focus of shows……….sick…..pease keep it up PH

  8. halcyon Says:

    as much shit as I like to give to Trey he knows what’s up

    AW

    I remember you making some remarks about Trey then following it up with: “Watch me eat my words …”

    Clearly he knows whats up 😛 🙂

  9. Mr.Palmer Says:

    On rock and roll myself. really nice version, different feel in the prov. jam. segue into Carini is $$$

  10. albert walker Says:

    yeah Butter I feel Brim had some good experimentation of the new styles being explored in the Ghost, Carini, Light, and Split

    early in the tour and just exploring these styles wasn’t always a home run but I started getting the sense they were back in the search for new sounds

    as the tour tightened up and they made multiple attempts at jamming in these new flavors the jams have also gotten better

    seems like the is an intentional direction made here of exploration this fall

  11. Robear Says:

    About to head to Jamherst. Last shows featuring a Pollock print? The Greek Theatre. Not that that means anything..

  12. butter Says:

    i have to reiterate how insane Utica Antelope is.

    sbd flac’s really loud last night on my good system = mind blown

    its really hard to compare that version, tho, to 94 or 95 versions, because the recordings are so much better

    that being said, that has to be one of the sickest tracks in my Ph collection

  13. halcyon Says:

    Robear

    Your spartans are not off to a good start

  14. albert walker Says:

    that’s the thing about doubting Trey

    as much as I would have liked the progression to interesting Phish to occur on a faster time line than it did I have never in the history of this band seen them not pushing new directions into their jamming sound.

    Trey gets off on this creativity as much as we do.

    just taking these old timers a little longer to get there this time around

    but when it does watch the fuck out

  15. butter Says:

    Rep for us Robear

  16. albert walker Says:

    yes that Antelope is a game changer right there

    wow Rock n Roll immediately going into some new directions here on the providence jam

  17. JP Says:

    was at the show last night – can only gve it a b-

    some clear highlights (1 = rock and roll, 2 = ocelot, 3 = light imo), but overall lack of phlow and the majority was pretty standard i thought – boys put out some good energy, but the cohesiveness was not there

    two other big issues for me = sound was seriously muddy in there and lot so cig smoke – can’t believe people still smoke cigs indoors

    hope umass is better on all scores (phlow, sound, smell)

    in my “Miner” mode, my review would have been titled “pedestrain in providence”

  18. butter Says:

    yep AW, Skye and i were talking about that during Brim on the phone (cuz he couldn’t make it)

    that the awesome thing about Phish is that – they are always changing and it is always different

  19. Mr.Palmer Says:

    Damn, another deep, deep Carini.

  20. oneshowatatime Says:

    @bk – sorry i had to run to get some coffee, now i gotta run again, thanks for the email mang! talk to all you fine peeps on couch tour later!

  21. butter Says:

    1 min of my mp3 version left..(all i can grab around the house)

    and i’ll throw on the RR

  22. Robear Says:

    Reppin’

    No more repetitive jam segments.

    @AW & all:
    Listen to Gordon during the last few seconds of Sanity. Insane bass session

  23. butter Says:

    Mike is still the man, even with other’s steppin up

  24. Mr.Palmer Says:

    MPRT- not as terrible as i thought the first time i heard it. Works in the right spots.

  25. albert walker Says:

    great fuckin Carini

    love the heavy melodic modal jamming going on here

    Mike just killing it playing the main groove as a bassline here at 5 minutes

    WOW!!

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