The Night Phish Caught Fire

10.22.10 - Providence (Jim Rizzo)

Phish turned a corner in North Charleston, South Carolina on October 16 this year. After a three-night blast off in Broomfield, Colorado, Phish had yet to drop a show that left everyone in the venue in in blissful disarray. While I, personally, thought the second and third nights of Colorado were stellar nights of Phish, the haters still did their hating, and the detractors still detracted. But after the second show in South Carolina, there was none such debate. Sometimes Phish drops objective bombs that satiate everyone with their song choice, impeccable flow, and jamming style, and Saturday in North Charleston was one of these nights. Igniting the band in earnest, this show sparked the most impressive week of tour as the band took off for their old stomping grounds of the Northeast.

Following a tight, song-based affair on Saturday, Phish came out with something extra in the finale of their southern double-dip. From this night forward the band never looked back, torching the rest of their tour and changing the paradigm of modern day Phish. Visiting the North Charleston Coliseum for the first time since Fall ’96 – another transitional period in Phish’s career – the band returned to the intimate arena with a handful of shows already under their belt, and they left via rocket boosters to Augusta and beyond.

10.22.10 (J.Rizzo

Using two songs to warm up the room, a special sense enveloped the evening with the first “Curtain (With)” of the year. Making it through two legs of summer without dropping their old-school opus, when Phish draped “With” over the indoor crowd, the music transformed into a crystalline reality. Patiently pushing the piece through soaring melodic planes, Trey oozed emotion through only the third song of the show. But the turning point of the night, and subsequently the tour, transpired in a surprise first-set “Sand.” Dusting off the song for the first time of tour, the band tore apart the usually-Trey led piece with notably more democratic jamming. The linear groove gained angles while each band member joined in the fray, and in front of our eyes “Sand” began to evolve. No longer a one-dimensional platform for guitar annihilation, a four-part conversation resulted in a scintillating piece of Phish. Apparently the band agreed as “Sand” showed up in the second set only two nights later in Utica, and again in Atlantic City, becoming a defining piece of season.

This first-set peak in Charleston seemed to awaken the band to their current abilities as they built a silky “Limb By Limb” before busting out the technical “Uncle Pen” and an impressive, hard-edged piece of improv in “Pebbles and Marbles.” Before anyone could catch their breath, the set was ending with “Cavern.” But in one of Phish’s classic double-closers, Fishman initiated the cymbal hits of “David Bowie,” another emerging monster of Fall. All of this top-notch playing in the first set foreshadowed something large to conclude the weekend, and when all was said and done, everyone would leave the same page. That’s what stellar shows will do.

10.22.10 - Providence, RI (Jim Rizzo)

Set two flowed like divine liquid from beginning to end – one of those frames that rolled off your tongue naturally without having to grasp for filler songs – there weren’t any. In terms of cohesion and top-to-bottom flow, few sets – if any – matched the seven-piece puzzle in South Carolina. Phish crafted a frame where everything fell into place – from the surprise “Crosseyed” opener the “2001 > Tweezer > Show of Life, YEM” closing sequence. With unparalleled artistry and whole lot of groove the band played a can’t-miss set that every Phish fan could enjoy. “Crosseyed” traversed three separate planes en route to an extensive, rock-turned-ambient jaunt. The explosive opener set the tone for the set whose only exhale came in a well-placed “Dirt” right after “Crosseyed.” The scintillating peak of a nearly note-perfect version of “Fluffhead” had the venue unified and on cloud nine out as the band took an ambient turn into the intro of “2001.” Blasting off into the most significant modern version up to that point, Phish had the audience popping off as the space-grooves engulfed the arena. Extending this version into a legitimate centerpiece with smashing rhythmic interplay, when the band spilled into “Tweezer” the set took on comic book status.

10.22.10 (J.Rizzo)

In a tour that was light on “Tweezer” this Charleston version turned out to be the only legitimate second-setter of Fall. Littered with accents and playful licks, even the composed section of this version carried an extra zest. Instead of splashing into a pool of lucid grooves, Trey growled out of the gates into a thick, murky jam that carried the distinct vibe of the underworld. But when he switched tones, the band moved into a sparser dance excursion featuring bass grenades and punctuated clav lines that added main ideas to the whole. Taking the jam through another change into a more mechanical texture, the band locked into heavier patterns that continued the energetic interplay that underlined the entire evening. The only “Tweezer” of tour with gnarling, second-set teeth came in the fantastic context of this all-star set. And when the band slid into “Show of Life,” the first-ever combination of these songs felt like a gift wrapped present.

10.31.10 (M.Stein)

And what better piece to drop at the end of a classic set than a fresh, whole-band “YEM” to provide one last improvisational joyride in a set filled with them. Jumping off the trampolines into a minimalist funk canvas, the band invoked the dancing spirit as the swanky grooves overtook the audience. One had to lack a pulse to not be moved by this music, and coming at the end of a scorching set of groove-based playing, this “YEM” felt like a dip in the pool after sitting in the hot tub for a half an hour. Cooled off and completely in sync, Phish collectively slammed down a version that shied from cliche patterns for the duration, giving way to a final guitar peak only at the very top to cap things off.

Phish had played one of those sets that leaves you standing and staring amidst blissed out awareness; this one felt different than any show thus far on tour. Never losing focus from note one – and never wavering for a millisecond in the second set – Phish left their indelible stamp in South Carolina. The band went on to play other stellar shows and more impressive jams throughout the fall, but no frames fit together quite as nicely as Charleston’s second set. After Phish finalized the evening with “Quinn The Eskimo” and “Tweezer Reprise,” everyone left smiling and without debate; it was one of those are nights.


Jam of the Day:

2001 > Tweezer” 10.16.10 II

The centerpiece of Saturday night’s second set in North Charleston, South Carolina.




10.16.10 North Charleston Coliseum, South Carolina

FLAC Torrent via etree, Mp3 Torrent, Megaupload < Links

Charleston Poster

Here is the the show that sparked Fall Tour in proper; a two-set smoker with highlights galore and a gorgeous second frame.

I: Kill Devil Falls, Guelah Papyrus, The Curtain With > The Mango Song > Sand, Limb By Limb, Sneakin’ Sally through the Alley, Uncle Pen, Pebbles and Marbles, Cavern > David Bowie

II: Crosseyed and Painless, Dirt,  Fluffhead, Also Sprach Zarathustra > Tweezer > Show of Life, You Enjoy Myself

E: I Been Around, Quinn the Eskimo, Tweezer Reprise

Source: Schoeps mk41> KC5> M222> NT222> Aeta PSP-3> SD 744t (Taper – Taylorc)


515 Responses to “The Night Phish Caught Fire”

  1. Lycanthropist Says:

    listening to that 5-31-03 TAB show for the first time.

    obv smokin

    what a great band that original line up was… just so thick!!!

  2. Robear Says:

    wow. wholesale changes.

  3. Lycanthropist Says:

    not to mention Santana killin it on this show.

  4. Mr.Palmer Says:

    desperate times Robear. 3-5-1… Either make a move now or pack it in. Having Moss this year has killed me ( 1st round pick no less). Anything to get that zero off my team. Unfortunately, having Austin and Dez Bryant with the great John Kitna isn’t going to do much. at least i still have Andre Johnson. 🙂

  5. Spasm Waiter Says:

    Grooving the Bad Hat. Thanks again. Not sure if you saw them. They used to all where really goofy hats at every show as a schtick. This particular show was by far the biggest venue I saw them in. Bassist stacey Starkweather is a monster. He played with gordon stone a bit as well as many other bands in town. Guess he just didn’t like touring bc he played mostly local gigs.

  6. Robear Says:

    p, i have a team i’ve about given up on. i have the reverse midas touch sometimes. my BBFFL team is clawing back into contention though.

  7. halcyon Says:

    @ Chuck D

    yeah I will be there. hittin up Ras Kassas Ethiopian food for dinner before hand…..or Sherpa’s Nepali food.

    hope to meet up one of these days

  8. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    dang, halcy. now I want some boulder style nepali food! used to eat there all the time!

  9. Chuck D Says:

    aye, haly. some day…

    gonna do any skiin’ in breck this year? i’m doubtful to make it over to vail/bc area being sans-a-car this winter.

  10. Chuck D Says:

    haly, what?! napali food over K’s China?! 😉

  11. halcyon Says:


    Sherpa’s is our favorite. We are meeting a friend of ours who just came back to the states after living in Thailand for a few years. He spent some time in the peace corps in Nepal, and learned the language while over there. It is always a treat to have him speak and order for us.

    The only thing I can say is papardum monparcha. Translation (delicious papardums)

  12. halcyon Says:

    Heaven’s Dragon in Thornton is the spot for Chinese Food on the Front Range……

  13. bouncin fan Says:

    I nominate carini jam of tour

    All 3 versions contained creative open jamming

    All 3 towards the top of best fall jams

  14. Mr. Palmer Says:

    I second that nomination. I would like to add Sand and Bowie as well.

    The Stash from AC may be my favorite overall jam of tour.

  15. bouncin fan Says:


    I was thinking Sand also

    Hence my love of Sand > Carini from AC

    2 must hear songs of fall back to back is $$$

  16. sumodie Says:

    @spasm: never caught bad hat and I only vaguely recall the name till today -would’ve been a real treat. the stage banter in that show I uploaded is great. an excellent soundtrack for my day

  17. DaNcInG fOoL Says:

    @lycan, sorta, we’ve got a new bassist and are looking for a new drummer, we haven’t been doing much lately, sadly

  18. halcyon Says:

    yeah chuck…

    this should be my first season skiing in 2 years due to back and knee issues…..looking forward t “groomers” this year…..ugh

    we will be getting an Epic pass, and I have access to medallions so I foresee hitting up some summit ski areas

  19. ChefBradford Says:

    Lycan, you’ve got mail

  20. phoammhead Says:


    That Stash is amazing – that’s an example of when i’m at a show and the boyz go deep > everything just locks in – everything looks better, sounds better > is better in the world – incredible to catch that live!

  21. Phamily Berzerker Says:

    Particle or Kottke tomorrow?


  22. Mr.Palmer Says:

    sober- Kottke not sober- Particle.

    Actually never seen Kottke, so that would be my choice. Saw Particle a few times while flying high. It was fun.

  23. KWL Says:

    need a dead show rec, 75-82

    lay a good one on me BB

  24. Mr.Miner Says:

    Carini, sand, Bowie, light, stash – best of this fall imo

  25. Mr.Miner Says:

    And Kotke. Particle sux

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