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. DukeOfLizards Says:

    Great little piece on e-journalism from Gizmodo

    Required reading for all BB trolls.

  2. Lycanthropist Says:

    interesting read @Duke

    although I feel that the author of the article kind of lowered himself to the very level of verbose slander that he was condemning.

    Yes he used an intelligent vocabulary, and sentences designed to slaughter the ignorant, but as a result his tirade not only encourages MORE trolling but is suspiciously ogre-ish in its own delivery.

    That being said, I can’t imagine what kind of hateful shit that a blogger must have to endure…

    I think a best of hate mail day (wink wink Miner) is the better way to handle it.

  3. Lycanthropist Says:

    do you guys ever feel like you are just talking to yourself…..

  4. BrandonKayda Says:

    I just read that article @Lycan – I see what you mean.

  5. bouncin fan Says:

    Fuck curved brims

  6. ChefBradford Says:

    All the time, L

  7. alumni blues Says:

    Flat brims, yo.

  8. ChefBradford Says:

    Often because I actually am, though

  9. guyute 711 Says:

    h20 on the bar juke! they maka my dreams come true

  10. ChefBradford Says:

    A bar here had an Internet jukebox, that was freakin’ sweet…shame they only lasted a few months though

  11. She Divides Says:

    @bk-i just got my medeski Martin wood tickets for tomorrow night- apparently there are plenty of tickets left if you are interested and able.

    I’m excited to see them for the first time – listening too their it’s a jungle in here right now!

  12. Lycanthropist Says:

    @she divides

    MMW is my favorite band of all time (yes even surpasses Phish)

    Have a great time, but don’t expect to come away having any better idea of how they do what they do 😉

    All i can say is sit back, be attentive and let the music pulse through you!

  13. guyute 711 Says:

    sometimes it sucks to see mmw, very short shows. love the band though and bite your tongue ween hater!

  14. sumodie Says:

    will see mmw in northampton ma at the calvin theater next wed.

    just saw emmylou harris and the low anthem at same venue tonite -both were great

    gotta get outside my musical comfort zone in the phish off season 8)

  15. sumodie Says:

    not sure ive ever seen a short show from mmw

  16. Lycanthropist Says:

    guyute my very being is shaking with the desire to come up to Charlotte and smack you upside the mouth.. 😉

  17. DukeOfLizards Says:


    I agree re: the tone of the piece, but at the same time, frankly, I think most bloggers deserve one or two “I’m as mad as hell, and I can’t take it any more!” moments. Yes, he’s only fanning the flames, but the internet is unfortunately a wildfire in that sense anyway. It takes some stones for a respectable journalist to come out and say “You know what, this is how I feel. Deal with it.” I’m sure many a blogger with too much class to post a similar piece would agree with a good deal of what he had to say.

  18. She Divides Says:

    Awesome – thanks lycan and guyute, it’s a 10 pm late show so no idea what that means for the length, but I’m looking forward to it.

    The plan is to just let the music wash over me and then to swim along with it… 🙂

  19. Lycanthropist Says:

    @she divides

    if you hook me up with your email I can shoot you some MMW motherload emails if you want..

  20. Lycanthropist Says:

    my email:

    lycanthropist.kelly AT gmail DOT com

  21. She Divides Says:

    @ sumodie- nice on seeing mmw next week!

    I’m very excited for the music. Plus we are going with people we have never been to a concert with before so should be interesting…

  22. sumodie Says:

    @she divides: MMW is apparently going to take some time off next year, so your timing is right

    Usually they play 2 sets, and its not uncommon for the sets to be very different (avant garde jazz followed by the groove funk) -never know with these guys

    Along with phish, mmw is one of my all time favs

  23. Lycanthropist Says:


    but being a journalist requires one to elevate over such petty name calling.

    I mean that article makes him no different than the trolls he was attacking, other than having a much better arsenal of fancy words.

    And he also made broad sweeping statements to ALL the readers of said blog.

    If one puts one’s opinion on such a public place as the internet, than one has to be prepared to just deal with idiocy.

    For example:

    I am a professional musician
    There have been plenty of times that I wanted to stop the music and bitch at all the idiots out there who aren’t paying attention or slap the people that talk shit about our music without ever having heard it.
    But I don’t
    because I am professional
    and EVERYONE has a right to their OPINION regarding open forum settings.

    You can’t have a comments section and then only expect “good” comments…

  24. DukeOfLizards Says:


    Fair enough. It’s very possible that I’ve been so desensitized to internet snark that I didn’t even notice a lot of what you’re talking about on the first read-through and just took in the salient points. Which itself is a sad thing, but such is life.

    On a lighter note, I’ve been diving headfirst into MMW these days but am pretty much limited to studio work – any recs for some live stuff to check out?

  25. Lycanthropist Says:


    hit me up on email

    i got a whole gambit that you can choose from

    but a basic rundown is as such:

    Through 96 is the straight groove funk

    97 is a bit more exploratory but still locked in sensible grooves

    2000-2002 is straight abstract jamming… a lot of dissonance and wackiness, not for the light hearted

    2004-06 back to groove, but this time more dancy party style with weird synthy stuff

    the present is much more contained but much more refined…

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