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. Mr. Completely Says:

    whether or not QM is forever – which as I said, I think it will be placed in a larger context rather than proven wrong per se, in other words it will become part of a larger and more complete system of thought – is a separate issue from the subjectivity question.

    placing physical reality in the domain of subjective meaning is the most fundamental category error there is.

    the real world trumps all categories. it simply is. it does not care what you think about it.

  2. Lycanthropist Says:

    llfa @ ochre!!!

    ha ha

  3. lumpyhead Says:

    lw, will you please tell me when they’re going to announce a spring festival?

  4. Lycanthropist Says:

    and now I am with Leo

    Collard greens are the bizness

  5. Mr. Completely Says:

    fuck collard greens and brussel sprouts and all that nasty business.

    give me some damn BBQ

  6. Lycanthropist Says:

    bum bum ba bum


  7. lastwaltzer Says:

    Okra is another amazing vegetable I was only recently made hip to. SO FUCKING GOOD.

    While in college me and veggie roommate survived on a delicacy known as cheesy beans. Basically any bean+any cheese+whatever vegetables we could afford+a bead of rice=cheesy beans. I recently discovered sliced okra is a great addition, adding a nice crunch.

  8. Mr. Completely Says:

    peace tho @silly

    your idealism does you credit though you are taking it further than reality supports

  9. EL Duderino Says:

    medical fact:

    Spinach increases blood flow to the penis!

    Veggies the Dude hates:

    Brussel Sprouts
    Lima Beans

  10. Lycanthropist Says:

    I love beets!!

  11. Mr. Completely Says:

    okra fried = hell yes
    okra in gumbo = absolutely

    otherwise they’re a little too sluglike and generally disgusting for me

  12. Mr. Completely Says:

    I need to stay away from spinach then, if I got any boost in that region my midsection might explode, yo

  13. lastwaltzer Says:


    I trust you as a reliable source on a lot of things but food is no longer one of them.

    You rip on sprouts, collards and lentil…………that is not cool 😉

  14. Lycanthropist Says:

    is that your reality Mr. C? or truth? 😉

  15. Mr. Completely Says:

    for the record I am pro beet

    beetabaga fajita on pita, anyone?


  16. EL Duderino Says:

    as long as the OKRA isn’t slimy I can deal…

  17. lastwaltzer Says:

    My favorite Beets:

    The Beets- Killer Tofu

  18. EL Duderino Says:

    beetle bailey???

  19. Lycanthropist Says:

    “The beet is the most intense of vegetables. The radish, admittedly, is the more feverish, but the fire of the radish is a cold fire, the fire of discontent not passion. Tomatoes are lusty enough, yet there runs through tomatoes an undercurrent of frivolity. Beets are deadly serious.”

    – Tom Robbins

  20. Mr. Completely Says:

    the food or the philosophy @lycan?

    anyone who thinks the mind truly defines reality is welcome to prove it by teleporting to PDX and meeting me for lunch at the Hawaiian cart.

  21. lastwaltzer Says:


    mike said no.

  22. Lycanthropist Says:

    I was referencing your comment regarding your midsection 😉

  23. lastwaltzer Says:

    Beets are awesome but fuck beet juice, shit is a fucking mess.

  24. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    While in college me and veggiecarniverous roommate survived on a delicacy known as cheesy beansfast food. Basically any bean+any cheese+whatever vegetables we could afford+a bead of rice=cheesy beansburger, taco, bbq, or other joint serving mass quantities of meat along with fried legumes and other such things. I recently discoveredalways ordered sliced okrabacon since it is a great addition, adding a nice crunch and everybody knows bacon makes everything better.

    /meat eater’d

  25. Guyute711 Says:

    pickled OKRA is in my fridge quite often now. I am so tired of hearing I haven’t had collards prepared the right way. I guess the first five people in the south that made them for me didn’t know what they were doing. 🙂

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