Basking In Bethel’s Blowout

Bethel Woods (George Estreich)

After spinning through the first two shows of tour a number of times over the weekend, and I have to say, I hear the emergence of a new Phish. Not only are their jams multiplying in number, but they are also diversifying in scope and laced with new ideas. The band seemed incredibly fresh over the weekend and ready to try new things once again. And one of the biggest reasons for the Bethel shows’ many successes was—go figure—Trey Anastasio. Over the weekend, Trey stepped up and led the band in the commanding fashion of lore, but directed jams with a refined style that didn’t always necessitate melting faces. With delicate, yet directional licks of leadership—creative and intricate leads—Trey came to the forefront of the stage in a way that didn’t diminish his mates’ contributions. I keep thinking of the word “mature” to define this type of playing; a style that could only have been acquired through decades of improvisation and experimentation with the same players. Some key jams from Bethel where this refined yet powerful style is quite prevalent are “Halley’s,” “Bathtub Gin” and “Number Line.” And not consequently, these were three of the more impressive excursions of the weekend.

Bethel Woods (G.Estreich)

But only one day earlier, Phish engaged in a completely different type of jamming in an awing rendition of “Waves.” This unforgettable segment came via deep and collaborative exploration—and incredible patience. Unafraid to let things breathe and allow ideas to develop, the band didn’t scurry from improvisational abstraction over the first two shows, but embraced it—exercising patience to discover sublime moments. In this vein, creative soundscapes emerged as a style of Phish jamming again, and no piece exemplified this better than “Waves.” Dripping into the ether directly as the lyrics ended, the band illustrated a new-found proclivity for cosmic exploration. As no one member pushed or dominated the jam, the band traveled together through one of Bethel’s utterly surreal portions of improv. Open-ended jamming at its finest, the band took a collective swan dive into the void during “Waves” and just let the music flow through them. Ending this journey with a ambient sound sculpture, this standout sequence (and its eerie “Crosseyed” counterpart) couldn’t be more different than the stellar jamming of night two.

Bethel (G.Estreich)

And yet another divergent sound was showcased in one of the absolute gems of the weekend that got buried in the opening set—”Kill Devil Falls.” This jam was captained by the combination of Trey and Fishman—the backbone of Phish. Pushing the band with speedy and intricate breakbeats, Fishman directed this jaunt at a vicious pace. Fish’s quickened beat science pushed Trey out of some of his only “Whaling” of the weekend and into mind-bending guitar playing, while coaxing the entire band to engage at a pace at which they play.. But the jam wasn’t straight ahead rock; it was far more creative yet still moving a mile a minute. This seemed like an extension of the “urgent ambient” jamming that began to emerge last year during summer’s second leg (illustrated in the Greek’s “Rock and Roll” and Jones Beach’s “Number Line”)—but on steroids! This was some breakneck jamming and tight as anything we heard all weekend.

Phish had that invincible feeling again over the Bethel run; that sense that bullets would bounce off their musical armor like Lilliputians’ attacking Gulliver. And even though the third night’s affair strayed a bit towards the seemingly-fading song-based trend of this era, the show was still strewn with impressive musical conversations. Throw in a bit of staccato, plinko-funk jamming, and from every angle possible, Bethel was an overwhelming triumph for the band and their dedicated fan base. By anyone’s account, this is shaping up to be one crazy summer, and when we finally wind down amidst the Rockies in Colorado come Labor Day, we’ll think back to the green rolling pastures of Bethel Woods and smile.

Bethel Woods (George Estreich)


867 Responses to “Basking In Bethel’s Blowout”

  1. mitch Says:

    i dunno if its that easy DF, you ever see the sneaker girls break it down in the dance section, or the burning man girls wearing neon dayglo bikinis shakin it?

    hipster girls try and act cool and the hippy girls have fun. its a matter of preference.

    i’m just saying i like these hipster girls styles lately. its growing on me. brooklyn represents the attractive girl population very well and that obv helps. girl can shave half her head and somehow swoop the rest and look cute. boggles the mind sometimes.

  2. mitch Says:

    damn, didnt need that top of the page’d

  3. DaNcInG fOoL Says:

    ha fair enough… hipster chicks from what i’ve seen tend to be smarter, which is my thing

  4. mitch Says:

    dont need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows

  5. butter Says:

    they leave ya to the bones, to puff the dubies yourself AW?

  6. halcyon Says:

    Gordeaux rockin it

  7. albert walker Says:

    DF digs smart chicks

    That’s just crazy talk. Good luck with that.

  8. DaNcInG fOoL Says:

    very rare breed

  9. albert walker Says:

    No doubt butter

    No one puffs pre or post show. DF Hung through 6 night 2 but I def was finishing em off

    My girl at minimum is usually around puffing tough

  10. BingosBrother Says:

    AW at Bethel.

  11. plord Says:

    Short set? or just me?

  12. mitch Says:

    i held my own for once. we made many a lawn boy trips on sunday trying to finish shit off.

  13. mitch Says:

    well played bingo. add smoke coming out his face and a woman breast feeding and you’ve got it.

  14. plord Says:

    I’m out. Early flight in the morning. With luck I’ll be done with work shit and catch you folks for tomorrow’s couch tour!

  15. jtran Says:

    Thought something more would happen with that YEM

    Excited to spin tomorrow regardless

  16. halcyon Says:

    peace BB….

    nighty night

    looking forward to listen to this too.

  17. ThePigSong Says:

    Probably gonna keep Saturday and Friday on my phone for the train ride to work tomorrow, cheers folks.

  18. Luther T. Justice Says:


    Remember that Japan DVD we discussed like 2 months ago? I might have it for you at Blossom. I have the size & memory of an elephant.

  19. mitch Says:

    good one, well played @luther

  20. win butler Says:

    i puffed a j in the bathroom and sprayed it down with febreeze normal liquid spray trying to cover it. it says on the side to try spraying it in the air.

    my roommate comes in my room and tells me it smells like a baby diaper in there. things that make you go hmmm

  21. Hoedown Says:

    Wow great fucking show. After midnight and drowned went there. Following the lines going south as we speak. Can’t wait to see the review. Oh yeah, moma was HOT too. Phish bitches.

  22. butter Says:

    Dl codes anybody? Hook It up

  23. win butler Says:

    while walking the dog i realized the silver lining to 80-90s fashion coming back in style. cut off jean shorts where the pocket is hanging out 3 inches past the short. yes is good.

  24. Gavinsdad Says:

    Rock n roll and sand for me. They were Playin for keeps tonite.

  25. KfL Says:

    you got mail butter

    hot show tonight, loved the after midnight

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