Playing It Safe on Sunday

Bethel Woods - 5.29.11 (D.Lavery)

After two nights of psychedelic debauchery to open summer tour, Phish finished their three-night stand in Bethel with a show that was delivered with a razor-sharp tightness, but far less improvisational adventure than the previous couple. At several times throughout the show, the band seemed on the verge of diving into a musical abyss, but each time they took a turn out of creative waters and into the next song. When looking at Bethel as a three-show package, however, Sunday’s anthemic punctuation mark seemed just fine as we departed the blissful pastures of Woodstock for the grit of central Jersey.

5.28.11 (C.LaJaunie)

Though Sunday’s show carried a “Saturday night rock and roll” vibe throughout, it still contained legitimate highlights book-ending the second set in “Mike’s > Simple” and “2001 > Light > Slave.” But after rewriting the landscape of modern Phish over the previous two nights, the decision to stay within the box during all of these jams (less “Simple”), seemed like a strange move. Carrying an air-tight quality to many of these sequences, the band allowed only “Simple” to breathe, while pushing through their other improvisational passages with safe and linear interplay. They played with the same precision and fire we have seen over the first couple of nights, but for whatever reason, they decided not to take any musical risks last night. At the end of “46 Days,” “Meatstick” and “Light,” Phish seemed on the brink of oozing into creative and psychedelic waters, but in each case the jam was cut in favor of keeping the setlist moving. The most egregious case of this came in the middle of the second set during “Meatstick.”


5.28.11 (P. McGonigle)

After sparking the second half with a ferocious “Mike’s Song” and followed with a summery, ambient jaunt in “Simple,” they smoothly segued into an inexplicably short “Weekapaug.” But at this point in the game, the stage was set for the continuation of a legitimate Phish set. But when “Meatstick” was cut off awkwardly for “Fluffhead,” any musical momentum had been derailed. It’s one thing when “Fluffhead” follows a significant jam, but its a whole ‘nother thing when it cuts one off altogether. After a disconnected three-song, mid-set sequence, the band picked the show back up with the space grooves of “2001.” Featuring heavy-hitting dance patterns, Trey, again, showed off his precise and multi-note licks that have been so prevalent in the summer’s opening weekend. And finally, one of the set’s highest points came in its final song—a multi-tiered “Slave to the Traffic Light” which built slowly through beat-less textures before ending the weekend with a blissful peak.

5.28.11 (C.LaJaunie)

The opening set contained a true “first set” vibe for the first time this tour, and though everything was played sharply and with gusto, “Timber” represented the most engaging interplay of the set—and likely the show—as the band seethed white-hot psychedelia within the fourth song of the show. “Ocelot” and “Antelope” both featured contained jams with impresive full-band communication, and “Suzy” even boasted a shredding quasi-jam. But, all in all, other than “Timber,” the set amounted to a whole bunch of singles.

Regardless of its linear, song-based contour, Sunday night represented but one slice of a three-part pie that was Bethel Woods—the stand where Summer 2011 blasted off. Have a safe day off and I’ll see you in Jersey!

I: AC/DC Bag, Sample in a Jar, Rift, Ocelot, Ya Mar, Timber, The Oh Kee Pa Ceremony > Suzy Greenberg, 46 Days > Twenty Years Later, The Ballad of Curtis Loew, Run Like an Antelope

II: Mike’s Song > Simple > Weekapaug Groove, Meatstick > Fluffhead, Joy, Also Sprach Zarathustra > Light > Slave to the Traffic Light

E: Loving Cup, Tweezer Reprise



385 Responses to “Playing It Safe on Sunday”

  1. albert walker Says:

    2001 was jumpin last night too

  2. garretc Says:

    Hey folks, hope you all had great holiday weekends, had to avoid the board to run no spoilers, glad I did! Super excited to hear the first two nights, those blew away all my expectations, amazing shows. And I agree 100% with Miner about Sunday night, played tight, with some fierce Type I jamming, but disappointingly in the box compared to the first two nights. Still, nothing to complain about as a three pack really, absolute fire.

    And I altered my plans this weekend to hit the HBowl, so if any of you folks have extras I’m looking for a single, or can flip you 2 UIC 8/16s for 2 HB. Shoot me an email at garretconour at gmail if you can help me out!

  3. Lycanthropist Says:


    did you hear the phish cover from that PC show?

    havent heard the 2001 > Light > Slave yet

  4. angryjoggerz Says:

    Amazing summer day here today, spent it chilling at lake with my family and my best friend and his family from China, had some gelato, never really put on shoes, kicked it on my rooftop, basking in IT, really happy that summer is here.

    So looking forward to it all. Got this midwest run, then Tahoe and UIC, all looking very fun and filled with great music and people.

    I feel like a very, very lucky man. Grateful.

  5. angryjoggerz Says:

    Spirit of the fawn.

  6. garretc Says:

    Oh, and I’ll still take any Tahoe extras too, since I know there’s sooooo many extras floating about…

  7. BrandonKayda Says:

    Yeah @AW once the band is hip to Trey wanting to explore this is going to get really hot fast. See Simple from last night. Fishman kind of cut into Weekapaug too early.

  8. Mike in Austin Says:

    Lizards. Don’t forget Lizards.

  9. JeffieM Says:


    No I didn’t. Had to head off. Which track is it in? No song names I recognize…

  10. albert walker Says:

    Light gets the rep as the only Joy jam vehicle

    but # line and KDF sure did represent in Bethel

    I was all pissed both times they kicked in to em and Trey shoved it up my ass just like he would back in the day when you’re pissed to hear a song

  11. albert walker Says:

    I was thinking about your sensitive ass AJ when they dropped in Joy

  12. Lycanthropist Says:

    track 2 it is misnamed

  13. mitch Says:

    page is just killing it all over the place. pure dance funk on the clav in cities.

    the bethel lawn pre phish was like kentucky blue grass. really tall from the rain and hadnt been matted down. toes could get stuck if you were barefoot and skimming the tops. after 3 days of people dancing, it was a different story. saw them mowing the lawn pre doors opening at WW. lucky we got to bounce on that lawn all weekend.

    the sound in that place is perfect from all angles. a bit soft at the top center but everywhere else is golden. the people working there were really great. they would stop by the booth and donate money and talk to us about fracking. they were really involved locals. phish has to go back. it was chill for everyone involved i cant see bethel not wanting more of our money.

  14. lastwaltzer Says:

    “Light gets the rep as the only Joy jam vehicle

    but # line and KDF sure did represent in Bethel”aw

    KDF killed it this weekend. Easily the best take on the song IMO and one of my favorite jams of the weekend.

  15. mitch Says:

    trey is spittin fire around 8 mins in this cities.

    cant touch this

  16. [sm unrelated] Wilson Says:

    i think i’m going phish radio silence at this point.

  17. angryjoggerz Says:

    I was thinking about your sensitive ass AJ when they dropped in Joy

    ^ Hell yes, Joy is my tiny girl dancer jam.

  18. Mr. Palmer Says:

    we were both kinda talking smack during Boogie On as well. Got that one shoved right up there as well.

  19. mitch Says:

    i was talking smack about KDF. i’ll just add that to the list of songs i dont like but enjoy it once we drop into the jam.

    felt kinda like hallys better step the hell up after that cities and it didnt disappoint. robear texted me “finally lost the halleys blue balls” mmhmmm

  20. albert walker Says:

    my only complaints

    no bustouts
    and my cape got a little wrecked in the mud

    laterz comrades
    jealous of kids on tour
    see yall on Friday

  21. JeffieM Says:

    Oh damn, this is nice. Somehow missed it or skipped it. I think I listened to 3 or 4 songs.

    I really like the way it works as a 3 piece thing. much more aggressive drumming, and more even with the organ leads than guitar leads.

  22. kayatosh Says:

    come on dr. gabel.

    I kid.

  23. kayatosh Says:

    night yall

  24. mitch Says:

    speaking of capes, AW, KWL and i all danced right by him on the flat space to the right of the pavilion. realized just now much it would annoy me to wear one at a show.

  25. Mr. Palmer Says:

    Bethel Tweezer

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