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. Mr. Palmer Says:

    btw- this dude taping was a few rows over from us on friday. Just blatantly taping w/ tripod and all.

  2. KfL Says:

    halleys is my favorite jam of the weekend. shit is ridiculous.

  3. mitch Says:

    6:37 on halleys sounds like curlews call to me by trey

  4. lastwaltzer Says:

    can’t even try to name a favorite jam at this point. SO much hot music.

    We have arrived. 🙂

  5. KfL Says:

    look at where you’re working bro

    jtran, only have it for saturday… was planning on getting in the car and going post-sunday

  6. KfL Says:

    i might be able to be convinced to get one though…

  7. mitch Says:

    page looks like the guy from ER now with his glasses.

  8. Aquaman Says:

    Hey guys, haven’t really read back much.

    I say for me it’s a tie between the Cities > Comet > Jim and the Disease > Free > Number Line. I get that the Number Line wasn’t too far off linear but still very solid and a perfect ending to a scorching Disease > Free.

    Am I the only custy who’s come up with the association between the 2nd show of summer tour and rippin’ Number Line’s? 2010 Blossom. 2011 Bethel.

    Stretch that reasoning slightly and I am calling a ripping Foam at DTE on Friday.


    @AJ, funny you should say that. I have a ticket for Sunday. A good one. We’ll talk.


  9. mitch Says:

    hilarious pic of a guy running across the stage during tweeprize. comments are funny too.

    trey was loving it. comments say that they didnt do anything to him. note to anyone wanting to do this, you can run across the stage, just dont do it naked and dont try and hug trey. or else carini will get you!

  10. Aquaman Says:

    Listening back to Set II Sat. and I just entered Page’s house!!

  11. Aquaman Says:

    Mitch you hitting any Midwest show next weekend?

  12. Cable Hogue Says:

    The out of left field breakdown of the Boogie On groove still qualifies as my favorite moment of the weekend….that jam, as much as any on the weekend, suggested that the rulebook was going out the window. And Waves to follow….the perfect tasteful placement of Caspian and the blindside Crosseyed….
    so exciting.

  13. Cable Hogue Says:

    My spot for Friday was my best of the weekend, an aisle on the sbd side of section seven, with luxury box railing in front to hold onto when shit got deep. in the womb.

  14. mitch Says:

    nothing til camden, aqua

  15. plord Says:

    So is Darien the sleeper of this first leg?

    Cinci -> Mansfield is 14 hours of driving but you get a skip day in the middle to make it there. Mansfield -> Darien is 7.5-8 hours driving for a next day show.

  16. Aquaman Says:


  17. Aquaman Says:

    Is this one of the most fun Gin jams in ages?? $$$

  18. Aquaman Says:

    Sorry, Saturday’s Gin.

    The fun in this jam comes even before Crab in my….

  19. ferd Says:

    adult in me is saying no go for tuesday pnc since i need to be up at 530am for work wednesday so…

    two pavs, section 400, aisle. can meet up around bryant park in nyc tomorrow if anyone wants. would love to recoup something back on them, so be as kind as you can 🙂 that said, would rather someone enjoyed them.

    shoot me an email at my username at cmu period edu. i’ll get back to you tomorrow am. let me know when you can meet.

  20. mitch Says:

    ferd, screw the adult. the boys are hot right now. so you’ll be a little tired. just dont booze it hard and you’ll be cool.

  21. halcyon Says:

    Fishman was on point all weekend long. Dude is filling the pockets adding density naturally.

  22. SillyWilly Says:

    The custycrib is 50x nicer than the place I actually live in

    Back to babylon where my roommates are engaged an intense game of dungeon and dragons spinoff board game. Massive cheering going on outside my room

    Tour is reality. All this is just the shit we have to put up with in between

    Good night, kids.

  23. Phamily Berzerker Says:

    46 days

  24. BrandonKayda Says:

    Anybody up?

    Really dark, bizarre fan-made music video to Mr Bungle’s Retrovertigo. Can’t stop watching it.

  25. Phamily Berzerker Says:

    I aM BK but I need to crash to be productive tomorrow

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