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. kayatosh Says:

    fee4zy: I love that 5.28.2011 DWD. they let that ending ambient section really breathe.

  2. EL Duderino Says:

    @ Fee4zy

    I thought Gorge R&R.
    They touch on that similar theme in # Line too

  3. litteringandd Says:

    Next at work is going to be joke. I’ll thinking about the masive Mikes that is going to get layed down for his bday at pine knob

  4. fee4zy Says:

    Trying not to get too excited. 20 days till Phish.

  5. negev79 Says:

    funny, I’m listening to the DWD just transitioned to Free. Beautiful and seamless switch. Well done.

  6. litteringandd Says:

    grammer fail

  7. negev79 Says:

    I had total word fail. That should have been “I’m listening to the DWD now too. Just transitioned to Free….”

  8. goochy Says:

    “Next at work is going to be joke. I’ll thinking about the masive Mikes that is going to get layed down for his bday at pine knob”

    I wouldn’t go in expecting to hear Mike’s at DTE. If anything, the gift from the band will be not playing it. Mike has been sick of that song for quite awhile and has said it in multiple interviews. Says he can’t relate to it anymore and I get that.

  9. kayatosh Says:

    scored 2 in the miner contest last night (bag and 2001).

    had quinn for the cover on 5.27 and quinn for the encore on 5.29. sure enough, they play it on 5.28. grrrrrrrr. i did fill out those picks on Fri. while quite ill, so i’ll give myself a pass.

  10. jdub Says:

    The landing into Free capped it off in style.

    Tremendous flow the entire night on Saturday. Nothing was forced. Everything seemed to fit together perfectly.

    So I am not surprised last night didn’t feature tons of exploration. It is a long summer and they have to pace themselves. Can’t imagine they take a step back though. They’ve worked too hard to get here.

  11. kayatosh Says:

    anyone scoring in the miner contest?

  12. litteringandd Says:

    I hear ya goochy, let me get my Mound on then 🙂

  13. Kurt from Indy Says:

    finally getting to spin this bethel2, cities, halleys = me all giggly

  14. voopa Says:

    I can’t remember my picks exactly, but I know they didn’t match anything, except maybe Loving Cup last night.

    Read last night that cashortrade has had a good run selling tix on lot for face so far. Let’s hope that continues!

  15. Kurt from Indy Says:

    littering, i hear that

    llama to open, trips to win

  16. kayatosh Says:

    switched to some 97 phish (11.28.97 YEM and ghost) for perspective.

  17. negev79 Says:

    I’d just like to take a moment to appreciate the fact that from the videos and pictures, there appeared to be (gasp!) a GIRL on the front rail Sat night. Right on sister!!

  18. voopa Says:

    I saw TWO in the photos from last night!

  19. negev79 Says:

    no way! llfa

  20. sumodie Says:

    i agree with miner – show never took off as a whole. some great tightly played songs, but the sets didnt flow smoothly, esp. with fluff placement

    all in all a glorious 3 days @ a fantastic venue in a beautiful locale

    we must return here!

  21. kayatosh Says:

    my old lady will be in the house at camden. she’s pumped. hasn’t seen the boys since july 2000, in camden.

  22. Lycanthropist Says:


    Thanks my man

    feel pretty good about it!

  23. tela'smuff Says:

    what’s up with the dude in the Fishman dress running on stage? reports? did he get Carini’d?

  24. halcyon Says:

    taylorc’s source from last night sounds pretty good.

  25. negev79 Says:

    @tela’s – he’s apparently a regular in the forum. There’s a lot of talk over there about it. I don’t think he’s reported back, so not sure if he got thrown out, but anecdotal reports are that security let him go.

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