Back Into Deep Waters

PNC - 5.31.11 (Brian Ferguson)

In a quintessential opening night of a two night stand, Phish anchored Tuesday’s show at PNC with a dark and exploratory second set. Jumping right back into audacious risk-taking after a conservative final night of Bethel, the band thrilled the New Jersey crowd with a top-to-bottom effort that continued the rampage of Phish 2011. A six-song second set was held down by two monstrous psychedelic jaunts in “After Midnight” and “Drowned,” while the band left a trail of fire throughout the opening half as well. Nary a fan went hope unhappy after the first night of PNC, a show that confirmed Phish’s intent to push new musical boundaries all summer long.

5.31.11 (B.Ferguson)

The first set felt like a non-stop string of high-powered Phish grooves, but for a gorgeous rendition of “Roggae” that slid into the second slot. The opening half caught fire in earnest with “Punch You In the Eye” which started a five-song string of relentless dance music that came to a head with the potent one-two punch of “Sand” and “Tube.” The band burst into “Sand” with a jazz sensibility as Trey offered refined leads over a swanky and wide-open pocket. Gaining steam as a unit as the jam progressed, Trey switched gears into a more screaming lines and the band followed suit, engaging in progressively more aggressive interplay. Building into far more psychedelic conversation, the entire band converged in a massive first-set peak. And as soon as “Sand” ended, we got hit with the left hook—”Tube.” Tearing off a standout, Page-centric version, Phish packed quite the punch into the song’s dense funkscapes as Trey alternated between staccato licks and infectious rhythm comps.

Before ending the set with a crunchy “Character Zero,” Trey, however, completely lost himself amidst “Divided Sky,” causing one of the more musically awkward onstage moments in memory. Fumbling and bumbling through a part of the composition, he finally gave up while his band mates chugged along and joking turned the mic to the crowd, inviting his fans to sing his guitar melody. Finally catching up with everyone at a significant change in the song, “Divided Sky” had been wholly butchered, but with a tad of self-effacing humor, a human onstage moment emerged. A mere blip in an overall phenomenal night of music, the stumble had long been forgotten when the lights dropped for the second set. And when they did, the band’s exploratory spirit took over.

5.31.11 (B.Ferguson)

Before last night, Phish had never used “After Midnight” as a jam vehicle (less its sublime reprise in Big Cypress’ “Drowned”), but when they opened the second set with the J.J. Cale cover, one got the sense that was all going to change very quickly. The band built upon the song’s groove-based foundation as they embarked on a multi-faceted trip of transcendent and original Phish music. Flowing impeccably, the band navigated a snarling series of grooves that saw Trey play with a heap of bravado. It seems repetitive to continue highlighting Trey’s contributions to each and every jam, but his refined and passionate leadership seems to be the magic ingredient pushing Phish into outlandish places thus far this summer. Pulling his band into an intricate conversation that had a far more spiritual feel, he began to spout heart-tugging melodies amidst a tightly-connected and blissful excursion. Another gem that can be tacked onto the quickly-growing stack of completely surreal Summer 2011 Phish jams, “After Midnight” kicked down the door of the second set with a powerful exploration. And following a magnified, second-set “Possum,” we were greeted with another in the form of “Drowned.”

5.31.11 (B.Ferguson)

The band transformed their second cover of the set into overtly psychedelic jaunt, and one of the beauties of this jam was howfar the music branched from its set-opening predecessor. Transcending “Drowned’s” rock textures, the band dripped into a twisted and ambient sound sculpture—one growing trend of summer tour. Flirting briefly with subtle grooves, the band took a collective cliff dive into the cosmos with a spacey, yet coherent, experiment. Morphing from darker realms into soul-scraping soundscapes, this jam is a sinister and psychedelic portrait of a band moving into the future; pushing the envelope in ways they haven’t in ages. All four members gave themselves unto to a stunning quilt of abstract sound, forging further into one of their newest—and deepest—styles of summer. And then very smoothly, the band seamlessly segued into “Maze” in a complete juxtaposition of styles. Cranking up the heat out of the its amorphous predecessor, “Maze” featured scorching interplay between Trey and Page during each of their solos, and some heavy-handed bass work by Mike—one piece of the band’s playing that stood out all night long. This blistering second-set version provided the manic grounding for “Drowned’s” deep-space exploration while providing a scintillating centerpiece of its own.

PNC Official Print (Welker)

Following a totally appropriate “Dirt” and never-appropriate “Alaska,” the band slammed the door on the set with a bumping whole-band “YEM.” Not settling for guitar heroics, Trey took his refined leads into the gooey textures of “YEM,” providing one piece of a stellar, four-part puzzle. Finalizing the frame with a laid-back and funkified journey through the first version of summer, the return of “YEM” took center stage not only as a perfect set-closer, but also some groove-based resolution to a thoroughly exploratory stanza of music.

Whenever Phish gets to New Jersey, they mean business. And last night’s visit to PNC was no exception. Gracing us with more of the boundary-pushing playing that we all crave and has sprang to life since Bethel began, Phish crushed night one in Holmdel which can only mean great things for night two. With only one show before they jump to the Midwest, tonight at PNC should bring another adventure for the fire-fueled monster that is Phish right now. As one of Trey’s musical heroes, Bruce Springsteen, once sang in “Jersey Girl,” “Down the shore everything’s alright.”

I: Chalk Dust Torture, Roggae, Punch You In the Eye, The Moma Dance, Rock and Roll, Sand, Tube, The Divided Sky, Character Zero

II: After Midnight > Possum, Drowned > Maze, Dirt, Alaska, You Enjoy Myself

E: Fire


1,135 Responses to “Back Into Deep Waters”

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  1. Brucebeatings Says:

    Right on Miner! Love the posts! First time commenter , long time creeper! See y’all at Detroit, Thanks for the early posts!

  2. st8 of mind Says:

    Mornin BB. Nice work Miner, thanks. See you all Friday.

  3. Teajam Says:

    “Following a totally appropriate “Dirt” and never-appropriate “Alaska,””

    Love this. Agree 100%.

  4. the great quux Says:

    Hey, I like Alaska! But seriously, sometimes the fluffing is not justified, but for last night it is: this is the Phish you should travel for (at least in the 2nd set). Really amazing, so happy the band is back!!!

  5. Matso Says:

    How was the Rock and Roll? No Holmdel jam, but it clocked in at about 10 minutes, which in this era, suggests the potential for a lot of jamming.

  6. Southbound Says:

    so what is it about Alaska? I know we don’t like to harp on the negative, but maybe a write-up can still be appropriate. Would make for an interesting article read.

  7. Posternutbag Says:

    The cover selection through these first 3 shows has been really solid. Especially love that they’re experimenting in new ways with old songs. Can’t wait to see what drops tonight!

  8. Jtran Says:

    Morning comrades

    For the work crowd the show is up to stream on yawningdrone already

    Pretty hip setlist construction last night (on top of seemingly good, exploratory playing) minus Alaska.

  9. kayatosh Says:

    “the band took a collective cliff dive into the cosmos with a spacey, yet coherent, experiment. Morphing from darker realms into soul-scraping soundscapes, this jam is a sinister and psychedelic portrait of a band moving into the future; pushing the envelope in ways they haven’t in ages.”

    ^^^ NICE!

    I’m coming PNC night 2. hopefully phish has a little something in the tank for tonight.

  10. Luther T. Justice Says:

    Great to see you’re going to make it tonight @kaya! Hope you’re feeling better.

  11. Esteban Says:

    @Jtran thanks for the link to the Drone! My work day can now begin! Miner, love the Waits reference a la the Boss! Great post. Can’t wait until the NC run (as I’ve not been back to Jersey for the summer since the early 90s)…

  12. Mr palmer Says:

    I was getting Island Tour Twist flashbacks during Drowned jam last night.

    Fun show. Moma through Tube was hot stuff. Trey pulled a Marty McFly during divided sky.

    After Midnight and Drowned make the show. Yem was a blast.

  13. Jtran Says:


    Saw your post from last night this morning re: Japan. That’d be sweet!

  14. albert walker Says:

    The slow blues groove and silly lyrics seem to clash with the psych rock and grooves that make up most phish set 2’s

    Momentum killer like scent of a mule back in the day

    Works better mid set 1 if you have to play it

    Looks like a fun one last night

    Fuck divided sky anyway. Shelf that shit Trey

    Have fun tonight Kaya

  15. DukeOfLizards Says:

    First set was all about Trey getting the shreddy rock and roll tunes out of his system. I can deal with that, espcially with that song selection.

    After Midnight and Drowned = mind-blowing stuff. Right up there with the best jams of tour, which is saying something. Maze SMOKED as well.

    Four nights, one repeat. I can think of some prettty, prettty enjoyable tunes that still haven’t popped up yet…

  16. thedayman Says:

    just started my first spin thru the show. excited.

  17. joe Says:

    “And then very smoothly, the band seamlessly segued into”

    the botched segue complaints seem like a lifetime ago. As always, Huge thanks to Mr. Miner for bringing us stuck at home along with him on his journey and for giving those at the show something to debate (sometimes)

  18. Frankie Says:

    Late to the game this year…

    Just listened to the Cities-Halleys-Jim sequence…

    What the hell happened to the band since NYE? Didn’t know they had that kind of show up their sleeves…

    They tricked us… Damn pranksters!

  19. Hoedown Says:

    Great review, great show and here we go again. I just thought moma would get a nod today as well as it seemed unusually ripping. Need to re-listen. Be safe out there tonight, the troopers were in full force and not messing around. Was seeing bust left and right.

  20. lastwaltzer Says:

    did the AM>Possom on the way to work. KILLER, especially towards the end of the jam.


  21. halcyon Says:

    Morning folks & What Joe said. Great recap Miner.

    Stream stunk last night for the most part, though YEM sounded decent.

    Alaska works well in the 1st set.

    Streaming on the drone right now. Screw my IT department.

  22. Jtran Says:

    Roggae has some cool sustains towards the end from Trey

    Punch sounds a lot better/more engaging than it has recently

  23. SillyWilly Says:

    Good morning

    I posted last night but thought id try again:

    My car won’t be ready for the weekend with the damages after it was stolen

    Anyone leaving from Milwaukee/Chicago area who needs some gas money?

    falkwilt at

  24. Seriouswilly Says:

    I’m serious, yo^^^

  25. lastwaltzer Says:

    Willly I’ve got linoel richice, hall and oates and bunch of other a-list celebs working on a fundraiser as we speak.

    Somebody get this kid to OhiO

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