Close the Door, Put Out the Light

PNC 5.31.2011 (Brian Ferguson)

Phish capped off their second night at PNC with a show fueled by setlist fire, but not a whole lot of improvisational substance. More often than not, when jams began to settle out of their structured foundations, Trey pushed the band right along to the next song, providing an odd and unneeded balance to the patient jamming that dominated the stand’s opening show. The second set—and entire show—however, was centered around a menacing and sublime opening sequence of “Tweezer” played into a first-time cover of Led Zeppelin’s psychedelic epic, “No Quarter.” But the rest of the second set, less “Twist,” got the impatient treatment as neither “Carini,” “Piper,” nor “Ghost” developed jams of significance. Instead, they featured mini and structured musical conversations that Trey continued to interrupt with song after song.

5.31.11 (B.Ferguson)

Allowing the band to play “Twist” to fruition and slide smoothly into “Ghost,” it seemed that his jumpiness had finally settled down. But he gave “Ghost” the kibosh only minutes into a connected and swanky excursion in order to close the night with a straightforward “Number Line.” A show that must have had eyes popping when the setlist unrolled on the Internet, didn’t unfold in person as one might have imagined. A set with “Tweezer,” “Ghost,” “Piper” and “Twist” contained little open-ended jamming to speak of, and it just didn’t feel like it to added up to much. Seeing only “Tweezer” and “Twist” to their natural conclusions, Phish filled the second half with so many crowd favorites in a frame that boasted little musical cohesion. But when upon the start of things, the set seemed destined for greatness.

Coming onstage and opening a the second set with “Tweezer” is one of the most powerful statements that Phish can make. And when they did this on Wednesday night the audience responded with a roar of energy, sparking PNC’s final frame. Though the band stayed primarily in the box throughout this jam, it wasn’t short of snarling guitar licks, liquid bass bombs, and locked musical communication. Trey came out of the gates with a relaxed leads that Page, Mike and Fish surrounded with a similarly laid-back feel as they progressed within the lines of an scathing “Tweezer” build that eventually reached a thunderous peak before entering a couple minutes of denouement that provided a section of more mellow and groovy ideas as the band set up their entrance into the Zeppelin classic.

5.31.11 (B.Ferguson)

The audience picked up on the song incredibly quickly—with the first organ suggestions— as so many had played it ad infinitum in high school and beyond. With Page taking on Plant’s iconic vocals, Phish dropped the psychedelic relic with precision and passion. Though they had teased the song in several jams before (notably 7.1.98’s “Tweezer”), never had the band tread on such sacred Zeppelin territory. But when they stepped to the piece, they did so with a stunning reverence to the original, and even providing a hint of their own sound in the murky improvisation between verses. The audience stood silent as the band slayed the holy piece of classic rock history, thus when the song ended and “Carini” began, it wasn’t far-fetched to think that Phish would launch into a psych-rock journey of their own. Evoking the feel of “No Quarter” within a short, searing section of music, the band, however, never took the jam anywhere before Trey awkwardly cut it off for “Piper.” (Gone Missing: The transformed “Carini” from Fall ’10. Reward if found!) And the same went for “Piper.” Though the band was ripping through the pieces’ signature textures with abandon, once again, just as the jam settled into a place where it might grow into something significant, Trey was right there to barge in with “Twist” for the second consecutive train wreck. But hey, its his band, right?

PNC - unofficial (Masthay)

Upon landing in “Twist,” somehow the band (read: Trey) found some patience and let the band play the jam to fruition. Collectively navigating a tight-laced conversation around the song’s theme, Trey allowed himself to get lost in his playing and seemed to stop thinking quite as much. Flowing in one of the most naturally-contoured jams of the night, as Phish dripped out of structure, they drifted into space, sculpting a soulful and ambient sound sculpture, more melodic that many we’ve heard so far this tour. Executing a seamless segue into “Ghost,” one foresaw huge things from the song’s summer debut. But in one of the more disorienting bork jobs of the night, as the band sat amidst a slamming and quickly-growing “Ghost” groove that had the entire venue captivated, the Big Red axe came back into play, this time in the form of a horribly placed “Backwards Down the Number Line.” Finishing the show with a liner run through the new-school anthem, any piece that cuts of “Ghost” is no friend of mine, so the band had lost me at that point.

Coming out for a relatively token encore of “Show of Life,” “Reprise,” Phish had finished a show that—in structure—resembled something from the re-evolutionary era of ’09 or ’10. But coming in the context of this so-far, next-level tour, this second set just didn’t cut the mustard after its outstanding opening sequence of “Tweezer > No Quarter.”

PNC Pre-Show (B.Ferguson)

The first set got jump started by a “First Tube” opener, but didn’t get going in earnest until a succinct “Jibboo,” and more particularly, a Trey-centric “Seven Below.” But the improvisational gem of the first set—and perhaps the show—came in tempo-switching, eerie yet groovy, “Split Open and Melt.” One of few authentic four-part exchanges of the entire night, this piece lifted into a harrowing, retro abstraction with Mike throwing down all sorts of bizarre bass patterns behind Trey’s wails of terror.

Though featuring moments of brilliance, and a sparkling setlist, last night’s entire second set, beginning at “Carini” felt forced for no good reason. If the band had pulled one or two songs out of the mix, they might have developed their jams a bit more and crafted a set that flowed as good as it looked. But as we the scene turns to the Midwest for the only three shows until UIC in August, I would bet that more adventure awaits just around the corner.

I: First Tube, Stealing Time From the Faulty Plan, Camel Walk, Heavy Things, Gotta Jibboo, Wilson, Seven Below > Kill Devil Falls, Axilla > Split Open and Melt, Suzy Greenberg

II: Tweezer > No Quarter*, Carini > Piper > Twist > Ghost > Backwards Down the Number Line

E: Show of Life, Tweezer Reprise



1,859 Responses to “Close the Door, Put Out the Light”

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  1. rizlamon Says:

    here’s to hoping Trey smokes a phatty and reflects on his impulsive ways

  2. ReidIcculus Says:

    He needs to go to Page’s House.

  3. Foul_Domain Says:

    Thanks for the review, miner.

    Hate hearing that Carini, Piper and Ghost all chopped short in the same set. ouch!

    No quarter was extremely well done:

  4. ThePigSong Says:

    Thanks for the write up! A download code would be $$$ – thepigsong at g mail, muchas gracias!

  5. bird Says:

    Hoping the BB can hook me up with a ride to Blossom. South Bend, IN on I80/90 on the way to Blossom from Chicago. Have a ride home. Gas $$$ and tasty brews for a spot in a ride. jsteele7777 a t ya hoo

  6. kenny powers Says:

    damn, borked jams aside, Tweezer > No Quarter looks like it has some epic potential….can’t wait to spin! i gotta get thru 5/29 II and 5/31 first

  7. willowed Says:

    We had a great stream last night. Plenty of us were on it.

    When they cut off that Ghost, most of us went freakin’ bananas.

    Split was pure fire though.

  8. Teajam Says:

    Miner nailed it, impatient is the only way to describe it. On paper this show looks ridiculous (to me anyway) but in person so often it just felt rushed and a bit sloppy on Treys part. I hate singling him out but he seemed almost flustered on more than one occasion. Ghost being cut off like that was the worst. At least when Sand got Horsed it was after it had time to develop and shine.

    No Quarter sounded both big and dark. Page’s vocals had the “phaser-y” Plant effects on them, they did a great job with it.

    This show left me with some mixed emotions in that I left it with a smile on my face while at the same time scratching my head in confusion.

  9. Chonz Says:

    Noon can’t come soon enough. Can’t wait to hit the road. Hope to meet some of you on the Gummo run this weekend. Going to do my best to make it to BTB fest this year. Safe travels and have fun!

  10. Undermind Says:

    2 vids of No Quarter here. both are very good!

  11. st8 of mind Says:

    Nice write up Miner. I hope they have more to give in the D. I have a feeling it might be a scorcher. See you Friday. I’m geeked.

  12. Matso Says:

    It sounds like the return of TreyDHD. With the Divided botch job on Tuesday, clearly he was just out of sorts a bit. Happens to all of us, especially off the back of a super fluid few days in Bethel. A bit of meditation on the road to Detroit should clear things up nicely.

  13. Dr. Pronoia Says:

    The jam chaser in me that this board has encouraged was baffled a few times last night, for sure. Any of the songs from the 2nd set would’ve benefitted from 10 more minutes.

    That said, I was closer to the stage than I’d ever been for the entirety of the 1st set and through the Tweez>No Quarter, and I was committed to making my first time out of the house in a long time a great one.

    Like I said last night, after each rush-job the frustration faded quickly out of enthusiasm for what had just started – the piper>twist>ghost segment especially. I do think tho that if you can set aside the rushed segues, there is some amazing playing in there in every one of those tunes.

    I can’t be objective bc I wasn’t there for Bethel or PNC1, and this will be my only show for Summer until UIC, but also because I arrived to the meetup solo, and then raged the show with a solid, super-chill BB crew, and all that put awkward segues and truncated jams into proper perspective for me.

    Oh, and during Split I lost my mind

  14. albert walker Says:

    It’s not phish tour without a few what the Fuck Trey moments

    I still have faith this summer is more like bethel 2 than the choppy 7 min jamless segued set focused heavily in 09 and 10 and it seems last night

    Bethel waves Trey
    Bethel waves

    One more work day to go
    See ya in Dtown

  15. Selector J Says:

    jtran said it best last night… “best looking worst show ever.”
    Reggae sow goes live in 3 minutes.

  16. btb Says:

    Didn’t see this coming at all…goes to show you don’t ever know by looking at it on paper

    BTB Fest II Update: WE WILL HAVE AN AIR CONDITIONED TRAILER to escape from the heat, I’ve dubbed it “the cool tent”

    Also, installed a toilet for the ladies, but dudes will still have to use the field. Grass is cut, everything is ready roll. Hope ya’ll can stop by!

    btbuckeye AT g mail if you have any questions or need directions.

  17. Selector J Says:

    haha reggae show

  18. neemor Says:

    Tweezer>No Quarter was unquestionably both one of the smoothest segues and best covers I’ve seen from the band in 3.0, though.
    Missed opportunities here and there, but a fun night nonetheless.
    Good to see all of you guys yesterday and hope to do it again soon.
    Greatwoods, anyone?

  19. Robear Says:

    Discounting an entire show because of Ghost>numberline, as painful as it was , is nuts. There is some sick stuff from last night. Piper did nothing for me, but the Twist was great and pretty well developed.

    Tweezer>NQ was great. Nailed the dark Zep tune. Page nailed it.

    Oh yeah…. That Spilt was a true mind melter.

    Trust me., this show is not as bad as those who weren’t there will tell you. 😉

  20. Mr palmer Says:

    ^^. That was palmer.
    Robear switched his name on my phone

  21. gavinsdad Says:

    agreed across the board.

    BB = chill people
    palmers buddy = chill host
    my honda civic = chill rain shelter
    robane = chill your mind

    pnc nite 2 = not as chill. somehow even in a large venue i got claustrophobic and antsy waiting for trey and the band to open up a bit more. they still had that punchiness but S1 seems like songs stacked up like cord wood in hindsight and S2 opened extremely nicely as Miner and others have mentioned but the big boys never totally came to fruition. let’s not take away from some spontaneous crowd support…people were having a blast (cept the aisle clearing guards…why oh why did you play tough nite 2?) but i felt there was a yearning to see these guys stretch out big time.

    enjoy the next ones kids.

  22. Fly Says:

    The more I think about it, the more I feel like they had a setlist and time was running out.

  23. Jtran Says:

    To clarify:

    “Best looking worst set in a while”

    Come on selector! 😉

  24. lastwaltzer Says:

    Look DTOWN REBA IS COMING and she means business.

  25. albert walker Says:

    no doubt

    saving Reba for a few days into tour. gonna shred.

    I’ve heard from kids inside Palmer not a bad show just scared they go back to the rushed style of last 2 years vs teh Bethel more relaxed style

    we shall see

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