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”

  1. MisterChristian Says:

    I heard the nod to Phishthoughts on XM/Sirius Jam On last night, Shwartz has mad love for Miners page! I love how this forum isnt hindered with excessive trolling. *knock on wood* You are all a great bunch and while I don’t post a lot I’m always reading.

    No Quarter was one of my dream covers for Phish, now I hope I’ll get Pink Floyds Echoes or Fearless some day. Can’t wait to give “Twarter” a spin!

    I’ll be hitting my first show of Summer at Great Woods, I don’t know why they havn’t done 2 nights in this classic shed in 3.0 yet but I wish they would. I hope they really blow the roof this time. Next and only show for me will be Supa Ball, hope to run into some of you!

  2. bhizzle Says:

    Piper and Ghost all chopped short in the same set. ouch!….those two in a second set should NEVER be short…blasphemy!

    Page toured solo playing No Quarter. I am not surprised they nailed it.

    Regardless of how the show went last night I am still fuckin pumped for Saturday!

  3. Kaveh Says:

    Look DTOWN REBA IS COMING and she means business.

    ^ Can’t wait for that!

    @Miner: thanks for the write up…I feel bad to hear that Trey the Lumberjack is back…I’ll have to listen to get a feel for it.

  4. JMelby Says:

    Up showered and ready to head to Michigan. For me, last nights shows was just what I wanted to see. If the last 2 nights had been equal to the first 2 at Bethel, I think the heat would be hard to match for the Knob>Riverbend run. But now, looks like the fires are waiting to be stoked again. Plus a new venue for Phish can bring out good things.
    Travel safe all, and see ya out on the road. Kaveh, we’ll get hold of you and let you know how far we got and what will be a good meet up spot Friday.

  5. Selector J Says:

    “Kathaarian Life Code”
    ^ Ha! I’m gonna leave that… Came up when I hit Apple+V. haha No idea what people are googling here on the station’s cpu.


    I meant to copy and paste jtran’s response. I was close.


    re: Miner’s reviews
    I enjoy them so much more than some recent ones I’ve read on another site. Some reviewers really sound like they’d rather be elsewhere… like a film critic sitting through the latest Owen Wilson flick.

  6. Foul_Domain Says:

    Fast Bug…kinda funny

  7. Kaveh Says:

    @JMelby: Sounds good. I still think that the Midwest run could/will be fire even if the band played PNC2 like they played for PNC1. Nothing wrong with night after night of FIRE. 🙂

  8. willowed Says:

    I like the fast bug better than the slow bug.

  9. Kaveh Says:

    I’ll say this, and I called it as my wildcard opener last night, First Tube needs to get out of it’s encore spot much more often. What a rippin way to open a show.

  10. Kaveh Says:

    Pine Knob; it’s Mike birthday, will we see a Mike’s opener?!

  11. st8 of mind Says:

    First set Reba it the Mitten.

  12. Foul_Domain Says:

    starting last night’s Split.

    Starting now on hoodstream if anyones interested

  13. litteringandd Says:

    It is starting to finally sink in that I have a first row seat right after the ga pit in dtown, THEN i’m in the pit for Blossom. Miner i think i’ll have some oics for you. Wish list for the run- Birds, llama/Buried Alive opener, Sally, Scents w/intro, Lizards, FYF or Mound for mikes bday

  14. butter Says:

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

    thats funny Robear, everyone on this site are trained jam chasers, now.

    they see a 4 min Twist and think the show automatically sucked

  15. Halden Says:

    Tweezer > NQ had me so excited that the debacle that followed was all the more disappointing. Set 1 was good Set 2 is only Tweezer > NQ.

  16. Kaveh Says:

    @FD…I’m behind a little bit…just rolling up the Jibboo.

  17. Kaveh Says:

    There is something about it, but I LOVE, the plunge into the tasty part of Jibboo by Trey. That part always get me excited.

  18. butter Says:

    one of my older buddies dug nights 1 and 3 Bethel

    loves the Loving Cup, Fluff, Mikes, Simple, Week, 2001 selection

    also his favorite set was the first set, first night. Tweez>MFMF. an old schooler, that seeing MFMF nailed out of a Tweez is huge

    he also dug Greek 1 alot.

    just some perspective so that when Phish plays a less risky rocker like Bethel 3, some people love it.

    he said “everyone loved Saturday, but thats just not my favorite style.

    this cat did all of Summer 94

  19. Foul_Domain Says:

    I was really hoping for a Jibboo at Darien. Ive never caught one live.

    Still waiting for Llama too, which, as a matter of fact, will be the opener at Darien.

  20. butter Says:

    thoughtful write up MIner – can’t wait to hear the SOam and TWeezep

    4 minute Pipers blow

  21. butter Says:

    4 min Pipers blow almost as much as cut off Ghosts

  22. Foul_Domain Says:

    That Split was deliciously dirty

  23. John Rabbit Says:

    Does Holmdel NJ, PNC or whatever have some sort of strict curfew, where if a band doesn’t leave the stage by a certain time they are paying huge fines or something? might explain the aborted ghost…but then phish shoulda never played the darn thing and gone straight to numberline, or given ghost it’s due and forgot about numberline all together.

    personally, i found the PNC shows to be a series of musical peaks and valleys, with more peaks than valleys.

    and for heaven’s sake, can we please not let a few botched transitions, a sloppy DSky and aborted Ghost jam not let us forget that…PHISH PLAYED A NOTE-PERFECT COVER OF NO QUARTER!

    the 8th grade, prep-school hippie, classic-rocking, suburban white-kid inside me was having an aneurysm.

  24. albert walker Says:

    no doubt butter. we all go for different reasons

    I found night 3 Bethel to be well played but other than 2011 and a few minutes of Simple I found the show to be pretty dull

    gotta be tough for Trey to play to so many different fan bases

    Bethel KDF!!!

  25. st8 of mind Says:

    I’m pretty sure there is an 11:00 curfew at DTE. I have been to many shows there. Just so you know they may go on earlier than usual. Show time says 7:00, which is earlier than other shows.

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