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

*debut

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

  1. DukeOfLizards Says:

    http://qkme.me/3fhj

    ^duder

  2. negev79 Says:

    yeah I’m out too. See you all tomorrow.

  3. EL Duderino Says:

    @ Duke

    That brought a huge smile to my face. THANKS 🙂

  4. tela'smuff Says:

    @Dude – i feel your blues. I was telling the wife tonight while i feel very fortunate to be hitting Gorge>Tahoe and then Labor Day, i just want to do the Midwest run so I can hang with the crew and due the driving, hit BTB etc. Definitely tough sitting at home right now!

  5. EL Duderino Says:

    @ Telas’

    We’re gonna make up for it in leg 2!

    Bro’s only for 2 of the 3 I bet, which works for me

  6. DukeOfLizards Says:

    No worries brah.

    Is it me or is this GTBT going on forever? Something sneaky up their sleave?

  7. tela'smuff Says:

    is Leo doing DET?

  8. EL Duderino Says:

    nope Blossom cincy

  9. tela'smuff Says:

    that works for me dude. we’ll come correct. already working on a fine collection of green for your arrival.

  10. EL Duderino Says:

    🙂 got everything together except the dog sitter and 3 day pass

  11. EL Duderino Says:

    gettin texts from Leo now

  12. EL Duderino Says:

    I should be better when people gettin’ shot in Yemen by their Gov’t.

    How lucky are we to live here in the good ole USA!

    Love it or leave it. I’m stayin’!!!!

  13. DukeOfLizards Says:

    BK’s taking the SATs tomorrow, right?

    HOW WILL I GET THE BOARDS!?

  14. BrandonKayda Says:

    Spring Awakening + cake + Moritz sitting on my lap during “Bitch of Living” = amazing night.

    How was the Phish from Vermont?

  15. BingosBrother Says:

    25 minute disease? happy birthday posterkid.

  16. BingosBrother Says:

    Great bustout by BK right there. TOP notch.

  17. EL Duderino Says:

    you need a demon code?

  18. BrandonKayda Says:

    Setlist?

  19. DukeOfLizards Says:

    Synchronicity!

  20. DukeOfLizards Says:

    @duder

    I’m all up in the ‘nerd already. Just highlighting the fact that there is a large population of folks who rely on a young man of SAT-taking age to get their fix.

    How goes it BK?

  21. EL Duderino Says:

    SET1: Wolfman’s Brother, Funky Bitch, Sample, NICU, Mike’s Song > I am Hydrogen > Weekapaug Groove, Tela, Chalkdust Torture, The wedge

    SET2: Down with Disease > Fluffhead > Bowie, Waste > 2001 > Cavern — E) Good Times, Bad Times

    @ Duke

    Lossless baby

  22. butter Says:

    Sick lil jam out of pride of cucamunga, hinted at otherone

    Phil bringing heat and wearing a vest also tonite

  23. EL Duderino Says:

    love POC!

    Rock it hard Butterz!

  24. gavinsdad Says:

    That’s a tight lOoking s2.

  25. BrandonKayda Says:

    Just saw a really great musical called Spring Awakening, based off of a novel in 1891 of the same name. It was banned for a long time back then because of the subject matter of teenage sexuality/child abuse/suicide/etc. It was a really great show – people around me were crying during parts of it. Last night was the US amateur premiere of the show, and I met a lot of the actors afterward and they were really nice people.

    The music is basically like modern rock – and I got to introduce myself to a lot of the people involved and it was just really fun. Chocolate cake afterward because somebody graduated.

    The character Mortiz has a song where he sits in somebody’s lap for part of the verse – and he said last night if I came again he would acknowledge me somehow since I guess he thought I was giving out good energy or something. Tonight he scoped me out during that song and sat on me. This sounds much stranger typed out, huh?

    SAT’s tomorrow = not ready but will study tonight or something.

    Did Phish play well tonight?

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