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. GhostPhunk Says:

    what happened? are we seriously making the albany 2 09 comparison????

  2. Mike in Austin Says:

    I am so anti pockets right now.

  3. albert walker Says:

    Hottest jam on that dwd. so so good. wow. melodic themes everywhere. killer Trey

    Check that shit out

    Bowie goes massive too

    Band killing it

  4. butter Says:

    Damn 25 min disease

    Setbreak Furthur

  5. butter Says:

    Sickness AW, will dl that beotch tonite

  6. voopa Says:

    BK w/post of the day:

    Tonight he scoped me out during that song and sat on me. This sounds much stranger typed out, huh?

    Good luck on the SATs! Get some sleep!

  7. negev79 Says:

    just checked in for a minute or two. Getting so excited about hearing that show tomorrow.

    Good luck on the SAT’s BK!

  8. voopa Says:

    unitalicise fail.

  9. voopa Says:

    Can’t wait to hear this. Where is it?

  10. BrandonKayda Says:

    How was the Wolfman’s/Chalkdust/Weekapaug? All seemed longer than the norm. Surely Disease and Bowie were good

  11. negev79 Says:

    @BK, not sure about everyone else, but when I checked in during the second set, the only streams available were ruined by bad sound and people talking nonstop over the music. So my excitement over the show is based on check in’s from people who were there (e.g. Robear) and what people have said on twitter and other places like that.

    Yemblog tweeter was very impressed.

  12. negev79 Says:

    But detailed info I do not have.

  13. YborCity Says:

    Holy shit. This disease. Blissed-out urgent ambience. Dancy and purposeful. No individual band member leading the whole way through…. Miner’s going to have some fun adjectives and stories for us to vicariously read tomorrow!

  14. YborCity Says:

    This LivePhish app is the best $.99 I’ve ever spent

  15. sumodie Says:

    @bk: hope you smoke those SATs tomorrow, make that later today!

  16. BrandonKayda Says:

    I’m too excited coming off of Spring Awakening to sleep, and I’m sitting here trying not to think about some silly test I’ll take tomorrow morning. Thanks all.

  17. Luther T. Justice Says:

    DWD was sick as hell. Still rapping my mind around it. Wow.

  18. Luther T. Justice Says:


  19. YborCity Says:

    Last post tonight:
    While listening to the bethel kdf, halley’s, and bdtnl, I kept thinking, “why don’t they ever land here after dark, psychedelic jams anymore?” I love 97 shows because you come through the other end of the tunnel and find yourself grooving to a guitar-solo led jam; you’ve made it back to familiar territory. Full circle. I loved those jams at bethel, but I wanted to hear them as rewards — I know, beggars can’t be choosers…

    They do just that with tonight’s DWD. Dark, dancy, purposeful improv followed by a meandering, boarder-line noodly, incredibly creative Phishy jam. I am just psyched to be alive and listening while my favorite band finds their footing again.

  20. JP Says:

    2011 roaring into Phishtory

  21. Andrew Says:

    Alright I couldn’t resist one more, got in late and haven’t caught up with tonight…

  22. Mike in Austin Says:

    Trey did the the whole Holy Ghost MSG lick during that DwD. He was on point. He was bringing it tonight. Other than the poor Tela decision, it was really quite stellar.

    I know people think this band should be able to pull that Fluff easily enough, but it was played with enthusiasm tonight. Serious enthusiasm.

    The bar is set very very high

    Nice to meet some folks tonight.

  23. Mike in Austin Says:

    I stepped right into Andrews joke.

  24. Mike in Austin Says:

    13:42 for the first Holy Ghost teasing in DWD for the first part.

    Yes, this Disease is really that good. Too bad on the stream for couch ter, but you want to boards of this show.

    16:25 for the Holy Ghost reprise. Trey was grinning ear to ear.

    Page’s and Mike’s linkup at 19:45. New Phish 4.0

    Can someone send me an email to aurzada @ yah oo dot com for directions to the BTB fest? I can’t find it anymore.

  25. albert walker Says:

    Shit was fire MIA

    Night comrades. Hosed.

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