Opening Another Door

Pine Knob – 6.3.11 (Michael Stein)

Sometimes Phish comes out and far surpasses anything in your wildest imagination. Sometimes a show—just one set—can launch thousands of dreams, taking the audience on a voyage so cosmic and coherent; so spectacular and superb that people will look back on it for years to come. Odysseys like the second set of Detroit’s Friday night exclamation reach the very core essence of Phish—four musicians pushing the boundaries of musical possibilities while taking 15,000 fans with them into the depths of the universe. With playing so together and inspirational, Phish opened yet another door last night, inviting us further into the future. And more than ever, the future is now.

Official Clarkston Print

Throughout the course of one “Down With Disease,” Phish crafted a soulful soundtrack that will be listened back on and revered as one of the peaks of this tour—a tour that is growing harder to believe with each passing day. Easily the most impressive improvisational jaunt the band has undertaken since their return, “Down With Disease,” was a magnificent display of what Phish is still capable of creating—mystical travels into the core of the unknown. Words like “unity,” “single-mindedness” and “subconscious” come to mind as descriptors of the magnificent music that engulfed Pine Knob on Friday night. Given a few shows to get themselves used to jamming on the level, and the band came out last night with another statement that came across loud and clear—strap on your seatbelts, because the real-deal adventure is back and better than ever in 2011. The subtly of the band’s interplay throughout this multi-textured opus was staggering as they morphed through so many stages of a sublime jam that just never ended. Whole-band transcendence on a level we have yet to see in this era; “Down With Disease” held a certain majesty, drenched with the type of cosmic exploration grabs one’s heart and heads for the hills. Pushing through multiple segments where they could have washed into another song, Phish—the rediscovered psychedelic juggernauts of 2011—forged on to discover a river of improvisational gold. Words escape me as feelings of awe fill my entire being just thinking about the next-level experience. The band, deep into the piece, even reached a surreal jam on John Coltrane’s “A Love Supreme;” one mere part of this multi-dimensional puzzle.


Honestly, Phish is now beginning to reach place I believed they could reach all along. That is why I’ve been at this blog, trying to capture the process of getting to now; to a place where Phish weaves magical journeys that sweep us away into alternate realities—regardless of any substances. Utterly overwhelming in every sense of the word, the fact that Phish is playing at this level at this stage of the game is why we all believed in them and supported them through the past couple years, and why, when tasting that elusive magic in spurts throughout ’09 and ’10, we kept coming back. Because we knew that one day we’d reach now. And, god damn, it gives me goosebumps to even write that.

Oh yeah, the music. So patient and powerful, delicate and inspiring…it was simply Phish at their improvisational best. Period. End of story. And just when you thought the band might wind down their endless journey, they entered a final portion of “Disease” that seamlessly landed them in the introduction to “Fluffhead.” Like magicians, they transformed one song into the other and shot “Fluffhead” into orbit, arriving at the top with a whole-band peak that supported a guitar solo of legend. And upon winding down the climactic piece, the band drew out the final note, twisting it into a demented plane and into the intro to “David Bowie.” We were amidst one of those sets where, while it was still happening, everybody knew they were witnessing something incredibly special. And when the band took a cliff dive into a mid-set “Bowie,” we were in for business. Crafting another piece of to-die-for jamming, the band kept the the connection and flow they reached in “Disease” right through the most sublime “David Bowie” since sometime in another decade. With intricate and laid-back play by Trey mixed with heavy-handed bass leads by Mike, the band set sail on a trip that would bring us through another incredibly spiritual experience; another piece of the scintillating improv. Flowing with a new vigor— a boundary-pushing fury—the band broke through the structure of the song into an uplifting piece of music that coupled with “Disease” and “Fluffhead” in what amounted to the unquestionable highlight of summer thus far—”Disease -> Fluffhead > Bowie.”

PNC (B.Ferguson)

And after a brief exhale in “Waste,” the band punctuated the show with a fierce combination of “2001 > Cavern,” not to mention a “Good Times, Bad Times” encore that just about melted Pine Knob to the ground. And though band played an amazing first set, with the coolest take on “Chalk Dust” we’ve heard in ages and a ferocious Happy Birthday “Mike’s Song,” that’s a story for another day…

On Phish tours of lore, the band redefined onstage possibilities nightly with musical excursions that pushed them—and us—into new and exciting territory, together. Well, that dynamic is all happening all over again, and the only thing more exciting than reflecting on last night is thinking about what could go down tonight! Catch them while you can, folks, because when all is said and done, Summer 2011 will no doubt be looked upon as another tour of legend, and we are still in the opening stages…

I: Wolfman’s Brother, Funky Bitch, Sample in a Jar, NICU, Mike’s Song > I Am Hydrogen > Weekapaug Groove, Tela, Chalk Dust Torture, The Wedge

II: Down with Disease -> Fluffhead > David Bowie, Waste > Also Sprach Zarathustra > Cavern

E: Good Times Bad Times


866 Responses to “Opening Another Door”

  1. goat Says:

    finally hearing disease… holy lord. what band is this. what year is this. and props to whoever called the seven below come-on around the 22 minute mark, spot on, definitely hearing it… this shit is ridiculous. here comes fluff. later kids.

  2. Mike in Austin Says:

    I love the DWD video.

  3. buried alive sf Says:

    i’ve been going to shows since 91 and have seen the evolution as: fast exploratory stop on a dime and hook based fever jamming to mid nineties full sound arena jamming to the goo funk and post funk eras of 97 and 98 to the millenial trilling and brilliant amoeba action of 99 and 2000. The hiatus stuff got a little dark with a lot of snarling guitar work grab the dragon by the tail stuff.

    But now – and this summer in particular – these type 2 explorations are like light crystals of tone dancing around playfully in pure harmony in the most peaceful way. i’m drawn to the bethel waves when they melt it down towards the back half and the dwd in MI right before the love supreme action comes. I also heard it in bowie. kind of like snowflakes of sound falling and dancing in a peaceful way. i have to listen to blossom more to see if i catch it in here. it’s hard to describe, but it’s like a gentle high pitch short note interplay that is pure psychedelia.

    anyone catch what i’m getting at?

  4. butter Says:

    Sittin in shorelines parking lot after a solid show
    Fun night, was getting txt from bigjig all night to keep up with Phish. I love the future. And, the sbds they r putting out right now r the best

  5. butter Says:

    Spinin dte disease in a limo


  6. buried alive sf Says:

    also get it the simple jam and late in cities outro from the grek 10. i think this stuff is the really new fresh thing they are trying to explore more and more. i can’t recall another era where i got these sounds, but i’m sure they’re back there.

    another trend i like is the deconstruction jamming of both halleys bethel and possom tonight. A good technique to take a song deep whithout fucking with the song or seque, just the time sequencing

  7. buried alive sf Says:

    how was further tonight at the shore? family stuff got in my way from making it down from SF

  8. Robear Says:

    Amazed. Need miner to put these shows into words.

  9. Matso Says:

    Just watched the Detroit DWD video with my 2.5 year old. She was mesmerised by the lights and went off to get her baby doll to watch it with us.

    Sublime playing from Mike and Trey during the last phase of that jam, especially where Page comes in with that big synth wash. They couldn’t have played like that in 97-00 or 03. It’s too humble. Gorgeous.

  10. Matso Says:

    Btw, I know the band is hitting new levels right now, but I’m not sure I agree with all this talk about “sticking with the band during lean times in 09/10”. Let’s not forget there was some excellent stuff during both those years (yes, including 09). We’ve all heard the “now they’re finally really back” refrain a few times before. We might have evolved beyond Fall 2010 now, but that was already something that we hadn’t heard in 1.0 or 2.0 (ie. Dead-like interplay, etc).

    Anyway, I guess I’m from the “it’s all good” school. Too many years of seeing what jadedness does on RMP and the Green board and just so happy to see the post-Coventry redemption of my favourite band continue.

    Long live Phish.

  11. thedayman Says:

    Soooo last night was amazing. In every sense of the word. Blossom is an incredible venue. These last 2 days on tour have been great, wish I could hit cinci, but honestly phish left me more than satisfied after dte. Last night was just icing on the delicious cake. Have a great day pholks!

  12. vegas wolfmans Says:

    “like light crystals of tone dancing around playfully in pure harmony in the most peaceful way.”
    “it’s hard to describe, but it’s like a gentle high pitch short note interplay that is pure psychedelia.”

    @buried alive- I know EXACTLY what you’re talking about, but have been unable to describe it. It’s like repeating, short note bursts in succession used to paint a larger canvas. At first it seemed like they were using it to buy time and wait for a new theme to develop, but I think now it is something more than that and is used to push the jam. Seems to be present in most of these larger odysseys- starting sometime last summer. Glad you mentioned that. Thought maybe I was crazy.

    This sneakin’ is not helping me get back to sleep. Kick ass.

  13. Andrew Says:

    For sure Buried Alive sf – crystalline is a great way to describe it. Some times it feels like it’s going to break through and the entire overmind is going to permanently reside in our headspace. Beautiful stuff and it makes me wonder just how clean they can really go. Big props to the crowds for sharing the space and helping these jams along.

  14. kayatosh Says:

    morning yall.

    got the taylor C aud. from last night on the iaudio and about to spin it proper.

    rocket in my pocket! nice curveball

    This has been (and will continue to be) a notable month for phsih.


  15. Fly Says:

    Mornin’ Kaya, and BB.

    “Steam” bodes so well. As AW says, the happy happy joy joy era has receded, and Phish is ready to reenter the world of fantastic psychedelia, of luscious, “crystalline” (love it) soundscapes and dark, explorative melodic perambulation.

    Phish is back to showing, not telling. Trey’s recovery seems complete. Really, this is the triumph of art and the human spirit coalesced as one and manifested in Phish psychedelia, once again calling the primal fabric of our subconscious forward for musical engagement and celebration – the essence of tension and release.

    And this comes after only streaming Steam on the LivePhish applet twice!

  16. kayatosh Says:

    preliminary spin of sally — $$$.

    gets much darker and exploratory than the 1.1.2011 groove based version.

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