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. Andrew Says:

    Did someone lace my coffee?

  2. DukeOfLizards Says:

    Great writeup, Miner.

    So Trey… Loves Robear? This is so confusing.

  3. Corey Says:

    How involved was the Love Supreme stuff in Disease? Did they work on it for a bit or was it a quick hit, then off to another place? Was Cavern FINALLY extended? That tune needs another few minutes of rippin’ guitar as well.

    Here’s looking forward to Great Woods.

  4. jdub Says:

    The love supreme kind of melted into the jamming. Nothing blatantly done, but they kind of took the love supreme, love supreme melody and played with it once they discovered it. A very natural progression.

  5. albert walker Says:

    Still can’t believe the step up from fall

    That dwd destroyed my expectations of what 3.0 can bring

    Just disgusting full band interplay very unique to the era

    Fluff brought my love back for it. Perfect rendition to keep the room raging post disease


    Between this and bethel I am finally at peace with present day phish

    All my worries of 3.0 staying uninspired sing alongs have been destroyed

    Trey and the boys
    Killing it once again

  6. Robear Says:



    Disease = the rarest of rare jams:

    Shred>Jam>Funk/Ambient Break>slow build>second unique jam>end

  7. Sillywilly Says:


    Turn back the clock

    Do the rest of tour

  8. mrfergie Says:

    Morning All – so happy for everyone who was there last night. Spinning the Set II right now to start my day off right

  9. jdub Says:

    Fluff sounds so damn patient. Very impressive to hear them sit back and ease into it.

  10. nonoyolker Says:

    After 23 hrs of labor, my sister had a C section at 1:30am. The baby was just too big to be born naturally. Beyond words to be able to see and hold my new born nephew. Little Charlie, and mom, are happy and healthy!

    When I got back, I qued up the Dwd and listened as I drifted to sleep. It is a piece of art. Its complete, coherent, and emotive beyond description. It was a perfect cap to a very long day. I hope everyone in the D had a great, life affirming, trip to the cosmos. Can’t wait to spin back today

    Off to the hospital! Make it a good one

  11. Robear Says:


    come to the waterwheel booth tonight in Blossom! Share some of that love my man!!

  12. cal Says:

    I hate telling all my crew who stayed home about a show like last night. Rest assured, we are all getting soaked with hose this summer. No way last night was a fluke.

    Still floored.

  13. kayatosh Says:

    woke up to this great review and word of a jammed out set II. awesome!

    anyone have a DL code to share?

    marcwillner2 at comcast dot net

  14. Robear Says:

    crushed the ‘Tela’. Trey so fluid on the fast runs. Stunned.

    long jam in ‘Mikes’

  15. Beantownboy Says:

    Everyone should hit the last shows of summer in denver as that is when we’ll all climb in the space ship and blast off to the land of phish and leave this planet behind.

    Behold the future, which as Miner wrote, is now!

  16. gavinsdad Says:

    Great to hear. I Love it.

    CHONZ – thank you so much for that post. 11 more shows should set u up fOr life…ha….strange design no doubt.

    AW and others getting performances so strong there is nothing to do but give in and let go. How fucking great is that?

    Enjoy today and tonite, ESP you BTB festers

  17. mrfergie Says:

    Just finished the DWD, and wow. It’s unbelievable to hear the difference between fall and now

  18. sumodie Says:

    @beantownb: word to that. gotta nail down my CO travel plans this weekend. Finally dropped Phish Dicks on G and he’s interested.

    And G said YES to the Gorge -that’ll def melt him on all fronts. Now he just needs to finish that freakin phd thesis, ugh

    DWD is locked n loaded….time to step into the mindmeltmachine

  19. Beantownboy Says:

    Nice, Sumo!

    I just checked and the SW direct from Logan to Denver is still clocking in around $330 if you depart Sat. and return on Sun.

    Will I see you at Great Woods ala AC when I just turned around and there you were?

  20. Beantownboy Says:

    ^ check that, return on Monday.

  21. DaNcInG fOoL Says:

    next two nights can be awful and i won’t care after that.

  22. Mike in Austin Says:

    Great read Miner. I agree so much. Totally anthemic is what I thought leaving this gorgeous venue. Personally, I couldn’t have had a better concert experience as I was the row infront of CK in the pav, and it was practically empty for 12 seats across for most of the show. Lots of room to move, and the best sound in the house. I brought in earplugs and didn’t need them. Great great sound.

    I feel so lucky to have this as a first night of a 3 night run. Hopefully the DwD is the Vimeo highlight for us.

    As the first set had already hinted to, the earnestness and enthusiasm of everyone truly came together, with the band easily moving together with 3-4 distinct themes into a single jam. Even hints of the MSG Ghost. In the 20+ minutes of DwD there were no sleeper themes or passages in the jam where they are “finding” where to go to next. They knew. It’s a dense 23 minutes.

    The Mike’s is very worth hearing for sure and I’m sure Miner will write up on it, but as a thought, it’s been almost a full year since Hydrogen has graced us (6-22-10). Making the “common” seem more of a treat than ever before.

    On to Blossom, to see if they can lift the bar again.

  23. kayatosh Says:

    way to catch a great one, folks. glad they rectified their jam abortion tendencies from PNC 2.

  24. Luther T. Justice Says:

    BTB bound. Still can’t believe last night happened. I told you @Robert. Last night just seemed to be in the cards from the get go.

  25. Tenniru Says:

    I read this title, and having not yet seen the setlist, I assumed that Phish had adopted Mike’s solo track “Another Door” for his birthday. Sadly this wasn’t the case. Still, looking forward to listening to the tape!

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