Blowing Off Steam

6.4.11 -Blossom (Michael Stein)

Phish followed up their Friday night vision quest with a fire-filled, song-based affair that took a little while to truly get interesting. Until Phish debuted their newest song, “Steam,” as the third song of the second set, the band had played with precision and fire, but their song selection felt haphazard and the show had yet to elevate. But from his point on, however, the band flowed quite well for the he rest of the set and encore, crafting an engaging latter part of the night.

Official Blossom Print (DKNG)

The band began the second half with the now-elusive “Birds of a Feather,” and when it came off the shelf as a second-set opener amidst Summer 2011, many felt like we would be in for a ride. But as the band tore through standard “Birds” territory, an exploration wasn’t to be. Instead, Phish decided to drop the second, second-set “Possum” of this young tour, a decision that made a discernible bump in the flow of the show. The band, however, attacked “Possum” in a spunkier than usual outing which saw the band vocally toy with the song’s ending—one of several examples of light-hearted musical fun laced throughout the night. After “Possum,” it sounded like Trey might rev up “Seven Below,” but instead the band debuted “Steam”—a soon to be crowd favorite—in the middle of the set. A song whose lyrical verses climax with the word—and musical imitation of—steam, immediately jumped off the stage. An sparse and infectious groove that sounds like it could be a Little Feat outtake from “Waiting For Columbus,” Phish’s newest tune moves at a menacing pace and could become a centerpiece jam before the summer is out. Highly danceable and with a chunky bass pattern and interesting lyrics, the band hit a winner with “Steam’s” debut, and as the song dripped into “Piper,” Phish crafted in the first cohesive musical combo of the night.

6.4.11 (M.Stein)

When “Piper” launched, the band only briefly remained at a breakneck pace before veering away from conventional realms and into a melodic, whole-band ambient jam. It was a pleasure to see “Piper” move away from its routine, high-octane path and into something more experimental and patient. Using this jam to weave an artistic segue into “Lizards,” Phish took out the “Gamehendge” piece for the first time of the summer. But the atomic bomb of the night came next, out of left field, in the form of “Sneaking Sally.” Following the song’s vocal jam, Phish turned this version into an exercise in hyper-funk as Mike and Fish held down a tight pocket for Page, and especially Trey, to go ballistic. Weaving together crack-like lines, Trey and Page strutted out front in this four-part conversation that soon transcended the cover into an all-out throwdown. After the band touched on “Manteca’s” textures briefly, Trey began to play effected and “delayed” notes, signifying that things were about to get far more abstract. Building the jam with dissonance and effects, the band was soon amidst a grungy experiment with Fish holding down the rhythm behind the bubbling psychedelic brew. Growing in scope of sound, the band then left the groove behind for a beatless, extra-terrestrial plane that was broken with the opening dumroll to “Harry Hood.”

6.4.11 (M.Stein)

As the band flowed naturally through the opening part of the jam and were navigating gorgeous version of the classic song, Trey decided they were going to play “Have Mercy,” and pushed the band into a quasi-forced transition. My mind immediately shot back to Utica, thinking what it might sound like to hear the band jam “Have Mercy” back into “Hood,” but it wasn’t to be. As they finished the song, the band collectively dissolved right back into “Hood”—an interlude seemingly executed for setlist purposes more than natural jamming. But in the final stages of “Hood,” Trey wove in sublime “Have Mercy” lines to his melodic climb as he and the band played through an intricate final section and peak of the jam.

Phish finalized the night with a crunching “Character Zero” to close the set and a particularly delicate “Slave” that made rare encore appearance. Beginning with “Steam,” the band turned on their creative juices just in time to avoid another night of pure safety, and when they did—like most everything they attempt these days—they succeeded. Coming off a show so heavily-drenched in cosmic improv in Detroit, this one carried the feeling of a well-played Phish concert rather than a journey into center of the earth. But as Cincy awaits, something tells me Sunday night might be a different story…see you in a few hours….

First Set Notes: The opening frame saw several songs taken off the shelf for the first time this tour, including the first rendition of Little Feat’s “Rocket in My Pocket” since Atlantic City’s Halloween extravaganza. The song was played a part of an Americana-based triumvirate with “Ocelot” and “Back on the Train.” The grooves came out a bit in return to Page’s house in “Tube” and a legitimate “Antelope” to punctuate the set. But all in all, the first stanza, though tight, fun and played with the quality of the band’s current chops, amounted to a bunch songs that carried little flow or cohesion.

I: Kill Devil Falls, Guyute, Fuck Your Face, Foam, Ocelot, Rocket in My Pocket, Back on the Train, Guelah Papyrus, Tube, Run Like an Antelope

II: Birds of a Feather, Possum, Steam* > Piper -> The Lizards, Sneakin’ Sally through the Alley > Harry Hood -> Have Mercy -> Harry Hood, Character Zero

E: Slave to the Traffic Light



615 Responses to “Blowing Off Steam”

  1. bigjig Says:

    wow im gonna fluff that second set. fire. fact. now im gonna go win a million at the casino.

  2. bigjig Says:

    not to take away from your deep thoughts tonight. Keep at it, and maybe we can figure this thing called life out!!

  3. BrandonKayda Says:

    Word of the day: Pronoia.

  4. Robear Says:

    BK, just explained that term to the team yesterday! We experienced pronoia several times.

  5. BrandonKayda Says:

    Then there are always some people who will live continually struggling and may not ever realize some of these things. It makes me sad really, but you can’t help everybody no matter how much you want to.

  6. BrandonKayda Says:

    urn off your mind, relax
    and float down stream
    It is not dying
    It is not dying

    Lay down all thought
    Surrender to the void
    It is shining
    It is shining

    That you may see
    The meaning of within
    It is being
    It is being

    That love is all
    And love is everyone
    It is knowing
    It is knowing

    That ignorance and hate
    May mourn the dead
    It is believing
    It is believing

    But listen to the
    color of your dreams
    It is not living
    It is not living

    Or play the game
    existence to the end
    Of the beginning
    Of the beginning

  7. snowbank Says:

    Lovin the convo.

    BB always wins.

  8. Robear Says:

    Phone being repo’d from Robear.

  9. voopa Says:


  10. BrandonKayda Says:

    Ah, skepticism. There you are. Come again so soon.

  11. redredworm Says:

    just got back from the show- pretty disappointed after hearing the previous two nights. 1st set standard 3.0 fare with a well played mound. 2nd set is pnc2 all over again, no patience from trey. each song started up and i hoped for a jam, but alas. shortest c+p ever? tweezer jam was the brief highlight. mike and fish really fought trey’s premature segue into light, but he forced it. hope this becomes less frequent as tour goes on. night all.

  12. Mike in Austin Says:

    Sad to see the end of this run for me, but had a great time. Tonight was a fun show. Not to be analyzed for it’s position in the Canon of Phish, but worthy of having attended.

    Nice to meet some of you guys!

    See ya from H-bowl to UIC.

  13. bigjig Says:

    ok. winning million dollars. fiction. had a fun time acting like I was in my twenties again. fact. see u all in Georgia, gots to go back to work. boo

  14. WVgitfiddler Says:

    I feel the 1st set hasnt gotten the credit it deserves so::: The first set was also great KDF opener was okay. Should’ve opened to foam though. The early guyute let us all know the night was going to be full of dark jams. F your face was short but there was a small segue into foam that hasn’t been noted, but if you listen to the end of f your face you can hear treys ambient texture spinning through the atmosphere as mikes slapping foam intro begins. The foam jam was excellent and set the mood for the first set. Ocelot was well played and the jam centered around the ocelot theme. A bustout rocket was well executed as well. Back on the train was somewhat conservative but, did have a jam simiar to the album jam. Guelah papyrus was as fun as ever. The tube jam felt like it was over 6 minutes, and full of funk; Page killed it! The beginning of antelop was amazing but, had a sloppy transfer that the band juggled back and forth for about 10 seconds. Now the second set—pure fire!

  15. Diron Baker Says:

    oh boy- here goes:

    So I’m a show behind …but let me see if I can creatively express my frustration regarding the Thoughts on the last 2 Phish shows (6.03 and 6.04)…
    The 6.03 show is a great show, but the presentation of shows being either completely spectacular or average to mundane truly troubles me. I think the second set of the 6.04 show is actually a better set than second set of the 6.03 show (the reverse being true for the first set), starting the second they play Rocket in My Pocket- followed by outstanding versions of Possum, Sneakin’ Sally, Harry Hood and culminating with Slave. Steam is an excellent song and I hope to hear it in person …one of the best 3.0 offerings to date.

    I think Phish set a nice baseline in NY and has continued with a well thought out tour with splattering of all the key components of classic Phish. This is a dramatic improvement from anything post 1999, and in that sense, we are witnessing a rebirth. When the bar is set at 2004, it’s easy to obtain, but set the tour against 1996 or 1997 and realize that pinnacles of careers don’t come along every other day, and they can’t be rushed or forced.

    Believe me, 6.03.11 with 6.04.11 is a welcome component and I do agree that it may just possibly be the first sighting of the new now, but the consistency and frequency will need to increase for all aspects of the essence of Phish (described below) to the level of night-in and night-out excellence to truly crown this as a pinnacle moment. It’s the magnitude of polar exaggeration, along with the instant internet coronation of another monumental era that troubles me.

    While the spectacularly glowing review is probably a better example of the quality of the ecstasy as opposed to the magnitude of what went down with the DWD, the underlying problem has not yet been completely solved- this does not happen on a regular enough basis to crown 2011 the best year ever… not even close (not yet). The tour is after all, only 8 shows old. Furthermore, simply searching for and grading the Type 2 experience is one dimensional and should not be the only scale to gauge Phish by.

    Solely gauging the night’s performance on improvisational substance, without giving equal appreciation to other aspects, disregards the full essence of Phish. The essence of Phish is the Makisupa playfulness, the No Quarter bust out, the Steam debut, and the jams of DWD (6.03) as well as the Sneakin’ Sally (6.04) …along with the travel, the friends, the lot, and of course the lights! All exemplified only in the light of 6.03 WITH 6.04. And let me say- It’s fantastic to see all of the components coming together in 2011 (minus the special guests still).

    But, I think, these over-the-top rants lend themselves to a less rounded fan base- in fact- they lead the majority of followers into a single mindset contained in a bubble. The whole of the experience (the essence) is an exceptionally well done song-based show, with an existential space jam, nice smooth transitions, and once in a lifetime “you-have-to-be-there” type experiences (offered with bust-outs and Henrietta appearances and occasionally as witnessed earlier- in Makisupa.) To simply gauge Phish on one of these criteria alone is not fair to your readers or those that experience less frequent shows and turn to Mr. Minor for objective reviews.

    Make no mistake, I feel good about the state of Phish having listened to all of the shows from Summer 2011. Better in fact than I did after the end of this year’s NYE run and better still than I did after Summer 2010. But let this develop at its own pace, and if there’s a setlist driven show, or one that lacks “improvisational substance,” critique it in the full essence of Phish, instead of this one dimensional standard.

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