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. DukeOfLizards Says:

    Also, reason #413 to pimp DTE: I LOVE when they just crash into Cavern at the end of a peak like they did that night. That’s how it should be done.

  2. Guyute711 Says:

    I needed it Mr P, I may not be able to get off tour now. My problem right there… or is it?

  3. DukeOfLizards Says:


    If Palmer doesn’t end up going, I may be in the market for a Saturday.

    Are the loges really that bad at MPP? My only experience in the pav down there was from right behind the tapers, which was $$$.

  4. Mr. Palmer Says:

    jtran-i’ll know by tuesday. i won’t keep you waiting

  5. jtran Says:

    Sorry to be a tease guys. My friend from hs decided to do mpp1 just now and id told him he could have the ticket if he was going

    Sunday is up for grabs though

  6. Mr. Palmer Says:

    no worries jtran.

  7. ThePigSong Says:

    Why can’t Phish play all their shows I don’t hit in the middle of winter hibernation time. I can’t keep up during these long summer daze.

  8. ThePigSong Says:

    Also hood to know about the firefox downloader, excited to grab all these and rock out on a few long flights this week.

  9. Mr.Miner Says:

    i hate being in the middle f juvenile shit, especially amidst Phish tour, but this board is not a place for fighting and insults. El Dude, can’t be having that and you have been warned a number of times….Sorry, put you gotta pay the piper. We have out second wax banks here…but…el dude, youve been a part of this community for a long time, so this will be a temporary waxing until the end of tour. Sorry, but it is what it is. Thanks y’all. lets keep it on the up and up…

  10. monsterpus Says:

    I’m listening to the Sally now. wow! So now Trey’s dressing casual, rocking the plaid, and the jams go big. Coincidence? I think not. Can’t wait for the end of tour when he’s wearing the Marvin the Martian tee.

  11. thedayman Says:

    just threw on steam,,, oh yeah i remember this last night. boogied down so hard to this song.

  12. Mr.Miner Says:

    Sunday night shaping up to be a big one…

  13. gavinsdad Says:

    There is something to the plaid. I can attest. (tho Pnc nite 1 was actually seersucker)

  14. thedayman Says:

    oh yeah, miner. its gonna be a blowout. wish i didnt have to bow out for the midwest finale, but i had such a blast in michigan and ohio. have a great one bb!

  15. frottage Says:

    “We have out second w a x b a n k s here”

    there can be only one
    i suggest some kind of trivia contest e.g. geography bee or karaoke

    listening right this instant to 6/29/10 meatstick>saw it again>fuckingPIPER
    it is butter and it is gold
    golden butter tastes

  16. Beantownboy Says:

    Miner thanks for the write ups the past few nights which have done these great jams justice. But I bet you’re going to be running out of superlatives soon if they keep up this jamming.

  17. ThePigSong Says:

    Aborted the first attempt of a listen. DTease take two

  18. kayatosh Says:

    I am pumped for tonight, even from afar. past 2 nights have my expectations elevated.

    great reviews, miner. and nice w a x ing.

  19. butter Says:

    just drove by a store in downtown SF called:

    “a Miner miracle store”

  20. RamblinMind Says:

    @kaya – bane all the time and then a quarter cup of coffee is a rare indulgence? you must be the most chilled out guy alive. i can go through a whole pot at work.

    I hope the trend of first set goodness continues…First set Sands, RnR, exploratory KDF or Chalkdust, Citis and Halley’s, huge Gin….gotta admit first sets were getting a little stale for me in ’10. A lot of times Ocelot felt like the biggest dip in the first set, or maybe a set-closing Antelope. Gotta stay on your toes now!

  21. Mr.Miner Says:

    with new w a x ing, running into a few moderation snafus. I think i worked them out, but if your post gets caught up. my apologies. I think we shoudl be fine though.

  22. Mr.Miner Says:

    you can still say dude.

  23. Mr.Miner Says:


  24. kayatosh Says:

    miner: thanks for what you do. This pace has elevated my love of phish and provided a community of wonderful people wiht which to share this love. this is no small feat.

    re. the w a x ing — your hand was forced and you took decisive action. no brainer. you’re a fair and equitable sheriff.

  25. ThePigSong Says:


    There is zero debate this disease is best jam of 3.0, right?

    Talk about touring the cosmos! Perfect! Landing! In! Fluffhead!

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