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. sumodie Says:

    @butter: excellent! now you’ve only got 51 PH videos to capture

    well, I suppose the tour announcements don’t count…

  2. butter Says:

    zero debate from me about best jam of 3.0


    it doesn’t make any of the other jams less good or real

  3. kayatosh Says:

    can’t get over how dense and dirty these tubes (5.31 and 6.4) have been — $$.

    sand gets a $+. they could drop a big one tonight. maybe blowout a gumbo. and where’s that party time?

  4. sumodie Says:

    Possum is the show vid?

    suppose Phish Inc may not be able to upload Sally for free -yup, no cover tunes are on vimeo

  5. Foul_Domain Says:

    hhmm…never thought about that @sumodie. But come to think of it, there arent any covers.

    and I was hoping Sally would be next. guess not.

  6. Foul_Domain Says:

    oh well, back to the disease.

    I love “that look” on Trey’s face that was so rare in ’09. The look that suggests his brain in on pause, and music is taking over his body. Love it!

  7. voopa Says:

    Butter- cool. DLH has been wonky on occasion w/me too on Vimeo, good to see that there’s a better add on. Thanks sumo, I’ll check that when I get home.

  8. Lycanthropist Says:

    didnt they release that Swept Away > Drowned combo last year?

  9. Foul_Domain Says:

    Weird – at 8:45 on the disease vid, Page turns toward the camera and says something – to the camera?? (right after Trey plays a couple bad notes).

  10. Mr palmer Says:

    Just tail end of drowned jam, then into swept away. Wasn’t labeled as drowned.

  11. Lycanthropist Says:


  12. sumodie Says:

    Saratoga No Royalty Jam #2>Swept Away>Steep

    of course, Drowned preceded that

  13. Foul_Domain Says:

    yeah, it was labelled saratoga jam

  14. Foul_Domain Says:

    no royalty jam has a nice ring too

  15. Foul_Domain Says:

    Niagara Falls vacation commencing tomorrow.

    Phish on Wed.

    Wife is slightly annoyed by all the Bethel and DTE sounds in the house as of late. Funny thing, after I grabbed the DTE sbds, I talked up the Disease before I played it for her. About 15 min in, she says “Its sounds like every other time Ive heard this song.”

    Shes not coming to darien with me next week.

  16. YborCity Says:

    @Foul_Domain — hahahaha! I play and talk Phish in the car with my little sister when we head back to college in the Fall, etc. and she says the same thing. “I get that they’re playing something different, it just sounds the same”

  17. Mr. Palmer Says:

    Surprised the didn’t release Steam as the video. Possum…

  18. Foul_Domain Says:

    some people..

  19. [Not Tom] Marshall Says:

    All Phish songs DO sound the same.

    That’s right. I said it.

  20. Cable Hogue Says:

    regarding Vimeo and the no-royalties jams….they also did the tail end of Boogie On>Piper from Telluride…so it does seem like covers are out for the Vimeo stuff.

  21. Mr. Palmer Says:

    Phish loves Cincy. Tonight should go huge. I love it when Miner predicts the band is going to throw down. He’s right a lot more than he’s not when he comes out and says something like that.

    A Song I Heard tonight, or a Scents.

    I think we get a Pebbles and Marbles or Walls also. Some Round Room material.

  22. [Not Tom] Says:

    ^ Phish loves midwestern towns that are losing population. Makes them feel like they are in Philly.

  23. Mr. Palmer Says:

    You getting those 4 southern shows in, NTM?

  24. Foul_Domain Says:

    Cincy Scents

  25. [Not Tom] Says:

    @ Palmer – Alphy (x2) + CLT. Raleigh is a maybe at this point.

Leave a Reply