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. Andrew Says:

    Dope looking set thus far.

    I’m usually content and patient before my run of shows comes along, but this stuff has me jonesin’ hard.

    Stoked for the Charlotte-Raleigh bit

    This set calls for an Split closer

  2. Mr. Palmer Says:

    My Morning Jacket from Mountain Jam

  3. kayatosh Says:

    oooooooo – reba!

  4. BingosBrother Says:

    @ant : I transcribed the STEAM lyrics this morning and posted them on page 10. Pretty accurate I think. Thought the same thing a la Dark Tower.

  5. Tom Says:

    Darn was hoping for Reba and Gin to fall to Mansfield.

  6. BingosBrother Says:

    The Natty Reba. Destiny.

  7. nonoyolker Says:

    Gawwwwtdammmit, was hoping they would save Reba for Greatwoods… Hope the Cinci crowd is basking in the blissful Reba-glow

  8. jdub Says:

    That’s alright Fly, we’ll get the Liquid Time debut at Great Woods.

  9. BingosBrother Says:

    Hope they timed it right between the darkness and the light. We shall see.

  10. Mr. Palmer Says:

    Lycan is a big Dark Tower head. Has he chimed in?

  11. Phamily Berzerker Says:



  12. jtran Says:

    Hot setlist

  13. BingosBrother Says:

    Any Stephen King fans who haven’t read his new stuff, check out Liseys Story. one of the best books ever written. straight up.

  14. BingosBrother Says:

    No stream PB. just Trey pissing in Natty’s ears. 😉

    I’m listening to DetroitWD on the drone. 1st time. I’m torqued bro.

  15. nonoyolker Says:

    Have to check that Bingos. Always liked his old stuff. Read Duma Key (new stuff) after not reading anything of his for over a decade. Gave it an indifferent “ehhh” rating. Def will check Liseys out though.

    Hot looking setlist, k’angfirmed

  16. BingosBrother Says:

    Reba*no whistling Do fans really wanna hear 4 white dudes whistle that bad?

    FEE* w/ megaphone

  17. nonoyolker Says:

    ambient fee outro get ->#LINED?

  18. RamblinMinD Says:

    BDTNL should not be the accepted nomenclature. Too close to Beat it On Down The Line.

  19. BrandonKayda Says:

    The way I see it is – cool that they even did anything out of Fee, and better have something #Lined in first set than say, PNC2 set II

  20. Fly Says:

    good #line placement

  21. BingosBrother Says:

    Yeah, Duma Key was alright. I found it more interesting to look at it from where he came from to get to that book. Seemed really personal and cathartic after his accident. All that pain and prolly having to kick some pretty nasty PK’s. Very autobiographical. Liseys Story is a psychedelic bender.

  22. Fly Says:

    not cool if #line keeps horsing jamz, tho…

  23. BingosBrother Says:

    No matter where you put #Line its always gonna be pretty jarring because of the way it comes at you in the beginning.

  24. GhostPhunk Says:

    @Ramblin …. TOTALLY agree.

  25. Fly Says:

    i’m hoping for lots of 3-5 minute Joy material at Mansfield, a Dr. Gable, and a 6 min Tweezer > The Horse

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