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. kayatosh Says:

    3rd outing for # line.

  2. Fly Says:

    Yeah, no getting around the beginning of Numberline.

    Happy happy joy joy’d

  3. RamblinMinD Says:

    surely Trey will feel the need to redeem himself for last year’s GW Gable. The GWable, as it’s now known in Phish lore

  4. nonoyolker Says:

    Good point Bingos, likely really therapeutic to write Duma. I actually liked the early portions of the book, but the supernatural ish started get really far fetched for me – though i know other readers loved the direction it took.

    If they are going to play a straight ahead rocker of a #line (like PNC2), then excellent placement. Finish the set strong.

    Mavs battled back nicely. – closed the half well. Dirk…is…heating…UP

  5. butter Says:

    On point Bk, lucky fee had anything

    Let’s not get greedy kids

    These are songs I LOVE rolling out

  6. kayatosh Says:

    1st taste lawnboy mound and fee of tour.

  7. Cable Hogue Says:

    I was thinking about the jarring beginning of number line and thought maybe something could be done arrangement-wise to soften the blow…like start with a run through the chorus (all my friends….).

    Think it is a fixable problem anyway. I like Number Line once it gets going, but that opening….ouch.

  8. kayatosh Says:

    and 1st reba of tour. cinci got a qual set I setlist.

  9. voopa Says:

    How we feelin’ tonight crew? Nice looking setlist…stream any good?

  10. phoammhead Says:

    Celebrated Mom & Dad’s 50th wedding anniversary this evening. A really awesome time with family! BEK is bummed she missed her mound.

  11. plord Says:

    jtran and plord home safe in Vt. Crazy jealous of those Cincy peeps. Now it’s time to sleep and chill for a day before getting back on the road 🙂

  12. BrandonKayda Says:

    Playing through the DTEase yet again – 12:30 is where it starts to get sick!

  13. nonoyolker Says:

    carini, tweezer – jeeze, this setlist is a cream dream

  14. BrandonKayda Says:

    Oh set II started?


  15. DukeOfLizards Says:

    What’s up kids?

    Carini, Tweezer to open the second set, not one bit of chatter. You’re better than that, couch tour ;).

  16. RamblinMinD Says:

    Did they cut Carini short again?

  17. BingosBrother Says:

    carini tweezer eh? reverse the curse type shit.

  18. DukeOfLizards Says:


    It would appear so.

    I will mention – not one minor>major key shift this year that I can think of (maybe the DTBowie), which I think is great. Some beautiful jams came out of that in fall ’10, but I thought it was kind of the easy way out as far as taking songs deep goes. This summer, they’re really exploring songs’ themes and, in the best of cases, driving them into the abyss.

  19. DukeOfLizards Says:

    Hah @bingos. Not to mention that they ended the FIRST set with #Line this time.

    The Horse is still VERY live though…

  20. DukeOfLizards Says:

    Any word on anything notable from set I?

  21. RamblinMinD Says:

    “Let’s get a sick groove going in Tweezer, and just when it’s getting good, I’ll >Horse the shit out of it. Then we can get baked and read blog comments about how nobody understands what’s going on in my head.” – Trey

  22. BrandonKayda Says:

    I thought YEMblog said Trey lays the Horse. But it didn’t. PHEW.

  23. Phamily Berzerker Says:

    What is the closest commerical airport to SBIX?

  24. RamblinMinD Says:

    BK – you were close to having the nerdiest heart attack ever

  25. goat Says:


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