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. Ghostface Says:

    I know it’s not Miner’s improv cup-of-tea, but in the “song based affair” part of the show Miner needs to remember that just because a song isn’t taken for a ride, doesn’t mean it isn’t an integral part of the “Phish experience’. Just my opinion, but the Foam and Fuck Your Face (while obviously not improv based tracks) are what make Phish shows so great. Of course the Sally is the sickness, but I love hearing those types of songs, or watching Trey and Mike giggle like school girls during their Papyrus dance.

  2. YborCity Says:

    Goddammit I love tour season

  3. Beantownboy Says:

    Good lord the Sally jam is akin to the Mothership having landed on stage and preparing for liftoff.

    Is Blossom still standing this morning?

  4. Robear Says:

    Last nights show a bit under the radar already! Really dynamite night. Deep little passages of music. Check the ‘Playin in the band’ style slow jam out of ‘Piper’.
    ‘Birds’ was tight and scintillating.
    How can they pack that much heat into a 5 minute ‘Tube’??

    Hood outro, Trey jammed on have mercy and the lizards. Took me back to Providence 94 Bowie for a second.

  5. Mr. Palmer Says:

    stop taking offense to the term ” song based affair”. Its not a personal attack on your show experience. Everyone loves this band for different reasons.

  6. buried alive sf Says:

    the key to a good offense is a good defence

  7. Robear Says:

    Amazing thing about Phish these days: they want us ALL at EVERY show. And if you can’t make it, they’ve provided several inexpensive ways to hear the sbd and share the magic in really short time


  8. Beantownboy Says:

    @ Robear

    Stoked that you could catch these hometown shows.
    Are you going to be at GW by chance?

    If so, I would finally like to put a face to a name after all these years.

  9. Robear Says:

    Guyute711= on tour.

  10. KfL Says:

    jaded vet? check
    fluffer? check
    snotty? check

    (i really cant wait for the first bad review. thats my favorite shit on this board)

  11. Robear Says:

    K-double, we miss you.

  12. Mr. Palmer Says:

    ^^ king of the flegionairres

  13. Fly Says:

    This site had gone to snot.

  14. Mr. Palmer Says:

    rob- hear anything in soundchecks last few nights of note?

  15. Robear Says:

    Kid duty on Tuesday. No northeast. Don’t miss the Camden ‘Ghost’

  16. Fly Says:

    Er, “has.”

  17. Fly Says:

    Can’t wait for Dr. Gable Returns at Mansfield!

  18. DukeOfLizards Says:

    “Song-based affair” is also a relative term. If something even like the Birds last night had dropped in ’09 or early ’10, I’m pretty positive people would be flipping out. Song-based sets can still smoke like fuck (sounds like this one did), it’s just a matter of how Phish wants to blow minds on a particular night.

    And shit, Little Phish is the most extreme version of a song-based set (by definition) that I can think of, and that’s one of my favorite sets of 3.0.

  19. KfL Says:

    if my car wasnt costing me millions i’d be giving you a hug right now

    glad to see the midwest is blowing up though

  20. Beantownboy Says:

    Later down the line then @ Robear. Colorado, perhaps?

  21. DukeOfLizards Says:


    You are a wonderful individual, but I’m gonna have to ask you (and everyone else) to stop jinxing the you-know-what for you-know-when ;).

    Yes, after last Wednesday, I am back to not saying the name.

  22. EL Duderino Says:

    Snotty to the north ^^^

  23. DukeOfLizards Says:

    This Possum is hysterical.


  24. EL Duderino Says:

    Cool kids to the south

    Oh shit I don’t have an arrow for that

  25. DukeOfLizards Says:




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