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. goat Says:

    hoodstream looks pretty bleak…

  2. BrandonKayda Says:

    Definitely @Ramblin

    Bitching about a show I’m not at is serious business, ya know.

  3. sumodie Says:

    so will this be THE tweezer…? (I’m not even trying to listen in tonight)

  4. DukeOfLizards Says:


    For those keeping score at home, we now are one >Horse short of the Cu$ty $egue Triple Crown.

  5. DukeOfLizards Says:

    By the way, it’s cool for me to use the word “cu$ty.” I have a lot of really good friends who are cu$ties.

  6. sumodie Says:

    or THE free?

  7. DukeOfLizards Says:


    Let’s all say a quick Kung and hope so. Trey dropping those two bars of wah wah at MSG was such a dickhead move.

  8. BrandonKayda Says:

    They’re never going to jam on Free again.

    (Just set myself up to be proven wrong)

  9. sumodie Says:

    ok, free is def not FREE tonight…

  10. Sillywilly Says:


    Bethels coming back to haunt me. Wouldn’t trade it for the world though

    Didn’t pay either of my two rents yet….Landlord 1 just called: Yo where’s my money!?



  11. BrandonKayda Says:

    Well, I mean, you know, um, Crosseyed’s fine too, I guess…

  12. BrandonKayda Says:

    Oh shit @Silly.

    Sorry to hear about rent troubles. Hoping the best for you man.

  13. RamblinMinD Says:

    I was hoping they’d hold Crosseyed for Great Woods…

    Killer setlist so far though

  14. bob dylan Says:

    Geez this show looks nasteeeee

    Buddy is texting from the show. Approved.

  15. bob dylan Says:


  16. kayatosh Says:

    crosseyed? wow! 2nd of tour, 3rd of 2011, and 8th of 3.0 (after a total of only 10 times prior).

  17. Sillywilly Says:


    No no, man

    Its not real serious. My dad is helping me out. And I should have a small stipend coming soon.

    I was definitely trying to experiment. See how long it takes before I got called out by the landlords.

    5 days, apparently.

  18. bob dylan Says:

    Can’t you use some legal way out?

  19. DukeOfLizards Says:


  20. bob dylan Says:

    Shit silly. NYC is lax. My landlord doesn’t even charge me a late fee til the 10th. My roommate turns it in. I usually space writing the check til the 8th

  21. Fly Says:

    GW getting riper for a Joyous extravaganza

  22. bob dylan Says:

    Now light? Shits redonk

  23. BrandonKayda Says:

    Ha, nice @Duke.

    I’m always hearing voices on the street, I want to shout but I can hardly speak…

  24. Sillywilly Says:


    Seems like this new landlord is gonna be a pain

    He’s a cop.

    I didn’t tell him where I work yet. But he’s gonna find out on the credit app I guess.

    there’s a weird sense of freedom when you really just can’t make the payment. Its like the grin and shrug with: I spent my money on something wayyyy better than anything you’ll ever experience: Phish.

  25. Oldskool Says:

    Hey guys, been awhile. Hope all is well.

    Setlist looks incredible tonight but a few texts makes me think things are very rushed and looking better on paper. I hope that is wrong because it would be tough to craft a better setlist than this.

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