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. DukeOfLizards Says:


    Bite your tongue.

    Sorry our paths didn’t cross in Bethel btw. UIC it is.

  2. DukeOfLizards Says:


    No no – hence the period. I stand by the other calls, though.

    Good meeting you on Tuesday btw. I’m going to be cruising in under the wire on Friday (gotta make it down from work), but count me on the Jersey side in spirit in the hoagie cage match.

    Not that it’s even a contest.

  3. RamblinMinD Says:

    @BK – 1970 is probably my favorite year for the Dead. If you haven’t already, check out 5/2/70 Harpur College, which was released as Dick’s Picks 8. Got it my junior year of high school and it has been my favorite since

  4. Sillywilly Says:


    I can understand that feeling. I think there really is a deep mental connection between some people and their surroundings

    I guess OCD people are an extreme example. But feng shui follows that logic too

    And what really struck me was the way I was complaining (doesn’t help the situation)

    And then then the way your story involved solving the problem

    I don’t know, but you’re good at doing the right things/good things, gavinsdad. Its like a habit for you. And its awesome

  5. gavinsdad Says:

    (heat win)

  6. BrandonKayda Says:

    Yeah I wish I could be like that @Silly, haha.

    I’ll have to check that out sometime @gavins, thanks.

  7. Sillywilly Says:


    That was my bad, man.

    I just kind of floated at Bethel. And didn’t make it to WW as much as I should have

    And I do mean that sincerely. I feel like I’m missing out not meeting kids from tthe board.

    UIC for sure. Well have to grab beers or food or something preshow one afternoon

  8. gavinsdad Says:

    @duke – see ya at WW on fri. And back of the floor at UIC. And I’m really only playing on the sandwich thing but if someone ends up liking wegmans better they can’t ever visit my house again.

    @silly – man one day u gotta catch me doing my “I’m a shitty impatient parent” routine. Will balance out your perception of me 😉 seriously tho…keep an open mind wherever you are. Might be a few things to learn there in your new digs.

  9. JeffieM Says:

    Phish plays YEM. Troops move out of the capital of Yemen. Coincidence?

    Great looking list tonight. Can’t wait to dig into the jamz from this weekend.

  10. Sillywilly Says:


    You’re on your way.

    I’ve been sitting on a feeling for a year or so as I’ve got to spend more time with kids from the board

    Its hard to describe but its close to the pronaic feeling Dr. Pro explained when he chose the name.

    Its a feeling I get from associating with people from this place. Its the way the kindness, friendliness, savvy, love of live music, general compassion, senses of humor, various skills, talents, interests, and backgrounds all add up to one thing:

    Basic goodness.

    I don’t know whether to explain it in terms of Phish: just like phish has a deep connection with eachother and they cooperate to create the beauty we experience at a show, the kids on this site work together and add themselves to this big mix that brings so much fun

    But maybe its not Phish because I feel like everyone here shows the same qualities outside of the phish world.

    Lots of people are nice. But the kids on this site are nice with a knowledge of the whole.

  11. cal Says:

    A few good jams tonight, several awkward, forced transitions and missed opportunities. Kinda TABby overall. Sundays are skip shows.

    But if this is subpar, sign me up for life.

  12. cal Says:

    P.s. g’mite folks. UICbitches.

  13. GhostPhunk Says:

    I don’t think the band has played a “skip show” in 2011

  14. BrandonKayda Says:

    Well put @Silly.

  15. Sillywilly Says:

    The kids on this site are kind because they KNOW their kindness is real and tangible and can be felt by all of us.

    Wow. I might be crazy or sentimental (is there a difference?)

    But I know that the kindness around here means SOMETHING. Adds something to my life. To our lives.

    Its a crazy project. And its working

  16. BrandonKayda Says:

    I love the insight man.

    William Butler Yates wrote some beautiful poetry.

  17. Sillywilly Says:

    You’re right about the open mind, gavinsdad

    I think often that people who make fun of others in a mean way often have some fear within themselves

    And that’s probably where I am. I’m anxious about this summer. And I’m projecting it onto my roommates. And that’s not fair.

  18. tela'smuff Says:

    i’ve been out enjoying life all day today and most of yesterday, and don’t have time to read back. is the general consensus that the DET Disease is the best jam of 3.0? It seems a no brainer, but just asking. 😉

  19. William H. Bonney Says:

    CGT doing a live broadcast right now…check it out if u like

    Bach piece starting up right now..

  20. GhostPhunk Says:

    “But maybe its not Phish because I feel like everyone here shows the same qualities outside of the phish world.”

    One can only hope the light extends throughout all facets of our lives and not just here.

    “Lots of people are nice. But the kids on this site are nice with a knowledge of the whole.”

    A conversation for the next time we hang out duder, there’s some serious meat to this statement.

  21. BrandonKayda Says:

    Yeah that’s definitely true @Silly. That’s what I always thought the whole “Hell is other people” Sartre quote was about: people aren’t secure with themselves fully, so they project their insecurities on other people.

  22. GhostPhunk Says:

    “I think often that people who make fun of others in a mean way often have some fear within themselves”

    I feel like they fear love itself… I do think it’s that simple. No matter what the initial fear revolves around to cause them to project something other than love to another individual I think the underlying end always comes back to love.

  23. Sillywilly Says:


    As long as you and KWL will let me chill with you, Ill be sure to pick up the convo

  24. BrandonKayda Says:

    Bach is great – he is the reason why certain sounds sound good to us musically – he used a lot of the same chord progressions/melodic consonances that eventually came imbedded in the consciousness of music listeners. It’s all really cool when you think about it: Indian ragas sound to them the same way that I-IV-V sounds to us.

    Have been reading on counterpoint melody and fugues. Interesting stuff, but this will be a while…

  25. William H. Bonney Says:


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