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. BrandonKayda Says:

    Well I mean hate isn’t the opposite of love. It is just the same feeling being released in a different way. The worst thing is complacency.

  2. William H. Bonney Says:

    this guys are amazing check’em out……..

  3. BrandonKayda Says:

    bottom paged:


    Well I mean hate isn’t the opposite of love. It is just the same feeling being released in a different way. The worst thing is complacency.

  4. GhostPhunk Says:

    Each moment comes down to two choices, view through the eyes of love or through the eyes of fear. For me, being on tour is like having Love Contacts surgically implanted on my eyes. I have to be careful sometimes and remind myself that not everyone is in that realm with me and there’s potential to be taken advantage of. Only through time have I been able to get a good feel for what’s what.

    That said, I totally understand having difficulty sustaining the vibe when the real world comes knocking. Last summer I shared CMAC with a close friend (his first show), KWL, jdub and a few others. I had to leave so early that next morning… the emotion I had when I looked at my phamily sleeping in the hotel room was enough to carry me into the world that day. That’s the stuff that makes all this worth while.

    I wish I could make a cohesive post. I just really have a lot to say and typing gets in the way sometimes. Anyway… so yeah love…. it’s alright.

  5. GhostPhunk Says:


    I dig it. Having a hard time expanding on it though…

  6. BrandonKayda Says:

    That’s beautiful @Ghost. I totally know what you’re talking about, but I feel like I’m the latter example too much of the time. Should work on that.

  7. Sillywilly Says:

    One thing I’ve found I can hang my hat on is I just feel better being compassionate

    What gets really crazy is when you realize that being compassionate is easiest for you, ttheres an element of selfishness in that compassion

    You’re being compassionate for yourself

    Its like an explosion in your heart that can only be solved by witnessing compassion in others to remind yourself that you’re not crazy

  8. JeffieM Says:

    My DTE torrent just finished at the same time that I got 3 stars on an angry bird level. I just one being a nerd right?

    and to go with the topic of conversation… i’m very excited to meet a bunch of BBers at MPP. BK, do you know if there are any meet up plans?

  9. JeffieM Says:

    just won*

  10. Sillywilly Says:

    Great post, Ghost

    You’re going to be a great father with insights like that.

    Glad I got to meet you at AC, man

  11. GhostPhunk Says:

    love and compassion definitely feels good. Silly, the idea of the self is a bad idea to begin with right? sooooooo where does that leave ‘you’?

  12. GhostPhunk Says:

    Thanks Silly, that’s awfully nice to read bro. Nice meeting you too.

  13. BrandonKayda Says:

    Since you’ve brought this up Ghost, I actually have something I want to say…

    I feel like, with Phish and this whole “group mind” thing we talk about sometimes, it seems like all of us are just living in this one consciousness and each is experiencing it subjectively. Like an ocean of water or a fog or something similar…our souls can all be linked for that moment in time, however fleeting it is. But I feel like *that* feeling is what love is. If people can project this energy more often, (like Pronoia) I feel like things could be beautiful all of the time. That is where happiness lies, it’s just a matter of if you take it or not.

  14. dognamedwilson Says:

    “Each moment comes down to two choices, view through the eyes of love or through the eyes of fear…That said, I totally understand having difficulty sustaining the vibe when the real world comes knocking.”-GhostPhunk

    ^very well said. I’ve always thought most decisions come down to Guilt v. Fear. I think this is what youre talking about @silly

  15. Sillywilly Says:


    “The idea of the self is a bad idea to begin with right?”


    If there was one thing I could accomplish in life it would be the muting of I in my mind. Even if I could routinely hush it up…

    If that makes sense

  16. dognamedwilson Says:

    Godammit that was poorly worded but i think the sentiment is there.

  17. BrandonKayda Says:

    It isn’t the “self” that’s bad – that’s the pure part of you. It’s the ego, the “I”, that can be kind of destructive. Once you disconnect your personal thoughts from your surroundings, you can just reflect a sort of light on all of your experiences, without projecting any subconscious worries or other feelings onto it. Mr C has talked about this before. You Are Not Your Mind, that whole thing.

    But here I am talking about it and I am nowhere near at one with everything, so go figure. Self-actualization definitely takes work and time.

  18. BingosBrother Says:

    You Enjoy My Self

  19. BrandonKayda Says:

    Basically the “I” just attaches itself to whatever you pronounce yourself as – this is why you can have constant worries and stresses, etc. Thought can be a dangerous thing.

  20. BrandonKayda Says:

    (insert typical self-deprecating post here)

  21. Sillywilly Says:

    I’m reading this novel by Saul Bellow called Henderson, The Rain King

    I kind of have some issues with it (its got some glaring post colonial) but all in all its a good read

    Anyway, one of the main characters defines True love as that appreciation of the other after and only after fear of the other is overcome

    I think that applies more to romantic love maybe…but it rings true for other forms of love.

    Our egos are afraid of other egos out of the simple fact that they’re different and incomprehensible

    But then when we recognize and appreciate the other for his or her splendor and beauty then we have love

  22. JeffieM Says:

    “If there was one thing I could accomplish in life it would be the muting of I in my mind. Even if I could routinely hush it up…”

    What do you mean here by ‘self’ is it some part of you, or the wholly encapsulated you?

    I understand the desire to hush up a part of you that distracts from an entire human project. As a rational entity, there is really no reason to prefer pleasure for oneself. As a purely selfish, sentimental entity, though, I can not value your pleasure or joy independent of myself. As connected as humans can be, we are at the end of the day, totally limited and isolated from each other.

  23. BrandonKayda Says:

    Well spoken @Silly.

  24. GhostPhunk Says:


    wow bro, that’s the stuff right there. My favorite convo bar none. I’m of the idea the human experience presents us the ultimate illusion… that we are somehow separate from “god”. Call God whatever you want, it doesn’t matter. Where I see it a bit different from your post is only in the “beautiful all the time”. This experience is feels like it’s supposed to be multifaceted. I feel like some things are more easily discovered through experiences that may not be described as beautiful and therefor a necessity for the greater experience.

    So those moments your talking about are so special in this moment because of how we engage, interact and process them NOW. For me, the moments are not far off the moments I have while playing music. When I play, that is my communion, my church, my prayer, etc… I feel it just the same through this band… to be quite honest, you just pulled out of me probably the best response I could give to the question “So, why do you like Phish?”

    Man, I need a beer….

  25. Sillywilly Says:

    @dognamed wilson

    I think you were right on

    I definitely struggle with guilt. Guilt dominates me sometimes.

    Irish/german Catholic background…

    That’s why its so hopeful to read about all the parents on the board. There’s some children with parents on this board who are going to be allowed such an authentic existence full of acceptance

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