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:

    Certainly. I mean of course to have a well-rounded experience you need to have an equal balance of dark and light in your life – but the beauty of it comes in realizing that everything leads to greater experience and wisdom in one way or another. So many people can be blissfully ignorant of even thinking in this way, and it’s nice to see people who aren’t

  2. BrandonKayda Says:


    We should totally meet up at MPP, if you want.

  3. BrandonKayda Says:

    Bottom paged:

    Certainly. I mean of course to have a well-rounded experience you need to have an equal balance of dark and light in your life – but the beauty of it comes in realizing that everything leads to greater experience and wisdom in one way or another. So many people can be blissfully ignorant of even thinking in this way, and it’s nice to see people who aren’t.

  4. BrandonKayda Says:

    For the record, these kinds of conversations I have on here with you all are infinitely better than the ones I usually have with people. Thank you for including me in the metaphysics convo.

  5. JeffieM Says:

    Bk, yeah, I’d be down.

    I think a friend and I are planning to sell beer and cigarettes since neither of us can really pay for the trip, so I’m not sure how my day is going to look. Definitely interested in meeting the young jedi of the BB.

  6. JeffieM Says:

    Very tempted to skip through to the DWD. going to do the first set of DTE tonight, though, and probably the rest tomorrow

  7. Sillywilly Says:


    I agree with you.

    Descartes got it right. And without some sort of faith, there is only our mind and the way we perceive others. Not that there isn’t a physical reality. There is. But, as humans we will never overcome our isolation without a belief in something greater.

    I don’t know if I can assign anything more to the great experiences of community at a Phish show than a simple human need for social experience. Capitalized ideas of Unity and Oneness are felt but have no essential existence in my mind. Ultimately, I think this is a better way to think about it because then it is each of us giving the moment its power and not a supernatural phenomenon informing the moment

    What’s so cool is the way we can use our minds to help ourselves

    And the great fortune in the fact that we can help eachother

    I really like that you’re pointing out that we cannot overcome the isolation because to me that’s important to an accurate description of our situation

    Why be accurate? Well, personally I just can’t think anything else

  8. BrandonKayda Says:

    Definitely @Silly. Humans need social interaction, and I think we need it for more than just the simple reasons like keeping company and having friends and all that. Everyone, all of us, can help in the big picture I think. Spiritual unity and all that – leads to self enlightenment and heightened wisdom and all that. It’s beautiful, it really is.

    I really wish I could keep this kind of romantic optimism more often. It comes and goes with cynicism and all that jazz. Isolation is definitely a killer.

  9. voopa Says:


  10. Robear Says:

    #amazing! @pummeled by psychedelic dance crack for
    5 days straight.

  11. Robear Says:

    Interrupt deep thoughts: imagine if more and more people embrace love and compassion as a way of life.

  12. BrandonKayda Says:

    Yep @Robear. That’s exactly what we’re talking about here. Everybody adds in to the big picture somehow – we’re all one soul just living subjectively through one another, etc.

  13. BrandonKayda Says:

    I find it funny how I can seemingly understand something in such a heightened sense yet never truly experience it myself.

  14. Robear Says:

    You kids are impressive. Was having thoughts at the show very similar to the thread you all had going.

    Another phantastic show.

  15. GhostPhunk Says:

    G’nite all, great discussion. Can’t wait for Wednesday.

  16. JeffieM Says:

    “Humans need social interaction, and I think we need it for more than just the simple reasons like keeping company and having friends and all that.”

    The thing with this that I’ve come back to a lot lately is social interaction as an evolutionary necessity. Hume talks a lot about how humans are such needy creatures. bears can eat a lot in the fall and sleep all winter. We need to eat just about everyday.

    The thing that we evolved to be really good at is forming institutions and liking each other enough to have laws and economies and late night internet chats about the essence of being a person.

    On some level, even as a strict empiricist, this right here is what I was made to do.

  17. JeffieM Says:

    Glad to hear it, Robear.

  18. Andrew Says:

    Right on fellas. The powerful sub-conscience evolution, planetary and personal, coming to a theater near you.

  19. BrandonKayda Says:

    I feel really good and sure about all this right now, but it’s totally an ebb and flow thing. Tomorrow I could be all dressed in black and tired of people: the important thing is that I remember how we all need each other in one way or another – basically what I said in the last couple posts…

    I truly do love these kind of conversations, folks. I feel like I have so many thoughts sometimes and this is the only place where I can speak them usually. You guys care about this kind of thing. Good to know.

  20. Andrew Says:

    You got a good head on your shoulders BK, keep it positive. If you were my kid I’d be driving you to more shows 😉

  21. BrandonKayda Says:

    And then there were none…

  22. BrandonKayda Says:

    Thanks @Andrew.

  23. voidboy Says:


    Great convo tonight… reviewing the last couple of pages… Absolutely amazing stuff… (sorry I missed it… almost ;).

  24. BrandonKayda Says:

    Hey @Void

    Always nice to see you around.

  25. [an unrelated] wilson Says:

    It was money. Set reminded me a lot of VA Beach 98.
    Great 3 day run. each night better than the one before, with an ear candy Sunday to top it off.
    Make no mistake. They are in total control again. The Phish.

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