Crushing Cincinnati

6.5.11 Riverbend - (Michael Stein)

Powerhouse Phish shows come in the form of two outstanding sets—start to finish beasts that never let up for a moment. On Sunday night in Cincinnati, to close out their miniature Midwest swing, the band dropped a powerhouse Phish show. Composing their performance in halves and following the path of the summer sun, the band focused on lighter songs with uplifting jamming in the first set, while using darker-themed songs and improv to craft an intense second set journey upon nightfall. And both halves were phenomenal, with only one hiccup throughout, as Phish put on a Sunday night showcase at Riverbend Music Center.

Official Riverbend Print (Ho)

After kicking off the show with an old-school one-two punch in “Bag” and “Punch,” the thematic, summertime jamming got underway with the cathartic melodies and dance grooves of “Bathtub Gin.” Infusing their first set jamming with a tightness and fire, the guys also played with notably enhanced, whole-band creativity within their contained jams. “Bathtub” provided a smoking example of this first-set trend, while “Taste” furthered it with spectacular interplay between all four band members. Moving from the complex polyrhythms of “Tatse” into the looser grooves of “Jibboo,” Phish took the laid-back jam for a more contoured ride than usual, furthering both the creative trend and summertime feel of the opening half. In a cooled-out take on the song, all band members sat back considerably while subtly exchanging ideas in a refined conversation that shied from the straight-ahead guitar annihilation of most renditions. And in between “Taste” and “Jibboo,” the band worked in a very clean version of “Mound,” something that hasn’t been able to be said in this era. But the gem of the first set—the gem for which we waited for half a tour—came next in “Reba.”

6.5.11 (M.Stein)

Having held back on their quintessential summer jam all tour long, when the band dropped the opening “Reba” of the year, it was perfect. Nailing the song’s fugue with precision, the band proceeded to take the audience on a blissful ride as day began to turn into night. Floating atop the flowing waters of “Reba” at sunset of a summer show is one of the classic Phish experiences, and last night’s was particularly poignant. Again laying back in the jam’s onset with his calculated and more subtle leads, Trey wove his story amidst what the others’ had to say in a collaborative quilt of glory. With gorgeous phrasing—a quality of his playing all night—Trey led jams without dominating them, a pattern that has emerged as one of the best trends of tour. But when the jam got to its climax, Trey was right there to take it to the top. And when as “Reba’s ” jam slammed to its classic halt, the band started up “Fee” almost immediately.

When Phish is feeling it and drops a “Fee,” they often add an improvisational tail to the tale of the weasel. And on this evening, the band oozed into a stunning ambient excursion in which Trey picked up a beautiful, repetitive melody that became the theme to the piece, reminiscent of “Simple’s” enchanting ending on 1/1/11. Everywhere you turned, Phish had something to offer last night, and they slowly built the end of “Fee” piece into a more and more abstract plane before making a change into “Number Line” to close the set. The delicate interplay that laced the opening half also graced its finale as the band navigated a contained but climactic version that punctuated the opening half.

6.5.11 (M.Stein)

And as the band stepped on stage into darkness, out came the music of the night. Launching the set with a compact “Carini,” the band, without haltering, stepped into the type of second-set “Tweezer” that I’ve been waiting for this summer—a gooey excursion in groove with the smooth sensibilities of a band firing on all cylinders like they haven’t in ages. Like opening the door to a musical candy land, when the jam hit it felt like another world engulfed the pavilion—a world of staccato guitar leads, crunchy clav textures and chunky bass lines; a world where thoughts ceased and spirits soared. Taking their crack-laced conversation for quite a ride, the band let the segment naturally progress from one filthy groove into another in the type of throwdown that could inspire an army of Solid Gold dancers. When they finally released into the guitar-led build of “Tweezer,” Trey peaked the jam using screaming “Crosseyed” licks, foreshadowing what was just around the corner. Completely locked and loaded throughout this liquid excursion, once finished, the band wasted to time splashing into “Free” as the landing point for their infectious jaunt.

6.5.11 (M.Stein)

Upon “Free’s” ending, the band hopped right into “Crosseyed and Painless,” taking the song for a full-throttled ride. Crushing the song’s percussive patterns, the dark feel of the set continued with the fourth sinister song in row. As the band began to veer into uncharted territory, they landed on a series of collective hits that Trey used as a creative attempt to move into “Light.” Taking his mates a moment to catch on, the transition didn’t come off flawlessly, but the flow of the show wasn’t damaged. After Bethel’s contained version of “Light,” the band was back to pushing the envelope with their modern classic. As they settled out of the song’s shreddery, the guys got into some of the most progressive (and gorgeous) grooves we’ve heard all tour. Trey took a huge step back as Page began an organ pattern that led the band in a downtempo groove that was laced with a different sort of psychedelia. Having reached a golden plane of improvisation, the band patiently explored the new ground they discovered. But then came the only speed-bump to the show. As the band was immersed in this avant-garde experiment, Trey thought it would be a good time to force “Boogie On” into the mix?! A dubious call without question and a certain blemish on a show that otherwise flowed flawlessly, it’s, simultaneously, hard to knock much about last night at all.

6.5.11 (M.Stein)

Following up the intrusion with a ripping “Julius” that set up a weekend-closing “YEM” that anyone could see from a mile away, what one couldn’t foresee is how creative the band got within the song’s jam. Transcending “YEM’s” typical funk, Phish entered a whole-band conversation that veered from the song’s theme as the band got their gangsta’ lean, laying back as far as possible in a jam that brought “YEM” to another level.

A feel-good “Loving Cup,” “Reprise” encore closed the book on the only shows in the Midwest until this August at UIC, and lord knows what the band will be up to at that point. But for now, a blazing weekend came to a close in the old-school environs of Riverbend Music Center with a new-school, powerhouse  Phish show that absolutely brought the house down. Enjoy the day off and we’ll reconvene at Great Woods for another episode of Phish 2011—the freshest new adventure show on the block.

I: AC/DC Bag, Punch You In the Eye, Bathtub Gin, Taste, Lawn Boy, Mound, Gotta Jibboo, Reba, Fee > Backwards Down the Number Line

II: Carini -> Tweezer > Free, Crosseyed and Painless > Light > Boogie On Reggae Woman > Julius, You Enjoy Myself

E: Loving Cup, Tweezer Reprise


753 Responses to “Crushing Cincinnati”

  1. MrCompletely Says:

    “I had to spend the majority of my day with a young 21 year old model who is working there for the summer”


  2. Mr. Palmer Says:

    its a tough job, but someone had to do it. Might as well be me. 🙂

  3. plord Says:

    RamblinMind: yes, yes, sounds very much like San-Ho-Zay. Thanks!

  4. MrCompletely Says:

    o it was a freddie king reference? how sly

  5. ThePigSong Says:

    fuuuuuck, I guess I grabbed a bad file for the hood>mercy>hood.

    I’ve got my headphones way up listening for the segue back into hood and BAM! ZERO!

    ::needs to find the second part of hood::

  6. joe Says:

    Looking forward to tomorrow. Anyone looking to hang before hand, me and my lovely lady will be in the lot around 5’sh. Just got my tickets straightened out (section 6). Anyway, if you feel like saying hi and having a beer (or feel like smoking my dry ass up 🙂 ) drop a line. Josephmcfadyen at gee mail.

    Go bruins. Fuck Luongo

  7. tela'smuff Says:

    Mr C – i agree, and i do value the high level of play the band has brought every night this tour. 8 shows, 4 of the have been better than maybe all previous 3.0 shows. The rest (excl.Bethel 3) would be on the same level as most of the highest caliber in Fall ’10. So I completely love that, even if they don’t play a 24 min disease, they still brought fire. Those “fire” shows translate much better live, and I didn’t have that honor. So, I’m left to compare and analyze show to show. I for one am a jam hunter, particularly a space/psychedelic jam hunter, but I have evolved to appreciate instant band communication within 5 min jams segments, and accept the power they contain. So i feel ya, and agree.

    I thoroughly enjoyed listening to Cincy, good song selection, high energy. Some of my local crew were happy, some felt it was high average. I told those to hop on tour to hunt the jam.

    i don’t think they’ll leave us with anything to complain about all tour.

  8. MrCompletely Says:

    one last addition to the conversation I am mostly having with myself now

    I think shows like 6/3 and 6/4 stand out more easily to those of us that weren’t there

    might be kind of a obvious statement but its relevant

    we’ve gotten better at identifying the two kinds of good shows – those that are great both when you’re there and as an addition to your Phish music collection, and those that really are easier to grok when you’re in the building

    shows with unique centerpiece jams or masterful debuts fall really easily into the former camp

  9. albert walker Says:

    This Tweezer is sick sick sick and psychedelic as Fuck imo.

  10. MrCompletely Says:

    ha GMTA there @telas. we’re are indeed on the same page here. I dug listening to Cinci quite a bit and will def spin it again with volume after some diesel rips later, and if I was there I think I would have loved it and had a phenomenal time

    pointing out it doesn’t have a huge jam at the DWD/Sally is really more pointing out how ridiculously fucking excellent those two jams are – they are staggeringly great, as I get more spins of them and gain a little perspective they’re getting more impressive and not less

    “she is beautiful but she’s no [fill in your pick for prettiest woman in the world]” ya know?

  11. MrCompletely Says:

    yeah that’s the other thing I haven’t heard Cinci with the right headspace yet so I’m really talking fro ma square perspective here

    heading home to set that right now, will check back in after I have a chance to blow it up a little

  12. guitarpicker420! Says:

    @aw – I wanted to thank you again. I tried to find you at the Water Wheel tent post show, but by the time I got there, tent was gone. Hope you made it to your hotel OK.

  13. guitarpicker420! Says:

    Definitely wasn’t the big jam last night, but it was a rocking dance party and there were some serious points, the jam out of light is really nice, and the tweezer jam is serious business too. Just because its only 12 minutes doesn’t mean that they weren’t getting down.

  14. Mr. Palmer Says:

    looks like first 5 shows of tour are up on the ‘noid. Flac style.

  15. Mr. Palmer Says:

    Yup Gp420. The timings of these songs mean nothing anymore. Keep going back to Miner’s description of “musical density”. Seems most apt when discussing Phish’s new jammimg style.

    Even the 8 minute Twist from PNC#2 had a shit ton going on.

  16. ThePigSong Says:

    Mike had the best birthday. Dude is seriously fucking killing it and knows it. You can actually see him dance a little on the DwD vimeo.

  17. guitarpicker420! Says:

    My little girl is seriously bobbing the head and whole body to this Sneaking Sally.

  18. ThePigSong Says:

    oh, and around 17 minutes his bombs are vibrating the back stage camera.

  19. DukeOfLizards Says:

  20. kayatosh Says:

    nice one, duke.

  21. Mr. Palmer Says:

    nice Duke.

  22. Mr. Palmer Says:

    Spinning this Cincy Reba for the first time.

  23. DukeOfLizards Says:

    Cincy pull finished. Gonna hit the Reba as well.

  24. willowed Says:

    This Bruins game is going to get bloody

  25. BingosBrother Says:

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