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. GhostPhunk Says:

    sweet tweeze indeed last night. Now lets hold out that next Timber for Darien and while we’re at it, let’s throw in an It’s Ice…

  2. DaNcInG fOoL Says:

    “starting to plan for the custy ball.”

    hells yes you are. i knew you’d give in… i think it’s just the lame ass name of the fest that was giving you any doubt

  3. BrandonKayda Says:

    Yeah Waugh was a great dark satirist. I want to read Vile Bodies soon.

    But I just really love all of the subtleties in The Loved One. Candide isn’t subtle at all, but that was the point.

  4. JeffieM Says:

    Where are people flying into for the Ball?

  5. jdub Says:

    Only 60k tickets. But then again, I can’t see them turning down any potential dinero. Probably just a ploy to get people to buy early. If Phish continues on this upward trend the markets may see some heavy activity. I’m rooting for the win-win. Phish sells tickets, but not enough to make it a cluster fuck.

  6. Leo Weaver Says:

    Just did the FB thing @willowed.

  7. Aquaman Says:

    Just a quick post before catching some Zzzz’s.

    The grin has not left my face since I arrived at BTB Fest. The mini three show set I have undertaken has really placed me in a blissed out state of mind. First off, being able to catch top notch music with some of the greatest group of people between the BB community and my old friends back in Detroit was what made this weekend so special. Throw in some great weather and hot, hot playing from the boys and things get taken to the next level. #winning

    Finally listening back to Blossom right now and having all the fun come gushing back to me. BTW, it is confirmed…..much like the mic bleed from the ’92 St. Andrew’s Hall show in Detroit, (a copy of which can be found in Miner’s vault), the Aqua whistle can be heard in both the beginning of Possum and during the sick close of Lizard’s. I will provide exact timings soon. #oldcutsybastard

    Superhero out,


  8. jdub Says:

    @Leo, if Guyute can make into CT tonight he’s gotta bed. Last I heard from him he’s pushing for it, ETA 1am. Just took tomorrow completely off, excitment levels are rising fast and furious.

  9. GhostPhunk Says:

    Blossom Tube = win

  10. BingosBrother Says:

    Joe needs bane. G7 needs a crash pad. Lets get these 2 together. Think I’m gonna have to break down and get a cell phone to stay on top of the BB during tour.

  11. plord Says:

    Aqua, no epic rail riding story? Son, I am disappoint!

  12. Leo Weaver Says:

    Nice jdub. Thanks for looking out. Make sure he hasn’t pawned my camping gear 😉

  13. BingosBrother Says:

    Aqua, heard Trey threw you a glowstick. Epic catch.

  14. RamblinMind Says:

    @Tom – If I recall correctly, 140 North was open last year after the show (though be advised that it might take you like 3 hours to get out of the GW parking lot). I’m planning on using 140 N to get to 495

  15. Leo Weaver Says:

    I was thinking the same thing plord. Used the coin again last night during my travels around the pav. Nice meeting you, see you down the road.

  16. angryjoggerz Says:

    Sweaty, a bit crazed, clutching a glow ring and bleeding from the leg.

  17. BingosBrother Says:

    awesome job by voopa w/ the memes. I’ ll keep looking for the missing ones. DF made one 3 or 4 days ago that was killing me. can’t find it though.

  18. sumodie Says:

    Anyone familiar with local traffic? Is 140 North usually closed after concerts at the comcast center.

    140 North is always open or no one gets on the highway post show -yes, you’ll be fine

    the GW lots are the hard part -so unpredictable. And it’s all Jersey barrier’d too so you’re locked in the maze

  19. BingosBrother Says:—Limit–art?IMID=7f493671-efe8-41b9-ae9f-44493a50d211

    Helluva call by this poster artist. Babe Ruth type shit.

  20. voopa Says:

    Thanks gang. I’ll try to backtrack and update, but no guarantees. ION, here’s what I was doing in 1994…not a bad mix, and my chief partner in crime thingphish has some more on his channel.

  21. voopa Says:

    That is SWEET Bingos!

  22. sumodie Says:

    spinning Cinci Julius>YEM now, couldn’t resist

    and that means I’ll have to crack out on Sally too

    Must.Stop.There.No ‘A Love Disease’ tonight.I’m serious.

  23. sumodie Says:

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

    @PigSong: If you grabbed it off the ‘noid there’s a 2nd torrent for that 2nd Hood track. And even after grabbing that 2nd Hood track, the song doesn’t want to load on my pod in the proper sequence. Otherwise it sounds fine

  24. William H. Bonney Says:

    Good nite BB…

  25. ThePigSong Says:

    ahhh…prefect timing.

    thanks sumo. I remember seeing that small file after searching phish, but had cincy on my mind.

    night folks, some mid-vacation flights in the extra early AM.

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