A Rock and Roll Adventure

6.5.11 - Riverbend (M.Shultz)

Following up a barn-burning weekend in the Midwest, Phish came back to New England and, in their return to Great Woods, dropped one of tour’s defining jams in “Rock and Roll.” A coherent, multi-faceted and exploratory odyssey anchored the show all by itself—it was that good. But aside for a standout first-set “Bowie,” Great Woods didn’t offer much else in the way of musical adventure, though sometimes that’s the way it goes. Throughout the history of Phish, Great Woods has been the site of so many classic shows, but in the 3.0 era, the venue seems to be a catalyst for mediocrity. This time around, Phish played a phenomenal piece of improvisation in “Rock and Roll,” but provided little support for their monster excursion. Yet in the interest of focusing on the sublime part of the show, lets get right to it.

Official Great Woods Print (Duval)

After an energetic and extended “Back on the Train” opener, Phish put “Rock and Roll” under the second set spotlight for the first time this tour, and boy did it shine—and fly right into the stratosphere. Exiting the song’s rock textures, the band began the journey in a four-part experiment that fused ambient jamming with abstract groove. The jam jumped outside the box quickly, as Phish morphed the piece into a beautiful and uplifting segment of creative music. Trey fluttered patterns into the heavens as the band collectively sculpted one of the most surreal passages of tour. But the piece didn’t stay pretty for long. As the band organically migrated through a melodic ambient realm into a much harder-edged jam, Trey left the heavens for Lucifer’s pit, switching into seething guitar-work amidst a subconsciously-connected jam. Phish continued to push themselves into new ground as “Rock and Roll” completely changed course—in very natural fashion—into an evil, psychedelic monstrosity. Whole-band annihilation underlined this exploratory jaunt, a piece that continued moving into more experimental—and darker—realms by the second, until we were were neck deep in musical dementia. When the band finally settled out of this sinister sound sculpture, they jammed down into a summer-appropriate “Mango Song.”

Page shone on piano throughout a very clean version of “Mango Song,” and upon its ending, the band hit a crossroads of the second set. They had dropped one of tour’s defining jams in “Rock and Roll” and had resolved it perfectly with “Mango.” It seemed like an ideal slot to drop another jam vehicle, but, instead, the band chose to follow up the highlight combination with an innocuous string of songs that took the set to its end. “Pebbles and Marbles” was the one rarity contained within and the band played it well, though they still have yet to infuse any creativity into its rock-based jam (less Vegas ’04). The set-closing “Antelope” was better than many of this era and featured playful “Meatstick” teases, but it did little to salvage the set as a total experience.

Bethel Woods (Michael Mesenbourg

The band had one other crossroads within this final portion of the show—“Halley’s Comet.” After Bethel’s breakout version—one of the highlights of tour’s opening weekend—when the band dropped into the song in the middle of the second set, one could only imagine what they were about to do to the jam. But in a move that left the audience with an 8th grade case of blue-balls, the band chopped off any possibilities as they took a turn into “Meatstick,” deflating the show beyond resuscitation.

The first set amounted to legitimate opening half, kicking off with “Llama” and peaking with a surprise, mid-set “David Bowie” that was played with a whole-band tenacity. An intricate and collaborative version provided the other true highlight of the show in addition to “Rock and Roll.” The band’s second-ever performance of John Lennon’s “Instant Karma” was particularly sloppy, though “Divided Sky” popped with extra zest later in the frame. The debut of the Al Green’s cover “Rhymes”—a loafing blues-rock-type groove—hit me as a “take-it-or-leave-it” type of song with some potential; we’ll see if anything develops out of it.

6.5.11 (M.Stein)

Phish’s Tuesday night stop in Massachusetts, despite “Rock and Roll’s” outlandish adventure, felt like a bit of an exhale after a mind-numbing weekend run. But even within an exhale in Summer 2011, the band dropped one of the most sublime passages of music we’ve heard this tour; it all depends on the way you look at it. Let’s put “Rock and Roll > Mango” in a powerful slot on our ever-growing Summer 2011 mix-tape and move on to Darien! See you under the white tents tonight…

I: Llama, The Moma Dance, Possum, Cities, Instant Karma!, David Bowie, Rhymes*, The Divided Sky, Stealing Time From the Faulty Plan

II: Back on the Train, Rock and Roll > The Mango Song, Bug, Pebbles and Marbles, Halley’s Comet > Meatstick, Run Like an Antelope

E Suzy Greenberg

*debut, Al Green


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1,411 Responses to “A Rock and Roll Adventure”

  1. bhizzle Says:

    God damn old people.

    Still working on logistics Plord. Will let you know as soon as I know. That is, if you still interested in the ticket? I saw yesterday Jtran was going to try to reach you re: some pit tix. Not sure how that panned out. Either way let me know. And either way see ya later.

  2. summer98 Says:

    At the airport heading east. Long travel day will hopefully pay off with a sweet show tonight. Never done a solo Phish show before. Looking forward to hooking up with some bbers. Bumped up to first from Seattle to Chicago is a bonus. Ill get some zsss. Sounds like ghost tonight!

  3. DukeOfLizards Says:


    Fuck medicine.

    1. Bethel. 2. Waves. 3. Repeat.

    But seriously, lots of OJ and rest.

  4. joe Says:

    re: the poster. It was much more vibrant in person. I spent a few minutes staring at it during set break.

    Not much of a reviewer, but a few thoughts. My tickets that I had lined up for section 6 (mid pavillion) got screwed up. Basically, the kid I was supposed to get them from flaked on me. So I was a bit in a scramble when we got to lot. It wasn’t sold out but I was looking for lower pavillions, which weren’t available at box office. Tons of people looking but nobody selling extras. Seems like maybe the scalpers sat this one out. We ended up getting seats at the box office in the outside part. But we were dead center and it was a beautiful night. I thought the opening segment ripped pretty hard. A little lul in Instant Karma, but a cool song to hear. Bowie was a nice surprise in that slot. Didn’t know Rhymes but dug it good enough. Being out in the open air was nice for Divided Sky. Timed well with the sunset. There was this cool kite like thing with a candle that someone set off (and then later after the show). (brain kind of frazzeled to accurately describe it, but it sailed across the sky during the jam and was really cool to watch. Kids behind us were super fucked up and kind of freaking my lady out a bit so we left those seats at set break and joined the dance circle down in the aisle behind the covered seats for the second set. Rock and Roll, as our host said so much better than I ever could, was the highlight. Bug was a nice little cool down in that spot. That was followed by some dead like on-stage tuning, during which time the crowd got a good let’s go bruins chant. Highlight of my night for sure. Stanley Cup Fever.

  5. joe Says:

    wish I was making the long trek to Darrien and not sitting at work, obviously.

  6. Beantownboy Says:

    Had another amazing time under the roof last night at Great Woods.

    Yes, the boys didn’t throw a lot of jams but it was a humid night that was more aligned with swamp funk rather than head crushing jams. That first set sat pretty nicely for our section with everyone puffin and groovin’.

    Though when they did decide to jam they gave a little taste of what has been happening over the past week plus with one of the best Rock & Roll’s that I’ve witnessed. It might even top Providence’s given its darker context.

    Left extremely satisfied and can’t imagine how they’ll sound come my next shows in Denver.

  7. Calpain Says:

    Yeah PHISH!!!

    so excited for the rest of tour. Been too busy to check in or read comments, but I am sure everyone is lovin’ it!

  8. lastwaltzer Says:

    “The official poster is either the greatest ever, or the worst ever.”ihate

    easily the best. Seriously, that I would hang on my wall.

  9. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    can;t argue with this review… pretty spot on in my eyes. RNR was the decided highlight with the rest being a high energy affair for the masses. Divided seemed to have some extra sauce – perhaps Trey wanted to prove something – and the Bowie was a great midset surprise.

    I spent most of the evening roaming the walkways, riding the crowd energy as much as the band. Pre-TDHD, the Halley’s had the place moving (as it generally does) and the Moma had some extra spunk. can’t go wrong with a Llama opener either. Solid Lope but it really felt that towards the end of the set everything was getting chopped due to the time constraint of 11pm curfew. not that that helped anyone get out of the lots. didn’t even bother getting in my car until 12:45.

    The short of it for me in this show is that it is apparent that these are four musicians who are on top of their game right now. Last night felt like a professional performance put on by the boys, one where they didn’t take risks but played with precision.

    good seeing KP and plord (albeit briefly). tried to hit rage side ww at setbreak but didn’t find anyone there. admittedly, I was a bit all over the place last night. must’ve trucked about 2-3 miles up and down the venue throughout the evening. loved it.

    see y’all in Camden!

  10. punkmug Says:

    Morning peeps. First chance to check in on the comments section since getting back late Monday night from the weekend mini-tour. So cool to meet a lot of you again and some of you for the first time. Great times. Peace.

  11. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    oh yeah, forgot to mention how perfect the mango was after the rnr jam fully resolved itself. somewhat surprised at how many people seemed to have no idea what the song was though. guess I really shouldn’t be though. 🙄

  12. bhizzle Says:

    Getting so stoked for tonight…have a feeling for a Ghost, they played Bowie last night (so far this year I have been able to allude Bowies, nice)….actually have a feeling for a Drowned too….Darien seems to be the place they like to play it….hmmmmm

  13. bhizzle Says:

    and play it well

  14. joe Says:

    apparently, those things are flying chinese lanterns.


  15. Kaveh Says:

    Good morning everyone! Hope everyone had a good show last night.

    Just started up Llama…and away we go!

  16. bhizzle Says:

    flying chinese lanterns…seen one after the Blossom show…they’re cool.

  17. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    it figures that I would leave my stub from last night at home. no DL for me until later, I suppose.

  18. Twzr247 Says:

    I believe that Suzy is/was from the Boston area and may be assumed to attend shows. The frequency at which they play it certainly seems to hint at it.

  19. lastwaltzer Says:

    so were a few shows in now, what are peoples top jams thus far?

    for me, in no order:

    halleys- bethel
    After Midnight-Holmdel
    Crosseyed- bethel
    Possom- blossom

  20. jdub Says:

    You can add Mansfield R n R to that list LW.

  21. sumodie Says:

    12:45 and still in the lots? Ouch (but you knew better than to sit in the car)

    For the encore I grooved at the edge of the venue walkway, then booked outside, leaping the crowd control fence put up to let the band buses leave, and sprinted to my car. Out in 10 minutes. Gotta luv GW lots -not

    Breakfast inhaled, caffeine injected, time to put the medal to the metal for Darien

    Don’t forget to sign up for the 101st Running of the First Annual Runaway Jim Memorial 5k Road Race at the SuperBall!

    (don’t worry, “drug testing will not take place before and after the race.”)

  22. lastwaltzer Says:


    gotta hear it first 🙂

  23. Lily Says:

    This review is spot on – exactly what my friends and I were saying on the walk back to our car last night (in the thankfully private lot that allowed us to scoot right out. live and learn). The Rock&Roll was the decided highlight – I lost myself completely, having at least one “What song is this?” moment. Really hoped for massive things after that and found myself scratching my head at the rest of the set 2 post-Mango. I anticipated a massive 2001 or Tweezer or something along those lines, but it wasn’t to be. I really enjoyed Pebbles and Marbles, it’s a personal fave, so that made me happy. And ‘Lope had serious fire. But the rest felt a bit disconnected to me. The Meatstick segue was the roughest part of the night for me, hands down. Set 1 Bowie was great, and Llama was a solid opener.

    Had a blast overall, and the boys were having fun. I am starting to love Page more and more – it helped that we were 2nd row off the pit Page-side.

    See you at MPP!

  24. lastwaltzer Says:

    “Breakfast inhaled, caffeine injected, time to put the medal to the metal for Darien”sumodie

    what did you win the medal for? 😉

  25. butter Says:

    Let’s put “Rock and Roll > Mango” in a powerful slot on our ever-growing Summer 2011 mix-tape and move on to Darien!

    ^thats why its so niiiicee to be on tour

    good positive spin Miner

    TreasureReprise flew out for just Great Woods and is calling it a ‘stinker’

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