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


Phish Thoughts Book Contest #2: Contest #2 is now open! Enter by making your picks anytime before Camden starts for a chance to win a free copy of my forthcoming book! (Contest #1 results will be announced before Friday.) Enter now by clicking here!


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

  1. DaNcInG fOoL Says:

    @LW, i’m gonna bring a couple flashdrives and put the stems on them for the bb

  2. c0wfunk Says:

    Trey w/ Jennifer Dances poster

    mpp1 last year was the de ja vu show .. huge references to the 09 version .. never bought the worst show ever hype, esp. w/ that 46 days but not gonna argue the point again 🙂

    mpp2 had some of the biggest open jams of 09 .. interesting to see what they come up with this year. The crowd there is always so schwilly and custy and half paying attention…

  3. Leo Weaver Says:

    @lw…I thought the > into Light at Cinci was brilliant. Still haven’t listened back but at the time I thought, “heh, Trey finally figure out how to roll into the intro nice and slow.” It was NOT jarring as has been the case far too often. But the > into Boogie on just crushed the dope little groove they’d just settled into. I was bummed. ‘Bout time to listen back to that show.

  4. lastwaltzer Says:



    So what do you say when you cross the border?

    “I’m visiting my phamily”

  5. DaNcInG fOoL Says:

    haha yes

    so who else is gonna stream these alpharetta shows??

  6. c0wfunk Says:

    mpp2 had some of the biggest open jams of 10

  7. multibeast Says:

    Travelin back to pg 42. Thanks!

  8. lastwaltzer Says:

    Word Leo, its by no means perfect but its a step in the right direction.

    The problem with both light and #line as a segue song is that trey gets hung up on playing the intro as written. Both of them have weird starts. I’d say with #line they have to just go into the song fuck the trey strumming by himself and then have fishman come in. Just go into together like they would Caspian.

    Same with light they could just start strumming in B doesn’t need to be that rhythmic pattern the intro has.

    Kind of reminds be of the ATL Tweezer>Slave where they are pulling a perfect segue and then trey fucks it up trying to play his intro part.

  9. Leo Weaver Says:

    Both of last year’s shows were pretty excellent, save the first set of the first night (mostly). The flow of MPP1 set 2 was impeccable IMO. Absolutely love the Slave>Tweeprise to close the set

  10. win butler Says:

    LOL at Camden being ‘hometown’ shows. Sure they love to slum it once or twice a year, but do any of you think anyone from Phish grew up near there?

  11. DaNcInG fOoL Says:

    miner’s contest = hard as fuck

  12. c0wfunk Says:

    “The problem with both light and #line as a segue song is that trey gets hung up on playing the intro as written”

    interesting catch -> what made the detroit fluffhead intro so fluid was the way Trey twisted it out the first few times…

  13. MrCompletely Says:

    good post on those song intros @lw, true

  14. multibeast Says:

    Not sure if there are any MMJ fans out there, but their recent storytellers was pretty awesome.


  15. kayatosh Says:

    great posts here last night re. mindfulness and overcoming personal issues through self-observation. great reading. we have great people here.

    spinning last night’s show top to bottom (AT aud. source) KDF and wolfman’s have blistering hot peaks. even rift is palatable. bustouts a plenty.

  16. Leo Weaver Says:

    Right on re: intros of both of those @lw. IIRC, trey started those intro notes quietly and sparsely under what the other three were doing, then it just started to tighten up organically into Light. could be off base here as I still haven’t listened, just going off show impressions.

  17. marcoesq Says:

    Trying to find info about this Camden cop killing, all I can find is the one from January.

    Is this recent?

  18. MrCompletely Says:

    @multi, that storytellers ep piqued my wife’s interest in that band, I think we’ll prob go see them next time they’re around

  19. lastwaltzer Says:


    trey didn’t grow up too far from Camden. He’s a philly guy.

  20. marcoesq Says:

    ATL Tweezer had a perfect segue into Show of Life but then chose slave

  21. DaNcInG fOoL Says:

    how do you zoom in/out in the new firefox on a mac? you used to be able to do it on the track pad with 2 fingers

  22. lastwaltzer Says:

    :”miner’s contest = hard as fuck”df

    which is why i haven’t entered.

  23. marcoesq Says:

    Trey and page both grew up in New Jersey so they are most definitely hometown shows

  24. win butler Says:

    Home state? Yes

    Home town? Not so much

  25. kayatosh Says:

    undermind has so much room to open up. gets kinda plinko cool for a while (is undermind the wellspring of the plinko style jamming?) and then trey gives it the KDF and wolfman’s white hot peak treatment – in the box. AC undermind got a little more out of the box, if memory serves.

Leave a Reply