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:

    command +/-, stupid that they got rid of the track pad way

  2. marcoesq Says:

    They have both stated, on many occasions, at both PNC and Camden about them being hometown shows for them. They both grew up close to both Camden and Philly

  3. kayatosh Says:

    DF (re. firefox zoom) on a PC cntrl+shift+=

  4. lastwaltzer Says:


    stop being such a stickler lol the people they grew up with will be hitting that show.

    The philly shows are the “hometown” shows, camden is phillys summer show.


    (did i really just #something?!?!?)

  5. Kurt from Indy Says:

    yea i got through about 3/4 of miners contest, of which felt like blind picks, and then the website failed and got discontinues or something, lost all my picks before submitted…fuck it

  6. lastwaltzer Says:

    i’m just being a dick cause i’m from the same area (although on the other side of the river) as trey and i consider camden my hometown show.

    i really could care less.

  7. lastwaltzer Says:

    yeah I liked the formation for the last contest better, wish I’d saved my picks. It would have been fun to play along.

  8. Kurt from Indy Says:

    oh man what should i listen to while i procrastinate my pack for ireland day???

  9. MrCompletely Says:

    “command +/-, stupid that they got rid of the track pad way”

    yeah I like FF4 but that Mac change is lame-o

  10. Kurt from Indy Says:

    blossom sally??? ok

  11. stitchstash Says:

    Here’s my take on Darien: Having the park open was a dream! I heard they paid $60,000. to keep the park open just for the kidz.

    Mellow mood set the tone for the evening. Nice relaxing night! A first for this song and Buffalo Bill so that was nice. ~since the BB, I’m now interested in that sort of thing.

    I enjoyed Wolman’s, Undermind and Character Zero. It’s Phish, it’s all so much fun when you’re there and in the moment.

    I really loved the second set. Golden Age and Weekapaug were made for each other. It was a big highlight of the evening for me. 2001 had a nice groove going. Fun to get down to.

    Nice to meet you Sumodie, it was nice that you stopped by! I enjoyed talking with you. Plord, Dancing Fool and Bhizzle, great to meet you as well. I wish I had more time to hang with you.

    So meeting up is great and all, but from now on I’m sticking with my waterwheel donation before the show and that’s it. If you’re there awesome, if not it wasn’t meant to be. I lost my phone last night. I hate bringing it with me when I go to shows in the first place and only had it with me to try and coordinate with you guys. I hope this doesn’t come off as mean, it’s not meant to. I truely am so happy to have made the connections with those that I’ve met and would love to meet more of you in the future.

    Sorry to post and run, have a great day!

  12. kayatosh Says:

    palmer: best of luck. sending the positive vibes your way for Fri.

    speaking of friday -> camden, brothers!

  13. win butler Says:


  14. DaNcInG fOoL Says:

    i gave up on the contest, impossible to make any of those calls, especially if you have to do all the shows at one time

  15. DaNcInG fOoL Says:

    nice meeting you stitch

  16. MrCompletely Says:

    as is his gift, Bill Simmons just summarized the whole What The Fuck Is LeBron All About, Anyway mystery in one brilliant column

    never understood Sports Guy haters. under the silly pop culture references is one of the most perceptive sports writers we’ve ever had – he understands both the mechanics and the intangibles. when he’s at his best he’s a truly great writer. excellent column today

  17. mitch Says:

    Mr c, what’s wrong with your zoom?

  18. marcoesq Says:

    @Mr C

    Simmons just released a new pg2 article? nice

    not a mailbag, is it?

  19. marcoesq Says:

    He is amazing. My favorite sports writer, absolutely. And I dont love Boston sports

  20. marcoesq Says:

    Answered my own question. reading now

    thanks for heads up

  21. kayatosh Says:

    trey is playing so well right now, i’ll listen to any song they throw out there and dig it (e.g., ride cptn. ride). jams are cherished and always welcome, but i’ll take this quality (super) phish playing a “standard” show any day.

    although beginning of it’s ice was out of key.

  22. Soul8er Says:

    saw over at Hidden Track that the estimated headcount was 16,000 for a 21,000 capacity venue. Wonder if these lackluster east coast turnouts will effect future tour geography when they sell out the west. I thought PNC was relatively sparse on the lawn both nights I was there.

    I love Golden Age. Saw TVOTR this spring in Brooklyn and my only beef was that they didnt rock that tune. Strongly recommend their live show.

    A bit of news from a semi-lurker, I’ll be heading to Seattle for a summit attempt of Mt. Rainier on Monday, have been taking it easy on tour and training for this all spring. Gonna be amazing if it goes well.

  23. Robear Says:

    Dang. @ stitch blaming the fLegionnaires AND the Waterwheel for cell phone loseage 😛

  24. GhostPhunk Says:

    @kaya, they recovered that ice flub pretty quickly.

  25. Kaveh Says:

    I believe, like others, that Camden will be a Ghost along the lines of the Disease from Pine Knob. So; it is going to be GOOD!

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