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. lastwaltzer Says:

    Goodluck soul8er that is going to be a fucking blast.

  2. kayatosh Says:

    re. miner’s contest scored a total of 11 points out of a possible 48 (8 shows 6 pts. max per show). had 5 shows with zero pts.

    gonna try and improve in contest 2. have never done phish picks game before this one, and it it’s a real brain wrecker.

  3. MrCompletely Says:

    trackpad zoom hasn’t been working in FF4 on the macbook at home, @mitch. not a mac thing, a FF thing.

    @marco, yeah, grantland.com launched yesterday, today is the first real Simmons column on the new site

    top shelf work imo

  4. kayatosh Says:

    “I thought PNC was relatively sparse on the lawn both nights I was there. ”

    that’s b/c night 2 everyone crammed the pavilion. it became like a real live Footloose. dancers vs. security

  5. MrCompletely Says:

    its clear he’s sick of doing mailbags. they’re like twice a year now. good thing, I think

  6. mitch Says:

    df, did you try holding ctrl and using 2 fingers?

  7. Phamily Berzerker Says:

    Been thinking of sending this meme to my wife


  8. MrCompletely Says:

    “df, did you try holding ctrl and using 2 fingers?”


  9. kayatosh Says:

    looks like miner tweaked the contest in 2 ways: 1) instead of just picking a song for set I and a song for set II it looks like you now have to pick the opener for each set and 2) no wildcard selection worth 2 pts. 4 possible pts. for each show. much harder to score now.

  10. Kaveh Says:

    Got my pick’s in for Miner’s new contest. I like this format better than the first round.

    For the third round; he should change the openers to closers. 🙂

  11. DaNcInG fOoL Says:

    doesn’t work mitch

  12. kayatosh Says:

    taste the fear in this 46 days (6.8). trey on fiyah.

  13. DaNcInG fOoL Says:

    i’ve now seen all 4 versions of what’s the use in 3.0

  14. DaNcInG fOoL Says:

    weird that the pav last night is a tent. can definitely hear what a difference it makes in the sound

  15. Lycanthropist Says:

    It’s sad to say that mike’s in the second set pretty much seals the deal against an open psychedelic journey in the set.

    IT used to launch them..

    oh well thus far this show has been a fantastic rocker and fun taboot..

  16. DaNcInG fOoL Says:

    too true @lycan

  17. Mike in Austin Says:

    Camden get’s “I didn’t know”

  18. Kevin Says:

    Bummed I can only make MPP night 1, but the good news I’ve got pit…new experience for me.

  19. DaNcInG fOoL Says:

    although augusta begs to differ

  20. msbjivein Says:

    Last night’s show looks like a straight up rock show w/ a shit ton of quick tight tunes. I wonder if that’s why we haven’t got a write up from miner? No long jams just straight rockers. Setlists look like Hampton setlists w/ all those tunes. Must of been a high energy rock show.

  21. DryIceFactory Says:

    Good Morning All,
    Looks like I missed a fun show last night. My “on-tour” crew says it was a lot of fun. Bustouts and lots of teasing/lyrical play. Whose ready for Camden->MPP?

  22. Dr. Pronoia Says:

    that lebron article was great. right on the money

  23. alf Says:

    comments from the couch are pretty predictable – quit judging by the setlist and track times and listen to the kids telling you it was a hot show 😮

    i hunt jams like GD hunts tickets and i still loved last night. fuckin loved it!

    bottom line: the band is killing it right now

  24. Kaveh Says:

    So what are people’s opinions, SO FAR, on which show would be the DVD release from this leg of tour?

    Mine: Pine Knob

  25. TreasureReprise Says:

    @butter…I’ll check in with you guys if I can pull off the trip to the durty atl.

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