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. kayatosh Says:

    i’m ready for camden. just as soon as I get my miner picks sorted. tough calls to make.

  2. lastwaltzer Says:

    “quit judging by the setlist and track times and listen to the kids telling you it was a hot show “alf

    whoa whoa whoa, hold your horses there you furry little alien who doesn’t wear pants. Are you trying to tell me that a show should be based on the content of its character not the collection of titles that makes up its sets?!?!?!

  3. lastwaltzer Says:


    being as though pine knob features the best set of 3.0, yes.

  4. butter Says:

    need a heady baby sitter for the NC shows

    will trade cash and a Portsmouth ticket if you are qualified to watch my 8 year old daughter in the hotel in NC Fri and Sat

  5. alf Says:

    robear, where’d you go. what kind of tool am i now???

  6. bouncin fan Says:

    musically they are killing it alf

    but on my couch or in the venue I don’t see Phish for high energy rock shows

    I see em for Bethel 1 + 2 or Detroit 1

    doesn’t mean you don’t enjoy yourself. but def not why I see this band at least. that’s why you go on tour and see a bunch. so as a jam chaser you don’t get annoyed by the more rawkin nights!

    the reason I actually love the above listed shows is cuz they get away from the style of last nights show. not that is was bad.

  7. Robear Says:

    Alf, what number?

    We need to replace the snap on moniker for 200-300. Any suggestions?

    0-99 craftsman
    100-199 kobalt
    200-299 ???
    300+ Matco

  8. Mr palmer Says:

    Hey guys. Just popping in to say hi.

    Thanks again for all the test advice yesterday. I called the testing comPany to send me another form for checkin because I messed up printing it. They did and as a result I have until Monday morning now instead of tomorrow. I think this is a huge difference. Will give me 6 full days of cleanliness

    How was phish last night?

  9. MrCompletely Says:

    slick Palmer!

    you’d have been fine anyway but now you’re a lock

  10. butter Says:

    no Miner, we don’t know 😉

  11. lastwaltzer Says:

    they sucked palmer, I’m hoping on panic tour. This relationship is over.

  12. joe Says:

    batman belt?

  13. Chonz Says:

    I’m going to be teetering on the edge of Kobalt after Labor Day. Exciting!

  14. alf Says:

    last night was a mixture of old and new to me. in 95 they could play a hot psychedelic show without centerpiece open jams, and that’s what last night was. i’m probly crazy. set and setting were perfect last night so i’m definitely still basking in the glow.

  15. Kurt from Indy Says:

    agreed bouncin, i just got done telling a friend how i felt like a dick after the riverbend show. it just seemed like detroits dwd almost ruined the weekend, i was chasing that godamn jam the next two nights, which is so awesome you can hear the crowd erupt in blossoms sally when they finally settle in that unknown jam. those outerspace moments are like crack, so when your (cinci) tweezers lights, cp, and a couple others in the first set dont break the mold you get a little bitter, i know i shouldnt have but damn you detroit!

  16. alf Says:

    shit, i’m only halfway to a tool change. fuckin noob.

  17. msbjivein Says:

    Was wondering why miner hasnt written anything yet. I wasn’t knocking the show. I come here to read Miner’s review. If I wanted to know what the heady kids thought I’d just go to PT.

  18. negev79 Says:

    he’s traveling @msb – review will be forthcoming, no worries.

  19. DaNcInG fOoL Says:

    alf is kwl right? right?

  20. st8 of mind Says:

    Miner taking a nap? I’m jonesing!

  21. DukeOfLizards Says:


    Guy I was supposed to buy MPP1 stubs from in NYC flaked out today. I am on the hustle HARD right now, but any leads/actual extras would be much appreciated.

    I will also accept hetty pit printout copies 🙄

  22. alf Says:

    fuck jersey :mrgreen:

  23. seif Says:

    from the Bill Simmons article on leBron…is he talking about LeBron or The P-H-I-S-H???

    “There’s a curse that comes with limitless potential: Everyone judges you against only that limitless potential. We crave Game 4 and Game 5 of the Chicago series from LeBron every time. When it doesn’t happen, we feel like he failed us, just like fans in the 1960s always felt like Wilt was failing them. This definitely isn’t fair.”

  24. alf Says:

    couldn’t have timed that one better 😉

  25. DaNcInG fOoL Says:

    haha i was wondering where you went

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