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. lastwaltzer Says:

    “I can tell there wasn’t enough meat in last night’s show to satisfy me but the playing is hot enough you don’t leave pissed.”bf

    word. There were many shows in the past two years that I’d have walked away pissed from. Now it seems like the meh shows are at least a lot of fun in person but don’t have a lot of replay value. And thats fine not every night can be like bethel or dte

  2. joe Says:

    finally getting to the mansfield jam portion of the rock and roll from the other night. Needless to say, the recording doesn’t fully capture the sound of Mike’s bass when he hit the effects.

  3. bouncin fan Says:

    That’s def key LW

    Before Trey couldn’t support what his vision was in 09-10. He wanted his 91-93 style band back but he was playing like it was 2045.

  4. MrCompletely Says:

    “there really isn’t a level of playing attainable where I love a phish rawkin song based show. not hating it either though.”

    exactly. but if you’re there, no point in moping. Get lifted and enjoy the scene.

  5. Kaveh Says:

    Photo 48 explains 2/3 of the first three songs from last night:



  6. Robear Says:

    I vote Makita.

    Kids, don’t skip the Midwest. Or the south for that matter.

  7. bouncin fan Says:

    no doubt LW

    if every show was DTE would you even know it was hot?

    need the rawkers to prop up the magical ones. same as it ever was.

  8. lastwaltzer Says:

    Well i’m hoping once 2045 rolls around they’re playing ambient sets with lots of sustain, not trying to rip the closing of Rift. 🙂

  9. snowbank Says:

    this article from wired is kind of fun:
    though the sports are not actually ‘insanely cool’. more like neat.

    finally listened to Natti in proper stylee. 80

  10. snowbank Says:

    I mean 😯

  11. snowbank Says:

    some good shows. some bad shows.
    but it all works out.
    I’m just a little 😯

  12. lastwaltzer Says:

    wtf? if your gonna have people make multiple signs for one song you pick nellie kane?

    next show with lots of black boarders needs to have signs everywhere that say “JAM!!!!!”

  13. MrCompletely Says:

    makita makes good stuff. own a lot of makita gear

    estwing hammers FTW

  14. albert walker Says:

    I’m out kids. time to read some analyst reports.

    spinning DTE last night just got me hoping I got a real meaty magical set to spin on my dog walks soon

    let’s hope the next show is the one

    laterz comrades

  15. snowbank Says:

    and whatever you do: DO NOT SKIP JERSEY

  16. alf Says:

    but if you’re there, no point in moping. Get lifted and enjoy the scene.

    throwing some balloons back and forth with kids on the back of the lawn also works

    interesting stuff, gotta love summer tour. later kids.

  17. MrCompletely Says:

    DO NOT SKIP while you’re in JERSEY or you will get your ass beat


  18. albert walker Says:

    the bluegrass tunes do bring us old schoolers back though

    nellie cane
    paul and silas

    shit reminds me of the mid 90’s. now I”m really out.

  19. stitchstash Says:

    Robear, That’s funny. You’re right, I shouldn’t blame the Flegionairs or waterwheel. ~I should blame you! If your comments didn’t make me feel so full of sunshine and rainbows, I’d never want to meet anybody from here and I’d still have my phone. So now that I know where to shift the blame, I feel so much better.

    Blackboarders are now Flegionairs? You guys are funny with all your code talk.

    up, up, down, down, left, right, left, right, B, A, select, start

  20. albert walker Says:

    yes Mitch. hitting on frack chicks and playing catch with balloons is def entertainment when you get a bethel 3 dropped on your ass

    but dont forget the puddle

    last time
    I’m out

  21. GhostPhunk Says:

    “Darien Jam” would have been a fun sign.

  22. halcyon Says:

    The cat holding the Jennifer’s Dances sign looked like jeffiem 8)

  23. Kurt from Indy Says:

    song based shows in 09 10 contained a bit of shit too though, sorry tte fans

  24. Robear Says:

    Lololol @ stitch!

    New blog post >

  25. snowbank Says:

    Thx C. I knew I left something out.

    Fuck Fracking

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