A Merriweather Massacre

6.11.11 (Brian Ferguson)

Phish quickly erased Friday’s hiccup in Camden, firing from the get go last night in a powerhouse two-setter to open the weekend at Merriweather Post Pavilion. Playing a first set that flowed that flowed as well, if not better, than the second, the band got back on track dipping into all aspects of their repertoire with a choice song selection, shredding contained jamming, experimental second set improv and big-time dance grooves. Rolling all of these aspects and more into a complete night of music, the band provided a breadth of live experiences within a single show that touched on, virtually, all aspects of their playing.

6.11.11 G.Lucas

The start of the show got an immediate boost by the rarities “Access Me” and “Vultures,” not to mention “Daniel Saw the Stone” which with Trey opened the show in response to a fan’s sign. But the golden part of the set got jump-started by an aggressive mid-set “Wilson” which set the table for sinful stretch of Phish that read: “Sand,” “Roses > Reba,” “On Your Way Down,” “Antelope.” And throughout this portion of the set—in my opinion, the highlight of the show—the band fired like pistons, intuitively connecting like pieces of a puzzle. The whole-band interplay throughout “Sand,” “Reba,” and “Antelope,” in addition to the individual mastery on display by each band member in all of these these pieces, was staggering. “Sand,” like PNC, featured a very jazzy feel at the get-go as Trey and Mike cooperated like Siamese twins while Page and Fish provided the backdrop for the two guitarists to step into the spotlight. Taking “Sand” on phenomenal ride, the band crafted a massive mid-set peak and wasn’t about to slow down.

6.11.11 (G.Lucas)

There were several measures of “Roses are Free” that signified what might have been the third improvised version of all-time. But just as we had finally cast away our doubts, Trey quickly pulled the plug to drop into “Reba” in a weird anticlimax. “Reba” is one of my unquestionable favorite Phish songs, and even though they come rare these days, the sudden transition—and what might have been—stung. But as we entered only the second “Reba” of summer tour, that sting didn’t last but for a second. As the band precisely played the first half of the song, they were on the same page as they took the dive for blissful waters. Featuring to-die-for phrasing and soloing by Trey, while the entire band wove a bed of silk beneath him, Phish crafted a stunning take on their classic song; one of the top versions played since they’ve been back this era. And as they slammed into the jam’s ending, they dripped out the other side with Little Feat’s “On Your Way Down.” The exclamation point on this wide-eyed opening set came is a far-more-dynamic-than-usual “Antelope.” Lacing the intro with intricate exchanges and “On Your Way Down Teases,” the band seemed primed to tear the piece to shreds. Coming out of the gate with his refined leads of summer, Trey began slaughtering the jam early as Mike responded with booming bass licks. Fishman’s laid-back, driving, and ever-changing beats anchored this version as Page cranked out piano comps in what I consider to be the most impressive “Antelope since Utica’s next-level escapade. And when the band stepped off the stage for setbreak, they had just finished a spectacular set of music filled with mind-numbing interplay—and darkness hadn’t even fallen on Columbia, Maryland.

6.11.11 (Brian Ferguson)

Using “Birds” to ignite the second set (just like its placement last Saturday in Cleveland) this time, instead of bursting into “Possum” upon its conclusion, the band made the much more exciting move into ‘Tweezer.” Stepping into a pimped-out ride, Trey laid back with minimalist leads while Mike and Page stepped out front with prominent ideas. Moving slowly through gooey textures and organically turning to the a soaring, guitar-led peak, though the jam certainly hit the spot, one might have imagined it getting a bit more creative in such a central position in the show (and half-way through tour). But nonetheless, the band tastefully toyed within the song’s boundaries and segued nicely into “Horse > Silent.” Their experimental jams were yet to come.

6.11.11 G.Lucas)

When the band dropped the second “Waves” of tour, anyone who’s been following along had to think back to Bethel’s opening night odyssey. The band, once again, seemed set for takeoff into one of their most intricate and open-ended jams, but when the time came to launch—instead—they switched into an awkwardly-placed “Chalk Dust;” a decision that seemed a bit dubious. But letting the Saturday night rock vibe flow, the band combined “Chalk Dust” with “Rock and Roll” in an adrenalized, central portion of the set. When the time came to leave the Velvet Underground’s rock textures behind, however, the first experiment of the night commenced. Drifting though a brief segment of melodic and uplifting music, the band soon began sculpting an avant-garde and abstract piece of psychedelia. Pushing the envelope to the extreme through this segment, at the show, I wondered if the band was on the same page throughout the jam. And after listening back, I’m still wondering. Worthy for its extreme risk taking, Phish got into some bizarre—truly out-there—music, and some parts certainly sound more coherent than others.

MPP Official Print (Taylor)

Passing through the mellow interlude of “Albuquerque,” the band got right back to their risk-taking in the highlight of the set—”Piper.” Again taking their playing into uncharted waters, this time everything flowed a hell of a lot better. After crushing the song’s breakneck stylings with notably connected playing, when the band veered from their linear path, things got nutty. Page and Trey exchanged ideas over a tight and chaotic pocket, with Mike throwing down huge bass patterns beneath Red’s venomous lines. As Trey stepped back, offering effects and rhythm chops, Mike powerfully took over the lead as Page accompanied him out front with heavily tweaked—then smoothed out—textures. Stepping into the abstract realm for the second time in three songs, this time there was no doubt of the band’s connectedness and intent, and out of this centerpiece exploration, Phish wound seamlessly into “Velvet Sea.” Though the heavy psychedelia of the set had passed, the guys still had some love left to give. Merging a short but sweet “2001” with a crunchy “Faulty Plan,” the band threw down some slamming late-set music before punctuating the frame with a Page-centric “Suzy Greenberg.”

Phish carried a head of steam throughout the second set, dipping into grooves, abstract jams, ballads and rock songs to comprise a complete frame of Phish music. And when tacking on the smoking opening frame (which might outdo the second), the first night of Merriweather shaped up to be quite the show. Keep your seatbelts strapped through tommorrow night—same bat time, same bat channel!

I: Daniel Saw the Stone, AC/DC Bag, Ocelot, Access Me, Vultures, Wilson, Sand, Roses Are Free > Reba, On Your Way Down, Run Like an Antelope

II: Birds of a Feather, Tweezer > The Horse > Silent in the Morning, Waves > Chalk Dust Torture, Rock and Roll > Albuquerque, Piper > Wading in the Velvet Sea, Also Sprach Zarathustra > Stealing Time From the Faulty Plan, Suzy Greenberg

E: Show of Life, Tweezer Reprise

Tags: ,

754 Responses to “A Merriweather Massacre”

  1. c0wfunk Says:

    yeah setlist + title had me wondering too but then I realized – when did Miner ever give a bad review to a show w/ a reba, tweezer, and 2001 😉

    seriously though; halfway through vultures in set I ; this sounds like a scorcher. Glad to hear the crowd was fired up, mpp crowds the last few years have been a mixed bag, hopefully the new kids up there have finally gotten it 🙂

    I was getting happy messages from my sisters up there all night long, they seemed to have had a great time – though not the most discerning fans 🙂

  2. c0wfunk Says:

    add Daniel to my list of “missed it by 2 shows” songs.. one I’m still chasin.

  3. yematt Says:

    had an awesome time last night, a bit of a weird flow in the 2nd set but from a saturday night rock and roll affair it makes sense. 1st set was ridiculous.. they really had me going with a potential roses jam but i couldn’t let myself get too excited. reba was absolutely bliss for me, beautiful part of the night.

    some very interesting jamming in this rock and roll from last night. took a 5 minute video of it from the pit. rock and roll>albuquerque


  4. Lily Says:

    MPP lawn was raging last night-we hung with some cool non-chatty folks dead center, low. Amazing sound/lights. I really thought they were doing pink Floyd in the beginning of albequerque (not the first time that’s happened to me). Highlights definitely were Reba, sand, antelope, piper. Rock and roll got funky. Waves was a treat especially since we missed bethel1.

    Headed out to Baltimore for a day of laid back pre-show adventures. Strawberries are in peak-find a farmers market and get some! I’ll be in the ga pit tonight and may just maybe be holding a sign professing my growing adoration for page.

  5. DavenTheRaven Says:

    does anybody else love the new livephish.com emails. the structure is so much better

  6. shred Says:

    So they play every old school tune in Camden, Miner pans the show.
    Then in Mpp he loves the show despite a ton of bad songs played in the second set. Is miner a 14 year old girl that loves velvet sea and faulty? I don’t agree with most of his reviews. I would rather see Camden then Mpp1.

  7. c0wfunk Says:

    some serious rawk going down in this Wilson, nicely done. Pretty atypical shredding here from ole rusty

  8. yematt Says:

    kaya – I’ve got an extra code from last night if you still need it.

    yematt at gmail

  9. kayatosh Says:

    thanks, yematt. i’d love it. i got one for you if you need. emailing now.

  10. phloridaphan Says:

    Anybody need xtra parking pass for 6-15

  11. bearito Says:

    Glad you enjoyed the show Miner! That 2nd set did look a little scary on paper upon first glance. Longest 3.0 second set? Good to hear they took a few risks.

    Making some bane cupcakes for the southern run. Infusing raw coconut oil for the first time. We’ll see how it goes.

    “On your way down” is Toussaint song, right?

  12. c0wfunk Says:

    yeah on your way down is toussaint ; also covered by little feat

  13. bearito Says:

    Don’t think I’ve heard the LF version

  14. GoingSouth Says:

    Long time lurker, first time poster.

    First set was fantastic. Really got going at Vultures. I cannot stress how nice it is to NOT constantly be waiting for flubbed lines by Trey. He is playing so cleaning now, especially through the composed parts of pieces like Reba. Very, very good version.

    As Miner said, second set was all over the place, but incredibly enjoyable nonetheless. Birds was short, sweet, and strong. Tweezer was tons of fun (primed the crowd) and segued masterfully into Horse>Silent. From there, the set went up, down, up, down, but it was still tons of fun.

    This is my opinion, but I’ll throw it out there. I think the band is intentionally avoiding really long excursions into true psychedelia/ambient/lose-your-mind jamming. I would too if I were them. I would make the jams short, sweet, powerful, and then move on. Get in (way in, in the case of R&R), and get out before anyone on stage loses it. If I were Trey, I’d be hesitant to venture back to places that are so strongly tied to his past (read Coventry). He is lucky enough to have made it out the other side healthy and still doing what he loves. No need to revisit the past every night by playing an hour of melting music.

    Just my thoughts.

  15. c0wfunk Says:

    it’s on the extended version of waiting for columbus as a bonus track; also on a studio one too I think?

    Sand is really nicely done; awesome that Mike has shook that bassline almost entirely now. Great to hear this tune unfettered.

  16. c0wfunk Says:

    getting the word that the Taurus shattered spacetime last night during Tweezerprise. I can only imagine that in person Mike was already so Big on that tune I bet it was out of hand.

  17. butter Says:

    The thing about this type of juke box Phish, is it’s exiting because you don’t know which jam vehicle will blow up

    It’s like the jukebox is on shuffle and it’s a musical chairs game of which one will blow up

    Can’t believe Tweez, Piper, Waves and RnR in the same set

  18. c0wfunk Says:

    ‘and tweeprise gets full on like 6 hits of taurus
    mike started to step away and you could see trey spin around and motion “again again!”‘

  19. BrandonKayda Says:

    Antelope was definitely hot. I didn’t hear the subtlety of the Reba jam because I was in the pavilion for that song and the sound was rough. I don’t remember the Piper jam too well. Rock and Roll was brilliant.

    This may be a show I appreciate more on listen back than actually being there, which is weird. Just had trouble getting into it.

  20. bearito Says:

    Was hoping for a sand in either ALPHA, CLT, or RAL. I suppose it’s still very possible. Been really digging the last few.

    How was the Ocelot? Anything more than standard?

  21. c0wfunk Says:

    bk sometimes it’s just like that; you feel like you’re at or next to a show instead of In it.. Hard to put a finger on cuz sometimes it’s the best shows..

  22. c0wfunk Says:

    Ocelot was pretty straight forward 3rd song ocelot keep the groove rolling standard fare we’ve come to expect from what I heard.

  23. bearito Says:

    I thought the Pav’s were the only place to be @ MPP – Sounded rough? Too loud? Phasey?

  24. c0wfunk Says:

    hm nice to hear Trey smoothly playing these Roses riffs .. sounds like he went back and shedded this one out a bit.

    Mellifluous throughout; smoothness; confidence; this is what we have come to expect from phish 3.1

  25. butter Says:

    It’s intesting BK, in this instant sbd era, being able to review what we missed so soon

Leave a Reply