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

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754 Responses to “A Merriweather Massacre”

  1. Robear Says:

    Butters still on west coast time. Plus the pre game jitters. Good luck sleeping!

  2. 20 Minute Halley's Says:

    I was hoping to see a 20 Minute Halley’s tonight, though I saw a cardboard sign hoping to engage the band in a 40 Minute Bouncin…no lie! I look forward to Miner’s review, this one just smoked!

  3. butter Says:

    ha ha, supp Robear

    plus i havent puffed since i’ve been here, inlaws have alarmed doors that announce which door opened.. plus my stuff’s all sealed nicely and wasnt trying to skunk spray their house on the first night

    now tomorrow morn, thats another story

  4. Robear Says:

    Halleys, y r u missing the southern cross part deux?

  5. Robear Says:

    I know that story, butter……

  6. 20 Minute Halley's Says:

    @Butter, I thought to myself, stop lurking and engage…it was just a matter of a good name, I think it always is!

  7. 20 Minute Halley's Says:

    Work, work, work, though I think I just talked my girlfriend in to Super Ball, on her Birthday!? What! (<– Fishman yelling) Just goes to show the mountains a solid Phish show can move!

  8. Robear Says:

    Good compromise my man. I’m looking forward to the ATL stream, big time.

  9. BrandonKayda Says:

    Man tomorrow is going to suck. I’m exhausted. Almost finished with Slaughterhouse Five though. Have like 104 pages left.

    Tonight was really fun.

  10. 20 Minute Halley's Says:

    Currently I am over the covers, next to the girlfriend (whose passed out) in a hotel in Baltimore. Just downloaded the last four shows, updated the Ipod for the ride home, and I might start listening soon, cannot wait for the car ride home tomorrow. I do not see sleep coming any time soon! Thank goodness for the extended check out!

  11. butter Says:

    hoping selling festi tix is a motivator, to let the animal out of the cage for the last 5

    going to try and sleep, c yall in the morn

  12. 20 Minute Halley's Says:

    That stream is looking more and more enticing. I am currently still letting the neurons settle to rest in my head, and healing war wounds of a slightly melted face! I think the boys nestled in my head and widdled a groove like some welcome pest or virus! It started in 1994, but occasionally I relapse (every show) and conjur new ways to stay on tour, even at 30 YOA.

  13. BrandonKayda Says:

    I’m trying to figure out if there is a point to getting 4 hours of sleep. I could just stay up for the rest of the night then sleep after school tomorrow.

  14. 20 Minute Halley's Says:

    Sleep well brother, dream of the reality that was today!

  15. 20 Minute Halley's Says:

    All nighter school style is simple! Now a days, work days have to be taken off! First off too far a ride, second, too long a ride!

  16. 20 Minute Halley's Says:

    Hope you figure out the best solution, BK, I’m signing off!

  17. BrandonKayda Says:

    Legit segue from Wolfman’s->Boogie

    This is sick!

  18. DaNcInG fOoL Says:

    BK you have to wake up at 6am for school???

  19. BrandonKayda Says:

    5:30 actually, but yeah.

    I also have to memorize a poem tonight, which I’ve totally started on. No worries though.

    Ah love, let us be true to one another, etc…

  20. DaNcInG fOoL Says:

    Ha why so early? That’s crazy

  21. BrandonKayda Says:

    Because I’m an idiot and I don’t want my dad to think I’m going to be late.

    Busy week ahead.

    Finals/last day of school on Tuesday, West Side Story rehearsal Wednesday, Driver’s permit Thursday, then next Tuesday/Wednesday/Thursday West Side rehearsal.

  22. DukeOfLizards Says:

    Three hours from raging First Tube at Merriweather Post to in bed in northern NJ. The age of miracles indeed.

    Glad you had a blast BK.

    Until next time, tip your waitresses, and whatever you do… well, you know the rest.

    Duke out.

  23. alf Says:

    bk – you were at my table then…. if you had a light blue shirt on, then i saw ya talking to H 😉

    great night. steam was pretty bad ass i gotta say. great first set – again.

    lily – great story!! lotta BBers in the pit tonight

    water wheel was a challenge – outgoing is the last thing that describes me, and being at the table requires more or less the exact opposite mindset/persona i usually have at shows – but at times it was so much fun, and i cant wait to do it again. even saw a girl i went to school with years ago who stopped by. and i must say kicking out mad dance moves from the booth while the vendors across the way stare at you is quite enjoyable.

    stopped for the night halfway to the moon… i mean halfway to home. sucks to be heading north and not south. alumni obviously is tuesday’s opener……. and in my absence alferatta gets a 20 minute ghost 😯

  24. BrandonKayda Says:

    Yeah that was me. He was a really nice guy.

  25. alf Says:

    random thoughts while i wind down from the show and drive:

    thought the gumbo halleys was pretty funny – the ‘former glory’ portion of the show

    lot of firsts for me over the last 4 (buried, lonesome, jesus, steam tonight)

    put alaska in set 1 and JJLC in set 2

    sanity was sort of fitting to end my leg 1 – i was questioning my sanity in camden

    soundcheck was ginseng, and a slowed down funky bitch, followed by fish tooling around by himself for like 20 minutes. at one point he was playing the weekapaug drum beat, so i started bracing myself for another mike’s early

    for butters sake, hope tuesday’s possum is in the first set!

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