A Safe Sunday Smoker

Merriweather - 6.12.11 Graham.Lucas)

Phish punctuated their weekend in the Mid-Atlantic with a show that boasted all sorts of energy, high-octane shredding, but only bubbled with legitimate creativity in select spots. The band’s straightforward smoker felt a bit safe on a mid-tour Sunday night in Columbia, and one would hope this is not a trend as we move into tour’s final leg in the South. Though last night’s second set featured molten guitar playing, the whole-band, however, took few risks in a show that felt like was going to blow up with so many exploratory vehicles waiting in the wings. Nonetheless, the band played a ripping show with a smooth second set to end their two-night stand at Merriweather, and most all fans left for home as happy as clams.

6.12.11 (Graham Lucas)

Kicking off the weekend’s final frame of music from out of left field, Phish dropped “Party Time” at the same venue they debuted the song two years ago. And when Phish slipped into “Crosseyed” out of the New Orleans funk stylings, one had to imagine we had been cleared for takeoff. But following an all-too-common trend, “Crosseyed”—though balls-to-the-wall intense and laced with snarling guitar shreddery—remained wholly inside the box and contained little musical adventure. Most people will love this version for its high-octane textures, but as the band has now started to use “Crosseyed” as a setlist-strengthener instead of a jam vehicle, the whole experience felt a little tame to me. We all know Trey can melt faces with his guitar playing, but the reason I go to Phish is for the unknown, and there wasn’t a hell of a lot of that in last night’s show.

Crawling out of a brief abstract tail to the jam, the band broke into their second-ever version of “Steam”—a song that holds limitless potential. Slightly reworked with a refrain of “Your souls joins mine” as they drips into the jam, Kuroda also reworked his visual effects, covering the stage in smoke every time the band sang the word “steam,” and then totally blanketing the scene in a cloud of smoke as the improvisation began. Taking the slow and sinister groove on a far more developed ride than Cleveland’s debut, “Steam” provided one of the set’s unquestionable high points. Once the band settles into this song, watch out, good things are bound to happen. Returning to the final verse, the band then built out of it with an increasingly menacing soundscape that turned into “Light” before reaching truly creative realms.

6.12.11 (Graham Lucas)

And with a head full of steam rolling into “Light,” one figured a cosmic exploration was just around the corner. But once again, the band chose the more straightforward path as the version was completely anchored by Trey’s intricate guitar solo instead of any whole-band experiment. Taking the structured jam for a ride, when Phish finally settled down into a more earnest four-part conversation, it was totally sublime for the minute or so it lasted before “The Wedge” started sequence of standalone songs that also included “Alaska” and “Halfway to the Moon.”

Aside from “Steam,” the other highlight of the second set came in “Harry Hood.” A song that has stepped it up another level each and every tour of this era, last night the band burst into the jam with a notable energy as Trey took command with gorgeous phrases comprised of several shorter notes. Playing with a four-minded passion, the band crushed this jam and then popped out directly into the final verse. The band’s interplay within—and Trey’s guitar narration—was outstanding. “Number Line”—a song the band is pushing a bit too hard right now—slid in after “Hood,” proving once again that it has no natural slot in a Phish set. A noodly and uneventful version led to a raucous “Loving Cup” closer.

6.12.11 (G.Lucas)

And the band concluded the show in the same way they started it—by responding to audience signs. Playing “Sanity” to start a triple-encore in response to a front-rower’s sign, Trey had similarly kicked off the show with three songs that were picked from a forest of signs in the GA pit—“Buried Alive,” “Lonesome Cowboy Bill,” and “Ha Ha Ha.” The improvisational highlights of the first set came in an unusually funked-out “Boogie On” that came out of “Wolfman’s” and a stellar version of “Bathtub Gin” that provided, arguably, the most impressive jaunt of the show.

In tours of lore, Phish’s playing got more creative in nature as shows passed, but this past weekend at Camden and Merriweather represented a step backwards in the overall risk-taking that has graced this summer, and out of three shows, we are really left with only two extraordinary, innovative jams—Camden’s “Disease” and Merriweather’s “Piper.” The envelope-pushing improv that was so present throughout the first half of tour dropped off a bit this weekend for large doses of high-powered rock and roll. Let’s hope that when we get to the south, the shows are less about fun entertainment and more seriously centered on pushing musical boundaries. Will the band reconnect with the type of jamming that has made this leg such a success, or will their pioneering creativity of June peter out? Only time will tell…

I: Buried Alive, Lonesome Cowboy Bill, Ha Ha Ha, Sample in a Jar, The Divided Sky, Wolfman’s Brother -> Boogie On Reggae Woman, Gumbo, Halley’s Comet > Bathtub Gin, Jesus Just Left Chicago, Character Zero

II: Party Time, Crosseyed and Painless > Steam > Light > The Wedge, Alaska, Halfway to the Moon, Harry Hood, Backwards Down the Number Line, Loving Cup

E: Sanity, Makisupa Policeman, First Tube


895 Responses to “A Safe Sunday Smoker”

  1. Robear Says:

    Good stuff people!

    Just got back from kid softball game.

    G’dad, there was good, great, magical, and even average Phish, before this site. You knew the difference.

    Halloween /95ed.
    Wished that third set didn’t have to end.

  2. halcyon Says:

    Evening folks

    Spent the evening with my slf as it was her bday. Cooked her a dinner and dessert and we hung out with neighbors. They went to Snowmass Chili and Brew Fest a week or two ago. Derek Trucks and Susan Tedeschi were playing there. They hung out with Derek Trucks for a little while and he held their daughter, and just kicked it. They said they were super laid back and mellow. Pretty cool.

    Reading back on some of today’s convo, and agree with many of you, and share your sentiments. That being said, whether I am listening on the headphones, or in concert, when in the moment, it is the best concert I will be at. Until the next show comes around :).

    Won’t catch the stream tomorrow unfortunately, but hope there is something for everyone. Jams, #lines, Alaskas, and rawkers 😛

  3. sumodie Says:

    No Alpha streams here -but sure hope all have an excellent show in person and on the couch

    Jumping on and off tour multiple times has been more disorienting than expected -seems like Bethel was eons ago. And now my gears are grinding in order to hop back on tour again

    Resistance is futile

  4. Robear Says:

    Realized no stream for me either. Kid stuff both days. Can I order and watch later or is it live only?

    Anyone have a PNC 1 dwnld code?

  5. Robear Says:

    Sumo, when’s your next stop?

  6. voopa Says:

    Happy Birthday, Mrs. halcyon!

    Robear, come on down.

  7. voopa Says:

    Bring the fam.

  8. Henry Says:

    Sometimes I feel SBD’s really disconnect me from the show. A show I may feel is average, or “flat” through a crisp, crystal clear soundboard will sound much more engaging when I can pair it with the energy and feel of the crowd more, something that is more accurately expressed with a good aud. Some of the shows and jams of the past weekend I have enjoyed much more in AUD form, and i truly think hearing the crowd makes all the difference. Every phish show is not the universal greatness of a live album (which sbds essentially are) and hearing how the crowd and music go together can really help put perspective on a show.

    I will say for the best jams (DTE dwd, bethel waves, etc) I prefer the crisp sbd

    Just my .02

  9. Little Buddy Says:

    R.I.P Penelope Kerr Frontuto

    My beautiful mom in law fell into a coma Monday morning and passed away at 3:20 am Tuesday with a peaceful smile on her face. One of the most amazing people I’ve been blessed to have in my life. The wife and I flew down from western NY barely making our connecting flight in Charlotte to get down to Daytona and see her before she passed on to the other side. Appreciate life for it is fleeting.

  10. DavenTheRaven Says:


  11. angryjoggerz Says:

    Hey y’all, sat down and actually did a continuous mix last night, posted below. Been pulling songs for this one for about a month, trying to get that spaced out, hazey, bassey, gooey sound. Very hand picked contemporary electronic stuff that often sounds more like a band or something else – like pop music on mushrooms. Enjoy.


    Dj Junior D – Astral Sofa
    June 2011. Dj mix.

    Don’t Summarize My Summer Eyes – Bibio
    Being Without You – Matthewdavid
    Metagonist – FaltyDL
    Light the Way – Africa Hitech
    International (feat Dogbite) – Matthwedavid
    2 Hypercolor ADD – Max Mool
    Midnight Snacks – Young Montana?
    Melting3 – Flying Lotus
    Limit to Your Love – James Blake
    Taco Delay – Samiyam
    Fallen Arches – Tokimonsta
    Jameila (Dj Koze remix) – Caribou
    Panama – Boxcutter
    Melorr – Tropics
    Pointing Fingers – Martyn & Mike Slott
    Red Light – Floating Points

    Spaced out summertime.

  12. angryjoggerz Says:

    Sorry to hear that Little Buddy – much love and strength to you and your family.

  13. Beantownboy Says:

    For all the Luongo Haters out there a must read

    Go B’s!

  14. Dorn76 Says:

    I expected the boys to come out of the gate a little anxious and impatient this Tour, maybe a little rusty and overeager to please, like usual. It wouldn’t have surprised me if it took a number of shows to get in the swing of things, move away from setlist based shows, and produce some patient jamming. But the opposite has happened, and it seems we experienced the most patience and smoothness those first few nights in Bethel, bleeding over to the next few Midwestern shows, and basically petering out after the Mansfield RnR. Weird, no?

  15. SS Says:

    i loved both nights. you’re picking apart the shows like they are acts of congress. dude, they’re phish shows. have phun.

  16. Esteban Says:

    @angryjoggerz thanks for the mix… Will spin this weekend at one of the shows.

  17. lily Says:

    I have to add (a bit late to the party here) that I thought MPP weekend was incredible. I adore open type 2 jamming and thought Bethel was the goods, please don’t get me wrong, but MPP 1 and 2 were just full on dance parties. Sometimes that type of show hits the spot. It was especially evident on Sunday night that the band was having a blast – warmed my heart to see it. I really respect (and usually agree with) Minor’s point of view. Sunday night, however, was one of the best of my life – and not just because Trey took my Page’s House sign and Page loved it! Pics over on Phish’s facebook page…still basking in that glow…

  18. Glenn Says:

    Dear lily, thank you, I share your feelings. I would have loved some deep space, but I don’t get to go on the road, so I do couch tour, and actually being there for those two shows was such a visceral experience that just left me glowing. Love what you’ve got because life is precious and all too brief.

  19. Guyute711 Says:

    In the house fuckers. We saw whole tour and were ready to rage.

  20. Guyute711 Says:

    Tv break

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