No Flow, But Good to Go

6.18.11 - Raleigh, NC (John Crouch)

On Saturday night in Raleigh, Phish pieced together a show that didn’t necessarily add up to more than the sum of its parts—but many of its parts were quite impressive. Highlighted by an eerie and abstract exploration of “Split Open and Melt,” the second set was broken up by random songs placed in between each mini-jam sequence, a format that eliminated any overall flow to the frame. But in a set that featured ups and downs and was generally all over the place, the band played still found plenty of time for engaging improvisation.

Official Raleigh Print (J.Helton)

Opening the second half of the show with a short but sweet “Twist,” Phish got into some serious interplay as Trey ripped off a series of staccato leads amidst a jam that felt like it had the makings of something more. But instead of pushing into the unknown, the band wrapped up the tight set-opener and followed with “Rift”—so much for flow. And as the third song of the set, Trey chose an incredibly mellow route, dusting off “Prince Caspian” for the first time since tour’s opening night in Bethel. But instead of rocking out the anthemic piece, Trey laid back, using delicate licks rather than a crushing solo. As a result, the band sailed into a cerebral version that melted—unfinished—into spacious and ambient improv that found its way to near silence before merging with “Esther.” The combinations of songs was successful and seamless, if not a bit mellow for its second-set placement. When “Esther” concluded, Trey began to adjust a second microphone, leading many fans to believe a guest appearance was imminent. But in the surprise of the evening, the band tore into Jane’s Addiction’s “Been Caught Stealing” for the first time since 12.28.1998. Running an effect through the second mic to alter his voice to a high-pitched squeal like Perry Farrell’s, Trey added a new element to the cover since we’d last seen it nearly 300 shows ago. Though an exciting bustout, the song seemed completely out of place following “Esther” in the middle of the second set—another bizarre speedbump in its contour.

6.18.11 (J. Crouch)

The second jam sequence of the half came next in “Piper > My Friend, My Friend.” Wasting no time getting creative with “Piper,” the band launched into a dynamic conversation within the piece’s breakneck textures, and when the band broke things down, the music became increasingly interesting. Mike, Trey and Page joined forces in a whole-band effort that featured equitable contributions, all the while remaining glued to the beat science of Jon Fishman. Responding to each other creatively and with negligible reaction time, “Piper” took on an adventurous trajectory, though when the band seemed to be delving deeper, Trey had other ideas as he started up”My Friend.” One random second-set call was followed by another with a generic run through of “Kill Devil Falls.” By this point, the second half had lost any sense of cohesion. But in a set-saving decision, the band kicked into “Split.”

Focusing their exploratory spirit on a song already known for reaching crazy places, last night, Phish gradually built “Split” into a haunting and hypnotizing show-highlight. Taking the jam far off the deep end, the band forged through several stages of distinctly slow, dissonant and abstract playing en route to a menacing trip through the dark side. Displaying all sorts of patience in this jam, Trey blended into a four-part, psychedelic symphony that engulfed the pavilion with its ever-deepening textures. While the band had no problem getting into this gorgeous, musical lunacy, they did have a bit of trouble getting out. They had brought the jam to such an abstract plane—at one point, with no band members playing at all over a drone soundscape—that they couldn’t quite find their way back from the netherworld into the “Split’s” final build. Getting a bit lost in this attempt, the guys finally bailed on the ending of the song, popping weakly into its final riffs. But anytime the band can’t find their way back to earth because they’ve traveled so far into the cosmos, that’s one kind blemish I can handle every single time.

6.18.11 (John Crouch)

As if Trey put his internal iPod on shuffle last night, the show ended innocuously with “Golgi” and “First Tube” before an encore of “Good Times, Bad Times brought things home. The first set, however, did carry a bit more cohesion. Opening up with two bustouts—presumably from signs—in “Cars, Trucks, Buses” and Frank Zappa’s “Peaches En Regalia” (a song Trey just couldn’t handle) things got off an running in a hurry. The other highlight of the set came in a “Halley’s Comet” jam that was almost let loose. In a strange case of second guessing himself, Trey allowed the band to jam forth from the song’s normal break, getting into some infectious rhythms in a hurry. But before the piece got a chance to get anywhere significant—a jam that Trey, himself, allowed to blossom—Big Red performed a back-alley abortion on the the growing piece, inexplicably starting “46 Days” with his band fully immersed in a groove. We can ask “Why?” until the cows come home, but sometimes there are just no answers. A smoking, old-school sounding “Antelope” closed the opening set with a quick-paced exchange that underlined the band’s current connectedness.

6.18.11 (J.Crouch)

Though I may never listen to this show from start to finish, I’ll certainly revisit the highlights, as Phish had it going last night—though they displayed it in spurts. While far from a face-melting epic, there was still plenty of standout music within Phish’s penultimate show of June to keep everyone happy. An odd show—no doubt—the unexpected, however, comes in many forms, and last night the second set was anything but predictable. But with an arsenal of heavy artillery armed and ready for tonight, something tells me we’ll walk away from nTelos Pavilion slightly more wide-eyed than Walnut Creek. As I gaze across the water towards the locale of the intimate, 7,000-person tour-closer, a blowout lingers in the air. See you on the flip side.

I: Cars Trucks Buses, Peaches en Regalia, AC/DC Bag, Guyute, Possum, Halley’s Comet > 46 Days, The Divided Sky, The Ballad of Curtis Loew, Run Like an Antelope

II: Twist, Rift, Prince Caspian > Esther, Been Caught Stealing, Piper > My Friend, My Friend, Kill Devil Falls, Split Open and Melt, Golgi Apparatus, First Tube

E: Good Times Bad Times

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708 Responses to “No Flow, But Good to Go”

  1. Cheard Says:

    Good call with Charlotte Jam> Ghost on vimeo imo

  2. cal Says:

    A lot of sloppy Trey moments but not enough to kill the buzz. He was all over the place all night. Unpredictable is an understatement. That’s how I like my Phish.

  3. c0wfunk Says:

    Yeah we enjoyed that when it went up last night. Nice to relive

  4. SillyWilly Says:

    Happy fathers day!

    I’m really excited to hear Split. Split jams are my favorite.

    Enjoy your Sunday, kids!

  5. Cheard Says:

    Spinning Forbin>Mockingbird from CLT again… totally solid. Any tapers post full songs from last night anywhere?

  6. voopa Says:

    Melt.

  7. Kevin Says:

    Looks like we’re in for a stormy show tonight.

  8. JP Says:

    bottom line – not much room for (serious) compliants with a late set 2 so&m that goes exploratory

    4 shows ’til the gorge

    listening to forbin’s yesterday, all i could think of was a super pumped 9 year old girl with her dad, questing across the country together and getting fav songs/gamehendge love – so cool, love that story

    happy dad’s day – wonder what the band will do as a tip o’ the hat? brother makes sense, but … again? bill bailey?

    hoping for a forceful, close the loop on bethel 1 and 2 type ascension to tie a bow on leg 1

  9. vegas wolfmans Says:

    That’s one strange-looking setlist. Anytime a review has the words ‘science’ and ‘Jon Fishman’ in the same sentence, weird shit MUST be going down.

    I believe the stage is set for them to drop a bomb tonight. Fingers crossed.

    Happy Fathers Day- especially to TIII and other first-timers!

    PEACE

  10. butter Says:

    my daughter and I strolled up to venue and bought uncovered pavilion tickets right before show time, from the box office

    Cars Trucks Buses kicked things off. After Pages strong opening solo, it was Reds turn. He kicked things off with some mini machine gun, flamenco type of soloing. Trey’s tone has been much warmer since Charlotte. Check Divided Sky for another example of this. Peaches didn’t really leave much of an impression, and I will take Miners word that Trey couldn’t handle it. (haven’t listened back to any of last night)

    AC/DC bag contained some fresh Mike and Red interplay, giving it a bit of extra sauce, and flirting briefly with the “plinko” sound. From here everything was played well, but straight up until Halley’s. These minijams are sweet but a bit confusing. Don’t get me wrong its a 100 times better than a blue balls Halley’s, but after Anastasio put in all the work of breaking free – using similar licks as he did at Bethel – Forcedy 6 days. Still Halley’s had a jam, so halulula

    a strong lope closed an average first set

    Twist featured slick type 1 interplay between Mike and Red, initiated by the strong Mike leads we’ve gotten used to in recent Twists. Sure i was, not thrilled when Trey came in with the opening of Rift, but i must say, the entire back of the pav around me blew up when they heard the old school title track. i looked at it as combing newer school with old school.

    Caspian was next

    “And the children in the fields all sowing seed and chaffing wheat”

    after this line, i picked up my daughter and held her and just cryed tears of joy

    my daughter is the best tour companion eva (no offense bigjig 😉 )

    Caspian outro was quite heady and flowed seamlessly into Esther

    the Caspian outro felt long. was stoked to see an introspective section of the show with Caspian > Esther AND not have it derail the show or suck energy out permanently

    Been Caught Stealing was used perfectly to pick the energy back up after the slower segment. from up on the lawn i could not tell if there was a guest on stage singin or not. i could hear the high pitch voice but would later confirm that it was an effect.

    at this point i was fully ready for a Sat night special to commence, but kudo’s to the boys, for going back for Piper and a defining Split

    Piper had reached IT, that golden space we seek, when Trey came in with MFMF. in typical 3.0 fashion, the sting didn’t last long as MFMF was slayed, with creative Mike and Fish. a very hot pocket.

    Kill Devil Falls featured blistering rock and roll. i’m digging this type of rock and roll much more than, lets say the arena rock of 46 days. Also was amazed at how much energy was mustered up in this set after such a slow section of Caspian > Esther. another huge area of improvement for 3.0, being able to alter the course of a set in real time.

    The highlight of the show came next

    Split was easily the darkest most demented jam of 3.0 i’ve seen

    easily best Split of 3.0 and i said yesterday, i dont like to do cage matches

    the jam got flipped to major, but not for long …before the darkness ensued

    mind blowing

    thats what it must feel like to have your brain operated on by aliens while your awake

    it really didn’t matter much to me that they couldn’t come crashing back to the Split theme. my face was melted off after that jam, and they could have just walked off the stage and i would deduct nothing from the show

    honestly, after that Split, i took the kid to the bathroom, went and made my ww donation and listened to Golgi, First Tube, GTBT from the sidelines

    no more music could permeate my freshly operated on brain

    just so much creativity in the second set

  11. JP Says:

    was hoping that the bag last night would go way out a la boise 99 – with the peaches intro etc – has their been an out of the box bag in 3.0?

  12. albert walker Says:

    Hey cow

    i believe wilson is a video release cuz it has a nice unique shreddy metal jam that compliments the Sand jam quite nicely

  13. voopa Says:

    Right on butter, thanks!

  14. albert walker Says:

    Cinci was similar split that had trouble coming back to earth from the dissonance

  15. gavinsdad Says:

    Popping in to say:

    Thank you mr miner

    Happy Fathers day to the many BB dads. You guys make it look (sound?) easy.

    And finally nice work lately butter on your recaps. Great recall and detail.

    Enjoy the tour closer to all of you that are there. Elevated playing with lots of special sauce this tour punctuated by the “big ones”. If that doesn’t keep us chasing nothing will.

  16. win butler Says:

    @cOw, that was a jammy Wilson, no?

  17. JP Says:

    7 : 2 (.5 + 1.5 in charlotte) = new possum to ghost ratio leg 1

  18. Robear Says:

    CTB sounded great. Peaches sounded fine from outside. Miner ball busting?

  19. DukeOfLizards Says:

    Happy father’s day, BB!

    Butter putting on an absolute life clinic right now. Love it.

    Quick round of golf with the pops and the baby bro, followed by locking myself in a dark room and spinning the Split everyone seems to be enjoyinh.

  20. BrandonKayda Says:

    I kind of wish Trey would have more defined playing in the first part of the Split jam…it sounds less like controlled dissonance and more like just kind of sloppy playing in some parts.

    But when they get into that evil space around 9:00 the jam soars

  21. c0wfunk Says:

    Awesome butter thanks!

  22. c0wfunk Says:

    Yeah yer right guys wilson had they trey tapping etc..

  23. Al Says:

    @Butter – was it you who gave me the hint how to download the phish videos from vimeo??!! Thanks man!! I finally made it. Google “clipgrab” and you’ll soon have those great videos on your iPod or convert to DVD. Cool.

  24. BrandonKayda Says:

    6:30 where Mike and Trey connect is awesome though.

    Trey’s playing from like 7:56 to 9:06 is where he sounds kind of off to my ears. But I could just be missing the point.

  25. Kevin Says:

    Nice writeup, Butter — sounds like a great time.

    I took my (then) 2 year old daughter on the summer 2000 tour and she had a ton of fun. We’d stay in the far back of the lawn where there was lots of space and no sketchy shit — 1st set would be spent playing with balloons and glowsticks, and she’d sleep through setbreak and the 2nd set in her stroller. I have nice memories of that — plus we got to do fun kid stuff during the days.

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