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

Tags: ,

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

  1. JeffieM Says:

    why?????????

  2. DukeOfLizards Says:

    Annnnnd there it is.

  3. plord Says:

  4. BrandonKayda Says:

    #Line’d.

    The intro to this song sucks. Sorry.

  5. jdub Says:

    My wife just goes “another # Line?”, and she doesn’t even follow Phish.

  6. Lycanthropist Says:

    you guys i hope you didnt miss what happened right there

    that went early into space and explored some great things…

    ….

    during a time when we would usually be hearing suzy, 2001 or some other such crowd pleaser.

    i actually really like this placement

  7. Bwana Says:

    fitting — theme of the 1st leg for sure (#lining jams)

  8. JeffieM Says:

    “maybe they’ll say fuck it and book 6 more shows to lead us into SBIX.”

    Two in Blacksburg and Two in Madison.

    Where are the other two, Silly?

  9. plord Says:

    Set closer. It does have a big peak. But Fuuuuuuuck. This was going down as an epic set even in spite of the distinct lack of ->s.

  10. DukeOfLizards Says:

    Where are the other two, Silly?

    MSG, obviously.

  11. SillyWilly Says:

    he just loves this song

  12. mitch Says:

    its so damn jarring. really it needs a diff intro.

  13. jdub Says:

    It did for sure Lycan, can;t wait to hear that tomorrow. Some delicate music there. And I love # Line. But….

  14. Corey Says:

    What!?!?!? Now that musical move has me genuinely concerned about Trey’s approach to playing tunes. He’s ok, right?

  15. plord Says:

    I did like the sharp left that Light took, albeit briefly.

  16. mitch Says:

    MSG, obviously.

    ^q4t

  17. Lycanthropist Says:

    i dunno man i mean of course they could have gone longer, but it is late and they couldnt end in space…

    i dunno.

    i will take that light after the killer set that was delivered prior…

    and you know this is gonna smoke right here.

  18. BrandonKayda Says:

    I’m just kind of tired of this song cutting off jams @Lycan. Although the Blossom version was nice.

    The Light did have some nice parts in it though, but why not let it breathe a bit?

  19. SillyWilly Says:

    @JeffieM

    probably should ship a couple West Coast

    poor kids.

  20. Lycanthropist Says:

    i mean i hear you guys..

    i dunno, i am just amped from this whole set..

    that didnt really punch me out that bad.. it seemed to me that they were all ready to move into something else..

  21. DukeOfLizards Says:

    Trey got a little ahead of himself. Tried to kick down a Sally without enough time left in the set, leading to a couple of ham-handed segues to get to the set-closing Numberline.

    What can you do. Light still got somewhere really interesting really quickly. I still endorse this show, brought to you by our partners at Beach Burger.

  22. SillyWilly Says:

    Light hasn’t done a whole lot during this first leg

    kind of interesting

    but a lot of kids were hoping they’d use something else to jam with

  23. Corey Says:

    I’d rather hear BIODTL instead of BDTNL.
    Crosseyed through Light sounded thoughtful, inventive.

  24. DukeOfLizards Says:

    Very bizarre that Trey seems intent on always forcing segues into the songs with the most jarring intros (#Line, Light, Horse, etc.).

  25. BrandonKayda Says:

    All my friends, come waiting in the fast food line…

    To close out “Beach Burger 2011” with style…

Leave a Reply