Equitable Exchanges

6.18.11 (John Crouch)

Phish punctuated their opening leg of summer with a tour-closing show at nTelos Pavilion that displayed musical dominance from beginning to end. Everything the band touched turned to gold last night, as they greeted the intimate audience with a plethora of four-part conversations in a show whose improvisational creativity and quality song selection never stopped. Finishing tour with a stellar three-night finale, the band left everyone in Portsmouth, Virginia, with a night of top-level playing and outstanding exchanges in a show that flowed beautifully from start to finish.

Official Portsmouth Print (Pollock)

As the band took the stage for the final time in June, they dropped a bomb, opening with “Harpua” for the first time since the 10.20.89! It turned out that the elusive bustout was a vehicle to bring the band’s four fathers on stage for Father’s Day in the most comedic fashion. When the song reached its classic narrative between Jimmy and his father about the fate of his cat, Posternutbag, one by one, each of the band member’s fathers came onstage to narrate part of the conversation. Dr. Jack McConnell delivered the line of the night altering the climactic lyric to the deadpan “Your, goddamn cat died.” A quality start to a special evening, the familial opening continued with the third consecutive Father’s Day version of “Brother,” each time featuring the band member’s kids jumping in a tub with each other while the band played—and laughed—behind them.

But when the family fun concluded, the band got musically serious very quickly with a shredding exploration of “Down With Disease.” Taking the jam for its only first-set ride of tour, the band pushed the song into an adrenalized jam that included creative tangents within. Setting the tone of full-band interplay early on in the night with “Disease, the next no-brainer highlight of the set came a couple songs later in “Timber Ho.” A song that has popped off the stage each time the band has played it this summer, did so once again in one of its most creative outings of tour. Trey laid back allowing Mike and Page direct the onset of the jam, joining in later with refined and meticulous phrasing. Transforming the piece into a completely equitable conversation—something that took place all night long—the band was clearly listening to each other and responding efficiently, gathering musical momentum by the moment.

6.18.11 (John Crouch)

Following the danceable duo of “Wedge” and a particularly gooey “Moma Dance,” Phish debuted Bruce Springsteen’s “Thunder Road”—a song that graced so many of my high school mix tapes—in honor of The E Street Band’s saxophonist, Clarence Clemmons, who passed away the previous day. Though admittedly a bit shaky on the song, Trey told the audience they had quickly learned it out of love—and to be honest—I thought it was an amazing and emotional moment for Trey and so many of us that grew up listening to the Big Man’s passionate playing. Closing the set with “Tube,” “Alaska,” and “David Bowie,” the standout of the three emerged in the patient, four-minded exchange of the set-closer. Page stood out within this “Bowie” while helping steer course of the jam—a trend of recent days as his playing has been at the top of his game. The band’s attentiveness was again on display as they echoed, responded to, and danced around each other’s ideas with marksman-like precision. Typical of the many improvisational passages throughout the show, the band collaborated in the truest sense of the word during “Bowie,” sculpting one of several equitable excursions.

6.18.11 (J.Crouch)

And this type of jamming picked right back up after setbreak as Phish dropped into their third “Crosseyed” of June. This time, however, once the band annihilated the composed grooves of the song like a one-brained assassin, they pushed right beyond them, forging original territory that moved from aggressive playing into a darker experiment. Lingering in the jam’s sonic fallout, the band floated through space into “Walls of the Cave.” In centering the Round Room song in the second set for the first time since the post-hiatus era, Phish not added spice to their setlist, they also infused its jam with creativity for the first time in ages. Without leaving the “Silent Trees” textures, Trey played diverse leads over the driving rhythmic pocket as Page complimented him quite well on piano for the duration. A more honest conversation than the song’s usual guitar wankery, the new-era Phish breathed new life into the post-hiatus song that had turned quite dull by the time 2004 rolled around (with some obvious and notable exceptions.) “Walls” worked great in the second slot last night, and instead of returning to the song’s final lyrical reprise, the band took migrated into an ambient outro that bled beautifully into “Slave.”

Phish’s intimate communication was expressed powerfully in two wholly-divergent second set masterpieces—“Slave” and “Sand.” Touching on the divine and the demonic, though these highlights diverted in feel, they were united by their sublime and selfless jamming. The “Slave” carried a slower tempo than usual, providing each band member plenty of space to articulate his thoughts. What resulted is one of the most patient, emotional and soul-drenched versions of the song that we’ve heard in quite some time. Mike, Page, and Trey led the jam, collectively, and Fishman framed the musical portrait of catharsis. Then, following a “Fluffhead” that worked perfectly well within the set, and featured a gargantuan guitar peak, the band unveiled “Sand”—the show-stopping jam of the night.

6.18.11 (J.Crouch)

If Phish grooves get you off, sit back, crank this and bask in the bliss of this musical crack. Having featured several standout versions of “Sand” this leg, the band punctuated tour with—easily—the song’s most impressive outing of summer. Going utterly ballistic, Phish hopped into a vat of boiling rhythms and came out with one of the most infectious dance sessions of this era. Connecting like they were marionettes controlled by a universal puppeteer, the band played a version that—on playback—resembles a filthy and disgusting joke. Locking into original and cooperative patterns, the guys never hesitated in crafting one of the swankiest joyrides of the season. Trey turned towards distinctly jazzier leads before stepping outside the box with his offerings within the context of a completely original conversation. The band was grooving and they were grooving hard—so much so, that upon the ending of this  next-level jam, the band paused and broke back into the groove they had just left in a move that ignited the crowd into a frenzy.

6.18.11 (J.Crouch)

Slipping into a “Sneakin’ Sally” that moved into “Light” without much of a post-vocal jam, the band kept when the band reached the fork in the road in “Light,” they more than made up for it. Trey veered from his atonal soloing for a more delicate whole-band textures. Allowing their modern-era epic to breathe far more than most versions of summer, last night, the band dropped into a wholly segment of wholly surreal jamming out of “Light.”

The show—and tour—ended on the upbeat trifecta of a delicate “Number Line,” a smoking “Suzy Greenberg” set-closer, and a rocking “Julius” encore. Using these happier songs to resolve a largely ominous set, Phish balanced the tone of their improv well throughout set, and show. Catching fire once again following Alpharetta’s largely contained, webcasted affairs, Phish finished up a spectacular opening leg with three strong shows in a row—a great sign of things to come as we take a quick ten-day break before meeting up again at Watkins Glen. If this summer is going to progress from leg one to leg two in the way Summer of ’09 and ’10 did, boy, are we off to a spectacular start!

I: Harpua, Brother, Down with Disease, Back on the Train, Funky Bitch, Timber, The Wedge, The Moma Dance, Thunder Road*, Tube, Alaska, David Bowie

II: Crosseyed and Painless > Walls of the Cave > Slave to the Traffic Light, Fluffhead, Sand, Sneakin’ Sally through the Alley > Light > Backwards Down the Number Line, Suzy Greenberg

E: Julius

*debut, Bruce Springsteen, dedicated to Clarence Clemmons


(I’m taking a couple days off to get back to my family. I’ll be back…)

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1,905 Responses to “Equitable Exchanges”

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  1. P-dizzle Says:

    Thanks for the reviews! First

  2. btb Says:

    Thanks for the coverage Miner

  3. albert walker Says:

    can’t wait to spin this one

    I for one and quite impressed with leg 1 of this summer. there have been a few ups and downs and coming out swinging like they did in Bethel always creates an interesting dynamic as the tour comes back down to earth but I’ve never been more excited about what 3.0 can bring after this leg of tour

    Bethel – Crosseyed > Waves > Caspian
    Blossom – Sally
    DTE – DWD > Fluf > Bowie
    Charlotte – RnR > Ghost
    Cinci – Tweezer

    the peak jams of this leg were on such a higher level compared to fall. we may have not gotten quite as much meaty jamming as we wanted but when they did they went fuckin huge.

    when the setlist flows proper and Trey let’s things relax a bit this band is just slaying right now. who knows what leg 2 may bring.

    very excited for the custy ball. see ya’ll on the racetrack!

  4. fat bastard Says:

    what up btb and aw…saw my morning jacket fri night, they put on a good show. gotta love the auditorium theater. sounds like phish slayed another dragon last night.

  5. SillyWilly Says:

    I’m stoked for Leg 2.

    Going to spend the next 10 days catching up on listening.

    The ball will be big.

  6. Foul_Domain Says:

    Really enjoyed reading this review, Miner. I wish I would have stayed on the stream longer, but listening to a mediocre stream through laptop pc speakers just wasnt working.

    I might have get this sbd

    Morning all!

  7. nonoyolker Says:

    Show looks like a fitting closer – hope everyone had fun out there! Can’t wait to spin

    Miner, thanks again for all that you do. Hardest working guy in the community, much appreciated.

    Summer definitely had its ups and down, but the highlight list is robust to say the least. Very encouraging for leg 2.

  8. ohhphee Says:

    Spinning this show right now, as we speak. Going for the whole show flow on this one.
    Our last new Phish ’til the Ball. I am brimming with excitement for my first Phish of the year. It’s gonna be a wild ass weekend up in the finger lakes! Can’t wait.

  9. Lily Says:

    Hurts my heart that I missed this show but I’m getting pumped for the ball!

  10. Beantownboy Says:

    Nice review, Miner. Another review to end a stellar first leg.

    I threw on the IT dvd for the first time in years, last night, to celebrate the end of the tour. While the playing was sick and instantly took me back to those 3 days of epicness in Limestone, see Waves and Tower Jam, what really took me was the interview with the boys.

    Sure, you can see that Trey isn’t totally there and has glassy eyes, but the portion where they talk about their playing as being a conversation with each other and the audience reminded me that Trey understands what is possible. From Miner’s review it seems like the boys were finding that zone/feeling again, last night.

    Bottom line is cu$ty ball is gonna blow up.

  11. Esteban Says:

    I have a Raleigh DL code to trade for a Portsmouth code… email me at stephen dot devoid at gmail dot com

  12. lastwaltzer Says:

    Sounds like they capped this one off in style. Look forward to playing it back tonight.

    All in all this was a great first leg. A few of the MOST impressive sets and pieces of 3.0 were definitely laid out on the table. It will be real interesting to see what gets thrown together for the Ball. I’d imagine a week off is just enough time to relax and generate some new ideas.

    Should be good, eagerly awaiting.

  13. c0wfunk Says:

    no sign of a superball webcast is there?

    nice review .. Glad the #line suzie julius ender didn’t cast too much of a shadow 😉

  14. Mike in Austin Says:

    “one-brained assassin” – love it. Looking forward to hearing it.

    The first song I ever heard Phish play live was Harpua at the soundcheck in Northfield, Mn. Funny, but not a huge fan of it.

    I’ve got my six show bet on the Leg II and some West Coast goodness. Let’s hope it’s as consistent for some of the three row runs that we got occasionally on the East Coast.

  15. punkmug Says:

    Great write up Miner. Thanks for the after game reports during leg 1.

  16. ohhphee Says:

    Oh, and thank you, Miner, for yet another inimitable review. No one does it quite like you do.

    Looks to me like they are going to sell a few more tickets to the festy with these last few shows of the leg. Hopefully, this time, I’ll get to meet a few more of you. My wife and I are already getting our gear together for the trip.

    We’re facking pumped!

  17. butter Says:

    Great review Miner, and very solid work all tour!

    They dropped a sand and light to remember last night, especially Sand.
    Look for a some floaty Trey work in the Light jam akin to steel pedal guitar.

    What a way to spend a Father’s Day, first set had all the family action and it was perfect to have my daughter there.

    Got super choked up again, this time during Slave.

    We were absolutely whipped by the end of the show. Alanna slept from Fluffhead on. Was able to make her a comfy spot to sleep, right on the front row of the lawn (with the help of some kind fans) for Sand thru the end of the set.

    What a special weekend that we won’t soon forget

    Have fun at the Ball, all

    Miner – go enjoy your family, wow, do you do alot for the Phish community, thanks for everything

    @shedivides – thanks for the ticket, my friend was glowing

  18. 20 years later Says:

    Thanks for writing these awesome reviews. I love your focus on whole-show flow.

  19. DukeOfLizards Says:

    I know it was only via couch tour stream, but last night’s Sand was the first time a jam has brought me to fits of spontaneous laughter since the Holy Ghost.

    The roomies thought it was weird, but whatever, they don’t get IT.

    Sand Burger bitches!!!

  20. Kaveh Says:

    @Miner: Thanks so much for all the reviews for Leg I; much appreciated.

    Listening to Set I right now..BOTT.

    And thank you Phish the massive amount of music you shared with all of us during Leg 1; much appreciated.

  21. Al Says:

    Can’t wait to hear a Hollywood Bowl “Tweezer”. That venue deserves a Fluffhead opener, actually.

    Great jams this tour so far.
    SAND = definitely the winner of leg 1 by a mile!
    GHOST = where did this Charlotte monster come from?
    MIKE’S SONG = still needs to break away from only guitar soloing.
    STASH = Camden version is underrated
    BDTNL = check Bethel 2 for the best leg 1 version.

    Haven’t listened to Raleigh Split open or anything from last night.
    But that Sand , CP, Bowie and Harpua might end up on my best of summer CD…

  22. butter Says:

    @sumodie – thanks for the tickets to last night

    trying to wrap my mind around this Father’s Day

    as Phish fans do, we create these dream like realites

    some Father’s Day from now, down the road -when i’m blowing my deck or watering the garden – i will just look back and smile at 2011

  23. butter Says:

    the last three shows, at some point during the second set, it feels like we reach a jam where the boys decide to throw down the gauntlet

    Sand was that point last night

    that’s all i can really ask for

  24. Grandfunk Says:

    Maybe silly question… When was the “Holy Ghost”?

  25. punkmug Says:

    “some Father’s Day from now, down the road -when i’m blowing my deck or watering the garden – i will just look back and smile at 2011”

    @butter. Love that. Where reality and heaven meet. Sounds like you had a wonderful time. Been enjoying your recaps of the shows.

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