There were so many mind-bending highlights throughout the three nights of Super Ball that many standout jams can easily fall through the cracks. The following four pieces didn’t take center stage over the weekend, but certainly deserve their due credit. While these selections are hardly diamonds in the rough, they are some of the more structured highlights from an amazing weekend of music that people are still glowing from today. Read about, listen to, and download each piece below.
“Wilson” 7.3 I
“Wilson” isn’t a jam vehicle—that is unless you are at Super Ball. When the band dropped into this first set version on the final day of the festival, no one suspected what was to come. As the guys entered the “heavy metal” section of the song, they did so with far more passion and intent than usual, and before long they had veered off course into a seething tangent. Dicing into the heavy textures, Trey tore off an original solo in which he infused a prominent Mind Left Body tease that the entire band hopped onto in a shining improvisational moment. Phish passed through this section into original hard rock before re-merging with “Wilson’s” lyrics. A prime example of how anything the band touched turned to gold on the festival’s final day, this first set surprise fit right in with spiced up jamming on display throughout.
“Wolfman’s Brother” 7.1 I
Late in the opening frame of the festival, Phish crafted the centerpiece of the set in “Wolfman’s Brother.” Though “Wolfman’s” is always reliable for a foray into Phish grooves these days, this enthusiastic version took the 3.0 template to a supercharged level. Coming in the midst of a stellar run of songs that included “Bathtub Gin,” “Life On Mars?,” and “My Friend, My Friend,” “Wolfman’s” provided one of the first throwdowns of the weekend. As Page hopped up to his clav and the band dripped into the jam, the concert grounds immediately popped off. Trey tickled the grooves with a repetitive staccato lick as Gordon and Fishman held down a slick pocket. Trey got far more creative with his phrasing than usual, urging the band to follow his creative path—and that they did. Transforming into certifiable Phish crack, this dance session had the festival in full gear if everyone hadn’t gotten there already. Complete with Gordon’s footbell approval, the band sunk their teeth into this version like they hadn’t in quite a while with “Wolfman’s,” engaging in all sorts of rhythmic exchanges and extending past the length of most recent outings. The creative guitar licks never stopped throughout the entire jam as Trey led the troops to a blistering whole-band peak in this early-weekend gem.
“Stash” 7.2 II
Saturday’s second set contained a bit of a lull in the middle, but that didn’t happen until the band had slaughtered a standout, fourth-song “Stash.” As Phish got into the jam, they readily reached a series of collective hits that created an alternate rhythmic template for the entire piece. Mike and Trey worked their ideas together, spiraling guitar lines around the dynamic beat while Page added piano comps to the increasingly intricate and dramatic excursion. Bringing the piece into more abstract territory, the three guys delved into darker waters as Trey and Mike’s lines adopted an ominous tone. Migrating back towards “Stash’s” natural build, the band’s lock-step communication never faltered as their ideas were coherently tied upon entering a retro, face-melting peak. A second-set highlight that got overshadowed by stellar final frame, this “Stash” is fully on the level.
“Scents and Subtle Sounds” 7.2 II
In 2004, Phish deconstructed what many believe to be their greatest post-hiatus composition—“Scents and Subtle Sounds.” Lopping off the mystical introduction that gets right to the metaphysical meaning of the song, the band started the multi-part epic midway through—out of context—with Trey’s heavy guitar chords. Taking much of the majesty away from the piece, this is how Phish decided to leave it, and when they played a short rendition at MSG ’09, this chopped up format remained. Thus, when the band crept out of the post-“Rift” silence with the opening notes of “Scents’’” intro, many of us were flabbergasted and blissfully surprised. Whether or not the song will remain in semi-rotation, at least it’s back together again. And when they dropped from the song into the void, everything felt in right in the world. Sculpting a gorgeous sunset rendition of the emotive piece, the band’s precise interplay and Trey’s lyrical phrasing took this sequence to the mountaintop. Steeped in soulful textures the music seemed to climb towards the heavens as Phish’s modern precision was applied to the post-hiatus standout. Let’s keep our fingers crossed that “Scents” and “A Song I Heard the Ocean Sing were reintroductions for the second leg rather bustouts for Super Ball. A kid can dream, right?
Jam of the Day:
“Destiny Unbound” 7.3.11 I
Another song that moved beyond its usual boundaries during Sunday’s first set at Super Ball.
Tags: 2011, Jams, Summer 2011, Super Ball IX