The Festival Finale

7.3.11 - Watkins Glen Dave Lavery)

After all the tremendous music at Super Ball over the first two days, Phish saved their best (conventional) performance for last, closing the festival with their most impressive two sets of the weekend. With spectacular song selection, improvisation galore, and a sharp, four-minded communication, the band tore apart each of Sunday’s sets. Today, let’s discuss set two.

7.3.11 (G.Lucas)

The defining quality of the festival’s finale was the musical connection between the band members throughout. Despite what song or style they played, they were tapped in to each other’s ideas and created innovative music from each and every piece. The setlist may have looked a bit strange on paper, but Phish executed nailed their final frame of Super Ball superbly, and with a hearty dosage of risk-taking jamming.

With their communication skills shining after a creative opening leg and over ten hours of playing at the festival, Phish combined several launch pads into a set that never relented. The result was some of the most cohesive jamming of the weekend and a twisting musical adventure that ended with a fireworks display to match the musical theatrics. Some of the band’s most exploratory jaunts of the festival came in “Disease,” “Light,” and “Waves,” while the set was not short on grooves, featuring an explosive “Party Time” and the slick combination of “Ghost” and “Jibboo.” Within this stanza, Phish showcased their revitalized jamming for their audience with every piece they touched.

“Disease,” “Light” and “Waves” all explored variant styles of music while providing the central jams of the set. Breaking down the high-speed rock of “Disease” with groovier textures, Trey began chopping rhythm licks and the band responded with short offerings that created a percussive whole. Mike—much like the dynamic in “Golden Age”—began to throw down bass lines underneath the music that strongly influenced the direction of the jam as Trey, Page and Fish interacted up top. Then, slowing into a murky texture with Mike still at the helm, the band patiently—and seamlessly—bled into “No Quarter.” The set’s opening excursion had found gold.

7.3.11 D.Lavery)

The contour of Super Ball’s “Light” more closely resembled the multi-tiered versions of 2010 than the shortened outings we’ve seen this summer. Settling out of Trey’s guitar solo, the whole band band opened up the song’s jam for the first time, in earnest, since last fall and came up with an instant classic. Page initiated a melody that Trey latched onto immediately and sculpted into a delicate picking pattern that set the tone for the intricate experiment. All band members locked together in a forward-looking groove which, before too long, moved into calmer waters. Mike and Trey stepped forth to lead the band in through a totally original jam that moved—naturally—through a dreamy psychedelia and into a final section of new-age funk.

Pausing to exhale as they concluded “Light,” the band stepped right into “Waves.” A cathartic, festival-sized guitar solo graced the first half of the jam, while after the lyrical reprise, Phish dropped into the void. In a jam that featured soul-touching soundscapes, and harmonies you could feel as well as you could hear, the band showcased yet another brilliant improvisational style. At times evoking sounds of the Storage Jam from the previous night, Phish had the audience floating amidst a blissful, cosmic space, gradually increasing the intensity of the music and moving towards a perfectly-placed version of “What’s the Use?.”

7.3.11 (Dave Lavery)

In between these early and late set combos, the band dropped a blistering “Party Time” and combined unique renditions of both “Ghost” and “Jibboo.” As the guys reached a smooth yet driving canvas in “Ghost,” Trey and Mike’s interplay stood out again as each tore off infectious licks. Bringing the music into the uplifting realm, the band got into intricate interplay that didn’t focus on massive bass lines, but moved outwards quickly into abstract territory. And once the band reached an ambient plane, Trey came in with “Jibboo.” After using “Ghost” more unconventionally, in “Jibboo” the band came together in a monstrous, whole-band groove session that served as a mid-set peak.

Closing the frame with an anti-climactic choice of “Stealing Time” (“YEM” would have sealed the deal), the band had thrown down plenty of musical meat to satiate even the most jaded fan. And as the fireworks display started amidst the “First Tube” encore, continued through the post-show selection of Simon and Garfunkel’s “America” and into the post-show silence, we watched colors explode in mid-air —a physical manifestation of the musical pyrotechnics we had witnessed all weekend long. And with amidst this poignant silence, we had the chance to reflect on all that Super Ball was and forever will be—a historical weekend in Phish history.


Jam of the Day:

Light” 7.3.11 II

A top-notch rendition featuring a wide-open jam.



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563 Responses to “The Festival Finale”

  1. Chuck sweD Says:


    ^^ have fun with that one. good night.

  2. joe Says:

    flashbacks to couch tour listening to Party Time. It was then that I finally heeded the message from Trey to dance like a maniac in my living room.

  3. MrCompletely Says:

    yeah Ramblin

    I just thought it was funny last night when Tegmark would make these statements like “when it comes right down to it, underneath everything, reality is just math”

    and he’d look at the camera a little embarassed, like he knows it’s nonsense…almost like…Sorry, but this is my pet theory, I have to put it out, even though it’s ludicrous

    funny shit

    he’s currently getting his ass handed to him by Roger Penrose in the debate over quantum consciousness

  4. BingosBrother Says:

    Pages 12 and 13 are the vacuum solo of todays setlist. Nonstop Lolothon.

  5. phoammhead Says:

    who was that that came by earlier . . . a troll . . who was he? oh yeah, shredy! well he’s back . . . this DWD is bringin’ it!

  6. SillyWilly Says:

    I’m half joking, Chuck

    But it is nice to remove the TV crutch from my relaxation time

  7. phoammhead Says:

    mike descending bass bombs!

  8. Mr. Palmer Says:

    gathering of the Juggalos!!!

  9. bouncin fan Says:

    this shabazz palaces shit is sick

  10. Robear Says:

    Where to find the Shabazz palaces thing?

    Agreed bingosbrother, a stream of chuckles back there.

  11. joe Says:

    doesn’t anyone around here listen to phish anymore?

  12. Mr. Palmer Says:


  13. Robear Says:

    iPad haters over at


  14. Gavinsdad Says:

    What up Chicago.

    @Joe – I distinctly remember hearing the party time and understanding that Trey wanted me to party.

  15. RamblinMind Says:

    Anyone want to shout out a Dead recommendation to listen to on the archive at work? I can’t even pick a year, let alone a show, so somebody force my hand please

  16. Mr. Palmer Says:

    10/27/79 set II

  17. joe Says:


  18. RamblinMind Says:

    Now I have to decide if I respect Palmer or Joe more

  19. MrCompletely Says:

    when in doubt always go with the 72-74 show Ramblin. Every time

  20. Mr. Palmer Says:

    i almost threw out 11-17-73 @ Joe.

  21. MrCompletely Says:

    10.27.79 cape cod is sick tho.

    If you like the 11-14 follow it up with 11-17-73…equally sick if not moreso

  22. joe Says:

    I won’t be offended if you choose Palmer’s. In fact, I’m going to dive into it myself after finishing this light>wtu.

    or do I need to relisten to the rest of the entire set again? do the meatstick at my desk?

  23. MrCompletely Says:

    GMTA Palmer

    that’s the best version of that Playin’ sequence and an alltime great second set jam section

    liquid diamond fire jamming in that one

    pure gold

  24. MrCompletely Says:

    11-14 is a little spacier and looser. more time in the deep weirdness, which peeps might be into post Storage Jam. 11-17 is tight, tight, tight

  25. MrCompletely Says:

    from Nov @ Winterland on, Fall 73 is pretty much one bomb set after another. A couple less than stellar outliers but not many.

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