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. MrCompletely Says:

    later all

  2. RamblinMind Says:

    Thanks guys

    I’m here for a couple hours, so I”m going with 11.14.73 first because of Truckin > Other One > Big River > Other One > Eyes >Other One > Wharf Rat

    Then I”ll dip into Set II from 10.27.79 for another Other One, plus Dancin>Franklin’s

  3. albert walker Says:

    It’s on demon

    Some hip experimental shit with the digable planets cat

    They’re playing pitchfork

    Shabazz palaces

  4. BingosBrother Says:

    What up G-diddy!

  5. albert walker Says:

    Gavins in Chicago

    Time to get w a x d

  6. kayatosh Says:

    what up, BB? missed you cats today. got all caught up in the TT site. if anything, the TT is a much needed break from phish.

  7. RamblinMind Says:

    72 > 73 by a little bit, imo

    There’s something about Jerry’s guitar tone 68-72 that has a fuller, harder sound to it, and they play a heavier, bluesier kind of psychedelia during that time.

    I know at one point I tried to track what I perceive as a change in tone to Jerry switching guitars, but the dates didn’t match well and it was pretty tedious. So I don’t know, I guess there’s just a bit more country and jazz in 73, along with a lighter group sound (still psychedelic and more experimental, but less of an aural onslaught)

  8. kayatosh Says:

    w a x one for me. gonna refrain from the PM herbalzing. last night felt the heart racin all night from some intense seshs. that whole how much THC can the body handle thing.

    robear: saw you had some dreams re. seeing phish. i have had similar dreams.

  9. kayatosh Says:

    TT gettin stale. gonna mix things up.

  10. Mr. Palmer Says:

    what up kaya. That TT is a black hole it seems.

    The Numberline from Custy Ball has ripping guitar work from Trey. Was playing it at “11” on the car ride home this evening.

    Breaking away from the phish a bit myself before leg 2. So happy i’ll get a taste in Chicago. Plus its indoors, which is always my preference. Probably taking my brother and sister in law to their first show. Mixed emotions because i know its not their scene…at all. They seem to be willing to be open to it though. there will have to be some ground rules laid down though.

  11. Mr. Palmer Says:

    Slipping back into some radiohead lately. They are the type of band that i will play for a bit every few months and then forget about again. I’d like to catch them live next time they come around.

  12. RamblinMind Says:

    @kaya – total opposite for me. i only do PM herbalizing, and last night for some reason i couldn’t get to an ideal level…like my brain just said, “no, my cannabanoid receptors are not going to work this evening”

  13. kayatosh Says:

    yo, palmer. TT sucked me a lot of the day. have enjoyed reading about your job. love your attitude.

  14. kayatosh Says:

    guilty of overindulgence w/ jah herb

  15. kayatosh Says:

    “TT sucked me a lot of the day”

    woops. sucked up a lot of my time today.

  16. alf Says:

    that brain needs to sample a hipster killer

  17. phoammhead Says:

    yeah, there are some great stories of some bb peeps comin’ outta in here . . . .

  18. Mr. Palmer Says:

    Kaya- its been a really interesting experience. I thought i worked with some interesting people in my last career, but they got nothing on this group. Some of the stories aren’t even worth telling because people wouldn’t believe me. Me and my buddy, who got me the gig, are basically trying to teach these people how to run a real business because they are clueless. They have grandiose ideas with not idea how to implement. Act first, think later. Can be a dangerous recipe in the business world, especially in today’s climate.

  19. kayatosh Says:

    crazy. these cats are managing money?

  20. RamblinMind Says:

    Retraction: ’72 and ’73 not comparable. Too much goodness in both.

  21. phoammhead Says:

    scents made the weekend for me . . . everything else was gravy

  22. phoammhead Says:

    i’m thinkin’ of a more wide open scents at the gorge

  23. Mr. Palmer Says:

    Not for customers…yet. That is in the works. A rich couple own the company and they fund everything for now. We are developing a high frequency trading fund, Trading commodity futures. Crazy shit. I got 2 uber smart kids writing the programs. Hoping to go live soon, then pitch to public. Returns look great on paper so far. But paper returns don’t mean shit.

  24. joe Says:

    do you guys have any good recommendations on a source for articles on the debt ceiling that are balanced/easy to understand for an outsider? kind of filtering my way through some stuff, but not enough to really feel like I have any kind of a grasp on it. Podcasts are also welcomed. Planet money is a go-to sometimes for me, but they haven’t really broken this one down yet as far as I can see.

  25. phoammhead Says:

    there was nothin’ more beautiful at sbix than scents.

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