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. joe Says:

    I hear it Robear. The circular da da da da lick. (how’s that for some music theory). very dicky

  2. sumodie Says:

    @bombino show (starts 10:15)

    guy at merch table works for bombino’s record label, cumbancha, based in burlington vt

    he knows page & mike slightly

    i must be in the right place tonite

    got the cd of course!

  3. Robear Says:

    Thx Joe!

    Nice Sumo!

  4. Dr Pronoia Says:

    If anyone wants to seed or upload either 9-10-72 or 11-17-73 I’d appreciate it. I’ve got a 5 day weekend to digest either/both of those great recs…

    Just watched Magic Trip, the Kesey Furthur movie that’s coming out in theaters soon, which is on demand right now.

    Much more like a Nat Geo special on the 60s than I was anticipating, with voice-overed archival footage exclusively, but that footage is pretty awesome, so it’s worth the 10 bucks or whatever if you’re interested in seeing the story in live color

  5. Mr. Palmer Says:

    Dr. P- Live Music Archive

  6. joe Says:

    What I didn’t mention is I hear it in every numberline.

  7. fat bastard Says:

    nice call on that birdsong. space jam, refrain, new space jam

  8. jdub Says:

    I about wore out sbix over the last week and half. So much good music in there. I’m gonna follow the crowd and DL 9/10/72 and 11/17/73. Now that I can DL mass amounts of music again with this new cpu I’m gonna branch out a bit.

    I love numberline, big fan. But it always feels awkward when it starts up. Once the song gets chugging along all is well though.

  9. fat bastard Says:

    dr p sugarmeg

  10. fat bastard Says:

    i have to say i didn’t like the first set from 7/3. too much storytelling

  11. sumodie Says:

    loved the 7/3 storytelling -best one yet in 3.0

    plus you could see the mockingbird in the distance

  12. jdub Says:

    My only complaint with 7/3 was the Withless Curtain. But I didn’t mind the Forbins, nice to hear the genesis of the storage jam. True or not

  13. Guyute711 Says:

    I always love how people turn around and look for it

  14. Robear Says:

    FB, Zzyzx says ‘NO! Say it isn’t so!’

  15. RamblinMind Says:

    11.14 and 11.17 – both second sets should be heard. Along with Here Comes Sunshine from the first set

    @Kaya – listened to that 4.2.73 HCS right after the version from 11.14. Both are great, very distinct. 4.2 has some heavy space after it, 11.14 gets unexpectedly bluesy

    @MrPalmer – 10.27.79 underway. Dancin’ is super funky

  16. Robear Says:

    G, Trey got me in Atlanta last year. Not this time 🙂

  17. jdub Says:

    I figured after the stunt they played the night before they probably released some bird to mess with people. But yeah, I looked

  18. Guyute711 Says:

    I know jdub, ha ha

  19. jdub Says:

    You didn’t help the cause G711. Oh well.

    I found a video on youtube of the balloon phish, shot right behind us. Me, you, aint no tele, and my buddy jeff are all visible.

  20. jdub Says:

    Destiny Unbound with the balloon thingy.

  21. joe Says:

    Tell bombino to wait till after midnight sumo.

  22. Guyute711 Says:

    Yeah I saw one with my friend Mike right in the middle of the screen

  23. Guyute711 Says:

    ok now I see the badge on my hat

  24. jdub Says:

    My yellow shirt sticks out.

  25. Guyute711 Says:

    Just funny as soon as it hit us it started to get destroyed

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