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.



BOOK CONTEST #3: Don’t forget to get your second leg picks in to win a signed copy of “Mr.Miner’s Phish Thoughts: An Anthology By a Fan for the Fans.” Enter by clicking here! In book news, we are in the final layout and proofreading process and things look to be on schedule for a holiday season release! If you haven’t checked out the book site recently, you can now read about the anthology’s unique system of navigation through which you can read the book based on your own interests. (Think of the old-school “Choose Your Own Adventure” books we all read as kids.) Click over and check it out and reserve your copy today!

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563 Responses to “The Festival Finale”

  1. ThePigSong Says:

    that fish getting destroyed was the non-musical highlight of my night

    envisioned a hundred piranhas devouring that thing, and I’m pretty sure the band was jamming along to the destruction.

    oh, and I don’t think I fell for the “here it comes” at the show…

    but I might have looked over my shoulder on re-listen today.

  2. Guyute711 Says:

    I got my video started just as the thing was on top of me. Camera wasn’t cooperating. I like the look on your friend Jaime’s face at the end of it jdub. He’s gettin down.

  3. jdub Says:

    I was a little nervous being underneath it as people went loco.

  4. jdub Says:

    4 out of 6 from our camp are in that vid. Nice.

  5. Guyute711 Says:

    Yeah, were famous now

  6. jdub Says:

    So many cameras, and people filming strangers. Kind of creeped me out at times. Looked up while getting down to Tweezer and caught some guy with his phone pointed at me, wtf?

  7. Dr Pronoia Says:

    I need to publicly retract my opinion from earlier this week where I admitted that I didn’t “like” the storage jam, for a perceived lack of rhythm, melody, etc.

    My guess that 10% attention while running NYC errands during work was not the proper basis for a judgment was right

    With proper headspace achieved, and 100% attention, I realize that my first impression was maybe the most wrong I’ve ever been in terms of first impression/follow-up discrepancy

    And thanks for the DL’ing suggestions

  8. fat bastard Says:

    i think i just hit a 4 team parlay. indians, twins, rockies and marlins! betting against the cubs and baltimore right now is easy money.

  9. Dr Pronoia Says:

    an amazing piece of improv

    as a cubs fan, it’s always easy money to bet against the cubs

    thanks to whoever’s seeding those shows

  10. jdub Says:

    About 4 times through the storage jam and it is starting to sound normal to me. So many nuances, I dig it immensely.

  11. MrCompletely Says:

    yea Palmer that 11.17.73 Playin’ arc is the pure light

  12. MrCompletely Says:

    12/6/73 is hands down best Here Comes Sunshine.

  13. MrCompletely Says:

    “So many cameras, and people filming strangers. Kind of creeped me out at times. Looked up while getting down to Tweezer and caught some guy with his phone pointed at me, wtf?”

    bullshit is what it is

  14. Lycanthropist Says:

    still no word from the turntable people via email..

  15. MrCompletely Says:

    as for Bird Songs, I definitely think all of the best versions of that song are from mid/late 72. the Veneta one is great of course. Stanley Theater Dick’s Pick one is killer. Houston in November too. One of the St. Louis Fox Theater ones from October is also superb. They’re all really different in the nuances. The Hollywood Bowl one is my favorite but if you like that feel, that spacy lysergic groove, it’s worth checking out all the ones I just mentioned and I’m probably forgetting a few.

    The only other Bird Song I know of at this level is 6-22-73 but the circulating sources for that are fucked even after all the CM remasters etc.

  16. Mdawg Says:

    Leg Two !!!!

  17. jdub Says:

    It is bullshit C. Pathetic even.

  18. tela'smuff Says:

    yeah. i don’t get the filming of people gettin down. not cool.

  19. MrCompletely Says:

    I’m a chill dude but I might slap a $300 phone out of your hand if I see you shooting video of spun kids at a phish show

    fuck anyone who does that

  20. tela'smuff Says:

    agreed. i’d at a minimum do some intimidatin!

  21. MrCompletely Says:

    The following tracks are in my “Fall 73” GD folder, all in ALAC, here:

    The Love Each Other 73-12-06 Cleveland
    Greatest Story Ever Told 73-12-06 Cleveland
    Cumberland Blues 73-11-14 San Diego
    Black Throated Wind 73-11-14 San Diego
    Row Jimmy 73-11-17 Los Angeles
    The Race is On 73-11-14 San Diego
    Brown-Eyed Women 73-11-17 Los Angeles
    Looks Like Rain 73-11-17 Los Angeles
    China Cat Sunflower> 73-12-06 Cleveland
    I Know You Rider 73-12-06 Cleveland
    Here Comes Sunshine 73-12-06 Cleveland
    Playin’ in the Band > 73-11-17 Los Angeles
    Uncle John’s Band > 73-11-17 Los Angeles
    Morning Dew > 73-11-17 Los Angeles
    Uncle John’s Band > 73-11-17 Los Angeles
    Playin’ Reprise 73-11-17 Los Angeles
    Dark Star > 73-12-06 Cleveland
    jam > 73-12-06 Cleveland
    Eyes of the World > 73-12-06 Cleveland
    Stella Blue 73-12-06 Cleveland

    I thought about having the 11-14 Other One sequence in there but it would repeat Eyes and I felt it made the playlist too long. This version of Here Comes Sunshine is my favorite and I patched the brutal dropout found in all other version. Perhaps the most diffuse and esoteric of all Dark Stars…now out in Road Trip for but whatever

  22. Kevin Says:

    Listening to the ‘secret’ set for the first time — this is some serious shit once you get past the first 10 minutes.

    And as far as filming spun out people goes: these days, you have to expect that anything you do in public will be public to everyone. I don’t like the thought of it either, but that’s where we are and it’s only going to get worse.

  23. MrCompletely Says:

    so this is the Playin’ sequence we were talking about before ^^^

  24. MrCompletely Says:

    it’s true that’s how it is Kevin

    but that doesn’t mean you can’t strike back

  25. Mdawg Says:

    Please don’t film me.

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