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!

Tags: , ,

563 Responses to “The Festival Finale”

  1. yematt Says:

    and hey jdub & sumo- cool to run into you guys on the 1st night! hope you both had an awesome time. really regret not making it over to camp BB, but it’s hard keeping up with my own crew as it is. south dakota was sweet spot to camp in

  2. chefbradford Says:

    Mr C, thanks, I’m grabbing your ’72 Dead stuff

    thanks for your generosity

  3. MrCompletely Says:

    you like those tighten up jams right @DF? did I ever send 12-17-70 dancin’ your way? you heard that one?

  4. DaNcInG fOoL Says:

    Yeah C, I checked it out last yearish, amazing jam, though the recording quality isn’t so great if I remember correctly

  5. MrCompletely Says:

    @chef, the 73 mix is in final form, the 72 folder is really kind of placeholdery. what’s in there is all good but it’s not nearly how I want it to be.

    but both those Miles style Playin’s and all the stuff in zipfiles is pretty sick. just not cleaned up and sequenced and much too heavy on the DP material (although I find a lot of ppl don’t listen to those releases tho they’re among the finest)

    stanley theater dick’s pick is a must hear show start to finish. a very lysergic evening. i assume people know it but have found that to not be the case a lot recently

  6. chefbradford Says:

    I’m only somewhat familiar with the Dead. I know what I like when I hear it, and that’s about it. I’m trying to dig into the late 60’s early 70’s stuff, because that’s what, out of everything I’ve heard the most, I have liked the most. And seeing the 72/73 stuff pimped the last few days, that’s what I’m getting first

    Thanks again

  7. MrCompletely Says:

    recording qual is very nice on that set actually, for ’70 at least. rich and strong

    a tiny bit of the beginning is cut but the sound is big

    the backing vocals aren’t even terrible on that dancin’. unheard of for the era

  8. MrCompletely Says:

    most dancins of the era have the tighten up jam @df. I think this one is the best sounding. lot of bad recordings from 70 but not this one.

    cool @chef! enjoy

  9. sumodie Says:

    mrc, yup, guy played what looked to be an upside calabash on a cloth covered table/platform, dunno if it was in water

  10. DaNcInG fOoL Says:

    Hm, maybe I was listening to an aud by mistake, I’ll check it out tomorrow

  11. chefbradford Says:

    Thank you sir, I’m sure I will. I’ve tried a couple of Android apps to listen to files from through my phone at work (via 3G); none have worked. Anyone have any recs?

    And thanks again, to everybody around here. I haven’t had the time to post as much as I used to, but I’m still around

  12. RamblinMind Says:

    “It’s hard to make decisions man, you know….Biblical shit”

    Hard to Handle it is

    don’t know much about ’71 but I know it’s the money year for Hard to Handle

  13. JP Says:

    right after the ball, there was a link to recordings of the from the archives shows – the 3rd FTA show opened up and played fine – but the 1st two don’t have a file type association that is obv and i can’t figure out anything that will open them

    The 1st FTA show is tracked in 2 different ways (remember someone wondering why anyone would want a version that merges songs from one venue vs individual song tracks?) and all three are labeled as only FTA (7-1-11 1am, FTA (7-1-11 3pm) – does anyone know what will open these files?

    about to delete, sad not to hear the first 2 FTAs – # 3 was great. Any help appreciated – the files are all about 100MB

  14. RamblinMind Says:

    @JP – word is that those FTA shows are going to come out in better quality soon. I’m waiting until Kenny Powers gets them altogether like he has with past versions, and I’ll just download them all at once

  15. MrCompletely Says:

    JP try manually changing the file extension to .zip

  16. MrCompletely Says:

    seems crazy but it works a lot. had to rename some stuff recently but 7zip opened it fine.

    correct on ’71 @ramblin. Cumberlands too. an underrated year. Yes, I have an MP3 mix for it if you’re interested. No ALACs yet, but I can upgrade em sometime. Pretty great mix I think and very different from most of what I listen to and post. The “darkstarenstein” mashup track I made is part of this mix and there are probably 4 tracks on here that are in the best-version-ever discussion for those songs

    Cumberland Blues – 71-10-26 Rochester, NY
    02 Big Railroad Blues – 71-07-31 Yale Bowl
    03 Sugar Magnolia – 71-04-28 Fillmore East
    04 Hard To Handle – 71-08-06 Hollywood Palladium
    05 Loser – 71-08-24 Chicago
    06 Dark Hollow – 71-04-29 Fillmore East
    07 Brokedown Palace – 71-08-24 Chicago

    Zip 2:
    08 Jack Straw – 71-10-26 Rochester, NY
    09 Second That Emotion – 71-04-25 Fillmore East
    10 I’m A Hog For You, Baby -71-04-06 Manhattan Center, NYC
    11 Beat it On Down the Line – 71-04-26 Fillmore East
    12 Bird Song – 71-04-29 Fillmore East
    13 Playing in the Band – 71-10-26 Rochester, NY
    14 China Cat Sunflower > – 71-08-07 San Diego
    15 I Know You Rider – 71-08-07 San Diego

    Zip 3:
    16 Comes a Time – 71-12-04 Felt Forum, NYC
    17 Easy Wind – 71-04-04 Manhattan Center, NYC
    18 One More Saturday Night – 71-10-26 Rochester, NY
    “Set 2”
    19 Uncle John’s Band – 71-04-27 Fillmore East
    20 Me and Bobby McGee – 71-10-26 Rochester, NY
    21 Morning Dew – 71-04-04 Manhattan Center, NYC

    Zip 4:
    22 Smokestack Lightnin’ – 71-12-07 Felt Forum, NYC

    not in zip file:
    23 Dark Star(s) – 1971

    Zip 4 cont’d:
    24 St. Stephen > – 71-10-31 Columbus, OH
    25 Not Fade Away> – 71-10-31 Columbus, OH
    26 Goin’ Down The Road
    Feeling Bad > – 71-10-31 Columbus, OH
    27 Not Fade Away – 71-10-31 Columbus, OH

  17. RamblinMind Says:

    This 1970 recording captures Phil’s bass better than a lot of soundboards or other sources capture Mike’s bass 30-40 years later

  18. MrCompletely Says:

    haven’t done a full-on Dead hijack in a long time. Feels good. 😮

  19. RamblinMind Says:

    Thanks for putting these together @C

    I didn’t know the Dead did Second That Emotion. I know JGB did it later on…

  20. MrCompletely Says:

    yeah that tape is really pretty great

    the whole set is nice but the jam in Dancin’ is just choice. Beautiful

  21. MrCompletely Says:

    My pleasure Ramblin. Literally. The come naturally out of the way I download, listen to and cull tours, and I make them for my own listening first. But it’s been a great pleasure to find that a lot of people love them.

    Second that Emotion was moved to solo band rotation only pretty much immediately but the few GD versions aren’t bad at all. Similar to Mission in the Rain.

  22. sumodie Says:

    yematt, great to meet you too

    nah, i never have an awesome time at phish festis


  23. Guyute711 Says:

    sumo, you hit up turntable yet?

  24. mitch Says:

    cant. keep. up.

    mr c dropping the dead lists again. pretty sure i have the 73 on a hdd in the city tho. curious about the dark star mentioned yesterday.

    if theres a better song than dark star i havent found it.

  25. sumodie Says:

    shit, more gd gospel from C -will have to save that tmrw (would love to be able to buy that in book form…)

Leave a Reply