Left In the Now With a Wondrous Glow

8.9.11 - Lake Tahoe (John Crouch)

Phish continued their romp through the Wild West last night in Lake Tahoe with another standout second set, a solid first, and another psychedelic monstrosity for the record books. Following their opening night “Rock and Roll”—a musical journey of instant legend—Phish dove head first into another alternate reality last night in the centerpiece of the show—“Light.” Driven by Mike’s mind-bending bass leads, the band trekked far off the grid in a completely groundbreaking, next-generation piece of Phish. With plenty of other standout music to support this excursion into the unknown, the first night of Tahoe showcased the band’s creative edge, while it making four straight bangers out West for the hottest band on the planet.

Official Tahoe Print (Kelly)

Launching the second set with the upbeat dance grooves of “Jibboo,” the band didn’t take long before dipping into their satchel of sorcery. Thrashing into “Light,” Trey’s atonal soloing set a passionate tone for the jam before the band, collectively, began to move outwards into dark and wide-open adventure. Migrating into a realm of spacey dissonance, the course was set for Mike’s absolute dominance of this jam. As he emerged as the commander-in-chief of “Light’s” psychedelic joyride, Trey laid way back, comping his leads with funk licks, a looped “plinko” sequence, and then a barrage of sonic weirdness. Mike embarked on a personal jihad and his band mates coalesced around him with a spectrum of abstract and eerie accompaniment. Together, the quartet crafted a piece of epic proportions. Reaching completely original realms of the likes Phish has never touched in their career, the band showcased their recent proclivity for jaw-dropping exploration. As Trey and Page focused more on Storage-based psychedelia than any sort of lead playing, the band put a magnifying glass on their newest improvisational style and came up with another absolute masterpiece. The jam only gets nastier as it progresses, and the merging of hard groove and dissonant alien encounters has shot this “Light” to the top of every fan’s Wednesday priority list.

8.8.11 (J.Crouch)

Moving from this exploratory madness into a combination of Phish anthems, “Chalk Dust and Slave,” the band’s creativity spilled directly into these pieces. Taking “Chalk Dust” in a completely original direction, not only did the guys integrate music from the Harry Potter movies (Dixie and Hedwig’s themes), they also moved from the song’s hard rock textures into a delicate and enchanting breakdown. Taking one of the most straightforward songs in the book and crafting a transcendent segue into a mid-set “Slave” is but another example of a band firing on all cylinders. And the “Slave” was magnificent. Whenever Phish places the piece in a central slot, more often than not they deliver a highlight version and last night was no exception. The full-band interplay came to a thrilling guitar-led peak and a high dosage of musical catharsis, thus concluding the meat of the second half.

A token “Free” set the table for a surprise and poignant cover of Elton John’s “Rocket Man.” Page took lead vocals while also doing his best Elton impression on the ivories, and Phish notched another classic piece of rock history in their belt. Playing off the song’s reflective and emotional vibe, the band dropped into the first “Harry Hood” of tour. A pristine rendition brought the set home with power but for a seemingly gratuitous “Walls of the Cave” closer that didn’t really jive in context.

8.9.11 (J.Crouch)

Phish’s visit to Tahoe started earlier then usual, as the band came on stage just after 7 pm due to a 10:30 curfew. “Party Time” and “Oh Kee Pa > AC/DC Bag” got the show off to a quick start, but the meat of the first frame began with the mid-set “Punch You in the Eye.” An extended intro had the crowd popping off early as the band tore apart the grooves with added gusto. The bustout of “Meat” bled into a “David Bowie” that ran away with the first half thunder, following Mike’s lead through a delicate rhythmic journey. From there, however, the set petered a bit with a final foursome of “Bouncin,” “Horn,” Water In the Sky,” and “46 Days.”

Driven by “Light’s” improvisational odyssey, however, Phish is now a cool four-for-four in the second half of summer, with each show providing timeless highlights and a couple of them blasting us through portals to the future. Pushing down the doors of new musical galaxies as a matter of practice again, the band is back and—dare I say it— better than ever?

I: Party Time, The Oh Kee Pa Ceremony > AC/DC Bag, Mellow Mood, Rift, Punch You In the Eye, Meat, David Bowie, Bouncing Around the Room, Horn, Water in the Sky, 46 Days

II: Gotta Jibboo, Light > Chalk Dust Torture > Slave to the Traffic Light, Free, Rocket Man*, Harry Hood, Walls of the Cave

E: Bug, The Squirming Coil

*debut

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1,327 Responses to “Left In the Now With a Wondrous Glow”

  1. Corey Says:

    I think crystal -wolf- light is the way to go.

  2. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    well played, corey. well. played.

  3. Mr palmer Says:

    Dow down 420 😉

  4. Mike in Austin Says:

    Had a great time last night. Meet some folks and a great spot about 40 rows back center.

    The dry ice/ fog was very nice. Gave Kuroda another pallet of stuff to work with. Did the use that at the gorge?

    Hoping for a steam now. Maybe they’re geared up for it.

    The walls of a cave has an odd opening with the piano then woodblock treatment. Always throws me off. But I really liked the end of it.

  5. Esteban Says:

    Nice review, @Miner. Giving the show a re-spin now while I work down project plans…

  6. TheSloth Says:

    ya, the webcast was really nice. from where i sat about 2,000 miles away from tahoe, TWOC placement was a bit strage (or maybe random) but when all was said i thought it closed the set well.

  7. Corey Says:

    Is Dorn’s avatar the kool aid man? If so, that’s funny. If not, then I’m going back to bed. Seeing fictional characters that aren’t there…picking out the light…yeah, I need more sleep. @TIII, thanks. I couldn’t resist the wolf.

  8. DryIceFactory Says:

    Come someone explain this rocket thing to me? I’m so lost its not even funny.

  9. Robert Champion Says:

    Corey – It took them a little bit to find their stride in “Light” once they took the plunge. However, when they decided where to go with it they took it to a cool place. I will agree though that at the beginning of the improvised part it was a little rough but that was them just setting up the treasure that came soon afterwards.

  10. Luther T. Justice Says:

    ^It’s Punch from Hawaiian Punch fame

  11. Mr palmer Says:

    Dorn. Hit me with an email. Need to exchange numbers for next week re: tix

  12. Mr palmer Says:

    Scratch that. I have your number already.

  13. Wilson8or Says:

    Kind of unrelated to last night, but where the bleep is Simple?? As I recall, we’ve only gotten ONE all summer! It’s been a pretty decent Jam vehicle in 3.0, and seems all but shelved. I feel given their current direction and prowess, they would blow it up. Either way, please and thank you for UIC, Simple.

  14. Esteban Says:

    Love that little loop at the end of Bag before they drop into Marley

  15. SillyWilly Says:

    @Mike in Austin

    Great to meet you, man! Really happy to get to kick it with you

    Sorry I was too baked to add much conversation.

    Hope to see you tonight and rage it.

  16. Robert Champion Says:

    No cuts no butts no coconuts – Phish is back.

  17. lurchlurk Says:

    It’s funny Miner doesn’t even mention the webcast once, as though it didn’t even happen. At our little listening party, an inside joke about how completely covered all the webcast doubters and naysayers faces were with egg ran throughout the whole night and added to our joy. Phish can do that. That webcast, last night’s show, proves a point greater than it being a four-for-four run for Summer 2011. Phish owns that medium now, too, and we reap the equity. Step up Miner and give the webcast its due!

  18. dorn76 Says:

    email sent palmer

  19. dorn76 Says:

    now u have it 2x!

  20. bhizzle Says:

    “Hawaiian Punch fame”

    is there any other kind?

  21. bhizzle Says:

    I also spit out the Light kool-aid after first sip.

  22. st8 of mind Says:

    The band is certainly back, but “Better Than Ever”???? Wow.

    Glad everybody enjoyed the show last night. Have fun tonight.

  23. Luther T. Justice Says:

    Remember the good ‘ol days when there was only one flavor of HP?

  24. DryIceFactory Says:

    3 Simples in 2011 if you include 1/1.

    All different animals all together. And I think the 5.29 version is woefully underrated. They definitely hit some nice planes in that version.

  25. voopa Says:

    Morning from the south shore! Damn kids a couple sites up are keeping from much needed sleep…perhaps a nap is in store before tonight.

    Had a great time last night, again. Agreed Walls’ placement was weird, but does make for a raging closer.

    The venue usually holds 7K, but they typically have chairs and aisles on the floor. Easily 10K in there last night, but there were pockets to be had…even found myself on the rail for part of set 1!

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