Festival Phish

8.12.2011 - "Steam" (Eric Battuello)

Golden Gate Park—a locale like none other, and in many ways, the birthplace of the psychedelic revolution. But when Phish took the stage on Saturday night in San Francisco, there was little music of the mind to be heard as they showcased a long list of anthems for the Outside Lands audience. Powering through a veritable double-disc of greatest hits amidst a chilly fog from the bay, the band put on a glossy performance in the Golden City’s hipster haven, leaving a three-night blowout in UIC looming large.

Official Outside Lands Print

As the band favored “album-versions” of most songs, the improvisational highlights of the show were few and far between. Anchored by a thick “Tweezer” that swam amidst whole-band groove and saw the band peer into the storage shed momentarily, the first set also featured a set-closing “Mike’s Groove.” Call me a dreamer, but it feels like big things are to come from tour’s final “Tweezer” at UIC. The other segment of high-quality Phish-by-the-Bay came in the opening triumvirate of the second set in “Rock and Roll -> Steam > Piper.” A succinct jam in “Rock and Roll” set up a smooth segue into the long-awaited return of “Steam.” Bringing back their sole debut of summer for the first time since, Phish wove through the infectious groove led by a massive guitar solo by Trey. Before the jam had much of a chance to get anywhere, however, the band moved onto “Piper.” During “Piper” the festival audience got their only taste of open Phish jamming— something they weren’t afraid to let of the bag, in spurts, back at Bonnaroo.

When Phish moved abruptly from “Piper” into “Roses are Free,” they took the musical momentum of the set with them, taking the show home with ordinary song after ordinary song. Far more than a Phish show, this night felt like just an ordinary concert, but I’m not sure what crowd they were looking to please with this type of performance. I often think the band would be better served by showing up at these festivals and do what they do best—melt minds and faces. I can’t imagine there are too many converted Phish fans after last night’s show, and with a big pay day and nobody to impress, this festival slot seemed a bit phoned in. Sure, there were moments, and in the end, who expected much more? But more fundamentally, it is Phish’s approach to multi-band festival appearances that I am calling into question.

8.12.2011 (Eric Battuello)

The last couple mainstream festivals—Austin City Limits and Outside Lands—provided little musical substance for the masses to digest and take home with them. Back in ’09, however, the band dropped an experimental “Rock and Roll -> Light > 46 Days” on the Bonnaroo crowd, not to mention the most creative performance ever of “Kill Devil Falls.” When they filled in around these jams with anthems, their Bonnaroo performances felt very balanced. But last night, the balance was just not there. Song-heavy to the core, the Outside Lands show misrepresented the band to a slew of unfamiliar people ready to judge them and write them off. Well, one thing that indie journalists can’t accuse Phish of after last night is over-indulgent or unsuccessful jamming. The band just sidestepped that all together.

8.12.2011 (E.Battuello)

Perhaps for some, but not for me, the festival show had points of engagement, but not nearly enough to constitute an entire show—or even a single set. “Tweezer” will certainly get some spins over here, but I doubt I’ll be throwing this show into my listening rotation anytime soon. With straightforward song after straightforward song, the band didn’t truly offer the audience a glimpse into their genius, instead choosing a series of selections that resembled one long first set.

Following two shows that didn’t provide much lasting music, Phish is now primed for three big nights at UIC. The tour has gradually lost steam over the past week, having peaked with the Gorge’s first show. But something tells me that when the band steps inside in Chicago for the only indoor shows of 2011, that will all change. Hopefully, Phish will rev their motors back up to give the Gorge stand a legitimate bookend to the second leg of summer.

I: Kill Devil Falls, Wilson, Funky Bitch, The Moma Dance, Peaches en Regalia,  Sample in a Jar,  Possum, Tweezer > Mound, Suzy Greenberg, Axilla, Mike’s Song > I Am Hydrogen > Weekapaug Groove

II: Rock and Roll -> Steam > Piper > Roses Are Free, Julius, Life on Mars?, Birds of a Feather, Fluffhead, Backwards Down the Number Line, Also Sprach Zarathustra > Chalk Dust Torture

E: Cavern > Tweezer Reprise

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695 Responses to “Festival Phish”

  1. angryjoggerz Says:

    Ok, anyone still wanting to hit the meetup on Tues, give me an email and let me know. We have about 15 people now, need 20-25 to get the fixed price, etc.


    Mdawg did the leg work to get this together, let’s make it work and have a laugh.

  2. albert walker Says:

    don’t know how you fit a hot jam in 4 minutes but this LA Tube really does smoke

    through Tube the band is just swinging in the contained space.

    not trying to state the obvious that a little more love to just a few songs could have made this a great set. (cities, KDF, BOTT)

    cuz they sound tight and spirited. real clean and great energy.

  3. Lycanthropist Says:

    on TT if anyone is bored

  4. tela'smuff Says:

    hearing Gorge Wedge for the first time since show, and it’s as good as i remember.

  5. Kaveh Says:

    Good morning BBers! Just catching up st the airport heading home. Talked to jmelby this morning. He mentioned that there was a bb meetup tomorrow before the show. Can someone text me the information? Thanks. 612-272-2517. Otherwise I’ll look on the computer at home tonight.

  6. Kaveh Says:

    @aj. Just read back and sent u am email.

  7. litteringandd Says:

    Last monday I had no tickets for this week. As of right now I am getting into each night for face. pumped

  8. tela'smuff Says:

    oh sweet Gin. hosed.

  9. Fatbunch Says:

    anyone have a spare DL code for the Hollywood Bowl? If yes, hit me up at fatbunch at the g of the mail…?

  10. litteringandd Says:

    Anybody else seen the videos of that stage collasping at the Indiana State Fair. Scary stuff

  11. angryjoggerz Says:

    Silly and Tzara’s:


  12. albert walker Says:

    # 372 of 892 reasons you have to be damn near insane go to the Indiana State Fair

  13. Mike in Austin Says:

    ha ha

  14. Mike in Austin Says:

    Wait, I’m really sorry for all those at the Indiana State Fair who suffered through that.

  15. albert walker Says:

    nice little Split. not too bad coming back into the head.

    well played set I from LA with a nice little Split to close. just needed a tad more creativity and originality to the rest of the set.

    on to set II

  16. voopa Says:

    Yet another reason why I’m not a Sugarland fan.

  17. voopa Says:

    But yes, condolences and all that.

    Agree about Bowl I AW, Split didn’t quite get there for me. Dug the BOTT jam. Obv Carini through Piper is where it’s at for this show, but I agree about the lil’ Tube jam too. That’s the best part of this era as opposed to 2.0 or late 1.0, there’s little nuggets to be had all over. 2 sides of Weekapaug was pretty good too, but could’ve used a little extra mustard, not just Deserting-based Cheese.

  18. Fatbunch Says:

    Ha ha, just dawned on me why the Goge RnR jam isn’t a f-the-royalties jam… Doh! After the n’th time listening to that theremin section when Mike comes in with the wacked-out “It’s allright” I realized he’s not just trying to reassure me the listerner… 😉 That is definitely a “what’s going on, man????” moment!

  19. albert walker Says:

    I loved set II live voopa. just haven’t spun it yet. about to put it on the phone and go running here. see if I can clear the lungs out. the week was crunchy and loved everything through piper

    agreed not the splits of splits but with the kinda standard contained feel of the rest of the set nice little change. fun enough first set closer.

  20. Fatbunch Says:

    @Voopa – glad you got to hang w/my man Locust and his lovely bride in Tahoe! Thanks for hooking those cats up!

  21. Kaveh Says:

    Thanks aj. I’ll see you and troops tomorrow at the bar.

  22. angryjoggerz Says:

    Not tomorrow! Tuesday!!!

  23. Fatbunch Says:

    ^do we think that’s Mike or Fish telling us it’s allright in the late RnR jam?

  24. Mdawg Says:

    FACT: Midwest Phish Melts Faces!

  25. Mike in Austin Says:

    Just go back from a 4 mile wetlands walk/jog here in Petaluma. Very nice.

    Driving down to San Jose. Probably stop off in Marin County then San Fran to see a friend, then get down to San Jose around 9 pm tonight. Leave California tomorrow. Don’t see any reasons for weather flying out tomorrow, so should be good.

    Love that I’m going to see UIC, but hate leaving California. Least I got a full week out here and saw some great friends. Drank some wine, etc.

    See ya California, UIC here I come.

    I have two GAs tomorrow. I’ll park it in front of CK5 with Furblanket Rat if we don’t make the meet up. I’m the 6’5″ big tall dude.

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