One more leg of Summer 2011 is behind us, and although short—what a power-packed run it was. Only two shows, in my opinion, fell short of amazing and much of the fan base loved ‘em, so I’d say Phish had a pretty successful tour! With the unquestionable centerpiece of the Gorge’s “Rock and Roll -> Meatstick” and several other gems that can look any jam from any era directly in the eye, leg two included timeless music throughout, music that need not carry the omnipresent label: “of 3.0.” Throughout this summer, the band has played music on par with any era and continues to improv, taking one step further into the Golden Age of Phish.
Between the Gorge’s monumental “Rock and Roll -> Meatstick -> Boogie On,” Hollywood’s “Piper,” Tahoe’s “Light” and “Ghost,” UIC’s “Waves -> Undermind” > Steam,” “Light,” and “Disease,” the band’s spirit of exploration was on display throughout the past two weeks. Embarking on a cosmic excursion in almost every show, when they guys weren’t surfing mystical waves, they were annihilating standout versions of more contained jams such as the Gorge’s “Tweezer,” “Sand,” and “Reba,” LA’s “Crosseyed > Twist,” Tahoe’s “Bowie,” “Slave,” UIC’s “Wolfman’s,” “Chalk Dust,” “Harry Hood” and beyond. In short, the band was on fire throughout the second leg, having their way on almost every night of tour while executing many different types of shows.
During their improvisational passages, Phish integrated a new sound—“storage jamming”—into their music. The jams of June built to Super Ball’s late-night, free-form excursion, a session that served as a sonic shift for Phish. And in August, the band took their newest style to the next level. Integrating these sounds in different ways throughout the aforementioned highlights and throughout Leg Two, the band continued forging a blazing path through this calendar year. Experimenting with new sounds and pushing new musical boundaries, Leg Two became a natural evolution of a multi-legged tour that has witnessed Phish being Phish again. Infusing distinctly 2011 psychedelic and abstract effects into their playing, and creating post-modern sound-sculptures, the band has began to hone in on a new sound, something that seemed so elusive only one year ago. Though it may be a cause or effect of this emerging style, Trey laid way back during many jams of August as Mike led the band through wormholes of the universe. Both “Lights” of tour provide prime examples of this dynamic, not to mention several other heavy-handed excursions. Carrying over from June and Super Ball, experimental jamming continued to be a central theme of Phish 2011.
On a tour of dream venues, Phish bookended their run with two that couldn’t be more different. The vast natural surroundings the Gorge contrasted completely with the tiny and overheated environs of UIC Pavilion, though, not surprisingly, these were the two stands that provided the highest collective highs, with the most dialed in crowds of the tour. Throw in Hollywood Bowl, Lake Tahoe, and Golden Gate Park to complete the late-summer circuit, and each stop along the way was a memorable one—a welcome departure from June’s countless cookie-cutter amphitheatres.
During these two weeks before Denver’s summer finale we will look more closely at the many special moments of August. Thinking back to Bethel in May, where this whole shindig got started, things have progressed like a dream over the past few months. And as Phish prepares to step into the freezer one more time in Denver, one can already be sure fans will be listening to Summer 2011 for years to come.Tags: 2011, Summer 2011