A Triumphant Trifecta

UIC 2011 (Chad Smith)

Phish finished up their second leg of summer at UIC Pavilion with one of their outstanding multi-night runs of the year. Returning to the historic and intimate venue that hosted five spectacular shows in their career, when Phish stepped inside for the first and only time of summer, things were bound to explode. Over the course of three nights the band showcased a diversity of jamming styles and song selections that pleased just about everyone in attendance while summing up their exploits of the season quite well.

8.15.11 (Masthay)

Ever since the first night of UIC ended, the fan base has been buzzing about the “all killer, no filler” improvisational extravaganza that took place after setbreak. Not only did Phish jam their way through a near-perfect set, they put lens on cutting edge, experimental jamming. Infusing the second set of 8.15 with all sorts of “storage shed” psychedelia, the sequences of “Sand > Light” and “Waves -> Undermind” represent the purely new-school Phish with a focus on bass-led exploration. And within these four jams, the band illustrated the breadth of their current styles. Taking “Sand” on a ferocious groove odyssey, the band merged this year’s central dance vehicle with its renewed cosmic juggernaut—“Light”—via a dissonant spacescape. “Light’s” jam illustrated their newest style of abstract playing, one where the rhythmic section leads the way and Trey and Page focus on weaving psychedelic offerings into the whole rather than playing leads atop. Deepening into an interstellar brew, this segment put a lens on the avant-garde.

The jam out of “Waves” saw the band begin to head towards “Undermind” right off the bat, but then Trey held back to explore the groove at hand, dripping into an uncompressed growl amidst a sinister rhythmic palate. Taking this segment on a spontaneous ride, the band continued their unparalleled interplay amidst a sizzling passage that set up a surprise and seamless segue into “Undermind.” And with “Undermind,” the set’s bass-led and exploratory themes peaked with a chunky -turned-soul-tugging sequence that left more than a few jaws hanging low. Pouring a night of improvisational gold, the band also included, in my opinion, the most impressive “Wolfman’s” of the year and a smooth version of “Reba” in the opening frame.

8.16.11 (Masthay)

While the first night was focused on newest frontiers of Phish music, the second brought a more classic and upbeat two-setter with tight playing throughout. But the centerpiece of this night—a twenty-minute “Down With Disease”—provided ample jamming to carry the second set on its own. Likening a post-hiatus jam without the opiates, this “Disease” didn’t carry a unified theme, but rather one idea from the jam continued to spawn the next in a constantly growing, but rarely settling, piece of music. Passing through so many intriguing segments with tight communication, the band crafted a standout excursion that carried an alternate feel. This “Disease” illustrates a different beast altogether, a sprawling anomaly in this age of ultra-focused Phish jamming, but it is filled with aural candy nonetheless. Sandwiching a couple monstrous guitar peaks in “Number Line” and “Theme” in the middle of the set, Phish punctuated the feel-good frame with a funktatstic “You Enjoy Myself.” With a first set highlighted by uncharacteristically creative versions of “Chalk Dust” and “Limb by Limb,” this night was comprised of more anthemic jam vehicles.

8.17.11 (Masthay)

And on night three, Phish had some fun. Without delving into much serious improv, the band put on a lighthearted tour-finale that carried a “Crosseyed” theme throughout a segmented second set. Though many jams had already been dropped by night three, with “Tweezer,” “Ghost,” “Piper” and “2001” waiting in the wings, one couldn’t help but ponder a fantasy set. But in summation, the show’s 17-minute “Divided Sky” was as long as “Tweezer,” “Ghost,” and “Timber” combined. And while time is no longer a determining factor in Phish jams, this equation is quite the farce and underlines the lack of music depth within this second set. The band, however, was playing great all night long, deciding to take a different route in their tour closer. The most creative piece of the night stemmed from “Piper” whose dense musical textures continued to push the band in new directions. But other than “Piper,” the band never truly settled in any jam (less a rocking-turned-ambient “Crosseyed” opener), and the show came off a bit gimmicky with “Still Waiting” vocal reprises around every corner. But lots of people love this type of show, and the guys certainly pleased a large part of their audience with a night of Phishertainment.

Presenting a smorgasbord of eclectic jamming styles and powerhouse playing over three nights, Phish threw down the gauntlet over an unforgettable stand in Chicago. The intensity of UIC’s undersized environs brought leg two to a sweltering conclusion, literally and figuratively. Shows are always more powerful when two sets happen in the dark, and there are only a few outdoor venues that can hold a candle to a setting like UIC. Boasting an incredibly responsive crowd filled with people who really wanted to be there, the community, as a whole, ended August with a peak experience. And this summer, starting in Bethel, it seems that peak experiences are coming at us in droves again—a hallmark of Phish’s greatest eras.

UIC 2011 (Chad Smith)


Jam of the Day:

Waves -> Undermind > Steam” 8.15.11 II

A serious chunk of music from UIC’s first night.



In other news…

On the newest edition of The Philler, Robert Champion leads a rundown on Phish’s opening leg of summer tour. My segment comes in the last half hour of the show, so be sure to check it out. Once again, the guys at The Sloping Companion are at the top of their game, cranking out an engaging cloudcast with multiple guests, comedic sketches of the bizarre, and plenty of great music. Also, click “Follow” here (or on their Mixcloud page) so that you will know each time a new broadcast is posted and to be entered into future contests! Listen to the current cloudcast below…

The Philler – Episode 5 – Leg One 2011 by The Sloping Companion on Mixcloud

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1,038 Responses to “A Triumphant Trifecta”

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  1. kdub Says:

    @ mr Miner – I was looking over your book site. I was wondering two things. One, when is it coming out. Two, what will be the cost of the book?

  2. lumpyhead Says:

    Nice… first.

    morning everybody. let’s get that CO meetup sheet going, eh?

    this undermind is re-diculous.

  3. bigjig Says:

    Man, really having a hard time dealing with the fact that I had to miss Chicago. Was really looking forward to getting back to UIC, only to have my summer vacation cut short by illness. Sounds like everyone had a great time and the boys were in full effect.I guess it wasn’t meant to be, but maybe this run in CO. will give me some solace.

  4. lumpyhead Says:


    listened to the sloping companion interview with you… “I think that similarity is a large reason why people connect to what I’m writing, and it’s more of an emotional take on the show than a technical one.”


  5. ThePigSong Says:

    nice recap! I’m listening to the slope this morning.


    Thanks for all the fall 95 recs last night. I decided on starting with just December and seeing how that goes.

  6. phoammhead Says:

    thanks for keeping IT coming, MrMiner!

  7. listentomorejazz Says:

    As always, enjoyed the write-up, I wish I could have been there.

    I just have to say, check out Mike’s scarf! He is so fly…

  8. Mike in Austin Says:


  9. dbone Says:

    enjoyed the write up. Just wanted to say that within the context of all the goods that UIC delivered it is not surprising that the first night Hood encore isn’t getting so much love (or maybe it is and I just haven’t been tuned in) but it is not to be overlooked IMO. Just finished listening again and it goes from interesting and lively intro. to way laid back and extremely Mike led opening jam to soulfoul trey rock.

    2 other quick notes from my UIC re-listening: Mexican Cousin seems to include a Waves jam. And is part of the DWD jam a crosseyed jam or am I just hearing things?

  10. halcyon Says:

    Morning folks!

    Looking forward to The Sloping Companion once again.

    Good write up Miner. DWD had many textures and elements, and goes deep. Love that version.

    New ticket seller to compete with ticketbastard. axs.com who are part of AEG (the same ones that run tickethorse).

  11. EL Duderino Says:

    Will Colorado be the next Oswego?!?
    That is the question!

  12. Dr Pronoia Says:

    nailed this write-up, miner.

    i felt the same way, that the band hit on all aspects of their jamming styles, pleasing all segments of their fanbase over the three nights with three very distinct types of shows, leaving those there fully sated and reeling. I’m still trying to process all that went down

    just started listening back yesterday, and the tightness and creativity, and easeful swagger just drip from the recordings. Combined with the memories of just how happy and loose the band appeared on stage, THAT’s how you end up with a 3-pack like UIC

    And I fully agree, dbone – discussion of UIC1 has to include the encore. After a magical set like the second, the boys coming out and playing another 35 minutes of note-perfect music, culminating in that sublime Hood? Wow, what an experience

  13. st8 of mind Says:

    Wow, you nailed it here Miner. I attended the shows and you just summed it up perfectly. Your excellence is much appreciated. Thank you so much!

  14. Jtran Says:

    Morning ‘rades

  15. ThePigSong Says:

    I love the phish themed phone calls Robert.

    “if you would like you could try and send it through the mockingbird” lol

    “she won’t talk to anyone until they surrender to the flow”

  16. albert walker Says:

    1 jam like Gorge RnR and 1 set like UIC 1 set II and I will be quite satisfied with my Colorado run

    making a last minute trip to Colorado. looking for GA field tix for any day. need a pair each day.

    also need to pimp the Tahoe


    plinko and type II Jim with a Ghost that feels like it’s running off the rails the whole time in a good way that dissolves into some beautiful storage jam

    have fun kids. would love some help with the tix
    busy at work

  17. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    great stuff on the gordeaux hotline

    seventeen types of jamming?!?

    don’t tease, mike

  18. halcyon Says:


    I know someone with extras, however don’t know if they are fields or stands. If they are GA fields I will let you know.

  19. joemeg Says:

    bigjig, I also had to miss UIC (and the West Coast run due to health reasons), was really bummed about it. But at least we get to listen to SBDs the next day. Listening to UIC 1 really brightened my Tuesday the next day. And I realized that I would have felt way to guilty had I seen that show without my wife.

  20. halcyon Says:

    Actually AW there are people selling field tickets on tickethorse. they will be flash seats.


  21. albert walker Says:

    thanks Hal. was wondering why everything was so high on stub hub

    gonna underbid some cats now

    I imagine these things will be free at the show but I have trouble traveling without ticks.

  22. albert walker Says:

    there aren’t too many on there and they hit you with a stiff convenience charge

    so def could still use help on any GA field tix. will pay face.


  23. stapes Says:

    thanks for the writeup miner. great as always. i’m still absorbing all the wonderful music from the 3 nights. i like the DwD a little more everytime i listen to it.

    getting pumped for CO!

  24. lastwaltzer Says:

    anybody got any ideas for scoring a cheap airfare? Got screwed not buying a ticket last night and am trying to fly outta here next week. Thought about trying the priceline deal but don’t think thats gonna work cause of the time variable.

    and yes i already googled that 😉

  25. angryjoggerz Says:

    I’m just pretending that the CO shows are not happening. Denial is my friend.

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