Tahoe Revisited

8.9.11 J.Crouch)

When comparing stands of summer’s second leg, Tahoe hasn’t felt the type of love that the Gorge or UIC has received. And while that analysis is completely justified, and the second night left much to be desired, let’s not sweep Tahoe under the rug just yet. Overshadowed by the bookends of Leg Two, the first night of Tahoe stands humbly in the wings; a dark-horse, two-set effort that can hold its own against the stronger shows of summer. Were it not for the wooked-out cocktail party that was popping off throughout the venue all night long (a result of the casino vibe bleeding right into the show) and an undersized sound system that couldn’t compensate for said wooks, the first night would be getting more props for what it was—another stellar night along summer’s second leg.

8.9.11 J.Crouch)

While some shows over this last run were defined exclusively by their second set theatrics, Tahoe’s opening frame carried some significant weight. “Party Time” provided a surprise opening and the rare combination of “Oh Kee Pah > Bag” got the party started in earnest. “Mellow Mood” in the mountain sunshine matched perfectly, as everyone began feeling the set before the band had dropped into any jams at all. Stretching out the intro to “Punch” into an infectious series of grooves, the momentum of the set began to grow. And following a bust out of the ’98 relic “Meat,” the band got serious with a mid-set “David Bowie.” Quite the odd placement for the jam made it all the more enticing as Phish dipped their ladle into melodic-infused darkness early on in the show. A blistering “46 Days” brought one of August’s better first sets to a close.

But—as usual—very few people would walk out of Harvey’s glorified parking lot buzzing about the first set. Enthusiastic conversations centered on the colossal, bass-led excursion that grew out of “Light,” and how it traveled through intergalactic wormholes dripping with harrowing textures and futuristic, beat-driven soundscapes. The band locked into another forward-looking adventure out West—one of those jams that rendered the rest of the set gravy. But this gravy was was quite good.

As “Light” meandered into nothing—as so many of its outlandish journeys tend to—Trey slowly wound up the into to “Chalk Dust” in a complete juxtaposition of styles. From the outer rings of Saturn to slamming white lights, the band jumped right back into a rock concert with little buffer zone. But as a dynamic “Chalk Dust” flew through multiple teases, the band all of a sudden had the crowd on its knees with a delicate breakdown of the classic rock anthem, efficiently deconstructing the song with a melodic bridge to a mid-set “Slave.” And per usual, when Phish centers “Slave” in the second set, a highlight rendition was sure to follow. Slowly building through blissful textures to match the mountain locale, the band unfurled a cathartic centerpiece that resolved “Light’s” journey into the center of the Earth.

8.9.10 (John Crouch)

A concise but cathartic “Jibboo” had opened the set, and after a seemingly random “Free” came out after “Slave,” the show’s delicate feel continued. Apparently spurred on by a legion of fans in some sort of on-going campaign, Phish broke out Elton John’s “Rocket Man: late in the second set, a cover which Page did far more justice than the thousands of bellowing drunkards ever could. And closing upon a similar note, the band dropped into “Harry Hood.” Though “Hood” was tight, it remained a relatively vanilla version. But Phish had one last gasp left—“Walls of the Cave.” And while I can’t say that the song seemed to fit in the set, I can vouch for the fact that Phish tore it to pieces. Ballooning the end jam into a set-closing exclamation point, the guys punctuated a rather delicate show with a bang.

Returning to the mellower feel for the double encore of “Bug, Squirming Coil,” Phish whispered their goodbyes into the cool mountain evening. And though the debauchery would grow from there, Phish left stage with a very mood-matching performance that greeted their fans to the gorgeous locale of Lake Tahoe. And with all the deserved hoopla over UIC and the Gorge, this gem—with a distinct flow from beginning to end—has gotten lost in the mix. Give it a re-spin, you won’t be disappointed.


Jam of the Day:

Light” 8.9.11 II

One of the standout jams of 2011; a dark trek into progressive bass-led mania.



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1,022 Responses to “Tahoe Revisited”

  1. bouncin fan Says:

    See I’m an old Rasta MIA. For me getting out of Babylon and just kicking it where music and chilling are all that matters is real life. About 7 years I gave in to the 50 hour work week. Shit beats me up. Robear is living in norcal and doing his old thing so I could see how that isn’t as important to him.

    But for me if I don’t get away from the ivy league kids and the wallstreet salesmen and stress of my job for as many days a year as I can I feel like I am missing out on life.

    I’m still that mountain kid. Growing herbs, seeing music and doing what I want at heart. Need to experience it as much as possible to stay sane.

    For me and my girl our concrete jungle working for the man existence is necessary but far from really living.

  2. Guyute711 Says:

    Don’t be a fool robear. No phish until next summer.

  3. bouncin fan Says:

    so I guess it’s not phish as much as getting out of the daily grind I cherish so much MIA

    phish is just a good excuse to post up in a nice hotel (with balcony) for a weekend, puffing tough, getting spun, and ordering room service

    and yes there are also concerts

    pretty stoked for my last release of the summer before all the traders get back from vaca.

  4. Robear Says:

    Thx y’all. Not trying to belly ache over here. I appreciate all the advice and feedback. G7 with a solid push in the right direction.

  5. Kaveh Says:

    No phish until next summer.

    ^That isn’t what I hear….but then again….you never know.

  6. butter Says:

    yea, but by no means should you skip Dicks expecting a New Years run

    thats the diff between speculation/rumors and official announcements

    they know that, thats why it pisses us off so much when they delay the release information

    we just sit around eating up live bait

    its the life

  7. Mike in Austin Says:

    Gotta get out of the grind AW. I totally understand what you’re saying.

    You gotta be able to disconnect from the bullshit to keep your sanity. That stuff is not the real world.

    Spending three weeks in Europe with the wife, was great. New Zealand for a month was great. That’s all I’m saying. Taking vacation to hang out at a family reunion? That’s not my idea of reconnecting with those important to me.

    If you can get away, and reconnect, it really doesn’t matter where you go. Lucky for me, the wife always was in for hitting up Vancouver, Gorge, Festivals, etc. And lucky for me, Phish was always there.

    Sadly for Robear, I think he has to disconnect a little to get away. I could be wrong though. I’m know he has a touch decision.

    Going to Cincy for a show, not so much for me. Wife let me do Detroit to Cincy solo this year. And damn, I had a good time.

  8. sumodie Says:

    the webcast should have nothing to do with going to Dick’s or not

    I too always say GO to the show, but I can’t speak to anyone’s personal situation

    agreed that the two week break for the band sets up CO very nicely

    Phish’s 3-day run track record in 3.0 has been pretty damned great

  9. bouncin fan Says:

    wow MIA. let’s hope someday me and the lady can take mega month long vacations to europe or new zealand

    unfortunately these little 4 day jaunts during 3 day weekends are about all we can swing

    do have a nice 2 week trip to st. barts planned for new years but we are already back peddling towards catching phish new years.

  10. aphishfan4life Says:

    Hi All –

    Anyone out here feel Phish has become a bit more ‘commercialized’ when seeing them live in concert?

    As if 90% of the jamz are rehearsed and planned and quite honestly, PACKAGED?

    Anyone at all?

    Looking to spark some honest conversation here.

    Disclaimer: I still believe some jamz are organic and free, but the majority of them just sounded so packaged this last tour. Packaged as in ‘fake’.

  11. Robear Says:

    Yeah, I wouldn’t skip the shows because of the webcast. No way. The webcast makes missing a tough show to catch, easier to miss.

  12. MrCompletely Says:



  13. voopa Says:

    No kids.

    32 vacation hours, which is a mistake on behalf of my employer, but I should take advantage.

    Just cashed 2 shares of company stock for $618 (depending on today’s closing price).

    Still haven’t seen Harpua.

    Flights to Denver under $300.


  14. sumodie Says:

    nice overheard pic of Dick’s (top p 3)

    was thinking the field may hold more than 8000 phish fans as the stated field capacity is for seated concerts

    and to think we’ve paid an extra $15/day not to have any chairs in our dance space!

  15. MrCompletely Says:


    no, I don’t think they’re rehearsed per se; but I do think their improvisational technique has become more, well, technical than it ever has before; more based in theory, and conscious-process driven.

    So sometimes if you’re attuned you can kind of hear the process showing through.

    A very valid question which I don’t have time to follow up on today – basically I hear what you mean but don’t agree with your interpretation.

  16. MrCompletely Says:

    “we’re not getting any younger
    life is fucking short as all fuck”


    “one of our scene’s core principals is living in the moment”

    more truth

    “i’d say we are building a pretty good case for hittin dicks”

    kind of a funny thing to spring on us right after your kid was born but we support all your life choices my friend

  17. Phamily Berzerker Says:

    Do it Voopa!

    See you on the field!

  18. aphishfan4life Says:

    Thanks MrC.

    I think you probably stated it more clearly than I attempted to.

    They are definitely more focused on improv technique than ever before. It’s totally awesome and you can hear the various depth levels and almost taste the absolute density of the jamz. Very powerful.

    Maybe it’s just that a lot of the rhythmic changes are a step behind what they used to be, so they are listening more consciously, which ultimately delays the truly organic feeling.

    Thanks for understanding, look forward to more dialogue.

  19. MrCompletely Says:

    ok this driveby has accomplished everything I hoped for

    Robear, if the garden is in order, then your daughter is the question. She’s more important than Phish. If she’s ok, then go. But if she isn’t, don’t. Err on the side of family.

    peace all

  20. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    just heard the worst news for me personally in the aftermath of Irene. one of my favorite little brewpubs – The Alchemist in Waterbury, VT – was destroyed in the flooding that whipped through the valley. They will live on and are going to open a new place but the pub got destroyed. Good thing they just started canning their beers…

  21. MrCompletely Says:

    yes I will be coming out of work deadline/vacation mode after this week and @phishfan I look forward to discussions of this topic specifically as IMO it is the most interesting and relevant aspect of phish music in general and specifically since SBIX

    certainly I know people – very musically aware, oldschool fans – on both sides. Some who find the new technical grounding to be a great thing, others who find it somewhat sterile at times.

  22. Robear Says:

    Talking to daughter. She’s being real cool. Wants to go hack to her moms. They’ve been struggling to communicate. Daughter taking initiative to work on it.

  23. MrCompletely Says:

    wow. your daughter sounds awesome. too bad she has to be the parent to her mom, which is what that sounds like, but that’s sadly not unusual. kind of the family version of “managing upwards”

  24. lawrencewelk Says:

    I think some of the jams in all era were pre rehearsed to some extent. I don’t see how this takes anything away from the music though. Most of the time I just think they’ve played with these ideas behind the curtain so when somebody brings one of those ideas out they know how to fall in place.

    There are other instances though were it seems that they knew they were going to drop a certain melody in a certain song..

  25. bouncin fan Says:


    Bethel Waves
    Bethel Ginteca
    Blossom Sally
    Gorge RnR
    UIC Waves > Undermind
    Tahoe Light
    SBIX Simple
    SBIX Golden Age

    and the all important Storage Jam

    when phish does decide to open it up and organically jam the results is some of the most interesting phish in ages.

    but I also kinda agree with you cuz I love Gin but it’s too the point where I know every change and when trey picks up the licks and when mike drops the bombs. not excited at all of all the template style gins we’ve gotten (Ginteca obviously the outlier)

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