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.



Tags: ,

1,022 Responses to “Tahoe Revisited”

  1. Mr.Miner Says:

    so gimme an example of a rehearsed jam so this is not a theoretical discussion…

  2. lastwaltzer Says:

    For example I’d say something like “crosseyed” teases came across as packaged phish or nostalgia phish.

    when they’ve actually jammed in this era they seem to try and not repeat what they’ve done already. They don’t force jams, whenever something isn’t going somewhere they’ve killed it, sometimes to early even.

    If it was a matter of “commercializing phish” they’d be forcing jamz.

  3. Mr.Miner Says:

    i’ll be back to see how this goes 😉

  4. lastwaltzer Says:


    I don’t think anyone is saying they go note for note on a rehearsed theme. I think we’re all saying that some ideas get woodsheded and they know the direction they want to take something or where they want to land so they can lay down a melody they’ve been toying with.

  5. aphishfan4life Says:

    Listen closely when the band drops into the final ‘blissful peak’, and specifically Trey.

    Seriously, go give it a listen…

    Don’t get me wrong, it’s magnificent playing and very beautiful when in the midst of it, but there is a section of the song’s jam that sounds very commercialized…it’s still top tier playing…just canned (read: STALE).

  6. SillyWilly Says:

    re: Robear’s decision and the decision facing all of us phish kids

    I’ve been reading along with this conversation with a deep interest.

    I cannot pretend to give advice to people with families and children. I don’t know what it’s like to have that responsibility. I know Robear will make the right decision and if he doesn’t it won’t be for lack of contemplation. And in the end, that’s really all you can do. Make the best decision you can with the information at hand. Things will come to light later that may validate or invalidate that decision, but we’re not psychics here, so we do the best we can with what we’ve got.

    If I was going to CO, I would want Robear there because the man pours kindness and energy into any situation he finds himself in.

    But that’s part of the dilemma, because if Robear is showing me and all of us that kindness, I can only imagine what he bestows on his daughter. And, I can see what capacity he has to help raise a child in this world.

    One thing I’ve been recognizing glimpses of as the Phish community becomes more and more a part of my own life is that the scene is constantly changing you. The more shows you hit, the more time you spend in the journey that is tour the more it literally becomes a part of you.

    But, this doesn’t mean that hitting shows should necessarily be everyone’s priority. The scene will still be working on you if you’re not there. Sometimes, it will even be affecting you in a more powerful way than if you are there.

    A lot of people are saying family>Phamily and I think for many of us that’s true because many of the lessons learned from our Phamily become more powerful in our family.

    In Robear’s case, it’s wonderful that he has developed the habit for kindness to all of us. But that habit for kindness, in my opinion, pales in comparison to the habit for kindness that he has developed for his children.

    the scene teaches us many lessons for unselfishness. But, sometimes the right thing to do is to return that unselfishness outside of the scene.

    and I can guarantee you that the next time I’m at a Phish show, and they drop into a beautiful theme, the example of people like Robear with his kids and family, butter with his daughter on tour, etc. are going to be an image that enhances my own experience

    it’s literally all happening.

  7. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    what exactly do you mean by “commercialized”?

    this word has connotations that I don’t think you intend so I want to be sure what you mean before responding to that line of thinking.

  8. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    great stuff swilly

  9. lastwaltzer Says:

    “Seriously, go give it a listen…”

    giving it a listen 😉

  10. Phamily Berzerker Says:

    Silly FTW!

  11. BingosBrother Says:

    The Phamily needs to start rubbing off on my soccer team. Phish always wins, but we always lose.

  12. aphishfan4life Says:

    Commercialized = Canned = Nostalgia (not really true in the present time)


    Not fresh, organic.

    Again, don’t get me wrong, the phish sounds are still my favorite in the world, but for some reason it’s coming off a bit planned.

    And in the end, it’s really okay. Just kind of a major turn-off for some, due to various reasons.

  13. Mike in Austin Says:

    SW posts the best thing I’ve read on here in a long time. Great stuff. Wish I could star that post.

    I 100% agree. I learned more about how to connect to the moment being at a Phish show than anything else I’ve learned anywhere.

    And when you’re not at a Phish show, and you’re still connecting, it’s a great great thing. Phish shows are practice for real life sometimes. Learning to live in the exact moment.

  14. halcyon Says:

    Morning folks.

    This past weekend’s Deadpod features a great Jerry acoustic set from 8/29/87

    You can listen here: http://traffic.libsyn.com/deadshow/deadpod082611.mp3

    Incredible sound, and Jerry sounds so sweet.

  15. TrippingBilly Says:

    anyone else here gonna be at the Caravan this weekend?
    my first trip to The Gorge!!

  16. bouncin fan Says:

    just goes to show the uphill battle Trey faces in keeping his varied fan base happy

    who would have thought anyone had anything negative to say about the UIC wolfman’s

    to me that was pure vintage let’s see where wolfman’s can take us jam. especially considering most versions have been the crunchy clav led harder funk but have stayed in the box.

    SBIX kinda showed Trey was ready to give it a bit more outside the box love and than UIC just blew it up

    love that Wolfman’s. to me it has a very 3.0 song to it which by nature kidna takes the nostalgia vibe out of it

    just one man’s opinion though.

  17. bouncin fan Says:

    3.0 feel to it. mike led with Trey laying back.

  18. BingosBrother Says:

    If UIC Wolfmans was canned, it was by God’s hands.

  19. bouncin fan Says:


    just to help me understand your point of view.

    what would you say are 5 of your fav 3.0 jams and 3 of your fav shows?

  20. Lycanthropist Says:

    UIC Wolfman’s canned and commercialized?

    sorry cant come to a defense of that statement.

    That is one of my favorite jams of the second leg

  21. aphishfan4life Says:


    It’s not really a negative thing to say, per se (by me), and I didn’t intend for it to come off that way.

    But to me, personally, in my own mind, sounded a bit stale when ‘live and in person’ @ UIC, and when listening afterwards.

    Just goes to show, ya don’t ever know.

  22. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    thanks for the pod link @halcy

  23. Robear Says:

    Wow, Sily. Tanks man. I only hope my daughter meets a guy like you when she gets older.

    I’ve been blessed with an awesome kid.

    Even though I only get her every other week, I think we spend more quality time together than I gotnwith my two full time parents.

    Garden looking good. PM trying to rear it’s ugly face. Workingon getting a leg up there too.

  24. Lycanthropist Says:

    That wolfman’s broke the 3.0 wolfman’s mold for the first time since they have come back IMO

  25. lastwaltzer Says:

    “Commercialized = Canned = Nostalgia (not really true in the present time)”aphishfan

    Look, they’re playing songs that are nearly 20 fucking years old. Wolfman’s can never sound “fresh”. Its also always gonna sound like a “greatest hit”, that said the jams don’t seem “stale”. Of course a wolfman’s is gonna be funk, were you epecting them to drop some trip hop?

    The wolfmans features some great great funk playing a builds on a lot of their recent sound. This isn’t 97 funk, this is tight funk with lots of interplay. Dashs of plinko, some ambient sounds, lots of condensed conversation. I don’t know what else your looking for, trip hop I assume.

    To me Phish being a nostalgia band would be them harping on old styles and not playing new material. I don’t hear to many jams in this era that seem cut and paste from the years of old. 09 was pretty straight forward but since they they’ve been building a new sound.

    A “comerical” wolfmans would run 5 minutes, like the ghost on night 3. They’d be playing the song to just play the song. Like in a trey acoustic set.

Leave a Reply