Dreaming In Denver

9.3.11 Michael Stein

On the middle night of Denver’s summer finale, Phish threw down a show that rivaled any of the season. Without having listened back just yet, because sometimes—well—it’s just better that way, I can, unquestionably, vouch for the two-set powerhouse. In an absolute showcase of why I travel this country far and wide chasing down a dream, the band crafted a second set that underlined the intangible excellence of now in the universe of Phish.

Fusing central jam vehicles “Down with Disease” and “Tweezer” into a half-hour of the most sublime music of the summer, the band finally went deep on “Tweezer” and came up with timeless jam that immediately vaulted itself into my favorite pieces of music I’ve ever experienced. I don’t need to hear it again—I don’t need any listen-back guarantee—it’s that good. Fusing bliss and groove in an improvisational odyssey, the likes of which I thought only lived in the far recesses of my imagination, Phish dropped a jam that will remain in all of our listening rotations for the rest of time.

9.3.11 (M.Stein)

And how they got there was a great part of the adventure. Taking a set-opening “Disease” into an exploratory realm and then patiently building towards a ridiculous segue into “Tweezer,” the band seemed in the brink of an all-time transition. Having deliberately spent time weaving the song’s together, at the last second the band (or a single member) inexplicably rushed the final entry into “Tweezer,” botching the pure transition. But at the same time, having just jammed a stellar “Disease” into “Tweezer,” rushed by a five seconds or not, shit was on like donkey kong! And instead of my writing about this “Tweezer” right now, do yourself a favor and just go listen. It’s rare that I get back to my hotel without the immediate desire replay what I just lived, but somehow, once I got back home last-night, this soul-cleansing journey wasn’t something I was ready to hear so quickly. In all seriousness, however, if you weren’t there, you should do it now. Check it out…Phish at their absolute finest.

9.2.11 (M.Stein)

When the opening half-hour of the second set consisted of nothing but “Disease -> Tweezer,” the band could have played “Julius” six times and walked off stage and I’d have been a pig in shit. But, thankfully, they only played it once towards the end of the set when things had already been scribed in the record books by a set of music that never let up for a moment. After a half-hour of exploratory jamming, one would expect such an epic “Tweezer” to bleed into “Prince Caspian,” and certainly not “Golden Age!” But that’s the kind of night it was. Tacking on the first jammed-out version since Super Ball, Phish tied a third open jam onto an unfolding masterpiece. Punctuating the opening run with a spectacular and hard-peaking “Limb by Limb,” for the second night in row, anything the band touched was turning to gold. Thus, when they started up “Kill Devil Falls”—a song I’d never want to hear in the middle of a second set—it didn’t make me flinch. On a night like last, the songs were completely secondary to the in-the-moment jamming that took hold of the band from the onset of the show. And as the band careened through the blistering rock jam, just when song usually winds down, the band hopped right back into the high-speed textures from which they had just descended. And when this bonus segment came to a close, the band seeped into the ambient openings of “2001.”

9.3.11 (Michael Stein)

It felt like a “YEM” might sprout from the peak of “2001,” but when “Light” came out of the song’s peak, the dreamscape just became more vivid. A passionate exploration of “Light”—another highlight of a set made of them—built to a delicate passage where Trey hinted at the “Down With Disease” lick. And as the rest of the band jumped into a percussive hybrid of the two songs—a legitimate “Disease Reprise”—one of the show’s most awe-inducing moments materialized out of the unlikeliest of places. At this stage of the set, the band, the crowd, and the entire universe had experienced a massive triumph, and when the band did finally segue into “Julius” amidst one of their sickest sets of the year, it seemed sardonically appropriate. “Cavern,” the seeming set-closer, set the table for an “Antelope” that punctuated this show complete. And to bring the set full circle, amidst the chaotic jam, Trey wove in calculated “Disease” licks, another sign of a band that is clearly communicating as well if not better than ever.

The classic encore of “Sleeping Monkey,” “Tweezer Reprise” provided a classy signature on a show of immediate lore. I’ll be back after the tour to rehash this whole affair in a far more musically-focused fashion. But for now, the emotions are all that will come through the keys. With one night left of a summer of legend, the band is at the top of their game, and it’s all just a blessing to be a part of.

9.2.11 (M.Stein)

First Set Thoughts: The opening frame of last night show—though only containing one true jam vehicle in “Wolfman’s Brother,” retained full engagement from the get go. Each and every song in the set got the full treatment, as each piece represented a supercharged version of its normal self. If one song stood out to me in the first set, it was “Llama.” For the past couple years, the song seemed like its old-school energy could never be matched, and that a bust-out would always be fun for the memories. But in the type of performance that underlines the band’s unbridled confidence of the moment, they exploded with a fury brought the audience back to the song’s most gloriest of days. A super smooth “Moma,” an unusually huge “Ocelot” and a slamming “Funky Bitch” also stood out in a frame that featured on-point playing throughout. And to close the set came another creative excursion of “Wolfman’s,” a version that grew into uncharted waters before returning to the song’s conclusion in a massive set closer. Fuck—even “Possum” shredded. It was just one of those nights.

I: Possum, The Moma Dance, The Wedge, Ocelot, The Divided Sky, Funky Bitch, Axilla > Llama, Fast Enough for You, Wolfman’s Brother

II: Down with Disease -> Tweezer > Golden Age > Limb By Limb, Kill Devil Falls > Also Sprach Zarathustra > Light* -> Julius > Cavern, Run Like an Antelope

E: Sleeping Monkey > Tweezer Reprise

*w/ “Disease Reprise” jam

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1,147 Responses to “Dreaming In Denver”

  1. butter Says:

    transitions fine from Disease to Tweez

    if you notice, alot of these > the rest of the boys are dropping out and letting Trey start the song. Fish seemed a bit in auto pilot mode, this run, following Trey and thinking less.

    noticed last night besides Piper being a full band -> , and Mike seemed to steer into the final notes of ‘Come together’

    i never watch as close as i did during the stream last night, and i gotta say the impression i walk away with from the stream and watching them is

    that its Trey’s band as much as ever

    and i’m not just falling for all his deep knee bends 🙂

  2. butter Says:

    cant wait to spin last night with the flacs

    stream is cool, its the best thing on TV, but a bit sterile

    i like eating L and puffing with all my friends and dancing

    tying to stay awake on the couch like its an extra inning baseball game is def not the essence of this experience

  3. stapes Says:

    last 3 nights are what it’s all about. at least for me it was.

    great music, good people, good vibes all weekend.

    hope everyone traveling gets home safely and hassle free

  4. phoammhead Says:

    i’ve notice that i believe trey goes into deep knee bends when he’s trying to keep himself pumped up . . . kinda like he’s saying to himself, “come on, let’s go . . . let’s do this!”

  5. butter Says:

    CO Tweez is THAT great

  6. butter Says:

    Trey’s effort to peak that Hood last night was thru the roof

    wanted to give him a big ole atta boy slap on the ass right thru the monitor

  7. butter Says:

    not as much face making from Red

    more pedal working and technical destruction

  8. stapes Says:

    that hood was great. they peaked it like no other lately.

  9. phoammhead Says:

    i’m a suskind hotel fan

  10. butter Says:

    that was my first stream, besides a few tunes on Friday

    just like the 3d movie didn’t move me as much, the stream was kinda mehtastic

    i never look at the stage like that, (def gets boring for me)
    mrs butter probably had it right, just laying on the couch, not even looking at the TV

    cant wait to read Miner’s take

  11. butter Says:

    dont get me wrong, the stream is what it is

    i’m just a tour kid at heart, and if its worth streamin…then why the fuck arent i there?…… just pumps thru my blood

    think i’m a flac and bong rips the next day kinda guy, still going about my day

    could be more fun with a party or the right group of people, tho

  12. phoammhead Says:

    yeah butter, nothin’ like the real mcCoy.

  13. butter Says:

    anyway a distinct 95 vibe meets 2011 last night

    “Maze” opener and “come together”

  14. marcoesq Says:

    What is that old tune Page is teasing during the Tweezer bridge?

  15. butter Says:

    dont know marcoesq

    but that little flute staccato tone Trey uses in the Tweez jam is so $$$$$

    refined use of the Miami Tweez tone

  16. Willowed Says:

    That bass work by gordo sliding into come together was wonderful. The sound sailed thru that open air. Truly great.

  17. butter Says:

    stared straight into the future

    bb:::::tell me what do you see?

    a new years run and a europe tour

  18. butter Says:

    and freshie MIner:::::::::next post

  19. I'm on my way Says:

    I think I’m in the minority when I say that night 2 was the best.

  20. joy Says:

    I just love this review :). When Miner is cursing up a storm, ya just know it was good. Night 1 was my favorite – is there a consensus of sorts on a particular night?

  21. Gratefulcub Says:

    One more show, for Vermont.

    I love these guys. I love them like distant uncles that I am proud to call family. Clean, sober, healthy, happy, and a beacon of light in a sometimes dreary world.

    They are inviting us into their home once again. I hope all of you are able to be there.

  22. Dan I am Says:

    The energy in that place was just off the charts. What an amazing show. Saturday will go down in Phishtory for me. The best show I have ever been to.

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