Viewing ‘Roo Through the Screen

Official Bonnaroo Print (Kelly)

Yesterday was my first webcast. It was odd at first. It certainly didn’t seem real; more like watching an old DVD I had never discovered. Instead of dancing, I texted my friends and posted on Twitter for much of the first show—the entire experience felt different than a Phish show. But then I got into it. The soundboard feed and crystal clear video began to draw me in, and my first night of couch tour turned into fun time. It was certainly a novelty—bong hits on the couch while cranking the show in the early evening in California? Not a wook to be seen? No spilled beers? Not so bad, really. Was it a substitute for being there? Not at all. But watching live was certainly a great option to be as close to Manchester, Tennessee as I desired.

I don’t feel that one can give a review of a show without being there to experience—it’s just not a genuine take. But in the interest of consistency throughout the summer, I figured I’d share some thoughts on the three segments of the show that stood out the most.

“Tweezer” I

After a long string of standardized singles in the first set, the band really brought me off the couch late in the opening set with the first “Tweezer” of 2012. As soon as the band launched into the jam, they dropped into virtual silence for a few measures before creeping into a very minimalist groove. With almost no backbeat, Trey began to weave a signature staccatto—or  “plinko”—lick into the mix, pushing the delicate groove forward. Each of the the band members were laying so far back in was as if they each had their own Lazy Boy, and the result was quiet and collaborative sonic tapestry. Fishman gradually built up the jam’s rhythmic backbone, as Page stepped up for the second part of the jam. But aside from Trey’s final guiar solo, this version strayed from a conventional “Tweezer” territory, continuing the fresh trend of Worcester. After the peak, the band slid into a brief ambient outro in which Fishman seemed to be hinting at “My Left Toe.” But Trey ended any such ideas with the opening riff of “Free.”

“Carini -> Shafty” II

Bonnaroo 2012

For the second time in three shows, Phish used “Carini” as a second set launch pad into sinister waters. While Worcester’s version traveled into ambient dementia, Bonnaroo’s maintained a hard-edged psych rock vibe, as Mike anchored the jam with gargantuan bass grooves. Rather than soloing, Trey favored seething, uncompressed, Hendrix-like guitar growls while Mike and Page led the thick, psychedelic brew. As the band added layers of spacier effects over the groove, Trey took a high-register staccato solo over the increasingly abstract music. The final segment saw him carving out notes with long sustain as Mike soon decided to drop the “Shafy” bassline behind the jam. For the second time this tour, Mike was the apparent decision maker of musical direction, and this time, Trey quickly fell in line, coalescing in a smooth segue. This two-song sequence was the no-doubt highlight of the second set, while featuring the first “Shafty” since Miami ’03.

 “Harry Hood -> Light” I

(Unknown)

Towards the end of the second set, Phish dropped this unlikely song pairing. But before we get to the segue, let’s talk about the “Hood!” While Worcester’s version was nice, Bonnaroo’s was in another league. Playing with incredible passion, Trey lit up this rendition with original melodies that were distinctly different from his usual arsenal, and his finger dexterity and fluidity was on full display again. Mike responded throughout the jam with unique lines of his own, and “Hood” fully elevated with their ongoing, creative exchange. Once the band reached the top of the cathartic jam, instead of moving into “Hood’s” final section, Trey used the expected change to move into “Light” via a series of choppy rhythm chords.  This unexpected shift mimicked a similar transition from the band’s set at Austin City Limits set in 2010, but this time, they got into some experimental ambient textures in “Light.” While not fully developing a jam out after the composed section, the band did build a dark and abstract sound sculpture than extended well beyond the normal song structure.

Now Phish will take an uncharacteristic four-day break before playing again Friday in Atlantic City. Enjoy the week and see you there for the continuation what looks to be a very promising tour! See you on the road…

I: Down With Disease, Funky Bitch, The Moma Dance, Sample in a Jar, Axilla, The Gambler*, Possum, Wilson, Tweezer > Free, Backwards Down the Number Line, Cavern, 

II: Golden Age > Also Sprach Zarathustra > Chalk Dust Torture, Carini -> Shafty > Rock and Roll, Alaska, Harry Hood -> Light > Character Zero, Rocky Top 

E: Show of Life, Julius, Tweezer Reprise

* w/ Kenny Rogers

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750 Responses to “Viewing ‘Roo Through the Screen”

  1. BERKELEY HEAD Says:

    Oops! I think I just committed the BB equivalent to blowing the bowl with my double post. Sorry all

  2. Phamily Berzerker Says:

    There’s your first paddlin, BH!

    I like Alaska just not in set 2. I am sober so I have no real excuse. I accept it. Best place to hear Alaska? on Party Time.

  3. Gavinsdad Says:

    I truly do appreciate this bizarre and beautiful community. Two years ago one of my best friends died…a tragic death. Way too early. Day before the service I sought healing at Hershey and was emotionally propped up by many new and old friends…the bulk of the new friends didn’t know what I was going thru, but their humor and lack of pretense was a healing balm. We never know what others are experiencing on a day to day or at a show. Hopefully we can all be there to prop someone up who needs the support, even when we don’t know they need it.

  4. xpun Says:

    double posts = a paddlin

    mia is the king of double and a time or two triple posts

    apparently he thinks its his iphones fault

    what shows you hitting BH

  5. Phamily Berzerker Says:

    CO people:

    Is the Mish gonna make it?

  6. Phamily Berzerker Says:

    Gdad you are hitting BGCA, no?

  7. GhostPhunk Says:

    Beautiful stuff Gavinsdad. I really want to come back with something more right now but I’ve got nothing but long stories that would only do justice in a live setting. Great post though man.

  8. xpun Says:

    oh yeah and BH, gavinsdad is our resident philosopher. dude can break it down

    @gdad – sorry for your loss and glad you were able to be lifted by the community. there is so much positive energy not only here on the bb, but in general in the scene.

  9. Gavinsdad Says:

    Didnt mean to hog up with the sap but this girl was my tour mom…read at our wedding….that type of good friend. Just putting it out there. This weekend I throw down for her no doubt.

    @pham – will see u on the floor in sf :)

  10. voopa Says:

    PB – Hard to say…this map (PDF) shows the affected area as of this morning…Mish is to the right of the center top edge of the affected area, I believe.

  11. xpun Says:

    im really looking forward to meeting some of you guys in AC. page side speaker stack right?

    snow has a groupme text thingamajig. if anyones interested

  12. halcyon Says:

    Mish might be ok…..the boundary map of the fire includes many areas that haven’t been affected….thought 37000 acres + and moving at 10-40′ a minute you never now.

    We are having cooler temps at least in the high country hopefully that plays out down there and allows for some sort of fire line to be made.

    Big changes ahead for many lives affected by the fires.

    Been on an emotional roller coaster lately…..crazy times we are in….

  13. Phamily Berzerker Says:

    Right on, Gdad! Looking forward to getting down.

    Fire is a wild beast! For a good 4 weeks last summer I was glued to the net watching updates for the fire that nearly wiped our cabin off of the the earth. the wild fire came within a mile and controlled backburn 100s of yards. Weather underground has some really cool google earth overlays with heat signature satellite mapping schtuff.

  14. BERKELEY HEAD Says:

    Thanks for the paddlin reference. I was wondering… i like the term. My excuse is low batteries in wireless keyboard… or something. Have you guys tried that one yet? I’m in for Long Beach, SF, and Colorado confirmed, but I’m whimsically mobile (albeit laden with other responsibilities) and keeping all options open.

  15. halcyon Says:

    Photos are surreal….

    Fires have been popping up all over the place…by me fire trucks have been pouncing quickly, but this is as dry as I have ever seen it.

  16. Phamily Berzerker Says:

    BH, Welcome.

    gravatar.com for one of these silly little customer image dealies.

    CO will be great as well. Love me some CO phish. It’s what I was raised on. 90-95 Great times!

  17. Phamily Berzerker Says:

    http://wxug.us/pa3d

    weather underground map

  18. BERKELEY HEAD Says:

    It kills me that I can’t be there this weekend. Or can I? Ha. I have high hopes considering the practice days, and all the possibilities per their early ground work. If ever there were a time jump on a plane cross country at a moment’s notice this week will be it… again.

  19. lumpyhead Says:

    “first paddlin”

  20. BERKELEY HEAD Says:

    Awesome nice to meet you Pham XPun et al My early days were West Coast starting with Davis, CA 12-2-94 with GC Horns. Yeah during the 3/22/93 Crest Sacramento show I was still an oblivious fool at my parents house less than 2 miles away. That summer I got my hands on some tapes, realized what i had missed in my own backyard, and made sure I didn’t miss them the next time around and that’s that.

  21. voopa Says:

    Nice BH, 3-22-93 was my first show after seeing them open for Santana in Concord. Haven’t missed a NorCal show since, except for The Fillmore and Bridge shows. Oh, and Greek 2. Sonofa, that still stings.

  22. BERKELEY HEAD Says:

    I actually went to that Davis show with with the now bassist for !!! and LCD Soundsystem Tyler Pope.

  23. voopa Says:

    That was a crazy little run between the Gestapo security at Davis, the nitrous fest in the San Jose garage, and Chico solo. Had to do Chico after knowing the horns shows would be pretty scripted, but unfortunately it wasn’t quite what the Olympia and Salem shows were (shoulda went). Had no idea what had gone down in Bozeman until much later, thankfully.

  24. BERKELEY HEAD Says:

    Wow you were there. This BB is bitchin. Yeah, I got the Olympia dat that Spring and frizzle frazzled it from listening too much and taking it everywhere.

  25. franNKev23 Says:

    In fairness, I only made it four postings deep into the ‘comments’ section–which I’ll return to, and potentially be humbled by.
    For now:
    “The menu is not the meal.”
    I’m not sure how it is–being heads, us–that we continue to forget this. 13 repeats? Obscuring the point.

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