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


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”

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  1. MmmHmm Says:

    Woah! Firsts on a Monday! Roo show seemed good from the couch. Sounded to me like the Hood jam was yanked by Trey to chop into Light. Might need a re-listen. Carini > Shafty was a nice touch. Shafty seemed very minimalist even for its minimalist self.

  2. dyda Says:

    13 repeats. unprecedented? no complex multi-part compositions yet this year either. i’m not freaking out, it is still early & i think we all knew this gig would generally turn out this way, but these are some observations that stand out statistically. yeah, i get that nobody but greg was at roo & dcu, but when you say you’re going to play 200+ different songs & pull a move like that…

    why does phish play multi-band fests in the first place? why bother at all? big payday. redlight phish. not my cup of tea one bit. they shouldn’t water themselves down as much as they do at these gigs. they’re an opportunity to showcase the majesty that is the phish on a large stage & instead they try to convert hipsters by playing sets that aren’t really displaying what IT is about. melt faces, crush skulls, take no prisoners

    something i’ve noticed about 3.0 though is the crowd/venue having a large impact on the content & quality of a performance. i don’t expect them all to be nye 95, that’s absurd, but i think it’s important to recognize when things aren’t up to snuff & evaluate those shows in an historical context. just cause i’m being critical doesn’t mean i’m being a hater (& it annoys me that i have to make that caveat)

    anyhow, on to AC which i predict (you all must think i’m quite jaded now) will be more akin to what we’ve seen at other ‘large field’ non phish festival shows. i hope i’m wrong, but the choice of venue makes me think otherwise

    no mention of kenny rogers?

  3. Gordo G Says:

    Strong “festival performance” I felt like at several points of opportunity the rip chord was pulled stopping the continued development of many songs. And holy repeat Batman. Cant figure out why there were 13 repeats from Worcester. The show was well played but IMO this show takes a definitive backseat to what occurred over the previous two shows at the DCU Center. They do seem to be gelling well and are relaxed. It’s as if they can pull off any kind of mood they want to with ease. I thoroughly enjoyed the slowed down, laid back approach to the Worcester run. Phish brought a fresh take on many songs and seem to be more focused giving their songs a proper exit strategy into seamless segues that gives us fans that awe struck feeling deep in the soul. Nothing demands an immediate smile on my face more than a clean thought out song change. The Nellie Kane segue from sand night two was unreal, had to have been rehearsed.. Last night was def the Shafty out of Carini. I know I don’t post much on here but I am a long time Phan with my first taste live at the Nutter Center in Dayton. 12-7-97. A night that I will take to the grave as my world was profoundly changed for a new prospective of the world as I knew it. It was so cool to be introduced to such an awesome scene and happening that up until that point I had no idea even existed. Man that Fall was on and poppin! I’ve been chasing that show ever since. I only have amassed around fifty or so shows since. I don’t consider myself a seasoned vet but I def can say that Phish has been one of my single most loves and Joys in my life from that day forward. They have been there to provide that proverbial lift to life through many ups and downs and they have never let me down. I am so thankful that we get to have them back, creating the bliss that can only be defined by their experience. Nothing like it… I have been following along since this sites inception and hopefully can become more involved with you BB’ers. Minor thank you for what you do. I look forward to following your take on how it all plays out all tour. Here’s to a strong summer from Vermont’s Finest. Considering my home base is in Louisville, KY, this tour sets up well for an accessible route to many shows. See ya at a handful this summer. All is good in the world when Phish is on tour!

  4. Blooby Says:

    Thank you, Mr. Miner.

  5. MiA Says:

    Not a wook to be seen? No spilled
    beers? Not so bad, really.

    FWIW I spilled my beer. But the bathroom lines are better and set breaks can be a lot more fun. Post fireworks to sleep time is phenomenal.

    Thought it was great that they played a ton of repeats. Rocky top didn’t make sense at DCU anyway.

  6. xpun Says:

    i had fun. very low expectations and got surprised by a few jams

    the light threw me off as i was really digging the hood, and i dropped my stream right at the beginning of the tweezer jam. ugh

    otherwise no complaints on my end.

    lol at mia spilling his beer.

  7. RoosterPizza Says:

    Looking forward to the real music coming up soon…


  8. Corey Says:

    it’s my belief that these next four days are filled with scheming and hijinks; One day for each musician to razz the others, leading to beautiful song choices on stage…in Atlantic City.

    That said, I certainly enjoyed the retake of Harry Hood. Rocky Top in Tennessee…it’s the right thing to play. And this is coming from a Kentuckian.

    Oh, anyone staying at the Golden Nugget? We’re looking forward to a true PHiSH party down there. The goods will be brought next weekend. Four days of “rest” leading to three days of music. Settle in, settle in.

    Me thinks PHiSH will manage just fine.

    @sumodie, how was the opera in Worcester? My wife has a connection with one of the singers, though that connection and singer both elude my memory. Hope it was a success and a pleasure to see!

  9. ThePigSong Says:

    I know I had a great time on te couch last night. Really great thoughts on the last page too, @Silly!

  10. litteringand Says:

    The one major thing i can take away from last night- I cannot wait to see CK’s light rig live. Those oval lights are baller

  11. xpun Says:

    god went to the green board to try to find a still of greg’s face after the gambler. forgot how ______ that place is. hard to describe

    fireworks here this morning, caught the daughter sneaking boys into the basement last night, not a huge deal to me, big but not huge, except i know she lied to me about it and then tried to back pedal her way out, was just trying to teach her to admit when she was caught, but she stuck to her story

    i told her part of my job as a parent is to keep away all the horny boys, esp. at 2am, (shes 15), she said they just came over to talk they werent horny, hahahahaha she’s got a lot to learn there.

    anywho told mrs.pun about it when she got up for work this morning and she went apeshit, afternoon should be eventful

  12. phoammhead Says:

    part of my job is to keep away all the horny boys . . . came over to talk


  13. kayatosh Says:

    no substitute for being there – miner. amen.

    gotta be in IT to win it. I tend to sleep during the webcasts.

    poop g: need some bloomberg/boring lingo. curious what you think about the mrkt. this week? bail on my IWM short this morn? or wait it out and let greexit fear creep in?

  14. Dr Pronoia Says:

    Welcome Gordo G

  15. guitarpicker420! Says:

    My 2 cents. Like Miner, and probably many others, I found the beginning of the first set to be fairly boring. However, the Tweezer was quite good. If I can catch a tweezer like that in the next couple of weeks, I’ll be pretty happy. Ditto the Hood. I also thought the Chalkdust had its moments, though I thought Trey was having difficulty getting the entire band together as they headed for the exit.

    All that said, I am on vacation with the family right now, and it was great to hang out with my brother and brother in law in our condo, knocking back beers and boat drinks while the kids slept and watch the Phish show. See you guys in Cincy!

  16. MiA Says:

    Came over to talk at 2 AM?

    I thoughts that’s why we have cell phones?

    My friend Dave said girls are mathematically at their most naive when they are easily able to get pregnant. Darwinism or something.

    Good luck Xpun. I’d be a gun toting dad for sure.

  17. guitarpicker420! Says:

    There is a convent about 15 minutes from my house. My little girl is only 6, but I take her by it every now and then and tell her if she gets out of line….

  18. MiA Says:

    Oh yeah. carini > shafty

  19. sumodie Says:

    Last night was the best 3rd party festi show yet, expectations exceeded, no grimey mud on me this morn. huge win!

    Hood was def better than wooksta’s, even loved the left turn into light

    i missed the Gambler, & miner omitted mention of him, noooooooooo. what an awesome wacky treat to hear & see the Gambler with phish

    Why does phish play these festi shows? Why not? I’m sure the band appreciates playing to a different audience, not to mention the chance to meet other musicians backstage

  20. btb Says:

    I knew it was going to happen, but damn, that was some weak PH. Not gonna hate though, AC will rage, not worried.

    Regarding the repeats, they know they’re not playing to their fan base so they played what’s already on the shelf – AC wont get that treatment – no biggie there. Not worried.

    Not that I’m one of those guys, but I noticed Trey flubbing a lot. Page and Mike were stellar as usual.

    Overall, festival phish is same as it ever was’d

  21. RoosterPizza Says:

    Good job Xpun,

    No boys with a loaded gun are into talking at 2:00am. It sounds like you did your part as local patrol. You have turned it over to the sheriff. Good luck.

  22. sumodie Says:

    ‘Just dropped in’ by the first edition featuring kenny rogers on vocals has long been a fav of mine from rhino’s nuggets compilations ( ~lost psychedelic hits from the 60s)

  23. btb Says:

    CDT jam fell flat on its face, however Carini>Shafty redeemed 🙂

  24. MiA Says:

    The lights definitely are becoming a big deal. That’s a lot of “stuff” going on up there now.

  25. Newphishphan Says:

    Well in my eyes they played a good set at banaroo because its a festival, they only get a certain time, but from what I’m hearing Thursday’s show was great, mashed up songs into another, just wish their was a stream. I think going into A.C. where going to hit a high mark in the bands history. First night where going to be blown away, second night I’m predicting a mellow set, third night their going out with a bang. Everybody be safe not stupid, last year i only went to about 5 shows and one in pictular their were people throwing up, laying on the ground and some in ambalances. I don’t care what u do but after running to get help for a young girl, know your limits!

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