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”

  1. jdub Says:

    Favorite Julius in a long time. Get real low for a while and just work up a nice bluesy jaunt that takes ’em home. Nice one.

  2. Mr.Miner Says:

    i’m all for opinions. except when their wrong 😉

    If you’re down on Phish after this weekend, you should hang em up—chad or otherwise…

  3. poop goblin Says:

    no one’s afraid of Spain yet. they aren’t insolvent like Greece or Portugal. they are just afraid politically to admit to how bad the banks are. the cash is there. europe is just a shit ass place and they fuckin get shit done slow as fuck. spanish banks will get properly backstopped. it’s only like $150 B or something.

  4. kayatosh Says:

    chad: did you catch woostah’s 2 gems? lots of patience and creativity to chew on there. no reason to be disheartened. In fact, the opposite feeling prevails.

    With woostah (and to a lesser extent w/ roo) I heard an inspired, cohesive phish that can seamlessly weave teases and flavors into jams as in their salad days, a band that’s on the rise not stuck in the mud.

  5. poop goblin Says:

    the skittishness is over Greek elections this weekend. buyers strike and a retest seems like a no brainer but no sky is falling fear out there. can tell by skew and vix levels not too much fear out there.

  6. fat bastard Says:

    the groove is back

  7. GhostPhunk Says:

    Is 3.0 phish the only phish that’s been under constant scrutiny day in day out? Was there enough hipsters with leet skillz in 2.0 to compare? Part of me feels that has something to do with how we perceive the band. I mean technology has certainly changed our little game.

  8. kayatosh Says:

    yep, jdub. when we’re perking our ears up for ocelot, julius, and zero and coming away impressed, than things are looking up.

  9. fat bastard Says:

    aw lets go out with the wives sometime

  10. kayatosh Says:

    thanks for the balanced perspective, poop. it’s clear that you must be a valuable member of your firm.

  11. xpun Says:

    was the roo tweezer the first real treybortion of the summer. most dcu jams seemed to find fairly natural conclusion

    let me know if im wrong,

  12. xpun Says:

    this game is going to get ugly i think


    Thank you Mr. Miner, and thank you BB. You collectively have elevated my Phish experience to levels only imagined prior to discovering you shortly after last year’s’ Bethels. I appreciate Mr. Miner’s uniquely stimulating method of communicating what he hears (and sees) on an expert level without ego. I also appreciate the BB’s well informed and intelligently respectful debates and critiques… and avoidance of hyperbole. The fact that you guys have managed to keep the db’s out of here should be studied scientifically, so congrats on pioneering that. It also warms my heart to hear a Phish sub-sect where the Dead is still relevant and mid-90’s vernacular is still commonplace (and funny!) For these reasons and many more, I’ve decided to weigh in with an opinion even though it has already been expressed here many times.

    I love Slo 3.0! If you’re unable to slow your brain down, slow EVERYTHING down instead. Why not? I love it. Patience is a virtue and they are throwing down some virtuous stuff. I was laughing at earlier comments in here about the Alaska. That track was almost static to the point of collapse at one point, but I really liked it (but I’m a skier so I like anything Alaska) It seems counter-intuitive but i thought the slower tempo made it a better set II slot and not worse.

    After the New Years Run, I was thoroughly depressed and pessimistic about the future until I saw Trey Orchestra at the Disney in LA. Holy shit! I’m unable to articulate it here exactly, but for whatever reason that was a top notch musical experience for me. Trey’s performance was so focused and perfect (and spiritual) that after gleaning some from Mr. Miner, I immediately realized that he was probably sharply focused on Orchestra the very moment Summer tour ended, and New Years Run never had a chance.

    It seems to me that Trey has redirected that same laser-like focus to Summer tour and has realized that he can still get off on Phish like he got off on Orchestra. Like your mother always told you, you’re only going to get out what you put in… and Trey appears all in. Needless to say, so am I!

    Peace in the Middle East (and Summer tour)

  14. GhostPhunk Says:

    @spun I never once felt like any member quit on me in the building in any one of the four sets. Didn’t think it once… Take that every time.

  15. Mr. Palmer Says:

    Chad- they were playing to a different crowd, not us. Really, you shouldn’t take it so hard. I would give the performance a C+ with some B+ moments.

    You must have a hard time comprehending the fact that it was a show for 50k people, of which 5k, maybe, are hard core Phish kids..

    This notion, and i’ve heard it a lot recently, that they are somehow evil because they get paid for what they do, is beyond stupid. yes, its a big payday and they played repeats, so what? Should they play for free? They are allowed to, and deserve, to make as much money as the possibly can.

  16. poop goblin Says:

    sounds good FB

  17. fat bastard Says:

    holy shit mike’s song is rippin

  18. xpun Says:

    so is greyhound dependable. dont think ive ever taken a ride w them. they offer an AC express out of DC thinking of hitting. only 38 roundtrip, and guaranteed 4 hours of sleep after sat show, then 2 hour drive home. better than 6 hour drive home

    worried that 325 arrive in AC will cut it close for freezer, with friday traffic.

  19. jdub Says:

    Mike’s Song exploded with thunder, convinced myself that this was it and night 2 would top night 1 with the Mike’s we’ve all been waiting for. Expectations got the best of me and I don’t think I fully recovered when they went into typical Maki>Week territory. But still a fun ending to the set. 2001 had me grooving hard and the Zero pulled me in even when I didn’t want to.

    @Kaya, totally agree. Add Possum to that list. Such a great sign.

  20. xpun Says:

    GP – i couldn’t remember any although havent give 2 as much of a relisten. its funny because so often now when they leave one theme and head towards another i find myself almost bracing against it.

  21. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    when they went into typical Maki>Week territory

    I know what you mean here and I’m not really commenting on that, but I was surprised to learn that there had never previously been a Mike’s>Maki>Paug sandwich.

  22. BingosBrother Says:

    Not down on Phish, but I’m with Chad. Can a show be well played and absolutely terrible? For me it can and thats what last night felt like. If any songs from last night are on the Summer 2012 mix at years end, it will have been a shitty summer. I love phish and will praise them to the heavens when they are great, but I’m not gonna blow smoke up their ass when they ain’t. It almost felt like they were too embarrassed to be who they are last night and I didn’t like it.

  23. jdub Says:

    Did not know that T3, hmmm.

  24. Mr. Palmer Says:

    Wow- Carini->Shafty is some cool stuff. Well done, boys, well done.

  25. poop goblin Says:

    but Bingos I hit Outside Lands fest and got the same kinda set and wasn’t surprised so wasn’t disappointed

    last night was probably a better show than that.

    it ain’t all woostah I’s these days and if I was a betting man I’d say custaroo was gonna suck. who the fuck goes to that shit fuck festival anyway? no offense to any attendees.

    Trey isn’t gonna work hard at the roo man. that’s a vaca payday. should be.

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