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. Mr. Palmer Says:

    ^^ oblivious fool (me)

  2. poop goblin Says:

    any minute before the 60 show kid from my story shows up here I imagine.

  3. jdub Says:

    Even the Carini->Shafty @Bingos? But yeah, the show was rushed throughout, no consistent flow and lacking in the exploratory department. But it was at Bonnaroo and the reviews from the mass media will probably come back just fine. So on to AC and the real main event.

  4. tela'smuff Says:

    i have been on a lonely island with Arcade Fire, and 3.0 versions of Julius. there have been at least 4-5 version of Julius in 3.0 that i have absolutely enjoyed, especially the Telluride performance. The Woostah jazzy slow down was pretty unique, and i loved it.

    i’ve been shopping for Win Butler quality sweaters to bust out in Denver for the Dicks run. if i can find matching, AW, i got one far ya. Air Force kicks with the Win Butler Sweater G-style.

  5. BingosBrother Says:

    I hear you guys. Not disappointed, just being honest. Not gonna pretend it was okay just because it was at a fest and not supposed to be great. I do wish they had the balls to be themselves though, but whatever. A shit show is a shit show for me. So be it. AC will rage.

    Carini was ok and Shafty was a 4 minute bust out in the wrong key. Honestly, #Line was my highlight. No joke.

  6. poop goblin Says:

    those hipster sweaters Win rocks gotta cost several thousand dollars each I imagine. irony of that magnitude is not cheap. I’m game.

    now if AC I get a set like yesterday. I’ll fuckin call Troy out and tell him he fuckin blows

    bonnaroo peeps got what they deserved

  7. tela'smuff Says:

    while i did and do very happily rip Alaska, especially in a second set, as i did last night, i can’t imagine people spend any time whatsoever worrying about a festival performance. ACL and Outside Lands didn’t receive a second thought after those shows, and neither had a jam that rivaled the Carini>Shafty, or the Hood>Light.

    go back and look at the years/tours Phish has done at tests. it’s rare that the shows are ever memorable, and nobody ever cared if they played the standards, because it was expected. i can think of three (non-Europe) that i remember. The Leguna Seca Daze deal with Primus, Lowell, MA benefit show, and the Jazz Fest show.

  8. angryjoggerz Says:

    Just listening to this Shafty for the first time on the phones, very tight. Mike says Yes. He wanted more of that by Trey RnR’s it. I think there is more to this story and that Shafty may go big. Im hoping Blossom goes Storage Shafty.

  9. angryjoggerz Says:

    I dig Shafty.

  10. ElJefe Says:

    Bingo- last nights show was far from well played. At least from Treys playing. He was having fun but the amount of clams he hit was a little disheartening. Only (for me) because they had just played so many of these songs so recently. Like some one said earlier c- w some b+ moments.

  11. ElJefe Says:

    AJ that would be sweet!!

  12. Mr.Miner Says:

    where did “Troy” come from…it’s cracking me up!

  13. Mr.Miner Says:

    great 1st post by BERKELEY HEAD on the last page (25)….

  14. jdub Says:

    Troy is Trey’s alter ego, came from MIA’s massively creative brain. The alter ego that may prefer to drop a 2nd set Alaska.

  15. purplehumpbackwhale Says:

    @Miner – i think Troy is just the go-to making-fun-of-phish-noobs-for-not-knowing-trey’s-name Name.

    not sure though.

  16. purplehumpbackwhale Says:

    and i am apparently incorrect. couldve sworn ive seen Troy on phish meme’s before but def could be wrong…

  17. xpun Says:

    i don’t give festi sets anymore thought than those farmhouse radio gigs in 00

    its a media event. i’d rather see them do their own show or two in place of those spots. I agree w bingos though go out there and say fuck you we are going to get crazy, but we ALL know that ain’t happening. so imo big whoop, they repeated a greatest hits show to try to appeal to masses

    low expectations = pleasantly surprised

  18. purplehumpbackwhale Says:

    wow that IS a great post by berkely head.

    i have always wished there was a way of favoriting some of the comments ive seen here. its almost too late at this point but, i know one day 15 years from now im gonna think back (or STILL be thinking) about this board and some of the fantastic things i’ve read. but with sooo many comments on sooo many posts it would be like digging for gold.

    i guess screengrabs would work…

  19. tela'smuff Says:

    Troy has been a PT thing for a long time i think, unless MiA is also on PT.

  20. voopa Says:

    tela’s, I totally agree. They exceeded my expectations last night, and of course I would’ve welcomed a more exploratory show, but we know how they operate under strange spotlights.

    Trey was a little sloppy at times, but the energy and communication were solid. OSL may have been a little tighter, but last night there was a little extra mustard than most of their Festy sets.

  21. sumodie Says:

    Peeps disappointed in yesterday’s Roo show clearly haven’t been paying attention to Phish’s 3.0 approach to 3rd party festi shows

    Those of us praising yesterday’s show have already accepted the band’s festi show approach even if we don’t understand or like it

    Why does Phish do Phish-lite at festis? Only Phish knows…

  22. jdub Says:

    I could be wrong too @ Purple, could’ve been born from such a beginning and made into an alter ego. Either way funny as shit.

    Great post @BH! Stick around.

  23. thedayman Says:

    Anyone down on last night needs to spin tweez carini->shafty. Shit is hot. Got more than I would have expected. phish is good.

  24. Mr.Miner Says:

    i don’t give festi sets anymore thought than those farmhouse radio gigs in 00

    its a media event.

    ^ this is so true….

  25. tela'smuff Says:

    @miner – like that you hit up Shaprio about MLT. i’ll be interested to see if he gets you an answer. if they had no intent, and are surprised but he question, at a minimum the seed will be planted.

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