Lazy Sunday

6.17.12 (Jesse Herzog)

And sometimes there are strange nights at the Phish concert, and Sunday would most definitely qualify. Despite a quality opening to the second set in “Drowned > 2001 > Reba,” the band played songs as if they were on “shuffle” mode all night long and somehow, their iPod missed any true launch pads and—for much of the second set—even rock songs. In a series of head-scratching decisions, the band unveiled a string of ballads in the middle of the second set, totally dousing any fire the set had going, while leaving the night with little to no musical adventure. Phish, to their credit, played every song in both sets quite well, but whoever was calling songs was in a particularly mellow mood and allowed the show—as a whole—to fall flat. Before breaking down the questionable calls in this one, let’s turn to the centerpiece of the show.

6/17 Official Print (DKNG)

Bursting out of the second-set gates with The Who’s “Drowned,” the guys crafted an engaging jam, but it never veered far enough from the song for long enough to qualify for an “Atlantic City Jam,” and for a second-set opening cover, that says a lot. Trey slinked into the background once it started, allowing Page to lead much of the way on piano. But just as the piece dropped into half-time and it felt like things might pop off, the band, instead, turned for a quick, ambient transition into “2001.” And here is where the action of the show truly took place. Opening up the funk instrumental with slowed and chunky, open-air grooves, all four members coalesced in the most exalting “2001” of this summer. Stretching out the first verse with James Brown teases, and then the second verse with slow and swaggering rhythm patterns that evoked the vibe of many past festival monsters, Trey shared the spotlight with Gordon. The wide open grooves continued as the band followed the peak of  “2001” with a divine “Reba.” Remaining true to its classic contour throughout, the band delicately eased into the groove and slowly built a remarkable rendition. But aside from this phenomenal chunk of summer dance music, the show was quite thin and there’s no other way to put it.

After “Reba” came to a conclusion, Phish dropped into a second-set “Roses” and my heart nearly stopped. Were they really shifting “Roses” into rotation as a jam vehicle?! After Worcester’s first set revelation, this move seemed to signify exactly that. But when the juncture came to elevate, the band fizzled out into “Chalk Dust?!” Really? And the blows just kept, inexplicably, coming—“Prince Caspian -> “Silent In the Morning” (a pairing that worked well, though ill-placed), “Bug,” and an anticlimactic ending of “A Day in a Life” and a standard “Down With Disease?!” The setlist oddities continued right through a double encore of “Jibboo” and “Quinn The Eskimo.”

6.17.2012 (Jesse Herzog)

In a Sunday show that seemed bound to blow up on a half-empty Bader Field, Phish took things in the polar opposite direction with virtually zero out-of-the-box jamming in either set. The random song generator was at work for an harmless first half as well. The unquestionable highlight of a solid opening half was a torrid “Timber” and surprisingly energetic version of “Fluffhead.” And I rarely point out “Fluffhead.”

In summation, Atlantic City’s final night left many, dare I say most, in the crowd incredibly underwhelmed. Though each song was played well individually—Phish is at the top of their game after all— their setlist made no coherent sense whatsoever. When the band never even attempts to jump into adventurous jamming, we are left with last night—Singlestown, USA.

On to Portsmouth…

I: Brother, Runaway Jim, Dogs Stole Things, Boogie On Reggae Woman, NICU, Foam, Wilson, Timber, Fluffhead, Walls of the Cave, Character Zero

II: Drowned > Also Sprach Zarathustra > Reba > Roses Are Free > Chalk Dust Torture, Prince Caspian ->Silent in the Morning, Bug, A Day in the Life, Down with Disease

E: Gotta Jibboo, Quinn the Eskimo

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318 Responses to “Lazy Sunday”

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  1. kenny powers Says:

    I wasn’t there but Miner’s reactions to the set list perfectly mirror mine when i woke up an hour ago and checked my phone.

  2. kenny powers Says:

    Maybe they were pooped out? Perhaps 3-night runs are too much for these late 40-somethings? I certainly would understand…

    I see a pattern the past 3 summers: super strong openers (usually the first 2-3 shows) followed by a bit of a dip. Maybe they should play 2-night stands and 1-night stands with at least 2 days between. I know that would make tour very start-stopish, but the boys would probs be more revitalized each show.

    Disclaimer: i have not heard one note of AC. Going just off reactions of others and setlist appearances.

  3. Dr Pronoia Says:

    Maybe a facile comparison, partly informed by my only seeing AC1, but the 3 pack had a UIC trajectory, with a flowing cohesive night 1 with multiple highlight jams, a second night with 1 centerpiece jam sequence and some supporting players, and then a head scratcher of a night 3

    I need to listen to AC2 all the way through again but right now I think I caught the right show in friday’s

  4. Greg Says:

    Listening to the stream last night and was majorly disappointed with the lack of any jam out of Drowned. AC3 was a step back imo. Hopefully they get back to the exploration in Portsmouth!

  5. Dorn76 Says:

    Still bummed I missed Sunday. Excited to spin this Reba & 2001.
    It’s the 6th show in 10 days and as KP noted, the boys arent boys anymore. Fatigue, mental or otherwise had to play some part.

  6. glennw Says:

    Maybe 3-nighters are scheduled for their family considerations. I could sure understand that.

  7. litteringand Says:

    I am just diving into some AC listening. Curious to know how strong the festival vibe was. Did it really feel like a festival or just a 3-night stand?

  8. Melt Says:

    Maybe if they had just written some of those songs you could say they are on top of their game but unfortunately this has become a nostalgia act. No other way to cut it. It’s really one of the sad parts of rock n roll. Enjoy your youth

  9. huntmich Says:

    Last night was an amazing show. You people must all hate listening to pre-97 Phish, before they started having a 20 minute jam every show. They’ve proven that they aren’t afraid of the jam this tour. Last night, they just chose not to unleash a monster on us. Trey was still DESTROYING it on stage. Reba, Chalkdust, Disease, and several others featured Trey in straight up machine gun mode like I haven’t heard from him in a LONG time.

    If you can’t consider a show good without a defining jam, you are going to be disappointed with some shows in 3.0. I don’t have that hangup. Last night rocked.

  10. MiA Says:

    Not sure if crowd was tired and band reflects crowd or the other way around.

    Either way, every era has nights/sets that are cool down sets. Go home. Don’t get crazy.

    Looking forward to the webcast!

  11. Yalta Balt Says:

    After seeing AC and how they’re playing there are two definite stand outs…ONE, Phish is done taking any type of consistent musical risks. Whether its the sobriety of the band or the fact that they just might be in a MUCH different place then the crowd realizes but its just not going to happen that much anymore.


    One somewhat Jammy tune in the first set, then second set JAM, Fizzle, Fizzle…Straightforward song after Straightforward song.

    I write this not out of hate, but out of frustration and had to state it… GOOD MORNIG MONDAY!!!

  12. punkmug Says:

    Dr. P: I agree with your UIC trajectory comparison. Very similar indeed.

    Can wait for the Webcasts!

  13. black_peter Says:

    Honest review. Sounds like Phish hasn’t been able to break the 3 night stand pattern yet that has become predictable as others have mentioned.

    Sometimes the very nature of Phish’s essence (different set list every night) works against them. It’s more demanding of the players than if it was a fairly fixed set list night after night like Radiohead for example, where they could almost play the songs on auto-pilot. I’d rather have diversity over repeat set lists any day, but sometimes the outcome is less than perfect. At the end who really cares, we all have off days at work where we mail it in. It happens.

    Hopefully they’ll be in full tour shape by SPAC and blow the roof off for the Sunday crowd. If not, well I’m sure I’ll still walk out of that balcony with a grin on my face, what’s left of it.

  14. Phamily Berzerker Says:

    Cannot wait to hear Adub’s waxings on this…

    Caveat being that I was not there I bet dollars to doughnuts this show blew away any phish show from 2008. 8)

  15. MiA Says:

    nut sure what ‘fizzle fizzle straighforward song” means, but yeah, coming out and playing Foam doesn’t rock your boat. Move on from the band. Go find something else.

  16. Mr. Palmer Says:

    I don’t know.. I think if you caught the first 5 shows of tour ( not counting Bonarroo) you would be pretty excited about the trajectory of the band, no?

    One mediocre show doesn’t spell doom and nostalgia to me. Step away from the ledge. Phish has sounded fresh and exciting to my ears in the 3 shows I’ve caught. Much better than anything i’ve seen since ’09.

    Of course there will be nights like last night. Nature of the beast.

  17. Kevin Says:

    I get where you’re coming from. It can be frustrating at times, but it always has been. People forget that. It wasn’t like every show in the 90s was a rager. There were plenty of down nights and weak streaks. I remember walking out of dozens of shows feeling really frustrated with the band. But then you catch the right show, and it’s energizing again.

    The Phish that showed up in Worcester and the first night of AC gets me excited. But no, it’s not going to happen every night. Not in this era or any other.

  18. MiA Says:

    I haven’t heard last night, so I can’t comment yet. Just listened to the Reba, and thought it was extremely solid.

  19. Luther T. Justice Says:

    Coming from the early 90s Dead scene, I always praised Phish for their ability to deliver a high percentage of great shows. With the Dead towards the end, we were happy with a couple good/great shows a tour and some good moments from the others.

    I couldn’t be more happy with this band right now. They have delivered top shelf music. Not just by 3.0 standards, but by career standards.

  20. Luther T. Justice Says:

    Now, if they can just save that Split for Cincy….

  21. litteringand Says:

    I would say that maybe i just wasn’t paying as close attention back in the day, but it feels like this consistant straightforward 1 set with the possiblity of 1 or two songs getting the treatment, evokes one of the worst words out there-predictable. Side note I am very happy with how they look and sound, but I dont like what i think the first set of the show means to them now. In a weird way it is close to how I feel about drums and space with gd shows. Expected Improv is kind of and oxymoron.

  22. DocGanz Says:

    Agreed Palmer…

  23. butter Says:

    Miner great work so far this summer, really enjoying these reviews

    Lazy SUnday prolly sums it up pretty well

    Time to go dl some of these. I only have Woost so far. I plan on dling AC1,2
    For some freshie music for my travels. I’m headed to the south seas of French Polynesia/Tahiti on weds with the fam. Kiddos both get their first passporte stamps! We fly to LA tomorrow and spend one night before leaving the country for a few weeks. Some of the islands in the middle of our trip may or may not have Internet, but I will be following along with Phish tour when IP address’s are available as part of my paradise

    Enjoy tour and be safe. I’ll be inventing new color names for the infinite shades of blue water. My wife and I have been dreaming of returning since we were there in 2008 for the first time.

  24. Kaveh Says:

    Morning BBers….hope everyone had a great weekend and for those that went to AC hope you guys had a blast.

  25. Dr Pronoia Says:

    The first set of AC1 was great: tube,cities and the stash,simple with a great faulty plan as well. I was super happy w that first set

    Then birds and piper scared me and I questioned my sanity a little…can’t ask for more than that in a show IMO

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