A Southern Scorcher

6.20.12 (Michael Stein)

In stark contrast to their first show in Portsmouth, Virginia, on Wednesday night Phish threw down a heavy hitting, two-set affair with jams aplenty, several bustouts and a pair of well crafted sets. The ominous tone of the music provided balance to lighter feel of the first night, providing the yang to the latter’s yin. And where night one was light on improv, night two provided a coherent musical journey. Boasting flow from the beginning of the show the through the end, last night sits among the most robust overall performances of this young tour. Let’s take it from the top!

Unofficial Portsmouth Print (Masthay)

When the band stepped on stage to start the show, they immediately rolled out six 2012 debuts, including sought after bustouts, “Ha Ha Ha” and a sign-induced “Dog Log.” The fresh setlist gave the show an energetic jump-start without needing a lick of jamming. Also included in this sequence was a mid-set rendition of “Divided Sky,” a song that provided far more of a treat with its diminished role in the rotation. But when the summer debuts ended, the band kicked into high gear with “Mike’s Groove.” A slowed pace and thunderous groove of “Mike’s” rattled the undersized environs and the show was off and running. “Weekapaug” provided the the first glimpse of the outstanding, full-band communication we’d see from all night as Trey tore off continuous melodies over a popping groove that was anchored by Fishman’s smooth work on the skins. The first set wound to a close with a four song run that included another two 2012 premieres in “Ya Mar” and “Bold As Love.” Trey wove the “Ya Mar” lick quite smoothly, albeit a bit early, into the liquid textures of “Cities” and the band switched into the summer favorite. When “Bold As Love” seemed like it would close an extended first set, the band punctuated the frame with a nuanced “Juluis,” a jam that Fish and Mike framed to perfection with a shuffle beat pocket. With such a pronounced first set, the second was sure to bring huge things. And it did.

6.20.12 (M.Stein)

Taking both “Rock and Roll” and “Tweezer” off the shelf for the first time since Bonnaroo, Phish combined the two crowd favorites in a fantasy sequence to spark the second half. Forging through “Rock and Roll’s” composed jam with notable rigor, the band was clearly locked and loaded for a big set. The progressed out of song structure with a slick, Trey-led, slowdown and passed quickly into an ethereal spacescape. Trey favored loops and effects amidst this elegant sonic mystery. Hinting at a Digital Delay Loop Jam, this segment painted a portrait of the universe’s outer realms before Trey slinked into the “Tweezer” for which so many on tour had been jonesing. Playing through the actual song with all sorts of bells and whistles, Phish revved their collective motor and prepared to enter freezer.

From the onset of the jam, Page assumed leadership, pacing the quartet with his piano chords and assuming the melodic lead as Trey remained in the background. Coiled like a viper behind the groove, Trey alternately raised his head and struck with accented licks, effected layers of sound, rhythm chops, and outright leads. All the while, Mike and Fish remained locked in urgent and powerful dance rhythms. Page hopped to his clavinet and brought the “Tweezer” into Crunchville with a filthy tangent, and the crowd responded to the change of texture with roars of delight. Snapping into “Tweezer’s” traditional build, Red brought the house down with a soaring final peak before the guys slid through an outro groove and smoothly into “Free.”

6.20.12 (M.Stein)

Used as a landing pad for the past three years, it seemed that is exactly what was happening last night. But, momentarily, things got very interesting. As the band seeped out of Mike’s bass solo, Trey began to slice and dice the jam like he hasn’t in years, including a short plinko line that seemed to be pushing the band into the first “Free” jam of 3.0! But he forgot to tell his bandmates. Having been programmed since 2009 to go right to the song’s final chord changes out of the bass solo, that is exactly what the rest of the band did. Trey’s attempt was in vain, but perhaps this illustrates a willingness to stretch out one of the band’s long lost jams of the modern era.

The unquestionable highlight of the night, however, had still yet to be played. The stylistically opposing “Guyute” and “Birds of a Feather” provided a mid-set buffer before the guys jumped of the deep end into a profound “Harry Hood.” Once again, Trey laid way back as the band joined forces, allowing Page and Mike to set an ambient tone to things from the jump. Trey merged with this idea, offering minimalist “Hood” licks to the collective, and then layering his own psychedelic offerings into to a thickening dreamscape. Utterly awing in every sense, the band built an abstract take on an old tale, captivating the crowd with their originality. This excursion reached planes that “Hood” rarely, if ever, touches, and provided a welcome improvisational diversion. And when things reached their most abstract, Trey coyly laid in the melody of “What’s the Use?!” The band all took heed and adjusted within measures, sculpting another staggering summer segue.

6.20.12 (M.Stein)

The Siket Disc instrumental blanketed the pavilion with its post-apocalyptic sound, though the band—not rushed at all—moved through the piece with a bit more tempo that usual. As “What’s the Use?” came to an end, Fishman made the obvious decision and moved directly back into “Hood’s” cadence—it seemed that the band would complete their early classic. But as Page took over with a piano solo leading away from the song, the band missed a golden opportunity for another magnificent transition. Page’s hijack took the set into “Velvet Sea,” which, given the larger musical circumstances, wasn’t altogether inappropriate. The stage seemed set for a monster “YEM,” but—for whatever reason—the band is holding back their seminal piece this summer and, instead, turned to “Possum” to close the second set.

The Final "Tuck" (M. Stein)

The encore provided thematic closure on nTelos Pavilion’s two-night stand as Trey came out and quietly played the Star Wars theme before the band launched into a final tucking” episode in “Sleeping Monkey.” During the song, Trey put his guitar down and serenaded Fishman, finally asking him to come out for one last “tuck.” And as you might guess, Fishman was more than happy to oblige. Torching the venue aflame with “Tweezer Reprise,” Trey stomped like a madman around the stage, pushing the 6,500 person crowd into a frenzy. And when the guys took their final bow of the night, everything seemed back on track in Phishland as they prepare to invade the Midwest.

I: Sparkle, Ha Ha Ha, AC/DC Bag, Divided Sky, Dog Log, Undermind, Mike’s Song > I Am Hydrogen >Weekapaug Groove, Cities -> Ya Mar, Bold As Love, Julius

II: Rock and Roll > Tweezer > Free, Guyute, Birds of a Feather, Harry Hood -> What’s the Use? > Wading in the Velvet Sea, Possum

E: Sleeping Monkey > Tweezer Reprise

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754 Responses to “A Southern Scorcher”

  1. Gavinsdad Says:

    Does anyone have any xtras for Crunchville?

  2. Lycanthropist Says:

    but everyone at my casa did love the tweezer > free, guyute, birds

    I thought that was a good run of tunes there

  3. Lycanthropist Says:

    final thought before i head into work.

    I think Fishman was the culprit of cutting the jams last night rather than trey.

  4. Mr. Palmer Says:

    I bailed on the stream during Free…passed out. I wasn’t over impressed, but look forward to a real spin later.

    Enjoy the day kids. Need to hit the studio and then to pre-school graduation… yippee!

    Thanks for the review Miner. Midwest will crush.

  5. poop goblin Says:

    for me Free Guyute in the second set is the equivalent of sitting through a solo acoustic Win Butler set

  6. DryIceFactory Says:

    Centrum1
    Centrum2
    AC1
    AC2
    AC3
    Ports2
    Ports1
    Roo (Even though it doesnt count IMO)

    This isnt a good trend people.

  7. Greg Says:

    It was weird that Mike killed the Free jam that was about to happen. If they had continued jamming on Free this would have been the best set 2 of 3.0 imo. Even without the Free jam happening it is still in my top 10.

  8. Greg Says:

    a rough fan shot video of Dog Log. Worth watching imo though:
    http://phishvidcollection.blogspot.com/2012/06/phish-dog-log-062012-portsmouth-va.html

  9. DryIceFactory Says:

    AC1 over Centrum2 if you weigh 2nd set higher. But you get the idea.

    I think all will be well again this weekend when the Blossom Ghost drops.

  10. poop goblin Says:

    WCU 1 set II on the phones at work right now

    such a gorgeous flowing set. love this Ghost.

  11. zach maxwell Says:

    I hate to be a hater but I was also surprised by your positive review today.
    I thought the second set was mediocre at best with amazing opportunities missed. Seemed like the seque into what’s the use totally surprised Trey’s bandmates as on the webcast they all looked flabbergasted when he played the lick and then to miss going back into hood felt like a real bummer.

    I trust that sitting on my couch sober looking at #phish on twitter versus being there was the actual problem and I’m glad to know that being there the show spoke much louder.

  12. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    still chasing the FMS

  13. Gavinsdad Says:

    Ac2 set 2 for train ride back to Phila this am.

  14. Gavinsdad Says:

    Great Page presence on these AC recordings and I felt like pages “layer” in the mix was turned up in AC as well…great textures by the chairman throughout that wknd.

  15. [Not Tom] Says:

    Where are the new songs? All Fall and all Spring they didn’t write a single new tune together??

  16. marcoesq Says:

    Also, this is the second 2nd set that opened with a cover that didn’t get into “____ jam #1” territory

  17. VB Steve Says:

    You are right on the money with your review Miner, I was there (both nights) and last night killed! Haters be damned

  18. JerZ Says:

    So, I wanted to spin second set since posting early this morning that I thought the show was a train wreck- and after listening…

    Still a trainwreck.

    Signed,
    Jaded:/

  19. Lycanthropist Says:

    @poop

    i know you arent a big guyute fan..

    but I really love that tune when they hit it right.

    But the night was just as zach said:

    Too many missed opportunities to ignore.

    But on to the next show right?

  20. tela'smuff Says:

    In hotel in Topeka. Listened to DCU 1 set 2 again. Think this is now my fav set of 3.0. The Ghost is much like the UIC Disease, searching. Love it.

    So I wanted a Split in Cincy, and my first Dog Log. Now I know they r f’in with me.

    Feels like some good possibilites for Cincy as far as song choices. At this point, I don’t know what to think with this tour, but for sure happy to be hopping on.

  21. [Not Tom] Says:

    I haven’t been to a show yet this tour (so this opinion will likely change once I do) but this tour is imparting shades of nostalgia act.

  22. Dorn76 Says:

    “They missed going back into Hood” is a good problem to have.

  23. marcoesq Says:

    Best review I’ve ever read on phish.net

  24. poop goblin Says:

    no doubt lycan. still very stoked on this tour. boys sound great and Trey’s fingers are flying.

    I got AV, BGCC, and Dick’s still this summer at minimum

  25. [Not Tom] Says:

    I’m just saying, they’ve got to bring super heady jams consistently or some new tunage, or both, or this could get stale quick.

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