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. kenny powers Says:

    I have to stand by my thoughts last night and say i feel most if not all of the jams felt rushed or unrealized. They were definitely tight as hell and I absolutely love watching Trey’s fret board hand action, and i’m sure if i was there i would’ve had a blast.

    but from a purely objective, personal POV i just felt teased big time. Like when Trey started doing that pseudo-ska thing at what became the end of Cities and the beginning of Ya Mar, i got really excited thinking they were gonna take Cities in a very unique direction and give us the most exploratory version since Greek…and even the Ya Mar completely omitted the usually given Trey solo before the outtro.

    While R&R i felt was too short and standard and the metamorphasis into the ambient space was pretty rushed/unnatural, my God that ambient part was 2-3 minutes of absolute sonic bliss. That’s where all the lights dropped out and the ovals were pulsating in really low-lit multicolors…my jaw was on the floor.

    Then Tweezer got incredibly nasty and Trey’s tone was just disguistingly dirty, but then BAM they sped right into the raging end of the jam. While I felt the flow of R&R>Tweez was really smooth, I thought the rest of the set was pretty juke box-y.

    don’t mean to be negative, just my thoughts. i actually really like the webcast experience, esp on my setup, and i had a blast watching Tuesday night’s silliness. Also had a blast with 12/30/10 from home. I just wasn’t feeling the inspiration last night is all.

  2. Gavinsdad Says:

    I cannot possibly put into words how hot the girl that just sat down to me on the train is. We are on the quiet car. Both of us on iPads. She is reading the times and I’m on the BB. This is out of a movie right now.

    She just made me pause the slave to give her a pen. I really don’t like this….I’m gonna pull a Snowbank here in a sec….

  3. poop goblin Says:

    best part of the VA webcasts

    that little snippet of the UIC Mind Left Bowie release

    worst part of webcast

    they cut out from the BOwie as soon as it got into total sickness

  4. kenny powers Says:

    speaking of 12/30/10, THAT was a good Tweezer, and patient. One thing i did really like about last night’s Tweez is that Trey started doing what i thought sounded a lot like what he laid down in the Dick’s Tweez. That twangy, low note that lays the foundation for Mike to get melodic. If only they took it somewhere!

    but hey, they’re still the greatest rock band on the planet and even a show i don’t dig too much is much better than no show at all.

  5. [Not Tom] Says:

    Gavins – have you seen Source Code? You are in someone else’s body – you are supposed to make out with her.

  6. Gavinsdad Says:

    Its borderline comical….I think I’m getting punked

  7. verno329 Says:

    Another good night for me. Hardly an all timer but I find no reason to complain beyond the Wading instead of finishing Hood.

    Maybe they are planning on not finishing Hood all summer and then can finish all of the summer Hoods in the final set of Dicks.

  8. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    need pics or it didn’t happen @gdad 😉

  9. [Not Tom] Says:

    She’s using an iPad which means she honestly had no use for a pen whatsoever … She’s all over you, dog! Post up now, GDiddy!

  10. marcoesq Says:

    This RnR ambience is good shit. >Tweezer

  11. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    this would be less creepy if his screen name didn’t reference his child

  12. [Not Tom] Says:

    Son, meet your long lost Aunt.

  13. JerZ Says:

    Not Tom- I can tell you from being in AC it is definitely not a nostalgia act. There were some hot jams, great vibes, and creativity to go around. I could see where you could get that vibe from last 2 nights though.

    I think were I am disagreeing with the people who were hot on last night is- playing their songs well is not as big of a highlight to me as it seems to be to some. I’ve seen all of those songs multiple times, so played well or a couple flubs does not make a difference to me. I’d rather them get out there and get sloppy (I loved summer 2000) than to be crisp and go straight ahead

  14. RoosterPizza Says:

    T3 and [not tom] cracking me up right now.

  15. MiA Says:

    I love being punked by gorgeous women. If thats what you call making my hands sweat with your loveliness. Enjoy.

  16. sumodie Says:

    Via webcast i srsly dug port1’s odd flow & and was underwhelmed by port2’s flow

    trey seemed more on during nite 1 too

    the spread of opinions over these two nites is amusing

    I find the webcasts to be a worthwhile experience but uniquely different from in person & audio only

    Def are privy to more intimate views/ moments than are possible to see in person. last nite one could clearly see the microphone in trey’s cup, as he spoke to someone just before the band went into full on wtu (pretty sure i remember the moment correctly, would he be able to cue fishman/the band thru that mic, or someone else off stage?)

    And ywah, webcasters get to see more looks amongst bandmembers, tho I’m not sure we interpret the looks as correctly as we assume we do

    not worried about phish’s state of affairs as compared with last year. the band’s chops, communIcatIon skills & energy level feel stronger than last year, so stay tuned….

  17. halcyon Says:

    I do agree with some of the musical sentiments expressed. It feels like they are getting super close to the edge, and instead of jumping off, they take a step back.

  18. Tweezer is like a box of chocolates Says:

    People should stop complaining about the guitar-heavy Tweezer. It’s not like the rest of the band was silent, jeez let Trey have some fun once in a while. I like ambient jams as much as the next guy, but they had just finished a great one in RnR anyways. There is no single correct way to jam Tweezer, in my opinion.

  19. MiA Says:

    Listened to Tweezer, and it was fan-fucking-tastic. And Mike wanted to keep going for sure.

    Lovely.

  20. SillyWilly Says:

    So, I’ve spent the last couple of hours reflecting on something that occurred to me after reading Mr. Miner’s post. And I realized a deficiency in my own conception of the band. Read me all the way through, don’t get pissed in the middle because I think I come out in the right space (I think.)

    Now, this might be a little too much on the theory for some, but I think it’s fun to think about. Here goes:

    Point #1:

    I love jams and deep improv is my favorite aspect of Phish. I honestly believe deep improv comes through the stream, through the tapes, and, of course, in person.

    I am NOT saying that the stream or the tapes are better than the live experience. I am simply saying that type II is experienceable in both settings.

    Point #2:

    I often find that one of the reasons I love the improv that comes through on tape is that you can take that improv with you. You can listen back for years and enjoy it as it is. It becomes an artifact. It becomes a commodity… and it was exactly at this realization where I saw the folly of my ways.

    Point #3 (Theory):

    My education was in literature/art theory. I loved it. And I can’t help but to see art in that way. It’s like seeing things in the right color and knowing you can’t go back. It’s like hearing the HD Flacs against the MP3s. You’ve been spoiled.

    I wholeheartedly believe that Phish stands against the mainstream model in the music industry. They do this in multiple ways: They make their work difficult to mass produce. Not many big-time corporate record company is going to mass produce phish shows for the general public. They change up every show, so there’s no static model of what Phish is. They interact with the fans, so there’s less of that artist as expert feeding fans as little consumers.

    And MOST IMPORTANTLY: Phish offers an experience. It is not so much something to consume, but something TO DO. On Phish tour is something “TO BE” not TO BUY (there is purchases that have to be made, but that’s not the main point, as for example, buying a pair of shoes, or the latest Bon Iver album).

    Point #4:

    In our world, corporations strive to reduce us to consumers. You are what you buy. And what you buy is going to be mass produced in order to maximize profit. There’s going to be very little actual choice, because diversity is difficult to produce and market. (What is the effect of advertising other than to suggest things like “Dr. Pepper 10: It’s not for women” – what is this saying? It’s saying to be a man, consume Dr. Pepper 10)

    Point #5:

    Phish, however, through working to create an experience offers a chance to be more human. What do humans (vs. consumers) do? Humans are. Humans be. Humans act and experience.

    Point #6

    Therefore, (and everyone already said this. I’m just detailing my personal path to enlightenment): the experience is the priority and is the point.

    This is not to say that the jams aren’t important. They are because in the live setting, big jams are the pinnacle of unpredictability, originality, and spontaneous freedom.

    It’s just that I need to put more weight on the experience of the live setting. Because that’s what this is all about.

    (if you made it this far reading my post, you’re an absolute champ.)

  21. litteringand Says:

    Just thrownig it out again. If anyone has extras for dc and alpine I will take them off your hands. jaengland11 at gmail dot com

  22. GhostPhunk Says:

    Both Gins have had the chance to go deep, they just refuse. Tweezer last night had a chance to be a big one, hell RnR for that matter. They are can’t seem to find a moment where all four agree it’s go time.

    I love this band but I’m with poop, I’m not hearing anything close to the band we started this tour with and the myriad opinions today say a lot.

    Listened to Carini>Taste on the way in, calmed me down a bit, made me realize that just happened a few weeks ago.

    (Also, I was loving that Tweezer while it was there last night)

  23. GaberT Says:

    I thought the show was an absolute gem until the left turn during Hood. Replacing a hood finale with WTU and Sea was more than disappointing, but in my mind only took it down a notch from…let’s say…”epic” to “stellar”

    Of course, I was on the couch, I think I’d be even more positive had I been in attendance.

  24. [Not Tom] Says:

    Uh oh – I think Silly just went atomic. Well said dude!

  25. RicksFork Says:

    I read it all Silly and appreciated it. That is what it is all about and when I find myself nit-picking or complaining I need to remind myslef that being there is better than being almost anywhere else. Each night is unique and special in its own way.

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