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. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    nice (albeit long) post silly

    in the end, all you have are the choices you make and the experiences that arise from them. the trick is figuring out which chances to take.

  2. Chonz Says:

    good stuff @Silly.

    Phish is definitely a multi-faceted experience, and whatever side of the gem you are looking through will refract your perception accordingly.

  3. GhostPhunk Says:

    I love the Phish experience but can I get some deep space mementos for later too?

  4. neemor 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.”

    If it wasn’t for the parentheses, worst post ever.

    I’m hearing some down fanners here today.
    Missing it.
    Just missing it.

  5. neemor Says:

    Read the Book.

  6. marcoesq Says:

    Silly, great post man.

  7. poop goblin Says:

    like I said last night. no way Trey just off probation brings his Sour Diesel down to Virginia.

    once he gets back above the mason dixon the flow and jamming will return

  8. glennw Says:

    Silly Willy, reading about people’s passion and experience is the whipped cream. I love your analysis.

  9. Beaten Worker Says:

    @Poop

    Do you have any insight on whether or not Trey is actually using the sour deez? Or does he just reference it?

    I know people get weary of these questions, and I certainly respect the man for getting off the hard stuff, but I think most can agree that some plants and maybe even a litte red would help Big Red in loosening up on stage.

  10. Beaten Worker Says:

    I ask this because I was under the impression he was 100% off everything.

  11. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    green tea’s a helluva drug, man

  12. harryhood Says:

    Took a nasty spill this moring on the stairs on the way into my office this morning and donated my entire coffee to Phish’s loading dock. One for my hommies……..

  13. marcoesq Says:

    I think he’s joking. In this part of the recovery, I would assume Red’s handlers have him off everything past Kombucha and dandelion root tea.

  14. marcoesq Says:

    Maybe he should drink LESS tea, that might help his anxiety.

    He’s always sippin on that cup on stage

  15. neemor Says:

    Some dick posted for me above in a very self-righteous way, so allow me to rectify:

    I have to be careful not to put my enormous expectations on the band that they are going to melt my face off every night and that every second set is going to be four songs that flow completely unabated into each other and reveal the mysteries of the universe. (That’s what LSD is for.)
    These are four men from Vermont who have been doing this for a long time, do it like no one else and have brought us along for 25 years so we can all see what happens as a community.
    If I’m not smiling and laughing and dancing and enjoying the hell out of the band’s high-energy and focused playing right now, I will miss Summer 2012 and all the magic that it has to offer.

    And by me, I mean you.

    A nostalgia act this is not. This is 2012 Phish…stunning, subtly poignant and nuanced so that if you aren’t present, truly present….you might miss it.
    And by you, I mean me.

  16. harryhood Says:

    Inside sources say Trey is 100% clean……..

  17. poop goblin Says:

    i’m j/k but pretty much everyone I know is ex opiate addicts and about 75% of us after a year or two used herbs for the marijuana maintenance program to stay clean and healthy.

    so half kidding. half just making a joke based on the sour d reference in WCU. and half kidding cuz WCU 1 was so smoking I thought he had to be puffin finally.

    herbs and successful recovery go hand in hand I got 10 years in 2014

  18. Beaten Worker Says:

    Ya I figured it was a joke. I assumed he was totally clean, but at 6 years since the arrest I guess I could see it as well.

  19. neemor Says:

    Hood goes to Starbucks when the lights go out.
    For a new cup of coffee.

  20. poop goblin Says:

    herbs have nothing to do with being clean. not a drug. and even if he was puffin I’m sure he wouldn’t be saying shit to any inside sources.

  21. marcoesq Says:

    He has to be. NA isn’t down with anything, alcohol, herbs, heck, even methodone or suboxone.

  22. poop goblin Says:

    NA doesn’t condone herbs on the side

    but how do you think there is an acronym for it like MMP

    tons of cats in NA puff and just don’t talk about it

  23. marcoesq Says:

    congrats, poop. I’m right with you. He makes a nugget reference in every Makisupa though, don’t think it’s much to read into.

  24. poop goblin Says:

    If Trey was a true NA big book banging asshat he wouldn’t be referencing Sour D at shows

    obviously he doesn’t feel it is a drug or probably wouldn’t be encouraging it’s use at his concerts given he’s in recovery and all.

  25. sumodie Says:

    4 days off between Blossom and Deer Creek?

    Based on past performance I’d wanna hit DC1 out of that DC>AV run (I’m skipping that run)

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