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. harryhood Says:

    Not claiming that I know Trey personally. Hell, I’ve never even shook the guys hand. I have however talked to several guys who are friends and employees of Big Red and I can’t tell you how much they all stress the fact that Trey currently is on a mission of staying clean and focusing on the musician and artist that he’s finally come to realize that he is. Thus the Broadway and orchastral stuff. I’m no expert, but id wager a stiff bet that Green Tea and meditation is as heavy as it gets for our ginger bandleader currently.

  2. marcoesq Says:

    I hear you. That’s a part of who his following is and maybe he still wants to identify with them/us. Personally, herbs have started to give me mad anxiety in the past 2-3yrs and I can really only get down once I’ve been drinking a little. Obviously, I’m not a poster participant.

    He seems to have some anxiety issues and just based on how it makes me feel, I could see him having some similar issues.

  3. Gavinsdad Says:

    Deer creek 2001 gonna be on blast

  4. neemor Says:

    “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.”

    Doesn’t seem like encouragement to point out that the venue reeks like herb.
    BTW, herb is a drug.

  5. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    this gif matches up surprisingly well to the Paug from last night

  6. marcoesq Says:

    ::At AC::

    Red: “Back on those days when my life was a haze”
    Everyone: “Woooooohooooooo!!!”
    Red: “Haha, wtf”

  7. poop goblin Says:

    “BTW herb is a drug”

    thankfully nothing that comes out of neemor is anywhere near factual

    nor would I ever listen to any one’s opinion that rocks an “Antelope” jersey

    back to work kids
    midwest will slay

  8. harryhood Says:

    An asshat comment to one of the nicest guys on the board and then a peaceout…….. gotta love it.

  9. Beaten Worker Says:

    Thanks for the clarification PooG. I imagined it was a reference to the WCU, but as someone who has not experienced a lot of addicition, neither personal or friends/family, I wasnt sure exactly what the school of thought is.

    I know he had some dark times in the past and it still seems to me that he is still very embarrased about that time of his life, but at the same time I cant imagine him going the rest of his life without having a glass of wine or a puff of herb, or something. Now, if that is what it takes for him to not fall back into a deep hole, then obviously its the right path.

    But as a musician and an artist, it just seems crazy to abstain from using things that we all know help the artisitic process.

    I dont know, just ranting at this point. Congrats on being off the hard stuff for that long. You should share your tips with Trey 😉

  10. harryhood Says:

    How is “Herb is not a drug” not a factual statement?

  11. marcoesq Says:

    “I cant imagine him going the rest of his life without having a glass of wine or a puff of herb, or something.”

    That, my friends, is recovery. Some adhere to it more than others but as a 50yrs old man with wife and kids and great career, I can tell you with 99% assurance that he is on that wagon.

  12. marcoesq Says:

    He gives some type of herb reference during every. single. makisupa, WCU was just another example.

  13. sumodie Says:

    Nowadays I find the phrases like ‘completely sober’ or ‘100% clean’ to be meaningless. The array of unhealthy behavioral choices is unending & often quite different for each of us

    Sure, I’ll believe Trey is 100% off of a specific substance like heroin, but projecting beyond that to his being ‘sober’ means nothing to me

    You’ve heard me say it before: Trey seems to be healthy, happy, and on a sustainable game plan. I don’t care what kind of possible ‘non-sober’ behavior Trey engages in as long as it works for him and his important relationships

  14. oldskool Says:

    quick drive by looks like a weird day on the BB… lots of bashing and questions regarding Trey’s sobriety. Feels more like the vibe of another board today.

  15. MiA Says:

    Word Oldskool.

    Good thing is I have to get out of work, and still pack and get ready to go to Cincy to Blossom.

    Gonna be a fun weekend!

  16. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    @oldskool
    saw your response re: Walking Dead the other day. kinda really looking forward to the re-run through the series in July with the pilot and possibly other episodes being shown in black and white.

  17. poop goblin Says:

    THE SOUR D POST WAS A FUCKIN JOKE!!!!!!

    damn you peeps are too fuckin serious

    I HAVE NO FUCKIN CLUE WHAT TREY IS UP TO!

    EITHER DO YOU!

    WHO FUCKIN CARESE!

    WCU #1 SLAYED!

  18. neemor Says:

    From someone who daily attends fellowship meetings revolving around 12 steps, I can tell you that the statement”herb is a drug” is indeed factual from a recovery standpoint.

    For someone who doesn’t like my jersey, he sure gave me a big hug in Worcester.

  19. harryhood Says:

    @ Sumodie

    100% agreed. I don’t always share my personal matters with everyone, including some of my closest friends. I’m sure Trey doesn’t either, but I’m just relaying what people who know him personally are saying. What the guy does behind closed doors is his business and I couldn’t care less if he’s blazing the Sour Diesel every night as long as he’s happy and healthy, which it certainly appears that he is at the moment.

  20. neemor Says:

    ” I cant imagine him going the rest of his life without having a glass of wine or a puff of herb, or something.”

    Neither can he.
    That’s why we only think about today.

  21. dorn76 Says:

    Couple meh shows leading to itchy keyboard fingers.

  22. Beaten Worker Says:

    @Marco,

    Totally agree. I know his recovery has been a big deal for him and I imagine even more so for his family, and if staying away from all things is what keeps him alive and happy then that is whats best.

    I was more just saying that as an artist it is surprising to me. Not that one cant reach the desired result without the use of certain intoxicants, but it does help.

    I just find the whole situation interesting I guess. A guy who used to be the leader of the biggest party on the road, no playing sober to a bunch of people who are, for the most part, not sober at all.

  23. sumodie Says:

    Marcoesq, are you saying you’re 50? Cause Trey’s not quite there. Your wording was odd, just curious…

  24. dorn76 Says:

    Note: Enjoyed many moments from last 3 shows, just didn’t feel they had the extra sauce smeared on the first 4.

  25. poop goblin Says:

    I love how dude thinks he knows Trey cuz he works across the street

    awesome

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