The Legend Of The Golden Ghost

Official 6/24 Print (Subject Matter)

Well, IT happened again. For the third straight night, Phish destroyed a Midwestern amphitheatre—this time in Cleveland, Ohio—with the type of dense musical drama that speaks to the psychonaut in all of us. Presented in three improvisational chunks, last night’s second set put a magnifying lens on groove, as each segment featured a different stylistic take on rhythmic playing. The band concluded their weekend run—and the opening third of Summer 2012—with a boldface musical exclamation point, and things couldn’t look finer in the universe of Phish.

A night after showcasing a new-school “plinko” symphony at Star Lake, Phish gave us an intimate look into the “Storage-shed” style of jamming, named after Super Ball’s fourth set phenomenon—specifically with the opening sequence of the second half. But before things got eerie, we hit the dance floor with the band’s best modern-era cover, “Golden Age.” Primarily used as a single instead of a jam vehicle since its debut, consider last night a win for the home team. Breaking out of the song, Trey crack-like rhythm playing—the style that has been fairly absent in this era—took over, and he sliced and diced the music in a way that got the pavilion pulsing. Able to step up with Trey’s minimalism, Mike’s bass lines bushwhacked a silky path for the music. Maintaining this addictive texture for the first part of the jam, Trey moved into some unconventional leads before hitting an effect pedal that signified the beginning of a gradual descent into an outright Storage soundscape. Crafting a collaborative canvas—simultaneously haunting and beautiful—the ambient music that emanated from the stage, for the second consecutive night, could only have come from this era. Drifting into deep space with delicate communication rather than overlaying copious effects, the band painted an avant-garde work of art before bleeding slowly into “Ghost.”

6.22.12 (M.Stein)

Placed in the wheelhouse of the second set, and paired with the previous excursion, “Ghost” was primed to explode for the second time this summer. As the jam opened, Trey cut into the groove with a snarling guitar lick that primed the intimate pavilion at Blossom for action. Completely demolishing the opening part of “Ghost,” Trey showcased fingers of fury as he tore off one spectacular phrase after another. Fish and Mike anchored the mix with a smooth-as-all-get-out pocket of liquid groove. Crushing this linear theme for some time, things would soon veer far off course into another portion nouveau Phish. After his scorching soloing, Trey—with Fishman—moved into more abstract territory, and within seconds the band seamlessly entered an alternate musical reality. Trey looped an effected drone pattern and began playing notes and other layers atop an intricate rhythm. Fusing Storage sounds into this abstract groove, the band crafted another distinctly 2012 jam. “The Golden Ghost”—another timeless sequence that we’ll be listening to for years to come—finished nearly 25 minutes after the band came on stage, providing yet another prime example of musical density. Navigating no less than four separate textural feels within this compact time frame, the guys astounded their audience once again. Tastefully twisting into Exile’s “Sweet Virginia” the band capped the opening portion of the set with the always welcome ballad.

6.20.12 (M.Stein)

Phish—but for a few measures—nailed a mid-set “Rift” that shocked and persuaded our souls to ignite for the monstrous dance throwdown that lurked around the corner in the form of “Tweezer.” Notably juicing the venue with its opening licks, the band hadn’t combined “Ghost” and “Tweezer” in the second set in ages. And with the band dropping all types of filthy grooves throughout the set, one had to imagine “Tweezer” would follow suit. But instead of opening the door to a gooey fantasy land upon the outset, the guys pounced directly onto a “Tweezer Reprise” jam! Usually reserved for the end of shows, this chord progression was far much more adrenaline-inducing knowing that a “Tweezer” jam was coming on its heels! Atop a robust rhythm Trey broke the “Reprise” jam with a seething guitar lick and then backed waaay off, allowing Mike to caress our ears with seductive, envelope-filtered leads. Over a groove as dancy as a Solid Gold, Trey chopped in with a series of staccato chords before playing a dark melody that began to resemble Queen and David Bowie’s “Under Pressure.” Realizing the similarity, Trey adjusted his playing and stepped to the mic. But when nobody in the band knew the lyrics, this part turned into a comical mashup of “Tweezer” and “Under Pressure,” with Trey even giving a nod to Vanilla Ice’s ripped-off pop single “Ice, Ice Baby!” When Trey claimed that “This is obviously going nowhere!” he jokingly suggested bringing a bunch of girls to up to dance the “Meatstick,” in reference to their first-set closing antics. And on cue, the band moved into a “Meatstick Reprise.” Loose and having a blast, the band hand the crowd in the palm of its hand, and when they dropped back into “Tweezer,” the place blew up. Recommitting to the “Tweezer” groove, they guys gradually morphed the jam into “Walk Away!”

With a “Reprise”-esque jam already written into the modern-day version of the cover, “Walk Away” provided the band a chance to bring “Tweezer’s” tease-laced suite to a powerful head. And thus ended the second improvisational chunk of the set. “Horse -> Silent” provided an appropriate exhale before the Phish dove into the final part of the night with “Piper.”

6.17.12 (M.Stein)

Superb song selection teamed up with airtight jamming on this night to deliver a set that just kept on giving. Resetting the improvisational palette, the band engaged in one more permutation of groove, this time of the uptempo variety. Blasting off in a hard-edged opening to the jam, soon Trey pulled back on his leads in favor of high-paced rhythm playing, encouraging Mike and Fish to switch gears into a percussive pattern. As Page played the Rhodes with prominence, the band coalesced into another quintessential style of Phish groove. When Trey came back over the top with a scorching lead, the guys upped the vigor of the piece into a rock-based groove before coming down into a distorted and demented ending and seeping into “Waste.” As Trey soulfully played one of many fan’s favorite ballad-based solos, one could see an oncoming “Antelope” as plain as day.

Always far beefier as a second set closer rather than at the end of the first, this well-placed “Antelope” blossomed into the fiercest of summer. Including teases of “Under Pressure” and “Meatstick” in the intro, the band was in an incredibly playful mood as they hit the night’s final jam, and their enthusiasm spoke loudly through the speakers. Dynamic and far livelier that usual, “Antelope” was underlined by intricacy and smoothness as well as force and power, providing a smashing conclusion to another amazing set of Phish.

6.17.12 (M.Stein)

With the band’s totally revitalized musical perspective and playing that is as dialed in as ever, Phish tour now carries the nightly consistency of lore. Every time the lights drop, the possibilities are both spectral and endless, and one can be fairly sure they will leave the show astounded. Excitement and overjoyedness—emotions that have come to define the current state of Phish—coarse through the veins of the entire community once again. And with the Midwestern Meccas of Deer Creek and Alpine on the horizon, I don’t think things are slowing down any time soon!

Set One Notes: The band is slaying virtually anything they touch right now, giving even standard first sets like last night’s an extra pop. Song selection plays a large part how much one likes these sets, and for the most part I dug last night’s opening frame. A short but super-charged “Tube” foreshadowed the theme of the second set, and though the band gave “Gin” a solid spin, the version didn’t necessarily stack up to the previous couple outings. “Limb” provided the jam of the first set with particularly active communication between all four members. The rarity, “Corrina,” graced us with a late set appearance before an antic filled “Meatstick”—in which Trey pulled no less than seven fans on stage at a futile, but funny, attempt to get the participants to do the dance—ended the set in comical fashion. Very tight and very clean, though improvisationally thin, the first set mattered little after Blossom’s second set bombardment.

I: Sample in a Jar, Tube, Axilla, Bathtub Gin, Roses Are Free, Limb By Limb, Free, NICU, Possum, The Wedge, Corinna, Meatstick*

II: Golden Age > Ghost > Sweet Virginia, Rift, Tweezer* -> Walk Away > The Horse > Silent in the Morning> Piper, Waste,  Run Like an Antelope

E: Loving Cup > Tweezer Reprise

* w/ crowd dancers on stage ** w/ “Under Pressure” teases/mashup

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1,076 Responses to “The Legend Of The Golden Ghost”

  1. Steve P. Says:

    That 2nd set looks pretty narly. #midwestlove

    Anyone have a code sperkel at gmail dot com

  2. btb Says:

    Kaveh – thanks. I have to confirm with the SLF that I am devoting yet another weekend to the Phish. Should know today or tomorrow.

  3. Mr. Palmer Says:

    At this point i hope that JB doesn’t get webcast’d. Only sold out shows that remain though….

  4. Monsterpus Says:

    Nice touch with the Corinna, loved hearing that one at AC in 2010. That Taj album was a favorite of my dad’s when I was a wee lad

  5. c0wfunk Says:

    ditching the tropical storm’d beach vacay and heading back to the mountains. Gonna try again next week. Trying to work DC into the mix but it doesn’t look like it’s happnin.. At least I’ve got all 3 shows cued up for the 10 hour drive back today. Glad to see all the sunshine and applejacks back in phish land. Living vicariously through my brother-in-law out there on the road seeing all these midwest sheds for the first time. Nothing like spending an extra 20 hours in the car for no apparent reason, with no show at the end! We drove down here Saturday, endured a day of storm yesterday and are hightailing it back home today. Gonna try again next week. I know ya’ll likely don’t care but you get to read it anyway.

  6. Aquaman Says:

    Goos morning all,

    All I can say is…are you kidding me? I am crying at work right now. I really have to go to Denver now.

    It’s tough knowing I had this three show run all setup and had to pull the plug at the lat minute. I spent last night on my porch listening to Star Lake set 2 with a bat and a beer and can’t believe how good the playing is right now. I am looking forward to MMJ at Red Rocks in August but it may not make up what is turning out to be the biggest failure of my Phish career.

    -aqua “small a”-

  7. gratefulcub Says:

    Two straight Ghosts with slow rolling intros!!! I’ve been waiting for that….

  8. Mr. Palmer Says:

    ” How can you have any pudding, if you don’t eat your meat”?

    ^^ is this what Trey is saying during the reprise section of Tweezer? Nutso.

  9. Kaveh Says:

    @btb: no worries, just saying if it works out for you; let’s be in touch; as I may be able to help you out.

  10. Mr. Palmer Says:

    They are indeed Destroying America , Summer 2012.

  11. DaNcInG fOoL Says:

    Now let’s get some fucking jamming in the first set!

  12. gratefulcub Says:

    Is Cincy>Pittsburgh>Cleveland really the ‘Midwest’?

  13. [an unrelated] Wilson Says:

    if they’re not destroying America, they are certainly causing a lot of damage.

  14. c0wfunk Says:

    Ohio’s in the midwest Pennsylvania, not really, but Pittsburgh is kind of the border.

  15. Kevin Says:

    Golden Age > Ghost. The stuff dreams are made of.

  16. gratefulcub Says:

    I reject that map Cowfunk 😉 I’m creating a rust belt to ensure more accuracy. Also, an Appalachia, so that Louisville can be in a different region than Eastern Kentucky.

  17. Leo Weaver Says:

    Me too cub re: slow roller ghosts, me too.

    Is it too much to ask that the boys continue their march of destruction and insanity into the cornfields? I didn’t think so.

  18. gratefulcub Says:

    With 3 days off, start checking the list of songs that haven’t been played this tour, because they will be arriving this weekend. They are intent on playing a big set of songs this summer.

  19. Beaten Worker Says:


    Im having a really rough morning (I fucking hate my job, its sucking the life out of me), but I just spun this Tweezer and smiled for the first time all morning.

    What a weekend in the Phish world. I love it.

  20. Mr. Palmer Says:

    Anyone seen these bumper stickers on tour? I want one.

    ” My Second Vehicle is a Second Set Tweezer”

  21. BrandonKayda Says:


    It’s from the Wall – one of the teachers says that line to a kid during another brick in the wall.

    This Antelope slays, and I haven’t been a fan lately. Love it.

  22. neemor Says:


  23. Guyute711 Says:

    Quoting my roommate again. This is pretty funny.

    “Has anyone seen a setlist from the Chesney/McGraw show? I wanted to know if they played No Shoes, No Shirt, No Problem.

    Their fans are much hotter than Phish fans.”

  24. Leo Weaver Says:

    Saw those on FB Palmer…I’ll custy one up for ya if I see ’em at the creek.

  25. Leo Weaver Says:

    We could hear that junk in the backyard last night G. I ran inside quickly and put on my headphones full of phish to clean the ears.

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