Phish 2012—A New Age

Portsmouth (Katie Loya)

I’ve had a couple days to kick back and spin the highlights from the first half tour, and—wowzers—talk about playback value! The current process of picking a show or set to listen to likens the old days—almost every show is worthy! And on top of that, one can just hit play at let things roll. Virtually vanished are the awkward jam abortions, the on-stage musical power struggles, and the routine setlists. Present are fluid transitions, fresh, cohesive jamming, and a spicy song selection that nobody can predict. This summer, the band has come to play, and thus far the musical highlight reel is dizzying. Last weekend in the Midwest put Worcester and AC in the rear view mirror and has the community drooling over the rest of summer’s open road. If the band continues at this rate—and they have shown no signs of slowing down—the amount of outstanding music we’ll be listening to come will be mind numbing.

Starting in Worcester on June 7 and carrying through Blossom on June 24, the band has maintained an incredibly high level of play for over two weeks—the longest such period in this era with no notably “off” show. Even in 2011—a year that upped the musical ante considerably—the night-to-night consistency that once defined Phish was still lacking. But this summer, those nightly blasts into original sonic dimensions have returned. With refined skill sets and a minimalist, “less is more,” philosophy, the guys have crafted countless highlights within the first two weeks of tour. The tightness, precision and adventure that so many fans associated with Phish throughout their career is back with a fury! Pulling elements from every era while adding new stylistic directions—all with the polish of matured musicians—the band sounds as good—if not better—than ever. They have stepped through another musical threshold—some have called it Phish 4.0—and the there seems to be no boundaries to where summer’s music may travel.

Atlantic City (Steve Lehrman)

Think about this. All of the following jams have happened in the past two weeks: Worcester’s “Carini > Taste,” “Ghost -> Boogie On,” “Roses Are Free,” and “Sandy Kane;” Bonnaroo’s “Tweezer’” AC’s “Birds > Back on the Train,” “Lighteca,” and “2001 > Reba,” Portsmouth’s “What’s the Hood?,” Cincy’s “Disease,” “Twist,” and “Sand -> Roggae,” Star Lake’s “Seventh Simple Light Groove,” and “The Golden Ghost”of Cuyahoga Falls! Innovative jamming all over the place—and that’s just the super-dope chronic shit! There are supporting jams all over these shows that stand out as well. Consider the results from following songs that have been in consistent rotation—“Bathtub Gin,” “Stash,” “2001,” “Tube,” “Stealing Time,” “Piper,” “Ocelot,” “Slave,” and “Tweezer.” Put all that together with an array of bustouts, laser-like precision, and a revitalized enthusiasm, and Summer 2012 is shaping up to be quite the season!

If one word can sum up the difference in the band’s playing this summer, it is “patience.” Applying a minimalist approach to jams, no member is forcing ideas into the mix. Instead, each player is listening and tastefully adding their part to the whole. Obviously, the most significant change in this respect has been with Trey. Laying back in almost every jam, he is allowing others to steer the ship before striking strategically with his most creative playing in years. One need not look any farther than the aforementioned jams to hear the spectacular results. And, again, we are only one third of the way through the summer. If 2012 follows the contours of the previous three years, the playlist we’ll have at the end of the year will be heavenly.

Night in and night out, Phish have been executing their game plan. Crafting thematic shows based on different aspects of their repertoire, the band’s creativity is at a 3.0 peak. The level of excitement in the shows, on the lot, and in the community is palpable and growing with each and every throwdown. I can’t remember the last time such a widespread positive sentiment blanketed the scene. Everyone has jumped back on the train and we are in for a joyride like we never imagined.

Star Lake Pre-Show (Erin Loeb)

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1,069 Responses to “Phish 2012—A New Age”

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  1. carleethian Says:

    Hodor! Thanks Miner. Denver can’t come soon enough!

  2. Bowiehunter Says:

    Things are looking good going into the heart of the tour.. Looking for strong outings again this year @Deer Creek > Alpine. The Phourth will bring a bang for sure!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! SOMEONE somewhere is gonna get Harpua’d!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  3. RedRedWorm Says:

    Very well said. I am the notorious fluffer amongst my crew and it has felt great to have the usual naysayers completely silenced this tour. At this rate, this tour will be more about noting standout shows, not standout jams as has been common practice in 3.0. Still smiling from the Ruckus in the Rust Belt!

    See y’all in Deer Creek!

  4. BrandonKayda Says:

    Well said! Sure wish I could hit a show or two this tour – playing is hotter than its been in awhile, more consistency in jamming, etc. Gotta love it.

  5. Justin Says:

    I don’t post here often but always enjoying reading Mr. Miner’s reviews and thoughts on the shows; as well as the comments that are thoughtful and insighful taboot.

    I haven’t been to a show yet this tour, but hitting all three nights of SPAC and couldn’t be more excited. Seeing them since ’96 and always enjoy hitting the shows when I can.

    My summer has been highlighted for me so far by the soundtrack that Phish has provided during the tour. Seems like they are relaxed and letting themselves go more in a more fluid and together direction.

    Great to see and hear and they continue to be one of the few bands around that hit me the way only they can do. 3.0 has been very kind to me, having hit Hershey, Camden, and Jones Beach summer ’10, Utica>Providence in the Fall, and 1/1/11.

    Maybe not “highlight” shows but had a blast at Camden last summer; Curtain With and Swept Away>Steep worth the price of admission, and Merriweather had some solid moments as well.

    SPAC can’t come soon enough, but safe travels and solid shows to those hitting DC, Alpine, and JB!

  6. butter Says:

    damn just digesting this Light from Star Lake, completely original jam and wowzers

    great article again Miner, yep agreed on the one word “patience”

  7. butter Says:

    oh snap – on the calypso jam in Star Lake Light

  8. butter Says:

    thats some crunchy Phish right there

  9. MrCompletely Says:

    yeah butter

    that part is choice

  10. MrCompletely Says:

    so yeah the held note through the Cuyahoga Ghost verses is pretty hard to deal with in headphones. not nearly as intrusive through speakers

  11. MrCompletely Says:

    the dissolve into storage psychedelia in Golden Age is excellent and really got me with the effect I was talking about in the prior post’s discussion of Split, where the gradual dissolve of structure just kind of takes your mind with it…very pleasant psychic effect

  12. MrCompletely Says:

    very dense soloing by Troy in this ghost. no shortage of ideas, no fumbling, to repetition to fill space.

  13. MrCompletely Says:

    no* repetition just to fill space

    the only complaint I have about that ghost jam is that it’s not longer, again. was hitting a really beautiful plane when it ended – though I guess it’s not fair to praise the density and freshness of ideas in a jam and then critique them for ending it, if they felt like the good ideas had ended?

  14. MrCompletely Says:

    night all. that was another choice slice for sure. right now I feel like the light/weekapaug and twist are my top favorites of the recent shows but there’s a lot to listen to and think about

  15. Mr.Miner Says:

    Yeah, ghost seemed to come to a natural end. Though I feel you.

  16. lumpyhead Says:

    dude the last couple minutes of the ghost are sick!
    unrelated, just hearing for the first time.

  17. garretc Says:

    Hmm, Miner, “What’s The Hood?” is what you’re going with?

    I’m more partial to:

    “Harry Use?”

  18. ReidIcculus Says:

    Sandy Kane! Brahhh

    It takes 3 “H’s” to get past auto correct.

    I’m more excited than I can remember. The “shed” jamming is reaching a different level. The Sonic Scenery at the moment is bright, but frightening, unknown, and for some, UnKind. It is a Golden Age…but I think it will come to be known as Phish 2012. Whatever pandemonium awaits as the year moves forward, seems like we are getting to hear the soundtrack.

  19. MiA Says:

    Somehow the psychedelia stuff never really struck me on playback.

    But kuroda’s lights have really added a huge dimension to this jamming style.

    What sounds at times at times atonal to ambient, sound almost scripted/composed (almost designed) with kuroda.

    Live the tiers in the jams more than anything. Willing to abandon an idea for a fresh one and not try a new jam.

    Absolutely live that they are playing the whole catalog. Will make the back end of the tour more special.

    Mound comes out at Deer Creek.

  20. MiA Says:

    Love…. Oh well.

  21. RoosterPizza Says:

    Is Erin Loeb related to Lisa?

  22. RoosterPizza Says:

    The beginning of Twist and Kuroda’s lights…that’s the stuff dreams are made of.

  23. MiA Says:

    Personally “Mike’s simple light groove” is great.

    Seven simple light groove? No likey.

  24. MiA Says:

    Literally Rooster. Those lights stick with you.

  25. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    [Personally] can’t disagree with this post! Loving what we are getting from this tour. Keep it up!

    Somebody is just messing with me now. Last night I run off a list of synonyms (I know, I know) for ‘cathartic’ and today one shows up in my inbox as the word of the day. 😮

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