Lazy Sunday

Posted in Uncategorized with the tags , on June 18th, 2012 by Mr.Miner

6.17.12 (Jesse Herzog)

And sometimes there are strange nights at the Phish concert, and Sunday would most definitely qualify. Despite a quality opening to the second set in “Drowned > 2001 > Reba,” the band played songs as if they were on “shuffle” mode all night long and somehow, their iPod missed any true launch pads and—for much of the second set—even rock songs. In a series of head-scratching decisions, the band unveiled a string of ballads in the middle of the second set, totally dousing any fire the set had going, while leaving the night with little to no musical adventure. Phish, to their credit, played every song in both sets quite well, but whoever was calling songs was in a particularly mellow mood and allowed the show—as a whole—to fall flat. Before breaking down the questionable calls in this one, let’s turn to the centerpiece of the show.

6/17 Official Print (DKNG)

Bursting out of the second-set gates with The Who’s “Drowned,” the guys crafted an engaging jam, but it never veered far enough from the song for long enough to qualify for an “Atlantic City Jam,” and for a second-set opening cover, that says a lot. Trey slinked into the background once it started, allowing Page to lead much of the way on piano. But just as the piece dropped into half-time and it felt like things might pop off, the band, instead, turned for a quick, ambient transition into “2001.” And here is where the action of the show truly took place. Opening up the funk instrumental with slowed and chunky, open-air grooves, all four members coalesced in the most exalting “2001” of this summer. Stretching out the first verse with James Brown teases, and then the second verse with slow and swaggering rhythm patterns that evoked the vibe of many past festival monsters, Trey shared the spotlight with Gordon. The wide open grooves continued as the band followed the peak of  “2001” with a divine “Reba.” Remaining true to its classic contour throughout, the band delicately eased into the groove and slowly built a remarkable rendition. But aside from this phenomenal chunk of summer dance music, the show was quite thin and there’s no other way to put it.

After “Reba” came to a conclusion, Phish dropped into a second-set “Roses” and my heart nearly stopped. Were they really shifting “Roses” into rotation as a jam vehicle?! After Worcester’s first set revelation, this move seemed to signify exactly that. But when the juncture came to elevate, the band fizzled out into “Chalk Dust?!” Really? And the blows just kept, inexplicably, coming—“Prince Caspian -> “Silent In the Morning” (a pairing that worked well, though ill-placed), “Bug,” and an anticlimactic ending of “A Day in a Life” and a standard “Down With Disease?!” The setlist oddities continued right through a double encore of “Jibboo” and “Quinn The Eskimo.”

6.17.2012 (Jesse Herzog)

In a Sunday show that seemed bound to blow up on a half-empty Bader Field, Phish took things in the polar opposite direction with virtually zero out-of-the-box jamming in either set. The random song generator was at work for an harmless first half as well. The unquestionable highlight of a solid opening half was a torrid “Timber” and surprisingly energetic version of “Fluffhead.” And I rarely point out “Fluffhead.”

In summation, Atlantic City’s final night left many, dare I say most, in the crowd incredibly underwhelmed. Though each song was played well individually—Phish is at the top of their game after all— their setlist made no coherent sense whatsoever. When the band never even attempts to jump into adventurous jamming, we are left with last night—Singlestown, USA.

On to Portsmouth…

I: Brother, Runaway Jim, Dogs Stole Things, Boogie On Reggae Woman, NICU, Foam, Wilson, Timber, Fluffhead, Walls of the Cave, Character Zero

II: Drowned > Also Sprach Zarathustra > Reba > Roses Are Free > Chalk Dust Torture, Prince Caspian ->Silent in the Morning, Bug, A Day in the Life, Down with Disease

E: Gotta Jibboo, Quinn the Eskimo

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The Crab Has Vanished In the Air

Posted in Uncategorized with the tags , on June 17th, 2012 by Mr.Miner

Official 6/16 Print (DKNG)

Summer 2012 is a great time to be a Phish fan, and last night was another reason why. Balancing a strong, song-based performance over two sets, the band unquestionably centered the show on a surreal mash-up of “Light” and “Manteca” that stands up to the any recent sonic foray. Playing support to this centerpiece jam was an engaging set-opening combination of “Crosseyed -> Slave” and a seething, late set “Sand.” But for start to finish fluidity, this second set couldn’t touch the other four of tour. Not to diminish the playing within, but the band’s recent set craftsmanship wasn’t exactly showcased in either frame on Saturday night. Nonetheless, there are plenty of highlights to discuss, so let’s start with the brightest.

A fluid sequence of “Crosseyed -> Slave” kicked off the main event, in which the band exited the snarling rock cover with a sparse textural jam that soon built—in transcendent fashion—towards a gorgeous transition into “Slave.” But following this powerful opening couplet, the band dropped into the monster jam sequence of the night, “Light -> Manteca -> Light,” or—from here on out—”Lighteca.” Trey took a different turn when confronted with “Light’s” guitar solo, quickly deferring to the rhythmic focus of Mike and Fishman. Joining in the groove-based excursion, Trey began to subtely weave teases of “Manteca” into already similar-sounding mixture. And then—bam—the band burst into the full-blown Dizzy Gillespie cover!  As they shifted back into “Light,” they continued to groove hard in an outright musical fusion. Lacing this jam with both melodic and rhythmic teases of “Manteca,” the band sculpted an incredibly slick hybrid of the two songs. Then, as Trey switched gears with some hard rhythm chords, Fish immediately changed into a more driving beat, giving the piece a very “Chalk Dust” vibe. In fact, I was sure the band was moving slowly towards a back door transition into their rock anthem, but when they steered clear of the song—instead, veering into a lyrical “Crosseyed Reprise”— I thought it to be even cooler that they didn’t take the plunge and maintained a more subtle musical nod. Eventually dripping into a spacey outro, it sounded—momentarily—as though the band would pass into “No Quarter,” but instead they chose a fitting landing point in “Theme From the Bottom.”

6.16.12 (M.Stein)

Phish continued their setlist shakeup last night by dropping an uncharacteristic, late set “Sand.” And stylistically, this one couldn’t have been more opposite of Worcester’s version. Sidestepping the whole-band focus The Centrum, last night’s “Sand” provided a retro take on the song, as Trey took center stage, lighting his Languedoc afire. While the band certainly held down a strapping groove, the focus of this jam was on the Big Red Machine. Blending the feel of millennial versions and recent TAB renditions, this “Sand” was a heat-seeker rather than an overtly swanky collaboration. And it’s fresh to see the band with such divergent takes on within a week of each other. The band carried their lyrical “Crosseyed” reprises through the set, ending “Sand” with the second such episode of the evening. The set closed with a laid back and ethereal version of “Number Line” and a relatively stock, but ripping, “Antelope.” Trey was on fire all night and “Antelope,” put a fitting cap.

A first half, filled with old-school song selections, opened with a bang when the guys came out with an adrenalizing “Mike’s Groove.” The hefty opening suite set the table for a big first opening frame, and after a teasing twin-bill of “Gumbo” and “Halley’s”—both without jams—the vibe continued with the always-menacing “My Friend” and a laid-back-turned-spirited, Trey-centric, “Wolfman’s Brother.” But the rest of the set fizzled a bit, despite an uber-chronic intro to an out of place “Punch.”

All in all, night two of AC was a very fun and tasteful night of Phish, featuring many well-known anthems for the noticeably increased Saturday night crowd, and with a centerpiece that gets tacked on to an exponentially expanding Summer 2012 highlight list. And with a centerpiece as acrobatic as “Lighteca,” and a fun “Crosseyed” theme throughout the set, everything fell right into place.

6.16.2012 (Jesse Herzog)

I: Mike’s Song > I Am Hydrogen > Weekapaug Groove, Gumbo, Halley’s Comet > My Friend, My Friend,Wolfman’s Brother, The Horse^, Lawn Boy, PossumPunch You In the Eye,  Ocelot, Suzy Greenberg

II: Crosseyed and Painless -> Slave to the Traffic Light, Light -> Manteca -> Light* > Theme From the Bottom > Golgi Apparatus, Sand* > Backwards Down the Number Line, Run Like an Antelope

E: Good Times Bad Times

^aborted, * w/ “Crosseyed” lyrical reprise

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Strutting Out of Stride

Posted in Uncategorized with the tags , on June 16th, 2012 by Mr.Miner

6.15.12 (Jesse Herzog)

Phish opened up their Atlantic City run with a scorching second set jam-packed with free-form improvisation, pushing the envelope even further on what is clearly a limitless summer of possibility. Another show—and another outstanding set that stands up to any of this era— later, the band has hit a plane of egoless interplay that we have dreamed they’d recapture since they stepped on the stage in 2009. And now with each passing show, this new found improvisational fluidity is blossoming in time-lapse in front of our eyes. Morphing elements of every style they have ever touched on—the guys are in the process of creating a vintage year of Phish—2012 —that just may wind up being the best yet.

Crafting a set with a distinctly Phish2k vibe in both song selection and stylistic lineage, the band attacked the music in the second frame like a synchronized flock of vultures with no doubt as to their mission. The way in which Trey laid back throughout the set—allowing Mike and Page to lead every jam—and then seeped into the fabric of the music with utmost subtlety was the stuff of Jedi mastery. Before you knew it, that little lick that Trey had eased into the background of a jam had grown to prominence and was the peaking the segment, tying entire episodes together with utmost coherence. When many had least expected it, the band has come out this summer at the absolute top of their game, on a seemingly star-crossed destiny.

6.15.12 (J.Herzog)

Such was the case with “Birds of a Feather,” the centerpiece of the entire show, and easily the most astounding music we’ve heard from the band in some time. Completely comfortable with the most wide-open jamming, the band crafted an incredibly dense tale of sorcery out of a song they hadn’t touched in eons. Launching far from song structure and into a pure, Phish-wonderland, the band carved out completely original, and incredibly dense music for what seemed like an eternity. At ease where he once winced, Trey laid notably back at the onset of this jam, allowing Mike to lead the way into unknown territory with an assault of sublime bass lines. As Page and Fish were totally enmeshed with the group, at this juncture Phish transformed into modern day shamans, invoking spiritual revelations to anyone who had an open ear. This is the stuff of legends, when the guys come together to create music that one could never imagine. Again, this is why we come. It seems that anyone who has put any time into this band in past couple years will be getting their payoff in droves this summer, as the guys are on a totally enhanced level of communication—only four shows into tour—than we have seen anytime recently. The music is flowing effortlessly again, and when the band is moving as one, like they were last night, nothing in the universe can stop them.

Official 6/15 Print (DKNG)

Somehow, “Bird’s” extended trip into paradise twisted its way into a seamless segue—completely out of left field—into “Back on the Train.” Much like Worcester’s “Sand -> Nellie Kane” transition, upon listen back, Trey began introducing elements of the song in the final stages of the jam, setting up Fishman to—on a dime—bring them into “Train.” After some stellar Trey soloing in “Heavy Things,” the next dive into deep water came in the classic song pairing of “Twist -> Piper.” Taking a fresh, and laid back tempo into the jam, the band really got creative with this version of “Twist” like they haven’t in some time. While never fully leaving the song, they created a spacy, soundscape in which all four members contributed equally and awesomely. But when they turned the corner and “wooed” their way into “Piper,” things took a turn for the outlandish again. Packing so many themes into a patient jam, not like so many breakneck versions of lore that just jumped down your throat, the band found themselves back in “Birds” jam territory as they dug into things. It certainly seems that Trey’s 2012 approach is a minimalist one. Weaving the most tasteful licks into this jam, Red continued to defer to Mike’s (and Page’s) leadership, picking and choosing his spots like a hawk. But the way in which his themes crept to the forefront of this jam is something to behold. Getting into some elevated and forceful, yet utterly graceful, playing, the band left countless jaws on Bader Field as they wound their way into a hypnotic ending before bleeding out into “Billy Breathes.”

Having sound checked the song earlier in the day, the band brought out their delicate ballad in a very appropriate spot, serving as a soft landing point for the free-form madness that had just concluded. Following the ballad, and after an extended silence, Phish pierced the summer air with a drop into “Sneakin’ Sally.” Entering infectious funk territory without falling back on any clichés, this jam entered original planes of gnar. With booming bass lines blanketing the field, the band broke into a late-set dance session that lit the crowd afire. This first outright groove release after a tenacious set of psychedelia felt as cool as the Nestea plunge on a 100 degree day. Juxtaposing styles at just the right moment, the band absolutely hit the spot with “Sally,” tuning the party out with a filthy episode. And as the band built the funk a bit further out, Fishman jumped on the opportunity to initiate the first “Bowie” of summer.

6.15.2012 (Jesse Herzog)

Splashing into the jam with an array of self-referential teases that rehashed many of the evening’s songs, the band’s playful side was on display within this serious set of musicianship. Taking a generally liner contour, the band carved an intense closer that fit the set’s vibe perfectly. And as the band crashed the final chord into the cool Jersey evening, I looked at my friends—it had been one of those nights again. One of those nights we’ll look back on in many years and remember fondly for the eternal music and memories within. And that “Birds” jam…whoa…that “Birds” jam!

The band eased into their three-night run with a relaxed afternoon set that featured choice song selection and a couple notable high points. A loose and rhythmic “Tube,” far more developed than recent versions, got things moving in the daylight, and sparked a slinky triumvirate of “Tube,” “Cites,” and “It’s Ice.” But the standout jam of the set was, unquestionably, “Stash.” Laced with unusually intricate interplay, this version ran the sonic gamut, crafting a must-hear highlight. And the final piece of note in the opening frame was the set’s closing “Faulty Plan.” Finally opening the song up a bit, the band entered some raunchy, uncompressed “Zero-esque” jamming that served as an obvious harbinger of things to come form a song that has lied dormant too long.

Although it’s still the early goings, everything seems to be falling into place exactly like we’d all hoped it would. In fact, it’s almost as if the band has been eavesdropping on every complaint their fan base has had about them in recent years and addressed every single point. How did they do it? Well, that’s for them to know and us to marvel about. And from my seat, I like the view.

I: The Sloth, My Sweet One, 46 Days, Camel Walk, Tube > Cities > It’s Ice, Ginseng Sullivan, Stash, Simple > The Wedge, Stealing Time From the Faulty Plan, The Squirming Coil

II: My Soul, Birds of a Feather -> Back on the Train > Heavy Things, Twist > Piper > Billy Breathes, Sneakin’ Sally Through the Alley -> David Bowie*

E: First Tube

* w/ “Stash,” “It’s Ice,” “Birds of a Feather,” “Simple,” and “Ginseng Sullivan” teases

6.15.12 (Michael Stein)

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Reminder: First Tube Art Show

Posted in Uncategorized with the tags , , , , on June 13th, 2012 by Mr.Miner

The First Tube Poster show has blown into a full blown scene with printmakers, pinmakers, and all sorts of collectable Phish-inspired art! Here is the final press release about The Mothership Collective‘s First Tube Art Show, taking place this Saturday, June 15th in Atlantic City between 10am and 3pm at Trump Plaza’s Westminster Room. Come join for what will surely be a fun afternoon! Admission is FREE!

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First Tube Poster Show

First Tube’, is an art show featuring Phish artists from around the country will be held on Saturday June 16th from 10am-3pm at the Trump Plaza Hotel, Westminster Room, on the Boardwalk in Atlantic City, New Jersey. Developed and produced by a group of artists and fans known as the Mothership Art Collective, this poster show will be held in the middle of a weekend of Phish, who play nearby Bader Field June 15-17th.

The initial artists announced for First Tube represent some of the best artists in the Phish community and poster art. Longtime Phish artists AJ Masthay, TRiPP, Ryan Kerrigan, John Warner, Erin Cadigan, Noah Phence and Bruce Horan have been a part of many poster shows in the past and each have a large portfolio of concert poster art across a wide range of musical acts. Newcomers Jiggs, Ed Wilson, Lauren Domsky and Branden Otto are featured in their first Phish poster show, as well as writer and author Dave Calarco who will be selling and discussing his book ‘Mr. Miner’s Phish Thoughts’ at the show.

First Tube will also be incorporating the growing area of pin makers and collectors into the show with Party Time Pins, 10 Minute Tube Designs, Pin Me Down and stuPINdous Creations. Brian Kushner of PhanBadge and Adam Davidoff of Phishcoins will also be in attendance, showcasing their unique memorabilia.

"Dunkalope" (Dr.Wookles)

Non-profits include The Mockingbird Foundation which has given grants for music education totaling more than $600,000 over the past 14 years; PhanArt, a book and website created as a way to showcase the art made by Phish fans and raises money for Mockingbird Foundation, and Screens ‘n’ Suds based in Richmond, VA curates beer inspired screenprints to raise money to benefit the National MS Society and other charities with monies totaling nearly $50,000 in the past 4 years.

Phish poster shows have been held over the years with great success, as unique posters made for the Phish shows that weekend and stop on the tour feature some of the best concert art being produced today. First Tube is the first event for 2012 produced by the Mothership Art Collective, a group within the Phish community, comprised of artists and organizations who promote the art inspired by the band Phish. The eclectic artists featured at this event show the broad scope of Phish related art and capture the inspiration of the band in their art. The creative fan base that Phish has makes for amazing art inspired by the band, the locales and the music. The collective will work hard to bring a show to the Phish touring public each year.

In keeping with the great tradition and success of past poster shows, First Tube will offer free entry to all patrons, tubes available for purchase, charitable donations from the event made to the Mockingbird Foundation and the Virginia Mason Foundation (in memory of Shawn Williams). First Tube will feature a wide array of artists with posters, art, pins and other memorabilia to fit any budget. Special edition works, only available at the show, will be available for viewing shortly at www.mothershipartcollective.org.

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NEED A MIRACLE FOR SF? LOVE “DAVID BOWIE?”

Bill Graham Civic Center

What: The Bowie Miracle—A contest for one free ticket to see Phish at the Bill Graham Civic Center in San Francisco on Sunday August, 19th 2012, and a free, signed copy of Mr. Miner’s Phish Thoughts.

Why: We have a ticket to miracle, however the miraclee must be a “David Bowie” fan.

The Skinny:  If you don’t have a ticket for the Sunday night BGCC San Francisco run and are a “Bowie” fan this contest is for you! Essentially, we love “Bowie” and we want you to make us understand your love of “Bowie” and, more importantly, how you got “Bowie,” when you got it and why. Maybe you got it from the first time you heard it or maybe it took a few times till the song just clicked for you? Whatever the case may be, tell us about your favorite “Bowie” and/or “Bowie” moment. All you need to do is tell us about it according to the contest rules. Judging is totally subjective and we will pay absolutely no costs for your travel to and from BGCC. One lucky winner submits an essay and gets a ticket to the show. No more, no less.

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Shots of Bonnaroo

Posted in Uncategorized with the tags , , on June 12th, 2012 by Mr.Miner

6.10.2012 (Michael Stein)

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6.10.2012 (Michael Stein)

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6.10.2012 (Michael Stein)

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6.10.2012 (Michael Stein)

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6.12.2012 (Michael Stein)

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6.10.2012 (Michael Stein)

ALL PHOTOS BY MICHAEL STEIN

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Viewing ‘Roo Through the Screen

Posted in Uncategorized with the tags , , on June 11th, 2012 by Mr.Miner

Official Bonnaroo Print (Kelly)

Yesterday was my first webcast. It was odd at first. It certainly didn’t seem real; more like watching an old DVD I had never discovered. Instead of dancing, I texted my friends and posted on Twitter for much of the first show—the entire experience felt different than a Phish show. But then I got into it. The soundboard feed and crystal clear video began to draw me in, and my first night of couch tour turned into fun time. It was certainly a novelty—bong hits on the couch while cranking the show in the early evening in California? Not a wook to be seen? No spilled beers? Not so bad, really. Was it a substitute for being there? Not at all. But watching live was certainly a great option to be as close to Manchester, Tennessee as I desired.

I don’t feel that one can give a review of a show without being there to experience—it’s just not a genuine take. But in the interest of consistency throughout the summer, I figured I’d share some thoughts on the three segments of the show that stood out the most.

“Tweezer” I

After a long string of standardized singles in the first set, the band really brought me off the couch late in the opening set with the first “Tweezer” of 2012. As soon as the band launched into the jam, they dropped into virtual silence for a few measures before creeping into a very minimalist groove. With almost no backbeat, Trey began to weave a signature staccatto—or  “plinko”—lick into the mix, pushing the delicate groove forward. Each of the the band members were laying so far back in was as if they each had their own Lazy Boy, and the result was quiet and collaborative sonic tapestry. Fishman gradually built up the jam’s rhythmic backbone, as Page stepped up for the second part of the jam. But aside from Trey’s final guiar solo, this version strayed from a conventional “Tweezer” territory, continuing the fresh trend of Worcester. After the peak, the band slid into a brief ambient outro in which Fishman seemed to be hinting at “My Left Toe.” But Trey ended any such ideas with the opening riff of “Free.”

“Carini -> Shafty” II

Bonnaroo 2012

For the second time in three shows, Phish used “Carini” as a second set launch pad into sinister waters. While Worcester’s version traveled into ambient dementia, Bonnaroo’s maintained a hard-edged psych rock vibe, as Mike anchored the jam with gargantuan bass grooves. Rather than soloing, Trey favored seething, uncompressed, Hendrix-like guitar growls while Mike and Page led the thick, psychedelic brew. As the band added layers of spacier effects over the groove, Trey took a high-register staccato solo over the increasingly abstract music. The final segment saw him carving out notes with long sustain as Mike soon decided to drop the “Shafy” bassline behind the jam. For the second time this tour, Mike was the apparent decision maker of musical direction, and this time, Trey quickly fell in line, coalescing in a smooth segue. This two-song sequence was the no-doubt highlight of the second set, while featuring the first “Shafty” since Miami ’03.

 “Harry Hood -> Light” I

(Unknown)

Towards the end of the second set, Phish dropped this unlikely song pairing. But before we get to the segue, let’s talk about the “Hood!” While Worcester’s version was nice, Bonnaroo’s was in another league. Playing with incredible passion, Trey lit up this rendition with original melodies that were distinctly different from his usual arsenal, and his finger dexterity and fluidity was on full display again. Mike responded throughout the jam with unique lines of his own, and “Hood” fully elevated with their ongoing, creative exchange. Once the band reached the top of the cathartic jam, instead of moving into “Hood’s” final section, Trey used the expected change to move into “Light” via a series of choppy rhythm chords.  This unexpected shift mimicked a similar transition from the band’s set at Austin City Limits set in 2010, but this time, they got into some experimental ambient textures in “Light.” While not fully developing a jam out after the composed section, the band did build a dark and abstract sound sculpture than extended well beyond the normal song structure.

Now Phish will take an uncharacteristic four-day break before playing again Friday in Atlantic City. Enjoy the week and see you there for the continuation what looks to be a very promising tour! See you on the road…

I: Down With Disease, Funky Bitch, The Moma Dance, Sample in a Jar, Axilla, The Gambler*, Possum, Wilson, Tweezer > Free, Backwards Down the Number Line, Cavern, 

II: Golden Age > Also Sprach Zarathustra > Chalk Dust Torture, Carini -> Shafty > Rock and Roll, Alaska, Harry Hood -> Light > Character Zero, Rocky Top 

E: Show of Life, Julius, Tweezer Reprise

* w/ Kenny Rogers

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Elaborate Evolution

Posted in Uncategorized with the tags , on June 9th, 2012 by Mr.Miner

Worcester 2012 (Masthay)

Everything sounds different now. Whatever took place during the off-season has resulted Phish has coming out of the gates in 2012 with a renewed intent to do things differently than they have in the past few years. At every musical fork in the road, the band is choosing the path less traveled—and that has made all the difference. Examples of this were strewn throughout the show—in both sets—and it made for power-packed night of adventure. From the first “Roses Are Free” jam in 12 years—and only the third of all-time—to the slowed down 180 degree polar opposite take on “Bathtub Gin,” the band set a precedent in the first set of the show that fulfilled Trey “Kill Devil Falls” lyrical prophecy—“This time it’s gonna” be different.” And from the first two nights of tour, its sure looks like that will be the theme Summer 2012.

One of the most profound diversions of last night show was the re-emergence of the first set. We’ve been waiting for this to happen for most of this era, and perhaps last night’s opening half could be a sign of things to come. Using both sets equally last night, the show elevated right off the bat as Phish promptly moved from the end of “Roses Are Free” into a compelling and exalting jam in only the third song of the show! Trey began soloing over a sparse and nuanced pocket in a tone reminiscent of the Cypress version, as the band set sail on a jam that has little to no precedence. Anchored by a sublime four-piece conversation, the band moved fluidly through one of the most spectacular jams of the night, and one of the moments so many fans have been waiting for since the dawning of a new millennium. Weaving totally original music on the spot, mere minutes into the show, it was clear that the re-energized and revitalized band we saw in Thursday’s tour opener is here to stay.

6.4.11 (M.Stein)

Following a fourth-song landing pad (!) in “Theme,” the string of “Axilla,” “Julius, “ and “Bouncin” kept the energy high for the heavy end of set couplet—“Maze” and “Bathtub Gin.” “Maze” featured some of the most ferocious Page and Trey interplay of the night as Trey comped Page’s outstanding organ solo with hard-edged, atonal offerings. And then it was Big Red’s turn to take center stage. With a fiery solo that illustrated a finger dexterity of lore, Trey assumed the role of guitar assassin in “Maze”—and throughout the show—in a way that he didn’t on night one. He was on fire all night and it not only reflected in the jams, but also in song choice as everything seemed hand selected for Trey to really expound on his six-string theatrics—but it all happened naturally. Not one element of the last two nights has seemed forced or thoughtless at all, and that—in itself—is a huge change for the better.

The band continued their inventive takes on old songs with a “Bathtub Gin” that was different than any in this era. Favoring a slow and rootsier cadence, with a heavy, wobbly bass—similar in feel to last night’s “Ocelot”—the band moved away from the upbeat and linear versions that have been so prevalent in 3.0. And by stepping back and allowing the music to breathe, they created a whole new dynamic in a jam that had turned fairly stale over the past couple years. Slowly climbing out of the initial gooey textures, the band was actually able to reach a far more effective peak than they would have if they had headed straight for the top. Trey and Mike stood out in this “Gin,” as the two guitarists’ interplay anchored the atypical experiment. Finally reaching a furious pace, Trey’s solo led a chugging and cohesive band to the peak of the jam, and the end of a spectacular opening frame.

5.28.11 (M. Messenbourg)

While the second set didn’t necessarily contain the impeccable fluidity of the Thursday’s main event, the playing throughout was no less spectacular. Sidestepping the twenty-pound “Tweezer” sitting in the room, the band launched into the second set with one of their most consistently creative jams of this era, “Down With Disease,” and this version would be yet another notch in the song’s belt. At risk of sounding repetitive, the most exciting fact of this extended jaunt was how the band allowed things to ebb and flow naturally; the contours of song never once felt predestined. Allowing their improvisational chops to do the work instead of their thinking minds, the resulting music was surreal. Exiting the composed jam, the band opened the piece into an equitable three-piece conversation backed by some of the smoothest break-beats you’ll hear Fishman play. Truly a jam that equaled more than the sum of its parts, the band concluded this sequence with with Floydian denouement that—if I had my druthers—would have continued for quite some time. But as the jam came to a close, Trey brought in the opening riff of “Sand”—and this would be a spectacle to behold.

6.18.11 (J. Crouch)

When my buddies and I looked at the Live Phish app after the show last night and saw that “Sand” was listed at 8 minutes and twenty seconds, we at first considered if it was a typo. But upon listen back, it just may be the most densely packed groove leviathan to ever see the light of day. At points within I was so overtaken by what was blaring from the speakers I felt like I could hardly dance. If you are ever in major withdrawl from straight up Phish crack, mainline this “Sand” and you will be taken off to never, never land. Crystallizing all that was right about the groove era and moving beyond it with modern accoutrements, the band let things hang out in a dance jam like none other in recent memory. When Trey infused a “plinko” melody into the already textured-funk, the roof blew off the The Centrum for the second straight night.  Soon, taking a melody he had played earlier in the jam, Trey led the band away from the darker textures and actually moved fluidly—in a WTF? move—from “Sand” into the bluegrass stylings of “Nellie Kane.” And they somehow pulled it off without missing a beat.

6.3.11 (M.Stein)

The heavy-handed groove would continue, as the band fit a smoking, though succinct “Mike’s Groove” in the middle of the set with a dubbed out “Makisupa” interlude. On point and hard-nosed playing, though nothing outlandish, characterized this mid-set sequence that was back-weighted in “Weekpaug.” It seemed that the band had time for final set closer, but instead of going for a larger song, they chose to bust back into the groove-based theme of the set in a scorching “2001.” And what a great decision it was, as the band finally put some balls behind the usually compact funk instrumental. The opening half of the song featured more laid back Trey, while in the second half, he got on top of things with a swagger. First using swanky rhythm chops and then moving into jazz-fusion leads, he painted the uber-infectious dancescape multiple shades of red. Following the final helping of funk, the boys headed for home with “Character Zero.” And keeping it fresh until the very end, “Zero” even featured an uncharacteristically grimey breakdown.

After only two shows, Phish has set the bar quite high for Summer 2012, and right now the sky is the limit with the fluidity and one-minded playing on display in Worcester. As the band heads down for a show at Bonnaroo and then back up to AC next weekend, this summer is just getting started. Be it the Mayan mythology of new beginnings and spiritual evolution, Phish seems to be locked into the themes of the ancient calendar as we evolve—as a community—into Phish 2012.

I: Free, Kill Devil Falls, Roses Are Free > Theme From the Bottom > Axilla, Julius, Bouncing Around the Room,Maze, Bathtub Gin

II: Down with Disease > Sand -> Nellie Kane, Mike’s Song > Makisupa Policeman > Weekapaug Groove, Wading in the Velvet Sea, Also Sprach Zarathustra > Character Zero

E: The Oh Kee Pa Ceremony > Suzy Greenberg

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A New Flow

Posted in Uncategorized with the tags , , on June 8th, 2012 by Mr.Miner

Official Worcester Print (Vogl)

Far surpassing anyone’s wildest fantasies, Phish came out on the first night of Summer Tour with a show laced with divine interplay throughout. With two sets of incredibly fresh sounding music—and a second steeped in non-stop improvisation on the deepest planes, Phish blew the minds of many on their first night in Worcester. The patience and fluidity that characterized the band’s single-minded playing last night—specifically in the second set—is the stuff I long for at every single show, and IT is what fuels this entire scene. People can debate Phish music until the cows come home, but when the band drops a show like they did last night, everyone just looks at each other, smiles and understands. This is why we come.

As the crunching chords of “Carini” set off the second frame, few could possibly have predicted the path of what has to be considered one of the greatest start-to-finish sets of this era. Clearly practiced and ready to make a statement, there was no ambivalence when the “Carini’s” jam started; the band got right to work attacking and deconstructing the song with a laser-focused intent. Moving distinctly away from the major-keyed “Carini” jams of the past two years, Phish  flowed into dark and ominous waters that immediately started to speak to the soul. Continuing down this mystery-laden path, soon the band was effortlessly crafting some of the most beautifully deranged music we’ve heard in ages. And as the jam seeped into more layered and and murkier territory, Fishman moved to a cymbal-focused beat and seamlessly blossomed into a “My Left Toe” jam for the first time since 1999! With a refined skill set and locked into higher powers last night, Phish bled right into the powerful and improvisation-based instrumental. Taking the ambient piece into a cathartic, ultra-melodic and densely-layered ode to all that is, one must simply take this piece in to believe it. Upon my only re-listen to this point, I was equally—if not more floored—with what I heard than at the show. This is the real deal. As the band artistically dripped into “Taste” I turned to my closest friend and gave her a big hug, because “Carini -> My Left Toe” is why I love Phish. These were the deepest and most spiritual moments of music that I have heard since the Gorge last year, and far more so than any music since. And the band was far from done…

12.5.09 (J.Thomas)

Giving “Taste” a rare second set spotlight, the band absolutely tore the piece to shreds. As they set sail into the jam, Trey eased into a completely natural tease of “Norwegian Wood,” a subtle nod to the similarity of the two melodies. “Taste” only really blows up when the band applies their undivided attention to the song, and coming out of this primordial music, that is exactly what they did, and the song shone in stylistic juxtaposition to all that had come before. And just when one thought the first action-packed segment of the show was ending, the band took about a minute to ease into the most outlandishly smooth “Ghost” intro in memory. While the few quality “Ghosts” of this era have all been very groove-directed, last night’s version was a totally different take on the song. Trey laid way back as the band passed into their crowd favorite, and before long, the crowd could barely recognize what was happening.

12-30-2010—MSG (Graham Lucas)

It has been ages since the Phish used “Ghost” as a jumping off point to real improv—not the guitar-led scorcher of 12.31.10, not the complex grooves of 6.17.11—real, out-of-the-box improvisation. Throughout this mind-bending monster, the band smoothly moved between ideas, as Trey and Mike played off each other like Siamese twins. I cannot stress how unique this version was, really taking many elements and sounds of “Ghost” and putting them together in a totally inventive way. Trey laid way back throughout most of the jam, allowing both Mike and Page to step up at different times and take the music in fundamentally different directions. Never at any point in the jam did the guys fall back on cliché “Ghost” material, but continually pushed forward with astounding communication and interplay. Phish allowed the jam to live and breathe naturally, never forcing it in any one direction—a quality that underlined the entire show.

And just when you thought the band was gonna’ finally calm down with as Mike initiated an envelope-filtered move into “Boogie On,” the guys turned the party out with—easily— the most energetic jam of the night. Taking the usually innocuous filler song, the band exploded with spontaneity, bubbling with Gordeaux bombs, MVP guitar licks, and perfect Page accompaniment. The place absolutely exploded as the band wouldn’t relent with power grooves, crushing the most indelible communal-energy highlight of the night. This final portion of this jam saw Trey tease of Denver’s “Guy Forget” jam before flowing into a denouement that placidly landed the band in “If I Could.”

(Shelly Siegel)

If emotions were worth their weight in gold, this song would certainly have been one of the heaviest parts of the night. Fit perfectly in a set filled with musical madness of all shapes and sizes, “If I Could” provided a still oasis of beauty. Played with such patience and feeling by each and every member, this passage remains one of the most heartfelt of the night—easily.

As the band dropped into “Quinn The Eskimo” coupled with the fresh feeling of the show, it seemed like they might close the set with a rousing rendition of the Dylan classic. But instead of ending there, the band took one last dive into “Harry Hood” to the delight of all. At the end of an awe-inspiring evening, Phish let things flow into a cerebral, mellower-than-usual “Hood” that seemed to fit just right. Taking the song’s final note and crashing into “Cavern,” Phish looked to cap the frame with the short set-closer, but when they reached the song’ final sustain, Trey brought the show full circle by bursting into a “Buried Alive,” the song with which the whole night got rolling!

Though the transcendence of the summer’s tour opener was focused in the second set, the first set was also quite good. Right out of the gates, the band sounded on point, peppering the first set with fresh song choices, crisp playing, and a couple pieces that could foreshadow things to come. Opening the show with an old-school one-two punch of “Buried Alive” and “Runaway Jim,” the show immediately harnessed the vibe of New England shows of lore. But the old-school feel wouldn’t last, much to the delight of fans looking for a spiced up rotation with new material. “Nothing”—played for the first time since Camden 2010—was reworked with an outro that seems primed for summertime exploration. Additionally, the band brought back Page’s “Beauty of a Broken Heart,” a song that will hopefully break into regular rotation this tour. The always welcome “Torn and Frayed” stood out as well, as did above average versions of “Ocelot”—in which the band began to earnestly jam within the song’s tempo—and the quite possibly the most interesting version of “Possum” I’ve heard this era! Yup, when even “Possum” is a highlight, it was a good night. And last night was simply phenomenal.

I: Buried Alive > Runaway JimTorn and Frayed, Funky Bitch, The Moma Dance, Rift, Nothing, Ocelot, Beauty of a Broken Heart, Possum, Rocky Top

II: Carini* -> Taste, Ghost > Boogie On Reggae Woman > If I Could, Quinn the Eskimo > Harry Hood > Cavern > Buried Alive

E: Loving Cup   (*w/ “My Left Toe” jam)

 

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3…2…1…

Posted in Uncategorized with the tags , on June 7th, 2012 by Mr.Miner

12.5.2009 (Graham Lucas)

After a long cross-country commute, I have finally plopped down a hundred yards from Worcetser’s DCU Center—the long off-season is about to come to an end. The band has been here rehearsing since the beginning of the week on the heels of extensive practice sessions behind closed doors, and i f I had to guess, the guys will be raring to go tonight. With all of summer ahead of them, in mere hours, Phish will take the first step—and an important step it will be. Here we are in the first week of June and the entire community is salivating for new music. If my own listening patterns were in any way indicative of the whole, those MSG shows haven’t seen the light of day on many stereos, as New Years Run didn’t give us that warm boost of Phishiness in the dark days of winter to which we are so accustomed. Labor Day weekend at Dick’s seems like a former lifetime as we sit on the brink of the tomorrow’s tour opener, as the excitement has been building for almost a year. With plenty of time to frolic in the lots and amphitheatres of summer, there’s nothing quite like kicking off tour in a grimy old arena with a rich Phish legacy.

I would wager big money that tonight’s show will elevate. Phish knows the situation, and I foresee them coming out with a two-set effort to knock the socks off the New England audience. Could I be wrong? Of course, but I just don’t see them coming out flat tonight. With a rabid Bostonian crowd who will clearly infuse Celtics chants into the show experience, the energy in the room will be sky high for a number of reasons. But first and foremost, the Phish are back in town and it’s time to step into the muthafahkin’ freezaaaaah!!!

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“No Spoiler” Downloads—Summer 2012

This summer, thanks to mastermind, Craig Harris, Phish Thoughts’ Free No Spoiler Downloads will continue! If you have the ability to stay away from Phish sites during any show this summer, you’ll be able to live the unfolding experience as it happened. Each set will be downloadable with in a single, unlabled file, so that you can just press play and let it roll. The ETA of the download links will vary according to show locale, but we will always shoot for around 12 pm MST.

 

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CrowdsEye: A New Way to Share Memories

Posted in Uncategorized with the tags , , on June 5th, 2012 by Mr.Miner

(Photo: Shelly Siegel)

Phish tour is filled with adventure and madness of all shapes and sizes. Think of all the crazy things that you’ve seen and experienced during your show-going adventures, and now imagine if you could actually see and read about some of these twisted moments that others have experienced as well? This is the crux of CrowdsEye, a new website that hosts digital scavenger hunts of live music events. Having already conducted unoffical competitions for SXSW’s Screenburn, Coachella, and Lightning in a Bottle, Crowdseye will be an official sponsor of Sonic Bloom, Denver Comic Con, and Electric Forest. And on Wednesday, the Los Angeles based company will launch The Phish Tour Challenge.

Here is an explanation of how the site works from the company’s co-founder and resident Phish head, Andy Magnes:

12.31.11 (Shelly Siegel)

CrowdsEye was created as a digital scavenger hunt for live events, where you can submit photos, stories, and reviews based on categories determined before each event. Once fans vote on the best content, the most popular submissions receive points. Whoever has the most points in the end wins. (A full description of the point system can be found on the CrowdsEye FAQ).

We, essentially, built CrowdsEye for ourselves and our friends. We needed a place to channel the excitement and energy felt after a concert or other live event. A place where people shared based on similar interests rather than friend-based social networking. A site where you could visit after the show to see all the photos, hear all the stories, and read all the fan reviews. A place where the best content rose to the top and you could sort by popularity, category, etc. A place where up-and-coming writers could get discovered by other fans (this summer, top Phish reviews will have a chance to be published on Headstash Magazine). Last, we wanted to create a place for the regular fan to be able to tell their story. Unfortunately, some of these amazing stories—miracle tickets, avoiding arrest, tales from the road—never make it past a circle of friends. We hope that the best stories will rise to the top on CrowdsEye and reach a much wider audience.

(Shelly Siegel)

Our Phish Summer Tour Challenge begins on Wednesday, June 6th and voting lasts until Sunday, September 16th. Although many will be playing to win, everyone is invited to browse around and check out what’s happening on tour from the eyes of the fans. CrowdsEye is a free service, and we hope to reward our users with prizes that fans really appreciate. We’ve already seen, read, and heard such amazing things from fans whose creativity would never have reached us otherwise. The community atmosphere and boundless creativity that has come to define the Phish family is exactly what CrowdsEye was created for. We can’t wait to see what will be posted on the upcoming summer tour!”

For now, sign up and browse the contests that currently have content and preview the categories for The Phish Tour Challenge! The contest will officially start Wednesday when YOU begin uploading YOUR photos, stories, and reviews!

1st prize = 4 tickets to any 2 future shows (not NYE), a Summer 2012 AJ Masthay triptych, and a signed copy of Mr. Miner’s Phish Thoughts.

SuperBall IX (Shelly Siegel)

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Jam of the Day:

Stash -> Free” 11.30.97 II, Worcester, MA

A dirty piece of Centrum history from the Bunny Archives. Two more days…

[audio:http://phishthoughts.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/ph_FTA_2011-07-01b_11_stash.mp3,http://phishthoughts.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/ph_FTA_2011-07-01b_12_free.mp3]

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