Where Were The Fireworks?

7.4.2012 (Dan Lewis)

Traditionally a band who steps up to big occasions and knocks it out of the park, Phish, instead, plowed through 33 songs, most in painfully standard fashion, in what amounted to one long first set for the 4th of July. A centerpiece sequence of “Tweezer -> Twist” provided the single chunk of undeniably timeless music for the night, but other than a scorching jam out of “Susskind Hotel” in the first set and a few notable bust outs, there was little meat to a show that looked primed to blow up on a holiday known for explosives. When I saw signs on the highway that declared “No fireworks display at Jones Beach” driving in, I didn’t realize they were referring to the concert too. Though everything was played with energy and all that, in comparison to the many shows of summer, Phish’s holiday installment couldn’t hold a candle.

A marathon opening set contained yet another Velvet Undergound cut off Loaded—the fifth in six shows—this time “Head Held High.” Unplayed since Vegas ’98, the references to the band’s illustrious Halloween legacy continued with an enthusiastic take on the upbeat tune. Then, a real treat came in a clean version of the incredibly rare “Man Who Stepped Into Yesterday -> Avenu Malkenu -> TMWSIY.” A quality “Bowie” felt like the set closer, but the band still had a while to go, including the jam of the first half in Mike’s “Susskind Hotel.” Bursting into a chugging groove, the band redefined the possibilities for the piece with a torrid conversation that popped from the stage. The band brought out The Greasy Troll for an early-show slot, taking “Purple Rain” off the shelf complete with “tucking” antics to the delight of most fans. Closing the 18-song opening half with the “Star Spangled Banner” the band has set the stage for a more improvisationaly based second set—but it never happened.

7.4.2012 (D.Lewis)

To Phish’s credit, they really had something going through “Taste,” but the set really just fell to shambles after that. To say it fizzled would be a gargantuan understatement. But first, let’s get to the centerpiece of the show—“Tweezer > Twist.” Upon splashdown in “Tweezer’s” jam, Trey stepped right into a guitar solo, leading the band through a fairly generic build, and it looked like we might get hit with a straight rocker. After peaking the build, however, the band settled into a darkening, minimalist soundscape. Trey unleashed growls behind Page’s laser synths and a delicate, ethereal pocket. Trey then began to drop the sounds of the universe behind this experiment, as Page comped this witches brew with juxtaposed keyboard melodies of beauty. Transforming into a storage-esque sequence, the band seemed primed to go deeper when Trey turned into “Twist.” And here would unfold the true gem of the show.

7.4.2012 (D.Lewis)

If the demonic “Twist” from Riverbend had an angelic, twin brother, this jam would most definitely be his other half. Diametrically different than Cincinnati;s descent into Hades, this jam would liken an ascent into heaven. Blending into a four-headed melodic mind-meld, the band spun a stunning tale of majesty. Defining an “amoeba” jam, where nobody is necessarily leading but all are collectively pushing the music, this “Twist” reached hugely cathartic realms of sound and harmony, spinning the audience—gently—into far off galaxies. This music felt like it could have continued with its own motion for an eternity, but at some point Trey decided to move on to “Taste.” Using the polyrhythmic composition as a landing pad for the “Tweezer > Twist,” “Taste” was a fine rendition in its own right, and I was right there with them at this juncture of the set. But when Trey decided to next play “Quinn the Eskimo” in the middle of frame, it wasn’t a good sign.

The following hour plus of music would contain only several interesting minutes in “Harry Hood,” where a delicate and thrilling take on the song passed through the calypso chord progression of the famous Gorge “Light” of ’09.  But sandwiched in the midst a bunch of standard—not to mention unthinkably mellow—songs, the effect of a gorgeous “Hood” was somewhat lost in the fray. After straightforward takes on “Julius” and “Rock and Roll,” the band seemed to be recording a Phish lullaby album.  As the band strung together “Horse -> Silent,” “Hood,” Shine a Light,” “Show of Life,” and “Slave,” watching the three teenage kids next to me try to stay awake through the show was just as entertaining as any of its music. Honestly, I’m not sure what the band was thinking by combining four mellow set closers in a row, because each of them became less and less powerful as they unfolded to the point where it felt like a bad Phish-based SNL skit.

7.4.2012 (D.Lewis)

The encore of “Sleeping Monkey > Reprise” is the quintessential encore to follow a mind-expanding set of music, but when the band rolled into their classic pairing, it seemed wholly out of place last night. Interestingly, most of my friends really liked this show, and after listening back, I’m still trying to figure out what, exactly, I missed. “Tweezer -> Twist” and “Susskind” were certainly on the level, but everything else, less “Hood,” was completely standard in every way, and in a three plus hour show, that’s a lot of dead time. Diff’rent strokes for diff’rent folks, I guess.

In the context of a spectacular tour, these past two Jones Beach shows felt a bit underwhelming. Coming off seven Midwest shows of magic, of which only two trailed off significantly, these spotty shows on Long Island didn’t feel up to snuff. When playing 30 songs, there is only so much room to jam, and while Phish definitely took advantage of a couple opportunities, the show felt incredibly thin, especially considering the occasion. As we head up to SPAC for the final three shows of Leg One, I’d expect a bit more to go down in the woods of Saratoga than we saw on the beach of Long Island.

I: Alumni Blues* > Letter to Jimmy Page > Alumni Blues, Head Held High, The Man Who Stepped Into Yesterday > Avenu Malkenu > The Man Who Stepped Into Yesterday, Kill Devil Falls, Bittersweet Motel, The Moma Dance, Gumbo, David Bowie, Alaska, Susskind Hotel, Hold Your Head Up > Purple Rain > Hold Your Head Up, The Star Spangled Banner

II: Boogie On Reggae Woman, Tweezer > Twist > Taste, Quinn the Eskimo,  Julius, Rock and Roll > The Horse > Silent in the Morning, Harry Hood, Shine a Light, Show of Life, Slave to the Traffic Light

E: Sleeping Monkey > Tweezer Reprise

* w/ Dave’s Energy Guide tease to open the show
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508 Responses to “Where Were The Fireworks?”

  1. MiA Says:

    The Center was golden. I moved there for a little.

    But then … Julia and Sophia weren’t dancing around us anymore.

    I mean, does one really care how good is sounds during a Meatstick?

  2. Cable Hogue Says:

    So, if the pattern holds, we’re due to hear something unusual from “Quadrophenia” this weekend….The Real Me, maybe?

  3. gavinsdad Says:

    lots of Floyd-esque textures dropped into the 2nd set of JB1 (see GAge)

  4. Shawn Johnson Says:

    Sometimes I think you are one ungrateful TUCKER!!!!

  5. gavinsdad Says:

    sorry for sidetracking….can someone please point me in the direction of the 1982 “calling rastafari” album? so sick….someone just sent me a youtube of the wailing souls “harbor shark”….we listened to this album in college ON BLAST!!

  6. Phamily Berzerker Says:

    Ron Brugundy Approves


  7. robear Says:

    cable……man that would be awesome.

  8. BingosBrother Says:

    Yo, who can drop me a list of must hear jams thus far? Thanks in advance.

  9. BingosBrother Says:

    Regarding webcasts, its cool of them to do them, but shows are for the people in the building. For other bands, oyu may get everything thats happening through the screen, but not even close for them. 1 example. Opening chords of Let IT Loose and it feels like my soul has been suckerpunched and I don’t even know that song. 5 seconds later, best friend and crew that I’ve been looking for for hours wrap me up in a big ol hug. Can’t webcast that shit.

  10. MrCompletely Says:

    @gp420 – if that’s a serious question about the Higgs the answer is “probably”

    they’ve definitely found a new boson (force carrier particle) or at least that part very likely to hold up

    it’s in the right mass range to be the Higgs and there’s no theoretical reason for there to be anything else there

    so if it turns out not to be the Higgs that will be pretty surprising

    News orgs have a hard time covering real science because scientists don’t like using the word “is” unless they are a billion percent sure. This is an experimental result with high statistical probability of being accurate, that matches a theoretical prediction.

  11. Dr Pronoia Says:

    Agree fully, bodhi

    Whether the webcasts have an effect on the band I don’t know but they sure as hell have one on the BB. The jade to fluff ratio swings wildly out of balance

    Added another 6-7 highlights to the huge list so far over a holiday NYC 2fer

    I would’ve driven twice as far for the sandy GA alone

    AW you’re gonna come around on that sequence I suspect

  12. GhostPhunk Says:

    @C Unless 420 also asked… yes it was a serious question. There was chatter yesterday and again today that left me bewildered on what the community at large was saying.

  13. GhostPhunk Says:

    either way, exciting IMO

  14. BingosBrother Says:

    Highlights from the Beach DP? Stories?

  15. MrCompletely Says:

    oh sorry I mixed up my GPs

    I am a total space case today

    did that help at all?

    basically the weirdness in coverage is the tension between scientists who are all being super careful to not say too much or state any conclusion too broadly without a bunch of caveats, and the reporters who are trying to condense it down to bite size nuggets

    to bottom-line it, this experimental result could be fairly taken as something like 95 to 99% confirming the existence of the Higgs field and boson in more or less their theoretically predicted forms

    the result itself could be found to be wrong, or particle and field could turn out to be other than Higgs related, but either one would be very surprising now

  16. Phamily Berzerker Says:

    Not as surprising as this….

  17. GhostPhunk Says:

    @C – Yeah I get it.

    I guess I was confused by having heard about this since the LHC was in production to then last week seeing articles saying “we’re close”, to then last night and today basically confirming the theory more or less with varying opinions and statements in different outlets.

    Not being on the up and up to that level on the subject had me all “wtf are we saying here?” to a point. I guess I don’t understand how in the span of week we’re ready to say it… usually “we’re close” translates to “in the years to come”.

  18. sumodie Says:

    There is no webcast effect, such a bunk webz creation

  19. BingosBrother Says:

    Mike destroyed the God Particle w/ his ICE-9.

    Obviously this place of all places knows webcasts aren’t close to the real thing. Sorry if it came across that way. Glad people like C and Rob can participate in some way in case they can’t make it. It is a very special environment right now for whatever reason. Never even saw an argument at both AV shows which is amazing to me. Although I did almost crack the kid who told me Trey just buttfucked the set by playing Joy on Sunday. Instead I told him I love Joy.

  20. snow Says:

    I was worrying about the overall effect of the webcasts last night. I was wondering at what point they might start deterring from my enjoyment of the real thing. I have yet to go to a show that is webcast. I wonder if it would weigh on my mind during a show. But mostly I worry that couch tour will make seeing the band kind of pedestrian.

    At least, at this point, they are not overdoing it to the point that it feels like they happen all of the time.

  21. snow Says:

    My preference: get rid of the video and just stream the music!

  22. MrCompletely Says:

    maybe the set likes it that way

    some sets just need a little first chakra massage amirite?

  23. Dr Pronoia Says:

    Yeah bingos but the all nighters the past few night has me at a 70 IQ

    Most relate to the really big hearted enthusiastic mature people around me both nights, some with older kids in tow

    Oh and the catatonic wook slumped in his seat next to me last night during set 2. His slump was so menacing somehow that I was afraid he’d bath salt me. So I had to basically grind on Palmer for lack of room

  24. MrCompletely Says:

    @GP in this case “we’re close” meant “the results are in hand but we’re quintuple checking the incredibly complex math”

  25. GhostPhunk Says:

    are we talking muludhara now? This place keeps me on my toes

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