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. Mr palmer Says:

    A kid did that to me the other night also, Bingos, during Joy.

    I told him my kids name is Joy..I lied, but had the right effect.

    Re: webcasts- I’m with Sumo. Interesting theory , but baseless.. See Dick’s

  2. Dr Pronoia Says:

    For his part Palmer was a great sport about it 🙂

  3. MiA Says:

    The webcast effect is like the HIggs God Particle. We aren’t sure if it exists, but we have shadows to say something happened that might point back to it’s existence. But more data would be good to have to try to correlate to a causation.

    We will not truly know until every who is webcast, and Phish explodes into a billion tiny pieces.

  4. MiA Says:

    every one is webcast …

  5. Phamily Berzerker Says:


  6. MiA Says:

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

    I don’t think that is true.


    IMO, they are scientists and want to study this thing forever, but need to show some sort of “accomplishment” other than a bunch of notebooks and chalkboards and arguing. I think the “accomplishment” is political right now, during a question of funding in the future.

    Like the DEA making a big drug bust right before they ask for more money for drones and wire taps and helicopters.


  7. snow Says:

    A documentary about a friends wolf work will be on the discovery channel this weekend.

    Check it out:

    (I just wanted to post that so you know how cool my friends in real life are.)

  8. BingosBrother Says:

    Hate to see what your uncool friends are into. 😉

  9. BingosBrother Says:

    Skin IT Back was dope as hell. Cool to see a bustout like that, that actually is not only played well, but given the treatment. SPAC gonna get a 15 minute Spocks Brain.

  10. snow Says:

    I think @MrC is right there @MiA.

    They are saying there is a good 3 or 4 years of study to be done with the initial data. That will revolve around making sense of everything observed, not just observations they think are the Higgs boson.

    It’s more like the big drug bust was made and now they need to follow up on all of the leads generated by capturing the guys. Including confirming who it is that they captured.


    The thing is: these are good people that are trying to find out what is going on. the challenge is that there is no logical conclusion to trying to understand the nature of the universe so there will always be things to study. It’s good for humanity because it reminds us how little we act understand about what it is that is going on.

    So it’s not as practical as cancer research, but somehow makes it worth curing cancer.

  11. snow Says:

    *act = actually

  12. tela'smuff Says:

    done with Blossom. as fun as I remember. had a great time with that second set.

    onto DC1. this first set is near perfect. love it. reminds me of DC in ’96.

  13. MrCompletely Says:

    what do you mean, “Source” ? read the reporting…the scientific reporting I mean

    i think if you think it’s all a sham the burden of proof falls on you, since that is pure conspiracy theory stuff IMO

    Perhaps you don’t realize how many rivals are waiting to pick this result apart. if there are flaws in the experiment or in the interpretation they will definitely be found, and soon. You can’t bullshit something this big. If a team came out with an announcement like this and it turns out bogus its career over for everyone involved, period. And right now, all the rivals and skeptics are digging through the data and the math for flaws…

    certainly it could turn out to be wrong or premature, but the idea that it’s basically a stunt is not a well considered one IMO

    The funding argument makes no sense. this is the signature achievement that the LHC was funded for (though there’s plenty more to do with it, such as probing for possible dark matter particles). so if they achieve that goal, won’t their argument for continued funding be harder to make?

  14. MrCompletely Says:

    keep in mind I am seriously seriously SERIOUSLY braindead today if nothing I just wrote makes any sense

  15. MrCompletely Says:

    an analogy between scientists and cops just sets me off though

    cops are a bunch of lying-ass sacks of shit for the most part

    scientists are human beings but most of them are after the truth above all….and those that aren’t are never the smartest ones.

  16. Mr palmer Says:

    Spocks and Izabella both soundchecked at JB night one.

  17. plord Says:

    Just so we are clear.

    The Higgs result is “5 sigma”.

    5 sigma, in statistics, means, 99.9999% certainty, or precisely one in a million chance that they are wrong. The uncertainty is in the 5th sigma, the fifth position to the right of the decimal.

    This is an upgrade from the prior results, which were 3 sigma, which might seem pretty good to you (99.99% certain) but for Physicists means “looks good but more testing is needed.”

    The Higgs research has little to do with future funding; *they already built the LHC*. Running the thing, both politically and economically, is mouse balls compared to the upfront challenge of getting funding to build thei thing in the first place. Look at what happened to the SSC in Texas.

  18. MrCompletely Says:

    yeah I was trying to avoid getting into the whole sigma thing. but that’s what it comes down to. and that’s the math they’ve been re-checking, all down the calculation path from the original datasets to the statistical analysis which results in the 5-sig stamp of approval

  19. sumodie Says:

    Every show is officially filmed, so who cares if for some shows the video feed is live?

    MSG11 clearly suffered from lack of practice, webcast irrelevant
    MSG10 -last 2 nites featured some of the hottest playing all year
    Tahoe1 – Light & more
    Dicksx3 – duh
    Tahoe2 & JB1 – also good shows even with lesser moments (jb1 ’12 def better than tahoe2 ’11)

    what does that leave?
    Ports1&2 – tight well played energy nites
    alpharetta1&2 – 1 nite killed by weather
    mpp10 1&2…?
    other webcasts…?

    Webcast effect is imaginary

  20. MrCompletely Says:

    i haven’t heard of a single major funding dispute about continuing the LHC experiments at all, now that you mention it

    basically at this point it takes electricity, spare parts, cpu cycles and a bunch of nerd salaries

  21. MrCompletely Says:

    @sumo has demonstrated at least a 3-sigma result showing lack of correlation….not good enough for the global science community perhaps, but I’ll accept his hypothesis as provisionally proven

  22. sumodie Says:

    What was the first official 3.0 webcast?

  23. snow Says:

    much better arguments @C and @plord.

    And I totally agree with C that physicists do not deserve to mentioned in any context related to cops. I mean this with all due respect MIA, but that is some crazy fox news shit there.

  24. Phamily Berzerker Says:

    Yes, C. Need we remind you that you are but just one of the governing committee.

  25. MrCompletely Says:

    I’m only speaking for the funding agencies I represent, @pham

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