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. Phamily Berzerker Says:

    Couched Caveats and the Smokin Freebies in a battle of the bands!

  2. tela'smuff Says:

    then it’s settled. thanks Jtran! nice seeing you again by the way!

  3. MrCompletely Says:

    you keep saying cold fusion like that was a debate or was in doubt

    no serious person believed in cold fusion ever

    I don’t know what debate you’re talking about there. there wasn’t one. it was just the fact that it took a little while to convince the chumps they’d been fleeced.

  4. Phamily Berzerker Says:

    Let’s talk about our favorite Toto songs about continents. I’ll go first.

    Mine is Africa.

    What’s yours?

  5. Jtran Says:

    you too telas..did you do OK joe’s on the way back?

  6. MrCompletely Says:

    oh I see what you mean there, jsut the fact that the cold fusion people were delusional and/or good liars. but there’s a huge difference in the structure of the experiments, really no comparison

  7. Phamily Berzerker Says:

    Your mama is so fat that even if the Higgs-Boson particle DOESN’T exist, she still has mass.

  8. MrCompletely Says:

    of course old, outdated colliders get mothballed

    tevatron at Fermilab had doen its work and was not suited for the next generation of experiments

    there was nothing political about that really. it’s just about energy scales.

    there are a ton of non higgs related experiments lined up for the LHC after all this shakes out FWIW so I really think funding has just zero to do with it

    but I think i see your real point….more on that in a sec

  9. MrCompletely Says:

    just give us a minute here @pham, sorry

  10. tela'smuff Says:

    we did not. we left from the Chicago area so went through Iowa/Nebraska. We did stop at a pretty good place in Council Bluffs, NE that was pretty good.


  11. MiA Says:

    I said that it isn’t cold fusion. I think there was a lot of cynicism on cold fusion. But there were hundreds of millions of dollars invested by the Government in disproving that also. Some say that they were being pressed to “come up with something” so they did. Knowing that it would be discovered to be false, but you cross that bridge in the future.

    At 27 mins in the Cern broadcast, he basically says “Until we have both results and both have been checked out, it basically means nothing. It is unauthorized. We don’t know.”

    Why the 99.999% probability that they found Higgs Boson?

    Just doesn’t compute? Or, I should say, it doesn’t pass my sniff test.

  12. MrCompletely Says:

    “I am anti the media being used as chumps to propogate a headline that says “God Particle Discovered””

    man I get that. I hate that. that is bunk. but the science teams can’t control that.

    and even if they feed into it, that’s a human failing, not a scientific one.

    There is definitely a human factor here and I think it has to do basically with who gets the Nobels. Unless this result falls, those are coming. That’s obviously a huge deal and I’m sure it does color the way the data release is being handled.

    But, listen: there are a lot of scientists who are outside of the loop on this and are watching closely. For instance, noted string theory skeptic Peter Woit: http://www.math.columbia.edu/~woit/wordpress/ among several. No one seems to have anything but admiration for the results.

    I don’t care about the media circus, which is stupid and degrading. All I care about is, are the results good? And they seem to be. So far.

  13. Phamily Berzerker Says:

    I am a seeker. It is all good.

    When it is all said and done and agreed upon, the feasibility of painting a fart purple will prove to be just as difficult.

    Can we move on to supersymmetry?

  14. voopa Says:

    At some point yesterday the conversation turned to getting all spun at shows and doing “huge blackout windmills”…decided right then that my next band will be called Blackout Windmills.

  15. MiA Says:

    I do think funding has to do with it, but let’s not go down the rabbit hole on that. I agree that is 100% my cynical speculation that the HCL is looking to show “achivement” for what it does and why it should have the increased staff that it does.

    I work in a project based business as you probably do. All of our Engineers have to assign their time to project numbers, to justify their existence in our company. They need to be billable. They need projects that are funded, to keep their salaries.

    Even if LCH was 100% paid for, and all that was left was electricity and measly salaries (Like Fermilab was) they need funded projects from the scientific community to keep going. Just like NASA, and all other Government subsidized programs.

    The US is a huge contributor to those programs.

    Good numbers on what it takes to “run” the HCL.


  16. MiA Says:

    Oh yeah. AV Light is amazing.

  17. MrCompletely Says:

    yeah I misunderestimated your cold fusion point completely backwards sorry bout that

  18. MiA Says:


    Ultimately, the CMS team said it had identified a boson with a mass of 125.3 billion electron volts, about 100 times the mass of a proton. The Atlas team said it had seen a mass of 126 billion electron volts.

    Both observations are now at what researchers call the five-sigma level, which means that there is only about one chance in 3.5 million that the results are produced by chance.

    The five sigma level is that they found a Boson. That’s it. Not a Higgs Boson. Big difference I think

  19. MiA Says:

    misunderestimated is an awesome word. Well done.

  20. MrCompletely Says:

    I really think what it comes down to is that when two rival teams’ data analyze out to a combined 5-sigma result, you have to publish, period.

    No lead scientist would ever consider not publishing under those circumstances.

  21. MrCompletely Says:

    right, we’re in agreement that its not definitely the Higgs boson, I’ve been clear on that the whole time

    but it’s not an unreasonable assumption to proceed on

    as @plord pointed out, there’s no other boson in that mass/energy range that’s been predicted by any theory that fits in the standard model, and the higgs theory predicts it well

    but that is exactly why you’re hearing all the caveats! that, and because 99.9999% != 100%

  22. MrCompletely Says:

    so yes, honestly, on an emotional level I’m totally still rooting for it not to be a Standard Model higgs boson

    but that’s by far the most likely explanation

  23. MrCompletely Says:

    when the Peter Woits and Lee Smolins of the world start calling shenanigans on the results, I’m putting my skeptic hat on – the fact that this isn’t happening means as much to me as anything, and more than the announced results themselves

  24. Phamily Berzerker Says:

    125,300,000,000 electron volts
    126,000,000,000 electron volts

    700 million delta

    Chebychev Smiles…

    This place is awesome!

  25. MiA Says:

    They should and did publish they have a high probability they produced a Boson.

    Everything after that statement, IMO, is just cheerleading on what in the world it may be. Could be a guage Boson. They whisper “Higgs” or Scalar in there to get people really excited but let’s wait until we know a lot lot more. There is a lot of research now that we have a Boson and data.

    I think the word “Higgs” in here is entirely premature is my statement.

    We will find out in 3-5 years probably.

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