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. tela'smuff Says:

    i can safely say i’ve never rooted for, or against, a jason. in any form.

    have i pimped wet wipe usage? yes, yes i have.

  2. Phamily Berzerker Says:

    “We will find out in 3-5 years probably.”
    Too bad we only have until December 21st! 😉

  3. DaNcInG fOoL Says:

    Wtf are you guys talking about

  4. tela'smuff Says:

    a bason. f’in spell check. if i can’t figure out how to fix that, how can i comprehend particle theory?

  5. MiA Says:

    Wait, are you saying because of the weight, you think it’s specifically a scalar Higgs Boson? I haven’t heard that correlation before. Maybe that’s what I’m missing.

    You can just tell by the weight that it is a Scalar Higgs Boson?

  6. MiA Says:

    I cheer for Bassoons. In Imaginary Orchestras.

  7. voopa Says:

    Blackout Windmills.

  8. DaNcInG fOoL Says:

    DC1 best total first set this tour, yes

  9. MrCompletely Says:

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

    I suppose that’s the crux of the disagreement. I don’t think it is premature to say that the thing they’ve found fits the theoretical description of the Higgs, that it could be the Higgs, and that they don’t know anything else it could be besides the Higgs.

    Anyone saying it “is” the Higgs is certainly premature to say the least.

    Anyway, I certainly see your point…we just don’t agree on that one issue

  10. Phamily Berzerker Says:

    Why weigh on a sunny day?

  11. MiA Says:

    Onto Phish. That 14 mins of Light at AV. Amazing. It’s like time relativity in that Jam. That can’t possibly be 14 mins.

    Crosseyed > GBOTT is such a great run of music.

  12. viola Says:

    w0w, bosons…. all this from peeps who descended from shit throwing apes

    totally tubular dood

  13. MrCompletely Says:

    sorry I just hit the endpoint of the time I have sorry @MiA

  14. Phamily Berzerker Says:

    Mr Completely Disagreeing

    Punctuating the above sentence correctly.

  15. MrCompletely Says:

    @viola FWIW this is an absolutely typical BB digression – the standard ones are on science, finance, philosophy, and sadly occasionally politics

  16. Phamily Berzerker Says:

    ^some good points, some bad points…

  17. viola Says:

    civilized discussions…. that aren’t about getting caught masterbating…. wowzers, i might still have a chance at that thing my ex told me about, something about “growing up” ……. whatevs, time to poke smot again

    how about that avenu malkenu last night? great placement and execution. added to the highlight reel.

  18. tela'smuff Says:

    @MiA – totally. when i listen to the AV Light, i still can’t fathom how that happens in 14mins. i had the exact same thought that it seems like Phish somehow use some time of wormhole to change the meaning of time for the jam. incredible work.

    the DC McGrupp is a work of art. love the mini jam. The DC GBOTT was the second time i stopped and held my hands on my head in awe of the mindfuck that was unfolding. it starts at 6:38, soon followed by Space Whale. this may end up being one where seeing it live was all the better thanks to CK5.

  19. GhostPhunk Says:

    For those of you with small children and an iPad, download the virtuoso app and let your child amaze you. My kid just wrote an opus, er something. Lulzapalooza.

  20. snow Says:

    @MiA- I respect you and didn’t mean to label you as fox news. I see where you are coming from with more explanation, but this is one where you need a smack on the head. luckily MrC was here to administer it with precision. 😉

    I am trying to avoid anymore politics talk. i’m bad about that. Usually tour takes care of that anyway.

    but all other digressions are 99.9999% welcomed by me.

    that said, I think mocking a solid nerdathon like this is fair game.

  21. tela'smuff Says:

    had that gone,

    Mike’s>McGrupp>GBOTT>Psycho Killer>Weekapaug, Caspian>Waves>Bug, Bowie

    we’d be talking best show of summer, maybe 3.0. or does that Psycho Killer fall in the lame bustout range.

  22. snow Says:

    I said three songs into last night: this is my favorite first set of 3.0 so far. Or was it seven songs. Then when KDF was just standard KDF, it got dicey.
    Some love on KDF or Gumbo and axe Alaska and that is a killer first set.

  23. Jtran Says:

    Was it just Page that missed the whole psycho killer vibe and layed on the HYHU chords? That’s kind of what it seemed to me live.

    Definitely a Paug that worked better in the building. Reminded me of DC97 rotation jam, only humorous

  24. tela'smuff Says:

    it seemed Page pushed it, maybe via Trey. I think Fish was pushing PK the most! ha.

  25. MiA Says:

    I still remain to believe I am 100% right on this.

    “This 100lb bone I just pulled out of the ground proves the existence of huge horses that lived up to 5,000 years ago.”

    “that it could be the Higgs, and that they don’t know anything else it could be besides the Higgs.”

    Same thought process really. That’s not very imaginative. They have zero calculations on the spin. Nobody really wants to say what it is except that they have a Boson. So funny they’ve lept on that this is the theoretical thing that they’ve been looking for without any calculations.

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