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:

    It was a super tough decision. I was in my Senior year, changing tracks with the “I don’t know about this” approach.

    And really ready to get out of college, instead of starting over as a Junior in another college (really more like a 3rd quarter sophomore).

    Ate me up considerably actually. But I went on to ChemE. It was so tough (much smarter folks than me) I took Comp Sci classes to improve my GPA. For some reason, the Comp Sci classes came to me easy. Why I didn’t go that direction is just me being stubborn.

    70% of my ChemE classmates were from Asia. And damn brilliant and driven folks. They set a very high curve. And I liked Phish and partying. Usually not a good combination.

  2. MiA Says:

    Big molecular bumper cars is a great name for an album by the Smoking Freebies.

  3. MiA Says:

    Oh yeah, this Golden Age is fantastic groove.

  4. thnkfstpal Says:

    MIA is absolutely SPOT on with his conclusions about the establishment funded and founded scientific community.

    Like anything else when it comes to the establishment; Follow the money.

  5. Mr. Palmer Says:

    Skin it Back!

    Dorn- was great meeting you. Until the next time.

    mkdevo videos are sick. got most of the Jb’s up. Nice to pick out the highlights…which were very high.

  6. Dr Pronoia Says:

    Really great to get the bio there mike

    I did affective neuroscience at wisco, working w sleep, affective disorders, and advanced meditators. I was an undergrad grunt who didn’t know much — my head was in Phish, women, and madhyamika philosophy – and there was a ton of data massaging for publication and grant reasons

    Analyzing data was WAY too impersonal so I played the game and hooked up with a prof at Columbia and I was her slave thru the 4th year of my phd. Because she controlled the purse strings thru her grants and profile in the dept I did a lot of research and published things I now have a lot of doubts and maybe even regrets about. But she opened me to present publish papers and chapters, peer review, etc etc so that when I chose to go straight clinical it was an informed choice. I knew what the research world was about, and seeing your name as first author didn’t hold a candle to talking with someone as they rewrite their personal narratives and find some peace…

    Ok, gonna hit the hay soon. The JBs with child care all day was fucking exhausting

  7. Mr.Miner Says:

    http://nugmag.com/dissecting-phish-with-mr-miner/

    http://www.dailygazette.net/standard/ShowStoryTemplate.asp?Path=SCH/2012/07/05&ID=Ar03201&Section=Life_and_Arts

  8. MiA Says:

    “seeing your name as first author didn’t hold a candle to talking with someone as they rewrite their personal narratives and find some peace…”

    I find that to be such an awesome statement.

    I also find this AV Reba to be an awesome statement.

  9. joemeg Says:

    @MIA you present your thoughts quite well. I love your style. Maybe it’s just the carriage returns.

    @bingos, you’re right that farmhouse is a thing of beauty. In fact it just came on.

    Just finished the traditional holiday fight with my family, decide to go AV light ghost to the head to fix the mood. Love the BB. You guys are great

  10. MiA Says:

    Well, maybe shouldn’t have opened nugmag while still at work. Nice articles.

    Dammit, I wish these documents would finally get here.

  11. Angryjoggerz Says:

    Chilling on a huge porch in rural Michigan with a glass of Chardonnay and the new Sigur Ros album. Just about perfect.

  12. Dr Pronoia Says:

    Great stuff miner. Maybe no more full tours? Always wondered how you managed the tour/family balance…

  13. Mr.Miner Says:

    yeah, after this year, no more full tours. Its an agreement we made before this year, and its a long time away from them by any standards. Trying to make a little media push with tour this year to promote the book, and then next year I’ll wind up seeing, well…less….

  14. BingosBrother Says:

    Sure is joemeg, sure is. Every man returns to dust.

    YAY MINER! Nug Life! Soak up the love brutha! awesome Trey quote.

    “I never even feel like I’m performing. I feel like I’m there to be an intermediary between music that’s in the universe and the audience. It sounds silly, but I believe it more than I believe anything in my life. When I’m onstage I feel this incredible togetherness and intense energy that is like fuel for goodness…The problem is when you try to verbalize it, it sounds weird, but only in a world that’s completely lost touch with its spirituality.”

  15. MiA Says:

    Thanks Joemeg. I think it’s all in a good carriage return.

    Wow, great job pulling that nugget out. 😉

    Farmhouse is a thing of Beauty. All of the ballads are being really well played. Maybe not when you wanted to hear them, but being great none-the-less.

  16. CuteStompin'Feet Says:

    Yea, that show was a let down. 4th of July? Wow…

  17. GhostPhunk Says:

    Congrats on the headway Miner. I don’t know why but knowing this site is a bit more in the spotlight had a strange effect on me. I guess I just never thought of it like that, it has always seemed like it just a bunch of friends talking jive. While it is, I suppose I should think there’s a lot of people who don’t post at all. Congrats man, let’s finish leg one strong here.

    @Bingo, I left the tab in my browser open with that quote highlighted for my wife to read when she gets home. I also liked his assessment that it must be “both”.

  18. CuteStompin'Feet Says:

    Frown :/ … Let down

  19. MiA Says:

    GhostPhunk just reminded me I need to mellow out my conversations on here. There are more people lurking than I think at times.

  20. Mr palmer Says:

    Great exposure Miner, congrats.

    Nice seeing you again yesterday, enjoy the rest of tour.

    #spacattack!

  21. Stupendous Says:

    Weird show last nite, totally agree w miner. the bands choice of songs at pivotal times these days seems questionable… i remember the same happening the last nite of broomfield, co in 2010… with the grand sequence of joy, halfway to the moon, bug, summer of 89 in the 2nd set of the 3rd nite…???
    makes me wonder why would they sabotage a set like that…. to be fair? so no show is all the way fire/awesome? why!? this has to stop, maybe more signs in the front row?! lol Love this band regardless…. jus sayin’

  22. Mr palmer Says:

    Seriously Mia… I was just thinking the same thing. Not about you specifically of course, but in general.

    For instance, I got an email from a good friend across the country.. All it said was Mr. Palmer! Shaking my head…

  23. Snigglebeach Says:

    Your gonna hate couch tour Miner.

  24. sumodie Says:

    2013: Welcome to Mrs. Miner’s Phish Thoughts

  25. Phamily Berzerker Says:

    My house is unsafe….

    Youngest daughter confirms here favorite phish tune is Bowie. 🙂

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