Here’s a closer look at some more stellar nuggets from Leg One that might not leap off the page when perusing setlists.
“Light Up or Leave Me Alone” 6.22 I, Riverbend
This dense chunk of improv during an action packed opening half in Cincy, is the tightest conversations of the set. Foreshadowing the all-star jamming in the second set, the guys fired into a full band groove out of the last verse, and the crowd absolutely went off. Riding an infectious tempo, the band locked into a sinful groove that allowed all members to shine while the sun was still out. Though not as long as SPAC’s set-closing version, this one takes the cake for improvisational gusto.
“Harry Hood” 7.4 II, Jones Beach
Amidst an extended visit to Standardstown USA during the second half of July 4th second set, this “Harry Hood” was the only jam that got interesting. Breaking the mold of the piece, the band infused the same, calypso chord progression from the the Gorge’s “Light” of August 7, 2009, into the jam. Lending a summery vibe to the alredy-uplifting anthem, this version stood out as the best of tour.
“Suskind Hotel” 7.4 I, Jones Beach
Phish tacked a fiery jam on Mike’s “Suskind Hotel” amidst a marathon first set on July 4th. Many may have forgotten the obscure piece, as it was only the second time played on the big stage. But back in 2006, “Suskind” was a central jam vehicle for Mike, Trey, Marco Benevento, and Joe Russo’s horribly monikered, though musically impressive, GRAB project. Driving the jam into a fast paced and groovy milieu, the band exploded through the piece and ended on a dime. And when it was over, nobody was really sure what had happened—but it was good. Bring on more visits to the “Hotel.”
“If I Could” 6.7 II, Worcester
In one of the sets of the summer—filled with jams aplenty—it would be easy to gloss over the “breather.” But in this case, the guys outlandish playing from “Carini > Taste > Ghost > Boogie On” spilled right into the elusive ballad. Juicing every ounce of emotion out of the song, the guys brought the crowd to their knees with this poignant landing pad.
“Split Open and Melt” 7.8 I, SPAC
In the first set of the final show of Leg One, Phish unveiled the second “Split” of summer. While Portmouth’s version was defined by slow and drone-like textures, this version popped with far more fire and dynamic interplay. Launching into a cacaphanous and aggressive conversation, the band carved an intense journey that peaked with deranged fury. Each band member contributed to this maddening piece of improv, navigating incredibly abstract music with unreal cohesion. Within a three-night stand, some jams can be lost in the flood of music, but this “Split” should not, as it stands out and one of the strongest versions of this era.
Tags: 2012, Jams, Songs, Summer 2012