First Sets and Sax-Scraper

8.17.18 – BGCA (Graham Lucas)

In a complete role reversal, on Saturday night at Bill Graham Civic Auditorium, the first set provided the meatier musical dish, while the second set never found a groove. Refusing to allow any second set jam to develop, less a universe aligning “Simple,” Trey kept the setlist moving forward in favor of the style of jamming we have quickly become accustomed over two nights of Leg Two. The irony of this show was that the first set was—unquestionably—the best of tour, seemingly setting up a significant second half that was, in the end, left begging for musical drama. But, let’s focus on the first set for a change.

8.17.12 (G. Lucas)

The band carried Friday’s momentum right into Saturday night’s opening frame, showing a willingness to get right into things with a spunky opening pairing of “Runaway Jim” and “Wolfman’s Brother.” Though “Runaway Jim” remained with in the confines that you’d expect from its opening slot, that wouldn’t be the same with “Wolfmans.” A dynamic version took a left turn at the juncture where the guys conventionally steer it back to shore. Veering into a smooth-then-hard-edged groove tangent, the band built its initial first set highlight out of its second song.

Phish’s energetic playing continued in Page’s “Beauty of a Broken Heart” before “Ocelot” brought the an intense, blues-based, mid-set peak. “Maze” has turned into a reliable scorcher over the past year, and last night’s certainly fit right line with this trend. The band rolled into “46 Days” with a head full of steam, tearing apart a rendition that popped with a far groovier feel than usual thanks to Mike, Fish, and Page. Perhaps this rhythmic vibe led to the next song selection of “Tube,” because when the band hit the break for the jam, dense dance textures dominated the dance floor, as Page made sweet love to his clavinet over an infectious groove.

The band took their first real breath of air with “Circus” before getting right back into things with a notably clean version of “Sugar Shack.” But the true highlight of the set emerged next in “Split Open and Melt.” On the drop of a hat, the guys switched modes into abstract artisans, sculpting some of the more mind-fucking music we’ve heard from “Split” in a quick minute. In fact, the band got so deep into the fray, they couldn’t find their way back from the other side and into the song’s ending, but in this case, the imperfection hardly diminished the places traveled. One of those jams that leave you slack-jawed in the live setting, the band set its path for the outer realms and stayed the course for the duration. Quite different than the standout we just heard at SPAC, this version continued to get crazier and crazier until the band had all sorts of issues getting back on the same page in order to pop into the theme. The third entirely different “Split” of the summer stole the cerebral jamming trophy for the first half. “Cavern” provided an exclamation point to a frame of music that seemed destined to set up big things. But those big things never came.

8.17.12 (Graham Lucas)

The second set became a patchwork creation of greatest hits, none of which the band took into an interesting jam but for “Simple.” The initial couplet of of “Golden Age > Piper” each had developing jams that were cut short before they were realized in any sort of way. When “Mike’s” started, it seemed like it would be one of those rocking, though improvisationally thin second sets, with our only hope of exploration coming in the off chance that the band kicked down a “Simple” within the “Groove.” And boy did they ever.

Official SF Triptych (K.Taylor)

After “Mike” anchored a particularly rousing version of his song, the band evoked the feel of the Dead once again with a stunningly patient, ambient sound sculpture out of “Simple.” At times, it seemed that barely anyone was playing anything at all, though a gorgeous tapestry of sound continued to emanate from the stage. Sounding very much like “The Wheel,” this vibration-uniting excursion silenced a chatty-Saturday night audience with its mystical aura. An instant favorite, and a certain must-hear-now chunk of music, this “Simple” stole the second set all by itself, because after that Phish hopped the express train to Fizzletown, USA.

An innocuous and rushed sequence of “Number Line,” Carini > Wilson,” “Weekapaug,” “Horse > Silent,” “2001 > Fluffhead,” “Loving Cup,” Show of Life,” and “Character Zero” provided no music to sink one’s teeth into, whatsoever, while taking up the final hour of the set plus encore. After displaying an eagerness for extended jamming over the first two shows of leg two, Phish reeled things in quite a bit on Saturday night with an energy-centric second set. But we’ll always have “Simple.”

I: Runaway Jim, Wolfman’s Brother, Nellie Kane, Beauty of a Broken Heart, Ocelot, Maze, I Didn’t Know, 46 Days, Tube, When the Circus Comes, Sugar Shack, Split Open and Melt, Cavern

II: Golden Age > Piper > Mike’s Song > Simple > Backwards Down the Number Line, Carini > Wilson >Weekapaug Groove, The Horse > Silent in the Morning, Also Sprach Zarathustra > Fluffhead, Loving Cup

E: Show of Life, Character Zero

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498 Responses to “First Sets and Sax-Scraper”

  1. Robear Says:

    Marcman, our crew in the venue heard it. Wheel flavored.

    Yeah, Duder. I need to re align my relation to the group. I can still help without doing the walk in, or being completely tied in.

  2. Robear Says:

    Re: SFO

    LgB was a fantastic show.

  3. Duder Says:

    they should be grateful for the time they had you…it is volunteer work, not paid position for non-profit

  4. dusty Says:

    Hence why I busted ass back to spac after hearing starlake. I actually think that the ambient temp of the venue dictates the heat/meat of a show.

  5. ElJefe Says:

    This may sum it up. 1st time I’ve ever fallen asleep listening/watching Phish… Except for IT soundcheck which I put on sometimes for that purpose. But I do that cause I love it And want to evoke sweet sweet psychedelic dreams. Great 1st set and Simple though. Trey had a brutal night. What was in that envelop someone gave him at the end of the 1st set??? Just kidding about that part..

  6. dusty Says:

    @robear email sent your way…

    Apple, kiwi, peach, pear, beet, kale smoothie on deck

  7. Wang Dang Says:

    Loving Cup needs to be heard imho, Split Open was MAJOR high of evening!

  8. marcoesq Says:

    Morning all, bout to give this Simple a ride.

    Saw MMJ last night with Band of Horses, great show. Jacket really brings it live. Energy was great

  9. dyda Says:

    nobody calls me a fizzle and gets away with it! except that one guy who called me a fizzle and then ran off. he got away with it. but most people who call me a fizzle don’t get away with it. well, actually, that guy who got away with it was the only one who ever called me a fizzle. after today only half the people who ever called me a fizzle will have gotten away with it

  10. Robear Says:

    Two shows, and not one visit from silly Willy or dancing fool. No visit to Robear at WW. Little punks, disrespecting their elders.

  11. joe Says:

    miner youth run amok.

  12. joe Says:

    what’s left to play tonight? looks like they banged two nights of songs out in the second set alone last night.

  13. marcoesq Says:

    That being said, I’d see a bad night of Phish over pretty much anyone.

    This Split is the bisness!

  14. The Light Between Says:

    I thought last night was great. Not as good as night 1 agreed. But carini, 2001, fluff. It was what I expected from a Saturday show. Fluff was pretty much mistake free, and though the sound still isn’t great it sounded much better last night (in basically the same spot.) I also think Treys tone sounds markedly better on leg II. No more of what I call “the piccolo effect.”

  15. Mr. Palmer Says:

    Rob – maybe they are still noobs? You’ve trained them and now they are on their own… step.. Jaded kidz

  16. DaNcInG fOoL Says:

    Robear if I don’t see you tonight you have permission to stone me

  17. tela'smuff Says:

    i loved that Wolfman’s last night, and the Simple brought me back into the show. Mike was f’in around with THe Wheel in JB, it’s seem s ready to come out.

    Set II: Makisupa>Light>The Wheel>Waves>Mist, Bowie E: Sleeping Monkey, TwePrise

  18. acleo Says:

    Thanks Will for the gospel. As for the show…it’s so hard to argue about the matter without being in the space. If anything the webcast is making more phans critics, remember no matter if you are right or left on the map live phish in the venue is never second fiddle to WC’d. I think anyone trying to save money on couch tour will get what they paid for and should take it as such. The truth will be evident in the moment…you know that magic moment…when you think you hear the wheel….or when you want a love light and realize pig is gone. Get to more shows. This band is doing everything they can for every member of its clan. Thanks Miner for your honest review.

  19. DaNcInG fOoL Says:

    where the greek light, gorge gin, gorge RnR at?

  20. Gavinsdad Says:

    I almost broke on thru to the other side. From a personal fun standpoint
    I had an unbelievably fun time last nite.

  21. Justin Says:

    Wasn’t at the show last night but thought the SPAC Split was a few notches above this one. When the band pulls off a solid, tight Split you know they are on (a la Utica) and even SPAC (big fan of this version). Just didn’t come together it seemed last night.

    Seems like a lot of three night stands have one song filled show and less jamming. Strong possibility to go off tonight…mind-melting ghost on tap?

  22. marcoesq Says:

    Epic Light in store tonight. Gonna get some great set II tunes now that all the “major” players have been taken out.

    Crosseyed, Waves, Reba, ASIHTOS, Bowie, BOTT, Shafty, Scents, Drowned

  23. Robear Says:

    I hope they cover the Bethel Waves or the SBIX Ocean Sings.

    Twist. Yippee. Fluffhead. Hooray. Why not cover the JB Numberline?

  24. tela'smuff Says:

    that Split last night was in league with the Cincy Melt from ’09 until the ending. i’m gonna have to go back and listen to the Splits of 3.0, but i still say they all pretty much jam on the same idea, it’s just how far they want to push the mind f’ery. last night had some deeper moments than most.

    as far as where to seem them, they’ve dropped great to not so great shows in every part of the country in 3.0. although Colorado has the highest avg of great. 😉

  25. Justin Says:

    Glad to hear many had a great time last night. Seems that many opinions of last night’s show mirror those of SPAC 2. Was in attendence for that show and had a blast despite overall lack of enthusiasm for the second set.

    Of course we all know how different it is when you are there, and that is what it is all about. Couldn’t have had a better time that saturday night and sure beats what I do most other nights of the year!

    That being said, second set from SPAC 1 is my type of set!

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