Phishin’ the Heart of Dixie

8.24.2012 – Oak Mountain (Ryan MacNeill)

Phish greeted Oak Mountain in Pelham, Alabama—a venue and part of the country they hadn’t visited in 13 years—with a scorching show whose improvisational focus lied squarely in the second set. An other-wordly “Rock and Roll” provided, perhaps, the jam of tour on an ever-expanding highlight reel of monstrous second-leg excursions. At this point, Phish is dropping jams of depth and length on a nightly basis that they haven’t dared touch in this era, and the spiritual heights these pieces are reaching is, straight up, astounding. After such extended cosmic jaunts, the rest of any second set becomes musical gravy, but last night’s had plenty of meat to back up the centerpiece jam. Nobody knew what to expect when Phish dipped into Alabama, but we came out with yet another massive win for the home team.

8.24.12 (R.MacNeill)

When the band started “Rock and Roll” to spark the second set, one knew things were about to get crazy, and following Long Beach’s opening night odyssey, the sky was the limit. But where Long Beach’s version morphed between themes in a sprawling piece of improv, last night’s “Rock and Roll” provided a far more cohesive journey that elevated into heavenly Phish space. As the band was locked and crushing within a high-speed chase, Trey dipped into his murky, uncompressed tone, urging them, momentarily, into a slower texture. After popping back into full tempo, the band gradually broke the jam down into half-time, and into a one of the most stunning passages of music we’ve heard this tour. The guys bled into a medium pace in which they rarely sit in for long, but on this night, decided to stick with, and the jam absolutely took off. Slaying heart-wrenching leads, Trey played some of his most emotional guitar of tour, all within an elevating soundscape that epitomized communication at the highest level. Winding up in a land beyond bliss and imagination, the guys played music of which we dream. The words “beautiful” and “gorgeous” liken insults to the sounds that graced the Alabama air last night, forming a must-hear jam for any lover of music or life, at all. It’s that good.

Official Oak Mountain Print (J.Flames)

Dripping out of this journey, the band landed in “Lizards,” continuing the soothing path of the previous jam and providing a perfect landing pad for the astronomical journey. The next segment of the set started with “Halley’s Comet,” the ever-present spark plug that led into the second “Sand” of tour, and the first featured in the main event. Diving directly into his gnarly post-hiatus tone, Trey dug into the murk to start this version. Building a menacing sound scape, Trey kept this version guitar-centric, but his seething leads made that no issue at all. Playing for all his might, Red let things loose while the rest of the guys provided a backdrop. A six-string showcase to behold, this “Sand” popped with all sorts of aggression, and was a massive welcome home to the second set juggernaut after a stellar opening leg of summer.

8.24.12 (R.MacNeill)

After peaking “Sand,” however, Trey didn’t bring the song back around, instead, opting to lead the band into an abstract storage sequence that provided an ethereal denouement to the heat-seeking piece. Layering and looping, the band built a seamless sonic bridge into “Twist.” Splashing into “Twist’s” jam, Phish toyed with the theme of Santana’s “Oye Como Va,” giving a nod to the eternal similarity of the two songs. But when the piece truly started to go places, Trey decided to, suddenly, lop it off with the into to “Birds of a Feather.”

The back third of the set has been a slot for songs during 2012, a puzzling development, but one that has proven almost clockwork in even the best of sets. Last night, the band played “Birds,” Boogie,” and a quality pairing of “2001 > Waste,” thus, this segment didn’t drag much at all. And to close it out, Phish unveiled a patient, whole-band “Slave” that capped a predominantly dark set with a grandiose peak. A version that stood out immediately, this was the perfect call to end the night. Bowing to a roaring ovation, Phish had come back to Oak Mountain with quite a statement, and as they walked off stage and on to Atlanta, I’m sure everyone could agree.

First Set Notes: In a well-played first set, the band served the Alabama audience a smorgasbord of Southern-tinged Phish songs. From the “Possum” opener to “Timber,” and from “Back on the Train” to “Gumbo,” if the song had a southern reference or musical flavor, they busted it out in the opening frame. And appreciating set and setting, everything was delivered just right. In addition, the band threw in straight-forward, though scintillating “Disease,” “The Wedge,” and a version of “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” that Trey shredded to smithereens. Musically speaking, bump “Timber,” “Disease” and “Guitar Gently Weeps” to the front of your first set playlist.

8.24.2012 (Ryan MacNeill)

I. Possum, Cities, Sample in a Jar, Timber, Back on the Train, Lawn Boy, Down with Disease, Gumbo, Ginseng Sullivan, The Wedge, Julius > Cavern, While My Guitar Gently Weeps

II: Rock and Roll > The Lizards, Halley’s Comet > Sand > Twist > Birds of a Feather, Boogie On Reggae Woman > Also Sprach Zarathustra > Waste, Slave to the Traffic Light

E: Good Times Bad Times

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218 Responses to “Phishin’ the Heart of Dixie”

  1. Phishm0610 Says:

    @PigSong – I hear you. I absolutely feel the incredible need to attend a show and soon. It’s like a close encounters of the 3rd kind thing. I drop my kids off to my ex on Sunday. I may have to make the trip to St. Louis. It seems like the easiest logistical touchdown. If not, I will obviously still sharing in the groove. Now really off to bed.

  2. PigSong Says:

    All in good fun. Wish I could have caught up with some folks for once.

    I had a kind of terrible up and down first set. Turns out accessible section means everyone comes and dances incoherently in that section. Which I’m down with, just try not to elbow my very preggo wife’s belly. Most everybody was cool once they realized what was happening.

    KDF to open set two was a huge wtf for me. Thank you Ph for throwing that in my face. Place went bonkers for Golden Age>Free>Light. At least I did, fucking bonkers.

    CDT>WTU. During WTU I was trying to get my driver to run out and drive us to CLT. It didn’t work, not even close.

    Really happy I had an IT night, I’ve been looking forward my one Phish night for a long time.

  3. PigSong Says:

    oh, wife came back to our spot with a Ph onsie, (like baby stuff). She’s really excited to imprint the set list on it somewhere.
    /custy’d and happy about it.

  4. Phishm0610 Says:

    wasn’t BOAF played in place of KDF when the jam began?

  5. PigSong Says:

    Phishm. do Louie. please.

    I hoped so bad my girl would want to jump in the car old school like. Something about 7+ months of baby growing makes you apprehensive to travel.

  6. Blakeson Says:

    Looking at the “reviews” of tonight’s show at livephish, I silently mocked the all caps best show of the year post, and then I listened to the 2nd set. Wow, these guys keeping upping the ante. Can’t say that this show is better than SF3, especially since I was in the room, but the level of play and improv in tonight’s 2nd set is astounding. The whole set is a psychedelic delight: Kill Devil Falls goes deep right off, Golden Age is a Mike Gordon-led space odyssey, Light is as grand as ever, and Chalkdust (into WTU!) is one of the densest bit of improv bliss you’ll have the pleasure to hear. I can’t imagine if they carry this momentum into the recording studio this fall…

  7. MiA Says:

    I love post show euphoria.

  8. Spasm Waiter Says:

    Gina spin this?
    Can’t wait!!! ( iny best Bart Scott voice$

  9. c0wfunk Says:

    12 hours to go til liftoff. Both my requests played last night (see pg 1 of comments) so i guess im finally waiting for nothing at all…. mikes tweezer ghost fluff bowie yem all hangin out there.. bring it!

  10. ThePigSong Says:

    ahh still basking. Enjoy c0w, as everyone knows, band en fuego.

    Wish I was driving to Charlotte.

  11. ThePigSong Says:

    PigSong Says:
    August 25th, 2012 at 10:02 pm
    Phishm. do Louie. please.
    I hoped so bad my girl would want to jump in the car old school like. Something about 7+ months of baby growing makes you apprehensive to travel.

    just to clarify, when I say “old school like” I mean last year. Can adults runaway an still have it be cute?

  12. c0wfunk Says:

    You ac see the road that they traveled is paved woth gold.. its always summer and never gets cold.. they wanted the highway, theyre happier there today….

    Remember that tune from the 90s? Local station plays it and always makes me want to burn the mortgage and hit the road.

  13. El Duderino Says:

    @ Pigsong

    Dude, we were fucking there
    Drank ate whatnot!
    Where were you?

  14. Phishm0610 Says:

    Morning all. What a show. Speechless. Please hit me up if you have a finger on what went down last night. I think I do, but get tired trying to type it. It just makes too much sense and none at all. My fragile little mind has been blown now for the 3rd time from home. And on a choppy stream at that (or was that how they were playing?).

  15. 20 Minute Halley's Says:

    morning, searching for 2 Dick’s Tix for last two nights, Field, just gave in and bought ticket to Denver. May just wing it and try to score em on lot…

    Glad to hear the boys are pushing forward with a full head of steam!

  16. 20 Minute Halley's Says:

    welly well, just scored field for Sunday!

  17. tela'smuff Says:

    interesting how the Southern Swing is looking use like the BGCC run. tonight the big guns drop. Carini>Ghost

  18. chris Says:

    did anyone catch the live and let die tease in rock and roll?

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