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. SillyWilly Says:

    If the Cinci Twist, AC Birds, and Alpine Light get removed from the top-10 list, then you guys will have to fly to Milwaukee and track down the remnants of my mind from the city sidewalks.

  2. Litteringand Says:

    Eating breakfast in Nashvile then it’s open road

  3. albert walker Says:

    monster RnR > tight ass Lizards highlight for me. had a good time watchin.

    still not sold on the webcast thing but oh well that’s on me.

    spinning BGCA tweezer over morning dabs.

    loved it live but damn if that shit isn’t sick on the big speakers. whole thing from the initial verses through the last notes of the jam just flows so well and has creative touches all over it

    love the initial layed back acid jazzy segment. trey’s shreddy guitar solo afterwords is sick too. page takes a weird organ solo and drops into the first storage tweez. whole storage section so nice peaking out with a mike bass solo over some abstract troy comping.

    damn sick fuckin tweezer. both halves stoney case.

    big tweezer tour. can’t wait to hear what it drops next.

  4. DaNcInG fOoL Says:

    i was wondering why last night’s official photos were all shitty Dutch angles. not dave vann.

  5. Kaveh Says:

    Morning BBers!

    @Miner: thanks for the review; I’ll have to give the show a spin.

  6. SillyWilly Says:

    keep hoping a monster Waves is out there

    would love to get it in Denver, but mostly I just want one to blow up on Leg 2.

    it’s my favorite Phish song and I’d love Waves to get a ’12 stamp on it.

    Deer Creek was great, of course. But a Leg 2 ’12 stamp.

  7. DaNcInG fOoL Says:

    leg 2 waves >>> deer creek waves

  8. SillyWilly Says:

    don’t know why I feel the need to share this, other than I’m thinking about it

    Reading ESPN and there’s all these stories about BYU’s quarterback, Riley Nelson.

    He was a year behind me in school (he’s still in college because he probably red-shirted AND went on a mormon mission which can set you back 3 or 4 seasons sometimes)

    anyway, he was a junior at Logan High School which is a beautiful area in Northern Utah up in the mountains. Very Tetonish feel up there.

    Anyway (again) we played up in Logan my senior yr of high school. And they had the new field turf which is like kinder, gentler astro-turf. But it doesn’t absorb anything

    we beat them pretty bad. But, the thing I’ll never forget is Riley Nelson was supposed to throw all over us. Logan was going to upset the urban kids from SLC. We were supposed to have never played a quarterback like Riley Nelson

    2nd Quarter the kid had had too much and was just woofin all over field. Just yakkin’ his brains out. after every play, turned and tossed his pre-game meal everywhere. it was gross.

    I kinda felt bad for him. And we kept coming after him.

    Now he starts for a pretty decent BYU team, featured all the time on ESPN, and he’s a legit NFL prospect.

    and here I am a skinny kid in a coffee shop reliving the ol’ glories.

    what happened to me? haha.

  9. Bearito Says:

    Spot on review Miner!

    What a show! Trey raged that WMGGW leaving everyone floored at setbreak. I knew we were in for a treat.

    That R&R was just perfect. I turned to my friend attending his first show and said, “This is why I go see this band.” Was glad to hear after the show that he got IT.

    Lets do this Lakewood!

  10. Kaveh Says:

    and here I am a skinny kid in a coffee shop reliving the ol’ glories.

    ^ @Silly: you are now the Al Bundy of the BB! 🙂

  11. revise your despise Says:

    Fun show last night. Nice meeting Marco and verno.

    Breakfast with the fam then off to atl. Safe travels everyone.

  12. verno329 Says:

    Great review Miner. Had a blast last night, spent most of the show hanging with Revise Your Despise. Great RnR Lizards combo and the BirmingSand was a nice treat too. On to Atlanta!

  13. snow Says:

    pelham codes anybody? I’m about to throw down…

  14. m00nshake Says:

    I too would love to hear a massive 2 ’12 Waves…

    I’m heading to Charlotte tomorrow. First time I’ve been on the lawn since the band’s return. Jeez, probably the first time since the late 90’s. It’ll be fun for a change… 🙂

  15. steamer Says:

    anyone need st louis GA’s?

  16. Kaveh Says:


    And I’m still looking for Wednesday show too.

    I found the first four shows of tour on the Pirate.

  17. Robear Says:

    RnR has a little Gorge flavor in the middle. After the whale segment. (from last night). Then the repeating little lick from Trey. LOVE THIS NEW STYLE!

  18. snow Says:

    @Kaveh- i’m a sucker for the HD Flacs…. They are just a bit clearer on my stereo.

  19. DaNcInG fOoL Says:

    haha nice silly

  20. Robear Says:

    Had a musician friend over for part of webcast. She’s not a phan per se.

    “Wow, these guys are living the dream of every performer”

  21. Cable Hogue Says:

    I thought BOTT popped with a little something extra last night.

    I really enjoy a straightforward rocking DWD. I think it’s a good use of the tune…kinda like in the earlier days of the tune, sometimes you’d get a rocker and sometimes a jammer.

    For some reason I really liked the drop into Birds…it was abrupt but in a good way for me. Blindside left hook.

    RnR and Sand delivered from my VT living room vantage point. Should be a big weekend for the Phish.

    Have fun in Atlanta folks!

  22. Kaveh Says:

    @snow — there are flac’s on the Pirate for SF…but not the 24 bit.

  23. TheSloth Says:

    Making the drive to ATL. Maybe I’ll see some of you down here.

  24. Kaveh Says:

    Tonight’s poster:

    ^ my reaction: Yikes!

  25. Robear Says:

    The posters are a joke. Good grief. Tonights is a reject from Utah. Just in time for @sillys nostalgia story.

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