Through the Hourglass

9.2.2012 – Commerce City, CO (Michael Stein)

When Trey stepped to the mic to thank the crowd for a wonderful three nights in Colorado and a “joyous” summer, one could hear the emotion and gratitude seep through his voice. But, in reality, we should be thanking him and the band for a second leg of summer tour that grew to places unimaginable, and the unbelievably inspirational music within. Punctuating the season with a seamless set of music that was centered on a mammoth sequence of “Sand -> Ghost -> Piper,” the band left no doubt about the state of affairs in the world of Phish—better than ever.

Official Print – Purple (Stout)

After two historic nights of music to start their stay at Dick’s, the guys needed a first set of songs to exhale and set their bearings after surfing the astral plane for so long. Once the lights dropped for the main event, however, Phish ramped things right back up with a “Sand” that exited stage left into a monumental excursion. “Sand” has been a villain of groove all summer long, birthing sweltering dance sessions since Worcester’s all-star rendition. But if Worcester’s “Sand” makes the all-star team, last night’s is a first-ballot Hall of Famer. All things seemed par for the course as the guys bathed in a scorching groove, but midway through the normal jam, they found a wormhole through which they squeezed, completely switching musical feels. But once they reached the other side, the music moved into space.

Fish dropped his beat and band built an eerie soundscape through which Mike and Fish initiated a triumphant, mid-tempo groove. Instanstaneously, the piece elevated into blissful open pastures, and when Trey rejoined the mix over his own loop, the jam transformed into heaven. Once peaking this euphoric segment, Trey threw down some hard rhythm chops, and the band immediately entered another section of jamming. All weekend long, where Trey would typically pull back, the pushed forth, and as expected, his mates were more than happy to oblige. Building this final part into a soaring rock groove, Trey took the jam to the top, sounding like it was “46 Days.” A seething solo over a full band peak capped this all-time great, or so we thought.

9.2.2012 (Graham Lucas)

At this juncture, and at the end of “Ghost,” the band took their time to pass between songs, intentionally extending jams into the musical setting of the forthcoming piece. This patience helped craft, perhaps, the tightest set of tour. Thus, when Trey turned back to the theme of “Sand” and proceeded to lead a jam out if it, the move just about knocked the socks off everyone in the stadium! With care the band worked the jam into a slower groove, laced with effects, and they morphed into the second “Ghost” of Leg Two. Where Long Beach’s version moved into uplifting sonic reverie, this rendition gravitated towards the dark, though didn’t reach the levels of its tour-opening counterpart. Leading the first part of the jam with an uncompressed, Hendrix-like scream, and stepping back for the second sequence of percussive grooves, Trey hit on multiple styles in this three-part “Ghost.” Finalizing the piece was another “segue jam,” an ambient crawl into “Piper.”

9.2.2012 (M.Stein)

Though not as developed as many of the jams we heard this tour, “Piper,” nonetheless, reached completely original ground. An uptempo staccato carnival, in which Trey locked into some stellar melodies, dazzled the crowd, while Page comped Red with quality piano stylings. The quartet was immersed in some of the more engaging music of the night, but as they had improvising non-stop for nearly 50 minutes straight—and for the first time all weekend—the band pulled up on a jam that still had plenty of life. Artistically twisting into the first appearance of “Twenty Years Later,” Phish completed a colossal chunk of improv, and audience roared in approval.

As the band paired “Twenty Years Later”—a retrospective song about time gone by and life experiences—and their earliest-era, Gamhendge classic,”Lizards,” a certain poignancy emerged. Here the band stood onstage in 2012, nearly 30 years removed from its genesis, and playing the best music of their lives. It felt like the guys realized this as well, using these two songs as a juxtaposition of times in their lives and a celebration of all that has happened in between. And there is no other way to end a musical celebration than with “Harry Hood.” A song that has been played with passion all year long took one more run around the block last night with glorious results. Ending the summer with a cathartic exclamation point, Trey wove a dreamlike solo before stepping up and sharing his thoughts with the audience.

9.2.2012 (Eric Battuello)

If 2009 initiated the Golden Age of Phish, 2012 brought us into a modern renaissance, where the band is no longer limited to jam “portions,” but now feel comfortable to extend their ideas over long periods of time, crafting thematic journeys rather than mere glimpses of the infinite. This summer, starting in Worcester and progressing through Denver, Phish hit a stride like never before this era, and Leg Two has been their crowning achievement. Strewn with all-time jams, Dick’s three-night run was the culmination of this magical year, and the feeling as we break until New Year’s couldn’t be more jubilant. As they started to sing in ’09, Phish wants us to be happy. Well, mission accomplished.

I: Cars Trucks Buses, AC/DC Bag, Down with Disease, Bathtub Gin, Nellie Kane, Sample in a Jar, Back on the Train, Rift, Free, Ride Captain Ride, Maze, Halley’s Comet > 46 Days, Possum

II: Sand -> Ghost -> Piper > Twenty Years Later, The Lizards, Harry Hood

E: Character Zero

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2,780 Responses to “Through the Hourglass”

  1. GhostPhunk Says:

    Hood is nuts. How bout it one more time loud and proud for the precision all 4 members are playing with. srsbznz.

  2. Aquaman Says:

    I am about to finish this Sand>Ghost and I think I’ve been here for something like, 40 minutes.

  3. Selector J Says:

    Been way out of touch. Haven’t even been following what went down at Dick’s. What can I say? Been busy. Plus, I’ve somehow developed an immunity to FOMO in the last month or two. Kinda nice.

    Looks like those shows were just one big messy funball. I love seeing the band getting to this point again– getting away with goofball wtf-ery by countering it with hosey face melt. That’s sort of the whole thing for me.

    Long may they tour.

  4. Aquaman Says:

    I got some FOMO.

    Tunes, ‘bane and Heineken seems to help some.

  5. tzara's Says:

    @Robear, meant to give a proper goodbye hug but setbreak got away from us. Great to see you, and yes, the revenge of Troy was in full effect.

  6. Slicksasquatch Says:

    I think they finally made us happy. Here is to the golden age of phish spreading joy and light to those in need.

  7. Aquaman Says:


    I am sorry if the following has been discussed previously but please take a look at the following clip from REVERB’s review of the Dick’s 1 FYFace show:

    Sure enough, a roaring — yet unfinished — “Runaway Jim” second-set opener rolled into an awkwardly placed “Farmhouse.” (For those following the acronymical hue, a hurried “Ocelet” and a sadly forced “Undermind” closed the first set, thwarting — smarmy FU theme aside — a first-set for the record books. The expected “Fuck Your Face” that abruptly closed the second set was more than explosive, with Ansastasio delivering his mightiest punches of the evening. Alas, the jams were fleeting Friday at Dick’s with only shallow, wading ventures into improvisational bliss.

    Did a see “sadly forced Undermind” and “shallow wading ventures”? That just made my eyeballs pop out of my head.

    please…..that Undermind sounded pretty damn deep to me.


  8. butter Says:

    “It felt like the guys realized this as well, using these two songs as a juxtaposition of times in their lives and a celebration of all that has happened in between.”


    sweet write up buddy! there goes Miner again describing moments like only he can do.

    the emotions those two songs paired, brought out was better than any single ballad could have achieved

    oh yea and to steal a line from a tour budde “Sand -> Ghost -> Piper was a pretty big deal”

    i was lucky enough to catch 9 shows this summer: Woost, Lbc, BGC, Dicks. i’m pretty sure thats the highest quality 9 shows in a row i’ve ever seen. and BGC3, Dicks as the last 4 in a row are my island run

  9. butter Says:

    so stoked to have raged Piper > 20yr > Lizards, Hood. Zero with ya Robear!!


  10. butter Says:

    Troy’s revenge. fucking faces nightly over labor day in a soccer stadium

    gotta love it

  11. voopa Says:

    Hearing Mike emphatically say “Thank you Mr. Miner” last night made me think back to the great experiences I’ve had over the last 3 years because of this place. From grooving w/Robear during Lizards at Greek 3 to throwing down on the concourse at BG3 w/10 BB’ers.

    The end of tour is always a time for reflection, as there’s nothing new on the horizon. But I used to have a problem with getting too wrapped up in the past during regular shows; not being able to live in the moment. Something happened over the last couple of years that has allowed me to “change my mind” and be present when it counts, and having the BB along for this journey has been fun, and helped quite a bit too.

    But last night it was OK to look back. The band seems to do that at the end of tour anyway…at times last night I felt like I had been transported back to the best eras of the band’s history, not just a reflection of this year. I spent a lot of time today thinking about various shows and runs I’ve been to over the years, all the way back to 1992. Thought about a lot of experiences and people that I haven’t for a long time.

    I don’t know if I’d be capable of this kind of reflection without having a place like this. And who knows what the future will bring, but I’m content with the fact that I saw 4 great 2012 Phish shows, truly an era that will live in infamy, and over the last 3 years have met some of the coolest fellow fans ever. So thank you Mr. Miner, indeed!

  12. Aquaman Says:

    Well said Voopa.

  13. sumodie Says:

    That Undermind will be played at my funeral, palmer. great minds.

    Ha, that was my thought too on Friday

    Epic weekend now at a close. Got home, took the trash out

  14. voopa Says:

    Thanks Aqua. I didn’t quite finish that last paragraph, and it sounds kind of contradictory.

    I don’t know if the kind of reflection I’ve had the last two days would have been possible without being able to let go of it at shows now, but having memories to look back on without having to dwell on what once and living in the now is a pretty cool thing. Don’t know if the correlation is the causation, but it seems so.

    It was also very cool that just a mere mention here of taking off for CO at the last minute yielded a ride and a place to stay within minutes. Knowing what was possible really did help make not being there more bearable, as backwards as that sounds.

  15. sumodie Says:


    For those comparing Dick’s and the recent MSG runs, one can’t overlook that the last two nye runs occurred without any fall tour to keep the band fresh & tight

    End of summer tour is traditionally epic. That’s when most phish festivals took place. Of course Dick’s’12 was gonna be phenomenal, look what happened last year

    I had faith (& expectations) that this weekend would be great. But I had no idea just how awed i would be.

    crash time…zzzz

  16. robear Says:

    Fela pre-show music.

    Gamehenge Ranger shirt on my back.

    Did our best to spread the love far and wide Slick. Hope u all felt it.


  17. vegas wolfmans Says:

    Great thoughts, Voopa.

  18. JP Says:

    I’ve been waiting patiently all day to see what Mr. Miner had to say because let’s be honest, just like Phish, he’s a master of his craft. Why? Because I couldn’t have put it better myself and neither could anyone else. Phish walked off stage last night as masters of their universe.

    I think over the past few years I’ve had trouble reconciling a great show with shows I’ve seen in other eras. This weekend I saw Phish reach those heights again and I can honestly say they are as good as they ever were. The beast has returned to the garden.

    Thank you Phish. Thank you Mr. Miner.

  19. butter Says:

    yea, i concur, great thoughts Voops

    the average life for a human is some 900 months or 29,000 days. kinda puts the whole 20yrs later in perspective and how grandiose the meaning is behind it

    and oh yes the Undermind….. i swear when Trey clicked into the higher spiritual plane in that jam, there was some shift that occurred in the time it takes to snap your fingers. Church. totally makes sense with all the play it my funeral comments.

    also i agree with Palmer’s rankings. night 1 best show. night two best jam. LIGHT. and last nights set 2, as best set. hesitant to rank, but its always fun to organize your baseball cards.

    one love. Light will always conquer darkness, as it had to on Saturday with the dark Sith prince Caspian.

  20. Mr.Miner Says:

    best set has to be sat II.

  21. Mr.Miner Says:

    how could it not be?

  22. Mr.Miner Says:

    but i hear what you’re saying. just after sand it became to quote charlie dirksen, just “Average Great” 😉

  23. Mr.Miner Says:

    basically, I’ll take goldencaspianlight over sandghostpiper every day of the week. the former is one of the best sequences of all time. The latter is the best sand ever and some quality jamming afterwards.

    not even in the same ball park, or national park, for that matter.

  24. butter Says:

    yea Miner, Golden Age > Caspian > Light was a better front half, and deeper jamming, but i prefer the back half of Sunday’s set 2 pretty heavily over the Mike’s No 1/4 Groove. i really wasnt ready for a Mikes at that point in the set.

    told ya we’d get a Ghost Sunday 😉 the rhythmic entrance to that Ghost and percussive stylings were sick. and i love Lizards and miss it quite often. Hood was all that. as a whole i prefer Sunday’s set 2. but agree that the front half of Sat’s set 2 was more mind blowing.

    Friday’s 1st set came out for the jugular i tell u.

  25. butter Says:

    totally agree with your above comment Miner

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