This summer, if one thing was evident from Worcester to Denver, Phish felt great. Filled with joy, their positive emotions permeated their music all summer long, redefining the meaning of “Bliss Phish.” Where improvisational segments once turned towards the dark and ominous in such pieces as “Tweezer,” “Ghost,” and “Rock and Roll,” this summer,the band veered for the light in almost every instance. Thus, Summer 2012—especially Leg Two—was largely defined by these uplifting, melody-anchored escapades.
The Long Beach “Ghost,” KC’s “Tweezer,” Alabama’s “Rock and Roll,” Charlotte’s “Tweezer,” Dick’s “Undermind,” “Chalk Dust,” “Light,” and “Sand” head the top of this tour’s bliss jam class, and herein lie many of tour’s most magical moments. The joy and light that lives within every one of us recognizes these similar vibrations released by the band, resulting in truly heart-opening experiences. While I’m all about dark Phish jams, more often it is a bliss jam that connects one to the infinite. Why are so many people still reeling from Denver’s tour closing three-night finale? One reason is because so many of Dick’s jams elevated to this place of communal reverie, creating experiences more powerful and inspiring than normally outstanding Phish jams. The band was tapped into IT, creating more than music in the Rockies. They were harnessing universal messages from beyond everyday comprehension and channeling them through their instruments. Finally stepping out of the way, the guys were conduits in Denver, as Trey often talked about in the mid-‘90s, allowing life’s energy and sounds to flow through them. And that made all the difference.
Most of the issues fans have pointed out in this era—rocky transitions, odd song selection, ripcorded jams, fizzling sets—have, arguably, come from the band overthinking things and not letting IT flow. On this past tour, however, that problem vanished in the air, as Phish glided through a fortnight of dreams. When thoughts cease, the false self dissipates and truth arises, and throughout Leg Two—specifically in Colorado, we experienced the truth.
At so many junctures during Leg Two, where Trey used to bail, he persevered, breaking down improvisational walls that once constrained him. And with the cooperation of his ready-to-jam bandmates, the guys formed excursions that shot arrows through our hearts all tour long. Phish’s good feelings didn’t only effect open jamming, but was infused into each “Harry Hood,” “Ocelot,” “Maze,” and even “Golgi Apparatus” that they played. The band was in the moment all tour long, and every second felt as important as the one before.
Music reflects the people and environment from which it is created, and with Phish and their fans teeming with joy all season long, everything clicked on Leg Two, resulting in a wake of euphoric music. As the band criss-crossed the nation with an absurd quickness, each night they were able to slow everything down, and take it one measure at a time. This commitment to improvisational patience combined with the gratitude, celebration, and appreciation that wafted through the air at every show, created a magical mixture that pointed the band towards catharsis more often than not. When it comes down to IT, music is all about feeling, and throughout Leg Two, things had never felt better.
Jam of the Day:
“Tweezer” 8.22 II, Kansas City, MO
One of my favorite bliss jams from summer.
=====Tags: 2012, Summer 2012, The Moment