The Jam of Summer

Posted in Uncategorized with the tags , , on September 8th, 2012 by Mr.Miner

The Truth (


Phish – 9/1/12 “Light”

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Through the Hourglass

Posted in Uncategorized with the tags , , on September 3rd, 2012 by Mr.Miner

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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IT’s Brighter In Colorado

Posted in Uncategorized with the tags , , on September 2nd, 2012 by Mr.Miner

9.1.2012 Commerce City, PA (Michael Stein)

Armed with a devastating setlist and a centerpiece jam for the ages, Phish annihilated Dick’s for a second straight night, playing a show that stepped onto the top shelf of 2012. After Friday night, few could imagine how the band would follow a performance of such magnitude, but they did just fine and then some. Centering the show on a sublime 45-minute sequence of “Golden Age > Caspian > Light,” the band not only met their level of creativity on display on night one, but in the course of a single jam, surpassed it. I’m not sure where “Light” might fall on a Top Ten all-time jams list, but one can be sure its on there! Phish seems to have found a new home out here in the Rockies, feeling comfortable to let loose and tap into the source on a nightly basis, and the results have been nothing short of astounding.

Official Dick’s Print – Green (Stout)

A recap of a show that opened with “Antelope” for the first time since 1990, and featured a significant “Tweezer” in the first set would presumably lead with the opening half. But on a night when Phish played one of the greatest jams I have ever witnessed, first things must come first. Even a staggering second-set-opening couplet of “Golden Age” and, arguably, the greatest “Caspian” ever played must wait, because on this night, “Light” stole the entire show. Since the beginning of 2012, no song has consistently broke new ground than the metaphysical anthem, but last night, Phish used the modern vehicle to showcase where they are, musically, right now—and that place is Shangri-La. It’s been ages since the band has played such emotionally moving music on a routine basis. The level of interplay and communication between band members, at this point, is dialed in to the point of subconscious, and when everything clicks, “Light” happens.

9.1.12 (M.Stein)

Fusing just about everything they do into a single, all-encompassing jam, Phish unveiled a timeless piece of music that floored everyone in the stadium. When the band dropped into their modern staple for the final time of summer with astonishing momentum, everyone know we were in for something special. The band had been locked into IT since they stepped afoot Dick’s stage, but this was something else altogether; this was Phish at the most supreme level. Flowing between feels—never stagnant, but seeing ideas to fruition—the guys held nothing back. At one point, as they were deep into the excursion and slaying IT like we’ve never seen, it felt like they might just continue jamming forever and we’d all just transcend together; our own 2012 arrival. The energy that moved between the stage and every one in the stadium was so tangible—as the late WWF announcer, Gorilla Monsoon once said, “You could cut it with a knife!” This jam—musically and metaphysically—realized the meaning of Phish. Soaring through the universe on a flawless soundtrack, everyone felt locked into IT; the entire experience grew into something far larger than the magical music pouring from stage. But the music is stuff of instant legend. Seductive groove? Check. Percussive wonderment? Check. Bliss? Check. Darkness? Check. Totally original music? Check. Fluid, full-band rock peak? Check. And on and on and on. Honestly, I’ve heard this four times already, and damn if not’s one of the greatest moments in the history of Phish.

9.1.2012 (M. Stein)

But before the band even started the jam, they provided all sorts of musical adventure in “Golden Age” and “Prince Caspian.” When Phish played “Golden Age” amidst a weekend that feels like a celebration of all they’ve accomplished in this era, the cover had never felt so poignant. Perhaps the guys felt similarly, because they tore off a torrid chunk of music upon splashing into the jam. Not settling in pure funk, but moving into a more driving groove, the band shifted into “effortless” territory, where the music seemed to flow through them more so than from them. Pushing into uncharted waters, one could feel how “on” the guys were, and it reflected in the cohesion of their improv. And while the band was feeling IT, why not drop an all-time “Prince Caspian” that quickly challenged, if not vaulted over, Albany ‘97’s sprawling version to claim top billing? When the band has the Hose turned on full blast within an exploration of “Prince Caspian” (!?), one knew something momentous was going down; anybody in that soccer stadium can attest.

9.1.12 (M.Stein)

Instead of ending the song, the guys built out of the grungy feel of “Caspian” and into a seething jam of Sith-Phish. Blanketed in effects and layers of sonic sorcery, the music turned to the dark side the band showed that bliss isn’t the only direction they can move these days. Blossoming into heavy metal-esque territory without losing a semblance of groove, the guys virtuoso jamming took on a life of its own in “Caspian,” growling in monstrous form and enveloping the entire crowd. Sounding as if they might jam back into “Tweezer,” the band, instead, turned for the “Light,” and the rest is history.

Phish cooled down from this monstrous stretch of improv with a string of crowd favorites in “Boogie On,” “The Wedge,” and “Horse > Silent,” before dropping a “Mike’s Song” that few, if anyone, saw coming. Using Led Zeppelin’s “No Quarter” to bridge the “Groove,” the surprises kept coming in a weekend that is growing in stature with each passing set. And for that matter, let’s peak at the first.

9.1.2012 (Graham Lucas)

When Phish fired up the Denver crowd by opening the show with “Run Like an Antelope” for the first time since January 26, 1990, the set immediately continued surprise vibe left by Friday night’s face-fucking. And another unexpected twist came when the guys unfolded a multi-tiered “Tweezer”—Leg Two’s “Comeback Player of Tour”—that finished its season in style. Building a village of groove, the band started the jam with smooth rhythmic interplay that set a lampin’ tone early on. Sitting within this musical molasses for some time before  Trey’s took a solo, the band seemed on the brink of ending a solid first setter when they jammed right through the end of the song into a couple minutes of ambient-groove denouement. Filling the rest of the set with spicy renditions of well-selected songs, the band slammed down an action-packed opening frame that set the table for the musical drama to follow.

Phish can do no wrong right now, dropping into stunning jams at any time they choose. Locked in a Jordanian musical zone as they come to the close of Summer Tour, the guys are letting things hang out in their final shows until New Year’s Run. With one more to savor before we break for a while, the band is on top of the world, and they’ve brought all of us along.

I: Run Like an Antelope, Backwards Down the Number Line, Tweezer > Fluffhead, Roses Are Free, Funky Bitch, The Moma Dance, When the Circus Comes, Theme From the Bottom > Golgi Apparatus, Stealing Time From the Faulty Plan

II: Golden Age > Prince Caspian > Light, Boogie On Reggae Woman, The Wedge, The Horse > Silent in the Morning, Mike’s Song > No Quarter > Weekapaug Groove

E: Sleeping Monkey > Tweezer Reprise

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Posted in Uncategorized with the tags , , on September 1st, 2012 by Mr.Miner

8.31.2012 Commerce City, CO (Graham Lucas)

When Phish dropped “You Enjoy Myself” halfway through the first set, albeit a surprise, it felt totally out of place. They had just slayed an extended “Carini” that immediately vaulted into the elite versions of all time, and all of a sudden we were headed for a vocal jam? Nonetheless, Phish was on fire and throwing IT down. Halfway through “Ocelot,” my friend told me a theory someone had just hatched: the band was spelling “Fuck Your Face” with the first letter of each song. My first reaction was, “Really? Yeah, right.” Then we quickly went through the setlist—“First Tube,” “Uncle Pen,” “Carini,” “YEM,” Ocelot.” Really!? It seemed like a brilliant idea—referencing the “S” set from the first night at Dick’s last year—and I immediately believed. If the band played “Undermind” next, it was clearly going down. And boy did they ever play “Undermind!” Closing the first set with a staggering piece of cathartic improvisation, Phish wrote last night’s “Undermind” into the record books. With an uplifting piece of utter bliss, the band stamped a divine exclamation point on one of the best first sets of all time—and the setlist spelled “F.U.C.K.Y.O.U.”

Official Colorado Print—Blue (T.Stout)

It was one of those magical nights that only happen in Gamehendge; one of those shows that we will never forget; one that will live in legend forever. Drenched with jamming of the highest level—including two excursions in “Undermind” and “Chalk Dust” that easily flirt with the loftiest jams in band history—the first night at Dick’s 2012 contained more masterful improvisation than several “normal” shows combined. The guys were as thrilled to be in Colorado as much as we were, illustrated by their “Phish Love Dick’s” vocal jam in “YEM.” Trey was notably on from his solo in “First Tube,” and he played as well he ever has all night long. The entire band swam in IT throughout the show, cranking out mystical, uplifting music for the duration. Following a late-summer trend of bliss jams, the band added two of their best to date last night with “Undermind” and—easily— the greatest “Chalk Dust” ever played. Phish feels great these days, as Trey admitted openly on Denver’s KBCO yesterday morning, and that feeling is permeating their music. With every jam last night, Phish reached points of rapture and exhilaration, sculpting their most spiritually significant night of music in memory.

8.31.12 (G.Lucas)

At setbreak, everyone hypothesized how the band would spell “R.F.A.C.E.” in the second half. My call was “Rock and Roll > Free, Crosseyed > Esther,” but I wound up going 0-4 in my guesses, which was all part of the face-fucking theme of the evening. Starting out the set with the first long-form “Runaway Jim” since Miami ’03 (but that was slop, so really, the E Center on 7.3.2000), the band dropped an exploratory epic that touched on incredibly diverse feels from wah-clav ’97 dance-funk to ambient, etheral realms. About halfway through, the band “reset” the jam into groove, and from that point out, it only grew in grandeur. Reaching several remarkable planes, the guys continued to gravitate towards the euphoric at every opportunity. An exploration that likened the old days, but with the music of Phish 2012, this one couldn’t have been a bigger surprise. After playing “Farmhouse,” however, Phish set up the prank of the night.

8.31.12 (G.Lucas)

Building a several minute ambient intro, it was all but clear that “Also Sprach Zarathustra”—better known as “2001”—would be the next song. But throwing a left hook that nobody saw coming, the band dropped into “Alaska!” Causing a collective groan from much of the audience, the fake out was an incredibly Phishy maneuver. It soon became part of the joke—the band played the best show of the year with “Farmhouse” and “Alaska” in the middle of the second set! When the guys kicked into “Chalk Dust” for “C,” they simply unveiled the best version of all-time. If you love Phish, and you love inspired guitar playing from one, Trey Anastasio, this jam is as good as it gets. Connecting on every level—another theme of the night—the band improvised out of the end of the song and into heaven. Combined with “Undermind,” these two pieces have instantly earned plaques in the Hall of Fame that are being chiseled as I type. This music was the stuff of dreams. Highlighted by four magnificent jams—totaling a ludicrous 68 minutes of top-shelf Phish—the band’s music spoke for itself last night; an aural revelation of the highest degree. And the face-fucking wasn’t over.

8.31.2012 (Graham Lucas)

At setbreak, the only song anyone could think of that started with “E” was “Esther”—an odd closer, but what else could they play? As fans were catching their breath from an intergalactic “Chalk Dust,” the guys started the Rolling Stones “Emotional Rescue” for the first time since September 30, 2000! After spelling it out, the band closed the set with “Fuck Your Face,” a song that I thought would be the encore. But Phish came out to a with a double encore of “Grind” and “Meatstick,” a pairing that put a comical twist on the theme of the night.

A combination of the mountain air, the great energy of the crowd and the end of a spectacular summer converged to cause a musical bolt of lighting last night in Colorado. And nobody can wait to get back into that soccer stadium tomorrow night! This has been a special year for Phish, and they are capping it with their most impressive playing of the season. It has been a blessing to watch the band climb back to prominence since 2009, and to see them reaching new heights, never previously touched, is the greatest reward one could ever ask for.

I: First Tube, Uncle Pen, Carini, Kill Devil Falls, You Enjoy Myself, Ocelot, Undermind

II: Runaway Jim > Farmhouse > Alaska, Chalk Dust Torture, Emotional Rescue > Fuck Your Face

Encore: Grind, Meatstick

8.31.2012 (Graham Lucas)

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