Vibes that Rise Like Fireflies

7.3.2013 (R MacNeill)

7.3.2013 – Bangor (Ryan MacNeill)

Trey mentioned to Rolling Stone, in an article published only hours before Bangor’s tour opener, that the band’s extended layoff had him feeling “bottled up.” If I might speak for the entire Phish fan base, allow me to say the feeling was mutual. But in one fell swoop, we all kicked off this long-awaited 30th Anniversary celebration together in Bangor, Maine on the eve of the nation’s birthday. Beginning with an idyllic afternoon in which the band’s jaw dropping, free form soundcheck could booming through town and wrapping up with an incredibly appropriate centerpiece of “Golden Age,” Phish provided a stellar “Welcome to Summer” experience to everyone in their community.

Bangor Official (J. Rothman)

Bangor Official (J. Rothman)

The opening—and more complete—set of the show carried a distinctly retro song list with nary a lull. Solid performances of “Possum” and “Runaway Jim” set the table for the seemingly-always-first-jam of tour, “Stash.” Set against the backdrop of dusk on the river, this piece got everyone’s juices flowing for the spunky “Wolfman’s” that lurked just around the corner. Notably unbotched versions of “Rift” and “Theme” paved the way for the unquestionable highlight of the frame—”Mike’s Song.” And damn it feels good to write that! Opening up the hackneyed guitar-solo anchored jam, Trey began plucking staccato leads over a minimalist, though menacing, backdrop, and I thought my head might explode. Just hearing creativity infused into the “Mike’s” was like the best Christmas morning ever. Did the jam grow out of structure? Not for a minute, but the band’s approach was diametrically opposed to the cookie-cutter versions sprinkled throughout modern shows. And when they closed the set with “Weekapaug,” one couldn’t help but think, “It’s all happening.”

To properly christen 2013, the thirtieth year since their birth, the band threw down the defining version of “Golden Age” to date. A wide-open, jazz drenched conversation showcased the intellects of the four onstage marksman as it veered far from the half-realized funk patterns of yesteryear into a full-blown freak scene. Think of a late-’70s Grateful Dead funk jam inspected through the lens of modern Phish and you might get a sense of the sonic palette on display in this excursion. The space within the music was astounding, leaving seemigly cavernous gaps for band members to insert their ideas and respond to each other. The virtuoso collaboration between Trey and Page was worth the price of admission, alone. Interestingly, after discussing with a buddy only days ago how little Trey uses his wah-pedal anymore, he put the effect on center stage during this “Golden Age” painting the textures with one subtly wah’ed out note after another. In the same Rolling Stone article, Trey swore, “bands are chemistry. They are nothing but chemistry.” Well, that sound byte resonated across Bangor’s waterfront field as the four alchemists from Burlington, Vermont concocted a stunning tale to open up a summer of dreams.

7.3.13 (R.MacNeill)

7.3.13 (R.MacNeill)

But the set took a downturn at this point. After landing the opening jaunt in contained “Twist,” the band placed two Joy songs—”Number Line” and “Ocelot”—in the wheel house of the second set and did nothing with them. I was sure that when the band inserted “Ocelot” where “Tweezer” usually goes that it would finally get some creative loving. But it wasn’t to be and the band seemed to have hit a cruise control right when the show should have been getting juicier. “Rock and Roll” seemed like it might bolster the cause, but the jam was cut, almost awkwardly, to initiate a couple-minute build up into “2001.” Though “Zarathustra” contained some choice licks amidst a laid-back groovescape, the band’s arrival at the tune was less than climactic and it’s placement felt a bit pre-calculated. And just when you thought “Cavern” was ending the show, the band tacked on an “Antelope” and came up with the most profound version of 3.0—by far.

“Antelope” had all but lost it’s place in the modern Pantheon of Phish songs, but on this date—exactly 19 years from its ’94 fireworks-punctuated outing at Old Orchard Beach, Maine—the song was resurrected. I had no thoughts of this jam being anything more than a feel-good rocker to close the night, but mid-build, Trey just opened it up and glory ensued. Bringing to mind thoughts of the Spring ’94 Wiltern version, the band coyly slid out of raging structure for far blissier territory, quickly creating the second-in-command highlight of the night and—essentially—salvaging the set. Seamlessly re-merging with the song’s theme, people’s minds had to be shattered as the band headed for home on notably high gear.

7.3.2013 (R. MacNeill)

7.3.2013 (R. MacNeill)

And what better way to encore a classics-based setlist than with “Harry Hood.” Laying way back in this jam, Trey took his time building it into something far  more than an afterthought. Blossoming a melodic tangent, this extended take on their cathartic opus felt like the perfect way to end the opening night of this month-long celebration. And without experiencing the true throwdown that so many recent tour-openers have entailed, the possibilities are even more limitless than they would be heading into a holiday-weekend three-pack in Saratoga Springs.

Happy 4th of July!

I: Possum, Runaway Jim, Stash, NICU, Wolfman’s Brother, Rift, Theme From the Bottom, Chalk Dust Torture, Mike’s Song > Silent in the Morning > Weekapaug Groove

II: Golden Age > Twist, Backwards Down the Number Line, Ocelot, Rock and Roll > Also Sprach Zarathustra > Cavern, Run Like an Antelope

E: Harry Hood


REMINDER: SPAC Art Show on Saturday!


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876 Responses to “Vibes that Rise Like Fireflies”

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  1. Spasm Waiter Says:

    Sweet review Miner. Not straight fire but laced with some very promising style and crispy highlights.

  2. phoammhead Says:

    Good to be hood . … sounds like it was a good time.

  3. getafix Says:

    Awesome write up!
    so glad they are back and are on!
    see you at SPAC!

  4. Foul_Domain Says:

    Nice review, Miner. Can’t wait to give the whole show a spin.

    mkdevo already has a few vids up on YT…Pretty slick Wolfman’s

  5. Spasm Waiter Says:

    Fired up for Spac to say the least. Fridah will rage methinks.

  6. willowed Says:

    This all just feels right!

    It’s been quite a while since I ran down to my computer after waking up and pulled up Miner’s site.

  7. Matso Says:

    Return of the whale? I’ve listened to a fair bit of set 1 and the wah peddle is definitely back (was also in that 1 minute video).

  8. Foul_Domain Says:

    Listening to this Jim, I really think Trey needs to lay off that whale pedal. IMO, it gets in the way of his ability to develop and build themes within his solos. Seems to be a distraction at times.

  9. getafix Says:

    new stage set up huh?
    Fishman no longer on stage left

  10. Plopcopter Says:

    Best antelope of 3.0 by far? A bold statement to make so close after the show…..but another great review keep it up!

  11. dusty Says:

    Whales back huh? At least Hartford kids get something. Stoked about their energy for tour opener.

  12. Rudolfo Says:

    “To properly christen 2013”, not “properly Christian “.

  13. Adam P Says:

    The whale is the worst.

  14. Matso Says:

    The last time I saw shows was in 2010, when the whale was all over every jam. I would be a teeny tiny bit pissed off if Trey abused that peddle again this summer when I’m finally seeing the band again. Hopefully he’ll have it worked out of his system by the time we get to Chicago…

  15. jdub Says:

    I’ll let you guys have fun with breaking down the music. Miner’s take seems pretty spot on. Said to my wife during soundcheck jam that it would be the best jam of the night…. But the band was super tight all night long. Fully enjoyed the Golden Age and Antelope bookends. Lots to be excited for tour.

    The venue was amazing, Phish in Bangor just go so well together. My 2 kids 1st show and it was a huge success. They had a blast! So easy we may have to do it again soon. I’m looking at you Dick’s

    Onto SPAC and more Soundcheck jams.

  16. Fly Says:

    Crowd was trashed. IMHO definitely influenced the RAWK. 4th’d.

    Bangor Soundcheck Jam was the best I’ve heard them play in 3.0. Play that on stage and the world might just turn inside out.

    To SPAC!

  17. weebey Says:

    thoughts on new lights?

  18. jdub Says:

    Mid second set whaled out Ocelot left me thinking about my wife’s last show. 6/17/10. Felt like he had better use/control of it last night though. We’ll see how it plays out. May have to bust out the Hartford Whakecallers shirt for SPAC to exorcize the demon.

  19. Mr.Miner Says:

    Can’t believe all the whale speak. Didn’t notice it in the jams of the night a la stash, wolf, golden (!!), lope or hood

  20. MiA Says:

    Listening to the whole show on crunchy. That whammy pedal really really puts me off due to its pitchyness. The wah pedal (used in Golden Age) really really gets me excited. Glad to see him stepping on that again.

    I wouldn’t necessarily call Rift unbotched though.

    Seems like set I was mostly pre-95, Set II mostly post ’95. Obviously not cavern, antelope and hood.

  21. MiA Says:

    They are solid though. Loving this theme. Great sounding SBD’s.

  22. MiA Says:

    Liking the new posters too to end my trifecta of posts.

    Great writeup Miner

  23. jdub Says:

    Last nights DL code 604521643058

  24. plord Says:

    Nice Miner. I was wondering if the Lope would be enough to save the set in your mind, glad to hear it was. LivePhish says 13:51, I could have sworn it was longer. A MON-STAH.

    Whale did not dominate my hearing of nor enjoyment of the show. It’s there, but so were a lot of straight up bluesy bends and patient whole-band communication. Tons and tons of space for each other all night long.

    If the whale bugs you, key in on Fishman when you hear it. He has been woodshedding and was tight as fuck.

    Gotta get on the road or I’ll miss fireworks on the homefront. Later peeps.

  25. Matso Says:

    I admit, probably making a mountain out of molehill with this whale stuff. I’ve only listened to Possum, Jim, Stash, Mike’s and Paug. Only the Jim and Stash are proper whale fests, but the results are more enjoyable than some of the jams in 2010. It’s just my least favourite Trey mode.

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