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”

  1. MiA Says:

    Happy 4th to everyone

  2. Matso Says:

    And agreed re: Fishman – that boy has been practising!

  3. bouncin fan Says:

    on possum. I always thought the Ocedoc didn’t have the color and sustain at higher gain levels than the old guitars

    spinnin possum now seems to have more of that singin screamin gain back again

    maybe he’s bored of the less gainy more sharp grit stones/litte feat action of the ocedoc

    either way noticing better tone control and more of that traditional creamy high gain traditional Trey tone. still could be a bit hotter still to sound like 1.0/2.0 tones.

    band sounds tight though on possum.

    looks like a great set opener. but Mike’s > Silent > Week is some funny shit fiery or not. pretty much the worse possible sandwich other than Mike’s > Jenny Dances > Week

    gonna try to avoid the webcasts they fuck with my head
    off to whole foods for some grillin materials
    take in the rest of this set in the car
    laterz comrades

    hah the whale haters are back
    can’t wait to rock my fatty whalers hat this summer
    laterz comrades

  4. bouncin fan Says:

    another that feels fish’s time seems better so far in this set I. more crisp and fluid. not as lazy and wavering. real active in this runaway which used to be one his monsters to throw his chops down on.

  5. Mr. Palmer Says:

    Spac Tweezer.

  6. Phamily Berzerker Says:

    Rudolfo Says:
    July 4th, 2013 at 4:31 am
    “To properly christen 2013″, not “properly Christian “.

    ^Whoa there, chico! You are doing Gcorncobs’s job. Why don’t you sit back and show a little gratitude? Entendido?

  7. Phamily Berzerker Says:

    You know it’s phish tour when the firs thing you do on a holiday morning nearly off the grid is fire up the laptop to catch a review.

    Nice write up, Señor Miner!

  8. Unit Monster Says:

    Set sounds pretty tame. That magic that Miner mentioned when describing Ventura 97-98 in Phish weaving a magical setlist is something lost to the ages. Will we ever get a start to stop barn burning, Type II, III filled gems, a collective story that is told by four musicians? Please yes and please at SPAC / especially Saturday where I rage the Orch Pit. After being to over 10 SPAC shows, I never got the privileged ticket or the balls to make it to the pit. SPAC is a completely different experience fromt he inside versus the obstructed lawn.

  9. 20 Minute Halleys Says:

    Here we go! Happy Fourth! My GF is yelling at me right now to get breakfast and I am yelling at her to leave early for SPAC! Great review Miner, glad that you are back as well. You are a crafty wordsmith, and somehow bring what we hear to life with your keen phrasing. I love it!

  10. Capt obvious Says:

    I expected Miner to be more down on this show. Plenty of good average Phish, but pretty generic set list and in the box playing except golden age

  11. HeadyBrosevelt Says:

    happy summer tour. stoked it began. what are people’s thoughts on fishman playing in the back as opposed to fish side? does it matter? do you have a preference? i always preferred fish side- it may be nostalgia and my personal thought that phish is a linear being, where time and space can become infinite- a line is infinite. however, as long as they play well crafted, risk taking music, i don’t care where he plays. have fun to all of those going to spac. phish phish phish love love love.

  12. 4thDimension Says:

    Jim stash wolfmans mikes and some unrealized but creative intent in weekapaug made the 1st set pretty darn respectable. I agree w miner, that’s mikes delivered for a bit. GA has so many subtleties, when page jumped on the rhodes it got very special. #line ocelot played well but show really flatenned till antelope. Lots of very good signals from bangor, everybody should be relatively thrilled about direction here. Love these open air venues, forget sheds. The sound at venue was truly exceptional

  13. Spasm Waiter Says:

    No breeze last night must have contributed to the great sound. Also, if I recall correctly, the glory hole jam has some tasteful whale-ing. No complaints on that so far… I groove the judicious and tasteful use of whale. whole show, maybe not.

  14. jtran Says:

    morning comrades

    see you at spac tomorrow

  15. Phamily Berzerker Says:

    Get Some, JTtan!

  16. 4thDimension Says:

    Kids were absolutely ripping the dance moves during wolfmans mikes and bGA … This slow tempo elevated all the groove pieces last night. You could rage but not sweat last nite. Lots of families and old Mainers in the pit last nite. Pretty good crowd although still idiots throwing sticks at the band, kills me

  17. Spasm Waiter Says:

    What could possibly possess someone to throw anything at the band? Instant removal from the venue would be my rec… or instant public shaming.

  18. 4thDimension Says:

    I wish there were some broadly distributed etiquette guides or solutions to protect the band. Its so hard to combine a sacred setting with a party setting. Fall tour is for the professionals …

  19. MiA Says:

    Golden (P)age.

    He was ready to use every sound in front of him and had tons of ideas in that jam.

  20. Marcoesq Says:

    Morning all…haven’t listened to a note from last night yet. Sounds like good reviews. Crunchy groove have up yet? Anyone got a dl link?

  21. Dorn76 Says:

    Sweet laid back Trey. Not even a hint of a jam cut short by his impatience. It’s going to be a great Summer.

    Logistical and muddy mess, friends all schwilly, but a blast nonetheless. Looking forward to a solo run to SPAC Saturday.

    Ocelot seemed extended at the time. Headspace’d.

  22. DavidSilver Says:

    Golden Page is $$$ tshirt worthy

  23. marcoesq Says:

    found on Cgroove…GA sounds pretty tight…Mike’s phaser gets nasty

  24. RoosterPizza Says:

    Re: Throwing glowsticks at the band

    How about a public glow sticking instead of a stoning. Just bury these fuck wads up to the chest on shakedown and give people 5 sticks to fire at them for a dollar. Send the profits over to the Water Wheel.

  25. albert walker Says:

    Theme def best jam of set I

    stash a bit messy and wolfs tight but typical 3.0 template. but you can tell trey worked on that one a bit cuz after nailin the bridge and build for the first time he nailed a fiery well written out dirty peaked solo

    on tape peak of set I imo

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