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. Stoney Case Says:

    Phism called us nuts. You’re clearly drunk 😛

  2. kayatosh Says:

    right on, tela’s. respect your take. looking fwd. to spinning that set II. awake now but sleeping for steam and drowned. need to get my shit together.

  3. vegas wolfmans Says:


  4. Boris Says:

    Mike looks like Lyle Lovett

  5. Foul_Domain Says:

    There were some nice moments, no doubt. The Light jam got nice toward the end and 46 days smoked. I’m sure they could drop a heater tomorrow night, I’m just saying that Trey was a mess tonight.

  6. tela'smuff Says:

    ha. that i am.

    love ya’ll. feeling the community and the music tonight and look forward to more of that in the next month or so.

  7. Boris Says:

    Trey was a mess how? Bad notes? Was/is he on something?

  8. Stoney Case Says:

    Kaya and all

  9. phishm Says:

    Trey was in the zone from where I was listening from. Weird.

  10. Stoney Case Says:

    Telas I’m on Michigan beer tour. Hit me with some recs. had some two hearted, mad hatter IPA, Diabolical IPA and a Founders IPA

  11. Stoney Case Says:

    Great. Phishm moved to Canada. Guessing Trey introduced this Energy song.


  12. Stoney Case Says:

    For my third post in a row:

    Can’t wait for Miner to come on and exclaim:

    “You guys are bitching about the whale again?!?”

  13. tela'smuff Says:

    don’t know shit about MI beer. you’re on your own. i count on @AJ to give me midwest recs at this point. kids a straight up player now in the craft beer world.

  14. Boris Says:

    Energy is a really gay ass song

  15. Monsterpus Says:

    Apples in Stereo do the Powder Puff Girls theme song, no? (Don’t all pretend you don’t know) Kickdown for Trey’s kids

  16. punkmug Says:

    Stoney, Some of those variation beers of Mad Hatter IPA are pretty nice. They have a Black IPA version that’s good. The Rye version is good too.

  17. Stoney Case Says:

    Thx P-mug. At 2 a day pace I can try a bunch if different ones.

    Can’t say I’m hoping Energy stays in rotation. On Light now.

  18. tela'smuff Says:

    i really disliked the “something’ of energy, i direct it all towards it being cheesy. maybe AiS play it cool, but it came off cheesy. Hands on a Hardbody stylie. but the set quickly rebounded.

  19. punkmug Says:

    Here in MN they are at a great price point for a 22oz at 5.50 a bottle.

  20. Boris Says:

    jesus, were the lights doing a rainbow dance motif during “energy” cause my god






  21. punkmug Says:

    Alright. Goodnight folks. See some of you soon. Later.

  22. bouncin fan Says:

    pretty sure that energy track is on this record.

  23. Stoney Case Says:

    Night all. Some nice listening work between about 11:00-14:00 of the light.

  24. bouncin fan Says:

    I’m a trey basher of all trey bashers but he def had his moments tonight

    Bowie was smoking. he also took a bit to hook up at times in the light jam and had nothin to offer in cities but I think he a few more creative ideas tonight that set I.

    4 or 5 more shows trey will catch up to fish and page but I think set II flowed well had hip songs and had the intent to have some creative energy.

    not best set II of the return but big jump from night I and they didn’t mail it in late they still brought a nice drowned.

    whale is fine it’s trey that’s rusty. all the best jams of 3.0 have heavy whale. trey just needs to get more on point. will take a few.

    night comrades

  25. Boris Says:


    This light is GOOOOOOOD. FUCK YES!!! HOPE.

    Thank you Obi Wan.

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