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. Willowed Says:

    46 days-Steam.

    Hot ass phish.

  2. voopa Says:


  3. Snigglebeach Says:

    The show was well played. I thought from beginning to end they just played a real laid back show. Soulful. The exact opposite of the Saturday night rocker. I think that is coming.

    Lightning in the distance was nice during slave.

    That new song really did not work at all though.

  4. Monsterpus Says:

    Trey likes his Elephant 6 bands. Elf Power cover next, that I would welcome

  5. Lycanthropist Says:

    My thoughts:

    Enjoyed the show. I thought that they were obviously trying to shake things up with interesting song choices and pushing jams. There was some great work in Bowie and some multi-layered improvisation all throughout the second set.

    I do feel like Trey was a bit disconnected from the band. I don’t know if it was him or the band, but at the time I felt like Fish and Mike kept fizzling out and leaving him and page kind of out to dry.

    I need to listen to funk breakdown of 46 days, but it seemed kind of aimless and kept waiting for Fishman to sink in with the beat.

    Light never defined itself, but explored a lot of territory, some really beautiful jamming at the end.

    Drowned was a beautiful late set treat and at the very least is very exciting to see them trying to reinvigorate the back end of set 2s.

    I thought the whale was over used just a tad, but I generally don’t mind the whale in his arsenal.

    Not sure if Steam worked or not either. Gotta check it out again.

    Overall though just huge pockets of creativity and unpredictability made for an interesting show and another forward step in what is looking to be a unique tour in 3.0

  6. Lycanthropist Says:

    Oh yeah and Energy was lame no matter which way you slice it.

  7. Mr. Palmer Says:

    I thought set 2 was great. Flowed perfect for me. Who knows?

  8. Boris Says:

    Trey’s playing in Steam was pretty cringe worthy. That’s a bummer.

  9. butter Says:

    That show was fucking awesome. Goodnight

  10. Iriewalton Says:

    Who knows indeed? Yet people keep coming back, so that says something either about their performance or the missed opportunity.

    Haven’t heard a lick but the wide range of feelings about this one has me intrigued. Headed up to Hood, tomorrow, and staying at Timberline lodge, so I look forward to taking in these next two shows via the app while vaping tuff and looking out over the Cascades.

    Bring on the Gorge! Rage Spac folks and remember: this is just night 2!!

  11. sumodie Says:

    Beer in hand at last! This 2 hours sleep at home thang is nutz…

    …band is gaining steam! Much to enjoy about tonight….


    “Notes: After Birds of a Feather, Page pointed out Ian in the crowd from “Ian’s Farm” fame and waxed nostalgic about playing there while also noting that SPAC was one of the band’s favorite venues.”

  12. sumodie Says:


    First time played: Yarmouth Road (Mike Gordon), Energy (The Apples In Stereo)

    So don’t blame Tory for writing/naming that one. Wasn’t sure what I thought in person

  13. sumodie Says:

    The Apples in Stereo – Energy

  14. Willowed Says:

    430 am. Still up. Long night.

    46 days – steam. Yes please.

  15. Willowed Says:

    Today is going to be a long day.

  16. Willowed Says:

    Hey mr p. how was that 2nd set.

  17. Willowed Says:

    Funny. Thing mr p is sitting across from me at the table.

  18. Mr. Palmer Says:

    Loved it.

    Kind of dissapointed to learn Energy wasn’t an original. This will be their new Golden Age. Indi Trey.

  19. Willowed Says:

    That energy was going places I thought. Then they pulled it for light. So I’m cool with it.

  20. RoosterPizza Says:

    Butter X2!

  21. Fly Says:

    Set 2 was pure melt. Absolutely crushed. A top 3.0 show without question, IMHO. Light>Mango. Perfect. 46 Days>Steam. Perfect. A very nice Drowned and then an epic Slave to ice it.

    Flawless victory. Don’t judge this one by its cover.

  22. punkmug Says:

    Just getting around to checking out set 1. I’m not big on this new Mike song. The reggae lyrical flow needs some work. ..the whole song needs work. Moma had a little extra sauce, otherwise pretty tame set 1 so far. Gin just starting now..

    Set 2 on the webcast last was pretty sweet last night. Especially from the second half of the Light jam and on.

  23. Mcgggg Says:

    I know everyone has a different cover that they would love to hear…. But I still think Road to Shambala by Three Dog Night would fit so well into a set and the happy vibe they got going these days.

  24. Stoney Case Says:

    I’m sure the live scene is crushing. Full on celebration dance party. I think the band sounds not good at all to me on tape right now. 3 headed monster with the 4th head stuck on broadway or something. Spun Light on the headphones. Dug last 3 mins.

    I realize it may just be a few of us. Sounds like Trey is WAY off.

    Gonna try and stay away today. Don’t want to sour the Apples in the Stereo. Miss you fools more than Phish right now.

  25. kayatosh Says:

    somebody dl code me.

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