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. DaNcInG fOoL Says:

    nice stash.

    so no ocedoc??

  2. kayatosh Says:

    take it back it looked less than hd.

  3. kayatosh Says:

    funny, phlorida. nope. still have the reel mower. pain in the ass. good workout.

  4. MiA Says:

    Ocedoc came back second set I heard.

    I agree with Darth Plinko though. Good mixup. Keep it fresh

  5. Lifeboyo Says:

    Anyone seen copies of the soundcheck floating around?

  6. Lycanthropist Says:

    Not a lot of talk about the Hood, but sounds far more confident than usual.

  7. DaNcInG fOoL Says:

    is it actually a new light rig, or is it just bieber’s rig?

  8. sumodie Says:

    Happy 4th! Get ready for SPACattack

  9. Mdawg Says:

    Great show! Solid review. Thank you Mr. Miner

  10. phlorida phan Says:

    Never used a reel mower, gotta have a self propelled down here with this thick ass st.augustine grass. Or just mow down hill each way.

  11. Mdawg Says:

    Lights were awesome! Lots of new scenes and chases. Used the back stage screen instead of the now missing circle screens. Stage setup has Fishman centered and slightly back. He is not really behind them from what it looked like. Rolling Stone interview said new stage plot was so Trey didn’t need extra monitors.

  12. Dr_Braun_Schitzmir Says:

    From back on page 2: “Fall tour is for the professionals.”

    That made me smile. I couldn’t agree more!

  13. Dr_Braun_Schitzmir Says:

    So happy that you guys got the slow, GA, open-air sound last night. It’s the stuff (my) dreams are made of.

  14. alf Says:

    spac tweezer

    thanks for the review miner. see you tomorrow comrades!

  15. phishm Says:

    Kaya – Just on page 3, but I do the webcast through my PS3 to my tv. If you are getting light to play then the webcast should be no problem. You just need flash for it to work. I don’t have a smart tv, but it’s no stupid either. ha ha. Seriously, I’m sure those new tv’s come with a browser and imbedded flash. You should be good.

  16. phishm Says:

    embedded. Sorry, hungover.

  17. Spasm Waiter Says:

    I did the whole Bieber tour and if that isn’t his rig than I am a monkeys uncle. Shit was straight fire all Bieber tour. Trey is busting the goth angel outfit in merriweather I heard.

  18. phlorida phan Says:

    My samsung doesn’t have a browser, just apps like youtube. It’s 2 yrs old though, maybe newer ones has one. Same here with the ps3, works like a champ.

  19. KOOKS Says:

    And it was ALRIGHT! And it was ALL RIGHT!

  20. SillyWilly Says:

    good morning, kids

    safe travels to spac everyone.

    kids get out of their apartment lease early so they have more cash for tour.

  21. realtilli Says:

    hello BB, i tried to post here yesterday on the eve of tour, but being a first timer my post got moderated until now, so was probably not seen. so here goes again:

    i have one gen adm for Fri night BGC and one Sect G1 row 4 for Hollywood Bowl to get rid of. If any BBer can make good use of either, let me know, otherwise I’ll put them on cashortrade.

    I’m based in Scotland, so will have to express post tickets once i receive them.

    started listening in ’95, first show was 7-21-96, followed by 22 more so far. stumbled upon this place fall ’09 probs, and have been lurking ever since! the BB is my favourite location for checking on the vibe following every show, not the least because of the positive atmosphere and intellectual breadth of discussions.

    I haven’t been to a show since 8, but i WILL be at Dick’s all three nights (woohoo!), maybe meet some of you good folks there.

    listening to last night right now and am psyched.
    Have fun at SPAC, lucky people!

  22. DaNcInG fOoL Says:

    SPAC Gumbo!

  23. garretcorncob Says:

    Howdy kids, Happy America Day.

    Trying to do the no spoilers SBD thing again here this summer, so if anybody can hook it up with a dl link via email I’d be much obliged and would be happy to give you first crack at buying this bridge I happen to have possession of at present.

    garretconour at gmail

  24. DaNcInG fOoL Says:


  25. MiA Says:

    Realtilli, I think there are still folks looking for BGCA.

    Great to see so many lurkers unlurking

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