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. mayhem Says:

    you got mail corncob

  2. Exree Hipp Says:

    Anyone who’s got a PS3 or Xbox or anything else that can run a YouTube app should use it to stream mkdevo’s channel to their TV/stereo. I have last night’s show running in HD with SBD audio on my TV right now. And his angle is just perfect. Honestly I prefer it to the quick-cut webcast style. He hangs back and lets you take in the light show in real time.

    mkdevo, whoever you are, if you’re reading this, huge props. Keep up the good work.

  3. punkmug Says:

    No AUDs on etree yet!? Weird.

  4. jaredprox Says:

    Why so down on BDTNL and Ocelot? I thought they both contained interesting, deep work. For me, the downer was RnR–>2001. The way RnR quickly (oddly) dissolved into space, I was expecting something special to emerge. Instead, 2001…

    A lot to love about this show though!…which you already covered. Deep, full sound throughout. Thanks for all the reviews!

  5. Stoney Case Says:

    Exree, I’m not a big video guy, and I agree with you 1000%. Mkdevo does a great service. I often throw his stuff up and just listen, video an afterthought.
    He gets mad love on Twitter.

  6. Exree Hipp Says:

    It’s awesome that he does these videos in the first place but I can’t say enough about how great the stream is on my TV. Full HD, great sound, and he puts a lot of thought into why he’s framing the way he does. Great work.

  7. DavidSilver Says:

    Realtilli delurks from Scotland to drop tough tix on the BB. Mad Respek. Stick around. Hope Dicks slays for you.

  8. Boris Says:

    Don’t get this twisted, I am stoked to finally be seeing the boys again, but man can they finally just drop RnR and Drowned? It’s time.

  9. vegas wolfmans Says:

    After a few listens, I love this GA. Table was set for them to go big on that twist. Extremely well played, just not deep enough for the 2 hole. So it goes. #line’d

  10. vegas wolfmans Says:

    I thought Drowned had been shelved and was due for a comeback this summer? Think they may have only played it in AC last year.

  11. Boris Says:

    i hope mkdevo is hitting the first night in alpharetta


  12. DaNcInG fOoL Says:

    So I think it was a pretty promising start to tour. Not complaining. Though I’ll admit I would have been a bit disappointed if I made the trip out there. Still this is gonna be one hell of a tour!

  13. Boris Says:

    Just watched the Stash. I guess you could say Trey has gotten better at utilizing this whammy pedal of his. Still not the biggest fan, but it is better than the whale blows of old.

  14. stapes Says:

    I need to buy mkdevo a few beers. Actually many, many beers.

    Loving the more old school and simpler light rig. Liking Trey’s tone in the 1st set so far. Time to get into this GA.

    Expecting big things this year. Trying to have no expectations.

  15. stapes Says:

    Interesting to observe that the Whale seemed to dissipate with the use of the Ocedoc. Then last night, in set one at least, Trey uses the older axe and the Whale seems to start poking his head out a little more. Overall tone seems more 1.0/2.0 than 3.0 to my ears as well. No techie here just a Phish geek’s thoughts.

  16. P.S.H.S Says:

    Trey used old faithful for the first set-bdtnl, the ocedoc for ocelot on. Nice to hear the old sound, but I noticed a big difference once the new axe came back out, for the better IMO. Also noticed fish got some new drums too, not a whole new set, but I think the wood grain ones are new, also a new/different bass drum. As far as the lights go, the setup for Bangor looked like a hand with two thumbs, one one each side. More regular can lights as opposed to having all laser type 360 deg ones.

    Playing seemed slow last night, but not in a bad way. Everything was played pretty well, no one stepping on anyone’s toes, hood stood out as slower than normal

  17. tela's_muff Says:

    If that Goladen Age is a sign of what’s to come hold on. Slowed down funk with some jazzy undertones. Sick sick shit there. Loved how trey took that Antelope in a new direction on a dime. Promising highlights. Not sure what was deep about bdtnl or ocelot. Either way, excited for Spac.

  18. Snigglebeach Says:

    My only complaint of the night was not showcasing even a piece of new material. C’mon Troy. You can play a mike original. Wouldn’t kill you.

  19. Dr Pronoia Says:

    Tomorrow is going to be a blowout, if only bc I’m not going to make the haul up there and back for it. Would miss too much good family time for a SPAC lawn experience. So it’ll be cast and couch ter for me this summer

    Dr pro will go pro this Fall

  20. kayatosh Says:

    Thanks, phishm for weighing in.

    Welcome, realtilli.

  21. kayatosh Says:

    Exree: thanks for the mkdevo tip. Gonna try that on the smart tv tonight. Latest ssmsungsmsrt tv hsve crazy apps and web browser.

  22. Dr Pronoia Says:

    Wow, delurking since 09 from Scotland?!

    Stick around Realtilli

  23. MiA Says:

    And I’m one step ahead of the shoe shine
    Two steps away from the county line
    Just trying to keep my customers satisfied,

    Deputy Sheriff said to me
    Tell me what you come here for, boy.
    You better get your bags and flee.
    You’re in trouble boy,
    And now you’re heading into more.

  24. plord Says:

    MiA that tune was the exit music last night, for real.

    You catch that on a vid or something?

  25. Mr.Miner Says:

    you can hit up @mkdevo on twitter

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