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:

    No, I was just feeling it. That’s awesome.

  2. MiA Says:

    Mike seriously badasses up this Bangor 2001. Trey almost could have been voted off the island and this 2001 would survive without him.

  3. phishm Says:

    Seems like that’s the case on a lot of the cut jams. Wonder why Trey doesn’t like to jam anymore? When he does it seems forced. It’s almost like he doesn’t like where it leads him. Then again it’s one show and the GA was very good. Most of the show reminded me of the New Years run. Just wasn’t what I expected. Shitty stream and all. Hope he gets more comfortable opening things up.
    Take some chances Trey, It’s why we come. IMO.

  4. voopa Says:

    TAB Liquid Time 4/20/13 = $$$
    This tune only tangentially resembles Dire Straits. Great jam at the end.
    And now, LML. Next please.

  5. Stoney Case Says:

    Troy the enigma. Enjoy the ride folks. At least we are not in:


  6. realtilli Says:

    listening to that Antelope with my goodnight whisky.

    one of the reasons for lurking so long is that normally when i read the BB (morning after a show), most of you are sleeping.

  7. realtilli Says:

    Bangor has a patient vibe to me, starting with that Jim.
    building up for the 30th note by note

  8. Stoney Case Says:

    Real do u have those BGCA tix? If not ill take em.

    Humboldtrob at ghee mail

  9. ElJefe Says:

    The Mkdevo vids have gotten me super stoked.. Not a whale fan at all but listening to the soundboards w the vid lets you hear the whole note(s) from start to finish clearly.. Like what I’m hearing…especially Trey and Page interplay… Super sweet… Bring on couch tour…

  10. Stoney Case Says:

    If so I mean, realtii.

    Not a fan of whale pitch. Don’t give a shit what Miner and Aw and RL think.

  11. Shred Says:

    Glad to be an American today. Lets call it what it is. Below average opening show. Band sounded tight. Nobody will be spinning this show when the tour is over.

    What’s most alarming is they had been coming out the gates swinging. The fact they didn’t is lame. prove that you’re the best. My 2 shows are coming. Lets see what you got for some shred.

  12. realtilli Says:

    Stoney you have mail.

    i like pitch bending and microtonal stuff, so the whale is fine with me if done tastefully. works well for me in last night’s Jim and Hood

  13. Stoney Case Says:

    Realtii, thanks. It seems people are divide on the whale pitch. Saule Goode. Splitting hairs over personal preference.

  14. sumodie Says:

    Miner, great writeup, thnx

    And some thoughtful convo from the board!

    Glad to read others confirming what i was hearing last nite. Was more tired than i realized yesterday which made riding the music challenging

    Spent a gorgeous 4th on the lake with my family, picked up more PTBMs in Woosta, on to home in western MA

    Oh yeah, loved hangin with old & new BBers in Bangor. Let’s hope for a twofer up there next time

  15. Selector J Says:

    hola, BB.

    Anyone know how to fix a fridge? First my A/C went tits-up last weekend during my kid’s birthday party and now the dadgum icebox on the 4th of July. I think Texas is trying to get rid of me.

  16. phlorida phan Says:

    Bangor is up on etree!

    Rainy ass 4th here, people losing digits will likely have to wait til tomorrow.

  17. Selector J Says:

    mkdevo is the man, btw.

    Just listened to Bangor while cooking -> eating -> washing dishes >trying to fix refrigerator. The future is working out pretty okay.

  18. MiA Says:

    I like to listen to ocelot while changing the cat box.

  19. 4thDimension Says:

    some of these comments from folks who did not attend the show are pretty amusing … in particular, their tone of certitude is what makes me concerned for the collective consciousness sometimes.

  20. KOOKS Says:

    “Something is happening but you don’t know what it is, do you Mr. Jones?

  21. kenny powers Says:

    @ shred

    i think peeps will still be spinning the Golden Age jam, but yeah not the show as a whole. That Golden Age was so insanely nasty. 4-headed monster with Page in the cockpit.

  22. mayhem Says:

    Enjoying the Bangor show with my kids. Mkdevo rules!

  23. MiA Says:

    Watching the MKDevo right now. Giggity

  24. kenny powers Says:

    Giggity is right MiA! AMERICA!

  25. jdub Says:

    God bless ‘Merica!

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