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:

    Put the kids to bed. Put on mkdevo’s 6/7/12 II. Blast off!

  2. jdub Says:

    Great running into you KP! See you this weekend.

    We Spent the day in Acadia. Top of Cadillac Mountain and the Bar Harbor 4th of July Parade. Don’t get more American than that. Just settling in at home after 6 hr drive. Looks like Friday at SPAC is a go. I was just gonna do 2 & 3 but we came home a day early and have the green light. This weekend will be loads of fun. And then back to work.

  3. jdub Says:

    Gonna do the same re:Mkdevo. Hear what I missed while hanging with kids and such.

  4. mayhem Says:

    Phish with the family in Maine and then Acadia. Sounds like a fantastic 4th of July holiday. Way to rock it.

    I really love this Worcester set

  5. MiA Says:

    You get a good view of the card at the end of weekapaug.

    Happy XXX anniversary (30 is phish porno anniversary)

    Love Phans

  6. MiA Says:

    Trying to build up a tolerance for tour and keep ending up drunk and vape’d.

  7. Mvdcanuck Says:

    Haven’t read all the comments but the venue kinda sucked. Unnecessary single file line at set break to get in and out of the muddy field was unacceptable. Also could not find anywhere to fill up water.

  8. mayhem Says:

    Ha. I hear that MIA. I got this PAX, but I never use it. I like the smoke too much I guess. The Mrs. Says I need to start using the PAX

  9. 20 Minute Halleys Says:

    happy fourth!

  10. 20 Minute Halleys Says:

    Anyone got the skinny on SPAC pavs, almost not worth it to put in for lottery for SPAC, always comes back lawn!? All three nights, its like losing the lottery.

  11. mayhem Says:

    That woul have worked better if I skipped a line.

    Ha. I hear that MIA.

    I got this PAX, but I never use it. I like the smoke too much I guess. The Mrs. Says I need to start using the PAX

  12. MiA Says:

    I hear they had separate entrances and water for Canadians and Americans.

    Canadians burnt down our Whitehouse!

    je me souviens

  13. Shred Says:

    And best 3.0 antelope is laughable. Haven’t heard ga yet. I’ll check it kpower.

  14. tela's_muff Says:

    I wouldn’t say laughable. Mainly, because they haven’t played a lot of great lopes this era. So for an out of the box lope to earn that kind of praise is perfectly acceptable. I would put it in the top 3 mix for 3.0

  15. mayhem Says:

    I think this boogie on is what shred is looking for

  16. mayhem Says:

    And then if I could done just right. Really a beautiful version

  17. jdub Says:

    The amenities/logistical setup at the venue did indeed suck. The natural beauty, location, and general vibe of fans offset that for me. I played it low key though. 3 beer stands for 14k is bad planning. No public water.

    But this Golden Age is out of this world. First respin and I am blown away. Fishman has without a doubt stepped it up. A golden age for sure. And love this Twist as well. A band this tight and in synch with each others’ inner groove is gonna go places.

    And Kuroda’s new lights are a major improvement. Subtle imagery and shades of lights. Thank you mkdevo.

  18. jdub Says:

    Not to rank art as best of or anything but the this was far far from a stock a lope. That puts it in a small group of lopes from this era at the very least.

    Dick Punch’d by this #line intro for a second time. Damn, should’ve seen it coming. I like this enough once it gets going, but expectations had me wanting Twist to unwind a little more. And the intro proves to be a buzzkill time and time again.

  19. MiA Says:

    First time Ocelot has been played in the second set too. Cliff’d

  20. jdub Says:

    The important thing to note here is the band is perfectly capable, and I think willing to take an Ocelot in orbits we haven’t hear yet. I think we’ll hear it all summer in nooks and crannies.

    Listening to Antelope build…

  21. mayhem Says:

    SPAC is going to finally get the special treatment in 3.0! Get ready. At least I got the webcast

  22. jdub Says:

    Trey has the whale soaring during this Antelope peak. Very tastefully done to me. I can’t think of a more jammed out version of Antelope in this era. Firey build. Fishman pounding his kit proper with a little machine gun whale from Trey that hangs on a wire. Really great version.

  23. mayhem Says:

    Yeah, I listened with the kids, but I thought it was a really good antelope. My 8 yr old said what’s going on at one point, so that’s a good indicator. I think the jones beach one last year is probably still my favorite from this era

  24. mayhem Says:

    Mkdevo went to Burgettstown last summer. Sweeet!

  25. jdub Says:

    JB was Antelope was definitely more of a straight rager. This one comes across as more of groover. Different. I do love that JB one dearly. If only because great ones are so few and far between. Everything is relative of course.

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