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. jdub Says:

    I need to edit myself a little better. Probably should go to bed. Right after this Hood.

  2. mayhem Says:

    Forgot about the crazy oval lights. Glad that didn’t last

  3. mayhem Says:

    Yeah there definitely both 2 of the few good antelopes nowadays. There aren’t many. That Utica one too.

  4. Stoney Case Says:

    Golden Age on the headset. Trey seems to be struggling with the vocals. Is it just cuz I’m listening on the cans or does it take time for voice to get stronger as an artist gets going on tour?

    Will comment on jam in about 10 mins since you’re all dying to hear my take.

  5. Stoney Case Says:

    Gorge 11 night 2 Antelope

  6. DavidSilver Says:

    Jah Bless America, the only country that produced the GD and the Phish.


  7. sumodie Says:

    Bangor venue is superior to every covered summer shed in the country. Can never beat a flat open air all gen adm field for Phish. Even better, the field had a sweet gradient, the further back you went the field of vision improved and the sound held steady. Fantastic sound quality

    Agreed, tho, only 3 entry/exit points from the field, and only two from the overall venue -that was an annoynace, and concessions were very busy. But those details are always minor in my book compared to the actual concert environment

    Grass was only a little muddy in spots from what I saw (wasn’t ever in front of the sbd). Guess what? It’s an outdoor show on a grassy field, subject to the whims of mother nature & people’s feet. Can’t blame the venue about a lil brown stuff.

    Fingers crossed the band returns to Bangor again

  8. mayhem Says:

    Shit. I’m going to have to stay up to hear Stoney’s take. Good call on that Gorge antelope. Now that I think about it the 09 Gorge one is pretty good too. Trey plays that lick that he has done a lot over the years

  9. Stoney Case Says:

    Night all. Gonna follow along on here and twitter seeins how there’s no Internet at my buddies cabin.

    Looking forward to spinning more freshies.

  10. jdub Says:

    What Sumo said regarding Bangor’s venue. Really kid friendly as well, especially if a 6’6″ bunyonesque cousin is part of your crew.

    At the end of the day, I rolled out of the gate with 2 strollers right as Hood ended, and had perfect site line and great sound for entirety of Hood 20 feet from exit. Walked across street and 3 blocks down. Was on highway at cruising speed in 20 minutes tops from end of show.

    Besides, that friggin’ soundcheck was kickdown central.

  11. Stoney Case Says:

    Golden Age:
    Fun, playful, lots of effects from Page, then some cool wah pedal from Trey, then Mike, not to be outdone busts out the squishy effect on bass.

  12. stapes Says:

    Whoa. Just took in city’s fireworks display from back patio accompanied by IT tower jam, a Stone Ruinten and plenty of sour d. Finale sounded like Fish killing the kick drum. Dogs freaking out. Forgot how good this tower jam is. 10 years ago today was heading west to hop on board what would lead up to it. Can’t wait to see what SPAC brings. Happy 4th all.

  13. xpun Says:

    New live phish is the best. Don’t really have anything new to add that hasn’t been said in what little Ive read here. Thought I heard some Dsky in the hood build. Liked the slow tempos and stash mikes ga lope.

    Too lazy to look it up but was 2.0 stage setup like last night or was trey still off to stage left like the end of 1.0? Wasn’t fish on a higher riser in 2.0 as well?

    Thinking of hitting pnc lawn w kids for their first show. Will be day of call after checking weather.

    Phish 2013!!!!!!!!

  14. xpun Says:

    2001 intro super funk by page and mike! Second “verse” fell flat though. Trey w no fresh ideas.

    The band should play behind chicken wire like they did in roadhouse. Problem solved.

  15. Aquaman Says:

    See you all this Sunday at SPAC.

    As always thanks for the write up Miner. I only get one shot at the boys this summer so I ill be living through your words more than ever.

    Drive safe y’all.

    Pea shout,


  16. willowed Says:

    Car is packed

    Leaving soon to pick up some BB brethren at the airport. SPAC bound very soon!

  17. xpun Says:

    Everyone have a great and safe weekend.

    Any DL codes greatly appreciated.

  18. phlorida phan Says:

    Bangors up,

  19. DavidSilver Says:

    Get some Funky Chicken!

  20. jtran Says:

    anyone ++

  21. Stoney Case Says:

    Interesting to see if SPAC ramps up a bit each day. Trey becoming more aware of not blowing wad first nights of tour or runs.

  22. marcoesq Says:

    morning all. looks like board hangover/travel day

    my office is only one open in whole business park. happy 5th y’all

  23. marcoesq Says:

    wow this Jim is 11min long? #lengthnotgirth?

  24. marcoesq Says:

    Whale calls, yo

  25. kelley Says:

    Only heard the show on my headphones. Highlights for me (much to my surprise) – Jim and Theme. IMO – everything else seemed a bit unfocused and overall the band only locked into something interesting a few times throughout the show.

    To pipe in on the antelope bit – best in 3.0 for me: 7/3/2012.

    Great review Mr. Miner!! Always appreciated!

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