Windows to the Soul

7.5.13 (Ryan MacNeill)

7.5.13 (Ryan MacNeill)

Phish continued their musical tour de force in Saratoga Springs last night with two incredibly innovative jams—“Split” and “Carini—that stand up to anything they ever produced from either song. Though unable to construct a single set as magical as Friday night’s second frame—or really a single set at all—both Saturday’s first and second contained all-time improvisations. It seems like we have stumbled upon an embarrassment of riches in the Phish community in the summer of 2013, as even on a night, when the band played two sets that amounted to no more than one extended first, they still managed to drop two Herculean doses of transcendence.

7/6 Official (Millward)

7/6 Official (Millward)

First, let’s look at the “Split.” Let’s be honest, 3.0 “Splits” have absolutely sucked. Not only has the band been technically unable to manage the song, but any sort of improvisational creativity has been absent from it since post-hiatus, less Utica’s broken up version. But god damn, did that change last night as they took “Split” right off the deep end. The initial part of the jam saw Trey shredding with extraordinary phrasing and precision—unlike any other recent version. But then, the band started to stray from structure! They were using “Split” as a launch pad into open waters! Not since Deer Creek ’03 had the band showcased such audacity, and this time they created a whole ‘nother monster altogether. An excursion that was as soulful as it was demented, put a spotlight on the band’s superior creative flow of the current moment. Words fail me to covey the sort of spiritual event that that took place in the first set’s final twenty minutes. This jam absolutely needs to be heard with your undivided attention to be believed. Phish, honestly, dropped a piece of music of the likes we haven’t heard in ages, resulting in—easily—the most outrageous “Split Open and Melt” since Big Cypress. Embodying supreme confidence by taking one of their most difficult songs into open waters, the band came back with a tale of jaw-dropping magnificence. And then there was the “Carini.”


7.5.13 (R.MacNeill)

In, yet, another of their most pristine escapades in a hot minute, the band continued to rewrite the record book for “Carini.” Juxtaposed against the sinister abstraction of it’s last outing at MSG on 12/30, SPAC’s “Carini” traveled in the absolute opposite direction into a soaring piece of melodic triumph. Intricate ideas spewed forth in an Olympic exposé of musical communication, as it took only about a minute for the band to flip the switch and head for the stratosphere. Locked and loaded and moving a mile a minute, this jam is nothing short of the soundtrack to paradise. Though “Carini” has been a consistent 3.0 spring board, none of the jams come close to resembling this jaunt which broke from structure and never looked back. The efficiency of this tale is absolutely mind-bogglingly, as it clocks in at twelve minutes! The amount of themes and ideas built, developed and realized within such a short amount of time takes nothing short of divine intervention. But these days, that is exactly the power that Phish possesses. And they continue to put forth music that is on par with or surpasses anything in their 30-year career, a feat unparalleled by any live music act alive or deceased.

And what about the rest of the show? Well, it was solid but uninteresting less the first “Tube” jam of the modern era and another new song! It seems at just about every corner, Phish had pressed the “reset” button this summer, and the result is our delight. The feeling of really letting loose to “Tube” for the first time in nine years (Deer Creek 6/24/04) was an undeniable sensation that lit the crowd’s collective consciousness afire. A speed groove in which all three members crushed with authority set the table for “Split’s” journey to the outer reaches of the universe two songs later. Secondly, out of “Carini,” the band seamlessly debuted their third song in three shows, “Architect” off of Trey’s most recent solo album Traveler. Though the song is lyrically over the top and cheeseball, I dig it musically (though I’m not gonna’ hold my breath to see what everyone else thinks about it.) It will be quite interesting to watch the fan base reception of this one.

7.3.13 (R.MacNeill)

7.3.13 (R.MacNeill)

On a slightly more critical note, set two never really elevated other than “Carini.” A standard “Number Line” opener gave way to the most laymen versions of “Tweezer” and “Sand” one will ever hear. In neither jam did the band develop anything original or of note, and the combo came up absolutely zero once taken off of paper. “Wilson,” “Boogie > Possum” to end the set? Shoot me in the face. But it was all fun and games after hearing two of the most magnificent excursions we’ve heard in years.

Depending on Sunday night’s affair, SPAC 2013 is quickly becoming the new birthplace of modern jams. But somehow, I don’t think it’s gonna be a regional thing this time around, as Phish has dropped “lifers” (jams you’ll listen to for the rest of your life) in the first three shows of tour. Wait ‘til we compile a Best of Summer 2013 playlist at the end of August—good Lord, have mercy! The only burning question going into any show right now is, “How many Hall of Fame jams Phish induct tonight?” Damn, it’s a good time to be a Phish fan.

I: Crowd Control, Chalk Dust Torture, The Wedge, Funky Bitch, Heavy Things, Bug, Bouncing, Tube, Julius, Split Open and Melt

II: Backwards Down the Number Line, Tweezer > Sand > Carini -> Architect*, Wilson > Boogie On Reggae Woman > Possum

E: Show of Life > Tweezer Reprise


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429 Responses to “Windows to the Soul”

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  1. 20 Years Later Says:


  2. Ghostface Says:

    Couldn’t agree more. Great write up. Melt and Carini were monsters. Regarding the end of the show – there was reason for the shoot me in the face ending – did anyone else see the fan onstage during architect? He walked right in front of Trey. Then during Boogie on someone threw a drink or something at Trey’s face. He was clearly rattled by it. Ended Boogie abruptly and launched into the get me the hell outta here possum. Sometimes I hate our phans. Ugh.

  3. MiA Says:

    Herculean doses

  4. Darth Plinko Says:

    Love “lifers” (when Phish plays them, and how Miner coined the term).

    Also, love hearing the crowd react so exuberantly during the Tube jam.

  5. baxter Says:

    Yeah, last night was pretty good, but nthing special imho. SOAM was awesome, didn’t even mind the whale cals too much. But the phlow was weird with Heavy Things sucking out the energy. Typical saturday night setlist with the popular radio songs like bouncing and #-line.

  6. Foul_Domain Says:

    I’m definitely more hooked up with Miner on this review. I thought that show smoked. Agreed that Tweez could have used another five minutes or so to get somewhere, but I wouldn’t call that a layman Sand.

    What really made me happy was watching Trey tear everything he touched to shreds.

    Chalkdust, Tube, Split, #Line, Carini, Possum – All demonstrated why I’m such a huge Trey fan.

    He just played a better guitar last night, and for me that made all the difference in the world

  7. Ghostface Says:

    Also, further to your ore-tour thoughts, for what it’s worthTrey was rockin’ old Axe last night. Not the “ocedoc”.

  8. neemor Says:

    Great stuff Miner. My new slf has never seen Phish but has been doing her homework and asks me to read her your reviews from last night. She’s as excited as any of us to be coming to PNC and that’s in no small part due to your words. FWIW, she’s a Divided Sky and Reba fan, so I guess I can keep her around. 🙂 Keep it up and have fun tonight, all.

  9. Marcoesq Says:

    First spin on this split…

  10. carleethian Says:

    Glad to hear they’re tearing it up!

    Saw the cheese last night in Austin as well, can’t say they’re slouching right now either.

  11. Foul_Domain Says:

    13:00 into Split – This is the shit I love.

  12. Marcoesq Says:

    Man that was great. Whale a riffic at first but then shred bliss comes around. Tweezer and Carini now

  13. Marcoesq Says:

    Was that the longest 1st set “jam” of 3.0? Obv yem’s dsky’s Tte’s notwithstanding

  14. c0wfunk Says:

    Hung with some friends last night and their new one month old. First set was perfect for the kid who beforehand had shown an aversion to phish. By the end of the set he was hippie finger dancing and blissed out 🙂 split was indeed a special way to wrap up, though the ending, while funny, kind keeps it from the upper split echelon in my book.

    Perhaps it is a whole other debate whether it even makes sense to compare a jam like this that entirely escapes the framework with one that stays boxed in? Of course whether or not the comparison is valid, it is inevitable. 🙂

    I enjoyed the flow of set 2 and thought the whole segment tweezer sand carini architect had a nice flow and seemed like one breath. Then add the exclamation point with the rocker outros to wrap up. Worked fine for me. looking forward to reading more from others. fun phishcast weekend, one more to go!

  15. c0wfunk Says:

    Carleethian careful with the cheese talk that’ll get you ostracized round here right quick.. Lotta pescatarian music lovers round here 😉 … You’re right though, by all indicators those boys are in their game again too and always do it up in Austin. Good times

  16. Hugger Says:

    Right On! Love the review Miner. I knew that ‘Split’ would get some love around these parts.

  17. Marcoesq Says:

    Carini getting off to a fun start. This whale just won’t die though

  18. Stoney Case Says:

    BK! Hilarious commentary.
    Only got through Tube before falling asleep. I like! Stingy suckas! They can throw down a Phish funk dance a thon when Eva they want.
    Infuse that into some Gumbo for the north of the border fans!
    Good stuff.

    New theory: I don’t think Trey listens back to these shows. He may think the whale pedal is just like bending strings. He may not realize it makes the guitar sound out of tune. I mean, he’d have been thrown out of orchestra or slapped by the teacher with a ruler for those notes. When the languedoc sounds like a bad slide whistle, it’s not good.

  19. Marcoesq Says:

    You’re right. And alf hit it right on the head yesterday.

    The whammy pedal is like 3.0 mikes songs; sounds okay live but terrible on playback.

  20. Fly Says:

    I’ll say it again: Fucking Split Open and Get Melted Son!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  21. Stoney Case Says:

    On split. Whale zone. Falafel.

    6:30 in

  22. Stoney Case Says:

    Mikes sounds stupid good though

  23. boda Says:

    I would argue that the Spilt from Cincy in 2009, checking in at a healthy 13.5 minutes and goes deep into the abyss, didn’t “suck”. My .02

  24. Tweezer Says:

    Great review Miner. The Melt and Carini smoke! Jam tunes aside, where have the rest of Phish’s song catalog gone? All of Round Room? FEFY, Weigh, Lifeboy, Meat? Why are first sets full of all the same tunes?

    Funky Bitch, Boogie On and Loving Cup (likely the encore tonight) are the only covers in heavy rotation, to the point of overkill.

    This band is great, but who can travel the country, spend hundreds, and desert their family to sift through a show for a couple worthwhile jams.

  25. The Whale Says:

    Why all the whale hatred? It’s a definitive Trey sound. “Out of tune” is naive musical perception. Trey has always used the tension between notes, especially resolving back to the one, and the Whale is just another means of creating this musical trick that swabs the brain tissue nicely. Jimi was the master of this technique; just listen to the infamous “note” from Machine Gun on band of Gypsies, which trey sights as life changing. Same exact musical idea. Trey uses the whammy in his take. Get over it. Take it easy on the whale!

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