Vintage Phish

7.3.13 (Parker Harrington)

7.3.13 (Parker Harrington via LiveMusicBlog)

A night after piecing together a patchwork setlist, Phish rebounded in every facet of their game on Sunday night at SPAC, scripting the most complete overall show of the tour thus far with a second set filled with adventurous improv. By scripting a second seamless main event in three nights with no filler whatsoever, the band has proven an intent to answer all modern fan base gripes while fully returning to form on their 30th Anniversary summer tour. Playing a show that invoked the spirit and contour of so many classics of lore, Phish penned a signature performance to cap an outstanding three nights in Saratoga Springs.

7/7 Official (Millward)

7/7 Official (Millward)

One of the things I have missed most in the modern era of Phish has been their hallowed set-crafting ability. In their glory days, the band sculpted sets with defined contours that took the listener on a flowing aural journey from beginning to end. Most often this era, the highlights of shows have come in jams or sequences, but seldom—if ever—has the band put together the type of musical narrative that has a distinct beginning, middle and an end with everything perfectly in place. Well last night, they did exactly that, weaving a stunning tapestry of music that cut to the core of the band’s artistry. Over their tour-opening run at SPAC, Phish (read: Trey) has rediscovered the lost art of set-crafting in one of the most welcome shifts in the Phish universe since the band started jamming again. Like MJ honed his fadeaway and LeBron polished his jumper, Phish, like in a wily veteran, has transformed their glaring weakness into one of their strengths. With this final step, the crafty quartet from Vermont has fully recaptured their magic of old while carving new sonic pathways at every turn.

The improvisational meat of the second set came in the inseparable sequence of “Disease > Ghost > Piper.” Beyond weaving these songs together with impeccable flow, Phish unified the three jams in musical concept, each picking up exactly where the last left off, while forming one, continuous musical whole. The set kicked off with the summer’s first “Down With Disease,” a jam that began in a mellow, melodic milieu before migrating into eerie groove with Trey playing seductive rhythm licks over a darkening soundscape. Before the band progressed beyond this section of sound, however, they transitioned into “Ghost.” Now here is where things get really cool. As the band launched into the “Ghost” jam, they picked it up in the same improvisational space that they had just left “Disease.” Re-launching into a sultry groove, the guys sounded like they could have still been in the same jam of which they had just segued out. The third stage of jamming in the three-song sequence came as the Page hopped to his clav and the band transformed the amphitheatre into a digital-plinko wonderland. Embarking on an intricate rhythmic exchange, the band flexed their creative muscle while progressing the overall narrative into another musical feel.

7.3.13 (P. Harrington)

7.3.13 (P. Harrington)

Phish fluidly transformed “Ghost’s” innovative conversation into a beautiful, melody anchored section that flowed perfectly into “Piper.” The third song of the set provided the fourth and final stage to this improvisational tale—the triumphant arrival. The band had passed us through darkness during the first 36 minutes of the set, and would now deliver us into the light via a stunning “Piper.” Spouting heart-tugging, joyous lead melodies, Trey brought the audience to a state of exultation in a conjoined celebration of the spirit of Phish. Passion leaped from all four band members in a staggering, near ten-minute peak to one of the more cohesive treks Phish has guided us on in quite some time.

The band even took the time to craft an emotional comedown out of the “Piper’s” jam that moved into “Velvet Sea” without missing a beat. Placed flawlessly, the ballad felt right at home in it’s late-set slot, bringing us into the end-of-set-classic-song-pairing part of the show. “Velvet Sea” has traditionally precluded “Antelope” in setlists, while “Meatstick” has also been paired with “Antelope throughout the band’s career. Substituting the word “Meatstick” for “Antelope” in the song’s final chorus, Trey added a touch of Phishy humor to this signature night while simultaneously revealing the next song. Additionally, “Meatstick” has often been placed right before a set-closing “You Enjoy Myself,” an occurrence that any fan could see coming a mile away. And there is no better way to close a massive Phish set—or a weekend stand—than with “You Enjoy Myself.”

7.3.13 (P.Harrington)

7.3.13 (P.Harrington via LiveMusicBlog)

Usually, this is where I’d write a conclusion and note the few songs in the first set that stood out. But the reason that last night’s performance was so damn special in this day and age was that the band’s contained, or type I, jamming was absolutely off the charts. Firing as one and never getting complacent for a moment, the guys were laser focused and hooked up from note one and it made all the difference. Just listen to the incredibly active takes on “Back on the Train,” “Maze,” and “Limb By Limb” in the first set and the absolute scorcher of an “Antelope” in the second. One version after opening up their classic set closer, the band absolutely destroyed a contained “Antelope” jam and it felt like a revelation. Restoring meaning to the song its second, consecutive superb version, Phish kept the action coursing. Following “Meatstick,” the band closed with an spunky “YEM” that saw Trey play high-pitched, staccato leads throughout the jam, a welcome diversion from his cliché guitar solo and providing the jam with a fresh sound of its own.

When on a roll and at their best, Phish seems to one up themselves one show after another, and thus far on this tour, but for a slight misstep, that is exactly what is happening. Building upon each previous night, the band has reached a level of proficiency in their live show that we haven’t seen in this era. First, they tore off a airtight second set on Friday, now they have notched a complete, quintessential two-setter. What’s next? Come to Toronto and find out.

I: AC/DC Bag, Back on the Train, Divided Sky, Free, It’s Ice, Mound, Maze, Limb By Limb, Walls of the Cave

II: Down with Disease > Ghost > Piper > Wading in the Velvet Sea > Run Like an Antelope, Meatstick, You Enjoy Myself

E: Loving Cup

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1,578 Responses to “Vintage Phish”

  1. Stoney Case Says:


  2. Stoney Case Says:

    Miner needs to hyperbolize the phuck out of this

  3. Stoney Case Says:

    Love when Trey plays the harmonics on guitar. Only does it when in the zone. No excessive effects from Cactus. Band on.


  4. Stoney Case Says:

    Hoe Lee Phuck. Crosseyed > Hood is the shit that I like. Omg.

    I’m making up for my post TorontNo posts

  5. mmmhmm Says:

    Stoney are you made whole from your TorontNo trip from tonight?

  6. mmmhmm Says:


  7. Stoney Case Says:

    Should be sleeping. CrunchygroovinInstead

  8. xpun Says:

    Fun show. My kids first so I was a bit distracted by them.

    Great to see gdad kaya and Palmer. And Mitch manning the WW.

    Met a great great family from CT and hung w them throughout the show. Great kid friendly vibe in the family section.

  9. mmmhmm Says:

    Is it just me or does the opening Llama have more of a reggae guitar chop rather than fiery urgency of peeing in one’s pants?

  10. mmmhmm Says:

    xpun im intrigued by these so called family sections. Im going to have to take a gander at my next show. I imagine a bouncy castle and a cooler of capri suns with a wook-proof in-ground electric fence, dads showing off their kids’ dance moves to other proud dads and moms sneaking away together to shake a leg, hit spliffs, and have a brief respite from the burdens of mom life. All while Page’s organ swirls the rest of the venue into a vortex

  11. mmmhmm Says:

    and the sun/stars always shining nicely on the family section

  12. DryIceFactory Says:

    SO Crosseyed slayed tonight?

  13. jtran Says:

    Crosseyed sounds faster tonight

  14. [an unrelated] Wilson Says:

    I’ve spun the livephish download thru Hood.
    ’13 summer tour just got dialed up a few notches.


  15. Iriewalton Says:

    I double down on what Stoney said, c&p is for the remaining haters out there unconvinced that the guys aren’t out to make a statement with this tour. Faces are starting to be not felt on a nightly basis, folks getting disoriented afterwards, and I can’t wait to jump in IT at the Gorge.

  16. thedayman Says:

    sick C&P!!!! fish is killing it

  17. thedayman Says:

    hell yea dry ice!!

  18. [an unrelated] Wilson Says:

    the hood is a worthy folo. big time.

  19. RoosterPizza Says:

    Just got done Crosseyed and entering Hood. I love it when they outdo themselves consistently– that can only mean good things for all of us.

  20. RoosterPizza Says:

    Really pumped for everyone there tonight. A lot of good people in attendance. Happy to hear xpun had a good outing with the family!

  21. MiA Says:

    Should not have woken up to think about Crunchygroove. Gonna have to get back to sleep now.

    Hope everyone there had a raging time.

  22. dusty Says:

    Super fun time for dirty jerz. Forgot what a nice venue that place is despite the location and police. I hadn’t been back there in 14 yrs so I enjoyed running into a bunch of east coast friends I haven’t seen. Missed the BB unite at the table so will make effort at MPP.

    cross eyed hood was the highlight for me. I really don’t like how Trey bails into lights. RockyTop Cavern was a nice treat too. Thought they came out the gates with a head of steam too.

  23. Spasm Waiter Says:
    Decent recap of last night. Hope everybody had a blast. Curious if the Gin has reached new territory.

  24. c0wfunk Says:

    Looks like a fun list.. Interested to hear and see some more first hands..

    Last night we watched this movie rock star with mark wahlberg playing a 80s rock front man. Pretty odd but it takes some interesting turns and is worth your time and has some real life rock stars (incl Bonham’s son), anyone else catch this flick? Circa 2001 w Jennifer anniston on female lead.

  25. c0wfunk Says:

    Last paged

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