Where Dreams Can Take Flight

8.2.13 (Jeremy Renda)

8.2.13 (Jeremy Renda)

Improvising with a liquid fluidity while crafting a totally unique setlist, Phish dropped a high-quality, first-set heavy performance at Bill Graham Civic Auditorium on Friday Night to kick off tour’s final four-night run. Two outstanding excursions in “Down With Disease” and “Seven Below” anchored the second set, though the first set possessed a more fluid contour and better start to finish consistency in song choice. The band has reached a level of playing where everything seems effortless, and their level of communication is at a level we’ve never seen before. Since the Gorge, their reaction time has been negligible whereas someone need only suggest an idea and the other three members are on it immediately—inhuman skills that only come after thirty years of jamming together. Whether amidst a 37 minute “Tweezer” or second-set “Farmhouse,” the band’s attention to detail and intent to bring new ideas to the table is undeniable, and the result is nothing but the best Phish we’ve ever heard.

BGCA (AJ Masthay)

BGCA (AJ Masthay)

Bursting out of the gates in their first San Francisco set, Phish stoked an early fire with a rare “Free” opener and then with “Meat,” they started rolling out the rarities—but unlike in the past few years, the guys really got into things in each and every piece. “Vultures” popped with energy and precise interplay; Trey evoked the spirit of Jerry Garcia, one day after his birthday, in a cerebral, standout “Roggae;” the first “Sand” since Holmdel got into a jazz-fusion groove; “Mike’s rarity “Babylon Baby” added spice to an already kicked up scene; and the band finally slayed “Halfway the Moon” with improvisational beef. Basically, any guitar solo Trey takes these days—in any song—seems to have a thoughtful roadmap, adding infinite amounts of artistry to shows where wankery recently dominated.

The gem of the opening frame, however, was “Reba,” whose jam possessed a driving tempo, kicked up a notch by Jon Fishman. In this era, “Reba” jams have been lackluster, while generally characterizable as noodly, mellow and uninspired, but throw any jam into 2013 and things get serious! It felt like heaven to dance to a fast, purposeful “Reba” jam last night. This version sounds like a throwback to an earlier year but with a modern smoothness. If you’re reading this in the morning, start your Saturday with this “Reba”—you’ll be glad you did.

8.2.13 (Jeremy Renda)

8.2.13 (Jeremy Renda)

The centerpieces of the second set—“Disease and Seven Below”—possessed vastly different jamscapes, but each popped original ideas and liquid fluidity. “Disease’s” jam contained thematic fallout from the Tahoe “Tweezer,” especially from Page who suggested a main piano melody from the epic piece. The band’s jamming was just as wide open and smooth as well, illustrating a comfort and confidence that could only come with three decades of playing. The level the band has reached at this point—in my opinion—is untouchable. They are simply better than ever. One may prefer a different style or era, but the band is peaking. Not for 3.0—for their career.

In fact, Phish is playing so well that they can control the entire room with “Prince Caspian” and “Farmhouse” in the two and thee slots of the second set. Though less than 1% of fans would have written this setlist, 99% of the audience was focused and engaged throughout the mellow, entrancing segment. Both versions stood out immediately, as Trey held a near minute-long note in tour’s first “Caspian,” while the entire band gave “Farmhouse” the patient, royal treatment.

The second main dish of the set—and the jam of the show—came unexpectedly in “Seven Below.” Migrating from the song’s thematic jam into a robotic, quasi-plinko realm, Phish then swam into segment of percussion-laced improv that carried over the deliberate breaks of Tahoe’s “Tweezer, ”though this time, the crowd’s “Woos”—a forced recurrence throughout the night—felt a bit contrived. When the guys dove back into the fray, however, the music took on a heavy, groovier feel, remaining that way for the duration. Another standout in a mind-bending list of Summer ’13 jams.

8.2.13 (Brian Thomas)

8.2.13 (Brian Thomas)

The show kind of took a setlist nosedive from here. An inspired “Harry Hood” weighted the final quarter of the show, but despite a loose, jammy version of “Stealing Time,” the set undeniably fizzled. The unique setlist construction of last night’s show, however, continued through the “Walls of a Cave” encore, and for the second consecutive version, the jam showed hints of being cut loose.

I’d imagine that we’ll look back at Friday’s show as the “weakest” of the Bill Graham run, and it was by no means a weak show. On the contrary, it was quite good. But due the second set’s choppiness and lack of flow, the evening didn’t truly elevate in full. It felt like we were primed for a scorching second set after a ballistic first, but the band choose the mellow route while still kicking down plenty of Grade-A improvisational meat. What a joy to be indoors for three of Summer’s final four nights, and this run is just heating up.

I: Free, Meat, The Oh Kee Pa Ceremony > AC/DC Bag, Vultures, Roggae, Sand, When the Circus Comes, Babylon Baby, Reba, Halfway to the Moon, Golgi Apparatus

II: Punch You In the Eye > Down with Disease > Prince Caspian, Farmhouse, Seven Below, Theme From the Bottom, Harry Hood > Stealing Time From the Faulty Plan, The Squirming Coil

E: Walls of the Cave

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565 Responses to “Where Dreams Can Take Flight”

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  1. sumodie Says:

    Woo?

  2. Gankmore Says:

    Couldn’t stop spinning in the back of the hall all night. What a fun one. Bring on the Saturday dance party!

  3. jdub Says:

    Woooonderful piece Miner.

    Great start to the weekend.

  4. hoedown Says:

    Didn’t Caspian open night 2 in the windy city?

    Great read and solid thoughts on last night. I thought the Faulty Plan and Walls had much more spunk than your leading onto though…

    Thank You MM!

  5. jdub Says:

    How many people wooing were at Tahoe?

  6. Cal Says:

    I figured Trey would be delighted to perpetuate the woo trend. It’s been going on for years now at Umphrey’s shows. Phish finally caught up. Such deep meaningful fan/band interaction is a hallmark of the jamband community.

    Can’t wait to woo my brains out at Dick’s. I’ll be so pissed if they, like, jam nonstop with no rhythmic pauses.

  7. sumodie Says:

    Trey was the master of woo last night -he ably controlled most woos and laid down some soaring guitar solos to either punctuate the woos or to stop the woos.

    7Below & Stealing Time certainly benefited from the crowd interaction

    At the least the woos are a direct reminder to the band of how much we love the TahoTweez. That alone cannot be a bad thing

    And woo is better than cheesecake

  8. sumodie Says:

    Repost: weird orangey psychedelic krautrock ripe for the plucking

    – Amon Düül II – Tanz der Lemminge (1971)

    http://pitchfork.com/reviews/albums/168-tanz-der-lemminge/

    – Faust – Faust IV (1973) expanded 2cd set

    http://pitchfork.com/reviews/albums/10728-iv/

  9. tba Says:

    :<) wooing is fun in page's house, happy belated Jerry, love you man, know you maybe never knew Trey and company (or did he secretly know or listen?), in any event you would be proud to know the music never stops, and while different, the spirit survives in those in their prime like the blog's boys, but also bands like the Stones still, and they even open w/ your favorite "get off of My cloud"………..man. Hey hey My My JG.

    meanwhile here's to keeping it real.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=x8fsb41tBQo#at=14

  10. MiA Says:

    At setbreak talked to LU, AW and Kaya and I was commenting on how Trey just doesn’t have the sustain he used to have. Proven wrong next set during Hood and Caspian.

    Oh Kee Pa > Bag was a great trick. Sand looked into a very unique groove too.

    Treys willing to really play with the dynamics now. Loved that. He wanted to take a serious run at each song.

    I also realized (in a bhang 3x state of mind) that Trey was using the Whammy because his callouses needed to build up on tour. He had soft, pretty hands of a broadway producer. Used the whammy to push the strings up. His fingers are calloused and he’s now able to shred that 17th fret again.

    Gonna rest up today, hit waterwheel thing tonight.

    Have a great Saturday everyone!

  11. Mr.Miner Says:

    you come around on the toronto dwd @mia? meant to ask you that when i saw you…

  12. Cal Says:

    That Faust album is so good. “Picnic On A Frozen Lake” is mind-blowing. There’s still been nothing else in music quite like it.

  13. Stoney Case Says:

    Great show. Slept in own bed.

    #CouchTour

    Cerebral, dexterous playing all night by Trey, Mike, Page and Fish.

    Top set 1 I can remember. Up with SBIX 3 and FYF show!

  14. Kbill Says:

    Not the first caspian of tour

  15. MiA Says:

    Yeah miner. Needed more spins.

  16. Lycanthropist Says:

    is there a place to stream all the shows from tour?

  17. Phamily Berzerker Says:

    Huggiebear, you are at the shows right?

  18. Dgrooves Says:

    I loved the review Mr. M. From the couch perspective my jaw was on the floor all night long. Although you are right in that I too had question marks appear above my head at the calls of Caspian and House, by the middle and end of each tune my pants were wet and the chubby was substantial. I didn’t think the setlist calls were fizzling the overall set so much as I thought “Jesus! They had the nerve to play this and they blew it into the stratosphere!!!” The Page walk off walk on transition into the encore was also pretty classy in my opinion.

  19. phlorida phan Says:

    Phishtracks.com lycan

  20. MiA Says:

    So glad I got that Vultures last night. Thanks Guys!

    Dogs Stole Things tonight. And Esther!

  21. Dgrooves Says:

    I also agree that the Wooos seemed very forced from the crowd, but reveled in by the boys. I think we are going to be at a point tonight where it will either become cliche, or the band/crowd communication will become natural. But this is a good thing. In 3.0 the disscussion has been all about The band being right on the cusp of a full on Vulcan mind meld, but frequently loosing it because of the “trying too hard” or “forcing it into being” mis-steps. That is an obvious thing of the past as the boys are finally and completely playing as one – regardless of what is being played. Now all we have to bitch about is how well the band interacts with the crowd!!! How frigging awesome is that!?!?!

  22. sumodie Says:

    Official Toronto DWD video posted here:

    http://phishcoventry.blogspot.com/2013/07/phish-toronto-videos-dwd-72213.html

    Dunno why it’s not on phish vimeos…

  23. Nissl Says:

    This covers it pretty well, not to mention being the only setlist version I’ve seen with respectable “>” decisions. As far as picking nits, Caspian & Farmhouse were 3 & 4, not 2 & 3 (don’t forget Punch). Without relistening, at least, I don’t really see the Farmhouse hype. I’m a big FH lover and I thought this was one was pretty but kinda flat. I also don’t really think set 2 fizzled. Every song at the end had tons of energy and some worthwhile bits for the listener, and the band/crowd hydra was still pressing ahead. The whole set was just kinda choppy in terms of song selection and flubby in spots and the woos got tiresome. But the bottom line is that this had great, fiery playing that’s worth a few spins. Really feels like we’re just getting started though, both for BGCC and for, oh, the next decade (I hope!)

    As I kind of alluded to last night, shocked that PT wasn’t complaining like crazy about Caspian > Farmhouse. Food for thought: was the crowd sticking with it all because of playing quality? I can almost guarantee you that the crowd would still have fallen apart there in a big east coast shed show.

  24. tba Says:

    very easy ppv replay, they even included ‘cago night 3 for me to watch again, well done Phish PPV team, excellent work.

  25. btb Says:

    My first picture contribution to the bb. I was so proud of that one. 🙂

    Sup kids. Fun night. I too really liked the freshness of the first set. 7 below had some good moments.

    Why everybody talking so much? Crowd was hammered.

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