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”

  1. jdub Says:

    Cups are full, all sizes. Except maybe the Big Gulps. But those deplete the source, so they’ll remain half empty and ever thirsty. Band knows best.

  2. gavinsdad Says:

    Bill G was extra chatty nite 1 last year too.

    Took the explosion show to shut em up.

    Most people like being close to the band. Just right of Kuroda on the floor folks are dancing not yappin. Upstairs generally quieter too.

  3. Nich Says:

    I wouldn’t have written the whole setlist..

    But I definitely would have written Vultures, Roggae, Halfway, Caspian and Farmhouse in!

    Besides Vultures, those are all songs I’d put on my list of songs that Phish might turn into more improvisational numbers in the near future,

    The last west coast Farmhouse broke the mold, Alpine’s delicate crescendo was the highlight of that show, and Dicks spaced out hard, under the radar contender for the next “ice” or “mcgrupp” style mini jammer.

  4. jK Says:

    Thank you Mr. Miner-would love to meet hang chat sometime. While we don’t always agree, I truly enjoy reading your take on things and really admire and appreciate your dedication and hard work with this site.
    Longtime lurker-band playing so incredibly tight that it is forcing this crusty old jaded veteran taper back n2 the fray.
    Was able to catch the two Alpharetta shows and others on couch tour and this is the real deal- Phish is truly peaking.
    If anyone has an extra three day field pass for Dicks please help a brother out.
    Btw- if anyone has been keeping up with etree in the last yr or so jdmatt remastered all of my Phish DAT masters and posted. I am jk 😀
    Hit me up and thanks. You guys are great.
    tmwsiy@ msn.com

  5. poop goblin Says:

    phish is fun
    good concert

    set I absolute blast and scorching dwd and 7 below

    now for more tonight!

  6. Spasm Waiter Says:

    Have a blast tonight. U would love to be raging with my friends in that room! Tonight has “large” written all over it.

  7. Spasm Waiter Says:

    I would love…

  8. Spasm Waiter Says:

    Tiger getting ready to start his round I anyone is looking for relaxed couch activity.

  9. BingosBrother Says:

    Ronnie Woo Woo followed you to san fran aw!

    Back row and hallways with sound pockets are where the freaks play. Have fun y’all!

    Give Mrs. C that Esther trizza! Please?

  10. Spasm Waiter Says:

    Cool encore choice. So prefer that to the standard options.

  11. Al Says:

    I prefer the Gorge Dwd to the Toronto Dwd, don’t know why. I can’t remember much of the Toronto Version after 3 or 4 spins. But I still remember a few really great moments in the Gorge Version.

  12. poop goblin Says:

    if you don’t like yappeers head to the rafters

    good clean sound just a bit more quiet tons of space up top corner speakers page side

    can hit the concourse down below for a bit more dance space but that’s where I’ll be. east in and out. empty seats. quiet vibe.

  13. phunky58 Says:

    this was a good show no doubt about it, but it is not worthy of shootin a load while writing about it whatsoever imo. Seven below was easily the gem of the night eventhough it was sloppy at the start. The improvisation during -7 was hands down best last night and that is what I live for. I’m not going to lie that may of been the best version of farmhouse I’ve heard. Overall the show was solid but not epic or anything like that. Seven below and dwd were highlights. But put a show like this against shows from last year and you will notice how last year’s show would take it to school. I know this because I tried this experiment the other day. This is a real solid tour and I am enjoying it thoroughly but imo people are going way overboard on their assesments.

  14. [an unrelated] wilson Says:

    The Theme was so grand. Surprised it didn’t get a mention.
    Loved the 2nd set. I thought there WAS flow – just a unique kind of mellow, take you for a psychedelic ride kind of flow. Loved it. Loved it.

  15. Al Says:

    agreed. Just a handful of jams can stand the 2012 comparison. The Tahoe Tweezer could or should have happened at Dicks last year. That was a Dicks Light caliber. The quality this tour strongly lies in the little details of the “normal” Songs. Funky Bitch at Tahoe is an example. That version is super tight and played to perfection. Trey’s guitarplaying reminded me of crossroads msg 97. Pure fire.

  16. Lycanthropist Says:

    so just now getting to Tahoe 1 Set 2… some nice shit goin on here

  17. DaNcInG fOoL Says:

    Fuck those posters are awesome.

  18. sumodie Says:

    Killer official prints, esp tonite


  19. DaNcInG fOoL Says:

    It’s actually the third caspian this tour, unless Chicago doesn’t count.

  20. DaNcInG fOoL Says:

    First posters I would’ve bought in years. Good thing I’m not there.

  21. sumodie Says:

    New limited edition tee schwag:

    Phish @phish

    Announcing LIGHTNESS:: 2 LE T-Shirt featuring a photo from last year’s BGCA run. Made in USA. Edition of 325: pic.twitter.com/Bp1K7Iyb8g

  22. poop goblin Says:

    the brilliance of this tour is in set I
    subtle creativity and fresh touches everywhere

    from the light comp funk comp from trey and free to the scorching vintage bag to the first crushed halfway to the moon and a destroyed mindset roggae and sand
    the trey and page interplay in the entire first set is nuts and IMO it’s cuz trey finally showed up

    big jams or not there is a tangible awareness And focus from trey I haven’t heard in 3.0

    vultures solo!

  23. DaNcInG fOoL Says:

    Judging by photos, this new bieber lights def look more suited for indoors.

  24. WoosterPizza Says:

    Bieber lights look real nice indoors.

  25. MrCompletely Says:

    killer little show, just one thing http://i.imgur.com/wOfYAUm.png

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