The State of the Game

8.30.13 (Jake Silco)

8.30.13 (Jake Silco)

Phish came out on Saturday night at Dick’s and played their most impressive show of 2013. Rivaled only by the Gorge’s second night, Saturday featured the most innovative, forward looking music of the season as the band tore part the second set with jaw dropping improvisation. Anchored by Jon Fishman—the unquestionable star of the show and the weekend—and his inhuman breakbeats Phish carved brand new sonic pathways in the year’s most creative jam—a 23-minute odyssey out of “Chalk Dust Torture.” And then the train just kept chugging along. Blasting into “Light” and, later, a surprise, late-set “Tweezer” that popped with aural ambrosia, Phish never relented throughout the second set, leaving a wake of fire in their trail. I had the feeling one of Dick’s s performances would wind up in the top slot of summer, and Saturday night was most definitely that show.

8/31 Official (K.Taylor)

8/31 Official (K.Taylor)

Before getting to the otherworldly second half, the first deserves some discussion. Relatively thin on jamming, Saturday’s opening frame was, nonetheless, high on energy, favoring uptempo selections throughout. Songs that shined included “Wolfman’s Brother,” “Bathtub Gin” and “Antelope,” while the rarities of “Buried Alive” and “Fee” surfaced as well, together forming a very solid 90-minute opening set. The band must have been feeling good, because after setbreak, they would throw down their defining jam of the year.

A “Chalk Dust” second set opener can go it two ways: a short rocker to kick things off or a monumental open jam. This version was the latter. Steeped in virtuoso improv, “Chalk Dust” flowed through at least four different mini-jams with notable fluidity, crafting an unparalleled modern epic. Moving from a blissful, melody-based opening to the darkest, fastest drum and bass music we’ve heard since the post-hiatus era, Phish showcased the full spectrum of their abilities—and that was just the first half of the jam! The communication between the band members was shockingly tight and precise given the jam’s breakneck tempo, and—boy—did Jon Fishman shine throughout. Giving his best performance in a year where he has routinely stood out, Fish upped the level of the entire band within this jam and throughout this entire show. After exploring a futuristic, quasi-electronic realm, the band migrated into a chord progression that strongly suggested a segue into “Light.” However, after dancing around the song’s chords for a period of time, they, instead, slipped into a mini-“Manteca” jam before ending “Chalk Dust” with some intentional stops and starts that induced some enthusiastic crowd “Woos.” Honestly, I think this is the jam of the year. While Tahoe’s “Tweezer” was far longer, this jam contains the most original and innovative music dropped by Phish this season. Tahoe’s “Tweezer” consists of many themes pieced together, all which sound like Phish. Denver’s “Chalk Dust” contains a more vicious flow from start to finish while containing groundbreaking music that pushes the boundaries of Phish universe. In the end, there is no need to compare the two, but I felt I needed to if I was claiming “Chalk Dust” to be the jam of the year. In the end, this “Chalk Dust” raised the state of the game to an entirely new level, foreshadowing mind-bending possibilities for fall tour.

8.30.13 (Jake Silco)

8.30.13 (Jake Silco)

One might think after such an extended exercise, the band would follow with a breather. But on this night, they moved directly into their most prolific modern jam vehicle, “Light.” The intense, laser-focused interplay of “Chalk Dust” spilled right into “Light” as the band crafted a short, but densely packed piece. Fishman stayed behind the wheel as the band followed his lead en route to a fast paced, immensely creative passage.

All summer Trey has used “46 Days” as a landing point for profound voyages, and he made the same decision on Saturday by settling the set’s initial 30 minutes of jamming into the blues rock anthem. Shying from a funked out ending like the other versions of summer, Trey, instead, elected to use both “Steam” and “Free” as a slow funk release valve for the raucous intensity that defined the opening half of the set. “Steam” entered some slithery textures before the band moved into “Free,” which got a little extra loving of its own. These two songs paired to form a mid-set groove session before the final third of the frame unfolded.

8.30.13 (Graham Lucas)

8.30.13 (Graham Lucas)

When Phish revved up “2001” late in the set, I felt a “You Enjoy Myself” coming out of it to end the set on a celebratory note. But much to my surprise, Trey kept his delay loop going at the peak of the jam and he laid down the opening lick to “Tweezer!”  Hello!! With a move that took most everyone by surprise, this set was about to get a hell of a lot better—and boy did it! Once again following the infectious rhythms of the Greasy Troll, the band threw down a cathartic version of “Tweezer” that absolutely brought the house down. Moving with an urgency through several different feels from the uplifting to the thick groove, the band absolutely slayed the song’s first rendition since Tahoe, peaking the show with absolute ferocity. When I re-spun this “Tweezer,” it was even more impressive than I remembered live—a certain keeper and the perfect way to cap this set.

The band ended with a relatively conventional run through “Number Line,” allowing everyone a moment to catch their breaths and find their marbles after quite the night of music. When Trey came out for his encore, he spoke of how much fun they had this summer and how much they are looking forward to their first fall tour in three years. The band then played Willie Nelson’s “On the Road Again,” a move that conveyed ultimate enthusiasm for their current endeavors. And when they ended with “Tweezer Reprise” everything felt perfect in the world. Apparently Phish loves the last day of August, as each of the last two shows on that date have elevated in full. When this night ended, one got the sense that this performance was what we came for. Sunday would undoubtedly be great, but Saturday was IT. And damn, was it good.

I: Buried Alive, AC/DC Bag, Wolfman’s Brother, Yarmouth Road, Fee, Halfway to the Moon, The Wedge, Halley’s Comet > Bathtub Gin, Bouncing Around the Room, Mound, Gumbo, Run Like an Antelope

II: Chalk Dust Torture, Light -> 46 Days > Steam -> Free, Joy, Also Sprach Zarathustra > Tweezer > Backwards Down the Number Line

E: On the Road Again* > Tweezer Reprise


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527 Responses to “The State of the Game”

  1. little umbrellas Says:

    2 Step Garage, Dub and Trap are all seeing are all seeing an influx of jungle DnB breaks. bringin back some double time to this shit

  2. Fly Says:

    I think if anyone is taking personal offense to anything said on the internet, well, that can be a slippery slope. But that’s just like, my opinion, man

    That’s why I often find PT hilarious, because everyone there seems to embrace this fact and just incessantly troll each other

    Now that doesn’t mean that I want everywhere to be a trollfest, because that would be terribly boring. It’s fun to create communities and watch them develop cultures, and the BB’s culture is pretty sweet, IMO. When the music gets hot and Phish is transforming, it makes sense that the board would shift and change and react

    And finally for the sake of clarity my post several pages ago about lurking being safe was meant only as a self-ribbing about my lack of contribution to the conversation in recent months

    TLDR: All is good on BB

  3. little umbrellas Says:

    Nice J. I caught one at Indio and was stoked on it. Great tune.

  4. Foul_Domain Says:

    @Al – how about “Phish Jams Dicks”?

  5. snow Says:

    Fela is the only thing keeping babylon at bay right now.

    Tfletch is a great kid

    Fuck, I broke about six or seven air guitars this weekend.— Tim Fletcher (@tfletch2) September 4, 2013

  6. Foul_Domain Says:

    This Dust just gets better and better with each listen. I must have been a bit spun during the webcast to not have been more excited at the time.
    Fishman is just blowing my mind throughout this jam – he just doesn’t let up!!

  7. kayatosh Says:

    everything from ’13 (save a few early tour whale outs) sounds so crisp and awesome. e.g., BGCA Bold as Love — $$$.

  8. little umbrellas Says:

    Heard this one?: What’s the differance between Jam and Marmalade?

    (joke has a potentially inappropriate answer)

  9. Foul_Domain Says:

    Happy wedding anniversary to CK5 by the way…

    Sept. 4th, 1999 – Chris Kuroda’s wedding:

    Set 1: Ya Mar, Poor Heart, Funky Bitch, Back on the Train, Water in the Sky, Possum[1]

    [1] Chris Kuroda on lead vocals.

  10. MrCompletely Says:

    I know a William Gibson ipsum lorem when I see one and I’m lookin’ at one right now…

    “I think stage setup and guitar change were both fundemental components of Treys improvement.”

    seems reasonable

    @kaya, I’m fine with right off the template versions of good songs if they’re crisply and inventively played…of course a lot of the highly structured technical stuff has to stick to the template or it just breaks, you can’t start freeballin’ it during Guelah or whatnot…but I mean songs like Gin or CDT that can be right on the template, or have an expanded but still linear jam, or can go wide open

    I’m always down for an open jam but just because they stick to the normal overall contour doesn’t make a particular version boring, it’s just that it puts all the heat on the details of invention & execution

  11. MiA Says:

  12. kayatosh Says:

    ^^^ yes, C. I get off on that type of phish just as much as the free improv stuff. We haven’t consistently had that super crisp, on the fly, inventive, nailing shit phish in some time.

  13. MrCompletely Says:

    “That’s why I often find PT hilarious, because everyone there seems to embrace this fact and just incessantly troll each other”

    PT is as much an outgrowth of 4chan/anon style internet culture as it is a Phish/jam band forum. Thus the combination of extremely free and often very amusing creativity, absurdly over the top trolling, and frequently quite disturbing offensive outbursts.

    Interesting place. Don’t have the time for it, but interesting.

  14. Foul_Domain Says:

    Agree 100% @MrC

    I loved the Miami ’09 Sand, which didn’t get any love cause it stuck totally within the sand groove the entire time, but there are some subtleties in Mike’s and Trey’s playing that made me love that jam. Some of the best ‘high energy’ Phish moments come in type 1 jams.

  15. snow Says:

    I was really hoping to create a
    “Oh shit, now snow is going to get into it” effect. Needed a wall of text and nobody’s is sexier William Gibson.

    free-market rifle industrial grade garage nodal point. indeed.

    Chiba concrete j-pop garage dome – sounds good too.

    Fuck you babylon and your giant waste of life and beauty.
    You will be our bitch before this is over!

  16. little umbrellas Says:

    Finished the Sand, onto the Chalkdust. (Fishman DnB discussion: member his beats in last years LongBeach RnR? He was laying it down but the band didn’t exactly jump on it, hoping this CDT continues the evolution of such path)

    ^^ Answer: I cant marmalade it up your ______’s Ass. ( _______ , insert girlfriend/boyfriend/moma, daddy, whateva)

  17. angryjoggerz Says:

    Little Um – Chicago Juke/footwork is really driving that drum and bass beat revival thing – bunch of those guys got signed on Planet µ and Hyperdub – both with label managers who are from the dnb/jungle background. I hope to see actual jungle re-emmerge as I greatly prefer it to dnb, and I can see it coming. Actual dnb seems to be coming back too, with a return to the half/full time thing which allows for a lot of flexibility of genres as long as the tunes are generally in the 65/70/80 and 130/140/160 bpm range, which would include Trap, dubstep, juke and even hip hop. Good shit.

  18. Foul_Domain Says:

    I love the old school ‘Splits’ where they didn’t stray too far but just kept throwing nasty psych licks over top of the standard Split groove. Just let Fish and Mike worry about the 16th notes, while Trey goes off.
    3.0 Splits don’t do that anymore

  19. little umbrellas Says:

    Aj, most def. Hearin ya. Caught a lot of great Trap halftime bass culture music that would eventually build into some full on Jungle peaks, big halftime return drops out of the breakdowns. Satisfying.

  20. lumpyhead Says:

    if you ask me they really nailed on the road again…

  21. angryjoggerz Says:

    Yeah, diggin it. Very reminiscent of that sort of mid-90’s metalheadz sound. I prefer actual Jungle everytime (big it Congo Natty) but it is cool to hear how things are mashing together. Bass culture.

  22. little umbrellas Says:

    joggerz, ……But interesting note you make about dancing influencing the direction of sound. If you’ve seen any badass vids from the Chicago style you mention, I’d watch em.

  23. MiA Says:

    I think Joggerz has dropped a ton of that stuff on here. He’s pretty much the go to expert around here.

  24. snow Says:

    Sweet Nothing was pure heaven for me.
    On the Road Again was sweet too.
    But Sweet Nothing… that has been my go to slay everybody at the end of the night song for years. and everyone’s usually like “what’s this? Where did you find this?”

    Just loved the shit out of it. best bust out for me ever.

  25. jdub Says:

    Some choice debut and probably 1 time covers this weekend

    Easy to Slip
    On the Road Again
    Legalize It

    All well done and all very fitting to the moment.

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