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:

    “futuristic music in that DUST oh yes sir!”

    Funny how this line came up here, and yet completely summed up my week. Fast breakbeats makin a simultaneous come back in different worlds.

    Takin this DUST on the road, goin for a bike ride with Fishman in my ears. Much love yall.

  2. chris Says:

    I have to make my honest contribution regarding a couple things I heard from the dicks run. First, I agree completely about Fishman being mvp. I think that doesn’t just go for dicks, but 2013 as a whole. That’s the reason it’s been the best tour of 3.0 yet.

    Unfirtuately, while Fish continued his dominance, dicks was a step backward. I’ve listened to the Chalkdust several Times. It doesn’t deserve to be in the same sentence as the tahoe tweezer. The clear minded focused energy trey and page had brought to tour wasn’t there at dicks. You could see trey was there to relax and just have fun. The chalkdust could have been epic, it was for 15-18 minutes, but instead of trey taking it to outer space when the time came, he was content to hit power chords for 10 min. Straight over the same groove. Until he got his woos that is. Same goes for a few other opportunities. Not bad shows, but nothing to cement this tour into the record books.

  3. little umbrellas Says:

    Michael Kearney and the White Cat

  4. roberto luongo Says:

    Trey’s light minimal chord hits that he’d let ring over the DnB groove and the light background Page coloring is hands down my fav section of phish since the return

    those subtle chord hits were just so tasty and well placed you barely noticed them but gave the groove just enough melody to continue the feel of the more melodic intro section

    my fav 3.0 jam

  5. MrCompletely Says:

    yeah him not taking the lead is totally intentional and key to the whole thing IMO. Trey gets plenty of chances to lead and is never shy about taking over when he wants to. Cool to hear the color work.

  6. roberto luongo Says:

    but that’s my Fish

    I could listen to Fish play drums with mike in the pocket and Trey and Page laying back all day long.

    immediately it felt like the best 04 DnB feel jams but with that tasty 3.0 cerebral minimal fusion feels.

    that aggressive driving beat came back a bit in Piper too and parts of Sand.

    that is what we need kids. if Fish and Mike groove like that Troy should take the old keyboard out. start getting real weird.

    psych fusion DnB FTW!

  7. bob dylan Says:

    littleumbrellas, where did you see music this past week? i wanna see kendrick. sucks about major lazer tho.

  8. ND_whitehat Says:

    I took away from Dicks that the curved brim is still very much in favor. In addition, the respectable fan was still comfortable with supporting a favorite college team, regardless of the color of the hat. Although the desecration of the hat with pins and marker seemed a bit more Purdue style, or even Purdue-Calumet, than that of the more elite, but simple, ND white hats.

    Did you know per Urban Dictionary that one the of the definitions of white hat is as follows: “they act the same way they did in high school”

    isn’t that interesting??

  9. roberto luongo Says:

    Trey in Tweezer! Trey in Gin! Trey in Caspian!

    actually some of the tastier non wanking Trey in a while came out at Dicks

    felt like a great mix between cerebral chordal work like in CDT and hard ass next level shred like Gin, Antelope, Theme, and Wolfman’s

    dude was on. ears wide open waiting for space and allowing others to fill it.

    telling you listen to the Carini beginnin of the jam where everyone falls out and Fish sets off the craziest sequence of rotating variations with a tasty little tom roll.

    high level stuff yo. just gotta know what to look for

  10. MiA Says:

    Trey in Esther!

  11. Kaveh Says:

    Drive by:

    I have two Sunday Hampton’s I need to get rid of. Anyone need?

  12. Fly Says:

    @AJ Fantasy football is pretty mindless. You can let the software pick your team for you. It will do this automatically if you don’t participate in the live draft.

    If you are trying to use this to gain some cred as a “normal guy,” I recommend spending five minutes a week before the games on Sunday to make sure that none of the players in your “starting lineup” are injured. If any are, you can select a player from your “bench” (you will probably have four to six players on your bench) and replace the injured player.

    Hit me up on email or facebook if you care for more advice. Have fun with it!

  13. angryjoggerz Says:

    Thanks, turns out they just needed someone to register to fill it up or something, so I am all good. It does auto everything so I wont have to do anything or pretend to know something that I don’t. I doubt anyone would believe that I was into football, and pretending sounds like a horrible idea.

  14. roberto luongo Says:

    yes as admitted before seeing most my shows 93-96

    crushed It’s Ices, gorgeous psychedelic Esthers, and well placed Fees all had me in my teenage youngin early phish space.

    I LOVE big jams that would develop 99-2004 but the songs that always hit me are the one’s from when I was a kid.

    like I said to my old school bro at DIcks. we are old enough to remember when Funky BItch was a sick kick down!

  15. roberto luongo Says:



  16. BingosBrother Says:

    Biebs rocked the DMT flatbrim.

  17. Stoney Case Says:

    Unreal how we hooked up the proto type over the top costume wearing Phishie with a poster we didn’t want to carry. and it turns out to be @Snow’s BFF! Fucking serendipity right there! REally glad your bro appreciated it so much. We rarely hook up strangers like that, but it felt right. Even though dude was rocking a cape and an inflatable palm tree crown! Seemed like a genuine guy. Then, the fact that Wilson T-shirt guy was the intended recipient made the whole thing awesome.

    Then the fact that it was your bro’s from WA just split my head for a minute. Good times with Snow and co.

  18. bob dylan Says:

    ^was perusing youtube and found this black crows cover. its nice.

  19. Stoney Case Says:

    checks email, checks text messages,


  20. RicksFork Says:

    I completely agree RL. We talk about that a lot amongst my crew of friends that started going to shows in ’95. We get so hung up today chasing the next epic jam (rightfully so), but we all have such a soft spot for the old school stuff that got us hooked at our first shows and on the tapes that we all traded and played to death. Nostalgic Phish.

  21. Stoney Case Says:

    Truth be told, we found a stub for Saturday. BUT NOW I CAN’T FIND IT. MY MIND IS GONE FROM ALL OF HAL AND AW’S DABS!

  22. plord Says:

    AJ: My teenager is all into Trap and I’m laughing. Hey, look, the Amen break! Oooh, 808 kicks and cowbells! Some Jack Dangers meets Autechre meets Derrick May sounding shit! SO FRESH.

    Every 6.73 years like clockwork baby, the kids rediscover old Roland gear and try to be edgy.

  23. Fly Says:

    Woah Custybear slow your roll bra

  24. Stoney Case Says:


    😎 caps off now

  25. BingosBrother Says:

    RL would’ve hooked you up stoney, but he went over to PT.

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