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

*debut

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527 Responses to “The State of the Game”

  1. Fly Says:

    Ah snap, phlorida. Been too crazy with the new job, missed it. Hope u guys have a fun year.

  2. Mr. Bull Twinkle Says:

    The Chalkdust gets better with every listen. Great stuff going on. And like all weekend, Fishman is really playing well.

    Can I also mention, I would take Ghost, Buried Alive, and ASIHTOS as openers any old day. All leading to first sets that I thoroughly enjoyed every night.

  3. Mr.Miner Says:

    stoney. you can log into my account.

  4. joe Says:

    any webcast rips of night 3 floating around? The one on youtube is really out of sync. joeblackboard at yahoo if you can point me in the right direction. thanks

  5. Mr. Bull Twinkle Says:

    10:15 mark of Carini sounds a lot like Two Versions of Me. Same 2 chord groove.

  6. sumodie Says:

    Wow, dickie3 set 1 is terrific thru Guelah on replay

    Bgca rnroll also a serious treat

  7. Corey Says:

    @Mia, sorry to hear that news. Cancer sucks. Has been rampant in my family for generations, not to mention taking a few friends and idolized cousin into the beyond far too early. Hope your friend beats it back just like the first time.

    While I’m at it: @Mr. C, I hope all is improving with your better half. I haven’t been posting much but…have been reading. I wish the best for you and your family.

    Meantime, @sumodie posted:
    <>

    That is exactly my dilemma. And, as you know, I’m coming in from Germany.

    I also need tickets, as I was denied those shows. My old home place>Reading is a go though. Deciding whether (or not) 4 days of intense hiking up in NH is the better use of my limited time, back in the states. Guaranteed good times….Listening to my own Halloween selections…Nothing but beautiful scenery all around…Hmm, tough choice.

    Oh, and @voopa, nothing is coincidence with the two Coreys…

  8. Corey Says:

    @Mia, sorry to hear that news. Cancer sucks. Has been rampant in my family for generations, not to mention taking a few friends and idolized cousin into the beyond far too early. Hope your friend beats it back just like the first time.

    While I’m at it: @Mr. C, I hope all is improving with your better half. I haven’t been posting much but…have been reading. I wish the best for you and your family.

    Meantime, @sumodie posted:
    <>

    That is exactly my dilemma. And, as you know, I’m coming in from Germany.

    I also need tickets, as I was denied those shows. My old home place>Reading is a go though. Deciding whether (or not) 4 days of intense hiking up in NH is the better use of my limited time, back in the states. Guaranteed good times….Listening to my own Halloween selections…Nothing but beautiful scenery all around…Hmm, tough choice.

    Oh, and @voopa, nothing is coincidence with the two Coreys…

  9. Corey Says:

    ^let’s try w/o the
    @sumodie posted:
    Im sure if I skip ‘ween the phish costume will be siiiick
    If I go the costume will surely not be a fav (but still fun)

  10. Corey Says:

    ^^Now that’s a paddlin’!
    <>

  11. BingosBrother Says:

    Maybe Boy Meets Another Green World?

  12. Corey Says:

    ^OK, perhaps that paddlin’ was a coincidence. 🙂

  13. voopa Says:

    LOL!

  14. MiA Says:

    Thanks Corey and all. Fuck Cancer.

    Luckily the “large” tumor was not cancerous. It was a growing tumor, that had even wrapped around his optical nerve (he lost sight in his left eye after surgery) but luckily did not go to other parts of his body.

    We shall see on this one. Sometimes they just show back up I guess. 42% have an encore in another part of the brain. Praying/Vibing/Hoping that he doesn’t have problems with his other eye.

    Went from feeling great and bench pressing 275 lbs on Monday to his doctor saying a brain tumor had returned.

    Live while you’re young.

  15. little umbrellas Says:

    Taking Savage Mountain By Strategy……

  16. lumpyhead Says:

    fuck that, MiA! sorry to hear.

  17. jdub Says:

    That is great news @MiA. Glad it is not the c word and I hope all is well.

  18. dorn76 Says:

    3 shows, 2 Miner posts and about 2000+ comments to slog through.

    Who’s got my hetty bifocals?

  19. hazel mango Says:

    LU: welcome back from la playa, glad you survived!

    Reentry is a total beat down…
    To everyone I met at Dick’s, what a great time! Really wish I could have met more and made it to Sunday, but it all worked out very well ultimately.
    LOVED meeting all the Mrs. Obviously I adore Mrs. MiA, but how great to meet Mrs. ren, Mrs. T’sGhost, Mrs. Justino, and Mrs. Pham B.!! A bonus to get to say hi to Robear and the amazing and beautiful Stash.
    Met lumpy and AJ too. Such fun, and seriously, those corners at dicks are where it’s at!

  20. mehow Says:

    so does this mean that dicks chalk dust is now considered the greatest jam of all time, since it surpassed tahoe tweezer as the jam of the year? i noticed you avoided throwing greatest jam ever around in your artical and just was looking for some clarity

  21. Mr.Miner Says:

    to clarify—

    i still think the tahoe tweezer is the best thing to happen on planet earth. I feel parts of the chalk are so innovative that they seem more “important” to the future of the band than anything that came out of tweezer. SO therefore i call in the “jam of the year” for its innovation. Basically, they are both top shelf, sashimi grade bomb as fuck, best ever phish.

    that work?

  22. sumodie Says:

    NEW post >>>>>>

  23. mehow Says:

    it does thanks for everything miner!

  24. chris Says:

    don’t you guys think the chalkdust could have been much better if trey didn’t play the same chord for almost 10 minutes waiting for the woo’s to happen?

    it seemed like it was great for 15 minutes and then fishman set him up with that incredible breakbeat/double bass kick beat and when he had the opportunity to shred it again and blow it over the top, he just stalled…it was almost painful to watch

    still some good stuff this weekend but i think these were the weakest second sets of tour

  25. chris Says:

    don’t you guys think the chalkdust could have been much better if trey didn’t play the same chord for almost 10 minutes waiting for the woo’s to happen?

    it seemed like it was great for 15 minutes and then fishman set him up with that incredible breakbeat/double bass kick beat and when he had the opportunity to shred it again and blow it over the top, he just stalled…it was almost painful to watch

    still some good stuff this weekend but i think these were the weakest second sets of tour. I mean, i’ve been a huge fluffer of ’13 and i wanted to love these shows but i’ve listened to the goods multiple times and think the carini is by far the most interesting jam of the weekend

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