Gee, It’s Good to be Back Home

10.22.13 Rochester (Jake Silco)

10.22.13 Rochester (Jake Silco)

Phish stepped into a room of legend on Wednesday night in Glens Falls, New York, and bounced back from their Tuesday night clunker with a fiery two-set performance. Leaving their rust in western New York, the band was on point from the get go on Wednesday, hitting Glens Falls in stride and treating the intimate 7,000 person audience to a high-octane mid-week performance.

10/23 Official (R.Kelly)

10/23 Official (R.Kelly)

When the band stepped foot in Glens Falls Civic Center—a room whose lone Phish show spawned their most popular holiday tradition—it was only appropriate to start right where they left of in 1994, with The Beatles “White Album.” Opening the show with the third-ever “Back in the USSR,” a song debuted in the same building 19 years ago (the other was 12.6.94), Phish quickly gave a nod to their seminal Halloween concert. Right away, one could tell Phish was a different band from the sluggish quartet that took the stage in Rochester. The guys sounded sharp, focused and enthusiastic from the jump, attacking their opening run of songs—including a popping version of “Undermind”—before truly igniting the show with a scorching, fifth-song “David Bowie.” Within the “Bowie” jam, the band illustrated a clear command over the music, displaying tight, full-band, tension-and-release jamming that was strewn with nuances and mini-peaks. Their willingness to take such a deep dive early in the show fully showcased the band’s confidence on this night in New York state.

The entire first set was comprised of tour debuts, less “Stealing Time,” and the fresh setlist got the crowd going early. One point of note—if only for a blazing set of blue balls—came in “Gumbo,” when Page took his final piano solo on clav and began to push it! Trey was even feeling it and hit a couple rhythms chords as accompaniment, but Fishman slowed down the backbeat and thus dissolved any shot of a jam. Also in the first set, the guys played a blazing version of “Limb by Limb,” featuring a wildy passionate solo by Trey.

10.22.13 (Jake Silco)

10.22.13 (Jake Silco)

Come the end of the set, the obvious choice seemed like “Antelope,” thus the band veered the other way and dropped an intense rendition of “Split Open and Melt.” So many times in this era, the band has gotten discombobulated during “Split,” often losing direction all together. But not last night as the guys remained notably coherent throughout this version. Even when the jam elevated to a space cloud and Captain Treyhab went on an intergalactic whaling mission, the band was able to return to earth and hit the ground running, tearing through the peak of “Split” with a fury and ending a very high quality, opening frame.

10.19.13 (J.Silco)

10.19.13 (J.Silco)

Tour’s first “Rock and Roll” opened Glens Falls’ main event, but things didn’t exactly go as one might expect. For the first time since tour’s first show, the band didn’t go huge on their second set opener, this time electing for a concise jam that seemed to end prematurely. As Fishman dropped into half-time, “Rock and Roll” seemed primed for take off, but before anyone could get their bearings straight, Trey strummed a signal to wind things down, and up came “Seven Below.” Phish allowed this second jam in the set to breathe considerably more than the first, as Trey took center stage with precise, six-string theatrics. Though this piece never moved too far from its theme, “Seven Below” gave the band the confidence they needed as a unit to dive into the centerpiece of the set—“Twist.”

On most nights, Phish places their largest improvisational effort on the second set opener, giving shows in which they do not, completely different contours. This show was weighted towards the back of the second set, as the two most impressive jams of the night were the final two—”Twist” and “Harry Hood.” During “Twist’s” contained jam, Trey bucked convention and set his sights much higher, speeding up the piece into wide-open territory. Where so many “Twists” have gone dark before, this one turned towards the heavens as the band opened the magic door to some awe-inspiring music. Locked in and playing as a single unit, the guys navigated a cathartic, uptempo jam for some time before hitting a change with which things turned ethereal and majestic. A extended down tempo segment in which the band played some truly sacred music provided the final piece of this melody-driven “Twist”—the shining gem of the night.

“Velvet Sea” bridged us to the second-place highlight of the show—“Harry Hood.” The throwback environs must have evoked something in Trey, because it had been quite a while since he laid into a “Hood” jam—and peak—like he did on this one. Moving from a plinko-esque beginning to a staggering end, this “Hood” is a must hear for any Phish purist. Trey’s exquisite playing throughout this version is enough to send shivers down any fan’s spine.

10.22.13 (Jake Silco)

10.22.13 (Jake Silco)

Following a surprise “Chalk Dust” closer, Phish brought things full circle, playing for an encore, the one song from the “White Album” that remained in Phish’s repertoire—”While My Guitar Gently Weeps”—a move, in and of itself, that spawned a tradition. As we move to Worcester, and tour’s halfway point, we have begun to see the development of a legitimate Fall run of shows. The band has been on fire every night less one, and each of those shows has produced a timeless piece of creative Phish—“Carini,” “Ghost,” “Tweezer” and “Twist.” What will come next is anybody’s guess, but if I were in a few hundred mile radius of New England this weekend, I’d make it a point to get to Worcester and Hartford to find out.

I: Back in the U.S.S.R., Stealing Time From the Faulty Plan, Water in the Sky, Undermind, David Bowie, Golgi Apparatus, Gumbo, Yarmouth Road, Camel Walk, Horn, Limb By Limb, I Didn’t Know, Split Open and Melt

II: Rock and Roll > Seven Below, Alaska, Twist > Wading in the Velvet Sea, Harry Hood, Chalk Dust Torture

E: While My Guitar Gently Weeps

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1,299 Responses to “Gee, It’s Good to be Back Home”

  1. Stoney Case Says:

    I can’t imagine dealing with customs and passports and a bunch of travel for this early stretch.

  2. MrCompletely Says:

    okay my point about in the room vs not is mostly that we are talking about two different things at once here. “How many songs will end up on the best-of” playlist is NOT the same thing as “was that a good or great Phish show if you were there?”

    To me the latter question is BY FAR the more important one, even though I’m strictly on couchtour myself. So my point is actually just that if all (or almost all) the heady vets in the room weigh in saying it was somewhere between really good and great, then that’s what it was, period.

  3. Gavinsdad Says:

    Really good. 🙂

  4. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    I can’t imagine dealing with customs and passports and a bunch of travel for this early stretch.

    then, perhaps, it is a good thing you are not, stoney

  5. Mr. Palmer Says:

    What about heady jaded noobs?

  6. bob dylan Says:

    i thought it was really good on couch ter. so i’d say were all on the same page here.

    unless telas chimes in and then we attack.

  7. MrCompletely Says:

    I’d prefer to let Stoney speak for himself.

    I haven’t heard last night or Rochester so what can I say? From a couchtour perspective, i.e. not in the room, I found Dick’s a bit underwhelming musically until the Chalkdust, so to me Hampton is right in line with that. Again I defer to the energy in the room and am pretty much just speaking from a “what’s gonna end up on my playlist” POV which is a worthless and totally subjective frame of reference.

    I fucking love the TweezerAge so that skews my take so far. Otherwise Hampton sounded very uneven to me. In the long run I’m pretty sure I’ll play that couplet a lot more often than the more linear and rock-oriented Tahoe crowd-pleaser and so that massive outlier, and the fact that the rest of the set after it was played with special sauce and no clunkers, has me in a good frame of mind.

    Combine that with the fact that I’m taking the in-the-room vets at their word last night, and I like the sound of a spacy Twist and whammied Split, and to me things seem okay.

    The sloppy tour starts are a bit much. Maybe they did practice this time and were just unlucky to get sick right then, but I heard a lot more rust than I should have considering how short the layoff was.

  8. MrCompletely Says:

    I will say this, it’s time for them to absolutely crush more than one night of a 3-night run.

    Personally I’d like to see a lot more emphasis on the outside, dissonant jamming. If Trey’s gonna whale, that’s where it works. Total coincidence that it’s my favorite style of music.

  9. Jerome Garcia Says:

    Goodbye Yellow Brick Road where the dogs of society howl

  10. jtran Says:

    when even jaded noob df says it was a great night you just gotta believe him

  11. MrCompletely Says:

    to broadly paraphrase, my understanding of Stoney’s concerns is that he’s worried about their batting average and overall trajectory. Are they going anywhere or just circling? Is there still more room before the 3.0 ceiling? Have they stalled out? Why don’t the really good sets happen a bit more often? That kind of thing. Plus, you know, whale.

  12. MrCompletely Says:

    @jtran, that is one big upside of being a noted hater, when you like something that’s not obviously in your wheelhouse it’s interesting

  13. Jerome Garcia Says:

    Unrelated Phish live music call going out to Illadelphia crew as a reminder of Robert Walter’s 20th Congress at World Cafe Live tonight. Tickets still available:

    Also for those in NYC area not going to Woosta RW20C w/ Eric Krasno tmrw nt at Brooklyn Bowl.

    Carry on w/ your regularly scheduled State Of The Band discussions…

  14. MrCompletely Says:

    Palmer, heady jaded noobs are into looped whale.

  15. bob dylan Says:

    phish webpage has gotta be one of the worst ones going. click on shit and it doesn’t exist.

    step up your game guys.

  16. plord Says:

    Dammit GD I’m sorry we missed each other. I was set up in the back seats with Neems, sound was outstanding and lots of room to groove.

  17. butter Says:

    they where 2/5 for my 5 night run

  18. bob dylan Says:

    need to school myself on robert walters. thought it was a typo for roger waters.

  19. dorn76 Says:

    Hope the trajectory is back on the upward trend after a small blip in Roch.

    Band basked in the glow of a special show with a loving crowd in GF, now getting a little rest/family time. Going to be primed for a big 3 night run.

  20. MrCompletely Says:

    phish webpage is a pathetic joke. I know at least forty people any two of which could build and maintain a better and more functional site than that in a month.

  21. Spasm Waiter Says:

    After listening to opening track on Yellow Brick Road, I am simultaneously confused, scared and intrigued by this possibility.

  22. MrCompletely Says:

    yeah 2 of 5 (with highlights in the 3) is a slow start to tour, I don’t argue that

  23. butter Says:

    last night was my favorite 1st set and 2nd fav 2nd set of first 5

  24. roberto luongo Says:

    my thoughts.

    band has dropped monsters from jump. Trey has been inconsistent from jump. his guitar tone has been all over the place. late summer he had that grittier harder tone that was biting through the mix and seemed hotter with less Ross. see BGCA Sand or Chi Piper. then he starts tour with the ocedoc again with less gain. creamier more compression and instead of whale accents back to the heavy whale use on every note. big swoops and bends.

    but Page and Fish have def progressed from 2009. pretty consistently gaining their creativity and chops back. as this has happened Mike has fallen back from his early 2009-2010 band leader position. this is the biggest shift I’ve seen. more busy Page on the grand and more creative active Fish with Mike more settling back and picking his spots. def less jam leading from Mike as the rest of the band picks up.

    but Trey is still Trey. sometimes he’s on (BGCA #3 set II, BGCA #1 set I) and sometimes not (Hampton #2 set II I watched). but ever since 2010 I think he’s been the inconsistent piece here. his tone and style is all over the place and he jumps from the 1991 style 40 song show to the whaled out type II psych of Hampton #3.

    but I feel we’ve peaked out here. a lot of very typical late sets. lot of very typical set I’s. not too much interesting playing in most type I jams and the occasional out of this world type II progressive jam when Trey brings it.

    just don’t see the focus and dedication from the band leader to have another Dec 95 or fall 97 style tour.

    in the current 3.0 set up always gonna suffer big swings night to night in quality and style IMO.

    but fuck compared to like 90’s GD. they are putting in effort. they are trying. I just think mostly Trey is content making a fan base happy and being happy playing music than an obsession with groundbreaking progressive psych rock like he was 94-00.

    too fuckin long.

    have fun on tour kids. cuz none of this post matters. getting spun with the people I love and dancing like it’s my last tweezer is all it’s about.

    theories and discussions of the band just seem silly.
    it’s fun and tweezers are fuckin great

  25. MiA Says:

    Favorite first set two. Even better if they wouldn’t have played that Melt.

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