Full Steam Ahead

10.19.2013 (Jake Silco)

10.19.2013 (Jake Silco)

Not slowing down for an instant after a stunning Friday night performance—in fact, placing their foot on the accelerator—Phish blew the roof off the Worcester Centrum on Saturday in a signature performance that evoked the spirit of the glory days. Wasting not an iota of time, the band was in full destruction mode from the moment they stepped on stage, playing a first set that was beefier and more artistic than many seconds we’ve seen in recent years. After the break, however, Phish played one of those sets we’ll remember forever; one of those sets without a single lull, not even for a second; one of those sets that leave one dripping with sweat and begging for more; one of those sets. And when Phish plays like it’s their last chance to do so for both sets, well, that’s when shows truly realize their potential. Saturday night in Worcester was one of these shows.

10/5-26 Official (J.Eads)

10/5-26 Official (J.Eads)

In recent tours, when Phish throws down a top shelf show, they usually take the first set the following night to exhale, taking things relatively slow. That is the opposite of what happened last night. To kick off the evening, Phish came out and crushed the most improvised version of “Party Time” they’ve ever played, stretching the piece out into the funk jam that everyone has imagined since it’s debut at Merriweather in ’09. This dance session harnessed Friday night’s lingering energy and channeled it directly into Saturday night’s show. We we cleared for take off.

Seizing the instant momentum they had created, the guys dropped into “Punch You in the Eye,” a move that kept the energy sky high and served as a second opener. And when Phish shows start with “Punch,” the band means business. Spirited renditions of “Back on the Train” and “My Soul” led into my favorite highlight of the opening set (and there were many), “Bathtub Gin.” Receiving far more creative treatment that so many of the stock versions of recent years, this jam set fire to the show in earnest and brought the room to, arguably, it’s highest single peak of the night with a dizzying, mid-set dance fiesta. Trey seamlessly wove the “Gin” lick back into the jam at it’s apex, toying with the melody as he led us to the promised land. This was a full throttle, first set “Gin” that saw the entire band lock into airtight interplay and set the bar for the rest of the night.

10.20.13 (Jake Silco)

10.20.13 (Jake Silco)

A bust out of “Ride Captain Ride” bridged the opening set to it’s most potent triumvirate—and out of character grouping of “Stash,” “Simple > Bowie.” The “Stash” blossomed into a menacing tension and release piece, infusing all sorts of grit and darkness into an otherwise upbeat set. Yet, it also included tangents and nuances that brought it far above the norm. “Simple’s” first appearance of tour came with slick setlist placement and kept the heavily improvisational vibe of the opening frame. A succinct, ethereal jam artistically bled into “David Bowie’s” intro, and, presumably, we had reached the last song of the set. But following a blistering rendition of their classic and complex jam vehicle, Phish closed with a bang, punctuating a prime-time opening half of music with “Character Zero.” And much like the night before, we knew we were in for a treat after setbreak.

10.18.13 (J.Silco)

10.18.13 (J.Silco)

Keeping things as fresh as ever, the band opened the second set with their seventh consecutive different song, this time choosing The Who’s “Drowned.” And out of it they would sculpt an exploratory odyssey that passed through several sonic stages. Once the band opened up the jam, it didn’t take long for them to move in an abstract direction, and it momentarily seemed like this would be direction they would explore. But over the mellow feel, Trey cut in with some rhythm chops and it didn’t take long for Fish to follow along. Together, they urged the band into fast-paced section of breakbeat-laced, percussive grooves. As this segment grew, it took on undertones of “Guy Forget,” but the band never fully committed to their rarity. This section illustrated how precise Phish’s communication is right now as they sliced and diced the music as a one-minded beast. And then came the arrival. The band moved moved into a bliss and bass laden pasture and before anyone knew what was developing, Trey offered the chords to Jimmy Cliff’s “Sitting in Limbo.” His bandmates immediately picked up on his cue, seamlessly moved into a full-fledged jam on the song. It seemed as though at any moment Trey would step to the mic for the song’s first verse, but it was far classier move to keep things instrumental. And thus developed one of the most sublime moments in recent Phish history. Just as the band had expressed all their ideas, Trey strummed the opening to “Light.”

10.19.13 (J.Silco)

10.19.13 (J.Silco)

The guys completely annihilated the opening contained section of the jam, twisting and gyrating as a unit through hyperspace as Trey unleashed an incredibly expressive solo. But when they settled into the open section of the jam, the band entered an utterly virtuosic exchange. Moving into the rhythmic paradigm, the guys explored the complexities of groove, as each member offered a mind-bending contribution to “Light’s” musical whole. This “Light” jam is not like Phish grooves you’ve heard before, rather something far more esoteric. This was innovative jamming at its finest, as Phish pushed the envelope further with this jam than any other of the night. When “Light” trickled to a stop, Trey decided to keep the groove thing going and led the band into a third-song “Sand.”

10.18.13 (J.Silco)

10.18.13 (J.Silco)

When Phish gets moving with such a head of steam, they just wanna keep lining ’em up and knocking ’em down, and so they did with their third consecutive heavy-hitter. A dramatic version of “Sand” built to a major league peak, and served as the final chunk of the set’s opening 45 minutes. Phish used “Theme” as a break from jamming and to set up a show-closing “Mike’s Groove” that would bring the audience to its knees. Trey employed a wah-plus-delay pattern to bounce the arena like a basketball during a very different “Mike’s” jam in which he never took a solo. When the guys slid into the atmospheric intro to “No Quarter”—Zeppelin’s master stroke on Houses of Holy—the audience responded with a roar. Slaying the classic cover, they moved into a spunky and dynamic “Weekapaug” to close the set. No lulls, no ballads, no filler—just high octane Phish from start to finish—and that is how we like ‘em!

I can’t quite express my gratitude to the band for these Worcester shows. I can’t recall four more powerful sets packaged over two nights strewn with so much creative improvisation. Quite literally, every jam they touched became a show highlight. These Worcester shows touched the very essence of why most of us fell in love with this band to begin with—unparalleled musical wizardry. When Phish is at the top of their game, there’s not a band in the history of music that can keep up. And right now, in the midst of their 30th Anniversary celebration, everyone is in the rear view mirror.

I: Party Time, Punch You In the Eye, Back on the Train, My Soul, Bathtub Gin, Ride Captain Ride, Stash, Simple > David Bowie, Character Zero

II: Drowned > Light, Sand, Theme From the Bottom, Mike’s Song > No Quarter >Weekapaug Groove

E: Boogie On Reggae Woman*, Possum*

* w/ guest drummer Kenwood Dennard on drums instead of Fishman


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341 Responses to “Full Steam Ahead”

  1. Berkeley Head Says:

    I love the hey chant by fish during light jam last night. Seemed perfect.

    I’m still laughing at scrambled porn. Yeah I can’t do it either. I want the first time to be like the first time

  2. Slicksasquatch Says:

    It drives me nuts when the crowd ends a jam or song . Folks ; we are here to listen not applaud.

  3. Esteban Says:

    @MiA the visualization of the teenage task of recording Showtime and late night Cinamax for all of the neighborhood to view is a healthy memory of mine

  4. little umbrellas Says:

    rhodes dreamin here balls deep in some GA funk


  5. GhostPhunk Says:

    “scrambled”… old enough to know it is kinda freaking me out. funny stuff.

  6. Slicksasquatch Says:

    XL Center
    Hartford, CT – October 27, 2013
    Show Poster by Jim Pollock – http://goo.gl/rpcnAD
    Unique Song Count – 184

    Set One: 8:10 pm – 9:26 pm

    Rock & Roll
    Halfway To The Moon
    Lawn Boy
    Nellie Kane
    A Song I Heard The Ocean Sing
    Walls Of The Cave

    Set Two: 9:59 pm

    Chalk Dust Torture >
    Tweezer >
    Birds Of A Feather
    Golden Age >
    Halley’s Comet >
    Also Sprach Zarathustra >

    Show Notes: Anastasio asked for a moment of silence for Lou Reed following Rock & Roll

    Show is looking balls from this angle .
    How was ASIHTOS? Pray tell it went deep

  7. voopa Says:

    So was there a legit > between Comet and ASZ? That could be $$$ right there.

  8. butter Says:

    jtran – we’ll get it

    oh sweet nuthin for encore

  9. Slicksasquatch Says:

    Up up up down

  10. little umbrellas Says:

    MrC. i think he meant to say, when they play the whole Europe 72 box set ;>

  11. butter Says:

    they’re really breathing life into 01

    that was the shit

  12. MrCompletely Says:

    “show interrupted in the 27th hour when Fishman leaps to his death rather than play Tennessee Jed again”

  13. MrCompletely Says:

    wait, so Chris Brown is sitting in jail right now? This night just got much sweeter

  14. little umbrellas Says:


  15. MiA Says:

    I think I’ve heard this second set before.

  16. Slicksasquatch Says:


  17. BingosBrother Says:

    Hence, the guest drummer. Fish is not playing Ocelot AND Jed.

  18. MrCompletely Says:

    why not? they’re the same song

  19. MiA Says:

    Thanks Slick.

  20. MrCompletely Says:

    you could just drum one of them and play both songs at once over top of it

  21. little umbrellas Says:

    dicks had a birds golden

  22. MiA Says:

    Like ZZ Top’s Eliminator.

  23. jtran Says:

    kinda looks like gorge 11

  24. jtran Says:

    maybe just tweezer and birds. don’t remember what else they played

  25. MiA Says:

    Show of Life Encore? Loving Cup?

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