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


Tags: , ,

341 Responses to “Full Steam Ahead”

  1. butter Says:

    I clearly know to hit the back half of tours. That’s why the west keeps getting the sick summer shows. Not because the west is the best or anything 😉 This time the front half is what was available to me

  2. Stoney Case Says:

    Butter, dads living with their kids don’t get Halloween runs. You da man. You and Jiggs repppin West Coast proper.

    The head scratcher to me would be a young guy hitting the front of these tours and missing the obvious throw downs looming at Worcester. Bad move, eh?

  3. MiA Says:

    I’m an old guy that resembles that remark.

  4. sumodie Says:

    Hartford floor:

    “General Admission ticket holders should enter through the Church St. and Trumbull Street entrance

    Doors open @ 4:30

  5. BPM Says:

    Would they do an album with two drummers? Is that why Dennard Kenwood is with them??

  6. Mr. Palmer Says:

    Spun the opening threesome on ride home from work last night..

    Amazing stuff.. Jumping on for a quick hit tonight in Hartford.. Does the band take a breather or are we in store for another SUnday sermon from the Phish??

    Either way, I’m stoked to get back in the building with my peeps.. Nothing better..

    Sec. 124 tonight…hope to be there around 4pm.. See you there..

    Sunday Hartford Tweezer….that is all.

  7. sumodie Says:

    I heard fishman lay down a very obvious Shakedown beat during Sand. Anyone hear this in the sbd?

  8. Mr. Palmer Says:

    Nothing would sting more than missing a GD costume set if that is what goes down…nothing.

  9. revise your despise Says:

    Sounds like all the BBers in the house got exactly what they needed the last 2 shows. So happy for you guys!

    Still looking for my long shot ‘ween ticket. I know most people are locked in but also I know last minute changes happen sometimes. If anything opens up please let me know. hlw 1985 at gosh mail

  10. Marcoesq Says:

    Can’t wait to spin this. Hartford tonight!

  11. halcyon Says:

    Everyone wins with this recent run. Those there, those on couch tour!

    So how was the Possum sit in? Curious to hear this show.

  12. treasurereprise Says:

    Can’t believe I am missing my hometown New England run. But all the important variables dictated that Hampton > GF was what I could manage. I had a blast hanging with Butter, Miner and GavinsDad. So atoked the band has really ramped up the playing. I found myself yelling affirmations towards the stream instead of the muted World Series game on my tv. Here’s to the table being set for a great rest of 2013!

  13. Snigglebeach Says:

    What a roller coaster of a show. These 2 shows have to be selling some serious webcasts.

    First set was such bliss.
    I have to talk about that Bathtub Gin. When that song started, the entire (maybe) Phish family came out and family jam time on the side of the stage. At one point while the band was shredding,Fishman still had the headspace to engage the 3 little kids doing hula hoops. He was crushing the drums making faces at them. It was such a moment. It was like that segment was for the family. Gin, Ride, stash was like bed time for the youngsters. Then back to dark filthy Phish.

  14. voopa Says:

    Here’s where Fisnman was during the encore (watching and enjoying):

  15. halcyon Says:

    Would love a teleporter to Hartford tonight, AC next week, and MSG.

  16. Mr. Palmer Says:

    Kevin Shapiro ‏@shapsio 1m
    Sitting here in limbo waiting for the dice to roll. Sitting here in limbo got some time to search my soul…

  17. sumodie Says:

    Def a red herring from Shapiro. Cross that album off da list

  18. willowed Says:

    Just home. Wow. What a 2 night run. So much heat.

    see you in Hartford!

  19. Snigglebeach Says:

    @ voopa

    Fishman just stood there the whole encore. After he called him up there. He started boogie then called over a tech. I thought he must have broke a drum. The tech runs off to side, grabs Kenwood and brings on stage over to Fishman.

    I happened to be watching the whole sequence and it did not look planned at all to me. I guess this has to have something to do with Halloween cover. But me personally, after such an amazing 2 shows, I felt dick-punched that the very last song played, possum, was with a drummer that really did not know the song. He knew Boogie on perfectly, but was lost on Possum. Plus I was expecting Fishman to jump on rocket ship or flying hotdog or something, but he’s just chilling sidestage.

    All show though the word that kept coming to mind was patience. I think Willowed touched on it last night. Every band member was patient.

  20. sumodie Says:

    Woosta Waves is terrific. Mike lays down a sweet descending bass line early in the jam

    I see a jacuzzi in my near future; gotta get loosened up for the Sunday Sermon!

  21. treasurereprise Says:

    Can’t forget BigJig holding it the the fuck down in Hampton. I may not know very many BBers but am grateful for the ones I do.

  22. DaNcInG fOoL Says:

    Ren got his no quarter? Nice

  23. butter Says:

    Hey hole jamming in Light!!

  24. ElJefe Says:

    So Euro ’72 if there’s 2 drummers?

  25. butter Says:

    Ewwww slightly diff approach to this Sand

Leave a Reply