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. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    I’d love new age but expect sweet Jane and probably RnR

  2. vapebraham Says:

    cool it down

  3. voopa Says:

    RnR set ONE opener

    Oh! Sweet Nuthin’-> RnR Reprise > Tweezer Reprise encore

  4. MiA Says:

    Yeah, I’m not the biggest Lou Reed fan. Really surprised he got a liver transplant with his history of basically being a heroin and drug addict.

  5. DaNcInG fOoL Says:

    Not the biggest Lou reed fan? He’s only one of the top ten most influential people in modern music.

  6. little umbrellas Says:

    White Light White Heat!

    Legit Paug indeed!

    -Waves Carini Drowned Light-

    “richard groove holmes, dr. lonnie smith, arthur neville, and robert walters,” john patton, jimmy smith, john medeski, larry young, merl saunders, brent, melvin seals, greg allman, keith emerson, steve winwood, billy preston, booker t., Ron “Pigpen” McKernan, …..

    enjoyed your list @ Vape, wanted to keep the flow.
    Massive Page love this tour. Piano, Clav, Organ, Rhodes!, Synths, Talk Box

    Chi Piper: Talk Box!

  7. William H. Bonney Says:

    Crosby and lesh stilling running around thx to the mayo clinic. Membership has its privileges.

  8. MiA Says:

    Well those “top 10” lists are arbitrary at best. Fuck, Mutt Lange is more influential. Don’t worry about telling me how brilliant Lou Reed was. I’ve heard everything he’s done. Just … Meh to me.

    He is well loved amount the real stoner fucks though. Just think it’s ok. 2 chords is pushing it, three is jazz.

    I’m too into composition to be so simplistic. Same reason never dug the song heroin.

  9. MiA Says:


  10. little umbrellas Says:

    F7/F# You’re over the hill right now
    Esus4 And you’re looking for love

    these two chords! so nice.
    from the Loaded version of New Age but not on the other later version with different lyrics.

  11. DaNcInG fOoL Says:


  12. MrCompletely Says:

    I’m with @mia mostly. I respect Lou Reed and everyone’s love for his music but very little of it has ever done anything for me personally. But that’s ok.

  13. MrCompletely Says:

    I do think his hyper jaded anti romanticism was desperately needed in music. He called bullshit on a lot of bullshit things so that’s the basis of my respect for him

  14. little umbrellas Says:

    took me a while to get it. but a very brilliant song writer. not just simplistic, very unique sense of melody. haven’t been listening to much and usually don’t. but I’ll go on a little VU kick for a bit.

    Oi MrC. member what yous sayin about Waves in terms of having both quality in lyrics and jam? Maybe also Light is in that standing.

  15. MiA Says:

    100% agree with C. Great change up to rock music hitting the world in 1970 and represented grungy 1970 NYC like no other. VU are an amazing band, but post ’70-’71 didn’t really feel like he added much. That’s 40 years after his “explosion” of greatness.

    But he did write about a lot of stuff that was verboten previously. Broke new ground.

  16. sumodie Says:

    Pretty sure it’s illegal or at least unethical for the healthcare industry to discriminatebased on one’s past behavioral choices

    Tho for transplants and the like they will assess the likelihood of one making healthy choices in the future, the results of which could prevent / delay receiving a transplant

  17. sumodie Says:

    Huge VU

    Never followed Reed’s solo career beyond the classic greatest hits

  18. MrCompletely Says:

    @um, sure, but I think Waves is a better lyric. Light is good but has cheesy elements to it.

    Here is my positive Lou Reed memorial contribution. Turn this one up loud.


  19. MrCompletely Says:

    also he was rich as fuck. rich people get transplants. period.

  20. MiA Says:

    Pretty sure it’s illegal or at least unethical for the healthcare industry to discriminate based on one’s past behavioral choices

    It is not illegal. Not unethical. If a doctor things you have hepatitis from drug use, likely to abuse alcohol, or drugs, they may be reluctant.


  21. sumodie Says:

    Yup, ability to pay helps immensely in healthcare

    Being well known & white also useful

  22. little umbrellas Says:

    he kind of represents a different trajectory in music for me.
    Do you guys like Sonic Youth, the Pixies, the Breeders… have a feeling these guys related to Lou more than say Jerry…

    alternative, grunge beginnings perhaps.

  23. little umbrellas Says:

    yeah, i could see how Waves is more subtle in it’s depictions and incites.

  24. Snow Says:

    Dcu2 dl code anybody? 🙂

  25. P.S.H.S Says:

    Isn’t joe Walsh on liver #3?

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