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. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    Show just sold out for tonight.

  2. BingosBrother Says:

    Tonight will be full of shenanigans. Gonna be a Timer kinda night, methinks.

    Can I get a pineal gland up in here?

  3. sumodie Says:

    Wheres Rooster? Hav a tic for him if hes in need

    I did txt / email him

  4. Berkeley Head Says:

    Totally C that’s partly what I’m saying; some of those bands that were inspired sounded like my band would have sounded had i started one: not good and only able to play one note. Reed called it the Ostrich note. I’m guessing that’s a note unable to leave the ground or one that lays huge eggs. Either way funny… and funny looking I might add… both Reed and Ostrich’s

    Sunday at Hartford…. Hmmmm. I sense a pre halloween slaying about to be thrown down.

    Yeah these last two shows were kind of a big deal. I feel like the band has been tapering like an Olympic athlete so as to be peaking to take the gold this week. Or Woosta was like when a number one ranked team finally shows their dominance in the round of 16 after having been valiantly tested in the first two rounds.

    Momentum is powerful!!!

  5. Berkeley Head Says:

    Duodenums any one? Duodenums? No? Ok, I’ll check back later

  6. KOOKS Says:

    Did anybody hear Iron Butterfly In a Godda da Vida during Ghost Saturday?

  7. halcyon Says:

    Cool read T3. Stings to not have stayed back east long enough for those shows.

    Really enjoyed listening to these past two nights. Something for everyone. Can’t wait to hear what unfolds this next week. Webcast has been purchased for AC.

    Does anyone know if the webcast can be played through a Roku? Or do I need to connect the computer to the TV?

  8. BingosBrother Says:

    Emus and ostriches can all fuck off. Hate em. Devils.

  9. Berkeley Head Says:

    MiA’s eagle from 75 yards out is also kind of a big deal; congrats dude… not sure if anyone gave you due props on that! Did you know it was good the moment it left the club face? And when you struck it did it feel like an arrow going through snow?

  10. little umbrellas Says:

    interesting read TIII. well written for someone form such a distant perspective.

  11. little umbrellas Says:

    ‘I Found A Reason’ could be a poignant song to play if executed at the right moment.

  12. Random Poster...Nutbag Says:

    I’m staying. Finishing my coffee… Finishing my coffee.


  13. MiA Says:

    Thanks BH! Hit into an elevated green and landed on a mound and it moved left. Walked up the hill and didn’t see my ball on the green. Walked around for 2 minutes.

    Finally MrsMiA said “look in the hole” and there ya go.

    Sadly didn’t get to see it go in. So little less excitement at the moment.

  14. Random Poster...Nutbag Says:

    Eagles are awesome. I’ve had only a couple in 30 years. Well done sir.

  15. Random Poster...Nutbag Says:

    Golf eagles that is 😉

  16. Berkeley Head Says:

    I hear ya MiA. That’s how I feel catching a megalodon on a wet fly vs a dry fly. I’m not sure I’ve ever made Eagle in from 75 for Eagle to compare it to. ha

    That Telegram article Tiii posted has priceless perspective. I’d like to know more about the author because he sure seems to know music and he sure seems to get IT and yet he knew nothing really about Phish. I wonder his background because it’s almost an inverted Man in Nature dynamic. He was pheral.

  17. P.S.H.S Says:

    oh btw, those of you who were at the back of the floor gordo side last night, you guys fucking killed it. every time I looked down there it was chaos! crazy throwdown. it did not go unnoticed.

  18. MiA Says:

    It was all luck. But my kinda luck.

    Par’d the next hole, which broke my streak of my usual PBFU.

  19. vapebraham Says:

    lil um: thanks for continuing the organ player list. i was paxinated and drawing blanks.

  20. MiA Says:

    Hope everyone has a great show tonight!

  21. vapebraham Says:

    spinning drowned w/ some starmont (merryvale) cab sav. 2009 — a great yr. for grapes. 2010 too. love merryvale. love drowned.

    love and happiness, people.

    eagle by mia — impressive. lou reed — not my bag, but mad props. had a buddy in college that loved that w/ nico banana album. i was cool with it. I’m waiting for my man is solid.

  22. Gavinsdad Says:

    Mike side sbd is def the spot back there. People aren’t playing since there is room to dance.

  23. Berkeley Head Says:

    Golf is hard.

    With regard to the Telegram article, my question now is did the author go back for more on Saturday night? In the very least, I bet he explores the catalog a bit more.

    MiA you called the Beatles sandwich and Eagle in the same week? What’s your call tonight? I like the Buried Alive opener call earlier.

  24. Berkeley Head Says:

    Add remember BBers in attendance, whatever you do “party tonight like you’ve got a hetty liver hook up!!” -Dr.P

  25. vapebraham Says:

    is this drowned for real? so money. trey darting in and out of a rich sonic landscape. $$$. from 8 min. on is the cream.

Leave a Reply