Still Upside Down

10.20.13 (Jake SIlco)

10.20.13 (Jake SIlco)

Another day, another monster performance—this is getting just plain silly. Phish has hit a stride unseen since the late ‘90s, crushing shows night after night after night. Reading, Pennsylvania’s tour stop blew up with a second set that was nothing short of masterful. Totaling only six songs (plus “Grind), the main event was—again—served with no nonsense and almost all time spent in deep improvisational space. Jaw dropping jams out of “Down With Disease” and “Twenty Years Later” anchored a stacked up set of music that contained incredible flow from start to finish—another vintage frame of Phish.

10/29 Official (D. Welker)

10/29 Official (D. Welker)

The band opened Reading’s second set with “Down with Disease,” continuing their fall tour-long streak of new selections every night. And boy, did they make it count. Out of the jam’s wide open beginning, the guys drifted in an atmospheric direction, carving out a beautiful space in the piece’s first stage. But the story of this one would be how it ended. The final segment of this “Disease” was simply astounding, as Phish converged in an earth-shattering, bluesy peak in which Trey tore off championship melodies that sounded all but composed. If the Allman Brother’s Eat a Peach Halloween rumor has any weight, this jam could be an early indication of what is to come. Phish has been capping their jams with blues-based endings over the past year, and this “Disease” is perhaps their best. Pure hose and pure glory.

Tour’s first “Taste” served as a landing pad for “Disease’s” stratospheric excursion, and upon its ending, it seemed that Phish would take a breather with “Twenty Years Later.” What would transpire over the next fifteen minutes, however, was anything but mellow. For the first time in its five year lifespan, the band decided to jam on “Twenty Years Later,” and they went absolutely fucking ballistic. Trey began hitting rhythm licks over the song’s creeping, ominous texture, and before anyone knew it, we were neck deep in menacing dance floor fantasy. This jam provided a portal to the year 1997, as Trey got straight pornographic in this groove-centric revelation. And if this wasn’t enough to quench our thirst, the band moved out of the thick musical jungle into an uplifting final sequence that was also along the bluesy spectrum. And just like that—in less than a set—we had two more jams we’ll be listening to for the rest of our lives.

10.19.13 (J.Silco)

10.19.13 (J.Silco)

At this juncture, one might have figured that a ballad was inevitable, but instead, Phish kept plugging away and segued into “Piper.” The band exploded into the jam, as Trey let out cries of victory, unleashing furious guitar leads. And then he stepped back into a rhythmic role, slicing the music as the band chugged behind him, locked in relentless attack mode. Without even a tad of complacency, the guys tore this “Piper” to shreds as the third central jam of the set.

The band used an upbeat interlude of “Number Line,” a song whose performances have carried a fresh energy this tour, before closing the night with an old-school, groove-based take on “You Enjoy Myself.” Trey has been playing rhythm more during this tour more than at any time since the band’s ’09 return, and last night he applied these brushstrokes to the band’s classic funk vehicle. The building popped off with this dynamic “YEM,” as the night closed—or so we thought—with notable intensity.

10.27.13 (C.LaJaunie)

10.27.13 (C.LaJaunie)

When Phish came out with a “Bouncin” encore, one felt that they might finish up with “Antelope.” But no matter what was going through any fan’s mind, I am pretty sure that not single person in the arena predicted “Reba.” And that is exactly what came next. Unveiling the first—and, likely, only—“Reba” of tour in the encore slot, the band swept the crowd off their feet one last time for the night with a passionate, though succinct, rendition. And the band played on, choosing to stay for one more with Zeppelin’s “Good Times, Bad Times.” Take that for an encore!

They say time flies when you’re having fun, and these past couple weeks have been the most fun that human beings can have on planet earth. Needless to say, it’s hard to believe we will be heading to Atlantic City tomorrow for our long-awaited Halloween extravaganza. Will it be the Allman’s Eat a Peach? Will it be The Band’s Rock of Ages? Those are the going theories. Regardless of what album is chosen, however, the more exciting part is that we still have six more sets of Phish before the fat lady sings for this season. Soak it in folks, because who knows when when we’ll be on fall tour again. These are special times.

Set One Notes: Phish reeled in their first set considerably from their past four, playing a short set of standard rotation songs, less “Walk Away.” “Wolfman’s” delivered early, remaining one of the band’s most consistent first set songs, though “Split Open and Melt” provided the improvisational highlight of the opening half. The guys seemed to have another “Split” jam on lockdown, but before trying to remerge with the songs theme—the part of the song that traditionally gives them trouble—Trey bailed on the idea entirely, abruptly starting up “Julius” in the first head scratching move of tour.

I: Cars Trucks Buses, Stealing Time From the Faulty Plan, Ginseng Sullivan, Wolfman’s Brother, Sparkle, Walk Away, Divided Sky, Split Open and Melt > Julius

II: Down with Disease > Taste, Twenty Years Later > Piper > Backwards Down the Number Line, You Enjoy Myself, Grind

E: Bouncing Around the Room, Reba, Good Times Bad Times

10.27.13 (Chris LaJaunie)

10.27.13 (Chris LaJaunie)

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1,864 Responses to “Still Upside Down”

  1. Gavinsdad Says:

    Just large sections of really unique effortless music being made. I really need to study more of these jams, even just the stuff I’ve seen.

    On my end, and this isn’t because I can’t make Halloween nite, I love the way the AC weekend is laid out. The big shebang on Thurs and then two shows where the pressure is somewhat off in a building they have an affinity for. Could be the perfect scenario for more destruction.

  2. mmmhmm Says:

    I’m all about Phish destroying Jersey. Wipe that place off the map.

  3. Gavinsdad Says:

    And it’s funny because two of NYC taping elders were sbd right…guys I know well. Dan Petrafesa and Elliott Byron…I wonder if they actually know what’s up with “the real taper 420”

  4. vapebraham Says:

    last night was fun and filled my cup.

    $$+ show overall. Fairly boring first set knocks it down from $$$. show was well-played with Divided being an execution showcase. Sparkle came off clean too. Walkaway did nothing for me in that slot. fairly uninteresting tune. at least 1 instance of offensive whaleage.

    $$+ — $$$ (exceptionally great) set II that went by fast. One complaint is numberline. even though it was played well, would have loved just about anything else in that slot. or better yet more of that piper. Everyone was jazzed for the reba and I thought it was good to hear and a great version $$. love the GxBx sendoff. that one sizzled. will be spinnin set II today.

    w/ mixed feelings i’m opting out of AC. family man’d. Should do friday, but once i opted out of sat., fri. fell victim to laziness. i’ll webcast and sleep in my own bed. i know, i suck at phish.

  5. MiA Says:

    I’d fly from Japan to see 2/3rds of this band right now. So frigging amazing.

    I should just get on a plane, pay the tax and end my career with one giant blowout. $2k? I’ve spilt more liquor than that.

  6. mmmhmm Says:

    Kaya wanna shake your Sat ticket?

    a dab mill er @ g

  7. phoammhead Says:

    GD, I’m with you on the Halloween in the 1st slot then a couple more nights FTW! can. not. wait.

    we leave after work today driving half way . . . butterflies . . . I’m getting that feeling again

  8. MiA Says:

    No question to me, listening through (arguably one of the best) glory holes, the band didn’t want to quit playing. I called the Reba, because … Of course that’s what you do when you’re playing like that.

    Hooked up is the easiest listening sound that phish makes to me. I don’t care what they’re doing with their instruments.

    Still high after last night.

  9. Mr. Bull Twinkles Says:

    Yep MiA. Sounded like they did not want to stop

  10. Kenny Powers Says:

    Looks like a SICK show last night!

    I wanted to share the following description of the current state of Phish my friend sent via email. I think it’s pretty much spot the fuck on:

    “To borrow a phrase from my favorite Hawaiian Right Fielder, Phish is rejubilated. We all know this, but I feel like I myself have said this on at least a couple of occasions since they came back in ’09. Man, I had no idea they could back to this height. It’s all there: the creativity, the groove, the listening, the oneness, the rhythmic, tonal, a harmonic complexity. It is SO SICK that it’s not even remotely possible to dismiss someone who is talking about August ’93, Fall ’94, December ’95, Fall ’97 and Summer/Fall 2013 in the same breath. People can disagree all they want but at this point it’s up there AND FALL TOUR ISN’T EVEN HITTING STRIDE YET.

    I am so fucking jealous of all you folks seeing shows right now.

    In an unrelated note, how weird is it that during one of these peak times YEM is not only MIA but also pretty flat and lacking everytime it is played*. It’s like Phish is having a championship season without any contribution from a superstar player. YEM needs to be benched and it pretty much has been. Rest up YEMmer, get right and you’ll crush it soon enough.

    *That said, it’s all relative. When it comes to YEM, a shitty YEM is like bad pizza. It’s still pretty fucking good. And I digress by saying YEM is NEVER shitty. It’s just not where IT is happening these days.”

    Damn.

  11. Spasm Waiter Says:

    420 sounded amazing.@Palmer -yes best stream i have heard yet. C U in AC. Can barely handle the waiting. Rolling in on Friday. Gonna leave Eastern LI btw 12 and 1pm, if anyone wants to share my ride…

  12. Gavinsdad Says:

    I think you’ll enjoy much of s2 @mia on sbd respin.

  13. George W. Kush Says:

    Surprised no Icculus last night in Reading.

  14. mmmhmm Says:

    Wish we had some 30th anny dates to look forward to

  15. Gavinsdad Says:

    YEM was more creative than usual last nite. Won’t make any “top whatever” lists but definitely worth spinning the whole set > encore straight thru

  16. Nich Says:

    I’d say 6/24 and 10/19/10 Twenty Years Laters are pretty jammed out.

    Not like last night, but they get a little away from the structure at the end.

  17. George W. Kush Says:

    most swanky YEM still SF 2012?

  18. Nich Says:

    As much as I like this tour, I think Fall is just now starting to accumulate enough high points to think of 2013 on the same level as 2012.

    I still think only 2 2013s would make my top 10 of the last 3 years, but they’re starting to put more in the top 30

  19. vapebraham Says:

    seem like YEM had an extra jam section before the dnb section. loved the yEM. funk injection, dance party.

  20. vegas wolfmans Says:

    I’ve been pulling for a deep 20YL since its inception. The jam on the back of last night’s is absolutely ridiculous. Great show from the stream. Not able to get much studying done while listening. And that is okay.

  21. Nich Says:

    Feel like YEM has been where IT happens pretty rarely, all things considered, since.. 95? 93?

    There are a few cool ones after that, but it’s never been Bowie or Tweezdog.

  22. vapebraham Says:

    mmmhmm: i’ve offered the sat. ticket to a friend. if he doesn’t grab it, i’ll put it up to the BB. i think revise asked me first.

    i already feel like a chump for bailing on AC. lazy and old.

    was oiled and vaped to the hilt last night. burned but a single J, during piper.

    the peak excitement of the night was when 20yl kept going. and the piper finished me off.

  23. vapebraham Says:

    to sum up the jamming style last night, it was riff based glory jamming, page favoring the organ and clav. time to listen to it.

  24. Kaveh Says:

    Morning y’all…

  25. Nich Says:

    I hope my daughter takes an extra long nap one day so I can get really deep on why I think their fall improv is a step – maybe two- below 2012 lately.

    I’ve been thinking about it a lot, but managing to get it out coherently while also ensuring that I’m not shitting on these jams seems a tall order.

    It’s kind of like how the best of 97 improv doesn’t technically hold a candle to the best of 95, there’s still plenty of worth to it but they seem a lot more content doing the same thing for 5 minutes.

    I might just think 2012s my favorite permutation of Phish improv and won’t ever be able to think of it fairly. Shits like speed jazz on a perfectly measured dose of MDMA. Just enough to sand off the edges and keep things cohesive despite the sheer density of information streaming between the four guys on stage.

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