A Spectacle On the Shore

10.31.13 (Andrea Nusinov)

10.31.13 (Andrea Nusinov)

On Friday night in Atlantic City, Phish was at it again. Playing a scalding hot show to follow up Halloween, the band laid it all on the table with a performance defined by a thirty-year confidence and improvisational swagger. On Fall Tour of their 30th Anniversary year, the guys have synced up like never before, playing jams that are plucked from our dreams, and on this night, they dropped a “Twist” for the ages that we will be listening to for the rest of our lives. While the second set opener was certainly the centerpiece of the night, the show was rock solid through both sets, only suffering a minor song-based lull deep in the second. But even these late-set songs popped in a show where Phish slayed every single piece they touched from the first note through the encore—another precious night of music on a Fall Tour that is quickly making history.

11/1 Official (D.Mumford)

11/1 Official (D.Mumford)

One might have understood if the guys had come out with a mellow set after their marathon holiday show, but in fact the opposite happened—they came out en fuego. Kicking off a night with “Cavern,” an unsuspectingly great show opener, Phish sounded like they had never left the stage. The band picked up just where they had left off the night before, and laid into a second-song “Runaway Jim,” in which the guys got funky early on. In the bridge of the song, the band broke down the typically quiet section into a filthy groove, and Trey stepped to the mic with the lyrics from the theme of  “Shaft!” Shit was getting dirty and it was only the show’s second song. It was at this juncture that we all knew we were in for another quintessential night of Phish. The band then confirmed this notion by dropping a third-song “Sand!”

Usually when Phish plays “Sand” in the first set, it remains fairly succinct and to the point, but this one would be an aberration from the norm. Stretching out the piece into a scintillating groove fiesta that—momentarily—sounded like it might pop out of form, the band was letting loose on this opening frame with playing that sounded like it belonged after setbreak. Both “Halfway to the Moon” and “Halley’s Comet” were performed with authority, as Trey explained that the former would likely be a track on next year’s album. The band moved into their second consecutive throwdown out of “Halley’s Comet” (the last being Hartford’s “2001”), with a ferocious “Tube” that kept the energy of the room sky high.

10.31.13 (J.Silco)

10.31.13 (J.Silco)

The band nodded to its hot first set by playing Los Lobos’ “When the Circus Comes,” a song generally reserved for cooling down after particularly smoking interplay. Bustouts of “Sugar Shack” and “Jesus Left Chicago” preceded a superb “David Bowie” that served at the opening course’s final touch—and what a start it was!

But—Jesus Christ in the foothills—the “Twist” that opened the second set was simply out of this universe. The level of connection and communication displayed by Trey, Mike, Page and Fish was pushed to another dimension as they wove a majestic tale that leapt—immediately (as in before the set ended)—into the annals of Phish history. Like Jordan or LeBron, Phish has routinely transformed their weaknesses into strengths, and after “Twist” had fallen off the improvisational radar in the modern era, the band has brought the song back with a fury on this fall tour. On this night, they wove a quasi-medley of teases in “Twist,” as the band hit on “Banana Pudding” and Trey quoted The Beatles’ “Get Back” early in the jam, while landing in full blown jam on Queen’s “Under Pressure” late in the excursion. But holy shit, what came in between! Reaching a triumphant stride, the band converged on one of the most cathartic passages of music they have ever played. No fucking joke. Weaving magic out of thin air, Phish blasted into a majestic passage that needs to be heard by all to be believed. This was pure hose to the nth degree, and this segment elevated the room to dizzying—literally unbelievable—heights. The band came out of this magnificent section into the “Under Pressure” jam, and once they saw that through, they moved into music that sounded like the spiritual fallout of the explosive jaunt. Allowing the music to take its course, the band meandered in this milieu for some time, almost sounding like they might build back into “Twist’s” ending, but instead came to rest to a monumental ovation.

10.31.13 (J.Silco)

10.31.13 (J.Silco)

The band released from “Twist’s” phenomenal excursion by unveiling the first “Jibboo” of Fall Tour, and playing the living daylights out of it. Allowing their audience to get loose to far less cerebral music, everyone appreciated the groovy interlude in order to gather their marbles. Trey must be boning up on his strains, because his pun about smoking OG Kush “under his bush” in “Makisupa” became a running joke for the rest of the show. But first and foremost, the rhyme became the source of a tripped out and layered vocal jam in a heavily improvised version of the song. One could sense another jam vehicle lurking behind this bush, and when the song ended, the guys dropped into “Light.”

Spending a large portion of time juicing the composed jam, the band finally opened things up into some intricate grooves that saw Trey do work on rhythm guitar. This “Light” also featured a third segment that blossomed when the band seeped out of their groove into something more abstract. Patiently building this final segment, they wound their way—kind of abruptly­­—into “Chalk Dust.” And here’s where things got a tad songy. Trey next called for “Meatstick,” “Boogie On,” and “Wedge,” though the first two selections contained extra improvisational mustard.

10.31.13 (J.Silco)

10.31.13 (J.Silco)

Phish closed things out with a gorgeous “Slave to the Traffic Light” that fell somewhere stylistically between Hampton’s refined and delicate version and Hartford’s old-school shredder. And just when everyone was catching their breath and beginning to consider their first post-show move, the guys dropped a jammed out “Sneakin’ Sally” encore—with a reprise of the “Shaft” jam—on our exhausted domes! What a freakin’ treat—and a highlight, taboot.

These nights of Phish that we’ve been experiencing since Glens Falls has brought be back—in feeling—to my youngest days as a fan, teeming with excitement and bursting with enthusiasm. But now that we—as a community—are older and more evolved, these jaw-dropping nights of Phish take on such a greater poignancy. Special would be the understatement of the century; sacred is far more appropriate. And with one night left a Fall Tour that will go down in history, let’s all have a night to remember.

I: Cavern, Runaway Jim*, Sand, Halfway to the Moon, Halley’s Comet, Tube, When the Circus Comes, Sugar Shack, Jesus Just Left Chicago, David Bowie

II: Twist > Gotta Jibboo,  Makisupa Policeman, Light -> Chalk Dust Torture, Meatstick, Boogie On Reggae Woman, The Wedge, Slave to the Traffic Light

E: Sneakin’ Sally Through the Alley*

*w/ “Shaft” jam

Boardwalk Hall (Jake Silco)

Boardwalk Hall (Jake Silco)

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653 Responses to “A Spectacle On the Shore”

  1. Stoney Case Says:

    Yeah. To Michelle. Not Trey

  2. Stoney Case Says:

    No way little Umb. It’s both. Holding firm to that.

  3. little umbrellas Says:

    8 minutes into this Tweezer from last night! this is awesome, Atonal Calypso Trip Funk with bass lead at the moment. Reminds me a little of some of the spaces that Light used to get into in 2012.

    10 minutes! Trey with a nasty ass rubber envelope tone or something. sickness

  4. Nugman Says:

    Kush Bush

  5. bob dylan Says:

    are there live bait links online? that are still active?

    my master phish hd is at work.

  6. little umbrellas Says:

    Holding a firm a belief that one ‘knows’ the truth to what makes Phish good or not…
    …this is not for any of us to say. you have a subjective opinion. don’t need to waste your energy defining what you ‘feel’ is an ‘independent truth.’

  7. Stoney Case Says:

    Anyone else hear a little ‘Love Supreme’ flavor in Disease last night?

  8. bob dylan Says:

    didn’t mike used to tell trey he played too many notes? why do you think members of a band won’t communicate?

  9. little umbrellas Says:

    13:40. on last night’s Tweezer, where the band kinda drops out and then Fish brings back the beat. huge save by MVP Fish! now I hear what y’all were sayin last night. Would have been a great place for Trey to step in with some leads and really give it a monster peak.

  10. Stoney Case Says:

    “Playing together more is what makes it better, not what pedal Trey uses.”

    ^seems like you stated that opinion as a definite. Whilst telling me not to do the same. Who says it’s better? You?

    Minor key quibble

  11. Stoney Case Says:

    Bob, just a figure of speech. How long ago did Mike tell him that? Remember the 04 break up? Trey told band they were done. Mike wanted to continue.

    Never mind. I’m sure the band loves the whale as much as Trey. It’s just me, Al, MiA, Kaya, Tela, AW, Cal, and countless lurkers begging for a way out.

  12. little umbrellas Says:

    solar eclipse today!

  13. butter Says:

    Bobby d, I understand the concept of reprising the song, but point me to the last “city named” jam.

    Rochester Xeyed is 17 min, and I don’t believe they reprised the lyrics . Woosta Drowned 20 min and they didn’t reprise any lyrics right?

    I’m thinking they don’t/can’t track list that way anymore

  14. Mr. Palmer Says:

    Let it go and you will find happiness once again.

  15. Stoney Case Says:

    Lil Umb. Now I’m confused as hell! Wouldn’t Trey coming in with some peak leads in Tweezer be a major key jam?

  16. little umbrellas Says:

    I hear that Stoney. and I could be wrong, but ‘Playing together more is what makes it better’ i think is a more general truth and less on the scale of subjectivity then, ‘I don’t like this sound.’

  17. little umbrellas Says:

    Yes you’re right Stoney! And after a full fledged minor jam, when is it better to bring in some massive Dominant/Major licks to really bring a capper to the jam!

  18. little umbrellas Says:

    Stoked to hear the Roggae and Waves next, imagine I’ll hear some moments of fantastic jamming in Major. 🙂 .. already said this before, I don’t truly hate all of any tonality.

  19. willowed Says:

    I was in absolute fantasy land during that calypso funked Tweezer.

    Also have to give love to the 3.0 LxL’s They are absolutely crushing that jam.

  20. Stoney Case Says:

    But LiLUmb, Miner and the fLuffinaires claimed that Hampton picked up where Dicks left off. Apparently they were in peak playing form from the jump.

    Are we sure the sound doesn’t weigh a bit more than it’s getting credit for?

  21. willowed Says:

    Great soft emotional playing in that Roggae with a fantastic build to close out the jam. It was like being on the Kissing ride at an amusement park where you slowly float on the water and get a hand job from your girl, then all of a sudden you’re on splash mountain with a 80 yard drop into a pool of water.

    Fun times.

  22. little umbrellas Says:

    willowed. feel ya, LxL has been crushing.

  23. bob dylan Says:

    man, trolling me hard and I’m falling for it.

    the number of reasons trey had to stop in 04 vs the use of whale?

    if he didnt wanna play in phish, then phish is done. same if any other wanted to quit. (cept maybe page) doesn’t mean the others wouldn’t wanna keep phish going. its just not the same.

    meanwhile, the use of the whale is a direction in their jam, which I’m sure they discuss on the daily.

  24. Stoney Case Says:

    Just illustrating that Trey’s the boss. We suggest, but don’t tell the boss what to do.

  25. bob dylan Says:

    good point butter, when listening to them, do any of them go so far away from the song that its completely new territory and not even based on the same chord progression? while at the same time, not going back to refrain at the end?

    i always thought it had to be a completely new direction and not come back at the end. you could be right, I’m not familiar enough with any of them to say the rules haven’t changed.

    maybe the band is finally rich enough they said “ok, lets spread the love to the people we’re ripping off”

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