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)

Tags: , ,

653 Responses to “A Spectacle On the Shore”

  1. MrCompletely Says:

    Hartford Tweezer is another top shelfer. No matter how your final rankings end up that one’s gonna be somewhere in there

  2. MrCompletely Says:

    I appreciated the intent and effort just felt it didn’t cohere or elevate

    midset sequence brought the set to a high enough level to leave me happy

  3. MrCompletely Says:

    was playing with the kiddo, Tweezer starts, he drops what he’s doing and says “come on Dad, time to dance”

    okay cool with me

  4. Stoney Case Says:

    C, gonna drive the crew crazy with all the phish highlights this week! Irish guy:

    “They can’t sing man.”

    Don’t think I’ll spin them the new album just yet…

  5. bob dylan Says:

    can someone design a computer screen that won’t get fingerprints? kthx

  6. Mr. Palmer Says:

    C- Felt same way in building last night. Some good ideas , but none really pushed through and were taken for a ride.

    Disease was my favorite jam of the night, well, maybe Theme actually.

    While I liked the Tweezer, it seemed they just stayed in that one zone the whole time, that calypso style.. For me , I like when Tweezer has multiple phases.. They weren’t in the mind frame to really deconstruct any of their jams last night.

    Piper was just a “Woo” jam that didn’t get me too excited. Always happy to hear Waves, but it stayed pretty standard.

    Last night of tour, saturday night, I think they wanted to just get every off on an adrenaline rush and say good bye. Fun show..

    Of the 3 I saw this Fall


  7. Joe Says:


    But really content with them all

    Loved ac ghost

  8. Joe Says:

    Maybe if I didn’t sneak out early during encore Worcester1 would be higher.

  9. tela's_muff Says:

    This Fall run from H3 through AC has encouraged me to reconsider skipping MSG. I couldn’t be happier with the quality of jams and set 2 flow. Hard to place a best of label to any specific jam, so many to choose from. Amazing development after a so so summer.

    Other post tour notes:

    Phish wrote some decent “indie” songs. I’m loving pretty much all (not jack & Jill) the Wingsuit material the more I listen. Excited to see how this develops.

    I’m kinda in agreement with Stoney. Heavy whale starts tours and as the shows go on, Trey figures out how to use it tastefully, this producing better jams. Just what my ear is telling me.

    Fish was clear MVP but how about Page? Dude did bad things to that clav.

    Reading still my favorite set of 2013. Disease>Taste>20YL>Piper fav sequence of music since FYF show. Also an underrated YEM.

  10. Stoney Case Says:

    Damn Telas. Feeling the same about MSG. As haven’t even spun Reading yet! If Kaya made it, has to be good, right?

  11. Joe Says:

    Your buddy have fun, mr p?

  12. lumpyhead Says:

    Phoam, BEK, Palmer, xpun, joe, willowed, revise, ren, DF….am I forgetting anyone? Absolute pleasure meeting and raging the boardwalk with y’all.

  13. Mr. Palmer Says:

    Yeah Joe.. He had a blast hanging out with you..

    We ended up with a Bruins lighter in our room, that I assume he yoinked from you at show. I gave it to Willowed..

  14. willowed Says:

    Who needs a hetty Bruins lighter. Only $5.00

  15. Stoney Case Says:


    nice batting average for 2013, eh? “The Heat Bringerer”

  16. Joe Says:

    Indeed. That and my headphones and my redsox jacket were the only things I left behind in ac. Not too bad considering I left the room in the dark after a few hours sleep

    Isles took it to the bruins last night big time. That’s a good young team there.

  17. dorn76 Says:

    code from last night


    Good seeing a few of you fellas at Firewater’s.

    Dirty Jerz. What a perfect set up for shows. Great classic venue with minimal security, cheap lodging, eats, degeneracy all steps away. Raise a glass to the Boardwalk.

  18. Stoney Case Says:

    @Df, sorry bro. That wasn’t a 15 minute Ghost you caught.
    At least 40 seconds of crowd noise

  19. bob dylan Says:

    i miss nyc but having lived in jersey for a while before moving west i’d already gotten over the sting of not being in the city. but damn i fucking love California. I’m really happy here. the weather is stupid awesome. i can’t get over it. we went hiking yesterday in the hills of palo alto and this morning I’m on the porch with my notebook and fresh phish. its pretty freaking epic. also having real weekends for the first time since college is making my life a lot better too.

    i might just take my bike out, take my bike. i might ride it slowly, ride it just how i like.

  20. bob dylan Says:

    thats not to say i wouldn’t have rather been in jerz this weekend listening to waves > tweezer live. but this is a nice runner up.

  21. willowed Says:

    I know we used to talk about Phish doing a 10 show run at one venue.

    Boardwalk Hall would be the perfect spot.

    A man can dream can he?

  22. MrCompletely Says:

    “They can’t sing man.”

    definitely skip the roggae then

  23. Stoney Case Says:

    C, it’s even more funny with the serious, pleading Irish accent.

  24. vapebraham Says:

    Reading was ok to good. 20YL, piper, and YEM are $$-$$$ highlights. DWD is good to great ($-$$) in spots and boring in others. good to great wolfman’s, taste, & reba. divided was aced but can’t seem to get jazzed for that tune.

    woosta 2 set II probably my fave set of tour. H3 set ii a close second.

    hartford probably fave set I.

    The execution got better as the tour progressed (trey warms w/ each show).

  25. Stoney Case Says:

    lil umb, really digging Trey’s use of the digi early in this AC ‘Ghost’. keeps it on the edge, without going over. gives the floating on water sound to me, rather than the seasick

Leave a Reply