Revisiting Rochester

Fall 2013 (Andrea Nusinov)

Fall 2013 (Andrea Nusinov)

What the heck happened in Rochester? On a tour where Phish could do no wrong, they stopped in western New York on a Tuesday night and threw an absolute clunker. Not only did the band display a noticeable lack of energy, they simply couldn’t hook up improvisationally. Only two days removed from a white hot weekend in Hampton, the site of several prolific jams, things—suddenly—had taken 180 degree turn. The band gave it their best effort for the opening of the second set, but before long, set things on cruise control—at around 45 mph—for the rest of the night. Since I haven’t as much mentioned this show since tour ended, I thought it was high tome to go back and see what the heck went down in Phish’s third show at War Memorial Auditorium.

Rochester Official (Fugscreens)

Rochester Official (Fugscreens)

Rochester was the first show that many Northeastern fans caught on fall tour, and with the buzz on Hampton’s final set still thick in the air, everyone laced up their dancing shoes for what felt like a no-brainer throwdown. But unlike most nights in their career, the band simply couldn’t get it going. A solid, if not slow, first set seemed par for the course after a monstrous three nights—an easy frame to work back into things. “Timber” provided a glimpse of jamming, though mostly standard songs filled out the set with nothing out of the ordinary. Things would clearly elevate after setbreak—or would they?

Both times the band had opened with “Crosseyed” this year, in Holmdel and at the Gorge, the jam blew up into a tour highlight. Thus, when the band brought out the Talking Heads’ cover for the third time of 2013, and the first time indoors, one suspected a monstrosity. But this time, the jam never got off the ground. What happened?

Reading (A.Nusinov)

Reading (A.Nusinov)

The guys had things on lock down through the structured part of the jam, but when they went to open things up, they were never able to connect. Just as they moved into free form territory, Fishman, inexplicably, dropped his rhythm out of the mix, abruptly shifting the feel of the excursion and throwing everyone off. The band members tried to adjust to this beatless canvas, but it took some time for anything to truly transpire. On listen back, Trey attempts to push things with a set of quickened chords, but nobody joins him, and at this juncture it sounds like Fish and Trey are on completely different pages and not united at all. Typically the axis of Phish, Trey and Fish struggled through this initial section, though finally reached some level of harmony allowing the jam to progress.

Phish gained some momentum through the next part of “Crosseyed’s” jam, but their playing remained disjointed and didn’t resemble the well-oiled machine we had witnessed in Virgina. The jam continues in very generic fashion, though nothing, whatsoever, develops. Following an uncharacteristically awkward meat of this jam, the band found a decent groove in the final, ethereal portion of this segmented set opener. Some nice, loose textures emerged, but the guys are merely wandering, and before long, Trey cut things off with the opening to “Light.”

Atlantic City (G.Estreich)

Atlantic City (G.Estreich)

If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again—and this is what the move into “Light” was all about. Not willing to accept defeat, Trey led the band into, perhaps, their most wide open jam vehicle to see what they could come up with. But following a solid composed section, once the band dove into open waters, it was nothing but stinksville—the guys just couldn’t connect. Over a choppy groove, Trey began chording and then signing “Golden Age” in half-speed, executing a smooth segue and giving the crowd something unique to cheer about. The guys stuck with the slower tempo—one would think to foreshadow a dirty funk jam—but once “Golden Age’s” improvisational passage dropped, it sounded like all four band members were on different drugs. In short, it was a mess. Page tried to salvage things getting down on his clavinet, but it was all for naught. Before anything transpired musically, Trey counted off for “Birds of a Feather,” waving his white flag of surrender.

The rest of the set might as well have been a continuation of the first, featuring an eye-popping run of “Halley’s,” “Possum,” “Bug,” and “Heavy Things.” Trey tried to throw a setlist bone to the audience with an end-of-set “You Enjoy Myself,” but the band delivered a flat and lazy version. Oh well, ya’ can’t win em all! Thus we packed our bags and headed for Glens Falls.

What was fascinating about Rochester, however, was just how off course it was in relation to the rest of the tour. Phish are human beings after all, but this show was such an aberration from any other of fall (and even summer), it almost made no sense. On Sunday night they played their best set of tour in Hampton and on Tuesday they sounded like a JV jamband on dirty acid. Go figure. Such is the nature of live music I suppose. They say, you can’t have the highs without the lows, so I guess we needed one night to remind us just how special all the others were. It worked.

10.22.13 Rochester, NY (Jake Silco)

10.22.13 Rochester, NY (Jake Silco)


Jams of the Day:

Winged-music-noteCrosseyed” 10.22 II, Rochester, NY

Listen to how different and disconnected this jam sounds compared to any other jam from fall.

[audio:] Tags: ,

378 Responses to “Revisiting Rochester”

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  1. butter Says:


    we crushed that shit anyhow, but yea what an out of the way crapper

    fun write up, admitting the suckage, Miner

  2. ReidIcculus Says:

    Where is everyone?

    Zombie Apocalypse’d?

  3. Mr.Miner Says:

    we definitely crushed it. Do you remember the drunk dude who started with Toddie? Oy—kind of typical of the evening. I also lost my head stash bottle for the tour—filled about 120%—walking into this show. Just an overall loss for the kid this night. I just hope some young kids found it and had a freaking blast for the tour. It had to be b/c i checked within 20 seconds of when it had to have happened. So in this case, one man’s loss in another’s treasure. It all comes back around.

  4. butter Says:

    yea, i looked back after it had all escalated, but we handled it super proper. the bad guys got dragged away and the good guys, were left to rage the Joy encore and more.

    hilarious image i have is Vin booing them off stage after the encore. i was like, ok i’m really on New York Phish tour now…

  5. butter Says:

    JV jamband on dirty acid for the win

  6. butter Says:

    hopefully some youngins got turned out, no doubt by the lost bottle

    once was lost, but now i’m found

  7. butter Says:

    Theme Funk jam before bed, gotta do it

  8. Shred Says:

    An unprecedented double panning. Classic. Take that Rocklesschester.

  9. dorn76 Says:

    De-lurk, kid who found Miner’s bottle!

  10. Spasm Waiter Says:

    Rocking 4-3-98 this AM. Not a lot of clunk in this one.

  11. Jerome Garcia Says:

    My thoughts exactly dorn! Damn talk about Ground Score of the Century (set to the theme of Supertramp’s Crime Of The Century).

  12. Mr. Palmer Says:

    Dorn-maybe it was Phishm’s penthouse forum chick?

  13. Nagarjuna Says:

    one man gathers what another man spills

  14. Nagarjuna Says:

    my friend’s cousin’s friend told me trey and john accidentally took different types of acid in rochester while they ate the same paper for the rest of fall tour. details matter people.

  15. Spasm Waiter Says:

    With this teeny little bottle I can make you slip…

  16. Gavinsdad Says:

    Why do I hate getting cavities filled so much? At least in the waiting room they are playing wilcos “sky blue sky”. I always enjoyed that album.

  17. Spasm Waiter Says:

    Cool dentist. Maybe huff a few N20s w him and finish the record?

  18. Jerome Garcia Says:

    @Nag so they ARE still dosing eh? Yes! Jk of course. It’s a well known fact in the hippie community that they are merely tokers if even that. What IS the inside scoop anyway? It’s my understanding that booze pills powders psychs etc are no longer on the menu. Not that it really matters. Just curious.

  19. Spasm Waiter Says:

    @Palmer- Which MSGs you doing?

  20. DavidSilver Says:

    The antidote to todays post. Take a sip. Peace.

  21. Jerome Garcia Says:

    Who here has seen Darkside? 1/31/14 @ Emo’s in ATX. Giving Psychic another spin this AM on Spotify. I’m thinking seeing them is a excellent opportunity to get vehicular. Am I wrong?

  22. tela's_muff Says:

    haven’t seen Darkside, but wouldn’t pass up the opportunity. great album.

    thanks for the repeated pampage of the Jonathan Wilson album. really enjoying it.

  23. Snigglebeach Says:

    Seems to me the band would be similar to the rest or us.

    When we were young and had no responsibilities, almost all of us could take mad acid and be free and inventive and fun.

    When your old and your plate is so full, acid is not quite as liberating as it once was. Most of my running mates, brains go into overdrive so they can’t enjoy themselves.

    I bet the same is true onstage. Maybe they could trip and rock out in the old days. But I highly doubt any one of them (ok maybe Fishman) could keep it together enough to melt faces, anymore.

  24. sumodie Says:

    That’s a great read, Silver

    Nice to read that Benji is still enthusiastically on the bus

  25. Jerome Garcia Says:

    Sold tela’s. Thanks. Just the tiny bit of urging I needed. Perhaps this would be an opportune time to finally make the real life introduction of one Rainbow Pony…

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