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”

  1. little umbrellas Says:

    Sometimes A Great Notion, so good.

  2. Jerome Garcia Says:

    Face muscles lilumb.

    Excellent book recs this afternoon esp McKenna & Kesey’s Demon Box & Sometimes A Great Notion. Going on my list.

  3. vapebraham Says:

    bombino HD acoustic solo in India. chill balcony sesh. no one around.

    soulful playing

  4. George W. Kush Says:

    yeah LulUm, Im a little conflicted on buying tix. Dude is a great guitar player and his blues JM Trio album is pretty decent. The shit I don’t like would be buying a ticket to hear good blues from a very talented guitarist and get “your bady is a wanderland” instead…

    However, he seems to hang in good company playing with Clapton and I have heard he has a guitar collection that rivals that of EC. Just not sure I want to have a sour night expecting good guitar and get high school girl rock instead. The ole lady might like it thought. Could be a win-win?

  5. Jerome Garcia Says:

    Niagara is trucking $$$$. Possum absolute scorcher.

    @vape is there a $$$$$ category?

  6. BingosBrother Says:

    I am vehemently anti Mayer in all things. Vitriolic hatred. He chose his path and that’s that as far as I’m concerned. To actually sing those words is unforgivable.

  7. BingosBrother Says:

    What’s your #1 garret? SAGN will always hover near #1 for me too.

  8. jtran Says:

    if you are not doing john mayer for the SLF and strictly for your own enjoyment think twice

    if the lady digs mayer and you are going along you’ll have a good time

  9. garretcorncob Says:

    Bingos, my favorite book is For Whom The Bell Tolls. That book is a fucking master class in pacing and tension and release. The whole thing is just a long slow build (with minor headfakes and detours into action) towards the climax of the last, I don’t know, 1/4 of the book? 1/8 of the book? A reading experience unlike any I’ve ever experienced.

  10. Jerome Garcia Says:

    FWTBT ftw! One of my fav books also. Nice work fellas.

  11. Jerome Garcia Says:

    It takes some work. Hemingway’s prose & perspective it’s written from is not the norm.

  12. garretcorncob Says:

    Other favorites, in no particular order, include:

    The Brothers Karamazov, Fyodor Dostoevsky
    Lord Jim, Joseph Conrad
    Cloud Atlas, David Mitchell
    American Gods, Neil Gaiman
    Infinite Jest, David Foster Wallace
    The Dark Tower series, Stephen King
    The Story of Edgar Sawtelle, David Wroblewski
    The Sunlight Dialogues, John Gardner

    And anything by Richard Brautigan

  13. HeadyBrosevelt Says:

    i usually am pretty fluffy around here, but i have to say this: fuck john mayer. his music makes tab seem edgy and cool. the dude is a total cheeseball. however, if you go to a show with your slf, you are guaranteed tons of loving afterwards- which you would have earned to the highest degree.

  14. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    My wife would be straight pissed if I took her to see John Mayer.
    Keep it funky, y’all.

    RIP, Mr. Mandela. Go celebrate the 80th anny of the prohibition repeal and toast one to that dude in the process.

  15. DavidSilver Says:

    GWTBT is on the list. Also, haven’t read a few of those otherseither. Thanks.

    If you’re into dark noir, which I’m really not but pimp this dude cause he’s so good, this guy is the man. Didn’t even write until he retired from a regular job, which I find very inspiring.

  16. Jerome Garcia Says:

    My wife would be straight pissed if I took her to see John Mayer.

    ^Mrs T3 sounds kick ass. You chose wisely sir.

  17. DavidSilver Says:

    Shitty link.

    Donald Ray Pollock


  18. sumodie Says:

    I’ve gotten sucked into the first book of Neil Stephenson’s Baroque Cycle, Quicksilver

    I read his earlier work, Cryptonomicon, but wasn’t so thrilled, tho I had skewed expectations about that book

    Quicksilver so far is a a lot of fun. Set during the late 17th & early 18th century amidst several famous scientific people like Isaac Newton. No clue where I’m headed

  19. garretcorncob Says:


    A few others:

    Death Is A Lonely Business, Ray Bradbury
    The Confidence Man, Herman Melville

    And the book I’m in the middle of now: Kim, by Rudyard Kipling. I know MiA said Kiplings tone is “aristocratic,” or something like that, but this is among the livelier, more passionate books I’ve read in a long time. Just joy and enthusiasm in every scene. So much fun, and a great window into one outsider’s view of Raj-era India. Didn’t have any of the casual racism I expected from a book of the period set in a colony, and in fact is pretty hard on western values. I feel like it would be a great book for a smart youngster. Good old fashioned adventure story starring a preternatural youth, but lots of foreign words and concepts to sort through.

  20. garretcorncob Says:

    Oh, and:

    Jonathon Strange & Mr. Norrell, by Susanna Clarke

    But now I’m just going on and on…

  21. sumodie Says:

    Searching for Sugarman, the film doc, is terrific (speaking of Mandela/South Africa). Exceeded expectations, which were already elevated

    Rodriguez is such a solidly big hearted chill dude

  22. Jerome Garcia Says:

    G is next to F on the keyboard

  23. Jerome Garcia Says:

    Bingos likes to keep us on our toes garret 😉

  24. sumodie Says:

    Garret, check out Paul Scott’s Raj Quartet (better known by book 1: Jewel in the Crown), for an epic tale set in early 20th century India as British power waned

  25. tela's_muff Says:

    saw Mayer play with Herbie Hancock & Headhunters. frankly, i was blown away how good he was. not suggesting he’s like a legend of the guitar, but he held his own and impressed me. otherwise, yeah, f him.

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