Boy, Mann.

The Mann '14 (Andrea Nusinov)

The Mann ’14 (Andrea Nusinov)

Phish continued their summer onslaught with two very different second sets at the Mann on Tuesday and Wednesday nights in Philadelphia. Tuesday’s showcase was chock full of creative improv, including the unquestionable jam of the tour thus far in a stunning, long-form rendition of “Fuego.” Wednesday night’s second set was highlighted by another in the recent line of exploratory, wide-open “Chalk Dust” jams, but was played in more straight forward fashion following the top-shelf opener. Instead of analyzing the shows as individual performances, let’s look at the overall musical takeaways from Phish’s stand the the City of Brotherly Love.

Mann Poster (LandLand)

Mann Poster (LandLand)

Any discussion of Mann highlights must start with “Fuego.” Phish drastically matured their newest springboard from its first to its second outing, unfurling one of their elite modern jams out of the brand new piece. Phish’s late-career musical re-development has led them to this type of wide-open, thematic excursion. The band demonstrated ultimate on-stage comfort as they calmly navigated this deeply exploratory adventure. The music was orchestral in nature and carried a very free, yet refined vibe. Trey carved out gorgeous melodies—delicate portals to heaven—as the band engaged in a jam that could only have been played in 2014. No rush, total comfort, and flowing as single course from start to finish while fluidly rolling through distinct improvisational ideas. “Fuego” is not only Phish’s newest jam, it is a launch pad to a new type of jam—patient, sprawling, free form journeys that move between developed themes. These are the jams that many of us dreamt of when we thought about Phish playing as the guys neared age 50. Each band member led different parts of this excursion, all with utmost nuance and subtly, forming a wholly collaborative endeavor. And just as one thought Phish would bring this jam to a huge crescendo like SPAC’s version, Trey led the troops out the back door and into the most intricate groove throwdown we’ve heard this tour. The Mann’s “Fuego” was pure, long form Phish genius, and all signs point to more stunning journeys from Phish’s newest monster.

Phish delved into a late set-run in Tuesday night’s show—“Ghost > 2001 > Harry Hood”—that absolutely demolished. Though Trey fought tooth and nail to get the band out of a “Tweezer” jam and into “Ghost,” once he got them there the band gained liftoff. Trey has been playing with revitalized dexterity this tour, featuring clean, multi-note runs that sound especially awesome in juxtaposition to his extensive whammy experimentation last year. Additionally, Trey has drenched his playing in original melodic phrasing has provided a powerful lead of so many Summer jams. The Mann “Ghost” combined both of these trends into a soaring piece of music that served as the night’s most profound peak. Any thoughts of a lopped off “Tweezer” vanished in this dizzying, highlight-reel “Ghost,” a second keeper from the Mann’s opening night.

The Mann (Andrea Nusinov)

The Mann (Andrea Nusinov)

And “Harry Hood” was the third. The second, deeply improvisational version in as many performances this tour punctuated a stellar set of Phish. And the beauty of this “Hood” was its absolute tenderness—a total juxtaposition to the flowing psych rock of Mansfield’s standout rendition. The Mann “Hood” saw the band delve into an immersive conversation within a stunningly delicate milieu, and they came up with yet another nugget of improvisational gold to end a very impressive frame of music. After an extensive rain delay pushed the start of the second set beyond 11 pm, the band made sure that the entire night was worth any inconvenience that people had been through.

The Mann (A.Nusinov)

The Mann (A.Nusinov)

Wednesday’s night’s second set kicked off with another top-shelf jam—something we have come to expect from the band on a nightly basis— in “Chalk Dust Torture.” Following in the footsteps of Dick’s 13’s and MSG 13’s versions, the Mann “Chalk Dust” featured many different segments of improv, however this one was notably more fluid as it morphed between feels. This jam carried an uptempo rhythm throughout, and the band seemed to surf a musical wave in whatever direction it would take them without truly developing any single section for too long. This type of protean jam has become a modern trend with “Chalk Dust,” and provides a stylistic contrast the band’s more singularly focused improvisations. (Note: They certainly have taken “Chalk Dust” in the mono-thematic direction such as Dick’s 12, but more often than not its jams fit this description.) Spanning several feels, Mann’s version’s provided a tasting menu of Phish sounds, all connected with a single thread.

Several other jams provided sub-highlights of the run. “Twist’s” tight rendition featured mini flourishes in different directions, but each time returned to structure, much like a jazz take on the song. “Mike’s Song,” though not extensive, featured more active interplay between Trey and Page, and didn’t simply default to a guitar solo. Could this be a sign of things to come? One can only hope. Each show saw one significant first set highlight each night—Tuesday, “Tube” and Wednesday, “Wolfman’s Brother.” Both pieces featured a developed jam that moved beyond convention and gave a burst of energy to otherwise routine frames of music.

All in all, the Mann was a very solid two-night stand. Whether you favor the more adventurous first show or the cleaner, more rocking second show largely depends on your stylistic preference. But whichever path Phish has chosen in each show of this short tour, whether jamming or rocking, they have executing it to near perfection. When looked at together, the two Philly shows demonstrated the yin and yang of live Phish.

7.5.14 SPAC (Chris LaJaunie)

7.5.14 SPAC (Chris LaJaunie)

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2,250 Responses to “Boy, Mann.”

  1. Mr. Palmer Says:

    Randy Gin

  2. roberto luongo Says:

    that’s why set I’s are soft.

    effects and whales work great in big space/psych jams.

    not so much in Reba and Ya Mar. if Trey ever gets his straight picking fingers goin and his chord changes runs more n point. entire package.

  3. Stoney Case Says:

    Arty, nice but, RAndall’s Ghost has to be higher.

    I severely over rated the Randall’s Carini after first listen.

    However, I may have actually under rated this bombastic Randall’s Ghost!

  4. roberto luongo Says:

    landlady was just always hip palmer cuz rock guys just can’t swing that latin jazz at those tempos. he would drop fucin bizness over that shit back in the day. real show off kinda shit.

    but now Trey can’t either. seems to miss the point these days. ha.

  5. Stoney Case Says:


    don’t quit your day job brotha!

    RAndall’s Ghost FTMFW!!!!!

  6. Gavinsdad Says:

    “Our Jerry ears”

    ^you got it AW I can’t change.

  7. roberto luongo Says:

    totally off point but that connection on the live bait is just scorching GD style set I song.

    wish they could drop shit like that more consistently in the first. so tight. fiery lead. was laughing when I pushed play and was really a nice version.

  8. sumodie Says:

    Even I heard trey’s sour ones in punch. Yet much of the song, esp in the intro, did sound fresh & tasty

    Gdad, yup, Randall’s was a top shelf 3.0 experience, nomatter how I slice & dice it. My eyes, nevermind my ears, are still in shock from what unfolded

  9. bearito Says:

    LLFA @ Bingos

    I may have to horde that Randalls 3 Set 2 from myself like I did the Tahoe Tweezer. Unbelievable cohesion in that shit.

    “Dialed in” is beginning to be an understatement

  10. Darth Vaper Says:

    Those landlady solos, horn solos and coil solos are tough but not ridiculous.

    I just think he’s ok with missing a few notes now. Most fans don’t hear them or care really.

  11. Stoney Case Says:

    y’all be sleeping on the fact that Ghost takes home the World Cup from Randall’s. Lots of added time for some of the other matches. This Ghost is a scoring fiesta. Far more riveting

  12. Kaveh Says:

    I’d rather hear a set II opening Timber tonight.

    ^ I’m fully behind this.

  13. Gavinsdad Says:

    Just funny…5 years of wondering where and when shit will go down. If they keep this up over next 4 shows we will have our answer.

    Fully expected something akin to the line>#line in the meat of Sundays s2 just to stamp that I heard a firey set 2 the nite before but instead they stayed creative. Pretty sweet.

  14. Gavinsdad Says:


    Excellent pairing.

  15. roberto luongo Says:

    horn and coil are compositions

    95% of phish jams are static vamps or two chord vamps.

    Stash and Landlady probably 2 best examples of rolling chord forms over changes. just not his thing anymore. used to be second nature for him. he just doesn’t play jazz changes much anymore I imagine is the problem.

  16. MrCompletely Says:

    Something I’m not technical enough to really describe but I think I hear is Trey actual struggling to control certain notes that he has hit even pretty recently. But it sounds like it’s in spots where he’s playing with that hotter tone. Does that make sense? Like he’s opened things up a little and it makes certain nuanced notes hard to hit or hold, he starts off with the right note but it goes sour or dies before it should.

    I really don’t mean this as criticism since to my ears it sounds like he’s trying for something more difficult which is a welcome development

  17. bearito Says:

    Hopefuly that terrific RandGin is a sign of good things to come in first sets down the road.

    38 songs in my Summer highlights playlist. Not one of them is a cover.

  18. roberto luongo Says:

    the breaks and the head misses are just sloppy phish vader

    it’s like the ghost drop. apparently phish just can’t count.

    it’s the actual trouble he has solo’ing over the chords that makes me cringe. it’s like he can’t.

  19. Shred Says:

    Punch isn’t good anymore. They shouldn’t bother. Try landlady. It’s slower with less changes.

    @ stoney. Jim was painful but there were a lot of great songs in the first set of 7/13/14.
    Reba and Sand

    Soam was good but plenty of whale.

  20. roberto luongo Says:

    bet he dialed back the Ross C

    shit is worthless anyway but takes away a lot of that ringing sustain. gives it more grit and natural gain. the Ross kinda butters the tone and squashes it while sustaining it.

    if he’s got the gain up and the ross down def harder to manage.

    but I dont’ know shit.

  21. plord Says:

    RL that’s funny, I was at that CMAC show with The Connection opener and my main recollection was how many people in the crowd were confused, what is this, etc. (full disclosure: I was one of them). I was surprised to see it on the live bait but I listened through and yeah…pretty nice.

    SPAC Gin sounded like pretty nimble Trey to my ears, same with the SPAC Fuego peak; guess I’ve been outed as a fluffer. Whatevs. I’m having a blast. Shit, the show I danced hardest at was the one with the least wide-open creativity so far, Mann2.

  22. Joe Says:

    First (and only) thing I noticed about the tone/rig change was that it takes a fair amount of effort to reel it in or it does sound sour. Positives far outweigh the negatives to my ears

  23. dorn76 Says:

    hear hear, @Gdad. Both Mann 2 and Randy 2 were some kinda special nights for me. Some of the best times I’ve had in 3.0 or ever at Phish really.

    To my forever nooby ears Trey still hits the brown notes, and slops through some stuff, but I’ve heard him actually incorporate those into the playing rather than dropping and quickly rushing forward. The effect is hit or miss… like near the close of Antelope Saturday, kinda a hit.

    The changes and the dissonance are as good as the swanky grooves, when they can co-exist in the span of a few moments then Phish is really rollin’.

  24. Stoney Case Says:

    Shred, I spun that whole set. Not my thing. Would rather have Sand in my shorts than revisit that. Reba probably my take away highlight.

    The next Sand will be sharper. I thought it started strong, then got a little lost, then whaley.

    No chance I even spin the SOAM. Gonna wait a few more versions on that one too. I got enough catastrophic whale calls in the Ocean Sings from the previous night.

    G’dad, really a nice psychedelic pairing. The lick Trey drops after ‘Paint the sky’ = love the guy

  25. Joe Says:

    Have we determined the answer as to whether or not he’s using new amps?

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