Randall’s Reprise

Randall's Island (Andrea Nusinov)

Randall’s Island (Andrea Nusinov)

Phish’s three-night stand at Randall’s Island was a perfect litmus test of where they are as a band right now in their 31st year of existence. While most bands their age are playing greatest hits on reunion tours, Phish is neck deep in one of their most creative phases of their career. Through Randall’s Island, Phish had nailed seven of its past second sets in full—and when is the last time that could be said of the aging superheroes of the 3.0 era? Playing tour’s two most impressive second sets on consecutive nights in front of a New York metro audience, Phish plunged depths in their improvisations that were informed by both patience and persistence. Phish has owned these qualities thus far this summer, allowing jams to develop far beyond a single theme, and often stretching into several. Very often it has been the later sections of jams that have gotten the most outlandish—see New York’s “Bathtub Gin,” “Disease” “Carini,” “Ghost,” “Chalk Dust,” and “Tweezer” as prime examples. The band has been patient in an individual sense, allowed all members to offer up ideas and guide improvisations, but they have also been very patient with the group as a whole, providing space for whole-band searching where necessary, and usually not giving up until something is found. And therein lied the biggest juxtaposition between Friday’s Randall’s show and the next two—how easily they bailed on jams.

On Friday night, Phish had several second-set selections teed up and ready for liftoff, only to turn the other way and keep the setlist moving. This is usually a tactic employed when the band isn’t feeling the flow, but on Friday night, they most certainly felt it in spots as they dropped elite versions of “Bathtub Gin” and “Down with Disease” and a smoking “Stash.” But when “Steam” opened the second set, primed to get the full treatment for the first time in its life, the band got a tad discombobulated as the jam was seeming to open up, and Trey reeled everything awkwardly back. Then in “Golden Age,” the guys seemed to be moving in an ambient direction when they decided to skirt a college try once again. The make or break moment for the show, however, came in a late set “Fuego.” On the heels of Philly’s epic, fans were salivating upon the opening piano chords. But instead of following up the song’s two seminal versions with a third, they decided that they would head into “David Bowie” instead. This show felt like one from years ago with two standout jams and a bunch of aborted attempts. But damn if those two jams weren’t astounding and a foreshadowing of what was to come.

Randall's Island (Andrea Nusinov)

Randall’s Island (Andrea Nusinov)

The next two nights told a very different story­, the type of story of that unfolds when Phish is focused and artistically concerned. Scripting two flawless second sets on Saturday and Sunday night, the band worked over every piece they touched with jams that were so unique. The music within the pairing of “Carini” and“Ghost” spanned the spectrum from psychedelic abstraction to wide open bliss, and covered all sorts of ground in between. So far this summer, “Carini” has been a vehicle to reach ethereal textures and soundscapes rather than the thematic, multi-staged epics that we heard last year. “Ghost” provided the central highlight of night two, as the band pushed beyond a quasi-conventional bliss peak into several more creative sections of interplay.

Two other macrocosmic takeaways from Saturday night’s affair were “Wingsuit” and “Harry Hood.” The former seemed to be settling into the repertoire as a cool down song, and that is the placement they gave it at Randall’s. But everything changed in the final section, as Fishman altered his backing rhythms and transformed the end jam into a whole-band, “Curtain With”-esque piece of improvisation. I didn’t love the first, guitar-solo based versions of the song, as they felt very static. But when “Wingsuit” drops from now on, it may in fact be still represent an exhale from a monstrous jam, but it now has improvisational intrigue all its own. Secondly, I’ve been waiting my whole life for “Harry Hood” to become an open jam, and this summer Phish has played three, deeply improvised versions in a row. This transformation of “Hood” into a cosmic springboard is the most profound development from the opening weeks of Summer Tour. And what an exclamation point the impeccable Randall’s version put on an airtight set of Phish. Composed too perfection, the frame had six songs, all in place and all performed with maximum gusto.

And then came Sunday. Played with a vigor through and through, we will be talking about Sunday at Randall’s for years to come. It was just that good—dense, top shelf jamming laced with nuance and innovative currents around every turn. Page and Fish stood out the most to me over the three-day weekend. Each altered the courses of several jams, while Trey’s biggest attribute this summer is his willingness to be one of four and take his place amidst a band that now has all but four musical leaders. The way they have fed off of each other’s ideas and made them into their own—a sort of quadruple helix—was the hallmark of the Randall’s jams and the thus far, the summer at large.

Randall's Island (Andrea Nusinov)

Randall’s Island (Andrea Nusinov)

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883 Responses to “Randall’s Reprise”

  1. Jerome Garcia Says:

    Bingos linked a great article not long after it opened or in conjunction w/ opening; Bingos also sang praises Lagunitas CEO as one of the good guys.

  2. Jerome Garcia Says:

    You can do no wrong Hop Shaman. Do not be an apologist. Have a great time in ME. Hope the LP App works up there in the sticks bc w/ any luck there will be jamsaplenty to spin this wknd.

  3. plord Says:

    Vape, my problem with CMAC set one is that it went on so long that half of it showed up in the middle of set 2.

  4. Stoney Case Says:

    -1 for whoever posted the greenboard rumor dates. What else did I miss? Did they let me off the hook for missing my old home place show?

    Phishthought: this tour seems like it was built around the two late night TV appearances. SPAC Philly and Randall’s all the same area. 13K for that Sunday show has to be an eye opener.

    Ready for the next serving of Jambrosia. Thinking MPP the next throw down.

  5. dorn76 Says:

    T-Rey dropped some Wingsuit licks in this Mann Mike’s. Kaya approved version.

    Like this crosseyed, too. Page doing some swanky work papering over Red’s brown notes. Twist>X-eyed not really enough of a ride to warrant it, but dissolves beautifully into Waste.

    I has pheesh thoughts.

  6. vapebraham Says:

    rolling CMAC DwD now. they jump out of the gate on the jam w/ intensity. power roll by fishman early on to set the tone. lot’s of nifty trills from trey.

  7. DaNcInG fOoL Says:

    Dorn
    #nomoregirlfriend
    #tinderslaying

  8. DaNcInG fOoL Says:

    Lagunita’s opened a second brewery in Chicago? Cool

  9. Jerome Garcia Says:

    jtran got excited for hometown Whale’s Vagina show & posted the board of green’s purported dates.

    Si si Stonerific. DTE was well played some of the 2nd frame tunes had serious musical density. Possum encore clocked in almost 1 min longer than Ghost. Pinner Tweezer. You made the right call.

  10. btb Says:

    I’m out. Rock on BB.

  11. Dorn76 Says:

    #morehotgirl

    I would say keep eyes open on tour, but you probably aren’t into road burned crotch grabbing 40-somethings.

  12. Jerome Garcia Says:

    That’s my target demographic Dorn

  13. Dorn76 Says:

    Serendipity, JG.

  14. DaNcInG fOoL Says:

    #nophishgirls

  15. Stoney Case Says:

    Those dates are rong.

  16. DaNcInG fOoL Says:

    Actually here’s the most recent girl I shot, since there’s no phish to talk about https://m.flickr.com/#/photos/jesseherzog/14656945165/

  17. Jerome Garcia Says:

    Thoughts after spinning in this order MannHood GWHood RandyHood are:

    1A GW
    1B Randy
    3 Mann

    GW & Mann in second to last spot of II while Randy gets set closing nod. All are beauts in their own right. What I’m trying to say is you sure as shit can feel good about Hood.

  18. Selector J Says:

    @df – So are you finding these chicks on Tinder, or what?

  19. Jerome Garcia Says:

    Whoa Df! World class breasteses. More of those types of links less cat links. Please & thanks in advance ;-)

  20. Jerome Garcia Says:

    GW & Randy Hoods interchangeable in my humble opine.

    Prediction: NortherlyHood to reach SpaceCamp levels. Heard it here first. Just the facts Jack.

  21. dusty Says:

    Seems to be a new trend with the larger players in the micro bottle market. Sierra and New Belg in cackalacky, then lagunitas in chi and green flash in VA beach of all places. First two locations make sense to me. Lagu is running a beer train from hood river to mt hood ala willy t’s to ft bragg skunk train. Fun for sure there. BTW I think lagu finally bottled their waldo recipe in honor of those san raffy boys. Super tasty unlike a pinner twez.

  22. Jerome Garcia Says:

    Cuddlephest’d https://m.flickr.com/#/photos/jesseherzog/13993335158/

  23. Jerome Garcia Says:

    Dog walk time. Randyjob1 II in the phones.

  24. Jerome Garcia Says:

    Tripost’n bc I fucked up…Randjob1 rather. Carry on.

  25. vegas wolfmans Says:

    Greetings dudes. Hope everyone is well and busting tour up like a high school kegger. I am behind in my listening, but wanted to pop in to say, “holy shit” re: Randall’s Ghost (Rhost?). #putswingsuiton

    Also, GarciaLive Vol 4 3/22/78 dropped and it does not suck.

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