Two Meh’d-Week Affairs

7.12.14, Randall's (Chris LaJaunie)

7.12.14, Randall’s (Chris LaJaunie)

After Phish nailed eight straight shows between SPAC, Mann and Randall’s Island, fans were salivating to see what the band had in store as they stepped away from the east coast for the first time this summer. Back in the day, these more remote, smaller market shows brought a welcome respite from the higher profile nights of the northeast. In the past, Phish often threw down spectacular shows in these more out of the way performances. This created a dynamic where fans would not want to miss these hard-to-get-to shows. However, in the modern era, these smaller shows have become something totally different. While the dynamic of less pressure remains the same, the resulting concert often crumbles into an array of jamless greatest hits for a localized fan base. The “skip” shows on tour are no longer the ones fans must quest after, but rather less focused affairs whose moniker is quite appropriate.

Canandaigua Official (J.Soto)

Canandaigua Official (J.Soto)

Needless to say, both Canandaigua and Detroit’s mid-week shows succumbed to this modern trend and the band on stage on Tuesday and Wednesday nights might as well have been understudies for the maestros on stage last weekend in New York City. If Randall’s Island was the culmination of a fortnight that was characterized by artistry and patience, these two mid-week, small market shows were exactly the opposite, crude and rushed. This is not to say there weren’t individual highlights in these shows—there absolutely were, but the overall feel of the shows were far from the refined and cerebral affairs that dotted the east coast, but mildly entertaining rock concerts in which the band seemed more concerned with how many songs they could get through than what any individual piece contained. To put it bluntly, while Trey graced the east coast with his timeless brilliance, Troy brought his ripcord and ADD to Canandaigua and Detroit, crafting more trainwrecks than memories.

Detroit Official (S. Serigraph)

Detroit Official (S. Serigraph)

The highest point of Canandaigua came in a twisting, long form “Down With Disease” that kicked down the doors of the second set with a fury. This jam was certainly on the level of tour’s first stretch, and it seemed like we were in for another set-long journey. But nothing of improvisational significance developed after that and a great “Disease” was hung out to dry. Striking first set renditions of “Wingsuit” and “Wombat” also provided takeaways from CMAC, as the former kept the more whole-band improvisational feel debuted at Randall’s, and the latter got into the dirtiest, loopiest funk jam of its short life. DTE’s lone improvisational highlight came in “Ghost > Caspian” though the “Ghost” jam seemed to have plenty of legs when Trey switched gears. Additionally, the band took “Weekapaug” for an out-of-character spin into abstraction and really had something significant building when the jam was cut inexplicably cut for “Cavern.” And that, folks, is about it for the mid-week highlight reel. On the “Not Top 10” list, Phish played two consecutive late-second-set “Fuegos” in Canandaigua and Detroit, while touching neither with a single improvisational brushstroke. At this point, “Fuego” has appeared far more times without a jam than with one. Interesting. An unsuspected development to say the least.

When it comes down to it, perhaps it’s not the size of the market, the distance from the east coast, the age of the band or the lack of hardcore fans in the audience—perhaps it’s the combined effect of all these elements. And alas, Phish is human. Call me presumptuous, but in Canandaigua and Detroit, the band just wasn’t putting in the same level of effort and focus that was on display for two weeks straight on the eastern seaboard. And when you don’t put in the same effort, you don’t get the same results. Thus, it is not surprising that these midweek shows paled in comparison to the musical events that took place on the in Saratoga Springs, Philadelphia and New York. The band needed an exhalation from an intense two weeks, and they took it in the form of two jukebox shows over the past couple nights. Have no fear, however, the Phish we know and love will be back in Chicago and tell a largely different story. Why? You tell me…

7.12.14 Randall's Island (Chris Lajaunie)

7.12.14 Randall’s Island (Chris LaJaunie)

7/16 Canandaigua—I. Buried Alive > Twist, Heavy Things, 555, Halley’s Comet > Bathtub Gin, Wingsuit, Divided Sky, Wombat, David Bowie

II: Down with Disease > Back on the Train > NICU, Gotta Jibboo, Theme From the Bottom, Meatstick, Fuego > The Wedge, Run Like an Antelope

E: Character Zero

*****

7/17 Detroit—IWolfman’s Brother, Devotion To a Dream, Wilson, Poor Heart, The Moma Dance, Stealing Time From the Faulty Plan, Lawn Boy, Yarmouth Road, Rift, The Line, It’s Ice, 46 Days

II: Mike’s Song > Ghost > Prince Caspian > Backwards Down the Number Line, Weekapaug Groove > Cavern, Piper > Waiting All Night, Tweezer > Fuego > Tweezer Reprise

E: Also Sprach Zarathustra > Possum

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2,348 Responses to “Two Meh’d-Week Affairs”

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  1. little umbrellas Says:

    still though @Miner, thanks for covering the affairs. much respect sent.
    ::

    MiA finally gets the Dead! ‘I can see clearly now the rain has gone, I can we allll obstacles in my way’.

    But this?: “I needed you guys to set me straight on that early GD. Someone did me wrong by not turning me directly on to ’72 Europe.”

    Umm, have you not been reading the peeps recs? 72, one drummer. Tight band, epic improvisations. Seriously though, next time MrC recs a Playing in The Band or Dark Star, don’t sleep on it. Up there with any of the greatest improvisation in the history of rock and roll.
    …anyways, this makes me very happy. Good for you Mike! Lots of 72 for you to discover.
    69 and 75 are two of my other favorite years. If you haven’t heard Kezar Stadium 75 , specifically both parts of King Solomon’s Marbles, then wow do you have a treat waiting for you.

  2. little umbrellas Says:

    ^still in shock, kinda of thinking I just got trolled and MiA has already had a bunch of good Dead experiences and I’m just a fool.

  3. Josh Says:

    Sorry you had a bad experience at these grand shows that show just how creative Phish is in 3.0. I get it that jams are cool, but I hope you don’t lose sight of the forrest for the trees. Phish opened us up to just how deep there creativity goes when playing a tour. Sure, “Troy brought his ripcord” [sic] but Fishman did also. And I am happy. And when begin to see maybe why they did it, them maybe you’ll begin to see more of that magic that makes Phish who they are.
    Anyway, love reading your stuff. Keep sharing…

  4. Danieltiger Says:

    I think they were straight tired. Doing Fallon ate up their day off. As soon as I saw they added that, I became a little worried. Still some good stuff in there thankfully!

  5. Jerome Garcia Says:

    Garcia Señor Miner. You’re a true warrior. Here’s hoping Chi-town keeps it rollin.

    & of course I posted on previous post bc that’s how I roll:

    Jerome Garcia Says:
    July 18th, 2014 at 4:19 am
    He was pretty giddy last nt. Doesn’t hurt that I’m a fat butterball of GD excitement & enthusiasm. Shit’s contagious yo ;-)

    Morning phreaks. Safe travels to all those en route to the Windy City. Should be very well attended by BBers which typically helps to elevate shows.

  6. Darth Vaper Says:

    I was kinda a lot kidding. I had heard Europe ’72 probably 20 years ago? The occasional dicks pick. But didn’t ever “search out” Grateful Dead music.

    When the larger Europe ’72 box dropped I started listening more earnestly to the whole tour and not just my favorite album. Jerry’s tone, single dummer, fun well oiled tracks, I think I’ve listened to every Europe show twice.

    The latest Dave’s picks have also pryed me open much more.

    Like Phish, the grateful dead’s sound evolved over the years. I’m pretty liberal with phish and find all the era’s very enjoyable. It seems with GD I have to grow into other era’s. I need to adapt to listening like they do.

    Probably true with phish now. If I was turning someone new into phish I wouldn’t start with ’09.

  7. Darth Vaper Says:

    Great writeup Miner. Looking forward to these webcasts!

  8. Darth Vaper Says:

    I do appreciate sincerely all of the mentions and drops and access this place has provided. Mr C is huge but there are tons on you all on here with encyclopedic knowledge of all eras. I follow up on a lot of the recs. Constantly reading these surely had a big effect.

    Hard to follow up on them all though! This place is prolific.

  9. Stoney Case Says:

    Really good write up miner. Captures what I’ve read. Not easy to write less than glowing reviews. This one seems fair.*

    *hoping it doesn’t incite another 2nd city appearance

  10. revise your despise Says:

    Great write up Miner! I mostly agree.

    After manndalls>Fallon>CMAC>Detroit with only one night off in between, I’m sure all four of them were just exhausted.

    Safe travels for everyone heading to chi today. I hit the road for some northerly redemption tomorrow morning.

  11. Jerome Garcia Says:

    Making SPAC Mann Randjob jams CD for drive down to the Laguna Madre. Got Manndalls jams deeply dialed but need some assistance w/ SPAC. Edify me stat BB! Por favs of course.

  12. Cable Hogue Says:

    If anyone has not heard the 5/11/72 Dark Star from Rotterdam, do so as soon as you can give it your undivided attention for all 48 minutes. An absolute masterpiece.

    Was trying to think of some recent out of the way midweek shows that delivered: Reading obviously jumped to mind…maybe St Louis 2012 also? But it does seem like the paradigm has shifted…skip show means just that.

  13. Darth Vaper Says:

    Thanks Cable Hogue. Spun that several times.

  14. George W. Kush Says:

    back in the day Trey: we will make them pay for skipping our show!

    now-a-days Trey: we get paid even if they skip this show.

  15. neemor Says:

    Happy Anniversary, 7.18.90
    Dead at the Creek
    https://archive.org/details/gd1990-07-18.sbd.miller.95807.sbeok.flac16

  16. George W. Kush Says:

    I shouldn’t put all that intent on Trey alone. More like whole band.

  17. neemor Says:

    Dad Rock knows no day of the week.
    When it’s time to hit the hammock and kick your feet up, it just is.
    “Do as I say, not as I do, I work hard all week” type stuff from Dad.
    But,
    Unlike MY dad, these four can conjure magic at any turn.
    I mean, taking nothing away from pops, but….you know.
    He never played guitar in front of a stump with arms and legs.

  18. Darth Vaper Says:

    Live Bait and Switch

  19. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    WUT!!

  20. neemor Says:

    Who knew Bieber was a Lizard?

  21. dusty Says:

    manchester was the last skip show that delivered for me. Notice I’m not complaining about CMAC though. Got to get yourself there and in the door to be in the magic when it happens. Doesn’t matter what band it is. Expectations are your enemy.

    MPP will be solid, but portsmouth is setting up for a nice GA affair. Enjoy the weekend all and get your fill. Koom essa yourself full

  22. neemor Says:

    Manchester was magic.
    Time to revisit that sweet little venue.

  23. Jerome Garcia Says:

    Best of SPAC jams please & thanks.

  24. Wreakapaugh Smoove Says:

    As a long-time reader of this blog, I fully respect and usually agree with Miner, and in the case of DTE I fully agree with this review, it was a weak show. However, I’m really surprised at the CMAC review and here’s why:

    1. The crowd was getting down in the filthiest way I’ve ever seen. I’m not sure what you mean by ‘real fans’ not being present at these ‘out-of the-way’ shows but they were all at CMAC getting down and dirty with their bad selves.

    2. CMAC had one of the finest and most unexpected 1st sets. That went everywhere I would want a whole show to go. a second song Twist? That Gin? Bowie closer? Those were some heady jams my friend, tight, succinct, maybe worth a re-listen?

    3. I’m not sure if this bothers anyone else, but when you start a paragraph with ‘Needless to say….’ you’re implying that everyone reading it is in agreement with the statement that follows. The only thing Phish succumbed to at CMAC was the holy groove to which they are eternally enslaved. I think if you give this one a re-listen, you may agree.

    4. CMAC and DTE were clearly WORLDS apart in terms of quality. To write one singular review for both of them is not only wrong and unfair but as a long-time reader of this blog….it makes me think you’re getting lazy with your reviews. I’m not saying this to be harsh or troll-like but just want to give you some feedback because my friends and I are all a little stunned at this one.

    In any case, I was equally disappointed with my 100th show (DTE) but thought CMAC was on par with SPAC. However, on the long car ride from Rochester to Detroit, I had the opportunity to connect with old friends, talk about the disbelief at being 16 years old and seeing Phish for the first time at the Clifford Ball and here we are almost 20 years later still taking time off work, hitting the road, and taking a break from the routine of life to go see the band we love.

    It’s funny because after driving the whole way and seeing a so-so Phish show at DTE, it was still worth it! I was exhausted, cranky, and then super high (but I still knew it wasn’t a great show).

    In any case, love the reviews and various opinions, I think there are a million ways each show is perceived and that’s the best part. Happy tour everyone, go get Fuego’d!!!

  25. Arty Rankin Says:

    SPAC

    1. Fuego
    2. Gin
    3. Disease
    4. LxL
    5. Piper
    6. Tweezer
    7. YEM
    8. Melt
    9. Carini
    10. Reba

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