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”

  1. vapebraham Says:

    agree w rl – jazz trey (jay?) has shown up during various tunes this tour with delicate, creative phrasing. Lovin it. Other sign of the jazz taking hold in trey and the band’s sound – teases becoming more varied, clever, and seamless. Stripped down drum kit ftw.

  2. Stoney Case Says:

    Another review from a casual fan

  3. sumodie Says:

    DTE and Randys3 as outliers? Yeah, sounds about right

    As for the Fuego tunes, from my perspective they’re refreshing setlist flow. Even The Line is refreshing, as it’s something new to bitch about (wouldnt miss it if it were to disappear tho)

    The second half of Set2s this summer seem to have more gas than usual, tho I find it difficult to be patient for the late blooming set2s such as Chicago3 & GW. I also believe Trey is consciously trying to ensure more energy & creativity remain for the latter half of the second set.

  4. dusty Says:

    @marcoesq re:Alcatraz. The swim is a bit sharky, but nothing to worry about. The uphill sand stairs portion after the swim seems brutal.

  5. dorn76 Says:

    Confusing Nostalgia.

  6. Jerome Garcia Says:

    white eddie murphy
    Phish last night was in the top 3 most caucasian things ive ever done

    ^fracking hilarity

  7. Al Says:

    OMG, I forgot IT waves and ghost! Ghost had the best glowstick war I have ever been in.

  8. dorn76 Says:

    Shot of Page at 3:37 is both hilarious and rapey.

  9. MrCompletely Says:

    Spun chi 2 from Waves last night all proper. Strong playing. Thought waves was really fiery and twist was explosive and smart. Light jam super interesting. Another great hood. MVP song of tour

  10. MrCompletely Says:

    Spun chi 2 from Waves last night all proper. Strong playing. Thought waves was really fiery and twist was explosive and smart. Light jam super interesting. Another great hood. MVP song of tour

  11. dorn76 Says:

    Get your spectacles and watch the MTV Cliff Ball special if you haven’t in a while.

    Hard to understand or define someone’s relationship to something so weird and wonderful.

    Jaysus I’m tearing up over here.

  12. MrCompletely Says:

    IT waves holds up great. Killer peak and massive psychedelic outro

  13. Darth Vaper Says:

    ^agreed Al on Glowsticks during ghost. That was the biggest I’ve ever seen that covered the sky in orange.

  14. aj Says:

    I’m with Tela’s on Yarmouth Rd. Also still trying to connect with DtaD. Rest of new material I am liking.

  15. aj Says:

    Also, Northernly Island was the return of women to Phish shows. Welcome! Oh, and shhhhh.

    The bridge from the venue to Michigan ave was the most lawless shit ever. Bridge over trouble waters indeed.

  16. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    10-24 at the LA Forum just popped on ticketmaster

  17. btb Says:

    Fall tour kang’d

  18. marcoesq Says:

    Great vid drop, dorn. Haven’t seen this in ages.

  19. Gratefulcub Says:

    I remember leaving cincy 99 and being told “the rotation was stale, Trey was a shell of his former self, and the shows were very disappointing.”

    After 9 hours of music, 70 degree nights, new friends, old friends, fresh phish, classic phish, and a god damned wombat attack, I’ll take disappointing.

    My low bar for pleasure is a character flaw I put to good use.

  20. Gratefulcub Says:

    The lawn talked much more than the floor during Reba, but much less during a Reba jam. Thunderdome Enigma

  21. jdub Says:

    Chicago Light, or at least the alien abduction ending, reminded me of IT Waves. I haven’t re listened to that since the cast and I was electrified. It could’ve been kuroda’s lights and the cast production that seemed similar to the IT DVD Waves. I’ll have to revisit both soon.

    Seems like the Phish community gets into the same tizzy every year about who likes what and why. As well as what is truth vs subjectivity in regards to shows/jams. Same as it ever was.

    I loved the Chicago shows for all the reasons RL, Stoney and others have stated. But I’m just a fluffer so I keep my musical comments to a minimum.

  22. sumodie Says:

    Marco, ocean temp is likely the biggest difference: San Fran Bay only reaches a max of 60F. Even midcoast Maine where Im from can usually break 60F in summer

    Sharks dont matter unless they bite you ;0>

  23. aj Says:

    Gratefulcub an A+, quality showgoing companion. It’s the people that keep me going live, no way to replicate that on the couch. To many more.

  24. Darth Vaper Says:

    ^agreed Al on Glowsticks during ghost. That was the biggest I’ve ever seen that covered the sky in orange. Good times.

    The jam is only ok, but great experience.

  25. verno329 Says:

    A spin through Dark Star from Dick’s Picks 2 always improves my mood, outlook on the day, and faith in humanity

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