Catching Fire

7.12.14, NYC (Chris LaJaunie)

7.12.14, NYC (Chris LaJaunie)

Phish returned to Summer Tour with a monster weekend comprised of two standout shows and one for the record books in the mid-Atlantic last weekend. Following a four-day break, the band has made a concerted effort to deliver the whole package each night to each audience and were successful on three consecutive nights to begin the second half of Summer Tour 2014. Phish certainly hit a stride with these performances and their fluidity has stepped to the forefront of their shows to compliment their already present jamming. Everything has now fallen into place and the guys are in the zone as they approach the final week of a tremendously successful run.

7.16.14, Detroit (J.Herzog)

7.16.14, Detroit (J.Herzog)

It became quickly apparent this past weekend in Charlotte and Merriweather, that Phish is serious about their segues again. I’m not sure what, if anything, transpired during the four day break, but the band came back firing off seamless transitions at almost every juncture. Beginning in Charlotte’s second set, the guys wove “Fuego” “Twist” and “When the Circus Comes to Town “ into a seamless suite of music. Even with all of the segues that transpired at Merriwether, the slyest of them all happened when the guys unsuspectingly transformed the “Twist” jam into the tour debut of Los Lobos’ “Circus.” A definitive musical segue with not a momentary glitch, this shift actually deserves consideration beyond just its all-tour status. The transitions continued to fly on the first night in Columbia as the band slithered through a second-set sequence of “Carini -> Ghost > Steam -> Mango” with notable flow. But this second-“leg” trend, though only three days old, came to an immediate head in Sunday’s retro segue-fest, the likes of which hasn’t showed its face in oh, about two decades! Bobbing and weaving in and out of songs with spontaneity and precision, the band treated the audience to an old-school affair in which the excitement generated was as much about what would happen next as it was about the music. Totally in the moment and having a blast, the band tore off countless segues, but the most seamless movement of the night came in the musical palindrome of “Free -> Tweezer -> Simple -> Tweezer -> Free.” Delivering three songs a single piece of music, the guys took the early-set mashup theme to a whole new level with this clever vignette. The entire vibe of a set changes when the band makes smooth transitions between songs, and one would expect this trend to continue through the south.

7.20.14 (G.Lucas)

7.20.14 (G.Lucas)

These artistic transitions helped contribute to the second Mid-Atlantic take away—Phish’s delivery of complete second sets. Though Summer Tour started out strong in this regard, the band’s set craftsmanship took a small dip after Randall’s Island. Phish began to bounce back in Chicago, specifically with their third-night performance, and continued this upward swing with these past three shows. With only one blemish in three main events (Charlotte’s harshly “Rift”-corded “Piper” jam), Phish’s second sets have not only been proficiently smooth, but exceptionally so. This arc was highlighted by Merriweather’s Saturday night performance in which the band threw down a bulletproof second frame. Each segue was considered and artistic, virtually every song contained a legitimate jam, and the entire set went off without hitch. Even Sunday’s wild ride was notably smooth as the band worked through countless shifts between songs and schticks. Phish’s sense of the moment—one of their defining characteristics throughout their career—has returned in full this summer, and no performance illustrates this more than Sunday’s unforgettable affair. The best versions of Phish instinctually know when to pull back and when to push things far over the edge, surfing the energy of the crowd and the moment as well as any performers in history. Sunday night’s show at Merriweather showed us that, even while pushing age 50, the guys can still blend their musical acumen with their sense of the absurd to craft a wacky though virtuoso ride through a unique universe called Phish.

7.16.14 (J.Herzog)

7.16.14 (J.Herzog)

And don’t look now, but two of the weekend’s three first sets were great too! Both Charlotte’s and Sunday night Merriweather’s opening frames popped with energy and musicality. Friday’s first set featured powerful versions of crowd favorites including “Mike’s Song,” “Back on the Train,” “Weekapaug,” “Possum,” “Tube” and “David Bowie,” as well as a quality version of “Wingsuit” and the most improvised “Winterqueen” to date. This amounted to a virtual non-stop barrage of serious Type I jamming throughout Charlotte’s opening set. Sunday’s first frame contained legitimate improvisational highlights in “Curtain (With),” “Sand” and “You Enjoy Myself” and also derived energy through the rarities of “Fee,” “My Sweet One” and “Saw It Again.” On each night, as the setbreak lights came on, one felt like he had already been through a legitimate musical experience, and in the modern era of Phish shows, that makes all the difference.

Meanwhile, the jams have continued to roll. This weekend’s improvisational Dean’s List has two tiers. The first is headed up by Charlotte’s “Chalk  Dust Torture” and Merriweather’s “Tweezer” while also featuring Saturday’s “Ghost” “Light” and Sunday’s “NICU.” The second tier includes Merriweather’s “Carini,” “Harry Hood,” and Charlotte’s late-set “Reba.”

As we turn to the final five shows of tour, Phish has their feet solidly under them and the creative faucet locked in the on position. They certainly seem like a band that is primed to slaughter the south in a victory lap of a successful summer tour. Crushing it night after night creatively and consistently, and having the time of their lives, this is Phish live without a net and in their prime once again. Or simply put—this is Phish en fuego.

7.12.14 (Chris LaJaunie)

7.12.14 (Chris LaJaunie)

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3,699 Responses to “Catching Fire”

  1. dorn76 Says:

    and the rain came down
    it tried to seep
    into the ground
    but water deep

    pecked and poked
    and sodden soil
    already soaked
    began to roil

    Have listened to the ‘queen a bunch. Wife and daughter digging it while we made dinner last night. So its growing on me. A cousin to Ocelot for sure.

    LilUm, just grab us waters or something while I Dad Rock Out during the BGCA ‘queen.

    Really like those lyrics I posted.

  2. marcoesq Says:

    Flights to Vegas that weekend only $334 R/T through Southwest, gdad. Not bad.

  3. marcoesq Says:

    3rd Tweezer’s jam is beautiful. WAN was a good f/u choice

  4. vapebraham Says:

    nice one, miner.

    charlotte Wqueen is really nice. jerry’d. MPP Curtain with — too much whale. could have used the cleaner touch.

  5. Mr. Palmer Says:

    put my ticket requests in Ga floors only for Eug/ Sea/ SB( best avail), and Vegas.. only the first two are for me.

  6. lumpyhead Says:

    doin

    SB, LA, SF, Vegas

  7. marcoesq Says:

    Excited for this update to the LivePh app.

  8. MrCompletely Says:

    cheers @df. In the end it’s gonna be Eugene and Seattle only for me and I think one of them will probably be in the VIP bubble with limited socializing opportunities – that group is very focused on in late/out immediately

  9. MrCompletely Says:

    Pinner Tour 2014

  10. jtran Says:

    will take SB extras.

    #dontsnowconemylocalshows

  11. InAMinute Says:

    @Erock – they are Alligator Mouths, not Cros…newb.

  12. MrCompletely Says:

    Very well considered and thoughtful review @miner. I like the “sense of the moment” part especially which captures the real dynamic a bit

  13. Erock Says:

    @Inaminute My bad. I’m going to the car to eat a burrito and listen to Faygo.

  14. btb Says:

    *repoast*

    So my new blog “Mug Club” will be up and running soon.

    Trying this again…I have a lot more to say and material to goof on with Beer then music I think. I’ve been running a local “mug club weekly newsletter” for the #1 craft beer bar in OH for the last year or so. I have about 20 posts already teed up…just going to take me some time to get them all uploaded and edited. So I guess I’ll have some Orange for y’all in a couple weeks. I’ll do this for as long as I can, but will probably take a break at some point. Shit is time consuming! I’m open to suggestions. I’m probably not going to do many beer actual beer reviews. Plenty of Phish & Trailer Park Boys references. We’ll see where it goes.

    Tentative Segments/Topics:

    Political Cartoons (MS PAINT Y’ALL)

    LaHey’s Lambic Corner

    Mr. Rogers Porch Bombs: Won’t You Be My Trader?

    Fake On-line Store w/ stupid beer accessories and gadgets (e.g. growler belts?)

    Whale of the Week

    Sock Puppets

    Sexual Harassment Wednesday Beer Guide

    Weekly Newsletter Goof

    Bum Juice of the Month Beer Review & Leaderboard

    Beer Release Goofs

    Beer Porn Pics

    Maybe some beer reviews. Not many though.

  15. btb Says:

    Nice write-up Miner.

  16. MrCompletely Says:

    more #firstworldproblems…company catering lunch tomorrow during heavy deadline work session…but it’s Qdoba. What am I, a hobo? Could be Jimmy Johns I guess. I’ll probably have to eat a lame taco or something and then sneak out for real lunch

    right now a bunch of beer and ganja snobs are reading this and thinking about calling me a lunch snob…go for it…but Qdoba sucks

  17. little umbrellas Says:

    *!! Not your waterboy my friend!!
    But in attendance I’m ultra accepting and just happy to be there. Have no stress while in show. Def don’t spend any energy wondering if I’m digging it or not. When they hit that bliss jam at the BGCA I’m gonna be dancing with the best of em.

  18. Joe Says:

    I think going to Vegas for Halloween may set off chain of really bad decisions on my part but damn if it wouldn’t be fun. College and pro football betting as the cherry on top?

  19. dorn76 Says:

    People get dehydrated, yo.

    At least once a show I try to grab waters for those I am with. Definitely more of an offer to you to avoid the blissiest, happiest, daddiestrockiest moment more than an order to get my H2O.

    You are too well dressed to cater.

  20. Stoney Case Says:

    Flights from east coast to Vegas cheaper than flights from redwood curtain to Vegas. $482 best I’ve seen.

  21. dorn76 Says:

    Ultra accepting of everything but cheap seat tarp nazis and the Clapton song, “Pretending”.

  22. MrCompletely Says:

    wes montgomery was really really good at playing electric guitar

  23. Joe Says:

    Florida/Georgia, Stanford @oregon on saturday, broncos at pats on Sunday seem to be the viewing highlights that weekend although I’m already eyeballing the Texas @ Texas tech over.

  24. BingosBrother Says:

    32 oz Smart Water helped me regain my grip recently. Thanks brother! Somebody handed out a case on the bus back Sunday night. Forethought and kindness are the pillars of a good soul.

  25. BingosBrother Says:

    Waited in line behind Mark Giangreco at Qdoba once. If it’s good enough for Mark, it’s good enough for me. Him and Rick Bayless only times I’ve gone fanboy.

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