Working It Out: A Conversation with Myself

Portsmouth (Andrea Nusinov)

Portsmouth (Andrea Nusinov)

Mr. Miner 1: Let’s call a spade a spade—that Summer Tour just wasn’t up to snuff. The band came out of the gates like a well-oiled machine, exhibiting patience and crafting thoughtful, developed jams, but their improvisation peaked at Randall’s Island. It’s kind of tough to call a tour a success when the best jams occured with three weeks left. and they never again reached that level. Trey’s patience—something praise-worthy over tour’s first two weeks—waned considerably and he got back to impatiently axing jams. I give him credit for laying back in the mix, but there is a point of diminishing returns. He is still the lead guitar player who’s leadership is crucial in the both the development and the realization of jams, and there was a serious lack of both in the second half of summer. After letting jams progress while sitting back, he rarely stepped up with strong ideas or leads in the back half of things to bring things to the top, often content to play rhythm for the duration. There were several stellar sets this shows this tour, especially towards the beginning, but the improvisation in the post-Randall’s segment of tour wasn’t on the same level, let alone the level of last summer or fall. This tour just didn’t feel like a progression to me.

Mr. Miner 2: This summer, they fully integrated their new material into their live show, found a place for most of it, while developing a new jam vehicle in “Fuego.” How could you not call that a progression? You always want new material and this summer Phish dropped a slew of it into place. In terms of improvisation, the band’s jams were more diverse than ever, and Trey’s willingness to lay back in the mix contributed to the many different sounds that were explored by the band this summer. It felt like a sort of a transitional tour to me, not just with the new material, but with an even more group-based, lead-less focus to the jams. Perhaps the lack of peaks or true jam development over the second part of tour was part of this approach, and once integrated, I have no doubt that the band will continue to play fully realized jams come Fall.

MM1: I hear that. This summer definitely felt like a transition, but looking at this summer alone, Trey’s willingness to sit back and not play lead for entire jams contributed to an unfinished and unrealized feel to many potentially huge summer excursions—even some of the tour’s better jams. Without Trey’s ideas bringing jams to a head, there was often a notable absence of leadership and many jams ended without truly having an ending. Perhaps the focus on the new material took away from a focus on improvisation, because I just don’t feel that the band was fully dialed in on too many nights after Randall’s Island. You had Chicago night three, the Charlotte/Merriweather weekend, Portsmouth night two and Orange Beach. That’s about it. That’s a lot of relatively average nights for Phish these days.

MM2: While many of this tour’s jams may not traditionally peak or resolve, perhaps that wasn’t the band’s focus this tour. Perhaps they were looking to explore as many sounds and directions as possible to see if they discovered something special. One can not argue against the incredible diversity of improvisation this tour, the band was devoted to exploration and on most nights came up with at least one gem if not two. Taking the tour at face value, its hard to say its not a success when the guys were able to cover so much ground while still integrating an album’s worth of new material into rotation. Perhaps it wasn’t their best tour musically speaking through and through, but I see this run as a step forward for Phish, even if they experienced some growing pains this summer.

Chicago (G.Lucas)

Chicago (Graham Lucas)

MM1: Sure, when stepping back now that the tour is over and looking at it with a macro view, its easy to say that it could be a stepping stone to bigger things, both stylistically and improvisationally, but musically, I just don’t feel this tour holds as much weight as last summer or fall. The most impressive jams of tour are still the “Fuegos” and “Chalk Dusts” from early on, while there were certainly highlights along the way, there only a handful of jams that truly felt complete. I’m not saying the band wasn’t playing well—for the most part they were—but there were very few “IT” shows. There was a ton of B+ playing, but the A/A+ playing was few and far between. It was a good tour, it was an interesting tour, but not necessarily the band’s most powerful, if that makes sense.

MM2: But the first couple weeks were damn powerful and you can’t discount those shows just because they happened at the beginning of tour. Mansfield through Randall’s Island were amazing Phish shows with only a couple glitches among them in total. Those were special shows. Every tour has its own trajectory, and this one front-loaded the heat, there is no doubt about that. But there was a certain revitalization over Charlotte, Merriweather, Portsmouth night two and Orange Beach. So really, the lulls were only CMAC through the beginning of Chicago and the very end of tour. Really not all that bad, man.

MM1: I guess that is true, I just felt that those two lulls combined with such a drastic stylistic shift by Trey that left many jams feeling as “teasers” or “tasters,” combined to make the entire tour a bit of a disappointment. I have seen each tour as a musical progression throughout the modern era, and this one just didn’t feel like a significant step forward to me jam-wise. Though if looking at the first two weeks alone, I guess that’s not totally true. It was just the lack of ability to sustain that level of patience and playing that left a bad taste in my mouth. I do buy into the theory that Summer Tour could be part of a larger shift that will be realized during Fall Tour, but going through the shows night to night, the tour just felt a little thin to me,  a bit underwhelming. And Phish is not usually underwhelming.

MM2: While the tour doesn’t necessarily have an abundance of standalone timeless gems, Phish still threw down a fair amount of them and generally played stronger start-to-finish sets with better flow than we’ve come accustomed to in recent years. That, in itself, is a huge step forward. Did Trey cut off jams? Sure. It seems that will be a part of what happens as they try to keep things fresh this era, but the overall focus on flow kind of negated the ripcord effect, ya’ know?

Detroit (J.Herzog)

Detroit (Jesse Herzog)

MM1: I guess I’d rather have fully completed jams and a bit less flow than sacrificing musical realization for flow. I get it when they use two jams as one, such as the “Carini > Ghost” from Oak Mountain, but I’d rather hear one amazing jam and one less so, with less flow than two pretty good ones that flow. It’s all about those trasndendent moments to me, and there were notably few of those after Randall’s Island this summer, regardless of what else was happening in the show, flow or no flow, ya dig? For example, you don’t think of Toronto ’13 as a choppy second set, you remember the insane “Disease” jam that froze time and space. When we think to Merriweather night one, we will remember the impeccable flow, but at no point in that second set did the band absolutely break through. You know what I’m saying? The “Ghost” is awesome and the “Light” is the jam of the show, but we can’t pull a truly timeless gem from this set. I guess it’s a matter of what you prefer at some point. I’m in it for transcendence—the times when the band hooks up with their effortless flow and weaves magic out of thin air—and quite honestly, that didn’t happen all that often over tour’s final three weeks. And the band’s last two tours were drenched it IT.

MM2: Well, Chicago night three had timeless moments and Merriweather night two was pure magic. It certainly did seem that extra-special aura lacked a bit after Merriweather, however, with high-level outings only coming at Portsmouth night two and Orange Beach, and I’m not so sure those shows or jams reached the timeless plane, possibly Portsmouth’s “Fuego” or “Meatstick” and the Beach’s “Disease” though. But did you really expect much from the Southern run?

MM1: Right, I mean last summer ended up on the west coast and this one in Alabama. Set and setting certainly makes a difference. I am on board with Summer ’14 being a very good Phish tour and potentially part of a larger transition, but it just didn’t feel like the band reached the next level too many times, those types of jams where they hook up and never look back. At some point it is what it is, but when the band reinserts well developed and peaked jams into their beefier, more well-balanced sets, then things will feel just right again. Fall, here we come!

Merriweather (Andrea Nusonov)

Merriweather (Andrea Nusonov)

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1,231 Responses to “Working It Out: A Conversation with Myself”

  1. sumodie Says:

    Networking is the more apt term, not teamwork

  2. HeadyBrosevelt Says:

    mail order tickets were awesome. decorating the envelope and then getting a bunch of tix in the mail… the good ole days.

    i am making it to vegas. 10 hours from leadville. we maybe taking the bus and just living in that for the weekend. poach showers, pools, etc from the hoteys.

  3. MiA Says:

    Luckily scalpers really didn’t discover phish until Hampton ’09.

    Minor amounts in big markets (MSG, RCMH, etc) but otherwise most tickets weren’t killer to me at least.

  4. Mr.Miner Says:

    heady, i know someone trading 10/31 plus cash for a dicks fields 3 pack.

  5. little umbrellas Says:

    F Scalpers

  6. voopa Says:

    Thanks C. I think I’ll be able to do at least that one.

  7. MrCompletely Says:

    serious professionally run mailorder was the best @Mia. One of my friends got her start working for Calico at GDTS. They def went out of their way to make sure the right people got what they needed

  8. MiA Says:

    Agreed C. They got to know who was in their mailing database and what they had ordered in the past. It was like Frequent Flyer for Phish.

    I think more tickets are being put on stubhub if people can’t trade their floor Seattle’s for 10/31. People say they don’t like scalpers but I think tons of people scalp.

    Then you get the douche at Tahoe last year trying to offer me $25 for a ticket the night of the Tahoe Tweezer. Glad I didn’t sell to him either.

  9. little umbrellas Says:

    http://www.jambase.com/Articles/122385/The-Art-of-the-Sit-In-Alan-Evans

    Hey Yall, while not everybody’s jam necessarily.. Alan Evans’ group now features Danny Mayer and Kris Yunker. Two dudes who are excellent musicians.

    -they both had a band called OnTheSpot Trio that I was a part of. Been jamming with these two for a decade now and they are both rippers. I’m really happy to see them getting national exposure. :) !!! Danny has been with the band for awhile, but the new addition of Chris is sure to create some good chemistry.
    –Chris utterly Crushes the B3 Hammond (with Leslie), D6honer Clavinet, Fender Rhodes, Wurli, and Mellotron patches. And yes he travels with all that shit. Uses analog effect pedals and he also has a bass amp and covers the bass parts with his left hand.

    -check em if ya get a moment. Danny and Chris deliver the goods when it comes to psychedelic rock and funk jamming. Alan got em.

  10. Stoney Case Says:

    *trade for something I do need. Damn typos^

  11. HeadyBrosevelt Says:

    miner- papasolea@gmail.com

    we can work out details.

    thanks!

  12. little umbrellas Says:

    ^ to quote Alan, Chirs is a freak of nature. I swear its true. Seeing Chris play the Keys is just phenomenal. Dude is a freakin nut. He is seriously amazing. We used to play MMW songs and he’d cover all the parts.

    .. not that he doesn’t have his own soul and voice, cause he does. And is one of the friendliest nicest guys you’ll meet. Watch this softspoken nice guy turn into an utter beast when behind the keyboard. I promise his playing will flip you lid if you catch him live. (Love you to Danny, but am reading the article and it is cool to see the new member Chris got such respect from Alan)

    Chris Yunker, Freak of Nature level playing.

  13. bob dylan Says:

    What made him a douche? Was he broke or just trying to get a cheap ticket? I stood outside the beacon with my finger in the air and 20 bucks hoping to get inside for furthur. Paycheck to paycheck working retail paying NYC prices everyday didn’t always allow me to hit the ones I wanted to. Wasn’t like I could charge a ticket to my CC when the show was sold out.

    Come to think of it, I wouldn’t have even gone if I didn’t meet up with Gdad to hang pre-show. Standing outside trying to hustle a ticket is not my idea of a good time.

  14. Stoney Case Says:

    Sumo. Snatching tickets from the Phan that works and lives in SoCal. Doesn’t network on phish boards. Has limited time to get tickets. Joe Jabroni from NYC buying SB tix to trade for Vegas. That’s taking a ticket from a fan.

    I am willing to bet The big time Scalpers are not fueling this west coast mess. Phans are.

  15. little umbrellas Says:

    ^ and i haven’t seen this incantation yet, but I’m sure it’s much more rocking Freak out style than Soulive. Danny does not sound live Krasno. At all.

    His playing is much more in the style of Zappa/Hendrix/Anastasio. Pretty sure that those are his three biggest influences. Noticed they did a Willie the Pimp cover recently.

    Plug done. Stoked for my buddies. They know how to sincerely melt face and deserve goodness.

  16. MiA Says:

    Bob D. You missed the story. He was a douche.

    You want people to sell for face? Buy for face.

    You wanna make it a free market, haggle for what it’s worth then.

    I don’t like this idea that you want people to take less than select value, then want to buy at market value if you think the market suits you.

    His buddy gave him $100 and he still haggled.

    I said “your buddy just gave you $100. I saw it.”

    He said “I need beer money”

    Kept trying to convince me tickets an hour earlier were selling for $25.

    I said “go back in time an hour and buy that ticket then. I’d rather eat the ticket than sell to you. Pay for the ticket.”

    Girl walks up offers me $50 and I take it. Said “that’s how you do it.”

    Still gave her a deal. Don’t be a douche to the person who have sherpa’d your tickets to shows.

  17. MrCompletely Says:

    neat http://spacecraftforall.com/live

    pretty cool, this is an old scientific spacecraft that was basically mothballed and left for dead, but some folks crowdsourced a plan to wake it back up as it comes back by earth…lunar flyby is tomorrow…

    very beautiful/elegant website too

  18. MiA Says:

    Btw, it wasn’t my extra. I was selling for a friend.

    I wanted to give him what he paid for it plus fees. And I still did.

  19. little umbrellas Says:

    Wow C. This sight is Def super slick. Nice share.

  20. bob dylan Says:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jlSF0dtDRD8

  21. little umbrellas Says:

    Repamp: Awesome breakbeat. Fast James Brown style. With a ridiculously awesome breakdown. Killer soul vocals, the one solo seems a bit long winded, but you gotta check this:

    http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=PppJOrnVtkg
    ART ENSEMBLE OF CHICAGO Theme De Yoyo

  22. bob dylan Says:

    I hear ya MiA, thats obnoxious. I was more advocating for people not always having the funds and aren’t trying to be dicks. There used to be a thing called a miracle also for those situations. I wasn’t lowballing just to lowball and didn’t end up getting in. Got in a few nights later after I got paid.

  23. HeadyBrosevelt Says:

    the whole ticket “hustle” is a crazy concept, but very much a reality. i have given and gotten lots of miracles. i, personally, will sell for face or less- never more. i will buy for face or less. however, i will trade two for ones if i think it’s worth it (and i feel comfortable losing some money) and i will take two for ones. it all depends on what mutually works out for both parties and if everyone leaves content and on good terms. some people, with lots of money, don’t give to shits about scalpers because they will get into any show they want. that is fine. i can’t do that, so i don’t, but i don’t harp on people that do. fuck scalpers, but there is literally nothing that i can do about them except not give them my business. i still find that if one really wants to get in, one will. sometimes it won’t happen until three minutes before show time, sometimes an hour into the show. if you show up, there is a good chance you are getting in.

    my .02

  24. BingosBrother Says:

    Heady For Prez

    Again

    Only mmf 2 for 1s though. I’m a bridge builder.

  25. MrCompletely Says:

    a devil’s man eh? figures

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