The Feeling Returns

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Dick’s 2016 (Stephen Olker)

In the subjective medium of improvisational music, perfection is a loaded term, as beauty lies firmly in the ear of the beholder. But sometimes stars align and factors converge resulting in a performance whose excellence is both undeniable and universally accepted. Not often does Phish unveil a set of music that fully embodies their artistic prowess and is praised by all as exemplary of their musical acumen. When this happens, a feeling arises in the community—a group-wide understanding—a manifestation of the shared, unconditional love we all have for the Phish experience. These nights remind us of why are here, why we have come this far, and why we have such a limitless devotion to this band. Phish’s closing act in Colorado was one of these nights.

The final set at Dick’s was a fully realized set of music like Phish hadn’t played in quite some time. There weren’t highlights—the entire set was the highlight. There was not a single awkward moment, no random calls, no blips, no stumbles, no stutters. Songs were simply springboards into the universe as the band sculpted Phish art of the highest magnitude. This all-time caliber performance flowed from first note to last in a continuous musical thrill ride the likes of which we dream; a show that gripped one’s soul, held on tight and never let go, transforming fantasy into reality right before our eyes; a night of music that produced emotional memories as much as musical ones, feelings that are impossible to articulate yet understood by all. This was Phish in its purest form of creation, leaving a trail of treasure in the cool mountain air, dancing on the astral plane on a night that will live forever.

Dick's 2016 (Michael Stein)

Dick’s 2016 (Michael Stein)

The synergistic flow that defined the band’s playing on this night peaked over the course of the second set which centered on an hour plus of free-form improvisation. In a show where Phish could do no wrong, they unfurled three massive jams in “Crosseyed and Painless,” “Piper” and “Light,” and while these were all top-shelf endeavors, “Crosseyed” elevated to career-highlight status with a sublime plunge into infinite beauty. In an spell-binding excursion, the band gelled masterfully, surfing a colossal soundscape while climbing to one of the most dreamlike and extended peaks in memory. One of those jams with staggering one-minded communication, “Crosseyed” not only set a highly elevated tone for the set but delivered a surreal Phish adventure that belongs among the band’s most esteemed.

Following a very active composed jam, the band moved into a melodic preamble of “Crosseyed’s” open jam from which they blended into the central mind-melt of the night. A passage so fluid and open yet tight and connected, the following section of soul-drenched reverie truly defies description. Teeming with retro ’98 / ’99-esque wizardry, the quartet stepped into sacred stride and channeled music that will forever send tingles down one’s spine—real deal, best ever type stuff. Mike’s eclectic and heavy-handed rhythms, Fishman’s crashing cymbal textures, Page’s rolling intensity on grand piano, and Trey’s otherworldly emoting meshed in a cosmic ambrosia that stayed among the heavens for minutes that felt like a lifetime. Finally allowing the sonic fallout to settle, the band likewise brought the audience back to earth.

Dick's 9.4.16 (Calico Giecewicz)

Dick’s 9.4.16 (Calico Gicewicz)

But IT didn’t stop there. The band continued in a heightened flow state for the rest of the set, descending tastefully into “Steam” before melting into “Piper.” Launching into this jam with fierce passion, Phish rolled into a cathartic, guitar-led theme behind which the band entered full annihilation mode. Mike anchored the savagery with creative bass lines, a motif of the entire evening as well as the weekend. A shift into a sparser segment of jamming saw Mike step to the forefront and Trey back off, as the group never lost their airtight cohesion. They soon coalesced into a full band drum jam with Trey on marimba, a sequence that had potential to derail the set’s flow, but instead burst with a vigorous musicality often absent from such ventures. Slipping out the backside of this percussive fiesta into a knee deep, pornographic Phish groove, it was clear at this point that there would be no slowing down the four-headed monster on this night. Bouncing the stadium in series of slow motion, musical crossover dribbles, the band continued to demonstrate the vast stylistic diversity that laced this powerhouse set of music.

Without hesitation, they layered a brief “Crosseyed” lyrical reprise over the deep groove before segueing smoothly into “Light”—another piece that transformed into a virtuosic jam of high order. Upon the conclusion of the lyrics, Trey sidestepped an extended guitar solo as the band dropped into a minimalist texture from which they built. Reaching a place of near silence, the foursome displayed patience and a willingness to let things breathe before intricately collaborating on their next sound sculpture. Mike and Page soon locked in as Trey layered ideas over their foundation while Fishman offered an ever-changing and delicate rhythm. This piece built slowly into an intense wall of sound, and peaked with a fury far removed from its starting point, another episode of improvisational gymnastics.

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Dick’s 2016 (Stephen Olker)

The band had played amongst the stars for over an hour as they opened a portal to Gamehendge and coyly landed in “Lizards.” This move evoked a certain poignancy as Phish hearkened back to their earliest days, 30 years later, with one of their seminal compositions. And they didn’t just play it, they shredded it to bits with the same level purpose that had been on display all night long. As they moved through the uplifting piece and into Trey’s classic solo, everything was in its right place. Following a bumpy summer tour, the last night of the season brought things back into focus in a way nobody could have imagined. Amidst a prolific set of music, a sense of serenity whispered through the air as the band and audience basked in their bond. “First Tube” provided the energetic culmination—an exclamation point—on this special evening.

Rarely does a set of music come together like Sunday’s second. A night like this is immortal—a show that transcends a mere concert and becomes a life experience. They don’t come around very often, sets without a hiccup, sets that flow relentlessly with unparalleled music, sets that define Phish’s raison d’etre and embody the ethos of the community that loves this band with all of their being. Sunday night at Dick’s, however, was one of them. It was a perfect set of Phish.

Dick's 2016 (Stephen Olker)

Dick’s 2016 (Stephen Olker)

1,410 Responses to “The Feeling Returns”

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  1. Buddysmyles Says:

    Dicks First

  2. theBaker Says:

    #voteForbin

  3. Max Says:

    Just got back to civilization and was able to watch 9/4. It’s an amazing show and ty, Mr Miner for the words. I understand why people are freaking out about C&P but don’t understand why people aren’t freaking out more about this Piper. Do we really create a track boundary for “Drums” if they switch instruments? It’s a pretty fluid transition both on both sides and it seems to me that it’s all part of the piper jam.
    It’s a very fluid set of course and your get the fullest C&P reprise at the end of Piper but that section that starts with Piper composed section up until Light starts is spectacular.

    Love that the Boys are back in town #phishneverleft

  4. jerseyjim Says:

    nice!

  5. jdub Says:

    Good to have you back in the saddle @Miner. Your words flow like the great set you described.

    How bout that first set though? Just as impressive as far as set 1s go.

  6. Jerome Garcia Says:

    Jambrosia! Been really cool to watch these ideas develop in your posts in the comments over the past wk or so. Always enjoy your take on the experience. Thanks for writing.

    Baker you crazy fuck! Rec’d your electronic missives. Hitting Khruangbin on Thurs @ Larimer Lounge. More than welcome to join. Opener @ 9PM & field reports are that band plays a hr set so show might be over by 11PM. Who knows maybe hit Joey Porter’s Vital Organ @ Cervantes Other Side afterwards like you proposed.

    Shade didn’t make the cut on BB?! Seriously bummed. That sucks.

  7. Random Poster...Nutbag Says:

    I like Mercury. Would’ve liked to see it get the studio treatment.

  8. HadToHaveThat Says:

    OOO new post! can’t wait to read!

  9. Hector Says:

    Beautifully said but all in all I’d take the Gorge night 1 set 2 over this one considering environment and level of ingenuity how they weaved three songs seamlessly throughout the set.

    This set, while awesome, more or less copied the Gorge with the band drumming together during Piper ( No Man’s at the Gorge) and the myriad of Crosseyed reprises ( Gorge had all three reprised throughout: Crosseyed, No Man’s and WTU)

  10. Sally Says:

    BRAVO! Brilliant write up Miner, thanks. The whole run was an incredible experience. I miss Team Chomper…

    Also bummed Mercury and Shade didn’t make the cut. B&B studio version not quite doing it for me but I love Trey’s motivation for writing it.

    ‘This will all end sooner or later, one way or another. So I’m gonna enjoy every last second of it while we’re still here. I’m not gonna wave away the dessert cart on the Titanic. I want to be like that string quintet that kept playing while it sank.”

  11. gavinsdad Says:

    Cosmic Ambrosia no doubt

    Listened to the tweez on commute to client this am. Not putting it up on the n3s2 level either. Not much idea based fluid improv. Some serious Shrieky peaking tho which Trey was all about (earlier in the no mans too).

    I’m also needing an “engaged” listen to the 46. I’ve checked it 3 times undistracted and seem to be missing something on my end. Gonna check it again on ride back to office later.

  12. Jerome Garcia Says:

    Dicks Days has hints of Magna Days all over it & similar in structure in that the band jumps into the deep end early & when they do it drops immediately into the soup.

  13. bobby weird Says:

    yea, B&B is over produced TAB-light if you ask me. not as horrible live but i will Never accept “rage with Paige”. ugh..

  14. garretcorncob Says:

    What if it were actually “rage with Page”, would that make it any better?

    Wondering if that B&B production hints at all towards getting horns involved on Halloween?

    Full set with horns and auxiliary percussion, on some new songs and some old ones? Could be cool if done right.

  15. jerseyjim Says:

    Halloween they will be recording a live album, with all the “missing” tunes, as a companion piece to Big Boat?

  16. sumodie Says:

    Repost with timings

    PHISH | BIG BOAT
    01. Friends (3:42)
    02. Breath and Burning (4:20)
    03. Home (6:26)
    04. Blaze On (4:20)
    05. Tide Turns (4:21)
    06. Things People Do (1:54)
    07. Waking Up Dead (4:15)
    08. Running Out of Time (3:32)
    09. No Men in No Man’s Land (4:59)
    10. Miss You (7:01)
    11. I Always Wanted It this Way (4:29)
    12. More (4:22)
    13. Petrichor (13:32)

  17. MrCompletely Says:

    Waking up dead was good though right?

    Glass half full’d

    Reading miner flow now…figured a new one had to be cookin

  18. garretcorncob Says:

    Miss You = longest song besides Petrichor?

    Album gone to shit.

  19. MrCompletely Says:

    Percussive fiesta!

  20. garretcorncob Says:

    There’s 5 songs on the album I know I already enjoy, one that I think is fine, and two that I don’t particularly care for.

    Doesn’t seem too bad, really

  21. Sex&City Says:

    “a show that transcends a mere concert and becomes a life experience.”

    ^This

    @sally… I agree with you on B&B

  22. vapebraham Says:

    Nice one, Miner! Well done. “sacred stride” — $$$ new expression.

  23. Shred Says:

    Being I wasn’t there, it’s hard to have an equal opinion but for me the Piper is the sweetest spot.

    WSP put it all out there on Sat with a very old school set list. Show was very hot. Best I have seen them play. Herring melts faces. A lot of funk too. Crowd is just so small and manageable. I was front row. See video for a peak of the evening. Herring plays every note perfectly. His weakness is very little improv.

    https://www.dropbox.com/s/ndzb34xd83urltb/2016-09-10%2021.55.36.mov?dl=0

  24. Jerome Garcia Says:

    Yo retcorn check Calp’s post on Miner’s prev post re Jaar in Philly.

  25. garretcorncob Says:

    Thanks JG!

    Calp, replied to ya on last post as well but in case you read it here: I think I’m gonna try and make Philly Jaar work, shoot me an email and we can stay in touch on logistics?

    garretconour@gmail.com

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