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”

  1. MrCompletely Says:

    I mean, page is often indistinct here, but that’s just how most phish mixes are for whatever stupid reason…clav the best defined instrument of his. When he’s more audible it pushes Triscuit into focus stereo wise

    Mike effect tones sound very good. Realistic. Nice to hear that for sure.

  2. MrCompletely Says:

    I’m trying to stay away from EQing it but I kinda want to push the upper mids…yeah, that pops Teeny right out. Just a bit helped.

    If you have a good stereo and like actively fucking around getting it dialed in, this is cool. If not, it’s probably not worth it.

  3. MrCompletely Says:

    Oh shit.

    The ice nines.

    Wow.

    ….yeah.

  4. MrCompletely Says:

    Uh, that was really cool

    It sounds about as real as your stereo can make it sound when Mike drops the ice bombs.

    Sick.

  5. MrCompletely Says:

    Now that I have it dialed, the mix varies from good to great except when it’s loud (both audio levels and amp volume) and there are vocals. Something is up in that situation. Not terrible but a little wrong sounding. The end of this lizards is lovely at a lower volume, very clear…now super punchy bass in the start of first tube

    One unusual thing about it is the dynamic range. The levels vary a lot more naturally than almost any pure soundboard recording. Takes some getting used to and not necessarily just a good thing, but a nice change

  6. BingosBrother Says:

    Halloween 2014 best phish album ever

    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=2CKGagtPqtU

  7. jdub Says:

    Listening to Stashteca from ’95 UCF. Still waiting for that out there 3.0 Stash…

    So our family had a successful sports weekend. My son won his soccer game and 2 fall ball baseball games, my daughter lost her soccer game, and I won our 2 old time rules baseball games and tri town tournament. 5-1. not bad. Kid is pooped, but he leaves every ounce of energy on the field, no matter what he is doing. Truly inspiring.

    He also wants to play Tweezer on the trumpet with his friend who plays sax and parents are phish heads at the school talent show this spring. He figures he has all school year to learn it. I swear, no influence there. Couldn’t be prouder.

  8. sumodie Says:

    Tweezer on the trumpet! Jdub showing his kids The Right Way

    Bingos nailed it. Earlier I was thinking how Fuego resulted in Thrilling & Chilling, so who knows what will follow Big Boat

    Poltergeist – I had nightmares for months about that clown. And I was 13. No, there are no clowns in Stranger Things. Of course, I had nightmares after watching Halloween on liquid at Indio. Not cutesy Jamie Lee Curtis Halloween, we’re talking Rob Zombie’s hard core Halloween. Best hysterical horror film experience ever, what with all the freaked out phishies in attendance. The nightmares were so worth it. Now that they’re over.

    Lycan’s Stranger Things assessment seems about right

  9. MrCompletely Says:

    Junior is watching episode one on the tablet right now, we’ll watch all the rest together

    He might get nightmares, but he’s at the age where that’s his choice, to a point. Just wanna keep it under the “scarred for life” level.

  10. Mr.Miner Says:

    kinda want a phish mono mix.

  11. Mr.Miner Says:

    stranger things gets out there. he won’t understand it all imo. it gets weird / psychedelic / philosophical / sci fi theory

  12. Mr.Miner Says:

    Since my basis for phish studio albums is “how many songs make my accumulated playlist” I think the new one is better, I guess. Even some of the songs I don’t think I’ll listen to much are a step more creative.

    ^ like what? I’m not trying to debate or anything, I just think it’s complete crap. like the worst thing phish has ever recorded. Winterqueen isn’t like roggae imo. its got an ameircana vibe to the solo part. I think it’s a fantastic song. I also love wingsuit and 555. And Fuego, though annoying live at this point, I think is a great song for sure.

  13. Mr.Miner Says:

    I mean aren’t we all already fans of NMINML, Blaze On, Waking Up Dead, Friends?

    ^ yeah, blaze and no mans are great songs but they sound lame as hell on the album. Waking up dead is alright. Friends I don’t like at all.

  14. bobby weird Says:

    C, he won’t be scarred for life; not even close, imo. more like, mentally stimulated with a large dose of tween empathy/association/formative bonding that will live large and remain fond in his memories for life. my prediction and earnest hope, at least.

  15. Mr.Miner Says:

    But Meatstick, absolutely!

    ^ i think meatstick was always well loved. It has a rich pre-history and tons of meaning in terms of cypress, japan et al. I haven’t ever heard people bash it. I’ve always loved the song from day 1.

  16. Mr.Miner Says:

    way behind, am reading back, but Big Boat imo is pure crap. just shit all around

    ^ this.

  17. sumodie Says:

    C, I appreciate the Dick’s matrix thoughts. My stereo system isn’t quite as robust but I’ll give the matrix a spin soon. Dude says he is spending 30-35 hours to make this one matrix!

    The Oral GD History continues to fascinate. Now I’m thinking that 1965-66 is the GD era I’d most like to travel back in time to. I had no idea that there were so many Acid Tests. The stories from so many participants are entrancing.

    And I’m now spending more and more time in the car, which is where I’m listening to the book.

  18. sumodie Says:

    So Fuego has Winterqueen, Fuego, 555 & Wingsuit

    Big Boat has NMINML, Blaze On, and…..

    …Home. With maybe Running Out of Time, Waking Up Dead, or I Always Wanted it This Way in the fourth slot…?

    The Big Boat tracks already have the lead on total number of jams

    Not trying to argue, or defend Ezrin. Of course I rank all pre 3.0 albums as better, but I’m not sure that really adds anything to the Big Boat convo

    Big Boat may be at the back of the pack for Phish albums but it’s absolutely not ‘total crap’.

  19. MrCompletely Says:

    eh for reasons already discussed Fuego is last for me. I don’t ever want to hear anything on it but WQ ever again

    Just on first spin I agree with sumo, I won’t spin it again aside from Blaze and No Man’s until the lossless is here

    but to me Hoist is one of the worst of all Phish albums, so I’m in the distinct minority taste wise. idk

    The Dicks matrix is a lot more interesting to me because the mixing philosophy the guy has is so different from anything I usually hear

  20. MrCompletely Says:

    Sumo, the TL;DR on the matrix stuff is just keep fucking with your settings a little if it doesn’t sound right, small amounts of EQ and such made a big difference

  21. MrCompletely Says:

    I knew a lot of people who hated Meatstick when it was first in heavy rotation. HATED IT. And I mean a LOT of people. That seemed like the majority to me for a long while.

    Another example, for the first year or so I hardly knew anyone that liked What’s The Use at all and absolutely no one else (besides Mrs C) who immediately picked it as an all time favorite song. Not saying there were no other fans of it out there but I remember seeing it a few times where the crowd overall was just not engaged with it.

    Roggae is another tune that I think is more widely loved now than it was for awhile.

  22. MrCompletely Says:

    but of course that could just be the people I was hanging out with at the time, and the random people around me at shows.

  23. tela's_muff Says:

    C – no question people have hated on Meatstick. not sure how that’s even debatable. I def remember when WTU was new and some were struggling with it. we wanted My Left Toe, but got a WTU…. that was brief, but i remeber it that way

    as far as new album, i’ll prob never spin it much just like i’ve never spun Joy or Fuego. that being said, I’ve very excited for Home and I Always Wanted It This Way. both have serious potential. i’m actually surprised they made Friends somewhat tolerable because i def didn’t like the live version. i think Miss You might become my next Spread It Round, in that there’s no way anyone should like these songs, but i do.

    anyway, it’s a 3.0 Phish album. about what i expected. although Home and Always were surprises.

  24. Random Poster...Nutbag Says:

    I didn’t mind Big Boat upon first spin. Some good points, some ok points, some blah points. Home and Always Wanted captured my attention. I really dig that Home part they used for the release promo thing. Sounds very Phishy to me. Always Wanted is just weird and 80’s ish and that’s cool to me as well. Pool or pond. I’m sure a couple of the songs will grow on me.

    C- With you on WTU. Loved it immediately. That was initially going to be my handle on this site. Not sure why I strayed from it.

    TL/DR….same old Lions

  25. tela's_muff Says:

    it’s probably just me, but loving trey and following his music, life, etc. for 22 years and knowing the guy’s sister died of cancer? how does the song Miss You not tug at your heart a little?? and then, with that, it’s hard for me to not think of close people to me that have died. so anyway, just my two cents on what is prob a cheesy song but i like it. thank god Summer of ’89 didn’t speak to me..i’d be banned.

    other thought, i think the album captures Trey’s solos in an acceptable fashion.

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