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:

    And it’s fine if Junior has half of Stranger Things go right over his head. He’ll be curious at least, give him something to think about. It’s a good time be exposed to advanced ideas regardless of whether he fully gets em or not.

  2. MrCompletely Says:

    Telas, we had an interesting time listening to Miss You. It’s incredibly heartfelt. I don’t feel right just blowing it off or making fun of it. I bust Triscuit’s balls on here all the time but I do respect the guy, and I understand quite well how deep the feeling is there. Honestly, I want to like that song. There are some things about it that work. The emotion in his voice comes through clearly, reinforced by repetition of the title line. I feel him.

    But the arrangement is just so Trey-generic. Mrs C is open to some of his cheese ballads, like I am, and she observed “I’ve just heard this exact feel, and this solo, from him over and over for ages now.” In the end it just doesn’t work for me, because the music isn’t strong or interesting enough. And because I feel mean for not liking it, it ends up making me a little uncomfortable…I just realized that last part, ha

  3. bobby weird Says:

    for me the relevance of pre-3.0 records is to reveal a marketed downward trend imo. bad, and getting progressively worse. im really struggling to accept the fact that they thought it was a good idea to release this. especially after the musical magic at Dicks.

  4. tela's_muff Says:

    The chorus is def standard Trey cheez. I like the other parts. And yeah, that is kind of a recycled solo. I liked it in CHI. It’s a little too much for me at a show. Like, I don’t need those thoughts on a head full.

  5. MrCompletely Says:

    Trying to understand phish is a losing battle man. At least for me

  6. MrCompletely Says:

    Blaze On in headphones…can hear the compression pretty bad, ragged edges on all the instruments except drums

    Symmetrical mix, so Trey is de emphasized compared to the live sound. Vocal centric mix that showcases fish a bit. Good energy in the performance. Has some dynamics.

    No real solo. I’m sure that’s the main problem for a lot of people. But that’s normal on phish studio albums. I mean Taste doesn’t even have a guitar solo in the album version!

    Idk, I like it. With a solo I’d like it more.

  7. MrCompletely Says:

    No Man’s in headphones

    Same exact mix, so I assume the same objections.

    Could’ve just layered more Page in instead of the horns. I don’t hate em, but they’re a little corny or something.

    Actual guitar solo. Basic tone to start at least. Missed opportunity. Octave divider yo! Legit shredding though – that’s really rare from him on phish albums. Extended even.

    Page gets filthy by the peak there…And it actually kinda peaks

    Yeah even with the questionable horns I think that’s a successful cut. Dropping the horns for more clav and effects on the guitar could’ve given it a harder edged feel and made it really great.

  8. MrCompletely Says:

    The basic descending chords in Miss You, based on the cadence of the words, works. And every time it returns to those changes out of one of the cheesier parts it has a good, bittersweet feeling. It’s the rest of it that clunks for me. Really does have a lot of feeling though. Sad.

    I don’t mind a heavy song deep in the soup. That’s what I grew up with tho.

  9. Mr.Miner 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.

    ^ i didn’t roll in these circles

    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

    ^ and I *definitely* didn’t roll in these circles. that was an insta fav for everyone I rolled with. Siket was like made for us, we crushed that so many times before tour even started. It became an all-time favorite Phish “thing” upon our first listen. Every track. Then on the first night of tour they dropped Bug > My Left Toe > Stash, and we fully freaked. people didn’t like wtu??…very interesting. takes all kinds I guess.

  10. Mr.Miner Says:

    I just don’t remember meatstick hate. Granted i wasn’t walking around polling people and I wasn’t a part of any phish internet, so that might be why I steered clear of it, but I always dug it quite a bit as did everyone I knew. It was part and parcel with 99 phish. I distinctly remember freaking on how sick the groove was at the lakewood debut and how all my friends and i thought it was so genius how they made a song from the little “jam” from L’ille and held off on it until July 4 weekend. Then a few versions later they blew it out in PNC Meastick > Split > Kung scene. I’ve always loved the song and truly never knew people disliked it. What’s to dislike about it? It’s a thick ass awesome groove, great lyrics….weird.

    Just looking at stats. 6 in summer 00. 3 in fall 00. never seemed like it was overplayed to me either. then cypress and japan cemented it as an iconic song. Phish clearly loved it, it was highly danceable and usually came out amidst sick sets, thus I / we loved it. It was a ray of fun, dancy lightness usually amidst dark ass sets. I basically didn’t dislike much / anything (other than bluegrass) from 97-00. And neither did the people I hung out with, both close circles and extended. What was there to dislike back then?

    for the purpose of #s—
    6 in summer 99 (all in fairly epic sets)
    3 in fall 99
    2 in winter 99
    3 in summer 00 including Japan
    3 in fall 00

    It was never in heavy rotation…

    The only push back on the late 90s that I ever heard of came from the early 90s people who couldn’t wrap their head around what space-aged monster Phish had turned into.

  11. Selector J Says:

    Unabashed Meatstick fan. Cheeseball inuendo, line dancing, and a slinky groove.. What’s not to love? Seriously though, I dig it. Big up, Japan.

    In other news, I unfollowed @thephunion on twitter today. So many tweets and dude just isn’t funny.

  12. Mr.Miner Says:

    Line dancing?

    The innuendo is not trying to be subtle. Humor has always been a part of their schtick, but rarely in such an awesome musical setting. The lyrics in the verses I’ve always dug.

  13. Selector J Says:

    “A line dance is a choreographed dance with a repeated sequence of steps in which a group of people dance in one or more lines or rows, all facing either each other or in the same direction, and executing the steps at the same time.”
    – Wikipedia

  14. theBaker Says:

    *my VERY 1st (of “less than a-handful”) DMT hit EVER, I had NYE MEATSTICK EweT00b on, perfectly horizontal on a king-size bed, & pulled-the-Trigger on that Pipe and “Imadgin’d” a carousel of “Russian-doll”-style MEATSTICKs of varying “nationalities”/races/colors, rotating around, going Up and going dowN in circles…

  15. theBaker Says:

    Happy Monday BB!

    IT’s a Most beautiful dawn-arising Here aside the “noon whistle-tower” in OAKCREEK,CO…I hope to see JG @CoorsField this evening AFTER an art display of female abstract American artists, TWO V I P brewery t00rs in Denver-metro, and an afternoon full of legal puffing 🙂

    *make IT a GOOD ONE!
    **PittBEATpennstate last weekend…JG owes me Lunch–> I’ll settle for an appearance at Today’s baseball Game 😉

  16. gavinsdad Says:

    Went to a memorial last nite. Saw 15-20 old tour frkends from say 1990 range. The resounding echo was “we’re still alive!” Do NOT make this your battle cry. It’s lame. I am so happy to know so many people who have far more grounded and thoughtful and engaged life situations than some folks that clearly have been doing it the hard way for many many moons. Not that I don’t love these people and the family my friend left behind were so filled w love and accommodating and present. All this shit just spins me for a loop and makes me grateful for the now. Shit doesn’t come easy. Life, with or without spouses or kids, is super tough work. I was putting away dishes this am after ironing a shirt and just had tons of good feeling about my small basic suburban life. It’s manageable and it’s working. That’s all I can ask for.

    The dj played unbroken chain>inca roads>a funk tune>wutang. Haha just a perfect representation of inside my friends head.

  17. Lycanthropist Says:

    I like Miss You

  18. Lycanthropist Says:

    I only cringed on Breath and Burning, More and Petrichor

  19. Lycanthropist Says:

    I know Wingsuit has gained favor as it has gone on, but really that song is very lame until the final solo

    I just think the words to Miss You are honest and heartfelt without the overly saccharine feel of songs like Let Me Lie, Waiting All Night (which does have far superior instrumentation), Joy, Summer of 89, etc etc.

    Miss you has a great flow, and yes it is a bit redundant for Trey, but it is a much better tune than some of the aforementioned songs above.

  20. Lycanthropist Says:

    Let me be clear too…

    I am not saying they have delivered a masterpiece.

    but this is a far cry from Joy and as not a pile of crap…

    It’s a decent effort, that seems to be par for aging rock stars.

  21. dorn76 Says:

    Gdazzle bringing the sparkles to the mundane.

    The simple things are sublime when the world careens out even more of control than usual around us…Cleared a gutter this AM after a quick 1.5 inches of rain today had a waterfall come down the front windows. Sorely needed rain, been dry all Summer and even our permanently verdant corner of the world was showing strain. Just full soul satisfaction feeling that soil and all the living things breathing a huge sigh of relief.

  22. Lycanthropist Says:

    C

    Jr. may miss some of the more philosophical stuff, but I think he will enjoy the pure spielburgian adventure of the whole thing.

  23. sumodie Says:

    Gdad, I feel ya (and sorry for your loss). In recent months I’ve been getting more frequent messages, internal & external, about those big questions surrounding death; how do I want to (better) engage with friends & family as we all age; what does success mean to me, etc. I feel the finiteness of life a lot more now, but I can’t say that has caused me to make changes as of yet.

    These deep thoughts got mashed up with my frustrations with an underwhelming summer tour, effectively removing my FOMO from Phish and placing it atop these bigger personal issues.

    Now if only I would stop dragging out straightforward / mundane projects in order to avoid facing life’s deeper more complex, opaque questions.

    I must be high on the petrichor floating in through the windows. For the first time in at least 6 weeks we got a heavy sustained rain storm.

  24. RoosterPizza Says:

    A huge thank you to JG for his hospitality and good energy during Dick’s run. I enjoyed my gel the day after the show, and it really knocked something loose for me (this just became apparent to me yesterday). I have always worked hard and been productive, but I’ve never been so locked it and on top of things. From taking care of the kids, to doing research, to building online courses— it’s all dialed in.

    The Dick’s pilgrimage giveth.

  25. RoosterPizza Says:

    Gdad with some real words of wisdom.

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