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. gavinsdad Says:

    Opinions opinions opinions.

    as much hippy dippy outlook as I have its never more than a fraction of a thought away from my callous dickhead side. I think certain stuff is corny. Like Ctb maki and meatstick. Studio albums after whenever I say. I think certain people are corny. And certain shorts are corny. It has nothing to do with you and everything to do with me. It’s my lamest quality.

    Enjoy whatever you enjoy. I’ll be over here diggin Wingsuit and wan (the live versions of course. Ha)

  2. gavinsdad Says:

    +5 for spielburgian

    Sumo – lotta petrichor up the east coast today.

  3. Lycanthropist Says:

    For the record. I do think waiting all night has some of the coolest instrumentation ever. It’s just the chorus that kills me

  4. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    you get any petrichor action with that, dorn?

  5. gavinsdad Says:

    I’ve been digging your thoughts Lycan tho I’m not being pushed over the edge to listen to bb. You’ve always been fair and have a great ear. For me I just don’t know why Trey put the golf couplet in Wingsuit. Memorable throwaway. For me those two songs are purely musical texture then melody then Lyric. Wingsuit is kinda Bug like in that bombast at the end way and Wan is just floaty cotton candy cloud stuff.

  6. HeadyBrosevelt Says:

    i’ve always been a meatstick fan (musically, the verses, the funny chorus) but i do remember hearing people gripe about it. i remember hearing a lot of people gripe about it actually. some of my friends griped and just talking with randos bitching about it after shows. if you don’t have time for the meatstick, i may not have time for you. ha!

  7. HeadyBrosevelt Says:

    gdad, doesn’t dig meatstick? well, i’ll always have time for you, my man.

  8. Lycanthropist Says:

    My thing with wingsuit is that it doesn’t even become musically interesting until half way through.

    And the lyrics almost come off as creepy to me

    Where as bug engages early on and then delivers. And has some interesting lyrics taboot

    Re: big boat

    I am def not making the case for it to be any kind of required listening. There are very few phish albums that I would make that case for. I am just trying to temper some of the hate

  9. Lycanthropist Says:

    I also thought meatstick wasn’t well liked by most fans

  10. Lycanthropist Says:

    It’s def bottom tier in my small little circle.

  11. dorn76 Says:

    Re: spinning out of control. I don’t even mean the bombing thing in NY/NJ, more the media reaction and the seemingly endless appetite and stupidity of ‘Mericans to lap it up.

    “Was this a lone wolf or do we have a group of people here they want to harm America?” A tv talking head just ask someone who wouldn’t know anyway…like a couple cranks with pressure cookers could “harm America”. Uh we’ve already done enough of that ourselves, thanks.

    Lament over.

    Phish album chatter a nice distraction.

  12. Lycanthropist Says:

    WTU has always been holy grail for us though. To the point we think it might be overplayed a bit, taking away from its “specialness”

  13. stapes Says:

    Just a quote I came across a little bit ago that seems appropriate

    “The mundanities of life are not a distraction from the important work of transformation and awakening. They are the very soil out of which it grows, for when we bring our full awareness to any task we are already transformed.”

    Shocks my brain. Spreads it ’round!

  14. rapidan Says:

    I quit after 3 songs … I guess the second half is better than the first half? I’ll never know. huey lewis meets xtc …

  15. dorn76 Says:

    Def rocking petrichor hard out here today. The stink of the earth, not the song. Fuck that jazz opus.

  16. Stoney Case Says:

    i haven’t even spun a whole phish album since purchasing rift in college. #JustSaying

    #AsTheWorldTurns

    Meatstick fit 1999-2000 better than it fit early 3.0, which is why i crack jokes. Although a couple of the recent versions have been $$$

  17. Lycanthropist Says:

    Yeah Stoney. This doesn’t change the phish album game in any significant way.

  18. tela's_muff Says:

    The BB circle has been bagging on Meatstick most of 3.0 it seems. There was a time when it seemed we got a lot of Boogie Meatsticks in middle of second sets. I personally love Meatstick. Not a shocker there.

    As far as WTU, Siket stuff was def the shit. No question. That being said I think WTU carries more weight now. I never reacted to a WTU the way I did at Dicks, both times really. Then that Disease>WTU at Alpine? I def think WTU is loved more now than back in ’99

  19. MrCompletely Says:

    We’ll be the ones to decide what your lamest quality is, GD

  20. Stoney Case Says:

    Tela for sure! It seemed to come in the wrong places for awhile in 3.0 like

    “You just missed the throw down show. Have a Meatstick”

    Probably all in my head but I’ve had fun.

    Just don’t nobody start in on Ride Capn Ride!!

  21. HadToHaveThat Says:

    Morning BB! got some readback to do….but good convo on the album. Feeling more like i need to listen now. Have always wanted to see phish live with horns.

    The wombats made an offer on a house yesterday! EEEEEK!!!! cross your fingers and toes for us!

    Traveling to boston and montreal for trend research this week. Hoping to find some good live music in montreal tonight. But being a monday, not getting my hopes up.

  22. MrCompletely Says:

    Maybe you don’t need to make any huge changes Sumo. Could be you’re more or less on the right path. There are always subtle course corrections needed, but just because your perspective is opening up doesn’t necessarily mean there are big life changes to follow. I don’t know your life of course, just a thought

  23. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    here’s what you could see @htht

  24. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    of course, that’s just what jambase tracks. there are sure to be some good jazz type adventures to be had in that fine city if you can find a good local to guide you

  25. HadToHaveThat Says:

    hey thanks T3!!
    Have you heard of either of these 2 groups playing? gonna take a listen online too….Bear’s Den, Lake Street Dive

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