The Feeling Returns


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.


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)

Tags: ,

1,410 Responses to “The Feeling Returns”

  1. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    Lake Street Dive has really strong vocalists for one thing. I know one of the ladies has played with TTB and was part of the tribute to Joe Cocker set at Lock’n a year or two ago. not really up on their music but a lot of people like them. never heard of the other one…

  2. HadToHaveThat Says:

    awesome thanks again! already liking Lake Street Drive a little better. Will let you know how it goes if we get out tonight!

  3. sumodie Says:

    Big Boat feels rushed, like the band allocated a limited amount of time for the album, squeezing it in between summer tour & other (personal) projects. Their goal was to do their best within their chosen timeframe, make the hard calls to finish the album on time, and move on for better or worse

    At least that’s my take

  4. BingosBrother Says:

    Was hiking with the family at Giant City this weekend high AF thinking about how nature requires you to be present and in the moment. Then I slipped on a rock and almost broke my neck. Then I thought “you better stop thinking bro”.

  5. MiA Says:

    I will suggest that people who weren’t standing in the crowd when “Eatstick” was dropped are the ones who like it the most? Tela’s excluded.

    ’99 show and Phish is killing it in a set and is dropping some of the best deepest jams of their career.

    Then … Wait, let’s stop, teach you a stupid dance, and all the girls start jumping up and down with the coordinated music clap, and do the whole choreographed dance? Lots of sorority girls LOVE the meatstick dance.

    Not a person I knew per and post show, didn’t think Trey was trolling us.

    Everytime I looked at someone “dancing” to a choreographed” meatstick, my inner “Albert Walker” came out, and I thought “jezzus. Clap to Stash. Yell during Hood. Whatever. But this makes you look like dumb asses” I’ve never been a “hettier than thou” until I see people dancing to Meatstick. Solemnly. You know the band is laughing that you guy are doing this.

    Trying to be bigger than the Macarena and get in the Guinness Book of World Records? Lame.

    Handful of times it’s been a great song (post RnR) at Gorge, but seriously. I was very happy not to get “It’s a small meatstick world” during a NYE show.

  6. MiA Says:

    I woke up salty. So I’ll excuse myself out.

  7. Sex&City 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…

    ^Who wouldn’t want to deem it up after this story?

  8. Sex&City Says:

    @Gdad… Agree what its nice to feel comfort, happiness, and joy with your current situation. I’m almost there but have a bit to go. Hard to live your entire life doing whatever you want to do and then all of a sudden, poof, suburb life takes over. But I agree about finding the bliss in “the now”. that is what it’s all about.

  9. bobby weird Says:

    i like the intro to Meatstick, but not the dance. hard to top “gonna rage with Paige” for cheese factor though.

  10. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    Lots of sorority girls LOVE the meatstick dance.

    this sentence works on multiple levels 80

  11. HeadyBrosevelt Says:

    @mia- that is pretty funny re: meatstick. i remember just running in circles around people doing the meatstick dance at oswego when trey stopped the show to try and break the Guinness book of world records for a “choreographed” dance. i remeber thinking/laughing to myself- there is no way that this hippy shit show is going to qualify for a “choreographed” dance.

  12. Stoney Case Says:

    MiA dropping truth and knowledge.

  13. HeadyBrosevelt Says:

    re: new album. i haven’t heard it yet, but i will listen to it eventually. when Phish went from Crosseyed into Friends at the Mann I was into it. When i respin that show, I’m still into it.

  14. vegas wolfmans Says:

    Agree with MiA. Don’t mind it now, but it was definitely loathed amongst my touring posse in 99. Not angry, throw-stuff-at-the-band reaction, but more of a “why would it seem like a good idea to drop this in the second set?” vibe. Appreciate Miner’s # time played breakdown. At the time, it felt like it was dropping every other show.

  15. gavinsdad Says:

    Mia u were in my head there in 99. I abstained. In 3.0 any many others I def danced. Magna and Mann for sure. I don’t agree w miner in the lyrics At all. Very phishy. Silly phishy. Pages girl back at pnc 99 was the highlight.

    Dude sex – gratitude only hits me every so often I’d like to harvest waaaay more of it. A simple humble life is what I desire

    Sumo – I like your thoughts to and I’ll take Cs comment to heart…i need to look at recalibration points…little tweaks like more meditation and exercise or tai chi…less whatever I think is bogging me down. Keep tinkering.

    Can’t square peg round hole charleston either. Or Nashville. They don’t work with other stuff. Really wanted a taste of fall not because of dicks but more because I simply love fall tours.

  16. dorn76 Says:

    Lake Street Dive’s frontwoman can wail. Totally would check them out. Jazzy, easy and fun stuff.

    I mean you’re already a legend around here, @WombatLady, but please tell me “trend research” involves nothing more than wandering around, eating and drinking in hip parts of town.

  17. bobby weird Says:

    I Always Wanted It This Way cannot possibly be a serious song, right?

    i kind of like Running Out Of Time tho. :: ducks ::

  18. gavinsdad Says:

    Kinda really loving and connected way more with that Whitney album last nite VW – such simple and direct lyrics – personal sentiments – even his voice which is so very odd I had a breakthru there as well.

  19. ElJefe Says:

    For a band the basically wrote a song about a piss break that was a piss break tune, Meatstick is def up there in the “wtf are they trolling me?”. The answer of course is yes, yes they are trolling… To me Phish wouldn’t be Phish if that ‘taking the piss’ humor wasnt there.. No extra Jiboo humor intended btw..
    Hated both tunes then and kinda love em both now..

  20. tela's_muff Says:

    i’m more shocked that MiA was clearly not running in Miner’s circle…. 😉

    yeah MiA, it was def a band trolling the audience. i couldn’t bring myself to learn the dance, but i did like the song/vibe.

    Big Cypress cemented Meatstick in my mind for all time.

  21. BingosBrother Says:

    I like doing the dance when I’m walking out to my car during the encore. You hear it fading away, but you and the people walking out with you are doing it together, eventually in silence.

  22. vegas wolfmans Says:

    Nice, Gdiddy. My wife really likes that album and spins it frequently. As such, it’s grown on me over the past few months. Pretty affecting really.

  23. Stoney Case Says:

    Listening to the band sing about banging young tour groupies was a bit revolting. I mean. They look like rejects from the Hobbit films, the phuggly phour and shit.

  24. MiA Says:

    So my first “Meatstick” which I had only read about over the summer, was The Gorge 9/11/99. People were on RMP bitching about Meatstick, but I didn’t have an opinion although it sounded lame. Had no idea what song it was until people started dancing to it.

    It came post a Wolfman’s > Sand Jam (sick AF) that had me reeling and needing to sit down and ask myself how I now have twice as many pockets as when I started the set. My shorts were creating new pockets on the outside of my old pockets. and there were change things in my inner pockets. I didn’t even notice people were dancing a choreographed dance to it.

    So it was a “recapture your marbles” kind of moment. Then they lept back into Maze, and I dropped my marbles completely again. Caspian went into outer space, and the Hood is the one with all the endings.

    And when they encored with Circus, I just packed up and figured it was great music for the walk out. Luckily it was timed perfectly that my head was in a space to walk out and figure out how to get back to my car.

    I was defensive that night. I told people Phish can’t just drop it hard, and never take the foot off the accelerator. Need to let people keep their head together, but yeah, a Reba there was a much better idea. You can get your head together in a Reba too.

    Austin’s Wolfman’s Brother -> The Lizards, Sand -> Misty Mountain Hop with the Boogie On Reggae Woman > Chalk Dust Torture encore had me praying they didn’t Meatstick that shit.

    Phish just happily takes their foot off the accelerator too much now. What was great about Dicks is they didn’t do it at all. Just kept throwing it out again and again.

  25. tela's_muff Says:

    ok Stoney – so Meatstick is about penis, right? i was debating this with T3, Verno, Lycan, and Mia. To me it’s def about penis and sex or something along those lines. No?

Leave a Reply