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. Stoney Case Says:

    Got a $3000 refund for an event I paid for that got cancelled!! Have to admit I had completely forgotten about it 🙄

    A money manager I am not. Holy smokes. Time to pay down some more of the Phish trips I took on Visa three years ago

  2. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    i’m so h3tty my first meatstick was champaign 97. look it up. I’ll wait.

  3. dorn76 Says:

    I don’t remember having much of a reaction to Meatstick’s unsheathing aside from amusement. Same deal now. I don’t do the dance, but sure do like the groove.

    Gen pop circles I ran in didn’t have the most sophisticated reactions to the band in the 90’s. Nor do they now, really.

    “I feel so, natural.”

  4. DaNcInG fOoL Says:

    http://petapixel.com/2016/09/17/dreamlike-photos-burning-man-victor-habchy/

    ^amazing burning man photos

  5. Stoney Case Says:

    Yes Tela. Original line was “whoa whoa, my Cocks my brain”. It’s 1000% about the debaucherous late 90’s and 2000 on tour. Banging groupies from Europe to the American heartland.

  6. DaNcInG fOoL Says:

    ps who has an extra 10/29 vegas?

  7. ElJefe Says:

    What out takes tape was Meatstick on? Bearsville?
    We all thought it was funny it became a song in concert, then it was annoying, then Cypress..
    All timer Meatsticks: Cypress, Gorge 11, FYF and NYs gag(arguably) in house for the first 3, not the Broadway NYs one..

  8. HeadyBrosevelt Says:

    12.5.1999-

    Mikes>Meatstick>Hydrogen>Groove. if you didn’t dig this Meatstick, you are totally fucking nuts.

  9. HeadyBrosevelt Says:

    El Jefe: 12.5.1999 needs to be added to your all timer Meatstick list.

  10. Mr.Miner 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.

    ^ f the BB. That represents nobody. Still have a hard time believing people hated in meatstick in 99-00.

    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

    ^ not sure about this. That shit was instant psych glory. I can only speak for people I associated with, but MLT / WTU and all siket stuff was super well loved from the jump.

  11. Mr.Miner Says:

    I was very happy not to get “It’s a small meatstick world” during a NYE show.

    ^ Meatstick NYE was the greatest, man.

  12. voopa Says:

    http://phish.net/song/meatstick/history

  13. HeadyBrosevelt Says:

    the bb represents some very sweet people. if that’s nobody i’ll gladly hangout with nobody.

  14. Mr.Miner Says:

    I’m trapped here as my senses bleed
    I can’t recall which things I need
    You show up late and stumble in
    Unsure if you are still Corrine

    My captive gaze inside your eyes
    Reveal a thing you’ve tried to hide
    Attempting to record this view
    Reflections drive me out of you

    But long before this scene concludes
    The end I’m seeking still eludes
    My every effort to apply
    My will to moments passing by

    But every time we say goodbye
    The pain I can’t identify
    Reveals to me the hidden door
    That leads to several moments more

    ^ Love these lyrics

  15. Mr.Miner Says:

    the bb represents some very sweet people. if that’s nobody i’ll gladly hangout with nobody.

    ^ i mean numerically

  16. Mr.Miner Says:

    *the* all time meatstick is 7.15.99

  17. HeadyBrosevelt Says:

    the bb represents

    lawyers
    growers
    teachers
    nurses
    professors
    surfers
    climbers
    skiers
    musicians
    lovers
    psychonauts
    artists
    snowboarders
    skaters

    ^you fuckers are all rigth with me.

  18. Mr.Miner Says:

    there was no trolling the audience. you guys are crazy.

  19. Mr.Miner Says:

    love the champaign 97 stick scene @ T3

  20. dorn76 Says:

    The band does sarcasm.

    I salute the Rochester ’99 Meatstick, and had a post ready to share it.

    Heady a better sausage salesman than I.

    The BB is a saint!

  21. Mr.Miner Says:

    aaaaanyway, enough defending the meatstick defense from me. That song is an integral part of phish history. You either know or you don’t I guess.

  22. tela's_muff Says:

    this whole “people I associated with” convo is hilarious. me and the 3 hippy wooks from Ohio i associated with like WTU and Meatstick. there ya go. ha.

    i don’t know about f the BB. i mean, Dorn represents Chompers everywhere.

  23. gavinsdad Says:

    Haha miner I thought u were talking about the chorus

  24. stapes Says:

    Idk. My crew used to say you either get the Meatstick, or you give the Meatstick, if you know what I mean.

  25. dorn76 Says:

    Is ‘The Meatstick Defense’:

    a)Chess gambit
    b)Legal argument
    c)Excuse made to gf
    d)Phish minutiae
    e)Fuck the bb

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