Rooted in the Now

Deer Creek [Rene Huemer via Phish]

After playing such a monumental concert on Friday night, one might have expected Phish to come out with a bit more contained affair on Saturday—aka the Saturday night special. But mellow doesn’t seem to be in this band’s vocabulary right now. Instead, they came correct with a Saturday night smoker held down by a well crafted second set that just wouldn’t quit. Flowing with jams of all shapes and styles, Phish displayed the breadth of their musical mastery to a raucous crowd at Deer Creek.

Kicking off the second set, the band dropped a groove leviathan in the form of “Everything’s Right.” After an initial segment that stayed fairly close to the vest, the highlight of this excursion came when Page led the band into into a darker lair that sonically depicted the underground dungeon of Super Mario Brothers. I can’t say enough about Page’s contributions to the improvisational mixture right now. His sounds, textures, and leadership have pushed the band into totally new places this tour, resulting in fresh sounding Phish jams of the likes that we have never heard before. One can find examples of his avant-garde contributions in each show of this summer, and even within every improvisational passage. Combined with Trey’s diverse arsenal of tones and effects, their synergy has been creating futuristic Phish jams. But the future is now.

The band emerged from this underworld into a cleaner improvisational place, finishing the jam with more conventional rock playing in which Trey teased “Simple,” giving a nod to the mind-bender from Friday night. The jam concluded with a sparser funk section that likened a “Moma” groove which bled seamlessly back into the song of “Everything’s Right.”

A vast and spacious take on “What’s the Use?” expanded throughout the amphitheatre, serving as an exhale from the set’s opening fire. This version really struck a chord with me, as the band allowed the music to breathe and swell as if it was its own organic entity. Really stunning stuff here, as the instrumental piece took on an enhanced vitality and provided a level artistry we don’t always see from this piece.

The set revved up again with a vigorous run through “Crosseyed” which featured some high octane playing Trey. His passionate leads drove the band through a triumphant improvisational mid-set frolic, which set up the most creative jam of the night in “Down With Disease.” Following the song’s composed jam, the band locked into a delicate conversation that saw Trey, Page and Mike tossing around ideas like a hot potato. This jam exemplifies one-minded Phish as it’s finest, where their listening and response time is all but non-existent—just a rolling, subconscious flow coming from all directions at once. And then amidst this supernatural exchange, Trey just held a note and the band built an astonishing crescendo around it leaving this audience member in awe.

Although I have focused exclusively on the second set, one of the sublime excursions of the night came in the first in an incandescent version of “Stash.” Phish blew out the borders of the usually structured jam into an awesome improvisational exercise that saw the band in lockstep forming a golden pathway of deliverance. Connecting a section of delicate, melody-driven interplay with one of exhilarating, hard-hitting groove, Phish sculpted the most memorable version of their early ’90s classic in quite some time.

I also wanted to mention the mid-first set coupling of  “Yamar” and “Roggae.” Both rarities were dusted off with particular zest. Trey’s “Yamar” solo really popped with creativity and flow and while his deeply expressive playing in”Roggae” surfed atop an oceanic tide from his bandmates. Both really standout versions.

The energy of Phish feels so pure right now. Perhaps it is that the pandemic has made them realize that nothing can be taken for granted at this point and the rug can be pulled out from under them at any time. It sure seems that they are savoring every moment on stage together and wasting none of them. If the past year and a half has taught us anything, it is that life is fragile, and with the earth continuing to march towards an unknown destiny, the time is now. Phish seems to be living this philosophy, and each and every one of us are blessed to be a part of the equation.

I. Crowd Control, Poor Heart, The Moma Dance, Back on the Train, Army of One, Bouncing Around the Room, Ya Mar, Roggae, A Wave of Hope*, Stash, Cavern

II. Everything’s Right, What’s the Use?, Crosseyed and Painless > What’s the Use? > Down with Disease > Wading in the Velvet Sea, Possum

E. Drift While You’re Sleeping


15 Responses to “Rooted in the Now”

  1. Andrew Says:

    Great review – what’s the use ? Was a highlight

  2. Derek Says:

    100% great review. And nice to see you at the shows and writing reviews. Someone needs to document this amazing band. ❤️

  3. Willowed Says:

    It has been so incredibly fulfilling to wake up and read these again.

    Much love.

  4. Butter Says:

    Amazing work Miner. U da Man. Holy shit.

  5. Scott Says:

    Yeah minor, yeah phish. Glad you’re back. Feel it in the music and writing.

  6. Aquaman Says:



  7. Aquaman Says:

    Sign of the times given that we don’t have 67+ pages of comments on each post. Miss those days.

    I think I just aged myself.


  8. kayatosh Says:

    Thank you, Mr. Miner.


  9. kayatosh Says:

    Just spin the Simple from night 1. Holy Moses, that is a JAM and a half! Very simple to start and then the jam gets progressively more complex. Those synths! Page out in front, trey delving deep into ambient textures, deep in the lab. Fish and Mike keeping things anchored while Trey and Page invent new music and sounds. Invoked pink Floyd and a tripped-out Yes in tone. So free. So groovy too. Laughed out loud when they brought it back around. need another listen.

  10. kenny powers Says:


  11. Myhkel Says:

    Thanks Miner …these posts bring warmness to my heart.

    Just got back from my 3 nights at Deer Creek.

    The Boys are playing so great right now!

  12. Sanchothehutt Says:

    Aqua, indeed. Word needs to spread he’s back. If he writes it they will come!

  13. Lycanthropist Says:

    Indeed. It is glad to have these reviews back, especially during a time when the Phish seems determined to blow it out of the water each night.

    Even last night, where to my ears it was clear they couldn’t hook up on the big jams, they course corrected and did some great fun creative mash ups. Like that is still Phishy as hell and delivers an unforgettable experience.

    They are en fuego, and regardless if you want to classify it as 3.0, 3.5, 4.0 or whatever, it is clear that there is a new sound, a new vibe that they are loving right now and I am here for it.

    cowsynthwave baby

  14. bohnnco Says:

    Nice to see you back. It’s been years since I’ve wandered over here. I wondered what you were up to and if you were back writing. How could you not after this phish Renaissance? Enjoy and stay well.

  15. St8 of mind Says:

    Haven’t been here in a while. Pleasantly surprised to see Miner writing again. I’ve attended Alpharetta and deer creek. Very fortunate to catch some very high quality shows and big jams in that run.

    I do wanna mention that I thought Sunday night at DC was incredibly well played by the entire band. This show is undeservedly being very underrated, Give it a listen. They threw down!

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