Through the Hourglass

Posted in Uncategorized with the tags , , on September 3rd, 2012 by Mr.Miner

9.2.2012 – Commerce City, CO (Michael Stein)

When Trey stepped to the mic to thank the crowd for a wonderful three nights in Colorado and a “joyous” summer, one could hear the emotion and gratitude seep through his voice. But, in reality, we should be thanking him and the band for a second leg of summer tour that grew to places unimaginable, and the unbelievably inspirational music within. Punctuating the season with a seamless set of music that was centered on a mammoth sequence of “Sand -> Ghost -> Piper,” the band left no doubt about the state of affairs in the world of Phish—better than ever.

Official Print – Purple (Stout)

After two historic nights of music to start their stay at Dick’s, the guys needed a first set of songs to exhale and set their bearings after surfing the astral plane for so long. Once the lights dropped for the main event, however, Phish ramped things right back up with a “Sand” that exited stage left into a monumental excursion. “Sand” has been a villain of groove all summer long, birthing sweltering dance sessions since Worcester’s all-star rendition. But if Worcester’s “Sand” makes the all-star team, last night’s is a first-ballot Hall of Famer. All things seemed par for the course as the guys bathed in a scorching groove, but midway through the normal jam, they found a wormhole through which they squeezed, completely switching musical feels. But once they reached the other side, the music moved into space.

Fish dropped his beat and band built an eerie soundscape through which Mike and Fish initiated a triumphant, mid-tempo groove. Instanstaneously, the piece elevated into blissful open pastures, and when Trey rejoined the mix over his own loop, the jam transformed into heaven. Once peaking this euphoric segment, Trey threw down some hard rhythm chops, and the band immediately entered another section of jamming. All weekend long, where Trey would typically pull back, the pushed forth, and as expected, his mates were more than happy to oblige. Building this final part into a soaring rock groove, Trey took the jam to the top, sounding like it was “46 Days.” A seething solo over a full band peak capped this all-time great, or so we thought.

9.2.2012 (Graham Lucas)

At this juncture, and at the end of “Ghost,” the band took their time to pass between songs, intentionally extending jams into the musical setting of the forthcoming piece. This patience helped craft, perhaps, the tightest set of tour. Thus, when Trey turned back to the theme of “Sand” and proceeded to lead a jam out if it, the move just about knocked the socks off everyone in the stadium! With care the band worked the jam into a slower groove, laced with effects, and they morphed into the second “Ghost” of Leg Two. Where Long Beach’s version moved into uplifting sonic reverie, this rendition gravitated towards the dark, though didn’t reach the levels of its tour-opening counterpart. Leading the first part of the jam with an uncompressed, Hendrix-like scream, and stepping back for the second sequence of percussive grooves, Trey hit on multiple styles in this three-part “Ghost.” Finalizing the piece was another “segue jam,” an ambient crawl into “Piper.”

9.2.2012 (M.Stein)

Though not as developed as many of the jams we heard this tour, “Piper,” nonetheless, reached completely original ground. An uptempo staccato carnival, in which Trey locked into some stellar melodies, dazzled the crowd, while Page comped Red with quality piano stylings. The quartet was immersed in some of the more engaging music of the night, but as they had improvising non-stop for nearly 50 minutes straight—and for the first time all weekend—the band pulled up on a jam that still had plenty of life. Artistically twisting into the first appearance of “Twenty Years Later,” Phish completed a colossal chunk of improv, and audience roared in approval.

As the band paired “Twenty Years Later”—a retrospective song about time gone by and life experiences—and their earliest-era, Gamhendge classic,”Lizards,” a certain poignancy emerged. Here the band stood onstage in 2012, nearly 30 years removed from its genesis, and playing the best music of their lives. It felt like the guys realized this as well, using these two songs as a juxtaposition of times in their lives and a celebration of all that has happened in between. And there is no other way to end a musical celebration than with “Harry Hood.” A song that has been played with passion all year long took one more run around the block last night with glorious results. Ending the summer with a cathartic exclamation point, Trey wove a dreamlike solo before stepping up and sharing his thoughts with the audience.

9.2.2012 (Eric Battuello)

If 2009 initiated the Golden Age of Phish, 2012 brought us into a modern renaissance, where the band is no longer limited to jam “portions,” but now feel comfortable to extend their ideas over long periods of time, crafting thematic journeys rather than mere glimpses of the infinite. This summer, starting in Worcester and progressing through Denver, Phish hit a stride like never before this era, and Leg Two has been their crowning achievement. Strewn with all-time jams, Dick’s three-night run was the culmination of this magical year, and the feeling as we break until New Year’s couldn’t be more jubilant. As they started to sing in ’09, Phish wants us to be happy. Well, mission accomplished.

I: Cars Trucks Buses, AC/DC Bag, Down with Disease, Bathtub Gin, Nellie Kane, Sample in a Jar, Back on the Train, Rift, Free, Ride Captain Ride, Maze, Halley’s Comet > 46 Days, Possum

II: Sand -> Ghost -> Piper > Twenty Years Later, The Lizards, Harry Hood

E: Character Zero

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IT’s Brighter In Colorado

Posted in Uncategorized with the tags , , on September 2nd, 2012 by Mr.Miner

9.1.2012 Commerce City, PA (Michael Stein)

Armed with a devastating setlist and a centerpiece jam for the ages, Phish annihilated Dick’s for a second straight night, playing a show that stepped onto the top shelf of 2012. After Friday night, few could imagine how the band would follow a performance of such magnitude, but they did just fine and then some. Centering the show on a sublime 45-minute sequence of “Golden Age > Caspian > Light,” the band not only met their level of creativity on display on night one, but in the course of a single jam, surpassed it. I’m not sure where “Light” might fall on a Top Ten all-time jams list, but one can be sure its on there! Phish seems to have found a new home out here in the Rockies, feeling comfortable to let loose and tap into the source on a nightly basis, and the results have been nothing short of astounding.

Official Dick’s Print – Green (Stout)

A recap of a show that opened with “Antelope” for the first time since 1990, and featured a significant “Tweezer” in the first set would presumably lead with the opening half. But on a night when Phish played one of the greatest jams I have ever witnessed, first things must come first. Even a staggering second-set-opening couplet of “Golden Age” and, arguably, the greatest “Caspian” ever played must wait, because on this night, “Light” stole the entire show. Since the beginning of 2012, no song has consistently broke new ground than the metaphysical anthem, but last night, Phish used the modern vehicle to showcase where they are, musically, right now—and that place is Shangri-La. It’s been ages since the band has played such emotionally moving music on a routine basis. The level of interplay and communication between band members, at this point, is dialed in to the point of subconscious, and when everything clicks, “Light” happens.

9.1.12 (M.Stein)

Fusing just about everything they do into a single, all-encompassing jam, Phish unveiled a timeless piece of music that floored everyone in the stadium. When the band dropped into their modern staple for the final time of summer with astonishing momentum, everyone know we were in for something special. The band had been locked into IT since they stepped afoot Dick’s stage, but this was something else altogether; this was Phish at the most supreme level. Flowing between feels—never stagnant, but seeing ideas to fruition—the guys held nothing back. At one point, as they were deep into the excursion and slaying IT like we’ve never seen, it felt like they might just continue jamming forever and we’d all just transcend together; our own 2012 arrival. The energy that moved between the stage and every one in the stadium was so tangible—as the late WWF announcer, Gorilla Monsoon once said, “You could cut it with a knife!” This jam—musically and metaphysically—realized the meaning of Phish. Soaring through the universe on a flawless soundtrack, everyone felt locked into IT; the entire experience grew into something far larger than the magical music pouring from stage. But the music is stuff of instant legend. Seductive groove? Check. Percussive wonderment? Check. Bliss? Check. Darkness? Check. Totally original music? Check. Fluid, full-band rock peak? Check. And on and on and on. Honestly, I’ve heard this four times already, and damn if not’s one of the greatest moments in the history of Phish.

9.1.2012 (M. Stein)

But before the band even started the jam, they provided all sorts of musical adventure in “Golden Age” and “Prince Caspian.” When Phish played “Golden Age” amidst a weekend that feels like a celebration of all they’ve accomplished in this era, the cover had never felt so poignant. Perhaps the guys felt similarly, because they tore off a torrid chunk of music upon splashing into the jam. Not settling in pure funk, but moving into a more driving groove, the band shifted into “effortless” territory, where the music seemed to flow through them more so than from them. Pushing into uncharted waters, one could feel how “on” the guys were, and it reflected in the cohesion of their improv. And while the band was feeling IT, why not drop an all-time “Prince Caspian” that quickly challenged, if not vaulted over, Albany ‘97’s sprawling version to claim top billing? When the band has the Hose turned on full blast within an exploration of “Prince Caspian” (!?), one knew something momentous was going down; anybody in that soccer stadium can attest.

9.1.12 (M.Stein)

Instead of ending the song, the guys built out of the grungy feel of “Caspian” and into a seething jam of Sith-Phish. Blanketed in effects and layers of sonic sorcery, the music turned to the dark side the band showed that bliss isn’t the only direction they can move these days. Blossoming into heavy metal-esque territory without losing a semblance of groove, the guys virtuoso jamming took on a life of its own in “Caspian,” growling in monstrous form and enveloping the entire crowd. Sounding as if they might jam back into “Tweezer,” the band, instead, turned for the “Light,” and the rest is history.

Phish cooled down from this monstrous stretch of improv with a string of crowd favorites in “Boogie On,” “The Wedge,” and “Horse > Silent,” before dropping a “Mike’s Song” that few, if anyone, saw coming. Using Led Zeppelin’s “No Quarter” to bridge the “Groove,” the surprises kept coming in a weekend that is growing in stature with each passing set. And for that matter, let’s peak at the first.

9.1.2012 (Graham Lucas)

When Phish fired up the Denver crowd by opening the show with “Run Like an Antelope” for the first time since January 26, 1990, the set immediately continued surprise vibe left by Friday night’s face-fucking. And another unexpected twist came when the guys unfolded a multi-tiered “Tweezer”—Leg Two’s “Comeback Player of Tour”—that finished its season in style. Building a village of groove, the band started the jam with smooth rhythmic interplay that set a lampin’ tone early on. Sitting within this musical molasses for some time before  Trey’s took a solo, the band seemed on the brink of ending a solid first setter when they jammed right through the end of the song into a couple minutes of ambient-groove denouement. Filling the rest of the set with spicy renditions of well-selected songs, the band slammed down an action-packed opening frame that set the table for the musical drama to follow.

Phish can do no wrong right now, dropping into stunning jams at any time they choose. Locked in a Jordanian musical zone as they come to the close of Summer Tour, the guys are letting things hang out in their final shows until New Year’s Run. With one more to savor before we break for a while, the band is on top of the world, and they’ve brought all of us along.

I: Run Like an Antelope, Backwards Down the Number Line, Tweezer > Fluffhead, Roses Are Free, Funky Bitch, The Moma Dance, When the Circus Comes, Theme From the Bottom > Golgi Apparatus, Stealing Time From the Faulty Plan

II: Golden Age > Prince Caspian > Light, Boogie On Reggae Woman, The Wedge, The Horse > Silent in the Morning, Mike’s Song > No Quarter > Weekapaug Groove

E: Sleeping Monkey > Tweezer Reprise

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FUCK’d

Posted in Uncategorized with the tags , , on September 1st, 2012 by Mr.Miner

8.31.2012 Commerce City, CO (Graham Lucas)

When Phish dropped “You Enjoy Myself” halfway through the first set, albeit a surprise, it felt totally out of place. They had just slayed an extended “Carini” that immediately vaulted into the elite versions of all time, and all of a sudden we were headed for a vocal jam? Nonetheless, Phish was on fire and throwing IT down. Halfway through “Ocelot,” my friend told me a theory someone had just hatched: the band was spelling “Fuck Your Face” with the first letter of each song. My first reaction was, “Really? Yeah, right.” Then we quickly went through the setlist—“First Tube,” “Uncle Pen,” “Carini,” “YEM,” Ocelot.” Really!? It seemed like a brilliant idea—referencing the “S” set from the first night at Dick’s last year—and I immediately believed. If the band played “Undermind” next, it was clearly going down. And boy did they ever play “Undermind!” Closing the first set with a staggering piece of cathartic improvisation, Phish wrote last night’s “Undermind” into the record books. With an uplifting piece of utter bliss, the band stamped a divine exclamation point on one of the best first sets of all time—and the setlist spelled “F.U.C.K.Y.O.U.”

Official Colorado Print—Blue (T.Stout)

It was one of those magical nights that only happen in Gamehendge; one of those shows that we will never forget; one that will live in legend forever. Drenched with jamming of the highest level—including two excursions in “Undermind” and “Chalk Dust” that easily flirt with the loftiest jams in band history—the first night at Dick’s 2012 contained more masterful improvisation than several “normal” shows combined. The guys were as thrilled to be in Colorado as much as we were, illustrated by their “Phish Love Dick’s” vocal jam in “YEM.” Trey was notably on from his solo in “First Tube,” and he played as well he ever has all night long. The entire band swam in IT throughout the show, cranking out mystical, uplifting music for the duration. Following a late-summer trend of bliss jams, the band added two of their best to date last night with “Undermind” and—easily— the greatest “Chalk Dust” ever played. Phish feels great these days, as Trey admitted openly on Denver’s KBCO yesterday morning, and that feeling is permeating their music. With every jam last night, Phish reached points of rapture and exhilaration, sculpting their most spiritually significant night of music in memory.

8.31.12 (G.Lucas)

At setbreak, everyone hypothesized how the band would spell “R.F.A.C.E.” in the second half. My call was “Rock and Roll > Free, Crosseyed > Esther,” but I wound up going 0-4 in my guesses, which was all part of the face-fucking theme of the evening. Starting out the set with the first long-form “Runaway Jim” since Miami ’03 (but that was slop, so really, the E Center on 7.3.2000), the band dropped an exploratory epic that touched on incredibly diverse feels from wah-clav ’97 dance-funk to ambient, etheral realms. About halfway through, the band “reset” the jam into groove, and from that point out, it only grew in grandeur. Reaching several remarkable planes, the guys continued to gravitate towards the euphoric at every opportunity. An exploration that likened the old days, but with the music of Phish 2012, this one couldn’t have been a bigger surprise. After playing “Farmhouse,” however, Phish set up the prank of the night.

8.31.12 (G.Lucas)

Building a several minute ambient intro, it was all but clear that “Also Sprach Zarathustra”—better known as “2001”—would be the next song. But throwing a left hook that nobody saw coming, the band dropped into “Alaska!” Causing a collective groan from much of the audience, the fake out was an incredibly Phishy maneuver. It soon became part of the joke—the band played the best show of the year with “Farmhouse” and “Alaska” in the middle of the second set! When the guys kicked into “Chalk Dust” for “C,” they simply unveiled the best version of all-time. If you love Phish, and you love inspired guitar playing from one, Trey Anastasio, this jam is as good as it gets. Connecting on every level—another theme of the night—the band improvised out of the end of the song and into heaven. Combined with “Undermind,” these two pieces have instantly earned plaques in the Hall of Fame that are being chiseled as I type. This music was the stuff of dreams. Highlighted by four magnificent jams—totaling a ludicrous 68 minutes of top-shelf Phish—the band’s music spoke for itself last night; an aural revelation of the highest degree. And the face-fucking wasn’t over.

8.31.2012 (Graham Lucas)

At setbreak, the only song anyone could think of that started with “E” was “Esther”—an odd closer, but what else could they play? As fans were catching their breath from an intergalactic “Chalk Dust,” the guys started the Rolling Stones “Emotional Rescue” for the first time since September 30, 2000! After spelling it out, the band closed the set with “Fuck Your Face,” a song that I thought would be the encore. But Phish came out to a with a double encore of “Grind” and “Meatstick,” a pairing that put a comical twist on the theme of the night.

A combination of the mountain air, the great energy of the crowd and the end of a spectacular summer converged to cause a musical bolt of lighting last night in Colorado. And nobody can wait to get back into that soccer stadium tomorrow night! This has been a special year for Phish, and they are capping it with their most impressive playing of the season. It has been a blessing to watch the band climb back to prominence since 2009, and to see them reaching new heights, never previously touched, is the greatest reward one could ever ask for.

I: First Tube, Uncle Pen, Carini, Kill Devil Falls, You Enjoy Myself, Ocelot, Undermind

II: Runaway Jim > Farmhouse > Alaska, Chalk Dust Torture, Emotional Rescue > Fuck Your Face

Encore: Grind, Meatstick

8.31.2012 (Graham Lucas)

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OK in OKC

Posted in Uncategorized with the tags , on August 30th, 2012 by Mr.Miner

8.29.2012 – Oklahoma City, OK (Ryan MacNeill)

In Phish’s first-ever visit to Oklahoma, the band delivered a setlist-driven show, featuring many of their most popular jam vehicles, but only allowing a couple to fully develop. “Disease” and “Twist” provided the improvisational highlights of the second set, but “Rock and Roll” and “Light” each felt prematurely ended before they got going. Without putting together a stunning jam sequence, the band’s highlights came in spurts last night in a show that was certainly well-played, but fell well short of cohesion.

Official OKC Print (D.Milward)

A patient, quasi-ambient “Twist” that touched the divine provided the improvisational gem of the show, while the second set-opening “Disease” saw the band sculpt a lengthy piece of multi-faceted jamming. When this high-quality “Disease” opened the set, drenched with delay and other textural effects, it felt like the band might be crafting one of their Leg Two “One-Two” punches, but instead, they backed up the exploratory jaunt with a pinner-sized “Birds of a Feather.” “My Friend” did nothing to pick up the set, but when the band dropped into “Rock and Roll,” one had to things were about to get wild in Oklahoma. Following 2012 highlights in Long Beach and Alabama, a third monstrosity from the Velvet Underground cover felt imminent. Before the jam grew legs, however, the band wound down for “Twist.” Within “Twist, the guys seemed to exhale and let go, crafting a fully developed jam and a piece must-hear piece of bliss-Phish.

8.29.12 (R.MacNeill)

The choppy feel of the night continued with a randomly placed “If I Could” followed by a late-set “Light,” which barely broke form. For the second consecutive time, the band’s modern juggernaut headed home with no original ground covered. And when the band turned the corner for “Harry Hood,” the show felt all but over. Splashing into the jam, Trey hit on a plinko lead that seemed to encourage his mates into adventurous full-band playing, but before long, he fell back on more traditional “Hood” playing that kept the jam contained, though still quite good.

8.29.12 (R.MacNeill)

Following one of their strongest performances of the summer in St. Louis on Tuesday, Phish crossed state borders and dropped a fairly average show in Oklahoma City, leaving the nation of fans descending upon Commerce City this weekend sporting sheepish grins as they board planes for the mountains. As we turn to summer’s final trifecta in Colorado, the band has a clean slate of songs from which to choose, and will certainly treat the three-pack as its own entity. Culminating a quick, but magnificent, second leg of summer tour, Colorado has never seemed more inviting. All these different states and new venues have been fun for the diversity of experience, but I’m ready to hit a comfort zone again. I look forward to seeing everyone on the massive GA field in the Rockies to end the summer in style!

Set One Notes: A well-played, though fairly generic, opening frame was highlighted by a plinkofied “Wolfman’s Brother” and a sunset rendition of “Divided Sky”—only its second appearance of summer. “46 Days” carried an extra groove sensibility as it did the last time out, but everything else was played quite modestly.

I: Kill Devil Falls, Rift, Wilson > Backwards Down the Number Line, The Moma Dance, Divided Sky,Wolfman’s Brother, Axilla, 46 Days, Ya Mar, Stealing Time From the Faulty Plan, Run Like an Antelope

II: Down with Disease > Birds of a Feather, My Friend, My Friend,  Rock and Roll > Twist, If I Could, Light >Harry Hood, Character Zero, Suzy Greenberg

E: Slave to the Traffic Light, Loving Cup

8.29.2012 – Oklahoma City, OK (Ryan MacNeill)

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The Spirit of St. Louis

Posted in Uncategorized with the tags , , on August 29th, 2012 by Mr.Miner

8.28.2012 – Chaifetz Arena (Jeremy Renda)

The first time stepping indoors after Bill Graham’s now-legendary third show, Phish unveiled the most impressive night of music since their memorable visit to San Francisco. Weaving a seamless second set—less one bumpy segue—the band bathed in creative improvisation all night long. If Charlotte illustrated the strength of show that Phish can drop while remaining, largely, inside the box, St. Louis showcased the magnificent places they can go when breaking down boundaries at every turn. Bringing almost every song into open-waters, and jumping into the deep with a centerpiece voyage of “Limb by Limb,” the band oozed original music in a must-hear show for all fans.  Finishing strong with the mighty combination of “2001 > You Enjoy Myself,” there were no issues with the back third of this set, in fact, there were no issues throughout the entire show, as Phish dropped the second instant-classic of Leg Two.

“Punch” 8.28.12 (R.MacNeill)

The action in St. Louis, however, hardly started in the second set. Kicking off the evening with the first Leg Two appearance of “Punch You in the Eye, the guys seemed as amped as the crowd for the indoor environs of Chaifetz Arena. A tight “Runaway Jim” set the table or the two jams of the set—“Ocelot” and “Reba.” “Ocelot” seems to be growing in prowess with each version and, though I haven’t listened back to the show due to an impending flight to Oklahoma City, last night’s rendition may just take the cake. Upon the conclusion of the dramatic take, Phish rolled right into the second “Reba” of tour—and, boy, was it a keeper. Boasting multiple peaks within a delicate exchange, this version had the venue pulsing. With such dynamic jamming so early in the night, the show elevated right almost immediately, and then the rarities started to roll. “The Curtain,” “Peaches,” “The Sloth” and “Camel Walk” all made their Leg Two debuts in a first set that benefited from stellar song selection. Earlier in the day, a buddy and I were talking about using “Curtain” sans “With” as a launch pad—as they did in former eras—and sure enough, hours later, as they were on the verge of dripping into “With,” Fish revved the drum roll intro to “Peaches!” Funny how that works sometimes—and what a one-two punch. Closing an enthralling first set with “Possum” and “Quinn,” things were primed for take off after the break.

8.28.2012 (Ryan MacNeill)

I love when Phish takes a random array of songs and sculpts them into a set of mastery. On paper, one might look at last night’s second set and not freak out, but just wait until they listen to the music! Starting with “Chalk Dust,” the band played an all-but seamless sequence that ended with “Walk Away” 45 minutes later. Breaking down the boundaries of “Chalk Dust,” “Frankie Says,” and “Undermind,” the band dove into open improv in each selection, connecting one piece to another with a creative jam and seamless segue. From the minute the band didn’t finish “Chalk Dust,” this set kept one on his toes with original jamming, airtight interplay, and surprisingly smooth transitions throughout. At home in the unknown, the band showed no inhibitions, carving out nuggets gold over the set-opening sequence. Navigating this long stretch with confidence and musical acumen, the band landed their opening foursome in a monstrous “Sand” that lit the dance floor afire. And just when you thought the guys had inked the exclamation point on this non-stop offering, on the fly, they slipped into a phenomenal version of “Walk Away” that imploded the arena.

Official St. Louis Print (A.Vastagh)

When the band started “Limb by Limb” after such extensive jamming, any rational fan had to think it would be a cool down in the middle of the set. Phish, however, upended the entire audience as they took “Limb” on its most fantastic voyage since December 3, 1999, in Cincinnati. Exploding into the stratosphere out of the usually contained song, the band unveiled the centerpiece of the night with an exploratory epic that left jaws firmly rested on the arena floor. Trey brought the multi-tiered jam to a scintillating peak before turning the ship back to shore in a jam that immediately jumped onto the top-shelf of summer highlights.

8.28.12 (R.MacNeill)

The buffer that everybody expected from “Limb” came next in a rousing “Julius” that did nothing whatsoever to slow down the set. And as the final chords of the song hit, the opening ambiance of “2001” graced the indoor air. The intensity of the dance anthem was palpably increased in the concrete surroundings, as the band had their sights set on a strong finale. And there was no other choice to finish such a magnificent night of Phish than “You Enjoy Myself.” Not seen since the end of Bill Graham’s third show, the band played a far more upbeat and cathartic version to end this one. In their tightest second set of the summer, Phish left no room for relaxation during St. Louis’ main event. A show that seemed destined to blow up—indoors on a Tuesday in a small Midwestern arena—did exactly that. With no filler of any kind, last night’s second set has immediately risen into the crème de la creme of 2012.

In the aftermath of Bill Graham’s finale, everybody wondered if Phish would put on another performance of that caliber this summer. Well, they just did.

I: Punch You In the Eye, Runaway Jim, Ocelot, Reba, I Didn’t Know, The Curtain > Peaches en Regalia, Mound, Sample in a Jar, The Sloth, Camel Walk, Possum, Quinn the Eskimo

II: Chalk Dust Torture -> Frankie Says -> Undermind -> Sand -> Walk Away, Limb By Limb, Julius, Also Sprach Zarathustra > You Enjoy Myself

E: Shine a Light

8.28.2012 – Chaifetz Arena (Jeremy Renda)

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Carolina Completely

Posted in Uncategorized with the tags , on August 27th, 2012 by Mr.Miner

8.26.2012 Charlotte, NC (Ryan MacNeill)

It is rare that Phish unveils a complete performance that flows flawlessly from the very first note through the last; two full sets constructed in such fashion that the band never, for even a moment, loses the full attention of their audience. On Sunday night, however, Phish had the Charlotte’s crowd enraptured and in the palm of their hand for the entirety of the show in which there was—literally—not a dull moment.

Official Charlotte Print (M.Huynh)

First sets are so contingent upon song selection these days, and last night the band sculpted an opening stanza that worked as well as any this tour. The conventional opening pairing of “Bag” and “Moma” gave way to a series of songs that all possessed a little something extra. For the second straight version, Trey allowed Page to take the lead on piano during “Heavy Things” before taking his own solo, providing the song an added punch. “Ocelot” featured  incredibly smooth playing from Trey, who had his chops flowing all night long. Even “Funky Bitch” brought the house down with more fiery interplay that usual. But when the guys kicked into “Bathtub Gin,” the set moved onto another level for the duration.

Trey’s showcased staggering runs of notes and quick-fire licks during a scalding tub of “Gin.” This high-speed jam brought a rush of energy to the set, a cathartic cascade that continued with a precise and passionate mid-set “Fluffhead.” Pulling “Alumni Blues” off the shelf for the first time this leg, Trey followed the quasi-bustout with hilarious banter about their college days. Trey shared the well-known story of how Page received $50 a head for “recruiting” he and Fish to Goddard College—a tiny and excessively liberal institution in Plainfield,Vermont. A short “Tube,” also dating back to their college days, was followed by more comical banter that led into“My Sweet One.” A delicate and driving “Bowie” capped the set with a palpable intensity, and upon the song’s final hits, the guys received an ovation as if it was the end of the show. But with the band locked in, things were only heating up.

8.26.12 (R.MacNeill)

Though centered around a melody-driven and blissful “Tweezer,” this set was as much about craftsmanship, flow and shredtastic playing as anything. With no lulls or run of late-set singles, Charlotte’s main event was comprised of Phish anthems back to back to back. When “Crosseyed” started, memories immediately turned to last Sunday’s night of instant fame at Bill Graham, but the band wouldn’t take this version for nearly the ride it took out west. Jamming around the theme of “Crosseyed,” Trey ventured into infectious soloing that seemed to be bringing the band into something deeper. But instead of pushing the boundaries of the piece, the guys, turned to another rarity, the Gamehendge tale of “McGrupp.” Page and Trey locked into each other during the “jam,” giving the piece added gusto.

When “Mike’s Song” was followed by “Bouncin” and “Axilla,” the energy of the show remained high, but the improv factor felt quite lite. And then “Tweezer” dropped. Just as the classic jam was growing stale over Leg One, the band came out this tour and fully reinvigorated the crowd favorite. Last night they dropped their third, consecutive version drenched in creative playing. And for the second time in a row, the band took the jam on a silken journey through skies of gold. Placing a magnifying glass on mellifluous interplay, Phish sculpted a piece that spoke to the soul. Trey and Mike’s minimalist and Siamese-minded conversation gave room for Page to bring the Rhodes into the mix, enhancing the buttery feel of the feel-good groove. But when Page moved back to piano, Trey’s playing took off into the register of the divine. As he emoted waterfall-like melodies of majesty, the band maintained a bulbous groove around him, allowing him to slowly back into a space-laced, effect-laden paradise. Taking the arena by the heartstrings, Red swooped in for a final peak before the jam subsided and Fishman started “Harry Hood.”

8.26.12 (R.MacNeill)

There are not two songs more sacred to the band’s catalog than “Tweezer” and “Harry Hood.” On opposite sides of the musical spectrum, together, they form the yin and yang of Phish. Combined in this fashion—”Tweezer > Hood”—only once before, on May 15, 1990 in Hamilton, New York, the merger of these two epics was nothing short of revelatory. Swimming from the jam of the night into a meticulous rendition of their early opus, the journey of “Tweezer > Hood” provided the most dramatic sequence of the night. Like many 2012 “Hoods,” Trey’s solo picked up right from the drop of the jam and twisted and turned with meaning for the duration. Though ending somewhat quickly without a monstrous peak, the entire”Hood” jam was used as an arrival for “Tweezer,” and it worked magically.

8.26.12 (R.MacNeill)

The upbeat combo of “Weekapaug” and “Suzy” concluded a set that never relented. Trey showcased his razor sharp thematic playing in the former, while providing extra juice to the latter with “Crosseyed” teases, as it sounded like the band might break back into the cover. And the action kept right on moving through the encore with the bustout of “Big Black Furry Creatures From Mars”—complete with antics—and “Tweezer Reprise.” Not often does Phish play a show without daring risk taking yet succeed so resoundingly as they did last night. Although Alabama possessed the gem of the weekend in “Rock and Roll,” and, arguably, even the set of the south, Charlotte provided the strongest start to finish experience of the three-pack. If you have time today, don’t worry about that “skip” button on your iPod, just hit play at the top of set one and let this one roll. You won’t be disappointed.

I: AC/DC Bag > The Moma Dance > Heavy Things, Ocelot, Funky Bitch, Bathtub Gin, Fluffhead, Alumni Blues > Letter to Jimmy Page > Alumni Blues, Tube, My Sweet One, David Bowie

II: Crosseyed and Painless > McGrupp and the Watchful Hosemasters,  Mike’s Song> Bouncing Around the Room, Axilla > Tweezer > Harry Hood,  The Horse > Silent in the Morning, Weekapaug Groove, Suzy Greenberg

E: Big Black Furry Creature from Mars, Tweezer Reprise

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Golden Dust

Posted in Uncategorized with the tags , on August 26th, 2012 by Mr.Miner

8.25.12 Lakewood Amphitheatre (Ryan MacNeill)

Historically, Lakewood Amphitheatre has been the site of legendary Phish shows. From the band’s first visit in ’97, featuring a monumental “Ghost,” to July 4th’s instant classic in ’99, and from the underrated two-pack in 2000 to ‘03’s smoking stop, Atlanta’s south side shed has almost always hosted shows of gold throughout its past. But last night, not so much. With two solid but unspectacular sets, the show never really hit full stride, though its highlights were certainly significant. Steering clear of any long-form improvisation—a facet of the second set that has become almost a given over Leg Two—the band, instead, shone through two more compact jams in “Golden Age” and “Chalk Dust > What’s the Use?” Interestingly, both Saturday night shows of Leg Two have produced the band’s spottiest efforts, but even on the nights that don’t form a total package in 2012, Phish still manages to crank out spectacular nuggets of music.

Official Atlanta Print (M.Davis)

The band opened the second set with an extended and laid-back take on “Kill Devil Falls” that flirted with breaking form for a few minutes, but never made it outside the box. But when then band dropped “Golden Age” for the second time this tour, one of highlights of the show emerged. Slaughtering the dance floor with exercise in robo-funk, Phish launched into a hard-edged groove fiesta. With playing intricate yet driving rhythms that were textured yet thick as molasses, the band crafted one of their most impressive groove-based throw-downs of summer. Backed by tripped out loops and effects, and anchored by Mike’s envelope-filtered leads, this jam transcended rhythmic interplay, eventually entering a demented realm of storage-laced psychedelia. Certainly the best “Golden Age” we’ve heard since Jones Beach, it was nice to see the band bring an improvisational focus back to the song.

Landing in “Free,” the guys were sitting on the precipice of a huge set, and when “Light” started, it seemed like a forgone conclusion that we’d have another jam to write home about. But for the first time in 2012, “Light” fell completely flat. Disconnected and meandering throughout, the band never locked up in what has become a virtually bankable jam, thus when they dissolved into “Velvet Sea,” the combination created a discernible lull of creativity.

8.25.12 (Ryan MacNeill)

When the guys revved up a late-set “Chalkdust,” it seemed like an odd call for that point in the show, but once the jam got going, the second highlight of night blossomed out of nowhere. A fast-paced jam turned into something far more interesting when Mike, then Trey, started soloing in a more feel-good tone, and the whole band jumped on the idea immediately. Resembling the famous Camden “Chalk Dust” of 7.10.99, Trey took his playing into a completely uplifting feel as the band smashed through the boundaries of the song ‘s structure. Hitting a staccato melody that was so smooth it sounded composed, Trey let loose as Page stuck right with him the entire time. Nobody’s offerings’ went unappreciated in this one, as all four members assumed joint leadership of this stellar excursion. Slowing into an ambient ending, the band made a drone and washy transition into “What’s the Use?” Pairing two songs that couldn’t be more dissimilar, once again Phish showcased their modern proclivity to cover all sorts of ground in a short amount of time. A notably laid-back, though somewhat botched, version of “What’s the Use?” blanketed the amphitheatre with its post-apocalyptic soundscape.

8.25.12 (R.MacNeill)

Rounding out the set with “Joy” and a hotter-than-usual “Antelope,” the guys closed the night with a final bang. Some Phish shows elevate into a cohesive night of music, while others remain more disjointed and highlight-based. And though Lakewood’s performance was one of the latter, there are certainly two jams in the show that every fan must hear right away. Check ‘em out today, because I suspect tonight’s performance in Charlotte will jump right over Atlanta’s on everyone’s Monday morning playlist. Only time will tell…

First Set Notes: The first set started with a whale of momentum with quality versions of “Cars, Trucks, Buses,” “Wolfman’s,” “Runaway Jim” and “Ya Mar.” But when Trey called for a mid-set combo of “Alaska” and “My Soul,” he halted any energy the set had built on the front end. A hot “Maze” was the only notable piece for the rest of the set that fizzled significantly in song selection.

I: Cars Trucks Buses, Wolfman’s Brother, Runaway Jim, Ya Mar, Alaska, My Soul, Wilson, Maze, Roses Are Free, Backwards Down the Number Line, Character Zero

II: Kill Devil Falls, Golden Age > Free, Light > Wading in the Velvet Sea, Chalk Dust Torture > What’s the Use?, Joy, Run Like an Antelope

E: A Day in the Life

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Phishin’ the Heart of Dixie

Posted in Uncategorized with the tags , , on August 25th, 2012 by Mr.Miner

8.24.2012 – Oak Mountain (Ryan MacNeill)

Phish greeted Oak Mountain in Pelham, Alabama—a venue and part of the country they hadn’t visited in 13 years—with a scorching show whose improvisational focus lied squarely in the second set. An other-wordly “Rock and Roll” provided, perhaps, the jam of tour on an ever-expanding highlight reel of monstrous second-leg excursions. At this point, Phish is dropping jams of depth and length on a nightly basis that they haven’t dared touch in this era, and the spiritual heights these pieces are reaching is, straight up, astounding. After such extended cosmic jaunts, the rest of any second set becomes musical gravy, but last night’s had plenty of meat to back up the centerpiece jam. Nobody knew what to expect when Phish dipped into Alabama, but we came out with yet another massive win for the home team.

8.24.12 (R.MacNeill)

When the band started “Rock and Roll” to spark the second set, one knew things were about to get crazy, and following Long Beach’s opening night odyssey, the sky was the limit. But where Long Beach’s version morphed between themes in a sprawling piece of improv, last night’s “Rock and Roll” provided a far more cohesive journey that elevated into heavenly Phish space. As the band was locked and crushing within a high-speed chase, Trey dipped into his murky, uncompressed tone, urging them, momentarily, into a slower texture. After popping back into full tempo, the band gradually broke the jam down into half-time, and into a one of the most stunning passages of music we’ve heard this tour. The guys bled into a medium pace in which they rarely sit in for long, but on this night, decided to stick with, and the jam absolutely took off. Slaying heart-wrenching leads, Trey played some of his most emotional guitar of tour, all within an elevating soundscape that epitomized communication at the highest level. Winding up in a land beyond bliss and imagination, the guys played music of which we dream. The words “beautiful” and “gorgeous” liken insults to the sounds that graced the Alabama air last night, forming a must-hear jam for any lover of music or life, at all. It’s that good.

Official Oak Mountain Print (J.Flames)

Dripping out of this journey, the band landed in “Lizards,” continuing the soothing path of the previous jam and providing a perfect landing pad for the astronomical journey. The next segment of the set started with “Halley’s Comet,” the ever-present spark plug that led into the second “Sand” of tour, and the first featured in the main event. Diving directly into his gnarly post-hiatus tone, Trey dug into the murk to start this version. Building a menacing sound scape, Trey kept this version guitar-centric, but his seething leads made that no issue at all. Playing for all his might, Red let things loose while the rest of the guys provided a backdrop. A six-string showcase to behold, this “Sand” popped with all sorts of aggression, and was a massive welcome home to the second set juggernaut after a stellar opening leg of summer.

8.24.12 (R.MacNeill)

After peaking “Sand,” however, Trey didn’t bring the song back around, instead, opting to lead the band into an abstract storage sequence that provided an ethereal denouement to the heat-seeking piece. Layering and looping, the band built a seamless sonic bridge into “Twist.” Splashing into “Twist’s” jam, Phish toyed with the theme of Santana’s “Oye Como Va,” giving a nod to the eternal similarity of the two songs. But when the piece truly started to go places, Trey decided to, suddenly, lop it off with the into to “Birds of a Feather.”

The back third of the set has been a slot for songs during 2012, a puzzling development, but one that has proven almost clockwork in even the best of sets. Last night, the band played “Birds,” Boogie,” and a quality pairing of “2001 > Waste,” thus, this segment didn’t drag much at all. And to close it out, Phish unveiled a patient, whole-band “Slave” that capped a predominantly dark set with a grandiose peak. A version that stood out immediately, this was the perfect call to end the night. Bowing to a roaring ovation, Phish had come back to Oak Mountain with quite a statement, and as they walked off stage and on to Atlanta, I’m sure everyone could agree.

First Set Notes: In a well-played first set, the band served the Alabama audience a smorgasbord of Southern-tinged Phish songs. From the “Possum” opener to “Timber,” and from “Back on the Train” to “Gumbo,” if the song had a southern reference or musical flavor, they busted it out in the opening frame. And appreciating set and setting, everything was delivered just right. In addition, the band threw in straight-forward, though scintillating “Disease,” “The Wedge,” and a version of “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” that Trey shredded to smithereens. Musically speaking, bump “Timber,” “Disease” and “Guitar Gently Weeps” to the front of your first set playlist.

8.24.2012 (Ryan MacNeill)

I. Possum, Cities, Sample in a Jar, Timber, Back on the Train, Lawn Boy, Down with Disease, Gumbo, Ginseng Sullivan, The Wedge, Julius > Cavern, While My Guitar Gently Weeps

II: Rock and Roll > The Lizards, Halley’s Comet > Sand > Twist > Birds of a Feather, Boogie On Reggae Woman > Also Sprach Zarathustra > Waste, Slave to the Traffic Light

E: Good Times Bad Times

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A Wondrous Glow

Posted in Uncategorized with the tags , , on August 24th, 2012 by Mr.Miner

8.19.2012 – Bill Graham Civic Auditorium (Ken Scelfo)

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Starlight Express

Posted in Uncategorized with the tags , on August 23rd, 2012 by Mr.Miner

8.22.12 – Starlight Theatre (Ryan MacNeill)

Phish entered the Heartland, hot off a spectacular run in the Bay, and kept things chugging right along with a smoking two setter in one of the coolest venues they have ever visited. Starlight Theatre carries a distinctly medieval vibe, crafted in brick with castle-like towers on each side of the stage. And between those two towers, Phish did work last night, throwing down two beefy sets of music with highlights galore.

Official KC Print (S.R.Ho/Us & Them)

From the show-opening “Chalk Dust”—a jam that got far more intense than most recent lead-offs—it was clear that the band meant business, and when they followed it up with the return of “Skin It Back” for the first time since Jones Beach, they left little doubt. Passing through “Moma” and “Rift,” the first set came to an undeniable peak with the pairing of “Bathtub Gin” and “Stash.” Trey got loose in “Bathtub,” showcasing licks of delicacy and fire while the band built a climbing canvas around him. Remaining within the confines of the song, the guys sculpted a blistering rendition that brought all four players fully into the mix. And if “Gin” brought the upbeat vibe to the first set pairing, “Stash” most definitely brought the darkness. Flipping the demonic jam on end, Trey, Page and Mike converged on a harmonic shift, bringing “Stash” into major-key wonderland while remaining charted for the jam’s peak. Dipping in and out of this feel a couple times, the band built a uniquely contoured jam that popped off the stage with a zest rarely seen from the first set staple. Dropping a must-hear excursion before halftime, the band raised the ante of an increasingly engaging first set plot line. The summer debut of “The Ballad of Curtis Loew” came in a perfectly slot, backing up a slew of improv. Punchy versions of “Kill Devil Falls” and “Funky Bitch” set up a notably laid-back, full-band “Antelope” that finished a stellar frame in style.

8.22.12 (R.MacNeill)

“Tweezer” has been an enigma for much of this year, as Phish has kept their classic launchpad, more or less, inside the box. But that all changed in colossal fashion last night, as they graced the evening with an exploratory escapade steeped in bliss and majesty. In the Phish universe, there’s nothing quite like a second-set-opening “Tweezer” and last night, the band unveiled their most prolific of this era. The guys spent no time in conventional territory, exiting stage left immediately into a floating, melody-anchored experimental tale. Taking things slow and methodically, the band instantly stepped into paradise, and proceeded down that path for the duration, sinfully dropping in and out of “Tweezer’s” groove like bandits. Trey laid way back, playing only the most tasteful notes, as Mike offered super creative leads that dictated the tone for much of the piece. Sailing on a magic carpet ride through jaw-dropping planes of euphoric melody, the band flowed effortlessly while exploring transcendent music for an extended period of time. And as they reached the top, Trey brought it home with a soul-crushing peak that will leave anyone blithering in joy. Climbing down the backside of the jam with a more ambient-laced sequence, the guys dripped right into “Piper.”

8.22.12 (R.MacNeill)

Combining two of their most significant vehicles, the band soared into a locked and intense “Piper” jam that provided a dark juxtaposition to “Tweezer’s” magnificent light. Shredding a high-octane collaboration, Phish broke things down into furious percussive textures before dripping into spacier, though still directed playing.  This jam covered an immense amount of musical ground with airtight interplay, though it seemed to end a bit suddenly for “Mike’s Song.” The second rousing rendition of “Mike’s” in a row opened the door for the first mellower combo of the set in “Bouncin’” and a well-played “Number Line.” It seemed that “Heavy Things” might continue this trend, but the piece possessed additional vigor as Page took an extended solo while Trey comped him with uncharacteristic rhythm chops. Gracefully taking the reins, Red then took his solo, bringing the song back around and landing in a heart-wrenching version of “If I Could.”

8.22.12 (R.MacNeill)

Just as the set needed another dose of action, Mike started up a ridiculous version of “Weekapaug” that sounded plucked from the depths of Fall ’97. Hard funk was the name of the game in this outstanding jam that certainly deserves a nod as a show highlight. Riding the crest of “Weekapaug,” Phish dropped a second-straight standout “Harry Hood” that starting in a quasi-plinko realm and migrated into an intense, old-school feel with Trey playing for keeps. “Suzy” stamped the set complete, and the second show in a row ended with “Tweezer Reprise!”

Phish left their mark on Starlight Amphithetre, playing a  in their first visit to Kansas City area since 2000. Every single song seemed to include something special last night, with barely a lull in the show. And as we look ahead to a hotly anticipated run through the deep South, things couldn’t look better in the world of Phish. See ya’ll in Alabama!

I: Chalk Dust Torture, Skin It Back, The Moma Dance, Rift, Bathtub Gin, Stash, The Ballad of Curtis Loew, Kill Devil Falls, Funky Bitch, Run Like an Antelope

II: Tweezer > Piper > Mike’s Song, Bouncing Around the Room, Backwards Down the Number Line, Heavy Things, If I Could, Weekapaug Groove, Harry Hood > Suzy Greenberg

E: Loving Cup > Tweezer Reprise

8.22.12 (Ryan MacNeill)

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