A Spectacle On the Shore

Posted in Uncategorized with the tags , , on November 2nd, 2013 by Mr.Miner
10.31.13 (Andrea Nusinov)

10.31.13 (Andrea Nusinov)

On Friday night in Atlantic City, Phish was at it again. Playing a scalding hot show to follow up Halloween, the band laid it all on the table with a performance defined by a thirty-year confidence and improvisational swagger. On Fall Tour of their 30th Anniversary year, the guys have synced up like never before, playing jams that are plucked from our dreams, and on this night, they dropped a “Twist” for the ages that we will be listening to for the rest of our lives. While the second set opener was certainly the centerpiece of the night, the show was rock solid through both sets, only suffering a minor song-based lull deep in the second. But even these late-set songs popped in a show where Phish slayed every single piece they touched from the first note through the encore—another precious night of music on a Fall Tour that is quickly making history.

11/1 Official (D.Mumford)

11/1 Official (D.Mumford)

One might have understood if the guys had come out with a mellow set after their marathon holiday show, but in fact the opposite happened—they came out en fuego. Kicking off a night with “Cavern,” an unsuspectingly great show opener, Phish sounded like they had never left the stage. The band picked up just where they had left off the night before, and laid into a second-song “Runaway Jim,” in which the guys got funky early on. In the bridge of the song, the band broke down the typically quiet section into a filthy groove, and Trey stepped to the mic with the lyrics from the theme of  “Shaft!” Shit was getting dirty and it was only the show’s second song. It was at this juncture that we all knew we were in for another quintessential night of Phish. The band then confirmed this notion by dropping a third-song “Sand!”

Usually when Phish plays “Sand” in the first set, it remains fairly succinct and to the point, but this one would be an aberration from the norm. Stretching out the piece into a scintillating groove fiesta that—momentarily—sounded like it might pop out of form, the band was letting loose on this opening frame with playing that sounded like it belonged after setbreak. Both “Halfway to the Moon” and “Halley’s Comet” were performed with authority, as Trey explained that the former would likely be a track on next year’s album. The band moved into their second consecutive throwdown out of “Halley’s Comet” (the last being Hartford’s “2001”), with a ferocious “Tube” that kept the energy of the room sky high.

10.31.13 (J.Silco)

10.31.13 (J.Silco)

The band nodded to its hot first set by playing Los Lobos’ “When the Circus Comes,” a song generally reserved for cooling down after particularly smoking interplay. Bustouts of “Sugar Shack” and “Jesus Left Chicago” preceded a superb “David Bowie” that served at the opening course’s final touch—and what a start it was!

But—Jesus Christ in the foothills—the “Twist” that opened the second set was simply out of this universe. The level of connection and communication displayed by Trey, Mike, Page and Fish was pushed to another dimension as they wove a majestic tale that leapt—immediately (as in before the set ended)—into the annals of Phish history. Like Jordan or LeBron, Phish has routinely transformed their weaknesses into strengths, and after “Twist” had fallen off the improvisational radar in the modern era, the band has brought the song back with a fury on this fall tour. On this night, they wove a quasi-medley of teases in “Twist,” as the band hit on “Banana Pudding” and Trey quoted The Beatles’ “Get Back” early in the jam, while landing in full blown jam on Queen’s “Under Pressure” late in the excursion. But holy shit, what came in between! Reaching a triumphant stride, the band converged on one of the most cathartic passages of music they have ever played. No fucking joke. Weaving magic out of thin air, Phish blasted into a majestic passage that needs to be heard by all to be believed. This was pure hose to the nth degree, and this segment elevated the room to dizzying—literally unbelievable—heights. The band came out of this magnificent section into the “Under Pressure” jam, and once they saw that through, they moved into music that sounded like the spiritual fallout of the explosive jaunt. Allowing the music to take its course, the band meandered in this milieu for some time, almost sounding like they might build back into “Twist’s” ending, but instead came to rest to a monumental ovation.

10.31.13 (J.Silco)

10.31.13 (J.Silco)

The band released from “Twist’s” phenomenal excursion by unveiling the first “Jibboo” of Fall Tour, and playing the living daylights out of it. Allowing their audience to get loose to far less cerebral music, everyone appreciated the groovy interlude in order to gather their marbles. Trey must be boning up on his strains, because his pun about smoking OG Kush “under his bush” in “Makisupa” became a running joke for the rest of the show. But first and foremost, the rhyme became the source of a tripped out and layered vocal jam in a heavily improvised version of the song. One could sense another jam vehicle lurking behind this bush, and when the song ended, the guys dropped into “Light.”

Spending a large portion of time juicing the composed jam, the band finally opened things up into some intricate grooves that saw Trey do work on rhythm guitar. This “Light” also featured a third segment that blossomed when the band seeped out of their groove into something more abstract. Patiently building this final segment, they wound their way—kind of abruptly­­—into “Chalk Dust.” And here’s where things got a tad songy. Trey next called for “Meatstick,” “Boogie On,” and “Wedge,” though the first two selections contained extra improvisational mustard.

10.31.13 (J.Silco)

10.31.13 (J.Silco)

Phish closed things out with a gorgeous “Slave to the Traffic Light” that fell somewhere stylistically between Hampton’s refined and delicate version and Hartford’s old-school shredder. And just when everyone was catching their breath and beginning to consider their first post-show move, the guys dropped a jammed out “Sneakin’ Sally” encore—with a reprise of the “Shaft” jam—on our exhausted domes! What a freakin’ treat—and a highlight, taboot.

These nights of Phish that we’ve been experiencing since Glens Falls has brought be back—in feeling—to my youngest days as a fan, teeming with excitement and bursting with enthusiasm. But now that we—as a community—are older and more evolved, these jaw-dropping nights of Phish take on such a greater poignancy. Special would be the understatement of the century; sacred is far more appropriate. And with one night left a Fall Tour that will go down in history, let’s all have a night to remember.

I: Cavern, Runaway Jim*, Sand, Halfway to the Moon, Halley’s Comet, Tube, When the Circus Comes, Sugar Shack, Jesus Just Left Chicago, David Bowie

II: Twist > Gotta Jibboo,  Makisupa Policeman, Light -> Chalk Dust Torture, Meatstick, Boogie On Reggae Woman, The Wedge, Slave to the Traffic Light

E: Sneakin’ Sally Through the Alley*

*w/ “Shaft” jam

Boardwalk Hall (Jake Silco)

Boardwalk Hall (Jake Silco)

Tags: , ,

Put Your Wingsuit On!

Posted in Uncategorized with the tags , , , on November 1st, 2013 by Mr.Miner
10.31.13. Boardwalk Hall (Jake Silco)

10.31.13. Boardwalk Hall (Jake Silco)

Wow! Just wow. Just when you thought Phish had done everything a live quartet could do, they pull another trick out of their hat. Bucking tradition and quenching any Phish fan’s fantasy, the band came out for their coveted Halloween set and debuted twelve new songs—tentative tracks on their new album, “Wingsuit,” that they will start recording next week! And these weren’t just off the cuff Trey ditties, these were spectacularly crafted Phish songs. Ten songs jumped off the stage as instant hits that could be inserted into rotation as soon as possible, and we’ll see about two of the acoustic songs—but holy shit what a treat! The only events with any such precedence in Phish history are Lowell ’95 in which the band debuted six originals, and first night of Summer ’97 in Dublin, Ireland, in which they premiered seven new songs and 13 over two nights at the SFX Centre. But here we were on Halloween 2013, and Phish just dropped a dozen on our domes!

10/31 Official (D.Mumford)

10/31 Official (D.Mumford)

The decision to play Wingsuit was incredibly brave, daring and risky—characteristics that have defined the band throughout their career, and traits for which we adore them. And for that alone, they must be applauded. But god damn, these songs were amazing. I felt like I was floating on cloud nine for the duration of the second set as incredible compositions fell like rain. And there were some legitimate jam vehicles too, that will blow up—in my estimation—starting tonight! These songs spanned a spectrum of feels like so many classic Phish albums. The title track “Wingsuit,” evoked a Pink Floydian vibe, while the third track, “The Line,” sounded influenced by the band’s love of  Velvet Underground. But the opus of the set was “Fuego,” a song, that if I had to bet, was written after they listened to the drum and bass jam from Dick’s “ Chalk Dust” (as the band was quoted in the Phishbill as having listened to recent jams and picked out memorable parts to form songs around). “Fuego” features several parts, including a vicious drum and bass jam and overlaid lyrics. The song “Monica,” performed acoustically with a head of steam last night, will make for an incredible electric arrangement. “Waiting All Night,” a trippy and groovy number with drippy guitar work will fit great deep in second sets.

And the songs go on! “Wombat”—featuring a hip-hop dance routine with actor, Abe Vigoda—is a new funk vehicle that will provide some serious dance sessions in the near future. “Devotion to a Dream” carried an upbeat rhythm and a bluesy, Allman’s feel, with lyrics that sounded like an allegory for the band’s 30-year journey. “555” was a groove-based, Gordon-scribed piece that continues a recent trend of engaging Mike contributions to the catalog. “Winterqueen” is a gorgeous Trey and Tom ballad—played once (or more?) by TAB—that also featured some improv, taboot. “Amongst the Peals of Laughter” was a harmless acoustic folk song and “You Never Know,” the set’s finale, was an intricately written piece about the band being taken five million by a ponzi-esque schemer.

10.31 (J.Silco)

10.31 (J.Silco)

The feeling amongst my crew at setbreak was one of straight elation. We had just been hand served one of the—if not the greatest—batch of new songs ever dropped by Phish! And five long years after Joy, nothing could have come at a finer time. It’s hard to believe that tour is about to end with an entire universe of new material having just been unveiled. But, damn, we may very well be looking at their greatest record ever. Back in ’09, when Phish was interviewed by Rolling Stone, Trey said that he wasn’t sure the band had recorded their best album yet. Guess what, Trey? I think you were right.

And if an entire set of incredibly lush new Phish material wasn’t enough, the band came out and played, arguably, the best third set of their career, jamming their proverbial faces off. Kicking things off in true Halloween fashion, Phish opened the late-night frame with a seething version of “Ghost.” The band converged on a driving, inspired jam that evoked the feel of some memorable ’99 versions. But then the 3.0 twist came in, as the guys slipped into a gorgeous and uplifting second movement of the jam, bringing things into cathartic territory. The band was in total command of their craft in this third set—clearly feeling the weight of twelve debuts lifted off their shoulders—and were locked into sacred jamming. Equitable, lead-less, and totally awe-inspiring, this “Ghost” seemed like it would be the jam of the show. That is until they started “Carini.”

10.31 "Wombat" (Andrea Nusinov)

10.31 “Wombat” (Andrea Nusinov)

The band was taking no prisoners on this night, showcasing every element of what makes them the incomparable live act that they are. And so after a colossal version of “Ghost,” Phish stepped into their most prolific jam vehicle of the last two years—“Carini.” Having just spun this jam once in my buddy’s hotel room, I can—easily—say that this is on the level of anything from this tour, and likely beyond. For me, it was one of those out-of-body experiences in the live setting that when you go back to listen floors you twice as hard. That what full-fledged, all-in Phish will do to you—and this jam was all that and a bag of chips! “Carini” was multi-faceted to the core, spanning darkness, infectious groove, and straight free-form jamming for what seemed like an eternity. This was bliss—Phish throwing down the gauntlet in the third set of a holiday show! Can you remember the last time that happened? 1998—it’s been a while. And this was a complete, start-to-finish Phish set, unlike the three-song, abruptly ended stanza of lore.

10.31 (J.Silco)

10.31 (J.Silco)

Following 35 minutes of the best music you’ll ever hear, the guys tore into an interlude of “Birds of a Feather” before dropping into an impeccable, soul-tugging rendition of “Harry Hood.” “Bug” bridged the set to its closing “Antelope,” at which point I needed to be hooked up to IV fluids to compensate for what I had lost over the night. But water would have to wait as the band demolished their final jam of an unforgettable Halloween night. A celebratory “Quinn the Eskimo” provided the only cover of the three-set show, a rarity for Phish, and a cool twist on the encore for a night once defined by other’s music. In all of the possible scenarios that could have gone down last night, what happened was easily the Phishiest, thing that the band could have done. It is night’s like Thursday’s that make these guys the Phish from Vermont, living legends of rock and roll history.

First set notes: Comprised entirely of standard rotation songs, Phish was clearly focused on what was to come set for the duration of the first set. “Stash” and “Gin” provided slightly better-than-standard versions, but it was clear from the jump that this night would be about the second two sets. And was it ever.

I: Heavy Things, The Moma Dance, Poor Heart, Back on the Train, Silent in the Morning, Kill Devil Falls, Mound, Free, Camel Walk, Stash, Golgi Apparatus, Bathtub Gin

II: Wingsuit*, Fuego*, The Line*, Monica*, Waiting All Night*, Wombat*, Snow*, Devotion To A Dream*, 555*, Winterqueen*, Amidst The Peals Of Laughter*, You Never Know*

II: Ghost, Carini, Birds of a Feather, Harry Hood, Bug, Run Like an Antelope

E: Quinn the Eskimo

*debut

10.31.13 Boardwalk Hall (Jake Silco)

10.31.13 Boardwalk Hall (Jake Silco)

Tags: , , ,

Still Upside Down

Posted in Uncategorized with the tags , , on October 30th, 2013 by Mr.Miner
10.20.13 (Jake SIlco)

10.20.13 (Jake SIlco)

Another day, another monster performance—this is getting just plain silly. Phish has hit a stride unseen since the late ‘90s, crushing shows night after night after night. Reading, Pennsylvania’s tour stop blew up with a second set that was nothing short of masterful. Totaling only six songs (plus “Grind), the main event was—again—served with no nonsense and almost all time spent in deep improvisational space. Jaw dropping jams out of “Down With Disease” and “Twenty Years Later” anchored a stacked up set of music that contained incredible flow from start to finish—another vintage frame of Phish.

10/29 Official (D. Welker)

10/29 Official (D. Welker)

The band opened Reading’s second set with “Down with Disease,” continuing their fall tour-long streak of new selections every night. And boy, did they make it count. Out of the jam’s wide open beginning, the guys drifted in an atmospheric direction, carving out a beautiful space in the piece’s first stage. But the story of this one would be how it ended. The final segment of this “Disease” was simply astounding, as Phish converged in an earth-shattering, bluesy peak in which Trey tore off championship melodies that sounded all but composed. If the Allman Brother’s Eat a Peach Halloween rumor has any weight, this jam could be an early indication of what is to come. Phish has been capping their jams with blues-based endings over the past year, and this “Disease” is perhaps their best. Pure hose and pure glory.

Tour’s first “Taste” served as a landing pad for “Disease’s” stratospheric excursion, and upon its ending, it seemed that Phish would take a breather with “Twenty Years Later.” What would transpire over the next fifteen minutes, however, was anything but mellow. For the first time in its five year lifespan, the band decided to jam on “Twenty Years Later,” and they went absolutely fucking ballistic. Trey began hitting rhythm licks over the song’s creeping, ominous texture, and before anyone knew it, we were neck deep in menacing dance floor fantasy. This jam provided a portal to the year 1997, as Trey got straight pornographic in this groove-centric revelation. And if this wasn’t enough to quench our thirst, the band moved out of the thick musical jungle into an uplifting final sequence that was also along the bluesy spectrum. And just like that—in less than a set—we had two more jams we’ll be listening to for the rest of our lives.

10.19.13 (J.Silco)

10.19.13 (J.Silco)

At this juncture, one might have figured that a ballad was inevitable, but instead, Phish kept plugging away and segued into “Piper.” The band exploded into the jam, as Trey let out cries of victory, unleashing furious guitar leads. And then he stepped back into a rhythmic role, slicing the music as the band chugged behind him, locked in relentless attack mode. Without even a tad of complacency, the guys tore this “Piper” to shreds as the third central jam of the set.

The band used an upbeat interlude of “Number Line,” a song whose performances have carried a fresh energy this tour, before closing the night with an old-school, groove-based take on “You Enjoy Myself.” Trey has been playing rhythm more during this tour more than at any time since the band’s ’09 return, and last night he applied these brushstrokes to the band’s classic funk vehicle. The building popped off with this dynamic “YEM,” as the night closed—or so we thought—with notable intensity.

10.27.13 (C.LaJaunie)

10.27.13 (C.LaJaunie)

When Phish came out with a “Bouncin” encore, one felt that they might finish up with “Antelope.” But no matter what was going through any fan’s mind, I am pretty sure that not single person in the arena predicted “Reba.” And that is exactly what came next. Unveiling the first—and, likely, only—“Reba” of tour in the encore slot, the band swept the crowd off their feet one last time for the night with a passionate, though succinct, rendition. And the band played on, choosing to stay for one more with Zeppelin’s “Good Times, Bad Times.” Take that for an encore!

They say time flies when you’re having fun, and these past couple weeks have been the most fun that human beings can have on planet earth. Needless to say, it’s hard to believe we will be heading to Atlantic City tomorrow for our long-awaited Halloween extravaganza. Will it be the Allman’s Eat a Peach? Will it be The Band’s Rock of Ages? Those are the going theories. Regardless of what album is chosen, however, the more exciting part is that we still have six more sets of Phish before the fat lady sings for this season. Soak it in folks, because who knows when when we’ll be on fall tour again. These are special times.

Set One Notes: Phish reeled in their first set considerably from their past four, playing a short set of standard rotation songs, less “Walk Away.” “Wolfman’s” delivered early, remaining one of the band’s most consistent first set songs, though “Split Open and Melt” provided the improvisational highlight of the opening half. The guys seemed to have another “Split” jam on lockdown, but before trying to remerge with the songs theme—the part of the song that traditionally gives them trouble—Trey bailed on the idea entirely, abruptly starting up “Julius” in the first head scratching move of tour.

I: Cars Trucks Buses, Stealing Time From the Faulty Plan, Ginseng Sullivan, Wolfman’s Brother, Sparkle, Walk Away, Divided Sky, Split Open and Melt > Julius

II: Down with Disease > Taste, Twenty Years Later > Piper > Backwards Down the Number Line, You Enjoy Myself, Grind

E: Bouncing Around the Room, Reba, Good Times Bad Times

10.27.13 (Chris LaJaunie)

10.27.13 (Chris LaJaunie)

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Dancin’ the Night Away

Posted in Uncategorized with the tags , , on October 28th, 2013 by Mr.Miner
10.20.13 (J.Silco)

10.20.13 (Jake Silco)

Capping a weekend nobody will soon forget, Phish played two more outstanding sets of music on Sunday night in Hartford, Connecticut, leaving vapor trails across New England as they head for the home stretch of this short, but oh so sweet, fall tour. The band returned to one of their old stomping grounds for the first time since 1999, and greeted it with a proper throw down, composing another chock full, two-set affair. Filling the second set with infectious dance grooves within the context of to-die-for jamming, the band held nothing back on Sunday night, leaving any fan who has caught the last three shows with a belly full of top shelf Phish.

10/28 Official (J.Pollock)

10/27  Official (J.Pollock)

To honor the late Lou Reed—the mind behind Velvet Underground—the guys opened up the show with “Rock and Roll,” jumpstarting the night with some open jamming. Not only did this move immediately ignite the crowd, but it showed that Hartford’s show would pick up exactly where Worcester’s had left off. Everything that band has touched over this weekend has been played with notable creativity; band members are taking unique solos and every piece is popping off the stage. Such was true for “Ocelot,” “Tube,” and “Halfway to the Moon,” the subsequent three songs, which set up the highlight of the first set, “Fee > Maze.”

Phish dusted off “Fee” for the first time this tour, and with it came a mellow bliss jamette. As they seeped out of the song’s ending and into a rolling, melodic exchange, it was clear that the guys were feeling it early tonight. Speckling the first half with free-form jamming while anchoring it with shredding structured interplay, the guys didn’t shy from opening-set improv. “Maze” provided a seething landing point for “Fee’s” atmospheric interlude, and two other pieces of heavy hitting rock-based Phish came as the final couplet of the set in “A Song I Heard the Ocean Sing” and “Walls of the Cave.” This high octane ending punctuated another super satisfying opening frame of music, and the entire feeling of a Phish show changes when the beaming about what just happened at setbreak. There was no getting through the first half just to see what will happen after in the second, rather pure unbridled enjoyment from the very first note. And as usual on Fall Tour ‘13, the second set delivered in a big way.

10.25.13 (R.MacNeil)

10.25.13 (R.MacNeil)

When “Chalk Dust” kicked off the main event, my mind immediately shot back to the Rockies and the instant classic we heard at Dick’s. But on this night, the band was utilizing the rock anthem as a quick shot of adrenaline before dropping into tour’s second Sunday night “Tweezer (and Hartford Civic Center’s third in four shows). And hot damn was it ever a keeper! Blasting into an ocean of candy grooves, Phish brought salvation to the dance floor with the entirety of this rhythmically-focused version. This “Tweezer” carried the exact opposite vibe of Hampton’s sinister standout, moving in a uplifting direction while maintaining a criminal danceability. And while Hampton’s version was loose like a band on their first weekend of tour, this time out, “Tweezer’s” jam was laced up tight with no hesitation from any musician—totally and completely dialed in. Deep into the jam, the band found the chord progression of “Weekapaug” and jammed around the song’s theme within the “Tweezer’s” slower textures; a very cool self-referential arrival for a piece that will be spinning all day on headphones in offices around the country. Enjoy IT, folks, this one’s a lifer.

10.18.13 (J.Silco)

10.18.13 (J.Silco)

With a short “Birds of a Feather,” the band alternated between rock and wide-open, groove jamming—a pattern that would hold for most of the set. And the next dance selection would be “Golden Age,” as the band played the modern era cover in close proximity of “Tweezer” just like in Hampton. But whereas that version of “Golden Age” was a highlight of the show, Hartford’s version will be a highlight of the tour. Trey and Fish hooked up early on in this jam, setting a groove template for which the band to jam around. And jam they did, in a very sophisticated and minimalist fashion, where each member only provided exactly what was necessary to fill the groove. Nobody dominated, in fact, nobody even lead the jam—a robotic groove machine for the 21st century. They guys converged on three distinct jam sections in this “Golden Age,” two exclusively drenched in groove, while the third grew increasingly layered with effects and eventually dissolved into an ambient soundscape. Trey painted a delicate, upper octave solo atop the piece before joining the sound sculpture as a democratic contributor. This reflective final sequence came to a finale with Mike’s opening lyrics to “Halley’s Comet.”

10.18.13 (J.Silco)

10.18.13 (J.Silco)

Every time the band drops a second set “Halley’s” our ears perk up in hopes that this might me the one, but alas, it wasn’t to be on Sunday night. But as abrupt segues out of “Halley’s” go, this one was particularly smooth as the band slipped into a late set “2001.” Similarly, most fans’ hopes rise with each “Also Sprach” that this one might be the one on which they go huge—and last night they actually did! Transforming the usually routine funk cover into the third heavily-improvised dance number of the set, the guys let loose on “2001” like they haven’t in quite some time. This version grew in stature from Hampton’s beefy outing of a week ago, with lock step jamming and mini-groove tangents all over. After Phish got the arena bouncing for this final time of the set, they kept the energy of the show sky high by unveiling the first “Fluffhead” of tour. And then it was time for the come down.

Phish has been keeping things fresh all tour, not only with their setlists but with their jams, refusing to play two pieces the same way. This is usually true for open jams, but right now they are even diversifying songs like “Slave.” In Hampton, they played a refined and delicate version of the set closer, so last night they took the jam to the top with a rocket strapped to their back in old-school fashion. This “Slave” picked up a pace right off the bat, spending little to no time in ultra-placid waters. And with this quicker tempo came an active, four-piece exchange that saw Trey lay into his solo like it was the last he’d ever play. This was vintage Phish. And this is 2013. Taking care of business, yes indeed.

And thus concludes a weekend that will be talked about for years to come— Phish destroys southern New England. Three shows; six sets, and you can just hit play and let ‘em ride, because every single one is worth listening to all the way through. After last night’s second set, I went over to a younger buddy who started seeing Phish in 2009, after poring over their music for years. I hugged him in joy and said, “You’ve waited your whole life for this!” He looked back with a smile and said, “I know.” And as I walked away to grab my bag, I thought to myself, “Haven’t we all?”

I: Rock and Roll, Ocelot, Tube, Halfway to the Moon, Fee > Maze, Lawn Boy, Nellie Kane, NICU, A Song I Heard the Ocean Sing, Walls of the Cave

II: Chalk Dust Torture, Tweezer, Birds of a Feather, Golden Age > Halley’s Comet > Also Sprach Zarathustra > Fluffhead, Slave to the Traffic Light

E: Loving Cup > Tweezer Reprise

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Full Steam Ahead

Posted in Uncategorized with the tags , , on October 27th, 2013 by Mr.Miner
10.19.2013 (Jake Silco)

10.19.2013 (Jake Silco)

Not slowing down for an instant after a stunning Friday night performance—in fact, placing their foot on the accelerator—Phish blew the roof off the Worcester Centrum on Saturday in a signature performance that evoked the spirit of the glory days. Wasting not an iota of time, the band was in full destruction mode from the moment they stepped on stage, playing a first set that was beefier and more artistic than many seconds we’ve seen in recent years. After the break, however, Phish played one of those sets we’ll remember forever; one of those sets without a single lull, not even for a second; one of those sets that leave one dripping with sweat and begging for more; one of those sets. And when Phish plays like it’s their last chance to do so for both sets, well, that’s when shows truly realize their potential. Saturday night in Worcester was one of these shows.

10/5-26 Official (J.Eads)

10/5-26 Official (J.Eads)

In recent tours, when Phish throws down a top shelf show, they usually take the first set the following night to exhale, taking things relatively slow. That is the opposite of what happened last night. To kick off the evening, Phish came out and crushed the most improvised version of “Party Time” they’ve ever played, stretching the piece out into the funk jam that everyone has imagined since it’s debut at Merriweather in ’09. This dance session harnessed Friday night’s lingering energy and channeled it directly into Saturday night’s show. We we cleared for take off.

Seizing the instant momentum they had created, the guys dropped into “Punch You in the Eye,” a move that kept the energy sky high and served as a second opener. And when Phish shows start with “Punch,” the band means business. Spirited renditions of “Back on the Train” and “My Soul” led into my favorite highlight of the opening set (and there were many), “Bathtub Gin.” Receiving far more creative treatment that so many of the stock versions of recent years, this jam set fire to the show in earnest and brought the room to, arguably, it’s highest single peak of the night with a dizzying, mid-set dance fiesta. Trey seamlessly wove the “Gin” lick back into the jam at it’s apex, toying with the melody as he led us to the promised land. This was a full throttle, first set “Gin” that saw the entire band lock into airtight interplay and set the bar for the rest of the night.

10.20.13 (Jake Silco)

10.20.13 (Jake Silco)

A bust out of “Ride Captain Ride” bridged the opening set to it’s most potent triumvirate—and out of character grouping of “Stash,” “Simple > Bowie.” The “Stash” blossomed into a menacing tension and release piece, infusing all sorts of grit and darkness into an otherwise upbeat set. Yet, it also included tangents and nuances that brought it far above the norm. “Simple’s” first appearance of tour came with slick setlist placement and kept the heavily improvisational vibe of the opening frame. A succinct, ethereal jam artistically bled into “David Bowie’s” intro, and, presumably, we had reached the last song of the set. But following a blistering rendition of their classic and complex jam vehicle, Phish closed with a bang, punctuating a prime-time opening half of music with “Character Zero.” And much like the night before, we knew we were in for a treat after setbreak.

10.18.13 (J.Silco)

10.18.13 (J.Silco)

Keeping things as fresh as ever, the band opened the second set with their seventh consecutive different song, this time choosing The Who’s “Drowned.” And out of it they would sculpt an exploratory odyssey that passed through several sonic stages. Once the band opened up the jam, it didn’t take long for them to move in an abstract direction, and it momentarily seemed like this would be direction they would explore. But over the mellow feel, Trey cut in with some rhythm chops and it didn’t take long for Fish to follow along. Together, they urged the band into fast-paced section of breakbeat-laced, percussive grooves. As this segment grew, it took on undertones of “Guy Forget,” but the band never fully committed to their rarity. This section illustrated how precise Phish’s communication is right now as they sliced and diced the music as a one-minded beast. And then came the arrival. The band moved moved into a bliss and bass laden pasture and before anyone knew what was developing, Trey offered the chords to Jimmy Cliff’s “Sitting in Limbo.” His bandmates immediately picked up on his cue, seamlessly moved into a full-fledged jam on the song. It seemed as though at any moment Trey would step to the mic for the song’s first verse, but it was far classier move to keep things instrumental. And thus developed one of the most sublime moments in recent Phish history. Just as the band had expressed all their ideas, Trey strummed the opening to “Light.”

10.19.13 (J.Silco)

10.19.13 (J.Silco)

The guys completely annihilated the opening contained section of the jam, twisting and gyrating as a unit through hyperspace as Trey unleashed an incredibly expressive solo. But when they settled into the open section of the jam, the band entered an utterly virtuosic exchange. Moving into the rhythmic paradigm, the guys explored the complexities of groove, as each member offered a mind-bending contribution to “Light’s” musical whole. This “Light” jam is not like Phish grooves you’ve heard before, rather something far more esoteric. This was innovative jamming at its finest, as Phish pushed the envelope further with this jam than any other of the night. When “Light” trickled to a stop, Trey decided to keep the groove thing going and led the band into a third-song “Sand.”

10.18.13 (J.Silco)

10.18.13 (J.Silco)

When Phish gets moving with such a head of steam, they just wanna keep lining ‘em up and knocking ‘em down, and so they did with their third consecutive heavy-hitter. A dramatic version of “Sand” built to a major league peak, and served as the final chunk of the set’s opening 45 minutes. Phish used “Theme” as a break from jamming and to set up a show-closing “Mike’s Groove” that would bring the audience to its knees. Trey employed a wah-plus-delay pattern to bounce the arena like a basketball during a very different “Mike’s” jam in which he never took a solo. When the guys slid into the atmospheric intro to “No Quarter”—Zeppelin’s master stroke on Houses of Holy—the audience responded with a roar. Slaying the classic cover, they moved into a spunky and dynamic “Weekapaug” to close the set. No lulls, no ballads, no filler—just high octane Phish from start to finish—and that is how we like ‘em!

I can’t quite express my gratitude to the band for these Worcester shows. I can’t recall four more powerful sets packaged over two nights strewn with so much creative improvisation. Quite literally, every jam they touched became a show highlight. These Worcester shows touched the very essence of why most of us fell in love with this band to begin with—unparalleled musical wizardry. When Phish is at the top of their game, there’s not a band in the history of music that can keep up. And right now, in the midst of their 30th Anniversary celebration, everyone is in the rear view mirror.

I: Party Time, Punch You In the Eye, Back on the Train, My Soul, Bathtub Gin, Ride Captain Ride, Stash, Simple > David Bowie, Character Zero

II: Drowned > Light, Sand, Theme From the Bottom, Mike’s Song > No Quarter >Weekapaug Groove

E: Boogie On Reggae Woman*, Possum*

* w/ guest drummer Kenwood Dennard on drums instead of Fishman

 

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Boomshakalaka

Posted in Uncategorized with the tags , , on October 26th, 2013 by Mr.Miner
10.25.13 (Ryan MacNeil)

10.25.13 (Ryan MacNeil)

Wow! What a fucking Phish show! Stepping into The Centrum, one of the most legendary rooms of their career, Phish absolutely dropped the gauntlet on Worcester, Massachusetts, playing—in my opinion—their best show of this short tour. Showcasing unbridled enthusiasm from the very first note, the band played two torrid sets of music with their both their individual playing and group improvisation far more dialed in than just a week ago. Every time Phish plays in Worcester they seem to bring their A game, and last night was no exception. But what is so great about Fall ’13 is just how stellar their A game really is! Let’s go the videotape.

10/25 Official (J.Eads)

10/25 Official (J.Eads)

The band dove headfirst into the show, opening with a furious one-two punch of “Funky Bitch” and “Wolfman’s Brother,” each played with notably extra zest. The opening set throwdown continued with “Wilson”—in which Trey noted that Rog from the lyrical duo of “Rog and Pete” was in attendance, “The Curtain With”—which always seems to appear in special shows, and “Cities”—which was highlighted by Mike’s basslines right from the start. It was interesting to hear “Rift” in such proximity to “The Curtain With,” as the latter spawned the former and they share melodies, but the band played it with relative precision. The way the band plays “Free” these days, it’s far more suited to the first set, and it worked perfectly in that slot last night. A bustout of “My Mind’s Got a Mind of Its Own” kept the set moving until the band dropped a sharp version of “Vultures,” a rarity which is always a treat to hear. The set ended somewhat abruptly after an arena-rousing “46 Days,” though the opening frame had absolutely slayed. And when Phish is playing that well before setbreak, it usually points to good things ahead. But what happened in set two was downright special.

10.25.13 (R.MacNeil)

10.25.13 (R.MacNeil)

Aside from a pinner, jamless version of “Waves” at the top of an Alpine ’09 second set, Phish hadn’t opened up a main event with “Waves” since 2003. A signature jam vehicle of the post-hiatus era, the band had only jammed on it a handful on times in the modern era, but never in such audacious fashion as last night. Page’s piano leads remained the anchor of an incredibly psychedelic affair that migrated through several sonic pastures. This is the type of stuff that comes when a modern Phish tackles the intricate jam vehicles of post-hiatus—pure and utter glory. But what did you expect? (Let’s hope it continues happening!) This “Waves” is the stuff of instant legend, and when paired with the following “Carini,” it was easily the most devastating one-two punch of Fall.

The band resolved the set opening “Waves” in hard rock fashion, winding their way into a particularly heavy texture. Presumably, this planted the seed of “Carini” in Trey’s head, and though this jam could have gone on forever, when the band dropped into the one of the most prolific jam vehicles of the past couple years, the venue exploded. And then, so did this “Carini jam.” After moving through an uplifting interlude, this piece got downright nasty. Flexing some of the smoothest and infectious dance grooves you’ll ever hear, Phish locked into a sacred stride and absolutely demolished the dance floor in a segment that will make any fan drool. Straight Phish crack of the highest grade, this “Carini” jam was but another piece of evidence that the band was throwing down the goods on this night, feeling the New England energy and transforming it into musical magic.

10.25.13 (R.MacNeil)

10.25.13 (R.MacNeil)

Stopping on a dime, just as Fishman was hitting a new rhythm, Trey led the band into a mid-set “Prince Caspian,” always leaving the kidz jonesing for a little bit more. Infusing the band and crowd’s collective enthusiasm into his “Caspian” solo, Trey kept the music at sashimi grade throughout the reflective anthem. As the jam neared a close, Trey began working in the intro to “Number Line,” and soon he led the band into the feel good number without finishing “Caspian.” Though “Number Line” never seems to fit in the middle of a set, to be honest, this one really popped. The band never broke form, but really nailed the song, highlighted by a stellar solo from the big guy. As the band brought the song to a close, the set hit a juncture. What would be the jam of the back half of the set? The answer—to the delight of all in attendance—was “Ghost!”

Within the contexts of a masterful whole-band excursion, Page’s piano playing, once again, stood out and provided the constant that the band built around for much of the jam, and certainly throughout it’s peak. This locked in and dynamic “Ghost” saw the guys navigate a mid-tempo, egalitarian exchange before turning the corner into groovy, major key, bliss-laden mind-hosery. Truly feeling IT all night long, the band peaked the show with this cathartic version of “Ghost” and segued—via whistle—into the tour’s first “Dirt.” Giving every one a moment—but not much more—to catch their breath, at the end of the succinct ballad, a mysterious ambient build gave way to a late set “Down With Disease.”

10.25.13 (R.MacNeil)

10.25.13 (R.MacNeil)

Everyone had “Disease” penciled in as Saturday night’s second-set opener at this point i the show, so the band figured why not continue throwing curves? One might have figured this would be a straightforward rock-rendition to keep the energy high, but lo and behold, the band would jam it, splashing into their fourth open-ended jaunt of the set! After obliterating the rock jam with a blistering solo, Trey led the band through a triumphant-turned-delicate second movement.

Dropping into “Sneaking Sally” at a time when another jam would have been outrageous, Phish made us feel, momentarily, like our lives had transformed into a cartoon reality. Hanging back on the improvisational front, however, the band simply played the song and stepped into “Cavern.” The guys chose “Antelope” as their set closer for the night, and proceeded to perform a laid-back, jazzy highlight-reel version. It was one of those nights when everything went right and the set—not to mention the entire show—contained relentless flow.

10.25.13 (R.MacNeil)

10.25.13 (R.MacNeil)

The band truly must have been feeling it, because even though they waited until 8:30 to start, they came out and played a smoking four-song encore that totaled twenty minutes! Can you remember the last time “Rocky Top” appeared as the third encore and wasn’t end of the show? Me neither. The band just didn’t want to stop playing, so they didn’t.

The Worcester Centrum is a special place in the Phish universe. It has been a relic of Phish tour since the early nineties and has never left their touring docket. The band absolutely loves playing the room and it shows every single time. Last night was but another page in a long and illustrious history of Phish in Worcester, and we still have one more page to write tonight. Don’t look now, but we are in the heart of Fall Tour in New England and the band has hit full stride. Before all is said and done, this weekend just may become the peak of the season. I, for one, can not wait to find out.

I: Funky Bitch, Wolfman’s Brother, Wilson, The Curtain With, Cities, Rift, Free, My Mind’s Got a Mind of its Own, Vultures, 46 Days

II: Waves > Carini, Prince Caspian > Backwards Down the Number Line, Ghost > Dirt, Down with Disease > Sneakin’ Sally Through the Alley, Cavern, Run Like an Antelope

E: Contact, Suzy Greenberg, Rocky Top, Good Times Bad Times

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Gee, It’s Good to be Back Home

Posted in Uncategorized with the tags , , on October 24th, 2013 by Mr.Miner
10.22.13 Rochester (Jake Silco)

10.22.13 Rochester (Jake Silco)

Phish stepped into a room of legend on Wednesday night in Glens Falls, New York, and bounced back from their Tuesday night clunker with a fiery two-set performance. Leaving their rust in western New York, the band was on point from the get go on Wednesday, hitting Glens Falls in stride and treating the intimate 7,000 person audience to a high-octane mid-week performance.

10/23 Official (R.Kelly)

10/23 Official (R.Kelly)

When the band stepped foot in Glens Falls Civic Center—a room whose lone Phish show spawned their most popular holiday tradition—it was only appropriate to start right where they left of in 1994, with The Beatles “White Album.” Opening the show with the third-ever “Back in the USSR,” a song debuted in the same building 19 years ago (the other was 12.6.94), Phish quickly gave a nod to their seminal Halloween concert. Right away, one could tell Phish was a different band from the sluggish quartet that took the stage in Rochester. The guys sounded sharp, focused and enthusiastic from the jump, attacking their opening run of songs—including a popping version of “Undermind”—before truly igniting the show with a scorching, fifth-song “David Bowie.” Within the “Bowie” jam, the band illustrated a clear command over the music, displaying tight, full-band, tension-and-release jamming that was strewn with nuances and mini-peaks. Their willingness to take such a deep dive early in the show fully showcased the band’s confidence on this night in New York state.

The entire first set was comprised of tour debuts, less “Stealing Time,” and the fresh setlist got the crowd going early. One point of note—if only for a blazing set of blue balls—came in “Gumbo,” when Page took his final piano solo on clav and began to push it! Trey was even feeling it and hit a couple rhythms chords as accompaniment, but Fishman slowed down the backbeat and thus dissolved any shot of a jam. Also in the first set, the guys played a blazing version of “Limb by Limb,” featuring a wildy passionate solo by Trey.

10.22.13 (Jake Silco)

10.22.13 (Jake Silco)

Come the end of the set, the obvious choice seemed like “Antelope,” thus the band veered the other way and dropped an intense rendition of “Split Open and Melt.” So many times in this era, the band has gotten discombobulated during “Split,” often losing direction all together. But not last night as the guys remained notably coherent throughout this version. Even when the jam elevated to a space cloud and Captain Treyhab went on an intergalactic whaling mission, the band was able to return to earth and hit the ground running, tearing through the peak of “Split” with a fury and ending a very high quality, opening frame.

10.19.13 (J.Silco)

10.19.13 (J.Silco)

Tour’s first “Rock and Roll” opened Glens Falls’ main event, but things didn’t exactly go as one might expect. For the first time since tour’s first show, the band didn’t go huge on their second set opener, this time electing for a concise jam that seemed to end prematurely. As Fishman dropped into half-time, “Rock and Roll” seemed primed for take off, but before anyone could get their bearings straight, Trey strummed a signal to wind things down, and up came “Seven Below.” Phish allowed this second jam in the set to breathe considerably more than the first, as Trey took center stage with precise, six-string theatrics. Though this piece never moved too far from its theme, “Seven Below” gave the band the confidence they needed as a unit to dive into the centerpiece of the set—“Twist.”

On most nights, Phish places their largest improvisational effort on the second set opener, giving shows in which they do not, completely different contours. This show was weighted towards the back of the second set, as the two most impressive jams of the night were the final two—”Twist” and “Harry Hood.” During “Twist’s” contained jam, Trey bucked convention and set his sights much higher, speeding up the piece into wide-open territory. Where so many “Twists” have gone dark before, this one turned towards the heavens as the band opened the magic door to some awe-inspiring music. Locked in and playing as a single unit, the guys navigated a cathartic, uptempo jam for some time before hitting a change with which things turned ethereal and majestic. A extended down tempo segment in which the band played some truly sacred music provided the final piece of this melody-driven “Twist”—the shining gem of the night.

“Velvet Sea” bridged us to the second-place highlight of the show—“Harry Hood.” The throwback environs must have evoked something in Trey, because it had been quite a while since he laid into a “Hood” jam—and peak—like he did on this one. Moving from a plinko-esque beginning to a staggering end, this “Hood” is a must hear for any Phish purist. Trey’s exquisite playing throughout this version is enough to send shivers down any fan’s spine.

10.22.13 (Jake Silco)

10.22.13 (Jake Silco)

Following a surprise “Chalk Dust” closer, Phish brought things full circle, playing for an encore, the one song from the “White Album” that remained in Phish’s repertoire—”While My Guitar Gently Weeps”—a move, in and of itself, that spawned a tradition. As we move to Worcester, and tour’s halfway point, we have begun to see the development of a legitimate Fall run of shows. The band has been on fire every night less one, and each of those shows has produced a timeless piece of creative Phish—“Carini,” “Ghost,” “Tweezer” and “Twist.” What will come next is anybody’s guess, but if I were in a few hundred mile radius of New England this weekend, I’d make it a point to get to Worcester and Hartford to find out.

I: Back in the U.S.S.R., Stealing Time From the Faulty Plan, Water in the Sky, Undermind, David Bowie, Golgi Apparatus, Gumbo, Yarmouth Road, Camel Walk, Horn, Limb By Limb, I Didn’t Know, Split Open and Melt

II: Rock and Roll > Seven Below, Alaska, Twist > Wading in the Velvet Sea, Harry Hood, Chalk Dust Torture

E: While My Guitar Gently Weeps

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Taking Care of Business

Posted in Uncategorized with the tags , , on October 21st, 2013 by Mr.Miner
10.13.2013 "Divided Sky" (Andrea Nusinov)

10.20.2013 “Divided Sky” (Andrea Nusinov)

In a display of musicianship rarely seen these days, Phish annihilated the Mothership proper on Sunday night, gracing the historic venue with the throwdown it’s been begging for since November 22, 1997. This was the real deal folks. This was Phish at Hampton Coliseum in all their fury and wonder. This was the stuff of legend. This was the stuff of dreams. The band hadn’t woven an indoor tale like this in quite some time, and—honestly—it was a sight to behold. Sunday’s show touched upon the very ethos of why we do what we do. The community now has a new date to go along with the many numbers we recite in our sleep—10.20.2013, welcome to our consciousness.

10/19 Official (J.Flames)

10/20 Official (J.Flames)

The band toned it down a bit from their audacious start of Saturday night, favoring standard rotation songs to which we’ve all grown accustomed. There were, however, a few talking points beyond the intense energy that the band brought to each and every selection. After the opening three songs, the guys kicked into “Roses Are Free” in what seemed like another ho-hum selection. But Trey had different ideas. Out of the ending of the song, the band moved into a dreamy, mid-tempo passage that pointed to the first “Roses” jam since Worcester last year. As the crowd’s anticipation built, however, the band couldn’t fully lock up, and but a minute or so into the jam, Trey aborted it for “Sample In a Jar.”

The show picked up in earnest with a savage version of “46 Days.” This rousing piece was the first to truly get the audience’s hearts to beat as one—a heartbeat that would pulsate throughout the intimate arena for the rest of the night. A precise “Divided Sky” gave way to an “Bold as Love” closer. The set was solid, if not a bit slow, but big things were on the horizon, and everyone in the building could feel it.

What happened after setbreak is the stuff of instant legend. Phish gave every single song in the second set the absolute full treatment, and as was said in the tale of King Midas, everything that they touched turned to gold. Spending the entire second set in improvisational space, Phish staged a musical drama for which they became famous. This was Phish—raw, unadulterated and without a net.

10.18.13 (A.Nusonov)

10.19.13 (A.Nusinov)

The set kicked off with a nod to a crew of up-fronters dressed like Waldo from the “Where’s Waldo?” books. Trey asked them before the set if they were dressed like Waldo or people from jail, and then promptly told them the band would play a “song about jail” before busting out “Paul and Silas.” But then, the moment we had all been waiting for unfolded as Trey unleashed the opening lick to “Tweezer.” This “Tweezer” was the filthiest piece of indoor arena Phish we’ve heard in this era. Hands down, bar none. Moving seamlessly from dark to sinister to outright disgusting, this jam provided the yang to the Tahoe version’s yin. A piece of music that incarnated all that is good and holy about fall Phish truly upped the bar of possibilities for the next week and a half. This is sacred ground, people—tread lightly and with no distractions. A textured voyage into groove and far beyond, this jam leapt from the stage directly into the Hall of Fame. This monumental jam ended in an stunning passage of melodic ambience that lifted us, ever so gradually, out of the deep abyss and into an uplifting conclusion. And upon the ending of the jam, Trey dropped into “Golden Age.”

10.18.13 (A.Nusinov)

10.19.13 (A.Nusinov)

Leaving jaws on the Coliseum floor from the floor up to the rafters, Phish moved into the second movement of a flowing and relentless musical stanza. The band took all of the energy they had put into “Tweezer’s” psychedelia and applied it to the funk paradigm in “Golden Age.” Launching into a groove fiesta, Trey played all sorts of choppy rhythms licks while his band mates churned out dance grooves as if it was 1997. Turning the party out like none other, the band stuck with this vibe for quite some time before bleeding into an spacey outro that highly suggested a move into “2001.” But unlike the handful of times they’ve executed that transition in the past couple years, the guys took a left turn into “Piper.”

Like several applications of “Piper” this summer, this version was utilized as a triumphant exclamation point on the opening half of the set. Trey’s guitar screamed in joy, and all could share in the exultation he expressed. This was group catharsis as it is defined in the dictionary. Energy coursed through the arena like tangible bolts of lightning as the band tore through their victory march. And then came the best moment of the night. Phish moved into a classic rock vamp, and it sounded as if they might segue into “Rock and Roll.” But out of nowhere, the band moved into an impromptu cover of Bachman, Turner, Overdrive’s “Taking Care of Business!” The venue fucking exploded. One of the more clever musical moves we’ve seen Phish pull off in a hot minute, this transition sent the crowd over the top.

10.12.13 (Andrea Nusinov)

10.19.13 (Andrea Nusinov)

The band dissolved into an ambient outro, and it became clear that we would get the “2001” that had been dangled in front of us moments ago. And the band played it like they meant it! Digging into the chunky funk grooves, they spun the Mothership into another galaxy, and just when it seemed like “You Enjoy Myself” was a forgone conclusion, the band ripped into “Sand!” Taking the road less traveled at every juncture this fall, Phish threw yet another curveball to the delight of every person in the building. As if a band possessed, the guys crushed another primary jam vehicle with a purpose. Carving out layers of snarling sound, Trey led the troops in a climactic rendition of “Sand” that saw them keep on cranking where they have so often faltered late in the second set. And then the release.

10.18.13 (J.Silco)

10.18.13 (J.Silco)

As the band drifted into “Slave,” the final chapter of our musical fairy tale had been revealed. With one more push, Phish would reach the finish line of a championship race. And what a push it was. Unfurling a delicate jam, the band spent a good amount of time in a mellow, reflective space, allowing the events of the night to catch up to every soul in the house. The entire version felt very refined, ever so gradually building momentum, as the guys wove a graceful finale. They had made it. We had made it. And it was good.

The look Page’s face as he thanked the crowd said it all. Sincerity, humility and pride spilled from his aura as he turned to each side of the arena and thanked them earnestly. It was a special night of Phish and we all knew it. The classic Beatles cover “A Day in a Life”—a track heralded for its groundbreaking nature at the time—felt incredibly appropriate for an encore. While “Tweezer Reprise” stamped the night complete and the chorus of “Step into the Freezer” echoed throughout Hampton Coliseum, I thought back over the last 18 years, and thanked the good Lord that I took that step.

I: Julius, Funky Bitch, Back on the Train, Roses Are Free > Sample in a Jar, Ginseng Sullivan, 46 Days, Divided Sky, Bold As Love

II: Paul and Silas, Tweezer > Golden Age > Piper -> Takin’ Care of Business > Also Sprach Zarathustra > Sand, Slave to the Traffic Light

E: A Day in the Life, Tweezer Reprise

Hampton 2013 (Andrea Nusinov)

Hampton 2013 (Andrea Nusinov)

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Hampton Comes Alive

Posted in Uncategorized with the tags , , on October 20th, 2013 by Mr.Miner
10.18.13 (Jake Silco)

10.18.13 (Jake Silco)

What a difference a day makes. One night after taking batting practice over the course of two sets, Phish came out swinging on Saturday night at Hampton Coliseum and truly inaugurated their 30th Anniversary Fall Tour with a smoking two set affair. Laying it on early and often, the guys took no prisoners, crafting a show that—arguably—bested any at The Mothership in 14 years. Evoking the feeling of fall tours of lore, the guys threw down a show that was bursting at the seams with energy and never relented for a moment, leaving fans with shit-eating grins as they moseyed back to their hotels through a perfect autumn evening.

phishhamptonposter

10/19 Official (J.Flames)

Stepping to the plate with a purpose, the band lead off the game with a solid double in the gap in the form of “Bathtub Gin” before staging a scoring rally that was highlighted by a scorching indoor “Tube.” A version that set fire to the full-sized, Saturday night crowd, this creative and extended “Tube” provided an unquestionable highlight of the first set. Following this adrenalized start, the guys slowed things down with the modern rarity, “Fast Enough For You” and Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Ballad of Curtis Loew.” Non-rotation songs of “Yamar” and “My Sweet One” sandwiched a crunchy “Stealing Time,” which set the table for a smoking “Mike’s Groove” that was weighted towards “Weekapaug” with Page leading the way on clavinet. In retrospect, I thought there would be more musical meat to discuss in the opening stanza, but it just goes to show how far balls-to-the-wall energy and precise musicianship will take a set.

The first half had the arena buzzing as fans prepared themselves for what was sure to be a stellar main event. The band was feeling it, and they were bringing it hand over fist. A night after starting the second set with “Twist” for the only the second time since 2003, Phish opened Saturday night’s with “Ghost” for the first time since Alpine 2010, and the second time since Raleigh 2003! And what a “Ghost” it was. Reminiscent of IT’s legendary “Ghost” from Limestone, this version had a trajectory set for the heavens, and shot like an arrow into a blissful, peaking plateau where the jam sat for an eternity. Trey peeled of sheets of descending notes at the zenith of this excursion, cascading like victory over his legions of devotees. Super-charged catharsis of the highest degree, this “Ghost” drove us across the sky in a chariot before grounding us with a breakbeat-driven, ambient denouement.

10/18 (Jake Silco)

10/18 (Jake Silco)

Flipping the conventional script, the band segued out of “Ghost” and into a second-song “Disease,” providing a unique contour to the set’s opening couplet. The band moved from the song’s rock platform into a more ethereal, open-ended excursion that reached some profound places before getting chopped a bit abruptly for a wild, antic-filled version of “Steam.” The band absolutely slayed the “Steam” jam as Trey illustrated how he’s honed his pitch-bending as juxtaposed to the overly-whaley, 2013 debut at SPAC. Following the conventional jam, however, Trey joined Fishman on drums for a percussive-driven segment that saw Mike not only play his fight bell with drum sticks, but also bring back his power drill  from Friday night’s “Antelope” to play the bass. Page stabbed at his Hammond, providing the only melodic comping to this rhythmic tangent, before the guys remerged with the end of “Steam.”

10.18.13 (J.Silco)

10.18.13 (J.Silco)

It was high time for the band to take a breath, and they did so in the form of “Prince Caspian.” But the set found its way into too much filler after that. “Boogie On” had some extra zest, and carried the energy of the night just fine. But after that came “Theme” (which was actually quite good). And then came “Wedge.” “And then “Silent in the Morning.” At this point, we could have been in the middle of a first set! The guys did, however, close things with a bang, scripting a haunting and twisting version of “Harry Hood.” The set, though, had already lost considerable momentum, an issue that has seemed to plague an older Phish.

Just like that, we are one night away from fall tour’s first weekend being complete. And if the first two nights are any prediction of what is to come, we are in for one hell of a run. Phish took but one night to stretch their legs, and on Saturday, Trey used his newly dusted off Ocedoc to announce, “Game on!” And you know what they about Sunday shows…and with a “Tweezer” looming at Hampton Coliseum?! Yikes. Hide the women and children folks—we’ll see you in a few hours!

I: Bathtub Gin, The Moma Dance, Tube > Fast Enough for You, The Ballad of Curtis Loew, Ya Mar, Stealing Time From the Faulty Plan, My Sweet One, Mike’s Song > I Am Hydrogen >Weekapaug Groove

II: Ghost > Down with Disease > Steam* > Prince Caspian > Boogie On Reggae Woman, Theme From the Bottom, The Wedge, Silent in the Morning, Harry Hood

E: Quinn the Eskimo

10.18.13 (Jake Silco)

10.18.13 (Jake Silco)

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The Top 5 Shows of Summer

Posted in Uncategorized with the tags , , on September 9th, 2013 by Mr.Miner

5) 7.5.13, SPAC, Saratoga Springs, NY

7/5 Official (Millward)

7/5 Official (Millward)

Lo and behold, the band’s July 5 performance at SPAC holds up at the end of the summer in the top five. The story of this night truly starts with the combo of “Cities > Bowie” at the end of set one. A fresh take on “Cities” blends into one of the forgotten “Bowies” of tour—a version that is among the season’s top few. But the second set was elevated to a whole ‘nother level. In the second show of tour, after a 2012 summer in which the band grew a tad predictable, they threw us one of the freshest sets in years. A palpable excitement filled the air as Phish kicked things off with the debut of “Energy,” a new cover and jam vehicle at a time when the band desperately needed one. The band’s enthusiasm bled right into “Light,” a version that remains the most engaging and refined of the summer—a profound statement for the beginning of tour. The greatest part of this set is that the band got creative with every single piece less “Mango Song.” One such moment took place in a filthy, slowed down wah-funk segment out of “46 Days,” a jam that coyly slipped into “Steam.” Everyone had been hoping for a jam from “Steam” since its 2011 debut, and albeit a whale-drenched one, we finally got it at SPAC. Changing the course of the song’s career, this version paved the way for a handful of second setters over tour.

Just when it felt like the guys might fall back into convention, they dropped a late-set “Drowned” that veered from its usual rock textures into delicate groove excursion, maintaining the newness of the set’s feel. Closing things out with an astounding “Slave” built with patience and reverence, Phish had dropped one of their sets of summer in just their second outing.

I: Kill Devil Falls, The Moma Dance > Sample in a Jar, Roses Are Free, Birds of a Feather, Yarmouth Road, Bathtub Gin, Nellie Kane, Army of One > My Friend, My Friend > Cities -> David Bowie

II: Energy > Light -> The Mango Song, 46 Days -> Steam, Drowned > Slave to the Traffic Light

E: Character Zero

***

4) 7.12.13 Jones Beach, Wantagh, NY

7/12 Official (DDL)

7/12 Official (DDL)

Amidst a monsoon on the edge of Long Island Sound, Phish threw down one of their sets of the season. Jones Beach’s main event was flawless in execution from start to finish with zero hiccups to note. Featuring a wide-open, twenty-minute “Rock and Roll” to start, this set never slowed down as the band segued into “2001” and then into an infectious take on “Tweezer.” The mid-set sequence of “Tweezer -> Cities -> Wedge” flowed like a single piece of music, while the band’s interplay in both “Tweezer” and “Cities” was especially enticing. Placing “Velvet Sea” exactly where it fits, the band then followed with their favorite set-closer of 2013, “Character Zero.” It’s rare that the guys come out—on any night—and pitch a perfect game, but after set break—as the clouds momentarily parted—Phish threw an absolute gem.

The inclement weather made the first set of this show a rough scene until the band flipped their script with the closing combination of “Reba” and “Bowie.” Though their playing was tight from the jump, it felt as though the guys were oblivious to the vigorous downpour as they slogged their way through a standard set of songs.  But once “Reba” started, the rest was history.

I: Chalk Dust Torture, Cars Trucks Buses, Ocelot, My Sweet One, A Song I Heard the Ocean Sing, Water in the Sky, The Sloth, Beauty of a Broken Heart, Sugar Shack, 46 Days, Backwards Down the Number Line > Reba, David Bowie

II: Rock and Roll > Also Sprach Zarathustra > Tweezer -> Cities -> The Wedge, Wading in the Velvet Sea, Character Zero

E: Sleeping Monkey > Tweezer Reprise

***

3) 7.31.13 Harvey’s, Stateline, NV

7/31 Official (J.Soto)

7/31 Official (J.Soto)

It was tough to not put this show higher for the “Tweezer” alone, but I am trying to be quasi-objective here. The Tahoe “Tweezer” is—without question—the jam of the summer, and the most magical moment I’ve ever experienced at a Phish show. The way the crowd seamlessly integrated themselves into the most epic jam of the modern era pushes this one over the top of every other contender. But when it comes right down to it, there was little else in the show of note.

To be honest, the first set was straight up abysmal. The guys picked up zero momentum in the opening frame set until a standard, set-closing “Stash” felt like a gift from heaven. Then, after “Tweezer,” the band played out a standard string of songs before a fiery “Antelope” closed shop. Nothing mattered after “Tweezer”—it was clearly all gravy—but with no supporting meat less a gorgeous “Architect,” I can’t place this show any higher than third.

I: Chalk Dust Torture, Camel Walk, Sparkle, Back on the Train, It’s Ice, Brian and Robert, Yarmouth Road, Kill Devil Falls, Lawn Boy, Ocelot, Stash

II: Tweezer, Tela, Twist,  Architect,  Bouncing Around the Room, Run Like an Antelope

E: Julius > Tweezer Reprise

***

2) 8.31.13 Dick’s, Commerce City, CO

8/31 Official (K.Taylor)

8/31 Official (K.Taylor)

Providing stiff competition for the show of the year, the second night at Dick’s, however, lands in second. Bottom line, the second set isn’t perfect, and I’ve got to give the nod to perfection. But there is a hell of a lot to discuss here, starting with “Chalk Dust.” The most innovative and original jam of the year anchored this performance, and was supported by a gargantuan, late-set “Tweezer.” But in between, though they were minor, the set had a few flaws. Firstly, “Light” had reached a crazy, original plane that was steeped in the creativity of “Chalk Dust” when Trey decided to chop it for a standard run through “46 Days.” Honestly, I didn’t notice the abruptness of this change in the live setting because the show was staggering up to that point, but on listen back, it’s just not smooth. “Steam” and “Free,” though great live, provide little playback value and a “Number Line” closer is nobody’s friend. However, despite these minor bumps in the road, the band’s playing was incredible all night long, earning this night the second slot of summer.

The first set of this performance certainly helped land this show over Tahoe. A 90-minute affair filled with choice, high-energy selections set the table for the massive second half. Throw in a couple rarities in “Buried Alive” and Fee,” and everyone was all smiles at setbreak.

I: Buried Alive, AC/DC Bag > Wolfman’s Brother, Yarmouth Road, Fee > Halfway to the Moon, The Wedge, Halley’s Comet > Bathtub Gin, Bouncing Around the Room, Mound, Gumbo > Run Like an Antelope

II: Chalk Dust Torture, Light > 46 Days > Steam -> Free, Joy > Also Sprach Zarathustra > Tweezer > Backwards Down the Number Line

E: On the Road Again > Tweezer Reprise

***

1) 7.27.13 The Gorge, George, Washington

7/27 Official (DKNG)

7/27 Official (DKNG)

Phish’s second performance at the Gorge earns the top slot of summer due to its impeccable flow and perfect second set. Seldom does Phish offer a set of music with zero stumbles, hesitations or miscommunications, however at the Gorge, they attained perfection. From the opening note of “Disease” through the final note of “Antelope,” this set moved with a criminal smoothness and—literally—never hit a bump in the road. Featuring seamless segues between “Disease” and “Undermind,” “Light” and “Sally,” and “Sally” and “2001,” this set contained non-stop action, flow galore and great setlist calls throughout. The band spent almost the entire set in an improvisational space and threw down tour highlights of “Disease > Undermind” and “Sally > 2001,” including one of the jams of tour in “Undermind.” It felt like the band started this set, and then it ended, as there was no break in the action and never a moment to lose focus of the stage. We hung out in the pavilion for as long as permitted after this one ended—it was one of those special nights at the Columbia River Gorge.

The band eased into their second show at the outdoor mecca with a mellow, afternoon vibe in the trifecta of “Architect,” “Golgi,” and the only “Curtain With” of tour. The band worked in some standard rotation songs before debuting Gordon’s “Say Something” and capping the set with the Americana pairing of “Ocelot” and “After Midnight.” The first set was above average for this summer, and paired with a flawless second, the band’s July 27th show at the Gorge takes home the season’s top billing.

I: Architect, Golgi Apparatus, The Curtain With, Kill Devil Falls > The Moma Dance > Maze, Beauty of a Broken Heart, Roses Are Free, Say Something, Ocelot, After Midnight

II: Down with Disease -> Undermind > Light -> Sneakin’ Sally Through the Alley > Also Sprach Zarathustra > Walls of the Cave > Fluffhead, Run Like an Antelope

E: Show of Life > Good Times Bad Times

 

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