Whether introspective or communal; comical or transcendental, moments are the patchwork that compose the quilt of the Phish experience. During shows, moments occur more quickly than normal life- one after another colliding with your reality, altering it time and time again. On Monday we looked at a some of these timeless experiences from the northeast run, and today, we turn to the second part of June- the south. Starting in Asheville, stopping in Knoxville, and playing two at Bonnaroo; this was a highly anticipated run of shows. The following are a few parts of the week that standout in most everyone’s memory.
“Ghost” Asheville Civic Center, 6.9 II
The vibe of this show- and its entire day- was the by far the most laid back of tour. The venue was as relaxed as Asheville itself, as people navigated the GA floor with ample room and they provided a smoking section that overlooked the mountains to puff as much as you wanted at setbreak. A pleasant experience all around turned into a twisted psychedelic dream early in the second set when “Ghost” started. Following a Jones Beach version that was a highlight of the northeast, this drop into this “Ghost” brought much anticipation.
The intimate crowd drew silent (despite the copious beverage stations on the floor) as the Phish crept into the jam, sensing something was at hand. Coming out with a non-conventional rhythm, Fish directed the course of this improv from the get go, taking it directions divergent from the song’s usual groove-fest. His abstract beat drew eclectic bass lines and unique phrasings by Trey and Page, providing the anchor of a unique initial canvas. The band did catch a groove after all, carving a unique path of improvisation along the way. Transforming the music into a soaring piece that fused engaging melodies with crafty beats, Phish gradually and extensively peaked the jam with an entire section of improv. The whole band was on point as Trey let loose with some of his most sublime playing of tour, cascading surreal melodies as effortlessly as a spring waterfall. As the band descended from the mountain top, they oozed into into a perfectly placed pool of “Fast Enough For You.” This was a peak experience for everyone in that tiny venue- just ask them.
“Kill Devil Falls” 6.12, Bonnaroo Late-Night
In a tour whose jams had remained largely inside the box, it was quite ironic that Phish’s most straight-forward new song provided one of the most thrilling rides of the month. It was debated how Phish would present themselves to the over-sized Bonnaroo audience, and after “Stash” went into “listener-unfriendly” territory, things were looking up. But they just kept playing song after song, and all this seemed like was another rock and roll addition to the set.
When the composition turned the corner into the jam, everyone bobbed along with the timeless Chuck Berry-esque sound. As Trey began his solo over a standard groove, nobody knew where this was heading. Taking the rock and roll path out the back door, Trey started to extend his notes into drawn out sheets of sound, giving the band enough of a hint to hop on and follow his lead. In one of those disorienting “What song is this?” moments, it didn’t take long before we were far away from the blues-rock launch pad and into some purely Phishy territory. Halfway through their late-night Bonnaroo set, the band took one of the first and only trips to their outer improvisational realms without morphing into an ambient jam. This was Phish taking things back to the source using some fierce interplay that grew innocently and organically from a newbie. Multiple parallels have been drawn between this jam and the famous Camden Chalk Dust from ’99- and rightfully so. Both stem from similar springboards and carry a certain driving energy into a high-speed, spirited peak. We all needed an old-school Scooby-Doo double-take when all was done, as we couldn’t believe the most psychedelic jam of the show came out of “Kill Devil Falls.”
“Harry Hood” Knoxville, TN 6.10 II
After one of tour’s strongest shows had- by all rights- ended three times already with “Hello My Baby,” “Julius,” and “Cavern,” the band shocked everyone by dropping into the opening reggae rhythms of “Harry Hood.” Getting that shot of adrenaline, my mind instantly refocused after having already moved on to the encore. As much an experiential moment as a musical one, this “Hood” capped a huge night in Tennessee, and a smoking second set. Typical of the focused and triumphant “Hoods” of June, this one did not disappoint. Featuring active interaction by all band members, the improv was highlighted by the incredibly dynamic conversation by Trey and Mike.
While this version wasn’t as drawn out or exploratory as some of the others of tour, it provided an emotional exclamation point to a standout show when everyone least expected it. Moments don’t always have to come from the depths of a show, and this succinct, yet poignant, “Hood” that came out of left field will back me on that one.
LISTEN TO 6.10′s “HARRY HOOD” NOW!
NEW “LISTEN NOW” FORMAT!
I’m sure you’ve noticed the new format for “Listen Nows,” featured in today’s and yesterday’s posts. Instead of having that ugly ad-laced audio player, we’ve now got a sharp little Flash player for all the tracks. But wait- there’s more!
Let’s say you finish listening to a jam and think, “Wow! Miner’s onto something here- I’ve gotta have that track! All you need to do is click the orange song link in the title line of the “Listen Now” and you will download it right to your computer. No need to “right click and save as”- just click the link and accept the file. I hope you enjoy this new feature of the site, and much props to Alexander K. for the technological work. (I will be replacing old links with this new feature as well.)
DOWNLOAD OF TOMORROW:
We were going to finish out June’s tour with Alpine’s 6.20 show today, but after technological mishaps continued into the night, I figured it wasn’t meant to be. I’ll get that final show up tomorrow. Cheers.