Mixed Up in the Midway

The Gorge (G.Lucas)

The Gorge (G.Lucas)

In the Windy City on Tuesday night, Phish put forth a discombobulated effort that featured legitimate individual jams but flowed like a pile of bricks.  In a second set that didn’t really work, it seemed as though Phish had the pieces of a great jigsaw puzzle, but just couldn’t fit them together correctly.  Pulling out a random assortment of songs in no apparent order or connection, Phish played a second set that sounded more like a mix tape than a live show.  Not to take away from some of the higher moments of the night, they just happened individually with no real relationship to their neighbors in the set.  The jumbled effort will likely go down as the “weakest” show of summer’s second leg, but given what’s been going down the last few weeks, everything is relative.

The Gorge (G.Lucas)

The Gorge (G.Lucas)

That being said, the band opened the second set with the most significant “Number Line” to date; a jam that built off the Gorge’s version, and went far beyond.  The band seems dedicated to using this as a consistent vehicle moving forward, and if the jams are like last night’s- that’s fine with me.  Taking the piece out into its most exploratory and uncharted psychedelic planes yet, Phish got into some slowed down, deeper grooves before this one was cut off a bit too soon.  Moving through the murkiness into more transcendent territory, it seemed that the “2001” that was hanging in Washington might emerge from this jam.  But as the music was passing through a mind-expanding canvas, Trey executed the jam with the ripping chords of “Carini.”  While it was awesome to hear “Carini,” the jolt seemed unnecessary given their organic jamming these days, and they could have gotten there far more creatively.  Nonetheless, as the bombastic song got going, the intensity was something to behold.  While not necessarily longer than normal, the peak of the long-awaited 3.0 debut was monumental- possibly one of those “you had to be there moments”- as i have not yet heard the tapes.

Shoreline (W.Rogell)

Shoreline (W.Rogell)

Just as abruptly as it started, Phish ended their dense, growling excursion with an odd switch into “Gotta Jibboo.”  Yet, once again, once the jam got going, Phish shredded it to pieces.  Boasting exciting dance grooves and soaring work by Trey, this rendition was yet another highlight of this awkward set.  The mid-set “Theme,” “Wilson,” seemed like we were briefly transplanted into some random first set, and after forgoing endless creative places to drop “2001” over the past few shows, Phish chose this bizarre, disconnected point to let it fly.  Yet when it did, the wide-open funk no-doubt brought some late set euphoria.  Blasting into an shredding late-set “Chalk Dust,” everything just seemed out of place- wait, have I mentioned that?

Shoreline (W.Rogell)

Shoreline (W.Rogell)

But as Phish started “Harry Hood” it was like a soft blanket catching us at the end of some strange trip, and as the band set their improvisational course, this one didn’t follow the norm.  Taking the jam on a more ambient, impressionistic path, Phish crafted a unique highlight at the end of an odd night on the South Side of Chicago.  While a Phish show is usually greater than the sum of its parts- this one wasn’t.  In fact, it was exactly a sum of its disjointed parts.  Without very little dramatic and flowing improv that we’ve all of a sudden gotten used to, the entire set felt choppy and poorly presented, albeit well-played.  But hey, all of a sudden, we are spoiled!

As we enter the last four night-run of tour, Phish is sure to turn things up a notch as they pull back into the Northeast corridor.  With four classic sheds hosting the last nights of a special summer, the final weekend is sure to be woven with tales of wonder.  Darien > Hartford > Merriweather > SPAC-  these should be heavy hitters.  I’ll see you there.

Set One Notes: In what was a virtual consensus for weakest set of tour, Phish never really got it going in the first frame.  The only real pieces of note would be the third song “Ocelot,” whose jam crept into familiar territory, and “The Curtain (With)” with another huge, standout version of “(With).”  For those of you counting bust-outs, the band played an early “Paul and Silas” for the first time in nine years (Worcester 11.29.98).  In addition, the band debuted a new Page song called “Windy City,” a slow-moving blues song that seemed like it wasn’t of Phish caliber.  A solid ‘Time Turns Elastic” closed.

I: Kill Devil Falls, Sample In A Jar, Ocelot, Paul and Silas, Windy City*, The Curtain (With), Train Song, Gumbo, Heavy Things, Time Turns Elastic

II: Backwards Down The Number Line > Carini > Gotta Jibboo, Theme From The Bottom, Wilson, 2001 > Chalk Dust Torture, Harry Hood, The Squirming Coil

E: Loving Cup

*debut

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551 Responses to “Mixed Up in the Midway”

  1. larry bird flu Says:

    all right brahcelots, time to go pick and get some last minute supplies before i start this little run
    4 shows
    4 nights
    3 states
    1600 miles
    see you on the other side everyone. if anyones doing darien tommorow, look for me 6’5 dude wearing an “are you serious” tshirt and a too large beer gut

  2. Mr. Completely Says:

    have fun larry and yeah good luck COTTLE

  3. cottle Says:

    Thanks Voopa! It wouldn’t be so bad if they hadn’t waited until the day before we leave town to drop this on me. The good news is, no matter what happens, I get to see Phish play this weekend! If I have to make the trip alone, then at least I’ll have another tour story to add to the collection.

  4. cottle Says:

    ^and Mr. C!

  5. DaNcInG fOoL Says:

    so i haven’t been to an outdoor concert in a while, will i be fine in say pants and a t-shirt? assuming it doesn’t rain

  6. cottle Says:

    If y’all no kids who will be at the show, but don’t have a place to crash, give them my number. It’s the Hartford Hilton, and the Staybridge Suites in Columbia…plenty of room.

  7. Mr. Completely Says:

    f0ol, strict rule at phish shows is t-shirt, no pants. start of set 1, everyone removes pants. Do NOT forget this.

    Hey – are there a fucking billion Grateful Dead shirts at every show now? There were at the Gorge. I’m the biggest deadhead I know and I thought it seemed odd. I wore Dr. Seuss the first night and Coltrane the second, but it never crossed my mind to wear the Dead.

  8. larry bird flu Says:

    hey cottle i got no place to crash in hartford. i might take you up on that

  9. DaNcInG fOoL Says:

    lol thanks for the advice completely. i see you are being very advanced now with your italics and indented quotes.

  10. DaNcInG fOoL Says:

    i was just wondering if it would get too hot with pants or too cold with shorts

  11. KWL Says:

    @cottle I might be interested in the Columbia hotel room, but I’m not at home & gotta run right now so send me the details at keith_lindner [at] yahoo [dot] com & I can email or call you at some point.

  12. butter Says:

    @YEA MR. C – us dead heads represented good at the Gorge huh?

  13. Mr. Completely Says:

    i see you are being very advanced now with your italics and indented quotes.

    Wax’s posts make me jealous enough given that he can actually talk about music using correct terminology, I have to keep up somehow.

    Was just curious, as professional web geek

  14. DaNcInG fOoL Says:

    lol but now you look just as condescending as he does

  15. Mr. Completely Says:

    I have had several t-shirt ideas for combining Phish and GD iconography but none of them express the concept correctly yet, still pondering it – I’d like to convey that the Dead started it and Phish have evolved it further without implying one is superior to the other

  16. Nissl Says:

    Quick hits from the thread today.

    1. The discussion started off pretty poorly, which tends to happen when you have a show that is probably not going to wind up ranked best of tour following a run of shows that are competing for best of tour. The intense experience you can get at virtually every Phish show these days is the gasoline. The spark as Lyc said is always tone and wording. On the internet where you can’t read body language or voice tone it’s so easy to go over that line even if you don’t intend to. Good recovery by all involved anyway.

    2. Drugs on tour. At least what I’m seeing this year (west coast only, admittedly) isn’t coke and opiates as in ’03-’04. Scene is much cleaner. As for the L versus Molly debate, I will say that I have more frequent problems with people on e or alcohol (bumping, talking) than the occasional spunion, but the spun cause bigger problems when things do get out of hand.

    Hopefully this doesn’t produce more flaming, but I guess I might as well be fully candid here and commit hippie sacrilege by admitting I would prefer to see all of that stuff gone. I’m rapidly moving to the position that the benefits of psychedelics are substantially oversold in the counterculture community and the vast majority of people are going to be better off sticking to a little weed (or sobriety!) and doing heavy introspective work in a non-concert environment (sober or otherwise). Just saw too many out of touch with reality people at the Gorge that were almost certainly tripping to feel otherwise. Even on a good trip you are highly distractable and not as in touch with your surroundings as would be ideal.

    Now I get that it’s obviously important as far as what happens at shows that people’s ego boundaries come down a little. I just think psychedelics are a short-term crutch to produce that effect and have more drawbacks than people would like to admit.

  17. ThePigSong Says:

    I enjoyed the second set as far as I got. (Chalk Dust) Started at P&S for set one, sounds way better than I expected with so many “so so” reviews.

    Oh and imagine being the guy that requested Paul and Silas!!

  18. Nissl Says:

    P.S. Looking forward to checking out Chicago tonight. From all the reviews it sounds like they maintained the improvement in playing/cohesion they seemed to have produced this leg, just that they did not take things way out there.

  19. butter Says:

    Just got to Buffalo, wow this off day will be great to sleep. This legs 2/3 done, i can only dream of what’s too come.

  20. Mr. Completely Says:

    @Nissl – you bring up a heavy point, and a more complex one than I have time for at the moment in full. however:

    psychedelics are a shortcut to peak experience. most of us need that shortcut to be able to experience the peak for the first time, and many times after that. Eventually it’s good to learn how to do that without the crutch. And most people who get into tripping do spend far to long spun far out of their gourds in a way that isn’t really helpful.

    that being said I do disagree with this statement:
    “Even on a good trip you are highly distractable and not as in touch with your surroundings as would be ideal.”

    Really depends on the person and the trip. I find that dosing actually has the absolute opposite effect now, as long as I’m somewhere where there’s only one thing happening. Rather than making me distractable, it makes “me” totally vanish – my internal psychology, all the distractions of self-talk and the things that go with being an individual human, the walls of separation – they just crash to the ground and I find myself being a perfect mirror and conduit for energy. I can get there without the dose, but with the dose it’s easier and much stronger – though also much more exhausting.

    I do totally hear where you’re coming from though. I had a continual series of very psychedelic experiences at the Gorge and never hit anything harder than a heady spliff.

  21. sumodie Says:

    @Nissl: While I do not agree with everything said, it’s nice adding another voice to the mix. We could have interesting discussion on the nature of reality, but then I’d be here forever!

    Now that I’m back in Mass, I wonder whether the Gorge really exists? No telling what those west coasters pump into the atmosphere. 🙂

  22. butter Says:

    wow , here we go

  23. Mr. Completely Says:

    i guess it depends on what you think the proper function of a phish show is:

    music appreciation? personal transformation? both?

    and what you think psychedelics actually do:

    provoke hallucinations? reveal true reality? both?

  24. GuitarPicker420! Says:

    Hey guys, thanks for all the talk about the Warlocks shows. I just threw in a DVD of 10-9-89 that I got off of TTD a few years ago and I forgot how nice it really is. SBD audio patched over single-cam. Obviously on a tri-pod, a bit grainy in 1080p (up-converted) on the big screen, but what isn’t going to be? Wish they did some more wide-angle, but worth it to anybody to try to seek out. I would offer it up, but my ability to copy DVD’s ended with my divorce as my laptop doesn’t seem to want to do that properly and I’m not buying a new one until this one craps out.

  25. GuitarPicker420! Says:

    @Mr.C – You missed the main reason that I go to a Phish show, the reason I have logged tens of thousands of miles for shows….to have a bitchin good time. All that other stuff is secondary, maybe just a possibility depending on what you need. Most of the time now though, I just want to dance my ass off for 3 hours. Last night did that for me just fine!

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