Chocolate Thunder

6.12.10 (M.Stein)

Phish added a large piece to their legacy in Hershey, Pennsylvania last night, throwing down a bass-led massacre in Chocolate City. Throughout two sets of pure Phish fire, Mike took center stage, leading the band through an array of creative jams in which Trey played noticeably more subtle, laid back offerings all night long. Boasting an enhanced creativity through more diverse playing, Trey helped sculpt a show that certainly upped the ante for the rest of the summer. With a bombastic second set and a stellar first, Phish capped the weekend with their strongest overall performance of this summer, which – although hard to believe – has only just begun!

As the sun shone though the clouds of the early evening, Phish came on stage flying high with a groovy greeting of “Jibboo.” Entering the song’s candy grooves, Mike’s presence was immediately felt as his thumping lines bounced though the the wide open field like a kangaroo in the outback. Setting the tone for the show, both Trey wove his lines around his cohort’s leads, eventually bringing the jam to a searing peak of his own. But following the late-’90s TAB transplant, the rest of the first set took on a pronounced old-school persona. While barreling through a roaring, yet intricate, “Chalkdust,” it became very apparent only three shows into tour, regardless of what songs Phish is playing these days, they are simply destroying them all. With a tightness that sounds foreign after the late-’90’s groove era and post-hiatus’ more abstract improv, seeing Phish 2010 is like seeing a renewed band– a bandone that wants to be exactly where it is once again and is having a blast doing IT.

6.12.10 (M.Stein)

The retro-vibe continued with a massive first set “Fluffhead,” showcasing the the pin-point accuracy of Phish’s chops and the intense tension and release that comes along with such precision. Infused with a undeniable urgency, “Fluff” illustrated that the band can once again toy with energy like children in a sandbox, manipulating music as if it were a tangible object. After a seriously cathartic peak, the band dropped into the now-rare “Funky Bitch,” annihilating a version that brought the crowd energy to ferocious first-set heights. From this early point in the show, it became wholly evident that Phish was feeling the flow, likening Loony Tunes’ Tasmanian Devil, taking out anything and everything that stood in their path.

6.12.10 (L.Neuhaus)

Phish continued their scorching opening sequence with the most engaging “Runaway Jim” since their comeback. While remaining within the song’s structure, the entire band oozed creativity as they chugged through the jam. Trey offered delicate licks as opposed to face-melting leads, a pattern that held true for much of the night’s music. This “Jim” proved that the little doggie can still inspire greatness, something it hadn’t yet done this go-round. The show’s only relative lull came in the five-song sequence of “NICU,” “Horn,” “It’s Ice,” “Bouncin” and “Sparkle,” but Phish came right back, punctuating their spirited frame with a demonically abstract “Split Open and Melt.” A version that grew outwards as quickly as it pushed forward, the band, collectively, built a hypnotizing, discordant gem that saw Trey favor tonal bends and washes of psychedelia rather than forceful linear leads. A version that needed a re-listen to truly digest, Phish tapped into a demented realm of darkness as night fell upon setbreak.

Building on the well-crafted second sets of the past two nights, Phish came out in Hershey’s with a musical stanza that flowed impeccably. Lacing together several of their “greatest hits” with creative bass-led improv that just never stopped, Phish crushed a classic frame from the opening note to the last. First the setlist – “Drowned > Tweezer > Twist, Piper > Free, Velvet Sea, YEM” – booyakasha! Or as MC Hammer once sang, “Can’t touch this!” And the playing within matched the absurdity of the visual setlist, one imaginative piece after another.

6.12.10 (L.Neuhaus)

The most expansive jam of the evening came right out of the gates in a multi-faceted jaunt through “Drowned.” Out of the jam’s shredding rock textures, Phish slowed it down into a heart-tugging segment of transcendent psychedelia. And, even in this mellow realm, the band molded their experimentation with Mike at the center of the music. Moving through this ethereal palette as if a daydream, the band soon pushed into a series of lively percussive grooves. Moving in the direction of a dance party, the band wound the jam directly into the first “Tweezer” of 2010. Entering a series of dense liquid patterns, Phish molded a heavy space-aged sequence that seemed that it might launch into the stratosphere. But, ironically, when the dust settled, “Tweezer” stood out as the least exploratory jam of the second set, remaining a showcase for Gordon’s thunder, while Trey spat nasty licks, bringing a snarling element to mix.

6.12.10 (L.Neuhaus)

Following an extended build, the band settled into an ambient section that soon segued  into “Twist.” With some of the best interplay between Trey and Mike all night, it was a relief to see Phish take”Twist” for a significant ride once again. With shorter, staccato-esque licks, Trey darted in and around Mike’s heavily effected basslines, creating a musical game of cat and mouse. Boasting sizzling chops, the entire band moved with intent, collectively manifesting a slamming piece of interlocked dance music. It seems that each time Phish busts out a song right now, they are topping any previous 3.0 version, and this pattern certainly held true with “Twist.” And then, after a momentary pause, Phish breathed life into the year’s first “Piper” –  an immediately exciting proposition, after the song’s stellar 2009. On this night, the band chugged right out of the searing composed jam into one of the night’s most compelling adventures. With a take-no-prisoners attitude, the band careened into a rollicking case of musical density, following on the heels of Miami’s standout excursion. This “Piper” continued pushing the ceiling for the piece’s modern potential, and became another vivid illustration of everything right in current Phish universe.

Splashing down in “Free,” the time seemed ripe for Phish to take the song to town once again. But in the end, “Free” seems like a song whose purpose has changed permanently from jam vehicle to landing pad in this era, and some things we just must accept. Following the relentless opening hour of the set, Phish used “Velvet Sea” to set up a closing “YEM” that brought the house to its knees with its laid back funk fantasy. Again taking a minimalist approach, Trey sat way back, issuing swanky tickets for Gordon’s multiple bass violations. An example of what “YEM” can be when given the tender loving care it deserves, this version just built on the strong Fall ’09 renditions, providing an indelible exclamation point on a evening of modern legend.

With three shows down and fifteen to go, the sky is once again the limit for Phish shows, a place where the extraordinary music once again happens with alarming regularity. Even though the temperatures can’t get much hotter on Summer Tour 2010, the mercury of the music is rising faster than ever. Look Out, Portsmouth, there’s a storm coming through.

I: Gotta Jibboo, Chalk Dust Torture, Fluffhead, Funky Bitch, Runaway Jim, NICU, Horn, It’s Ice, Bouncing Around the Room, Sparkle, Split Open and Melt

II: Drowned > Tweezer > Twist, Piper > Free, Wading in the Velvet Sea, You Enjoy Myself

E: Bold As Love

***

6.12.10 - Blossom Music Center (L.Neuhaus)

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1,428 Responses to “Chocolate Thunder”

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  1. Dr. Pronoia Says:

    I guess having rehearsed their chops back to surgeon-like precision, and with a stable sobriety (we all hope) providing the foundation of night-to-night enthusiasm, we may just be able to expect that the band can slaughter any tune they decide to play after getting their legs back under them in 2009. Wouldn’t surprise me if they quickly get to feel that way with jamming too; they’ll jam something out when THEY want to.

    A great feeling. I’m very envious of those who’ve seen these past three shows. Friday’s Hartford can’t come soon enough…

  2. Lifeboy Says:

    “issuing tickets for Gordon’s multiple bass violations”
    Love it.

    Thank you Mr. Miner

  3. c0wfunk Says:

    great review!

    ‘“Fluff” illustrated that the band can once again toy with energy like children in a sandbox, manipulating music as if it were a tangible object. ‘

    ..Yeah yeah!

    ‘it became wholly evident that Phish was feeling the flow, likening Loony Tunes’ Tasmanian Devil, taking out anything and everything that stood in their path.’

    ..Go man Go!!

    ‘Even though the temperatures can’t get much hotter on Summer Tour 2010, the mercury of the music is rising faster than ever.’

    ..after 3 shows the metaphors still flow as fluid as ever. Miner Feelin It in a big way. Big Summer Happening Now!

  4. albert walker Says:

    interesting take

    few cats I talked to said the show was a great and tight show but the improv was fairly contained

    can’t wait to see how it sounds on tape

  5. SillyWilly Says:

    Damn, i wish i was there.

  6. kayatosh Says:

    Hershey, folks, was amazing — no new tunes, one cover for the encore, and a second set throwdown. Beautiful venue, beautiful sunset. No hassles once inside. Can’t wait to read miner’s review.

    Thanks to all the BB crew who were there last night — Robear, Mitch and Mrs. mitch, Lutherjustice, neemor, Butter, butetr’s brothert, bigG -0- you guys are a lot of fun. It was great meeting you. I am blown away by this community.

    Special thanks to gavin’sdad for all his skills and kindness. Thank you for a real good time. Hope you got back to NJ OK.

  7. SillyWilly Says:

    going to work in the middle of Phish tour blows.

  8. roasteroo Says:

    Where will the reprise show up?

  9. angryjoggerz Says:

    Trey sat way back, issuing swanky tickets for Gordon’s multiple bass violations

  10. angryjoggerz Says:

    Glad to see the first 3 were off the chain. I am still reeling from Chicago, listened back like 5 times already. Checked out Blossom yesterday, BDTNL is just sickness. Some good things happening already, and the band has a really good, clean, tight sound. The sbrds are nice as well, with MIKE in the MIX. And lastly, welcome home, Fishman!

  11. lastwaltzer Says:

    Morning All!

    I’ll have to wait until tonight to give this a listen. Got through blossom yesterday and am wondering: did they change a lot of the parts in TTE? Seemed rejuvenated.

    Really enjoyed the weekpaug for the first time in 3.0 as well good stuff. And as AJ stated the BDTNL gets to some real interesting places.

  12. albert walker Says:

    off to work kids
    gonna be busy no posting probably this week

    kind of weird eating Hershey tix and coming back for when I could have gone

    getting old and responsible I guess. the 5 show west coast run in leg II probably makes it a little easier

    I hated sounding like bitchin last year but most of my complaints were gone this weekend. I just wanted the band to be successful and was a little worried

    all the flubs, weak sets, and safe jamming has seemed to subside and 2010 sounds a lot more like the band we love

    2009 (thankfully in a lot of ways) is in the past and the real boys have come out to play

    by the end of this second leg it seems the sky is the limit

    have fun on tour kids
    laterz

  13. G-Man Says:

    PLEASE READ:

    The last thing I want to do is spead negative vibes, especially with how great the band is playing, but there is a growing problem in the Phish scene and something must be done.

    As kindly as possible, please encourage as many people as you can to be quiet while the band is playing. I’m not saying silence, I’m all for yelling, screaming, enthusiatic greetings of friends you haven’t seen in a while, sharing the random thoughts that pop into your head while grooving out, but there seems to be a growing number of people who talk loudly through the entire show. Seriously, I didn’t travel all this way and pay all this money to listen to you blather on about your boring life. Some of us (most) are trying to hear the band, and when I say hear the band, I mean we want to get lost in every note, every subtle intonation and I can’t hear over your incessant chatter. Please STFU while the band is playing! Is that kind enough? Too harsh?

  14. BeantownBoy Says:

    Actually looked forward to getting into work this Monday to download the shows and start this week off right.

    I share the sentiments of the guy in the No Spoiler’s Chicago show when DWD starts he just yells, “You have to be shi!ting me!”.

    Touche.

    Welcome back to tour, friends.

    8 days till Great Woods!

  15. kayatosh Says:

    No ticket required last night. I had one but didn’t use it. I walked right into the venue through a large crack in the perimeter and then walked out not knowing that I had been “in.” Thankfully, the shrewd and seasoned gavin’sdad clued me in. He said something to the effect, “I think you were inside.” We then both proceeded to walk right in following neemor, mitch and company.

  16. lastwaltzer Says:

    “Please STFU while the band is playing! Is that kind enough? Too harsh?”

    A little bit harsh dude. I realize that this is a phish site and the people you herd talking were at a phish show but thats the end of the connection. From what I’ve learned of the people who frequent this site they aren’t the ones talking. Were all trying to get lost in the music just like you.

  17. KWL Says:

    hey folks

    we’re famous! L Neuhaus is the special lady friend–she did some nice photo work i must say. click my name for a few more Blossom pics

    just listened to set II from last night no spoilers style–pretty nice!! really love where these guys are at. as AW said, sky is the limit as we move forward.

  18. G-Man Says:

    Sorry. Not at all directed at anyone here. Just sharing my frustrations and hoping the phans here would help encourage those around them to quiet down and listen a little.

  19. nonoyolker Says:

    Loving the past 3 write ups miner, what a great era we live in where you can get a detailed review from the scene by a dedicated reporter and download the SBDs within hours of the show. Definitely helps the sting of not being there in person.

    For this dude, I quick dip down to Winston/Salem for work tomorrow/wed, then off to link up with the circus in Hartford on thu. Can’t wait!

  20. Willowed Says:

    Not only do I love the reviews from the shows but I love all the relationships that are being created.
    BB’rs seeing shows together
    Meet Ups in the lot
    BTB Fests and such
    This is what the Phish scene is all about. Community.
    This truly is a special place and I can’t wait to experience it with you in Hartford, SPAC and GW!!

  21. lastwaltzer Says:

    @KWL,

    Love the second to last picture, the inside of Blossom must of looked beautiful.

  22. Litteringand Says:

    @Gman
    I let go on this subject a couple of days ago. I do not think it’s too harsh. Side note- I am all about the “jam”,but I also go to see phish for-

    “The show’s only relative lull came in the five-song sequence of “NICU,” “Horn,” “It’s Ice,” “Bouncin” and “Sparkle,”

    -Just my opinion.

  23. SillyWilly Says:

    yo, KWL, great shaking your hand this weekend.

    wish we could have talked longer. We didn’t get out of Chicago until about 8 AM, and it took us a little longer than we had hoped. Then, I took off with Robear for the waterwheel and I missed out on a little hang out time.

    Anyway, great meeting you. See you on Leg 2!

  24. Wilson8or Says:

    I agree with Waltzer. Typically if someone is being annoying or chatty near me, I move. Besides, I listen for every note, and still enjoy talking to my friends about it while it happens. There’s so much to take in, so many sound angles that can blind certain bandmembers, that sometimes I have to listen to the boards anyway to hear the subtle nuances. Relax!

  25. kayatosh Says:

    I second that emotion, willowed. Blown away by the kindness of the people from this board.

    @Lw: “From what I’ve learned of the people who frequent this site they aren’t the ones talking. Were all trying to get lost in the music just like you.”

    true that. I would add the BBers are the ones throwin down on the dancefloor. Robear comes to mind. That guy throws down.

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