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”

  1. Mitch Says:

    wish i were going with you sumo! have a blast!

  2. Mr. Completely Says:

    pffffft totally go with screen names

  3. Mitch Says:

    do like i do. first name bb name, last name.

    that way i can still search them. helps me associate their real name to their board name too. not like i’ll actually call them their real name. 🙂

  4. joe Says:

    I’ll be up in the balcony, section 28 on Sunday night. You can find me by looking for the guy in a white boston bruins t-shirt doing the running man with a giagantic smile on my face.

  5. Mr. Completely Says:

    that’s what peeps seem to do in email contacts too

    I have gotten quite a bit of correspondence as “tyler completely” which cracks my wife up when it comes in the form of physical packages as it has a couple times now

  6. voopa Says:

    Hot Jim. Now NICU…gimme a break, guys!

  7. jdub Says:

    That Floydian feel in the middle of number line struck me as from “echoes” or “one of these days” maybe. Trey was seemingly pushing it with his guitar work. It must be there cause it struck me the first I listened yesterday and I just read back and noticed others feel the same.

  8. kayatosh Says:

    i went right for the number line and will work backwards. fishman clearly stepped it up for 2010. I hear it in the first few bars of this tune. he’s snappy again. and i agree with aw’s earlier point that it must be a lot easier to be a creative, confident drummer when your mates are makin changes as they should and maintaining tempo.

  9. sumodie Says:

    @joe: yup. nTelos is my bonus round. Couldn’t pass it up after realizing it was such an easy ticket yet the smallest outdoor venue PH has played in ages -just bought mine from TM yesterday (been avail from TM for almost a week now).

  10. sumodie Says:

    @mitch: yup, that’s the way I entered BBer names. gave me a good chuckle

  11. Mr. Completely Says:

    listening to that section right now @jdub

    just after 8:00 on the sbd is the cooldown to that part

    absolutely agree it is reminiscent of that circa 1970 signature midtempo Floyd spacey groove, esp. Mike’s throbbing pulse there…

    all it needs is a long howling Gilmour slide….Trey’s kind of playing a Rick Wright part until the end

    then towards the end Mike shifts out of hte pulse and they hit that heavy crashing BWEEEOW WAKKA WAKKA jam which is pure Phish music-of-the-future

    the past and the future, precisely divided

  12. BrandonKayda Says:

    I don’t think my name would be too hard to remember compared to my screen name – haha.

  13. sumodie Says:

    Heard that Forbin’s was soundchecked in Hershey. Hhmmm.

    Ignoring all that was played in the first 3 shows, there’s such an amazing number of tunes remaining that I would be very psyched to hear tomorrow.

  14. Mr. Completely Says:

    I could easily have dealt with another 10 minutes of wherever THAT was going is the only possible “complaint” I have

  15. DocGanz Says:

    48 hours and I’m on my way East! Can’t wait to hop on tour (Hartford through Camden) and meet a bunch of you guys (and gals) in person.

    Was thinking the critics were being too harsh last year re: the boards, but after listening to New Years and now Summer- damn! I stand corrected. They sound great!

    Also, just have to say, after reading comments on other sites and message boards during the show, it makes me appreciate everyone here and this thing weve got going even more (Much thanks to Miner!)- was feeling very disconnected with the scene at times during 2.0 and this site and all of you have helped me “feel the feeling I forgot…” Much thanks! See you all soon!

  16. Litteringand Says:

    Here’s to big 2001 for all who attend tomorrow

  17. kayatosh Says:

    wow that 6/12 # line is good. 7 to 8 mins. in, it leaves the ground. i hear the floyd too. gorgeous 5 minutes + of music. wow!!!!

  18. Mr. Completely Says:

    yeah the cooldown is right around 8′

    WHoooooo you all weren’t kidding about this Zero!

    definitely not an off the shelf version!


  19. flarrdogg Says:

    10/21/95! Sometimes I forget, but then I listen and remember. On a related note, whenever I have ‘phish dreams’ it almost always involves me sitting in on guitar (I don’t actually play) for the Good Time Bad Times> Tweeprise bridge and takes place at Jazz Fest on a sunny afternoon.

    Also, Light>Maze, Ghost>LimbxLimb from Chicago is the pinnacle of Phish 3.0 IMO. So damn good!

  20. Mr. Completely Says:

    anywhere from 1:30 to 4:00 longer than the other Zeros I have on this HD – not that time tells the story, but you know

  21. jdub Says:

    @Agreed C, that jam had my full attention and could’ve gone further and further into the stratospher and back again a few times. In due time.

    @Sumo, have a blast in Portsmouth and safe travels. Plenty to still make nTelos fresh and raging. May get a real hidden gem of a show with some key launch vehicles lurking around. My guess is they pull a top notch jam out of nowhere in set 2 a la Miami BOTT.

  22. flarrdogg Says:

    y’all listening to Blossom?

  23. Mr. Completely Says:

    midweek semi-sleeper shows are an old tradition, you know

    more reliable if it’s out in Bumfuck Utah or wherever, but still

  24. gavinsdad Says:

    sumodie you’re in my phone as {your first name} sumodie. i do a little half and half dealie.

    so, i was left a present from northern california last nite and a light dusting of it moments ago just got me banerated. fuckin a. clifford ball mikes>simple for bouncin fan

    then hershey up next.

  25. Mr. Completely Says:

    yeah we’ve been jumping around @flarr, current topic was Cleveland Numberline which is compact but $$

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