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. meatsticktime Says:

    Not reading through all the pages but how could you NOT mention that Tweezer Reprise was NOT play??? Oh the humanity…

  2. joe Says:

    ok, work is almost done here. My “weekend” starts now, followed by a brief stop into work on Thursday morning and then a real weekend in Saratoga. So, for those keeping score. Number of Days that I have to work in the next week=2(counting next Monday. Number of times seeing Phish in the next 8 days=3, maybe 4 depending on the celtics. I’d say that’s a good ratio. Hope to see some of you cats around the lots/shows. How will I know it’s you. I just will.

  3. flarrdogg Says:

    Exciting time to be a phan. I am positively impressed by everything I’ve heard thus far. Great #line and hints at even greater things to come.

    How about the sound and mix on the boards?!?! Mike F-ing Gordon ladies and gents!

  4. c0wfunk Says:

    numberline jam of the tour so far to me .. love that space they get into there

  5. Mr. Completely Says:

    similar to the Zero, this Julius brings high level heat in a song I usually am a little on the meh side for.

  6. flarrdogg Says:

    Curious about when a bunch of y’all became acquainted this weekend, did you use blackboard handles or real names? Must be hard to refer to Luther Justice as Bob (not his real name).

  7. Mr. Completely Says:

    hahahaha c0w I knew you’d love that jam you Mr. Early Pink Floyd Spaceman you!

    yeah, it’s great

    Ghost > Limb is the peak for me so far buit it’s all good or even great

  8. gavinsdad Says:

    getting paranoid about skipping the skip show.

    nTelas gets the gamehendge?

  9. Mr. Completely Says:

    I think it depends on the person @flarr

    certain characters such as SOAM, Phamily Berzerker and Luther Justice have such strong associations in my mind between their online handle and their persona I can’t see how I can separate them

  10. Mr. Completely Says:

    right man

    first set is all of the “GH related” songs like Llama one right after the other

    second set GH straight through

    you are doomed

  11. oneshowatatime Says:

    WOW. Just got through Backwards Down The Number Line> Twenty Years Later and all I can say is HOLY SHIT. I can’t believe how far this band has come since ’09. Just comparing that BDTNL jam to any BDTNL jam from last year is impossible… and they’re just so ON all the way through the whole show.

    I’m so fucking excited for the Greek I can barely hold my poop in.

  12. lastwaltzer Says:

    “So the reason I don’t remember you being there is because you were mad quiet?
    Holy shit I was baked/drunk…
    Good thing I wasn’t driving.”


  13. Mr. Completely Says:

    /MrC really does think they’re going to drop a full GH set at least one more time but suspects it might be at a festi or something like that where they won’t mystify and possibly lose too many newbies

  14. c0wfunk Says:

    I do like the ghost .. it never really leaves “standard ghost” fare and the numberline jam is so far from its normal idiom that makes the difference to me

  15. Mr. Completely Says:

    is there really such a thing as “mad quiet” ?

  16. Uncle Jam Says:

    Weekapaug definitely best jam this tour

  17. Mr. Completely Says:

    a fair point sir

  18. c0wfunk Says:

    let me rephrase

    because the peak is standard

    but it stays in the ghost key, the bassline remains generally static, and after the peak they head back to the ghost land for a minute before it fades off iirc

  19. voopa Says:

    Ahh..Hershey SOAM is nice so far. Great sounding board.

  20. kayatosh Says:

    banerated. love it.

    “Numberline which is compact but $$” add two more dollar signs and i agree.

    took a detour through 6/12 weekapaug. it’s decent. fishman’s swingin it crisply. trey peeling off a lot of notes. i’ll take it.

    I don’t really care for the mike’s so much, though.

    gonna head to bed with 6/12 R&R. if i remember form my earlier listen this jam, too, is all about the second half.

    mad quiet’s when you’re quiet but you’re mad about it.

    peace yall.

  21. c0wfunk Says:

    peak “isn’t standard
    htat shoudl say

    I give up *sigh*

  22. c0wfunk Says:

    late night coffee and charlie parker here we go time to rock

  23. gavinsdad Says:

    could be the green pinecones i just smoked but this hershey split is just so tight. right out of the gate. cruise control.

    and one more vote for this mike in the mix on the lp sbds. holy shit.

    fun time last nite.

  24. kayatosh Says:

    Thanks again, GD. So glad to have been a part of IT. peace

  25. flarrdogg Says:

    Uncle Jam- I feel you on that Weekapaug. You boys are right on about # line also. Top shelf and is decidedly ‘out of the song’s structure’.

    In any given order:
    -#line>20 yrs later (an actual segue)

    All are great and signal the direction this thing is heading. To infinity and beyond!!

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