Since Phish came back last year, no song has been as consistently eventful as “Tweezer.” Old reliable, “Tweezer” has remained a central jam vehicle for the band’s entire career, and 3.0 has been no exception. A song that musically defines the unknown adventure that underlines the ethos of Phish, “Tweezer” has been one constant throughout the ages. In short, when “Tweezer” drops, it’s on. With an ability to travel divergent musical paths, “Tweezer” jams span the spectrum from addictive grooves to psychedelic infernos, and everything in between. Nothing in live music quite compares to full immersion in a “Tweezer” jam, hence every time its opening lick oozes from the speakers, heart rates jump and shows transform into gooey, futuristic dreamscapes. During Leg I of summer we tasted four different flavors of Phish’s famed launchpad. And here they are…
6.13 II – Hersheypark Stadium, Hershey, PA
Coming at the conclusion of a fluid “Drowned” jam, Hershey’s dance party got started for real when Phish unrolled the opening licks to the first “Tweezer” of summer. Staying within the song’s theme, Trey and Mike led a version that favored a heavy space groove, painted with swanky guitar licks calling to whales near and far. Mike’s bulbous lines ballooned from the PA and bounced off the rubberized dance floor alongside enraptured fans. Climbing slowly to a peak, this version never branched far from its roots, but between Mike and Trey’s co-leadership in the groove, it didn’t matter. Changing into a slower outro, Trey came in over the sonic mist with the beginning of “Twist.” This “Tweezer” set the tone for a flowing set of improv in which all jams toyed creatively with their original themes.
6.18 II – Comcast Theatre, Hartford, CT
Phish served this “Tweezer” as the main course of Hartford’s Friday night show. Smack in the middle of the second set, the band set their course for the Mesozoic era, mingling with dinosaurs in an episode of prehistoric funk. Stepping off the edge, Trey and Mike grabbed this jam by the jugular, subduing it with a series murderous crack-grooves. Once accomplishing their mission, Trey pulled back with the swankest of licks to admire their conquest. Mike joined his cohort as they trounced on through a bass-led jungle with five and six string machetes, respectively. Manifesting the whale amidst these torrid conditions, Trey sculpted the second part of this jam as “The Whale’s Jungle Quest.” Building upon an addictive pocket, the band forged a rhythmic path of fury to the mountaintop. Looking out over the dense forest, above the clouds, the band dropped into a sparse final pattern, signifying ultimate success. Sheathing their musical swords, Phish had won again, oozing into “Theme” to resolve the sonic trek.
6.26 II – Merriweather Post, Columbia, MD
If Hartford’s “Tweezer” traveled back to the land before time, Merriweather’s version descended directly into the center of the earth. Transforming from an aggressive guitar-led excursion into a menacing tale of evil, this version likened a life-lesson learned through a harrowing experience. Beginning in a slower and heavier texture, this version carried a menacing snarl from its inception. Mike’s bass-lines took a back seat to Trey’s guitar work, as Red grew horns while leading the band into a lava-filled underworld. This piece distinctly departed from “Tweezer’s” theme, entering a section of full-on demonic jamming. Mike’s methodical bass lines pounded the way down, as Trey’s guitar wailed in desperation, as if being pulled into hell by a mob of doomed souls. A retro-journey into the heart of psych-rock madness, the band allowed for a slow, effect-laden denouement before tastefully merging with “The Horse.”
7.3 II – Verizon Wireless, Alpharetta, GA
The final “Tweezer” of summer came in grand fashion, merging with “Slave” as the centerpiece of July 3. A quintessential dark-to-light journey, this version merged groove with melody masterfully. Beginning the jam with elephant funk of of the most refined variety, Trey broke through these liquid patterns, chopping in with a distorted effect. Leading the jam away from straight groove into a collaborative build that stayed largely within the context of “Tweezer’s” structure, Trey, again, showcased seriously passionate leads. Trey, Page, and Mike peaked the jam with a gorgeous chord progression, naturally moving into the rhythms of “Slave.” But instead of moving right along, they brought “Tweezer” to a conclusion before gracefully moving into the cathartic anthem. A stunning combination, this – somehow – was the first time in history Phish had ever combined these two classic pieces. And it worked perfectly, providing the musical highlight of the holiday weekend.
Jam of the Day:
One of Leg I’s top-shelf sequences; this “Disease” smokes as hard as Cheech and Chong.
DOWNLOAD OF THE DAY:
6.13.2010 Hersheypark Stadium, Hershey, PA < Megaupload
A two-set throwdown with a revamped, booming sound system and a rubberized dance floor. More Hershey shows please?
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
Source: AKG C460Bs/CK 63-ULS