Exploring Out West

The Greek Theatre - 8.5.06 (Wendy Rogell)

Taking The Greek by storm in a two-set smoker that far surpassed the tour opener, Phish unveiled a pair of action-packed frames filled with creativity, including one of the best jams of the modern era. From note one through the last, Phish had their mojo flowing, despite a couple of notably awkward on-stage moments during the second set. Speed-bumps aside, much of the band’s improv carried a new-found patience that allowed the exploration of completely new territory for the second straight night. Hitting from all angles, the show never relented, creating a start-to-finish marathon. Feeling comfortable pushing the envelope on a nightly basis once again, Phish has found their way back to progressive exploration, expanding their sonic horizons on a nightly basis.

8.5.10 (W.Rogell)

Kick-starting the show with a raging “Chalk Dust,” the band grabbed the crowd instantly and never let them go. Following “Guyute,” Trey harnessed some of Jerry’s aura floating around the Berkeley Hills, engaging the band in a Deady rendition of the slowly-expanding “Ocelot.” Fitting the early-evening like a glove, this piece set the table for an explosive run of songs that turned a a burgeoning set into an extraordinary one. A song that only sounds great when its technicalities are accurately executed, Phish did just that with”It’s Ice,” properly crushing the Rift-era single before dropping into the highlight of the first set – “Cities.” And boy did it feel good to type that!

After several succinct and standard versions since the Hampton reunion, Phish finally let things fly with their funkafied cover. Entering a series of rhythmic calisthenics, the band time-traveled through groove back to a different era when dancing was all that mattered. Focusing on ferocious grooves, just when one expected the jam to wind down, Phish kicked it up a notch, immediately pumping liquid energy into the intimate amphitheatre. Riding the back of Mike’s and Fish’s pocket – as deep the abyss – Page and Trey painted the piece with their own rhythmic offerings. The band locked into some seriously collaborative funk as the sun set and the Kuroda used the columns of The Greek as a personal mural, enhancing the eye candy of this frozen moment. Anyone who was around during the late-’90s hey-day of the song had to smile ear-to-ear as Phish got straight nasty up in that piece last night! Candied molasses like we haven’t heard from in a quite some time, “Cities” was in a word – refreshing.

The Greek Theatre - 8.5.10 (Wendy Rogell)

And as the band sustained their gooey texture – boom – right into “Moma Dance,” as they refused to let the moment end. With a laid-back version of another groove-era epic, the band had The Greek bumping like a pinball machine for an extended period during dusk. Completing a stellar three-song sequence, the band launched directly into “Bathtub Gin.” This rendition showcased the precise control Phish has rebuilt, pushing and pulling the tempo of the jam as if inflating and deflating a collaborative lung. A piece that coalesced into a searing peak didn’t showcase one member over another, a characteristic that is quickly becoming a defining facet of Phish’s most successful jams this summer. Finalizing one of the most gaudy first halves of 2010, the band finalized things with their emerging set closer “Stealing Time.”

8.5.10 (W.Rogell)

The energy of the first set spilled directly into the second, as Phish strung together a series of stand-alone jams that were highlighted by the opening “Rock and Roll,” and a surreal “Simple” that became the improvisational centerpiece of tour thus far. Playing “Rock and Roll” on the first non-Saturday of the year, Phish used their ever-popular vehicle to voyage into a rolling pasture of melodic ambient-groove. Page shined on piano throughout the jam, as he has been notably turned up in, what is now, the best live mix Phish has ever had. Listening and responding masterfully to each other, the band’s nuanced, cooperative jamming turned fully blissful in one of the escapades of the night. Weaving their lines into a singular musical motion, this jam became the second example in as many nights of a new-school improvisational style in which Fishman continuously rolls out intricate, driving beats while the band moves into a more subtle, ambient territory. After establishing this style on the first two nights (also with “Disease”) one can be sure their will be more of this to come coming over the next fortnight.

Descending from this majestic piece, the band slid into “Ghost,” kicking up the adrenaline in the amphitheatre yet another notch without any thought of rest. In the same controlled style as the first-set “Gin,” Phish manipulated music like Plasticine, molding their path by toying with tempo while Trey and Mike stepped out front to play. Exchanging leads over yet another masterful series of drumbeats, Mike threw on his envelope filter, thickening the jam while Trey spat searing leads atop the musical romper room. When the jam stemmed from from structure, the band sounded as though they were heading for “Walk Away” in a melodic jam-turned-catastrophe, as Trey hacked into the jam with the opening licks of “Mike’s?!” The ensuing moment was the most painful onstage moment we’ve seen this year, as the band had no idea what Trey was doing, and simply collapsed as a unit. Later in the evening, after listening to the butchery, we joked that Phish must have been paying homage to the bust-a-gut “Shred IT” video that became a You Tube sensation last week. But once they regrouped into “Mike’s,” there was nothing to complain about at all. Seething with guitar-led fury, Trey unleashed menacing leads throughout the shredding version. But the best moments of the show were about to unfold.

The Greek Theatre - 8.5.10 (W.Rogell)

As they transitioned into “Simple” nobody could have foreseen the psychedelic fairytale that Phish would spin on this summer evening. Patiently playing wherever that moment brought them, Phish soon moved from a mellow-melodic outro into the most full-blown open-jamming we’ve seen from the band in this era. On the eternal quest for original Phish music, the band delivered in droves during this experimental masterpiece. Weaving their offerings into a quadruple-helix of transcendental improv, the band locked into an amoeba-style jam with no band member pushing or pulling the music any more forcefully than the others. An exemplary illustration of Phish combining to form far more than the sum of their parts, this jam is, perhaps, the most creative and “out-there” we’ve heard the band get in this era. Entering completely original territory having nothing to do with the song, the band locked into one of the most indelible moments in ages. A sure sign that the band is only moving in the right direction, “Simple” brought some of the most impressive playing from Phish this year.

8.5.10 (W.Rogell)

Using “Number Line” to provide a more accessible song after their intricate psychedelia, the band followed up their single-version with a rousing, if not oddly-placed, “Show of Life,” before finishing “Mike’s Groove” by chilling briefly in “Seven Below.” Staring the their post-hiatus vehicle at a seemingly random point in the show, one figured they’d tie the percussive piece into “Weekapaug,” and after only three minutes, they had completely nailed the transition, flying high into the end of their “Mike’s Sandwich.” But for some reason, Phish insisted on back-tracking, inexplicably allowing the beat to drop out for Mike’s opening solo. Amidst a night of musical feats, Phish proved they were still human, botching their second segue of the set.

But just when one thought the band would take their pre-encore bow, Trey directed the band into “You Enjoy Myself” to close a wildly creative frame of music. Keeping the energy pumping, Phish dropped into a final dance session of the night, taking their seminal opus for a short, but swanky ride to close the show in style. Following their groove fiesta, the band came out and crushed “Good Times, Bad Times” to put an exclamation point on quite a special summer night in Northern California.

One more please?

I: Chalk Dust Torture, Guyute, Ocelot, It’s Ice, Cities > The Moma Dance, Bathtub Gin, Stealing Time From the Faulty Plan

II: Rock and Roll > Ghost > Mike’s Song > Simple > Backwards Down the Number Line, Show of Life, Seven Below > Weekapaug Groove, You Enjoy Myself

E: Good Times Bad Times

The Greek Theatre - 8.5.10 (Wendy Rogell)


PS: With a 6am flight towards Colorado tomorrow, an article will likely follow.

Tags: ,

1,245 Responses to “Exploring Out West”

  1. Mr. Completely Says:

    “C, I was sending you thank you vibes during Light. Hope you felt em.”

    I was in bliss for that jam

    thanks for helping send me there

    I definitely felt people thinking of me during that

    It was some deep shit to be feeling that way and know the feeling was actually real

  2. angryjoggerz Says:

    I too got the sense that a lot of old GD family were finally getting turned onto Phish this weekend, and what a Phish to get turned on to. The band was having a blast, for sure.

  3. BingosBrother Says:

    oh it was real fosho. We was rootin you on from the sidelines during the stream. no Waves but 20 years later with a magnificent Hood ain’t too bad of a consolation prize.

  4. jdub Says:

    Very true C, everyone sounds like they are meeting Mikes challenges. It will Only get smoother and cleaner.

  5. angryjoggerz Says:

    sorry, last thing, and I was talking to Tzara’s about this… I totally reconnected with a bunch of songs that I have not disliked, but just not been pumped about, eg Fluffhead, YEM, etc. this weekend. Really nice feeling. Thank’s Phish.

  6. Selector J Says:

    Another successful trip round the ol’ fireball, huh?

    Happy B-Day, AJ! Raising a Tecate for you here in Tejas.

  7. butter Says:

    can’t even begin to describe how tight last nights Hood, Theme, 2001

    AW asks me during the Hood :

    “do you hear those little syncopated rhythms”

    yes i did and they were mind boggling

    i don’t know if all that is going to come thru on tape, but that spot behind the sbd that AW his girl, C and Uncle E were at you could hear the boys fingers sliding up and down the strings and frets, just mind boggling clarity sound wise AND playing wise, like some sort of cosmic convergence

  8. BingosBrother Says:

    RIP Jerry. 12:25 in the Chi. You were loved.

  9. angryjoggerz Says:

    Thanks, Selector, appreciate it.

    Jerry, we miss you!

  10. Uncle Ebeneezer Says:

    I don’t think I’ll ever forget that silence in the backyard after last night between the three of us, C. Almost like any words would ruin the thoughts we were all trying to process…until Robear would start giggling because he couldn’t stop gushing lmao

  11. butter Says:

    good observations C:

    dead heads / mike

  12. BingosBrother Says:

    Happy Birthday AJ! Turn it up.

  13. butter Says:

    First spin thru Greek 2

    hot damn

    Cities>Moma, Gin so far , on Ghost now

  14. angryjoggerz Says:

    I felt like the board gave me a big push to get to these shows and it really set the tone for greatness. Like C, this was my first no drama run of shows, and it was a ton of fun because of that. First set of night one took a lot of people, including me, some time to settle in and find their right thing, but when it settled it got deep. Great crowd for sure.

  15. jdub Says:

    They come through on tape to these ears Butter. Everything had an extra step last night. Fishman is killing it. Page is killing it. And Trey has come alive.

    Just as importantly BB came alive. So great to hear about it all.

  16. angryjoggerz Says:

    Telly is gonna be nuts, for sure, but I imagine a bit differnt vibe than Greek (not better or worse, different). Greek had a very “listening” vibe, if that makes sense.

  17. Selector J Says:

    I can dig it:
    “The inlay at the 12th and 24th fret is a Ghanaian symbol Gye Nyame (jeh N-yah-me), translated as ‘Except for God’. Long inspired by the music of West Africa, Trey once gave members of Senegalese legends Orchestra Baobab two Languedoc guitars as gifts.”

  18. jdub Says:

    Miner has posted.

  19. Mr. Completely Says:

    From prior thread:


    I don’t think I’ll ever forget that silence in the backyard after last night between the three of us, C. Almost like any words would ruin the thoughts we were all trying to process…until Robear would start giggling because he couldn’t stop gushing lmao

    that was a long deep moment for real. great deep chillness.

    Eb held it down tight with us Saturday fo sho

  20. Mr. Completely Says:

    lol woops

Leave a Reply