Last week we looked at a spectrum of significant jams Phish played in August. But in a tour that favored more improvisation than any other in this era, there were many more highlights of note. Amidst the buzz of tour’s most staggering musical moments, some other serious pieces of improvisation haven’t gotten as much attention as they should. Below are three more jams from Leg Two that showcase Phish’s late-summer exploratory spirit.
“Rock and Roll” 8.6 II – Berkeley, California
Phish sped out of this torrid rock jam and quickly into psychedelic pastures, skipping usual routine stop in regurgitated percussive grooves. Fishman immediately stood out by slaughtering alternating beats, while Trey and Mike stepped forth to lead the jam on a dissonant course. Page stepped forth over Mike and Trey’s cooperative backing, playing lead piano lines over an urgent, ever-changing rhythm. Boasting gorgeous melodic interplay between guitarists, this jam took a distinct turn into blissful, uplifting textures. A perfect example of the band’s new-school “urgent ambient” jamming, Mike remained at the center of the music and Trey painted it with emotive brushstrokes, while Fish framed their transcendent interplay like an eight-legged beast. Trey, Mike and Page echoed each others’ phrases as they merged into a glowing orb of melody and harmony – an awesome piece of collaborative jamming over masterfully intricate rhythms.
“Carini” 8.10.10 – Telluride, Colorado
Amidst a sea of rock anthems in Telluride’s final set, “Carini” provided the highlight of the show, churning some of the most intergalactic soundscapes of summer. As the band departed from the lyrical refrain, Page led the onset of the jam as Trey wound up his now-rarely-used “millennial” effects: seething sheets of snarling sound that emerged in 1999. Fish and Mike formed a heavy pocket highlighted by Gordon’s crafty bass lines. After setting his sonic place-mat, Trey came to the forefront with a volcanic solo, erupting with scalding intensity. When Mike shifted to a groovier bass line and Page sustained a dissonant backdrop, Trey turned his wailing solo into an uncharacteristically melodic segment that brought the jam to a climax. But after this peak, Fishman moved the band into a drone landscape that Trey began littering with dirty effects. Now the the adventure really began. Morphing into a menacing and abstract passage, Fish threw in a vocal tease of Pink Floyd’s “One Of These Days,” while the music continued its maniacal soundtrack of minds warping through a post-apocalyptic alien ambush. With stunning sonic density, this jam likened the descending of a Mothership right in Town Park, as all band members contributed to this bubbling psychedelic cauldron. Resembling pieces of ’99 Phish, “Carini” ballooned in abstract intensity and carried a futuristic, mechanical beauty. “Free” provided the splash down from outer space, continuing the rowdy setlist.
“Drowned” 8.12 – Noblesville, Indiana
One of the most under-the-radar jams of tour, this “Drowned that opened the second set of Deer Creek’s first night is a dark-horse piece of elegant interplay. After plowing through the initial section in a high-speed, rock and roll chase, Trey and Fish cut up the music with percussive offerings while Mike filled the spaces in between. When Page moved to organ, he coaxed the band into far mellower, ethereal textures. Trey adjusted quickly, sprouting a delicate, soulful lead while allowing space for Page to answer his ideas. Fishman favored the cymbals in a shimmering beat and Mike backed the piece with murmuring bass lines. Eventually progressing to a more abstract rhythm, Fishman coaxed Trey to follow him while Mike meshed his own idea into an experimental section of spanking new Phish music – an ambient-melodica over increasingly intricate drumbeats. Mike, Page and Trey formed an harmonic convergence without any lead, turning the piece into a gripping jam. Trey peeled surreal melodies over the feel-good futurama and once again, a musical risk had succeeded.
Jam of the Day:
Phish opened Jones Beach’s second set with conscious nod to the old-school in this mid-90’s combo.
DOWNLOAD OF THE DAY:
10.8.1999 Nassau Coliseum, Uniondale, NY < Torrent
10.8.1999 Nassau Coliseum, Uniondale, NY < Megaupload
On the home stretch of a month-long tour in Fall ’99, Phish stopped at Nassau for two oft-overlooked shows. On the second night, the band nailed this second set in another classic dose of Nassau Phish. After an awesome opening segment from “Halley’s” through “Hood,” Tom Marshall came out and did his best Roger Daltry, hamming it up with the band on a cover of the Who’s Tommy classic, “We’re Not Gonna Take It.”
I: Piper, AC/DC Bag, Suzy Greenberg, Meat, Meatstick, Run Like an Antelope
II: Halley’s Comet > Tweezer > Bug, Fee, Harry Hood, We’re Not Gonna Take It*, Chalk Dust Torture
E: The Squirming Coil, Tweezer Reprise
* debut, The Who; w/ Tom Marshall
Source: (FOB) Schoeps mk4 > kc5 > cmc6 > Sonosax SX-M2 > Apogee AD1000 > Sony D100 (Set I @44.1kHz, Set II @48kHz)