And It Was Alright…

5.28.11 (Chris Klein)

And then on Friday, Phish became Phish again. Combining all the elements that make them the greatest band on the planet, the guys threw down a tour-defining performance that left their week of quasi-mediocrity as a perplexing stumble in the summer of 2011. Somehow, last night Trey was able to let go and join in the collective glory that emerges when a four-minded patience allows greatness to develop. No jams were cut off, they were, instead, played with utmost creativity through their natural endings. And in Charlotte, instead of tearing through a setlist, Trey’s patience allowed the music—and show—to breathe and his band to explore, and lo and behold, one of the most cohesive, complete and brilliant shows of this era resulted.

Official Charlotte Print (Methane)

Sculpting a stratospheric journey by combining “Rock and and Roll” and “Ghost,” the band threw down enrapturing, top-shelf jamming of the likes that we haven’t seen since Detroit. To describe this profound excursion with metaphors and imagery would be to cheapen its absolutely impeccable nature. This is one of those nights I’m gonna let the music do the talking; grab a set of headphones and kick back. Embarking on “Rock and Roll’s” jam with an exploratory intent, the band departed from structure early and would up in a stunning four-piece conversation in which Trey was clearly listening and responding to Mike and Page, as the three engaged in a subconscious exchange—with Fishman—that blossomed into pure and unadulterated Phish. Moving through several stages of jamming, the band continued to delve deeper into the source, taking the audience to that magical place that we quest for with so much of our hearts and souls. And when the enchanting ride finally settled into an ambient plane, as if scripted, the band moved into the second “Ghost” of tour.

6.12.11 (B.Ferguson)

Monumental. Bliss. Perfection. Any of these words could be used to describe the music contained within last night’s “Ghost.” Just listen. Honestly. Just listen. This is the type of cathartic mastery that drove us down this crazy road to begin with. Making the hallowed MSG version look rather tame, last night brought the song to a whole ‘nother level in a defining performance of this era. The refined communication on display throughout was staggering, and the band sculpted a jam, that when combined with “Rock and Roll,” formed an mind-bending odyssey to be reckoned with. Just listen.

But that wasn’t all the band hand to offer after setbreak. Gone were the speedbumps that have plagued second sets of late—this frame flowed like liquid. Resolving the next-level improvisation with, “Free.” Perhaps, the move of the night came next when the band followed up “Free” with “Reba!” I’ve been talking about getting “Reba” into the second set all tour, and last night it happened in the biggest way. As tapped in as they were last night, placing “Reba” squarely in the second set was a shrewd and dreamlike decision. Focusing their passion and precision on the soulful groove, the band crafted a pristine version that felt like everyone was surfing the same wave through the universe; pure magic. Within the context of the-whole band conversation, Trey unleashed a series of leads that pulled at one’s heart while meticulously directing a phenomenal exchange. Things felt real again. Very real.

6.12.11 (B.Ferguson)

And then, as the band brought the stellar piece to a crescendo, they didn’t move into the song’s whistling ending, they moved into “Icculus.” It felt as though the band’s virtuosic playing had awakened the god of Gamehendge, as a spiritual quality laced the band’s improv all night long. While Trey—in a comically intense rant—reminded his audience to “Read the fucking book!” it felt as though he was reminding himself of what this is all about while still reeling from the extraordinary ride. In a powerful moment that was, simultaneously, fused with comedy, the band had the crowd eating out of the palm of their hand, and the spirit of Phishiness was alive again.

Continuing this Phishy trend, out came Fishman for his first spotlight schtick of this tour— and it all flowed perfectly. Performing Syd Barret’s “Bike,” everyone was in the moment and having a blast—both onstage and in the crowd. It was just one of those special nights. Following Fish’s interlude with an engaging and intricate “Chalk Dust,” anything the band touched turned to gold at this point. And there was only one way finalize this evening: “You Enjoy Myself.” Taken off the shelf for only the third time this summer, the band punctuated the show with the seminal classic. It was just one of those nights.

6.5.11 (M.Stein)

And the show had something going from the get go. Instead of plucking a sign for a bustout to start the first set, Trey pulled up a piece of cardboard that read “Mike’s House.” And just like that, Phish launched into a show-opening “Mike’s Groove,” starting the night on the right foot. After a string of old-school singles, the band dusted off the Gamehendge pairing “Forbin’s > Mockingbird” for the first time in almost a year, navigating the old-school composition with precision. A swanky “Wolfman’s” that carried a serious collaborative groove provided another first set sign pointing towards a heavy-handed second half.

Combining to-die-for jamming, Gamehendge lore, tight compositions, and a stellar song selection, Phish came out and destroyed Charlotte last night, a refreshing breakout that needed to happen. With a peak-experience through and through, the band kick-started their final three shows of June in the biggest way possible, thank the Lord. And thank you, Phish, from the bottom of my heart.

I: Mike’s Song > I Am Hydrogen > Weekapaug Groove, Bouncing Around the Room, NICU, Sample in a Jar, Colonel Forbin’s Ascent > Fly Famous Mockingbird, Axilla, Wolfman’s Brother, Scent of a Mule, Stealing Time From the Faulty Plan

II: Backwards Down the Number Line, Rock and Roll > Ghost > Free, Reba > Icculus, Hold Your Head Up > Bike > Hold Your Head Up, Chalk Dust Torture, You Enjoy Myself

E: Wilson > Loving Cup

670 Responses to “And It Was Alright…”

  1. cal Says:

    This sure is an encouraging sentiment to wake up to. Ahhhh, the highs and lows of Phish tour…

    Only two more nights of leg one. Gotta figure there’s gonna be some good stuff rolled out. Have a terrific weekend everybody!

  2. Beantownboy Says:

    That has to be one of the top two second sets of this tour.
    Wow.

    Nice to see that the boys are finishing at the level of playing from which they started on this tour. Excited to listed to what the next couple of nights bring.

  3. Mr. Palmer Says:

    Last night was the 100th performance of Ghost, or so i read. For all you stat geeks

  4. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    solid pull up on the ‘drone. nice way to spend my morning of reading boring case studies

  5. JMelby Says:

    Just spun the Ghost before I head off to work. Those notes will sing in my head for hours I believe. Still partial to the Holy Ghost from MSG, or as my wife put it; “The night the notes tickled Gods balls.” She has such a way with words:)

    So happy for the great review and everyones pleasure last night!

  6. mitch Says:

    miner liked the show with mule and HYHU?

    downloading now. boys must be back!

  7. Laurville Says:

    beautiful morning. looking forward to a phine weekend.

  8. albert walker Says:

    Spun the dte dwd post first puff loud

    I don’t care if you’re a custy, or carry a bubbler stashed in your pants, or prerolls like normal kids

    To question their jamming abilities or desires after they dropped that seems silly

    That jam rolls through like four sick ass full band themes before landing in love supreme. One of their best jams from any era

    Oh yeah. And they crushed bowie too

  9. BTB Says:

    Shout out to the Charlotte crew! bet they rocked the fuck out

  10. mitch Says:

    was thinking bout logistics of taking a bubbler to a show. if it got heavy use youre gonna need a couple water changes or de-gunking sessions…

    thats some dedication. kinda like typing this pointless comment one handed.

    would be pretty sweet puffing fresh nugs at a show out of hetty glass tho.

  11. ae Says:

    Anyone know what went up on the screen during icculus?

  12. mitch Says:

    ae, local library contact info was on the screen.

    wanna come puff robane and help walk my dog?

  13. halcyon Says:

    Soaring version of Reba.

  14. Jtran Says:

    @ae

    from the yemblog tweets last night I think it was a picture of Mike and Trey’s matching shirts

  15. Luther T. Justice Says:

    And all is right in the world again.

  16. Luther T. Justice Says:

    The use of pedicabs by Trey & Mike leads to musical greatness.

  17. mitch Says:

    pedicabs and baby deer

  18. Luther T. Justice Says:

    If you could get the baby deer to pull the pedicab, I can’t imagine what would happen.

  19. kayatosh Says:

    yes! rnr>ghost

    anyone w/ an spare dl code for last night?
    have 1 camden if anyone needs.

  20. butter Says:

    Ya! Our Children are old enough to read Icculus!!!

    When i first started kicking around the idea of taking my daughter on tour for the last three shows of leg 1, a light bulb went off. Maybe the’ll do Gamehendge, as TMWSITY is her favorite album. I did’t think it was that great of a chance actually, but when i was waffling back and forth and wether to bring the little pat on tour – the distinct possibility of MISSING GH – seemed in the cards for whatever reason. if we didn’t go, and watched GH roll across the setlist, it would have hurt, and i knew it.

    Now what were the actually odds of us seeing some GH?, not sure – but honestly i thought a hefty WW donation might be the best chance…..lol

    When Col Forbins started we looked at each other – her wide eyed, mouth agape. we were just deciding to go to the bathroom or not, depending on what the next song was. it would wait. Awestruck we danced in the lawn, with all the space in the world, on one of the more level lawns, it was perfect.

    The chase and dedication was paying off in droves. It was Alanna’s 5th show, and her favorite piece was being played in the first set. Col Forbins had almost vanished off of her wish list, as it didn’t seem like a real possibility. We would root for something with a chance like “Ocelot”. Well how about 5 shows and no Ocelot but a Forbins!!!!

    Trusty Wolfman’s blew up a bit in the first, but my musical highlight of the first was “Stealin Time”. Check the Red solo at the end. Pure fire.

    So towards the end of a short setbreak, another synchronicity happened. (its Phish tour after all 😉 ) This couple behind us on the lawn, said look “we have some great pav seats, why dont’ you guys go have fun in the pav for set 2. Now, i was already holding some pav stubs thanks to @sumodie, but was quite comfy on the lawn. These complete strangers, gave another nudge, “go on, go have fun – go to the pav”

    why were these people telling me what to do, what was there agenda?

    “we’ll watch your blanket for you, go” so they wanted to use my blanket, i see. you don’t have to twist my arm to go down to the mid pav for set 2 of a Phish show. you just have to give me your bomb mail orders for the use of my blanket.

    so it was meant to be. Happy, Happy Oh my friend. You were 8 and i was 9. Another of my daughter’s favs. we were positioned in the sweet spot, mid pav between Trey and Page. Mikes liquid bass came to life and Page was crystal clear all the sudden.

    When RnR started, one could tell we were ready for lift off. Trey exhibited patience not seen in the last week and a half, letting Mike and Page lead us to the ether. Haven’t listened back, but i heard an MLB quote as Charlotte jam was winding down. Mike asserted himself with the bass bomb of all bass bombs to start Ghost right at the critical time as Char jam wrapping up. This was a dark, twisted intro.

    This 100th version of Ghost is an all timer. such chunky diverse Mike. a little more goo than MSG, plus the ascending and spiraling Trey that we love from MSG’s version.

    from Alanna this morning “Ghost was AMAZING”

    yes we were all very “Free” after the last 40 minutes of some tour defining Phish. Alanna and I decided we would go back to the lawn after Free……

    UNLESS THEY PLAYED REBA!!!!! just absolutely killer Trey, the jam was stellar and the peak was to die for. as complex of a nailed peak as i can remember. more perfection.

    The Great and Knowledgable Icculus appeared next for only the second time in 3.0. They put a tshirt with a picture of a bearded man with glasses on the screen, with Trey saying “he has all the answers”.

    As my daughter and i headed back up to the lawn, we stopped by the WW both to let Jeff know how sick the last hour of Phish just was. We then took inventory that three tunes had been played from TMWSIY, and figured they may work a fourth in.

    Chalkdust kept the party flowin, and YEM was hot, with a sweet funk jam, a mini solo from Red and completed with some meatball filter from Mike.

    the encore of Wilson, Cup, gave us our 4th original GH piece. the “yes i’m stumbling and you know i play a bad guitar” always gets sarcastic roars, but last night, it seemed to really apply to the prior week and a half that was all behind us now.

  21. butter Says:

    kaya – hit me with your email

  22. kayatosh Says:

    that rnr just vaulted into my top 3 jams of tour and I haven’t even heard the ghost yet.

    pay dirt!

  23. kayatosh Says:

    marcwillner2 at comcast dot net

    thanks, butter.

    let me know if you want camden.

  24. kayatosh Says:

    this audix aud. tape from last night sounds great. little thin on the low end.

  25. Jtran Says:

    Awesome butter

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