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. JP Says:

    def some wild looking bustouts

    thanks mr c on the lolla

  2. Tom Says:

    split open and melt

  3. Sgt. Pepper Says:

    seemingly long kill devil, go for that bethel gold standard

  4. Jtran Says:

    yesssssss

  5. JP Says:

    BK – my first phish ablum

    still think it is their best studio disc

  6. JP Says:

    i don’t see how this isn’t a pretty fun show

  7. Robear Says:

    Missed the stream. Looks like craziest setlist ever.

    We did have some fresh salmon cooked on a cedar stake by an open fire, NW native style. Incredible.

  8. Poody Says:

    Just figured you had an amazing experience tripping your face off and overreacted when I read the review. But you did it justice.

  9. locust the lurker Says:

    Been in a bit of a funk all day. Just heard about the Big Man. Big loss for the music world.

  10. plord Says:

    ornerscorners on hoodstream isn’t great, doesn’t suck, but has been steady since the Piper.

  11. c0wfunk Says:

    ooh split at the end, interesting.

  12. Corey Says:

    Just checked the set. Wow. Last time Been Caught Stealing hit was my bday back in the late 98. They’re giving Carolina some good music to dance to.

  13. JP Says:

    i’d have to guess 2 for 2 at this point cOw

  14. c0wfunk Says:

    jp looks fun to me, too.. but I have a hunch a rift caspian esther following a twist and a piper that moves into mfmf to make up the meat of a second set is gonna catch some flack from the jammier than thou. We shall see I could be wrong.

  15. MrCompletely Says:

    “i don’t see how this isn’t a pretty fun show”

    ^^^ with ya

    meltage clinches it

  16. JP Says:

    definitely, late set II meltage at that

  17. MrCompletely Says:

    a set like this, as long as it goes deep once (even if not a lengthy jam) and then some kind of legit finale peak, should be sweet

  18. Tom Says:

    It sounds pretty good to me

  19. plord Says:

    Getting pretty meaty in this here Split.

  20. JP Says:

    cOw – you mentioned the kdf from atl 1 in terms of highlights and i heard it twice today, freakin’ ripped – love that tune

    first few listens to charlotte working outside for most of the day – great show

    RnR > jam took it for me, with the ghost right behind

    2 for 2 baby

  21. matt2112 Says:

    LOVE THIS MELT!!!!!!!

  22. seif Says:

    yemblog tweeter is raving about this split. says “you gotta listen to this tomorrow. dark, dark, dark.”

  23. Corey Says:

    Darkest Split since Cincinnati Fall ’09, no? I don’t know…hope to get a good one at watkins.

  24. Jtran Says:

    woah

  25. guitarpicker420! Says:

    Looking at my stats, somehow I’ve seen Been Caught Steeling 3 times.

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