Third-Set Thunder

7.1.11 - Watkins Glen (Graham Lucas)

Of all the stellar musical sequences that took place over Super Ball weekend, the opening segment of Saturday night’s third set—”Golden Age” > “Caspian” > “Piper” > “Tweezer”—represents one of the improvisational best. Combining four flowing and creative pieces, the band kicked off the nighttime festivities with a run of music that showcased a broad spectrum of their styles while blowing just about everyone out of the water.

7.3.11 (G.Lucas)

It’s no coincidence that “Golden Age” has emerged as one of this era’s defining covers. Lyrically poignant for Phish’s modern renaissance, this song has grown in each outing since its Albany ’09 debut (11.27), and this summer “Golden Age” has broken out of its shell. In Darien, not only did the band take the jam further than it had ever gone, the song became the theme of the set, reemerging prominently in “Weekapaug” and “2001.” But when the guys dropped into the dance anthem at Super Ball, the piece took on a whole new life. Transcending the rhythm grooves that dotted Darien’s excursion, Phish explored demented and percussive planes while launching into genre-defying improv at Watkins Glen. All of a sudden, the fun cover became a trampoline into the void as its jam became more abstract and psychedelic by the minute. Mike completely owned the latter portions of this piece, acting as the musical rudder while Trey and Page bubbled at the water’s surface. Fishman’s quickened and precise break-beats bordered on inhuman as the band delved into a tightly-laced musical jigsaw puzzle. And each piece was exactly in the right place.

Upon conclusion of “Golden Age’s” adventure, Phish dropped into “Prince Caspian” but, applying their teeming creativity to the song, played an alternate take of the usually straightforward ballad. Trey started his solo with less notes, carrying each out for longer and creating an incredibly emotional feel over the band’s slowed, festival-sized canvas. But instead of bringing the song to a peak, Trey backed off and the band moved with him into a more delicate conversation. As the band brought the piece down an intricate path, Trey briefly hinted at the heavy chords that typically end the song, before they slid right into “Piper” without stopping.

Watkins Glen (Graham Lucas)

Phish barreled forth with enormous energy built from the set’s opening combo, and “Piper” took little time to reach soaring planes. As soon as the lyrics ended, this version burst wide-open with instinctual jamming—the kind where the music commands the band and all becomes one energetic blur. Chugging as a single-minded monster, the guys poured laced this high-paced jaunt with passionate interplay. Mike continued his mastery with accelerated bass lines that bled musical darkness. Trey fed off Gordon’s energy, soon sprouting melodic cries while Fishman annihilated his set like there was no tomorrow. Page filled in on piano and the band was off and sprinting through fields of psychedelic debauchery. As Trey inserted rhythmic chops to ease the mania, the band leaped on his idea, creating sparse and connected percussive textures. But before long, Phish collectively constructed another wall of sound—a wall that Trey tore down with the opening lick of “Tweezer.”

Super Ball (B.Ferguson)

From the get-go, this “Tweezer” had IT. Infused with creative fills, hits and stops during the composed section, when the jam dropped everyone knew things were gonna’ get buck wild. Dripping with over-sized grooves and an aggressive growl from Big Red, the band applied their retro-stop/start jamming to this festival sized monster, creating even more gooey, rhythmic tension. This was one of those versions that one lived rather than listened to—the shit was just raw. And as the colossal textures threatened to envelop the concert field, Trey initiated a pattern of seething guitar cries—which he echoed himself—before chopping the jam with his seismic, orbit-altering effect and oozing into jam’s next segment. Mike twisted teases of “Scents and Subtle Sounds” into this mellower groove as the band methodically moved towards a guitar-led build. The piece seemed to be winding to natural conclusion, but Trey jumped the gun a bit, rushing into the beginning of “Julius.” But after a such a stellar four-song run, everything else felt like gravy.

Though Sunday’s show would prove to be a more complete effort through and through, this segment from Saturday’s night’s third set provided one of the unquestionable high points of Super Ball’s unforgettable weekend.

The age of miracles.
The age of sound.
Well there’s a Golden Age
Comin’ round, comin’ round, comin’ round!


Jam of the Day:

Piper > Tweezer” 7.2.11 III

The latter half of this next-level run of music.


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465 Responses to “Third-Set Thunder”

  1. Mulitbeast Says:

    @ MIA – Yes! Makes a guy a bit homesick. Bucket of chocolate chip cookies and all the milk you can drink.

  2. MrCompletely Says:

    speaking of schadenfreude (ahem), anyone else enjoying the Fox News Corp stuff recently?

  3. Mulitbeast Says:

    Had a chance to Band of Joy at the Fillmore in Denver and I didn’t take it. That was a mistake.

  4. MrCompletely Says:

    “I love the story Rowan tells about writing Walls of Time, which I think is the Ancient Tones kind of thing. ”

    yeah, that’s the Walls of Time story. Great stuff the first 5 times you hear it.

    Did you see the Band of Joy, @sumo? We did, liked it pretty well too. Better than I expected/feared by a long way. “Tangerine” was the highlight for us. Show suffered from being less than a week after Lauryn Hill though.

  5. guitarpicker420! Says:

    @Mr C – Murdock has pissed too many people off over the years. He is going down, might even be able to get him on racketeering, though I’m not sure what the British laws on that sort of thing are. His deal to buy BSkyB is basically shot though.

  6. MrCompletely Says:

    story’s got greek tragedy written all over it. fall of the powerful from hubris etc.

  7. Aquaman Says:

    Agreed Mr. C.

    If Mudoch himself is on the damage control front….it’s bad.

    On a relaed note: Good Luck Dallas. Glen Beck has become your new neighbor!


  8. Kaveh Says:

    Minnesota State Fair = it is coming! Pronto Pups. 🙂

  9. albert walker Says:

    Storage jam is my fav piece of improv by this band

    All of the jamless shows
    Refunded fully

  10. albert walker Says:

    Can we now put the sober Trey can’t get weird bullshit to rest

  11. albert walker Says:

    Between religion philosophy and comic books

    I’ve felt like AJ lurking on nba talk since yesterday

    Took country recs til I had something to add

  12. MrCompletely Says:

    “Storage jam is my fav piece of improv by this band”

    ever? 3.0?

  13. MrCompletely Says:

    with all the market talk we get, you know that’s fair though @AW

    sometimes I only understand one word in 3 when you guys get going

    (which is fine)

  14. albert walker Says:

    I love it C

    I get work done then. Just don’t have shit to add.

  15. albert walker Says:

    Fav jam ever

  16. MrCompletely Says:

    nice man

    my first spin will be tonight actually. been saving it since I couldn’t catch a righteous buzz in NC

  17. RamblinMind Says:

    Still haven’t listened to Storage Jam properly. Tried twice at 3 in the morning , baked, and fell asleep both times…

    Maybe this is hippie speedball material

    @AW – fav jam ever is a pretty huge statement in our nerd universe

  18. albert walker Says:

    6 min in shit explodes into some synth mmw funk out of this sick GD style deep space

    Hippest shit ever

  19. Bwana Says:

    not sure how much love the DWD>No Quarter has gotten but it’s definitely up there as one of many SB highlights for me. awesome to hear this live after seeing it drop at PNC while on the couch

  20. BingosBrother Says:

    “Fav jam ever”

    Holy shit. I need to spin this soon. Lend me some ear w a x? You check the Bethel Waves soundcheck yet AW? My fav of the last couple years. A band similar to Tinariwen is at MP tonight. You and C prob dig em. Bombino.


  21. BingosBrother Says:

    Lycan and RH fans. KOL From the Basement

  22. MrCompletely Says:

    ah thanks for Bombino – I’d seen that video and spaced it. cool

  23. lastwaltzer Says:


    is that just audio or video?

  24. albert walker Says:

    Storage jam is the goods

    A time machine to when Trey pushed musical boundaries to get off

    You will be floored C

  25. MrCompletely Says:

    you going to Bombino @aw? This shit is pretty slick. I’d go if it was in my hood. Here’s another

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