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. DukeOfLizards Says:

    I may be alone in this camp, but I think the 8-minute Ghost at SBIX was a completely bad ass move by the band.

    Four minutes of wonderful, methodical deconstruction, until they just hit silence. Jam over. No noodling. No forced peak. No silly contrived segue. Just a nice elegant slide into Jibboo.

    Like the band saying “yes, we are fully aware of where you think jams are ‘supposed’ to go. We just don’t care.”

  2. MrCompletely Says:

    in that vid above ^^^ the guy with the drum in the bucket of water….that shit is street

  3. lastwaltzer Says:

    Really upset I missed the country/bluegrass talk. Biggest thing I can add:

    THE FLATLANDERS, they are the velvet underground of country music (at least david byrne and I think so). Their first record “more of a legend than a band” is an absolute must own if your in to this sort of thing. The group is made up of Jimmie Dale Gilmore, Joe Ely and Butch Hancock (phish cover’s his My Minds Got A Mind Of Its Own). Seriously grab it.

    oh and this:

    “you mentioned the Nesmith thing before but I haven’t followed up on it”Mr.C

    TAKE THE MANS ADVICE. I grabbed this a year or two ago and it still gets spun all the time. You just want the first solo album, its awesome.

    Okay one more rec though: John Philips “wolf king of LA”. Yes the guy from the mammas and the pappas. Its his last record before disappearing into the world of junkies. The lyrics are DARK DARK, the music is UPBEAT. The band is made up of all of elvis’s session guys (same cats are on the Gram Parson’s albums), plus darlene love on back up vocals (yes, phil spectors Darlene Love). A Gem.

  4. MrCompletely Says:

    this “Tar Hani live” track is trancing me right the fuck on out, straight Tinariwen stylee

  5. lastwaltzer Says:

    damn wish i knew that show was going down, probably would have hit it. FUCK.

  6. BingosBrother Says:

    @lw : audio I think. Havent DL’d yet.

    video stream here

  7. lastwaltzer Says:

    video taken off line 🙁

  8. albert walker Says:

    It’s hot and I’m lazy c

    I Def should go. Sounds great

    I got jorts and mustache fest all weekend too

  9. BingosBrother Says:

    Mentioned it this weekend lw. Didn’t seem like anybody wanted to go. Was gonna hit it, but my hip and back are all fucked up. Sick of these damn bones.

  10. BingosBrother Says:

    whoops lw, heres a good link.

  11. Cable Hogue Says:

    Regarding Townes Van Zandt:

    IMO Live at the Old Quarter is the one to start with. Also a couple later period live records like Live at Union Chapel and Rear View Mirror. Many of his records are distinctly overproduced. Incredible songwriter.

    A truly great country “party album” is Jerry Jeff Walker’s “Viva Terlingua!”

  12. Mdawg Says:

    Chris Kuroda interview:

    The trend of the fans holding up these signs, do they ever block your view and prevent you from seeing the visual cues from the band members?

    CK: Yes, absolutely, all the time. Is there anything I can do about that? No. Do I want to send a security guard down there to take the sign away from that person? Yes. Will I? No, because it’s a kid having fun at a concert who doesn’t know that they’re blocking my sightlines 30 rows in front of me. So again, that’s a tolerance thing. It’s like beach balls. Beach balls get in my way too. Glowsticks—I bought a GrandMA2 light board and a glowstick cracked my center screen. Am I mad about it? Yes. Do I understand it? Yeah, it’s a kid throwing a glowstick at a concert. How can you be mad at that? It just happened to break my light board. What are you gonna do? But there were people around me that were freaking out and going completely insane and trying to find the kid and I told everybody to just calm down. How are you even going to figure out which kid threw it for that matter? There’re a thousand kids throwing glowsticks right now, you know? It’s all attitude, you know? Whatever.

    Maybe people should hold up signs that say “Don’t Throw Glowsticks.”

    CK: Possibly. [laughter]

  13. lastwaltzer Says:

    word i recall the mention, also recall not having time to look it. thanks for throwin it on my radar

  14. lastwaltzer Says:

    Jerry Jeff Walker’s “Viva Terlingua!”

    I have never heard this record BUT i have been to terlingua and will say its one of my favorite places on earth, GO THERE

  15. BingosBrother Says:

    Steve Earle’s “Townes” record has a couple of excellent tracks on it. And he rules in Treme. Which also rules.

  16. phoammhead Says:

    what’s the best full gamehendge set to turn a relative newb onto?

    he was stumped by the forbin’s>mockingbird in charlotte and i figure he needs some more education in the form of a full gamehendge set offering

  17. RamblinMind Says:

    @Phoam – Miner had a good post on Gamehendge way back in the day, iirc

    Something like “Everything You Need to Know about Gamehendge”

    Detailed the story and then mentioned the sets I think. This might have been pre-3.0

  18. Mdawg Says:

  19. MrCompletely Says:

    Miner FTW without even trying


  20. halcyon Says:

    Jumpin back in from a busy day…

    About to get blazed for the first time in almost a year….uh oh.

    Comic book Rec: Kabuki by David Mack. Great art, and story line.

  21. jdub Says:

    5/26/11 Waves is ridic. But you guys already know that. Very grateful that the band/Shapiro let this one out of the bag.

    It is kind of funny that 2 of the best and longest jams in this era occurred with no fans around. And the best jam of this era had them screened from the crowd.

  22. RamblinMind Says:

    ah, that’s the one “More than Music”

    Had it bookmarked for the longest time from when I was getting deep into Phish in 2008.

  23. jerm Says:

    Check out the “Heartworn Highways” documentary if you are into Townes VZ, Guy Clark, Rodney Crowell, Steve Earle, Larry John Wilson, etc.

  24. guitarpicker420! Says:

    So, saw something fairly disturbing at the gym today. 80+ year old man blow drying his balls. Then when he was done, he sprayed axe deodorant on. I shit you not.

  25. phoammhead Says:

    ah nice, ramblin and mdawg – thanks!

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