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. angryjoggerz Says:

    Silly, you coming to Tahoe, bitches?

  2. RamblinMind Says:

    Jesus, the bassist from Coheed and Cambria robbed a pharmacy for oxy on his way to Great Woods for a gig that he was playing

  3. halcyon Says:

    Damm C That Bombino video is smoooth.

  4. SillyWilly Says:

    I’ll be in Tahoe, AJ

    also, hoping to catch up around Pitchfork this weekend.

    might end up doing a day. Saturday or Sunday.

  5. RamblinMind Says:

    Train Song is a nice cool down number I wouldn’t mind hearing more of

  6. SillyWilly Says:

    dang, ramblin’

    Im guessing he doesn’t need a public defender.

  7. Mr. Palmer Says:

    first of all, I don’t believe this to be true at all.

    SPAC- last weekend of August. 26th, 27th, 28th. These dates were going to be announced earlier but a contract was signed with WG not to announce any dates in surrounding area until Superball ticket sales picked up.

    If you look at SPAC calendar, only weekend of the whole summer that isn’t booked.

    Take it with a huge grain of salt.

  8. DaNcInG fOoL Says:

    “as close to Beckett as I’ve seen American cinema ever get.”

    nice, off the top of my head i can’t think of anything that comes closer

  9. DaNcInG fOoL Says:

    i’ll be at spac this year

  10. DaNcInG fOoL Says:

    maybe terry gilliam

  11. SillyWilly Says:

    What other movies should I see, DF??

    Down by Law doesn’t stream on netflix…

    got some other absurd films?

  12. DaNcInG fOoL Says:

    “stranger than paradise” is considered jarmusch’s best film, i’d recommend that one too

  13. DaNcInG fOoL Says:

    oh, of course anything by the coen brothers is straight up absurdist

  14. halcyon Says:

    Brazil by Terry Gilliam.

  15. angryjoggerz Says:

    Nice, Silly Willy, on all accounts. More applause.

  16. Corey Says:

    Partial repost from page 5…

    Just finished listening in surround to the ball square late night set.


    First time since standing in the middle of it all a week ago. That’s the freest PHiSH I’ve ever witnessed, dare heard. Front row Rupp Gin? Nahh. Ambient set, IT? Nahh. This was truly out there PHiSH. To all those that say PHiSH doesn’t open things up, and take things…beyond. I say please, listen to this set and sit the frack down.

  17. SillyWilly Says:

    I applaud applause, AJ.

    yeah, i definitely dug Burn After Reading

    the Coen Brothers just deconstruct the shit out genres. At least, that’s when theyre at their best.

    but I didn’t like True Grit.

  18. plord Says:

    So I just filled in a listening gap and made a startling discovery.

    I *strongly* prefer the Fluxus mix of Cucumber Slumber on Material’s _Hallucination Engine_ album to any available recorded Weather Report version of the tune, live or studio. It’s not even really a contest. The Laswell joint wastes no time, hits every major theme, and is super cleanly produced with a serious underwater vibe. The organ fills are swankier and the filtered bassline gets a couple bars to shine; the ill horn riff is isolated, not buried under the tail end of a solo.

    It’s awesome.

  19. Gavinsdad Says:

    Stranger than paradise features one of fave bit actors Richard Edson…Though I skew more toward down by law (benigni=gold) and mystery train. Dig that molasses pacing of the early JJ.

  20. DaNcInG fOoL Says:

    i was really disappointed by true grit, it didn’t really feel like it had their style

  21. DaNcInG fOoL Says:

    this is one of my favs no one has seen it but it’s fucking brilliant

  22. MrCompletely Says:

    went back to read last nights chat

    Ken Wilber cleared up some of those issues for me when he pointed out the difference between a peak experience and stable adaptation. Having a profound spiritual experience at a phish show, or on psychedelics, or both, is a peak experience. You are temporarily raised up one of more levels of consciousness. But to be there every day, you have to do the hard work of becoming “stably adapted” to that level of awareness.

    IOW acid and/or phish can fly you to the mountaintop and give you a quick view from above. But then you find youtrself back where you started, more or less. If you want to stay on the mountaintop, you need to walk your ass up the damn mountain.

    Which is just to say that acid is great but proof is in the living.

    As for the question of what is spirit – I think it is real, physically real, with separate objective existence. But I think it is an emergent phenomenon which is created by the coherent massed activity of life, and of consciousness is particular.

  23. RamblinMind Says:

    So in your view, consciousness objectively exists as part of the material world, and it acts together with other “consciousnesses'” to produce a emergent, physical thing that we’re calling Spirit?

  24. RamblinMind Says:

    p.s. where’s that blissed out monkey guy meme, C?

  25. halcyon Says:

    Can’t stop listening to Bombino…..

    He is going to be back east in a few days, unfortunately my schedule isn’t going to allow us to see him. Hypnotic playing.

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