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. SillyWilly Says:

    I guess the problem for me is the “objective existence” part.

    but we’ve been over this with each other, Mr. C.

    I guess I don’t really have a problem with it, until we start getting into transcendence and the like

    we can transcend but only briefly.

    the spirit – whatever it is – dies with you is the way I see it. So I’m basically down with perspectives that buy into this.

  2. sumodie Says:

    still pimpin that spac rumor, eh? i wouldnt complain if true

  3. alf Says:

    finally getting to bethel soundcheck waves. trey to page: wanna play a jammier song to get the feel of this soundsystem? how about waves, because we haven’t played it in a while?

    see y’all in a half hour

  4. Phamily Berzerker Says:

    Check out the ‘qatsi’ trilogy.

    They are pseudo-trippy symbolism movies with phllip glass doing the scores.

    Nice justaposition all around in those flicks.

    Princess Bride on HBO here in an hour and my youngest daughter ha never seen it so we are psyched for obvious reason. must have been the free slurpees we just quaffed…

  5. SillyWilly Says:


    what you’re describing is close to Hegel/Marx in my mind

    I don’t really see the harm in that perspective until you try to force the spirit to do what it’s theorized to do early.

    i think that’s what the Soviets did wrong. They said they could speed up The Spirit, but Marx said it would take thousands of years.

    i just don’t see the need to assign any value to anything but material.

  6. DukeOfLizards Says:

    It’s worth noting that Trey considers Waves – a song they added to the regular rotation this year – a “jammier song.”

  7. Mr.Miner Says:

    spac eh? im down at this point…my wife, well..thats another story

  8. SillyWilly Says:

    i wouldn’t be able to make SPAC

    but im all about more opportunities for Phish to create at the level they’re creating at right now

    more chances while Phish is feeling it

  9. RamblinMind Says:

    @Silly – Hegel thought that Spirit moved through history, but it was my understanding that Marx fully rejects anything like “spirit” and insists on a pretty strict materialism. Marx’s teleology is driven by material forces.

    Haven’t read Marx in a long time, come to think of it

    @Phish – Please play SPAC

  10. jonacho Says:

    Hijack –
    So regarding that Kuroda interview with Relix…
    Seems strange to me that he sounds so burnt out on being on the road. Phish isn’t touring all that much. If he is working with other bands, as he alludes to – why? Is Phish not paying him enough? If he is the 5th band member (and we all know he is) shouldn’t they be paying him enough that he doesn’t need to get other gigs and can weather the touring schedule?
    I have no idea of the man’s situation – it just seemed odd to me.
    And the bit about everyone knowing the Halloween cover also seemed odd to me. I thought this was one of the big Phish secrets.
    I have just been thinking about this since I read it.

  11. BingosBrother Says:

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

    Can’t believe y’all didn’t dig True Grit. One of the funniest films I’ve seen in a long time. I am a sucker for a western though. Yoohoo. I’ll make ya famous.

  12. SillyWilly Says:


    totally. but Marx picks up on the dialectic and allows for a metaphysical materialism. while it’s not the spirit Hegel is talking about, it’s close enough in my mind, to be problematic.

    “Society does not consist of individuals, but expresses the sum of interrelations, the relations within which these individuals stand.”

    of course this quote is what i’m thinking of when i find problems with Marx.

    Nietzsche blows this quote away. Sartre re-affirms Nietzsche.

    differently terminology between Hegel and Marx, but there’s still a problematic idealism going on. i called it the spirit, but i should have called it “idealism” and not completely the kind we think of when we use the word today. But, the kind where abstractions are valued on the level of existence.

    this is crazy talk. but i dig this stuff.

  13. SillyWilly Says:

    im sorry

    “while it’s not the spirit MARX is talking about, it’s close enough in my mind to be problematic”

    i wrote hegel and meant marx

  14. sumodie Says:

    never heard of Bombino till now but his album sounds great -stream tracks here:

    of course he’s playing this thursday in boston at brighton music hall -gears spinning as to whether I can make the trek…

  15. alf Says:

    umm… whoa

  16. plord Says:

    Alf – Damn straight.

  17. SillyWilly Says:

    yeah alf

    that’s how i felt too. “whoa”

    good night, all!

  18. BrandonKayda Says:

    Speaking of Beckett, I started Endgame today 😀

  19. SillyWilly Says:

    nice, BK

    you’re gonna love it. it’s hilarious.

  20. Mr.Miner Says:

    FTA link location?

  21. Jtran Says:

    SPAC dates would be sweet

  22. BrandonKayda Says:

    I also watched Koyaanisqatsi the other day. It was alright. I got the point of it anyhow. I’m just not sure if I can watch too many of those movies.

    Have you ever heard of Gerry? Movie is 100mins long with 100 frames…there’s a scene where Matt Damon walks for 7mins straight without saying a word and the camera never moves. The movie makes you feel extremely isolated (which fits since the 2 characters are in a big desert with nothing but mountains around them). There’s only like a couple paragraphs of dialogue in the whole thing, if even that. Kind of reminded me of Waiting for Godot

  23. JMelby Says:

    Miner. I believe the FTA that I got from Kaveh came from Demonoid. Some beautiful music Kevin laid down on us!

  24. sumodie Says:

    that old SPAC rumor…

    it is very odd that SPAC has nothing listed on its calendar for the last weekend in August: 26,27,28

    However, Saturday August 27th is the Travers Stakes at the racetrack, one of their largest races of the season

    SPAC may be dark that weekend precisely because of this huge horse racing event

    Never mind the difficulty of finding lodging that weekend if Phish were to announce shows there

    I’d guess no, SPAC ain’t happening (though I’d gladly eat crow)

    Meanwhile Bambino is sounding better & better to these ears….

  25. sumodie Says:

    SBIX FTA links from the Spreadsheet:

    (all FTA show links can be dl’ed here -mp3 format only)

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