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. bearito Says:

    Hey BB! I’ve been off the grid since returning from Watkins. I’d like to share a bit about how life can surprise you when you least expect it.

    After making the solo 25 hour trek to Watkins semi-last minute, I had a lot of time to process those things that we often put on the back burner. Life, direction, relationships, purpose, happiness, yada yada yada…

    So after getting my head completely unhinged by the AWESOME experiences in Watkins, I returned home with the Ball on my back, ready to move forward and make some important changes in my life, and most importantly, in my relationship.

    So when my slf of almost six years, whom I also co-habitate with, tells me upon return that she’s not sure she wants to do “this” anymore, all of my newfound excitement and progress pretty much just got up and git’. Needless to say, this last week I fell apart and entered a very dark and surreal place. I couldn’t even re-spin the shows for a momentary reprieve due to my headspace.

    Well, in order to repair what I could, I pulled out all the stops. From giving her space, flowers, a lengthy hand written letter, a new mix-tape (very special in our world), to setting up a home-spa setup for when she returned from work, followed by an amazing intimate dinner at a great restaurant two nights ago, I exhausted all necessary rectifiers!

    Well I’m very happy to share that my work in rekindling my relationship has proven successful, not without some new commitments of course, but that’s what life is all about. Learning and growing are the only way to stay the course, whether in a relationship or simply within ourselves. I really am overwhelmed by what has transpired this last week.

    I want to thank Phish for their BRILLIANCE and this board for it’s immense amount of great thought and opinions on not only this wonderful music that we share, but on life itself! And thank you Mr. Miner for bringing it all together!

    #sorryforthehijack 🙂

  2. Phamily Berzerker Says:

    Today is 7-11.

    Free slurpees today.

    That is all.

  3. MrCompletely Says:

    haven’t read Game of Thrones, but we’ll watch the series on DVD or something and I’ll see what I think.

    Have you read the Shadow of the Torturer series by Gene Wolfe, @lycan? That was the last ‘adult’ fantasy series I read, though it’s arguably not really fantasy as there is an implied science-fiction backstory that underlies the whole thing…anyway, talk about moral ambiguity, the protagonist is a disgraced apprentice from the Torturer’s Guild….Wolfe is a superb prose writer as well, a serious literary talent working in genre fiction…highly recommended.

    Less highly recommended – that is, still recommended, but with more caveats, is this thing:

    It’s a picaresque, meaning it basically just follows their travels without much of an overriding plot, and is exceedingly gruesome, and I do mean exceedingly – it crosses the line into being downright disgusting more than a few times – but it’s also funny and unique. I found it more interesting than anything else, and sometimes off-putting, but read the descriptions and see if it might interest you

  4. MrCompletely Says:

    and yes you can clicky my name to find various downloads including the mixes mentioned earlier.

    Sounds like quite the week, @bearito. Hope all continues on the right path for you and your lady.

  5. MrCompletely Says:

    srsly @lycan if you haven’t read the Wolfe series it’s kind of a “run don’t walk” thing

  6. MrCompletely Says:

    “What’s next, reading batman graphic novels again? Sure…why not.”

    No, but there are other graphic novels worth checking out that kick Batman square in the nuts IMO

  7. MrCompletely Says:

    best comic/graphic novel series running now is DMZ ****by far****

    absolute must read. probably the most politically/socially relevant and moving work of fiction currently running. Many times better than ANY new novel I have read in years.

  8. MrCompletely Says:

    (anyone who doesn’t know that comics/graphic novels are a more relevant and lively medium than novels right now…well, it pretty much is, and has been for a long time)

  9. Spasm Waiter Says:

    Hey Folks- Been lurking just a bit as the fishing charters have been consistent lately. No complaints form me. Regardless, I have been taking in all the goodness that was SBIX. So much goodness. I have listened to the Reba only once and will need to go back to fully appreciate its greatness. I think Leg 2 is going to go “buck wild”.

  10. tela'smuff Says:

    there are some very good Batman graphic novels. comic book collecting is just another one of my obsessive collecting habits. you’re right though Mr.C. many tv shows and movies, outside of Thor and Green Lantern, are being used as ideas for shows, i.e Walking Dead, which is awesome by the way.

  11. voopa Says:

    Wow, Hope Solo is hot! She may replace Brandi Chastain as my top soccer lady.

  12. tela'smuff Says:

    voop – you are not kidding. google search confirms this.

  13. Mr palmer Says:

    Hope Solo?

    Where’s Ackbar?

  14. Mulitbeast Says:

    I have a huge comic book collection. Stopped a few years ago but still go in to my local comic book shop and pick up graphic novels. All Star Superman was the last one I read, before that the Long Halloween. Both good but both based on traditional characters. Therefore, I am going to pick up DMZ for sure, as it appears to be a litte outside of my comic book reading ‘box’. Thanks for the suggestion C.
    And yea….the walking dead was/is a great graphic novel

  15. Mulitbeast Says:

    @haly – thanks for the costco heads up on the Game of Thrones books!!

  16. Admiral Ackbar Says:

    Right, @voopa?

    The way he always wears his shirt so roguishly unbuttoned and the way he stands up to Imperial forc-

    :rereads voopa’s post:

    :jumps to hyperspace:

  17. Mdawg Says:


    can you email me? mdawg422 at yahoo dot com

  18. MrCompletely Says:

    no disrespect to the OG Miller Dark Knights and such. Re-read some of those not long ago and they held up pretty well.

    However, Miller stole the ending of Dark Knight….from himself! Check out the collected “Elektra: Assassin” miniseries Miller did with Bill Sienkiewicz (sp?). Blew my mind, re-reading the two right after each other…IMO Elektra is the best thing Frank Miller has ever done, hands down, no competition, nothing else is even on the same tier. The art is utterly sick and psychedelic as hell, the plot is brilliant and subversive, especially for the early 80s…man, that thing is a fucking gem.

    Generally, I don’t do superheros and haven’t since Watchmen first dropped. That kind of stuck a fork in superheroes for me. One modern exception is Astro City, which I do recommend pretty highly.

  19. Luther T. Justice Says:

    Ackbar trapped again!

  20. Mulitbeast Says:

    good recs on the board today. Astro City looks very cool.

    Embarrassed to say, i have never read Miller’s Elektra. Read all of his batman books, even including the not very good all star batman.

  21. Kaveh Says:

    Where is KP today? That video link I posted is out of the world hilarious.

  22. Mdawg Says:

    not sure how many of you go on but if you liked my slideshow of sbix you can vote for it. I submitted it for their essay contest. if not, no worries.


  23. angryjoggerz Says:

    Mdawg, email sent.

    For mixtape and funk lovers, do not, do not, do not sleep on the Flying Lotus Lovers Melt 2 mix he dropped for the summer. Shit is flavor.

    No tracklisting, but it is right on track.

  24. fat bastard Says:

    mr c reads and/or listens to music 30 hours a day. how does he do it?

  25. MrCompletely Says:

    some oldschool, lesser known comics from when I was collecting as a kid, that I can recommend without reservation:


    sci-fi superhero but with a brilliant dark edge. protagonist is given nearly infinite power but is forced to use that power to track down and kill villains, particularly mass murderers. First few dozen issues are absolutely choice, top level stuff. Plus…Judah Maccabee, one of the best characters ever.


    Started off as a series called “The Metamorphosis Odyssey” in Epic magazine, the utterly superior but doomed competitor to Heavy Metal. The OG series ends with the destruction of our galaxy, which you might think would pose a problem for future plotting, but nope…again, the first couple dozen issues are great, up til the change in Dreadstar’s powers (no spoilers) and the run definitely ended when Jim Starlin stopped writing…like Nexus, Dreadstar features one of the greatest secondary characters in comics history, Syzygy (not to be confused with Zzyzyx)

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