The Festival Finale

7.3.11 - Watkins Glen Dave Lavery)

After all the tremendous music at Super Ball over the first two days, Phish saved their best (conventional) performance for last, closing the festival with their most impressive two sets of the weekend. With spectacular song selection, improvisation galore, and a sharp, four-minded communication, the band tore apart each of Sunday’s sets. Today, let’s discuss set two.

7.3.11 (G.Lucas)

The defining quality of the festival’s finale was the musical connection between the band members throughout. Despite what song or style they played, they were tapped in to each other’s ideas and created innovative music from each and every piece. The setlist may have looked a bit strange on paper, but Phish executed nailed their final frame of Super Ball superbly, and with a hearty dosage of risk-taking jamming.

With their communication skills shining after a creative opening leg and over ten hours of playing at the festival, Phish combined several launch pads into a set that never relented. The result was some of the most cohesive jamming of the weekend and a twisting musical adventure that ended with a fireworks display to match the musical theatrics. Some of the band’s most exploratory jaunts of the festival came in “Disease,” “Light,” and “Waves,” while the set was not short on grooves, featuring an explosive “Party Time” and the slick combination of “Ghost” and “Jibboo.” Within this stanza, Phish showcased their revitalized jamming for their audience with every piece they touched.

“Disease,” “Light” and “Waves” all explored variant styles of music while providing the central jams of the set. Breaking down the high-speed rock of “Disease” with groovier textures, Trey began chopping rhythm licks and the band responded with short offerings that created a percussive whole. Mike—much like the dynamic in “Golden Age”—began to throw down bass lines underneath the music that strongly influenced the direction of the jam as Trey, Page and Fish interacted up top. Then, slowing into a murky texture with Mike still at the helm, the band patiently—and seamlessly—bled into “No Quarter.” The set’s opening excursion had found gold.

7.3.11 D.Lavery)

The contour of Super Ball’s “Light” more closely resembled the multi-tiered versions of 2010 than the shortened outings we’ve seen this summer. Settling out of Trey’s guitar solo, the whole band band opened up the song’s jam for the first time, in earnest, since last fall and came up with an instant classic. Page initiated a melody that Trey latched onto immediately and sculpted into a delicate picking pattern that set the tone for the intricate experiment. All band members locked together in a forward-looking groove which, before too long, moved into calmer waters. Mike and Trey stepped forth to lead the band in through a totally original jam that moved—naturally—through a dreamy psychedelia and into a final section of new-age funk.

Pausing to exhale as they concluded “Light,” the band stepped right into “Waves.” A cathartic, festival-sized guitar solo graced the first half of the jam, while after the lyrical reprise, Phish dropped into the void. In a jam that featured soul-touching soundscapes, and harmonies you could feel as well as you could hear, the band showcased yet another brilliant improvisational style. At times evoking sounds of the Storage Jam from the previous night, Phish had the audience floating amidst a blissful, cosmic space, gradually increasing the intensity of the music and moving towards a perfectly-placed version of “What’s the Use?.”

7.3.11 (Dave Lavery)

In between these early and late set combos, the band dropped a blistering “Party Time” and combined unique renditions of both “Ghost” and “Jibboo.” As the guys reached a smooth yet driving canvas in “Ghost,” Trey and Mike’s interplay stood out again as each tore off infectious licks. Bringing the music into the uplifting realm, the band got into intricate interplay that didn’t focus on massive bass lines, but moved outwards quickly into abstract territory. And once the band reached an ambient plane, Trey came in with “Jibboo.” After using “Ghost” more unconventionally, in “Jibboo” the band came together in a monstrous, whole-band groove session that served as a mid-set peak.

Closing the frame with an anti-climactic choice of “Stealing Time” (“YEM” would have sealed the deal), the band had thrown down plenty of musical meat to satiate even the most jaded fan. And as the fireworks display started amidst the “First Tube” encore, continued through the post-show selection of Simon and Garfunkel’s “America” and into the post-show silence, we watched colors explode in mid-air —a physical manifestation of the musical pyrotechnics we had witnessed all weekend long. And with amidst this poignant silence, we had the chance to reflect on all that Super Ball was and forever will be—a historical weekend in Phish history.


Jam of the Day:

Light” 7.3.11 II

A top-notch rendition featuring a wide-open jam.



BOOK CONTEST #3: Don’t forget to get your second leg picks in to win a signed copy of “Mr.Miner’s Phish Thoughts: An Anthology By a Fan for the Fans.” Enter by clicking here! In book news, we are in the final layout and proofreading process and things look to be on schedule for a holiday season release! If you haven’t checked out the book site recently, you can now read about the anthology’s unique system of navigation through which you can read the book based on your own interests. (Think of the old-school “Choose Your Own Adventure” books we all read as kids.) Click over and check it out and reserve your copy today!

Tags: , ,

563 Responses to “The Festival Finale”

  1. MrCompletely Says:

    skullfuck miami darkstar

  2. sumodie Says:

    havent stopped by turntable room yet

  3. BrandonKayda Says:

    I’ve only listened to that one once @C – not sure if I want to again. What a monster.

  4. JP Says:

    thanks for the help C and Ramblin – will give .zip a shot or wait for the goodness from KP

  5. MrCompletely Says:

    the 71 stuff is high performance level blues/country/rock with great energy. early/short/different versions of a lot of the familiar songs and a fair amount of really good pigpen tunes (which isn’t always my thing).

    you know how there are a lot of “regular” phish songs that you go to like ’91-94 for? 71 is like that for a lot of rockin’ straight aheadish dead songs. very few open jams but those are all really good, 4 of which are mashed up in that dark star.

  6. JP Says:

    .zip worked, nice! thank you mr C! feel like a serious tech tool for not coming up with a sensible idea like that – anyway, thank you, psyched for more FTA

  7. MrCompletely Says:

    yeah, the miami darkstar isn’t friendly. read the comments on that archive page. its just really weird. but a lot of people just love it.

    (seriously, read the comments)

  8. RamblinMind Says:

    I stopped by the turntable room and panicked. Everyone was in there as their BB personas, and I was in there through my facebook account with my real persona. I felt so exposed.

  9. Phamily Berzerker Says:

    not to worry ramblin

  10. Phamily Berzerker Says:

    it is classic rock hour there

  11. MrCompletely Says:

    quotes from the Miami Dark Star page

    This music will freak out your house pets.

    It was like watching aliens land in your backyard….

    The aids warnings about hookers scrawled on the sidewalk all over had me daydreaming about death anyway…

    there is an undertow here that could have pulled the faint of heart out to sea.

    They were the shows that had power to be life changing. A true experience. If you were there, you know what I mean.

    The place was totally dosed, at least we were

    Oops, wrong day to trip out! Poor bastards!

    This is off the hook. This is Dark powerful freak the dogs out slap your grandma kinda powerful music.

    My dog even seemed to be on a full blown trip while this jammed

    This Dark Star sounds like the inside of an electronic pinball machine.

    If you want to take a journey into your psyche and see what associations lie in wait – fear not for the whole world is in this one Dark Star

    By the time Drums was hitting us, these poor folks were literally crawling up the aisles, covered in their own sick, trying to get out of the cauldron. A bizarre sight


    this is pull your hair out running screaming out the door music.

    My head is still whirling around that Dark Star! At one point, Micky & Billy were striking the ground with there sticks & It sounded like stars were exploding! I’m still trying to figure it out! After the show we went back home where I quit my job & have been on the road every since. I LOVE MY CRAZY LIFE!!!

    I wasn’t the same for days after THIS night…

    It was more than just sid and good Dead… This show was terrifying. I can remember all my friends asking me if I was “alight” for hours after this show. Truth was, I wasn’t…

    I will always hold this show dear to me. This is the night that I truly found myself along with some of my dearest friends.

    All I know is I wound up in Key West the next day still tripping my balls off and swiming with dolphins..

  12. Phamily Berzerker Says:

    ^ good times indeed!

  13. butter Says:

    Reading back, looks like I should eat AW’s cookies and listen to Miami Darkstar

Leave a Reply