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!

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563 Responses to “The Festival Finale”

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  1. BrandonKayda Says:

    SBIX Light was one of the first I’ve heard that didn’t go into the ambient route at all. I dig it.

  2. PatonKauai Says:

    Amazing melt into No Quarter by Page and eruption by crowd at it’s first notes.
    Alone worth travelling from from Hawaii for.

  3. eljefe Says:

    BK- Zorn is the Man indeed.

  4. Mr. Palmer Says:

    The additions to the book website are awesome Miner. 500 pages! Damn, you aren’t messing around. Looking forward to checking it out. Best of luck putting the finishing touches together.

  5. Corey Says:

    Clearly saving the best set on paper and in ears for last, eh? Set 1 7.3, that is.
    Yeah, that’s the headiest PHiSH set I ever did see. So many folks singing America at the end. It was a wonderful moment. PHiSH festivals always seem to bring the element of hope back into life. Wish that vibe pervaded all of society…and for a lot longer than a wknd.

    First festival without You Enjoy Myself. Amazing. You know when you keep a 20 min. jauggernaut off the setlist…and no one seems to mind…well, you know that what you did play was completely satisfying, inspiring and original.

    Is it wrong to like a band covering a band more than said band being covered?
    I’ll answer that…No, no it isn’t.

    Good morning and good day.

  6. ThePigSong Says:

    I love where light goes, but cringe at those transitional scales Trey plays to get there.

    Am I alone in this feeling?

  7. camoeron Says:

    I loved that second set! From Big Balls to Light / Waves, it was pure bliss! Then came then mental smack down from cloud 9 of What’s The Use, Meatstick, Stealing Time. Still great music, but a head scratcher at the time, which to me seemed like their way of saying, “Yea, we’re going to hold back (what’s the use), see ya next time (year? hopefully) for something bigger, and until then, you know what to do (meatstick, stealing time)” Then Star Spangled to round out the holiday weekend, and First Tube to start everything over again.

  8. Selector J Says:

    Great write up, Miner. What a great set that was from the couch/birthing poolside. Didn’t even realize YEM had been passed over the whole weekend.
    Friendly reminder to the reggae heads, my show starts in about 25 minutes (7am TX time). It’s no but it is pretty good reggae, imho. :mrgreen:

  9. st8 of mind Says:

    Nice piece today Miner. Yes, that Light is very good. I hope they open up wide at the Gorge. It’s type II territory.

  10. Mike in Austin Says:

    Miner does it again. So much there, amazing to get that whole day into a page and a half. Maybe expected more on the Reba, as I thought that was a great effort by the band. Very patient jamming.

    I love reggae Thurs.

    I really enjoyed the Always great to have a soundtrack to BB meeting.

  11. SillyWilly Says:

    Good morning, kids

    Two weeks from today I’m done with my summer job.

    Its been a blast, but I’ve got a lot of intensity coming my way. Next Thursday my fate will be determined in PA…11 mos later…

    Then a week from Monday will be my first trial. I’m doing everything but the cross examination of the cop and the closing argument.

    Its gonna be crazy to see this head all suited up and trying to save a poor kid from jail

    At 5 pm July 28, ill have nothing between me and Phish in Tahoe except for some relaxation and chilling with my girl and family.

    Get ready for some Silly stories. I’m sure there will be plenty soon.

  12. litteringand Says:

    Need to listen back but in my completely biased opinion I prefer the DWD>No Quarter to the the Tweez>No Quarter. Thought I’d add a couple drops of blood for the shark tank

  13. Mike in Austin Says:

    Pre-Tahoe relaxation time is great. Time is flying by. Got my Cali air flights down yesterday and most of the hotel reservations. Starting to feel like Summer II right around the corner.

  14. kayatosh Says:

    morning folks.

    dj room is open

  15. lastwaltzer Says:


    Tahoe? how the fug did you work that one in?

  16. lastwaltzer Says:


    Tahoe?? How the fug did you work that one in?

  17. Phuzzy Says:

    LOL. Been trying to log into turntable at work for the last 3 days, unsuccessfully. Can’t login to FB from work. So, I tried to request a login w/ my email and the question “Who would win a wrestling match, lemmy or god.” Tried using funny answers repeatedly to no avail. Tried this morning by using “Lemmy IS God” and got through. Expect to be able to get in there shortly. Long live Rawk!

  18. Selector J Says:

    Boom! Phuzzy with the 411.
    I kept answering “trick question.” Apparently doesn’t give partial credit.

  19. lastwaltzer Says:

    Scorsese doc on George Harrison finally getting released in the fall

  20. Mike in Austin Says:

    Airheads jokes…

  21. kayatosh Says:

    re. turntable room need more than 1 dj for the dj to hear the music.

  22. kayatosh Says:

    gotta jet in 10. will be back later to read miner’s piece and dj up a storm. PEACE

  23. Phuzzy Says:

    Still don’t have any email from turntable. Maybe I just got on the waiting list. We shall see.

  24. BingosBrother Says:

    Jeebus, had no idea the fish people were talking about at IX was so HUGE!

  25. lastwaltzer Says:

    Day three was MAJESTIC. Easily placed in the top sets of 3.0.

    The sets structure is damn near perfect, placement is awesome. Hetty Jamz in both sets.

    And ummm: Light, Waves>WTU?!?!?!?!?!


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