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.



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563 Responses to “The Festival Finale”

  1. Lycanthropist Says:

    afternoon gents..

    hoping to get an email from turntable so i can see what all the fuss is about..

    you wait til i get the DJ chair..

    Bad Nirvana and Pearl Jam til your ears bleed 😉


    watched the TKOL FTB last night. I liked the new songs a great deal, and some of the arrangements of the Limbs tracks were pretty sweet.

    Overall though they just seem to have lost a lot of their fire. I hope that they tour soon and maybe get some energy back in them. I mean Thom was doing his dancing as usual, but as whole the band seemed pretty subdued and almost like they were just going through the motions…

  2. voopa Says:

    Mustache = narc

  3. poop goblin Says:

    Yes all those jams have been covered in recent pieces. The Reba > Bowie was the centerpiece jam of the day yesterday I believe.

    But mentioning all the above mentioned jams on a piece that specifically highlights the second set of the third night may not have made much sense.

    Custy ass bitch miner not even mentioning that mike used his meatball filter in destiny. Sheeeiitt!

  4. Lycanthropist Says:

    why do you guys even indulge the drive by trollers? 😉

    the guy clearly didnt even read the review..

  5. Mr.Miner Says:

    First festival without You Enjoy Myself.

    ^ untrue

  6. Lycanthropist Says:


    you could have at least offered up the festival that didn’t have YEM for the guy..



  7. Mr.Miner Says:

    clifford ball, lemonwheel

  8. lastwaltzer Says:


    word, I haven’t watched it, so I can’t comment on how “into it” they were. That said I heard that they were very nervous about the broadcast and the glastonbury performance.

    I think it may have to do with the fact that it seems a lot of the album was rearranged in post production and not recorded live. Where as “in rainbows” was a live album for the most part. They really have had to re arrange a lot of the limbs material so its like they’re playing these tunes for the first time. Thus the extra drums.

    I also remember reading Johnny said this is the first record they’ve done where there was no plan as to what would happen after the record was recorded. So they really are flying by the seat of their pants for the first time since The Bends, which to me is a great sign. Seems like the last thing they want is for this project to get stale.

    I also think the limbs stuff live sounds much more like a continuation of In Rainbows then the record does. Which again says to me that they really are trying to keep pushing them seleves then falling into old habits.

  9. Lycanthropist Says:

    ha ha.

    thanks Miner..

    great write up today.

    Such a great set, they may or may not be overshadowed by the three sets that came before it.

  10. lastwaltzer Says:

    Musically though I loved most of it. Really love that quasi african guitar stuff thom does on bloom.

  11. BingosBrother Says:

    Pitchfork goers(I’ll be at bitchpork custies 😉 )

    free 29 song lineup DL

  12. MrCompletely Says:

    dwd >> wtu is my favorite non storage jam segment of the weekend

  13. Lycanthropist Says:

    well put @LW

    it just seems that they seem a little lost on what it is they are supposed to do or want to do next with Radiohead.

    They all have successful side projects that probably seem much more exciting to them than Radiohead at the moment.

    That being said, I was extremely impressed with how they DID manage to translate the album to a live setting, most notably Bloom and Feral. These songs could provide some over the top psychedlic live experiences if they choose to take em to the stage.

    Would love to see a new concept on the Radiohead stage with the great new list of psychedelic tunes at their disposable:

    Twisted Words
    Pulled Apart by Horses
    The Butcher

  14. lastwaltzer Says:


    You got my email right? hit me up. Would love to say hello at some point.

  15. Chuck sweD Says:

    wtf does taad stand for?

    Triage Assessment for Addictive Disorders
    Theater Area Air Defense
    Texas Association of Appraisal Districts
    Test Analysis Approval Determination
    Traffic Analysis and Automatic Diagnosis
    Tobacco or Alcohol Attributable Disease
    Taxpayer Audit and Assessment Department
    Tri-Area Ambulance District
    True Amino Acid Digestibility
    Technology Assessment of Active Devices
    Thoracic Aortic Aneurysm Dissection
    Titties and a Dick

  16. lastwaltzer Says:


    In Johnny I trust. I love the little horn parts he has on those tunes and would expect that element to expand in the future as he gets more comfortable as a composer. Cat has talent. String charts on harry patch are awesome as well (although my girl swears they were lifted from Dances With Wolves).

    Would love to see some mix of electro/african/classical music.

  17. negev79 Says:

    morning all.

    hey @garretc, did you get your Hollywood Bowl ticket situation sorted?

  18. Robear Says:

    C, the licks at the 5 min mark of DWD blew the place up in about 2 measures of music. It was fireworks, bliss, and ‘is this happening? Don’t wake me if I’m dreaming’ until the end of WTU.

    At one point during Light, I thought to myself, not even a Meatstick can derail this set! Then I thought, oh damn, Trey might have picked up on that! I loved the stick. Seems like them throwing love to the Japhans. That’s how I view the tune now!

    Plus, I knew I couldn’t get 2 Mounds and no Meatsticks for the summer 😛

  19. Lycanthropist Says:

    my favorite non storage jam is definitely Golden Age

  20. bearito Says:

    @ Mr C –

    Im with you on that with a close 2nd being Golden Age >> Tweezer

  21. voopa Says:

    Anyone on the fence about Hollywood Bowl should check this out:

    Be a part of history!

  22. BingosBrother Says:

    “Titties and a Dick”

    Def this one.

    @lw : unfortunately I won’t be there. Many child related commitments this weekend. Been dyin to try one of AW’s cookies. Hopefully soon. BTW, Bitchpork is a real thing.

  23. Luther T. Justice Says:

    ^They didn’t mention Johnny Bravo’s (aka Greg Brady, aka Barry Williams) performance at the bowl in 1974. Weak.

  24. bearito Says:

    @ Chuck

    No, I believe it stands for

    Tasmanian Aardvark Appreciation Department

  25. dorn76 Says:

    @chuck and @bingos, most defnitely the last one.

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