Festival Phish

8.12.2011 - "Steam" (Eric Battuello)

Golden Gate Park—a locale like none other, and in many ways, the birthplace of the psychedelic revolution. But when Phish took the stage on Saturday night in San Francisco, there was little music of the mind to be heard as they showcased a long list of anthems for the Outside Lands audience. Powering through a veritable double-disc of greatest hits amidst a chilly fog from the bay, the band put on a glossy performance in the Golden City’s hipster haven, leaving a three-night blowout in UIC looming large.

Official Outside Lands Print

As the band favored “album-versions” of most songs, the improvisational highlights of the show were few and far between. Anchored by a thick “Tweezer” that swam amidst whole-band groove and saw the band peer into the storage shed momentarily, the first set also featured a set-closing “Mike’s Groove.” Call me a dreamer, but it feels like big things are to come from tour’s final “Tweezer” at UIC. The other segment of high-quality Phish-by-the-Bay came in the opening triumvirate of the second set in “Rock and Roll -> Steam > Piper.” A succinct jam in “Rock and Roll” set up a smooth segue into the long-awaited return of “Steam.” Bringing back their sole debut of summer for the first time since, Phish wove through the infectious groove led by a massive guitar solo by Trey. Before the jam had much of a chance to get anywhere, however, the band moved onto “Piper.” During “Piper” the festival audience got their only taste of open Phish jamming— something they weren’t afraid to let of the bag, in spurts, back at Bonnaroo.

When Phish moved abruptly from “Piper” into “Roses are Free,” they took the musical momentum of the set with them, taking the show home with ordinary song after ordinary song. Far more than a Phish show, this night felt like just an ordinary concert, but I’m not sure what crowd they were looking to please with this type of performance. I often think the band would be better served by showing up at these festivals and do what they do best—melt minds and faces. I can’t imagine there are too many converted Phish fans after last night’s show, and with a big pay day and nobody to impress, this festival slot seemed a bit phoned in. Sure, there were moments, and in the end, who expected much more? But more fundamentally, it is Phish’s approach to multi-band festival appearances that I am calling into question.

8.12.2011 (Eric Battuello)

The last couple mainstream festivals—Austin City Limits and Outside Lands—provided little musical substance for the masses to digest and take home with them. Back in ’09, however, the band dropped an experimental “Rock and Roll -> Light > 46 Days” on the Bonnaroo crowd, not to mention the most creative performance ever of “Kill Devil Falls.” When they filled in around these jams with anthems, their Bonnaroo performances felt very balanced. But last night, the balance was just not there. Song-heavy to the core, the Outside Lands show misrepresented the band to a slew of unfamiliar people ready to judge them and write them off. Well, one thing that indie journalists can’t accuse Phish of after last night is over-indulgent or unsuccessful jamming. The band just sidestepped that all together.

8.12.2011 (E.Battuello)

Perhaps for some, but not for me, the festival show had points of engagement, but not nearly enough to constitute an entire show—or even a single set. “Tweezer” will certainly get some spins over here, but I doubt I’ll be throwing this show into my listening rotation anytime soon. With straightforward song after straightforward song, the band didn’t truly offer the audience a glimpse into their genius, instead choosing a series of selections that resembled one long first set.

Following two shows that didn’t provide much lasting music, Phish is now primed for three big nights at UIC. The tour has gradually lost steam over the past week, having peaked with the Gorge’s first show. But something tells me that when the band steps inside in Chicago for the only indoor shows of 2011, that will all change. Hopefully, Phish will rev their motors back up to give the Gorge stand a legitimate bookend to the second leg of summer.

I: Kill Devil Falls, Wilson, Funky Bitch, The Moma Dance, Peaches en Regalia,  Sample in a Jar,  Possum, Tweezer > Mound, Suzy Greenberg, Axilla, Mike’s Song > I Am Hydrogen > Weekapaug Groove

II: Rock and Roll -> Steam > Piper > Roses Are Free, Julius, Life on Mars?, Birds of a Feather, Fluffhead, Backwards Down the Number Line, Also Sprach Zarathustra > Chalk Dust Torture

E: Cavern > Tweezer Reprise

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695 Responses to “Festival Phish”

  1. halcyon Says:

    D.OH….I forgot to mention that the Season opener is for SNL.

    SNL with Radiohead as musical guests.

  2. SillyWilly Says:


    I’m definitely projecting. But I think it’s safe because I really don’t mind the slowing momentum.

    no bad shows this tour. just clearly some that were better than others.

    i guess what i should be saying is when we look back at the tour i think it will make more sense.

    because that’s what I mean

  3. Skyballs Saxscraper Says:

    Whoa. Fragmented sentence slurry ahoy. Its early and I’m at work and coffee isn’t helping much.

    I don’t know, I’d rather not be The Guy who will skip a festival that showcases an appearance by his favorite band just because of the (mis)conception that they won’t blow up their set. The best non-Phish example I can think of against that line of thought is moe. from ‘Roo 2002 when they played the late night set (something I really wish Phish would do someday, and sort of got it granted at SBIX). That was pretty much the show that threw me headlong into moe. and various other bands at the time, cannot tell you how many spins it got in my car when I was in the midst of my frequent road-tripping days. I understand these circumstances were different, but it’s never a good thing to be kicking yourself later because you let a rager fly over your head. If that makes any sense at all.

  4. Admiral Ackbar Says:


  5. Mr.Miner Says:

    i dont think any hipsters enjoyed that show…just my take

  6. verno329 Says:

    Not an unexpected festival performance, imo. All will be forgiven at UIC. I’ve fallen behind on my downloads from this leg so that’s my plan for the weekend.

    And big shout out to my buddy Multibeast! Love finding out that old friends from real life are posters on the BB.

  7. butter Says:

    @Miner – I’m sure it doesn’t . My VIP tix wouldn’t even scan. Will tell u some time of extreme hassles associated with VIP/wheel chair/tix that wouldn’t scan. Ect.

  8. Gavinsdad Says:

    Would have liked a BOAF…but it’s all good. Happy to settle into a 3 pack. It’s one of my fave things…band gets comfy…hopefully throws down hard. Well see.

  9. Skyballs Saxscraper Says:

    Call me crazy, but doesn’t the hipster crowd like it when things get weird? Here, let me show you the inside of this storage shed…

  10. butter Says:

    My friend with a flannel shirt did enjoy it….he he

  11. DukeOfLizards Says:

    Mornin all


    I’m thinking the song rotation resets.

    UIC is the storage shed.

  12. Mr.Miner Says:

    @ skyballs… kinda what I was saying…why play a pop rock show to a hipster crowd?

  13. DukeOfLizards Says:

    Clearly they need to get back to the patient jamming that is typical of east coast shows.

    … wait what?

  14. gavinsdad Says:

    who has tzaras email?

  15. themanatee Says:

    my tahoe download codes worked

  16. Mr.Miner Says:

    @manatee sweet.

  17. Jtran Says:


    trey@phish.com obviously

  18. Jtran Says:

    My joke sucks now that I reread. I actually do, I’ll send it over 🙂

  19. Jtran Says:

    I’ll get back to my coffee now

  20. gavinsdad Says:

    thx J

  21. Robear Says:

    Top of the mornin all!

    Let’s face it, this west coast run has been a logistical mess. Except for some scattered highlights, the music has not elevated the way we all hoped and dreamed. Not a single two set smoker, like Greek 3 last year, or Bethel 2 this year.

    Still a ton of fun, in some amazing locales. But we will be forever left with “What could have been” with a nice three night run, or some more time off.

    Outside Lands being the only Bay Area show of 2011 seems like a huge failure to the scene IMO.

  22. btb Says:


    Duh…. 🙂

  23. Robear Says:

    Silly sez:

    I just think Tahoe (and I loved Tahoe 1) was too soon after the Gorge with a tough travel schedule from LA to Tahoe

    Then Tahoe 2 I honestly think they were looking ahead to UIC. They knew they had to think about song selection and they’re planning the throw down for UIC

    ^ the first part is on point, and could be quickly verified by talking to the crew.

    Your second statement is either a joke, or possibly the silliest thing you’ve ever posted here.

  24. William H. Bonney Says:

    first post since Gorge……..One of the life affirming experiences of my life. Without a doubt the most magical outdoor settings for a show I ever seen. So many great people, for me the relationships established thru a shared love of Phish is just as important. In the end the show will end but friendships will live on forever. Spending time with my brother and meeting many of you was truly a gift. Thanks to the BB and by the way two awesome shows were played too. Looking forward to continuing this shared state of bliss and love. UIC here we come. Peace.

  25. SillyWilly Says:

    yeah, I don’t know.

    i guess it’s just the feeling I got.

    It felt to me like there was this vibe surrounding Tahoe 2 and OL that they were just shows to pass the time to get to UIC

    it seemed like everyone I talked to kinda just shrugged and said: “UIC is gonna smoke.”

    just what i thought.

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