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. Fatbunch Says:

    @Robear- still need those dl codes 4 gorge? If so I will hit up some peeps.

  2. butter Says:

    agree that there are patterns hba

    part of the human trip

  3. verno329 Says:

    I love the discussions on this board people have about the different ways we all enjoy our shows. As long as people show respect for differing opinions we all learn and grow. I see some good points in Schneed’s post and in hba21’s post. Robear’s point about the song choices for 1st sets is excellent. And I’ve been taking the approach that AW just mentioned regarding not trying to tell Trey what to do with HIS art just to accommodate my desires since the beginning of Summer Tour this year and found myself enjoying listening at home a lot more. Really helped me open myself to surrender to the flow at Charlotte this year. In the end Phish always wins!

  4. albert walker Says:

    nice Butter. great hotel. wish we were in SF longer. such a great city.

    today I got baking and cleaning while studying all the shit I missed with the world falling a part last week.

    letting the lungs heal for the day too. vapes only.

  5. SillyWilly Says:

    Good morning, kids

    Just getting my mind right this morning with some girl friend chilling

    I hung out with Tzara’s Ghost for most of the day yesterday. Tried to hook him up with some midwestern brews in Chicago.

    He’s still searching for a Bell’s Two Hearted on tap. Lots of bottles, but we didn’t find one on tap.

    soaking up some tour excitement right now. in between shows. relaxing.

    great time.

  6. Mr palmer Says:

    Bit chilly here in Illinois. Won’t be inside the arena though.

  7. SillyWilly Says:

    @Mr. P

    kicking it with family today?

  8. butter Says:

    same same AW, have a pretty sexy tour cough when i puff

    vape time

  9. butter Says:

    excited for ya Silly and Mr P. is Kaya coming?

  10. SillyWilly Says:

    I don’t think Kaya can make it, butter.

    Gonna miss him.

    Great to see you and your wife, butter.

    Sad that bigjig can’t make it. Had a great conversation with him.

    Lots of people involved in the perma-grin on my face.

  11. DukeOfLizards Says:

    Still hasn’t really hit me that I am one day away from a three-night run.

    Probably won’t until the lights go down in the storage shed tomorrow.

    http://qkme.me/6k7d

  12. butter Says:

    got the last three shows on the phone….ready to hit the gym

    yo bigjig, ya lurkin?

  13. butter Says:

    its dark and jammy inside UIC

  14. Fatbunch Says:

    @Robear – the net has been cast…:) I’m sure we’ve got some valid unused to shoot your way.

  15. Mdawg Says:

    UIC Bitches!!!!!!!!!!

  16. Robear Says:

    Much thanks @ FB!

  17. Fatbunch Says:

    Doh! I did it again… (sorry Miner) No more posts from the fabunch…

  18. Fatbunch Says:

    @Robear – you’ve got mail!!! 😉

  19. BingosBrother Says:

    Just watched Bittersweet Motel. Gettin fackin pumped! 1st show since Alpine last year. Can’t wait til the lights go down. http://www.quickmeme.com/meme/6itq/

    Repost

    For Monday UIC go’ers, there are a couple cool bands afterwards I’m thinking of hitting. Skylark has some cool jazz goin w/ a $5 donation. Cheap drinks and bar food(tots baby)about a mile away. Or Reggies has a sweet funk band. Also w/ cheap drinks and bar food. Plus a shuttle to and from the shows if u want. any other ideas?

    http://www.skylarkchicago.com/events/

    http://reggieslive.com/rockclub/

  20. BingosBrother Says:

    Just watched Bittersweet Motel. Gettin fackin pumped! 1st show since Alpine last year. Can’t wait til the lights go down.

    For Monday UIC go’ers, there are a couple cool bands afterwards I’m thinking of hitting. Skylark has some cool jazz goin w/ a $5 donation. Cheap drinks and bar food(tots baby)about a mile away. Or Reggies has a sweet funk band. Also w/ cheap drinks and bar food. Plus a shuttle to and from the shows if u want. any other ideas?

    http://www.skylarkchicago.com/events/

    http://reggieslive.com/rockclub/

  21. Mr palmer Says:

    Silly- yes. Family time till Tuesday. I’ll be in the city early Tuesday. Little bummed about missing the opener but it’s a sacrifice I’m willing to make. We are basically staying on a farm which is pretty cool. Kids digging it.

  22. Robear Says:

    My friends bought Tahoe tix from stub hub. The DL codes had already been used when they tried to redeem them.

    The nerve.

    Thx @ fat bunch! Just got em.

  23. tela'smuff Says:

    thought Schneed made some good points, as does AW

    bottom line for me right now is just enjoying this ride as much as i can when i’m at shows. i had a great week and can’t ask for anything more.

    i do agree that they need to mix up the setlists a bit more. one extreme to another with breaking records of most songs played in a year to a really limited rotation of Possums and Julius’s.

    but again, give me that RNR and Light and i’m happy. They could have ended the shows after Boogie On and Slave and I would have left satisfied.

  24. AintNoTele Says:

    UIC Bitches!!!!

    ::Lurking driveby complete::

  25. Phamily Berzerker Says:

    commencing sincere listen to RnR>meatstick>boogie on

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