A Southern Scorcher

6.20.12 (Michael Stein)

In stark contrast to their first show in Portsmouth, Virginia, on Wednesday night Phish threw down a heavy hitting, two-set affair with jams aplenty, several bustouts and a pair of well crafted sets. The ominous tone of the music provided balance to lighter feel of the first night, providing the yang to the latter’s yin. And where night one was light on improv, night two provided a coherent musical journey. Boasting flow from the beginning of the show the through the end, last night sits among the most robust overall performances of this young tour. Let’s take it from the top!

Unofficial Portsmouth Print (Masthay)

When the band stepped on stage to start the show, they immediately rolled out six 2012 debuts, including sought after bustouts, “Ha Ha Ha” and a sign-induced “Dog Log.” The fresh setlist gave the show an energetic jump-start without needing a lick of jamming. Also included in this sequence was a mid-set rendition of “Divided Sky,” a song that provided far more of a treat with its diminished role in the rotation. But when the summer debuts ended, the band kicked into high gear with “Mike’s Groove.” A slowed pace and thunderous groove of “Mike’s” rattled the undersized environs and the show was off and running. “Weekapaug” provided the the first glimpse of the outstanding, full-band communication we’d see from all night as Trey tore off continuous melodies over a popping groove that was anchored by Fishman’s smooth work on the skins. The first set wound to a close with a four song run that included another two 2012 premieres in “Ya Mar” and “Bold As Love.” Trey wove the “Ya Mar” lick quite smoothly, albeit a bit early, into the liquid textures of “Cities” and the band switched into the summer favorite. When “Bold As Love” seemed like it would close an extended first set, the band punctuated the frame with a nuanced “Juluis,” a jam that Fish and Mike framed to perfection with a shuffle beat pocket. With such a pronounced first set, the second was sure to bring huge things. And it did.

6.20.12 (M.Stein)

Taking both “Rock and Roll” and “Tweezer” off the shelf for the first time since Bonnaroo, Phish combined the two crowd favorites in a fantasy sequence to spark the second half. Forging through “Rock and Roll’s” composed jam with notable rigor, the band was clearly locked and loaded for a big set. The progressed out of song structure with a slick, Trey-led, slowdown and passed quickly into an ethereal spacescape. Trey favored loops and effects amidst this elegant sonic mystery. Hinting at a Digital Delay Loop Jam, this segment painted a portrait of the universe’s outer realms before Trey slinked into the “Tweezer” for which so many on tour had been jonesing. Playing through the actual song with all sorts of bells and whistles, Phish revved their collective motor and prepared to enter freezer.

From the onset of the jam, Page assumed leadership, pacing the quartet with his piano chords and assuming the melodic lead as Trey remained in the background. Coiled like a viper behind the groove, Trey alternately raised his head and struck with accented licks, effected layers of sound, rhythm chops, and outright leads. All the while, Mike and Fish remained locked in urgent and powerful dance rhythms. Page hopped to his clavinet and brought the “Tweezer” into Crunchville with a filthy tangent, and the crowd responded to the change of texture with roars of delight. Snapping into “Tweezer’s” traditional build, Red brought the house down with a soaring final peak before the guys slid through an outro groove and smoothly into “Free.”

6.20.12 (M.Stein)

Used as a landing pad for the past three years, it seemed that is exactly what was happening last night. But, momentarily, things got very interesting. As the band seeped out of Mike’s bass solo, Trey began to slice and dice the jam like he hasn’t in years, including a short plinko line that seemed to be pushing the band into the first “Free” jam of 3.0! But he forgot to tell his bandmates. Having been programmed since 2009 to go right to the song’s final chord changes out of the bass solo, that is exactly what the rest of the band did. Trey’s attempt was in vain, but perhaps this illustrates a willingness to stretch out one of the band’s long lost jams of the modern era.

The unquestionable highlight of the night, however, had still yet to be played. The stylistically opposing “Guyute” and “Birds of a Feather” provided a mid-set buffer before the guys jumped of the deep end into a profound “Harry Hood.” Once again, Trey laid way back as the band joined forces, allowing Page and Mike to set an ambient tone to things from the jump. Trey merged with this idea, offering minimalist “Hood” licks to the collective, and then layering his own psychedelic offerings into to a thickening dreamscape. Utterly awing in every sense, the band built an abstract take on an old tale, captivating the crowd with their originality. This excursion reached planes that “Hood” rarely, if ever, touches, and provided a welcome improvisational diversion. And when things reached their most abstract, Trey coyly laid in the melody of “What’s the Use?!” The band all took heed and adjusted within measures, sculpting another staggering summer segue.

6.20.12 (M.Stein)

The Siket Disc instrumental blanketed the pavilion with its post-apocalyptic sound, though the band—not rushed at all—moved through the piece with a bit more tempo that usual. As “What’s the Use?” came to an end, Fishman made the obvious decision and moved directly back into “Hood’s” cadence—it seemed that the band would complete their early classic. But as Page took over with a piano solo leading away from the song, the band missed a golden opportunity for another magnificent transition. Page’s hijack took the set into “Velvet Sea,” which, given the larger musical circumstances, wasn’t altogether inappropriate. The stage seemed set for a monster “YEM,” but—for whatever reason—the band is holding back their seminal piece this summer and, instead, turned to “Possum” to close the second set.

The Final "Tuck" (M. Stein)

The encore provided thematic closure on nTelos Pavilion’s two-night stand as Trey came out and quietly played the Star Wars theme before the band launched into a final tucking” episode in “Sleeping Monkey.” During the song, Trey put his guitar down and serenaded Fishman, finally asking him to come out for one last “tuck.” And as you might guess, Fishman was more than happy to oblige. Torching the venue aflame with “Tweezer Reprise,” Trey stomped like a madman around the stage, pushing the 6,500 person crowd into a frenzy. And when the guys took their final bow of the night, everything seemed back on track in Phishland as they prepare to invade the Midwest.

I: Sparkle, Ha Ha Ha, AC/DC Bag, Divided Sky, Dog Log, Undermind, Mike’s Song > I Am Hydrogen >Weekapaug Groove, Cities -> Ya Mar, Bold As Love, Julius

II: Rock and Roll > Tweezer > Free, Guyute, Birds of a Feather, Harry Hood -> What’s the Use? > Wading in the Velvet Sea, Possum

E: Sleeping Monkey > Tweezer Reprise

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754 Responses to “A Southern Scorcher”

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  1. Dr Pronoia Says:

    Ha, from my desk chair I wanted so much more of the R&R ambient jam and the Tweezer one too, but that Hood did partially redeem those decisions, which seemed from close up like Trey’s alone (some baffled looks from Page, Mike trying to keep the jam going, etc)

    just being greedy I suppose, but I was anticipating more frustration from your review, Miner. Glad you had such a great time

  2. lifeboy-r-dee Says:

    dang right, mr miner! your reviews/re-caps always seem to capture the moments so well. i thought that was a hell of a show, even from the couch!

  3. MiA Says:

    Selwctor!

  4. Bing Says:

    Bang on as usual mister miner. Except your comment about Trey trying to jam Free for the first time in Phish 3.0. What about Worcester? That was a fantastic Free jam after Mike’s bass solo.

  5. Mr.Miner Says:

    no frustration here 🙂

    Thought it was a great show and even better on listen back.

  6. Dr Pronoia Says:

    Awesome. Excited to listen back myself. Those few loopy minutes of R&R were divine

  7. yalta balt Says:

    I guess I was at a different show. Highlights are dog log undermind mikes that’s it for the show. Second set was a nightmare…that tweezer goes Nowhere and the free might have well not been played at all. And when the “highlight” of the second set is WTU its always a problem. If they went back into hood the set could have been salvaged but….nope Velvet Sea?!?! Not good. Big red was jumpy all night and it showed in the second set with no quality jams. Just another take.

  8. RoosterPizza Says:

    Very good news about Free. I have been waiting for this, and I hope they are all on the same page for a Free jam next time.

  9. Guyute711 Says:

    What up Selector? Good to finally meet you.

  10. JerZ Says:

    Wow did not expect this review. You are such a positive dude miner! Maybe I was just grumpy last night but I thought second set was a full on train wreck

  11. RicksFork Says:

    Great review! I had a blast from the couch (actually kitchen) last night. Great call on the R&R>Tweez too Miner.

  12. Mr.Miner Says:

    train wreck? must have been at a different show for sure. 😉

  13. Selector J Says:

    Large up to the BB massive. Good to meet many of you at AC.

    Sorry I wasn’t more social towards the end of the show…
    BB posse don’t mess around. Kangfirmed.

  14. Mr.Miner Says:

    Highlights are dog log undermind mikes that’s it for the show.

    ^ huh? Did you take the brown acid?

  15. poop goblin Says:

    I usually agree with Miner and I tend to get bored on the stream but I was a bit under whelmed last night

    been waiting for Undermind and it was basically jamless. Mike’s was decent but a photocopy of the other 2 versions of tour. Ya Mar didn’t even get a nice Trey solo on it. Cities jam was non existent.

    Rock N Roll was pretty wanky before a couple minutes of ambient bliss. Tweezer seemed wanky too. kinda guitar heavy. as was Birds. not much there but Trey wailing around. Free > Guyute killed all the energy that had been goin.

    last few minutes of Hood were nice no doubt and always love WTU but for me not enough top shelf meat in the set to save it.

    throw in a velveeta cheese possum to close and I turned off the stream early to spin twist > piper > Breathes from AC

    not a terrible show by any stretch but RnR > Tweezer didn’t floor me which was the only true highlight other than hood

    oh well just my thoughts from the couch. see ya kids on tour soon.

  16. Mr.Miner Says:

    damn. people are harsh. Miner is a fluffer.

  17. alf Says:

    wasn’t really feeling either show on webcast….. which i attribute to me being in my living room watching a webcast

    webcasts suck, i’d say i won’t be doing that again. just made me pissed to be missing the real thing.

    on to the midwest, bitches

  18. Mr.Miner Says:

    odd. I had a BLAST, and then thought it was even better on listen back…

  19. Dr Pronoia Says:

    ^^ that seemed to be the consensus from the couch gallery last night

    I smell an interesting day on the BB

    Again, it was a revelation watching from that close and from that vantage it seemed that the set choices weren’t consensus, flow driven, but were all Trey, with looks and frustration evident from mike and page

    Maybe that accounts for the difference in opinion, getting to see that up close band interplay?

  20. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    this is a first.

  21. Dr Pronoia Says:

    Arrows intended to poop g

  22. Guyute711 Says:

    Kinda surprised with the very positive review myself. I must have the serious jade going but that show ended my thoughts of hitting Star Lake.

  23. Mr.Miner Says:

    if they went back into Hood for 1:30 second and then played Bowie/YEM instead of Possum, everyone would be oohing and ahhing imo 😉 haterz.

  24. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    @selecta
    where are they hiding the request link on the new page?

  25. Dr Pronoia Says:

    There’s a Pine Knob-esque show on deck for sure for the Midwest

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