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”

  1. butter Says:

    nope, not the golgi at all for me Cable

    rockin Phish, just the Trey that plays more notes rather than the egoless maestro he’s shown us lately

    i’m a huge Light head, and the LightTeca isn’t in the top tier of Lights for me. give me Tahoe, Greek, SBlix or UIC any day of the week over the mashup lighteca

    this is coming from a fan that thought the levels attained in Woost1 and AC 1 would never be seen again, so I’m talking about taking our expectations and blowing them away.

    not all trying to take anything away from a Woost 2 set 2 or AC set 2, when i won’t stop raving about the exceedingly high level of improvisational rock n roll (very reluctant to give it a name, but its fun to regurgitate terms) displayed by our band.

  2. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    it’s hotter than asphalt
    it’s hotter than pistols
    I’m as bent as a crowbar
    we all want some release

    @silly
    business before bidness
    take care of the thing that’ll give you the chance to do more things

  3. MiA Says:

    The city is swarming with beautiful women who aren’t wearing much.
    Heat wave ’12. If you’re single, it’s not a terrible place to be.

    Austin is this way all summer. Good points and bad points.

  4. butter Says:

    sacrifice’s are important to getting ahead in your career Silly

    i skipped BC as i had just bought my 2nd house and had two mortgages to pay and the ends just wouldn’t meet if i had gone down to Florida

  5. vegas wolfmans Says:

    I also fail to hear the brilliance of the LighTeca. Well played set, but it is unlikely I’ll spin it again. Worcester 1 and AC 1- hell yes. Particularly Worcester 1 set II. That is great phish- any era. Undeniable.

  6. Mr. Palmer Says:

    Tend to agree Butter. I was much more caught up with the Crosseyed->Slave and then the late set Sand than Lighteca. Lighteca was a lotta fun though. The BB crew was dino-stomping around those back speaker stacks…throwing it down.!

  7. Mr. Palmer Says:

    The segue into Slave was gorgeous because you could hear it coming minutes before it actually occurred. I think Willowed was the first to turn to us and say “Slave? “. Well played spunion monkey

  8. vegas wolfmans Says:

    Crosseyed is never a bad thing. I find the “still waiting” teases throughout the remainder of the set to be distracting. (not in the building- may have loved it in person)

  9. butter Says:

    ^ in the end and beginning; dinostomping’s all that mattered

  10. vegas wolfmans Says:

    ::opens the door, gets on the floor, walks the dinosaur::

  11. robear Says:

    Room for someone’s to do Watwrwheel for next three shows.

    No worries Silly. Get the job. What can u do over the wknd though?

  12. butter Says:

    wow AC1 Bott was really in that slurry space of what music on nitrous sounds like, without having to deplete one’s brain of O2

  13. Mr. Palmer Says:

    Pretty sure the Worcester Sand is the the exact definition of Miner’s term, “Musical Density”. 8 minutes of awesome

  14. butter Says:

    Miner great review again, the point you make about the rest of the boys being pre programmed over the last three years to go thru the final chord change, heading for the ending of Free after the bass solo is on the $$$$

    i thought at times, the song is handcuffed even if Trey wants to jam it, but maybe they found the key to the cuffs and a jammed Free is coming to a town near you soon.

  15. SillyWilly Says:

    I’d lose all day tomorrow getting to Cinci, Robear

    and a lot of Monday getting back

    plus, I’d be good for nothing. Anxious about every little thing. Worrying my ass off.

  16. SillyWilly Says:

    I’m already having a tough time settling down as it is.

  17. Kevin Says:

    Miner,
    It’s interesting how our musical experiences were so different on both nights. Normally I agree with you, but in this case, our wires were totally crossed.

    I agree that the first night didn’t have a great flow to it, and the song choices were really bizarre at times. But from my seat, I didn’t feel like the antics really got in the way of the music (unlike the AC 2010 Zepplin stuff).

    I actually thought night 1 had the most interesting jams of either show. Melt, Gin, Faulty Plan, and Maze all got my socks off. Last night, I thought the Tweezer and Hood had some interesting moments, but that was about it for me. I still had a great time, but definitely walked out feeling a little bummed last night. Just didn’t feel like the band was connecting. It happens.

    Anyway — I can’t disagree with what you wrote. I was just surprised at how much our experiences differed from night to night on this run.

  18. Mr. Palmer Says:

    silly- nothing to do with the test, is it? Whatever it is, take care of it like T3 said. You need a long walk on the AC boardwalk to clear your head is all..

  19. MiA Says:

    I’ve had anxiety. Tough when there is nothing you can do at 2:30 in the morning, but you can’t sleep. Have to learn to Jedi through some of that stuff.

    What SW is doing is responsible. Gonba miss chillin with him. Hope nobody else backs out.

    Cincy = Frankenstein Enc.

  20. robear Says:

    Ahhhh. No worries will. Just trying the last bit of encouragement. I’m the red guy on your shoulder.

  21. MiA Says:

    I’m learning to accept my typos too. No more Paddlin from me. Life is too short.

  22. Litteringand Says:

    Watching AC2 on my tv like I’m going over game film. I don’t know if I have ever needed to decompress so much in my life. I am so ready to get the fuck down

  23. robear Says:

    Any way to listen to the nba game free online? No tv at
    Cabin. No am reception

  24. MiA Says:

    Butters dispatches from Tahiti. Love it.

  25. MiA Says:

    Listening to Floyd’s “Welcome to the machine”

    Appropos.

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