Blister in the SPAC

Official SPAC Print (Kelly)

A night after Phish showcased their sinister and creative side, the came out Saturday with a far more playful affair, weaving Violent Femme’s “Blister in the Sun” throughout a second set that lacked back-end flow—a problem that has plagued more than a few shows this tour. Despite the momentum-stalling, mid-set selections of “Number Line” and “Scent of a Mule,” the band never allowed any second-half jam to breathe other than the opening “Disease.” With a far more fun than serious night of music, the band has left quite a bit hanging for their tour finale.

While crafting a smoking opening frame, Phish largely left the bust out stone unturned in favor of a modern-shaped setlist. Though the guys sounded tight from the jump, the set picked up considerable steam as with the drop into “Cities.” Steering the piece into Plinksville, the band let things grow for the first time of the night as the liquid grooves enveloped the pavilion. Seamlessly moving into a maniacal “Maze,” Page destroyed the place with his organ solo, bringing the audience to its most energetic point thus far by leaps and bounds.

The second standout pairing of the set began with the second appearance of Zappa’s “Peaches En Regalia” this summer. Using the short instrumental to launch into “Bathtub Gin,” here would come the undeniable highlight of the opening frame. Within the slow cadence of the jam’s onset, Trey took hold of the jam and never let go. Spouting one creative melody after another, he led the band and audience on a super-charged joyride. Though the guys supported his soulful outpouring with proficiency, there was no question who the spotlight was on in this jam. And to finalize the set, Trey picked another song that would showcase his chops with a rare first-set appearance of “Good Time, Bad Times.”

7.7.2012 (Dan Lewis)

When a second half opens with “Disease” it always feels that the band could be on the precipice of writing an epic set-long tale, as so many have started with the improvisational go-to. But this set would follow a different path. Weaving the melody of “Blister in the Sun” early into the “Disease” jam, the entire band hopped on the idea and segued smoothly into the timeless song for the first time since Barcelona ’98. Moving just as smoothly back into the “Disease” jam it seemed that this was but a fun stop along the way, but little did we know it would soon turn into the theme of the set. Within the dark and groovy “Disease” jam, if I’m not mistaken, the guys toyed around with the “Moby Dick” theme, referencing their classic Deer Creek show in 2000 where every jam wound up in the Led Zeppelin cover—some tongue-in-cheek foreshadowing as to what was coming? Playing this heavy  jaunt—and highlight of the night—to its natural conclusion, Mike introduced the envelope filter, and within measures made the switch into “Boogie On.” Trey added some engaging loops behind the latter part of the jam, and it seemed that the band was going to bring the cover into uncharted waters. But, instead, Red kept the setlist moving with “Golden Age.”

One had to think that tour’s final “Golden Age—a song that has been an improvisational revelation this summer—placed in the middle of the second set at SPAC was primed for take off. But before the jam got a chance to sprout baby wings, the band bailed out into “2001.” The funk instrumental set up was certainly setting up the rest of the set, and what came out of its peak would determine quite about bit the show’s contour. And Troy chose “Number Line.” With this set-deflating move, the guys moved into a conventional jam in which they would weave in teases of “Blister in the Sun.” And that was the script for the rest of the night—except for “Prince Caspian.”

7.7.2012 (D.Lewis)

Floating through the jam of the mellow anthem, the guys created something wholly beautiful out of “Caspian.” Coming together in a stunning three-part conversation, Page, Mike, and Trey sculpted a minimalist and cerebral musical portrait that evoked the sound of the Grateful Dead. Easily one of the highlights of the night, Trey laid back amidst the band’s rolling textures, playing with a soulful sensibility. But what happened next was a bit confusing. As the guys bled into a tranquil soundscape, Trey hinted at the beginning of “Piper,” and everyone I’ve talked to since the show ended was sure that’s where we were headed. But when Trey countered his own idea with “Scent of a Mule,” the word “deflating” would be a colossal understatement. Killing any sense of set flow or coherency, even his own band members—according to friends in the front row—looked perplexed at the call.

Deer Creek (Crowe Light Photography)

The invigorated speed-grass passed through another verse of “Blister in the Sun” within a more engaging than usual “Muel Duel.” And when the band cranked up “Mike’s Song,” everyone knew how the show would end. Lacing teases of “Blister” into both “Mike’s” and “Weekapaug” the guys concluded one of the those sets that many will look back on fondly, and others, not so much. And that’s just the nature of the beast.

Always best when viewed as a whole, the middle night of SPAC’s three-pack provided light hearted entertainment with three quality excursions in “Gin,” “Disease,” and “Caspian.” And when the band balances the scales with an in-depth journey to end their tour tonight, all will feel right in the world of Phish. But that’s another story for another time.

I: Grind, Possum > Golgi Apparatus, The Moma Dance, Torn and Frayed, Rift, Cities -> Maze, Lawn Boy,Peaches en Regalia > Bathtub Gin, Good Times Bad Times

II: Down with Disease -> Blister in the Sun -> Down with Disease > Boogie On Reggae Woman > Golden Age -> Also Sprach Zarathustra > Backwards Down the Number Line*, Prince Caspian -> Scent of a Mule -> Blister in the Sun > Scent of a Mule, Mike’s Song* > Contact > Weekapaug Groove*

E: Sabotage

* w/ “Blister in the Sun” teases

7.7.2012 (Dan Lewis)

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1,310 Responses to “Blister in the SPAC”

  1. skyballs saxscraper Says:

    Never sleep on the SPAC Piper!
    Never wear sandals to the lawn!

    And whatever you do… don’t technicolour yawn, pass out, and miss the 2nd set!

    Matt, I’m looking at you…

    Incomparably Filthy! They keep getting better and better, and this three day run was just icing on the cake. You west coasties are in for a tasty treat.

  2. Bobby Weird Says:

    Wow. Shocked at glowing comments. I only streamed but gave this show a 5/10 given leg I closer. ::Ducks””!!!

  3. Bobby Weird Says:

    i mean great set list and all. But aside from Piper and part of yem, they didn’t really go anywhere near the depths, did they? I would love to hear what people adored about this show.

  4. BrandonKayda Says:

    I think Light, Twist, the back end of KDF, and Piper all were above and beyond normal versions – add onto that a real Hood, and a YEM encore and you have a smoker of a show IMO

  5. stitchstash Says:

    Now that’s a show worth driving up on a Sunday and leaving your husband at home with the kids for!

  6. Cable Hogue Says:

    “Wow. Shocked at glowing comments. I only streamed but gave this show a 5/10 given leg I closer. ::Ducks””!!!”

    “I ONLY STREAMED” are the operative words here. Give it a real listen tomorrow and tell us what you think.

    Out-fucking-standing stuff. Poignant, patient, ripping, classic. This was a really really great show. Haven’t listened back to a note of the weekend but what a blowout. Piper was off the charts. If I Could and Swept>Steep, so beautiful. Beautifully balanced set.

    Just got home to VT, going to work in an hour or two. Phish wins again.

  7. Cable Hogue Says:

    Sunday Smoker.

  8. Bobby Weird Says:

    27 songs, one show? no thank you!

  9. tba Says:

    I’ve seen Phish more times than I can count since 1986, but number of shows means zero to me, and why I don’t count. Still on the rare times I feel the need to submit a resume when disagreeing over a review, I do feel it gives me a bit of credibility. I recall Charlie Dirksen or whatever his name is ripping the first 1999 Shoreline show, and how funny I thought. It was then when I realised there are many different types of Phish phans, each with their own taste on what represents a great show.

    Today I read Miner’s take on what I consider maybe my favorite all time Phish show, and at least top 10. No flow, sorry but that show was all about flow, and sorry piper *might have killed that set, and to argue Mule-the song that relates 100% to the Blister (at least 11 set two teases and two full verse teases) ruined the flow is an air ball. All four Phish members have superior chops, but Trey is the leader, and he crafted a 100% masterpiece Saturday night. I was at barcelona so maybe I’m bias, but I was floored.

    As for those in the front row, I was back part of the pit, and I have never seen Mike Gordon smile so much. Same for Sunday. Same for the rest of the band. Miner I know you are often apathetic towards number line (to be fair it can be a little bland unless trey is fired up like saturday), but that song is super special for trey (I love it cause friendship is earth’s greatest achievement, and when nailed, that song really captures the wonders of friendship), and they NAILED it, and the crowd loved it, and thus Trey was propelled even higher to monster heights. He has always fed off the crowd, but being sober, the music and the crowd are even more key to his energy, so when he nails a mid set II BDTNL with crowd frenzy, look out.

    And sorry to repeat myself, but the flow was much of WHAT made the show, especially set II. Hey, it just shows there is no right/wrong answer to how good a show was, save for a few rare exceptions. Someone might say that’s bullshit, but I don’t have enough hubris to say my opinions are 100% correct. Especially nowadays, when there seems to be such diversity of opinion over everything. So Miner or Dave, just cause IMHO you whiffed on a review does not mean I think you know nothing. I still love the site, and you are still the same nice guy….it’s just Piper reallY? Not playing piper ruins flow? Plus the Scent, save the obvious blister connection, also contained a version of the russian jam section with wild dissonant sounds and accents to spice it up, and to me, that’s improv at it’s finest. Long song lengths don’t automatically equal great jams, it varies depending on the band, and yes usually long songs with Phish are special, but the segues are when you know Trey is feeling it. Also, Fishman and trey were locked in tight all night.

    So saying it was my best Phish show ever, hmm, is there ever a best in life? Maybe so, maybe not, but there is definitely nights you never forget, and that concert was one of them. Miner I do not mean to disrespect you, and usually I enjoy your reviews. And it’s cool you don’t give every show 10 stars, but how you missed what was such an incredible show baffles me, especially saying the flow was off. OK I said my piece.

    ps you walked by me during that show, and some friends said that’s mr. miner. you looked so together and friendly, how the hell did you miss on that show :<) sorry just teasing. seriously thanks for the blog, it's a great site.
    pps the crowd was 100% awesome. The phish crowd is finally getting it's act together again, as the ratio of guys/girls was much better, and even though they were serving 24 ounce beers like the end of the world was near, I did not see one fight, or even one idiot. People were amazing the whole night. for the record, I drank 3 tall boys and smoked pot. That's it, no beers before the show, although 3 tall boys for me is a lot, so maybe that slanted my perception of the show. but it's not like I did shots or anything. Phish is on fire, if you have not seen any shows this tour, and you are young (or even old :<)) do what you can to make it. The band is playing arguably as well as ever, don't miss the opportunity to see a generation's (30-50 yrs old) best rock band at one of their career peaks.

  10. st8 of mind Says:

    @tba – I can appreciate your passion, and although I was streaming, I felt that Trey was on fire that night as well. The band was definitely locked in, mid-nineties style.

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