Carolina Completely

8.26.2012 Charlotte, NC (Ryan MacNeill)

It is rare that Phish unveils a complete performance that flows flawlessly from the very first note through the last; two full sets constructed in such fashion that the band never, for even a moment, loses the full attention of their audience. On Sunday night, however, Phish had the Charlotte’s crowd enraptured and in the palm of their hand for the entirety of the show in which there was—literally—not a dull moment.

Official Charlotte Print (M.Huynh)

First sets are so contingent upon song selection these days, and last night the band sculpted an opening stanza that worked as well as any this tour. The conventional opening pairing of “Bag” and “Moma” gave way to a series of songs that all possessed a little something extra. For the second straight version, Trey allowed Page to take the lead on piano during “Heavy Things” before taking his own solo, providing the song an added punch. “Ocelot” featured  incredibly smooth playing from Trey, who had his chops flowing all night long. Even “Funky Bitch” brought the house down with more fiery interplay that usual. But when the guys kicked into “Bathtub Gin,” the set moved onto another level for the duration.

Trey’s showcased staggering runs of notes and quick-fire licks during a scalding tub of “Gin.” This high-speed jam brought a rush of energy to the set, a cathartic cascade that continued with a precise and passionate mid-set “Fluffhead.” Pulling “Alumni Blues” off the shelf for the first time this leg, Trey followed the quasi-bustout with hilarious banter about their college days. Trey shared the well-known story of how Page received $50 a head for “recruiting” he and Fish to Goddard College—a tiny and excessively liberal institution in Plainfield,Vermont. A short “Tube,” also dating back to their college days, was followed by more comical banter that led into“My Sweet One.” A delicate and driving “Bowie” capped the set with a palpable intensity, and upon the song’s final hits, the guys received an ovation as if it was the end of the show. But with the band locked in, things were only heating up.

8.26.12 (R.MacNeill)

Though centered around a melody-driven and blissful “Tweezer,” this set was as much about craftsmanship, flow and shredtastic playing as anything. With no lulls or run of late-set singles, Charlotte’s main event was comprised of Phish anthems back to back to back. When “Crosseyed” started, memories immediately turned to last Sunday’s night of instant fame at Bill Graham, but the band wouldn’t take this version for nearly the ride it took out west. Jamming around the theme of “Crosseyed,” Trey ventured into infectious soloing that seemed to be bringing the band into something deeper. But instead of pushing the boundaries of the piece, the guys, turned to another rarity, the Gamehendge tale of “McGrupp.” Page and Trey locked into each other during the “jam,” giving the piece added gusto.

When “Mike’s Song” was followed by “Bouncin” and “Axilla,” the energy of the show remained high, but the improv factor felt quite lite. And then “Tweezer” dropped. Just as the classic jam was growing stale over Leg One, the band came out this tour and fully reinvigorated the crowd favorite. Last night they dropped their third, consecutive version drenched in creative playing. And for the second time in a row, the band took the jam on a silken journey through skies of gold. Placing a magnifying glass on mellifluous interplay, Phish sculpted a piece that spoke to the soul. Trey and Mike’s minimalist and Siamese-minded conversation gave room for Page to bring the Rhodes into the mix, enhancing the buttery feel of the feel-good groove. But when Page moved back to piano, Trey’s playing took off into the register of the divine. As he emoted waterfall-like melodies of majesty, the band maintained a bulbous groove around him, allowing him to slowly back into a space-laced, effect-laden paradise. Taking the arena by the heartstrings, Red swooped in for a final peak before the jam subsided and Fishman started “Harry Hood.”

8.26.12 (R.MacNeill)

There are not two songs more sacred to the band’s catalog than “Tweezer” and “Harry Hood.” On opposite sides of the musical spectrum, together, they form the yin and yang of Phish. Combined in this fashion—”Tweezer > Hood”—only once before, on May 15, 1990 in Hamilton, New York, the merger of these two epics was nothing short of revelatory. Swimming from the jam of the night into a meticulous rendition of their early opus, the journey of “Tweezer > Hood” provided the most dramatic sequence of the night. Like many 2012 “Hoods,” Trey’s solo picked up right from the drop of the jam and twisted and turned with meaning for the duration. Though ending somewhat quickly without a monstrous peak, the entire”Hood” jam was used as an arrival for “Tweezer,” and it worked magically.

8.26.12 (R.MacNeill)

The upbeat combo of “Weekapaug” and “Suzy” concluded a set that never relented. Trey showcased his razor sharp thematic playing in the former, while providing extra juice to the latter with “Crosseyed” teases, as it sounded like the band might break back into the cover. And the action kept right on moving through the encore with the bustout of “Big Black Furry Creatures From Mars”—complete with antics—and “Tweezer Reprise.” Not often does Phish play a show without daring risk taking yet succeed so resoundingly as they did last night. Although Alabama possessed the gem of the weekend in “Rock and Roll,” and, arguably, even the set of the south, Charlotte provided the strongest start to finish experience of the three-pack. If you have time today, don’t worry about that “skip” button on your iPod, just hit play at the top of set one and let this one roll. You won’t be disappointed.

I: AC/DC Bag > The Moma Dance > Heavy Things, Ocelot, Funky Bitch, Bathtub Gin, Fluffhead, Alumni Blues > Letter to Jimmy Page > Alumni Blues, Tube, My Sweet One, David Bowie

II: Crosseyed and Painless > McGrupp and the Watchful Hosemasters,  Mike’s Song> Bouncing Around the Room, Axilla > Tweezer > Harry Hood,  The Horse > Silent in the Morning, Weekapaug Groove, Suzy Greenberg

E: Big Black Furry Creature from Mars, Tweezer Reprise

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1,173 Responses to “Carolina Completely”

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  1. Angryjoggerz Says:

    First?

  2. btb Says:

    What’s up with the Mike’s > Bouncin these days?

    Sounds like Charlotte rocked, yet again. Very nice.

  3. MiA Says:

    Great write up miner.

    Anyone got a download for the guy who delivers the oranges?

    MikeinaustinBb@ ghee mahl

  4. SillyWilly Says:

    Morning, kids

    glad to hear the show was good

    haven’t heard a note from the whole weekend, but the reviews keep coming in solid.

    happy monday.

    safe travels to St. Louis

  5. bouncin fan Says:

    gotta bouncin where my Mike’s second jam used to be.

    Dick’s exitement building
    have fun today kids

  6. Chonz Says:

    Waiting for my oil change then on on the road to Chicago to pick up my buddy. Up through last nights Bowie, and think I’ll save that set 2 for the drve. Looks (and sounds so far) like a fun show last night.

    Can’t wait to get back on tour! Hope to see some of you kids out there. Safe travels.

  7. fat bastard Says:

    i am in need of one tix for st. louis. thanks

  8. MiA Says:

    After Mike’s Bouncing…

    Phish crowd – (collective groan) We hate it when you do that!

    After Tweezer, Hood (collective scream) We live it when you do that!

    Trey the contrarian who wants to please, but sometimes doesn’t give a fuck.

    I love this band.

    School back in session. 20 mins added To my commute.

  9. c0wfunk Says:

    wow a first set review! You nailed it miner. This one just had It.. cant wait to hear it back. Tweezer was a lifetime highlight. The mikes bouncin axilla really felt like they were beating us into submission so they could have their way with us in tweezer.

    Somehow there were distinct sections of the show in my mi nd … opener to fluff was the first build.. alumni thru bowie was the second movement… crosseyed and mcgrupp were a distinct section and mikes bouncin axilla tweezer hood was. a distinct section peaking us out for some 30 min before thdenoument came in the wrapup tunes. Then the spectacle of bbfcfm was icing…

    If youre interested in my long rambling first impression check last page of yesterdays comments. Phish 2012!

  10. PigSong Says:

    Perfectly placed Hood after that beautiful and melodic Tweez. Listening earlier this morning I almost had some anxiety, a slam into ‘paug could have been harsh. Hood brings the show back into Rock status gracefully.

  11. MiA Says:

    Ugh. LP app struggling. Crunchygroove too.

    Another grovel for a DL code?

    Mikeinaustinbb at you know where

  12. PigSong Says:

    d’oh. should have finished reading this review. Miner says the same thing but with 1000x more grace and tact.

  13. Cable Hogue Says:

    @Miner –
    Sounds like a good one, looking forward to hearing it.

    Small correction : Goddard isn’t in Burlington, its in plainfield which is outside Montpelier.

  14. PigSong Says:

    Had the same issue yesterday, both cg and lp app would crash my phone. I chalked it up to negative cosmic energy and moved from that spot. Worked well after the move, although that might have had more to do with a hard reset.

  15. Phishm0610 Says:

    One comment from my end and then I would like to go through and read all of your reviews including Miner’s.
    I was floored. Plain and simple. that was SF4 to me. It was basically the boys stating that if you didn’t get it on Sunday night here it is again. IT is in your face and you have no choice but to succomb. I succombed and flowed free. Once again from the confines of my home. I have no other words. PEACE and LOVE all.

  16. c0wfunk Says:

    mia I was gonna send one but it looks like I left my stubs in the car that’s not here..

  17. Kaveh Says:

    Morning BBers!

    Hope everyone had a great weekend.

  18. MiA Says:

    Ok. Listened. They keep upping the ante on the Tweezers.

    Nice.

  19. [an unrelated] Wilson Says:

    after 87 shows over 18 years, I can honestly – and enthusiastically – say that was one of the best and most enjoyable phish shows I’ve ever seen. I’m simply amazed. The vibe from that band was so fun and positive, the playing was so inspired. All night, Trey was laying down these long, beautiful, repetitive descending guitar runs… omg. He’s the man and all, but I rarely walk out of a phish show actually noting that “Trey put on a clinic.” Everyone should have been saying that on the way out the door last night. The man produced absolute magic all night long. It was a beautiful thing. Page also really shined at times. I’m just shaking my head. That was totally IT in my mind, and I wouldn’t say that if I didn’t mean it 100%. I love these guys.

  20. c0wfunk Says:

    If you take miner’s advice and spin top to bottom, here’s a couple of subtleties to note in set 1 ->

    *Trey’s teasing something in the lowlands of moma – anyone ID this?
    *Heavy Things ends with a glorious descending rain of notes riff. Really nice
    *Page kept taking his FB organ solo around building something huge. Mike’s solos in the breakdown were killin it.
    *Fluffhead’s power ending also contained some original note patterns from Red at the peak
    *Bowie takes a slick left turn a bit into the jam. Not exactly unprecedented, but really slick nonetheless.

  21. c0wfunk Says:

    “All night, Trey was laying down these long, beautiful, repetitive descending guitar runs”

    ^this ..

    Tweezer also started out with some gloriously snakey and sneaky riffs from Trey.

    At that point it seemed somehow to me like he was trying to sneak something by us and move the crowd somewhere like without us noticing somehow. It’s hard to explain but the shift into the uplifting major rising jam accomplished the mission.

  22. [an unrelated] Wilson Says:

    the Heavy Things “descent riff” started it off. It was an awesome “theme” from there on out. I’m not talking quick little runs. These were long, flowing cascades, done again and again, and he nailed them all. “Rain” comes close, cowfunk.

    I’ll say it again. 87 shows (my 5th of Leg II). I walked out just blown the eff away. Also, I was as sober for last night’s show as I could realistically be.

  23. sumodie Says:

    Thanks for the reviews, miner & cowfunk

    glad to hear the boys had the hose opened wide

    top pic is terrific taboot!

  24. Al Says:

    Mornin’ guys.

    Any free DL codes for me to make my day?

  25. c0wfunk Says:

    I’m in the same boat – similar show stats (though 1st this year) and dang near close to sober (possibly more sober than my general day to day state 😉 and totally blown away.

    also hat tip to the fireworks display after show in the lot. Obviously having just come from bama and GA some folks stocked up cuz there was a serious display in 4 different sections of the lot (we were way in the back of F lot so saw them all). Well done phanners.

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