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”

  1. Phishm0610 Says:

    one other comment. For those that were there like you wilson. YOu are so lucky. Keep up the good work.

  2. c0wfunk Says:

    I think I found the perfect job. The response from my sup to my “working from home” email this morning was “how was the show?!?”

  3. Tweezer Says:

    Was I at the same show as everyone else? I thought the first set was a snooze feat until Fluff started. How many more times can they force feed us AC/DC, Moma, Ocelot and Funky Bitch in the opening frame. Happy to see Alumni, MSO and BBFCFM. Maybe this will be the beginning of infusing a few different tunes into the set.

    Second set was great. Of the 17 shows of seen this year (missed out west) this one only beats out Blossom, Atlanta and SPAC2, IMO. I love this band anyway and an ok Phish show is still the best place to be on earth.

    p.s. Whatever happened to Steam?

  4. DaNcInG fOoL Says:

    what happened to stealing time?

  5. c0wfunk Says:

    friend’s text says first tweezer inside a hood? and punctuated with a historic tweezer>hood? Some heavy hitters last night. It was funny – we all saw it coming; me and my buddy both called ~5 of the tunes .. but it didn’t matter one little bit.

    I think that was my first alumni? Nice that there’s still a few of those around after all these years!

  6. c0wfunk Says:

    Tweezer -> you know it’s funny when I started my review last night it was going to be something along those lines .. didn’t really get started until Fluffhead. But then I thought back to the individual moments and realized that it had gone a bit different than that impression.

    Agreed though that the vibe was unsettled until the fluff and there was certainly a bit of a getting to know you period before the real juices started to flow. I felt like the day / night thing is a huge factor there. It’s all just a little too strange under daylight for everyone to really let loose. From where I’m sitting anyway… The second set just didn’t letup. Even Bouncin perfectly fit the flow and horse>silent was settled in nicely too.

  7. Phishm0610 Says:

    Anyone else feel like the banter was a group hug after that insane Gin. After the group hug we all knew it was on and, well, IT was on.

  8. Kaveh Says:

    Just getting through the Rock N Roll from AL….exceptional.

    Anyone have an extra code to share from last night?

    Also, most Leg II shows are up on the Pirate…FYI.

  9. c0wfunk Says:

    yes to the group hug notion. That was the feeling exactly.tub>fluff>alumni changed the set momentum in a huge way and Trey really broke the tension after all that madness.

  10. Dorn76 Says:

    So concludes the meeting that caused me to miss last night’s epic in CLT…

    Happy for all you folks who made it.

    At least I have some good listening to look forward to. Sigh.

  11. robear Says:

    At Cow and Dog, I sent this msg to miner last night:

    Re: Tweezer
    “Gotta be his longest solo since MSGhost”

  12. voopa Says:

    What happened to PYITE?

  13. Litteringand Says:

    Not a lot of words for last night, everything just fell into place. Could barely keep it together when they were lacing cross eyed licks in Suzy.

  14. Kaveh Says:

    What happened to PYITE?

    ^ Caspian, The Divided Sky….

  15. robear Says:

    All the talk was the return to Bham and Lakewood. Charlotte snuck right up.

  16. Duder Says:

    not sure what Miner is talkin’ about as far as flow goes?

    Bouncin’ > Axilla was a complete flow derailment.

  17. tela'smuff Says:

    looks like a great show to have attended. look forward to spinning. dl code anyone?

    not a complaint, cause we are getting jams on a nightly basis, and that’s all i ask for, but the song rotation has gotten very tight. and where’s halfway to the moon!!?

  18. c0wfunk Says:

    for me axilla was a quick return to the space achieved in Mike’s after a small breather in Bouncin. Seemed natural. Then the drop into Tweezer made you just Know something special was about to go down.

  19. Kaveh Says:

    the song rotation has gotten very tight

    ^ In some weird way, I think last night has/will open the band up for the rest of Leg II. Always seems like there is a night that is needed to flip the switch, and I think last night was it. I think the next 5 shows will have few repeats.

  20. Kaveh Says:

    Denver arrival on Friday…I’m getting ready! More live Phish = awesomeness.

    Also, the Pelham Set II is great so far….through Birds.

  21. [an unrelated] Wilson Says:

    it just worked. personally, i liked the first couple tunes, i thought (for that necessary opening little bit where band/crowd get situated) it was real easy-breezy fun phish, and the kind of tunes i like outdoors when you’re getting warmed up. for me, the pace/mood from start to finish just worked perfectly. for the record, i don’t really like axilla.. AND I STILL loved that part of the set. even bouncing was the right song at the right time. all subjective, but last night fit like a glove for me.

    wait – i have one complaint. bathroom lines sucked and the south always has a few too many loud non-stop talking frat boys… but i’m picking gnat shit out of pepper here. i had a f’n blast. see y’all the rest of the way. on on toor from here on in.

  22. btb Says:

    FYI – crunch groove link is up and working now

  23. tela'smuff Says:

    @kaveh – was thinking the same thing. seemed liked Cincy set 1 had the same effect on the rest of Leg 1.

  24. dusty Says:

    morning all. Listening to the stream last night provided some meat with my dinner. I love McGrupp. Might have to spin 8’s acoustic version after a relisten to last night’s. Someone said that they love Charlotte last night. I have only been to the indoor venue after hampton runs, so I can’t say much. They do love Winston Salem just up the road though…so not surprising. Plus the Sunday night theory is still in effect for this tour.

    Starting to get colder up in the mts. Last night got into the 30’s with the heat actually kicking on. Might need to meditate with some wood chopping time today.

  25. Kaveh Says:

    i’m picking gnat shit out of pepper here

    ^ yet another exceptional BB statement….there are too many to keep track of!

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