Hey Fellas, Have You Heard the News?

7.5.13 (Jake Silco)

7.5.13 (Jake Silco)

Greeting Hotlanta with a big time second set on, ironically, the coolest night of tour, Phish migrated South on Tuesday without missing a beat and opened their two-pack at the best conventional amphitheatre in the game, Verizon Wireless in Alpharetta. Centered on the theme of Led Zeppelin’s “Heartbreaker,” which the band jammed into from the set-opening “Rock and Roll,” the second half featured continuous teases of the hard rock anthem in virtually every tune. But unlike some similar sets that have become gimmicky, this one had plenty of musical meat throughout. Page seemed to take charge in many jams on Tuesday night, following a show at Merriweather in which Fishman anchored the improvisational effort, showcasing the democratic nature of modern Phish and allowing Trey to lay back and continue to dial in his whammy pedal—a tool, that believe it or not, will—and has already started to—bring the band’s new sound to the next level.

7/16 Official (J. Santora)

7/16 Official (J. Santora)

The guys played an incredibly standard opening set—especially in juxtaposition to Sunday night’s smoking first half—that even started to drag with the four-song sequence of “Army of One,” “Rift,” “Horn,” and “Possum.” But the show kicked into gear with the summer debut of “Pebbles and Marbles,” and from then on, the band meant business. Following a quick spin of the post-hiatus bustout, they dropped into a thick Southern “Ocelot” before “Cavern” seemed to end an uneventful frame. The second “Antelope” in as many shows, however, popped out of nowhere to give a bit of credence to the set’s final third. Though solid, this version didn’t pop like Merriweather’s or SPAC’s versions, let alone Bangor’s instant classic. Thus, when the lights came up on the incredibly spacious general admission dance floor after one of the least dancy sets in memory, it was quite clear that the flat cement playground would see its action after setbreak.

And just as predicted, when the lights dropped, the adventure started. Phish blew open “Rock and Roll” almost instantaneously, and only minutes into the set the band had found utter glory. Spinning into a blissful exchange, this jam elevated immediately—as if it only took a nod to surf the astral plane. The jam stayed in this happy place for some time, and when Trey played a descending lick that brought the guys out, it only took a few moments for Mike to begin tickling the bassline to “Heartbreaker.” Hopping on the Zeppelin tease, Trey led the band into the opening verse of the song, but when guys came out of that verse back into the jam, some of the filthiest music of tour went down. Page led, on clavinet, into a series of crunchy grooves that Trey painted in his uncompressed, post-hiatus growl. If you mainline Phish crack— which I highly recommend—check out this narcotic chunk of music. And while the audience was enveloped by this monstrosity, Trey orchestrated a back door segue into “Makisupa Policeman,” and the jam/song flow of the set began.

7.5.13 (Jake Silco)

7.5.13 (Jake Silco)

One would think that a 2013 Phish might give their reggae song some love for the first time in ages, but apparently they were saving it all for “Chalk Dust.” Placing their anthem square in the middle of the set, I couldn’t help but recall 2012’s heavily-improvised, leg two versions, while feeling we were about to witness another. And did we ever. While the aforementioned versions of 2012 were driven by melodic leads by Trey, the band opened up this jam into something different altogether and it blossomed into the highlight of the show. Launching from the actual “Chalk Dust” jam, Trey took a turn for the uplifting—similar to the initial shift of “Rock and Roll”—but this time, the band stuck with the vibe and scripted a stunning piece of new school Phish that oozed spirituality. Sounding momentarily like they were building towards “Architect,” they sidestepped the new song and continued to forge their wide-open path. Mike took the lead for much of this jam before Trey got a bit antsy and started up “Wilson,” a move that was all but forgotten when the band spilled into “Tweezer.” But how sick would it have been if they left out “Wilson” for a final section of “Chalk Dust” and segued into “Tweezer?” Hmmm…I digress.

7.5.13 (J.Silco)

7.5.13 (J.Silco)

As soon as “Tweezer’s” jam hit, Trey kicked into “Heartbreaker,” but when they dropped back into “Tweezer,” it was Fishman who took the helm, steering the ship into an ocean of hard groove. Trey played with a funky then ferocious sensibility, keeping up with Fish in a true dance floor throw down that took full advantage of the glorious concrete of Alpharetta. But just as the jam turned away from straight rhythms and began to transform into something greater, Trey dropped out, insisting the band come with him, thus they quickly—though artfully—put together a segue into “Silent in the Morning.” Call me a monkey’s uncle, but that “Tweezer” had about five more minutes of beauty left, but what can you do but count our blessings and come back tomorrow.

7.7.13 (J.Silco)

7.7.13 (J.Silco)

At this juncture, the set turned somewhat songy in contour, quasi-resembling a 2012 second half, but this time the music within those songs was far more impressive. Placing “Birds of a Feather” in the main event for the second time in three shows, they—again—tore the piece apart with creative, contained jamming. And then the parade of summer “Hoods” continued, this time highlighted by delicate rather than driving playing by Big Red. A beautiful version put a nice cap on the set, while balancing it with a final jam before “Character Zero” closed things out.

The first night in Alpharetta had “post-Northeast, mid-week let down” written all over it. If there was going to be an off night of Summer 2013 it was going to be Tuesday. Once the band hits Chicago this weekend, it’s all big time shows from there on out less Toronto. In the past few years, the guys might have come down South and tossed in a token effort last night, but that’s not how Phish 2013 rolls. In fact, they just keep on rolling and rolling and nothing in this universe seems like it can stop them. We are not quite at tour’s midway point and the sets just coming. Only one more show before Phish hits the Midway for a marquee trifecta—see you on the dance floor!

I: Kill Devil Falls, Mound, Bathtub Gin, Army of One, Rift, Horn, Possum Pebbles and Marbles, Ocelot, Cavern, Run Like an Antelope

II: Rock and Roll -> Heartbreaker^ -> Makisupa Policeman > Chalk Dust Torture^ >Wilson* > Tweezer* -> Silent in the Morning, Birds of a Feather, Joy, Harry Hood* > Character Zero*

E: A Day in the Life > Tweezer Reprise

^ unfinished, *Heartbreaker tease

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1,285 Responses to “Hey Fellas, Have You Heard the News?”

  1. neemor Says:

    From a musician:

    “Music, much like life, is fundamentally a swinging pendulum between tension and release. Fortunately, with music, this is easy to represent objectively and to utilize in your music composition.
    It’s important to note that dissonance doesn’t mean being wrong or bad. Dissonance simply indicates an increase in musical tension.”

    Really interesting stuff.

  2. El Duderino Says:

    anything on that UIC box is better than 3.0.

  3. GhostPhunk Says:

    interesting though that the tension is/could be caused by a loss of comfort or “placement” in a piece if you will. so it’s neat to think that the element we are discussing that we love so much could/may be caused by mistakes/loss of place at a given moment. through error we find something we like.

  4. thedayman Says:

    i only listen to pre 1988 phish, that was before they sold out

  5. neemor Says:

    I’m doing a lot of speaking for the masses.
    I apologize.
    Bowie, if I’m not mistaking, was described in Coventry by Trey as a way of “seeing how long we could keep people dancing”(through the dissonance- was my understanding of the complete thought).
    ’95 Bowies rule.
    One of the reasons that Bowies, Rebas, Lopes, Slaves, etc. are so heart-wrenching is for those moments when they hit the “chill” or re-entry, etc.

    That’s tension and release to me, also.

  6. ren Says:

    -the moments before we all scream “FLUFFHEAD”

    -during older jams where they would all play in different time signatures until they all ended up back on the same beat

    tension and release???

  7. DaNcInG fOoL Says:

    Cal, that antelope is on the bonnaroo from the archives along with radio city ghost, pyramid 2001 and cypress midnight. Available in flac. Best Phish release ever.

  8. Selector J Says:

    anything on that UIC box is better than 3.0.

    Cage match time!

    Dicks Light vs UIC Bouncing

  9. kayatosh Says:

    any spare dl codes for last night? much obliged.

  10. Leo Weaver Says:

    Time to punch out of the ol’ office, head home to finish packing, then off to Chicago. See you fellas on the floor.

  11. DaNcInG fOoL Says:

    Hahaha nice selector.

  12. neemor Says:

    Antelopes are about the gear shifts.
    (Aside from a few notable occasions)
    What are gear shifts?
    Tension.
    What is the re-entry?
    Release.

    Think that goes for a lot of Phish.
    Done beating a dead Horse.

    Another note:
    “When Trey plays solid rhythm guitar, we get the best shit of all.”
    -marco
    I agree with this.
    Is this the groove junkie in me?

  13. neemor Says:

    Safe travels, Chip.
    Enjoy!

  14. Cal Says:

    I agree with your definition, Neemor, but disagree with your perception of it. Or maybe it’s all a matter of degrees. All these bliss jams and lullabys that we’re getting off on these days are not dissonant. Dissonance is notes that don’t belong together in a natural western key butting up against each other, like playing two keys on the piano that are right next to each other. The happy jams we hear nowadays are mostly harmonic and cooperative. Certainly not a bad thing, triumphant in fact, but for me it’s more exciting when they get there AFTER a period of extreme nastiness.

    Transition from minor to major keys can also be felt as tension/release. But really, it IS all about the feeling. I’m not an expert theoretician or anything so someone might pick apart my terminology but when you feel conflict in the notes and then a resolution, that’s what I mean. It’s the conflict that’s lacking in modern Phish.

    Lots easier to dance to music without that conflict, no doubt.

  15. DaNcInG fOoL Says:

    Antelopes used to be scary and go way far out and didn’t all sound the same.

  16. little umbrellas Says:

    When Trey plays solid rhythm guitar, we get the best shit of all. ^^

    I love it all but was really feeling this statement when watching the Vimeo 2013 Sand.

  17. Cal Says:

    Leo! I’m on lawn but hope to see ya at some point! Safe travels dude.

  18. DaNcInG fOoL Says:

    “but for me it’s more exciting when they get there AFTER a period of extreme nastiness.”

    This. Best example from 3.0, Albany 09 Seven Below.

  19. little umbrellas Says:

    DF, Antelope RedRocks 94. Go!

  20. voopa Says:

    MPP Light jam is a perfect example of mini-
    tension/release, as is any start/stop jam, and the composed part of Seven Below.

  21. GhostPhunk Says:

    @df throw the ghost in there too… we’ve been through this 8)

  22. neemor Says:

    Trey screaming over the top of his playing only made it scary with a head full of LSD.
    To me.

    Cal, these articles I have been reading about this topic talk about how musicians define it vs. how non-musicians perceive it.
    I fall into the latter category.
    Explains a lot.
    One of them talked about how novices were told they were going to hear some music with tension and they should note when they hear that tension. But the music was actually placebic, or had no tension.
    The subjects applied their own definitions to pick out tension.
    Really interesting stuff.
    I clearly have my own understanding of it, which is maybe why I’m getting off on something when someone else finds it less danceable.
    Or visey-versey.

  23. DaNcInG fOoL Says:

    No more antelopes!

  24. DaNcInG fOoL Says:

    GP, we need more shows like that already. Toronto?

  25. neemor Says:

    Time to go home.
    Glad I stopped in today, good stuff from the best board around.

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