Incredibly Ordinary

7.20.13 (WCProductions)

7.20.13 (WCProductions)

When I woke up yesterday, I had a text that Phish had announced an extra set! In a tour filled with unprecedented events, including a postponement, a cancellation, now we had a random three setter! Not since 7/12/96 in Amsterdam had the band played a three set show that was not associated with a holiday and or a festival. July 20, 2013 would live in eternal Phish lore—and what a throwdown it would be! After a lightning-canceled Friday night’s show, the band was sure going to kick down the goods—or so we thought. When the dust settled on this surprise show, however, we had a Saturday Night Special spread over three sets. Favoring songs to jams and sticking with an obnoxiously tight song rotation, the band put on a good, though underwhelming show at Northerly Island.

7/20 Official (R. Kelly)

7/20 Official (R. Kelly)

When the band opened the night with “Prince Caspian” and slid into “Twist,” it felt as though the guys were picking up exactly where they left off and would play last night’s second set, then continue with two more. But that didn’t happen. Trey quickly returned the band to their first set flow as he combined “Ha, Ha, Ha” with “Possum” in a joke that was clearly on us. The band dropped a thick “Cities” that got kids moving, but quickly doused any momentum with “Lawn Boy” and “I Didn’t Know.” Though they were sharp throughout the first set, the band did nothing special or out of the ordinary in a situation that kinda called for it.

Phish delivered the meat of the show in the second set in the sequence of “Golden Age > Waves > Piper > Slave.” Though this 40-minute segment boasted a quality flow, the only real highlight reel music went down in “Piper > Slave.” The band let things hang out for only one of two times during the show in “Piper,” sculpting an unrelenting jam that carried all sorts of groove. As Trey added some late-90’s wah textures to the mix, the guys got into some stop/start action as well, leading an incredibly danceable feel to the uptempo jam. Strong work by Page anchored the piece throughout, and Trey got into some minimalist rhythm comping to his organ work in final section that resembled a “Maze” jam for a bit. Bleeding into “Slave,” the guys capped the four-song sequence with another stellar version. All summer, the band has been capping big-time sets with magnificent “Slaves,” and while this set didn’t match any of monsters dropped during the first two weeks of tour, this “Slave” carried as much majesty of any short of SPAC.

7.14.13 (A.Nusinov)

7.14.13 (A.Nusinov)

When the band emerged for their marquee third set, “Tweezer,” “Ghost,” “Sand,” and “2001” all waited in the wings to form a potential monster, but Trey opted for “Meatstick,” “Birds of a Feather” and “Ocelot.” Nuff’ said. This third set reeked of repeats, and I am not one to ever care about such things. Though the band has been playing phenomenally this summer, their rotation is as tight as ever, and its starting to effect things. The guys turned things around for the ending of the set as they dropped another stellar “Light” and segued into another standout take on their other feel-good set-capper, “Harry Hood.” This “Light” veered from the others of summer, favoring delicate interplay in a very gentle, jazz-laced jam. The guys lit up  “Dave’s Energy Guide” in the beginning of this one before steering off course into a tasteful exchange that stole the third set spotlight outright.

All in all, Phish fell short of even the most minimal expectations given the situation at hand in Chicago on Saturday night. Dropping a mediocre show when the situation called for a banger, the band left Sunday open for a end-of-week extravaganza. Just about everybody expected something special from the guys last night, and they delivered a standard show with two high quality jams and one set to write home about. Though the show certainly had its moments, the performance was anything but nasty, gritty, and overwhelming—the stuff we’ve come to expect from Phish 2013. This one had its moments, but amounted to nothing more. And for the record, I had a fucking blast the entire time, just thought the band didn’t deliver. Massive amounts of fun, very little serious music. Hopefully Sunday night can salvage the weekend in the Midway. We shall see.

I: Prince Caspian > Twist, Ha Ha Ha > Possum, Cities, Lawn Boy, I Didn’t Know, Rift, Destiny Unbound, My Friend, My Friend, Kill Devil Falls, Cavern, David Bowie*

II: Back on the Train, Mike’s Song > Theme From the Bottom -> Weekapaug Groove, Golden Age > Waves > Piper > Slave to the Traffic Light

III: Meatstick, Birds of a Feather, Strange Design, Ocelot, Light > Harry Hood > Good Times Bad Times

E: Shine a Light

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1,245 Responses to “Incredibly Ordinary”

  1. sumodie Says:

    How’s the Northerly Island venue / scene? Lawn must’ve been raging if they got the sound right. The post show exodus must be a sight too

  2. Matso Says:

    I’m coming at this show from a different perspective (repeats are not an issue), and for me, it delivered.

    A Caspian that I actually liked (maybe even loved)? Twist in the first set? My first Destiny? Old school songs like I Didn’t Know, Rift and Cavern reminding me its the 30th year of Phish and my 21st year listening to the band? Smoking versions of KDF and Bowie? All felt a bit special to me.

    Second set flowed very well, even if most thing stayed in the box. The Theme and Golden Age both had very passionate, crisp solos from Trey. The Waves was a treat even if it didn’t lift off (we had to wait for Piper for that).

    And the third set Light/Hood/GTBT sequence was the business in my book. Shine a Light a perfect way to wrap up a long night of good music.

    These things are invariably subjective. This is how I experienced it and, without wishing to speak for them, I believe most of the people around me last night.

  3. Spasm Waiter Says:

    Miner is just stating his opinion based on what he has seen/heard unfold on a tour he has personally attended. Why do people getaway at him? Just change the channel if you don’t like the program. I guess

  4. Mr.Miner Says:

    and for the record, I had a fucking blast the entire time, just thought the band didn’t deliver. Massive amounts of fun, very little serious music

  5. BingosBrother Says:

    Word cschaff. I don’t know if what miners looking for exists. I thought he was joking in the headline.

  6. Mr.Miner Says:

    the venue is aweome. top notch. now for the music…

  7. Spasm Waiter Says:

    I guess people don’t like their euphoria marred.

  8. Haterrrr Says:

    One painful truth I’ve come to accept: while I love this band and have invested more than 2 decades and tens of thousands of dollars chasing the music, I can’t stand 90% of the fanbase. Immature, Sycophantic pablum and a “groupthink” mentality makes today’s Phish scene feel like a trip to the Scientology Celebrity Center. God forbid one employ critical thinking skills and call a spade a spade (like Mr. Miner has done here) and suddenly you’re branded a “Hater” of a band you love more than any other, by “brahs” who were barely out of diapers on 12/31/93

    And people wonder why Trey never wanted to play another Phish song again in ’04? I don’t.

  9. Stoney Case Says:

    Back to the Twilight Zone already? As usual this summer, I disagree yet still appreciate miner. Here’s a repost for those not reading back this morning:

    Top of the morning! Things we now know after that epic throw down:
    Whale IS NOT the key to the new Phish psychedelic sound.
    They drop incredible shows when they INTEND to.
    They can start closer to ticketed show time by simply Announcing so on Social Media.
    The guys that rush to ride the rail are the biggest douchebags in the scene and defending them is a reason to get your head examined:

    Feels great to be a fan. Spun the webcast while chatting to the SLF on the phone from 3000 miles away. Awesome night.
    Have a good Sunday peeps. Much love from Stoney!

  10. Ghostface Says:

    I love that you call ’em like you see ’em. You’re consistent with what you like and I respect the shit out of your reviews. Keep it up.

    Now a totally different question for everyone. Need help here. The “talkers” at shows are starting to ruin it for me. I try the miner suggestion of closing my eyes. I move around. But it’s getting to a point where listening to the shows live is a challenge. Anyone? Help me.

  11. Mr.Miner Says:

    um, what I’m looking for actually happened @Bingos. Please see SPAC1, SPAC3, PNC, JB, MPP1, MPP2, ALPH1, and ALPH2. now, respectfully, shut the fuck up 😉

  12. Mr.Miner Says:

    horrible chitown custy sat night crowd. talkers and cigarettes dominating the scene…just surround yourself with people you know or that are raging.

  13. Mr.Miner Says:

    Whale IS NOT the key to the new Phish psychedelic sound.

    ^ wrong.

    They drop incredible shows when they INTEND to.


    Why not last night?

  14. Marcoesq Says:

    Don’t get y’all’s feelings hurt and all. A lot of folks are probably just seeing their first shows of tour and for that, I’m sure last night crushed. Some people might be looking for a little extra, especially given the circumstances.
    I would be.

  15. Oldskool Says:

    Bingos, the night was awesome for you. Anything about how Miner feels doesn’t make it any less special for you. He has his opinion and you have yours. He is not attacking you for having a different experience than he had so not sure why you should? I don’t think last night held up to the monster jams of the first two weeks. Last night was great for many but not for what Miner finds truly special. Hell, for some Possum was the highlight of the night 🙂

  16. Mr.Miner Says:

    @Stoney, besides Golden through Waves and Light > Hood, what did you think was good?

  17. Minkin Says:

    Great review, Miner! Watched it via LivePhish, and the Piper was superb, but given three sets to knock a show out of the park, this was a well-hit single into right field…tonight will hopefully be a jamfest like MPP2…

  18. BingosBrother Says:

    Ghostface, go to the furthest back center of the lawn. We rage back there and the sound is incredible. Buncha gangstets gettin stupid. Miner, you can come back too. Will be wearing a bright orange Dolphins hat.

  19. Matso Says:

    Miner – why did you change the name of this post from “A Bit Too Ordinary” to “Incredibly Ordinary”? This change ruins the not-so-subtle allusion in the second paragraph of my post 😉

  20. Stoney Case Says:

    Set 1: KDF and Bowie

    Set 2: theme through Slave

    Set 3: Light Hood

    I also think SPAC 2013 is the most over rated run in the history of this blog. We are just looking through a different glass lens.

    The thing is Miner, it’s not you going to the show in a vacuum and telling us on some remote island about what’s going down. We are owning CouchTour in Babylon and eating these shows for breakfast.

    MPP2&1, JB, PNC and last night all great shows.

  21. Mr.Miner Says:

    The change reflects that it wasn’t expectations.

  22. GordonStSg Says:

    “and for the record, I had a fucking blast the entire time, just thought the band didn’t deliver. Massive amounts of fun, very little serious music”

    Put that in your review. It reads like you stood there, arms folded, rolling your eyes. Different strokes for different folks though I guess.

  23. Mr.Miner Says:

    KDF? umm.

    Bowie paled in comparison to the last 2

    Sorry, @Stoney. But if you were at the show you’d disagree.

  24. Stoney Case Says:

    Miner, set 2 was very much like SBIX night 3 set 2. One long thematic jam in a way. Broken up by short lyrical outbursts.

    Also, I thought night 1 DWD good stuff.

  25. BingosBrother Says:

    Well, it was incredible. That Mikes was ferocious. Peeps doing the Nazi Death Dance.

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