A Step Ahead

7.6.13 (R. MacNeill)

7.6.13 (Ryan MacNeill)

Showing zero signs of a three-week layoff, Phish stepped onto one of the favorite stages in the land and delivered an awesome show from start to finish to open Denver’s end-of-summer trifecta. Knowing that many fans would be doing their best Encyclopedia Brown in trying to decode the setlist, the band used a bit of tongue in cheek humor in spelling out “Most shows spell something” backwards over the course of the show. Phish’s feat of the night, however, was crafting a flawlessly contoured performance with the given letters, including a fresh setlist and plenty of improvisational meat to go around. For a band that makes a living on doing the unexpected, chalk up night of Dick’s 2013 as another notch on their belt.

8.30.13 Official (K.Taylor)

8.30.13 Official (K.Taylor)

One could tell strange things were afoot immediately as the band opened the show with “Ghost” for the first time since The Fillmore in August 15, 1998. Last year’s “Fuck Your Face” show forced the band to jam, birthing four extended, timeless pieces of music, and three approaching the twenty minute mark. This year’s wordplay—on the contrary—made sure everything fit just so, therefore “Ghost” remained within orbit while providing a fiery start to the affair. The initial segment of the show felt a tad forced, as the band placed “Icculus” after a second-song “NICU” and following it up with “Heavy Things” and “Theme from the Bottom.” But the musical highlight of the set was just around the corner.

Let me start this paragraph by saying that I’ve grown to hate “Ocelot.” The standard blues rock build has done nothing out of the ordinary in memory, and has become but a stale place filler in the first set. That said, last night I found myself completely lost in the wide-open jam, having to remind myself more than a couple times what song we were in. This one got slinky and psychedelic in an instant and remained in a wholly creative space for the duration. And this was the point in which the show truly took off.

Rolling the improvisational zest right into “Stash,” the band absolutely slayed their classic vehicle in the no brainer highlight of the opening frame. Adopting a similar wide open feel as the preceding “Ocelot,” this jam navigated some twist and turns before arriving in some of the more hooked up, melodic playing we’ve heard from “Stash” since Merriweather’s outing. A graceful end of the set was highlighted by the debut of “Easy to Slip,” a Little Feat cover previously played by the Mike Gordon Band. The setlist prank remained in limbo, though many fans had long since caught onto the fact that they were spelling something backwards. I’m pretty sure that theories—and perhaps confirmation—of the setlist joke had made their way through the crowd, but how it would play out would be anyone’s guess.

A potent combination of “Punch > Sand” injected the main event with a primal tone, and as soon as the band dove into “Sand’s” jam, things got staight buck wild. From its first lick, this jam had “All-Star” written all over it, and by the end of some of the most exhilarating groove-based interplay of the year, it was a first ballot hall of famer. Veering out of structure into a scintillating passage of soul candy, the guys scripted a keeper that sits among the upper echelon of the year’s offerings—awe-inspiring music by a band that can do no wrong.

Phish brought back Mike’s “Say Something” and placed in squarely in the middle of the second set last night—and just like that the new vehicle started to deliver. Taking the gritty blues rocker off course, the band built into an atmospheric segment that eventually dissolved into “Walls of the Cave.” “Oh Kee Pah Ceremony” provided a mid-set surprise, but not the level of surprise as when the band rolled out of the ragtime staple into “Harry Hood.” Having only segued into “Suzy” and “AC/DC Bag” with any sort of regularity out of “Oh Kee Pah, the band added another song to an exclusive list last night with the first ever “Oh Kee Pah > Hood.” And the surprises just kept coming.

The final quarter of the set was carefully crafted and flowed like water from “Hood” through the end of the set, but midway through the “Hood” jam, the jam got very quiet, and out of nowhere the band slid into “Silent in the Morning.” Once again “Silent” appeared sans “Horse,” making it a clean sweep of the summer for “Horseless” versions. The opening notes of “Twist” continued the impeccable flow of this segment, and the jam quickly grew more interesting than the many hackneyed renditions that have dotted summer tour. And in a pairing that evoked the ending of classic sets such as 11.14.97 and 7.4.2000, the band put the cherry on top of the second set in the form of “Slave to the Traffic Light.” A wonderfully emotive version capped this beautiful portion of the set, and marked it complete.

The guys finished off their setlist tom foolery with a double encore of “Oh! Sweet Nothing” and “Meatstick”—and just like that another first night of Dick’s was in the books. Laying off all their major jam vehicles, the band has set up two filthy, action-packed shows for the next two nights, and something tells me one of them will be the show of the year. In only hours, perhaps that tale will be told.

I: Ghost, NICU, Icculus, Heavy Things, Theme From the Bottom > Esther, The Moma Dance> Ocelot, Stash, Lawn Boy, Limb By Limb, Easy To Slip*

II: Punch You In the Eye > Sand, Say Something > Walls of the Cave, The Oh Kee Pa Ceremony > Harry Hood -> Silent in the Morning > Twist > Slave to the Traffic Light

E: Oh! Sweet Nuthin’, Meatstick


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1,390 Responses to “A Step Ahead”

  1. tela's_muff Says:

    yeah, had never seen Timer at work before. that f’ed with me too. lots of weird things going on that night. can’t wait to do it again, in f’in 2014. #family’d.

  2. roberto luongo Says:

    MichelleMyBelle > Notre Dame fans

  3. roberto luongo Says:

    glad you guys held down the xyz space

    that little fat non puffin troll usually finds my ass like a magnet

    at least I can blow all my OG hits in his face.

  4. stupendous Says:

    I really think that the RL is describing excactly what went down this time around. From a musician standpoint, these guys have lit them selves on fire!

  5. Phamily Berzerker Says:

    I could see that Tela’s AJ pulled a wizard moveon me before Sunday’s encore. That Hombre has special magic!

  6. snow Says:

    mwandishi was amazing post show music.
    Perfectly placed link there MrC. Though the wrong link. It wouldn’t play on my phone. Good news: I now own the mp3.

  7. Leo Weaver Says:

    Hope all you n00b lurkers had fun!

    One tip…don’t throw glowsticks from the stands into the crowd. If ya just can’t control yourself and must throw ’em, do it with a nice arc, not like a damn fastball down the middle. Those things, even the rings, hurt like hell slapping ya in the head. There were FAR too many sailing in on a flat fast trajectory. Not cool.

    Also, if you were the douchebag with the inflatable dick running through the crowd shouting during the quiet section of Bowie, please turn in your phish card right now…do not pass go and do NOT collect $200. You’re a jackass.

  8. Willowed Says:

    Well, this place has changed quite a bit or maybe it’s been like this for a while. Maybe that’s why I’m not around much anymore. I feel like I have to step up and say something.

    No need to blast the kid for sharing his feelings about going to a live show, UM or otherwise. All good if it ain’t your thing. I know the kid can stick up for himself, but fuck, that shit was fucking lame right there.

    Feel free to light me up after this post, but don’t waste your time. I’m not going to lose sleep over it, plus I don’t really give a fuck.

    Fall tour bitches!

  9. stupendous Says:

    felt so good to be sparkin bowls all night all the way in the back dance party, officers standing right there in front of the cantina eighteen76 not caring one bit. weve made it! recreational change. for everyone.

  10. snow Says:

    I don’t know if I have told anyone besides SC but I rocked Steam with michelle my bell. Song has to be about her based on the satisfaction on her face during the song.

  11. fat bastard Says:

    you know you can’t do anymore woo’s after labor day. same with wearing white

  12. tela's_muff Says:

    go get em Leo! i was actually convinced that somebody was behind me purposely hitting me with glowsticks. i was getting nailed.

  13. roberto luongo Says:

    willow’d your my boy and I dig you. but to come stand up for your little girlfriend is weak

    we don’t need to all love each other. he can skip my rip and I can skip his.

    but fuck if I’m gonna chill with peeps that allow a fucker to admit digging a warren G cover at a UM show.

    so like I said you’re my boy. but not sure why you want to defend a grown adult.

    and not sure if you’ve noticed but I’ve hated on that kid since 09. this isn’t a new development.

    thanks for policing though man. I thought you were more of a bros bro ball busting type. nice to know your closer to TIII. I judged you wrong.

    maybe you should go give him a hug.
    maybe his pussy hurts.

  14. stupendous Says:

    the 2 glowsticks i threw were wrapped up in styrofoam tube, i regret my decision immediately, they were so cool.

  15. MrCompletely Says:

    I didn’t bust on anyone about them going to UM and STS9. I shared my own distaste for them.

    @snow, the “ostinato” track at least isn’t approved for mobile, whatever that bullshit means

    all 3 of the OG Mwandishi albums are great. half epileptic funk with monster piano solos, half spastic, advanced avant jazz

    IMO those albums are a more direct successor to Silent Way etc than what Miles actually did (which I love)

  16. snow Says:

    that was me @Tela’s for never sending me the info to get to your place!

  17. roberto luongo Says:

    and willow’d

    you know nothings changed. I call out cunts. TIII is one. now that you felt like you had to be big boy and call me out glad to know you are one too.

    east coast prep LAX for lie yo!

    have fun kids
    I’m going back to sanity

    were diggin warren g covers by frat boys gets you a death sentence

  18. stupendous Says:

    some kids will always need schoolin’
    i respect AW for that.

    i respect the scene for that. I will call you out when youre out of place but will most likely hug it out, but dont pee on my car, dont cut in line in front of me while getting drinks, and dont give me shit for working nug for out of towners, i know its CO.

  19. Mr.Miner Says:

    hung near xyz for saturday set 2. he was totally quiet and chill.

  20. MrCompletely Says:

    clueless or late arrival out of towners need nugs too man

    not everyone has the time or inclination to go do the thing

    jah praise the lot workers

  21. roberto luongo Says:

    speaking of schooling

    I love you snow and I know you haven’t been around as much

    but when a stranger that is friends of mine hits you with fam candy to ask that stranger immediately if you could get a whole one is

    1. sketchy to stranger
    2. rude to talk biz in shows
    3. makes me look like total ass

    all of this occurs after kind soul does a huge favor to a stranger

    like I said lessons learned and I’m not pissed but that of shit makes me look bad. we were taught that shit as gospel on GD tour at 13 so I’m not pissed but man that made me look bad.

    end of rant.


  22. stupendous Says:

    C! thanks man!

    i had legit weights and fire headband, grape ape and co sweet skunk

  23. snow Says:

    the space sounding stuff on ostinato was just killer.
    Fit so well Dick’s Phish.
    Dick’s dust was the best shit I’ve experienced.

    based on the convo’s the past couple weeks, I kept thinking of the whole of Dick’s when ever my head wandered towards thoughts of self. Much better feeling.

  24. roberto luongo Says:

    nice miner

    I always catch him on Maze nights when he does the cape in the air run back and forth thing. almost ran me over a few times.

    damn this was one of my best phish runs ever. such a blast. work done.

    finally sleep. 6 hours total last 3 nights. fun stuff.


  25. roberto luongo Says:

    no need to answer snow. just wanted to mention before I forgot.

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