Revisiting Rochester

Fall 2013 (Andrea Nusinov)

Fall 2013 (Andrea Nusinov)

What the heck happened in Rochester? On a tour where Phish could do no wrong, they stopped in western New York on a Tuesday night and threw an absolute clunker. Not only did the band display a noticeable lack of energy, they simply couldn’t hook up improvisationally. Only two days removed from a white hot weekend in Hampton, the site of several prolific jams, things—suddenly—had taken 180 degree turn. The band gave it their best effort for the opening of the second set, but before long, set things on cruise control—at around 45 mph—for the rest of the night. Since I haven’t as much mentioned this show since tour ended, I thought it was high tome to go back and see what the heck went down in Phish’s third show at War Memorial Auditorium.

Rochester Official (Fugscreens)

Rochester Official (Fugscreens)

Rochester was the first show that many Northeastern fans caught on fall tour, and with the buzz on Hampton’s final set still thick in the air, everyone laced up their dancing shoes for what felt like a no-brainer throwdown. But unlike most nights in their career, the band simply couldn’t get it going. A solid, if not slow, first set seemed par for the course after a monstrous three nights—an easy frame to work back into things. “Timber” provided a glimpse of jamming, though mostly standard songs filled out the set with nothing out of the ordinary. Things would clearly elevate after setbreak—or would they?

Both times the band had opened with “Crosseyed” this year, in Holmdel and at the Gorge, the jam blew up into a tour highlight. Thus, when the band brought out the Talking Heads’ cover for the third time of 2013, and the first time indoors, one suspected a monstrosity. But this time, the jam never got off the ground. What happened?

Reading (A.Nusinov)

Reading (A.Nusinov)

The guys had things on lock down through the structured part of the jam, but when they went to open things up, they were never able to connect. Just as they moved into free form territory, Fishman, inexplicably, dropped his rhythm out of the mix, abruptly shifting the feel of the excursion and throwing everyone off. The band members tried to adjust to this beatless canvas, but it took some time for anything to truly transpire. On listen back, Trey attempts to push things with a set of quickened chords, but nobody joins him, and at this juncture it sounds like Fish and Trey are on completely different pages and not united at all. Typically the axis of Phish, Trey and Fish struggled through this initial section, though finally reached some level of harmony allowing the jam to progress.

Phish gained some momentum through the next part of “Crosseyed’s” jam, but their playing remained disjointed and didn’t resemble the well-oiled machine we had witnessed in Virgina. The jam continues in very generic fashion, though nothing, whatsoever, develops. Following an uncharacteristically awkward meat of this jam, the band found a decent groove in the final, ethereal portion of this segmented set opener. Some nice, loose textures emerged, but the guys are merely wandering, and before long, Trey cut things off with the opening to “Light.”

Atlantic City (G.Estreich)

Atlantic City (G.Estreich)

If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again—and this is what the move into “Light” was all about. Not willing to accept defeat, Trey led the band into, perhaps, their most wide open jam vehicle to see what they could come up with. But following a solid composed section, once the band dove into open waters, it was nothing but stinksville—the guys just couldn’t connect. Over a choppy groove, Trey began chording and then signing “Golden Age” in half-speed, executing a smooth segue and giving the crowd something unique to cheer about. The guys stuck with the slower tempo—one would think to foreshadow a dirty funk jam—but once “Golden Age’s” improvisational passage dropped, it sounded like all four band members were on different drugs. In short, it was a mess. Page tried to salvage things getting down on his clavinet, but it was all for naught. Before anything transpired musically, Trey counted off for “Birds of a Feather,” waving his white flag of surrender.

The rest of the set might as well have been a continuation of the first, featuring an eye-popping run of “Halley’s,” “Possum,” “Bug,” and “Heavy Things.” Trey tried to throw a setlist bone to the audience with an end-of-set “You Enjoy Myself,” but the band delivered a flat and lazy version. Oh well, ya’ can’t win em all! Thus we packed our bags and headed for Glens Falls.

What was fascinating about Rochester, however, was just how off course it was in relation to the rest of the tour. Phish are human beings after all, but this show was such an aberration from any other of fall (and even summer), it almost made no sense. On Sunday night they played their best set of tour in Hampton and on Tuesday they sounded like a JV jamband on dirty acid. Go figure. Such is the nature of live music I suppose. They say, you can’t have the highs without the lows, so I guess we needed one night to remind us just how special all the others were. It worked.

10.22.13 Rochester, NY (Jake Silco)

10.22.13 Rochester, NY (Jake Silco)


Jams of the Day:

Winged-music-noteCrosseyed” 10.22 II, Rochester, NY

Listen to how different and disconnected this jam sounds compared to any other jam from fall.

[audio:] Tags: ,

378 Responses to “Revisiting Rochester”

  1. Ulysses S. Wingsuit Says:

    I’m with gdad.

  2. phishm Says:

    Thanks for the clarification. The Phil show has been very hit of miss for me. Not my thing I’m thinking. Just turned them off to close out the night with some Phish. Listening to Phil sing hurts my ears.

  3. Michael Kang Says:

    Hit of miss?

  4. phishm Says:

    Ya, some of it I don’t like. Those would be misses. This funk jam after Scarlet is a sure hit. Hit of miss.

  5. phishm Says:

    My bad, hit or miss. I must of spelled it wrong twice. Long night.

  6. George W. Kush Says:

    There are so many good music recs on here but nobody really ever pamps Wilco. I picked up Yankee Hotel Foxtrot a few years back when it came out and I just couldn’t get into it. Seems like lots of people rave about Tweedy & Co. tho…did I start with the wrong album? Do folks dig that band on here? I don’t get the hype but perhaps I’m missing something…

  7. Spasm Waiter Says:

    @kush- I am a fan. Seen them 5 times perhaps. Great live band. I will pass alon a few cool links later. Their sound changed a bit when they got Nils on axe. Sumo is versed as well. I semi-versed.

  8. Spasm Waiter Says:

    Tweedy has a touch o Chris robisnsonitis. Needs to not talk sometimes.

  9. George W. Kush Says:

    Spasm, do you like the pre-Cline era or post (2004 I think) better? in simple terms, how did their sound change?

  10. dorn76 Says:

    Herring can rip it up.


    “Jerry Garcia’s music brought joy to millions of people… There is a fragile, timeless quality to his voice that separates him from all other singers. And his guitar playing is definitely an extension of that… He was very brave, in that he was absolutely fearless in his musical exploration in to the unknown.

    He has left us with a vast catalog of some of the most beautiful ballads ever recorded… if I had to choose the thing I love most about him, it would be the ballads…

    I am deeply honored to have been lucky enough to play his music with some of his band mates. This music had made a profound impact on me and I will continue listening to, and playing it for the rest of my life. His influence is far reaching and I’m sure he will be discovered and rediscovered for generations to come.”

  11. 4thDimension Says:

    Rochester was contaminated by a poorly behaved audience and there was visual proof of glow sticks irking the band … At the end of the 2nd set, trey got pelted with a series of sticks and he just gave a look and shrug of frustration as he walked off stage … when you throw objects at an artist, the paint brush slips … a good show to practice gratitude because there was nothing for the head (there is always something for the heart)

  12. 4thDimension Says:

    energy to open set 3 nye

  13. Luther T. Justice Says:

    Jimmy Herring is no fake Jerry. One of the best technical players in the genre (& beyond). He’s got his own style & chops for days.

  14. Spasm Waiter Says:

    @Kush- Again, I am no expert but here is my take. Definaitley a more jammy sound evolved after the addition of Cline and two other players in 2004 (?). See Sky Blue Sky for examples of this. They developed a cleaner, less rough edged sound that some old fans were put off by. Impossible Germany unison axe “solo” out of Nels’ composed solo is a good example of this. I like the later stuff a bit more. Again, it is more “jammy”. Tweedy has a rep for being a bit of a punk. AW cannot stand the guy. There is no doubt that he is extremely talented. He is sort of like Ryan Adams and Chris Robinson in a way. Just shouldn’t open his mouth sometimes. I think he has mellowed a lot in that regard though. I know he was a fuckup with los drogas and I believe he has put that behind him. Back to his talent. He has written so many great songs of different types. Check out his ballad, One Sunday Morning. Fucking gorgeous. Sumo and I caught one at MassMoca this past summer. Beautiful. So they have superb musicianship and superb song writing. Now throw in really thoughtful setlists and segways with full blown ambient outros and the such. It is quite a production with a lot of flow, nuance and variety. Check out this link of the ballad I mentioned above. I would definitely recommend checking these guys out.

  15. Spasm Waiter Says:

    Herring needs no pamping here. I think we all know his amazing skills. Shit. he and Col. Bruce have been a part of that musical movement with Phish since the start. Certainly sounds absolutely nothing like Garcia or Kadlecik for that matter.

  16. Spasm Waiter Says:

    @Kush- Very trader friendly band as well, so there is a lot of their live stuff available in every format.

  17. sumodie Says:

    Took me years to get into Wilco, but their dreamy late afternoon set on the main stage at Roo’09 did the trick. Caught them twice more that year and dove into their catalog in earnest.

    Wilco is an excellent Americana rock band with sharp songwriting and some interesting dissonant moments thanks to Nels. They always put on a good show but after catching 6-7 shows their live experience has become a little less dynamic than I’d like, although I loved their Solid Sound Festival at MassMoCA last summer.

    I’ve enjoyed every album of theirs that I’ve picked up (don’t have the earliest material). Dunno what to say if Yankee Hotel doesn’t click; the Wilco sound is not what I’m chasing anymore tho I’ll gladly grab their next album down the road.

  18. HeadyBrosevelt Says:

    i love that herring quote. thanks dorn. jerry garcia is definitely timeless. i know what he is saying about the ballads. even in ’95, during a disjointed and mediocre dead show, one jerry ballad would leave tens of thousands of people speechless and inspired. the man had soul, that is for sure.

  19. dorn76 Says:

    Good gloomy morning for 12/6/77 JGB

    Full show in great quality (audio only)

  20. sumodie Says:

    What Spasm said ;0>

  21. Spasm Waiter Says:

    Watching a movie on DMT: the Spirit Molecule. Any BBers experience this yet? I want.

  22. dorn76 Says:

    Indeed @heady b, and they just got more poignant as time went on.

    Little too cold to hit the snow out in CO today? Saw some scary lookin wind chills on the weather map this morning.

    Folks to the north have some early snow in VT/NH, maybe a good season in the offing. Excited to get my little girl on a pair of skis, may have to wait a year for the real “ski school” but gonna mess around with her on the bunny hill for sure.

  23. Fly Says:

    I am a Dead n3wb to the max. Did they ever jam out Cold Rain and Snow?

  24. Spasm Waiter Says:

    @Dorn- We thought we’d start lil Spaz at age 3. Too soon?

  25. Mr. Palmer Says:

    Spasm- That movie is awesome. watched it a few times.. Never tried the subject matter though.. A little too intense for me.

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