Two Meh’d-Week Affairs

7.12.14, Randall's (Chris LaJaunie)

7.12.14, Randall’s (Chris LaJaunie)

After Phish nailed eight straight shows between SPAC, Mann and Randall’s Island, fans were salivating to see what the band had in store as they stepped away from the east coast for the first time this summer. Back in the day, these more remote, smaller market shows brought a welcome respite from the higher profile nights of the northeast. In the past, Phish often threw down spectacular shows in these more out of the way performances. This created a dynamic where fans would not want to miss these hard-to-get-to shows. However, in the modern era, these smaller shows have become something totally different. While the dynamic of less pressure remains the same, the resulting concert often crumbles into an array of jamless greatest hits for a localized fan base. The “skip” shows on tour are no longer the ones fans must quest after, but rather less focused affairs whose moniker is quite appropriate.

Canandaigua Official (J.Soto)

Canandaigua Official (J.Soto)

Needless to say, both Canandaigua and Detroit’s mid-week shows succumbed to this modern trend and the band on stage on Tuesday and Wednesday nights might as well have been understudies for the maestros on stage last weekend in New York City. If Randall’s Island was the culmination of a fortnight that was characterized by artistry and patience, these two mid-week, small market shows were exactly the opposite, crude and rushed. This is not to say there weren’t individual highlights in these shows—there absolutely were, but the overall feel of the shows were far from the refined and cerebral affairs that dotted the east coast, but mildly entertaining rock concerts in which the band seemed more concerned with how many songs they could get through than what any individual piece contained. To put it bluntly, while Trey graced the east coast with his timeless brilliance, Troy brought his ripcord and ADD to Canandaigua and Detroit, crafting more trainwrecks than memories.

Detroit Official (S. Serigraph)

Detroit Official (S. Serigraph)

The highest point of Canandaigua came in a twisting, long form “Down With Disease” that kicked down the doors of the second set with a fury. This jam was certainly on the level of tour’s first stretch, and it seemed like we were in for another set-long journey. But nothing of improvisational significance developed after that and a great “Disease” was hung out to dry. Striking first set renditions of “Wingsuit” and “Wombat” also provided takeaways from CMAC, as the former kept the more whole-band improvisational feel debuted at Randall’s, and the latter got into the dirtiest, loopiest funk jam of its short life. DTE’s lone improvisational highlight came in “Ghost > Caspian” though the “Ghost” jam seemed to have plenty of legs when Trey switched gears. Additionally, the band took “Weekapaug” for an out-of-character spin into abstraction and really had something significant building when the jam was cut inexplicably cut for “Cavern.” And that, folks, is about it for the mid-week highlight reel. On the “Not Top 10” list, Phish played two consecutive late-second-set “Fuegos” in Canandaigua and Detroit, while touching neither with a single improvisational brushstroke. At this point, “Fuego” has appeared far more times without a jam than with one. Interesting. An unsuspected development to say the least.

When it comes down to it, perhaps it’s not the size of the market, the distance from the east coast, the age of the band or the lack of hardcore fans in the audience—perhaps it’s the combined effect of all these elements. And alas, Phish is human. Call me presumptuous, but in Canandaigua and Detroit, the band just wasn’t putting in the same level of effort and focus that was on display for two weeks straight on the eastern seaboard. And when you don’t put in the same effort, you don’t get the same results. Thus, it is not surprising that these midweek shows paled in comparison to the musical events that took place on the in Saratoga Springs, Philadelphia and New York. The band needed an exhalation from an intense two weeks, and they took it in the form of two jukebox shows over the past couple nights. Have no fear, however, the Phish we know and love will be back in Chicago and tell a largely different story. Why? You tell me…

7.12.14 Randall's Island (Chris Lajaunie)

7.12.14 Randall’s Island (Chris LaJaunie)

7/16 Canandaigua—I. Buried Alive > Twist, Heavy Things, 555, Halley’s Comet > Bathtub Gin, Wingsuit, Divided Sky, Wombat, David Bowie

II: Down with Disease > Back on the Train > NICU, Gotta Jibboo, Theme From the Bottom, Meatstick, Fuego > The Wedge, Run Like an Antelope

E: Character Zero


7/17 Detroit—IWolfman’s Brother, Devotion To a Dream, Wilson, Poor Heart, The Moma Dance, Stealing Time From the Faulty Plan, Lawn Boy, Yarmouth Road, Rift, The Line, It’s Ice, 46 Days

II: Mike’s Song > Ghost > Prince Caspian > Backwards Down the Number Line, Weekapaug Groove > Cavern, Piper > Waiting All Night, Tweezer > Fuego > Tweezer Reprise

E: Also Sprach Zarathustra > Possum

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2,348 Responses to “Two Meh’d-Week Affairs”

  1. YouEnjoyPhun Says:

    Phish is a mobile party caravan now. They book the venue, phans show up have a good time, each phish member than immediately hops on their individual luxury house on wheels and rolls into next town. Sometimes they bring it if they feel it, other times they bunch of songs and call it a day. People still eat it up and return the next year regardless of venue or setlist. It’s a clockwork machine. The wildcard these days for me is the couch tour. I’m a Rochester guy and know that their epic nights will be played elsewhere so thank The Lord for HD streams! Western NY had our time in the sun, never forget Oswego or Superball!!!!

  2. plord Says:

    Arty has it pretty dialed there.

    The whole Gin->Limb->WQ segment is great if you like your playlists with the cooldown song included.

  3. Jerome Garcia Says:

    Garcia Arty!

  4. btb Says:

    Just locked down a floor tix for tonight. booyah!

    I can almost taste the bass bomb

  5. vapebraham Says:

    Nice piece, miner. Love the line about the understudies taking the stage.

    CMAC is an easy listen. Solid first set, and DwD gets there and then some, but the rest of that set II is relatively bland. We are comparing the midweek shows to Randalls in which phish laid down some of their most epic jams ever, so CMAC and DTE shows were already challenged going in. It’s like when your get the same teacher for sixth grade that your genius older brother had. Tough not to feel performance anxiety on that first test. Stamina probably played a big part too.

    CMAC is really not that far behind the Manns in terms of quality. However, the Mann set II’s finished stronger, esp. Mann 1. MannFuego has catapulted the regard for the Mann shows quite a bit.

  6. Jerome Garcia Says:

    Darth see below Veneta ’72 linkage. Commence spinnage.

    Just queued it up. New boardwalk on Butler Trail @ Lady Bird Lake soundtrack 😎 Luvin the overcast wet AM stroll.

  7. Cable Hogue Says:

    The uptempo groove in the Rotterdam Dark Star that comes out of the big meltdown section after the first verse always sounds “Phish-like” to me.

    One of the single greatest jams in GD history.

    If I were doing highlight reels for SPAC, I would include the major jam sequences intact ie Gin>Limb>WQ, Fuego>Disease>Twist>Light>Theme, Carini>Waves>Wingsuit>Piper, then throw on the Tweezer, YEM, Melt and Reba for good measure. I thought the Slave was nice also.

  8. Cable Hogue Says:

    For me, CMAC was a good show overall…IMO it was the best first set up to this point and had the centerpiece jam in DWD and a more than solid Antelope to close it out. Not up to the creative standard of the previous week-plus, but good…DTE was the real head scratcher.

    wasnt at either, btw.

  9. vapebraham Says:

    still haven’t heard DTE yet; no auds. up. any leads on a sbd source? spare codes? or is it so bad i shouldn’t spend the $5 for flac?

  10. Cable Hogue Says:

    I have to give props to the Divided Sky from CMAC. Clean and inspired version (great solo) to follow up one from SPAC that I thought was kinda a mess.

  11. vapebraham Says:

    agreed, Hogue. CMAC set I delivers — bustout opener, great 555, great modestly jammed Gin, aced DS, tricked out wombat, and strongh bowie clsoer.

  12. Cable Hogue Says:

    vape- I would wait for an AUD to surface, or just let it gently recede into the mists of time.

  13. dorn76 Says:

    Coventry Blog often has a link in the comments after each show.

  14. btb Says:

    BB meetup tonight?

    I’m planning on just drinking beers by the beach at the maingate as of now.

  15. Phamily Berzerker Says:

    Would love for Phish to shit the bed this weekend and troll all the phanners with uber mediocre run.

  16. Jerome Garcia Says:

    Veneta China > Rider is so smooth & swingin. Def freakin out the squares on the trail.

  17. vapebraham Says:

    gotcha, Hogue. thanks for weighing in. DTE was really that meh, huh? head scratcher, indeed. mike’s, ghost, tweezer, piper and fuego all in one set w/ nothing to write home about. crazy.

    my neighbor was intrigued by DTE set II on paper and was hungry to listen. He’s not of the BB ilk that sees two too many tunes in a set II and cringes.

  18. pretzel Says:

    I began visiting this site some years ago and treated it as just a place to download mp3s. This quickly grew frustrating as I came to understand mr.miner’s cataloging “system.” 🙂 It’s only been over the last year, or so, that I’ve come to appreciate how great the comment sections and mr.miner’s phishthoughts really are … you’re all awesome.

  19. Wreakapaugh Smoove Says:

    @Hougue, agreed, first set CMAC love!
    @Vape- yeah, definitely meh, looks great on paper.

  20. vapebraham Says:

    7.5.98 Fee — $$$

  21. Jerome Garcia Says:

    ‘Turn my voice up in the monitors God luv ya’ -Booby

  22. tela's_muff Says:

    @Arty – really on that SPAC Gin at #2? huh. didn’t hear much there, but for sure nice that it opened second set and broke free of form.

    SPAC Gin and CMAC Disease. i applaud the effort, would enjoy it in house, just not much there for me when all said and done.

    hope the Chicago crew gets what they’re looking for. gonna miss being in the city this weekend.

  23. Punkmug Says:

    Emergency! Just realized I messed up the ticket buying and just realized we are short one GA for tonight and have an extra GA for Sun Chicago. Looking to trade. I will be Chicago within the next two hours. Punkmug at yahoo. Sorry to post in the comments but I’m in a small panic right now. Thx!

  24. Darth Vaper Says:

    Is there a place to post that’s not in the comments?

    There are always tickets at shows. Well, almost always.

    It’s rumored Mike and Trey were at Second City again last night.

  25. BingosBrother Says:

    How nice of you PB.

    Don’t know of a meet up, but I’ll be at Reggies pre and post show maybe all weekend. Will be center back of lawn most likely every night crushing it. Will let y’all know my ensemble later if you wanna say hey. Most likely cargo jorts and an official phish concert tee.

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