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. marcoesq Says:

    A pinner 1st set highlighted by the Line and a 10min Antelope would be pretty funny to see in Vegas though. Might be worth the price of admission.

  2. MrCompletely Says:

    Halloween is one of the Kid High Holy Days along with Xmas and birthday so that scene is off the table over here

  3. little umbrellas Says:

    ^word C. That was kind of a dickish post of mine.
    Apologies sent for an obtuse response.
    One in a similar mind context to my own can deal with Vegas and have a good time. I did. But thank got I had that boom box and the weirdest music I could find. Clung to Sun Ra for protection. Safe vibes with Alice.

  4. aj Says:

    Nice! Official Wedge video:

  5. dorn76 Says:

    Randy Ghost section from 12:30-15:30.

    That is some dirty, swanky, get-some-on-ya type funk. If Bingo’s had been in NYC he might’ve unintentionally stomped the life out of some poor bastard.

  6. aj Says:

    The Line jokes easy to come by all weekend. XXX step to the line. ugh. Homie dont play that.

  7. little umbrellas Says:

    Had to look up Borgata. Not sure I believe the food is actually fresh and good. But basically I’m a spoiled Bay Area food snob.

    Man the food onsite at Jazzfest was yum. Best quality food vending at a huge mainstream event that I’ve had.

  8. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    pretty sure “Young Girls with Fake IDs Trying to Sell Me Their Buttholes” is a latter era short story by Hemingway but I could be mixing up my authors

  9. Mr. Palmer Says:

    “Halloween is one of the Kid High Holy Days along with Xmas and birthday so that scene is off the table over here” – C

    Yup…Exactly… My only hope for seeing music on Halloween is if Phil plays the Cap.. I can get there quickly , post trick or treat.

  10. little umbrellas Says:

    ‘industrial scale degradation of the human spirit ‘

    ^well put.

  11. MrCompletely Says:

    I’m gonna be salty as fuck if those shitty PNW dates are right

  12. little umbrellas Says:

    @Marco. Nice man. Enjoy SC. Lived there for 6 years, hit me up if you want any recs.
    mr.j.toews at the gee mail . would highly recommend a visit to the redwoods while there.

    Also not sure what your timing is like, but we’re playing the Chapel in SF on August 15th. Ethio Funk and Psych Motown will be had. If ya make it, i can give ya a nice preroll.

  13. dusty Says:

    crack is whack yo, and so is that twamp of a west coast tour. But really what did we expect?

    For bay area surfing…Stinson gets sharky but fun. Dillon, sharky no crowds. Pleasure point in SC too. Lindamar but its sewage. montara if its not big. But you know it gets real at times closer to pillar point as you go south from the city.

  14. little umbrellas Says:

    Usually have meh feeling about the Wedge. But I was just reading the lyrics to the song and they’re pretty fantastic.

  15. little umbrellas Says:

    Oh yeah, and to any in the area:
    Also playing Moe’s Alley in Santa Cruz on July 31st. Sun Hop Fat Ethio dance party. Opening for this band on tour from New York called Zongo Junction. Afrobeat styling group. Should be a good show. Hit me up and smoke one with the band out back if you please.

  16. marcoesq Says:

    Word,, lilum. Would def be interested but race is next year. Would be interested if you guys are playing then!

  17. snow Says:

    Quite fuckin wit our heads palmer!!!
    I know date are inconsequential to you when they play 20 shows a day in your back yard, but this is life/death type shit for us PNWers. 😉

  18. marcoesq Says:

    I dig the Wedge. So this dance party type II-ish one is right up my alley.

    Even saw SCI cover the wedge at a Halloween show in ME years ago and liked it. I’m awdul

  19. MrCompletely Says:

    seriously. them dates are a straight up dickpunch

  20. little umbrellas Says:

    Strange Design is an awesome site. Just played through the Wedge for my first time. Awesome tune. Love how they ‘resolve’ to the 5 chord at the end of the chorus.

  21. MrCompletely Says:

    Wedge is a good song. Longtime favorite of mine. Like the fishman part and the overall feel and the first verse. Not always a fan of it getting dropped into the middle of set 2s since it can sometimes mean “jukebox on” but I love seeing a jammed out one.

    That Chi twist though. That’s some guitar playing right there. And the energy. Talk about a song that can be great or a throwaway – this one doesn’t break form so much as it pummels the usual form into submission

  22. IrieWalton Says:

    Yeah, those Pac NW dates are a shame. But when they all sell out, the boys will realize that Fall Tour should always be in the Cascadia Nation.

  23. marcoesq Says:

    Love the strange design site! That and Gadiel’s page were my go-to’s in the 90’s. My wife was just telling me last night I know how to play way too many Ph songs on guitar. Probably could’ve found a better use of my time.

    But seriously, who doesn’t sit and home and practice the Tweezer jam just in case one day you get called up..

  24. MrCompletely Says:

    So just found out our house is worth a whole lot more than we thought it was. That ain’t bad.

  25. little umbrellas Says:

    Ahh next year.

    DickPunch dates. Hope they aren’t right.

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