Catching Fire

7.12.14, NYC (Chris LaJaunie)

7.12.14, NYC (Chris LaJaunie)

Phish returned to Summer Tour with a monster weekend comprised of two standout shows and one for the record books in the mid-Atlantic last weekend. Following a four-day break, the band has made a concerted effort to deliver the whole package each night to each audience and were successful on three consecutive nights to begin the second half of Summer Tour 2014. Phish certainly hit a stride with these performances and their fluidity has stepped to the forefront of their shows to compliment their already present jamming. Everything has now fallen into place and the guys are in the zone as they approach the final week of a tremendously successful run.

7.16.14, Detroit (J.Herzog)

7.16.14, Detroit (J.Herzog)

It became quickly apparent this past weekend in Charlotte and Merriweather, that Phish is serious about their segues again. I’m not sure what, if anything, transpired during the four day break, but the band came back firing off seamless transitions at almost every juncture. Beginning in Charlotte’s second set, the guys wove “Fuego” “Twist” and “When the Circus Comes to Town “ into a seamless suite of music. Even with all of the segues that transpired at Merriwether, the slyest of them all happened when the guys unsuspectingly transformed the “Twist” jam into the tour debut of Los Lobos’ “Circus.” A definitive musical segue with not a momentary glitch, this shift actually deserves consideration beyond just its all-tour status. The transitions continued to fly on the first night in Columbia as the band slithered through a second-set sequence of “Carini -> Ghost > Steam -> Mango” with notable flow. But this second-“leg” trend, though only three days old, came to an immediate head in Sunday’s retro segue-fest, the likes of which hasn’t showed its face in oh, about two decades! Bobbing and weaving in and out of songs with spontaneity and precision, the band treated the audience to an old-school affair in which the excitement generated was as much about what would happen next as it was about the music. Totally in the moment and having a blast, the band tore off countless segues, but the most seamless movement of the night came in the musical palindrome of “Free -> Tweezer -> Simple -> Tweezer -> Free.” Delivering three songs a single piece of music, the guys took the early-set mashup theme to a whole new level with this clever vignette. The entire vibe of a set changes when the band makes smooth transitions between songs, and one would expect this trend to continue through the south.

7.20.14 (G.Lucas)

7.20.14 (G.Lucas)

These artistic transitions helped contribute to the second Mid-Atlantic take away—Phish’s delivery of complete second sets. Though Summer Tour started out strong in this regard, the band’s set craftsmanship took a small dip after Randall’s Island. Phish began to bounce back in Chicago, specifically with their third-night performance, and continued this upward swing with these past three shows. With only one blemish in three main events (Charlotte’s harshly “Rift”-corded “Piper” jam), Phish’s second sets have not only been proficiently smooth, but exceptionally so. This arc was highlighted by Merriweather’s Saturday night performance in which the band threw down a bulletproof second frame. Each segue was considered and artistic, virtually every song contained a legitimate jam, and the entire set went off without hitch. Even Sunday’s wild ride was notably smooth as the band worked through countless shifts between songs and schticks. Phish’s sense of the moment—one of their defining characteristics throughout their career—has returned in full this summer, and no performance illustrates this more than Sunday’s unforgettable affair. The best versions of Phish instinctually know when to pull back and when to push things far over the edge, surfing the energy of the crowd and the moment as well as any performers in history. Sunday night’s show at Merriweather showed us that, even while pushing age 50, the guys can still blend their musical acumen with their sense of the absurd to craft a wacky though virtuoso ride through a unique universe called Phish.

7.16.14 (J.Herzog)

7.16.14 (J.Herzog)

And don’t look now, but two of the weekend’s three first sets were great too! Both Charlotte’s and Sunday night Merriweather’s opening frames popped with energy and musicality. Friday’s first set featured powerful versions of crowd favorites including “Mike’s Song,” “Back on the Train,” “Weekapaug,” “Possum,” “Tube” and “David Bowie,” as well as a quality version of “Wingsuit” and the most improvised “Winterqueen” to date. This amounted to a virtual non-stop barrage of serious Type I jamming throughout Charlotte’s opening set. Sunday’s first frame contained legitimate improvisational highlights in “Curtain (With),” “Sand” and “You Enjoy Myself” and also derived energy through the rarities of “Fee,” “My Sweet One” and “Saw It Again.” On each night, as the setbreak lights came on, one felt like he had already been through a legitimate musical experience, and in the modern era of Phish shows, that makes all the difference.

Meanwhile, the jams have continued to roll. This weekend’s improvisational Dean’s List has two tiers. The first is headed up by Charlotte’s “Chalk  Dust Torture” and Merriweather’s “Tweezer” while also featuring Saturday’s “Ghost” “Light” and Sunday’s “NICU.” The second tier includes Merriweather’s “Carini,” “Harry Hood,” and Charlotte’s late-set “Reba.”

As we turn to the final five shows of tour, Phish has their feet solidly under them and the creative faucet locked in the on position. They certainly seem like a band that is primed to slaughter the south in a victory lap of a successful summer tour. Crushing it night after night creatively and consistently, and having the time of their lives, this is Phish live without a net and in their prime once again. Or simply put—this is Phish en fuego.

7.12.14 (Chris LaJaunie)

7.12.14 (Chris LaJaunie)

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3,704 Responses to “Catching Fire”

  1. little umbrellas Says:

    in the Camden03 Yem now.. not sure I’ve ever heard a YEM that went pysch minor key jamming… we shall see.. could it be true?

  2. little umbrellas Says:

    nice Jtran. makin it happen.

  3. Jerome Garcia Says:

    teeny b what do you know of Dallas based The Relatives & their psychedelic gospel funk? They’re having a midnight Daptone Release show next Fri @ Continental Club. They’re signed to Yep Roc but Daptone reissuing some old 45s of theirs. From their FB pg:

    ‘The Original Bells of Joy will be opening for us at the Continental Club in Austin on Friday 8/15. This is the release party for the “Don’t Let Me Fall” 45 single that Daptone / Ever-Soul just released.’

    Original Bells of Joy are pretty awesome. Caught a BOJ at Gospel Brunch at Stubbs back in the early aughts. Jeff ‘Skunk’ Baxter was in the crowd sat in & absolutely fucking killed it.

  4. little umbrellas Says:

    ^ i know nothing of this. Sounds cool.

  5. little umbrellas Says:

    minute 14 of Camden 03 YEM. who could be hating on this show in house?! Not minor key jamming, just straight up dope ass two chord Dominant Funk. Trey just rocking the Funk rhythms. Building. awesome sauce.

  6. garretcorncob Says:

    Orange Beach DWD is actually a great example of Trey bringing the band to a peak without playing shreddy lead. About 2 minutes before the end he pushes a full band, rhythmic groove up with what is, if I’m remembering correctly, a one-chord, pretty straightforward strumming pattern. Then he throws in hitch in the rhythm and they break it all up through the end of the jam.

    So a little best of both worlds. That was a good one.

    Alpha Gumbo is great too, dang. Nicely back into Gumbo-land by Trey. Going back through the southern run for first repeats. OB Tweezer also solid. Pretty strong end to tour. Don’t remember what Pelhams’s highlights are, if any. Guess I’ll try that Ghost now

  7. little umbrellas Says:

    minute 18. Trey stepping it up with Shred festing. More Trash symbol on the upbeats! Rock and Roll!

  8. little umbrellas Says:

    ^dug that Gumbo and that Ghost garret.

  9. Jerome Garcia Says:

    The Relatives Electric Word

    NY Times article about the group & album circa 2013.

  10. Jerome Garcia Says:

    Orange Beach DWD is actually a great example of Trey bringing the band to a peak without playing shreddy lead

    ^forever known as the Jazz Odyssey Disease.

  11. little umbrellas Says:

    The Relatives is a pretty good band name though.

  12. Jerome Garcia Says:

    Haven’t listened to note one of OB but looks like a mucho tasty second frame. Can anyone confirm this?

  13. Jerome Garcia Says:

    Alright so I ripcorded the Triplet mid Light to spin The Relatives Don’t Let Me Fall which was originally recorded from ’71 – ’75 & released in ’09. Kinda dank.

  14. Mr.Miner Says:

    Yup. 20 minute dwd without a single lead line by trey at OB. and it actually works for the most part. Certainly not a transcendent jam, but a very good one. Kind of the story of the tour.

  15. tela's_muff Says:

    ok, sorry. this will be last long post, until i do this for ’99 Winter. i’d also like to mention, I think Mike starts to step up after he throws down pretty hard in that Chi Seven Below. He steps it up a notch. if i had to push two very underrated jams from this list check the 2/26 Moma and Maze. also, notice the lack of the dark jams in favor of a balance between toned down snarl and straight groove. this tour is straight bizness time, imo.

    Darkness/Oxy –

    2/21 – Mikes
    2/24 – Twist
    2/26 – Maze
    2/28 – Bowie

    Funk/Groove –

    2/21 – Disease
    2/21 – 2001
    2/22 – Piper>Weekapaug
    2/24 – Disease (listen to the cymbal work Fish does at end)
    2/24 – Halleys
    2/26 – Moma Dance
    2/26 – Ghost>Low Rider
    2/28 – Gin

    Rock –

    2/21 – Lope
    2/22 – WOTC
    2/22 – Tube (yes, more rock than groove, imo)
    2/22 – Gin
    2/22 – Bowie
    2/25 – Taste
    2/25 – Slave
    2/25 – AC/DC Bag
    2/25 – Theme
    2/28 – BOTT
    2/28 – Tweezer (obvious)
    2/28 – Hood

    Outlier –

    2/24 – LxL
    2/26 – Stash

  16. vapebraham Says:

    The BB provides. just spun the P&M from 8.3.14 in sbd. Excellent version. Nobody talks about it but it was aced.

  17. vapebraham Says:

    “Note for note, overall I favor this summer over last summer. More interesting & complete sets, Fuego freshness, less reliance on overused song placements, more practice clearly done before tour, lotsa little creative moments strewn throughout sets. And Fishman!” — sumo

    ^^ you’re echoing some of my same thoughts. Great tour, to be sure

  18. little umbrellas Says:

    so this Camden 03 show has def been some hot shit. Great song selection. Huge jams. The SASS might have been my favorite part. Twist had some great moments in it aswell. fun show as a complete listen.
    thank you MrPalmer.

    …Though I’m not sure how this is considered an all dark second set. Twist got weird but Bug, YEM and WTC all stayed in super Rockin, though not scary waters. what an awesome late era YEM!
    People who thought that was really dark and weird must have missed 94 and 95. Way scarier, intense and endlessly going back to dissonance than this show. Or other shows in say.. 98, I would also consider more dissonant than this one.

    Camden 03 set 2. First song could scare… but Bug,YEM and WTC were all a rockin good time.
    ps. I like Secret Smile. Nice tune.

  19. Gavinsdad Says:

    When they aced that p&m I obviously jumped to thinking they would lay waste to set 2. BB’d

    Stoney – trey was beaming and on the other pole of his bipole at alph. Giddy as shit. He loves our $$$$

  20. Jerome Garcia Says:

    Elihu called for a P&M on 8/3. Great call.

  21. little umbrellas Says:

    @Tela’s. Do it for 99!! please!! i will devour.

  22. Gavinsdad Says:

    And I guess telas never sees his wife or kids to put that much thought into Phish.

    Jokes tho man. Nice work. U are a student.

  23. little umbrellas Says:

    HA! just heard the Boo’s at the end of Secret Smile. People are funny.

    Marvin’s What’s Goin On on the PA. “mother, mother, there’s too many of you crying…”

  24. tela's_muff Says:

    It’s my bday Gdad. I get to shirk obligation. When I drove to Indiana in June I forced my family to suffer through a winter ’03 study session.

  25. vapebraham Says:

    8.3.14 SaSS is similarly aced, but it gets dissed b/c it contains no jam.

    8.3.14 gets major points for Vultures, P&M, SASS.

    thanks again, BB, for the crispy sound.

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