Back to the Freezer

Ameris Amphitheatre [Rene Huemer via Phish]

Anyone following Phish’s first week of tour could feel a Sunday night “Tweezer” coming from a mile away. And given the band’s current proclivity for extended jaunts through their second-set centerpieces, one could only imagine what might happen if these two things collided. When they did, the results were drool-worthy. The band set shifted into high gear and let it rip for over 30 minutes straight, crafting a full-throttle epic that has the Phish world buzzing.

Jams this long usually have an ebb and flow to them with distinct thematic sections and movements, but aside from one gorgeous synth-drenched, quasi-ambient passage early in the jam, this “Tweezer” became a relentless groove fiesta through and through. Fishman really pushed the pace and drove this jam, maintaining hard-hitting, punchy rhythms for a mind-numbing length of time. Coupled with Mike’s otherworldly bass work, the two of them maintained a dynamic pocket for far longer than we usually hear. This foundation of groove provided a playground for Page and Trey to play liquid lead lines and funk-laced dance patterns that kept the vibe at 11 for the entirety of the monstrosity.

Though there are subtle shifts within the jam, once the band is in the zone—which happens after a blatant tease of “Esther” in the 15th minute—they achieve a one-minded flow state for the duration in which they channel groove ambrosia directly from Mt. Olympus. During this second half of the jam, it sounds as if their minds shut off and they reach improvisational zen, allowing the music to move through them from the subconscious realm out into the world.

Much like this “Tweezer,” Phish’s three mega-jams thus far in tour, have been more straight forward and energetic rather than abstract and deep. One can hear the band’s enthusiasm and emotion dripping from each melody, beat and bass line. It feels as though they are trying to make up for time lost over the past year and a half, jamming more with instinct and inspiration rather than calculation or thought. Their impassioned improv is jumping off the stage and translating loud and clear, even through audio streams and webcasts far and wide. It almost sounds like the band members have just been released from captivity and are re-discovering what fun it is to jam together. Wait…

It will be interesting to see how second-sets develop moving forward. Will the band’s improv largely come in these larger-that-life packages or will it become more evenly dispersed throughout second sets to which we are accustomed? I’m not saying one is preferred but just observing a shift in contour. Though their have been secondary jams that have encompassed the improvisational fallout from these main events, aside from “Prince Caspian” these supporting excursions haven’t really reached original places. “Twist” kept the jamming going last night, and was certainly engaging if less than groundbreaking. “Piper,” however, did reached some inventive, collectively-built spaces by its ending. The main improvisation of each past three shows, however, has primarily come via the macro-jams of “Carini,” “Chalkdust,” and “Tweezer.”

Sunday night’s vibe was set early on with the one-two punch of “Set Your Soul Free” and “Reba.” “Set Your Soul Free” reached a blistering, feel-good peak that foreshadowed what would follow throughout the night. A particularly slow take on “Reba” and a creative version of “Jibboo” both featured very patient interplay between Trey and Page and carried the clean, emotive soloing that is quickly characterizing much of Trey’s post-pandemic work. Each also provided cathartic peaks that pointed to the more monumental ones that would come in “Tweezer” after setbreak.

That was quite the comeback weekend for the Phish from Vermont! With a full-slate of shows scheduled for this summer and fall, it feels like the sky is the limit for the band right now, as they are—in essence—just getting warmed up. And if crushing 30+ minute “Tweezers” is what they are doing on their first weekend back, what is to come at Deer Creek, Atlantic City and beyond? Time will tell. But first, a stop in Nashville.

I. Buried Alive > Set Your Soul Free, Reba, My Friend, My Friend, 555, Kill Devil Falls, Gotta Jibboo, Sparkle, Thread, Meat, Run Like an Antelope

II. More, Tweezer > Twist > Piper > Farmhouse, Waste, First Tube

E. Sleeping Monkey > Tweezer Reprise

18 Responses to “Back to the Freezer”

  1. uncle-jimmy Says:

    Thank you for keeping the light on in the freezer and being an integral part of my phish friend network, dude. I totally keep forgetting that you are typing at the keyboard again! Genuinely quite glad to see you back. Thirty Eight Years. 38 got damn years and these nerds from Vermont are dropping napalm like this. It’s unparalleled and I’m just happy to be here.

  2. little umbrellas Says:

    What a show!

  3. MrCompletely Says:

    I think “General Sherman” would be an appropriate nickname for the whole Tweezer thru Piper segment but maybe that’s just me

  4. Jerseyjim Says:

    Good to hear from you. What do you think of Trey’s vocal trilling in songs like Thread, and other spots in the last few nights?

  5. Billy Says:

    Good to see you back writing. Enjoy your thoughts on the Phish from VT. Pretty amazing start. Leaving for Nashville in the AM. Mercury jam coming up.

  6. MiA Says:

    Nice write up. SYSF, Reba, Antelope, gotta Jibboo, Tweezer, twist, Piper, Waste …

    All great jam vehicles that seemed extra spicy and they seemed to groove and get them connected

  7. kenny powers Says:

    so i forgot how LP does this – so these days “HD” means a video of the whole show? so not only can you stream the show live but you can buy it on demand?

  8. kenny powers Says:

    I’m so pumped to get into couch tour, albeit probably a few days behind since i’m working at the hospital like 50 hours a week. and you know what’s sweet? Eleven years ago next weekend aka Tax Free Weekend in MA I bought an iMac. and finally, i’m about to muthafuckin’ upgrade son. Gonna DL some dank AUDs and get down w/ y’all!

  9. kenny powers Says:

    that new light rig man…seriously thinking of driving the solo 5.5 hours to Hershey for Weds 8/11

  10. kayatosh Says:

    exciting! Great review! Thank you.

    . . .it sounds as if their minds shut off and they reach improvisational zen, allowing the music to move through them from the subconscious realm out into the world.

    ^^ i.e., the good, good.

    Now how can I hear this Tweezer? is it back to aud hunting for me? Peace

  11. kayatosh Says:

    Have taken the Carini to the dome a couple times. A mini plinko jam + an extended, uptempo peak + captivating, short otherworldly denouement = gold. Back half of 2019 and Mexico 2020 was very high quality Phish (e.g., 2.23.2020 Golden Age). Nice to see them pick it back up so swiftly and cleanly. Tonal beauty and balance. What a band!

  12. Willowed Says:

    They channel groove ambrosia directly from Mt. Olympus

    ^ this!

  13. Lycanthropist Says:

    “groove ambrosia” is the type of writing I have missed these years.

  14. kayatosh Says:

    relentless groove fiesta

  15. 20 Minute Halleys Says:

    Good to have the master linguist back for Hunter S Thompson type Gonzo takes on a band that is hotter than ever. China>Rider tease in that Piper fosho! Y’all quoted the finest parts so no need to belabor the point! Thanks Miner.

    Now let’s Ascend! PYITE opener.

    Mahalo Nui,

  16. DryIceFactory Says:

    “Phish is back and better than ever and so am I!!!”

    Good to have ya back, Dave! Missed reading these.

  17. HarryHood Says:


    So happy to see you reviewing shows again even if it’s not an in-person experience yet! I know that the “BB” regulars (new and old) have scattered a bit and are using other platforms to communicate, but THIS is still home. You were the catalyst for so many great experiences/friendships/etc. created over the years and I’m extremely thankful! Looking forward to hearing more of anything you want to share now and in the future…….

  18. Nate Says:


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