Ascend Amphitheatre [Rene Huemer]

After bursting from their pandemic-induced hiatus over the weekend as if shot out of a cannon, Phish exhaled on Tuesday night, playing a solid but unspectacular show to kick off their two nights in Music City. One had to expect some element of a hangover after three monumental efforts over tour’s initial four nights, thus I don’t suspect this is much more than a speed bump in the road of summer tour. Each of the band’s second-set improvisational swings bested the one before, culminating with an outstanding, meditative take on “Light” in which they achieved a fully flowing conversation bubbling with ideas. Alpharetta’s “Tweezer” was a hard act to follow, and while fans were primed to digest another epic, Nashville’s opener saw the band regress to the mean a bit.

Following the peak of its composed jam, “No Man’s” pushed forth into some collectively crafted, space-aged textures, but the jam possessed a searching quality without ultimately cohering in any true direction. “Ruby Waves,” however, was played with notably more gusto and purpose, growing into an engaging and satisfying piece of full-band improv. After a choppy and unexpected mid-set coupling of “Possum” and “When the Circus Comes to Town,” Trey decided to give the band one more swing at connecting—and they did.

“Light’s” jam immediately sounded more cohesive than the band’s previous two attempts, and took off in earnest as Trey then Page echoed an eclectic bass offering from Gordeaux. The band reached a different level of communication in this passage, and the rolling, repetitive nature of Fish’s rhythms and Mike’s bass lines created a cerebral tone to the music. Trey played his best leads of the night within “Light,” providing a current to the jam that carried the listener along an inner path. Phish allowed this piece to breathe, leaving more space in the music than in “No Man’s” and “Ruby Waves,” and, as a result, they were able to step back and really listen to one another.

The band capped the set with a standard run through of “You Enjoy Myself.” I am sure it was fun in person, but from the sidelines—outside of “Light”—night one in Nashville just didn’t pop with the same energy or ideation that we heard over the weekend. But such is the nature of human endeavors. Tours always contain fluctuations in output and while we all wanted to see Phish crank out 25-30 minute jams every night, that felt more like a pipe dream than a real possibility. I predict that night two will be more musically significant as the band ramps up towards their three-night stand in Deer Creek this weekend.

I. Punch You in the Eye, Strawberry Letter 23, Sample in a Jar, Halley’s Comet > Backwards Down the Number Line, Undermind, Divided Sky, Mull*, It’s Ice, About to Run, The Squirming Coil

II. Party Time, No Men In No Man’s Land > Ruby Waves > Possum, When the Circus Comes, Light, You Enjoy Myself

E. Loving Cup


3 Responses to “Reentry”

  1. BooVT Says:

    Thank you, Miner. It’s great to have these reviews to read again, and of course the comment chatter, too. I’ve missed this.

  2. Cheard Says:

    How ’bout that 2nd set last night! Yowza!

  3. Aquaman Says:

    Miner, I know this comment is a few days back, but being on the front page maybe there is hope you’ll see this.

    I can’t tell you how much fun it has been reading your takes once again. I’m thrown back to the days of 2008-2011 when we congealed as a community. We hung one every note form the boys and every typed character from you and couldn’t wait to hit refresh to watch our comments get digested by the Family. This really does feel great and like home.

    I hope you all are doing well out West.

    See you phreaks at Hershey!


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