We’ve Got a Band

Deer Creek [Rene Huemer via Phish]

Wow. That felt incredible. The modern world of webcasts and audio streams is an amazing luxury to have when you are at home, but there is just no substitute for the live Phish experience. That goes without saying, as it is the basis of what I’ve written about for years. But having been away for so long, I forgot the visceral feeling of the music moving through you—the immersive three-dimensionality that envelops your being. It is the most beautiful experience I know.

But what happened with the band? Well, they dropped an absolutely monstrous show anchored by an all- time jam in “Simple” that immediately became one of my favorite pieces of music that Phish has ever played. The second set, as a whole, was dripping with elite improvisation, and the first hour of the opening frame set the night aflame with non-stop action. Phish certainly brought its A+ game to the midwest, and kicked off their trifecta at Deer Creek with an explosive affair.

A show opening sequence of “Carini,” “Wolfman’s” and “Sand” reads like a misprint, but the reality was anything but, as Phish came out of the gates with a purpose. “Carini” quickly transformed into an engaging and uplifting passage that instantly set an improvisational tone for the evening. “Wolfman’s” offered some silky and connected funk playing straying just enough from structure to keep it interesting throughout. “Sand” built upon the show’s opening couplet and elevated into another stratosphere all together, as Trey and Page converged in glorious interplay that brought the jam into gorgeous, major-key territory. Page’s piano work really stood out here, anchoring the groove in blissful pastures before Trey took the piece to the mountain top.

Short but legitimately well-played versions of “We Are Come to Outlive Our Brains” and “Tube” rounded out a gripping opening hour of the show. At this juncture, Trey pulled the Delorean out and set the flux capacitor for 1993, resulting in the run of “Nellie Kane,” “Horn,” “Rift,” and Wedge.” The set then concluded with a really hot version of “Walls of the Cave,” and that is something I’m not sure I’ve said before.

But as the bell rang for the main event, Phish came out ready to rumble. And, boy did they ever. Following the set opener of “AC/DC Bag,” the band decided to get the show on the road with a gargantuan version of “Blaze On.” This jam grew unique in that for a long time, the improvisation remained loosely anchored to the rhythms of the song and didn’t posses distinct thematic sections, yet amidst this context, the band was immersed in an elite and free-flowing conversation. In relistening, this extended section struck me as a jazz-based improvisation, not necessarily musically-speaking, but structurally.

After experimenting with alternate tones and effects, Trey emerges with clean, melodic leads, taking the “Blaze” jam into a second stage in which his playing creates a more distinct musical narrative. Following a peak to this section, it became apparent that this would be the jam that kept on giving. The band navigates several more distinct sections ranging from experimental to melody-driven, finally concluding with an extended victory lap in which the band takes the mega long form piece to the top.

Those are a lot of words before getting to the the most epic piece of music I’ve heard Phish play any time in recent memory. Tonight’s “Simple” jam is so astronomically bonkers it had Trey giddily laughing as he brought the band back into the song after plunging the depths of the underworld and the outer reaches of the universe. Fusing space-aged disco, psych-abstraction and seriously heavy groove, Phish crafted a piece of utter lunacy that instantly jumps into the upper-most echelon of all-time jams. I’m not going to even attempt to give a detailed account of this, because frankly it defies any semantic description. It is, in a nutshell, Phish incarnate.

“Harry Hood” felt like the perfect encore for “Simple’s” headlining performance, and the band played a concise and on point version of the hallowed classic to cap off a fantastic evening of Phish. But in a surprise add on, Trey called for “I Never Needed You Like This Before,” which I can see settling into a rocking, set closing utility moving forward a la “Zero” and “S.A.N.T.O.S.”

Damn. What a night. This new era of Phish has quickly become some serious business. As Ron Burgundy said, “Boy, that escalated quickly!” If the current trajectory holds, what is going to be happening by the end of the year? You can save the whales and you can save the toads, but I don’t care if the world explodes…

I. Carini, Wolfman’s Brother, Sand, Lawn Boy, We Are Come to Outlive Our Brains, Tube, Nellie Kane, Horn, Rift, The Wedge, Walls of the Cave

II. AC/DC Bag, Blaze On, Wilson, Simple, Harry Hood, I Never Needed You Like This Before

E. Sanity, Limb By Limb, Say It To Me S.A.N.T.O.S.

15 Responses to “We’ve Got a Band”

  1. Yatta Says:

    That simple was one of if not the most wild jams of all time. Almost had a 94 incoherent at the same time coherent feel to it that left your mind all over the place needing immediate playback. Can’t wait to listen to it again today.

  2. MiA Says:

    It’s amazing to me how they simply just “hook up” right now. The ferocity in playing but coupled with a near “instinctual”ability to have complementing tones and rhythm is what brought me to Phish originally.

    The feeling I forgot.

    The jams don’t even need to be 20+ minutes but the obvious joy is lifting so many people up right now.

    I listen to the ‘10 WOAC and it was a shadow of how they closed the set last night.

  3. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    I am still completely floored by the fact that the latter resolution jam in Blaze On is the same Trey lead line as the peak jam from the 12.29.18 Tweezer. That one was complete catharsis for me after a fantastically hellacious journey in getting in that night.

    But here, as MiA pointed out last night, the motif is fully flushed out and played with a different type of emotion before arriving at a similarly massive peak. The wake of that jam and realization by the crowd for what they just were a part of wad breathtaking. And then they come back after the Wilson breather (ha) and drop THAT Simple?!?

    Writing about phish right now feels like hyperbole and undervaluation all at the same time.

  4. 20 Minute Halleys Says:

    I turned to my wife on the couch during that second and said to her, “If I was at this show right now I would be scared!” There we’re moments in that Simple that downright frightened me from a musical soundscape. Typically any fear felt at a show would be due to enhancements and their eventually peaking effects. The fact that, in a semi-sober state (a few Sours deep) the band was able to conjure this emotion added to the fear factor. And…this feeling was welcome. I beckon for moments when music tears a myriad of emotions from me and won’t knock a blissful major key jam, but give me fear and threat of robotic alien invasions all day long. Which I might add is a stark contrast to the levity that the band is playing with and undoubtedly the reason they are playing at this caliber. Lastly, while the band is firing on all cylinders, Page, the chairman of the boards, is the beacon of light in this world of FRIGHT!!

    Flight searches to Indiana increased by 357% after midnight last night. I have tentatively booked my trip to Dick’s. Anyone wanna babysit!

  5. Willowed Says:

    I had a fear boner during that Simple.

  6. Cal Says:

    Holy fuck. I went in last night without hearing a note or seeing a setlist. They can’t be playing like that every night can they?

    Sure warms my heart to see new posts here. Hope you all are doing great. I still can’t believe this is all happening again.

  7. Aquaman Says:

    Miner, I’m pasting my comments from a previous thread. 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!

    -A-

    P.S> MIA I see you and just wanted to say Hey!!

  8. Aquaman Says:

    You too Willowed and Cal!

    -A-

  9. Butter Says:

    We’ll done Miner. An all time nt of the Phish. Holy smokes. Blaze on was an epiphany and I haven’t been able to unpack Simple yet. It’s all love baby baby

  10. SOAM Says:

    Countdown is on for me….almost 2 years w out a gig. I’m bringing heat to AC! Looking for set I opener of Cmon baby let’s go downtown into Izabella into first tube into ocelot into my soul into pyite>Wilson>no quarter into zero

  11. Cal Says:

    Well said Aquaman!

  12. Mr. Palmer Says:

    This thing on?

    Welcome back

  13. Aquaman Says:

    Good to be seen Palmer!

  14. Bwana Says:

    Sounds like Miner is hooked back on the Phish crack…

    Pretty pretty pretty, pretty good!

  15. Yatta Says:

    Dichotomy: there is a name for it. See you Sunday night.

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