After an all-night drive to Utica, I never stopped to give Augusta’s show its proper due. So, let’s start this week with a flashback to October 19, in the college town of Augusta, Maine. Building off Charleston’s triumphant finale, Phish traveled far north to drop their second consecutive standout show, including two jams that trumped anything played through the first five shows of tour. Enclosed in a gymnasium frozen in time somewhere around 1982 – Phish juxtaposed plenty of of forward-looking music to these retro surroundings while creating two pieces that stand the test of time. During a roots-rock Americana-based opening set, Phish included diversions with a tour-highlight “Bathtub Gin” and “Divided Sky,” but the real northern lights came after setbreak…and during the encore! In a mini two-part series to begin this week, we’ll look at a two tour-defining moments that took place one night in Maine.
Jumping head first into the second set with a “Fuck Your Face” and Mike’s Song” mash-up, the band swung from their knees and ignited the second set. But when the hard-edged piece ended, one of Augusta’s extraordinary moments emerged in “Light.” Fall versions of “Light” tended toward next-generation Phish grooves – sped up and highly intricate textures – rather than the melodic and abstract sounds that characterized summer’s standouts. But in Augusta, the band not only moved through both of these sonic plateaus with fluid virtuosity, they also dipped into the cosmic soup – a brief but soulful spacescape in the vein of “Tweezer’s” ending in Miami (12.29.09). This multi-dimensional version progressed through organically morphing improv with utmost patience, one-minded connectedness, and an exploratory spirit. Landing in several segments of fully realized psychedelia, Augusta’s “Light” stood out as Fall’s top-shelf offering; a piece that flirts with the loftiest incarnations of the modern launch pad.
Locked and loaded, Trey hit a rhythm chord that ended the song’s thrilling structured jam and reset the improvisational canvas. Immediately stepping into quick collaborative rhythms, Page’s organ solo lent a darker feel to the music. Trey and Fish locked into a series of hits that engaged the band in full, moving as one into the first stage of a fluid psychedelic journey. Fusing bliss and groove, Trey offered several melodic themes that guided this four-part conversation, taking the band far away into the land of make-believe. Mike and Page formed a drone curtain for Trey and Fish’s two-part dynamic play. Moving forward, both Mike and Page oozed into patterns of their own, soon crafting a four-player game of sonic ping-pong.
Trey’s melodic leads turned spiritual, fitting perfectly within the band’s nuanced rhythmic folds, creating an interwoven quilt of musical mastery. Phish painted this passage with delicate precision while simultaneously pushing the boundaries of their modern sound – a sure sign that the state of current Phish could not be better. Passing though an abstract segment, Trey played notes that resembled a classic digital delay pattern, still speaking with melodic sensibility. As the jam grew quieter, the band transformed into a four-headed ambient monster, stepping powerfully from its lair and engulfing the music with heavy sonic sorcery. Bleeding into “Twenty Years Later,” Phish proceeded to take the song’s ominous patterns for the most significant ride of their young life, finally infusing a full-band jaunt into the dark tale; a perfect counterpart for “Light’s” intergalactic excursion.
Jam of the Day:
“Bathtub Gin” 10.19.2010 I
With today’s focus on Augusta, here is the first set “Bathtub Gin” that lit the show afire.
DOWNLOAD OF THE DAY:
10.19.2010 Civic Center, Augusta, Maine
The first show of Phish’s week in the Northeast, this intimate mid-week affair built off Charleston and catapulted the band onto Utica via stellar playing throughout and a juicy second set of highlight-strewn Phish.
I: Chalk Dust Torture, Back on the Train, Torn and Frayed, Bathtub Gin, Gumbo, The Divided Sky, Jesus Just Left Chicago, Nellie Kane, 46 Days, Possum
II: Fuck Your Face, Mike’s Song* > Light > Twenty Years Later > Fast Enough for You, Weekapaug Groove, Halley’s Comet, Free, Harry Hood, Golgi Apparatus, A Day in the Life
E: Reba, Backwards Down the Number Line
* with”Fuck Your Face” quotes at the beginning and end of the jam
Source: FOB Schoeps mk22> kc5> cmc6> psp3> mini-me@48-24>r44>sd (Tapers – Rob Adler / Dave Flaschner)