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Bethel Revisited

Posted 3 years ago by ericwyman - 55 comments Link: http://phi.sh/b/4de54100

When Phish left the stage of Madison Square Garden on the first of this year, fans would have scheduled a ticker tape parade for the following day if the city of New York would allow it. Reviews were glowing and opinions on their musical prowess were never higher, and rightfully so. The shows were well played and filled with highlights.

Fast forward to the end of May and, I'd imagine, many people were ready for amazing energy, but probably a series warm up performances. And while that held true, there were several standout moments that carried on the efforts last winter. Probably so numerous in fact, that many fans left Bethel, well...surprised.

On Friday evening, the opening notes of Tweezer were a much welcomed change to the Sample, AC/DC, Chalkdust openers of previous tours. As for the effort, in a second set it would be quickly dismissed but not in the leadoff spot. As the set began to build, standout versions began to appear. Beginning with Wolfman's and it's segue into Phish's strongest current cover, Walk Away. Since Hartford last year, the James Gang classic has been slayed each and every time. The Stash that followed, while good enough, did not match the efforts from late last year.

Kill Devil Falls however, was the first set highlight. In a version only paralleled by the one from Bonnarroo, the band took a chance by driving beyond the main theme into pure improv. Joy-era songs have a ridiculously bad reputation. Most people, I think, just kind of dislike them. Even Light, a song which I truly love, is a total piece of shit some nights and when that's the album's pedigree dog...it's kind of an ugly sign. Ocelot, Alaska, 20 Years Later, even Number Line, definitely have their detractors. But if Phish can play KDF like THIS, they can play off anything. That's a positive moment.

The second set continued the pace with an opening Carini, reportedly shouted for from the rail, to which Trey responded "what the fuck". And that's why he will always fucking kick ass, no matter the number of times he kills great direction for a shitty song. The fireworks really started with Boogie On Reggae Woman though. IN moment of pure improvisation, Trey led the band into a slowed down outro where the each band member played with a fluctuating tempo, creating the effect of a record being slowed through pressure. It was easily one of the most creative segues since Hartford 09 and its Icculus section. Coming out of this moment was a fantastic jam in the infrequently played Waves, through a shockingly well placed Caspian and then into Crosseyed and Painless. The Talking Heads cover is a fan favorite and the band always seems to play its ass off in it. This time was no exception, until the previously mentioned "Ripcord Trey" decided that they should segue into Velvet Sea as Fish varied the tempo in C+P ready to move to another jam segment. Frustrating, but forgivable. All in all, a fantastic opening show.

The following night, Phish continued their strong showing with a first set that rivals any first frame in recent memory. The set reached a fever pitch when the band launched into an extended jam out of Halley's Comet, a decision that quelled a lot of chatter from fans about the lack of attention it has gotten of late. While the jam was interesting, the Runaway Jim that followed was even better. In what has to be the standard bearer for the song in 3.0, the band built a beautiful a rhythmic texture quickly. Whether you call it a "staccato jam" or a "plinko jam", the device that Trey first experimented in the aforementioned Icculus jam in Hartford, it has become a staple of his improvisational tricks. One that has the opportunity to become quickly tired, but in Jim it was perfectly executed to provide an additional melodic layer as the bridged the jam an the outro together. Not to be outdone in the first set was the closing Bathtub Gin. With a great type I jam to open the song, the band suddenly changes gear into something of a Golden Age/Manteca mash-up. Fantastic moment, as Manteca has seemingly become the inside joke with the band. A flawless transition back into Gin was a perfect end to a fantastic set.

After the break positive efforts were put forth on both Down With Disease and Number Line, with DWD progressing into a calm exit point for Free and Number Line feeding into a truly fun version of Makisupa involving each member of the band playing with the keyword segment, the second set seemed to fizzle slightly. After the show, people were very quick to call this evening "the best show of 3.0". I wholeheartedly disagree. It can't be the best show (fwiw, 1/1/11 and 10/26/10 blow it away) when the previous night took more chances and had higher highs than anything in the second set on Saturday.

Given the amount that's already been written here, I can summarize the Bethel closer very succinctly. Tired, uninspired and completely forgettable. Quite possibly the most boring show in 2 years. When the second set contains a five minute Weekapaug, I'm moving on.

So where do we stand now? Probably right about where we expected, but in my mind the order of greatness was inverted from what I would have expected. The band seemed to push harder on Friday, play very tight on Saturday and mail it in on Sunday. But Jersey calls and we'll see what happens Tuesday evening. High hopes, no expectations.

Comments

spencer Reply
wow. I am finding this review very unimaginative, flat, and seemingly bitter. What about the insane energy during Quinn? What about Mikes thumping and inspiring bass play during weekapaug? how can you just dismiss the mikes> simple> weekapaug? I mean I have seen it a lot too but they got after it!

No mention of the Suzy on Sunday? Seriously? No mention of opening the 3 day event with tweezer and bookending it sunday with reprise? I mean it may have been obvious after they didnt play it friday but still....

I dont know man I wasn't at the NYE shows so maybe I really missed out there, but the boys were very impressive and tight for the opening of tour and the venue kicked ass. If you couldnt get into these shows, then I feel for you.

Score: 5
djmeneses Reply
It didn't say he couldn't get into it, I thought it was a pretty accurate review. I did listen to it on couch tour and being there can give you a different opinion. Keep up the good work Spencer.
Score: 3
ericwyman Phish.net Staff Reply
ericwyman I wasn't at MSG, nor was I at these shows. But I have two ears and I listened to every second, twice if not three times while I wrote this.

You can disagree based on energy and volume, but I feel strongly that while Mike's > Simple > Weekapaug may have been a blast, it was flat and non-eventful. Nothing in Mike's playing was any different than the best versions from the past year. But the overall version was 5 minutes and featured no inspiration.

Also, I wrote 850 words on all three days. Forgive me if I missed mentioning every single song.
Score: 3
ckess22 Reply
ckess22 Great review of the weekend. Overall, right on the money.
Score: 1
DBNick Reply
Wait, you wrote the review for three shows you weren't even at? Please tell me I'm missing something...
Score: 0
TNTNeal Reply
I agree completely with this review. Aside from a few highlights, these shows were low-energy and sounded uninspired. Hopefully this is due simply to them being the first shows of the tour. My Friend My Friend, a personal favorite, sounded like Phish almost fell asleep while playing it. If discussing the best shows of 3.0, my recommendations would be Amherst, 10/23/2010, Utica, 10/20/2010, and Alpine Valley, 8/14/2010. I'm not worried; they will find their energy. I'm looking forward to the rest of the tour!
Score: 1
ScottyB Phish.net Staff Reply
ScottyB Disagree on the non-eventfulness of Weekapaug. While it was short, the "event" was Page laying a musical pick for Trey. Anastasio started his solo, lost steam and gave up. The guitarist played the chords for the chorus and Page went to town with some biting work on the keys. After a short period, Page got into some rhythmic work of his own and Trey continued his solo from where he left off moments earlier. Had Anastasio spent a few minutes tearing it up, this would have been even more interesting, but in the 30 seconds or so that made up "Part Two" of the Weekapaug solo, Trey did deliver some potent licks that reminded me of the good old days.

But I digress, nice work Eric!
Score: 3
BeardOfSteel Reply
BeardOfSteel To each his own, it depends on what you see as flat and non-eventful. I danced my ass off on Sunday but Saturday I left feeling like the show was unfinished. Both were decent shows but I had a lot more fun on Sunday, liked the set list better and left feeling inspired. To get more detailed, Fluffhead and Slave were tight and near perfect. The jams on a lot of the songs both nights seemed curtailed as far as time but they were relatively deep. 2001 could have been a little crazier and Joy was out of place, but it was a great time. Also, you shouldn't generalize people's opinions on Joy the album. I also have two ears ... and a heart...
Score: 1
LawnBoy0925 Reply
LawnBoy0925 very accurate review, well written.
Score: 1
sethadam1 Phish.net Staff Reply
sethadam1 50% of shows, by definition, have to be below average. There are highlights to *every* Phish show. It may well be that night 1 was the best tour opener in the last decade. It may be that night 2 featured some exploratory jamming that has been missing from Phish performances of late. But that doesn't automatically catapult these shows to the top of Phish-tory. These were great shows to be sure, but all Phish shows are great in some respects.

Eric's job was to be realistic, not just lather on the praise. I don't agree with everything he said, but I do agree that it's foolish to pretend that something like night 3 was worth of "best ever" anything. This is why it's a personal review.
Score: 4
otter Reply
After listening to all three shows, I kinda agree. I do think thst one should be at the show to write an accurate description. We all know energy plays its part...
Score: 3
justinwendt Reply
justinwendt The notion that you can't review a show you didn't attend is blasphemy....

Nice read Eric, thanks for posting.
Score: 3
grevart Reply
I think that it's absurd that some people think that Phish has to play their songs different/ long / improved every time. That's crazy. If they want to play a 5 min. Weekapaug, then they have the right to do so. Very selfish to call a song "uninspired" just b/c it was a shorter version.
Score: 2
PhanOfLife Reply
i agree with this post but if you didnt have fun on sunday then you missed out.
Score: 0
patper Reply
patper @DBNick said:
Wait, you wrote the review for three shows you weren't even at? Please tell me I'm missing something...
I think I'm missing it as well.
Score: 2
SolarGarlic419 Reply
SolarGarlic419 I think as time passes people change, and with that change other people around that person are influenced. That being said, I think The Boys have more concern about the structure and setlist making them cautious on moving on to that unexplored sound and those extended jams.
Score: 0
joechip Reply
joechip I was at all three of 1/1/11, 10/26/10 and Bethel Night two and I definitely was most impressed with the most recent show. There were so many different sections of true open jamming on Saturday, I can't recall listening to a show from the last couple years that had nearly as many.

My number one hope for this summer was that the band would start to step out of structure on a more regular basis, (once or twice a night, if that, was the norm for fall tour and the holiday run, even 1/1). Saturday fulfilled that hope in spades and has me incredibly fired up for the summer. There was just a lot more dark, psychedelic, abstract jamming on Friday and Saturday than we'd been seeing.

Unfortunately, I do agree that Sunday was an uneventful show from a jamming perspective, and flowed quite poorly. Here's to hoping that the risk taking of the first two nights represent the new norm for Phish this year.
Score: 2
ericwyman Phish.net Staff Reply
ericwyman Writing a review of a show you've never listened to is preposterous. Ivebeen to enough shows to understand the energy. If anything, that doesn't sway my opinion to make more out of something than it is.

True energy comes through on tape just as well. Listen to Fluffhead from Hampton, the Double Reprise from Hartford, Terrapin from 8/8/98. That's energy.
Score: 0
ericwyman Phish.net Staff Reply
ericwyman @ScottyB said:
Disagree on the non-eventfulness of Weekapaug. While it was short, the "event" was Page laying a musical pick for Trey. Anastasio started his solo, lost steam and gave up. The guitarist played the chords for the chorus and Page went to town with some biting work on the keys. After a short period, Page got into some rhythmic work of his own and Trey continued his solo from where he left off moments earlier.
Musical pick! Now I get the term! Love it.
Score: 0
ericwyman Phish.net Staff Reply
ericwyman Also I neglected to mention how impressed I was with Fishman all three nights. Where Mike really fueled a lot of jams last year, Fish was the unsung hero and you can hear it in these shows. Both he and Page took more active roles and sounded great! Also, Trey's use of effects were much more pointed and subdued.
Score: 0
harroldHOOD Reply
harroldHOOD The fact that you barely touched the Gin - and COMPLETELY neglected the Hood, Cavern, Bowie - completely killed this review for me. Being there I can honestly say, this was one of the more epic moments of the weekend.
Score: 1
Ernesto_Wan_Kenobi Reply
Ernesto_Wan_Kenobi @sethadam1 said:
50% of shows, by definition, have to be below average.
Only if you are using the Median as your measure of "average". ;) And even then this will not be true if you have an odd number of shows. But seriously I keep hearing this "rule" stated; and it's not true.

Let's say, for example, they play a 4.5, 4.5, 5.5, and then a perfect 10. Well you can find the "mean" of this by adding up the scores and dividing by 4. You get 6.125, and three-quarters of the shows fell below this mark!
Score: 1
otter Reply
Dude, don't be so defensive. I agreed with your assesment. I just think you should have included that you weren't there. It does make a difference. I'm going to bed now (somebody's got to get up and make the doughnuts) .Peace brother.
ps I can't wait. These next few shows are gonna be happy fun time!
Score: 0
sethadam1 Phish.net Staff Reply
sethadam1 @Ernesto_Wan_Kenobi said:
@sethadam1 said:
50% of shows, by definition, have to be below average.
Only if you are using the Median as your measure of "average". ;) And even then this will not be true if you have an odd number of shows. But seriously I keep hearing this "rule" stated; and it's not true.

Let's say, for example, they play a 4.5, 4.5, 5.5, and then a perfect 10. Well you can find the "mean" of this by adding up the scores and dividing by 4. You get 6.125, and three-quarters of the shows fell below this mark!
Well now we're gettin' our math on, huh? Of course that's true. In a given class, you wouldn't expect 50% of the students to score < 50% for the class. But certainly, there is a 50th percentile somewhere!

By your measure, ratings are totally subjective. You could assign all "10s" and have made no progress. If the idea is to compare the shows against one another, there are going to be 10/10 shows and 1/10 shows (or technically, 0/10).

Either way, the idea is that if there's a such thing as an average show, half the shows are better and half the shows are worse. Eric says *Sunday* was worse and ultimately non-notable. And, as expected, many people have short-term memory syndrome and always believe the last show was "epic", no matter what it was.
Score: 1
Kjf2843 Reply
mean and median are not the same thing. the term "average" can mean either. you need to be more specific. you are describing the median.
Score: 1
ericwyman Phish.net Staff Reply
ericwyman @haroldHOOD you want me to write more next time???

@otter I just disagree. If anything I usually note when I am in attendance as I think that skews my comments more.
Score: 0
sethadam1 Phish.net Staff Reply
sethadam1 @Kjf2843 said:
mean and median are not the same thing. the term "average" can mean either. you need to be more specific. you are describing the median.
You're nitpicking rather than focusing on the point, which is a lame argument tactic. We understand the difference between the arithmetical average and the middlest number. In this case, we're not scoring first, so there's no mean OR median. It's merely a "better or worse" than a typical show in Phish history. Then you score it comparatively to that.
Score: 0
realitycheck Reply
Who are you, and why do we care about your opinion...???

The shows were great and I've been seeing shows since 93 bud so the context of experiences is there..

Score: 0
Ernesto_Wan_Kenobi Reply
Ernesto_Wan_Kenobi @sethadam1 said:
In a given class, you wouldn't expect 50% of the students to score < 50% for the class. But certainly, there is a 50th percentile somewhere!
The reason half of the students don't score less than 50% is because 50% is (hopefully) not even close to the "average"! I was being silly before, but as always definitely getting my math on. Sorry if I opened a can of worms.

The problem with rating shows is that every single person has a different notion of where that 50th percentile lies. But then again I guess that things would be pretty boring otherwise.
Score: 0
spencer Reply
@ericwyman said:
Writing a review of a show you've never listened to is preposterous. Ivebeen to enough shows to understand the energy. If anything, that doesn't sway my opinion to make more out of something than it is. True energy comes through on tape just as well. Listen to Fluffhead from Hampton, the Double Reprise from Hartford, Terrapin from 8/8/98. That's energy.
of these shows you just mentioned how many were you at? I can hear the energy in the relisten of the Bethel shows because I can relive the experience. I am sorry but Phish is a live band and couch tour reviews really just do not need to be highlighted in my mind, b/c the whole IDEA of phish is the energy AT the show. Not the energy on the laptop. Honestly I dont think it matters how many shows you've been too, you can not recreate it. That is why we keep going back right?

That being said, to each his own and I certainly have been turned off to shows and music and bands that other people love. That is why they make fords and chevy's! we all have our preference, although maybe in this case subaru's and VW's is a better metaphor. I do like your writing though and please keep reviewing, I certainly do not want to create and disdain or animosity. We are, after all, all on the same team.
Score: 0
jmason124 Reply
jmason124 I really enjoyed this review. I thought you were right on the money about Friday (and Kill Devil Falls).
Score: 0
kidrob Reply
kidrob i like this review a lot. it's down to earth, and i agree with a lot of the thoughts that were both positive and critical of the band. After hearing each show, night one took takes the cake on this run in my opinion. Night two is good with highlights, i especially enjoy the cities, dwd and bdtnl. However, Manteca was more or less a gimmick, and bathtub did not provide as much energy for phish to leave stage than the very well played bold as love set one close from the previous night. Night 3 leaves more hope for the three night runs coming later this summer.
Score: 0
J_D_G Phish.net Staff Reply
J_D_G Great review, Eric! Except, I don't understand the utter dismissal of Sunday which I've heard elsewhere as well. I maintain that it is a classically average 3.0 Phish show--a why-bother-to-be-disappointed-at-this-point first set with almost nothing interesting, a teeny bit of jamming (couple minutes of Type II in "Simple" ;) and a very pretty second set setlist, plus a bustout (Curtis Loew). That nights one and two included tastes of the unexpected, of improvisation, of Phish being there in the moment and creating art as it happened, is fantastic, but I think it's spoiled you a bit. This is 3.0; breaking the mold is the exception, and it's vital to enjoy shows like Sunday or else be consistently disappointed.
Score: 3
jdub77 Reply
This review seems a bit flat and uninspired. A lot was written about the three nights but not one word of the most important development of all. The Jedi took control from cities on and never took his foot off the brake. Friday and Saturday featured the most consistant playing by Trey I have heard in this era. The band has their leader back in charge. And Saturday tops 1/1/11. I was at both, 1/1 was a big step up but still missed that wide open exploration that has been missing. 5/28 had it in spades (relative to 3.0 of course) with great flow and intense energy. Some seriously psychedelic music at the most beautiful venue in the northeast. And on the hallowed grounds of Woodstock nonetheless. A huge step for the band. Your review wasn't that bad, it just seems you missed some of the more important aspects of the weekend.
Score: 0
benevolution Reply
benevolution @spencer said:
how can you just dismiss the mikes> simple> weekapaug?
the band were the ones who just dismissed it...
Score: 1
benevolution Reply
benevolution @J_D_G said:
plus a bustout (Curtis Loew).
that song was a bustout at Fenway. Then they played it 3 times last summer. At this point, not quite.
Score: 2
Slothsucci Reply
I basically agree with the review
Score: 0
ADAWGWYO Reply
ADAWGWYO Agree with the review. No need to be present to be at a show and have an educated opinion if you ask me. Does the show hold up on tape?- I think is the expression. It is definately more objective reviewing a show having only heard the tapes. I know for example I was ecstatic when I left 10/30/10, but as I listen to the tapes it's just not there.

I didn't like the Tweezer MFMF transition. I really liked the KDF and thought the BDTNL was excellent. Also, if you can't hear 3rd night Bethel as being sub-par- good for you. Must be nice. This "rip-cord" Trey shit is bad. Not only is he ending songs when it is obvious the other 3 are ready to rock. He is often doing it in an awkward fashion. i love Phish. Tough love Phish

::ducks and runs::

Score: 2
ericwyman Phish.net Staff Reply
ericwyman Aas Icculus alluded to earlier, it's not that I disliked Sunday's performance it just was flat. I think it was just easier to dismiss for purposes of this review than to put in the effort on writing it up and extending the piece.

Trey actually did a fantastic job at Bethel of being both a leader and a participant. C+P was the only time I felt he bailed, but it's a pretty callous criticism that jam was great.
Score: 1
HarryHerring Reply
HarryHerring Even a flat phish is better than most bands goin full tilt. They cant be creative & inspired every night, they wouldnt be human if they could. sometimes they just have to be average. if every show was a world beater they probably woulda run outta gas a long time ago.
Score: 1
Frankster Reply
Frankster I thought these shows sounded great, especially listening to an AUD recording. The playing was solid, bordering on great at times. What no one has mentioned is the tone of Trey's axe. Light years better than that wimpy sound from 09 and 10. The sound is deeper, rich, muscular? It has that late 98 and 99 sound which makes a huge difference to these ears. This band is moving in a direction I think were all going to love this summer.
Score: 0
wattznext Reply
wattznext @TNTNeal said:
I agree completely with this review. Aside from a few highlights, these shows were low-energy and sounded uninspired. Hopefully this is due simply to them being the first shows of the tour. My Friend My Friend, a personal favorite, sounded like Phish almost fell asleep while playing it. If discussing the best shows of 3.0, my recommendations would be Amherst, 10/23/2010, Utica, 10/20/2010, and Alpine Valley, 8/14/2010. I'm not worried; they will find their energy. I'm looking forward to the rest of the tour!
I disagree intensely, completely with every single thing you said. I'm sure you're a good guy, but you couldn't be more wrong. You could try; but you would not be successful.
Score: 1
UncleRunkle Reply
UncleRunkle Oh man no way, he didn't fluff the hell out of all three nights??? People need to toughen up a little bit. If Phish is your obsession (as it is for many of us) then it's totally within rights to say when something isn't top notch. I wasn't there for any of them, but I've listened to them all, and Sunday WAS the slouch of the weekend. It isn't a sin to say so. Even if I don't agree with everything a reviewer says (as here- I think you're spot on in some places but obviously we all have different opinions) I respect the application of critical ears. If we don't care about some shows being amazing, others being average, and others being below, then why would the guys in Phish care?

P.S. Fwiw, sometimes I think on a strict musical level you can do a BETTER review of the show when you aren't there. If all you got to see live was night three and you dropped money on tix, gas, beer, food, and lodging, you're going to probably rate it higher mentally. Cognitive dissonance people...
Score: 2
charliedigital Reply
@UncleRunkle said:

P.S. Fwiw, sometimes I think on a strict musical level you can do a BETTER review of the show when you aren't there. If all you got to see live was night three and you dropped money on tix, gas, beer, food, and lodging, you're going to probably rate it higher mentally. Cognitive dissonance people...
I agree with this because my first show was Tinley Park 97', one of the most hated shows in Phishtory, and I loved it.
Score: 0
mgouker Reply
mgouker Tinley Park 97 was a truly unique show because of the encore. I also think the Gumbo was pretty good. You were right to love it.

Here is Mr Miner's Sunday review.

http://phishthoughts.com/2011/05/30/safe-on-sunday/

My take on Sunday is that aside from the Simple jam, there wasn't much improvisation. It sounds _rushed_ like they wanted to play a bunch of songs, but didn't have enough time. I think this is the reason for the uneven Meatstick > /> Fluffhead. For my part, though, I really enjoyed the 2001 and Slave. Best ever - no, but that's not really the point. Maybe people just had their expectations too high after Saturday.

Peace from Florida,

Michael
Score: 1
DBNick Reply
Sunday night was very very fun. Listening back, and especially compared to the previous two nights, it was some what tame. BUT that Slave is GORGEOUS I tell you!

There are a lot of great things in this review, but I don't think people should skip listening to Sunday because of what was written about it here. At LEAST give the Simple and Slave a listen.
Score: 0
JoshaUffizi Reply
JoshaUffizi I agree the third night felt a little lackluster, especially when compared to the 2nd night, which was my favorite. And I like the "Ripcord Trey" nickname...

I want to comment in on the improvisational style we're seeing, because I think (and my drummer agrees) that it's a little different from 09 and 10. Some have actually started calling it Phish 4.0. (Seriously, in the parking lot after 2nd night, that was going around). I wouldn't go that far, but I was calling it 3.2 before that. Either way, it seems to be an upgrade has taken place since I last saw the boys.

One thing I noticed is Trey seems to be getting bolder stepping out of key during jams (see the BDTNL jam for example) which is something they used to do more in the early-mid 90's, but never did quite as cleanly as this. The difference now is, they are staying locked into eachother, and getting back into key simultaneously, at the exact right moment, and making it all resolve properly. They are getting more consistent with this (extremely difficult) improvisational trick, and they are having a lot of fun with these jams.

I would like to have seen MORE daring improvisational exploration, but compared to what I saw in 09 an 10, what I saw saturday night was a major step in the right direction. I hope the trend continues as the tour progresses.

Technically, It appears that they are stepping up the tightness as well (listen to that Bowie!) while trying to maintain the freedom and keep things fresh. (Perfect execution alone is, well, boring). In their maturity, they are finally mastering some of the improv stuff they were TRYING to do (but not executing properly) back in the 90's. Well, the execution was DEFINITELY there at Bethel. They are older, so the energy and creativity is going to be a little harder to come by. But when it all comes together, look out! And I think it did a couple of times this weekend.

My biggest musical complaint is Trey couldn't seem to get his voice box warmed up. He was wavering and struggling to hold notes on Free, in particular. And I agree that some of those tunes felt like they were just going through the motions. That is a high crime as far as I'm concerned. I barely even remember that MFMF, I think they played it correctly, but... did they really play it?

As a musician, I think when you're younger, bolder, and more reckless, and you take more musical risks, the payoff can be immense when it works, but you're also more likely to just create awful noise. When you get older you start appreciating subtlety and 'the space between the notes' a little more. Their sound becomes more consistently good, accessible, and musically clean. But they also sacrifice some of the wild creativity that made them my favorite band in the 90s.

The good news from Bethel, for me anyways, is that I see this trend actually starting to reverse itself, and they seem to be reaching back for a little bit of that wildness and trying to fuse it in with their newer, more mature and subtle musical sensibilities. This manifests especially during jams on the newer material, which is why even though I don't think BDTNL is a particularly brilliant song, I'll always be happy to hear it at a show because I know the jam is likely to be sick nasty. That's what they want to play, and that's their direction right now. We're probably not going to get another 1200 BPM turbo-Llama like the one from Denison U '92, but the Phish of '92 could/would not have played that ridiculous BDTNL jam either. (Who knows, maybe).

Bottom line, I like where this is going and I want more. Go Phish Go! Don't be scared to fuck up a jam, play what's in your hearts and damn the consequences!

Just my stupid opinions.

And one more thing: Fish is on fire. Can't wait for Blossom and the rest of the tour (hitting 10 shows this summer OH YEAH)

Score: 3
mgouker Reply
mgouker <q> Just my stupid opinions </q>

Not at all. Great post! Thanks!
Score: 0
DBNick Reply
@feralchild: AWESOME thoughts right there! I think I agree with 100% of what you said
Score: 0
GnarnianRanger Reply
GnarnianRanger I don't get the gushing over Kill Devil Falls. Been trying real hard to get into that tune but I'm having a hard time. And I'm not a Joy hater either, I like almost all of those songs (with TTE as the one glaring exception).

For me the highlights of Friday's first set included the scalding Wolfman's> Walk Away and a surprising Bold as Love closer. Personally, I thought it was pretty awesome listening to a Jimi tune on the Woodstock lawn. I'm a sucker for nostalgia. And yes, I realize that Axis was not part of Jimi's Woodstock setlist which is part of why it caught me off guard. I would have put money on a Fire encore one of the three nights instead.

As for the Sunday night show, it seems to be getting some unduly brutal reviews. I thought the second half of each set was super groovy and contained some interesting and well executed song selections: [Timber > Oh Kee Pa > Suzy > 46 Days > 20Y Later, Curtis Loew, Antelope] and [Meatstick > Fluffhead > Joy, 2001 > Light > Slave]. Each of those sections sounded way tighter and more unique than anything in the first set of the 5/31 show at PNC, which seems to have received far more positive feedback.

All in all I had an awesome weekend. I thought the boys sounded great, the crowd was kind, courteous and energetic, and the venue was absolutely fantastic. I hope it becomes a regular stop on Summer tour, especially if it means skipping Jonser Beach and the miserable fire hazard that is SPAC. Bethel Woods is probably my new favorite amphitheater in the northeast.
Score: 1
JoshaUffizi Reply
JoshaUffizi Thanks guys. I want to clarify a little bit of what I wrote, about the jamming style, because rereading it, I almost disagree with myself (I am my own worst critic).

I did not mean to imply that Phish has not ALWAYS done this type of stuff, or at least tried. The foray into cacophony and back is a major pillar of the Phish sound. I guess what I meant to say is it's been somewhat lacking in 3.0... and now, not only is it now starting to creep its way back in, but it's being executed perhaps more carefully than back in the day. The musicianship is just so on point!

I loved the venue as well, I can't wait for another excuse to go back there, hopefully for another 3 night run in 2012!

See you all tomorrow @ Blossom
Score: 0
DistressTube Reply
DistressTube Hahaha some of the comments in this thread are hysterical. Yall are so focused on critiquing other people's reviews of the show rather than the show itself. (I guess I'm guilty as well...my point being just don't be negative about it).

If you liked the show or if you didn't like the show, that's your opinion. Every person is at a different point in their Phanship and therefore may interpret a show different than another. It's silly and pointless to discuss who is right and wrong because there is no right or wrong. There is only the music and how you personally connect to it.

It is absurd to argue why one show is better than another because there is no uniform scale to compare them to. There is only your own personal scale. If you think these shows didn't measure up to other shows or if you thought they melted your face off then...guess what...you're both right.

Here is my take on the show: There's some good points, some bad points, but it all works out... ;)

P.S. Dear Phish, thanks for coming back for another tour. (Can't be said enough.)
Score: 0

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