It looks like there's a Phish show in progress! You can discuss it here x

Phish.net: a Project of the Mockingbird Foundation


Watkins Glen 2 Recap: New Speedway Boogie

Posted 3 years ago by pzerbo - 34 comments Link: http://phi.sh/b/4e0f924e

WATKINS GLEN, NY – Before we get to the action, a moment of congratulations to the winners of the 420th running of the second Runaway Jim 5K: 1. Ethan McBrien 15:23 / 1. Katie Harrington 17:19 / 2. David Cook 15.35 / 3. Finn McCool 15:55. Queue “Chariots of Fire"! Congrats to everyone who ran and came out to support the runners!

First set kicked off with “Tube” at 3:30 amid hot but otherwise perfect weather with hundreds of beach balls rocking the field. Short but sweet as has been the recent trend, but no less punchy. A standard reading of “Kill Devil Falls” keeps the energy meter pegged before settling in the new first-set workhorse, “Ocelot.” The 32nd performance of this tune with every one to date occurring in the first set, was any song more of a lock for the afternoon frame? Nothing earth-shattering but a perfectly groovy, languid version.

After a brief pause Trey needed to perform a little housekeeping to clear beach balls from the stage: “We’ll have to find a way to clear a little space here on the stage, so maybe this will work” before dropping in to “Lawn Boy.” Then another lock-pick-of-the-week call for an afternoon set, “The Divided Sky” is up next. Wherever you are in your feelings about the overall musical state of Phish, if you aren’t loving how this song has been delivered of late, perhaps it is time to adjust your frequencies. Flawless and fluid and of late crushing virtually every version, “Divided Sky” perfectly exemplifies the confident, mature, polished Phish of 2011. This version did experience a dose of humanity from Trey (minor flubs but more than compensated by particularly soaring solos), but great stuff.

Boogie On Reggae Woman” is on deck to introduce some funk into the proceedings, and after a straight-ahead offering the band doubled-down on the funk with an easy-paced “Camel Walk,” pleasing phish.net’s tech guru @sethadam1 to no end. “Cities” maintains almost the exact same relaxed tempo from “Camel Walk.” Not Great Went slow, but deep in the pocket and a sizable departure from more up-beat recent versions. The tempo dial cranks back up with a spirited and concise “Poor Heart” powering into “46 Days.” The “box” is in no danger of being breached on this one but Trey provides requisite shredding; entertaining but forgettable.

Then the first surprise of the afternoon, the Phish debut of “Suskind Hotel!” A fixture in G.R.A.B. sets in 2006 as as well as a regular with Mike Gordon’s touring outfit, this high-strung rocker is a welcome addition to the Phish repertoire! Another easy call that sets up a thousand pictures with the Ferris Wheel in the background, “When the Circus Comes” is next and provides perfect breathing space for band and crowd alike. By this time the heat was really taking its toll with many fans seen hitting the exits for the comforts of camp. “Timber” follows and wastes no time settling in to a sweet jam that had real potential, but this mule is going back in its box in favor of a brisk transition into “Back on the Train” that glides along gently without incident.

A rote “Suzy Greenberg” had everyone thinking “set closer, let’s hit dinner” but the best was kept for last, the Phish debut of The Stones’ “Monkey Man!” Whoops, sorry, those hitting the exits! What an awesome treat to send off the crowd for the long break! Watkins Glen, kick down central. So what do we have in this set? 16 songs in ~100 minutes of music = not a lot of space for jamming. No worries, we are running a marathon not a sprint and lots of music lie ahead. Two notable Phish debuts punctuated an otherwise perfectly fine but virtually highlight-free set. Let’s all cool our jets, grab some dinner, kick back to The Bunny and meet up in a couple hours.

OK we’re back, hope you enjoyed the break. 8pm sharp brings “Runaway Jim” with the winners of the Runaway Jim 5K! “Blazing Times!” Then all the winners are introduced and accept their well-deserved trophies. Kicking congratulations jam, taboot! Then the first “McGrupp and the Watchful Hosemasters” since the brilliant 10/20/10 Utica gig. This “dog theme” set two opening exacta of “Jim” and “McGrupp” paid $37.40, please check your tickets. Rough patches from Trey in parts but a beloved song always welcomed, one that often portends greater things to come. A quick “Axilla” and the set is off to the races.

Birds of a Feather” offers the first chance to jump of the ledge of the set. Jump? In some ways, sure, but bordering on third cocktail sloppy (both sloppy ‘meh’ and sloppy ‘sick’). Interesting, unexpected and rocking fun all the same. I kinda like it, but your opinion is the only one that counts. Simpson’s Signal! The first deployment of “Secret Language” since Phish’s return to the stage in 2009. Then “Stash.” Wow! What a unique exploration! Not too deep out of the theme but totally engaging, verging at times both danceable and dark, hard states to simultaneously hold. Excellent building tension and.... release! This song works – right spot in the set, killer jam, we’re building a sturdy set ship here, mates.

Sample in a Jar” gives us all an appropriate “breathe” moment (or “rage dance moment!” – your call entirely). I’m calling “Heavy Things” a great call in this set, provided it (with “Sample”) is the “breather sequence” of the set, and please know I love “Heavy Things.” A wonderful “Horn” follows; thoughts about setlist flow can be forgiven, it was really a sweet version. “It’s Ice” is next and while a great tune, this set is starting to feel like “another first set” as opposed to “the first of two second sets.” “Mango Song” keeps the happy, easy feel vibe of this set alive. Another rough version, so frankly the set has both conceptual and execution problems building; the potential of this set is slowly but surely slipping away.

Rift” solidifies this second set as... a second first set. I love these songs will all my heart but in the meat of the middle set on Saturday night at your signature event of the year? Good, and FUN, for sure. Then a mini bust-out, the first “Scents and Subtle Sounds” since 12/4/09 MSG (74 shows) (and the first with the Intro section since 8/2/03 IT (146 shows)) gives this second first set a needed shot-in-the-arm. Not enough to recover from the lost opportunity of prime time, but welcome nonetheless. Soaring even, great placement and respectable execution. “Run Like an Antelope” sends day two, set 1(b) through the finish line.

So let’s be clear: perfectly good set of Phish music. Stranded alone on a desert island listening to this set? No problem. Great if not all-timer “Stash,” awesome and underplayed “Scents and Subtle Sounds” and lots of great tunes in between... but no meaty sauce. First set of a random mid-week shed show? Great times. And great times now, still. As one of the key $ sets of their signature event? Well, you decide, as always. Clock has a lot of time on... let’s chill and regroup, shall we? See you in fifteen minutes.

Double-$ redemption set three? Let’s get it on. Song #30 of the night? What a great call: TV On the Radio’sGolden Age.” “Clap your hands if you think your soul is free!” This song is easily the shining star of recently introduced cover songs. The Age of Sound, indeed, and clearly self-referential as to where the band confidently claims their rightful seat at the table of the best improvisational rock and roll bands of all time. Then the Plinko jam... but through a darker, unique path. Awesome, King Crimson-esque jam, the definitive jamming highlight of the (soundcheck excluded) festival to the moment. As great as that was... Trey endjamulation. Oh, so sorry.

Prince Caspian” is next, and while disappointing some still contains a genuinely sweet outro jam, perfect in the moment and giving way to a sped up “Piper” – escaping the dreaded “box” and providing some (desperately needed) Type-II. This sweet “Piper” jam flowed into “Tweezer.” Funk ON! From redemption to punctuation, this Mike and Fish driven jam is totally legit and stomps all over the damn “box.” Bravo for The Phish: right jam, right time. “Julius” is a stomper to be sure, but right back in the dreaded box.

Backwards Down the Number Line” keeps with the set’s script: bright, compact, honest, and powerful. “Twist”... whoo! And it turns out an awesome call, creeping in on the set-highlight reel. “WHAT?!” “WHOO?!” “WHAT?!” “WHOO?!” “WHAT?!” Set redemption? You decide. Kicker into “2001” FTW, a.k.a. funk the win?” Fun, perfunctory, classic, but more jukebox. Then a sublime, classic reading of “Harry Hood” leads the homestretch. Happy 4th! Phish = THE American Band™ Feel good about loving The Phish.

Cavern” kicks serious set-closing tempo, then “Golgi” – classic? Or weak sauce in the SBIX prime slot? Great times all around, you make the call. Then “A Day In the Life” to seal the deal on a set full of promise ultimately unfulfilled. The “Loving Cup” encore continues the parade of covers at SBIX and the satisfying, if predictable, resolution into “Tweezer Reprise” – still the best two-and-a-half minutes in rock and roll – ends the night on a high note.

This set had its jamming highlights from “Golden Age” and “Tweezer,” and “Piper” had potential, but the set as a whole? “Typically great” but ultimately leaving many fans hoping for something more. This gig wasn’t unsatisfying, but for the money show? Let’s just say that two thirds through a festival that officially runs Friday through Sunday, you don’t want your musical highlights to have taken place on... Thursday. Sunday redemption FTW? Let’s hope!

[NOTE: this reviewer was long asleep by the time the “USA Storage Jam” late-night set took place and as such I’ll leave it for others to describe that madness... please see David Steinberg's blog post on the "cold storage" jam]

Comments

deBebbler Reply
deBebbler LOVE MONKEY MAN!!!!

Although, it would have had more meaning if they had started playing it around 2002 or so....
Score: 0
dabpigpen Reply
Wow, killing me that I'm not there. The shows sound tight, well played though a little more jammin would be nice. Thank u sirius for broadcasting the shows live!! And expect the best tomorrow. Have fun alex!!
Score: 0
FOCOLONG Reply
What, no encore? That's a bit odd, isn't it?
Score: 0
lumpblockclod Phish.net Staff Reply
lumpblockclod [Posting after Set II]

I don't see how the second set can be viewed as anything other than a let down. The Phish only gets so many chances to play back to back full-length "second" sets (even NYE, usually features relatively short sets). The festivals are pretty much where those happen, and they turned Set II into a "second first set" instead of a "first second set," and not a particularly inspired one at that. That said, redemption is always just around the corner with this band...
Score: 0
FOCOLONG Reply
@FOCOLONG said:
What, no encore? That's a bit odd, isn't it?
OK, never mind, set 3 just started. Maybe they'll really break it loose now...
Score: 0
nichobert Reply
nichobert Thank you for this Golden Age

This is what Plinko sounds like under the crushing gravities of Jupiter.
Score: 0
FOCOLONG Reply
And they ARE cuttin it loose! Piper> Tweezer has become a dirty, nasty funkfest - Trey is heading into slow, hard, search and destroy mode right about now...
Score: 0
MomaDan Reply
MomaDan Did anyone else hear a quick It's Ice tease either during Piper or Tweezer, cant remember which one right now
Score: 0
sharininthegroove09 Reply
sharininthegroove09 Don't really know what happened at that 4th set. Will listen and try to understand further. As for now, LivePhish only includes it as a filler, with only about a minute or two or it......(?!?!?)

Score: 0
BonusCup99 Reply
@sharininthegroove09 said:
Don't really know what happened at that 4th set. Will listen and try to understand further. As for now, LivePhish only includes it as a filler, with only about a minute or two or it......(?!?!?)
the whole thing is actually there when you d/l it all 62 min of it!
Score: 0
BrotherEarth Reply
BrotherEarth Scents and Subtle Sounds was wonderful, I don't care if it was the best version ever, and don't want to know which date was better. In this moment, it fit, and was completely enjoyable.

I'm smiling today. That's all that matters.
Score: 3
doodls Reply
doodls I thought I kept hearing Pebbles teases throughout II and III
Score: 1
jamadon1 Reply
jamadon1 I had a sign requesting Suiskind hotel in Bethel. I didn't think the band saw it so I left it at the light board for Chris to find at the end of the show. Did it really make it this far?
Either way it brought me huge smiles while being happily stuck at home waiting for my wife to give birth. Thanks for bringing us the Bunny!
Score: 0
waxbanks Reply
waxbanks ok pz, we can stop going on about the 'box' now. we get it: lots of jamming within song forms. *almost as if there was a reason they chose those forms.*

you'd think 'type ii' was the only thing that mattered around this !$!@# place...
Score: 2
pzerbo Phish.net Staff Reply
pzerbo @waxbanks said:
ok pz, we can stop going on about the 'box' now. we get it: lots of jamming within song forms. *almost as if there was a reason they chose those forms.*

you'd think 'type ii' was the only thing that mattered around this !$!@# place...
a) no, I won't stop anything on your behalf, as the sharing of opinions is kinda what we do around here, and everyone remains free to exercise that freedom at any time and b) if you don't like "this !$!@# place" there is a door marked "exit" available via a single click.

HTH. HAND.
Score: 1
Fluffhead Reply
Fluffhead Man I thought the third set had some of the greatest jams I've heard from Phish in years. So dark and abstract. They're sounding soooo good!
Score: 1
waxbanks Reply
waxbanks @pzerbo said:
@waxbanks said:
ok pz, we can stop going on about the 'box' now. we get it: lots of jamming within song forms. *almost as if there was a reason they chose those forms.*

you'd think 'type ii' was the only thing that mattered around this !$!@# place...
a) no, I won't stop anything on your behalf, as the sharing of opinions is kinda what we do around here, and everyone remains free to exercise that freedom at any time and b) if you don't like "this !$!@# place" there is a door marked "exit" available via a single click.
perhaps if i'd included a smiley in my comment, its tone would've been clearer?

my point is that it doesn't say much of anything to point out that a jam stays 'inside the box.' That Is My Whole Point.
Score: 0
lumpblockclod Phish.net Staff Reply
lumpblockclod @waxbanks said:
we get it: lots of jamming within song forms. *almost as if there was a reason they chose those forms.*
Ok, I'll bite, what do you suppose was the reason they chose to play so timidly (and often sloppily) at SUPER BALL IX? Is there much worth saying about the "in the box" songs beyond noting that they were played? There can be some notably different (and pleasing) treatments within the context of a type-I jam, but I didn't hear a lot of that last night. The funk breakdowns in Tweezer were a notable exception. Scents was beautiful. McGrupp featured some really pretty playing by Page (offset by some sour notes from Trey).

But back to the point. The band has spoken at length about how special they think the festivals are and how unique an experience it is for their most devoted fans to travel to these (relatively) remote spots to immerse themselves in the music of one band for multiple days. What was special about last night? What has been (musically) special about SBIX so far? The Storage Jam to be sure. The Soundcheck, yes. But what else? And what's the reason?
Score: 0
joechip Reply
joechip @pzerbo said:
@waxbanks said:
ok pz, we can stop going on about the 'box' now. we get it: lots of jamming within song forms. *almost as if there was a reason they chose those forms.*

you'd think 'type ii' was the only thing that mattered around this !$!@# place...
a) no, I won't stop anything on your behalf, as the sharing of opinions is kinda what we do around here, and everyone remains free to exercise that freedom at any time and b) if you don't like "this !$!@# place" there is a door marked "exit" available via a single click.

HTH. HAND.

Right on pz.
Score: 0
joechip Reply
joechip If "waxbanks" thinks last night's main sets were so great, why wouldn't he enlighten us on their merits?

I think pointing out that a jam does not leave the structure of the tune actually is descriptive and helpful in a review of the show.
Score: 0
pzerbo Phish.net Staff Reply
pzerbo @waxbanks said:
my point is that it doesn't say much of anything to point out that a jam stays 'inside the box.' That Is My Whole Point.
Point noted, though I'll stick to a style that works for me and reflects what is going on in my head, thanks. If I'm beating anything over the head it is that I have my thoughts, and everyone else has theirs, and far from requiring that we all think the same thing, folks should make up their own minds as they see fit.
Score: 0
waxbanks Reply
waxbanks @pzerbo said:
@waxbanks said:
my point is that it doesn't say much of anything to point out that a jam stays 'inside the box.' That Is My Whole Point.
Point noted, though I'll stick to a style that works for me and reflects what is going on in my head, thanks. If I'm beating anything over the head it is that I have my thoughts, and everyone else has theirs, and far from requiring that we all think the same thing, folks should make up their own minds as they see fit.
as long as you're talking about your thoughts ('what's going on in [your] head') and i'm talking about your writing (where i wanna find 'what's going on onstage'), we're gonna stay antiparallel. that's the way the cookie crumbles i guess.

i'm grateful for your enthusiasm but i think i'm just crashing into a diminishing returns problem w/r/t insta-reactions from phish fans. not your problem i guess! carry on.
Score: 0
waxbanks Reply
waxbanks @joechip said:
If "waxbanks" thinks last night's main sets were so great, why wouldn't he enlighten us on their merits?

I think pointing out that a jam does not leave the structure of the tune actually is descriptive and helpful in a review of the show.
ok, tired as i am, i'll bite: how is it helpful? are you less likely to listen to the show, or parts of the show, based on the percentage of 'type i' and 'type ii' jams? aren't you going to spin the entire show once, regardless? are you interested in the music (separate from enjoying it, i guess) at a level below 'typical/atypical'?

this isn't about pzerbo, either; same goes for every other writer around here, including me. what's helpful about knowing in advance whether a given tune is 'in the box' or 'out of the box'?
Score: 1
lumpblockclod Phish.net Staff Reply
lumpblockclod @waxbanks said:
this isn't about pzerbo, either; same goes for every other writer around here, including me. what's helpful about knowing in advance whether a given tune is 'in the box' or 'out of the box'?
You may be right that in the day and age of the Spreadsheet, etree and livephish, this (and all reviews for that matter) are less helpful. The music is but a click away... listen and decide for yourself.

But there are still a bunch of fans out there who don't have the time or inclination to listen to every note Phish plays and, were I one of those fans, I would find this review plenty helpful. Unless you really like this combination of songs, not much worth seeking out from yesterday other than Monkey Man, Scents and parts of the third set (and of course the Storage Jam).
Score: 0
joechip Reply
joechip @waxbanks said:
@joechip said:
If "waxbanks" thinks last night's main sets were so great, why wouldn't he enlighten us on their merits?

I think pointing out that a jam does not leave the structure of the tune actually is descriptive and helpful in a review of the show.
ok, tired as i am, i'll bite: how is it helpful? are you less likely to listen to the show, or parts of the show, based on the percentage of 'type i' and 'type ii' jams? aren't you going to spin the entire show once, regardless? are you interested in the music (separate from enjoying it, i guess) at a level below 'typical/atypical'?

this isn't about pzerbo, either; same goes for every other writer around here, including me. what's helpful about knowing in advance whether a given tune is 'in the box' or 'out of the box'?

Well, I did happen to listen to this show on the radio , but when I read a review of a show I'm yet to hear, for me it is a relevant point to note where the tunes left their structure and where they did not. Those are the parts of the show where I'm most likely to hear unique music. If I have a limited time to listen, I will listen to the parts which have the potential for uniqueness. Or I will burn a single CD to listen to in my car which includes the parts of the show which, according to an experienced listener like @pzerbo, contained unusual or exceptional playing.

These seem like very obvious points, but that's what I'm looking to get out of reading a review. When I'm at the show I enjoy it all, but on playback I only tend to listen to highlights. What constitutes a highlight might be the rarity of a tune, a new cover, a "Standard" version which contains exceptional playing, or a unique jam. A useful review will point out all of these things, which IMO @pzerbo has done here and elsewhere very well.
Score: 1
BrotherEarth Reply
BrotherEarth pzerbo stumbles a bit from the soaring heights of his SBIX Night 1 review, but there are still some interesting highlights.

One more night! Will we get the penultimate review? Stay tuned.

Rating: 4.2 (respectable, but no free form Ginsberg/Kerouac moments)

:p
Score: 1
pzerbo Phish.net Staff Reply
pzerbo My advice? If you think a writer sucks and doesn't hold any value to you, each author is identified at the beginning of each post, and you are not required to read it. Believe me, I exercise this freedom liberally. @waxbanks, if you think I'm doing anything other that commenting on what is happening onstage, you have comprehension difficulties, my friend.

Psyched for tonight...
Score: 0
nichobert Reply
nichobert Endjamulation? For that Golden Age, Caspian? Interesting. Seemed like they stopped it at a good point (Although granted, Mike & Fishman seemed like they wanted to push it into a faster plinko on reggae woman jam right before it stopped) and then Caspian started. Barely even a > , imo. Caspian seemed weird for about 2 seconds and then felt like a good fit. I like the little spaceout segue into Piper instead of finishing Caspian too.
Score: 0
jwelsh8 Phish.net Staff Reply
jwelsh8 @nichobert said:
Endjamulation? For that Golden Age, Caspian? Interesting. Seemed like they stopped it at a good point (Although granted, Mike & Fishman seemed like they wanted to push it into a faster plinko on reggae woman jam right before it stopped)
I haven't listened again, but it sure sounded like the absolute wrong spot to stop, lol. I remember Fishman just stopping what he was doing, the band petering off, and then fumbled into the beginning of Caspian. As PZ said, it was some of the best jamming of the weekend -- multi-rhythmic, dark, creative. That could have gone much longer, imo, explored a bit more, and transitioned much more smoothly. Would have made the choice of Caspian somewhat acceptable, lol.
Score: 0
joechip Reply
joechip ...Just wanted to point out the humor in this writeup having so many references to being in/out of the box, seeing as we are all actually trapped in a storage unit in 1988...
Score: 1
Esquandolas76 Reply
Esquandolas76 Had phun rocking with my 4 year old on my shoulders! very close for saturday night. Great sound!
Score: 0
phearless Reply
phearless @lumpblockclod said:
[Posting after Set II]

I don't see how the second set can be viewed as anything other than a let down. The Phish only gets so many chances to play back to back full-length "second" sets (even NYE, usually features relatively short sets). The festivals are pretty much where those happen, and they turned Set II into a "second first set" instead of a "first second set," and not a particularly inspired one at that. That said, redemption is always just around the corner with this band...
Honestly dude, to my eyes (since i'm obviously reading and not hearing what you're saying) it sounds like you didn't have a good time there... oh wait, YOU WERENT THERE! So don't say the second set couldn't be viewed as anything but a let down because you weren't there!! It wasn't the best of sets, but it definitely wasn't a let down. Seriously some of you older guys are so jaded you don't even notice it.... I hate to sound like a hater, but I'm not being one. I read alot of your post/reviews and this one I felt that I just had to voice my opinion.... btw, that it's ice kicked serious ass!! =)
Score: 0

You must be logged in to leave a comment!

Username

Password




Register | Forgot Password

Login Register