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SPAC2 Recap

Posted 1 year ago by pzerbo - 39 comments Link: http://phi.sh/b/51d95e70

You know the drill, so let’s cut right to the action from SPAC2.

Crowd Control” starts off in its now-traditional show-opening slot (it has opened the show in each of its six appearances since Phish returned to the stage in 2009), giving way to a spirited if standard “Chalk Dust Torture,” the first repeat of the tour. “The Wedge” and “Funky Bitch” maintain an upbeat and solidly played opening stanza.

Heavy Things” saw some minor vocal struggles from Trey but was otherwise well-played, and was followed by a one-two punch from Farmhouse with an unexpected “Bug,” the first performance of the song in the first set in over a dozen years (9/25/00, Bonner Springs, KS). The first set seems like a potentially better fit for “Bug” – a song that many fans (including this one) love, but that can often fall fairly flat when positioned in the more common prominent, late-second-set or encore slots. “Bouncing” offers a breather before “Tube” that teases at some delicious grooves that could have offered the first extended improv of the set, but is cut far too short (and even at 6:44 is comparatively long for 3.0). Then the best “Julius” EVER... hint: they are all the “best ever” – “Julius” rarely varies, and always rages.

Frankly, the set could well have ended right there. It would have been a little short at a shade under an hour, but you could have put this one in the books and it would have already been an improvement on the pedestrian and often sloppy first sets offered in Bangor and SPAC1, even without an improvisational highlight. But then they dropped the big one. “Split Open and Melt” has been relatively tame in recent years, despite always being pregnant with the massive potential so often demonstrated “back in the day.” The “Melt” offered here, however, is precisely why, for this fan at least, Phish is a hobby – nay, an obsession. Clocking in at almost nineteen minutes, this monster leaves the tightly woven structure of the song proper and meanders, patiently, through multiple cycles of pure bliss.

While many “out there” “Melt” jams tend to be chaotic and/or dark, this one weaves a tapestry of soothing melodic beauty, and was eerily reminiscent of the “Light” jam from the night before. While the versions offered on 10/20/10 Utica and 8/18/12 BGCA jump to mind as reasonable contenders for which arguments can be made, this was IMHO hands-down the best “Melt” jam segment of 3.0. If you haven’t heard it yet, do it now. Yes, the ending was as horrible as the rest of the “Melt” was transcendent... and frankly the opening composed section was not nailed, either; but when the jam crushes skulls like that, those are matters for the historians. You go that far out, there is no graceful way to ease back into that ending, and needless to say most fans will take that problem every day, and twice on Sunday. Fishman in particular seemed to be getting quite the chuckle out of this post-orgasm train-wreck. Good times!

As if it needed a novelty, for those enjoying the gig from the couch on the official webcast, this “Melt” featured... FIGHT BELL CAM! I’m imaging Mike walking in on some (probably-non-existent) webcast production meeting... “hey, guys, so I had this great idea, we’d have a camera, see, and it would just be on my fight bell; wouldn’t that be neat?” Sure, other bands can jam, and other bands offer webcasts, but does any other band offer a dedicated camera on the bass player’s fight bell? You can bet your ass they don’t! L-o-v-e this band!

After an intermission of precisely 15 minutes, “Backwards Down the Number Line” opens set two. I don’t want to play Debbie Downer, but I’m going to vocalize what a lot of fans think, but are seemingly afraid to say because, well, who wants to be the person to shit on such a happy song? It is always someone’s birthday; maybe the band could resolve to play the song, say, once or twice a tour, on behalf of all the birthdays that take place around that tour? I like “Number Line,” but it seems just a wee bit overplayed (every three shows since its 2009 debut). As always, YMMV.

In any case, “Tweezer” then opens up the jam festivities. Oddly skipped at each of Phish’s twelve previous SPAC performances, hopes rode high, and the possibilities seemed great early on for cosmic lift-off... until Trey’s deployment of the rip-cord, the first jarring premature endjamulation of the tour. Nothing ‘wrong’ with this “Tweezer” but as “Tweezer” goes, this one gets the job done, but little more.

If you are going to pull the rip-cord off the truck, at least in this case it was in favor of the fan-favorite, “Sand.” “Sand” always brings the heat, and in this case it did so at a significantly faster tempo than others of recent vintage. Allowing the crowd to boogie til their butts hurt and sweat out the little remaining fluids from the days' heat, “Sand” made way for a scorching “Carini.” Now, let’s recall that every version can’t be “the best” version; it doesn’t work like that, Phish songs don’t work like a perfectly modeled sales projection chart. But with “Carini,” sometimes you wonder. Regardless of where this version falls in your personal “best of” list, the fact is that, especially of late, “Carini” is money in the bank. Just look at the last few: Bill Graham, Dick’s, MSG – all monsters. SPAC2 absolutely takes a seat among that rarified air. While there isn’t a single dominant “must-hear, best-ever” version of any single song in this set, the “Sand” > “Carini” segment taken as a whole, really does deserve your attention for a dedicated listen.

The moving outro to the “Carini” jam then featured a slick segue into “Architect,” the first Phish performance of a tune from Trey’s 2012 album, Traveler. Traveler isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, though it is certainly mine, adult contemporary overtones notwithstanding. TAB has always been and will seemingly remain both a viable artistic outlet in itself, as well as an incubator for new Phish tunes. So if you haven’t had the chance, give Traveler a listen, or if you dismissed it on a first listen, give it another shot. Both “Corona” and “Frost” from Traveler were sounchecked in Bangor, so one can reasonably expect more from this record as we move further into the tour.

The rest of the set... was fun, rocking, Saturday Night crowd-pleasing, but not much to write home about. “Wilson” > “Boogie On” (with vocal flubs so bad that they were great, leading to basically the whole band cracking up) and then “Possum.” Insert your own commentary on the placement of the marsupial in this second-set closing slot... wouldn’t have been my call, but that is why I’m just some dude on the couch. “Show of Life” takes us home to the inevitable and always balls-to-the-wall “Tweezer Reprise.”

Overall? Darn good Phish show, very enjoyable, to these ears the most consistent of the three so far in 2013. While not demonstrating the cohesion and “wholeness” of the excellent (if criminally overrated by some) SPAC1 second set, this gig had fewer lows, exceptional highlights (“Melt,” “Sand,” “Carini”), a debut (“Architect”), and did I mention FIGHT BELL CAM!?

So that’s a wrap... we’ll see y’all back here tomorrow to recap SPAC3. If you are attending the gig tonight, be safe, stay hydrated, be aware of your surroundings and how your actions impact others, and have a blast!

Comments

AlbanyYEM Reply
AlbanyYEM 1. I'm imagining a wook somewhere in upstate New York blowing on his chilled-soy infused latte on his Mac Air sagely nodding his head that, in fact, my actions do have an effect on others.

2. Miner is the criminal fluffer. There, I said it. Always good for a chuckle but 'best' of 3.0? Laughable.

3. Dear lord that Split.
Score: 6
HarryHerring Reply
HarryHerring damn fine review. this should be the @foxnews of phish blogging cause it actually is fair and balanced. after 3 shows we've actually got a seriously respectable highlight reel to assemble and pick over like auditory vultures. summer is here.
Score: 4
TheEmu Phish.net Staff Reply
TheEmu Did not realize I was in the house the last time Bug was played in the first set. That was an unpleasantly cold and moist show.

Nice recap, @pzerbo!
Score: 0
TheWizard Reply
The SOAM was the highlight for me, great stuff. Bonus that it was in set one too!
Score: 2
kevinb311 Reply
kevinb311 Solid review indeed. Boogie had a fast tempo than others and it played well for the fellas. I really dug Page teasing Huey Lewis' "I Want a New Drug" (or Ray Parker Jr's "Ghostbusters theme" ;) on the Clav. Been done before, yes, but this one really popped.

Trey needed to slow down a bit on his transitions. Homeboy was itching to change songs like an ADHD kid listening to the radio. Hahaha.

PYITE opener tonight, or STFTFP.
Score: 0
waxbanks Reply
waxbanks 'criminal'?

nobody cares who overrates which shows. this isn't middle school.
Score: 4
kowphish Phish.net Staff Reply
kowphish Excellent description of the evening and analysis of the show and tour after round 3, thanks. It really is amazing what this band can do with a couple hours of playing under their belt. Bangor wasn't poor as much as it was a glorified paid 2nd rehearsal, a generic (setlist) run through of songs and standard jams. Spac 1 set 1 was cold fingers after the day layoff and some stage set up assimilation, but last night featured some golden jams. Imagine what would happen with 80 shows a year and not trying to break song count records, but just nailing all songs and jams how much "new material" would come out of it. But it seems the band is back on their tracks and ready to attack the rest of the summer, enjoy.
Score: 1
AlbanyYEM Reply
AlbanyYEM Although I usually agree with your non-criminal show notes @waxbanks , I do in fact care who rates the shows and how. That's why I wrote that. What good is a reviewer that consistently gives you no idea how good a show is or if it is worth the download? Why even bother reviewing if everyone's review is of the same quality inherently? Seems fair to me. Although I did hear that miner said that you said that Dirksen said that possum's clothes were SO last season. Obvi. Lates.
Score: 6
whatstheuse324 Reply
whatstheuse324 A couple of things...

*Premature endjamulation...love it!

Did anyone notice Page's piano work during Tweeprise? There were definitely some new chops being displayed by Leo that had a very Meter-esque quality to them. He apparently picked up some new tricks playing with the Meter Men this Spring and it shows.

Does anyone know what exploded on Trey during Boogie On? It looked like something got tossed to the stage and blew up, which is when Trey laughed and was like, "What the Hell?" in the middle of the second verse. Not to sound preachy, but it's not cool to throw stuff at people on stage. The band doesn't like it and it will only lead to more stringent security checks down the line. Do us all a favor and knock that shit off. Thanks.
Score: 0
frankstallone Reply
frankstallone
The first set seems like a potentially better fit for “Bug” – a song that many fans (including this one) love, but that can often fall fairly flat when positioned in the more common prominent, late-second-set or encore slots.
Well said. I've always liked the song Bug, but the last few years its kind of been a buzzkill late in the second set and always gets a groan from me when it starts up. But mid set 1 seems like the perfect spot, and I thought it fit in well there

Now all we have to do is get Show of Life from the encore slot to mid first set as well
Score: 3
funkbeard Reply
everyone calping that Melt a trainwreck missed the boat. Mike employs that annoying lead effect used at MSG Wolfman's to open up the jam, and they dove in deep. The return to Melt was pure '93 staccato improv. So subtle, I thought Trey was hinting at starting a Mike's Groove before I realized we were hearing Melt once more. The ending wasn't botched. It was pure spontaneous brilliance. I did't hear any noticable flub in the first part either. All this "trey is flubbing" crap has to stop.

As for Carini, it's been a grand jam vehicle for quite some time. MSG '11, the VT storm benefit, Dick's 12... MSG 12.... are there any bad versions? The song used to scare me, but it's been a tour de force.

Healthy Phish.
Score: 3
bertoletdown Phish.net Staff Reply
bertoletdown @waxbanks said:
'criminal'?

nobody cares who overrates which shows. this isn't middle school.
Your comment notwithstanding, I assume.
Score: 5
frankstallone Reply
frankstallone @whatstheuse324 said:
Did anyone notice Page's piano work during Tweeprise? There were definitely some new chops being displayed by Leo that had a very Meter-esque quality to them. He apparently picked up some new tricks playing with the Meter Men this Spring and it shows.
Agreed, I noticed Page being on fire early in the first set. He tore up that Funky Bitch and it sounded a lot like the stuff he was doing with the meter men. Also thought his solo on Heavy Things had a little extra on it

And that TUBE! It sure was nice to see them attack that song in a way they haven't in years
Score: 1
ericwyman Phish.net Staff Reply
ericwyman @funkbeard said:
All this "trey is flubbing" crap has to stop.
At the risk of being that guy, once again, Trey has played very poorly at times. Even in the midst of some very great moments. Now, a listener can choose to hop over these moments and carry on. Or, the can get stuck on them. Regardless, they are there. Speaking of them will depend on which of the two listeners you are.
Score: 4
SufferinSmokeaStash Reply
SufferinSmokeaStash Come on guys! DON"T let me down. I called a PYITE for one of these 3 days. LAST CHANCE!!
Score: 1
FACTSAREUSELESS Reply
Great review. I mean, spot on. All I have to say is:

SPLIT THE FUCK OPEN AND MELT
Score: 2
runawayjimjones Reply
What is going on with CK5? Last year we had the experimental surfboards with the led's - I loved them but were short lived. The big circles up top are now gone. They too had the led's with some amazing lights CK5 would get going in a super deep jam. Additionally, he likes to use the circles as canvas and would draw all over them.

Now all of the electric lights are removed and I don't understand why? Has CK spent too much time on the Bieber tour? Don't get me wrong, I know it is all about the music. However, if you are going to have lights at all, then make them strong and psychedelic please!
Score: 1
whatstheuse324 Reply
whatstheuse324 @runawayjimjones said:

Now all of the electric lights are removed and I don't understand why? Has CK spent too much time on the Bieber tour? Don't get me wrong, I know it is all about the music. However, if you are going to have lights at all, then make them strong and psychedelic please!

I heard CK5 is actually working with Bieber for lots of money and the guy from Umphrey's McGee is doing lights right now. I don't know if this is fact, but it would help explain the slimming down and overall change of the lighting rig.
Score: 0
twitty Reply
@ericwyman said:
@funkbeard said:
All this "trey is flubbing" crap has to stop.
At the risk of being that guy, once again, Trey has played very poorly at times. Even in the midst of some very great moments. Now, a listener can choose to hop over these moments and carry on. Or, the can get stuck on them. Regardless, they are there. Speaking of them will depend on which of the two listeners you are.
Score: 0
twitty Reply
I'm with ya Eric.......Trey is rusty. No other way to look at it. I know die-hards think he can do no wrong but the end of Melt was brutal as was 46 Days the night before. Segues have been the main source of infection and that will improve as the tour moves along. Also the new lights are weak. Bring back Chris and dump this UM guy. Sorry, I call it like I see it.
Score: 1
bryontreece Reply
Sand & Carini was just damn fine Phish. If there's anyone out there that wasn't loving what was going on, then they just don't like Phish.
Score: 0
dealy14 Reply
dealy14 It may be unpopular, but i agree with @runawayjimjones - Why remove the circular screens? The circular screens were a great canvas for CK5...he used to do some sick stuff. I'm not feeling the new lights right now, but I'm willing to learn. Peace.
Score: 0
KariT Reply
Weren't the lyrical flubs in Boogie because Trey went to hit a balloon and it exploded something all over him? He had an absolute laughing fit.
Score: 1
pzerbo Phish.net Staff Reply
pzerbo @whatstheuse324 said:
I heard CK5 is actually working with Bieber for lots of money and the guy from Umphrey's McGee is doing lights right now. I don't know if this is fact, but it would help explain the slimming down and overall change of the lighting rig.
I'm not entirely sure if you are serious, but it is 100% false that "the guy from UM" is doing the lights. Kuroda continues to be Phish's lighting director and is safely ensconced behind the lighting board, despite his additional work with Bieber's tour.
Score: 5
whatstheuse324 Reply
whatstheuse324 @pzerbo said:
@whatstheuse324 said:
I heard CK5 is actually working with Bieber for lots of money and the guy from Umphrey's McGee is doing lights right now. I don't know if this is fact, but it would help explain the slimming down and overall change of the lighting rig.
I'm not entirely sure if you are serious, but it is 100% false that "the guy from UM" is doing the lights. Kuroda continues to be Phish's lighting director and is safely ensconced behind the lighting board, despite his additional work with Bieber's tour.
Good to know, thanks.
Score: 0
fluffhead108 Reply
fluffhead108 I can't believe this Sand isn't getting more attention. A nice, though perfunctory nod in this review, but everything else I'm reading seems to define a good version of Sand as being way out of the box, crazy exploratory. For my money, this Sand is the best funk I've heard them play in ages. Outstanding! I was on the lawn and people were just freaking. Listen to it!
Score: 0
waxbanks Reply
waxbanks @bertoletdown said:
@waxbanks said:
'criminal'?

nobody cares who overrates which shows. this isn't middle school.
Your comment notwithstanding, I assume.
this kind of crap is a good use of your time? seriously?
Score: 1
smellslikemule Reply
Perhaps the best entertainment value for your money on the planet earth this summer might be a ticket to the Hollywood Bowl which you can get on stub hub right now for $13. LA is incredible in the fact that the shows there don't sell out.
Score: 0
bertoletdown Phish.net Staff Reply
bertoletdown @waxbanks said:
@bertoletdown said:
@waxbanks said:
'criminal'?

nobody cares who overrates which shows. this isn't middle school.
Your comment notwithstanding, I assume.
this kind of crap is a good use of your time? seriously?
It's my job here to call out irony, especially when slathered on this thickly. I didn't ask for the gig but I am duty-bound.
Score: 4
n00b100 Reply
n00b100 I personally still think they did that with the Melt ending on purpose - like, these dudes have played SOAM hundreds of times, and flubs earlier in the song or not, they would at the very least be able to *approximate* the SOAM ending, right? Fish was grinning a mile wide at the end, and Trey (I think) very audibly chuckled once it was done, so either the ability to play the usual ending to SOAM totally deserted them in 7 months, or they just decided to have a little fun at the end of a crazy, not wholly successful, but still ultimately rewarding jam that (IMO) most likely was never supposed to happen.

Very good recap otherwise, @pzerbo.
Score: 2
Fluffyfluffyhead Reply
Fluffyfluffyhead Trey doesn't flub. He does that on purpose so you picky fucks have something to talk about.

Flubs... psshh.
Score: 2
robertchampion Reply
Does the writer know what a stanza is? Lol....
Score: -1
nichobert Reply
nichobert Stanza is used as a first set a lot. It's from the colloquial "stanza" in reference to a baseball inning

You can get a great deal on Phish tickets a lot of places. The first year at Portsmouth - a venue that holds all of 6,500 mind you, I got a ticket for 15 after passing dozens for face. My last 5 shows not including MSG, I haven't spent a combined $100 on tickets.

As for the show..

I'm fine with the flubs.its like a 97 kind of flub. They routinely butchered songs then too. Parts of 2011 and 2012 seemed like the best they'd played their songs since 1995.

I'm noticing Trey botch some stuff in songs, but nothing that takes away from the show for me. He has been really interesting in the jams,

Anyone feel like Page might be the de facto leader in jams now? Mike took point most of last year. Now it seems like Page is the one who will do the melodic shading that sends a jamin a new direction. And I'm pretty excited that despite all the messy bits of songs, their Improv is still on that 2012 level that I've found shockingly impressive. The Melt and Carini and Light and even Drowned and Jim to a lesser extent are really showcasing that same kind of "Everything we have learned" synergy. Where all the parts of the jams are spacious and rhythmic like the late 90s but they hit on 5 ideas in 2 minutes like the early 90s. The way these jams flow from section to section blows me away.

It's worth asking- what if these shows end up being on the weak end of this tour? That would be amazing. I felt like something clicked from Bethel through the first week in 2011, then again at UIC and Dicks and on the west coast.. 2012 - especially leg 2 had some of the most and least interesting shows in a decade within a few days of each other. What if? What if we reached a point where a show with this Melt and Carini is average? And
not-super-experimental but unique nonetheless jams like SPACs Tweezers and Sands are like the B Team highlight?

Heavy Things is great. 2000 me would be so perplexed at my passion for Heavy Things, Farmhouse and Roggae. But hey! Those songs are amazing lately, what can I say?
Score: 4
Sloth23 Reply
Have to say that every "Julius" is not the "Best Ever." If you want a "Best Ever" version then throw on the show opening "Julius" from Atlanta 07/23/1997. It had an actual jam that branched out over several peaks and valleys and side tracks before it dropped back into the regular blues jam. While the one from SPAC1 was noteworthy, it was just like all the other 3.0 versions of the song - straight forward rock and roll.
Score: 0
bertoletdown Phish.net Staff Reply
bertoletdown @robertchampion said:
Does the writer know what a stanza is? Lol....
This is the second great HARUMPH! in the comments section.

HARUMPH!
Score: 0
Lorg420 Reply
Lorg420 It was a blown up beach ball or something like that that got hit in his direction. He actually swung the head of his guitar at it and hit it purposely and then started laughing. No biggie! He was just having a good time! @whatstheuse324 said:
A couple of things...

*Premature endjamulation...love it!

Did anyone notice Page's piano work during Tweeprise? There were definitely some new chops being displayed by Leo that had a very Meter-esque quality to them. He apparently picked up some new tricks playing with the Meter Men this Spring and it shows.

Does anyone know what exploded on Trey during Boogie On? It looked like something got tossed to the stage and blew up, which is when Trey laughed and was like, "What the Hell?" in the middle of the second verse. Not to sound preachy, but it's not cool to throw stuff at people on stage. The band doesn't like it and it will only lead to more stringent security checks down the line. Do us all a favor and knock that shit off. Thanks.
Score: 0
GormanoPlatt Reply
Not sure if someone has already pointed this out, but the "first Bug since 2000" this is incorrect. I remember that a Bug was played at a show in Great Woods, MA, about two years ago
Score: 0
ttambascio Reply
"Not sure if someone has already pointed this out, but the "first Bug since 2000" this is incorrect. I remember that a Bug was played at a show in Great Woods, MA, about two years ago"

Dude, they where talking about Bug being played in the first set......
Score: 0

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