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Perhaps inspired by the nearby ‘L’ train, Phish opened the first of three nights at the relatively intimate UIC Pavilion with a solid version of “Back on the Train.” A standard version of “Rift” followed. Keeping with recent custom, the song-oriented first set continued with a jaunty “Guelah Papyrus” and the more infrequently played “Scent of a Mule.” “Jesus Just Left Chicago” arrived as expected to satisfy the local crowd and as usual Page brought his best Texas hillbilly. Up to this point, the set mostly comes off as workman-like: solid and fun, driving straight down the middle of the fairway.
One of Phish.net's most prolific reviewers, W H @waxbanks, has written an insightful piece on his blog (blog.waxbanks.net) comparing the music of the Grateful Dead to that of Phish. He sees them as polar opposites with Phish's music being built around order (or structure) and the Dead's being built around disorder.
With his permission, we are re-blogging his piece on the Phish.net site. p.s. If you're a Dead fan, you may well be interested in his recent piece on tribute bands, particularly Furthur, and I found my self shaking my head in agreement with @waxbank's take on Obama taboot. Good stuff!
Without further ado:
"The home state of Phish's improvisatory music is order (or structure). They depart productively from it, and play against it, entering states of tense, nervewracking disorder. But they always want to resolve, to cohere. Their improvisatory structures (like the two chords of the 'Bowie' jam, with their many modal suggestions) are centers of gravity; that's why they can swing wildly away from them and return surefooted, time after time. Their improvisations are famously architectural and coherent, as are Trey Anastasio's unique full-band written arrangements. The flip side of this strength-in-order is that their experiments in purely Free jamming have rarely been wholly successful, though they've gotten much better at it over the last ~30 years. And for a long time they were afraid to be emotionally wild, preferring intellectual experimentation - at some cost to the overall musical vibe."
If it's Monday, it must be time for another Mystery Jam. As usual, we will be playing for an MP3 download courtesy of our friends at LivePhish.com / Nugs.Net. The rules haven't changed: you need to correctly identify the song and the date to win. Post your guess in the comments. One guess per person per day (with the second “day” starting after I post the hint). The hint will come on Tuesday and the answer will be posted on Wednesday. Good luck...
Tuesday Hint: Oops.
Wednesday Answer: Congrats to RebeldyNugs for ID'ing the 8/15/93 "Stash." I believe that is Rebeldy's League leading 6th MJ victory. The Blog bows in awe. See everyone Monday with #64...
MP3 Downloads Courtesy of LivePhish.com
Phish's festival in Coventry, Vermont, took place seven years ago. The shows were billed as Phish's final shows. They were enormously emotional for a host of reasons, particularly because many fans were turned away, and others had to hike miles upon miles simply to reach the grievously muddy grounds. Several years ago, during the "breakup," and a few years after Coventry, I wrote an essay about the positive aspects of the shows at Coventry. I did so because I felt I owed it both to Phish, and to myself, to find a way to view Coventry in a positive light. If you care to read part of what I wrote back then, and perhaps to rethink Coventry yourself ...
Anomaly? Coincidence? Comments are open.
IT has been said that one should know one's audience before addressing them. After you have said your piece, ideally, your audience will appreciate your words -- assuming you still have an audience at all. But when offering up $0.02 on a rock concert, particularly one attended by tens of thousands of people, many of whom were seeing or hearing the band for the first time, your words will disappoint someone. Phish, fortunately, did not disappoint many last night. They rocked Golden Gate Park in a way that few (now legendary) bands have ever done. In deference to the variety of perspectives of fans who witnessed Phish’s two-set headlining show at the Outside Lands Festival, though, I offer you three "recaps."
Night two of the Lake Tahoe webcast had a whole slice of the internet abuzz. Coming off of an exciting night 1 that showed some potential in Bowie, 46 Days, Slave, and arguably, Walls of the Cave, there was a near-palpable excitement about night 2. The show started a touch later - almost 7 PST, 10 EST.
Phish took the stage and dropped their first "Dogs Stole Things" of "3.0," the first since 2003, a 167 show gap. While "Dogs Stole Things" has always been a song I've enjoyed, it's recreated relatively similarly each time, so it was more a "Wow!" factor for stats than music. Dogs led to an uncharacteristically short "Stealing Time", which handed off to "Poor Heart." Hard not to notice the three song "Steal" theme - "Stole," "Stealing," and "You won't steal my poor heart."
The second Phamily Poker Classic is ON, right now, at Harvey's Resort and Casino. To celebrate, we're auctioning off nine (9) numbered and signed posters from the original event, last Halloween in Atlantic City.
These are beautiful 11x17 digital prints on 100lb felted cover, all hand drawn and hand done type, signed by fabulous artist Erin Cadigan, featuring a mockingbird dealing four Aces representing Phish's instruments, while the Phamily watches from the background, and a whirl pool of fish bones and eyeballs swirls about.
One of the things that makes 3.0 feel like older Phish is that it's been evolving. Look back to the first era of Phish. We had the early years where no one knew how songs were going to go - "Fluffhead" and "The Divided Sky" took pieces from other songs to make their final versions - or even who was going to be in the band. Then we had the slow rise of the band as a touring outfit in the early 90s. This led to two distinct peaks in 95 and 97, revolving around different styles. The last thing that could be considered a change would be the addition of the Trey band songs and their groove based jams in 99. Since then Phish kind of felt like the same band. Sometimes they jammed more (2004), sometimes the songs were better played, but between 98 and 04, the change was pretty subtle. They played the same songs - with a large catalog, you couldn't take it over with new songs (giving a show a different feel) the way you could when the Rift songs came out - in the same venues in a fairly similar style. There was some truth to Trey's nostalgia band comments around the time of the breakup. It felt like there was no new direction to go.
That was a question for Phish’s return. Where – if anywhere – could they go to make music different from what they have done in the past? They took the Choose Your Own Adventure approach, retreating back to the last safe spot before all of the disasters happened. 2009 feels closer to 1992-3 stylistically than anything else. What’s been making it exciting is that the rules have been changing. Remastering the songs first led to subtle improvisational changes (e.g. the end of “Prince Caspian” being surprising in many 2010 versions) and then became the goofy mashup stylings of Fall 2010, where they could play two or three songs interlaced with each other.
We’re just getting used to Song Based Jamming, but the rules are changing again. In the four shows since Superball IX, two of them have featured a jam based on the style of the “Storage Jam.” It’s starting to look like that late night jam might be one of the defining moments of the band, along the lines of how playing Remain in Light started the cowfunk revolution. It’s a new style of playing, one that at least will define the end of summer 2011. Maybe it’ll be done before Colorado, maybe we’ll be hearing jams in this style in 2029. Right now we have absolutely no way of knowing; that by itself is incredibly exciting.