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On Tuesday night Phish rolled into Great Woods, home of many a classic Phish gig, for their only performance this year in New England proper. On the heels of a smoking hot weekend (Pine Knob and Blossom in particular), the comparatively modest performances at this shed from the past two summers (6/6/09 and 6/22/10), and the brilliant summer sun, anticipation was high and the crowd was pumped.
The workmanlike first set was light on improvisational exploration but not without highlights. A rocking, high-energy “Llama” opened the proceedings, and the energy stayed high through an enjoyable if interchangeable series of “Moma Dance” > “Possum” and “Cities.” While “Moma” is perfunctory by nature, hopes for a pattern of jamming emerging on the heels of the brilliant “Possum” from Blossom and the well-above average “Cities” from Bethel were, unfortunately, dashed. Nevertheless a fun sequence. The return of “Instant Karma!” for only the second Phish performance (6/12/10) added some unexpected spice to the set; way to go, Page! “David Bowie” followed in an unusual mid-first set slot. Kudos for the placement, but this version was apparently ordered “no extra mustard” as it never really got off the ground.
The Phish debut of Al Green’s “Rhymes” – a standard in the Mike Gordon Band repertoire – was a welcome addition and hopefully a harbinger of more songs from the rotation of Mike’s “other band” seeping into Phish setlists. The real meat of this set was indisputably “The Divided Sky” that was both precisely rendered and soaring in intensity, laying a punishing smack down to the jaded vet loser who used the occasion to cycle liquids. But to be fair I only missed half of the song. :-) “Stealing Time” finished off the first set proceedings, taking a sharp step back from the highs of “Divided,” but rocked, compactly, as it is obliged to do. Overall, the jamming jets were mostly in the closed position but it was a perfectly enjoyable set with a mini-rarity, a debut, and a spectacular “Divided.” We’ll be back in fifteen minutes.
“Back on the Train” opened set two and was relaxed, lilting and a bit funky but (you knew it was coming at least once) Trey cut the jam a little short, opting for “Rock and Roll.” In this case, nice choice! Wow, just wow! For a 16+ minute version it wasn’t “exploratory” but it was absolutely dense-packed with power and energy. This was far and away the highlight of the night; do yourself a favor and download this show if only for this “R&R,” you don’t want to miss it. Great stuff! “Mango Song” follows and was a fantastic choice to bring down the energy level without crushing it entirely. Then “Bug,” that personally I love but the placement was questionable and there was a palpable deflation of crowd energy. Oh well, it doesn’t matter!
“Pebbles and Marbles” didn’t do much for the energy flow of the show, but is such a great song that Trey can be forgiven for mild misjudgement in the setlist arrangement, and the performance was excellent in any case. After the fantastic version in Bethel, “Halley’s” reverted into the 3.0 shell in which jams hide. “Meatstick” was fun, as always, though several commenters have noted that this song works better when deployed less often and I tend to agree, but at least a few of us still actually do the dance. “Antelope” was great, and in a “OK kids, let’s review what we’ve done today” approach included “Meatstick,” “Bug” and “Divided Sky” teases. The “Suzy” encore was stock rock fun, and that is a wrap.
Overall? Sorry, phish.net co-workers, but you can’t make me use the numeric scale! My mind doesn’t work that way with Phish. I’m there for the fun, the friends, and of course great music in the moment, and there was all of that and more, a fantastic night of entertainment in my home venue. The venue was fantastic, as always, no issues anywhere, excepting the shit-show traffic on the exit, but we weren’t in a big hurry so no worries. My “categories” such as they are: There are maybe ~5% of shows that are outliers on the low end, 10% of shows that are outliers on the high end, and the remainder are “average,” i.e. rock solid entertainment. In that light this was an average Phish show. It was not a home run and excepting the “Rock and Roll” the jamming jets were on cool, but worth every penny and more. Good times!
On a final note, I will use a numeric scale to describe Squidda, the lower Cape’s premier jam outfit that played in the RV/Bus lot before and after Phish: 10! Out of 10! (OK they are friends so please forgive me one innocent plug).
In what is hopefully a precursor to more announcements of webcasts for other Summer Tour shows, Phish announced that they will be live webcasting the Alpharetta, GA shows. Both shows on June 14th and June 15th are sold-out and can be ordered individually or as a package. Single shows will be $14.99 while the two-show package is $24.99.
Details and ordering information: LivePhish
As were the New Year's shows, these two from Alpharetta will be broadcast in Hi-Def 720p enabling you to be able to hook your computer up to your large screen TV with stunning results.
Enjoy the shows if you are heading to Alpharetta or through "Official Couch Tour 2011."
Anticipation could not have been higher heading into Phish's 6/4/11 show at the Blossom Music Center. The night before in Clarkston they had raised the bar for the tour (and, arguably, 3.0) with one of their strongest start-to-finish sets in recent memory. Was that going to be the new "normal" or just a fortunate aberration?
After the first set, the jury was still out. The set included a little bit of everything: well played versions of composed numbers like "Guyute" and Foam," energetic versions of rockers "Kill Devil Falls" and "Antelope," a return to the Little Feat catalog with "Rocket In My Pocket," and even the aural monstrosity that is "Fuck Your Face." Still, while everything was played well, they never really left the confines of any single song.
While Phish is busy destroying America, the Blog is back to kick off the second year of Mystery Jams with #53 (see here for our humble beginnings). 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: Fun Mystery Jam Fact -- This week's MJ was published at precisely 11:06:03 a.m. Not that we need a hint, but...
MP3 Downloads Courtesy of LivePhish.com
Sitting in the midst of the vast sprawl of an outdoor amphitheater during an encore when thousands of like minded fans held Zippos or Bics in the air was an indelible image that became ingrained in many concert goers minds in days gone by. Later, glowstick wars became one of those incredible visual memories seeing all the wild fluorescents fly through the air in orchestrated syncopation.
Now, developer and Phish fan, M@ - aka Matt Sheppard, thinks it is the time for smartphones to take over with an iPhone & Android app called Crowd Lights.
Phish left the confines of the East Coast following two shows in New Jersey that produced mix results in the final date. The show had great parts, but completely failed in the second set where Trey seemed to rush through every song to successfully cross it off the setlist. Heading west for Clarkston, MI the band unleashed an unparalleled performance that contained all the pieces for a great show. Fun vibe, good songs and deep jams.
Now the 72 hour rule is still in effect here, but I am very comfortable in saying that this is the best show Phish has played since 2003/2004.
Trey, 6/5/04, Billboard
There comes a point where everybody's got an opinion, and they're all valid. You have to do what's true to your heart.
The onset of summer tour has certainly produced a lot of conversation here on the blog and in the forum. First and foremost, thank you for your participation! Please don't let my conviction deter you from telling me I'm a dumbass, which I am. That being said, there has been an overwhelming discussion on what makes a good review and what doesn't. There's no real answer to that, but all I can say is that for me what follows is my opinion. It's critical in nature, but I'm not attempting to say that this is the de facto version of a show's story. We all have different experiences and we should engage in discussing our opposing viewpoints, not questioning whether they are correct. So please, let me know what you think. I feel very strongly about these ideas, but it's not a doctrine I'm putting forth.
With three shows in Bethel, NY to open the 2011 summer tour, Phish provide several standout moments over the course of last weekend. As the tour moved south to New Jersey, I was interested to see whether they pick up on the momentum of the first two shows or get sucked into the mid week vortex.
After an energy building Chalk Dust opener at PNC in Homdel, things took a dramatic shift into the second song with Roggae. I, for one, love this combination. There are times when the energy builds so high in the first three or four songs that the eventual come down feels like a lead weight. Placing up-tempo and down-tempo together creates an amazing balance, not to mention that Roggae is one of the best choices in this category. When PYITE begins, there’s a sudden uptick right back to post-CDT. Great setlist orchestration by Trey here. By the time that Sand rolled around, everyone took the opportunity to stretch out the jam a little more. Trey provides some pretty little repetition and scale work by Trey around the 6 minute mark, but listen to Page. The layer he creates here is indicative of how awesome he is playing right now and demonstrates an addition to things that I don’t think he was making previously. After this however, the wheels come off the set. While Tube was finely executed, I wholly expect it to be the next popular battle-cry for “song most in need of extending” now that Halley’s has gotten the treatment. From the beginning of Divided Sky, Trey seemed uncomfortable and at the 2:38 mark he loses the handle and just takes a break. Remarking to the crowd “I did that on purpose”. In what had to be a cathartic moment for such an irregular trouble, Trey just lets the rest of the band proceed to a point where he can easily come back in. This is one thing that makes Trey so endearing. At his core, he is still just a guy entertaining a crowd and at certain moments that speaks more to his ability than any extended jam can.