Monday 07/31/2017 by phishnet

MSG8 RECAP: GOING OFF-BOOK

[We would like to thank Jeremy Levine, @Franklin, for writing the recap of last night's show.]

The Baker’s Dozen has felt like a weird jamband version of "Chopped." High stakes, themed sets, and more and more songs off the table with each passing night (presumably) means that they have to make something new and inventive in the face of confounding restrictions. Yesterday, when Phish opened its basket to reveal Rainbow Jimmies, expectations and predictions started to heat up. “The Squirming Coil” seemed like it was off the table after having been played the first night (7/21), but we could still be up for “Runaway Jim,” “Harpua,” something from Hendrix, Jimmy Page, or Quadrophenia, plus “Rainbow Connection,” “Somewhere Over The Rainbow,” or any other curve balls the band might have in store. After hearing about "Chocolate Rain," a thirty-minute "Lawn Boy," and the legendary spicy chicken sandwiches at Section 119, I couldn’t wait to see what Phish would cook up for my only Baker’s Dozen show.

Photo © Stephen Olker
Photo © Stephen Olker

I would love to tell you all about the pre-show vibe, but a slow RV on Route 22 South made me miss my train into the city. My pre-show experience consisted of running through the subway, knocking children out of strollers, and leaping over turnstiles so I could make the opener in time. As I climbed the steps to our seats (which, for dramatic effect, might as well have been located on Neptune), Trey launched into “The Curtain With,” a song very high on my “Maybe One Day” list.

Spoiler: many songs got crossed off that list tonight.

Mike accented the slow part of the “With” section with a couple of well-placed bombs and I was a very happy camper indeed. The intro of “Runaway Jim” was met with rapturous applause from the stands (everybody loves the theme!), and the first jam got a little experimental, with Trey on the echoplex and Page on Lil’ Pumpkin. The second jam was all high-energy type-one glory.

“Waking Up Dead” followed. To me, this song is quintessential Phish — the emotional climax is on the word “vacuuming,” which should tell you everything you need to know — and so I was glad to hear it tonight. Mike had some technical difficulties and had to switch basses, and so Trey stalled with some thickly distorted leads while Page hit the clav. We also got some jamming in the breakdown after the “hanging by a thread” lyric, which Mike eventually cut short by returning to vocals, delivered with some bluegrassy flair. After a short pause, “Esther”came next. There were cheers. There were high-fives. I don't hold “Esther” in as high regard as many other fans, and for those people, I hope you get yours soon. As for this version, everything seemed to be in order as our set continued.

“Home” followed and my longtime friend and show partner Matt leaned over to remark that it was his second-favorite Phish song about social anxiety. During “Brian and Robert,” my longtime friend and show partner Matt leaned over to remark that it was his favorite Phish song about social anxiety. “Home” itself had a nice, big, type-one peak, which helped clear the air after the heaviness of “Waking Up Dead” and “Esther.” “Nellie Kane” came next. It was at this juncture that I ate my Clif bar.

Photo © Stephen Olker
Photo © Stephen Olker
When “Col. Forbin’s Ascent” started up, the uproar from the crowd was almost as invigorating as the song itself. Trey sounded well-rehearsed, covering most of the tricky guitar parts without flubs, while the rest of the band plugged away. We got a couple of delightful in-jokes from Trey in the transition to “Fly Famous Mockingbird,” the first of which was the words to the aforementioned “Squirming Coil,” spoken instead of sung. Not to get too speculative, but this gesture almost confirms the no repeats thing — after all, they could have just played “Coil” — but time will tell on that one. “Mockingbird” was gorgeous; I tried to soak in what might be the only version I ever see live. And “Bowie” closed out the set. In the jam, it seemed like Mike was trying to push some kind of ethereal samba, which the rest of the band just didn't buy. Trey eventually pushed us to the peak and the usual Bowie trilling to bring a strong set one to its conclusion.

Quadrophenia is your humble narrator’s favorite album in the entire world. Naturally, I was hyped to hear "Drowned's" signature piano riff and then hear the band plow through one of the keystones of Jimmy’s story. They did well, with Trey foregoing some of the tender guitar lines in the “I am not the actor” section, before the jam started up. In the beginning of the jam, Mike, Trey, and Page all tried to settle on little themes, none of which took Fishman's fancy. The result was similar to the version of “Down with Disease” from last year’s BGCA show, with Fishman chugging away while the rest of the band dropped little noodles here and there — it was experimental, it was danceable, but it was also in some ways puttering. Trey started to lean on a simple three-note melody, and the rest of the band started to lock into a groove. Things started to get a little crunchy and, in a more ambient space, Mike Gordon did a total Mike Gordon and pulled out some weird flashlight-looking device and started to speak/song through it. Then he used it as a slide on his bass. Bakers Dozen’d.

The jam concluded, and Fishman sent us into “A Song I Heard The Ocean Sing.” The jam that followed this song is, I would argue, quintessential 2017 Phish. Unlike the “Drowned” jam, the group locked in immediately. Fish picked up what Page was putting down, allowing the rest of the band to unite. Trey created some foundation and let Page go ham on top of it on the synth. Shortly thereafter, the band traversed what I'm considering calling the “Ambient Moat,” the juncture in a jam where Trey would have quietly guided us into “Twenty Years Later” or “Joy,” in 2016. But this year, the band wades across the moat and into the unknown; this time, we found a fragile, staccato interchange on the other side of the moat, with each band member laying down sparse themes. Fishman started to chug forward and we unite somewhat before the jam reaches a natural conclusion.

There was a pause. On the screen in front of me, I could see Trey make a little “O” with his hand in a gesture toward Mike. I consider flipping out. The band gives us an "Oom Pa Pa." I flip out.

"Harpua" is always a surprise. Even on a night where the band says “HELLO. TONIGHT WE ARE DOING A THEME. THE THEME IS THE SAME AS THE NAME OF A CHARACTER IN A CERTAIN SONG,” I was still doubting the likelihood of hearing it. One can't count their "Harpua" before they're Oom Pa Pa’d. But when it actually started up, I was beyond ecstatic, and from the sound of the crowd’s roar, the rest of the arena felt similarly.

As for the "Harpua" itself, it’s best if little is said about the narration and you just give it a listen. Suffice it to say that Trey and Mike sat down in folding chairs with newspapers to “hide” scripts that took us through some very strange discourse on the universe, topology, and doughnuts. I think we all expected some kind of Baker’s Dozen antics, and "Harpua" definitely brought the goods. The rest you'll have to hear yourself.

After a seventeen-minute second set "Harpua," some grooving is definitely in order. The “2001” that came next certainly got the job done. In the second jam, Page got back on the synth to bring us some Moon Funk, and fun was had by all. After quick romps through “Golgi Apparatus” and our second “In The Good Old Summertime” of the tour, an exploratory, hilarious, and altogether Phishy second set was at its conclusion.

For the encore, the Baker’s Dozen tradition of one-time covers continues, this time with Jimi Hendrix’s “The Wind Cries Mary.” The band sounded great and I'd be happy to see this song emerge as a second-set landing pad, but we’ll have to wait to see if any of these tunes get replayed… right now, it doesn't look like any songs are getting repeated until Dick’s, one-off covers or otherwise.

All told, the relistening highlights for this show are the first two second set jams (with a big star next to “ASIHTOS”) and the first set “Home” and “Jim.” Both “Harpua” and “Mockingbird” were delights in person, and I'm sure I'll revisit them in the future as well.

Five nights remain and it feels like, in spite of high expectations and what seems like a legitimate chance of no repeats, the band seems relaxed and joyful. I am too, and while I'm already headed back north, I'm glad to say that I got to see Phish at the Baker’s Dozen.

Photo © Stephen Olker
Photo © Stephen Olker

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Comments

, comment by philanthropist
philanthropist Nice work!
, comment by dipped
dipped Thank for the write-up - glad you made it to catch the Curtain.

I'll take that dissociated Demand jam all day every day please and thank you. And the ASIHTOS was absolute filth.
, comment by ckess22
ckess22 A 'demand' jam? Now there's an idea. I get your drift @dipped.
'Ambient moat'...a new phrase for the phish lexicon. Nice
, comment by dentrev
dentrev I bought the HD stream last night. It was pretty glitch free. My wife comes down towards the end and says "I just don't understand them - they are all playing different songs." (she loves Erasure and Crowded House). I said right before the beginning of 2001 to sit and listen, you'll know this song. Yep, stream crashes. - end of show. Ugh!
, comment by readthebook555
readthebook555 Coil was 7/22
, comment by dte421
dte421 Great work - I have to say I walked out of the building last night wondering if 2017 Phish could top what they did last night. There are too many songs in the 2017 rotation that I just don't love (Waking Up Dead being a prime example) for any show to be "perfect" for me on paper... but this one is about as perfect as it can get.

I'm trying not to take anything for granted, but it's odd that at 8 shows in we're still questioning "no repeats..." especially when they left the Coil for spoken word last night. There's still 99 songs Phish has played at least twice since 2015... plus they've averaged more than 1 debut a night, nevermind bust outs (Maple theme is perfect for return of Time Turns Elastic, however we feel about it) - meaning the ~105 songs they'll need to finish this perfect game are well in hand. We're all pretty damn lucky to have found this band.
, comment by Bauer
Bauer Thanks for the solid write up man. I don't think enough could possibly be said about the ASIHTOS. I enjoy aquatic abyssal mini themes. My first show was Ventura 98 with drowned and ASIHTOS so that holds a special place. That venue was special because the band could see the shore line from the stage. Worth pointing out just how super duper dark the jam became last night. I'm a sucker for sinister phish and mike was plugging that dark and down right evil demeanor pretty dang hard. While I generally only listen to phish when they're on stage (that's a bold faced lie), that second set deserves another listen. That show in all has TREMENDOUS replay value. Forbins and harpua are probably the two songs in the phish catalogue that best send a crowd into a fervor. The type where you high five strangers and grip your friends with a bruising clench as you use your other hand to cover your gapping jaw line even if you've caught them all before. Last night was much flames sir. Much flames.
, comment by Bauer
Bauer Lest not forget to mention the two harpua teases in the start of 2001.
, comment by dipped
dipped @dipped said:
Thank for the write-up - glad you made it to catch the Curtain.

I'll take that dissociated Demand jam all day every day please and thank you. And the ASIHTOS was absolute filth.
Demand jam? What's taupe now? Jimmies make my head go wacky. I'll take "Dissociated Drowned Jams" for $2000 Alex.
, comment by EvenCarlSagan
EvenCarlSagan Nice write up!
And Congrats!
From the bottom of the Ocean, up into the far reaches of Space.
This one was the donut to partake in & to also steal your face right off your head.
(Nod to tomorrow night).

It was just maybe,quite possibly the One Donut to rule them all.
We'll see...
I sure wish I'd been there.
But...
As above & So below (& in between):
In spirit and also as a feline,I was there.
Cheers!
, comment by chrismichels
chrismichels songs yet to be played at msg

yem
antelope
maze
limb
no mans land
first tube
mikes> paug
fluffhead
lizards
mccgrupp
rift
guyute
sleeping monkey
scent of a mule
caspian
punch you in the eye
rocky top
bug
contact
frankenstien
fuck your face
dog log
dinner and movie
golden age
wedge
wingsuit
46 days
mountains in mist
ghost
wombat
NICU
simple
winterqueen
light
scents
loving cup
petrichor
possum
piper
shade
heavy rotation
sugar shack
crazy sometimes
marissa
access me
sanity
icculus
bouncing room
poor heart
guelah
fast enough fo you
silent in morning
if i could (last 2014)
life boy
dog faced boy
demand
waste
taste
talk
swept> steep
jesus left chicago
hello my baby (2009)
meat
fikus
shafty
frankie says(last 2015)
quinn
driver
BBFCFM
dogs stole things
bold as love
hahaha
heavy things
jibbooo
sleep
anything but me
round room
friday
mock song
thunderhead
the connnection
crowd control
nothing
2 versions of me
sloth
strange design
didnt know
walked into yesterday> malkenu
camel walk
love you
MMGAMOIO
burried alive
uncle pen
joy
ocelot
kill devil falls
i been around a while
albuqurque (last 2011)
old home place
when the circus comes
dan saw stone
guitar gently weeps (last 2013)
fire
saw it again
party time
alaska
birdwatcher
devotion to a dream
sing monica
waiting all night
bittersweet
spocks brain (last 2003)
soul shakedown party
freinds
tide turns
beauty of broken heart
plasma
leaves
whats the use
grind
love is what we are
cornona
scabbard (unlikey but i wish!)
last step (unlikey but i wish!)

list not nearly complete
, comment by teenwolfmansbrother
teenwolfmansbrother Jimmy went in the water. Jimmy drowned. Jimmy went all the way to the very bottom of the ocean. He started to fade. But wait, what's that sound through the water? A raging Hendrix-like guitar solo? Keep fighting Jimmy!
Ah, the universe is shaped like a donut. So Jimmy goes down through the bottom of the ocean and finds himself reborn at the top, at the dawn of the universe, the big bang. It's a 2001 dance party. Take a look into the microscope. What's that tiny little organism? Is that Jimmy, with a ticket stub in his hand?

Incredible that they played all those songs where the music represents the journey of the character (Esther, Forbin, Mockingbird, Runaway Jim) and then did the same in the Drowned and ASIHTOS. Masterful. And the thought put into the setlists (A carefully planned I Am The Walrus the night before, with the Halloween sounds, then teasing Walrus in Runaway Jim, the Walrus is Jimmy)
, comment by burlingtonnuthouse
burlingtonnuthouse Rereading teenwolfmansbrother post above is not wasting time. Nailed it with jimmies on top.
My phish Types are prose, poetry, silence, ineffabilty. Thats the four stages of how their music influences my creative thought. They have moved my thought this weekend from poetry to silence, I can find my own way to ineffability, or as we know it, Home.
, comment by tylerthesmiler
tylerthesmiler Probably my favorite BD show so far.
, comment by Piper72
Piper72 Jeremy Levine, your toddler-knocking and stair-hurdling was not in vain. Sounds like you had seats like ours-200's, stage left, semi-nosebleed but thankfully without too much skybridge (or whatever that thing's called) obstruction. Distracting, with the screens showing the feed which was slightly out-of-sync; yet amusing as folks around me were launching glowsticks onto it and having them returned by both phans AND security. We otherwise, as you must have, had a great view of stage, floor and lights, and it was cool to see those things move up close. It cannot be discounted that CK5's new toys are helping push the band into greater recesses of space and 'ambient moat' (seconded that that needs to be added to the phish.net lexicon), along with the donut themes and no repeats rule. It's phenomenal, and you captured the feeling and vibe so well, even adding some band interplay insights ('Mike was trying an ethereal samba that the rest of the band wasn't buying' LOL) and I look forward to reading future reviews from you. As long as the Donut expands...
, comment by 98ghostphunk
98ghostphunk More reviews from this guy!
, comment by EvilKingWilson9
EvilKingWilson9 Dead-Filled donuts tomorrow??
Bahahahaha, if only
, comment by whatstheuse324
whatstheuse324 @dte421 said: [quote] ... (Maple theme is perfect for return of Time Turns Elastic, however we feel about it)

Good call and well stated.
, comment by Piper72
Piper72 @Bauer said:
My first show was Ventura 98 with drowned and ASIHTOS so that holds a special place.
Drowned>Makisupa. (Sorry, had to look it up because you sparked my curiosity of whether they had actually done that song that long ago-perhaps an earlier version!)
, comment by mgouker
mgouker Great review! I listened to the show today after downloading the section 2 Schoeps kindly recorded and uploaded by Noah Bickart. Great tape. Thank you, NOAH, and all the tapers for keeping us awash in great music. It feels like you are there on the floor.

Anyway, I love the physics discussion. Along with consciousness, physics modeling of the universe is one of my hobbies, and I remember reading about this in Lisa Randall's book. I had heard there were 11 dimensions or even 14, however, and that there were little donut-shaped fields along different axes of each "point," where essentially there is an orbital point (not explaining this well, sorry.) In any case, I was delighted and, well, impressed with the narration.

And, yes, I know they had newspapers with (you say) scripts, but I still admire them for delivering the message to everyone that science is really as cool as you hoped it was.

If anybody wants to further investigate these topics, may I suggest this site:

World Science University (it's free)

Also, Brian Greene has a wonderful presentation on String Theory that will melt your mind:



Here is a link to the whole playlist:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rniE0NQwEJs-1kxKPpF-mQ5C

Enjoy, people!

Peace from Florida,

Michael
, comment by phishingroovin
phishingroovin Thank Science
O O
, comment by pureguava
pureguava Great write-up. Thanks. You and me on 'Quadrophenia.' This album got me though high school.
, comment by yupyupman
yupyupman Great recap. I'm still waiting for Trey's Happy Coffee Song to find a spot. It's the perfect debut for this run!
, comment by Bauer
Bauer @Bauer said:
Thanks for the solid write up man. I don't think enough could possibly be said about the ASIHTOS. Worth pointing out just how super duper dark the jam became last night. I'm a sucker for sinister phish and mike was plugging that dark and down right evil demeanor pretty dang hard. While I generally only listen to phish when they're on stage (that's a bold faced lie), that second set deserves another listen. That show in all has TREMENDOUS replay value. Forbins and harpua are probably the two songs in the phish catalogue that best send a crowd into a fervor. The type where you high five strangers and grip your friends with a bruising clench as you use your other hand to cover your gapping jaw line even if you've caught them all before. Last night was much flames sir. Much flames.
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