Saturday 08/11/2018 by phishnet

RALEIGH RECAP: YOU ENJOY YOURSELVES

[Thanks to Josh Martin (@JSAUCE) for recapping Raleigh for the blog. -Ed.]

Greetings, everyone. Jsauce, of the Gorge 2 review, here to give you the lowdown on last night's proceedings in Raleigh.

When Phish goes on tour, I pay a lot of attention and I’m sure there are many, many people besides myself who’ve listened to every note of this tour this far. We care. That’s great. An inevitable consequence of caring is that people are going to disagree. That’s also great. That’s how lively debate happens. However, I can’t help but get a little down when I read the comments section underneath the .net reviews. Maybe it’s always been this way and I just never noticed, but it seems as though it’s gotten way more, you know, PERSONAL all of a sudden. Go back and read the comments on the review of 8/5. Half the people seem to think it was one of the heaters of the tour (my votes would be for 7/20 or 8/3) while the other half seem to think the show was flub city bordering on unprofessional. Am I wrong for thinking that opinions seem to be skewing to one direction or the other in a way they didn’t before? Maybe so, maybe not. More on that later.

© 2018 Ryan Donaghy
© 2018 Ryan Donaghy

One thing I’ll say without fear of reprisal: Phish certainly have gotten tighter as the tour has progressed. I know, that’s some Pulitzer-level insight there, right? Every show has moments, but to my ear they seem to be putting more and more of them together. The 7/20 "Chalk Dust," the 7/24 "Carini," the 7/28 "Jibboo," and the 7/31 "Everything’s Right" (?!?!) were all fantastic, but it was even more exciting to watch them pull together great stretches of songs and kick out the jams in the first AND second sets (8/3).

Raleigh is no stranger to awesome sets, most notably summer '97, memorialized in the DVD, but also check out the "Jim" from '95 and the "Mike's Song" from '98, during which Trey spewed out such hot fire that the only thing I could do was yell "GAHHHHH!!!!!" Would tonight be another heater? It certainly had all the makings of it: Friday night's show (which I contend is the new Sunday), most of the heavy hitters dropped in Alpharetta and Camden, utterly skippable for those doing Camden and MPP. I've been focusing on letting go of the head and embracing the heart this tour, and I'm happy to say I walked in the building pretty damn excited? emotionally centered? committed to staying in the moment? Some combination of those. Here we go.

“Stealing Time From the Faulty Plan” is always welcome opener, at least for this guy. It’s a not-so-tacit admission that what minds we did have are in the process of getting scrambled, and a tasty exercise for what’s in store. A sharper-than-normal “Funky Bitch” kept things rolling along nicely.

I know “Ocelot” is gaining a following; I haven’t become one of them just yet. It worked well in this position, watching the lazy summer sun start to make its way over the hill. Fish keeps the soft shuffle underneath Trey’s long, airy melodies, which sometimes go somewhere and sometimes do not. This one was the latter, but still enjoyable.
"The Wedge" is one of those songs they rarely jam, but is such an awesome song it can stand on its own anywhere in the show as far as I’m concerned. “Wombat” got the call for the second time this tour, and while it didn’t get the serious funk workout it got at the Gorge, it was solid and sharp in its execution.

A long pause followed "Wombat," as the band chit-chatted amongst themselves before pulling out “Guelah Papyrus” for the first time in over a year. At this point in the set it seems like the mood would be no barn burning going, but a handful of good songs that relate well to each other and were well-executed. I’m always down for that, particularly in light of the beating Trey’s been taking about the recent number of flubs and, um, interesting song placements up to this point.

© 2018 Phish (Rene Huemer)
© 2018 Phish (Rene Huemer)

Birds of a Feather” is a song I could catch at every show until I die and be totally fine with it. Fish’s backbeat is so snappy and Trey can make that solo turn so EMOTIONAL when he wants to. I DESPISE the phrase “a little extra mustard,” but this last turn on this rather short "Birds" definitely gets a dollop. “Saw It Again” played on a free “Saw It Again” stream? Let me adjust my tinfoil hat. Before you can blink, we’re off that and into the meat of “Timber,” a song on which I always pray they’ll open up. Alas, it got dark, but for only a moment.

Interlude: go listen to the 12/11/97 “Limb By Limb.” Insofar as any real head could say such a thing, this is my favorite 10 minutes of Phish music ever. Seriously. Which is great, but I’ve never heard a version, either in person or on tape, that even comes close. This version stays very close to home, with Trey stepping back to let Mike chop some wood. There was not a lot of commitment here on anyone’s part, nor was there on the subsequent “Farmhouse.” For as frequently as they play it, I just don’t feel as though Trey has figured out exactly where it fits into the flow of things. Or maybe he DOES know and just doesn’t give a shit that he’s chopping off the momentum of the set. He’s always maddeningly mute on this point during our imagined conversations in my head. Fucking guy won’t shut up half the time but can’t get a word out of him on "Farmhouse." BUT I DIGRESS. A mellow tee up for “More,” which is coming to serve nicely as a set closer.

Beer and pee lines were mercifully short during setbreak. The agreement around where I was sitting was that it was a tightly played set, song-focused, but it really hit the spot. A nice appetizer.

Opening up the second set with “Meatstick” was a bold call, but one that worked for me. This song has really grown on me. It did its fun little ditty. Then we caught that “Drowned” all of y’all have been chasing this tour (sorry Bostick!) and we got into our first real jam of the evening. Fish and Mike stayed fairly locked-in while Page and Trey had a synth pedal party. Things settle back into the main theme. Mike sounds like he’s riding a small pony. Maybe with a little cowboy hat on, just romping all over the place.

I’ll be the first to admit I don’t really care for “NICU,” but also the first to admit this was a pretty slick segue for a song that’s known for its segues. Things get spacy after the proper song, but Fish chose to totally put the brakes on for some reason. Song ended. [Editor's note: Last night's version of "NICU" was among the most improvisational in Phish history, whether you like the song and its improv last night or not. -charlie]

Listen: I don’t know what to say about "Thread" here. It was my first time seeing it live. The song structure is tilted and some of the changes are very hard on the ears. It sounds as if they’re trying a little too hard to make it scary. My notes at the time read: “they’re stretching my ears as far as they’ll go.” Just not my song, not that I cared much after what happened next.

Which was a beautiful romp (or run) through “Runaway Jim” and “Run Like an Antelope.” After the opening segment of “Jim,” Trey almost immediately works in the opening changes for “Antelope.” Hhhhmmm. Okay. I’m with you so far. They make their way through the first two segments of “Antelope” and then smoothly turn right back into the second verse of “Jim,” which sort of just ends, and then we’re back into the proper jam of “Antelope,” which shines brightly enough at parts. Trey stepped to the mic and said “You’re alone” three or four times (a "Thread" reference) and the subsequent jam picked up much more steam after that. Still with you, guys. Right before the "Rye Rye Rocco" part of "Antelope," we take a beautiful left turn into "Makisupa." Fish (I think?) tried his hand at the code word. It, uh, didn’t go smoothly for anyone. The final segment of "Antelope" then dropped, with the words being moved over and sung on this part. Interesting! [Editor's note: In the final "Antelope" segment, however, Trey didn't say "Set the gearshift for the high gear of your soul."]

I’d been really hoping for a “You Enjoy Myself” and they absolutely delivered. Trey rocked a lot harder than has been the norm recently. Super scary vocal jam to scare the spunions one more time.

I always feel as though the do “A Day In the Life” encore when they feel they nailed the show. I wholeheartedly agree. That set sans “Thread” was a tremendous amount of fun. The immediate reaction I heard around me was it was the best second set of the tour next to 8/3.

© 2018 Phish (Rene Huemer)
© 2018 Phish (Rene Huemer)
Which gets us back to the beginning of the review. I can't help but thinking that the internet is responsible for the skewing of opinions on just about everything in our lives right now. I make this point: Way back when, we simply didn't have the access to the music or to other fans' opinions that we do now. You saw a show, you hustled to track down a taper with some blanks and postage, and you prayed that you 1. didn't get ripped off and 2. got a decent sounding tape some time in the next few months. Now you can listen to almost every show in real time and, if the mood strikes you, download it almost immediately after the show is done. You can discuss it with other fans in chat rooms, write reviews, etc. There is almost zero time to process what happened. I'm very thankful that phish.net had the good sense to not allow show reviews until the morning after. It's human nature to want people to read what you write, and to that end most reviewers (this one included) may even subconsciously start to drift to hotter and hotter takes to get the bigger clicks. In my mind, it used to be that we had a fairly deep consensus among serious heads about what constituted a good show, a good run, a good tour, a good era (Spring '92, December '94 and '95, Fall '97, Fall '13, Summer '15, BD, and so on). Now it seems like we can't even agree on, you know, anything.

Beyond the internet, to me, your appreciation of the music comes back to what you think the band owes you and what you owe the band. For my money, and I mean that literally, I believe that Phish owes me a well-played set of songs performed by musicians who are not so fucked up that they can't play those songs well, and for the band to be engaged with each other during the act of improvisation. I also believe that their catalog is so big at this point, they should make an effort to give some thought to practicing the songs they want to play, particularly the rarities. In return, I believe if I ask those things of Phish, I owe them my attention and to not stand there talking or WOOOOO'ing through the songs, even the ones I don't like. If I want them to be creative and spontaneous in their song selection, I believe I owe them some patience if they don't nail every single change. To paraphrase Trey, if you take a risk, sometimes you're going to play shit. If you want a perfectly executed musical event, go see David Byrne or Van Morrison or Roger Waters. They're fantastic, I promise. I also promise you'll see pretty much the exact same show I saw. Nothing is free. That is the cost.

I turn to some words from the band's opus for my final point: If, like me during many points of 3.0, you go to shows, stream, etc, and you find that, after all the fussing and discussing and hashing, you're truly not enjoying yourself, maybe it is time to take a break. I’ve had a lot of fun on my five shows this summer tour. Blessings from Raleigh. See you at Hampton.

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Comments

, comment by MoPhish
MoPhish Great review. I particularly liked your closing statements and must say I completely agree. Rage on!
, comment by jsauce
jsauce PS: My friend Ryan got his bottle of liquor taken in the lot before the show, and a ticket taboot. There, now literally everyone has heard about it.
, comment by JARdale
JARdale That 2nd set is why I love this band. In terms of opinions, to each his/her own. If you say a show sucks and I like it, who cares. Same goes for vice versa.
, comment by SerNelson_TheBrave
SerNelson_TheBrave Solid review and I whole heartedly agree with your closing statements. Phish to me has always been a place to have fun and enjoy yourself and I've enjoyed every show I've been to. Flubs and all. Maybe they could throw in a "D'Oh!" every now and then. Here's to Curveball.
, comment by Slewfoot
Slewfoot Great review and even better commentary regarding the interwebs.
, comment by Longhaireddan
Longhaireddan I agree be nice, but you also take a side. That side being “flubs are fine, chill out”.
Again, pointing out flubs and missed changes is not saying phish sucks and we’re not having fun. It’s just a little disappointing. Particularly when some songs are routinely flubbed (Rift), some don’t quite come together (but don’t come apart) (Alpharetta Free, listening to it last night). And it’s not taking a risk and playing shit, it’s playing a song that you always play the same and playing it like shit. I think they could practice even some staples a wee bit.

I think it’s GREAT that we can listen to a show 45 minutes after it ends and discuss it with the fam. If it’s an east coast show I can listen to it here in Alaska same night and still get some sleep. Cool.

I think that the “lack of consensus” suggests that this is not Spring ‘92, Fall ‘97, BD, but instead that this is a fun summer tour that won’t go down as one of the greats. That doesn’t mean we “cant agree on anything”. That means it’s not a top shelf period of Phish. Plenty of touring left in the year though!
, comment by PeopleforaClearerPhish
PeopleforaClearerPhish I think you've sold this show and especially set 2 waaay short.

A perfect example is to be found regarding NICU (I too expect little from it, though do remember thinking "I'm now old enough to recall when NICU was a new breakout treat for a hot 5 minutes many moons ago) where, above, our beloved Editor, Charlie, couldn't have been more spot on when jumped in with an important "Editor's note" ...
***Editor's note: Last night's version of "NICU" was among the most improvisational in Phish history, whether you like the song and its improv last night or not. -charlie]***

Indeed, in addition to its segue in, its outro was flat-out remarkable, the post NICU jam being exceptional both in its execution and the rarity of its placement...and was the most blatant of the foreshadowings pointing to the moments of confident -- yet personal and highly vulnerable -- improvisational open-ness that was to come.

See, like Thread or not (it is inarguably odd music), there is no arguing that it's extraordinary strangeness seemed to unlock some ultra-galactic gate to what swiftly became the band's most playful, raw and truly psychedelic jamming of the tour thus far. They were considering and engaging ideas with abandon and squeezing the aforementioned metaphysical mustard with abandon. There was more than moments we picked up on whiff in the air of the sort of freedom one occasionally hears in "soundcheck Phish" or even the ultimate unboundedness of a festival ambient set. The band seemed to be truly at play, like a kitten with a big ball of catnip-infused yarn and throughout the unfolding mash-up they gave the impression of both exalting the free-wheeling power they'd stumbled on as well as self-reflexively mocking and winking at themselves about it as they did so.

The collected opinion of my seasoned friends and I as the lights came up was that the 2nd set was - though perhaps not a perfect set in terms of construction or custom -- undoubtedly the most significant and essentially Phish-y set of the tour thus far.

It certainly bodes well for Curveball - which is now the safest bet to pay off exorbitantly as a festival since IT...
, comment by yupyupman
yupyupman Nailing great new songs is certainly taking its toll on the old ones we love, but at the same time, you cannot expect for every song to be perfect. They are exploring new jams, new songs, and we have to have a sense of evolving along with the music and band members themselves. So what Trey forgets some lyrics. The tradeoff is a smoking Mercury. We cannot clamor for Fall 97. The guys aren't in their early 30s anymore. (For the record, I'm not in my 20's anymore. By a longshot.) They've evolved. Let's do it too. Don't forget when the Dead were in their early/mid 50's, they looked awful and sounded worse with their best days clearly behind them. I personally am grateful for and love what I'm hearing right now.
, comment by hansokolow
hansokolow Great review.
Watching from the couch for free (thank you, Phish), it looks like Wombat put Trey in a really goofy mood. Page responded by playing a bit of the actual Fish tv show, which I actually watched as a kid. God help me, I’m old. Trey was throwing weird banter, even apologizing for talking too much, and then encouraging the other guys to chime in with more banter for the rest of the show. And he wanted to dance, which is why they played Guelah. Trey said so. YEM was an easy call from that point on. And it was overdue on this tour. I was lucky to see the last one in Tahoe. Though by Farmhouse, they landed in a very quiet, introspective place, playing really beautifully. Most focused version of the song I’ve heard in quite a while. I also just like that song.
It seemed like one of those nights where Trey maybe is a bit bored of big guitar peaks, and instead opts for all kinds of weirdness, Trey’s fierce and accurate shredding all the way through Drowned notwithstanding. These shows are super fun. I barely know Thread, but this was just the sort of oddball show to throw it into. I kind of love the songs that just leave everyone confused. Spock’s Brain. Sanity. BBFCFM. And now Thread.
Sometimes you don’t need long jams or big guitar peaks if you can jumble up your catalog of songs on the fly and sandwich three songs double decker instead, and pretty damn smoothly too. That kind of thing only happens every couple of years. For us obsessive types, these shows really stand out.
For my money, which was none for this one, this might be my favorite show this tour so far, though I still have all of Alpharetta to listen to.
, comment by grasshead
grasshead You forgot to mention the trampolines...
, comment by ScottyB
ScottyB I personally like that Phish fans have different opinions. Sometimes "groupthink" takes over after too long. Some of us would much rather see a 20-minute "Disease" than the "Antelope/Jim/Makisupa" antics, while others want to see a show filled with perfectly played short-and-concise songs. I love reading different takes on the same show as it helps me appreciate some aspects that might not have hit me upon attending/watching/listening.

Regardless, thanks for sharing your viewpoint.

- Mean Mr "Extra Mustard"
, comment by Mikingbird
Mikingbird Great stuff! Hopefully, we're all enjoying ourselves - especially after Raleigh Set 2!!!

...and speaking of a rare stretchy NICU, let's all recall the MAMMOTH Tweezerfest in Set 2 in Salem, OR (12-1-94). That set always makes me enjoy myself...
, comment by jsauce
jsauce @PeopleforaClearerPhish said:
I think you've sold this show and especially set 2 waaay short.

A perfect example is to be found regarding NICU (I too expect little from it, though do remember thinking "I'm now old enough to recall when NICU was a new breakout treat for a hot 5 minutes many moons ago) where, above, our beloved Editor, Charlie, couldn't have been more spot on when jumped in with an important "Editor's note" ...
***Editor's note: Last night's version of "NICU" was among the most improvisational in Phish history, whether you like the song and its improv last night or not. -charlie]***

Indeed, in addition to its segue in, its outro was flat-out remarkable, the post NICU jam being exceptional both in its execution and the rarity of its placement...and was the most blatant of the foreshadowings pointing to the moments of confident -- yet personal and highly vulnerable -- improvisational open-ness that was to come.

See, like Thread or not (it is inarguably odd music), there is no arguing that it's extraordinary strangeness seemed to unlock some ultra-galactic gate to what swiftly became the band's most playful, raw and truly psychedelic jamming of the tour thus far. They were considering and engaging ideas with abandon and squeezing the aforementioned metaphysical mustard with abandon. There was more than moments we picked up on whiff in the air of the sort of freedom one occasionally hears in "soundcheck Phish" or even the ultimate unboundedness of a festival ambient set. The band seemed to be truly at play, like a kitten with a big ball of catnip-infused yarn and throughout the unfolding mash-up they gave the impression of both exalting the free-wheeling power they'd stumbled on as well as self-reflexively mocking and winking at themselves about it as they did so.

The collected opinion of my seasoned friends and I as the lights came up was that the 2nd set was - though perhaps not a perfect set in terms of construction or custom -- undoubtedly the most significant and essentially Phish-y set of the tour thus far.

It certainly bodes well for Curveball - which is now the safest bet to pay off exorbitantly as a festival since IT...
I'm quoting from the review above: I always feel as though the do “A Day In the Life” encore when they feel they nailed the show. I wholeheartedly agree. That set sans “Thread” was a tremendous amount of fun. The immediate reaction I heard around me was it was the best second set of the tour next to 8/3."

I loved it! How far do I have to go?!?! I listened to the NICU again. I'll grant that it was pretty cool, but I didn't feel as strongly about it or the jam after thread as you did.
, comment by beefsword67
beefsword67 After an upbeat and funky (12 song !) first set, I was feeling really good about this show. I had no idea what was to come, This second set started out fun then went heavy and raw in Drowned the segue into NICU may be one of the best I've ever heard from them. The dark creepiness of Thread , (to me) matched the heaviness of what was started in Drowned. This venue is now associated with great Runaway Jims, and they blew the roof off with this one. My face melted as they worked their way through
a SIX PART SEGUE !!! they went back and forth through this jam at full steam with amazing skill. The YEM and Day in the life wound it out both containing the more classic rock raw guitar that Trey was loving in this set. I walked out of the venue thinking this was one of the best shows I've seen ( definitely in 3.0) I re-listened on the drive home the next day and felt the same way. BEST SHOW OF THE TOUR!!!
, comment by Cantaloupe
Cantaloupe @ScottyB said:
I personally like that Phish fans have different opinions. Sometimes "groupthink" takes over after too long. Some of us would much rather see a 20-minute "Disease" than the "Antelope/Jim/Makisupa" antics, while others want to see a show filled with perfectly played short-and-concise songs. I love reading different takes on the same show as it helps me appreciate some aspects that might not have hit me upon attending/watching/listening.

Regardless, thanks for sharing your viewpoint.

- Mean Mr "Extra Mustard"
Excellent comment.
, comment by curleyfrei
curleyfrei @grasshead said:
You forgot to mention the trampolines...

They always do the trampolines for that spot in YEM.
, comment by curleyfrei
curleyfrei @ScottyB said:
I personally like that Phish fans have different opinions. Sometimes "groupthink" takes over after too long. Some of us would much rather see a 20-minute "Disease" than the "Antelope/Jim/Makisupa" antics, while others want to see a show filled with perfectly played short-and-concise songs. I love reading different takes on the same show as it helps me appreciate some aspects that might not have hit me upon attending/watching/listening.

Regardless, thanks for sharing your viewpoint.

- Mean Mr "Extra Mustard"
Thank you for pointing this out! I mean, how fuckin BORING would it be if we all agreed with each other about everything all the time?!

The trouble starts when people just can't let go of their precious little snowflakey opinions, forgetting that they are only just that -- OPINIONS -- and start getting argumentative and just plain mean about why everyone else is "wrong." That's when I just stop reading and move along.

Back to your point about the various things we may or may not have picked up on while watching/listening live -- I love reading/hearing about stuff like that! I really appreciate the little things, fine details, especially with Phish. I tend to try listening VERY closely (some parts more than others, of course) so it's always fun to read a review or comment and be like, "Oh! I must have missed that! I'll have to check it out when I listen back," etc.

Playful discussions are great; arguments and selfish nit-picking are not. We're all in this bathtub together, folks!
, comment by curleyfrei
curleyfrei
He’s always maddeningly mute on this point during our imagined conversations in my head. Fucking guy won’t shut up half the time but can’t get a word out of him on "Farmhouse." BUT I DIGRESS.
...
Mike sounds like he’s riding a small pony. Maybe with a little cowboy hat on, just romping all over the place.
These 2 comments particularly had me laughing. Well done.
, comment by oceanman
oceanman I really enjoy when they commiit to an underplayed or 'rarity' show like 12/30/09 and 7/20/16 off the top of my head Both those shows had whole sets of very rare and underplayed songs and they came out to my ears at least live very well. I did enjoy the Runaway Antelope part of the Raleigh set 2, as did the fans around me in attendance, that's the 1st time this tour they've done anything like that and I don''t personally care if they left out "set the gear shift" line, I really dug when Trey started strumming the Antelope chords after Makisupa, that was a strong little jam. Like others I am enjoying the new stuff, but also like the other others, I don''t need to see 6 Carini's in 15 shows, even if it is an oldie that they've recently dusted off and give a lot of life too. I thought it was really well played and well placed at Bill Graham and that was my favorite.
Anyway, a little more variety with the old and the new would be nice, but I understand they're not doing 30 show tours anymore so there's limited time with that massive catatalog. Having been lucky to be in attendance for all 13 BD shows, Colorado and the NYE run, It's hard for me (for my tastes) that they'll ever top that unless they did it again in another venue. Seeing every song just once equally 239 or 242 different originals and covers all well played can't be duplicated. Not any White Whale's to catch for me after that run and 25 years of seeing them live. But, I'll always enjoy a show, just getting too old to drive far to see one. Glad they did the West coast this year and 6 shows in California for a change. To each their own, but I would love to see more spring '92 era Rifts where they played extended page/trey solos, more blistering flub free Foam's, and '97-'00 era Tastes. The unfinished version from the BD was the best I've seen since Gorge '03 and Vegas '04 but the 11/26/97 and 8/3/97 versions that were 12+ minutes and virtually flawless will always be a staple of what made 1.0 mine and a lot of other peoples favorite eras. They must have practiced a lot more of the complex arranged songs back then and then Set 2 would almost always be a nice jamfest. My point is I'd rather see more of 1.0 infused with 3.0, but I am enjoying the ride during this new 3.0 era, maybe 3.5 it should be called. Thanks for reading and all those who posted in depth reviews, thoughts and opinions on these show review comments. Sites like PT are always so negative that I never even go there, it's just juvenile and they don;t even talk about the shows or the band anymore for the most part. Anyway, enjoy the tour closer tonight, I'll be miracling someone with a PTBM to return a favor my friend got back on 8/8/98, almost 20 years to the day. It's a great community here generally. Cheers!
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