Sunday 12/01/2019 by andrewrose

PROVIDENCE2 RECAP: A BIG BLACK FURRY HOT MESSY MARSUPIAL THANKSGIVING FEAST

Ok turkeys it’s recap time! For everyone at home keeping score the year is 2019. The date is November 30th, and it also happens to be Thanksgiving weekend. (Here in the USA anyway; back home in Canada where I’m from we do Thanksgiving a month earlier. But don’t worry, we have a long terrible genocidal history with respect to our indigenous population too.) Anyway, a lot to be grateful for tonight, and I’m sure a lot of folks went home happy. I’ll start my recap by offering some gratitude for finally having met @Icculus face-to-face, a solid 25 years after our initial exchange via a B&P of what I believe was the Bomb Factory.

On that note, the band certainly brought out some heavy artillery tonight, but count me among those who hope that “Plasma” reprise is now safely stored away in its holster for the foreseeable future. I thought the show had some powerful moments, and also some surprisingly rough ones, but we’ll get to that…

© 2019 Phish (Rene Huemer)
© 2019 Phish (Rene Huemer)

Phish is coming off an interesting summer, one that saw them playing a ton of new songs, dropping type II micro jams in deft, unexpected places, to varying effect, and at least a few incredible macro ones as well (the 6/19 Birds is my favourite jam of the year fwiw..). I thought the band was pretty tight all summer, and Trey especially sounded soulful, purposeful, and on point, channeling the emotional heft of the Ghosts of the Forest material. So I was surprised tonight to find him as rusty and slow as he was out of the gate and through most of the first frame. Not having heard anything of the previous night and kind of scratching my head at it, I assumed the band would be warmed up for a big rocker tonight on some very old, familiar and storied territory.

The “Turtle in the Clouds” opener felt a bit clunky to me, though I was happy to hear it in person for the first time, and the “Punch You In the Eye” briefly spent some interesting time in spacey unfamiliar territory before a choppy “Landlady” sequence and the second set of dance moves between Mike and Trey in only the second song of the show. The slow(ish?) funky “Llama” seemed like a nod to me to this rust Trey especially seemed to need to shake off, and that followed suit with the slow, predictable chop of “Meat,” which I thought was one of the first set’s few, if brief, bright(ish?) spots. “Old Home Place” gave a nod to the stomping grounds Phish have been playing since they first ventured beyond Vermont way back in the 80s (yes, those 80s, kids), and I’ll admit that I had some lively expectations for my first show in Providence. Funny that for having seen the band so often in the region, even around this time of year, going back to Thanksgiving weekend in Worcester in 1997, and the year after in 98, and many others nearby since, I had never been here. I have to say that tonight the plea of “why did I leave the plough in the fields, and look for a job in the town” resonated, and I could have done without navigating the masses and the sticky beer covered floor, and reckoning with all the damn plastic water bottles at $5 a pop. Or maybe it’s just because I’m reading Civilized to Death by Chris Ryan right now, but I digress...

© 2019 Scott Marks
© 2019 Scott Marks
At this point each song was being introduced by silly banter with Trey mocking the part of the mainstream arena rocker on a nostalgia tour, and Page complementing it with a ‘THX-surround-sound’ vamp (that, like the “Plasma” gag, also started to tire, imo..). But it’s hard to hate on first set staples like “Lawn Boy”—especially when Page walks over to Mike’s side and looks out at the crowd lovingly and says “Mike’s side”—and Fish picking up the vacuum on “I Didn’t Know.” I have to say though that from here on, with the exception of a couple interesting jaunts in “Gotta Jibboo” and “Stash,” I thought the set was a pretty terrible hot mess. Trey was just not hitting super basic changes, seemed uncharacteristically distracted, goofy, and a step behind. I root for the guy every time but I also gotta call it as I see it.

The second set was a different story. I don’t want to suggest it was a completely night and day affair, as if a different band came back on stage, but it had a lot more emotional weight, energy (at times off the charts), and overall appeal. I didn’t necessarily feel that Trey was ever in that more purposeful, soulful control we saw over the summer, but they cranked out some really interesting stuff all the same. Surely on paper it’s impressive and I bet a lot of folks had a swell time. So how it did it measure up in the flesh?

Driving down here I listened to the wonderful and woefully underrated (imo) 11/29/98 “Bathtub Gin,” and thinking about how reliable “Gin” was in that era for big second set anchors, of which I’m fortunate enough to have seen a few. Coming out with it in the one slot to open set two seemed like a statement to me. The last time they opened set two with “Gin” was at the Mann Theatre in Philly on 8/12/15 (which, spoiler alert, was a way better set than this one), and it felt to me like an attempt at a bit of a reset: a slow, old, reliable big gun the band could use to steer this ship back on track, without being too obvious a choice. It definitely had some punch and got taken out for a ride, but felt more to me like blowing off steam than masterful storytelling or band interplay (they’d go back to this energy later to better effect in “Harry Hood”). The pull back around to the “Gin” theme to close the jam felt pretty forced, but hey, I’ll take an 18 minute second set “Bathtub Gin” opener any night, and I’ll be curious to listen back to it for other signs of life.

© 2019 Phish (Trey and Fish at soundcheck) (Rene Huemer)
© 2019 Phish (Trey and Fish at soundcheck) (Rene Huemer)
I’m not much of an “Alaska” fan and it sure seems to follow me around considering how infrequently I see the band in this era, but I’ll admit I really enjoyed the slow, crunchy space that emerged from the end of it, which lingered for some time with Fish especially hitting the toms with an oddly emotional gusto. I was still wondering about Trey at this point, whether he was finally warmed up and feeling good, and out of that space came an incredibly beautiful, if sadder than usual “What’s the Use?” as if to respond to the validity of that question. The band came to what seemed like a longer than normal full stop in the middle, and then Trey pulled out a chillingly gorgeous string of notes that—and I’m not one to often drop this comparison or even think it’s usually apt—really reminded me of Jerry. Nick Paumgarten did a beautiful tribute to Robert Hunter (may his soul travel the heavens and underworld alike in peace!) in the New Yorker just two months ago when he passed, which you should read—not only because Hunter was a poetic giant who planted (or harvested?) so many of the collective symbols and myths this weird community of ours still trades in, and it’s a great tribute, but because of its chilling opening portrait of Jerry doing “Black Peter” at, yup, the Providence Civic Center on 4/1/86. I had the briefest moment of feeling that same dirge from Trey in a way that was both beautiful and haunting, and after a couple dark speculations took a moment to really appreciate and be grateful for the fact that these old guys are still standing, dancing, and playing for us turkeys. (And that I’m still standing for that matter! If they did play “Llama” the way they might have in the 90s, I doubt I’d have been able to keep up…)

The show had suddenly taken a powerful emotional turn, at least for me, and the “Piper” coming out of this space was the perfect choice. I would have gladly welcomed an old school slow build “Piper” here, but this one went up and outwards and stayed in safe, if danceable and energetic territory. “Golden Age” offered more of the same before settling and clunkily and unnecessarily providing an opportunity for another blast of “Plasma.” A pretty solid overall offering so far though in terms of the second frame. The “Hood” that closed the set is a gnarly beast, though there too I felt Trey was distracted and struggling to nail some of the composed sections. That was quickly forgotten as the jam went type II out of the gate, and revisited some of the frenzied energy of the “Gin” that opened the set. Eventually Trey brought things back around to the “Hood” theme, and it sounded like he was going to lead the band into a soft landing of “you can feel good” and call it a day, but the opposite happened. Instead Trey just churned out a really aggressive, frenzied build back to a more typical Hood finale. Again, maybe not with as refined a touch as I on some of those classic “Hood”s, but the energy was through the roof on this finale to the set. And closing it with the THX sound effect was the one gag tonight that did land for me.

Finally, it looks like the band is having some fun with the encores so far this tour, eh? The “Big Black Furry Creature From Mars” made a lot of sense for the energy the band was channeling tonight, and I thought the “Kung” was a poignant cherry on top, whose ‘stand up!’ dare I say even felt briefly political (speaking of run-away golf cart marathons…). “Wombat” and “Possum” sent us home like some strange marsupial Thanksgiving dish, with one baked into the other … and a little too much “Plasma” on top.

Stay safe on those snowy roads, kids! And say hi to the old Nassau Coliseum for me; this old Canadian is going home.

© 2019 Phish (Page at soundcheck) (Rene Huemer)
© 2019 Phish (Page at soundcheck) (Rene Huemer)

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Comments

, comment by secrets_meow
secrets_meow it's so weird as to my ears they were more 'on' and less 'choppy' than like all 2019 combined (both sets) -- these reviews rarely talk about phrasing and tone color and trey's phrasing the last two nights have been far less 'return to the tonic' and far more colorful ... it really is wild how people seem to hear totally different shows -- first set was a blast and was so tight and was by far the best horn of the 3.0 era lol
, comment by kevinAreHollo
kevinAreHollo Great write-up, Andrew. I appreciate your ability to be critical with an honest assessment of energy/atmosphere. Your recap reminds me of the (sometimes burdening, sometimes enlightening) psychological lens we all carry with us to the show, and really the whole gestalt of this band and community.

As a clownish #jadedvet who hung up his dancing shoes but is being (happily) dragged to Charleston for Sunday night, I imagine I'll have a similar experience.
, comment by experiencechuck
experiencechuck Worst. Review. Ever.
, comment by imdano
imdano Great review Andrew; it’s always a pleasure to hear your take. In general, it’s great to read thoughtful reviews written with in the experienced vet’s lexicon, and more informative than reflexive gushing praise.
, comment by mountain
mountain Were we at the same show? My section and my crew both really loved the Plasma reprises. Was shocked to see it wasn't popular here. It was popular at the show, why be negative about something that the crowd loved?

Choppy Landlady? Trey actually nailed it for once.

Then your other complaints seem like not seeing the forest for the trees. This show was a perfect mix of silly, blissful, happy, emotional, and everything else that goes into a classic well-regarded show. I truly don't understand your reaction.
, comment by secrets_meow
secrets_meow @mountain said:

Choppy Landlady? Trey actually nailed it for once.
exactly!! every time i wade into online phish take communities i am consistently puzzled by shit like this -- if yr gonna be hypercritical at least be somewhat.. accurate
, comment by metawhy
metawhy thank you for the great review!
, comment by jesterhead
jesterhead I don't think we were at the same show, but to each their own.
, comment by sheffwed
sheffwed I rarely comment here, and appreciate all views, but this review is way off - this was a particularly good show

that said, there's always a variety of reactions to be expected - but I expect better of the lead review at Phish.net
, comment by axilla2001
axilla2001 I rarely comment on anything; I'm mostly a lurker. However, I feel compelled to comment on this review. Seriously?! I get the "to each his own" and "everyone sees a different show" things, but, REALLY? It feels like you just dipped this review into abject negativity. I rarely get out see shows these days myself, being older with a career, a husband, a kid.... but I am not one of those pie-in-the-sky people that think every show is the best. Even a not so great show is great for me because I cannot follow Phish across the country anymore, but last night's show was RIDICULOUS. Even with drunken idiots around me and seats where I was about to precariously fall off some rusty risers it was a complete BANGER. The plasma reprises and the lame commentary were FUN - remember what that is? The first night was a little iffy - there were some screw-ups and some weirdly placed songs but overall it was a good show. I'm not talking about technical musicalities or riffing - I'm talking about the the TOTALITY of the show. I guess I just feel like this negativity is sorely misplaced. They were funky, fun, and old school last night with a newer feel - what more can you ask for? Jesus. Lighten up.
, comment by suzydrano
suzydrano I don’t think anyone was at the exact same show just like anyone is reading the exact same recap because it’s ALL SUBJECTIVE. Asides from his legit criticisms, I felt like his recap was overall very positive. If you read these in the hopes and expectations that the person is going to have felt the exact same way you did then just write your own recap and read that. Sigh.
, comment by HighImScott
HighImScott This review seems reaffirm that one crowds awesome show is another mans choppy mess. This show was awesome. All of the goofiness you mention is exactly the moments we chase after all these years.
, comment by GOODTIMESBADTIMES
GOODTIMESBADTIMES This review isn't even close. Seriously. First set was awesome. That llama was so cool. The fun they were having with the gag was speciall. This reviewer is too spent and jaded in my opinion. Time to move on to a different scene altogether, sir.
, comment by StealingTom
StealingTom Reviewing Phish is like reviewing the color red
, comment by andrewrose
andrewrose The irony here to me is how many people seem to think I didn’t have a good time at this show or didn’t find a lot to like about it. (The What’s the Use? was show stoppingly beautiful for me, for one, if that didn’t come across). Almost as if people are honing in on the critical moments and avoiding noticing the positive ones, as if something was at stake (it’s not). Your mileage may vary folks, and please don’t let one humble man’s opinion mar your enjoyment of the show, whether it’s posted here on the front page or not. Some things are a question of taste. Others less so, but I don’t think I’ll wade in that territory here. I will say that I feel far from jaded about this band, and anyone who’s read what I’ve written about them in the modern era knows how much I appreciate and enjoy what they’re still capable of. Just telling it like I see it. Believe it if you need it...
, comment by GOODTIMESBADTIMES
GOODTIMESBADTIMES If you want to read the real review, go to jambase
, comment by sheffwed
sheffwed "The show had suddenly taken a powerful emotional turn, at least for me"

I think only for you dude

You can believe what you need to just like everyone else

Just don't come reviewing here again as anything close to definitive
, comment by imdano
imdano @GOODTIMESBADTIMES said:
This review isn't even close. Seriously. First set was awesome. That llama was so cool. The fun they were having with the gag was speciall. This reviewer is too spent and jaded in my opinion. Time to move on to a different scene altogether, sir.
No, that’s not how it works at all. Telling people who thoughtfully gave their honest review of the music to leave the scene is a really lame habit, and one that should get you banned from leaving comments. The whole point of this kind of public discourse is to discuss and give other folks opinions space, just as you’d want for your own. You should see all the good writing andrewrose has contributed over the years and be thankful that folks like that bother to contribute here. Telling someone to leave the scene because their opinion contradicts your own is the mark of s neophyte
, comment by experiencechuck
experiencechuck @andrewrose said:
The irony here to me is how many people seem to think I didn’t have a good time at this show or didn’t find a lot to like about it. (The What’s the Use? was show stoppingly beautiful for me, for one, if that didn’t come across). Almost as if people are honing in on the critical moments and avoiding noticing the positive ones, as if something was at stake (it’s not). Your mileage may vary folks, and please don’t let one humble man’s opinion mar your enjoyment of the show, whether it’s posted here on the front page or not. Some things are a question of taste. Others less so, but I don’t think I’ll wade in that territory here. I will say that I feel far from jaded about this band, and anyone who’s read what I’ve written about them in the modern era knows how much I appreciate and enjoy what they’re still capable of. Just telling it like I see it. Believe it if you need it...
It’s almost as if some of us feel like your review of the show looked past the positive moments and honed in on the criticism. You can criticize the show fairly, but if many folks think it’s an above average standout 2019 show, we’ll come here into the comments and state our disagreement.

Just like you say here, don’t let your yuck ruin our yum, I’d like to say back to you: when you post a public opinion, you’re going to get pushback from those who disagree. And just like I don’t think it’s WRONG for you to think or say you thought it was a lopsided or rusty show with some hot mess mixed in, you shouldn’t think it’s WRONG of folks in the comments to state their disagreements with you.

I mean, the THX gag had me holding my side, texting my brother at setbreak, grinning ear to ear. The fact that you found it cumbersome shows that we get off in very different ways at shows. And that’s fine. And it’s fine for me to come here and mention that fact.
, comment by Purplemoonmom
Purplemoonmom @StealingTom said:
Reviewing Phish is like reviewing the color red

Red’s okay but purple is way better! I get you! ✌️
, comment by SANITY79
SANITY79 Ummm??? What show were you at last night? Geez. You guys on Phish.Net looking for writers or fans to review shows? Lol
, comment by neal_nugget
neal_nugget Great review. Thanks Andrew.
, comment by mshannonlee
mshannonlee I think Trey has that Plasma ear worm going on. It’s stuck in his head and now it’s stuck in our heads. I’m most curious to see if he revisits it tonight and later on the tour. Time will tell. I hope there isn’t some tragic division in the community.
Following this one for the next week
, comment by JMart
JMart Accurate review. To me the band sounded completely unglued and unrehearsed from beginning to end. Trey looked exhausted. I’m pretty bummed they burned Hood when they were so obviously struggling.
, comment by raidcehlalred
raidcehlalred Thanks, AR, for writing, editing, and posting a thoughtful review hours after the show you attended. For those who agree, or disagree, AR graciously digressed (intentionally?) w/r/t The Old Home Place - when, for real, Trey dropped out not once, but twice .... So don't be too hard on our reviewer.

I've read AR longer than I've posted, and he's a champion of the band. It's cool to disagree - he's said as much! - but I hope you don't overlook his obvious takeaways and focus your energy there -
, comment by secrets_meow
secrets_meow The author has removed all text from this comment.
, comment by andrewrose
andrewrose Ok, I should probably know better than continue to engage but I’m legitimately curious about how much of a nerve the critical side of my review seems to have struck, and in the spirit of open constructive discourse want to unpack some of the more curious comments above and say a couple more things..

@mountain wrote:
" It was popular at the show, why be negative about something that the crowd loved?"
Let’s overlook for a second that it’s pretty impossible to assume that ‘the crowd’ loved it, as if the crowd is a homogenous entity with singular taste (and the fact that I heard plenty of groans around me post show) ... I kind of rolled my eyes about it because, um, that’s how I felt about it ...? Also I really don’t want to understate how little I really thought about it either way compared to the actual music, but you folks sure seem keen on defending it!

@shefwed
" "The show had suddenly taken a powerful emotional turn, at least for me"

I think only for you dude
"

Ok wait, so one part of the show that I really did appreciate, I was the only one in the room to do so? So not only did I totally overlook how tight Trey was, but I was totally wrong about how emotionally impactful he was at another point in the night? Man, what is wrong with me?

"Just don't come reviewing here again as anything close to definitive
"

You’re right, I should totally take out the part at the beginning of my review where I declare that it’s the definitive take on the night. My bad. Wait...

@experiencechuck said: " you shouldn’t think it’s WRONG of folks in the comments to state their disagreements with you."

Did I ... say it was...?

"I mean, the THX gag had me holding my side, texting my brother at setbreak, grinning ear to ear. The fact that you found it cumbersome shows that we get off in very different ways at shows. And that’s fine. And it’s fine for me to come here and mention that fact."

yup!

@goodtimesbadtimes
" This review isn't even close."

Close... to what? Your experience? God’s?

All your experiences are valid, people. Whether you’ve been seeing and listening to the band for 25 years, or 2. Whether you get off on the gags or the bliss jams, the bust outs or the ballads. Phish is wonderful because if you’re lucky enough to have found your way in, there’s a thousand different things to appreciate, and a thousand layers deep for each of those things. What I’ve grown to appreciate more over the years is just the story itself, win lose or draw. It’s all a win for me. I said to @icculus before the show that for me we’ve been in bonus territory since 2009, and I mean that. And I meant what I said about how grateful I am for the band and the moments that do still get me to drive 6 hours in December and leave my kids and take time off work. But that also means that part of the richness for me is seeing all the variety, the ups and downs, and really tuning into why I loved a moment so much, or why I didn’t. So I thought the Golgi was butchered beyond recognition based on my history and experience, so what? If that’s really bothering you so much, maybe ask yourself why it matters what this guy thinks? If you genuinely think I’m reading it wrong, or missing something crucial, great! Tell me why. Unpack your own experience and paint the picture. That’s the only way things will get richer. Once you start invalidating someone else’s though, that’s when you miss the forest for the trees. Actually it’s more like that’s when you end up without a forest altogether. And we need more of them right now.

Peace.
, comment by Saddles
Saddles Well written Andrew (got deep with the whole forest from the trees!).

The 1st nites review was much more negative than yours but there was not much denial on commentary because it likely wasn’t that great of a show

2nd nite tho was great and that’s why u get the backlash. Pretty much the whole show (maybe with exception of Golgi) was phenomenal. So unique and mindblowing! And I bet many people felt as strongly about it as I did hence the backlash. More commentary was needed so phans could validate their experience. (Needed to show more of the forest surrounding your tall oak tree!). But certainly it could and should have been done respectively.
, comment by ALCVT
ALCVT What one snarky reviewer calls a “choppy, hot mess,” I would call “loose and fun.” A minor semantical discrepancy but my point is that this review casts too much negativity on a show that indeed had some low points but I would argue were overshadowed by an overall feel of jubilation and more than a few sick jams. Some rust is expected at the beginning of tours and you also have to understand the band is constantly reinventing themselves and their sound on different tours (eg. marimba lumina, mini drum kit, Trey playing different guitars, new effects like Pages surround sound thing) It is an ever-shifting, never-fixed approach that the band employs for freshness and to avoid the stale nostalgia act sound so many bands fall into after decades on the road. One must pay attention to these nuances when wading into the murky, brackish waters of official reviews.
That said, I’ve seen pretty much every Providence show going back to ‘94 and just bc this one doesn’t sound like the Island Tour or 12/29/94 doesn’t mean it’s instantly thrown on the scrap heap! And bro coming back on here multiple times to plead your case ain’t helping. By drawing attention to the one MASSIVE low point (What’s the Use) as a highlight when u gloss over rather stellar versions of Maze, Jibboo, Stash, Gin, and Hood (yeah JMart, that Hood was solid most certainly not “burned” - so disrespectful!) you are inevitably going to get pushback in the comments. Punch You in the Eye had a bad lyrical gaff but the Landlady section was indeed sharp so you’re off there, too. Golden Age also suffered from forgotten lyrics but again another specific example of what made the show a bit lacking that wasn’t mentioned. A 5 second Lenghtwise tease before Fish counts down the ending of BBFCFM?!? This is the forest you aren’t seeing for the trees. And speaking of that cliche, no GOTF songs through two shows? Why?? These are the things on the collective phish fan mind, not the overused Plasma riff or a couple clunky major-minor key modulations. Also I wonder about the purpose of bragging about your Canadian citizenship and taking little potshots at American culture - sure, kick us while we’re down!
So if there’s no 55 minute Runaway Jim or 38 min Ruby Waves the show gets a thumbs down?? The level of expectation some folks hold this band to is ridiculous. I’ve seen stinkers and many, many ragers and this one falls closer to the latter. Has Trey not earned the right to play with the tempo and flow of his own songs? Yes he has. Are you unnerved by a Slow Llama? I, for one, am not.
I relistened to this show after attending and 100% think the reviewer missed the tone and overall feel of the show as experienced by most. Does that mean he’s a bad writer or person (Canadian citizenship notwithstanding)? Not at all, but it’s still not going to spare him the backlash that ardent fans will always articulate here. Hope the next five shows turn your frown upside down. See you in Charleston!
, comment by waxbanks
waxbanks Thanks for this @andrewrose -- I wouldn't dare speak for any human being other than myself (and even then only half the time at best) but I've always held your contributions in high esteem, and think this is a judicious and even moving review.

Some dipshits turned up in this thread. That's cool -- it's a big tent. Big enough for argument, no less.

I haven't listened closely to all three nights, but I've been sampling, and your review sent me back to the Blossom Birds (thanks for that, it brightened my work morning!). Trey does sound a little rusty, and a handful of gear-grinding transitions and draggy tempos -- beyond the funky Llama -- are pricking up my ears, presumably unnecessarily. I'm with you on the Gin; your 'blowing off steam' phrase captures the feeling of it perfectly, as far as I'm concerned, and always reminds me of Coventry, though the music certainly doesn't.

Mind you, a rusty genius is a genius, and the band are still playing fine music. I love the Alaska > WTU > Piper > Golden Age sequence and would have jumped out of my skin during the Stash > Plasma. It's a nice joke; it's great to hear the old men fooling around a little. Pity about Trey's Golgi singing.

(I wonder if Trey is a middle-aged man with an early-winter cold.)

As always the goal is to hear clearly and speak honestly. Andrew, it sounds like you were hearing the band clearly last night, and it seems you're honestly reporting what you heard and felt. And the paradox -- guys, please remember that Andrew already knows this, this is one of the things he's saying for heaven's sake -- the paradox is that you can clearly hear a totally different thing from the person next to you, and honestly report a totally different experience. No one need be lying or stupid or deaf or inattentive for this to be the case. Neither steals from or cancels out the other.

Whining about this irreducibility certainly doesn't make you cool.

I've complained in the past about the disproportionate weight that 'jaded' frontpage reviews have here, and I know some folks are responding to that same sense. I can't fault anyone for sharing my complaints -- though I wish I'd been more civil at those times or just not complained about folks who are, after all, volunteers doing God's work. Moreover, I should've remembered, and I hope everyone else remembers too, that one writer's opinion is one writer's opinion, no matter what importance PageRank assigns to it. Andrew's not 'yucking your yum' (what a tiresome thing for an adult to say in response to a critical review), he's putting his finger on an aspect of this moment in the band's history -- an aspect that (1) shouldn't diminish any fan's experience but (2) needn't be overlooked, either.

Life is mostly middle. It's OK to look around and see it and say it -- if it's true, I'd say we're obligated to do so. I'm glad Andrew did that here, as he has for a long time. Please, please, know that the music and the community can be gifts if you take them that way.
, comment by waxbanks
waxbanks (FWIW, I didn't mean to draw an equivalence between deafness and stupidity in my previous comment -- that was a reference to the sometimes-joking way the term 'deaf' has long served in fan lingo. To those who take that juxtaposition amiss: any derision was unintentional, but I apologize all the same for the carelessness.)
, comment by LicentiousFunkGroove
LicentiousFunkGroove Thanks, AR, for a thoughtful review. BTW isn't "thoughtful" the only requirement we should have for front page reviews? Rather than "he agrees with me"?
FWIW, which is nothing unless I submit an equally thougthful review, I suspect I'd rate this show slightly higher than you :)
, comment by tipsyfuddled
tipsyfuddled Jaded for sure. And without the context of what happened the previous night with Light/Plasma, of course you're not going to get the gag
, comment by n00b100
n00b100 I personally don't particularly agree with all of Andrew's review - I actually think this is a great show, easily as good as anything from the summer short of 7/14 and maybe 6/21 - but he explained clearly and with obvious forethought why he feels the way he did, and that's all I really ask for out of a .net recap. He really nailed the Hood, for instance, both in its good points and bad points. Having written one or two of these myself, I tend to skew more positive, but it's okay if someone else doesn't; he's not out to harsh your mellow or tell you you're wrong, after all. It's all part of the great adventure.
, comment by heavytree
heavytree OK BOOMER
, comment by experiencechuck
experiencechuck @waxbanks: “Andrew's not 'yucking your yum' (what a tiresome thing for an adult to say in response to a critical review)”

I didn’t say that he YUCKED MY YUM I was paraphrasing his argument telling him not to get so bent out of shape that people on the internet don’t agree with his review and find his overly negative focus to be as cringeworthy as he apparently found most of the show to be. What a tiresome thing it is for an adult to lack reading comprehension. I’ll work on finding some idioms that don’t displease you in the future.
, comment by experiencechuck
experiencechuck @andrewrose: “@experiencechuck said: " you shouldn’t think it’s WRONG of folks in the comments to state their disagreements with you."

Did I ... say it was...?”

Well, going and replying one by one to everyone whose comments you disagree with implies to me that you do feel it’s wrong to post a dissenting comment on your review. I’m sorry that they’re not all kind, but I do appreciate your time and thoughtfulness writing up the recap. Cheers.
, comment by andrewrose
andrewrose @heavytree said:
OK BOOMER
Legit lol there; I'm 39!

When the recap brings some of the .net community's most knowledgeable and thoughtful writers like @waxbanks and @n00b100 into the fray, I'm going to consider it a success.

So how was last night?
, comment by waxbanks
waxbanks
What a tiresome thing it is for an adult to lack reading comprehension. I’ll work on finding some idioms that don’t displease you in the future.
Good luck.
, comment by Alpine3Baby
Alpine3Baby My entire crew and I loved this show. PlasmaDance. Inventive. Unexpected. Wonderful. Phish.
, comment by PlaYEM
PlaYEM This is a crazy thread. The show was Better than good AND a little clunky, but its being debated here like ICE is coming for you Pholks that creamed themselves for this show. People disagree on shit, it’s 2019.but... I mean LED Zeppelin didn’t write songs everyone liked.
Blaze On Dudes.
, comment by Grizzwold
Grizzwold FWIW, I mostly agree with this assessment. I don’t dispute that it was probably fun to be there, but listening on tape, Set I is super sloppy. Set II is better. I have a personal preference with Hood where I disfavor when they opt out of the usual Hood mode for the generic 3.0 jam approach, but at least they come back to hood eventually. I don’t know, “meh” I guess. Sorry?
, comment by Saddles
Saddles @ALCVT said:
What one snarky reviewer calls a “choppy, hot mess,” I would call “loose and fun.” A minor semantical discrepancy but my point is that this review casts too much negativity on a show that indeed had some low points but I would argue were overshadowed by an overall feel of jubilation and more than a few sick jams. Some rust is expected at the beginning of tours and you also have to understand the band is constantly reinventing themselves and their sound on different tours (eg. marimba lumina, mini drum kit, Trey playing different guitars, new effects like Pages surround sound thing) It is an ever-shifting, never-fixed approach that the band employs for freshness and to avoid the stale nostalgia act sound so many bands fall into after decades on the road. One must pay attention to these nuances when wading into the murky, brackish waters of official reviews.
That said, I’ve seen pretty much every Providence show going back to ‘94 and just bc this one doesn’t sound like the Island Tour or 12/29/94 doesn’t mean it’s instantly thrown on the scrap heap! And bro coming back on here multiple times to plead your case ain’t helping. By drawing attention to the one MASSIVE low point (What’s the Use) as a highlight when u gloss over rather stellar versions of Maze, Jibboo, Stash, Gin, and Hood (yeah JMart, that Hood was solid most certainly not “burned” - so disrespectful!) you are inevitably going to get pushback in the comments. Punch You in the Eye had a bad lyrical gaff but the Landlady section was indeed sharp so you’re off there, too. Golden Age also suffered from forgotten lyrics but again another specific example of what made the show a bit lacking that wasn’t mentioned. A 5 second Lenghtwise tease before Fish counts down the ending of BBFCFM?!? This is the forest you aren’t seeing for the trees. And speaking of that cliche, no GOTF songs through two shows? Why?? These are the things on the collective phish fan mind, not the overused Plasma riff or a couple clunky major-minor key modulations. Also I wonder about the purpose of bragging about your Canadian citizenship and taking little potshots at American culture - sure, kick us while we’re down!
So if there’s no 55 minute Runaway Jim or 38 min Ruby Waves the show gets a thumbs down?? The level of expectation some folks hold this band to is ridiculous. I’ve seen stinkers and many, many ragers and this one falls closer to the latter. Has Trey not earned the right to play with the tempo and flow of his own songs? Yes he has. Are you unnerved by a Slow Llama? I, for one, am not.
I relistened to this show after attending and 100% think the reviewer missed the tone and overall feel of the show as experienced by most. Does that mean he’s a bad writer or person (Canadian citizenship notwithstanding)? Not at all, but it’s still not going to spare him the backlash that ardent fans will always articulate here. Hope the next five shows turn your frown upside down. See you in Charleston!
Totally agree with the musical assessment of this response. I too felt “What’s the Use” was the lowpoint while many others like our reviewer felt it was the highlight. That in itself demonstrates how opposite phan appreciation can be which probably is a testament to the band.
, comment by deceasedlavy
deceasedlavy It's always risky reviewing a Phish show when you can tell correct notes from blatantly wrong ones and have some sense of rhythm. Andrew's review is quite generous; listening to this show today, I could hardly believe these guys would go out on tour so unprepared. It's one of the sloppiest shows I've ever heard by any band. I've never felt so taken for granted as a fan, sort of a full-circle moment for having taken the band for granted back in the day. But why would they bother rehearsing, I suppose, when it literally makes no difference to the majority of the fanbase? As someone who absolutely loved summer tour (minus just a couple of duds), I am baffled as to why they even booked these dates. Bring on Oysterhead.
, comment by ehpee
ehpee This site has imploded and turned into a parody of the things it used to make fun of. Your review is legit trash. I'm sorry, it's not a matter of opinion, just the fact that you're a jaded old (boomer?) vet and you can't handle anything other than what you want the band to do. Stop writing for this site. It no longer becomes you. Not by a long shot.
, comment by TeamEarth
TeamEarth Um, huh? Really? This is your review? oye, I don't understand why you are taking yourself so seriously. this is absolute garbage and to be honest is the first review that has made me want to write a response in over 20 years.... That show was some of the most fun and most laughing I have done with this crowd in awhile. it was awesome, I can't believe you were in the same room?
, comment by bl002e
bl002e Excellent review, @andrewrose! I had a far more positive reaction to the show. The pacing was sluggish at times (even for 2019), and there's some slop to be had, but to me those were significantly outweighed by the playfulness, song selection, and jam sections of the night. This one's still easily my favorite of the five shows from a somewhat underwhelming tour thus far. Some of these comments, on the other hand -- truly embarrassing to read. What kind of insecure child insults the author of a well-written and nuanced review, simply because they don't share the same opinion?

Here's how to express dissent like a functioning adult:

@secrets_meow said: "it's so weird as to my ears they were more 'on' and less 'choppy' than like all 2019 combined (both sets) -- these reviews rarely talk about phrasing and tone color and trey's phrasing the last two nights have been far less 'return to the tonic' and far more colorful ... it really is wild how people seem to hear totally different shows -- first set was a blast and was so tight and was by far the best horn of the 3.0 era lol"

Here's how to respond if you have absolutely no ability to interact in a respectful way with someone you disagree with:

"Worst. Review. Ever."

"Time to move on to a different scene altogether"

"Just don't come reviewing here again as anything close to definitive"

"Your review is legit trash. I'm sorry, it's not a matter of opinion, just the fact that you're a jaded old (boomer?) vet and you can't handle anything other than what you want the band to do. Stop writing for this site. It no longer becomes you. Not by a long shot."

"The FAKE NEWS media (failing @nytimes, @NBCNews, @ABC, @CBS, @CNN) is not my enemy, it is the enemy of the American People!"

"this is absolute garbage and to be honest is the first review that has made me want to write a response in over 20 years"
, comment by PedalSteeler
PedalSteeler Andrew's assessment of a "choppy" Landlady was pretty fair, to my ears. Trey seemed a little tentative throughout, and I counted multiple phrases that he didn't start or *land* where he intended ;) There were a couple spots where his timing wasn't quite on target, and it was pretty obvious that he was a little rattled/off with his tempo on the vocals coming out back into PYITE, which were noticeably slower.

That said, the guitar lines in this song/section are intentionally loose in places and there were a couple of "surprise" notes that actually sounded kinda cool. One of my favorite things that I've learned from Phish and that's been reinforced in my playing through the years is that when mistakes inevitably happen, the *absolute* best thing you can do is to smile and laugh it off. And they routinely do.

Some of my favorite Phish moments through the years have been shows (presumably like this one) where band gaffes got them laughing and shenanigans ensue! And that's a big reason they are so widely popular, that shows can be fun and memorable even when the band is not totally locked in musically and living up to the insanely high bar that they've set for themselves.
, comment by TwiceBitten
TwiceBitten I am gonna go out on a limb and say that, though my following comment will be completely unnecessary, and while OP has already endured enough negativity, this kind of anal retentive “music appreciation” is the exact opposite of the spirit in which the music is created.
, comment by andrewrose
andrewrose @TwiceBitten said:
I am gonna go out on a limb and say that, though my following comment will be completely unnecessary, and while OP has already endured enough negativity, this kind of anal retentive “music appreciation” is the exact opposite of the spirit in which the music is created.
Ok. Think I'm going to draw the line at this one, and being that this might be the 50th comment in this thread it's making it hard for me to resist. And I find this all incredibly interesting.

Pop quiz: what was the central theme to this everlasting spoof of a thanksgiving review (and really, not one person appreciated the plasma/gravy analogy??)? It was gratitude. Gratitude for the band, gratitude for aspects of the community, gratitude for the emotional impact of music.

You know what creates the space for the spirit of music to exist at all? Highs and lows. Order and chaos. Tension and release. Making room for the full breadth of the experience that the music and the scene can evoke, taking it seriously, without taking oneself too seriously, and clinging too desperately to one outcome or the other seems to me to be perfectly aligned with the spirit and space in which music is created. I certainly hope so because this band's music has been helping inform that worldview of mine for quarter century now. And there are few things in the world for which I'm more grateful.

On the other hand, there are a few folks in this thread who sure seem seriously butthurt about what some 39-year old Canadian baby boomer they've never met has to say. You'd think by reading some of these comments that I was standing at the back of the room with my arms crossed and a frown on my face. I danced my ass off. I whistled and cheered. I had my fists in the air screaming "Stand up!" and sang along to every word of "I Didn't Know" which is more than I can say for most of the people in the room. The last decade of this band has been a bonus that I never thought we'd get, and then some. I freakin' wept when they raised the banner at MSG. And I'm gonna call out a butchered Golgi Apparatus when I see one. It makes my experience richer. What it does for yours is your problem. But I'm happy to talk--or dance--it through with you.
, comment by sheffwed
sheffwed dude your review sucked, get over yourself

you are entitled to your opinion, we get it

I used to review the Grateful Dead for Relix magazine, I cringe at some of what I used to write - you are probably a really cool person actually

but just stop it
, comment by sheffwed
sheffwed I mean, really, you needed to also post your review on the set list thread for Prov 2 and mention you thought Toronto 2019 was much better???

okay, those (many) of us above who loved the creativity and the atmosphere and the great versions of numerous songs didn't care about "note perfection" (not sure what that means when there's such creativity in the air, like maybe some of that was intentional/who cares/even welcome? since when is Phish a band that took anything 100% seriously)

and we love you, and you are entitled to feel the way you do of course, but Toronto was much better, really

okay

got it
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