a Project of the Mockingbird Foundation

Phish.Net Review Archive

You can also browse our archived review section.

Here are the 15 most recent reviews submitted

n00b100 , attached to 2014-07-20 Permalink
n00b100 Set 1: One of the better first sets of the tour, nicely balanced between big rockers (the set-ending WOTC, a fierce-as-usual Maze) and relaxed tunes (Ocelot, which is Ocelot, and a never-unwelcome Tela). The set peaks in the middle, first with a crazed Mule that combines the wacky Marimba Lumina antics of the 7/14/13 version with the rhythmic goofiness of the 8/5/13 version before giving way to the band bellowing away into their mics and a fine finish, then a Type I "Classic Gin" Gin that verrrrrry nearly goes Type II when Page drops into a minor key near the end, only to be sadly ignored (still a fine version, though). Certainly worth a listen before the main event.

Set 2: A pearl of a second set, easily a contender for the best of the tour (which has had some really nifty second sets even *outside* the 7/13 mega-set). Mike Hamad on Twitter (aka the man behind those Phish maps that are insanely cool to look at even if you don't have the slightest idea how musical notation works) noted that the set-opening Disease made a move from the key of A to G, which it usually doesn't; that makes sense when you consider the direction this DWD goes, heading for bright spaces not unlike, well, Gin and bursting into a really pretty groove, Trey busting out some sharp chords, Fish holding things down fantastically well. I *guess* you could argue it "goes nowhere", although I'm never really sure why that's a bad thing, as though something this beautiful absolutely needs to dissolve into space or dive into darkness or reprise DWD 12/29/13 style to be worth listening to. I could have sworn I heard a Linus and Lucy tease in there, as well, which is all the more reason to like this Disease.

Winterqueen (in its now-usual jam landing pad spot) and Theme come next (more on that in a second), then things really take a turn. The band fires up Mike's, and it's a typical nice 3.0 Mike's (I mean, yeah, second jam, sure, but have you ever been listening to a 3.0 Mike's and been like "man, I sure am sad I'm listening to Mike's Song?"), then in comes The Wedge, and it's every bit as good as you've heard, dancing from a light Page-driven melodic jam to something sharper and funkier (always a good sign when the woodblock comes into play) to a more muscular driving jam (as Mike goes to the meatball effect) to the already-famous Paradise City/Roll With The Changes clavinet-and-guitar-god hose segment with head-shaking ease. It's not as purely adventurous as some of the other big-time 2014 jams, but it's ridiculous ass-shaking fun from start to finish, the modern equivalent of the 12/3/97 Drowned, and all the better for opening up a previously "closed" song.

And then, rather than take a break from jamming before going into Paug, the band launches into one of 3.0's best Ghosts. I wrote about it in the jam chart entry, so I won't go into it here; suffice to say that it condenses the best of 2.0's jamming style without indulging in the worst of 2.0's jamming style, making for a unique and exciting jam. Weekapaug enters out of the jam's end in yet another great Ghost -> Paug segue, and this time we get one more very nice piece of business as the band slides into a Ghost jam just as neat as you please (I still think it's Ghost -> Paug -> Ghost Jam -> Paug, darn it!), makes way for a surprising Stash tease, and nicely closes a tremendous set. First Tube and Zero (I mean, c'mon, people, it's Zero) end the show with energy to spare.

So, a quick thought here. Now, my personal feeling is that there's nothing wrong with where Winterqueen and Theme were placed - it's not the first time two non-jam songs have been placed together, nor will it be the last, and they established a more relaxed mood before bringing things up with Mike's (taking an audience down and bringing them up is a move every rock band does in a show, y'know). But here's how show perception (often) works - I bet that if they just went into Mike's after Disease and moved the WQ/Theme segment to after Paug, then closed out with First Tube, this show would be a good deal higher rated, at least another tenth of a point (which is a big deal with such a tight rating scale). You know why I think that? Because there's a very similar show to this one that also features great jamming in a strong Mike's Groove, and that show is 6/23/12, which slaps a Bouncin/Julius/Slave combo platter at the end of a fabulous Groove that segued into an equally fabulous Seven Below. Perception's a funny thing, isn't it?

Anyway, final thoughts here: a super show from a very interesting tour so far. This one'll be earning multiple relistens.
Score: 0
DaReba , attached to 1996-10-25 Permalink
Tube opener for Second set is pretty funky but you can hear how they are not there yet. still a little awkward , but fun, with the funk. Some of Billy Breathes material getting worked with Prince Caspian following

NOt a big fan of the song but this version is a bluesy rock progressive music display of talent. liked it a lot.

Timber Ho !!! Fish lets us know what's what from the get..

TMWSIY!! classic song. First since MSG NYE run. very pretty

Harry is a great ender. but a so so second
Score: 0
sislane , attached to 1995-12-11 Permalink
WOW!! I was taping, entire show was OK, then the encore came. The Civic Center exploded with energy! Sound & lights completely changed! One of my most memorable songs played by phish, most likely because Warren Haynes was on stage. My taping buddy Dave Minor (RIP) almost fell asleep, the encore blew him away. Great closing!

Score: 0
dscott , attached to 1996-07-25 Permalink
Not bad for a 50-minute shorty. Very energetic and crisp performance. Highlights include a charged Sample, a deft mid-jam segue from It's Unfinished into a frenetic no-nonsense Antelope, and a patiently euphoric Hood. Decent audience recording, taboot.

The brief Eurosets opening for Santana were hit and miss. This one is in the former category. Not a must-hear, but an enjoyable listen if you happen to make its acquaintance.
Score: 0
Clodd , attached to 2014-07-16 Permalink
Clodd Fun show. Mike's groove and Tweezer-reprise? double sandwich second set (page musta been hungry). This show was had less big jams and a bit more songs which I personally don't mind. Yes there have been more repeats this tour Wolfman's, Ghost (inside mike's) and of course fuego songs (which are growing on me).

Anyway much has been covered. The boys usual thing is to avoid repeats and try to be new fresh and innovative as possible. Well, ironically by relaxing and not worrying about the repeats they are in a sense doing something new. I had a great time. Lots were kinda beat, especially post-show when they forced everyone to shut down, pack up and leave.

.net loves bacon
Score: 0
4bobbyore , attached to 1992-07-21 Permalink
4bobbyore I was hurrying to get in and my friends were wondering why......some of them wanted to hang out before Santana but I just took off. Lots of people getting their funky down in the lots with more people asking where I was going and why was I in a hurry to get in.... and was able to walk all the way to the front. Musically they were decent. Nothing bad, nothing mind-blowing. I remember that Coil being pretty good but it was odd to look around and see nothing but empty seats. In a year these guys would return and sell the place out and it felt like a privilege to witness a growth spurt and to see them evolve. Something I still feel privileged to witness 22 yrs later.
Score: 0
n00b100 , attached to 2014-07-12 Permalink
n00b100 A really damn good show, a show that might stand out more if it wasn't played 24 hours before That One Show Everybody Likes. The first set's just okay, but the second set is exceptionally cohesive and boasts some very good jams, making for one of those whole-set statements that you only get when the band is in tip-top form. After a high-energy (if sloppy in parts) PYITE, Carini briefly devolves into dark squawking noise before Trey moves things into a more contemplative zone as loops fly and Page moves to the forefront, then Trey takes over again with soaring notes and the band rebuilds to a mellow groove before Page plays some squelching organ sounds, Fish starts up an almost tribal beat, and things close out nicely.

Ghost then steps up, and it's a darn fine version that starts out building tension between major and minor keys as Page stays on the piano until Trey gives in to his rock god instinct and starts firing off some solos as the band goes into Upbeat Rocker Mode. They build to a decent peak, then as Trey goes Laser Floyd Page takes things down to a slow boil, with Trey switching to chords and Fish doing some fine work holding the jam together. Page moves over to the clav and we get down and dirty (now is Mike's time to shine), as Fish really starts banging away and Trey plays some nasty licks. This jam also closes out quite well, with Page laying down some organ chords over everything, and a superbly placed Wingsuit serves as a nice landing pad from some very nice improv.

A fiery Rock & Roll comes next to bring the energy back up, and then Hood (the champion of the summer so far) brings yet another fab Type II version, as out of the usual Hood jam Trey and Page start messing around in a different key, settling on a more bluesy musical bed while Fish begins to pick up the pace. It's not too fancy and not the musical monster that the Hollywood or Mansfield versions are, but it's certainly outside the usual Hood envelope and it's actually something of a danceable jam, thanks to Trey (again) ripping off some sharp chords as Fish fires away on the toms, and the return to the Hood jam is as lovely as you'd expect (including a brief St. Thomas tease, which will return the next night to even better effect). That's as good as you'd want to end a set without simply sticking the Hampton Tweezer there, and a fine close to a glorious set.

Final thoughts: if you don't think that setlist flow matters, give the Pine Knob show a spin, where the band careens drunkenly from song to song in an effort to find the effortless fluidity they achieved tonight. One hopes this marvelous second set will eventually get the praise it deserves. Give this one a spin - you won't be the least bit disappointed.
Score: 1
lititzphan , attached to 2014-07-09 Permalink
I was spoiled last year I guess with seating and 4 of 5 shows rated in top 10. This is a hard show to review for me . Good not great,, felt like the Phans were waiting to be released into another dimension and it just didn't happen. I want to believe my review would be the same from Pavillion. I was happy to get my 1st Mcgrupp's also.
Score: 0
oh_kee_dono , attached to 2014-07-20 Permalink
oh_kee_dono Got home from the windy city a few hours ago. About to finish listening to last nights show again. I'm not musically trained so I can't make comments about what chords were used or how the transitions were made but I will say this: I have goose bumps. It is just as good as I remember from being there if not better. I think this one will stand the test of time. Great playing from a great band. I was there all weekend and last night was easily the best of the three. Do yourself a favor and at a minimum listen to Mike's through First Tube.
Score: 2
DeeBubba , attached to 2014-07-20 Permalink
This is my first review for PhishNet, and as a writer (who teaches English to pay the bills), any objective or constructive feedback is always appreciated. Let me also state that I will try to remain objective as well. I will briefly mention that I am not crazy about NI as a venue, and strongly feel that the only reason ticket sales dipped at Deer Creek and Alpine in 2012 is because of LiveNation's stupid oversaturation of the Great Lakes region, thus leading to the current, growing movement to bring Phish back to the Creek and the Valley - I am confident that if LiveNation simply did the proper market research and the band returned to one or both of those venues for 1 or 2 nights, the sales would be there. The oversaturation occurs when LiveNation books Blossom, Riverbend, DTE, 2 nights at Klipsch, and 2 nights at Alpine - just trim it back a bit and spread the dates a little - am I alone in thinking this way? And I am somewhat bothered by the band's apparent willingness to acquiesce to the demands of the insidious LiveNation, especially with the history and affection that they have for the Creek and Alpine. But I digress.....

Floor or Grandstand is a must for NI - I feel very strongly that Phish and LiveNation are really screwing the fans in the so-called "lawn" - I was in it for the 3-setter last year, and it was the single worst "lawn" experience I have ever had, given that you could not even SEE THE STAGE! So I was essentially there LISTENING to a show, which I could have done from home. While I know the chances of the band seeing this review are remote, I do hope that fans are bringing these issues related to the last couple summer tours to their attention. So, like the night of the evacuation last year, I insisted on Floor seats and secured a solid spot Pageside about 45 minutes before they took the stage.

Given the complaints about the rotation this year, I wasn't sure what to expect and was pleasantly surprised to hear "Gumbo" open the show - solid, funky version with the old-school piano outro. "Runaway Jim" has never been my favorite so I was glad that they kept it pretty standard. When it was followed by "Tela" I was a bit confused - it seemed an odd choice for early in a show when the crowd wants to get the energy going. Why not "Lizards" instead? "The Line" is not my favorite cut off the new album by any means, but I was impressed with the live version - it has more punch than the studio recording, rocking just ever-so-slightly harder as it plugged along. While "Scent" had some quirky moments of band interplay (Page and the mood lighting), it fails to compare to the "Scent" from 1st night in Chicago last year. I was also a bit surprised that Fish did not explore the Marimba Lumina a bit more. "Gin" was fun, as always, and pretty standard, and I'm sure I wasn't the only one caught off guard by "Silent in the Morning," due to the conspicuous absence of "The Horse." However, it segued into a decent "Maze," making for a nice Rift couplet. The 1st set was rounded out by a very solid "Ocelot" that featured some pretty inspired playing from Trey during the climax. "Walls" was a nice choice to close it out, making for a very solid first set with a nice smattering of song variety.

I knew DWD would open the 2nd set; in some ways the band has become much more predictable the last couple years (I also called the "Zero" encore). Just as it began to aimlessly wander (Mike began playing in the higher registers and the groove was lost), Trey dropped in with the dreaded "ripchord" (new buzzword of Phish tours) to begin a terribly-placed "Winterqueen." I say terrible not because it (like "The Line") is not my favorite new song, but because, as with "Tela", why would you immediately dial back the energy as the 2nd set is just getting started? As confounding as this was, I didn't have long to consider it as "Theme from the Bottom" was played with an energy that indicated the band was getting down to business. At this point the crowd should have been warned to buckle their seat belts.

"Mike's" may have been "standard" in its structure, but this "Mike's" means business; it's a serious "Mike's", hitting hard during the climax and bringing the energy level right back up. "The Wedge" began innocently enough, but this "Wedge" would be taken for a ride. Unusual for a "Wedge"? Yes - but so what? This wasn't noodling, meandering, or aimless wandering. This "Wedge" explored some very bouncy landscapes, toying with "Type II" territory throughout, including a very joyful chord progression from Trey that evoked, to the ears of many, the chords of "Paradise City" - or "Steal My Kisses," depending on your ear. After bringing the jam back around to finish "The Wedge," the band went into "Ghost," which keeps getting better and more interesting since the weak version from early tour. This "Ghost" jammed into almost disco-territory, and I'm not ashamed to admit that, as I boogied, I couldn't help thinking of Giorgio Moroder, or John Travolta dancing to "You Should Be Dancing" (oh how I wish they would cover that song). The Disco Ghost found its way back to a more typical "Ghost" groove, and then "Weekapaug" completed the set and the Mike's Groove suite. Toward the end of this fun "Groove," the band stumbled onto the Disco Ghost himself, acknowledging his presence out there in the wind and rain, before finishing the song and set.

While the "Character Zero" encore may have been predictable, what's not to like about a rocking "Zero" encore? Too many people are way too picky about way too much when it comes to this rotation, repeat, and "bust-out" business. I often wonder if these people aren't sniping away from a comfortable spot on the "couch tour," which in the realm of Phish shows has become a bit of an Ivory Tower. What made the encore unique was Page's sincere, heartfelt gesture to the crowd - speaking on behalf of the band, Page thanked the fans for not only a wonderful 3 nights, but also for allowing them (the band) to do what they love for a living. It was unexpected, thoughtful, and completely genuine, and the Cheshire grin on Trey's face indicated that they all concurred with Page's gratitude.

To conclude, this show is very solid overall, with many moments in the 2nd set ("Wedge" and "Ghost" in particular) that should be labeled as "highly recommended." From a subjective standpoint, it will fall into my rather large "good show" category (towards the top end of that heap), with the 2nd set being right up there with the best moments of this tour (and of 3.0) so far - to give context, pretty much every show I've seen since they reunited has been "good" or better, though I still feel that the best show, opener-to-encore, that I've attended in the 3.0 era remains Blossom from 2011. That said, last night's show in Chicago demonstrates that Phish continues to be one of the best live acts in music.
Score: 4
phan315 , attached to 2010-10-20 Permalink
Apparently its not noted anywhere but that night in Utica there was a kid front row with a sign saying Guyutica wearing a Mexican wrestling type mask I had a perfect view of him from the stands pratically next to the stage. Anyway whoever that kid was thanks About the show all i really remember is a ton of Guyute teases
Score: 0
DaReba , attached to 1996-10-25 Permalink
nice haha opening.
sloppy Taste but the jam is interesting . Fish is just a beast as he's been since the summer.
Makisupa Policeman!! always fun "Dank!"
I always hate when Mound starts but by the middle I'm always pleased.

Geulah another song I feel the same way about. Its cool to watch them play this thigh. So far a pretty heady Phish show. these last three songs might be the weakest of point of the Fall tour thus far. The boys playing old duddies that are fun but lack the inspired nature of the last week or so.

I didn't Know is always good again, the boys are having fun
And Trey basically says this right before Stash lol! HE tells the crowd that people always ask whats the best room and he said this is it.

Boy, did he prove it in Stash lol Immediate Type II jam for about 10 minutes. Crazy intense heavy psychedelic warrior fare. Must listen. top 10 stash ?

For sure this will go down as a top 10 Coil. Page's jam at he end alone warrants this. It is Keith jarrett like in its virtuosity. A must listen for sure.Page goes on for at least 6 minutes. all beautiful .

Very interesting first set. Maze Stash and Coil are all superb
Score: 0
MailOrderTicketStub , attached to 2014-07-20 Permalink
MailOrderTicketStub Allow me to start by saying this show is why I make it out to shows and why this band remains so beloved in my heart. Advanced apologies for this personal ramble...

The band reminds me it's never too late to get your shit together. I mean this in a sense of being someone who had some measurable personal achievement young and went to a dark place in that time with loss and just letting some of it go to my head and partially from being young and thinking I was invincible. Maybe a touch arrogant and certainly not grateful enough for how things worked out. Then it all fell apart for a few years.

When Phish came back in 3.0 I was coming out of a tailspin myself. This Sunday show like their UIC 3 night run touched me in such a genuine heartfelt way that it reminded me with some years added on to my life that I was lucky for what I had, foolish for how I behaved at times, learned a lot from taking a dip in my life, and that no matter how badly things fall apart... It's NEVER EVER TOO LATE to get it back together.

The sense of happiness and joy I saw pouring out of this band who is clearly sound in mind, spirit, and body was a vibe you can't reproduce going through the motions. These guys mean it and they are playing with real love for what they do and it translates into how they are playing this kind of show today.

They nailed this show top to bottom. I mean to where Trey and the band knew they lit Chicago up something fierce and their body language and expression showed that joy, appreciation, and groove. It isn't often you see Trey playing and looking up then pumping his fist and laughing because of how damn on point he the boys from Vermont were playing.

Here's my review... Look at the setlist... Then download this show and listen to it. Those songs are just titles. The show is music that sets itself apart from the mere title of a song and became music without braces we call song titles. They made live jam music inside these things we call set lists with songs. (I hope that makes sense).

They also did this with an old school lengthy jam that had the mid 90's spacing to it with the 3.0 sharpness and precision. Add the great weather and much improved vocals with a band that means it. I mean is clearly happy to be there and so much so that it was so honestly contagious...

I couldn't help jumping for joy witnessing it. They really put a show together that my words can't quite capture so I won't get into the song by song beyond what I've expressed so far. What I can tell you is if you want to hear something that basically says, "Wisdom, time, appreciation, and pulling it all back together (with a realization of how lucky you are), and expressed thanks to their fanbase...

GET THIS SHOW. They express all of that in this one. I put this one up there with Alpine 98 and UIC 2011 Monday Night...

The double encore says it all. The audience which you should be able to hear says it all again. What a fun energetic and genuine show this was. That's all I can get into. I know it lacked specifics and spoke in terms of other emotives... You know what? I don't care because all I can say is this show made me jump for joy and can't be captured in the words I'd try to describe it with beyond it inspired me in many ways as a person and was fun.

THANK YOU PHISH! I'm glad you stuck it out and I'm glad many of your fans did too. I for one am happy I got to see this day happen for you because it started helping me feel like I could make a comeback in my lifetime too. Since that 2011 UIC run... I have.

Score: 5
solargarlic78 , attached to 2014-07-20 Permalink

The Closer: Review 7/20/14
A Spectacular End to a Three Night Run

Like Saturday night, Phish saved the highlights for the fourth quarter. But, unlike Saturday night (a) the first three quarters had enough substance to not overly pressure the fourth and (b) the fourth quarter highlights were even more spectacular and unexpected. When Phish busted into “Wedge” out of Mike’s, I won’t lie — I was utterly unenthused with the song selection. Not only was it the fourth “Wedge” of tour, but it came on the heels of an interesting but short lived and one dimensional DWD and yet another (fiery) in the box “Mike’s.” Of course, no one would have expected Phish to play a 15 minute jam on Wedge. But that jam brings up another interesting question — do we evaluate jams on their pure musical merits, or does the context or unexpectedness of their “song” attachment matter? After the show last night, all the talk was about “The Wedge,” but for sheer musical inventiveness, in my view, the “Ghost” was the highlight. But, how many extra points does the “Wedge” jam get for simply being unexpected? I don’t really have a good answer, but my main point is: don’t forget this “Ghost.” This song has been the undisputed (well, in my opinion anyway) MVP of Summer 2014, but this version is like none of the others.

It’s amazing how a simple rare opening song — “Gumbo” (first since 1998) — and a bustout in the third slot — the wonderful, “Tela” (damn you @LivePhish…damn you to hell) — can quickly reinvigorate the stale and repetitive first set juices. The “Gumbo” not only included the funk breakdown that it has had since Fall ’13, but also featured the standard (and recently abandoned) “ragtimey” (don’t look that up) piano outro. “Runaway Jim” is my favorite opener and the two slot is great too — this version was quiet and patient. A good sign for the night ahead (even if it didn’t build to a particularly raging peak). “Tela” was well played, even if Trey kind of flubbed the final melodic line of the song (of course that was the exact moment my stream kicked back on). “Scent of a Mule” was just weird — the three band members congregated around the drums while Fish played his Marimba Lumina. Page inexplicably held out candles at one point, as if to provide mood lighting for the ongoing insanity. I don’t expect this one has much replay value. The “Bathtub Gin” marks the second-in-a-row in the box set 1 version. As usual, this one featured a glorious peak, and a “Scent” tease taboot. A horseless “Silent in the Morning” and a standard rip-roaring “Maze” followed — a nice Rift combo. I will defend “Ocelot” to the end — once again this slow blues drone jam featured dynamic interplay between the members. This one was more “peaky” than usual; and was the first song where I began to notice that Trey was employing a particularly fierce rock tone this night (for the guitarists, a lot of ‘bridge’ pickup, snarling blues licks, and power chords). “Wall of the Cave” has really developed into an amazing closer. The jam just explodes with the combination of Trey shredding and the use of his loops (and echo-plex) to create a raging texture of sound. All and all, an enjoyable if imperfect first set (but definitely the best one since Cmac).

The ‘history’ written about the 2014 Chicago run hinged on what happened in set 2. And, it got off to an inauspicious start. While certainly not as frustrating as the rip corded “Carini” on Saturday, the opening DWD jam simply lacked “oomph.” Much like the “Light” Saturday, it sort of meandered along through different rhythmic grooves. To be sure it was enjoyable, but never really “went” anywhere that could build to anything substantial. The segue into “Winterqueen” was effective and you should all enjoy it while this song is still fresh. The outro jam felt longer and more spacious and interesting than normal. Next came “Mike’s Song” and, given its inability to ‘open up’ lately (meaning the last decade at least), I had the distinct feeling this set was headed in the similar underwhelming direction of CMAC, Pine Knob, and Chicago 2. No second jam again, but this was a fiery Mike’s. Again, Trey’s rock tone was really working to create really nasty licks and runs. When “Wedge” kicked in I was ready to hang it up on the set. Boy was I wrong. I commented in an earlier review about how the “Wedge” is really a dynamic groove based in Fish’s very complicated drumming pattern. Phish has been playing it looser in my view this tour — so maybe we should’ve seen this coming. All it took was Trey repeating a note over and over again to create a hypnotic space that forces the rest of the band “out” of the Wedge chords. Page picked up on it immediately and blast off. The first half of this jam was more rhythm-groove based ala the DWD. Once again, the settled on a two beat hit pattern that created a structured groove. Page seemed to be toying with some “Crosseyed” teases on the clav (to my ear anyway) and Trey was stabbing along on the rhythm guitar. Then Trey found that chord progression. It sounded like “Paradise City” (maybe if the Grateful Dead played it — to really be a tease I think Trey had to switch on the distortion and go all Slash up in it with anthemic strums), or some other classic rock song, but I’m pretty sure it was just a nice progression Trey came up with on the spot with no “tease” in mind. The progression built to the point where Trey finally erupted in melodic soloing over the changes (finding a chord progression on rhythm guitar and building it toward a melodic peak solo was a great tactic in 2013 jams). Maybe the coolest part was as the jam petered out, Trey kicked back into the “Wedge” ending without missing a beat. Not only a type ii “Wedge” but a finished version.

Everyone was clearly blown away by that, but what came next was even better. “Ghost” has been amazing this tour, but it has also been relatively formulaic. Funk/rock vamps->bliss major key jam peak->abstract fizzle->next song. It was the demonic circus funk outro jam that set apart the Randalls version (even if the previous part of the jam had the same formula). This one was altogether different, and (perhaps an overreaction but…) to my ear the most musically inventive and interesting jam since the 10/20/13 “Tweezer.” At first Trey found some more anthemic rock chords he was strumming along (these sounded more “G’n’R” than the Paradise City progression!), but he started punching one chord in odd rhythmic moments. This allowed the rest of the band to create a more abstract and dissonant sound around Trey’s repetitive one chord drone. Eventually he developed an evil and almost ska-like rhythm pattern with this one single chord. As Trey layered loops around this chord, Mike, Fish, and especially Page on the piano filled in this dark, dissonant groove with amazingly thick textures. This one chord jam just thickened deeper and deeper until, out of nowhere, we found ourselves in “Weeakpaug Groove” (the same segue as Mansfield). This was a particularly playful version. The Weekapaug jam often vacillates between soaring melodic D mixolydian and thick, high-tempo funk. When they were transitioning to the funk last night, Trey thought, why not just “call back” the Am Dorian funk groove of “Ghost”? A perfect ploy as D mixo and A dorian are in the same key family of G major. The jam quickly went back to the D melodic jam and even threw in an odd “Stash” tease (odd because the show did not include “Stash” — I would have expected “Fuego”). “First Tube” played the same role as 7/4/14 — a rocking exclamation point on a monumental set. The only glitch was the overplayed encore choice of “Character 0” — I guess there was no time for “YEM” (Is Trey scared to play this after the SPAC debacle?), but something else interesting would have been more welcome.

We shouldn’t declare a show to be good if its only redeeming quality is the “fourth quarter” (which is oddly what people seemed to say about Saturday). This night featured a wonderful bustout of “Tela” and epic Gin to anchor the First Set and a deep groove DWD to open set 2. That kept me (at least) satiated for the massive and totally unexpected finish. Again, everyone will talk about the “Wedge,” but the diversion of “Ghost” from its formula to create a truly unique improvisation was the musical highlight for me.
Score: 8
TajMahalic , attached to 2014-07-19 Permalink
It might seem pretty easy to write off this show on paper -- numerous repeats, no signature jams, no off-the-wall curve balls we expect the band to throw out every now and again. And if we're strictly discussing the first set, I would be inclined to agree with that assessment. It was a mostly-jamless melange of standard 3.0 first-setters, a couple of new songs, the one-two ambien punch of Brian and Robert and Wingsuit (which, frankly, seems to work better as a second-set cool down in the wake of a fiery jam), and a few old favorites thrown in for good measure. Looking at a standard Antelope closer, you would be forgiven for thinking it's worth glossing over, too, but be warned: you would be wrong. After such a lackluster first set, the quality of this Antelope came as quite a surprise and whipped the crowd into an absolutely frenzy. It included a wonderful jam segment, and the high-energy reading and wacky Istanbul teases gave it a certain playfulness that is reminiscent of some of those fabulous 1.0 Antelopes that we all know and love. I know you have probably heard 1001 versions of this song, but DO NOT SLEEP ON THIS ONE! It's wonderful!

Going into to setbreak, I felt that the Antelope redeemed what proved to be a mostly-pedestrian first set, setting the stage for what I hoped would be an extremely strong second set from the boys. Ultimately, I felt we got exactly that and more, though it seems the opinion in not shared by all. To be fair, I understand, but I don't agree...

Now, I completely understand how, lacking the kind of exploratory jams we saw at Randall's Island or the unorthodox quirkiness of the previous evening's second half, you might want to write off this entire set as typical average-good Phish. On paper, it might look like a series of jams that failed to take off, leading to segues or ripcords into other jam vehicles that also failed. It may have even seemed that way over the webcast, though I can't say for sure. I will say, though, that the energy coming from the band through this seamlessly segued set translated incredibly well to those of us dancing on the lawn. While none of the jams took root and flourished in the way Phish fans especially like, there was not a single moment of aimless noodling or uncertainty. It's also probably worth mentioning that the only true ripcord of the night came during Fuego, stranding it solidly in the type-I category, but setting the stage for an excellent Twist. Much has already been said -- rightfully so -- about the wonderful Harry Hood in the penultimate slot, but I would be remiss if I didn't at least mention the exciting-but-compact Light jam, which seems to have cruised right under the radar for many due to it either being A) too short or B) too similar to other versions. But does such a reliable jam vehicle have to produce totally original 20-plus-minute jams to be seen as an asset? Likewise, do we need to pick apart the individual pieces of a set to determine how that set works as a whole?

The reason I ask these questions is because, from way back on the lawn at Northerly Island, I felt that this second set, taken as a whole, was an absolute masterpiece. Phish at their finest. Sure, it didn't include a three-headed monster jam like that Randall's Island CDT > Light > Tweezer, but the jamming throughout was masterful without a single second of wasted space. The setlist itself was immaculately constructed, providing a fluid range of emotions, colors, and hues. The songs were played with such finesse that they were perfectly suited to a wild Saturday night in the big city with a gentle Lake Michigan breeze in your hair and Kuroda's impressive lights in your eyes. Rather than judge the second set on the merits of each individual jam, try to see it as an immaculately crafted psychedelic whole -- a journey from the dark anxiety of Carini's lumpy head through water, fire, and light, finally concluding with a triumphant feel-good anthem for the ages and a celebratory cave party serving as an exclamation point.

And that amazingly quirky three-song encore? It doesn't get much better than that, people. A perfect epilogue to the harrowing journey of one very special set by one very special band. As I mentioned before, I can't speak to how this one translated via webcast, but from my spot way out on the lawn, the second set was magic. But, hey -- don't take my word for it. Give it another listen and see for yourself. I think you will be pleasantly surprised.
Score: 2
Login Register