, attached to 2016-07-18

Review by Philbombs77

Philbombs77 I wasn't at BGCA last night, nor have I been to any shows this summer. I will be getting my rocks off at Dick's in about 6 weeks - at least, that's the plan for the time being.....

But I listened to last night's show. In fact, I've listened to every show this summer except Portland and Great Woods. And with the exception of Hartford and Gorge I, the shows have lacked a coherent sense of purpose (sonic, thematic, and creative), are poorly executed, and are mostly forgettable. I want to forgive the missteps of the past month, especially when the band in question has delivered time and again in the past. But I can't. Any great artist, no matter what the medium, is a risk taker and the byproduct of taking risks can be failure, even for the creme de la creme of one's field. Picasso, Stravinsky, Kubrick, & Nabokov all swung and missed - however infrequently. But the point is: they all SWUNG the metaphorical fucking bat! It feels like half the time, Phish (or at least one member of the band) is standing at the plate and taking strikes one, two, and three without even a hint of moving the lumber off his shoulders. Another quarter or third of the time, he (they) will act like a National League pitcher and take one or two perfunctory swings for show (except you, Madison Bumgarner - a Giant among lesser pitchers who can't be bothered to take BP like it mattered).

I'm getting off course here. What I'm trying to say is this: if Phish decided to jam something else besides CDT, DwD, Carini, Tweezer, Light, and the other 2-3 songs that have been their third quarter crutch for awhile and fell flat on their faces, I would applaud it. Because I would at least know the effort was made. Hell - they DID do that...see Moma at SPAC and SSTTA last night. No pancaked faces though - both jams were sizzling. Sadly, they were rare exceptions. The much larger problem, though, is the fact that we're not even really getting the effort on the known quantities anymore. Hell - I would feel lucky if I went to a show this tour and they decided to take ANY song out for a real Type I or Type II spin. They've decided to play (nearly every night) 12-13 song first sets, derailing all chance for exploration and, really, even the remote possibility of tiny excursions off the beaten path. The Dead used to do this in the late '80s and '90s, but they made very little pretense about it. Instead, they played 7-8 pieces, sometimes wrapping things up in 45-50 minutes, took a nice long setbreak, and then went to town for a 1.5-2 hour second set that almost never wanted for jamming and imagination. It didn't always work - and for the last four years the results were pretty piss poor - but at least they fucking tried. Phish doesn't seem to be trying anymore. They can decide, ahead of time, to go ahead with a five or six song set and let the chips fall where they may. They can decide, ahead of time, to not play "The Line" or "My Sweet One" or "Devotion to a Dream" or "Farmhouse" which are salient and predictable momentum killers. They can decide, ahead of time, to commit to a Ghost or a Jim or a NMINML and take swing after swing, even if it results in screwing themselves into the ground. But they at least have to SWING the FUCKING BAT! If you love baseball (which I realize most of you don't), you wouldn't go to Fenway or Wrigley Field to watch almost the entire lineup walk or strike out looking. Whether you plunked down $50 or were gifted the tickets - it wouldn't be worth your time. Unless Phish starts putting in the effort and going into each show with a mentality of aggression, risk-taking, and, yes, winning the mf'ing game, I find it harder and harder to justify spending a couple of minutes, let alone a couple of hours, listening to them. For the first time ever, I'm actually pondering selling my Dick's tickets and doing something else over Labor Day weekend. It makes me both sad as well as angry. I've been committed to this band since the late '90s and I'm worried that they're starting to give up. I know it's selfish - I don't have any delusions that my motives for wanting them to try harder are altruistic in nature. But I can't help it.

I welcome the inevitable criticism to these comments, but, please, I beg of you, if you're the "an-average-Phish-show-is-better-than-almost-any-fillintheblank" pull your head out of your rectum before you respond to this post. Thank you.


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