, attached to 2011-07-01

Review by pmc2kd

pmc2kd Ah SBIX... 5 years removed, this festival remains a peak experience for me in terms of capping off a nice run of shows, a good overall year, and just an amazing perfect camping experience.

But, vibes aside, we came for the music.

Set I:
Possum opened up in cheeky fashion. Shrugging off the haters and blowing everyone's lid early with some guitar fireworks. I thought this was a strong version. Good opener.

Peaches...yes! GREAT treat and really well played.

Moma Dance was next, and I was expecting a standard version, but this one smoked. I kid you not it had extra swagger and a great guitar solo from Trey. Fire.

Torn and Frayed is rare and a great Stones tune, so that's a big home run in my book. Good version, they nailed it.

NICU brought back the dancing vibe we had in Moma and Possum and slotted in nicely as a jolt after Torn and Frayed.

Bathtub Gin offered the first canvas for the fellas to stretch their legs. They did so with a nice patient, but fiery Gin that hit the highs of the typical 3.0 versions. Fishman was an animal and Trey delivered a really strong well constructed solo. This version isn't in the pantheon, but it's good. More so, this was just a great release for everyone, band & fans alike.

Trey took a moment to say how relaxed they were since they were going to be there for like 4 days or something. He made some comments about encouraging the guy in the Ferris Wheel to take a leap (jokingly) and mentioned bringing a big mattress in next year (..ok we didn't come back till Magna, but hey, they made it back, sans mattress).

Life On Mars? was more magic. Like Peaches, they nailed this rarity and it felt so right after a lot of rocking tunes.

My Friend My Friend kicked in and brought that darkness we all love to the set. Great placement and a fine version indeed.

Wolfman's Brother is always welcome and this brought us back to the rocking funk. This is a GREAT version. It's not exploratory or overly long, but the playing is top notch. There's a great funk section and Trey leans on the wah for a descending sequence of notes that is just perfection (with Mike and Page doing absolute work). They get through the dance jam and turn towards a rocking peak. Fishman comes in at the absolute perfect moments with some incredible fills and drives Trey to a raging peak. The climax is great and Fishman is simply a man possessed. Those fills are the stuff of legend for me. Ok you get it, I really enjoyed this.

Roses are Free was a welcome cover and they played this one well. It's a definite favorite in the cover department.

Speaking of covers they kicked into a rocking Funky Bitch. High energy tune for a pretty darn energetic set.

A final cover - Quinn the Eskimo - which deserves to be mentioned / annotated in the setlist. This is the finest version they have played of the song. It's great.

Overall set I: Wow, what a way to kick off a festival. No lulls here, plenty of rarities/covers, and plenty of great (albeit type I) jamming on some classic Phish tunes.
Highlights: Peaches, Moma Dance, Gin, Wolfman's Brother, Quinn the Eskimo - generally a top to bottom well constructed and well played first set.

So festival jamming is pretty much legendary from the early days of Clifford Ball Mike's to Went (both set IIs) even to Coventry, which had some monsters, we expect a lot from the jams in the festival setting. So what did the Ball deliver?

Set II kicked off with a dark jam of the comical variety, which I hoped was a signal of intent for the whole weekend. It was fun, but still contained some odd and interesting interplay and some evil laughter until....

Crosseyed kicked in. Nice call (lot of covers already?). This one was a tight and fiery version that peaked pretty hard with the whole band playing well and Trey providing some great notes. After the peak they faded out into a nice spacey segment. It had that 2011 outro jam feel where a lot of songs weren't super long but had a nice 2-3 minute jam tacked on the end that bled into another song. This one was nice, with everyone contributing to a really pleasant space. Trey eventually got a good idea and started strumming the opening to Chalkdust.

I thought the segue was quite smooth and sort of gave CDT a more relaxed feel. The jam was interesting and at times hinted at breaking through to a major key jam without ever truly departing. Overall a really nice take on the classic with some interesting playing throughout. Great opening sequence.

Sand was a great call, and while this one had stayed pretty comfortable type I throughout 2009,10 &11 (with a notable exception at Camden '09), it was a festival groove that was a joy to be a part of. The whole field was bouncing and grooving. The jam was also quite good. It was in the box, but Trey was working some great lines, with Mike and Page really interacting and weaving around. They brought this to a nice peak.

They dove into the Wedge next. I thought this was also a nice placement, even though not a "jam" song - it was a nice breather from the ample jamming of the first three songs. It's a personal favorite as well and fit the beautiful weather and vibe nicely.

They kick into Mike's, which gets pretty serious pretty quickly. Even at 7 minutes or so there's plenty of room for the band to get down and dirty. The darkness and solitude of Watkins Glenn provided a great landscape for some menacing, snarling licks before they pop into Simple. Nothing out of the 3.0 ordinary, but it was a good not back to the darkness of the opening jam.

Simple was the jam of the day (weekend?). This one had some fantastic interplay from the outro and they slid from that nice melodic jamming to some pretty gnarly, feedback drenched, psychedelic soundscapes. Trey was making good use of the phrase sampler and looping some backing notes that slid in and out, while Page was able to continue building/layering noise on top. Mike was hitting that echoey bass effect that filled any remaining voids and Fish was drumming the way only he can on these atmospheric jams. Trey eventually hits the melody from Third Stone From the Sun which elicited a good crowd reaction and they bled quietly down into Bug.

I thought this was a nice spot for Bug as we hadn't really had any slower tunes. They hit the jam and it was really nice. I thought the playing was fantastic in the jam.

Horse>Silent was a bit of an odd choice after the Bug slowdown. I sort of thought Weekapaug would have been good to just kick in the energy. It was fine, I suppose.

Weekapaug emerged out of Silent and kind of fizzled. Maybe they were just feeling a bit tired after playing so much music already, but Unlike all of the other type I jamming that seemed to rage to fiery peaks, Trey didn't seem super engaged and this one felt pretty darn short and unsatisfying.

Joy...man I got hit with a ton of late set II joys in 2011.

Zero brought back some rock and roll. It's predictable, but I think it was good to bring back some guitar driven rock after sort of an odd backend of set II.

Encore was Show of Life... damn, I got a fair number of these ones too...

Overall Set II: This one came out of the gates in fine fashion and really was fantastic up through Bug. From Horse onward they kind of lost it and the playing wasn't as crisp either. Nevertheless I actually really like the set, specifically the Xeyed, Sand & Simple.
Highlights: Jam>Crosseyed->Chalkdust, Sand, Simple

Overall: This was a fine way to open SBIX. In fact, I would say Set I was one of the stronger I have seen and remains to this day a set I re-spin (so much fun, great songs, and really good in the box jamming). Set II was similarly fantastic until it took a left turn. Simple also gave us enough of a taste of type II glory to keep dreaming of big jams on day II.
4/5 Well above average in spite of limited exploratory jamming...


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