Tonight Phish moves all the way to the East Coast for a sold out show at the smallest venue of the summer, the nTelos Wireless Pavilion. Holding just about 6,500 fans, tonight’s show is sure to be intimate and probably off the hook.
So far Phish has taken a fresh approach on a number of fronts; song selection, song placement and the sound of their jams. In three shows Phish has already managed to reach back and play old favorites like Curtis Loew and Jesus Just Left Chicago, they have managed to cover new songs and play new originals–all flowing together nicely. They are showing a rejuvenated Phishy playfulness in their approach to playing songs too.
Phish has already had some stand out jams, too. The Ghost->Limb by Limb allowed Mike to show that he’s ready to groove this tour and that Trey is still trying to be creative with looping guitar licks and playing atop them (end of Ghost), I write about it here. The epic set closing Mike’s Groove at Blossom was one of the best things I think of the first three shows. The ferocity and darkness of Mike’s Song that night was long overdue. The well executed delicateness of I am Hydrogen was refreshing. The real intro to Weekapaug Groove was exciting, almost as exciting as the fact that this version actually went somewhere and showcased a happy, newly inspired Trey at the reins again.
Harry Hood is starting to get his swagger back–the playful intro to the song at Blossom showed the band isn’t playing textbook versions of songs like they may have done a bit too much in 2009. The odd placement of the song (2nd song set 2) showed they are going out there and playing what seems right at that moment. The jam, while not too amazing, was for the first time not boring and certainly pretty. Trey getting his guitar off at the end during the “you can feel good” part was refreshing. The well coordinated bass and drums throughout the whole You Enjoy Myself jam in Hershey was possibly the tightest I have ever heard Mike and Fish be with each other (well that whole show). The Chalk Dust Torture returned in 2010 with the intensity and accuracy it deserves. Twist finally got it’s foot in the door with a worth while jam, again, thanks to Mike’s dripping bass.
But the most notable jams, the jams that give us a glimpse into the future of Phish, come from two songs over the past three concerts. Backwards Down the Number Line and Drowned from Blossom and Hershey, respectively. The #line went far past the song’s structure into a type-2 jam. Page accented the dark improv perfectly with Mike coming in with some destructive, heavy hitting bass guitar. The way Phish landed in the ode to their twisty past, Twenty Years Later, was almost tearful how well it was done. Phish had just merged two new songs in a way that sounds like they have been playing them for years. Backwards Down the Number Line and Twenty Years later finally found their place in Phish’s life.
Drowned gave us a peek into what 2010 Phish funk is going to sound like. Since 1998 (for the most part), Phish has left their patented funk on the back burner–after listening to the floor drop out from under us (thanks to Mike again) during Hershey’s Drowned, you could tell that Phish wants to bring back their white boy funk. Not as much funky Trey with his wah pedal style, more like Mike driven nastiness. Mike is obviously playing a much larger role in the jams this year than ever before.
Along with Mike’s larger role and louder style of playing, Page has been crushing the audience, too. Out of the first three shows, Maze, Funky Bitch, Instant Karma!, Stash, Backwards Down the Number Line, Harry Hood, Suzie Greenberg and Mike’s Song really stand out. Mike and Page are only getting better with age–I think right now they are at their full ripeness. Trey and Fish would be smart to let Mike and Page lead a lot of the jams this summer. As of now, these two players can’t do nothing wrong.
Tonight, hopefully, will come out boasting the biggest jam yet of the summer. There are still a lot of usual rotation songs that have not been played that we can look for tonight. Bathtub Gin, Tube, First Tube, AC/DC Bag, Guyute, Kill Devil Falls, Stealin’ Time from the Faulty Plan, Joy, Rift, Taste, Theme from the Bottom, Loving Cup, Back on the Train, Heavy Things, Punch You in the Eye, Lawn Boy, Wilson, Foam, Undermind, My Friend My Friend, Frankenstein, Seven Below, 2001, Moma Dance, Slave to the Traffic Light, Dirt, Poor Heart, Contact or 46 Days to name some.
Also, look for Tweezer Reprise to come out tonight–They played Tweezer but no reprise two nights ago which is not normal. Let’s see if they finish what they started.
There is also a slight possibility of Tela because they soundchecked with it at Toyota Park.
To everyone going to the show tonight–HAVE FUN!