From OPT’s Luke’s Corner: Groove Fest Summer ’10

From Luke’s Corner


Groove Fest Summer ’10

    The summer tour is almost halfway over, and we’ve been given a LOT of material to talk about the last 3 weeks.  We’ve seen an unusual amount of new covers, new songs, old school bust outs and revamped classics to bring phans to the threshold of a new Phish era.  I’m extremely impressed with the band’s attention to detail, an element that’s been soft the last 7yrs or so.  Again, it shows an enlightened approach to the music.  I was blown away by the crisp, new sound of Alumni Blues and BBFCFM in Camden.  Other than the previous performance of Alumni Blues, 11yrs ago, nearly every version of the song is from a small club in the north east, where sound quality is anything but clean.  Hearing it from last Friday was incredible.  The contemporary tone and clean sound of every band member made it almost surreal, like it was digitally enhanced from an early performance in the late ’80s.  While there are many standout moments of the tour, I strongly believe there have been a handful of standout CAREER moments this tour.  
    My focus is to highlight the 3 most standout stone cold grooves phish has fed it’s phans thus far.  The three most bottom feeding bass throw downs, that nearly brought me to tears, caused me lose my composure, and induce involuntary dancing are; YEM – 6/13/10 Hersheypark, Sneaky Sally – 6/22/10 Mansfield, and 2001- 6/25/10 Camden.  
    YEM – 6/13/10 Hersheypark:  Last year’s MSG YEM led me to believe that Phish does in fact have the ability and desire to bring back the dirty, groovy Mike/Fish inspired YEM jams of ’98 and ’99.  YEM is only one of a few songs that truly gives the Mike/Fish duo a routine opportunity to drop the floor out of the arena.  This MSG version was no exception, led by Mike, the jam’s protagonist and co-stared Fishman as the badass sidekick.  Without going into great detail, credit is also due to Trey and Page who kick it into high energy mode to bring the jam to an orgasmic peak, leading into the heaviest bass and drums this millennium has seen.  Once again, on the fateful night of Sunday, June 13th, Mike tears a chapter out of ’98/’99 YEMS and rips a watery wake of wet, electronically hammered grooves into the blissful Pennsylvania sky.  The band however, doesn’t hook up quite as well as the ’09 MSG YEM, but space between Page’s solo and the band build up is pure phuncadelic Mike kept in rhythmic harmony with Fishman.  Mike is proving he’s the bassist of yesteryear, taking not only the lead, but center stage in these dance party extravaganzas.  If this YEM doesn’t put a smile on your face, you’re clearly a long way from your homepage.

    Sneaky Sally – 6/22/10:  When I first heard this version of Sneaky Sally, I was getting a workout in at the gym.  The “Sneaky Sally” segment sounded tight, and Mike had a sassy bounce in his licks, taking an extra funky step into the limelight.  However, when the “Mansfield Jam” segment ensued, I nearly lost all composure.  I was sitting at the shoulder raise machine and started geeking once Mike led the band out of the progression and into a one key lazy river.  The effects he is using this tour are obviously new, but are so clean he must be sterilizing his equipment before every show.  Not only are the effects clean as an operating room, Mike has passed the course and received his license to groove with a complete disregard to life.  This Sneaky Sally showcases the Jerry-Garcia-like “wah” combined with a non-phaseresque wetness.  So beautiful.  This version ranks just next door to the 12/30/97 encore version in my book.  Oh yea, I just went there, comparing ’10 Phish to ’97 Phish…somebody please check my temperature. 
    2001- 6/25/10 Camden:  And then the Creme de la creme so far, the EPIC 2001 from Camden.  There have been better “musical” moments this tour, no doubt.  But as our ears and minds adjust to ’10 Phish, we’re learning to appreciate the playful, creative, and eccentric personality Phish clearly still exhibits.  6/25/10 marked the one year anniversary of Michael Jackson’s death..a feat not to go unnoticed by the most originally commemorative  band ever.  2001 had it’s time as a monster jam vehicle, mostly in the ’97/’98 years.  The past few years it’s been more of a go-through-the-motions kind of song (as so many other songs have become).  It’s still fun, and it’s always a great showcase for Koroda on the light board, but usually doesn’t leave anything to write home about.  Well my phriends, get out your ink and loose leaf because EVERYONE WILL WANT TO HEAR ABOUT THIS 2001.  This 2001 showcased two Mikes, of the the Jackson and Gordon variety.  Trey teases ‘Wanna be Startin’ Somethin” early in the jam, to the crowd’s audible delight.  This ignites the party in the seats and on the stage, Mike using the same effect from the Sneaky Sally noted above.  If you’re not dancing by now…check your legs, they’re paralyzed (fyi).  The next MJ tease is from Cactus, driving home a stellar Billie Jean lick.  Now for those of us familiar w/ the Billie Jean bass line, Mike isn’t quite there.  But who cares?  You know where the band is taking it, and how cool is that?  Not very often does a jam band, if EVER, cover a Michael Jackson song.  Trey scratches out the simple chord progression and manages to get about a verse and a half of lyrics in.  By now the crowd is ecstatic, lights blazing, and bouncers at the door checking people into the dance club.  Trey teases a PERFECT Thriller guitar lick…very impressive, I must say.  Billy Jean is teased some more, and by the 8:30min mark, Mike LAUNCHES a submarine into the abyss, popping out disco-like grooves.  Listen closely at the 8:50-8:56min mark for Mike’s hottest lick of the year…2yrs?  I’ve rewound those 6seconds so many times already, and still can’t believe how it grabs my attention…this is what I’ve been waiting for, for a LONG time.  MIIIIIIIIKE!  Can’t wait to hear the dog daze shows starting tomorrow in NC.  These guys are not slowing down…