Phish came out at the intimate 1st Bank Arena for an impressive outing. Building off of what we noticed at the ACL festival, Trey and Fish continued to be particularly impressive. The show consisted of a typical 3.0 first set and a silly, jammed out and well strung together second set. Trey’s improved dexterity with the Ocedoc was truly impressive throughout the show.
Many were expecting Kill Devil Falls or AC/DC Bag to open the tour; the band came out and threw down the second Chalk Dust Torture in as many shows; nevertheless, it got the impressively small and new arena moving. The overcast and on/off rain outside wasn’t able to put a damper on the intense energy from the fans, once inside the energy only grew. The usual characters were on rail, unlike the night before for the Wildfire Benefit or at ACL; Phish was finally touring again.
The Ocelot that followed the opener was played with a bit more of a groove, it came to less of a peak than this year’s summer versions. As most of you know, I am against this song being played in an arena–I think its only place is in the sunlight of an outdoor show. Ocelot is a weird arena song; while it elevates energy on a beautiful day, it just slows down a show indoors.
A well executed It’s Ice followed and bled into Bouncin’. The first set really started taking off with a hot rendition of Funky Bitch–a song that has really become impressive in 2010. Mike sang the lyrics in typical 2010 fashion, stretching words and repeating himself. While I think Alpine’s Funky Bitch may have been the hottest of 3.0, this one comes in an arguable second. This version yet again showcased the tightness we can look forward to in this fall tour.
AC/DC Bag has been a song that I have been critical of since their return. A lot of times it isn’t performed with the same amount of energy or excitement as years past; this as been getting better as 2010 has been progressing. While this version’s jam isn’t extraordinary, it complimented the blazing Funky Bitch very well.
NICU glued the AC/DC Bag with Moma Dance together. While still playing short versions of the funk rocker, Trey’s precision sounded wonderful in this version. No scratchiness or trouble keeping up; he seemed to be attacking it with some swagger. Right as the song stopped, Trey rang out the opening lick to Horn. While some people don’t care for this song, it was a passionate and well played version.
Stash came next, kind of later than it usually is in a first set. Again, Trey highlighted this with his impressive leads. It’s almost as Trey was trying to change up how the melody sounded during the “clapping section”, throwing people off. Out of the gates, entering the jam, Trey noodles with tension and direction–like he should in this song. The rest of the band, especially Mike, play a great supporting role in building the tension for what we all hoped to be an epic release by Trey. However, Trey kinda flutters away during the release and the song is ended. I want them to blow the roof off a Stash so bad again, maybe it will be the next one. They closed the set with Golgi.
Mike’s Song echoed through the rafters shortly coming out for the second set after a 35 minute setbreak. It stayed in form, but was particularly intense. Trey didn’t go through any odd or distorted or energy killing segments like he often has in 3.0. After ACL and this second set, I really think Trey has moved past the whaling and playing jam killing guitar parts that hardly can keep up with the rest of the band. It sounds like they have been practicing during their time off. Back to the song–Trey comes to a shredtastic peak before the song snaps into Simple. Out of Simple comes Ghost (yes, Trey scratched out the beginning again–I don’t think that’s going away any time soon)–the second tour in a row Ghost appeared in the second set as the third song.
Ghost’s jam started with Mike playing particularly melodically, Trey remaining a bit more ambient. Mike interjected his heavy synthed bass, just like it was summer again. Trey, not to be outdone, starting soloing above it. For a short amount of time it sounds like they might go into Moby Dick, but rather Fish switches over to the hi-hat and they all lock in beautifully.
The band continued improvising, with Fish starting up on the wood blocks and Trey playing repetitive punctuations of notes with Mike in tow. Eventually the jam loses connection with their satellite and large guitar bends (a la Alpine Piper 2009) come out of the speakers before Fish snaps into a short and more spacey version of Weekapaug than usual.
Weekapaug would end the segment of any real improvisation we would see that night, however, it didn’t kill any of the fun. Fee came next, with Trey waving around his megaphone a la Deer Creek’s. It’s so nice to see that he seemingly has brought the megaphone back for good. Phish went into their usual spacey and ambient outro before reggae filled the air by segueing into Makisupa. Trey said a number of things throughout the song, like their last version (like “woke up in the morning, alien on my face; woke up this afternoon, and I turned up the bass”)–however, one notable thing was that he made a pot reference. I honestly can’t think of the last time he did that; he said he “asked an officer is rank” and then he “handed him the dank”.
All of a sudden, Trey stopped the Makisupa jam and stated they would be playing a new song – like a more mellow way of how he thanked the crowd during Maze on 7/06/1998.
The new song would be My Problem Right There; an upbeat rock song that was light hearted and contained a segment where the band just stopped and snored. It’s good to see they are writing songs that are a bit goofy, again. I don’t know if we could take anymore Summer of ’89s, Joys or Let Me Lies. I don’t love Phish because of their tear jerking and inspirational lyrics. Although the song was tongue and cheek, it wasn’t all goofy. It was played because, as Trey announced, it was another song they had about a Police officer. The moral of the song is that you can be the thing keeping yourself from happiness. They briefly went back into Makisupa before segueing into a wonderful Slave.
The Slaves seem to be getting better and better and more and more soulful with each take in 3.0, and this was no exception. Many, including I, thought this would close the set, but when they played the second Strange Design of the year, we all knew we would be in for another song before the encore. I figured it would be Antelope, but they opted for a blazing, explosive Julius before encoring with Loving Cup.
While the first set was very standard, the second set was a refreshing opening stanza of what is sure to be an impressive tour. Trey seems to be locking with his bandmates much better than he did for a lot of summer tour. He is no longer getting ahead of himself or struggling keeping up, albeit it’s still early to say for sure. Things could not look better right now.