Phish matched the energy of the room Monday night with an impressive and somewhat top-heavy outing. With many highlights in the first set and the second set starting extremely strong, the latter half of set two seemed to be taken over by Trey’s need to cram huge songs into the end of a show, showing little regard for show flow or song placement.
The show featured Trey playing about as intricately and impressive as he has since Phish’s return in 2009; in both the first and second set Trey’s precision was showcased by twisting and turning through jams and into another song. Aside from killing what could be a killer Jibboo early, Trey seems to have moved past the phase of him awkwardly killing jams for another song. Is he still impatient? Yes; but he is much better about being impatient. The whole band was bringing their “A” game last night.
Set I: Runaway Jim, Foam, Back on the Train, Wolfman’s Brother > Reba, Hally’s Comet > Tweezer, *What Things Seem, Squirming Coil, ^Antelope
Set II: The Golden Age -> Piper -> Camel Walk, Alaska, Gotta Jibboo, Wading in the Velvet Sea, Twist Around, Fluffhead > Backwards Down the Number Line
Encore: Sleeping Monkey > Tweezer Reprise
* Mike Original, 1st Time Played ^ Marco. Polo! Crowd interaction
Phish came out to an ecstatic crowd, most of whom were in attendance the night before. The show opened with an old-school duo of songs: Runaway Jim, Foam. Back on the Train helped turn the mood more dancable and warmed the crowd up for Wolfman’s Brother.
The two Wolfman’s Brothers this month have been particularly short, comparable in length to much earlier versions of the song. However, now they inject the song’s dense funk into that time frame. This version, instead of Trey soloing out of the gates of the composed section, the jam broke it down immediately. The crowd responded the second the jam turned on a dime for funkier waters.
Almost instantly after the end of Wolfman’s, Phish started up Reba. While Reba was executed well, it never really peaked–that’s not to say it was a bad version, Trey played well; he just didn’t come to the peak so many of us are dying for in the song. Alpine’s version from this summer still stands head and shoulders above the rest of 3.0’s versions.
Hally’s Comet flew by us in the second first set appearance of the year. It was just used as a means to introduce another song–this seems to be its role in 3.0 Phish, no more jam attached. Trey started Tweezer–yes, another first set Tweezer! It seemed like this isn’t something that was communicated properly because Fish didn’t seem to be ready for the quick transition. I was, of course, greedy and hoped this would be a monster that would close out the set–I am just itching for a serious first set jam to come our way. While I didn’t get what I wished for, we all got an intense first set jam. Trey provided fierce and on-point leads over Mike’s slapping, Page’s color and Fish’s straight-forward rock beat. Trey eventually hits a peak that Fish accents with a roll right before going back into the Tweezer theme and slooowing it down before chatting between each other about the next song.
Phish debuted a second song in as many nights when they dropped Mike’s new original, What Things Seem. The bass starts the song, with Trey and Page accompanying with some rolling chords. The song is a slow groove with Mike on lead vocals. I’d like to see this song again, but seeing as how it’s not a Trey song it will probably be buried after this show and will only surface again this November during Mike’s tour. What Things Seem, Idea, Dr. Gable and Halfway to the Moon need to come back and evolve. Sorry, Trey, not much room for Summer of ’89 to evolve–at least not for the better.
After faking everyone out with another fake set closer, Squirming Coil (Page was great), the real set closer came out, Antelope. Although the Antelope was musically standard, Trey felt the need for some fan interaction. In an attempt to see how carefully his audience was listening, Trey said “Marco?” during the normal “Marco Esquandolis” segment of the song. When Trey asked “Marco?” again, the crowd immediately responded with a resounding “POLO!”; Trey did this a few more times before setting the gearshift.
Energy was electric after such a high-intensity set with so many highlights. Phish took another long set break, between 30 and 35 minutes.
The lights went down and the fans stood up; Phish came out to play Golden Age, the T.V. on the Radio original. This is the second time they played this song, the last time was on 11/27/2009 in Albany. Phish seems to have adapted this song pretty well, it’s one of those covers that sounds like it was made for Phish. When the song’s outro started digging deep I exclaimed “here comes the Broomfield jam!”. While it was jammed out a bit, the jam quickly dropped into musical muck before gently segueing into a face melting and mind bending Piper.
Piper was very short and, thanks to Trey, segued wonderfully into Camel Walk. Golden Age -> Piper -> Camel Walk is about as random as it comes, but Phish made it sound like it was one composed song; it’s a true highlight of the show and sure to be a highlight of the run.
Unfortunately the show starts becoming less creative and more awkward from here. I suppose because Hally’s Comet and Tweezer (second set songs) were dropped in the first set, some first set material needed to be dropped in the second; a through-the-motions Alaska graced our presence. It couldn’t hold a candle to some of the other blazing 2010 versions that preceded it.
The Gotta Jibboo that followed provided some serious potential for a real jam; up until this point, Ghost had been the only song that contained and true free-form jamming. And, while tonight’s show had been certainly impressive up until this point, we were still looking for some non-distracted jamming–something that isn’t immediately looking to go into something else. Needless to say, Jibboo was nothing special at all. Trey went right back into the end before Page started up a quite pretty rendition of Wading in the Velvet Sea. Unfortunately it wasn’t played to let everyone catch their breath after some balls-to-the-wall jam.
Twist Around started very quietly out of what was left of Wading. Twist offered a delicate jam, with Trey and Page playing off one another quite well. Mike took an understated lead for a while with some bulbous bass lines. Trey tried to work off it with some distorted notes, accompanying Mike. Mike quickly bails on Trey and Trey goes back to his normal tone. It is important to note that the band sounded very chill and laid back during this, especially with Fishman’s quiet-groove drumming style in it. The song could have really went into some uncharted territory if they wanted it to; instead, Trey went back into the closing “woo!”s before heading into Fluffhead.
Fluffhead wasn’t very welcome by people looking for some second set jamming, they knew that it was just taking up 15 minutes of valuable time. Nevertheless, this version’s end peak soared. Trey blew the roof off with it. Everyone expected this to close the set, but in a completely unexpected and weird move, Trey went into a sub-par and rushed Number Line.
It would be one thing to close out the show on a number line if it was a huge rager, but this version just kinda limped by. The jam got real low, as if they were going to take it into some type II territory. Instead, it just never came back up and just ended. Cramming Fluffhead and Number Line into an amount of time that probably isn’t appropriate for the two songs was pretty irresponsible–too much, Trey, too much! They encored with Sleeping Monkey and the inevitable high-energy Tweeprise.
Despite the end of the second set containing some out of place songs and not containing many jams, yet again, the show as a whole was wonderful. Nothing bad can be said of Trey’s improved Ocedoc playing. He led the band through twists and turns, like a sonic roller coaster. They had first set jams and put together songs that normally don’t go together. On top of that, there was high-energy from both the band and the crowd, especially following the hilarious band/fan interaction in Antelope.
Tune in here for live streams and setlists tonight. Bathtub Gin, Down with Disease, YEM tonight?!