The Mullins Meetprize

10.23.10 (Dave Vann © phish 2010)

Phish’s Saturday night show was a song driven affair; however, it was anything than a typical, straight-forward show. Phish, again, broke down barriers that seemed to have been constructed with their return in 2009. Phish continued to surprise with unusual song placement, improved segues and unmatched musical flow. Phish was spewing musical ideas and creativity.

Phish started the first of two nights at the Mullins Center with the only-ever Meatstick opener. The last time they played the song was in Broomfield, where the song was the stand-alone encore. It’s another reminder that Phish is no longer sticking with the show structure that they followed so closely up until this fall. When Party Time came shortly thereafter, it seemed like we were in for an all-out celebration show.

After an unusually placed Golgi Apparatus and another sweltering Kill Devil Falls, the third first set Tweezer emerged. With the last two Tweezers, Bathtub Gin, Wolfman’s Brother and David Bowie, one can only assume that Phish is finally bringing back some set one improvisation. Last night’s Tweezer featured composed swagger and improvisational patience. The jam contained what might be the best example of Trey showing true musical patience–after coming at him for nearly two years about being too anxious, having ADD and jumping the gun on everything, he finally put this 1st set masterpiece together. The whole band took a “less-is-more” type of approach and hosed down the crowd before slipping into an Lawn Boy interlude.

10.23.10 (Dave Vann © phish 2010)

Sparkle followed and raced into a completely unexpected BBFCFM which put anyone’s doubts to rest about this show being standard. When HYHU quietly started after the loud rocker, the shit hit the fan. We had not heard an HYHU since Miami, when Fish gave away his vacuum. This might be some common knowledge that I have just not stumbled upon yet, but what is the deal with Fish’s vacuum? Does he still have his old one that he apparently “gave away” or is he using a different model? Am I just totally out of the loop on this?

Nevertheless, Fish asked to be turned up so he could hear himself and went on to joke with the audience about them wanting to hear more of him. He credited Syd Barrett before playing the first Love You since Miami.

10.23.10 (Dave Vann © phish 2010)

People wondered if Possum would close the set out, but Trey unexpectedly launched right into Tweezer Reprise. The last time Tweezer Reprise had been played in a first set (other than the Tweeprize madness that occurred this summer) was in Miami on 12/28/2003–nearly seven years ago. Not only did the placement make this Tweezer Reprise unusual, so did the fact that all the “step into the freezer” lyrics were changed to Meatstick Lyrics.

Another major thing to note, that I have not seen mentioned by anyone else, is Mike’s “BOOM‘s” in the beginning to Tweeprize. Mike was noticably louder for the few “booms” in the beginning of the song in Broomfield, but last night was out of control. If you don’t know what I am talking about, listen to the clip below. For as often as Mike is referred to as “dropping bombs”, these are real Mike bombs. This was shaking the internal organs of everyone in attendance. (Unless you have a decent computer sound system, like with sub-woofers, you probably won’t notice how low Mike’s “bombs” really are)

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10.23.10 (Dave Vann © phish 2010)

Phish came out for their second stanza of music with their second Down with Disease in as many days–both opening a set. Hey, i’m not complaining. Last night’s was different from the Dunk’s guitar solo fueled rendition–last night’s dove head-first into improvisational creativity. It was their most impressive version since Alpine’s summer Monster. This particular Disease did not follow the usual DwD jam formula; straight rock > closed hi-hat 3.0 “funk”. This jam deviated from the song’s path nearly immediately out of the gates.

Mike’s bass sounded menacing, fitting for Halloween being 1 week away. After Trey navigated us through the weird sounds of his delay loops and the band’s sprawling creativity, he tied it all together emerging with razor sharp guitar leads. Fishman came up immediately to join his partner on their trip to sonic Nirvana. Trey kept some of the spacey loops going behind his soloing guitar which is obvious once his lead quiets down a bit. The whole jam melts into a psychedelic soup before seamlessly segueing into a totally unexpected My Friend, My Friend.

MFMF was left unfinished to move right along into an unfinished Prince Caspian. Caspian featured a mellow and short jam eventually giving way to one of the best segues we have witnessed in the past 10 years. The segue was so good that many didn’t know we were going into Page’s Halfway to the Moon until we were fully in it. It’s a true masterpiece of song fusion.

Mike uses his 3.0 synthed bass in the jam exiting Halfway to the Moon which sets the band up perfectly for Trey’s entrance to a short and bulbous mid-set Boogie On. The string of uncommonly-together songs comes to a screaming end with the first Maze of fall. I know I keep saying this, but this Maze is probably the best Maze of 3.0. It seems like everything they have been playing lately is the best of the last two years.

10.23.10 (Dave Vann © phish 2010)

Wading in the Velvet Sea provided a soothing break from the string of super high-energy playing before going into a standard (and totally over-played) Piper. All Pipers seem painfully similar to the next–this one ends up rolling into a beautiful Harry Hood. Hood showcases Trey’s patience that we saw in the Tweezer earlier; while it doesn’t peak like we have come to expect in earlier versions, it’s a quality version–much better than the last.

You Enjoy Myself closed the second set. Like South Carolina’s, this version’s jam starts real low. They let Mike and Fish lay the foundation of the jam before Trey comes in. Unfortunately, it’s also similar to SC’s in that Trey rushes to the end without properly peaking with the entire band. Shine a Light was the encore.

With Phish playing this way, every show is entirely exciting. I have no clue what to expect next. So far this fall tour is shaping up to be historic–it’s already the best tour since 2000.