Shaking Off the Rust

12.28.10 (Dave Vann)

Phish returned to the DCU Center in Worcester for a second concert that would boast more flow and better playing (from Trey) than its opening night. Between a first set laced with playfulness, interesting song selection, bustouts, and debuts, and a second set with coherent flow and quality musical meshing, Phish constructed a concert that was clearly building off of their late-fall success.

Set 1: Kill Devil Falls, My Mind’s Got a Mind of its Own, Alaska, She Caught the Katy and Left Me a Mule to Ride, Wolfman’s Brother, Pigtail, Stash, Bouncing Around the Room > Rift, Stealing Time From the Faulty Plan, The Birdwatcher

Set 2: Carini > Backwards Down the Number Line > Back on the Train -> Limb By Limb> The Wedge > Frankie Says > Albuquerque, Harry Hood > Bug

Encore: Shine a Light

The show’s entertaining first set kept all in attendance on their toes. It was kicked off by 3.0’s version of Chalkdust Torture, Kill Devil Falls. After My Mind’s Got a Mind of its Own, Alaska started up. The beginning of it had a number of quick stops in the music, at first I thought they messed up the song, then there was a voice coming out of the monitors at each collective stop which ended up being the voice of former Alaskan Governor, Sarah Palin. The quotes I could gather upon relistening to the recording are, “Stop makin’ things up!”, and, “Alaska” (repeated a number of times).

12.27.10 (M. Ostromecki)

She Caught the Katy and Left Me a Mule to Ride was bust out for the first time since 323 shows (7/21/98), a song that people have been anxious to see return. Right now, I am unsure how many unique songs Phish have played this year. I know last year they broke the record for most different songs played within a year, and I think they are close this year. I am thinking that they are going for the record again. If you recall, a lot of different songs and bust outs occurred during the Miami run in order to break the record. The songs that have not been played in 2010 up until the two nights at the DCU Center are as follows:

  • Cool it Down
  • Mound
  • My Mind
  • She Caught the Katy
  • Pigtail
  • Birdwatcher
  • Frankie Says
  • Albuquerque

It certainly seems that Phish is going for the new record; eight first time 2010 songs within two nights. Expect a lot of bustouts in the three nights ahead, people!

Sarah Palin in Alaska 12.28.10 (Dave Vann)

Wolfman’s Brother extended what they formed with the song during the Fall Tour; it was dense out of the gates, short, and had a rocking end. Trey came up particularly nice. Shortly after the song, Trey commented about a song Tom and he wrote, Pigtail. After they debuted Pigtail, Trey launched into a quite impressive take on Stash.

Stash is one of the songs I have been awfully critical of over the past two years. I see Stash as a great barometer as to where Trey stands with his tension/release jamming–the type of jamming I think embodies what Phish really is. Each Stash over the past year has been getting better and better. Trey was finally getting his intense tension back during the song’s jam, however, he was having trouble with the screaming releases that should come before going into the end of the song. Last night’s version was a huge step in the right direction. While there is still a lot of improvement for his releases, Trey doesn’t just go right into the end of the song after the tension has been put in place. Trey is moving in the right direction; it’s good he remembers what that song should be all about.

Birdwatcher 12.28.10 (Dave Vann)

After a gorgeous Rift, thanks to Page, the boys launch into a scorching-hot Stealin’ Time. By the way the end of the jam became so rocked out, I was fairly certain that this would close the set–instead, Phish played the Birdwatcher for the first time. The a capella song off their 2009 album, Party Time, had only been played at TAB shows (full band style) until last night. I hope they sing it more often, it’s a fun new a capella piece, and I’m sick of Grind. It’s also noteworthy that they closed a set with an a capella song–something they don’t do often anymore.

The poll I had running yesterday gave OPT fans a chance to pick the three songs they thought Phish would most likely to play in last night’s concert. Some picked correctly, others did not. The results:

As you can see by the bold choices, I guessed Down with Disease, Antelope and Stash. The only songs on that list that were played were: Number Line, Kill Devil Falls, and Stash.

12.27.10 (Dave Vann)

The concert’s second half starts with a short Carini that boasts some psychedelic layers from Page before awkwardly switching from complete darkness to complete happiness by going into Number Line. Aside from the unsettling pairing of songs, Number Line swings away from its usual jam for a bit. For a while, I thought we were going to go into an open ended, type II version, but Trey comes back into the theme and ends in a beautiful fashion. Again, Number Line is one of my favorite new songs. You never know if you are going to get a soul wrenching version that blows the roof off before going back into the lyrical refrain, or get a completely open-ended jam monster.

Back on the Train served up a lot of the second set’s meat with an impressive jam that contained yet another Streets of Cairo tease from Trey–a song he has been teasing throughout the year. Trey led the band into Limb by Limb via a seamless segue.

The end of the Wedge slipped away into the tranquil dream, Frankie Says, a song that I have been dying for them to play again. Although it was played last year at the Fox, this version fits far better into the set. They hold onto the slow lucid dreaminess of the song by segueing into the second Albuquerque in ten years, the last being in Cincy last year.

12.27.10 (M. Ostromecki)

Hood came next–a song I have been regularly critical of since Phish’s return. I feel that this song no longer has any creativity or the life-changing peak it was once known for. However, this version is different than the others. They take the beauty of the beginning of the normal jam a lot farther than usual. Trey and Page play notes swirling around each other while Fish lightly switches over to the cowbell, and Mike drives this jam into a new, uncharted territory for the song. Mike’s poppy bass lick is completely original to both this song or any other. Eventually, Trey gives a bit of feedback and the jam starts to morph back into its usual sound. While there is no patented Hood peak at the end of the jam–at all–the originality of the beginning half of this jam makes it worth relistening to over and over again. Out of the song-ending feedback came the set-closing Bug.

They encored with the second Exile on Main Street song in as many nights by playing Shine a Light (Loving Cup was the night before).

Greg throwin' bows...again. 12.28.10 (Dave Vann

Last night’s show is a huge stepping stone between the DCU Center’s first night and the MSG show tomorrow. As I said many times before, tomorrow (12/30) night’s show is going to be THE show of the run. I couldn’t be any more pumped for these shows. To all who are going, be safe and have fun. To all who are streaming: I will try to have any available fan streams up on OPT’s Live Stream page (always the homepage during a concert); if you are purchasing the official stream, make sure to still hit up OPT chat!