Phish finished the final night of their three-concert stand in Bethel, NY yesterday with a show that boasted a diverse setlist and some creative playing. Although the jams didn’t quite tap into the electrifying realm that the jams of the first two nights contained, Phish treated the crowd to a fun early Memorial Day celebration. The weekend mini-festival is officially down in the books as possibly the most exciting set of tour-opening shows in the band’s history. Speaking of enjoying history, Fishman spent some time at the Woodstock Museum earlier in the day with his family–he got to meet some of OPT.
After two nights of unexpected openers, Phish went the traditional route and kicked things off with an AC/DC Bag. Sample and Rift paired well with the familiar opener before dropping what might be the most summery song in their catalog, Ocelot. The ebbing Ocelot eventually yielded to the song that’s tied for most summery feeling, Ya Mar. Trey referenced Saturday night’s Makisupa silliness when he changed the normal “play it Leo!” to “take it to Leo’s house!”.
Set 1: AC/DC Bag, Sample in a Jar, Rift, Ocelot, Ya Mar, Timber (Jerry) > The Oh Kee Pa Ceremony > Suzy Greenberg > 46 Days > Twenty Years Later, The Ballad of Curtis Loew, Run Like an Antelope
Set 2: Mike’s Song > Simple > Weekapaug Groove, Meatstick > Fluffhead > Joy, Also Sprach Zarathustra > Light > Slave to the Traffic Light
Timber’s appearance was certainly welcome. After the well-played version, it was time for an Oh Kee Pa Ceremony. As expected, Suzy followed. I’m hoping that one of these days the band will catch us off guard and launch into a Bag or YEM afterwards. Suzy was the first song of the night that got the beautiful venue shaking. Rage McConnell was now in the house. It seemed like Trey was attempting to go back into the end of the song a couple of times only to find that Page was blowing right past his cues to continue playing.
Without taking a breath, 46 Days arrives–if 2009 was the year of spacey 46 Days jams, and 2010 was the year of raging 46 Days jams, 2011 seems to be the hybrid year. After some sweltering solos off the Ocedoc, the jam sinks into deep space. The jam arrives on their newest and darkest landing pad, Twenty Years Later.
The now not-so-rare Curtis Loew arrived for some stunning sun-setting musical work before hopping into the expected Antelope set-closer. Trey worked in very well-placed Curtis Loew teases into the beginning of the song before teasing Manteca delicately, but surely, in the beginning of the jam segment. Trey sounded great during the short jam that followed–it seems like Trey has been playing far more accurately than 2010 in just the first three shows of 2011 (not including 1.1.11).
Instead of saving Mike’s Groove for Mike’s 46th birthday at Pine Knob this Friday, they decided to open up the second set with a raging Mike’s Song. Good, yes. Longer than most 3.0 versions, yes. Mold-breaking, no. Phish is overdue for a bust-out version of the song–2011 is the year to do it.
The longest jam of the night came in the following song, Simple. The jam reaches a pleasant place. It wasn’t mind-blowing or face-melting–it was just a nice, clean jam with nice textures. Just as soon as the jam continued taking a turn for the dark, Fishman quietly brought the Weekapaug Groove drumbeat in. The beat grew louder and louder, phasing out the Simple jam. The very short version made up for the slightly longer Mike’s Song–I suppose.
Meatstick shook loose memories of New Years Eve still fresh in many fans’ minds. This is a song that’s ripe for extended jamming. The sound and tempo provides ample backbone for 3.0 Phish’s jamming style. The song included the Japanese lyrics and didn’t go very far before going into a poorly placed Fluffhead.
Despite being an all-time favorite Phish song, Fluffhead still needs to be carefully placed. People want improvisation in the second set. After 4/5 songs not containing any real jam, fans may tend to hope that something other than the tediously-composed Fluffhead shows up. Joy followed Fluff’s soaring peak–horrible placement. However, Phish saved face with a number that got the whole place back on their feet, 2001.
2001 features some dirty jamming by Page and Mike–shit gets real. The dance party came to an end and Trey started up Light. Although the placement was weird, Light was well-played and featured a well-thought jam before segueing into a set-closing Slave. Although Slave didn’t reach the majesty of NYE’s just five months earlier, the soul-searching jam moved well from being chord-based to note-based. The beauty of the song’s jam gave everyone in attendance (or #couchtour) time to reflect on the wonderful holiday weekend we had just been blessed with.
When the band left the stage, the same thing was on everyone’s mind: are they going to play Tweezer Reprise? Although I had a hunch it would be Sleeping Monkey > Tweezer Reprise, the band came out with ol’ reliable, Loving Cup–which was then followed by Tweezer Reprise. It was a fitting end, it bookended the glorious weekend with Tweezer, a song that is pure Phish–just like everything in-between contained.
In conclusion, last night’s show was solid but nothing we’ll remember for very long. I think YEMblog‘s Scott Bernstein summed it up best with the post-show tweet, “Hope my bus ride home is standard and lacking exploration, safe and fun – kinda like tonight’s Phish show”.
Tune back in Tuesday morning for the entire weekend summed up and what it means for this summer’s tour. Things are looking good, people.