I know the symbols bookending this review’s title are cheesy and something you’d see in a chain email from one 14 year old girl to another, but this show’s insta-classic Tweezer makes me feel just that giddy! Phish have been treating us to some fantastic playing this year, the best in a decade in fact, but last night they traded their tight-fisted pocket grooving and blazing hot rock for some mid-90′s exploration.
To preemptively address the inescapable comparisons people will have to the Dick’s Light, the two beasts are quite different. Light is non-stop jam segment after jam segment. This Tweezer is also made up of a series of jam segments, but each seems to be reached from the ground up instead of segueing into one another–very similar to some of the lengthy jams from 1994 and 1995. This Tweezer also relies more on patterns and themes created by [mostly] Trey for the rest of the band to follow and, in one part, the audience to follow. The jam starts with Trey immediately trying to build a pattern with some chords that leads to any other sounding 3.0 Tweezer. The jam settles down a bit to a point where they’d normally pull the ripcord in this era–they must have forgotten it was 3.0 or figured they were in soundcheck because they kept pursuing the improv.
Some of the segments sound like outer-space psychedelic funk, some parts peak explosively, and some parts sound like they are in a Slave to the Traffic Light jam. The end jam is quite emotional in that it harnesses the passion of a Slave jam; it’s amazing. What also makes this jam special is that the entire crowd plays a part in creating this artwork, the crowd spontaneously goes “WOO” at one of the stops in the jam and Trey shows that he heard by creating more musical openings for the crowd to yell before his guitar screams back into the rock portion of the jam to come back to a peak. I believe there are three stop/start segments in the jam that the crowd participates in including the very end after they’d returned back to Tweezer’s theme. After the 36-minute monster (8th longest single Phish song according to YEMBlog) was wrapped up in a nice little bow,the beautiful Tela they went into was icing on a massive cake. The “WOO”s continue with the beginning of a laid-back, groovy Twist that followed.
At this point, most people figured this was going to be a “T” set, with all the songs so far starting with the letter “T”. Architect’s start squashed any idea of a letter-based set happening though. The set-closing Run Like an Antelope was blistering-hot–another song that’s found its roots this summer after years of being quite flat. Trey provides some more openings for the crowd to “WOO” during the end segment too. The crowd also throws a “WOO” reprise into Tweezer Reprise during the song’s buildup!
Set 1: Chalk Dust Torture, Camel Walk, Sparkle, Back on the Train, It’s Ice, Brian and Robert, Yarmouth Road, Kill Devil Falls, Lawn Boy, Ocelot, Stash
Set 2: Tweezer, Tela > Twist > Architect, Bouncing Around the Room > Run Like an Antelope
Encore: Julius > Tweezer Reprise
 Golden Age tease.
 Included call and response “Wooo” with the crowd
 More “Wooo” from the crowd
The first set was also great (I know, I’m totally pulling a Mr. Miner by talking about the second set first). A slower CDT teed up Camel Walk nicely–in fact, the entire show, including the first night in Tahoe, featured a pretty laid-back feeling. This relaxed take on their jams was obvious in the pleasant and to-the-point BOTT. It’s Ice featured a cool Golden Age tease during the jam segment. Kill Devil Falls and Ocelot gave everyone time to dance under the sun before the tension/release-filled Stash that ended the set. Stash has been getting better every year of 3.0 and it has made its biggest improvement in this year–they have incorporated untraditional forms of jamming in it along with the peaks that the song was built around. The last time Stash close a first set was 11/22/2009 and the time before that was in 2000–not a common occurrence.
Last night was as Phishy as it gets (seriously, there were NO covers). This summer has been focused around fantastic improv contained in 15-minute-or-less songs, which I have totally been loving. I have been comparing this year to their style in 1993: great improv, great segues, and great quality playing (only with all the bells and whistles they’ve acquired throughout the years). Last night, however, showed everyone they are able to still go out and a limb and explore a musical ocean in front of thousands of people. There were three or four opportunities to pull the ripcord and start up another song (perhaps Silent in the Morning again?!) but the band decided to keep peeling back layers of the onion and the results were outstanding. This summer is turning into one of the best ever.