Before everyone gets too mad and screams how I have no right to be critical of a band to whom “owes [me] nothing”, let me be clear that there are indeed positives to take away from last night. However, last night came down with a dreaded case of 3.0 TreyDHD mixed with some incredibly lackluster takes on what should be rocking songs–dad rock.
Because of the most slow (not slow in a cool, funky way. slow in a lazy, tired way) cookie-cutter Wolfman’s, a second-slotted Devotion, and one basic version of a stand alone song after another, the first set was about as bland as a Subway Cold Cut Combo. When they returned to stage with Mike’s Song, most figured we were in for a ride. While the second set does have some highlights, it was marred by Trey’s inability to be patient with the music he and his bandmates were creating.
There was good music throughout the second set that were like flashes in a pan. The moment something got good, Trey immediately moved it along into another song. The Mike’s Song was not good at all however. All of 3.0, we’ve pointed out how noticably slower songs like CDT, Reba, and Rift have been, but this tour seems like they are playing a whole new level of slow. Listen to last night’s Mike’s Song intro. It literally sounds they way I’d picture them playing it as grandpas. I’m not blaming the whole band, I’m blaming Trey. He got all the praise last Monday and now he’s getting some of the criticism here. Not only is it unprecedentedly slow, it lacks any of its patented bite, grit, or badassness that MAKES Mike’s Song. It’s actually offensive how bad it is. They should never play the song again until Trey understands how explosive that song is supposed to be. The Ghost that followed offered some hope.
Ghost reached an interesting groove, Trey switching between the NYE 10 approach and letting the groove open up with Mike. Until he decided to abort it for a completely forced Prince Caspian…then a Number Line. ‘Paug then started up…good…they have been crushing Weekapaug lately. This one started taking off. Trey was stepping on the wah and the band was doing a full-on breakdown of the song. It moved through some interesting pockets when BOOM: Cavern started. This might be the most random, ill-timed, and awful transitions ever.
The way they switched gears into Cavern in the middle of a second set, in the middle of a hot Weekapaug was so jarring, it’s hard to overstate it. So, okay, I guess we’ll do the Cavern thing randomly in the middle of the set. Next is my favorite part of the show. Piper started and the jam was at a tempo that actually matched Phish’s musical ability. The jam showcased some nice improvisation before landing in a perfectly placed Waiting All Night. I was becoming concerned that WAN would never leave the stand-alone first-set position that they’ve been carving out for it this tour. This pairing boasted just how pleasant this song can be segued into–reaching this euphoric dream sound almost. This version had the most pretty and soulful playing we’ve ever seen in the song. Will Piper > Waiting All Night be the new Tweezer > Lifeboy? I know, don’t jump to conclusions, but one can hope!
Tweezer started and excitement went through the roof again. However, every rational phan was thinking of how late in the set it was. There could be a decent size Tweezer still but knowing that Phish rarely closes with a Tweezer, chances for a real gem was slim. This Tweezer was basically non-existent. The only version that is even more of a nothing would be Telluride’s in 2010. All hopes being held for some meat and potatoes left when Fuego started. Yes, everyone loves Fuego, but at the end of a schizophrenic second set and to cut a Tweezer short is not any way to find your way into the hearts of millions. What was Phish doing? They played six, arguably seven, ‘jam songs’ in one set. To be fair, this Fuego was just as the name suggests, hot. It’s the best non-type II version to date.
They came out for the encore with about 20 minutes until curfew, when 2001 started (the first 2001 in an encore ever!) people were praying something would happen. No, just a 4-minute 2001 followed by a Possum. Possum was very slow too, it had some interesting quiet parts (I got the sense they were going after what they captured at Blossom in 2011′s version) but just an awful way to close a show out.
Pine knob had some very solid playing throughout and some good energy. But we don’t travel across the country to see a band play their songs solidly. I think most can agree that last night was the least interesting show they’ve played this tour–especially after the wonderful jams they’ve treated us to in the past week.
This probably sets Chicago up pretty well this weekend!
Listening back to the show, Yarmouth Road was actually pretty darn good–better than it normally is. This was also the second time playing this venue and both times they opened up with Wolfman’s.