Wednesday 08/17/2011 by pzerbo

UIC3 RECAP

This recap was a collaboration between @pzerbo and @lumpblockclod.

Phish closed out yet another successful tour at the UIC Pavilion tonight that has seen visits to an outstanding and diverse set of venues and witnessed a solid dose of innovative and thrilling jams. From the awe-inspiring natural majesty of the Gorge, to the shining spectacle of Phish under CK’s light’s at the Hollywood Bowl, to the blissfully peculiar hybrid of Vegas and Telluride that was Tahoe, and the history-drenched over-sized party of Outside Lands in Golden Gate Park, the tour remarkably gained yet more steam as it went indoors to conclude in Chicago. The quality of performances in Chi-town have caused even the most JadedVet™ to stand and applaud, with gloriously extended improvisation (“Waves” -> “Undermind” on 8/15 and “Down with Disease” on 8/16), debuts (“Babylon Baby”), rarities (“Let it Loose”), extended encores on both of the first two nights and all-around solid play. Heading into the final show of the leg, expectations ran high and, as always, anything was possible. Let’s dim the lights.

Uh, wow! “Colonel Forbin’s” opener? The first show-opener since 11/3/89 at the Tree Café in Portland, ME (1,249 shows), Trey opted against the narration to play the sequence straight into a well-played “Mockingbird.” A punchy “Gumbo” followed, great energy but typically restrained “for 3.0.” Then the shocker of the evening... nobody saw it coming... “Possum!” The 12th “Possum” in 31 shows this year (~39%), the work-horse of recent setlists, you’ll hear no complaints from this camp – the Outside Lands “Possum” was also ‘capital AW’ awesome, FWIW – and it rocked the house, as always.

Why... “Weigh!” The first of 2011 (last played 12/31/10 MSG), this version of “Weigh” perhaps referenced the many carnivore-friendly local culinary options (from @chopcg via @YEMblog: “Weigh is for all the fans who will be weighing themselves after gorging on Chicago pizza, hot dogs, Italian Beef & sausages.”) Then a crisp > into a perfectly placed “Divided Sky” that delivered the requisite “extra mustard” for said sausages, as it has for much of 2011. Then a much needed pause... ahh.

The set then slips back into second gear with a languid “Alaska” that provided a brief respite for folks to catch their breath before “Bathtub Gin.” This version stayed mostly within the lines – nothing quite approaching the Bethel version of 5/28/11, for example – but was surely satisfying for all in attendance, and after a brief pause gave way to the always high-powered “Maze.” Rocking hard– nothing out of the ordinary for recent versions. Then a high-energy “Cavern” and to-the-house “First Tube” closer, with the “crowd going apeshit” (@chopcg). Party time! Great set... fifteen minutes!

Set two starts out with the now ubiquitous “Crosseyed and Painless” (11 of its 23 performances have been in 2010-11) To be honest, typical of 3.0 “C+P” this version didn’t stray far from the main theme, before dissolving into a delightfully spacey wash with strong hints of “No Quarter” before cleanly, if not compellingly, dropping into the song proper (a relative shame in a run with little to complain about, since the Rhodes piano intro to “NQ” has the potential for a majestic segue every time they play it). No sooner did “No Quarter appear to open up into a jam than it morphed into “Timber.” “Timber,” which had been teased or hinted at several times this tour, in turn contained extended “Crosseyed” teases (SPOILER ALERT: this may become a theme). Much like “C+P,” “Timber” quickly became spacey before giving way to “Tweezer.” The band plowed right through the composed parts of “Tweezer,” before again opting for the spacey route.

Caspian” follows and reins the energy in a bit before yielding to a welcome “Piper” whose jam was briefly reminiscent of the monster 2/16/03 Vegas “Piper,” (aka the “Viper”) before dissolving back into a spacey wash and returning to the “Crosseyed” chorus. Then, the funk: “Ghost!” Fantastic setlist call. Unfortunately (first world problem, no worries) a quick ripcord in favor of “Makisupa.”

Keyword referenced some of Trey’s favorite music ("Dank Sinatra," "Nat King Bowl," “Harry Chronic Jr.,” “Herby Hancock” and “Van Inhalin”) and, of course “Page’s House!” Then the bust-out of “Sleep” followed (last performed 8/7/09 at The Gorge, 105 shows). A typically brief but always welcome “Buffalo Bill” bent over next, giving way to the first set closer “Golgi Apparatus.” Then the penultimate second-set closer “Character Zero took over, with even more “Crosseyed” teases. Then the “final answer” set closer: “Run Like an Antelope.” Not merely content for “C+P” teases, “Antelope” also delivered a “Makisupa” tease. The Phish always surprise, I suppose. “Fish’s House” drum solo! What an energetic, rocking, fun set! Well done, sirs.

Funky Bitch” continues the charge with yet more “Crosseyed” vocal quotes, laying down yet more funky goodness. “Show of Life” is not nearly the perfect seltist choice for everyone, but creates some space before the best 2+ minutes in rock and roll, “Tweezer Reprise” with the now-obligatory “Crosseyed” vocal refrains throughout the song.

UIC3 was perhaps lighter on the jam and heavier (much) on the teases than the first two Chi-town, but there is no way to end talk of this run other than on a positive. Great show! Good times, Phish fans. Be well. We’ll see you back for recap duty over labor day weekend.

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Comments

, comment by nichobert
nichobert Loving the mid-show review!

Can't wait to see what you write about the

Vultures -> Taste> Ya Mar -> Round Room -> The Lizards, ASIHTOS second set!
, comment by waxbanks
waxbanks Less 'review' than 'recap' in the Television Without Pity sense. Um, yay Internet?
, comment by pzerbo
pzerbo @waxbanks said:
Less 'review' than 'recap' in the Television Without Pity sense. Um, yay Internet?
To be clear, buddy, I think FAR less of your writing than your clearly lowly opinion of mine, k? Thanks.
, comment by whatstheuse324
whatstheuse324 Wow! Second set should be ridiculous.
, comment by GottaJiballer
GottaJiballer Can I just say, mid second set, that this 3 night run in Chicago has been the best thing that has happened to the band and the phans in a long, long time. Second leg this summer has built and expanded on everything built since Hampton 09. Long live the influence of the Storage Jam!!
, comment by PhishMarketStew
PhishMarketStew does this open the door for a possible "mid set review"?
, comment by AngelMarie
AngelMarie The author has removed all of the text from their comment
, comment by nichobert
nichobert @GottaJiballer - We'll see.. It's way too early to tell. Let's not forget how promising the first two nights of Bethel were before a lot of the same frustrating things about 09-10 popped right back up again..

I'm not listening to the show so I have no way to tell, but tonight's set II looks like the kind of set that a lot of people were looking to get away from (ok maybe just me lol)- the ones where they play truncated versions of a dozen classics.

IMO, if you're going to play Crosseyed, Ghost, Tweezer, Timber, Caspian, Antelope, Piper & Zero in a set, its going to have to be insanely long to do them justice- it doesn't *need* to be that way, but I've never heard a set with that many 'jam songs' that actually flowed well together. Probably because its a relatively new development. Those are all great songs, but every one of their crowd pleasing reputations is derived from the versions where they were allowed to flourish and not be bottled up with a bunch of other songs.

The thing is, with the way Phish has been playing the last few nights they very well could have approached it with cohesion in mind. It will all come down to the way they improv. They've done some excellent concise segues- or if not segues- working a jam into a vibe that meshes with the next song's before starting said next song. But on the other hand, it's so reminiscent of a lot of recent sets where they rushed through a bunch of great material- presumably faster than they had intended to- and started the "encore" in the middle of the 2nd set.

I'd be happy to be proven wrong and have this be a Bethel-type show where each song feels wonderfully placed. The first 3/4 of the second set looks pretty smooth but I wouldn't be surprised if the wheels start to come off after Makisupa.

I'm hoping for the best, but prepared for this show to just be one of those ones where Phish is playing for the audience in front of them and not thinking about it in a larger context. Fine by me, after Waves-> Undermind-> Steam this band can do whatever they want to me and I'll beg for more
, comment by deaconblue
deaconblue Just left the show. Second set was unbelievable. Cross-eyed teases throughout...speechless right now.
, comment by goatsticks
goatsticks shortest ghost ever?
, comment by tmwsiy
tmwsiy Call me a hater, I loathed that second set. Shame really as it was a spectacular 3 day run in totality. Definitely some fun and I'm sure everyone there had a blast. Take away all the c&p teases and quotes and I imagine many would be left with a different impression of set. I do love Sleep, No Quarter is cool, & I'm one that actually really likes Show of Life as an encore but as a whole, the set simply didn't work for me on any level whatsoever.
, comment by Tsac77
Tsac77 For the record... Tweeprise was longer than Ghost!
, comment by nichobert
nichobert Seems like there's this weird concensus that if Fishman is yelling stuff or the band is repeatedly teasing something that it takes a show to the next level.

In 1998? Yes, most definitely. But as it happens more frequently, it starts to feel gimmicky. You know what would REALLY make Phish sound like they were engaged in their music and invested in their future as a band? More segments like Waves -> Undermind -> Steam where they go "Hey, people might not know these songs so well but they'll fit together perfectly and make for a great set"

The concept of the SET seems to be flickering on occasion. One night, everything will tie together perfectly, the next it's like they draw straws for the first 6-7 songs and then roll the "IIC/Encore" roulette wheel to find out which 3 encore songs to play in the 2nd set and which 2 to save for the actual encore.

The individual highlights- from 20 minute DWDs to added/altered solos in Mound & Farmhouse have been incredibly impressive, but in all honesty we're seeing very little in the way of cohesive sets of music this year. I'm curious about this other audience that exists and writes Phish loves letters for playing their 18 favorite songs in the 2nd set ;)

This set looks like PNC II..Plus Golgi, Sleep, Caspian, Buffalo Bill, Makisupa & Zero.
, comment by lonesome_sparrow
lonesome_sparrow Why is it that the consensus seems to be that Phish has to stretch everything out ad infinitum in order to have successful jams?

I first saw Phish in the early nineties and I continued to see them regulalry through Cypress. In addition, I have listened to a great many of the shows they have played over the last two and a half years and I have seen them twice in the last nine months. With that in mind it is hard to fathom some of the comments I see posted here. Phish is clearly a much tighter band now than they were ten to twelve years ago. The all around musicianship and interplay is simply astounding, even on off nights.

The notion that songs need to be stretched out for twenty and even thirty to forty minutes to be successful is simply absurd. I was there when they stretched Runaway Jim out for 50 plus minutes in Worcester and it was amazing but one of the things that made it amazing was the fact that it was so rare.

Personally I find that Phish is doing much more in less time than they ever did in the nineties. There were plenty of times I saw them where Trey and Fish would be playing tag and Page and particularly Mike would not seem to be privy to where they were trying to go. It often felt like parts of the extended jams were simply them all trying to get on the same page with each other. Clearly that still happens occasionally but from what I am hearing it is much more of a rarity.

I appreciate the fact that we all have opinions and I understand that many of you have seen Phish far more often than I have. Nevertheless I am somewhat taken aback by the unrelenting emphasis that is always being placed on the length of time that they play a particular song. As a musician I would much rather see the emphasis being placed on the quality of the musicianship (which is unparrelelled in this genre of music).

Am I the only one who appreciates these arrangements and compositions for the genius they embody? I mean its fun when they stretch things out but longer improvisation doesn't necessarily equal better improvisation. I have to tell you that I have experienced plenty of extended jams that go nowhere, fast or slow, and as a musician I am at least as interested in the manner in which they improvise during the lyrical structure of a song. I mean its nice to get spacey every once in a while but no two versions of these songs are exactly alike - nor should they be - and who are we to expect that they will jam things out for a similar length of time every time or in the way that we think that they ought to? Seriously folks its them up there playing the music. What if they've played enough 30 to 40 minute Tweezers to know that they don't want to go their all the time? That it gets dry or unfulfilling... I'm not saying it does, but again they're making the music so don't they get a say in any of this?

I feel the same way about the comments directed at the freequency at which some songs are being played, such as Possum. Clearly they enjoy playing that song. If you don't want to hear it so be it. But I want to hear them play the songs that they enjoy playing because I know from first hand experience that music tends to sound better when those playing it are actually enjoying themselves. And that for me is the real kicker. I have watched all the recent webcasts and I got to see them up close and personal at Outside lands and what I see are four guys who are having a blast and producing an ever evolving work of art in the process.

Personally I have been lucky enough to see some really amazing shows in the course of the almost twenty years that I have been seeing and listening to this band. I agree that they do not seem to be probing and searching the way they were in the nineties but I take that with a grain of salt as something that should be expected. This is a much tighter and much more mature band. With that said I think it is amazing that they continue to find ways to make things fresh and to try new tracks with their improvisation in the way that they do. It is hard to conceive of a rock oriented band in the history of music that can hold a candle to the flame that is Phish and just once I would like to click on this website and not be greeted by inane whining about the length of time they did or did not jam out a particular song or how freequently they've played chalkdust or possum or crosseyed and painless or how Trey is forcing Tweezer into Julius or Caspian instead of letting the jam develop.

I mean really if you want to do it differently by all means get up there and give it a go yourself. Otherwise why not focus on soemthing constructive???
, comment by lumpyheadstash
lumpyheadstash Thank you lonesome_sparrow. This tour has been incredible, guys.
, comment by custynoob
custynoob @lonesome_sparrow said:
Why is it that the consensus seems to be that Phish has to stretch everything out ad infinitum in order to have successful jams?

I first saw Phish in the early nineties and I continued to see them regulalry through Cypress. In addition, I have listened to a great many of the shows they have played over the last two and a half years and I have seen them twice in the last nine months. With that in mind it is hard to fathom some of the comments I see posted here. Phish is clearly a much tighter band now than they were ten to twelve years ago. The all around musicianship and interplay is simply astounding, even on off nights.

The notion that songs need to be stretched out for twenty and even thirty to forty minutes to be successful is simply absurd. I was there when they stretched Runaway Jim out for 50 plus minutes in Worcester and it was amazing but one of the things that made it amazing was the fact that it was so rare.

Personally I find that Phish is doing much more in less time than they ever did in the nineties. There were plenty of times I saw them where Trey and Fish would be playing tag and Page and particularly Mike would not seem to be privy to where they were trying to go. It often felt like parts of the extended jams were simply them all trying to get on the same page with each other. Clearly that still happens occasionally but from what I am hearing it is much more of a rarity.

I appreciate the fact that we all have opinions and I understand that many of you have seen Phish far more often than I have. Nevertheless I am somewhat taken aback by the unrelenting emphasis that is always being placed on the length of time that they play a particular song. As a musician I would much rather see the emphasis being placed on the quality of the musicianship (which is unparrelelled in this genre of music).

Am I the only one who appreciates these arrangements and compositions for the genius they embody? I mean its fun when they stretch things out but longer improvisation doesn't necessarily equal better improvisation. I have to tell you that I have experienced plenty of extended jams that go nowhere, fast or slow, and as a musician I am at least as interested in the manner in which they improvise during the lyrical structure of a song. I mean its nice to get spacey every once in a while but no two versions of these songs are exactly alike - nor should they be - and who are we to expect that they will jam things out for a similar length of time every time or in the way that we think that they ought to? Seriously folks its them up there playing the music. What if they've played enough 30 to 40 minute Tweezers to know that they don't want to go their all the time? That it gets dry or unfulfilling... I'm not saying it does, but again they're making the music so don't they get a say in any of this?

I feel the same way about the comments directed at the freequency at which some songs are being played, such as Possum. Clearly they enjoy playing that song. If you don't want to hear it so be it. But I want to hear them play the songs that they enjoy playing because I know from first hand experience that music tends to sound better when those playing it are actually enjoying themselves. And that for me is the real kicker. I have watched all the recent webcasts and I got to see them up close and personal at Outside lands and what I see are four guys who are having a blast and producing an ever evolving work of art in the process.

Personally I have been lucky enough to see some really amazing shows in the course of the almost twenty years that I have been seeing and listening to this band. I agree that they do not seem to be probing and searching the way they were in the nineties but I take that with a grain of salt as something that should be expected. This is a much tighter and much more mature band. With that said I think it is amazing that they continue to find ways to make things fresh and to try new tracks with their improvisation in the way that they do. It is hard to conceive of a rock oriented band in the history of music that can hold a candle to the flame that is Phish and just once I would like to click on this website and not be greeted by inane whining about the length of time they did or did not jam out a particular song or how freequently they've played chalkdust or possum or crosseyed and painless or how Trey is forcing Tweezer into Julius or Caspian instead of letting the jam develop.

I mean really if you want to do it differently by all means get up there and give it a go yourself. Otherwise why not focus on soemthing constructive???
Great Post.........Quit searching for something that isn't there people. The early nineties setlists were filled with a ton of songs, and the last thing people were saying was "gosh I wish they jammed out these songs more, wtf?" 97-98 they reached a totally different point and could play 4-5 songs in the second set, all stretched out, and that was where they where at the time and that shit was fucking awesome. There is a review in "The Phish Companion" where the guy goes to a 98 show all excited, and is so disappointed that its no longer the band he grew to love in the early nineties. Well again this isn't the same fucking band that it was in the late nineties.

I agree that from my listening of this leg (from my couch, which no matter what anyone says can't really give a true review) rock and roll> meatstick> boogie from gorge, and second set from chi night one, are the best imo. Waves soundcheck is fucking ridik. Storage jam ridik as well. But these are highlights and cannot be the norm all show every show. Like every tour there are the highlights from the general quality of the tour. This tour's highlights are sick, inspired, and fresh. But the general quality of the rest is super tight, well played, and energetic. Go back to any tour and re-listen to it in entirety and tell me that every show was the fire, and that every one was completely original.....bullshit.

And then its either "playing the same shit over and over again" or "fuck these new songs suck let me hear that old shit"....cant have it all.

Its like the memories of place we have from our childhood that over time have been raised to much higher places than the reality that they were. You then go back years later and it just doesn't add up. The difference with Phish is that not only are they not the same as back then, but they have become something new and different. So what I am saying is not only is your idealistic memory of Phish not going to be reconfirmed in reality, it isn't even possible because this band is not static. Surrender to the flow, jump back on the train (or not), and if your on your on. If your not your not...

First night in Denver I want:

Possum> DWD> Tweezer> Ghost> 2001> Caspian> Theme> Carini> Bowie> Stash> C&P> TTE> Possum> Meatstick> SugarShack> Reba> Light> Bathtub Gin> Possum

I want just one set with no song over 7 minutes.

Encore: Joy> Summer of 89> Show of life

See yall there!

But seriously: Thanks Phish......Ya'll are by far the Best....
, comment by Chicken_Corner
Chicken_Corner I did not like your review, I'm sorry. Please keep the Reddit references out of phish.net!
, comment by 20YearsLater
20YearsLater here, here. the phish-blogging community is dominated by writers who want phish to be a certain way and are disappointed when phish isn't that way. Then, their opinion influences thousands of readers. The phish-blog-world needs a writer who appreciates what these writers condescendingly call "song-based affairs."
, comment by Unit_Monster
Unit_Monster Lonesome Sparrow, I could not have said it better myself. They've been at the top of their game for the last year or so.

"Phish is clearly a much tighter band now than they were ten to twelve years ago. The all around musicianship and interplay is simply astounding, even on off nights."

End of story.
, comment by johnnyd
johnnyd Outstanding post, @lonesome_sparrow.
, comment by Sprachtor
Sprachtor "First World Problem"

I'm stealing that.
, comment by deaconblue
deaconblue I think there are essentially two types of phans who are sometimes looking for different things out of a show. "Jammers" are looking for really long, extended Type 2 jams. "Shredders" really get off on the peaks and valleys Phish can create and tend to like sets with more songs and more intensity. Jammers tend to be more vocal on message boards like this, but the reality is that THERE IS NO RIGHT OR WRONG WAY TO ENJOY PHISH! We all love them for different reasons. These websites are a great way to express our opinions and maybe see a show through a different lens. Either way, I'm just thankful that we are able to still see Phish playing at such an amazing level, regardless of what kind of show they put together. Enjoy!
, comment by MDosque
MDosque Well, I have to get this off my chest...I have said this before in a few posts. This weird defensiveness and weak attempts at scolding some fans is uncalled for. No one that posts on this site thinks that Phish sucks. In fact, everyone is probably dealing with a borderline unhealthy obsession with the band because of our love for the music. So with all due respect sparrow, custynoob, and others, give your contrived outrage a rest. The whole point of this site is to have an open forum to debate, critique, laud, relive, and examine the band's music. If a guy or gal didn't dig the Ghost because it was 5 minutes long and yanked in favor of a MP, then that is the way he feels. Get over it. Not every set is SICK to every listener and since the early days of gadiel.com and other pioneering sites, people have been critical of setlists and execution, so again, spare me your blind and frankly odd desire to stifle discussion in a way that would make Kim Jong Il proud. Where else can a fan express those feelings and get feedback other than a place where people are just as into the music and open to hearing different points of view? This is what makes this fanbase special. People care and they love to talk about and debate every little thing. It is fun. In the world of the blind loyalist, everyone would just show up, throw some glowsticks, hold your piss even during Alaska, and tweet how Trey just shredded it. That's fine, but other people might see it differently. They might offer a balanced review about how the Forbin's opener set a great tone, Gin was solid and tight as usual, and First Tube had some extra mustard. They might say that C+P is a little overplayed, Tweezer was funky as hell for a good stretch, Caspian sapped a little energy, and the band closed out the show with some fun old-school silliness that always brings a smile. What is wrong with that? This is how a great many fans enjoy and feel a part of the band and the scene. It has been this way since they started and what separates Phish from other crappy commercial garbage. So, I had to get that off my chest...it is really annoying and in fact, unexpected from this fanbase, to have people scolding and castigating others for analyzing the show from their perspective on a fan forum.

I have also said this before, but it deserves to be said again...Older fans and others who have been seeing the band since the 90's tend to hold on to nostalgia and set unrealistic expectations for shows--myself included. It took away from some 2.0 experiences for me, but I have adjusted my attitude here in 3.0. Going in with no expectations or preconceived notions cleared my head to see that the band is really rocking right now. I am thoroughly enjoying their shows. They sound tight, rehearsed, and happy on stage and this is wonderful for everyone. It comes through the music. I dig the song heavy first sets, but I wish they would stretch out some jams in the second set. I still think their playing is great, but that is just my opinion and others can disagree. Just don't act like I am some jaded vet that can't enjoy a show. The enthusiasm of new fans is wonderful and I am always glad when someone 10-15 years younger than me "gets it" and is turned onto the best music out there. It makes me happy. I just hope people don't walk around sniffing each other's asses. Fans have been analyzing and criticizing sets out of love for this band for 25 years and that is what this forum has always been about. It is not about to change now, so deal with the sensitivity issues, add your two cents, and join the conversation.

Sorry so long, but I had to get that off my chest. I have been thinking about that for a while. Of course I invite feedback.

Dosque
, comment by batshitcrazy
batshitcrazy Who wants to hear songs under seven minutes??? Listen to the radio then dude, jamming is what we do here.
, comment by PhishMarketStew
PhishMarketStew solid fun show after what had to be an exhausting two nights full of great music. now i just have to find this Harry Chronic Jr guy somewhere. on to the rockys....
, comment by ADAWGWYO
ADAWGWYO Seems about right to me @pzerbo. It's funny, I thought I was the only one who dislikes @waxbanks colour commentary.
, comment by Cerias
Cerias Wonderfully put @lonesome_sparrow

I first saw Phish when they opened for Santana in Summer of '92 and Trey came out and rocked it with Carlos. Since then, I have seen some really excellent shows (by my standards, not all-time consensus shows). I remember in '97-'98 what became "epic" for some people like 30+ minute versions of songs, for me was boring. I saw the 10/31/98 show (and the night before) in Vegas, and remember that 3rd set absolutely killing me. It wasn't epic, it was an ambient snooze-fest (plus I have never liked Piper which I have termed "the song that goes nowhere" ;) . Personally (as I am the only one giving my opinion here) I always longed for a happy medium between the aforementioned 30+ minute versions of songs, and a 5 minute walk through. But lonesome sparrow correctly points out that the band has morphed yet again and we should embrace it or stop bitching and leave. I had to put up with Trey's propensity for writing inane songs that make me gag (Summer of '89, Wading in the Velvet Cheese, Show of Life, Farmhouse, etc.) that seemed to me to be very un-Phish; insofar as they weren't silly, rocking, or jamming - Phish's hallmarks. I am going to see them for the first time in 12 years (last show was Shoreline 9/17/99 with Phil Lesh) on 9/4 in Denver precisely because they are playing how they are now. I felt like I had gotten everything I needed to out of the band back then and wasn't enjoying the direction they were going. So, rather than bitch at or about them I just stopped going. This sense of entitlement that they should bend to X or Y's perception of how the band should be is silly. If you don't like it, don't go. You can always listen to your favorite era of Phish and debate its' merits to one another. Everyone has their own criteria for "epic", which I know mine is different from others. They sound tight, focused, engaged, and most of all like they are having fun. So what if they pull the ripcord on songs, I would rather see 3 songs in the place of 1 30 minute DWD, Runaway Jim, or Ghost any day (provided, of course, that it doesn't include any of the aforementioned slow songs). But that is just my .02, right or wrong.
, comment by _rrot_
_rrot_ "Ad infinitum?"

What a red herring. This is a typical BS method of argument -- so typical there's a name for it: "The notion that songs need to be stretched out for twenty and even thirty to forty minutes to be successful is simply" a Straw Man.

Need? 20, 30, 40? I haven't heard folks saying that, so what's the point of pretending they are?

The "jaded vets" want jams, not durations.

But if you think we're all size queens, fine.
, comment by pzerbo
pzerbo @lonesome_sparrow said:
Why is it that the consensus seems to be that Phish has to stretch everything out ad infinitum in order to have successful jams?
There is no such consensus. You set up a "consensus" so that you can come to the rescue with a "counter" argument. It is called a straw man, an oft-used device around here. This one was particularly bizarre given that the recap to which you are responding was kind in the extreme (one might even say it had hints of over-the-top fluffery) to a show that in the clear light of day was extremely fun but was clearly light on the beef.

Carry on. ::sigh::
, comment by GottaJiballer
GottaJiballer nichobert said:

@GottaJiballer - We'll see.. It's way too early to tell. Let's not forget how promising the first two nights of Bethel were before a lot of the same frustrating things about 09-10 popped right back up again..

Yeah, as soon as i posted my comment the set began to get stale. Thought about commenting again last night but was hoping they would pull something out that would redeem me. They did not
, comment by DankSinatra
DankSinatra Trey mentioned "Dank Sinatra" during Makisupa Policeman last night, haha if you want to check out our band you can hear our newest album at http://danksinatramusic.bandcamp.com/ and at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Dank-Sinatra/105645129475418

We realize he may have been joking around, but either way, we do exist haha check us out!
, comment by Dressed_In_Gray
Dressed_In_Gray ^ Life imitates art. Love it.

Phish rips a show, half of the fanbase complains. Apparently there are some things in 2011 that are *exactly* the same as the 90's scene.
, comment by Superfink
Superfink Thank you Phish, Phans & Jason n Barrett from Miltown! Meeraqluss!!
, comment by mazed207
mazed207 Anyone who wants to only hear a certain era of phish is more then welcome to play those shows over and over. There is certainly a difference between the 80s/ early 90s band and todays shows we are blessed to hear. We could have never had a chance to hear Undermind,Stealing Time,etc some of the new stuff. We could have never heard 3.0 at all. Lets be grateful we all have the chance to listen to them. Thousands of shows. Phish is amazing, anyway you look at it. 30 minute songs just make me dream, and i stop paying attention to the music, i like 12-15 min songs personally but who is complaining. Every show is different for even the smallest reasons and thats part of the beauty. I agree some songs are played alot, but thats because they have been touring quite a bit and people want to see those songs live. How many of you can remember wanting to hear a certain song AT a show, and loving it for the experience,not because of stats or because thats what they played 15 years ago
, comment by trippytom
trippytom "Not the most rocking, or the most jammed out ... But clearly the most diverse and inventive Phish set I've seen in years." ... taken from my FB post on the way home.

I'd rather see songs get a brief treatment if the band isn't feeling it (noodling around trying to find a jam for 10 minutes reming anyone of the pre-hiatus era). Not all 30 minute jams are nice ones. I did really like the DWD (21 minute) from the other night as well, both live and recorded.

What I like most about this instance of Phish is the ability to screw around with the jam type. Short/extended, standard/inventive, teases, interesting segways, etc. While I love Fall '97, I don't think I'd go into a perpetual time machine there. Some would, but not me.

There is plenty of interesting and fulfilling Phish out there to suit everyones needs, find it and rock out.
, comment by jackl
jackl What @MDosque said.

I have little to add, except that posting a "counter-review" or criticism of the sort that Phish can do no wrong, anyone who breathes one word of criticism or comparison is a "jaded vet" or a "hater" sounds to me like "STFU", a knee jerk response that's intended as a conversation stopper, and "one upsmanship" gambit.

Also, I'd give the authors of these kinds of posts more credit if most of them didn't just sign up on this site recently and make their only posts ones being instant critics of critics. Most of these users have no shows in their profiles, have contributed no reviews of shows they've attended or even forum comments. Makes me wonder, especially since the site team members posting have contributed reviews and essays on the music for years on r.m.p. and then the Phish Companion books.

When I first started seeing Phish, I didn't think I was an expert in their music after a few shows. I'm "pro noob" and am delighted new people are finding and supporting Phish's music, but I think it's arrogant to try to critique reviews of people who have seen hundreds of shows for ten plus years, say, if your own show count is in the single digits, especially if your point is to be defensive that a "meh" show was really an all time great one, or some trite thought that we shouldn't weigh and compare but "just be grateful Phish is playing again".

YMMV. Flame away.

My 0.03
, comment by groundscore
groundscore @Dressed_In_Gray said:
^ Life imitates art. Love it.

Phish rips a show, half of the fanbase complains. Apparently there are some things in 2011 that are *exactly* the same as the 90's scene.
Most insightful thing i've ever seen posted on this sight? Probably.
, comment by ThinMan
ThinMan @tmwsiy said:
Call me a hater, I loathed that second set. Shame really as it was a spectacular 3 day run in totality. Definitely some fun and I'm sure everyone there had a blast. Take away all the c&p teases and quotes and I imagine many would be left with a different impression of set. I do love Sleep, No Quarter is cool, & I'm one that actually really likes Show of Life as an encore but as a whole, the set simply didn't work for me on any level whatsoever.
yeah i would have to agree...you can just tell with this list that things were not that great. buffalo bill and makisupa in the same set, too many closers that it borders on desparate and a real akward middle section
, comment by Mattisupa
Mattisupa nichobert said:

"I'm hoping for the best, but prepared for this show to just be one of those ones where Phish is playing for the audience in front of them and not thinking about it in a larger context. "

I think that inadvertantly you summed it up perfectly.

Phish has always been a live band who plays for the audience in front of them. What is the larger contaxt? Or is there one at all?

Does every show have to be an epic?

The whole couch tour thing is totally overblown IMHO. It's nice and convenient to be able to do it, but not at all the intention behind a live show.

Of course I dont think that delegitmizes any criticism of the music itself, but listening at home or on "tape" only gives a portion of the total experience and that cannot and should not be discounted from any critique.

By all accounts people are having a blast at the shows while people on couch tour are sitting around in their wet Depends waiting for someone to come and change them.

, comment by deadphish28
deadphish28 Sorry folks, I have to respectfully inject my opinion. I happened to be so close to the stage, I could literally see the veins in Mike's neck pulsing. And no, I'm not a vampire, nor was I on anything! ALL of the band members were having an absolute blast. They smiled, checked out the crowd, and were thanking everyone near the stage. To me, the style of the second set was perfect after the previous two nights of jamming debauchery. I had no compliants, but I understand the phans that may have wanted some more of what Monday and Tuesday brought. That's what makes this community so special: The diverse opinions and the willingness to accept them. Cheers everyone! It's been a solid 2011.
, comment by joechip
joechip Nothing to add here regarding the show, but wanted to say I fully support what @MDosque says in his post.

I also support @pzerbo.
, comment by PeteM
PeteM @Sprachtor said:
"First World Problem"

I'm stealing that.
First world problems are good to have, for sure....
, comment by J_D_G
J_D_G @lonesome_sparrow said:


I mean really if you want to do it differently by all means get up there and give it a go yourself. Otherwise why not focus on soemthing constructive???
Exactly! If you don't agree with the show recaps, go post your own review of the show.

Or if you just think it's fundamentally improper to discuss contemporary Phish rationally, with historical perspective, and express personal preferences within the context of the different sorts of peformances Phish has made in the past (immediate, recent, and long-term), then perhaps you shouldn't spend time on a website BROUGHT TO YOU BY DOZENS OF FAN/VOLUNTEERS WHO HAVE BEEN TALKING ABOUT PHISH LIKE THIS FOR 10-20 YEARS AND BUILT THE SITE TO FACILITATE THIS.

Or is it actually that you think it's fine to express personal opinions about Phish, as long as they happen to be your own?

All of the extremist posts arguing against any contextural discussion about Phish, like yours, seem to boil down to: "Stop analyzing Phish. Phish is great right now."

If you want to provide reviews/analysis that demonstrates why you think Phish is great, I encourage you to do so. If you want to simultaneously argue that we shouldn't even analyize it, and that by the way your own analysis has conclusively determined that the band is great right now, I encourage you to find a forum that is intolerant to dissenting views and where groupthink (to your liking, of course) prevails.

If you don't like it, don't go... to a website dedicated to gathering facts about Phish and discussing them.
, comment by ubertube
ubertube @GottaJiballer said:
Yeah, as soon as i posted my comment the set began to get stale. Thought about commenting again last night but was hoping they would pull something out that would redeem me. They did not
Wait, so you were posting from the show? :: snickers ::
, comment by TennesseeJed
TennesseeJed This thread seems to have gone off the rails with little or no relation to the actual recap. I think @pzerbo did an admirable job summarizing a very difficult show.

I waited up for the Live Phish download to be available, and listened to it. Thereby severely shortening my sleep time. Then I listened to it again this morning. Then I wrote my own thoughts down intending to post them.

Thankfully, I didn't compose my thoughts in the comment box and immediately hit send. My review would have made the haters seem like lovers. I was just amazed when I looked back over what I had written.

So, now I have a review I'm not happy with and a show that still doesn't sit right. I'll give the show yet another listen, and update my thoughts.
, comment by nolasox
nolasox @ThinMan said:
yeah i would have to agree...you can just tell with this list that things were not that great. buffalo bill and makisupa in the same set, too many closers that it borders on desparate and a real akward middle section
hmmmm ... a great set from one of my favorite shows had buffalo bill and makisupa back to back ... http://phi.sh/941029 ... the appearance of both those songs does not a bad set make.
, comment by waxbanks
waxbanks @TennesseeJed said:
So, now I have a review I'm not happy with and a show that still doesn't sit right. I'll give the show yet another listen, and update my thoughts.
admirable and well-put.

@pzerbo and @lumpblockclod said:

UIC3 was perhaps lighter on the jam and heavier (much) on the teases than the first two Chi-town, but there is no way to end talk of this run other than on a positive. Great show! Good times, Phish fans. Be well.
my own seething personal hatreds aside, this is clearly a pretty much optimal stance to take w/r/t last night's show. the band is ripping up the stage and it probably doesn't do anyone any good to scrutinize every single night looking for Long Jams and Perfect Smoothesque(?! no idea what i mean by that ?!).

phish don't try to play specific kinds of jams; they try to be true to the moment. sometimes that means the Worcester Jim. sometimes shit gets fun/dumb. it remains phish; we like the band; @mdosque has it.
, comment by lonesome_sparrow
lonesome_sparrow I appreciate the fact that my post has sparked some conversation. I posted because my opinion seems to differ from much of what I have been reading throughout the last few tours - though apparently I am not as much in the minority as I may have thought.

I don't see much that could be termed "analysis" popping up. I see opinions and I welcome opinions. I don't understand the - what seems to me - hostility. I never tried to tell anyone to stop having their opinion or to stop posting it, although it does seem like that is what I have been told by at least one person.

Moreover, the notion that I advanced a "straw man argument" is silly as I never attemtped to disprove anyone elses assertions or offered any type of formal argument, I simply made my opinion known.

As an aside, I have an M.A. in philosophy and have finished the course work for a Ph.D in that field as well so I know a little bit about what a straw man is and what it is not and it is surely not something that we should be talking about in relation to this thread as these posts reflect people's subjective opinions as they relate to matters of aesthetic judgment and not objective facts that can be clearly demarcated and deliberated upon. As I would never attempt to disprove someone's opinion I find the mention of a straw man to be something of a bait and switch. Simply, making pejorative statements that assert that I am committing some kind of logical slight of hand is simply a way of diverting attention from what I actually said. Not only do I think ththat this is uncalled for; all it suggests to me is an intolerance for others opinions and an unwillingness to interact with them.

If you don't like my opinion that's fine, I have seen numerous opinions that do not reflect my own and that contain all sorts of faulty reasoning that could be pointe out if we were to discuss it in formal terms but this is a forum where people post their opinions and as I have been listening to and seeing Phish for more than twenty years and playing music myself for more than twenty five I felt like I should give voice to my own feelings.

In addition there is something to be said about the letter and the spirit of a reading and this is another area where my purported emphasis is being exagerated. Does it really make a difference if people are talking about twenty thirty or forty minute jams? The main point is that there has been a lot of dialogue about how Phish is not jamming long enough. Focusing on the numbers as if that was an important part of what I said is baffling!

As for the matter of analysis... I would appreciate some of that but I don't see how they didn't jam long enough or they play Possum to much is an analysis. What does any of that tell me about the quality of the musicianship? I am amused that a post that ended with an encouragement to be more constructive was lashed out at by some of you in the way that it was. It was meant to provide more diversity of opinion as I know that it is out there... Telling me that I would be better off not posting is kind of funny coming from someone who claims to be about dialogue... There is much more that could be said but there is only so much time and space... I will say this though the suggestion that "jamming is what we do here" seems a little off... I would suggest that great music is what is done here and that jamming is only one piece of that larger picture. I meant know disrespect to anyone and I really don't understand how anyone would think that I am intolerant of other's opinions. Giving voice to a lack of understanding of other people's opinions and asking for more constructive conversation is almost always and attempt to stimulate conversation, not suppress it!

Peace
, comment by phisherman
phisherman all of these posts are very amusing. it is funny when people feel that they can design a phish set better than the band can. if you wrote the setlist and told them how to play each song, would that be fun? maybe once.
, comment by Monkeynuts
Monkeynuts Hi first time caller long time listener. Fuck the haters this was the best 3 day run since Phish came back. Been going to shows since 95 and this is the best energy and the most fun i have seen them have on stage since Big Cyprus in 99. Thank you everybody who came to have a good time and not do hippie crack in the lot and walk around like a wastoids. Anybody who criticizes any part of this run better reconsider why they come to shows. They put it all out there in the last couple days for us and you better give love. I cant stand it when people analyze shows under a microscope. If your that good start your own band and rock homie! Otherwise thank god for UIC!! And c u in the fall. Be safe :)
, comment by BurningShoreProphet
BurningShoreProphet they flat out destroyed UIC over the three nights.
ridiculously filthy
, comment by kipmat
kipmat @pzerbo said:
@lonesome_sparrow said:
Why is it that the consensus seems to be that Phish has to stretch everything out ad infinitum in order to have successful jams?
There is no such consensus. You set up a "consensus" so that you can come to the rescue with a "counter" argument. It is called a straw man, an oft-used device around here.

Quoting both points because I agree with both of them. FWIW, I love 3.0 and am really happy Phish are back, but sometimes I wish that jams like the Pine Knob DWD would happen more often. Like, say, every third show...?
, comment by Blastoplast
Blastoplast I have to agree with the second set opinions of many people. It just wasn't that great. Fun...yes...but after No Quarter Trey did not want to jam. However, I think he was having guitar troubles. Did anyone else notice him messing with his strings and putting stuff on his hands? It was hot and sticky in there, and I think he was having some guitar issues. His tech came out a couple times as well and Trey just put his hands up like...whatever! It reminded me of playing a saxophone concert with a bad reed. Just more work than it should have been.

This isn't some cry for twenty minute jams either. I often find it ridiculous to judge a song based on how many minutes the jam is, but a Ghost that was less than 4 minutes? Something was going on. Trey was trying very hard to get things going in Piper. Jumping around to boost some energy...trying that huge lick he played out of the blue...but that didn't go anywhere...it just didn't work that set. Something seemed wrong.

Also...what were they passing around about halfway through the first set that they all then put into their mouths?
, comment by TennesseeJed
TennesseeJed I was going to post a long review, but it really boils down to a really fun first set, marred by possibly the worst set list decision I've ever heard. Alaska. Delete Alaska from the playlist and the Fist Set is wonderful and fun filled with songs that flow together and progress toward a great climax. I will listen to this again, and again, without Alaska.

Set two is a whole beast of conflicting emotions for me. C+P is a great Set opener, loved it even though this version is average. The segue between C+P and No Quarter is easily my favorite of this tour.

Other than that, I'd really like to see a video of this show to find out what happened. The first half of the set is either Paige trying valiantly to cover for Trey who is having serious guitar problems, or it is a 'Halloween' style concept with a deliberate attempt to play off of the storage jam concept by making everything sound like it is bubbling up out of that ambient jam.

Either way. The set sounds like a mess. 3/5 max. And that's just because I really (seriously) enjoyed the first set, and even more so in my modified, no songs with state names form.
, comment by Stinkfist
Stinkfist 8/15 was the best night by far

8/16 was still much better than 8/27, but all smiles here from all 3 shows
, comment by andywentling
andywentling @tmwsiy said:
Call me a hater, I loathed that second set. Shame really as it was a spectacular 3 day run in totality. Definitely some fun and I'm sure everyone there had a blast. Take away all the c&p teases and quotes and I imagine many would be left with a different impression of set. I do love Sleep, No Quarter is cool, & I'm one that actually really likes Show of Life as an encore but as a whole, the set simply didn't work for me on any level whatsoever.
, comment by AlbanyYEM
AlbanyYEM @lonesome_sparrow said:
I appreciate the fact that my post has sparked some conversation. I posted because my opinion seems to differ from much of what I have been reading throughout the last few tours - though apparently I am not as much in the minority as I may have thought.

I don't see much that could be termed "analysis" popping up. I see opinions and I welcome opinions. I don't understand the - what seems to me - hostility. I never tried to tell anyone to stop having their opinion or to stop posting it, although it does seem like that is what I have been told by at least one person.

Moreover, the notion that I advanced a "straw man argument" is silly as I never attemtped to disprove anyone elses assertions or offered any type of formal argument, I simply made my opinion known.

As an aside, I have an M.A. in philosophy and have finished the course work for a Ph.D in that field as well so I know a little bit about what a straw man is and what it is not and it is surely not something that we should be talking about in relation to this thread as these posts reflect people's subjective opinions as they relate to matters of aesthetic judgment and not objective facts that can be clearly demarcated and deliberated upon. As I would never attempt to disprove someone's opinion I find the mention of a straw man to be something of a bait and switch. Simply, making pejorative statements that assert that I am committing some kind of logical slight of hand is simply a way of diverting attention from what I actually said. Not only do I think ththat this is uncalled for; all it suggests to me is an intolerance for others opinions and an unwillingness to interact with them.

If you don't like my opinion that's fine, I have seen numerous opinions that do not reflect my own and that contain all sorts of faulty reasoning that could be pointe out if we were to discuss it in formal terms but this is a forum where people post their opinions and as I have been listening to and seeing Phish for more than twenty years and playing music myself for more than twenty five I felt like I should give voice to my own feelings.

In addition there is something to be said about the letter and the spirit of a reading and this is another area where my purported emphasis is being exagerated. Does it really make a difference if people are talking about twenty thirty or forty minute jams? The main point is that there has been a lot of dialogue about how Phish is not jamming long enough. Focusing on the numbers as if that was an important part of what I said is baffling!

As for the matter of analysis... I would appreciate some of that but I don't see how they didn't jam long enough or they play Possum to much is an analysis. What does any of that tell me about the quality of the musicianship? I am amused that a post that ended with an encouragement to be more constructive was lashed out at by some of you in the way that it was. It was meant to provide more diversity of opinion as I know that it is out there... Telling me that I would be better off not posting is kind of funny coming from someone who claims to be about dialogue... There is much more that could be said but there is only so much time and space... I will say this though the suggestion that "jamming is what we do here" seems a little off... I would suggest that great music is what is done here and that jamming is only one piece of that larger picture. I meant know disrespect to anyone and I really don't understand how anyone would think that I am intolerant of other's opinions. Giving voice to a lack of understanding of other people's opinions and asking for more constructive conversation is almost always and attempt to stimulate conversation, not suppress it!

Peace
ur not the only person with a philosophy degree lurking around here, so i figured i'd give my .02 on the notion of subjectivity/argument/aesthetics. when u divert from commenting on your own subjective experience of a show's aesthetics and plunge into the world of characterization of other reviews, then this whole "just an opinion, not an argument" thing doesn't hold water. you can't have it both ways: either stick to commenting only on the show (subjective) or analyze others' reviews (objective).

as for the notion that each opinion is like a beautiful little baby brain creation, unique as a snowflake and worthy of exaltation; well thats just nonsense. each person as a human being is entitled to his/her own opinions, but that does not mean that i or anyone else am obliged to respect them. i respect your right to have them, but it simply doesn't follow that we should all equally respect the subjectivity of a response to art. i would respect heidegger's views on the being of the object of art in relation to Being in general quite a bit more than someone going to a museum and responding, "totes hetty brah." i see this a lot in the jamband community: that opinions are purely subjective and thus cannot be measured in any analytic sort of way...

anytime there is context provided in opinions, or references to how phish used to play, or how they are playing this tour, etc; we delve into the world of analytic assessment which is based on a response to actual factual artifacts. this sense of contexting is provided in nearly every review and implies an analytically generated starting ground to even be on the same page when speaking on a subject. the implied consensus or relation factual objectivity informs one's opinions in combination with the objective stimulus of the actual show reviewed. one's emotional response to a show has it's own internal logic that can be examined and discussed as to cognitive validity. i.e. "i hate the song caspian thus the whole show was bunk." oversimplification, i know, but you get the point i'm making here.

that person's response to the art had clear internal disconnection between stimulus and rational response. the devaluation of reflective thought is apparent whenever people make claims that one's opinions are subjective and thus one person cannot have greater insight than another. why not fire all the college professors, round up some bums and have them teach the students? would bail out many a school's budget problems. another hyperbolic example, but you see what i'm getting at here. a further extension of censorship is the devaluation of the legitimacy of knowledgeable responses into one giantly inflated pool of "opinions" because it stifles actual thought by immersion into a sea of information. more and more is being said with less and less actually said. dude, that's just your opinion tho bra!

sorry for the rant, just bugs the bejesus loving shit out of me when i see this kind of thing posted. and its posted in these threads more than anywhere else. aside to lonesome sparrow: would love to hear a hermeneutic description not castigated to nihilistic relativism.
, comment by Blastoplast
Blastoplast Most people don't seem to like Alaska. Whether it's the song, the placement, or whatever...I don't know. I am also one of those that isn't totally enamored with the song, but it's better than it used to be. The groove is better for sure! Not so honky-tonky. Also, the one performed at this past UIC show was fabulous if you just set aside your opinion of the tune. It's clear Phish likes to play the tune, and they jam well on it. This past version had a great jam, and while I shrugged my shoulders when the song started, I was smiling from ear to ear by the time it ended. Set aside your opinions or feelings for a second and check the tune and jam...very well-played, and great energy in the jam. Someone called it "languid." Perhaps that person just tuned it out because it was Alaska. It was much more than "languid," and I don't even really care for the tune.
, comment by TennesseeJed
TennesseeJed Speaking only for myself, I criticize the placement of Alaska, not the song itself. I particularly liked the version from 2011/08/10 where it appears in the following sequence ... Poor Heart, Alaska, Halley's Comet > It's Ice > When the Circus Comes, Ya Mar". That show was not well appreciated by phish.net folks who rate shows, but I enjoyed it. Each of those songs evokes a similar emotional response in me. And that version of Alaska is in my own personal Tour Highlights playlist.

The placement of Alaska within this show is disconcerting, at best, and "Languid" is actually a very apropos description. Given the following setlist... Colonel Forbin's Ascent > Fly Famous Mockingbird, Gumbo > Possum, Weigh > The Divided Sky, (????????), Bathtub Gin, Maze, Cavern > First Tube ... a setlist filled with quirky, complex, and offbeat rhythms. Phish took a good 2:30+ min to decide what song to play between Divided Sky and Bathtub Gin, and came up with a song which has absolutely nothing in common with any of those songs.
, comment by lonesome_sparrow
lonesome_sparrow This seems to have gotten way out of hand and I don't want to go around in cirlces but just to clarify. I only mentioned a philosophy background because someone accused me of making a straw man argument. Offering my opinion and asking for more constructive dialogue around the question of jamming (i.e. please tell me why jamming longer neccessarily equates to a better show) is in no way asking for a philosophical argument so the fact that it was event taken in that way or to that point was the real issue I was attemtping to address in mentioning my background.

I am happy to take some responsibility for my own ranting and for maybe not spelling out my intentions and meanings as clearly as I should have or perhaps could have. Be that as it may, I still attempted to generate some dialogue as to the deeper motivations behind the frustrated reviews I routinely come across bemoaning the lack of extended jams and the repetitiveness of certain song selections. I never took anyone particular to task for their opinions. I suggested - apparently in a way that some took to be perjorative - that the length of a jam and the quality of the playing are not equivalent (an opinion that I still maintain).

I can hear the frustration in some of the responses to my thread and unsderstand that perhaps my initial post came across a little strong and I do think that it was taken out of context (with someone suggesting that I think that people who want longer jams are size queens and someone else suggesting that I am trying to silence dialogue) but the intent behind it was still to offer a differing opinion and to generate conversation. Sometimes the best way to do that is to come on strong...

I am interested in other's opinions and see no reason to suggest that my opinion is better or more informed than anyone elses I would simply like to hear something said about what is and what isn't working in a given jam rather than generalized statements about length and frequency of songs.

I think that's a big part of my issue. I have seen and followed Phish through a variety of incarnations over two decades and I play music myself regularly and I don't share some of the opinions that I keep seeing. I take for granted that many of the other folks here have been into Phish and have been seeing them for as long and as freequently as I have if not more so and with that in mind I stuck my nose in and said something because I am in fact genuinely interested in why it is that others feel the way that they do.

At least with regards to this discussion I have to pass on making judgments about who is and who is not qualified to offer an opinion and who's opinion is more legitimate because I was just looking for some meaningful dialogue. I have some flexibility in what I respond to and what I choose to ignore so I don't see the need to alienate anyone by suggesting that their opinion is not as valuable as someone elses.

As for the matter of sticking to either offering a subjective opinion or else an objective review... I inititally posted my opinion vis a vis other opinions that have been posted. For example, statements like "this song must die" referencing the freequency at which Possum has been played of late, or else statements to the effect that their has not been enough extended jamming of late are in no way objective; to say that their has not been as much extended jamming as in the past is somewhat factual but the statement that there has not been enough is in fact an opinion (and to clarify again it is opinion that I would simply like to try to understand better - as someone who has heard almost all of these songs hundreds if not thousands of times the suggestion of overplay strikes me as a little odd).

Any mention of aesthetics and judgments were made in relation to this particular conundrum and only to clarify that it is not fair to suggest that I am making a straw man arguement because there really is no argument that I can make against these kind of opinions except to say that I personally don't agree with them (which I did and I realize now that I probably should have included that kind of phrasing in the original statement since so much of this has turned into a dialogue about semantics and interpretations).

Clearly I don't agree with some of the things that I have seen posted but if I were going to try to review the commentary, as has been suggested, I would actually want to see something substantial that I could offer a reasoned response to and I'm just not seeing that. I'm seeing a lot of there's too much of this song there's not enough of that jam. I am seeing some good stuff right now about song placement in response to the last UIC show and I am content to move on and see how things continue to unfold but I am still interested in hearing about why people feel the way that they do in regards to the matter I originally posted about.

Finally, it was stated that: "the devaluation of reflective thought is apparent whenever people make claims that one's opinions are subjective and thus one person cannot have greater insight than another. why not fire all the college professors, round up some bums and have them teach the students? would bail out many a school's budget problems. another hyperbolic example, but you see what i'm getting at here."

No actually I don't see what you are getting at here. We are particpating in an online dialogue that is pretty loose, not a roundtable on art criticism @ Harvard, and as I never said anything that should suggest that some opinions are not more well informed than others I don't get the necessity of this particualr point. Frankly nothing I see posted here (including my own ramblings) are at the level of philosophical criticism - NOR SHOULD THEY BE - and if I wanted to do philosophical analysis here I would have started off in that vein. Clearly when it comes to authentic philosophical critique some are more informed and more qualified than others but that being the case one can usually rely on those qualified individuals to state the reasons that support their conclusions. That being said, as far as I'm concerned in a chat space like this its people's human right to their opinions that I want to emphasize! I don't have to bother responding to opinions and arguments that strike me as hopelessly uninformed. And if others feel that way about my posts they don't have to respond to them either!

Sorry if this doesn't satisfy but I am out of time
, comment by Blastoplast
Blastoplast @TennesseeJed said:
Speaking only for myself, I criticize the placement of Alaska, not the song itself. I particularly liked the version from 2011/08/10 where it appears in the following sequence ... Poor Heart, Alaska, Halley's Comet > It's Ice > When the Circus Comes, Ya Mar". That show was not well appreciated by phish.net folks who rate shows, but I enjoyed it. Each of those songs evokes a similar emotional response in me. And that version of Alaska is in my own personal Tour Highlights playlist.

The placement of Alaska within this show is disconcerting, at best, and "Languid" is actually a very apropos description. Given the following setlist... Colonel Forbin's Ascent > Fly Famous Mockingbird, Gumbo > Possum, Weigh > The Divided Sky, (????????), Bathtub Gin, Maze, Cavern > First Tube ... a setlist filled with quirky, complex, and offbeat rhythms. Phish took a good 2:30+ min to decide what song to play between Divided Sky and Bathtub Gin, and came up with a song which has absolutely nothing in common with any of those songs.
I agree. It was a weird choice after so much build up after the super long discussion...but totally out of context...this was a good version to me and those I was with. That's all I'm saying. Phish plays this tune well, and they like to play it.
, comment by joechip
joechip The reason it was suggested @Lonesome_sparrow was making a straw man argument is that he/she started their post with the question "Why is it that the consensus seems to be that Phish has to stretch everything out ad infinitum in order to have successful jams?" ...not to belabor the point, but I think that's where you raised a few hackles, because the review at the top of this page did not suggest this. Regardless, you seem like a thoughtful guy, and though I'm sure your intent wasn't to stifle criticism of the band, when you say things like "I mean really if you want to do it differently by all means get up there and give it a go yourself", that might irritate some folks who feel they can love and support the band but still express a preference for shows with more improvisation.

Certainly, if the jam from Ghost from the show in question had been stretched out longer, it would have been more successful, since as it happened, there was no jam whatsoever in the song. The second set of opening night at UIC was pretty much universally loved, all the jams were successful, the songs were not stretched out "ad infinitum", but they were expanded upon in a number of creative and unique ways. I'm happier with a show like that than with a show like Wednesday, when improvisation is bypassed in favor of goofy, good rockin' fun. I have nothing against goofy, good rockin' fun, but it's not my favorite thing about Phish performances and never was. I'm not looking for endless 30-40 minute jams, but I am looking for them to improvise and expand on the structure of the tunes often, and I think when they do loosen up the results are generally pretty awesome right now.
, comment by TennesseeJed
TennesseeJed I'd like to say that I've really enjoyed reading the posts by @Lonesome_sparrow, @nichobert, @crustynoob & @AlbanyYEM. You have all given me food for though, whether I agree with every word you've said, or not. Each of you is well spoken and obviously sees the show from a slightly different perspective.

Reading the variety of opinions helps we realize that there are equally valid viewpoints where none is more correct than the other, even when they approach the show from diametrically opposing viewpoints.

I evaluate these shows from yet another differing view, quite possibly a minority view where setlist construction, harmony, melody & mood all play a part in how I react to a show, and are either not so easy to define, or I lack the correct vocabulary to adequately convey my thoughts on the subject.

I think @lonesome_sparrow is actually conveying what is missing from these discussions that the rating of a jam is being often being discussed in term of length. 23 min YEM, 20 Min DWD. These comments dont normally arise from the more experienced listener, but they do seem to be the most often posted "critiques".

The question then becomes, how do you quantify the quality of a Jam? Yes, I raised a question, but I cant fully answer it. I can say that I will listen to the Divided Sky from this show (2011/08/17) more than the Undermind from (2011/08/16).

I can identify my problems with Undermind ... the first 1:30 is distinctly sub-par, then from aprox 5:00 till 6:00 it is again distinctly below par (in my estimation). The jam also seems to lurch from theme to theme with no inner connectivity between the themes. Ive read it described as Awesome and Intense. Both are correct, but Beauty it does not posses.

Divided Sky on the other hand, seems to move effortlessly through each section, with a flow I didn't feel emanating from Undermind. Beautiful, absolutely. Awesome, yes, at least for me. Intense, no, not really.

So, that's my ΒΆΒΆ on the conversation so far. Thanks for giving me so much food for thought.

Cheers!
, comment by lonesome_sparrow
lonesome_sparrow Yea I realize that I jumped into this at a point that was perhaps not conducive to the discussion I was looking for. There's probably some other way to post a thread than jumping into the middle of the show review, sorry about that. I had been ruminating on some of these thoughts for a while and I came home a little buzzed and was just thinking about how sharp the music has been lately and about how much their collective musicianship has advanced over the years and thinking that, at least to me, that their sound is much more cohesive and even raw at times than I've felt like they were during my earlier experiences. I feel like the crispness of the playing (with some exceptions of course - and who doesn't have off nights), the explosiveness of each of their sounds, the way that can just quickly diverge into something even within the transitions between verses of a song and just all collectively be on the same page with some warped backbeat rhythm or some quirky little trill that they start teasing. Particularly I have been stunned by just about everything that Mike and Page have been doing over the course of the last year (and particularly how the lines from Mike seem to dance through so many different playful themes while still maintaining a rock solid anchor).

In a private message someone helped me re-evaluate something else that I said in that post where I suggested that they are a tighter band. That doesn't really say what I was trying to get at at all. I was commenting on the the virtuosity of their playing when I used the word tight speaking to the fact that their collective mastery of their individual instruments (and I also think the way that they blend them together) has improved. But aside from this sharpness of skill its actually much more true to say that they are in many ways looser now and seem to be having a great deal of fun in varrying their approach to songs, changing rhythms, playing more off the beat, altering harmonies, and just being very playful in a dexterous manner which is something as a musician and as a listener that pleases me and fascinates me because I know how hard it is to be in a space to be able to pull it off.

I guess I feel like the total product has improved and I feel like a lot of the jams I've heard lately don't have the meandering, sometimes noodling quality that would sometimes pop up during some extended jams I've experienced in the past (not that that was always the case, I'm not trying to over generalize here).

Some of this is definitely a product of maturation, perhaps trading some attention to exploration for a feeling of direction as if some areas have already been perhaps a little bit more well-traversed and thus they have a better sense of where they want to go with it (and here to I don't want to over generalize as I feel like I have heard a great deal of explorative jamming from them of late that I think is really bold and fresh Rock and Roll from the Gorge and Light from Tahoe come immediately to mind, and on a related note and though it was not necessarily novel in its structure the intensity of the jam on Julius @ Outside Lands was beyond anything I've ever felt on that song and it continued on from their into Backwards down the number line with these sharp energetic licks that were shattering and uplifting all it once - felt like my head was exploding with light)!!!

It seems to me too that they are really just starting to lock in insofar as this new incarnation is concerned and I attribute much of their willingness to repeat songs more often as well as to varry their approach to a song (loosening or tightenting up) from time to time to be indicative of both their desire to really lock in on both on a given song and also just to stay synched in together thus making sure they play the songs they feel best about. As well as to give the people in various locales some of what they think that they really want to hear because they are perhaps playing less frequently. (It was my good friend's birthday @ Outside Lands) we were there with friends who had been to Tahoe, I had watched the webcasts, our friend really wanted to hear six songs that had been played in the last week due to him not having seen Phish since 1999 and they played all of them and while this was frustrating to some degree for some folks who had seen them more recently they just killed those songs and we loved it).

Anyway, I've got to make dinner. I didn't intend to be confrontational and I'm sorry if I came across that way. Don't get me wrong, I'm not opposed to extended jams from this particular incarnation of my favorite band. Given what I said above about the sharpness of their playing I have no reason to expect that that would be a bad thing. I do feel like a great deal of what I have heard over the last year in particular has been significantly sharper on a collective level than much of what I was hearing in the nineties and I have definitely been doing a fair amount of listening and making comparisons. There was definitely much more exploration going on during the nineties but I don't know that the music was "better". Jams are great but I really love the songs themselves and their various arrangements and the weird harmonies and parts that they have and I feel like that is all significantly more cohesive, lively, and above all sharp and big in its sound quality. That said, Iwon't be complaining if they decide to take another fifty minute tour through Runaway Jim or Tweezer - I would actually really like to hear them stretch out Steam as I feel like that has all sorts of potential for new directions and sounds - or anything else for that matter, I remember a particularly interesting and long Jam on Fee from the Winter Run in 99, I digress....

Anyway, I meant no disrespect so sorry to get off on the wrong foot.

Be Well

Sparrow
, comment by Mitchapalooza
Mitchapalooza Thank you gentlemen. Unbelievable run. Excellent playing. Still by far the best.
, comment by custynoob
custynoob The first show that really hooked me on this band was veterans from 94.......man how could it have with 18 songs in the second set, and songs maybe averaging 4 minutes in length......cant believe trey kept cutting off those jams.....wtf.....ha ha ha

Good thing I got 97 Mcnichols with 12 songs and a damn near 15 minute average which fucked me up next......

This band just doesn't do it like they used too.....now all I get is all kinds in three nights...wtf...an "element" set of the new shit, a 20 min dwd and 20 min yem bookshelf, and then a crosseyed rage everything into each other fest......yea 3.0 sucks.....
, comment by Blastoplast
Blastoplast @custynoob said:
The first show that really hooked me on this band was veterans from 94.......man how could it have with 18 songs in the second set, and songs maybe averaging 4 minutes in length......cant believe trey kept cutting off those jams.....wtf.....ha ha ha

Good thing I got 97 Mcnichols with 12 songs and a damn near 15 minute average which fucked me up next......

This band just doesn't do it like they used too.....now all I get is all kinds in three nights...wtf...an "element" set of the new shit, a 20 min dwd and 20 min yem bookshelf, and then a crosseyed rage everything into each other fest......yea 3.0 sucks.....
time of song and quantity of tunes has nothing to do with the quality of music...in any setting.
, comment by custynoob
custynoob Blastoplast: sarcasm my friend sarcasm......your post is my point.....
, comment by Blastoplast
Blastoplast I'm not being sarcastic. There was nothing sarcastic about that post, custynoob. I'm just speaking the truth. Some of the finest pieces of music ever written, whether it's Phish or Schumann is UNDER 5 minutes. That's just truth.

I like exploratory jams. I've been around Phish since 1992, and I have often praised their long crazy jams. BUT length or number of songs does not mean quality...in any context. It just doesn't...whether or not you prefer a 25 minutes 2001 from 1998 that doesn't accomplish very much other than a beat to move to or a 6 minute Runaway Jim from 1992 that shreds your face or 2 and half minute version of Schumann's 'Traumerei.". It just doesn't matter. No sarcasm...just truth. Good music isn't determined by the length the improvisation or composition.
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