Saturday 07/07/2012 by bertoletdown

SPAC1 RECAP

Welcome, PTers! Ladies and Gentlemen We Are Phloating In SPAC!

Here we are at the final stop on leg one of the 2012 summer tour. It’s been a pretty terrific summer thus far, with a clear and steady and upward trajectory, and with very few clunker sets to speak of since the band pressed the master reset button after Bonnaroo. Yes, the herky-jerky second set from the 4th of July at Jones Beach could be cited as an exception – but the band swept a lot of material into their wake that night until at least leg two, and the keg is now spilling over with dry canon powder. Will tonight bring a “YEM”, “Stash”, or “Split Open and Melt” worthy of water cooler chatter? Will Phish continue to revisit covers from Loaded, or validate rumors that deeper cuts from Remain in Light are in play for the first time in over a decade?

The pump is primed, so let’s pour ourselves a cocktail, sit back, and take the ride!

The band claims the stage just after 8:15 and wastes no time before galloping straight into a spirited but short “Runaway Jim.” Here’s an idea: how about a mid-second set “Jim” now and then, so the old pooch can run free a bit? “Ocelot” emerges from the on-deck circle to make a statement of sorts: we’re easing in here. Page signals “Heavy Things” with a few staccato plinks on his B-3, and the rest of the band follows, reinforcing a decidedly AOR theme for the proceedings thus far.

Back on the Train” is always promising, and a few minutes into this jam, Trey kicks on his Whammy harmony effect, signalling a desire to push things a bit further out. But Fishman stays tethered to his shuffle beat, and they quickly tie a bow on the song and settle on “Funky Bitch.” A somewhat obvious choice, but it bears mentioning that Page’s organ playing has been unusually incendiary and creative this tour, and his solo here is the first thing that audibly thrills the crowd all night.

The second thrilling thing follows immediately thereafter.

Tube” spills smoothly into the fourth-ever “Psycho Killer” – the first since Hartford ‘09 – affirming the Talking Heads rumors (though not the Remain in Light rumors). Then it’s back into “Tube” for the finish... but they’re not done with the shenanigans yet. Page leans into the “Hold Your Head Up” organ line, and Trey throws an unmistakable bone to fans who mistakenly thought they heard “Psycho Killer” bubbling out of “Back on the Train” a few nights earlier in Deer Creek by quoting its verses over “HYHU.” Fishman then delivers the goods with his first take on “Cracklin’ Rosie” since Philly ‘99, which (like its “HYHU” bookend) is laced liberally with yet more “tucking” references.

This whole sequence lasts probably 10-12 minutes, but it goes a very long way toward redeeming a first quarter that had offered little or nothing in the way of mentionables. A genuinely invigorating dose of trademark Phish.

Then there’s that anticipated twilight “Stash,” which is sharply played through the composed section and features some beautiful baby grand flourishes from Page, as the harmonic tension builds toward the peak. Resolution comes all too soon for those seeking a tantric mind-fucking, though, so we’ll have to talk about something else at the water cooler. Even less worth rehashing is the awkward, flubby “Bouncing Around the Room” that follows.

Paul and Silas” offers another welcome rarity, but it’s over before it starts and we take a quick turn into an unusually sloppy reading of “Horn.” Though I love “Corinna” – and you should too – it feels poorly placed here, and seems to cede back whatever momentum remains from the mid-set sequence, with the crowd engaged in lots of audible chatter by the end.

Once again it’s Page to the rescue – both instrumentally and vocally – with the tour’s second “Light Up Or Leave Me Alone.” We’re nearly 90 minutes into this set by now, mind you, but the Chairman is firing on all cylinders, and doing everything in his goddamn power to elevate matters. Mike picks up the gauntlet early in this jam, and lo and behold a genuine all-hands asskicking ensues for the next five-six minutes. Alas, it falls apart in spectacular fashion at the end as Trey tries to end the song in the middle of the final verse. This “Light Up” serves as an apt metaphor for the set itself – tentative at the outset, blazing in the middle, and ultimately plagued by the devil lurking in the details.

Chalk Dust Torture” christens the third quarter. A comfortable call, especially after seeing action at Jones Beach, but also perhaps a setup for a “Chalk Dust Torture Reprise” encore. All right, that’s optimistic...

Then “Carini” springboards from a bed of noise meant to conceal a clunky finish to “Chalk Dust.” “Carini” has been making a run at “Light,” “Waves,” and “Rock and Roll” as the most consistent improvisational platform of 3.0. Tonight’s version, however, never seems to coalesce or breathe, and gives way quickly to “Sand” – yet another song played just two nights ago in Wantagh. Yet again, Page assumes the conn, wringing distilled filth from his clav and coercing Mike and then Fish into the fray for a bit of truly satisfying breakbeat play. And yet again, with all four hands on the ripcord, what might have turned glorious is instead brought to a close, this time in favor of “Roses Are Free.”

“Roses” plays out cleanly and concisely – as some would argue it’s meant to – and anybody who suggests they expected the ensuing “Punch You in the Eye” can get bent. Wonderful placement for this song, and Trey negotiates “The Landlady” section with only a few minor bobbles. As on the heels of “Chalk Dust” we enter a spontaneous field of noise, from which emerges “Sneakin’ Sally Through the Alley.”

Minutes after the “Sally” vocal jam, Trey rides a Hendrix lick to a peak, and then just as it sounds like the jam is set to abort, Fishman doubles the beat and leads his conspirators into an infectious, up-tempo groove reminiscent of some 2.0 “Pipers.” Eventually, this largely satisfying “Sally” wanders organically into “Ghost.” Once again, Fishman revives a petering jam, insisting on a deeper take on things, and the rest of the band flirts with the idea of going big for the next several minutes before settling once again into a meditative space. The ambience plays out nicely over the next several minutes, culminating in some lovely piano flourishes from Page.

Trey counts off a generic and compact “Suzy Greenberg” next, which stands aside for “Run Like an Antelope,” yet another repeat from Jones Beach. Puzzling but ballsy choice given how dynamic and wall-to-wall fucking awesome the Jones Beach version was, but they’re obviously feeling this tune, and they manage to wring out another quite respectable version that includes a “Crosseyed & Painless” tease midway through the jam. Taboot, Tom Marshall and The Dude of Life show up to inquire, “Been you to have any spliff, mon?”

In my opinion, “Loving Cup” remains Phish’s only Rolling Stones cover that knows its proper place, and that place is in the encore slot of a down-the-middle, rock-centric Phish show. Fair to hope for something more ambitious, but hard to argue with the fit.

Without benefit of a night’s sleep or second listen, this show seems to embody the entire tour in several respects. First, it delivers stretches of inspired creativity (see: “Tube” through “Rosie,” “Sally > Ghost”) that easily merit the price of admission. Second, it often lacks narrative flow and attention to setlist construction (see: most of the second quarter). Finally, the band plainly shows up ready to let it hang out and send their fans home happy.

Rest up, phans, and we’ll see you tomorrow. Don’t forget that SiriusXM is carrying the show tomorrow night (@ 8pm EDT), as well as Kevin Shapiro’s “From The Archives” show at 6pm EDT.

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Comments

, comment by PhishMarketStew
PhishMarketStew I thought it was a great show, top to bottom.
, comment by PlaYEM
PlaYEM “Roses” plays out cleanly and concisely – as some would argue it’s meant to – and anybody who suggests they expected the ensuing “Punch You in the Eye” can get bent. Wonderful placement for this song, and Trey negotiates “The Landlady” section with only a few minor bobbles. As on the heels of “Chalk Dust” we enter a spontaneous field of noise, from which emerges “Sneakin’ Sally Through the Alley.”

Can get bent indeed. Punch was not even on my radars radar. A rare occasion for the 2nd set out shiny the first by quite a bit. Confusing song selection sometimes (repeats wise) expect a lot from nights 2. & 3 carry that momentum
, comment by bertoletdown
bertoletdown I don't think the first set outshone the second, personally. But I do think that the Tube -> Psycho Killer -> Tube > HYHU > Cracklin' Rosie > HYHU sequence was arguably the highlight of the night, with the jam out of Sally being the only real challenger.
, comment by Dressed_In_Gray
Dressed_In_Gray Everything through Ghost in the second set was fire.

Awesomesauce.
, comment by MomaDan
MomaDan That Sally was sweet!!
, comment by funkbeard
funkbeard I really dug how Fishman allowed other guys to carry the groove during parts of Antelope, florishing the music percussively and trusting the beat. Felt very Brian Blades to me, in a Fishman sort of way, or course.
, comment by Chim_Richalds
Chim_Richalds kinda critical... the show was sick. It had all the energy that JB did not... kicked the F*ing ass out of either of those shows. Sand in particular was sick.. straightforward and hard and driving... not at a canter the way JB was... The band, Fishman in particular, elevated sh*t way the F*ck up tonight
, comment by Captain_Trips
Captain_Trips i think this review is more critical than i felt/feel

but still, you do make good points. cant wait to relisten to tube-> killer-> tube!

it got weird so fast
, comment by Ernesto_Wan_Kenobi
Ernesto_Wan_Kenobi PTers?
, comment by phleahman
phleahman That was my 78th show, and that review is way too critical. The band was having fun and the crowd had high energy. I find it hard to believe any phan left disappointed, the tube> psycho killer> tube was worth admission alone.

See y'all tonight, let's hope the rain passes......
, comment by bertoletdown
bertoletdown @phleahman said:
That was my 78th show, and that review is way too critical. The band was having fun and the crowd had high energy. I find it hard to believe any phan left disappointed, the tube> psycho killer> tube was worth admission alone.

See y'all tonight, let's hope the rain passes......
WHAT ARE YOU READING?

You actually call a positive review "way too critical" and then lift a sentence out of my review to prove your point???

The sentence by the way was about the Psycho Killer segment being worth the price of admission.

Ugh.
, comment by mgouker
mgouker LOL - you just can't win, can you? I was there last night too - my 5th of the tour. I thought it was a pretty good show, maybe a bit above average for the tour. Light Up was a highlight for me and I thought the second set was pretty nice too. Looking forward to more fun tonight. Thanks for your review!

Peace from Florida,

Michael
, comment by bertoletdown
bertoletdown I slightly revised a comment from the review above which talked about how Trey "strangled Ghost in its bed" with the Suzy intro. Upon second listen, I felt like the Ghost jam had really run its course. The 2 minutes of ambience at the end were really nice, if not at the level of the DC Golden Age, and I don't think there was anywhere to go with the Ghost at the point where it was interrupted. Not really a ripcord per se.
, comment by NigelTufnel
NigelTufnel I thought last night had a few moments of heat, but overall the band wasn't connected like they have been in several other shows this tour. See Chalk through Roses. At times, Trey wanted to push, and Fishman would ignore him. Half the band wanted to jam through Roses, and the other half stopped completely. Other times, a groove meatball was tossed right down the middle and the guys wouldn't hit it out of the park - instead, they would get quiet and dwindle. I love the dark and ambient Phish more than most, and I love that it has popped up on this first leg, but lately it usually indicates that the jam is coming to a close. They don't go Loud -> Melodic/Spacey -> New groove anymore (save Cincy Twist).

I find that the band has had too many ants in the pants when it comes to the jams lately. Sometimes, when a jam has run it's course and happens to be 10 minutes, it's perfect, like Worcester Roses. Other times, the jam remains unsatisfying and makes me think that they didn't push like they could have. Stash and Train from set 1, Carini, Sand, and even Ghost somewhat felt like windows were open and were tossed aside at a glance.

Now, it's not fair of me to expect the band to constantly push every single song they play, but I ask: "Why hold back?" When the potential is there and they seemed primed to go and get cold feet, I end up assuming that they're saving their creative juices or something for another point in the show. But when that point in the show comes off as forced or they don't connect, they've wasted a few of the organic opporunities that were there for the taking. That gets frustrating.

I know everybody gets annoyed at "this guy", but seriously - where is the length? The longest jam of the tour to this point is a 15 minute DWD. I know they're capable of more, but they simply refuse. To every single person out there who says "quality over quantity", I submit Bethel Waves soundcheck to you. It's both of those things. But minute 21 and beyond that we love so dearly wouldn'tve existed without the push. If it had ended at minute 12, or 15, or 20, yeah, it would be a great version. But the transcendent part of the jam takes place past that. How many transcendent moments have they denied themselves and us but opting to go into Golden Age or 2001 after a cool 10 min jam? All I'm saying is that they don't seem to have any interest in following the music for more than 12 minutes. It's a shame. Great jams this tour - but what is the defining piece? 2009 had Albany, 2010 had the fall shows and the MSG Tweezer/Ghost, last year had Bethel Waves, Clarkston set two, Storage, Gorge RnR and Tahoe Light...what is it this year? Has it happened yet? I don't think so. Will it? I can only hope.

Loved set one, but felt Horn and Corinna were uneccesary. They felt sort of throw-away-ish and, being good tunes, deserve better. Other than that, I would give set one an A-.
Set two...mixed bag. But will give it a solid B+. Good show, not perfect, but a notch above average. Let's see what happens this weekend!!
, comment by ThePhisher
ThePhisher Stopped reading this review after the words "welcome PTers" #invalidated
, comment by ThePhisher
ThePhisher @NigelTufnelCincy

The longest jam of the tour to this point is a 15 minute DWD.
Star Lake YEM was 20m fyi. But I hear ya.
, comment by safetymeeting
safetymeeting @bertoletdown said:
@phleahman said:
That was my 78th show, and that review is way too critical. The band was having fun and the crowd had high energy. I find it hard to believe any phan left disappointed, the tube> psycho killer> tube was worth admission alone.

See y'all tonight, let's hope the rain passes......
WHAT ARE YOU READING?

You actually call a positive review "way too critical" and then lift a sentence out of my review to prove your point???

The sentence by the way was about the Psycho Killer segment being worth the price of admission.

Ugh.
It's Chris, right? Chris, it's not you, it's them. Don't let 'em get you down.
, comment by MrJones
MrJones Great review, thanks!
, comment by NigelTufnel
NigelTufnel @ThePhisher said:
@NigelTufnelCincy

The longest jam of the tour to this point is a 15 minute DWD.
Star Lake YEM was 20m fyi. But I hear ya.
Yeah, I don't count YEM in general because a good chunk of it is composition. Even if you do count it, the drop off would be to the aforementioned Disease(s)
, comment by InsectEffect
InsectEffect
Great play-by-play review -- engaging reading for sure. I think the level of 'critical appreciation' is pretty much spot on here. Thanks Phish.net!

, comment by nichobert
nichobert So does pressing the reset button after the Roo imply that Worcester Is somehow less worthy?
Carini through If I Could is every bit as cohesive of a statement as the meat of any of these shows, and both nights really laid down the framework for what this tour has been about. From the multidimensional Ghost to the unexpectedly jammed out Roses to the shockingly nailed segue between Sand and Nellie Kane
, comment by nichobert
nichobert I'd rather have a tour with as much great improv as this one over a tour like 2010 and 2011 that have some defining jams simply because the fray was so easy to rise above.

I've been a type 2 junkie preferring dark, rolling ambiance for 15 years and to me this is easily the most complete version of phish I have ever heard. It's all coming together, and I think we ain't seen nothing yet
, comment by bertoletdown
bertoletdown @nichobert said:
So does pressing the reset button after the Roo imply that Worcester Is somehow less worthy?
No. I think Worcester had some amazing highlights. But also some uneven playing. I'd rather catch last night's show than either night of DCU, certainly.

Let's just not talk about Bonnaroo. It's a thorny topic and a dead horse and I don't want to upset anybody.
, comment by bertoletdown
bertoletdown @ThePhisher said:
Stopped reading this review after the words "welcome PTers" #invalidated
That's your loss. It's a pretty good review. And I know a lot of really good people who PT. Lots.
, comment by nichobert
nichobert Well that Roo Tweezer seemed like a pretty phenomenal piece but I can't say anything else good. Loved the unique take on Tweezer, dropping it down to nothing and slowly adding and changing the various nodules of melody.

I haven't heard last night, but 2nd set of the tour opener is comfortably in my top 3 of everything up through jones beach. AC 1 set 2 and burgettstown I guess as well.

Seem like the 3 most consistent sets by. Good bit. Last night looks like it could easily enter the battle
, comment by NigelTufnel
NigelTufnel @NigelTufnel said:
How many transcendent moments have they denied themselves and us but opting to go into Golden Age or 2001 after a cool 10 min jam?
, comment by Fitz2001
Fitz2001 Did anyone else see the awesome/maniacal dude COMPLETELY FREAKING OUT during Suzy and Antelope? He was way back on the lawn, Fishman side between the far-right and center-right balcony ramps. I dont mean your usual I'm loving this band and I'm drunk freak out, I mean he was jumping up and down, screaming, and scratching the trees with both hands for like 25 minutes. It was amazing. Anyone else see this, please tell me someone else was a witness to this hilarity.
, comment by Fitz2001
Fitz2001 . . . and he turned to stone for the Loving Cup encore, he was so disappointed.
, comment by WaxBrain
WaxBrain Anytime you get Tom and the Dude of Life....it's gonna be a good time.
And "Sally" was just utterly fantastic.
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