Saturday 07/07/2012 by pzerbo

SPAC2 RECAP

We’re coming around the home stretch for leg one of Phish’s 2012 summer tour, which by all reasonable accounts has been notable for the consistently quality performances. The variance between each gig has been very low and containing something for everyone, and the peaks – including last night’s absolutely ripping “Sneakin’ Sally” – have soared. In other words, they’ve been bringing the heat, every night. That sometimes gets lost when breaking down shows song-by-song with the minor quibbles and comparison’s that inevitably arise. We’ll offer some broader tour ending recaps and reviews in due time, but I wanted to get that out there. Here at phish.net we engage in a lot of historical analysis and comparison that isn’t for everyone, but that doesn’t mean we aren’t appreciating the here and now. The here and now is pretty awesome.

Kevin Shapiro kicked off the evening with From the Archives #16 part 2 on SiriusXM. Starting off from Phish’s first headlining performance at SPAC, we are treated to the absolutely sick 7/10/94Mike’s Song” -> “Low Rider” -> “Mike’s” > “I Am Hydrogen” > “Weekapaug.” Then what is widely considered the most innovative “Boogie On Reggae Woman” ever played, from the 9/18/99 performance in Chula Vista, CA, a singularly stunning achievement in group improvisation that thrills every bit as much now as it did then. “Maze” from 10/18/96 at Pittsburgh’s Civic Arena is next, followed by the lovely Trey jazz composition “Flat Fee” from the classic 7/20/91 Arrowhead Ranch gig with the Giant Country Horns.

A radical shift in tempo finds Kevin offering up the “Colonel Forbin’s Ascent” > “Fly Famous Mockingbird” from 8/7/93 with the classic “Roller Coaster of The Mind” narration inspired by the Darien Lake Theme Park (and Gamehendge, of course). Next is another gem from SPAC, the amazing “You Enjoy Myself” from 6/26/95, followed by the deep, profound classic, “In a Hole” from 12/9/89. To wrap things up, “Bug” from ~5am in The Show at Big Cypress, an amazing achievement of endurance and beauty all in one. Finally, a bonus snippet from the “Headphones Jam” as “filler” takes us right up to showtime. Thanks for a great archives show, Kevin, as always!

Set one of the live* action kicks off in the a cappella formation with “Grind” – the first since 12/31/10 MSG, 58 shows – followed swiftly by the embarrassingly underplayed “Possum,” finally ending the long national nightmare of the JadedVet™ in all of us. The action stays fun – if based on stock footage – with the “Golgi” > “Moma” combo. “Torn and Frayed” offers tonight’s first of what has been a summer chock full of choices from their previous Halloween albums. “Rift” keeps this set churning along at a workmanlike pace, though the song is welcome back to the first set (the last three had somehow escaped into the $ set).

[*“Live,” for those at the show. For those of us for whatever reason relegated to the couch, SiriusXM dropped the ball and had the show on at least a five minute delay. Perhaps they hadn’t heard of this new upstart “Twitter” that has fans couch touring from home enjoying with friends and others in real-time. In the future perhaps they could indicate that their “live” show is in fact a tape-delayed simulcast.]

Cities” breathes a bit of life from what was a lackluster first quarter with a sweet, sparse jam that was definitely good and could have really been great. Fortunately the hard ripcord stayed in the equipment rack in favor of a slick segue into “Maze.” “Lawn Boy” was its usual lounge lizardy self, albeit with a particularly inspired bass solo from Mike. A mostly clean rendition of “Peaches” gives way to “Bathtub Gin.” As it does so often, “Gin” anchors this set with its “typical” excellence, great stuff. “Good Times Bad Times” rocks the first frame to its conclusion. Thankfully stiff with competition (see for example Cincinnati, DC1, Alpine2 and JB2) this first set won’t be under consideration for best of the tour, but from “Cities” on out it was fun and well played. Good times.

Down with Disease” opens, and as our friend Scotty Bernstein noted it was the 20th “DwD” second set opener since the band returned to the stage at Hampton in 2009. Promising as always out of the gates, a brilliant and patient segue into “Blister in the Sun!” An awesome call and the first since 7/9/98 (390 shows). Though only one verse was sung it was a great treat, one of so many this tour. Back into an unfinished “Disease” and then an equally spectacular and spacey jam that yields to “Boogie On.” A bold choice given what so many fans had heard earlier in the day on From the Archives! We’ll leave that comparison for another day, but this version smoked and was perfectly placed and started to jump off a small cliff with Trey uncharacteristically (for “Boogie On”) looping over the rock of rhythm by Mike and Fish.

"Golden Age” has been one of Phish’s more reliable jam vehicles this tour. This version quickly settled into a nice groove with Page leading the way but, in the second silky smooth segue of the set, gave way to a spunky if “typically excellent” “2001” before any truly adventurous improv took place. An excellent “Backwards Down the Number Line” follows maintaining the upbeat mood of the set and featured an obligatory “Blister in the Sun” tease from Trey. A perfectly respectable (and unfinished) “Prince Caspian” fills the ballad slot for this evening and makes a surprisingly cool segue into the decidedly more up-tempo “Scent of a Mule.” The first since the excellent 6/23/12 Star Lake version, Page takes this one on a short ride before yet another game “Blister” jam and then back into “Mule!”

In an excellent placement call “Mike’s Song” leads the charge to the finish line, with yet more “Blister” teases from Trey in the intro and later in the jam. A hearty “Mike’s” it was, and instead of “Hydrogen” or “Simple” we are treated to a splendid surprise with the first “Contact” of the year, the first following “Mike’s Song” since 6/30/95. “Weekapaug” takes this train into the station, a breezy and fun if not expansive version, with some ‘thank you sir, may I have another’ “Blister” teases, ending this “blistering” (too easy, I know) set of Phish favorites. The encore wraps this show with an appropriately feisty “Sabotage” that Trey dedicated to Adam 'MCA' Yauch who passed away in May of this year. RIP, MCA!

The conclusion on this show? Pull yourselves up from your bootstraps and make your own. Yours is the only one that matters. We’ll see you back here tomorrow night to put a bow on the fabulous first leg of the tour. Drive safe!

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Comments

, comment by n00b100
n00b100 Kinda bittersweet that we got the Chula Vista Boogie On - it is a marvelous jam and everyone should hear it (having it in SBD is a dream), but this probably kills any chance we get the full show now. Ah well.
, comment by NigelTufnel
NigelTufnel @NigelTufnel said: (From SPAC 1 Recap)
How many transcendent moments have they denied themselves and us by opting to go into Golden Age or 2001 after a cool 10 min jam?
, comment by mcary
mcary Thanks for the musicdock tip. That was critical to twitter not being a spoilerfest!
, comment by ericwyman
ericwyman FYI, all Sirius programming is on a 7 minute delay via Internet. Listening via an actual radio is "live". I don't know why, that's just how it is
, comment by nichobert
nichobert Golden Age is the anthem put your damn hands up
Light is the theme song put your damn jeans on.

Thought that 2nd set was perfectly done. One of my favorite Caspians, Mules and Number Aline's ever immediately after finishing.

Bravo phish. Thank you for playing such an amazing show for my 46 Hour old daughter!
, comment by nichobert
nichobert Maybe Phish should never play songs? Every song technically denies the chance for transcendental moments. Unless you are one of those people who feels there are only a dozen or so songs that could ever produce a good jam, and only in the 2nd set.

Maybe one of those grown men who couldn't fathom that a 40 Minute Bouncing sign request wouldn't entail 40 minutes of singing fucking bouncin
, comment by ericwyman
ericwyman I tell you a song Phish should never perform.

Sabotage.

In a word, embarrassing. (and I know the crowd was going crazy and it was the most amazing thing you've ever seen, but if only you were listening)
, comment by AltimusJones
AltimusJones SPAC Gin = MSG10 Ghost
, comment by n00b100
n00b100 @ericwyman said:
I tell you a song Phish should never perform.

Sabotage.

In a word, embarrassing. (and I know the crowd was going crazy and it was the most amazing thing you've ever seen, but if only you were listening)
I don't mean this to sound dickish, but I kinda feel that Phish play for the audience in front of them and not for the people that will listen to the mp3s or FLACs afterwards, so if the crowd was going crazy and it's the most amazing they've ever seen, then mission accomplished. I don't like when they play Sabotage either, but if I ever got to see it live you can bet I'd be screaming the lyrics along with Trey.
, comment by bryontreece
bryontreece @ericwyman said:
I tell you a song Phish should never perform.

Sabotage.

In a word, embarrassing. (and I know the crowd was going crazy and it was the most amazing thing you've ever seen, but if only you were listening)
I'm w/you on this one. I was cringing while listening to the Sirius stream. It's really not a very difficult song to play, technically, but the guitar sounded either way out of tune, or more likely, Trey was just playing the wrong chords. It just flat out didn't sound good. I understand that if you're there, you're groovin' & it's great, etc., etc., but it was simply just not played well.
, comment by goldphish
goldphish Sabotage closer.....Seven/Seven, Sarasota Springs, SPAC, Saturday....bring back any 9/2 memories anyone?
, comment by safetymeeting
safetymeeting @ericwyman said:
I tell you a song Phish should never perform.

Sabotage.

In a word, embarrassing. (and I know the crowd was going crazy and it was the most amazing thing you've ever seen, but if only you were listening)
I mean, couldn't that be said about any song Trey sings?
, comment by Dividedsky333
Dividedsky333 Having been there I can tell u that Sabotage was sick live. Phish killed SPAC tonight
, comment by PhishMarketStew
PhishMarketStew Are yall kidding about Sabotage? there paying tribute in the phishyist way possible to a fellow musician post-mortem. who gives a damn what it sounds like?? just like this show it perfectly embodies the spirit of what phish is all about and judging from all the negative harping around these parts lately (save for the gr8 recap tonight), it seems like the spirit of this whole thing has been misplaced by alot of people.

Sorry if your being denied "transcendence" Nigel. you speak of it so glibly im starting to wonder if it has any value.
to achieve "transcendence" is a subjective experience nigel. their is no objective way to determine what is and isn't transcendent.
Phish is who they are. day in and day out. maybe if you find transcendence elsewhere you won't put such a huge burden on the phish from vermont. Do you really think for a second that they are "denying themselves" moments of transcendence? Have you actually listened to any of the shows this year? What emotional adjective would you use to describe how phish is feeling whilst performing with light sabers and sharing fun and intimate moments with their fans?
and then later in these same fun shows filled with playful antics and all time bustouts the phish from vermont have managed to put together some STUNNING jams in 2nd sets that have had a few too many peaks and valleys.
We're also getting some of the most well crafted encores ever.
theres never gonna be another 97'. people have been asking the question alot recently, "is it wrong to want more from Phish" and whether the question is meant to be rhetorical or not i just wanna answer it with Yes.
to each his own, but in my mind phish has given us plenty and continues to give in spades. i dont care about the bad sets, the flubs or any other criticism.
this has been the best tour of 3.0 to my ears and ive thrown expectations out the window. besides, theirs no way these 50 year old men should be playing this well. having this much fun, and busting out hundreds of different songs in only 15 gigs! not to mention birthing some of the most modern, thrilling and achingly gorgeous jamming since....well, the last time they did it.
theres always room to quibble about this and that, its a fun part of phish, always has been. it just seems to have taken on a much heavier and more negative connotation as of late. and that sucks. cause it feels like some people are missing out on a helluva time. and missing the point.
, comment by Kurtzboy
Kurtzboy While streaming, I defintely thought that this was one of the best second sets this year. I had a great time streaming (despite the delay), and I wish that sirus was doing it tonight too. If this was 2011, this would be considered one of the better (if not one of the best) shows. Instead, in 2012, this is just another great show among many.
, comment by mikh2wg
mikh2wg On the subject of Sabatoge, I think you guys are confusing yer genres. It's not prog rock or classical, it's not supposed to be perfectly played. It's supposed to rock yer ass off. Did it? Then mission accomplished. I've seen video of the Beastie Boys playing that tune and they focused more on jumping around the stage and pumping up the energy than hitting every note. Money Mark was doing handstands on his keyboards. It's not really the most serious musical endeavor.
That said, I have seen some well played versions, the two times it was played in 98 are tight.
, comment by AlbanyYEM
AlbanyYEM Well it seems again as if we are having the "I want more" vs "How dare you!" debates about the quality of music phish is playing these days. The dichotomy is repeated ad nauseum on here and elsewhere as people either try to relive the glory days or are easily and somehow deeply offended that people could ever *gasp* want more from the band.

The first prong of this debate involves a misconstrued conception of reality. I'll just get the disclaimer out of the way before Nigel misreads this and accuses me of listening to Bouncin or Heavy Things on repeat with tears of joy in my eyes: they ARE capable of playing glorious 20 min jams and probably even 30 min jams. I'll even admit to the bias that I secretly believe that anyone who doesn't want this kind of thing isn't much of a phish fan. We saw a few moments of this last year Pine Knob/UIC et al, but for the most part this was what made these shows so special rather than something to go out and look for night after night.

We have not seen this kind of jamming in 2012. We simply have not, and that is purely objectively factual. Look for structure> ambience or storage psych> structure> key shift/tempo change more structure. It's just not there because 15 mins is not enough time to organically flow between these kind of movements. Disease supreme had 5 or 6 of these. This year what you get out of the gates is subject to finding the melody in the groove and elaborating on it without drastically changing the overall feel of the jam. A good example was the Alpine fee (that for what its worth I thought was easily one of the best jams of the year in either set) that bled ambient with some tasteful snareless accompaniment by fish and was a melodically blissful ride. One might even say "transcendent," ahem. Then trey signaled a key shift into minor territory that everyone hopped on immediately and the jam eventually turned to space and ended, to my ears, perfectly. Any more would have been superfluous, an attempt to jam just for jamming sake instead of where the piece was taking them.

That fee was one of the best examples of the kind of jamming phish is doing this year. There are no massive juggernautics of jam, but they HAVE returned to the joy of playing the music again. How many stale Antelopes and Bowies has 2009-2011 brought us? I shudder to think, and to me that aspect of the overall show was part of my ambivalence towards the band. Not that I'd stop listening or going to shows and generally enjoy the shit out of phish anytime I could, but that the band itself sometimes did not seem into playing there own music, especially of the slave/hood/bowie/antelope variety. These songs are meant not only to be played but to be played with. The built-in payoff at the end of the jams in return to the anthemic climax *requires* the build to get them there. Now, how many can we say have fallen flat in 2012? A few to be sure, but...not fucking many! The phrase gear shift has legitimately returned to the antelope, the bowie is interlaced with phrases from the previous jams (not unnecessary teasing ala UIC night 3), the hood has been deconstructed and reconstructed, the stash has returned to a song worth hearing. There are multiple mini jams gems in the first set (roses, fee, tube, etc) again for flavor. The antics are back.

To me, this is all evidence of a band just enjoying the shit out of playing music in a way that we haven't heard since maybe 98-99. I don't mean to say that the quality of the jams is better than 2003 or june '04, but simply that I don't see the need for them to take an extended hiatus again anytime soon. If they are so into playing music again with each other, then we can relax and let the music come to them instead of feeling like if they don't start playing the big jams immediately then we simply won't ever hear them again. It took a long time for me to develop the patience to understand this arc of development in the re-evolution of the band. Patience that trey in particular is displaying, ironically, this year more than any other. How many times has the ripcord been pulled this year vs last year? Dont get me wrong @NigelTufnel , OF COURSE I WANT TO HEAR LONG GLORIOUS DRIPPING TRANSCENDENT JAMS. But I don't need to be a prick about it, and can accept that rebuilding an developing a new ethos can take years. My only gripe with you really is not that you want these jams but that you seem to think that they can play like its 97 again, no problem. I went down that road in 2009, 10, and portions of 11. It left me a bitter jaded cross-armed malcontent before I realized I needed to accept the band for what it is now rather than what I think it should be. When they are fully comfortable going after the monster jams then they will do so. It's a bit like expecting Jordan to come out of retirement and expect him to play like its 1992 or something.

I really do think that eventually the pattern of phish shows and likelihood of jamming will be more like we've heard in past eras, but that does not mean that we have to incessantly be disappointed with them for not being there already. The patience displayed in the lesser jam vehicles, finally!, to my ears rounds out these shows to a much more satisfying plane then the occasional holy-grail-20+minuter surrounded by shows that as a whole are lackluster. How many shows did you feel that you could easily skip dloading last year and how many of them are there this year? What about 10? And 09? Though we all enjoy the band in slightly different ways, I think I can be presumptuous enough to assume that the band, as a whole, has gotten better each year they've been back. Part of enjoying those jams involves the patience from the band to get to them, the patience from the listener to appreciate the subtleties of the journey, and ultimately (and most importantly) the ability to enjoy the ride getting there. We are on that ride right now and its a pretty apt but cheesy metaphor for life in general. We don't know where the "there" is, but I don't for a minute think that phish has lost the desire to jam the shit out of the jams. When they feel comfortable, and not forcing things, this will happen, but in the meantime there are some pretty fucking good shows going on.

A quick aside here, perhaps some people are acquiring only the lengthier jams (relatively speaking of course...) of the shows instead of listening to the whole show start start to finish. I won't be the phish listening nazi here but I just want to suggest that a whole show, in its entirety, gives you a much different perspective then the ADHD-style jam-whore bouncing from show to show listening to disease twist and sand only. Just a thought, no need to reconfigure the playlists! Haha

So the misconstrued reality I spoke of paragraphs ago about the "I want more" fan simply boils down to a skewed perspective surely influenced by past eras and, I suspect, a lack of patience. This year is not, in any objective sense, a poor year for phish shows as a whole or even for phish jamming. They seem to me to be reinforcing the foundations of their jams and shows as a whole by giving time to the subtleties of building some tension in the lope (and many many other smaller jams vehicles) and trey allowing somebody else to take the lead. Has anybody commented on FISHMAN? Dear god, he seems reinvigorated. How about Mike blocking the door to returning the the frame of the jam and instead opening the door back to the jam itself? Trey stepping back (97 anyone???) and allowing the jam to take hold without preconceived notions? To me, people who only look at the lengths are missing the interplay. And the interplay, of course, is HOW WE GET TO LONGER JAMS. One more time though: of course I want to hear long jams. Sorry for the lengthiness but sometimes unless you spell it out for people they can take what you say out of context and turn your post into the exact opposite of what you mean. It's aggravating and a little too PT-ish for my taste.

And finally, to all the how-dare-you-ever-speak-ill-of-phish fans out there: lighten the fuck up, please, just a little? It really is possible to criticize the band without your head exploding from cognitive dissonance. We've all been to that show that sounded great when we were there (and even pretty damn good on playback) but one reviewer for one reason or another really did not like. And that is not only cool, but vital for a healthy flow of information. These reviews would mean nothing if they were all fluff pieces. It would be like an 80's Yugolsavian newspaper. Everything is great! All hail the party! I know this is a bit of a ridiculous analogy, but the foundations of free speech and intelligent thought are based on disagreement.

Not every show is a keeper, but thank god phish.net bloggers are here to provide some kind of attempt at objectivity in an inherently subjective sphere of reflection. There are plenty of overly-negative posts in the thread that seem reasonable enough to rip on, but I have yet to read a review from the staff here that entirely dropped the ball. Of course I don't agree with everything they say and sometimes they don't really go deep enough in the reviews for my taste. But they are a hell of a good conversation starter, and are not meant to represent the jaded "party-line." One mark of intelligence is understanding that there may be inherent logical contradictions and inconsistencies to reality and that subtlety and nuanced thought is necessary rather than heresy.
, comment by Dividedsky333
Dividedsky333 All the haters need to take the "glass half empty" glasses off. This SPAC run has been a fitting cap to an amazing tour. Ive been to a lot of shows this leg of the tour, and the biggest change I've noticed is in the lot scene and the bathroom line inside the show. There are so many less Haters coming to see phish in 2012, than at any other time in 3.0.

I'm gonna start calling the haters Doubters, since all you really do is doubt that the four band members can pull off a well-executed show. I'm also going to start calling the Doubters, Doubting Trolls, since the vast majority of the negativity thrown towards the band is found on online forums where all words are spoken behind the mask of anonymity.

Fact of the matter is you'd barely get away with that kind of negative talk if you were a fan of any other band, group, team, etc.......If you were a sports fan, would u go see your favorite team and then spend the game booing your team? You might....but most of the other fans around you would probably be confused as to why a fan would be trashing the team they came to support?

Some guy at SPAC last night started goin off on a negative rant in the middle of "Cities", complaining that the song was being played too slow. When he tried to get agreement from those around him, he was completely ignored.... because everyone was too busy dancing!! The guy promptly left that patch of crowd when he realized he was being ignored. Good. If you have ears that work and you know how focus your attention on the loud music coming from the speakers, then it's almost impossible not to find your body spontaneously moving with the rhythm, no matter how slow Fish drops the beat.

I listen to a lot of different bands, but Phish is my all time favorite, precicely because they offer something that no other band touring can offer. Knowing about this uniqueness keeps every show in its proper perspective.

The only way anyone could turn into a "jaded vet" is if they lost perspective on how Phish fits into the larger scheme of Music History......not just the smaller scheme of the closed system that is Phishtory.

When either Trey, Page, Mike, or Fish finally die and Phish is forever finished with no hope of reunion, then and only then will all the haters finally have an epiphany that they completely wasted 3.0 bitching and moaning instead of dancing their asses off and appreciating the gift that has been this extended reunion.

A closed system cannot observe itself. Get some proper perspective.
, comment by NigelTufnel
NigelTufnel @HarryHerring

Well, first of all, I was more enamored with the fact that I said they end jams and go into Golden Age or 2001 - which they did in succession last night after Boogie On, so I thought the call was that much more funny. Almost like they read it beforehand.

But as far as 'transcendence' goes, I think it's YOU missing the point. I acknowledge that this has been the best tour of 3.0 top to bottom, with crisp playing and excellent variety. When they do decide to get into type II, the material they produce is instantly classic. It truly is a blend of everything they've been working on in their careers up to this point - but this year (so far) is the only one to lack length on the jamming end. Don't kid yourself. You know they can do it. Maybe it isn't your thing. To each his own - but you can't tell me that Phish has to trade jamming length for quality/stage banter & humor, etc. For some people, and maybe this isn't you, the aspect of Phish that is loved most is their improvisation deep into jams. I don't give a shit if it's '94, '97, '98, 2003 or 2009. They are the only band in the universe that can do what they do in uncharted waters. And by refusing to go there (only on THIS tour mind you), especially given their quality of play and fresh ideas, I feel like we're missing out on some potentially all-time stuff. Case in point: last night with Fishman bailing on the Boogie jam.

Listen man, you think I'm not enjoying the Hell out of this tour? You're dead wrong. I love the inspired playing, the on stage antics, the setlist variety; you name it. I too can look past bad sets and don't mind flubs. But when they don't take any sort of extended risk improvisationally (I'm talking 15 minutes+), then I feel annoyed. No, it doesn't have to be every show. But dude, come on. It hasn't been ONCE this tour. It's the only thing missing and it feels like they aren't even attempting to try. That's frustrating from my end. I'm glad your Phish experience is at an all time high, I'm right there with you, but you can't deny that jamming has been on a downward curve this leg. There's nothing wrong with pointing it out, because that's what fans who care deeply about the band do. Lots of people are fine with this - I am not. The beat rolls on.

If you think Fishman tucking in his dress in transcendence, good. Then you've gotten your mind blown this tour. If you think the Clarkston Disease from last year is transcendent, then you're still waiting. Stillll waiting...
, comment by Alumni
Alumni regarding sabotage . . . well, they say it's the thought that counts.
, comment by Alumni
Alumni This talk about how it takes years to evolve, and that everything we've seen over the last 3 years is leading up to an eventual return to jammy roots . . . wow.

Wow.

It shows that you can convince yourself of just about anything, if you try hard enough. Phish is what it is (are what they are). Think of 94 experimentation, 95 summer space camp, fall 95 psychadelimetal, 96 talking heads funk, 97 cowfunk, 98 pornfunk, 99 e-phish.

This is the 4th year of Phish being what they are. They've never been *less* dynamic over a 4-year span in their entire career. They may be changing and improving in some areas, but they're also staying pretty true to formula in others. It is what it is, folks.
, comment by AlbanyYEM
AlbanyYEM Infancy through adolescence, whether it be in the case of an organism or a culture or a band's music, is a time of hyper-accelerated growth that is not a sustainable system for longevity. It is necessary in the developing and maturing stages for phase shifts to occur at a rate that would exhaust and burn out an older phenomenon. Specifically, with Phish progressing through jamming styles from 93-00 represented a band in this maturing phase. Now that members of the band are pushing 50, I think it's neither unexpected nor unwarranted to allow a longer time frame for development that reflects a maturing sound that is relevant and not self-referential but is actively and slowly finding its way past the boundaries of redundancy and structurelessness.

Without change, they would truly be a nostalgia act or a stagnant culture or a dying organism. With change that progresses too quickly, the foundations will not be there to support the adventure. I for one think that they will eventually get back to pushing things farther out of the box because they will get bored with doing things the same way. This is kind of the essence of phish, that with each plateau it is not enough to ride the wave, that they are serious musicians who care about the quality of their sound and not content with repetition. This is why they broke up the band in 2000, a feeling of ennui, the we've been to the mountain top now where do we go?

On further reflection it seemed to me that this was a necessary step in the progression of the band as they searched for new ways to be enveloped into the unknown. We all know why 2004 ended the way it did, and this was reflected in the deep dissatisfaction that Trey had with his life in general. Before we argue about how I could possible know this, can we all agree that a drug addict, any drug addict, is generally unhappy with life?

2.0 is some of my favorite phish precisely because they drank so deeply from the pool of mystery tending towards dark psychedelia. BUT, it seemed as if they had strayed too far and had not maintained proper foundations too allow the search to continue. 3.0 can be frustrating in terms of the speed of development. They are a better band this year BUT have not taken the 20+ plunge. I don't see why its so naively optimistic to think that in the next couple of years they will pull together the nuanced play that 2012 offers with the willingness to take the deep risk that 2011 came up with a few times. The peak jams of last year showed both a capability and a willingness; the attention to detail of this year demonstrates a rock solid foundation. Put them both together and you've got a completely reincarnated band.

It might, might, gasp I know, turn out that phish needed to slowly submerge itself into the waters instead of diving off the deep end, and this is exactly how they have done it. 5 years off and a sober trey are going to change things. 88-92 wasn't exactly a jammers paradise either, but they were building the foundation of that journey that 93-98/99 became. It takes time to do this, like Jerry relearning how to play guitar. I know I'm going to get some thumbs down for the dead analogy but it seems somewhat similar to 86-88 for the dead with the renaissance of 89-90 to come.

Final point: you mention 94-98 in the years of prime development for phish. What about 86/87-92?? Those early shows are exciting for how much love the band had for simply playing music and for us historically recognizing the seed of what they would become in some of the diamond-in-the-rough shows from that era. Why can't 3.0 be looked at in similar fashion? They are essentially attempting to reinvent themselves and I think that you are the one kidding yourself if you think either: they haven't changed from 09-12 or that they will never again be capable of throwing down consistently large jamming shows.
, comment by Alumni
Alumni Phish is different things to different people. To folks of my generation and mindset, yes, Phish is absolutely a nostalgia act, though I don't give that quite the negative connotation that others do.

Phish just played a 15-minute Sally that was really pretty cool, and broke out of the usual song structure. Did I write that today? Nope. August 2009, following a Gorge run that also gave us a Bathtub Gin that (IMO) was better than any that have followed. (There was a pretty good one this tour, pre-SPAC, though I'm spacing on the details.)

Anyway, the subject is change vs evolution: I can think of changes since 09 (tightening the rotation for Fall 09, focusing on rock). In 2010, changes were sponsored by digitech. These days, Trey is playing guitar less with his foot.

Throughout it all, though, I've seen no real evidence of evolution. I'm curious to know what gives you that impression. Trey still does some things well and, on the flip side, he's still fundamentally limited, and that hasn't changed a whole lot since 09. That is, he doesn't have that touch. He can pick lightly (plinko) and he can rawk, but when he tries for something in-between, it usually doesn't go so well. That missing touch is one reason why the band can't recreate their old crescendos even when they try (though in some cases, such as Piper, they've pretty much stopped trying).

So, yeah, it's fundamentally an exercise in nostalgia for many of us oldsters. But the thing is, time keeps moving on. There's a new generation now. Maybe they care about the music that hooked me, maybe they don't. Based on my impressions, Phish 3.0 is playing to their audience. Complainers like me notwithstanding, I bet that the majority of the folks who go to Phish shows these days are getting exactly what they want - lots of songs that they wanted to hear, and pretty pretty lights.

That's why I don't think change is in the air. Phish may not have the most conventional business model, but that doesn't mean they aren't good at business.
, comment by bertoletdown
bertoletdown @mikh2wg said:
On the subject of Sabatoge, I think you guys are confusing yer genres. It's not prog rock or classical, it's not supposed to be perfectly played. It's supposed to rock yer ass off. Did it?
No.

There is a big difference between CBGB-loose and Ween-style "brown" and the flat-out suck.
, comment by elfinito
elfinito The Merryweather '98 Sabotage was awesome. The Lemonwheel was ok...since then it has not been played well -- but it is still fun as hell.

As for the absurd thread of Phish jamming Thesis writing -- Subjectivity folks.
, comment by safetymeeting
safetymeeting @Alumni said:
So, yeah, it's fundamentally an exercise in nostalgia for many of us oldsters. But the thing is, time keeps moving on. There's a new generation now. Maybe they care about the music that hooked me, maybe they don't. Based on my impressions, Phish 3.0 is playing to their audience. Complainers like me notwithstanding, I bet that the majority of the folks who go to Phish shows these days are getting exactly what they want - lots of songs that they wanted to hear, and pretty pretty lights.

That's why I don't think change is in the air. Phish may not have the most conventional business model, but that doesn't mean they aren't good at business.
Exactly. To play sheds and arenas, you've gotta know what's up with your music and your audience. The counterculture element of Phish is gone. The audience is no longer mostly weirdos. I'll go to a Phish show expecting long jams and psychedelic freak-outs when I'll expect the same from a Dave Matthews Band show.
, comment by rebadances
rebadances Couldn't agree more. Thanks for the articulation ^^^
, comment by The_Optimistic_Vet
The_Optimistic_Vet Regarding Sabotage, sure, Trey screams worse than he sings. But has he ever been, or even tried, to be a sterling vocalist? So why expect that now?!

I think it was Trey in Bittersweet Motel suggest a gigs' all about the energy, and suggesting fans (and he) don't go into a show expecting to hit all the notes and changes right. Rather its about the energy; and that Sabotage, especially after the quick mention of MCA, blew the roof off SPAC and left everyone in a sweaty daze to get to their car.

The second set had energy, and thats why you wont hear too many sub par reviews on Sabotage...

Energy, not notes...
, comment by PhishMarketStew
PhishMarketStew yea, i dont know Nigel. I just feel like so many awesome jams have come to their conclusion this year without stepping into 20+min waters. They can fit more into a 15 min jam now so that it packs a punch right on par with something thats 21 minutes. this feels like early 90s phish as far as the setlists and the spirit in which they're playing and goofing around with the elements of every other year thrown in. we're getting some of the most nasty funk since 97', some of the most avant garde stuff since 94'. man of course they COULD be more patient and let jams go 3 or 4 minutes longer but it certainly isn't the difference between greatness and something else at this point, at least not to me. phish already climbed the mountain and blew the top off that bastard and now i just see them as a band who came back down to share what they discovered. they're joy with being onstage is infectious. they've been blowing my mind all summer. maybe now that the race to 200 is over (was it Contact?) they'll chill out a little bit and satiate your need for a little extra sauce on the jams but even if they don't you can still find transcendence in the music. theres nothing wrong with adjusting you expectations, we do it in life all the time.
, comment by phunky58
phunky58 I attended this show and i would give it a 2.9 out of 5. definitely one of the fews shows of this tour that was a definite letdown for me. they need to bring back that type II exploratory jamming heat for the first leg closer(it's been missing the past 3 shows). As always I will be listening intently. I absolutely love this band and when they play a second set like star like i praise them for it big time, but when they pllay a show like second night of spac i'm going to be real and tell it like it is. I am critical but i also am welll aware of how unbelievable this band can be. that being said cant wait for tonight.
, comment by safetymeeting
safetymeeting @phunky58 said:
I attended this show and i would give it a 2.9 out of 5.
That's a 5.9/10 for those of you who are more accustomed to the "Pitchfork" scale.
, comment by Dressed_In_Gray
Dressed_In_Gray Phish in 2012 can cram more Musical Travails into 7-8 min of jamming, than what it took them 15-17 min to accomplish in 1996 as they were honing their chops on the Type II. A lot of those jams went nowhere for a long time, an then they found their legs, then wandered aimlessly some more before finding another voice.

I'd listen to most any 10-15 min tune filled with jam from 2012 before I'd listen to that 25 min Wolfman's from Champagne IL in Fall 97, which I saw live. Of course, I actually got to see that Disease Supreme, so I am a little spoiled as of late in that dept. The ensemble playing this year is spectacular.

Want proof? I HATE Golden Age, almost as much as My Soul (which is saying volumes.) Always have. TV On The Radio can sniff my anal vapor. But I listen and listen and listen again to multiple versions from this year because the jams are so solid.

I'd personally like to see more true segues rather than spacy outros that fade into the next tune, but I have *always* said that.

So whine if you like people, because your sort has been around for decades in this scene (D00D, that Reba sucked. It was only 11 min long.) If you stay home instead of hitting a show, that is fine by me. It just means I can get lawns at the box office for face value on the day of the show.

All I know is that after two years of light touring, and with this latest tour covered in Awesomesauce, they are poised for an Epic 30th Anniversary Tour next year. I am saving my pennies starting now...
, comment by mikh2wg
mikh2wg @Dressed_In_Gray said:
Phish in 2012 can cram more Musical Travails into 7-8 min of jamming, than what it took them 15-17 min to accomplish in 1996 as they were honing their chops on the Type II. A lot of those jams went nowhere for a long time, an then they found their legs, then wandered aimlessly some more before finding another voice.

I'd listen to most any 10-15 min tune filled with jam from 2012 before I'd listen to that 25 min Wolfman's from Champagne IL in Fall 97, which I saw live. Of course, I actually got to see that Disease Supreme, so I am a little spoiled as of late in that dept. The ensemble playing this year is spectacular.
.
Hear Hear! There are not that many 30+ min jams that stay awesome the whole way through. I also love the new compact style and I think it will stand the test of time better than the 3rd set of 10/31/98 (just an example).
, comment by User_11821_
User_11821_ MCA says, meh.
, comment by lumpblockclod
lumpblockclod @mikh2wg said:
Hear Hear! There are not that many 30+ min jams that stay awesome the whole way through. I also love the new compact style and I think it will stand the test of time better than the 3rd set of 10/31/98 (just an example).
That's kind of an odd comparison, as your "just an example" is one of the most maligned and controversial sets in Phish history.
, comment by mikh2wg
mikh2wg @bertoletdown said:
@mikh2wg said:
On the subject of Sabatoge, I think you guys are confusing yer genres. It's not prog rock or classical, it's not supposed to be perfectly played. It's supposed to rock yer ass off. Did it?
No.

There is a big difference between CBGB-loose and Ween-style "brown" and the flat-out suck.
Ok, upon a closer listen you were absolutely right. This was not a good version.
, comment by WaxBrain
WaxBrain Man, I loved this whole show to very lofty levels while there...just had a blast.
That 2nd set was righteous.
I mean, who cant love the pure joy they're playing with these days??
When a band this exceptional is actually having fun playing together, you should count your blessings and enjoy, cos it's just not the norm.
I'm digging the 2012 Phish.....
, comment by TreyFase
TreyFase I thought the first set was pretty dam good with the band leaving the stage with everyone screaming and cheering. Second set started out with a bang but quickly the band lost it. Nobody was connecting at all and we went from 2001 into # ------ the vibe was quickly sucked out of the pav. There were points in the 2nd set where the band was just noodling and playing dribble. The end of Weekapaug was played with such little intensity, you could tell they wanted to go home.
, comment by fishmarketstew
fishmarketstew Re: Sabatoge

Take a listen to this slopfest and tell me it was played at all well:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1YfRnIM5Yes

I'm sorry, but with this song, it's ALL about the crowd energy. If it seems like a given crowd will respond to Phish's sloptastic version of Sabotoge the way that the SPAC n2 crowd did, then they certainly SHOULD play it again.
, comment by Jevers
Jevers @ericwyman said:
I tell you a song Phish should never perform.

Sabotage.

In a word, embarrassing. (and I know the crowd was going crazy and it was the most amazing thing you've ever seen, but if only you were listening)
Shut the f$%# up and RAGE!!!!
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