Monday 07/15/2013 by TheEmu

MPP2: GRATITUDE

In the lot before last night’s show at Merriweather Post Pavilion, @mikh2wg, @the_Crested_Hogchoker, @GhettoSloth, @ivy_light and myself were discussing how many people (including some of us) had a strongly negative reaction the first time we heard Phish. It seems so unthinkable to me now that there was a time when a friend gleefully played for me a newly acquired tape of 8/14/93 and my response was something along the lines of “Well, that’s nice, dear. But do you realize that idiot is trying to play a vacuum cleaner?” Sloth speculated that 30% of people hate Phish’s music the first time they hear it. I was one of those people once, but almost two decades later, here I was about to see my 30th show. Ain’t love funny?

Last night’s first set was an expert blend of high energy, funk, funny, and pure musicianship that left my jaw hanging. “First Tube” is such a powerful opener, flooding the venue with exuberance. This one was tight and I loved the sudden drop in volume in the middle of the composed section. “First Tube” plugs directly into our first funk fix of the night, “The Moma Dance,” and everything is just working at this point. Fish is filling with little rolls and splashes and vocals, and there’s fantastic wokka-chikka and little licks from Trey. “NICU” is up next, and now Mike catches my ear with dips and flourishes in his bass line. Fantastic way to start the evening.

“Roses Are Free” always puts a smile on my face, extended or not, and I noticed that someone threw what I assume was a bouquet of roses on stage for Trey, who politely and deftly set it down next to his mug without losing his place in the song. What a gentleman he is. “Chalk Dust Torture” gives us another energy boost, and does so with a fairly impeccable jam. A lengthy conference follows before we are treated to the highlight of the first set, “Stash.” Mike and Trey are communicating well right away, and then Page joins in, all with sad and tender phrasing. By 6:40 (LP timing) they begin a shift to the major and stay there for about a minute in a passage which is simply beautiful. Everyone shines, but I love the freedom that Mike has here to create rich, heartfelt tones. Then they just move effortlessly back to the minor, and back to the “Stash” theme proper. The fluid and natural shifts in mood and style within jams is one of my favorite elements of 3.0 Phish, and I thought to myself at this point that even if they just complete this jam in typical “Stash” fashion, I will love it for that transition from sad to joyous and back again without skipping a beat. Yet the conversation continues, each band member contributing, until at 8:54, with Fish leading the way via woodblock tapping, when things get AMAZING. Jazz piano, fat bass, funky guitar. Trey employs some expert, focused use of the whammy pedal in this section, which culminates in a feedback-infused second return to “Stash.” Oh, yes, this band can play.

I don’t know why Kitty Malone would slam on her mule, but we’ll give Mike a pass since “Scent of a Mule” hasn’t been played since SPAC2 last year. I so enjoy seeing what antics they will come up with for the Mule Duel, and this one was great. First, Trey and Mike face off in something that almost sounded like a classical piece. Then, Trey points to Fish, who finally debuts his Marimba Lumina that has been looming in the background since tour began. The effect was hypnotic, bizarre, and terrific, and I’m a little convinced Fish would still be playing it if Trey hadn’t tossed an errant balloon at Fish to break his concentration. And we’re still not done with the first set. “It’s Ice” is not just played well, it features a short jam that is flat-out funk NASTY and will require an update to the jamming chart. Yes, there was a time when "It's Ice" would often feature a variety of cool jams in the middle, so seeing one sneak back in is a refreshing development. The transition back to the ending theme is flubbed, but no bother, it’s an absolute must-hear version for “It’s Ice” fans. Need more funk in your life? Need to double your tube intake? You’re in luck, “Tube” is up next. It’s a quick dose, but quite welcome (and listen for the “It’s Ice” tease from Trey at the start of the jam). To put the exclamation point on a total beast of a first set is a total beast, “Run Like an Antelope.” (Fun stats fact: I’ve seen 30 shows and this was my 12th Antelope, a 40% clip.) This is a textbook Antelope, sleek, clean, and on fire. Can’t think of any better way to head to the break.

While “Stash” is a good example of what I love about 3.0, the start of set two is a good example of what I find frustrating about it. The jam out of “Golden Age” does spin its wheels for a couple of minutes, but it did sound to me like it was starting to get traction. Barely four minutes in to the jam, though, it is allowed to die off, with “Twist” bursting forward. Sometimes I think you need to press forward through a tough section, find an idea, rather than just abandoning a jam and starting over with a new song. Of course, what do I know? I’m just a recapper, and this is Monday morning frontmanning. (Spoiler alert: I’m about to do it again.) “Twist” begins with a great, angry solo from Trey and hits a sweet peak before settling back to a groove fueled by spectacular drumming from Fishman. Then they get stuck again, sounding like they’re grasping for an idea, and suddenly, quite jarringly, Trey launches back into the closing lyrics. To follow that up with “Backwards Down the Number Line” was not an encouraging sign for me at that point. I enjoy the song, but it’s placement in the set made me worried about a repeat of the previous night’s set two, which I didn’t find particularly compelling. Trey, however, knows more about music than I know about almost anything. Ripcording “Golden Age” and “Twist” may have been exactly the right call. If they had eaten up too much set time with pointless meandering in search of a theme, we might have missed out on what followed.

“Light” got me back in the game right away because of its exploratory prowess. “Light” can lead you anywhere, and this version led us back to the place where we started the evening. For the non-fan, what begins to develop around the seven minute mark is going to sound cacophonous. It probably sounds that way to many hardcore fans as well. To me, it was thrillingly insane, a transmission of alien greetings sent from the Antennae Galaxies (see Trey’s playing at 9:11). All of this is set amidst fiendish stop-start jamming. It ate my brain. I loved it. In 1993, I would have hated the crap out of it. And out of one of those breaks, Mike turns on the follower, and Ivy (my wife) calls for “Boogie on Reggae Woman,” as I swear she does *every single time* Mike uses that effect. Well, she nailed it this time, and the segue is perfectly executed, leading us from synaptic restructuring to booty rotation like only Phish can.

To prep us for the end of the set, we are treated to the best version of “Julius” EVER. Who needs a breather, right? And with such a fantastic show now mostly behind us, there is really only one appropriate way to close the second set: “You Enjoy Myself.” Now YEM is YEM, and no one is going to complain about getting one, even when the composed sections are less than perfect, as is the case here. This holds for even your everyday rendition, but this is NOT an everyday rendition of YEM. From the start of the jam, it’s just dialed in to the flavor of the show. Trey on the wah, plucking and scratching, Fishman sizzling and popping, Mike pouring buckets of funk all over everything, stop, start, get down and dance! Every break in this jam is nailed, every space is either filled or left empty to perfection. I’m not sure how long it’s been since I’ve heard a “You Enjoy Myself” that I’ve enjoyed this much, and it was a blissful way to end the set.

“Loving Cup” encore. We joke, and it’s overused in the slot, but it rages. ‘Nuff said.

Please forgive this tired commentator for not having heard everything that has been played so far this summer. I’ve tried to hit the highlights, the jams people have been talking about, since I haven’t been able to listen to every show in its entirety. I have a hard time believing, though, that I will hear a show from the tour to this point that I will enjoy more than this one. There are “must-hear” versions of “Stash,” “It’s Ice,” “Light,” and “You Enjoy Myself,” plus flame throwing renditions of “First Tube,” “Run Like an Antelope,” and even the first section of “Twist.” It was a superb night.

These days the emotion I most associate with Phish is gratitude. Not just gratitude for a show like last night, of course, but gratitude for being a part of this, for being allowed to get IT and share the experience with a community of friends. I’m so thankful for the music, for the memories, for the way my life has been changed and for the people that have changed it. And I am thankful for whatever force it was that opened my soul to the stupid band that covers Prince with a vacuum cleaner.

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Comments

, comment by n00b100
n00b100 Awesome recap, Emu. You pretty much nailed everything I was thinking about the show as I was listening to it live. Only, like, better. :)
, comment by MDosque
MDosque Thanks so much for that Emu - I liked Saturday more than most people but I was also in the pit and Page was grinning directly at me the whole time (I swear it wasn't the hot college chicks next to me!!). Still, I thought Trey particularly was playing great. But Sunday, bloody Sunday, wow. After doing the lot scene all day Saturday and being the family man I am, I made a last second call to do Sunday dad-style like an old man. Left my house in DC at 6:15, parked at the mall, scored my lawn ticket on the way in, waltzed up to the center lawn and met the crew just as First Tube fires up. Oh yes. Shirt off, dancing like a sweaty fool up there all night to that funk. The crowd was much more into it than Saturday and grooving as one. Great, stellar vibes. I am still in the post show "it was awesome" mindset, but I'm pretty sure it was awesome. Funky dance fest on that muddy slope up there all night. Just got out of my first meeting of the morning and I was smirking like the Cheshire cat the whole time. Hilarious. No one knows what I was doing 12 hours ago! HA! I KNOW something they don't. Great show and I also have gratitude for what I experienced this weekend. The band is having fun, interacting with each other and the crowd and bringing the heat. Peace out and on with Monday in the real world - but seriously, I'll be smiling all day.

Peace,
Dosque
, comment by Jamaal
Jamaal You review had me until the "buckets of funk" line. When I read reviews of this band that have praise of that nature it makes me wonder. Oh Dosque, keep the shirt on but keep dancing.
, comment by Just_Ivy
Just_Ivy Outstanding show overall. Consistency and tenacity can make up for a lack of precision. The second set last night was a perfect example of that. Golden Age and Twist failed to thrive. Ok. BDTNL break 'til we think of something. Boom! The Light -> Boogie On "took", so to speak.

The other clear example of such commitment in the face of repeated failure from last night...

"And out of one of those breaks, Mike turns on the follower, and Ivy (my wife) calls for “Boogie on Reggae Woman,” as I swear she does *every single time* Mike uses that effect. Well, she nailed it this time, and the segue is perfectly executed, leading us from synaptic restructuring to booty rotation like only Phish can."

Finally, I can say...I WAS RIGHT.
, comment by nichobert
nichobert Is Ghost an animal?
, comment by CarinCarpenter
CarinCarpenter Now if only they'd play this sucker:

, comment by fhqwhgads
fhqwhgads What is the follower?
, comment by funkbeard
funkbeard @Jamaal said:
You review had me until the "buckets of funk" line. When I read reviews of this band that have praise of that nature it makes me wonder. Oh Dosque, keep the shirt on but keep dancing.
This summer has Phish bringing a whole new quality of funk to the table. Starting with the Bangor Wolfman's, the SPAC Moma, and even the 7/13 Destiny Unbound. Buckets of funk now applies correctly when you're discussing the music of Phish.
, comment by zamoore025
zamoore025 Sloth speculated that 30% of people hate Phish’s music the first time they hear it. I was one of those people once, but almost two decades later, here I was about to see my 30th show. Ain’t love funny?

As last night's show was my first Phish show I'm proud to say that I am one of the 70% that loved Phish's music. Last night was amazing!
, comment by E_Wolfe
E_Wolfe @CarinCarpenter said:
Now if only they'd play this sucker:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZdJ5e70Q8mw
Concurred. If not 'ever'( I use the term far too often), certainly greatest comment* in a long while. 👍 Can't recall the last time I actually followed a link, let alone watched the whole thing thru. Twice. Although CYH was a huge favorite album, never even saw this video! Pure money.
*Another recent contender made me lol when a buddy fwd'd a reply from his sending out a setlist to a friend. Despite it containing a full show, his response was, ah, 'succinct'? Upon review of said show(& my buddy anxiously awaiting his input; picture him chk'ing the phone periodically, & the longer it took the more thorough he figured the review would be)he finally replied:
"I can't take any second set w/ Ocelot in it seriously."
Fucking hilarious.
, comment by tweezedout
tweezedout Youre awesome EMU :)
, comment by lititzphan
lititzphan EMU, thanks for putting my feelings out there too. Being an old DeadHead, I too didn't understand phish when I 1st heard them in 1993. In 2001 my buddy gave me Vegas 96, and Va. beach 98 tapes. I knew I needed to check the boys out when they came back from hiatus. Last night was only my eighth show, but best ever for me. My wife's 2nd and we were in pit 10 ft. from stage. At 30 years in the boys are still pushin forward. I've been here b4 We all need to be Grateful.
, comment by mikh2wg
mikh2wg After the show, Emu, you said they "nailed the peak" in Antelope. But there's no mention of said peak in your review! Clearly you became jaded over the intervening hours. You just don't understand Phish at all, dude.

(That was such a good review that this was the best I could do for a negative comment. But I know you're not reading it anyway)

Winking smiley face
, comment by Jamaal
Jamaal @funkbeard said:
@Jamaal said:
You review had me until the "buckets of funk" line. When I read reviews of this band that have praise of that nature it makes me wonder. Oh Dosque, keep the shirt on but keep dancing.
This summer has Phish bringing a whole new quality of funk to the table. Starting with the Bangor Wolfman's, the SPAC Moma, and even the 7/13 Destiny Unbound. Buckets of funk now applies correctly when you're discussing the music of Phish.
I was speaking of the tenuousness of that writing style. I was not speaking of whether or not they happened to be funky.
, comment by finch460
finch460 Unbelievable show! It was totally worth the 5 hour drive from Pittsburgh lol. Emu, you have nailed this review. Good stuff man.
, comment by lenuto46
lenuto46 Very well done! It was one hell of a night!
, comment by CarinCarpenter
CarinCarpenter How about the backing vocals in "Tube" for "to knock on the lavatory door"? Is that a new thing? Love it.
, comment by beerphish
beerphish What makes PHiSH the best?

MMMMOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO
, comment by FACTSAREUSELESS
FACTSAREUSELESS Glorious red-cheeked review. When I saw the setlist, my heart sank. I thought: "This is the beginning of the end for Phish; they just don't have it anymore." Seriously, the thought crossed my mind. Then, your review. You have restored my hope for this tour. I was beginning to think that SPAC3 was going to go down as premature tourlation....but now I must download this Merriweather show. If it's not what you say, I'm going to hunt you down and choke you with Trey's whammy pedal, which, by the way, was noticeably absent from your review this turn. What gives? Change your mind?
:)
, comment by skidmorephish
skidmorephish i’d like to chime in on the tight rotation issue. i’ve been seeing phish for 23 yrs now and unpredictability is what makes phish special…take that away and they are still really good, but not the same animal at all. to hear some tunes repeated in a 3 show stretch like from bangor to saratoga is not only surprising, but disappointing. as well played as last nights show may have been, the variance in setlists is why we all go multiple nights throughout a tour and often to 3 or more shows back to back. after looking over last night’s setlist, i have some level of concern this may be a new normal. every tune but Mule was a repeat and some, like bdtnl, have made appearances in 4 of the 8 shows we have had on this tour so far; its the possum of 2013. what i also found troubling is opening set 2 with the same golden age> twist> bdtnl triumvirate that opened set 2 in bangor; why do that? look…i think we can all agree that any phish in 2013 is a gift, let alone them playing at such a high level, but that after the precedent that’s been set over the past 30 yrs, we expect the unexpected and that means a wider rotation, especially out of the gates. i’m not one of those guys clamoring for the bustout of harpua or spock’s brain every night, but after 8 shows with a ton of repeats, don’t we have room for a fluffhead here or a guyute there? ok..maybe those are too technically challenging for the onset of a tour…fine. then how about a gumbo or a timber…a horn or a lizards. feel free to agree or disagree, phish fans are nothing if not opinionated. again, i am very thankful for still having a phish to see and for them to be healthy and playing at a high level…i am just merely looking to discuss the tight rotation, which i feel is a negative.
, comment by FACTSAREUSELESS
FACTSAREUSELESS @skidmorephish said:
i�d like to chime in on the tight rotation issue. i�ve been seeing phish for 23 yrs now and unpredictability is what makes phish special�take that away and they are still really good, but not the same animal at all. to hear some tunes repeated in a 3 show stretch like from bangor to saratoga is not only surprising, but disappointing. as well played as last nights show may have been, the variance in setlists is why we all go multiple nights throughout a tour and often to 3 or more shows back to back. after looking over last night�s setlist, i have some level of concern this may be a new normal. every tune but Mule was a repeat and some, like bdtnl, have made appearances in 4 of the 8 shows we have had on this tour so far; its the possum of 2013. what i also found troubling is opening set 2 with the same golden age> twist> bdtnl triumvirate that opened set 2 in bangor; why do that? look�i think we can all agree that any phish in 2013 is a gift, let alone them playing at such a high level, but that after the precedent that�s been set over the past 30 yrs, we expect the unexpected and that means a wider rotation, especially out of the gates. i�m not one of those guys clamoring for the bustout of harpua or spock�s brain every night, but after 8 shows with a ton of repeats, don�t we have room for a fluffhead here or a guyute there? ok..maybe those are too technically challenging for the onset of a tour�fine. then how about a gumbo or a timber�a horn or a lizards. feel free to agree or disagree, phish fans are nothing if not opinionated. again, i am very thankful for still having a phish to see and for them to be healthy and playing at a high level�i am just merely looking to discuss the tight rotation, which i feel is a negative.
I agree totally and I think it merits discussion. I will say, on a positive note, that if they really PLAY the tunes in question, it makes up for a lot. The lack of variety is a major concern of mine, as well.
, comment by GeerShift
GeerShift The last paragraph is dead on. We are 30 years in, and this shit is still awesome. That is what matters most, and is unprecedented in The History of Rock and Roll. Or favorite band, as unheralded as it is, is now no doubt a very important band in that history.

As for the show, certainly the best first set of the tour. The little breakdown in Ice was so left field and summed up what this tour has been about so far, the little moments. One thing I find interesting is the comfort level they have with Number Line and Light...for two opposite reasons. Why is it that Light ALWAYS produces the jam of the night now, a la Ghost for many years, and BDTNL is the go to ripcord, Trey needs an old friend solo song? I guess it is all about comfort level. At least we know that Light is nearly guaranteed to blow our minds now, which it did....again...last night.
, comment by Kyaphish
Kyaphish I am truly looking forward to the next couple of nights. I thought oh well atl east I will be there. However not hopping for anything great. Not that I am relying on you I just don't know what to expect. My first show happened to be in my hometown and 20 plus shows later and looking forward to the next couple of nights. I am just hoping its not like a sabotage the last time I saw them at mpp. Thanks for the heads up I will be tuned in.
, comment by ThingsOnMyMind
ThingsOnMyMind YEM
, comment by nichobert
nichobert Certain songs - Possum, really, get played a ton for a reason. People kirk out during Possum. And a lot of them have melodic detours as long as that funk jam in Its Ice that are worth hearing.

Number Line, I think Trey just REALLY likes playing that solo and singing it. The big reason they played Bouncing and Sample and Free and Sparkle and If I Could and Heavy Things all the time had much more to do with then being excellently written songs than being more noob-friendly than some of their other short songs. I wish they'd play an 8 minute Heavy Things instead of every second Number Line. Accomplishes the same thing as far as an uplifting solo goes, but with dark humor instead of birthday singing.

Like most things, I think they could fix it by taking them weird or even just slightly extending them every once in awhile.

I'm guessing some people would gripe like crazy about

Ghost (4:35)
Piper (5:00)
Bouncing Around The Room (12:05)->
Number Line (16:00)->
Heavy Things (11:30)
Joy (11:07)

"What happened to the ghost jam?? Bouncing, Number Line, Heavy Things, Joy? Ohmygerd that's the worst setlist ever!"

, comment by fracai
fracai Awesome recap for a very well performed night.
, comment by antelope22
antelope22 Do you guys take notes at the shows.....how the fuck do you remember all those specific details? I love it. I'll admit it....I may have pawned off a few of my Phish studio albums because at the time it just wasn't "heavy" enough for me. Two short verses and 6 minutes of jammin' just didn't do it for me. Not until I started aquiring some live "bootlegs" from friends at school! The follow "Follow me to Gamehenge" show with my first ever fee into maze experience blew me away! Don't get me wrong, these soundboard shows amazing to listen to but you should find an old tape or cd that was recorded in the tapers section. I absolutley love tuning in to all the small talk and conversations people are having during those extended space jams I miss so much. Kinda puts you right there in the crowd! See you this weekend in Chicago.........front and center!!!!! You Suck At Tucking!!!
, comment by standingonthemoon
standingonthemoon I was at MPP for the first night and it was good, the 2nd night's setlist looked even better and my friends that went said it was great. I agree that us getting to enjoy shows in 2013 is a gift. That said, I'm concerned about the song rotation too. I noticed it last year when I did the Bader Field run and then the 2 nights in Portsmouth. There were quite a few repeats in those shows. I know it sounds ungrateful but I agree that the unpredictable setlist is certainly part of the appeal and sets them apart from the rest of the cookie cutter "jambands" out there. I don't know if it is a function of age, lack of time to practice with each other or what. I've been to 50 shows and loved just about every single one of them but I'd like to see them do what they did in 2009 and 2010. Where's Tela, Esther, Lizards, Mountains in the Mist, Curtain, McGrupp, Foam, etc? BDTNL is running at a 50% rate. It's a great song and clearly has a lot of meaning to the band but come on, there are tons of other songs that could go in that spot as I just listed. Yes they are playing well but the song rotation was better in 2009 and 2010 (2nd night of MPP that night was insane, Walfredo opener and crazy setlist that followed). Honestly I think its a function of them not having the time and opportunity to practice together like they used to. Anyway, that's what grinds my gears as Peter Griffin would say! Yes I know it sounds really ungrateful but we owe it to ourselves and fellow fans to be honest. Will I stop going to see Phish? Not a chance, I could dig an antelope every damn show but I would like to see better song rotation. Anyway, my 2 cents and for what it's worth, seeing Destiny Unbound last Saturday night was a first for me. I guess while I'm being critical, I could also say the same thing about TAB. There used to be a ton of improv during those shows but they have all kinda become cookie cutter with essentially the same setlist every single night. Ok, that's it. You can say I'm a jerk or whatever but I know there has to be quite a few people out there that are thinking all of this but they don't say it. I'm just being honest. I love this band but part of loving is also being constuctively critical. Hopefully this board isn't like PT, I'd like to spur an actual intelligent conversation about the topic. It's like whack a mole over at PT, if you pop your head up and say something, they are ready to pop you with a hammer! Looking forward to Labor Day...Dicks is always a good time. They are signed up for 5 years out there so that means 2 more after this run!
, comment by MDosque
MDosque Everyone - I guess it's because I am a once or twice a year show-goer these days but the song rotation thing just doesn't bother me at all. I think it's a crazy criticism. They NEVER repeat a song during a 2 or 3 night "run" so this weekend at MPP was a truly amazing experience of all different songs. Throughout the band's history, though, they almost always repeated tunes every 3 or 4 shows. Trust me, I'm not attacking people here criticizing because I do it too and part of me does scratch my head with the Golden Age and BDTNL because why not throw in a different tune when there are so many greats that rarely get touched. I just want to argue the other side of the coin and say that a heavy rotation has been a part of Phish's tour approach for nearly all of their career except a handful of tours and even then, if you went back and looked at setlists, you would be surprised.

GREAT playing this weekend and I think they are enjoying playing together which will produce certain highlights the rest of the summer.

Dosque
, comment by Phart_Door
Phart_Door What a great version of Light. Can't stop listening to it. And credit Page for taking the jam down that road with his Coltrane Ole run around 4:45.
, comment by standingonthemoon
standingonthemoon I like that MDosque, I can completely see your perspective. If I were in your shoes I would feel the same...maybe I just go to too damn many shows close together! :-) Seriously, thank you for responding. I want to know what others think about the topic. No matter how you cut it though, as long as they are touring I'll be there and enjoying every second of it. I missed a really good show on Sunday night but alas, I'm an adult now (I think) and have to keep a work schedule. I will definitely agree with you on the level of play this weekend, it was great. I'm still getting used to the new light and stage setup. The sound is kick a$$ though!
, comment by GhettoSloth
GhettoSloth Just wantd to comment on the tight rotation thing.
We were talking at .net meetup that with todays technology, with couch tour
& everyone listening to all the shows, phssh should start thinking about
'Tourlist' intstead of setlist. They have so many great tunes, how much space
Is there for the repeats & two cover encores in a row? That's a vision &
Really my only neg comment. I've had my fill of loving cup.

Nice thorough review.
, comment by FACTSAREUSELESS
FACTSAREUSELESS @GhettoSloth said:
Just wantd to comment on the tight rotation thing.
We were talking at .net meetup that with todays technology, with couch tour
& everyone listening to all the shows, phssh should start thinking about
'Tourlist' intstead of setlist. They have so many great tunes, how much space
Is there for the repeats & two cover encores in a row? That's a vision &
Really my only neg comment. I've had my fill of loving cup.

Nice thorough review.
All good commentary guys. I agree with all of it. My suspicion is that there has not been enough practice time to facilitate what we are looking for. Sure, they could pull of a Tela, or bust out Spock's Brain, but if they haven't played it together in 2 years, how good would it be, really? My gut tells me that the boys are ripping through what they feel comfortable with. I think it's interesting that the last two soundchecks have included Architect. Obviously they feel it needs work. We can all see that they spent some time working on It's Ice before tour, and the work has payed off. Really, these guys make the music they play look easy, but it clearly isn't. Their music is complicated and intricate. Complicated and intricate doesn't flow well when you're thinking instead of playing. I believe that's why we see so many BDTNL's and Julius's and Chalk Dust and Possum's this tour. Those songs are simpler and more straightforward than say, Reba, Fluffhead, or McGrupp. I mean, it's not rocket science to figure out.

Finally, the fact remains that their rotation is tighter, smaller, however you want to describe it and it's irritating many of us. Yet there may be no cure but to wait, because they simply may not be ready for some of the songs we want to hear. I don't know what the rest of the band has been doing, but Trey has had a pretty straight out schedule with the Broadway thing and TAB. They haven't exactly been too committed to the tour thing if you ask me. 20-something shows all year since New Year's? Really? That's not the workload of a band that's "pushing forward" as someone said above. That's a band on the back nine that has already accomplished everything they need to and is simply enjoying themselves and their fan base, which, by the way, there is NOTHING WRONG WITH AT ALL. In the end, they are what they are, for all their faults, which is only the best band on the planet.

That's my 200,000 cents.
, comment by CanadianPhan
CanadianPhan Congrats EMU on show 30 bud. 1st night Chicago was going to be my 30th show but now it will be 2nd night Chicago b/c Toronto was re-scheduled. I am most looking forward to racing back to Toronto after our three night run. Will bring back memories from the 90's when I did multi city runs....

And that brings me to the thread regarding tight setlists. I too have seen the lists and am concerned. Why no PYITE, Fluffhead, Tela, McGrupp etc. My take is two fold. One, as pointed out above, they don't tour as hard and are simply staying in the comfort zone with tunes they can play easily and rock out on. I'm ok with that. After 30 years they probably know their limitations. Yes it would be great to see some bustouts but if the band can't play them well, it's just a novelty then isn't it? If they are going to bust out some complex big guns, we want to see them played well.

My other thought is the way tours are constructed and I imagine they move from city to city in a somewhat random order and take days off and play a 3-4 show rotation is they probably don't want hangers on and tour bugs following. Look how out of control The Dead got at the end. Just my $.02 but I suspect Phish does not want the scene to degenerate into a gypsy fest of drunks and hang on's. Please feel free to flame me but, like many of the posters here, I have a job and a life and cannot follow the band for months on end. I strongly believe Phish wants it that way, playing to devoted Phans in certain strong markets and having a small core of people that follow all the way but do not turn it into a circus.

Cheers all and enjoy being free and having the health and wealth to see one of the best bands ever.

Jay
, comment by standingonthemoon
standingonthemoon Thanks for the responses guys and I have to agree with all of you. I heard Peaches in Portsmouth for the first time and it probably wasn't the best version so it was a bit of a novelty. I also saw my first Destiny Saturday night at MPP and it was awesome. At the same time that's part of the appeal of the band, you never know what you are going to get. You could get a mediocre version of a song you've heard a thousand times or you could get the absolute best version you've ever had the opportunity to witness live. I agree that they are playing songs they are more comfortable with and if I put in 30 years on the road like these guys have I would do just that...play what I want to play. No doubt there will be bust outs like every tour and they'll do what we love them for because yes, they are the best band on the planet. I want to address what Jay was talking about in his 2 fold thinking. I never really thought about it but you're spot on. The Dead scene got nuts, it was a carnival. With gaps and multiple night runs it keeps it the carnival at bay. I'm in my 30's and when I hang out in the lot I like having a good time with my wife and friends as I'm sure a lot of you on this board like to. I don't want some spun out drunk guy trying to hassle me. Thinking back to when I first started seeing shows it was more of a circus. You'd have people there that couldn't name a Phish tune but followed them around and hung out in the lot during the show. Anyway, all good commentary thanks for putting in your 2 cents. I hope everyone has a great tour no matter where your travels take you. I'll be in CO again this year, I'm looking forward to it. Summer tour this year is especially light for me. I'm hoping for a fall tour as I'm sure everyone is. Hampton for Halloween? One can hope right? Take care.
, comment by wayersjr
wayersjr Why are we hearing so many repeats this tour??
, comment by Land2reform
Land2reform A review that I not only agreed with, but made me laugh throughout.
, comment by FACTSAREUSELESS
FACTSAREUSELESS @CanadianPhan said: [quote]
My other thought is the way tours are constructed and I imagine they move from city to city in a somewhat random order and take days off and play a 3-4 show rotation is they probably don't want hangers on and tour bugs following. Look how out of control The Dead got at the end. Just my $.02 but I suspect Phish does not want the scene to degenerate into a gypsy fest of drunks and hang on's. Please feel free to flame me but, like many of the posters here, I have a job and a life and cannot follow the band for months on end. I strongly believe Phish wants it that way, playing to devoted Phans in certain strong markets and having a small core of people that follow all the way but do not turn it into a circus.

Great point, Jay. Hadn't thought of that but you're right. Three cheers for giving the band credit for foresight and planning. I buy it.
, comment by AlbanyYEM
AlbanyYEM I'm real late to the party here, but figured I'd add my two cents. @TheEmu , by the way, I think we have the best review of the tour so far with this one. Nice work. As for the song rotation, part of it is probably so obvious no one has bothered to mention it. In 3.0, the total number of songs played for a show is usually in the 20-25 range. They are generally playing longer first sets than ever before (90 minutes is not unusual). Add that to second sets that are usually 9-12 or so (though of course sometimes you'll get a nice 7 songer), and they are playing a hell of a lot of songs. So there is a lot more opportunity for repeats unless the sets are carefully constructed.

I know this might be phish heresy, but I'm totally in favor of them planning out a tentative setlist that is not set in stone and open to change as they see fit. It seems to me like this would give them some direction and balance in setlist construction. The fuckyourface sets show how amply rewarding that can be. Even without playing guyute, fluffhead, et. al much there are enough songs there to avoid repeats. Plus I'd imagine there would be less ripcording in the jams because unless a segue is organic there's no reason to head toward something out of left field prematurely. The bottom line is they would still play what they want but just with a little thought ahead of time about it. Plus you'd get less shows like SPAC 3 that use multiple major jam vehicles without really letting loose on any of them. Obviously, in past years they played less songs per show so this issue wasn't as pressing or problematic. It's gotta be difficult to even remember every single song they played for four shows at a time or so.

As a whole they just need to practice more before tours. Maybe I'll catch some flack for this, but the start of this tour was as sloppy as 09. They've recovered pretty nicely in the actual jams to the point where trey is again a rhythm demon. So I'm not really as concerned about the few meaningless cringes throughout a show, but as mentioned earlier, this certainly is evidence of a narrowing down in song choice to a comfortable level delimited by what they've practiced.

I want to be crystal clear, though, that I find this issues to be minor compared to the amazing jams going on. Which at the end of the day is what I'm mainly here for.
, comment by Tando
Tando @TheEmu

Thanks for the great review. I'm glad to hear some nice discussion about Fish's playing. One thing I've noticed about a lot of these shows is his playing... his phrasing, dynamics, and pocket grooves have been outstanding. BOAF from SPAC this year really stood out to me while I was grooving on the hillside. Since that jam I've focused a bit more on his playing than usual and that focus has been rewarded.

cheers all!!!
, comment by standingonthemoon
standingonthemoon @AlbanyYEM

I for one would never give you flack for your opinion. That what makes this board so great, we are free to share ideas and opinions. The members here usually post well thought out opinions too. You do make a good point. @Tando, yes Fish is a beast right now!!!! Page has been especially impressive so far this tour (from what I've seen/heard) as well but in my mind he's always kicked ass and is happy to step in and save a jam if Trey is fumbling a bit. Damn I wish I would have picked the Sunday show to go to at MPP but seeing folks there I haven't seen in a long time on Saturday made it worth the trip alone. I was reading a website that's dedicated to just to what to expect from Phish in 2013. He says that Dick's won't live up to the hype this year because of the 25 day break before the run. What? I can see his reasoning but I don't agree with it. I've been out there both years and the 2nd year was even better than the first. Besides, it's Dicks! Trey loves dicks, Page loves dicks, Mike loves dicks, Fish loves dicks, we all love dicks! They wouldn't disappoint. It's such a generic venue but its great at the same time and it's friggin Colorado...how can that be bad? Take care everyone.
, comment by FACTSAREUSELESS
FACTSAREUSELESS Regarding predetermined setlists.....I think it's clear they have some communication before shows in terms of general direction and some songs they definitely want to play, with a willingness to be flexible.

However, at the risk of sounding heretical, I am so tired of hearing about the FYF show from Dick's. I own it and have listened to it a lot and I'm telling you it's extremely overrated. The Runaway Jim is a pathetic mess, that Trey surely would've ripcorded at about the 8 minute mark if not for the fact that they needed to stretch it out to make the gag work. It really is an uninteresting uninspired mess and it's clear these days that the song no longer stimulates them. The most interesting part of the show was the Undermind jam and the transition into Farmhouse. Otherwise the show had zero cohesive flow and was downright jarring at times to listen to.
The two shows on 9/1 and 9/2 are far superior.

My point is one made above....long jams aren't always the answer. AlbanyYEM makes an excellent point. More songs means more repeats.

IT'S ALL MAKING SENSE NOW.
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