Saturday 08/31/2013 by pzerbo

MOST SHOWS SPELL SOMETHING

Along with more traditional venues such as Hampton and MSG, Dick’s has in a few short years established itself as another “home court” for Phish, with this being the third consecutive three-night Labor Day weekend run. It is well established that Phish love Dick’s, in fact we ALL love Dick’s. It has been another long night and busy day for the phish.net team here in lovely Colorado, so we’ll proceed in the “express review” mode today.

Most Shows Spell Something.

Ghost” opens up the gig with ten minutes of juicy funky goodness, the first “Ghost” show opener since October 15, 1998 at San Francisco’s Fillmore. With “NICU” in the #2 slot, those expecting another “the setlist spells” were left to ponder “G-N”? Then, boom! “Icculus!” Played for only the third time in the 21st Century and the first time since June 17, 2011 (82 shows), the narrative referenced the plane that was circling the venue before the show with a “READ THE BOOK” trailing sign as well as the band’s “love for Dick’s” and the band member’s “youth” and “upbringing.” For this fan, “Icculus” represents a fulfillment of a two-decade quest… you go see a band you like, a lot, for a long time, and you kinda want to hear all the songs you love. “Icculus” is, you know, one of those songs, yet one that had eluded me and often in bizarre and just-miss ways. High fives and treasured hugs will be my lasting memory of the moment – special times with special friends with whom so many such moments have been shared over so many years, it really is the best. Thanks, Phish!

Heavy Things” (played in the same key as “Icculus” for those scoring at home) and “Theme from the Bottom” bring us back down to earth a bit. While it would have flew over my head, I was standing adjacent to Scott Marks (@bizarchive) who clued us all in that the setlist was “something” backwards and that we’d be due for an “e” song. There are not many “e” songs, and “Emotional Rescue” had been used during last year’s “Fuck Your Face” masterpiece. “Esther” fills the slot, the first performance since June 18, 2011 (81 shows) and only the eighth performance since the 90s, surely crossing this beloved song off many a personal list.

The Moma Dance” grooves along and gives way to another first set highlight, “Ocelot.” Some Phish songs grab you right out of the gate; “Ocelot” has taken some time to grow on me, but the last few performances (most notably 7/20 Chicago) have really shined. While many have compared it to the Dead’s “Tennessee Jed” it is growing in a way that, if allowed to roam even more free, could really become their “Playing in the Band.” An excellent “Stash” is followed by some Page crooning with “Lawn Boy,” a slinky “Limb By Limb,” and a surprise debut of Little Feat’s “Easy to Slip” with Mike taking lead vocals. Let’s take a breath!

PYITE” jump-starts the second frame and sets the stage for the improvisational highlight of this gig, “Sand.” The following is guest commentary from my dear friend Lily G. Morton: It seemed to me that “Sand” was the highlight of the night in that it was unrelenting auditory bliss. I have often thought Sand is a song that always ends too abruptly and has potential to continue into something improvised and spontaneous and more extensive in length. When I hear the final notes, i am instead wishing the song would stretch more. I did not get that feeling last night and got lost in the trappings of the rhythm. I lost sense of time and space and then I lost my hat and then I lost the sticks that keep my hair in place. I can’t analyze the moment part by part, I can just say “Sand” was amazing and the sound took hold of me like jumping onto a fast moving carousel and catching hold of a good jumper horse.

Thanks, Lily! Back to our regular programming, when you “Spell Something” you also “Say Something.” Only the second performance, this new composition from Mike and Scott Murawski is a most welcome addition to the repertoire! A spectacular “Walls of the Cave” with an especially thrilling “Silent Trees” section takes us into the fourth quarter. “Oh Kee Pa Ceremony” is followed for the first time ever by “Harry Hood.” This “Hood” was really going places and on the heels of the sublime Hollywood Bowl version, the moment seemed ripe for blossoming into something special when they more or less aborted “Hood” in favor of “Silent in the Morning.” While the segue was actually really nice, for many it represented perhaps a lost opportunity, if offering a much justified nod to the growing history of the now annual visit to this venue.

Twist” seemed sure to evoke the “woo!” but, no bites on the part of the band or fans. “Slave to the Traffic Light” brings this mostly excellent, if a little uneven set to a most satisfying conclusion. For the encore we round out the backwards “MOST SHOWS SPELL SOMETHING” with “Oh! Sweet Nuthin’” (first since August 15, 2010, 120 shows) and, as was the case just this time last year, “Meatstick” brought an end to the proceedings.

Great gig with great friends in a great venue… we’re feeling some love here, and off to the gig. See y’all very soon!

If you liked this blog post, one way you could "like" it is to make a donation to The Mockingbird Foundation, the sponsor of Phish.net. Support music education for children, and you just might change the world.


Comments

, comment by jaredprox
jaredprox Nice review...wish i was celebrating with all you kids in Colorado!

From my couch, I heard the same unique (and beautiful!) musical theme in Stash and Sand. It wasn't a big divergence from traditional Stash explorations, but it was cool to hear it show up again in Sand. It's the jam segment that segues from Sand's traditional funk throwdown. I love when they find something that works and play with it throughout a show.

And, agreed, Ocelot has been a whole different beast lately. Love, love, love Trey's patience and artistry in this version.
, comment by forbin1
forbin1 Congrats @pzerbo for finally catching your white whale...
, comment by Seven_Below
Seven_Below Wish i was there. Ah, but alas, can't win 'em all. Listened to the stream of last night's show this afternoon through headphones via the "featured show" feature of the LivePhish app while gardening and working outside which is honestly my favorite time to really listen to an entire show without interruptions. Love listening to whole shows from beginning to end on headphones, and this show sounded tight. You can tell when the band is having fun and it feels to me they play even better. They were obviously enjoying themselves last night and it shows. Super jealous. Maybe next year!
, comment by SlavePhan
SlavePhan I can't tell you how many hours of Phish I've listened to, ruthlessly analyzing them and reviewing their shows. The first 5 years or so, years back when I was younger, though, were primarily focused on listening to Fish's performance, as I play the drums. I have to say that this was one of the finest nights of music I've ever heard by Jon Fishman. He absolutely tore it up. Give it a relisten if you want to hear him at his finest.
, comment by frisbee26130
frisbee26130 I feel like they would have gone the "extra mile" in a lot of these songs had they not been trying to say "something". Really feel like they lost out on a lot of good jams.
, comment by Thunder
Thunder congrats as well on the Icculus @pzerbo! Great review.

[I posted this in full elsewhere, but this seemed an appropriate place to share as well...]

Forgive me getting personal but I actually balled my face off at times. One of my best friends father's went into the ground yesterday (on 8/30). So take another look at the setlist, specifically the lyrics of the opening 6 tunes. To me last night's show will always be for him, especially the Icculus.

I can be just as critical/negative as anyone on the music, but sometimes it's important to remember what's important. Sometimes I forget, but everyday is a gift. Family and friends are what's important. And luckily for me that includes this band and all us crazy fans!
, comment by nichobert
nichobert i feel like the better stat with Icculus is '25th time ever'

I don't really know what they "lost out" on.. Some shows they play a really long jam, usually they play one about as long as Sand and some stuff in the Stash/Slave range.

It's weird how many people are using terms like "aborted" and "ripcorded" for that Hood.. I just don't hear it at all. The setlist was planned, they lined up a segue into Silent perfectly, and they slid directly into it, probably my favorite segue since.. Sand-> Nellie Kane maybe? Tweezer-> Cities/Wedge was cool.. but way more often than not Phish segues end up like the Hood-> Light or Hood-> What's The Use? or Fluffhead-> Piper or Drowned-> Water In The Sky or Sand-> Roggae as a handful of examples off the top of my head.. Some are better than others, but most of the time it seems like someone gets taken aback by what would have been a smooth segue. stops, and has to start from the beginning for some reason.

When they pull off something like that -> Silent, all is forgiven. I get that everyone's in love with the Hood ending and all.. I just value the creativity and execution of that completely unique segue more than i'd value the 318th Hood ending.

Sure, last night could have had the "Dicks Roggae" a 30 minute excursion that folded time and space in on itself... but it's all good. Some shows, when they're flailing about, playing 5 encore songs in a row to end the 2nd set, presumably because they didn't keep track of time, that kind of criticism makes perfect sense. But when they're executing a specific vision, it's a different ballgame. Phish plays different kinds of shows.

Of course.. I thought they were just going to do "Spell Something" by Heavy Things... and that had my imagination going into overdrive thinking about things like

II: Light-> Lizards, Energy-> PYITE> Simple
and
II: Llama> Limb by Limb-> Energy-> Piper-> Slave

, comment by FACTSAREUSELESS
FACTSAREUSELESS @SlavePhan said:
I can't tell you how many hours of Phish I've listened to, ruthlessly analyzing them and reviewing their shows. The first 5 years or so, years back when I was younger, though, were primarily focused on listening to Fish's performance, as I play the drums. I have to say that this was one of the finest nights of music I've ever heard by Jon Fishman. He absolutely tore it up. Give it a relisten if you want to hear him at his finest.
Agreed. Fish stood out to me as well on several occasions. In particular, Ocelot, Limb by Limb and Sand. In Sand, which I personally had a difficult time with in spots, Fish was amazingly adept at either driving or responding to the changes without stepping on Trey. Often, Trey gets blamed for botching things when it's actually Fish or Mike stepping in front of him. Didn't hear that last night, though the end of Sand was painfully awkward.
, comment by FACTSAREUSELESS
FACTSAREUSELESS @frisbee26130 said:
I feel like they would have gone the "extra mile" in a lot of these songs had they not been trying to say "something". Really feel like they lost out on a lot of good jams.
Totally agree and I'm glad you said it and not me because I'm tired of getting pissed on for pointing things out like that. The spell is fun and last night perhaps gave us some rarities which delighted us, but there was an inevitable formality to the proceedings last night which killed some of the energy, at least to my ears. So much anticipation on the spelling....Sand felt awkward to me in spots and ending was similar to SOAM in SPAC2; botched and unfortunate. It took away from the moment for me. Didn't like Hood being ripcorded for Silent, especially just as Hood was taking off. Piper would've been much more welcome for me as the 2nd set opener over PYITE, especially with the precedent of Ghost opening frame one. Just thought it would have fit much better. A stretched out Piper> Sand would've added a lot.

Anyway, I agree that the effort to pull of the gag, while I appreciate the fun in it like the next person, seems to affect the performance. I thought last year they forced things a bit during the FYF show in order to elongate some songs (the opposite problem of last night). Still.....awesome first set in spite of these nitpicky comments. Walls was the balls.
, comment by FACTSAREUSELESS
FACTSAREUSELESS @pzerbo

Nice job. Enjoyed especially your description of your Icculus moment! That was really cool and personalized it nicely for me. Appreciate you sharing that. Also, on the subject of Icculus, thought it was a far more exciting version than 6/17/11. Really enjoyed it. The plane thing was outrageous. Would love to know if Phish paid for that.

I heard the same things you did in Ocelot and LimbxLimb. Ocelot, the last two versions in particular, have gone type 2 with glowing results. The Chicago version snuck up on me with its' orgasmic peak> Peak> PEAK, but really was a typical version, just more fiery. The Gorge version and this one, however, really went places. I keep hearing the Bird Song jam in these last two Ocelots. Anyone else?

Stash, my favorite song by the band, was glorious and button-popping once again. Agree with the poster above who highlighted Fishman. He really brought it last night.

Thanks for the review.
, comment by Shangho
Shangho LOVE Icculus!!!Ive always felt so lucky to have caught the "kill your TV" Oswego Icculus as Ive been lucky to have caught choice shows in my 17 years of catching these guys!(it's unfortunately been a while since I've been to a show due to crippling anxiety problems).CONGRATS Dicks crowd!!!I hope tonight continues to melt your heads! ;-)
, comment by Ickyoulus
Ickyoulus Great post! Nice nod to the Icculus efforts here: http://blog.crowdtilt.com/post/59899515583/
, comment by InsectEffect
InsectEffect
Nice brief recap. Icculus was brilliant, especially after seeing the flyover before the show, and learning later that it was a crowdsourced effort -- best song request EVER? I wonder if they'd intended to play another 'I' song for the acrostic, and bumped it after seeing the plane?

I was convinced early on that they were spelling "Say Something," and that the first set would end with the "Stash," leading to a four-song Set II. Wishful thinking, I know. ;-) Playing "Say Something" in the 2nd felt like a cheeky nod to us speculators -- great version of a cool new song too!

The 1st Set did feel a little uneven on account of the spelling, but resulted in some unique songs/placements. The 2nd Set was pretty damn solid by any account IMO, especially with "Say Something," "WOTC" and "Twist" all featuring references to language, words, messages.

I haven't re-listened yet, but the "Hood -> Silent" was fucking amazing in the moment, smooth as butter. I've never seen so many people rocking so hard to "Silent," myself included.

This show was also fun in that the acrostic gag kept us guessing until the encore: would it be "most," "best," or something else? This statement, Most Shows Spell Something, also seems like a fine way to bow out of the gag in the future. Clever, those boys...

, comment by FACTSAREUSELESS
FACTSAREUSELESS @InsectEffect said:
Nice brief recap. Icculus was brilliant, especially after seeing the flyover before the show, and learning later that it was a crowdsourced effort -- best song request EVER? I wonder if they'd intended to play another 'I' song for the acrostic, and bumped it after seeing the plane?

I was convinced early on that they were spelling "Say Something," and that the first set would end with the "Stash," leading to a four-song Set II. Wishful thinking, I know. ;-) Playing "Say Something" in the 2nd felt like a cheeky nod to us speculators -- great version of a cool new song too!

The 1st Set did feel a little uneven on account of the spelling, but resulted in some unique songs/placements. The 2nd Set was pretty damn solid by any account IMO, especially with "Say Something," "WOTC" and "Twist" all featuring references to language, words, messages.

I haven't re-listened yet, but the "Hood -> Silent" was fucking amazing in the moment, smooth as butter. I've never seen so many people rocking so hard to "Silent," myself included.

This show was also fun in that the acrostic gag kept us guessing until the encore: would it be "most," "best," or something else? This statement, Most Shows Spell Something, also seems like a fine way to bow out of the gag in the future. Clever, those boys...
good comments. I gained some different perspective and you helped me be a little more positive about the show. Thanks.
, comment by theothr1
theothr1 shouldn't they then have revived, for one time only, "Something"?
, comment by Blastoplast
Blastoplast I only read a few of the comments (good positive energy and comments...no bickering or attitude...very nice!), but I did read the review. Nice and succinct. I also enjoyed the Icculus. Trey hasn't spoken much lately of course and certainly hasn't been into telling stories lately, so that was fun and a great convincing version of that song.

Beyond that, I was feeling during this show and continue to feel that this was the worst show I have seen or heard...possibly ever...maybe simply because my expectations were too high. I don't know.

It irks me (only a little because I still love and cherish every show with these guys) that they seem to take entire shows to guess, practice and warm up. I am not some grumpy unsatisfied "vet" of the Phish scene. Please don't jump all over me with that. I have been around since 1992, but I still love and generally feel nothing but love and positive energy for Phish. For 21 years they have been my biggest influence as a musician...(and I am primarily a "classical" saxophonist)...but still, Phish is it! ...but this show...maybe I need to hear it again...it was just really really bad to my ears...or for that particular evening...I don't know. It just went way south as the show progressed.

The whole band seemed to bludgeon through a lot of the songs with a general unsettled feeling because they hadn't practiced. ...and that damn whammy pedal! I just can't stand it! For example, Theme could have been good (in fact it was good), but I can't see listening to it again simply because that pedal just ruins tone and intonation. Bugs me!!! Please forgive the mini outburst...this is one of the very few things that bugs me about 3.0. It was going SO great without it during most of the tour this year. I was so happy! Show after show!!! Just awesome! When it did pop out, Trey was being more careful...it was just so much better. Maybe it is a crutch when things aren't taking off...kind of like the super fast strumming thing he does when the jam supposedly needs to be intense. Again...I don't know. The whammy pedal wasn't even the biggest issue of the night for me. They were just fumbly...not something you usually see from a Phish show.

Maybe I should listen to the show again...

...but for now, I always try to remember something Trey said. I don't know the exact quote, but he was frustrated by the fact that often fans were more concerned about WHAT they played (rarities and things like that) than HOW they played. ...I guess to me...this show (mostly after the Icculus...which was legitimately energetic and real)...was just plain bad.

No one is above a bad night or a wrong note. The greatest classical musicians miss notes all the time. The best jazz musicians get lost in the changes. The best band ever...Phish...has off nights. It took me a while to accept that when I was young, but that's OK. We used to scream and yell with excitement when they made a mistake after all...Lizards> Creature at Sugarbush for example.

Also excited about fall tour!

...the segue into Silent was nice! I miss the Hoods that we have grown up with, but it was still nice!

Slave was pretty good too...

...and Stash was better than the Stash's from previous 3.0 years.

...ok! so maybe not the worst ever! ...but it still doesn't sit right with me! :)
You must be logged in to post a comment.
Support Phish.net & MBIRD
Phish News
Subscribe to Phish-News for exclusive info while on tour!


Phish.net

Phish.net is a non-commercial project run by Phish fans and for Phish fans under the auspices of the all-volunteer, non-profit Mockingbird Foundation.

This project serves to compile, preserve, and protect encyclopedic information about Phish and their music.

Credits | Terms Of Use | Legal

© 1990-2018  The Mockingbird Foundation, Inc. | Hosted by End Point Corporation