Sunday 09/01/2013 by bertoletdown

DICK'S NIGHT TWO RECAP: TOBT2JS4LCRGGBHTHFYWAB!

With night one’s hit-&-miss prank in the books and the band liberated from the need to spell something, it’s back to business as usual for night two. When you’re talking Phish Dick’s, of course, business as usual can prove to be unusually potent. Let’s get right to the action.

Buried Alive” christens the first set. As seldom as this tune gets trotted out, I always seem to find myself surprised by how tight it is. “AC/DC Bag” makes a predictable appearance next, and doesn’t distinguish itself from the other rote, hemmed-in versions in recent history. “Bag” needs a second set jailbreak as badly as any tune in the repertoire.

Wolfman’s Brother” is straightforward but scorching, per usual. Mike takes a turn next with “Yarmouth Road,” a tune whose lyrics still elude me a bit. Still, it brings a vibe to the party that’s hard to quarrel with, and the Dick’s crowd sops it up with a biscuit.

Now Trey hoists the megaphone for the first “Fee” of 2013. I have a deep and abiding love for this clever song that easily survived its overplayed period, so it feels like a genuine treat to catch one these days. Trey engages Page in a delicate exchange of harmonics in the outro, which decays and fades elegantly before making way for “Halfway to the Moon.” This song has grown into its big boy pants this summer, and tonight’s version is lovely and impassioned. In retrospect, perhaps it was also a nod to the Denver altitude.

The Wedge” is a more obvious nod to the venue’s Rocky Mountain-adjacent locale, and perhaps a bit rocky in its execution. A 5-minute “Halley’s Comet” is phoned in, but the ensuing “Bathtub Gin” atones. What this “Gin” lacks in sprawl and exploration it makes up for in fire and focus. Fishman merits special mention for this version for the unusual and urgent groove he finds in the latter half of the jam.

A clumsy “Bouncing ‘Round the Room” does little to salvage the set’s glitchy flow. “Gumbo” features a very unusual little jam at the end, with Fishman dropping out to make room for some very Gershwinesque grand piano lines from Page. A typically emphatic “Run Like an Antelope” closes the books on an average-great first set that leaves much headroom for the second.

Chalk Dust Torture” gets the nod, and delivers the goods with what is arguably the first pilgrimage-worthy jam of the run thus far. It is not immediately apparent that this version is destined for greatness; the band takes its sweet time shoving off into type-II territory, with Mike making the first foray around the 6-minute mark, and Trey and Page following him into the major around 7 minutes. At 10 minutes, Fishman hits the reset button with a brand new beat, Mike voices his approval with a few hits on his fight bell, and the band slips deftly into a dense, Talking Heads-style groove that could easily pass for a “Crosseyed” jam. At 13 minutes, the hose kicks on full blast, with Mike laying down a thick bed of space bass in support of a positively pornographic exchange between Trey and Page. For the next six minutes or so, the band churns through idea after idea, seemingly without effort, resurfacing in a calypso theme. Trey introduces a simple phrase -- just three staccato E chords -- which the band and audience interpret as their cue to woo. And then it’s over.

Whatever your take on the woo, this “Chalk Dust” is some serious juju, and eminently Dick’s-worthy. Hear at all costs, etc.

Hilariously, Trey starts “Light” in the wrong key, but quickly realizes his mistake and the band course-corrects without restarting the song. Around the 7-minute mark, Fish deconstructs the groove, briefly quoting “50 Ways to Leave Your Lover” on the snare. A minute later, with the band failing to agree on a direction for the jam, Trey pulls the ripcord in favor of “46 Days.” While it would be grossly unfair to measure this year’s Dick’s “Light” against last year’s Dick’s “Light,” the story of this jam is one of unmet potential.

“46 Days” plays by the rules, likewise a too-brief “Steam” that spills into a “Free” that’s well played -- but no cause for a letter home. “Joy” commits a setlist felony next with inexplicably awful placement. I actually like the song quite a bit, certainly more than most, but deep in a second set it’s simply a floater in the punchbowl. “2001” concludes a six-song sequence without any real improvisation, and seemingly performed by a different band than the one that played the “Chalk Dust” that preceded it.

What better setup for the first “Tweezer” since that “Tweezer?”

Yes, obviously, anybody expecting a Tahoe “Tweezer” redux is setting himself up for disappointment. But this version contains only about 120 seconds of interesting music at the tail end, where it gets interesting right before it gets kneecapped in favor of a standard reading of “Backwards Down the Number Line” that ties a bow on set two.

Phish’s debut of Willie Nelson’sOn the Road Again” is a nice little surprise, with the band members trading verses. The expected “Tweeprise” brings the thunder, and that’s all she wrote.

Bluntly, tonight’s show is All About The “Chalk Dust” -- which stands shoulder to shoulder with the PNC “Crosseyed,” the Hollywood Bowl “Hood,” and other outstanding also-rans for jam of the summer. See you back in the band’s corner tonight, where I’ll be pulling for them to put all the pieces together and slay Night Three.

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Comments

, comment by Laurville
Laurville Agreed per my webcast viewing. CDT was the steak, the rest of the show was the potatoes. The sweet little segue from Steam into Free was the waitresses cleavage, nice and enjoyable but seriously where is my steak.
, comment by funkbeard
funkbeard Great show, good review. Surprises me how musically dense the improvisation has become of late. Light and Tweezer accomplish so much in very little time. The segue from Steam-> Free was spectacular, with the band gradually speeding up and changing the feel of Steam as the song progressed, building the song as though they're just jamming type-II underneath.

Also of note, the setlist should be spelled forward this evening, craigslist style, with the final 3 letters: BOT.

See ya all next time, Bots!~
, comment by User_25940_
User_25940_ Nice and fair review. I thought the Gin was spectacular, a real barn-burner; everyone was on their game, and Chalkdust is worthy of being mentioned with PNC's Crosseyed, and Hollywood's Hood, but night quite up to their standards. Look for a killer Reba tonight.
, comment by User_25940_
User_25940_ @Renaissance said:
Nice and fair review. I thought the Gin was spectacular, a real barn-burner; everyone was on their game, and Chalkdust is worthy of being mentioned with PNC's Crosseyed, and Hollywood's Hood, but honestly not quite up to their standards. Look for a killer Reba tonight.
, comment by MLuckow
MLuckow originally when i saw on the road again on the setlist i didn't think i would be a fan. of course as soon as i watched the video of the performance it immediately put a huge grin on my face. and excellent call on throwing bag into the second set. it would definitely rejuvenate the overplayed and predictable tune.
, comment by FACTSAREUSELESS
FACTSAREUSELESS What a conundrum the band has created for themselves by specializing in originality and spontaneity. We have all become New York art critics. Yes, I am guilty, too. There's never been a show I've heard that didn't have redeeming value for me and yet I, too, succumb to the dreaded EXPECTATION BLUES.

Nice review, though. You called it as you heard it, as you always do. Thanks.
, comment by PurpleWhale
PurpleWhale My friends and I have reached a consensus... This review sucks worse than a botched Joy
, comment by TheEmu
TheEmu @PurpleWhale said:
My friends and I have reached a consensus... This review sucks worse than a botched Joy
Thanks for the update! Let us know when you reach your peak Joy experience!
, comment by The_Hemlock_Muppet
The_Hemlock_Muppet Bathtub Jam is critical, Chalkdust is that theme from BG Rock n Rock/Energy, very nice funk/psyche.....Backwards jam is actually very nice...
, comment by bertoletdown
, comment by FACTSAREUSELESS
FACTSAREUSELESS Okay, let's face it. I'm willing to state the obvious. The band started to peak at the Gorge with two incredible shows. They actually peaked at Tahoe with the Tweezer show, then rode that wave for several more shows through Bill Graham. They were already beginning to cool off by Hollywood Bowl.

The three week layoff killed their momentum and they came out flat this past weekend. Not lacking energy, just lacking IT. It's nobody's fault. The band's relationship with the music and with us is not a constant upward linear trajectory. It has its ebbs and flows. We are now in an ebb. The band feels it, we feel it.

I'm hoping they get it back soon but the reality is that these last three shows had a lot more in common with SPAC earlier in the tour they with anything that happened previously out West. Very uneven at best.

It is what it is. Can't spin it as something other than that. The "peaks" we long for are built through emotion and mutual energy between the band and the fans as anything technical they do on stage.

I'm looking forward the Worc. MA shows. Hopefully they have it all back by then.
, comment by InsectEffect
InsectEffect
"Buried Alive" opener, smoking "Wolfman's," "Wedge," "Gin" and "Gumbo" with a number of standard though energetic renditions of great danceable songs in between, plus a cool-down with "Yarmouth" and "Fee" -- I thought Set I was a blast. Mound! It felt to me like a makeup for the uneven 1st of Night 1, the band shifting to Dick's party time mode.

I think you've called the Set II highlights, but agree with @funkbeard: "Surprises me how musically dense the improvisation has become of late. Light and Tweezer accomplish so much in very little time." Cooling down with "Joy" carried some of the emotional resonance of "Free" forward, not bad placement IMO. All in all, an immensely enjoyable show with a few standouts. On to Night 3!
, comment by sideshowNYC
sideshowNYC “Bag” needs a second set jailbreak as badly as any tune in the repertoire.

YES PLEASE!
, comment by NipseySlicer
NipseySlicer @FACTSAREUSELESS said: [quote]Okay, let's face it. I'm willing to state the obvious. The band started to peak at the Gorge with two incredible shows. Not as much as two years ago , good not great shows at the Gorge this year where as that Rock and Roll is Epic top 10. I would argue that they peaked at Dick's last year and have yet to surpass that high water mark.
I agree that Tahoe was a peak of this summer. I don't think Tahowheezer was all that strong, quite a lot of low energy noodling that really doesn't justify 37 minutes. The ending crescendo is great but .... It pales in comparison to the density of 10 different jams in last years Dick's Light all seamlessly trans versed musically complex with zero noodling. The Tahoe shows of two years ago were the eggs of the west coast ( I think Fishman was physically ill cause he was off in a big way one night)
Phish's batting average for high level shows (especially out west) is at an all time high . While Friday's show suffered from the disjointed nature of the spelling nonsense, Saturday was the funky dance party throw down that I needed.Start to finish. the entire show was a monstrous funk groove. On Sunday Meat at under 5 minutes proves that they don't need to play long to get to incredible music.Listen to Ice again , gets my vote for best version ever, extremely tight without being boring.The whole second set was unique and had great flow. That Piper was extremely fast and became something totally different than usual in the jam.Then in Weekapaug they bring back the funk groove from the previous night showing how masterfully they can shift gears to whole different levels instantly. 37 minutes of noodling Tweezer in Tahoe is still weak sauce compared to the density of music from Dick's Light last year where they found 10 distinct sections of complexity, with no searching .Long does not equal good. The amazing thing about 3.0 is that they can get so far out so fast. I was at Nectar's in 88 and 89. I've seen the whole trajectory of this band. The scene has more caring, sharing, beautiful people at Dick's that any I've been a part of( Telluride and The Gorge are a close second). It does not matter what song they are playing. Phish finds the jamminess in all . Even that Backwards Down the Number Line second set closer Saturday achieved brilliance.

The three week layoff killed their momentum and they came out flat this past weekend.
After Friday night I was concerned about this as a possiblity but Saturday was funky flow city.
, comment by FACTSAREUSELESS
FACTSAREUSELESS @NipseySlicer said:
@FACTSAREUSELESS said: [quote]Okay, let's face it. I'm willing to state the obvious. The band started to peak at the Gorge with two incredible shows. Not as much as two years ago , good not great shows at the Gorge this year where as that Rock and Roll is Epic top 10. I would argue that they peaked at Dick's last year and have yet to surpass that high water mark.
I agree that Tahoe was a peak of this summer. I don't think Tahowheezer was all that strong, quite a lot of low energy noodling that really doesn't justify 37 minutes. The ending crescendo is great but .... It pales in comparison to the density of 10 different jams in last years Dick's Light all seamlessly trans versed musically complex with zero noodling. The Tahoe shows of two years ago were the eggs of the west coast ( I think Fishman was physically ill cause he was off in a big way one night)
Phish's batting average for high level shows (especially out west) is at an all time high . While Friday's show suffered from the disjointed nature of the spelling nonsense, Saturday was the funky dance party throw down that I needed.Start to finish. the entire show was a monstrous funk groove. On Sunday Meat at under 5 minutes proves that they don't need to play long to get to incredible music.Listen to Ice again , gets my vote for best version ever, extremely tight without being boring.The whole second set was unique and had great flow. That Piper was extremely fast and became something totally different than usual in the jam.Then in Weekapaug they bring back the funk groove from the previous night showing how masterfully they can shift gears to whole different levels instantly. 37 minutes of noodling Tweezer in Tahoe is still weak sauce compared to the density of music from Dick's Light last year where they found 10 distinct sections of complexity, with no searching .Long does not equal good. The amazing thing about 3.0 is that they can get so far out so fast. I was at Nectar's in 88 and 89. I've seen the whole trajectory of this band. The scene has more caring, sharing, beautiful people at Dick's that any I've been a part of( Telluride and The Gorge are a close second). It does not matter what song they are playing. Phish finds the jamminess in all . Even that Backwards Down the Number Line second set closer Saturday achieved brilliance.

The three week layoff killed their momentum and they came out flat this past weekend.
After Friday night I was concerned about this as a possiblity but Saturday was funky flow city.
I hear you. Kind of in the middle of the road with your explanation. (Your post was confusing by the way as I found it hard to distinguish your new comments from previous postings. Technical, I know....)

I agree with you about Light from last year's Dick's run. It's my favorite jam of last year's tour.

I'm going to go and listen to this year's Dick's run again on Phishtracks and give it a fair shot. Usually my gut is correct but I hear your passion on the subject and you're not alone, that's for sure. So I agree to suspend my judgement on the subject.

Regarding the Tahoe Tweezer. I've heard this "long is not always better" argument to the point of wanting to break shit and I'm going to address it. Just because I think the Tweezer jam is the coupe de grace for 3.0, stop assuming (and that goes for everyone else touting the same argument) that it's because I'm giving it extra credit for being LONG. The fact that it went 37 minutes means nothing to me. I've stated already in another thread that my favorite single moment of the tour was the Piper> Slave at Northerly Island, a show that I otherwise rate as just above the middle of the pack this year. Do I give it extra credit for being interesting for most of the 37 minutes? Yes, absolutely. Did I personally enjoy the jam? Absolutely. It sounds like you didn't as much, and that's fine, I get that and respect it.

My point with the Tahoe Tweezer is that the "ending crescendo" you refer to, which btw is close to six minutes long, has an orgasmic and totally organically inspired call-response interactivity which elevated the experience to a near life-changing event for those who found it inspiring. I'm trying to not sound hyperbolic, but it's difficult because it was a ONCE-IN-A-CAREER event of mammoth import. THAT'S why I rate it so high. Stand-alone musically, you can certainly make the case that you're making and hold your head high and firm in it. I grant you that. However, those such as yourself who choose to tear down the merits of the Tahoe Tweezer are all doing so in order to build up some other piece of music that you think is better, for this or that reason (it doesn't matter) while completely ignoring the social and career significance of the EPIC MOMENT that was that jam. You simply cannot separate it from the time and space in which it was birthed without immediately losing key perspective. It's the same thing, by the way, which makes it difficult to objectively criticize the FYF show last year. I personally thought that musically the show is not as good as the other two shows of the run, but the EPIC MOMENT that was the FYF show cannot be denied. YOU MUST YIELD YOUR POSITION ON IT TO HISTORY. Yes, it's like that.

All that being said, I live in the Burlington VT area and I am instantly in fellowship with you as you speak of the scene at Nectar's (which still exists, for fans not from this area).

I respect you and your feelings/thoughts on the subject. You make a lot of sense. And you're not wrong. I just believe you're looking at it with the wrong lens, if you will.

I also must admit that I have not been to Dick's and cannot by nature of that fact really appreciate your experience there. So I yield to your experience. However, you must also recognize that your experience at the venue colors your interpretation of the music you heard within it.

Finally, I can't agree with you about the Gorge '11 being better than this year. I own all four shows and love them all but this year's shows were tremendous. I wil admit, though, that the 1st set of 8/5/11 is better than either first set this year. Anyway, I feel like a millionaire comparing my yacht to someone else's. We are rich in Phishiness.
, comment by imdano
imdano I attended Saturday and Sunday Dicks and enjoyed both immensely. After having re-listened to the download several times, I have determined that this version of "Chalkdust" is nothing short of a triumph. This is, to me anyway, some of the best group improvisation ever played. The ideas flow quickly yet so smoothly, and each band member is playing with hyper-responsiveness. I caught a good amount of summer tour this year and listened to the rest. I say with confidence that this Chalkdust is absolutely the exclamation point on a wonderful string of shows. Triumph is defintely the word here my friends. They visit numerous unique musical moments and play with incredible finesse and mastery. I knew in the moment, at the show, that this jam was special, and there is indeed no denying it. The WOOS! at the end serve to reference the major theme of the tour, which will help to preserve the memories of Summer '13. Thanks boys, Bravo.
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