Sunday 10/20/2013 by zzyzx

HAMPTON 2: SHARING THE GERMS

The last three times Phish have played the Coliseum have all come under extraordinary events. First Phish came back from their hiatus in the 2002/3 inverse New Years Run. Right before breaking up, they added a final indoor show in 2004, one with an amazing first set and a second that was… less so. When they returned again, the USS Hampton was once again the venue of choice. With all of the focus on death and rebirth, there hasn’t been a chance to just play a run of shows here. Finally 2013 delivers normal shows. Demand is down, everyone can get in, expectations are low (which – of course – leads to the inverse expectation game that makes expectations high because they were previously so low), it’s time for a normal run in an abnormal venue.

Speaking of abnormal, the show started with “Bathtub Gin.” This was the first time “Gin” opened a show since 6/30/99. The last time it opened either set to that prior was at this very location in 1998. The “Gin” did what they do these days. The jam was brought to a euphoric peak but just when people started to think that it would be THAT version, it quickly ended. 3.0 “Gin”s are akin to watching Marshawn Lynch rush for the Seahawks. Endless exciting and dramatic looking plays that result in 4 yard gains… until there’s the one where he busts loose for 45. It just feels like there’s going to be the one where it will happen. Stay tuned sports fans, and keep handing “Gin” the rock!

We then got a pair of pairs. Two songs that were once loved but now are lamented for not being what they were in their golden age: “Moma Dance” and “Tube,” were followed by a bevy of ballads. This “Tube” might not make anyone forget 1998, but for a shorter version it went to some interesting places. For those of you who were not watching at home – based on stubhub prices, I’m guessing that’s like 50 of you – yes, they did switch to Fight Cam Bell on the webcast when Mike stepped on it. In both pairs, the second song was the standout. “Fast Enough For You” was a solid enough version, but “The Ballad of Curtis Loew” really benefitted from its increased play in recent years. They’re able to do a little more with it than they have, adding fills and interesting breaks. It also showed off that Page’s voice was completely 100% fine.

Why was that important? Because “Ya Mar” followed and that made it apparent that Mike’s wasn’t. He braved through it, trying it sing as best as he could, but it was obvious that he was a tad under the weather. Rock and Roll doesn’t break for flus. He might have not been able to sing at his best, but he was given a bonus “Play it Cactus” break at the end. He let his bass do the singing for him.

So if you’re Phish and you know that one of your band members is having trouble singing – and any doubt about that was driven home during his lines in “My Sweet One” – you have two options. You could give him (and the audience) a break and lay off any more songs he has to sing. Alternatively, you could launch into “Mike’s Song.” Guess which approach Phish chose.

In a year where “Mike’s” has largely had weird fillers, many played for the first time ever in that spot, it’s refreshing to hear “I Am Hydrogen” in its classic role. It provides such a sharp relief from the intensity of the “Mike’s” and the joy of “Weekapaug.” This “Groove” was especially strong. It sounded like something was teased during the jam; guesses have included “Jumping Jack Flash,” “Satisfaction,” and “Going to a Go-Go.” Well at least narrowed it down to the band.

Second night brought the Hampton themed webcast jokes. There was a list of other live albums that were purported to be recorded there (e.g. The Beatles at the Hollywood Bowl), a statement that Hampton has four sister cities that it largely keeps in touch with on Facebook and the news that the city was named after Colonel Bruce.

The second set opened with a spacey jam that wanted to resolve into “Down With Disease” or “2001.” “DWD” or “ASZ”: which shall it be? Answer: “Ghost.” The “Ghost” jam – like all of Gaul – was divided into three parts. There was a happy section akin to last night’s “Carini” peak, a classic rock styled jam that could have perhaps gone into “Sparks” or reprised the mystery tease. Instead we went into a stunning space jam.

The space jam to transition into the next song has been such a common technique in recent years that there’s a Pavlovian response to hearing one; people immediately start wondering what song will be next. This time Phish let it stretch out a bit, playing exploring the space for its own sake, not just a way to get to the next song.

Eventually we did get that next song and it was what could have been the previous one: “Down With Disease.” A trend was starting here. If Mike can’t sing, play songs where others take the vocals, preferably with long jams. That might have seemed logical, but it wasn’t the plan. While the “Ghost” went on for 18 minutes, the “Disease” was only half that length. They made the most of it though; the brief, mellow jam was blissful.

This was followed by everyone’s favorite excuse to hit the fog button. This would be no normal “Steam” though. Mike started playing his cowbell with drumsticks. Trey moved over to the drum kit, but this would not be a rotation jam. Fishman stayed and Page played keys over the triple percussion. Mike started playing whatever he could find with the sticks, even using them to help him play bass. Eventually Trey returned to his guitar and the song was finished. Those moments of complete confusion are always fun to experience, virtually or not. I don’t know how interesting it will sound on future listens, but the novelty was cool if nothing else.

“Prince Caspian” has been surprisingly strong ever since Telluride. The brief jam sections are unpredictable. Sure there won’t be a 15-minute space jam… or at least there hasn’t been one but there’s potential now. Sure they went into “Boogie On Reggae Woman” just as it was starting to get interesting, but it’s still a novelty that the Dawn Treader is being used for exploration.

After a few shorter songs (“Theme,” “The Wedge,” yet another “Horse”-less “Silence” Carriage), it was obvious that the set was winding down. “Harry Hood” was chosen for the closer role. The introduction was cut rather short, making it appear that this would be a quick run for the exits. The rush wasn’t to end the set. They just wanted to get to the jam section. The “Hood” jam started and ended in the usual place, it just took a bizarre route to get there. We definitely can feel good when that happens.

While the “Quinn” encore seemed apropos for a second due to the fact that both the song and venue had associations with the Grateful Dead, there was one flaw present. Mike sings this song. The set long vocal chord break wasn’t enough to restore his range.

Vocal issues or not, this was a great show to have early in a tour. It was strong enough that it shows the potential for all sorts of interesting directions, but wasn’t so stunning to make the rest of the tour feel like a letdown. This night was a strong foundation with some room to grow. As long as someone can get Mike a cup of herbal tea before tomorrow’s show, we should be set up well.

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Comments

, comment by mgouker
mgouker That's how I saw it too. They braved through and played an excellent show. I am happy for all my friends in Hampton. Tonight you got your reward!
, comment by funkbeard
funkbeard It occurs to me that Trey was the man, who, for many years, sang on a sickened voice when his illnesses came and went. Mike got to taste the medicine tonight, I suppose. He did a great job of it, but probably would have not made it on x-factor.

Now Trey's vocabulary of riffs tonight was something to behold. The result of all the years of learning so much technique, it's all pouring out as sheer artistry now. You can't fuck with it.

Song selection was very flowing and inspired tonight. I liked the whole show. Glad I watched.
, comment by whatstheuse324
whatstheuse324 Give Gin the rock! Love it.
, comment by Fluffhead
Fluffhead Great first blog review, ZZYZX!
, comment by Fluffhead
Fluffhead Or should I say, "show recap."
, comment by chrism27
chrism27 Mike should have wore his scarf night 1!
, comment by frantic0blivion
frantic0blivion something went out in treys rig during steam. same situation as the bowl mule
, comment by Dressed_In_Gray
Dressed_In_Gray WOAH, Timer!

Great review. Your writing "voice" was not what I would have expected, but welcome just the same.
, comment by coop46
coop46 Excellent first show recap! Ghost and Weakapaug were 🔥! Did anyone else notice what I heard to be a James Bond Theme tease during Hood? Really thought it sounded "official" but I guess not...
, comment by coop46
coop46 So "fire" emoticons don't transfer from iPhone to comments page....got it.
, comment by jwp86
jwp86 Great review, and I love the reference to the opening of Caesar's Gallic Wars!
, comment by beargonefishin
beargonefishin Um, every Phish show since 2000 has been devoid of what they used to be. 2.0, 3.0, all just ways of saying inferior shows and versions. Phish refuses to put in the time and practice it takes to even be remotely what they used to be. Hence why the first 10 shows of summer were nothing but repeats and 4 minute songs. It's sad that it went from what I saw in 95-2000 to now all they can get excited about is the song order. I could care less when what song was played first, play them right and with jams for Gods sake!!!!!
, comment by nichobert
nichobert Phish's improvisation is magnificent lately. Something I can't say about the vast majority of shows from fall 99 on.

I don't even think 97 Phish had the capacity to do some of the thematic jigsaw puzzles they've been crafting roughly twice every three shows for the past 2 years.

I mean, there's definitely value in riding the same funk groove for 6 minutes, or having Gordon play the Sand baseline with no variations for 20 minutes.

In the grand scheme of things, where - to me anyway- Phish should be remembered based on the improvisational moments they've had. it's almost like the whole post Remain In light / Eno influence era will be viewed as some evolutionary step to this era. Now there's jams where they get into multiple distinct movements in a very short period of time... But not in the same slightly ADD / OCD way they jammed in the early 90s.

They took the tine to really soak in minimalism and all kinds of dance music instead of utilizing it as one feather in their omnigenre prog rock cap. Then when they came back their best improv bore hallmarks of all that came before it. Each guy listening and leaving space but functioning as a kind of spontaneous composition where Segment A and segment E may have nothing similar, but Viewed as a progression each step makes sense.

Maybe it's just me. I like something like 4 jams from Dicks 2012 more than anything from Island Tour.
, comment by tubescreamer
tubescreamer Page had Kleenex on his piano during second set of night 1. Sick jams.
, comment by FACTSAREUSELESS
FACTSAREUSELESS @nichobert said: [quote]Phish's improvisation is magnificent lately. Something I can't say about the vast majority of shows from fall 99 on.

I don't even think 97 Phish had the capacity to do some of the thematic jigsaw puzzles they've been crafting roughly twice every three shows for the past 2 years.

I mean, there's definitely value in riding the same funk groove for 6 minutes, or having Gordon play the Sand baseline with no variations for 20 minutes.

In the grand scheme of things, where - to me anyway- Phish should be remembered based on the improvisational moments they've had. it's almost like the whole post Remain In light / Eno influence era will be viewed as some evolutionary step to this era. Now there's jams where they get into multiple distinct movements in a very short period of time... But not in the same slightly ADD / OCD way they jammed in the early 90s.

They took the tine to really soak in minimalism and all kinds of dance music instead of utilizing it as one feather in their omnigenre prog rock cap. Then when they came back their best improv bore hallmarks of all that came before it. Each guy listening and leaving space but functioning as a kind of spontaneous composition where Segment A and segment E may have nothing similar, but Viewed as a progression each step makes sense.

Maybe it's just me. I like something like 4 jams from Dicks 2012 more than anything from Island Tour.[/quote

Excellent post. It's not just you , I hear it too.

This Ghost to me is a perfect illustration of what you're refering to. It starts out gritty and greasy, but then, as Fishman picks up the pace, it morphed into another anthematic jam typical of the last two years but this year in particular. It's funny that you bring up 99, because I hear many elements of that year's style in this year's tour, only with more focus and maturity.

Agree with your statement that they are accomplishing some pretty impressive high-wire acts these days, and I know that they couldn't play like this then. They were too loose and sloppy to play like this. In some ways they were better then, more free perhaps, but they are more diverse and in control now, it seems.

This Ghost went into transcendent territory, but was quickly reigned in with focus and direction and not allowed to dissipate into drivel. Great management of energy and flow.

Trey has switched guitars again, which of course changed the sound, too.

The DWD seemed to pick right up where the Ghost jam left off. Just delicious jamming.
, comment by triplesevener
triplesevener Lots of fire in that Weekapaug, one of the better ones of 3.0?
, comment by dogogbyn
dogogbyn @beargonefishin said:
Um, every Phish show since 2000 has been devoid of what they used to be. 2.0, 3.0, all just ways of saying inferior shows and versions. Phish refuses to put in the time and practice it takes to even be remotely what they used to be. Hence why the first 10 shows of summer were nothing but repeats and 4 minute songs. It's sad that it went from what I saw in 95-2000 to now all they can get excited about is the song order. I could care less when what song was played first, play them right and with jams for Gods sake!!!!!
I appreciate your comment, but I think if you asked Phish, they would've said that they were simply 'getting by' or 'going through the motions' in 99-2000. Additionally, we really don't know exactly how much the band is rehearsing, but as the guys age they may stick to playing 'repeats' out of a fear of not being able to nail more complex material.
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