Monday 10/21/2013 by TheEmu

HAMPTON 3: FIRE IN THE FREEZER

One more night in Hampton for an undersold Sunday show that I hoped would put an exclamation point on the weekend and get Fall Tour off to a rampaging start. And did it ever. Forgive me for rushing my set up, here, but I’m dying to spark this one and get to it.

You can come out and open a set with a jamming workhorse like “Wolfman’s Brother” or “Bathtub Gin.” On the other hand, you can fire off a few rockers to get the burners lit. Phish chose the latter course on Sunday, and the opening triumvirate of “Julius,” “Funky Bitch” and “Back On the Train” worked to perfection. As “BOTT” reached a steam whistle climax, two things were clear: First, Mike’s voice had improved significantly since Saturday night, though it still didn’t sound 100%. I’m guessing it was mint tea with honey. Second, the band was absolutely dialed in. “Roses Are Free” may have only teased us, once again, by head faking in the direction of the Island Tour version, but I liked the two minutes of improvisation at the end. So, if a jammed out “Roses” is something you’ve been chasing, I think you should count it. Hey, length isn’t everything. After “Sample In a Jar” and the first “Ginseng Sullivan” in more than a year, it was time to dump some fuel in the furnace with “46 Days.” If you encounter someone whose heart has stopped, you can attempt to resuscitate him with chest compressions, or you could just play him a good version of “46 Days.” This version should work just fine.

Once upon a time, I was not a big fan of “Divided Sky,” but that changed last summer. I now look forward to the gorgeous composition and the passion that Trey can bring to that solo. This is not a flawless version, and this is not the greatest version, but that is very far from the point. The sight of Hampton Coliseum ablaze with a veritable starscape of lighters during a 2m 33s pause is something I will never forget. It was beyond cool; it was magnificent, and I’ll forever believe it lit the fuse on the bomb that went off in the second set. First, though, Page grabbed the rainbow spotlight of “Bold As Love” to close set one. This was my favorite opening frame of the run, but to borrow a phrase from @cactoid, YMM, of course, V.

Set two opened with an anti-dedication to a group of fans wearing “Where’s Waldo” costumes. Since Trey said the song was NOT for the Waldoes, I assume it was for the folks who hung the “Paul and Silas” sign each night. Well done. With that request fulfilled, it was time for an explosion of cheers and glowsticks as “Tweezer” ripped into the Mothership. I’m tempted to describe this version with a string of expletives. That may do it more justice than my description will, but I suppose decorum demands I give it a shot anyway, so here goes. The jam starts simply enough, with some wokka chops and pitch shifting from Trey. Around 9:30, Mike and Page drop out for a moment, and when they come back in, things take on a creepy, Halloween feel. This intensifies SERIOUSLY when Mike takes position behind Fish and starts hammering on his bass with a drumstick. By 13:00, we are in the heart of an EVIL October “Tweezer.” It’s a monster that lurches around and menaces everyone in the building. Just before the 15:00 minute mark, Trey finds a screeching chord blast, and this creature reaches a crescendo with its teeth bared before slowly receding into its lair. In its wake, the darkness swirls, and just after 19:00, Page summons sheer beauty to lull the beast back to sleep. The ambient section of this “Tweezer” nearly brought me to tears. It is an achingly beautiful catharsis. Following that stunning turn from wicked to wondrous, “Golden Age” has never seemed more appropriate. It develops into a dirty dance party as Trey and Page color and fill against the rhythm. Fish and Mike are so good in this segment, and the groove gets so deep and tight that even a partial “Streets of Cairo” tease sounds awesome. Around 12:30 the jam swells and then slowly starts to contract. As the space grows and chaos builds in, it seems like we may again wake the evil beast. We come dangerously close, but what emerges from hiding is a different entity. “Piper,” like “Golden Age,” seems perfectly placed here, and we quickly take off for a triumphant ride on the back of the red, red worm. This jam is pure rock and roll. Somewhere around 6:20, Trey hits some chords that sound like “The Real Me,” but instead it’s a perfect segue into the debut of BTO’sTakin’ Care of Business.” Hot damn! I just got goosebumps hearing it again! With the crowd shouting the chorus, it was clear that Phish is in the business of kickin’ your ass, and business is boomin’.

“TCOB” is followed by a dance party reprise in the form of a terrific “2001” and a booty-shakin’ “Sand” that Trey infuses with a screaming madness. The groove machine finally winds down, and the jam lands in the warm glow of “Slave to the Traffic Light.” It’s a unique and wonderful version for “Slave” fans to enjoy, with deft sustain and feedback from Trey, as well as another lighter tribute to the greatest band in the world. “Slave” is the final link a set-long chain of perfectly placed tunes. Page gets another chance to shine in the encore with “A Day in the Life,” and of course we get our final chance to raise our arms and shout with the unrivaled triumph of “Tweezer Reprise.” Absolutely amazing.

If you haven’t listened to this set yet, you definitely should, but let’s check something first. Have you acquired tickets yet for a show this Fall? No? Then you should run, DO NOT WALK and DO IT NOW!! This band is on fire, and it’s only the start of the tour. Last night’s second set was the kind of legendary performance I have hoped to witness for more than 15 years. Phish covered so many different styles in the span of just 95 minutes; bluegrass, monstrous chaos, sublime ambience, dance funk, and pure classic rock. You’ve just gotta love this band.

See you in Atlantic City!

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Comments

, comment by Fluffhead
Fluffhead It should be noted that the 2001 was fantastic! Trey kept hitting this high note, which really brought a higher level of energy to an already high energy song. Loved it!
, comment by Fluffhead
Fluffhead BTW, great review!
, comment by wauch
wauch What a show. That second set was nearly flawless in the sense that every tune was perfectly placed and the 2001 was slightly tweaked in a way that I would love to hear again. I never get sick of Golden Age.
, comment by AlbanyYEM
AlbanyYEM In an effort not to be the guy that immediately starts ranking things, I'll just say that certain shows (you decide which) belong in discussions that transcend ".0" tags. This is one of those watershed shows. With fluidity, grace, and stunning originality in *every* movement made in the second set, this seems to me to be in that jaw-droppingly effortless vein of the Dick's '12 shows.

This Tweezer is one of my favorite jams, right next to 'that other' Tweezer played this year. But it would be an injustice to only mention the big jams from this show because the music played was entirely organic, transcending which songs which jams could provide us those moments. They all did. While centerpiece jamming is crucial for my own subjective appreciation of shows, the best ones infuse that ethos into every song played. At some point it stopped being about the direction provided by the songs and became merely a kind of guide that was a conduit for the style of jamming they were giving us throughout the night. The core of that style wasn't a certain theme (song), nor was it a mode of jamming (start/stop, funk, etc), but the perfect synthesis between the song and freedom of type II. And I'm not talking about Tweezer here, but 2001, Piper, and Slave! To give us a taste of that other side, of chaos, but woven perfectly into the frame of the song was spine-tingling and done seemingly with ease.

Last point of this ramble. I think this all started in Divided Sky (you be the judge if it was the effect of the sea of lighters). In the first 'quiet section' I immediately took notice that Trey was being entirely serious with the dynamics of the song that truly makes the ending so glorious. When we talk about 'energy,' we're really talking about the dynamics (volume/timbre) as much as harmonic release of tension or number of notes played. Reference the Hood jamming chart to see what I mean here. This Divided took very seriously the cleanness required of that first section. Trey hit all the notes, but hit them with the inflection and clarity he demonstrated such mastery over back in the day. Then some more volume, and then back into this understated dynamics for an incredibly slow build the rest of the way. Divided has only one harmonic change that is a build release as trey plays an octave higher emphasizing the tonic notes in the key, so the dynamics are what gives the song its punch.

Playing like that (in a manner I frankly haven't seen in a long time) requires intense concentration and letting the music dictate how you play (number of notes, when to land, strength of notes, etc) so the music is really playing you instead of the converse. Naturally, this exercise lends itself to organic jamming in the type II context. Trey figured out how to lead while still letting the music breathe, being the conduit without overpowering things or (in the other direction) being too tentative. I believe that is the definition of the 'hose' that Santana was talking about and what dear lord is the reason why I listen to jambands at all.

So, IMO, thanks Divided! And thanks Phish. That shit was magical.
, comment by Colonial_Forbain
Colonial_Forbain Outstanding summary of a fantastic evening. Taking Care of Business reminded me that just when you think Phish can't do anything to surprise you they flat out put you on your ass! Energy last night was just incredible, great ending to another fine Hampton run!
, comment by Fluffhead515
Fluffhead515 Very nice review! Who's got my Halloween tix?
, comment by lititzphan
lititzphan I thought Funky Bitch and BOTT got this monster of a show rolling. I was right behind the "Waldos". I had been worried since MPP2 in the pit that not being up close I wouldn't enjoy as much. Thank goodness I moved to back of the floor for set 2,,cause I needed the room to rage in Tweezer> Golden Age> TCOB,,and I swear I heard a Jumpin Jack Flash tease right before TCOB.
I'm totally stoked for Reading(my backyard), and ACn2,, gotta believe show before Halloween, and show after are gonna kill it!!
, comment by FACTSAREUSELESS
FACTSAREUSELESS @AlbanyYEM said:
In an effort not to be the guy that immediately starts ranking things, I'll just say that certain shows (you decide which) belong in discussions that transcend ".0" tags. This is one of those watershed shows. With fluidity, grace, and stunning originality in *every* movement made in the second set, this seems to me to be in that jaw-droppingly effortless vein of the Dick's '12 shows.

This Tweezer is one of my favorite jams, right next to 'that other' Tweezer played this year. But it would be an injustice to only mention the big jams from this show because the music played was entirely organic, transcending which songs which jams could provide us those moments. They all did. While centerpiece jamming is crucial for my own subjective appreciation of shows, the best ones infuse that ethos into every song played. At some point it stopped being about the direction provided by the songs and became merely a kind of guide that was a conduit for the style of jamming they were giving us throughout the night. The core of that style wasn't a certain theme (song), nor was it a mode of jamming (start/stop, funk, etc), but the perfect synthesis between the song and freedom of type II. And I'm not talking about Tweezer here, but 2001, Piper, and Slave! To give us a taste of that other side, of chaos, but woven perfectly into the frame of the song was spine-tingling and done seemingly with ease.

Last point of this ramble. I think this all started in Divided Sky (you be the judge if it was the effect of the sea of lighters). In the first 'quiet section' I immediately took notice that Trey was being entirely serious with the dynamics of the song that truly makes the ending so glorious. When we talk about 'energy,' we're really talking about the dynamics (volume/timbre) as much as harmonic release of tension or number of notes played. Reference the Hood jamming chart to see what I mean here. This Divided took very seriously the cleanness required of that first section. Trey hit all the notes, but hit them with the inflection and clarity he demonstrated such mastery over back in the day. Then some more volume, and then back into this understated dynamics for an incredibly slow build the rest of the way. Divided has only one harmonic change that is a build release as trey plays an octave higher emphasizing the tonic notes in the key, so the dynamics are what gives the song its punch.

Playing like that (in a manner I frankly haven't seen in a long time) requires intense concentration and letting the music dictate how you play (number of notes, when to land, strength of notes, etc) so the music is really playing you instead of the converse. Naturally, this exercise lends itself to organic jamming in the type II context. Trey figured out how to lead while still letting the music breathe, being the conduit without overpowering things or (in the other direction) being too tentative. I believe that is the definition of the 'hose' that Santana was talking about and what dear lord is the reason why I listen to jambands at all.

So, IMO, thanks Divided! And thanks Phish. That shit was magical.
Great comments. Nice to see that we're not seeing the "step backwards" that you and I wondered about earlier in the year. They're on fire 3 nights in. Awesome. Maybe the tour schedule is overrated or maybe there are simply too many variables to predict it.
, comment by FACTSAREUSELESS
FACTSAREUSELESS Excellent recap. The imagery you used to describe your Tweezer experience was really well-thought out and captured it beautifully. I listened to it on Phishtracks and can't wait to own it outright.

Even though you hate me I still loved your review. Snob. :)
, comment by Dressed_In_Gray
Dressed_In_Gray Meatwad link = epic show review.

Nice writeup on a fantastic show.

::Hols up lighter::
, comment by yotam
yotam Paul and Silas was for the Waldos before it was against them. Trey asked whether they were in jail stripes or dressed as Waldo. He said they were going to play Paul and Silas because the band thought the Waldos were in jail stripes. When it got cleared up, he un-dedicated it to them and told them not to enjoy it (with just kidding hand gestures).
, comment by AlbanyYEM
AlbanyYEM @FACTSAREUSELESS I'm thinking that a solid amount of practicing jams went on before this tour kicked off and a fair bit of methodological discussion might have happened about their playing. It's obvious trey is trying to take a step back in the severe type II stuff but I think he found the honey zone where he 'says' just enough. They don't have a trademark style in their jamming to fall back to so the way they approach jamming seems to me to be about inter-band dynamics. Kind of a 'passing the baton' relay-race style thing where everyone says their own 'hey' if they feel inspired.

I admit I was worried that the focus of practicing was going to be solely on new material, but maybe they're taking a more billy breathes style 'blob' approach to see what arises in longer jamming as possible new material. If the tour schedule is supplemented by intense jamming sessions, then these breaks in the schedule aren't really breaks at all. Of course this is all highly speculative, but it certainly sounds to me like they've been practicing jamming for jamming sake. Maybe the first tour of the year is about tightness and the second more about overall sound. Personally, I'll take stunning jams over tightness everyday but they seem to be doing both right now. Which is ideal.
, comment by TDAWG
TDAWG The author has removed all of the text from their comment
, comment by TDAWG
TDAWG Did nobody else hear Shakedown Street teases in second set? I know damn well that's what I heard. To be sure somebody else heard it.
, comment by phunky58
phunky58 Top jams of the year were put down during this Hampton run. Tweezer (my vote for best version of the year so far) Golden Age, and Carini are all must hear Gems. Hope this trend continues. Hampton night 3 second set was the best set of 2013. that's my story and im stickin to it. c you all in rochester
, comment by TheEmu
TheEmu @FACTSAREUSELESS said:
Excellent recap. The imagery you used to describe your Tweezer experience was really well-thought out and captured it beautifully. I listened to it on Phishtracks and can't wait to own it outright.

Even though you hate me I still loved your review. Snob. :)
Thank you, and I don't hate you. :)
, comment by Just_Ivy
Just_Ivy Lighters > > > > Woos
, comment by CanandaiguaRyan
CanandaiguaRyan Nice positive summary. We are very eager for tomorrow's Rochester!
, comment by jonnylips
jonnylips @TDAWG said:
Did nobody else hear Shakedown Street teases in second set? I know damn well that's what I heard. To be sure somebody else heard it.
Yessir. I heard it last night too. Happens at the ~10:40 mark in Golden Age.
, comment by mikh2wg
mikh2wg The words, man. You are good with the words.
, comment by PennPhan
PennPhan I'd love for them to carry this into Reading, the only show I'm seeing this fall (didn't score lottery AC Halloween tix like I did in 2010).
, comment by jugglerswithfire
jugglerswithfire Nice review and great to finally meet you and Ivy. Now we just need to petition for the Mothership to bring back their colored lights. ;)
, comment by djmeneses
djmeneses @AlbanyYEM said:
@FACTSAREUSELESS I'm thinking that a solid amount of practicing jams went on before this tour kicked off and a fair bit of methodological discussion might have happened about their playing. It's obvious trey is trying to take a step back in the severe type II stuff but I think he found the honey zone where he 'says' just enough. They don't have a trademark style in their jamming to fall back to so the way they approach jamming seems to me to be about inter-band dynamics. Kind of a 'passing the baton' relay-race style thing where everyone says their own 'hey' if they feel inspired.

I admit I was worried that the focus of practicing was going to be solely on new material, but maybe they're taking a more billy breathes style 'blob' approach to see what arises in longer jamming as possible new material. If the tour schedule is supplemented by intense jamming sessions, then these breaks in the schedule aren't really breaks at all. Of course this is all highly speculative, but it certainly sounds to me like they've been practicing jamming for jamming sake. Maybe the first tour of the year is about tightness and the second more about overall sound. Personally, I'll take stunning jams over tightness everyday but they seem to be doing both right now. Which is ideal.
, comment by djmeneses
djmeneses Great review. Was there, all three nights were well played with super high highlights.
, comment by MikeHamad
MikeHamad "Just before the 15:00 minute mark, Trey finds a screeching chord blast, and this creature reaches a crescendo with its teeth bared before slowly receding into its lair."

Awesome.
, comment by FACTSAREUSELESS
FACTSAREUSELESS @AlbanyYEM said: [quote] They don't have a trademark style in their jamming to fall back to so the way they approach jamming seems to me to be about inter-band dynamics. Kind of a 'passing the baton' relay-race style thing where everyone says their own 'hey' if they feel inspired.

Yes, I would offer that it's always been about that, except during those times when those dynamics have been tested to their limits, such as the latter portions of 2.0.

An interesting bit to build upon what you're saying was during the second set of night 2. Not to spend much time on it (since this is a blog for night 3!), but after over 45 minutes of brilliant jamming, they lost the flow in Boogie On. Now, this Boogie was OKAY, but you can clearly (to my ears) hear Mike try to go into uncharted waters as he slowed down his tempo slightly and hit a few low notes, seemingly inviting his band mates to type 2 with him, but Page, God bless him, just kept chugging along with his funk-shuffle. I actually hear Trey pause to let Fish and Page catch up, but neither took the bait. Subsequently, the song was awkwardly wrapped up a minute or two later when it became clear that they were no longer on the same vibe. At the end of the awkward stop, it sounded as though Trey was beginning to scratch into a segway, when Page played the telltale first notes of Theme. Once those were played, there was no turning back.

I've found over the years that some of the most interesting type 2 moments are when Mike leads the jam. I can't begin to catalog how many times that has been the case. He often seems to be the one most willing to break away from the norm at any time.

Anyway, I'm rambling now so I'll stop. You've got my wheels turning.
, comment by tweezer
tweezer @jugglerswithfire said:
Nice review and great to finally meet you and Ivy. Now we just need to petition for the Mothership to bring back their colored lights. ;)
This really bothered you, didn't it. :)
, comment by AlbanyYEM
AlbanyYEM I think part of it has to do with what is designated a jamming song and what is not. After so many 'in the box' Boogie On's in 3.0, it's probably hard to get everyone together for an extended jam. I especially thought this was the case in the Roses where the song portion had ended and it was like how do we keep this going? In past eras they go back to their signature sound for that era like the funky interlude after the song in Island Roses (if memory serves correct). That kind of platform would then be the bridge to an extended jam. But now there's no go to style so it seems more difficult, you need an idea for the jam's direction almost immediately. I think that's also the reason why Mike's suffers the same fate. After the closing chords that's pretty much it. One could argue the jams are overall more original in 3.0 because of this lack of style but it also seems to bar the door to extended jamming quite often.
, comment by TwiceBitten
TwiceBitten Just really settling in with this show. The Divided Sky after the pause is fantastic.
, comment by FACTSAREUSELESS
FACTSAREUSELESS @AlbanyYEM said:
I think part of it has to do with what is designated a jamming song and what is not. After so many 'in the box' Boogie On's in 3.0, it's probably hard to get everyone together for an extended jam. I especially thought this was the case in the Roses where the song portion had ended and it was like how do we keep this going? In past eras they go back to their signature sound for that era like the funky interlude after the song in Island Roses (if memory serves correct). That kind of platform would then be the bridge to an extended jam. But now there's no go to style so it seems more difficult, you need an idea for the jam's direction almost immediately. I think that's also the reason why Mike's suffers the same fate. After the closing chords that's pretty much it. One could argue the jams are overall more original in 3.0 because of this lack of style but it also seems to bar the door to extended jamming quite often.
I'll comment on two things you mention. First, night 2 had the potential to be just as epic as night 3 had Mike's band mates followed him during Boogie On. Alas, the set cooled off considerably after that moment, though they redeemed some credits with a nice Hood later on.

Second, I think you're on to something with the lack of go-to mechanisms. To be specific, they certainly don't lack go-to musical devices, but a go-to musical syle to fall back on, as you allude to. I have a hard time buying into some of the fluff that anything from 97 seems to automatically get. I am reluctant to say that it's wrong to do so in most cases, because it was a grand period. Yet many of the jams in that period had long stretches of elongation with no real improvisation. Just a lot of grooving followed by a segway. I always felt they were much more innovative and chancy during the 94-95 period. '97 was kind of a funk-party most of the time, I thought. I think they're playing these days has more in common with '99, only with more maturity.

You spoke earlier this summer about this phenomenon and the idea has been eating away at my already corroded mind since. I can't shake it.

I still think they're in the process of reinventing themselves a bit right before our eyes and it's very exciting. I just hope they finish their damn album soon. They're getting more like the Dead all the time in that area. When they finally release it, it will sport songs that we've been hearing in concert for three years.
, comment by AlbanyYEM
AlbanyYEM Hahaha. True on the dead part. You nailed it. Although I was thinking about the whole 'style' part of it, and, while it's certainly true of 97, 98, and to some extent 99-04, pre-97 is a lot harder to pin down in terms of style of jamming. I can think of certain melodic phrases that would get returned to (Oye Como Va in YEM comes to mind) but I'm thinking the style might more have been dictated by the song played. YEM would rarely end up dark but Tweezer would almost always touch on that. But tweezer also seemed to be the wildcard where the most out there stuff would go down. I also think (have to say it) that more tightness as a band allows for deft turns and fluid movements that the band is not as quick on these days. So it's harder to go from the song portion to the jam without a built in designated jam portion a la Tweezer. Maybe the lack of bridges lets things go deeper though.

But in 3.0 it is almost never the case that the song dictates the style. Carini more times than not will be blissfull, e.g. While I like the concept of a broader pallette, it seems like eventually they'll land on something organically or be influenced by what they're listening to. Maybe less shows also means that this takes longer to go down. I don't know I'm just kind of tossing stuff out there. On a side note I was thoroughly impressed by Trey's use of effects last night that let his tonal pallette go waaaaay out there beyond what a guitar is supposed to sound like. Man, if you could imagine the effects wizardry of 2.0 combined with the demand for direction (if it's not there then drop it) of 3.0 then they could have something freaking golden this era.
, comment by Brrockland
Brrockland The author has removed all of the text from their comment
, comment by Brrockland
Brrockland Great review, I concur 110%!
, comment by AsWeGoSlidingBy
AsWeGoSlidingBy @albanyYEM and @FACTSAREUSELESS Don't know why exactly, but your comments in this thread prompted me to make an account after lurking here for many years.

Just wanted to say that your discussion is one of the most insightful, cogent, and eloquent Ive heard regarding phish's current state of playing in context of their history in awhile. I think you put to word the most likely half baked thoughts of many a phan, or this one at least. As they change, so must we and that starts with better understanding of each other.
, comment by IdRatherBeOnTour
IdRatherBeOnTour See ya in Rocha tonight and Glens Falls Wednesday where they'll blow the roofs off!! THEN OFF TO AC!!!
, comment by PurpleWhale
PurpleWhale WOW! The hose was wide open on this night.

Faces melted. Minds blown.

Shouts out to CK5 for his beautiful work in that arena. WOOT! WOOT!
, comment by TheEmu
TheEmu @tweezer said:
@jugglerswithfire said:
Nice review and great to finally meet you and Ivy. Now we just need to petition for the Mothership to bring back their colored lights. ;)
This really bothered you, didn't it. :)
It bothered us, too. It's not the full Hampton experience without the lights!
, comment by makisupa20
makisupa20 This is one of the most beautifully written reviews, ever. Makes me proud to be a phish fan and I am honored and humbled to share all this awesomeness with so many passionate, loving, fun and amazing fans. Truly the greatest band on Earth. We are so fortunate. Thank you, Phish!!!!
, comment by vtspeedy
vtspeedy We couch toured via the web cast and I literally sat stunned for half an hour after the show ended, trying to round up the melted goo from my face. Interesting that spinning the show (endlessly) since, the music is phenomenal, but it's lacking something. CK5's lighting was incredible and added an entire dimension to the impact of the show on me. I'm hoping he continues to be as dialed in as he was in Hampton, because we've got Glens Falls and Woostah coming up.
, comment by FACTSAREUSELESS
FACTSAREUSELESS @AsWeGoSlidingBy said:
@albanyYEM and @FACTSAREUSELESS Don't know why exactly, but your comments in this thread prompted me to make an account after lurking here for many years.

Just wanted to say that your discussion is one of the most insightful, cogent, and eloquent Ive heard regarding phish's current state of playing in context of their history in awhile. I think you put to word the most likely half baked thoughts of many a phan, or this one at least. As they change, so must we and that starts with better understanding of each other.
Thank you and I agree wholeheartedly about changing with the times. That sentiment has been at the core of most of my commentary since I've been on this site. We need to grow with the band and as a community. Kudos.
, comment by FACTSAREUSELESS
FACTSAREUSELESS @AlbanyYEM said: "Maybe the lack of bridges lets things go deeper..."

The Dead only went type 2 with a very small portion of their song catalog, even in the early days, and always with songs that had a musical bridge which invited exploration. A couple obvious examples of this are Uncle John's Band and Playing In the Band. An approach, btw, which Phish is soundly panned for these days. @waxbanks said as much last year. In other words, AC/DC Bag is a song by Phish, owned by Phish, written by Phish. Yet, usually, when Phish plays their song, we will complain and groan because they don't play that Bag, and we all know what that Bag is....in our minds we long for the Bag from Hampton '97, don't we? But that's not fair of us, any more than it would've been to expect Jerry to go type 2 on Loser. Just because it happened a few times in history doesn't mean that's what we should expect. Ditto for Roses Are Free. It's been jammed out only a few times, but as a result of our EXPECTATIONS, we are dissapointed when they don't do it again. To me, that's the quintesential definition of being "jaded", ie; when the music doesn't meet my standard of yesteryear, I downgrade it in my mind as average. This is not fair, but I digress.

To me, Tweezer has always been Phish's Dark Star. The composition itself invites darkness and space. It just rages a bit harder. The Dark Star performances from '70-'73 still rank in my mind as the greatest improvisational pieces ever recorded. The Dead were TIGHT then, and their mojo was exploratory, chancy. Yet and still, most of their library was played straight down the middle, even then.

What you said in your first post on this thread about the way this show flowed....how it wasn't just the BIG jams, but everything seemed to feed off itself, as though the music was playing itself, and your comment about concentration was right on. It does take enormous concentration to play like that and not get swept up in the excitement of the crowd and the stage, but to be able to listen at that level to one another and submit yourself to the greater whole....that was always what the Dead's music was all about.

It really needs to go beyond the "jam". It bothers me that so many phans seems to have a mindset of 'well they played this and this this and it wasn't very interesting but then there was THIS, and it made it worth it. No. That's missing it.

You know the great Tweezer on 2/28/03 was predicated by a great first set that night, just like Divided Sky predicated the Tweezer on this show. In fact the Bathtub Gin that everyone raves about from 2/28/03 was germinated in Worcester two nights earlier during Ghost. Listen to that Ghost and you'll hear Gin from Nassau. It's like that.

It's all one song. It all flows together. Or it should. Perhaps we, as fans, are the ones restricting the band more than they are. Maybe we are pushing them through our reaction to the music into this anthematic jamming, though I doubt it. Just a thought.

So, this has become way too long and I'm sorry. I'm trying to flesh out and give form to some concepts you've been discussing and it's hard to do that quickly.

At any rate, my original thought here with this post was the idea of a musical bridge vs. the lack of one. Mike's Song has a natural bridge point that lends itself to a jam, much like Uncle John's Band. Wolfman's has it. Bathtub has it. Bowie has it. Hood has it. But what's cool about Phish is they have many times gone type 2 with songs that don't naturally lend themselves to that type of exploration, such as Suzy and Bag and Halley's.

Then again there are songs that beg for type 2 exploration that never seem to get it, such as Theme, Cities, McGrupp, et al.

I think in the end it's like you said. The band dynamics need to be right and they must be unselfish and willing to take chances. But the crowd needs to be willing to encourage it as well. You know I thought the Merriweather crowd was beautiful that second night. As the stop/start jamming in Light was happening, and it was quite dissonant, ala 1994-95, the crowd was right there, cheering and encouraging it. The sophistication of the Phish crowd is unmatched, I think. It gives the band freedom. But sometimes I cringe when I watch the crowd at some shows look deflated when Trey takes an unexpected left turn during a show. I don't think Trey is happy when he sees everyone stop moving and just stare at him. I don't know. That's probably stupid talk.

Lastly, this past show to me is the brother of the the first Gorge show from this past summer. The same type of georgeous flow and submission to the vibe. I'll never ever forget when Trey played Mango Song that night. It was so PERFECT for the moment. Yet I doubt many fans would've requested Mango Song for a mid second set placement.
, comment by FACTSAREUSELESS
FACTSAREUSELESS @AlbanyYEM said: "Man, if you could imagine the effects wizardry of 2.0 combined with the demand for direction (if it's not there then drop it) of 3.0 then they could have something freaking golden this era."

Yes.
, comment by bkirk1977
bkirk1977 "Set two opened with an anti-dedication to a group of fans wearing “Where’s Waldo” costumes. Since Trey said the song was NOT for the Waldoes, I assume it was for the folks who hung the “Paul and Silas” sign each night. Well done."

THANKS!!!! WOO-HOO!!! I'll take the fake out assist from the Waldos.

I am still so stoked.
, comment by AlbanyYEM
AlbanyYEM Wow. Ok, first off @AsWeGoSlidingBy thanks, I'm actually kind of flattered. But the best stuff I think comes out in the interchange of perspectives so @FACTSAREUSELESS thank you for your side of it, which has got me thinking as well. @AsWeGoSlidingBy hey whatever gets you on here getting your thoughts out!! It would have happened eventually but I'm glad we could play some small part in your expressing yourself. I was a lurker from 97-2010 if that gives you some idea. As to your idea, I am in full agreement. There's always a tension between the weight of one's past, what people want you to be, and the stark reality of people's (or bands', or artists') identity unfolding over time. That changing is the seed of creativity and just a fact of life, though it's amazing how often we forget that.

I don't want to get off on an existentialist tangent here, but there is a kind of battle going on between expectations and the freedom to change. Every new era there's some backlash--"man this isn't the band I came to see" or "this just isn't my kind of Phish any more"...etc, whether it's in 97 and people want 94, 98 to 97, 2003 to 94-2000. It's a kind of backward thinking that pegs down the band in a very narrow way. In a sense it's a kind of attempt to dominate the band by delimiting their very identity, I know what they should be and anything else is not who they are.

@FACTSAREUSELESS I think this fits in with your point about expectations. I do however, think it would be almost inhumanly impossible to be able to go into it without any expectations, though perhaps that's my jadedness coming out. Having some sense of knowing the band, and thus being a part of this community, but without letting that absolutely determine what the band can be seems to be the ideal. In this sense, history can be a good thing because it provides clues and direction about what is going on in the present, so long as we remember that once an era is over no amount of nostalgic idealism is going to resurrect it. In this sense, we'd be able to talk about this stuff we've been talking about (historical styles of jamming) without going into things expecting and demanding naively a kind of repetition.

As for the dead comparison, I'm just going to say this because it is what I believe but it will probably piss a lot of people off. Now, as a caveat I love Phish songs (just the songs) more than any other band outside of maybe Floyd and the Dead. But the Dead's catalogue of songs I just feel lends itself to a kind of timelessness where we can hear a Wharf Rat from any era and just let it envelope us without concern for the next jam. Part of this is that the Dead are over with, there is no new ground being broken so we can accept it for what it is without this expectational side of things. Yet, personally, I feel that there is a kind of magic in the Dead's compositions that doesn't depend on how they play the songs. A straightforward reading of Uncle John's will *always* get me going and if they jam it then that's just a bonus. Maybe if I weren't 8 years old in 1989 I would have been jonesin for that 12 minute jammed Uncle John's back then, who knows. But as it stands now I think the Dead's songs and the emotive power of Jerry just let the songs themselves be satisfying in a way Phish can't touch (and Phish isn't trying to!!)--the lyricism is just unrivaled. I don't want to get to flaky here but it is as if there is some kind of aura to the songs that portray timeless truths with pure emotion, the lyrics and the performance. So if I put on Winterland '73 I know there's going to be some deeply psychedelic stuff to come, but I'm still enjoying the shit out of To Lay Me Down and Sugaree, eyes closed in a trance as much as in Dark Star.

So I think it may be an unfair comparison because Phish songs (just the songs) depend more on how they are played. With some exceptions (H2 comes to mind), Phish needs to play their songs *well* in order for me to enjoy an AC/DC Bag. Not jammed at all necessarily but with the standard amount of heat that we had become accustomed to in earlier years. I know I may be contradicting myself, but I think excellent standard playing is something that we have an (ugh) right to expect from Phish that allows the catalogue to come alive. I know we have to accept that they are changing but this does not mean (and I think should not mean) that we accept whatever changes occur. This area is one of the few where objective standards can be applied to how well they are playing their songs. If they're still playing songs that demand perfection in playing due to their compositions, then part of what makes that song successful, built into the song itself, is nailing the prog side of it. I think the band themselves are slowly coming to face this problematic--they are not the band they were when they wrote these things and have very different lives and concerns about their music.

So anyway, I think that may be part of why people are so jam oriented with Phish. With normal songs you have perfectly nailed execution and energy, or you have jamming on them. Phish, have to say it, is rarely getting people off on the former so they go looking for the latter. A ho-hum 96 first set with NO jamming is still technically played better than a jam-less first set these days. Again, I think it's about the impossibility of completely letting go of expectations--but the dark side to that is that Trey can be 'pissing in people's ears' and we'd all cheer him for doing so if we don't have ANY expectations. I think we could maybe separate what they've done from the past and still use some objective determining factors about the songs themselves in terms of execution. A botched note is a botched note. That said, we can hope without expecting.

Caveat: they seem to be much tighter the start of this tour than the start of summer tour, which is a good sign.
, comment by The_Nutty_Professor
The_Nutty_Professor After reading your review, I felt compelled to go listen to this second set, and you were on the money, an EXCELLENT and FUN set indeed! I'm all over this Tweezer, as a matter of fact, I think it's much more interesting than the Tahoe Tweezer *ducks in anticipation of hurled tomatoes* - less formulaic chunks/sections, and more of a stepping into that dark and deep unknown... I'll take that any day. Plus, the dark, evil funk is something that I will *never* tire of.
I'll also be the dissenting voice and say that for me 2001 is the low point of this set in terms of interest - not a fan of this version - it never really matured - but amends were quickly made by transitioning to the Sand which picked the funk groove back up... Awesome.

Digging the Paul and Silas opener too, as well at the TCOB cover - great stuff! Yes, Phish can still bust out some super fun sets! Glad to be catching a couple shows this tour!
, comment by FACTSAREUSELESS
FACTSAREUSELESS @AlbanyYEM, I want to quote so many different parts of your last post. Suffice to say some excellent surmisings on your part. I completely agree with everything you had to say there.

You make a great point about the need for Phish to nail their compositions in order for people to "enjoy" them, as opposed to the Dead.

I don't think it's an unfair comparison (Dead vs. Phish playing things straight) in the context of show structure, but you are certainly correct about the the way it felt.

Robert Hunter and John Barlow were lyricists without compare. Let's be honest. The Dead's lyrics were poems that were rooted in Americana as much as the pschedelic scene itself, and many of their songs can be interpreted at so many different levels. I still find myself quoting phrases from Dead songs in my daily life and interactions with others, which speaks to me of the timelessness you speak of. Quite right.

I, for one, prefer Phish to the Dead at this point in my life, and not because they are still vibrant and active. Phish is more jazz-based in their orientation, and I love jazz and jazz arrangements. I love how Phish has morphed jazz, rock and alternative rock together, complete (like the Dead) with quirkiness such as My Sweet One and vacuum solos. In fairness to Phish, then, it must be remembered that the Dead were folk and bluegrass based. Folk is enjoyable on it's own, with or without jamming. Phish has never written an album like American Beauty, and never will.

Phish is generally less serious than the Dead in their tone.

I find these four gentlemen to be superior musicians and Trey is perhaps the best guitar player I've ever heard. He takes me places that Jerry never did, except during about a four-year period between '70-'73.

Anyway, your observations regarding Phish's music are poignant and interesting. They have a lot of songs in their catalog that were written when they were college-aged kids and probably no longer relate with the spirit in which they were written. Just look at the Joy album and the mixed reception its songs have received (even for the ones that are popular in rotation such as Backwards) and the conundrum the band is faced with is significant. How do they not become a greatest hits tour like Furthur? I mean, how?.

I have not been overly impressed with the offerings of the band's new material. Trey's solo album is honestly much more interesting to me than the new stuff from Mike.

If they DON'T focus on style and jamming, their time as band on this earth may come to a swift close. I really believe that they are trying to make the music interesting to themselves again. Hopefully they are succeeding, because it's sure interesting to me.

Anyway, outstanding comments. I think, to make a musical analogy, you have brought this discussion to a satisfying "peak" for me. I like very much the direction of your thoughts on these topics and you have given me some great perspective to consider going forward.
, comment by Cantaloupe
Cantaloupe Marvelous review. Thanks for mentioning the Divided Sky lighters because that was very impactful for me as well, and I loved reading about your reaction. And a happy belated Phisiversary @TheEmu. What a wonderful community we have, and thanks for being such a big part of it.
, comment by AlbanyYEM
AlbanyYEM @FACTSAREUSELESS you pretty much summed it up for me on the comparison, and I do think that jazz sensibility in composition is surely there. These days they seem to take a slower approach, but one could say that the spirit of jazz lives in their jams. While not necessarily employing a jazz vocabulary, they seem to say similar things like two perspectives merging in their openness. If anything the lack of style these days is more free than actual jazz!

Yea I'm pretty much tapped out for anything to add and thanks for your words man. This was a great discussion. I need to go back to the stream for more material before I'll have much more to say. So here's to the next show!
, comment by nichobert
nichobert Am I alone in thinking the improv seemed significantly less dense than it has over these past few magical years?

It felt a lot less compelling than it has, I'm not sure why. And I don't mean it as an insult because they generally got to some really good places before resting on their laurels.

I wonder if it's because Mike was sick? Didn't seem to be constantly pushing jams into new dimensions the way he has been since Bethel.
, comment by nichobert
nichobert Agree the Divided was spectacular. As was basically all the type 1 jamming from the weekend besides Julius which was weirdly subdued.

I will come up with a more extended version of my thoughts on these shows eventually.. But to me, the free form jams felt a lot more like 99-04 than 11-13, and to me anyway, that's a negative. They've been so ambitious and restless in their improv for awhile now, and hearing them go back to the "just keep playing this and hope inspiration strikes somebody" approach wasn't something I expected to see return.

There is always room for multiple approaches to improvisation. But i'd say that despite Hampton's scintillating peaks, disgusting funk, and multifaceted space- this was a regression to an era when Phish's improv didn't tend to have the same level of communication it has recently re-acquired.

Here's to this being a one off thing instead of a de-evolution
, comment by nichobert
nichobert Better than the Tahoe Tweezer!!? This just seems to plod along for soooo long. Multiple potential directions are hinted at before being swallowed back into the mid tempo slog. It's a great sounding jam during that 8 minute stretch where essentially nothing happens, but I guess 3.0 has just raised my expectations back to early 90s levels. At least as far as what kind of mastery Phish has over using a sustained note here and a lagging snare there to send the band spiraling in a totally different direction as if in cue.

And how does a 2001 mature? If anything, it's one of the most outside-the-box versions I've ever heard. Usually when they take it out a little it's so repetitive that it reminds me of the set killing Sands and Jibboos of days past before 3.0 gave Sand a reason for living.

It's funny, I knew that I'd walk away from Hampton thinking about it in different terms. While wholly enjoyable, it felt hollow. Cactus just wasn't taking command the way he usually does, and in the lack of that, the jamming- while broad- didn't reach deep. To my ears anyway. I'm sure there are plenty of people who think that returning to 2000 is a godsend.
, comment by bigperm
bigperm Props to @nichobert for his always great input. A few hours ago I would have told you Sunday was THE SHOW from the weekend, but finally a chance to review and re-listen to Saturday and I might have been mistaken, it's pretty damn good.

Saturday's only fault is a potential lack of signature, it's so smooth that you kind of look around for the big peak, the hook, and it's not really there. Trio that with a poor fourth quarter and Sunday's insta-hype on Tweezer (I like it better than Nich, it DOES have moments) and the kinda "had to be there" TCB and there you go. I think Saturday is the quality we expect nowadays, and maybe sadly overlooked for it's plainly open greatness (kind of like Isla Fisher in Talledega Nights).

all in all, I can say that in 30 give-or-take 3.0 shows, this was easily the best three shows (consecutive or not and including Friday night's one hit wonder) for this fan. No matter your stance, God Bless Fall Tour..
, comment by Sivad
Sivad The author has removed all of the text from their comment
, comment by FACTSAREUSELESS
FACTSAREUSELESS @nichobert said: "Better than the Tahoe Tweezer!!? This just seems to plod along for soooo long."

I understand what you mean.....I didn't challenge the statemetns made about it, but this Tweezer is not in the same league as the Tahoe Tweezer, I agree. This Tweezer, while I wouldn't say it plodded as you did, had more in common with 2/20/03 than any I've heard. Just a scary, evil dark journey down Willy Wonka's tunnel. The Tahoe Tweezer was downright giddy and orgasmic in intensity. Just totally different. The Hampton Tweez seemed to holla back to them days, though, you have to admit.
, comment by ScoopyGreenberg
ScoopyGreenberg I don't comment alot on here. I usually just read and enjoy some of the more seasoned and articulate contributors takes on a show or a topic. But I am interested in their (or anyones) take on some comments I read LivePhish for this show. I'll start by saying I am not a noob IMO nor a vet by any means. Been listening to Phish for 11 years and almost to 30 shows. I am not a musician and do not have the musical prowess to have an intelligent conversation like Albany and Facts had above. And I cant say I've listened to a TON of Phish from the 90's. Listened to the essentials and a few randoms during the break-up which got me really into Phish and yearning to see them live. So take my naivety on an in-depth convo about Phish into consideration.

But there were a few guys on that board that were using the word EPIC to troll or rile up the crowd and I think it worked. They described this show as EPIC. I hate that word and think its lame and reserved for 15 year olds. I was at this show though and I thought it was spectacular. Some of the most fun I've had at a concert, let alone Phish. I thought it held up with any 3.0 show out there for the most part and I've listened to most of 3.0 shows at least once.

But when the idea that this show would ever even compare to any show in the 90's that is revered was brought up on that thread (whether it was in jest or an honest opinion), there were one or two guys that scoffed at the notion and basically started questioning whomever felt that way's intelligence or devotion to Phish. Now, Im not here to compare this show to any other shows, esp the 90's b/c I am an intermediate of that time in Phish but I listen to a new show almost every week from that time so I'm learning. But the fact that these guys made it a point to express that they were THERE in the 90's at these famous shows and that this (or any 3.0 show) doesn't "hold a candle" or "belong in the same breath" as sed 90's legendary shows just seems snobbish, pretentious, high and mighty and any other synonym you can find for these jaded clowns.

I get it....you were "there" bro. But do you want us Noobs to kneel down and kiss your feet or something? The idea that the anything nowadays pales in comparison to that era (true or untrue) and we should be castrated for even thinking that way seems disrespectful to the band and counterproductive to what Albany and Facts are trying to accomplish above. I would love some other input on the subject from noobs and vets. Its something thats been on my mind for years now.

Cheers!
, comment by FACTSAREUSELESS
FACTSAREUSELESS @ScoopyGreenberg said: "I get it....you were "there" bro. But do you want us Noobs to kneel down and kiss your feet or something? The idea that the anything nowadays pales in comparison to that era (true or untrue) and we should be castrated for even thinking that way seems disrespectful to the band and counterproductive to what Albany and Facts are trying to accomplish above. I would love some other input on the subject from noobs and vets. Its something thats been on my mind for years now."

Great comment. I agree with you and thank you for saying it.
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