Thursday 10/24/2013 by bertoletdown

GLENS FALLS, AND FISH'S (UNSEEN) BALLS

I’m not going to lie: I fucked up.

The “why” isn’t important. I just did. I flat-out forgot I had volunteered for recap duty tonight, and I have been so dually preoccupied with work and a gnarly case of the crud to even realize there was a webcast. Yes, I made it home and dialed in the feed in time to catch the very beginning of “Limb By Limb," but if I tried to pretend I knew what happened before then (apart from what songs were played), I just couldn’t live with myself.

So I asked some other staffers about the first half of the first set, and here’s what they told me:

One replied, “I’m not streaming.”

Another offered, “I had technical difficulties for half the set. Then I got really high off a candy. Now I’m hiding under a Slanket.”

That was pretty much it. But now here I am as “LxL” ends in an unusual a capella outro, with Trey claiming a higher-than-usual part. It’s a shimmering moment that dovetails nicely into “I Didn’t Know," which draws a roar of anticipation from the crowd. Henrietta takes center stage for his vacuum solo as Trey recalls that it was 19 years ago in this very hall that he ran about in his birthday suit, junk akimbo. Trey goads Fish to reprise his moment of testicular freedom, but sadly (or mercifully, depending on your point of view) it is not to be.

A discordant, Whammified, and just-plain-abrasive “Split Open and Melt” sends the band to their halftime repose, and sends me scurrying for some speedy sustenance so I can get the rest of the night right for you good people. You deserve no less.

Rock and Roll” charges right out of the gates to open set two, and produces five minutes of shred-centric improv before pulling back to consider other possibilities. The centerpiece jams from this tour so far have probed some eerie and even woeful spaces; this one seems poised to move in that direction as well, but is cut short in favor of “Seven Below” (which either intentionally or coincidentally acknowledges the cold snap gripping many of our nation’s northern states).

“Seven Below” comes across at first as if the whole band has a debilitating case of the hiccups, reminding me of the BGCA version I saw a few months ago: unrehearsed and flailing. Once past the challenging part, it lifts gradually and in a straightforward manner toward the same kind of belly-warming climax common to most “Bathtub Gin” jams these days, and then stands aside for “Alaska.” Though I feel personally like “Alaska” belongs in the first set, it’s a spirited reading, and arguably packs more raw oomph than anything in the set thus far.

Twist” makes a subdued entrance, but soon establishes itself as the beating heart of this set of music. Fishman takes a lead role in the development of several themes, with the trebles restraining themselves to layers and textures. “Piper” is suggested at length, then thought better of, as Mike vibrates the room with a droning root note struck on the power drill. Finally, but not before captivating the audience, this lovely and delicate “Twist” dissipates and yields to a stately and heartfelt “Wading in the Velvet Sea."

[I mean that about “Wading." It was lovely. Quote me!]

It’s been a very good year for “Harry Hood," good enough to re-establish the song’s bona fides as a climactic jaw-dropper. While this “Hood” doesn’t venture out nearly as far as the Hollywood Bowl or Hampton versions, the view from its summit is enormously satisfying. A compact but powerful “Chalk Dust Torture” concludes the second set.

An elegant “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” encore serves to bookend the show in White Album songs, and to punctuate a performance that rightfully stirs nostalgia in the ranks of longtime fans. Tis the season to be grateful for all things Phish.

See you in Woostah!

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Comments

, comment by happy_happy_allmyfriends
happy_happy_allmyfriends WORST REVIEW EVER!! LOL

"sarcasim"
, comment by gratefulterp
gratefulterp sarcasm. sorry happy.
, comment by Lee_Fordham
Lee_Fordham One time in the Summer of '98 I was stuck in traffic and missed half of the first set.
, comment by steelcon58
steelcon58 Damn it! And the one song I was wanting to hear about - Back in the USSR - wasn't even heard. Bummer. Maybe it was a political statement. Gosh, I hope Phish doesn't go political.
, comment by andrewrose
andrewrose Funny, I almost considered volunteering to recap before heading down to the show. Putting my review together now. It was a great time last night. Setlist doesn't really tell the story; Twist jam was pheee-nomenal, but there were amazing moments in Gumbo (Page!), LxL, Hood, and yes, the very very lovely Velvet Sea. Totally called that Back in the USSR opener too.
, comment by bearmcnair
bearmcnair steelcon, USSR was clearly not political (IMO), just a nod to 10/31/94
, comment by bertoletdown
bertoletdown Look forward to your review, Andrew.
, comment by bushwood_a_dump
bushwood_a_dump A gnarly case of the crud? Yikes, try cranberry juice.

That being said, I'll chime in to say I especially enjoyed the jam in Bowie. Nothing unchartered, but the lead up to the C-D-Em change was especially locked in.
, comment by moonfacebrb
moonfacebrb Loudest moment of the night was easily the opener. Short and sweet Bowie. Melt would have been better served hot as the 2nd set opener rather than warm. Definitely not comparable to this summer's SPAC & MWP versions. Rock n' Roll went somewhere but not THERE. Twist jam was solid. I prefer the psychedelic outro from Hampton but this one went up then down, up and down again (seems to be the pattern for the best jams these days). Love the Chalkdust call! Way cooler than Zero there!

Definitely saw that call pre-show @andrewrose! Would love to hear a review of yours for a show you were inside for!
, comment by andrewrose
andrewrose Review! Re-posting here:

Glens Falls has always had some special mystique for me, it being the hallowed hall of the first ever Halloween musical costume performance (and a special one at that). That mysterious appeal has only grown over the years as I passed the signs for the Civic Center again and again driving down I-87 from Montreal on the way to Saratoga Springs, or Albany, or somewhere further afield. On this night we only went as far as Glens Falls. And though I had never been, it still felt great to be back home.

I’m sure I wasn’t the only one speculating that Back in the USSR would make for a rather fitting and fantastic opener. Between the White Album history, the lyrical relevance (“Been away so long I hardly knew the place /Gee, it's good to be back home”), and a little Russian politics for good measure, they kind of had to, didn’t they? And I’m glad they did. The energy in the Civic Center was electric and old school from the start, and that opener just lit the place up.

This energy permeated most of the show, one that boasts a number of highlights worthy of your attention. If you’re looking for the cliff notes, please go straight to the Twist. It was a beauty. But otherwise, you’d be well served to dine on the whole show, and indeed most of the first set. Stealing Time feels perfect in the number two slot, carrying the throwback / ‘memories’ them. And Water in the Sky counters it perfectly. Listen to the looseness in Page’s play (was he MVP on this night?), and the drive and focus of Fish’s. The band is hanging in that sweet spot of being simultaneously tight and loose. Not every experiment worked on this night (I still need to listen back to the Split Open and Melt, which should have been something phenomenal but might have just taken a wrong turn), but there’s a lot that did connect, in some unexpected places. The Water in the Sky solo is a beaut. The Undermind is funky and makes it known that Page is feeling good and taking names. Trey then swells it up into familiar rock-Ocelot-out crowd-pleasing territory (similar things would happen in the Seven Below).

I really liked this Bowie, the first of the tour, and it was welcome in the middle of the first set. It was one of those initially patient beasts that opens up and threatens to split with the minor and soar into type II. They hit some very, very nice moments, somewhat akin to the grossly overlooked version from Toronto in the summer (hear it!). You got the sense that they could have easily just shot out in the ether at this point, but that Trey wanted to save it for later. In any case it was a tense and tight affair. Nice. Golgi keeps us in old-school territory (another Halloween 94 alumnus) before Gumbo delivers another first-set gem. Page just dominates so much that they band has no choice but to go into full-on break-it-down mode, and the whole tail end of the jam is him on the clav with light Fish accompaniment and one or two Trey funk wahs. This is a short but very savory Gumbo, folks; give it a taste.

Yarmouth Road is a slow build. The new Mike song doesn’t exactly up the energy, but once Trey is soloing towards the end, the reggae vibe in the room is suddenly sunny and hey, hey, hey, good vibes, everyone. Good. Vibes. And they were on this night. The band is obviously having a good time and enjoying themselves, and each other.

Camel Walk is another welcome treat, and a stand out version as far as Camel Walks go. That loose and tight thing again. Mike’s all over it. And since when is Horn a rarity? Played only once before in 2013 in Alpharetta, this first-set staple has always sounded great indoors on fall tour. And man it’s nice to be indoors on fall tour. More very soulful, clean playing from Trey.

The first set keeps on giving. A well above-average Limb by Limb features the band experimenting with the vocal outro and slides satisfyingly into I Didn’t Know. Good memories of this song for me personally going back to Worcester in fall 97. Trey doesn’t so much introduce Henrietta as he raises the question, “well for nineteen years you guys have been thinking the same question as I have. Is he gonna do it?! Is he gonna do it again?! Nineteen years older!” “I can if you want,” Fish replies. “I don’t think you want that.” “No.” “No.” No, thankfully we were spared that bust-out.

The Melt to close the set is a mixed bag in my book. Gets dark and messy and Trey never really finds his footing. No matter though. The set was already a keeper.

Set two might not come through on paper (or ultimately upon listening) the way third night Hampton does, but not many shows do these days. That said, the trend of inspired, soulful playing in unexpected places did continue. Case-in -point is this absolutely gorgeous Velvet Sea. Anyone who’s a sucker for some of those beauty 93 solos in Fast Enough For You, where the band can’t help but sprinkle perfect flourishes around Trey’s make-you-gently-weep notes will love this one. Yeah, you should listen to this Velvet Sea. And what’s more they earned the ballad coming off what’s surely one of the better jams I’ve been witness too these last five years since the band’s return, and maybe among some of the better ones in the fourteen prior to that. Composed-sounding-pure-joy style stuff.

The Rock & Roll> Seven Below doesn’t quite deliver on the type II level you’d hope for such a pairing to start the second set, but it’s not a mess either. Some nice space to end the Rock & Roll, and the Seven Below knows when to wrap up its in the box rock out. This Hood is likely to be overlooked due to the Twist, and some other excellent versions played of late, but it shouldn’t be. It’s a great version that almost combines approaches from different eras, with the initial part of the jam flirting with Worcester 2010 vibes, and the finale very much a ‘94 peak after peak throwback (not quite a 10/23/94, mind you!).

While My Guitar Gently Weeps, like the opener, was really the only choice for the encore. It was one of those nights that the sense of the band’s history, community, energy, the whole deal, are front and center. Trey delivered ones of his classic ‘depths of our heart,’ ‘hey, there are a lot of people in this room who have been along for the whole 30 years, or going back to Halloween,’ speeches, and of course we’re all like, ‘love you too, man.’ Great show.
, comment by rudy79
rudy79 Just some weirdnesses I haven't seen discussed. First, Undermind was really funky, and Fishman's drumming was great in that tune...a constantly percolating rhythm that defies a simple 1-3 or 2-4 beat. It seemed Trey thought so, and set up for a drum solo at the end. Fishman either missed the cue or refused the moment, and the song fell apart. In Seven Below, Page usually plays a really cool electronic keyboard lead a couple of minutes into the song. Last night, he played that on the piano. I think the techs were working in his area a few moments earlier, so maybe he had to go to Plan B because of technical problems.

Otherwise, this was a fun show to attend, with some definite highlights. The White Album tunes were both solid and appreciated rarities. Twist was the star of the show, with a exploratory and fiery Type II jam. The Chalk Dust Torture set two closer seemed a little faster than usual, which just added to its intensity. Two Phish originals, Undermind and Alaska, have a strong Little Feat influence, and were well played last night (except as noted above.)

If you weren't at this show, it isn't a necessary download, but you'll enjoy it if you get it.
, comment by tweezer
tweezer Yo Bertolet. How did you get the wook flu from the west coast?

Signed,

Confused in DC
, comment by quincydog420
quincydog420 I was there in 1994, & I was there last night, you had to be there to understand the vibe in that place, incredibly awesome. I saw many people i hadn't seen in a long time, great reunion for many phans & the band, i agree on paper it doesn't look like a crazy show, but believe me that place was shaking, ear piercing loud when the busted into Back into the USSR, from then on it was pure joy for everybody there.
, comment by Wondrous_Glow
Wondrous_Glow @steelcon58 said:
Damn it! And the one song I was wanting to hear about - Back in the USSR - wasn't even heard. Bummer. Maybe it was a political statement. Gosh, I hope Phish doesn't go political.

The Phish don't do politics mang.
, comment by bertoletdown
bertoletdown @tweezer said:
Yo Bertolet. How did you get the wook flu from the west coast?

Signed,

Confused in DC
No wook flu mangs -- just legit straight up kid-transmitted crud!
, comment by FACTSAREUSELESS
FACTSAREUSELESS @bertoletdown and @andrewrose....thanks to both of you. Haven't heard the show yet but you've whet my appetite sufficiently. Looks like I'll be getting this one.

Wooooostaaaaaa!!!!!!
, comment by Bob_Loblaw
Bob_Loblaw Best review ever. Kudos. Honesty is the best Policy.
, comment by Kyaphish
Kyaphish Halloween 2013 bob Dylan just sayin
, comment by FACTSAREUSELESS
FACTSAREUSELESS @Kyaphish said:
Halloween 2013 bob Dylan just sayin
How about Workingman's Dead?
, comment by bertoletdown
bertoletdown @andrewrose, your review above is great. Spot on.
, comment by shannon426
shannon426 Wow, that was a great review. I hope you keep writing and sharing your experiences with the music. That was tuned in and spot on. And thanks for giving it your all. :)
, comment by phunguy2001
phunguy2001 Part of me thinks you took the easy way out by "missing" the 1st set, but than I also think this review is like a 3.0 jam, not too long, but still high quality.
, comment by iflyer
iflyer Nothing against this review, but I really don't think the reviews should be written by those who did not attend. Just sayin'
, comment by bertoletdown
bertoletdown @iflyer said:
Nothing against this review, but I really don't think the reviews should be written by those who did not attend. Just sayin'
Whyzat?
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