Saturday 11/02/2013 by pzerbo

AC2: LIVING THE DREAM

Wow. Are we having fun, yet, Phish fans? Holy moly! On Thursday, Phish set down one of the ballsiest, boldest, most innovative creative offerings of their storied thirty year career. The pressure is off and we are rounding the home stretch on what is arguably the best tour of the post-breakup era. Check that: in my opinion, we are easily, definitively, by a large measure witnessing the most consistently excellent, innovative, paradigm-breaking tour since the 1990s… we’re in the thick of artistic explosion that belongs in the discussion with August ‘93, December ‘95, summer and fall ‘97, or any other tour or era that you want to include in the conversation.

Given the magnitude and power of what is happening in the moment – and because I’ve been living a little large and am time pressured, again, sigh – I’m going to let these last few weeks settle and offer some hopefully coherent and reflective thoughts soon. So I’ve Tom Sawyer’d this recap with the help of my friends. Twenty plus years into this journey, and I’m as thrilled and jacked up about this band as I’ve ever been… the vibe reminds me of the afterglow of Big Cypress. This is it. Let go, enjoy it… take a look around you, give a good look to the people around you. There is a lot of love in the air, embrace it, give yourself to the moment. Music is the BEST!

Martin Acaster: We sat in my truck and listened to the show on the street corner outside the WOW Hall in Eugene while waiting for our daughter to emerge from the squealariffic and sweaty Hoodie Allen show feasting on cold pizza and chugging amp energy drinks. On the ride down from Portland "Under Pressure" came on the radio and I thought to myself… this would be a really cool song for Phish to play someday. You can imagine the holy shit chills I experienced during “Twist.” The band knows what I am thinking even when I am 3000 miles away. I chuckled at the “Halley's” > “Tube” juxtaposition… since they are now essentially the same song. Heard “Wombat” teases all over the place. That groove is so infectious. The Bush Kush freakout reminded me a lot of something Ed Zeppelin used to do on a couple of Dread Zeppelin tracks. Another winner… the Phish from Vermont is truly en Fuego.

Lily Morton: I am having too much fun at these shows and it is making me feel concerned that someone out in the world is not having as much happiness as I am now absorbing from the auditory bliss zone assembled here in Atlantic City. Last nights show was most stellar. I kept very organized notes and a setlist in the first set and enjoyed the first set thoroughly. My highlight of the first set was the great bluesy, funky “Jesus Just Left Chicago” with wonderful keyboard moments and awesome guitar groove. Love it! Happily, and I love it when this happens… I was unable to maintain a setlist in the second set because the music captured my attention so completely, I had no patience to keep track of my notebook and pen. My impression is… yes, yes! This is a good thing, overall and all together.

The second set rocked the business right into the necessary bliss zone balancing experimental traveling with audience familiar favorites. It seemed to me that the band was absolutely synched with the audience vibe as they took special moments to go way out out into the exploration jam space, with return to the familiar at the exact moments the audience was becoming puzzled. Love it. Loved the push push wordplay crazy talk. So much fun. My personal highlight was the light. Wow oh man oh man. Sweet. The jam in Light took me somewhere... feeling like a marionette puppet happily happily played and dancing while attached with guitar and bass strings. I very much enjoyed the feel of it. good times. Let’s all do this again soon. …and thank you Philip for letting me say a little word.

Phil Harrison: As much as it seems second nature to hit "skip" when we see "Possum" on the setlist, don't sleep on this particular version. With lots of good and varied "Type I" jamming before a rousing peak, this "Possum" bears similarity to many of the better pre-'93 versions, and is likely the most interesting "Type I" version played in 3.0.

“Twist” is yet another notable and impressive jam from the stellar Fall '13 Tour. The upbeat "HOSE"-like jamming that emerges places this "Twist" in good company with Reading's "Down with Disease" and Halloween's "Carini." But this "Twist" also includes the fun and very Phishy jam on "Under Pressure," which thankfully diminishes and returns to more feel-good melodic jamming.

Parker Harrington: Some jams, some moments, some songs perfectly capture the essence of a tour, a year, or a place in the band's history. While not necessarily the "best," they just become synonymous with a particular era and can instantly take you back to that time upon subsequent listens long in the future. I have scores of songs and jam segments that do just that: transport me back to 1989, Spring 1990, Horn Tour, Winter 1995, Summer 1997, etc. etc. Perhaps there will be no jam that becomes my "go-to" when I want to relive the glory of Fall 2013 tour than the “Twist” jam. It has so many of the components that I love about Phish: great jamming, humor, contributions from every member and pure Phishy fun. Yet it was so much more. It captured beautifully what Phish has been doing to make this such a memorable tour: seamless communication and band interplay, loose, free-flowing playing WITH precision AND purpose, seemingly perfect jam lengths (not rip corded and not meandering), not to mention fantastic Set II openers. I've listened to this “Twist” probably five times since last night and can't get enough. While likely not the single best “Twist” ever, it certainly was engaging and "in the moment" and perfectly helped punctuate the penultimate show of the fantastic, but far too short, tour.

Dan Purcell: The pressure was off and it showed from the start. I'm not inside the band's heads, but I get the sense that the Halloween tradition had become a burden to them. At the same time, they were genuinely nervous about how the fans would react to hearing new Phish music and not a cover album. Trey's repeated, profuse thank-yous to the crowd bordered on an apology. But really they had no need to fear, because we love them. And last night was the performance of a band that was secure in their position. Bookended by left-field "Shaft" quotes harkening back to the legendary 12/9/95 Albany "YEM," Friday night had all the energy that Thursday sometimes lacked. The long, playful "Twist" cycled from one blissful major key to the next and dropped into "Under Pressure" for a silly Fishman scat workout. It was arguably the jam of the tour, and this is really saying something these days. "Jibboo" featured high-energy chording from Trey that conjured (though of course didn't match) the legendary 2001 TAB performance at the nearby Tower Theater. And then the "Makisupa," well ... If you're at all like me, this sort of silliness-for-its-own sake is a big part of what keeps you coming back to see this band again and again. The gratitude of the crowd was palpable throughout the generous and terrific "Sally" encore. This has been a fantastic, standard-setting tour and it'll be sad to see it end. But I can't wait for the payoff tonight.

Steve Paolini: The obvious place to start with last night's show is the "Twist," as deservedly so. It's one of the top 5 versions of the song as well as being a likely top 5 jam of 2013. The stretch of songs from "Twist" through "Light" is as good as you could ask for. Here's the thing though -- it really didn't come as a surprise. Even though they still (regrettably) haven't turned on the type-II improv spigot in the first set, it was obvious from the outset that tonight was going to be a good night, for Trey, in particular. The "Possum" stands out for me. The predictability of "Possum" has become something of a joke among fans and even the band (e.g. "Ha Ha Ha" > "Possum" on 7/20/13) these days. But this version features a far more patient, cerebral solo from Trey than is usually the case. Throw in things like the "Shaft" quotes in "Runaway Jim," the shredding of the third song "Sand" and the cleanest take on "Sugar Shack" maybe ever, and it was clear that Trey brought his 'A' game last night. A fantastic second set was a foregone conclusion, it was just a matter of what they would play.

Chris Bertolet: I couldn't have been the only person who wondered for a split second whether we were about to get a full-blown "Bertha" during the blissed section of "Twist," right? Such a free, fun, and essential version, and a manifestion of the focus and command the band is coming with every single night right now. A truly electric tour, and I feel lucky to have recap duty tonight. I'll probably ramble on.

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Comments

, comment by tweezedout
tweezedout These reviews are awesome and exactly how i perceive phish right now.... I feel like its all the eras mixed into one, 2012 thru now, and the creativity is through the roof... from the funky dance grooves to rock driven precision to the soft delicate passages they seem to find and the ever so prevalent hose... I love this band and although I've never seen a live show in 1.0 or 2.0 I am so grateful to be listening to them at this very moment... great reviews guys :) happy happy... there's love in the air and everywhere
, comment by InsectEffect
InsectEffect
Love it, thanks for letting so many voices speak to the resounding positivity being felt right now! This is such a welcome change after reading quite a bit here dissing Dick's at summer's end. Don Gordleone sez yes! Can't wait to hear this show.

, comment by nichobert
nichobert Man I love this tour..

But Summer 2012, despite some stinkers is the King of the past 14 years
, comment by YoureAHosemaster
YoureAHosemaster @nichobert said:
Man I love this tour..

But Summer 2012, despite some stinkers is the King of the past 14 years
I wholeheartedly agree. This has been an exceptional tour but summer '12 was straight fire. I was lucky enough to make it to Deer Creek, Alpine, and Atlanta. Great memories and truly wonderful music.
, comment by lumpblockclod
lumpblockclod @nichobert said:
Man I love this tour..

But Summer 2012, despite some stinkers is the King of the past 14 years
When people said Summer 13 was kicking Summer 12's ass, I disagreed (Tahoe Tweezer excepted). I thought at best they were even but gave the edge to 2012. But this Fall is, IMO, the greatest sustained excellence of 3.0 and it's not really close. If you compare just second sets, it's the first tour of 3.0 I feel comfortable comparing to my favorite years (93-95, 97 & 03).
, comment by Knox_Harrington
Knox_Harrington Great recap(s) and thanks for the heads up on Possum. I just took a listen and it sure was Possum done right! I now feel redeemed from the fairly uninspired Rochester version I experienced in person (but love the tune and welcome it at every show I catch).

I have not been this excited about this band in a long damn time. NYE should be equally as special as the Fall tour after the experience of recording a bunch of great new material (which I'm a little obsessed with at the moment) with a legendary producer in the comfort of their own backyard surrounded by family. If you think these guys are in a great place now, just wait...I CAN'T!
, comment by TSword
TSword "Check that: in my opinion, we are easily, definitively, by a large measure witnessing the most consistently excellent, innovative, paradigm-breaking tour since the 1990s… we’re in the thick of artistic explosion that belongs in the discussion with August ‘93, December ‘95, summer and fall ‘97, or any other tour or era that you want to include in the conversation.".........Yup.

While I'm generally not into best ever, better than, > , < etc. type comparative discussions, I'll step out on this one....:

This doesn't just have to be the best of 3.0 either. We all love '95, '97 etc but it's okay to say this is the best tour ever. '97 won't be offended :)

"This is it. Let go, enjoy it… take a look around you, give a good look to the people around you. There is a lot of love in the air, embrace it, give yourself to the moment."
, comment by nichobert
nichobert I have no problem with anyone liking this better.

It seems like the improv now has more in common with the 97-04 improv, and the improv in 2012 had a lot of knotty old school Phish to it.

Pound for pound, note for note, I think I liked the 2012 improv better than anything since 1995. 97 and 98 especially had a ton of good jams, but most of them seemed to be about dancing around 1 or 2 ideas (Usually one of those ideas being "start your breakdancing routine on the 1!" ;)

Maybe I'm overrating the complexity of 2012 or only thinking of a few choice highlights.. but maybe it's just a question of what we prefer. A lot of people have told me they thought the jams are a lot less rushed now, but to me they just seem to be less creative.

I guess I'm talking about Fall more than Summer and think of Summer 2013 as an extension of Summer 2012. There seemed to be a concerted effort to loosen up the jams . It sounds like a great idea in theory.. but I'm not getting the same giddy feeling that Mike could switch his phrasing the tiniest bit and everyone else would suddenly begin reacting, breaking apart and then cartwheeling back together like the constituent molecules in the Enterprises transporter.

It's a pretty small difference overall, but they seem to be ramping it back up and introducing some stuff that isn't quite so linear.

I remember saying Fall Tour would have to be incredible for 2013 to even get in the discussion with 2012 in my mind. I wasn't even willing to put it over 2011 (which has so much more good shit than we remember- 2010 too!) before Fall. Now I am. So that's something!
, comment by OrangeSox
OrangeSox I hoped that blurb in this review, which is another really strong one in a string of good ones, i'd like to add, would encourage this discussion regarding the Fall Tour. I'm not ready for all out declaration, but like @lumpblockclod i too recognize a certain stellar quality about the 2nd sets of this tour. Boundary challenging is a phrase i am somewhat comfortable with off the top of my head.

Furthermore, the 1st sets of this tour have been exciting, in a way that i won't say is old school but it is how sets from the mid 90s felt to me, in the sense of solid execution, playful selection, and well-defined exploration. I loved Summer 2012 @nichobert, i feel you 100%, but i am not ready to fully discount Fall in that gambit, even while grasping the notion you are espousing, regarding a certain accurate playfulness of last year and this year's return to a tighter funk throwdown in certain corners of the setlist.

But one thing to point out fortrightly: Fall has brought the darkness back fully in a few jams, i mean that lightly, in a good way. But, thanks to melodic focus, this Fall has seen an abundance of definite jams the likes of which are unique in the canon, any way you slice it. It is a unique moment. 2012 was so dope, but this tour has emboldened something, dare i say, new in the arsenal, and it has nothing to do with Wingsuit, a certain Quality of the experience that is so living aliveness. It's likely just the heat of the moment, but this Fall lit up a fire between my ears.

I can admit to one thing with certainty right now, i will be listening to a lot of this music A LOT in the coming weeks, and i am excited for it. What a great tour, and it's wonderful as a listener and obsessive follower to have this opportunity for gleefulness, regardless of what's better or best. It's all so good, and we're in the middle of it, as spectators perhaps but in a way too as participants it feels like.

Phish-The Right Way, the 2013 slogan, holds so true. The costume was well placed, even if the songs felt somewhat underwhelming (It's a Phish album for crying out loud). It's been a full power year. Thanks phish.net for enabling!
, comment by n00b100
n00b100 It's so hard to compare this tour to the others b/c it's about half as long as even a 3.0 tour...but there's one show you can call below average (Rochester), a host of shows you can call above average, and a few all-timers thrown in. Summer 2012 is very, very top-heavy, IMO. 8/31/12 is better than Fall 2013's best show (either 10/20, 10/27, or 11/1), and 8/19, 9/1-2, 8/28, 6/7, 6/23, 7/8, and 8/15 are damned good shows, but you also have KC (a pretty close analogue to Rochester, actually), OKC, Charlotte, and some other okay to below average shows in Summer '12 to deal with (there's a reason nobody mentions 8/17-18, IMO), whereas you don't really have that problem here. The "peaks vs. consistency" argument, much like with the baseball Hall of Fame, is one where you can make valid arguments for either side. In this case, though, I think I'm going with consistency. I'm not ever going to listen to OKC again; I'll listen to Glens Falls (or, at the very least, the Twist) again.

I'm not going to call anybody wrong that prefers 2012 to 2013 (certainly not @nichobert, whose opinions I always value), but to me it's Fall '13 and then it's everything else in 3.0.
, comment by FACTSAREUSELESS
FACTSAREUSELESS @n00b100 said:
It's so hard to compare this tour to the others b/c it's about half as long as even a 3.0 tour...but there's one show you can call below average (Rochester), a host of shows you can call above average, and a few all-timers thrown in. Summer 2012 is very, very top-heavy, IMO. 8/31/12 is better than Fall 2013's best show (either 10/20, 10/27, or 11/1), and 8/19, 9/1-2, 8/28, 6/7, 6/23, 7/8, and 8/15 are damned good shows, but you also have KC (a pretty close analogue to Rochester, actually), OKC, Charlotte, and some other okay to below average shows in Summer '12 to deal with (there's a reason nobody mentions 8/17-18, IMO), whereas you don't really have that problem here. The "peaks vs. consistency" argument, much like with the baseball Hall of Fame, is one where you can make valid arguments for either side. In this case, though, I think I'm going with consistency. I'm not ever going to listen to OKC again; I'll listen to Glens Falls (or, at the very least, the Twist) again.

I'm not going to call anybody wrong that prefers 2012 to 2013 (certainly not @nichobert, whose opinions I always value), but to me it's Fall '13 and then it's everything else in 3.0.
Couldn't agree more with your assessment. I also agree with @nichobert that large portions of '10,'11 and '12 are too easily forgotten and dismissed, and I have some personally treasured stretches from all of them, such as late fall '10 which was tight as a drum, but you couldn't be more right about the top-heavy nature of summer '12. That year there were teases of greatness throughout the summer with a few really top shows, and then it all came together in the last week.

This year had a really slow, sloppy start but once it built up (and it stopped raining!) they hit a marvelous groove which seemed to carry them for quite a number of top shows.

I like and agree with @nichobert regarding the feel of the 2012 sound, but I believe they've melded that with some new groundbreaking approaches now and I think it's organic. The band is just clicking right now in a way that is legendary. The fans, the band, the whole scene is just RIGHT at this moment, and the freedom of expression we are seeing and hearing in the music reflects the vibe.

It truly is a community and the positive energy needs to come from us as much as them for it to happen the way we hope.

This Fall tour has been a complete jailbreak by the boys. They're ripping the shit out of the place and taking names.

I believe in my heart that all they needed was a committment to each other for the long haul and some new material to energize their creative juices. This might be the first year since '09 that I am convinced they really have a long range plan in place. I felt before this tour that it could end at any moment and dissolve into side projects and occasional reunion runs.

I'm more than thrilled with what has transpired. As artists, they have made (obviously) an new committment and we are the blessed ones who get to experience the fruit of that. It's a Golden Age!
, comment by MDosque
MDosque This Fall 2013 tour is the most consistently great the band has played since the breakup. I bitch and moan sometimes about predicable standard first sets that rarely deviate, but all those songs were nearly always nailed each and every night. It's clear they take that side of professionalism seriously. But the second sets, whoa - guaranteed serious improvisational jamming night in and night out. The one show I saw live was Hampton night II which contained a powerhouse Ghost-DWD-Steam and closed with a glorious Hood is probably on the lower end of rankings this fall. That is saying something. I'm loving it.

Dosque
, comment by lititzphan
lititzphan The shows I saw from fall tour 13 definitely have me so pumped for the future. I was ready to try and trade (1) of my tix, for another since lottery gave me HamptonN3, Reading, and ACN2, but I must be blessed cause those (3) shows all killed it and gotta all be in top 5 discussion,,not to say that my MPP2 isn't on this list also.
Really excited to see what comes next.
, comment by loonieguy
loonieguy Stop labeling the band with 3.0 or 4.0

This is Phish!!

Awesome Phall tour. Thank you Phish.
, comment by FACTSAREUSELESS
FACTSAREUSELESS @loonieguy said:
Stop labeling the band with 3.0 or 4.0

This is Phish!!

Awesome Phall tour. Thank you Phish.
3.5? LOL
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