Wednesday 07/02/2014 by pzerbo

GREAT WOODS 2014 SUMMER KICK-OFF!

Greetings, Phish fans! Summer tour 2014 kicked off last night at Great Woods – a venue that has been housing Phish performances for over twenty years and through which a CliffNotes history of the band is told – with a performance that featured a mix of classic and familiar songs as well a measured dose of material from their new album, Fuego.

Fuego has been received favorably by the vast majority of fans as well as the mainstream press. The band seems enthused and determined to focus on that material and allow it to breathe and grow in their live performances. So, let’s splurge! Bring us some fresh wine! The freshest you’ve got – this year! No more of this old stuff!

If there is one song from the album that is already universally loved it is clearly the title track. “Fuego” (the song) seems destined to “go big” and upon the opening notes there was a palpable excitement in the air. Three live performances is far too early to project the role it may play in the repertoire, but it hasn’t yet stretched out beyond its very dense structure – any latent potential of the song remains just that, a potential, a subjunctive, a question. Is “Fuego” destined for an expansive improvisational launchpad role akin to “Light,” or is it more “Walls of the Cave” – a beloved composition that adheres closely to a fixed structure?

The move of “Wingsuit” from the opener on 10/31/13 to the closing slot on the album suggested a natural slot for the walk-off set closer, where it succeeded spectacularly at Great Woods. The song offers expansive and inviting lyrical themes and is pregnant with the emotional weight of a true rock anthem. Will it go Big, or will it be “Bug?” The upside potential is limitless – the song’s, the band’s, yours and mine. Time will tell.

A more curious and interesting case is provided by “Waiting All Night.” A lovely studio track that benefited greatly from the guidance of Fuego’s producer, Bob Ezrin, “Waiting All Night” may stand alone in a first set jukebox, launch into something more powerful, or settle nerves after an improvisational roller-coaster. Tuesday’s performance was fine in isolation but (IMHO) suffered slightly from its placement following an unusually by-the-book opening half of the second set. The “Mike’s” > “Simple” > “Free” segment was, generously and politely, a workman-like sequence that dispensed with the notion that a Phish gig’s second stanza requires improvisation, or anything new. It is really a lovely piece that will perhaps require tryouts in a number of utility roles to find its proper footing.

Turning to the improvisational meat of the show, there are three: “Stash,” the brilliant segue from “Ghost” to “Weekapaug,” and “Harry Hood.” “Stash” was fantastic and measures well against other 3.0 standouts (7/30/09 Red Rocks, 7/14/13 MPP, 10/31/10 and 10/31/13 Atlantic City), and was further enhanced by the flexing of new muscles from Chris Kuroda in new-to-2014 fractal-based mind-spinning awesomeness. “Ghost” was asleep at the switch until Fish drove the band back into “Weekapaug” – a.k.a. “Mike’s Song Second Jam” – a reprise of sorts to the same “Ghost-a-Paug” from 12/30/13 at MSG.

Then the “Hood”... wow. You basically have the whole story of this show, or any show, in this 18+ minute “Hood” – confident and competent composed section, a daring leap into the unknown, a jumbled wad of confusion and uncertainty, then deep-space-nine that sucker, get weird, and pour your heart and soul out to complete the package. The performance immediately summons a comparison to 8/5/13 Hollywood, both as a top-tier 3.0 version and because it bucked script and placed the big improvisational moment of the money set late instead of early. Works for me.

---

As is becoming a bit of a habit, for our “point-counterpoint” segment I’m joined by my dear friend, Lily Morton, who will take it home with her view… and then we invite yours. Happy summer, be safe, play hard, fly high! -PZ.

---

last night's concert is the starting point of a glorious summer. my impression overall was one of superb unity going forward. this thought is also reflective of the unity of the new songs of fuego with the old phish standards we all know and love. the show was strongly bass-driven and all songs held tightly in the framework of the rhythm section. cheers to Fishman - the timing clock-master.

the set one standouts in my experience - 555, a winner of a song among the new record releases and stash, an old friend. within stash i noted an inspired tension and brotherly wrestling between the bass and guitar. most fun.

bouncing around the room and cheers to chris kuroda for lighting cool enough to drop the temperature a few degrees. the lighting of both sets was dominated in cool colors, blues, purples, greens as this palate helped offset the steamy steamy heat of july's beginning in the northeast. love the light.

birds of a feather into wingsuit slowed down the momentum as the first set came to a conclusion, a necessary reprieve to the intensity of warmth. wingsuit is a dear lovely song, a most beautiful concept. it has a future for potential improvisation particularly where the guitar is likely to stretch and take flight. wingsuit is a calm collected composition that seems to be evolving moments of intensity and exploration. the song isn't necessarily calm throughout, making things yet more interesting. moments beginning in calm flight take alternate changes and turns. wingsuit will evolve with extended jam stretches, sound flight navigated of the guitar… just a prediction.

set two was all about mike. with mike's song opening straight up with no surprises into simple when things got very surprising as simple was hot hot hot, smoking hot as there was a noted 'something' in last nights simple. perhaps it was a noted tension again between the base and guitar. very nice.

waiting all night, a most pleasant calm moment (a beautiful calm) to recollect into a ghost that felt singular and in perfect company to the great ghosts of the past. this ghost felt unique and singular and in my experience was the peak of last night's concert experience. epic ghost.

into mike's into hood. there were moments that carried my ears off into something in the hood... somewhere late in the composition. i can't recall exactly what it was. i simply noted that it happened.

julius was an awesome encore. a one song encore as this seemed quite long, so upbeat and i was most happily elevated in my spirit after last night's opening concert this summer tour. it is going to be a hot hot summer. things are going to remain very interesting... we have superb unity here.

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Comments

, comment by RoundTheRoom
RoundTheRoom nice review, @pzerbo

stash turned the show on its head. not saying it was 100% fire from that point on, but everything before stash lacked the extra oomph and most of what came after was solidly above-average for the era.

really good tour opener, great to see the fanbase excited for summer this morning.
, comment by thesbis
thesbis No one seems to be mentioning the GBOTT, which was the best i have seen. Vocals throughout the show were crisp and spot-on harmonically.
, comment by BigDudeInTheDoorway
BigDudeInTheDoorway No Echoplex? I was really looking forward to Trey getting creative with that thing this tour.
, comment by Mrnico79
Mrnico79 "Munsters" theme tease in Stash, about 6:20 in
, comment by InsectEffect
InsectEffect
For me, waking up to .net recaps has come to signal the official start of summer! A generally well done recap, as usual. I like the two-for-one offering of perspectives here (the grammarian in me wishes Lily would capitalize song titles and such, tho).

Worth pointing out that this show was devoid of covers, as promised recently -- that's no covers now since the end of the 2013 Fall Tour, I think. Bustout potential abounds.

, comment by deceasedlavy
deceasedlavy Um, "Fuego" is not universally loved. It's a painfully awkward mishmash of a song with godawful lyrics. As for the album being generally well-received, I guess that's possible. It only goes to show how old, out-of-touch and complacent the fanbase has become, if so. I think it's funny that Phish played all of the tolerable cuts from the album for the first night. All the Fuego songs not played last night are embarrassing examples of a songwriter who's out of ideas yet surrounded by sycophants encouraging him to keep at it for fear that he might start doing drugs if his ego gets bruised. Of course that's purely conjecture; maybe everyone Trey hangs out with is also clueless and thinks "Winterqueen" and "Wombat" are awesome. Either way, very sad. Hard to be optimistic about the future of a band that would admit to having written those songs, let alone have the bad judgment to put them on an album.

But the show certainly leaves room for optimism. Trey's not relying on his gadgets for every interesting bit of guitar playing. He's very shaky and timid for the first half of set one by by "Stash" he seems to have regained his mojo. It's admittedly disappointing to get yet another go-nowhere "Mike's", clunky non-segue into "Simple" and drab, lifeless "Free". But "Ghost" showcases some real attempts to connect between all the guys, and the segue into "Weekapaug" is superb, and "Hood" is absolute brilliance. Enough to make me take a couple extra vacation days off work right there. Stoked.
, comment by TheEmu
TheEmu @deceasedlavy said:
All the Fuego songs not played last night are embarrassing examples of a songwriter who's out of ideas yet surrounded by sycophants encouraging him to keep at it for fear that he might start doing drugs if his ego gets bruised. Of course that's purely conjecture; maybe everyone Trey hangs out with is also clueless and thinks "Winterqueen" and "Wombat" are awesome."
Well, Wombat and The Line are both credited to the band, so it may not be all Trey. Just wanted to point that out.

Also, you don't sound all that stoked. Not that you should be, or that it would be wrong if you weren't, but again, just sayin'.
, comment by FACTSAREUSELESS
FACTSAREUSELESS @deceasedlavy said:
Um, "Fuego" is not universally loved. It's a painfully awkward mishmash of a song with godawful lyrics. As for the album being generally well-received, I guess that's possible. It only goes to show how old, out-of-touch and complacent the fanbase has become, if so. I think it's funny that Phish played all of the tolerable cuts from the album for the first night. All the Fuego songs not played last night are embarrassing examples of a songwriter who's out of ideas yet surrounded by sycophants encouraging him to keep at it for fear that he might start doing drugs if his ego gets bruised. Of course that's purely conjecture; maybe everyone Trey hangs out with is also clueless and thinks "Winterqueen" and "Wombat" are awesome. Either way, very sad. Hard to be optimistic about the future of a band that would admit to having written those songs, let alone have the bad judgment to put them on an album.

Wow. Talk about painting a man in a bad light. Your opinion of Trey I don't think matches the opinions of most who know him. To think that the band and bands' managers are somehow coddling to him as some type of pimped, entitled, unstable soul is very unkind and I think untrue. By all accounts (and I'm not trying to practice hero-worship here) he is about as humble and and selfless a musician (of his caliber) as I've met, and I've met quite a few. I would put him in the same class as Carlos Santana and Phil Lesh in that regard, which is high praise.

I'm not settled yet on how I feel about the new album, but I'm very excited that they feel strongly enough about it to play so many tracks from the album on the opening night of the tour. The Stash and Hood are testament to the fact that they are picking up right where they left off in the fall/winter, which is very exciting and the show was very tight.

I thought it was, rather than disappointing, hilarious that after all the talk about Mike's Song this off-season, that they A) Opened with it....and B) didn't extend it. I for one laughed my ass off about it when it happened. It reminded me of Icculus from NYE, honestly. Pure phishy humor.

Just can't buy your negative view of the band, my friend. You're entitled to your opinion but I'm not buying it.
, comment by rexnonverba
rexnonverba @TheEmu said:
@deceasedlavy said:
All the Fuego songs not played last night are embarrassing examples of a songwriter who's out of ideas yet surrounded by sycophants encouraging him to keep at it for fear that he might start doing drugs if his ego gets bruised. Of course that's purely conjecture; maybe everyone Trey hangs out with is also clueless and thinks "Winterqueen" and "Wombat" are awesome."
Well, Wombat and The Line are both credited to the band, so it may not be all Trey. Just wanted to point that out.

Also, you don't sound all that stoked. Not that you should be, or that it would be wrong if you weren't, but again, just sayin'.
Thanks to The Emu for the accurate assessment of last nights show. I thought everyone was eating too many crazy pills, or maybe I ate too many boogers.
I really really want to like Fuego, but it causes a little too much discomfort. Like having Toxic Shock Syndrome, but I'm a guy. Hopefully live the songs will completely mutate and new lyrics will be improvised. Phish is really good at improv. Spot on old chap, perfect rundown of the lowlights and highlights at Great Woods.
I thought that The Emu plagiarized my mind. Way too many boogers.
, comment by TheEmu
TheEmu @rexnonverba -

I think you're talking about either @deceasedlavy or @pzerbo, as I haven't posted any reviews.
, comment by rexnonverba
rexnonverba @TheEmu said:
@rexnonverba -

I think you're talking about either @deceasedlavy or @pzerbo, as I haven't posted any reviews.
Yes thanks to @deceasedlavy.
My apology The Emu, too many boogers.
, comment by turtledb
turtledb Last night was the second summer tour opener I've had the pleasure of attending. My impressions of what Phish served up give me hope for the future. The first set showed the pride and enthusiasm they have for the new material. Some might say that the band tentatively delivered songs from Fuego. I think they are being careful with the newer compositions. I'd like to see these newer tunes expand. Nonetheless, "Halfway To The Moon" was heartfelt and tight.

"555" has the potential to be a bass & drum showcase. Prior to the show I was hoping if this song might segue into "Camel Walk". Alas, that didn't happen. However the "Stash" that was played was triumphant both for the band and CK5.

"Bouncing" brought me back to 7/1/95. My past and future collided.

"Wingsuit" is a beautiful song that is already personal and special. This is one song that "feels good." to me. Many of my fellow fans took this time to head to the bathroom. Time should allow this track to evolve and grow on those whochoose to listen. Mike on power drill was also a nod to '95.

Much has already been stated about this second set. "Mike's," and "Simple" were noteworthy. I always have fun hearing "Simple" because, I often wonder, "What is a band without skyscrapers?"

"Free" has a new meaning for me at this point in my life. I though it was well placed in the set. It also showed me that Phish is the correct band to provide the soundtrack to my summer. They have knack for choosing meaningful songs for turning points...Or maybe, I'm just quick to make the connection.

From "Ghost" through the encore, I believe Phish decided to "fly". Caution was thrown out the window "'cause it feels good." There was some fluid funk on display. People for a louder Mike (you know who you are), this is a second set worth listening to Mr. Gordon was "dropping bombs" here.

I'm thankful to have been a part of this show. I am tired and satisfied. Happy that Phish decided to "keep it rolling."

, comment by dpwilljr
dpwilljr Thanks for expecting greater without unnecessary criticism. There are parts of this show that show the brilliance of things to come and this Hood stands alone as a great version regardless.
, comment by malachi
malachi We all realize that the crowd nowadays is like a hair shy of a group you would find at The Gathering of the Juggalos, right? I mean I saw people stumbling around with blood literally dripping from their faces. Countless people just completely drugged out and not there to be a part of anything musically, simply there to somehow rationalize their poor life choices and drug abuse. As for the show, Fuego is alright and all but that's not what people who have been down since the get down are coming to see. It was a great show, don't get me wrong. Aside from being surrounded by mostly wasted people barely paying attention to the music, I was still blown away with more than a few musical moments, and Cactus is the coolest guy playing a bass guitar anywhere in the universe. I don't care if it sounds pretentious or not, but I wish the band would transition into playing nicer venues and jacking up ticket prices to put a little more class into their act instead of keeping the young drug crowd around. Their music is better than the scene they allow to happen. Sorry kids, but I'm just being honest. I'd like to be able to enjoy a performance without all the nonsense. Can't wait for SPAC!
, comment by IdRatherBeOnTour
IdRatherBeOnTour I'm feeling a Billy Joel, Storm Front album cover this summer to show that cocksucker Phish can play his songs better than him!!! Wise ass piece of upity trash who thinks his shit don't stink!
, comment by Antelope1986
Antelope1986 @deceasedlavy said:
Um, "Fuego" is not universally loved. It's a painfully awkward mishmash of a song with godawful lyrics. As for the album being generally well-received, I guess that's possible. It only goes to show how old, out-of-touch and complacent the fanbase has become, if so. I think it's funny that Phish played all of the tolerable cuts from the album for the first night. All the Fuego songs not played last night are embarrassing examples of a songwriter who's out of ideas yet surrounded by sycophants encouraging him to keep at it for fear that he might start doing drugs if his ego gets bruised. Of course that's purely conjecture; maybe everyone Trey hangs out with is also clueless and thinks "Winterqueen" and "Wombat" are awesome. Either way, very sad. Hard to be optimistic about the future of a band that would admit to having written those songs, let alone have the bad judgment to put them on an album.

But the show certainly leaves room for optimism. Trey's not relying on his gadgets for every interesting bit of guitar playing. He's very shaky and timid for the first half of set one by by "Stash" he seems to have regained his mojo. It's admittedly disappointing to get yet another go-nowhere "Mike's", clunky non-segue into "Simple" and drab, lifeless "Free". But "Ghost" showcases some real attempts to connect between all the guys, and the segue into "Weekapaug" is superb, and "Hood" is absolute brilliance. Enough to make me take a couple extra vacation days off work right there. Stoked.
Listen, I'm no fanboy, but the funny thing about people like you is, deep down, you love Phish more than anyone; including the new album (which I bet you own). But for some reason, you hate yourself for it. You're reading this now and you know I'm right.

I think it's because at some point in your life, you were (or at least looked at yourself as) a complete loser with no personality. And Phish gave you an identity...made you cool. Now you resent them for it. You want the world to know you've largely moved on to better things, or at least what you think other people deem better things. But you haven't. You should just own it. You'd feel better about yourself.
, comment by IdRatherBeOnTour
IdRatherBeOnTour Antelope 1986 clearly has lost his way and get get to grips with the fact Phish is much older and will do things differently than years past. It's 2014 not the 80's or 90's for christ sake! They can do things now musically thanks to technology they couldn't do years past and their brains are wound completely different!
, comment by Antelope1986
Antelope1986 @IdRatherBeOnTour said:
Antelope 1986 clearly has lost his way and get get to grips with the fact Phish is much older and will do things differently than years past. It's 2014 not the 80's or 90's for christ sake! They can do things now musically thanks to technology they couldn't do years past and their brains are wound completely different!
Huh? I didn't say a single thing about phish (you must be talking about the person I quoted, deceasedlavy). Notwithstanding that, I don't understand your post.
, comment by AlbanyYEM
AlbanyYEM Man this is a bizarre comment section, even as these things go. As far as 'Fuego' (the album) goes, just take a step back and think of the last time you put on Hoist. I'll take Winterqueen over Fikus any day.

The album is meant to be listened to as a whole, and is a sign of what the best albums can pull off, an overall cohesiveness beyond the sum of parts. Songs that are meant to be beautiful little ephemeral interludes are not going to blow your mind taken individually because they are out of context. It's like berating Billy Breathes for 'Steep' happening. Subtle shifts in mood and pacing are crucial to an overall organic feel, something that historically Phish has struggled with when it comes to albums.

Now placing the material from the album in a live setting brings an entirely different question of context, the context of the set and show. Ostensibly, that is what this post is about anyway, so how about seeing if that version of Fuego worked at that point in the set? Wingsuit as the last song in the set was a bit of headscratcher until that thoroughly jaw-dropping solo from Trey. Certainly seemed to work to me. I always like the song and this is a perfect example of the life the song takes in a live setting beyond what's on the album.

The album is a snapshot of a single encapsulated feel of music for roughly an hour, more nearly a painting than a film. You can come back to it again and again and it will not change, only the changes you bring in listening to the material, how your perceptions are filtered. No one is required to like it, but it seems strange to me that it elicits such strong reactions from you that you need to provide a fictitious narrative about Trey and why they could make such awful music. Are you reviewing the album or the songs played in the show? Because that is pure apples and oranges. Actually reviewing songs that weren't played--did you need a forum to vent that that badly?

If it's "hard to be optimistic about the future of the band," then I'm sincerely asking--why are you still listening? A better question is, what does that hour length album have to do with your opinion of Great Woods, 7-1-14?

Sorry to get so meta. Gotta admit I was a bit meh on this show until Hood happened (minus Stash/Wingsuit). Boatloads better than Bangor though. It seems like it would fit right in to summer '13 which worries me a bit considering what fall was like. Not an eastcoaster so I truly hope that summers won't just be warm-ups for fall. End rant.
, comment by tek9rifleskills
tek9rifleskills I have yet to hear this show, but based on the set list and vast reviews of all songs, including the Stash, Mike's suite, Ghostpaugh and Hood, it seems like all other songs are just "meh." Doesn't make sense to me; it looks like any old good fashioned Phish show to me! First set looks like the jam on paper, as the tweets rolled in, we said to ourselves "this show is the heat, great song selection for a pumped up first set!" I've seen sets roll in that I said, "well not a barn burner but they're doing a first set..." but this whole show looks good.

My question now is: if these few songs were the only "good" things about the show, that is based solely on the jammed out/major improvisation songs. If that's the case, then 75% of all Phish shows suck then, considering Bouncing and Waiting all Night aren't major "jam" vehicles. I appreciate these opinions and I totally get it, but lets look at reality here: Phish is not, and has never in their career (minus some rare occasions in 1997) played only major jam songs for the entire show. That means songs in the first set are worthless filler on the way to the typical Stash or Wolfman's or Reba or Sky that we hear in the first set and always comment as being "the saving grace of the first set, before (place those songs here), the set was dragging."

Playing that many new, good songs in the first set looked like a major game changer to us. Probably the most original and different first set since...2009 when Joy came out and we had new, unpredictable songs in the first set to change the pacing and vibe/feel?
, comment by FACTSAREUSELESS
FACTSAREUSELESS
Sorry to get so meta. Gotta admit I was a bit meh on this show until Hood happened (minus Stash/Wingsuit). Boatloads better than Bangor though. It seems like it would fit right in to summer '13 which worries me a bit considering what fall was like. Not an eastcoaster so I truly hope that summers won't just be warm-ups for fall. End rant.[/quote]

Hey Albany! Great insights as always but I must take exception to you backhanding my favorite first set of Summer '13. The Bangor show was uneven and lacked flow in the 2nd set, though the R&R, while short, was fire, and they finished strong with a memorable Lope and Hood encore that was very pretty and understated. But that first set.....the Possum opener was played much slower than normal which gave it a real redneck drawl....The Stash was noteworthy from that set (I believe an equal to Great Woods) and it boasted IMHO the best Wolfman's of the tour. CDT was no slouch either. Anyway, just wanted to point out that "boatloads better than Bangor", while pleasing to the mind poetically, does not "hold water".

Done.
, comment by FACTSAREUSELESS
FACTSAREUSELESS @tek9rifleskills said:
I have yet to hear this show, but based on the set list and vast reviews of all songs, including the Stash, Mike's suite, Ghostpaugh and Hood, it seems like all other songs are just "meh." Doesn't make sense to me; it looks like any old good fashioned Phish show to me! First set looks like the jam on paper, as the tweets rolled in, we said to ourselves "this show is the heat, great song selection for a pumped up first set!" I've seen sets roll in that I said, "well not a barn burner but they're doing a first set..." but this whole show looks good.

My question now is: if these few songs were the only "good" things about the show, that is based solely on the jammed out/major improvisation songs. If that's the case, then 75% of all Phish shows suck then, considering Bouncing and Waiting all Night aren't major "jam" vehicles. I appreciate these opinions and I totally get it, but lets look at reality here: Phish is not, and has never in their career (minus some rare occasions in 1997) played only major jam songs for the entire show. That means songs in the first set are worthless filler on the way to the typical Stash or Wolfman's or Reba or Sky that we hear in the first set and always comment as being "the saving grace of the first set, before (place those songs here), the set was dragging."

Playing that many new, good songs in the first set looked like a major game changer to us. Probably the most original and different first set since...2009 when Joy came out and we had new, unpredictable songs in the first set to change the pacing and vibe/feel?
Great commentary. Wish everyone in the community "got it" like you do.
, comment by Axilla2
Axilla2 Can we get another Katy Perry cover!?
, comment by mikh2wg
mikh2wg As usual, @pzerbo, I'm impressed with your writing and dialectic skills. However you didn't provide very much information in your recap that I couldn't have gotten from the setlist. "Here are the songs they played. What will these songs do in the future? I don't know." I know you've got the chops, I just wish you'd use them to describe the music. Otherwise, why bother to do a recap at all?
, comment by phactor
phactor Very fun show and prob the best great woods since7/13/99. Did trey forget the first solo in free?
, comment by BeneathTheDirt
BeneathTheDirt Truly enjoyed the show,especially the stash and ghostapaug, but I'm very confused by everyone raving about hood. It was long, but long is not the same thing as good. Trey seemed to be stuck in a slow monotonous jam for a while. Fishman tried to get them out of there by laying down a faster beat, which forced the band to a medium-level jam, where they got stuck again. When they finally started the end segment, they certainly picked it up and went out with a bang! Overall it was a good hood, just not hearing the "one for the books" version other reviews here are talking about
, comment by stuffinmystrut
stuffinmystrut The author has removed all of the text from their comment
, comment by stuffinmystrut
stuffinmystrut @BigDudeInTheDoorway said:
No Echoplex? I was really looking forward to Trey getting creative with that thing this tour.
Try listening to 555. I think Trey was playing with.
, comment by Destiny_Bound
Destiny_Bound The drum kit sounded mic'd a bit different, more pronounced. Fishman came to play, the beat in The Wedge was pounding.
, comment by nichobert
nichobert @malachi said:
We all realize that the crowd nowadays is like a hair shy of a group you would find at The Gathering of the Juggalos, right? I mean I saw people stumbling around with blood literally dripping from their faces. Countless people just completely drugged out and not there to be a part of anything musically, simply there to somehow rationalize their poor life choices and drug abuse. As for the show, Fuego is alright and all but that's not what people who have been down since the get down are coming to see. It was a great show, don't get me wrong. Aside from being surrounded by mostly wasted people barely paying attention to the music, I was still blown away with more than a few musical moments, and Cactus is the coolest guy playing a bass guitar anywhere in the universe. I don't care if it sounds pretentious or not, but I wish the band would transition into playing nicer venues and jacking up ticket prices to put a little more class into their act instead of keeping the young drug crowd around. Their music is better than the scene they allow to happen. Sorry kids, but I'm just being honest. I'd like to be able to enjoy a performance without all the nonsense. Can't wait for SPAC!
Interesting. For years now I've become more and more impressed with how well the Phish crowd has cleaned up. Late 90s / early 00s crowds were pretty much fucking disgusting. Maybe they don't know the music as well now, but good for them. Everyone starts somewhere.
, comment by TwiceBitten
TwiceBitten Base'd
, comment by akjed
akjed @Mrnico79 said:
"Munsters" theme tease in Stash, about 6:20 in

Hell yeah! It was subtle. Thought I was the only one who heard it! Good call.
, comment by AlbanyYEM
AlbanyYEM Whats up @FACTSAREUSELESS good to be back talking Phish. I just felt like Bangor had some interesting moments, but as far as tour openers go it just wasn't tight enough for me, which is especially what I'm looking for in the opener. It shows the base is strong for the rest of the launching for the shows to come. It also had the misfortune of trying to follow up Worcester and Bethel. High bars.

@tek9rifleskills I'd just have to refer you to the @Icculus article regarding 'average great.' If songs are played and regarded as kinda meh, it's because there was no extra fire in them. The GBOTT had some nice understated flow but the Fuego seemed slightly choppy to me in execution. Both of these aren't referring to jamming at all, just how the songs were played. HTTM still shows Trey seeming a bit uncomfortable with his leads. The rest of the set until Stash was just nothing special. NOTHING to do with the songs played but purely HOW they were played. Which to me is the entire point. It seemed workmanlike and tentative until then, nothing you haven't hear better elsewhere, *in 3.0.* Nothing at all to do with '97. There are just a million versions of STFTFP I'd rather hear. The Wedge is probably my favorite 3.0 bar burner that they almost always seem to fan out to a glorious (non-jam) peak, even moreso than the 1.0 frames for that kind of thing like Chalkdust and Bag. It just wasn't the case for this show.

My point being that I think you kind of missed the analogy on the '97 thing. The ideal first set sound to me more like '92. Fun, tight, and on fire. The *only* reason that jamming is talked about as the saving grace of the set so often is because the rest of the set lacked good old fashioned intensity, strictly in the non-jam songs. So the only thing interesting turns out to be the mini-jam in Wolfman's, etc.

For comparison, off the top of my head, I'd refer you to the first set of the Disease Supreme show at Pine Knob (6-3-11) as an example as just a good first set. To me, that had such nice flow and great intensity, and a note-worthy light-hearted feel as it was Mike's birthday. (disclaimer--I was at this show if that matters). Zero drag, awesome setlist choices, great execution, no type II. What great first sets are all about. No compare Great Woods and I think you'll see what I'm talking about.
, comment by Dividedsky333
Dividedsky333 The song "Fuego" was clearly written to unite the crowd in chant....you know....the "Woah, woah, woah, woah, woah, woah, woah, woah" part. Listening to the track on the album I could just imagine the whole crowd with their hands in the air chanting along to this. I figured it was the band's deliberate attempt to create the 3.0 era equivalent of the "Stash" part where the whole crowd chants, "Oh aye oh aye oh, oh aye oh aye oh, etc...". Whether that was the intention or not on the bands part, I'm confident that's where the song will end up in the repertoire over the remainder of the decade.

Brief "Fuego" album review....well produced, highlights the band's strengths while minimizing their various achille's heels. As far as a comparison to past album's....Round Room is the last Phish album that I can listen to from start to finish and truly say I love every second of it. Not to say that I don't like individual tracks on the other albums (I actually loooooove "Time Turns Elastic" ;) , but I'm one of the few fans who likes to listen to their albums from start to finish, and I am still waiting for that album to arrive. The new stuff is just too lo-fi soft-rock singer-songwritery for me. Which isn't a bad thing --- as far as songwriting goes, Trey's got it down to a science, but I just haven't adapted to the fact that this is now Trey's modus operandi when outputting new material. For four musicians who could probably teach a college course on advanced music theory, I'm still waiting for them to give 120% into breaking down all expectations musically on an album......and it's not like they can't.

I'll be at SPAC for the 4th. Can't wait.
, comment by MOstGhoSt
MOstGhoSt i loved this concert live and this afternoon listened to the recordings and realized what it was that made me feel so good and happy at the night's conclusion.
it was that there were multiple moments where the songs just sounded so beautiful, somewhat soft, cascading.... the tone i noted was something lovely and this is a little different from my usual concert experience.

the sound was amazing. i was untroubled with anyone nearby chatting and the bass sounded excellent from my seating proximity to the stage. so these factors enhanced my listening pleasure.

most of the songs sounded very very beautiful and cascading. in set two i had a dancing sensation like walking along, taking a walk at a pace that felt really cheerful and adventurous.

i think wingsuit is a very cascading beautiful song and was a fine set one closer. perhaps the tone reappeared in other songs. i could hear this in the ghost as i re listened... just a beautiful beautiful lovely thing.

and i loved hearing fuego as a surprise in set one. an excellent treat after last enjoying it live as the new year happened. fuego is one of my favorite new compositions. this song has a big sound and the lyrics rock.

, comment by FACTSAREUSELESS
FACTSAREUSELESS @MOstGhoSt said:
i loved this concert live and this afternoon listened to the recordings and realized what it was that made me feel so good and happy at the night's conclusion.
it was that there were multiple moments where the songs just sounded so beautiful, somewhat soft, cascading.... the tone i noted was something lovely and this is a little different from my usual concert experience.

the sound was amazing. i was untroubled with anyone nearby chatting and the bass sounded excellent from my seating proximity to the stage. so these factors enhanced my listening pleasure.

most of the songs sounded very very beautiful and cascading. in set two i had a dancing sensation like walking along, taking a walk at a pace that felt really cheerful and adventurous.

Interesting comments. I think you're on to something. When I listened to Fuego (the album, not the Halloween show) I picked up on the gentleness and softness of many of the tones on the record, but sort of dismissed that as "studio" effects. Certainly, it left the impression of being mellow.

I felt much the same way as you did. I attributed it to my state of mind (relaxed) and the venue, with with I'm intimately familiar, but now upon reflection I believe you are right. The band seems to be setting a direction here. The last couple years the jams have been driving and anthemic, but it would be fascinating if they change that trend and become more melodic, trippy, more purple, if you will.

We'll have to see. They certainly explored that with Carini last year. What will be the choice-du-jour this time around?
, comment by mazed207
mazed207 I was at the show, way up on the lawn(which kinda sucks). First set Fuego was pretty good, bott was short but sweet. 555 is also a good tune from the new album. As always a solid halfway to the moon. The rest of the set was somewhat standard fare. Just before set 2 i heard someone say "lets see if we can get out of 2nd gear". The entire 2nd set was solid, ghost and hood stand out. .
...
, comment by keepwhatsimportant
keepwhatsimportant @malachi said:
We all realize that the crowd nowadays is like a hair shy of a group you would find at The Gathering of the Juggalos, right? I mean I saw people stumbling around with blood literally dripping from their faces. Countless people just completely drugged out and not there to be a part of anything musically, simply there to somehow rationalize their poor life choices and drug abuse. As for the show, Fuego is alright and all but that's not what people who have been down since the get down are coming to see. It was a great show, don't get me wrong. Aside from being surrounded by mostly wasted people barely paying attention to the music, I was still blown away with more than a few musical moments, and Cactus is the coolest guy playing a bass guitar anywhere in the universe. I don't care if it sounds pretentious or not, but I wish the band would transition into playing nicer venues and jacking up ticket prices to put a little more class into their act instead of keeping the young drug crowd around. Their music is better than the scene they allow to happen. Sorry kids, but I'm just being honest. I'd like to be able to enjoy a performance without all the nonsense. Can't wait for SPAC!
honestly when you have ever seen a phish show without nonsense? and without young clueless kids showing up to party, phish would never have existed, nor would they continue i think. don't know your story but 1998 and 1999 as well as 2004, i have memories of disgusting filthy human activity and behavior that makes 2014 look like a kindegarten class.
, comment by kowphish
kowphish Great review especially the speculations on how the new songs will evolve out into future setlists. Pretty creative analysis. Rock on!
, comment by sethadam1
sethadam1 Thanks for the review, Philip!
, comment by WhatTheMike
WhatTheMike I created a username, password, etc, logged into my email to retrieve the confirmation email, clicked the link and spent 4 minutes of my 4th of July doing all of that to say...

Good job, sir, on the Jerk reference.

I'm SOMEBODY now!!
, comment by pzerbo
pzerbo @tek9rifleskills said:
My question now is: if these few songs were the only "good" things about the show, that is based solely on the jammed out/major improvisation songs. If that's the case, then 75% of all Phish shows suck then, considering Bouncing and Waiting all Night aren't major "jam" vehicles.
Respectfully, I don't think anyone is posing that question or making that suggestion, least of all myself. "These are what I'd consider the highlights that one should seek out for immediate re-listen" is not the same as "these are the only things that were good about the show." I presume anyone reading a recap on this site is well familiar with the classic portions of the repertoire and, when those elements are performed in essentially the same way as they always have been / are currently, those don't require or benefit much from additional description or commentary on my part. I try to focus on elements of any given show that are notable by their difference from previous gigs, i.e. new songs and notable improvisations.

FWIW I also thought this show was a good better than Bangor, though a step down from Bethel1 or Worcester1. One is tempted to hold a low bar for the first show off a break, but they often make that approach difficult by playing early shows that are really quite great.

In the event it wasn't clear, I thought this was a perfectly fine show. Great times.
, comment by FACTSAREUSELESS
FACTSAREUSELESS @pzerbo said:
@tek9rifleskills said:
My question now is: if these few songs were the only "good" things about the show, that is based solely on the jammed out/major improvisation songs. If that's the case, then 75% of all Phish shows suck then, considering Bouncing and Waiting all Night aren't major "jam" vehicles.
Respectfully, I don't think anyone is posing that question or making that suggestion, least of all myself. "These are what I'd consider the highlights that one should seek out for immediate re-listen" is not the same as "these are the only things that were good about the show." I presume anyone reading a recap on this site is well familiar with the classic portions of the repertoire and, when those elements are performed in essentially the same way as they always have been / are currently, those don't require or benefit much from additional description or commentary on my part. I try to focus on elements of any given show that are notable by their difference from previous gigs, i.e. new songs and notable improvisations.

FWIW I also thought this show was a good better than Bangor, though a step down from Bethel1 or Worcester1. One is tempted to hold a low bar for the first show off a break, but they often make that approach difficult by playing early shows that are really quite great.

In the event it wasn't clear, I thought this was a perfectly fine show. Great times.
I didn't get the impression that @tek9rifleskills was critiqueing your review specifically but was making a general comment on the trend of commentary within the blogs. At least that's how I took it.
, comment by FACTSAREUSELESS
FACTSAREUSELESS @BeneathTheDirt said:
Truly enjoyed the show,especially the stash and ghostapaug, but I'm very confused by everyone raving about hood. It was long, but long is not the same thing as good. Trey seemed to be stuck in a slow monotonous jam for a while. Fishman tried to get them out of there by laying down a faster beat, which forced the band to a medium-level jam, where they got stuck again. When they finally started the end segment, they certainly picked it up and went out with a bang! Overall it was a good hood, just not hearing the "one for the books" version other reviews here are talking about
Can't agree with your assessment of what I consider to be a most original and masterful Hood. I mean, what do you expect? Compared to the average Hood since 3.0, this was certainly "one for the books" by every conceivable definition.
, comment by teddyfenton
teddyfenton Love "The Jerk" nod in your review...this was an awfully FUN opening show, can't wait for the next 24 shows of summer tour!
, comment by deceasedlavy
deceasedlavy @Antelope1986 said:
@deceasedlavy said:
Um, "Fuego" is not universally loved. It's a painfully awkward mishmash of a song with godawful lyrics. As for the album being generally well-received, I guess that's possible. It only goes to show how old, out-of-touch and complacent the fanbase has become, if so. I think it's funny that Phish played all of the tolerable cuts from the album for the first night. All the Fuego songs not played last night are embarrassing examples of a songwriter who's out of ideas yet surrounded by sycophants encouraging him to keep at it for fear that he might start doing drugs if his ego gets bruised. Of course that's purely conjecture; maybe everyone Trey hangs out with is also clueless and thinks "Winterqueen" and "Wombat" are awesome. Either way, very sad. Hard to be optimistic about the future of a band that would admit to having written those songs, let alone have the bad judgment to put them on an album.

But the show certainly leaves room for optimism. Trey's not relying on his gadgets for every interesting bit of guitar playing. He's very shaky and timid for the first half of set one by by "Stash" he seems to have regained his mojo. It's admittedly disappointing to get yet another go-nowhere "Mike's", clunky non-segue into "Simple" and drab, lifeless "Free". But "Ghost" showcases some real attempts to connect between all the guys, and the segue into "Weekapaug" is superb, and "Hood" is absolute brilliance. Enough to make me take a couple extra vacation days off work right there. Stoked.
Listen, I'm no fanboy, but the funny thing about people like you is, deep down, you love Phish more than anyone; including the new album (which I bet you own). But for some reason, you hate yourself for it. You're reading this now and you know I'm right.

I think it's because at some point in your life, you were (or at least looked at yourself as) a complete loser with no personality. And Phish gave you an identity...made you cool. Now you resent them for it. You want the world to know you've largely moved on to better things, or at least what you think other people deem better things. But you haven't. You should just own it. You'd feel better about yourself.
Funny shit, Antelope1985. You're right about one thing: I love Phish. Fuego is terrible, though. The funny thing about people like you is they have no fucking clue what they're talking about. I don't own Fuego and definitely don't hate myself for this or any other reason. God help the poor soul who feels that Phish made him cool. I suppose most of us would acknowledge the fact that Phish is a part of our identity. There are other things in life, however. Have fun with that amateur psychology hobby--I'm sure you'll go far.
, comment by MOstGhoSt
MOstGhoSt @FACTSAREUSELESS said:
@MOstGhoSt said:
i loved this concert live and this afternoon listened to the recordings and realized what it was that made me feel so good and happy at the night's conclusion.
it was that there were multiple moments where the songs just sounded so beautiful, somewhat soft, cascading.... the tone i noted was something lovely and this is a little different from my usual concert experience.

most of the songs sounded very very beautiful and cascading. in set two i had a dancing sensation like walking along, taking a walk at a pace that felt really cheerful and adventurous.

Interesting comments. I think you're on to something. When I listened to Fuego (the album, not the Halloween show) I picked up on the gentleness and softness of many of the tones on the record, but sort of dismissed that as "studio" effects. Certainly, it left the impression of being mellow.

I felt much the same way as you did. I attributed it to my state of mind (relaxed) and the venue, with with I'm intimately familiar, but now upon reflection I believe you are right. The band seems to be setting a direction here. The last couple years the jams have been driving and anthemic, but it would be fascinating if they change that trend and become more melodic, trippy, more purple, if you will.

We'll have to see. They certainly explored that with Carini last year. What will be the choice-du-jour this time around?
i am writing this comment now following the completion of spac and the superlative randalls island run in NYc.

the songs that seem to be set for exploration and wonder this summer are harry hood, stash, and fuego. stash is something deeply special at present.( note: randals island sunday stash 28 minutes of oh my gosh ) but let's not forget... these guys are the phish from vermont and anything can happen at any time.

the fuego is also unpredictable and different every time.

i noticed on saturday night at randalls that the the guitar in wingsuit was soaring and swaying. i also noticed extending guitar explorations. the wingsuit is just so beautiful and i felt the flight as i tuned my listening intently following the guitar chords. at randalls island on saturday night i really heard what is described about wingsuit in the above review.

the guitar sound of wingsuit makes me feel like a bird soaring back and forth and in perfect flight as i listen intently and sway with the shifts and changes. i have not memorized the composition or anything, but it feels different each time and the randalls version felt extended ( i don't have verification on that - it is just an impression ) wingsuit is a glorious song where trey can just shine and take flight. listening - it was beautiful. really. cascading.
 
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