Thursday 07/10/2014 by phishnet

RECAP: SNEAKIN' MIKE THROUGH THE MANN2

[For this recap we'd like to welcome guest blogger Craig Hillwig) -PZ]

Sometimes Phish foreshadows the fireworks in its opening sequence, although it’s often not clear except in retrospect and after much contemplation. Mann night two was that type of show.

As a show opener, “Glide” is an appetizer. It makes you wait for the “real” opener. My mind wandered back in time to Madison Square Garden last New Years Eve, when Phish made all our dreams come true with the Truck Set. Was it going to be THAT kind of show? Of course not – each show is its own unique expression and deserves to be received as such. There would be no follow-up “Llama.” But there would be a tie-in to NYE and also to local Phish lore in the second stanza.


Photo by Andrea Z Nusinov

Glide” finished awkwardly, with Trey laughing and adding, “that’s our own interpretation of that song … thank you goodnight! …. we hope that rocked your faces as much as you’re rocking ours at this very moment.” “Sing Monica” followed, the first of the three Trey/Tom compositions from Fuego that would be played this night. It’s too early tell whether “Monica” will settle in as a first set standard in light of the SPAC encore placement. However, it was not well-placed in this instance. The crowd was looking to release some pent-up excitement after “Glide,” but that would have to wait.

Birds of a Feather” and “Wolfman’s Brother” followed, both of the standard set one variety. “Wolfman’s” featured Trey sitting back in the pocket for much of the jam, leaving ample room for Mike and Fish to syncopate with Page’s signature staccato clavinet, and the crowd was appreciative about finally being able to get their dance on. These were followed by “Sugar Shack,” a tough tune to play only once a tour due to its deceptively different time signature (13/8 or 9/8 depending on who you talk to on the Twitter). It may have been the best version to date, if only because Trey nailed the transitional guitar parts that have tended to trip him up in the past.

Alaska”...


Photo courtesy Phish From the Road © Phish, Inc.

Then we got the goods. There’s a certain visceral feeling you get as soon as you hear the first chords of “McGrupp” rise out of the nothingness. It’s a song that has become exceedingly rare in 3.0 (only nine played), and like most of the older composed works it benefits from practice and repetition. It seemed clear that they had practiced it – indeed, the band seemed to be toying with some very Watchful themes during the sprawling “Fuego” jam that anchored the prior night’s second set. There were still some rough transitions, but all in all it was a beautiful rendition.

The second “Stealing Time from the Faulty Plan” of the tour was next. By the sixth show of the tour, we’re getting a sense of which songs are heavily weighted in the rotation, and “Stealing Time” seems to be a perennial favorite of Trey’s. This was followed by a gorgeous version of “Horn,” a rock anthem about a human doormat with a driver’s license and bad taste in wine.

The dysfunctional-love-song theme continued with “Devotion to a Dream” and “Silent in the Morning,” with huge placement points for both. For those keeping count, that’s nine consecutive “Horse”-less versions of “Silent in the Morning,” so this trend officially appears to be “a thing.” Interestingly, the “Horse”/”Silent” combination was originally conceived as a single composition, only to inexplicably be tracked separately on Rift. It’s as if the song was cleaved in half, an incomplete musical thought. Any mourning for the Horse was quickly forgotten once the huge, set-closing “Run Like an Antelope” got under way.

Set two was brought to us largely by the letters “C” and “W” starting with a monster “Chalk Dust Torture,” possibly in tribute to the legendary version they played in Camden nearly fifteen years earlier to the day – the same version that was featured so prominently in the emotional retrospective video played at MSG before the NYE truck set. The “Glide” opener now made a lot more sense, in context. This version of “Chalk Dust” had it all – from dark dissonance to melodic bliss. Page was the star here, starting off on L’il Punkin and working his way clockwise around his rig as the jam changed tone and structure.


Photo courtesy Phish From the Road © Phish, Inc.

Wingsuit” and “Winterqueen” followed for back to back W’s – an odd but bold pairing of two of the moodier tracks on Fuego. Their presentation together felt like a suite in many respects, and worked well in my view. However, if you didn’t want a fifteen minute cool-down segment so early in the second set, your milage probably varied greatly. A spirited “Twist” brought us back up part of the way with a standard, Santana-inflected version that clearly had no intention of blowing up and came to a virtually complete stop. The band was keeping its powder dry, and we would soon learn why.

“C” also stands for “covers,” and If there were any lingering speculation about a “no-covers rule” after Tuesday night’s “Also Sprach Zarathustra,” Phish demolished it convincingly with compact but fiery “Crosseyed and Painless” that included a smattering of soaring echoplex and some “Birds of a Feather” phrasing by Trey. The venue instantly erupted when the song burst from the nothingness, perhaps due to a realization that any perceived shackles had been broken. Let there be covers!


Photo courtesy Phish From the Road © Phish, Inc.

A wafer-thin “Waste” provided the second cooldown of the set, and it was just exactly perfect.

The “Mike’s Song” that followed was strictly by the books, save for some additional “Birds of a Feather” licks, and seemed destined to finish with a walk-off “I Am Hydrogen” > “Weekapaug Groove.” Instead, Trey abruptly dropped into “Sneakin’ Sally Through the Alley” to close the set, a combination not seen since 7/24/88 at Nectar’s. And then there were covers.

The choice of a “Julius” encore created more than a little doubt about whether they would play “Weekapaug.” But of course, this was a set of C’s and W’s, and so of course they did. Final Score: C’s - 2; W’s-4. Next stop - Randall’s Island.


Photo by Elliot Byron

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Comments

, comment by lumpblockclod
lumpblockclod Excellent recap! Really enjoyed the second set but a little bitter to be missing McGrupp by a single show.
, comment by phishatmsg
phishatmsg Great review and great to meet ya yesterday!
, comment by RoundTheRoom
RoundTheRoom Thanks for the recap. One of the more polarizing shows in recent memory. Fans are all over the map on this one.

I personally didn't think that there was much in it (one jam that lacked developed themes and great peaks) ... but had a blast and can't wait until Randall's.

The C&P drop was very memorable. Place exploded.
, comment by RollinEnMiFuego
RollinEnMiFuego trey butchered glide
, comment by ClarySageMcConnell
ClarySageMcConnell What a great show! The comments about the time signature of Sugar Shack remind me so much of the discussions I've had about the Simpson's theme song. People like to think this song is in an unconventional time signature but it, like SS, is in 4/4. It's the magic of well done syncopation. It's fun to conduct 4/4 to the tune, but if you're not into that, count 1-2-3-4 and snap your fingers, tap your foot, pat your cat's head, whatever you like; when you do, you will find proof that this song is in fact in 4/4 time with GREAT syncopation. Cheers!
, comment by chillwig
chillwig Looks like the Nectar's Sally came before the Mike's. Hard to read the charts when you're this sleep deprived.
, comment by MDosque
MDosque Just got back to DC from my trip home to Philly and the Mann. I have to say that I enjoyed this show more than Tuesday - here's why... Trey was absolutely on and the general interplay between band members was to notch. I felt like Tuesday the couldn't really get it going on the same page but this was a Trey show through and through. He was motivated, happy, and focused on some serious guitar work. Sure, a lot of it was "type 1" but I don't really care about those distinctions. He was VERY creative within all of the songs of the first set in particular. I used Sugar Shack to hit the facilities and when I came back Alaska was just kicking in. I don't really like the song, but again, Trey came to play. He sounded terrific. The Antelope was psychedelic fire with the echo effects coming in really handy making it my favorite version seen in 3.0 out of 3 (I think - Bader 2012 and one of the MPP shows). This version was smoking. The CDT was beautiful and was truly a group effort that paid off for me. Loved the Wingsuit placement and while I like Winterqueen a LOT, I felt like the crowd did sag a little and if Wingsuit went into something old school, this set would have the entire fanbase screaming epic. Good version, but perhaps not the best placement on this night. Twist was ok and because I smartly chugged water (and a lot of beer) I went again during Waste. I love Waste, but after seeing in from the MPP pit last summer 10 feet from Trey, I felt comfortable exploring the lawn during it. Mike's was pure fire off the hook straight through the Groove, which again, I think was the best I've seen since the 90's. All in all, what makes a great show for me is the energy, intention, and quality of playing no matter what the song choices really are. This night had it big time and the band was very collaborative with Trey taking the main lead - which is just how I like it. Great little two-night stand with Wed edging out Tuesday in my opinion.
, comment by somecoldgreentea
somecoldgreentea They should play C&P at every show for the rest of time.
, comment by chillwig
chillwig @ClarySageMcConnell said:
People like to think this song is in an unconventional time signature but it, like SS, is in 4/4. It's the magic of well done syncopation. It's fun to conduct 4/4 to the tune, but if you're not into that, count 1-2-3-4 and snap your fingers, tap your foot, pat your cat's head, whatever you like; when you do, you will find proof that this song is in fact in 4/4 time with GREAT syncopation. Cheers!
Agreed. I was counting out 4/4 in real time too, that's why I threw it out there last night. http://twitter.com/chillwig/status/487034032463429632
, comment by User_25940_
User_25940_ I love beautiful segues...practically what I live for (see Abbey Road side B), and the
CDT-> Wingsuit segue was gorgeous. I had a tremendous time couching this.
, comment by malachai
malachai Finally, now all the annoying no covers chatter can stop. They are killing this tour so far, so fresh and so clean.
, comment by ClarySageMcConnell
ClarySageMcConnell @chillwig said:
@ClarySageMcConnell said:
People like to think this song is in an unconventional time signature but it, like SS, is in 4/4. It's the magic of well done syncopation. It's fun to conduct 4/4 to the tune, but if you're not into that, count 1-2-3-4 and snap your fingers, tap your foot, pat your cat's head, whatever you like; when you do, you will find proof that this song is in fact in 4/4 time with GREAT syncopation. Cheers!
Agreed. I was counting out 4/4 in real time too, that's why I threw it out there last night. http://twitter.com/chillwig/status/487034032463429632
I'm out of my element as usual ; )
, comment by fluffhead108
fluffhead108 I can't get on board with the total lack of respect this review has for appetizers. From where I'm sitting, appetizers are still food, and this is like saying, "They brought out our appetizers, but we had the wait 10 more minutes before they brought us real food." I call bologna on that, sir or madame. .Net's anti-appetizer agenda is spiraling out of control.
, comment by EBreezy
EBreezy I have yet to listen to the show again, but at least around my section there was the massive "AWW!!!!" When they left C&P for Waste. It seemed as though they were about to work their way into another jam segment and the crowd definitely wanted to follow them, but suddenly Waste. I had a hell of a time at both of the shows. The rain delay on Tuesday set up for a night of tension throughout the show, and all of Wednesdays performance had a light and airy feel to it. Very carefree and very fun
, comment by TheEmu
TheEmu @fluffhead108 said:
.Net's anti-appetizer agenda is spiraling out of control.
Wait 'til we roll out our anti-canape agenda.
, comment by plICCULUS
plICCULUS @fluffhead108 said:
I can't get on board with the total lack of respect this review has for appetizers. From where I'm sitting, appetizers are still food, and this is like saying, "They brought out our appetizers, but we had the wait 10 more minutes before they brought us real food." I call bologna on that, sir or madame. .Net's anti-appetizer agenda is spiraling out of control.
I'm not following what you're saying...? Please explain in greater detail
, comment by chillwig
chillwig the best course is the On-Trey
, comment by J_D_G
J_D_G @fluffhead108 said:
.Net's anti-appetizer agenda is spiraling out of control.
Fellow admins: did you see this? It seems like some people out there are circling closer and closer to uncovering the Secret Agenda. Should we nuke this user?

Don't worry, I'm using the special coding that lets admins see this comment and not the GenPop. It's been a while though and I'm not sure I'm doing that part right.
, comment by nichobert
nichobert Going to stick my neck out ever so meekly and say I think I like the 2010 Camden Chalkdust better than the 99 one.
, comment by FACTSAREUSELESS
FACTSAREUSELESS The show is hit-and-miss but certainly worth a download.

The first set had some of my all-time personal favorites (McGrupp and Horn) played well. Personally I like Alaska. Trey seems to have gotten the message from the general fan-base regarding its mixed popularity as it has been scarce of late, but I take it for what it is, which is a fun, frivolous, tongue-in-cheek stomp, in the same vein as Tennessee Jed.

Tennesse Jed had similar lyrical and musical tone and I've felt for some time that Alaska, not Ocelot is the Tennessee Jed twin.

Second set was very good. Not great, but very good. I agree with the reviewer about the beautiful combo of Wingsuit and Winterqueen. I also loved Waste after C&P.

I've never quite been able to relate to fans who consider it a "downer" when the band flows into a slow, dream-like respite out of a hot jam. It's natural and appropriate. You can't spend the whole show running at breakneck pace.

To continue on the same reference point, the Dead made a living out of doing that. "Crazy Fingers", "Stella Blue", "Row Jimmy", and other such slow, drawn-out songs were staples of 2nd sets for many years and often followed more up-beat, danceable numbers.

I just don't understand what the problem is with doing that. I think Trey & Co. are making a concerted effort to weld the new material into prominent placements, as well as experimenting with both 1st and 2nd set placements, in part to help us get used to associating the new songs with their more established material. This was a problem with the Joy material; they never really committed to the material from that album the way that they seem to be doing with Fuego.

The Dead played "Estimated Prophet" almost every single night of tour the year that "Terrapin Station" came out. My point is that if we're going to encourage the band to move forward then we need to be willing to allow the new to replace some of the old. This will affect our experience at shows because there will at times be a sense of anti-climax or lack of release.

End of ramble.
, comment by FACTSAREUSELESS
FACTSAREUSELESS My apologies; forgot to say: Great job, Craig! Very nice recap. Thank you!
, comment by PennPhan
PennPhan What's interesting is that this reviewer went into the show (apparently) looking for positives, while others are hopping on the negatives. To me, Tuesday night the negatives outweighed the positives, and on Wednesday, just the opposite.
Wednesday had flow with no disjointed song selections, and no horrible forced transitions (Hello Ghost). Mann2 had ENERGY. Not sure if it was because of the storm's delay which made everyone tired and cranky, but there was none.

I'm not going to do a song-by-song breakdown, but during the Mike's> Crosseyed that place was bopping, and I was worried that a Hydrogen (or even a Simple) would kill all of that energy so late in the 2nd set. That Sally was PERFECTLY PLACED. May not have been 100% perfectly played, but that really didn't matter.

I'll download Mann1 cuz it was free with the ticket, but I'll download Mann2 because I'll want to hear it again.
, comment by FACTSAREUSELESS
FACTSAREUSELESS @PennPhan said:
What's interesting is that this reviewer went into the show (apparently) looking for positives, while others are hopping on the negatives. To me, Tuesday night the negatives outweighed the positives, and on Wednesday, just the opposite.
Wednesday had flow with no disjointed song selections, and no horrible forced transitions (Hello Ghost). Mann2 had ENERGY. Not sure if it was because of the storm's delay which made everyone tired and cranky, but there was none.

I'm not going to do a song-by-song breakdown, but during the Mike's> Crosseyed that place was bopping, and I was worried that a Hydrogen (or even a Simple) would kill all of that energy so late in the 2nd set. That Sally was PERFECTLY PLACED. May not have been 100% perfectly played, but that really didn't matter.

I'll download Mann1 cuz it was free with the ticket, but I'll download Mann2 because I'll want to hear it again.
Very good counterpoint and a nice balance to what I'm driving at with my post above.
, comment by GottaJibboo_2
GottaJibboo_2 Is there something about the opening chords of Sing Monica that leaves people with the physical inability to "get their dance on"? Seems like a very dance-able song to me.
, comment by happyhappyohmytela
happyhappyohmytela The horse will return this, the year of the wooden horse says the chinese zodiac.
, comment by lastubbe
lastubbe Nice job with the recap chilly. Not easy to write under the gun but when it works it works.
, comment by FACTSAREUSELESS
FACTSAREUSELESS @MDosque said:
Just got back to DC from my trip home to Philly and the Mann. I have to say that I enjoyed this show more than Tuesday - here's why... Trey was absolutely on and the general interplay between band members was to notch. I felt like Tuesday the couldn't really get it going on the same page but this was a Trey show through and through. He was motivated, happy, and focused on some serious guitar work. Sure, a lot of it was "type 1" but I don't really care about those distinctions. He was VERY creative within all of the songs of the first set in particular. I used Sugar Shack to hit the facilities and when I came back Alaska was just kicking in. I don't really like the song, but again, Trey came to play. He sounded terrific. The Antelope was psychedelic fire with the echo effects coming in really handy making it my favorite version seen in 3.0 out of 3 (I think - Bader 2012 and one of the MPP shows). This version was smoking. The CDT was beautiful and was truly a group effort that paid off for me. Loved the Wingsuit placement and while I like Winterqueen a LOT, I felt like the crowd did sag a little and if Wingsuit went into something old school, this set would have the entire fanbase screaming epic. Good version, but perhaps not the best placement on this night. Twist was ok and because I smartly chugged water (and a lot of beer) I went again during Waste. I love Waste, but after seeing in from the MPP pit last summer 10 feet from Trey, I felt comfortable exploring the lawn during it. Mike's was pure fire off the hook straight through the Groove, which again, I think was the best I've seen since the 90's. All in all, what makes a great show for me is the energy, intention, and quality of playing no matter what the song choices really are. This night had it big time and the band was very collaborative with Trey taking the main lead - which is just how I like it. Great little two-night stand with Wed edging out Tuesday in my opinion.
Nice comments, and I heard the show pretty much the way you did with a few minor differences. Agree that the energy was terrific. Trey seemed almost too hyped-up, which historically causes him to make mistakes (like all of us) and I think his flubs (which were frequent this evening!) were a result of over-zealousness rather than lack of focus. I also loved the CDT. This version is not getting enough talk. Someone above said it was rather directionless but I don't agree with that at all. I thought it was beautiful, cohesive, very exploratory and edgy. Loved it. I also loved the Wingsuit> Winterqueen combo. I know I already said that above but it bears repeating. In fact, on an evening of excellent overall musicianship, I actually find that Winterqueen to be the most haunting and memorable moments of the show. Really excellent.

The Mike's and Antelope were very unique and extremely well-played. Sally was butchered at the start but at that point who cares? The show finished very strong.
, comment by whistlindixy
whistlindixy Its all about the whistling
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