Friday 01/02/2015 by TheEmu

MIAMI2 RECAP: FROM SUCK TO BLOW

Some dates are loaded with history. For Phish, January 1 is not one of those dates. Not that there is no history – 1/1/11 is a tremendous show – but until last night, that was the extent of the Phish shows on New Year’s Day. So, with a sample size of one awesome show, what expectations should we have for Miami2? Well, none. It’s our favorite band, they’ve been playing at a very high level, and we’re probably in for some surprises. That’s good enough, so on with the show.


Photo © Phish @phish_ftr

Tube” is a capable opener and sets the show mode to Dance Party right away. “Gumbo” follows, with fight bell and clap pedal stirred into the mix, and an assertive piano outro turns full-band blues jam for just a moment. “David Bowie” next? Yeah, why not! That’s an exciting call for early first set, and I like the way it works out. “Bowie” is not overly ambitious, but it does make a few interesting moves before Trey, quite honestly, shreds it up one side and down the other. An amusing “Lawn Boy” then includes Page Side and Mike Side shout outs, and we get a little more blues, this time as “Undermind” reveals its slow-boogie underbelly.

One of the treats to take away from this show is how well Trey plays. After ripping apart “Bowie,” he shows some TLC to “Yarmouth Road,” making for one of the better versions of that Cactus reggae project. I can’t really pay the same compliment to the ensuing “Wingsuit,” a song I love, but I like what Trey is trying to do with it, channeling his inner Coltrane. Also, there’s an unfortunate ending to such a serious song when Mike, uh, drops a meatball, so to speak. But, onward and hopefully upward, with a quick “Poor Heart” and a “Bathtub Gin” closer. Wait, closer? That was quick. But yes, an uneventful if spirited “Gin” is all she wrote for this pleasing first set.


Photo © Phish @phish_ftr

Twist” just kind of casually strolls in to start the second frame, gets the lay of the land, loosens up, and throws down. Way down, down and dirty, and eventually making way for “Piper.” There are parts of this “Piper” that I love, particularly the pulsing wormhole they enter around 6:45 and the gorgeous minute before the segue into “Prince Caspian.” This show doesn’t have the hour of jaw-dropping artistic brilliance that NYE had, but this little section of “Piper” is cut from the same cloth. “Caspian” wants to get in on the act, too, and gives an extra push at the end before the segue to “Twenty Years Later.” I will attempt to be diplomatic about the “20YL” and say that I am apparently not the target audience for this jam. Someone who enjoys it, please feel free to extol its virtues in the comments section.


Photo © Phish @phish_ftr

Winterqueen” is, without question, the song from Fuego that has grown on me the most, and this version shows why. Trey is on point, quickly taking this jam over and making it fly, and if you don’t think so, you are a “Winterqueen” hater (of which, apparently, there are some). It is, however, the last highlight from what would turn out to be a truncated second set to go with a diminutive first. As much as I like the “Winterqueen,” I’m not sure a “Wading” sized breather was called for, and the “Antelope,” while good, sounded rushed, and siphoned off a bit of show stopping power from “Rock And Roll” (which was also a strong, shreddy version). The cumulative result of this is an odd *clunk* and brief “Meatstick” encore at the end of a show that I otherwise enjoyed quite a bit.

Trey says goodnight and asks everyone to “come back” tonight, which I am excited to have the chance to do from my living room. In my humble opinion, as well as the opinion of some of this site’s users (as of this writing, 1/1/15 has a slightly better rating than the rained out Northerly Island show with the two song second set), this was a “below average-great” show. It’s OK. There were quite a few things that I enjoyed, and as they showed on Wednesday night (again), IT can happen at any moment. You get that feeling, anyway.


Photo by @languagestrange

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Comments

, comment by bertoletdown
bertoletdown I won't go into any detail here but I liked the 20 YL jam a lot once it got going.

The problems last night were hard to miss. The meat of the second set can't consist of 3 precious ballads in 4 songs and send you away feeling sated. There is something to be said for the band playing what they are feeling, and clearly they were feeling very tired, very sedate, and maybe even a little brittle last night. The rhythm section had a very tough time from the beginning of the show to the end of the show just holding down a tempo or a groove. There were lots of bewildered looks shared between band members as well.

Hey, it happens. They don't get to pick their off nights. They'll get back on their horse and hopefully knock out a couple facemelters tonight and tomorrow.
, comment by Dog_Faced_Boy
Dog_Faced_Boy Nicely written Tim, as always. I don't give the show ratings a lot of credence, but in this instance, I think this show is one that is being unfairly given a low rating. I guess we're all jam hunters at heart, and that's the one element that is really missing from this performance - the sort of exploratory, free-form improvisation we all expect. On the other hand, while I haven't heard the entire show, I've listened to most of it (not Yarmouth Road or Wingsuit yet), and have yet to run across any glaring miscues, misfires, or whale calls from Trey. In fact Trey plays many of the songs very well, albeit in a purely straightforward manner. Yes, I know there are a lot of Caspian haters out there, but this is actually a very good and inspired "standard" version. Same for Gumbo, Gin, Twist, Piper, Winterqueen, R&R. In that sense, this reminds me of the show from Canandaigua this summer which also was very tight and well played, but had few exploratory moments. I'm sure the band will get back on the improv-oriented bent, but they shouldn't be penalized for playing well, but inside the box. They also shouldn't be rewarded, but the present rating seems punitive.
, comment by Stars_Suck
Stars_Suck For those who need a primer on jams for Twenty Years Later, please please please visit 10/19/10 Augusta, ME for a true face melting experience from the Fuck Your Face Through FEFY, including a wild guitar solo and jam on Twenty. Don't miss it...
, comment by ProfJibboo
ProfJibboo A well written honest piece. I happen to love Prince Caspian, 20 years later and Wading. But Prince Caspian > 20 Years Later > Winterqueen > Wading combo just confirmed to me that Trey had some sort of cold, because it felt like he just ran out of energy.

In the future, this second set will actually be pretty darn perfect for those nights when you just want to relax on the couch and listen to some "chill" vibe tunes. But if you were standing there on the floor, in the moment, it will likely get some bad reviews.
, comment by bertoletdown
bertoletdown If you pizza when you should be French frying you're gonna have a bad time...
, comment by MOstGhoSt
MOstGhoSt cloud tour - ( i don't have a couch ) this concert was an excellent experience from home - drinking good wine, cooking comfort food in a warm kitchen with harsh cold beyond the windows. taking moments between other moments to pause and focus on the concert and experience, writing notes and playing with twitter... i had a wonderful time of it and felt happily connected to my friends who are in miami.

i know why some of my local friends object this concert. i am choosing to experience the music less critically. the overall tone of the show seems somewhat melancholic. as berteletdown said - "three precious ballads in 4 songs does not work as meat for a second set" ( i am paraphrasing )

i really enjoyed Twenty Years Later last night and the very basic poetic quality of the lyrics. i may have listened more closely last night than previous occasions when i was at a live concert. i enjoyed the jam in this song as well. sometimes and often i hear the same songs in new and differnet ways.

i did not hear anything last night that i would move to my ipod for continuous repeating while traversing subway stations, but i enjoyed my personal experience overall. ( and my dog was happy i was at home with her )

thank you emu for this nice straight forward review.
, comment by redbandana19
redbandana19 I rarely comment on these reviews/recaps, but I felt compelled to say that that writeup was extremely well done, quite thorough and good 'n honest.
, comment by Jestinphish
Jestinphish Share your feelings about Winterqueen. Thought it was decent when I first heard it, but it has become on e of my new faves. I think it has some really huge potential.
, comment by thephisherman
thephisherman I loved this second set. Great song flow and lots of good Type 1 fire
, comment by FACTSAREUSELESS
FACTSAREUSELESS @Jestinphish said:
Share your feelings about Winterqueen. Thought it was decent when I first heard it, but it has become on e of my new faves. I think it has some really huge potential.
My personal small hope before the run was that Winterqueen would get expansive treatment this year and was thrilled to see it show up in late 2nd set treatment. The song strikes me as a more optimistic and uplifting version of Bug, with bright ethereal space that the band usually thrives in, ala Theme, Bag, and Hood.
, comment by Roachdog74
Roachdog74 I attended the show in person. The band did play well, but I am questioning the song selection. In a standard 4 night run, I would have expected a few more gems in their arsenal. Was hoping for a DWD, Wilson, Slave, Zero, 2001, Cavern, Fluffhead, Divided Sky, PYITE, etc.........they never played them. Were they saving it all for the last night? Sets also seemed short. Maybe the band was truly tired from the evening before. Well played gentlemen, but not my favorite bunch of songs.
, comment by mgouker
mgouker I thought this was the best first set of the run. It was short but I thought it was well played and the Gin was a great way to close it.

The second set did not have the usual construction with the deep jams, but each song was pretty well played. I will grant that it was ballad-heavy, but what is so wrong with that as long as the band is playing well? I thought it was actually refreshing to stray from the formula a bit.

Also, I so much more prefer Winterqueen in this second set slot. What a beautiful song and there are great dynamics in the jam. Moreover, Trey is enjoying himself and shredding like a ninja.

Twenty Years Later was the high point of the set for me. I took a long time to warm to it (I actually thought it was a pretty bad song for a while), but it seems to be blossoming since the Reading show, revealing power hitherto unknown. Plus, it has a wonderful classic rock hook. It's also a bit of a rarity, so it was a treat.

With respect to Wading in the Velvet Sea... (and this is especially to the dumb f*cks who were booing) Trashing Velvet Sea was already old at Coventry, but Page's tears mean more to me than your "opinion" of what is great music or not. Velvet Sea is a heartfelt message and if you can't get it, you ought to probably find something else to do. "I've been waiting for this song to pee"... Really? REALLY? You're not special. You are not some connoisseur of epicurean vibe. You are just stupid.
, comment by FACTSAREUSELESS
FACTSAREUSELESS @bertoletdown said:
If you pizza when you should be French frying you're gonna have a bad time...
And this
, comment by FACTSAREUSELESS
FACTSAREUSELESS @mgouker said:

With respect to Wading in the Velvet Sea... (and this is especially to the dumb f*cks who were booing) Trashing Velvet Sea was already old at Coventry, but Page's tears mean more to me than your "opinion" of what is great music or not. Velvet Sea is a heartfelt message and if you can't get it, you ought to probably find something else to do. "I've been waiting for this song to pee"... Really? REALLY? You're not special. You are not some connoisseur of epicurean vibe. You are just stupid.
Thank you. Couldn't have said it any better. So I won't try.
, comment by Commander_Riker
Commander_Riker If no one has said this, then I will.
If you partied like I did on NYE, you welcomed a short 2nd night of the run. Considering the number of after shows in town, it was still the longest night for me. 6AM long.
The boys knew we were pretty tuckered out from the night b4 because they brought it.
I actually get IT.
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