Wednesday 07/22/2015 by Dog_Faced_Boy

BEND I: LET'S GET THIS SHOW ON THE ROAD

Heading into my fourth consecutive summer tour opener, I feel like I've been to enough of these launchpad shows to learn what to expect: nothing, just enjoy the moment. As tours progress and the band gets tighter and more oiled simultaneously, the shows tend to get better; it's been almost seven months since the band walked off the stage in Miami after a successful run of shows. Since then, Trey famously performed as sideman for another band of lore, and Mike had a well-received tour with his revamped touring ensemble. In any case, there's a certain excitement in the air when these guys walk out on stage for the first time in a while. The fans of course add to that energy, but you can also see it on the faces of Mike, Page, Fish and Trey when they plug in and get set to hit that first note of summer. Enjoy the friends and fans who travelled from afar to see the boys from Vermont, and chances are, Phish will offer up a surprise or two that you hadn't anticipated.

Bend is a hip, smallish city located on the eastern slope of the Cascade Mountains in central Oregon. The cool/crunchy downtown reminds me of Burlington, VT in some ways, and there's tons to do in the area. The Les Schwab Amphitheater is small by Phish’s standards with a capacity of 8,000 and offers the appeal of both a picturesque Western setting and relatively intimate size.


7/21/15 SetlistLive Phish Official Sounboard Download

Once inside the venue it was easy to get situated just about anywhere you wanted. Because of a local noise ordinance which takes effect at 10:00 PM, Phish took the stage far earlier than customary, at 6:24 PM. Since sunset in Bend occurred at 8:41, CK5 had a less noticeable role with the lights during the first set and into the early part of the second. But cleverly, he pointed his digital LEDs out at the audience during the daylight portion, which added some interesting color to the foreground. Crystal clear skies were on order, and a warm but not hot temperature of about 81F° prevailed as the band hit the stage.


Photo @brianfeller

The first set featured a healthy dose of funk-infused songs, including “Sand,” “555,” “Tube,” and “Wolfman's Brother.” “Sand” arriving in the number two slot after the crowd pleasing “Sample” opener took many by surprise, but the surprise was welcome, and the whole place was immediately bopping to the crescendo-oriented groove. Interspersed with the funkier songs were a variety songs from the Phish canon, including the debut of the Trey/Tom Marshall original, “Blaze On.” The crowd seemed to laugh a lot during the lyrical portion of the song, and at first, it seemed a bit sing-song-like. But once the jam portion began, this new number suggested some great potential for future improvisation. None of the songs from the first set had noteworthy jams. On the other hand, the band sounded well rehearsed, and the playing was spot on with the exception of “Horn” which seemed to give Trey some troubles. But he made up for it in spades, and he gets my vote for the MVP of Bend I. Clearly, his efforts with the Grateful Dead are paying dividends now with Phish. Following another crescendo-oriented jam in “Wolfman's,” the band departed for set break at 7:37.


Photo © Phish From the Road

When Phish retook the stage at 8:11, the sun was mostly down and the temperature had dropped to a comfortable 73F°. The second set would prove to be similar in many ways to the first. While there were no major jams of note, the playing was excellent, there was an abundance of funk, and the band debuted two more songs. “Fuego” seemed like it had the most potential to stretch out for a ride, but instead the band decided to transition to another new song, “Shade.” While this song seems to have a bit of a ballad quality that some fans viewed as an opportunity to hit the restrooms, I thought Trey's solo was excellent, and another example of the benefit of his work for the GD50 shows.


Photo © Phish From the Road

From there the band launched into another debut, “No Men In No Man's Land.” This song is great, perhaps the song highlight of the show, combining funk with a quick tempo and great syncopated play. It's a bit like “Tube,” but features more interplay between Trey and Page, and the dance-till-you-drop jam section lasted much longer than your garden variety “Tube.” Coupled with a solid “Weekapaug,” which was followed by Stevie Wonder's “Boogie On Reggae Woman,” as well as a benign “Ghost” at the beginning of the set, the funky theme was on display throughout the evening. A predictably rousing “Chalk Dust Torture” had the crowds pumping fists as the band left the stage for a brief encore break. Returning to the stage, the band closed the night with a strong “Theme,” and once again Trey's musicianship was excellent.


Photos © Phish From the Road

My takeaway from this show is twofold: First, Phish is absolutely not a nostalgia act, riding on a tsunami of songs written thirty or more years ago. Seven of the songs performed were either brand new, or are very recent. That they are continuing to write and play new music is a sign to me that these guys still mean business. And while the big improvisational jams were not a factor in tonight's show, at least a couple of the new songs seem to have great potential. The second is that this band is playing very well for the first show of the summer. With the exception of one hiccup in “Horn,” Trey sounded terrific all night, and both Mike and Page were their usual exemplary selves. The jams will come. But this was a great showing in terms of competent, cohesive playing. Meanwhile, a mix of funky dance-along songs and spirited peaking jams kept the crowd happy and engaged. And finally, for an east coaster seeing his first west coast show, Bend is a pretty damn sweet place to see a Phish concert in mid summer!


You can feel good about Mount Hood. Photo © Mike Gordon

Phish Summer 2015 – Setlists & Recaps
07/21/15 SetlistRecap – Bend 1
07/22/15 SetlistRecap – Bend 2
07/24/15 SetlistRecap, Recap2 – Shoreline
07/25/15 SetlistRecap – LA Forum
07/28/15 SetlistRecap – Austin
07/29/15 SetlistRecap – Grand Prarie
07/31/15 SetlistRecap – Atlanta 1
08/01/15 SetlistRecap – Atlanta 2
08/02/15 SetlistRecap – Tuscaloosa
08/04/15 SetlistRecap – Nashville
08/05/15 SetlistRecap – Kansas City
08/07/15 SetlistRecap – Blossom
08/08/15 SetlistRecap – Alpine 1
08/09/15 SetlistRecap – Apline 2
08/11/15 SetlistRecap – Mann 1
08/12/15 SetlistRecap – Mann 2
08/14/15 SetlistRecap – Raleigh
08/15/15 SetlistRecap – Merriweather 1
08/16/15 SetlistRecap – Merriweather 2
08/21/15 SetlistRecap – Magnaball 1
08/22/15 SetlistRecap – Magnaball 2
08/23/15 SetlistRecap – Magnaball 3
09/04/15 SetlistRecap – Dick's 1
09/05/15 SetlistRecap – Dick's 2
09/06/15 SetlistRecap – Dick's 3

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Comments

, comment by mustard_tiger
mustard_tiger Good recap, couldn't have said it better myself. Nothing blew me away but I am PSYCHED to see where No Men in No Man's Land ventures in the coming tour.
, comment by NigelTufnel
NigelTufnel While I agree that the band will continue to improve over the course of the tour, the devil's advocate in me wants to note that the "they sound good...for a tour opener" stance is kinda weak. Last year the band had the Jazz festival gig as well as plenty of rehearsal time due to Fuego prior to the solid Mansfield show which featured a huge Hood. The year before that, Bangor saw a really energetic and musically interesting performance that, bias aside, I found way more interesting and tight compared to last night's show. 2012 has Worcester 1...and that doesn't even count the second leg tour openers that have absolutely slayed the last few years.

The band will lock in. Last night seemed to have quite a few moments of the guys having ideas and not really syncing up or having the thoughts click among the four...we all know that won't last long.

Surprised at the new material. The band continues to do the unexpected.
, comment by Sprachtor
Sprachtor I am not sure new material voids out nostalgia but glad you enjoyed the show.

IMO too much creative energy going into other projects.

Also, I only heard portions of the show but I didn't necessarily feel trey transfered much from GD50.
, comment by Tiddlywinks
Tiddlywinks Was on couch tour last night and totally agree with the review of last night's show. Really interesting to see them roll out so many new songs in one show and totally agree that NMINML was a highlight. Trey's jam reminded me of the epic Cornell '77 Dancin' In The Streets with that funky uptempo guitar jam.

Would expect them to build on last night. Can't wait for Shoreline on Friday...will be my only show of the summer tour. Will they do a GD cover at Shoreline?
, comment by Harpua23
Harpua23 Trey was rocking the Envelope Filter he initially incl in his rig from GD50 on NMINML (& another song in Set I I'm forgetting) which gave it that Cornell '77 Dancin In The Streets Sound. So he has at least taken one thing from his GD50 experience.

Beyond adding that pedal, I found his playing last night to have been a little tighter & more melodic than normal which I also feel is a direct result of his GD50 blood, sweat & tears.

Fingers crossed that the taboo of covering Dead songs will also have ended as a result of GD50. It seems silly to deprive fans the joy of hearing the current best band in the world cover the former best band in the world's songs. Those songs are some of the best ever written and what a better way to honor their legacy than to keep them alive!!!
, comment by n00b100
n00b100 NMINML -> Weekapaug -> Boogie On (legit segues, the both) would brighten up any number of shows from this era (and a few from the other ones); maybe there's no journeys into the beyond or whatever, but the funkiness is in full effect and all of the songs saw their boundaries at least stretched (maybe not the debut's, but who knows). Slap something like the Portsmouth CDT on the front of this show and I think a lot of different songs would be sung this morning.

@Sprachtor said:
IMO too much creative energy going into other projects.
Yeah, why DID Trey agree to lock himself in a room for all those weeks intensely practicing on guitar just so he could play five shows with a bunch of dudes in their 60s and 70s?
, comment by jamra27
jamra27 Dying to hear the new songs -- if they played 3 at the opener could that mean there's more on the way? I'm resisting listening to them on tape because I'd rather first hear them live, so let's see if they reemerge for me starting at Mountain View!
, comment by drunkoldlady25
drunkoldlady25 Damn good recap. Felt the same way!
, comment by AlbanyYEM
AlbanyYEM As far as tour openers go, I think we've got some selective amnesia going from the past couple of years openers. Darling '13 was really sloppy just from a technical playing the songs perspective and featured an ok golden age as far as jams go. Seriously, go back and listen they definitely did not have their feet under them at that point. Mansfield. Hood. Other than that, it's a tremendously safe show, and I think the sheer novelty of getting a type ii hood (first since 03) left that show quite a bit higher in the collective memory than it really deserved.

Those aren't bad shows, don't get me wrong, but they are really weak compared to later shows in the tour, which is unsurprising. The 3.0 penchant for nailing the opener really hasn't been true since '12.

Of course I was disappointed when everyone but Trey stopped playing after that 2.0 sounding darkness from Trey in the Ghost (that ripcord wasn't on him), and also the tail end of Feugo which they could've ridden for another 10 minutes at least. But this show just turned on a dime with a NEW SONG providing the energy needed to make the show memorable. When was the last time a new song turned around the vibe of an entire set? Ever? Everything after that was pure funktastic lasergold.

Usually I'm the guy arguing with the placid apologists talking about how the type i tightness made up for the lack of big jams, but this time I swear it's true. Trey had been toying with the Jerry fanning/scrubbing for the past couple of years on songs like Slave and Wedge, and the one 'nod to Jer' (cringe) is the full embrace of the 77 style fanning to a peak. Hell, even Sample had quite an ending because of this. It just gives the jam such incredible power and I wouldn't be surprised if songs like Sand and Wolfman's are given this treatment in the vein of Fire and Deal, respectively.

But enough Dead talk. Trey's playing was inventive and melodic at a consistently high level the whole show. Check out the Feugo solo or the waterfall descending/ascending trills of the Weekapaug or the double stop funk of the rhythm/solo on No Man's blending perfectly with Page's clav work. Shit, even Devotion to a Dream is worth paying attention to. There were no *unintentional* missed root notes in the soloing, the sustain was strong on the melodic landing pads that needed to be emphasized, there was way less middle of the road pentatonic stuff, and Trey nailed the rhythm while still playing 16th and 32nd notes (something that's been a struggle in 3.0). This isn't just tightness we're talking about here, as in not screwing up Rift too badly, but the subtlety and inventiveness that made a '94 or '95 first set something to pay attention to even in lieu of any Spilts or Antelopes or Rebas.

I think this was the strongest show for Trey, just in terms of soloing, since June of '04. If that's not enough to give it a few more listens, I don't know what would be. I suspect that the fanbase (myself included) has become way more jam addicted because, quite frankly, the regular ass playing on regular ass songs has been pretty weak for the most part over the stretch of entire shows in this era. The importance of the show from this perspective is being able to say something like, man did you catch that devotion to a dream? I damn sure didn't expect to ever type that.
, comment by nichobert
nichobert I also hope the taboo on Dead songs has come to a close.

I'm not huge on the Dead outside of their most cosmic moments, but I'm a fan of any new cover that would bring a venue a joy tsunami
, comment by WickerAndCork
WickerAndCork Nice recap! I'd add that it seemed to me that the band was aware there would be many first time Phish concert attendees since Bend is an active and social town and lots of folks just want to see the acts that come through town. The song selections and the "accessible grooves" are further testament to this theory.

Thanks for the compliment, "Bend is a pretty damn sweet place to see a Phish concert in mid summer!" We are very stoked Phish and all you fans have come to our town to help us party down! -W
, comment by kidrob
kidrob Great review. I've only started listening, but it does seem like Trey is being more patient with the tempo of songs after playing with the Dead. I can't wait for Nashville in a little less than two week!
, comment by Lerxst
Lerxst I caught a Stash tease in the Wedge solo. Anyone else?
, comment by ckess22
ckess22 Trey was hot all night. Hard to believe anyone could hear his playing last night and not be stoked for tour.
, comment by LightsWentOut
LightsWentOut Three debuts of new material on a tour opener tells me the band is feeling confident. This was further backed up by how tight they were pretty much right out of the gate. The new tunes were also really well played and, in the case of Shade and NMINML at least, played like they had been in the repertoire for a while. People may have gone to the pisser for Shade, but it was a highlight for me and I was completely blown away by the amazing funk interplay on NMINML. That was just just plain fun to listen to. On the topic of things that have changed with Trey since NYE, I wanted to note that his tone has changed for the better. It is much smoother than before. Whatever tweaking he did in his woodshedding sessions was much appreciated by these ears.
, comment by adam42
adam42 @Lerxst said:
I caught a Stash tease in the Wedge solo. Anyone else?
Yep, 2 bars of Stash for sure.
, comment by wombat6889
wombat6889 @Harpua23 said:
Trey was rocking the Envelope Filter he initially incl in his rig from GD50 on NMINML (& another song in Set I I'm forgetting) which gave it that Cornell '77 Dancin In The Streets Sound. So he has at least taken one thing from his GD50 experience.

Beyond adding that pedal, I found his playing last night to have been a little tighter & more melodic than normal which I also feel is a direct result of his GD50 blood, sweat & tears.

Fingers crossed that the taboo of covering Dead songs will also have ended as a result of GD50. It seems silly to deprive fans the joy of hearing the current best band in the world cover the former best band in the world's songs. Those songs are some of the best ever written and what a better way to honor their legacy than to keep them alive!!!
dude i had just listened to that dead show earlier in the day. I love that dancing in the street and when i heard the "no men in no mans land" it sounded so similar! Im happy im not the only one who thought that! Such a sick new song!
, comment by FACTSAREUSELESS
FACTSAREUSELESS I've been harping on this issue for some time, and was one of those who would be counted as greatly underwhelmed at last year's offerings, save a few high moments.

The sloppiness and lack of attention to detail last year was far outweighing the joy of the ride in the long jams, to the point that there is hardly more than three shows from last year that I'm interested in listening to all the way through (okay, maybe only two).

I've been pining for a return to early nineties tightness without losing the ground they've gained in other areas, but this requires a committment to excellence and confidence in each other while on stage.

This show has me absolutely stoked. Beyond any reasonable hope, they may just give me what I've been looking for.

I think it's a bit knee-jerk to suggest that GD50 is responsible for Trey's sudden scholarly adherence to the fundamentals of his craft, but how can we not speculate?

I don't care if they cover and Dead tunes (though I'd love it), but I DO CARE A LOT that they adopt a more serious approach to great musicianship and set structure and flow.

Agree with all the above the new material bodes very well for this tour and testifies to where these guys are at...and they haven't even incorporated any of Mike's interesting new material yet.
, comment by thirdeye99
thirdeye99 Why do people bother commenting that didn't listen to the show? Anyway, I think you nailed the review and I couldn't be more excited for this summer. Trey practicing like a mad man is paying off in a huge way and we're lucky enough to experience it.
, comment by hdorne
hdorne @FACTSAREUSELESS said:
I've been harping on this issue for some time, and was one of those who would be counted as greatly underwhelmed at last year's offerings, save a few high moments.

The sloppiness and lack of attention to detail last year was far outweighing the joy of the ride in the long jams, to the point that there is hardly more than three shows from last year that I'm interested in listening to all the way through (okay, maybe only two).

I've been pining for a return to early nineties tightness without losing the ground they've gained in other areas, but this requires a committment to excellence and confidence in each other while on stage.

This show has me absolutely stoked. Beyond any reasonable hope, they may just give me what I've been looking for.

I think it's a bit knee-jerk to suggest that GD50 is responsible for Trey's sudden scholarly adherence to the fundamentals of his craft, but how can we not speculate?

I don't care if they cover and Dead tunes (though I'd love it), but I DO CARE A LOT that they adopt a more serious approach to great musicianship and set structure and flow.

Agree with all the above the new material bodes very well for this tour and testifies to where these guys are at...and they haven't even incorporated any of Mike's interesting new material yet.
^^This.
, comment by The_Nutty_Professor
The_Nutty_Professor This show was a fun listen, mostly because it sounds like the band was all having a good time. Love Trey's banter "We're All Here"... Interesting, loose vibe to the show that I am guessing was due at least in part to the small venue - almost like a Europe tour vibe...

Sand would probably be my favorite of the first set, maybe of the show. Agree with others that no jams really acquired liftoff but there were interesting components of the show nonetheless. Enjoyed 'Blaze', which along with NMINML I'm sure are destined to become crowd favorites and great jam platforms.

Page was HOT all night on the funky stuff - Tube, Wolfman's, Ghost, Mike's - although when is Page not hot...? His crunchy organs really sparkled at moments throughout the show.

Agree with the poster who compared Trey's jam in HMINML with the Jerry envelope filter to Barton Hall 77's Dancin'... exactly the vibe. Nice to hear this pedal has stayed in his pedal chain and really interested to hear where it will crop up in jams throughout this tour.

Yes, some sloppy moments throughout but overall I think the happy positive vibe overrides all that and portends a good run of summer shows to come.
, comment by JezmundBezerker
JezmundBezerker I was blessed to be able to attend these Bend shows, and I was blown away by how on point the band already seems. They're playing like a band that's already been on the road a few weeks, they are in absolute tip top form. But nobody mentioned the Halfway to the Moon...I was absolutely mesmerized by it in the first set. I thought it was an inspiring version. The Tube was super crunchy, the Wolfman's was fantastic, and I enjoyed the entire 2nd set. And the Theme encore was also on point.
, comment by jsauce
jsauce no jams in the first set, huh? i think a 10 minute sand counts. it, and how good it was, did catch me by surprise. it was my favorite moment of the night. trey sounded like he wasn't having to reach at all.
, comment by GAphishin
GAphishin I am so glad to be back in the Tour of 2015!

I loved the Sand. I loved Wolfman's closing of first set. The new songs were great. I kept thinking that Blaze on was nice. I, too, giggled in my yard while the vocals came through. But the willingness to explore the boundaries of both Blaze On and No Men in No Man's Land was wonderful!

Bend is my springboard from my days of old to the Southeastern hot springs of Oregon. To hear Phish playing live in the Bend would have been a joyous way to go!

Everyone gets a good night sleep. Even couch tourers in the East!
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