Friday 07/24/2015 by Doctor_Smarty

BEND II RECAP: MERCURY RISING

“Look, man I've got certain information alright? Certain things have come to light, and uh, ya know, has it ever occurred to you, that uh, instead of uh, you know running around, uh uh, blaming me, given the nature of all this new shit, you know it, it it, this could be a uh, a lot more uh, uh, uh, uh, complex, I mean it's not just, it might not be, just such a simple, uh--you know?”

I had been asking for Phish to play in Bend for five years. Finally it has happened… to great effect. During the weeks that preceded the two Phish shows at the Les Schwab Amphitheater, several things were prevalent in the news. The region was embroiled in a sweltering and seemingly interminable heat wave. Due to a well-written but inarguably stale (to a geologist) piece in The New Yorker, the impending destruction of the Pacific Northwest by a massive megathrust earthquake and the accompanying tsunami it will spawn finally became a point of concern for everybody. Recreational cannabis is now legal. The New Horizons probe was beaming back our first high resolution views of the ice mountains and hydrocarbon lakes on Pluto. El Chapo is once again on the loose and threatening current Republican Presidential candidate front-runner El Donald with assassination. A robot passed a self-awareness test shortly after another had killed a man. Trey was playing guitar with the Grateful Dead. In other words… new shit was coming to light… and things were getting deliciously weird.


Photos by @tweeprise

Expect the unexpected is my early take on this summer tour. Only one show down and already three new songs had been played. Night two had to settle into a more familiar place, right? A patient, thoughtfully communicative “Stash” to open the show suggested that might be the case. The Phish debut of the Mike Gordon/Scott Murawski penned “How Many People Are You?” which followed destroyed that notion immediately. Imagine “Alabama Getaway” being played by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. What a tight fucking groooooooove. Hair follicles still tingling. I am hearing the Chilling, Thrilling Sounds of the Haunted House all over this one. Fishman is a beast. The question of the previous night was back... “What is going ON? Is this another new song?”

A pretty pleasing “Winterqueen” provided a cerebral massage that allowed me to ponder what else may be coming this evening. Trey and Page extol the virtues of The Teaches of Peaches and we get right back into fucking the pain away for real. A burning question for a decade or so has been, what the hell happened to the second jam in “Mike’s Song” anyway? The Phish debut of Page McConnell’s “Heavy Rotation” finally provided the answer. At this point, this show was starting to feel a lot like the 2/26/03 Worcester Centrum gig that featured a side project debut from every band member. Unexpectedly awesome.


Photo by Dave Vann © Phish 2015

Whatever Trey did to prepare for the Fare Thee Well gigs is really on display in “Back on the Train”... so many notes, great tone, a walk down the “Streets of Cairo” thrown in for good measure. Loving every moment of this. Did I mention Fishman is just crushing the beats? The Phish debut of Trey’s “Scabbard” artfully weaves threads of “Reba” with strains of “Fluffhead” and “Harry Hood” jams before decaying into a gorgeous outro that actually caused tears of joy to well up from somewhere deep within.

The manic haze of the “Maze” which followed caused that brief moment of sensitivity to run screaming, hair ablaze with a few strong “How Many People Are You?” teases along the way. Hot stuff. Exceedingly tight. But wait… there’s more. The fourth new Phish song, “Mercury” is a lyrical exploration of Mercury the planet, the messenger god, the element, and the pigment adorning the tomb of a Mayan queen beneath a limestone block pyramid at Palenque. A Marimba Lumina bridge transports us into an unbreakable safety net with a “Tweezer” cum “Help On the Way” outro jam and you have another winner. Awesome “Possum.”


Photo by Dave Vann © Phish 2015

The second set was a thematic construct based off the Cascadia Subduction Zone fears that had permeated the regional consciousness earlier in the month. A soaring “A Song I Heard the Ocean Sing” coupled with an invigorating splash through shimmering “Waves” was feeding me images of earthquakes and tsunami and the future cataclysm awaiting the Pacific Northwest. Rather than dwell on the potential horror of such an occurrence, I was carried aloft by the music and realized I was standing in a place that would be completely safe from that future moment of doom. The “Waves” outro jam veers into ambient space with some deep texture and augurs the next flight via “Wingsuit.” Another passionate rendition. Perfect placement. Killer skies. Get after it Trey! Third quarter very mellow and cerebral. Deep thoughts achieved.


Photo by Dave Vann © Phish 2015

The back to back combo of “Farmhouse” and “Simple” made my wife very happy. But who can blame her? A soulful and sweet embrace followed by some deep dark dirty grime. I stomped a hole in the ground during “First Tube” which despite a few clams was searing in its intensity. A “Bathtub Gin” encore? When was the last time that happened? Over nineteen years ago (7/12/96 Melkweg, 643 shows ago). The day I told my boss in Reading, Pennsylvania that I had decided to move to Oregon and set in motion the long incredible chain of events that had lead to the exact moment I was experiencing in real life. This was a true family affair. Thanks to all of you who participated both here and at home. Team Acaster shall remain perpetually mind blown by everything. Happy to be heading south. See you at Shoreline.

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


Official Bend Poster • 18x24 Limited Edition of 700 • By Jackson Tupper

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Comments

, comment by bt7676
bt7676 Too much acid at the show???...odd review
, comment by tubescreamer
tubescreamer Great review! I like how you connected the dots in the news. I can see the band being like, what would we do if a tsunami hit and we ran away from the waves? Well we would go inland, welcome a farmhouse, and get it simple because we have a bend.
, comment by Dressed_In_Gray
Dressed_In_Gray Nice read. Enjoyed it very much.

You could have talked a little more about that Simple, but then again, others sure will do that for you.
, comment by ucpete
ucpete I wish I could write intros like this to all my reviews. Though the second set was quite short (just a shade over an hour) and though they forewent playing "Hood" after "Gin", the second set was wonderfully constructed. "ASIHTOS", with not one but two major mode departures perfectly woven into the jam, and "Waves" puddling into that dark ambience with a well-place BOMB from Mike really set the stage for "Wingsuit". "Farmhouse" was in the box, but perfect, and "Simple" touched on some of the themes toyed with in recent renditions of "Theme" -- a Floydian affair for sure. And that was probably the most melodic playing I've heard from Trey in a non-TAB "First Tube" in 3.0. He is playing so well... great job Marty, see everyone tomorrow!
, comment by braindeadr
braindeadr What s the deal with that cool bird? I have seen it in the pics but I ve not seen any mention of it in reviews. Is it something at the venue or is it the band's? Either way it s really neat but I'm curious about it. It would be quite a change if it is the band's. They haven t used anything except the lights since like'94.
, comment by ColForbin
ColForbin @braindeadr said:
What s the deal with that cool bird? I have seen it in the pics but I ve not seen any mention of it in reviews. Is it something at the venue or is it the band's? Either way it s really neat but I'm curious about it. It would be quite a change if it is the band's. They haven t used anything except the lights since like'94.
It belongs to the venue, and was painted by an artist named Erin Sayer. Here's her homepage:

http://www.erinsayer.com
, comment by Piper72
Piper72 "Heavy Rotation" has the potential to be a barnburner, just wish they had kept it in the same key it was on Page's album, seems like it would have been easier for him to sing. Hopefully they'll work it out and give it another go. Plus I love the Ben Folds-ness of the vocal melody.
, comment by Ravinus
Ravinus For a show that I thought was great and with several highlights, this review was lacking in substance. For example, that spectacular jam in Simple barely got its own recognition. Just saying.
, comment by whatstheuse324
whatstheuse324 Awesome review. I watched both nights on the webcast and was very impressed with how tight the band is playing just two shows into the tour. Here are a few of my observations from night two:

*That was one of the best versions of Maze I heard in recent times. Both Page and Trey took their time absolutely killing it.

*Where is the new Pork Tornado song?

*Fishman's Marimba Lumina outro to Mercury was beautiful. I love to see him not only contribute as the heart beat of the band, but also provide his own melody with notes in addition to beats.

*I love Page ripping solos in Possom. Correct me if I'm mistaken, but I first remember him doing this at Randall's Island night 3 last year. He crushed that one too. That should be standard from now on.

*Mike is rocking black nail polish these days. He is so Emo. Love it.

*Trey is on another level. I knew from watching the GD50 shows that Trey was going to apply his immense experience from that project into this summer. Two shows in, he is playing flawlessly, with confidence, and making excellent musical decisions. Even the outro solo in Farmhouse was played to perfection.

*In my opinion, Simple was the song of the night, which is saying a lot, because there were some peaks along the way.

*My hope is that Phish continues to build or at least maintain this level of pristine playing as they move east, I'll be waiting for them at the Mann in Philly and Magnaball.

Cheers
, comment by SmokeyJonez
SmokeyJonez Thanks for referring to the new stuff as "Phish Debuts" instead of "new songs", as most are from the various side projects. Not sure why it bothers me, but it does when people call them "new".

I wasn't at the show, but really enjoyed the feel of the 2nd set from start to finish. Would love a little more "out there" jamming but there is a whole tour ahead for that I guess.
, comment by aburtch
aburtch Did anyone else hear a "Psycho Killer" tease / vibe from about 6:43 to 7:30 in "Simple"?

Loving all the new tunes. They'll figure out which one's work and hammer them out as the tour progresses. Looking forward to Raleigh.
, comment by FACTSAREUSELESS
FACTSAREUSELESS Great review. I enjoyed your takes last year very much and I love your style.

The music. Man, tears everywhere. Such beauty.

Trey must've stepped into a time warp over the summer because I haven't heard him play this well in a long time. And the rest of the band is loving it.

Just watched the Gin again (thanks folks for posting!) and it's just fire. Like a dab of Ghost Pepper on slow-cooked chili.
, comment by ForgeTheCoin
ForgeTheCoin IMO, Scabbard is something to be really excited about. A new tune that gets back to a 90's songwriting style with complex written parts and minimal vocals... a tune that has the capacity to be a chameleon and transition seamlessly into other tunes as they did nicely > Maze here. Love it. Digging some of the other new material too but this one really stands out.
, comment by davey0110
davey0110 @bt7676 said:
Too much acid at the show???...odd review
The only strange part to me was claiming the debut of Page's tune Heavy Rotation was the answer to the absence of the second jam in Mike's Song.

Does that make sense to anybody?
, comment by InsectEffect
InsectEffect @factsareuseless Trey did indeed step into a wormhole recently:

"So when I'm home, I play through a little Fender amp, and that's fine, but I never get to play through my rig. When I got off the road last, I rented a tiny space, and blocked it for about two and a half months, and I told my crew guys to set my whole rig up in this little, tiny, windowless room, and every day I wake up, walk down the street, go to this room, and lock myself in there for five hours a day. And I changed the kind of speakers that I use, and I got new tubes, and some new effects, so I'm like a little kid in there playing with my amp [laughs]. It's what I do every day. The other thing is that I had to learn 90 Dead songs. So I basically go in there, and I learn Dead songs, and then spend five hours playing. That's pretty much what I've been doing, I've been going deaf. It's been really fun."

http://www.rollingstone.com/music/features/trey-anastasio-on-phishs-bond-his-man-cave-and-the-deads-big-gigs-20150624#ixzz3gq84KN6V

Also, @doctor_smarty, review was a bit late, but worth the wait. What you pointed out about "Heavy Rotation" and the missing 2nd "Mike's Song" jam? Wow.
, comment by trogas
trogas Hold up...a robot passed a self-awareness test?!
, comment by whatstheuse324
whatstheuse324 @InsectEffect said:
@factsareuseless Trey did indeed step into a wormhole recently:

"So when I'm home, I play through a little Fender amp, and that's fine, but I never get to play through my rig. When I got off the road last, I rented a tiny space, and blocked it for about two and a half months, and I told my crew guys to set my whole rig up in this little, tiny, windowless room, and every day I wake up, walk down the street, go to this room, and lock myself in there for five hours a day. And I changed the kind of speakers that I use, and I got new tubes, and some new effects, so I'm like a little kid in there playing with my amp [laughs]. It's what I do every day. The other thing is that I had to learn 90 Dead songs. So I basically go in there, and I learn Dead songs, and then spend five hours playing. That's pretty much what I've been doing, I've been going deaf. It's been really fun."

http://www.rollingstone.com/music/features/trey-anastasio-on-phishs-bond-his-man-cave-and-the-deads-big-gigs-20150624#ixzz3gq84KN6V

Also, @doctor_smarty, review was a bit late, but worth the wait. What you pointed out about "Heavy Rotation" and the missing 2nd "Mike's Song" jam? Wow.
Thanks for posting that article.
, comment by MarvinTheMartian
MarvinTheMartian great review. can't wait to see what they pull out tonight!
, comment by philanthropist
philanthropist Right on Brother o' hermana!!! Haters gonna hate!! Well done!
, comment by truebliss
truebliss Watched the show on HD on demand. Love the Hunter S. Thompson Gonzo review with references to The Big Lebowski. I am never one to pontificate on what the band should or shouldn't do. Shouldn't we just cherish every moment they are playing together? A creative, insightful review like the one above does help us cherish the glorious music all the more. Let's do everything we can to kee the scene healthy and strong for many more years of Phish.
, comment by LeverGirl0
LeverGirl0 Excellent review, thank you! The band is playing tight. Trey is on fire artistically. The songs have been reborn. Listening to the debuts of songs is a special treat! Each of them so far has already embedded into my heart and soul. I Love them! I have no fitting words to string together about Trey's playing. It's outer worldly. He plays like nobody else does. His style is tight, loose, free and light. It's his own and I'm really melding into it! His soul is exposed and his Jedi ESP has been honed in and zoned in. Right into MY soul. Since the New Years shows last year I've been on his plane and somehow his brain to some extent. The less I think the more I'm there with him. Haven't been to a show yet this tour but recovered the messages loud and clear from the webcasts. (For which I am humbly grateful) See you at Alpine!
, comment by girlwiththevikingtattoo
girlwiththevikingtattoo This Simple is heavy. Fight Bell> blast off.
Page lays down a dark groove and him and Trey easily lock in, taming an evil beast.
Then there's some cool stop/start type action to end it.
, comment by GAphishin
GAphishin @ucpete said: "ASIHTOS", with not one but two major mode departures perfectly woven into the jam, and "Waves" puddling into that dark ambience with a well-place BOMB from Mike really set the stage for "Wingsuit".

Dude you spoke exactly what I was feeling while listening to this show!

That first set was altering! The second set felt like a long, long sweet meander. That canoe on the the poster is perfect for what I experienced!

Glorious show boys!
, comment by no_passouts
no_passouts @bt7676 said:
Too much acid at the show???...odd review
A+ recap, brother

Review had feel. Review had personal connections. Review had weirdness. Wish more were like this. I can get the song timings outta iTunes. You gave us something deeper.

Thanks, Smarty!
, comment by Doctor_Smarty
Doctor_Smarty Thanks for reading and taking the time to share your feelings everybody. Just got back home to Oregon from Shoreline and the Forum. WOW...they just keep on getting better. Really wanted to stay out on the road.

Looking forward to the rest of the run...expect more surprises along the way.
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