Monday 08/17/2015 by pzerbo

REGULAR SEASON FINALE; ON TO THE PLAYOFFS!

Never miss a Sunday show… so “they” say. Or if you must, at least read the recap! Let’s get right to the action from Sunday’s conclusion to the regular season portion of Phish’s summer 2015 tour at Merriweather Post Pavilion.

When Phish took the stage a little after 7:30, a few overzealous (and perhaps over-served) fans in the pit cheered for “Sleeping Monkey,” which was the encore the previous night. They responded with an extended full-band “Sleeping Monkey” tease, that LivePhish actually cut into its own track. But, no, this wouldn’t be a repeat of 6/18 & 6/19/10 when “Tweezer Reprise” closed a show and opened the next. A quick “Charge!” from Page and we were off to the races with “Golgi Apparatus.” “Golgi” has kicked off dozens of shows in its almost thirty-year history, though this was the first opener since 12/29/09 in Miami; “Golgi” was also a tour debut, having last been played last this past New Year’s Eve, also in Miami.


Photo © Merriweather Post Pavilion

“Golgi” yielded to turn-on-a-dime transition to “Undermind” that saw an energetic Page piano solo, followed by Trey taking a more relaxed turn at the helm. The always punchy “Julius” was a perfect energy balance for this spot in the show, and a great way to mix things up for a song that sees most of its action in set-closing or encore roles. Mike’s “555” was a bit of a stumble as the band seemingly couldn’t find the same page, with Trey finally showing at least a little interest for his late-song solo. The delightful Anastasio/Marshall composition “Nothing” was played for the first time since 6/7/12 Worcester (139 shows) and only the sixth time ever. “Nothing” is really a great song; if you don’t know it well, take a second to dig into the lyricsensconced! – and check out the original Amfibian version.


Photo by Rene Huemer © Phish From the Road

No Men In No Man’s Land” continues to jump around in a utility role and found yet another great mid set spot here. It’s funny how soon many fans establish their preferences to how a new song is deployed, as many are already vocally lobbying for more “second set treatment” with the jamming jets open for firing. While “Blaze On” and “Mercury” are both very likely candidates for long-term residency in the Phish repertoire, “NMINML” is all but a lock for Rookie of the Year. “Stash” hasn’t “gone big” this tour, but this was an enjoyable version with an almost swingy and relaxed calm, contrasted with the more traditional big tension and release dynamic. Near the end, though, the “Stash” jam turned delightfully weird in the more classic sense and concluded with a sharp, punctuated peak.

A quick huddle with Mike and Trey resulted in “David Bowie,” with an actual full-fledged if mostly uneventful intro, something that is more often than not skipped these days. The composed section of “Bowie” was a little rough, but the jam more than compensated. The early part of the jam was slow, trippy, almost Floydian, then a shift to a bright major key, which has been very typical of Phish’s jamming approach this tour, though relatively atypical for “Bowie.” This excellent “Bowie” jam also featured a brief but clear flirtation by Trey, and then Page, of the bridge between “China Cat Sunflower” and “I Know You Rider.” A smoking hot “Possum” put a wrap on this very good first set, with the last 40-minutes being especially vibrant and fun.


"David Bowie" – Photo © @tweeprise

Whenever Phish strings together a few great shows fans are quick to proclaim it “the best tour since…” or “the best tour in 3.0.” They’re almost always jumping the gun – they’ll be time enough for countin’ when the dealin's done. That said, one thing seems unambiguous, at least to this observer: first sets have made a notable and in many cases substantial improvement this tour. The floor is still pretty low (see Shoreline, Austin, Kansas City etc) but the ceiling has been raised a ton, with truly great first sets including Bend 2, Atlanta 1, Nashville, Alpine 2 and Mann 1. That’s a pretty big deal given where we’ve come from in recent years, so kudos to the band for what seems to be a conscious investment in making first sets matter; it’s working, and appreciated!


Photo by Rene Huemer © Phish From the Road

In a shocking development that sent overnight markets reeling, “Down with Disease” opened a Phish second set! If you just listen to the intro it may seem like a total trainwreck, but it seemed perhaps more likely a case of a little in-band joke, with Trey tweaking the intro line, “trying to stop these demons that are dancing in Mike’s head!” The “Disease” jam itself was solid if uneventful, staying close to the song’s vest in type-I space until the last minute or so when the “Disease” structure melted away with Trey offering hints of “Slave to the Traffic Light,” before they actually shifted into “Slave” proper. “Slave” was a great call in this spot and the unorthodox placement seemed to pump the song up with a little extra vitality, as it was more up-tempo than normal, very bright and bouncy, less lullabye-like, and very reminiscent of the 7/4/99 version in Atlanta.

The set is going well at this point, and those seeking the deep improv were thrilled to see the “Light.” This "Light" jam had a lot going for it, one potentially destined for greatness. Chris Kuroda was unleashing his full arsenal of psychedelic goodies and the band was purring along. Trey threw in a “Little Twelve Toes” (from Schoolhouse Rock) tease near the end, and we’re really going for peak liftoff, when Trey then deployed the fan's least favorite tool: the ripcord. The segue to "Twist" was pretty sweet in its own way, but Fish in particular was visibly pissed and expressed that through the transition (listen for his repeated, emphatic bass drum thumping, as if to say "no!").


"Possum" – Photo © @tweeprise

The last outing for “Twist” at The Mann was a 22-minute monster that many seasoned observers consider the best jam of the tour, so hopes were still riding high. But after a few brief minutes, Trey again shut it down, this time in favor of the Rolling Stones’ classic “Shine a Light” from Exile on Main St., the first Phish performance of the song since 7/20/13 at Chicago’s Northerly Island (91 shows). “Fuego” followed and had “under” bettors cashing their tickets early, as the jam segment of the song was omitted entirely resulting in the shortest performance of the song to date.

Sneakin’ Sally Through the Alley” came along at just the right time to give this set a much-needed lift, a little Hail Mary to evoke the spirit of 8/8/98! This version was odd and kinda cool, slower and funkier than usual, with Trey riding the echoplex and Page getting up (so that you can get… up?) over Fish and Mike’s impenetrable chunky groove. “You Enjoy Myself” would take the set home. This “YEM” was notable for Trey replacing his “boy” scream with, um, “motherfucker”! The post tramps jam featured more Trey and Mike shenanigans with close-up jamming followed by a back-to-back balance jamming routine, before they both climbed up on Fish’s drum riser pre-vocal jam. A “Backwards Down the Number Line” encore still left more than ten minutes before the 11pm curfew, but that was all she wrote.


Photo by Rene Huemer © Phish From the Road

So, Phish fans, that concludes the regular season, and quite the regular season it was! Phish dominated from coast to coast, offering a roster of shows that will – depending on what happens in the playoffs – make a very strong case for best tour of 3.0. This tour contains what is either the best or second best single show of 3.0, Mann2 (better than “FYF”? Tough call), and a roster of heavy hitters that seem to match up well with the cream of fall ‘13: MPP 1, Shoreline, Blossom, Atlanta 1, and Nashville are all solid top tier shows, while Alpine 2, Atlanta 2, Mann 1, The Forum, and even Bend 2 from so early in the tour are all worth your time to explore. We’ve had new songs, great jams, excellence spread across both sets, all the while without any major weather issues or other mishaps.

And now? The playoffs! Playoffs? On to Magnaball! And Dick’s! Be safe, folks… we’ll be back with coverage from Watkins Glen throughout next weekend. Let’s get it on!

-Phillip Zerbo


"You Enjoy Myself" – Photo © @tweeprise

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

If you liked this blog post, one way you could "like" it is to make a donation to The Mockingbird Foundation, the sponsor of Phish.net. Support music education for children, and you just might change the world.


Comments

, comment by aburtch
aburtch So happy to see them playing at the top of their game. Everyone is contributing and leaving it all on the field. As Harry says, "you can feel good" and so I have complete confidence this team will crush it in the playoffs.
, comment by PennPhan
PennPhan Funny how they played Sunday's show on Saturday and Saturday's on Sunday. Other than the Slave and the Bowie/Possum sticking their heads above the average line the show was totally average (for them...which still makes it better than most concerts). They raised the bar for the first set, only to lower it for the 2nd set.

We left disappointed after the BDTNL (that's a first set song) encore with nothing afterwards even though there was time left before curfew.

Are we sure that was Sunday AND at MPP?
, comment by sleepingmonkey_
sleepingmonkey_ Solid review. Wish all reviewers could be as streamlined as you.

Onwards to the Ball and Dicks!
, comment by Sprachtor
Sprachtor While I understand people will complain about the encore, it seems a little short-sighted to me. When you guys complete the best tour since the reunion with your 3 best friends maybe you will get why they played it.
, comment by andrewrose
andrewrose Onto the playoffs indeed. Nice recap. With the post-season berth firmly in place it's pretty common for a bit of a phoned-in regular season finale. No cause for concern there. Appreciate the survey of the tour-to-date as well.

Is 8/12/15 better than 8/31/12? Probably not, at least for my tastes. But it's certainly close. What's more important is that I think the other top-tier offerings from this tour (especially 7/31 and 8/7) come pretty close as well. I do think 8/12 is the best front to back show of the tour, but there's so much good stuff on offer. I would add 8/8 to the list of notable shows to check out. Don't know why I have a such a soft spot for this one.

Important point raised regarding first sets here too. While I'm sure 8/9 I was a blast in person, I'm much more into something like 7/31 I, that offers something substantive in the way of jamming. Combine the rarities / bustouts / segue sandwiches with a meaty jam or too and you've got yourself a perfect first frame. Good chance we'll see more of these in the post-season.

It hurts to not be seeing a show this tour, but I haven't been this engaged and tuned in years. Go Phish. Championship or bust.
, comment by whatstheuse324
whatstheuse324 Personally, I think Mann 1 is the best or second best first set of the tour, outside of Alpine 2. The Martian Monster thread throughout was excellent. I was at MPP 2 last night but have not had a chance to listen to MPP 1 yet. That looks like it rounds out the top three first sets in my opinion, and I was at both Mann shows.
, comment by raidcehlalred
raidcehlalred @andrewrose said:
Onto the playoffs indeed. Nice recap. With the post-season berth firmly in place it's pretty common for a bit of a phoned-in regular season finale. No cause for concern there. Appreciate the survey of the tour-to-date as well.

Is 8/12/15 better than 8/31/12? Probably not, at least for my tastes. But it's certainly close. What's more important is that I think the other top-tier offerings from this tour (especially 7/31 and 8/7) come pretty close as well. I do think 8/12 is the best front to back show of the tour, but there's so much good stuff on offer. I would add 8/8 to the list of notable shows to check out. Don't know why I have a such a soft spot for this one.

Important point raised regarding first sets here too. While I'm sure 8/9 I was a blast in person, I'm much more into something like 7/31 I, that offers something substantive in the way of jamming. Combine the rarities / bustouts / segue sandwiches with a meaty jam or too and you've got yourself a perfect first frame. Good chance we'll see more of these in the post-season.

It hurts to not be seeing a show this tour, but I haven't been this engaged and tuned in years. Go Phish. Championship or bust.
Second that....

Blossom's first set was great too - both in person and on tape. The playing was great, 'jammy' (as you point out w/ Lakewood), and really did have a positive vibe and infectious sort of energy. Those who like tight, condensed playing, a la some west coast summer 97, will like the Timber, Ice, Wingsuit, and Gin.....

A lot of other contenders, but Mann I is really nice. The playing on a tune like Crowd Control alone is unique and remarkable; and then you have the rest. The 'theme' is really cool, too, and is less erratic the Furry Cat.

Know there is a lot of love for Alpine. Pretty exciting, but, after the dust settles, and other sets arise.... Be nice is the Sloth and Esther get another spin.

But to be discussing first sets is a cool thing.
, comment by nichobert
nichobert The first set felt stunningly commonplace up until Stash. The Stash - Bowie - Possum segment was my favorite 35-40 consecutive minutes of a first set in quite some time.

I don't know if I have ever had feelings so mixed about a performance of a song as I do with last nights Slave.

The transition into it was flawless, the jam section was devestatingly great. But it immediately induced a feeling of "shows ending" melancholy that put me in a weird spot for the rest of the night. Strange having a song ruin your night while simultaneously getting you really excited on an intellectual level.

The Light jam was the other set 2 standout, and I can see why Fish was mad. Percussive and synthy, it was early unique and dark. Perfect way to shock us out of the malaise. Then a great segue into Twist made things weird again, but with how Twist has been, it was hard not to get excited. I don't have a problem with short genius jams that latch on to a perfect segue and then keep the show moving. Especially when the song they're slipping into is the tour MVP.
Unfortunately the Twist was plagued by communication issues, and they killed it as quick as it started. Shine A Light was surprisingly welcome from my perspective.

Was the band saying something about the floodlights illuminating the lawn at setbreak levels the entire show? DWD with the lawn reference, and then 3 of the next 4 songs have light in the title, and the other one is about Twisting. Maybe twisting a dial? Its terrible how much a bunch of floodlights can murder the collective experience. People were miserable about the lights and with good reason. I didn't even know the band had come back out because the ambient light didnt change at all. Gross.

YEM and Number Line were both a ton of fun. Maybe I defend Number Line a bit too much, but as far as joyful encore/late set 2 solo songs go, they're playing Number Line significantly better than your Juliuses and Loving Cups.

Just one of those things where the difference between the Internet and reality is so incredibly stark. Internet is super negative about the Number Line, the show crowds love it. The Internet would make you think Phish fans only care about deep type II improv, in reality, vets and noobs alike talked all through the psychedelic improv and gave rapt attention to the Possum lyrics segment,

Can't wait to hear Stash, Bowie, DWD-> Slave, Light-> Twist and Possum. I hope I can stand by my assessment of the last 3 first set songs as major highlights from the last 15-16 years of those tunes.
, comment by raidcehlalred
raidcehlalred @nichobert said:

I don't know if I have ever had feelings so mixed about a performance of a song as I do with last nights Slave.

The transition into it was flawless, the jam section was devestatingly great. But it immediately induced a feeling of "shows ending" melancholy that put me in a weird spot for the rest of the night. Strange having a song ruin your night while simultaneously getting you really excited on an intellectual level.

I remember when Slave was placed anywhere - so cool. So I loved its placement last night - but what you articulate makes sense. I was thinking that it'd be the tune to really launch the set. Particularly since it was played well, and gelled with the chilled-out Disease.

Was the band saying something about the floodlights illuminating the lawn at setbreak levels the entire show? DWD with the lawn reference, and then 3 of the next 4 songs have light in the title, and the other one is about Twisting. Maybe twisting a dial? Its terrible how much a bunch of floodlights can murder the collective experience. People were miserable about the lights and with good reason. I didn't even know the band had come back out because the ambient light didnt change at all. Gross.

Interesting thought -

Can't wait to hear Stash, Bowie, DWD-> Slave, Light-> Twist and Possum. I hope I can stand by my assessment of the last 3 first set songs as major highlights from the last 15-16 years of those tunes.[/quote]

I liked Stash in 03 and the jamming at Coventry.... 31/10 has some cool jamming too. You probably caught the MPP Stash a couple years ago. But the way Trey is playing; I love his melody and such; I thought it was cool.

Well Bowie 7/25/03 is wasn't, but it was 'better' than 7/15/13 (to toss out another) and Mann (which I thought was cool); this continues a trend I have been following with metered enthusiasm, as I do think Bowie can regain some of its former splendor - I assume you didn't find it totally tight?; and there was the extended intro....

I always like Possum (particularly in the first set; particularly to close the first). Just cause they went back to Blossom I remember a cool version a number of years back.

So I bet you are probably correct. Or will feel that way - which is all that matters.
, comment by andrewrose
andrewrose On a less positive note, I thought the Stash last night kind of sucked : /
, comment by Phishsx78
Phishsx78 @Sprachtor said:
While I understand people will complain about the encore, it seems a little short-sighted to me. When you guys complete the best tour since the reunion with your 3 best friends maybe you will get why they played it.
Settle down Trey. It's ok.
, comment by The_Monk_Bought_Lunch
The_Monk_Bought_Lunch Yesterday was the first time reading one of these, and was amused that we got ISIS references in a Phish show review...was expecting a throw in about Kim Jong Un today...no luck

In a vacuum, initially I was disappointed with the encore...then as I left and saw the row of buses leave I imagined all of phish's friends, lining up one by one, getting on those buses while BDTNL was playing, singing along...even if that's not how it actually went down, I ended up walking out and thinking it was pretty awesome.
, comment by n00b100
n00b100 @Phishsx78 said:
@Sprachtor said:
While I understand people will complain about the encore, it seems a little short-sighted to me. When you guys complete the best tour since the reunion with your 3 best friends maybe you will get why they played it.
Settle down Trey. It's ok.
This might be my favorite post in the history of this forum.

I don't think the show is *as* bad as people are saying that it is; I'm not saying that it's a *great* show or that I like it as much as the night before's, but just about every Phish show has something to take away from it, and this one's no different. Sally > YEM is my takeaway from this show, as well as the first set Stash/Bowie duo.

Six shows left for Summer '15 (still hoping for a December tour, because why not), and they're almost certainly the six "biggest" in terms of hype - Magnaball, and the Dick's run. It's gonna be one crazy end of the summer.
, comment by Th3Gh05t
Th3Gh05t I don't know that Mike could possibly be saying something as simple as no. Improv is more spiritual in nature.
, comment by nichobert
nichobert On relisten I guess I didn't only crazy overrate the Light, I apparently hallucinated a completely different type of jam than the one they actually played. Well then.

Stash-Bowie-Possum and DWD-Slave live up to the hype, and the Twist and Fuego while short really came to life outside of the show experience of watching the songs with basically no CK5 input because the entire lawn was fucking flooded with light.

Anyone else see the DWD-> Slave, Light> Twist> Shine A Light as any sort of message or acknowledgement of the lawnlights?

Reminds me of the State Theater in Falls Church, somewhere I won't go unless there's an extremely special show going on because the place is entirely too bright for good times.
, comment by Th3Gh05t
Th3Gh05t I meant to say Fishman ^ (in reference to his connecting to a rhythm that was different than the bands direction)
, comment by eddie20850
eddie20850 in listening to the David Bowie, I just have to ask has anyone else notice song structure sure has changed. Many songs don't seem to be as tight or something. Reminds me of 95' GD. I dunno I wasn't there but the tapes sure seem as if something is missing this tour. I know 'how could I'?
, comment by Th3Gh05t
Th3Gh05t They are playing hot and loose.
, comment by Th3Gh05t
Th3Gh05t Eddie, listen to sat night.
, comment by dte421
dte421 Interesting not on the referenced Spin article... these two shows featured 8 of the top 11 songs on that list...
, comment by Spoonie_B
Spoonie_B I just love how much they're moving beyond the "usual spot" for a lot of closers and such. Bowie, Slave, Julius NOT being in the closer or encore spot is great (I especially loved Julius out of that placement, where I usually feel lukewarm about it - enjoyed it much more early in Set I). And Golgi opening rather than closing. And every other show not closing with Loving Cup (which I love, but you gotta mix shit up to keep it fresh).

I've followed this entire tour pretty closely and it's the best of 3.0 as far as I'm concerned, and maybe, overall, the best since '98 as some have suggested. I thought the only crap show this tour was Austin, and Walnut Creek was just meh, and MPP2 was much better than people are giving it credit for, if it wasn't at the level of much of the rest of the tour. Can't wait to stream some Ball and Dicks! Wish I could be there. Long live the Phish.
, comment by bluewater42
bluewater42 I would take 7/27/2014 over Mann2 in a 3.0 showdown.
, comment by hambone024
hambone024 I think this show suffers in some people's minds because of the quality of the tour. This show was better in musicianship and jam than the 2011 MPP shows, and competes with the 2013 MPPs (tho 7/14/13 S1 may top). This show has something that hadn't really come before, a depth and nuance within the songs. It's like my 3 year old, who is still the same person, in terms of personality, as when she was 2, but has added a lot more depth to it in how she expresses herself.

I've heard that with Phish this tour, including this show. Sure, jams get cut off at times, but honestly, a lot of them run about the same length as those hallowed days when they would burn a good 3-5 minutes looking for a jam. They don't really look anymore, they get right to it. That Sally would have been more like 11-12 mins, if you tack that on. Instead, we got about 3 mins of song and 4 of jam, sans the search that can often just be filler till they find. Throw in that 3-5 mins in a couple more S2 songs, and you have a set people would have been a lot more excited about in 99 or 03. Maybe even earlier, given that their jams weren't usually as sustained back then in terms of this level of complexity, which was the norm this summer.

I'm intrigued by this theory about the lawn lights. They were unusually bad for MPP. That adds a nice touch. Also, it's hard to think it is coincidence that so many of Gehr's top songs showed up, given that Trey talked about the list. I think these things could disrupt or alter the focus. Phish has so many styles of shows, and this we got a double meta show. It made for a more subtle show, as opposed to the in your face jam throwdown the night before.

I think the jams also ran into a little Mike punking in S2. He led a number of them, and it seemed like he was deliberately making himself difficult to follow, which I found interesting. There are some unique nuggets in there.

Slave was wonderful, and I love the placement. Light was great, if short. Fuego was well placed, I like that slot. Great for S2 energy. And I thought the middle was more interesting than usual, a bit more in there. But yeah, cut short. That Sally. Talk about 15 min Sally's all you want, but I got the 4 mins out of it I wanted and keep listening to. And YEM was one of the better ones I've heard of 3.0 for volume of funkatron, plus a vocal jam I actually enjoyed, thanks to Fishman.

Lest we forget S1 had nice moments. Golgi opener was really nice. Stash Bowie Possum is a great finish. Remember how many times we've complained about the set closer trifectas, where we'd get three of them in a row to close set? Bowie and Possum had some pretty lively moments, taboot.

I guess we've just seen how high the bar is now thanks to this tour, and feelings on this show. It doesn't take down the tier ones from '15. But they also didn't take the night off. Because I've seen mediocre shows, and this one blew those out.
, comment by odonnellsp
odonnellsp Nice review. I had a great time at the show. I thoroughly enjoyed the placement of Golgi and Julius (and Slave!), and, in the moment, I didn't feel they ripcorded anything. Listening again the next day, sure, some of the jams could have gone a little longer, but when couldn't they? Both sets held up on second+ listening as solid sets.
The only disappointment for me was the encore. And it's not a knock on BDTNL; I was glad to hear that song, and I liked it as an encore. It was just disappointing that it was only 10:45 and they didn't play something else. But I'm sure they had their reasons.
, comment by KyleWhitman
KyleWhitman I truly feel sorry for folks that analyze each song so deeply. This band is about the live experience where the band and the crowd have a combined energy that no other band can come close to. MPP2 was great, if you would only count the Bowie, Possum, Sally and YEM alone. But the entire night was a blast. Take yourself back to the first time you saw them and maybe you could have as good a time. The anticipation of what they play is part of the fun. Enjoy the show!
You must be logged in to post a comment.
Support Phish.net & MBIRD
Phish News
Subscribe to Phish-News for exclusive info while on tour!


Phish.net

Phish.net is a non-commercial project run by Phish fans and for Phish fans under the auspices of the all-volunteer, non-profit Mockingbird Foundation.

This project serves to compile, preserve, and protect encyclopedic information about Phish and their music.

Credits | Terms Of Use | Legal | DMCA

© 1990-2019  The Mockingbird Foundation, Inc. | Hosted by End Point Corporation