Monday 09/05/2016 by lumpblockclod

DICK'S3 2016: A DICKSMAS MIRACLE!

Uncomfortable truths are sometimes easier to acknowledge after the passage of time. This is especially true when there is a happy ending involved. So it goes with Phish's 2016 summer tour. Let's be clear: Heading into Dick’s, 2016 wasn’t just below average—it was among the most puzzling and disappointing stretches of the band's career.

Phish has always had highs and lows—many more of the former than the latter—but there was always an explanation for the lows. In retrospect, 1996 was about the band re-inventing itself after the peak of 1995. We all know the explanation for 2004, though the band still managed to scale massive peaks even during that time of trouble. In 2009, Phish was still getting their sea legs under them. But 2016 hadn’t provided an easy answer, at least not yet.

Photo © Dave Decro Photo
Photo © Dave Decro Photo

Photo © Dave Decro Photo

One obvious feature of 2016 is Trey's fascination with the Marimba Lumina and the rotation or percussion jams it has spawned. However, that's only part of the story. Even if you're not a fan of the Marimba Lumina-inspired jams, it’s a fairly small part of the show. No, the truly concerning aspect of summer 2016 was the tentativeness and unwillingness to stretch out songs in the rest of the show. There seemed to be a palpable sense of discomfort and lack of confidence onstage for significant stretches of the summer.

Not everyone will agree with that assessment, of course. But even those who do may have been uncomfortable acknowledging it. After Dick’s, it's a little easier to do so. The band that walked onstage Friday and dropped a massive “Ghost,” “No Man's Land” combo, along with a fantastic start-to-finish second set was simply not the same band we saw for most of the summer. Saturday saw another statement-making opening sequence in “Slave,” “DWD,” and “What's the Use?” What would Sunday hold?

After purposeful opening sequences on Friday and Saturday, Sunday's proceedings began with a somewhat wobbly version of "Moma Dance." When Trey started up "Chalk Dust" in the two-hole, there was reason for excitement. Not only had the number two spot had produced outstanding jams the previous two evenings, but the history of great "Chalk Dusts" at Dick's is perhaps unmatched by any other song and venue. Extended versions of "CDT" had been aired at every other Dick’s run, including two pantheon versions of the song on 8/31/12 and 8/31/13. What would last night hold? Though the somewhat slowed tempo and Dick's history had us dreaming of a mammoth jam, it turns out, we got nothing more than a tight version. So ends the Legend of the Dick's Dust… until next year, anyway.

A “Mike’s Song” played at Fare Thee Well tempo was up next. “Wingsuit” followed and featured a typically excellent solo from Trey, but the show could have been fairly described as a bit on the plodding side at this point. “Weekapaug” changed that with some particularly nimble playing from Trey, as the band scaled the first peak of the night, albeit a relatively small one. “Party Time” did well to continue the now upbeat nature of the night before we got to our first significant highlight in “Bathtub Gin.” Mike, in particular (who may have been the MVP of the weekend), seemed to propel this “Gin” forward until Trey grabbed the reins and took it to an absolutely cathartic peak that separated it from the realm of the “average great” 3.0 versions.

There are few songs I look less forward to in 3.0 than “Split Open and Melt.” The band more often makes a mess of this once great song and Trey has been known to conjure sounds of kitten strangulation from his guitar. Not tonight, though. The 9/8 bars in the jam section that so often seem to confound the band were successfully navigated and nary a whale call was to be found. The version itself was unspectacular, but sometimes that's plenty good enough.

Tube” followed and continued its positive trajectory. Clocking in at roughly eight minutes, Trey employed the echoplex to great effect, complemented by the rest of the band exploring the deep funk potential that of the song that had for so long lied dormant. “Character Zero” followed, which was a positive because you either like the song, or fall into the “Don’t you worry, don’t you fret, There’ll always be the second set” camp, which rejoiced at the possibility of a tour-closing “Zero” encore being taken off the table.

For the third consecutive show, Phish delivered a meaty first set. The topic of conversation at setbreak seemed to center on just how good of a second set we could expect and, also, whether we should expect any setlist antics, in light of last year’s encore finale. We would not get antics; the “Thank You” encore seems to have closed that chapter of the Dick’s experience. What we got instead was far better.

Photo © Herschel Gelman
Photo © Herschel Gelman

Photo by Herschel Gelman.

Crosseyed and Painless” opened the set, and the only question seemed to be just how big a version we would get. The answer, in all likelihood, is “bigger than you thought,” as it clocked in at either 18 minutes or an hour and a half, depending on your method of accounting. This version featured wave upon wave of peaks, with all four band members actively engaged with substantial contributions of ideas, before settling into “Steam.” “Crosseyed” reappeared in “Steam,” as it would in every other song in the second set and encore. This wasn't the first time Phish has tried this trick, but it was their most successful.

Piper,” another song with a strong Dick’s history, batted third. The jam built to its usual initial peak and then, well, you can't stop the Marimba Lumina, you can only hope to contain it. Trey retreated to Fish’s kit and was soon joined by Page and, finally, regrettably, Mike, for a five minute “Drums” segment. This segment of the set didn’t do much for me, but if your biggest criticism is five minutes of drums in your 19-minute “Piper,” your set is probably doing just fine. Besides, the jam that emerged from the “Drums” was spectacular, returning (again) to the “Crosseyed” theme.

Light,” which has likely been the most dependable jam vehicle of the summer, was next. This version started quietly, with a delicate little watery jam where all four band members are clearly listening to and playing off each other. A repetitive pattern develops, winds its way into a jam punctuated by a series of ascending notes from Trey. This is truly top shelf Phish at this moment, before, naturally, resolving into more “Crosseyed” teases. At this point, it’s important to note that the set was moving at approximately four songs per hour, which exactly how fast you want a set to move.

Lizards” was next and provided the closest thing to a breather in this set, if your idea of a breather is a 25,000 person sing along paired with one of Trey’s most beloved solos. Great sets tend to feed upon themselves. The heightened energy can lift otherwise good songs to greatness. The “First Tube” set closer may not have provided much in the way of substantial improv, but the energy at that point was through the roof. Well, if there a was a roof, it would have been through it and, either way, it was a perfect way to end the set.

By the time the encore started, there was still the possibility of something otherworldly happening, but we settled for a rare encore version of “Walls of the Cave” (8/2/13 being the only other encore placement). Of course the “Walls” was adorned with one last set of “Crosseyed” teases before closing the book on Dick’s 2016. And what a book it was. Before the run started, no one had the right to have any expectations for these shows, but Phish stepped up and delivered the best show of 2016 (arguably the best two shows, along with Friday) and the best Dick’s run since 2012.

A true Dicksmas miracle!

Photo © Patrick Jordan
Photo © Patrick Jordan

Photo by Patrick Jordan (9/3/16) © Phish.

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Comments

, comment by Arbs_Pheld
Arbs_Pheld Great review!
, comment by nichobert
nichobert If Atlantic City 2012 counts as the same trick I'd say it's at least up for debate if this was the most successful

But it was damned successful no matter how you slice it
, comment by nichobert
nichobert I'm curious to see if anyone feels inclined to put this over 2012 or alternately to put 2011 or 2013 over this one

I'm thinking the medal platform is 2012, 2016, 2011, but YMMV
, comment by dscott
dscott Love the title!
, comment by lumpblockclod
lumpblockclod @nichobert said:
I'm curious to see if anyone feels inclined to put this over 2012 or alternately to put 2011 or 2013 over this one

I'm thinking the medal platform is 2012, 2016, 2011, but YMMV
I would put 2014 over 2011 and 2013. I go 12, 16, 14, 11, 15 and 13 (the 3-5 spots are pretty close).
, comment by phunky58
phunky58 Id put 2012 over this in a second, but that's just me. Can't touch 2012's run at least not yet.........
, comment by pureguava
pureguava Loved this review. Thank you.
, comment by johnnyd
johnnyd Still Waiting ... For a Spelling Gag to Emerge

Great review.
, comment by PhishyPaul
PhishyPaul @johnnyd said:
Still Waiting ... For a Spelling Gag to Emerge

Great review.
I agree.....Still Waiting was the gag, for everybody out there trying to figure out some hidden meaning/spelling.
, comment by ckess22
ckess22 2012, 2011 = 2016
the rest
2011 does not get enough love. Not to mention there were no lines for anything at dicks in 2011.
Fab run.
, comment by menkum2121
menkum2121 Calling 2016 puzzling and disappointing is absurd. Sure, not as good as some of the recent tours, but c'mon. Someone must have not been on tour this year...
, comment by jsauce
jsauce I agree with the assessment of 2016 thus far.
Also, the potential funk of tube LAY dormant. If we ever meet, you can punch me in the eye then.
, comment by AntelopeFlashMob
AntelopeFlashMob They have not been 'bad' all summer. Compared to 2015 "not as crazy intense and awesome". But in no way has this summer been weak.
, comment by hampton13
hampton13 This summer has been great, not "puzzling or disappointing at all. Discomfort and lack of confidence on stage? Ridiculous.
, comment by tmwsiy
tmwsiy @AntelopeFlashMob said:
They have not been 'bad' all summer. Compared to 2015 "not as crazy intense and awesome". But in no way has this summer been weak.
You were sort of lucky. You caught Mansfield and Hartford which were pretty good shows for '16. But as a whole, "weak" was generous in defining this summer tour. I'm pretty stoked that Dick's had the highlights it did in lieu of what preceded it. Bodes well for a crushing fall tour like '13.
, comment by Tube5972
Tube5972 Beautiful review.
, comment by tek9rifleskills
tek9rifleskills @hampton13 said:
This summer has been great, not "puzzling or disappointing at all. Discomfort and lack of confidence on stage? Ridiculous.
I wasn't on tour but at least did Mansfield> Syracuse, and I'm a bit disappointed in this review. West coast shows sounded pretty darn good. The shows I saw were sick. "Lack of confidence on stage" might be one of the most ridiculous things I've read in a review on .net in a long, long time, as well as many other quotes uttered in the above piece. OP acts like this 6 song set saved the whole summer tour, and if it weren't for this strong showing at Dick's the whole year would have been a wash. I just don't believe that the ONLY thing that makes a Phish show worth it is a big jam.

Thankfully the second half of this review was spot on, but the first half...you almost made me think you don't like the Phish anymore.
, comment by SimpleCymbal
SimpleCymbal This is so bad. I'm all for criticism, but as many others are saying, summer wasn't that bad, jeez. So yeah, there wasn't type ii all day at every show, but I was at Portland> Hartford and had a great time every show.

So much of Phish is what you choose to make of it. If you get off on analysis then more power to you I guess, but I believe this kind of writing is negative and decreases enjoyment of future shows for readers whom digest this and bring in expectations or thoughts that are not their own into the next show.

Reviews like this are why I stay off .net during and leading up to a tour, so I can clear my mind.
, comment by Gigantomachia
Gigantomachia I would argue N1 S2 at the Gorge was even "more" successful in terms of teasing/mashing Crosseyed throughout the set. Besides, at the Gorge they also continued to mash No Men and What's the Use, so yeah.

Oh well, as David Hume argued: "There is no accounting for taste" ;)
, comment by icculusFTW
icculusFTW I agree with the assessment of summer pre-Dick's. It's not just a question of jams - though they were conspicuously missing - it's a question of flow, of shows that come together to form a complete piece of art.

No one is saying that the tour was objectively "bad" -- even a subpar Phish show is great by normal concert standards -- but it was clearly out of step with the amazing standards phish has set for themselves, especially in the wake of 2015's breathtaking summer.

Let's get specific: the kind of setlist creativity, reckless confidence, and explosive, unrestrained jamming we saw at Dick's was basically the standard for much of last year. Especially in August - night after night after night, the hose was on full blast.

Now, compare that to the spotty nature of this summer, with many shows that stayed firmly in the box with hardly a jam in sight.

I'm talking about, for instance, the train wreck shows in Portland and LA (both rated under 3 stars by phish.net fans), and shows like Minneapolis, SPAC 2, Syracuse, Gorge 2, Deer Creek, that were fine collections of songs without a really significant jam to speak of, more or less. And then there's the fact that even most of the higher point shows - Wrigley, Hartford, Chula, Lockn for instance -- really can't touch the highs of 2015, or even 2013 or 12 for that matter (again, the Phish.net community ratings confirm this.)

Now, shows like SPAC 1, Gorge 1 and BGCA 2, and individual jams like SPAC Moma, BGCA Sally, the Lockn Ghost> Gin and Light, broke form and certainly touched the heights Phish is capable of reaching.

But the point is that that's clearly a spotty record for the season, especially after 2015, and shows like Portland and LA were downright listless and concerning.

For the band to come out at Dick's and play three back to back complete, scorching, confident 2015 level shows was, just as the review states, a major and thrilling step forward.

Again, the point is not that Phish 2016 was objectively "bad" pre-Dick's - from from it - the point is that it was a noticeable step back from the incredible place Phish had reached in 2015.

And sure, every year can't be 1997 or 2015, and that's fine, but I don't see anything wrong with acknowledging 2016 had not been on that level, that it was a relatively spotty, hopefully transitional tour up to this point.

Listening to Phish critically and thoughtfully - like this reviewer does well, shows nothing but love and respect for the band and the amazing standard they've set for themselves over the course of 33 years.

But now - coming off Dick's - fall tour has some amazing potential to change the narrative on the year. Can't wait for it to start!
, comment by icculusFTW
icculusFTW And one more thing - those first sets at Dick's were incredible! They haven't played first sets like that -- full of dynamic song placement and jamming -- all year, not even close.

Those first sets -- alone -- are a huge step forward from the rest of 2016.
, comment by jaosnlikesphun
jaosnlikesphun Really fun tour. Respectfully disagree with your opinion on 16 being a weak tour only to be redeemed by Dicks. I was in for SPAC run and Syracuse. Syracuse especially had a unique vibe and The Phish seemed to be having a ton of fun. Very generous sets. Different vibe to 16 but not "weak". Thanks for great review of this Dicks show though. What a way to end summer. I'm "still waiting" for this Fall!
, comment by mistarich
mistarich This is a review stating opinion as fact. I saw 14 shows this summer and left Dick's loving the band as much as ever. That positive energy I left with was tainted by reading this review (which happens a lot with phish.net reviews). I would encourage you to employ a new formula for your reviews. For example, have more than one person (even 5) contribute or debate the review before printing it. The biased opinion of one fan is the reason my friends and I stay off phish.net during tour. While I agree that some shows left something to be desired this year, who are we to decide where the band's head space is at and what they are trying to achieve. We can't forget that in the early day's phish was more of a progressive rock band than a jam. Now they are an incredibly diverse band and it is unfair to judge them simply based off one criteria. The energy was there this weekend and the band was channeling it perfectly. I for one thought each night of the Dick's run built upon each other. After I left Saturday I had no idea how they could go up from there. But then they laid down a crosseyed-fest for the ages.
, comment by nichobert
nichobert 2016 might be a little weak but reminded me of 2011 where how good the jams are got buried a bit by some baffling setlist calls and long stretches of standards.
, comment by icculusFTW
icculusFTW I really disagree with the idea -- being expressed by a lot of responses to this review -- that it is somehow the role of Phish.net reviewers to not "taint" your personal feelings about the show, or to always say that every show and tour was "great," and we all had such "a great time."

We all love Phish here. High fives all around.

But this is a place for open and thoughtful discussion of the band's shows that recognize the fact that different shows are, in fact, different, and that, relative to the standards set by the band itself, some are, at least to many discerning listeners, 'better' in certain respects than others -- and that that is OK, and it is not Phish.net's job to protect you from that fact.

We are all entitled to our opinions -- and if you disagree with a review, you can say why and have a civil conversation without blaming the site for making you feel less special about your experience. Your feelings about the experience are yours alone -- Phish.net has no power over them.

@mistarich said:
This is a review stating opinion as fact. I saw 14 shows this summer and left Dick's loving the band as much as ever. That positive energy I left with was tainted by reading this review (which happens a lot with phish.net reviews). I would encourage you to employ a new formula for your reviews. For example, have more than one person (even 5) contribute or debate the review before printing it. The biased opinion of one fan is the reason my friends and I stay off phish.net during tour. While I agree that some shows left something to be desired this year, who are we to decide where the band's head space is at and what they are trying to achieve. We can't forget that in the early day's phish was more of a progressive rock band than a jam. Now they are an incredibly diverse band and it is unfair to judge them simply based off one criteria. The energy was there this weekend and the band was channeling it perfectly. I for one thought each night of the Dick's run built upon each other. After I left Saturday I had no idea how they could go up from there. But then they laid down a crosseyed-fest for the ages.
, comment by WalkLikeACanteloupe
WalkLikeACanteloupe I was worried the "still waiting" gag was going to end with an encore of "Waiting All Night" so I was pleased to get Walls of the Cave.
, comment by chillwig
chillwig
No, the truly concerning aspect of summer 2016 was the tentativeness and unwillingness to stretch out songs in the rest of the show. There seemed to be a palpable sense of discomfort and lack of confidence onstage for significant stretches of the summer.

Not everyone will agree with that assessment, of course. But even those who do may have been uncomfortable acknowledging it.
Nice recap Steve, especially this point. But I still think you're tiptoe-ing around the real issue which is that Trey is the big wildcard here. When Trey is confident and playing well, the rest of the stuff seems to take care of itself for the most part. But when he's unusually flubby and otherwise not playing well, when he's not settling in and he's switching guitars daily like he's uncomfortable in his own skin, the whole band dynamic suffers. It's during those times when you realize that Trey is still very much the de facto conductor up there, notwithstanding the much-discussed democratization of the band's jamming since 2011-12.

It's kinda like 80's Dead in this one small respect - it often all seems to depend on which version of Trerry shows up. Or maybe I'm just projecting.

PS: I took a fair amount of heat for calling SPAC3 a "bad show" in my recap. In some respects I was being hyperbolic for stylistic purposes, which is my prerogative as the author. But in the cold light of day, and relative to the last 10 sets of the summer, I stand by that assessment 100%. When you compare it to a show like DICKS3, it's really entirely different level of Phish, altogether.
, comment by mistarich
mistarich @icculusFTW said:
I really disagree with the idea -- being expressed by a lot of responses to this review -- that it is somehow the role of Phish.net reviewers to not "taint" your personal feelings about the show, or to always say that every show and tour was "great," and we all had such "a great time."

We all love Phish here. High fives all around.

But this is a place for open and thoughtful discussion of the band's shows that recognize the fact that different shows are, in fact, different, and that, relative to the standards set by the band itself, some are, at least to many discerning listeners, 'better' in certain respects than others -- and that that is OK, and it is not Phish.net's job to protect you from that fact.

We are all entitled to our opinions -- and if you disagree with a review, you can say why and have a civil conversation without blaming the site for making you feel less special about your experience. Your feelings about the experience are yours alone -- Phish.net has no power over them.

@mistarich said:
This is a review stating opinion as fact. I saw 14 shows this summer and left Dick's loving the band as much as ever. That positive energy I left with was tainted by reading this review (which happens a lot with phish.net reviews). I would encourage you to employ a new formula for your reviews. For example, have more than one person (even 5) contribute or debate the review before printing it. The biased opinion of one fan is the reason my friends and I stay off phish.net during tour. While I agree that some shows left something to be desired this year, who are we to decide where the band's head space is at and what they are trying to achieve. We can't forget that in the early day's phish was more of a progressive rock band than a jam. Now they are an incredibly diverse band and it is unfair to judge them simply based off one criteria. The energy was there this weekend and the band was channeling it perfectly. I for one thought each night of the Dick's run built upon each other. After I left Saturday I had no idea how they could go up from there. But then they laid down a crosseyed-fest for the ages.
I agree with your retort of my post. In my defense i was not trying to state the phish.net reviews should all be "fluffers" saying the band can do no wrong so no one feelings get hurt. That would do no one any good and would be downright boring. Going to 58 shows in 3.0 I have seen my fair share of lackluster shows and can admit that. My main point is that phish.net is a website "by the fans for the fans", and is well respected in the community and therefore should have more all-encompassing reviews as opposed the opinion of one fan. For example, while the Wrigley shows were less than stellar, phish.net chose to have the review done by someone who wasn't even at the shows and he made a point about the lack of energy. In that review I would liked to hear that he had a conversation with friends who were there. A "communal" effort to the reviews could be greatly beneficial is all that I am saying. We do all love Phish here and we are critical of the band sometimes because we care so much. In this instance I was critical of phish.net because I care about it and highly respect the opinions that come out of it.
, comment by plICCULUS
plICCULUS @PhishyPaul said:
@johnnyd said:
Still Waiting ... For a Spelling Gag to Emerge

Great review.
I agree.....Still Waiting was the gag, for everybody out there trying to figure out some hidden meaning/spelling.
You hit the nail on the head my friend. That is what it was for sure
, comment by icculusFTW
icculusFTW Thanks for that -- I do agree that it's great to get multiple perspectives on a given show, though I think that's what the community reviews of each set are for. The "official" one is just one person, but that shouldn't stop you from reading all the other reviews that are shared.

Still, though, I think you're right that a community conversation review approach is a cool idea.

That would work great on the Phish.net podcast! Which I'd love to produce if ya'll want one...

@mistarich said:

I agree with your retort of my post. In my defense i was not trying to state the phish.net reviews should all be "fluffers" saying the band can do no wrong so no one feelings get hurt. That would do no one any good and would be downright boring. Going to 58 shows in 3.0 I have seen my fair share of lackluster shows and can admit that. My main point is that phish.net is a website "by the fans for the fans", and is well respected in the community and therefore should have more all-encompassing reviews as opposed the opinion of one fan. For example, while the Wrigley shows were less than stellar, phish.net chose to have the review done by someone who wasn't even at the shows and he made a point about the lack of energy. In that review I would liked to hear that he had a conversation with friends who were there. A "communal" effort to the reviews could be greatly beneficial is all that I am saying. We do all love Phish here and we are critical of the band sometimes because we care so much. In this instance I was critical of phish.net because I care about it and highly respect the opinions that come out of it.[/quote]
, comment by Toe2323
Toe2323 Excellent review and I couldn't agree more with the Dicks run thoughts and the disappointment of 2016 in general up to Dicks thoughts which it was. Dicks in general was on a different level vs the rest of 2016 and much more in line with what we would have expected after the fantastic 2015 tour.

I will also just echo ALL of Sonic 708s comments as I couldn't avree more with him. Very well stated 708!
, comment by Jackaroe
Jackaroe I must be oblivious. I've been seeing Phish since the early '90s and I failed to see how they sucked in '96 (although I heard it plenty then and since) and I failed to see how they sucked this summer. Certainly you can hear in 2004 how they were ready to be done, I'll grant that. At any rate, these shows sounded hot, just like the rest of the summer did to my ears.
, comment by lumpblockclod
lumpblockclod @chillwig said:
Nice recap Steve, especially this point. But I still think you're tiptoe-ing around the real issue which is that Trey is the big wildcard here. When Trey is confident and playing well, the rest of the stuff seems to take care of itself for the most part. But when he's unusually flubby and otherwise not playing well, when he's not settling in and he's switching guitars daily like he's uncomfortable in his own skin, the whole band dynamic suffers. It's during those times when you realize that Trey is still very much the de facto conductor up there, notwithstanding the much-discussed democratization of the band's jamming since 2011-12.

It's kinda like 80's Dead in this one small respect - it often all seems to depend on which version of Trerry shows up. Or maybe I'm just projecting.

PS: I took a fair amount of heat for calling SPAC3 a "bad show" in my recap. In some respects I was being hyperbolic for stylistic purposes, which is my prerogative as the author. But in the cold light of day, and relative to the last 10 sets of the summer, I stand by that assessment 100%. When you compare it to a show like DICKS3, it's really entirely different level of Phish, altogether.
Thanks, Craig. You're right, I did sort of tip toe around it, but there is absolutely an As Goes Trey, So Goes the Band dynamic at work. There is no cure for Trey not playing well (or, sometimes, not playing guitar).
, comment by NeVerMissPhishDickS
NeVerMissPhishDickS 2011 Doesn't get the love because there weren't many folks at the show. For a lot of people their Dicks conversation starts with 2012. Yes 2012 was amazing, but in 2011 the band was playing a 30,000 seat venue for the first time for around 9000 people. I believe they really fed off being in such a large place with so few people. It's an experience I'm sure I'll never have again with the band. From the S to the feeling Mikes bass roll through your body the way it does at Dicks to Guy Forget, 2011 is what made Dicks what it is now. Everything since has been wonderful but 2011, for those of us who were there, will always be the biggest Dicks.
, comment by mistarich
mistarich @icculusFTW said:
Thanks for that -- I do agree that it's great to get multiple perspectives on a given show, though I think that's what the community reviews of each set are for. The "official" one is just one person, but that shouldn't stop you from reading all the other reviews that are shared.

Still, though, I think you're right that a community conversation review approach is a cool idea.

That would work great on the Phish.net podcast! Which I'd love to produce if ya'll want one...

@mistarich said:

I agree with your retort of my post. In my defense i was not trying to state the phish.net reviews should all be "fluffers" saying the band can do no wrong so no one feelings get hurt. That would do no one any good and would be downright boring. Going to 58 shows in 3.0 I have seen my fair share of lackluster shows and can admit that. My main point is that phish.net is a website "by the fans for the fans", and is well respected in the community and therefore should have more all-encompassing reviews as opposed the opinion of one fan. For example, while the Wrigley shows were less than stellar, phish.net chose to have the review done by someone who wasn't even at the shows and he made a point about the lack of energy. In that review I would liked to hear that he had a conversation with friends who were there. A "communal" effort to the reviews could be greatly beneficial is all that I am saying. We do all love Phish here and we are critical of the band sometimes because we care so much. In this instance I was critical of phish.net because I care about it and highly respect the opinions that come out of it.
[/quote]

I also failed to read your initial posts which were very well rounded and a good read. I think a podcast involving a round table of 4 or 5 seasoned fans (even a few newbies) would be super interesting and educational!
, comment by lumpblockclod
lumpblockclod Also, thanks to @icculusFTW for rendering my response to several of the other comments mostly unnecessary. Agree with almost every word you said.
, comment by lumpblockclod
lumpblockclod @Jackaroe said:
I must be oblivious. I've been seeing Phish since the early '90s and I failed to see how they sucked in '96 (although I heard it plenty then and since) and I failed to see how they sucked this summer. Certainly you can hear in 2004 how they were ready to be done, I'll grant that. At any rate, these shows sounded hot, just like the rest of the summer did to my ears.
Interestingly, if I had to take just one year of Phish to the proverbial dessert island and my choices were limited to 1996, 2004 and 2016, I'd grab 2004 and it wouldn't even be close.
, comment by jeremyscottv
jeremyscottv @lumpblockclod said:
@nichobert said:
I'm curious to see if anyone feels inclined to put this over 2012 or alternately to put 2011 or 2013 over this one

I'm thinking the medal platform is 2012, 2016, 2011, but YMMV
I would put 2014 over 2011 and 2013. I go 12, 16, 14, 11, 15 and 13 (the 3-5 spots are pretty close).
I couldn't have said this better myself. I would say Dick's 14 overall was better than 15 (except that encore is pretty tough to beat), but I would say that 2015 overall for Phish was better than 2014 (playing-wise).

'12, '16, '14, '15, '11, '13 is my order!
, comment by Toe2323
Toe2323 I went to 2011 Dicks and while it was great I definitely would not put it above 12, 16 or 14. I would put it above 13, but maybe not 15.
, comment by Choda
Choda Can we pick the admin who gets to do the post show reviews?
, comment by gratefulterp
gratefulterp Can the admin pick the users who read it?
, comment by Scott
Scott The show had many flubs, including in moma dance and chalkdust and lizards. C&P, Steam, Light, and Bathtub make this a legendary show no matter what.

Less cowbell please!! The reviewer is rather diplomatic about Trey ruining this otherwise cool jam.

As for 2016, the reviewer unfairly compares it to August 2015. Mansfield through Dicks 2016 is better than 2015 before Atlanta. 2016 had more variety and equally good execution of composed music and tight fast solos. 2015 is the better year overall, yes, but the tour improved with time like most tours in most years. 2015 had Shoreline set 2 early on, without which the narrative would have been about the same.
, comment by Lapidmb
Lapidmb I totally agree with this site being an open forum for discussion. Actually really enjoy reading what everyone has to say about a given show. However I made it to the 11 shows this tour and felt lucky to do so. Though I can agree shows like Portland spac3 and others were nowhere near some of the phish I've seen over the years I had a rockin time at the shows cause it was a different experience. I can agree there was not a lot of setlist flow in a lot of the shows I saw but a lot of the playing was very tight (for the most part) and I didn't get a lot of repeats that sometimes might happen seeing 8 shows in 12 days. Not the best tour by any means but I enjoyed the hell out of it night in and night out. Personal highlights both nights of the Mann spac1 Hartford and all 3 nights at dicks
, comment by lumpblockclod
lumpblockclod @Scott said:
As for 2016, the reviewer unfairly compares it to August 2015. Mansfield through Dicks 2016 is better than 2015 before Atlanta. 2016 had more variety and equally good execution of composed music and tight fast solos. 2015 is the better year overall, yes, but the tour improved with time like most tours in most years. 2015 had Shoreline set 2 early on, without which the narrative would have been about the same.
I'm not sure it's fair to compare a 15 show stretch (GW> Dicks16) to a 6 show stretch (Bend> TX15). But the bottom line is this: Take a look at the Best of 2015 blog post from last year. Whether you completely agree with the rankings or not, how many 2016 shows could make that list? Dicks3, sure. Any others? I don't think so. I'll agree, they improved as the tour progressed, but even that west coast swing had some real head-scratchers (Forum, BGCA3-II). Anyway, I'm just calling it as I hear it. YMMV.
, comment by Phishsx78
Phishsx78 @tek9rifleskills said:
@hampton13 said:
This summer has been great, not "puzzling or disappointing at all. Discomfort and lack of confidence on stage? Ridiculous.
I wasn't on tour but at least did Mansfield> Syracuse, and I'm a bit disappointed in this review. West coast shows sounded pretty darn good. The shows I saw were sick. "Lack of confidence on stage" might be one of the most ridiculous things I've read in a review on .net in a long, long time, as well as many other quotes uttered in the above piece. OP acts like this 6 song set saved the whole summer tour, and if it weren't for this strong showing at Dick's the whole year would have been a wash. I just don't believe that the ONLY thing that makes a Phish show worth it is a big jam.

Thankfully the second half of this review was spot on, but the first half...you almost made me think you don't like the Phish anymore.
Same story with all you fluffers: I'm upset you didn't like the shifty phish show I attended during summer tour 2016. Sorry brah, he's spot on when he says this year has pretty much sucked for the most part. That's how life happens. Ups and downs. Accept it and quit putting the phish cock down your throat and give credit only when credits due - such as phish Dick's 2016...
, comment by Phishsx78
Phishsx78 @Phishsx78 said:
@tek9rifleskills said:
@hampton13 said:
This summer has been great, not "puzzling or disappointing at all. Discomfort and lack of confidence on stage? Ridiculous.
I wasn't on tour but at least did Mansfield> Syracuse, and I'm a bit disappointed in this review. West coast shows sounded pretty darn good. The shows I saw were sick. "Lack of confidence on stage" might be one of the most ridiculous things I've read in a review on .net in a long, long time, as well as many other quotes uttered in the above piece. OP acts like this 6 song set saved the whole summer tour, and if it weren't for this strong showing at Dick's the whole year would have been a wash. I just don't believe that the ONLY thing that makes a Phish show worth it is a big jam.

Thankfully the second half of this review was spot on, but the first half...you almost made me think you don't like the Phish anymore.
Same story with all you fluffers: "I'm upset you didn't like the shifty phish show I attended during summer tour 2016." Sorry brah, he's spot on when he says this year has pretty much sucked for the most part. That's how life happens. Ups and downs. Accept it and quit putting the phish cock down your throat and give credit only when credits due - such as phish Dick's 2016...
, comment by FACTSAREUSELESS
FACTSAREUSELESS Late to the dance party here, but I just want to say that this was not only an outstanding review, and very thorough, but your opening comments were, while perhaps controversial or off-putting to some, spot on.

Not only were your comments spot-on, I thought you were actually restrained. I felt your commentary was entirely appropriate to add a sense of perspective to a great run which is so starkly juxtaposed against a drab and disappointing summer.

Thanks for the work in this.
, comment by fluffhead42
fluffhead42 Interesting review. I like the positivity about Dick's, but I have to disagree about Summer Tour 2016 being puzzling. I thought for the most part Summer Tour 2016 was really really good, even compared to 2015, and especially compared to 2013 (most repeats/tour ever and shortest song gaps). 2016 had a great amount of song variety and limited repeat frequency. Yes, Dicks was amazing. It always is. But so was Summer 2016 as a whole.

I know Dick's technically ends the summer tour, but I think of it as it's own entity. The band always has weeks off leading up to it, and it is the longest running consistent set of dates Phish have ever played (sorry MSG). I can only hope they continue to play here on Labor Day weekend.

What an incredible band, and what an incredible community. Thank you all!!!
, comment by Ironphan140point6
Ironphan140point6 You have to break eggs to make bananas... Poo begins to levitate, runaway Jim. Time to put your two shoes on (a la Wingsuit). **(read "You're all gonna dance! Mwah-ahaha!" ;) ***See John Cactus from either 2013-11-01 or 2013-07-14, I forget which one. Save, delete, thank you all for making this happen.
, comment by aaron11778
aaron11778 I was at Hartford, Lockn', and Dicks. I saw 6 good shows and 0 duds. I'm also fond of listening to the Gorge, Chula Vista, and Wrigley. I definitely don't see this as a weak tour. It's not 2015, but I would call it above average for 3.0.
, comment by campheinievaginie
campheinievaginie I try not to go into shows with expectations, but I agree with the author here. The last shows I went to in 15 were Magnaball. There were tons of bust outs at the beginning of the tour this year, but nothing too exploratory. Felt more like a greatest hits tour. Dick's had everything I was missing this go around.
, comment by Jayrizzledizzle
Jayrizzledizzle Everybody all about measuring Dicks. Egotistical really.
, comment by FarTooManyRaccoons
FarTooManyRaccoons I enjoyed reading this review, albeit I think the review is a bit harsh when describing the quality of 2016. I feel that during this tour the emphasis was placed on tightness rather than exploration. Trey, for example, played composed sections more accurately, and showed more agility overall.

Perhaps the tendency to keep songs inside the box is a product of writing and recording new material. Regardless, I thoroughly enjoyed this year despite the absence of huge jams.
, comment by huntmich
huntmich I love how the author completely forgets about summer 2014, summer 2013, first half of summer 2011, and other tours that completely fell flat. Let's not pretend that 3.0 has been a steady upward trajectory since 2009. There have been many lulls that we don't understand. It is Phish. Get over your expectations.
, comment by HockeyStickMic
HockeyStickMic This review is a textbook example of how out of whack fans expectations have become for this band. If they jam too much, people criticize the song selection. If they break out tons of bust-outs, they are criticized for not enough 20 minute-plus jams. Their may have been some lackluster "moments" on this tour, but it was by no means a legendary failure. As they do with most tours, they picked up steam as they went along, and by Mansfield/Hartford they were playing great. The west coast and Dick's shows were loaded with bust-outs, superb experimentation, and inspired playing. We should be so lucky that they continue to perform as well overall as they did this summer.
, comment by Dantastic
Dantastic Sometimes I wonder how I can enjoy listening to the same songs over and over again, for years. Then I think about what it must be like for them to play the same songs over and over again, for even more years. The challenge for them has got to be bringing the same gusto, energy, mojo, i.e. love to their playing as when they first fell in love with making music. That can't be easy. So what makes a good show? Them getting out there, and doing their best to scratch that fucking itch.

Still waiting...for what? The gag? That ever elusive Gamehenge set or song you've been chasing? For death? Waiting is the natural state of being. Think about that next time in the beer, bathroom, or merch-line. The gag was: they played fucking awesome. They played all your favorite songs, awesomely. Trey played yet another uniquely face-melting once-in-a-lifetime guitar solo, for the gazillionth time. No trampolines, no vacuums, debuts, or gags-- be grateful for your marimba lumina drum freakout. If that's what it takes to scratch the itch tonight, so be it. As always, best show ever.
, comment by TwiceBitten
TwiceBitten Just finding this recap and these comments for the first time now. Gonna chime in to say that if @lumpblockclod was disappointed with the playing from this past summer that's on him not on the four guys on stage. I myself went into each show with a willingness to let the music take me where it wanted me to go and a commitment not to put my own personal expectations on a higher pedestal than the band's intentions. What I found was that Phish had become better at playing their own songs than at any time other time during this era. That counts for a whole lot in my book and it puzzles me that someone who started seeing the band in the early 90s would not also notice the reinvigorated love for the songbook that was the main takeaway from 2016. When all was said and done I felt that this tour was exactly like the 1996 summer tour and the band was "re-inventing itself" after the peak of the previous year. While you're not going to find too many fans who like '96 over 95 you're also not going to find too many who would call it "puzzling and disappointing". This reviewer may disagree now but I think he'd do well to remember that most of the true reinvention of '96 occurred on the second tour of the year and that he very well may be eating his words by the time Fall rolls around. Disappointing? Surely not! It's still the greatest show on earth!
, comment by ThomasFunkyEdison
ThomasFunkyEdison @SimpleCymbal said:
This is so bad. I'm all for criticism, but as many others are saying, summer wasn't that bad, jeez. So yeah, there wasn't type ii all day at every show, but I was at Portland>Hartford and had a great time every show.
See I think the difference here is you're not separating your experience from the music and setlists themselves. I've been to several lackluster shows and runs, like MSG 2011, and had a FANTASTIC time -- I mean, it's a Phish show, how can one have a BAD time? I don't think there's really much of an argument that 2016, musically speaking, was even remotely close to 2012, 2013, 2014, or 2015, as far as setlists and jamming goes. Hartford was one of the better shows of summer, so I can see why you may not agree with this review, but I was at Hartford through Lockn', and I assure you, the highlights were pretty minimal. I still had an amazing time, had lots of fun, gave high fives all around...but musically speaking, something just wasn't there this summer. I think in retrospect I would have saved my money and only hit Hartford, Gorge and Lockn', cause there really wasn't much added as far as the music goes by hitting the rest.

To me, summer 2016 felt more like 2009-2010...not *bad*, but really far from what we've seen in the last 5 years. The highlights were high, but the rest..well..ain't much to it.

Don't let .net reviews spoil your good time. It's ok that people have negative opinions of tours and shows, and it's certainly OK when they're put in writing. That shouldn't take away from your positive experience. I had a really positive experience this summer, but as I said, musically speaking I was actually pretty bored by the end of my run of shows.
, comment by chlakdsut
chlakdsut Dick's shows were not the best of tour in my opinion. I happen to think Chula Vista was the top show of the summer. But then again . . .

I call it like it is when I see Phish and I just cannot understand why there is so much negative talk about summer tour. The only thing I can attribute to it is us Phish fans not being OK with anything other than what we want to hear. I say "we" because I've been guilty of it many times. However, I'm just as satisfied with a show with incredibly tight playing and couple 15 minute jams, tightly played with beautiful peaks, as I am with a 30 minute stretched out version of a song. Frankly, I don't care how long the jam is as long as it's locked in and takes me to the musical place where Phish tends to. To say the band wasn't communicating well etc. this tour to me just says that you're disconnected from the energy the band is trying to deliver on stage. I thought they were incredibly connected, on point, and high energy. I bet they would disagree with you firmly. I thought there were a few more stand out shows last summer but I thought this summer delivered excellently in a much more high octane kind of way. I'm not gonna waste my time naming all the jams I thought were phenomenal this summer because the negative nancies on here are convinced of their own opinions already. To each his/her own.
, comment by ThomasFunkyEdison
ThomasFunkyEdison @chlakdsut said:
. . . The only thing I can attribute to it is us Phish fans not being OK with anything other than what we want to hear. I say "we" because I've been guilty of it many times. However, I'm just as satisfied with a show with incredibly tight playing and couple 15 minute jams, tightly played with beautiful peaks, as I am with a 30 minute stretched out version of a song. Frankly, I don't care how long the jam is as long as it's locked in and takes me to the musical place where Phish tends to. To say the band wasn't communicating well etc. this tour to me just says that you're disconnected from the energy the band is trying to deliver on stage. I thought they were incredibly connected, on point, and high energy.
I'm not sure this is an entirely accurate assessment of the negativity surrounding this summer. I'd say that most fans that have been to a certain number of shows (lets say >40-50) don't really have much they "want" to hear at a Phish show that would render them disappointed if they didn't hear. Likely after 40-50 shows you've heard essentially all of the major Phish tunes with a bunch of rarities, which I'm sure you know cause you've been to a ton of shows. I think the negativity (though I actually like to call it more of an open discussion, since there's so much fluffing and circle-jerking going on these days) stems from the fact that there weren't many big jams to hang your hat on this summer. Hell, there weren't many shows in which there were a "couple of 15 minute jams" this summer, as you alluded to in your response. And as far as the energy that you're speaking of? Sure there's always 'energy,' it's a rock and roll concert. But look at all of the 2nd sets this summer that a) lacked jams and b) had stretches of songs that took the energy out of the crowd completely.

I know I'm not alone when I say that the reason I go and see 10-15 shows a year isn't to get my 30th Character Zero or AC/DC Bag. Don't get me wrong, I absolutely love those tunes, and expect to get a handful when I see that many shows, but what actually drives me to take a week of vacation and fly across the country to see them 7 times in 8 days is the excitement of hearing some good ol' fashion Phish improv. One can argue the different merits of making a Phish show great, but there is absolutely no argument that this summer lacked the jamming that we've come to expect over the last 20+ years. And I think it's fair to 'expect' some form of jamming from Phish in 10 shows...they're a jam band, and it's their jamming that made them popular.

Perhaps add on the fact that many of their new songs are even more bubble-gum/downers than those on Joy and Fuego, despite Gordo saying it was 'all meat,' and you have fans that are not entirely pumped on this summer's run of shows.

It's ok that people have negative opinions of Phish. I'm a firm believer that disliking parts of Phish is an essential part of loving Phish.

Much love, and can't wait to see y'all in the Fall!
, comment by abishag
abishag Thanks Phish. You made my 365th show (Sunday at Dicks) so special. The whole Dicks run was epic. Fall will crush. Mahalo.
, comment by J_D_G
J_D_G Terrific reply!

@icculusFTW said:
I really disagree with the idea -- being expressed by a lot of responses to this review -- that it is somehow the role of Phish.net reviewers to not "taint" your personal feelings about the show, or to always say that every show and tour was "great," and we all had such "a great time."

We all love Phish here. High fives all around.

But this is a place for open and thoughtful discussion of the band's shows that recognize the fact that different shows are, in fact, different, and that, relative to the standards set by the band itself, some are, at least to many discerning listeners, 'better' in certain respects than others -- and that that is OK, and it is not Phish.net's job to protect you from that fact.

We are all entitled to our opinions -- and if you disagree with a review, you can say why and have a civil conversation without blaming the site for making you feel less special about your experience. Your feelings about the experience are yours alone -- Phish.net has no power over them.

@mistarich said:
This is a review stating opinion as fact. I saw 14 shows this summer and left Dick's loving the band as much as ever. That positive energy I left with was tainted by reading this review (which happens a lot with phish.net reviews). I would encourage you to employ a new formula for your reviews. For example, have more than one person (even 5) contribute or debate the review before printing it. The biased opinion of one fan is the reason my friends and I stay off phish.net during tour. While I agree that some shows left something to be desired this year, who are we to decide where the band's head space is at and what they are trying to achieve. We can't forget that in the early day's phish was more of a progressive rock band than a jam. Now they are an incredibly diverse band and it is unfair to judge them simply based off one criteria. The energy was there this weekend and the band was channeling it perfectly. I for one thought each night of the Dick's run built upon each other. After I left Saturday I had no idea how they could go up from there. But then they laid down a crosseyed-fest for the ages.
, comment by Nigel_Tufnel
Nigel_Tufnel [Before I start: My OPINION vantage point is 68 shows since 1989]

I'm sad. Phish is evolving... changing.... and I am finally just starting to lose interest a tiny bit (which just means I'm not quite as obsessed anymore).

I think most old school hardcores would concur with the following quality hierarchy:
1. '97 - '98
2. Dick's 2012
3. Summer 2015

In that context, summer & Dick's 2016 would sound disappointing.... as they do to me. There can be any number of root causes and conditions for the absence of quality, long, cohesive type II jams, and I won't speculate here. However, what I will comment on is Trey's new trend of putting down the guitar and going up to jam with Fish on percussion and/or marimba lumina. Once in a tour, perhaps as a freaky fun occurrence would be OK, but now it's a trend. And a disappointing one at that.

I'm a little sad.... but not giving up hope. I will never give up hope. And I will always - for the rest of my life - have an entire library of "go to" jams to lean on. For that I am grateful.

Peace,
~Nigel
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