, attached to 2010-06-29

Review by ThePhanastasio

ThePhanastasio The Connection is certainly not one of Phish's bigger songs and has been played only a few times, but this particular rendition was plenty strong enough to open up a more fun, laid back set. It isn't a song that has the particular power to get a place raging, but it is a pleasant, upbeat tune and got CMAC off to a fairly enjoyable start. The execution was flawless, with a few good moments for Trey and Page.

After a few moments, the boys launched into Down With Disease, which started off with a marked lack of energy in comparison to what had been delivered in shows previous. About four or five minutes in, the song began to gain momentum and energy which it lacked from its onset. Unfortunately, in spite of having huge potential to go really wonderful places on several occasions with the jamming, Down With Disease was ultimately too short and not completely satisfying.

Sample in a Jar, a fan favorite, was up next and kept up with the happier tones adopted with the two songs previous. The transition was abrupt, and this particular rendition was more on the typical side. It was, nonetheless, enjoyable, although Trey's vocals seemed a bit "foggy, rather groggy" throughout the majority of the song. Sample had the potential to be one of the more spectacular versions of 3.0, but attention to detail over enthusiasm made it a more textbook rendition than a real event.

Trey addressed the audience, acknowledging that an audience member in a hat was lookin' good and workin' it on that particular evening. Following this assessment, Ocelot began, and in spite of my strong aversion to the song, it finally started to sound as though Trey and the fellas were beginning to have a good time. The song lagged a little bit in the middle, but regained its footing shortly thereafter. The jamming potential was never fully explored, (It was unfortunately cut short as all too many potentially great jams have been on this tour) but the tune was certainly on the more satisfying end of the spectrum.

Reba quickly established itself one of the strongest points in an almost solid but ultimately unremarkable first set. This was not one of the definitive all-time performances of Reba, although it was certainly above average. It definitely went in some interesting directions a time or two. All four of the guys were spectacular, shining as they supplemented a really wonderful little jam. There were parts of Reba which were absolutely mind-blowingly beautiful. Because of this, it's certainly worth a second listen, and definitely deserving of appreciation and praise.

Horn was a surprisingly good choice to follow that particular performance of Reba. Horn was as Horn pretty much always is: Short and sweet. Like Reba, Horn was really quite lovely on this evening, bringing a smile to my face throughout much of the song.

Funky Bitch quickly changed the direction and momentum of the set. While Reba and Horn had slowed things down, making for a more beautiful and peaceful fifteen minutes of so of the set, Funky Bitch brought the energy level back up, and in a far more pleasant way than the first four songs of the set. It brought the vibe from listening and appreciating to happy, grooving, dancing and having a good time.

Funky Bitch begat Undermind, and what an Undermind it was! Mike was absolutely on point, certainly helping this to become one of, if not the most spectacular Undermind performances since its live debut at Hampton in March of 2009. Although the man rarely gets his deserved recognition, it seemed as though Fishman really had shining moments throughout much of Undermind as well. One of the undeniable strong points in the set.

Following a spectacular Undermind came yet another throw-away performance of The Ballad of Curtis Loew. The song is always fun - that's obvious. The song is, however, rarely if ever spectacular. The Ballad of Curtis Loew has the unfortunate distinction of being a song which can be heard and not hated by the vast majority of Phish fans, but it's also very easily done without. This performance of The Ballad of Curtis Loew did not stand out from other versions much at all. It was definitely a piece of unnecessary filler in the set.

To close the set, Phish went to one of their old standbys: David Bowie. David Bowie really is always a joy to hear, and this was no exception. All four sounded spectacular during David Bowie, and it was a really tight performance of an old favorite. There was nothing really stand-out about this Bowie, but it was very well-executed and ultimately a satisfying set-closer. I'd also like to point out that to me, there was a bit of the jam that reminded me of the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers theme. Moving on.

The second set started off with Possum, which is fun enough. There was a whole lot more intensity and energy opening the second set, and that was good to see. It seems like the boys were finally awake for this one. The Possum set opener was about average in duration and in every other aspect, but it definitely got the job done. Phish had come to play this second set.

This was proven even more strongly when they launched into Mike's Song; it was easily the best performance of Mike's Song of the tour thus far, possibly even of 3.0. This was, without a doubt, the most fun that the band or the fans had up to this point in the concert. This Mike's is the kind of thing fans come to see from the band, and it was glorious.

Mike's went into Simple, in its second showing of the tour so far. This was a very energetic piece of playing on everyone's part and kept the grooveability quotient high. Page had really wonderful shining moments throughout, and the crowd was eating it up. The jam went to some really spacey and wonderful places and really showcased how well these guys do and can play.

Surprisingly, Simple gave way not to Weekapaug Groove or even I Am Hydrogen, but to the premiere of a Phish cover, and one of the absolute highlights of the entire show: I Am the Walrus. With all of The Beatles songs in Phish's repertoire, it was actually quite surprising that this was the first time I Am the Walrus had showed up in a set. The jam was good and dark and absolutely launched what could have just been a good cover into legendary status. It felt as though the entire show had been leading up to this moment, and it didn't disappoint.

Following I Am the Walrus, Phish went into Weekapaug Groove, keeping the intensity high and jaws dropped with the sheer level of awesome that was everything from Mike's Song on. At this point, it no longer mattered that the show had started off as a lackluster throw-away piece of Phish 3.0 - this was really good stuff. The improvisation in the jam was reminiscent of Phish in the days of yore, a complete thrill and joy to all who heard it and to all who will hear it in the future. Mike was completely killing it, and Trey allowed the jamming to continue, surprisingly not cutting it off as he has been prone to do as of late - Big Red was in the zone. For the first time in a while, Weekapaug Groove actually seemed to be, well, grooving.

Weekapaug went into Limb By Limb, which almost felt like a letdown. It was played well, but it had nowhere near the wow factor built up from Mike's Song > Simple > I Am the Walrus > Weekapaug Groove. It just didn't feel like the right song somehow, and was something of a disappointment. It had its moments, but just didn't fit.

An even worse letdown was the song which followed Limb By Limb: Joy. Joy is a great song, don't get me wrong, it just seems as though the boys went in the exact wrong direction following that spectacular Mike's all the way to Weekapaug, strayed from the path with Limb By Limb (but there was still hope to bring it back) then Joy happened. It was frustrating, to say the very least. It almost felt like an insult that the lyrics claimed, "We want you to be happy". The solo didn't even really make it better - Joy may have ruined the set. If this set was a "puzzle, but one of the pieces was gone," Joy was absolutely NOT the piece that was missing. I've never been so unhappy to hear Joy in a show, ever.

When Joy was finished, the band went into Harry Hood which always leaves me a bit apprehensive; there are times Harry Hood is absolutely wonderful, but other times it completely falls flat on its face. Fortunately for everyone involved, this Hood falls into the former camp. In spite of its brevity, it served to get the second set back on track after having been derailed by Limb By Limb and Joy.

The second set closed with a typical and short Golgi Apparatus. It may have been played well, but it almost didn't feel right in its position either. It left me scratching my head, wondering if they were going to pull out all the stops for their encore.

They didn't. First Tube clocked in at a little less than ten minutes, still leaving much to be desired. The energy in First Tube certainly wasn't lacking, but there was no way that the song was able to tie the rest of the show up neatly.

All in all, this particular show made me feel many, varied emotions: Near apathy; appreciation of beautiful sounds; a desire to groove; excitement; extreme joy and awe; mild disappointment; thinly veiled fury; relief; and slightly unsatisfied. Ultimately, the show just left me confused. There were real shining moments in the show, and when they shone, they really shone. Unfortunately, these were bogged down with some real clunkers. Overall, I'll be optimistic because of how very good the stronger moments in the show were and rate this show a 6/10.


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