, attached to 2014-07-26

Review by solargarlic78

solargarlic78 https://medium.com/the-phish-from-vermont/feel-good-phish-a3aa2f3e3fc3

Feel Good Phish: Review 7/26/14

Phish continued their focus on segues at Merriweather last night. On the one hand, these segues are a testament to their intense musical communication by crafting a fluid, coherent transition from an intense jam to the next song. On the other hand, “amazing segues” necessarily mean jams are being cut short. Last night kept a nice balance. Would have I liked “Carini”, “Ghost”, and “Steam” to go longer? Yes. But, the jams once again so efficiently got to ‘out there’ and very interesting spaces that the segues were rarely overly jarring.

In the First Set you could tell the band was “feeling it” from “Moma Dance” on. The funk number had an extended opening section with Trey playing around with the opening chords and Mike creating breathtaking fills. “Feeling it” means trying to “freshen” songs up, by adding interesting and different riffs and chord voicings in sections that usually sound exactly the same. This backfired pretty horribly in “Wedge” as everything Trey tried to insert was meant to be tasty and fresh, but ended up sounding just flat out wrong and awkward. Well, I guess I prefer the risk taking to a safe version. Following “Moma” with “Wombat” is not the greatest for setlist diversity (this set also included the funky “Wolfman’s”), but early on “Wombat” feels fresh and this funk jam did not disappoint. The highlight of the set for me was an absolutely blissful “Roggae.” I’ve mentioned before how open this jam is (and dependent on band interplay). For my money, Mike is the one to listen to during Roggae — he is at his “Leshy” best filling in the space with melodic runs. This version really built to a Trey-led peak, but a peak that featured Trey at his restrained best (i.e., not “playing too many notes). The “Wolfman’s Brother” also was really restrained and based on full band improv rather than an overextended rock-Trey peak. The funk section lasted a while and got really thick and textured; eventually the rock-peak did come, but it was basically peak and get out. In my view “Roggae” and “Wolfman’s” created a “House Money” set for me — which was good because some might get a little perturbed during the “Nellie Kane” “Lawn Boy” “The Line” run of songs. The “Stash” once again saw “quiet jams” that were so heavily featured in Charlotte. This one really didn’t get ‘out’ of the Stash structure for my liking — that is, it didn’t get weird enough. But, a standard Stash is still great and helped anchor the Roggae and Wolfman’s highlights.

Set 2 opened with “Carini” (for the third time of tour if memory serves). This version once again saw a “mercurial” jamming style where the band effortlessly shuffled quickly between themes and keys. Then at the end, the energy seemed to really build — the tempo increased, and Trey’s playing became more rock-oriented. I felt like the energy might explode into a pretty glorious peak, but Trey found “Ghost” pretty quickly. My MVP of 2014, this version once again was very unique. Rather than the funk->bliss peak formula, or the abstract one chord build of Northerly, this one was just fun and rocking. It eventually led to a chord progression — much like the Northerly “Wedge” — that immediately had everyone asking “what is this????” We are still not sure, but it sounded like the best of ‘80s hair metal. The jam then transitioned into a decidedly weirder and more interesting groove. I would have liked that groove to hang out a bit longer, but the segue into “Steam” was nicely done. “Steam’s” jam is usually in between the choruses (for the best see 7/5/13), but this version was relatively standard until after the final chorus. The band embarked on a “second jam” of sorts that immediately was “out” of the basic structure (the Bill Graham version of last summer did something similar). This was an evil and nasty groove that could have really blasted off into something extraordinary. But, like it or not, Trey found the opening melody of “Mango Song” and it is hard to be upset with that classic early Phish song (even if we got one earlier in tour). This was a very well played version. “Sing Monica” is one of the rarer Fuego tunes and I still rather like it. The set was then at turning point. They would either go into “Theme from the Bottom” and make it another “songy” set, or kick out another jam for us. Jam is what we got with yet another great “Light.” This one was its normal groove-oriented self that flirted with a “Manteca” jam. In a night of many segues, the highlight for me was an incredibly seamless transition int0 “2001". All it took was Trey’s feedback that usually precedes the 2001 melody to signal to all the other band members that 2001 looms — Fish kicked in the drums and we were in it. I’m attending tonight’s show and couldn’t make it last night, so I was pretty upset when they played this weekend’s “Harry Hood” (I pretty much would be happy to get this at every show). I’ve written earlier that I’m not sure I’m on board with normalizing type II Hoods. It is nice as a rare treat, but I love me some type I soaring bliss D major jams. It plays a critical role in Phish shows as the “reflective capper” for a set 2 of more exploratory jams. And, what a glorious type I Hood it was. Really hit the spot. @heyscottyb called this a “Page-led” version — and I’m not sure I’d go that far, as Trey was front in center in the jam — but, Page was undoubtedly a star of this jam. Many have noted Page’s expanding rig of organs and electric keyboards, but this tour I have loved him on piano. He is at his melodic best on the basic instrument. In 3.0, it kind of has felt that “Hood” has been played more restrained — creating an atmospheric crescendo rather than a “peak” more common to 1.0 version. This version really peaked out in a fantastic way — Trey played around with a simple melodic motif in the beginning and eventually was trilling toward glorious builds off simple D major chord arpeggios. Most people seemed enthused with this “Hood” — and reminds everyone how great a straight-ahead version can be to end a night on. They played a disappointing if expected “Julius” encore.

This show doesn’t hold a candle to Randalls 3 (perhaps on par with Randalls 2 — in fact, a very similar setlist!), but was arguably the best show since that Sunday show. And, now we have the penultimate “Sunday Show” we better not miss. And, I’ll be there!


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