, attached to 2014-08-01

Review by solargarlic78

solargarlic78 https://medium.com/the-phish-from-vermont/beached-review-8-1-14-d56fb0d67cec

Beached: Review 8/1/14

Well, I guess every tour needs a stinker. Don’t get me wrong — the DWD was top notch. It created perhaps one of my favorite jam moments of the entire tour. Perhaps we are spoiled, but I think we should expect a Phish show to give us more than 10 “must hear” minutes in an entire show (I should also mention the “Tweezer” jam was amazing, but mercilessly ‘f*ckerpants’d’). I think another factor worth mentioning: Orange Beach, Alabama is a 14 hour drive from Portsmouth, VA. With only one day off in between, those on tour were forced to go on quite an epic journey (only to head back north today!). In the past, Phish has rewarded fans who trek to out of the way shows, but if I had driven 14 hours for last night’s oh-so-standard affair, I would have not been pleased. With Jerry’s birthday, a sublime beach setting, and an out of the way, late-tour show, we should’ve expected more.

The first set was painfully standard. The “Chalkdust” opener saw this song back in its comfort zone as a first set rocker. However, they played it slow like they have in many of the epic second set versions this tour. But, it should have a higher tempo for a set 1 opening type 1 rocker. “Moma”, “Heavy Things” (Page again with the solo sans Trey), and “555" followed (a lot of funk numbers in a set that also included “Tube” and “Wolfman’s”; as a fan of set 1 “diversity”, I think that’s too much funk — if that’s possible). Is anyone else surprised “555" has been the most played Fuego song along with its title track? I would have probably predicted “The Line” or “Sing Monica”, but kudos to Mike for penning a song that Phish (read: Trey) really seems to love to play (unlike “Sugar Shack” and other Mike songs). Trey said some cool stuff about the Muscle Shoals studio and him getting “teary eyed” playing “555" which was recorded there (see this article for an amazing story of the sessions musicians who play with Phish for those recordings — and see netflix for a cool, if overly cheesy, documentary on the legendary studios in this town). “Rift”, the overplayed “46 Days” (something about this song in 2014 — the Letterman show opener was a sign), and an under 5, “Tube”, were all standard versions, and the second “Devotion to a Dream” in as many shows is probably too much. The highlight of the set I guess was “Wolfman’s Brother” (which, as I’ve mentioned before, has settled in a pretty predictable formula for its jam: funk->rock peak). But, even this one was weaker when compared to other recent versions (more Trey wank than patient funk). The bustout of “The Ballad of Curtis Loew” was a nice “southern” touch for (sweet home) Alabama, but not enough to recover this set. The redundant rock pairing of “Free” and “Character 0" to end the set was unspectacular to say the least.

Set 2 gave us the predictable opener of “Down with Disease.” This version at first appeared to be going through the ‘groove’ motions of most versions this tour. Out of the type I jam, Trey switches to minor chord rhythm guitar and the jam grooves along to its conclusion. After several groove minutes, however, this one switched to a major key melodious section. If one can complain about Phish “bliss” jams (I would never!), it is that they often sound very similar — pretty arpeggios, Trey trills, and Page on the piano. Well, this one was altogether different. After Trey signaled the major key modulation, the jam took on a driving, hypnotic orientation. With Mike playing circular “fluttery” bass runs, and Page playing repetitive arpeggios on the piano, Trey was playing off beat major key chords. It was simultaneously beautiful and syncopated (a rare combination). Eventually, this groove started just building and building energy. I have mentioned that in the last few shows it seemed like Phish wants to avoid the easy “peaks” where jams build to an explosion of Trey joyous soloing. Well, this one couldn’t avoid it — the energy demanded it — but Trey kept his soloing to a brief minimum (I would have preferred he go for about 8 more measures!), before the jam transitioned into yet another section based on a droning Trey open stringed note that creates a more abstract space. As another groove picked up, it felt like this on could go another 10 minutes, but a well played “Theme From the Bottom” interrupted the flow. “Tweezer” in the 3rd quarter? Yes please. From the get go this one started with less funk than usual, and created a jazzy melody of Trey octave phrases. After building that for a few minutes, the jam turned more ethereal and spacious, and Mike found this very beautiful descending melody. Trey picked up on it an started playing what can only be described as a lullaby-esque melody. Delicate and gorgeous. In a relatively recent type ii cast (I really wish this podcast would come back!), @jeffersonwaful — the light tech for Umphrey’s McGee, and also a big Phish fan — discussed how Hood jams often create these simple melodies that take us to place of “childlike wonder.” What an amazing insight, and that is exactly what this “Tweezer” did. As the jam started to lift off from the simple quiet lullaby, I thought we really might be in for something extraordinary. But, Trey decided to go with the second “Prince Caspian” since Tuesday — hmmmmmm. “Fuego” actually went back into “Tweezer” which was kind of nostalgic, but I doubt the band wanted to reenact another “Tweezer-fest” — and that would have been gimmicky and disrespectful to the organic, spontaneity of 7/27/14. Another mid-set “Slave” followed. I don’t like this placement. This is best as set capper, but in the middle it just feels odd. Nevertheless, it was its usual beautiful soaring self. 2001->Boogie->Antelope had some nice teases (Boogielope!), but also could be seen as a ripchorded “Boogie” (the segue into Antelope did not feel natural…the Boogie was just starting to go “out there” and Trey started playing it abruptly). The encore of “Bouncing->Tweeprise” just seemed like an appropriate choice given the show that happened.

Again, in early 3.0 an amazing 20 minute jam like the DWD would have created a “house money” situation. But, this is ‘14 — and this show was 14 hours from the last one — we should expect a bit more on the last weekend of tour. If I had to pick one, this would definitely be the weakest overall show of the summer.

As an aside, I really wished they would’ve played a dead song on Jerry’s birthday. They are so comfortable as Phish now, why not? My idea: just integrate “Scarlet Begonias” (or something) into the rotation. Let it become a “Rock and Roll” or “Crosseyed”; a set 2 opening jam vehicle. Why not? Surely Phish is as influenced by the Grateful Dead as they are by the Velvet Underground or the Talking Heads. Oh well. Only two shows left. If I had to bet money, I would predict tonight will be the first “Fuego-less” venue of tour. But, who knows, maybe the “everybody gets a Fuego” rule will hold.


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