, attached to 2015-07-22

Review by Franklin

Franklin Some context that's important to keep in mind: last year, Phish released an album called "Fuego." Then, on Halloween, they played eleven high-concept songs (essentially an entire additional album). On the first night of this run, they premiered three brand-new pieces of music, and at this show, debuted four more (three of which had been played with side projects, but still needed to get the Phishy treatment). In short: this band is alive and kicking.

STASH served as a fun, tone-setting opener. It grooved a little more than usual, and featured some very dextrous playing by that kid who replaced Jerry. HOW MANY PEOPLE ARE YOU is where the set really takes off for me, with Mike Gordon reminding us that he has no qualms about kicking our front doors in and stealing our girlfriends. The song rocks as something around an 80% ragefest, with Page supplying some hardcorde organ work over the intro. Many observers (self included) drew comparisons to The Who, as the song's open rocking felt somewhat Bargain-esque. Thinking that we were in for more of the lugubrious funk that marked the end of last night's show, we were given a surprise WINTERQUEEN, which Trey promptly nailed in the solo section. The Dead tours really paid off here, giving a bit of a boost to Trey's already-strong melodic soloing. Then came another new one, HEAVY ROTATION, with Page (the songwriter) on vocals. It definitely started a little clunky, with some low-key verses, but the instrumental section was that followed was very fun and can definitely get opened up into all sorts of jamming later on. BOTT's solo section was surprisingly splendid; this is definitely an above-average version. Plus, the Streets of Cairo tease made me giggle. SCABBARD, the third new song, really helped show off the band's versatility, as it ended with a very dreamy, ambient section, featuring Fish supplying some well-laid rolls on the good ol' marimba lumina. MAZE was an absolute barnburner. This is not a Phish song that I usually look forward to hearing, but once the instrumental section came in, I was absolutely delighted. Page and Trey had some fantastic, high-risk, high energy interplay that could have become a huge mess but instead really grooved. If you listen to anything from this show, listen to this song. MERCURY, the only new song which had not seen a debut with a side-band, followed. I spent most of the first minute or so emotionally recovering from Maze, but Mercury proved to be worth paying attention to, with some moderately-paced verses, then a brief instrumental thumb-twiddling section, then a really lovely section that I can really only describe as uptempo Slave. There was a false ending, and then a bit more jamming, much to the bewilderment of your Phish.net chat room, but a little extra grooving was more than welcome. POSSUM came next, and the group showed that, while they can accomplish incredible feats like those four debuts and that raging Maze, they can also do basic, twelve-bar blues incredibly well. Probably an above-average Possum.

I was not prepared for an incredibly uptempo Set II after all of the craziness that the first set delivered, and Phish seemed to be in a similar state of mind. ASIHTOS set a tone for a very mellow third quarter, and was played very competently (I really don't like this song). The > WAVES kept the low-key attitude going, and the version supplied was predictably gorgeous. WINGSUIT was an absolutely perfect choice for the moment; if the band had gone into something blazing after that Waves, the juxtaposition just would've been weird. FARMHOUSE, a song that I find entirely delightful, was next, and was done rather competently. Then, seemingly out of nowhere, came SIMPLE. I don't necessarily agree with the > on .net, thinking that this one is just a comma, but okay. The cymbals, saxaphones, skyscrapers, and bebop brought the energy way up high for a nice little danceable segment, and then things dropped out as we entered the first type II jam of summer terr! Hooray! The version Phish gave us was rather complex, and stripped away any concerns that last night gave about the band become a guitar solo vehicle. Very strong playing by all, not only in terms of dexterity, but in terms of improvisational know-how and risk-taking. FIRST TUBE was not that great in the beginning section, but then started to come back together as a fun party tune to close out set II.

BATHTUB GIN was definitely a surprise as the encore, but the version did not disappoint. Phish navigated this hilarious song very deftly, and then brought us through a slightly modest, but definitely still impressive jam session.

Is 7/22/15 a date that we're going to be throwing around left and right, like 12/31/95 or 11/17/97 or even 7/27/14? Probably not. Does it have a landmark jam? No, I don't think we're looking at the Bend Simple (although, I would advocate for the Bend Maze becoming a big thing) too much in the far future. Should you hear it if you haven't already? Absolutely. Should you listen to it ten times? Probably not.

But this was an important show, an ambitious show, a show by a band that knows that what it's done for the past thirty years has worked, but that they are still going to try to reinvent themselves. Four new songs in the first set and a pretty mellow second set definitely give us something interesting, but the most important thing about this show is that it proves that the rumors are true: this is an important time for Phish. This band is for real.


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