, attached to 2017-12-29

Review by jakemaye95

jakemaye95 Last night's show was a great Phish show, because these days pretty much all Phish shows reach a certain standard of greatness, which is really good for us. However, because they are playing so well, they often reach a higher high than the previously mentioned standard of greatness. That means that these days, Phish can play a great show (last night) and it can still feel like kind of a disappointment (also last night). Now, down to business:

First set was solid Phish. (I also almost wrote 'good,' 'decent,' 'fine,' 'standard' Phish). Some nice playing in Blaze On, and a sweet peak in Walls of a Cave (a song that I must admit is not usually my cup of tea, but by the end of this version I was loving it). Also, amazing call to play Destiny Unbound. That song should be played more. My buddy (@jklinow) said during the show: "I don't understand why they don't play Destiny more. It's awesome, and the rarity factor isn't really part of why it's awesome. I'd be fine hearing them play it often." Me too. Frankly, though, song selection in this set was not my favorite, as I'm not a huge 555 fan, and I feel that they should've chosen either Ocelot or Heavy Things. We didn't need both.

Second set was quite good. Sand had some great type I interplay and was a nice way to get the set started. When Chalkdust started up, I (and presumably the rest of the crowd) was both very excited and on the edge of my seat. BD Chalkdust is, to me, one of the finest jams of 3.0. Indeed, many of the best jams of 3.0 have come out of Chalkdust. Would this version be another installment? I'll let you be the judge, as it's definitely worth a listen. This was certainly a fantastic jam. Upon arriving at the jam segment, Trey quickly moves the band into a major key, leading to some very pretty interplay. Trey was also showcasing his new octave-y effect (I believe it is some sort of MIDI thing). It can make the notes he plays sound as if only the highest and lowest frequencies are coming through - pretty cool. Anyway he does that in this jam. Around 14 mins, after a nice major section, the band moves back into a more bluesy feel, reminiscent of the composed Chalkdust jam. Trey takes the lead here, beginning to expertly weave melodies to build to a peak, as he is wont to do. Page is playing some simple but crucial backing chords. Fishman is laying into a polyrhythmic drum beat, which leads to his choice to later switch to a more standard beat an excellent release of tension. Mike has been standout this run, in my opinion, and he is again here. The jam moves into an INCREDIBLE peak, with Trey breaking out the whale-call. However, he doesn't use it in the horrible 2011 way, he uses it in the awesome 1999 way. In fact, the peak of this jam certainly calls to mind the excellent 7/10/99 version. The jam peters out into a funky breakdown, which then slides into the beginning of Ghost.

Now, before we talk about the rest of the set, a little more analysis of that jam. As I said, it was incredible, and being in that room when the peak was reached was, as it always is, a breathtaking moment. However, for me, upon re-listen it is somewhat one-dimensional, as once the switch to the major key is made early on, the rest of the jam stays within that general framework. This jam lacked a uniqueness factor that so many of Phish's upper-echelon jams have. For example, the BD Chalkdust has a stunning peak, but it also has two sections leading to that: one with major-key hose playing, and another with weird, amazing, plinko-ish sparse funk. This one was pretty much all build-up to one (admittedly very satisfying) peak. Again, it was great, as Phish always is, but not quite that next level we were all used to during the Dozen.

Okay, back to business. The rest of the second set was good. Ghost is an awesome song, obviously. Now, I'm usually one to fight people on the idea that length = good, because what's great about Phish these days is that they can often reach high highs without jamming for that long (see 12/28's Twist, before the ripcord). However, for this Ghost, I do wish they had stuck with it for a bit longer. We've seen that they're able to follow one big jam with another, and I would've loved to see that here, or at least just a little more funk. Number Line is next. Honestly, this is really a good song. Always comes when you wish there was more jamming, though. Even if you don't like it at the beginning, Trey will probably sway you by the end, as he did again here. Simple is a GREAT call. Huge energy boost, awesome lyrics to belt along with the band, and we get to sing about skyscrapers. Of course, Simple can often be a big jam vehicle, and it was decidedly not in this case. However, I don't think of this as wasting a song at all. During a four-night run, the band's not going to be able to use all their big jam vehicles, so I love to see them understand what role each song can play and use them in that way. Blaze On is perfect for creating a great dance-party energy - play it early first set. Simple is great for keeping the building rockin' - play it in the fourth quarter. (Also, small side-note, but while I love jammed-out Simples as much as the next guy, I also love a role-playing Simple more than most. See 10/31/94 and 6/17/94 [OJ show] for others - but also to appreciate them you must listen to the whole set.) Split Open and Melt as a set 2 closer? Thank youuu! I love this song, and have only seen them play it one other time I believe, so this was a huge treat. Very solid version; the jam was certainly very out-there, and for me one of the most important things about SOAM is whether or not they nail the ending, which they did here. Julius encore is a good one. I love to see ol' Leo take a solo, and Trey delivered here as well.

All told, this was a very good Phish concert. Some great jamming (Chalkdust), some awesome wild-card song choices (Destiny), and some smart setlist crafting (Simple). However, for me at least, it didn't quite reach the highs that I know Phish is capable of reaching these days. A very good show, but not a great one. But, as always, this is just my $0.02, and YMMV. Thanks for reading!


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