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Permalink Posted by n00b100 on , attached to 2011-08-15
n00b100This is 1a (along with 9/4/11) for 2011 shows for me. The first set is very well-constructed and has some nice highlights - a sharp set-opening BOTT; a strong 3.0 Wolfman's with the song's funkier underpinnings leavened by Trey's "plinko" playing style and a more upbeat, soaring finale; a lovely Reba with a short jam that still hits a nice peak; and a scorching AB > LTJP > AB closer that's all the sweeter for not having been planned in advance.

The second set, of course, is already one of the beloved 3.0 sets, and it really does leap from strength to strength. The Sand is bouncy and funky, with Trey's guitar really adding to the grooviness (which is why it's so much better when he plays guitar on Sand - he can lead the groove to more open waters, instead of forcing the band to lock into one beat while he dicks around on a keyboard), before the jam winds down into darkness. Light doesn't reach the heights of any of 2012's great versions, but still gets good and weird (Mike's big alien-sounding notes leading the charge), which makes the following Dirt a welcome breather. Then comes the much-loved and increasingly rare Waves, and the actual Waves jam is fine if standard, but the post-song jam is a powerful and uplifting full band statement, and it leads wonderfully into Undermind. This Undermind is probably the set's highlight, boasting a tremendous solo from Trey and a lovely closing jam that strips itself to the barest essence, Trey and Page having a gorgeous duet, Page whipping out his trusty theremin to really add to the atmosphere. The jam segues well into Steam, and while I'm not in love with the lyrics, the song is very interesting musically (it has a heck of a mid-song peak), and I'd be all for it entering the rotation more often. Fire perfectly closes out a glorious set, with a great gimmick, amazing song selection (how many sets have an equal 2.0/3.0 to 1.0 song ratio???), and wonderful jams. Then, with a mischievous chuckle, Trey announces the UIC's lack of a curfew policy, and we get an extended encore 12/30/97 style, capped with (as it should be) Hood to send everyone home dancing on air.

I can honestly say that this is one of the shows that hooked me to this band when I first heard it. Everything you'd want in a Phish show - strong playing, deep jams, superb song selection, bustouts, and the band's big beating heart on display - can be found here. If you wanted to introduce a new Phish fan to 3.0, this might very well be the place to start.
Score: 1

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