Phish arrived in New Jersey at the PNC Bank Arts Center on Tuesday evening with every intention to make the two-night stint a successful reunion after over a decade from the venue. The UFO styled pavilion offers interesting sound reflection for those on the lawn and provides great views for about 90% of the audience. After opening with a powerful 'Chalk Dust Torture', a tribute to Trey's trials and tribulations in the New Jersey school system, the band eased into 'Roggae', providing a calming and beautiful melody for the summer night. Once a particularly strong 'Punch You in the Eye' was unleashed, the rest of the set opened up for a very funky dance party. Page, one of the MVPs of the night, can chalk up 'The Moma Dance' on the scoreboard for a reason why. The song's pirate oriented lyrics also made some connection to the Jersey coastline. After Big Red's sloppy introduction into 'Rock and Roll', the band proved it didn't have to stash it as a second set opener as seen in summers past, nor a set closer, like the strong as the version on New Year's Eve. This ten minute powerhouse about a little girl and the music on a New York radio station brought the crowd to a roar. Out of the last four versions of 'Sand', two have been performed in New Jersey (Atlantic City and Holmdel) and two have been performed in New York (Utica and Madison Square Garden for NYE).. look out Darien Lake? The 'Sand' jam had great potential this time around, starting with some swanky stretching and pulling guitar work that never seemed to advance to a higher degree. Just as Gordon tried to take the lead on the jam and direct it into new territory, Trey cut him off. The look on the bassist's face during this moment was quite priceless, however lacking in musical awesomeness the moment had. 'Sand' was dedicated to Max and family and friends due to the passing of a young boy in his sleep during the shows in Bethel, NY. After some members in the crowd yelled the deep call for 'Tube', Trey made a joke referring to the 'Makisupa Policeman from Bethel' saying "Page's house, Page's house'. That gem that transcended into the similar styled 'Harry Hood', which left Fishman compelled to drum the intro post-'Sand'. The Page-led 'Tube' furthered the funky dance party around the PNC Arts Center, igniting the crowds passion for the performers. 'The Divided Sky' was another thing, though. After another sloppy intro from Trey, he simply plays a very off beat yet still fitting line after the funky palindrome section (after about 2:30 on the official release). For close to a full minute, Trey is either not playing or playing very badly. He says on the microphone "I meant to do that" which only made his mistake more obvious. In my opinion, he could have continued down a different path, making this 'Divided Sky' unique yet not as painstakingly flubbed. But, we're all human, right? The song finished off well, leading into the anthem-like and appropriate set closet, 'Character Zero'.
Tuesday's second set is where the band really shined and made up for their lack of exploratory music during Bethel's third night. For the fifth time in Phish's history, they covered J.J. Cale's 'After Midnight'. Instead of the short, token versions seen in the past year, a nearly 12 minute psychedelic journey ensued. Whereas New Year's Eve contained a powerful and staccato face melting guitar punch, this version ran along the same lines as 'Rock and Roll' and 'Sand' with Trey using his new effects liberally. Even songs that they have been playing relatively the same during 3.0, Phish's new sound this summer is definitely there. 'After Midnight' continued into a 'Tube'-like jam with bass heavy tones from Page on the keyboards. Again, the Chairman proves to be a contender for band MVP this tour as he plays with various scales and styles while Trey simply provides some standard noodling while Fishman and Gordon keep to Page's exploratory rhythm. While the transitioning into 'Possum' seemed harsh, it actually kept the crowd happy by bring the party back uptempo instead of drifting further into the cosmos. With an exceptionally long build up, 'Possum' again fit the tone of the Garden State Parkway as a crusin' tune for this summer and became the first repeated song of Phish's summer 2011 tour, first played during set two on May 27th. Phish then made their way into possibly the highlight of the night, a two part punch of The Who's 'Drowned' into 'Maze'. Here the band showcased their ability to switch tempos and rhythms and entered an ambient soundscape. Right before the opening drum beats of 'Maze' are heard, Trey plays some electric funk reminiscent of the one and only Riverport Gin. 'Maze' was also a particularly strong song for Page to showcase his talents once again, and after the slow 'Dirt' and 'Alaska' the band entered into the first 'You Enjoy Myself' of 2011. This very strong rendition capped the second set, but not before Gordon teased the bass line from 'It's Ice'. The encore, 'Fire' originally by Jimi Hendrix summed up the first New Jersey night well. Although many phans think of this show like politics and drastically love it or hate it, I firmly believe this show is in the running for a shot at the next DVD Phish will undoubtedly pump out of this summer and is wholeheartedly worth a listen.
Hahahahahah @DownwithAntelopes it now says "3 reviews" and yours is the only one that has NOTHING to do with the show. So maybe instead of voting those people down and bitching at them you could just write a real review and ignore theirs or just let them be. Yeah it's a place for reviews but it's a fucking website where people can post what they want. I for one am happy to hear that @YorkvilleBeerLover liked the second set. It's the day after the show, give time for people to write a real review, it'll get here eventually.
Rockin show. Kicked Maze's ass. Trey completely failed on the first d-sky solo, but recovered superbly. Only two breathers -- one per set -- in Roggae and Dirt and the rest of the show was an ass-shakin' good time. Moma was the deep-funk that gets you down. Mike was killin' it on bass.
A well-played, all-around good show.
Jersey Troopers were patrolling lot 3 like sharks - saw a few unlucky bastards cuffed by undercover DT's and carried off. They were pulling kids for selling anything from pins to beers to 'extracurricular' party favors. Which is nothing new for my dear Jersey. Watch out for each other out there.
This show was awesome. After the first set I wasn't sure how the second set would measure up. Then they opened with After Midnight and had a crazy space jam in between Drowned and Maze that was so intense. When trey was dancing around stage during mikes bass solo on YEM I was hoping for a 'crab in my shoemouth', but no dice. The clap during the vocal jam was nice at first, but I'm glad it stopped quickly. This show was on fire, and I can't wait for what's in store for tonight.
After Bethel we had a day off to cruise back to our Northern NJ homes and rest up before the short hour or so drive towards the Jersey shore and Holmdel. Both nights we took a couple first timers to try and get em hooked on the Phish.
Night one we cruised into the lot and set up the easy up. It started raining a bit, so we ended up with some comrades pre-show which was fun.
We grabbed a nice central lawn spot (tickets were basically free outside the venue which was awesome for us who were looking).
Set 1 opened with CDT, which was high octane and contained a bit more in the mustard department than previous openers I had seen. Spicy brown from the Trey-man.
Roggae was beautiful. Really really nice. I liked the studio version and didn't realize the live one would hit such heights. Nice.
Punch was awesome and to me feels like summer. I had been waiting to cross that off my list.
Moma was fun, but I didn't think particularly noteworthy. Nevertheless the opening run of songs was a lot of dancing.
Rock and Roll was a scorcher. Sort of illustrated to me that this song could slot in anywhere as either a rocker or an improv platform. Great set I style version.
Sand was awesome and actually threatened to open up. It didn't quite do that but this one was unique to my ears.
Tube kept it funky (although short). Trey made reference to Page's house...which brought back amazing memories from Bethel. Glad they kept the house thing going for a bit of this tour.
OK Divided Sky was a train-wreck unfortunately. Trey owned up to it and held out the microphone as he forgot this one. We're all human, but this one was botched badly.
Zero concluded the set in typical fashion.
Overall Set I: More killer songs, and a lot of energy. Everything was played with lots of mustard. D-Sky was a blemish on an otherwise fun, well executed set.
Highlights: Sand, R&R
Set II opened with After Midnight! I didn't see that coming. It rocked and then took an awesome turn towards jam street. The jam was sort of throbbing with Trey hitting a cool descending run. It was pretty cool and definitely noteworthy. Not sure it sort of found gold anywhere, but the intent was great and it popped into Possum smoothly.
Possum was fun in the two hole (summer of Possums had begun).
Drowned was back to the jams and a nod to our beautiful jersey shore perhaps. This one went into a pretty cosmic place, but sort of lacked direction. I thought it sort of reflected the first jam in that it never found its true footing, but was a pretty cool sonic exploration regardless.
>Maze was welcome and kicked up the energy. Rocking!
Dirt, Alaska were both ok. Dirt was a good cool-down, but following it up with Alaska was not the best in my opinion.
YEM was an awesome way to close. Fun version!
Encore: Fire. Great choice, always happy to catch Fire! Rockstar Trey.
Overall Set II: This was a good set generally. They gave a good effort to jamming in After Midnight and Drowned (even if they didn't completely click). Possum and Maze were both good energetic efforts. YEM was its awesome Phishy self.
Overall: This was a solid show. I don't think it was exceptional really. That being said, for me it's actually worth a spin (After Midnight & Drowned), even thought it was closer to Bethel III than I or II.
3/5 Good not great.
Totally solid, if non-eventful, show. Set II has plenty of worthy moments. After Midnight is certainly a noteworthy version, and the Drowned>>Maze combo is high-octane 3.0 grilling. From Set I's Sand on through the end, you'll get some very excellent "standard-great" Phish. The PNC 2-night stand was a bit of a let-down after the exclamatory tour openers, but there's still plenty to love.
Alright, I know this review is quite late but I had time to kill so here it goes. This was my first Phish show ever. I have been a phan for a few years now but never really been able to see them live. So this show had a special place in me.
My buddy and I drove all the way to Holmdel from Ohio to see both nights at the PNC. After driving for 8 consecutive hours we finally arrived at our first show (it was his as well). After checkin out the lot scene for a bit we entered the venue and found our seats, which were in the back section of the pavilion. There we waited for the show to start.
When the boys came out and Trey began strumming the initial chords to Chalkdust, my buddy and I both about lost it. A standard opener for sure, but a stellar version I must say. This one killed. While really all of the first four numbers are standard first-set renditions, each one got me dancing harder and harder. RnR gave everyone their first improv venture of the night. A great and somewhat spacy rendition led to a solid Sand, which Trey dedicated to Max(?). Very kind regardless. The rest of the set was played standardly but well, except for some Trey flubs during Divided Sky (which he laughed off and gave to the audience to finish).
The second set started off on fire with After Midnight. The boys jammed this one out for a bit an got pretty spacey before moving on to Possum. Considering it was still the beginning of the tour, I was happy to hear the tune. However, we all know the extent to which the song has been played recently. Just a normal straight forward version like all the others.
While driving out to NJ my buddy and i were making predictions for the nights show. He predicted a Hood (which he and I both desperately wanted). I on the other hand predicted either a second set Drowned or RnR, two of my favorite covers. When Page struck up Drowned after the possum, I became estatic. This version is well played. THe jam starts off with no direction but eventually it finds one. It leads into Maze, another personal favorite. This Maze is easily the highlight of this second set and should be checked out. Great rendition.
After a chill Dirt and a (to my displeasure) Alaska, the boys wrapped up the second set with a more standard YEM. Overall solid and fun second set.
Fire as the encore was fine and left everyone waiting for the next night. So theres my (Way to long and over the top) review. Good first show experience.
this was a very heart-felt show for alot of people. Not only was this to be their triumphant return to the pnc bank arts center! It was also a show to celebrate a dear friend in Max (ie. Sand) gonna miss him down at the ol river dive! chalkdust is great for opening shows... it's played alot but it definitely sets a tone.
the highlights have got to be from roggae to divided sky in the first set. Rock and Roll is abslolutely the best version i've ever seen... after midnight was surprising possum more so. but drowned-maze-dirt-alaska made all the sense in the world. YEM... i guess i want it to be a rarity at this point because i love the song i don't want to hear it at every other show. Fire was fire. had a great time with alot of good people and that's what it's all about. first show at pnc in eleven years i believe and it was worth the wait.
Good Lord in heaven, this was a truly righteous showpiece ladies and gents!! Hope you were there with me. The funk was en masse, you could hear Page better than at Bethel, and rhythm section was on point. Preface: I hit up night 2 at Bethel and was pretty underwhelmed...even though the first several songs were choice and well done. Just didn't feel like they "had it" that night, and I think they knew it too...so I was really hoping for a strong comeback and would never doubt their ability to do so. So for 5/31...Trey just stood there and smiled at the audience before they started, grinning ear to ear for maybe 30sec, obviously happy to be there. I really think they weren't satisfied with the Bethel run, and just said "screw it," we can do soooo much better than that. Chalkdust kicked into gear and Trey was playing forcefully, and with presence. The band was right with him. He started to comp the chords here and there, giving it that funky feel...a bit of exploration, totally rocked all pieces. Going from that to Roggae wouldn't always work, but this fit the mood so perfectly, sun was just starting to go down, and I thought to myself "yes, this is the way to go." It was really pretty, great feel and as I recall they wove in and out of a number of different themes before finding their way back to the riff...seemed effortless. PYITE was my first, and I was dancing like a mad fool, completely nailed it, you can basically never go wrong with that song if you ask me. Have always loved the Moma, it was right where it needed to be...great jams into R&R. My first show was in 1999 so it seems like I've seen Sand at every show I've been to, and sometimes it lacks, but I was not ready to dismiss it given the first 30 min. Quite a nice version, kind of a mellow feel at times, diving out and back again...and then a Tube to boot? Come on, I was in heaven...they were totally firing on all cylinders and enjoying themselves. As previous posts have noted, Trey flubbed the difficult middle to Divided Sky, and I felt bad for him, but jeez, we've heard him play it amazingly 1000 times, he can obviously do it, sometimes it just happens on a super intricate song like that. I forgave him this morning. They took a minute to regroup and finished it off admirably. Glad they threw in a Zero rather than end on a tough note. Set 2: No need to be as wordy here...let's just say it was very well done with Mike just loading that low end and Fish picking up the pace a little. Well placed cover to get started then Possom-Drowned-Maze segment was rockin' loud and full of tangents...I remember Trey kept pulling them into build ups then they would circle back...nicely constructed in real time and totally off the cuff as it should be. Anytime they whip out something from Rift I'm paying attention...and the Maze was great and unexpected for me. Dirt brought us the time to sit, bob our heads gently, and talk to our girls. YEM was nice except for a slight rough patch. Had a long drive to CT, so didn't stay for Fire...I'll just download that. For me, best show I've seen personally since Deer Creek 7/11/2000. Yes, that second set with 2001>Down w/Disease>Jim>Hood mixed with like 5 visits to Moby Dick in between might hold top spot with me forever. This night, especially the first set was every bit as good.
The first set was grooving, and The Moma Dance > R&R was a definite highlight for me. They're playing really tight right now, especially considering this is only the fourth show of tour. If they haven't worked the rust out yet, I'm excited for even more awesome things to come later. I will say that there were a few Trey flubs in The Divided Sky and in You Enjoy Myself (most noticeably those two), but the rest of the show more than made up for it.
The second set overall was full of jaw-dropping goodness. The Drowned > Maze was completely nuts; for the longest time, I didn't even see Maze coming out of that jam - I thought they were going into Ghost for sure. But Maze was perfectly placed, exciting, and a lot of fun.
The You Enjoy Myself was remarkable to me in how very great Mike sounded. Not that ever really sounds bad, but I thought his You Enjoy Myself was a real standout for him at the show.
Page, as per usual on this tour, was definitely the man. Fish was on point. Big Red showed that he can still play fast and faces can still be melted.
Most importantly, you can really see that they're having fun, and that's what makes it all worth it.
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