Toyota Park, Bridgeview, IL
Soundcheck: Show of Life, Burn That Bridge [list and order unconfirmed]
 No whistling.
 Ending vocal jam.
 Fish drum solo. "Jon Fishman" substituted for "Marco Esquandolas." Lyrics changed to "Been you to have any stick."
 Phish debut.
Noteworthy Jams: Limb By Limb
Average Song Gap: 3.32
Notes: After Possum, Trey congratulated the hometown Chicago Blackhawks' victory over his beloved Philadelphia Flyers in the Stanley Cup Finals that ended two days before this show. Reba was performed without the whistling ending. Limb By Limb included an ending vocal jam. Trey teased San-Ho-Zay in Ghost. Antelope contained a Dave's Energy Guide tease by Trey in the intro section. Antelope subsequently contained a Fish drum solo. "Jon Fishman" was substituted for "Marco Esquandolas" and Antelope's lyrics were further changed with "Been you to have any stick." This show featured the Phish debut of Show of Life.
Songs by Debut Year:
Vocal Jam at the end of Limb by Limb was South African-influenced, amazing. Perhaps a tribute to the World Cup opening day in South Africa..?
I think Phish purposefully made up for a less-than-stellar show here last here.
We're in for a great tour.
down with disease kicks the tour off in style. it did not go "out there," but they showed that there was not a whole lot of rust to shake off and displayed some fine focus. they seemed very in sync already. they brought this one to its traditional ending, and from there, the boys jumped right into wolfman's brother. gordon and page locked into a tight funk groove right off the bat in this jam, but it seemed trey had a little trouble finding his place. by about midway through, trey gets in there, and this wolfman's ends in fine form. possum kicks the energy up another peg, and trey did not have any trouble finding his place in this one. after this possu, everyone knew phish meant business tonight. very no nonsense bluesy take of this phish staple. after a nod to the hawks, gordo starts up boogie on reggae woman. this was a nice tight version. it sounded like they were getting poised to take this one on a little ride, they bring it back home. no problem there, they jump right into reba. at this point, it is apparent that this set is going to be stacked. reba was played beautifully. trey was not only spot on, but he played with a ton of inspiration. very beautiful reba. they opted to skip the whistling section, but they slipped right into a nice jesus just left chicago. no one seemed to disapprove of their choice. page belted this one out, and trey wailed out some nice bluesy guitar licks. very good version of this nice rare treat. without skipping a beat, they keep pouring it on. divided sky worked beautifully in this slot. once again, trey was spot on and sounded quite inspired. i thought this nice golgi would close the set, but fishman kicks into the bowie high hat as this one closes down. page and trey worked very well as they built to the bowie climax. once again, the band seemed very in sync and focused as they drove this one home. this is easily one of the best first sets i've seen the boys play. every song was not only great, but it seemed to compliment the one before it oh so well. they showed little to no signs of rust in this first set of the tour.
i figured we might get a light at this show, and it worked well in the opener slot. this light jam seemed to be a bit more thoughtful and patient than most. you could tell they were driving toward something, but it did not seem they ever got there. don't get me wrong, this is an interesting listen, but i just don't think phish accomplished what they were going for here. keep an eye on this song though; there will be many more interesting versions to come. they spaced out the ending of this jam and worked it nicely into a very fiery maze. i thought this was one of the strongest songs of 2009, and this version showed that 2010 will be another good year for maze. page was all over this one, and then, him and trey just got dark and nasty. man, i have just loved this song since they have been back, not that it was a slouch before, but they seem to have stepped it up a notch since their return. sticking with the darker jamming, they crank up a very nice ghost. once again, this one seemed very focused and the boys were completely in sync here. gordon and fishman layed down a magnificient groove while page and trey really take everyone on a dark funky journey. phish just clamped their teeth around this one and did not let go. finally, they found their way into limb by limb. as was the theme for the night, they were just locked into this one. this was not the dark exploration that ghost was, but it was still played very well. i really hate caspian, but oh well, i needed a quick sit down. also, this did seem like a pretty strong version. the horse/silent brought me back in, and then phish continued kicking the crowd's ass with a monster antelope. i will say, while it was loaded with energy, this version was pretty straight forward, and then came fishman. as they built this one up, fishman just took over. right when you thought it was going to climax, he just went nuts and sent this climax up another peg or two before bringing it down to rye rye rocco land. this was not missed by trey. he replaced marcos esquandolis with "jOHN FISHMAN!" the man sounded great all night, but this antelope was all him. i thought this might close it down but they dropped into a slower song i did not recognize. of course, later i was informed that it was the show of life by trey and the dude of life. this one seemed pretty solid, and trey took a nice whack at the solo. it seemed some what "unphishy" to end the show on this note, but i really liked it. cavern>julius was played really well. julius is not my favorite, but they gave this one a wonderful working over using tension and release to perfection.
alright kids, be ready this summer. phish was good last year, but they are ready to kick it up another notch. i expect that by august, this band is going to be doing some really ground breaking shit. fuck august, i have no doubt that they will be laying some epic stuff down tonight at the blossum center and the next at hershey. if you think you can't make it to a show this summer, rethink!
possum, reba, jesus just left chicago, david bowie
maze, ghost>limb by limb, antelope, show of life (hey, it's a debut...)
*Wolfman's Brother for Missy Wilson aka "The Wolfman's Sister"
*Gotta love a Light 2nd set opener !
*2nd set highlight = Ghost > LXL > Vocal Jam.
Still wrapping my head around the 1st set !
Welcome back Phish...
If Night #1 is any indication, we're in for a great tour...
Some quick notes on the soundcheck: This is how I noted it:
new (Page?) song
new (Mike?) song
Show of Life x2
Burn That Bridge x.1.5
There were two songs that started the soundcheck in Chicago: Page sang the first song, which after hearing the 6/19 SPAC show, I'm reasonably confident was "Halfway to the Moon." I can remember hearing the bent guitar pitches while standing outside of Toyota Park that afternoon
During the new Mike tune it sounded like perhaps they were repeating sections of a song rather than running the entire thing start to finish. This may or may not have been "Idea" - it's impossible to know now without hearing it again - but it was one that Mike was singing.
Then, the 3rd song was "Show of Life" (twice) and finally "Burn That Bridge" (twice...one and-a-half times, really).
Wolfman's Brother: ****
Boogie On Reggae Women: ****
Jesus Left Chicago: ****
Divided Sky: ***
Golgi Apparatus: ***
L x L: ****
The Horse: ***
Show Of Life: ***
Overall BA rating: 77/100 or .77
Sadly, I don't think my rating does this show justice, none the less, that's how I heard it. The livephish.com SBD copy sounds amazing as well. If you're on the fence about this show, do yourself a favor and go find a copy.
Toyota Park was wonderful. I am often skeptical of post-hiatus and Phish 3.0's playing, but when the band took the stage Friday night, opening with Down with Disease, they were fresh. In both of 2010's opening concerts Phish's playing sounded rejuvenated--their song selection and placement was thoughtful and fun.
Toyota Park's first set has about as heavy hitting of a setlist one could ask for with one huge song after another and no breathing room. The Disease was to the point and a great choice for an energetic opener. Wolfman's Brother was suuuuper thick and funky--Page and Trey step back for a bit to let Mike's liquid bass lines pop over Fish's rolling. Possum was unexpected after those two--It was straight forward and standard, but a great pick for a daytime rock song.
After Possum Trey congratulated Blackhawks fans in the crowd over their recent Stanley Cup victory and after Mike got his bass effect ready, they snapped into a short but sweet version of Boogie on. Reba was next--the composed section was executed well and the jam started off soft and quiet--nothing too inspiring, though.
Jesus Just Left Chicago was played after Reba--they played this very well, both Page's half and Trey's as well. Then, before the sun had completely set, they bust into Divided Sky. I love this song like the rest of the fan base, but this version (and pretty much all 3.0 versions) lacked inspiration severely...the ending kinda just jogs across the finish line rather than sprinting.
David Bowie emerged out of the end of Golgi to close the first set. It was a standard version--nothing to write about.
The second set got started with Light. The jam included some nice textures by Trey and Page, but was a pretty mellow opener--the hi-hat slowly closed, however, and here comes Maze. Page destroys his half of the jam, Trey also sounded good.
Next is, what? GHOST, BUT MIKE IS ACTUALLY STARTING IT THIS TIME LIKE IT SHOULD BE STARTED? That's right, no more 3.0 style opening with Trey awkwardly scratching out the beginning. This Ghost gets thick and real dancable--Mike pops up and down over the sea of music the rest of the bad is providing him. Trey starts looping a lick at the end and plays over it for a small amount of time, too--a la the MSG Disease last year. This version clocks in at just over 15 minutes and segues nicely into Limb by Limb.
Limb by Limb is texturally splendid and the Limb by Limb vocal outro extended into some vocal improvisation. Two sets into summer tour and you can already tell that Phish is coming to play and have fun this year. No more pressure.
Antelope was odd. I though Trey really was lazy in the jam, noodling when the rest of the band was ready for him to blow out--then out of no real build up, Trey goes into the end-jam trilling part. Fishman keeps drumming past the point of where they normally snap into the reggae segment, as if it may have been a mistake--Trey was laughing and referenced to him a few times in the closing lyrics.
The second set ended with a new song called Show of Life. It's a pretty song and sounds like an ode to Phish's fans almost by "thanking [them] all".
The double header encore was also a treat. Cavern and Julius. Julius came to a pretty exceptional peak thanks to Trey.
This show had an old school feel to it. It is a great base to judge what the rest of summer may hold for us. After hearing Toyota Park, I have no more questions about Phish anymore--they are still the band I want to follow.
I was pleased and comforted with the un-orchestrated playing in Chicago. Segmented pieces like Maze were fine, too, but that has been the case through 2009 already.
In the free-forms they kept their energy and didn't lose it in the minutia -- compare 2009 Wolfman's or Boogie Ons (at least the ones I saw on the East Coast) to 2010 Chicago as examples -- where they'd end up in funk slop way too early before any real creativity had occurred prior with the energy just dropping-out and sometimes saved by abrupt tempo up-swings, trying segues, or just plain fade-outs. The melodic elements of Wolfman's, Boogie, Ghost, and Limb x Limb were either ever-present or returned to the flow nicely. To be sure, the Boogie from Chicago was stellar ranking with the Chula Vista '99 and MSG '98, but for different reasons. The Ghost in this show was a relief to my ears as they had struggled with the basics of the song despite some sweet jams out of it in 2009. A team oriented melodic and pleasing Limb x Limb seemed fresh aside from containing first ever(?) vocal jam, which was simply fun and cool. All I seem to crave at shows now is REAL creativity, it doesn't have to be a 12 minute jam, but just something with actual purpose and intensity. I can handle tonal stuff and other things that Trey can get wrapped-up on like in the Caspian where it was nice and not too drawn-out. Show of Life got 'dissed in the lot as all new Phish tunes seemingly do. Though I thought the band really sold it and came on strong to end the 2nd set. You knew it was coming, anyway, after Trey's Winter tour. Oh, and let us not forget another new-ish song, Light, that brought IT to start the 2nd set and could, perhaps, have gone even further.
Mike has really equipped himself with some sick pedals and synthesized effects that seemed to have caused some issues at times for him in 2009, but I think the trick is to use them wisely and pointedly throughout a song as in Boogie.
Page's vocal range has settled-in as I found him sounding somewhat awkward and perhaps uncomfortable in the harmonies as they re-acclimated themselves to their repertoire in 2009. Page is also now setting some loops and playing over them though his mix is still too low at times.
Trey lyrics seem to have more punch to them, too. I'm hoping to get a better understanding about what/how he's interested in with regard to his playing and style.
Fish, perhaps, is the most judicious of the bunch and I feel he sometimes yearns for challenges and can become disinterested, though ever-present. I wish he played more outside of Phish.
I want them to play what THEY want to play, it's better for everyone overall.
What I disliked in Chicago was the Antelope; it is exactly what can go wrong at a show these days. I feel Trey's choice for low whine in his tone makes for a less dexterous and dynamic range for his guitar; either that or he is infatuated with that flat sound where he can easily bail himself out with the wail. Antelope, unfortunately, paid for this infatuation and the seemingly out-of-tune chord bend-a-thon that was enough in Capsian. I'm not sure what to think of missing the reggae section and the ensuing banter on Fishman.
It's great that they've got 2009 under their belt so we can really begin to find out where and how this ship is sailing.
Maze-Ghost-Antelope-Show of life
I'll never forget the total sense of hysteria when they came out. Pandemonium. The entire jam of DWD still feels like the band and the crowd trying to keep up with each other at first. And the madness continued. You wind up realizing things about Phish you hadn't realized before when you see and hear them up close for the first time. I think that's probably as big a compliment as I can give. Being able to hear Jon Fishman, for example, with as much clarity as that show was an ear opener. Also, the stadium genius of a song like Golgi Apparatus completely wound up the crowd all over again with that ascending chord progression before one of the final choruses.
I was literally in the throes of exhaustion for a week after this show.
I kind of like going back and listening to the whale calls on Light. Ghost was kind of the best groove jam of the night.