CMAC Performing Arts Center, Canandaigua, NY
Encore: First Tube
 No whistling.
 Phish debut.
Average Song Gap: 6.11
Notes: Reba did not have the whistling ending. This show featured the Phish debut of I Am The Walrus. Weekapaug was unfinished.
Songs by Debut Year:
After taking a day off from melting faces, Phish rolled into the scenic and small amphiteater of CMAC last night. The show went as I had predicted, a laid-back, nothing too crazy show--kind of like nTelos with slightly longer songs and a totally different atmosphere.
Opening with the third ever version of The Connection, they quickly set the mood of the first set--when a short Down with Disease came next it was obvious that tonight they were going to give everyone a breather from what has just happened on tour and before what is about to happen. After playing the second Sample in a Jar in as many shows, the band sank into Ocelot, perfectly capturing the warm summer night in a beautiful place.
The mid-set, daytime Reba was obviously a welcome treat. The jam was punctuated by slightly off-kilter high notes from Trey, rather than a gradual build to soaring six string improvisation. It's certainly worth a listen, however I am waiting for the day Reba finally gets back on it's pedistal of improvisational bliss.
A well played Horn gave way to an excellent and nitty gritty take on a loosely played Funky Bitch. Soon after came Undermind--another through the motions version of one of their most original sounding songs. This song is aching to be a show highlight--I am predicting in August, hopefully. Then, the second Curtis Loew of 2010--is this going to enter the normal rotation? Not sure how I would feel about it. I love the song, and they are playing it great--I wouldn't mind seeing it be a normal show song, but I also love the idea of it being a huge deal when the play it. I'll be happy either way.
David Bowie closed the set, with another standard introduction this version contained an improved jam in that it built a more linear progression towards the end. Trey had licks up and down this version before going into the end that came far too early. Probably the best version of 3.0, however it's hard to say because they really do sound so similar lately.
The second set featured the best Mike's Groove this tour and, arguably, of 3.0. The set didn't flow quite as smoothly as the second sets did in the previous nights, but the massive Mike's Groove held it together like a nice oriental rug hold a living room together.
I was praying that they would not open the set with a Drowned or some other predictable second set opener--they opened with the more unpredictable Possum before jumping straight into Mike's Song. Mike's song, while not at powerful as some of the other versions this tour, started the most powerful overall Mike's Groove of 3.0. The Simple that followed Mike's Song was by far the most interesting version in recent times. It contained a jam that floated deep into intergalactic territory, featuring Page synthesizing all over it--seeming like I am Hydrogen could come floating up at any point, Page instead segued into Phish's first version of the Beatles song I am the Walrus. Although Phish has never played it before, Anastasio's 70 Volt Parade of 2005 had played it 18 times (please don't make me ever think about that band again)--Phish's version was far more lively and fun, leading us into more spacy ambiance before Fishman quietly started Weekapaug Groove. 'Paug, by far the strongest and most original rendition of 3.0, featured more improvisation than all of 2009's versions combined. After the usual out-of-the-gates wailing by Trey, it sank down into a jam somewhat reminiscent of a late 90's throwdown. Trey was playing funk again, albeit with less wah pedal than 97 or 98, and it sounded awesome. The whole song broke down and went through a variety of different textures--unsure if they were going to go into the end of the song or not, Fish started up the 'Paug beat maybe three times, assuming they would be going into the end. Each time he started it it was apparent that Trey was not ready to end it, one time Mike even started slapping the Weekapaug bass like when he thought they were going back into the end--but then stopped when he, too, realized Trey wasn't having it. This unfinished version leads into a decent but energy draining Limb by Limb.
Harry Hood, an easy song to call this set for anyone following Phish's setlists this year, was actually one of the stand out pieces of the show. With Hoods seemingly becoming shorter and shorter in length, this one clocked in at not even 12 minutes. Also, with Hoods becoming better and better in the 3.0 era, this version is easily the best--probably since 2000. The beginning features Mike tearing down the pavilion in one of the reggae-esque interludes, prompting everyone to start cheering. The jam, instead of noodling until just before the end, features Trey playing beautifully the whole time--I wish this version had lasted longer. Then, out of the end, Trey counts off to start a set closing Golgi--punctuating a shorter than average second set before encoring with an energetic First Tube.
The only thing I was really disappointed over was the encore. the 1st Tube they played was short and left me wanting something more. They finished early this night, which is common on their weekday shows.
All in all I give it a 6/10 but the Mike's Groove is DEFINITELY worth the livephish buy!
After a few moments, the boys launched into Down With Disease, which started off with a marked lack of energy in comparison to what had been delivered in shows previous. About four or five minutes in, the song began to gain momentum and energy which it lacked from its onset. Unfortunately, in spite of having huge potential to go really wonderful places on several occasions with the jamming, Down With Disease was ultimately too short and not completely satisfying.
Sample in a Jar, a fan favorite, was up next and kept up with the happier tones adopted with the two songs previous. The transition was abrupt, and this particular rendition was more on the typical side. It was, nonetheless, enjoyable, although Trey's vocals seemed a bit "foggy, rather groggy" throughout the majority of the song. Sample had the potential to be one of the more spectacular versions of 3.0, but attention to detail over enthusiasm made it a more textbook rendition than a real event.
Trey addressed the audience, acknowledging that an audience member in a hat was lookin' good and workin' it on that particular evening. Following this assessment, Ocelot began, and in spite of my strong aversion to the song, it finally started to sound as though Trey and the fellas were beginning to have a good time. The song lagged a little bit in the middle, but regained its footing shortly thereafter. The jamming potential was never fully explored, (It was unfortunately cut short as all too many potentially great jams have been on this tour) but the tune was certainly on the more satisfying end of the spectrum.
Reba quickly established itself one of the strongest points in an almost solid but ultimately unremarkable first set. This was not one of the definitive all-time performances of Reba, although it was certainly above average. It definitely went in some interesting directions a time or two. All four of the guys were spectacular, shining as they supplemented a really wonderful little jam. There were parts of Reba which were absolutely mind-blowingly beautiful. Because of this, it's certainly worth a second listen, and definitely deserving of appreciation and praise.
Horn was a surprisingly good choice to follow that particular performance of Reba. Horn was as Horn pretty much always is: Short and sweet. Like Reba, Horn was really quite lovely on this evening, bringing a smile to my face throughout much of the song.
Funky Bitch quickly changed the direction and momentum of the set. While Reba and Horn had slowed things down, making for a more beautiful and peaceful fifteen minutes of so of the set, Funky Bitch brought the energy level back up, and in a far more pleasant way than the first four songs of the set. It brought the vibe from listening and appreciating to happy, grooving, dancing and having a good time.
Funky Bitch begat Undermind, and what an Undermind it was! Mike was absolutely on point, certainly helping this to become one of, if not the most spectacular Undermind performances since its live debut at Hampton in March of 2009. Although the man rarely gets his deserved recognition, it seemed as though Fishman really had shining moments throughout much of Undermind as well. One of the undeniable strong points in the set.
Following a spectacular Undermind came yet another throw-away performance of The Ballad of Curtis Loew. The song is always fun - that's obvious. The song is, however, rarely if ever spectacular. The Ballad of Curtis Loew has the unfortunate distinction of being a song which can be heard and not hated by the vast majority of Phish fans, but it's also very easily done without. This performance of The Ballad of Curtis Loew did not stand out from other versions much at all. It was definitely a piece of unnecessary filler in the set.
To close the set, Phish went to one of their old standbys: David Bowie. David Bowie really is always a joy to hear, and this was no exception. All four sounded spectacular during David Bowie, and it was a really tight performance of an old favorite. There was nothing really stand-out about this Bowie, but it was very well-executed and ultimately a satisfying set-closer. I'd also like to point out that to me, there was a bit of the jam that reminded me of the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers theme. Moving on.
The second set started off with Possum, which is fun enough. There was a whole lot more intensity and energy opening the second set, and that was good to see. It seems like the boys were finally awake for this one. The Possum set opener was about average in duration and in every other aspect, but it definitely got the job done. Phish had come to play this second set.
This was proven even more strongly when they launched into Mike's Song; it was easily the best performance of Mike's Song of the tour thus far, possibly even of 3.0. This was, without a doubt, the most fun that the band or the fans had up to this point in the concert. This Mike's is the kind of thing fans come to see from the band, and it was glorious.
Mike's went into Simple, in its second showing of the tour so far. This was a very energetic piece of playing on everyone's part and kept the grooveability quotient high. Page had really wonderful shining moments throughout, and the crowd was eating it up. The jam went to some really spacey and wonderful places and really showcased how well these guys do and can play.
Surprisingly, Simple gave way not to Weekapaug Groove or even I Am Hydrogen, but to the premiere of a Phish cover, and one of the absolute highlights of the entire show: I Am the Walrus. With all of The Beatles songs in Phish's repertoire, it was actually quite surprising that this was the first time I Am the Walrus had showed up in a set. The jam was good and dark and absolutely launched what could have just been a good cover into legendary status. It felt as though the entire show had been leading up to this moment, and it didn't disappoint.
Following I Am the Walrus, Phish went into Weekapaug Groove, keeping the intensity high and jaws dropped with the sheer level of awesome that was everything from Mike's Song on. At this point, it no longer mattered that the show had started off as a lackluster throw-away piece of Phish 3.0 - this was really good stuff. The improvisation in the jam was reminiscent of Phish in the days of yore, a complete thrill and joy to all who heard it and to all who will hear it in the future. Mike was completely killing it, and Trey allowed the jamming to continue, surprisingly not cutting it off as he has been prone to do as of late - Big Red was in the zone. For the first time in a while, Weekapaug Groove actually seemed to be, well, grooving.
Weekapaug went into Limb By Limb, which almost felt like a letdown. It was played well, but it had nowhere near the wow factor built up from Mike's Song > Simple > I Am the Walrus > Weekapaug Groove. It just didn't feel like the right song somehow, and was something of a disappointment. It had its moments, but just didn't fit.
An even worse letdown was the song which followed Limb By Limb: Joy. Joy is a great song, don't get me wrong, it just seems as though the boys went in the exact wrong direction following that spectacular Mike's all the way to Weekapaug, strayed from the path with Limb By Limb (but there was still hope to bring it back) then Joy happened. It was frustrating, to say the very least. It almost felt like an insult that the lyrics claimed, "We want you to be happy". The solo didn't even really make it better - Joy may have ruined the set. If this set was a "puzzle, but one of the pieces was gone," Joy was absolutely NOT the piece that was missing. I've never been so unhappy to hear Joy in a show, ever.
When Joy was finished, the band went into Harry Hood which always leaves me a bit apprehensive; there are times Harry Hood is absolutely wonderful, but other times it completely falls flat on its face. Fortunately for everyone involved, this Hood falls into the former camp. In spite of its brevity, it served to get the second set back on track after having been derailed by Limb By Limb and Joy.
The second set closed with a typical and short Golgi Apparatus. It may have been played well, but it almost didn't feel right in its position either. It left me scratching my head, wondering if they were going to pull out all the stops for their encore.
They didn't. First Tube clocked in at a little less than ten minutes, still leaving much to be desired. The energy in First Tube certainly wasn't lacking, but there was no way that the song was able to tie the rest of the show up neatly.
All in all, this particular show made me feel many, varied emotions: Near apathy; appreciation of beautiful sounds; a desire to groove; excitement; extreme joy and awe; mild disappointment; thinly veiled fury; relief; and slightly unsatisfied. Ultimately, the show just left me confused. There were real shining moments in the show, and when they shone, they really shone. Unfortunately, these were bogged down with some real clunkers. Overall, I'll be optimistic because of how very good the stronger moments in the show were and rate this show a 6/10.
First set had some great jamming in Disease, a super slow funky Ocelot, Reba and the progressive Undermind. VERY fun, mellow, smooth first set with the sun slowly setting on over the lake, "knowing we'll bake like a snake".
Set 2 was tight, great Simple jam led by Mike's sweet arpeggio bass lines that segued into....Walrus??? Ah, shit, that was sweet! Weekapaug surely was melting into Free....didn't read other reviews yet, anyone else catch that? Thought FOR SURE, then the band dropped it and began Limb. Good version but kept thinking...what happened to that Free?
Hood and a rocking Golgi, then some heavy First Tube to close, which we heard from the bridge as we beat the traffic with a very spaced out kiddo who usually hits the sack at 8! He did great, though! Fun show, great neighbors on the hill. I will definitely return for any shows at this venue, great location!
connection opener... ? dwd was the real opener in my opinion. sample was standard, ocelot was great and jammy. reba was great, albeit far too short. horn was BEAUTIFUL. never disappointed. funky bitch was funkylicious, though not the best of the tour. undermind was great, best new jammer of 3.0 imo. curtis loew was great, i was pumped to hear em rock this one. bowie pulled out way too early, leaving me moist and wanting.
possum was great as a 2nd set opener, tons of energy! high lite of the night (obviously) mike's groove took us all for a spin, with the best live performance of any song i've EVER seen with I am Walrus... you had to be there. and if you were, you know what i'm talkin about. simple was great and spacey, very interesting version. weekapaug was fuuuuuunky; definitely got us all in the grooviest of grooves. unfortunately it all went downhill from there... limb by limb was surprising and slightly lack-luster, and we were all SOL when the most unfortunately placed Joy in the history of Joy popped up next. well played, but at the end of 2nd set? really? hood, i'm pleased to report saved the day, though this version cut it too short yet again. regardless, there was nothing short of a chesire grin across my face this entire tune, and i was pumped when a high energy golgi sealed the set with an exclamation point of compositional glory.
first tube.. what to say about first tube? it was a great version, but i reeeeeally thought they were gonna rock another tune after the distortion had it's fun. i felt like we deserved it...
good show, 6/10 (the mike's groove receives a 8/10 for it's sheer badassity)
Set Two- Calling a Mikes Song, Nope got Possum, glad i did because Mikes was given to us the second song in, decent jamming and solid effort among our four amigos. Simple followed, one of my favorites. Not
one of my favorite versions but well take it, then I am the Walrus, not I am Hydrogen, sounds awesome. The stars seem to be out tonight, Weekapaug > Limb by Limb was my highlight, everyones got one and this was mine. Love the double blast combo of high energy, slow energy and a mix of both, Joy was a good laid back break of energy for a pumping second set. Hood > Golgi was Phish's way of saying thank you to the crowd and the energy of the crowd was a way of saying thank you to the band. Encore- Was thinking Loving Cup, Waste or something in between. Got the in between.... First Tube, eh. Not my favorite Phish song, certainly not my favorite encore but hell, headed to the car early. Loved the show, no complaints really except for the encore but hell it happens. Love Phish, Love the crowd and loved the venue. Good times had by all.
Mike's > Simple > I Am The Walrus > Weekapaug was perfect for me. How great is it that a band can just pull off a song like I Am The Walrus as a one off cover and do it so well?
Nothing in this show was jammed out beyond belief, so if that is what you look for, there won't be much here for you. However, I know for a fact that a large portion of concert goers do not look at stop watches and could care less how a song was played 5 nights ago. I can honestly say that I have come back to this show more than any other show on the 1st leg of the Summer 2010 Tour.
And yes, Joy was nicely placed in the set but then I like a slow song to round out the 2nd set just before the finale. It helps keep things in perspective.
Cool venue and great staff!