PNC Bank Arts Center, Holmdel, NJ
Set 1: First Tube, STFTFPStealing Time From the Faulty Plan, Camel Walk, Heavy Things, JibbooGotta Jibboo, Wilson > Seven Below > KDFKill Devil Falls, Axilla > SOAMeltSplit Open and Melt, SuzySuzy Greenberg
 Phish debut.
 No Quarter teases from Trey.
Notes: This gig featured the Phish debut of Led Zeppelin's No Quarter. Trey subsequently teased No Quarter in both Ghost and Number Line. Carini was unfinished.
This show was part of the "2011 Early Summer Tour."
I actually thought this first set was well-above par. Stealing Time into Camel Walk was solid as was the Jibboo-Wilson-Seven Below. The SOAM was a treat. I cherish the Type II jams when they come these days, and this one deserves a listen. It is not a tight jam, more chaotic psychedelic noise that verges on being lost, but they hold it together...barely.
I am glad to see the balanced criticisms of the 2nd set. I couldnt have asked for better song selection, and I wont kill the set. But not counting the Tweezer->No Quarter which was amazing, the songs were all truncated. Remember those days when a Piper or Twist would drift off into ambiance....then Fish would start riding the hi-hat or Trey would repeat a chord progression and then another voice would join in and off we all went?
Well there were about 5 times in this show that allowed for that 'moment'. Each time the ambiance drifted into silence ending the song or as in Ghost the groove was killed mid-groove.
This is what we have all witnessed in 3.0 (except for about 4-6 nights of magic scattered throughout 3 years of touring, and you all know the shows Im alluding to). Great song selection, increasingly crisp playing, especially of composed songs, but a perceived unwillingness to take those leaps of faith into the unknown. I appreciate what we have. I love checking out the younger phans and experiencing new adventures with old friends. But that love and that appreciation goes hand in hand with lower expectations for the music. Trey and Co. can not be expected to play like they once did when they play 1/4 as many shows per year. The improvisational chops are just not there, the playfullness is not there. I dont expect 20 minute jams, and most of the time these days, I dont leave disappointed when we get our 7 minute Ghosts. I'll take it, but its so, so different from what the entire crowd expected the minute that bass line hit in other eras of Phish. And so it goes. Love them for taking the stage, take it all with a grain of salt.
And then bam! I was spectacularly wrong. In my opinion, this one blew night one away, and then some.
We start off with the First Tube opener. Yeah. What? I don't know, but it was great. A bit early, that song is better feeding off already created energy (Hence often use as a closer/encore), but I digress. Still rocked.
From there we just smooth along the first set, nothing more to say. Very balanced, very tight, a HELL of a lot of funk. Loved it.
So then it's like, calm down, calm down, we have another set. And I'm like, bring it on! And they did! Tweezer was one of the better one's I've seen (Read: Only a few) but I sadly had no idea what No Quarter was. I'm not a Zepp fan, never was, so while everyone cheered I was befuddled. That's not against the show of course, the band played the song well, I just couldn't enjoy it as much while being unfamiliar with it.
I'd mention all the other awesome, but there'd be no room left for the show's shining moment: Number Line. Oh.My.God. Starts off just standard stuff, fun bouncy Number Line, as it always is. Then they jam. And they jam HARD. Everything aligned to become something wonderful, magical.
And then it ended. Encore, nothing much to note, but hey, show was great. I wuved it, you should too.
Or not, we can all have our own opinions.
Stealing Time slayed! Camel Walk got the funk-on going on and the rest of the set was solid thru and thru, no real faves, every song getting a pretty good work-over.
Second set was an old-school musical lesson delivered by the band, starting with a gnarly Tweezer that finally gave way to the ominous keyboard textures that Page was eliciting from his cabinet and musical history followed and it was just off to the races afterwards, it just seemed like one big ole' glorious song climaxing with an over-the-top Backwards Down the Number Line. If there is video available, look closely at the final Trey rip and it should show, maybe in slo-mo, the sparks flying off his guitar as he was frantically trying to shred his strings off it.
The Show of Life was poignant, the Tweezer Reprise allowed the assembled masses such as myself to get their final musical orgasm out of their system before perhaps retiring for a smoke and a drive home, whatever that may represent on the road.
The venue should be proud of itself, they (finally?) did the right thing, we seemed to do the right thing and the band certainly seemed to keep up their part of the bargain.
-first tube and stealing time were a great way to start, standard versions, but very solid.
-camel walk was really slow. and trey messed up the middle section pretty bad. not a good version at all.
-heavy things was a let down for me, but jibbo was very nice with a nice little first set jam.
-wilson>-7>kdf these really got the crowd going and trey was definitely feeling it. -7 below had a great jam for a second until it tapered off to nothing and kdf started, which is always nice first set.
-axilla seemed slow, but rocked as usual...
-melt was great... probably one of the more interesting melts of 3.0 this song has come a long way since 2009. very cool type II jam for a bit.
-suzy was great, page was all over that, as usual.
-i was surprised by tweezer, i thought they would wait a little longer after bethel,,, but i think they may of wanted to keep the tweezepplin myth alive.
-i loved no quarter, as did everyone, well played, great cover, loved it.
-carini>piper>twist>ghost were all well played but im really getting sick of the half assed awkward transitions. i need to relisten... the jam out of twist was really going somewhere than it falls apart and trey starts ghost.
-the transition into bdtnl made me cringe. we're in this great ghost jam funking it out and trey just randomly kills it and starts playing bdtnl. i felt like the rest of the band was like "wtf?"
-bdtnl did rage like crazy though. the crowd ate it up and trey played really really well. definitely a highlight of the show.
as soon as they ended i knew it was going to be show of life>tweeprise. i love show of life. as far as phish "songs" as in singer songwriter-esque songs it is there best. trey and the dude really achieved something great. i did notice that fish never went to the open highhat as the song built up (which is normally one of my favorite parts) but that was ok. solid version... and what can i say about tweeprise... nothing.
overall i think this show was way better than night 1. but other than a few highlights that ill relisten to (no quarter, melt, bdtnl) this show is not going to be in heavy rotation on my ipod. it feels like the usual 3.0 problems. not enough give and take, too much trey noodling instead of developing something interesting.
btw... did anyone else notice they played 5 songs from farmhouse? it was like summer of 2000 all over again.
i'm pretty sure i read the word 'cringe' in there to describe someone's reaction to the awkward transition out of ghost into number line, and i couldn't agree more. after the new year's ghost, a lot of people were eagerly awaiting a return of the summer ghost. it came out of a way too short twist, but i was ok with that, well, because it's ghost. but the cringe was held over from the close of the first set with susie. i understand that they are going to repeat songs, alas, but after only 2 shows, we really didn't need another susie to follow a solid soam. those 8 minutes certainly could've been split among twist and ghost, or donated entirely to one of them. it was indeed a raucous number line, and for that i'm appreciative, but i felt that at the end of fall/new years run, what had returned was some of the magic of teasing out some of the monsters and playing them for a while. i still very much enjoyed this show, and venture to say i'll reexplore it for a while, but instead of leaving this show feeling sated, like after 10/30 or 12/31, i left with that feeling of, what if they just....
The sense that Phish was being forced to end the show earlier than Tuesday was certainty felt in the second set, save a grand twenty minute opening segment of 'Tweezer' > 'No Quarter', the first time performance of the Led Zeppelin song off Houses of the Holy. Page took lead on vocals and treated the crowd to another psychedelic gift. As if to show that they have their own Zepp style, Phish broke into 'Carini', the dark and jarring rock song about one of their crew members. 'Carini' floated into a nice easy jam and could have continued for a few more minutes, but Trey left the piece unfinished and moved onto a short and quick 'Piper'. A rough transition into 'Twist' made it clear that a 'Ghost' was definitely around the bend. 'Twist' was given decent treatment and made its ambient way into 'Ghost', confirming what I knew would happen after hearing 'Seven Below'. This barely 8 minute version was strong despite its tiny size, containing 'No Quarter' teases. The set closer, the summers second 'Backwards Down the Number Line' also was fire but felt rushed. Only a few minute after 11 o'clock the band broke into the first of two encore songs, 'Show of Life', the newer and slow paced retrospective rock ballad followed by the predictable yet fun 'Tweezer Reprise'.
Gotta Jibboo was fabulous. Really great mellow jam. Split Open and Melt nearly lost the plot for a bit, but they held it together. Definitely deserves another listen, as it may translate well.
No Quarter was sick to hear!!! Not sure how it sounds yet in the recording, but I was blown away at the show.
Other than that they just kept cutting the songs short in the second set, so momentum continually got stomped.
I commend them for effort. They weren't being safe, and they were struggling, so I will be happy to put up with a ton of shows like this if it means they're willing to take risks to find a new direction.
Anxiously anticipating further progress!
no quarter had a near flawless debut, and what a debut it was. perfect song choice to pull out this tour.
some solid jamming on number line to close the second set.
routine show of life into a groovy tweezer reprise.
all in all a very good show.