DTE Energy Music Theater, Clarkston, MI
Soundcheck: The Joker [unconfirmed and possibly incomplete]
 Happy birthday wish from Trey to Mike; Happy Birthday tease from Trey.
 Happy Birthday tease and A Love Supreme jam; unfinished.
 Get Up (I Feel Like Being a) Sex Machine and Super Bad teases from Trey.
Notes: During NICU, Trey wished Mike a happy birthday. NICU subsequently contained a Happy Birthday tease from Trey. Happy Birthday was teased before and during Disease. Disease also featured a jam based on A Love Supreme and was unfinished. Also Sprach Zarathustra contained Get Up (I Feel Like Being a) Sex Machine and Super Bad teases from Trey.
This show was part of the "2011 Early Summer Tour."
I found a worthy recipient for my extra ticket on the walk in.
I handed her the extra lawn tick I had and kept walking, glancing back just long enough to watch her eyes light up. As I was walking away, she chased me down and gave me a hug. I love good karma.
I've only been to 16 or so shows so my ability to compare this show is somewhat limited.
I know what I witnessed.
The first set was thoroughly enjoyable in every way. I was in the 7th row with a clear view of the band's interaction with each other and the crowd.
They were a unit. One entity. Everyone smiling and joking. I was so fortunate to hear some of my favorite Phish tunes. Tela, Wedge...etc
Honestly I wouldn't have picked DWD as a song I wanted them to open the second set with. I've seen my share and loved them all, but was hoping for something unique. In retrospect, however, I wouldn't have wanted to hear anything else.
Around the 9 or 10 minute mark, something happened. The music took on a life of it's own organically. It flowed naturally into this ambient jam/groove just kept cycling and evolving.
It sounded like so many things.
I was in a trance and completely unaware there were other people around me. My eyes were closed and the music moved through me.
When that happens, it is one of the most beautiful sensations.
I recall hearing Coltrane's 'Love Supreme' at some part of the jam but wasn't sure if the band was playing it consciously or, even more brilliant, unconsciously and it was just another part of the landscape they were painting with the music.
There were so many times at other shows where they sounded disjointed or Trey abruptly ended a jam before it had a chance to get off the ground. Friday night in Clarkston, that didn't happen.
The band played as one unit, complimenting each other, building something that took on a life of it's own.
I will never forget that Down With Disease as long as I live.
The David Bowie that followed the excellent version of Fluffhead would take a separate review as it was equally historical.
I'll just say it ranks as my favorite version to date with some incredible guitar work from Trey.
I can only hope that the other two shows I'm able to attend this summer are half as good as this second set.
The trifecta that opened up set II was as good as I have seen (I have been with the band for a very long time). The jam out of DWD had direction and great interplay between everyone. Fluffhead was flawless and, IMO, there is nothing better than Fluffhead when they really do it right. The Bowie was of the old-school variety, several different jams linked together that somehow found there way into the closing portion. Tough to keep it going after that, but they did throw a great 2001 out there (complete with James Brown jams!).
At any rate, I've only seen the band two times in since they came back (some of us are old now), but I will say that this show confirmed to me that rumor that the boys have lost a step is greatly over-stated. It isn't 1994, it isn't 1997, it isn't even 2003, but what I saw last night blew my mind just as much as it did during each of those time periods. If you are reading this and debating whether or not to catch a show on this tour, stop now and get your ticket.
Wolfman's opener was tight. Trey rocked it out and Mike, Page and Fish laid down the nice funky groove. Funky, Sample and NICU were all short and sweet. Great start to the show.
I was calling for a Mike's groove and once I found out it was his birthday I knew we would get it. First set though.......sweet. Thought we would get a Simple out of Mike's but Hydrogen was alright and seems to be a rarity these days. Mike's and Weekapaug bookends were tight and high energy. Great versions of these classic tune's.
Tela was a real nice treat. I think someone had written it on a beach ball that Trey was passing around stage before Mike hoofed it back to the crowd. Chalkdust was different with a bit of space in the jam segment. Very cool version. I was surprised at the Wedge closer but it was different and I have not seen that song live since Lemonwheel so it was a nice treat.
Out in the lot, I called the DwD second set opener b/c it had not been played for a few nights and this song follows me around. I see it every 3rd show and I don't tour with the band. Just cherry pick shows close to home. I have to admit that this is a mixed bag for me b/c I enjoy DwD but I see it so often that sometimes I find myself longing for something different. However, on this night, they really smoked this version and jammed the shit out of it. Great peaks and valleys and some really nice interplay b/w all band members on this one. Go watch the video on the Vimeo site and you'll see what i'm talking about. This version goes right to the top of the list of DwD's for me along with the galactic Great Went version. The transition into Fluffhead was absolutely seamless and they just nailed Fluffhead. Bowie (listening to it now) was also epic with them nailing all of the composed segments and then featuring a nice spacey jam before the high octane outro.
You knew we were going to get a breather after those three barn burners and Waste was a welcome treat. Definitely one of my favorite ballads. 2001 is my most seen song (9 times in 24 shows) so, again, not surprised to see this. It was a nice tight funky version. I notice they don't take this out there as much as they used too (Great Went version and MSG 12/29/98 are two versions i've seen that were just epic, loooong and funky). Cavern and GTBT were great finishers.
All in all, very impressive show with some amazing jamming. I found out yesterday that the DwD was the longest jam of 3.0. Didn't realize this at the time but DwD>Fluff>Bowie were easily the highlight of the night.
'Down With Disease' ignited the lead off slot of the second set for the second time this summer, and this time rose to new places and officially became the longest jam of Phish 3.0. We thought we had seen what Phish's new style of the ambient wall of sound was like with the 'Down with Disease' from the Alpine Valley 2010 DVD, but this version simply soars into a multi-segmented monster. Maybe Trey felt bad for taking a lot of the spotlight the past few days in New Jersey, or maybe the nearly 25 minute 'Down With Disease' was his magical birthday gift to Mike. Nine minutes in the space begins, but instead of completely laying back Big Red repeats some swanky strokes to keep a blues style momentum flowing. Gordon is definitely all over the fretboard and the band comes together in a loopy frenzy. Twelve and a half minutes in the song morphs again and Gordon opens another door into a Plinko madhouse before settling into a calming and oddly Australian rhythm. Trey layers a fleeting and delicate riff over this and embarks onto the new Phish sound of 3.0. Some call it a "Wall of Sound", to me it sounds like an electric firestorm, but whatever you name it there is no doubt that Trey is loving the use of it. On the official Live Phish release it begins around 15 minutes in and continues to build for a minute and a half before turning into a series of hammer-ons akin to the New Year's Eve 'Ghost'. Instead of progressing systematically higher on the fret board, Trey plays erratically like Thom Yorke and unleashes the beast within. After a minute of and a half of this glorious fury, Trey disappears back into a subtle electric storm, once again creating an ambient soundscape. John Coltrane's 'A love Supreme' is teased once the band floats away from the harsh, jagged, yet amazing feeling the past few minutes subjected us to. Interestingly enough, for those setlist nerds out there, the following night Chicago rockers Umphrey's McGee teased the song in their rendition of "Jimmy Stewart" at the Mountain Jam in Hunter, NY. Finally, after a series of arpeggios, the Trey seamlessly leads the rest of the band into 'Fluffhead', proving once again that he has it in him to make some seriously good moves if he doesn't let his TreyDHD get the best of him. Instead of bolting into Fluff, he slowly melds the notes into the final glimpses of Disease and makes the song come to him, and not the other way around. The summer's second 'David Bowie', also a 16 minute monster, was nothing to laugh about either. Until this show I thought May 31st held the best jam segments worthy of a DVD, but this time around it may be clear - until tomorrow - what is the best. Although who wants another Disease monster? Everyone. The fast paced '2001' brought the stunned crowd back to the feet after a short and much needed 'Waste' break ('Down With Disease' > 'Fluffhead' > 'David Bowie' clocks in at about an hour for the three of them!). After a very appropriate and lively 'Cavern', the lights went down and the crowd waited for the first encore of Phish's Midwest journey. 'Good Times, Bad Times', a song many thought would make an appearance in Holmdel on June 1st, slid its way once again into the setlist, usually nothing short of disappointing.
Wolfman's and Funky Bitch were a great choice to start with and the rest of set 1 was very strong. The spontaneous Tela (a request via beach ball thrown onstage) was unexpected but refreshing, though not as strong as everything else (probably because the band wasn't expecting it).
Set 2 was AMAZING!! The 25min DwD -> Fluffhead > Bowie were flawless. I was never really a fan of Fluffhead until I heard it played live. It had so much energy!! The Fluff's Travels extension of Fluffhead is a great piece of music in my opinion, and they played it well that night. The rest of set 2 was excellent.
The encore of GTBT was well-played, although I'm sick of that song in all honesty.
Overall it was a great show. I think I've re-listened to it about 10 times and am still blown away. My first Phish show turned out to be arguably one of the best shows of 3.0 and by far the best show they've played so far this tour. It was an amazing experience, and I'll never forget it.
The whole place was standing and gettin' down the entire show, the band was tight. TELA was a bit of a let down but appeared to be played as a request, (or a well planned set up?), but we needed a couple of slow jams to catch our breath. Waste was a good slow one too... especially if you had your girl by your side, good make out song before the next funk fest jam.
This was a heavy funk night! Mike's birthday and he stretched his legs in honor of it. We tried to get the pavillion to sing him happy birthday but it never caught on... Happy Birthday Mike! Thanks for giving US the gift of that incredible show!!
"DWD contained a Happy Birthday tease and a jam based on A Love Supreme."
This is false. The supposed 'A Love Supreme jam' is based on a jaunty two-note rhythm that happens to be the same as the famous chant in 'A Love Supreme' - not to mention half the dance rhythms ever played, Jesus - and Page does at times play the full four-note chant line, but it takes more than a single one-measure rhythmic concordance to make a jam 'based on' anything. It must feel nice to spot such things, but it's not there this time. Four notes don't make a song; context matters. The musics are totally different. C'mon now!
Like the ballyhooed NYE '95 'Fire on the Mountain' jam that Dirksen used to get monomaniacal about, this one's just (very very very brief) coincidence. I think someone was just out to win cred this time; ho hum.
Thanks for coming to visit metro Detroit again Phish! Come back soon
This was quite the birthday show for Cactus. First set was packed with jams that highlighted Mike. I really enjoyed the CDT in this first set, it took on a weird, slower tempo but it was great nonetheless. Even though the first set is a good one, the second set is what this show is all about.
The DWD to open set two was phenomenal...really just a great, out-there version. Follow that up with a seamless segue into Fluffhead and you've got a knockout second set opening sequence. Looking back at this setlist, there really isn't a dull moment in there. After a well-executed Fluffhead we get a high-energy David Bowie followed by a soothing Waste to bring it back down for a bit. 2001 is always a dance party, and Cavern never disappoints in the closing slot. GTBT was my first Phish-Zeppelin cover and it was killer. Being only my third Phish show this was quite the treat. I had no idea what was in store for me on this weekend, but night one at DTE was a good start!