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Link Thursday, 07/03/2014
Saratoga Performing Arts Center, Saratoga Springs, NY

Set 1: Farmhouse, Wolfman'sWolfman's Brother, Maze, Yarmouth Road, Strange Design, Devotion To a Dream, Ocelot > CDTChalk Dust Torture, Mound > Roggae > Possum

Set 2: GinBathtub Gin[1] > LxLLimb By Limb[1] > Winterqueen, The Line, Tweezer > CaspianPrince Caspian[1] > Sparkle > AntelopeRun Like an Antelope

Encore: Sing Monica > TweepriseTweezer Reprise

[1] Unfinished.

Teases:
· Theme from The Munsters tease in Maze

Noteworthy Jams: Bathtub Gin, Limb By Limb

Average Song Gap: 8.52

Performers: Trey Anastasio, Page McConnell, Jon Fishman, Mike Gordon

Notes: This show was webcast via LivePhish. Bathtub Gin, Limb By Limb, and Caspian were unfinished.

Links:
Photos Official Photos
Audience Recording Audience Recording
LivePhish Download LivePhish Download
Phish.net Blog Recap JamBase Skinny
Phish.net Blog Recap Phish.net Blog Recap

Song Distribution:
4 Fuego
3 Rift
3 A Picture of Nectar
2 The Story of the Ghost
2 Lawn Boy
1 Joy
1 Farmhouse
1 Billy Breathes
1 Stash
1 Hoist
1 The Man Who Stepped into Yesterday
1 The White Tape

Songs by Debut Year:

solargarlic78 , attached to 2014-07-03 Permalink
Also published on medium: https://medium.com/the-phish-from-vermont/305832c22f28
Review: 7/3/14
No Covers, New Setlist Arrangements

So, besides an innocuous “Funky Bitch” at Jazzfest, still no covers since the NYE run at MSG. People are obviously going to have varied reactions to this. I personally think its a bit self-involved. The 30th anniversary year is over so there is no obvious reason to embark upon a year or tour-long celebration of Phish’s original music (I think the NYE run was perfect for that kind of statement). Despite what Billy Joel says (and if this is really a ‘response’ to him than Phish proving themselves overly sensitive! But, for real — I can’t find any hard evidence that Billy Joel actually called Phish a ‘second rate cover band’), Phish is, has been, always will be a cover band of sorts. Covers are essential to who/what they are. Not just because there a slew of covers in regular rotation, but also because they are, as I argued in relation to the JEMP set, a bar band. As a musician who plays bars, trust me — bar drinkers (and bar owners who want them to drink) want to hear covers.

On a more practical basis, the lack of covers has meant a different flow to song choices and setlist arrangements. Without Drowned, Rock & Roll, Golden Age, and Crosseyed to open a second set, we got a rare Bathtub Gin (more on that later). Without these “cover” jam vehicles, we got an amazing exploratory “Limb By Limb.” Again, personally I think they should “shut up and play the hits”…I mean, covers. But, the lack of covers means we will likely see type ii exploration on a lot more Phish songs like, for instance, “Harry Hood.”

The first set was, as some surmised, “mellow”. It had an odd flow from the start with the first “Farmhouse” opener since 12/7/99. For those paying attention, they forgot the structure of the song. It is supposed to include a short 8 measure ‘guitar’ break in between choruses (usually featuring the wah pedal). At that moment, Trey just decided to play a full on solo (which is supposed to come after the chorus after said guitar break). After this unexpected solo, they played a final chorus and an awkward ending (I think Fishman thought the second solo was going to come which is supposed to lead to the “Welcome this is a Farmhouse” refrain at the end). Rough start.

“Wolfman’s Brother” is in a 3.0 rut. Once one of their most exploratory jam vehicles, it is now firmly implanted in the first set. It is usually awesome, but totally formulaic and predictable. The jam starts with some balls to the wall thick ass funk music, and then slowly transitions into a rock-based guitar peak led by Trey. For my money, I always love the funk section (and 7/3/14 was no different), but the Trey guitar peak section — while enjoyed by white hats throughout the venue who raise their hands in the shape of #1 — is not my favorite style of Phish music. I can only think of one version (6/12/11) that stayed with the funk and accomplished an amazing transition to “Boogie On” (the “Little Drummer Boy” 12/28/12 version is also a keeper). Like “Bathtub Gin”, lets hope the lack of covers forces Phish to place this song in the second set this summer and let it take the funk somewhere else rather than a predictable Trey-led peak.

“Maze” is the kind of song that every time it is played, reviewers will claim it was an “extra special” version — extra energy, ferocious. The truth is, “Maze” is always crazy energetic and usually awesome. Last night was no different. Page’s solo in particular was great.

“Yarmouth Road” sounded like a classic case of a Mike number that Trey has not adequately brushed up on (see also, Shack of Sugar). Overall it sounded a bit sloppy.

I felt like they hadn’t played “Strange Design” in a long time, but it turns out they did at Northerly last year. If you look at Phish.net, we get about one of these a year. Enjoy it. As I argued, one thing that makes a first set enjoyable are “bustouts” and I think this kind of qualifies as a mid-level bustout at this point. It’s also a great song.

“Devotion to a Dream” is catchy and a nice tune. Enjoy it while its fresh, because pretty soon this will be the setlist equivalent of “Heavy Things”: a song when started you kind of were hoping for something else.

“Ocelot” is played a lot in 3.0. I always enjoy it because the jam is pretty “open” — a droning, blues groove over only one chord (a B chord). Usually the jam involves lots of communication between the members even if it never goes “type ii”. This version had more ‘melodic’ soulful soloing from Trey than normal.

“Chalk Dust Torture” was not an ideal choice in this spot. One bluesy rocker (Ocelot) to another (CDT). I guess the tempo change was nice. The jam was standard and featured some classic “chromatic” builds (runs not based on any scale, but just playing notes a half-step apart one after another) that defined CDT jams in the mid-90s .

“Mound” is a very hard song. Great placement too after the blues rockers. Watching the webcast, Mike appeared to crack up laughing in the middle of the composed section and his solo, because he was a bit off track. Mike does not crack up laughing very often on stage (in case you didn’t notice). This was not the tightest, nor the worst, version you will hear.

“Roggae” is a song I absolutely love. It is beautiful and features that blissful melodic jamming that if you’re a Phish fan you have to love (see also, Reba, Hood, Slave). The “Roggae” jam is always very open and spacious. Like “Ocelot,” it rarely goes type ii (although see the amazing, 8/5/11 version) but it does feature really great interplay between the members. This version was not exceptional, but again features Trey’s melodic and expressive playing.

“Possum” — after two weird/mellow songs, a fine choice for a rockin’ closer. Of course, some of us were hoping for “David Bowie” or “Antelope”, but I’d rather get this Possum now than in the second set.

Set 2 — “Bathtub Gin” is/was in a similar “rut” like “Wolfman’s”. It used to be a long form jam vehicle, but in 3.0 it nearly always follows the C myxolydian build to a peak formula. Nearly every version has people say “this one was extra good,” but they all can’t be “extra” good. In truth, they are all similar and formulaic great. This one stuck to the formula of the C build for the first 11 minutes. But, then Trey started playing these menacing “wah” chords, and we were off. The first “type ii” Gin in ages! It is amazing how Phish just knows that if they play a song in a second set, it can possibly go different directions. The jam sort of flowed aimlessly through this ethereal bliss space for 4 minutes, but nothing really stuck. By minute 13, Fishman pretty much stops playing (Fishman’s tendency to do this kills more jams than BDTNTL!), and Trey was playing some punchy arpeggios to try to get something going. In the 14th minute, Trey was playing some interesting blues-rock riffs, but the lack of beat caused the jam to fizzle into nothingness — and “Limb by Limb.” Overall, this was a type ii Gin, but a hugely disappointing one. (Disclaimer: I was at 7/29/98 and 2/22/03, so I have pretty high expectations for this).

“Limb By Limb” — This is where “Golden Age” might often crop up (if it didn’t open the set). Instead we get an unbelievable and exploratory version of a real Phish song. For pure uniqueness and weird exploration, this jam is even better than 8/28/12 (Which I happened to witness live). Early on the jam (5:30) Trey starts playing chords which is always a signal the jam will be “different.” It stays roughly in “Limb” territory until minute 9…then Trey’s solo kind of collapses into a repetitive drone of notes. The rest of the band quickly picks up on this pattern, and, all of the sudden, we are in this weird, circus-like motif that keeps repeating, with each member filling in the holes of a tenacious groove. Kind of like the eerie 12/30/12 “Carini”, this jam sound like it belongs in a movie soundtrack. It is completely bonkers and I loved it. The definite highlight of the night. In minute 12, the groove kind of collapses back into a drum beat that might get us back to “Limb’s” ending with Fishman singing. Instead….

…we get “Winterqueen”. This is a song I’ve grown to love since I heard the album version (way better than the 10/31/13 version). This one is a bit rough around the edges. Trey can’t decide how to handle the outro jam as it vacillates from the open jam from the album to the normal Winterqueen chords.

“The Line”. Remember this moment. It is the moment when Fuego songs began to wear out their welcome. A nice little ditty it is. Played well for a national audience on Letterman. But, after “Winterqueen”??? No — that is not cool.

Luckily, they rewarded us with a “Tweezer” after the two-song delay into Fuego promotion. “Tweezer” seems to always “do more” if its in the early part of Set II. This one is decent. The Am funk groove is nasty, and it transitions into a C Lydian (hat tip @MikeHamad) — essentially going from the minor ii chord to the major IV chord which allows for a ‘bliss’ feel. Trey picks up on a haunting melody that Page plays (roughly 10:24) This feels like a ‘tease’ — but what is it????? I can’t place it. It sounds like a Disney movie theme of sorts. Please tweet @solargarlicband if you know what this melody is. By 11 minutes, the blissful Lydian groove is getting more energy and is feeling like it might lift off into an epic-stlye peak (e.g. the 10/29/13 Disease)…but alas, it dissipates and Trey repeats that tease (rough 11:40) and the jam peters out (like Gin) and we get the always unwelcome chant of….

Ohhhhhhh to be “Prince Caspian”. Sometimes the jam is actually interesting on this song. This is not one of those times.

“Sparkle” is standard and fun after a lot of weird and mellow jamming and songs.

“Antelope” is probably the high energy closer this set needed. This version isn’t anything special. Sticks to the Em-D build.

The Encore of “Sing Monica”-> “Tweezer Reprise” is fine. “Sing Monica” really also improved since 10/31/13. The electric treatment gives it more energy. And, it has some of that 4 part vocal layering that makes Phish who they are.

So, again — the lack of covers means we are going to see type ii versions of songs we don’t expect — and odd setlist arrangements. This is exciting, but honestly I wish they’d just play covers. So far we’ve gotten exploratory versions of “Hood”, “Gin” and “Limb”. What’s next?
Score: 16
YouEnjoyPhun , attached to 2014-07-03 Permalink
Set 1 was lot's o' fun. Strange Design, Yarmouth Road, funky Wolfman, all fun stuff!

I so disagree with solargarlic78. the 'no covers' run is welcomed for however long it lasts. As couch tour viewers probably noted, halftime featured a photo montage with a #Phish30 firmly planted in the bottom left corner of the screen. The anniversary continues!

Show highlight for me was the Gin>Limb>Winterqueen holy trinity and it was just the beginning of set 2.

Keep the Fuego coming, let's see a lonely Wombat pop up tonite! SPAC is always special and last night kept that tradition alive.
Score: 6
ajcmixer , attached to 2014-07-03 Permalink
Excellent 1st of a three show run, did more than enough without going totally full blast, treating it more like a marathon rather than a sprint. Fishman was clearly the MVP to my ears last night. The engine that propels the band was on hyperdrive at times. Maze, CDT and Antelope had some sort of insane energy going on and I pin it on Fish. But the entire band was happy and on fire. Trey was hoping up and down like mad on Wolfman's and that was only the 2nd song! After a Farmhouse opening that was as far out from left field as humanly possible.

Make no mistake, this is the Fuego tour. I've seen this movie before and it is all good. A band totally deserves and in reality has an obligation to play the music of a brand new album, if only for the new fans that get into it via the album. But I don't think they are playing it any safer because of it, the Wolfman's was straight up funked up, Maze slayed, Mound was spot on, Roggae was my highlight of the set, some sublime moments from Trey on it. And Possum was Possum.

The Gin>Limb By Limb was firemost and Limb dissolved into into a rather sticky goo that if you walked in as a newbie on the shoulders of Fuego it may have had them asking themselves if this was the same band that played on Fuego and/or if this was such a good idea to come to this show based on Fuego, LOL! Wintergreen was beautiful and The Line was really good, I'm really starting to dig its vibe.

For those that might have been bored by the new stuff Tweezer should have done a good job of amping the adrenaline level in one's blood flow. Prince Caspian was nice, I actually called Sparkle while hanging outside with my peeps before entering thru the gates and Antelope, thanks to Fishman, was out of control. Almost. But damm if riding that fine line between staying on the tracks and a high speed train wreck isn't thrilling fun.

I thought Sing Monica was great and honestly thought that they were going to save the Reprise for another day but Reprise they did, the final musical orgasm for the first roll in the grass here in SPAC. Page thanked everybody before the encore for being so receptive to the new stuff and reiterated, as they always do here at SPAC, that they loved playing here and their performance shows their love for both venue and audience. Truly believe that they have much more musical fireworks planned for us over the next two days, in every respect possible. Shout out to my peeps, a truly loving hang, and new peep Rome, truly a righteous dude. Enjoy and have a great and safe 4th. How can one not, we're here with the greatest traveling circus in the whole wide world, the epicenter of the musical universe.

Peace,
Alex
Score: 4
Cerias , attached to 2014-07-03 Permalink
I don't want to sound ungrateful, I'm not. I'm happy they are out touring and have really had a spectacular resurgence in the last few years. I have tickets to see the boys this summer, and I eagerly await those shows. But, I would be remiss not to give my opinion of this show. I have not attended a lot of shows, but I have seen some really excellent ones over the many years since my first and have listened to thousands of hours of their music. I am certainly not a jaded vet, but like a good meal, or good movie, there are ways to determine the good from the bad. It is no different with an artists' performance. The way that Phish puts themselves out there each night of a tour (not repeating songs, willing to improvise, etc.) there are bound to be some clunkers. This was one of them. I am certainly not perfect, and neither are they. I had some very strong opinions during the broadcast last night. I, like others, do not like every Phish song. There are probably, at most, 15 songs that I just don't care for. And when they place six of those in one show (and even open with one), it adds to the disappointment. I can honestly say that this was the first Phish show that I have either attended or couch-toured that I have been disappointed. I look to Phish as a source of entertainment, an escape; and like going to a favorite restaurant and getting a bad meal, it is a bummer. They are certainly not in the business of pleasing me alone, and I hope that I see more of the things that I love about this band tonight and for the rest of the tour. With that said...

If you asked me what song would be the worst possible choice to open a show, it would be Farmhouse. Maybe Bug, Joy, Summer of 89, Yarmouth Road, or Sugar Shack would be a close second. And, in my opinion, that set the tone for a not-so-great show. There wasn't anything remarkable about the first set. Though I like the new album (mostly), one of the songs I don't particularly care for is Devotion to a Dream. It sounds a lot like another new-ish song that I don't care for either - Backwards Down the Number Line. With so many recent excellent shows filled with exploratory jams, tight focused playing, and a willingness to show their goofy side, there was precious little of that last night. The Bathtub -> Limb sequence was nice, but it felt like right when Gin had a chance to distinguish itself from a lot of other Gins of 3.0, it segued into Limb by Limb (which was slightly above average). I would have liked for them to flesh that Gin out a little more before switching gears. It wasn't that I was disappointed by their choice, it just would have been nice to have more. The rest of the second set was similar to the first, unremarkable. The word I choose to summarize the night is - bland.

Unfortunately, this qualifies as a show I will never go back and listen to; it was unremarkable in every way. It wasn't that any band member was particularly off, or not in sync with each other, it just lacked flow and any discernable high points. I certainly do not expect them to be amazing every night, it is not possible. But if this turns out to be the worst of the tour, then we have a lot of great shows and moments to come. Thanks for reading and I hope I didn't offend anyone.
Score: 4
wombat26 , attached to 2014-07-03 Permalink
First set lacked compared to Mansfield. Wolfmans and Maze were nice as they always are. Devotion was nice(my favorite of the new album). Chalkdust and Mound were nice. Nothing over the top.

Second set was kind of a mixed bag for me. Gin>Limb by Limb>Winterqueen was, in all honestly, some of the best music I think I've ever heard from them. I mean that.

Then The Line....

Completely killed the momentum! Not that it's THAT bad of a song, in the first set it would have been fine.

Tweezer reenergized, but was cut off by caspian. Sparkle and Antelope brought it home in a strong way. Nice encore as well.

All in all, strong effort, for the most part. Almost as good as Mansfield to me(despite what the majority will say). Hope to see you all tonight!
Score: 2
kyleindeed , attached to 2014-07-03 Permalink
Good show! Mansfield was safer, less controversial and a little better.

I like this SPAC1 on the couch tour more than last year's SPAC1, and I was at that show.

They're just trying not to overshadow today's Fourth of July show.

No covers... no worries. Won't last forever, namely The Star Spangled Banner tonight.

If I would've attended tonight's show, I would've loved to witness the Strange Design bust-out. Roggae as well. Gin was solid no matter how much crap many will throw on it. LxL > Winterqueen was stellar and oh so unexpected. Tweezer came a night sooner than I expected, and even if it wasn't Tahoe level it definitely out shined last year's SPAC Tweezer with the rip-chord into Sand. I'll still take Sand over a lazy Caspian tho.. Sparkle saved Caspian more than Free saved Simple during the tour opener.

Antelope thru Tweeprise was tight and predictable. Boys are still heating the oven and ready to start cooking. Tonight will be the feast!
Score: 1
Hood91 , attached to 2014-07-03 Permalink
I think this show is getting a bit of a bad rap. Yes: the strange Farmhouse opener, the subdued middle section of the first set, the questionable Monica encore, the ending of Tweezer in favor of Caspian, two down-tempo Fuego tunes in the 3rd quarter, etc. But there were some excellent moments. I personally felt - both while being there and listening long after the show - that the Wolfman's and the Maze were superbly played and really got the show going. Mound > Roggae > Possum was an awesome way to close the first set, with a particularly tasty Roggae. I think the Gin is underrated, especially since the last two SPAC Gins, as excellent as they were, stay firmly within the bounds of a standard type I Gin. I feel this Limb's reputation is exceeding its value somewhat, but nonetheless, both were really creative moments and highlights of the run. In retrospect and on paper the Winterqueen seems like a bummer (and I'm sure it genuinely was for a portion of the audience), but the major key bliss provided a nice break from two dark, more dissonant jams, and they played it longer and more intensely than I think anyone expected them to. It's not a remarkable show at all - justifiably overshadowed by nights 2 and 3 of SPAC and the rest of this tour - but it's far from a clunker either. There is more good material here than many are acknowledging.
Score: 1
dscott , attached to 2014-07-03 Permalink
My 15th show began with the song that hooked me on The Phish 15 years ago - Farmhouse...and Trey forgot how the song's structure goes. This set the tone for a show where nothing was quite the way it's supposed to be - the weather, the setlist structure, the song structures, and so on. Day even began with a shattered mirror as I pulled out of my parking spot at home, and ended with a hotel without power until the next morning. I admittedly acted like a jackass about both setbacks.

Set 1 took a turn for the better with a typically glurpy Wolfman's funkfest, and then some appropriately discordant Trey / Page interplay on a solidly manic Maze. Yarmouth Road was another favorite selection marred by Trey's forgetting the song's structure, in stark contrast to the song's electrifying debut last year. Strange Design was simple, eloquent, and on point. Devotion To a Dream was album-solid, and that's the best thing I can say about it. Ocelot was one of the better versions - lively verses, biting solo break, and a blissfully meandering outro jam featuring some atypical accents toward the end. Chalkdust brought some '94 style tension, with a huge build, but then just became flaccid at jam's end without the anticipated peak release. Mound was good fun, and Mike's mini-flubs were trivial. Roggae was drizzly and floaty. Possum got good and playful, thanks to some inspired thematic piano runs by Page. Break time!

Bathtub Gin meandered aimlessly - far inferior to the version I saw last fall in Woostah, but some robots will surely tout its imaginary greatness because it went type II. Limby Limb was an interesting curveball, a second improv excursion in lieu of doing what the song "should" do - and this time it really worked!! Funky, yet brazen and outside, before congealing into a blissful Winterqueen intro. Time for the obligatory interminable pause before a simple quickie from the new album. The Line. Oh! drama. Tweezer brought us back from the daddy opera, recapped the Limbylimb theme with incessant "Head Shoulders Knees and Toes" quoteases, and got into some deep space before erupting into a typically stately Caspian. Closing jam was a bit aimless, hinted at a rare "finished" finale, and then abruptly bouncegiggled into Sparkle - another welcome surprise. Run Like An Antelope was about average - i.e. a scorching throwdown. Sing Monica...and play, Trey!! A slightly extended and typically thunderous Tweeprise said goodnight.

Here's hoping for more fireworks tonight!!!
Score: 0
dutchbug , attached to 2014-07-03 Permalink
dutchbug Streamed this at work. I don't like Farmhouse, but I like the gesture of opening the show with it. It's not your typical opener, it doesn't get the crowd pumped, and it doesn't lead into anything. You gotta keep 'em guessing. Nice to hear Maze early on. Mound-Roggae-Possum was the highlight of the first set and the only thing I think I'd listen to again. I don't normally like Gin, but this jam was interesting, same with Limb X Limb. Winterqueen was cool and Tweezer was standard. Sing Monica- Tweezer Reprise was a lot of fun. I hadn't realized Monica's greatness prior to this. I played this one in our car on long car trip and afterwards, my wife was like 'that was ok.....' She summed it up. Obviously, I wasn't at the damn show, and if I were I would have liked it a lot o more, but as something to listen to at work and in the car this is 3 stars.
Score: 0
tacoandthespacecadet4000 , attached to 2014-07-03 Permalink
All in all this show was a wash compared to night 2 and 3. Tweezer was solid, however if you are to take anything out of this night listen to the first +/- 30 minutes of the second set (Gin > Limb by Limb). Gin is beautiful and the jam out of Limb by Limb (last +/- 5 minutes) was the best of the run. Best version I have personally ever heard and a must listen. Unfortunately all the mojo from Gin > Limb was destroyed going into Winterqueen. Total bummer.
Score: 0
Sunny , attached to 2014-07-03 Permalink
Sunny Ahh my first ever spac show, waited out in the rain all day and it was well worth it. I don't care what other people say but i loved the farmhouse opener it gave me chills. Limb by limb was great, as was everything else. Very solid show in my opinion.
Score: 0

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