with a week + between super ball and myself, i figured i'd throw up a review for those that may not have heard it yet. the boys may not have completely let loose too many times over the weekend, they still put on one hell of a festival!
possum: after so many panning possum for being overplayed, the boys come right out and drop a nice bluesy, rip-roaring version. trey has a good time playing with the tension and release, working the amped crowd.
peaches>: boom! fishman cranks this one up right as possum comes to an end. the boys nailed it. one more can you say?
moma dance: this is one of the finest versions of this tune i've seen in a long, long time. the boys may not have taken this one too far out there, but it was a patient, funky exploration of moma. great take.
torn and frayed>: i'm not a big stones fan, but this one worked well here. rarity points, i suppose.
nicu>: nice straight-forward version. love any chance i get a chance to hear leo "play it."
bathtub gin: this gave us our first glimpse of some super ball jammin'. once again, patience is the name of the game on this one. they don't stray too far from the bathtub gin theme, but they do just about everything with that theme possible as they climb to a nice peak. great page/trey interplay, as usual on this tune.
life on mars: yes! like peaches, another one i had been chasing for some time. great version. well played for a bust out!
my friend my friend: this was a pretty straight forward version. it was excellently placed between life on mars and ...
wolfman's brother: good things happen when page leads the way. it's amazing how phish can play this song every 3rd night and still blow people away with it. anyway, gordo and fishman lay down a nasty foundation, and trey is smart enough to follow page. greatness ensues...
roses are free>: pretty sweet cool down tune. standard version.
funky bitch: great soloing by trey. this got the place rocking with set break looming...
quinn the eskimo: i challenge someone to find a more rocking version of this song, by anyone. they took this one for an extra long stroll, and it definitely payed off. trey delivers a victorious solo.
jam>cross eyed and painless: the boys hint at things to come with a nice ambient jam, which had many guessing...dwd, bowie, maze, 2001. nope. bang, they shoot into cross eyed and painless. like many version from the summer, this one holds tight to that cross eyed theme, but it doesn't keep the boys from crushing it. eventually, it gives was to a more ambient jam. as this unravels, trey finally steps up and tries to ease the boys into...
chalk dust torture: not the best segue into chalk dust, but it was by no means abrasive like some we have heard from the boys. trey quickly leaves the ambient behind, and rocks the crowd with this one. it doesn't go anywhere particularly new, but it does get the crowd revved up for...
sand>: one of my favorites. gordon and trey both sound great on this one. like many songs from this weekend, they don't go particularly far off the beaten path, but they do an excellent job exploring the melody/theme of the song. page has some excellent work here. as does trey.
wedge: this song follows sand very well. excellent breezy version, giving everyone a breathe before...
mike's song>: i still love mike's song, even at 7 minutes. the boys were playing as one as they climbed to a firey mike's song climax. trey absolutely shredded the whole way up. they skip simple on the "simple section," but they wait to let this jam crash all the way down before trey rips off the intro to...
simple>: this was your type 2 jam of the set. it doesn't take them long to get into the stratosphere on this one. trey moves seamlessly from soft melodic playing to feedback drenched wailing. this one settles back down and moves with ease into...
bug>: i have never hidden the fact that i strongly dislike this song, but i have to admit, at this point, it seemed to fit well. plus, it was played very well. great playing by trey and page highlight this one.
the horse>silent>: following bug, i was hoping they'd bring the energy up a notch, so as much as i like this song(s), i wasn't to into in this slot. it was well-played though.
weekapaugh's groove: after spending the last little while in mellow land, the boys had trouble cranking it up for this one. it wasn't bad, but it certainly as impressive as pretty much every other one from the summer. for the first time on the night, trey fell a bit flat on a jam. not bad, not "great."
joy: well, they killed the momentum again. once again, not a bad version, just not what i was looking for at this juncture.
character zero: i have always found this song to be cheesy. this one was not an exception. well-played if you're into this tune.
show of life: they were pretty mellow for the back half of the 2nd set, so this seemed like a fitting encore. well played.
all in all, this show was very sharp. not a whole lot in the world of type 2 jamming, but they showed true mastery over their catalog. most of their exploring came within the framework of the songs, and each time, they seemed to bury it. it was a great first night to the 3 night run.
set 1: peaches>moma, bt gin, life on mars, wolfman's, quinn (yeah that's a lot of highlights)
Over 13 hours of music divided by $200 equals roughly $15 per hour of Phish. That's a steal in my book.
This show was a good way to start off the weekend.
I felt like set one was a nod to musical influences on Phish, with Zappa, the Stones, David Bowie, Ween, Son Seals, and Dylan all given their dues. 'Moma Dance' was the best version I had heard since the return, with a nice B section after the lyrical refrain.
The jam before 'Crosseyed' was certainly a hint at what would come during the Self Storage USA experience. I yelled 'Sand' as 'Chalkdust' came to a close, and was glad to hear it. 'Simple' was really the star of day one, with a deeply explored ambient jam that seemed to capture everyone's attention. I saw the debut of 'Show of Life' in Chicago last summer, after which my grandma passed away, so this one all gets me a little teary eyed now - beautiful, emotive lyrics in this.
If one wants to carry on the racing tropes, this was a pretty sweet "trial run" on the looping Watkins Glen track to open up a high-octane weekend.
This show was the heat of the three. With seven of the first thirteen songs being covers (and some of those rarely played), and all played extremely well, this show was a treat.
A high-energy Possum to kick off an exceptional weekend, followed by a punchy and impeccable Peaches, cleanly segued into Moma?...the crowd was loving every note. Torn and Frayed was a change of vibe, but was played well. NICU punched it up, and got things bouncing again.
Bathtub was smokin' hot in the jam section (I think Trey grew an extra finger). The crowd was eating up every note, and the banter before Life on Mars? broke the what-comes-next tension and set the tone for the marathon (it's not a sprint) weekend; the boys weren't in a hurry. Patience was the theme.
I remember when My Friend, My Friend was played more frequently, and to hear this clean, albeit concise, version was like a visit from an old friend. Wolfman's Bro wasn't a balls-to-the-wall jamfest, but as I said: patience. Please listen to the interplay around the six-minute mark. They aren't charging, leaving a trail of fire, and laying waste to the scorched earth they've traversed...they're playing...in the truest sense. No one was listening to them more closely than they were listening to each other.
I know that every time Roses starts everybody is hoping for another 4/3/98, but that's just not reality. In reality, they played it note perfect, and even if it isn't the jam to end all jams, it's a great tune from a great band as Phish continues to tip its hat to its varied influences.
Funky Bitch is so totally smoking, it's hard to withstand its full force as Trey tears apart the final solo, with Fish soloing just as feverishly behind him, Page banging away, and Mike holding it all together.
I saw the Quinn at Oswego in '99, and this was certainly tighter, and more energetic (maybe because it wasn't 100 degrees out) more Phish-like, with the builds and crescendos piling one atop the other as they wound the set to its conclusion.
The evil ambiance of the jam that opened the second set drew the crowd in to the mental space that we would return to for the Storage Jam>Sleeping Monkey on Saturday before blowing the doors of perception wide open with a fast and tight Crosseyed and Painless. Again, a solid romp on the Heads' theme, even if it doesn't get as far out as the one from Coral Sky Amph '96.
*I feel this is an appropriate time for a side note: I know that 3.0 is often criticized for not spacing out for 20+ min on some favorite jam vehicles, but I feel that they boys have been getting out there as far, but more quickly, and snapping back more sharply in their current incarnation...allowing for more songs/show. I love the exploratory sessions as much as anyone (like the Undermind headphones jam), but if you revisit enough of the 20+ minute jams, you may find that there is a lot of lazy stuff in those. I would not use the word "lazy" to describe the playing in 3.0.
Like Zero, Chalkdust is not my favorite song (though it is better than Zero), but it is obviously one of Trey's favorites, and he never disappoints. And on this one, I think Mike's sound is a bit punchier than some versions.
I like this kind of relaxed Sand, with Mike and Fish keeping things moving while Trey noodles over the top, and Page backing it all up with some lovely melodic phrases. It's all a nice place from which to build for the final crescendo, which is done fluidly and as one.
I've got no problem with The Wedge, and I think that this one is close to note-perfect.
Mike's has always been a hit with me, even if I fell like I might be hearing it more often than I need (it feels less like a bust-out these days). I'm continuing to caution patience, here. A slow burn is still a fire.
This Simple seems to underscore the slow and steady approach to song-craft with its soft and ambient stretch. They take it down to the ground without every letting the air out completely.
Bug seemed a strange choice to come out of the vibration that had ensconced the past seven minutes, but I leave it to the boys to figure out what goes where. These reflective and more introspective songs have taken on new meaning with the personal and professional turmoil that has transpired since their compositions. I think this makes the strength of the final build ,and the release of the tensions built during the quiet vocals, all the more cathartic.
I've always loved the Horse>Silent combo and revel in its beauty and simplicity.
That said, it makes for a difficult springboard for Weekapaug. I compare every Weekapaug to the unbridled freakshow that was 7/17/99 at The Gorge...even if I know it won't be matched. This was still very good.
Joy continued the rollercoaster of emotion. I think that the crowd had the break they needed with Horse>SITM, and didn't need to be brought down after Weekapaug, but c'est la vie. Still, the playing is crisp and without error.
I've already covered my feelings about Zero. My heart always sinks when I hear the opening notes...but I usually change my tune by the end. I don't know why Trey loves it so much, but he certainly does!
I heard Show of Life for the first time at Berkeley's Greek Theater (the only song that I hadn't seen before of all three nights at the Greek), and I liked it immediately. A great metaphor in a great song. Thanks, Dude of Life.
This is NOT a complaint, but something I felt was actually pretty cool & wondered if anyone else out there noticed. During the 1st set, 3 songs stood out as "jammed" -- Bathtub, Wolfman's & Quinn. What I noticed was that they were all the same jam. I don't mean that everything they do sounds the same, & I'm not complaining as much noticing, but especially with Bathtub & Wolfman's, the jams seemed to evolve into exactly the same jam. As if there was this feeling out there, manifested in certain musical rhythyms, that appeared to come out no matter what song provided the springboard.
I thought it was neat.
Listened to the live stream last night(stream quality was awesome by the way) and i was impressed especially with the 2nd set. When I heard the boys starting to play "Mike's", i thought it was goin to be pretty standard but yet again the boys prove me wrong. They jammed "Simple" like ive never heard it before and then went > "Bug" and Trey always rips it when they play that song. They couldnt have played it out better with the sequence startin at "Mike's" and ending after "Weekapaug" which included great grooves and jams. Great start to a long weekend of jams and great music. Can't wait to see what they come up with the rest of the weekend! Also, cool bustout in 1st set: "Life on Mars?".
In some ways, this show is "A Tale of Two Sets," IMO. The first begins auspiciously with Possum, which, if I remember correctly, was nearly omnipresent at this time in Phishtory. Moma gets extended a bit, but in a Type-I way. Gin goes out some, and Wolfman's is probably *the* jam of the first set. The tale of the first set is that it's more ragery than the second, for the most part: read on to see what the codicil means. Set II opens with a legitimate "Jam," rare for 3.0 and all of Phishtory AFAIK. I'm not a huge Crosseyed fan, so I'll let the current reviews address that one. The most exciting thing about Set II, for me, is Simple > Bug, immortalized in perpetuity by an HD video on Phish's YouTube channel (and, previously, their Vimeo channel.) Simple explores some comfortable, even pointillist, space, before Bug returns to the ragery of Set I. Weekapaug also clambers along with its vintage Vermont cowfunk and virtuosic displays from all four heads of the Hydra. Show of Life encores kind of bum me out, when there're so many other "better" choices, but Trey really seems to love the tune, if we're assuming Trey mostly picks the songs, so... Average-great show, and a good beginning to Superball IX.
Ah SBIX... 5 years removed, this festival remains a peak experience for me in terms of capping off a nice run of shows, a good overall year, and just an amazing perfect camping experience.
But, vibes aside, we came for the music.
Possum opened up in cheeky fashion. Shrugging off the haters and blowing everyone's lid early with some guitar fireworks. I thought this was a strong version. Good opener.
Peaches...yes! GREAT treat and really well played.
Moma Dance was next, and I was expecting a standard version, but this one smoked. I kid you not it had extra swagger and a great guitar solo from Trey. Fire.
Torn and Frayed is rare and a great Stones tune, so that's a big home run in my book. Good version, they nailed it.
NICU brought back the dancing vibe we had in Moma and Possum and slotted in nicely as a jolt after Torn and Frayed.
Bathtub Gin offered the first canvas for the fellas to stretch their legs. They did so with a nice patient, but fiery Gin that hit the highs of the typical 3.0 versions. Fishman was an animal and Trey delivered a really strong well constructed solo. This version isn't in the pantheon, but it's good. More so, this was just a great release for everyone, band & fans alike.
Trey took a moment to say how relaxed they were since they were going to be there for like 4 days or something. He made some comments about encouraging the guy in the Ferris Wheel to take a leap (jokingly) and mentioned bringing a big mattress in next year (..ok we didn't come back till Magna, but hey, they made it back, sans mattress).
Life On Mars? was more magic. Like Peaches, they nailed this rarity and it felt so right after a lot of rocking tunes.
My Friend My Friend kicked in and brought that darkness we all love to the set. Great placement and a fine version indeed.
Wolfman's Brother is always welcome and this brought us back to the rocking funk. This is a GREAT version. It's not exploratory or overly long, but the playing is top notch. There's a great funk section and Trey leans on the wah for a descending sequence of notes that is just perfection (with Mike and Page doing absolute work). They get through the dance jam and turn towards a rocking peak. Fishman comes in at the absolute perfect moments with some incredible fills and drives Trey to a raging peak. The climax is great and Fishman is simply a man possessed. Those fills are the stuff of legend for me. Ok you get it, I really enjoyed this.
Roses are Free was a welcome cover and they played this one well. It's a definite favorite in the cover department.
Speaking of covers they kicked into a rocking Funky Bitch. High energy tune for a pretty darn energetic set.
A final cover - Quinn the Eskimo - which deserves to be mentioned / annotated in the setlist. This is the finest version they have played of the song. It's great.
Overall set I: Wow, what a way to kick off a festival. No lulls here, plenty of rarities/covers, and plenty of great (albeit type I) jamming on some classic Phish tunes.
Highlights: Peaches, Moma Dance, Gin, Wolfman's Brother, Quinn the Eskimo - generally a top to bottom well constructed and well played first set.
So festival jamming is pretty much legendary from the early days of Clifford Ball Mike's to Went (both set IIs) even to Coventry, which had some monsters, we expect a lot from the jams in the festival setting. So what did the Ball deliver?
Set II kicked off with a dark jam of the comical variety, which I hoped was a signal of intent for the whole weekend. It was fun, but still contained some odd and interesting interplay and some evil laughter until....
Crosseyed kicked in. Nice call (lot of covers already?). This one was a tight and fiery version that peaked pretty hard with the whole band playing well and Trey providing some great notes. After the peak they faded out into a nice spacey segment. It had that 2011 outro jam feel where a lot of songs weren't super long but had a nice 2-3 minute jam tacked on the end that bled into another song. This one was nice, with everyone contributing to a really pleasant space. Trey eventually got a good idea and started strumming the opening to Chalkdust.
I thought the segue was quite smooth and sort of gave CDT a more relaxed feel. The jam was interesting and at times hinted at breaking through to a major key jam without ever truly departing. Overall a really nice take on the classic with some interesting playing throughout. Great opening sequence.
Sand was a great call, and while this one had stayed pretty comfortable type I throughout 2009,10 &11 (with a notable exception at Camden '09), it was a festival groove that was a joy to be a part of. The whole field was bouncing and grooving. The jam was also quite good. It was in the box, but Trey was working some great lines, with Mike and Page really interacting and weaving around. They brought this to a nice peak.
They dove into the Wedge next. I thought this was also a nice placement, even though not a "jam" song - it was a nice breather from the ample jamming of the first three songs. It's a personal favorite as well and fit the beautiful weather and vibe nicely.
They kick into Mike's, which gets pretty serious pretty quickly. Even at 7 minutes or so there's plenty of room for the band to get down and dirty. The darkness and solitude of Watkins Glenn provided a great landscape for some menacing, snarling licks before they pop into Simple. Nothing out of the 3.0 ordinary, but it was a good not back to the darkness of the opening jam.
Simple was the jam of the day (weekend?). This one had some fantastic interplay from the outro and they slid from that nice melodic jamming to some pretty gnarly, feedback drenched, psychedelic soundscapes. Trey was making good use of the phrase sampler and looping some backing notes that slid in and out, while Page was able to continue building/layering noise on top. Mike was hitting that echoey bass effect that filled any remaining voids and Fish was drumming the way only he can on these atmospheric jams. Trey eventually hits the melody from Third Stone From the Sun which elicited a good crowd reaction and they bled quietly down into Bug.
I thought this was a nice spot for Bug as we hadn't really had any slower tunes. They hit the jam and it was really nice. I thought the playing was fantastic in the jam.
Horse>Silent was a bit of an odd choice after the Bug slowdown. I sort of thought Weekapaug would have been good to just kick in the energy. It was fine, I suppose.
Weekapaug emerged out of Silent and kind of fizzled. Maybe they were just feeling a bit tired after playing so much music already, but Unlike all of the other type I jamming that seemed to rage to fiery peaks, Trey didn't seem super engaged and this one felt pretty darn short and unsatisfying.
Joy...man I got hit with a ton of late set II joys in 2011.
Zero brought back some rock and roll. It's predictable, but I think it was good to bring back some guitar driven rock after sort of an odd backend of set II.
Encore was Show of Life... damn, I got a fair number of these ones too...
Overall Set II: This one came out of the gates in fine fashion and really was fantastic up through Bug. From Horse onward they kind of lost it and the playing wasn't as crisp either. Nevertheless I actually really like the set, specifically the Xeyed, Sand & Simple.
Highlights: Jam>Crosseyed->Chalkdust, Sand, Simple
Overall: This was a fine way to open SBIX. In fact, I would say Set I was one of the stronger I have seen and remains to this day a set I re-spin (so much fun, great songs, and really good in the box jamming). Set II was similarly fantastic until it took a left turn. Simple also gave us enough of a taste of type II glory to keep dreaming of big jams on day II.
4/5 Well above average in spite of limited exploratory jamming...
This was a great start to a kick off the Festival. 1st set was filled with lots of fun songs; Peaches, Life on Mars?, Roses, Quinn!! ... Just great set overall.. And 2nd set was really fun too, loved the jam into CrossEyed to kick it off, and then Sand with a Mikes Weekapaug combo.. Can't ask for more for a 2nd set. (Ok maybe a 2001 lol)
Could have taken another encore, not the biggest fan of Show if Life, I'd rather them kill it w a GoodxBadx or Loving Cup? Something upbeat? Idk... Overall good show!
Just finished listening to the live stream on livephish.com by the way thank you livephish/sirius/xm and/or everyone else involved, really means a lot to us fans not able to make it to the ball! This is my first review by the way but as much time as I spend listening to phish and reading other reviews I felt like I should give my two cents.... First set was pretty strraight forward, everything sounded good but nothing mind blowing...
Gin was great along with all the other ones this tour. Life On Mars? was a really good bust out, Possibly the best Wolfman's of the tour really funky! Definitley the best Quinn I've ever heard!
Second set was great but along with other shows/jams this tour... felt like the rug was pulled out from beneath it's feet.
Started Off with Crosseyed> Chalkdust that soared, Sand was great 2nd only to the 6/19 Portsmouth version that was amazing. Mike's was good pretty much straight forward 3.0, it really took off during Simple. I don't know about anyone else, but I felt a jam of the tour coming with a Simple> What's The Use? Was that just me or did anyone else hear that coming? Kind of let down with a countoff into Bug, but this a very smoking Bug. The Horse> Silent In The Morning? hated to see that pop up in the second half... Weekapaug blazed..... Joy, Character Zero.... always enjoy a Show Of Life encore...
A wonderful start to night one of Superball, this show had the potential to be up there with the best of Leg 1 but we still have 5 sets left so keep it going guys I'll keep listening! ......... By the way does anyone know what time first set starts tomorrow??
Hopefully we can get this show rated where it needs to be. Pretty average show great to be here type playing. On key and straight forward. Nothing to say you have to go get this show now oh my god it was the best ever. I do however recommend it to everyone to at least take a listen.
I really hope that we can start leaving the review sections off for about a month so they don't get blown up with Read Icculus reviews.
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