I've been listening to a lot of Dead lately, and one thing I've come to cherish about Dead shows is the 'Jerry Ballad' - the slow, intensely weary late-second-set Garcia tune that in the band's later years served as the inevitable landing pad for the big Set Two jam. Those weary murder ballads and brokedown folk numbers - Wharf Rat, Black Peter, Morning Dew, Stella Blue, Standing on the Moon - let the dancers come down a little and offered a familiar musical space for the psychedelicists in the room, but also brought the night's intensity and *intimacy* up to a new level. They weren't just 'bathroom break' tunes. Far from it.
I don't know that there's a Phish equivalent to the Jerry Ballad. Certainly there are late-night Phish mainstays: Slave, Hood, the inescapable YEM. But you might say those tunes are for getting high rather than going deep, you feel me? Phish have never been a melancholy band, and their 2010 shows are more relentlessly upbeat than any of their post-Remain in Light performances; gorgeous as Hood and Slave are, weirdly abstract as YEM is, they're also a little glib, mainly in terms of lyrical content. ('Seen the city, seen the zoo / Traffic light won't let me through' doesn't deserve to be spoken aloud in the same breath as 'Half of my life / I spent doin' time for / Some other fucker's crime.') The Hood jam might be the most beautiful thing anyone's ever played - I think that sometimes - but as a whole, the *song* Harry Hood is a little jokey for its own good, wouldn't you say?
And aren't the songs songs, rather than wrappers for improvisations?
Now, Phish aren't up to what the Dead were up to, obviously, so we shouldn't hold Trey's 'failure' to be Jerry Garcia against him, anymore than we should reduce him to his success at (kinda) being Frank Zappa. But listening to this superb show, I find myself wishing for a Jerry Ballad. This band means the world to me, but I've been wishing it for a while...
This concert is pure high-octane Friday rock majesty, but it didn't have to be just that. There isn't a single dull or lame moment in the whole second set, and plenty of thrilling ones: Trey's haunting guitar work near the end of the Rock'n'Roll jam, unexpected funk rhythms in Carini, the spry solos in My Problem Right There, the ecstatic stupidity and surprising intensity of the late Sanity jam, chromatic craziness in Weekapaug, and of course the unbelievable richness of Light. (Phish have never played a bad version of Light.)
In fact, 10/22/10 is in competition with 10/20, 10/26, 8/18, 8/14, 10/19, 8/9, 8/7, and 6/27 for Show of the Year.
But consider what the guys are working with! Sanity. Mike's (etc.) Groove. Carini. Suzy Greenberg. Character Zero! Fluffhead for Christ's sake! Sophisticated music (usually) paired with lyrics ranging from the middling to the puerile - joke songs, many of them. (Indeed, the lyrics to Weekapaug, Carini, and Sanity are *explicitly* intended as jokes - as is the much more successful My Problem.) In lyrical terms, the most fully-developed song in this second set is Loving Cup (a cover), followed by My Problem Right There. The pervasiveness goofiness of this repertoire, some of it a quarter-century old, extends to the playing in some ways. Mike's Song is all snarling anger, Rock'n'Roll and Carini feature complex jams, Light has that powerful mezzo forte middle section...but the set never quite LANDS, never goes to ground and puts down roots. It just quiets down. And the most intense parts lack the icy-dark edge of Phish's late-90's peak (or its scary 2003-04 reprise).
On the best day of their lives, the Dead could never have put on a show like this. But the reverse is true too. There's a reason so many Trey Ballads - Let Me Lie, Show of Life, Bug, Secret Smile, When the Circus Comes, Mountains in the Mist - serve or have served primarily as piss breaks for so many (admittedly ungenerous) audience members. Some of those are *gorgeous* songs...but Trey can't consistently summon the weariness or earthy authority the music needs. Even songs like Joy often seem to be sung out of the side of the band's mouth - yeah, even that heartfelt song of remembrance. Phish are completely sincere in their emotional outreach, I think, but their vocals often fail to convey the full emotions in the lyric to songs like Rift and Ocelot (never mind Sparkle or Horn!), which in any case are often wrapped in irony and good humour. They flinch just as their hearts are about to break. Alas.
So that's what this show makes me think. 10/22/10 II, like the shows just preceding it, is about as good as modern improvisatory rock gets - but what keeps it from the rarefied realms of an 11/22/97 (or a 10/21/83!) is that its bright light isn't shot through with darkness or cold or loss, needn't work to drive away some creeping nighttime void. It's there to keep everybody up awhile, as if afraid of bad dreams. But Phish's greatest music (so far) was played right at the cliff's edge. I'm happy that so few fell in, but don't you kinda wish for a little of that danger back?
'See here how everything / lead up to this day / and it's just like / any other day / that's ever been / Sun goin up / and then the / sun it going down...Run and see / hey, hey, / run and see...'
Run and see the day, I take him to mean, and the dying, and the dark as well. Phish are true musicians, and they're able to show us just about everything else. But not the dark. Not now. For whatever reason.
Not understanding the middling reviews that this show has received so far. For me, this was the tightest, most uniformly excellent Phish show I've been to in a long, long time. The setlist reads like a slowdown in the action following insane Agusta and Utica shows, but this was some inspired standardness.
The first set contained no exceptional material until a knock down swinging Julius at the end. It was just a high energy rock fest, Disease, Bitch and Roses set the energy to 11 while Fluffhead and Rift were nailed perfectly. Moma dance was fun, a looser spacier version than normal, but Julius set the tone for some inspired jamming the rest of the night.
The Rock 'n Roll -> Carini segment of the show was basically one long ADHD jam, morphing into something different every minute, alternating between high and low energy, type I and type II moments. Rather than zero in on a groove the music just kept changing, but it was so focused, almost as if the entire jam were composed. By the end of it I felt like I had traveled somewhere with the music.
My Problem Right There...nice tune, not great, but fun. Met with a lukewarm reaction but featured a call and response solo section where Trey and Page really ham it up. People were into it by the end.
The highlight of Mike's was the Sanity bustout, not the song proper, but the 3 minutes of inSanity that followed. Sanity ended in a dark vocal jam followed by this pulsating ambient jam that sounded more like Animal Collective than Phish.
Suzy -> Light continued the pattern of this new type jamming. Hard to describe, you just gotta hear it. Character seemed like the closer, and was remarkably un-standard featuring an extended slow-down jam (think Bowie before the ending arpeggio solo). To get a 2001 out of that just blew my mind. Loving Cup and First Tube were solid but unspectacular, a victory lap for a great show.
Don't judge this show by its setlist, this is must listen material. The jamming is the best, most purposful jamming I've seen since Phish 1.0.
All I can say is that I loved this show from the opening bass bombs of DWD to the final echos of first tube. The first three songs of DWD > Funky Bitch > Fluffhead set the stage for a night that was going to be filled with energy and exploration.
RnR > Carini set the bar high for a 2nd set that was filled with tight jams and big songs with Sanity being the most psychedelic moment of 3.0 for me.
Being a Rhode Island gig you could bet that they were going to deliver a Weekapaugh and the Suzy Greenberg was a nice touch and was the launching point to some inspired jamming with the Light > CZ > 2001 run.
I hadn't had the chance to get to a show since the end of 2009. I was actually a bit down on the 2010 tour and just felt like they weren't blowing out many big jams. I should say the playing was sounding much more polished however, but the whale call was just not my cup of tea.
Nevertheless I packed up some clothes and my buddy and I decided to make a weekend of it. We drove the 13 or so hours up from Virginia, stopped in D.C. to pick up another phan friend and made our way to Providence.
It's a town I had spent a fair amount of time in as I've had family there for a long time. It's a really cool spot in my opinion, so I was pumped Phish would be hitting 'the Dunk' or the Civic Center as it was called. I'd seen a bunch of PC Friars games there.
We got to the venue and swung through the Trinity brewing bar for some nice Imperial IPAs and there was a pretty decent Dead cover band playing in a covered tent area. It was an awesome pre-show.
The venue was pretty packed and I remember it feeling pretty hot and swampy (in a high energy sort of way).
When they kick in with Down With Disease to open the first set it bodes pretty well. This one ripped and Trey's solo was really smoking.
Funky Bitch up next was another high energy choice, and showed of similarly strong guitar theatrics.
Fluffhead in the 3 hole - heck yea, Great choice, pretty well played, and the crowd was loving it.
Roses are Free is always welcome and was a great choice for this spot.
Rift was fun and galloped along.
Moma Dance was fitting for the swampy dance vibe inside.
Ocelot was really good for my money. It loped along in a leisurely sort of way and carried that breezy Grateful Dead type of looseness. I was impressed.
NICU, Sample, Julius was a fun run of tunes to end the set. Plenty to sing along to and ample danceability.
Overall Set I: Tons of energy, good song selection kept this flowing and frankly the set seemed to zoom by.
Highlights: Ocelot, Fluffhead
I was really hoping for a heavy improv set II and I thought this show delivered in a pretty good way.
Rock and Roll was an awesome kick off. This version featured some stellar improv of the dark and dirty variety, with Trey's guitarwork towards the end of the jam proving to be pretty awesome.
It wasn't a perfect segue, but Carini was more than welcome. The song was its typical evil self growling and exploding as the crowd erupted. The jam took a turn towards the major key, which was pretty uncommon (although became the trend for many subsequent 3.0 versions). My recollection was actually a springy dancey sort of jam and Trey hit a cool guitar theme that he revisited in the Light later in the set. Page was also holding it down.
Another segue into My Problem Right there emerged out of a spacey end section. They stopped playing this after 2010 I think. This was more of a sing-a-long for everyone, but it felt pretty good after the heavy jams preceding it.
This was a good spot for Mike's. People still holding their breath for a second jam, but a strong in the box version was still plenty dark and fun. I always like the red lights Kuroda kicks into.
Sanity! Awesome choice. This was the best version I have seen. They built this noise jam at the end creating an incredible wall of sound. After a few seconds Mike hits this absolutely bonkers bass line that is just unreal. Seriously just go check that out. Unfortunately the rest of the band resists the urge to pick up on Mike's idea and the noise fizzles out into the familiar Bass of Weekapaug.
We all shared in the Groove and this was another nice spot for something upbeat. Good version if not notable.
Suzy Greenberg was fun and kept the energy riding high.
Light, deep into set II, was really welcome as the song always kicks into a nice jam. This one was a decent version, if not the most groundbreaking. It did find it's way into a nice upbeat groove and Trey was able to locate the same line he was playing during the Carini jam, which was super cool. Overall, some bonus jamming was awesome here.
Character Zero had me thinking end set, but the band had other ideas.
2001 - boom, sweaty swampy funk, energy was glorious.
Loving Cup ripped it's way to the finish line.
Encore: First Tube was it's rocking self. Great send off into the streets of Providence.
Set II: My hopes for a jam heavy set were delivered. A great mix between dark evil stuff and some more upbeat major sections. Overall a set with really incredible energy and strong jams.
Highlights: R&R -> Carini, Sanity, Light
Overall: Great show, and gave me high hopes for the following two nights in Amherst. A comfortable 4/5 and above average.
My 2nd show. It's very possible that this may be the best Phish show I've been to so far. Taking place exactly 4 months after my first show and at the same venue where my mother saw Led Zeppelin 37 years ago. Still very much a noob at this time. DwD, Funky Bitch, NICU, Rock and Roll, Carini, My Problem Right There and Sanity were all songs I had never heard before this night.
Left my house with my friend Shay in the early evening and made the easy 80 minute drive to Providence, dropped 2 tabs in the car, hung out in the garage we parked in and headed in around 7:30. I loved our seats. Section 228 Row K, Seats 6 and 7 (sideview, Fishman side, 11th row back, dead center.) Much more enjoyable perspective than the one I had from the lawn in Mansfield a few months ago. Another thing that made this show so special was the people I was around. So genuinely nice, I wish every fan was like the crowd that I encountered that night. Such good vibes. Now, onto the show review.
I don't even know where to start with the first set. DwD through Ocelot was incredible. A personal highlight for me was going from the extremely energetic (although standard) performance of Rift into the philthy phunk phest that was Moma. Sample provided a little time to breathe and Julius was a great way to end an extraordinary first set.
Intermission was ridiculous, the Dunkin Donuts center needs to separate the food concessions from the beverage concessions. The staff was overwhelmed and it's pretty annoying that it takes 15 minutes just to get two bottles of water when you see people walking away from the counter with chicken fingers, popcorn and pretzels. At least I got to have a nice conversation with a cute hippy girl that was saying that the venue should give out the water for free because there's no way they'd have enough water for everybody and if they gave it away for free people would be more likely to share it. Then I made a comment along the lines of "Yeah I can see the newspaper headlines now 'Thousands die of dehydration at Phish concert'" this girls pupils were huge and in hindsight that might not have been the best thing to say to somebody with a head full of psychedelics but I thought it was funny at the time.
Anywho, 2nd set starts and I'm still in line trying to get water. Get back to my seat during the Rock and Roll jam and everything after that is all good.
This set has a much different vibe to the last, more dark and cryptic jamming. RnR -> Carini? How is that even possible? Then My Problem Right There, a song of deep despair and woe. Yay! Mike's Song! Another song I know! Pretty standard. Tight and a somewhat eerie jam that goes into Sanity. Now this is where things get legitimately scary. At first my feelings are that this is a pretty quirky song musically with somewhat generic but spooky lyrics. Then the vocal jam begins. I notice that everybody around me is standing absolutely motionless. I'm really starting to get freaked out by this (thanks fake acid) and feel like a weight is lifted from my entire body when Mike starts his solo in Weekapaug. Suzy > Light made for a good time. Character Zero was fun but doesn't really stand out in my memory but 2001 was very enjoyable. Great work from CK5 on this number. Projecting UFO shaped lights over the floor while Trey plays the ascending notes. Loving Cup was kinda disappointing because that was the same song to close the 2nd set in Mansfield a few months earlier (and i'm not a big fan of it anyways.) I had the same feelings with the First Tube encore but after listening to the download of the show I noticed that this one was much better due to Trey's new guitar. The tone was much nicer and the feedback he was getting at the end was much more powerful. However, it was still very enjoyable at the time. I mean c'mon, it's First Tube!
Left Providence a very happy man and couldn't wait to do it again in Amherst tomorrow. Unfortunately the "friend" that said he would hook me up with free tickets decided not to answer his phone and I was unable to attend the 1st night due to lack of funds. Oh well, guess it's time to get drunk at my sister's dorm at Westfield State and wait for night 2.
wish there was alittle more improv.in the 1st set...
Rock n'Roll->Carini->My Problem,Mikes->Sanity->Weekapaug was the highlight of the 2nd,followed by standard versions of Suzie,Light,Character Zero,2001,Lovin'Cup.
Enc:First Tube,nothing out of the ordinary ,just a good rocker to leave RI with...
great show , volume could of been higher but the sound was great, Funky Bitch was killer and i loved the new tune my problem right there , Rock & Roll is always a fav of mine and i finally got to hear loving cup which was killer as well , all in all a good show , still have been eluded by Chalk Dust but oh well
show highlights besides the music was the guy in the Slayer shirt that got his leg stuck between the cushion and the back of the seat as he tried to climb down the rows before the show , the guy passed outon the counter area in the bathroom or the guy dressed like a bannana which i saw at MSG last year as well
very, very fun time. Rockfest. Ocelot was out of this world in the first set -- saw plenty of people indifferent toward this in the beginning, but by the end of the jam, everyone was on their feet. Been a long time since I've seen Funky Bitch, & Fluffhead was tight. The second set was simply amazing. Everything way out from left field, saw none of it coming, & every jam was stupendous. Dark & sinister. Jam out of Rock 'n' Roll was reminiscent of Island Tour's Roses Are Free, Carini was twisted, My Problem was funny and upbeat, Mike's was hard & creepy & strange in an awesome way, Sanity was hilarious, Weekapaug was nasty. Page might have stolen the show during Suzy -- seriously amazing piano solo. Light was freakin' fantastic, Character Zero got slow & real, real dirty, 2001 was not long but really spacey, & Lovin' Cup was stormin. They could have played "Wind Beneath My Wings" & it probably would have rocked my socks off. Just awesome.
Very pleased with this show. Highlights for me were DWD, Funky Bitch, Julius, Carini (which I'm not usually into), Suzy Greenberg. I give this show an A, but not an A+ due to a somewhat sloppy Rift, odd placement of MPRT, and a First Tube that never became fully realized (and how could it after that stellar Loving Cup?). Can't wait for what they have in store to come :-)
The first set was like something that I would daydream about at work. I like a lot of the new tunes, but some of the songs that were played in this set gave me a reminder of how I got hooked in the first place. If I had to pick a favorite it would be Fluff>Roses.
Second set was solid. My only problem right here was My Problem Right There. Not a bad song, but not what I look for at a show. Wasn't sure if we would get a Weekapaug to represent the RI locals, but the ended up pulling it out! Suzy was a mid set surprise. I normally associate the tune with a set closer or encore. Loved the way that they pulled Character Zero back together after the jam. 2001 and Loving Cup will probably never grow old on me.
Feels like "The Force" is strong with the guys on this tour!
First set started strong and exponentially picked up energy from Fluff to Momadance. They played a surprisingly funky Julius. Rock and Roll > Carini was a exciting start to the 2nd set. I disagree with the Encore choice but I do not think that the 2.6-5.0 on the rating is telling of the phish experience. I was about 20 rows back on the floor and it was really a upbeat, scene. It seemed like everyone was having a good time. Who knows? I just don't think the 2.6 reflects the show I saw tonight.
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