Tuesday 06/07/2011 by lumpblockclod


Anticipation could not have been higher heading into Phish's 6/4/11 show at the Blossom Music Center. The night before in Clarkston they had raised the bar for the tour (and, arguably, 3.0) with one of their strongest start-to-finish sets in recent memory. Was that going to be the new "normal" or just a fortunate aberration?

After the first set, the jury was still out. The set included a little bit of everything: well played versions of composed numbers like "Guyute" and Foam," energetic versions of rockers "Kill Devil Falls" and "Antelope," a return to the Little Feat catalog with "Rocket In My Pocket," and even the aural monstrosity that is "Fuck Your Face." Still, while everything was played well, they never really left the confines of any single song.

That all changed in Set II. The set opened with the first "Birds" of 2011. "Birds" has become something of a rarity these days, so expectations were high for a second set opening version. Alas, it was a pretty ordinary performance. When the band dropped into "Possum," many fans probably groaned (to themselves, anyway). Perhaps no song has been as overplayed in recent years without really going anywhere interesting as "Possum." of course, in true Phish fashion, the band responded with probably the most interesting and creative version of "Possum" since the mid-'90s.

The ashes of "Possum" melted into the first original debut of 2011 with "Steam." The new Anastasio/Marshall composition with lyrics that recall the Game of Thrones book/TV series (or so I'm told) and a steamy cymbal effect from Fish, "Steam" may have more jamming potential than any new song since "Light." A brief "Piper" followed which segued into the now-rare "Lizards."

What followed will be known in Phish lore as When Harry Met Sally and is a simply outstanding 30 minutes of music. The "Sally" jam is sublime. All four band members are locked in and the result is a truly unique, must-hear jam. "Sally" melted into a "Harry" -> "Have Mercy" -> "Hood" that is simply majestic. Trey wove the "Have Mercy" theme throughout the "Hood" jam finishing off a set that is among the best of 3.0. I prefer the previous night's second set somewhat, but which one you like better probably depends more on the style of set you prefer. The fact that the "Slave" encore is reduced to near-footnote status speaks to its greatness. If I'm giving a rating to this show it's probably a 7.0, a notch above Bethel2 earned almost entirely on the basis of the second set. But seriously, ignore the number. The important part is that the second sets from Pine Knob and Blossom are the two best sets if 2011 IMO and would hold up in any era of Phish.

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, comment by Frankster
Frankster Totally agree with your assessment. The first set was solid practice fodder for both band and fans. I am starting to dig KDF and this version was a great way to kickoff the show. Once again BOTT continues to impress me more and more. I remember hearing this song 9 times in the summer of 99' and thinking "this blows". The 3.0 versions have become a blast to listen to. The tube> Antelope sequence to finish off the set gave us a glimpse of the things to come.

I love Birds but unfortunately this one didn't get "out" there. Oh well its nice to know that it's back in rotation. Steam is an amazing song. Cool beat, twisted lyrics and a platfrom for intergalactic space travel. LOVE IT! Salley was the best version I've heard since fall of 99' although I'm still not a fan of the vocal scat jam. Hood was a monster throw in a Have Mercey and you have one of the all time greats. Slave encore is just the cherry on top!

Amazing second set! Who knew what was on deck for the next night? I sure didn't!
, comment by dbbsub
dbbsub Totally agree.

And grateful props for still referring to it as Pine Knob and not DTE Energy Music Theater. We here in MI still call it the Knob as well.
, comment by DollarBill
DollarBill I don't agree.

First set had a better Ocelot than last year's Blossom show, the second ever Rocket in my Pocket, which was super tight. In fact, the whole back end of first set was excellent. Guelah was the best I've heard in a while, Page almost bit me on that Hammond, and then Tube! Page tore up Tube on the Clavinet, and then an Antelope to close? Good grief!!! If that's just average for you, then you are more of a jaded old timer than I am.

I've been to all five Blossom shows since 1992 and this was by far the best one, although I would love another Spock's Brain.

Just my opinion...
, comment by GitDown
GitDown 'well played versions of composed numbers like "Guyute"'

Listen again. This is painfully inaccurate, at least until the jig section.
, comment by amoog531
amoog531 yah, i loved the show, but I gotta say guyute was somewhat botched
, comment by whrdina
whrdina Saw this show Sat. Had a great time- hadn't been to Blossom since 95- its a great venue. I'm listening back to the tube now- it really is quite smokin'- there's something about Tube and Ohio (12/7/97) I agree with Mr. DollarBill.
Also, speaking of old timers- I think the lagging tix sales I've been reading about on boards are largely explained by one thing- the crowd is getting older- I'm 36 and I didn't feel like the old guy at the show. And the kids aren't catching on in the #s they did before the hiatus/breakup. Every show I've seen since the reunion have been awesome- energetic- old school shows. (Does anyone out there remember Fall 97- I wrote a whole novel listening to just that tour) But they lost a lot of people back in 2004. I'm enjoying the lag. The boys ain't broke- and I remember what happened to the Dead- we don't want that either.
, comment by lumpblockclod
lumpblockclod @GitDown You're probably right about the Guyute. I listened to the second set again the next morning in the airport, but still haven't relistened to the first set and was going by memory.
, comment by ADAWGWYO
ADAWGWYO Thoroughly enjoyed the first set. Second set started slow but after Possum was tits
, comment by AXillA95
AXillA95 best lizard in 3.0 did you not like it? you skip right over it like oh they played "lizard" did not miss a note
, comment by distrass
distrass Really loved Steam!!!
, comment by alpernda
alpernda I'll have to give it another listen, but that Character was the ABSOLUTE HARDEST that I've been rocked by any band ever. It seems like Trey can't always keep pace in the rockers as much these days but to me, that was the highlight of the show. I damn near collapsed from groove exhaustion before the "Possum jam reprise" gave me a breather.
, comment by bobmysterious
bobmysterious That second set was just plain rocking. Steam has to be one of the best new songs since 46 days or even Sand (IMO). Dark, groovy...not what I would expect from a new Tom/Trey song.
(Not sure what a steamy cymbol effect is...pretty sure that was Page).
, comment by MongoNugget
MongoNugget One thing you I have not seen pointed out yet is the very large number of animals mentioned throughout the night Starting with Guyute and ending with The Lizards and including everything from tigers and rhino's in Tube to Antelope and the red red worm of Piper to mention a few. The band then closed it all up for with a city zoo for the animals to live in via Slave. There was alot more thought put into this set than most people realized. It is nice to see them having fun with such things again. You can see this attitude in the chances that are being taken. The night for me was beautiful and will be remembered often. Have a great time at the rest of the shows and safe travels!!
, comment by DollarBill
DollarBill @bobmysterious said:
That second set was just plain rocking. Steam has to be one of the best new songs since 46 days or even Sand (IMO). Dark, groovy...not what I would expect from a new Tom/Trey song. (Not sure what a steamy cymbol effect is...pretty sure that was Page).
It's called a china boy cymbal and Fishman has at least one on his kit. I have a 20 inch Zidjian china on my kit.
, comment by Dressed_In_Gray
Dressed_In_Gray When Harry Met Sally, indeed. This was a magnificent surprise after the impressiveness that was Pine Knob. I was expecting a letdown, but this show was huge.

Since you mention the Dead, it stuck me hearing it that Steam is Phish's 'West LA Fadeaway'.

And I'm glad there are still cheap lawn seats available. If there hadn't been, I wouldn't have seen my bro that was just passing through Cinci the next night on job purposes.

6/3 and 6/4 were truly a reawakening for them.
, comment by john221
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