Sunday 06/19/2011 by jugglerswithfire


By Elayne Best (@jugglerswithfire)

Seeing Phish at Walnut Creek Amphitheater has been like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re going to get. Historically, shows have ranged from spectacular (7/22/97) to uninspired (6/25/00). So what would we get on 6/18/11? The night before was a standout in performance for this summer tour. How would they respond in a venue with as mixed quality of performances such as Walnut Creek?

Pre-show, the weather was incredibly hot, and a thunderstorm warning was in effect. The storm went around us and it rained just slightly. It was kind of perfect, just enough to cool the temperature down a few degrees and create a nice southern evening breeze.

Phish came out and started the show with a smoking “Cars Trucks Buses,” which had not been played since 8/12/10. This was an enjoyable opener, and I was happy to be in Page’s House. Next came a first timer for me in 147 shows, “Peaches en Regalia.” It was a lot of fun to hear, although it was not performed flawlessly. It was interesting that Phish had chosen consecutive instrumentals to kick start the show. The energy in the crowd and the band was high. When “AC/DC Bag” began, the energy only elevated. Listen to Mike during this “Bag.” The energy slowed a bit as Phish began “Guyute,” but continued to build into the frenzied ending of the song.

We were next treated to Phish’s seemingly favorite song to play in the 3.0 era, a standard “Possum.” Then came fan favorite “Halley's Comet.” The first thoughts when “Halley’s” starts these days is will it be jammed or will the cord be pulled? Although I could have enjoyed this “Halley’s” for much longer, Trey rips right into a strong rocking type I version of “46 Days.”

As only appropriate looking at the night sky, “Divided Sky” began. The band then launched into a soulful version of “Curtis Loew.” As usual, the Phish did great justice to this cover, and it was indeed one of the highlights of the evening. A standard version of “Antelope” closed the first set.

Second set began with a good short version of “Twist,” which really had strong potential to go exploratory, but was launched into “Rift.” “Prince Caspian.” a song that I’m normally not fond of, has a very exploratory outro as a beautiful rendition of “Esther” awaited on the other side.

Was it due to a sign for the next song? After much band debate, Trey calls for Brian Brown who sets up for what is to come, and gets a shout out from the crowd. A small banter about Mike Gordon’s bell, he can ring his bell, ring his bell, ensues. Then the stage banter ended and the venue exploded with energy as “Been Caught Stealing” erupted.

A short yet exploratory funky “Piper” > “My Friend My Friend” > “Kill Devil Falls” followed. A song I had wanted to see, “Split Open and Melt” came next. The psychedelic type-II “Melt” was quite dark and enjoyable, although I felt like it never got to where it needed to go. I’m sure to be finished later, like at Superball IX.

The end of the second set included another seemingly favorite of the band’s, “Golgi Apparatus” and the crowd energizing “First Tube.” The show encored with a standard 3.0 version of “Good Times Bad Times

Verdict? Following a show like Charlotte is tough, but there were definitely a few good chocolates in this box.

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, comment by GottaJiballer
GottaJiballer Pretty dead on. I feel the First Tube closer deserves a little more credit. Very Type I but very strong Type I, much like the 46 Days in the first set. Highlights were definitely Curtis Loew, Been Caught Stealing, and SOaM. Hard to follow Charlotte, but a valiant effort nonetheless.
, comment by tendernip
tendernip May have been jaded by the seats i lucked into, but i believe First Tube redeemed the show.
, comment by bertoletdown
bertoletdown A strong Split Open and Melt is a compelling story all by itself these days. Can't wait to hear this. Thanks for the review.
, comment by Babyrattlesnakes
Babyrattlesnakes How is Golgi "seemingly" a "favorite"? Only the second one of the tour... Nice review otherwise.
, comment by jugglerswithfire
jugglerswithfire @donatello- you are correct, I haven't seen too many shows this summer, but it was played 12 times last year and I think I happened to be present for most of them :) . So it just seems like it is a favorite
, comment by kingphish68
kingphish68 I was at this show and would agree with the review. Solid show, couple of nice jems! Any Phish is better than NO Phish! :-)
, comment by Ernesto_Wan_Kenobi
Ernesto_Wan_Kenobi This is the second review in a row that does not desperately lament the passage of the year nineteen-ninety-(fill in digit between 3 and 7 here)! :) Thanks for posting.
, comment by pzerbo
pzerbo @Ernesto_Wan_Kenobi said:
This is the second review in a row that does not desperately lament the passage of the year nineteen-ninety-(fill in digit between 3 and 7 here)! :) Thanks for posting.
I'll send you a dollar for every staff-posted blog recap that actually says anything of the sort. Your straw-man projection onto the recaps with which you do not agree doesn't count... you have to support your assertions with actual evidence. Ready? Go.

Wait, you are just lashing out at a group of people with absolutely no basis in fact? Well then nevermind.
, comment by Sprachtor
Sprachtor @bertoletdown said:
A strong Split Open and Melt is a compelling story all by itself these days. Can't wait to hear this. Thanks for the review.
Yes. Very sad to me.
, comment by joechip
joechip Both Splits from this leg of tour were strong, the second one especially. Let's hope it goes into a shorter rotation.
, comment by mccordo
mccordo I felt like it was a very good show overall. 46 Days, Curtis and SOaM were stand-out in my book and the CTB / Peaches opener was a great way to get underway. It was my first this tour, though, so I don't have a whole lot of recent shows to compare it to.
, comment by jackl
jackl @jugglerswithfire

Good review, Elaine...felt like I was there. Looking forward to seeing you soon at SBIX!
, comment by mgouker
mgouker Great review, Elaine. I left a bit unsatisfied, but probably would have been much more pleased if Charlotte had not set the bar so high.
, comment by kowphish
kowphish Have to admit, I thought this show was much worse than the review suggested when I first read it, but then I went back to (re)listen to it and it is much closer as how Elaine writes it up (with a good sense of evenness, a good ear and a better judge of the shows true vibe). Post show I was ready to jump on it somewhat bad, but with the 72 hour rule and a listen of the download has me mellowed quite a bit on it. Sure not the best of versions of Peaches and I personally still can't through the meandering heavy finger solo in Esther which makes me cringe. But the energy is true for the CTB opener, carried in AC/DC Bag and with the Guyute ending, spot on with those 3 songs. At the time I thought the Comet -> 46 transition was a train wreck, but it's much shorter and a mere > than a real bad -> . Had a bad impression of Divided, but it too is not was I perceived. Sweet Southern version of Curtis Loew (soulful for sure), now that's a song you want to hear in the Carolinas! Antelope was good enough, and the Melt, dark space jam definitely is the highlight of the show (and a tour highlight as well). I do still think Fish had an off night overall, somewhat disjointed at times and lacking his usual oomph (possibly feeling a bit drained after the Charlotte antics maybe?), but this is just one other person's opinion of the show, overall tough to beat Charlotte the night before for sure, but a solid average two sets of Phish with even some filbert or coconut filling in those chocolates.
, comment by jugglerswithfire
jugglerswithfire @kowphish, Trust me I know. If I had written the review based on when I left the show without re-listening, it would have been much different. Upon re-listening it wasn't as meh as I thought at the time. Something to write home about, no, oh wait I had to :)
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