Thursday 07/04/2013 by Icculus


PHISH began their 30th Anniversary year by opening their Summer Tour with a three hour show for over 16,000 people on a muddy field in Bangor, Maine. Fortunately for attendees, the thunderstorm never came, and the gorgeous weather, with its blue sky and cool, periodic breeze, accompanied the music quite well, as the mighty Penobscot River flowed adjacent to the venue, stage right. Most of the songs performed were debuted by the band before 1996, giving the show a profoundly retrospective (if not nostalgic) flavor, a flavor only enhanced by a “Golden Age” second set opener and an excellent performance of “Backwards Down The Number Line.”

Fans who arrived well before gates were treated to a sound check (arguably a rehearsal) of over an hour that was easy to hear even a quarter-mile away from the stage. Importantly, it featured an impressive jam for over 15 minutes that many hope will one day circulate, as well as a funky instrumental song performed start to finish (this could be a new song), and a reggae tune sung by Mike with lyrics that referred to bees and honeycombs (possibly a new song as well).

You may have heard by now that the stage set-up for this tour is different from that of recent years. Fish is now in the middle (center), and so for this tour, be wary of telling someone you intend to be “Fish-side” at a show, because that technically no longer exists. Mike is still stage left (audience right), Trey is still off-center, and Page is still rage-side. The lights also appear to be new, and incredible. And the sound? The sound in Bangor last night was also amazing, and this may be due to there being an analog component to the mix. I don’t know, but I love it. Phish continues to do their best to ensure that one’s overall experience of their live concerts is A+, and I cannot thank them enough for this.

True, Bangor’s first set looks rather plain on paper. It is made up entirely of songs that debuted in or before the Voters for Choice Benefit show in May 1995. An old college friend of mine, a Mainer who had not seen Phish since Lemonwheel, attended last night’s show, and really enjoyed the first set precisely because it was so old school. All of the songs were very familiar to him, and of course he wasn’t alone. These songs are among Phish’s most well-known and greatly appreciated. They were largely executed well, even though Trey heavily employed his Digitech Whammy pitch shifter (or whatever the device is that he uses to shift the pitch of his notes), reminiscent of his playing in 2009 in particular.

Of note, “Stash” had a melodically fragile jam that Mike contributed to most prominently, and “Wolfman’s,” “Theme,” “Chalk Dust,” “Mike’s” and “Weekapaug” all had good jam segments, but like the smell of manure that periodically arose from the mud and wafted on the breeze, the set was not without flaws. For example, “Rift” and “Silent in the Morning” are very challenging to play, and Trey did not play them as well as he typically does. The first set was nevertheless very generous, at an hour and a half long, and right after it ended, some fans handed Trey what appeared to be an enormous, over-sized greeting card, I assume a 30th Anniversary card, that Trey then carried with him off stage with an equally enormous, over-sized smile on his face. This generous act made me proud to be a fan, so huge kudos to those responsible for this! It was easily a highlight of the show.

If “Golden Age” doesn’t get you moving, then what does? It is a wonderful cover and it opened the second set fiercely. Page clearly teased “Manteca” a few times during the beginning of the jam (listen to the LivePhish track at 7:00-7:04 and 7:10-7:12) and, eventually, he even employed the moog to mooglicious effect. Although “Twist” was through the motions, “BDTNL” had a demonstrably above-average solo from Trey, and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. This is a “must hear” version for fans of this song.

Mike nailed Phil Lesh’s tone during “Ocelot” so much so that "Ocelot's" striking resemblance to “Tennessee Jed” was even more prominent than usual. This was a powerful version of the song, befitting its second set placement. It was followed by a “Rock and Roll” that began in its traditionally rockin’ fashion, but then dissolved into a spacey, haphazard jam that segued unsurprisingly into a perfunctory, yet still awesome, “2001.” The “Antelope” set closer featured strong playing from the band and, like the beautiful “Harry Hood” encore that followed it, augurs well for this tour. So don't miss Phish this summer, and have a safe and happy fourth of July!

Author’s Post-Script: I have been largely awake for two days and wrote this in Portland’s airport between 3-430am post-show, so please cut me some slack. I have to catch a 530am to ORD.

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, comment by Doctor_Smarty
Doctor_Smarty Heady Topper is overrated
, comment by good_ants
good_ants No need for slack, Icc. You got it! But don't forget the beautifully positive buzz of the 16g+ at the show! Wow, what a great collection of energy and anticipation and yes, joy in Bangor last night. Loved the opener and pumped for SPAC...
, comment by mellifluouslife
mellifluouslife I'm loving the tour-opening review a mere hours after the last note rang out. Drinking my morning coffee and reading this is a great way to start 4th of July weekend.

Is this going to be a new feature on .net for every show this summer? Talk about jiffy service...
, comment by phootyjon
phootyjon thank you for you diligence; writing at 4am sucks. good review; good mellow show and well played for the most part.
, comment by phootyjon
phootyjon @phootyjon said:
thank you for your diligence; writing at 4am sucks. good review; good mellow show and well played for the most part.
, comment by ZappaTull
ZappaTull Great Review.
FACTSAREUSELESS Nice job, Icculus. Your warm affection for the event and the band is clear between the lines and I thought your review was both balanced and in the spirit of a true fan.
Thanks. Sure beats the hell out of the morons on livephish, too!
, comment by whatstheuse324
whatstheuse324 I bet we hear some of those potential new tunes from the sound check get busted out at SPAC.
, comment by spencer
spencer good review and thanks for getting it up so quick! Now time for a listen~
, comment by BradMaryland
BradMaryland The lawn scene by the water before the show was great! The sound check could be heard then a Red Bull truck latter started jamming the Grateful Dead Chanel and it couldn't have be more peaceful. The show was spot on.
, comment by fluffhead108
fluffhead108 Glad to see I wasn't the only one who this #Line was unexpectedly beautiful.
, comment by Bradford33
Bradford33 Thanks for the great review! Really looking forward to this tour, hoping to see some momentum off the Dick's run last year. Happy Anniversary Boys!
, comment by andrewrose
andrewrose Surprise no mention oh how far out the Antelope went! I had a blast. Soundcheck jam was my highlight though! Not to take anything away from the Golden Age or Antelope..
, comment by Riftkane
Riftkane Headed to SPAC as we speak. Awesome to read this review. Thank you for posting so quickly. I got goosebumps thinking about what this 3 day run will bring. First time for me at SPAC. Happy July 4th to all. Safe traveling
, comment by Devious_Jelen
Devious_Jelen @FACTSAREUSELESS said:
Nice job, Icculus. Your warm affection for the event and the band is clear between the lines and I thought your review was both balanced and in the spirit of a true fan.
Thanks. Sure beats the hell out of the morons on livephish, too!
Well said. And I second that. We all recognize that every single show isn't going to be the best show ever. But I really don't like seeing all the negativity that pops up on PT and elsewhere crapping on every show that doesn't reach "best ever" status. The "worst" Phish show I ever saw was still a freakin' blast.

Thanks again, Icculus. Can't wait for the Gorge!
, comment by captsensible
captsensible SPAC will be even better with three in a row!
, comment by bryontreece
bryontreece Thanks for such a well written non-hyperbolic review. Quite refreshing.
, comment by bertoletdown
bertoletdown @bryontreece said:
Thanks for such a well written non-hyperbolic review. Quite refreshing.
Agreed. And it's all the more impressive when you realize OP is completely deaf.
, comment by InsectEffect
Great start to the tour for too -- love waking up to a recap! Thanks and keep um coming!

, comment by binky73069
binky73069 Absolutely love seeing the recap when I wake up in the morning. Thanks guys!
, comment by nolasox
nolasox Great write up and spot-on, imo. In particularly the comments regarding the sound. I was standing to the left of the soundboard facing the stage, and I can't remember the last show with such perfect sound quality. Although it was an average-great Phish show I enjoyed it considerably more than most average-great shows because of the sound. Each instrument was incredibly clear.

Overall, I thought the band played with great patience and really let the music breathe. In particular Trey did a nice job of picking his spot and sitting back a bit.

I'd say Antelope was the highlight (and it's not usually my first pick of songs) ...
, comment by Mcbuckeye45
Mcbuckeye45 Peakin! Review fits the post show replay. 3 - night couch tour via patio projector will be the next test. Hopefully some new fresh phunky reggaeish vibes this weekend!
, comment by makisupaman
makisupaman It appears last night's Golden Age eclipsed the @ 2012-12-29 rendition for longest to date, clocking in at 14:44. Very encouraged by the opener, and it stands to reason that, once the road exerts its loosening force on things, we should be in for nothing short of a Year 30 in full regal glory. Traditionally, pearls or diamonds are associated, in the West, with a thirtieth anniversary. Shine on, you crazy diamond(s)!
, comment by pronice
pronice I missed the sound check...PLEASE tell me there is way to listen to this! PLEASE!!!!!
Oh, and the show was fantastic IMO. Loved Golden Age 2nd set opener. Antelope was balls out dope!
, comment by Postage_Delivery_Bird
Postage_Delivery_Bird Had a great time last night! I thought the venue was pretty awesome (despite the mud) and I was digging all the 'classics' from the first set. Here's to hoping the boys bring it (as usual) to SPAC!
, comment by funkbeard
funkbeard The return to Bangor with no follow up Tweezer. No problem.

There is much to appreciate about this show. Trey's vocabulary has expanded again. Page is dead on. Mike kickin' ass. Fishman. Talk about Fishman! Sounds like he's revamped his entire rhythmic approach, phrasing the groove, rather than just rockin' the beat. Gives the band an even finer bed to groove on. I think, for that reason, elements of last night were a little less tight, but I also hear a potentially tighter band, with a more interesting and engaging flow. Just listen to that Runaway Jim and try to tell me that you don't hear it.

Also, CK's light rig now has a greater simplicity and depth. Vertical, horizontal, layered, and that fine backdrop. He's accomplishing so much more with less noise, and a hell of a lot more character.

As the band warms up, it will be clear that this is a band moving forward towards an even finer quality standard. Also, dig how songs like Weekapaug have new "Hey" like games in full effect. The band has definitely been practicing and enjoying the process once again. This is gonna be a great tour!
, comment by Spirit
Spirit numberline was the shit, always a beautiful jam and this one in particular was very nice.
, comment by Shukky
Shukky I have a new found respect for numberline now. I always enjoyed it but never really loved it.
, comment by TwiceBitten
TwiceBitten From another thread

Soundcheck audio segment

Soundcheck video segment:

, comment by TwiceBitten
TwiceBitten Soundcheck: Blues Jam, Corona, Funky Instrumental, Unknown Reggae-themed song (Mike vocals), Frost, My Soul, Jam (15+min)
, comment by gratefuldad1023
gratefuldad1023 This was a great show. The best part it was in my home town so my wife and I could enjoy the whole experience. The new stage setup is cool and the sound style of the band is different than past tours, maybe that's why so many people didn't like the show. I don't agree with them at all and the fact that the city of Bangor normally has a 10:30 curfew and phish played until 11:30 should be enough for people to thank them for at least that. Yes the show did seem a bit short with not a lot of jamming, but look how many songs they played, rather than just a few songs per set they played 11 and 9 songs in each set. New stage setup, new tour, and maybe a new playlist style.
Everybody just needs to be thankful and extremly grateful for the 30+ years of great music we are getting.
, comment by uctweezer
uctweezer Thanks for the write-up Charlie, your hard work is always much appreciated by us all! I'm vacationing wih the family till Sunday so I haven't had a chance yet to listen but I look forward to having some new Phish to hear next week! One point / question, that could just be a result of you writing the review on no sleep: wasn't it leg 1 of Summer 2010 that Trey started abusing the DigiTech Whammy II? I don't recall hearing it too much in the six shows I saw in '09, but I do remember the guy with the "NO MORE WHAMMY / I LOVE YOU TREY" sign at the Greek in 2010, and besides an awful "whale call"-filled Gin, that run had some wonderful tone and playing from Trey in the debut of the Ocedoc. I don't hate the pitch shifter, but I can't stand it being abused instead of being used here and there when appropriate.
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