IT never gets old. Nothing quite like the thrill of a tour opener before its opening notes. What will they play first? Will it be a debut? An original? A cover? Will it jam in a style complementary of the summer’s highlights? How will the set go?!? Will it simply continue their rehearsal, their soundcheck!? Will it hint at the album to be covered in AC on Halloween? Simply put, will the tour begin with music as equally legendary, and historic, as the Coliseum? As Phish?
(Photograph by Erik Axdahl)
Tour openers almost never match the pre-show enthusiasm. (But see 11/13/97.) There’s a whole tour yet to be played, after all.
And if you’re the fan who only cares about very well-played, "must-hear" Phish, get the “Carini” from this show. As explained in greater detail below, “Carini” is worth multiple listenings, and will likely even earn Phish new fans. It is also sufficiently powerful to move a demonstrably below-average show into slightly above-average territory. (Think of a show that’s looking like a 4/10 on the “Scott Jordan Concert Review Poll Scale,” but then, after a magnificent jam that you know you’ll be listening to for years, launches the show smoothly into above “average-great” territory.)
That said, the first set opened up quite well with versions of “Wolfman’s” and “Runaway Jim” that soared into the… whatever. You can just download or stream them when they're available if you haven’t heard them. They will take you less than 20 minutes to listen to. It’s not like in the 1990's when you had to find someone who would dub for you, buy 90 and/or 100 minute Blanks to cover both sets plus (E), procure return Postage and a (non-lint-filled, bubble) mailer, and then mail the “B&P”… and wait a wholly indeterminable amount of time, possibly months, to receive the dubbed tapes (if you were lucky enough to receive them) in order to listen to the music. "The good 'ole days."
Suffice it to say that Fall Tour opened well, and in certainly a more compelling manner than the Summer Tour did in Bangor on July 3 (“Possum,” “Runaway Jim”). And while the “Stash” and “Ocelot” in this Hampton1 first set are already overrated (“Ocelot” has been hot all year, and Trey continues to bring the heat in this version), the first set ended impressively with “Walls of the Cave.” Even if you ordinarily and customarily dislike first sets, this one has much to like.
Second set opened up in a weirdly subtle way with “Twist” (the first time it had opened the second set in years), and it’s a beautiful version. It’s jam eventually undertook overtones (not teases) of “Shine On You Crazy Diamond” and “Obscured By Clouds.” Yes, it’s that good, though admittedly, it’s not as good as either live or studio versions of “Shine On You Crazy Diamond,” and “Obscured By Clouds.”
“Free” featured Mike slaying-It, as he always does, even though it’s an otherwise imperfect version. (Mike’s tone has never sounded better—he is going to continue to be a superhero.) “Roggae” isn’t all that pretty in its composed section, but the jam is wonderful. It is a gem to be sure. All fans of this song should hear this version (and if you disliked it, you’re not a “Roggae” fan… and that’s ok).
The highlight of the show by far, and what I hope is a harbinger of immortal improvisation to come in the next few weeks, is the “Carini.” The opening composed section is not a load of shit, but it is pretty loose, in that you might need to wipe some walrus off your face after listening to it. The jam segment, on the other hand, is a masterpiece. IT is why we all spend substantial time and money trying to see Phish at every possible opportunity. (And, by the way, where were you people? You couldn’t GIVE tickets away outside. No one was looking, not even for a miracle (NO ONE!), and seemingly everyone had extras.)
The “Carini” at this show, akin to the “Tahoe Tweezer,” reached transcendent peaks, bespeaking “HOSE” of the rarest caliber. It is the longest version since its debut. This is improvisation that sounds like melodious, composed music (not like “improvisation” at all), and there are subtleties in the glorious themes that comprise this version that will inspire repeated listenings. Do you hear hints of “Alive Again” in the final four minutes, and the ending of “Twist” in the final minute or so? (You're not alone.) This spectacular “Carini” more than made up for the shit-ton of songs in this show that you’ve heard before, that you will hear again, and that are unlikely to change in any appreciable way at all, making them the last things you want to hear after having spent hundreds of dollars and many hours traveling to see and hear Phish. But I don’t mean this in a bad way.
Perhaps you’re hoping that Phish will perform this fall in a way that is sufficiently powerful, and soulful, to justify the crowds, the smoke, the lines for the bathroom, the spilled beer, the spilled beer on you—and your loved ones. Well, you’re right to be hopeful. Hampton1's “Carini” made it clear beyond any reasonable doubt that Phish is going to continue their pioneering spirit, and compose and create in a genuinely gorgeous way.
Phish reunited and began performing together again in March 2009 in Hampton. This was a blessing. And it is even more of a blessing that we’re all back in Hampton again, more than four years later, enjoying Phish’s music for another set of shows. If for any reason you’re on the fence about seeing Phish this fall, remember one thing: fences will only support you for so long, and when they give, you’re in the dirt on your ass.
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I agree with your synopsis of the 2nd set completely, however.
Really? Who the hell doesn't like first sets? They should go home.
So, let me get this straight: once deemed "a reviewer," one should only write brainless praise of every show, critical evaluation is not acceptable, and, oh yeah, every show must be above average. Is that the assertion?
If you want a fair review of a show in context of other Phish shows, come to Phish.net. If you just want mutual masturbation and to leave with the idea that every show is "Must see! that was the coming of Phish 4.0!", look elsewhere. Plenty of blogs will only shower praise on every performance.
Incidentally, I think this review seems generous, given the thick marshmallow spread over Carini, which practically dubs it immortal. And we're one night into tour.
Can't wait to relisten.
Great recap, spot on.
::review is even slightly critical of show, reviewer was not in attendance::
"How can you review a show if you weren't there?!?! You're doing it wrong!"
::review is even slightly critical of show, reviewer was in attendance::
"You're just doing it wrong!! You should stay home!!"
Now I enjoyed the shit out of the Carini jam, don't get me wrong, but it wasn't strikingly original, just a great rock jam. Sounded like a jam on Walk Away most of the time to me, which is a hell of a lot more awesome than the song Walk Away. What was really interesting was that they refused to actually segue into it. That and a solidly impressive commitment to the jam are really good signs for a tour opener. Light years better than Bangor, to my ears.
So, dark as dark can be Twist, beautiful crystalline spiraling Roggae, flat out unrelenting rock jam--all in the opener. So this was a win for Phish. But it's not the best show (or even opener) of 3.0 nor are those jams the best jams of those songs in 3.0. There's enough there to come back to but otherwise things are pretty average the rest of the way. And there's nothing wrong with that, and there's nothing wrong with saying that in a review. Seriously, it says more about you when you bash the reviewer (cough cough phish insecurities cough) for not giving you an 80's Yugoslavian newspaper op-ed piece on how great things are NO QUESTIONS EVERY SHOW HAS NO LOW POINTS NO DISSENT!!
Spot-on. I've been saying this since last year. What they're reaching for is not just groove-oriented improv, but true on-the-fly composition. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't, which leads to the so-called abortions when they're not feeling it.
3.0 has more rough edges than 1.0, sure, but it also has moments like last night's Carini or the BGCA Jim where they're creating songs within songs out of thin air that exist on their own terms for a brief moment in time and then are gone. This alone has me more interested in Phish than I've been since '99.
i haven't heard the show and have nothing else to add here.
Lookin forward to tonight...I love 3.noob streams
The Bangor show was a great show. My only point is that it's counterproductive to denigrate one show just to lift up another. That's not consstructive, it's polarizing. So, in summary, you're missing it.
BTW you're wrong. I love this forum and I think it's awesome. But it's not the only place to get honest and fair reviews. I thought the review on JamBase was excellent for this show, and unbiased, and more accurate.
They are also, it seems to me, at least occasionally striving for a sort of 'warp speeding' many-song and mini-jam flow, where the 'on the fly comp' happens quickly rather than in midst of extensively developed 'big jams.' This doesn't always work, of course, but when it does it can be pretty awesome. 8/17/2011 ii immediately comes to mind.
its completely ass-i-nine as well..
the bangor show was ill as hell all the haters get over it
and ive been seeing the phish since amy's in 91'
and if the dude showed up this tour im sure they'd make a comment about how he sounds better than @ amy's or something to that effect..
people hate maine&maine hates u..!!!
eat it, wutang bitch!!
Tonight's show kicked the living shit out of the first night. Just my opinion though.
Nor am I insecure about my Phishiness as was claimed by AlbanyYEM. There is a great deal of "wagon-circling" going on here, as was correctly stated by waxbanks. This is what I was trying to address.
There is a certain "insiders" slant that bleeds through many of the reviews, as though the reviewers are more concerned with writing in such a way that their peers will deem appropriate. The tone on the forum often smacks of ivy league elitism. I know, I know, it's not what y'all are trying to do, but if sounds like that, and more importantly it feels like that. I have been a Phan for a very long time, yet I had a long stretch of time where I didn't go to shows and had no regular internet access. I discovered this site only a couple of years ago and I felt like a kid who just discovered a secret closet full of chocolate bars. I was excited to share my love of the band and its music.
Soon, though, I found that certain opinions were taboo and could not be expressed without being accused of being a noob (a term I never heard before, not even when I followed the Dead around in the 80's).
This is a great site but I hope (and I'm speaking to the regular on the compendium) you realize that you collectively come across as a bunch of pipe-smoking club members who must be given due credence before one can be allowed access to the room. It's a bit nauseating, honestly.
I still greatly enjoy the reviews. I was not trying to rip on Icculus. I thought his review was generally very good and I have nothing negative to say about it, except that the general penchant to make negative, snide remarks about other shows in this sort of "insider-opinion" manner is both distracting and unproductive.
There is a disturbing element in the Phish community that seems to guard with all diligence the memories of the old days. You bristle as soon as someone who isn't in your pipe-smoking fraternity claims that something is "epic" if it wasn't pre-approved as being so by your clan.
Two things on that....some people are really not very good at writing and lack a variety of adjectives at their disposal and when they are excited or appreciative of what they hear they use words like "epic". Lay off. Let them be excited and stop accusing them of being no-nothing noobs everytime someone breaks "code" and gets excited before your give them your permission.
Secondly, STOP BEING SO FREAKING DEFENSIVE OF EACH OTHER. I'm sorry if my comments towards Icculus were offensive. I wasn't trying to be offensive. But this entire thread lauched under the presupposition that one of your own was being attacked. It's juvenile. Take the time to actually read and think about what's really being said before reacting like your eight on the playground. Really. I'll, for my part, try not to be so snarky. How's that?
You simultaneously try to apologize for coming off as snarky while calling people who responded to your snark juvenile, pipe-smoking, ivy league elitists. You scream that everyone should stop being so defensive while flipping out about how you've been attacked. You say that it's a great site, but that the attitude of many here is "nauseating." And, speaking of defensive, you responded to benign comparison of this show to one you happen to love as if you, personally, were being attacked.
If you thought Bangor was unfairly slighted, then defend Bangor. But don't turn it into a meta-discussion of what's wrong with the reviewer, the site, the community, blah blah blah.
Let me go back and read the Bangor comment...nope, nothing there about people who loved the show being ignorant n00bs. Not even a hint. That's an imagined insult. Seems like people who complain that "jaded vets" are ruining other people's fun are just insecure in their own opinions about the music.
@Icculus - I think the Roggae was quite good, but nothing to write home about. I enjoyed it, but I think you've overrated it.
See, totally OK to have a different opinion.
I never see any of the recappers blast someone else's opinion of the music. I only see them blast people who decide to go after the recappers or the site rather than talk about the show. If you can find an example of it, please let me know.
Yet and still , I do apologize for offending you and others. It makes me unhappy to think that I haven't successfully contributed to useful dialog on this site, which is all I've really wanted to accomplish. I sincerely apologize for creating angst through any comments I've made that would cause you guys, my fellow fans, to feel you need to lash out at me. I mean that sincerely, not tongue-in-cheek.
Perhaps my own expectations are the problem. I am looking for honest and professional quality reviews of the actual music, not sonnets on how unimpressed or unmoved a reviewer may be based on their own expectations of the band.
I do realize that this is a volunteer not-for-profit site dedicated to fund raising and sharing opinions from an "insider's" perspective, and even in that I realize the cracks in my criticisms. I'm a little taken aback by all of this. I guess my perspective on things is not a common one. I'm not sure.
But please understand that I am not interested in pissing all of you off on a regular basis. Just not why I'm here, really.
That said... Bangor (I was there and excited to be there) wasn't a great show. A reviewer is not shitting on someone else's thoughts of the show. I had a lot of fun at Bangor (they played my song, after all... but it wasn't a great version, though I'd argue the Hampton version was a great version for a first set Jim). You can still be excited and have a great time and dance like crazy at a show if it's not a great show. Here's the thing about Phish... very rarely is a show just bad. It's not great, but it's still good. It's still fun. It's still something I want to go to as many of as I can.
Hampton night 1 was slightly above average, mainly because of that Carini. Was it a lot of fun? Was I excited to be there? Hell yeah! But it wasn't an amazing show by any means.
And yes, reviews tend to be subjective. But I've found the reviews I've read here to be written more objectively than reviews on other sites. You may not agree with them, but that doesn't mean they're wrong. And just because they said a show wasn't great does not mean you should not have had an amazing time at a show.