Saturday 01/03/2015 by pzerbo

RECAP: SHARIN' IN THE MIAMI GROOVE

Joining me (PZ) to recap Friday’s action is my dear friend, LMo.

PZ: Happy 2015, Phish fans! We’ve been on a bit of a ride the past few days on the ship of Phish. The fans making the trek to Miami caught a monster wave with the NYE second set and “Tweezer,” though otherwise the band has presented as adrift, disinterested, and even for stretches taking on water, with New Years Day’s performance being even charitably among the least inspired in holiday run history. While not reaching the Jimmy Carter-level malaise that characterized the 2011-12 MSG holiday run, the band was straddling the Mendoza Line with only one and a fraction high quality sets out of five washing upon the Miami shores.


Photo by Brantley Gutierrez © Phish 2014. All rights reserved.

Phish would return to form this night, but it didn’t happen early. “Free” has settled into a comfortable rotation as an opener since first introduced in that role on 12/28/11 MSG. Rather than inspire, “Free” sounds flat and tired here, especially in contrast to the explosive “Martian Monster”-infused brilliance displayed on the final night of fall tour (11/2/14) in Vegas. “The Moma Dance” kept the vanilla flowing, with the first real signs of life came in the strong closing jam in “Possum.” Where one might be most hopeful to find rays of first set improvisational brilliance – “Roggae” and “Stash” – Phish delivered competent, relaxed, professional versions that served admirably in the moment but were otherwise unremarkable.

"Back on the Train” featured an ending that by intention or otherwise was basically the same (very good) jam that concluded the “Possum” from earlier in the set. The deep irony of this set was that Trey nailed the solos in “Sugar Shack” with which he has notorious difficulty, but then proceeds to completely butcher the infinitely less complex “The Line” bringing the vibe of the set to a full stop. “Ocelot” and “The Squirming Coil” conclude the set in much the same sleepytime vibe it began. Add in the increasingly long pauses between songs – often featuring seemingly intense discussion followed by the most mundane of song choices – and for better and/or worse this is your typical Phish first set these days.


Photo by Rene Huemer © Phish 2015. All rights reserved.

LMo: The first set included some of my favorite songs, though all the songs seemed quick to end and i was left wanting for something, somewhere, sometime to extend into uncharted waters, if only for a little while. Those special moments were entirely absent from last night’s first set. i love Free as an opener. i enjoy the tightly composed section and lyrics that invariably lead to the bass line taking over and some time to hear mike gordon lead along to the response of what is always some interesting guitar notes as the lead shifts back to trey. i imagine the song as about the freedom of bass and guitar to talk it out as the lyrics conclude.

in the first set there was a long pause between each song. there seemed to be a lot of deliberation about what to do and where to go and what is what. Moma dance was the choice at that juncture, another one of my old time favorites. i heard very satisfying guitar moments in last nights version, i just wish the MoMa dance would stretch out more and explore before returning to it's conclusion. Possum was just a straight up Possum, no surprises, though short in length. Roggae next with some very very sweet guitar moments again, a beautiful one always. calm calm calm... followed by Stash without surprises and Get Back on the Train.

Get Back on the Train seems to me a sort of calibration song for the band. there are other songs i would also call calibration songs, in that this song really brings all four members to a clear and excellent unison that later seems a basis for some interesting musical communication. there is such a walkable steady rhythm with Get Back on the Train.

Sugar Shack and the Line sort of pull the brakes on the forward momentum. I shrug and enjoy the ballads, though i noticed a slight stumbling sound with the guitar during the line, missed the net on that one. set one concludes with Ocelot and the Squirming Coil- nice bass in the Ocelot. i also enjoy the guitar and piano interchanges and melodic shiftings in this song and last night is a fair example, though nothing overwhelmed me. the Squirming Coil is often a set closer. sadly, the ending got foiled for me with the freezing of my stream and i missed my favorite part of Coil, page and the piano solo. i have experienced live great piano solo moments every time. i love to hear page alone. my stream unlocked as i saw a close up of page ending the set with the flourish of a man paying a bill offhandedly, rising from a table and making a hasty exit.


Photo by Patrick Jordan © Phish 2015. All rights reserved.

PZ: Mike’s Song” has been on a strong run with innovative and extended first jams of late, with this powerful ten-plus minutes anchored by Fish laying down a simple woodblock beat around which a deep Mike-driven pocket developed, with Trey and Page trading riffs on the surface, a great version for the era. The first ever “46 Days” embedded within a Mike’s Groove was a refreshing and unexpected call, one richly rewarded with a radically funky type-II departure from the song’s structure, this Mike’s Groove was twenty minutes deep before the opening notes of “Weekapaug.”

This “Weekapaug” started out uneventfully enough before soaring to an open, airy plane – Page in control on clavinet – before the “first ending” jam, then they blow through the stop sign and drop into a stop-start, sadly though predictably infected by the fucking “woo.” Page quickly rinses the palate with “They Attack!” samples from “The Birds,” opening the door to the second half of this 17+ minute “Weekapaug” jam that was the clear highlight of the gig. Trey abandoned his new/old guitar in favor of Fish’s marimba lumina. Page picked up Mike’s bass line, while Mike took over on Trey’s guitar for a rotation jam that instantly and easily ranks among the (if not the) best rotation jams of 3.0. As a stand alone “Weekapaug” (clocking it at 17:33) it is in a tier of its own for 3.0 and likely the best since 1.0.

The improvisational jets were exhausted at this point, but riding such a high third quarter wave floated all boats for the show, one that maintained crisp, crowd-pleasing energy. “Fuego” wasn’t in the mood to go big, but yielding to the much loved “Slave to the Traffic Light” left few if any disappointed. An all-too-brief but still fun diversion into “2001” set up a super high-energy “Walls of the Cave” to cap off a set that joins 12/31/14’s second in Miami’s top tier. An uneventful but fun “Sleeping Monkey” (clappers join talkers and smokers in the unholy trinity) and “Rocky Top” send the assembled masses home happy. The band was due for a stellar set... we asked, they delivered. Happy New Year to all, enjoy the final gig and safe travels home.


Photo by Rene Huemer © Phish 2015. All rights reserved.

LMo: as i heard Mike’s Groove from the cloud - mikes - 46 days - weekapaug – it was one coherent whole and it was absolutely amazing good. in Mike's song i heard an amazing piano / bass interplay and exchange, the tension was superb. it is cool to see trey step aside a moment as things get kind of dark and deep. my impression of the guitar moments are of stepping and swaying within the tight rhythm section, a really nice guitar sound all flawless and smooth and soaring through moments. there is a smooth transition into 46 days - really really nice guitar with this song and i am not disappointed - trey just talking talking talking - say it, say it, say it! i like the way the piano supports the melody in 46 days, trailing the lead guitar and spinning with the angles and changes, all the while, a solid rhythm section. i like the extension near the end beyond the lyrics, this is a worthy funky let's take a ride sort of jam. set two is all on.

the transition into weekapaug is just right, smooth. the bass line intro is always a pleasure to hear, page takes up with a really sweet funky groove on the clavinet keyboard, great sound. this is the good good part... the sound builds, very unified very lead guitar and all the sound pulls together. there is the start stop i love though unfortunately the crowd does the woo thing. past that is on track with the Birds - They Attack - from the now infamous 2014 vegas halloween set. things get great and funky good with the shifting of trey to percussion taking up the marimba lumina, then mike shifts to guitar. page on keys takes up the rhythm section with a very bass line keyboard sound while fishman holds it all down fishman style - a must hear and revisit moment. mike on guitar is very very interesting and an entirely different listening experience, while trey looked to be having good fun with percussion. really good old-school fun - mixing it up, getting a little crazy, a band and crowd totally aligned in the moment.

Fuego was a perfect song choice at this juncture. trey’s guitar takes flight into some unknown places in solo. at the conclusion of Fuego there is a really comfortable gentle sounding soft regroup that was good on the ears. from the tones of the guitar at the conclusion i was imagining Whats the Use? coming next, instead it is Slave, one can't go wrong with Slave and this version is no exception.

2001 - ohhh my. very good and very brief. superb things sometimes are enclosed in shorter time frames. i hear the hints of the guitar riff that is so superb from Dick's Simple 8-29-14. this is a winner of a sweet guitar riff that seems to have a lot of room for interchanges and shifts. the bass sound thumps and grooves right along. count me greedy, this 2001 could have extended and had potential for another over the top jam. i was defiantly left wanting more, though this is said as a compliment to the band.

Walls of the Cave is a terrific high energy last blast of excellent blazing light soundscaping. page is on fire with trey - rocking it out and pounding sound to a conclusion... and fishman on drums punctuates the conclusion of an excellent second set. magic!

the encore - Sleeping Monkey and Rocky Top - i wanted to note that fishman has a really familiar and excellent voice. i really enjoy the humor of this song and fishman sings it so sweetly. i could do without the unison crowd clapping. people are happy, in any case. i also wanted to note that for a band of new england guys, they do a soulful version of the southern Rocky Top. having grown up down south, i am amused hearing Rocky Top sung with New England accents.

looking forward to watching from the clouds tonight and cheers to everyone both at home and in Miami. cheers and thank you to my favorite band. i am most vicariously happy for my friends who are there in person.

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Comments

, comment by TheSleepingMonkey
TheSleepingMonkey I didn't feel the "vibe of the set come to a complete stop" once, but I guess I was in the room, so I'm bias. The energy of the room last night was definitely the highest of the run. Still didn't touch MSG energy, but it was ragin'. They're relaxed and it shows. Absolutely superb run so far.
, comment by FACTSAREUSELESS
FACTSAREUSELESS Has it really been that god-awful uninspiring a run or are some folks falling prey to the dreaded "expectations" again?

I don't find anything wrong with "competent, relaxed and professional versions" of songs I love to hear.

Otherwise excellent writeup with terrific attention to detail. Thanks.

The 'Paug was outrageous.
, comment by ufitzi
ufitzi Yes concur here with FAU above. I thought opener Free was very smooth, silky way to start show. First set had a great flow, I would have liked a high energy Maze or Foam or the like, but overall a very listenable set.
, comment by Jestinphish
Jestinphish Phish.net reviews=best taken with a grain of salt. Time and again these are the most critical reviews of shows I read. Not a good thing, not a bad thing. Just the way it is. Can't complain about the shows so far. And yes, that Paug was money. I wish Cactus would get some more time on Treys rig once in a while.
, comment by hdorne
hdorne Nice recap. Any review of a show is best taken with a grain of salt, as each person's subjective experience will differ. However, I appreciate some criticism where it is due. I can enjoy concise yet well-played versions of songs that don't jam out, but Trey's butchering of The Line was painful. He seems to have trouble with that descending moving chord pattern. I love the song, and that part is so crucial. We know he practices, because he absolutely nailed the tricky section in Sugar Shack, a song I hate. C'est la vie.

Mr. Miner will surely gush about how the Ghost > Theme > Cities and Weekapaug Groove represent a "paradigm shift" in the world of Phish, how their playing was "dripping with pure filth" and will "usher in a new era" for the band, among other snippets of hyperbolic word vomit. Conversely, I've seen people talk about "Trey's decline", how they're just counting their money, and how perplexing it is that people even enjoy this band anymore after a year like 2014. Seems to me that a band only concerned with money wouldn't do things like rotation jams, free live compilations, elaborate Halloween stage shows. They could just come out every night and play 100% jam-free greatest hits, but they don't. And while Trey probably can't play those dizzying '92 Llama solos anymore, he has constantly sought out new ways of expressing himself through his instrument. I personally love the whammy pedal when used right (see: 8/14/10's Reba, 7/1/12's Fee).

Let's have some perspective. 1/1 wasn't a thrilling show by any means, but it wasn't an embarrassing train wreck like Vegas 2004 either. 12/31's second set was fantastic, but it's far from best-ever status. Just have fun, enjoy what's good, be critical if need be, and be grateful that these four dorks are still making music for our dancing pleasure.
, comment by Jestinphish
Jestinphish Very well put.
, comment by mshannonlee
mshannonlee So sorry sourpuss😣 if you don't enjoy the shows maybe it's time to just hang out at your house. Get a rocking chair. Take a nap. Sorry, but I'm sick of all the bad reviews. Thirty plus years leaves time for some peaks and valleys.
, comment by Ha_Ha_Ha
Ha_Ha_Ha Does anyone know more about Trey's new/old guitar?

Stop the "woos"!!!
, comment by FACTSAREUSELESS
FACTSAREUSELESS @Ha_Ha_Ha said:
Does anyone know more about Trey's new/old guitar?

Stop the "woos"!!!
Word on the street, as it were, is that it's a 1991 Languadec, perhaps even the first one he made for him. If that's true I think it's cool.

As far as the woos, the band really enjoys this and seems to prompt it with the start/stop playing, so why discourage it? It's fun. There's nothing wrong with fun at a Phish show.
, comment by jadedforbin
jadedforbin Ummm...

1/1 was a really good show too. Second Set was the bliss.

While they didn't really open it up again til the last two nights, and 1/1 is clearly the "breather" show of the four, it was far from a bad show. The first Set on NYE was terrible, both sets this night destroyed it. Every single person I talked to at the shows enjoyed 1/1 as well.

Saying that they had played one good set out of 5 is a big stretch. By the same token, I could then say that all of 2009-2012 (minus about 5 "chosen" shows) is entirely uninteresting and nostalgia act-y.

The real issue? People who wanted them to do MSG again bashing this run simply because it's not in the Northeast, as they do EVERY run that doesn't take place in their backyard.

Phish was THE MIAMI HEAT last weekend. It was all really good (minus NYE Set I), and the latter two shows and NYE Set II are all among the very best of 3.0. The DwD is among the best, all eras.
, comment by jadedforbin
jadedforbin @FACTSAREUSELESS said:
Has it really been that god-awful uninspiring a run or are some folks falling prey to the dreaded "expectations" again?

I don't find anything wrong with "competent, relaxed and professional versions" of songs I love to hear.

Otherwise excellent writeup with terrific attention to detail. Thanks.

The 'Paug was outrageous.
They're falling prey to the "this show wasn't in the northeast, must bash it" mentality, sadly.

Having witnessed it firsthand, I can say for sure that they played more than 1.5 good sets in the first two days. NYE I was terrible though, uninspired song choices and uninspired Trey. Once he got it going though, it never stopped. 1/1 is actually really good, stop looking at the 9 minute song timings and LISTEN to it. WINTERQUEEN might be the highlight of the set, not even kidding. Blissed out as fuck.
, comment by jadedforbin
jadedforbin Also, most 15+ min jams of any 3.0 multinight run, and the best Disease PERIOD of the new era.
, comment by CorndogChapman
CorndogChapman 3 very good sets
3 very bad sets
3 forgettable sets

Is this what you wanted?
, comment by thephisherman
thephisherman I absolutely loved Sleeping Monkey here. Trey actually instigated the clapping
, comment by bertoletdown
bertoletdown @jadedforbin said:
@FACTSAREUSELESS said:
Has it really been that god-awful uninspiring a run or are some folks falling prey to the dreaded "expectations" again?

I don't find anything wrong with "competent, relaxed and professional versions" of songs I love to hear.

Otherwise excellent writeup with terrific attention to detail. Thanks.

The 'Paug was outrageous.
They're falling prey to the "this show wasn't in the northeast, must bash it" mentality, sadly.

Having witnessed it firsthand, I can say for sure that they played more than 1.5 good sets in the first two days. NYE I was terrible though, uninspired song choices and uninspired Trey. Once he got it going though, it never stopped. 1/1 is actually really good, stop looking at the 9 minute song timings and LISTEN to it. WINTERQUEEN might be the highlight of the set, not even kidding. Blissed out as fuck.
It's dangerous to claim knowledge of people's thought process.

The staff here takes pains to review the music and not the venue. Vegas isn't in the Northeast and you won't find a single person on the team who doesn't think Halloween set 2 was gold. Everyone here pretty much agrees that 12/31/14 II, 1/2/15 II, and 1/3/15 II were terrific as well. I think everyone who writes these recaps would much rather heap praise on a show than criticism.

But I'm just here to tell you that 1/1 sucked.

You can see it on the video. None of them brought their game and they struggled to figure out both what to play and how to play it. The smiles and laughs they trade at a good show were replaced by bewildered, deer-in-the-headlights looks. It was not a good night.

All that said, if it was your cup of tea, then you're better for it, and should in no way let me argue you off that position. There are shows I loved that other people hated over the years, and I like being the devil's advocate now and then.
, comment by lumpblockclod
lumpblockclod @jadedforbin said:
Also, most 15+ min jams of any 3.0 multinight run, and the best Disease PERIOD of the new era.
Where on earth did you get the idea that this run had more 15+ minute jams than any other 3.0 run?
, comment by funkdubayous
funkdubayous Were these reviewers even at the AAA? IMO, Friday night had incredible energy and flow. The first set was funky as hell and jammy. IMO Free isn't a very good show opener, as much as I love the song. Moma Dance fits as a good second song placement bringing the funk. continuing the high energy with a jammy possum. Roggae is bubbly and up lifting with Mikes fluttering bass riffs and trey and pages exploratory playing. Stash is always great and continues with more exploration and a more of the energy/ tension building that gets a release in Back on the train. I don't care what anyone says Sugar shack was funk and bliss. trey nailed the guitar playing right in step with Mike. Ocelot was beautiful and building. Trey nails Ocelot too! and what better way to end a beautiful funky fun set than with a Page solo in Squirming Coil.
The second Set speaks for itself and needs no description and explanation. that's my two cents.
, comment by fluff_hen
fluff_hen @bertoletdown said:

It's dangerous to claim knowledge of people's thought process.

The staff here takes pains to review the music and not the venue. Vegas isn't in the Northeast and you won't find a single person on the team who doesn't think Halloween set 2 was gold. Everyone here pretty much agrees that 12/31/14 II, 1/2/15 II, and 1/3/15 II were terrific as well. I think everyone who writes these recaps would much rather heap praise on a show than criticism.

But I'm just here to tell you that 1/1 sucked.

You can see it on the video. None of them brought their game and they struggled to figure out both what to play and how to play it. The smiles and laughs they trade at a good show were replaced by bewildered, deer-in-the-headlights looks. It was not a good night.
With all due respect, you are also claiming knowledge of other peoples' thought process. Fine to dislike the 1/1 song selection, fine to critique the jams or energy, but no one on the staff knows what the band members were thinking, and your interpretation of their expressions is completely subjective. Sometimes a show is disjointed and weak, full of audible miscues, but 1/1 was not.
, comment by Destiny_Bound
Destiny_Bound best show ever because of this

SETBREAK MUSIC
Mariachi El Bronx (III)

great choice boys!
, comment by bertoletdown
bertoletdown @fluff_hen said:
With all due respect, you are also claiming knowledge of other peoples' thought process. Fine to dislike the 1/1 song selection, fine to critique the jams or energy, but no one on the staff knows what the band members were thinking, and your interpretation of their expressions is completely subjective. Sometimes a show is disjointed and weak, full of audible miscues, but 1/1 was not.
It wasn't a clambake but I also wouldn't call it tight.

The adjective I think best applies is "listless." There was no purpose, no drive, no direction, no fire. At all.
, comment by FACTSAREUSELESS
FACTSAREUSELESS @jadedforbin said:
@FACTSAREUSELESS said:
Has it really been that god-awful uninspiring a run or are some folks falling prey to the dreaded "expectations" again?

I don't find anything wrong with "competent, relaxed and professional versions" of songs I love to hear.

Otherwise excellent writeup with terrific attention to detail. Thanks.

The 'Paug was outrageous.
They're falling prey to the "this show wasn't in the northeast, must bash it" mentality, sadly.

Having witnessed it firsthand, I can say for sure that they played more than 1.5 good sets in the first two days. NYE I was terrible though, uninspired song choices and uninspired Trey. Once he got it going though, it never stopped. 1/1 is actually really good, stop looking at the 9 minute song timings and LISTEN to it. WINTERQUEEN might be the highlight of the set, not even kidding. Blissed out as fuck.
Thanks for the first hand account. You heard what I heard. I Loooove Winterqueen and this treatment bodes very well for this coming year. It's a beautiful and sublime tune.
, comment by FACTSAREUSELESS
FACTSAREUSELESS @bertoletdown said:

It wasn't a clambake but I also wouldn't call it tight.

This goes down as one of the all-time great one-liners in my Phish-fan career.
I'm publically giving you credit before shamelessly using it everywhere for every conceivable reason.
, comment by Destiny_Bound
Destiny_Bound Compare the jam in Winterqueen to that of Ocelot. You can easily substitute the two. I am a huge fan of both songs, so there is no criticism, but placed side by side, they are identical at times.

cheers to a great 2015!
, comment by FACTSAREUSELESS
FACTSAREUSELESS @Destiny_Bound said:
Compare the jam in Winterqueen to that of Ocelot. You can easily substitute the two. I am a huge fan of both songs, so there is no criticism, but placed side by side, they are identical at times.

cheers to a great 2015!
Interesting comparison. To me, now that I'm thinking about it, Winterqueen is to Ocelot what Here Comes Sunshine is to Tennessee Jed.

I love Here Comes Sunshine and it had a glorious two or three years and then unceremoniously got shelved by Jerry and the gang for no understandable reason. Let's hope this doesn't happen with Winterqueen, which is simply resonates with me as a classic Phish song the likes of which I haven't heard since Billy Breathes. If fact, Feugo reminds me quite a bit of that album in certain respects.
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