Saturday 01/14/2017 by Icculus


IT appears that many of our site's users were angered by Trey's golden, flowing hair, no... Fish's fierce Lucha libre wrestling mask, no... by @SausageMahoney's recap of the December 29th MSG show. A comment from user @CoryRoc reads: "nothing annoys me more than these reviews, yet i keep reading them to remind myself to never become as jaded as the clowns who write them."

Photo ©  Phish (taken by Rene Huemer)
Photo © Phish (taken by Rene Huemer)

While the 12/29 recap inspired considerable thoughtful commentary, @CoryRoc's comment received more than 80 "upvotes" at its peak, bespeaking its overwhelming popularity. (Regrettably, @CoryRoc has yet to respond to our invitation to him to recap a show, so it may be awhile before we all benefit from his unjaded, non-clownish, POV.)

So on behalf of some, but not all, of the volunteers who manage Phish.Net, I apologize to those who were upset by the 12/29 recap. We have suspended @SausageMahoney from recap duty, and are considering whether to impose various disciplinary measures before he graciously volunteers to write so eloquently for the site again. These measures include, but are not limited to, having to re-listen to and re-review 12/29 MSG in a ten-thousand-word fluff piece.

Appreciation of Phish's music is a wholly subjective endeavor, of course. We know what we like and we like or even love it, and we know what we like less and we love it less, or we hate it and hope we never hear it again at a show, ever, under any circumstances. For no matter how many shows we've listened to or witnessed live, we generally LOVE Phish and its music, or at least really like it, which is why -- for example – you’re bothering to read these words, spending your limited free time to visit this site or other Phishy sites. It is also why some fans donate money and volunteer time to keep this site -- and The Mockingbird Foundation -- running, not only for your Phishy amusement, but also for the benefit of music education for children. Truth be told, @SausageMahoney's recap of 12/29 was not the recap of a jaded clown. Far from it, it was articulate and sincere about the music from his 27-years-of-Phish experience. Yes, it offered critical perspectives, adding color where deserved, if only so you'd know the recap was authored by a vet familiar with Phish's music, and not a noobtarded sycophant. But overall, it was fair and reasonable, and quite unlike the following, which is, in fact, a recap -- of last night's show -- by a jaded clown:


IT was a gorgeous setting: the climate, the beach, the waves, the breeze. It was also among Trey's greatest hair days in Phish history, as it sparkled beautifully, mirroring the dazzling starlight, similar to his well-conditioned hair on 7/31/97 at Shoreline, and of course at Red Rocks on 8/6/96. Imagine seeing a Phish show on a beach, on the greatest hair day for Trey, and with Fish in a zeroman (or donut-themed, if you prefer) Luche libre mask. Last night's show was like that. Or don't imagine it, just google video of the damn webcast. I wasn't there, but I know the vibe was amazing. Why? Because it's a Phish show on a god damn beach, and it was an incredible hair day for Trey! I saw Phish right next to a beach in '95, but who cares, because the vibe at a Phish show is almost always awesome! Even noobs with next to no Phish experience realize this. Here's a thought: if you had a life outside your mom's basement and more professional musical experiences, you wouldn't get butthurt over someone’s two cents about an average-GREAT (at best) fun Phish show with its average-great fun "vibe."

Photo ©  Phish (taken by Rene Huemer)
Photo © Phish (taken by Rene Huemer)

And JFC is it even worth attending or hearing the first set by a band that doesn't rehearse much and purportedly doesn't even criticize each other's playing? What kind of musician doesn't want honest criticism from his trusted colleagues to improve his art!?! Like the Grateful Dead before them after decades of shows, Phish seems to perform first sets often as if they're just coloring-in a coloring book. They typically don't give it their "all," or try to perform at their "best," any more than you do in the bathroom during the opening "Stealing Time from the Faulty Plan."

But you probably don’t give a shit about that. And I guess I don’t really either. But I would like to hear one of my favorite bands play songs I love at least well enough to justify the $75 ticket price, ideally with some spectacular improv, too. And while I may never need to hear some songs again (e.g., ones that I grew weary of over 20 years ago, especially if Trey's going to slop through them), I'd sure as hell rather hear those songs -- even as background as I get more beers -- than no Phish at all. It isn't a cliche that we should be grateful that Phish is still playing, IT IS THE TRUTH! But that doesn't mean their shits won't eventually fill a BIG BOAT.

Pretty good show last night, an easy 6/10, arguably even a 6.5 or 7/10, on the Scott Jordan Concert Review Poll Scale (where a 5/10 is an average, typically great, Phish show, a 10/10 is like 12/31/95, or even arguably 2/28/03 or your favorite Dick’s show, and a 1/10 is Trey -- even if his hair is great -- literally taking a shit on stage (even a cancelled show that ends with a hilarious "Fuckerpants" gets at least a 2/10), and an 11/10 is Big Cypress of course).

Photo ©  Phish (taken by Rene Huemer)
Photo © Phish (taken by Rene Huemer)

If you hear someone say that last night's first set was strong, don't laugh in their face. Actually, do laugh in their face, but still have a listen for yourself if you haven't already. It's easy Phish listening. Good background music while dancing in an ocean, or running errands. If you're a fan of Trey's tone as I sometimes am, it seemed super-rich and syrupy during the opening "Free" and throughout most of the show last night (except "Theme,” where the pitch shifter was sometimes crudely employed). And even if Trey did horribly flub "Yarmouth Road" in only its second (!) measure, his playing was excellent most of the night, unsurprising I suppose given his professionalism and genius...and given the kickass soundcheck from Thursday that you may have heard.

Importantly, there are several stand-out versions in last night’s first set that are worth hearing more than once: "Sand" (an apt call given the venue, of course, and although not a long version, Trey's solo has a bit of extra relish and heat); "Undermind" (the full band interplay is punchier and somehow more groovetastic and funkalicious than usual, with Mike Fish and Page playing exceptionally well, and oh hell every version of this song is worth hearing again it's a GREAT SONG FFS); and the set-closing "Wolfman's" (the jam built very, very slowly and patiently to a MAGNIFICENT PEAK after ten mins in, and then another sweet peak before it concluded, making for a HUGE arguably must-hear setcloser).

I LOVE "A Song I Heard the Ocean Sing," and how charming that they opened the second set with a meek-at-first, and then kinda perfunctory, version of it since, coincidentally, they were right next to the ocean. Not content to let the ocean do the singing, though, the band continued with the 3367th version of "Wedge" in 3.0. “Wedge” is among my favorites and I love it in the second set. Although it was a mixed-bag musically, Page, Mike and Fish consistently killed it beneath Trey's sometimes aimless riffing, but whatever, Trey's hair continued to be marvelous, and at least he didn't choose to play a ballad that should never be performed again under any circumstances at all whatsoever, like this POS.

Photo ©  Phish (taken by Rene Huemer)
Photo © Phish (taken by Rene Huemer)

The next fifty or so minutes of Phish was for the most part, and in a word, BEAUTIFUL. And I mean beautiful in an "above-average" sense, of course, since no Phish show fails to have at least some beauty in it (YES, EVEN COVENTRY). The improv in "Fuego" was competitive with the most divinely-inspired versions, involving several movements akin to the most legendary masterpieces in music history, its soaring majesty at times invigorating the spirits of even the most jaded of vets. Am I overrating it? Of course I am. But hear it for yourself.

"Fuego" segued delicately into "Prince Caspian," the floaty jam of which conjured images of waves, and floating on and in them, lots of waves, and then turds, yes turds, floating in a toilet, lots and lots of turds, but then more of the floating and the waves, and a BEDAZZLING CLIMAX TO THE JAM, that then oddly exploded into one million turds that were jettisoned diarrheatorically across an exponentially expanding sea of toilets, and then a kinda meh segue into "Twist." A highly entertaining version, which even contained a jam on "Tequila" for several measures, this "Twist" is worth your time to check out. Trey and Fish and Mike and Page all channel Carlos Santana even more so than usual in it, and its jam could have busted-into "Oye Como Va" at almost any time. Some really siiiiiick offerings from all in this version, but Mike's use of effects throughout it is particularly cool. Hear it. And it also segues smoothly, arguably even masterfully, into "Seven Below." And although Trey certainly isn't as clean in the composed section as he usually is, the jam is gorgeous.

"Golgi" was butchered way too much by Trey (who appeared to laugh about it), and probably should be shelved for eternity unless Trey decides to learn how to play it again. "Antelope" ALWAYS makes for a thrilling set closer, and since it was odd that it wasn't played on the NYE run, it was unsurprising to get it here. This average-great version cooked as it always does to close a set; no more, and no less, than usual.

Having had way, way too much fun, the band encored with "Contact," which is among the most spectacular, ingenious works in Phish's canon. This version featured even more laughter and giddiness from Trey in it than usual. Trey, however, seeing how overjoyed the song had made all of us (his adoring fans), then ABUSED HIS AWESOME POWER, leading the band in a rote "Bug" to conclude a wonderful and magical and musically-somewhat-better-than-average-great Phish show.

If you've read or skimmed this far, you've almost certainly heard the awe-inspiring 12/30/16 second set's “Tweezer->Sparks>Ghost->Light->Party Time” by now. Last night’s second set wasn’t as musically powerful as that, but it was still quite good and augurs well for this weekend’s shows. And if this recap of last night's show disappoints you in any way, don't frown. You'll get stronger shows (and recaps) later this year, perhaps at MSG, or even this weekend... be you noob, vet, or jaded clown.

Photo ©  Phish (taken by Rene Huemer)
Photo © Phish (taken by Rene Huemer)

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, comment by Dressed_In_Gray
Dressed_In_Gray At first after I clicked, I wondered if @jadetiger got promoted and changed her handle.

Despite a high level of meta-meaning, the humor of this review shined through.

Nice average-great review of an arguably above-average-great second set.
, comment by experiencechuck
experiencechuck What a meltdown of a review.

"noobtarded"?? Not cool, man. Circumlocuting the term "retarded" as a pejorative term isn't much better than saying it.

I came here to read about the music and this is supposed to be a positive community. At least you kinda talked about the music...
, comment by User_33527_
User_33527_ Hahaha poor attempt at defending that shitshow of a review from 12/29. You keep mentioning how he so graciously donated his time to write us a review as if we should be grateful that he took time out of his busy day to dump on a show that most people clearly enjoyed based on its 4.2 rating almost a month after the fact. Just write your recap and stop whining.
, comment by Jestinphish
Jestinphish I used to love reading the reviews on this site... and participating in the comment section after said reviews. Now I check jambase for the skinny and setlist. Tired of the noob/vet/"jaded-clown" bs that pervades these reviews nowadays. I just want to know if anything was ungodly stellar and I need to listen to it right away. I could give two shits if you hate BDTNL or head to take a piss every time Waiting All Night is played. In my 20+ years of listening to Phish I have never not listened to a show because of a review I have read. Much like some could tell me they don't like dukgalbi. It means nothing to me until I've tried it myself. However, if someone raves about a song or certain segment of the show, I may head there first. Not normally, as I prefer the "journey not the destination" mentality, but there have been several times in the past where a review has made me head directly to a certain point in a show when I listen. I've started meandering now, but I just really didn't care for a good batch of the reviews I read this year. Personal opinion.

On a side note... "noobtarded".. come on man. Get some thicker skin. When I was a kid a popular saying was "sticks and stones may break my bones but words can never hurt me". What happened to that?
, comment by PennPhan
PennPhan "...that then oddly exploded into one million turds that were jettisoned diarrheatorically across an exponentially expanding sea of toilets,"

Tell us what you really think....
, comment by Bogotafee5514
Bogotafee5514 Still waiting for Phish to sing Feugo's lyrics in espanol and give Japanese Meatstick a rest!!! Haha. After only one jam chart worthy Feugo in 2016 played at its spiritual home, the Mann in Philly of course im very pleased that there will be a new version to add.

La Reba La Reba La Reba

Soplando En El Viento
, comment by peacey
peacey Clown car still unloading
, comment by del4life
del4life Ugh, that terrible 12/29 review is like an x-girlfriend who won't stop calling. Let that dog lie.
, comment by BetweenTheEars
BetweenTheEars Nicely done, Charlie.

Meta review is meta.
, comment by no_passouts
no_passouts It's weird that you can't grasp that some of us were annoyed by Mahoney's 12/29 review not because of its lack of breathless fluffage, but because of what he chose to spend time covering.

I skimmed it again. It's about 1,500 words. There were two great parts to that show that have held up after a few weeks -- the wackiness of the 20 Kungs, and an amazing, peaked-out Hood.

The dude gave the Kung all of 17 words ...

"when Trey started "Kung" and this worked up a good deal of momentum over the "20YL" riff."

... and then 30 words to the Hood:

"this "Hood" was well worth a listen. It was lovely, fiery, energetic, beautiful, all the things we love about this great piece of music as played by these four musicians."

(But, I should add, those 30 words came after his zillionth dig on the show: "The greatest "Harry Hood" second-set closer of all time, or even the recent approximations circa summer 2014, couldn't drag this great, awesome, fun time with friends but below-average Phish show into the win column,")

He spent less than 50 words on the two most noteworthy tunes, and what seemed like a thousand-plus on what was flubbed or mediocre or falling short of what he'd hoped. Is it that hard to understand how that would irk some people who still love Phish?
, comment by experiencechuck
experiencechuck @jestinphish said:
On a side note... "noobtarded".. come on man. Get some thicker skin. When I was a kid a popular saying was "sticks and stones may break my bones but words can never hurt me". What happened to that?

Cool so we can just drop some N words? How about start calling people gay in reviews? Where's the line?

I missed the part in my post where I said my feelings were hurt. But I strongly believe that there's no place for certain pejoratives on here, particularly those that pertain to aspects of identity. Anyone who thinks it's okay to sling around the word "retarded" is pretty thoughtless and childish.
, comment by User_33527_
User_33527_ @experiencechuck said:
@James_Lahey said:
On a side note... "noobtarded".. come on man. Get some thicker skin. When I was a kid a popular saying was "sticks and stones may break my bones but words can never hurt me". What happened to that?

Cool so we can just drop some N words? How about start calling people gay in reviews? Where's the line?

I missed the part in my post where I said my feelings were hurt. But I strongly believe that there's no place for certain pejoratives on here, particularly those that pertain to aspects of identity. Anyone who thinks it's okay to sling around the word "retarded" is pretty thoughtless and childish.
Lol I believe you misattributed that quote to me sir. Regardless, I think the gentleman you did intend to quote @jestinphish) was not disparaging you for being offended over word choice, but was rather chastising the author of the original recap for reacting so childishly to the backlash from the 12/29 recap.
, comment by experiencechuck
experiencechuck @James_Lahey my mistake! Sorry!
, comment by metawhy
metawhy metawhy approves of meta-ness in review

it was funny
, comment by FrankieZappaSays
FrankieZappaSays This is a parody, a little social satire. The reviewer does a remarkable job of using almost all of the review catchphrases of the various archetypes contributing opinions in this community.
, comment by qushner
qushner Um, that was... beautiful.
, comment by Nomansjam
Nomansjam As a fan of '16 first set effort /structure I thought last night's was the younger cosmic cousin to the interplanetary 12/30
The underlying subconscious message of the mandala of the show is unveiled in the second half of set 1s these daze
Love & Light
, comment by BetweenTheEars
BetweenTheEars Can't we all just laugh at ourselves a little bit?
Yes. Yes, we can.
, comment by Rollings

Perfect description.
, comment by mikh2wg
mikh2wg The thing that bothers me about these recaps of late is that, when they are done by the senior staff at dot net, they tend to focus more on inside jokes and maintaining street cred. I know that the dot net Illuminati, like our esteemed reviewer here, have a certain way of thinking about shows. Basically, if there's no Type II, it sucks. That mindset is fine, and I totally understand it. The problem with posting so many reviews that focus on that mindset is that not everyone who comes to this site shares it.
Personally, I think it would be of more use to the site in particular, and the community in general, to post recaps that contained detailed descriptions of at least most of the songs. That way, people could decide for themselves if there was something in the show that interested them. While nearly all the music is available to everyone for free and practically instantaneously these days, not everyone actually has the time, or the will, to listen to it all and weed out the shows that they don't care for. I still think there is value in objective descriptions of what transpired, just as there was in the RMP days.
It would also be great to read more reviews from people who attended the shows. I know that, logistically, that is not always possible. But it would be nice to get more of a sense of what it was like to be there.
I really enjoyed all the recaps this Summer and Fall from the "special guest" reviewers because they tended to think outside the box a little more. I would appreciate more variation in the perspective that people bring to the front page of the blog. As it is now, the recaps are starting to look more and more alike and I want to read them less and less.
, comment by harlemcracka
harlemcracka So many people have no idea what is going on here, in terms of this review being a review of another review before a review of the last phish show. Which the very concept of, is singularly absurd, in the very Phishyiest of ways. Well done
, comment by owldoug
owldoug I enjoyed this. Pretty funny. Wouldn't want every review like this but nice to see something truly goofy once in a while so we don't take ourselves (or the band) too seriously all the time. I'd have put Shade or Snow in the POS hyperlink
, comment by Jakob2001
Jakob2001 I realize that the above review is actually part of a running joke about the 12/29 review and all that, but just since a few people said they wish there would just be an objective quick pass through the set list to sorta see if there's anything worth immediately jumping to or if you should just listen straight through like normal. I don't really try to tell you what you should think is good or what is not, but to give you the overall gist of things and if there were any prevailing trends or something particularly special. I wrote this out just for the hell of it because I never do and not because I believe I have some type of authoritative voice on the subject or because I think I have some special talent!!
, comment by Jakob2001
Here's the rest (i don't know how to just edit my original post)!!

My 1/13 Review-

From the 'Free' Opener make no mistake about it The Guys are playing on a beach right next to the ocean (just in case you forgot) and not so subtle reminders of that were present throughout the entire show! Case in point, just two songs later an early (and welcome) 'Sand' made an appearance with 'Theme' following suit before they settled into a fairly typical, not so dirty, yet always funky, 'Funky Bitch'. A well situated 'Undermind' progressed the set into yet another straight-forward rock version of 'NICU' before the first set finally built itself up into a very natural, however not-at-all surprisingly placed 'Wolfman's bringing the set to its crescendo to round out the opening night's opening set.

With the beginning of the second set came 'A Song I heard the Ocean Sing' and still another clump of watery/ocean-esque inspired songs serving as reminders that again confirm, "Yes, we are playing on a beach right next to the ocean" as noted in the lyrics of both 'The Wedge' and 'Prince Caspian' which ultimately gave way to one of the second set highlights... a relatively short, but still sweet version of 'Twist'. 'Golgi' led into an always up to the task 'Antelope' which, as it never fails to do, put an exclamation point on the set, the show, & the opening night. A light-hearted, bubbly 'Contact' appropriately mimicked the dancing, swirling sea breeze and seemed as if it left everyone, crowd and band alike happy, upbeat, and smiling as 'Bug' finished off the evening.

An above average show to get everyone off & running on this Mexico run with plenty of room to keep raising the stakes and make another memorable run of Phish shows for all the folks lucky enough to be in attendance.
, comment by Zimmerman
Zimmerman Awesome review! Just like the one for 12/29 but even more humorous. I would love to see more honest reviews like these on the site. Reviews are worthless if they're all rave. So thank you for being realistic, honest, and coming to the just defense of another reviewer who got a lot of hate from idiotic fluffers.
, comment by Zimmerman
Zimmerman The 12/29 review was one of the first refreshingly non-fluffy reviews in ages. You guys are like children
, comment by dscott
dscott Jadeveon Clowney tackles a Phish show review???
, comment by kernalforbin1983
kernalforbin1983 Can we please just review as objectively as possible and leave the forum crap at the door? I understand that we all have different opions on shows and a healthy debate is fine but it should be about the music.
, comment by frankstallone
frankstallone @Zimmerman said:
The 12/29 review was one of the first refreshingly non-fluffy reviews in ages. You guys are like children
Agreed. I was gonna say little bitches... but I think you put it more eloquently
, comment by jflasko320
jflasko320 12/29 review had nothing on spac night 3 this past year. Dude whined about his divorce the whole review, I'd rather listen to the Moma from that night over anything in this show ever again.
, comment by weekapaug4398
weekapaug4398 I'm surprised people did not take this as a tongue-in-cheek review in resposne to the overblown reaction to @sausagemahoney's review of 12/29. Everyone needs to chill out just a little....this is supposed to be fun (dammit!)!!!!! Anyway....enjoyed the vibe of this show, the boys were locked in and there was a lot of good jamming and flow. Song choices were strong. I liked the fake out into Caspian, really seemed like Lizards was coming!
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