[Recap of last night’s show courtesy of longtime Mockingbird Foundation contributor, jaded vet, and serial ranker @chopaganda.]
Before we begin, I want to thank Steve Paolini for offering me his traditional Sunday Dick’s recap. Steve was one of many fans who thought Curveball would actually happen and missed this year’s Dick’s run in lieu of it. Sucker.
There are two ways we can look at last night’s show. On the one hand, it was incredibly fun, high-energy, and packed with moments that remind us why we love Phish. On the other hand, it was a big step back from Friday night and a somewhat tepid way to end a Summer tour following the cancelation of Curveball.
If we were to break down the Summer 2018 shows into tiers*****, it would look something like this:
Tier 1: Dicks1
Tier 2: Alpharetta1
Tier 3: Gorge3, Alpharetta2, Camden1, Merriweather2, Dicks3
Tier 4: San Francisco1, Alpharetta3, Forum1, Camden2, Dicks2
Tier 5: Gorge1, San Francisco2, Austin, Raleigh, Merriweather1
Tier 6: Tahoe1, Tahoe2, Gorge2, Forum2
*****This is specifically looking at the music that ends up on the recordings. It is not a ranking of good times and crowds going wild (e.g. even though Alpharetta night three was obviously one of the most fun shows of Summer, it’s also one of the weaker shows of Summer in terms of improv and flubs).
So which parts of last night's show (Sunday Dick's) elevated it to Tier 3?
The "Soul Planet" opener featured a fun, high-energy jam, and provided relief to jaded vets who rightfully feared the repetitive and lyrically challenged tune was destined to be last night’s second set centerpiece. "Mellow Mood" gave song chasers their bustout. The rest of the first set featured solid, if far from spectacular, versions of regularly played Phish songs.
"46 Days" continued its 2018 trend as reliable vehicle for improv. The segue from "46 Days" into "Tweezer" is pure butter and an absolute must-hear. "Tweezer" did not disappoint and potentially edged out the 9/3/2011 version to become the official “Dick’s Tweezer.” The jam out of "Golden Age" provided another stretch of fantastic improv. The rest of the show closed with solid, if far from spectacular, versions of regularly played Phish songs.
So which parts of last night kept this show from being ranked higher?
The first set was clearly the weakest set of the 2018 Dick’s run. It was devoid of the sort of Type II improv that comes even remotely close to Saturday’s "Down With Disease" or Friday’s "Blaze On" and "Ghost -> Crosseyed & Painless." Given all the sloppiness and tentative play we’ve heard in Summer 2018, it was great to hear songs like "Maze" and "Antelope" played with confidence. But the bar for Phish has always been higher than playing their own songs like the band who wrote them.
The second set "Golden Age" was a disaster pre-jam----slow tempo, missed changes, missed lyrics. And once the "Golden Age" jam was over, the band stopped playing anything unexpected or non-standard.
In the end, Sunday Dick’s was a standard great Phish show. It provided us with the joyful release that we all seek through live music. At the same time, if you found yourself yearning for more, no one would blame you. Following the cancelation of Curveball, there were high expectations for this run. After Phish played one of their best two complete shows (along with 7/25/17 Jam-Filled) of the last two years on Friday, it would be hard for any fan not to have wanted more out of last night. But as Mick says, you can’t always get what you want. However, judging from the 26,000 smiles walking out of Dick's last night, we still got what we needed.
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This, I think was a particularly adventurous and cohesive run of songs. From the 46 Days jam on, the energetic staccato theme re-emerged over and over, reminiscent of some '95 experimentation. The refusal to play the tweezer riff during the song proper - subbing it out for a drum and bass rhythm - (and especially the brief possibility of a tweezteca) seem like a good example of how the songs in Q3 were all played slightly 'off.' I would argue that experimenting with the structure of songs like this is as musically interesting as 'jams proper' and produces a continuity that is rare.
With every song, my wife and I looked at each other and said, "Nice!" Great songs. Who am I to judge. But seriously, am I the only one who enjoyed the first set last night?
We create problems when we try to rank and sort everything to compare it with what has happened before.
For those who unconditionally love seeing Phish, last night was a great time.
I thought this review was spot-on. I thought the show was pretty underwhelming. I still had a blast. More importantly, I was served yet another reminder to one of the biggest keys of enjoying this band: don't expect anything. Because for better or for worse, just when you think you know what'll happen next, you might get a curveball.
Fun fact: many of us are critical thinkers and discerning listeners who are capable of disageeing with dot net recaps without being mindless fluffers who rate shows solely based on our own personal experience or the “fun factor.” I’m not saying every recap has to be glowing, but when reviewers post these overly negative, unnecessarily defensive screeds it suggests quite strongly that readers who disagree are wrong, it doesn’t suggest the actual truth that there are many different criteria that phans use to judge and enjoy shows. In reality the experience of being a critically thinking Phan necessitates being open to the idea that the band playing WELL and the band that way YOU as an individual reviewer WANT or PREFER them to play are not always the same thing. I’d rather have reviews that make “I statements” and acknowledge that subjectivity is a part of these reviews than reviews that pretend somehow that this crew of dot net reviewers speaks only the objective truth, unique among any other humans on the planet.
Any well written review is either going to make the reader feel thrilled because they agree or angry because they passionately disagree. To attempt to remain truly neutral and in the gray would be giving everything 3.5 stars, and wouldn’t be worth reading. But to pretend that that’s what you’re doing and that anyone who disagrees are the ones who are biased and flawed is worse.
TLDR: stop trolling with your reviews and just recap the previous night’s show.
Full disclaimer: she’s also my wife.
everything was played so well (all weekend). horn? when has it been last played that well? horse > silent, patient and spot on for a front end encore.
the four song (46 days, tweezer, golden age, steam) start to set two was pure gravy. the back end of set two was pure dance party (jibboo, suzy, zero), as was the mellow mood, tube, funky bitch in set one.
for me, the band jammed night one, but never really connected. i heard a lot of forced effort and segments where things weren't doing much. things only got better night two and night three was the cherry on top.
(and the camping grounds were spectacular all weekend! i had to laugh this morning when i was walking to the showers at 6:30 am (to catch a 9 am flight home) and there was a silent disco going down on the main drag. you people are crazy!)
show recap, not a tour recap.
A pretentious recap of an average (at best) Dick's show, followed by a "tier" rated ranking of the summer that nobody asked for.
A ranking which, I can only hope, was written by someone finishing off their leftover bags from summer tour.
Dicks N1 in a tie by itself is laughable. Like, what show did you see, dude?
Camden N1 in the same tier as MPP2?
No more from this guy, please.
I attended all of the shows mentioned below. Not couchtour. Real life.
Merriweather 2 is overrated. I attended. It was ok. First set was forgettable. Bustouts dont make a show.
Dicks 1 is not the best show of summer. It was a good show, and an argument can be made for a tie with Dicks2.
Dicks 3 is overrated hard. 1st set is average. Second set is great. Therefore it falls in rankings.
Both SF shows may be underrated here.
clickbait works people.
I can’t see how anyone who listened to the shows could find Camden1, an therwise below average show with a great jam, in the same tier as Gorge3, Alpha2, MPP1, and Dicks3.
I put Camden1 in the same tier as BGCA2, in the “they played a lot of songs and did a decent job, but had some serious flow issues – check out that one big jam and that other solid one” tier. To not see BGCA1 ranked more highly than Camden1 makes me feel like there is a typo or something.
Not that anyone cares, but I’d put BGCA1 in the second tier with Gorge3 and Alpha2, behind Dicks1, Alpha1, and MPP2 in the top tier.
There's nothing that came out of Colorado "musically" that is worthy of even a tier 2..
So u got 1 show each at the 1st two tiers and 5 shows lumped together in the next few?
This is so far off and prob an epic troll job but it's stuff like this that makes me want to tell the MB Foundation and dot net to eat one..
The s**t that went down in Alpharetta and Walnut Creek and dare I say Austin was so much better than Dicks its not even funny.... Troll on...
What were some of you listening to this summer?
Completely independent sound of the BD & I fully expect Fall Tour to be stellar
Also, Miss You deep in the first set to set up an Antelope closer is a questionable placement. Still better than Sunday's show from 2017.
Finally, this show had 5 songs from Rift, which is somewhat unusual. Maybe Trey was feeling particularly contemplative for some reason?
Still spinning from three nights on the floor Mike's Side but back in the ATX seeking some perspective on what felt like an epic weekend (PS- thanks Right Siders between the soundboard and speaker stack- ya'll brought it hard and left it all on the floor all three nights). Night 1 felt like all business- no chatter from the stage, no ballads, no jokey songs- raw, passionate, and spectacular. And Trey's guitar tone sounds "fixed," that is- from the opening notes of Free it cuts right through the mix with that searing sustain we've been craving/remembering. Enter Night 2 as the cathartic antipode to Night 1. Starting right after Home with a blistering Wolfman's the show takes off with a sigh & a shrug and off we go. The Curveball monkey may still be on their back but it's smiling and nodding it's head.
And Night 3?
Like everyone else, I read the review above and respect the effort put in. Having raged the floor and now relistened to the show from front to back I offer the following alternative take:
Set 1 opens with the TAB newbie Soul Planet and the band hits us over the head with their 3.0 mantra- we love the new songs, so get on board. That makes SYSF, NMINML, Soul Planet as fully 50% of the set openers for Dick's 2018. Planet is a straightforward jam platform and it get's there quickly- no huge surprises but quality interplay all the way until the breakdown were Fish's high hat leads us into Possum. The floor around us went bonkers and the first of many glowstick attacks reigned down. First some silky Page lines and then a single peak from Trey and we are off and running!!!
And then we are not- long pause for the first true bust out of the run- Mellow Mood. A pretty straight take and a great sing along daaaarlin'. I'm personally pretty psyched that we collectively agreed that we could sing unobtrusively with our favorite band, a new experience that the BD took to great heights and we all seem to have decided is acceptable. This is then followed by the triptych of funk nastiness- Tube, Funky Bitch and Ocelot. Tube goes deep quickly thanks to Trey's use of his echo, gets reeled back in and we get a bit of hose before the break. A concise, quality Tube with a bit o' nastiness. The Bitch that follows also keeps it simple but tasty. The shuffling Ocelot comes next and once it dispenses with the formalities of chorus & verse it goes quiet. Then it builds slowly and starts notching up the tension (via the tried and true "anything but the eight" Trey formula). Trey seems to have officially broken in his CAE rig and we are witness to a trilling peak worthy of the venue.
Keeping It Real keeps it short and sweet, and surprisingly tight and bouncy. It seems Trey likes this Mike creation and even plays the melody line repeatedly in his solo before going slightly off the rails at the dismount. Good effort all around. Rift, the album not the song, then appears for MYFE>Horn and Maze. No flubs in the composed section of MYFE and in general all get a thorough workout with Maze reaching a typical fever-pitch peak.
I can hear the complaints of "songiness" as Miss You shows up next but I would like to remind the dear reader that each song thus far has been played with passion and pride- and by pride I mean pride in one's craft- AKA practicing the difficult composed sections to avoid flubbing or ripcording. Anyway- the song is poignant and blissful and leads us to Antelope. Mike grabs the reigns and does not let go of a good/great Antelope that closes Set 5.
The final set of the run opens with the familiar guitar & cowbell (the chocolate & peanut butter of rock n' roll) rocker 46 Days. The jam takes its time as Trey's fascination with his Leslie & sounding like Page continues. Mike hits us with a doubletime bass line at 8 minutes but it's not meant to be- the jam almost peaks but doesn't.
But the cowbell does.
And the cowbell will define the next two songs as Tweezer rises from the cowbell & synth mash up. And what a Tweezer- experimental in both tempo and playing with Trey eschewing the typical Tweezer riff for a chopped, muted note. It all lent itself to a dirty, dirty dance party on the floor. After Uncle Ebeneezer stopped by things got truly interesting- slow, dark, synthy followed by major chord bliss out but still within the unique tempo established from the top. And that cowbell infusion will follow us through a Page keyboard breakdown into Golden Age. This has been getting a lot of mixed reviews as Golden Age is played at the same slow shuffle as the Tweezer. I consider the Golden Age from 10/26/18 to be the pinnacle of 3.0 Phish and this version is a unique 180 degrees from that nugget at least execution wise. The tempo makes the verses a bit clunky to sing (and to remember Trey?) but Page rescues this bold experimentation by remaining on his clavinet for the first 6 minutes. It lends such a dirty tone to the proceedings that you cannot help but put your head down and shake your ass. The song doesn't build but instead shuffles.....and shuffles..... into a song that might could use a cowbell- Steam. Seriously- think about Steam right now but add a delicious cowbell line to it...... yeah. That'll do.
The Steam is slow, steady and surprisingly quiet until the screaming peak built into the song. Out of Steam comes a space segment broken by the hard snare intro beginning ASIHTOS. Standard good version with Trey's tone sounding particularly underwater. And now for a true curveball- Gotta Jibboo. We have finally shifted the tempo upward and Page and Trey's listening, responding & building are on brilliant display as the jam builds back to the chorus. Suzy and Zero finish off the set in typical rock star, power chord fashion, with kudos to Page for crushing both keyboard breaks on Suzy and for Fish for woodblocking (the cowbell's nerdy little brother) his ass off taboot . I think my crew burned a hole those plastic puzzle pieces on the floor. Glowstick rain, white hot lights, power chords. Yippie!!!
Horse>Silent as an encore seemed like an inside joke to last year but who gives a rip as that song is so pretty and anyway, Tweeprise is on deck. And here it comes, spitting fire all the way.
Overall Dick's Night 3 felt electric in the venue and the band sounds practiced, engaged and energetic. After Night 1 (an all-timer, in this crusty vet's opinion- never miss a Dick's Friday show?) I think Night 2 & 3 were super high quality shows but would be hard pressed to follow the energy/anger/release of the opening night's throwdown. Anyway.......If you read this far you deserve a medal. Thanks for your time and thank you to the band, the crew, the fans on the mezzanine, the ragers in the bowl, the freaks on the floor, the couch tour voyeurs and any/everyone who loves this community.
Matty in Austin
Dicks 1 Set 1 was great. Set 2 was average, nice Carini jam. Dicks 2 was overall pretty average. Dicks 3 was average but better than Dicks 2. First part of set 2 was the highlight for me.
Sorry to read you dont really get it.
I thought 46 through Golden Age was one of the most cohesive quarters of Phish all weekend. Though would still argue that Friday was the best complete show all weekend, and possibly one of the best of 3.0.
The shows that really stand out for me are the first two he mentioned: Dicks 1 & Alph 1. I agree those two shows were at another level. Musically, plus energy of the band and crowd, for me were the best shows. Then there were a bunch of other very solid shows (in no order): Merriweather 2, Raleigh, Gorge 3, Alph 2 & 3, Dicks 2 &3. Overall the band played very well, and with great energy, this Summer. Fall Tour is close at hand too!
TLDR: lighten up
I have found this tour much more enjoyable without all the pseudo-intellectual ass-wiping that has been going on here on phish.net this summer.
The boys have been ripping it up. This coming from a guy who nearly gave up on them in '16 and thought they were nearing the end. They are loose, in sync, kicking ass and taking names. Take your game-console armchair criticisms and shove 'em.
I'm sure you'll feel the same about my opinions as well. Fair game. But what the hell. Get a life, and then get a clue.
Dicks 1 had no issues that would drop it from being an epic barnburner by any Phish fan's expectations.
The truth of the matter is that the intellectual clique at phish.net are simply not happy unless they have something to bitch about. It's that simple. The shows are at or exceeding the quality level of Magnaball all summer. Expectations expectations. We all have 'em. Just that some of us have enough perspective to be aware that we have them.