, attached to 2015-08-12

Review by DevinB

DevinB In lieu of a full recap, this show just deserves a glowing recommendation. Seriously, listen to it now -- right away, at all costs. There are so many wonderful things happening with this band in this moment that you will want to make an effort to hear them for yourself. That being said, there are a number of key observations that need to be made here...

1) The band has continued their streak of interesting first sets this summer with a wonderful standalone take on Cities that features a rich type II jam. The Stash that follows features an equally exploratory jam of the type I variety, and the BOAF -- while brief -- keeps an upward trajectory for the set. The other notable jam comes by way of It's Ice, featuring a second funky breakdown in as many appearances. Though on paper this first set may appear to be more conventional than the previous couple, its strength of performance more than makes up for its (relative) predictability.

2) The Line has proven to be a fairly divisive song since its debut and I generally find myself squarely in the "don't like" camp, but I felt it's placement last night optimized its potential by tasking it with the all-important cool-down role after three high-energy ragers. It worked beautifully here and I hope the band continues to use it this way.

3) It's awfully nice to hear Character Zero somewhere other than the encore slot for a change, isn't it?

4) Much has been written about this incredible second set already, but one key statistics demonstrates exactly how in command the band is right now. Yes, it was a five-song set -- really, the first in ages. With a 75-minute run time, that means you have an average song length of about 15 minutes. Though not unusual in a five-, six-, or seven-song set, it's important to note the running times of EACH of these songs as they relate to the average. Rather than have one 'signature' jam and a couple of standard readings skewing your average toward this mark, this set is incredibly balanced, with only Twist coming in on the high end and the other four songs just below the mark. The band let each one of these jams breathe and expand in an organic way before settling into a natural conclusion. They weren't watching the clock or consciously trying to elicit woos -- they were building improvisational opuses.

5) And speaking of natural conclusions, this second set almost seems like a conscious effort by the band to do away with the much-maligned "ripcord." Notice that it almost completely lacks segues, with only the absence of a pause between the conclusion of No Men and Twist being noted as such. There were no jarring transitions or battles for control a la the Carini > Waves transitions from Alpine two nights earlier. No, this was a band determined to find a natural conclusion for each song and, against all odds, managing to pull it off no matter how far out they took the jams. You will notice that they deliberately try to bring back the original theme or at least the original progression of each one of these songs before letting a natural conclusion emerge. This is an exercise in restraint that pays major dividends. Some may see the lack of segues as a detriment to the overall "flow" of the set, but I would argue that the lack of ripcords makes it more of a asset. I don't expect to see another set like this one for quite some time, but the skill they've nurtured here will enrich second sets for years to come.

6) Finally, I would like to welcome back with open arms the Scents intro, making its first appearance since Super Ball and only its second since 2003. This quirky, clunky addition doesn't lend itself to segues into the song proper, which explains why it has become a relative rarity, but it certainly adds a new dimension to the piece that can be quite enjoyable. Hopefully its success last night will encourage the band to keep it in their increasingly diverse regular rotation.

Again folks, I can't say enough good things about this show or, by extension, this summer tour. It's an exciting time here in Phishland and all us residents can sense a palpable change in the air. Whatever familiar patterns the band had settled into are slowly fading into oblivion and we are on the verge of a new frontier. There is no telling what will happen from night to night and it's a wonderful feeling! Kick back and take it in -- in a decade or so, people will look back on the summer of 2015 with the same kind of reverence we currently reserve for Fall '95 or Fall '97. And that, my friends, is a beautiful thing.


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