Soundcheck: 20 Years Later -> Moby Dick
SET 1: AC/DC Bag > 46 Days, Yarmouth Road, Devotion To a Dream, Free, My Sweet One > Back on the Train, Halfway to the Moon > Sparkle, A Song I Heard the Ocean Sing, The Line, Run Like an Antelope
SET 2: Punch You in the Eye > Carini > Ghost > Wingsuit > Rock and Roll > Harry Hood
ENCORE: Tube > Joy, First Tube
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Review by solargarlic78
Holy Second Set! Review 7/12/14
6 songs, perfectly crafted
Sometimes we say First Sets are unremarkable. Well, in that case, reviews need not remark upon them. The highlight might have been the hilarious self-deprecating moment where Trey claimed their botched ending to “Back on the Train” was rehearsed (it actually is oddly a hard song to get the landing right on). They repeated it once, and then to appease the crowd, again. Then, in a moment of rare self-awareness, Trey even called out his botching of YEM at SPAC as “planned.” In all honesty, the “Song I Heard the Ocean Sing” jam is worth revisiting — just a great type 1, soulful jam. As I argued, Set Is are best if they combine jams, bustouts (where are the bustouts in 2014??), and classical Phish composed sections. Last night really had none of those (maybe “My Sweet One” is a rarity these days?). “AC/DC Bag’s” jam barely got hot before Trey ended it. “Yarmouth Road” should really be shelved in favor of “Say Something.” “Sparkle” is now approaching overplayed status. “Antelope” is always fun (and dedicated to the “Dude of Life”), but this was a standard version.
But, sometimes Phish plays such an epic Second Set that the first set becomes “unremarkable” simply because there is just so much to remark upon in the second.
I feel “Punch You in the Eye” is better as a show opener, but, regardless, it is a good opener of any kind. This version, although sloppy, included some loose improvisation in the opening section — a sign of things to come. The “Landlady” sections and the ending in particular were rough (Phish had trouble “ending” songs all night!).
“Carini”, perhaps the jam-MVP of 2013, dropped next. This one was not about any kind of build or peak, but about a dense, texture of sound. This jam was perfectly hypnotic. As the jam started to venture away from “Carini”, Mike dropped a meatball (around 7:17), and a dense layer of loops and alarm-like sounds dissipated the jam into a slow mush. Around 9:30, Page (I think) starts playing this weird sounding hypnotic line (not sure what keyboard that comes from!?). Above that Trey would play these sparse, repetitive melodies, as Mike created a kind of wall of melodious bass sound. Rather than building, this atmospheric sound just got denser and more gorgeous. In the 12th minute, the jam once again dissipated into mush. While one would expect a “Carini” and “Ghost” pairing to feature a “->”, this one really did not. The jam completely ended, and then Trey started the chords of “Ghost.”
The “Ghost” jam is versatile. It can go several directions — cow funk, hard/edgy rock, blissful melodic, or spacious ethereal. Unlike other versions this summer, this one really started with a edgy rock feel — Trey was playing power chords, and pentatonic licks on the Am chord. As the jam started building through this rock feel, stunningly the jam turned on a dime to a D mixolydian “bliss” feel. All it took was (yet another) Trey trill on a D arpeggio to turn the entire band from A rock to D bliss. Really, it is testament to the band’s level of communication that they can pull this off so seamlessly. The interesting part of this D bliss section is Trey was kind of alternating between a more edgy rock sound (see, 8:25) and that bliss melodic feel. The jam hit a nice peak punctuated by Trey playing those octave phrases (which were all over this show). Then around 9:30 Trey found a loop-noise that he started repeating over and over again. The jam fizzled out via this loop into mush once again. This is where one would expect a standard Ghost jam to end — it had taken us from minor to major bliss. The journey complete. Instead, around 10:50, Trey started playing these punchy rhythmic lines and (again) octave phrases. Eventually, Fishman settled on a complex rhythmic base featuring a two-snare hit (it first hits at 12:22). Above this dense rhythmic stew, Page went to the clav, and Mike was playing these off-beat melodic lines. This jam was reminiscent of the SPAC Limb in its dissonance and rhythmic irregularity — circus-like insanity. This section is what makes this a special “Ghost” and perhaps, the jam of 2014 thus far.
After the craziness that just ensued, most agreed that “Wingsuit” was perfectly placed. This song literally gets better and better every time. Many have mentioned the solo at the end almost reaches “Slave-like” proportions in its soaring, beautiful peak @mrminer says its “Curtain With-esque”- which is more accurate). But, while “Slave” has a jam that starts quiet and builds to a glorious peak, in “Wingsuit” the quiet part is the song itself. The jam then erupts, but it actually has three sections to it. The first is the decidedly “Floyd-esque” chord changes (rising chords starting on a Gm) that sound like “Great Gig in the Sky” (except guitar rather than vocals soloing over). The middle jam sounds remarkably Phishy because it is a simple Lydian two chord jam on Bb->C (both major chords, giving that bliss feel). This sounds like “The Curtain With” (and also “Reba”) because those jams are also two chord Lydian vamps (Eb-F). It is important to point out that this Lydian jam did not exist on 10/31/13, nor does it appear on Fuego — it appeared first at Mansfield and it has been with us ever since. And, we should be thankful for this amazing addition. Finally, this jam ‘kicks’ back into the Floyd-esqe Gm chord progression (see, 8:09 this version) so that the song can end on those chords as the song was designed. This version’s Lydian peak was the best yet and, wow, I’m just in love with this song right now. It is often described as a “breather” or a “break” but not the case. This jam is a monster in its own right.
“Rock and Roll” continued the trend of not jamming out (type ii-wise) the cover songs. Perhaps this is what this summer is about — reserving Phish original songs for the most experimentation. This absolutely scorching version is again not my favorite style of Phish (Trey rock shredding), but in this context it was perfect. A rocking eruption out of very spacy, dissonant, and then melodic styles of jamming. It provided perfect diversity to the set.
“Harry Hood” came next and I was personally surprised to see this jam once again venture off from the standard “Hood” structure. While @MikeHamad claimed this jam “stayed” in D for its entirety, that is technically correct, but misleading. This jam retained D as its tonal center, but switched keys/scales three times. First, Hood is normally a D major jam over the I-V-IV chords (D A G). Very quickly, out of the “Thank you Mr. Hood” quiet section, the jam concentrated on the D chord alone and eventually modulated to D mixolydian. This is Phish’s favored “major key” to jam in (see Ghost D bliss previously in the set! Or DWD! or Gin! It is also the Grateful Dead’s favorite — see Star, Dark!) — it contains a ‘flat-7th’ note (in this case C rather than C#), which gives the scale a more bluesy and jazzy feel. You really hear that C note emerge as part of the melody around 7:05. As the jam vamped in D mixolydian for a while, at 8:18 Trey threw in the minor third note of F (as opposed to the major third of F#) which indicated a modulation from D mixolydian to D minor. Now, this creates a true blues-rock-funk feel which are often pentatonic scales over a minor chord. For the next several minutes, the jam takes on this blusey funk character with flares of D Dorian (a minor mode that works well with a minor pentatonic scale and is Phish’s other favorite mode…See, Antelope, Bowie, and countless other songs — when Phish jams feel “minor” they are often in Dorian). So, while this Hood jam was still in “D” this minor-blues vamp felt very different than your normal Hood jam (thus, the classification of “type ii”). In the 10th minute Trey was back vamping on those octaves again. Finally, at 12:15, on a dime, the jam modulated back to D major — all it takes is bring back that major third note F# back to the center and establishing the D A G chords to get us firmly back in D major and Hood-jam proper. Now, perhaps this version didn’t contain the “peak” we want (Trey instead decided to create a flurry of octave phrases again), but it was an amazing journey through the different tonal feels of D.
The encore of “Tube,” “Joy” and “First Tube’ was “tubular” and fun. Even if “Tube” remains a short funk song, its odd encore placement was surprising and enjoyable. “Joy” is actually one of my more favorite ballads and who can complain about a raucous “First Tube” to end the night with a bang. All in all, from the spacious, hypnotic Carini, to the peak->circus Ghost; From the glory of Wingsuit to the traveling Hood, this was a set for the ages. Filled with all different styles of Phish improvisation. What will come next? Don’t miss a Sunday show!