DWD began with a Pop Goes the Weasel tease from Mike, contained a San-Ho-Zay tease from Trey, and was unfinished. Trey teased Stash in The Wedge. Antelope contained Meatstick, Fuego, and St. Thomas teases. Character Zero also contained Meatstick and Fuego teases.
The weather held off and we were all treated to a stellar show. I, personally enjoyed the show very much:
The rare Buried opener was wonderful and well played which segued into a semi-rare first set Twist that got the crowd moving and involved early. A standard Heavy Things with a lackluster outro jam followed. 555 seemed to be lacking as well, and sounded as though it was one of the less suggested versions of the new song. Then the band picked it up: the Halley's > Gin was spectacular. A straightforward Halley's (as we have become accustomed to the past couple years) led to another succinct Gin that featured a jam that Trey led from the softest depths to emerge into a monster that just kept pelting the audience. Wingsuit allowed for a short breather as the guys took this one out for a ride as well that matched the previous Gin jam. DSky was well placed as dusk settled in and was meticulously played with a great improv section. The guys then took what seemed to be their first break to signal what was on board next: the first Upstate NY Wombat siting. The solo soundcheck, Wombat was well placed and funky as hell; this is a song that you just can't help but laugh and move. A tight, progressive Bowie rounded out the first stanza on a high note.
After a set like the first, we all knew the second set was gonna be a heater. Starting with a blistering Disease that featured several 'jams within jams' which explored various avenues like several of the second set openers thus far, this Disease is something of a must hear. Disease gave way to a fiery BotT which then set up the first NICU of the Summer. Standard, fun NICU led to the first Jibboo of 2014 that was just as hot as the Train. Theme emerged from Jibboo where Page was showcased and had some nice interplay with Trey and built up to a climax that saw Page lead into Theme. The Page onslaught continued through a well played Theme that fizzled into Meatstick. We all got our dancing shoes out and threw down the Meatstick dance (replete with Japanese lyrics). The shocker (to me) that ensued was the prior night repeat of Fuego; while not like it's past versions of Randall's and SPAC, this version was very Type I and straightforward before giving way to The Wedge; excellent placement as the final flow in a set that was full of peaks and valleys as it ebbed and flowed through the night before a spectacular Antelope that featured several teases and left the crowd yearning for more. As the band came back out for the curtain call and the opening notes, I looked at my watch and saw 10:50 and immediately realized that the Zero would be a relatively standard version that would have all of the audience beaming with joy as we left for the lots.
I was happy to have caught this show and it seemed to make up for the two previous local shows (CMAC '10 & Blue Cross '13) It featured some exquisite playing, a decent amount of boisterous moments and great placement and selections of new songs. Far and away better and more consistent than all three nights of SPAC last week. If this is any sign for the rest of the tour, any folks fortunate enough to catch them should be rewarded greatly.
Being There: Review 7/15/14
A Phish Show is a Good Thing
So, I’ve reviewed every show here. But this was the first one I attended. I thought I’d reflect a bit on why being at a show still matters. First, the negatives — I was in the back right of the pavilion and for the first four songs or so the sound was piss poor — everything was boomy, muddled and it was honestly hard to even differentiate between the instruments. I kept thinking, I would hear the music better if I was on my couch with ear buds via some guys crappy iphone stream. This is frustrating because I go to Phish shows first and foremost for the music — not for the ‘scene’ or the drugs or the ‘energy’ of the crowd. When you can barely hear the music, it makes you wonder why you’ve spent all this money and energy going to the show (and why you’re sitting there around thousands of bodies and you really need to pee— but you’re not sure if this particular song warrants a pee break). But, the sound improved as the set went along. Now the positives. This is not an original thought, but there is just something that does not translate to crisp live soundboard recordings about Phish music (combined with lights) as an entity. During the DWD jam, the propulsive groove emanating from the stage was a single force creating bumps and jumps in the musical flow. In @heyscottyb’s recap, he described the funk jam as containing “rhythmic stabs” which I think is a perfect way to describe it. But, these quick propulsive “stabs” were not only Trey’s (or Page’s) chords, but the bass, drums, and lights creating this grooving single force coming from the stage. You can’t get that on couch tour. The other obvious positive is the crowd energy/excitement — which is kind of a constant (to be honest, the crowd is much more psyched than I to get “Meatstick”) — but when you get a song that you really hoped for like “Buried Alive”, “Wingsuit,” and “Divided Sky”, your excitement is shared with thousands others. And, we all know that the really amazing moments in jams are shared moments of crowd energy (I keep thinking back to that moment in the Stash jam from Mansfield where the entire crowd has realized “it” just happened).
OK, onto the show/music. For exploratory jam seekers like myself this was a decent not so great Phish show. Comparatively speaking I would say it is one of the weaker shows of the Summer thus far. But, it was still great. Every Phish show is great! There will be some who will say it was “rocking” and “had good flow” and a show like last night appeals to probably a majority of the fanbase (and certainly a majority of the room last night). The second set was “songy” (9 in total when compared to the 6 song sets of Sat/Sun). On the surface, there was really only one notable jam in the DWD. However, I think a more nuanced view is that last night’s second set was a narrative showcase of Phish as a groove-based organism. That theme — groove — persisted throughout most of the second set — even if it did so through songs. I’ll also say while there was nothing “out of the box”, the segment of “Gin” through “Bowie” in the first set was an absolute blast.
@mrminer asked “what band was that”? (in the wake of Saturday and Sunday I guess he was deluded into thinking 6 song sets will always happen from this point forward). My answer would be a band with a mammoth and diverse song catalog that sometimes just wants to go on stage and play a lot of songs. It happens.
“Buried Alive” — YES! Nasty-Phish blues at its best. I was so psyched to hear this, but less psyched about the sound quality in the venue. As usual, this was a short rendition where Trey shreds it up on 5 cycles of the 12 bar blues, plays the melody one more time and we’re out.
“Twist” — Really loved this placement. It is a nasty, funky jam that really gets the juices flowing and a straight-ahead “Twist” (much like “Sand”) is more welcome in the first than second set. This version featured Trey not playing too many notes and patiently leaving lots of space for the other members to fill in the groove (a theme of the entire evening).
“Heavy Things” — Bring back the Trey solo! Or, at least do a Page and then a Trey solo. For whatever reason, this one also didn’t feature the “once” pedal of that high G note (explained on Trey’s rig video).
“555" — This is the most played song of the new album. This version seemed to lack the bite of previous versions. Perhaps its time to let it rest for a week or so?
“Halley’s Comet” — This song seems to follow me (that and 2001). Fun sing-a-long, but not much else. The transition into Gin was very nice.
“Bathtub Gin” — Well, we had to have a straight-ahead Gin eventually. But, a straight ahead Gin is still great. This version started with a bit of a vocal jam which usually signals a tighter adherence to the Gin melody in the jam. The early part of this jam is just thick full band goo. Trey again is really patient and leaves tons of space for Mike and Page. I also noticed that Trey’s guitar tone also (at least upon re-listening to the SBD) sounds the best its sounded all tour imo. He builds up to a standardly glorious Gin peak. People will say this one was extra special — don’t believe them. Every Gin peak is awesome; so much so that is really difficult (pointless?) to differentiate and/or rank them. That is why some extra type ii improvisation is so welcome to see as we did at SPAC and Randalls.
“Wingsuit” — I can’t remember the last time I went into a Phish show desperately searching for a song I’ve never gotten live. I’ve seen “Spock’s Brain”, “Daniel Saw the Stone”, and various other rarities (still want my “Prep School Hippie”). But, I’m obsessed with “Wingsuit” right now and was so very excited to get it. I can’t emphasize enough how this song builds through the structure of the song itself. Once the jam hits the song is already peaking — and peak on it does for the length of the song. Admittedly, I think this fits as a landing spot for a long exploratory jam. After the ferocious “Gin” peak, this was yet another, similar soaring peak.
“Divided Sky” — I could just feel this coming. We had had a lot of storms in the area the last couple days, but the show started with stunning weather — a clear beautiful sky and low-humidity. Trey really struggled with those sustained notes at SPAC, but his tone on this version is clear, warm, and beautiful. As @MikeHamad noted on Twitter, this version went through 7(!) rounds of the chorus which is really unheard of in 3.0. (btw, this is some of the most interesting chord changes in Phish’s catalog — D-Em-D-Bb-A-D). Trey was uncannily patient with his solo. He started playing very quietly. By round 3 or 4, he actually started playing chords in the solo (unheard of!). He eventually went high up the neck to deliver the third straight melodic peak.
“Wombat” — Holy crap — this funk jam is sick. The composed start got off to a bit of a rocky start and Trey was laughing too much to get through the “Fish TV show” bit, but the jam made it the best version yet. It only clocked in at 7 minutes, but it made me reflect how funk slows down time. It fits so much dense texture into so little time, it really makes you appreciate every ounce of music filled into the groove. If you want to appreciate life, listen to more funk.
“David Bowie” — They nail the difficult composed section and the jam is relatively standard even a it flirts with some major key themes. Little trick I employed last night: if you are living in a set-closing Bowie and have to pee, but want to avoid the setbreak rush to the bathroom, go when the jam transitions from a standard Em-D vamp to the C->D->Em changes that signal the song will end soon. Trey does his lightening fast arpeggios over these chords to end the song. Always. It’s a great section of music, but generally similar every time. So, you won’t miss much by hitting the bathroom (as I did) before the set break rush hits.
Phish took a 24 minute set break. Wow. These old dudes like to go to bed early I guess. Or, more likely, they are just generally psyched to be playing music right now.
“Down With Disease” — Third one of tour, and another indication that it seems like Phish will generally jam out their own originals in the first half of the second set slot. This jam established the groove-theme of the entire set (or was it “Wombat” that did that, er…had that?). After the standard A mixolydian Trey solo out of the classic riff, Trey, per usual, switched to rhythm guitar and established a rocking groove on an Em vamp. Very soon, the jam turned major (D) and we were once again in bliss-territory (starting around 11:40). This jam came close to “hose” moment at (around 14:20), but it didn’t quite “lift off” to the kind of peak we’ve heard earlier this summer. No matter, starting around 15:28 we get the aforementioned “rhythmic stabbing.” Again, this just doesn’t translate onto the recording. You really had to be there to see this groove punctuate on stage with the lights. Amazing full band groove improv.
For better or worse, Trey ripchorded this thick textured groove for “Back on the Train,” but what people haven’t really remarked upon is how the groove continued during BOTT. Not the exact same groove, but a really extra-thick and textured bass-drum based groove undergirded the entire BOTT. This is most obvious right before the jam when Trey is supposed to sing “It took me a long time to get back off the train” three times over the chorus chords, but it was almost as if he couldn’t escape the F9 groove he had created (the funk was too thick!!!). The rest of the band members tried to play “the song”, but Trey was ensnared in the groove. The jam was not your normal one-chord blues guitar build, but continued a thick groove-based jam. When Trey went back to the F9 chord signalling “the end” of the song, they didn’t finish it and instead segued into…
“NICU” — A rare second set appearance, and the first of the tour. This song also is incredibly thick and groovy (grounded, yes, in a ska beat, but translated through Phish textured goo, most notably Mike’s sick bass line). Really DWD->BOTT->NICU needs to be seen as its own groove-based journey, even if much of the groove had lyrics sung over it.
“Gotta Jibboo” — This is also a quintessential groove-based Phish song that was penned during Trey’s early TAB era where he seemed interested in creating repetitive bass-drum grooves (See also, “First Tube” and “Sand”). As @MikeHamad pointed out, this jam is “Reba in reverse” which is true harmonically (a V-IV jam instead of a IV-V), but the rhythm sections of the two jams are entirely different (even if Trey’s blissful soloing is similar above). This was a standard version. For exploratory jam-seekers like me, this was a critical point in the set. Had they taken “Jibboo” for a ride, it would have been a completely different story. They did not.
“Theme from the Bottom” is also a thick gooey groove in the verse section that, of course, peaks with the soaring, celebratory chorus. Well played version.
“Meatstick” is another two chord groove that features a nasty Mike bass line. Everyone was going nuts. I was less enthused.
“Fuego” — You could also argue that this entire song is really based on that one guitar riff, which, according to the accounts of the songwriting process, itself came from a Phish groove/jam that Mike uncovered. Obviously after SPAC and Mann, these late set, non-jammed out Fuegos are going to be slightly dissapointing. But, I was happy to get my first. And, this version (perhaps inspired by the rendition on Jimmy Fallon) saw the triumphant return of the delicate end-composed section.
“Wedge” — yet another groove song. This one is based on the very complicated drum beat.
“Run Like and Antelope” — My brother turned to me during the jam and said “Fuego-lope” thinking he had coined something really original. Not so much. But, this was fun. Some have suggested it harkens back to 93-94 tease-fests of Phish yesteryear. Yes, it does harken back, but 3.0 Phish does not pull it off with quite the same ferocity. Diego kidnapped Marco Esquandolas and we were on to a Character 0 encore (another needed pee break for me) and end show.
OK, so the last two shows I have seen were in Rochester and Canandaigua in Central New York. I don’t think I’m going out on a limb to say that both shows are probably seen as weak when compared to the rest of their respective tours. (Many ranked Rochester the worst show of the Fall). As a Central New York (Syracuse) resident, I have to say, what the f***? This is Fishman’s home region. Will you please show us some love? This show had “sleeper show” written all over it — undersold, out of the way, and on a Tuesday. Don’t get me wrong: I had a blast. The Gin->Bowie segment and DWD were well worth the price of admission. And, after Randalls 3, probably anything is a let down. However, I have a feeling that Detroit will be seen as the winner in this little Tues-Wed jaunt through the “Middle East” parts of the country en route to Chicago.
I'll keep this short but this is the one time I felt as though I needed to post a review of the show. This was my first show ever being in pit and I couldn't have been happier to have made the decision to go by myself. Normally I'm with a group of 4 or 5 people and we're attending shows as a way to reunite once or twice a year. While I love hanging out with my favorite people at shows, last night allowed for a much different listening experience due to how close I was and the fact that it was just me. So here's my mini-review! Cheers!
The band started with Buried Alive getting the shows energy high early on. Twist, Heavy Things, 555 and Halley's Comet were all pretty standard and played quite well. Bathtub Gin consisted of the first of many beautifully constructed solos throughout the night. Wingsuit was another tight and relatively by the book version. Then Divided Sky, one of my personal favorites, starts the amazing three song run that was the end 2nd quarter. DS was played with precision and as a musician, I get a god damn musical boner when they nail any composed section. Wombat came in for a funky filler before diving into David Bowie. I can't say enough to how tightly they were playing all night. Being so close and seeing Trey nail the composed sections of Bowie was fantastic!
DWD opener doesn't disappoint at all. I'm not the best at describing jams so I'll just say that you should definitely be listening to this if you're going to listen to any song from the night. Next up BotT and NICU provide short but sweet versions that were delightfully placed. Gotta Jibboo (used to be my least favorite song before the Boardwalk Hall show *11/1/13* changed my mind last year) was another chance for the band to get funky before Paige proceeds to give us some expert playing in Theme. Meatstick starts and assures us that we're still have a lot of dancing to do. Fuego and The Wedge we're both straight forward and played with precision leading into a powerful Antelope with quite a few teases. A standard and energetic Character Zero rounds out the show ending only minutes before 11 o'clock.
Overview: This show really stood out to me due to the accuracy of the playing and the excellently crafted set list. While there are no 28 minute jams or insanely rare bustouts, the show holds its own in the fact that it was so expertly executed, leaving me with an experience I will never forget.
I flew back from Colorado for my 20th high school reunion, & also was treated to a smoking hot dance party at CMAC, saw many folks I hadn't seen since college as well, energy in that place was awesome. Security attempted to keep people out of the aisles & walkways in the pavilion, but their efforts were futile, as they would sweep people out of the way, other pholks would swoop in behind them and fill up the spaces dancing up a storm. It was quite a waste of security, by the 2nd set they gave up & pretty much let people dance where ever. I ended up page side about 4 rows back from the stage. Highlights, Buried Alive>Twist set the tone Bathtub blew me away, another stellar Bowie. The whole second set was hotDWD, NICU>Jibboo, CMAC erupted during Antelope, no real breather time just kept going. Oh yeah that super flunked Wombat, dance party, first show this summer, killer, now I wait for Dick's:-)
Phish in WNY is a great thing, While i do my fair share of traveling for the band it is nice to be able to come back home to Buffalo( I live in Columbus) and take a short drive to CMAC. I got their a bit late and had to grab a ticket from the box office which was luckily still open. It was 2 of my friends first shows so their energy was really feeding my excitment for my first show of the tour.
Buried Alive-First one i've gotten and i was excited it wasnt a Kill Devil falls opener.
Twist-Woo Pretty standard version but the placement had me fired up even though it was not jammed like a set 2 would be.
heavy Things- Dancin in the Bathroom line, It's a good song and was placed well in the set, as far as not interrupting anything.
555- Groovy yet lacked the energy the last few have had, It would be cool to maybe put it in Set 2 and see what happens
Halley's- Kinda disappointing at this point fun to sing but it doesnt give you much else, and man this bathroom line is 3 songs long!!
Gin- I was hoping for another monster type 2 in the first set, but this jam was still great as a real rockin jam.
Wingsuit- This song has really grown on me since hearing at Halloween and being utterly confused, Trey didnt let mike use his drill though before dropping into Divided Sky but it was worth no drill for the beautiful and inspiring rendition of this song, They played the ending out more than i have seen and everyone was on point the entire song.
Wombat was a great funky dance party, Trey really get's into thte echoplex and lets Mike and Page weave their own funky lines in and out of it. Amd to Cap off a good first set was..
Bowie-MANNNN the boys were on point with the composed segments this show i didnt hear a missed note all night this bowie was getting to hose territory and was a great way to get everyone going before setbreak.
Disease- This is always a good start to the second set and was defiantly the basis for the rest of the set, while it was rockin and blissful at times it was all about the groove and sway of this one. While the jam was cut a bit short the transition into BOTT really wasnt as ripcorded as people leave it to be, i thought it was well timed and in good taste.
While keeping with the groove theme BOTT did its best to keep the dancing alive. Typical rendition and was a bit dissapointing it didnt go off the rails into deeper waters.
Again another good transition into NICU which apparently is the first one this tour so thats fun.
Gotta Jibbo is another fun groove song that keeps this set theme in tact. Again like the train it was fun but didnt get to where some might have wanted it to.
Theme was theme and a pretty standard version.
Meatstick- This song is just fun and always nice to do the dance, and it as well as pretyy much all the tunes transitioned nicly into the next song
Fuego- My friend before the show being the person he is said he really didnt like fuego the tune all to much. After this version that stayed in between the lines but was a nice jam into the end seguement, he was converted.
At this point we were on the lawn mike side all the way up front for all the show, When the wedge came on the security guard checking people into the pit ( who was dancing and loved the music all night) decided to leave and so we made our move down to get a closer look.
The Wedge was a nice little wrap up tune before the real end of the set
ANtelope- or should i say Fuegolope man this version was a tease factory and we loved every minute of it, the jam was straight fuego and trey was really putting on the mustard for this version while it didnt stray to far from type 1 it was exciting and really got people into the Character Zero encore.
As we left to go back to our KOA campground we were all happy, drunk and hyped up from the show we just saw. listening to it again i remeber a thought i had as i was driving to the show. My friend said this was supposed to be a sleeper show and really knock your socks off, but my thinking was that the band probably needed a break and while it would be a good show with some good tunes, it wont be remembered in the best of the best for this year. It was a great show but pretty standard over all with the exception of the bowie and antelope (who my friend after the first fuego tease turned to me and said fuegolope so yes im claming he started it)
Not all shows can be amazing type 2 jams with epic songs, it shouldnt be that way because then we wouldnt keep chasing the shows hoping that we will be at a show were something historic happens at.
Keep Chasing my friends
Just wanted to begin with a shout out to solargarlic. Man, we have seriously needed a voice like yours on this site, doing reviews, for ages. Seriously. The musicological know-how and your profound sense of balance (which I lack entirely) are excellent complements to one another. Just keep doing what you're doing.
So here's my take on CMAC 2014.
My title: Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde / Schizophrenia / "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times" / A tale of two sets
How's is that for balance?
First set: I thought the set list design for this one was top notch. A rarity opener, followed by an unlikely Twist, got my engines going. All in all, this set included four relatively long type 1 jammers. The Gin was a 3.0 Gin... but as has been said... very standard. The Divided Sky gradually ripened on the vine, was standout by its conclusion. The Bowie was fresh, composed sections were very tight. Coming off the best Wombat to date, the highlight of the first set really, and then this Bowie... I must admit that my expectations were very high for the next set.
By way of some commentary, I think CMAC 14 suffered from the blessing/curse of following up on an epic weekend out in NYC and one of the best shows arguably in a really really long time. The continuity of energy and flow from Sunday are evident throughout the first set, and even in some select stretches of the second set... but all and all, in the second set, Randall's quantum wave collapses back into particulate, Tuesday night, tired off a long run, cool television appearances, form. Living in the shadow Randalls... that may be the way we refer to these mid-week shows in years to come... or those two shows with the really cool posters. History will decide.
The second set starts off with a shit-ton of energy. This Disease is manic, frenetic. At one point, I became fully disoriented... and had difficulty telling if the sound was in the air or in my head... if you know what I mean. Seriously. What had me stoked at about the 15 minute mark was the absence of the usual, eventual, and even nearly inevitable ambient let-down we have heard in a lot of the longer 2nd set jams of this tour. The tempo was up and things were becoming very melodic..... And then came the rip cord... No comment. The last time we have seen a DWD BOTT intro to a later set was 10/31/10. Solargarlic is right to point out a certain amount of continuity between BOTT and the rest of the show, but I heard lots of Wombat intimations throughout... not necessarily continuities with the Disease jam itself. I was hoping for the long one, the big one, the type 2 BOTT I have always been waiting for... But then NICU hits. Ouch. Honestly, I'd rather have heard something off the new album. I feel like the second set re-set or really began for the first time during Jibboo. What an excellent jam! The rest of the set is really hit or miss for me. Theme had this perfect, interstellar, hypotactic outro, which I thought was going somewhere interesting... Fuego is just incredible always. It is starting to remind me of Light 09 or Ghost 97, in a state of total and continual evolution. It sounded to me like the boys tried a composed outro after some type 1 jamming... but I could be wrong. Just great though despite its shortness. Antelope... always fun. They teased the hell out of this one. I have never heard Page so involved in the mimetic Antelope fun.... The St. Thomas teases were really something special as always. That being said, I was hoping for the YEM closer. It seem slated for CMAC in my mind, perhaps it will hit at DTE. I have been chasing that one for a while.
All and all, a good time, a great poster. Here's hoping for some Midwest fall tour dates.
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