, attached to 2014-07-09

Review by solargarlic78

solargarlic78 https://medium.com/the-phish-from-vermont/96c76463f7c8

M(eh)ann2 (I’m really sorry)
Covers return but don’t go anywhere

From what I gathered on Twitter most people LOVED last night’s show. I’m just not one of those people. It was a good show — it was a Phish show. But, the second set — while witnessing the triumphant return of a couple signature covers — really did not go anywhere interesting after a 17 minute Chalk Dust that was amazing in a way, but also a bit schizophrenic. Of course, many people did not like Tuesday (which I loved). Go figure.

From what I hear, some great fans had a massive “Glide” sign in the front of the crowd. In what is becoming a summer shed tradition, Phish obliged the sign request. I missed this stream of this song, and heard it was badly botched. We are approaching the 10 year anniversary of the Coventry Glide. So, obviously any talk of a bad Glide sends one immediately into the fetal position screaming, “No!!! He’s back on the oxy! No!!!” This “Glide” was not that bad. Once it hit the dark section, Trey completely fell apart, but the rest of the song was relatively well played if not entirely crisp. It is a really hard song, and we should be thankful they even try it 3.0 (especially on a crowd-sign whim like last night). In a adorably self-aware moment, Trey stepped up to the mic after and said, “That was our interpretation of that song.” He then said some stuff about rocking faces which didn’t appear to make sense in the context (help?).

“Sing Monica” — I still really enjoy this song. It won’t be long before it makes me want to hurt myself.

“Birds of a Feather” suffered from a constrained tempo and the jam did not create any significant fireworks. I would like to start a movement for only set II type II Birds.

“Wolfman’s Brother” — This one kept to the formula I discussed last time it was played. Fun as usual, but predictable. Its placement brought up the fact that Mann2 is the first show with a really significant amount of “repeats” (3 of the 4 first songs).

“Sugar Shack” — In the most memorable part of Bittersweet Motel (for me, anyway), Trey asked Mike what he thought of last night’s show; to which Mike answered, “I thought you played too many notes.” Trey laughed evilly, and replied, “Aww come on, you always say that!!” From that moment many fans got an inkling that Trey sometimes does not give Mike his due respect. Another example of that is his consistent flubbing of this Mike penned song on an admittedly weird (even for Mike) and difficult guitar riff. The first run-through of the riff went well for Trey, but he started the second round too early, and had to restart. However, it did seem to me that this version had an extended jam over the changes which was kind of cool.

“Alaska” gets a lot of hate. It is for sure a very silly song over some hackneyed blues changes. But, as someone who plays in a Phish tribute band, I have to say: this song is fun to play and sing. We, as fans, often don’t consider that. Something we don’t enjoy to listen to can still be a blast for the band. (A side note: this is also a great song if you’re playing a bar — the clientele immediately smiles, nods their head, and orders another drink). Another cool musical thing about “Alaska” is that its jam is not a standard “blues” jam over I-IV-V changes. It is a one chord vamp over a G chord (which is the V chord in the song). When Trey sings, “I’ll stay right here” the band does just that — sits on the G chord for the whole jam. What is bizarre to me is that this jam is almost a carbon copy of the Ocelot jam — a droning one chord bluesy jam on a B chord. Given they were written in the same period (2009), it’s strange to me that Trey would feel like he needs to add to droning one chord blues jams to the repertoire.

“McGrupp” — Obviously the highlight of the set. If you don’t like this song you should consider getting that checked out. A couple hiccups with missed chords (even by Page!), but overall a pretty well played version. The middle piano solo was longer and more interesting than usual. A little geekery: for reasons I can’t understand, in 1993-1994, there was an extra “He looks to muuuchhh” when compared to late-1980s or 3.0 versions.

“Stealing Time from the Faulty Plan” — Standard version of a song I don’t care for that much.

“Horn” — Any song off “Rift” is welcome in my view. This is a nice song with a pretty little guitar solo. It was a well played version.

“Devotion to a Dream” — Since Trey has apparently ceded the “Heavy Things” solo to Page, this one appears to be the heir to a Trey happy solo that sounds kinda like Jerry Garcia (see also, #line). Like “Sing Monica”, I’m still enjoying this one for now.

“Silent in the Morning” — The horseless streak continues. What’s the deal? Trey just doesn’t want to relearn the complex classical guitary intro? Another “Rift” song is nice.

“Antelope” — This version clearly had “been to you have any….extra mustard.” It reached a level of truly insane circus-like mania in the middle of the jam, and then finished with a great peak. Even the end-section was interesting with lots of wah and loops over the normal lyrics. Fun!

Set 2 — Sometimes Phish seems more interested in going to the next song rather than letting jams breathe. That was the case last night. Great songs they were, but not much in the jam department.

“Chalk Dust” — When Trey starts of a rocker like CDT this slow you should expect it to go type ii. The type i CDT jam depends on the frenetic high tempo shred-fest. When it is slow it can stretch out — and that’s what this one did. This jam was really cool, but, in my view, just never settled on anything. It literally migrated from theme to theme and nothing ever stuck. There was a dark minor section, a middle bliss/melodic section, and a Manteca-esque coda — but the first two of these “three” sections probably had 10 or so different melodies or themes played. It almost seemed like Phish was doing one of their classic “listening exercises” — once the band locks into a melody/groove, they must quickly switch to another one. Their ability to do this so fluidly is a testament to their cohesive communication as a band. Bravo. But for a listener, it is frustrating — I kept thinking, “Aw man, this theme is so cool, now lets see what they can do with it.” But, then they were onto the next theme. This is all a way of saying this jam was not very patient. I prefer jams that develop a simple theme over a long period to some kind of crescendo. The Dicks 13 Chalk Dust did this. The MSG Chalk dust, imo, was similar in its searching schizophrenia.

“Wingsuit” — This was the closest we’ve gotten to my desire for a long jam->Wingsuit. They really need Fishman to count this one off to come in with the right timing — and there were still weird loops from the CDT jam when he did it this time. Man, this solo is just amazing. I can’t remember the last time I was this excited about a simple type i Trey solo. Maybe “Theme from the Bottom”?

“Winterqueen” — Not great placement. Similar to “Wingsuit” in that it is slow and ballady and then erupts into a pretty beautiful guitar solo. This one was way better played than the SPAC version fwiw.

“Twist” — Given the incredible versions in Fall 2013, we might expect more from “Twist” this summer. To be fair, this was a nasty type i version. It is one of those type i jams that featured dynamic interplay between all four members (esp. Mike and Fish).

“Crosseyed and Painless” — OK, you can’t explain away this one. A true cover and a final confirmation that Trey’s claim in Rolling Stone that they won’t be playing “many” covers is what is happening this summer. It is probably my favorite jam-vehicle cover they do and the crowd reaction was amazing. The problem is the jam went nowhere. It was Trey soloing over the chords, back to the “Still Waiting” refrain, and into really amazing open jam territory that was quickly aborted for “Waste” (which might be classified as the third ballad of the set!). I cued up all the versions I have of this song in my itunes library (which is most 3.0 versions) and this was far and way the shortest at 8:26. This was a pivotal moment of the set, and they went the wrong direction.

“Mike’s Song” — No second jam, no type ii jam, but to be fair this Mike’s was really cool. It had some Wingsuit teases, some nasty playing from Page on the clav, and a section that almost appeared like it might “lift off” into a type ii jam. But, alas, we were dragged back kicking and screaming to the main jam chords, and onto the 4X D,E, F#m power chords (out of some really cool loops) and chromatic run ending. Some day, folks. I promise.

“Sneakin’ Sally Through the Alley” — Very nice song choice in a Mike’s groove. But, like Crosseyed, this one did nothing. Unless you consider a vocal jam “something” (Robert Palmer never did a damn vocal jam — why does Phish? I prefer the 12/30/97 non-vocal jam version). Usually, after the vocal jam, there is a nice little funk jam that often exceeds the normal chord structure of the song. After this vocal jam, they just oddly started playing the chords slower and slower until it ended. And, then they ended the set?! Huh? Seems like they should’ve played Weekapaug at least and then left the encore slot for something else.

In the end we got a “Julius”->”Weekapaug” encore. The “Julius” included a rare organ solo from Page which was cool to hear, and, as usual, the “Weekapaug” was typical-great and featured alternating sections of soaring Trey solos and groove-tastic funk.

In my view, both set 1 and 2 were inferior to Mann1. I would even go as far to say that this show and SPAC3 are vying for the weakest of summer 2014. But, still: the Chalk Dust was cool even if it didn’t really “get there.”


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