Friday, June 26, 2009

Audio Review: Manchester TN 6.14.09

So I've never gone to 'Roo and never even considered it save for the few times i've debated going down to work with a few friends in exchange for free tix and hotel.

I love festivals and all, but there's just something about THAT many people which makes it seem pretty unappealing to be there. I've always trended more toward the smaller (cheaper) festivals. Not to mention that since they un-jammed the festival the scene has gotten strange.

Regardless, it was pretty cool for Phish to be playing, let alone twice in one weekend.

Both set lists looked solid, but i had to listen to this one first.

06/14/2009 Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival, Manchester, TN
1: AC/DC Bag > NICU, Gotta Jiboo, Punch You in the Eye > Sparkle > Bathtub Gin, Character Zero > Tweezer* > The Horse > Silent in the Morning, Run Like an Antelope, Mustang Sally^, Bobby Jean^** > Glory Days^**

2: Rock & Roll^^ > Light > 46 Days, Limb by Limb, Farmhouse, Backwards Down the Number Line > Prince Caspain, First Tube

E: Suzy Greenberg > Tweezer Reprise

While no one seems to be talking about this as one of the best shows musically, i think the energy is hard to beat at any other show this year (sans Hampton...nothing beats Hampton.)

The first set is HOT. Great Bag>NICU. Decent Jiboo jam, but this used to be a freaking launchpad for craziness.

They nailed PYITE, which seems like its getting more slots in the rotation than in past years. Not that i'm complaining...

I hate Sparkle...I know people that started listening to Phish based on this song, yet its the ONE song that irritates me like no other. Can't explain it.

Good Gin with some really nice moments in the jam. A wankish Char Zero (i'm bored of this song) led into a real surpise...a mid first set TWEEZER! Yes, i will step into the freezer.

I thought the jam petered out beautiflly into the Horse>SITM. Hampton Silent was better executed i thought. Good Antelope and then the BOSS.

Mustang Sally was really good and as i was listening to the Bruce songs i thought, "Wow, they sound really tight..." Then i remembered that they all grew up in New Jersey and the first songs they ever learned how to play were Bruce songs. Glory Days was fitting.

Second set was pretty high energy, but i didn't get blown away. I'm getting the feeling this was one of those "had to be there" shows.

Rock and Roll is getting alot of rotation, but we're not seeing the monster improvisations. this one was very good though. I enjoy Light (new song) and i'm actually looking forward to the album this summer. NOT a fan of Round Room or Undermind, though some of those songs became nice jam vehicles.

Everyting else was fairly standard. I thought the first tube was a bit flubbed, but the encore was great! Suzy and Tweeprise to close out 'roo.

Seemed like a great show to be at, but sounded pretty average on tape. Who knows, maybe i'll change my mind ala Knoxville.

Pittsburgh Food Review: Primanti Brothers

By now, i'm sure you've either seen Primanti Brothers on the travel channel, suggested to President Obama on the Daily Show or somewhere else.

It's the place with the giant sandwiches piled high with french fries and coleslaw.

After the show we were HUNGRY and opted to drive about 45 minutes out of our way to sample the wares of this famous establishment.

It was exactly what i was expecting. We walked in to a small crowd and found some seats easily. Unable to put three brains together and figure out an order we opted to just get a few standby's and share it all. We ended up with Turkey, Corned Beef and Roast Beef.


While the fries were soggy and pretty bland, the coleslaw provided lots of flavor and crunch. The meats were top quality and the bread was solid, if pedestrian.

I can definitely see why this is a must hit landmark for all visitors to the 'burgh and a mandatory late night stop (open 24 hrs) for the boozers, but this is NOT something you can eat on a regular basis.

I hear the breakfast is really good as are the other more creative sandwiches.


Turkey: B+
Roast Beef: B- (meat wasn't very rare and made it dryish)
Corned Beef - B+ (not my style of corned beef, but still very good)

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Ahhhhh Page

One of the most widely spread comments after Hampton was how great it was to have Page turned up in the mix. Page was on fire (see reviews below).

The sound at Hampton was like nothing I'd ever heard before. So clean and crisp and each band member was perfectly audible.

This has not been the case over the summer, where sometimes i can barely hear Gordon and Page has definitely been turned down and Trey has been louder than he needs to be on many occasions.

Also, what's up with the short Squirming Coil endings?

One of the most beautiful moments from many shows has been the set ending Coil soloing. The interplay with the three instrumentalists fading slowly to a wonderfully improvised Grand Piano outro has been a career long highlight and i sometimes feel as if its just getting cut short now.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Pittsburgh Food Review: The O

Hot Dogs. Lots and lots of hot dogs. And fries!

I don't think CR ever wavered in her decision to bring us first and foremost to this piece of Pittsburgh history.

The place is built almost like three different restaurants.

When you first walk in you're presented with a wall of hot dog choices. and ONLY hot dog choices. Beef or mixed? I choose beef (kosher). The toppings are too many to discuss, but i went with spicy brown mustard and chopped yellow onions. Classic.

We will save the discussion of whether or not ketchup deserves to be on a hot dog if you're over the age of 7 another time, but the Mrs. insists on this huhribble treatment of dogs.

But while the dogs were great, every 'burgher knows why you go to "The O."

The fries.

We got a medium, which took up most of a cafeteria style tray. The fries were STUPENDOUS!!!

And best of all, they came with cheese sauce (excellent) and gravy (good, but not the best overall cheese fries with gravy I've ever had...).

Over at the fry station you could also get anything other than a hot dog...fried fish or chicken, burgers, etc.

When we sat down to gorge ourselves, i noticed that there was also a pizza making station. Insane.

And what a beer selection...just amazing.


Hot Dog: A
Fries: A+

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Pittsburgh Food Review: Aiello's Pizza

As if we needed more food after The O, the lot, Primanti Bros and Pamela's (reviews for all coming) I jumped out of the car and ran down the street to CR's fav "cuts," Aiello's.

Now, it probably won't surprise many that know me, but i'm a little bit of a pizza snob. So i was certainly a little weary (not to mention queasy) about what kind of pizza i would find in the burgh.

When i walked in i was greeting with the familiar smell of singed dough and melting cheese. Good start.

Two Italians (or close enough) bantering back and forth inaudibly while patting out dough. Excellent.

What appeared to be a set of regulars who have been occupying the same space every day for 23 years in the back corner. Beautiful!

So with some trepidation removed, but a sliver of doubt remaining i ordered a pie to go (which they understood...some places don't call it a pie). Threw it in the trunk and headed back to DC.

By the time we got back to DC we were hungry and busted straight into the cold box of pizza. And it was good. Later in the evening i reheated some and that was very good as well.

Differences i noticed:

The cheese is not straight up mozz. There was def some parm, maybe some asiago or something.

The sauce was sweeter and more flavorful. The sauce in NY serves as more of a glue to keep everything together and provide a background flavor. I felt like the Aiello's sauce had a bit more body. It was thickish, whereas NY sauce is very thin.

Overall Grade: B+

Where are the loop jams???

Ok...i started this post this morning before getting to 6/14/09 and hearing the loop drop in Jiboo. But that's still not enough. Mostly because i think Trey turns it off after a few moments.

The loops are not just a musical action, it sets the tone for the upcoming improvisational activities.

The loop signifies that everyone needs to chill and get comfortable because this piece of music is going to take a a really good way. It helps the band members find their groove and helps the audience (at least me) move to the proper frame of mind.

If anyone has seen the loops, please let me know.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Audio Review: Knoxville 6/10/09


i know these are incredibly out of order, but i'm trying to get through all of these shows as quick as possible.

I think i'm going to save Camden, DC and the 2 Alpine's for last since those seem to be the shows everyone is raving about.

06/10/09 Thompson-Boling Arena, Knoxville, TN
Set I: Runaway Jim, Punch You in the Eye, Ocelot, Foam, Train Song, Undermind, Mike's Song> I am Hydrogen> Weekapaug Groove, The Squirming Coil, Character Zero
Set II: Back On The Train, Waves> A Song I Heard The Ocean Sing> David Bowie, Army of One, Reba, Hello My Baby1, Julius, Cavern, Harry Hood
Encore: Frankenstein

1 Last Played 12/5/1999 (135 Shows)

Good friends Ev, Bri, Kelly, Stitch and Jenny were at this show and while i haven't spoken to them about it, word of mouth has led me to believe this was a good one.

Lots of energy with Jim and PYITE. Ocelot is fine, but nothing special. Ditto for Foam (tight) and Train Song (nice bustout). After Hampton, i'm a big Undermind fan.

Previously i wrote that "The Mike's Groove was OK."

I'd like to revise that statement. While nothing completely mind blowing it was maybe the tightest Groove that we've heard this year. Smooth transitions, nailed Hydrogen and well rounded Weekapaug.

Decent (but short) Coil and Char Zero.

Second set was where this show was at for me. Funky GBOTT and i LOVED Waves->SIHTOS.

I want to re-emphasize that last point. There are a few songs that I enjoy from 2.0 and neither of these were on that list until recently. This is a nice glimpse as to where the band could be taking us in the future.

The Bowie and Reba had some great moments, but is there anything better than hearing what you think is a set ending Julius, Cavern only to be blessed with the descending tom hits we all know and love as HOOD?!?!?!?

I say not.

Hood has definitely been a highlight since they've come back. It's been played often, but played well, and allowed for some of the best exploration and build and release on the tour.

Quick Thoughts on PBurgh

Overall, one of the better overall Phish experiences i've had.

Great lot scene. Great venue. Great show.

Many thanks to CR and her crew for showing us a good pburgh time.

First Set Highlights: Wolfman's, Tube

Second Set Highlights: All

I want to re-listen before providing any more insight.

Can't wait for RR!

Friday, June 19, 2009

Thursday, June 18, 2009


I meant to take a pic of the food but its all gone...


Hello my baby
Loving cup

Set two


Set One





D sky

Heavy things

Walk Away





Burgettstown Opener



Big crowd

pic cleanup: page during coil @ JB

Lots of hotdogs


Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Live Updates Tomorrow

I will be updating LIVE from the City of Grease....err, Pittsburgh. According to Wikipedia its actually the City of Bridges, or the City of Champions, or the Steel City, or the Iron City. All i know is that they put fries and coleslaw on their sandwiches so they get an A+ in my book.

CR and her crew will be guiding us around so I'm sure there will be plenty of pics to post.

Audio Review: Asheville 6/9/09

06/09/09 Asheville Civic Center, Asheville, NC
Set I: Kill Devil Falls, The Moma Dance, Sample in a Jar, Stash, Dog Faced Boy, Gumbo, Tube, Lengthwise1, The Divided Sky, When The Cactus Is In Bloom2, Bold as Love3
Set II: Backwards Down The Number Line> Ghost> Fast Enough For You, Halley's Comet> Maze, Alaska4, Theme from the Bottom, Golgi Apparatus, Possum
Encore: Loving Cup

1 Last Played 7/28/1998 (230 Shows)
2 First Time Played (Bill Monroe)
3 Last Played 10/6/2000 (74 Shows)
4 First Time Played

Don't know anyone who was there so i don't have any first hand accounts to bounce this against.

There was no song in here that i stopped the ipod and said, "i've got to hear that again," but it was a pretty solid show from top to bottom. Good song selection, some nice energy.

Apparently Kill Devil Falls is now an opener we should get used to (see the Fox from last night).

Bold as Love was a nice bust out and one of my fav covers...the Ghost seemed to go places. Not sure how i feel about Alaska yet. Seems like another honky tonkish rocker.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Review - JB1 6/2/09

06/02/09 Jones Beach Amphitheatre, Wantagh, NY
Set I: Runaway Jim, Foam, Stealing Time From The Faulty Plan1, Timber (Jerry the Mule), Cities, Driver, Reba, Possum, Farmhouse, If I Could2
Set II: Mike's Song> Simple> Wolfman's Brother> Weekapaug Groove, When the Circus Comes to Town, Kill Devil Falls1, Harry Hood, Loving Cup
Encore: Suzy Greenberg

1 First Time Played
2 Last Played 6/28/2000 (101 Shows)

It was a scene all too comfortable, and yet it shouldn't have been.

Phish (and the accompanying circus) at Jones Beach felt perfectly placed. A large expansive lot right on the beach. A full shakedown complete with food, crafts and other vending.

But within minutes it became clear that this was slightly different. No clear drinking allowed. Cops in full dress were patrolling the aisles giving out tickets and arresting people for alcohol violations. Undercovers were swarming the lot, making it hard to figure out if they were trying to be "undercover" at all. There was a holding cell on site with a judge that was exceptionally efficient in getting people processed and bailed out.

But enough about the scene.

This was a reunion show in more ways than one. I was at a show with Wurtz (who i took to his first show...or rather he drove us since we didn't have licenses yet and i had the ticket to his first show), and Evan, who I've seen a ton of shows with over the years (Hershey, Philly, Nassau, BKNY).

Having been at Hampton, i think i didn't quite appreciate the excitement building in my friends. At Hampton i was dizzy with anticipation, literally holding my stomach as we tried to enter the building.

Here i was joyous. Truly thrilled to be back on tour. And in my hometown nonetheless.

Amy and I spent a little while chillin at Wurtz' ocean side abode waiting out the rain before heading over. Did a quick lap before meeting up with Evan and his crew and headed inside to our actual seats, which turned out to be great.

Nice opener with Jim, nothing special though. A tight Foam, led into my favorite new song right now "Stealing Time From the Faulty Plan."

Aside from its infectious repeating chorus of "I've got a blank space where my mind should be," i thought the rock composition was natural and not forced as some Phish rockers end up sounding, especially upon early listens.

Timber is one of my favs and I'm not sure that I've heard it live before...good version, a little first set jamming. The Cities was FUN-KY. I loved the groove at the end that they get into.

Driver was standard. A good song that I've never loved. It was always placed with Albuquerque or something during the acoustic breaks in 99-00 and i while the songs are good, i was never a big fan.

Reba was hands down the first set highlight. I can still hear the jam shift in my head. Type I jamming, type II jamming. It was all there.

Nice high energy Possum followed by a standard Farmhouse and a not so standard If I Could.

I've already talked a bit about the strangeness that followed the ending of If I Could, but i would like to re-emphasize the soloing at the end. Beautiful and amazing.

Quick set break and we're back.

I feel like no matter how many times i listen to this set, I'm still not sure where to place it. It was a set filled with monster songs, but no monster moments.

The Mike's jam seemed to be going places but then sloppily landed in Simple. The Wolfman's was a treat in that slot, but again seemed to just sort of end up (via Fishman) in Weekapaug.

I always like a good Circus, and then we got Kill Devil Falls, which we all decided sounds alot like Birds of a Feather (and had confirmed the next night). It's a catchy rockish tune (that i cannot get out of my head in a REALLY bad way) that I'm sure could lead to nice moments in the future. TBD.

Hood was tight. Excellent jam section, multiple builds, multiple releases, but again, the ending just sort of happened after all the incredible peaking.

Loving Cup is always great and who is going to argue with a Suzy encore. I like my Suzy's a little longer with an OKP intro, but this was a nice way to end the show. Seemed like they were getting close to the 11:30 curfew though and were rushing a bit.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Reviews Coming

I have LOTS of listening to catch up on, (i'm only halfway through the 6/2 show...) so as soon as i finish those i'll post my reviews.

I'll also do a quick dump of Fenway, Mansfield, JB3 and Camden after listening to all of those. From the looks of the setlist, i'm thinking Camden may be THE show of tour so far.

Just over a week till Pburgh!

Friday, June 5, 2009

Initial Thoughts Jones Beach 6/4

First Set...unbelievable.

Divided Sky might be the most impressive piece of music I've heard since they came back. Legendary.

Good Ghost, but i still pine for the space funk of the late '90s. A little too much fuzz on these 2.o/3.0 versions.

Second set...TBD.

Drowned->Meatstick was really fun. YEM was...well, YEM.

I guess i have to say something about Time Turns Elastic. Some parts i absolutely loved and thought brought great energy. Other parts really made me wonder if its a set killer. I think in the future placement will be key. It's an opener or an encore. It definitely sucked the wind out of the second set and though Waste was better than it was in Hampton (but not as sentimental), by time you got to YEM, it seemed as though they were reaching for a life vest.

Wurtz and i were discussing this on the way home since i was a little surprised at the repeats of Ocelot, TTE and YEM after just one show, but i guess this is Phish's way of telling us that there will be plenty of shows and they don't need to play their entire catalogue before repeating any songs.

So my advice is to savor the bust outs, because you never know when you'll see it again and don't fret the quick repeat. If Trey is happy to be playing YEM every day for the rest of his life, then I'm ready to listen.

Thursday, June 4, 2009


Rock and roll

Set two

Water in the sky
Meatstick w/ japanese lyrics
Time turns elastic

Jones beach 6/3 set one

Divided sky
Squirming coil


Grind (accapella)

Night Two

First night pic

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Quote of the Night

Forgot to post this yesterday.

"Nice...a shirtless dude." - ET

I wasn't really sure what to say so I just jotted it down.

First Impressions June 2 Jones Beach

Some shows knock you off your socks immediately.

Others grow on you.

Some just end up being mediocre.

I have no idea where to place this one yet.

They were tight. Tighter than Hampton, but still searching each other out. I've seen lots of stuff about the rehearsal sessions etc, but live improvisation in front of thousands of people is different.

As you can read below, 3rd night of Hampton was when it came together. Nicely woven sets. Interesting jams with fun interplay and smooth endings and transitions.

I haven't heard Fenway yet, but i imagine a similar trajectory will occur on this tour. The more shows they play, the better it will sound.

It was good. Definitely not bad. The first set was incredibly tight, but i thought we were missing something to close the set. The outro of If I could was incredible, but the energy was very low and a short rocker would have been cool.

Speaking of rockers, both new songs were OK. Personally, i can pass on Kill Devil Falls, but Stealing Time From the Faulty Plan was good and i hope it stays in the rotation. It would have been perfect in the set ending slot.

Last night we were all saying second set better than the first, but I'm not so sure. I'll have more to say after the re-listen. The transition from Mike's to Simple was sloppy, but the jam was nice (both songs). I actually enjoyed the Fishman segue into Weekapaug, though it was half brilliance, half rescuing the jam. Hood flubbed, again...

Seemed like the curfew was closing in fast, but Loving Cup and a quick Suzy was a good way to end the show.

As I'm writing this my initial impressions are fading into second thoughts. First set may have been better. Jim was great. Foam tight. Timber amazing. Cities appropriately funky. Reba better than Hampton. Maybe more highlights than the second set which was more exploratory. The Hood jam was probably the highlight of the night for me, but it settled weirdly and felt that they sort of fell into the closing section after stringing together some nice peaks and valleys.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009



Set two

When the circus comes to town
Kill devil falls NEW
Loving cup

Set one

Runaway jim


Stealing time from the Faulty Plan (1st time) NEW

Timber ho (jerry)






If I could

Jones beach june 2 opener

Runaway jim

Ready to rock