Monday, August 24, 2009
With all the love for 8/1 I've heard around i was pleasantly delighted to see this.
As if we were both riding the same wave for 6 shows straight, Mr. Miner AGAIN comes out with this terrific review that melds perfectly with my own thoughts.
I will never forget some moments from this show, moments which are burned into my memory like the opening notes of Mike's on 4/3/98 and the "we love to take a bath" from 7/3/00.
1. A truly mind numbing Melt in the pouring rain
2. The Drowned 2nd set opener...it was perfect.
3. The C&P transition. It literally smacked you in the face as hard as the rain had just a little while earlier, but with a much softer landing.
I think in the end, it all comes down to what are you going to pop in and listen to 5 years from now?
This set will absolutely be high on the list.
Friday, August 21, 2009
I've listened right up until the Sally vocal jam which is where things really take off, and i keep hesitating to put it back on.
Will it be as good as i remember? Was the atmosphere so great that it felt like a great show?
The day after the show while waiting in line for Pollocks i got some confirmation in the form of someone i likely know from my biscuits years but couldn't quite place who had "been to 238" shows and called the first night of Gorge "in the top 30."
That's saying something...i guess...
But was it? Are we even comparing 1.0 to 3.0? Pop in a show from 97 and its a different band playing. The songs are the same, but the energy is different. The sound is different.
Many people are claiming 09 is the "best" Phish ever. Clearly they are misinformed, because the best Phish ever happened when they were at their best...91, 94, 97/98, early 2000.
The question really is, should 09 be added to that list of great years? Will we be looking back 2 years from now saying that this summer run was legendary, or will the vast improvement the band has made since Hampton continue? Will a possible NYE run blow this out of the water? Festival 8?
I like 3.0. I think the shows are interesting, full of energy (different on each coast, but still energy), and getting more and more creative by the minute.
The fact that we had a show like the first night of Gorge only increases the likelihood that we will get more shows on this level and THAT is why people keep coming back for more and more and more...
Part of me really wished that they sucked, so i could go back to my 04-08 vacuum cleaner mentality to music and believe that Phish was done and creative music would have to come from somewhere else.
But as you can read below, the third night of Hampton hooked me again, and it wasn't even that good compared to what we've heard since.
I am definitely approaching a moment when i will no longer be lucky enough to have the time or funds to travel extensively in search of a great show.
But it's never going to stop, BECAUSE of shows like the first night of Gorge.
So without actually completing a relisten, i will agree with Mr. Miner, and flatly state that this was the best show of tour.
Miner's flowery language is a bit more than i would use, but its the right idea.
This show had everything i wanted from a phish show when i was still awed by large coliseums and vast amphitheater lawns. Much like 4/3/98 felt, a great show unfolds slowly and can peak at any moment. When they opened with Disease after just playing it at Shoreline i knew something was up. It felt loose and fun. And that's how i remember shows.
The anxiousness that I'd felt at every show since Hampton was finally removed after this one. They COULD play a complete knockout show from top to bottom, and looking back, it was a huge relief when they did.
The proverbial dam that was holding back any creativity broke open that night and the water continued pouring through during the rest of tour.
But i think anyone who listens to this show, especially anyone who was there, will consider this a watershed moment of this tour, and of this year (so far). I don't think Darien's Drowned>Caspian, MPP's 46 Days>Oh Sweet Nuttin and SPAC's BDTNL>20 Years Later can occur without the variety of improvisation we heard at the Gorge. It had to happen, there had to be a show where they worked and worked and worked at getting that unbelievable connection back.
I will stop typing very soon, but for me, THE moment of the show is the calypso jam where they add vocals. Some will recognize that adding vocals to an amazing piece of improvisation is an old school Phish occurrence that we haven't really heard in later years.
But when they started singing together, pretty much out of nowhere, it felt like someone had flicked a switch. I'm probably mangling it, but there's a Gordon quote somewhere about the music coming from the center of his body (like a care bear, my visual addition) and blasting out into the crowd.
And that's what it felt like. It was as if the four guys on stage all held up their power rings or something and captain planet came down from the sky.
Everything was moving in one perfect motion and they sang in JOY at a feeling they'd likely forgot was possible to achieve. It was the musical equivalent of standing on top of a mountain and banging on your chest and roaring at the top of your lungs.
Thursday, August 20, 2009
A Song I Heard the Ocean Sing
Songs i did hear that were a pleasant surprise:
The Sloth (First!)
Ha Ha Ha
Sneakin' Sally (First!)
Roses are Free (First for me since 4/3/98 i believe)
Sleeping Monkey (First for me since 6/30/00)
Cross-eyed and Painless (First!)
For the purposes of this file, there are two different segue notations: "->" and ">." The former refers to an actual segue, or when one song jams fluently and without interruption into another; the latter is used when:
1) One song stops and another immediately starts but there is no fluent jamming between songs;
2) One or more band members begin a new song as the previous song is still ending and there is no transition;
3) Two songs are played that are usually played together but do not actually segue (for example, Mike's Song > I am Hydrogen > Weekapaug Groove or The Horse > Silent in the Morning); or
4) A song that is typically a "lead-in" song is played (for example, The Oh Kee Pa Ceremony or Buried Alive).
Sometimes, the difference between a ">" and a "->" seems arbitrary or a matter of opinion. For this reason, we considered only using segue notations for actual jam segues (example number one above). Two arguments, though, convinced us that we should list both.
First, on many tapes (especially older, pre-1992 tapes), traders have traditionally noted segues without distinguishing between the two types. However, differentiating fluid, improvisational transitions (ie, the "->" symbol) – which are often among the highlights of a show – from routine transitions (the ">" symbol) gives fans a true feel for what was played and ably communicates the significance of a transition. Second, demarcating routine ">" segues from improvisational "->" segues aids tape traders in determining tape flips. No harm occurs in breaking up an uneventful, purely routine transition between songs. But an improvisational segue should never be carried over from side A to side B of a tape, lest the integrity of the segue be destroyed.
Wednesday, August 19, 2009
I know you clicked that link because you have no idea what a j-card is.
I am of the opinion, and this likely has something to do with my years spent following the Disco Biscuits, that a true segue has or does not have some very specific features.
In order for something to count as a segue, the band cannot stop playing. Period. Jams out of songs that end in an ambient fade away to SILENCE must be followed by a COMMA on setlists to signify that the song ended before the next song started.
Should another song grow out of the ambient fade or a band member start a new song before completely fading out then it is a segue.
Now that we've got that out of the way, let's move on to > vs. ->.
To say that a band "jammed into that song," there needs to be a clear moment when the improvisation morphed into the new song. For me, this is notated with ">" because there was nothing between the two songs. One literally melded into the other.
The best example of this on the recent tour would be the Drowned>C&P transition from Red Rocks. There is a clear moment when the band drops into C&P seamlessly from the Drowned Jam.
Most of the jams on tour however, are of the "->" variety, meaning that the jams petered out and another song was picked up without the sound stopping.
The reason i bring this up is because Drowned>C&P is not the best jam of anything. It is however the best TRANSITION and SEGUE we've heard this year.
There are some generally accepted best moments of tour that are emerging and i'll be going through them all to figure out what we really heard (it was massively different than the first leg of tour) and maybe call some "best of's." We'll see.
Here's the list as it stands now from my own recollection (shaky at best) and online chatter (hallucinatory at best):
7/30 Red Rocks
7/31 Red Rocks
8/1 Red Rocks
8/2 Red Rocks
Rock and Roll>Makisupa
46 Days>Oh Sweet Nuttin', Hood
BDTNL>20 Years Later
After typing this list out i just realized how prophetic i may have been after Hampton suggesting that BDTNL would become a monster. It's the launchpad for three jams on here as well as the conclusion of one.
Monday, August 17, 2009
It was a wonderful way to end summer tour back on the east coast with a hometown show with friends.
Merriweather as a venue pretty much sucks. The sound is damn near awful, the lawn has no line of sight to the stage and the bathrooms aren't big enough to handle a sold out crowd.
On the plus side there was ZERO security going in and they sell the biggest/cheapest draft beers i've seen on tour.
The show was...well...likely the worst i've seen this year barring the 46 Days>Oh Sweet Nuttin, Hood, which was epic. Great encore as well, but i feel like good encores have been saving shows recently, rather than topping them off.
Best Hood of 09. And i rarely say things like that.
The Tweezer>Taste was nice, but how can you kill a set with Alaska AND Let Me Lie?!?!?!? Especially after the painfully dull Time Turns Elastic to close set one...
Party Time was cool, and i hope it turns into a second set jam out of monsters like Tweezer, Ghost, Disease and Piper...it belongs in the middle of long type 2 jam sections that almost get lost for a second. It has the potential to be a crutch, but to also have Meatstick like longevity out of a tounge in cheek song.
All in all a decent show, and a nice end to a great summer run.
Saturday, August 15, 2009
Friday, August 14, 2009
Between the grandeur and greatness of two of the most incredible venues in the nation, some amazing moments of music, and seeing shows with old friends and new it's hard to conjure up enough words to write intelligently about any of it, but i will try.
The most popular question I've received is definitely "Red Rocks v. Gorge?"
There's no comparison.
Red Rocks is a drive in/out 9000 person natural amphitheater with scattered parking lots. The views from anywhere are amazing, there is no bad seat in the house (though you better be prepared to hike to it) and the sound is unbelievable. If you weren't staring at giant rocks and the lights of Denver in the distance with the moon rising behind you it would be hard to distinguish the sound from an indoor arena.
The Gorge, is, well...Gorge-eous. Sorry, i had to. Look at the f-in' pics!
It's a giant campground with a general store and SICK all GA venue. The view is expansive, the sun mellows behind the ridge just as the show starts, no large screens or anything and an extremely pleasant breeze blows through the entire show.
My only issue is the sharp incline of the lawn which made it easy to tumble or be tumbled on.
The two venues couldn't be more different and each pleasing in their own ways.