Thoughts and Moments You’ve Enjoyed
Over the past few weeks, Phish built a tidal wave of energy rarely seen on the musical stage. Riding an overwhelming momentum the band delivered each night with a tightness not seen in years. Throughout June, Phish recreated their improvisational direction stepping into 2010 with a defined purpose.
As the dust from tour settles, and we prepare for the next run of shows, we have a chance to look back on the highlights from the first leg. While some shows indicated a hesitance to explore extended jams there were many exploratory jaunts that brought us to that place. These moments not only foreshadowed the great possibilities for August, but left us with memories that will stand out in our minds for many years.
Starting today the site will be returning to the regular flow of things – articles, reviews and such. We begin by looking back at some of the most transcendent moments from the first leg, analyzing each jam in detail. At the bottom you can vote on your favorite jam from the first leg.
Dropping two highlights in the first show of the tour it was clear the band intended to make 2010 special. From the outset Phish indicated a readiness to step out and explore their new sound, guided by Trey’s new style. This second set “Light” opener answered many of the questions that had been looming since NYE. A wide-open jam ensued that became part of the memorable segment of “Light”>”Maze”>”Ghost”.
A heavy bass-driven groove with Trey whaling above the melody line. The jam reaches a point of all-out rock before entering a section of syncopated space.
Arguably still the jam of the tour. This version reached way beyond any past rendition of the band’s new single, taking everyone in Cuyahoga through a vortex of psychedelic exploration. The jam begins as with a standard solo, similar to the album version, but then departs into a lush groove of ambient soundscapes. Each member helps to build the jam, piece by piece, as the music departs for a dark industrial segment. Page adds psychedelic sheets of sound, while Trey rides a droning riff that glides below. As Mike turns on his meatball, the jam reaches a point similar to the flatbed jam where each element builds toward a combined climax. This is the real stuff folks.
“Bathtub Gin” (6.15.10)
As the tour progressed, Trey became increasingly familiar with his whale-solos. This “Gin” saw Trey really find his place with his new style, and featured a soaring jam with numerous peaks.
“Down With Disease” > “Sand” (6.17.10)
I have mixed feelings about this combo. After a funk-rock jam on “DWD” Mike seamlessly connected the bassline of “Sand” producing one of the finest segues of tour. The jam that followed, however, showed Trey lagging behind the groove, failing to hit the note. Instead of allowing the band to take over, Trey stepped forward cutting the song short in favor of “The Horse”. Everyone, including Trey, knows how bad this segue was. Let’s hope Mike gave him shit.
A very tight syncopated jam emerges guided by Mike’s bassline. Both Trey and Page riff off Mike’s grooves. Several major/minor modulations take place. Trey latches on to a melodic theme throughout the latter part of the jam.
“Rock and Roll” > “Free” (6.19.10)
Throughout the entire tour Jon has reemerged as the drummer we all used to know and love. Fish shines throughout this entire jam, grasping onto the other member’s notes using them to launch the jam into several charging collective grooves. Trey and Fishman riff off each other like Jerry and Bill in this one.
“Chalkdust Torture” (6.25.10)
Many fans know of Trey’s advocated love for the 7.10.99 “Chalkdust” from Camden. Thus, there is little doubt that when Big Red chose to open the second set of Camden 2 with the song, he had his favorite version in mind. The song departed from its typical frame (as it did briefly at Festival 8), into what is arguably the other jam of the tour. The jam explores several sections of deep psychedelia in an onslaught of musical intensity. Weeks later, the energy is still jumping off the tape.
Phish carried a tidal wave of energy into their newest jam vehicle late in the second set of Camden night two. The jam erupted into a flurry of whaling leads before reaching an ambient section of percussive syncopated grooves.
“Piper” > “Ghost” > “Jumpin’ Jack Flash” > “Saw It Again” (6.27.10)
While strong jams often bring the most transcendent moments, liquid segues as we saw on the second night at Merriweather can also reach such places. Similar to the legendary Bomb Factory show, Phish wove a single song throughout the majority of the second set. This combination of energetic improvisation not only showed the band exploring their music, but also connecting their songs with hypnotizing fluidity. A fierce “Piper” acted as the improvisational centerpiece of this rare segment.
As oppose to 2009, which saw Trey stepping to the front in many jams, 2010 has brought a noticeable sense of patience. This has allowed the band members to listen more carefully to one another, using each other’s ideas to fuel their own. This divine “Reba” showed Trey sitting back as the jam slowly built toward a hypnotic climax. The whale has begun to lend itself particularly well to melodic songs such as these.
The band continued to push their newest jam vehicle throughout the tour, laying several memorable versions behind. This version enters a section of deep space that seems as though the music is playing the band, rather than the other way around. A rippling wave of energy from an alternate dimension.
“Weekapaug Groove” (6.29.10)
Throughout the entire tour “Weekapaug” consistently stood out as a highlight each time it was played. In the post-hiatus years, the band showed a willingness to explore “Weekapaug” (i.e. 2.22.03). This has carried into the 3.0 era, with the band regularly taking the song outside of its basic structure. In CMAC, the band began to take the song outside, before cutting their excursion short. After a section of rockin’ funk, the jam takes a turn toward a “Free” like theme. Music is being written from thin air…
“Piper” > “Ghost” (7.4.10)
This promising combination reappeared in Alpharetta on the 4th of July. While failing to reach the heights seen in Merriweather, this combination offered one of the highlights from the south. By the final shows of the tour, Trey had seemingly mastered his new style, using the whale with far greater comfort than in Chicago. In this jam, Trey can be heard exploring phrygian licks reminiscent of Miles’ playing in “Sketches of Spain”.