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Published: 2010/08/31
by Charlie Dirksen

Phish’s Summer Tour 2010, Continued: Great Songs, Less Jamming, But Does It Matter

Yes, there were a lot of bustouts in the last several months, not only of new covers (e.g., “I Am The Walrus”) and old covers (e.g., “Quinn the Eskimo”), but also of Phish rarities (e.g.,“Fuck Your Face” and “Lengthwise”). So in claiming that there has been less jamming on this tour than in previous tours (generally speaking) is not to say that Phish hasn’t been great this year, or that they must play a 30 minute version of “Backwards Down the Number Line” or “Tweezer” in order for them to be true to some bogus notion of who and what they once were and/or are supposed to be today. It is just curious that so few of even the band’s most customary vehicles for improvisation ever soared off the road previously traveled this Summer into risky, potentially transcendent, territory. After all, Trey proclaimed in an interview during the so-called “second hiatus” that he’d give his left nut to play “You Enjoy Myself” again, and now that he’s playing it again, where is the version of “YEM” that, instead of sounding more or less like every other average-great “YEM,” champions the greatest versions in Phish history? (Did Trey actually give away his left nut!?) On the other hand, as the immortal refrain of “Bug” goes, “It doesn’t matter.” Like Trey, we still love “YEM.” It is a welcome addition to any set of Phish.

And, no, I am not going to engage in speculation that Trey’s sobriety is somehow responsible for Phish’s failure to perform something along the lines of the Orlando Stash (11/14/95), Nassau Tweezer (2/28/03), Deer Creek Cities (8/10/97), Providence Bowie (12/29/94), IT Ghost (8/3/03), St. Louis Reba (8/16/93), Dayton Tube (12/7/97), Alpine Piper (7/19/03), West Valley Mr. Completely (7/15/03), Riverport Gin (7/29/98), and so on. And I am not so disappointed by Trey’s occasional flubs that my perspective on the shows in 2009-2010 as a whole is unreasonably biased. As auricularly painstaking as winnowing out the flubs and setting them aside may be to some, if you can’t still have any fun at a Phish show, then what are you doing there? And while it may not have been clear at Hampton last year, it has since been established, with extreme prejudice, that Phish — and sober Trey — can improvise in a transcendent manner, channeling IT and the Almighty Hose in full force. This may not occur as often as it once did, but we’re blessed that IT occurs at all. And no matter how tired you might be of hearing Phish play “Fluffhead” (Hampton opened with it last year and Phish have played it 17 times since), don’t forget that the first online Phish community in the early 1990’s — an e-mail list, the precursor to Rec.Music.Phish (“RMP”) — used the song’s title as a giddily quirky, exclamatory roll-call of sorts, which carried-over somewhat into RMP.

Given the apparent emphasis during this tour on The Song, it is befuddling that Phish didn’t play most of their newest songs this month after debuting them in June. It was nice to hear Show of Life and Summer of ‘89 again, but the absence of Page’s wonderful Halfway to the Moon (not to mention his Beauty of a Broken Heart, which debuted last year) was regrettable. Mike’s Idea and Trey’s Dr. Gabel didn’t get played this month, either, and they seemed to have potential as well, even if they needed a lot of practice after their debuts in June. Is it also too much to hope for that Mike’s “Voices,” from his solo album The Green Sparrow, gets adopted by Phish and makes it into Phish’s setlists soon? The song grooves.

While Phish’s emphasis on songs rather than improvisation this year may be unfortunate to some, love for those songs (including their new ones) continues unabated, as is obvious at any Phish show that one attends. You don’t even have to leave home in order to discern the immense popularity of Phish’s music in 2010. Just take a cursory skim of the diverse, vibrant online communities of Phish fans (like those who comment on Mr. Miner’s Phish Thoughts, or users of PhantasyTour ), which consist in part of those who listen to every note of every show and see as many shows as they possibly can, as was true on RMP 16 years ago. Though such diehard fans can be quite critical of Phish’s music, their yearning for another show that makes them want to share it with everyone they know and love in an unduly spirited, frivolous effort to spread the Gospel According to Trey, Mike, Page and Fish, is understandable — at least to anyone crazy about something they love. Those obsessed about music want the bands we love to outjam themselves and blow us away, so that we can fall in love with their music all over again. Or at least so we can justify to ourselves and our significant others why we continue to care so much about what they play and when and how they play it, whether we spend the coin to attend a show, or just “couch tour” by listening to a show-in-progress on our PC or phone via Hoodstream – while simultaneously following the YEMblog tweets.

As jaded as you may feel you’ve become over the years about Phish’s music, hopefully you’re pleased that the band is doing just fine. And we are very fortunate, of course, that they’re still playing at all. While the $60 ticket prices this Fall may be a far cry from the $8.50 that a Phish ticket cost at a club in Boston more than 20 years ago, their shows are still more than worth it, and one can’t help but be excited about seeing them again soon. The quality of Phish’s music has always been paramount to the overall experience, of course. Just listen for yourself. And as predictable as part of the setlist may be, so long as they continue to put on a great show, we will be there, and it’ll be up to us to enjoy ourselves. FLUFFHEAD!!!!

[Author’s Note: The following comments on Phish’s August shows are the two cents of someone who only attended the Greek shows and who has heard too much Phish for his own — or anyone else’s — good. Just check out the setlist of any recent show on Phish.Net and, if you like it, download it from LivePhish, or Kevin Hoy’s incredible Spreadsheet, and you’ll likely be pleased. In other words, rely on the following critical noobtardery at your own peril.]


There are 61 comments associated with this post

Ranul August 9, 2012, 10:21:27

Honestly 13 seems a too young for an Eminem concert, coenrdsiing the crowd almost always consists of preps, fratboys and jocks.While Eminem is an incredibly clever lyricist (even if you don’t like Hip Hop) and his Bad meets Evil album was very nice, I hate his fanbase; I hate it.95%+ of the people in his concerts know nothing about Hip Hop and never will.Harsh but true, look at any of his current live footage.

Junior August 11, 2012, 19:26:50

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kyle March 1, 2011, 21:19:48

Ok I have a bet for EVERYONE. I guarentee i could take pieces of songs ask you to tell me if they were 1.0, 2.0 or 3.0 and you would get it wrong everytime. I saw phish for the 1st time in 95 100 shows later(yup I gave a number) I still love it. Is it the same? fuck no its 20 years later are you the same fuck no. Im writing this march 1st after seeing and hearing plenty of shows on fall tour and if you tell me manchester nh wasnt sick then you are nuts. As far as the author goes its his fucking opinion man we all have one. They are WAY different than they were in 95 but different doesnt mean bad. As far as prices go they are the least expensive band to see in the arena world today fact look it up so stop bitching or dont go. we were all noobs at one point and I remember in 95 people saying ahh this band changed from 91 or 93????? of course they did everyone did. stop bitching and give me your ticket so I can make it to 200 shows noobs wooks you are all welcome at a phish show when did we become so divided

Gary December 24, 2010, 02:46:35

I just checked out the YEM>Piper video at I agree with the poster. The YEM is standard fare (meaning it was great). Piper definitely gets out there, though. Trey sounds at one point, while hitting a screaming high note, like he wants to steer into some entirely different theme, but then pulls back, and the jam winds down into ambient sound.

feedarachnid August 31, 2010, 12:23:25

Hard to read on after the author sources Coventry as examples of profound jamming. But, in the end, I guess the Author’s Note gives him cushion.

tim August 31, 2010, 12:54:58

Have you listened to the Coventry Split Open & Melt, you would not have said that. It really makes his point about Phish being able to jam even when the show is a disaster. that said, this is a LONG article, that doesn’t seem to have a point or really say anything. It’s more of a ramble of thoughts than a thought out ramble. I’d give it a C-

Derek August 31, 2010, 13:44:38

It is amazing that I continued to read a review of the shows after he mentioned he only attended the Greek. I was fortunate enough to take some time off and see the entire 2nd leg, and to read something that is based off of LivePhish/Hoodstream or something of that sort is disappointing to say the least. As far as jamming and fluid setlists Leg 2 of this summer is the best effort they have gave yet. This ramble rather then review, with sources way too many best versions, does not capture Leg 2. Fishman came into his own in this tour, giving the band a platform to build off of, finally! Thanks Jon! And Trey as he settled into his new guitar became more comfortable jamming, and didn’t cut off the greatness Mike(MVP) and Page have been throwing down since Hampton. Just review the Greek if that’s all you saw, you can’t recreate the scene, crowd, placements of Phish without being there. Sorry!

Jibbender August 31, 2010, 13:45:53

Is there anything wrong with a long, thoughtful article? If one is paying any attention, one will realize Mr. Dirksen is spot on here.

Hurls August 31, 2010, 14:00:49

Great, thoughtful article. And spot on about Telluride. It was one of the best Phish experiences of my entire life…however, the actual music was sub-par for Phish. But still amazing! This is Phish afterall, and we fans have high expectations. Still was glorious, and we should all be thankful Phish is touring like mad again!

102795 Bowie August 31, 2010, 14:18:15

Mr. Charlie: Your writing style doesn’t change or evolve, but the band does. Maybe that’s why you are stuck comparing everything to a handful of select ‘best ever’ versions. You sir are completely missing the boat, IMO. Example, ‘Light’ from the Greek is a seminal piece of full band improv, that will stand up to anything from any period. We all enjoyed the crowd and band melding together during ‘Cities’. But come on now, the band can play that slow Phishy Phunk in their sleep.

Jankstar August 31, 2010, 14:24:15

Thank you Charlie! I was starting to think that I had turned into a grumpy old man when I seemed to be the only one who thought this tour was odd. Not to say “bad”, but just very strange and not altogether very consistent either. Also, people can review shows they weren’t at. Recordings give an unbiased take on what actually happened. Especially Dirksen here. The guy’s been reviewing shows for many moons now…

ericwyman August 31, 2010, 15:03:45

@102795 Bowie Irony called, they want your username back. #evolution #510shows

Buddy August 31, 2010, 15:25:54

There is a reason why “most veterans” left saying it was the best Phish they have seen. Reviews are never right on, especially if they are written by someone unable to be there! The second day was by far superior and we’ll just keep it at. The Karma is, for you picky reviewers, that you will probably never be graced with such an experience. This is the only comment board I have ever felt to remark on. Peace, and may the Phish keep on, keepin’ on!

Phish_Head August 31, 2010, 15:27:28

Come on Dirksen…enough of ‘YOUR’ reviews of the shows, and YOU weren’t even at 95% of them! Shame on you. You should know better, being there is a much different experience. And, just a little FYI, your Deer Creek reviews couldn’t be further from the truth. Amazing how one individual can be so wrong for so many consecutive years. Maybe you should be a weatherman?

102795 Bowie August 31, 2010, 15:29:20

they can’t have it. already went through that portal.

trenthfb August 31, 2010, 16:44:10

Thank-you for the write-up Charlie. I enjoyed and found the 1st Leg Summer tour write-up and was happy to be able to read the second. Your reviews of the the tour are clearly stated and well thought out. In fact you spent a lot of time (almost too apologetically) explaining yourself when reviewing shows that may have been great to be at were not so great musically i.e. 2nd night Telly. As a middle-aged Phish fan, I’m not able to listen to (definitely not attend) everything anymore and appreciate the ability to “weed out” shows at least for the near future and listen to the cream first. Thanks again! -trenthfb
PS you said “readicculus” ;)

Great Bardo August 31, 2010, 17:06:24

I would find it hard to fully enjoy the present version of Phish as well if I was obsessively comparing every note, jam, song and show to a stock-piled database of best-ever versions that I had stored in my head. Yesh. Loosen up a bit.

Disagree August 31, 2010, 17:46:17

Sad article. It is downright hilarious to see the teeniebopper writers without a clue talk about things they know nothing about. When Phish was a real band, they took it to the audience every night, and the audience didn’t go to a show to see if Phish would happen to do something interesting that night, they went to the show to witness something special every night, no questions asked, nothing expected. now people go to shows hoping they don’t miss the 1-2 minutes of imagination and improvisation that may occur. Back then you went to a how to observe a theme being constructed over a tour that culminated in a festival that summed up the tour. Now you just go wishing something decent will happen, but knowing full well it probably won’t. Fans never had to weed out shows, or more embarrassingly, one or two songs from a whole tour that are worthwhile keepers. When Phish were a true band, each show raged, each song was worth listening to, and it was never a thought that it would be anything less. Listen to some 90’s Phish shows author of this very long and boring article propping up a group that needs to prove they want to play again. Playing well means practice, and it is obvious the band is not practicing with the desire they need to to be a band that was once called Phish. This band to me is four guys covering a band that was once called Phish, and until they want to put the work in, they will forever be a cover band called Phish 3.0.

Disagree part 2 August 31, 2010, 18:22:34

@ disagree – last time i checked Phish was still a “real band.” You sir are a douche! Do you play music? If you do, I bet your band is not a “real band” if you want to compare yourselves to phish. I personally can’t stand pompous clowns like your self. Go see another “Real Band” if you can’t hang with phish anymore. Last time i checked, we were all in this together – for life. Fairweather fans make me ill. Phish is still as real as it gets for me, and i was around in that magical overhyped era of yesteryear, Phish is about the now and if your not you’ve missed the point. I’d go even further to say that you, mr. disagree, are not a “True fan.”

slapshot August 31, 2010, 18:28:10

Dirksen is spot on, as he has been since around 1993. Phish as a band cannot really get a spark good enough to light a big fire anymore, a fire that will burn of itself and consume everything that came before and after it. I’m talking about the collective mind and fingers and voices of the void – we aren’t hearing that anymore as far as I can tell. Oh well!

rudy August 31, 2010, 18:42:50

@ slapshot- you mean YOU are not hearing it anymore. Lots of us still hear it loud and clear! Please don’t speak for everyone, because a lot of long time fans are very happy at the moment. Feel kind of bad for you if you arn’t. Feel bad for lots of people who didn’t feel IT this summer because IT was certainly there. Stop living in the past. It will surly bog you down and you will sink. “for if you do it right the moment never ends”

Flim McWadd August 31, 2010, 19:49:36

Did somebody seriously just call kingmoron420 a teeniebopper writer without a clue?

slapstick August 31, 2010, 19:50:28

@ rudy – I understand your point. Maybe it is just me. Maybe Phish has been tapping into the core energy at the root of all our souls this summer, and I’m just not hearing it. In my last comment I wrote “as far as I can tell,” and that is what I meant. peace!

FluffheadisthenewGuyute August 31, 2010, 20:40:42

Hmmmmm another East coast “phan” who only saw leg 2 shows out West, thus robbing west coast fans of their one chance to see Phish in their time zone this year. Shocking indeed. I hate to say it, but that Concert Confess D-bag with the angry west coast rant is kinda right. Easy coast Phish phans are entitled priks. This reeks of lameness.

Randolph Reiner III August 31, 2010, 22:41:26

5 PAGES!!!! oh my god — the first page is unreadable…. i caught a glimpse on page 2 of “no i am not gonna say they didn’t jam because trey is sober” — well who asked you? so dumb…. i cant read anymore. i know your premise is idiotic. you might say ‘they didn’t play such and such as well or in such a way as they have at another time’ .... but your concept of “JAMMING” and what was “JAMMED” and what wasn’t “JAMMED”.... you just sound like a fool… you just want JAM AND JAM AND JAM>>>>> AND don’t forget the BLESSED > SONG ORIENTED? meh… seems like they have pretty much played 20 songs a night for their whole career. likewise, the length of the shows…. PHISH is so PRO... that was obvious this year. i think they played almost all 8.5 shows… a few 9.5s…. one or two 7s… and they made a lot of people DUMB in the process. nice job PHISH.... and OH — dont forget to JAMMMMMMMMMMMMMM!!!!!!

rendog September 1, 2010, 02:00:17

Phish 3.0 is the only Phish I want to hear. I live in the now, not the past.

Reilly Capps September 1, 2010, 04:35:02

You guys are hilarious. This is awesome. The depth of hate and recrimination is tremendous. This is what blogs are for. My favorite is “disagree.” I will repost his rant somewhere else, maybe in an compendium of indications of the end of art.

drewphish September 1, 2010, 09:41:01

In my opinion, it is far easier to review a show when one was NOT there. I have seen Phish over 150 times and because of human nature I have been prone to OVERVALUE those shows because I have a great time every time I go. Too many people (oftentimes inadvertently) factor in their personal experience at a show into their reviews. In fact, I would argue it is difficult to disassociate those experiences and truly only write about the musical aspect of the evening. Charlie is (and always has been) great at keeping his review of the music separate from all other factors. And sure, there are plenty of “veterans” who like to point out over and over again that they were there, you weren’t, and they are better than you as a result. No one can show me a single example through written or spoken word of Charlie ever working that angle in any of his reviews over the last almost 20 years. And finally, he will be the first to tell you that IT IS ONLY HIS OPINION. If you are caught up on the fact that he wasn’t there why keep reading, let alone comment on the story afterwards. He signed everything he reviewed on “two cents” as in this is simply what I think, take it or leave it.Charlie, thank you for your informed opinions, your passion for Phish, and all of the work you have done for the Mockingbird Foundation. Now, if only you weren’t deaf…. :)

Mr. Completely September 1, 2010, 15:53:58

1) The collective is in full effect if you are still open to it. If you’re not, we miss you, and hope you come back…jump on it…the water is fine. Otherwise, you’re just staring at your walls. 2) anyone who references the # of shows they have attended at any point in their post or comment – in an attempt to prove their hettiness – immediately loses 100% of credibility. That’s some played out shit right there. 3) the idea that Dirksen is “spot on” because he has been around since 93 is ludicrous. He has been writing this same offputting, reductionist style the whole time…and since my first phish show was in 1990 by your logic I must be right. 4) kudos to CD for the first page or 2 here which show him in a positive light. The rest is more of the same style as always…I give it a C+ overall. 5) peace to all of you. I do critique CD’s writing style but I respect his commitment to the band and love of the music. As some chubby guy once said, there ain’t no time to hate.

Mattix September 1, 2010, 17:30:34

Charlie… thanks for the review of a leg of tour I wasn’t able to see at all. Personally, I don’t mind reading comparisons to other eras in the band’s history. It’s fun… like comparing athletes from different eras. They’re playing the same sport but somehow it’s a different game. Similarly, Phish is the same four men playing the same (and some new) songs but somehow it is a bit different. That’s ok. I’ve been seeing Phish live since the mid-90’s and have nearly 80 shows under my belt. I know—moderate compared to some. But my source of elation concerning 3.0 is twofold: 1) they are not 2.0 2) they are literally getting better every time I see them. The two Bonnaroo shows from summer ’09 was a revelation: oh my, Phish actually is excited to play their music again and that enthusiasm was apparent. Charlotteville in December showed me a band confident enough to play in the moment, interactively toy with the audience, and string together a more fluid setlist. The six shows from leg one of summer ’10 (Camden, Merriweather, Raleigh, Charlotte) saw a band ready to bring it in a more aggressive way to their audience. Darker and more ominous at times, lighter with more of a summer lilt at others… little by little, this is a band that is putting more weapons back into their arsenal. Bust-outs, some more frequent excursions outside of song structure, and the occassional fluid segue. IMO, Phish peaked from ’93-‘97. However, they didn’t magically arrive at that peak, but rather, built up to it. That’s what I see happening so far with 3.0. Chill out, have patience, and give the boys a little time to regain their bearings after five years away from each other. Bottomline: they care again, are trying, and are improving nearly every time out and definitely every tour so far in the life of 3.0. That’s enough to make me happy… for now. I, for one, am excited to see how some of these weapons they’ve been honing start to gel together a bit more during this fall tour! See you there!

drewphish September 1, 2010, 18:37:21

@Mr. Completely Thank you for your words of wisdom.

Nobodysjam September 1, 2010, 23:24:25

Sweet Jebus, only 5 pages for a whole leg. Tisk tisk Charlie, you’ve lost your muse, must be all that ’47 Taft Hartley done gone to your head. I miss the days when good ol’ Dirksen would wax poetic about a Tweezer (..Trey played a dark riff at minute 11:47 or was it 11:49) for ream upon ream. While I read every word and can’t help but wonder at his bear trap mental recall-this review was just sad. Clearly a case of “you had to be there-ism”. To my ears the Greek was overrated, sorry Charlie-little to no bliss to be found in what was sure to be an epic run, the band mostly does wilt under the pressure of too much hype. Even the Light didn’t really go there-call it average/somewhat trending towards good/average with scattered mediocre.

Phortin September 2, 2010, 04:33:29

Awesome and entertaining read. Thanks for what you do and bring to this community.

RevengeOfHarryHood420 September 2, 2010, 08:02:58

Priceless: “Did Trey actually give away his left nut!?”

chewyrock September 2, 2010, 08:56:49

Kinda funny to see a phan can write that anyone who posts the number of shows they have been to is a discrediting action….and then a few sentences later…. drop a “I was there in 1990.” OK article. Great band. Flip floppy fans.

caboose squirrel ;) September 2, 2010, 10:50:43

Hey Charlie, Thanks, as always, for your “two cents.” (True, the first couple of pages could have been summarized in one tight, punchy paragraph. But I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt and assume this was just your clever way of saying that longer is not necessarily better.) I’m not a TTE fan — and I’ve actually only heard it a few times — but while having Deer Creek on in the background I actually remember thinking the song wasn’t as bad as I remembered it. I’ve heard others concur that they liked the Deer Creek TTE more than usual. Now, I wasn’t listening closely, and perhaps I should — and should compare it with a Phish version you approve of (which would you recommend?). But I’d be curious to hear a little more about why you dislike this version.

ericwyman September 2, 2010, 11:59:44

This comment thread really makes me laugh. You’re too harsh, too nice, too East Coast, too West Coast, too old, too young, it doesn’t matter how many shows you’ve been to, I’ve been to more, you say too much, don’t say enough, you weren’t there, I was… This is where we are huh? We’ll all have to return to our respective corners of the internet. p.s. I can’t decide if the “teenibopper” or “East Coast phan” get the gold medal on this one.

RevengeOfHarryHood420 September 2, 2010, 12:37:31

You are fast. I still haven’t heard the entire tour, but I really, really recommend the mk22+mk4V and (especially!) the senn441s from Telluride. I have the livephish boards too, but this is one case (of many imnsmfho) where the audience tapes capture a real warmth. The Sennheiser 441s of set 2 of 8-10 for example have the flubs in Destiny, but it doesn’t matter because the tone and power is all there. And the f*cking Mike’s > C&P comes off really nice. Yes, there are better Mike’s & C&Ps too (I won’t go there with you! :P), but this is a damn fine set I think. It’s good to keep perspective though.

RevengeOfHarryHood420 September 2, 2010, 12:38:49

ericwyman: Don’t forget “Too Fast”

cookiepuss September 2, 2010, 12:51:28

Thanks Charlie! I met Charlie around early 1997 and he was an amazing friend and impossibly generous tape source of recently played shows. At that time, we would eagerly discuss the shows coming from our hero brethren, the tapers. I couldn’t get enough of the band since they were clearly going “where no band had gone before”. All through 1998 and beyond Charlie would indulge my requests (and many others I’m sure) as a kind of Johnny Appleseed of Phish audience recordings. The stuff coming from the band was just wild, reckless genius. There were “must-have” shows and interstellar inter-dimensional jams for years to come and I feel humbly honored and proud to call this band my fave. It’s a cosmic blessing, to be sure to be alive and experience these guys at all. Especially now. But let’s be honest: When was the last time they’ve played a legendary show: one that holds up on playback not because you and your buddies had a great time on Molly in a box canyon in the Rockies. And as far as that run from Berkeley to Telluride? Tix for several hundred dollars due to scalping demons, two uber-legendary venues, no “special” jams, no Garcia dedication (even a newb was aware of the birthdate/deathdate thing), no extra set, nothing but average (albeit fantastic by any “normal” live band standards) Phish? Charlie is right on. Naturally. Not because he has so many shows under his belt, that he is smart, and unnaturally attuned listener, a good writer, or even a great friend of mine. He’s right on because he loves this band. More than me, more than you. If you don’t think so, ask yourself what YOU have done for this band recently. Did you help co-found and dedicate a substantial part of your life to Phish’s main philanthropic organization? Do you write thoughtful articles about the band for thoughtful fans? Do you spread tapes, recordings, and all other means of media to anybody that asks for nothing in return but a smile? See what I mean? Mr. Dirksen is one of the few pillars of this here scene and will still be one long after most of you have moved onto something else in life. Thanks Charlie, your contribution is a heckuva lot more than just your “two cents”. Nothing is as contagious as enthusiasm and this guy in on fire! I’ll keep readin’ your stuff as long as I’m still interested in these guys. Type II jams for Peace,

RevengeOfHarryHood420 September 2, 2010, 13:00:54

OK, but no more than “three cents”.

Mr. Completely September 2, 2010, 13:24:37

@chewyrock – that was my point, my friend, try reading it again? I think when you started and how many shows you have seen is a nonsensical standard once someone has a baseline knowledge of the music…my point exactly was that my first show being in 1990 should matter to the person I was talking to, not to me! I know people whose first shows were before mine who have terrible taste in music (IMO) and a couple kids who caught their first shows this summer who have mad insight on the band and their style.

Mr. Completely September 2, 2010, 13:28:33

@cookiepuss – with all due respect to both you and Charlie – who I agree, has demonstrated his love for the band with great clarity and passion – this makes no sense: “He’s right on because he loves this band. More than me, more than you. If you don’t think so, ask yourself what YOU have done for this band recently. “ Seriously, what does that have to do with anything? These things make him a great fan. No doubt about it. And I have never ever heard anything about him personally other than good things. Mad respect for all that. But it doesn’t make him a good or insightful writer. If you agree with his analysis and like his style, great! But I think he misses the point time and again, and always has. The fact that CD has done more for the scene than I have – which I would never argue – has nothing to do with the merit of his opinions, period.

jdub September 2, 2010, 13:59:09

I can appreciate an analytical review of a show or tour for what is. One persons opinion. But am I wrong in understanding the essence of Phish, which I understand to be a LIVE musical performance centered on improvisation triggering a collective energetic release? This is why I go to see Phish (and really care little about what it sounds like in my living room). And from what I saw this summer, which for me culminated in the Jones Beach run, was a band that is on fire. They met my criteria, which is to say they got me, my friends, and seemingly the majority of the crowd off. And they did so with some serious chops (and a few flubs but that doesn’t bother me), some real peak improvisation, micro jams where you least expected, and a band that is
having fun in the moment while building a foundation for longevity. And some words of advice for some of you commenters: Phish will never ever be what they were 15 years ago, and I wouldn’t want them to be. That is so ’90s. This dynamic group interplay where everyone is participating and listening and leading is where it’s at!

cookiepuss September 2, 2010, 14:20:06

@ Mr. Completely: [Author’s Note: The following comments on Phish’s August shows are the two cents of someone who only attended the Greek shows and who has heard too much Phish for his own — or anyone else’s — good. Just check out the setlist of any recent show on Phish.Net and, if you like it, download it from LivePhish, or Kevin Hoy’s incredible Spreadsheet, and you’ll likely be pleased. In other words, rely on the following critical noobtardery at your own peril.] What does love and devotion matter to a creative enterprise such as this article? Everything, man. Everything. This is precisely why Phish is such a special band. Your argument that that this piece is reductionist is specious when it is almost 2,000 words and the entire first paragraph is devoted to that topic. And not insightful? C’mon. Here is reductionism: If you’ve been so displeased over CD’s writing over the last 20 years, then why do you still read it? Go write something yourself. Be forewarned that creation is always more difficult than destruction. CD needs no defense of his writing or any other part of his Phish-related life. Just the fact that this article has generated this much thought and response says it all. All good art and work creates a response. Kudos Charlie and see ya on tour.

bouncin fan September 2, 2010, 16:34:53

Spin Hampton and then alpine night 1 the upward trend is very much in tact. as a musician I have a huge respect for the effort it takes to get back to a space where they can play on the level of alpine 1. its a huge catalog to relearn and none of them were active musicians in their time off. I got off in summer 97 and have caught 30 shows in 3.0 loving hitting dream venues like red rocks Telly indio and the Greek. enjoy the process. its been fun. and the band is getting better don’t see what all the stress is about

Mr. Completely September 2, 2010, 16:42:14

I read the article because I heard it was interesting. And parts of it are. Your heartfelt defense of CD brings you merit but your retort that I should “Go write something myself” is nonsense. By your logic no one is qualified to critique other people’s writing unless they pass some test of either devotion to the band or publishing their own reviews. FWIW I do write and express myself quite a bit in various media and under various pseudonyms, including on Phish related topics; does that change your opinion? No? And it shouldn’t, because it’s totally irrelevant. So please drop that argument, it’s quite weak. More importantly: why does it bother you so much that I don’t like CD’s style of reviewing? That’s all this is. I’ve made it clear it’s not a personal judgment. I’ve made it clear I like his attitude expressed in the first 2 pages. But his opinion is NOT privileged just because of his love and devotion to the band, and the fact that you think it is betrays an elitist mindset that I think you should reconsider. This is all it comes down to: you like his reviews and I don’t, and for some reason that chaps your ass. Too bad. I have been respectful of him in these comments, but critiquing writing styles is a big part of what comment sections are for! An unrelated point I can’t break to a new line due to lameness of this comment software: the word “reductionist” does not mean what you apparently think it means. If you’d like to rebut my characterization of his writing as reductionist, please do me the favor of understanding the term. Finally, what I am doing is not “destruction” by any means, so you might want to polish your lens a bit on that term as well; and I know more about creation than you might imagine. Please, just relax a bit and don’t take a reasoned and I think fair critique too seriously. It’s not like I shot his dog or hung those nasty fliers on all the buildings in the town or anything. Honestly I was just surprised that after 2 nice pages, the article went right back to the same ol’ same ol’. PEace

Wilson E King September 2, 2010, 19:16:30

Fat Bulk Expanse Mass Lump Block Clod.

RevengeOfHarryHood420 September 3, 2010, 01:00:01

I think it was a very interesting read. Naturally I disagree with a lot that is said, but your main thesis seems correct. We are especially getting fewer “exploratory” jams. But you know that this comes and goes in waves and I am sure we… will see more in the future, hopefully with a band that is also as dedicated & professional as the one we see today. We need both, but there is plenty of time to get it right. Most important is that they find health and happiness, though, and not just for the sake of the music. My one suggestion is that you should seek out (if you haven’t already) some of the excellent audience sources that are around. Sometimes the Livephish is so clean that you hear the jam well, but you also hear the smallest mistakes. In the audience tapes this is nicely balanced with the vibe and power that shines through. I thought the Greek and Telluride shows especially sounded better with the audience tapes, fwiw. I know the Greek is a good taping venue, but I strongly suspect that Telluride is also really good. I haven’t heard the second night of Alpine or Jones Beach yet, so I don’t have the tour perspective, but it seems to me that they do get progressively better. I’m probably in the minority, but I thought Telluride was better than the Greek and that the second night of Deer Creek was better than any of the preceding shows. My first impression of the first night of Alpine is very favorable too. Another thing: (a small thing) As you know, it used to be (a long long time ago) that any given Phish show would have a YEM jam, a Bowie jam, a Mike’s jam, a Gin jam, or a Tweezer jam, but now they have so many different options. Just as in 2003-4 when we would see long Harry Hoods, Twists, Scents and Subtle Sounds, et cetera, the places we looked for jams (like Tweezer and Stash) were not happening as much. That’s a bit of what’s going on I think. The band has all these great vehicles like Undermind (a hugely underrated song, imo), Light, BDTNL, and so forth. They are looking at how to open them up and it will take time. Plus, I strongly suspect Phish will be writing more and more and the songs have been very good. I really, really like a lot of the stuff off of Party Time, including “Only a Dream” which Mike’s band jams out very nicely (lmk if you need tapes), “Liquid Time”, “Shrine”, and Page’s “If I Told You” which I think could have a very weird Daft Punkish jam (and it would be cool!) So, anyway, I say too much (facebook diarrhea), but anyway, I wanted to thank you for posting the article. By the way, I thought most of the comments were fair enough given their perspective – you were on before I was which means that was a long, long time ago. When I first started getting into the Dead (in the mid-70s, really, seems like a lot longer than that! LOL) I was flat out told that the best days of the band were behind them & us and basically we were just getting sloppy seconds now. So, I guess I can relate to how they feel but definitely see your side too. I always have this problem!

sloppy joe (lunch ladyland) September 3, 2010, 02:01:06

phish, to me, is never sloppy seconds. That is what your mom/girlfriend/sister are for. j/k lighten up phish world. life is short. it’s ok to let go and laugh. “perhaps you’ll forget that you forgot for a while” – johnny b

JC September 4, 2010, 18:42:31

last 20 years? c’mon man, you need to check that at the door.

eddychavez September 4, 2010, 23:20:32

Charlie delivers here, that’s what a real fan is looking for, what songs jam out type 2 and are creative and interesting. ie. where’s the hose. Nowadays its Phish for the millenia generation song heavy and tension quick release. not much exploration kind like 92-95 era dead. Still solid playing from trey -boomerang -whale call.

RevengeOfHarryHood420 September 6, 2010, 02:48:32

I think that the Deer Creek Hood counts as some good hose action, especially from around 8 minutes on. Actually I enjoyed this second set a lot and after listening to Time Turns Elastic (from the first set), I don’t understand the negative vibes for the song. It’s not perfect, but for a first set closer, it’s quite yummy (for me).

Baby furniture September 11, 2010, 12:06:58

Has been a great pleasure being around, truly love what you have been doing, keep up the great work.

Posterus Nutbagus September 13, 2010, 10:08:49

Haters hate, lovers appreciate. My personal mission will be to dose everyone bitching about the short Tweezers next tour with some LSA or some 2CB or some shit like that. Tube too. If you bitch about Tube or Tweezer, I will inject PCP into your neck.

RevengeOfHarryHood420 September 13, 2010, 19:15:33

Ok, I just want to make a final post here to say that now that I’ve finished listening to the tour (both on livephish and some awesome audience tapes – the tapers just get better and better), my opinion is about the same. I think it was a great tour and sometimes the band is on all cylinders. They want to play a lot and they also have a lot of songs to play. That might be another factor – the idea that now there might be less time for a long Tweezer jam than before because a dozen songs are played per set. For what it’s worth I thought the band got progressively more accurate as the tour progressed. I’m ready for a less professional, more laid back Phish in the Fall, but I’m happy to enjoy whatever comes.

PalmGrime October 13, 2010, 19:15:02

I Agree with Disagrees comment!
This is just another one of those writers who just can not be objective about a band they like.
It seems the old songs have become nostalgic and the new songs are the only ones they take seriously. And please dont make excuses for Trey flubbin a YEM or Reba , hes played these songs 1000 times the only way you miss a note is f your not really into it, or not practicing. And @Disagree Pt2 -, yes I DO play music and I bet Disagree does too, from a musicians perspective “its just not that great anymore” sayin someone isn’t a “True Fan” because they have an objective opinion is moronic, think of all the great bands of the 60s and 70s , I mean even a lot of Zeppelin fans hated CODA, its called having an opinion and not being a sheep. That said, Phish is not responsible to play the kinda of shows they did in 96, Ill just go see another band that provides the creative spontaneity I crave in live music, there are a lot of them around. BTW Primus was the tour to see this year.

Freshies October 18, 2010, 00:05:15

Theres so much you can say about Phish right now…but I want to start of with….AC Halloween is going to be sick!!!! So fired up for it. Theres a lot of cool things going on now with Phish and some weird things too, some new songs and old ones that they need to work on but it should get there. Hopefully sooner rather than later cause I really dont know how much longer theyre going to play for. And if youre not having fun at these shows anymore…just stop…you can stop. No one is forcing you to go. theyre not that cheap anymore when you could do 8 to 10 in a row and be fine with it…which i feel might be skewing alot of opinions now.Im sure a little pissed at it. And dont get me started on the scalping…yikes out there. but anyway…have fun at the show…critique the shit out of them…its fun as hell to do…but when you really start trashing them…its over for you. See ya in AC.

D.C. smith October 19, 2010, 11:29:58

C. Dirksen is right on here. There are about 2-3 “must-hear” Phish performances from 2009-2010. Everything else is just so damn average. Telluride was so disappointing musically, I enjoyed the town more than the band. As I thought later “I missed 7/14 Alpine for THAT?” Anyway, I was there and I can totally confirm, the music was lackluster – just as it has been at all but one show I have seen since they came back. This is accentuated because apparently the band has decided not to play any great setlist/bustout shows anywhere save East Coast. 7/14 Alpine is good but make no mistake – there is little improvisation going on, and when there is Trey will cut that shit off pronto. I was real pissed I’m missing fall and NYE but now I’m not so sure I will be back next year. Phish has bee such a huge part of my life but they just aren’t playing shows that are worth the price tag anymore. People who say Leg II was so great…the worst shows I saw in Phish 1.0 were better by miles. At least they had one real jam. Phish 3.0 just has no courage to go into that great unknown anymore.

D.C. Smith October 19, 2010, 11:35:37

BTW the people saying it is great are n00bs and/or kidding themselves. If you saw Phish during the 1.0 period any show you saw is better than anything 3.0. Period. End of Story. This is not the same band, they sound like they are covering their own songs. Big Cypress and it’s ilk are ROFL-ing at the thought that any of these pathetic, straight, railroad-track “jams” are even being called improvisation. And if the band wants to really do themself justice they will start REALLY jamming again. 2009 and now 2010 will be remembered as “fun but nothing notable” when Phish finally calls it quits. For those of you who saw them 95-00, grats, you saw the peak. It will never be the same again. 3.0 n00bs and fluffers would realize this if they just look at the facts. This is hardly even Phish anymore.

hacksaw jim October 27, 2010, 15:59:06

D.C. Smith is a wanker! Blow me! You sir are an epic douche. I’ve been seeing phish since the 90’s – that mythically overhyped era. They sound better than ever. Listening back to that fabled era – shows were very aimless and sloppy then. The phish of 3.0 is a much better band. they have moved on, but some jaded assclown overly critical fans obviously never will. GROW UP! Keep on living the dream in your mom’s basement. I will be on tour.

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