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Featured Column: Inverting Loaded

Stop me if you heard this one before. Playing Halloween in a city known for gambling, Phish cover a somewhat obscure album in a set that they obviously spent a lot of time rehearsing, but the entire set got overshadowed by off the cuff performances of songs from a much more popular band. The pattern reoccurred twelve years later but it would be more of a reflection than a duplicate. In 1998 I was the one writing for Jambands explaining why Loaded was much more important than Dark Side of the Moon. This time I’m on the other side, amused by the spontaneous (but sloppy) performance but left cold by the album they worked on.

Author’s Note: It’s never fun to be the person who dislikes an album, especially one that is largely popular. While the goal of my 10/31/98 column was to try to get people to enjoy the Underground, the last thing I want is to ruin the album for people who enjoyed the Feat set. However I know my views aren’t just held by me, so I thought I’d at least try to present the point of view in order to promote understanding. Besides, Dean asked me to write this and I didn’t have a better idea for a column. Still though, if you’re a Little Feat fan and don’t want to read a somewhat negative review of them, here would be a good place to stop.

Little Feat is one of those bands that are of a certain time. When I was growing up, they had a lot of airplay on the classic rock station. Perhaps the 4-5 year age difference Phish’s members have on me is crucial here, as they never really spoke to me. “Fat Man in the Bathtub” and “Dixie Chicken” were songs that might not cause me to change the station when they came on the radio on a sunny day, but would never be music that I would actually seek out or anything. As a result I kept pushing back against the Waiting for Columbus rumor.

One thing kept me going as I got the Phishbill. I wasn’t a big fan of the idea of Exile on Main Street either but Phish did an interesting job with it, taking the songs and making them something that I would like. My main problem with Little Feat is that the vast majority of their material is way too slow for my tastes; one thing that Phish could do to make it better for me is to speed things up.

To make a memorable cover, the best approach is to create a synergy between the original band and yourselves. A reinterpretation can show a song (or an album) in a new light, showing what was great about it even for those of us who might not like the original for some reason. It could reveal a secret potential that had existed in the song, but needed a fresh set of ears to bring it forth. Unfortunately, we weren’t going to experience any of that in Atlantic City. The goal this year – with a few exceptions – was to try to reproduce the live Little Feat show as closely as possible. From all reports, that’s a deceptively hard task – and despite my lack of love for the album, none of my issues with the set came from their playing; they nailed the album as well as could be done – but it still does feel like a bit of a missed chance here, a way of seeing what Phish could do with Little Feat instead of hearing them just try to mimic the original.

This seventeen-song album can be roughly divided into thirds – “Join the Band” through “Time Loves a Hero,” “Day or Night through Rocket in My Pocket,” and “Willin’” through “Feats Don’t Fail Me Now.” One of the problems I had with this album is that almost all of my favorite sections were in the middle third. The first six songs, with the welcome break of “Oh Atlanta,” are all mid tempo. They’re competently played and any given one is inoffensive enough, but having them all grouped together is frustrating for people whose tastes don’t run to that style. By “Time Loves a Hero,” I was about as bored as I have ever been at a Phish show.

Fortunately, the set was about to pick up as we moved into the second third. It started out subtly, a little tempo pick up in “Day or Night,” an intense horn section at the end of “Mercenary Blues,” all leading to the three songs that I think most people agree are the peak of the album. “Spanish Moon,” while still slow, uses its tempo to its advantage. Melody rich with strong horn parts and an interesting story, there’s a reason why this is the most popular choice (according to Hidden Track at least) for a song to stick around in rotation. The momentum didn’t stop there either as the “Dixie Chicken> Tripe Face Boogie” combination just cooked. The jam towards the end of “Tripe” was especially hot; this was a time where it really felt like a merger between the two bands, not just one pretending to be the other. These three songs took up nearly a third of the set and were enough to impress a non-fan like me.

Alas that moment would be short lived. After the forgettable (but reasonably rocking) “Rocket in my Pocket,” things would be slowed down again. “Willin’” has a unique distinction for me as being the one song that fell short due to Phish’s performance instead of the material. With the instrument switching and Fishman on vocals, it came across as a novelty live. Only upon hearing the recording did the rather interesting lyrics and surprisingly good piano playing of Mike really shine through. Still though, the excitement that had built was starting to feel like a distant memory, especially when it was followed by three more songs that brought the pace way down. “Feats Don’t Fail Me Now” at least ended things on a high note, but it felt like a struggle getting there.

Having now listened to Waiting for Columbus a few times in an attempt to try to let it grow on me, an additional Achilles Heel becomes apparent: its lyrics. When compared to the other albums (well other than The White Album which is too all over the place to give a summary) Phish have covered, its weakness is glaring. Quadrophenia is about battles between British subcultures and the desire to feel true to the image that you have of yourself even if it forces you to make decisions for stupid reasons. Remain in Light is largely about the oppressive potential of government, the way that facts can be twisted to serve an ideology, and the confusion this creates; there’s even a song set from the point of view of a terrorist. Loaded is filled with slice of life stories of the down and out. Dark Side of the Moon may not have much to bring to the topics, but it addresses issues of aging and war and financial policy. Exile on Main Street falls victim to the rock star nature of the Rolling Stones. So trapped in their insular culture, they’re left to write about what it’s like to be a rock star, but they still manage to present it in such a way that lets outsiders to that world get a feel as to what it might be like.

In contrast, Little Feat’s collection is largely about doing drugs and trying to have sex. Sometimes it’s disguised a bit (“Fat Man in the Bathtub,” “Rocket in My Pocket” which is a ditty about having an erection), others not at all as in the banal “Don’t Bogart That Joint,” but that’s largely what Lowell George had to say [1]. What’s his concern about aging? You won’t be able to perform sexually as easily as you would when you were younger. Yes, that’s the 70s culture, but we’re not in the 70s anymore. It’s a party album about partying, giving few entrances for those who don’t live in that world. Obviously, sex and drugs are a major part of rock and roll, but my favorite albums were always about something more interesting and universal than that.

While I’ve done a lot of explaining how the album falls short for me, some perspective is in order. I know this is the Internet and everything has to be either the best thing ever or completely godawful, but Little Feat hits neither extreme for me. I created a subset of songs (“Join the Band,” “Oh Atlanta,” “Day or Night,” Mercenary Territory,” “Spanish Moon,” “Dixie Chicken,” “Tripe Face Boogie,” “Willin’,” and “Feats Don’t Fail Me Now”) for work and without the slow songs and the two worst lyric offenders, and suddenly it’s a decent showing. Live it’s hard to not notice the half hour that bores you, but on tape you can focus on the hour that you did enjoy.

The best analogy for me came in a flash early in the morning of November 1. It was about 2 AM and I wanted to get some juice to fight off tour ick. I figured also I was in a legendary casino town hours after Phish played a Halloween show. While I’m old and married now, I was curious as to what kind of trouble I could have gotten into if I were so inclined… Much to my surprise, the casino was pretty dead. Yeah there were a few people here milling about gambling, but hardly anyone was still in costume and the place was a quarter full. The most interesting thing that happened was encountering a person who I’m praying was acting in character with his costume (abusive asshole?) or something as he was being rather threatening to his girlfriend [2]. I’m not the biggest Vegas person, but I can promise you that if you went through a major casino late on a Halloween night, it would be exciting. This felt more like being at some random tribal casino on the side of I-5.

I have to admit that going into the trip, I was a little intimidated by Atlantic City. I had never been there before and all I heard about was burnt out shells of buildings and “Don’t even think about venturing off the Boardwalk!” Once you got to your room, the first thing that anyone should do is strip off the sheets and check it out for bedbugs, lest you bring them home. Fortunately, once you got to the Boardwalk, it actually was fun. The Tropicana had a little store that had some cool vegetarian options. The poker room there loved hosting the Phamily Poker Classic and the staff was a delight to work with. The hotel was close to the venue and while the Boardwalk was seedy, it was seedy in an amusing, authentic tourist trappy sort of way that gave a connection to the sketchiness that founded the city. You could easily walk from the venue to the beach and look out at the ocean if you needed a break from people with fingers in the air.

Ultimately for me, Waiting for Columbus was like Atlantic City. They both have fascinating and complex histories. Neither one was as bad as I feared they would be ahead of time; in fact they both had moments where they rather impressed me. However, after Asheville and the Gorge and Indio and Telluride, Atlantic City doesn’t quite stack up. It’s not so much that I hate Little Feat as much as I don’t feel that they rise to the ranks of The Beatles, The Who, Talking Heads, the Velvet Underground, Pink Floyd, or The Rolling Stones. If they do for you, that’s great; many others would say the same thing about the Underground for that matter. For me though, this set ranks as the least good one.

[1] I’m singling out George here because the songs that ventured afield from these two topics were largely not written by him. In his defense though, he had nothing to do with “Don’t Bogart That Joint.”

[2] In the list of overheard conversations that you wish you hadn’t heard, a joking reference of, “Keep that up and I might leave you,” followed by a furious, “Don’t say that. Don’t EVER say that!!!” is about as far from the silly gambling story fun I was hoping for.


David Steinberg got his Masters Degree in mathematics from New Mexico State University in 1994. He first discovered the power of live music at the Capital Centre in 1988 and never has been the same. His Phish stats website is at and he’s on the board of directors for The Mockingbird Foundation. He occasionally posts at the blog and has a daily update on the Phish Stats Facebook page


There are 38 comments associated with this post

Ed W. December 6, 2010, 19:31:43

I feel sorry for the reviewer that he doesn’t get Little Feat. Then again, there are probably many Little Feat fans that don’t get Phish, and I feel sorry for them too. I am grateful that I am able to see the beauty of both of these bands.

harley ranger November 19, 2010, 13:35:33

“Whiskey….hookers…and bad cocaine” – Atlantic city in a nutshell. What a complete shithole. Great Album choice. Horrible cesspool of a city. Snookie want smoosh smoosh! I think a lot of people would wish that a tiny minority of fans would treat phish like a rock band and not some sterile lab experiment in math class. LOL

holly wrangler November 19, 2010, 13:40:04

sounds like this guy would have more fun sitting in a calculus class doing long complex equations for the hell of it. Makes phish out to be some sort of standardized test. meh. how dare people enjoy a good rock and roll show!

Scott Holt November 23, 2010, 13:06:48

Dear god, were you as bored during the Little Feat set as I was reading this article? Let’s hope they play to your tastes in the future. We’d hate for another woe is me review of a pitch perfect cover of a 70’s classic. They killed it Manch through Halloween and to nit pick because the album doesn’t pander to your interest in a broader social commentary is absolute rubbish. Try to enjoy yourself moving forward, life’s too short.

Kyle November 16, 2010, 13:30:32

Great article very objective. Ive been to every Halloween show they have even including ones where they didn’t do a cover. This set was siiiiick kid. The tempo was chil but was so was big cypress. I love every album they have played either bc I knew it like Exile and Remain in the light from start to finish or Little Feat that I kinda knew. If you listen to Phish play that album without knowing it at all like I did and just listen to the music they are making I think you will be happy it was super tight the horns and drums just added flavor. Yes it is a southern rock album but when you listen to Phish play it what do you hear? Oh I know just as many people that loved the set too. Phish fans are more jaded than any other fan of anything. If they break up again I hope you all have your tissues ready. Wait you will just blame Trey instead

rick astley November 16, 2010, 13:39:27

David, can you still have fun? You write about seeing Phish as if it was some miserable job you’ve been employed at for the last twenty five years. I think its time you retire the stopwatch, pack up the cape and find a new hobby.

phoammhead November 16, 2010, 13:42:59

pathetic writing and pathetic phan – i can’t believe jambands publishes such garbage phish’s performance of the Little Feat set was marvelous – no if, ands or buts about it – it was a great performance and a celebration!

102795 Bowie November 16, 2010, 13:46:05

::shakes head at zzyzx:: sorry, David, but you’re getting the first ‘Jaded Vet’ pin that we make for summer 2011 tour.

zzyzx November 16, 2010, 13:58:50

Free pin? W00T!

102795 Bowie November 16, 2010, 14:04:33

Zzyzx, we’ll have a ‘pinning’ next summer, hopefully at the Gorge, or a venue near you.

merchboy November 16, 2010, 14:05:47

I hope the irony of a phish phan being critical of another bands lyrics is not lost on you

102795 Bowie November 16, 2010, 14:29:20

Zzyzx, did you post reviews of the other Atlantic City shows / sets anywhere online?

zzyzx November 16, 2010, 14:35:17

bowie: no, but the reaction to this one doesn’t exactly make me want to write more ;) (Short version: I LOVED 10/30. The Whole Lotta Love teases, the Wolfman’s->Undermind, the peak in the Gin, the Zeppelin silliness… Great stuff. It’s a notch below Utica and Augusta and Manchester for me, but still a great time. 10/31 I I can’t be objective about because I was too stoked about the Spooky to know if I’m overrating it. Set III felt like everyone was kind of tired. Not bad, but just kind of an average Phish set)

Kyle November 16, 2010, 14:42:05

JaJaJa Jaded go see steven Tyler and the boys. We all have the right to our own opinion but when you make this garbage the “the Feature” you are rediculous. This set next to remain in the light was bar none the best and you obviously missed it. Im old school just like you and I was a lil upset at first by the choice but when I heard it I was glowing. Sorry you missed it bro bc it was off the hook and by hte comments on here Im not the only one that feels that way. I have a feeling you wrote this just to be one of those cool dudes where now it is uncool to like Phish,

Man in the Mirror November 16, 2010, 14:43:02

Not gonna dive into a debate as to whether the cover was enjoyable or not. I think that should stay in the realm of personal taste. But it is kind of sad to see a major website in this community publish such a poor excuse for a review. I am no journalist or critic myself but usually the good critiques offer some kind of knowledgeable panoramic view of the event, not just someones uninformed biased projections. Not one word on how this album was a huge influence on the band and meant a great deal to Trey. Or acknowledgement that while the music may not have been the writers personal taste Little Feat is in fact highly regarded by many musicians. In fact, I have heard Little Feat referred to as a musicians band. If one so chooses to listen to the cover carefully and with open ears they would hear how much Phish has been influenced by LF in the past and present (Camel Walk, My Problem Right There, Alaska, and others have some Featprints to be sure) yet not one level headed word on why the band perhaps chose this album other and the signficance of it. Not only that but this article is filled with contradictions. First it was sloppy then it was done as well as could be. The tempo was too slow but Loaded’s tempo wasn’t? Loaded is a pretty slow album besides maybe Rock n’ Roll, but that gets high grades because it had better lyrics. And the lyrics are not to your liking? Since when do people go see Phish for the lyrics. This types of article is fine in a comments section on a blog, or as a thread starter on a forum but it has no place as a review published by a major website. Let the writers who understand music and know how to write a comprehensive review do the work so that young Phishies can get an accurate understanding of what is going on.

zzyzx November 16, 2010, 15:07:13

“The tempo was too slow but Loaded’s tempo wasn’t?” Not Phish’s version. Sweet Jane had a fast jam in the middle of it, Head Held High and Lonesome Cowboy Bill were also reasonably fast, again with an extra jam in the middle of LCB. I’ll agree though that I could have made a little more clear that this is a musicians’ album. I mentioned it in passing, but could have developed that a bit more… then again the piece was running long already…

Matthau November 16, 2010, 15:23:21

David…i think you just don’t get Little Feat, don’t get the depth of their influence on the band, and don’t get that Phish don’t play fast stuff so well anymore. Thus, The slow, funky New Orleans styled Southern rock of Little Feat fit the band like a glove. I think it was one of the strongest halloween’s yet. I think that some of the Halloween covers like, Exile and the White Album have been too ambitious for the boyz. This one was just right. Alot of peeps don’t understand the granduer of Lowell George’s Little Feat, and that’s okay. Phish clearly do, and that made me happy.

matthau November 16, 2010, 16:02:11

Oh and another thing….why does this topic warrant an article to be written? Were people THAT dissatisfied with the music? I don’t get it. It’s so freakin’ dorky to overanalyze shit like this. Really, who cares if you don’t like their choice.If Phish wanted your opinion, they’d have asked. I guess the question should always be, how did the music SOUND? I think it sounded great, and i am pretty critical. ;) Isn’t Phish about musicianship. How the song is PLAYED and not just the song? I don’t think Exile sounded that great, for example. Phish didn’t capture the dirty, whiskey fueled decadence of that album. I am not sure anybody could, but still. For a band like Phish these days…it’s all about knowing limits, and playing to strengths.

zzyzx November 16, 2010, 16:19:34

“I don’t think Exile sounded that great, for example. Phish didn’t capture the dirty, whiskey fueled decadence of that album. I am not sure anybody could, but still. For a band like Phish these days…it’s all about knowing limits, and playing to strengths.” See, I go the other way. With a Halloween album I don’t want to hear that band, but rather a mixture of them and Phish. No Exile didn’t capture the Stones version, but it did something else, taking these songs and finding the parts that Phish liked and showing that off. And in general, for a project like this, I’d always prefer the band to challenge themselves instead of knowing their limits and playing to their strengths. That’s how you get better as a band.

Cnote November 16, 2010, 16:35:18

What a lame “featured” article. So you went to Atlantic City scared and were upset that the cover set didn’t live up to Phish lyrically? What a douche… You really don’t need to over analyze these shows. I went to sat and sun and the sets were awesome, being able to gamble and drink everywhere pre and post show was awesome, and i don’t know where you were but after the halloween show I partied at a casino listening to heavy pets till 4am with a bunch of great people in costume. Maybe it’s not a good idea to have someone who considers themselves “old and married” to review concerts that are obviously geared toward the youthful in spirit. Crap article – great shows.

DJ November 16, 2010, 17:07:23

I’m going to throw my support for zzyzx here. He is a topnotch writer and cultural observer who frequently validates my own borderline obsession in this band (and others). I remember seeing the LIttle Feat guys play with Phil Lesh about 12 years ago and had a horrible case of the blahs when they started a LIttle Feat mini-set. Different context, sure, but I think Little Feat is just a love ‘em or hate ‘em band. What saved the album choice for me this year was the stellar program notes in the Phishbill. It opened my mind up to the music and from there, I enjoyed the music probably more so from a musician’s perspective but less so as a phan.

matthau November 16, 2010, 17:12:39

Thanks David, i’ll buy that. But i guess my point is that with Waiting For Columbus, Phish liked it all and they showed it ALL off. To me it was a sign of what Phish are right now. They are a slighty older groove machine with some rock edge. I think the Little Feat album was a challenge for them. In large part due to the vocals and the sticky groove. Lowell George was a whiteboy with soul. I don’t think that Feat have ever been the same without him. Plus, the guys that played on Waiting for Columbus were the best of the best. So there were some huge musical shoes to fill.I think it was challenging but not out-of-bounds. Phish to ME right now are a great band, but they are aging and not in their 20’s anymore. When they take big chances these days…more then not, they fall on their faces. That’s okay….but it’s also good to be able to work with strengths. Leave the BIG chances to the younger bands with the crazy youthful abandon that Phish were known for. I love how Phish are now, but it ain’t 1996 anymore.

Suckie McSuck November 16, 2010, 22:05:37

I think the real problem is that David had too many hang-ups about Little Feat going into the show. He knew he didn’t like Little Feat and it sounds like he’d be damned if he was gonna give the set a fair shot.

deez nuts November 17, 2010, 04:48:45

newflash: phish shows suck. the music is garbage. the scene is garbage. phonier than a 3 dollar bill. on the other hand, waiting for columbus is a great album (even though it lacks universal appeal). hopefully some of these kids will wake up and get into music that’s not a pathetic imitation of great rock and roll.

Ferguson November 17, 2010, 12:04:57

Thanks for the review. Good writing as always. Little Feat is boring. Loaded was the most mind blowing performance.

RunawayJim November 17, 2010, 12:55:51

David, I had a different feeling for the Halloween show and felt they were trying to do something different than in the past. Instead of playing someone else’s album in a phishy manner, they were recreating the Little Feat concerts that made Waiting for Columbus, which meant not giving phishy twists as they did. I had been hearing the rumor and was excited (being a Little Feat fan). I had also been listening to their playing a bit harder and noticed they were sounding more like Little Feat during the 10/30 show. The influence was very obvious. And if you read the Phishbill, it made it obvious that they were going to play the album as that album. It didn’t need any altering because they were covering a live album. The songs were already altered for the live environment. Anyway… that’s just my 2 cents. There were parts that were boring, but I felt the same way at Fest 8 for Exile. As for parties in the casino, I was in the Tropicana late Saturday night and it was absolutely insane. I think people had just partied too hard over the course of the 3 days and knew they had to get up and leave on Monday.

Jason November 17, 2010, 14:17:00

Don’t let the haters hate on you Dave. If he didn’t like the set, he didn’t like the set. There have been a lot of glowing reviews for the set on the interwebz. There’s no need to attack Dave just because his opinions differ from yours. And I’ll admit that I was really hoping the rumors of Physical Graffiti were going to be legit. Saturday night’s show appeased that a little, I guess. Other than Dixie Chicken, I couldn’t have named another Little Feat song before hearing that set. But I had a fun time at the Halloween show, regardless.

the sweatness November 17, 2010, 15:17:58

David: I find it interesting that you thought so highly of the 10/30 performance. I only attended the 10/31 show (and thoroughly enjoyed their selection), and would agree that some parts of the set did seem a little slow, but I thought the overall groove and my mindset made up for that. When I downloaded the 10/30 show and gave it a listen, all I heard was messed up short versions of Zeppelin covers that weren’t practiced before they made it onto that setlist. In other words, it looks a lot better on paper than it sounded (...IMHO).

mikey freshH November 17, 2010, 15:26:28

I was at the bar the other night and they had “Waiting for Columbus” on the jukebox. I played the entire album front to back. It was absolutely amazing. The entire bar of drunks perked up their W.C. Fields bulbous red noses out of their whiskey sours and flat beer and were bobbing their head along. Just the tune “Spanish Moon” along got the place rocking and reeling. I had never heard it (WFC) before except for the Phish Halloween version. It is a powerful record and Phish did an incredible job of putting their own stamp on it. While it wasn’t a popular choice amongst fans and their heavy expectations, it was a fine choice for phish to cover. The band knew what people were expecting and they totally came from left field and knocked a home run out of the park. The level of execution of the Little Feat album was incredible. I love Phish because they are the ultimate teachers who just exposed a whole new generation of rock fans to this awesome Little Feat live album. I feel that the Zep tunes from the night before were somewhat sloppy and they were playing to people’s expectations – just to totally obliterate them on the next night. 10/30/2010 was a great show, and i’m sure it brought the house down in a live setting, but it wasn’t the “best show of the tour” as many people are touting. It was somewhat of a gimmick show. I still feel that the best this tour had to offer was Charleston 10/16 and the shows during the week after that leading up to Halloween. Of course “Guyutica” will be hailed as “best ever” because of it’s craziness and Manchester because of it’s crazy song choices, but go back and actually listen to Charleston night two and you will hear the birth of 3.1. It was a glorious thing to behold in a live setting – just seeing the band get their full on swagger back to 110%. I realize tis is just an opinion piece – but i must ask the author: is it possible for you to have fun at shows anymore? Do you always have to over-over-over-over analyze everything? Many people would have died to have been there. Maybe you need to try some real doses next time because they are around. Sometimes it’s best just to check your expectations at the door and enjoy yourself. It is what it is and obviously many fans expectations, like a suit of arms, are weighting them down – and so they sunk!

zzyzx November 17, 2010, 15:50:26

“but i must ask the author: is it possible for you to have fun at shows anymore?” *******************************************
Ask anyone who saw me on 10/11 and just wanted me to shut up about that Slave that I was going on and on and on about how amazing it was. I’ve been to 9 shows this year, thought 4 were outstanding (Greek 3, both Tellurides, 10/30), 3 were pretty good (Greek 2, Portsmouth, 10/10), one was ok (10/31) and one was kind of dull (Greek 1). That’s not a bad ratio at all, even if I know that Telluride and 10/30 didn’t quite hold up on tape. *******************************************
“When I downloaded the 10/30 show and gave it a listen, all I heard was messed up short versions of Zeppelin covers that weren’t practiced before they made it onto that setlist.” ********************************
First, give the Wolfman’s a listen. It’s really interesting. Secondly, yeah, it’s the ultimate had to be there show. In the moment, it didn’t matter that the versions were sloppy. It was a spontaneous moment of complete joy that will always effect how I hear the tape.

zinzarin November 17, 2010, 21:01:14

zzyzx, thanks for the review. I have to disagree with your opinion on this album performance; I was also there and I really loved it. I think it was Trey who said, in an interview leading up to the show, that fans should show up ready to dance. I really think they nailed it and I DID dance my ass off. That said, I really really really wish that the other commenters on here could dial down the discontent about this review. So many comments on here come off sounding like someone takes personal offense over the fact that zzyzx wasn’t geeked about the show. Everyone has their own experience with Phish, and zzyzx shared his with us. Not only that, but he did it well; the article was well thought out and well written. There’s nothing wrong with not liking something that Phish does. Part of what makes Phish so great is that the fanbase is both critical and permissive. We allow Phish to reach for new heights, and we speak our mind when we think they’ve failed. This gives Phish the room to grow and the information to know when it’s not working. It’s the critical eye expressed here by zzyzx that has helped to make Phish a better band.

earl thomlinson November 18, 2010, 00:41:29

@ the last comment. whatever. phish dosen’t need to heed reviews like this. they just don’t. After 25+ years they can and will do what they want. Phish has worked to get where they are. They can do damn well what they please. If we lose a few jaded assclown vets, so be it. They do not need to care what the ‘critics’ think. To think they lose sleep over clipboard freaks lame views is just silly. Phish > people with a watch and a clipboard. It is ludacris to think that they need to drink from this guys water dish. Lots of people liked this. and i mean lots. the critics need to stfu and dance. it will make the world a better place. when people bring their personal greivances to the phish scene the terrorists win. get it? we are sick of people shitting on the band because they are lame. grow up.

zzyzx November 18, 2010, 10:01:35

zin – thanks for getting what I was trying to do there. Glad you enjoyed the show. earl – do you see there being any room for non-positive reviews? I think I tried pretty hard to say that this was just one’s person’s opinion, and not an attack on the band or anything.

Phanart Pete November 18, 2010, 20:05:54

this was a solid review. while i enjoyed the show a great deal, it was some good analysis. not all songs were winners, and yes, the album wasnt as conceptual as many of the others. but it was fun. the beginning middle and end all had their moments. like many of the albums, its one of those shows where you pick and choose what you most enjoyed and ignore the other songs that fade into obscurity.
cant wait for them to play spanish moon again though!

nich obert November 19, 2010, 00:39:33

I can’t write Little Feat’s lyrics off as being about doing drugs and trying to have sex. In a generalized way, I guess you could be right, but most great rock and roll seems to boil down into little puddles draining towards one of those holes. People deal with the subjects all the time, but Little Feat manages to completely nail down the feeling of being a working man who just got paid and needs to live a little in order to justify the work he’s done.
The Feat’s lyrics are like a southern Velvets. The vices are different, but in both cases you can tell the songwriter is torn between their rational self screaming “Look at all the destruction this is causing” and their artistic animal reveling in the debauchery, every bruised vein, black eye and backroom abortion included.
I always felt Little Feat captured some timeless southern-workingman’s mystic vibe and can’t agree whatsoever with pegging them as a relic of the 70s. Although they clearly lack the influence on relevant modern music that the Velvet Underground has snowballed up through decades of all stripes of genius junkies rediscovering their work, a cursory poke around most any ol’ jamband’s catalog seems to unearth copious amounts of influence. That specific vein of greasy bluesy rock from the Band to Little Feat seems to be the predominant ingredient to “cow funk” in particular. Listening to a few Phish shows after hearing the WFC cover, I was hearing the influence all over the place. If anything, this seems like the album cover that revealed the most about Phish’s own musical DNA. People always draw the line from Remain In Light to 97’s devotion to funk, but it always sounded more like Little Feat to me. All Fishman’s asides throughout the show reveal a nervousness to be covering this material, everything he says almost comes off as apologetic, as if he wasn’t sure if they were quite capable of doing the album justice. You can interpret that positively or negatively, but I feel like that respect really shined through from beginning to end, even on Rocket In My Pocket. The cover was perfection in my mind, only suffering by the album’s own haphazard sequencing, and your concerns in that regard are well founded. It’s a shame that the label hacked away at the album to begin with, denying Phish the ability to shower love on a more cohesive document of sneakily classic American music. All love to anyone who liked Loaded more than Dark Side though :)

Kyle November 18, 2010, 23:45:05

I coulda left after Ghost>Spooky. I love lil feat. great article to each their own but there are sooooooo many Jaded Vets. Been to 82 shows since 95 and I still have fun!

zzyzx November 19, 2010, 08:10:27

nich: interesting comments. Thanks!

long time reader, 1st time poster November 19, 2010, 10:22:25

worst review ever: long, boring, pointless, and does nothing to offer any insight into what happened in Atlantic City. the only things i learned from this article is that the author is a nagative nancy who did not have any fun in Atlantic City and he does not like lyrics about sex, drugs, and rock & roll.

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