The twelve best moments from Phish's fall tour
There was a lot of excitement leading up to Phish's Fall tour, as indoor Phish is a whole different monster from the summer shed extravaganzas that leave you in the sunlight for the first set; these shows get dark and dirty from the get go. The band rehearsed and wrote new material in a barn together prior to the Fall tour, and the work they put in was evident as new life was breathed into old classics that had become pretty standard, as well as just the sheer difference in moods that the same song would have on any given night. Here are the twelve best musical moments of the 2013 Phish Fall Tour.
12."Roggae" - Hampton Coliseum, Hampton, VA, 10/18/13
This jam isn't the most exploratory by any means, but it came as such a surprise from a song that doesn't get the extended treatment much. Beautiful interplay from Mike and Trey, as they build a lush midtempo sound and the piano twinkles alongside until they build into a rousing, stomping end.
11."Drowned" - DCU Center, 10/26/13
A welcome and surprising second set opener, this classic from the Who's Quadrophenia exploded in Worcester. They carefully went off the deep end, maintaining a peaceful chordal groove, until Gordon and Anastasio began to weave careful high melodies, as a "Sitting in Limbo" by Jimmy Cliff tease took the whole thing on a psychedelic lullaby turn.
10. "Twist" - Boardwalk Hall, Atlantic City, NJ, 11/1/13
On a Halloween run where they tossed their main gimmick, the band threw back many smaller ones. Here, Trey plays a riff, takes it up a key and teases Leo Sayer's "Long Tall Glasses" while smoothly placing the melody line for "Get Back" by The Beatles in, and the band begins to play ascending notes, and then just hitting crescendos with the crowd going nuts for every repetition. Trey begins to tease Queen's "Under Pressure," and McConnell immediately falls in with the piano part. They keep playing it into the bridge and jam it out with butchered lyrics but a ton of spirit.
9. "Golden Age" - XL Center, Hartford, CT, 10/27/13
This TV on the Radio cover gets mixed reviews from fans, but regardless of what you think of the first part, it's been getting really interesting when they go Type II with it. Page putting the emphasis on the first note of the measure gives the rest of the band lots of room to play in. A "Manteca" type rhythm kept it light and jazzy here, with Fishman building up the tension as Gordon threw bouncy notes out to the crowd. When the main melody sneaks in and fades away, they go into some bubbly, underwater funk. Some off tempo wooing goes on, and Page shuts them all up, ravaging the clavinet until a gorgeous outro with delicate Siket Disc-like beautiful noise leads them out.
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8. "Carini" - Hampton Coliseum, Hampton, VA, 10/18/13
This "Carini" continued in the Fall tour style of not being so dark and spacey, and where the Atlantic City "Carini" was major-key bliss, this was the major-key funk. Fishman is in top form here, throwing in extra fills like he's throwing a pair of dice. They stayed in the same key as they went into the improvisational part, with some hard hitting and pure rock, until Gordon threw a funkier bass line down, and employed the use of his newer toy, the SA Orbital Modulator, that he has been playing with since Dick's. From there, they steered straight into some Sanford & Son-style bouncy funk, teasing the Commodores "Machine Gun." McConnell completely controlled the reins until Trey started ripping it up. They hit a nice groove and stay for a moment in a "Quinn the Eskimo" jam, and then Trey teases "Tears of a Clown," and they settle down into a slower tempo to transition into the next song for a seamless dance party.
7. "Theme From the Bottom" - Boardwalk Hall, Atlantic City, NJ, 11/2/13
Continuing on theme of bringing the funk, the band made the not usually funkified "Theme From the Bottom" so smoothly funky that even the theme from "Shaft" shows up. As the jam kicks in, Trey's banter extends from the previous night's "Makisupa Policeman," with Trey asking Fishman who his least favorite President is (Bush) and what his favorite beer is (anything from Anheiser-Busch). While the jam stays in the porno funk soundscape and just maintains the groove, that specific groove is so dirty and funky that with the added goofy antics, this version is classic gimmicky Phish.
6. "Twenty Years Later" - The Santander Arena, Reading, Pa., 10/29/13
When "Twenty Years Later" gets the proper type II treatment, it takes on really epic proportions. This version goes through various themes, and it sounds so organic and naturally flowing. There's no forcing each other to push further or any meandering here. A quick, hard-hitting "Foxy Lady" jam works its way in, and the band flows right back out of it by tossing the "Twenty Years Later" melody in carefully. Next, Gordon takes a slow paced solo, and McConnell backs up his sound while Fishman leads them into a swaggery swing tempo that finds itself in an "American Woman" jam and ends with harmonically pleasing layered notes that transition into "Piper" with ease.
5. "Gotta Jibboo" - Boardwalk Hall, Atlantic City, NJ, 11/1/13
This has been pretty standard in 3.0, save for the 7/4/10 Alpharetta version, so when this rendition started with Trey throwing in some licks that were different than usual, and then Fishman picked up the speed, people were suddenly at attention. I don't even know if you can call this a jam, so much as crescendo-rock, with the groove staying right there the whole time. Eardrums rang as they played higher and higher, louder and louder, layering it on harder with every repeated measure. As they reached the ethereal peak, the low bass voice of the guy next to me cut through it all as he declared to no one in particular "this is epic!" Indeed.
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4. "Twist" - Glen Falls Civic Center, Glen Falls, NY, 10/23/13
This "Twist" is atmospheric with a subtly changing tempo that takes the band into a very loose but confident place. It's a lesson in energy efficiency. When they pull back just a little, the tension builds that much more, making this a really jazzy ensemble version that gets you so hyped up and ready to hit a peak, that is always just in reaching distance but never reached, and yet it's still satisfying. Fishman keeps a web of percussion rolling the entire time, drifting into a dreamy zone with fragile fretwork from Trey that sets up "Wading in the Velvet Sea" perfectly.
3. "Tweezer" - Hampton Coliseum, Hampton, VA, 10/20/13
"Tweezer" has always been a monster, and this year alone, it has had its share of standouts, each with their own personality. Dropping in carefully, Gordon keeps a steady beat and uses his power drill on his bass, as Trey sustains some beautiful, clean jazzy notes with his whammy pedal. McConnell picks up on the clavinet, as everyone seems to finish each other's musical sentences. This quieter style of jamming really lets you appreciate the musical communication going on up there. Trey strums the same chord fast, making a dark, industrial moment that veers off into a dreamy space outro that sounds reminiscent of "What's the Use."
2. "Down With Disease" - The Santander Arena, Reading, Pa., 10/29/13
Opening set two with this monster, you knew you were in for a treat the second the band played "Pop Goes the Weasel" in the intro. Here they launched into the jam full blast, exploring a few different themes that were, at times, dark and aggressive and harmonic and soaring at other times. The guys built up effortlessly into a huge, joyful peak, and then Trey bent his strings upward into some Allman-esque riffs and into an exquisite blissful solo that released some of the prettiest music I've heard.
1. "Carini" - Boardwalk Hall, Atlantic City, NJ, 10/31/13
A fever pitched "Ghost" jam produces some really intricate, tight and layered dance action, and then slows to a lull to begin what may be the VIP song for 3.0, "Carini." From the moment Trey goes "BOOP!" you know it is on. The guys drop right into the jam with dissonance, with Page slamming the keys, as Trey floats some careful staccato lines above the others. This "Carini" doesn't go to the dark side as it tends to, but rather into some beautiful major chord swells. The band plays with volume and sound levels here, expanding louder and softer, while patiently building tension with every new swell. Gordon throws a couple bass bombs in, and they begin some thematically major-key wanking away, aiming higher and higher until it's just pure majestic bliss.
Keep reading for the best non-musical moment of Phish's fall tour
The Mennonites at the Reading show.
Saw the couple grabbing beers at concessions and another on a phone with a sign saying "Will trade chicken eggs for a ticket," and I thought they were fans in well executed, early Halloween costumes. When the show started and they didn't know the music, just swiveling their straw hats on the floor looking around, we knew they were real. They even stayed through second set. If only we could hear what they told their friends the next day.
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