PHISH Summer 2012 at SPAC
- By Brandon Chiat, Andrew Duch and Ryan Nelson
- Published on July 11, 2012
|Photo Courtesy of Phish's Facebook|
As the preeminent jam band in the country ventures off on their 2012 Summer Tour, various fans, Headstash staff writers and even some random, first-time Phish-goers will submit reviews of each night. They'll tell you their favorite songs and segues, how the crowd reacted and whether this show is worth buying, downloading or skipping altogether.
Read out previous Phish tour reviews below:
June 7 and 8 – DCU Center – Worcester, MA
June 10 – Bonnaroo 2012 – Manchester, TN
June 15 – Bader Field – Atlantic City, NJ
June 16 – Bader Field – Atlantic City, NJ
June 17 – Bader Field – Atlantic City, NJ
June 19 and 20 – nTelos Pavilion – Portsmouth, VA
June 22 and 23 – Riverbend Music Center/First Niagara Pavilion – Cincinnati, OH/Burgettstown, PA
June 28 and 29 – Klipsch Music Center – Noblesville, IN
June 30 and July 1 – Klipsch Music Center – East Troy, WI
For a complete list of tour dates, check out Phish's official website.
July 6 – Saratoga Performance Arts Center – Saratoga Springs, NY
Set I: Runaway Jim, Ocelot, Heavy Things, Back on the Train, Funky Bitch, Tube > Psycho Killer > Tube, Hold Your Head Up > Cracklin' Rosie > Hold Your Head Up, Stash, Bouncing Around The Room, Paul and Silas, Horn, Corinna, Light Up Or Leave Me Alone
Set II: Chalkdust Torture > Carini > Sand, Roses Are Free > Punch You In The Eye > Sneakin' Sally Through The Alley > Ghost > Suzy Greenberg > Run Like An Antelope
Encore: Loving Cup
Best Song: Sand - It may have just been the palpable energy in the Pavilion (sorry lawn folks, the balcony was literally bouncing), but something truly set this version apart for me. Before allowing Trey to take over the song’s addicting primary riff, Mike threw down some exceptional bass lines that set the tone for the performance. Trey’s melodies also stuck out in my mind as especially unique and original.
Best Jam and Segue: Sneakin’ Sally > Ghost - The boys settled quickly into a great vocal jam accentuated by Trey’s melodies before cruising into some heavier pick work. Mike held down the line while they descended into a seamless ethereal transition into Ghost.
Best Moment: Psycho Tube! - Undoubtedly the most unexpected, and consequently best, moment of night one transpired during a fiery first set “Tube.” The crowd erupted as Trey played the opening riff and first verse of “Psycho Killer” (only the fourth time in Phishtory).
Sloppiest Moment: Punch You In The Eye - It's really unfortunate to hear this song botched, it's easily one of my favorites but only when it's executed flawlessly. Luckily, the momentum of the second set did not suffer as a result.
Twitter Recap: The final run of Phish's first summer tour leg leads off with a bang. An excellent setlist and a tight, cohesive performance with some great surprises.
Rating out of 5: 3.7
Buy/Download/Pass: Just don't pass - everyone needs to hear this Psycho Tube!
- Ryan Nelson
July 7 – Saratoga Performance Arts Center – Saratoga Springs, NY
Set I: Grind, Possum > Golgi Apparatus, The Moma Dance, Torn and Frayed, Rift, Cities > Maze, Lawn Boy, Peaches en Regalia > Bathtub Gin, Good Times Bad Times
Set II: Down With Disease > Blister In The Sun > Down With Disease > Boogie On Reggae Woman > Golden Age > Also Sprach Zarathustra > Backwards Down The Number Line > Prince Caspian > Scent of a Mule > Blister In The Sun > Mike's Song > Contact > Weekapaug Groove
Best Song: Boogie On Reggae Woman - Excellent placement fro a smoking version of the Stevie Wonder classic that saw Gordon laying down a thick groove complemented by Page's work on the clav.
Best Jam: Down With Disease - A patient and spacey jam that served as a vehicle to deliver brilliant and unexpected transitions into both "Blister In The Sun" and "Boogie On Reggae Woman."
Best Segue: Down With Disease > Blister In The Sun > Down With Disease > Boogie On Reggae Woman > Golden Age > Also Sprach Zarathustra - 45 minutes of seamless, patient jamming. Silky smooth transitions delivered with style and mastery were complemented by several "thank you, Sir, may I have another?" peaks. The best it gets in 3.0.
Best Moment: The last Saturday night of leg one featured Phish in seasoned form. While some could argue there has been a lack of variation in the song selections during this tour, summer 2012 has been defined by bust-outs and tonight was no different.
Whether it was the a capella version of “Grind” to open the show or the totally unexpected cover of Violent Femmes’ “Blister in the Sun,” Phish has been demonstrating a complete mastery of their repertoire, proving they can still surprise. The true “best moment,” though was when the boys paid tribute to the late Adam Yauch, better known as MCA from The Beastie Boys, by encoring with a rowdy take on “Sabotage.”
Sloppiest Moment: Mike messed up the lyrics to second verse of “Mike’s Song,” and his visible frustration was caught on the big screen. This was a small hiccup in a song, from a show, during a tour that has seen Cactus in fine form. From Atlantic City on, Gordo has been dropping bombs and his back and forth with Page on this night proved that the group's jamming dynamic is as strong as ever.
Twitter Recap: In 2011, this may have stood alone as the show to bear, but in 2012 it was another in a long line of impressive and satisfying nights. Set II is in the discussion for best of the year.
Rating out of 5: 3.4
Buy/download/pass: Buy, although it was streamed on Sirius' Jam On station so look for it there.
- Brandon Chiat
July 8 – Saratoga Performance Arts Center – Saratoga Springs, NY
Set I: AC/DC Bag > My Soul, Camel Walk, Sample In A Jar, Wilson > Party Time, Gumbo, Nellie Kane, Driver, Foam, If I Could, Split Open and Melt > La Grange
Set II: Axilla > Light > Twist > Kill Devil Falls > My Friend, My Friend > Swept Away > Steep, Piper, Free > Kung, Harry Hood, Cavern, David Bowie
Encore: You Enjoy Myself
Best Song: Light
Best Jam: Piper - Just slightly edging out the consistent jam vehicle, "Light." Coming out of the chorus, Trey settles into a comfortable melody around the 5:25 mark. The band wanders through “Light”-esque soundscapes for a bit until Trey kicks it into high gear around 8:07. The energy builds as Trey takes center stage for a while until stepping into a hard-hitting rock progression at the 9:43 mark.
As Page ramps up the chords on the organ, Trey wails. The chords fade as Trey and Mike lock into a tightly wound groove at the 12:15 mark while still carrying much of the earlier progression’s form. Fishman rides the hi-hat and cymbal as the music fades into an eerie bliss. Trey and Fishman provide some background vocals throughout the last minute as the band finally lands into perfectly placed “Free.”
Best Segue: Light > Twist - The "Light" jam featured exquisite playing throughout. And as Page’s sound effects started fading out, you could hear Trey quietly hitting the opening chords to “Twist.” A truly seamless transition emerged. What was remarkable about the “Twist” was how it was used as a simple landing to the powerful “Light” jam versus as a full-featured jam vehicle on it’s own.
Best Moment: The opening notes of “YEM.” It was fitting that only the second “YEM” of the year so far came in during the prime encore spot of the final show of leg one. The crowd roared as they moved through the compositional section. The highlight came in Trey’s jam portion of the song as he brought the band through one final, high-energy romp. The vocal jam was also above average and Kuroda’s use of the lights during the final section was great.
Sloppiest Moment: Trey skipping the first verse of “Light.” Also, Trey getting a little too wrapped up in his dancing during Mike’s YEM part that he forgot to jump back in for the vocal jam when the rest of the band did.
Twitter Recap: Set II was a flowing, cathartic and end-to-end masterful Phish set. The musical continuity was the best we've seen in 2012 and a must-listen for every fan.
Rating out of 5: 3.9
Other Notes: A solid first set that saw some unusual surprises in one of the best “Party Time” jams I have seen and a great bust-out in the “La Grange” cover.
“If I Could” was the highlight for me as Trey executed a near-perfect version of the beloved ballad over Page’s beautiful piano arpeggios.
The second set also featured a stand-out “Hood” that can compete with any of the tour. It fit so thematically well into the rest of the set, you could tell the crowd knew it was in for a good “Hood” well before Mike dropped into the opening notes.
- Andrew Duch
Stay tuned as we continue to publish quick-hit fan reviews from each night of Phish's Summer Tour 2012.
What did you think of the SPAC shows? Let us know in the comments below . . .