Friday, October 29, 2010

Phish 24 October 2010 @ Mullins Center in Amherst, MA

Although Sunday night has gotten a bad rap, I left the concert thinking it had been a great show.  And I'm sticking to my guns.

I hadn't gotten a chance to tailgate the night before, so I was eager to check out the lot scene and the Shakedown.  The temperatures took a major plunge, and for the first time in my life I was jealous of the wooks - they had so much insulation! 

Healthy noms before the show!

We love our glowsticks!
I got inside and settled in only after being thoroughly checked and double-checked: they made me take off all my jackets, my bag, my scarf... what do I look like, a drug monger?  It was unsettling, to say the least.

But once I finally made it through security, I was ready to boogie.  Phish opened with AC/DC Bag, which is always a welcomed, albeit oft-played tune.  

The funktastic Camel Walk followed.  The first thought in my head was: Good fortune!  They overheard me singing this one in the lot this afternoon!  Then again, probably not.  Nevertheless, Cactus held it together with the interesting-yet-grounding bass lines while Trey jammed on. 

Then delicately came the Divided Sky.  The boys took their time with the first part, which is carefully orchestrated but seems different every time I see it live.  It seems to me that the pause Trey milks before delivering the last note of the main guitar motif gets longer and longer every show.  It's fun for the first thirty seconds; after fourty-five seconds it's sorta funny; but after a minute?  I'm getting bored. 
The remaining part of the song definitely made up for my momentary lapse in excitement.  Not only was it very well-played, there was an energy about it that made me feel as if I was listening to a late 90's show instead of one more than ten years later.  There was that organic quality to the music where it felt like it hadn't been played about a thousand times.  I found this jam to be engaging - lots of interesting note choices on Trey's part. 

Everyone has been practically gushing about the breakout cover of the 1970's hit Ride Captain Ride that followed.  This is one of those songs that just leave you feeling so happy it's almost disgusting.  Page took over the vocals for this one and the combination of the organ and piano he used made it feel like a real blast from the past.  
Time Turns Elastic was another one I was hoping to hear this weekend and - surprise! - I got my wish. I was a skeptic at first; it took me quite some time to come to terms with this tune.  This video I found of Trey doing it solo acoustic really helped me appreciate it as a composition and not just some new (slightly boring) song from their latest album.  Who knows?  Maybe it'll do the same for you.

The second set proved to be an eclectic array of songs - all were good, but did they quite fit together?  I'm not so sure.  
I've said before that Backwards Down the Number Line is a new favorite song of mine, and I'll say it again (no shame!).  Not only is it catchy, but I find myself relating to it on a personal level (Goodbye, prep school friends: will we keep in touch?  Here's hoping.)  It's no YEM, but every once in a while it's a good listen.

There were at least three Phan-made signs in the audience calling for Lizards, and Phish kindly obliged.  Everyone went nuts.  
I love the funky, upbeat song Brother.  I saw it at SPAC on Father's Day when the little members of the Phamily squeezed into a small metal tub.  Hah.  
Mostly I love this tune for it's crazy fast and funky bass line (but faithful readers, you could have probably guessed that one by now).  It's a short, fun dance tune.  I regret to inform you that it sounded like Trey was spazzing out a little during his guitar solo.  Most of it was well and good, but there was this one moment where his timing is the tiniest bit off, but it makes all the difference.  To err is human, but this guys are jam gods.  So what gives? 

David Bowie provided a solid end to second set.  If I had to rank Phish songs in order of my favorites (don't make me!), this would be in my top three or so.  I love that first eruption of sound that opens the music up to be played with.

Ya dig? 

This has all been wonderful, but now I'm on my way.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Time Turn Elastic - Trey Solo Acoustic

While you are eagerly anticipating my review of Sunday night at Jamherst (it's coming!), check out this video I found awhile back.  It gave me a new perspective on Time Turns Elastic.


Monday, October 25, 2010

Phish 23 October 2010 @ Mullins Center in Amherst, MA

I was excited to get back into the Phish scene this weekend in Amherst, MA.  I saw five shows this summer, and was definitely feeling a void after a whole two live Phish-less months.

But before I could get to the show, I had to do one of my own...

I sang, then booked it.  After a mad rush and some momentary confusion (where the hell are we?!), I finally made it into the Mullins Center just in time for Big Black Furry Creature From Mars (which I had never seen live before!).  It was short, but exciting nonetheless.  After a little more confusion (where the hell am I?!), I finally settled in and was ready to enjoy the show.  

The next thing I know, Trey's on drums and Fishman's gearing up the vacuum cleaner.  He sang and soloed over the Syd Barret's tune Love You.  There were victory laps.

The band launched into Tweezer Reprise, which immediately brought me back to that awesome ending to the 6/18/10 show in Hartford... But this time around was a little different.  In fact, this version could be more aptly titled 'Meatstick Reprise,' and here's why:

My reaction went something like: ...did that actually just happen? 
It did.  And it was awesome. 

The second set had a great song selection; they were the kind of tunes that I don't immediately jump to on my iPod, but I never end up regretting it when I do.  The set began with the murky bass line of Down With Disease, a great version which segued into My Friend My Friend quite nicely; the DwD jam was showing signs of going nowhere, and the opening guitar riff of MFMF cut right through.  

Maze proved to be the highlight of my night, despite the following Hood and YEM - sorry I'm not sorry.  I tend to gravitate to the songs that I have the strongest visual imagery for, and although YEM is definitely up there, Maze takes the cake.  I see radar blips, giant monsters, and racecars (among other things) when I hear this song.  Normal?  Probably not.

But enough about me.  The song itself was incredibly played on Saturday, with great buildup into a hellish jam.  Page took the lead on this one; he delivered motion, lots of color, and even more importantly, lots of dissonance.  When he finally decided to return to the glorious main theme, the crowd cheered like there was no tomorrow.  Trey slowly took over and led the music into another high-energy jam.  Hm.  I'm beginning to think there's something to this tension-release thing I've been talking about... 

Daddy-o has been promoting the idea that Wading in the Velvet Sea would be a great tune to try out a cappella.  At first I was skeptical (covering Phish?  Are we crazy college kids up to the challenge?), but after hearing it Saturday night and imagining it in terms of arrangement (cue my inner music theory scholar), I'm sort of... bent on doing it.  What a powerful performance that could be.

Unfortunately, I didn't end up feeling too good about Hood that night.  I hate to sound like a jaded old Phan when I say this, but I've seen better.  I just didn't feel anything special behind this one.  YEM was a quite different case.  Not only was it well-played, but there was a ton of energy and really interesting jamage. 

And contrary to what everyone else seems to think, I love the vocal jam.  It's a continuation of the jam that was happening before, but using a different medium.  And I think the way this article describes it as "an eerie, improvised a cappella that finished with piercing, unison screams, then faded to nothing" is incredibly apt (and quite possibly poetic!).

Why does the moss look electric green?

Friday, October 15, 2010

One of my favorite Jerry songs:

Second only to Standing on the Moon.
Here you are, you beautiful people:

Until we meet again,

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Cohesive - The McLovins

Last week brought many things: a few drenching rain jogs, a Canadian tuxedo, a paper or two, and most importantly Cohesive, the brand-new new single from The McLovins.  It was written by Tom Marshall, the chief lyricist for Phish and a friend of the band.  Pretty cool, if you ask me.

Maybe it's because I know the lyrics are from Tom Marshall, but I can just feel the Phishiness.  And that's a good thing.  There's a laid-back element to the sound that's different from their stuff on Conundrum and Good Catch.  It's also more traditionally structured: verse, chorus, verse, chorus, etc.  

I really can't wait to hear it live - I predict some really cool jams coming from this one.

The light shines on,

P.S. To hear Cohesive, click the title of this entry!

P.S. Check out this sweet behind-the-scenes video!  Relix - Video - Artist Exclusives - The McLovins, Tom Marshall and Anthony Krizan: The Making of "Cohesive"

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Just wanna ride my motorcycle...

The one thing I always neglect to explain is the significance of the pickle.
Enjoy one of my favorite Arlo Guthrie tunes on this wonderful fall Saturday.

Friday, October 1, 2010

TAB at the TAB

Just last week I received the Trey Anastastio Band's new album, TAB at the TAB.  Boredom was beginning to sneak up on me as I listened to the same few albums over and over, and over once more.  I needed something new to spark my interest; to revive my enthusiasm.

This did it. 

The album is a live recording of a TAB show from late February 2010 in Atlanta, GA.  At the beginning we hear a crowd cheering, and the band immediately dives into the opening riff for the rocker 'Money, Love & Change.'  Horns blast, the piano booms, and the sweet-slippery vocals are absolutely infectious.  I find myself humming this one much more than I had originally anticipated. 

Next up is the tender, melodious 'Words to Wanda.'  The best aspect of this slowed-down piece is the  delicate guitar solos that remind me of raindrops falling.  

The tune 'Valentine' is my favorite on the album.  It's fast-paced and has a ska feeling to it; not to mention, it's extremely catchy.  The opening guitar riff somehow reminds me of 'Piper,' which is one of my favorite Phish numbers.  Throw in some obscure lyrics, and watch the fun begin!  When I listen to this song, I feel like I begin to understand the goings-on inside of Trey's head.  

Check out a version from early February in Boston, MA:

Along with 'Alaska' and 'The Show of Life,' TAB covers three Phish songs on this album, my favorite being a rich-sounding 'Sand.'  Maybe it's the persistence of the bass line or the ongoing funky keyboard solo, but I mostly suspect the addition of a horn section.  They lend a hand to the guitar during the main riff, producing much more emphasis and articulation on the rhythm.  I really dig this version.. perhaps Phish should throw in some horns for their fall tour?

I only jest, dear readers.  But seriously, check out this cool version of the tune:

My other favorite song from the album is the hilarious, reggae-inspired 'Windora Bug.'  Tony Markellis (also known as "Fat Tony") takes charge on this one, posing the question "Is it a wind? Or a bug?" and finally coming to a resolution pleasing to everyone: "It's a Windora bug."  The joke sounds lame in writing, but in execution, I promise, it's hilarious. 

To be quite honest, I am surprised at how much I enjoy this album.  I had expected it to be good, but not something I haven't been able to get out of my head for a week.

So if you haven't tuned into this album yet, do it.  I dare you.

Adventure is out there!