September Third: Dick's Part Two Page 2
Down with Disease Mike teases the Brady Bunch theme as he builds the gooey, watery noise signaling the beginning of "Disease." Out of the gate, it'smedium tempo, and - call me pessimistic - but halfway through I could tell they weren't going to be taking any real chances on it. That's not to say that it's not entertaining, but it's a shame they never capitalize on the cool turn the song takes around the 9 minute mark. Instead they twist around a bit before building a transition to move along.
Tweezer Thankfully, they move on to "Tweezer". If ever there were a song to build the expectations of the crowd, it's this one. About 5 minutes in, I started to have a good feeling about this one. Sure, Trey's basically hanging on one note there and the rest of the band is basically just vamping behind him, but there's something about the way they're doing it that signals something good to come. And indeed - though it takes almost another 5 minutes to get there - they do land in a cool groove; maybe just the kind of repetitive groove that gets Phish flack from its detractors, but that doesn't bother me any.
Golden Age As if the ending of that "Tweezer" wasn't good enough, Trey manages to work it into the beginning of TV on the Radio's "Golden Age" almost seamlessly. Ever since they first played this song in Albany on 11/27/09 I've thought they should make it a part of their regular repertoire, and given that they've played it 6 times since June, I think I've gotten my wish. I think this song has the potential for big-time jams on the order of "Roses are Free," but we may never know - as in previous performances, they don't really jam it out.
Limb by Limb Always a fun diversion. Fishman's stuttering beat on this song is a great example of why so many drummers love Phish. Not only is the drum part interesting, the rhythmic nature of the rest of the parts turns much of the song into a clockwork of sorts. The band does a great job of keeping the energy up, building tension, and then letting the whole thing boil over into a steaming bubbling jam of the first order.
Kill Devil Falls Another of the better songs to come off of Joy. When I first heard it, I had it pegged as a first-set song, but after some time I have come around to seeing its jam potential. So far, it hasn't gotten hugely exploratory really, but if they ever start doing it again regularly, I'd expect this one to get crazy eventually. This version sees a few peaks and some furious keys from Page that seem to push Trey up into the stratosphere where he starts some high pitched shredding before the band lets the whole thing disintegrate into loops and ambience before heading into . . .
2001 Deep growling bass from Mike mark the beginning of this classic cover. Page follows up on that with some tense synths before Trey starts the main theme. Most of this version is standard, though Page keeps it interesting in places.
Light I can't say that I'm the biggest fan of this song, but it has become a regular denizen of the second set and the second half of the song does lead to some sweet jams. This time out Page starts vamping on the keys while Trey trickles out some guitar work on top for most of the middle of the song. There's a delicacy to Trey's playing that almost grabs you by the collar before Page lightens up and Mike takes a more prominent role. Before long they're locked into a staccato pattern and Page is sweeping over it all with a whining bends of notes for a wall of sound that morphs into the "Down with Disease" theme again. Though Phish breaks it out as its own track, I'm not going to bother with that here as it's really an extension of the "Light" jam, and doesn't take long to morph again into . . .
Julius A nice breather after some exploration.
Cavern It's always hard to complain about "Cavern," and though there's no expectation of any serious jamming here, it can be a fabulous lead in to something of consequence. There's really solid playing throughout with Mike slapping hard on that bass and Fishman pushing firmly and punctuating with pizzazz.
Run Like an Antelope This has potential to be noteworthy and should be a nice way to close out the second set. The beginning section has a lot of light-hearted interplay before the band clicks into first gear and it starts to take off. And take off it certainly does, as Trey lets loose and the whole group climbs up one plateau at a time, building speed and intensity before cutting back into the main groove for the "rye rye rocco." From there they roll through a very standard ending - a nice, though not particularly special "Antelope."
Sleeping Monkey Trey introduces the song by alluding to the previous night's set list, saying, "We'd like to play a song now that starts with the letter S." Mellow encores like this often get a lot of flack, but this is a cute song, so I cut it some slack and this time they were pretty smooth with the harmonies. Plus, everyone at the show also knew that per the law of Uncle Ebeneezer's freezer, there's a 99.99999% chance that it'll transition into. . .
Tweezer Reprise The usual very welcome raucous affair with Mike laying down the mean bass growl, Page pounding it out on the piano, Fishman churning out the beat, and Trey rolling through possibly the most iconic guitar part in all of the Phish songbook. Page really lets loose a bit here, which is always great to hear and, of course, there's no denying the rock and roll ending of this song.
While this is a very good show in its own right - especially for fans of the Phish 3.0 era - the first night of the Dick's run still outshines it, if only for the dedication and the energy that the band put into it.