26 in 26 #2 07/05/2013 Saratoga Performing Arts Center, Saratoga Springs, NY (Maya Jaffe, @MoMayaDance)
Selection “46 Days->Steam”
Foreword by Tom Marshall:
46 Days into Steam. A good pair of Marshall songs despite being very dissimilar in subject and intent. I was there, I don’t remember the particular segue you’re talking about, but I remember the whole set blended. Also I was thinking that the next day was the one year anniversary of when I crashed the stage with the dude of life during run like an antelope. I was aware they had played run like an antelope the night before in Maine so I didn’t expect it on this night. And I was wondering if they would play it exactly a year later. Anyway it was a bit of an uncomfortable memory for me because I didn’t really want to go on the stage uninvited… But that’s what ended up happening.
-Tom Marshall; 06-07-2014
“So *THIS* is SPAC!” was the first thing I exclaimed upon entering the pavilion for the first time after having gone to the Saratoga Performing Arts Center the two previous times only to be relegated to the lawn. Being my first show of the 2013 Summer Run and the band’s track record at SPAC, I held high expectations for the night- and the boys from Vermont did not disappoint. Debuted songs (Yarmouth), new songs (Energy), jammed songs (Cities, Light), and songs with teases (DSky in Drowned) were all great, but the 46 Days -> Steam segue was the top moment of the night.
Before I propose the argument for why I chose this jam in particular, I have to provide some personal context. I’m the most jaded 3.0 fan I know. While some people chase unfrequently played songs, I go to a Phish show chasing something even more valuable, the ever rarer and more precious “->”. As such, I not only regard the daring 46 Days -> Steam as the jam of the night, but I even propose that it stood as a metaphor for the evolution of the band and how they’ve (read: Trey) finally reached a level of comfort with each other and themselves to enable a jam to evolve and have the fluidity to provide a segue that I can’t believe is not buttah.
As Trey plays the opening riff of 46 Days, Page provides some flurries that only listening in hindsight are a clear foreshadowing of the Steam ahead. My love for 46 Days though lies with Mike’s punchy bass line, constantly providing weird progressions that only a cactus is capable of producing. Fishman plays at a fan favorite slow-funk tempo as we make our way to the chorus which is fully utilized later on in the jam.
At around 2:00, Trey launches into an archetypal 3.0 solo – a blisslike safe place, but only from my new inside-the-venue perspective was it possible to see him bring the roof down as he reached the crescendo. Mike plays some incredibly interesting riffs under Trey in full Rock-Star-mode. At 5:30ish Trey begins to play a series of notes that make my heart melt, following a gorgeous riff that I have now listened to 5 consecutive times upon writing this that Mike and Fishman provide the perfect complement for.
At 6:40 or so the jam is trying to find its footing and by 7:30, on Trey’s lead, the band abandons the safe territory and launch into Funk Land. At this point, Trey plays simple but poignant funk riffs (hitting the wah pedal hard) while subtly handing the torch to Page who is full on Steaming with Mike enabling the move, dancing along the fretboard. It’s an uncoordinated predominantly white version of Soul Train in the pavilion as the band patiently lets the groove evolve until perfectly, Steam comes to the forefront at 1:10 (I believe at this point I let out an audible gasp).
Steam, being a newer song, is better every time I hear it, this one being no exception. I particularly liked that the ‘steam’ effects were more understated. Still riding the high of 46 Days bleeding perfectly into this, I welcomed the jam with open arms. The interplay between Mike and Trey is unique and exploratory, and while some notes didn’t work, I appreciated the risks taken in this jam way more than say, a perfectly played Slave. Okay, so at some points I felt like I was in the Whale room at the American Museum of Natural History – I still champion segues over all and commend Trey attempting new things rather than playing it safe. Hit or miss, things got weird, and I was definitely liking it.
There is something to be said for a perfectly executed song, or a 40 minutes jam vehicle that reaches new and interesting heights, but a perfectly executed segue is the mark of a great band, it is the epitome of moving together as a unit and providing set fluidity. This show had plenty of great isolated songs, but 46 Days -> Steam tells a story. It was a message that Phish is back and open to exploration leaving us all excited for what was to come.
Favorite Ghost (right now): 1997-06-19 Stash > Ghost > Saw it Again because it’s a nonstop segue funkathon and because Memo showed it to me with the preface “You’re gonna love this”
Maya brings energy and a keen mind when it comes to Phish. Extremely knowledgeable and passionate about Phish, she is a joy to be around.