Selection: “Carini->Taste>Ghost>Boogie On Reggae Woman>If I Could”
Memo’s “Other Jams” Memo: A very good “Ocelot” that leads to a cool “Beauty of Broken Heart, Possum”
From Eric Wyman:
That’s what they call it, anyways. Before 2012, all discussion around Phish was this massive tidal movement, oscillating between lavish praise and unmet expectations. Shows could be amazing one night and a total flop the next. At least, that’s how it seemed. For the hyper-aware of phans, it was a guarantee that even at its best the music could never be grouped with anything pre-2009. It was a tough mountain to climb. Almost like the latest version of Phish needed to pay its dues. Get hazed a little bit. I’m not sure why, but that’s how it seemed.
Then, 2012 rolls along and opinions begin to shift, ears begin to hear nuances and exploration that makes the brain think that something special was happening. Sure, we’ve heard great music in the past few years, but in 2012 it sounded different, better, sweeter. And it all began on the first night of Summer Tour in Worcester. A show that for all intents and purposes was a “practice” show and probably carried the equivalent expectations. Until the second set began.
The opening riff to “Carini” starts and the crowd begins to swell. One of the prototypical energy builders in the repertoire, just the emotion felt amazing. And then, at the 4:00 mark, the first drop. A hypnotic and rhythmic drone that separates the melody from the original song as Fish beats out a march into an amazing musical exploration. Twisting and turning, dark and dingy, the beat thunders along to the 7:00 mark where Page begins to bring the band upwards towards the light. It’s the same tone but headed in a completely different direction. Light and airy, fresh and clean. The same way that “What’s the Use?” is light and airy. The rhythm slows and it’s painfully obvious that this isn’t a “practice” show. The segue into “Taste” provides a respite, but as it closes, Trey picks back up on one of the loops he had built at the end of “Carini.” As he begins to scratch out the opening to “Ghost,” the whole band briefly reconnects on the “Carini” jam before beginning. Subtle and brilliant.
“Ghost” begins. You may hear a “Cities” tease, but you didn’t. A fantastic pre-break interlude from Page. Band butchers the break because they want to and the song everyone loves to hear launches. It’s a good version following the already fantastic set opener but the real joy comes after the segue into “Boogie on Reggae Woman.” A song that can be standard at best, revered more for the infectious groove and Mike’s bass effects than improvisational potential, this version is different. At one point, inspiration strikes Trey in a manner that I will be forever grateful for. He suddenly, and without warning, begins to build his own riff over Mike.
Infectious and bouncy, the structure of the song remains but Trey begins a build. At first, it’s just repetitive but with a subtle tweak, it changes and Fish pushes into a build. Suddenly this “Boogie on Reggae Woman” is a brilliant, soaring major jam. A precursor to later standout in the “BGCA Light.”
Hear me now and tell me I don’t know what I’m talking about later but this “Boogie on Reggae Woman” is the band’s finest improvisation of the entire year. “Dick’s Light” blah, blah, blah… Yeah, heard that one. This is a band working in the structure of a song and creating a version of a song which is unlike almost any other that I know of. It’s not improvisation for the sake of jamming. It’s jamming on a song. Somehow, there’s a big difference in that comparison. Full disclosure, this kind of shit just runs the flag up the pole for me. I’m predisposed to it. But, that doesn’t make me back down from pointing out the subtle difference between the style of improvisation that separates this and the “Dick’s Light.” It’s fantastic.
Ultimately, on this night in Worcester, the potential for a change from years past was clearly seen and ultimately proven throughout the summer that followed.
I asked Eric for things he wanted to include in his bio, he wrote his own, which is way better than anything I could have written.
Eric Wyman is best known for making statements about Phish that almost no one agrees with. His work can be openly criticized at Phish.net and he has previously made contributions to Hidden Track. Best known for his ranting tirades on Twitter, he is arguably the greatest live-tweeter @YEMblog ever had. In his spare time, he enjoys fake baseball, organizing things in spreadsheets and male modeling.
Favorite Ghost: Eric Wyman – Radio City 5/22/00
Video by mkdevo