33 in 33 #27 08/25/2012 Aaron’s Amphitheatre at Lakewood, Atlanta, GA (Kenny Mitchell, @KernelForbin)
Selection: “Chalk Dust Torture->What’s the Use?”
Memo’s “Other Jams” Memo: “Kill Devil Falls>Golden Age”
From Kenny Mitchell:
For my piece, I chose what I thought was a huge reinforcement of the style we had come to expect from 2012. This “Chalk Dust Torture” was the first real jammed version we had seen since Camden 2010 (and Hampton 2004 before that). As we later found out, it was merely a precursor to the massive version at Dick’s. It may not have been a Cincy “Twist,” SPAC “Piper” or any of the other monumental jams we had already seen in 2012, but it was a prime example of Phish wanting to dive into the deep end together.
This show in general was by no means a standout performance. Many of the songs were well executed and the setlist flowed rather nicely, but we just did not see the same sort of improvisation that occurred in the previous week. “Golden Age” and “Light” were the only real glimpses we saw of the band taking risks. “Golden Age” gave us some ‘plinko funk’ to gnaw on with a nice spacey Mike-laden outro. “Light”, possibly the MVP song of the summer, didn’t push the boundaries too far before it was cut short for “Wading in the Velvet Sea”.
“Wading” concludes, the bathrooms free up, and the band launches into the 400th version of “Chalk Dust Torture”. It would seem at this point that the show is totally “phoned in.” No one expected them to take “CDT” anywhere, especially after the very safe show that had been played thus far. This version may only clock in around 10 minutes, but it surely gets a lot more accomplished than many others of the same length.
The song kicks off and is well played. Mike is the star of the composed section with some nice runs in between verses. The last we hear of the lyrics occurs right at the 3 minute mark. It is a full minute ahead of most other versions in recent times. They blaze straight through the composition and get to the jam. The very first notes of the jam show us that Trey is ready to experiment. He rips into the guitar with some laser-like notes, immediately abandoning the usual rock-solo we hear at this point in the song.
Once he is done firing lasers, Trey tries to take a dive. Unfortunately, no one was really ready to abandon ship just yet and there is a bit of a stumble. The band immediately reconnects with the usual soaring note from Trey and big hit from Mike and Fish (4:10). They get one more round of your standard “CDT” jamming in and then they move as a unit into uncharted territory. Everyone is on board. Here we are, under two minutes into the jam, under five minutes into the song and we are already seeing a totally new “CDT” — a “CDT” that hasn’t showed its face in some time. The Camden 2010 version, while twice the length of this version, took MUCH longer to reach this point. Trey is leading the charge and everyone is eager to follow him into the abyss.
The five minute mark is reached and the only thing reminiscent of “CDT” is Fish’s drumming. That doesn’t last long as Fish abandons the snare and begins to really add some flair to the beat. Fish goes to town with bell hits and some all around amazing cymbal work. It is obvious that the band is really listening to each other right here. Trey, while once leading the charge, has found his happy place and begins to paint a perfect backdrop for the rest of the group to do their work.
Page is the first to take advantage of the space provided and begins to create absolutely beautiful melodies. He strings chords and notes together so well and gives the listener a feeling of full on bliss. You just can’t help but smile when listening to Page work his magic for the next minute of this jam. It isn’t long before Trey decides to take control again. Trey begins to alter his backdrop riff to be more and makes it known he is about to come in full force.
We then begin to hear a theme develop that very much reminds me of the Star Lake “Light.” Trey kicks on an effect that has reared its ugly head many times throughout the year. My good buddy jdisk (who wrote about the 6/16 “Light -> Manteca -> Light”) calls this the “ugly bastard step-cousin” effect from Trey and it has always created some hilarious imagery for me. You’ll hear the effect I am speaking of right around 6:50. Trey only dabbles with the effect this time and continues with his perfectly soaring riff that he was getting at before the bastard step-cousin reared his ugly head.
This whole time, Mike has been diligently thumping away on his bass. We have seen him take the lead in many jams lately. Mike is usually the driving force behind the various themes we hear in the exploratory jams but he has yet to take the reigns. Listen closely to his bass lines, though. He is holding this entire jam together like no one else can. He is moving the jam forward with a full head of steam while still allowing the others to create anything they wish on top.
We reach the 8:00 mark and Trey is still in the lead. At 8:25, Trey pulls cord with a few quick strums that stops the jam in its tracks. The whole band breaks free at once into pure open space. It would appear that this jam is done as Fish does a big song-ending swell on the cymbals. Trey strums again indicating that he ain’t done yet. Fish slowly builds a cymbal-heavy beat back up, exercising wonderful dynamic range. He continues to build, popping the snare harder each time he hits it and then…
Mike. There he is! This is what we have come to expect from him. The jam is running out of steam when Mike aggressively takes the wheel and steers everyone in a new direction with some massive thumps. Mike has every intention of moving this jam on to another plane as he composes a new idea for all to follow. Fish is right behind him and is on top of the theme without missing a beat. Unfortunately, it doesn’t appear that Trey is having it.
Trey is now satisfied with the work they put in to this excellent version of “CDT” and is ready to move on. You can hear him rapidly working his pedals to get the right effect for what’s to come. He then lets the first notes of “What’s The Use?” rip through the air. Through what seems like an act of defiance, no one really follows him. Maybe Trey just caught everyone off guard when he cut off the “CDT,” but the big drop in to “WTU?” is missed and that always sort of kills it for me. The band does slowly emerge together in to the tune as they know there is no turning back now. Page is the all-star of this “WTU?” and he really goes to town slicing the air and bathing the audience in electric goodness.
This take is otherwise about what you would expect from the song. It is well-played other than the drop and it is a good cap to what we got from the “CDT.” I was extremely pumped up about this version of “Chalk Dust Torture” when it happened because it was another case of them proving what they are here to do. They want to jam, they want to create new and unique music, and they’ll do it with whatever song they damn well please.
Kenny has proven to me and many others what a valuable part of the Phish community he is. He spends countless hours remastering, setting up full show replays, and helping to improve the listening experience for Phish fans. Kenny is the creator of the Turntable Phish Room where many projects/ideas have formed. Check it out, a great place to listen to great Phish and meet some remarkable fans.
I can’t thank him enough for all the work he does to help me.
Kenny runs an insane amount of Phish content…Here is the list
From Kenny Mitchell:
The Denver “Ghost” is one that I really just can’t get enough of. It seems like a crime to have to choose between Denver and Radio City, but if I must, I choose Denver. The Radio City “Ghost” is full of great blissful Phish. The Denver “Ghost” has a very blissful section and then a full on funky-as-hell segment. It pulls ahead for me, however slightly it may be.