Selection: “Birds of a Feather->Back on the Train”
Memo’s “Other Jams” Memo: Rocking “Tube”, The Entire Second Set works awesome. The “Heavy Things” is super blissful, and the “David Bowie” is a tease fest, The “First Tube” encore is rocking.
From Daniel Saewitz:
On June 13th, a car was driving out of Camden, NJ. The Tweeter Center was slightly visible in the rearview mirror, as the two passengers funked the fuck out to the “Boogie On Reggae Woman” that Phish had served up just a few nights earlier in Worcester. People in other cars were staring at the two foolish kids in their early 20s. We didn’t care. Radiohead had just annihilated our feeble ears and tomorrow we would be heading down to Atlantic City to see our favorite band.
Come June 15th, the road to Bader Field was blocked off as phans swarmed across the pavement. An illuminated ferris-wheel gave the location a festival vibe, albeit sans camping. Fences and tents circled the open field in front of the homely Phish stage. Large totems cast shadows over the field. Everyone was ready for three days of Phish, gambling, and antics. “Let’s meet at the blue totem after the show.” Little did we know – the totems changed colors.
“The Sloth” opened the show to an excited crowd yet. The first set was relatively tame with a few highlights such as a solid 3.0 “Tube” that included bits of start-stop jamming. An above average “Stealing Time From the Faulty Plan” paired with a solid “The Squirming Coil” that closed the set. The band left Page on stage to take a short, yet beautiful solo.
After a generic “My Soul” opened the second set, the crowd began to get restless. Trey and Fish started up the rapid fire notes to “Birds of a Feather” and everybody was grooving once again.
Nearly immediately after leaving the composed section, Mike begins to thump away crisply as Trey fires off some simple Type I. Page compliments them both perfectly with a few highlighted notes. At 3:30 Trey switches the theme up ever so sweetly and the band quickly follows suit. Trey plays a few “Birds” riffs and then builds consistently, with Fishman locking into a tight groove. Page shows off his talent to mesh into the theme and tail the music.
As Gordon and Fishman build off of each other, Trey throws out more “Birds” riffs. Page mashes hard on the ivory as the band begins to build and build, culminating in a fantastic “Birds” machine-gun callback at 6:12. Everyone near the soundboard was buzzing with anticipation. Mike drops down and the guys move into parallel territory as Page lays down some blissful extended background notes. Fishman clanks away and Page plays a few swift swells toggling between fluid and jumpy. At this point, everyone knows this jam is going long. 8:00 minutes in, Trey extends a few drawn out notes, at which point Page takes the lead. At 8:30, Page redirects the jam into a different direction. Trey listens intrepidly and after a few measures, plays the exact same theme as Page. The Phish are at their best when all four members are locked in and listening to each other.
Trey rolls with that theme for a few more measures as Page moves forward, crunching alternating notes. Mike pushes the beat ahead and Fishman moves over to his cymbals. After a few wailing notes from Red, Mike leans to a quicker pace and Fishman follows instantaneously. Page drops chords while Mike jumps all over his bass. Fishman slows everything down and Trey takes the opportunity to play some gorgeous high notes. Gordo shows off his raw sound by mimicking Trey’s playing. Three of the guys swiftly run circles around each other, except for Fishman who keeps a consistent beat on his cymbal.
At 11:30 Trey begins to build a theme, dropping back down at the beginning of each measure until finally breaking through at 12:15. The music explodes onto itself, washing back and forth – all four members perfectly in sync.
The sea of fans detonate in pure ecstasy. Page plays a similar melody to that of Trey just a few seconds prior, as Mike slinks back into the shadows in perfect form. The Chairman lets out some stretched notes of utter beatitude, at which point Gordon jumps out, firing all over the fretboard.
Near 13:30, Mike gives us our first hints of “Back on the Train.” The band continues to push around Trey as he shows off his incredible versatility. Page holds down the keys as Mike moves the beat closer to “BOTT.” We can all hear it coming. Trey lets out those signature licks and Fishman follows almost immediately – ripe for a segue. At exactly 14:40, Trey, Mike, and Fishman move into “Back on the Train” resulting in a buttery smooth union between the two songs. I remember looking over at my friend and being unable to hold back a stupidly large smile. After a solid composed section, the band enters a slight plinko-funk jam and rides the $8 Train out of Atlantic City. Proving how quickly they can shift and meld styles from rock, to bluegrass, to funk, to a game on The Price is Right.
This Birds jam is the perfect example of the four members of Phish listening intently to one another. There is no real peak, but the jam is invigorating from the second they leave the song structure. To top it all off, the band members segued one by one over the course of thirty seconds to create a fluid and milky “->”.
Daniel is the creator of PhishVids.com and the more-recent ListenToTheDead.com. He volunteers for the Mockingbird Foundation and sometimes even enjoys listening to music. You can peer through a filtered window to his brain on twitter: @PhishVids.
Favorite Ghost: Radio City
PhishVids is a fantastic resource for the Phish and Dead community. I have used PhishVids.com to help with some of my “Ghost” reviews. Dan is always willing to help me if I need it and was a huge supporter of The Daily Ghost. Much Love Dan!