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Wednesday, June 13

Worcester: Ah Yes. Phish Night 2.

Trey Anastasio - Worcester - 6.8.12 - Photo: Parker Harrington

With night one now in the phistory books, night two was completely sold out and the crowd was in a frenzy all day long. Heads were circling the DCU Center, popping in and out of Shakedown and the local bars. Many of them were desperately searching for tickets, with some even getting left out in the streets of Worcester.  Luckily the Gnome snagged me a ticket early in the night and I was in. After a very impressive first night that included a reprise, several extended type 2 jams and a general feeling of Phishiness in the air, I was hoping for big things.  A giant crew of about 40 of my friends from home, tour, school and beyond was in attendance for the sold out show. According to my friend Dezi, it was the first time he got the “this is my show” feeling from Phish with some of his personal favorites played and favorite crew around him.

Reminiscent of 12/28/2011, Phish started the show with Free. This one was much better than the Free from MSG, with this getting taken over the 9 minute mark. The song just sounded better overall with Trey’s guitar displaying much less shrill than past years. Mike and Trey were locked in at the midway point of the jam. It stayed type 1, but it was already looking like we had a heater on our hands.Next up was a nearly 10 minute long Kill Devil Falls. Once again, it was obvious that Trey was on fire right from the start. The jam stayed steady and within one direction, but kept the intensity rolling through the crowd. Since it has come out in the repertoire it has been a rocker and a jam vehicle. This showed both sides of the coin.  Roses are Free continued the jamathon, with the song getting pushed over 10 minutes. It was only the third time it had been jammed out and this one went type 2. It reminded me that Ween had just broken up, and I considered it a homage to the band who spent much of their years playing clubs in the mid ‘90s.  Dubbed the Worcester Jam, this went off the charts with exploration. Getting this type of jamming in the first set has been a bit of a forgotten art that Phish has clearly gone back to. Not only is this the jam of the set, but it could be the jam of the night. It stays patient and in the type 1 region for the first minute or so of the jam, but then it gets taken to outer space in the midst of a steady groove being laid down by Fishman and Page. Trey’s laid back jamming fits perfectly in the space and fuels this banger to hit next level territory as it blends into Theme from the Bottom.  Theme was masterfully played and this first set was turning into something special. It was blissful and will give you goosebumps upon listening. Phish was showing a feeling of tightness through practice and a sense of confidence in exploration.

Phish played Axilla for the first time since the flubbery of 12/30/2011, and they nailed it… Trey especially. Trey ripped through the recently flubbed section with precision, receiving a possible mock cheer from many of the fans. Energy remained sky high with a memorable Julius.  There are very few times that I would consider Julius a show highlight due to its 7-8 minute rocker status. This time around, it nearly hit 11 minutes and there were several areas where tempos were tinkered with. At one point it felt like we were in a jazz club with the everything just cooled out. This type of jamming led into the peak of the jam and eventually dropped into Bouncing Around the Room.  The thunderous Maze>Bathtub rounded off a ridiculous first set. Maze was absolute fire with each member flying off and making it count. While there is rarely a jam in Maze, this one seemed to have a lot of Oomph to it that made it unique to many other Mazes I have witnessed. The Bathtub to follow it up was just masterful. Once again, the band messed with the tempo in the jam a bit. Everything just seemed so buttery and relaxed, all the while just climbing and climbing to a fantastic peak that ended the set.

Set two. Oh my. Down with Disease>Sand>Nellie Kane. Something about that combo just seems strange, but it was pulled off to perfection. An incredibly exploratory Down with Disease started off the set. Like so many DWDs throughout Phish’s history, this one went out there. I still think it is Phish’s most consistent jam vehicle, and even when it is just an 8 minute rocker it is enjoyable. Right from the start, this one had a special feeling. Maybe it was because they spent all of 2011 ripping apart DWD jams, or maybe it was just that familiar bass to start.  Right around the 10 minute mark Phish laid into a groove led by Trey with a droning of keyboard in the back. Trey took this jam to the limit and I was thoroughly impressed by how they were all responding with each other’s musical directions. At 11 minutes the band and the crowd were so locked in with each other it was like musical telepathy. Everything we wanted was pouring out. This continued for the next our minutes until the jam slowly turns into Sand.  While this isn't the longest Sand, clocking in at just over 8 minutes, it had the crowd going and they were definitely feeling it. It has a nice plinko jam at about 5 minutes that sends the crowd into a frenzy. This was some serious funky Phish and I felt as if they were actually jamming 2001 at just about 6 minutes. The transition to Nellie Kane was unexpected and well done. I’m kind of amazed they even pulled off going from straight funk to bluegrass so quickly.  Mikes>Makisupa>Weekapaug came next. Extended Mike’s Song jams may be a thing of the past, but Phish still manages to create some good licks out of this. I would have loved to have seen them push this one but they went unexpectedly into Makisupa Policeman. Apparently Trey thought he had the measles and his cure is Sour Diesel… I dig it Trey. I dig.  Weekapaug was the usual dance party and was exciting, but nothing out of the ordinary. Phish needed to slow down and catch a breath, and they chose Wading in the Velvet Sea. This is the time to play Wading. And sandwiched between Weekapaug and 2001 was a nice break before the explosion of energy.  2001 was full of funky energy and nearly hit the 10 minute mark. Upon further listen, it is one of my recent favorites along with Camden’s Michael Jackson night and last year’s Darien rendition. This version also included a Mikes Song jam towards the end which was exceptionally pleasing to any phan.  Character Zero finished out the set and they did it with gusto. Much like Julius, they nailed this rocker hard and just seemed to have a little extra on it.  The night finished with Oh Kee Pah>Suzy Greenberg. It was the first time Phish had encored with Oh Kee Pah since 3/30/1992 in St. Louis so it was a huge treat. The duo of songs rounded out an excellent run and another great start to the summer.
See everyone in AC!

Words: Bobby Martin
Phish Examiner and Grateful Music Contributor

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