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November 15, 2011

Cactus: Review – Mike Gordon Band @ Portsmouth Music Hall [Hidden Track]

After an initial run through the song, the improv that developed quickened with a pace and fury that left my jaw on the floor. While I shudder to think that I can’t make it out of my first comments without making a comparison to Phish, this jam found a space that harkens back to truly great You Enjoy Myself jams. At one point Mike even settled into a groove that some might argue was a direct nod to Phish classic. Sonic vibrations blasting the bodies in the front rows, it was hard to NOT be blown away.

November 3, 2011

Reviews: West Coast Redemption Part Two – Tahoe [Icculus4u]

October 14, 2011

Reviews: Trey Anastasio Still Wants More [The House List]

October 3, 2011

Burlington: Trey Anastasio – After The Flood [Burlington Free Press]

Trey, normally a loquacious fellow, didn’t speak a whole lot during the show, but did note that he, Markellis and drummer Russ Lawton played the second-ever show at Higher Ground, in the old Winooski location 13 years ago. ”Our next song will be a 13-year-long jam,” Trey said, and the crowd cheered. Instead, he and the band launched into what he called a “world premiere,” a tune called “Snake Head Thumb,” which began with a bluesy guitar intro befitting a song with a name like that and the esoteric lyric “There’s a man I know with a snake head thumb/Just walk by and your body goes numb.”

September 29, 2011

Reviews: Phish @ Champlain Valley Expo – 09/14/11 [Glide Magazine]

September 19, 2011

Essex: Reflections on Phish – “I Forgot For a While I Was On Assignment” [Burlington Free-Press]

A few songs into the first set, a funny thing happened: My pad stayed in my pocket for longer stretches. I put my phone away and stopped sending messages to the newsroom. Deadlines and leads slipped from my mind. I forgot, for a time, I was on assignment. That’s a very unusual thing and a better way to listen to music — and there was some good stuff to hear Wednesday night at the fairgrounds.

Essex: Review – Bonus Phish [Phish Thoughts]

Essex: Oh, What a Beautiful Buzz – Phish Returns To VT [Rutland Herald]

September 15, 2011

Essex: Phish Returns to Green Mountain State [Hidden Track]

[Photo by Parker Harrington]

In an extraordinarily low-key pre-show parking lot scene that was more akin to a family picnic than a rock show or typical Phish event, warm embraces and friendly conversation prevailed. Seemingly, most of the 8,000 tickets sold in Vermont stayed with Green Mountain Staters. The fairgrounds certainly felt like the local hometown show that it was. At the sole entrance to the venue, security and ticket takers greeted many of the incoming attendees by name. Regardless if they knew you or not, they were certainly more intent on welcoming you, smiling at you, and treating you to true Yankee hospitality than they were to bother with checking anything other than your ticket.

Essex: Tales From A Reluctant Phishhead [Seven Days]

Well, guess what? It was a lot of fun.

(Before we move on, if I could chat privately with the hardcore Fi-hadist nitwits for a second. Dudes, what follows will be a mostly positive review of my experience at the show last night. However, I’m a music critic. I don’t believe anyone, even a sacred sea cow, is above criticism. I’m gonna write a few things you probably won’t agree with or like. So let me save you some time and trouble:

- Yes, this is the worst piece of journalism in history. And I am the worst journalist ever.

- You’re right, I probably should be/will be/have been fired for this.

- It’s true. I am so jealous that your band is bigger than my li’l hipster indie bands. By the way, have you heard the new Vampire Grizzly Beach album? Really skinnies up my jeans.)

Essex: Wake of the Flood Returns to Vermont [Coventry]

Phish is a tremendous source of inspiration. The friends that I met through the band give me hope for humanity. Trey is a personal hero because I also struggle with some of the same (pharmaceutical) demons that he dealt with over the last decade or so. It’s not easy being Trey, and it’s even a thousand times tougher to walk the line of sobriety while feeding the creative beast within you and trying to entertain and show everyone a good time without being redundant. Despite the deviant obstacles, Trey and the rest of the band continue to share their collaborative musical talents with whomever is bold and crazy enough to follow them along for the ride. Phish was born in Vermont in the mid-80s when a bunch of geeky college students decided to form a band. It took 240 attempts, but I’m fortunate that I got to finally see a good show near their birthplace.

Coventry’s demons have finally been exorcised.

Essex: Essexy Evening at Home w/ Phish [Online Phish Tour]

Essex: Review – Back In The Zone w/ Phish [VTDigger]

Essex: Phish Jams For Flood Relief in Vermont [Burlington Free Press]

Mike Gordon, the bassist, took the stage to great cheers at about 7:15. With few words, he acknowledged the magnitude of the moment — Phish, which formed in this state in 1983, home for a concert to help a state and people in need.

September 10, 2011

Denver: A Bucket Full of Thoughts – Phish @ Dick’s [Live Music Blog]

September 9, 2011

Denver: On Cloud 9 in Colorado [Phish Thoughts]

September 7, 2011

Denver: Night Three – The Ghost is Guy Forget [Online Phish Tour]

Denver: Night One Review and Photos [JamBase]

September 6, 2011

Denver: Review – Phish Smokes Dick’s in Denver [Hidden Track]

Ghost was far and away the most energetic, well executed, and exciting tune of the weekend. Though it was fairly short, the build-up was purely organic. A quick tease of Oye Como Va paid tribute to Carlos Santana’s performance a few miles away at the Red Rocks Amphitheatre, and led perfectly into Guy Forget, during which Gordon and Anastasio exchanged numerous smiles and laughter on stage. Even though it seemed like most people didn’t know the song being played, the excitement was palpable as they dropped back into Ghost to close out the tune. Walls of the Cave was an interesting choice to end the set, but it proved to be worthy of the spot as Anastasio again took the reigns and rode right to the top.

Denver: Night Three Recap – Ghost/Forget [Coventry]

Denver: Night Three – Segueing Out of Summer [Phish Thoughts]

Phish slammed the door on their greatest three-night stand of the year last night, again crushing two sets of highlight-ridden music for their Denver audience. In their tour finale, the band unveiled a spectacular final set littered with buttery segues, smoking improv, and the razor-sharp musical marksmanship displayed throughout three glorious nights in the Rocky Mountains.

Denver: Phish at Dick’s – Night Three Review [Westword]

September 4, 2011

Denver: Review – Dreaming In Denver [Phish Thoughts]

Denver: Photos and Review From Night Two [Reverb]

September 3, 2011

Denver: Phish Denver Dick’s Sporting Goods Park Night Two – Setlist, Recap and The Skinny [HT]

Denver: Phish Dick’s Review – Night One [Coventry]

“Wow, all S songs,” I said to the girl next to me. She was too spun to notice. At that point, we tried to figure out the second set. Would the S theme continue? Was it prelude for Santana, who was rumored to sit in with the boys because he was playing Red Rocks the next two nights. Many moons ago, Phish played the infamous M set packed with M songs. Maybe we were getting inside their deviant secret — they are S&M freaks?

Denver: Review – Something Special [Online Phish Tour]

Local Coverage: Photos and Review of Night One at Dick’s [Hey Reverb]

Denver: Review – SSSSSSSSSSSSSS [Phish Thoughts]

August 30, 2011

Rock and Roll -> Meatstick -> Boogie On: A Portal To Paradise [Phish Thoughts]

Everything over the past two-plus years had built up to this. All the stepping stones of ’09 and ’10—all the sublime highlights and borked jams, missed transitions and musical triumphs—had brought us here; to the Gorge on August 5th, a night when everything changed again. Phish hadn’t dropped something like this before. Not in this context. Not with this palate of sound. Not ever. Throw the era qualifications right into the Columbia River Gorge. And when Mike dropped that bass line deep into the night, bringing the beat back from the netherworld, the Earth shook with delight as skulls shattered across the hillside. IT was real. And IT was good.

In fact, IT was alright.

August 29, 2011

The Gorge: Awesome Without Exploration [Phish Thoughts]

Tour Recap: Review – Phish Summer Tour Leg Two Pt. 1, Pt. 2 and Pt. 3 [Live Music Blog]

August 24, 2011

UIC Recap: A Triumphant Trifecta [Phish Thoughts]

August 18, 2011

Chicago: TaoPauly’s UIC Recaps – Night One, Night Two, Night Three [Coventry]

Chicago: Phish Dominates Three Nights at UIC [SNS Post]

Chicago: Short on Improvisation, Long on Fun [OPT]

Chicago: UIC3 Review – A Sudden Shift To Songs [Phish Thoughts]

Following two shows that showcased jams of all shapes and sizes, Phish played an odd tour finale in which they rarely let an improvisational root take hold. Still crafting an engaging opening half of the second set the band carried legitimate momentum, albeit with short jam segments, as they segued smoothly from the show’s improvisational high point—“Piper”— into “Ghost.” But Trey decided to supplant any semblance of a “Ghost” jam with “Makisupa,” a move which wound up diffusing the entire set and sparking an innocuous run of made-far-radio Phish, leaving their leg two finale as the weakest of the Chicago’s three nights—by far.

August 17, 2011

Chicago: Review – Extra Mustard – UIC Night Two [Online Phish Tour]

Chicago: Review – Riding Out The Ripples [Phish Thoughts]

August 16, 2011

Chicago: Phish Blows Fire On The Windy City [Online Phish Tour]

Chicago: Review – The Elements of Phish [Phish Thoughts]

Starting with the sinister swank of “Sand” the band showcased their one-minded playing with a heroic dose of Phish groove. The band took the song far beyond rhythmic gymnastics however, as they moved right past the song’s conclusion into a hard-edged ambiance. Amidst this context Mike and Trey had an eerie, one-on-one conversation that gradually brought the band towards “Light.” And after a small time off from being the band’s central portal into the center of the cosmos, “Light’s” two versions of tour have been exactly that. Taking last night’s piece into the heart of modern Phish experimentation, Mike stood at the center of an intergalactic jam. As the band pushed eclectic and alien boundaries, the wide-open style of play that defined the jam would soon come to define the entire set.

Chicago: Review – Opening Night Done Right [Unplugged Musings]

August 15, 2011

Outside Lands: Review – Jukebox Heroes [Online Phish Tour]

Outside Lands: Review – Festival Phish [Phish Thoughts]

Outside Lands: Outside Lands Festival Proves Local Success [San Francisco Chronicle]

August 14, 2011

Outside Lands: Phish Ignites Golden Gate Park [SF Weekly]

Phish, on the other hand, manages to shred up a storm yet still remain as uniconic and unromantic as possible — Trey Anastasio (guitar, lead vocals), Mike Gordon (bass, vocals), Jon Fishman (drums), and Page McConnell (keyboards) look like, in another life, they would work at an accounting firm with your brother-in-law. There’s something comforting about knowing that the universe has bestowed its most impressive talents on guys who could easily be your neighbors, and would probably be much less cool than you if they weren’t jaw-droppingly good musicians.

August 12, 2011

Lake Tahoe: Phish Spotlight in Tahoe [Unplugged Musings]

August 11, 2011

Lake Tahoe: Review – Blue Ballin’ At The Lake [Online Phish Tour]

Lake TahoeReview – Patience Is A Virtue [Phish Thoughts]

August 10, 2011

Lake Tahoe: Lighting Up Lake Tahoe [Online Phish Tour]

Tahoe: Left In The Now, With A Wonderous Glow [Phish Thoughts]

Phish continued their romp through the Wild West last night in Lake Tahoe with another standout second set, a solid first, and another psychedelic monstrosity for the record books. Following their opening night “Rock and Roll”—a musical journey of instant legend—Phish dove head first into another alternate reality last night in the centerpiece of the show—“Light.” Driven by Mike’s mind-bending bass leads, the band trekked far off the grid in a completely groundbreaking, next-generation piece of Phish. With plenty of other standout music to support this excursion into the unknown, the first night of Tahoe showcased the band’s creative edge, while it making four straight bangers out West for the hottest band on the planet.

Hollywood Bowl: Phish Fans Have A Blast at The Bowl [OC Register]

Hollywood Bowl: Live Review – Phish at the Hollywood Bowl [LA Times]

Following a half-decade hiatus, a new generation has cropped up to bolster the stalwarts who have memories and mythologies attached to nearly ever number in the group’s estimable catalog. Consider them a funkier, funnier Pearl Jam, or maybe the J.R.R. Tolkien of jam.

Hollywood Bowl: Review – Phish 8/8/11 Hollywood Bowl [Concert Confessions]

August 9, 2011

Hollywood Bowl: Review – California Dreamin’ [Phish Thoughts]

August 8, 2011

The Gorge: Review and Photos – Phish Gorge [Hidden Track]

The Gorge: Recap – Gorge2 [Phish.net]

The Gorge: Phish Makes It Two Straight in Gorge Win [OPT]

August 7, 2011

The Gorge: Phish Gorge – Setlist, The Skinny and More – Night Two [Hidden Track]

The Gorge: Review – Dancing On The Alter [Phish Thoughts]