, attached to 2011-06-04

Review by douvy

douvy After taking a few days to digest the show and observe some other commentary, I feel confident in remarking that Blossom was the best front-to-back show in 2011 and certainly one of the highlights of 3.0. Here's why:

Kill Devil Falls doesn't have the immediate impact as an opener that something like Llama or Chalkdust would. However, it warmed up the crowd still reeling from the previous night. Guyute had a pretty abysmal first 4 minutes, but ended with good energy. It was nice placement and, as one of their most intelligently composed pieces, contrasted well against the rest of the show.

Fuck Your Face introduced the dirty mood that dominated the rest of the show. It wasn't particularly well performed, but it remains a rare morsel that will always go over successfully. After an underwhelming Foam (mostly because of poor vocals), Ocelot happened. Though it never quite reached Type II status, it stands as the most impressive Ocelot yet and I'm surprised there hasn't been more dialogue about it. It's in the same key and has the same progression as 46 Days, but doesn't harbor the same inherent funkiness, allowing them to take it in some more fluid directions. There, Trey demonstrated his signature pacing and technique. The blast into Little Feat was fresh and extraordinarily tight with Page owning the vocals. At this point in the show, there had been vocals featuring 3 band members, which is subtly refreshing. A solid BOTT prefaced a truly well-made Guelah. The gap before "So maybe I could be a fly" featured a great glowstick war and Trey catching one for himself. The crowd was clearly working with the band. Next came a Tube clocking in under 5 minutes, but featuring a Page solo that is among the most nasty and carefree in recent memory. Antelope came as a slight surprise, but introduced the exploration of the second set. Trey improvises some beautiful melodies near the 6:00 mark before shredding into an impressive climax. The ending section was wonderfully unique, if a bit flubbed, and the closing that sometimes comes off weak was packed with energy and foreshadowing, as a good Antelope should.

If the anticipation was high before the show, it was even higher for the second set. Birds of a Feather was a rare treat, but went nowhere special. As the band rolled into Possum, I looked at my friend and sort of rolled my eyes. "Again?" Was this set going down hill? They proved me wrong. This Possum is the most bizarre version you will encounter. From the beginning, Mike intones his voice with a different style than usual and once the jam opens up, all hell breaks loose. After discovering a nugget of bending chromatics, Trey led the band into a sequence of spinning non-tonal segments, often faking reentry to the song, but pulling out. Mike brightly carries the instrumental experimentation to the final vocal section, lending it fresh excitement. I agree with much of the discussion noting that Steam is the most promising new jam vehicle since Light. Hopefully it will be given good play by the guys. Here, it led into a short-lived, but necessary Piper. I was hoping for an epic quality of the June '04 SPAC Piper, but it instead served as a supercharged bridge into the second half of the set and some of the best Phish 3.0.

The segue into Lizards was paced well and showed great care. The audience went bananas and encouraged Phish to play an outstanding version. Like Guelah from earlier, it demonstrated how tight the band is playing right now. Perfect placement coupled with good delivery made it an excellent companion to Sally. And what a Sally it was. Sweating funk, it featured a blissful vocal jam and some true group improvisation. Trey hovered behind the spotlight and Page led the way to a staccato section which then grew into a heavy, bold time change. Also overplayed and repeated at the same venue from '10, Hood subverted itself in the same way that Possum did. It had elements of playfulness, adventure, and, of course, the epic quality that you hope for in a good Hood. Positive that the set had ended, Phish busted out into a Character Zero that might as well have been titled "Trey Plays Crazy Shit And Doesn't Stop". It was 10 minutes of blistering aural pleasure. You could tell that Trey was having as much fun as you were and it rubbed off. Of course, anyone would trade 10 minutes of Trey soloing for 5 minutes of good Ghost or whatever, but this Zero was fierce and fiery and I'm pretty sure that Trey played the highest natural note ever played in the history of man/guitar.

In the end, the fact that the Slave encore is an afterthought inducts this show into a select group of recent shows. It took some of the adventure from Utica and blended it with a bit of the fearlessness of Albany. But the performance doesn't exist in a vacuum and ultimately shows us fans that the band can play well in any decade, year, or venue.


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