This is my 79th review for this project, but the first review for a show at a venue I have personally seen Phish perform at. I saw Phish perform at the Jones Beach Amphitheater on 8/17/10, the only show I have seen them play at this venue. My memory of Jones Beach Amphitheater is that while the facilities of the venue were nothing remarkable, the stage itself was built on top of a body of water, which provided a cool environment for a show. Given the number of Phish performances at this venue, it seems the band agrees.
Tonight’s show opens with “Buried Alive,” and like other recent performances of this song, the band continues to experiment subtly with this tune. Trey holds a note for at least 20 seconds during this “Buried Alive” while adding some screams, while the rest of the band alters their playing as well to increase the excitement of the song. Altogether it makes for quite an intense “Buried Alive” and show-opener. The band slides right from “Buried Alive” into a near flawlessly-played “Rift,” before starting up the tour-debut of “Caravan.” This “Caravan” is a little shorter than the Winter/Spring performances but not lesser for it; Page’s solo in this song is simply blistering. “Maze” is next and the longest song of the set. Page’s solo is energetic but typical of the song, and Trey’s solo can be similarly described. This is a good “Maze” that provides an exciting anchor for the set, but it’s nothing too out of the ordinary for the song.
Trey picks up his acoustic for “The Horse,” which together with “Silent in the Morning” serves as a pleasant mid-set breather. Another tour-debut, “Punch You in the Eye,” kicks off the back-half of the set. Despite not being performed in over a dozen shows, this “PYITE” is very tight and snappy and even features some added staccato funkiness at 4:20. “Runaway Jim” follows “PYITE.” This “Jim” follows a standard progression and didn’t stand out to me as much as the performance a couple nights ago on 7/21 (one of the few bright spots of that show), but it nevertheless features the strongest Trey solo of the night so far.
“It’s Ice” sounds good tonight. While the underwater segment is not longer than in a typical “Ice,” Page does add some unusually harsh and eerie melodies to accentuate the dark mood of that passage. “Lawn Boy” provides a nice reprieve from the darkness of “It’s Ice,” and feels a little hammier tonight than normal. A quick and tight “Cavern” closes out the set. Like last night’s first set, the compositions in this set are all performed immaculately. On top of that, there’s a lot of a little touches throughout the set (i.e. the held note in “Buried Alive,” the added funkiness in “Punch,” the good peak in “Jim”) that make the set an overall very entertaining listen. It lacks a real stand-out moment of improvisation, or even much improvisation at all outside of “Maze,” so it’s hard to say it’s a truly great or memorable set. That said, it’s a fun listen and an energetic first half that the band will hopefully build on in the second set.
Tonight’s second set opens with the same trio of songs that opened the second set on the 18th: “2001 > Poor Heart > Run Like an Antelope.” The performances of “2001” and “Poor Heart” are standard but both songs sound great. The “Antelope” jam begins at 2:45 and wastes no time in building excitement, as Trey immediately slides into intense and dissonant riffing. This quickly builds in energy before the band settles into a tense groove at 4:00. Another build centered around a repeating two-note riff from Trey leads to an early peak at 5:20, to the crowd’s delight. The band continues the tension/release cycle by settling into another tense groove. Absolutely ferocious shredding from Trey at 6:40 sounds like it’s leading to the jam-ending peak, but the band does a fake-out and instead the jam starts to break down slightly at 7:20 as Trey hammers on a dissonant chord. A final, exciting peak finally leads into the song’s reggae breakdown at 8:50. This is another ridiculous “Antelope” that is easily the highlight of the show so far. This song often felt like a standard set-closer to me during the Winter/Spring tour, but it has quickly become the most exciting song to hear during the summer tour so far.
“Faht” provides an ambient interlude of sorts following the explosion of energy that is “Antelope,” and segues smoothly into the acoustic intro of “My Friend, My Friend.” “My Friend, My Friend” is well-placed here, as the darkness of the song brings the energy level of the set back up to the high of the beginning of the set. “Uncle Pen” and “Big Ball Jam” carry the set’s momentum before “You Enjoy Myself” begins the back-half of another relatively brief second set.
Page’s “YEM” solo begins at about 9:15 with some nice, funky playing. This steadily builds into a good peak before Trey takes over at 11:30 with clean, jazzy soloing. This changes up at 12:20 as Trey starts repeating a single chord. The rest of the band joins Trey with steady, staccato playing. Mike establishes a new groove by breaking from this staccato playing and starting to play on the off-beats. Trey starts to solo over this new groove, and the mood of the song starts to get steadily darker and edgier. This dark mood leads into a smooth segue right into “Big Black Furry Creature from Mars” at 14:45 of “YEM” (!!?!). “BBFCFM” is played in a very uptempo fashion, as the band blazes through the song in lieu of the traditional “YEM” vocal jam. By itself this “YEM” is fun but nothing too special, but the tight segue into “BBFCFM” works well and makes for a very memorable sequence overall.
“Chalk Dust Torture” keeps this high-energy set rolling on, and contains a brief “Crimes of the Mind” jam at 3:40 during Trey’s solo. “Highway to Hell” makes its tour-debut to close the set, and is a fitting end to a fun and intense set. A duo of encore-staples (“Amazing Grace,” “Daniel Saw the Stone”) send the crowd home.
Another excellent and intense “Run Like an Antelope” is the only big, take-away improvisational moment of the evening. Nevertheless, lots of little touches throughout the night, such as tight playing, a high-energy, flowing setlist in both sets, tour-debuts that keep the setlist feeling fresh, and a couple of inspired segues (“Faht -> MF,MF, YEM -> BBFCM”) make for a show that is greater than the sum of the parts. This show is simply a joy to listen to from top-to-bottom, and is a great slice of summer Phish fun.
- Show rating: 4/5
- Highlights: “Run Like an Antelope,” “You Enjoy Myself -> Big Black Furry Creature from Mars”
- Phish.net setlist
- First set length: 63 mins.
- Second set length: 71 mins.
- This is the third time Phish performed at the Jones Beach Amphitheater. They will return on 7/15/94.
- The longest gap in this night’s setlist is “Punch You in the Eye” and “Big Black Furry Creature from Mars,” both returning after a fourteen show absence (5/2/93).
- The best represented studio album is Rift (6 songs).