Phish @ SPAC Night Two: Don’t Believe the Hype

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Photo by @CoventryMusic

Standard Fare [Phish Thoughts]

After setting the table for a huge Sunday night closer at SPAC, Phish went the other way, playing a song-based show that contained barely any creativity. After an exciting opening frame with several summer bust-outs, one wasn’t wrong to think the band might come back with one of their most engaging frames of tour. But Phish pulled out of upstate New York after a choppy second set that contained their least engaging playing of tour. While maintaining their energy and tightness, Phish took no risks in a energetic show that was heavy on the setlist, but, at times in the second set, straight up boring.

While I wasn’t there and everyone’s definitely entitled to their own opinion, this particular review was worth calling out for me. At a show that had many saying “this was the best we’ve seen of the band in 2010,” the most popular Phish blogger on the planet decides to completely lambast the show as uncreative and boring. Listen for yourself and decide on your own context, because reading reviews like this have nothing close to a connection to what actually happened on tape. Stop reading these reviews anyway. Get the shows and re-discover that joy and excitement of not always knowing where they’re supposed to go next based on what the prior night’s setlist was.

From my end watching the stream and listening at home, I’m loving every part of this show and the return of songs I’ve always enjoyed like “Roggae” and “Swept Away.” And come on, strong playing or not, the band would have to fart their way through “Makisupa Policeman > Piper > 2001 > YEM” for that to sound shitty.

  • zappafrank

    Awesome man. I completely agree with you. This phishthoughts guy is crazy.

  • zappafrank

    Awesome man. I completely agree with you. This phishthoughts guy is crazy.

  • Guyute

    I was there. It was awesome! Its so great to see the boys back at it and happy!

  • Guyute

    I was there. It was awesome! Its so great to see the boys back at it and happy!

  • tmwsiy71

    I never pay attention to other peoples’ reviews. Each person’s individual experience is so subjective.
    Hell, i’ve gone back and listened to some of my favorite shows (in terms of attending) only to find that
    they didn’t play all that great. So…to each his/her own.

  • tmwsiy71

    I never pay attention to other peoples’ reviews. Each person’s individual experience is so subjective.
    Hell, i’ve gone back and listened to some of my favorite shows (in terms of attending) only to find that
    they didn’t play all that great. So…to each his/her own.

  • Zuitzuit

    Agree with Mr. Minor – set 2 was somewhat boring. Makisupa was interesting / funny, but not stellar. There were even a few moments where Trey was hurting my ears….I’m thinking during Cities, but I haven’t given it a second listen and can’t be sure. That said, I had fun and am glad they’re playing. I’m looking forward to them getting better and more adventurous as the tour progresses…

  • Zuitzuit

    Agree with Mr. Minor – set 2 was somewhat boring. Makisupa was interesting / funny, but not stellar. There were even a few moments where Trey was hurting my ears….I’m thinking during Cities, but I haven’t given it a second listen and can’t be sure. That said, I had fun and am glad they’re playing. I’m looking forward to them getting better and more adventurous as the tour progresses…

  • mikey

    I made the mistake of reading that review before i even listened to the show, and let me say that reviews like that do indeed sour one’s perspectives. After listening to the show i cannot remotely see where he was coming from. Was he having a bad trip? Because that is my dream setlist. It seems to me like the people who go to every show have the hardest time appreciating phish for what it really is: A good time and an escape from reality. I, like most normal people, are only fortunate enough to catch maybe 4 shows in a row this summer. If i went into that with expectations as lofty as the expert jaded reviewer, then why bother going at all. It totally misses the point of why we go see phish. It’s not a competition between shows. Maybe some people need to step back and re-assess what they are in it for.

  • mikey

    I made the mistake of reading that review before i even listened to the show, and let me say that reviews like that do indeed sour one’s perspectives. After listening to the show i cannot remotely see where he was coming from. Was he having a bad trip? Because that is my dream setlist. It seems to me like the people who go to every show have the hardest time appreciating phish for what it really is: A good time and an escape from reality. I, like most normal people, are only fortunate enough to catch maybe 4 shows in a row this summer. If i went into that with expectations as lofty as the expert jaded reviewer, then why bother going at all. It totally misses the point of why we go see phish. It’s not a competition between shows. Maybe some people need to step back and re-assess what they are in it for.

  • Luke

    I was there and agree with the negative review. I’ve seen about sixty shows since ninety five and this was one of the few where I was just plain bored at the end. Drowned is beyond played out. Why do we need to sit through a wankerific seven minute jam before getting to a creative place? And piper was just like drowned- same vibe same jam.

    Of course they killed every song – that’s why people are saying they are back. They got thier chops back and the intensity isall there. But there is virtually no exploration anymore. And I feel like drowned and rock and roll (the ugly step sisters of down with disease to begin with) need to be tabled until they figure out another way to get the jams to level two territory.

    • Rogers

      Don’t know if you’ll ever see this Luke, but don’t hate on Drowned. They do not play it as much as Rock N Roll and it’s the better song anyhow. Also not sure how they’re the ugly step-sisters of Disease either. Disease is a far more dynamic song and they play it as so.

      It is ironic we are disagreeing because our histories are eerily similar, this last show was my 64th (tonight 65th) with the first being Clifford Ball. Personally, I loved the Drowned only because I hadn’t seen a solid version since before hiatus. Vegas ’04 and Coventry being the not so great displays since. It was rockin, got the crowd going, and did have a good whaling before heading into some unchartered waters. Just don’t get the contention with it. As I responded in my first post to the whole column, this same thing happened last year. Exploration did not get into high gear until the latter parts of the summer and of course fall/winter. Just give it a little time.

  • Luke

    I was there and agree with the negative review. I’ve seen about sixty shows since ninety five and this was one of the few where I was just plain bored at the end. Drowned is beyond played out. Why do we need to sit through a wankerific seven minute jam before getting to a creative place? And piper was just like drowned- same vibe same jam.

    Of course they killed every song – that’s why people are saying they are back. They got thier chops back and the intensity isall there. But there is virtually no exploration anymore. And I feel like drowned and rock and roll (the ugly step sisters of down with disease to begin with) need to be tabled until they figure out another way to get the jams to level two territory.

    • Rogers

      Don’t know if you’ll ever see this Luke, but don’t hate on Drowned. They do not play it as much as Rock N Roll and it’s the better song anyhow. Also not sure how they’re the ugly step-sisters of Disease either. Disease is a far more dynamic song and they play it as so.

      It is ironic we are disagreeing because our histories are eerily similar, this last show was my 64th (tonight 65th) with the first being Clifford Ball. Personally, I loved the Drowned only because I hadn’t seen a solid version since before hiatus. Vegas ’04 and Coventry being the not so great displays since. It was rockin, got the crowd going, and did have a good whaling before heading into some unchartered waters. Just don’t get the contention with it. As I responded in my first post to the whole column, this same thing happened last year. Exploration did not get into high gear until the latter parts of the summer and of course fall/winter. Just give it a little time.

  • Rogers

    Thank you!!! I’ve been waiting to see if someone actually did speak out on this. You said it best, “everyone is entitled to their opinion”, but it is utterly mind-boggling to me that someone who has seen and listened to so much Phish can truly believe that 2nd set was, “at times straight up boring”. Even if these are “greatest hits” which can certainly be argued, is that somehow a bad thing?? And anyone who was not entertained by the Makisupa just straight up doesn’t like reggae or this band. Not to mention, a really unique Carini > Mango opener (a little awkward segue, but that’s fun, at least to me). What’s worse, he tries to call the previous night’s 2nd set, by far the closest thing to a “boring” set they played in the 4 night run, the best set of the run??????? Is he kidding?? I was at all four. He is right, there has not been that exploration just yet. But just like we saw in ’09 when Type II really didn’t wake up until late summer and fall/winter, it takes time for them to get the feel of songs and more importantly each other. Come on Mr. Miner, you’re better than this.

  • Rogers

    Thank you!!! I’ve been waiting to see if someone actually did speak out on this. You said it best, “everyone is entitled to their opinion”, but it is utterly mind-boggling to me that someone who has seen and listened to so much Phish can truly believe that 2nd set was, “at times straight up boring”. Even if these are “greatest hits” which can certainly be argued, is that somehow a bad thing?? And anyone who was not entertained by the Makisupa just straight up doesn’t like reggae or this band. Not to mention, a really unique Carini > Mango opener (a little awkward segue, but that’s fun, at least to me). What’s worse, he tries to call the previous night’s 2nd set, by far the closest thing to a “boring” set they played in the 4 night run, the best set of the run??????? Is he kidding?? I was at all four. He is right, there has not been that exploration just yet. But just like we saw in ’09 when Type II really didn’t wake up until late summer and fall/winter, it takes time for them to get the feel of songs and more importantly each other. Come on Mr. Miner, you’re better than this.

  • Chris B

    I love Mr. Miner. Great site, with some really great terms for explaining soundscapes. I loved his Minerese pieces a few weeks back. Generally his reviews are always GLOWING and it seems to me that whenever someone on PT starts a “delusional fluffing” thread about him, the next show always gets cut to pieces so as to say, “See! I can dislike a show!”. It could just be coincidence but I don’t think so. More importantly, what exactly does Miner do for a living!?!!??!?!

  • Chris B

    I love Mr. Miner. Great site, with some really great terms for explaining soundscapes. I loved his Minerese pieces a few weeks back. Generally his reviews are always GLOWING and it seems to me that whenever someone on PT starts a “delusional fluffing” thread about him, the next show always gets cut to pieces so as to say, “See! I can dislike a show!”. It could just be coincidence but I don’t think so. More importantly, what exactly does Miner do for a living!?!!??!?!

  • Nadine

    I must admit, that I was NOT a fan of Phish, before I attended Sun. nights show… I have been to many Festivals, and have seen hundreds of shows. but this was my first Phish show, and I have to say, it will def. NOT be my last!! it was Bar-none THE BEST SHOW I have EVER seen!!!

    • http://www.livemusicblog.com Justin

      I definitely think that most people arriving at a Phish show for the first time have to believe that as well, that is, if they can get over the crowd and really try to tune into the band. Glad to hear you got a good first one! ;)

  • Nadine

    I must admit, that I was NOT a fan of Phish, before I attended Sun. nights show… I have been to many Festivals, and have seen hundreds of shows. but this was my first Phish show, and I have to say, it will def. NOT be my last!! it was Bar-none THE BEST SHOW I have EVER seen!!!

    • http://www.livemusicblog.com Justin

      I definitely think that most people arriving at a Phish show for the first time have to believe that as well, that is, if they can get over the crowd and really try to tune into the band. Glad to hear you got a good first one! ;)