Superball IX In Review: Day 3

Posted: July 9, 2011 by Chad in General Music

Photo by Dave Vann

Days 1 and 2 were in the books. Sunday, the last day of the festival was destined to be the greatest day so far. We’d all waited until 7:00 pm around the festival grounds, competing in Wiffle Ball tournaments, recharging our phones, and ready to take part in a musical experience that many of us will remember forever. Day 3, the celebration day. It’s the day that we all joyfully remember the fun we’ve had over the course of the past 3 days and we celebrate with the best music available. Phish understood the magnitude of Day 3 and delivered what some are calling the best performance of 3.0 thus far (72 hour rule firmly in place of course).

Sunday 07/03/11

Set 1: Soul Shakedown Party>AC/DC Bag>The Curtain>Colonel Forbin’s Ascent>Fly Famous Mockingbird>Destiny Unbound>Big Black Furry Creatures From Mars, Wilson>Mound, A Song I Heard the Ocean Sing, Time Loves a Hero, Reba->David Bowie

Set 2: Big Balls>Down With Disease->No Quarter>Party Time, Ghost>Gotta Jibboo>Light, Waves>What’s the Use?>Meatstick>Stealing Time From the Faulty Plan, The Star Spangled Banner

Encore: First Tube

Photo by Andy Hill

The first set started with a great rendition of Bob Marley’s Soul Shakedown Party. Great tune this one is and it was the perfect party song to start off a long night of music. AC/DC Bag wasn’t all that impressive as there were some major flubs in there but for the most part, it was okay, and what followed was one of the first odd things that would define this show. The Curtain was played without for the first time in the history of 3.0. As a matter of fact, it wasn’t even played in 2.0. You’d have to go all the way back to 2000 to find the last time that the With section hasn’t been added to this seminal Phish song. Perhaps this is Phish’s way of saying that they’ll be shelving the With for another long while or maybe they just weren’t feeling it. Who knows? Either way The Curtain is an amazing song and occupying the time slot with what would have been With was an amazing rare treat in Col. Forbin’s Ascent. Always a favorite of those dying to hear Gamehendge tinged Phish, this one didn’t disappoint. After a decent performance of the song, Trey began to explain how it was neat that they were playing at Watkins Glen. As soon as he started talking, many in the crowd erupted, knowing that narration was coming. Trey went on to call out Page as being the best driver, Fish as being the best long distance driver and Mike as being the worst driver (evidently writing in his journal constantly). As the story progresses Trey begins to assure the crowd that everything he’s about to say is 100% true and he begins a tale that begins with all the boys traveling in a van across the country and trying to make it to Colorado in 1988. The car ended up breaking down and they had to stay in a storage unit for the night. After they put all their things in there, the door shut behind them and they were trapped in the storage unit. Finally they found out that they could control reality through music and could free themselves from the storage unit through music. This of course means that everyone in the crowd at Watkins Glen was a mental projection through music that started in a storage unit in 1988. Trey then goes on a George Carlin-esque “place for your stuff” rant and says that the rate of product creation will surpass the amount of storage spaces available within the United States on that day, in which case their storage space will be opened due to lack of storage available. Of course the Famous Mockingbird, who’s got a new job as a mail carrier, is to the rescue with the keys out of the storage area. Cheers can be heard everywhere as Trey points to the sky indicating the Mockingbird’s descent to the stage and they play a great, though sometimes sloppy, version of this classic song. Destiny Unbound quickly began after Mockingbird and I have to say that out of the three versions of this song that I’ve seen live, this is by far the best one. During the funky midsection of this song, the entire band becomes fixated on a giant, white, balloon fish that is making its way across the crowd and toward the stage. Their gazes stay fixed on it as the funk gets deeper and deeper until eventually the fish is torn apart by the crowd to reveal plenty of fun balls inside of it to bounce around. Directly after the end of Destiny the chaotic opening chords of the punk rock crowd favorite Big Black Furry Creature From Mars began. Mike’s screams permeated the entire crowd and had everyone screaming along with him until the end. Phish, after this song, began what many consider the best two song combo of the entire weekend. Wilson began like many others before it but this version was not your typical version. It contained some Mind Left Body teases in it and took an amazing left turn right before the beginning of the third verse. You just need to listen to it to fully appreciate where this Wilson goes. After an atypcial ending to it, it was time, time, time for Mound, a song that is always fun. After the normally heavy blues riff at the beginning and the fun harmonizing the band does before it’s time for the last rewind, there is some amazing piano work by Page. Trey however takes hold of this Mound more than anyone and delivers what may be the best guitar work at the end of the song that I’ve ever heard played at the end of Mound. After the amazing ending began A Song I Heard the Ocean Sing for only the 7th time all time. The vocals on this one aren’t the greatest but the music is outstanding the whole way through, leading us from a great rocker to an almost underwatery exploration that would be revisited later in the show. After they finish the song, the Little Feat cover Time Loves a Hero made it’s first appearance since the Halloween. This fun one got everyone moving and spread nothing but good vibes around the entire crowd. Finally Reba reared her lovely head near the end of this set. The composed parts of Reba are nailed completely and the jam segment has one of the most unique feels of any Reba for a while. The other thing that makes this Reba memorable is the fact that it contained the whistling ending in it, even if that whistling ending was botched terribly by the guys. Then after the whistling botch, they played off that weakness and created a jam that flowed seemlessly into a wonderful Bowie  that is also outside the box. Not much more can be said about this first set that hasn’t already been said. Go listen to it now as I’m on the bandwagon of many fans that are saying this is one of the best Phish sets of all time.

Photo by Dave Vann

Have I completely fluffed up this last show enough for you? If so then probably stop reading now because the good times keep on rolling with this show throughout the 2nd set as Phish opened up the last set of the last night of the show with AC/DC’s Big Balls, a song that couldn’t be better suited for the occasion. Many, many gigantic balls came floating into the crowd from the side and the song seemed to be one huge tease of a Big Ball Jam that everyone was waiting for. Instead of the jam, the band flowed right into a killer Down With Disease. I will never get tired of hearing this song but this one was left unfinished, leaving no one but Page behind to dance his fingers up and down his keyboard until finally resting on the opening, wonderful notes of No Quarter. This version of the psychedelic Zeppelin song is every bit as good as the one that debuted earlier this summer and it was a high point for many people in the 2nd set. After No Quarter had ended, Party Time began. This is a great new song that gets almost everyone moving but I must say that I didn’t think it fit well in this spot of the show. It seemed to go against the flow of the show and I think it works better as an opener of either set better than a midset type of thing. Either way, this version is awesome and when it was over the anticipation began to overtake the crowd as the opening notes of Ghost enveloped everyone in a gigantic bubble of liquid funk. Ghost stays mostly in the box however and goes into a rather tame version of another favorite in Gotta Jibboo. Here’s where the jamming highlight of the 2nd set happens. Light in this show was absolutely amazing. A lot of fans will never give any love to any song off of Joy but this one really does a great job of breaking the original parameters of the song and exploring a wondrous Type II style of jamming that ended very naturally. Waves  started up shortly thereafter and it was a welcome return to the stage after the amazing Bethel version we’d heard earlier that year. As the song slowly slipped into darker and darker ambiance it finally broke way, after a countdown by Trey, into What’s the Use?. As this song is controlled ambiance of sorts it fit perfectly well at the end of Waves and had everyone in the crowd staring at the stage in awe as Phish weaved their way in and out of melodies in a full band effort that we’d all be waiting to see. Meatstick followed this song and once again I think this is a fun song that just got caught up in the wrong setlist slot. It’s fun as hell to dance to but it should never have been at this point in the show. All night people had been expecting YEM to close out the show but instead Phish went a different direction. Instead of relying on old faithful to close out the show, they showed faith in their newer rocker Stealing Time From the Faulty Plan to hold the slot as the last real Phish song to be played in the 2nd set. I like the faith they put into the song and this high energy version came through for an amazing time. The Star Spangled Banner closed the show and we all eagerly awaited the encore. First Tube was the encore, a choice that I didn’t care for all that much. It was neat though as the fireworks went off in the distance but it’s another example of the one thing about Phish that drives me crazy. Phish is absolutely terrible with encores on most occasions. It’s not that the encores aren’t played  well or anything but the song choices are too easy if you ask me. Either way it was a bittersweet moment as everyone listened to the encore and watched fireworks in the distance. As Phish left the stage, the fireworks continued with Simon and Garfunkel in the background. Everyone hugged and parted ways for the last time and many hugged and became friends forever. One thing is for certain, I will never forget this past weekend and I hope that all of you in attendance will never forget it either.

  1. Mindi Hoyle says:

    Dave Vann,
    Our 6 yr old was IN FRONT of the rail ALL of NE…, the rail was behind him and the crowd, Trey played Meatsick for him because they met in 2009 and made an agreement if he learned the dance, got close, and made a sign….they would play it…well we waited all day, Trey said”I remember U”, at set break gave him a thumbs up and said next set, this explains the song being thrown in quickly….I saw a bunch of you guys between the rail and the stage (security too) taking his picture….Long blonde hair (clean) rocking all night…how can I find a pro shot of him? Thanks

  2. Mindi Hoye says:

    Dave Vann,
    Our 6 yr old was IN FRONT of the rail ALL of N3…, the rail was behind him and the crowd, Trey played Meatsick for him because they met in 2009 and made an agreement if he learned the dance, got close, and made a sign….they would play it…well we waited all day, Trey said”I remember U”, at set break gave him a thumbs up and said next set, this explains the song being thrown in quickly….I saw a bunch of you guys between the rail and the stage (security too) taking his picture….Long blonde hair (clean) rocking all night…how can I find a pro shot of him? Thanks

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