Thursday 08/09/2018 by phishnet


[Many thanks to Ryan Harrell for recapping Camden2 for the site. -Ed.]

The BB&T Pavilion in Camden, New Jersey, is storied not for its architecture or aesthetic, but rather for the high quality of shows Phish has brought to its stage over the years. This was my first run at this venue, and what struck me the most was the great sound quality one could find at almost any place on its large lawn. In particular, the drums and bass guitar sounded noticeably crisp and tight. I wondered if the individual band members have any venue-specific knowledge about how their instruments carry out to the crowd. While I have no idea if they have such knowledge, given the strong, confident performances by Mike and Fish last night, it wouldn't surprise me if they did.

© 2018 Andrea Nusinov
© 2018 Andrea Nusinov

Accordingly, the first set launched with the classic pairing of "The Moma Dance” and “Free.” Although neither deviated from its expected format, both conveyed a particular snappiness, and the two-chord portion of the jam in “Free” had an added richness.

Undermind” fit in well with this vibe, as did “Theme From the Bottom” (which soared, and will almost certainly make its jam chart). “My Sweet One” was a welcome blast of energy, and a good contrast to more simmering “Steam” that followed. The jam to this “Steam,” although relatively brief, found Trey creating strong, repetitive riffs, which pointed to the direction many of the show’s subsequent highlights would take.

The crowd appreciated the rarity of “Train Song,” and the “Halley’s Comet” that followed featured strong harmonies from the band members, an additional trend that continued through the show.

The set-closing “Everything’s Right” was the set's clear highlight, and its mighty jam foretold the harnessed energy the band would release in the second set as well. Although the jam settled into workmanlike bliss, notably, an additional jam segment emerged, focused on blistering energy, and brought things to a satisfying peak before the band returned to the chorus and concluded a solid, if not unique, first set.

© 2018 Phish (Rene Huemer)
© 2018 Phish (Rene Huemer)

The second set kicked off with the somewhat odd choice of “Julius” (which hadn't opened a second set in a few years). I didn’t expect this to be taken for any significant ride, but I was aware of the way in which the song has launched other high-energy sets, specifically 07/06/1998. This approach seemed confirmed when “Carini” appeared in the set’s second slot.

This brings me to my only real quibble with the show. “Carini’s” jam began confidently, and quickly shifted to an up-tempo section, against which some nice descending-chord "hose jamming" emerged. The promise of this jam, however, was cut short by Trey essentially dropping out of the jam to set up the beginning of “Set Your Soul Free.” I was was reminded here of the “Twist” in 10/15/2016, which to my ears had its potential promise cut short by a similarly abrupt shift into another, newer song, in that case, the debut of “I Always Wanted It That Way.”

“Set Your Soul Free,” despite its similarities to other recent Trey output, does have an advantage in its righteous ending chords and vocal round, which were played in spectacular fashion both before and after the upbeat jam.

“Wingsuit” was right at home in the next spot, and consistent with the peaking jamming preceding it, delivered its Floydian conclusion in a highly satisfying way. The full version of “Scents and Subtle Sounds” followed (it included the intro), and the band confidently delivered a simmering jam with good interplay from all members before Trey took it to a moderate peak. The beginnings of another jam segment began, but dissipated in favor of the opening strains of “Waste,” which felt earned as the second-set ballad, and went over well.

I was expecting a big finish, and received it in spades when the opening drum crack of “Split Open and Melt” rang out. It seems clear the band is giving special attention to this song at present, and this focus paid off in the resulting tangled, knotty version the Camden crowd enjoyed. It would not have sounded out of place in August 1993, frankly, and it was easily the evening’s most exploratory and challenging jam. Chris Kuroda deserves special mention for the way in which he draped the light rig downward in a dramatic way that made me slightly worried he would permanently tangle the rig.

“Melt” could have capably ended the set, but we were treated to “Character Zero” to close. In addition to the expected Hendrixian guitar heroics, a portion of the jam opened itself to "wooing," which the band seemed to enjoy and encourage. A standard but energetic “Suzy Greenberg” as the encore capped the show’s energy with a bold-font punctuation mark.

This has been a high-quality tour so far, and although I do not see characteristics of this show that would make it lead the pack, I would rate it as acquitting itself admirably within that pack. Those who seek energy and peaks would do well to check out the second set as a whole, and Phish fans of all stripes should immediately listen to this excellent “Split Open and Melt.”

© 2018 Phish (Rene Huemer)
© 2018 Phish (Rene Huemer)

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, comment by Slewfoot
Slewfoot I think this is an excellent recap and generally follows my feelings of the show as is also written in a straightforward, practical manner just like much of the show itself...look forward to what comes next this Summer!
, comment by petriWhor
petriWhor Great analysis and writing! Thank you
, comment by stimbuck
stimbuck I recall an older interview with the band, and maybe Gordon specifically, in which they discuss slapback (?) or the echo that returns to the stage. Seems like it has an affect on the selection of songs they play and types of jamming.
, comment by whatstheuse324
whatstheuse324 Nice recap, Ryan.

I was at both Camden shows, and although they were both “good” and I had fun, I don’t think they hold a candle to any of the Alpharetta shows, even the highly contested Sunday show. In fact, these were my 7th and 8th Camden shows, and I would probably put them in 7th and 8th place.

I thought the first set last night was very good, but the second set never got any legs under it from Carini on. It was a slow and mellow kind of show, which is not what I expected. I did appreciate the intro appearing on Scents and Subtle Sounds, and I think they should always play it that way. The Melt brought the energy up for sure, but setlist-wise for the two Jersey/Philly shows, I feel like they fell below my expectations. If you feel otherwise and thought they were the most amazing shows ever, that’s good and I’m very happy for you. Like I stated, I had a fun time, but nothing from either night blew my mind. DWD and Light were the two songs to take away from these shows.
, comment by shaunfunk
shaunfunk Nice review. Had a blast at both shows. Phish, if you read this please do something about the people who take up the space of 3-4 humans along the first two rows of GA pit. It made for a hot and dangerous situation towards where I was in the back of the pit (I’m tall and courteous so I could observe the scene and it was ugly). Those bad vibes close to the band can’t be helping the overall sound. The ocean is love but there were quite a few devils in that crowd.
, comment by pureguava
pureguava A well-written and thoughtful review. You are a solid scribe.
, comment by Nomidwestlove
Nomidwestlove Nice recap, I have to say the Set 1 closing Everything’s Right was the best of the three played this tour IMO, and that’s saying something as they’ve all been pretty killer.
, comment by Hardbody_Harrison
Hardbody_Harrison I actually did not mind the shift into Set Your Soul Free at all really. I'm ambivalent about the song but I got down to it. Replacing Waste with another 6 min of Scents jamming would have made this a 5 star show for me, new songs and all. Everything's Right was downright explosive.

My first time at this venue and I certainly agree about the sound. Mike was earthshaking and just the right amount of reverb rattling around under the roof. Song selection suited the place perfectly; Free, Theme, Melt.

Psyched for Curveball
, comment by humalupa
humalupa Thanks for the kind words, everyone, and big thanks to the .net blog team for the opportunity to write this. I didn't want to hamper the recap with too much "this was my personal experience" stuff, but I definitely want use this space to say how nice it was to meet and talk with so many people at the .net meetup, as well as the smaller group that raged with me out on the lawn. Across the board, I found .netters to be friendly, generous, and considerate (as well as eager to have a discussion about using the 'Oxford comma'). Those are qualities I can't always count on from those around me at Phish shows, so being able to experience that in Camden definitely heightened the show.

See you at Curveball!
, comment by CForbin
CForbin I too noticed the sound - particularly the bass during n1’s Mike’s intro and DWD.. strong, very strong.
Julius had to be an obvious nod to the new Sixers facility next to the arena. Dr J’s fave.
, comment by bruthabear
bruthabear I have one quick noteworthy tease that popped up at 4:35-4:50 into the Steam and I haven't seen it mentioned in any setlist. Mike started it, but Trey also played the beginning of "Apostrophe" by Mr. Frank was only a few bars but thought it was worth the note! Kind of exciting...what is to come for Halloween?!!
, comment by Wactoob
Wactoob Thanks for the review! As part of .net is for historical Phish purposes, I would like to submit that the first pic above is not from this show as one can clearly see there is no pineapple behind trey. It would be great if we could get one from Rene (or another Phish photographer) of the lights during this Carini as they were the best piece of work I have ever experienced from CK5.
, comment by Wactoob
Wactoob @Wactoob said:
Thanks for the review! As part of .net is for historical Phish purposes, I would like to submit that the first pic above is not from this show as one can clearly see there is no pineapple behind trey. It would be great if we could get one from Rene (or another Phish photographer) of the lights during this Carini as they were the best piece of work I have ever experienced from CK5.
Whoops...not Carini....SOAM
, comment by pikkle
pikkle Speaking of SOAMelt, is it going to be jam charted? It's better than a ton of others that have been added during 3.0.
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