HENRY DILTZ, AFP/Getty Images When Rhode Island's Newport Jazz Festival…
- Posted on Jul 4th 2011 4:00PM by Benjy Eisen
Yeah, well, unlike Summer Jam, this past weekend's 'Super Ball 9' went on for three whole days (July 1-3). But it featured just one band -- Phish.
They performed a total of seven sets -- plus an hour-long, wildly experimental unannounced late night jam, in which their silhouetted figures appeared within an art installation structure that was supposed to represent a storage facility. That particular set was Phish at their finest --- improvisational risk-takers and group mind-readers -- but it wasn't the finest of Phish, per se.
That came in the form of the other seven beefed up sets in which Phish reached a level of improvisational mastery that they haven't quite been able to reach since reforming in 2009, after a nearly five-year breakup. Young Phish fans who felt they missed Phish in their prime would be well comforted to know that it doesn't get much better than this.
In keeping with their 'Super Ball' theme of the festival, Phish covered AC/DC's 'Big Balls' and debuted a cover from the Rolling Stones ('Monkey Man'). They also dusted off David Bowie's 'Life on Mars?', Bob Marley's 'Soul Shakedown Party,' Bob Dylan's 'Quinn the Eskimo (Mighty Quinn),' Led Zeppelin's 'No Quarter,' and -- literally -- so on and so forth. But it was Phish's own compositions -- and the band's ability to recompose them on the spot -- that really shined.
After closing with an a cappela version of the Star Spangled Banner -- in honor, of course, of July 4 -- the band set off an elaborate fireworks display that had fans questioning just one thing on their way out:
"Um... dude... which one of these tents is mine, again?"