TAHOE TWEEZER: PAYOFF
4 months ago
*This is obviously only the last third of the Tahoe Tweezer, as it’s the only version with actual footage I found, and it’s fun to see Trey’s face when the moment happens. But go listen to the whole thing if you want to take the full journey.*
Everyone’s already foamed at the mouth about this Tweezer – and rightfully so, it’s brilliant and showcases what musical geniuses can do when their boundless talent and boundless passion perfectly merge with their almost telepathic communication abilities. I hate to dub anything a “best ever” since art, of course, is subjective and there really is no “best,” it’s just a matter of taste. However, this Tweezer, this emmer effing Tweezer, man…it represents if not the, than certainly a, pinnacle of this band’s 30 year career. And it’s not just because of what the four guys on stage are doing; it’s also because of what the thousands of people in the audience are doing. Specifically, what those guys on stage have trained the audience to do.
For 30 years, Phish has been about community, and communication. From the very early days on the band made a conscious effort to actively engage the audience in the concert experience. Whether it was through Secret Language, or a Big Ball Jam, or Glow Sticks, or whatever, they made sure that the emphasis at their shows wasn’t placed solely on what was happening on stage, but rather placed on what was happening in the room as a whole. This communication between band and audience creates a unique energy at each show, which in turn influences the band’s music, which influences the audience, and back and forth and back and forth and dance and play and rage. It also creates a real sense of community. The audience feels like they’re…OK maybe only a small part, but still a part, of a large group that is creating something unique that exists in the moment.
The end result of all this is a VERY attentive fan base. Phish has spent three decades creating fans who are many things – both good and bad – but are nothing if not attentive. Obsessively attentive. Of course there’s a downside to that; Phish fans can be some of the nit pickiest, most musically entitled fans on the planet. But the upside is what can happen on a random Saturday night in Tahoe. Yes, the Whoo’s.
At first glance it may not seem like much, but this totally in the moment, spontaneous outburst from several thousand people at once, is pretty damn remarkable. It’s a pay off to 30 years of a band training an audience to actively listen. There was no Secret Language here, no direction…there was none needed anymore. The jam just took a certain turn, the audience took that exact same turn with the band, and then everyone jumped off the same bridge together and collectively created something that would not have otherwise existed. And this happens, what, at 25 minutes into a single jam? What other band has a fan base that would still be so tuned in at the 25 minute mark? Sure, it’s the payoff to quality improvisation – if it’s shit, no one’s sticking around that long. But more importantly, it’s the payoff to what this band has spent three decades building: an audience that knows not just how to listen, but how to help create in the moment.
In this video, when the Whoo’s start to happen at a little over two minutes in, look at Trey’s face. Check out his grin. He knows what’s happening, and he eats it up. This has to be why they spent their careers building this weird little world…for moments like these. Now excuse me while I spend some time in the sonic joy that begins at the 2 min mark of this video.
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