They’re Baaack!

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"2001" 3.8.09 (P.Lucks)

As promised, I’m back with some breakdown of the third night before I give a more general overview of this weekend’s sublime and encouraging family reunion.  Over the next few weeks, I will be delving into specifics of Hampton, while also addressing some comments on this site. I will try to set the record straight as to the meaning of Hampton’09, because it seems that a few people absolutely missed it; that being said, back to night three.

The culmination of the band’s scripted weekend was another Phish marathon that completed their run through the classic Phish canon.  Beginning with “Sanity,” Trey toyed with the lyrics as a means of comedic self-reference.  Emphasizing the phrases “I lost my mind just a couple of times” and “I don’t need a place to hide,” he proclaimed his personal revival.  As the band began with a vengeance, everyone knew it would be a special night.  In the most exciting first set of the weekend, the band slaughtered more of their classic and complex compositions.  A tight return of “Foam” showed off the band’s polished chops and gave a retro glimpse into to an earlier time when they attacked their compositions with no abandon.  And, again, that time is now.

3.7.09 (P.Lucks)

3.7.09 (P.Lucks)

The ensuing “Bathtub Gin” was an emotive welcome home to all of the Phish crowd, as the soaring melodies and locked thematic jamming brought a unbridled level of pure joy and energy to the arena.  With the impending realization that Phish is as excited to be back as we were, everything seemed to click into place.  Tucked in the middle of five of the band’s most classic songs was the long awaited debut of “Undermind.” A indiscernible crunchy groove quickly morphed into the band’s title track of their last album, and was used to introduce the new Phish.  “Relocated, not retired/Reprimanded and rewired…Reinvented, Redefined…” Bringing amazing energy from the crowd, the band moved from the verses into a new dancy jam- something always welcome on Phish tour.

In the middle of the set came a furious and evil rendition of another tough composition, “My Friend, My Friend.”  This crisp version of this song sounded like 1993 when the hit every single note with zest.  Definitely one of the high points of the set, the menacing Rift classic paired up with its album-mate and led directly into a scorching “Maze.”  The band played incredibly well throughout this set, with a tightness and urgency that had been absent during loose playing of 2.0.

As the third two-hour first set wound down, the band ripped into a three song combination that brought the house down.  “Tube,” “Cars, Trucks, and Busses,” and “Free” instantly enhanced an all-out dance party into a staright up bash.  The first asteroid crash of the last five years sent an instant shot of adrenaline to the crowd, who were enthralled to be dancing so hard again.  This effect lasted throughout a standout “C, T, & B,” highlighting Page’s masterful work all weekend, and into a concise, yet bombastic “Free.”  Ending with the energetic “Frankenstein,” complete with Page on “keytar,” the band punctuated another sixteen songs and two hours of pristine Phish.

3.7.09 (P.Lucks)

3.7.09 (P.Lucks)

But when the second set got underway, Phish began to get back to business as usual.  Using clearly scripted setlists all weekend long, the band lined up a hallowed collection of Phish songs for the ideal reunion run. However, the quality of jamming, albeit tight as all get out, was mostly concise, and was structured within the framework of songs.  The surface that was scratched by night two’s “Rock and Roll” was dug into more deeply into by the twenty-two minute set-opening “Down With Disease.”  Starting by surfing the psychedelic wave of the song’s million-dollar melody, the band shredded the feel-good “composed jam” before entering into free flowing improv.  In some truly exploratory playing, the entire band took the music far away from “Disease” into a slowly moving realm where the band fused into one being.  Tapping into the their ethos, Phish created the only open-ended and extended jam of the weekend, sliding back into form with one of their classic vehicles.  Like a return to a secret cave we hadn’t visited in years, being smack dab in the middle of true Phish improv was an overwhelming feeling of soulful happiness.  Listening to the band combine their spontaneous ideas in a coherent and engaging way, the missing piece of the weekend had now been completed.

3.8.09 set I (P.Lucks)

3.8.09 set I (P.Lucks)

In a three-night Phish suite comprised of their most hallowed songs, the reunion was specifically about the Phishy vibe returning to the world.  The band and crowd were able to reconnect with the spirit and energy that defined Phish’s scene in the early to mid-‘90s.  Nostalgic, yet simultaneously forward looking, the weekend provided the community with a massive trampoline to launch our trajectory into this summer and beyond.  Phish wasn’t out to play thirty minute jams this weekend; that was clearly not the point- it was far more about the intangible aspects of the weekend that will never be heard on tape.  But with this “Disease,” the band sent the message, “Yes, we can still get as deep as ever, so watch out this summer!”  Everyone in the venue got the message loud and clear, and hopefully those listening at home did as well.  Sure, Phish could have come out and played four song sets- no question- but that was not the intention of the weekend. Instead of being focused on deep musical exploration, Hampton represented a magical celebration of Phish and their return to our everyday consciousness as well as their own.

Following their deepest excursion, the band continued into the most flowing set of the weekend with a gorgeous “Seven Below.” After the two uplifting improvisational pieces, Phish made a sublime stop in a precisely played “Horse > Silent.”  Managing to fit in nearly every classic song into their twelve hour, eighty-eight song weekend, by the time this point in the set came, one could virtually predict the that would follow- but how they would fit together was something no one could know.

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3.8.09 (P.Lucks)

The opening licks of “Twist,” one of the band biggest 2.0 vehicles, infused some more modern Phish into an old-school themed run.  Trey led the band through this jam using the dirtiest, most beautiful uncompressed tone.  As soon the jam grew out of the darkness into an alien-ambient texture, the band entered some of the most impressive music of the weekend. As the improv reached it’s deepest point, they coyly slid into the elusive “2001” that had been hinted at throughout the previous few sets.

As the beat started, The Mothership was cleared for liftoff, and we collectively blasted off into chapter three with crisp, strapping grooves that were like candy for everyone’s minds.  Taking the space-aged cover through a short and intense incarnation, the emotions flooding the moment were totally overwhelming; a cohesion of our collective consciousness.  At, arguably, the highest point of the weekend, the band made a huge drop into “Moma Dance,” all but imploding the minds of everyone in the room.  Bringing memories of the big “Black-Eyed” back in 1997, swank molasses grooves filled the room.  “Twist > 2001 > Moma”- like something out of a Phish comic book- simply unreal!

"Reba" 3.7.09 (J .Tilden)

"Reba" 3.7.09 (J .Tilden)

With their second nod to The Beatles in as many nights, Phish busted out a stirring rendition of “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” that featired a colossal Trey solo before ending their weekend with the most majestic combination possible of “Velvet Sea” and “Slave.”  Bringing a cathartic culmination to the greatest weekend of our lives, the delicate “Slave” jam whispered in our hearts of the soulful connection between, the band, the cosmos, and ourselves.  As “Reprise” closed the ecncore amidst an flurry of massive baloons, things felt amazing again.

We have finally arrived.  All weekend long, Phish reminded us why they are the greatest band on the planet. And with nothing but bright skies ahead, the world is back to the way they should be- with a happy and scorching Phish.  As summer tour is only months away, and west coast dates on the horizon, things couldn’t look better.  As any one of the 13,000 people that walked out of our sacred venue with shit-eating grins could tell you, “The magic is back.”

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MINER UPDATE: I got stuck in Newark, NJ tonight, so didn’t have access to downloads yet.  I will be putting regular tracked AUDs of the weekend up this week. Cheers, everyone! It’s ON!

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253 Responses to “They’re Baaack!”

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  1. gtgwbab2495 Says:

    YES.

  2. Selector J Says:

    “As any of the 13,000 people that walked out of our sacred venue…”

    Not to mention the ever so many people drinking Sammy’s in their living room… No Spoilers rocks.

  3. phunkybooner12 Says:

    You hit the nail on the head with this one miner!

  4. Geoff Says:

    Nice reviews all weekend long!!

  5. (:{> Says:

    Just finishing up a listen to night 3 set 1…Free gave me chills. I suddenly remember a feeling I felt sitting my campsite at the Clifford Ball…many moons ago. It was fresh. I knew I was part of something amazing at the time. I’m getting that feeling again. This might be a vibe I haven’t tapped into in my many shows since Big Cyp.

    This new energy makes me happy new adventures are on the horizon.

  6. Exree Hipp Says:

    Loved this write-up and your writing throughout the run, but don’t ever feel like you need to be an apologist or even a defender of the band. If others miss the point, let them. Just kill it with kindness. Your blog has been daily reading for me because you let the positivity you have and your personal love for the music stand for itself. Keep on with your love and support. There are enough places on the internet to talk about why Phish isn’t what they used to be or why they need to be held to a largely imaginary standard they established 15 years ago.

  7. Jon Says:

    really great job describing this show, I was at the three shows and I definitely felt that Sunday was the perfect culmination of the weekend, bringing everything back together again. The whole weekend as a whole was priceless.

  8. Here Comes The Joker Says:

    Minor great synopsis of the show. Last Sanity opener I believe was 10/31/96 which sparked the groove machine of 97 with Remain In Light. This may be the show we look back on that sparked the Phish of 09 and beyond.

  9. c0wfunk Says:

    well said, thanks again mr miner.

  10. yisseroff Says:

    I was at Sat. night and Sunday night, and agree that Sunday night was really on target.
    Just a question- was it just me, or did Trey switch between compressed and uncompressed tone? I could have sworn I heard him compressed during a couple of songs…

  11. Weyoun42 Says:

    You know, I was just re-listening to the soundboards of night one. At the start, the most out of place piece of the whole thing is Trey’s vocals. He sounds tight and nervous. Completely understandably, of course. But, I pinpointed the exact place where he loosens up. It’s Fish’s vacuum solo in I Didn’t Know. Seriously, just listen to him sing in the two halves of that song. It’s like night and day. I bet he looked over there at Fishman sucking on that vacuum and realized, “That’s ridiculous. We’re ridiculous. Why am I taking this so seriously? I’m gonna have some fun!” Up until that point, he might have been the only person in that arena wound so tightly that he was not completely having fun. I think that after that, he was. Just my observation, but I think there’s merit to the theory.

  12. (:{> Says:

    sound like a valid theory….either way by the time Sunday rolled around, he was killing it properly.

  13. Here Comes The Joker Says:

    I had to to put last night on again after reading Minor’s review. 3rd time today, had the IPOD shooting out the SBD’s all day at work made it all the way thru twice. I know this has been covered before but how great was Page all weekend. I keep bouncin back on the the old IPOD between Army of One and Beauty of my Broken Heart. I know ballad phish isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but this aging phan thinks this dad rock is awesome. I cant help but be amazed and not just the writing of the songs but the way Page sings there is a beauty to it. I can’t help but think what a great choice Strange Design would have been this weekend with as good as Page sounded, fitting too.

    First three posts in one hour, I really like this board. Thanks to Minor and Cowfunk for the positive replies to my first post.

  14. time for the last rewind Says:

    Thank you Mr. Miner!

    Joker, I totally agree about Page. He was killing it. I was thinking a Destiny Unbound opener or closer would have been fitting, but I have no complaints about Fluffhead & Tweeprise!

    Phish is back, and no spoilers really helped me feel the feeling I forget.

    Can’t wait for Summer Tour ’09.

  15. guyforget Says:

    Miner, enjoy your stay in my old stomping grounds of the Garden State for the night!!! Once again, thanks for the goodness this weekend. The SBDs are one thing, but your efforts cannot be trumped. Safe travels my friend. i’m sure you can’t wait til the tires on the plane make contact with the runway in Cali!

  16. shpongleyez Says:

    Yes, yes, YES on Page, Joker. And not just on the ballads either. by a long shot. Miner will say “WHAT!!!!” but I think he ran circles around Trey for these 3 ;). Lots of shows left to be played, though. Wooooo!

    Cheers, all, and safe travels, Mr. Miner.

  17. Matt Says:

    PLAYYYYYY IT LEOOOOOO!!!!

    Suzy Fking GREENBURG!
    So nasty.
    Keytar is sweet too!
    He was on all weekend.

  18. Jer Says:

    I haven’t made it to the third night yet, however I would challenge the notion that the only really exploratory jamming come during the Disease. There weren’t any colossal ‘times’ when looking at the setlist, but the Ghost is among the most exploratory versions I’ve -ever- heard. The band did not fuck around, they didn’t “groove”…they got right down to business in segment of improv. Piper is only 5 minutes long, but if you just pushed play in the middle of this jam, you would probably have no clue what song is being played…and the segue into Birds is just awesome. Instead of wasting time with moderately entertaining ‘funking and grooving’ they chose to play more songs, which is an INCREDIBLE change.

    OMG, I had to go back and listen to Rock and Roll again…and at the 9 minute mark there is just absolute some absolute HOSE coming from Trey as he plays the most soulful pattern of notes I’ve heard come out of his guitar since I can’t remember when. It’s just one of those goosebump moments. Please, if you are reading this, go and listen to it right now…it starts when Fish starts breaking things down around the 8:30 mark…then Mike takes the lead, Page on the clav, Mike adding this awesome ambient playing and then TREY!!!!!!!! OMG.

    I can’t wait for this summer. This are three of the best Phish shows I’ve ever heard…they are ALL legendary…and I’m a grumpy old fart who likes to pick nits.

  19. eric Says:

    Hey miner, the no spoilers were fantastic! I listened to everyone of them. Thank you and all who helped out on this. I am so glad I waited to listen to the no spoilers.

    I agree, Page brought his A game this weekend. In a few songs it seemed page was throwing in new bold leads and fills while Trey to played more nasty rhythm. Trey seemed nervous early, but definitely found his groove by the end of weekend. Listening to the shows, the collective energy and tightness of the band improve every set through out the weekend. The DWD jam gave me goose bumps, (though noted I am partial to spacey/ambient/wall of sound jamming etc.). All around I am digging the sound and I think its only gonna get better from here. PHISH IS BACK!!

    ps. I thought it was interesting that the only thing Trey really did say (besides ‘thank you’) was that back stage was filled with family, friends, and KIDS. In other words, its gonna be different this time, it’s about the music, health, and happiness

  20. Jer Says:

    God…I probably should do a grammar check next time…believe it or not, English is my first language….ugh.

  21. ATL 007 (CWgang) Says:

    So so much to say …but let me just add that I wached Page all weekend “lead” the band. Very very cool to see him in such comand. On point and facing front he never skipped a beat. Beauty of a Broken Heart was pro style Phish team work at its best…..Too much to review …….Time to continue to let it sink in …..Sharp sharp sharp………Oh yea, the back third of of DWD was very new and very sick!

  22. Gregor Says:

    Sunday was the best night, for sure. The Twist>2001>Moma Dance brought chills and shit eating grin to my face. (Although I wept during Fluffhead haha)

    Mind you these were my first shows.

    I understand the whole camman thing.
    Someone commented on how they are afraid that all of the new fans will see these shows for the first time and think that they are the best, only to ignore all of the old gems. This is the complete opposite of what’s happened.
    I’ve listened to Phish for about 6 years now, and that’s ALL I’ve done, go back and try to find the VERY BEST of everything. I must say, sitting through the first night, although the BEST night of my life, I was still slightly disappointed with the playing. The jams seem so weak compared to the BEST OFs of all of the songs, catch my drift??
    I KNOW better, and because of that I allowed myself to loosen up in only one day. By time Saturday came around I couldn’t have been happier with how the band was playing. Sunday I had more fun than I thought was even possible in a night.
    I’ve already gone back and listened to all 3 of the shows again, and I am SO PUMPED for Summer Tour. I understand that the band will never again play like they did in ’93. After being there this weekend I feel like I see everything so much differently now. We have Phish to look forward to, not just look back on and I am so excited to see it. I have tickets for the last 3 shows but I want to do everything I can to get more.

    One of my favorite parts of the weekend were the Page highlights, I’m glad I’m not the only one. Walking around stage singing Lawn Boy, busting out a GIANT Keytar! KILLING everything he played! I guess that’s the one thing about Trey not necessarily playing as tight as he could or should be, you really appreciate everyone else in the band haha.

    In general, this weekend was out of this world. I’ve been dreaming about it for so long, and I finally got to experience it. It’s funny how even when my friends all already think I’m obsessed with this band, everything has changed now. Now I think it’s a reality 🙂

  23. Stephen Says:

    AHHHHHH!!!! I am an English teacher now in the Middle East and I have too slow of an internet connection to download the “happenings’ of all this. Reading all the thoughts and set lists is driving me crazy!!!! aHhHHHHHH!! I will have to go find an internet cafe with a faster connection.

  24. axillalot Says:

    I LOVE PAGE’S NEW BAND!!!!!

  25. Yome NetSan Says:

    Hi All !

    I’ve been reading this site for 2 month but never been rellay into the comment this but now is the time.

    I wanted to thank all the No Spoiler crew as you clearly made my week-end !
    As I’m french, a trip to see Phish is a little bit excessive so the No Spoiler was a dream (though a tiring one). I woke up at 7am each day (5am on saturday, didn’t count the time lag very well) to grab the set and listened to them on my bath or in my bed. I smiled all twelve hours long to the suprised set list, the quality of recording and of course the surreal Phish 3.0.

    I’m so glad the boys are back with this bang and I can’t wait for this summer.
    I also still dream of a European tour… I can’t beleive I listen to Phish for 12 years and never seen them live (discovered during the summer 1997 at a party in Long Island and missed the 1998 tour because i felt in love…) !

    Thanks again all !

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