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!”

  1. c0wfunk Says:

    just read back through the beginning of yesterday’s thread.. I have to say I’m a little shocked by camman’s evolution – almost unsure now if he’s a mock character by the drastic swing we just saw. Or maybe that’s just being 17 ……

    I have to wonder how many of the people criticizing the band’s performance have ever played music before. Relearning 86 songs or whatever, many of them requiring virtuoso skills, in 6 months is no small feat. Just because they wrote the songs and used to play them all the time does not mean their muscle memory was there. They had to go back and practice every single one of those songs multiple times to get the tightness they achieved. Word from inside is that they played fluffhead 5 times thursday night alone! This dedication on its own should be enough to respect what they just pulled off.

    I got this strangely overwhelming feeling on saturday night of complete and total sympathy for Trey — during Reba I realized how much the situation was like Trey’s Recital (the music student in me coming out I know). Every time there was a composed section, the room got insanely quiet, everyone singing every note in their mind, waiting and waiting to see if he’d throw in a clam or two. If you’ve ever endured the agony that is performing for a Jury in music school, you know the feeling. You can practice that piece every day for 6 months, play it the night before in your sleep, and still go in and botch that section you focused on the most.

    To this point – does anyone remember seeing a 3 night, 2 sets a night run that was anything like this long? I sure don’t, and if it happened, it must have been like 1992 or so.

    One thing i haven’t noticed mentioned much is how GREAT it sounded in that room. I know there was a lot of worry about Languedoc, but to my (professionally trained) ears the mix was better than I’ve ever heard in Hampton, and close to as good as I’ve ever heard phish sound anywhere. Maybe the difference is the new speaker stacks, but man, the sound was crisp and clear, and from everywhere (though somehow I managed to miss the floor..). Friday we were in section z straight across from the stage, down near the rail, saturday we were behind fishman’s shoulder (love the behind the stage vantage) and sunday we were in the section just in front of fishman, right near where fish’s dad was sitting. Everywhere the sound was pristine, all band members loud and clear, amazing stereo image, and clear, individual vocals!

  2. Matso Says:

    There have been a lot of comments about how tight or nervous Trey seemed and I just wanted to speculate on that for a moment.

    When Phish broke up, one of the things Trey said was that no one loves Phish more than him and that he felt that they weren’t respecting this very special thing the way they should. That’s always resonated with me and I admire the fact that Trey, despite the bad state he was in, knew that they had betrayed that relationship and that the only honourable thing to do was to end it.

    I’m going to use an analogy and I know it’s not perfect, so indulge me a bit: The band and us are like a family or a pair of lovers. Imagine you did wrong to someone who loves you and leaving them. Then imagine after you sort yourself out, them taking you back with more love than ever before. That feeling of being loved completely and without condition, of being accepted warts and all, is overwhelming and humbling.

    We didn’t stop loving Phish because of Coventry, because they brought it to an end.

    Now imagine what it must have felt like for Trey to step out on stage on Friday and to feel the enormous amount of love coming from the thousands of people in that room and the love of the thousands of us at home around the world equally excited to have them back.

    In that moment, Trey must have sensed with greater clarity than ever before the depth of this relationship and what he had risked losing. It must have been incredibly emotional for him up there and so it doesn’t surprise me in the least that he was a bit awkward at times or self-conscious. Like I said above, I think it was probably pretty humbling for him.

  3. c0wfunk Says:

    well said matso — that was the same message I got — during songs like I Didn’t Know, Sanity, NICU (back on those days when…) this rang clear to me, and I was getting an almost apologetic vibe from Trey. Much of this weekend was almost a prodigal son type thing, the roles reversed now between us and the bad lieutenant, as we shine the lovelight back to lead the way.

    ..
    If you are here with me, I trust you to lead the way
    When you’re not I follow you, and always go astray
    ..

  4. bunitingi Says:

    axillalot: lol.

    I’d like to sincerely and deeply thank the tapers and the entire no spoilers crew who brought the entire weekend to my ipod. Folks, yours was the version i listened to this weekend and the the sound was GREAT! GREAT! Really, i can’t thank you guys enough.

    I am jaw droppingly flabbergasted by the 3 nights. The band definitely exceeded my expectations and threw down a mission statement forged in a cauldron of Asgard and delivered by Thor’s lightening bolt. They are serious, they are sharp, and they DAMN well mean business.

    And of course, i don;t know WHAT happened to Page or who fed him the Jekyll/Hyde formula, but he was a MONSTER.

    Of course going into the shows i kept in mind that these aren’t going to be shows from a mid november fall tour, when the band has been playing steadily since the beginning of the summer. In fact, there is NO tour, EVER, EVER, where they came out with a 1st weekend like this. Not 93, 94, 97, never. Go back and listen to any 1st weekend show, they never came down like this.

    They have crafted themselves a ground zero launching pad that begins with focus and purpose i hadn’t dared dream of. Before one can go off wandering the realms of far off inner space, one needs to find oneself and assemble one’s crew and spacecraft. This is was what this weekend was about, and this they did, setting up a launch pad for the ages.

    I can only dream of where they’re end up by mid summer, having reasserted an identity with such boldness and command. There is plenty of room to grow, And it was surprising that Trey seemed the one most in search of a new identity, while Page has found his inner monster and is throwing down like a Viking banshee out to conquer the planet.

    Now we wait and see where they go. What a weekend, what promise, what purpose! Mr. Miner, thank you for keeping the torch burning so brightly, and one again, thank you every single taper who has made my experience of Phish through the years ring through my speakers and headphones.

    Oh yeah, maybe a little nod to band. They came, they saw, they bitch slapped my ears.

  5. Matso Says:

    I’ve split my post into two sections. Here is where I answer the inevitable (and perfectly legitimate) criticism of some of the less sentimental, if nonetheless very articulate, readers of this site of this syrupy portrait of Phish and its fanbase (WaxBanks I’m looking in your direction).

    My approach is this: I think the more we respect this scene and appreciate it as something special, the better it will be.

    I admit, it’s hard to maintain this image of a special relationship when you think of some dirty wook sucking back a balloon in the lot, crapping his pants and passing out before the show. And I think it’s inevitable that the vibe this summer will be more uneven and less celebratory than Hampton by virtue of the much wider group of people that will at the shows (ie. the talkers, the people there solely to party, and all the other people who go to Phish shows for reasons other than the music).

    There’s nothing wrong with that of course, but I think those of us that care about the music and find some deeper meaning in it should do our best to respect this phenomenon and not allow negativity to poison the well.

    THIS DOES NOT MEAN AVOIDING CRITICAL DISCUSSION. I don’t look back at aspects of 99 and 00 without wanting to explain what I felt was missing or could have been done better. As long as we do that with a certain degree care and an underlying respect for the music, then hopefully we’ll preserve the wide-eyed wonder with which we should be going to every show.

  6. c0wfunk Says:

    there’s certainly a time to criticism, but it must be done with historical context an awareness of where we came from… my biggest beef is with people who complain from a place of ignorance – either ignorance of music itself and the intricacies of performing it, or ignorance of the band’s history and why certain moments of this weekend were significant.

    How many other people heard the 8 bar or so nod to “the curtain with” during the Tweezer jam on Friday? How many realize how significant ending with Velvet Sea > Slave on sunday was? That AC/DC, Gumbo, water in the sky reverted to their previous forms? These things are all at least as important, probably much more, as, say, the trainwreck in PYITE to me.

  7. c0wfunk Says:

    a time to criticize obviously.

  8. Al Says:

    I encourage you to all read Matso’s and cOwfunk’s posts over the last pages. I totally agree in all points. Thanks!
    I think all these Reunion expectations need to fall off everyone. Then Trey will also relax. Musically, the weekend was as tight as any show between 98-04. Trey has always fucked up some parts, but this fact didn’t seem to bother people in the old days. Now, every gig or song felt like a final exam for him in front of 13000 teachers waiting for mistakes. Everyone who plays an instrument knows, that rehearsing is one thing, but performing is another. And let’s face it. Reba or Fluffhead is not really a piece of cake. And they were tight as hell. Ghost was THE jam of the weekend and proved that Phish is alive. Give them time to take a first breath again.

  9. empire Says:

    well put Minor…last night the dwd confirmed that phish can take it to that place. and going into the 7below was cool, in no way perfect but the intention was right on point. and the twist>2001 was sick. I didnt
    make it to the moma but Ill hit that end of the set on my jog today.

    It was pretty obvious that these shows were a celebration of phish songs. their history and pleasing the fans with their favorites tunes. I wonder if some of these songs will be shelved. I look forward to the new tunes that they have created and where those songs will go. What I love about phish the most is that they are always evolving, always moving and creating, improvising and opening up doors. As much as people complain about post hiatus phish or compare it to 95, 97. I think that their music has always gone into new places. just in 03, the tower jam, the ambient jams in pebble in marbles, 7below,46days, the reworking of chalk dust at IT. just amazing music.
    I think we are all going to be in for a hell of a ride this summer and beyond!!!cheers

  10. VTsnowboarder802 Says:

    Mr. Miner. I love the page and your writings, but I do have one minute critticism.

    “it was far more about the intangible aspects of the weekend that will never be heard on tape.”

    I disagree. While it certainly can not be the same as being in the room, and seeing the band, it was emotional weekend for those of us spread around the world. If you can’t hear the emotions, and feel the meanings dripping through the recordings from this past weekend, then I feel sorry for you. I spent a good chunk of the weekend walking around with the ipod smiling, laughing, singing, yelling. I could care less about any jam’s from last weekend, this was much bigger than any jam.

    BTW: Thank you so much for no spoilers. It truly was the next best thing to being at the show, and really enhanced the listening. I hope that this is not a one-off, as I look forward to doing the same this summer.

    BTW2: I completely agree with all the Page comments. At one point this weekend, I turned to my wife and said something to the effect of “Holy $#!&, Page apparently didn’t stop playing Phish songs for the last five years.”

  11. anabiono Says:

    ok…i am listening to sunday for the first time this morning…

    well, i got chills during sanity…wilson…and foam…

    i teared up during gin…

    this isn’t old school phish, but i never expected that…this is the best phish i have heard since…mmm…98?

    there is life…god i am glad they put up a fight and didn’t fade away

    undermind has some soulful chunk flavor…interesting…

  12. ma Says:

    i want to also celebrate and rejoice in all that is phish, as well contribute in a positive manner to this site…

    i don’t really understand where the feelings that page led with way come from…how is it possible to seperate an entity like the four of them into individual performances…it all rolls into one, plain and simple…the music is whole and would not exist without collaboration….”the whole is the sum of its parts”..

    again, thanks to all whose positive contributions make this site so enjoyable…

    see you this summer!

  13. ma Says:

    sorry,

    page led the way come from ….see above

  14. c0wfunk Says:

    LOVED undermind.. a favorite new tune for me, the live version is a great rework.

  15. readbetweenthelines Says:

    WOW….Undermind…undermind feels so good!

  16. VTsnowboarder802 Says:

    @ma
    I agree to an extent, but however some parts that are a sum of a whole are bigger than the others. This weekend was unreal all around, but for me I think Page was on another tier. However you choose to listen is your perogative, I just think that Page decided he was going to own Hampton.

  17. SOAM Says:

    all good-88tunes-12 hrs of music-6 doublewide sets and 3 days of insanity.

  18. Frankie Says:

    I also really like Mike’s sound on the No Spoilers First Night Set 1. I listened to it with a great sub and he was coming through loud and clear. I told my friend he sounded like a Phil Lesh/Allen Woody hybrid.

    It’ll take a while before i digest all this new Phish…

    I’m also amazed at the mix of the LivePhish mp3… you can hear the crowd really well and it’s much more enjoyable to listen to that way…

    KUDOS to the LivePhish team!! Really appreciated!

  19. c0wfunk Says:

    Listening 2 sat thru headphones now (amidst gumbo).. Mike sounds great in this mix and is bumpon all over. Especially like his work during the pyite lyrics.. Reba time!!

  20. RobAins Says:

    I noticed the same thing yesterday as I listened to 3/7… you could see the atmospheric room mic’s aimed at the crowd in a lot of the pictures, glad to hear that they brought those up in the mix! Allthough, I prefer the Aud source for Fluffhead, the crowd singing along was amazing and it didn’t seem to sound the same on the sbd….I’m thinking the guys mixing the show in the truck figured this out by the second night.

    Anyone else drink the Kool-Aid? I am so on board with 3.0! Can’t wait for Summer!

  21. Weyoun42 Says:

    I too was surprised by Undermind. While it has interesting lyrics, the studio version always seemed sort of flat and dull to me. Hearing it live? Holy crap on a crutch. It’s like a different song altogether. I hope that one makes it into the regular show rotations and doesn’t just fade away. There is a lot of potential there.

  22. Wax Banks Says:

    (WaxBanks I’m looking in your direction)

    Ahoy Matso-matey! 🙂

    As long as we do that with a certain degree care and an underlying respect for the music, then hopefully we’ll preserve the wide-eyed wonder with which we should be going to every show.

    Hey Matso, could you drop me an email? I wanna send you something. I’m waxbanks@gmail.com. (Real name’s Wally, by the way.)

  23. Wax Banks Says:

    Now imagine what it must have felt like for Trey to step out on stage on Friday and to feel the enormous amount of love coming from the thousands of people in that room and the love of the thousands of us at home around the world equally excited to have them back.

    In that moment, Trey must have sensed with greater clarity than ever before the depth of this relationship and what he had risked losing. It must have been incredibly emotional for him up there and so it doesn’t surprise me in the least that he was a bit awkward at times or self-conscious. Like I said above, I think it was probably pretty humbling for him.

    This is beautifully put, and makes clearer the difference between ‘technical’ criticism – which if made in good faith has the hidden, generous, practical form ‘This can be better this way’ – and the power of the Phish experience as just People Getting Together (with a fantastic soundtrack). My own experience of the band skews a little technical/analytical, moreso as I’ve gotten older, but to be part of the experience along with the band is to offer (as they do) love and trust in a posture of faith – technical concerns are simultaneous, maybe, but quietly so. They inform rather than overgo the communion.

    (Or I’d like to think they can.)

  24. VTsnowboarder802 Says:

    the coolaid tastes nice and cool and refreshing

  25. c0wfunk Says:

    Wally, I find if I focus too much on technical music theory aspects of the show I lose a lot in the communication, as I get stuck in my head as opposed to feeling it down my whole body.. Sunday I caught myself stuck in the chord progession of ac/dc and completely missed much of what actually went down with IT at that moment. For me the time for analytical listening is at home, at the show is the time for openness and wonder. YMMV of course and everyone enjoys differently- I feel I miss something even when I grab the camera, or even the glass..

    “Until I have your full attention ill be anything but me”

    Oh yeah and that ice space is sick..technically speaking 😉

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