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. Rossi Says:

    Many thanks and much graitude for sharing this magic with us! These downloads helped soothe the pain of my absence. I’m glad to read other posts from people who realize just how lucky we are to have phish back in our lives again. Don’t critique to much… breathe… give thanks…. and realize when one of your friends returns from the grave you don’t critisize them for the shoes they’re wearing… you hug them.

  2. tyler Says:

    at one show I was behind this skinny asian dude who seemed to be standing completely still. he had this look of total bliss so I figured he was fine. It was the middle of the second set before I realized he was dancing *very slowly*, moving only the very base of his spine in little circles, sending tiny rippling waves of motion up his spinal column to the base of his skull. He was like a still point in a raging storm. It was some of the illest dancing I’ve ever seen and he was barely moving at all.

  3. karel barnoski Says:

    ha! that’s a crazy visual! that’s hilarious.

  4. tyler Says:

    I’ve tried to emulate it for over a decade and even when I fail (which is always) it gets me high as a kite off kundalini rushes

  5. dyda Says:

    i was just asking about the glowsticks, not trying to critique every other interactive element. lol about skippy. the total silence thing reminds me of the audiences at some floyd gigs (the live ummagumma disc) and how pissed roger waters got when people weren’t paying close enough attention or observing respectful silence during quiet passages.

  6. dyda Says:

    and yes, country sucks but mike turned me on to bluegrass (fish with yonder mountain anyone)

  7. karel barnoski Says:

    ah floyd. the only rival to the bliss i find in phish. waters is a bit rough, but i get his point in theory. i guess the ultimate music to me would be music so powerful that the audience cant help but be in silent awe! letting each and every note slowly crawl into the deepest dimension of your soul! noise is great, just as long as it doesn’t take away from the performance itself. how to judge when it does i am not sure. but getting whacked in the head with a glow stick every 10 secs qualifies to me!

  8. dyda Says:

    roger waters dark side tour at star lake was the best show i’ve ever seen and that’s saying a lot cause (for the n^th time) 7.29.03….

    what did you think of gilmour’s latest dvd at the albert hall?

  9. karel barnoski Says:

    i have not seen that DVD. i will have to check it out ASAP. i saw floyd in 1995 at yankee stadium. i love the division bell. floyd is the only band that i can listen to as much as phish. the cool thing about phish is now there are to be more chapters!

  10. dyda Says:

    tangent memory: i had to get a root canal the day after that waters show and it was still tops despite the enormous pain in my jaw

    also, i remember gilmour performed ‘on an island’ on leno with crosby & nash on april 20th. very nice.

    speaking of a different crosby, hope there aren’t any panthers fans cause we’re gonna finally overtake you in the standings tonight. go pens.

    i want to see the a capella ‘freebird’ this summer!

  11. dyda Says:

    pulse was in 94, but who’s keeping track. i think i was 9 at the time and my dad decided that i wouldn’t be able to handle the intensity of their sound system at three rivers… they play freaking ‘echoes’ on the gilmour dvd. worth the price right there.

    there was never any doubt in my mind that they’d be back after coventry

  12. karel barnoski Says:

    damn. i guess that means i am even older than i thought. echoes makes it worth the price for sure. his use of sustain is 2nd to none. if i had to choose between gilmour and trey i couldn’t.

    i actually thought phish was done for good. seemed to me trey had so many new things he wanted to explore. i am shocked at their renewed energy. they def dont seem like washed up versions of their past, like some other “reunions”. i am looking forward to some new songs…

  13. dyda Says:

    and i just listened to the twist from this weekend. wow. it is tits. mike & page rule this version.

  14. tyler Says:

    re: country – the only exceptions-that-prove-the-rule I know of are a few early 70s Willie Nelson albums (shotgun willie, red headed stranger, both awesome), the Johnny Cash American Recordings (which are more like folk music really), a few Marty Robbins tunes and assorted random exceptions like Dolly Parton’s original “I Will Always Love You” and “Tomorrow Is Forever.”

    I grew up on bluegrass though, the high lonesome sound never leaves your soul once you hear it.

  15. guyforget Says:

    dyda, i hesitate saying this, becaue i’m a NYR fan, but your pens have underacheived more this year than the rangers. that’s a task in itself. crosby needs to shut up and play. thinks his shit smells sweeter than most. OK, you’re allowed one hockey jab, then back to the primary purpose of this board 🙂

  16. dyda Says:

    trey for use of feedback and layering effects/loops.
    gilmour for being the absolute best at ‘less is more.’ it’s his tone. and bends. he can pretty much play a solo on one fret just bending the string.

  17. karel barnoski Says:

    dyda, i completely agree with you. but where does jimi fit in? i suppose he’s on another level altogether for starting this whole thing? 🙂

  18. full tour: announced! Says:

    i saw floyd in tampa in 94…. one of the most bad shows i’ve ever seen.

  19. full tour! Says:

    * bad ass

  20. dyda Says:

    hey we both had head coaches fired. and satan is in the minors now. how do you like having avery back?

    i’m not happy about the way this season went from december until therrien was fired (and i liked him). but we did have one of the best starts in franchise history and just completed our best road trip ever. there were so many injuries. i thought last season was bad, but yikes we were so banged up for a while there.

    as to crosby, that’s just youth. it’s like he expects the game to be called perfectly and evenly all the time and that’s just not realistic. his reaction will change with age when he comes to learn that the officials aren’t perfect, but i kinda get what you mean. he’s just passionate and it comes across as whining. but let me say: fuck ovechkin. that man has no class.

  21. voopa Says:

    An old friend of mine once told me about a Pink Floyd show he saw at The Fillmore…it was in quadraphonic sound, and everyone was lying on the floor…awesome!

  22. dyda Says:

    back to the music though. there was a time in the late 60s when gilmour, clapton, page, hendrix, beck and lennon all performed at the same festival. will have to go check my floyd companion to see if that’s actually true, but yeah.

    imagine what those gatherings were like cause all of those legends were/are friends back in the day before they had achieved their status.

    hendrix is in a category all to himself.

  23. dyda Says:

    i still want a copy of the 9.30.00 les claypool show cause trey sat in after phish’s gig at the mack and the second set was ‘animals’
    i think that was before they formed oysterhead too, but i may be wrong.

  24. karel barnoski Says:

    dyda,

    do you have 7.23.09 posted somewhere? no where i can get it? you have me interested.

  25. karel barnoski Says:

    i mean 7.29.03

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