Rarely do we get a day off to reflect after only one night of tour. Usually we get up and find our way to the next show with barely enough time to digest what had happened the night before. Yet, somehow, at the beginning of this summer’s new chapter of Phish, it seems completely appropriate. After a show of such magnitude in a setting unparalleled in grandeur, a day to thoroughly listen to the show a handful of times has given us a renewed sense that it is on for this summer! With new material peppering- and highlighting- the setlist, sharp playing of classic vehicles, and a true bustout in “Curtis Loew,” Fenway foreshadowed what will certainly be a monumental summer.
It is almost hard to fathom that we are actually on Phish tour again, and the frequency that amazing music will be coming at us on a nightly basis; paradise had been re-found. It is a truly awing feeling to be on the way to so many shows right now after such a peak experience on night one- and that’s what it’s all about. Hampton was like a destination wedding, and now we are fully emerged in the thick of things.
In a review that focused on the sublime second set last night, I didn’t mention Phish’s third debut of promise last night- “Ocelot.” Named after a wild cat (and sometimes exotic pet) indigenous to Central and South America, this new song has a playful lyrical path, moving wistfully through the beginning of the composition. The band gave us a small preview of the improv that will come from this song, placing it in the middle of the first set and not expounding on it for too long. Yet the succinct improv that did come from the song was quite promising – featuring slower, emotional playing from Trey and a laid-back groove that could really move to some interesting places. I wouldn’t be surprised to see the first big “Ocelot” open the second set of one of the upcoming Jones Beach shows- that’s often how it works.
The first set of Fenway, while solid all the way through, really took off in earnest with a smoking “Down With Disease”- the first high-energy jam of the night. The band and crowd seemed to reach their point of getting warmed-up simultaneously, as the jam represented the true kick off to summer tour. And to drop into “Destiny Unbound” directly after was masterful. With their course uncharted, one can’t help but wonder if this will be a new addition to the playbook this summer. With an infectious funk jam, one can only hope.
Something tells me we will continue to hear new material throughout the Jones Beach run, with more debuts added each night. The prospect of going into shows and hearing unheard songs makes the entire Phish experience all the more unknown and exciting, especially with the band’s impressive new songwriting. And then every time they drop a classic, it’s like being reintroduced to one of your best friends you haven’t seen in years. This tour is a once in a lifetime moment in the Phish world, and its prospects are simply endless. So, if you were questioning making that extra drive to that not-so-convenient show; do it- the time is near, the mission’s clear- you won’t regret it.
5.31.09 Fenway (photo: Parker Harrington)
5.31.09 “Down With Disease” Jam (video by Alexander K.)Tags: 2009, Summer '09