Reflecting on Fenway

5.31.09 (Boston Herald)

5.31.09 (Boston Herald)

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.

Rainbow Over Chalk Dust (A.Bogart)

Rainbow Over "Chalk Dust" (A.Bogart)

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.

5.31.09 (P.Harrington)

5.31.09 (P.Harrington)

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.

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5.31.09 Fenway (photo: Parker Harrington)

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5.31.09 “Down With Disease” Jam (video by Alexander K.)

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510 Responses to “Reflecting on Fenway”

  1. hooks Says:

    no doubt, interesting. up for individual interpretation. love it

  2. c0wfunk Says:

    these silly bastards who tried to stream the other night got the stream working tonight but forgot to unmute:

    http://www.ustream.tv/recorded/1598100

    here’s the link for set 2, maybe it’ll work?

    http://www.ustream.tv/channel/phishtube

  3. gills Says:

    man that is aggravating it is working well with the visual too

  4. mmm hmm Says:

    I want to hear a Sloth>Ocelot

  5. fikus22 Says:

    an all animal set: sloth>ocelot>horse>antelope>birds>possum>Dogs stole things>McGrupp>lizards? llama>skippy the Wondermouse!

  6. gills Says:

    i want to hear anything>anything

  7. Doc Says:

    Looks like Mike’s Song for set II open.

  8. c0wfunk Says:

    mikes song opener .. its on

  9. gills Says:

    doesn’t kill you guys not being at every show when they r playing

  10. c0wfunk Says:

    stream appears to be working !

  11. gills Says:

    great work cow thanks

  12. wanderin Says:

    IT is ON!!!!!

  13. SJC Says:

    c0w, you rule.

  14. c0wfunk Says:

    when was the last non-flubbed simple?

  15. hooks Says:

    cant believe this stream! better than the other night even

  16. hooks Says:

    and thanks for the link c0wfunk i forgot what it was! crazy

  17. SJC Says:

    Noticed the big screens on either side of the stage, It’ll be interesting to see if they use these the entire summer for the outdoor sheds

    IT WAS MANY YEARS AGO NOW!!!

  18. c0wfunk Says:

    that guy laughing is awesome

  19. c0wfunk Says:

    uh oh so 2000 viewers is the limit ??

  20. hooks Says:

    i was watching will ferrell on man vs wild with my girlfriend, not anymore. dvr that shit. i can’t believe this actually somewhat works! so wild aaahhahahahaha

  21. c0wfunk Says:

    nice little ->paug there

  22. Mr. Completely Says:

    Ill first set. If I Could closer? Interesting!

    @c0wfunk – behind the scenes info is usually so ugly it’s better to not know it. I wish I could forget 99% of what I know about both Dead and Phish backstage stuff.

    As for the crowd energy bit – here’s how I see it. The band always starts it off of course. Then the crowd, if they’re feeling it, reflect that back at the band, which starts a feedback loop. It builds higher and higher, circling around in spirals, gaining energy. Any band that responds to its crowd (and has a good, responsive, attentive crowd) can and does do this. SCI does it, moe. does it for that matter – STS9 – good jazz groups – this is the basic vibe.

    But almost everyone has a ceiling. At some point rather than continuing to spiral upwards it turns into just circling. That’s where SCI always left me. Sometimes pretty high – but circling.

    But Trey has the ability to bring the whole thing into focus and send it into heavy overdrive. There’s a certain point at which it’s not really 50/50 anymore – we need the Jedi Force powers to take it over the top. Jerry had that power. Steve Kimock has that power approximately 5-10% of the time – it’s incredibly frustrating. Phil has it to a degree but is limited in action by his instrument (and recent bandmates).

    And that’s the whole list that I know of.

    Another way to look at it is light. Getting reflected back and forth between mirrors, brightening with each reflection. But those few people have the ability to take that light and tune it into a laser beam. So it’s the difference between a very bright light and a laser.

  23. hooks Says:

    from what i can tell, they’re playing a cut above, really puttin it out, oop there went the stream… mike wants himself a piece. stream’s back

  24. hooks Says:

    the circus is coming to town! phinally!!!

  25. c0wfunk Says:

    mr. c thats cogent & astute and I concur
    🙂

    I also really love this damn circus song .. always been a favorite for some reason. The melody really just is great and trey plays with so much feeling.

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