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.



5.31.09 Fenway (photo: Parker Harrington)


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

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510 Responses to “Reflecting on Fenway”

  1. ColonelJoy Says:

    I’ve listened to most of JB1 Set 1…..Timber is the highlight for me….creating that colored silence zone that I like….the new song is very good….but other than that, not exciting….the Reba is a 4 out of 10….Cities was a good effort…

  2. c0wfunk Says:

    “not exciting”? Phish plays 5 shows and already it’s not exciting? bah.

  3. notkuroda Says:

    no miner post today? My world is imploding…

  4. c0wfunk Says:

    sorry if that came out harsh – it’s early and I was up late with the phishes in the internets …

    Let me try to explain myself ->

    I started out as a total jam snob – I remember leaving shows in 1998 thinking more about what I didn’t hear than what I heard. I would be irritated if a set was more than 4 songs, cuz there wasn’t enough “jam” .. over the years I’ve really come to appreciate the craft of songwriting, and the musicianship and skills necessary to create, then execute a well written song.

    I truly believe a lot of phish’s demise (set aside drug addiction for a moment) was related to the psychic baggage on the boys from the weight of everyone in front of them trying to steer them in all directions. Trey is a hugely open / creative personality who wants to please everyone – he alluded to these feelings in the Charlie Rose interview a lot.

    So when I see people immediately jumping back into been on tour for 4 months, gotta see the headiest jam, and the biggest bustout mode, I get a little knee jerk irritated.

    So nothing personal to you colonel or anyone else out there – and I know I can be a sunshiner-pollyanna to an annoying degree – but seriously can we give them some time to enjoy these Great Songs they haven’t played in *5 years* before they have to go off and explore new realms? Trey has clearly fallen back in love with his catalog, and that can only be a good thing for us.

  5. notkuroda Says:

    I watched the second set stream last night, and I thought it was a “pumpin show”. I know a lot are frustrated out there. Me, I get more excited every show they play.

  6. Al Says:

    Check out these GREAT Fenway photos!!

  7. mr. icculus Says:

    will someone please post last nights full setlist

  8. c0wfunk Says:

    set 1
    * Runaway Jim
    * Foam
    * Stealing Time From The Faulty Plan^
    * Timber
    * Cities
    * Driver
    * Reba
    * Possum
    * Farmhouse
    * If I Could

    Set Two

    * Mike’s Song >
    * Simple >
    * Wolfman’s Brother >
    * Weekapaug Groove
    * When the Circus Comes
    * Kill Devil Falls^
    * Harry Hood >
    * Loving Cup


    * Suzy Greenburg

    Show Notes
    ^ first time played

  9. c0wfunk Says:

    oh … and the Hood goes Beyond btw – check it out!

  10. mr. icculus Says:

    Runaway Jim (8:06)
    Foam (9:05)
    Stealing Time From the Faulty Plan (5:37)
    Timber (6:57)
    Cities (8:58)
    Driver (3:40)
    Reba (14:59)
    Possum (8:36)
    Farmhouse (5:44)
    If I Could (8:06)

    Mike’s Song (7:56)
    Simple (9:32)
    Wolfman’s Brother (6:44)
    Weekapaug Groove (6:06)
    When the Circus Comes to Town (5:27)
    Kill Devil Falls (7:51)
    Harry Hood (17:19)
    Loving Cup (8:47)

    Suzy Greenberg (6:34)

    First Stealing Time From The Faulty Plan

    First Kill Devil Falls

    Order all three nights at Jones Beach and Save 10%

    These setlist look sick on paper, but not so sure about the jamming yet. but i know that will come just give it some time

  11. Matso Says:

    @ cowfunk –

    Totally agreed and no need to worry about pollyanna-ish behaviour. It really pains me that I am not going to see Phish this year (in all likelihood). Last night I couldn’t sleep because I keep thinking about the fact that the show was going to start soon and that people would be hanging out in the venue, listening to the pre-show music (I’m 5 hours ahead). So I don’t take lightly to any negative vibes either.

    I think everyone needs to constantly cast their minds back to:

    1) Phish 1.0 and Phish 2.0 and remember what Phish sets actually look and feel like in person as opposed to our very selective and skewed approach to recordings (I’m also a jam fiend, but everytime I happen to listen to a whole set with loads of smaller songs, I enjoy them immensely). Four song sets were rare even during their heyday (fall 97) and there are countless great shows where they didn’t drop a massive 30 minute jam.

    2) Being at a show and hearing a set unfold is what it’s all about, huge jams or not. I went to many shows which might not have been anything epic in the years that followed, but were so much fun at the time, that none of that mattered (eg. Vernon Downs – some decent playing, but nothing really special, but damn was that an awesome show to be at).

    Fenway Set II and both sets of JB1 look a bit like fantasy setlists to my eyes and I’m sure would have been amazing to experience in person. I don’t care how unsignificant the playing in a Jim > Foam opener is; the Jim > Foam opener in and of itself is significant and I would have had the best time of my life I’d been there to hear it.

    3) When we didn’t have Phish for 5 years, everyone promised to be grateful when they came back. Within 5 shows, those promises are weakening already. I say, unapologetically, “Put the criticism on the backburner, appreciate that these guys haven’t played together for a number of years and be grateful that they’re embarking on a substantial summer tour.” We can analyse the playing, but let’s always start from that point. If you feel the need to vent a more personal frustration, then take it to the Green Board. This space is meant to be positive, whether that’s blinkered and naive or not.

  12. hooks Says:

    @ cowfunk. i’d be interested in grabbing one of those papers… i believe i should be able to get somebody i know up there to hold one. i live in charlotte and have frequented asheville over time, but i’d sure prefer to just live there. not in the cards just yet… so thanks for the offer and the heads up on that. i can just hear the groans and remarks from the hipsters and non-phans up there haha….

  13. mr. icculus Says:

    Amen brother!!!!!!

  14. ColonelJoy Says:

    Listening to Buddy Rich’s Big Band lay down a sickening Norwegian Wood

    Hell, the boyz, back in town, are still figuring it all out. Trey, for one, is learning to play sober, to experience it sober. People’s expectations are definately skewed….It took 10 years of constant road work to get to fall 97’….it didn’t just happen….

    This doesn’t mean that folks can’t be critical. I said the Reba was a 4 out of 10….I’ll stick to that….Timber Ho, however, was quite good, and so too Cities….I’m not a Foam fan, and Jim rarely takes off, say like a Clifford Ball version….yeah, I know, living in the past…

  15. ColonelJoy Says:

    We are grateful, critical pricks like we always were:)

  16. mr. icculus Says:

    wake up and give us the scoop on the JB night 1!!!!!!!
    set list looks sick on paper
    9:00 simple???
    Short Wolfmans
    How was that HOOD

  17. ColonelJoy Says:

    I’m not sure, Icculus, how that set list looks sick? Looks like a set list….now that is sick!

  18. mr. icculus Says:


    Yea Colonel this istn’t sick your a f n retard than

  19. ColonelJoy Says:

    Icculus, other than cities, and maybe timber, those tunes were played roughly every four shows since Washington’s Army fought the redcoats. It’s a standard set list by any reasonable measure…..that doesn’t mean the show wasn’t sick….

    Actually, you missed the most remarkable part of the set list….If I Could set I closer……..

  20. ColonelJoy Says:

    A Wolfman’s sandwiched in a Mike’s groove is also interesting, but fails to elevate the set list to sick status

  21. mr. icculus Says:

    yea if i was at the show with my wife i probably would have enjoyed that ballad but when im raging with my boys i prefer a set closing chalk dust or character zero

  22. mr. icculus Says:

    The songs look great its the numbers by them that i don’t like

  23. c0wfunk Says:

    Col: now I need your definition of a “sick” srtlist

  24. ColonelJoy Says:

    Actually, Icc, I just listened to the If I Could, Trey’s solo was quite good, and the song had the necessary power at the end, but I think folks were surprised by it not being followed by the more standard closers, as you pointed out….they played three of them at Fenway, but not as closers anywhere…Cavern….Chalk…Character

  25. mr. icculus Says:

    yea ^^^^ i agree what is sick to you

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