Defining New Ground

6.2.09 (W.Rogell)

6.2.09 (W.Rogell)

In a strong follow up to Fenway’s opener, Phish used a large chunk of high energy shredding and some truly sublime improv to thrill the New York Metro Area crowd on Long Island last night.  In a show that boasted two solid sets from start to finish, while playing for hours, Phish shattered new territory within the course of a single jam in the second set.

6.2.09 (W.Rogell)

6.2.09 (W.Rogell)

After shredding apart a precise- yet safe- second set, Phish leapt off the diving board of the universe into music’s primordial soup.  Within the course of one “Harry Hood,” Phish redefined what is possible within a live music experience, creating a jaw-hanging, ambient introspective journey.  Using one of their most hallowed pieces, Phish forged into the future with other-worldly improv that left everyone at the concert buzzing and in awe.  Fans of all ages and from all walks of life recognized that something special had happened- and it was good.  It was bigger than music, bigger than Phish- bigger than us.  Tapped into the source, Phish delicately crafted one the most stunning pieces of improvisation we have heard- maybe ever.  Following ambient hints at the beginning of the jam, Phish launched into a full-scale ambient-space exploration of their most sacred piece.  In the course of twenty-plus minutes, Phish redefined why they are my favorite band, and reaffirmed the fact that there are no other four human beings on the planet capable of channeling the power and energy of life like the Phish from Vermont.  I’ll let the band take it from here.

6.2.09 Jones Beach (W.Rogell)

6.2.09 (W.Rogell)

Despite perhaps the deepest “Hood” ever played (yes- including all those ’94-’95 epics and post-hiatus adventures), the first set carried more overall weight than the second.  As Phish started the night on the beach with the early-‘90’s classic combo of “Jim,” “Foam,” the show had the feeling of something special right from the start.  Batting third was one of the most intriguing debuts that we have heard so far, “Stealing Time From the Faulty Plan.”  Hearkening echoes of the barely-played “A Song I Heard the Ocean Sing,” Phish’s newest addition seems to be set for the heart of the beast.  Merely introducing the template and hinting where the song could go, the band’s dark, dripping improv left imaginations drooling over future versions.  The lyrical path, with the refrain, “I got a blank space where my mind should be,” adds some intrigue to a song that will be create more than a few adventures this summer.

6.2.09 (W.Rogell)

6.2.09 (W.Rogell)

But the true highlights of the first set were yet to come.  With the combination of a sinister “Timber Ho!” and a tar-thick “Cities,” the band threw down a smoking chunk of improv in the middle of the first set.  And following the interlude of “Driver,” they were back at it again, dropping Summer ‘09’s first “Reba.”  Following a distinctly clean composed section, Phish launched into one of their most intricate versions in recent memory.  Taking the jam for a dynamic ride, Phish didn’t stick with groove, bringing the jam down to near silent points, only to bounce back into one of the most spine-tingling guitar peaks the song has ever seen.  This was not your father’s Oldsmobile- Phish is playing differently than we have heard in a long time- with such care and patience to their focused improv.  The old adage, “You can accomplish anything if you set your mind to it,” has never seemed more applicable.


6.2.09 (W.Rogell)

The set ended with one of the most emotional moments of the night, as Phish unveiled “If I Could” for the first time in nine years- since PNC 2000- where it also ended the first set.  Yet this time it was different.  Without ever hitting a “groove,” and without Trey ever hitting a knee-buckling solo, the band created a musically gentle- yet emotionally walloping- version of the the ballad that everyone’s been waiting years to hear.  It was worth the wait.  Ending the set without ever returning to the song’s chorus, the music spoke for itself in one of the night’s shining moments.

With a show that only left us counting the hours until Thursday, and wondering what song may bring us face to face with our maker then, Phish showed us why this is all happening.  Breaking musical ground and inventing new ways melt us into nothing, Phish is on tour again, and we are lucky to be along for the ride.

I: Runaway Jim, Foam, Stealing Time From the Faulty Plan*, Timber Ho!, Cities, Driver, Reba, Farmhouse, Possum, If I Could

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

E: Suzy Greenberg
* First Time Played



6.2.09 (W.Rogell)

6.2.09 (W.Rogell)

Many apologies for the delay with “No Spoilers” last night.  With a shoddy web connection, I wasn’t able to seed the torrents when I got back to where I was staying, and Alexander K. went above and beyond the call of duty to make sure our project lived on. Driving over 30 miles to the nearest reliable internet source in the middle of the night, AK-47 made it happen! We will make every effort to have a reliable upload terminal on lock-down from here on out.  Thanks for your patience .

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442 Responses to “Defining New Ground”

  1. Jer Says:

    “@Jer, In a way your exactly right. Because it’s a different experience when your there.”

    Heh, I guess sometimes sarcasm doesn’t come across very effectively in text form ;-). While attending a show does add additional variables to the mix (some good some bad), IMO, music is meant to be heard not seen…so I think a listener (after the fact) can provide an objective opinion of the -music-, moreso than someone who only experienced said music in concert. So, yea, I pretty much completely disagree with you :-).

  2. slave2traffic Says:

    @gho2it: “Anyone ever track down a PDF of the Relix article? I haven’t found a copy and worry that the next issue will be out before long.”

    ^^ I’ve got a copy – hit me up at froselli at yahoo and I can send you pdf or something

  3. Mitch Says:

    Mr. C,
    Personally I’m a SBD whore. Yes, sometimes I’d like more crowd and atmosphere (the hampton boards really worked with that) but I just prefer it. I went in with friends and we all chipped in to get the whole tour in SBD and that way it was cheap. Plus downloading 4 versions that all take forever isnt my bag to just save the best later. Also LP now is uploaded within an hour (I think thats why the mixes are sucking) and the whole show finishes in like 5 mins.

  4. Selector J Says:

    Hey c0wfunk, my wife, who goes by Rini on JGz, has met you and your wife through the PBs a while back. Pretty cool.

  5. msbjivein Says:

    @Completely, That Hood is one of my top Jams of ’09 also. As for listening back to shows. this is one of the best parts of being a head. my last two days at work have flew by listening to Phen(Was At) and Jones Beach(didn’t make). But After listening to Phen it confirmed the experience I had there. Some of the songs were actually way better than i first realized. Moma and Destiny both sounded much better once I listened back. I’m sure the sound issues had something to do w/ that.

  6. Selector J Says:

    You’re welcome, Mr. Completely.

  7. Mr. Completely Says:

    The notes that are played are only the tip of the iceberg at a Phish show.

    It may be easier to come up with an objective opinion after the fact concerning the “quality” of those notes. And that’s a valid thing.

    But it says nothing about the meaning of those notes in the context of the moment. And that is eleventy-seventeen-bazillion more important to me, on those nights I am lucky enough to be there.

    I cite again the Hoods played at the Gorge. Objectively there’s nothing to recommend them at the highest level. But in the context of the shows, those moments in time, they were epically spectacular, life-changing moments for more than a few people in attendance.

  8. Jack O Roses Says:

    Our masked iphone-streamer is getting press:

    Starting at 7:30pm, the Jones Beach show marked an unprecedented convergence between social media and live music. By doing a search for the term “Phish” on twitter, and real time sites such as, one could follow live tweets being made from fans inside the show on their mobile devices, many which were detailing the set list up to the minute as the first notes of the songs were being played.

    As the show progressed, users both at the show and at home tweeted back and forth commenting on the songs and the show highlights. When “Mikes Song” (a fan favorite) opened the second set, tweets flooded in. When “Harry Hood” reached it’s climax (and unarguably the shows climax), the posts quieted down, most likely because users were too busy listening to/watching the show reach epic proportions.

    Taking this online/offline convergence to another level, a fan only known as Jason took a shot at streaming the show live from his iPhone through phishtube, hosted by, a free live streaming service. After a few technical issues in the beginning, the stream had a decent image of the stage, accompanied by better-than-decent sound. The number of people streaming last night’s show reached almost 3,500 people – Jones Beach’s capacity is 15,000. On ustream/phishtube you were able to watch a video of the show while reading the live twitter feeds, simultaneously side by side.


  9. soulish Says:

    @Corey, your comment about floopy discs reminded me of a short story I read yesterday on a blog of non-sequitor stories:

    “My biggest fear is that in the future, computer files will be so big that the only place we can store them is in our brain, and the only way to transfer them is through kissing. Sure, it sounds like fun running around on hover-boards kissing sexy space women to give them the latest Sum 41 EP, but what about when I’ve got to give Dave in Accounts my Powerpoint presentation for the big board meeting on Friday?

    Adam, Crewe.”

  10. CJ Says:

    I attended this show and loved it. Good vibes from the crowd, beautiful scenery, and intense music. Loved the show. Probably not the best of the 5 they’ve played so far, but definitely some of the best highlights of this young tour.

    As others have said, this was a very Trey-heavy show. He sang almost every song, and had the majority of the solos. I would have liked to hear more from Page, but Trey’s playing was great for the most part. With 2 more nights at Jones Beach I have no doubt Page will have his chances to shine 🙂

    As for Hood….wow! Who knew a small little sentence from Miner could spark such intense emotional reactions? Yipes, lighten up. Was this the best Hood ever? No. Was it awesome? Absolutely. They took it into space to the point where I thought they might leave it unfinished and just go into 2001. The spaciness and ambiance was just awesome (I can never get enough of that style of Phishyness) but the build back into normal Hood territory was sloppy, and the song never quite peaked like we know it can. Still, awesome awesome stuff. They are really getting playful with the opening section too, which I love.

    Both new songs were great, too. Stealing Time had some nice bluesy licks from Trey and good lyrics. The jam reminded me a but of Chalkdust. Kill Devil Falls was maybe the best new song they’ve played yet. Just rockin’ from start to finish. Loved it. My only real complaint about the new stuff we’ve heard is that they sometimes feel like Trey solo songs. His solo’s have been solid (and is it just me or does Trey’s voice sound great?) but I’d love to hear another band member on vocals for a new song. But we’ve only heard a few of the new songs, so there’s still plenty of room 🙂

    Overall just a great show. It’s a shame that so many Phish fans have become so obsessed with “defining” themselves. Haters, noobs, people who think the band can do no wrong… we’re all Phish fans aren’t we? If someone loves absolutely everything they hear from this band, what’s wrong with that? Why bring them down? And if someone is critical, aren’t they allowed to be? There are different ways to listen to this band, so why does one way have to be “better” than another? We’re Phish fans guys. We’re all in this together! 😀

  11. Mr. Completely Says:

    @Mitch – whatever works for you – and if you are splitting the cost among friends that makes total sense

    I think Trey’s guitar actually went out of tune at the end of Hood. So he clipped the peak jam and they added Lovin’ Cup to close the show right. Plenty of time for a quick tune during the piano intro. Just a guess.

  12. Corey Says:

    @whole tour,

    Yeah, if we’re seeing tickets for this show sell as cheap as $17!! then why not play up a guest spot?!

    So here’s my toss:

    Chris Thile, on the mandolin.
    Perhaps Mike Marshall could join for a bass duel.
    Seriously, if any or all three joined in, it’d be wonderful.

    Are any aware of the bass extravaganza nearby with Stanley Clarke, Victor Wooten and Marcus Miller? That’s at the Carolina Theatre in Durham on 6/8.

    What about Blueground Undergrass
    Col. Bruce & The Quark Alliance at the Pisgah Brewery inBlack Mountain on 6/8?

    Any thoughts, info? I’m curious.

  13. gus Says:

    yeah!!!!! I’m seeing Victor, Marcus, and Stanley at the House of Blues next thursday! Oh man i am so excited. that is going to be one hell of a show!

  14. snigglebeach Says:

    can someone clue me in on the difference (if there is 1) between
    Timber (ho) and Timber Jerry.

  15. msbjivein Says:

    @Jer, I thought you might have been disagreeing w/ me but I didn’t want to jump the gun on that. In a way your right music is meant to listen to not see. But the “experience” (this is my original point) is only had at the show. There’s no way you can have that “experience” by listening back to the show next day or that night. What happens while your in attendence at a Phish show only happens there at the venue. The “IT” factor does not come across on tape. I originally said that the opinion of someone not at the show should be thrown out. I realize that’s wrong. But I don’t see how you can disagree w/ the “experience” point I’m trying to make. Maybe I’m miss understood.(I’m not the greatest w/ words)

  16. Mr. Completely Says:

    Timber Jerry is what the song is supposedly really called. But it is an incredibly lame name for a song, so most people call it Timber Ho. Last night online the band was calling it “Timber” which is fine too.

  17. Jer Says:

    “can someone clue me in on the difference (if there is 1) between
    Timber (ho) and Timber Jerry.”

    And what to do about Timber (Jerry)?? They are the same song, though I think Timber (Jerry) is the ‘official’ title of the song.

  18. Jay Says:

    Reba composed part was slightly sloppy but the jam was spectacular. Also, gotta love the whistling. Have not heard them whistle in like 15 years.

  19. Jer Says:

    correction, the full title is actually Timber (Jerry the Mule)…by Josh White

  20. Wilson Says:

    Was at Phenway, and listened to the sbd’s of JB late last night (im back on the west coast). I notice about three things happening with our band right now, though I can’t quite work out to which degree each is a factor:
    1: They are taking a decidedly patient approach to things. No rush to make it perfect, and i think that’s healthy.
    2: They are consciously trying to jam in (some kind) of a new way. Not really sure what the strategy here is, and maybe they’re not either, but they’re up to something. Some songs seem to almost qualify as reworked. Example: tell me you’ve heard Timber played like that before.
    3: Moments where they show a real lack of control over things they used to be able to do in their sleep. Plenty of songs so far where one member (or more) is just filling space because they don’t know/remember exactly what it is they’re supposed to be doing. Trey & Fish seem like the main offenders here. At moments, the guitar is REALLY grasping, and Fishman is just keeping time.

    I think all of these things were bound to happen, and I personally think it’s going to take a while to get them all resolved. I don’t think they hit a real stride till the second part of summer tour. What they do is harder than it looks. Getting Phish 3.0 to undeniably TOP QUALITY is going to take time, my friends.

  21. msbjivein Says:

    @Sniggle, I pretty freakin sure they’re the same song. Jerry being the name of the Mule. That’s what I’ve always thought. Timber Ho and Timber (Jerry) are the same.

  22. Jay Says:

    possum guitar work in the beginning is sweet. very ol timey pickin

  23. R1 Says:

    Saw the Fen and last night. Some thoughts:

    Jones Beach is a great venue. So easy to get into lot, free parking so close to the venue, pretty mellow scene, although heavy police presence. Venue is beautiful and great views from everywhere (I don’t know about the upper deck, never been there). Very intimate feel. MUCH better crowd than Fenway. People actually listening to the music. Perhaps not selling beer in venue IS a good thing folks? Seemed like security wasn’t doing anything and didn’t seem to care about anything.

    Some really great moments last night. I loved the Timber, Cities and Mike’s. Wish the Mike’s had continued longer. And the Hood was beautiful, if less than triumphant. Trey was producing some new, menacing and growling tones which I loved and Mike has been so awesomely LOUD and in your face.

    Some not so great moments as well. Lots of struggles. Lots of Trey wailing without much total band playing. Some definite sound issues, harmony failures, sour notes, etc. Oh, and people keep saying that nobody is criticizing the new songs, well here you go: I REALLY didn’t like Kill Devil Falls.

    But yes, overall a good show and I had a great fucking time! It really has been fun to be back out there, seeing friends, standing outside under a beautiful sky listening some fantastic music.

  24. Mr.Miner Says:

    pretty sick Hood, huh?

  25. msbjivein Says:

    @Jay, you hear Page on possum?? Using the B-3 organ. Sounds killer.

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