Musings On Our Muses

5.31.09 (mkdevo)

5.31.09 (mkdevo)

With another day of rest and relaxation, the Jones Beach show has gotten plenty of play on the tour iPod.  After much review, my initial assessment holds true; the many high points of the night- “Timber,” “Cities,” “Reba,” “If I Could,” and “Harry Hood”- were incredibly high, while much of the second set was characterized by high-energy, yet relatively low-risk playing… No one can argue with “Mike’s Song” ever- it is part of the dark side of Phish- but it would be great to see the band dig into some true improv in the song.  Post-’98, most “Mike’s” have fallen into the composed, guitar-solo jam structure, without a dive into the song’s deeper, exploratory second jam.  I’m all about snarling Trey licks and uncompressed evil Phish grooves, but here’s to hoping that “Mike’s” gets the full treatment sometime soon…Not to harp, but the transitions between “Mike’s,” “Simple,” “Wolfman’s” and “Weekapaug” were noticeably forced and awkward, showing that there are still some kinks to work out.  We have to remind ourselves that even though during some jams we are right back in the thick of things, it is still only the second show of a long summer.

5.31.09 (mkdevo)

5.31.09 (mkdevo)

But any thoughts of messy segues and composed jams were whole-heartedly erased by a paradigm-shifting “Harry Hood.”  Taken in a completely new direction- morphing into ambient bliss- Phish opened up a plethora of possibilities for future “Hoods,” while more importantly, announced loudly and clearly that they are completely comfortable taking massive musical risks, and playing like there is no tomorrow.  Incredibly exploratory, spiritual, and successful; it was as if the entire venue had a collective out-of-body experience during the jam- you could have heard a pin drop in there.  The jaw-dropping musical result showed that the adventure-taking, cliff-diving band we loved so dearly is again coming to stage nightly.

5.31.09 (mkdevo)

5.31.09 (mkdevo)

Setlists are so interesting at this point, featuring many new songs interspersed with colossal versions of their heavy-hitting classics- it makes for an incredibly dynamic show experience… After a few listens, I am sure that “Stealing Time From the Faulty Plan” is going to be huge.  With a sound that begs for psychedelic exploration, I can’t wait to hear it placed in the context of a second set… Another on the list of impressive debuts over the first two shows, Phish seems armed with songs aplenty, heightening anticipation for their July 29th album release… It could be the best one yet…I still can’t get enough of the Fenway “Tweezer > Light”- epic in every sense of the word- one of those timeless welcome to tour jams that we will be listening to for years to come.



6.3.09 - City Winery

6.3.09 - City Winery

Although the band took the night off, Mike celebrated his birthday with a public party at City Winery downtown in New York City last night, performing two sets of music with Billy Kreutzmann and Scott Murawski.  Consisting of mostly covers, the trio killed a quality show, improvising consistently as they ran through well-loved song after well-loved song.  Before this all went down, rumors spread throughout the New York City area last night of a potential stealth Phish show at the same location.  Yet when all was said and done, there was no Phish, but an intimate circle of fans that made their way downtown for a laid back night of music, food, and drink.  The setlist to Mike’s “Birthday Bash” is below- (Incomplete)

Gordeaux, Kreutzmann, Murawski – 6.3.09 City Winery, NYC

I. Doin’ My Time, Eyes of the World > Cumberland Blues…

II: Peggy O, Tore Up Over You, Come Together > Skin it Back, US Blues, Express Yourself, Quinn the Eskimo, ?

Tags: ,

525 Responses to “Musings On Our Muses”

  1. kevin are hollo Says:


    i don’t “have to have” something to dislike about phish. there’s plenty about them i don’t like, plenty about the community i don’t like, etc etc. what of it? i’m just pointing out what i think is a widely held opinion:

    super virtuosic dungeon and dragons guitar spaz does not a good pop musician make.

    i appreciate all that drek about wanting to write songs that reflect what’s going on inside, growing older, having families, maturing, etc. i overstand, i’m in the midst of it myself. but there’s a disconnect there, and i think it’s just how the brains work. i too am a spazz, and have a really hard time writing lyrics that are emotional without being sentimental and that don’t sound cheezy coming out of my mouth.

    there’s a simplicity to good pop music that’s hard to navigate and even hardrer to articulate. but being simple for phish is hard, and their best efforts (studio lifeboy, studio if i could, studio billy breathes) are still totally amazingly complex by most pop standards.

    the best pop music is usually made by artists growing up trying to write the best fucking RADIO HIT ever. if trey had spent 20 years going for that….well, i don’t think i’d be here writing this. 🙂

    but i’m glad he didn’t.

  2. kevin are hollo Says:

    agora = center

    margins = periphery

    in reference to greek social life, of the physical urban layout.

    phish wrote music for the margins but ended up in the agora.

  3. msbjivein Says:

    What will be the 1st repeat?? Where will it happen????

    TTE @ Jones beach Friday…………………………….What do you think???

  4. Jay Says:

    whoa. Database failure

  5. Mr. Completely Says:

    no, a bunch of us followed them out to the margins. :o) people in the middle of pop culture still find them laughable and/or incomprehensible.

    Agree that their attempts at “pop” music generally do not work. IMO it is simply because the melodies are forced and unnatural (in general). The great pop music composers all have the gift of creating simple, distinct and memorable melodies, and no one in Phish seems to have a natural talent for that.

    However there are also some Phish/solo songs which are more in the “classic rock” (as someone said) which is a distinctly different animal. e.g. 46 Days. It’s not in any of the typical Phish modes, but it’s not really a “poppy” song either. More hard rocking. Night Speaks To a Woman comes to mind as well.

    Your view on the perils of heartfelt songwriting are well stated. I agree for the most part. I like that he’s trying to express those things, but they’re better expressed through metaphor than statement.

    There are a few exceptions for me. Mostly in the ballad vein. I really like Anything But Me and All of These Dreams for example. Both rely on metaphor for the message and have natural, unforced melodies.

  6. Jay Says:

    My reference to classic is not necessarily music from the 60’s and 70’s either but in the academic vein “serving as a standard of excellence : of recognized value”. That is what I think Trey wants to achieve. Outside of TTE, all the new songs have that feel.

  7. Mr. Completely Says:

    @c0w – fwiw, I consider myself a very positive, glass half full person, but there is no artist or band in the history of music for whom I unreservedly like their whole catalog. Not Trane, my favorite artist in any medium or genre; not Miles either; and certainly not the Dead, my first and truest love.

    Agreed some people become nitpicky/critical as a way to be cool. It’s lame and super obvious. But I don’t really see that faux snobbery around here…

    Once you cross the line and become negatively critical about most or all things a band/artist does, it’s time to move on. That’s what I did with the Dead in late ’91. I found myself just bitching and throwing dark vibes. So I stopped going.

    I absofuckinglutely LOVE at least half of the totality of Phish’s music over the years, and at least like 90% of the rest. The percentages are lower for the solo stuff but still very positive overall.

  8. MP Says:

    Phish tour here. [taps his head] Phish tour here. [taps his heart] Phish tour never here. [points to the Dakotah’s] Understand?

  9. Mr. Completely Says:

    “Agreed some people become nitpicky/critical as a way to be cool. It’s lame and super obvious. But I don’t really see that faux snobbery around here…” <– btw its called “dirksen syndrome”

  10. SJC Says:

    Enjoy your evenings y’all. Here’s to hopin our iphone buddy comes through….

  11. R1 Says:

    kinda pissed that there’s a phish show in a couple hours that i won’t be seeing

  12. c0wfunk Says:

    Great points all around.. I can go overboard with my vibe patrol thing sometimes I realize. thing. I think maybe what I really disagree with is the idea that these are “just pop songs” we r talking about here. Still thoughtful works by a master musucian and song writer to me.

    And I guess I can admit that I don’t like walfredo..there I said it and it feels good.. But fish is playing guitar so there u go.

    And fwiw I love the entire beatles catalog too.

  13. Walfredo Says:

    I’m kind of pissed there is a Phish tour through the 21st of June I won’t be seeing any of…

    But I’m beyond stoked that they are coming out West to end July!!!

  14. Walfredo Says:

    Cowfunk- Walfredo = Best Phish Song Ever. And Fish plays bass- Gordo on guitar- 🙂 What’s not to like?

    The bass is bigger then Fishman… Good stufF!

  15. c0wfunk Says:

    Not you of course, walfredo.

  16. c0wfunk Says:

    Oh my bad .. I like my gordo on bass! And don’t get me started on those lyrics- absolute crap “not as cool as raul” wtf? Listen to me bein all mr negative

  17. Walfredo Says:

    No- I figured it wasn’t personal. Just always liked the song… It’s a little on the silly side- but has kind of a haunting melody that sticks with you…

    Now when I think back on you, Walfredo
    Those were times I’ll never forget
    The snow fell in Vail, Colorado
    When Fish played the vacuum and ruined your set

    back to Walfredo
    Leaning back on your stool
    Looking cool behind that paint splatter kit
    But not as cool as Raul

  18. old dude Says:

    “but being simple for phish is hard”

    not to mention they get a new one ripped for them by hypercritical fans if/when they try it (see: Bouncin, Sparkle). simple = catchy = boring = sell-out. it’s a lose-lose proposition for them.

    The Connection is a pop music masterpiece.

  19. old dude Says:

    c’mon, where’s The Connection hate? somebody prove my point for me.

  20. Billy Breathes Says:

    Go Phish!

    Couple hours now….

  21. c0wfunk Says:

    I think undermind is full of great catchy songs – 2 versions of me, army of one, even crowd control come to mind. I mean how are we defining pop here, because I sure didn’t see byrnes albom on the top 20. Pop songs as currently defined aren’t necessarily something to strive towards. Though I am a sucker for jason mrazs catchy little tune “I’m yours”

  22. RobAins Says:

    I’ve always liked Walfredo. It’s chock full of inside jokes that the band and not too many other people out there can say they were there for. I mean, I never think about it being played, or hope for it or anything. But whenever I hear it, it’s great.

  23. old dude Says:

    i wasted a whole day phishing. guess i should try to be productive for the next 1 hour 47 minutes 20 seconds.

  24. Mr. Completely Says:

    it’s all complicated by there being no single thing that’s “pop music” anymore. there’s hiphop/rap, dance music, teenybopper music, indie rock, country-pop, etc etc

    the most popular albums among hipsters so far this year is Animal Collective’s “Merriweather Post Pavilion” which is pretty fucking far from pop music, it’s weirder than 95%+ of Phish music for sure.

    @old dude, not sure the band gives a rats ass about hypercritical fans, ya know. They keep crankin’ out the attempts at catchy melody. and never forget what they did to the Timer Guy :o)

  25. c0wfunk Says:

    You know that was zzyzx right? I don’t think he has ever fully recovered from that.. Doesn’t like to talk about it really.

Leave a Reply