Peaks and Valleys

6.2.09 Jones Beach (D.Vann)

6.2.09 Jones Beach (D.Vann)

In a somewhat discombobulated effort, Phish put forth a couple great jams in a show that was focused more on straight rock and roll and quite thin on improvisation.  In a fun show, but certainly the weakest of tour, Phish used a first set-heavy format to charm the Jones Beach audience Thursday night. As we have hit show number three, we have seen that Phish is still capable of the most divine improv- see “Tweezer” and “Hood”- yet is still warming up into full-scale touring mode.  Playing without setlists has led to great spontaneity, but has also led to a slew of awkward transitions- another square in the middle of the second set tonight between show highlights “Drowned” and “Meatstick.”  Nonetheless, the band featured a string of well-played songs we haven’t heard this tour in the first set, and a surreal “Ghost” to put together the night’s stronger frame.

"Drowned" 6.4.09 (

"Drowned" 6.4.09 (

The greatest improvisational moment of the night was easily the “Ghost” in the first set.  Moving from a strong and urgent funk groove into stunningly blissful textures, Phish crafted one of the young tour’s highlights.  Taking the jam where “Ghosts” seldom go, this jam moved outside the groove and into a quasi-ambient section, as the band unveiled an instant highlight that will be like smooth music to our ears for the rest of the summer.  Following the show’s standout jam, the band ended the first set with a succinct and ripping “Antelope,” ending the set with a bang while combining the two crowd favorites for the first time ever.

6.2.09 (D.Vann)

6.2.09 (D.Vann)

The second set opened with a whisper in “Water In the Sky” just as the rain was letting up for the night.  The quiet opener was followed by a ripping “Birds of a Feather” that featured some hearty grooves while remaining within the song’s structure.  Sticking with the upbeat rock vibe, Phish tore into another water-themed song with “Drowned”- the other standout piece of improv of the show.  Featuring a high-key guitar solo by Trey, who was shredding on point for most of the night, the jam moved out of straight rock into some deep raunchy textures that ended inexplicably as the band awkwardly stumbled into “Meatstick” with some clear miscommunication and dead air.  Once started however, the “Meatstick” was delightful as the band got into some deep, albeit brief, reggae-funk, evoking the feeling of “Fire on the Mountain.”  The set had a definite energy to it at this point, and the placement of “Time Turns Elastic” in the middle of a rock-based set caused the frame to fizzle, altering the energy of the show.  Though it was played quite well- the energy of the set definitely dropped off with the extended composition.  It worked at Fenway- it didn’t last night.  Trey definitely loves the song and because the band will be playing it a lot, they will need to consider placement of their “single,” as it takes up a long part of a live set with very little improvisation.

The tour’s second “YEM” in three shows featured some precise playing by Trey amidst some dirty Phish grooves, and pumped some momentum back into the set.  With each tour you’ll have your peaks and valleys, and the best part about a Phish show is that even in the valleys you find some diamonds.  Let’s stash away that “Ghost” for keeps and move on to tonight- see you at Jones Beach night three.

I: Grind, The Divided Sky, Ocelot, The Squirming Coil, Punch You in the Eye, Dirt, NICU, Ghost, Run Like An Antelope

II: Water In The Sky, Birds Of A Feather, Drowned, Meatstick, Time Turns Elastic, Waste, You Enjoy Myself

E: Rock and Roll

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557 Responses to “Peaks and Valleys”

  1. nonoyolker Says:

    Just got back to the hotel. Best show of the tour so far. Boys are really back! Need to dry off.

  2. snigglebeach Says:

    never been so wet and still had so much fun. the rain forced a high energy show all the way through.

    holy easy in and out of parking lot batman.

  3. old dude Says:

    Jesse Hurlburt rules.

  4. oldschool since 1990 Says:

    “they will need to consider placement of their “single,” as it takes up a long part of a live set with very little improvisation.” (re: Time Turns E.)

    It’s another classic “woked” composition, maybe the first since Guyute, and I think we can all be thankful for that. If every single Phish tune was
    a 20 minute “Ghost” type improv launching pad, things would be pretty boring, excpept for those folks on heavy amounts of what almost did in Trey.

  5. Rachel Molly Says:

    I haven’t seen much discussion about the 6/4 encore Rock and Roll, which I thought was simply genius.

    Who sang the lead vocals on that one?

  6. watzzi Says:

    surprised Mr Minor threw 6/4 in the valley category. This was my favorite between Fenway and the 3 JBs. I nearly exploded during the PYITE. I was into the whole second set and the TTE worked just fine for me. To each his own.

  7. shakedown_04092 Says:

    I disagree w/ you Miner – I thought the show was wonderful, and I thought the TTE placement was fine, unlike your comment of how it took energy out of the show. But alas, all opinions are welcome, which is why they’re just that – opinions. Out of the 4 shows I’ve seen (Phenway, the last 2 Jones Beach, and Great Woods), this was my 2nd favorite, with Phenway being first. I loved the first set. I was tickled by all the water/rain/beach/ocean/waves/dirt/etc. references they were tossing out – good for them to be aware of that – and it made a rain-soaked night a little more uplifting trying to guess all the other songs they might play that could tie into the evening’s weather. Looking forward to Darien Lake & SPAC @ the end of the tour. And, yes, the boys are back. Great to see! PS – too many song repeats on the first leg, imho. Or at least they didn’t spread out the repeats well enough.

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