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. Jer Says:

    “and the Antelope, while nothing over the top; was very tightly played….they took it over the speed limit for sure and hit all the changes, together, as 1.”

    Really?? I think we’ll agree to disagree here. I commend Trey for attempting new things for the sake of attempting new things, but sometimes it’s better to just leave well enough alone…and the peak of an Antelope jam is one of those places where I have no problem with them sticking the same thing they’ve done for 20 years. There are plenty of other places to experiment within a set…why fuck with one of the most seminal of Phish experiences?

  2. Billy Breathes Says:

    Jer….I think you are right….

    But where is their judgment then and who is calling the shots, individually and as a whole?

    I mean, for the most part, they’re really not even getting close.

  3. energywillout Says:

    Yeah, not the best Antelope by a long shot. Hampton was more on point. They were quite tentative all around leading into the climax, Fish kept wanting to pull the trigger….

  4. old dude Says:

    BB – yes, i think it’s conscious. i’m reminded of the quote in the NYT article around the reunion where they collectively longed for the phish of yesteryear – tight, intricate compositions, song-centric, etc. seems they are trying to pay homage to each song, instead of dropping into a disconnected type II at every opportunity. they’ll never play straight up speed jazz again, but will temper it with the funk, the ahm-biance, the cheese, and something else they haven’t even thought of yet. in an organic way. only then they will drop into the abyss in a perverted blend of aural orgasmicness.

  5. old dude Says:

    just hope they bring back some of the lighthearted comedy with it. i love cracking up at the early 90s insanity.

  6. BrandonKayda Says:

    I thought the Antelope was tight. I only heard the off-key whammy part right before he started ripping into the climax, it was short though

  7. Jer Says:

    “BB – yes, i think it’s conscious. i’m reminded of the quote in the NYT article around the reunion where they collectively longed for the phish of yesteryear – tight, intricate compositions, song-centric, etc. seems they are trying to pay homage to each song, instead of dropping into a disconnected type II at every opportunity.”

    For all of the bitching I am doing, I really am picking nits because the -song- playing is better than it’s been since 1998…and I’m really really really happy about this. Trey made it through the first Coil jam unscathed for the first time since I don’t know when last night…which was great.

  8. Billy Breathes Says:

    Jer….we’re in agreement….I’m not claiming they were locked in at 100MPH…..but surely they were doing 80.

    That’s all I’m sayin’….it surely wasn’t as bad as that HOOD. Ouch! 🙂

    It surely was at least part Antelope; maybe a little Boar too. 😉

  9. Billy Breathes Says:

    Jer…….AMEN on the Coil. They’re off to a good start indeed.

    But why no Abyss?

  10. Mr. Icculus Says:

    Word up guys are we going to get some live video feed tonight?

  11. Col4bin Says:

    is anyone catching any streams tonight, if so where?

  12. Billy Breathes Says:

    streaming the same place it has been since this Tour’s inception.

    no soup 4 u!

  13. Mr. Icculus Says:

    but i don’t condone this
    But i sure will watch it

  14. old dude Says:

    you’ll have to find that link through other, illegal, channels. nothing to see here!

  15. Doc Says:

  16. Col4bin Says:

    yea, nothing running right now though

  17. Doc Says:

    Not sure if this cat is there tonight…

  18. Billy Breathes Says:

    no soup 4 u!!!!

  19. Billy Breathes Says:

    pooring ran sideways now….50 degrees….parking lots are not close to being full….ampitheater rather empty!

  20. Doc Says:

    Rain, cold, traffic – still wish I was there!

  21. old dude Says:

    soup nazi, how do you come to this information?

  22. Billy Breathes Says:

    Aaaaaargh I’m a Pirate!!!

    Know a peep or two there.

  23. Billy Breathes Says:

    what time did show start last night? bueller?

  24. Doc Says:

    About this time.

  25. old dude Says:

    no ticket stub for you!!!

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