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. the foonshoe Says:

    Dan, you’re being ridiculous. It’s a concert. Go and have a good time. Are you going with friends?

  2. RobAins Says:

    Just BE YOURSELF! Don’t try too hard. Are you going with friends? I’m 31 and will be there and would be more than happy to pass you a joint. As long as you’re not annoying about it. I always found it helps to have joints of your own too. Spark it early and offer it up to those around you. Karma is real.

    You live in Jersey or Philly?

  3. kevin are hollo Says:

    since when do phish audiences need to be reminded to stand up?

    has it really gotten that bad?

    oh fox theatre, won’t you please be filled with dancing madmen?

  4. Dr SF Jones Says:

    @Plethora- Right on. Gym teachers have the best shit.

  5. Danny B Says:

    How could I forget. The Curtain, and Slave are coming tonight. Maybe even a little Harpua to ease us through the downpour!!!!! Eventhough that might be saved for Knoxville

  6. kevin are hollo Says:

    and i don’t think dan is being ridiculous, he’s being himself. it takes some gumption to come online (okay, not as much as in person) and say what’s been said.

    going to shows as a youngster IS kind of nerve wracking. navigating the strange and dark passages of the mind is bad enough in public. but having to do it amongst an older and let’s just say aloof crowd is even harder.

    i agree reaching out can be a good thing, but why does it have to be with herb? how about a handshake? why not bring a journal? i think seeing someone scribbling during a show is pretty thoughtful and mature, and heck, maybe shake some hands and meet your neighbors and you can take down names and addys to trade…..favorite blogs?

  7. Mulcahey Says:


    I hear you on the slowdown in set 2, but I watched set 1 on the stream and I swear at that point phish was playing the best they have all 09. Having been at hampton and heard 5/13 and streamed 6/2 and 6/4 I have to say my favorite set so far is 6/4 set 1. The flow was impeccable, the slowdowns were well placed, the crowd was into it and I could tell from the stream alone. The feed dropped out for set 2, so I missed it…. but I have to wonder… if the sets had been reversed would you consider this “worst of the year” so far? Think about it. TTE I think is definitely a set 1 song, its nice and all, but it doesn’t expand the way i like a phish song to expand. Ghost was a monster, best stuff I’ve heard from them in 09, and I can’t wait to check out the drowned.

    And good call on the transitions, hopefully they get a feel for one another again in the next few shows. See you in Asheville.

  8. Billy Breathes Says:

    Miner….your writing is taking a toll and IMO is not spot-on at all.

    Not even close, especially with this latest review.

    That’s okay…to each his own…that’s the beauty of America.


    Take a rest….it’s well deserved.

  9. DaNcInG fOoL Says:

    ^i thought this review was PERFECT and exactly how i felt about last night’s show

  10. DaNcInG fOoL Says:

    doesn’t sound like he’s trying to be himself, sounds more like he’s just trying to fit in with the crowd

  11. Al Says:

    @Mulcahey – what live stream are you guys talking about???

  12. msbjivein Says:

    Just listened to the divided Sky. Me Likey. Mike is doing some cool up and down the ladder bass riffs @ the begining. As well as Fish doing some really cool and different ghost notes before the pause. Sounded pretty freakin tight to me.

  13. Col4bin Says:

    Why does livephish feel the need to call the jam at the end of drowned Jones Beach Jam? In the same respect why didn’t they call the end of YEM Jones Beach Vocal Jam. And Danny B, yes there will be a Slave tonight!!

  14. DaNcInG fOoL Says:


  15. Woo Says:

    I don’t know about you guys, but if I’m at a show, I’m not passing a J to a kid that looks like he’s 14. Maybe that’s just me, maybe I’m getting old. I would recommend on having your own. Go and enjoy the show and have a good time with your friends, what more can you ask for?

  16. Woo Says:

    I thought the first set sounded awesome.

  17. Col4bin Says:

    Ghost, Antelope was just sick 🙂 Slave>Maze somewhere tonight.

  18. SJC Says:

    Miner, no spoilers sounds phenomenal.

  19. VTsnowboarder802 Says:

    Al, I hope you’re wrong on many of your predictions. However, you can have your list as long as sprach and maze are saved for GW.

    Of course now that I’ve said that, they’ll be “best versions” tonight. 😉

  20. BMG Says:

    They call it Jones Beach jam b/c they get paid for that track and they have to pay to play Drownded. More of their own tracks from the show, means more money in their pocket $$ issue which is why there would be no need to call the vocal jam at the end of the song anything but YEM.

  21. msbjivein Says:

    My Friend opener tonight……………

  22. R1 Says:

    @Col4bin – So as to avoid paying royalties on the entire jam. Royalties for live performances of copyrighted material are based on length of the performance.

    Haven’t listened to any of the show yet, but just cuz Miner thought it was short of stellar doesn’t mean his writing is “taking a toll.” He’s also writing these things the night of the show, so you shouldn’t be expecting lengthy masterpieces of musical dissection. They’re show reviews.

  23. sandstone Says:

    Good call on the lack of Meatstick dancing. Remember at Oswego when we tried to set a Guinness record for largest group dance to that tune (we didn’t make it)? Everyone in the crowd knew that dance (helped by Trey’s on-stage tutorial, of course).

    But that was ten years ago and Meatstick has fallen a bit in the Phish pantheon, so I’m not surprised that esprit de corps around the song was missing last night.

  24. Col4bin Says:

    So a “place city here jam” is reserved for covers? That would make sense.

  25. ma Says:

    not one single mention about WASTE….i watched the stream with wife in hand and it was flawless….

    big props for the two iphoners…. this may have been mentioned already, but were most watching both streams simulataneously like me…. the video from the streamer up close was great, the sound a little distorted ( but do-able )…the audio from the other streamer ( far away ) was perfect, but cut out for most of the show…did anyone else encounter this?

    asheville, knoxville bound !
    happy trails.

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