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. bhizzle Says:

    midichlorines came down in the rain


  2. Doc Says:

    I predict a monster 2nd set

  3. Mr. Completely Says:

    audio chopping in and out on the stream – couldn’t tell if the transition from that jam to Twist was smooth or not

    why no abyss yet? you want the honest reason? because they’re clean and it’s harder to get there when you’re not high. your self keeps getting in the way.

    they’re having to reconstruct through technique a form of musical peak experience that they formerly accessed via the drug shortcut. the goods news? well, first is that it’s definitely do-able. and second is that when accessed the honest way it’s sustainable.

    The dirty secret no one likes to say is that many artists really actually do access a higher/deeper level of creativity FOR A LIMITED TIME when they start using the hard stuff. We’re not supposed to say that because it might encourage some youngster to get all smacked out but that’s the truth. The reason it’s not a good move despite the payoff is that the shit will fucking kill you, after wrecking your life and ruining your musical ability in front of everyone who ever cared about you.

    so that’s what I think is going on. they’re forced to do a particular kind of hard work they’ve never had to do – disciplined creativity – a neat trick.

    I believe they can do it.

  4. bhizzle Says:

    like butter

  5. Billy Breathes Says:

    Jer……wait….you’re not listening to the SBD, but rather the Audience copy?

    Whoa buddy!

    Apples and Oranges. Let me know when you get to the SBD.

  6. wothlesswampyfool Says:

    that stream site keeps crashing my cpu. GOD!!! WHY ME?!

    owell four days till my fun ! enjoy the show people. im gonna go drink this one off.

  7. bhizzle Says:


  8. SJC Says:

    oye como va…

  9. Mr. Completely Says:

    jocephus was too choppy, phishtube is better despite the rougher sound

    OYE COMO VA!!!

  10. Mr. Completely Says:


  11. Doc Says:

    Little Santana-esque for a second there…great Twist

  12. Jer Says:

    Mr. C: EXCELLENT perspective…and it makes perfect sense.

  13. hooks Says:

    word mr c… as far as all four of them, i’m thinkin “clean” relative to the past maybe, but clean nonetheless

  14. Doc Says:

    Man, full on Santana jam

  15. bhizzle Says:

    I’m thinking I’m paying for boards tomorrow

  16. hooks Says:

    undoubtedly trying to rock. and succeeding. and still reaching, which is cool

  17. bhizzle Says:

    I hope it rains every show I at


  18. Doc Says:

    Holy shit!

  19. hooks Says:

    somebody called the piper

  20. Billy Breathes Says:

    MrC….THANK YOU. 😉

  21. bhizzle Says:


  22. Jer Says:

    “Jer……wait….you’re not listening to the SBD, but rather the Audience copy?

    Whoa buddy!

    Apples and Oranges. Let me know when you get to the SBD.”

    I’m a poor 30 year old student…what can I say :-)…plus I doubt the soundboard will clean up that mess. I enjor auds just as much as soundboards…though this isn’t the best recording, the AKG split omni’s that have circulated for a few shows sound better than the soundboards…then again, I prefer the ‘sound’ of the room to the sterility of soundboard recordings more often than not.

  23. Mr. Completely Says:

    clean is relative certainly – trey had it the worst I guess, though I have avoided knowing the details. but he’s out front, and as the lead voice needs to have the most freedom, creatively speaking…I love the equality of voice this band has now but it’s still the lead guitar that takes it over the top so when the chips are down it’s up to The Trza – no pressure or anything, yo

  24. wothlesswampyfool Says:

    ahhh finnaly a piper! nice. now lets see a “saw it again” crazy psychedelia style

  25. bhizzle Says:

    how bout an izzabella

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