The Best Set Yet

6.4.09 Jones Beach (W.Rogell)

6.4.09 Jones Beach (W.Rogell)

As Phish took the stage amidst a rainstorm for their last set at Jones Beach, one could sense something big was coming- and it came.  Leave it to the nasty weather to bring out the best set of this tour, as the band finished their three-show run on Friday night amidst a steady downpour.  Stringing together a series of truly improvisational pieces for the first time this tour, Phish crushed their last set on Long Island.

6.4.09 (W.Rogell)

6.4.09 (W.Rogell)

As the band started with “Disease,” one of their favorite jam vehicles, that sense of some impending improv was confirmed as they tore apart the composed jam and briefly moved beyond it into a murky and patient segue into “Twist.”  It was great to see the band take their time and execute a successful transition after the last few shows that featured some less-than-graceful segues.  The “Twist” featured a smoking and ironic, full-fledged “Oye Como Va” jam.  After years of teasing Santana’s licks in a jam that whose beginning suggests “Oye Como Va” to begin with, it was a treat to see the band undertake the jam within “Twist.”  (“Oye Como Va” jams appeared in various songs in the early ’90s.)

Using the often paired “Twist” and “Piper,” Phish continued the highlight-strewn set with a jam that evoked memories of the song’s post-hiatus adventures in 2003.  Like years past, “Piper” was the springboard for some break-neck improv that saw Trey chopping up rhythm licks amidst a furious groove.  Featuring the most “type-II” improv the night, “Piper” took a path outwards, but was cut at a point where it seemed to be reaching its deepest.  Nonetheless, as “Piper” ended, the band broke into the tour’s first version of “Backwards Down the Number Line.”  Extending past Hampton’s debut, and reworked with a new verse, the feel-good song was good to hear again after its symbolic entrance into the Phish world back in march.  A short, but raging “Free” followed, fitting in well with the inclement weather and bombastic set.

6.4.09 (W.Rogell)

6.4.09 (W.Rogell)

The band debuted another likely track from their forthcoming album late in the second set- “Twenty Years Later.”  A song whose chorus sounds like a sort of Phish-indie rock, also featured a dark groove that evoked a definite feel of “I Saw It Again.”   With another promising addition to the Phish catalog, this album is shaping up to be quite a disc.

The most-vibrant highlight of night came last when the band capped the night with the sublime combination of “2001 > Slave.”  Busting into a all-out dance party in the rainstorm, Phish and nature once again came to a beautiful confluence as the thick space-funk merged with the elements perfectly.  As the band peaked the tour’s first “2001,” it was anyone’s guess what was coming next, but in the several possibilities that flew threw my mind in the few seconds, never did I consider “Slave”- the greatest possible choice.  As the rain beat down, Phish built a massively triumphant jam that seemed to peak continuously as the ideal end to an amazing night.  This was a truly beautiful rendition coupled with a one-of-a-kind experience, and the one-two combination will certainly make the end of tour highlight mix.

6.4.09 (W. Rogell)

6.4.09 (W. Rogell)

This set came across so well, and with virtually no pauses between, one wonders whether they wrote the setlist beforehand. Divergent from the long pauses of recent sets, the band seemed armed and ready to go with each subsequent jam.  There is definitely no problem with writing setlists- that is how Phish made their name- it had just seemed like they had thrown the idea out the window. But in the end- who knows?  The bottom line is that this set was the most exciting of tour and should be a springboard into New England on Saturday night.

1st set note: After a well-played, but jam-less, first set, Phish closed the frame with a raunchy “Split” that was both abstract and terrorizing.  A jam that was so out-there that is was almost hard to digest live, Phish created a monster to cap the first half.  Check this one out, as it will be filed alongside the other early-Summer ’09 highlights.  Travel safely up to Mansfield today and get ready for a show that looks to build off of the first four- and possibly bring another big “Tweezer.”

I: Wilson, Buried Alive, Kill Devil Falls, AC/DC Bag, I Didn’t Know, My Friend My Friend, Ya Mar, Theme From The Bottom, Boogie On Reggae Woman, Split Open and Melt

II: Down With Disease > Twist,  Piper > Backwards Down the Number Line, Free, Twenty Years Later, 2001 > Slave To The Traffic Light

E: A Day in the Life

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208 Responses to “The Best Set Yet”

  1. whole tour! Says:

    each show keeps getting better. tonight was the heat!

  2. whole tour! Says:

    every rendition of each song sounds fresh…energized

  3. Hunter Says:

    You have a point, Brandon. However, there’s a bit of filler in there too, and not the kind I typically like. Nothing, Sparkle, Gotta Jibboo, Heavy Things, Let Me Lie, and Seven Below are not personal favorites for me. But once again, if played with enthusiasm to an equally enthused crowd, it’s no big deal to me.

    On another note, last night’s Boogie On Reggae Woman is just plain nasty. I got to meet Mike once at a Duo show, and the kind, soft-spoken man who talked to me about bass rigs like we knew each other is simply not the same guy who is blasting me with funk fury right now.

  4. Col4bin Says:

    I was telling my friend yesterday afternoon I hope the play Boogie this summer, and he was all “I don’t really care for that, there are a lot of other covers I would rather hear.” I hope after last night he has changed his mind. 🙂

  5. EJ Says:

    I just heard BORW from night 3 (great stuff), and it reminds me of the Alpine jam from back in ’04.

  6. AintNoTele Says:

    So what was the code word during makisupa?

  7. whole tour! Says:

    woke up this morning, smoke a little herb, woke up in the afternoon

  8. whole tour! Says:

    damn taste sounds great

  9. AintNoTele Says:

    good man

  10. BrandonKayda Says:

    I don’t like those songs much either, but from what I heard on the stream, the jibboo, seven below and caspian rocked.

    let me lie is awful. heavy things and sparkle i dont mind

  11. Hunter Says:

    Now I do love me some Caspian. I love everything on Billy Breathes, but with a few exceptions, namely Taste and Theme, I feel like that album is such a self-contained masterpiece, the songs don’t come across quite as magically live. Seems a strange opinion to hold for Phish music, I know, but that’s how I feel. It’s all about the little things on that record. All the more reason I’m so excited about Lillywhite’s work on the new album.

    Can’t wait to give tonight’s Taste a good listen.

  12. whole tour! Says:

    it dosen’t matter what they choose to play because the quality playing has returned

  13. Hunter Says:

    Good point, whole tour. No more Vegas 04’s.

  14. kevin are hollo Says:

    pre-planned setlists == conscious effort by band to touch every album slowly while exercising/exorcising certain demons.

    so glad that golgi and makisupa got some love. oldies but goodies that never turn baddies.

    now let’s see some late second set makisupas, please very much, with 15 minute drum and bass breaks.

    as for gamehendge? if you think it’s being saved for anything other than the fox, well, sorry.

  15. whole tour! Says:

    i just got through set one on the soundboard, i was impressed. the soundboard is dropping bombs. i didn’t watch the stream, but set 2 looks like best set of tour. they are ferocious!

  16. whole tour! Says:

    this whole show was old school…only 2 ‘new’ songs

  17. kevin are hollo Says:

    hunter, i haven’t seen you around these parts before.

    i like the cut of your jib! very articulate.

    i feel the same way about several studio works, and have had this strange fascination with an analog copy of ‘lawnboy’ for a few months now.

    whoa shredzilla!

  18. whole tour! Says:

    they beyond gelled tonight

  19. whole tour! Says:

    tight tight fluff

  20. Mr. Completely Says:

    @Hunter – I totally hear what you’re saying about Billy Breathes – except I don’t like Caspian :o) there are things about it I like very much, but I can’t get past the lyric. Not a CS Lewis fan at all, and the “stumps instead of feet” line makes me cringe. But then, I like Gotta Jiboo, which has pretty much the dumbest lyric ever.

    Bottom line is that @wt! is right, and even the strikes now are “swing and a miss” strikes, I can see what they’re going for, I’m feeling the effort.

    They really are working their way through the catalog (old and new) in a very interesting way.

  21. BrandonKayda Says:

    wait, SBD’s…where?

  22. Hunter Says:

    Kevin, I’ve been reading this site for a few months now since Hampton. Only recently have I decided to join in the discussions. Very cool place!

  23. BrandonKayda Says:

    Now that I think of it, this show overrall seems very solid. I’ll have to listen to the SBD’s, but it sounds like tight playing all around. Good setlist taboot

    Lovin’ it – They’re getting better and better.

    Watch out Camden, they’re comin’ for ya!

  24. Hunter Says:

    Trey’s melodic playing in Makisupa is so good! Fewer notes + making them count = I make the Trey face.

  25. whole tour! Says:

    fluffhead only had a seven show gap! this version destroys hampton

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