A Great Night At Great Woods

6.2.09 Great Woods (G.Lucas)

6.6.09 Great Woods (G.Lucas)

Building off of a fierce last night at Jones Beach, Phish wowed the New England crowd with a show that felt more evenly balanced between the sets and featured tight, focused playing from the entire band from note one until the last.  With a setlist comprised of a slew of songs we hadn’t yet heard this tour, a classic venue, and a fully-ripping band, it finally felt like tour was truly underway as Great Woods blew up on the first Saturday night of the Summer.

6.6.09 (G.Lucas)

6.6.09 (G.Lucas)

The first set had a completely fresh feel, featuring all but one song that hadn’t been played through Fenway and Jones Beach.  The set started off with some singles and built into some stretched out pieces with a dynamic “Jibboo,” a soaring “Taste,” and a regal “Caspian” featuring some gorgeous phrasing by the man in red.  “Taste” turned into the improvisational highlight of the first set, with a tight, soaring jam that saw again Trey playing searing leads to complement the band’s textured jamming.

If one thing has been proven over these first five shows it is that Trey is back on the scene; assertive, ripping, and leading jams, as opposed to his self-admittedly tentative playing over most of Hampton.  A huge energetic centerpiece of the first set was the 3.0 bust-out of “Golgi”- a crowd favorite that went unplayed over the reunion.  The welcome inclusion of “Nothing,” played far more tightly than in its two post hiatus appearances, showed us that Phish isn’t going to completely shy away from their post-hiatus material, and showed that we can expect to hear any song from any era at any time.  In that vein, Phish debuted their newest ballad, “Let Me Lie,” a poignant translation of the former TAB song that came across beautifully.

great-woods-june-6-09_4

6.6.09 (G. Lucas)

The energetic second set began with more post-hiatus material in an explosive guitar-led exploration of “Seven Below.”  Trey was on fire in what certainly developed into the jam of the show.  Moving beyond your standard “Seven Below” into some dirty and psychedelic playing, the improv didn’t quite make it outside of the song’s structure, but provided an exilhirating journey nonetheless.  Trey straight annihilated this jam, leaving a vibrant musical wake behind him.  Following the shred-fest came one of the most flawless “Fluffheads” we’ve heard in ages.  We’d have to go back more than a decade to find one this clean and triumphant, as each segment was played confidently and without hesitation, all ending with a massive peak.  As good of an opening to a set as you could ask for, Phish was firing on all cylinders on the first rainless night of summer tour.

6.2.09 (G.Lucas)

6.2.09 (G.Lucas)

The rest of the set featured some twang with a concise and precise “Scent of a Mule” and an exciting “Possum” whose jam moved beyond bluegrass and was reminiscent of pre-’97, more full-on psychedelic incarnations.  Featuring some focused interaction between Mike and Trey and a surprisingly danceable jam, this one had everyone out of their seat.  Sandwiched between the pieces of Phishgrass was the combination of a high-spirited and somewhat extended “Heavy Things” and another huge “Harry Hood.” With a tightly improvised jam that stretched beyond the confines of a normal “Hood,” it certainly seems that the band has recommitted to their classic, and I couldn’t be happier about the decision.

If you had told me before the show that I’d leave glowing after a second set that showcased “Scent of a Mule,” “Possum,” and “Julius,” I would have guffawed, as they happen to be at the bottom of a long list of songs that I would prefer to hear.  However on this night everything worked perfectly and even as the sense of an ominous “Bowie” closer was supplanted by a “Bug” that brought us one final colossal Trey solo of the night, the pieces all fell into place.  Leaving Great Woods things were full steam ahead for Camden, the end of summer’s first four-night run.  See you there!

I: Stealing Time From The Faulty Plan, Nothing, Back on the Train, Golgi Apparatus, Sparkle, Gotta Jiboo, Lawn Boy, Let Me Lie*, Makasupa Policeman, Prince Caspian

II: Seven Below, Fluffhead, Scent of a Mule, Heavy Things, Harry Hood, Possum, Bug

E: Contact, Julius

*debut

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173 Responses to “A Great Night At Great Woods”

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  1. Baxter Says:

    It was a great show in Mansfield, so glad I went. Scored a lawn ticket for $10 over face. I love Let me Lie and Bug and Caspian.

  2. Al Says:

    They nailed Fluffhead once again. I was afraid that they left it for good in Hampton. GREAT!

    Now, you guys going to Camden..IMO you’ll have a chance of over 50% getting these songs in your show:
    -Gumbo
    -Scents & subtle sounds
    -Llama
    -Maze
    -YEM
    -First Tube
    -Tube

    Have fun!!!

  3. Al Says:

    Can someone help putting up some Mp3 downloads of the summer tour on phishows.com.
    >People who can’t do Torrents are really lost!!!!

  4. MW Says:

    no spoilers gives you an option to use sendspace to download the shows. that’s what i have been using and i don’t think it requires any torrents.
    http://phishthoughts.com/nospoilers

  5. MW Says:

    ^mp3 link is at the bottom, enjoy.

  6. sumodie Says:

    well put, mr. miner. Strong playing throughout the night. Thanks to comments made here, I finally grasped the discussion about Trey’s tone. Cleaner, harder to maintain at times, overall I like it and enjoyed watching Trey work with it last night. Instead of dancing my ass off as is my usual way, I found myself watching and listening very closely last night. Quite often it seems the band is purposefully shying away from traditional points of playing within songs and looking for new pathways to explore, often very subtlety (I’ve been hearing this in other shows, eg., 2001 @ JB 3). I think these moments account for some of the so-called flubbed sections of songs (while at other times they are just flubs/rough playing, of which there were a few last night).

    The band is steamrolling past where they were at Hampton, all good signs as the tour rolls on. Trey was on fire last night, Page unleashed a killer solo in Contact, and yes, as Mr. Miner said, several of the standard hits sounded awesome and fresh (Julius, Golgi, Contact, Possum). And keep bringing on the new material.

    I have to add that the lot scene was very old school chill. I forgot how enjoyable the gw lot can be (and yes, I know security can be hard asses if you’re not careful). The old school scene can still be found in New England!

    Time to mentally prepare for the antithesis lot scene: Camden.
    Gotta finish packing so I can hit the road. Feels great to be going on tour (Camden>roo) for the first time in 5 years. thanks miner, thanks phish.

  7. IceNineBaby Says:

    A nice touch was the Mike-led solo in Lawn Boy which is
    usually reserved for Page or Trey.
    This was the best Fluffhead I’ve seen in 150+ shows since 1990. Never thought I’d be able to say that.

  8. Tadcaster Says:

    The crowd was insane last night, giving tons of energy from the first note. Nice job to all….

  9. jdub Says:

    I thoroughly enjoyed the entire experience last night. To get such a ripping Fluffhead was a real treat. The energy of the crowd was awesome, everyone seemed to be chill and on top of every note. The sleeper of this show was the BOTT. Perhaps better than 2/28/03 with some serious funk.

    What a treat to hear the boys so on and full of energy. Kuroda’s lights were dead on all second set as well.

    Looking forward to rest of summer

  10. HYHU Says:

    missed the show. dl.ing the no spoilers now, looking forward to it

  11. Bloom Says:

    We’ve come to expect great things at Great Woods, and while the show was played very very well, and the Fluffhead was triumphant, the show was very uninspiring. The Faulty Plan and Seven Below set openers and Caspian Bug set closers were good indications of the kind of show it was in general – compare that to set openers like Wilson and Down with Disease and set closers like Antelope and Slave at Jones Beach. The openers and closers set the tone, there’s no way around it. Lots of song choices that are good songs as downshifts or continuations of an energy building section of the show played as upshifts and climaxes instead. There was never a three or four song combo that got everyone frothing at the mouth. Golgi was a highlight in an early slot that really showcased it. The jams were purposeful and contained within the structure of the tunes – gbott, taste, 7 below, jibboo, hood, possum – all were cooked well, and according to recipe. Not a bad show, but a show that never really captured the imagination or pushed limits. The fact that they are in focus and nailing everything is a good sign for the summer tour in general, but with the exception of Fluffhead, if you missed out on Great Woods 09, you didn’t miss anything groundbreaking.

  12. henrietta Says:

    Miner, You forgot Taste in the first set setlist.

  13. jay Says:

    BOTT was freakin awesome!. Listening to Gogi. So pissed they did not save it for Asheville! 🙂

  14. jay Says:

    Right, Taste after Let Me Lie is missing.

  15. ? Says:

    Al, what’s your problem with torrents? This is really all you need, besides the torrent, obviously:

    http://download.utorrent.com/1.8.2/utorrent.exe

    Once you have this, all you need to do is use the program to open the torrent file. By default, it will ask you where to download the files and what files you want to download, though in this case, there will only be one per torrent. Oh, and don’t worry if it doesn’t go extremely fast at first – keep in mind that there’s only one person seeding the file to God only knows how many leechers at first. [Seeders are the people that you download off of, leechers are the people downloading in case you don’t know.] As more people complete the download, the torrent will continue to download faster and faster for you. If you need to know anything else, just leave another comment.

  16. Wax Banks Says:

    I would never have asked for last night’s show (Jibboo, Heavy Things, GBOTT, a lite first set? what the fuck?) but it was a great time, a strong mid-tour show. Nothing at all like Fenway, beautifully so.

    The big news of the night: the ‘Hood’ was stronger than the JB version overall, though without the full-on ambient breakdown in the middle. Trey dialed it up to 11 for this tune, playing those now-familiar fragmented clusters in his upper register and riding the rest of the band’s thick textures for several measures at a time. Page busted out that weird synth-horn sound he used in the Jones Beach ‘Hood’ (and the old ‘Seven Below’ written section) – good ol’ Harry doesn’t sound anything like he used to. Less delicate than 15 years ago, less precious, but less hurried too. Grown men’s idea of beauty instead of a bunch of twentysomethings’. ‘Hood’ was the big jam surprise of 2003, and on the other side of those sometimes interchangeable rock experiments (7/25/03 is up for Best Ever status, but doesn’t it sound a lot like everything else from 2003?) Phish have found a new musical logic, a new essence. It wasn’t the show’s highest-energy moment, but it was its most important.

    So.

    Page was on fire throughout the show – he got sloppy at the outset of the Mule Duel but rallied for a pulse-pounding (and very literally keyboard-pounding) finish. Fishman played his ass off, the best he’s played all tour. He plays like a pack of hungry dogs, just incredible. He’s the best technician in the band and if anything he’s playing more freely on this tour than he did in 2003-4.

    Best Mike of the tour as well. What can you say? He’s improved so much over the life of this band, in every way (technical, intuitive, even social!), and just keeps getting better show to show. I listened to The Green Sparrow yesterday while running errands and Trey’s Padawan learner is a Jedi now.

    And as for Trey…well, he’s their genius, isn’t he. And he earned that accolade last night. When he brought the boys around for another chorus of Julius it was like a personal valediction – lookee what this old man can do! Very Trey-heavy night.

    Best night of the tour for all four individuals. The ensemble playing was strong as well, shining in Seven Below, Hood, and GBOTT in particular (the most patient dance jam of the evening, with Page and Trey knee-deep in gnarly funk sounds). The big climactic jams touch off effortlessly but – here’s the necessary criticism – there’s nothing like the patient open-ended cosmos-spanning dance-rhythm Afrobeat-by-way-of-Burlington wanderings of the late 90’s, which are for many fans (I suspect) the canonical Phish jams.

    I imagine we won’t return to the cow/space/textural-funk sounds of 97-99, but I worry we’ve also lost the idea of a set-long improvisation studded with songs (11/22/97 feels this way, 5/7/94 of course, 4/5/98, 6/14/00, etc.) which was my favourite Phish story. 6/5/09 showed a tiny hint of that promise, but no tune in that second set is half as deep as an old-school Tweezer, you know? Even if that ‘Twist’ is a party unto itself.

    So that’s what’s missing, and (along with a workmanlike, lightweight first set) what keeps the Great Woods show from classic status. But the perfect is the enemy of the good, right?

    And last night was a goddamn good show.

  17. jay Says:

    Well put Wax. Perfection is the enemy of the goddamn good. Shame most seem to expect perfection every night and miss the good every night. Maybe they will drop out. Wish I was there last night to witness the good.
    I suspect the boys are focusing on honing their craft of early 90’s music interspersed with new material. I feel the cow funk and Phish 2.0 stuff will gradually make its way into the lineup.

  18. Jennifer Says:

    My only word is SICK. I thought it was an awesome show.

  19. Phrank Says:

    @ Wax Banks–

    great post! you did very well putting into words the ‘necessary criticism’ that we are all aware of. here’s the thing though…i wouldn’t worry. i think Phish wiped the slate clean and are beginning fresh, musically that is. that being said, their BIG IMPROV will develop organically and at it’s own pace…but it will develop for sure.

    anyway, thanks for the great post/review. i enjoyed it.

  20. Al Says:

    In the new era 3.0, Trey hasn’t once played this rockin’ segment before the drop into the Hood jam correctly. Please rehearse that bit – Trey, it’s off key.

  21. MW Says:

    mule duel = tribute to tetris turning 25 years old?

    http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/Mumbai/Tetris-turns-25/articleshow/4626063.cms

  22. jdub Says:

    Well put Wax, although I do think this is a precursor to one of those all out start to finish improv shows. it seem like they are fine tuning there sound, which they perfected last night. The next step is a 2 set story going to places we’ve never heard before.

    I actually really enjoyed them taking each song and thoroughly playing it through with concise, yet perfectly stretched, start, middle, and finishes. Even lawn boy was beautifully orchestrated with page and gordo on top or there game.

    Kudos to the crowd, the northeast phish scene showed its true colors last night.

  23. MP Says:

    Miner is right, this setlist betrays itself on paper. No matter what they played, 6/5 is a hard act to follow. I have been thinking about the possibility that the list from JB3 was written, Miner brought this up in yesterday’s post. Some of those transitions are so smooth, they seem prepared. Not a bad thing, by any means, just different from the Phish I am used to and an interesting question t ask.

    I am laughing at the idea of post-show interviews with the band, a la professional sports. “So Trey, during the ambient Hood Jam at Jones Beach it sounded like your B string went out of tune. How did you prepare for last night’s Hood to prevent that from happening again and were you happy with the results?”

  24. VTBowie89 Says:

    Well said, everyone….all excellent points….. I will say that last night Trey tore the roof off the sucka. Whenever he felt like it. And that bodes well for the rest of the tour, people….. And Jon “left foot never stops” Fishman was very involved….Haven’t seen any comments yet about Makisupa— Did anyone else get the irony there??? One of the best note-for-note shows I’ve seen since 2-28-03 in Nassau- in spite of the “slow” start…..Flying back to Hampton in a bit, and I’m beyond bummed I’m not going to be in Camden with y’all~~~

  25. jay Says:

    @MP, Sportscaster interview reference, Hilarious!

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