The OPhishal Welcome Back Party

6.6.09 (D.Vann)

6.6.09 (D.Vann)

Phish has finally arrived. If you were to form a setlist of the highlights of summer thus far and put them into one show, they wouldn’t surpass what happened last night at Camden.  Creating the massive show of dance grooves that we have all been waiting for, Phish played a show that was an assertive announcement of their return to prominence on the last night of their east coast run. In one of Trey’s favorite venues, and quasi-“hometown” show, Phish slaughtered two sets like they haven’t done in ages. The band is once again firing on all cylinders for the first time in over a decade, as every single person in the venue left wide-eyed and in awe of what they had just witnessed.  Everyone was tapped in last night, band and audience alike, and we all floated out of the venue after the show.  Phish has IT again; this is when things will start to get serious.

As soon as they took the post-“Fee” jam out into a tightly-woven, blissful excursion right off the bat, everyone knew things were on.  Phish went on to crush the whole set as the entire band continues to connect more and more each night, with each member just as active as every other. With a nasty “Wolfman’s” jam, Phish commenced the groove-based theme of the show that would finish as the antithesis of the night before. Playing the first “Guyute” since last time around, Phish ran through the composition with aggressive confidence and coherency; an incredible performance of the loved anthem.

6.6.09 (D.Vann)

6.6.09 (D.Vann)

Phish continued to bust out songs we haven’t heard this tour throughout the first set, including the subsequent triumvirate of “My Sweet One,” a dirty but tight “46 Days,” and the welcome 3.0 debut of “Lizards.”  While listening to “Lizards,” it felt like we were walking through a corridor, back into a world we once knew, but with five years behind us, that world wasn’t quite the same- it couldn’t be.  But it just might be better.  Everything about last night’s show points to the possibility that the future may yet hold Phish’s brightest days.

6.6.09 (D.Vann)

6.6.09 (D.Vann)

After a blistering version of “The Wedge,” one of the band’s ultimate summer favorites, Phish slowed it down the first “Strange Design” of this latter era.  The ballad felt more poignant during this third chapter of our Phish lives. Closing the set with the ridiculously adrenalizing- and witty- combination of “Tube” and “First Tube,” as Trey commented after “Tube,” “Well, we might as well play this one now.”  The crowd responded in a huge way to the bombastic one-two punch, with the set closer being a real set highlight as the band obliterated the rejuvenated and extended ending.  From the pit to the lawn, the crowd was buzzing at setbreak following one of the most exciting first stanzas of summer. The five hour bus drive down I-95 seemed to rev up the band’s engines as Camden slowly morphed into Phish’s first 3.0 wonderland- with the band swimming and surrounded in IT for the entire show. As the newly shortened set break passed, everyone clearly knew that it was on like Donkey Kong for set two.

6.6 (D.Vann)

6.6 (D.Vann)

We knew that it would be huge and we knew that it would be funky- but what would it be? When the band threw down “Sand” for only the second time since coming back in 2002, it sounded crisp and we knew we were in for a treat, but we didn’t know the half of it.  Over twenty minutes later, after some of the most sublime Phish dance music you’ll ever hear, we were left in awe of the peak Phish experience we had just had. I’m pretty sure- on instinct- that everyone in the venue felt the same way.  We had just lived the hugest dance jam of 3.0- “The Camden “Sand”- a dynamic of exploration of rhythm, and his time melody was part of the mix!  It wasn’t only Trey chopping funk and creating wildly distorted effects- he was also playing incredibly engaging lead lines for much of the jam, adding another element to the already fiery work of Mike, Fish and Page.   With melodic themes lacing the energetic grooves and the band’s creative energy fully back in effect, this jam really turned into something special.

Following the blistering set opener, Phish tore apart another dance jam with the upbeat funk of “Suzy” and then absolutely slaughtered “Limb By Limb” with a stunning “type I” rendition of the jam. A night where everything was a highlight, one of the most interesting was the debut of Mike’s “Sugar Shack.”  Featuring quirky changes and some very smooth grooves, the exciting new installation to Phish’s catalog also sees Trey sprouting composed carnival-esque melodies.  It’s good to see a new Mike song in the mix, and this one is a great one.

6.6.09 (D.Vann)

6.6.09 (D.Vann)

The next part of the evening was the most intriguing.  A disgustingly raging “Character Zero” was putting a cap on the best show since the comeback when upon the ending of the song, Trey ripped into the beginning of “Tweezer?!” “What?!” In the most startling moment of tour thus far, Phish ripped into their improvisational epic deep into set two, weaving one of the night’s huge highlights and placing the song as the second set closer for one of two times in history!  As the band dug into the improv, Trey picked up a lead that he took through the duration of the jam that was infectious as hell as the band created a sublime jam with a rendonkulous peak to put an exclamation point on the northeast leg, and the best show-of this summer by a mile.

Mix-and-matching their setlists, continuing an emerging pattern, Phish is keeping everyone on their toes these days, something exemplified by Camden’s four song encore.  When it felt like a classic “Bouncin,” “Reprise” was coming, the encore blossomed into something much greater.  Including the debut of “Joy,” another great new song, and a surprise “Antelope” into “Reprise,” the band ended the show with the ultimate bang.  While the northeast run had its amazing moments leading up to Camden, last night IT all came together in grand fashion.  Heading south, the warm weather awaits while Phish is, simultaneously, starting to bring some heat of their own.  As we step inside Asheville Civic Center, the sense of anticipation will be heightened, waiting to see what our musical acrobats will do next.  I can’t wait to find out!

I: Chalk Dust Torture, Fee, Wolfman’s Brother, Guyute, My Sweet One, 46 Days, The Lizards, The Wedge, Strange Design, Tube, First Tube

II: Sand, Suzy Greenberg, Limb By Limb, The Horse > Silent in the Morning, Sugar Shack*, Character Zero, Tweezer

E: Joy*, Bouncing Around the Room, Run Like An Antelope > Tweezer Reprise

* debut

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313 Responses to “The OPhishal Welcome Back Party”

  1. msbjivein Says:

    The Playing at GW was Flawless. Setlist was bizzare but nobody missed a note or beat Sat.

  2. Walfredo Says:

    Joy is definitely better then Let Me Lie- there definitely is that!

    If you are going to put a “set killer” into a show- I can’t think of a better placement then part of a 4-song encore that includes an Antelope…

  3. Mr. Completely Says:

    @msb I posted this late last night – current standings in the New Tune Derby, updated to include the most recent show:

    “Stealing Time is just a nose ahead of Ocelot rounding the first turn into the long straightaway – Backwards Down the Number Line looks even stronger than at his first race – Twenty Years Later seems to be running well out of the gate – Time Turns Elastic was slow off the line as usual but always finishes strong, so watch out, folks – Kill Devil Falls, Sugar Shack and Light are battling for inside position – Let Me Lie brings up the rear, just behind Joy – we’re all wondering when the rehabbed Undermind will make an entrance….”

    @tela – hear you on the flubs but I think overall the playing was fantastic on a number of tunes. The concise “pocket jams” Wolfman’s, 46 Days, a well played Wedge imo, both Tubes – I really liked Trey’s choppy attack on that version, and Page was hot – and a smoking, short Limb contrasted with nice extended jams in Sand and Tweezer…

  4. Mr. Completely Says:

    lol trey’s completely out of sync on this Antelope peak, but the band keeps speeding up to try to get back under him – nice try!

    “happen to have any Mike” lol

  5. Walfredo Says:

    I don’t think anything from Great Woods touches the Wolfman’s Brother, Tube, Wedge, Chalkdust, 46 Days etc… The first set was so hooked up. A little humor from Trey w/ the Fee lyric messup, the audience requests and playing both Tubes to be safe- bringing up Springsteen. It was a great energy.

    Trey did not play Lizards particularly well- Page was on fire. I don’t think anything so far this summer touches last night. It is right up there with Hampton Night 3 imho…

  6. Posterus Nutbagus Says:

    yes, lizards was as top-notch as it could have been, but honestly, i really don’t care. i would prefer perfectly executed shows, but if 95% of the show is as hot as camden was, i’ll overlook it.

  7. Albert Walker Says:

    ticketmaster news today

    thinking about goin to a paperless ticket model where you pick up tix at venue with credit card

    scalpers and resale sites are already mounting their defenses

    first artist is Miley Cyrus, but if it goes well it could be the model of the future

  8. Mr. Completely Says:

    @Albert – that’s interesting – the downside of that is incredibly long entry process at large shows. something needs to change though!

    Bottom line on Northeast leg – I think last 3 shows all were great in different ways. Great to have all this awesome new music to listen to…and a new Mos Def album taboot

  9. Albert Walker Says:

    bottleneck’s in line and your whole party needs to get their at once

    they will scan your credit card and print your tix there

    seems like something will be done

    when the Boss speaks people listen

  10. Posterus Nutbagus Says:

    i’ve never been a big fan of the paperless ticket idea. the tickets are non-transferable, meaning that if this system was in place for phish summer tour, i would not have had the opportunity to see any shows as all of my tickets came from trades and friends.

    there needs to be a way to transfer tickets. if i can’t go to a show would i be forced to eat the ticket instead of giving it to a friend? this is like cutting off your nose to spite your face. i wholeheartedly support cutting out scalpers, but there has to be a better way.

    and, as loathe as i am to say this, the scalpers have a point. if ticketmaster completely eliminates the secondary market that does give TM more control over tickets and further increases their monopolistic control over ticket sales. the problem here isn’t ticket scalping, per se. the problem is scalpers buying up tickets which artificially restricts supply from the get-go which forces up prices and makes tickets more and more valuable. if there was a way to prevent them from buying tickets to shows on the day of sale, that would go a long way, but i don’t think there is a way that can be done.

  11. Albert Walker Says:

    paperless or $1500 new years tix I’ll go paperless and take my chances

  12. Albert Walker Says:

    also if your friend got tix just go to the show with them
    it just makes sure that 1 of the 4 people getting 4 tix actually purchased the tix

    if you meet someone that wants to trade just go in with them not a big deal

  13. BrandonKayda Says:

    This Sand RIPPED.

    I’m on Suzy now. How are the new songs? (Joy, Sugar-shack?)

  14. Posterus Nutbagus Says:

    @alber walker what if your friend can’t make it? seriously, we need to think about this in more detailed terms. i really don’t think this system of non-transferable paperless tickets is a good idea.

  15. OlfactoryHugh Says:

    It is a big deal. Paperless is such a damn hassle but SO good for the market.

  16. Mr. Completely Says:

    @Brandon – you’re almost there – tell us what you think :o)

    or read previous pages for thoughts on them tunes

  17. BrandonKayda Says:

    I’m on Sugarshack right now, it’s decent I guess. I kind of like the bouncy melody to it but the vocals seem off.

  18. Walfredo Says:

    I think paperless makes sense for certain “event” type situations- Hampton, Red Rocks, New Years etc. For normal shows- it is way too much hassle. Paper tickets can be found around the lot for face, and online for 50% above face for most shows. Not exactly a crisis- its the 300-600% above face that these “event” shows bring that messes things up. If you bought tickets for this and couldn’t go- you would be a douche and deserve to eat the money.

  19. Mr. Completely Says:

    agreed Brandon – its a tricky one and they don’t quite have it nailed in this debut. I’ll need to hear a cleaner version before I can decide if it works for me or not.

  20. Walfredo Says:

    Brandon- I need to give it another listen. Not my favorite Mike tune. It is weird to me that his writing for Phish always tends to be less confident then his solo stuff… Bust out a Soulfood Man- that would be a smoking Phish tune…

    I need to listen to Sugarshack again- but I left a bit underwhelmed- and I typically am a big fan of Mike’s songwriting.

  21. Mr. Completely Says:

    interesting point Walfredo

  22. BrandonKayda Says:

    I expected it to be another bluegrass Mike tune – which I love.

    ….I still can’t believe I’m hearing Tweezer an hour into the set.

  23. Sundance48 Says:

    It’s really great to be able to follow the whole tour every day here from Berlin, Germany on this website. They are really getting better every day! I love the new songs: Ocelot and Backwards are already huge faves. Next Wednesday I am flying over to the states to see the Deer Creek and Alpine shows. Can’t wait to see and hear them in top shape…

  24. Fish Sauce Says:

    It seems to me that on SS, Mike’s vocals weren’t loud enough, and had a lot of reverb. Compared to Trey’s mic for the show.

  25. Walfredo Says:

    Mr. Completely- I should qualify that with lately- not always. I think- obviously some of his best songwriting has been with Phish- Simple, Mound, Mike’s Song etc etc- but recently- Mock Song, Access Me, Sugar Shack- seem awfully quirky probably too a fault. None of them (imho) would be some of the stronger songs on his solo discs…

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