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:

    As a musician I would say you need both ear and eye contact. But if i had to choose i’d say ear contact. Think Stevie Wonder. Boy Genius.

  2. Marshall Says:

    I was thinking Stevie Wonder and Ray Charles (just didn’t write it). I’m just thinking of how many times I’ve seen Trey, Mike, and Paige playing “eyes closed”.

  3. Mr. Completely Says:

    i just skipped up to that bit – I haven’t heard that before, sounds like improv to me, great job by the band jumping on boad

  4. guyforget Says:

    Jesus christ. I’m in flagstaff az doing some hiking and just read the setlist and miners thoughts on last night. No internet access but blackberry but can’t wait to hear this insanity when I get home tonight. Good to see the boys continue tearing the room off the ghetto. Fox in 8 days baby.

  5. PB Says:

    I know that I must keep my eyes closed just so that I can focus on the music and the direction of the ears would be most important.

  6. El Duderino Says:

    Trey looks so wigged on that Kid/Trey pic. It’s almost scary, but when you stay up for 10 days I guess I would look like that

  7. Mr. Completely Says:

    eye contact makes amazing things possible though. for years I’ve listened to early 70s Miles Davis stuff and wondered “how the fuck do they do these crazy changes all together” – but now I have seen a few videos from that era and I know how they do it – eye contact and hand signals from Miles.

  8. DaNcInG fOoL Says:

    completely, any good examples of the miles eye contact on youtube?

  9. Marshall Says:

    So, what songs are still in the “on deck circle?” that could be resurrected in Asheville? Llama, Axilla, Esther, Mound, Waves, P&M, Roggae, Dear Mrs. Reagan (joking of course)?

  10. Mr. Completely Says:

    f0ol I don’t know a exact example online to point to, but if you find the Isle of Wight ’70 stuff you’ll see him directing the band, and everyone should watch that shit anyway ’cause its insane. Sometimes its literally just a glance.

    there’s a great, really abstract show from Germany in 1973 I have on DVD that is very heavily conducted by Miles IIRC

  11. Hunter Says:

    Trey says “You gotta sing, ’cause I really knew this backstage” during Fee, and starts laughing. Why would he say “You guys suck”? Page bailing him out during Lizards was also great.

    Trey flubbing lyrics has never bothered me much. I always found it kind of endearing. The only time I ever get bothered is when he completely butchers stuff on guitar. I think it’s because his guitar playing is so much better, and more prominently featured, than his voice. Don’t get me wrong, I love his voice, but I’m certainly not expecting Jeff Buckley when he takes the stage. There have been a few rough patches here and there this tour in terms of guitar flubs (Drowned, 2001, the “Mr. Miner” segment of Hood), but he’s getting back on track. And his new tone can be downright mesmerizing when he works it.

    This show is absolutely killer. Right from the start in Chalkdust, when they work themselves into the dissonant corner, then Trey pulls them out of the muck with the magic “make ’em scream” note…That’s what it’s all about.

  12. Marshall Says:

    Hunter – agree completely.

  13. msbjivein Says:

    Esther,HaHAHa,I saw it again,Forbins>Mock,Liama,Undermind,Roses,TMWSIY,Avenu Malkenu,My Soul,Mound,Landlady,Curtain W/,Weigh,Sneakin Sally,FUNKY BITCH,Scents and Subtle Sounds,Thunderhead,Meat,Carib=ni,Dog Lod,Alumni,Camel Walk,BFFCFM,Spocks Brain…..ECT…….

  14. voopa Says:

    Dinner & A Movie
    Sweet Jane
    Helter Skelter

    …the possibilities are endless…

  15. Mr. Completely Says:

    There’s a big difference between a happy, upbeat Trey flubbing a lyric or two on tunes he hasn’t sung in years, and a dazed and addled Trey looking lost and blank.

    Is Mike playing Sand in a higher register than he used to or is it just the change in tone? during the actual song I mean. He’s definitely added extra bounce to the line he’s playing.

  16. DaNcInG fOoL Says:

    word yeah im watching the isle of wight on youtube right now, amazing, who is that on saxophone?

  17. Mr. Completely Says:

    Plus way overdue for a big Bowie, and the Mike’s Groove is the only big early-tour flubbathon they haven’t revisited and fixed up, isn’t it? Also be nice to get a really meaty Gin soon.

  18. Chalkdustin Says:


  19. DaNcInG fOoL Says:

    don’t forget Carini

  20. Marshall Says:

    Sure they’ll play Rocky Top at some point during TN run. I hate that song (mainly because I’m an SEC football fan).

  21. whole tour! Says:

    will they bust out ‘ride captain ride’ tomorrow, wed, or shoreline?

  22. Mr. Completely Says:

    they almost returned to the Sand theme a little after 13:00

    f0ol – I think that’s Gary Bartz, who replaced Wayne Shorter in the band

    you can buy this DVD for under $15 at Amazon (“A different kind of blue”), I pimp it every chance I get

  23. Chalkdustin Says:

    Oh my gosh, Sand (picks jaw up from desk).

  24. msbjivein Says:

    You could definately see a ride captain ride soon.

  25. Mr. Completely Says:

    this Sand is just about a perfectly structured long jam IMO – coherent but varied – the changes are well communicated and meaningful, in sort of that Went Gin style, where you could never have predicted where it would go at the start, but listening back it all makes sense and seems almost inevitable.

    And every time they’re almost stuck, something that used to happen a lot on Sand, they wrap it up and change. Love that they get an ending out of that descending riff; they have to struggle a bit for it, but it works.

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