Tremendous Times In Tennessee

6.10.09 Knoxville, TN (Lanser)

6.10.09 Knoxville, TN (Lanser)

In a complete blowout at the Thompson-Boling Arena, Phish played a blockbuster show to an absolutely raging crowd of well over 20,000 in Knoxville, TN.  While there may have been better individual jams at other shows, Knoxville was certainly the most solid two sets of Phish we’ve seen this summer.  There was never a point where the show dragged, and with both sets relative marathons, it seemed as though the band didn’t want to leave the stage. In a show whose tickets wound up going for $10 on lot, the first sleeper show of this summer exploded with a dream setlist and precise improvisation throughout the night.

6.10.09 (Lanser)

6.10.09 (Lanser)

Phish came out to a the loudest ovation of the tour, and the energy in the building oozed onto the stage and never left. Sparking the night with a tight run through “Runaway Jim,” Phish then used a “second-opener” to juice the crowd even more with the scratchy opening and full-on grooves of “Punch You In the Eye.” While many other first sets have featured a long list of relatively jam-less songs, last night’s was quite different.  Beginning with the tour’s most extended “Ocelot,” Phish initiated the theme of the night- ridiculously creative “type I” improvisation.  Taking song’s structured jams and absolutely obliterating them from start to finish, Phish showcased their increasingly polished chops while crafting a show that included several classic crowd favorites.

6.10.09 (Lanser)

6.10.09 (Lanser)

Following up “Ocelot” with a tightly wound “Foam,” Trey and Page engaged in some sublime interplay before taking a breather in the summer’s first “Train Song.” With back-to back with tour debuts, Phish unveiled the second-ever incarnation of “Undermind” whose jam built upon Hampton’s premiere with additional twists and solos.  As the band conversed amidst a set that was quickly becoming the most significant opening frame of the summer, that status was confirmed as Trey hit the opening riff to “Mike’s Groove,” ostensibly as the set closer.  The “Mike’s” jam, much hotter than the Jones Beach version, brought some improvised darkness with searing guitar leads and fierce musical interplay.  In a virtually note-perfect “Hydrogen,” the band’s fluidity gelled with their classic composition, leading up to raucous “Weekapaug” jam whose improv took a turn for the spunky and spirited. Phish’s teeth have become sharper and as they carve out jams, there is now a clear intention behind their playing- tentativeness is falling by the wayside.  Not done yet, Phish tagged on solid versions of “Coil” and “Zero” to the end of the set

6.10.09 (Lanser)

6.10.09 (Lanser)

The second set picked up right where set one left off, and before long we were waist deep some in an ominous Phish excursion of “Waves > A Song I Heard the Ocean Sing > David Bowie.” Combing three songs from different eras of the band’s career, they created the “dark meat” of the second set. Hitting on a nautical theme with the initial combination, Phish built an awing composed “Waves” jam into a psychedelic ambient outro.  Adding layers of effects and dissonance, the band seemed heading for outer space into “Waves > 2001,” but instead they took a left turn into the heavy drop of the third-ever performance of “A Song I Heard the Ocean Sing.” Although the band briefly stumbled through the composed section, they crushed the second ever jam to sprout from the song.  It was a very unique experience to hear them break out this song after listening to the SPAC ’04 version eight million times. With that jam imprinted my brain, it was strange to hear the song move to other places. As the improv commenced the jam turned dirty and tumultuous as Trey dug into some heavy guitar work. Although not super-extended, this was such a welcome return to the band’s repertoire, and it feels good to know that we haven’t heard the last from Undermind’s instant-classic.


6.10.09 (Lanser)

Completing the sinister segment of the second set was that massive “Bowie” that had been looming for several nights.  Busting it out as a centerpiece of the show, the band executed the delicate jam with a passion and precision that we haven’t heard in a from the song many moons ago. Delivering the full-treatment to the psychedelic staple, and once again proving that quality is far more important than quantity, Phish electrified the audience with a full-on jam that was as tight as superglue- a real aural treat.  Using Page’s “Army of One” as a cool-down moment of reflection, Phish took no time stepping back on the gas pedal with the drop of an uncharacteristically late-second set “Reba.”  Once again proving that setlist conventions have been tossed out the window, the band patiently crafted a jam whose delicacy matched that of “Bowie, but on the opposite end of the emotional spectrum.  Much like the Jones Beach version, the band relaxed into the jam, taking the groove to point of virtual silence without ever losing their sense of cohesive rhythm.  Building back into more classic territory, the band created a soothing journey to balance out an  overwhelmingly dark set.  Bleeding with emotional playing, this late set highlight is one that will certainly get some road time in the car today up to Bonnaroo.

6.10.09 (Lanser)

6.10.09 (Lanser)

As “Reba” was coming to a peak, I thought back to Camden’s “Tweezer” set-closer, thinking they would again cap the set unconventionally; but this is when things just kept going.  Tearing into “Julius,” a song that Trey has owned this tour, it seemed the band would rock out to close the night.  Yet, upon the the conclusion of the biographical saga, Trey instructed his bandmates to drop into “Cavern”- a song that would without a doubt close the set.  But once again, Phish wasn’t done.  As they sustained the last note to “Cavern,” instead of bringing down the crashing final note, the band rolled into the reggae rhythms of “Harry Hood.”  Not wanting to leave the stage, Phish built another show highlight out of the fifteen minute closer, reassuring us that we can indeed feel good about “Hood” in Summer ’09, as they played a third consecutive standout rendition as the ultimate resolution to the set.

Ending the show with the return of the “key-tar” for “Frankenstein,” Phish chose a fitting encore to cap a bombastic show.  As we wandered off onto the campus of the University of Tennessee’s, it was crazy to think that the next time we’d encounter our band would be in front of nearly 100,000 people at Bonnaroo this weekend.  With the southern run heating up, Phish is poised to slaughter the mainstream mega-festival.  Confident and happy as ever, it will be more than interesting to see what develops in Manchester.  If they continues to build off of the playing of last night, everyone is in for a real treat.

I: Runaway Jim, Punch You in the Eye, Ocelot, Foam, Train Song, Undermind, Mike’s Song > Hydrogen > Weekapaug Groove, The Squirming Coil, Character Zero

II: Back On The Train, Waves > A Song I Heard The Ocean Sing > David Bowie, Army Of One, Reba, Hello My Baby, Julius > Cavern > Harry Hood

E: Frankenstein

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221 Responses to “Tremendous Times In Tennessee”

  1. HarryHood Says:

    Fenway was the first real experience that I had with the nitrous ghetto. I don’t remember the NO2 scene ever being that big in years past. I actually was surprised at how little they cared about the police presence. I was walking to the T station over the highway and all you could hear was the clicking of bottles and the popping of balloons. Kinda funny really to watch the cops all looking at each other like, “What the hell are we gonna do with this?”

  2. MW Says:

    LOL @ the ALF shirt.

  3. msbjivein Says:

    They’re are building the Tour up like and Massive Bowie w/ a huge peak at the end!! The boys are just starting to build the tension. @ Roo Phish will just add to the tension building. By next week they will have built it up to a frenzy!!!!

  4. ColonelJoy Says:

    I lost count, but 125+ total different songs played….will approach 150 by the end of the tour…

    How long can the keep getting better?…through fall tour, probably, and beyond…

  5. MW Says:

    @msb it’s kind of like “a cross between a hurricane and a ship that’s run aground”

  6. msbjivein Says:

    Good ??? If this continues we are in for The Best days of Phish!!! This time next year could just be absolutely crazy. I might have to “Tune In , Turn On and Drop out”

  7. BTB Says:

    ALF T-Shirt would be hilarious! good idea

    I’m so happy the boys are having this much fun. Trey has really risen to the occasion. Great to see it…

    And yes, we are getting our Crosseyed at DC

  8. SOAM Says:


  9. msbjivein Says:

    Who said 2.0 was shelved??????

  10. SOAM Says:

    My point exactly-

  11. SOAM Says:

    I hope they play a 220 minute meat at Bonaroo-just to mind fuck all those dmb dbags and then encore with Born in the USA

  12. Manny Phresh Says:

    With Bruce on stage of course!

  13. gavinsdad Says:

    @ manny

    what up…ran into you in the camden moat. i’m out til the gorge. have fun out there.

  14. ryan Says:

    For all who read this,

    My last show was fall in Cincy 2000. I saw Asheville, and Knox, and I have to say its like they never took a break at all. They are back to their old ways but with newer and different songs.

    Asheville was the most AMAZING show that I will ever see and nothing can change that. It was a show that if you got tickets via lottery, you went , other than that you paid 200 to get in the door. Every Phan wanted to be there no mistaking frat boys, just phans.

    And anyone who was there will remember the Moma Dance and how loud the crowd sang all night, You Could hardly hear the band sing the crowd was so loud and into it.

    Knoxville was daunting in size and power. I will treasure both of these shows on my flight back to Orlando tonight.

  15. msbjivein Says:

    Just listened to Runaway Jim…..WOW!! High energy………

  16. Albert Walker Says:

    if real fans were in Nashville why were they singing/

    besides yelling hood, and clapping during stash

    loudly singing along could the most annoying thing to ever do at a Phish show

    Please, Phish have enough trouble harmonzing and remembering the old songs without the fans singing

  17. Jacob Says:

    Two quick thoughts, then I actually have to do work I get paid for.

    1. I’m glad that there are some people out there, Mr. Miner especially, that really dig the songs from Round Room and Undermind. I think there are some great songs on both of those records, and I’m really hoping I get Pebbles and Marbles, Seven Below, WOTC, and maybe even Access Me during my Deer Creek->Alpine Valley three show run.

    2. I was not really happy when Phish first announced they were going to play Bonnaroo over the winter. But, now that the time is near, I think those two shows are going to be two of the best of the summer. I’ve learned over the years, especially in the past year, that if I may not immediately agree with what Phish is doing, eventually I’ll come around, and even say “Well, shit! Of course that makes sense!”

    Have fun in Tennessee, y’all!

  18. ryan Says:

    It was just a different moment in Asheville, sometimes there is an energy that you cant explain

  19. Chalkdustin Says:

    Has anyone hear that the new album has been delayed until August?

  20. msbjivein Says:

    July 28th I thought……………….

  21. Chalkdustin Says:

    YEMblog is saying otherwise….delayed until August, but no new date announced. Not a huge delay, if it is in fact true.

  22. c0wfunk Says:

    @ryan you said it! Daunting in size and power, I like that-just how I felt.

  23. BTB Says:

    They might want more time to re-cut some of the tracks they’ve been laying down at the shows.

    Does anyone think Kill Devil Falls sounds like a BOAF jam with a little bit of a MOESHA songwriting style thrown in? Sounds like a TAB song if you ask me – the Asheville version rocked!

  24. Bwana Sun Says:

    ^ albert w

    honestly i’m not into the “hood” chant… i was at red rocks ’96 when the flyers went around the lot pre-show announcing the idea. the reaction was 50-50 at best, but when they played it people chanted…
    after that night it’s been all downhill.

    the band has actually said they didn’t like it and even have f-ed with the crowd on a number of occasions, including Omaha ’96. replacing “harry” — “hood” with “lee” — “fordam” and throwing off the crowd chants. funny!

    at this point i think they’ve just submitted to the fact that the “hood” chant is hear to stay… but take a listen to pre-96 hoods for the un’hooded versions.

  25. c0wfunk Says:

    Kill devil falls had a chalkdust vibe to me- but boaf always did to (well usually) so there ya go..

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