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. Wax Banks Says:

    God help me, let there be no boring goddamn special guests at Bonnaroo. Bela Fleck, David Byrne, Andrew Bird (!!!!!!!!), but keep Haynes et al. off the bloody stage.

    Bird and Fleck are top-of-their-field players, I’d love to see them join the lads for a rave-up and some ‘Hood’ action at the ‘roo!!

  2. AlexanderK Says:

    Incredible show! Solid from start to finish and an all around great vibe in the venue.

    I give it an A-.

  3. ryan Says:

    I was also predicting a Hello My Baby in Asheville, I was suprised to get a very rare Lengthwise in a special Fishman section of the show

    But then in Knox, first HMB since 99…..nice and not even an encore, they just kept playing ….. it had that feeling like Camden, the band was having fun, Trey and Mike were dancing all night

  4. HarryHood Says:

    @ Bwana

    I’m with you on the pre-chant Hood days. Not a big fan of the current trend. Unfortunately, I don’t think we will ever see that again……

  5. c0wfunk Says:

    Trey has definitely been working on his dance moves! He was loving being the rock star last night for sure..

  6. whole tour! Says:

    @cowfunk i am headed back to asheville for the weekend. we should grab a beer and swap war stories. ill send you my cell number later today.

  7. c0wfunk Says:

    What is page teasing at 6:30 of camden fee. Just before he switches from piano to synth..

    Oh and I caught a roggae “jam” in the jb ghost- not quite a tease but the harmony and spirit is there. Is roggae still unplayed in 3.0? Mind fried . Trying to work.. Need to start pricing airfare to the gorge.. How hard is it to get from airport to venue / camping sans car??

  8. TheDropper Says:

    My Roo Prediction – Late Set Sunday Stealing Time. They will have all the heads left chanting “There’s a Blank Space Where My Mind Should Be!”

    I imagine that this one will end up being the darkest vehicle of the new tunes.

  9. Albert Walker Says:

    I’ve been spreading the friends don’t let friends chant hood message since that horrible day in 96 at Red Rocks

    I remember thinking how annoying phish fans are at the time
    and yes they still are just as annoying, probably even a little more

  10. Woo Says:

    The crowd in last night’s show seem very loud… Must have been a great show to be at.

  11. msbjivein Says:

    @Cow,No roggae yet. About 3-31/2 hrs from Sea Tac to Gorge. You camp right next to your car on site.

  12. Manny Phresh Says:

    WAVES>ASIHTOS>BOWIE wish I was there. Boys are ON PHIRE

  13. halcyon Says:

    I wonder about whoever originally drew up those flyers, and if they realize what a train wreck they helped create.

    This summer I pledge to do my part and not chant hood if they play it where I see em.

  14. stasbox Says:

    Loved this show- real old school fun! Song I Heard the Ocean Sing was played well, but I frickin hate it. Figures they would bust out 2.0 shit at some point- really enjoyed the Waves.

  15. c0wfunk Says:

    Jesse jarnow or somebody like that from rmp .. One of the original dudes I believe. He had a whole list of croud participations and the hood chant is the only one that stuck. I feel like I remember reading later of him regretting it. That said I think its kinda cool and a good way to channel those people who must interact at some point.

    And I think treys orchestral explorations have made him know his friend guyute much better- the camden one has some nice new nuances

  16. msbjivein Says:

    Somebody on here is trying to get some crowd participation flyer’s together for Fox. I personally don’t mind the Hood chant. It really doesn’t affect the song at all.IMO.

  17. Phamily Berzerker Says:

    Listening to Set I now.

    The boys are definitely dialed-in and the energy is high.

    Looking forward to hearing what comes out of the ‘roo performances.

  18. DaNcInG fOoL Says:

    I LOVE the HOOD chant

  19. msbjivein Says:

    Anyone need a Hotel room for Alpine?????
    I have one in Whitewater WI @ Super 8 two dbl beds nonsmoking. email me @ if your interested.

  20. Mr. Completely Says:

    Singing along for a whole song would be super annoying – I could see it maybe on a “cute” song like Bouncin’ and then STFU. But the Hood chant et. al. are fun I think. No big deal. Reminds me of the Shakedown “woo” or the Test Me Test Me moment in Bertha – it blows the minds of the n00bs when the whole crowd explodes around them.

    I love orchestral music and am 100% stoked for the TTE album. I think the title song will be better in that context. Absolutely looking forward to hearing it.

    I could TOTALLY see the band getting the producer on the phone after a could of these performances and saying “uh dude sorry we have some changes to lay down, meet us in Nashville on the day between Knox and Roo and we’ll bust a session”

    Agreed on hoping they don’t waste time on bring-down guests. Peeps that would be dope, though – sitting in either way, them with Phish, or Trey or whoever with them, in addition to Bela and DB:

    – Beastie Boys: Sabotage, obv, or let Mike go nuts on an instrumental jam like Futterman’s Rule – he would demolish that stuff, with the fuzz tone

    – I’m not a trance fan really, but 15 minutes of Paul Oakenfold during an ambient jam could be insane.

    – if they got together and practiced a little, they could do something really nuts with the Mars Volta guys. I hate that dudes voice but the band shreds.

    – Public Enemy shouldn’t really have anything to do with Phish or vice versa, but they are my alltime favorite hiphop group so I’m giving them a shoutout here. ELVIS WAS A HERO TO MOST BUT HE NEVER MEANT SHIT TO ME!!!!

    – abstract comedy skit featuring Fishman with Triumph the Insult Comic Dog and Rob Riggle

    – ALLEN FUCKING TOUSSAINT, Y’ALL – you gots to recognize

    – Grisman and/or Ronnie McCoury on mandolin, or OMG Tony Rice on guitar – only the greatest flatpicker of all time, y’all – to a couple bluegrass tunes

  21. kickaha Says:

    Can’t believe I skipped asheville and knoxville and have to wait until red rocks to see a show. The energy of these shows is amazing and the playing just keeps getting better.

    Re: Crowd participation – Wouldn’t it have been great if the suggestion that everyone say ‘ahhhh’ and sit down during the pause in Divided Sky would have stuck instead of the Hood chant?

  22. Mr. Completely Says:

    Trey sitting in with Femi, or especially King Sunny, is very possible and would be insanely dope as well. We know The Trza loves that shit, esp King Sunny.

  23. gho2it Says:

    Asheville and other .02’s….

    The scene and the day all played into the show at Asheville which is something to remember listening to any show on tape. The energy started building the night before the show. There were people hanging out in town, listening to Camden and spreading the kind cheer. Tuesday was a sunny mountain summer day and the whole town was buzzing. People out hanging, Mike walking around shopping for some new threads, just as chill a scene as you can imagine.

    The tickets were scarce and EVERYONE was looking. As Miner pointed out, the Civic Center was so uncrowded for a GA show which gave it kind of a Radio City vibe “Holy shit…it’s this small and it’s just us?!?!?” Guess they could have released those 400 tix for the locals like they originally promised.

    The hardest thing for you peeps at home that haven’t seen a show yet is that there is no memory that can prepare you for Phish 3.0! The phamily vibe seems to be back strong (maybe because we’ve all grown up) and just the sheer celebratory nature and good energy puts everyone in the zone!

    So while listening on tape people are hating the fact that everyone is singing along, at the show it’s the best feeling to turn to your neighbor and belt out those Moma “Wooooahhhhh woooahhhh oooooh aaaahh’s” together with Fish! Don’t get it twisted, this ain’t no DMB concert. Group singing has it’s place in the spiritual pantheon…

    The boys were in a very relaxed mood and were talking between songs and joking with each other the whole show. Hence the Fishman suite….and all those people around me thought I was a total N00b for calling for Tube…..little did they know this is 3.0!!! Who says they can’t play the same tune on back to back shows?

    The energy settled a little after Maze which was frustrating, because despite any offness you hear on tape they smoked it hard. They were poised on the edge to get nasty with it, but obviously saved the face melting for last night. It is good to know that they had IT and CHOSE not to bring it full phorce…..they were saying “patience young grasshoppers.”

    Like someone said before….they are building the tension with each show….WATCH OUT ALPINE!!!!!

  24. Mr. Completely Says:

    oh and this is certainly the illest *setlist* on tour, for me anyway. I have the studio versions of Waves and Ocean Sing sequenced like that in my itunes phish album mix and am stoked to see them return to rotation. Just started listening, wrapping up the high energy Jim now…

  25. halcyon Says:

    I just can’t get into the Hood Chant. I used too, but nowadays its whatever. It is not my thing. If people love it, and the band tolerates/enjoys it, then its cool. I think it takes away from some of the mystery in the song.

    It would be cool to see them do a ‘bluegrass sessions’ type jams again. Bring out some guests and have a cool 5-6 song session. Then afterwards, tear it up with some R n R.

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