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. Mr. Completely Says:

    @gho2it nice post on the vibe and the scene

  2. Mr. Completely Says:

    I think they’ll hype a Tom Marshall sit-in like crazy and then have Bruce come out – opposite of the old gag

  3. oneshowatatime Says:

    i still don’t understand how tickets could be going for just $10 in the lot?!? this seems like a perfect pre-Roo show to tack onto the weekend–what happened? how big was the venue last night? the show WAS sold out, right?

  4. Stupendous Says:

    @ anyone
    Whats the flyer hood chant all about?
    people chanting hood while trey sings the “harry” part?
    inquiring minds want to know

  5. Mr. Completely Says:

    @oneshow – I knew a few peeps who were planning on going, but didn’t get Asheville tickets, and are too cool to go to Bonnaroo (HA!). So they didn’t want to travel etc. for a single midweek show. Plus it just didn’t get hyped for whatever reason.

    nothing to do with anything today – I heard Stealing Time a totally different way this morning. I had thought of the lyric as another post-rehab thing: the “Faulty Plan” being the doper’s fucked up life, and Stealing Time from it meaning trying to get your head straight. I still think that works. But it could also be almost the opposite – the story of someone who has “memories of being free” – maybe someone who used to tour or go to shows when they were younger? – but is now sold-out and corporate. The Faulty Plan being the straight middle class life, and Stealing Time from it is the memories of freer days, and dreams of getting back there.

    “Can you still have fun….”
    “If you’re just staring at your walls…”

    Great, great lyric and song.

  6. kts Says:

    re rumored album delay: wasn’t Lillywhite or one of the band members quoted earlier this year as saying the goal was to capture the “fun” of the live show on record (hence the “Party Time” quip)? Makes perfect sense that they would want to work out some of the new tunes on the road and then head back to the studio to tweak (or even substantailly re-do) the record.

    On a similar note, anyone watch the Neil Young documentary on PBS last night? It had Nils Lofgren talking about their tour of the UK right around the time they were recording Tonight’s the Night. Basically, all they were playing was the new (unreleased) album, front to back, which pissed off the audience to no end. At the end of Tonight’s the Night Part II, Neil would then tell the crowd “now we’re going to play something you’ve all heard before.” the crowd would go nuts, and then the band would go right back into “Tonight’s the Night.” LOL.

  7. c0wfunk Says:

    Venue was HUGE .. Sold out but there were shady scalpers with fists full of mail order tickets getting no love. I think cap 25k or something. Crowd seemed like lots of UT kids and UG atl bama people etc – hence the Noise and energy- rednecks can bring that like few others. The row in front of us was this great group of exuberant frat boys who knew every note and were puffin tough .. Got a lil dicey during pyite tho as stray fists were all over.

  8. Albert Walker Says:

    those tonight’s the night tours are legendary
    Neil had some alternate persona he would go into trying to anger the crowd
    people have compared this to later punk rock front men (neil always ahead of the times)
    a bunch of close friends over dosing and getting pissed off at LA life and the music scene led to that record and tour
    There were a fews shows were they really only played that one song
    tonight’s the night
    great stuff
    Since Come on Baby and Albuqurque both are on that record it’s fair to say Trey has played it a few times himself

  9. Mr. Completely Says:

    Undermind is such a badass song!!! Love the 2nd line beat!

  10. oneshowatatime Says:

    “Got a lil dicey during pyite tho as stray fists were all over.”


  11. Mr. Completely Says:

    lol I had open in 2nd tab and didn’t realize a vid was on autoplay – the middle of page’s organ solo on Undermind I hear this voice in the headphones yelling about Dwight Howard and his undeveloped low post game…WTF

  12. msbjivein Says:

    The Possum from A’ville is completely of the hook!! Trey’s solo at the end is AWESOME!!
    I second the Undermind Shout out!!!

  13. HarryHood Says:

    Its so hard to listen to the shows at work……… I’m finally listening to the Ashville Ghost and I want to really turn it up! A guy in an office down from mine keeps sticking his head out like he’s annoyed already though. Making a living sucks.

  14. Mr. Completely Says:

    end of that undermind is super super dope – definitely more developed than Hampton’s excellent version

  15. msbjivein Says:

    Fish’s drumming during Waves is freaking awesome!!!!!! The man is on it!!

  16. DaNcInG fOoL Says:

    i hope phish releases a live album from this tour

  17. Mr. Completely Says:

    @Harry – Sennheiser HD202s are under $25 on Amazon – highly recommended! I am raging this Mike’s right now – only problem is that I want to burn one and dance around, but oh well

  18. kevin are hollo Says:

    the flier’s in ’95 and ’96 were of darius zelkha’s design, not jesse jarnow. i talk with jesse on occasion, tho, and will inquire if he had hands in it.

    zelkha’s flier suggested several audience interactions, most of which play on the probability of a certain song being played. hood, the audience chants “HOOD” back at the band. divided sky, sit down and say “AHHHH” during the wait for the “note.” there’s more, and you can read about it here:

    i laugh when people supplant the HOOD with harry BALLS! chant instead….

    otherwise, yes, distracting and annoying. like the sit down “ahh” tho, and agree it’d be better to have survived. but no one even knows the language anymore!

    but hypocritically :), i am the one doing fliers @ the fox, but these interactions are more geared towards cheerleading and setbreak activities than individual songs. really just a way to show love to the band for blessing us with such an intimate venue.

  19. HarryHood Says:

    It’s so funny to turn it up and watch the gophers sticking their heads in and out of their offices……

  20. Mr. Completely Says:

    Mike’s crazy tone really suits the Weekapaug intro

  21. ColonelJoy Says:

    Oh, to burn one and dance….

  22. ryan Says:

    Mikes bass was mixed waaaay better in Knoxville than at Asheville. At least the live version

    I dont know if the soundboard will reflect that

  23. Mr. Completely Says:

    When they play Waves we should do the wave. Cause it says “wave.” Get it?

    “It says Choo-choo-choose me…and it has a picture of a train!”

  24. Mr. Completely Says:

    @ryan still getting badly shorted on Mike tone in the boards. Matrixes will be required.

  25. BigFatFurry Says:

    I was @ both Avl and Knxvl…..not even in the same galaxies. Asheville was special…and Knoxville was BIG and ORANGE. The band wasn’t near as locked as they were in Asheville…last night it was almost like they broke out the big setlist guns to overcome the fact that they weren’t feeling the magic as much as they were in Asheville.

    With that said the show last night was still totally worthwhile…if you like ORANGE…haha. The 1st set M>HYDROGEN>Week was cool…2nd set was BOWIE (Trey delivered bigtime at the end) and HOOD (nice build…ps Totally agree the Hood chant is annoying). Reba was nothing that great… fact not to nitpick, but there’s a pretty sweet missed beat coming out of the Fish fills where it takes a second for Gordon and Fishman to sync into the most crucial part of REBA in my mind…it was more xomical (even between them) than anything becuz amazingly that type of thing so rarely happens. Solid show overall don’t get me wrong, but the setlist NEVER outweighs the quality of the playing.

    All i’m saying is that we should all hope for 3 night runs at the Asheville Civic Center versus 1 night AVL & 1 in KNX.

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