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. nonoyolker Says:

    I’ve been to four shows this tour and i have to say, they have a nice assortment of new songs. Party Time may be a serious party time. Stealing time, Ocelot, Light, Joy, BDT#L, Kill Devil, and Sugar Bush all rage. May really be the “Best Fucking Phish Album of All Time”

    Also, listened to the Ashville Ghost this morning and almost messed myself. Def up there w/ the Camden Sand and Tweezer

  2. msbjivein Says:

    On site is a little simular to DC. Big party. It will be hot in the day time and cool off at night. I would stay on site and bring all you camping gear and throw down. I used to live in Kent WA. Loved the Gorge! I’m in the midwest now. Indy actually. If you’ve never been to Gorge and like the Deer Creek camping vibe I would stay on site.

  3. Mr. Completely Says:

    Who can guess what those guys will think and feel? You want to try to read the mind of Cactus? That’s an easy way to lose a big bet.

    That being said – most sustainable would probably be 2 tours a year at most instead of 3, with mini-runs like NYE when they feel like it. That leaves room for solo stuff and plenty of family/downtime. As Colonel said I’d expect the occasional longer layoff as well.

  4. oneshowatatime Says:

    @Dave: “It is a serious flight to Denver or the Gorge.”

    Are you kidding me? Those are both 2 hour flights. I’m about to book my flight for $219 to Denver.

  5. ColonelJoy Says:

    To avoid the morning Hot tent….invest in one of those shade things that people use to picnic under…place that thing, uncentered to the east a little bit, and you should stay cool in your tent much longer….

  6. Mr. Completely Says:

    @Colonel – I totally get the economics and reality of it, and it’s magnified by the new stay-in-touch-with-family vibe

    I don’t think they’re staying off the west coast just to fuck with us or anything, its just a bummer

    but we’re getting more shows this summer than you are, I guess, eh?

  7. Mr. Completely Says:

    ^^^^ desert wisdom from the Colonel – that totally works ^^^^

    mist sprayers are great too but fuck with yr sunscreen

  8. RobAins Says:

    Gorge camping is a lot of fun. Can’t tell if you’re looking to party all night or not though….
    I remember the summer 98 being a particularly hot and dusty 2 days.

  9. ColonelJoy Says:

    Yeah, I was pysched when I first heard TTE, but the novelty has worn off for me, too….

    And I listened to the Orchestral Album….really, really bad. Well produced, but very Disney, as I believe someone has already remarked. My two y/o might enjoy it. Honestly, Trey has no business singing on the thing…should have hired someone else for the singing…god female voisce or something.

    But, like I said earlier, as if it maters that TTE sucks!!!

  10. ColonelJoy Says:

    Yes Completely, you are getting more shows than me…

    Unlikely that the boyz will throw down in a Mosque somewhere in Northern Iraq. We get no Morale tour love, either….all we get are Christian and Patriot rock bands.

  11. Dr SF Jones Says:

    Haven’t listened to the Orchestral version of TTe yet, but i love the studio version and the live ones are pretty cool to me too. If they can work out some of the rough spots in the vocals, i would love to hear more, but Phish is back and that’s all I care about.

  12. oneshowatatime Says:

    if what i hear is true, the west coast will be getting some love sooner than later…

  13. HarryHood Says:

    It’s funny because I like TTE for what it is. A really well put together and lengthy pop song. Great on a record, terrible live. I remember people at Fenway were all excited when it kicked off, and about two minutes into the song, everyone was looking at each other like, “how am I supposed to dance to this?”

  14. Mr. Completely Says:

    @cool, oneshow – all my rumor-monger friends are on tour, want to share?

  15. ColonelJoy Says:


    I was able to write a page of my novel while jiving with you phine folks, so I’ve been pretty productive post-hiatus:)

    Well, I just got Jack London’s “Martin Eden” in the mail…going to bed to that…peace,

  16. oneshowatatime Says:

    homeboy i work with claims to have a very reliable source that hinted at halloween on the polo fields in Indio where Coachella is held–sounds kinda funky, but would be super sick. i bet there are tons of cheap places to stay out there that time of year…

    he does work in sales though, can never completely trust anyone who works in sales, haha

  17. Mr. Completely Says:

    lol word – does he own a timeshare in that area?

  18. Phil Says:


    I read here everyday and rarely if ever post but wanted to see if anyone needs extra Alpine tickets? I have 2 tickets in the PAV for both nights that i am looking to unload for face plus service fees, exactly what i paid for them. Sat night is in Section 201 row BB and really sick seat for the last nigt located in sec 202 row HH. Please feel free to email me at for any questions or concerns.

  19. El Duderino Says:

    That is an official release! I do not think that Mr. Miner wants that posted here Jason Waite

  20. Brimley Says:

    ” wonder about whoever originally drew up those flyers, and if they realize what a train wreck they helped create.”
    I swear I read something from Charlie Dirksen that said that he started the Hood chant at Red Rocks…Anyone else hear of this?

  21. oneshowatatime Says:

    i wish he did have a timeshare, i sure as hell don’t!

  22. SOAM Says:

    Colonel is takin gover all singing duties for Trey when he gets back from his hitch-fyi

  23. SOAM Says:

    Peter Pudphace started the hood chant in his mothers basement-during a keg party while she went to buy groceries.-excerpt from the new book about phish

  24. SOAM Says:

    In and out of focus-Time turns ain’t that bad-nothing is except when fish vac’s or sings

  25. Dr SF Jones Says:

    TTE is a pop song? Like I could hear it on a radio station sandwiched between the latest Britney Spears song and the latest Coldplay? Sweet…..
    i think the idea behind some phish songs is that you don’t need to dance to them. just chill out and listen. feel bad that some people hate on it, but i hope to hear a lot of TTE and i hope the haters are sitting and bummin’. 🙂

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