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:

    wow this Waves is excellent IMO – Fishman is exquisite, as mentioned before, and Trey is playing his intricate little descending riffs beautifully…and then the trills and peak..yay

    lol @Selector

  2. Mr. Completely Says:

    that’s a pretty darn successful run thru the Bowie composed section

  3. Mr. Completely Says:

    i would never argue about the subjective experience with someone who was at one or both shows – but Knoxville will be in heavier rotation around my house than Asheville for sure.

    Very consistent tour since JB3.

  4. oneshowatatime Says:

    Can’t wait to see what they churn out at Roo. I’m seriously kicking myself that I didn’t get tickets this year–this is going to be the best year in at least 4-5 years. And it’s especially incredible because they don’t usually give artists 2 shows… damnit.

    Might make a last minute flight out for Alpine Valley though if I get lucky. Speaking of which, who’s got my extras!? haha

  5. Jason Waite Says:

    > PHv3.0

  6. Mugician Says:

    Howdy all. Been enjoying yourselves?

  7. bcb Says:

    Just saw some pics, looks like Mike broke out his new bass on Frankenstein. Pretty cool, Mike, pretty cool.

  8. BingosBrother Says:

    @oneshowatatime : dude a few pages back was selling alpine pavs for face. More the merrier if u ask me.

  9. voopa Says:

    Looks like someone else is vying for the face-melting title:

  10. oneshowatatime Says:

    Thanks BingosBrother!–didn’t catch that one, but i just sent him an email (fingers crossed)

  11. Stupendous Says:

    where could one find an AuD copy of last night’s show in it’s entirety?
    Dyin’ to hear!

  12. Mr.Miner Says:

    i would never argue about the subjective experience with someone who was at one or both shows – but Knoxville will be in heavier rotation around my house than Asheville for sure.

    ^^ yup. no doubt..

  13. Mr.Miner Says:

    Completely that is exactly how I interpreted Stealing time. Remember Tom writes these lyrics- he is a middle aged corporate guy not someone who just finished rehab. They speak to me- got memories, got memories, got memories of being free! Stealing time = living for the moment again escaping the faulty plan. My favorite new lyrics by far

    ^ how do we know these are written by Tom?

  14. Mr.Miner Says:

    re-upped my mediafire account- so all old links should be working now

  15. halcyon Says:

    Thanks Miner & thanks to your boys and girls for their work on no spoilers *

    STFTFP (lol @ song acronyms) is a good one

    @ Voopa….Morello is sick…I remember an article with Trey and he was saying that Morello is one guitarist he would love to play with, and they tried to get him to play with Oysterhead, but due to other plans he wasn’t able to join him.

  16. Mr. Completely Says:

    Streetsweeper is fucking badass, they played here in PDX right before sasquatch. Strangely, that article doesn’t mention that Stanton Moore is the drummer on the album.

    I was mostly into it to start with because of Boots Riley’s involvement. Morello is a very cool guitar player, and Stanton is amazing, but Boots is the finest lyricist in hiphop and one of the best rappers too, imo – The Coup (his usual gig) is right up there with Dead Prez (who are playing here soon too) as the best politically/socially aware rap outfits around. Mad, mad props to Boots Riley and I’m glad this band is getting him some attention.

  17. Mr.Miner Says:

    I by accident deleted a post a few pages back. Sorry to whose ever it was….

  18. cottle Says:

    Wow…just got home from Knoxville. What a great couple of shows. I never really got that into Waves in 03/04, but now I think Waves>Ocean might be my new favorite shit. I wasn’t sure yet how I felt about Kill Devil Falls until they opened with it in Asheville and I immediately took to it. I thought they jammed it out a bit more than I’d heard on the recordings of the other shows from this tour.

  19. Frankie Says:

    That Knoxville show sure is a keeper! Love the tour so far, a whole new era of Phish is upon us and it feels so good!!

    No Spoilers was perfect for that Knoxville show… Thought they were done after Coil in the first set like in 94 and then KABOOM! ZERO!

    Then in the second, was sure Julius was the last song… then Cavern, that is a set closer for sure! JA-KOOON! HOOD! So good!!

    Have fun everybody goin’ to the ROO this weekend, i have a feeling it’s gonna be the HEAT!

  20. McGrupp Says:

    No expectations here….except everyone knows how EXCELLENT the sound quality is The Fabulous Fox in St Louis.

    Jerry Garcia wanted to purchase it back in the 70’s due to the sound, and make The Grateful Dead’s 2nd home away from home.

    Look for some unique playing and rare material….

  21. AintNoTele Says:

    That show blew my face clean off. Phish is definitely a delicate beautiful monstrosity. They are capable of the most joyful delicate peaks and the dirtiest of the dirty jams into outer space. The whole band seemed to be having a blast and truly pouring their hearts out. I had to laugh during cavern as Trey and Mike were dancing as if to say, “Yeah that’s right, we just killed it tonight, got it back and are here to say, but here are some words of adivce: before you step into the night you want something to drink” I complied no doubt. Best night of my life…. Oh yeah, Foam was perfect and Kuroda killed it lighting the people up behind the stage with the polka-dot static like lights 2nd set!!!(maybe during bowie or waves, cant quite recall that fine detail)

  22. Wilson Says:

    I sure hope they do give the West Coast some love. My Phish career (really just 1.0) was all east coast, and its frustrating to have so many friends meeting up for shows that i can’t really get to (did Fenway. wish I had done Asheville and just coughed up the $ for a ticket. i’ll regret that for a long time)

    and whoever made the quip about the liklihood of a west coast tour being worse than a “festy in Sadr City.” That made me laught pretty damn good. Thanks.
    Leaving work – to listen to Knoxville. yay!

  23. Bwana Sun Says:

    don’t regret passing up the Fox, too… there’s still time…

  24. mr. icculus Says:

    WOW what a fucken show, evan better than the Camden show.
    I danced so hard that 1st set that i had to buy a phish dry good t shirt at break cause there wasn’t a dry stich on my shirt. Felt bad for the poor peopl next to me i was soaked in sweat. That 1st set never slowed down from start to finish. Loved every part of it especially Ocelot cant get enough of that new song and Weekapaug laid down some extremely danceable beats. It was so good it cost me $30 bucks for a dry tee. Second set Trey just ripped up waves and Ocean. But this set gave me a little bit of breathing room until they droped the Bowie which was by far the show highlight in my opinon. It go the sweat drippin again. And i loved it When Trey practactly ran back to his guitar after the HMB and just ripped up jUlius i mean ripped shreded fiped it up side down smacked it What ever he was havein g the time of his life and i was so close i could see the dimples on his face with a smile from ear to ear. The Hood and Reba jams were just the most Sublime blissfull peaces of music that that ive ever heard. That place was on fire last night. SEe you guys back in Pittsburg no ROO for Me.

    @Miner always alot of love for what you bring to the community your awsome Thank you Mr. Miner! again if you need any help at the Pittsburgh show hit me up. I know the ins and out of that place. How to avoid the traffic and get in a back door. Have freinds that work security and a home very near by. I owe you for all the downloads so let me know if you need anything.

  25. Wax Banks Says:

    I was flipping out about the last 3-4 shows until I threw in the 2/25/03 ‘Theme’ and 2/20/03 Waves > Simple – just extraordinary stuff, particularly in the ‘Simple’ with its unexpectedly sprightly drumbeat and unusual up-down-up shape to the jam. Energetic and empathetic as the last few shows have been, Phish 2k3 generally leaves the new stuff in the dust jamming-wise. It’s weird: I think the individual playing might be better now in most ways, and the ensemble is gelling at the moment into something new, but I love the freewheeling onstage party vibe of the winter/summer ’03 shows. I don’t spend a lot of time with the 2/03 stuff but God Damn they were throwing down some creative jams back then. More interesting than the comparatively monochromatic summer ’03 material, which built on a straight-up rock vocabulary even at its coolest (IT).

    Nonetheless: I likely won’t come back to any of the Hampton material a year from now, but each of the summer ’09 shows has contained at least one keeper, and the last few shows have been trending toward the band’s ridiculous late-90’s on-base percentage.


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