A Fox Fantasy

The Fox (@rstrauss)

6.16.09 The Fox (@rstrauss)

Stepping from the summer’s biggest stage to its smallest, Phish entered St. Louis’ Fabulous Fox Theatre Tuesday night, in a show that was circled since the tour’s announcement as the night of the summer. Ironically, for the performance that people flew across the country for and paid upwards of $400 get into, Phish played an underwhelming show that stood out as the least engaging of the Southern Run.  While nothing was played poorly, the band played a straight-ahead rocker that featured little improvisation in a show that couldn’t possibly live up to its hype.  The theatre was beautiful, it sounded great, and the lights looked spectacular with the full-rig contained in such at tiny space.  The stage was set for Phish to blow up- but they didn’t.  Nonetheless, the experience was of Phish at the Fox was certainly unique and we were left with a few musical highlights from a mid-week stop in the “Gateway to the West.”

"Slave" 6.16.09 (@yemblog)

"Slave" 6.16.09 (@yemblog)

In a first set that many contained many classic songs, the two improvisational highlights lied in the second-song “Ocelot” and the set-closing “Slave.”  The playful “Ocelot” stretched into its most interesting rendition yet, as Trey’s solo led the band in what might be considered the songs first “jam.”  Phish’s songs sounded pristine, crisp, and loud in The Fox, bringing a special appreciation for songs like “Brian & Robert,” “Rift,” and “Horn,” and a short, but very sweet “Reba.”  My group of friends all laughed in jest as the band busted into yet another “Possum” to end the first set.  But instead of stopping there, the band dropped the tour’s second “Slave,” and it was stunning.  A jam that built with utmost delicacy resonated through the theatre, seeming like the song was made for the environment.  A piece of Phish beauty, this was a throwback to the theatre days of ’93 and ’94 as Phish crafted a tightly woven tale of pure magic.  Though as the band was in the middle of peaking the jam, someone (Fishman, from memory), abruptly moved into the closing segment, causing a more-than-awkward ending to an otherwise gorgeous version.

As the lights dropped for set two, it certainly felt like the band was going to throw down the gauntlet, and with a “Halley’s”opener, the course was set.  Entering some rock grooves right out of the gate, it was evident we were finally seeing the band improvise on the rarity once again, and that mere fact was great.  In the clear highlight of the show, the band creatively drove the jam within the lines for quite a while before eventually segueing into an ambient segment that seemed to point towards something huge.  Emerging out of the murkiness came a surprise second-set “Runaway Jim” that received more intense treatment than its first-set summer counterparts, creating a searing cap to the set-highlight amidst the regal surroundings.

"Reba" 6.16.09 (@yemblog)

"Reba" 6.16.09 (@yemblog)

What came next was the slowest portion of any second-set in recent memory.  Beginning interestingly with the tour’s first “Frankie Says” (aka “Relax”), the band included some brief improv to the song, adding a bit of intrigue to the second-set bust out whose music seemed appropriately placed in The Fox.  However, after relaxing, the band again centered the slow, fifteen-minute composed “Time Turns Elastic” squarely in the second set.  Even the ornate surroundings couldn’t justify the song’s placement in a set which never truly recovered.  Following, “Time Turns Elastic,” the band inexplicably selected “Sleep” to complete the nearly jam-less half-hour. “Relax > Elastic > Sleep.” Hmmm.

The band obviously had to drop something significant at this point in the set, and they went with “Mike’s Groove.”  The “Mike’s” bounced off the walls, creating a larger-than-life feel in the tiny theatre- a certain experiential highlight- though the song’s improv remained standard.  A brief run through “Weekapaug’s” composed jam capped any sort of full-band improv of the night, as Phish closed the set with “Booogie On” and “Charater Zero.” Many will say “Boogie On” was a highlight, but in reality, all they did was spotlight Page’s outstanding clav solo amidst some pedestrian funk- great for some, boring for others.

Getting Into The Fox (@yemblog)

Getting Into The Fox (@yemblog)

Experientially, the show at The Fox was no doubt something special, but musically- it honestly wasn’t.  The “Slave” and the “Halley’s > Jim” will find their way onto end-of-tour compilations, but everything else was pretty much straight ahead playing.  The band never got the improvisational itch during a show that follwed Bonnaroo’s blowout with some of the best jamming of the tour.  Maybe that wasn’t the point of last night, but the show sure felt far lighter than any show since Great Woods.  Looking towards the last four nights of leg one- the return to the Phishy haunts of Star Lake, Deer Creek, and Alpine- all seem to be no-brainers.  Three venues, highlights on the map of any summer tour, mean even more on this first run through in 2009.  As we leave the mid-week hype behind us, we are about to enter the land of plentiful under-face tickets, and enough room for everyone, as Phish will conclude their early-summer tour with a four-night run that is sure to produce plenty of Midwestern music for our listening and dancing pleasure.

I: Kill Devil Falls, Ocelot, Brian & Robert, Sample in a Jar, Rift, Ya Mar, Reba, Train Song, Horn, Possum, Slave to the Traffic Light

II: Halley’s Comet > Runaway Jim, Frankie Says, Time Turns Elastic, Sleep, Mike’s Song > I Am Hydrogen > Weekapaug Groove, Boogie On Reggae Woman, Character Zero

E: Star Spangled Banner, McGrupp and the Watchful Hosemasters, While My Guitar Gently Weaps

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596 Responses to “A Fox Fantasy”

  1. Mr. Completely Says:

    @Mug – have a great time – I wish I could be there this weekend, perhaps we’ll be able to meet up at the Gorge one of those days.

  2. BrandonKayda Says:

    Fromthetub – That Gener set looks sick from the other night. Laura and Don’t Sweat It? Awesome.

    I’m trying to see Ween at Ram’s Head in Baltimore this summer. Last time I saw them in Baltimore they closed with a 12-minute Guava>Mushroom Festival. It was insane.

  3. Mugician Says:

    Eeek… I’ve found my tickets, but am now realizing that it’s Father’s day this weekend.


  4. fromthetub Says:

    @BrandonK – that’s cool! Yeah, the show was sick. So much fun. Listening to Ween right now. Had to listen to “Hey There Fancy Pants” after Nonyolker brought it up earlier. My understanding is that fall will be their 25 year anniversary tour. Could that be right?

    Sorry, I said I was going to get to work. Going to try to do that now.

  5. Stupendous Says:

    @ Mr C – thanks for that detailed and invigorating description of the music scene in portland….very refreshing when compared to the music scene that surrounds me, which is virtually non existent. Interesting story about outlaw life > web Dev. wish I couldve been there from the ground up then it wouldn’t be so intimidating and overwhelming… Im just such a right brainer…I know you prob r too cause you need both to be a dev/progrmr…I feel like ive purposely have travelled miles from my left…i cnt seem to find it…
    @FromtheTub- how long have u been a graphic designer for?

  6. fromthetub Says:

    hey Stupendous… since 1994. I have to say, I’m almost ready for the next thing because I’ve been doing what I do for so long.

  7. Summer98 Says:

    Reggae opener…….

  8. BrandonKayda Says:

    They weren’t touring in 84′, so no. It’d be like they’re 18th I think.

    Tub-If you email me at bkayda@gmail.com I can get you a bunch of ween bootlegs. I was into them way before I listened to Phish, they’re probably my favorite band.

  9. Twiggy Says:

    20 Year Reunion was in ’03, so Fall would be 26, right?

  10. Stupendous Says:

    Just listened to the Halley’s last night… thought that Trey’s playing was very interesting…almost reminiscent of a jerr-berr. Enjoyed the improv, only wish it would have given me more time to dig it as a groove landscape…
    feeling like the uber-zone is being forced and its uninspired…Page is using the same synth tone for it, which some may argue, Trey used the delay loop everytime on the uber zone in 97-00, he did but he was making his own feedback/whammy/boomerang tapestry…handmade, therefore always different.
    In Page’s case (and dont get me wrong, i love page’s playing a hell of a lot and i even love that synth sound he is, as i’m stating, over-indulging in) he’s messing with the oscillators & LFO’s on a synth tone to controll that vibration on that sound… which is cool but he seems to be using the same patch every night it doent sound like a new toy or “sound”… It did when Round Room came about (2.0) and if i recall correctly back then he used to have more variaions on the tone that he would “spin” or “vibrate” it wouldnt always be the same sound patch… Just an observation….not hate.
    Im in heaven tourinig remoteley.

  11. BrandonKayda Says:


    I’m pretty sure he was talking about Ween, not Phish.

    Anybody know any live streams for tonight?

  12. Stupendous Says:

    Whos got my heady stream?!?!

  13. Summer98 Says:

    When I was an undergraduate (started in 1995), I hung out with these guys from Staten Island that were way into Ween. They really turned me onto them. I returned the favor and turned them onto Phish. We went to Rochester ’97 show together, their first Phish show and ….. Roses are Free. It was one of those moments when things to seem align just right in the world. Then of course Phish blew the roof off that place. Still one of my all-time favorite shows.

  14. Summer98 Says:

    Golgi, chalkdust to open. The energy must be there!!

  15. Col4bin Says:

    Starlake is in a remote location, I’m wondering how good his signal is…

  16. Mr. Completely Says:

    nice start to this one, yeah – standard but should be good energy for the room

  17. Mr. Completely Says:

    bouncin, cue the haters drinkin’ the haterade

  18. Twiggy Says:

    Ween it is. Roses at DC please!

  19. BC Says:

    Any links to a good stream?

  20. fikus22 Says:

    good stream anyone?

  21. Col4bin Says:

    people are telling him to go to the lawn for a better signal, yea right like he’s gonna go to the lawn for us. lol

  22. Summer98 Says:

    I know Divided Sky isn’t a huge jam vehicle but man I really love the song. That Gorge ’97 version is just sensational and I’ll never forget being at the Clifford Ball (my hometown!). The song just always brings me to such a happy place.

  23. Summer98 Says:

    Do you see this, I’ve managed to refrain from commenting on this site for a year, and now this. Back to work…..

  24. FN Always Says:

    is there a stream available somewhere…i have never listened to a streamed phish show and i would love to try it out!

    : )

  25. Doc Says:

    Whoa – Walk Away!

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