The Starry Night

6.18.09 Star Lake Official Poster

6.18.09 Star Lake Official Poster

As Phish pulled into Star Lake, one of their hallowed summer sheds, last night, things felt like they were back to normal.  After the irregular indoor and festival shows of the south, it felt good to be back at a “regular” summer show.  And when Phish stepped to bat in the second set, it seemed that they felt the same way.  Creating a feel-good melange of improv that left everyone walking out with a smile, Phish played a set centered on jams rather than songs, a trend that is more than welcome among their fan base. Despite rather sloppy composed playing by Trey all night- we watched a “Bowie” fall to pieces in front of our eyes- the improvisation carried this show, and in the end, the jams are what count.  And that is why we’ll be listening to this second set quite a bit in between tours.

Phish @ The Fox (D.Vann)

Phish @ The Fox (D.Vann)

Leading off with “Disease,” an improvisational adventure was impending as the band played tightly through the song and far out into other territory in what turned into the highlight of the show, and one of the most engaging jams of the tour.  Moving beyond the composed jam for quite some time, Phish explored some darker places before twisting the jam into a similar ambient-groove that has been popping up all tour.  Following a dissonant and drone path, this murky improv morphed into the intro to “Free.”  While an appropriate and bombastic landing point for this course of improv, it has been avshame to see “Free” cut into a jamless song this summer after having being the staple of so much past summer funk.  At this point the bass bombs move directly into Trey’s guitar solo, leaving any full-band improvisation behind.  Maybe they’ll stretch one out at Alpine- though I doubt it.

6.16.09 (D.Vann)

6.16.09 (D.Vann)

After an oddly placed “Guyute,” Phish put the pedal back on the creative metal, launching into the tour’s second “Piper.”  Ready and willing to take another musical risk, the band laid it out in a jam that covered diverse territory.  Certainly exploratory, the band took the jam beyond it’s conventions, even building into a slower groove for a bit.  “Piper’s” musical trapeze act took several twists and turns before settling into into a mid-set rest in “Circus.”  But a brief rest it was as the band dropped into another fantastic “Harry Hood.”  This song has been completely revitalized this summer, and each time its reggae rhythms drop, we know we are in for a soul-searching adventure.  Once again taking the “song-of-tour” candidate on a delicate and triumphant journey, Phish crushed their magnificent classic with another unique path to the mountaintop.

6.16.09 (D.Vann)

6.16.09 (D.Vann)

Following “Squirming Coil,” the band didn’t take a bow, leaving time for one more monster.  After a few moments of silence, the opening of “YEM” sang through the pavilion; the perfect cap on a “Disease-Piper-Hood” set.  By far the most impressive rendition of the summer, the band blew up a vintage set-closing version of the song whose precise grooves and high-energy peaks were just what the doctor ordered.  Providing an all-out dance-fest to close the night, everyone was on a high for the goofy encore that saw Fishman perform his first song of 3.0- Syd Barret’s “Bike.”

Kicking off their four night run with a strong effort in Burgettstown, Phish and their travelling circus now head west to Noblesville and the cornfields of Deer Creek.  Looking to build on the last three weeks, the next three shows potentially represent the most exciting nights of tour.  And if the past is any indication, at Deer Creek and Alpine, anything is possible!

1st set note: Arguably the best versions of “Wolfman’s” and “Tube” since the comeback.

I: Golgi Apparatus, Chalk Dust Torture, Bouncing Around The Room, Wolfman’s Brother, The Divided Sky, Heavy Things, Walk Away, Wilson, Tube, Alaska, David Bowie

II: Down With Disease > Free, Guyute, Piper > When The Circus Comes To Town, Harry Hood, The Squirming Coil, You Enjoy Myself

E: Grind, Hello My Baby, Hold Your Head Up > Bike > Hold Your Head Up, Loving Cup

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209 Responses to “The Starry Night”

  1. empire01 Says:

    I have not caught up on my listening, last thing I heard was the roo late night..In a way I don’t want to listen to too much phish some come August I will be more excited to hear them. there is definitely alot of repeats more than I remember seeing on past tours.. that starlake poster looks crappy I have not seen any good official posters since the hampton ones..whats up with that?

  2. Dr SF Jones Says:

    I was thinking about this after the Slave from the Fox and now after hearing the Bowie from last night, i thought i would throw it out there.

    Maybe in the future there exists a “Quantum Leap/ Being John Malkovich” type of thrill ride that involves people being able to transport themselves back to the Summer 2009 Phish Tour and spend 10 seconds or so on stage as Trey. Maybe they have security measures in place to ensure that the people “leaping” into Trey actually know how to play the guitar and no one in the present day will know of their enterprise, but somehow the company in the future got duped by some guys who fooled them into thinking they could handle the ending of Slave and that part in Bowie where Trey “disappeared.” But obviously they have know been found out…
    who knows?

    Just a thought.

  3. andrewrose Says:

    And ok, just so nobody thinks I’m entirely jaded and unexcited, here’s a list of songs which by my account, haven’t been played in a long while, and which I’d be pysched to see.


    Llama (this seems like an explicit shelving.. to be saved for a Gamehendge, perhaps?)
    Sleeping Monkey
    What’s the Use / My Left Toe (I loved this Siket Disc stuff in 99, think it would work well with 3.0)
    Round Room


    Funky Bitch
    Rocky Top
    Roses Are Free
    Sneakin’ Sally Through the Alley

    On the “somewhat less realistic, but if they bust these covers out and I’m not there I’ll be pissed” list:

    Peaches En Regalia
    Purple Rain
    Psycho Killer
    Ramble On

  4. SJC Says:

    “And ok, just so nobody thinks I’m entirely jaded and unexcited”….
    do whatever it takes to get to a show in August. The whole experience should INSTANTLY erase any doubts you have about this band.

  5. KRS8 Says:

    Trey’s “whale” tone reminds me of some of Robert Fripp’s playing.

    With Trey, when it’s on I dig it, but he seems to get in front of the band too much and they are unable to follow.

  6. SOAM Says:

    Dr jones-you are proof that the weed in CALI RULES

  7. Summer98 Says:

    I’ve often thought that some of the intricate composed sections of songs like Bowie would give the band problems as they age and spend less time together. By all accounts, there is at least some family traveling with them, which is great for morale and keeping the show on the on the road, but probably not so good for the kind of continuous playing I know they used to do. The tight composed sections take a ton of practice. The jams take a ton of practice to develop that connection and listening skill.

    What I do really like, that went away fast at the end of ’04, is it sounds like they are having fun. As long as they are having fun, they will continue to get better because that will drive them. If it becomes “a burden” again the improvement will stop. That is the key, and is why they’ve taken this family approach: the fun is more sustainable this way. The downside is that it will take them longer to get back up to speed because there are other things going on that are arguably more important, at least from their point of view.

  8. Dr SF Jones Says:

    @SOAM- I was waiting for something like that. Thanks. LOL

  9. HarryHood Says:

    Something I’ve been pondering on………

    I love that we critique the band. It give us something to talk about, and it’s great that we all have such an appreciation for the music that we can pick apart all the goods and bads to the last minor detail.

    That said, I think that comparing 3.0 to the late 90’s era is like comparing apples and oranges. Someone said earlier that their playing now may have more to do with their lives off stage and that is a really good point. I’m sure that when they were younger and less committed to family issues, there was a lot more time spent with each other getting fucked up and joking around about what crazy shit they were gonna pull at the next show. Now, it’s not uncommon to see them walking around town with their families pre-show and being “normal adults”. (God I hate saying that). But really, that has to impact what goes on onstage. I think they are just more committed now to coming out each night and putting on a good show. Instead of the band being their lives, it’s only just a part of it now. Personally, I’m just glad to be able to see them again in whatever form it is…….

  10. Mugician Says:

    I need a seed or three on Star-lake torrents. Anyone wanna help out (please)? Thanks!

  11. Leo Weaver Says:

    @Summer98…off topic and I meant to ask yesterday, how’s business out there??? Last guy I laid off (in January) contacted 165 firms all over the country before landing so much as an interview…it’s in Seattle. I hate to lose him as he’s supremely talented, but wished him the best when he told me about his ‘view. If he gets a job, I think he’ll really enjoy working out there.

  12. Mr. Completely Says:

    oregon outdoor organic > cali schwilli

    j/k it’s all good

    very good discussion here so far today. interesting that I agree with almost everything stated even though people aren’t actually in agreement with each other :o)

    I feel like the band is 2 steps from being where we dream of them being. One step in consistency of composed sections. Another in jamming – both distance travelled and frequency of.

    I’ll be very happy if we get one or the other by end of summer. These things take time.

    I enjoy the fiery, contained jamming that is the theme of the tour thus far, but agree that I’d love to see a lot more jams on the Ghost/Sand scale.

    Patience furthers.

    PDX/Pac NW peeps: If I host a get together weekend of 7/11 in PDX, how many would come? Undecided, undefined…but possible

  13. youenjoy09 Says:

    @Mr.C – Sounds like fun and I would love to come but will be at the coast that weekend….

  14. Phamily Berzerker Says:

    No Freebird yet, right?

    I am hoping for Ride Captain Ride at Red Rocks. The missus loves her some Pageus McConnellus on the pianous.

    I myself could stand for a Whipping Post with Fish on the fretless ala Telluride ’91.

    Of course, I welcome the inclusion of any new covers added to repetoire.

    I concur whole-heartedly with the creedo that it is better to have Phish back and not thoroughly enjoy it than to recall fond memories and experiences of days gone-by with no more Phish.

    I was the loudmouth at Hampton shouting “I am so fucking glad, this band is back!” I meant it then and still feel it now. For those who don’t, I can’t imagine what you are still doing paying attention/following the band.

    I, for one, welcome our musical overlords!

  15. youenjoy09 Says:

    and let’s hope Phish is JAMMING by the time the Gorge rolls around…. I am incredibly optimistic

  16. Summer98 Says:

    @Leo The big firms that do broad civil work and have a foundation in public infrastructure are doing fine, not necessarily expanding but not contracting either. I’m in structural engineering and there are a few firms that were heavily invested in the high-rise condo market that have taken a real hit. The structural firms that are more focused on healthcare or education facilities, or seismic retrofit, are still doing pretty well. I’m plugged into the environmental engineering side of things at all.

    Total nerd conversation for this board.

    @Mr C.
    I’d be a maybe. I’d have to make a weekend out of it coming from SEA and the wife and I are doing a ton of weekend warrior work on our house right now.

  17. Leo Weaver Says:

    ^^^what Mr. C said…

  18. Mugician Says:

    Good morning everyone. Could someone seed my set two download? Hope everything’s good in the ‘hood over here, I gotta run off with a pretty lady to the mountains today.

  19. Leo Weaver Says:

    Thanks Summer98…just curious, about the same here. OK, done with the nerd talk…

  20. Mr. Completely Says:

    as certified contrarian and fan of Seis De Mayo I was fully expecting to dig the orchestral TTE.

    not so much, though

    well, I tried. and nice effort, Red. like the acoustic version tho.

  21. Mugician Says:

    Oh, before I go: Mr. Completely, which night of and how many tickets to the Gorge are you looking for?

  22. hooks Says:

    enjoying reading everyone’s insightful posts on my lunch break today. i knew late summer contrasted to what I got to see in early summer would be awesome, but now I wish I had tix even more. not exactly in the cards. but maybe that will change…

  23. Mr. Completely Says:

    @Mug – things just clarified for me a lot – I now need 2 tickets to 8/8 (sat). One for an old friend who just committed to coming, one for my son. Thanks for asking. I’d love to pick them up from someone here for face, but if not I can get them from stubhub or whatever – they’re being sold in pairs.

  24. Mugician Says:

    Well, heh, I have one for 8/7… sorry I can’t help ya out! Good luck, and maybe I’ll see ya there!

  25. themanatee Says:

    @completely –

    i would certainly try and make it to a gathering. i am on coast on the tenth, but will try to be there when its on!

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