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. Leo Weaver Says:

    Anndddd…affirmative on the twist…

    BTW, ‘preciate the headphone info fellas…

  2. Summer 98 Says:

    Looks like they are delivering at Deer Creek, of course. It must be a bit like a homecoming for them!

  3. kevin are hollo Says:


    i must have danced by you (grey v neck tee and checkerboard vans, doing high kicks and pirouettes) a dozen times in the hallway….

  4. dub Says:

    sounds like tweezer is hitting some ambient stuff right now > 2001

  5. Wax Banks Says:

    Decided to attend Star Lake on a whim (couldn’t sell tix, wife enjoyed the vacation from me). Energetic, largely pedestrian first set – great Wolf, Tube (but we know Page can rock the clav – kind of a so what, I’m afraid).

    DWD and Piper both ended too early as I recall – Trey kicked in motherfucking Free to de-ball the Disease, and Piper sputtered. I skipped the encore to stay sharp on my hourlong drive to the hotel. Totally worth the 10 hour drive each way, but fuuuuuuuuuuck, I miss the sweet sweet Type II mayhem of yore. Looking forward to hearing tonight’s show – gorgeous setlist…

  6. kevin are hollo Says:

    ahh waxxy, it sounds like you and i are “hall in solace” together.

    props for making that marathon drive, and hope you got to grab a little magic here and there despite the fizzles and the frazzles.

    i’m writing triscuit a long letter.

    not really sure what it’s going to say.

    it will have smiley faces and hearts on the ‘i’s though.

  7. butter Says:

    @kev—yep thats where is was, purple polo, brown shorts, big watch, big guy

  8. kevin are hollo Says:

    i was right behind and in front of the soundboard, freaking on ushers and security alike.

    there was one sweet little lady, must have been pushing 70, and she was dancing her ass off. no holds barred, eyes closed, hands in the air dancing.

    made my whole night…

  9. andrewrose Says:

    @ Wax Banks… “Totally worth the 10 hour drive each way, but fuuuuuuuuuuck, I miss the sweet sweet Type II mayhem of yore.” This is what I’m sayin’.

    So is the Connection the Stones’ song?? Drug / arrest reference, anyone? “My bags they get a very close inspection…”

  10. butter Says:

    yea she was sweet, i was a little to the stage left of her and left of the sound board and you , with my indian friend, that sweet lady must have been a little left of you?

  11. Wax Banks Says:

    @andrewrose –

    So is the Connection the Stones’ song?? Drug / arrest reference, anyone? “My bags they get a very close inspection…”

    Presumably the underrated Undermind tune. Speaking of which: would love to hear the boys tear ‘Crowd Control’ a new one.

  12. EJ Says:


    It’s actually off Undermind.

  13. EJ Says:

    Sleeping Monkey bust out

    I was actually listening to SM today, from Halloween ’98….after that mondo-sized Wolfman’s.

  14. butter Says:

    @kev, was that you near the blond dready girl with a cap on you were groovin with for while

  15. Wax Banks Says:

    Shit, was the second set even half as good as that tasty setlist? I’m shitting myself here!

  16. kevin are hollo Says:


    i tried to show them how slow you can dance to “boogie on” but they just smiled and shook their heads.

    “but you’re much to fast for me….”

  17. nonoyolker Says:

    Holy shit, they busted out Possum!!! Been waiting all tour!
    Seriously, that ASIHTOS> Drowned > Twist and then Tweezer > 2001 looks scrumph on paper. Any feedback in real time (Bauer-steeze)?

  18. butter Says:

    thats pretty funny cuz, i clearly remember you, there are not too many people that spin, turn or do pirouettes to phish. I jumped down to your end a few times and was spinnin like a with you two.

  19. Mr. Completely Says:

    nice, a close encounter!

  20. kevin are hollo Says:

    wish we could’ve chatted, butter.

    met a few nice cats, hung at the fellowship table for a bit.

    asked one of them if they ever get tired of manning the table and feel a need to bust a move.

    dude said, “not to time turns elastic.”

    i said, “what about reba?”

    dude: “it’s too hard to dance to those jazz sections.”

    tried to give a few lessons later in the show 🙂

  21. Mr. Completely Says:

    I’ve never been able to understand how all you people are able to NOT spin at phish shows. The current takes me and next thing I know – gone

    dancing to those sliding, interlocking grooves in composed stuff is bliss when you hit it, never forget the first time I made it thru the yem section that’s in 17s or whateverthefuck that is, exactly. a heady moment

  22. kevin are hollo Says:


    i’m writing a book (in my mind) on how to dance to difficult music.

    my wife thinks i’m gay.

  23. butter Says:

    yea, correct me if i’m wrong but i don’t think anyone was spinning on Phish tour till about 92ish? I jumped on in 94 over from gd. Alot of the core phish kids were calling the people spinning the “rock stars”. One of my bro’s who jumped over from gd in the late 80’s used to catch all kinds of shit from dead heads and the hilarious thing is alot of the people who were baggin on him have come over one by one.

  24. kevin are hollo Says:

    “a brief history of dance in the phish community”

    nice paper.

  25. Mr. Completely Says:

    i saw dudes trying to spin @ the cats cradle in 91 but there was no room so ppl were having none of it – more of a jaws-on-the-floor scene anyway

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