6.19.09 Official Poster

6.19.09 Official Deer Creek Poster

Finally- IT Happened.  Amidst a deluge and lightening storms surpassing the intensity of Raleigh ’97, the first real Phish show of the modern era happened at Deer Creek last night.  While Camden ushered in the band’s new age, Deer Creek’s 2009 edition will be forever remembered as the night that all things truly came together.  For two complete sets, Phish improvised their way through an epic evening that will forever be embedded in the annals of the band’s history.  After a couple of shaky shows, Phish delivered by absolutely slaughtering their one night in the cornfields with the most impressive group jamming of current times.

Menacing nature mixed with sinister Phish in a to-die-for second set that was delayed an hour due to severe weather danger.  As the set was due to start, a stage announcement asked everyone on the lawn to return to their cars due to the danger of lightening, and come back at eleven for the start of the second half; and boy was that a good idea.  As the lawn cleared the skies opened in a biblical sized storm with bolts of lightening that are still imprinted in on the back of our brains.  The stage equipment was covered and the left speaker stack lowered, while fans squeezed into the pavilion for what turned out to be a ninety-plus minute setbreak / rain delay.   But as promised, the tarps came off just before eleven and the stage lights began to glow.  As the rock and roll adage goes, “The show must go on!”- and go on it did.  Following the most improvised and adventurous first set of tour, everyone knew Phish would throw down something big- but what actually happened was far beyond anyone’s dreams.


6.18.09 Star Lake (D.Vann)

6.18.09 Star Lake (D.Vann)

Musically referencing the monsoon with the opening “A Song I Heard The Ocean Sing,” this time we knew it was for real.  After a succinct guitar-based version in Knoxville, when the band dropped into the song this time, it had the aura of  greatness- and that would turn out to be the understatement of the year.  Peaking the heavy rock jam, the band briefly returned to the song’s theme before moving out into the deepest piece improv we’ve heard yet.  Without having listened back to the show, as I type in the car on the way to Alpine, I’ll go right ahead and say that this was IT; this is what I’ve been waiting for.  In a voyage of open-ended improv, the band naturally flowed through several stages of searing psychedelia.  This is the jam we’ve all been awaiting since the song was busted wide open at SPAC ’04.  Dark and exploratory, this version grew hugely ominous before Phish slipped out of the abstract textures and into “Drowned.”


6.18.09 (D.Vann)

6.18.09 (D.Vann)

Continuing the aquatic theme, Phish tore apart The Who cover with a ridiculously dynamic jam that also grew beyond its confines into the realm of the other.  Breaking down the improv with some rhythm chops, Trey helped bring the normally confined piece into unstructured territory as the band, again, took the improvisational plunge, stepping onto the precipice with another musical risk and succeeding.  As the band finished their thoughts, Trey ripped into the opening of “Twist.”- the final piece of this mind-bending puzzle.  Taking the vehicle far beyond its composed groove, we were knee deep in the most psychedelic set in eons.  “Oceans > Drowned > Twist”- put that in your pipe and smoke it. 

6.18.09 (D.Vann)

6.18.09 (D.Vann)

After a perfectly placed “Let Me Lie,” Phish brought the house down with the opening of “Tweezer.”  The over-crowded pavilion exploded as the band went for the jugular with a late set dance odyssey.  Splashing into the jam with some of the tour’s first earnest rhythm grooves, the band got dirty before stepping into the build of this “Tweezer.”  And once they started to climb, the band brought this jam to a glorious peak, yet the peak of the jam was hardly the end.  Phish delicately brought the music outwards into a layered ambient section that seemed heading for the stars.  Before too long, Fishman hit the snare and we spun into a sublime “2001.” Crafting a late-set transition that fed the craving of even the largest Phish-crack junkies, “Tweezer > 2001” was pure, unadulterated bliss.

Carrying the massive energy of the lightening-laced peak, Phish crashed into “Suzy,” putting a fun exclamation point on the second sky-scraping jam sequence of the set.  Although it seemed like an “Antelope” was lurking just around the corner all night long, this wouldn’t have been Phish 2009 without a “Possum” closer.  With the wave of energy cresting in the amphitheatre, Phish tore apart the set closer with an aggressive gusto that hasn’t engulfed every version this tour.

6.18.09 (D.Vann)

6.18.09 (D.Vann)

Reserved for slots following extraordinary Phish madness, the band broke out a “Sleeping Monkey” encore for the first time since returning, showing us that they felt exactly the same as we did about our night at The Creek.  Blowing out the show’s ending with a surreal “Reprise,” crackling bolts of lightening surrounded the stage, as the heavens once again split open, bringing on a storm every bit as intense as the one that delayed the show.  As the no-brainer show of tour came to a close, everyone who was there knew they had been a part of IT, and everyone glowed in post-show revelry.  In a most-unique scene, very few people left the pavilion for about a half an hour as the venue allowed us to let the storm pass before braving the outdoors.  It took on the feel of a post-show party, and we didn’t even have to go anywhere!  People mingled about, smoking and joking, as the wind and rain scoured every inch of land that wasn’t covered by the pavilion- a crazy end to a most crazy evening.

And that is just half the show!  The first set was by far the most impressive opening frame of the tour with improvisation galore.  Highlights included an incredible “Split Open” that popped up for the first time since Jones Beach, the first jammed-out “Stealing Time From the Faulty Plan,” and the surprise appearance of Undermind’s “The Connection” that saw the band improvise a Dead-esque, noodly groove.  “Ocelot” appeared in its grandest form yet- an addictive song that continues to grow with each appearance.  And to close the set, Phish pulled a “Fluffhead” out of nowhere that brought a triumphant arrival to a set that foreshadowed the greatness to follow.

With only Alpine left to go, Phish has two more nights on their opening leg of summer.  And by the looks of things, our two nights in dairy land could bring some of the best nights yet.

I: Backward Down The Number Line, AC/DC Bag, Limb By Limb, The Moma Dance, Water In The Sky, Split Open and Melt, Lawn Boy, The Wedge, Stealing Time From The Faulty Plan, The Connection, Ocelot, Fluffhead

II: A Song I Heard The Ocean Sing > Drowned > Twist, Let Me Lie, Tweezer > 2001 > Suzy Greenberg, Possum

E: Sleeping Monkey, Tweezer Reprise

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262 Responses to “Finally!”

  1. Whole Tour! Says:

    it’s easy to forget that the music is only a part of the experience of seeing the boys live. Nothing beats that feeling of being at a show. It’s really hard to judge the merits of a show by looking at a setlist of even hearing the recordings alone. There are huge undertones of the experience that won’t translate to tape. that being in the “now” type thing dosen’t cross the bridge onto tape unfortunately. That’s why each person’s experiences at the shows will differ vastly than people, like me, who are listening to the recordings of the shows i can’t make it to.

  2. Whole Tour! Says:

    every version of suzy and possum has been different and killer. I don’t think they are being overplayed, but rather being power tweaked.

  3. ColonelJoy Says:

    I’m even liking the possum….they bring it down nice and quiet in the middle.

    Even though they are over-played now, I don’t think I would have been bummed.

  4. voopa Says:

    Just listened to Fluffhead and the second set…fluff nearly fell completely apart a couple times, but they got back on it- yikes! The second set is great. Love it. Even Let Me Lie is more tolerable in a Phish setting…seems less self indulgent. Hearing the sheer joy throughout this set is something that was definitely missing in most of 00, 03 and 04.

    Mike’s singing the “yeah yeah yeah” part on Suzy again! All is right with the world. I no longer want to sing “in fact it’s getting pretty lame” during Monkey anymore. Yeah!

  5. voopa Says:

    Yeah, Col., forgot to mention that about Possum- quiet jam, and fanning too- hard to beat!

  6. Bobby Caplewood Says:

    Why no Pebbles? Anyone find that odd. I love the Pebbles from IT…

  7. albert walker Says:

    the way this set falls from new school style jamming with the oceans > Drowned > Twist

    and ends with what could be 1988 Suzy Possum Sleeping Monkey

    there was a lot of thought and care taken into this 2nd set start to finish and IMO they pulled it off

    let’s build on that for tonight (Sneakin Sally anyone?)

  8. Whole Tour! Says:

    anyone else catch that they did both Sally’s at bonnaroo?
    mustang sally
    sneaking sally

  9. Whole Tour! Says:

    scratch that…i must have hallucinated “sneaking sally”

  10. Wax Banks Says:


    A side note about critisism –

    Miner shits on a mediocre nite in St Lou = People freak out, say he is too critical

    Miner praises what looks like a sick show in a corn patch = Miner gets shit on for “ejaculating in his review”

    Give the guy a fucking break already. Guy does way more than anyone else in the community.

    Oh come on, pal.

    ‘Way more than anyone else in…’ is a ludicrous overstatement best passed over with rolled eyes. As for the rest, my issue with Miner’s writing is that it’s sloppy, imprecise, repetitive, terminologically and technically naive, and uncritical hagiography (which, as mentioned, I keep thinking is something else – one of my big flaws as a reader and discussant), and for all Miner’s good-hearted desire to share the music and all, he’s prone to lose all perspective in the after-show glow. I was gladdened by his willingness to criticize the Fox show, though I think his identity and personal hype overpowered his discernment in that one; it’s the weakest show of tour so far, yes, but Phish would be the first to say that what Miner wanted out of the show had nothing to do with their plans and felt obligations. Miner mythologized the show in his mind, it didn’t live up to his expectations – well, that’s not surprising. The show didn’t have anything to do with his expectations.

    If the commentariat went after him for that Fox post, it’s got next to nothing to do with ‘criticism’; it was the same disappointment on a larger scale. Messengers have been shot on a pretty regular basis throughout history. That’s why the folks in the know prefer to think about things a while and let the serfs do the actual news-bearing-and-then-getting-shot.

    As I’ve said, Miner’s taste in Phish, with the benefit of a few weeks’ or months’ hindsight, tends to be excellent – but he’s not good at articulating why he has that taste or grounding it in aesthetic principles, at least not on this blog. And his as-it-all-happens posting is a mixed fucking bag. I can’t speak for anyone else here, obviously, but that’s my beef here. Not to aggrandize myself by comparison or anything, just to explain my outbursts.

    [BTW – It was Trey who brought the Fox ‘Slave’ prematurely down to earth, though I think I can follow his reasoning for doing so.]

  11. Whole Tour! Says:

    ^ huh?

  12. Whole Tour! Says:

    can you retype that in english please?

  13. ColonelJoy Says:


    I’ve finished my listen. The first half of set II definately had some old-school moments, as far as the jamming goes. Even the Suzy-Possum closer couldn’t tarnish the end of the set.

    But, it isn’t off the charts better than Ashville or Camden, about equal with them, but those were very good shows, and so is this one.

  14. Whole Tour! Says:

    and when i say english….i mean amy winehouse/monty python type olde english.

  15. Whole Tour! Says:

    english that would make keith richards proud!

  16. albert walker Says:

    @ Wax

    Give Miner a little break here. He is posting this shot spun in a car after a torrential down pour and not from listening to the tapes.
    He’s just throwing out his experience of someone on tour every night and what he feels

    he is not a musician, but a fan, and one who has been on the bus for a while. it’s not a formal critique but an opinion of an experience

    I was an english major (many moons ago) and find the gushing superlatives to be quite entertaining (although maybe not accurate)

    also from meeting him in the past he likes to keep the music message positive
    kinda a if you don’t have anything nice to say kind of vibe which as I get older I kind of respect

  17. ColonelJoy Says:

    Look folks, Wax can write. Not his fault you can’t read.

    I consider myself a writer, though in general my prose sucks here in these little bites.

    Wax taught me a new word today: hagiography

    When I meet him I’ll thank him for it. He uses it perfectly too. Look Wax, now I’m agrandizing you.

  18. ColonelJoy Says:

    It isn’t like Wax is being disrespectful to Miner. Indeed, the fact that he is a frequent poster indicates sincere respect.

  19. Whole Tour! Says:

    in all seriousness…i just don’t tend to get very serious when it comes to being critical of the phish experience. maybe that is what happened when something i loved was taken away for 5 years. I now just appreciate it for what it is. It’s not a math equation or physics theory. It’s good times and good music. “jumbled events that have less than no worth.” Sometimes in being to critical one loses sight of the bigger picture. It is hard for anyone who wasn’t actually at any of these shows to offer hyper critical assessments. I appreciate miner’s viewpoints because he was actually at ALL these shows. He sees the bigger picture. For the fact that no phish show can be put into words, i think he does a fine job of describing what went down.

  20. nonoyolker Says:

    @ wax, i stopped reading after the first few lines. He isn’t writing a dicertation, he is putting together an account of a show HE JUST SAW! After a show, i am usually spun and need a serious amount of sleep. He is reporting on the scene, as its happening. Not writing a fucking novel. Get a grip.

  21. DaNcInG fOoL Says:

    wax banks im waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay more interested in reading your thoughts on the show(s) than reading your pointless criticism of miners review

  22. ColonelJoy Says:

    Okay, I am so fucking tired, it’s out of control. I haven’t slept well in many nights. I better go.

    Good Night Old Friends

  23. nonoyolker Says:

    @ Colonel, i wish there was a type-icon for a salute. Rest well homey, thanks for the good commentary.

  24. nonoyolker Says:

    Up to the SOAM now, hearing some serious Shamu… I grew up a whalers fan and before they skipped town, there was a “Save the whale” campaign. Love to cross out the “save”, replace w/ “KILL” and make a t-shirt.

  25. c0wfunk Says:

    I feel like ending w/ suzy g & possum is a bit of a way to say “yeah it’s overplayed and yeah we love it .. deal w/ it” 🙂

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