Finishing With A Bang

6.20.09 Alpine Valley (D. Vann)

6.20.09 Alpine Valley (D. Vann)

Phish ended their first leg of Summer ’09 in style, playing a second set filled with psychedelic exploration, and composing a masterful final stanza to cap their month of June. Completing a three-week tour at Alpine Valley, the band treated Sunday night’s crowd to a complete show whose second set will stand up against anything from this run. Complimenting Saturday’s upbeat show, the band erupted with darker improvisation in their final performance, leaving us with a gem to listen to during the five weeks off.

6.20.09 (D.Vann)

6.20.09 (D.Vann)

Coming out for their last set of the tour, “Crosseyed and Painless” was the last thing anyone expected to hear, and when they band broke out the cover to the roar of the crowd, everyone knew it was on. Taking a trek through searing percussive grooves, Phish completely killed the Talking Head’s cover as the entire band was taped in to the source. Exiting the verse and entering one of the tightest and most exciting pieces of tour, the band stretched out the rock grooves before launching into a purposeful and directed ambient jam, putting an exclamation point on the several ambient excursions of the tour. Stretching the psychedelia further than previous trips, Phish never lost their cohesion as they built a multi-layered piece of standout improv. Morphing seamlessly into the muddy bass intro to “Disease,” Phish pulled off a memorable transition as they stepped into their staple jam. The band combined two impressive explorations, ripping “Disease” every bit as cohesively as “Crosseyed,” and molding one of the most magnetic musical segments of the summer. Bringing the “Disease” jam “out” as well, Phish put together a textured palette as they wound their way into another abstract piece of aural art. Taking their classic vehicle in a distinctly ’09 direction, the band continued to carve out their newest sound- tightly wound jams releasing into ambient soundscapes. Out of “Disease,” Phish’s improvisational adventure dropped into “Bug,” a song that served as soaring mid-set landing point and whose ending was extended with a subtle pass into “Piper.”

6.20.09 (D.Vann)

6.20.09 (D.Vann)

Quickly adhering to the nights exploratory theme, “Piper’s” jam developed into a speed-funk excursion, led by Trey’s aggressive rhythm chops and Fishman’s driving beats. Riding a rhythmic roller coaster, Trey began to bend his notes, bringing the jam in a more laid-back direction as Page stepped up to complement his playing. Locked together, the band established a layered canvas on which Trey began to solo with ethereal lead melodies. The band progressed into a dense concluding part of the jam, heavily strewn with effects from each band member. With this abstract segment that could have sprang from somewhere deep in Summer ’95, the band concluded their jaunt with a poignant piano transition into “Velvet Sea.” The emotional ballad signified the impending end of tour, but as soon as anyone felt slightly bittersweet, the band picked the vibe right back up with the “dready-mama funk” of “Boogie On Reggae Woman.” A song that has brought thick bass effects and hot clav solos to the table for most of the tour, did just that, adding a spunky moment before Phish dramatically closed their set with a phenomenal “Slave.” The band took their time to nail their chosen farewell jam, building slowly and impeccably into a triumphant punctuation to an amazing set of Phish.

"Brother" 6.21.09 (B.Frye)

"Brother" 6.21.09 (B.Frye)

Last night’s first set was centered around the compositional side of Phish, highlighting “Divided Sky,” “The Man Who Stepped Into Yesterday” and “Time Turns Elastic.” The rocking first half of the frame saw the summer debuts of “Funky Bitch”- as a response to a fan’s sign- and “Brother”- played as a Father’s Day shout out with all of Phish’s kids comically sitting in a bathtub at the front of the stage. Yet, the most compelling aspect of the set was how the band tied together a string of more tender songs to close it out. Flowing naturally between “Horse > Silent,” “TMWSIY,” and “Time Turns Elastic,” the band created a mellower and intricate vibe to the second half of the set. Well-placed as a first set closer, especially in this context, “Time Turns Elastic,” came across better than the its previous mid-second set incarnations, and brought the set to a different sort of peak.

Capping off three-weeks on the road, Phish will have plenty of time to rest up for their late-summer run, and we’ll have plenty of time to break down what has happened over the course of the band’s first full tour in years. In the five weeks before Red Rocks, we will discuss, analyze, and investigate all the musical mayhem that has fully back returned to our lives. The future looks promising for our Fab Four, and we are all lucky to be a part of it.  Much more to come in the upcoming days….as for now, I’m signing off. Miner- over and out.

I: Brother, Wolfman’s Brother, Funky Bitch, The Divided Sky, Joy, Back On The Train, Taste, Poor Heart, The Horse > Silent in the Morning, The Man Who Stepped Into Yesterday > Avenu Malkanu > The Man Who Stepped Into Yesterday, Time Turns Elastic

II: Crosseyed and Paiinless > Down With Disease > Bug > Piper > Wading In The Velvet Sea, Boogie On Reggae Woman, Slave to the Traffic Light

E: Grind, Frankenstein

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297 Responses to “Finishing With A Bang”

  1. Frankie Says:

    Great discussion today! Thanks cowfunk for the insight on the lack of bass in the sbds. In the coming weeks, let’s share our info regarding best aud sources for the different shows… more mike man!

    Thank you Mr.Miner for the articles all tour! Really cool to live it through your words while listening to the shows the day after. Yes that JB Hood IS special and took me by surprise! Fortunately, i was ready for liftoff!

    To the people complaining that Phish are not what they used to be… guess what, they never were… That’s why we love them so much! They have always changed for survival purposes. We are lucky to have our favorite band in 2009 playing this music that we love with passion and inspiration. Please enjoy it while it lasts!

    STAR LAKE TUBE = YESSSS!!

  2. whole tour! Says:

    ^borat like! high fiyaveh!

  3. whole tour! Says:

    2009 = meatball, clav, whale whammy, keytar flaming 5 neck road warrior

  4. themanatee Says:

    back at home after Star Lake > Alpine. First shows I have seen since Hampton 3 rd night.

    My highlights :

    Star Lake – Wolfman’s, Tube, Disease > Free, Piper, Hood, YEM – The sheer joy in the venue for the second half of the second set was channeling IT

    Deer Creek – one of the best Phish shows I have seen in a long time. Highlights – Stealing Time, Ocelot, Split, Fluffhead and the entire second set which reached deep into the ether for Oceans and Type II improv. The “second jam” out of Oceans was possibly the 4 show highlight for me. Fishman’s syncopated beat is excellent and creatively leads this jam. The Tweezer > 2001 was such a treat and a dance marathon. Lightning storms, a deluge from the heaven and a Phish set for the ages. Deer Creek 2009.

    Alpine 1 – Gin, Maze (great energy, not super sick jam), Ghost > Lizards. Though I am still not sure what to make of this Ghost, so its hard to call it a highlight yet. This show was my least favorite of my four night run but a ton of fun as always. I did like the reggae laced YEM as well.

    Alpine 2 – Crosseyed > Disease, Bug, Piper, Slave – This set is on par with Deer Creek I think. Though I have to listen a but more (I think I like Deer Creek better overall) but the drop of Crosseyed and its Type II section that eventually leads into Disease is incredible. Searing Type I in the beginning of Crosseyed and Disease as well. I think this Piper is damn good as well….miner’s comments about Trey’s rhythmn chops and note bending are really cool aspects of this jam…

    anyway – i agree with statements about other members throwing out ideas more forcefully now – I really see this tour as a process – and I believe its difficult for us (me included) to see the forest from the trees. The Type II is slowly coming out and they are honing in on what they will be as Phish 3.0.

  5. Holger Dansk Says:

    Love reading up on the cornucopia of views on phish 3.0. Tho I only saw Asheville, and await MPP later, I’ve listened to all of the downloads of this tour incl Hampton, and their playing is light years ahead of phish 2.0, IMO. Something I haven’t seen mentioned is that it is nothing less than astonishing that these “boys,” now 44-46 years old, are holding forth almost nightly with a musical capacity that not many artists, much less those of us with less demanding / scrutinized day jobs, could point to. Of *course* they’re not going to rip it and reinvent it as well as they did when they were 25; not many of us does that in any job at 45. How many of us are reinventing ourselves almost daily, focusing on the pleasure and happiness of 10-40 thousand scrutineers each day, knowing that you’re only as good as your last performance? By the time we’re 45 (and I’m a couple years beyond), most of us are nestled into a safety net on the job; cudos to Phish for coming back with a vitality that is relatively unmatched in our own lives. So, for the detractors above who would say: “Miner, I grew up on Phish 1.0. I love Phish 1.0. If I grew up on a farm, and was retarded, Phish 3.0 might impress me but I didn’t, so it doesn’t.”, I say, “Leave it, fatty.”

  6. Cactus Says:

    @ Hunter

    I saw Tony Rice down at Bonnaroo. He was amazing. David Grisman joined him and jammed with his band. They played a tune called Nine pound Hammer. They had the Other Tent rocking mid afternoon on Saturday.

    Gotta love Gordons contributions of bluegrass to the band.

  7. Cactus Says:

    @ SelectorJ

    Agree with the nostalgia of the slow build up in the old Piper. But what can you do, faster is always better in my book.

  8. c0wfunk Says:

    wow holger nicely put and an angle I haven’t really considered. It’s hard enough to be a musician and artist and always putting yourself out there. Hell if people just wanted “type II” jamming all the time my band would be huge ;) But these guys put their heart and soul into these songs and man, they still friggin Mean It.

  9. halcyon Says:

    Finally listening to last nights show, and the quality is great. Thanks again to those who taped and ul’d it for us.

    TTE is definitely growing on me….its a great musical voyage.

  10. Cactus Says:

    ^ The latter part of TTE is very, very good. Real nice chromatic chords that climb during the end. Reminds me of Taste in that sense.

  11. whole tour! Says:

    i like the part in TTE where page uses that soft to loud sweeping synth effect. i’ve even heard him using it in jams.

  12. whole tour! Says:

    really thankful to have seen the second played and only undermind. super bad ass.

  13. whole tour! Says:

    of the tour that is.

  14. posternutbag Says:

    Been listening for seven years and finally caught my first show(s) this weekend at Alpine! As a whole, the 2 night run had everything I could ask for, with killer individual songs filling saturday’s setlist and then pure magic last night. I have always been a huge Talking Heads fan and pretty much lost it when they kicked off that last set. The venue was awesome and it was really great to see the band enjoying themselves so much. Can’t wait to get back out there!

  15. Kevin Says:

    I’m listening to the second set now. I’m not digging the jamming as much as you, Mr. Miner — and unlike some, I’m hesitant to attribute it to the drugs. I’ve been to 101 Phish shows, every one sober, and I just don’t see it.

    They’re totally nailing the songs, which is more than Phish 2.0 ever did, and I’m thrilled with that aspect alone. I suspect that as they gel more as a band and learn to listen and take risks again that they’ll be able to put forth some truly special jams. I didn’t hear it on this tour, but that’s ok. I’m so happy these four guys are back again and that they’re doing it with their families. The best summers of my life were spent on Phish tour, and I always have that to look back on.

    I’ve grown up a lot since my last full tour in 2000. I have a beautiful boy (2) and a beautiful girl (8). They’re my world, and it’s amazing. Hearing a new word or concept expressed is almost as magical as the best Phish jame..

    I understand Phish wanting to share this with their children. To see what their daddies are, and to share with them what music can be. To give them the gift of awesomeness.

    I’ll be at Red Rocks, but I won’t be there as the critic that I used to be. I’ll be there as the dad who has grown so much since that last tour in 2000. Who is appreciating the break from the kids. Who is losing his mind in the memories. Whose permagrin could light a planet, and destroy the death star.

    My boys are back. And I’m going to see them in the best venue imaginable. This is Red Rocks. This is the edge.

  16. halcyon Says:

    Good Stuff Kevin….

  17. c0wfunk Says:

    kevin posts like that are one more reason I’ll be back in the morning! night kidz .. burning it on both ends here!

  18. FN Always Says:

    I must say that I agree with Kevin…except…I thought the Sand was quite nice early in the tour and I actually enjoyed the jam out of ASIHTOS a few shows back…other than that there isn’t really much to write home about…

    regarding the second set of last night…the Crosseyed is alright…the ending kind of drizzles into nothingness…the disease jam is not very cohesive…and the piper is god awful…it sounded like trey was bored and just using that beewoo towards the end to entertain his thoughts…

    i actually thought that bug was the highlight of the second set, and those are words i would never in a million years imagine i would utter…

    can someone clue me on TTE?

    i liked the acoustic version i listened to a while back, but this thing is just ridiculous…it is like a bad blend of Yes and Three Dog Night…

    although, i will say there is a riff in the middle of TTE that is probably one of the coolest riffs trey has wrote in years…other than that though…it is extremely bloated and primed for a belch and possibly some laxatives…

  19. butter Says:

    Thank you Mr. Miner, Thank you Mr. Miner…..i was lucky to catch one show of the first leg. (St. Louis) It was fun to check your site after all the shows. It helped me pick out which ones to download. Great work. I am pumped to be on RR>Gorge, and can’t wait to dive in. Get some rest, we will tear up the west!!!

  20. Doug Says:

    I realllly am enjoying the Alpine Slave right now… killer build up that’s just makes you bob along with it. I caught Fenway and JB1 before moving out to Cali, so I’m really looking forward to Shoreline in another month and a half. As a relative newb, each show is still really special, but I can recognize the flaws in their playing also. I’ve listened to just about every minute of this tour – and I gotta say one of the things that strikes me about it how ALIVE all the songs sound, and thankful everyone – fans and band alike – are to be experiencing this once again. It’s not perfect, but who cares? It’s still fucking awesome and I’m loving every minute of it. To the haters: if you aren’t loving it, why stick around and rain on everyone else’s parade? Time for you to move on.

  21. Joseph Says:

    Mr. Miner, it seems like all you care about is jamming. Sure, Phish is amazing when they go deep into musical exploration, but there’s also something to be said for the SONGS. I personally enjoyed the first night of Alpine better than the second, because they packed so many great songs into the show. I was a little disappointed with the second night; while the jamming was excellent, I was hoping to hear more tunes to close out this leg of the tour. Nothing wrong with songs… or are you one of those people who hates all “normal” bands that don’t jam?

  22. PhrankieC Says:

    was i stoned of did miner not talk about the 5-neck guitar!? granted it was not the focus of the show but a fun bit of farewell!

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