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”

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  1. ColonelJoy Says:

    I’ve listened to everything up to Piper so far. Miner’s show glow is definately justified. Good work, man.

  2. A Phan Says:

    Great job Mr. Miner! This show looked awsome. Can’t wait to see a fall tour schedule.

  3. Tadcaster Says:

    Thanks so much Miner. Your effort is VERY MUCH appreciated. Rest up!

  4. halcyon Says:

    Thanks to your boys and girls once again for the no spoilers. Much appreciated.

  5. Leo Weaver Says:

    Thanks for all your thoughts and opinions about the tour…it’s been great to have “attended the shows thru your experience”. Your writing, though not analyzing the music note for note or even song for song as some folks/posters would like, has provided me with background and a great starting “canvas” for my mind to paint my own pictures of the experience I missed. And then I can listen along, taboot. Your journal of the tour has been exactly what this phan ordered…thanks. Now go get some rest!

  6. ColonelJoy Says:

    Page really shines on the Piper. He’s played some sick piano this tour.

  7. alumnidog Says:

    had a great weekend at alpine – phish was playing with purpose, and the fans loved it. my only compliant/hope. cut the first 8 minutes of tte off, and start the song off with the carousal verse – from that point on the place was rockin.

  8. nonoyolker Says:

    Miner, thanks so much for all you have done this tour. You are a credit to the flock. Get some much deserved rest!

  9. Marshall Says:

    Trey’s five-necked guitar was too funny. Wonder if all five necks are real? DWD was fantastic. I also agree that TTE worked much better closing out a set.

    My first show at Alpine – that natural ravine and that rust colored roof are way cooler than most of the ampitheatres I’ve come across (save Red Rocks of course). Glad I made the trek all the way from South Carolina.

  10. Steve P. Says:

    “dready- mama funk”

    Thanks for all the info and music, get some rest with the fam!

  11. In Flagrante Delicto Says:

    Miner,

    With the first mini-tour under this site’s belt, I want to congratulate you on a job well done. Your show breakdowns allow many of us to follow tour vicariously from couches and offices the world over (shout out to Colonel and the euro dude who posts here). It’s a blessing, and one for which I am not alone in my gratitude.

    Your writing is remarkably coherent for someone who has spent weeks typing through car rides, in tents, and anywhere else you’ve had to go for internet access. I can say from experience, even seeing shows sober, after a week or so, it can be hard to connect to the real world. You’ve managed to do so, harnessing this new internet thingy for some truly positive communication with the world at large. I look forward to the August run, both seeing shows (Shoreline through Gorge, my first left coast shows) and reading about the ones I cannot attend.

    For all of you who’ve been here the morning after every show this June, since Miner doesn’t ask you enough, allow me…

    PLEASE DONATE TO THE HELP COVER THE PHISHTHOUGHTS EXPENSES.

    It’s easy to do, folks. DONATE button is on the front page. I’ve never met Miner, and he didn’t put me up to this. I’m pretty sure, though, that this site isn’t funding his tour, and it’s likely not even covering its own expenses. Give a little, take a lot.

    As for the tour-closer, I could tell when I saw the Crosseyed pop onto the screen that this one was likely a rager. Throwing it in to give it a listen now.

  12. chitownshanty Says:

    What a joke.

    I mean really, it took them ALL tour to bust out BROTHER, TMWSIY, C&P?

    The rest of the songs are REPEATS.

    How much Phish can one really listen to/attend when this nonsense is taking place?

    IT ALL SOUNDS THE SAME THESE DAYS. This was not true in the past.

    Actually, there is one difference: Flubbed versions vs. Accurate versions

    Other than that…..SAMENESS.

  13. Cason Says:

    Thank you so much. your reporting has been balanced and accurate. i cant wait for Miner’s Summer 09 Mix.

  14. c0wfunk Says:

    chitownshanty get the cotton out of your ears. I just listened to the Fox possum and if you can point to me another version this summer where Trey does the sustain a note -> climb it up and wail over 24 bars or so thing you win a prize (though I haven’t heard Alpine – I’m fairly certain I haven’t heard it otherwise this summer) … If they played the other songs you speak of all the time, they wouldn’t be special, they wouldnt’ be bustouts, adn you’d be crying for character zero or whatever else they shelved.

    In years past versions of a song within a tour tended to be similar. Over time this changes and that’s the differences…

    Mr. Miner -> I want to add to the chorus of thanks this morning. Sometimes it’s easy from home to lose sight of how hard it must be to do what you have just done. Thanks so much!!

  15. whole tour! Says:

    It’s only a joke to you chitown. To anyone else who actually listens to those “repeats” they know that something repeated on paper IS NOT actually a repeat when played. “everything sounds the same”….hardly.

    Sorry man, but my take on this tour was the exact opposite. I thought it was a brilliant reawakening of a sleeping monster.

  16. Uberchef Says:

    ^Chitown,

    Reflecting upon this tour, I’d say although the band has certainly evolved from their previous incarnation, they haven’t really departed from a general approach and song selection/rotation standpoint. They played 140+ different songs and debuted a couple handful of new tunes during this June run, improvising and tightening-up along the way. I can’t really think of another band out there with that sort of depth and versatility.

    Perhaps you should turn your lens outside-in and consider if your own perceptions and tastes have changed/moved on in the past five years.

    The band has brought lots of happiness back to the community at large, we should all be jazzed they are back!

  17. Adam Says:

    My 1st show of the tour and since hiatus. Great time! 11th show overall and that Slave blew my mind, perfectly played and the jam had great build!

  18. ColonelJoy Says:

    Repeats?

    What are they supposed to do, play 130+ different songs over three weeks and at the final show play 20 songs that haven’t been played yet? And with your logic, it was a joke the songs that were bustouts should have been played already, and therefore, should have also been repeats!

    Pure madness.

  19. ColonelJoy Says:

    I think all of “our” lives are better because Phish is playing.

  20. whole tour! Says:

    It’s only common sense, the more a song is repeated, the more tight and flawless it becomes. They are rebuilding solid foundations using songs that they know well. Repeating a song like “possum” is not a slap in the face of the fans, especially when they jam it out differently each and every time. Not every person sees 100% of every show on every tour, so these repeats to someone might be fresh to someone who just hopped on tour. Take the time and compare the “repeats” such as “Hood” or “mike’s groove”….they are all unique and very different. Even the new song repeats like “KDF”, “Ocelot” ect ect changed and progressed with each new version played. Look at the history of phish tours and you’ll see that each one has somewhat a mapped out game plan. Some tours are heavier on some songs while others sit on the shelf. Then the next tour the songs in heavier rotation get somewhat shelved in favor of a batch of other songs to work on. This is nothing new.

  21. SOAM Says:

    Did someone say it’s hard to do the ENTIRE TOUR and write reviews-pretty fucking tough

    aren’t all the kids girls?-Brother?

    46 days-ish

  22. chitownshanty Says:

    Thanks for the blanket statements……Can anyone tell me how many total shows there were this tour, excluding Hampton, and how many songs were repeated during those shows, and which songs were actual repeats?

    Who cares if Trey held a note over 24 bars; that Possum paled in comparison to the JB version.

    BTW – the band forgot to show up in St Louis…I was there.

    Giminy Christmas Batman, this reminds me of the Grateful Dead circa 1993.

    Enjoy, children.

  23. whole tour! Says:

    “Tube” played 6/07/09 Camden
    “Tube” played 06/09/09 Asheville

    Do you see me complaining? HELL FUCKING NO! nuff said!

  24. whole tour! Says:

    BTW….i happen to like GD 1993…so what’s you point?

  25. chitownshanty Says:

    PS – last night’s show took NOSE DIVE during the last half of that Piper.

    As with 99% of their 2nd sets this tour…..they just completely lose it.

    Phish 3.0

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