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. c0wfunk Says:

    hmmm after piano solo there’s a reprise is it just shorter than usual? It sounded complete to me but maybe I need to go back and hear an older version.

  2. Mr. Completely Says:

    @c0w – yes basically – in detail it comes off as a moment when he decided that the crowd/band feedback thing was *real* and not just a consensual hallucination – that actual information is being exchanged, not just energy, under the surface there.

    and it has to be said, the remainder of that Sky (after the silent pause) absolutely flies – same for the rest of the show as well of course

  3. Cactus Says:

    “personally I’d rather hear anything they will bring the most passion into”

    Passion is the key bro. Don’t play a song half ass. Play what you wanna play and play it with passion. You can feel it. Personally, I’d like to see a little more bluegrass action. Loved When the Cactus is in Bloom, She thinks I still Care from Hampton and of course Poor Heart. Oh yeah and the Irish jig part of Guyute at Camden was tight too.

  4. c0wfunk Says:

    hmm ate an old brownie that had been stashed away a bit ago and now the short night of sleep has cuaght up .. donezo see you fellas later. I’m interested to see how the “netsensus” develops over the next few days as people come off tour and catch up to sleep etc. How many days to red rocks? More importantly – how many days to Merriweather? (the gorge pipe dream is once again just that…)

  5. whole tour! Says:

    it has the ‘epic build up’……but the light trey riff never came…perhaps on purpose to > into wmggw.

  6. Specialistforbin Says:

    Hey guys. First off, I’ve been waiting for these last 2 shows for a LONG time. I’m unable to traverse the country as much as in the younger days, so Alpine was my only shot (and Chicago in August). These shows blew my socks off. The only thing that sucked about them was that they were 24 hours apart, and I had to wait a day for the next one! (that, and my “funk muscles” were sore from dancing too hard night one!) The greatest moments for me were sharing and analyzing with my old Phriends, and taking everything in. The highlight of Alpine for me was the fact that each night represented a perfect summary of the summer’s shows. The first night was straight rock and accuracy, while the second night was focused, spirited improv. Both shows had bustouts, as usual, and both shows harnessed the energy of the crowd. I’m so happy to feel the feeling I forgot once more, and wish all you phans great shows with the rest of your summers! Thanks, all, and thank you Mr. Miner!

    PS: Chitown what’s his name is a sad disgrace to my city. I apologize for the Delta Bravo (or Douchebag for those of you civilians), and hope vacates the premises soon!

  7. c0wfunk Says:

    word mr c .. that conversation is the whole reason I go .. and it always has been. Which is why to me vibe is king and the most important thing for me at a show is that everyone around me Submits to the moment and surrenders to that all important flow – the conversation is so much better when we’re all having it and no one is faking!! I remember in detail the conversation that some doses + hampton + phish and I had at my first show in 1996. and it goes a lil somethin like this …

  8. c0wfunk Says:

    is that not the riff at 7:50 of the sbd? Page is more prominent in the mix and Trey is barely heard and a little flubby but that’s pretty much the movement isn’t it? Is there usually more than that? As I said I need to go back and hear an old one. Dammit I also need a nap .. what to do? (bouncing around like homer foot to foot)

  9. SOAM Says:

    -eating old brownies-that is fucking great-“well-it looked and felt like a hockey puck-but I ate it and didn’t give a fuck”

    only phish fans save foodstuffs that will get you high-Ilove it

  10. Leo Weaver Says:

    @ cow…110% agree re: A’ville DS. That’s always been one of my favorites, even though I’ve seen it a BUNCH. When it’s played right, it does incredible things for me. And I thought those were just voices in my head with the universal secrets, but the voice was so familiar…so Trey. I’ve still got the A’ville show as tops for this tour (for me) and I think the DS had a large part to do with that.

    Re: my take on this tour…I think it was Mr. C who said it…this one has been an exercise in foundation building…seems like they’re trying to get really good (again) at the basics before jumping into the warm dark abyss we all love so much. When I water all my thoughts down to just a few words, I keep coming back to the idea that it’s ’91-’94 phish, just all grown up and with more songs…and that’s not a bad thing at all. If they grew as much during this tour as they did in those 3-4 years, we’re all in store for some real shit to go down in a month and beyond.

  11. c0wfunk Says:

    page does his thing, it’s actually fishman who starts that section off with some machine gun drums where trey hits the big rock riff according to the 10-29-98 version .. so Perhaps trey’s waiting for his cue that never comes? They all sound slightly confused, Page hits a few alternate chords to hit build tension himself, since no one else appears to be doing it, and then he cues the outro chords instead. Curious. First time in close to 6 years, there’s a lot of changes in that song!

  12. SOAM Says:

    New tunes summary:
    KDF-loved it
    Stealing time-first time ok-second time-way better.
    TTE-Take alot of Mescaline
    Ocelot-(oxyalot)-Love it but need to be on shrooms because it’s a song about a wildcat/lynx that lives in Texas and is going extinct

  13. c0wfunk Says:

    ok that wasn’t well said at all..

    Page cues the minor chords that build – then Fishman is *supposed to* hit a machine gun pattern that cues Trey’s Big Note Riff … The drum beats never come, everyone searches for what to do, page goes all dark for a second, then cues the out chords himself.

    Ok I feel better. really probably maybe gone this time 😉

    oh and @leo — no that wasn’t in your head at all, that was Fo’ Real shit going down at that moment. I searched for it the rest of the night (and into knoxville) and never got Quite to that point that I reached during %sky again – afterwards I was tingling and trembling all over and felt like I had been swimming and flying.

  14. Selector J Says:

    @specialist: Delta Bravo. Ha! Love it. Best new term on this board since The Trza.

  15. BTB Says:

    I’ll write more later.

    Did Star Lake > Deer Creek > Alpine. All I can say is I am sore, tired and extremely pleased. The boys delivered. If you were there, I was the dude raging Mike’s side on the dance floor between the Pavilion and the Lawn – that was my dance floor. Holy MELT/Fluffhead RAGE PARTY at Deer Creek!!

    Absolutely satisfied. No complaints, critiques yes, but I rocked my ass off and got my whacked out- crazy funk – psychadelic dance mojo on.

    The Noobs/Kids were starring at me like I was crazy, but secretly wishing they were THAT HIGH ON THE MUSIC. Never danced like that in my life . Thanks Phish and to everyone the last nights of the tour. They finished in style.

    STILL WAITING>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

  16. DaNcInG fOoL Says:

    2 EXTRA DARIEN LAKE LAWNS FOR FACE, if interested give me your email

  17. Mr. Completely Says:

    @c0w – it is always very rewarding to find someone who experiences things from a similar perspective. Rare. Too bad the Gorge has turned into a pipedream for you, it’d be fun to do a show together.

  18. Leo Weaver Says:

    word cow…glad someone else found it. The strength of the force felt a little strange considering I was pretty sober (well, great nugs and tasty beer)…had I been in the old-school show headspace at the time, it might’ve come and gone without a second though. And that Fo’ Real shit is what keeps my coming back for more…can’t wait for Merriweather…my god…

    Cow, let me know if you change your mind re: gorge…I’m toying with the idea, would be willing to split a rental car from portland to gorge wit’cha…I’m in charlotte, flights right now CLT>PDX are like $330…

  19. Mr. Completely Says:

    @Leo – unless the flights are a lot more, the drive from Seattle to the Gorge is like half as far.

    and Leo, man – isn’t it cool to feel that without a dose? Don’t get me wrong, I’ll still drop ’em when I can, but what an experience to feel that wave break when you didn’t even know you were in the water!

    Makes the whole thing way, way realer IMO

  20. whole tour! Says:

    i just broke from my norm and grabbed an audience copy of star lake from This is the first audience recording of the tour i have heard besides a few snippets from I must say, the overall ambience of the audience recording is much much better than the livephish soundboard releases. I’m amazed that mike is actually sounding like mike in the audience recording.

    I really like the soundboards for the clean trey and page feeds, but honestly the audiences do this tour so much more justice. If only they (at livephish) or someone else out there could matrix the livephish soundboards with a good audience recording. I would KILL to hear that.

  21. Leo Weaver Says:

    @Mr. C…last I checked the flights into Seattle were about $200 more than into Portland. I’ll have to check in a few more times before I make the decision, ‘preciate the heads-up…never been out there, so have no clue about distances, etc…I just know there’s a LOT more of it than back here.

    And yes, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed being at the shows relatively sober. K’ville was a little of a letdown due to no beer sales (and I got there late, so no pre-show beers) but A’ville was just perfect for me. It’s quite a change from the old days…best part is I remember everything now and can function for the 3 following days (used to only be able to mumble and drool..I’d go at it pretty hard). I was at the Hampton shows and both ‘villes and enjoyed them immensely without the extra curriculars. And yes, it’s very real…

    Now if I do go out to the gorge, I will CERTIANLY revisit the other side…hmmm, maybe at Merriweather too…

  22. mixolydian Says:

    Having heard the whole first leg of the summer tour from my armchair I have to say I am amped about seeing them at RR, Shoreline and the Gorge.

    I want to thank Mr. Miner for this board and his great reviews. They have been the first thing I look at when I get online.

    It is clear to me that having Phish back in action is the single greatest thing to happen since Obama!! Someone needs to explain to all the whiners out there why the phenom of phish is more than just exceptional music and a fun par-tay. Think about the larger cultural significance of this community and its many facets being re affirmed in america. And if you whiners actually played an instrument or understood music theory you would shut your traps, or rather, your jaw would be dropped in awe of what phish does even on an “off” night.

  23. Mr. Completely Says:

    @whole tour! –

    matrixes have already started to happen and are circulating on some private torrent tracker sites. Consideration of Mr. Miner’s situation prevents me from going into further detail, but honestly, the first couple I heard were not impressive.

    Matrixes when done *right* are the best of both worlds, but doing them right requires *tremendous* attention to detail, frequently resynchronizing the sources, paying close attention to variations in either source, etc. The couple I’ve heard so far fell flat, one simply didn’t add anything useful to the SBD, the other fell victim to the phasing that is the sign of a rushed matrix job.

    I would expect there to be a number of matrix projects underway over the next month and I’ll be interested to heard the results. I’m taking a week or so off from DLing any Phish, then I’ll dive back into it and see what’s out there.


    Both the Dead vault/ Phish archive peeps need to get with the matrix program. The really well done fan-made matrixes of both bands absolutely smoke the 2-track offiical releases and compete well with the multitrack stuff. I’m listening to a matrix of Jerry Moore’s way-down-front FOB of 6-23-74 in the car these days and it’s an amazing thing to hear. They should be buying rights to the most suitable AUD source for every show and doing a professional matrix job…if not for every show, for the highlight shows…

  24. Mr. Completely Says:

    @Leo – bottom line:

    PDX -> Gorge = 1 hour of beautiful driving in Columbia River Gorge, then ~4 more hours tedious high desert slog (IMO, but I’ve done it a lot, you might find it interesting since it’s new terrain)

    Seattle -> Gorge = stunning drive over majestic mountain pass, then quickly down to the venue – maybe 2.5 hours all told

    for a $200 difference it might be worth it, just keep in mind extra gas/mileage costs etc

  25. The Maestro Says:

    @Mr. Completely.

    Coming out to the Gorge for the first time this August. I was looking into possibly flying into Spokane instead of Seattle. Car rental rates are $25 per day cheaper. Do you have any advice one way or the other?

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