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. whole tour! Says:

    ^ please forward your remaining leg two tickets to me! i’ll gladly take them off your hands since your not feeling phish 3.0.

  2. c0wfunk Says:

    guess we just have an old fashioned troll here boys.. not interested in discussion.

  3. halcyon Says:

    I smell a posting by wax coming

  4. c0wfunk Says:

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

    you said they were all the same, how could it pale in comparison? I was pointing out an obvious difference. I could go through every song you think is a worthless repeat and do the same. Luckily this isn’t sports so they can all be “good” without there being a “winner”…

  5. chitownshanty Says:

    cowfunk……….why did it take them all tour to play:


    They didn’t play one It’s Ice? Mango? Guelah?

    You want to know why? Because they CAN’T. They’ll flub it up too bad and they know it.

    They are sounding monotonous. All the jams, they are blending into the same form and taking on the same paths.

    Seriously – how many times did you hear Trey really solo’ing along with the songs melody? Rather than the Whale tone, just using effects, and pouring out the same old sound jam after jam, night after night?

    I’ll bet you I can find more of the same, than you can of the opposite!

  6. bbqbrice Says:

    I have really enjoyed being able to read all these reviews and touching on your site in the days before the tour. You are a great writer!! Thank you for everything (especially the Liberty Hall hookup). If anyone needs a crash space from the Gorge to Chitown look me up there is endless space here in the Tetons!!

  7. c0wfunk Says:

    they played guelah note perfect at hampton. You’re making yourself look foolish bro.

    You complain about a lack of 3 composed songs that are always the same and then complain that the songs they do play all sound the same.

    I think trey’s been using that whining tone so much because he knows there’s so many whiny little fools like you out there ready to whine more about it. waaaaaahhhhh waaaahh

  8. SOAM Says:

    who is this power shithead badmouthing the first tour in five years-must be a bears fan

  9. Mr. Completely Says:

    well said c0w -he’s crossed the line into pure trollery – chitown you lost 100% credibility in the Saturday morning debacle and are really putting the ribbon on the package this mornin – might as well pack it in, dawg, your rep is pretty much made: taking the “glass half empty” view past the point of self-parody.

    Can you still have fun?

  10. WALSH Says:

    They nailed It’s Ice and Guelah in Hampton, also, if you knew what you were talking about, you would not be expecting a Guelah Papyrus so quickly…that has been rare for a LONG TIME. That is why it was so special at Hampton. Sorry you weren’t there.

    Thanks for all the hard work Miner, it has been fun seeing the tour through someone who is positive about the band. It has been refreshing.

  11. SOAM Says:

    maybe a Wisc state trooper plunged him in a portolet-PTSD-DBFEVER

  12. SOAM Says:

    hard work-wtf

  13. SOAM Says:

    The best thing about this summer tour is it’s not over baby

  14. A Phan Says:

    Chitown-I hear Widespread is going on tour. GD 93 was a great year!

  15. chitownshanty Says:

    I’ll bet you I can find more of the same, than you can of the opposite!

  16. rprice23 Says:

    Just wanted to send more props/thanks to Mr. Miner, the ophishal tour journalist. Well played sir!

  17. c0wfunk Says:

    chitown .. I’d like you to name me ONE tour that has 3+ jams that are DIFFERENT from each other. Then we’ll talk. Every tour in the history of phish has had a “sound” .. trey milks the leslie or the digi loops or the drumkit or whatever his new toy is.

  18. Exree Hipp Says:

    Guys, please do not feed into chitown’s problems. He complains that there are too many repeats, then complains about rarities being played. Complains about a lack of jamming and also the absence of songs with no jams. Complains about new songs being played too much and old songs being played too much. Worst, he spends hours complaining about something no one is forcing him to do, namely listening to the band. This is not something worth discussing, and his problems surely have less to do with phish and more with something else going on in his life.

  19. SOAM Says:

    in 93 jerry went on the dones and lost 50 lbs-great spring tour-dbf

  20. SOAM Says:

    I’d like to introduce him to my wife

  21. Prince Nabby Says:

    I caught four shows this tour (Fenway, Asheville, Knoxville, Burgettstown), listened to and/or watched all of the others, and read Miner’s blog religiously throughout. Thank you so much, Miner, for your cogent, articulate, and thought-provoking posts! I haven’t always agreed with your judgments, but I admire them, and I also appreciate how you have laid the foundation for all of the bracing discussion that has followed. You’re not simply an asset to the Phish community, but you actually help that community come into being through your words and ideas.

    My own take on the tour is that it was wonderful, and while the boys can, and surely will improve, we couldn’t have expected more of them at this point in their development. Obviously, I liked some shows better than others, and some versions of some songs better than others, but you always have to look at the larger picture, and from that perspective, I think the tour was a great success.

    Finally, for chitownshanty, the number of repeats seems reasonably consistent with what Phish has done on tour for years. When I first started going to shows in 1991, they played Landlady, Foam, Jim, Suzie time after time after time and no one complained. I’m not complaining now. And as for the “bust outs,” you have to realize that they have been doling them out, quite deliberately it seems, just a few at each show. They’re warming up, and if you want a band that’s red hot, you have to let them build to that temperature at the pace that makes most sense to them, not *you*!

    OK, time to return to adult responsibilities. Thanks again, Miner, and I’ll see y’all at Red Rocks 🙂

  22. chitownshanty Says:

    You all should stop wishing for Phish to be something they once were.

    I’ll stick to the bootlegs from here on out.

    No more need to go and support this band and allow them to make hundreds of thousands of dollars, while we sit and listen to the same stuff, over and over and over again.

    Reality Check!

  23. RobAins Says:

    After the August leg, Chitown is going to complain about how they didn’t play a full Gamehenge.

  24. CJ Says:

    Thanks to all the regular posters here for coming together to create a very interesting, intelligent, varied Phish community! I love reading all these posts because of how we are able to analyze/enjoy the band so differently, but still all be Phish fans. What an amazing few weeks! I loved this partial tour, but something tells me August will blow these shows out of the water.

    Hartford and SPAC, here I come.

  25. RobAins Says:


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