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. Mitch Says:

    2 things:
    my buddy has 4 chi-town tickets, email me at tickets at facemelt dot net

    does anyone have cool vids of the deer creek lightning, it was nuts and i wanna show my buddies. here are some i found on youtube

  2. playitleo Says:

    Wow, what a great time this weekend DC was amazing and alpine blew my mind.

  3. Albert Walker Says:

    too bad chitown represented like that

    I’ve seen 100-200 shows who knows and this weeknd rocked the boys are back

    I had 15th row center and it was the fire last night

    crosseyed and piper simply nasty and the boys sounded tight as hell
    can’t wait for red rocks

    if you don’t dig that encore you don’t get Phish
    that is the sense of humor and fun that got me into that band and had been lost post hiatus

  4. Mr. Completely Says:

    1) keytar rules! in fact the “keytar filter” is a good test for jadedness, if you can’t enjoy a keytarenstein encore, time to pack it in.

    2) at least that’s a classy exit there, chi. Peace to you too, and I hope you find something you enjoy as much as you once enjoyed Phish.

    3) lol @Bap

  5. Mr. Completely Says:

    @albert – glad you dug it – know you have your filter set pretty high, too

    promise not to hold it against the Windy City

  6. Jack O Roses Says:

    Wow, a cursory looks shows a lot of strife on the board this morning. Who’d a thunk it after 4 massive nights of Phish…

    Quick off topic grovel: I’m looking to upgrade my SPAC lawns for 1-2 SPAC pavilion tickets. Not looking to pay more than face for these. I do have Friday Gorge GA or Darien lawns for any possible trade. Thanks everyone! moonlt.tim gmail

  7. sumodie Says:

    Last night on PT our stats man, zzyzx, slugged it out with someone else regarding the issue of tour repeats. Zzyzx commented:

    “All I’m saying is that Phish’s summer 2009 is neither out of line with Phish’s past tours nor past Dead tours, with the possible exception of playing 3 songs 6 times (40% after tonight) instead of 5 times (33%). So if they had played one fewer KDF, Possum, and Character Zero, this tour would have had fewer repeats than average. Therefore, if the amount of repeats on this tour bugged you, you’re highly likely to be bugged on the second leg.”

  8. jahvolunteer76 Says:

    The reason bust outs matter is becasue they show that the band is keeping everyone on their toes. I like bust outs, becasue most likely I have never seen the song before.

    Playing a bust out says “this show is special”

  9. sumodie Says:

    Thank you Mr. Miner for all your hard work! I’d be interested to have you blog someday about what it was like to write up reviews of current shows while on tour versus inspiring everyone when there was no phish to enjoy (or bitch about :-).

    Did it detract or enhance your live experience? Are you already in burn-out mode? Or whatever strikes your fancy to comment on about going all our for phish thoughts while on tour.

    In any case, you inspired me before 3.0 happened and you (and everyone else here) continue to do so. The count down to RR is on!!

  10. whole tour! Says:

    in the summer of 1997 so many people were tearing their hair out bitching that they played “ginseng sullivan” on 7-21-1997 then again on 7-23-1997. I friggin love “ginseng” and i caught the 7-23-1997 version. Even if i had seen the 7-21 “ginseng” and then saw it again in the “north georgia hills” of atlanta, i wouldn’t have complained. In retrospective, was the repeat really that degrading? considering the fact that “ginseng” has yet to be performed in 2009 outside of a soundcheck?

  11. Mr. Completely Says:

    you can’t have everything.

    where would you put it?

  12. whole tour! Says:

    i’m just saying that this talk of repeats has been around for a long time and it is often unwarrented.

    last ginseng sullivan: 4-17-04

  13. old dude Says:

    can’t you put everything on an external hard drive?

  14. whole tour! Says:

    ^ i have three 1tb externals of just phish….one Hd is all the livephish sbds/videos.

    not to mention the 4 or 5 HD’s of only GD/related

    then the 2 other 2tb hd’s for everything else

    you can never have too many externals

  15. jahvolunteer76 Says:

    Sorry, I just listened to the 6/20 show for the 1st time since witnessing it.

    I am sorry, but the Ghost>Lizards is the shit. The Ghost may not be type II but it rages HARD and drops into without a hint of noodling into a Lizards that features Trey remembering all the lyrics and beautiful Piano and guitar solos. Maybe, because this was my first show since 2004 I am less jaded then people who go on the entire tour. Needless to say I am pumped for Red Rocks.

  16. Walfredo Says:

    Yeah- the repeats complaints were a joke this tour. They played a lot of songs- the key is to keep things fresh- but also to play things well. If they did a whole tour with no repeats- it would be pretty stupid and the playing would not be very comfortable.

    I have enjoyed the heck out of the jams this summer. Feels like the new structure- is to really let loose to start set II and then slowly reel it back in. But tight powerful jams throughout the night. Start of set II seemed to be the real exploration jamming. I’m good with it. I don’t want a “drums and space” segment of Phish shows. I like the songs and the jams that come from them- and actually prefer they don’t spend 25 minutes a night forcing something that is not structured…

  17. Mrs. Miner Says:

    Walsh- you are cracking me up that you posted the song stats for summer 97! LOL! That’s awesome and you make a great point (with much evidence!).
    I love everyone’s enthusiasm on this board- awesome! It makes the site so special.

    Sounds like it was a sick your and what I have heard was bomb. Camden Tweezer, please. Thank you!

    Jr. and I will be glad to have Miner home.

  18. Floyd Says:

    Phish played “My Soul” eight times during the fall ’97 tour (21 shows).

  19. shpongleyez Says:

    Camden SAND, Mrs., if you please.

    And more of that DC Tweezer>2001 and storm induced Phish!!!


  20. Walfredo Says:

    Yeah- as far as repeats are concerned the evidence really does stand up. They flat out didn’t play more repeats then normal tours. If it is a valid complaint- it was for all of Phish’s legendary runs too… I caught an ass-load of Moma Dance in 1998, and GBOTT in 99… It happens.

  21. whoshotwhointhewho Says:

    “whole tour! – It’s a totally different thing to have the control to get to that sweet spot in a jam with out having to noodle for 20+ minutes. It shows mad skills being able to say “enough is enough, find a groove or put the brakes on and move on.””

    Great Point!

    I read an awesome interview with John Coltrane a long time ago. One of the questions pertained to some complaints form Coltrane fans that he wasn’t playing 30 minute solos anymore (I think it was directly referencing the song ‘Ole’). His response was that as he grew older he had figured out how to say/play what he wanted far more directly and, therefore, didn’t need to play 30 minute solos anymore….

  22. Mr. Completely Says:

    oh I hear you wt! I thought it was obvious from fairly early on that they’d be more or less within the normal kind of range, only question was, which would be the heavily repeated tunes, and which normally rare tunes would get elevated to more frequent status (Tube – excellent fucking choice – BTW just listened to the Bearsville version last night, daaaaaaamn thats badass).

    There have to be “kind” tunes that aren’t overplayed. Crosseyed is a classic example. Note, they played Timber early on, and not again…another classic kind, rare tune. Brother, another perfect one. Not that I’d be disappointed if those were played more! Something else would become the rarity….

    This time around, the repeats have a little more intention behind them – in some cases it seems like they’re trying to get important songs nailed down, other times they’re just playing reliable, straightforward jams when they feel like they need a rager (possum, suzy).

    In 03 I heard Seven Below 3 times in 6 shows – but the 3rd one was the famous Gorge version. I rolled my eyes when it started – I admit it – but was loving it pretty damn quickly.

    I saw Phish 6 times in 90-91; only 4 of those shows have setlists posted. In those 4 I saw 3 YEMs, 3 Mikes Grooves, 3 Lizards, 3 Dinner and a Movies, and 4 Golgis – mixed in with one Tube, one Sloth, one Brother, one Flat Fee and Roll Like a Cantaloupe.

    so not really that much has changed. If anything there are less repeats now.

    @dude, but there is no HD external to “everything” or everything wouldn’t actually be everything :o)

  23. c0wfunk Says:

    I remember after hampton 97 everyone wondering how they could top it and having these big bold predictions for w-s the next night.. They came out and dropped the my soul opener and the room was silent. They proceeded to not top what they had done before, but instead do it in a whole different way. That’s what I love about these guys. We sometimes forget that sometimes they play a song cuz they like it – and just hope we like it too.

  24. halcyon Says:

    Mitch….thanks for posting those, lightning shots are amazing, and often difficult to capture (especially via camera).

  25. Mr. Completely Says:

    @who – wonderful reference -the greatest parallel between Trane and Phish is that no matter what they’re doing at any point in their carer, fans complain about it and ask why they’re not still doing the last thing they did. When Trane was playing the 30 minute solos, a lot of people hated that! “Where’d the melody go?”

    you can’t win when peeps are drinkin’ the haterade

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