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. ColonelJoy Says:

    Yeah, I’ve seen lots of fat people, not just women, in tour pics. I wonder if there is a lot-scene type-II diabetes problem.

  2. Brian Says:

    the Miami 03 Suzy is definitely hilarious. I remember just being like ‘what the hell is going on??’. its kind of ok too though.

    the slave>chalkdust>slave from 12/31 is great

    and also agreed on 12/29 Piper.

  3. Albert Walker Says:

    obesity and fraternity soroty problem but we’ve had that one for years

  4. whole tour! Says:

    it’s a nationwide epidemic, not just at shows.
    america is per capita the ‘fattest’ country behind saudi arabia.

  5. ColonelJoy Says:

    Someone mentioned similarities between the Alpine Piper and the Miami Piper…they are correct.

  6. Brian Says:

    oh yeha I mean, chalkdust>slave>chalkdust. had it backwards!

  7. ColonelJoy Says:

    Yeah, there are even some fat Iraqis….

    I have this video of probably an 11 y/o iraqi kid on the street taken by a convoy moving by…..the kid is fucking so damn fat, and he’s beating these smaller kids around him and dancing like a fat hip-hop star, and of course the dude who made it put Snoop as the soundtrack….very sad

  8. Cactus Says:

    @ Colonel Joy

    I’m with you as far as not being too fascinatied by 2.0. You gotta be in your thirties most likely right? Stuff just starting getting out of hand, and IT was the peak for me. I caught one 04 show at the SPAC. Drowned was the only song that I really thought they played well. Maybe a couple others.

  9. SOAM Says:

    Albert-I was told you were hiding your ticket stub in that party pigs finance box-whoooooaahh..definately not jumping in the tub with that fat mother.


  10. whole tour! Says:

    the ‘stash’ 12.31.03 is so amazing…then > into ‘-7’….

    i love that run…good times

  11. Cactus Says:

    It’s gotta be due to the fact theres a McDonalds every 1.5 miles. I swear fast food will be the end of us all.

  12. Mr. Completely Says:

    first set of this show is fun in the headphones. great energy, but I haven’t gotten to the end of the set yet. Joy isn’t as bad as I remember it, it’s not a song I’d like to hear, but not a true downer either as long as the placement isn’t crazy.

    it’s actually weird being able to hear Mike in the sbds. The cymbal phasing’s not nearly as bad as on the DC recording.

    Let’s see, what shows will I want to track down the best AUDs of…? JB3, Ashe, Knox, DC, AV2…? Hmf.

    Thank God modern torrent apps let you just DL a track at a time. Essential for comparing many recordings of the same show.

  13. Wax Banks Says:


    That being said, one of the reasons the jams might be so messy at this point is that everyone is really puting ideas out there, particularly Mike and Page are expressing themselves more, not waiting for Trey…they’re pushing themselves into the music more, forcing themselves to be heard….I like that, but if Trey isn’t paying attention then I don’t know.

    This might be the smartest observation I’ve read on these boards, and (self-centeredly) I like that it gives me a way to understand what I’m feeling while listening to these recent shows, and when doing these long analytical posts, without falling prey to the dismissive or denigratory or just melodramatic tendencies.

    Reading the shows through this lens makes for a clearer link between the business (density) of the jamming, the solo outbursts, and the frequent resort to beautiful/enthusiastic/less-than-adventurous group directions.

  14. Mr. Completely Says:

    fast food is to america as the nitrous mafia is to the phish scene

    “if we all just stopped giving them money they’d go away”

    …an alien plot to make us lazy and dumb in advance of the takeover.

    OTOH: mmmmmmmmm burger

  15. ColonelJoy Says:

    Yeah Cactus, I’m 36….

    2.0 was wierd for me because my ex-wife and I split during the hiatus, and then of course we were “forced” into being around each other when they came back. I was struggling with everything at that time and it definately seeped into my enjoyment of the music which is something I never even imagined could happen, very disturbing at first….altered the whole dynamic….

  16. Mr. Completely Says:

    agreed, that was a sharp observation. I expect the Trza to get the hang of it over time.

  17. ColonelJoy Says:

    Well, Wax, you’ve owed me a compliment for a few days now, considering I took a few grenades for you over the past few days:)

  18. ColonelJoy Says:

    I’m definately hearing Page and Mike really pushing things like never before, rarely laying back at all. If you listen to Page on the piano, man, he’s really killing it in the ensemble space, not just on the solos. Like you said Wax, the patience isn’t quite there yet. It could very well be intentional.

    I would lie if I said I could live without jamming coming about at prior intensities/peak-valley/duration….A lot of what I heard so far would leave me with, for the lack of a better way to say it, blue balls….and why are we all in this thing? to get the fuck off…that’s why….musical orgasm, plain and simple

  19. Cactus Says:

    @ Colonel Joy

    Yeah, those are difficult circumstances for sure. I actually met my wife during the 2.0. Not at a show, but the fact she listened to phish and vice versa I guess was kind of a big pre-requisite so to speak.

    Thanks for fighting for our country, and I hope you get to see a show soon.

  20. Cactus Says:

    One word describes the Slave from last night:


  21. ColonelJoy Says:


    I will be on fall tour!! Thanks for the sentiment.

  22. Cactus Says:

    Well alright then. ENJOY!

  23. Wax Banks Says:

    Well, Wax, you’ve owed me a compliment for a few days now, considering I took a few grenades for you over the past few days:)

    And I thank you for it, sir.

    By the way, haven’t said it though I’ve thought it a few times: get home safe for god’s sake.

  24. SOAM Says:

    one word to describe me last night=ripped

  25. snigglebeach Says:

    damn, I wish i didn’t have a stupid job.

    every east coast show i went to, people were trying to unload Alpine tickets. I saw some great shows, but i think these last 2 will be the ones i listen too the most.

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