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:

    i know bevis and butthead never – ever – never – ever miss taco day at the cafeteria. Nearly gave principal mcvicker a heart attack.

  2. SOAM Says:

    I watched people-alot of people-pass out as soon as they opened the door of the porto’s in Vegas in 94-It was 118 in the shade and inside those crappers close to 200-lost of twisting around into a dirty lump of passed out humanity.

  3. Mr. Completely Says:

    mikes bass solo in Malkenu is fun

  4. Albert Walker Says:

    jerry’s white ass legs rockin shorts and lookin like he was already dead
    that’s what
    I remember of Vegas 94
    fat man can’t handle heat like that

  5. c0wfunk Says:

    just had a quick chat w/ my tourbuddy and I wanted to pass on his thoughts .. this is a fella who did every US show between 98 and 04 (maybe missed a radio city here or there) and used to be backstage and works with green crew and all that fun stuff.. He is not a musician at all, just a jam lover who loves his band.. He had to miss JB and Bonnaroo but made the rest of the tour..

    He said “everyone hates the fox show but I loved it” and “Asheville’s still my favorite” .. when asked about last night – “was good but I was tired” and Deer Creek – “second set was sick” …

    so there ya go take it fwiw

    also .. I listened to the fox show today and found it an interesting melange. The boys are clearly straining to maintain energy, which comes off very interesting in tunes like Train Song as they actually push this one to a new level (can you push a 3 minute composed song to a new level? Well, yes you can!) .. B&R had an interesting new arrangemnet I thought, mostly affected by new beats from Fishman that makes it slightly more driving.

    The botched Slave ending is a bit weird – Trey certainly seems to be searching for something the whole time that he doesn’t find, so he just ends it and bails. I’ve seen him do that before in Slave (raleigh 99 was it? and hampton 09 to a certain extent)

    Halley’s starts out very promising, but like often on this tour the space quickly slid into that runaway which friggin raged.

    Miner I’m sorry you didn’t “get” the relax -> tte, sleep portion of the evening, because it is the part the boys seem most into. TTE is one of the best of the versions I’ve heard (all but last nights) – but I’m a big fan and think it worked nicely.

    Boogie On was a highlight, though also dismissed by Miner (though last night it was a dreadie mama special – interesting how the rest of the show affects perceptions of the other songs!)

    Sorry about the long ramble, as I mentioned before I’m exhausted and I’ve been waiting to listen to the Fox show and my buddy’s conversation just spurred me so there ya go .. believe it if you need it.

  6. lot rat Says:

    wedge>llama>ocelot 7/31 out of the gate

    I cant believe the Moos were out in force at the tour closer

  7. whole tour! Says:

    i just got done with the fox show yesterday, the livephish version, and overall i was feeling it. After reading some of the not so hot reviews of the show i was skeptical of buying it, but it’s phish and i HAVE to hear the entire tour. I thought the playing and sound was great. I happened to also dig the “frankie > TTE > sleep”…very sublime and mellow phish and i concur that with each version of TTE it keeps growing on me and getting better. In and out of focus…they started the tour with a TTE show and ended the tour with a TTE show…in and out of focus.

    I’m about to download and dig into star lake livephish! 4:20 kick off time for set one!!! whoop whoop!

  8. sumodie Says:

    @ SOAM: Guess I don’t remember the heat.

    In any case, I still think Sam Boyd would make a great choice for a Vegas show so that everyone could get in. Temps around Halloween would be fine.

    A gen adm show at the Polo Fields would also be good (except for the travel distance from MA).

  9. Albert Walker Says:

    I was bummin to hear set killer TTE last night
    but they nailed it
    Fishman killed it and the song actually built a good energy through out without a jam
    obviously would have prefered something else, but you can tell they are putting a lot of work up there nailin this one
    Trey loves it

  10. c0wfunk Says:

    @col & wholetour ..

    the asheville divided sky hit me in a way no composed music has in a really long time and really opened my eyes to the power of Focused consciousness — all of us knowing what’s going to happen but still focusing on that moment. I’ve heard the song god knows how many times but I swear during that version Trey told me all of the secrets of the universe (sorry can’t share 😉 ) in a whole new way than I had EVER heard from him. And it was all so clear and focused and JOYOUS!! When those composed sections just flow, like they did that moment, it can be every bit as stimulating as the Hampton 97 Halley’s or Big Cypress C&P or whatever jam is your holy grail.

  11. whole tour! Says:

    There is definately new magic to be had! Even the older classics we all know and love are getting the 3.0 treatment. I learned some new secrets of the universe myself 😉

  12. c0wfunk Says:

    you know what I forgot that mcgrupp! I heard people talking about them skipping a section and I listened intently but couldn’t find it? after Page’s solo (which is off the chain by the way!!) the buildup is a little different, and there is a slight hesitation before heading to the outro, but I think all the parts are there. What am I missing? This is probably my favorite of the gamehenge songs (maybe lizards?) and I’m glad to see it getting a run through. Some of the chords were a little rough but it’s really always been that way since it’s usually a once-a-tour-special and it’s damn hard to play.

    Honestly mcgrupp, wmggw is probably the perfect encore for me, throw in a ssb w/ a “play ball” from trey and a “charge” tease before and damn that’s hot. When has there ever been a “type II” encore anyway? Take what you can get..

  13. SOAM Says:

    Hopefully my rod doesn’t turn elastic with time-now that would be a setkiller

  14. Mr. Completely Says:

    c0w have you heard the interview in which Trey discusses his experience during the 6-18-94 Divided Sky?

    It’s pretty fucking interesting. It was played as part of an Archive thing, I think.

  15. Jason Waite Says:

    ^ speaking of holy grails..

    ghost > lizards!

    that was amazing, pheels like r/r is gearing up for a full blown tmwsiy

  16. c0wfunk Says:

    werd wt – and as you alluded to earlier – much of that magic is not present on the recordings or even in the notes .. they’re in the moment. But alas, as we all know – the moment ends.

  17. Jason Waite Says:

    o how i pheel…

  18. c0wfunk Says:

    mr. c I’m not sure if I heard that story or not – is that the one about continuing to play the riff in his mind during the pause and the crowd cheering at the appropriate *silent* moment? Or something else?

  19. SOAM Says:

    @Completely

    I’m superconversational and engaging on 1000’s migs of oxy too-JKSO

  20. Walfredo Says:

    Albert- why would you obviously hear something else? Shouldn’t we be happy that the band is still writing and performing complicated original pieces of music? Hasn’t that always been part of Phish? Has it always been the case that fans hate to hear it when they play it? I don’t get it?

  21. SOAM Says:

    who put you up to it fredo Corleone

  22. Albert Walker Says:

    @Walfredo
    not a vocal guy just my preference
    the ratio of vocals to music is heavilly weighted towards vocals
    and for a long time
    not a bad song I think it just has trouble finding a good slot in a set

  23. whole tour! Says:

    @cowfunk….i heard it too on mcgrupp…,they never played the usual mcgrupp outro…it went from that jam and ended. there wasn’t a reprise of the trey led mcgrupp riff. still very bad ass version imho.

  24. c0wfunk Says:

    at the fox trey certainly sounded a whole lot more energetic during TTE than during Mike’s -> personally I’d rather hear anything they will bring the most passion into. Whether it’s type I, II, III, Blues, Composed, Old, New, red phish blue phish, whatever. Just play what you like and don’t play it if you don’t want to! Phish sure as hell didn’t get their start by playing what people wanted to hear..

  25. Cactus Says:

    It was the only version this tour, so I’d consider it badass as well.

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