Initial Processing

6.19.09 Deer Creek (D. Vann)

6.19.09 Deer Creek (D. Vann)

With tour having just concluded, there are so many thoughts swirling in my mind about the past three weeks and what this tour represented to the band and to us, the community.  It was an amazing feeling to be back on the road with Phish again, and by all accounts, Phish was very happy to be back on the road with us.  Throughout the tour, the one constant was the infectious energy that characterized each show.  Exploding from both the stage and the audience, the enthusiasm that oozed from the band and community each night was intense.  Everyone you saw- whether it was their first show or three hundredth- was giddy over the band’s first tour in five years and the limitless potential that lies in the future of Phish.

6.19.09 (D.Vann)

6.19.09 (D.Vann)

As expected, this tour was the next step of Phish’s “re-evolution” that started in Hampton, and will continue later this summer.  The band’s improvisation became more and more adventurous as the tour progressed, as this tour was part a much larger process- certainly not a destination.  Playing with an urgency and direction that was lacking in their last go-round, Phish used this early-summer run to get their sea legs back, re-acclimating themselves to the road in a whole new, sober, family-oriented atmosphere.  This change of scenery was never more evident than with Alpine’s “Brother” opener, which brought the family vibe to the forefront of the stage- literally.  Overall, the playing throughout this tour was incredibly encouraging, and bodes very well for late-summer and beyond.

The past three three weeks have also hinted at new musical directions that Phish is moving towards in their third incarnation.  Rededicated to playing tight compositions, the band’s precision was one facet of their game that jumped out at almost every show.  Sure, there were some flubs and mistakes- that was inevitable- but for most of the time, the band was very attentive to playing their songs carefully and without flaws.  This held true for longer pieces such as “Divided Sky,” “Fluffhead,”and “Time Turns Elastic,” as well as the composed sections of larger vehicles like “Reba” and “YEM.”  Throughout the tour, Phish tore through their most complex segments with a welcome accuracy.  Akin to years past, many eclectic compositions were in regular rotation.

6.21.09 Alpine Valley (D.Vann)

6.21.09 Alpine Valley (D.Vann)

In comparison to the looser funk era of the late ’90s and the exploratory post-hiatus years, Phish’s improv was far more direct and to the point.  Instead of letting jams settle or vamping over rhythmic patterns, this summer’s Phish dove straight into things with a purpose, also driving up the pace of their improvisation, resulting in creating shorter, more densely compact jams.  The result of this musical shift- hinted at in March- was more rock-based jams and a virtual absence of whole band funk grooves.  Even dance-staples like “Tweezer,” “Ghost,” and “Wolfman’s” saw themselves focused on whole-group builds and sustained peaks rather than laid-back grooves.  This served as a reminder that Phish, at their core, is a rock and roll band.

Deer Creek (D.Vann)

Deer Creek (D.Vann)

As the tour progressed, we watched them become more and more comfortable taking musical risks, delving further into exploratory improvisation by the time they pulled into their final four nights.  Yet, their intent on psychedelic experimentation was clear, while not omnipresent, in the tour’s first two shows with Fenway’s “Tweezer > Light,” and Jones Beach’s “Harry Hood.”  Focused strongly on structured improv for most of the tour, the band crafted many standout type-I jams which helped them lie a foundation for the more exploratory playing that seeped its way into shows slowly but surely.  A musical pattern emerged from their improv as well; the cultivation of a new sound.  Defined by cohesive, directional jamming Phish often progressed from rock-based textures into dissonant and contrasting ambient improv, forming a dynamic flow to their jams.  As we listen and re-listen to these shows, it will be interesting to see what other observations arise about the hybrid of new-school and old-school Phish.

Deer Creek (D.Vann)

Deer Creek (D.Vann)

Another piece of the emerging picture of Phish 3.0 is their array of new- and excellent- songs that were debuted over this tour.  Some played in full rotation, and some played only once, it is clear that Phish has many new choices in their repertoire to pull from.  Combined with their already vast catalog, the new rule for Phish shows is, “Anything goes!”  All songs are fair game- from “Destiny Unbound” to “Lengthwise,” and from “The Connection” to “Crosseyed”- setlists now contain songs spanning the earliest years of Phish to the unreleased.  New pieces, such as “Ocelot,” “Stealing Time From the Faulty Plan,” “Kill Devil Falls,” and “Backwards Down the Number Line,” hopped right into rotation and began to grow in improvisation with each subsequent version.  Others, like the “Sugar Shack” and “Twenty Years Later” only appeared once, leaving much to be discovered come August.  Songs such as “Light,” “Let Me Lie,” and “Joy” fell in between, appearing a couple of times during the three week tour.  Needless to say, Phish’s upcoming album could be their best yet, and we have barely scratched the surface of the many musical realms that these new pieces will take us- (see Bonnaroo’s “Kill Devil Falls” and “Light”).  Never shy with pushing their new material, this could be the strongest new batch of songs we’ve heard from the band since the summer of ’97.

The next chapter of Phish has arrived.  The next month-plus will give us time to give a closer look at all of these musical trends, specific jams and more.  While certainly a building block for August and beyond, this June run had its fair share of incredible moments and magical Phishy rides.  And by the looks of how tour ended- with the two most improvisational shows in the last three- the band is just beginning to hit their stride.  With only a little over a month before their long-awaited return to Red Rocks, we finally have plenty of new Phish jams to keep our ears busy until then!



6.19.09 Official Poster

6.19.09 Deer Creek Noblesville, IN < TORRENT LINK

My favorite show of June- by far.

I: Backwards Down the Number Line, AC/DC Bag, Limb By Limb, The Moma Dance, Water In The Sky, Split Open and Melt, Lawn Boy, The Wedge, Stealing Time From The Faulty Plan, The Connection*, Ocelot, Fluffhead

II: A Song I Heard The Ocean Sing > Drowned > Twist, Let Me Lie, Tweezer > 2001 > Suzy Greenberg, Possum

E: Sleeping Monkey > Tweezer Reprise


Source:  Schoeps CCM4V’S (din) > Lunatec V2 > Benchmark AD2K >
Sound Devices 722 (24/48) – Recorded by Z-Man

headcountCheck out Andy Gadiel’s guest blog on summarizing Phish’s massive presence on the internet in this new age! CREEK6_19
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327 Responses to “Initial Processing”

  1. Selector J Says:

    That must have been it! I must have had a good reason for staying home because I love me some Asheville.

    A fishbowled hotel room with the cop convention in the lobby. If that’s not in a Cheech and Chong movie, it should be.

  2. c0wfunk Says:

    from what I hear it wouldn’t hurt to start booking hotels near coachella if you want to go to halloween ..

  3. Bonnie Kenaz-Mara Says:

    Here’s some old school Phish Phreaks, still rockin’ out with the next generation of Phish fans. These 2 little minnows were going to Phish shows and bouncin’ round the womb, before they were born. The last live shows were played when they were 1 & 3 year olds, tho. So, they’re in the double digits on shows attended, but the 2009 Alpine 2 will be the first they really remember. Love your site. Thanks for the great recaps, downloads and photos.

  4. cottle Says:

    Lovin’ today’s post. I like the point made today that first leg summer tour is more of a journey than a destination. They definitely left the the possibilities for the second leg wide open, especially by closing the tour as strongly as they did, leaving us all frothing at mouth waiting til August. Hartford>Merriweather are gonna be ill. 5 years to the date since Coventry. I’m calling a Curtain With encore for Merriweather…

  5. Mitch Says:

    278 times through TTE??!!!! they must hate that song now, although they dont mess it up live now. practice makes perfect.

    so where are the rest of the songs?

  6. Leo Weaver Says:

    Lots of action this afternoon…

    @cow, definitely do the blog…thought about doing music in college, so know enough theory to be very dangerous…would like and appreciate to read some wisdom. A big part of my love of Phish stems from their stupendous execution of said theory…their compositions are what really got me sucked in…then discovering their improv chops was like heaven. I’d also be very interested in your book…

    My story (parts been posted already so I’ll keep it brief)…32 y/o, married, 2 dogs. Saw first show in Summer 97, then Fall 97, and it was on…I did a lot of SE shows 98-00 with NYE 98 and NYC 00 thrown in for good measure…oh, and was at the last Barcelona 98 show (have been kicking myself since for not making the trek over to Prague or to Denmark). Also did a few 03-04s. I’m in the neighborhood of 30-35 shows. Never seen the dead but always wanted to as a kid. Thinking seriously about doing the gorge (thank for heads up Mr. C…tix to Seattle are only 40+ than PDX), got an extra 2-nite? Doing Merriweather for sure. Live in Charlotte, NC by way of SW Georgia, Athens (UGA), Charleston, SC, and Atlanta.

  7. c0wfunk Says:

    I’m elated – I might have just found myself a great old vintage Korg synth in Craig’s List (which I’m really loving lately) for pretty cheap.

    sorry for the off-topic, I’m just giddy and my wife doesn’t want to hear about it anymore 😉

  8. Mitch Says:

    if you use a mac then you can run your own wiki no problem. Leopard server makes that a piece of cake now.

    I have a Friday gorge (rather I’m in a 3 way trade and we have an extra Friday) for face.

    Both of you hit me up at tickets at facemelt dot net

    I guess were all doing backgrounds, here’s mine. I live in NYC but am from Indiana originally. (went home to deer creek, so awesome) anyway heard Phish a bit in 99 (I’m 25 now so 15 then) I was into dmb so it was a step above and knew the older dudes liked them a lot. In ’00 my older buddies asked me to go to deer creek but I’d blown all myoney seeing dmb 3 times 3 weeks prior and couldn’t swing it. Got big into them during hiatus and after seeing Phish in 03 I disowned dmb. Followed Phish in 03/04 fr dc/alpine out east to the festys. Helped Trey at my job and he helped me get Hampton tix and I got to take my girl and was able to help my buddies score too. Caught 6 more this summer and that puts me at 30 til gorge and spac. Wish i’d been on the bus (or train) sooner but I’ve seen some good stuff so far.

  9. Leo Weaver Says:

    finally getting to AV2 Set 2…WOW! Really digging the Piper right now, but it’s been the shit from the get-go…face melting territory…mmmmm

  10. Mitch Says:

    When I said where are the rest of the songs? I meant: wasn’t there a list of like 20 songs? Wonder if we will hear the others on the road or if they were scrapped.

  11. halcyon Says:

    as a daily lurker sometimes poster…thought I would disclose
    34 getting married in the fall
    first show 5/93 Albany NY
    second time I logged on to Miners Site and the Palace Theater Run was the weekend nugget….saw it as a sign
    Last show was 2/18/03 Denver CO
    Many shows seen between 93 and 03
    Many other shows seen by other bands
    Came to Colorado in 97 for one winter
    Have not left yet
    Appreciate everyones posts here. Wax’s, and Chitowns too (even though Wax’s goes over my head from time to time).

  12. Mitch Says:

    Just read the post about soundboards. To those of you who mix, can you tell what’s up? Are they sacrificing quality for fat output? 03/04 are great. Hampton was killer! I thought they would all sound like Hampton but they don’t come close.

    Also, any UM fans here? They filled my Phish void and I got to see them a bunch back home.

    I also really dug TAB in 03.

  13. Mitch Says:

    * sacrificing for fast output

  14. Henry Holland Says:

    ?The result of this musical shift- hinted at in March- was more rock-based jams and a virtual absence of whole band funk grooves

    I’m soooo happy about that development, those 20 minute funk jams from the late 90’s bore me to tears. Keep the jams compact, to the point and I hope they never descend in to the do space for 5 minutes > thrash around for a new idea > beat that new idea to death > repeat formula again.

    Also, any UM fans here?

    Huge fan, can’t wait for a fall West Coast tour, I might do multiple shows this time. I also like that UM doesn’t seem to have a “scene” around them, people seem to come to the shows and go home. They may get lumped in to the jam band scene, but they’re a prog rock band through-and-through.

  15. halcyon Says:

    Mr C. you were mentioning earlier that you were recently listening to Bluegrass….Check out The Avett Brothers, not really bluegrass, but they make some beautiful music. Emotionalism is a good one to start out at

  16. Dub Says:

    Long time lurker, posted occasionally.
    35, married, 1 month old (so no shows in 3.0 yet. Hoping I can score a Red Rocks ticket). From SE Alabama, now living in NW Denver ‘burbs. Met some girls in FL on Spring break in 93 listening to phish, they invited me and my crew to St. Louis for 4/14/93. First show and hooked. Been to around 20 shows through Big Cypress, only 1 show in 2.0 phish.
    I enjoy this site and reading everyone’s thoughts. Good times.

    Leo – where in SW GA are you from? I have crew from Blakely.

  17. Leo Weaver Says:

    @mitch, thanks…i’ll be in touch

    @dub…colquitt. have spent a LOT of time with good friends from Blakely. We probably know some of the same peeps…

  18. broonum Says:

  19. Dub Says:

    @Leo – probably so. that town is small. most of the kids i know were way more into Panic than Phish. I had to beg a few to finally go to Phish in the late 90s. Alot of them live in Denver now.

  20. Mr. Completely Says:

    @halcyon – I dig the Avett brothers – that kind of rootsy americana stuff is huge in PDX, they have been here a few times.

    from @broomums post:

    1. Twenty Years Later
    2. Backwards Down the Number Line
    3. Stealing Time From the Faulty Plan
    4. Light
    5. Joy
    6. Sugar Shack
    7. Ocelot
    8. Kill Devil Falls
    9. I’ve Been Around
    10. Time Turns Elastic

    @Bonnie, nice post, thank you

    @Mitch – the only sensible diagnosis either of the pros I’ve asked (a couple) had was that Mikes stage rig is so loud in the room that he’s nearly absent from the PA – which is insane/impossible in some of the big outdoor venues but plausible in the indoor places maybe. Only other explanation is some kind of very unprofessional technical faceplant.

    I know a few people who are asking for refunds. I’m just going to hunt for matrixes over the next few weeks.

  21. Leo Weaver Says:

    @ dub…yeah, that town is small (was actually down there in April). I was the token phish kid among panic kids in my circles back in college (well, there were a couple of us…going to MPP with one). went to a bunch of panic shows and always had a good time, but it just never did for me what phish did/does, didn’t even come close…remotely close. I finally gave up trying to get them into Phish, just did my thing with a small group of us heads. And yeah, I know a few of the guys who ended up in denver, 7-8 years ago I think…one dated and moved out there with one of my wife’s good friends (in our wedding), but they’ve since parted ways. good guys for sure…

  22. Mr. Completely Says:

    @sumodie if you see this, thanks for links earlier! pulling a few more matrixes now…we’ll see

  23. whole tour! Says:

    ^ i’d love to hear those matrix!

  24. guyforget Says:

    Man, i’ve been so busy at work/life, haven’t been around for a while. You regulars are always good for a good laugh. Only caught the Fox show, great to back in the scene. SOAM, good to see you made it back from June leg alive.

    Born in NJ, live in AZ
    First 11/22/97
    Latest, Fox
    I think i have 32 under the belt, missed out on IT and Great Went, big regrets.
    First concert, Charlie Daniels band at Great Adventure when i was like 8
    First “real” show, KISS at Brendan Byrne circa 1989.

    Eagerly awaiting Red Rocks>Gorge, will be there for all. See you fools on the road.

  25. TheDropper Says:

    Here are some pics of the lightning I pulled off of youtube.

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