One of Phish’s most revered songs, “Harry Hood’s” emotional quality and ethereal improvisation taps into the very ethos of the band and their grand musical experiment. A tightly-woven path of exaltation, “Hood” jams, when played with intent, are like none other. Peaking with a mind-boggling, yet blissful intensity, I consider “Hoods” to be musical metaphors for life itself. One of the band’s most magical pieces, “Harry Hood” is pure Phish.
But there came a time, around ’98 through ’00, where the band continued playing the song, but with much less passion. Often noodling their way to generic peaks, the start of “Harry Hood,” instead of giving me instant goosebumps, was almost a letdown, because I knew how great it could be. Then came post-hiatus. With more energy and an exploratory spirit, Phish began taking “Hoods” where they’d never gone before- crafting two for the record books in Charlotte and Camden in the Summer of ’03. But just as the band was getting into things, it was over.
Fast Forward to this summer. Beginning with Jones Beach’s other-worldly experimentation, “Hood” announced itself on the summer scene with a deeply-psychedelic excursion, leaving the entire crowd buzzing long after the show. Bringing the jam to a new realm of ambient space, Phish made a statement with “Harry Hood,” reawakening its hibernating spirit from the corner of the universe, and back into our lives.
When Phish dropped the next “Hood” at Great Woods, those goosebumps were back. Combining musical urgency and a delicate patience- seemingly a paradox- Phish played perhaps the tightest and most triumphant version of the summer. Extending the jam with mini musical tangents, this was the type of “Hood,” that when it finally arrives at its peak, finds the entire crowd involuntarily blissed out. All four members carried on a vibrant musical conversation, each offering creative musical phrases; none dominating at all. If Jones Beach represented a dark spiritual awakening, this climactic version was a soulful sprint through an open meadow with deepest blue sky and long green grass swirling around you. “Hood” was officially back- and it had never felt better.
As Phish continued to drop frequent “Hoods” throughout June, each and every one was welcomed with rife anticipation of where the ride might take us. Remaining anchored in the jam’s structure, each brought a brilliant improvisational path, as the band and audience rejoiced in one of their most hallowed pieces. Knoxville and Bonnaroo’s versions each crafted a gentle journey that was a highlight of their respective sets. June’s final version came at Star Lake, a soaring and emotive rendition led by Trey’s dynamic playing- again, one of the jams of the night.
“Harry Hood” fell right in line with the band’s June trend of tight, purposeful improvisation that remained, largely, inside the box. But being a song that never strayed far from its path (other than in ’03) this suited “Harry” just right. With a renewed intent, Phish crafted spiritual excursions out of “Hood” all tour long, reconnecting with their own souls as well as ours.
DOWNLOAD OF THE DAY:
6.18.09 Star Lake, Burgettstown, PA < TORRENT
6.18.09 Star Lake, Burgettstown, PA < MEGAUPLOAD
The first of June’s final four nights, Phish improvised coherently throughout the second set. Warming them up for Deer Creek and Alpine, this show became far more interesting after setbreak. The “Disease > Free,” “Piper,” and “Hood” are all highlight explorations, while the “YEM” was, in my opinion, the best of tour.
I: Golgi Apparatus, Chalk Dust Torture, Bouncing Around the Room, Wolfman’s Brother, The Divided Sky, Heavy Things, Walk Away, Wilson, Tube, Alaska, David Bowie
II: Down With Disease > Free, Guyute, Piper > When The Circus Comes To Town, Harry Hood, The Squirming Coil, You Enjoy Myself
E: Grind, Hello My Baby, Hold Your Head Up > Bike > Hold Your Head Up, Loving Cup
Source: Schoeps CCM4V’S(din)-FOB > Lunatec V2 > Sound Devices 722 (24/48) – Taper: Z-Man
Phish At the Fox – Photo: Brian Kisida