Moments In a Box: The Midwest

6.19.09 (D.Vann)

6.19.09 Deer Creek (D.Vann)

Finishing up our run through tour this week, today we will look at some of the most transcendent moments of Phish’s final June leg.  Having built improvisational momentum over the previous weeks, the band certainly kicked it up a notch for their final four nights.  Contained within this weekend were some of the most exploratory jaunts of the tour, foreshadowing what awaits come August and beyond.  Though hard to select just a few, here are some moments in time that no one will dispute.


“Oceans > Drowned > Twist” Deer Creek, 6.19 II

Take your pick, because this entire segment of music is pure money.  Following an unprecedented hour-long rain delay before the second set, sparked by a monsoon and copious lightning you might see in National Geographic, the house lights finally went dark.  Just as promised, they started set two at 11pm, and given the torrential circumstances, we all knew we were in for something special.

6.19.09 Deer Creek (D.Vann)

6.19.09 (D.Vann)

Playing off the soaking wet surroundings, the band took things out with the welcomed heavy drop into “A Song I Heard the Ocean Sing.”  Exactly five years to the day that the band unveiled their SPAC epic, they used it to launch the best set of June.  After breaking out the template in Knoxville, we knew that the song was back in the mix, and we would eventually get that next big version we had so eagerly awaited.  And on the five year anniversary of its definitive excursion, we had waited long enough.

6.19 (D.Vann)

6.19 (D.Vann)

Taking the song beyond its guitar-led jam and into an ambient wonderland of percussive rhythm and psychedelic sorcery, Phish delivered.  Given its context, the highly-anticipated jam couldn’t have been delivered at a more powerful time.  As the band worked through a spectrum of deep mystic textures, Trey sprinkled some of his magic atop, guiding our way through the forest beautifully.  As they wound down their improv to a piano solo, Page transformed the piece with a seamless transition into “Drowned.”  Moving from “Oceans” to “Drowned,” Phish was definitely toying with their setlist while annihilating the jams that stemmed from each song.  The Who cover similarly transcended its structure into a dirtier jam that wound its way to some high speed funk chops.  Combining two stylistically different pieces, Phish- inspired by the weather- took the crowd by storm.

Potentially a bit prematurely, Trey came in with the opening chords of “Twist”- a third creative jam strung together to begin the set.  With some of the tightest playing of this opening triumvirate, “Twist” was an ideal and familiar landing point for this segment of madness.  Given the context of the band’s contained playing all tour, this “moment” was incredibly encouraging.




“Tweezer Reprise” Deer Creek, 6.19 E

!!!!! - 6.19 Deer Creek

!!!!! - 6.19 Deer Creek

Following the band’s most creative and exploratory new-school set, and sheltered from the insane weather slamming the amphitheare, Phish let loose.  With lightning bolts framing the stage- and one particularly awing strike on the right side of the pavilion during the song’s initial build- everyone’s heads were on the verge of explosion.  There are musical moments, and then there are experiential moments of unbridled energy, passion, and adrenaline; those when life simply can not feel any better or more exalting.  This was one of those times. Everyone– from Trey marching like a madman on stage, to the last soaking fan on the lawn- was so alive at this moment, energy coursing through our collective existence, as mother nature and Phish converged in a spectacle like none other.  Sure there have been rainstorms at shows, but this was different.   This was 2009; this was Deer Creek; and Phish had just played the greatest set since their return.  They weren’t playing “Taste” when lightning struck close by (a la Raleigh ’97), they were playing freakin’ “Reprise” in a complete deluge!  Sometimes, life just doesn’t doesn’t get any better, and when you saw the band framed by lightening bolts, peaking the show- well, I get goosebumps just thinking of it.




“Piper” Alpine Valley, 6.21 II

6.21 Alpine (D.Vann)

6.21 Alpine (D.Vann)

After blasting off the last set of tour with the unexpected and ambient-laced highlight of “Crosseyed > Disease, Phish landed in a soaring version of “Bug” to wrap up their initial segment.  But as the ending of the song was carried out, Phish wasn’t about to slow down, slipping into “Piper.”  While the other two “Pipers” on tour (JB, and Star Lake) were exploratory and adventurous, they weren’t necessarily the most cohesive pieces of improv.  This would be different.

6.21 (D.Vann)

6.21 (D.Vann)

Cannonballing into the jam, the band wasted no time hitting the gas. Immediately they locked into some full-on, take-no-prisoners, type playing.  After the earlier adventures of the set, the band was warmed up and navigating the music as one entity; one of those times when they seem like a four-headed monster.  Trey and Page engaged in some fast-paced interplay, while Fish sat into a series of breakbeats that gave the music an urgent, sprinting feel.  Stopping, starting, and cutting on a dime, Phish ran though this jam like Barry Sanders effortlessly evading tacklers.  Completely in tune with each other, the band nailed one of June’s tightest pieces of improv.

It felt like Phish hit a stride in this “Piper,” powerfully uniting their musical ideas, taking risks and succeeding; a process that wasn’t omni-present on tour.  This was an instance where the music took on a life of its own; the music was playing them.  Ridiculously dense, filled with copious musical thoughts, this “Piper” was an encouraging piece of psychedelia as the tour wound down.  Getting exploratory without losing their cohesion is a mark of success in Phish’s current progression of their craft.  Heading into leg two, Deer Creek and this Alpine show upped the ante of what’s to come.  But looking back, this “Piper” is right up there with any jam of June.





11.16.1996 Civic Center, Omaha, NE < TORRENT

11.16.1996 Civic Center, Omaha, NE < SENDSPACE

phish-kiel-center-96This download comes as a result of much reader discussion.  Lauded for its otherworldly “Hood” which saw Trey hold one note for almost three minutes straight, this show was both unique and enthralling.  Boasting an odd setlist with even more peculiar execution, Phish crafted a wild ride on this night in Nebraska.  See the “Hood” video below!

I: Poor Heart, Down With Disease, Guyute, Gumbo, Rift, Free, The Old Home Place, David Bowie, Lawn Boy, Sparkle, Frankenstein

II: La Grange, Runaway Jim > Kung* > Catapult, Axilla > Harry Hood, Suzie Greenberg, Amazing Grace

E: We’re an American Band^

*w/ Vibration of Life


Source: Unknown

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245 Responses to “Moments In a Box: The Midwest”

  1. KWL Says:

    @guitarpicker I second that call on 12.28.97. One of my all time favorite melts, just blew me away when I heard it. Definitely underrated, long in heavy rotation for me

    re: 3.0 jamming. the other day I was thinking about how the boys had only played something like 18 shows after a 5 year break. It takes time to create what phish creates/has created/will create again. after only 18 shows, I think what they have done is pretty significant following a 5 year absence. 6 years if you consider the fact that they hardly played in 2004 (18 shows). And when was the last time they played where all four were collectively healthy, happy, and moving in the right direction?

  2. Frondoot Says:

    @ msb….i also thought the undermind songs were a treat where ever they popped. undermind asihtos and the connection were all single song highlights throughout the tour for me

  3. notkuroda Says:

    as an aside I watched the doors last night and thought about some of morrison’s statements about “using the music to break through” and “prolonged derangement of the senses to achieve the unknown”. could Sober Phish actually be the first band to really push this, and not die an early death? That would be really cool

  4. Kaveh Says:

    @KWL: re: 3.0 jamming: Amen!

  5. Leo Weaver Says:

    Yeah, I’ve been enjoying the Underminds…after they wrapped it up in Hampton, I thought “Holy shit that was FUN!!!”

    Then Knoxville…Fish tore it up then Mike had to out-do him. Kinda funny during Fish’s solo…sounds like he was bringing it to an end but Trey jumped back in and forced another few rounds…and then came the Gordo-bombs. That song is QUICKLY moving up my list of faves…

  6. msbjivein Says:

    @ DC we heard a bunch of new songs ……BDTNL,STFTFP,Connection,Ocelot all 1st set. ASIHTOS(not really new but damn close),Let Me Lie in 2nd set. I think that might be the most new songs in one show for 3.0.

  7. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    You can tell they are having a good time (finally!) getting to play Undermind. That Knoxville version is just plain fun.

  8. butter Says:

    @nonoyolker I respectfully disagree with your take on the stones. when is the last time you saw them?
    do not dismiss their staying power. ( i guess you can if you want, but i can stick up for ’em) we saw them blow the roof off the mgm grand’s indoor venue just 3 years ago.

  9. SOAM Says:

    The sooner government officials retire and are put out to pasture-the sooner we get a younger and more reasonable governing body who will surely not be in denial regarding marijuana and the hypocrisy that has enabled alcohol and cigarettes to be freely distributed with all their damaging effects to both users and victim’s. The major corporations-alcohol-drug and cigarettes surely have put pressure on the government to deny legalization. We are losing millions of dollars in incarcerations and letting the black market profit from while we go broke-completely nonsensical.
    Dig it

  10. SOAM Says:

    I just watched Let’s spend the night together-a stones concert from 82-really great and while these days a majority of the people who go to stones shows sit down they can still get it going. 2 great guitarists and one unreal-incredible drummer.

  11. butter Says:

    ^^Obama is down, things will change. In the mean time we have a lot of the old crusties still in place, fighting the “war on drugs”.

  12. Leo Weaver Says:

    @SOAM…not sure where that came from (did I miss something?), but WORD bro! It’s all a big politico scam and has been since Mr. Hurst started the campaign against “unruly jazz musicians” way back in 1937 (I think that was it)…it’ll be legal or “non-criminal” in our lifetimes. At least they’ve figured out it may be a good taxable item…

  13. R1 Says:

    @Obama is not nearly as “down” as he claimed to be. He talked quite a big game during the election, but has yet to show significant action.

    Obama needs to step up and follow through on promises made to his liberal core supporters. He could reverse “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” with one signature, but refuses to do so. Just one example.

    Joe Biden was one of the leading forces behind the War on Drugs and he’s still playing a major role in policy-making in that area.

  14. ColonelJoy Says:


    When I get back I want to drink the beer you buy for me….maybe it will be an $8.00 9.oz Pavillion Coors Light, or maybe a $3.00 lot Sammy Smith’s Oatmeal Stout….are they still selling those on tour?

  15. Leo Weaver Says:

    Hehe, Sammy Smith’s Oatmeal Stout…I sold those in NOLA and Oak Mtn back in ’99. Well, they sold themselves really, I just pulled the cooler about 100 yards down the drive aisle.

  16. butter Says:

    @R1 def don’t want to go political war on a fri, much more of a moody monday thing.
    When I said “Obama is down” i should have clarified what i was claiming he is down with.
    Medical Marijuana and states rights is what i was referring to.

  17. ColonelJoy Says:

    About Obama,

    The idea of Obama is a nice one. I voted for him with an absentee ballot, but the reality is a total different matter, one I was well aware of before I cast my vote…

    Our government was not designed to function, to be effective at anything other than national defense–it’s the only thing we really spend money on. The culture doesn’t allow beurocratic efficacy.

    In Obama’s case, the economy, which contrary to popular belief isn’t soley Bush’s fault, but simply a natural progression of modern capitalism with twenty years of growth over stability monetary policy…’s beyond government control or management.

    What I mean is that we don’t have a country defined by laws or governance really, we have one defined by the private sector only

    Obama is destined to be Jimmy Carter. There is no other path. Don’t be fooled by the weakness in the republican party. This country has one more run of christian/fascist rule, and that is what will follow Obama, likely in a form worse than W.

  18. GuitarPicker420! Says:

    I find that an Oaty Stout really hits the spot on Winter or Fall tour. Summer tour calls for something a bit lighter. Of course, you could always do what me and my bro did for Dylan on Wednesday and shotgun some miller lite in a hospital parking lot!

  19. GuitarPicker420! Says:

    @Joy – God help us all if the Christian right comes back to power.

  20. Mr.Miner Says:

    there will me no more island run questioning on here- those four shows are sacred 😉

    jk…carry on…

  21. Mr.Miner Says:

    Island run = best four night run in history….by far…I can’t believe people even debate the point. Its the closest thing to “objective” in Phish talk.

  22. Phamily Berzerker Says:

    Gotta Say this is great that this site can garner critical conversations around folks’ opinions without degradation of the open warm vibe.

    My Fav Ghosts, all with some merit:
    Dallas 97
    Denver 97
    Phoenix 98

    T-mnius 20 days

  23. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    I agree that the oaty stout is a little heady for summer tour. If I had to pick one beer for lot time, it’d be Sierra Nevada Pale or something similar. If you need to stick with Sammy though, the nut brown is a good summer choice!

  24. butter Says:

    I’m so sorry for participating in political bullshit talk on this awesome site… about that tweezer reprise?

  25. ColonelJoy Says:

    Jams of historic significance in 09’…

    I would argue only two, really, and both happened at Camden.

    Wolfman’s, because it is the finest concise version of that song, and Tweezer because it is the most powerful short Tweezer, sort of an extended reprise intensity.

    The Sand, while excellent, didn’t represent anythign new in jamming historically, maybe in 3.0, because, gasp….it went over 12 minutes!

    Asheville Ghost is again good, but in the pantheon of Ghosts, or other jams where Trey peaks out nicely, as he certainly did in this one, it isn’t overwhelming.

    Yes, I don’t include anything from the great end-of-the-run. After the show my friend called and said “Best Piper Ever!!”….when in reality it is simply the best one this year, and all the others blew chunks. It is a slightly above average Piper, and the other stuff that was quite good in the end won’t be spewed over for years to come either…..that is what constitutes historic significance…when you spew over it years later….

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