Finishing In Style

8.2.09 Red Rocks (G.Lucas)

8.2.09 Red Rocks (G.Lucas)

Phish concluded their triumphant Red Rocks extravaganza with another eye-popping show that was anchored by a stellar second set of fluid improv.  With the help of Grateful Dead drummer, Billy Kreutzmann, Phish once again showcased their new-found desire to explore the musical unknown, concluding their stay in Colorado with one of the most impressive sets of the weekend.  Blending in with ease, Kreuztmann added complimentary rhythms and percussive nuances, while often playing overlapping beats with Fishman- giving us a taste of what Phish might have sounded like with a second drummer.  Having played with both Trey and Mike in their side-project, Serialpod, Billy K clearly felt comfortable onstage with Phish, and turned out to be a outstanding guest that certainly enhanced the music, and provided symbolic significance on the weekend of Jerry Garcia’s birthday.  In a venue the Dead also played in their heyday, Billy was the third member of the Grateful Dead to join Phish onstage, providing a special surprise ending to the band’s magnificent stay between the iconic rocks of Morrison.

8.2.09 (G.Lucas)

8.2.09 (G.Lucas)

Before Kreutzmann joined the band, however, Phish had a bit a business to take care of themselves.  Opening their third consecutive second-set with a cover, this time “Boogie On Reggae Woman” was the chosen vehicle to commence the psychedelic festivities.  Phish took the rarely-extended song on an odyssey that strayed miles from the song’s structure, and like the best jams this weekend, featured several unique segments of bold, cohesive improv that connected seamlessly and artistically.  Phish was tapped in again last night, going for it and succeeding with flying colors.  Taking the set opener far beyond the funk, the band got into some high-paced dance rhythms as Trey threw down continual nasty licks with Jedi-like confidence, while Mike held down the bottom end with uber-creative playing- a characteristic of his entire night.  Taking the jam beyond faster grooves into a darker milieu with dissonant guitar growls and sustained organ swells, Phish was again creating totally unique music on the spot without hesitation, tickling that part of us that has been waiting for this for so long.  Passing through a segment of rock grooves, the band eventually reached a more subtle and percussive canvas, and wound down the set opening excursion masterfully.

8.2.09 (G.Lucas)

8.2.09 (G.Lucas)

Following up the massive opening jam, and after a brief pause, the band dropped the big Red Rocks “YEM” that everyone was so eagerly anticipating.  Moving through the compositional opus sharply and cleanly, Phish was playing this one like they meant it.  Placing “YEM” early in a set rather than at the end always makes it more exciting and dramatic, two words that could definitely be used to describe last night’s version.  Tearing apart every aspect of the song, the band oozed energy and enthusiasm as their music pierced the night air with sublime interplay.  A version played with more passion and creativity than any we’ve heard in this era, the Rocks were certainly rocking as ten thousand deep got their groove on.  But just as Kuroda covered the stage in darkness and smoke for the vocal jam, a second drum set was set up on the down low.  And when the band concluded with a rhythmic vocal pattern, Fishman and Kreutzmann- un-introduced and in reflective goggles- began subtly drumming along.  Picking up the groove, the band segued perfectly into “Undermind.”

8.2.09 (G.Lucas)

8.2.09 (G.Lucas)

Interestingly, when Kreutzmann joined the band, they unveiled many of their most rhythmically intricate pieces.  Between the chunky grooves of “Undermind,” the space-funk of “2001” and the odd time signature of “Seven Below” and “Waves,” Billy clearly wasn’t sitting in just for kicks.  Taking their collaboration seriously, Billy and Fish went to work creating dynamic percussive patterns throughout the rhythm-based “Undermind,” in the best version to date.  As the song wrapped up, Trey, Mike, and Page, turned to the drummers and stared motionlessly while Fish and Billy went into their own version of “Drums.”  Drum solos can sometimes become lackluster moments at shows, but with two of the greatest drummers on earth sitting next to each other, that just wasn’t going to happen.  Getting into some polyrhythmic patterns, the drummers showcased why they are the backbones of the two most legendary improvisational rock bands in history.

8.2.09 (G.Lucas)

8.2.09 (G.Lucas)

Without stopping, the band joined back for the beginning of “Seven Below,” centering the post-hiatus launchpad in meat of the show.  As they worked their way cohesively through the initial build of the jam, Gordon was littering the music with disgusting bass lines, and the two-drummer combo added a rhythmic density to the piece that would soon depart the song’s structure for the most psychedelic segment of the show.  As effects were layered into the mix, the drummer’s added an organized chaos, creating a primordial musical stew.  Trey began a repetitive lick in the midst of this madness that turned the jam up to 11.  These were some of the most unique moments of the weekend, as Phish threw down some heavy music that barely sounded like themselves, and soon, it was apparent that we we heading for the “2001” that everyone knew was coming Sunday night.

8.2.09 (G.Lucas)

8.2.09 (G.Lucas)

As the drummer’s made the initial hits and settled into a groove, their beats became infectious.  With slower, more accented backing, the band was able to get more creative with their funk cover.  Following the first theme, Fish and Kreutzmann got into some distinctly divergent beats, creating much jazzier feel to the song and inviting Mike to add some simply redonkulous bass lines, continuing his masterful night.  In all the Phish-Dead fusion, no band has ever thrown down a “2001” and this one grew into the closest thing to “type II” material we’ve ever heard from the song.  In another set of non-stop highlights, “Seven Below > 2001 > Waves” stands out as one of the brightest passages.  When the band took “2001” to the top, they didn’t sit there, but instead moved into some outro funk that quickly transformed into “Waves”- a song that Trey, Mike, and Billy played together in Serialpod.  The rhythmic familiarity that Billy brought to the song facilitated a soaring rendition that saw some all-star guitar work by Trey leading the charge.  This inspired improv capped an incredible non-stop segment of music that had started with “You Enjoy Myself” before a dirty “Charcter Zero” closed the set and concluded Kreutzmann’s stellar sit-in.

Pollock Red Rocks Print

Pollock Red Rocks Print

When Phish came out for their last encore of the weekend, there was a feeling of joyous appreciation for everything that had happened since Thursday- and taboot, everyone knew that “Slave” would be the musical confirmation of that emotion.  But before Phish finished one of the greatest four night stands of their career with their majestic show stopper, Trey honored his daughter’s persistent request of “Bittersweet Motel” whose simple, heartfelt melodies fit the ending of such a special weekend.  And when “Bouncing” started, a triple-encore was imminent.

The past four nights were nothing short of the most magical Phish in memory.  Challenging themselves and us, like the band we know and love, things could not be more encouraging as we start a new week of our lives.  Any expectations anyone could have possibly had for these shows were so far surpassed that it’s silly- and this was only the beginning of tour.  Whatever happened over the past five weeks has transformed Phish into a whole new monster who will be visiting the Bay Area on Wednesday.  I’ll see you there.

***

Set One Notes: A marathon first set was one of those “list of song” sets, but had many pieces that stood out.  Opening with “Roses Are Free” got the party started right, though the band didn’t take it anywhere.  “Prince Caspian” was the first piece to really stand out in the night, as the oddly-placed first setter got the full treatment, and a stirring “Reba” brought us from light to dark in an ideal sunset soundtrack.  The set also featured the second-ever versions of Page’s “Beauty of a Broken Heart” that was debuted in Hampton and Mike’s “Sugar Shack” that was debuted in Camden- both welcome additions to Phish’s catalog.  The band closed with “Kill Devil Falls” that got into a jam the vain of Bonnaroo’s version, but not quite as extensive, illustrating the band’s desire to explore their new pieces.  This was one of those well played, but fairly tame sets that set up something much bigger after the break -and it did its job quite well.

I: Roses Are Free, Wilson, NICU, Prince Caspian, Get Back on the Train, Reba, Grind, Beauty of a Broken Heart, Sample in a Jar, Sugar Shack, Waste, Kill Devil Falls
II: Boogie on Reggae Woman, You Enjoy Myself > Undermind* > Drums* > Seven Below* > 2001* > Waves*, Character Zero*
E: Bittersweet Motel, Bouncing Around The Room, Slave to the Traffic Light
* with Billy Kreutzmann

-2

8.2.09 (Photo: Graham Lucas)

445 Responses to “Finishing In Style”

  1. ColonelJoy Says:

    @Stash,

    Take her to Indio….

  2. ColonelJoy Says:

    Yeah, that gig in VT….not a good first show, no doubt….

  3. albert walker Says:

    Joy

    the buzz for Indio was building all weekend
    all you kept hearing, with them playin like this, bring on Indio
    there new found jamming is causing people to seriously rethink what those 8 sets may bring us

  4. larry bird flu Says:

    jesus col. if she hasnt been exposed to lifetime yet deffinatley block it. once she finds out about it theres no turning back

  5. stash Says:

    colonel,

    i’m an east coaster, wife, two boys, you know. would i love too? sure. waiting for two nights at great woods next summer. wouldn’t even dare to bring her to another festival. i love my wife and phish. slow…..slow…slow……

    waves just ended from last night, just a groove…. not bad.

  6. ColonelJoy Says:

    Porn and Sports channels…she’ll think that’s the only thing on American tv…

  7. ColonelJoy Says:

    Yeah, it’s tough, Stash…this adulthood b.s.

  8. ColonelJoy Says:

    Oh, and comedy central, too

  9. ColonelJoy Says:

    Ah, Fuck…yeah, she loves Larry David and Curb

  10. stash Says:

    being an adult isn’t so bad. my wife is cool, so are my boys. my youngest plays some guitar, mostly air, but it’s fun to watch. the no spoilers and a place to chat helps.

  11. ColonelJoy Says:

    adulthood sucks, Stash….but I’m tolerating it, wouldn’t trade it in

  12. voopa Says:

    It’s really easy to say a band sucks. Even if they’ve been on the road and selling out shows for years. But I just can’t do it. Sure, I’m not a WSP or SCI fan, but I can’t say they suck…certainly not when they can make a fucking living by playing. I don’t like The Jonas Brothers either, but ask my 12 yo niece her opinion of them. Or ask millions what they think of Kanye.

    I just don’t understand how people are so quick to rip apart something they don’t like. Just move on.

    Sorry, the moe. bashing got me a little riled up.

    I leik The Phish. I hear they cover Gin and Juice!

  13. Mr. Completely Says:

    @word stash

    I miss being able to jump on tour but the upside is lightyears beyond

    next step: become very rich, do both (wife would do tour in a heartbeat if we could afford it)

  14. gavinsdad Says:

    spicy picante salsa in here today! too busy at work (3 day work week, gotta focus) to hang out today but thank you for the amusing, opinionated, and insightful comments as always.

    cheers to that 12/30/97 ac/dc bag….listening now…holy grailesqe? yes.

    see you dudes at the gorge. i’m in the plaid short sleeve, and have been for the past 15+ years. i’d say waterwheel 45-30 MINS before hand b/c you all know how lines can be (i know, i know, left…go left!) and we all have rituals and getting settled in to do before they take the stage. and then up top we go for halftime.

    enjoy shoreline…those of you hitting that one.

  15. ColonelJoy Says:

    I am blown away every time I watch Lawrence of Arabia…

    I need to get that book, “The Seven Pillars of Wisdom” that T.E. Lawrence wrote…

  16. Mr. Completely Says:

    now that we’re talking about left I bet they’ve changed the setup

    45-30 before scheduled start WFM

  17. Mr. Completely Says:

    @Colonel, it has to be more gripping than the Clausewitz I’m pushing through now. Brilliant, but heavy going, wow

    New Pynchon on Weds – supposed to be a light and breezy read

  18. stash Says:

    yeah, being rich would be nice. we’re in the process of buying a house right now…tour…house…tour…house…..ok…….. wife gets a house for her brithday. “when the only tool you have is a hammer…” i love this song.

    just look at this tour, family is a big part of it all. you can’t enjoy the party if you don’t have a good place to land.

  19. larry bird flu Says:

    who amongst you men is doing the east coast run? i feel we should get a phish thoughts east coast meetup as well if at all possible

  20. larry bird flu Says:

    got me thinking, are there any ladies on here( aside from the occasional mrs. miner post) or is this a fraternal orginization like the stonecutters or the freemasons?

  21. EL Duderino Says:

    The Gorge and Toyota for me only on this second leg.

  22. ColonelJoy Says:

    Yeah, I’m reading Cormac McCarthy’s “Blood Meridian” right now….that bastard can write. Never Read Pynchon….doesn’t he write like 1000 page novels….light and breezy?

  23. ColonelJoy Says:

    @Larry,

    just lonely hang-downs

  24. larry bird flu Says:

    blood meridian is one of the great books of our time. anyone here ever read richard russo? his new one comes out this week as well

  25. ColonelJoy Says:

    So much to read….I’ve read some great shit recently, though….that is for sure

    Check out Jack London’s “Martin Eden” Flawed, but great…as a struggling novelist…I loved it

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