Control For Smilers

7.30.09 Red Rocks (G.Lucas)

7.30.09 Red Rocks (G.Lucas)

There were so many ridiculous jams and highlights from Red Rocks that it would be very easy to overlook one of the best pieces of the weekend.  Wedged in the middle of the tour’s first set, Phish dove deeply into “Stash,” obliterating any single piece of improv that we’d heard in ’09.  While first sets of tours can often be disjointed (though this one flowed better than most) there is usually at least one jam of note- but they are not usually like this.  Interestingly, the band has used “Stash” in each of their three tour-opening sets at Hampton, Fenway, and Red Rocks as their initial dip into psychedelic lava.  It seems that Phish likes to warm their chops on their revered classic before digging into further improv.  The previous opening-set versions have been legitimate, type one-ish jams- but this time things would be different.  Expecting another “warm up” jam, Phish threw down a twenty-minute odyssey, and after four days of bliss, it deserves to be revisited.

7.31.09 (B.Carlson)

7.31.09 (B.Carlson)

Placing “Stash” in the middle-to-latter part of the set, the band got some songs under their belts before pulling the pavement from under their nails.  Commencing the jam as the day’s light faded, we were headed into darkness in more ways than one.  As they opened the door to the evening, Mike led the band, thumping ominously-  foreshadowing his leadership throughout this jam, and his all-world playing throughout the weekend.  As the band worked through the initial part of the “Stash” jam, you could tell that something was different from June- they were flowing, and didn’t seem to be in their own heads so much; they were shredding as if sharing a brain.  Glued together and pushed by Gordon, they built their way into a nasty jam where each member contributed to the greater whole.

Fishman began to bring the jam off its linear course, dropping his driving beat in favor of softer, more shimmering rhythm.  Trey quickly took the invitation, following Fishman outwards, with Page and Mike not far behind.  After the music built into a cacophonous brew, Trey and Page charted a different course, adding a melodic direction to the improv, and at this point the jam really took off.

7.30.09 (G.Lucas)

7.30.09 (G.Lucas)

As the band soared into completely original territory, previewing the monstrous weekend we were about to have, we also got a taste of how well Trey and Mike would play together throughout the stand.  When Trey and Mike are complementing each other as well as they were at Red Rocks, it’s hard for the band to go wrong.  Both of them offered innovative ideas, and fit them congruently in place with each other.  Their musical conversations were precise and creative, leading to jams we never saw coming- and this “Stash” was the first.  Leaving the song’s structure completely, the band reached inspirational places that swept us away into a weekend we will never forget.  Once reaching a point of pure improv, the band wove a tapestry of beautiful darkness- a musical paradox that some of the best Phish jams embody.  Gradually increasing in tempo, the exalting piece reached an enormous peak led by Trey’s rolling melodies before the band seamlessly- and dramatically- crashed back into the “Stash” jam.

Carving away at the song’s final build, the band didn’t simply jump to the lick. Instead, they took their time to peak the composed “Stash” jam before wrapping up a monumental segment that had us staring at each other in disbelief.  What had just happened?  Was this now the deal?  We would soon find out that yes, in fact, it was; and this “Stash” in Red Rocks’ initial set was the first to let us in on that that little secret that we all discovered in Colorado- we have our band back again!


7.30.09 (G.Lucas)

7.30.09 (Photo: Graham Lucas)

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499 Responses to “Control For Smilers”

  1. SJC Says:

    ^lol. This was his hometown show, no?

  2. Brian Says:

    through set I and onto II

    this is actually a good version of TTE. Still sort of indifferent to it, but it was tight and played with a bit more drive…didn’t feel like it dragged as much as previous versions.

    nice suzy and bowie to close out…amped to hear the oh, sweet nuthin’ revival. I’ve always felt like they should resurrect that tune.

    I’d love to hear some other remain in light tunes brought back out..born under punches, the great curve..

  3. andrewrose Says:

    How was the DWD? It was 20 minutes by the looks of it… Downloading the taylorc auds via etree/bt now…

  4. mmm hmm Says:

    Wheres Miner? Im jonesing for a new post from Shoreline!

  5. notkuroda Says:

    I will def TRY to get to the ww booth for the meetup on friday. It is more likely that I will be at the top of the lawn for the unofficial setbreak meetup. Return of the Jedi shirt, green phish visor, alien shades, big smile. I’ll be easy to find 😉

  6. stash Says:

    anyone else having a problem with the no spoilers? mine started to download and now it’s just sitting there.

    i hope minor had phun. looks like a really great show. TTE held up? the more they play it the better it gets. one day it’ll really rip.

  7. Pence Says:

    Cant pickup any sort of theme this show just by looking at the setlist, but Im eager to hear it. Especially the 2nd set looks read-icculus.

  8. halcyon Says:

    Stash …. no problems on this end dl’ing the shows a bit slower than usual…..

    I too will try and make it to ww before showtime…looking at my flight itinerary now…I am going to cut it close….hopefully I can make it on time and meet some of you kats.

  9. msbjivein Says:

    Anyone Else hearing that Shoreline was lackluster?? I wasn’t there just heard from a friend that was there that Trey was off mainly 2nd set. I just can’t see how they could have fallen off that much since RR. Now my friend was at RR so maybe he got spoiled. I just wanna hear some other opinions on the show from people that were there. Anyone………………

  10. msbjivein Says:

    Not trying to be Buddy Buzzkill just want some more insight on the show. Again, I wasn’t there.

  11. Leo Weaver Says:

    I think last night was perfect timing for a let down show, just after a HUGE 4 night run and before a potentially HUGE 2 nights (both at storied venues)…but I wasn’t there and haven’t heard it so will not judge

    @tele…good call on Ice for the weekend

    Not getting anything done here today…should be prepping for next week since it’s jam packed with work and only 3 days long (between gorge and MPP). I have a feeling there’s gonna be a blank space where my mind should be…

  12. msbjivein Says:

    Leo, Merriweather Post WILL be off the Hook!! See you there. I can’t make Gorge but that will not be a let down for sure. This will be an epic Phish weekend. Won’t be at another show til Chi-town.

  13. Aquaman Says:


    I agree. I like SMelt and Mule for those two songs. Much easier.


  14. smegma Says:

    How many times have they played bowie and maze in the same show? (similar intro’s) I’m sure it’s happened before, just can’t think of a time. I’ve listened to about half way through bowie (that’s when that question struck me). Pretty good first set. bowie’s getting interesting. mike came in early on the drop but it really didn’t sound bad.

  15. Adam R. Says:

    @smegman- Check out 3-31-93…They played Maze and Bowie in the same set (can’t remember if it was the 1st or 2nd). This show also has one of my favorite Hoods. This show is available on the spreadsheet.

  16. GuitarPicker420! Says:

    @msb – are you staying up in Chi-town or heading back to Indy after the show?

  17. SOAM Says:

    I was told that shoreline rocked-the comment was -it was LOUD-Very loud-which I love.-Great rockers in set 1-nice set 2 trifecta opener and for me-(not there) the juice would have flowed for the Cities/Maze

    Cities-well done-has that funky jam in it and Maze is well, Maze-balls to the wall-super freak out-every time.

  18. Pence Says:

    wheres my daily dose of phishy bloggy goodness miner? Im struggling here at work.

  19. SOAM Says:

    Miner is in his Pavillion seat as we speak……

  20. SOAM Says:

    Now-is it still to early to talk about songs that may be/have been shelved-at least temporarily?

    Where in the world is: Pebbles and Marbles, Walls of the Cave, LLama, My Soul (love the Guitar in my Soul) and all the bluegrass/country tunes-Old Home Place, Rocky Top, Ginseng etc-I really like those tunes.

    I know there are a ton of songs not yet played but these , in my mind , stand out. Esp-Pebbles and Marbles-one of my favorite songs ao all time.

  21. sloth Says:

    anybody out there – dwd opener at the gorge

  22. sloth Says:

    i’m truly a lover and not a hater – but how can pebbles and marbles be a favorite song? in terms of favs i’m a sappy sucker with divided sky and velvet sea and then a classy hood to close out a dank 2nd set – but P&M? what is that? i always wondered what phish would sound like as they evolved and wrote new music – now we have a sense with TTE and ocelot – which they are currently playing – downward down the number line, etc… the second to last ditch effort to put out music in 2.0 was weird, non-musical and disjointed – although i’d have to personally take 46 days or tequila – sorry to rant but even in the toughest of times i personally take classics

  23. sloth Says:

    @SOAM – you have my sincere apologise since they are now playing your tune

  24. pebbles Says:

    @SOAM: I’d give the first joint of my pinky finger to get a Ginseng Sullivan… that usually means Mike is getting his way!

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