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. halcyon Says:

    Pike’s look good…thanks for the tip….I can’t hang with the delics, or coca cola anymore, my mind and body told me it was time to stop a long time ago.

  2. EL Duderino Says:

    One of the reporters who Bill Clinton just got released from N. Korea! LOL

  3. wvbrdr Says:

    @ halycon, if youre heading thru seattle, stop at Big Time Brewery in the U district and pick up a few growlers of Scarlet Fire IPA. Pretty tasty full flavor with a nice crisp hoppy bite. If youre just buying bottles at the show, my favorites are brews from Maritime Pacific or Elysian.

  4. butter Says:

    I’d suck up another TTE for us tonite Mr. C

  5. halcyon Says:

    R1…..he has been requesting Llama to open since this blog started

  6. butter Says:

    did i mention how long the bathroom line was during TTE at RR?

  7. fat bastard Says:

    have to piss+ in a long line + that song= time turns eternal

  8. A_Glide Says:

    I have 3 more hours to work until I go home pack, and fly out to the gorge tomorrow. All I keep thinking is how nice it was for the boys to save the Harpua til the gorge for me.

    I’m putting the over under at 23 minutes for the amount of work I will actually do in the next 3 hours.

  9. Mr. Completely Says:

    Taste tonight, or at the Gorge?

  10. Mr. Completely Says:

    I’ll take the under

  11. voopa Says:

    TTE may turn up tonight, and I wouldn’t put it past them to repeat BDTNL, Joy or Ocelot.

  12. voopa Says:

    Oooh, Taste! Bug would be nice too.

  13. EL Duderino Says:

    I hope the Ocelot is saved for the Gorge. One of the better new tunes I like a lot.

  14. Mr. Completely Says:

    yes please, Bug in shoreline, that would be OK by me. Not a hater, not a lover either.

    Also: Theme

  15. Mr. Completely Says:

    My son’s favorite songs that I hope they save and play for him at the Gorge:

    Sparkle (not my fave, but he loves the ending)
    Runaway Jim
    Split Open and Melt

  16. DaNcInG fOoL Says:

    maze tonight yo

  17. EL Duderino Says:

    I can see a 5 year old totally diggin’ on the Sparkle Mr. C. I can picture him going crazy at the end of the song

  18. butter Says:


  19. AintNoTele Says:


    is that brewery in between seatac and the gorge? if its and easy stop, i would love a growler

  20. Little Buddy Says:

    Hey guys…

    Just getting back on board after the Carini talk. I just heard it through the grapevine that he wasn’t working with the band anymore. I have some friends that used to work for Phish, but no one that does anymore, so you definitely have to file this in the rumor category. But, we didn’t see him at any shows so far this year. Seemed like you’d always see him roaming around the stage in v 1.0 and v 2.0… If its true then it might explain why we haven’t heard Carini yet in 2009. I’m sure someone around here is better connected and can say more about whether or not Carini got the pink slip, or moved on, or whatever. He partied pretty hard, I think, so he may not have fit to well with v 3.0.

  21. larry bird flu Says:

    mr. c. that would make for an ok first set as well
    @ little buddy- that seemed to be the general sentiment around here, that his partying didnt mesh well with the style of 3.0

  22. wvbrdr Says:

    No, the brewery is in Seattle, a bit north of where you need to catch I-90. BUT, there is a Rouge Tap House in Issiquah. that is right off I-90 just east of Bellevue, and definitely gotta get a few growlers from there. Thanks for reminding me.

    As for the gorge tunes, I really don’t care what they play. I just want really sick, tight jams that we’ll be talking about for a long time. As long as they keep the show moving and the crowd energized throughout.

  23. wvbrdr Says:

    ^^ I meant Rogue

  24. Mr. Completely Says:

    Rogue is worth a stop

    @wv – for myself, agreed – don’t care as long as its quality – I just know those would make his day

  25. Robear Says:

    hey butter, call our cell phone. seven zero seven, five nine nine, seven five six nine. we’re heading south on 101. in Rohnert Park. It would be cool to get the daughter’s together.

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