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. Mr. Completely Says:

    @El Dude – you know 9-19-70? NFA > Darkness jam > China Cat jam > NFA with machine precision….

  2. A_Glide Says:

    Dog Log will be played at Gorge. I dreamt it.

  3. phoompapa Says:

    I remember saying after the show that the stash was worth all the money I spent on tickets, airfare, hotel, rental car, and food. So, the rest of the red rocks run would be all freebies. What a run.

  4. notkuroda Says:

    anyone know where I can get a high quality 5/9/77? Helpslipfranklin’s is my favorite um thing the Dead ever did and if you guys say it’s the best I’ve got to have it

  5. Leo Weaver Says:

    would’ja look at the time? good thing my business partner just left the office and I don’t have any more meetings…ahhh tasty greens…

  6. EL Duderino Says:

    @ Mr. C sure do brotha!!!

  7. nonoyolker Says:

    @ Completely – That is awesome that your son has a good ear for phish. My main fear in having children is that they would have an awful taste in music and that i would never talk to them. Ever.

  8. EL Duderino Says:

    @ notkuroda

    Do you know about and use It’s a database of all sources in circulation. Check the date and pick a shn id # and report back either myself or Mr. C can tell you if that one is THE ONE

  9. nonoyolker Says:

    Good call El Dude, that show is in heavy circulation and etree should have a nice copy.

  10. Mr. Completely Says:

    @notkuroda – has 11 seeders – its a nice Hunter Seamons matrix, I pulled it when it first circulated and think it sounds great

    6/9 is up too and also a must hear for help/slip fans

  11. EL Duderino Says:

    Stay away from the seamons matrix IMHO

  12. DaNcInG fOoL Says:

    notkuroda that’s a great show

  13. larry bird flu Says:

    if you just want to stream it head on over to nk

  14. Leo Weaver Says:

    @nono…I have that fear too. Especially considering some of the unfortunate garbage my wife calls music. I’m gonna pull a page out of the Mr. C Book o’Life and make a few discs of GD and Phish ballads for bedtime listening…and dare my wife to deprive the child of good music!

  15. notkuroda Says:

    @dude, I used to use etree all the time but my flac converter hasn’t been working so I haven’t been back in a bit. I’ll check it out, maybe I can fix the problem and will report back for sure. thanks

  16. Mr. Completely Says:

    I rarely use db.etree ’cause it’s confusing and what if you find a source you want and then there are no seeders?

    I just use the search box at the top of and enter only the band name and year. Then I use the control-F “find” in the browser to scan through that page to find that I’m looking for.

    took 10 seconds to find those seeds – at most

    FWIW Hunter Seamons is one of the most reliable matrix makers doing GD upgrades – if you see his name on a source it’s usually the one to pull first, unless you just don’t like matrixes

  17. DaNcInG fOoL Says:

    i remember i downloaded the/a matrix of cornell from the archive back in the good old days, which i think is the version i have on my ipod… i had no idea what matrix meant at the time, just thought it sounded cool so it had to be good

  18. EL Duderino Says:

    Get a new flac converter. And as far as GD sources go, there is no other place to look than Charlie Miller!!!

  19. Mr. Completely Says:

    you didn’t like the Seamons matrix @dude?

    we’re veering far off topic here tho

  20. Mr. Completely Says:

    @Leo I have to admit it’s been MUCH easier considering my wife is a deadhead and bigger Phish fan than I am

    when watching Phish DVDs she taught him (at like age 2) that Trey was to be called “The Man”

    “There’s The Man!”

  21. Pence Says:

    Id put Guelah and Cavern in my top 10 for plays tonight..alright here is mine for the “daily dose”

    10 pts. Halleys
    9 pts. Guelah
    8 pts 20 yrs later
    7 pts. Theme
    6 pts. 46 days
    5 pts. foam
    4 pts. cavern
    3 pts. bug
    2 pts. farmhouse
    1 pts. chalkdust

    thats 55 pts. lets see yours punk

  22. nonoyolker Says:

    @ Leo – nice! I’m not alone. My most logical and potential mate also has a god awful taste in music. I often wonder how we stay together in such bliss with this obvious personality misalignment. Anyway, i would hope that my offspring would inheret my ears, but it seems like a roll of the dice. I tried the force feeding method of musical appreciation on my nephew at an early age and… it seems to have paid off! His three favorite bands at age 9: Phish, Dead, Beatles. Awesome.

  23. EL Duderino Says:

    There is a somewhat recent 5/08/77 source which is the source now…

  24. EL Duderino Says:

    It’s ok Mr. C sometimes you have to talk GD to break up the monotony. today I feel we’ve done a good job of that. And yeah, no GD matrixes. Charlie Miller only unless there isn’t one for that show

  25. energywillout Says:

    Why would you matrix a GD spring of 77 Betty Board when it already has crowd in it?!?!? Can’t y’all hear the space already in the recordings?

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