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:

    @type III – excellent shirt concept

    “Hypothesis: Current scientific thought suggests we have already achieved max rocking level.

    Perhaps max-rocking levels could be radically increased with creation of 30ft tall motion controlled guitar thrashing robot simulacrum.

    Result: We rocked the fuck out.”

    All their shirts are 100% badass

    (nothing to do with Phish, except awesomeness)

  2. Pence Says:

    Does any one find it not surprising at all that 2 weeks ago said there would be more details on the Joy pre-order last week.? Still nothing. Not that I care about pre-ordering really.

  3. Leo Weaver Says:

    @nono…I’ve found that if I give her space for her “music” and she gives me space for my “pish” everything works out pretty nicely. We have a LOT of overlap so that helps as well. Only issues come when we’re in the car and she gets wound up and I’m mellow – she wants pop/RnB and I want a nice spacey Tweezer…we compromise with some good reggae.

    outta here guys…time to go pack the bags. I’ll catch up later…

  4. posternutbag Says:

    If anyone has some extra time before/after the Gorge, I would strongly recommend going to Beecher’s cheese store at the Pike Place Market and checking out the mac & cheese. Seriously, this is the only place I have ever been that uses the label “World’s best…” and I actually agree with it. I really just can’t stop thinking about it so I thought I would share…

  5. nonoyolker Says:

    @ Leo – good reggae sounds like a great compromise. I’m out of here too. Time to bid this day a fond farewell, go home and throw down some dougy heffernans (that’s right, the high life. I am class to the end…). Safe travels to all and rock out for those hitting Shoreline tonight. Llama opener – it just HAS to happen someday.

  6. Mr. Completely Says:

    as the closest stop on the tour I bet we’ll get an Alaska at the Gorge

    I won’t want to hear it over and over for years to come but for now I dig that groovy little tune

  7. voopa Says:

    OK, time to pack the cooler and hit the road…I’ll be wearing an MMW cap and a shirt that says “Listen to Bob Marley”…see ya!

  8. gavinsdad Says:

    posternutbag hooking the “comfort” foodies up.

  9. posternutbag Says:

    I’ll be wearing an Axis Bold as Love shirt and holding a bowl of mac & cheese

  10. gavinsdad Says:

    outta here guys…enjoy shoreline those of you who are going and i hope to see a few of you at the waterwheel table on Fri at the Gorge.

    i don’t even know what’s going to hit me.

  11. BrandonKayda Says:

    I need to get more GD shows from what you guys were saying. Sounds incredible.

    I think I will do something productive now. Later d00dz.

  12. posternutbag Says:

    Off to the airport for SeaTac – let the games begin!

  13. llamalee Says:

    listened to entire 7-21-97 show today at work. boys need to bring back some funk

  14. Mr. Completely Says:

    what’s your opener call for tonight @llamalee?


  15. Frankie Says:

    Beware the Saturday Gorge Sand!!

  16. Dave Says:

    Seeyou all tonight! First show I will be rockin’ my Old Rasputin shirt…

    “Never say Die!”

  17. Frankie Says:

    Have a great show Dave!! Enjoy yourself!

    “Meanwhile i ain’t wastin’ time no more, ’cause time flies by like… hurricanes…”

  18. butter Says:

    @Mr C. – Day 2 set 2 and Day 3 set 1, were the cohesive fire from front to back highlight sets for sure. BUT, there were so many other HIGH, HIGH, HIGH , HIGH monents. Such as Divided Sky , the perfect opener, maybe not the best technical version, but a major statement that they were going to play some of their most important material at the perfect times. Of course the Stash was face melt , take this, we are for real. The Mikes > Weekapaug was exciting as f***. Everyone loved the Ghost>Wolfmans, the Scoil was beautiful, and the Bowie was my favorite version i can remember in 10 years. I guess you can see were i”m going with this. Day 4 set 2 was unbelievable too. The YEM was tremendous. Remember the conversation about boring YEM’s less than 2 weeks ago? This version makes that conversation laughable. Loved the Billy thing too. GD>Phish fusion is tits.

  19. Mr. Completely Says:

    yeah butter – even in headphones there’s really not a clunker out of the 4 days. honestly I was just trying to help turn the convo back towards phish @ that point, and maybe see if there was consensus re: musical highlights

  20. Pence Says:

    Ocelot opener–has a great GD feel to go along w/ shoreline….I think this is an obvious play for tonight.

  21. monkey brains Says:

    hey i took a video of free and YEM > Undermind at Red Rocks 2009 check them out


    YEM > Undermind

  22. Brian Says:

    for me, its drowned>crosseyed. the transition is just so was awesome to hear some Fishman-led jams coming out of drowned…lots of mixed time signatures, with the rest of the band weaving in perfectly. the drop into cross-eyed was spot on.

    yem>undermind was also great. I admit, I initially HATED undermind but that version converted me. Nice and groovy. rest of that set kills too

    hell, all four shows kill.

  23. wvbrdr Says:

    ocelot > destiny unbound tonight to open it up

  24. whole tour! Says:

    numberline encore!

  25. whole tour! Says:

    who’s got my heady 8.2 sbd links?

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