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. llamalee Says:

    phish has been showing no love for the gamehenge tunes

  2. Cactus Says:

    Like When the Circus come to Town….very good Los Lobos cover…needs to be played more often.

  3. DaNcInG fOoL Says:

    TTE again? really though?

  4. Pence Says:

    that halleys better of been long..TTE set closer?

  5. sloth Says:

    yamar – bringing it up after tte

  6. llamalee Says:

    i think the halleys was short, the first 3 songs went by pretty quick

  7. Phish...Yup Says:

    TTE actually just sounded pretty tight for once on the stream, but still a decent Meh. (I’m sure all the Gorge attendees are pumped that pretty much ensures not getting one there) Ya Mar should kick this up a notch

  8. Cactus Says:

    Bout time they played Yamar..PLAY IT LEO!

  9. Cactus Says:

    I mean..Yamar is such an outdoor tune..and with so much room for improv, I’m shocked they haven’t played it more often this tour, to be frank.

  10. Phish...Yup Says:

    Play it piano man!

  11. Cactus Says:

    Stealin time and then Suzy…not a bad second half recovery.

  12. llamalee Says:

    got a blank space where my mind should be. love thart line

  13. Pence Says:

    @cactus…whew is right.. but we’ll see.. I dont see any real extensions happening.

  14. Cactus Says: that’s the way to end the set.

  15. Cactus Says:

    @ llamalee…

    Great line…the other day I woke up with that line running through my head. It was a good start to the day.

  16. Mr. Completely Says:

    soooooooooo gorge peeps – i would not share this if you were not my homies and maybe keep it on the DL a bit? but there is something called a “premium parking pass” which gets you in and out faster – by itself basically a shakedown for the $28 fee – but according to livenation web and confirmed by customer service it also gets you into the “early entrance line” which gets in the venue ahead of the main wave, far enough to secure a kind spot.

    Not sure if this might impact the “go left” advice – sounds like things have changed at the gate so all bets are off, I think

  17. Phish...Yup Says:

    Word from the show is Gordon botched the Bowie segue a bit, but knowing Gordo and with a standard 1st set in the bag, i predict some 2nd set heat.

  18. halcyon Says:

    Thanks for the tim Mr C.

    Interesting 1st set…….maybe we’ll get a Llama at The Gorge 🙂

  19. halcyon Says:

    I meant ‘tip’

  20. moe.ron.menna. Says:

    MINER- Yeah Stash was good, but how about Ghost or the short but sweet Bathtub? Moma was good and so was DWD. But come on…seamless Drowned>Crosseyed??? That’s what I wanted at Coventry AND Roo! Miner, Miner, Miner. Don’t you remember Cypress? How good C&P can be? Rocks’ C&P wasn’t perfect, but GDMT it was THE HEAT. Phish loves to play that song, it’s a great jam vehicle and we love to hear it. So IMO let go of your affinity for this song or that that one and go where the band takes us. The more fun they have, we follow. Back in the day, that was how it worked. I was crushed after ’04 and they hooked me again now, which I NEVER thought was possible. Stash? Sure It was good, but you sir, are missing the point! Listen for the band having fun! More shows like 7/31 will get me to more shows and not feel guilty about loving them almost more than anything. – moe.ron.menna.

  21. llamalee Says:

    getting a little miles davis at intermission – maybe a flat fee drop tonight

  22. wvbrdr Says:

    is there anyone streaming?

  23. Phish...Yup Says:

    I really like backwards down as a set opener. Such a feel good new song jam

  24. whole tour! Says:

    i called numberline encore…i was close…so close

  25. Phish...Yup Says:

    Numberline>Disease is a great sign. I love knowing that trusty old No Spoilers and a Miner write-up will be there in the morning.

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