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. Pence Says:


    “So when they came back it seemed they made it a purpose to get comfortable inside their song spaces again. Hampton and June both featured a return to tight phish, an homage an recognition of the past, while still pushing and peering into the future.”

    I just think this is a great observation. Light bulbs would’ve been clicking on back in late March, if everybody wasnt so concerned with where the deep space Jam was. It helps me appreciate “Step one” so much more. With that, the process of re-developing phish may soon be complete as they have regained their comfort level with songs, with step one, brought in the jam, in step 2, and just blew everyone out of the water with RR.

  2. pebbles Says:

    @Marshall: My sources (i.e., Miner) have said on here that Fall tour is pretty much a given– if I remember right, it is supposed to pick up in the Southwest, swing through the south, and culminate with a monster NE stand– multiple MSG dates, Boston Garden, a few others.

    Anyone else remember when this was discussed so I can go find the schedule Miner posted?

  3. fat bastard Says:

    yesturday afternoon there was a link with dates

  4. pebbles Says:

    @Marshall: I think these are the dates that Miner threw out:

    10/26 – Cricket Pavilion, Phoenix, AZ
    10/27 – Hollywood Bowl, Los Angeles, CA
    10/28 – The Tonight Show, Universal Studios, Universal City, CA
    10/30 – Save The Date, Empire Polo Club, Indio, CA
    10/31 – Save The Date, Empire Polo Club, Indio, CA
    11/1 – Save The Date, Empire Polo Club, Indio, CA
    11/2 – The Warfield Theater, San Francisco, CA
    11/4 – Pepsi Center, Denver, CO
    11/5 – Austin Music Hall, Austin, TX
    11/7 – Phillips Arena, Atlanta, GA
    11/8 – Phillips Arena, Atlanta, GA
    11/10 – Allstate Arena, Rosemont, IL
    11/12 – Hampton Coliseum, Hampton, VA
    11/13 – Wachovia Spectrum, Philadelphia, PA
    11/14 – Wachovia Spectrum, Philadelphia, PA
    11/15 – Wachovia Spectrum, Philadelphia, PA
    11/17 – TD Banknorth Garden, Boston, MA
    11/18 – Times Union Center, Albany, NY
    11/21 – Madison Square Garden, New York, NY
    11/22 – Madison Square Garden, New York, NY

  5. EL Duderino Says:

    I doubt there would be 3 dates at the Spectrum and only one Chicago. I think the city stops are correct. If they do the Warfield there will be at least two IMO.

  6. nonoyolker Says:

    @ Cal – I agree, this Stash, while good, doesn’t “blow away” any of my favorite jams in the first leg. I think Camden Tweezer and Asheville Ghost are still better, in my opinion. Those have more stank, if you know what i mean. More gooey jam juice, which for me, makes them better jams.

  7. fat bastard Says:

    allstate shows have always sucked

  8. c0wfunk Says:

    My always-been-right-source has only actively (ie booked hotel)confirmed nye @ miami. (Well indio too but that is a known quantity now)That said I’d love some november southern arena phish!

    @pence – I’ve been trying to reassure everyone all along that these jams would come – it was unavoidable – after the band feels is done feeling fresh about the old songs. The pure enjoyment trey has showed going back through the old repertoire was enough to sell me on every show I’ve heard from 09 (that’s all of them) ..

    @cal – I think in the afterglow of rr a lot of this “every version blows away everything that happened this year before” is a little overdone, but understandably so. Don’t underestimate the power of the rocks to elevate the game to its next level. But that doesn’t invalidate the hose I felt in asheville or knoxville or hampton. The trick now will be to sustain it into the less mystical spaces, but this tour seems planned to keep the novelty factor high so that should help.

    Whoever came up with the short tour into break into red rocks and so on formula is a friggin genius or possibly divinely inspired.

  9. Bapslap Says:

    Split Open A Mule?

  10. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    I thought the Spectrum in Philly was closing after the Pearl Jam concerts in October. That would make the three day run there problematic especially since the Sixers have a home game on the 13th based on the schedule released by the NBA yesterday. That covers the other venue…

  11. nonoyolker Says:

    Also, the other apparent flaw exposed in these dates when they first surfaced appear to be here:
    11/4 – Pepsi Center, Denver, CO
    11/5 – Austin Music Hall, Austin, TX

    If this is true, that is one hell of a haul down to TX! Given the boys are family men now and appear to be taking tours at a more lesuirely pace, this seems unlikely. Three in Philly and only one at the Garden…say it ain’t so!

  12. Matso Says:

    @ fat bastard –

    Wasn’t Halloween 95 at Rosemont?

  13. EL Duderino Says:

    Fat Batard doesn’t know what he’s talkin’ ’bout Mr. Drummond

  14. HarryHood Says:

    We all had our thoughts/opinions of where things would lead after the Hampton shows and Fenway opener….. The band sounded rusty and I know people were worried about where things would go from there. My biggest gripe was that it seemed as though they were thinking too much and not playing with that relaxed, we own this shit type of playing. What I noticed right off the bat was that Trey’s singing even sounded a half-step or so behind the notes (i.e. the Sample from Fenway) and that each of the guys seemed to be lost in trying to re-connect with themselves as individual members of the band rather than playing as one collective group. Red Rocks was a true return to form. They are all back in the comfort zone and playing with carefree abandon. The rust is gone, the antics are back, and the band that we all love has returned to our lives……….. I’m spending my days now listening to new Phish and chatting with you fine pholks about high points/low points of individual shows and looking forward to all the tour stops that I can make it too. I’m definitely starting to feel the feeling I forgot over the past five years, and the summer of 2009 has been great……………… Was there really life before PhIsH?

  15. fat bastard Says:

    i guess always is too strong a word

  16. empire01 Says:

    the stash definitely has that energy to it specially the build up back to the chords in the end..nice
    I really was digging the second set last night. the mikes >H20 was kick ass and I also really enjoyed the ghost>wolfmans

    so much new phish music to listen too, I never finished listening to the first leg in its entirety. I really like listening to a show from start to finish, but lately I am just going for the picks.

  17. c0wfunk Says:

    Word harry – sure does make it hard to focus on work! 10 years ago I would have just quit this f-in job and hit the road .. Alas the mortgage monster has me handcuffed (shakes fist at imaginary image of The Man Who Has Me Down)

  18. KWL Says:

    re: tourdates

    If I remember correctly Miner was also questioning a show the day after a festival–seems just as implausible as Colorado>Texas

  19. msbjivein Says:

    @COW, No current jam can take away from past moments. If it wasn’t for past memories we wouldn’t keep coming back. No matter what Phish does next we’ll always have our past experiences to hold on to.

  20. DaWedge Says:

    First, let me be the first to say that I wasn’t at Red Rocks. Wished I was, and tried hard, but couldn’t get tickets. And I know the “you had to be there” answer is a probability. But my comment comes from an honest place intended for discussion, and not one intended to stir up negativity by any means. I guess at the end of the day, after listening closely to all four nights, I still really have a hard time finding any part of the Red Rocks shows that can even hold a light to the Camden “Tweezer” or Camden “Sand”. Again, I want to be steered to these moments, and Mr. Miner you’ve always done a great job of doing so, but after listening to all of the supposed “highlights” of the weekend, I still can’t find anything that comes close to the shivers that I get from the Camden Sand and Tweezer. As a fan, and a fan of the fans, please steer me.

  21. Pence Says:

    @Fat bastard3

    9*23*2000 Rosemont Tweezer was one of the best of all-time
    and I cried during and still listen to the Fast Enough For you from that very show.

  22. cal Says:

    i think the biggest part of the power of rr–at least for us habitual lawn-dwellers–is how amazing the sound is there (first impression; sunday was my first time there EVER). the beauty of that “caspian” might have escaped me in a different setting; as it was, i finally GOT the effect of thousands of fans just singing in harmony according to their natural vocal range on the final chorus…and the vocal jam out of “yem” might not stand up over time/on tape as a classic, but in that setting (and of course, kuroda was unbelievable during that portion) it stands in my memory as one of the best i’ve ever heard.

  23. Pence Says:

    @MSB, only if you had a time machine.

  24. pebbles Says:

    Thanks for the notes on the dates that have likely been knocked off. I think the point is more that we have reliable sources talking about full-on tours, not just a few dates here and there than it is “we know everywhere they will play.”

    @cow: my always-been-right-guy booked also booked a plane ticket to Miami– from New Zealand. That was good enough for me. My plane ticket and hotel reservation are confirmed.

  25. Pence Says:

    @KWL You’d be surprised to know how easy to travel the route of Texas to Colorado….Millions of Texans show up on the slopes of every ski town in Colorado every winter. Its like an epidemic.

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