Red Rocks Redux

7.31.09 Red Rocks (G.Lucas)

7.31.09 Red Rocks (G.Lucas)

Wow! What an amazing four nights.  I can’t recall the last time I sat in an airport waiting for a post-Phish flight with such an optimistic glow.  Even a two-hour delay couldn’t damper my spirits with all eights sets on my iPod to peruse.  All the buildup behind the comeback, along with many jaded doubts and questions of whether the band could recapture their past glory, were put to rest more quickly than anyone could have imagined in Morrison’s live music mecca last weekend.  With a stand that will no-doubt go down in band history, Phish’s improvisational prowess returned to the forefront of their game, igniting a passionate fire in the community for the rest of this tour and the future of the band.  The mind-bending geological surroundings added a sense of majesty to the surreal affair whose indelible memories- musical, visual, and experiential- will not soon fade.

7.31.09 (A King)

7.31.09 (B.Carlson)

Not only was the band’s audacious jamming back in play, but they were also incredibly sharp through most complex compositions all weekend, infusing them with an fierce energy only derived from enhanced comfort and collective confidence.  The tentative feel that permeated many of June’s jams was gone, and Phish- like years past- improvised on the fly without hesitation.  Due to these shifts the entire live experience felt completely different with the band far less calculative and far more in the moment.  It genuinely felt that we- band and crowd- were again united in exploring the musical abyss on nightly psychedelic roller-coaster rides.  After night one, all we knew to expect was the unexpected, and that is what Phish has always been about.

7.31.09 (W.Rogell)

7.31.09 (W.Rogell)

The overwhelming emotions of the weekend were awe and disbelief as everyone’s expectations were blown out of the water with each successive set.  The highlights of the four nights are too many to discuss in any short overview, but suffice it to say that most of June has been rendered irrelevant in the face of Red Rocks’ improvisational greatness.  Camden and Deer Creek and some other highlights may sneak their way into the stereo every now and again, but everything else seems quite bland all of a sudden- and this is exactly what we were hoping for.  Stepping stones; we knew Phish’s return to prominence would unfold in stages, but the difference between stage two and stage three has been astronomical.  Perhaps the band hung out inseparably for five weeks and engaged in some latter-day Oh Kee Pah Ceremonies- who knows- but something crystallized in that time that allowed the band to step on stage this past weekend in a completely different form than we left them in at Alpine Valley.

7.31.09 (W.Rogell)

7.31.09 (W.Rogell)

Both as a band and as individuals, their playing was more open-ended and exploratory, resulting in multi-faceted music that seethed with cohesive energy.  Without feeling the need to push their jams in any particular direction, something that seemed prevalent in June, the weekend’s improv was strewn with incomparable creativity and excitement.  While all members are playing at a high level, both Mike and Trey certainly stood out.  Mike’s one-of-kind bass cushion complemented Trey’s fiery and fluid licks, playing off of each other with renewed originality.  And all music aside, the four of them continue to have a blast on stage together, constantly laughing and cracking jokes amongst themselves.  The boys are most definitely back in town.

8.2.09 (G.Lucas)

8.2.09 (G.Lucas)

And these were only the first four nights!  It was easy to forget that these represented only one third of the shows on tap, as we spent most of a week settled in the mountains.  Over the course of the next fortnight, the adventures will continue to intensify as Phish makes stops at some of their most legendary venues.  This Wednesday’s Shoreline gig is poised to explode as a mid-week sleeper with many fans heading straight to The Gorge for next weekend.  You can mark it down now- The Gorge will transform into one of the lasting highlights of the Summer as the prodigal band returns to their Northwest home.  Stopping in the Midway and moving back to the Northeast, it is hard to imagine the level of playing that may develop by the time the band reaches SPAC- not to mention Indio and beyond.  As Run-DMC one rhymed in a holiday verse that accurately depicts the current state of the Phish scene,” “The time is now, the place is here and the whole wide world is filled with cheer.”  But this year, Christmas came five months early.



7.30.09 Red Rocks (Matrix) < TORRENT

7.30.09 Red Rocks (Matrix) < MEGAUPLOAD

A great sounding matrix of night one that was passed my way.  (I don’t know the actual source and don’t have the FLACS.) Thanks, Mat!

I: The Divided Sky, Ocelot, The Wedge, Poor Heart, The Moma Dance, Horn, Stash, The Horse > Silent in the Morning, Possum
II: Mike’s Song > I am Hydrogen > Weekapaug Groove, Ghost > Wolfman’s Brother, Limb By Limb, Billy Breathes, The Squirming Coil, David Bowie
E: Loving Cup

7.31.09 Red Rocks (W.Rogell)

—————7.31.09 Red Rocks (Photo: Wendy Rogell)

Tags: , ,

344 Responses to “Red Rocks Redux”

  1. Mr. Completely Says:

    ooooooh Trey with the Taste-eque shred ending to Limb! nasty!

    I totally fed into the hater-izing early by going off too harshly…it just kinda blew my mind that people would not be satisfied by that run, it set me off balance. I’ll just let it go, or try to.

  2. DaNcInG fOoL Says:

    i would have had waaaaaaaaaaaaay more fun at red rocks than any show in june

  3. EL Duderino Says:

    Mr. C your still on that? sounds like you may need a vacation! LOL

  4. EL Duderino Says:

    I’ve seen no pictures of Billy K. on the stage. Anyone?

  5. Robear Says:

    I posted most of these thoughts late last night, so if you read it, just skip, if not, hope it rings somehow. Okay, for all you phans that missed RR; try to relax and prepare for what will certainly go down as one of the best tours in this bands history. We’re hearing poignant, tantalizing, refreshing, breath-taking music from these guys, and you’ll hear it night after night. I recommend you don’t worry about “how the tweezer compared to Red Rocks, or how the Ghost compares to Asheville, or how long blah, blah, blah, was”. That’s not where it’s at. Just listen to the locked-in sound, realize that most everything is fresh, and a crazy improv masterpiece can be crafted from any song, at any time, like “Boogie On” from night four. Be ready to embrace songs that maybe weren’t favorites, but have been re-worked. For me, it was ‘Jiboo’. I’ve never disliked the song, but was not a huge fan of the songs repetitive nature. That’s changed, it’s been re-worked, and I can’t wait for the next incarnation. I thought I heard a bit of a NFA tease with Billy’s sit in. Apparently, I was hearing things all weekend. I knew he would be joining a few hours before the show, but for some reason, didn’t expect a Dead tune.

  6. Mr. Completely Says:

    a vacation sounds good. there’s this band I just heard of coming to the Gorge…they’re called Phish, have you heard of them? They’re ok I guess, kinda like Dave Matthews Band. I just hope they’re not too weird or anything.

  7. Robear Says:

    ^lol, I’ll see you there, Mr. C. We can talk DMB Tour.

  8. ColonelJoy Says:

    While I have raved about the quality of the boards, certainly compared to leg 1, I did notice that page was a little lower, much lower than the Hampton boards….but that is the Mike compromise….we had the same lower page when mike got loud with Doc….I’ll take the loud mike, over loud page and absent mike anyday…

  9. Mr. Completely Says:

    we used to have that conversation at phish show setbreaks any time we were sitting near annoying people…intentionally loud enough to be overheard…basically trolling in real life now that I think about it…

    “you told me this would be like Dave Matthews Band, you liar”
    “these guys are weird, the solos are so long”
    “Which one’s Jerry?”

    …that kind of thing. on the west coast you can get away with that kind of shit

  10. ColonelJoy Says:

    Any audiophiles here…magine there would be….

    I literally have no audio/video system right now. When I get back to the states I’m building one from the ground up. Thinking I’m going to get an old school two channel receiver….Harmon Kardan, maybe Onkyo, but I still want to enjoy DVDs…doubt I’ll be in the Blue Ray Market for awhile….need to be able to plug an ipod into the thing somehow

    Any good two channel receivers that also have DSP capabiltiy? For Speakers I’m thinking the Fluance ES1s or mid level Polks, or used ebay Klipsch….thoughts?

  11. Mr. Completely Says:

    Colonel I just bought some Paradigm monitors and for the money I’d say they can’t be beat. They smoked the similarly priced Polks I listened to. Haven’t heard Fluance. I almost went with a pair of Totems which sounded incredible but didn’t have enough presence without a center channel (which I’ll be adding later)

    I’ve alway had good luck with Onkyo. But, in general, I think with stereo stuff you’re better off buying the low/middle end stuff from a high end company – all the components are better. I have my eye on a NAD integrated amp for that reason.

    skip Blu-Ray, downloadable HD will kill it in a few years, its a dead end 😮 <– I just made up that bit of insight, but it might be true

  12. GuitarPicker420! Says:

    @Col. It sounds like you are going for my old system. My Polks from the late 80’s still sound great. I would definitely look at the Integra receivers rather than the Onkyos. My Integra is 7.1 (I know you are looking for two channels, but most everything unless you go really old school is at least 5.1) and is THX Ultra 2 certified. It flat thumps. I have Paradigm Monitor 11 v.6 mains and they sound amazing. I can pump it to concert volume with no loss in fidelity across the spectrum. I did go with the Klipsch digital sub instead of the paradigm, mainly because the Klipsch was $200 less and I couldn’t tell a difference. Some of the basic Polk speakers (R300 series) are great little towers that have a lot of life in them. However, if you are going to get into the mid range polks, the Ts series, you should definitely look at the Paradigms. I got mine for $600 each and they sound amazing.

  13. GuitarPicker420! Says:

    @Col. If you go with used Klipsch, make sure you get the ones made in Indy, not the new ones made in Mexico. Definitely a difference.

  14. ColonelJoy Says:

    Thanks for the advice, guys…I’ll check out paradigm, as I’ve read good things about them. Looking at the Harmon Karden 120W two channel for sure…

  15. ColonelJoy Says:

    My speaker budget is really only $500….that is why I’m looking at used stuff on Ebay….did find pairs of Paradigm monitors for that price….thoughts on used shit? Would never consider used receiver or any other stuff, but speakers, good ones, seem to stand up well over time….like wine

  16. ColonelJoy Says:

    Wow, while browsing, getting first listen at Billy Breathes and Coil from night one….inspiring performances….haven’t heard Billy that strong, in well, a long damn time….great tune

  17. GuitarPicker420! Says:

    Well, I have a pair of Polk monitors from 1989 and they still sound great. A few nicks and scratches from countless moves, but they were still my rears up until last year. Now I use them in my bedroom system. Used speakers can be great, but I wouldn’t buy them on Ebay because you want to hear the speakers and take a peak at them to make sure they haven’t been abused. My local speaker shop always has some used speakers in (they take trade-ins) and while they would be more than on Ebay, I am confident that they wouldn’t try to rip me off. That being said, older polks, older Klipsch, those should be good speakers for a good long time. In fact, I like the older polks better than the new ones since they went mass market.

  18. GuitarPicker420! Says:

    Listening to 7-31 tweezer a bit more closely, its pretty off the hook.

  19. flyz51 Says:

    @Colonel – for the DSP, you’ll probably have to go with a home theater receiver. IMO, your best bang for the buck in terms of sound and quality will be either NAD or Denon equipment. NAD in particular gets a lot of praise in the audiophile press as a great sound for the money purchase.

    Both companies still use discrete transistors for the output stages of the amplifier section, which makes a big difference in how well it can drive a difficult or current hungry speaker. Most manufacturers now use cheapo IC’s for their output stages, all with the idea the buyer will be using mini satellite speakers with a powered subwoofer. That’s a compromise I’m not willing to make.

    My speakers of choice are an old pair of Magneplanar SMG-a’s which are a current hungry 4 ohm load. The lovely spacious sound I get from them requires an amp than can deliver current into the low impedance, and my small Denon receiver does the job quite nicely.

    Right now, I’m looking to upgrade my system and NAD is the direction I’m leaning. Recently, I bought a phono preamp with both line and USB output for the purpose of converting large chunks of my wall of vinyl into digital format for ease of use/archive purposes. Early tests have produced much better sound than I get with the phono stage in my Denon receiver.

    Both NAD and Denon have options for connecting an ipod the system. You might want to look for units that have an USB input on the front. I’ve taken to carting music to and from the office using a USB flash drive, a lot easier to load and carry.

    Here are a couple of links:

    a good source for NAD equipment – I’ve done business with them recently:

    and my favorite speakers – probably not for everybody, but I’ve beat the snot out of mine for about 15 years and still love them:

    Sorry about the long reply, but your request deserves a thoughtful response

    and for the curious, my system isn’t terribly loud, but the Clifford Ball DVD’s sound great to me in good ole stereo hifi sound, but as always…..YMMV

    and Colonel, get home safe and happy hunting for your next sound system when you get back.

  20. Frankie Says:

    Still can’t believe i’m gonna see Phish at the Gorge this weekend… it’s been a dream of mine ever since i saw pictures of the place back in 1999. I swore to myself that i would see a concert there in my lifetime. And now it’s here…

    I’ve been a student for the last 6-7 years, goin’ to see shows in the east but now i can finally afford to realize this dream and head out west just in time to witness the return of the mystic four, creating new unheard of magic out of nothing but their minds and hearts, built on 35 plus years of friendship, playing for the joy of discovery, reminding us that life, like music, is about FUN and to enjoy every moment we have while it lasts because it’s all we have anyway…

    I hope to meet some of you out there this weekend and i’ll bring some 3.8.09 Set II DVD’s to trade/give for whatever…

    You’ll recognize me by the massive non-stop grin on my face, having the weekend of my life in the most beautiful music venue in the world, spending great times with new friends while watching my favorite band play their hearts out with newfound inspiration…

    See you there! 🙂

    Collecting memories… is right!

  21. llamalee Says:

    my boss just burst my bubble and told me I am not going to be able to get next tuesday and wednesday off. i already bought a ticket for chicago show off ebay and it is being shipped out tomorrow. if someone wants it, i;ll change shipping address. rather it gets used by someone who’ll appreciate then wasted

  22. Frankie Says:

    Sorry to hear that Llamalee…

  23. halcyon Says:

    Frankie….safe travels getting over there

  24. Mr.Miner Says:

    @ el dude…my post on the last show has many- you can always click on pics to enlarge them and then save them…..there are some great ones throughout the run, and some great ones with illy B

  25. Stupendous Says:

    I can honestly say that people are misunderstanding The Billy K phenomenon…. He IS and WAS a great drummer, very interested in looseness and in dancing “outside” the rhythm, this is counter rhythm….thats what made the dead who they are… in their unique jazzy tapestry where time signatures, upbeats and downbeats would be blurred…..That being said its not that he messed up or whatever…its really a question of do these styles blend well together? and the answer is no.

    We as Phish fans are very used to Fish just holding a (fairly complex) rhythm down forever while cranking up notches or reducing and simplifying with the band, untill all that’s left is a pulse… very simple and effective, yet very different to what gets you off in the Dead…

    So if anything goes to show how different the bands we love really are…
    It wasnt about a skill level not being achieved…

    Fish had been flirting with the idea of counter rhythm a few times in the first
    run…..with little success….

    When you dance around the rhythm to have another drummer being concrete totally destroyes what youre setting out to do…That being said my fav DEad period was 72-74 when billy rocked it solo….
    Another one of these free-form drummers is Billy Martin from MMW.

    just my 2 cents : )

Leave a Reply