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)

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344 Responses to “Red Rocks Redux”

  1. EL Duderino Says:

    My mind’s got a mind of it’s own… these are tunes not played they’re not bust outs. My how times have changed

  2. nonoyolker Says:

    Wow, such an encouraging four nite run! The boys sound revitalized. I love that they are nailing compositions and creating cohesive jams. They sound “on” again. There was a playful part during the Suzy where Trey noodled three songs from the previous set. Definitely having fun again.

    I especially love that they played Curtain (With), nailed it and fully exorcized that demon. I feel like they needed to play that and really nail it before fully looking forward. The version from nite three is a full success too. So beautiful, save for some idiot chick picked up on the soundboard yelling “Play the vaccuum!” – COME ON PEOPLE! Recognize the significance of a moment and stop yelling!

    Where’s my Llama!??! I’ve been calling that as the opener for every show. I have been wrong…

  3. Donald B Says:

    I have been following Phishthoughts religiuously for about seven months now. However, this is my very first post…not really sure why. Probably b/c I like to internalize a lot of my own thoughts and splice them with some of the mature insights of this board (something that is hard to come by on PT). Anyays, thats besides the point.

    Miner once wrote (and it has been said many times before by others) that when Phish is back in the mix one can’t help but walk around with some extra swagger and pep. I went to all of Hampton and most of the June run. While I had an amazing time, something was obviously lacking on stage, which was totally understandable given how long then have been apart. Still had so much damn fun and some very spiritual moments!

    After listening to 7/31 last night, I am in shock!!! I totally forgot what PHISH is capable of. That Tweezer…I mean, come on! That second set was totally fire. For better or worse, I am definitely a bit of a fluffer. There is no fluffing this show. They are back and only capable of getting better.

    Miner–The image of them spending the better part of the past month in an Oh Kee Pa ceremony, whether true or not, make my heart SMILE FROM EAR TO EAR. Phish is so damn special. I thank God for what Phish is giving us and will hopefully continue to do. I got some great RR shows to listen to…forever. Now aint that the heat!!!

  4. Donald B Says:

    One more thing. Has anyone had the chance to listen to both the AUDs and SBDs for each show. If so, which do you prefer for each night?

    Man, what a great dilemma to have!!!

  5. fat bastard Says:

    the dude is right but id like to hear some of that list-esp peaches

  6. whole tour! Says:


    Ride Captain Ride > Forbin > mock song > Mockingbird – opener
    set 2: Sneaking Sally > Cities > Camel Walk > Weigh > HYHU > lonesome cowboy bill > Hyhu > DWD > Have mercy > DWD reprise
    Encore1: Ocelot
    Encore2: Spocks Brain > Mango song!

    I know i’ll get some shit for this, but i really want them to play 3.0’s first “friday” or “two versions.”

  7. SJC Says:

    “lonesome cowboy bill”

    I’d love to see them play more tunes from Loaded.

  8. c0wfunk Says:

    isn’t a “bustout” when they play a song that hasn’t been played recently? So this evolves constantly. In 1995 Funky Bitch was a bustout. In 1999 not so much. In 2009 that means My Soul is a bustout.

    Bustout does not mean good song necessarily, it just means it hasn’t been played. The Dead pioneered this idea and kept thing interesting by shelving loved tunes for a while and then “busting them out” after years of nonplay. But the term applied equally to Dark Star as it did to Brokedown Place..

  9. nonoyolker Says:

    @ SJC- Word man, it would be great if they dusted off “Oh Sweet Nuthin” or “New Age”. That is one of my favorite albums.

  10. whole tour! Says:

    “cool it down” would be the most bad ass bust out imaginable!

  11. whole tour! Says:

    last “cool it down” 7.29.03 star lake

  12. whole tour! Says:

    Last “On Your way Down” 7.30.03 camden

  13. notkuroda Says:

    good feelings about the gorge. Friday night is lucky shirt night. It’ll also be my wife’s first show. And I’ll be seeing people I haven’t seen since 04. And it looks like we’ll have completely beautiful weather. And the band has hit their stride.

    I mean, I know you’re supposed to keep expectations low, but how can I?

  14. SJC Says:

    I could get into any of the Loaded tunes above. Cool it Down would be on top of that list.

  15. c0wfunk Says:

    expect a great show, just don’t expect “how” the show is going to go as far as setlist, etc and you’re in good shape 🙂

  16. whole tour! Says:

    Shoreline lawns are down to $10 at some reseller sites!

  17. andrewrose Says:

    I definitely think we’re going to hear another bust out or two. I’ve never heard a Peaches in all my years. When was the last one, Boise 99? Anything they’ve ever played once before, but not in a long while (say, at least a whole tour, but more likely longer) should be considered a bustout. Phase Dance would be a bustout! I’d love to hear Purple Rain, too. When was the last Vultures? Fikus?

    I also think we might hear something from the White Album soon, given Halloween coming up. Take a look at Red Rocks. Drowned -> C&P (Halloween 95->96). Then Rock n ‘ Roll to open Set II the next day? I know these are fairly common songs in the repertoire, but the boys do like to foreshadow, too. Especially when it comes to Festivals…

    Cannot WAIT for SPAC, where I hope to hear a big Halley’s, Gin, and Twist. 🙂

  18. notkuroda Says:

    I’ve never gotten a vultures, that’d be a big one for me

  19. mr. icculus Says:

    I need a merriweather ticket please help me out

  20. cal Says:

    i only made it to night four of RR, but i must say i wasn’t nearly as inspired by that as i was by dc>alpine. i’m really looking forward to listening to the first three nights to see what i missed. i thought “caspian”, normally a snoozer, was about the best version i’ve heard since like ’95. and “yem”>”undermind” was thrilling, a stunning vocal jam in there too. but for most of the night, it was trey playing the same doggone solo over and over and over…mike was actually really hot for much of the night, but he couldn’t seem to coax trey into any real interplay; it was like he thought he was at a tab show. and the guest appearance was pretty much a train wreck. i’m not going to perpetuate the argument about b.k.’s legacy and whatnot, but it was pretty clear that he either didn’t know the songs or was just fucking up. “2001” was still enjoyable for its weird slowness, but i just really like phish jams way more than phish trying to accommodate some other dude jams. so i guess it was a mixed bag, but the thing i love most, everybody in the band creating thick dollops of improv TOGETHER, was extremely lacking compared to the end of leg 1. i hope i’ll hear more of what i’m looking for in the first three nights…

  21. whole tour! Says:

    I think i’ve caught three “vultures”

  22. whole tour! Says:

    They like to drop “vultures” in Atlanta for some reason 🙂

  23. whole tour! Says:

    this matrix miner posted today SMOKES!!!!

  24. stash Says:

    dude, 7-11-2000, dwd > moby dick > dwd rep.


  25. stash Says:

    seen vulturers up northeast a few times too. strange tune. but cool.

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