On To Chicago

The Gorge (J.Doran)

The Gorge (J.Doran)

Sitting on plane on the way to Chicago, it’s hard to believe we are heading for the home stretch of summer.  One show in the Midwest and a four-night cannonball run up and down the east coast and that’s all she wrote until Fall (which is only two and half months away!)  Thinking back to where we were in June, it almost seems inconceivable that the band has come so far in such little time.  Though they had twenty years notched in their belt, their quick progress has still been astounding to watch.  The jaded fan thought they would never even get this far, and if one for thing is for damn sure, Phish is just beginning- again.

The Gorge (W.Rogell)

The Gorge (W.Rogell)

Taking June’s tour and kicking it firmly into distant memory, the western swing was nothing short of magic.  Over the course of seven shows, Phish completely reestablished their musical creativity with shows that we would have been happy to hear come year’s end.  Redirected and emboldened with confidence, we haven’t heard Phish jams this tight and unique since the late ‘90s.  Sure, post-hiatus had many amazing jams, but these just feel different.  There is an incredibly purity to Phish’s music right now, a vitality that had been absent during even the best moments in’03 and ’04.  No longer are things predictable- Phish can, and will, take any given song and take it anywhere.  Take The Gorge’s “Sneaking Sally” for example.  As soon as we thought we were getting a massive outdoor groove-fest, Phish took us in on of the most psychedelic rides of the summer, leaving any semblance of groove in the dust as they crafted an ominous, ambient soundscape.

8.7.09 (G.Lucas)

8.7.09 (G.Lucas)

The entire weekend in Washington was simply surreal; to be back at The Gorge and hear Phish play like they did was nothing short of an out-of-body experience.  The combination of the greatest natural backdrop in music and a band who is playing like nothing else matters made for two nights of indelible memories in the ongoing path of Summer ’09.  The band showcased contrasting styles over the two nights in George, WA, as the first night’s enchanting and psychedelic fairy tale was wholly distinct from Saturday night’s rock-centered odyssey, illustrating two aspects of Phish’s uncanny versatility.  Using new songs and old, Phish created a laundry list of highlights from The Gorge: “Ocelot,” “Stash,” “Sneakin’ Sally,” “Light > Taste” “Bathtub Gin > Hood,” “Tweezer,” “Wolfman’s,” “Antelope,” “Rock and Roll,” “YEM,” “Number Line > Piper;” the list goes on and on.

8.7.09 (G.Lucas)

8.7.09 (G.Lucas)

Between Red Rocks, Shoreline and the Gorge, the west has unleashed a fury in Phish that we wondered if and when would return.  They say the west is the best, and in the case of this summer ‘s tour, that maxim has never been truer.  With a week of shows that will go down as the return of the Phish we know and love, the hotly-anticipated run through the wild west will remembered as the time the band’s improvisational magic came back.  And not only are the band’s chops back in shape, they are having the time of their lives, imbued with the Phishiness that put them on the map- spontaneously crafting vocal accompaniment deep in their jams, telling jokes onstage, switching instruments mid-song, using hand signals to call out the setlist, and generally radiating a musical and personal happiness we haven’t seen from these four guys in ages.  And this energy has flowed from the stage right into the community, channeling the genuine joy we all feel for the current state of Phish.

"Slave" 8.7.09 (G.Lucas)

"Slave" 8.7.09 (G.Lucas)

And as we take a u-turn halfway across the country, meeting in Chicago tonight, the possibilities for the last five shows are limitless.  Bringing the spirit of the west into a soccer stadium and then four classic Phish amphitheatres, some of the season’s best moments are certainly about to unfold.  Buckle your seat belt, literally and figuratively, as this last stretch will contain not only crazy music, but crazy driving as well.  As we crisscross the northeast from Darien to Hartford, down to Merriweather and back up to SPAC, the east coast will get a several tastes of the rejuvenated Phish in a case of bizarre tour routing.  Nonetheless, we have five more to go, and there’s no telling what we’ll be talking about come next week; only time will tell, but I’m sure eager to find out!  See you tonight.


8.7.09 The Gorge (Photo: Graham Lucas)

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376 Responses to “On To Chicago”

  1. larry bird flu Says:

    yemblog twitter says that its a new page song and paul and silas was a request to trey from a kid walking down the street

  2. fromthetub Says:

    someone over on hoodstream is saying that Windy City is a Page song…

  3. BrandonKayda Says:

    Halley’s second set?

  4. SJC Says:

    Ghost>Meatstick 2nd set.

  5. Mr. Completely Says:

    always interested to hear another Page tune

  6. larry bird flu Says:

    im trying to think of what page has written, theres CTB, windy city and what else mr. c?

  7. BrandonKayda Says:

    You know what, I have decided I will save the second set as a treat for myself when I get up tomorrow morning…you guys better let me know how it goes 🙂

    Later folks.

    Hopefully we get a hot Ghost/2001/Twist/Sand or something of the like.

    Long set-break = wild second set

    Have fun guys.

    I’ll catch up with you dudes tomorrow morning.

    Lycan – Thanks again for those Chance Fisher bootlegs, they are great. I’ll be listening to 8-08 by tomorrow. Maybe we can see if that other one will work (6-24-09).

    Robear – Thank you very much for the MPP offer, I’ll let you know what is happening by tomorrow. You still have my email right?

    Leo – Enjoy those discs man, hope you have a few days set aside to wade through all of that. Let me know what you think

    Goodnight Everybody!

  8. Bapslap Says:

    Magilla is a page tune

  9. Les Says:

    @#33-What about Strange Design

  10. SJC Says:

    Beauty of a Broken Heart is a Page tune.

  11. voopa Says:

    I think Page had a hand in Riker’s Mailbox…

  12. Bapslap Says:

    strange design was written by Trey and Tom, but sung by Page.
    Like It’s Ice.

  13. Les Says:

    Good call Brandon. I really like #line

  14. Mr. Completely Says:

    army of one

    can that really be it?


  15. larry bird flu Says:

    ah beauty of a broken heart! finally carini yes!

  16. BK Says:

    Very funky segue into Jiboo

  17. BK Says:

    Heard #line was “trip funky”

  18. HSV 007 Says:

    Went 0 for 18 in Knoxville & hit 2 tonite from the couch
    maybe Split or Makisupa later…?

  19. Kevin Says:

    Hey guys, I hate to post this here (I really do), but I’m looking for two Merriweather tickets. A buddy of mine just got back from Iraq and I’d like to take him. It’d be our first show together since Merriweather 2000.

    If you can help me out give me a shout. kevinmspence@gmail.com

    Thanks a lot, and again, sorry for posting my ticket spam here.


  20. Robear Says:

    Great discussions tonight. The boys must be reading this blog again. The theory of “All bets are off”, which I agree with, is instantly put to the test tonight in Chicago.

    Today while driving, I played the ‘Carini’ from 12/28/98 with the expansive ambient jam. I was feeling that song today, and quietly hoping for some explored ambience on the last leg.

  21. Mr. Completely Says:

    @kevin – special circumstances – your friends deserves a show if anyone does, good luck and I bet you will get your tix

    Carini, Jiboo has to be fun

    @BK you there? or streaming it somewhere?

  22. BK Says:

    @Mr. – No, just have a text-happy friend there. He said set 1 was “choppy” and that TTE was deflating after Gumbo and Heavy Things. He’s loving this second set. Says Mike is continuing his reign.

  23. BK Says:

    Wilson >> 2001!!

  24. Mr. Completely Says:


    I mentioned Theme as my “song I’m never excited to see on a setlist but I almost always like when I hear it” so that continues the All Bets Are Off concept

  25. Hunter Says:

    Just got home from tonight’s show, had a great time. Could have done without TTE and Heavy Things, but hey. The guy behind me was begging for Heavy Things all night, so it made somebody happy.

    The Curtain With, Gumbo, CARINI, Theme and Wilson were a blast. I really liked Page’s new song Windy City, though it seemed like he hasn’t quite fleshed out the lyrics. Also, the jam coming out of Backwards Down the Number Line got very deep. Harry Hood got a little too dissonant for my tastes, and by the time we were supposed to feel good about Hood, I just felt confused. But the Squirming Coil follow-up and an always-fun Loving Cup encore made up for it.

    All in all, a very solid, very fun show. The boys were having a blast. I could tell from their facial expressions because I was right up front the whole time. I look forward to Mr. Miner’s analysis, as always.

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