If you’re a Phish fan, the summer of 2009 has been something of a fantasy; easily the most exciting season in years. Beginning in Fenway Park on May 31st, we have whittled our way through a fascinating summer of band re-evolution, and we have finally arrived at those last four east coast shows that always seemed so far off in the distance. Beginning tomorrow at Darien Lake, Phish will begin their four-night swan song on their historic summer tour.
Beginning with three weeks in June, Phish tour was once again a reality as we navigated the Northeast, Mid-South, and Midwest en route to a three-week return to the road. With flashes of whole-show brilliance in Camden, Bonnaroo, Deer Creek, and Alpine, Phish was beginning to get there, but something was missing- where was the band’s signature exploratory jamming? As the first tour wound up in the Midwest, the band began to delve a little bit deeper, foreshadowing what was to come.
But over the course of four unforgettable nights at Red Rocks, the entire Phish 3.0 paradigm shifted. In a caterpillar-to-butterfly-like metamorphosis, the band’s style was all of a sudden more relaxed, confident, and focused. The contained playing of June was history, and Phish began creating unique and original jams at almost every juncture. Like an eight-set suite, Red Rocks, alone, featured more musical exploration than three weeks in June. Our band was back, and the tightness they had honed over the course of the year had merged with a renewed spirit of exploration, resulting in an asteroid crash in our collective reality. Highlighted by an insane second set on July 31st, of the like we hadn’t heard yet, Red Rocks ’09 will eternally be remembered as the run that Phish got their mojo back.
After a mid-week stop at Shoreline that seems to be settling into the dark-horse and overlooked show of the second leg, Phish moved up to The Gorge for two of the most musically sensational nights of tour. With two magnificent shows differing in nature, Phish showcased their full improvisational diversity in the Northwest. Strewn with musical highlights and the most laid back vibe of tour, The Gorge will no doubt go down as two of the best nights of music this summer.
And after a one-night stop at the stadium setting of Toyota Park in Chicago, we have come down to the final four shows of summer. You can be sure that this triumphant conclusion to Phish’s summer will blow up. Back where it all began, with four shows in the northeast, the band will begin their final run tonight in the amusement park setting of Darien Lake. With a true sense of excitement surrounding this "homecoming run," the band has much to be proud of after the past two weeks. Over the course of a summer, Phish has fully returned to prominence, and these four nights are going to be a celebration. And I have a hunch that some of the tour’s most incredible is about to unfold. Check it out…