The Final Four

The Gorge (G. Lucas)

The Gorge (G. Lucas)

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.

The Gorge (G.Lucas)

The Gorge (G.Lucas)

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.

Red Rocks (G.Lucas)

Red Rocks (G.Lucas)

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.

Shoreline (W.Rogell)

Shoreline (W.Rogell)

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.

Chicago (C.Smith)

Chicago (C.Smith)

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…

458 Responses to “The Final Four”

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  1. Mitch Says:

    I.. am.. numba 1. (and also obviously a dork)

  2. CJ Says:

    I already can’t wait to make my “Best of Second-Leg” playlist!

  3. Frankie Says:

    Still Sneakin Sally through the Gorge… Highlight of my summer!

  4. danny_b_mt Says:

    I’ve been reading your blog since the reunion was announced and, while this is my first post, I’ve been very impressed with your writing and observations Miner. I’ve been seeing this band as much as I can for the past 20+ years and I’m impressed by your ability to articulate that which we all know and feel so clearly yet somehow can’t quite put to words.

    The above summary of tour-so-far fits my perceptions pretty well and, still glowing from the beauty and amazement of what went down in George, Washington, I share your optimism and excitement for the final four. They will be mind blowing. No doubt.

    Thank you Mr. Miner, for your insight, your modesty, and for creating this forum where we can all reflect upon what it means to be (more than) a fan of this greatest band on earth that is so much more than a band.

  5. Andrew Says:

    If you are reading this, please play Tela in Merriweather 🙂 She was a beauty in ’98, and we would love to see her again in her new clothes. Thanks!

  6. Trey Says:

    Andrew, I hear you, I’ll consider it.

  7. Frankie Says:

    It’s going to be a beautiful four days…

    First time this summer that you can actually call it that instead of “extended monsoon season.” I won’t be making it to The Big White Tent, but I will be at SPAC, and I can’t wait. I’m going with a bunch of first-timers. They have no idea what they’re in for. 🙂

  8. Frankie Says:

    lol… I see someone else had the same idea.

  9. Matso Says:

    @ Frankie –

    Definitely sounds like your trip out west was worth it! Both the Sally and the Bathtub are all time great versions, not to mention the Light. I haven’t even heard G2 yet, but by all accounts, also a stunning show. Have fun at SPAC – sad that I won’t be crossing the border this year with the rest of the Montrealers!

  10. DaWedge Says:

    Gettin the the car and rollin’ to Darien this morning from Toronto. These four venues are what we die hard Canuk Phans really do call the final four. Classic venues. Back in the Northeast. 2 of them in upstate NY. memories galore at these places for me. And I have a funny feeling the big-top is about to have it’s top ripped off tonight. psyched. safe travels everyone. see you in Darien for the throw-down. Let the games begin. the circus is a place…

  11. Jon Bailey Says:

    Rejoice!! This east coast kid will finally get me some Phish. You lucky west coast bastards!!!

    I know these west coast shows were great but some of the June shows dropped the hammer. I still love the JB 3 show. As one of my fav’s from this tour.

  12. bhizzle Says:

    Heads up for all you travelling the I90 (Thruway in New York), the mounties are out, especially in the work zones. (I’m talking about you Syracuse.) So be careful if you’re coming from the east to Darien or going to the east after Darien.

    See you all at the Tent in less than 12 hours!

  13. Rutherford B. Lizard Says:


  14. neemor Says:

    Good morning all!
    The best part about this whole thing, as I re-listen to a crispy FOB from Gorge 8/7-specifically Bathtub Gin- is that these glowing reports of Phish 3.0 are not even the least bit blown out of proportion.

    The way that the boys are playing right now stands up to any era of Phish that has come before. It seems to just make sense on the most basic levels, the band has simply gotten back on the track that they were on from what in my opinion they left behind ’99-’00. It’s remarkable to see how Trey’s cleaning up his act has gotten them ‘back on the train’.

    Mike has a rejuvenated spirit to his playing (just listen to that Gin for a perfect example, of which there are many). The Chairman is smiling and listening and sticking his neck out to lead jams with renewed confidence. Henrietta, well, I just think back to the hilarious, playful encore in Burgettstown. And to see The Bad Lieutenant jump around the stage with that ol’ shit-eating grin for days past is a thing of beauty!

    This is not classic Phish. To me this Phish is the continuation of the process that was left in 2000. When I remember remarking that “they get better every show!” I saw no end to their greatness then and I see no ceiling to it now. The gems- the moments- that keep popping up in the Summer of 2009 highlight Phish as good as I’ve ever heard them and the best part is that we all feel it and it’s no fluff. It’s no joke. Phish is back (I know it’s been said before), but as my third and last show of Summer Tour ’09 looms this Friday (if I indeed get a ticket at the gate), I am filled with that feeling I’d forgot. That knowledge that this show is going to be the best Phish I’ve ever seen.

    Thank you all for the posts along the way, finding Miner’s Thoughts this summer has gilded 2009 for me and I again feel the community that I feel I had lost five years ago in that sad, wet corner of the Northeast Kingdom.

    Here’s to the sleeper that Hartford will undoubtedly be and the Vultures>Harpua that’s in store.

    Peace, Love and a Louder Mike~
    Andrew in Ct.

  15. Marshall Says:

    Have to ask again … when will fall tour be announced?????

  16. RobAins Says:

    I’ll second the comment about NY Troopers being out. I spend a lot of time driving to and fro in Upstate NY and have def noticed that there are a shit ton of cops on the highways this summer. Keep it at 70 or just barely over and you should be fine…..

  17. BTB Says:

    For you upstate NY veterans out there:

    Extras available at Darien????? I’m getting in my car last minute and need 2!!

  18. stash Says:

    good morning all!

    what a great write up miner. just reading that would make anyone want to go for a ride. it’s been too long for me. saw the boys at fenway – had a blast. now going to see them at SPAC – can not wait.

    taking the fung wah to new york friday morning – first time – and from what i’ve heard, it could be compared to a frantic version of stash.

    cheesecake – cheesecake – cheesecake!!

  19. Mitch Says:

    btb, my friend may have extra darien. tickets at facemelt dot net

    i like your upbeat attitude and excitement this morning.

    i cannot get enough of this sneakin sally. WOO!

  20. Mitch Says:

    next time do megabus. the fung wah is sketchy and breaks down. megabus and bolt bus have rides for as cheap as a buck if you do it early and they have wifi. i did have one megabus with issues but we still got there.

  21. Brian Says:

    listening to gorge night 2 set 2 and getting psyched for SPAC.

    Everyone who’s hitting up other shows this run have fun! No doubt all four will be sick.

    What does everyone wanna hear??
    a nice extended version of one of the new jam vehicles..BDTNL, Light..
    MY SOUL!

  22. BrandonKayda Says:

    Tonight is going to be wild. Big YEM/Piper I’m guessing

  23. Mitch Says:

    Ive been wanting Llama, Guelah, SASS!!, and Funky Bitch.
    Then all the gamehendge stuff, lizards, tela, forbin >mock but those go without saying i guess.

    Here’s hoping they pull that stuff at SPAC. We were saying before the gorge that SASS, pebbles and wotc needed to come back and now we have pebbles back. I hope the rest come back soon too. SASS was my fav 2.0 song.

  24. Brian Says:

    I could dig a nice long Scents at SPAC.

    Camden ’03 version was awesome!

    Funky Bitch would be sweet too

  25. Mitch Says:

    Camden ’03 WAS awesome.

    Re-listening to set 2 night 1 gorge for the first time since the show. I forgot how awesome the outro jam on Light was. I like it when Trey does his oooo’s and then it goes seamlessly into taste. niiiice.

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