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”

  1. Brian Says:

    yeah that is a fucking awesome first set. can’t wait to hear it.

  2. Brian Says:

    definitely feeling a jammy set II to follow-up

  3. Mr. Completely Says:

    fucking A, listening to Number Line studio again cut now, this time loud – this thing could seriously be a radio hit. Bizarro. really glad they held the album til after summer tour.

  4. wvbrdr Says:

    it must seem like a different band coming home after this west coast run. i wish i could catch one of these final four.

  5. lot rat Says:

    gorge saturday sbd cranking on sirius 17 right now….tasty as I remember

  6. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    there’s the How High the Moon I called earlier today…

  7. lot rat Says:

    second set???

    Timber>Ghost>Light, Scent, Joy, Twist>Piper>Walk Away, Velvet Sea, Suzy

    E. Alumni Blues

  8. Phish...Yup Says:

    Pretty quick set break. Drowned with glow ring war opener

  9. Doc Says:

    HHTM was only a minute long, according to yemblog. But still, great that they played it.

    Set II:

    Jim->Piper->Twist->Ghost->ASIHTOS->Mike’s Groove E: Scent of a Mule, Frankenstein

  10. Doc Says:

    Spoke too soon

  11. Mr. Completely Says:

    ah that was you @type III! great call!

    btw I think the newly evolved 2nd leg jamming style maybe should actually be called “type III” – open like II but focused and under control like type I

    never cared for those terms, but still

  12. lot rat Says:

    stealin time def this set

  13. Mr. Completely Says:

    I guess you can’t say these 2nd set opening cover tunes are overplayed when they continue to slay them…

  14. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    thanks, Mr. C. I haven’t been very “on” with my calls lately so it’s nice to actually get a rarity for once.

    my name might give you an indication of how I feel about the naming conventions. it’s kind of a running joke.

  15. Wax Banks Says:

    Re: Masada: the Masada Strings are unbelievable, as is the all-guitar album (Ribot’s one of the lads, with Frisell and Sparks). I prefer the strings to Masada proper, but they’re fucking incredible, no question. The 50th anniversary shows are just great all around.

  16. Mr. Completely Says:

    @Wax – haven’t heard the guitar one, that has to be good. The strings stuff I’ve heard is incredible…that one cellist…blanking on the name right now, not sure it’s even the same thing you mean.

    @Type III – good, nice to know. just always thought those terms were too geeky.

  17. Mr. Completely Says:

    yay nice lengthy jam on the drowned…now caspian, but remember All Bets Are Off tour

    oh shit the Spiritualized sounding part of the Sally jam came on…I have to go trance the fuck out

  18. Wax Banks Says:

    Frisell’s a god. He can wring more feeling from a single note than most guitarists I’ve ever heard – and he’s got the chops for the avant-weird stuff Zorn throws his way. East/West is great.

    I forget who’s in the string trio but they’re amazing. So much intensity without ever sacrificing their delicacy. (Phish has that same quality – one of the truest signs of musical maturity.) I believe Zorn sits in to ‘conduct’ some of their tunes – I saw some videos online with him running shit with hand signals.

  19. Doc Says:

    They playing Rift? Stream sounds like ass.

  20. Mr. Completely Says:

    @Doc – yes – the set after (With) so that settles that. I know people are jaded about rift but I think that’s cause they played it without fire for a long time. A hot Rift is a hell of a song.

  21. Doc Says:

    Wish I could tell if this was a hot Rift or not – Hoodstream needs to take his iPhone out his pocket.

  22. Mr. Completely Says:

    what’s next – slow tune? big jam? composed rocker?

  23. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    weird. I’m listening to the 1st set of RR3 and just got into the (With) part of The Curtain as I saw that they went into Rift. Spooky…

  24. Doc Says:

    I feel a Twist coming on

  25. Mr. Completely Says:

    yeah the streaming thing is just not ready for prime time. So far I have heard a total of one set streamed with decent quality and semi reliably, not a very good batting average. love the effort, but we’re not there yet

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