Hot Damn! That was the most enjoyable few weeks I’ve had in years. From Red Rocks to SPAC, the second leg of summer brought everything back- there are no more questions. With thirty shows under their belt, Phish is killing it and only getting better. With leg two diverging so greatly from its June predecessor, one wonders what went down in those five weeks in between tours?! As a community, we are now basking in a post-tour glow like none we’ve felt in years, and when thinking of what show to sit down and listen to, the options overflow. August 2009 (with the tail end of July included) will go down as one of the most significant tours in the band’s career, re-birthing the wondrous creativity that put them on the map in the first place. Nailing complex compositions, taking daring improvisational risks, engaging in stage antics and pulling out songs from throughout their career- the band we once knew is back again and poised to grow better than ever.
Combining a renewed musical ferocity that we haven’t seen since the mid-nineties with a re-discovered spirit of exploration, Phish’s music has literally been brought back to life, bursting with dynamic creativity throughout the entire run. With a healthy, more mature perspective, the band has been having a blast onstage- an energy that permeated every evening. Phish shows are Phishy again, a quality that was largely lost for the years of heavier drug use. The same spirit that imbued the band in their earliest days has once again returned. Listening to Trey go on a narrative rampage during Hartford’s “Icculus,” telling us once again to “Read the fucking book!”, it was like hearing that voice and feeling that energy that gripped you ages ago on that analog tape. Say what you will about bustouts, but when the band is nailing some of their most revered and oldest compositions like “Forbins > Mockingbird,” “The Curtain (With),” “Fluffhead,” “Dinner and a Movie” and “Harpua,” there is an undeniable significance in the band’s willingness to closely identify with pieces that defined a different era, while still rolling out new songs simultaneously. Throughout this tour, Phish has embraced the totality of their legacy and paved the way for a future that holds limitless potential. I have no doubt that if all band members remain healthy, some of the their finest days lie ahead.
One of the striking qualities of the improv from this tour was how well the band was listening to each other. Carrying on tight musical conversations, the band members were responding to and building off of each other’s musical ideas with striking fluidity, resulting in some of the most unique jams we’ve heard in ages. Throughout the tour, the band was so much more musically relaxed, allowing ideas to evolve instead of forcing them, and most often seeing jams through to fruition. Phish was back again- leaving everyone with a completely different sense of the future than we had only weeks ago. The mystery and intrigue has also returned; that feeling of the unknown when the lights go out has grown more dramatic with the spectrum of possibilities having widened so much. Building hugely creative pieces all over the second leg of summer, Phish has upped the ante of anticipation each time they step on stage- in short- we can feel the feeling we forgot.
And that was just the first tour! Whatever incarnation Fall will take, when Phish brings this energy inside four walls, things are going to get crazy. Notoriously playing darker, more intense shows indoors, I- for one- can’t wait until our refueled band steps into the concrete confines of Madison Square Garden, The Knickerbocker, and beyond. In the upcoming weeks, we will no doubt be going through the essential music of this past tour- and there is so much to discuss! In only twelve shows, Phish put the pedal to the improvisational metal, creating so many highlights that I haven’t even listened to them all twice, (with Red Rocks 7/31 II being the only real exception.) But now we have some time to kick back, relax, and digest some of the most significant weeks of the band’s career. The “comeback” is now over- Phish has fully returned they and chapter three is already pages underway.
DOWNLOAD OF THE DAY:
8.1.09 Red Rocks (Matrix) < Torrent
8.1.09 Red Rocks (Matrix) < Megaupload
Night three- many people’s favorite. Two sets of fire. Matrix mix by Mat Guido.
I: AC/DC Bag, The Curtain (With), Mound, Gotta Jibboo, Guyute, Punch You in the Eye, Tube, Alaska, Run Like An Antelope
II: Rock and Roll > Down with Disease > Free, Esther, Dirt, Harry Hood
E: Sleeping Monkey, First Tube
AUD Source: B&K 4022 (ortf) > Sonosax > 744T (Taper – Craig Davis)