Summer’s Second Set

Red Rocks - 8.1.09 (A.Mccombs)

Red Rocks - 8.1.09 (A.McCombs)

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.

The Gorge (A. Headington)

The Gorge (A. Headington)

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.

Hartford (T.Salido)

Hartford (T.Salido)

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.

Hartford (T.Salido)

Hartford (T.Salido)

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.



8.1.09 Red Rocks (Matrix) < Torrent

8.1.09 Red Rocks (Matrix) < Megaupload

Red Rocks Poster Series

Red Rocks Poster Series

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)

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385 Responses to “Summer’s Second Set”

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  1. freshtracks420 Says:

    Morning all…here’s hoping for some fall tour dates to be announced soon…especially some additional West Coast dates!! Just wanted to weigh in with my thoughts on the Gorge debate from the past day(s) as to which was the better show. Having been at the shows, but not having had a chance to get around to listening subsequently…I am definitely in the minority contingent who prefers night 2. I just felt that the 2nd night brought more heat. I couldn’t help but feel that certain portions of the 1st night seemed to lack moxie. I also felt that the Hood was average at best and never seemed to gather much steam. Unfortunately, I also found this to be true of the subsequent Slave as well…one of my absolute favorite Phish anthems, but it never really felt like it got off the ground. The best way that I could describe my sentiment after the 1st night was that it seemed to me as though Trey’s guitar work was lurking in the fringes for a bit of the night…often not finding that sweet spot that we all crave. Certainly not to complain…had a great time…just felt that the more straight-forward rocker that was night 2 was more rewarding personally! As I said…still haven’t heard the recordings…still working on the Red Rocks run….that Ghost is pure heaven IMO…not to mention plenty more greatness from the RR run. Here’s hoping for at least another 4 nights at the rocks next year…maybe along with a 3-night Gorge run!?! Anyone?

  2. rizlamon Says:

    “Phishy shows are phishy again.” – well put Mr. Miner. To me, the enthusiasm for playing is the single greatest influence on the quality of the music for these guys…

    “With leg two diverging so greatly from its June predecessor, one wonders what went down in those five weeks in between tours?! ”

    I heard the boys went on walkabout in the remote outback of Australia, feeding on traditional herbs and roots known by ancient Aboriginal tribes to have spiritual powers.

    But that could just be a rumor I started…

  3. Matso Says:

    @ freshtracks420 –

    Having listened to the majority of both Gorge shows, I can see how G2 might have felt like a better show in person. I think they’re both fantastic to be honest. The Hood, btw, might be my favourite from all summer, so hopefully on a re-listen, it’ll grab you.

  4. Matso Says:

    One further random thought:

    I really like the Darien show a lot and think the second sets flows really well, but did anyone else notice that Trey basically didn’t play The Horse guitar part? On the AUD I have, it just sounds like Page is playing the chords behind him. Big Red butchered this one at Hampton, but I would have expected that beautiful bit of music to be played with confidence again by this point (I haven’t listened to the other versions from this summer, so don’t know if he nailed it elsewhere). Anyone else notice this?

    (Fyi, this is not a gripe or anything, just something unusual and the only place to air these sorts of irrelevant observations and get some decent responses is this board)

  5. rizlamon Says:

    ^^^^ hear hear

    Horse never really came together for Trey. Neither did Foam.

    He clearly needs to keep practicing his composed parts in songs like Horse, Foam, Fluff, Bowie, Hydrogen etc

  6. afroskully Says:

    @matso… i noticed that too… i think since hampton, page plays along with trey in The Horse which is something he never did in the past.

    Speaking of random thoughts…did anyone notice that in RR1 billy breathes, trey plays the solo EXACTLY the same way on the studio version? Like perfectly note for note. I think thats the 1st time he’s ever done that.

  7. Dbone Says:

    @matso … I think I remember hearing at least one horse from this summer where trey played very prominently. With so much music to review and my only having time to give most stuff one listen, I can’t recall exactly when it would have been. but I do think i remember saying to myself, “wow, trey is really playing that horse”

  8. Little Buddy Says:


    I did notice that Trey didn’t play the horse guitar part. When I was at the show it felt intentional to me. I’m not sure why that choice would be made, but typically there is no piano at all, and just guitar. It is not a difficult guitar part, so I don’t think that it’s because he can’t play it. I haven’t listened to the recording yet, but my sense at the show was that it was an intentional change. I’d forgotten about it until you mentioned it today. It’ll be interesting to see what others have to say about that…

  9. carini Says:

    @ freshtracks420

    The difference with that 8/7 Hood is how patiently developed it is compared to other versions (8/1, 6/18, 6/12, 6/10, 6/6, 6/2) earning that “epiphany moment” triumphantly.

    It also struck me that the Slave was also a very heavy contender from that show relative to (8/2, 6/21, 6/16, 6/5) versions. Again, I think it may be the development of that “tightrope of tension” which these songs require to really make them sublime.

  10. BTB Says:


    For some reason, I felt the first set rocked (and I hate usually don’t like first sets!). I haven’t gone back and listened, but I thought they really came out of the gates hard/tight. The GIN was stellar and the D&M bustout was great to hear.

    I didn’t catch the HORSE silence at the show, if he did, it probably was intentional (Trey Acapella?). I guess my grief with the 2nd set was the CASPIAN out of the DROWNED. Just killed my energy at that point. I found myself serious questioning if they were going to cover Rift? I would have gladly traded the CASPIAN for MAZE, but whatever, I had a great time at Darien (worth my $20 tix)

  11. BTB Says:

    Little Buddy, hey man, we meet again! Good to see you at Darien and the pics of your “Fat” kid, ha! Funny stuff

  12. kb Says:

    @freshtracks420 – “I also felt that the Hood was average at best and never seemed to gather much steam.”

    I COMPLETELY disagree with you about Hood specifically. I wasn’t at this show so maybe this is the issue. But based on the recording, this is a fantastic Hood, full of emotion. Since feelings are subjective I guess we are both right. I connect quite well to the build of this song though.


  13. Mr. Icculus Says:

    Can someone please help? I have been downloading the no spoilers mp3 files, my problem is the files are to big to burn on a 80 min CD. Is there a way to track the songs so i can burn the music on a cd?

  14. kb Says:

    @ Mr. Icculus

    I use iTunes, which allows me to split the file into multiple CDs. The other option, audio editing software, is more complicated and time consuming. But if you want to go that route, download Audacity. You’ll have to edit the file into multiple tracks, then export in the format you prefer. Then you’ll need to make a playlist in your normal audio playback /burning software. IMO, iTunes all the way.

  15. Mr. Icculus Says:

    @ kb
    is i tunes a free download? And how do i do it once i download my i tunes?

  16. jdub Says:

    Just wondering if anyone in the pavilion at Hartford saw a chicken bone thrown on stage prior to BOAF thus triggering that song selection (someone posted this on livephish board)

    Also, at hartford, wondering if Trey is experiencing some hand cramping. During beginning of YEM he flubbed a section that seemed not by accident but because something was wrong, then he put his guitar down perhaps because his hand hurt, then he had a similar flub in WMGGW before ripping a quick ending.

    Any thoughts?

  17. kb Says:

    @ Mr. Icculus

    iTunes is free. go to apple’s website for the download. once you have iTunes downloaded, create a playlist by clicking the new playlist icon(+ icon) on the bottom left side of the interface. name it the show/set of the no spoiler file you downloaded. with the playlist selected, drag the no spoiler file into the playlist on the right side of the interface. next, click the BURN icon on the bottom right(note your new playlist has to be selected). iTunes will ask you if you want multiple CDs. confirm and the burn process will begin. once the 1st CD is done you will have to put in the 2nd to complete the burn process. LAST, the CDs are burned. now it’s your turn to burn one.


  18. Prince Nabby Says:

    I listened to the Hartford show twice back-to-back yesterday, and my jaw dropped so many times it doesn’t fit on my face anymore. That was a seriously amazing show. I saw some throw downs this summer (Asheville, Knoxville, RR2) but for me ~ and this is *just* my opinion ~ this is the absolute show of the tour and deserves instant classic status. A number of shows this summer have had great set lists, or nailed compositions, or exploratory jams, or interesting bust outs, or wacky stage antics, but this one has them all in spaces. Those who feel otherwise are welcome to their opinions; I’m just talking here about my own personal reaction. Hartford is definitely going to be in heavy rotation in my iPod for a while.

  19. afroskully Says:

    @jdub… i was on the lawn for hartford and saw the chicken thing on the video monitor. I thought it was a rubber chicken…Trey was holding it by a string… a funny intro to BOAF.

    @prince… i couldn’t agree more! Although i will say that Foam you saw in knoxville IMHO is one of the best things i heard on tape all tour.

  20. A_Glide Says:

    I was at the Gorge and had a better time 2nd night. I havn’t listened to them yet, starting with 2nd night right now. I’ll let you know when I’ve had a chance for a second take, but I remember how sick the second set was 1rst night too so we’ll see. in either case, I’m glad to have Gorge ’09 as a feather in my cap…

  21. Bapslap Says:

    @ afro

    I did notice that. Billy is one of my favs, and I know the studio version very well, so it jumped out at me that I could sing along to Trey’s “solo” note for note on first listen. Perhaps he relearned it by listening to the album version, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing…

  22. sumodie Says:

    RE: Billy Breathes @ RR1

    This was one of the most beautiful ballads performed by the band all summer long. Exquisitely played….Trey’s voice was exceptional on this one.

  23. Jdub Says:

    Hartford was epic, no question.

    If ther is one thing everyone seems to agree on it’s that.

    The show comes across beautifuly on the sb. I’ve listened to it numerous times
    and it astounds me.

    The jam in flight of the mockingbird may have been the sweetest piece of music all night. Charging and soaring as the now famous mo kingbird makes his way up th mountain

  24. SOAM Says:

    We all start out small…

    the second time arouououound…….

  25. sumodie Says:

    “at hartford, wondering if Trey is experiencing some hand cramping. During beginning of YEM he flubbed a section that seemed not by accident but because something was wrong, then he put his guitar down perhaps because his hand hurt, then he had a similar flub in WMGGW before ripping a quick ending.”

    I saw this too. Because it was so hot and sticky that night, I assumed Trey was having a hard time keeping his hand dry. As for WMGGW, folks always say this is a difficult song to perform, and Trey seemed challenged to both sing and play guitar -plus he had to fiddle with the mic for a bit too -the major flub I heard came during this part. Once he was freed of singing, his guitar work was stellar, imho.

    Yes, it was a rubber chicken that was thrown on stage at Hartford.

    “I guess my grief with the 2nd set was the CASPIAN out of the DROWNED”

    Me too. I’m not a Caspian hater, but this placement really got to me as well. While Rift was great to hear, I didn’t find my groove again till Antelope, my favorite version of the summer.

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