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”

  1. wvbrdr Says:

    nice. thanks mitch.

  2. EL Duderino Says:


  3. Chuck D Says:

    Is there any video taken from CK5’s perspective showing his set up, him pressing buttons, and the resulting lighting effects?

    What he does is beyond me, I need to see it in action to deduce what is going on. I was in a perfect spot to check Chris out at RR3, but I couldnt take my eyes off the stage to watch him…

  4. Lycanthropist Says:

    @ Mr. C –

    This Side Up is a trio I am in. Funk, Jazz, Improv. I dont have shows available online, but if you are interested I can hook you up via, Aol IM or Yahoo IM….

    Thanks for checkin em.

  5. Mitch Says:

    you were saying we needed more creative signs. that was my antelope sign.

  6. Mr. Completely Says:

    that’s what I meant by enablers, albert, exactly – it wasn’t just the people, it was the whole machine.

    a lot of my friends who were on the inside of that were sad for a long time that Phish had not taken the opportunity to learn from their mistakes

    now it seems like maybe they’ve done that

  7. EL Duderino Says:

    It all depends on what your high on! Ask AW, he’ll tell ya’. Somethings take you places you don’t really want to go to and sometimes once you get there, finding your way back may be very difficult. That kind of addiction is not cool!

  8. Mitch Says:

    “need to get some friends that like Phish first though.”

    make phriends at the show!

  9. EL Duderino Says:

    Weren’t Trey and Page the major addicts back when? Mike and Fishman were not as bad from what I remember

  10. Mr. Completely Says:

    @Chuck D, I have some experience with lighting rigs, and with computer setups, and I have tried to follow what CK does and it it still a million years beyond my comprehension. I kind of get it in abstract, he has a lot of pre-programmed sequences he can trigger for movements or color changes, but the couple times I’ve tried I’ve been completely unable to grasp the mechanics of how he does it.

  11. albert walker Says:

    It is hard in the hippie community to speak out when someone is dying because of drugs.
    A lot of us live for the party, or at least not judging others that do.
    Imagine telling Jerry Garcia to quit doing drugs.
    Imagine if you were Phil Lesh, an addict himself, although not heroin, telling him this.
    Very difficult situation that usually ends up just being ignored.
    Has happened in my circles too many times to count.
    I have similar issues regarding telling people what to do in their own lives regarding drug use.

  12. EL Duderino Says:

    CK did a great job incorporating The beauty of the Gorge background with his lights IMO. Phantastic

  13. albert walker Says:

    from what I’ve heard yes Page and Trey seem to have problems
    Mike and Fish usually just fun

  14. BrandonKayda Says:

    I always figured it was mostly Trey, I didn’t know Page/Mike/Fish were on drugs a lot too.

    I’d still like some people to go with. My friends have no musical taste (well, not the right kind 🙂 kidding) and they probably wouldn’t want to go to some lame hippy drug band concert. Besides, going with friends would probably give me a better chance at going. (parents would be okay with it)

  15. Neemor Says:

    This tour has had great significance for me.
    I, too, just overcame a heroin addiction from @ 2001-2007*8.
    Tough battle to win and it’s never really over.

    This resurgence and return to form by Phish had held some deep meaning for me…the smiles (esp. from Trey) seem so much more genuine.

    And I remember everything at the show. It’s so good.

    8/14/09 would have simply melted my face back in the day (more so due to psychedelics) but this year, it meant so much more.

    I love this band and have so much more respect for them now….it really strikes a nerve when people talk about how sure they are that the boys still partake. That they still get high, even if it’s only “weed.”

    They say that “every bottle has a needle at the bottom.”
    Once an addict quits, we can never go back. Trey can’t “puff a little doob, or smoke a little grass”. Not from time to time. Not on Saturday nights. We aren’t wired like that.
    My best guess in this light is that they are completely sober. No beer. No shots to celebrate. No spliffs. Nothing. He can’t afford it. And if his band mates care about him, they wouldn’t do it around him. Cold hard reality.

    Now, that’s not to say that I think drugs are bad. Addiction is bad. Those of us who go too far with it is bad. I guess I’m really saying I hope they all stay clean.
    I brought this all up b/c of speculation to a band’s drug usage. If you don’t know, don’t even mention it or speculate. It’s just bad form.

    Anyways, the clarity in the music I hear now makes it so much more beautiful to me. It’s a brave new world and I’m loving it.

  16. SOAM Says:

    There is no way Trey ain’t pulling tubes of sour diesel, blueberry delight and sweetooth and perhaps a couple GOO-BALLS!!!!!

  17. wvbrdr Says:

    From what I heard, CK had a big problem with drug abuse back in the day. The band is what saved him from heading down a very dark path. He started taking the lighting very seriously, teaching himself as he went.

  18. Mr. Completely Says:

    albert, you make more sense in fewer words on this subject than anyone I have ever known – and I grew up in the hippie world from birth, surrounded by all the things we’re talking about, good and bad.

  19. SOAM Says:


  20. Nissl Says:

    Maybe not the right way to take this discussion, but I know Trey has alluded in several interviews that Page had major problems too. Alcohol is mostly what I hear… not sure about anything else. CK5 also had problems with drinking and probably more.

  21. albert walker Says:

    I got 5 years sober myself
    don’t know about GD
    but the Phish things I’ve mentioned is pretty first hand
    they were not hiding these things back stage 98-2004

  22. Mr. Completely Says:

    @Neemor, kudos and continued health to you. FWIW I know many people who are still winning the battle you’re talking about 20+ years down the road.

    There are some people who follow the MMP (marijuana maintenance plan) and others who need to be completely clean

    as for the band my bottom line is what I said before:

    they seem healthy

    they seem happy

    they seem glad to be together

    the details are none of my business

  23. albert walker Says:


    it’s the mmp
    marijuana maintennance program
    all us ex-addicts belong to that program

    I have OG, and headband keeping me sane right now

  24. Mr. Completely Says:

    yeah albert I was backstage at west coast phish shows in 99-03, without getting into details it was all pretty flagrant

    ugly scene, a big turnoff to me

  25. Neemor Says:

    Thanks AW.
    Just celebrated my 1yr on 8/14, my third show of this tour (including Star Lake and Deer Creek)
    It was such a celebration.
    One of my good friends that was there got so drunk, he passed out in his car and never made it into the show.
    Puts things in perspective for me.

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