Moments In a Box: Red Rocks

8.2.09 Red Rocks (G.Lucas)

Red Rocks 8.2 (G.Lucas)

After each tour ends, we spend countless hours learning the new music that just unfolded.  We make highlight mixes and listen to certain jams and sets time and time again, studying each subtlety.  When we listen back, we can remember those experiential moments of awe; those times that stood still- not always a result soaring peak.  Spanning the spectrum of human emotion, memories come in all shapes and sizes at Phish shows.   The following are a few of the most poignant moments from the band’s memorable run at Red Rocks.


“Billy Breathes” 7.30 II

Red Rocks 7.30 (G.Lucas)

Red Rocks 7.30 (G.Lucas)

Placed within an ominous frame that featured “Mike’s” “Ghost,” “Wolfman’s,” and “Bowie,” “Billy Breathes” was an oasis amidst the darkness.  Unfolding late in the second set, the entire venue fell silent as the band meticulously moved through the ballad.  Painted with a delicate brush, this rendition stood out after the show had ended.  Its amazing how powerful a Phish song can be when given proper context and attention.  “Billy Breathes” seemed to strike a chord with most everyone in that night, as many commented on its power throughout the next few days.



“Split Open and Melt” 7.31 I

8.2.09 (G.Lucas)

Red Rocks (G.Lucas)

In an dark convergence of Phish and nature, this “Split” summoned harsh wind and rain from the heavens, creating an intense ending to Friday’s first set.  As the storm blew in, Phish took their jam further and further out, into an ominous, hypnotizing plane.  Getting downright sinister, Phish grew the jam into a piece of abstract, mind-control art.  Getting at the very essence of the jam, itself, this dip into the river Styx was a congruent soundtrack to the menacing weather- a perfect Phish synchronicity.



“The Curtain (With)” 8.1. I

Red Rocks (G.Lucas)

Red Rocks (G.Lucas)

Out of nowhere, after an innocent “AC/DC Bag” opener, Phish did the deed; they started up “The Curtain” for the first time since their Coventry demise.  Finally ready to put the past behind them, the band stepped up to the revered piece they so horribly botched as their previous swan song.  Taking the audience by surprise, the moment we had wondered about since March was, all of a sudden, happening.  In the glorious surroundings of Red Rocks, Phish swept the cobwebs from our memories with a sublime, heart-wrenching rendition of “With.”  Slowly narrating an introspective tale, Trey’s lines floated through the sky in a life-affirming moment for all.   In one of the most poignant passages of the summer, Coventry was finally conquered and we were moving on to greener pastures.



“Reba” 8.2 I

Red Rocks (G.Lucas)

Red Rocks 8.2 (G.Lucas)

In the waning daylight on the final night of Red Rocks, Phish unveiled the only “Reba” of the second leg.  A perfect selection for the setting sun of the triumphant Red Rocks run, Phish settled into the jam in a quiet way.  Riding a gradually building groove, the piece was a musical magical carpet ride through the colored eve.  With tasteful and creative phrasing throughout, the band created a soaring and emotive jam.  Like a sculptor and a ball of clay, Phish skillfully manipulated their medium forming a cathartic build within an otherwise mellow set.



Winged music noteJam of the Day:

Down With Disease” Shoreline 8.5 II


Of the many standout “Diseases” this summer, this west coast exploratory monster is firmly in the upper echelon.  The centerpiece jam of Shoreline’s second set, the band moved from rock, to groove, to ambient in this multi-layered piece.  The final section of this jam may be the most engaging, illustrating Phish’s willingness to push their improvisation, seeking deeper places.



Red Rocks Poster Series

Red Rocks Poster Series

8.2.2009 Red Rocks < Torrent

8.2.2009 Red Rocks < Megaupload

The fourth and final night of this historic stand was highlighted a standout “Boogie,” “YEM” to kick off the second set.  Out of the smoke-covered vocal-jam emerged Billy Kreutzmann, joining the band for a fun-filled finale in Morrsion.  We’re invited back this time.

I: Roses Are Free, Wilson, NICU, Prince Caspian, Back On The Train, Reba, Grind, Beauty Of A Broken Heart, Sample In A Jar, Sugar Shack, Waste, Kill Devil Falls

II: Boogie On Reggae Woman, You Enjoy Myself > Undermind* > Drums* > Seven Below* > 2001* > Waves*, Character Zero*

E: Bittersweet Motel, Bouncing Around the Room, Slave to the Traffic Light

* w/ Bill Kreutzmann on drums

Source: B&K 4022 (Taper – Craig Davis)

Tags: , ,

407 Responses to “Moments In a Box: Red Rocks”

  1. fat bastard Says:

    trey messes up the words in fee, crowd loves it.

  2. fat bastard Says:

    playing a song that you wrote 4 years ago and playing it to people who have known it for 2 years is way different from:

    playing a song you wrote 18 years ago and playing it to people who have known it for 16 years.

    listening to songs from Rift in 94-95 was so much more intense then when the band plays them now, regardless of how well they play them. I think that’s what makes their new material so exciting, their intesity is going to be peaking soon.

  3. fat bastard Says:

    “their” meaning the new material, not the band

  4. sumodie Says:

    “playing a song that you wrote 4 years ago and playing it to people who have known it for 2 years is way different from:

    playing a song you wrote 18 years ago and playing it to people who have known it for 16 years.”

    Very well said!

  5. lot rat Says:

    Give me a fuckin break….EUROPE!

    It has to happen. Never been to those parts, and it got a little tougher when I moved out west. Are the tix hard to get? Shit they play small places….I would love Spain (3)>Czech (2)>The Dam (2) for my 10 day dream.

    Its gonna be tight, this little powernugget we have is awfully expensive, and living in SF is alot of dinero….I always said I have to go to red rocks if they play again (check) and absolutely do europe.

    Indio will be the end of the road for me this year, its been fulfilling. Would love to catch those northeast shows back on home turf, but not in the cards this time…

    How did this band take over my life again? Just when you think you are out…they pull you back in

  6. stevie Says:


    It’s clear you liked that show. Have you seen them recently? They are more intense then ever. IMO

  7. fat bastard Says:

    just got home from bar and listened to end of that show. they have so many different moods they can go with a given night. Guessing what these guys are going to do at Indio is about as hard as picking the derby winner in 2010> we don’t even know who’s in the field>

Leave a Reply