Ending With Joy

SPAC 8.16.09 (D.Vann)

SPAC 8.16.09 (D.Vann)

As Phish stepped on stage for the last time this summer, it was their last performance before their album Joy would be released on September 8th.  Instead of relying on classic show-stoppers for their final set of summer, they artistically wove together Joy’s first and last song, creating a forward-looking musical highlight to cap the tour.  With the encore at SPAC including “I’ve Been Around,” the band completed their season-long preview of the forthcoming album (that was leaked all over the web just yesterday.)

SPAC (D.Perrucci)

SPAC (D.Perrucci)

Instead of dropping the expected and overdue “Mike’s Groove,” “Reba,” or “2001” as focal points of their final frame, Phish used two of their newest songs to craft the musical talking point of their last show, leaving us looking wide-eyed into the future.  After watching “Number Line” grow in improvisational scope throughout the second leg, when Phish dropped into its upbeat opening to open the second set, you had to figure it would be the meatiest version yet.  And when we walked away from SPAC that night, the conversations certainly centered around the sublime jam that stemmed from their newest launch pad.

SPAC (D.Vann)

SPAC (D.Vann)

Phish broke the noodly mold of the song’s first-leg versions at Red Rocks, and then grew it further at The Gorge and Toyota Park, gradually becoming more and more creative with the jam- but this version would surpass anything that had come before.  In a twenty-minute journey, the band took their music to much darker places than previously visited by the song.  Beginning with Trey’s altered leads, Mike and Page hopped aboard, shifting the canvas from happy to eerie.  Fishman was the last to leave the song’s rhythms, and when he did, things became a whole-band experiment in psychedelic beauty.

Building into the ether, this jam was not only the culmination of all the versions that had come before it, but also a symbolic culmination of Phish 3.0 through Summer ’09.  Each version had grown in scope- just as the band had- into its current form; a metaphor for all we have to look forward to.  Delving deeper into Phish sorcery than any previous rendition, this “Number Line” developed into a full-on exploration of the dark side of the psyche.

SPAC (D.Vann)

SPAC (D.Vann)

Landing in a lush, ambient forest, the band carefully took in the foreign landscape.  And out of this extended amorphous ball of sound came hints of something familiar.  Was it “Fast Enough?” “Man Who Stepped?”- thought my mind, racing through the past.  No- it was the first creative use of “Twenty Years Later,” and the band seamlessly slid into Joy’s retrospective closer.  This was the initial time we really got a feel for the song and its musical drama.  Put under the spotlight of the summer’s final set and crawling out of the murky musical fog, the slower composition flowed particularly well, hinting at its versatility.

SPAC (D.Vann)

SPAC (D.Vann)

At a time when Phish could have easily ran through some of their popular classics to finish tour with a bang, they used the first half-hour of the set to explore their newest material, signifying what direction this whole thing is moving.  And after creating the most engaging passage of the night with Joy’s bookends, they took it back to the old-school with a “Halley’s,” “Harpua,” and a “YEM” included in the rest of the set.  But using their last stage as an illustration, Phish made no bones about previewing their promising future while still honoring their past.

Winged music note=====

Jam of the Day:

Number Line > Twenty Years Later” 8.16 II


The musical centerpiece of the final show of summer.



8.16.2009 SPAC, Saratoga Springs, NY < Torrent

8.16.2009 SPAC, Saratoga Springs, NY < Megaupload

3830241489_3fd2195c80I: Llama, The Moma Dance, Guyute, Anything But Me, Cars Trucks Buses, Chalk Dust Torture, Golgi Apparatus, David Bowie, Cavern, Possum, Ocelot, Run Like An Antelope

II: Backwards Down the Number Line > Twenty Years Later, Halley’s Comet > Rock & Roll, Harpua > I Kissed A Girl* > Hold Your Head Up > Harpua, You Enjoy Myself

E: Grind, I Been Around*, Highway To Hell

*first time played

Source: Schoeps MK41>KC5>CMC6>Sonosax SX-M2>Apogee Mini-me(aes out@24 bit/96khz)>COAX>Edirol R-44 SD-HC Card>USB>Soundforge 8 (tracking, resample/dither to 16bit/44.1khz)>FLAC (Taper – Andy Murray)

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335 Responses to “Ending With Joy”

  1. tba Says:

    IMHO of all the eleven shows I saw including Hampton, Hartford and second night Alpine are the top two. Alpine had me shedding tears, and Page was all over it. And if you don’t think Hartford was a fantastic show, I don’t understand how you could like Phish.

    As for the gorge, for me it was WAY too crowded down on the blue front part. Way more than any other Gorge shows. I just didn’t think compared to say 97 or 98 Gorge, it even came close. I did not go to RR this year, went in 96′, but thought the July 31st show was SO good, especially the funk down Tweezer. I DL’d the show and it is SICK. Even the recording reveals how fantastic it is, as sometimes a recording does not do a show justice.

    I went to Shoreline and LOVED it. Cities was so good, as was the whole show, especially set II.

    This is my ranking of what I attended:

    1. Hartford and second night Alpine tie
    2. Shoreline
    3.Great woods
    4. Alpine night one
    5 Spac.
    6- Hampton night one
    7 Hampton night two and the gorge shows-these three don’t even make my top 100.

    Hartford and night two Alpine make my top 10 ever.

    First show: Slade Hall UVM 86′ not that that means shit. Just giving perspective.

    Fave shows attended: 12/31/95; 98 Gorge 2001 mikes; Keene fall 91; Worcester 98 wipe out and 97 Turn out the lights wolfman night jam; hampton any night 97 or 98; RR 96 night 3 Noewegian wood in Tweezer with BBfCFM; certain Front 89 and 90 shows; Townsende 90 and 91; Hartford 09; Alpine night 2 09′-In front of Page front row with my BFF from grade school and some new friends and cried a river during Velvet Sea as Page probably chuckled at me (we were casual buddies when I was at UVM late 80’s)-the whole set II at second night Alpine was so good. I used to HATE BUG then at Trey’s Brooklyn comeback show I “got it.” (First time I ever dried during a Phish related show was that night during Greyhound rising or around that point when some 20 something kids probably were laughing at me as I blabbed about UVM having our football team back and our QB :<)-yes I am a freak sometimes. They killed it at Alpine, and the DWD and Boogie on and C&P jams at Alpine were some of the tightest funk jams ever IMHO.

    I wish I enjoyed the Gorge, what the f### was wrong with me? OHH well.

    By the way I was front row at Hartford and there were only four seats in our side section front row and the other two seats were these two kids in their early 20's, and it was me and a old school friend in the other two seats, and we just all bonded, and it was so cool to be getting along so well with kids 20 or so years younger than me. They were pretty messed up, and screaming over and over Trey play Ghost, TREY PLAY GHOST!!! Ordinarily I would be like dude you said it a 100 times let it go, but it reminded me of when I was at that age screaming for AC DC Bag or Creature from Mars, and I just laughed and went with it. Then they payed it, and the kids freaked; and then the Psycho Killer; I loved that. We all just smiled at each other and had a wonderful time. Cheers to everyone as Phish is back. And to those two kids, great time hope to see you BDTNL.

    PS AS for the comments about Page, sorry he fing killed it at every show I saw. Page is a GREAT guy who never gets the credit he deserves. As for his piano playing needing work, whatever clown wrote that please tell us who is Page's age and a better rock Piano player? Also Mike was just bombing the h out of Hartford as his bass playing literally shook the whole place. During Forbins bombs were everywhere.
    Gordon owns thew world of rock as he may be the best rock musician in the world right now not including Pete Townsend or Trey or Clapton on a good night.. Plus Schools is pretty darn good. But Mike had an awesome tour.

  2. tba Says:

    miner, sorry to moan, but what happened to my post, no swears or flaming, if you have an open post or if it is too long do some posts get axed ? Sorry I just thought I made some nice comments about my fave shows of the tour.

    No worries as it is your site, but I don’t EVER flame people.

  3. Mr.Miner Says:

    ^^ it was just held up for length….no worries my friend…

  4. Mr.Miner Says:

    “I wish I enjoyed the Gorge, what the f### was wrong with me? OHH well. ”

    ^^ grrreat question! 😉

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  10. dognamedwilson Says:

    =^_^= – I am a furry, and I identify as a cat |:-( – I wish I didn’t have a unibrow :*D – I still have glitter on my face from Saturday night! J:-( – I just got a bad haircut o-<–< o+< – I’m currently giving birth ( . )( .) – I have a lop-sided boob, unfortunately .-) – Life is good, even with one eye (_*_) – You’re an asshole

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