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. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    msb, the one thing I wish they had more of in the movie was music from the festival. the Chinacat segment was nice but it seemed like they could have done more with it.

    on a related note, I also watched the History Channel documentary “Woodstock Then & Now” this weekend. Pretty cool revisitation of the whole thing with some pretty funny stories from people who were there. My favorite was definitely the couple (shown with grandkids) at one point who told about how they met because she approached him and asked if he had anything good to share (which he apparently did). Nothing like finding out your grandparents met because grandma wanted some acid.

  2. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:


    sentence in the middle of the second paragraph should read “My favorite was definitely the couple (shown with grandkids at one point) who told about how they met because she approached him and asked if he had anything good to share (which he apparently did).

    moving that parentheses allows that sentence to actually make some sense…

  3. Jay Says:

    I saw that documentary. Very well done. I like that one dude who’s official title was “Chief of Please”. Hilarious. Love love love love Wavy Gravy! Gotta love hippies man.

  4. Mr. Completely Says:

    @lycan, yes, I have been listening to that free download on his site, Change of Heart. It’s really odd but cool stuff.

    Other than that I’m listening to African music, dipping back into summer Phish, trying to keep up with the GD 1974 Project, and working my way through a huge pile of psytrance and other electronica…all other new music inputs are being tabled for the moment since my head is in danger of exploding 😮

  5. Lycanthropist Says:

    @ Mr. C –

    I know the feeling. I am overwhelmed with new music myself. All the while I just started that blog, so I am trying to get more familiar with html. I am having to sift through the Chance Fisher library to pick tunes. So that is getting distracting.

    Really glad you dig the Tim Fite. I really like what he is doing.

    re: Woodstock movie –
    Interested to see it. I like Dimitri Martin, and it seems like it should be a good movie. Bummed to hear that District 9 didn’t live up to the hype.

  6. Jer Says:

    “Sorry for the long post, and these are my thoughts after first listen, so they are apt to change I’m sure.”

    Are you kidding?? When did writing long posts become a downer?? Nice review. Thanks.

  7. Lycanthropist Says:

    no prob

  8. Mr. Completely Says:

    Oh, District 9 is worth seeing! If you like sci fi movies. It’s a well made SF action movie with an intelligent but very obvious theme.

    There have been a lot of reviews that describe it in very glowing terms, one of the all time great SF movies, etc. It’s not that but it’s not bad! I’m saying all this because I think I would have enjoyed it more if it hadn’t been overhyped.

    The problems are a lack of relatable or likable characters, and the fact that the plot is derivative of several classic SF movies I can’t really list without it amounting to a spoiler.

    It still worked for me overall and I’d give it a “good but not great.”

  9. Jer Says:

    @ posternutbag
    “Lastly, the Boise Bag is right up there with the Radio City Ghost (5-22-00) as one of the best moments in Phish History. Good call to the poster who mentioned it earlier, listening now…”

    It’s funny, when I was listening to the 5-22 Ghost I was thinking about how it, the 9-14-99 AC/DC Bag and several of the overnight jams at BC (R&R, CE&P, Roses) are the best and most ‘thematic’ jams of latter years 1.0 Phish.

  10. Lycanthropist Says:

    well i will definitely be seeing it.

    last time I am gonna mention this to you specifically Mr. C:

    seen the blog yet? would like to have you as a frequent. but i know time is short.

    sorry last time I swear.

  11. Mr. Completely Says:

    I have been over to visit but this place takes far more of my time than I actually have, if you know what I mean

  12. Lycanthropist Says:

    oh i absolutely concur. 😉

  13. albert walker Says:

    Darien Antelope is the shit.
    miner flubs in intro, but besides that they kill this.
    Very slick built up thought out Trey, thumpin Mike, busy Page.
    Great stuff with vey nice piano work by Page something I feel has been lacking.l

    I think Page’s piano playing has been a little slow developing. He needs to get his chops back. On an Antelop or Bowie back in the day he would fuckin attack those keys.
    Seems to rely more on the clavinet sound these days. A friend of mine I saw shows with in 95-96 was at Toyota and asked if Page quit the band or was just sitting the night out.
    Some is him being down in the mix but it is also him not playing that much at times.
    Jibboo at Toyota good example. He’s just hitting the changes on the beat pretty much.

    His clav is improved immensely. I remember when he first started fuckin with it. Barely using it. Just teasing it. No he’s full on rage on it.l

  14. Lycanthropist Says:

    good assessment albert.

    he seemed so assertive at Hampton, but then during the tour he was much more reserved. He was definitely shining back out during leg 2.

    I have also noticed that his clav has become his go to keyboard. I like it some cause it gives some jams a more gritty sound, but I miss his piano flourishes too.

  15. albert walker Says:

    They kill this Antelope in a 91-93 swinged jazz 10 minute old school way.
    This is what I would think of when Trey talks about sounding more like the older band at times. No effects cleaner tone, more thought out jazzier runs. A little bit of the over the top at the ending but not too much. It’s very well played. I tend to not like listening to stuff with looser sections and everyone is right on the solo of this one.

  16. MOonSHaKE Says:

    Phish impressed and continues to impress me not only because of the outstanding musicianship and the ability to improvise, but also the zaniness and fun that they exhume on stage and through their music. Frank Zappa was the only other musician who I could give this same compliment for. Frank Zappa, not only could play well, but his music was exciting, funny, and moving, in other words, a complete musical package.

    When I saw Phish in Asheville I nearly cried, for the reason that Mr. Miner and other old hands here probably cried when they witnessed Phish return. I could see the joy in Trey’s eyes, feel it in his playing, in the whole band for that matter. And after near death experiences, living in the 3rd world for 5 years, and after having and getting out of a problem similiar to Trey’s, it filled me with joy too, that I was still alive to experience it again.

  17. voopa Says:

    The time has come for you to be Alive Again!

  18. Mr.Miner Says:

    “They kill this Antelope in a 91-93 swinged jazz 10 minute old school way.”

    ^^ yes. exactly.

  19. Mr.Miner Says:

    awesome time to be alive, Moon!

  20. Jer Says:

    @albert walker
    “I think Page’s piano playing has been a little slow developing. He needs to get his chops back. On an Antelop or Bowie back in the day he would fuckin attack those keys.”

    I know it’s only one example, but check out the 7-30 Ghost around the 12 minute mark when Page starts banging out this great theme on the piano that leads into a really really nice jam. The Phish.net setlist claims that it’s a jam on a New Order song, but I wouldn’t know.

  21. Mr. Completely Says:

    what we were talking about earlier, with deeper emotion coming from Trey now that he’s been through some shit? that applies to the audience too I think.

    lot of survivors here. it’s a real blessing when people share their hard times with friends, even virtual ones. I love posts like Moon’s above.

    Great to have you with us brother. Wouldn’t be the same without you.

  22. BrandonKayda Says:

    Hello everybody,

    Listening to Joy now, I don’t feel like writing anything long but I will say this: I really do like the way they incorporated their live sound into this album, the small jam in Kill Devil Falls/Backwards really shows this. Hell, there is even a flub in the solo in Ocelot! I’m happy that they decided to just play and not try and tweak out the songs and polish them to make them sound perfect. I’m rambling, I know, but I just felt I needed to say something. One more thing, the intro to Light is cool, real spacey stuff.

  23. albert walker Says:

    Ocelot has grown so much since they recorded Joy
    The song is the same but the subtle nuances of a more developed song have come around.
    Mike and Page have found so many groovy lines and fills since that record was put down
    I wonder how different it would sound if they recorded it now after working it out on the road all summer.

    The Gorge version is beautiful. Mike is laying down one groove after another and Page is hitting those Brent style organ fills after each verse.
    Trey’s solo is very well composed. I love how this solo gets slower when it starts and then builds. Trey nails it throughout. First time I think the solo flows real well start to finish.

  24. Mr.Miner Says:

    “I know it’s only one example, but check out the 7-30 Ghost around the 12 minute mark when Page starts banging out this great theme on the piano that leads into a really really nice jam. The Phish.net setlist claims that it’s a jam on a New Order song, but I wouldn’t know.”

    ^^ “Praise You” by Fatboy Slim…

  25. Mr. Completely Says:

    very good description albert. it has a wonderful build to it and a very potent but not overstated peak.

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