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. Marshall Says:

    Robear – I’m not planning on Indio unless I win the Phish giveaway for ordering Joy. Was really hoping for some southeast love within Fall tour, but that’s not going to happen either. I think I’m setting my sights on Europe/April now. That said, as Halloween approaches, I will likely begin to get the hand shakes and will need to get a fix, so there’s always a chance I’ll be there anyway. Would love to meet up if I do make it.

  2. Marshall Says:

    I’m still not quite sure how one band has affected me this much. I mean, I’ve listened to, and been all geeked-up, over many bands over the course of the last 25 years; but no band has ever gotten hold of me the way Phish does. It gets deep into my soul – in a very real way.

    The Waves from IT is what’s making me write think about and write this presently. Probably my favorite 2.0 song. Love the version from SPAC ’04.

  3. Lycanthropist Says:

    what up robear hows your evening?

  4. Robear Says:

    I’m getting through the second night of the Gorge. Hanging out with friends. Re: gorge, speechless. I finished downloading your show, from the same date as it were, and will finish the listen through soon.

  5. Marshall Says:

    This space-out IT Waves is some tripped-out shit!

  6. BTB Says:

    The IT Waves goes way-way-way beyond anything related to the song. I remember standing there, about 40 rows back, and feeling like I was on a different plant.

    people could barely clap at the end of that song. Just looked around in awe….

  7. Marshall Says:

    @ BTB – agreed – this is not even type II. More like Pink Floyd Pompeii.

  8. Robear Says:

    Dang, you cats have the DVD from Dry Goods? I need to see that. I had a strange time at IT, un-related to the band, just lots of personal stuff. I do remember the awed look after ‘Waves’, though.

  9. Marshall Says:

    The IT DVD is sort of a mixed bag – Disc one doesn’t have any complete songs on it because its a documentary that ran on PBS, with interviews intercut. Disc 2 is all full songs, but it’s a selection from the 6 sets, with some strange cuts (like cutting off at the drop into Weekapaug). Still, it’s got great sound, great picture, etc. Much better than Vegas and Walnut Creek (I don’t have Clifford Ball yet and can’t wait for Shapiro to release Big Cypress already).

  10. Lycanthropist Says:

    @Robear –
    word up. check out our new blog. just click my handle to link there.

    re: IT waves..

    I played that on the dvd soo much i literally burned it out. haha
    great great jam. I listened to the IT 46 Days again today for the first time in a while. Holy Christmas! great completely organic jam.

  11. Marshall Says:

    Worth it for the 26 minute Chaldust (daytime) and the wiggin’ Waves though.

  12. voopa Says:

    “First official Phish Thoughts Meet-up:

    My Rv at Indio!!”

    I’m so there!

  13. Marshall Says:

    Don’t know what it is about Seven Below … I can’t put my finger on it but there is something about this song that I just don’t really like. I mean, it’s well-constructed, they execute it, etc. – I just can’t really dig the sound of it. It’s the poster-child of what I didn’t love about 2.0, in my opinion. Well, actually mexican cousin may be the poster child, but you get my drift.

    P&M good; Waves good; Seven Below bad.

  14. Lycanthropist Says:

    funny, i like seven below. i think its that unique unsettling quality that it has. Its like its really sweet, but has something sinister behind it..

    it has yielded some pretty nice jams too

  15. Marshall Says:

    @ Lycan – yes, it certainly is a platform for improv. I just have never felt like the hose was turned on during the song. It feels more like “noodling” which I’ve always maintained Phish doesn’t do in my arguments with non-believers. Maybe not “noodling” per se, but maybe jamming just for the sake of jamming (which is related to noodling).

  16. Robear Says:

    I’m thinking it’s a ‘tie’ between Gorge 1 and Gorge 2, and a ‘tie’ goes to the winner, who were the fans in attendance, and those of us that can download amazing audience copies of the shows. Seriously, a four set bliss fest, with two encores sessions.

    ^I need to give ‘It’ a good re-listen.

  17. Marshall Says:

    The IT DVD makes me wish I had high quality video for every single show. The close-ups are nice, but I’ll take a static IMAX camera mounted in the back center of the arena, so I can see CK5 masterworks …. yeah, in my dreams.

  18. butter Says:

    nice Robear – winner the fans

  19. butter Says:

    @Marshall – no love for “crystals of snow” huh?

  20. Marshall Says:

    @ butter – no, sadly, I don’t feel like a winner when I hear that song.

  21. Marshall Says:

    I just looked and there are actually 9 songs between Round Room and Undermind that I have no sonic memory of whatsoever. I’m sure I’ve heard them at least once, or perhaps when they got played this year, but I don’t “know” them – they are strangers to me. Yet, I “know” every song from Joy. Odd.

  22. Marshall Says:

    Watching It’s ice from Clifford Ball (via YouTube). Trey looks pretty spun. Practically head-banging. He’s much more “together” on stage these days. I love it either way. The It’s Ice was freaking tight, though. Probably tighter than it’s been this year (the 2 or 3 times it got played?).

  23. butter Says:

    i’m with ya marshall – i know Joy ( and enjoy it) better than round room and undermind. Its Ice (twice) this year. the gorge version was prety hot.

  24. joe Says:

    I’m with some of the others, I like Round Room and Undermind better than Joy.(so far) Not so much a put down of Joy but more that I think the last 2 albums were way underrated and overlooked (and maybe I don’t like ‘mature phish studio album tracks’ as much as I enjoy ‘disjointed, meandering phish studio album tracks’)…
    Also, is it just me or is does the album cover from the freshly clean and sober band look like a giant line of blow?

  25. butter Says:

    i’m not sure joe , but the cover really is trippy

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