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. dyda Says:

    btw, fish wrote the lyrics to harpua

    i like seeing the images of all the tour posters (and the forest metaphor today)

    i kinda knew TYL was coming out of #L. go figure.

    give the people what they want. (important to keep in mind in showbiz)

    i think you’re a little too smart for your own good, wax. or you don’t re-read your posts from an outside perspective cause there are a couple sentences there that just don’t make sense. nice writing technically and grammatically and all, but what is “And it’s not like Trey didn’t write the fucking thing and play it with his rock band” in reference to? “You can’t be precious about this stuff” did you mean precious? for someone as clearly educated, you still need to make your writing readable to the masses. as for the culture, i think i’m gonna hafta call you on that. it’s the negative outside influences that are what you dislike. true heads are quite relatable and some very nice pholks (and an integral part of this IT thing we’re [intentionally] unable to define). sorry. not trying to be a dick, just sayin’

    you did hit on an important point regarding the theatre aspect

  2. dyda Says:

    being able to watch CK5 do his thing was enough of a distraction to get me through any lull or ‘overplayed/underjammed’ song

    i do believe there was jamming in yem, r&r, poscelope, bowie & CTB. maybe not pushing type II bounds, but still…

    you can also look at harpua as similar to the hartford icculus insomuchas the theatre aspect. plus it was the end of tour and trey wanted to give thanks out to his new hometown.

  3. Ocelot42 Says:

    I’ll be downloading Joy today after work. I’ve been hoarding my Best Buy $5 reward cards for the CD and I will buy it the day it hits shelves, but I’m also an impatient bastard. So, since I’ll be laying the money down next week regardless, I won’t feel too bad about getting it today. (I will, however, have no such excuse when I download Party Time. For that, I’m just too poor to afford it.)

  4. MOONSHAKE Says:

    @ Marshall:

    the funny thing is that there were a lot of people like that, whose entire lives revolved around touring, year in and year out. Those days are gone. After Jerry died, the tour finally having reached the end of the road, they all disappeared, like the dinosaurs.

    I didn’t see the regular faces anymore. They didn’t continue on… And while I’m sure their physical bodies continued breathing, for all intents and purposes, the life they knew had ended in Chicago in summer of 95.

    One might ask ‘Why didn’t they tour with Phish instead?’

    And there was a popular phrase I’d hear on the lot that answered it perfectly…

    ‘Silly wabbit… Phish is for kids!’

  5. Wax Banks Says:

    THERE was zero jamming besides the BDTNL>TYL, and those were sub-par.

    Hmm. We don’t have much sense of an ‘average’ BDt#L or 20YL (and we haven’t had a ‘great’ 20YL in any case, right?). Personally, I don’t expect much from ‘Twenty Years Later’ (beyond the big nasty guitar-solo vibe of ‘Saw It Again’) and BDt#L hasn’t opened out yet into Type II stuff. Does it have to? I hope it does, I hope every song does at some point, and I’ll say again that my ideal show in theory is straight-up improv for two sets.

    But damn, listen to CTB, Bowie, Ocelot, Antelope in that first set! Denver ’97 it very definitely is not, but there’s plenty of entertainment to be had, and CTB in particular was inventive and spry. It’s weird to find myself defending the first set of a very song-oriented show, but it was a well-played set full of attentive enthusiastic playing from all four fellas (as I recall). I guess I’m biased here in favour of actually-awake Phish, having seen a few shows that couldn’t stand next to SPAC ’09 (including both Great Woods ’04 shows, 9/11/00 perhaps, a humdrum outing in Buffalo ’96, etc.)…

  6. dyda Says:

    the band could make party time more readily available. they (or management) chose not to so what do they really expect to happen in this age of iphones and auto-tuned music? everything unreleased (victor/bearsville/etc) is somewhere out there in the tubes so…

  7. dyda Says:

    you know trey bought a place down the street from bill murray?

  8. Jay Says:

    ^^ “I’ll say again that my ideal show in theory is straight-up improv for two sets”

    Can’t get there from here without going from here to there. Improvisation grows from structure. Without the structure you don’t have the improv IMHO.

  9. Lycanthropist Says:

    Again we find ourselves in the epic battle of tastes and opinions! I have to agree with @posternutbag about the SPAC show, except for the #Line jam. That jam is one of my favorites. However, I have always been in the school of thought that favors jamming to silliness.

    Yet, I like the silliness, and it definitely has its place as an equal part of the Phish experience. You shouldn’t and couldn’t strip that element away from Phish, just as you couldn’t take the improvisation away.

    The Gorge shows and the RR shows were heavy with thick improv. The east coast shows hearkened back to the fun filled, audience-involved Phish that so many of us initially fell in love with.

    My point is that every show can’t be a jammer, every show won’t have narration. Just enjoy the moment, be glad their are shows to go to. And if a particular show isn’t your style, I’m sure there is another one close by that is.

    P.S. – thanks to all the interest in Chance Fisher taken this weekend, anyone who missed the link to a new blog that will be the new forum for Chance Fisher streams and discussion here it is:

  10. SOAM Says:

    I am fucking loving 20 years later-love the lyrics-Page and Trey doing their thing-great tune-and that second jam-with the heavy chords could cause my head to fall right off…….There is something to be said about a “theatre song” kind of ruining the momentum of a set and know one mentions the tasty Rock n Roll from Spac..but it’s their call -I admit when I look at the spac second set after RnR-it would have been waaaaaay better to get a Mikes-2001-Twist-Groove but it ain’t my band and I’m just there to boogie.

  11. notkuroda Says:

    I really enjoyed this number line, I like this format where Miner talks about a jam, and I can go straight in the jam without going through the whole show. Very easy way to get through the “must hears” of a tour. I really hope 20 years later turns into something. I like the song a lot

  12. Wax Banks Says:

    what is “And it’s not like Trey didn’t write the fucking thing and play it with his rock band” in reference to?

    i.e. It’s not like it was beamed in from some outside world where Phish only plays radio songs, nor is it some fan-written tribute that they pull out as a palliative. The same guys who improvise 20-minute ‘Tweezer’ jams also reassemble ‘Harpua’ onstage each night, and Anastasio wrote the music. A simple thing it is not; in addition to the fun and ‘cultural’ importance it has weight. It’s a substantive Phish song, however silly.

    “You can’t be precious about this stuff” did you mean precious?

    I think I did. I took it to mean ‘high-toned,’ more or less, ‘making faces of disgust,’ and the dictionary tells me…

    PRECIOUS (adj) (derogatory) affectedly concerned with elegant or refined behavior, language, or manners : his exaggerated, precious manner

    …i.e. I was right about the definition and it’s probably not the ideal word now that I’m not annoyed. Maybe I meant ‘You have to take the good with the bad?’

    Well. I said: ‘Harpua’ is part of the musical apparatus of the show, as are ‘Type I’ jams, Fishman songs, ‘Sparkle,’ ‘The Curtain (With),’ lame-ass guest appearances, Talking Heads covers, and a comic rock opera called ‘Gamehendge.’ You can’t be precious about this stuff, man[…] I’m guilty of snobbery on the subject of Phish’s ‘piss-break’ songs and juvenilia, but I like to nip it in the bud when it springs up elsewhere. I take @posternutbag’s point that we shouldn’t overrate the show because of all the ‘cultural’ factors surrounding it; I just think we shouldn’t underrate the show for those reasons either. It was an excellent concert; the recordings of it aren’t very interesting. You can say they ‘don’t do it justice’ if you’d like. Among other things, I hate that shit, but it’s true.

    i think you’re a little too smart for your own good, wax. [etc.]

    Rather than letting this boilerplate go unremarked as is clearly optimal, I’ll say this and be done with it: I think I’d rather have my problems than yours.

  13. MOONSHAKE Says:

    @ dyda:

    when you mentioned Bill Murray… what initially came to mind was…

    Ghostbusters III

    ‘i still ain’t afraid no ghost’

  14. Wax Banks Says:

    Done for the day. Bye all.

  15. llamalee Says:

    a friend was telling me that ending SPAC with highway to hell is a clue that an AC/DC album will be cover for halloween. just throwing it out there

  16. dyda Says:

    i was just saying that you need to dumb it down a little if you expect most people to be able to comprehend you and not get into more long-winded posts elaborating what you could have said more concisely and with clearer language

  17. dyda Says:

    and i just realized that there’s a good analogy to be drawn from this. bear with me. more stripped down/simple songs/lyrics are more easily relatable and resonant than complex/verbose ones. phish started with zappa-esque complexities and silly lyrics and that attracted a certain group of fans, but recently the focus is more on simpler (relatively speaking) song/lyrics that speak to a much larger group and certainly have more emotion.

  18. nonoyolker Says:

    @ Wax – no need to say this, but please don’t “dumb down” your writing (not that you would ever consider doing so – would that even be possible?? would you have to run posts through a reading level analyzer??? seems extreme…). Everyone is allowed a voice and yours happens to be an elegant one, though at times, a tad long winded (kidding!). I enjoy reading your viewpoints, along with many contributers. Continue to preach homey, i’ll continue to read, swallow a grain of salt, and enjoy watching our melting pot simmer.

  19. dyda Says:

    highway may also have just been a nod that 10.30 is their next show. honestly don’t know one way or the other. are they going to do another 70s LP or something more recent? and how cool is it that the jox (joy box) has an LP? (and the ten song posters)

  20. HarryHood Says:

    Does anyone know what exactly is on the “Joy” cover? Looks like water droplets on glass, but the different colors confuse me.

  21. dyda Says:

    a galaxy made of googly eyes (at least that’s what it kind of looks like to me)

  22. nonoyolker Says:

    Yeah, looks like fish eyes. I have to say, i love the cover art for Joy. The element of “good” cover art seems like something that was lacking since Rift (though Billy Breathes is hillarious – there is a nice picture of Mike making the same face outside of a poster hung up at tower records). Cover art is basically finding a pictoral representation of the music on the album. Anyway, glad to see they are stepping up the visual representation of their studio effort. It reminds me of Zeppelin III (also a GREAT halloween cover idea)

  23. albert walker Says:

    I thought this show sounded tired
    Probably my least favorite of 2nd leg
    Of course I was not there and this is only opinion

    1st set was very sloppy, reminded me more of 1st leg

    Very bad Guyute, Trey forgets half the notes
    Uninspired versions of Antelope, Ocelot, and Possum
    Golgi really sloppy

    I found the #line> Rock n Roll to be well played with interesting jams, but the rest of the set does nothing for me
    Harpua is just too sloppy, one run through might have helped

    After listening to all of 2nd leg I found East Coast to be a let down from the west coast legs in general although there were several highlights, none came from this show

  24. Jay Says:

    ^^ “@ Wax – no need to say this, but please don’t “dumb down” your writing ”

    Yes. Please on dumbing down. Ya’ll can just smarten up! 🙂

  25. Mr.Miner Says:


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