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. wvbrdr Says:

    I’ll check that out. I need to create a list of music recommendations I hear about on these pages. First on the list is that one. I don’t know too much about African music past Fela Kuti.

  2. Mr. Completely Says:


    straight Kora playing

  3. Robear Says:

    Colonel, the Salmon River humbly awaits your arrival!

    The ‘BDTNL’ jam @ SPAC filled every molecule of space in the pavilion. It was truly a ‘lightning live from your porch, or recorded on the weather channel’ moment. I think it sounds better on record than it’s getting credit for, too. I’ve seen the last show from several tours over the years, and this one came off as an inspired effort. The band was tired, PERIOD. I’m surprised how well they played, considering the travel distance, the heat and humidity, and everything else about road life. Look at the proposed fall tour. Time off between every city. Multiple nights at most venues. See 12/18/99 for an ‘off’ tour closer. Some memorable highlights from an exhausted band. See 10/7/00 for a quiet tour closer. I’m proud of the way they stepped up at the SPAC. I wish they would have played two nights in Hartford, two at the SPAC………jk. Loved it all!

    I saw RR and Shoreline out west. I saw the last four shows out east. The shows were different, don’t know how else to put it. The jams, while generally a little shorter on the east, were awesome! They’ve been listed over and over on this site, but each show had some stand out playing.

  4. Mr. Completely Says:

    I am very much in learning mode re: african music. Toumani is my current focus. I have a lot to learn – I probably am 1% of my way into the african music learning curve.

  5. whole tour! Says:

    afro beat trance rock

    major influence on trey….

  6. Robear Says:

    Howz about ‘Sun Ra’?

    Mr. C, do you know “Alice Di Micele”?

  7. wvbrdr Says:

    Mr C, if you ever find yourself up in Seattle, the first round is on me. We’ll bring ipods and swap music.

  8. Neemor Says:

    We’ve talked about the recovery aspect with Trey before and our own personal experiences, I know awalker has a good story and provides me with another ‘success story’ to draw strength from….it makes my heart feel good to know it does work sometimes, despite the numbers.

    I’m terrified of going back there.

    But to hear this rumor that Ernest is meditating is a really good and positive sign that things can only get better from here.
    I’ve been worried when people on this board or especially Phantasy say that he’s slipping or partaking in a little here and there because I know for me, that means I’m on the path to the place I struggled so hard to free myself from.

    I hope to God, Allah, Jehovah and Icculus that this band stays drug free and healthy from here on out because I know that I could not handle another drug-related break up.
    I can’t imagine how heavy your hearts must have been for Jerry going through his crisis for all of those years (Mr. C and others).

    On a side note…when Trey clears his mind and goes to that place while meditating…..I wonder if his place is GameHendge…..

  9. Mr. Completely Says:

    Sun Ra, no longer to my taste, but a fascinating persona and musical adventurer!

    Second that King Sunny mention. Like Toumani, his stuff can be either acoustic, intricate and beautiful or electric, funky and hot.

    ‘course I know Alice, Robear. A West Coast treasure. She is one of the jewels of the Oregon Country Fair every year, if nothing else.

  10. halcyon Says:

    Has anyone checked out Bela Flecks Album/Documentary regarding his trip into Africa, and the music that was created/collaborated with local musicians? I definitely recommend checking it out.

  11. voopa Says:

    Toumani: I like Djelika

  12. whole tour! Says:

    look for the greek 83 king sunny show on tapecity or dime.
    serious jams

  13. whole tour! Says:

    ‘sand’ reminds me of king sunny.
    long, trance repetitive jams

  14. Neemor Says:

    When I want to clean my palate:

    Delta Blues

  15. Robear Says:

    Bowie>Gin from Darien. “Hey old friends, seeing their first show since Coventry, Welcome to the new Organic jamming style we developed over the west leg.”

  16. Mr. Completely Says:

    @wv, sounds great!

    @Neemor – it was profoundly traumatic and deeply damaging to the soul. In fact it kept me from connecting as deeply with Phish as I might have, since when I started going to shows again after a long break (in 99) it seemed clear to me that Trey had gotten on that same dark path and I didn’t want to be part of that again. I had disengaged myself from the actual GD tour scene in ’91, and was attending 1 run a year plus a few JGB gigs as convenient, but that didn’t really cushion the blow when it fell.

    From that Deadhead’s somewhat PTSD-ish perspective it makes me even happier for Trey. He was always so original…to see him following such a worn out path was disheartening to say the least.

    I mean, if you’re going to do one thing like Jerry, don’t pick THAT.

    Not that that’s why he was doing it, but you know what I mean.

  17. nonoyolker Says:

    @ Mr. C – I def need to check out Toumani Diabate. I am in that mood these days, so perfect timing on the recommendation.

    One recommendation i can make for really nice compositional music is Moondog – The German Years or Sax Pax Plays the Sax. Moondog is a blind viking street poet from the 70’s. Excellent composer. I’d start with Sax Pax if you haven’t heard it already. Really great stuff.

    @ wvbrb – Virtuoso is the absolute best. So relaxing.

    Other go to relaxing jazz albums are Coleman Hawkins – At Ease and Jimmy Smith – Bucket! and any early Grant Green or Wes Mongmery

  18. cottle Says:


    No, but now that you mention it, I’ll have to look out for it. I love bluegrass music (what can I say…I’m from the South), but many people forget that the banjo was an African instrument first and foremost. It’s interesting to see how all these insturments (African banjo, Irish Fiddles, Italian Mandolins, etc.) were all combined here in the new world to create this new melting pot of music. Who better than Bela to tell that story?


    Amen to that Delta blues comment! About the time I started getting really into “classic” rock and roll (at 12 or 13 years old) I started tracing backwards to find out what music these bands were listening to when they were kids. That’s how I was able to find out about Howlin’ Wolf or Lightin’ Hopkins through GD, or Robert Johnson or Freddie or Albert King through Cream/Clapton, or Muddy Waters via the Stones…the list goes on.

    One day in fifty years, our grandkids may very well discover Phish under similar circumstances.

  19. snigglebeach Says:

    @ Neemor

    I guess i haven’t been to that many ampitheatres, but i have never been so cramped on a lawn than at SPAC. If you hang way back you cannot even see the stage. and i was at that 04 show, in the cramped lawn during that Piper (which was awesome). I have thouroughly enjoyed every show i have ever seen there. But compared to GW or Hartford, that lawn is tiny. Also i am not one of the pavillion snobs. i wouldn’t spend extra $$ for better seats. in fact never payed more than $66 for a phish tik (fests excluded.)

  20. Robear Says:

    Mr. C, ever see a young cat named ‘Nico’ or ‘Nicoluminous’? He does an organic, acoustic, one man hip-hop / poetry thing.

    re: hearing teases or things in our head-at the 3:54 mark of the “morrison jam #2”, or the R n R jam, if you will from 8/1, Trey hits a quick riff of ‘Crosseyed and Painlee’, no? Or is that what people were calling the ‘LA Woman’ tease? Does anyone else care? I should be gardening, but I love all the discussions, and Monday’s can be wild!

  21. albert walker Says:

    Also Johnny Law caught Trey early, which sometimes helps out.
    He was still taking OC’s.
    That shit was like eating a breath mint by the time I got clean.
    He was still in the pharma addiction tolerance getting too great- discovering dope is a much better drug phase.
    If this was left to progress the heavy heroin addiction is always around the corner.
    I know he was not there yet cuz once you are you don’t want that crap anymore he got caught with.
    Just does not do it anymore.
    With a little help from the arresting officer and his new lease on life he just may be OK.

  22. Mr.Miner Says:

    “But to hear this rumor that Ernest is meditating ”

    ^^ this is not a rumor

  23. Robear Says:

    I know, I’m way behind on the listen through’s, but thanks to Mr. C, and some visit’s to unlimited Bandwidth zones, I’m catching up.

    Bass solo from R n R into DWD = backflips (8/1)!!

  24. Neemor Says:


    How about that Reba Opener?
    That was also the day I finally met and talked to Timer (Zzyzx).
    Good times.

  25. Mr.Miner Says:

    “I know he was not there yet cuz once you are you don’t want that crap anymore he got caught with.”

    ^ he got caught with heroin as well as pharmaceuticals (OCs, etc..)

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