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)

Tags: , ,

335 Responses to “Ending With Joy”

  1. Jay Says:

    Where can I get the VR implants? I want to see, hear, taste, touch, and smell Phish!

  2. msbjivein Says:

    Come to think of IT………
    Maybe we’re already in a Total Recall dream and just haven’t woke up yet………………

    “I would like to purchase the ’09 Phish tour memory implant please.”

  3. Lycanthropist Says:

    im freakin out man. I want the red pill.

  4. Jay Says:

    Reminds me David Brin’s “Kiln People” – “In Brin’s imagined future, folks are able to make inexpensive, disposable clay copies of themselves. These golems or “dittos” live for a single day to serve their creator, who can then choose whether or not to “inload” the memories of the ditto’s brief life.”

    Another awesome book.

  5. Lycanthropist Says:

    or is it the blue one?

  6. Lycanthropist Says:

    any sci-fi fans out there ever heard of Stephen Lawhead’s Empyrion (so?) series?

    really cool series about a group of people that go to investigate a colonizing ship’s disappearance. The ship used a worm-hole to get to another part of the universe that had a human-supporting environment. The ship goes missing blah blah blah. Long story short, when the find the colonization ship, they instead find a colony that is thousands of years old. Kind of an interesting story with rigid structured society vs. freewilled artistic society themes going on.

  7. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    anybody else check out that “Taking Woodstock” movie?

    not necessarily the best movie ever but the visualizations they use for when the main character is tripping are pretty cool. Works aurally as well. It’s a hard thing to put to film since it can be so personal but they do a pretty good job of imparting it – probably more to those who have been there than to those who have not.

    gee, I feel kind of weird posting that in light of the earlier drug conversations…

  8. Jay Says:

    Thanks for the book suggestion. Another awesome author is Neal Stephenson. I especially liked Diamond Age and Snow Crash.

  9. msbjivein Says:

    Type III, Yes my wife and I checked that out this weekend. Best “Trip” scene ever!! Pretty Good flick for sure. You see Woodstock from a differwent perspective. I likey.

  10. Lycanthropist Says:

    just got done listening to Joy..

    # Line – Good good capture of this song. Very good solo on the end of it, and I love how it keeps going, even after what is the natural “studio peak” of the jam. One of the better tracks on the disc IMO.

    Stealing Time – Funny thing about this song. This was probably my favorite of all the new tracks when they first debuted. But I find myself getting a little bored with this one now. The studio cut is nice and crisp, but I was hoping for a beefier version then its live showings. I am still holding out for a big jam to come from this one though.

    Joy– Sounds nice and clean. Pretty song. Grows on me each time I hear it.

    Sugar Shack– I really love this one(sorry to disagree @Mr. C). I love the feel and the movement and the non-standard song writing of this. Sounds so good on the album, much more tight than live thus far. As for its place on the album, I think it fits pretty nicely. Especially right after Joy. I think the words have enough vague references to getting away and centering yourself that it fits in the overall theme of self-affirmation that the album is shooting for.

    Ocelot – really catchy tune that is a lot of fun to just let loose to. Nothing major jumps out at me. Kinda reminiscent of Corrine, Corrina (don’t know if that has been mentioned before).

    Kill Devil Falls – nothing caught my ear during this one. I feel like I didn’t even hear it. Gonna have to check it again, but right now, just standard rock fare.

    Light – very cool intro. best part of the album for me. I love the spacy dark shit. This is easily the most studio-enhanced song of the album. It does pretty well on the album. Still not my favorite song vocally but it is starting to grow on me. I have to agree with Mr. C on this point, that on the album the vocals punch through with a lot more intention and direction, making them easier to bear.

    I Been Around – I’m a sucker for cheesy piano ballads being a pianist myself. I love it when Page gets some spotlight. However, this isn’t one of his best and feels more like a breather before…

    Time Turns Elastic – this has been discussed enough.

    Twenty Years Later – I really like this one a lot too, however, the first few lines are at the same level of cheesiness as some of the other songs that have caught flak for the same reason. I guess the music of this song carries so much weight, that its easier to overlook the all too transparent lyrics.

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

  11. posternutbag Says:

    For the record. I am not the same person as Boise Bag.

    I would never post under another “false” name….

    But I agree with his thoughts, as they echo mine. I am not here to rain on anyone’s parade or turn negative as Phish means so much to me and my own personal path. ( I think it helped me through endless hours of studying for grad school and training for long runs) and made me learn how to quiet my mind, and just listen. And from my perspective, after listening to much of the summer tour highlights today, Gorge RocknRoll, 7-31-09 RR set II, and Hartford are the best performances from the tour. The Fenway highlights are better than SPAC – great DWD, Destiny, Tweezer>Light.

    Also, the Boise Bag is one of my favorite Phish moments ever. That is true Type IV music, if there is such a thing.

  12. BTB Says:

    Hey, anybody see the PHISH NPR ARTICLE on facebook today?

    154 comments – most of them haters. Interesting to see what reasons people give for HATING on Phish. Everything from Mike’s incident at Jones Beach to “Trey on Heroin” or GD wannabes.

    In my personnel experience, people who are very knowledgeable about music, at least give PH respect to what they do and have done.

  13. posternutbag Says:

    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…

  14. Mr. Completely Says:

    didn’t see the woodstock thing. Did see District 9. Good, but not as great as some reviewers have painted it.

  15. halcyon Says:

    Don’t know if its been posted yet, but …


  16. albert walker Says:

    Have a new recommendation especially for Beatles fans.
    Picked up an original copy of a record I totally forgot about.

    Booker T. and the MG’s- McLemore Ave
    This is an all instrumental take on Abbey Rd

    McLemore is the street that runs in front of Stax studios in Memphis
    I love this record and I’m not a big Beatles fan
    Funky, groovy laid back versions of the Beatles classics
    They got heavily sued for the album cover

  17. Chuck D Says:

    Where are you listening to the entire album already Lycan?

  18. SOAM Says:

    If you are saying the Fenway show was better than SPAC-i’m questioning credibilty-there was no comparison-Spac was much better-sound, band, everything………Fenway was a nice start-Spac was a good ending

  19. Lycanthropist Says:

    I cheated.. but I pre-ordered.. So.. I’ve paid for it already.

  20. albert walker Says:

    I heard it. Don’t like it. Still ordered a 180G virgin vinyl copy.
    Have to help Trey pay for a new summer home in the Hamptons.

  21. SOAM Says:

    if your inclined to catch buzzes and your going upwards down the narcotic basepath I THINK THE ONLY WAY TO STAY CLEAN IS TO SMOKE ALOT OF WEED AND DRINK BEER-

  22. Bapslap Says:

    Just listened to JOY as well and it was exactly what I expected, so it met my expectations, but didn’t blow me away.

    A few take aways…

    – Love Sugar Shack! Best recorded Mike song on a Phish album IMO.

    – Ocelot is a fav of mine, but seems to lose something on the recording. Plus, they left in (what sounds like) a Trey flub at the very beginning of the solo! I would have thought Lillywhite would have caught that and had Trey punch in. Everything else on the album sounds so polished that leaving this in must have been intentional, but kills the guitar lead into the solo. Weird.

    – The intro to Light is killer! Great Song.

    – I’ve Been Around is just silly filler (siller?) and kills the flow of the album. This one will stay off of my iPod.

    Overall, good collection of songs, but not the best Phish album ever.

    Bring on PARTY TIME!

  23. posternutbag Says:

    THe highlights of Fenway were the DWD and Destiny and the Tweezer > Light. THose moments to me, musically, were much better improv than anything SPAC had to offer.

    I do not enjoy listening to a three minue Llama, a boring Moma Dance (I was at 2-26-03 Worcester Moma Dance – that was a groove fest – simply awesome as well as the Ghost and Stash), a first set sloppy Guyute, and a Bowie and Antelope which were simply pedestrian. Ocelot was the 1st set highlight and it was not as good as other versions this summer.

    This is not Monday morning blues, I work for myself and did fun work all day – listned to Phish mostly while writing. My words are just an opinion of the show. I love to hear others contra opinions and words; that is why I love the Phans. We are so diffrerent and we hear different things.

    The Fenway moments mentioned above were all much better than anything at SPAC with the exception of #L>TY.

    As to sound, I was fifteen rows back center, the sound was great. Other places in Fenway are not as good from my experience, so I understand. Fenway was ok overall, I agree, but SPAC was not a great musical concert experience to me.

  24. SOAM Says:

    Poselope ripped man-20 years later ripped-Rockn Roll was good too.

  25. Lycanthropist Says:

    @ Mr. C –

    Still diggin Tim Fite?
    Forgot what else I recommended you, but did you check anything else?

    @poster –

    my monday blues thing was in reference to the heavy drug and rehab talk. you have every right to not like something on ANY given day of the week.

    @ albert –

    I will have to check that Booker T/Beatles thing out as I am a fan of both.

Leave a Reply