A Stairway To The Stars

10.30.09 (Photo: Graham Kucas)

10.30.09 (Photo: Graham Lucas)

With all due focus on Phish’s mastery of The Exile Set and the bombast of Festival 8’s final frame, the shadows cast have already engulfed the 30th, a show that was anything but forgettable. Setting up Halloween with a flowing second set of tightly woven improv, Phish played a show that spanned the emotional spectrum from uplifting to macabre. Surrounded by colorfully lit palm trees and and giant, flame-throwing tiki-torches, the band opened their musical carnival by stringing together several popular jams while molding an artistic set with a distinctly Phishy flavor.

Indio_Oct 30_09

10.30.09 (G.Lucas)

The band kicked off the second half with 1000 mics of adrenaline to the dome in the form of a festival-sized “Punch,” as Trey’s crack-like guitar scratches burst from lowered speaker towers that practically stared us in the face. With all the room in the world to move, the concert field collectively exploded as Phish tore into the full-on opener. Using the composition to set up a drop into a larger vehicle, the only question was which they would choose. Gordeaux quickly answered this question with his signature bass feedback, signaling entry into “Down With Disease.”

10.30.09 (W.Rogell)

10.30.09 (W.Rogell)

Launching into one of the year’s most consistent jams, Phish brought us on a magic carpet ride as they crushed the melodic, structured jam. Though several minutes into this scintillating “Disease,” Trey changed into a series of quasi-distorted rhythm chops, signaling a break from the song’s form. The already thrilling adventure turned menacing as Trey’s guitar tone transformed into an uncompressed growl, pulling the band into darker territory. Page hopped onto the clav, Fish switched up beats, and the band merged into sparser grooves – seemingly on the verge of  something bigger. Washes of sonic psychedelia coupled with a slowed, then diminished beat, soon created an effect-laden transition into “Prince Caspian.” Throughout this initial portion of the set, Phish displayed cohesive playing with a fierce intention behind their improv. Exuding confidence through their instruments, the band built a gorgeous version of the imaginary tale before forgoing the song’s final power chords for a piano transition into “Wolfman’s.”

10.30.09 (G.Lucas)

10.30.09 (G.Lucas)

The subsequent sequence of “Wolfman’s > Piper” contained the most adventurous jamming of the weekend, as well as Phish’s darkest Halloween experimentation. Spring-boarding off a series of swanky grooves, Phish took us into the netherworld with an ambient exploration of the occult. Syrupy funk dripped from the speakers onto the first festival audience in six years, in a confluence of motion and catharsis. The band locked into slowed down dance rhythms that included equal contributions from all members, quickly building into a show highlight. The mechanical precision of the over-sized grooves brought that physical rush of excitement inside, that ability to conquer the universe as it raced through my mind. The limitless room to move only enhanced the aura of freedom, and as the grooves wound down, Phish dropped into space.

Crafting the weekend’s “Halloween jam,” Phish evoked memories of the insane depths plunged by “Wolfman’s” on Halloween ’98, with a harrowing ’09-style ambient excursion. Building a terrorizing wall of eerie psychedelia Phish summoned the dark spirits with their cryptic musical mysticism. Sculpting one of the most ominous jams of the year, the band sufficiently explored this haunted realm before the passage bled into “Piper.”

10.30.09 (W.Rogell)

10.30.09 (W.Rogell)

Another one of ’09s strongest songs, “Piper,” reached a place of organ-led, sparse, rhythmic playing that maintained the music’s fast-pace while opening up space within for unique offerings. This jam grew into a truly engaging piece of Phish, as the band continued to break down the music into an increasingly divergent place. Morphing into an awesome melodic plane with shimmering rhythms and seemingly-composed melodies, Trey added a vocal layer over top –  much like the Gorge’s “Light” jam – and the band arrived in some truly sublime music. Only after the next night – and upon further listening – did it become evident that Phish had previewed their Halloween costume at the end of “Piper” with an “I Just Wanna See His Face” jam. One of the outstanding highlights of The Exile Set got some practice the night before; much like the band used the “Mike’s” jam in Tallahassee on 10.29.96, to covertly jam on Remain in Light’s “Houses In Motion.” This Stones-laced “Piper,” one of the most beautiful musical moments of the weekend, delicately dissolved into “Joy.” The band used the poignant ballad as a landing point for their extensive improv, as everything flowed perfectly through this sequence.

Phish got right back to business as they dropped into “Bowie.” Just before the band popped out of the intro, Trey dropped one last bit of misdirection, whispering, “We’re gonna give you a little hint about the Halloween album now.” Pranksters until the end, Phish followed the joke with a concise, yet smoking, rendition of their classic. More true to form than in past years, ’09 “Bowies” have remained type-I all the way, and this one followed suit. Nonetheless, the band showcased their spot-on communication as they built perhaps the song’s strongest outing of the year.

"Burble" (G.Lucas)

'Burble' During "Harry Hood" (G.Lucas)

Combining two of their oldest pieces, Phish unveiled their first (non-Coventry) festival “Harry Hood” in ten years. A hallmark of The Clifford Ball, The Great Went, and Lemonwheel, there has always been something incomparable about a wide-open “Hood” in a vast field, under an never-ending sky. As the band brought back a treasured tradition, they also introduced “Burble,” our partner in hallucination for the weekend. As the band sailed into the ethereal jam, a balloon structure, likening a massive pharmaceutical, floated gently over the crowd. Kuroda used the piece as a backdrop for his own work as the entire experience created a tripped-out, blissful conclusion to the set. While playing through this masterfully nuanced “Hood,” the superb quality and creativity of the actual music got overshadowed by the artistic eye-candy. The holistic spectacle, however, made for an uplifting and psychedelic start to the band’s first-ever west coast festival.

Making our way out of the concert field for the first time, we passed by The Coil, through the haunted castle, and around the decorative grounds Phish created for the weekend. Surrounded by giant art installations, exhibits with artists busy at work, and other sundry attractions, the distinctly mellow vibe of Eight contrasted with the monstrosities of yesteryear. As we made the short walk back to our free-for-all campground following an exciting show, we still had six sets left! Was this heaven? No; it was the long-awaited return of the Phish festival!

Set 1 Notes:

10.30.09 (G.Lucas)

10.30.09 (G.Lucas)

Just as everyone predicted, Phish opened their first festival of the modern era with “Party Time.” More polished and confident than Merriweather’s debut, this slapped a smile on everyone’s face just as things revved up. A raging, above-average “Chalk Dust” kicked the energy up a notch, setting up a drop into the liquid funk of “Moma Dance.” A mid-set combo of “Stealing Time” and “Stash” stirred up the witches’ cauldron with their paths of sonic sorcery. “Stealing Time” stretched into its most significant incarnation to date, pushing the song a bit further towards the brink of type-II exploration. “Stash” followed its late-summer pattern of blow-out versions, this time with a shift into a major-key for a section of the jam before landing back into darkness; a highlight version no doubt.

I: Party Time, Chalkdust Torture, Moma Dance, NICU, Stealing Time From The Faulty Plan, Stash, I Didn’t Know, Poor Heart, Cavern, Beauty of a Broken Heart, Ocelot, Time Turns Elastic

II: Punch You In The Eye, Down with Disease > Prince Caspian > Wolfman’s Brother > Piper > Joy, David Bowie, Harry Hood, Golgi Apparatus

E: Character Zero

10.30.09 Indio, CA < Torrent

10.30.09 Indio, CA < Megaupload


Jam of the Day: 10.30 II

“Wolfman’s > Piper > Joy”

The highlight of the first night.




10.30.90 El Dorado Cafe, Crested Butte, CO SBD < Torrent

10.30.90 El Dorado Cafe, Crested Butte, CO SBD < Megaupload

Circa 1990 (Unknown)

Circa 1990 (Unknown)

Here a show from Phish’s first Halloween weekend in Colorado during 1990. This is the night before Halloween, sticking with the theme of the day. This old-school SBD includes the debut of “Llama” and more than a few classics in early form.

I: The Landlady > Bouncing Around the Room, Donna Lee, The Asse Festival > Suzy Greenberg, Uncle Pen, Cavern, The Squirming Coil, Possum

II: Mike’s Song > I Am Hydrogen > Weekapaug Groove, Magilla, Foam, Reba > Llama*, The Ballad of Curtis Loew, Fluffhead, Hold Your Head Up > Terrapin > Hold Your Head Up, Buried Alive > David Bowie

III: Paul and Silas, The Lizards, Good Times Bad Times, Contact, AC/DC Bag


Source: SBD


Indio_Oct 30_14

10.30.09 Indio, CA (Photo: Graham Lucas)

10.30.90 Indio, CA (Photo: Graham Lucas)

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296 Responses to “A Stairway To The Stars”

  1. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    that would be 1-2 in the last three years, obviously…

  2. Mr. Completely Says:

    good advice from @GP420 on dealing with the massive Project torrents. If you download a matrix of a show, also download a straight SBD, in case you don’t like the matrix mix. however I agree with kenny that those 2 miamis matrixes are quite amazing. The 8-4 Philly matrix is one to skip though.

    In addition to the above mentioned shows I recommend 7-19 and 8-6 particularly…just assuming you have 6-18 if you like ’74 dead.

    I’m working on a summer ’74 mix from these shows FWIW but it’s gonna take awhile to get it ready

  3. GuitarPicker420! Says:

    @type III – you gotta stay true to your school. I have been rooting for the Boilers since ’94 and man did we suck it back then. The Jim Colleto years. There are no W’s in Colleto, but man there are several L’s. He used to go jogging in front of our house off campus and we would heckle him, no joke. No on the other hand, we had Captain Caveman, Gene Keady himself, leading the Boilers to back-to-back-to-back Big 10 hoops titles while I was there, so that pretty much made up for it. Glen Robinson was a hoss back then. Although I found it somewhat difficult to get behind him since he beat my tiny high school in the state finals, back when there was only 1 class basketball in the state.

  4. GuitarPicker420! Says:

    @Mr. C – I created a playlist with all of 1974 in it, and then just hit random. You get some pretty crazy stuff. A couple of days ago it went Eyes>Phil & Ned>Truckin>Weather Report Prelude>Stella Blue. Definitely a nice afternoon of listening.

  5. Mr. Completely Says:

    From May I would also add 5-19 – a huge open jam in the Truckin’ > NFA, class A improv segment there


    hahahaha Notre Dame

    actually don’t care, just playing into the schadenfreude thing


    go blazers!


    See, friday from 8 is so underrated we’re already not talking about it, LOL

  6. Mr. Completely Says:

    you listened all the way through a Seastones?

    wow, that’s dedication

    try the 9-11-74 one, it’s like 30+ minutes, you’ll love it 8)

  7. GuitarPicker420! Says:

    @Mr. C – I will tend to give anything a chance. I have been known to listen to all Kula Se Mama (sp?) from Coltrane too. But not twice 😉

  8. halcyon Says:

    Robear… it was ulcer inducing watching them play .. so uninspired

  9. Marshall Says:

    Hey Miner … any word on when the PT Archive will be up?

  10. llamalee Says:

    miner are these SBD

  11. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    It’s in my blood; I have no choice. As a wee five year old I had a t-shirt that said “I HATE PENN STATE” with a drawing of the leprechaun strangling the nittany lion. When I was twelve I wore a pin that said “EAT SHIT PITT”. I hear you on the being true to your school!

    And yes, Colleto was awful. BTW, thanks for giving our BB team a transfer with bad knees. 😉

  12. Phamily Berzerker Says:

    I don’t know which is more annoying this early Dead talk or football talk. 🙂

    ^ cannot torrent from work

    @ T3 my neighbor is a huge ND fan, vanity plates say so. I had to medicate him with the goods from 8 to get him to chill about the loss.

    Right now, it is good to be an AZ sports fan!

    Schadenfreude, big college-type foreign words in play early. Bien Hecho! One of my favorite emotions, sick as I may be.

  13. GuitarPicker420! Says:

    @type III – well you didn’t think he transferred just because he wasn’t the star anymore. If JJ comes through the way I think he will, this year’s Boilers are going to be excellent. The incoming class is nice too. First game tips off Friday night. First real game is against Wake Forest in a few weeks.

  14. punkmug Says:

    Great to see some more props given to that evil Wolfman’s>Piper. Easily tied with my other favorite segue of the weekend Tweezer>Maze. Great stuff!

  15. Mr.Miner Says:

    re: Archive. I need to add 2009 shows and then am gonna go live with some of the earlier shows added as we go. It will be unveiled before Fall Tour for sure!

  16. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    yay Archive!

    GP, Boilers should be sweet this year. Looking forward to watching them.
    Phamily B, glad you could help out a Domer in the best way possible. I know I was assuaging my pain in the same way Saturday night…

  17. Leo Weaver Says:

    kudos on the archive Miner…just one more reason to say Thank you Mr. Miner!

    @punkmug…the Tweezer>Maze segue is killer. I really like how fish pushes it for a solid minute or two before the others join in…nothing quite like that “tic-a tic-a tic-a tic-a” coming in lightly over some space, whether for Bowie or Maze.

    I still need to give 10.30 II another listen or three.

  18. Phamily Berzerker Says:

    10-30 is a great night of music right up to the character zilch. F’n hate that song as a stand alone encore or set closer. Way to drop the ball, bigtime.

    Minor glitch to show compostion but for me, nearly trashed it, for me.

    I just don’t like that song! not even certain why taboot.

    Have not relistened to any 10-30 but plan to shortly. I recall Señor Miner’s highlight vividly, in principle. getting to it shortly.

    Do the w00k d0wn proceeds support the site?

  19. Robear Says:

    10/30 rips. Skip ‘Caspian’ in the second set, and you have one of the strongest outings of ’09. jk, not really. I try not to be disappointed when I see the prince live, but he’s so easy to skip on these tracked downloads.

    Mike kills everything from ‘Party Time’ on.

  20. c0wfunk Says:

    listened to 10-30 this weekend. Great show all around. I really enjoy the halloween wolfman’s and the piper ..

    and char 0 is a hell of a closer to any set 🙂 It really is the ultimate closer to me – as fishman said the first time they played it “it’s better than machine guns” .. it, plain and simply, rocks.

  21. Leo Weaver Says:

    have to say, the caspian sounded better due to the improved vox if for no other reason. that’s what always made me cringe when they started it up…but it, like billy breathes, can be really nice – IF the vocals are on.

  22. c0wfunk Says:

    if you happen to dig the caspian, this one is pretty suave – the segue in is extremely cool as trey rides the fx in a really cool way, and the outro contains some more creative effect rocking with Trey. The two chord nature of the tune allows for some great back and forth oscillating trance inducing kind of jamming

  23. Leo Weaver Says:

    I’m with you cow…I like Character Zero as a set closer (not so much as an encore though)…except when I was getting it at every show I attended. the gorge version was certainly “better than machine guns”…and didn’t even close the set taboot!

  24. c0wfunk Says:

    during some of the vocal improv in piper it sounds to me like Trey is singing “sol la sol” .. as you would do singing a melody in solfege (think “do a deer, re a drop of golden sun, etc”)

  25. albert walker Says:

    I really dug the Woflman’s > Piper. One of the weekend’s highlight.
    I also think the 1st set was played really well with another weekend and 2009 highlight, Stash.
    Mike is killing it through the whole 1st set with Party Time and Moma being highlights.

    Punch seemed to have a bunch of mistakes and never rally got going. Check out RR for a great 2009 version.
    For me the Bowie through Hood portion never really clicks either.

    I love Bowie’s and I really don’t think Page and Trey are quite up to giving this song the work out it deserves. I just don’t see the menacing, shredding grand piano playing that is needed to make this one shine.

    Hood kind of was at the whims of the burple. Nice version but not really focused and no real direction. I think Trey was trying to play to it.

    I saw the Zero coming so we were already balling and did not have to listen to it, but I agree one of my least fav songs.

    In all I thought it was an above average 2009 performance with Stash and Wolfman’s > Piper great moments.

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