The Power of Songs

The Acoustic Set (G. Lucas)

The Acoustic Set (G. Lucas)

Take away the psychedelic improv, monstrous dance grooves, countless effect pedals, digital delay loops, multiple keyboards, envelope filters, and all of the accoutrements of a full-on Phish show, and the songs remain. Lyrics, melodies, and rhythms, stripped down to their naked core; vulnerable souls of their electric kin. Phish has never been known for their pure songwriting prowess, and they have rarely tapped into this energy in their career. Hence, the band surprised everyone when they announced the inclusion of a full-length acoustic set at Festival 8. It would be a first at a Phish festival, and showed a willingness explore a new side of their music.

As we walked to sun-drenched concert field at the crack of noon, few knew what to expect from the band who had played exactly two full acoustic sets in their career. Would they play songs we had never heard before? Would they eliminate favorites from the night time festivities by playing acoustic versions? Would they play Gamehendge like it was story time? It was anyone’s guess. With an iced coffee in one hand and a spliff in the other, I sat down on a blanket to enjoy the show. Having never sat for a moment of Phish in memory – less one “Scent of a Mule” (when I was wholly overwhelmed by the speedy bluegrass and had to sit right there on the arena floor amidst knee-slapping dancers) – I actually looked forward to kicking back and listening to what the band had in store. Certainly the peak of the Festival 8’s mellow vibe, many would return to camp unexpectedly touched by their afternoon experience.

The Acoustic Set (W.Rogell)

The Acoustic Set (W.Rogell)

For the first time in my life, I didn’t stand up when the band hit the stage. Others did, but I decided to fully embrace the experience. The show started with a whisper, opening Sunday morning with a gentle rendition of “Water In the Sky.” As the band meticulously played through many of their mellower songs, it became abundantly clear that the band – and particularly Trey – had practiced unplugged. Not known for his acoustic playing, Trey sounded crisper than any other time in his career; a far cry from his sing-alongs on his solo tours. The band’s vocals, which sounded so strong all weekend long, was another key facet to this set’s success. An obvious reflection of their healthier lifestyle, Trey and Page, especially, sounded more dynamic – and controlled – than ever before.

Between the heartfelt playing and poignant vocals, the power of Phish’s songs emerged. There was no jamming, there were no antics or trickery, just the aural fabric of Phish music. The patience and soul that Phish showcased on this afternoon (and in The Exile Set) illustrated a musical maturity that many never imagined from Phish; an ability to access our deepest emotions not by blowing our minds, but by warming our hearts. Over the course of two hours, the band melted their audience with ballads – “Strange Design,” Mountains In the Mist,” “Let Me Lie,” and “Talk;” Phish favorites – “Bouncin’,” “Curtain (With), “Wilson,” and “McGrupp;” and a couple debuts – “Invisible” and “Sleep Again.”

The Acoustic Set (G. Lucas)

The Acoustic Set (G. Lucas)

But the most powerful moment of the set may have been the last. As the third song of their encore, the band played the post-hiatus ballad, “Secret Smile.” This ardent composition appeared only six times in Phish’s second chapter, and never more bittersweet than in Vegas ’04. Appearing late in the first of three shows that allowed everyone to see the band unraveling, Trey’s voice sounded more strained as ever, as his guitar seemed to cry in desperation through his dripping solo. A month later, Phish announced their retirement. So when Phish brought out “Secret Smile” for the first time since Vegas ’04, it carried a profound emotional weight. Translating differently than before, the song likened hymn of happiness and redemption. As the band extended its delicate ending, one could hear a pin drop on the grass field as the eloquent energy captivated everyone. Many of us became flooded with emotion – an appreciation of being back where we belonged. No funk licks, triumphant jams, or psychedelic experiments were necessary to deliver this message. As we sat there, immersed in the soul of Phish, we could feel it undeniably. And it was good.

Water in the Sky, Back on the Train, Brian and Robert, Invisible*,Strange Design, Mountains in the Mist The Curtain (With), Army of One, Sleep Again*, My Sweet One, Let Me Lie, Bouncing Around the Room, Train Song, Wilson, McGrupp and the Watchful Hosemasters

E: Driver, Talk, Secret Smile



Jams of the Day:  11.1 – The Acoustic Set

Secret Smile


Mountains In the Mist


The Curtain (With)




header-miami-2009Yesterday, with an announcement that amounted to a mere formality, Phish unveiled their four-night New Years Run at American Airline Arena in Miami, FL. Though the community has known this for months, and it was confirmed, in jest, in Festival 8’s Phishbill, it’s always fun to get the official word. This will be the band’s first New Years Run since Miami 2003. Anyone who was there in ’03 can tell you there is nary a better place to spend New Years than on the beach with the Phish. Sunshine by day and psychedelia by night – the situation can not be beat!

The ticket lottery is currently underway and ends this Sunday, November 15th at 11.59 pm. See you there!



11.12.95 O’Connell Center, Gainesville, FL < Torrent

11.12.95 O’Connell Center, Gainesville, FL < Megaupload

Fall Tour '95 T-Shirt

Fall Tour '95 T-Shirt

This is the next show after Atlanta’s Fox Theatre run that kicked off the second half of Fall ’95. The first of four consecutive Florida shows, Phish continued to fire on all cylinders during their 54-show romp, building historic momentum throughout November and December, peaking their style of play.

I: My Friend, My Friend, Llama, Bouncing Around the Room, Guelah Papyrus, Reba, I Didn’t Know, Taste That Surrounds, If I Could, Split Open and Melt, Hello My Baby

II: The Curtain > Tweezer > Keyboard Army, Sample in a Jar, Slave to the Traffic Light, Hold Your Head Up > Cracklin’ Rosie > Hold Your Head Up, Possum, Tweezer Reprise

E: Fire

Source: Unknown

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664 Responses to “The Power of Songs”

  1. Mr.Miner Says:

    @ Marshall – Now you’re talking! I’ll take as many open Mike’s Grooves as you can throw at me 🙂

  2. BTB Says:

    @GP420 – that photo dump was pretty cool. I like the Macho Man Randy savage and Hacksaw Jim Dogan WWF wrestlers.

  3. GuitarPicker420! Says:

    @btb – those guys had a wrestlemania showdown in Kid A late night on Halloween. I think I saw a video of it somewhere, on youtube I think. I’ll go look for it.

  4. GuitarPicker420! Says:

    Here you go, wrestlemania at Fest 8

  5. Marshall Says:

    Fishman will tease ‘Paug all over Cobo. It’s too easy not too.

  6. Marshall Says:

    Has the been a consensus on whether the floating thing at F8 was a “closed burble” or a “borealis”?

  7. Marshall Says:

    Also, I was on Fishman’s side the whole weekend so I couldn’t tell how the thing “floated” over the Page side crowd. Anyone know?

  8. gavinsdad Says:

    @btb – i was one of the speculators on the cobo attendance…def had a thought that the surrounding areas + college kidz would help fill it. one of us one here, can’t remember who, stated it kinda plainly tho…detroit is just straight up gnarly….and that and the nite of the week (miner called this too) may be the detractors. regardless…i would kill to be on that floor too but i’m philly>msg and happy with that.

  9. T. Leo Says:

    I don’t think there is any excuse for a city the size of Detroit to not sell out a venue as small as Cobo. It is really mindboggling why it is not sold out, I really thought it would be a harder ticket to come bye, especially being the first show of tour.

    On another note, LETS GO CAVS!!!!

  10. Henry Says:

    i’m just waiting for a show that opens with a mike’s and is one long segue fest until a weekapaug encore

  11. beepaphone Says:

    I’ve got 100’s for Cobo…yeah…prolly gonna jump to floor if security gets distracted, but who knows.

    Just looked at those pics…Visually, 8 blows any festival, ever, out of the water. Props to the costumes, the installations, and the always brilliant work of CK5

  12. Marshall Says:

    Just watched a youtube video of the JB Hood. That Hood is a standout for me of ’09 … a Hubble Deep Field trip.

  13. beepaphone Says:

    as far as fairweather locals, those people will buy tickets the day of…they don’t read about phish or really know about them that much…they liked the song Free 13 years ago and they’re saying “fuck it, lets go see a Phish concert”. Hopefully they get their minds blown. I’m sure Cobo will sell out, but not till an hour or two before the show. Detroit may be a hole, but it has a HUGE sprawled out suburban population around it.

  14. BrandonKayda Says:

    So nobody here thinks that Cobo will just be a warm-up show for opening night? I just cannot see it being a huge blow-out, especially for first night. But we will see…

  15. jdub Says:

    A quick response to gd420 from a post a few pages back. My phone died before I could clarify.

    I don’t believe in duality. Everything is completely interconnected on a molecular level. Further there is no singluar boundary between anything. Quantum physics has proven there is no singular element, giving an infinite nature to the universe. This is perhaps not easily discussed through computer so I’ll leave it that.

    Of course this all relates to Phish in some way:)

    I am so looking forward to the MSG run, I havn’t seen phish indoors since Nassau in 03, I have a feeling atleast one show on the run will have all the stars align for that perfect phish storm.

    Looking forward to ck5 inside

  16. beepaphone Says:

    BK, Cobo is the best show ever

  17. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    Marshall, we followed the Burble after it’s debut night one and again after the end of the festival and unfortunately the thing is tethered by wires to a wheeled control cart pushed around by a couple of people. I still love the thing (call me, Burble!) but a little of the magic died when I found out it wasn’t an sentient being meandering through the festival on its own…

  18. Marshall Says:

    Damn, now I wish I hadn’t asked. But, thanks.

  19. Leo Weaver Says:

    Sweet Virginia opener for Charlottesville…

  20. beepaphone Says:

    call me, Burble!


  21. sumodie Says:

    @bk: a ‘small’ non sell-out venue is exactly the kind of place that phish loves to melt faces in.

  22. jdub Says:

    We may be surprised at which shows get the heat. I am really curious to see and hear what fall tour brings, I think we are sensing something awesome, for lack oa better word, is going to happen. I know we will get a different phish than summer and there only getting better.

    Spring braught the rebirth, summer the awkard adolesence, festi 8 a coming of age, fall a mature presence…

  23. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    my friend was shouting his phone number and address to the Burble as we dazingly followed it about the venue. I don’t think I’ll ever forget that moment when it first changed colors during Hood and then when it went multicolored soon thereafter. As Miner put it, we had a great partner in hallucination for the festy!

  24. sumodie Says:

    would be surprised if weekapaug doesn’t complete the mike’s groove in cobo too.

  25. Marshall Says:

    Cobo ….. ‘Cause this is thriller, thriller night

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