A Phish Show at Cobo

3.6.09 (C.Taylor Crothers)

3.6.09 (C.Taylor Crothers)

In a relatively safe opening night, Phish kicked off their Fall ’09 tour with noteably few musical risks, a choppy setlist, and a couple of treats. With a half-empty floor and a laid-back, old-school vibe, Cobo Arena provided an intimate experience, but when the dust settles, this show will be remembered for its sublime second-set “Down With Disease > Free” and a fierce “Mike’s Groove” to end the evening. But in between – and there was a lot of in between – Phish filled the show with straight-forward pieces that amounted standard fare, and far less grit than suggested by Detroit’s urban landscape.

The first, and only, time Phish broke form from one of their jams, they did it in a big way during “Down With Disease.” Following a succinct “Runaway Jim” to open the second set, Phish launched from a blistering run through the composed “Disease” jam into an exploratory segment of music that reached deep into Phish sorcery. Crafting a stunning piece of patient and melodic improv, the band dove into collective communication that hypnotized the audience. Truly allowing the jam to fully develop in a way they haven’t often done lately, the music came to a natural conclusion before Trey began to tease the oncoming “Free.”


Arena Phish (G.Abriel)

The magnitude of indoor Phish came crashing down for the first time with this bombastic “Free.” Featuring raunchier guitar work than most modern versions, Trey seemed to get an extra kick from Cobo’s indoor environs. An experiential highlight of the set, the entire venue seemed to finally catch the same groove, and the audience exploded with that collective energy you just don’t get outside. A perfect landing point for the awesome improv that preceded, the slow-motion groove evolved into a monstrous slate for Trey to rip off lick after lick.

The Fox (B.Kisida)

The Fox (B.Kisida)

A similar phenomenon came in the late set “Mike’s Groove,” when the entire band sat into a slower pattern than we’ve come to accustomed to this summer. The indoor sound increased the dirtiness of the band’s intent, as they truly connected with the essence of the “Mike’s” jam. The entire band offered far more aggressive textures as they built, arguably, the most patient and dirtiest 3.0 version. Just hearing the opening licks of “Mike’s” in an indoor arena injected a colossal shot of intensity to a show that desperately needed it after the slower segment of “Waste,” “Taste,” “Bug,” “Velvet Sea.” A classic late set “Groove” segued into a “Hydrogen” interlude before tearing into an shredding “Weekapaug;” and indoor treat, no doubt.

A quick “Cavern,” and a crunchy “Zero” encore put an exclamation point on a well-played show that was a building block for bigger things to come. That “Disease” jam really seemed like a foreshadowing of a new direction, a lead-less, collaborative jamming that saw the band members check their ego at the door for something far greater. Although the show was certainly a warm up for things to come over the next couple of weeks, their were a few moments that proved indelible.

1st Set Notes:

In a well-played but underwhelming frame, Phish featured a tighter than usual “Foam,” and an out of character, slowly funked out “46 Days.” Though it came a bit out of context and after a long set of standards, this version of “46 Days” got into some engaging arena molasses. Thick as all get out, this standout piece moved from deep groove into an ambient segment that brought a clear shining moment to the set. A “Bowie” carried this momentum to the sets close, setting up a seemingly huge second set that never truly came to fruition.

I: AC/DC Bag, Foam, Stealing Time From The Faulty Plan, Bouncing Around The Room, Sample In A Jar, Kill Devil Falls, It’s Ice, Horn. Mountains In The Mist, Poor Heart, 46 Days, David Bowie

II: Runaway Jim, Down With Disease > Free, Waste, Taste, Bug, Wading In A Velvet Sea, Mike’s Song > I Am Hydrogen > Weekapaug Groove, Cavern

E: Character Zero

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676 Responses to “A Phish Show at Cobo”

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  1. Jam on Dude Says:

    NIce write up Miner, the real treats are on the way.

  2. Baxter Says:

    Awesome review, sound like a good time. Can’t wait to listen to No spoilers!

  3. Stir it with a Ladle Says:

    @ miner,

    If you are still looking to rid yourself of those 100’s for the 31st please shoot me an email, I will take those off your hands!

  4. Mr.Miner Says:

    i kind of freaked on having mad tix and then talked to many friends in need, so lemme see for a sec – unless you got floors.

  5. bhizzle Says:

    4 more days till ‘Cuse….ants in my pants…damn!

    who called that AC DC for last night?

  6. Stir it with a Ladle Says:

    Don’t have floors, wish I did to trade you, keep me in mind if you do have any extra 100’s for the 31st.

  7. ma Says:

    no mention of the first electric mountains…hmm?

  8. Mr.Miner Says:

    ^ huh?

  9. Robear Says:

    “It was a rock-n-roll extravaganza. Really thought of you during mikes groove sound was intense.”

    ^ That’s the email msg. I got after the show from a dear old phriend in attendance.

    Miner called it, “Detroit Rock City”!

    Has anyone tried to use ‘Transmission’ for ‘no spoilers’ on a MAC?

  10. GuitarPicker420! Says:

    There’s a flac from a mk4 source up on etree. Should have it shortly.

  11. ma Says:

    was mountains played prior to festi8? 3.0 that is

  12. GuitarPicker420! Says:

    @ma – not 3.0, but it ruined lots and lots of second sets in 1999.

  13. Billy Breathes Says:


    Come on man…it HAD to have been better than that.

    Bag-Foam opener? Can’t get any more old school than that!

    It’s Ice? A rarity and they pulled it out in the first set?!

    First electric Mountains in the Mist?!

    A Funk – Filled 46 days t’boot!

    The second set was packed with goodies too, no mention of the Taste or Bug?!

    Anyways…love what you do….thank you.

  14. Robear Says:

    Shine bright in the sea of anonymity, with a Phishthoughts benefit Tee!

    Fast shipping = plenty of time for late fall tour (long sleeve) and Miami (short sleeve)

    Click my name 4 the goods!

  15. albert walker Says:

    A lot of slow cuts at this one
    I was hoping the hot acoustic mountains would not lead to Trey wanting to play it electric again

    Free and Mike’s seemed a little practiced at Indio. Maybe they are going to get a little more love here on the fall tour.
    The DWD assault continues.
    Was hoping the Runaway would get a little crazy when it opened the 2nd set. Hopefully soon.

  16. ma Says:

    ouch…what a beautiful ballad…

  17. SillyWilly Says:

    i would have loved to have been there for the ice.

  18. punkmug Says:

    Your review nailed it Miner. It resembles the thoughts I had on the show as well.

    It was great meeting some of you people there last night. Bingo, BTB, Worthless Swampy… it was a blast meeting you all last night.

    See you all in Cincy.

    Highpoint for me was that 46 Days. Wow that shit was tearing me a new one.

  19. BTB Says:

    I pretty much confer with Miner on the review. Standard fare, with a lot of mellow tunes to open it up the Fall Tour. I give them credit for tackling some heavy composition pieces (Foam, Ice)

    Downtown Detroit was booked for a double bill between Phish and the Red Wings on Wednesday night. The only lot scene was 2 blocks away and featured some ‘midwestern’ conversation. Thanks to Punk, Worthless, Bingo and the Ocelot. Good times!

    Straight forward arena rock it was. Highlights for me included the 46 Days and DWD. And yes, Faulty Time is here to stay as some classic Trey indoor wizardry (reminiscent of Saw it Again and Carini, IMO). Mike created a very fast-paced dance groove deep into the DWD and 46 Days featured some of the best “Liquid Chunk” (or whatever!) slow funk I’ve heard so far in 3.0 as it really ‘tied the room together’.

    Got to sit next to a Father/Son combo in Section A2 (for the 1st couple songs before headed to greener dance pastures). They’ve seen the boys play a couple times and it was very neat conversation that took place about live music and what to expect from a band that takes risks. The kid (17 yr old) was rocking during the AC/DC Bag. Dad was digging the composition stuff. Very cool experience.

    So, plenty left on the table for Cinci and with it should be a much larger lot scene and a ‘party time’ atmosphere. I’d say about 7,000 people were at the Cobo. Seemed like a lot of locals and not too many far traveled heads. Cinci should be a different story. Here we go!

  20. Robear Says:

    Hoodstream last night, sounded similar to the lawn at Merriweather Post Pavilion last summer.

    From what I could hear, it sounded like Trey really nailed the solo in ‘Taste’.

    Sirius and XM have been near and around bankruptcy. Maybe they shouldn’t ignore emails from smart cats like Mr. C that have good suggestions. I know they would have gotten a subscription out of me, or at least a one month free trial sign-up 🙂

  21. Little Buddy Says:

    I actually like the electric mountains if placed well. My favorite was the Mikes>Mountains>Groove from Hampton in Jan. ’03. I think it fit really well there. Definitely one of my favorite of the somewhat newer school Phish ballads.

    Cinci is gonna be an old school throw down, I think.

  22. fat bastard Says:

    billy- i think miner is looking for a breakout of some kind. i know i am. a change of style, maybe longer, riskier jams, new covers or new partytime material. last night didnt bring any of that, although it still could’ve raged.

    but taste,waste aint on my 2nd set wishlist.

  23. GuitarPicker420! Says:

    The problem with Mountains isn’t that its a ballad, its that it is a 10 minute plus long ballad, without the denouement that a massive ballad can contain. Phish’s best slow material is in the 5 minute range, otherwise this cat gets restless. Btw, I love Waste.

  24. Robear Says:

    I like how the set list included 1.0, 2.0 and 3.0

    What a trip it must be for Trey to sit down and write them, with such a huge catalog to draw from. Then balancing his desire to play songs with the amount of time they’ve had to rehearse each one. I wonder who has his ear, as far as influencing IT.

  25. msbjivein Says:

    Awesome write up Miner! Now I’m really pumped for Cincy!!

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