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”

  1. BrandonKayda Says:

    This Stealing Time is DARK.

    Mike is laying it down….auds rule

  2. Mitch Says:

    Just got an email about the rhombus. The one in Houston is a double.

    Confirmed to be located at the Princeton Battlefield. From my rommmate who has been there multiple times, “Its in Princeton, back behind the battlefield over by the lacrosse fields…”

  3. c0wfunk Says:

    that stealing time jumped out at me as having a new feeling to it.. very nice and you can tell they’re happy to be on the road again playing their fresh stuff

  4. snowbank Says:

    jay – I am with you on the season pass. My thinking was that they should guarantee a summer festival and a winter festival. Then we can join a club that gets us in (with IDs, no tickets). They could nail down the dates six months in advance and then announce the location a few months ahead of time.

    I get the pheeling though that they are trying to discourage a big following. It feels like “don’t call us, we’ll call you” sort of deal. None of the tours have been friendly to follow. I am in NYC Sat/Sun with nothing to do (okay, it’s NYC, I mean nothing as awesome as a phish show) but I sure as hell am not going to drive to Charlottesville. RR -> SFO _> gorge was herculean to drive. I wonder do they A) not want the circus following them B)want people other than the circus to be able to get into a show c) just don’t care enough to make the tour follow friendly.

    I would think at this point they could just buy a place and plan on playing there for a week quarterly. Then we could all go. Maybe that just isn’t fun enough.

  5. Lycanthropist Says:

    as far as jamming goes for Phish 3.0

    i dont think its a matter of they can’t jam.. but i think they are really enjoying their rock and roll skin right now. The psychedelia has to be somewhat related to the drug use and various forms of “trying to prove themselves”.

    Now they have nothing to prove and are just enjoying playing music with each other. Straight ahead rock and roll has allude them more often than not in their previous incarnations and to be hitting it so hard and with such confidence— I imagine it feels good for them.

    As a musician (im sure the other musicians on this board will agree) I know that while at anytime I can play psychedellic, if we are feeling rock and roll thats what we are gonna do.

    just my two cents.

  6. c0wfunk Says:

    lyc as usual you nailed it very well put..

    They are just getting to play these songs again for the first time — many of which they probably didn’t even hear for years and years. Musicians don’t listen to their own music the way their fans do. I took a break for quite a while too and am loving the process of getting to know all these tunes again, so I can only imagine how it must be for them who are so much more intimate with them. As they play more and more, as has been shown, certain things will change, some songs will fall away, some will be stretched, same as it ever was.

    We sometimes get a skewed version of the trends of past tours when we listen to only our favorite shows with the best jams all the time – fact is, those great big glorious jams that we all love so much were more the exception than the rule on all but a very few tours.

  7. jay Says:

    haven’t figured out how the season pass would work but if certain shows every year (like Hampton in the spring, DC and Alpine in the Summer, MSG, Philly in the Fall) would guarantee seats/admittance then that might be doable.

  8. butter Says:

    Re: talkers
    one of my best friends is a talker. he is sensitive about it when you bring it up. he is far from a lightweight. the only thing that will shut him up is a boat load of L, and that is just for a few hours. lord have mercy when he works thru the trip.

    during the acoustic set at 8 my wife and i walked away to hear the show. he got super sensitive and asked why we walked away. my wife responed “CUZ YOUR LOUD”. he said “fine, sorry” and stormed off. we kissed and made up later.

    anyway i’ve found when i shut my eyes he cools it.

  9. albert walker Says:

    hate the can’t jam sober feelings

    drugs were destroying this band.
    being a junkie does not make you play better psych rock

    you nailed it lycan and cow

    they are getting to know these songs again from the ground structure up
    the jams will come, but enjoy the process

  10. snowbank Says:

    I think you essentially pay a premium to be able to buy the best tickets. Like DMB does with their club… warehouse is the name I think. As a member, you get first shot at tickets to all their shows but you have to pay an annual fee… like $35. If they even still do it. My buddy could reliably get floor tickets to the gorge through his membership.

    Do other people feel like the shows are more spread out? or has is always been this way and I never looked that seriously into seeing every show on a tour?

  11. c0wfunk Says:

    ..regarding rock and roll.. sometimes you find a simple blues progression captures the moment just right. And really most of the best “type 2” stuff is no more than that, or a couple chord vamp or some other rock thing. And often those things become songs that years later people are sick of hearing. So you have a jam that is new and exciting, you write a song out of it, and then everyone is like .. that thing again?

    There are only so many combinations of 12 notes you can put together, and hundreds of years of music history really were distilled best in the blues progression and the circle of fifths world- which is confirmed to be a natural sequence of harmonic progression – so, really, the universe breathes the blues and fighting that is pointless. So eventually you just play the friggin blues and get over all the fighting.

  12. Mr.Miner Says:

    Agreed, can’t jam sober theories are totally absurd…

  13. BrandonKayda Says:

    I wasn’t trying to say that the drugs made them play better, nor did I ever say that they could not jam sober; they clearly proved that at the Gorge. I just thought that after the Gorge shows they would be constantly moving upwards with jams such as that Sally every couple of shows. But the truth is that things simply don’t work that way. Cow and Lycan did make great points in that the jams will come in time, I guess I just need to be patient 🙂 Honestly though, those Gorge shows completely spoiled me.

    It has definitely been fun watching this band evolve from Hampton on and they are still changing and evolving show after show. I can’t wait to see where they go next.

    A new perspective on things definitely helps me think more positive….what a thought…

  14. butter Says:

    Trey plays better sober
    Jerry could play great on drugs

  15. albert walker Says:

    back in the day parker did dope
    so every young jazz musician thought that’s how he got all the chops
    to play like Bird you had to do junk

    they all found out the hard way
    he just had all the chops
    and an ability to play really stoned that they all did not

  16. butter Says:

    i will add that the drugs def took control of Jerry’s life and ended up being a large factor in his early death……not to glorify Garcia’s abuse

  17. jay Says:

    yea, case closed. These guys can jam in their sleep. Practice makes good jamming. Not drugs. It was the same with the Dead back in the day.

  18. c0wfunk Says:

    hm jerry could play great on drugs, but it wasn’t the songs he was great at

    the space sections of his most whacked out moments are On Point, in 95 there are some amazing space sessions. But then when he needs to stay on the beat, find a chord, sing in tune, those things are out the window. I listened to the 10/31/83 the other day that someone posted here and man, that help>slip is all over the place, and st stephen, while probably a nice treat at the time, is a serious mess, but man do they kill the franklins, estimated, eyes, drums, and space part of the show – all tunes that require much less precision from Jerry and much more flowing with the vibe..

  19. c0wfunk Says:

    one things drugs in fact may though, is make you Want to jam more, not considering the quality of that jams that occur

  20. c0wfunk Says:

    (in fact may do though)

  21. albert walker Says:

    I got 6 years sober here
    This talk starting to make me sweat a little bit

  22. butter Says:

    by 95 the damage was done with Garcia

  23. butter Says:

    sober from alcohol AW, i know you puff, but nothin else?

  24. albert walker Says:

    rocks and dope man

    on the MMP since 2004
    (marijuana maintennance program)

  25. albert walker Says:

    herbs and psychs are all I dig these days
    back to the OG sacraments

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