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. flarrdogg Says:

    Mr C. What was that website with the funny tshirts that you posted on here a couple days ago? I was trying to remember, but I got nothing. Thanks.

    They’re saving the fire for the nati’ Yee Haw!

  2. butter Says:

    thats cool snowbank, i wanted to talk about it more too.

    I’m so stoked for Trey that he got himself right. The music really reflects it. The vocals are better than ever. The song writing has depth and draws upon real life experiences. I’ll take these concise jams all day over the 4 song sets we were getting in 2.0 (oxyjams)

    not to take anything away from 2.0 just my preference

    The vibe is so much more KILLER now

  3. albert walker Says:

    gonna spin Cobo now
    see how the boys are soundin

  4. snowbank Says:

    @AW – I have been trying to think of what to say without making too many assumptions about where you are at… like “glad you are better now”. Maybe you aren’t. Hopefully, “glad you are alive and kicking it with us”, sends the appropriate sentiment.

  5. Mr. Completely Says:

    think that I have a screwed up definition of Ego from reading too much Taosim and not enough Freud/Jung. To me the ego is different from being egotistical.

    Defining terms is good – but IMO it actually applies somewhat to both. Ego in the buddhist sense means self-identity in psych speak. In Freudian terms it is a somewhat narrower concept. IMO cocaine magnifies both the walls of self-identity in general and the Freudian ego in particular (you feel like a stone badass when you’re all gacked up, the classic Rock Star vibe).

    However it must be said that my cocaine phase, while extremely intense, was really only a couple years long and I was completely over it a long time ago. I haven’t touched it in…about 18 years? Due to a lucky genetic break or whatever I found giving it up to be rather easy after a friend of mine died in the grip of an extended freebase frenzy.

    So my thoughts on cocaine are rather academic at this point.

  6. beepaphone Says:

    Here’s a clip of CK5’s dirty work from last night


  7. flarrdogg Says:

    Fact: I’m a better fan sober than I ever was when I was strung out .Nice getting to be fully present- no barriers. Thought I needed substances and other external stuff to get me there. Wrong. So much better this way.

    It has to be same for the band. Has to be.

  8. halcyon Says:

    I have had my share of battles, and it is tough to straighten out. It took me 3-4 years to start feeling not so blurry. I wasn’t even that deep into stuff, but looking back now, it had a hold on me for a while. Glad I was able to make it out alive.

  9. joe Says:

    re: jams & drugs. I don’t know how the bands own use of drugs effects the length and tone of jams and don’t really care much to speculate on someone’s sobriety based on the brevety of a mike’s song or whatever. I do think, however, that in the past the band would deliberately mess with the heads of fans who were on drugs. This is probably a reason that many of us kept going to shows. I don’t think they do that as much anymore for whatever reason. With that in mind, I think it’s pretty clear this far into 2009 that the shorter-tighter songs and way-more-fun-having band is what you are going to get when going to a show. If you are expecting a 30 minute exploration of (insert favorite jam song here), then you are going to be disappointed.

  10. Mr. Completely Says:

    mad respect to everyone who gets clean

    my dad is 12 stepper and I have seen how hard it is up close

    mad, mad respect and love to everyone in recovery

    “And we’re glad glad glad that you’re alive
    And we’re glad glad glad that you’ll arrive…”

    I just got a lucky genetic break somehow, never got addicted, was basing 8 balls all the time, no reason it shouldn’t have been me

  11. flarrdogg Says:

    AW & Mr C.- Just reading back- Trane is the best ever and Love Supreme is one the greatest albums (in any genre) ever recorded. Preach it fellas!

  12. BrandonKayda Says:

    AW – Check out the Diisease and 46 Days…all around really textural, full-band jamming

  13. Mr. Completely Says:

    Giant Steps animation, pardon if you’ve seen it, worth the time if not


  14. snowbank Says:

    it seems like there is a self confidence boost with blow but that is somehow different from ego?

    So if the ego is self identification, then when a person performs, if they have a strong ego they would think “It is all about me. This band is awesome because I am a great performer. If we jam and I mess up then it will all be on me. I want to stick to composed pieces so I don’t look bad.”

    Certain drugs might then boost the ego “I can rip this no matter what!” But is that really an ego boost, so much as a confidence boost? The assumption of the ego is already there – I am the one making the jam happen.

    Still just exploring…

  15. Chuck Says:

    Well said Completely….love that tune…

  16. Mr.Miner Says:

    sup all…in cinci

  17. butter Says:

    hey Miner, was there extra’s for free everywhere last night?

  18. beepaphone Says:

    Can’t wait to get there tomorrow!

  19. snowbank Says:

    Mr C – cheers to that.

    Miner – Glad you made it. Is Mr Trump keeping the jet fully stocked? 😉 I know the recession has been tough for people…

  20. albert walker Says:

    be there soon Miner
    feeling real stoked on the weekend in Cinci
    have not been since 99

  21. c0wfunk Says:

    started the joy dvd – anyone who hates on tte should watch this and see how much these guys enjoy playing the tune. I really have grown to love the song, it almost overwhelms me when the peak comes along. Most of the way through the band has their eyes firmly shut as if they don’t want to know and don’t care how it’s being received…

  22. c0wfunk Says:

    woah – oprah is ending her show

  23. gus Says:

    finally listening to the disease last night for the first time since the crappy stream…I have to say, this is golden.

  24. Mr. Completely Says:

    it seems like there is a self confidence boost with blow but that is somehow different from ego?

    It comes down to defining terms, the meaning of “ego” in different theoretical systems. But my memory of blow personally is that it magnifies both the “ego” in the narrower Freudian sense and the “Ego” in the larger buddhist sense.

    Which is to say I think it magnifies the ego walls of identity, the separation of self and other, sort of the opposite of a heavy ego-loss psychedelic trip, AND it also triggers a lower brainstem reaction that creates a swaggering freudian ego inflation. Sort of a primate dominance/hierarchy reflex thing.

    Again though, basically I just find cocaine boring and haven’t done it in a long time so I could well just be talking out of my ass here.

  25. albert walker Says:


    I’m one of the most boring cats you’d ever meet these days
    work 12 hours a day, puff tons of herb, walk my dog, and hack away at my Strat

    those days are long gone my friend

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