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. neemor Says:

    I’ve never heard Miner call a song!
    That was exciting.
    Glad you got there safely, Miner.

  2. neemor Says:

    “@cowfunk – funny about TTE, i would watch that dvd if i wasn’t still being c**k teased with the notion of it showing up at my door step…”


  3. Robear Says:

    The band set a really high bar, as far as open jamming at the Gorge, and to a degree, Red Rocks. As far as them not hitting those points in subsequent shows, I can only think of one big difference: No shows for Mr. C since then. Apparently, that needs to change 🙂

    The bt.etree source I downloaded is pretty good. It does lack mid-range, as pointed out by GP.

  4. neemor Says:

    12.30.93 CCCC
    Paul and Silas.
    I’m freaking out in my living room!
    It’s a HOEDOWN!

    butter: you are killing me!

  5. Mr.Miner Says:

    get your ass to some shows Mr C! The band needs you!

  6. Mitch Says:

    just got this off a friend: http://rvamag.com/articles/full/5872/most-incredible-beard-ever WOW!

  7. neemor Says:

    Paul and Silas,
    what an awesome set….

  8. Mitch Says:

    still got $5 on mr. c coming to nyc. Gonna make me go $10?

  9. neemor Says:

    I’d offer to pick him up at the airport.

  10. albert walker Says:

    Trey’s tone on this Disease is sick

  11. Robear Says:

    Miner, glad to see you smiling! It’s on, back in your element.

    I was saying that ‘Torn and Frayed’ had a really Phishy sound on re-listen, like it could have been on the ‘Joy’ album. Butter pointed out that Trey worked the ‘Number Line’ theme @ Indio.

  12. BingosBrother Says:

    @joe : “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.”
    Was thinking this yesterday and totally agree. Here’s hopin they can get back to that somewhat.

  13. llamalee Says:

    got floor seats, 10th row tommorrow. can’t wait, haven’t listened to detroit saving it for the ride

  14. voopa Says:


    Just wait ’til Set II! Another instance of the Weekapaug Vocal Jam, among other highlights…the jam out of Mike’s is one of my favorite Phish moments, they all get really quiet, then HUUUUGE, with Trey doing that neat thing he used to do where he’d establish a theme down low, then start soloing way up high at the same time. Love it!

    Oh and, this is one of those rare shows where I prefer the aud over the sbd or mtx.

  15. albert walker Says:

    Trey sounds very conident on this Disease

  16. gus Says:

    I really like the mode, or scale, or whatever (I dont know that much music theory – taking a class on it later this year!), it sounds almost like middle eastern in some way, I don’t know, thats my opinion on it.

  17. joe Says:

    bingos. I wish I had some examples to back up my statement. More of a general feeling, I guess.

  18. albert walker Says:

    The last 5 minutes of this Disease is really nice
    they’ve come so far since Hampton

  19. BingosBrother Says:

    It’s sttill early Joe. We’re all kind of just feeling each other out at the moment. It’s like the first few dates after getting back together after a huge breakup. It’s all poetry and flowers right now. Hopefully we’ll progress to the kind natured f’ing with each other.

  20. neemor Says:

    You missed the fact that I was having a ‘No Spoilers’ session right now in my living room.

    Just kidding.
    Sort of.

  21. neemor Says:

    “It’s all poetry and flowers right now.”
    That’s a funny way to think about it!
    Gin…those opening chords are so soothing and familiar!

  22. voopa Says:

    Sorry neem…had some hash earlier.

  23. neemor Says:

    I’m baked myself.
    I’m having such a good time at my computer right now!

  24. neemor Says:

    I haven’t heard the acapella ‘FreeBird’ in ages…
    what a walk down memory lane.
    I guess that’s been replaced by ‘Grind’.

  25. neemor Says:

    Wow, Billy….coming on a little bit strong there, aren’t ya?

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