Mid-Tour Momentum

11.21.09 (W.Rogell)

11.21.09 (W.Rogell)

Building off of an extensive Summer and Indio, and stepping indoors at just the right time, Phish is clearly getting their groove back. Their playing has oozed confidence and comfort, while characterized by precision and fire. When the band chooses to jam, they are doing it with a determined and patient creativity, and as we move on to the second two-thirds of tour, I’d imagine we’d begin to hear more open jamming. It would be nice to see the band focus on grooves and psychedelia a bit more than shredding rock and roll, but beggars can’t be choosers. Phish are definitely playing what they feel and playing it quite well. The most profound change in their dynamic since this fall tour started has been Mr. Trey Anastasio. While he may have been the slowest member of the band to regain his unbridled confidence, he has recently transformed into an absolute monster. Allowing his inhibitions to fall by the wayside, he has been shredding with an abandon unseen in years. Using meticulous lyrical phrasing amounting to guitar narratives, his sense of thematic jamming has returned in force, and it has effected the entire band.

11.20.09 (W.Rogell)

11.20.09 (W.Rogell)

The most compelling second-set improv thus far has stemmed from Detroit’s “Disease,” and Cincy’s “Rock n Roll” and Syracuse’s “Drowned”- the three vehicles they featured the most this summer. It seems like time to switch it up a bit from the rock-only set openers; time to drop in some darker and slower type-II springboards to open set two. How about opening up “A Song I Heard the Ocean Sing” or dropping another “Sand?” In the end, it doesn’t matter what songs they play, as long as they continue to evolve into more frequent psychedelia…Three of the central second set jams over the last two shows – “Rock and Roll,” “Drowned” and “Piper” have held a great similarity to each other – percussive grooves turned ambient space…The two dirtiest pieces of music thus far have ironically come in first sets – Detroit’s filthy, dripping “46 Days,” and Cincy’s evil “Split.” Now let’s see some of that type of improv stretched out under the spotlight of set two! As we turn the corner towards Philadelphia and Albany, two cities that have historically played host to legendary Phish, the band looks to build on the momentum from their opening leg as everyone moves towards Thanksgiving. And this year, we have a lot to be thankful for.

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833 Responses to “Mid-Tour Momentum”

  1. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    the playing thus far during Fall Tour has been stellar. Cobo was a great example of a well played show which may go unnoticed due to there not being any bust outs (per se) and then the weekend brought the fire for real. I’m optimistically jealous of those who get to be in Philly for the next two as that has always been one of my favorite cities for phishing trips.

  2. cal Says:

    Don’t forget how everybody hated the cowfunk ten years ago…ya don’t know what ya got…

    I have loved TTE since I first heard it, but there were some major clunker versions of it over the summer and only a couple good ones. Even liking the song, I think it demands a killer jam at the end to justify its placement in a live set. And the Cinci version might be the first one that rrreeeally got there. I think that one turned on a few haters (those who weren’t in the bathroom or having a ciggy for the whole song).

  3. c0wfunk Says:

    yeah philly is going to be special

  4. HarryHood Says:

    KWL & Sumodie,

    I just wanted to say that it was nice to meet up with you guys at the Tusk on Sunday and put faces to the names. Sorry that I couldn’t hang longer. If my bro hadn’t wanted to grab some food, I would have certainly chilled for a bit.

  5. c0wfunk Says:

    I really really enjoyed it at merriweather – I had a good receptive group dancing around me and we got a little vibe flowing with the band. The feeling coming off the stage was phenomenal.. layin it wide open with that one, it’s pretty brave and that daring to do whatever they want whenever is the greatest thing about the band..

  6. HarryHood Says:

    We were long overdue for another round of TTE chatter. I personally love the song on the album. I hate it live. It’s a great composition and nobody could really argue that point. I does however KILL the vibe of a show. Just plain destroys it like no other. It’s like the off switch for the funky disco robots that live inside us all.

  7. c0wfunk Says:

    the reaction is weird. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen such a harsh reaction from phish kids honestly. I don’t get the “not danceable” thing because so much of what these guys do is not danceable in the most awkward way. Once you get the twists and turns it is very flowing.

    But at merriweather, my only live tte, I definitely felt this feeling from the crowd that was almost an unwillingness to get it. Like a defiance or something. Where I was standing, I was swimming in the hose, but in a sphere all around just this vacuum. It was Very strange. I am really hoping to hear it on 12/29 when I will be 3rd row so i can connect directly without all that interference.

  8. BTB Says:

    “funky disco robots” you have one too? Also, we’re on for Albany bro. My buddy is still up in the air so I swapped the tickets to another tag-a-long college chick. I won’t need an extra – my buddy is on his own now as he’s officially too last second.

    I’m rolling 3 ladies deep to Albany on Friday, we’re going to set up shop and then head downtown closer to your hotel and the bars etc. I’ll send you an email.


    It is a buzz kill, but I know why they play it. IMO, the acoustic version and orchestral versions are very nicely done.

  9. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    I’ve now caught three TTEs and along with it being played better each time I have really grown to appreciate the composition. For me, the varied sections all lead to the awesome build at the end and that alone may be worth it. Do I want to hear it every night? No, but I don’t dread it or lament it if it comes.

  10. ma Says:

    the expression “it’s all good” exists for a reason…

    it’s really amazing to read how people crack on joy or tte or anything else for that matter…i never understood this way of thinking…..do they not realize it’s the same band, the same 4 guys up there performing?

    having preferences are great, but loving it all speaks volumes.

    ^ for the joy haters, just watch the DVD… the song and the message doesn’t get any better than that.

  11. c0wfunk Says:

    I guess caspian haters can be just as frustrated and passionate in their righteous outrage. I’ve seen people storm out in a huff at the first notes of caspian .. it’s like dude, chill, it’s music!

    it’s all good indeed

  12. SillyWilly Says:

    Saying good morning to everyone….

    there were some great thoughts laid down last night if anyone wants to go back a read them.

    everyone should really read the story by henry on page 25, i think, from last night. its a good mid-tour reminder of why this is so special. then mr. c, neemor, lycan, and some others shared some really good advice to some of us younger fans.

    special evening. im still thinking about it….

  13. cal Says:

    I do sometimes suspect that my being a huge Yes fan just makes “TTE” that much cooler for me. Phish has so many different vibes that it’s hard for me to see how it’s automatically a vibe-killer. First sets are rarely fully-formed vibe fests. In Cinci, I thought that melodic opening was a great follow-up to “FEFY”; maybe not so natural after “Ocelot” at F8. At Alpine, I thought it was perfect to follow up the “TMWSIY” suite. I will say that Cinci was the first time I thought it worked anywhere other than as a first set closer, but with that crazy jam, it COULD’VE ended the set. But we were all exceedingly grateful to have a “Jibboo” and “Fluffhead” following it!

  14. ma Says:

    it seems so obvious to some.

    go to shows with no expectations, enjoy it all, close your eyes and let the music move you.

    EVERY tune has something to offer…. how quickly we forget.

  15. c0wfunk Says:

    willy thanks for a tip, nice stuff there. I love the little poem at the bottom of page 24 attributed to ‘Count Cagliostro’

    all this is just dancing about architecture anyway

  16. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    please don’t take this the wrong way but I don’t buy into the “it’s all good” thing.

    That’s a great attitude to have but it also allows one to fall into the “ear pissing is good” realm if you are not careful.

    I believe it is okay to be critical when it is warranted and the people on this board clearly have a good understanding of when it is warranted. There are definite “hot button” songs that phans like to bitch about and I typically don’t get it, but that doesn’t mean we should blindly accept whatever is thrown at us.

    I used to be one of the biggest Phish-has-never-and-never-will-play-a-bad-show guys but as my understanding of music has expanded and I have become better at hearing what is going on I know that they have off nights just like everyone else.

    I am most definitely not a “hater” as I like to take each show as it comes and find the beauty each performance holds. But I also don’t appreciate the condescendingly scolding tone that people sometimes take when one is being rightfully critical of a song and/or performance.

    We each have our own set of experiences that have led us to where we are and the music affects each of us in different ways (although the differences are usually smaller than the similarities). It is okay for us to have differing opinions. Here is a place of elegance. Here we shower ourselves with lightness.

  17. TTC Says:

    Place me in the “Time Turns Craptastic” camp. It’s not the complex composition–I actually enjoy the composition. The issue is the lyrics sound so JV for a mature phish. It sounds forced and pseudo-mystical.

    Having said that at Cincy when I heard it in the first set, my thought was I really need to break a seal anyway. When I came back towards the end, I caught a glimmer of magic. The finale was actually really solid. I still would prefer 15 minutes of something else, but it’s not as bad as I initially thought.

    I think even if phish read this and thought we all hated TTE they would play it IF they believed in the song. We all tend to come around to see what they see even if we arrive at different points in time.

    I do indeed remember, cowfunk, on trey’s solo tour his bass player would just camp out on basslines. When phish started playing those songs from trey ppl wanted to hear the old stuff too. Now everyone is like drop the Sand. Funny in retrospect.

  18. punkmug Says:

    Did anyone notice the green laser pointer early in the first set at Cincy 2? Well, that shit pulled me out of my euphoria and when I noticed the jackass was only 10 rows below me. I said to myself, that shits gonna stop. Me and one other dude got to him at the exact same time and chewed his ass out. Little punk got the one two punch from two pissed off heads. No more green laser pointer from that dude. He never knew what hit em.

  19. jdub Says:

    Good morning all, great chatter going on recently here. Everyone is more or less positive which is obviously a good thing. It keeps occurring to me how lucky I am to get to witness peak Phish. I had missed out on the 97-98 era so I didn’t think I’d get to experience this vibe that the music and scene is creating right at this very moment.

    Ma, cowfunk … I’m with you brother, personally I don’t get into over analysis of the music, mostly because I don’t know it as well as the guys on this board do. I do know that every time I see the band my MO is to release all thoughts and surrender to the flow. I get blown away every time and honestly there is never a moment when I’m like man this sucks… They play what they feel like and feed off the energy they receive from us. I wonder how the band would play TTE if the place erupted when they bust into it.

    my 2 cents.. I really have enjoyed reading everybody elses

  20. ma Says:

    We each have our own set of experiences that have led us to where we are and the music affects each of us in different ways

    ^ enough said….have a wonderful day!

  21. c0wfunk Says:

    I hear ya type III – both sides of that coin can get condescendingly scolding and it’s something that needs to be watched. Learning to enjoy the mistakes and appreciating the human flaws that come along as a quirk of musicianship is something that helped me early on get over my over critical feelings. When it crosses over into trying to control the band’s directions is where I tend to take exception – as artists painting a long term picture their creations will go through many variations, and those variations as a part of a whole are notable. So to me it’s not so much about criticism as it is analysis. Art for art’s sake being created by masters, to me, automatically deserves careful consideration. Like jerry dead responded to an unruly NY crowd in the early 70s yelling “play some music” … “everything we do is music man” .. and that’s just it to me. When you are living art, it’s not about good or bad, it’s about the creation. Looking back is all well and good, but don’t let that tarnish appreciation of the everlasting now.

  22. c0wfunk Says:

    uhh I missed a stray “dead” in the editing there, just pass by it please.

  23. SillyWilly Says:

    Something, I’ve been thinking about in regards to TTE. It seems as if the song is Trey’s expression of autumn. He refrences the leaves falling and the browns and greens. The twists and turns the song takes are kind of like an unpredictable fall breeze.

    Combine this with the way Phish 3.0 is kind of the autumn of the band. (they sound like an indian summer right now) TTE encompasses so much of where the band is at right now. Time certainly seems to have turned elastic with how much energy surrounds the scene right now. Finally, this sort of composition is reflective of some of the “cerebral” type music the members of the band were working on for the last 5 years. I think the song is a good outlet for their maturity.

  24. randomreader Says:

    in case anyone’s keeping score, Cincy’s SOAM is not a happy way to start the day. think i might have to crawl back under the covers and hide for a while. there are demons after me and they mean business

  25. Ocelot42 Says:

    They play what they feel like and feed off the energy they receive from us. I wonder how the band would play TTE if the place erupted when they bust into it.

    An excellent point. I think the new car smell has to wear off it a little first before that ever happens. Absence makes the heart grow fonder. (FWIW, I am a TTE fan.)

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