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. beepaphone Says:

    I feel like psychs aren’t necessary for an immersed experience, but for me, and having been free of psychedelics on Saturday, previous experience helps make sense of seemingly chaotic shape-shifting like we got in the SOAM. Basically I see psychs as a sort of catalyst. One good experience trains your brain and organizes the sounds, and allows this to happen more smoothly in the future.

    That being said, I’m glad the band has their shit together, but I’m equally glad they dabbled plenty early on. To oversimplify, they no longer need to be tripping to know what trippy sounds like.

  2. gavinsdad Says:

    word beepa

  3. c0wfunk Says:

    just snatched a fresh copy of band of gypsies .. yesterday’s “loose and tight” discussion has it looming in my mind. For my money Jimi’s best project, though bold as love is a great album..

  4. c0wfunk Says:

    beep you said it…

    syracuse was certainly a show where they Knew the room was spun and played up the vibe.. listen to the little digi loop in twist’s lyrics and the cool little rising sound from trey in the lyrical segment of theme – carefully calibrated for the trippers in the crowd for sure..

  5. BTB Says:

    ^gavinsdad – I like your posts. Apologies not accepted!

  6. cal Says:

    …very good point as well, beepaphone. I always have trouble generalizing about drugs, because it’s impossible to tell who’s going to be able to keep a level head and who’s going to go off the deep end. I’ve had too many friends who took it way too far…some of whom started experimenting with ME…what works for one person can be so dangerous for the next guy.

  7. Tim Says:

    I’ve tried hard to get into TTE, but the lyrics always throw me and I feel like I need a real kick-ass jam at the end to justify my patience of listening to such a long piece. However, I will say that my first time seeing TTW live (Indio), I felt some real power in the ending. It actually worked quite well as a Set I closer.

  8. beepaphone Says:

    Thats the big maturity difference. Mature fans being their own responsible pharmacist – knowing what to take, what level they want to be on, how much of it to take. Then the immature fans will consume as much as they can of whatever they can get a hold of, with little regard on what will allow them to properly take in the Hose.

  9. beepaphone Says:

    I am also a believer that the immature category is one that does eventually mature. It only takes a couple bad experiences.

  10. What's next? Says:

    Listen guys n gals it’s never been about drugs, it’s always been about the music. What the band needs to do is drop the setlists and try and learn 70% of their tunes in order to make every show unpredictable and more interesting for them as well. Enough DWD , Possum YEM etc. We have newer songs boys like walls, song I heard, round room Scents, pebbles, waves, and on and on. Let’s go ahead and dial down the staples and dial up the creativity and selection. Enough with the ” what we’ve been through” stuff, we get it, now let’s move forward and bust out the genius creativity and settle once and for all who the kings of rock are.

    Additionally they haven’t been through all that much anyway, they have plenty of cash and comfy lives and loving families to get them through most of it, much more than 90% of us have.

    They need to bring it every night. Back in 95-2000 you could see 3 sick ass shows in a row easily with only one dud out of 4 shows. We’re getting closer, not quite there yet though.

  11. Leo Weaver Says:

    I really like TTE…I had to be patient in the beginning, but it’s certainly grown on me. I think the Cincy version is the best yet (save the orchestral version, which IMO is how it was designed to be played and heard – or show it should be anyway). They’ve been tweaking it since the first one and it’s gotten better each time. I enjoyed it at MPP and am kind of actually looking forward to getting another one soon (sorry to the TTE haters who’ll be at MSG!).

    re: sober shows…I’ve seen 8 this year, all relatively sober. only some dank herb and dank beers involved…except Gorge 2 at which I had a tiny piece of paper (that didn’t make me slip). I have to say, this is how I’ll continue to see most shows. I don’t feel as bad for the next 3 days, I can be productive upon return to work, and I REMEMBER the show – not just the “sparklies and waves.”

  12. beepaphone Says:

    Just reread my last 2 posts and wanted to add the Sober fan to the Mature category. The responsible pharmacist knows when substances aren’t needed in order to get total hosage.

  13. purplehumpbackwhale Says:

    its probably true that without drugs, the band has less patience for the longer jams. i believe thats why, whenever they dig themselves deep into one, trey seems to bail. see: most of summer tour. Piper at hartford great example. Slipped into a killer groove and trey was like ehh nah.
    Miner made comments all summer long about how trey was making poor transitions out of jams that had potential.

  14. GuitarPicker420! Says:

    I go to most shows sober, and by sober I mean drunk and stoned.

  15. beepaphone Says:

    TTE has some great moments in it, but I just think 17 minutes with little improvisation is too much. I’d be a lot cooler with a Guyute-lengthed cliff-notes version. I enjoyed TTE at Chi and Cincy, but couldn’t help but think I’d have rather heard something else…Like an 8.5 minute Tube and an 8.5 minute Timber.

  16. FroHawk Says:

    Just had a moment here at work I wanted to share with everyone. Listening to Saturday’s show, and just got to NICU. When the crowd cheered after the “Looking back on the days where my life was a haze,” you can clearly hear Trey giggling through the next few words.

    This just brought a huge smile to my face, and a tear to my eye at the same time, because as happy as I am to have our band back, I’m even MORE happy that they are in a better place and can enjoy doing this for us again. You can bet I’ll be bringing Phish up at the dinner table on Thursday. Thanks, Phish, and keep it up!!!

  17. beepaphone Says:

    @GP I, myself, was a wee bit high Saturday night

  18. Stupendous Says:

    FWIW I dont hate TTE but thought that the last one was very poorly played…
    It made me wonder…. I don’t mind the song, sure I’d rather get something else but when its a slop fest like last time it really drags… IMO the first couple of versions from summer I were very tight and dramatic.
    I too go to shows pretty sober although at the gorge 2 i got splashed accidentally with some mysterious water on my foot…which had me cross eyed for the whole show with only 1 bowl of popcorn …mysterious indeed!

  19. randomreader Says:

    maybe i should change my handle to randomposter, nothing i’m thinking about seems to connect to what y’all are discussing, and i’m knee-deep in paper-writing today so i don’t have the time i wish i had to follow along…

    that said one thing i’ve been ruminating on lately is the way the band has been able to capture the energy of individual shows in a really prescient way and funnel it into their music, giving different shows their own unique stamp. ‘cuse is certainly the most glaring example of this lately – the shite going down at setbreak seems to have infected the vibe of the crowd and even the venue itself (houselights on in drowned > twist), which in turn fed into the band’s energy, leading to some strange jamming in piper and the ultimate in bizarre, BBFCFM.

    another great example of this imo is the hood jam from chicago this summer. the odd and disconnected energy of that show has been talked up to no end, and i fully agree. what i find intriguing is that given that setting and vibe, phish took the hood jam to some weird, decidedly un-beautiful places for the ONLY time in a year full of hoods. anyone know the last time a hood jam went even remotely in a dissonant direction? i certainly don’t.

  20. CJ Says:

    Wow. The last couple minutes of the Syracuse Piper are badass.

  21. GuitarPicker420! Says:

    @beep – right with you. I am glad we doubled up at the beginning of that Melt. Just legendary. I truly felt the band was channeling some kind of psychotic energy, no other way to describe it.

  22. Robear Says:

    @Neemor, you’ve got mail

    @ Cowfunk: “5 minutes into piper and it’s furthur than 20 minutes of many pipers I can recall.”
    Way to summarize the ’09 jamming style, love it.

    I don’t want to burst any bubbles, or sound negative, but the term:

    ‘It’s all good’

    started in the California Prison Systems. It’s a phrase coined by people that have nothing left to live or fight for. They’ve totally given in, ‘It’s all Good’.

    Just saying, I have a close friend that has dedicated most of his adult life to being a prison counselor. I know that’s not how you all are using the phrase, but it’s roots are important. I don’t like that phrase much, and try to avoid it, unless I’m amongst friends that can see my facial expression and hear my tone, and know I mean it in a good way.

  23. c0wfunk Says:

    I guess the whole of the composition to me is so complete that it’s hard to pick a point to cut it. That middle improv section where everyone gets lost is like the sweetest sections of mcgrupp or one of those classic trey compositions to me – that’s the meat of the whole thing!

    Someone on here one time said something like “if I told you in 1998 we would get a new 15 minute trey composition that would be played ever 4 nights everyone would have freaked and been thrilled” or something along those lines – now that we have it people are like “give me the one chord vamp groove back!”

  24. Robear Says:

    Cowfunk, I think everyone wants to hear ‘Sand’ again because of the version from Camden this summer. I don’t think it’s the memories of the many ’99 versions (some were great, some a bit slow) IMHO.

  25. Neemor Says:

    I CAN NOT state this often enough.
    That Maze….
    if you’re looking for classic ’93 Phish…
    there’s a glimpse.

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