Retro-Phishing: Sunday In Syracuse

11.18.09 (M.Stein)

11.18.09 (M.Stein)

As soon as one stepped foot into the War Memorial in Syracuse, NY, a palpable Phishy energy took over. Upstate New York, an intimate minor-league hockey arena, 8,000 fans, and an elderly security team that might as well have been ghosts, it certainly didn’t feel like 2009, more like 1994 – the last time the band played at the venue. This retro vibe laced the entire night, as the band responded with a super-charged, two set affair that carried a ferocious energy from the “Bowie” opener through the “Good Times, Bad Times” encore, including a handful of bust outs along the way.

11.18.09 (M.Stein)

11.18.09 (M.Stein)

Initiating the crowd with a rare “Bowie” opener, the band clearly meant business. Playing off the miniature-sized venue, the band brought out one of their oldest jams to the forefront right away. Opening with a piece of improv for the first time this tour, Phish set an ominous tone to the show with a dark, explosive opening. Moving through an delicate beginning in which Trey and Page’s cohesion shone, the band gradually built the jam into some nasty “Bowie” grooves. Since Detroit, everything has taken on a new life with Trey’s creative guitar playing; his licks and phrasing have been impeccable thus far, pumping a new energy into every improvisational dip.”Bowie” provided a perfect example of this, as Red’s precision and passion injected a noticeable intensity into the opener; an intensity which his band mates were more than ready to match.

A furious run through the first “Julius” of tour kept the musical intensity right on going with some full-on blues rock, whose musical feel spilled over into one of the first set highlights in “Kill Devil Falls.” Once the composed song ended and the jam got underway, the band took off into a collective build over a the straight-forward groove. Getting creative with a head full of steam, Phish cannonballed into a smoking version of the song. While not getting completely type-II, the band still built something more than the generic jam that permeated more than a few summer setlists. The next point of interest came with the second appearance of “Funky Bitch” since the band returned for this go-round –  and only the third since 2000. With active participation from all members, a mini-series of dance grooves emerged in the middle of the first set.

11.20.98 (M.Stein)

11.20.98 (M.Stein)

Though Phish played an engaging opening frame, they left the most exciting part for last. Closing the set with a sinister exploration of “Stash,” Phish blew the roof off the joint with a menacing bookend to compliment “Bowie.” Morphing into maniacal musicians, the band slowly molded the jam from its eerie opening, through a period mellower patterns before taking the it out into more abstract territory. Without ever losing their sense of urgency, the band came together in period of ordered chaos and simply crushed it. Seamlessly rejoining the the song’s ending build, Trey continued his personal assault on any eastern arena he sets foot in. Playing like a different guitarist than this summer, he is only one factor that points to the band getting their groove back in earnest this fall. An absurdly intense peak left the crowd aghast at the psychedelic jaunt as they gathered their personal belongings for setbreak.

11.20.09 (M.Stein)

11.20.09 (M.Stein)

As we sat thinking what might transpire in set two, the calls of “Crosseyed,” “Drowned,” and “Twist,” flew through the air, and before we knew it two of these three came to fruition. “Drowned,” Phish’s ubiquitous summer set opener, and “Twist,” their prodigal song, both came together in the meatiest portion of the show. Combining with “Piper” and the ultra-bust-out,”Big Black Furry Creatures From Mars” in a scintillating run of music, Phish didn’t allow anyone to catch their breath until well into the set. After slaughtering “Drowned’s” composed jam, the bombast gave way to sparser psychedelic grooves that saw Mike lead the way with a galloping bassline – though you’d never hear it on the official soundboards which are back to being all Trey and Page since the band moved indoors. Getting into a percussive groove similar to portions of Cincinnati’s “Rock and Roll.” Trey began to play a funked out lead over top of the music before switching to rhythmic chops and then outright soloing as the the band moved through the multidimensional jam. After breaking down their music even further into a chunkier portion, Phish faded into an ambient outro, and the opening licks of “Twist” emerged from the sonic murk.


11.20.09 (M.Stein)

A song that was long overdue, its return to rotation came as a short version that merged with “Piper” in a flowing segment of songs rather than as a huge jam vehicle. Navigating the song’s composed jam more than proficiently, the moment the “Twist” would finally break form hung before us with no end. And just as Trey wrapped up the the structured jam with a heavy guitar kick, he abruptly slid into “Piper” instead of elevating to the expected type-II reverie. Though similarly concise, “Piper” did get beyond its structure, moving into an up-tempo musical chase. Flowing cohesively at a break-neck pace, the band got back into a percussive rhythm, this time led by heavy organ work and shorter guitar licks. Resembling the middle part of the “Drowned” from earlier in the set, Phish definitely had their fast pace rock grooves going last night. As they built into a increasingly tense musical plane, Fishman crashed in with a heavier beat and the band sped up into the first appearance of “Big Fat Furry Creatures From Mars” of this era, and it fit in perfectly with the upstate, old-school vibe. A particularly maddening version, the mere appearance of the quirky metal classic stamped Sunday night’s set as indelibly special. Which is far more more than can be said for the token three minute “Tube” that the band decided to play in honor of Fishman’s lyrical acumen in his home town.

11.20.09 (M.Stein)

11.20.09 (M.Stein)

But after the non-stop musical mania of “Drowned > Twist > Piper > BBFCFM,” the rest of the evening petered off on the explorational tip – much like last the second night of Cincinnati. Highlighted by ripping versions of “Theme,” “Maze,” and “First Tube,” the rest of the set, while blistering, remained wholly within the box. A raucous “Good Times, Bad Times” put a strong ending on a relentless show. An energetic show to the core, Sunday’s excursion provided a throw back Phish experience for all, and another piece of confirmation that the band is loving life and only getting better.

I: David Bowie, Julius, Sparkle, Kill Devil Falls, Lawn Boy, Heavy Things, Funky Bitch, Sample in a Jar, Boogie On Reggae Woman, Let Me Lie, Beauty of a Broken Heart, Stash

II: Drowned > Twist > Piper > Big Black Furry Creature from Mars, Tube, Theme From the Bottom, Maze, The Horse > Silent in the Morning, Character Zero, First Tube

E: Good Times Bad Times

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618 Responses to “Retro-Phishing: Sunday In Syracuse”

  1. CJ Says:

    Anyone have a megaupload of last night? I’m itching to hear both sets. Take your time, though. This 11/21 show can last me a long time–it ROCKS. Not the most exploratory Rock and Roll they’ve played this year, but probably the overall best. Trey absolutely destroys it. Also the best Suzy they’ve played all year, excluding the special throw-down at F8.

  2. gratefulcub Says:

    “skipped the Camel to play Axilla”

    We all thought it was Peaches. But, that is just because we had been huggin all over a cute girl with a kind spirit in butterfly wings holding a peaches sign pre-show. Actually, I am going to forget I heard this, and just believe it was our new friend and her peaches sign that got the 2nd place shout out.

  3. marcoesq Says:


    In respect to the lack of RR material I think you may have a point. I hate to do this comparison but; as also a big Widespread Panic fan, we’ve seen many of the Mikey-era tunes completely dropped from the rotation. (Sanbox, Waker, etc) Now while this holds a different meaning of why they have dropped them from their repetoire, (they are showing respect to the tunes he wrote since his passing) it still holds true that songs that get dropped (for one reason or the other) we’ll have to let go of to honor the band’s feelings on the matter

  4. Mr. Completely Says:

    It wasn’t drug induced, it had nothing to do with lights or shiny objects, it was a realization that someone that I do care about had saved his life, his family, and our band. It was moving, and I don’t believe I was the only one in the room that felt it.

    beautiful. preach it

  5. Wilson8or Says:

    FWIW: it appears as though the excitement and hype of the small venue Fox Theatre from this summer was saved for Syracuse!

  6. marcoesq Says:


    Here ya go:

    I don’t know if this frowned upon here 🙂

  7. Wilson8or Says:

    @Marco: Well said!

  8. gratefulcub Says:

    Is the no spoilers megaupload supposed to be one track for each set? or did I do something wrong? I have never downloaded them before, but I want to hear the difference between sdb mike and aud mike.

  9. BTB Says:

    I saw the Peaches sign, you may be right on that one. I saw the same Camel sign at Cobo and both Cinci. The difference is they actually have to practice Peaches and Camel walk. They can just bust out the Axilla. Here’s hoping we get both Camel and Peaches soon!

    “his life, his family and our band”

    Yeah, well said. I felt that. I believe it’s called JOY..

  10. EL Duderino Says:

    Meatstick was summer ’99 and IMO should remain there!

  11. Locust the Lurker Says:

    @Grateful: Yes. Supposed to be one file, or track, for each set.

  12. llamalee Says:

    mr. c, they dropped your BFFCFM

    just getting back from cinci, long drive yesterday and had to take crazy detour b/c of mountain collapsing on i-40, but well worth. boys are back and on steroids, landed front row seats night 2 dead center. killer SOAM, possum, yem, on and on and on…

  13. marcoesq Says:


    I hope that holds true for why they didn’t bust out meatstick last night after the setbreak chants. Trey has been doing well this year about honoring requests so hopefully we’ll get some of these much desired breakouts in philly and beyond!

  14. MisterChristian Says:

    someone bring “Vultures” signs plz.

  15. CJ Says:

    @marco–thank you! Jumping on now

    re: Moonlight Mile

    YES. Definitely my favorite Rolling Stones song. So so beautiful. One of those songs that just defines “perfection.”

  16. gratefulcub Says:

    “I believe it’s called JOY”

    To be completely cheesy, as someone with his first daughter on the way in about 3 months, I melted when the Joy encore started. I really wanted to hear it.

    Of course, don’t get me wrong, it wouldn’t have been near as moving if I didn’t know that TWEPRISE was going to follow.

    What’s the best part about hearing Tweezer????

  17. EL Duderino Says:

    The only bummer about getting a Tweezer is the Reprise.

  18. BTB Says:

    I think the Cinci SOAM was definitely TYPE III territory (my definition anyway).

    I looked around the arena and a majority of people were just standing there like, “WOAH”. I have to relisten to that version, to be honest I didn’t know what to make of that jam live, but I know it was out there. Wasn’t really a ‘dance’ version in my opinion, but more spiritual and kind of fast-paced soaring shredding. Very unique, the rythym was crazy, that’s for sure.

  19. KWL Says:

    might have been some of my friends singing meatstick, ha. They were talking about it pre-show & were on the floor, could have been by the aud mic.

    What a day/night. Amazing show, high energy from start to finish says it all. Was looking for a late set II big jam but Maze was just sick, and the rockers to close it out was appropriate.

    Had one of those unexplainable phish moments last night, just overwhelmed by the power and beauty of it all. With friends and phamily all around, all was right in the universe last night.

  20. BTB Says:

    I’m with you. I melted during Joy and If I could and Albuquerque. Mostly b/c my lady is in to those songs, but still, I’m a softy for those I guess. Ok, got work to do. Later fella’s

  21. Neemor Says:

    neemor falls asleep happy.

  22. KWL Says:

    non-existent security down on the back of the floor. A ton of space to move around & dance. Empty seats all around and ample aisle space, brought down my whole crew no problem. Didn’t even need to stub them down, they just walked right onto the floor.

    Was really my first time up close to Kuroda, it was fun to watch him work and from the board, we had the same incredible view of the lights as he gets every night.

    The house lights were on for a while in the early set II, and when they finally got them off, Kuroda gave a little mock clap with his hands by his head.

  23. Danny B Says:

    sorry to interrupt talk about the cuse, but does anybody need a 4 pack of tickets to Miami?

    I have one ticket to each night in the 300’s, looking for face, or even a little bit less. I could stub you down to the 100’s each night:)

    Long story short, my gf bought an extra 4 pack of tickets that are gonna be real tough to get rid of.

  24. c0wfunk Says:

    just midway through the “syracuse jam” out of drowned, but wowza – after listening to that 11/23/97 the other day I have to say this is right up there in its potency as the big jams of that show. But that “trey on attack” section has a bit more control now.. nice little slide into some type III at 5:23 or so..

  25. Neemor Says:

    cOw…I’m on the HoodStream, too….
    This Drowned is ridiculous.

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