Another Level

11.20.09 (W.Rogell)

11.20.09 (W.Rogell)

At set break last night, I had multiple conversations lamenting the relatively jam-less phenomenon Phish had become. The band’s musical re-evolution from the first to the second leg of summer had unexpectedly come to a screeching halt when the band stepped indoors. Fall had not progressed as imagined; the band simply wasn’t talking risks anymore. A tour that started with lofty expectations of improvisational escapades and musical growth had turned somewhat formulaic – a series of songs in the first and a couple ten-to-twelve minute jams sprinkled throughout the second. Hmm. Just what had our cosmic adventurers become? Where had their spirit of exploration gone? We heard glimpses of it at Red Rocks and The Gorge, and logically thought Fall would be the next step. With enhanced onstage comfort and a few tours under their belt, Phish was ready to take over the world again – or were they?

11.20.09 (M.Stein)

11.20.09 (M.Stein)

Through the first half of tour, no new musical direction had emerged. If the band decided to jam, they pulled out “Disease,” “Rock and Roll,” or “Drowned,” and launched into a high speed rock jaunt that inevitably broke down into percussive grooves before morphing into ambience and drifting off into the next song. Some outings were better than others, but the formula began to grow tedious. This wasn’t the Phish I toured with in during the mid to late ‘90s, and this wasn’t the Phish I toured with in ’03 and ‘04 – 2009 represented a new take on their music, and to say it wasn’t a bit watered down would be generous. Was it the lack of drugs? Was it a lack of intrinsic motivation? Nobody knew, but a consensus was beginning to form amongst kids who have seen the band for years on end that something needed to happen; and it needed to happen now; Phish had to start jamming again. The last thing I said before the lights came down was “This better be huge.” Darkness.

Somehow, someway, the band must have eavesdropped on our conversations in the 200 level, because when they emerged for their fourth and final set at The Knick something had changed. I don’t know what conversation the band had at setbreak, or how they plotted their plan of attack, but when they stepped onto stage, they let their any inhibitions fall away and went for the jugular. Fifty minutes of pure exploratory improvisation later, I gazed at the stage, drenched, refreshed, and so blissed out, words cannot begin to explain.

11.21.09 (W.Rogell)

11.21.09 (W.Rogell)

“Seven Below > Ghost” defines why we see Phish; why we spend thousands of our dollars, weeks of our life, time away from our families, and all our vacation days chasing the sacred rite; searching for those moments – ever fleeting but ultimately inspiring- when the universe comes together in a vibrant confluence of ecstatic music, unconscious rhythm and soulful reverie. Fifty minutes of IT, guided by a spirit unseen in 2009, absolutely floored the entire Knick, leading to a deafening ovation in reverence of the magical mystery tour.

Organically building through multiple melodic themes with improvisation so fluid it made any other jam from the year seem contrived, Phish seemed to be playing to our greatest fears, showing us they most definitely still have what it takes to blow our minds apart. Cohesively connecting two 25-minute epics, Phish crafted far and away their most stunning music of the year. Nothing else even comes close. For whatever reason, everything truly came together for the first time in 2009 last night, and Phish presented us with a psychedelic excursion that stands up to their prestigious history.

11.18.09 (M.Stein)

11.18.09 (M.Stein)

Songs turned into mere vehicles as Phish allowed their instincts take over their consciousness in earnest, resulting in an epic voyage for the ages and hopefully a sign of things to come. But the question begging to be asked is, “Why now?” What were the precipitating causes of such a monumental – and obvious – shift in musical intent? Something of such magnitude doesn’t just happen out of the blue; the band clearly decided that last night would be different.  And boy was it ever. Completely redefining possibilities for the final week of tour, last night’s show at The Knick represented a massive step forwards to the hopeful return of the Phish of our dreams.

11.20.09 (W.Rogell)

11.20.09 (W.Rogell)

Rest of Set II Notes: Everything that happened after “Seven Below > Ghost” was simply frosting on the cake. If the PA had broken at that point, everyone would have picked up their belongings and headed for the exits with an ear-to-ear smile. But the did, in fact, continue with the quick bust-out of Velvet Underground’s “Cool It Down”- a song that seemed wholly appropriate following the initial segment of the other-worldly playing. Segueing into a celebratory groove session of “Jibboo” the band then took a breath with “Let Me Lie” before showering the audience with the liquid funk of “Wolfman’s Brother.” A full-on “Julius” wrapped up the set before the band came out and gave their own nod of recognition to the special evening their signature piece, “You Enjoy Myself.”

Set I Notes: The first half started with a bang with “Party Time” and “Stealing Time,” while also featured a solid “Foam,” and a botched “Split” that paled in comparison to Cincy’s version, as well as several others from this year. Notable bust-outs included “Sanity,” “Walk Away,” and the first 3.0 incarnations of “Uncle Pen,” and “Vultures.”

I: Party Time, Stealing Time From the Faulty Plan, Uncle Pen, Sanity, Foam, Walk Away, NICU, Alaska, Split Open and Melt, Joy, Vultures, Backwards Down the Number Line

II: Seven Below > Ghost, Cool It Down > Gotta Jibboo, Let Me Lie, Wolfman’s Brother, Julius

E: You Enjoy Myself

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933 Responses to “Another Level”

  1. Beezee Says:

    see you at MSG. Meatstick, Cinnamon Girl, Spock’s, Sand, Sabotage, Sneeakin’, shaggy Dog, Dog Log, Manteca, Eliza, and a Harpua>Kids>Pua. goodnight and goodluck.

  2. gavinsdad Says:

    ahhh…sorry marshall…don’t have confirmation on the mics/no mics….reading the loonie’s comments over on hoodstream 🙂

  3. beepaphone Says:

    Can’t close on Carini…peeps would lose their shit. Gotta ease off it…Waste was a good choice.

  4. BrandonKayda Says:

    they wont close with waste will they?

  5. Kevin Says:

    @MrC

    Just hit that part. Mike got creative. Fish listened to mike. Page to Fish. Trey to Page. And now they’re grooving again. Fuck yes.

  6. chefbradford Says:

    @Lycan: I’m stunned (happily so) by “Plight of My Heart”. Where can I DL mp3s of your music (I’ll happily pay to get you on my iPod)

  7. fishman's frock Says:

    i saw them do an acapella freebird in albany (98 i think). it was hilarious! fishman did the ‘guitar solo’ at the end. soooooooooo funny!!!

  8. beepaphone Says:

    Weighprise?

  9. fishman's frock Says:

    ^ lol

  10. Marshall Says:

    Last Weigh.

  11. BrandonKayda Says:

    Is that it? Waste to close show? hmmmm

  12. jdub Says:

    According to the arrows from phish.com they did not stop playing the entire second set

  13. BrandonKayda Says:

    I’ll need to hear this show tomorrow

  14. BrandonKayda Says:

    Here comes the part that sucks: Now I am staying up all night to get this fucking report done

    It has to be done though, so I might as well just go at it

  15. jdub Says:

    Dreams of MSG tonight, work tomorrow. G’night all

  16. Mr. Completely Says:

    Waste is a great closer as long as it comes at the end of a hot hot show like that

    the ballad encore has a long and noble history

    plus the message of the tune itself

    ======

    kevin, I just love that whole long segment – they’re so determined to reach another peak!!!!

  17. gavinsdad Says:

    you have 2.5 days to write that mf’ing paper BK before you get stuck on here again. giddyup.

    jks.

  18. Kevin Says:

    Wowowow, go Mike! Last night’s Ghost just hit insane places nowhere near recognizable to the song. Band is grooving hard, amazing to hear.

  19. jdub Says:

    Sorry to hear about the all nighter BK, you’re young and won’t be your last.

  20. gavinsdad Says:

    kids – g’nite…see some of you at the meetup/blarney stone/msg in a few days. looking forward to some nasty ass nyc phish.

  21. Kevin Says:

    phish.com considers song->crowd noise->song a segue

  22. Lycanthropist Says:

    @chefsbrad

    i believe there is an option to download the whole show as a zip from archive.org

  23. halcyon Says:

    I definitely look forward to hearing Miner and the PT crew on their thoughts regarding this show.

    Looks like another hot one. I wish I was heading to NYC on my days off this week. Stupid responsibilities.

  24. chefbradford Says:

    Excellent, thank you. And I do mean it, thank you!

  25. Lycanthropist Says:

    no thank you very much

    check out my trio when you get time!

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