A Feature Finale

12.4.09 (G.Lucas)

12.4.09 (G.Lucas)

In the aftermath of their return to MSG, Phish brought their fall tour home in Charlottesville, Virginia last night with one of the dirtiest throw-downs of all, anchored by thick dance grooves, uber-exploratory improv, and cash-money playing all night long. Despite a 15,000 person capacity, John Paul Jones Arena held a distinctly intimate feel after Madison Square Garden’s big city blowout. With a GA floor uniting all the kids for the fall finale, Phish responded with an unforgettable farewell set, albeit only for three weeks.

12.4.09 (G.Lucas)

12.4.09 (G.Lucas)

Stepping on stage for their final frame, it didn’t take long for Phish to drop the danciest and most addictive”Tweezer” since Red Rocks now-legendary version. Attacking the jam from a rhythmic perspective, Phish instantly transported the arena to a moss-ridden, Mesozoic swamp of groove. Using rhythm licks and staccato leads, Trey blended with the band in the type of sculpted, blissful ventures that drives my soul. Sliding with swagger into his solo, Big Red’s playing led the band in an instant classic. As the band raged in the post-peak section of the jam, Trey abruptly cut the jam with a recalcitrant insistence on playing “Light” at that specific moment. The rough transition hardly effected what is quickly becoming a Phish staple, “Tweezer > Light.” Having started the Summer at Fenway with the debut of the sequence, the band finished Fall with the same combo that packed a completely different punch.

12.2.09 (W.Rogell)

12.2.09 (W.Rogell)

Since its debut, “Light” has developed into the band’s newest and largest jam vehicle, growing in stature throughout the year, and recently featured as Madison Square Garden’s deepest jam. In the last version of a tour that has been nothing short of a revelation for the song’s potential, Phish unveiled one of their most psychedelic and abstract jam in ages. Morphing in and out of subtle grooves and with an amorphous mastery, this jam represented some peak sonic experimentation. The band passed through a passage that strongly suggested “Dave’s Energy Guide” en route to an incredibly cerebral masterpiece. Through all the “Lights” of fall tour, Phish illustrated an evolving desire to break new musical ground, specifically in the last few versions, and that couldn’t be a better sign for the future of the band.

Blending their cosmic jaunt into “Piper,” the band tore into another piece of music that has continually pushed their playing throughout the year. Last night’s full-throttle mind-game provided a dense passage of growling rock-turned-groove, in a jam that Trey, again, ended too quickly to play “Free” –  an interesting trend that could be theorized upon for hours. Splashing into the ultimate ’09 landing point for exploratory improv, the band concluded the initial non-stop section of the set with a dash of bass-driven arena rock before allowing anyone to catch their breath.

12.3.09 (W.Hermann)

12.3.09 (W.Hermann)

Featuring their “Exile” costume for consecutive shows, Phish used the appropriate “Sweet Virginia” as their final mid-set interlude of tour. Following the Stones’ southern ballad, Phish rolled into a magnificent “Harry Hood” whose completely sublime interplay between Mike and Trey made the many versions of tour look somewhat standard. Guided by a seemingly deeper spirit, the ethereal textures and other-worldly melodies of this “Hood” brought echoes of mid-to-late ’90’s classics, evoking the song’s essential core. Taking their early-epic for a regal ride, this version drew inspiration from the stirring set of music that had preceded. As the band sustained the song’s final note, one could practically hear the oncoming crash into “Suzy,” and when it came, “Hood’s” energy spilled into the super-spirited funk number that has dotted so many top-notch sets this year.

12.4.09 (W.Rogell)

12.4.09 (W.Rogell)

Following “Golgi,” the band stamped the set complete with an “Antelope” that brought the tour to an upbeat ending with the altered lyric, “You’ve got to run like a naked guy, out of control!” referencing a first-set stage-jumper in the raw who wove his way around the band and their equipment, eluding two stage security like Barry Sanders breaking a busted play. A comedic ending to a top-notch affair, the band concluded in a place of extreme musical focus amidst tongue-in cheek hilarity; it sure seems that things are back on track in the world of Phish again. Finishing their tour with the first “Loving Cup” since Indio’s accompanied blowout, and the always fitting ,”Reprise,” the encore punctuated and enhanced the band’s farewell. Now at home again in both amphitheatres and arenas, the world is Phish’s oyster once again, and it’s just great to be a part of it.

Set 1 Notes: An eventful, though rather jam-less, first set featured the tour’s only appearances of “Ya Mar,” “Sneakin’ Sally,” and “Bold As Love.” “Bag,” “Chalkdust” provided an old-school kick start to the frame while “Faulty Plan” went through the entire tour fall without any of its anticipated indoor evolution. The band continues to kill “Divided Sky” with frequency because they can. A late-set combo of “Funky Bitch” and “Bowie,” by all accounts, should have ended the first half. But “The Wedge” followed before the hallowed Hendrix cover ended an extended opening frame.

I: AC/DC Bag, Chalk Dust Torture, Stealing Time From the Faulty Plan, The Divided Sky, Ya Mar, Sneakin’ Sally through the Alley, The Old Home Place, Cavern, Funky Bitch, David Bowie, The Wedge, Bold As Love

II: Tweezer > Light > Piper > Free, Sweet Virginia, Harry Hood, Suzy Greenberg, Golgi Apparatus, Run Like an Antelope

E: Loving Cup, Tweezer Reprise

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749 Responses to “A Feature Finale”

  1. Robear Says:

    chef, the quality and ease of obtaining shows is priceless! Phish wants fans that can’t make the shows, to be happy, too!

    Stitch, Waterwheel had an excellent run. People are very supportive, and the bands support grows each tour. The Waterwheel logo was on the back of some, maybe all of the Phish Tickets. If you go to the ‘on the road’ page from phish.com, there is a link to the Waterwheel group from the show. It’s a great sign for the future. Waterwheel drops large donations on these little groups. I think it will continue to grow and develop into a network of groups and people working together to improve lives and communities. Not bad for a rock band.

  2. Summer98 Says:

    She may come with me when I head to Toronto in July. I’ve got a b-Lo stop built-in to that trip. I’ll probably be out this spring as well but that will be a solo mission.

  3. stitchstash Says:

    I agree Chef, sometimes the time off makes it that much more special in that moment. But it’s the IT factor that has us always wanting more. I like that IT has been a discussion these last few days.

    Robear you said some very moving things the other day. Very awesome to read!

  4. Robear Says:

    Geez, if I had been in C’Ville, I would have been running back to the WW table for the set closer, about 5 times, starting with ‘Cavern’. Now those are fun sets.

  5. stitchstash Says:

    I would love to meet you and your wife! Do you play disc golf summer98? There are some fun courses around here. We take our kids. It’s fun for the whole phamily!

  6. chefbradford Says:

    Many of you I have yet to talk to much. I was a reader on this site for many months, late last summer until this spring, I think, before I posted anything. I have to say that the quality of exchange, if you get what I’m saying, on this site is incredibly high. I’ve always enjoyed Mr Miner’s thoughts, and as this year has progressed, have enjoyed more and more reading the thoughts of the other Minerites. And so, I’d just like to say, to any of you still here tonight, thanks for making what could have been a cold, angry blog-site instead a warm, loving, friendly community. I haven’t chatted on-line like I have here since the mid-90s. And this is so much better. You guys are great, and I just really enjoy this community. The End. Do I get an A, Teach?

  7. fromthetub Says:

    Hey Robear — very cool sharing dancing space with you on Friday set 2. Glad it was a convenient spot near the WW table as well! Your energy was infectious and I’m glad to know there are others as passionate about the experience as me. That set was on. fire. My pham really enjoyed meeting you as well. Thanks for sharing in the groove with us.

  8. fromthetub Says:

    Well said, Chef. I came for the Phish, stayed for Miner’s fantastic writing and only started posting because of the amazing community that has formed and that Miner has fostered. The positivity, intelligence and general good energy is what has kept me reading this site daily since right before Hampton. Cheers, all! And thank you Mr. Miner.

  9. chefbradford Says:

    fromthetub, right on

  10. Summer98 Says:

    That’s the same thing I did, although I still don’t post too much. Part of it is that I’m slammed at work and use this site as a quick distraction, preventing me from commenting and getting too far involved in the conversation. The other part is that I enjoy just listening to the sage advice that rolls from the likes of Mr C, Robear, Neemor and others.

    Tis a great community indeed. I’m ordering my phishthoughts shirt before the time runs out.

    We’ll absolutely get in touch before we make our next B-Lo trip. It would be great to meet you and your hubby and relive some of those fond memories.

  11. stitchstash Says:

    Yes, student chef, Great explanation! You definitely deserve an A. I love this site as well. I’ve never chatted on-line before this site so I understand what you are saying. There is a certain amount of comfortability to speak your mind on this site so long as it does not disrespect anyone. I like having this community. It’s nice to have other people to talk to about something you love so much. We are a Phish support group in a way. We help each other get by until the next show. I’m glad I’m addicted to Phish and not worse things.

  12. chefbradford Says:

    stitchstash (and everyone else, really), yes, I think most of us are on the same, beautiful page. “I’m glad I’m addicted to Phish and not worse things.” Perfect

  13. stitchstash Says:

    I hate to use the word addiction. It makes loving Phish sound so bad.

  14. chefbradford Says:

    Yeah, but those of us who know, KNOW, and everyone else, well, what can you do?

  15. stitchstash Says:

    You can’t do anything but wait until the next show.

  16. chefbradford Says:

    YES. I really hope the deep South gets love next year!

  17. joe Says:

    audio is so good on those harpus msg videos. that is all. carry on.

  18. chefbradford Says:

    Audio AND video. That guy/gal did a great job

  19. joe Says:

    yes indeed. figure the audio is from livephish? synched up perfect

  20. joe Says:

    not that I condone that sort of thing…

  21. SillyWilly Says:

    i couldn’t go to sleep. im pretty nervous about my exam.

    the thoughts being exchanged between stitch and chef are beautiful.

    i love it when it gets late, and theres just a few of us left awake. the really cool stuff comes out then.

    a few weeks ago someone – i think it was neemor – said its like sitting around a campfire in the early morning with all your friends.

  22. stitchstash Says:

    I like neemor’s idea so much better. Such warm happy thoughts! Good night all!

  23. chefbradford Says:

    I agree. I check in whenever I can, but it seems that most of my actual posts develop at night. So yeah, I like the campfire analogy. Good night to all who are leaving. I don’t know how much longer I’ll be here, I have to work in the morning, and I should already be asleep.

  24. Te Me Disfrutas Says:

    This was a great show. The Tweezer>Light>Piper>Free is excellent. Well said Miner, it truly was a “feature finale”.

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