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. lot rat Says:

    recalcitrant-miner what does this word mean?

    here’s to hoping they will be repeating songs on west coast spring tour!

    last night looked sweet, complete show and the best looking first set of the tour. tweezer>light is tasty…

  2. joe Says:

    safe travels, Mr. Miner. Thanks for the service that you provide all of us here. Your dedication to the whole thing is unmatched an much appreciated.

  3. SillyWilly Says:

    This is my analogy for Phish’s song selections:

    I played college football and spent all day yesterday watching the games, so its sort of in my head.

    The college football season starts in january after the bowl game. Youre in the weight room lifting trying to get bigger, stronger, and faster. Youre also trying to build on chemistry with your teammates.
    Phish equivalent: Announcing Hampton and then rehearsing through winter 08-09.
    Hampton was springball. You have spring practice where you try and hone your funadamentals. You put in your base defenses. Not many blitz packages. You put in your bread and butter offense. No trick plays. No exotic fromations. You just work at being really good at what makes you good.
    The summer was like summer camp in football. You gotta get in shape. You build on the spring. You start to figure out whos gonna start, whos gonna be a starter.

    Then Indio was the first game. The beginning of the season. BUT, it was a big season opener like Notre Dame – Michigan or Florida St. – Miami. And Phish won. They won big. 28-7 or 35-10.

    Then came the fall run. They played hard. This was their first season under a new headcoach (Coach 3.0) and they had a helluva season. 10-2 lets say.

    Miami is a bowlgame. Theyre gonna look at the season (the fall) and figure out what worked and what didnt. Im really excited.

    Phish is on the rise!

  4. Wilson8or Says:

    I was re-educated after attending MSG a couple nights ago not to judge a setlist by its cover, as I was baffled how people called Thursday night average. That being said, I’ll reserve judgment on last nights’ setlist until I hear it, but good god, it looks a lot like night 1 & 2 of MSG rearranged. I guess if you got something good, keep it going! If last night’s piper was anything like Thursday, ya’ll got a treat!

  5. stitchstash Says:

    @ cowfunk- Just heard Ya Mar. Definitely a “naked pa” in there. Classic Trey, “Let’s hear it for the naked guy. That takes a lot of balls.” Funny story to wake up to.

    This run was great! I’m excited to hear your recap of the tour Miner.

  6. Lycanthropist Says:

    i like that @Silly

  7. jdub Says:

    Silly that is an epic metaphor and fits perfectly. Well done. You could probably start the season early with second leg if summer tour being first half of season with Indio being the big mid season game. 1st leg being pre season. I would say they had a 10-2 year with the loses being games they should have won

  8. BingosBrother Says:

    @Silly : “How often does someone use the adjective Mesozoic to describe music. ” Seriously first thing I was gonna write before seeing your first post. As Phish rises, Miner rises. Can’t wait to hear this show, was thinking about RR Tweezer this morning and if this one comes close then I’m in for a treat.
    @ All : If y’all haven’t had a chance to check out Lycans band Chance Fisher, please do so when you have the time. Finally checked them out last night and I’m happy he pimped them so hard that they ended up in my bed. Top notch quality music. Here’s the link I’m listenin to.

  9. stitchstash Says:

    @ silly, I’m not a huge football fan, (except the Bears) but great analogy. That actually made sense to me.

  10. SillyWilly Says:

    thanks everyone!

    this was my first fall not playing football ever….and i replaced football with phish, so in a very subjective way, it made sense to blend football and phish.

    and jdub, yes i totally agree. after i wrote that i kept think of new things to add to it.

  11. BingosBrother Says:

    I love being chosen to be on The Phish Team. Win or lose, we always win.

  12. gus Says:

    it may be a bit early, but any good AUD sources known?

  13. Lycanthropist Says:

    thanks bingo..

    all further chance fisher discussion may be moved either to my email:

    lycanthropist.kelly AT gmail DOT com

    or preferrably discussed on our own blog



    just hogged up the board a good bit last night… if you want some basic rundowns of CF check out the board starting with about page 29 i think of last nights post..

    thanks again guys so much!

  14. Lycanthropist Says:

    well actually it permeated as far back as page 24

    sorry for the major hijack last night guys.. just kinda happened on the late night tip.

  15. Lycanthropist Says:

    great review today…

    cant wait to get some post tour thoughts from you as you go back and revisit these shows…

    well done.

  16. Lycanthropist Says:

    man this tweezer from last night is down right infectious!

  17. stitchstash Says:

    I’m still on the Wedge. I loved the Funky Bitch!

  18. Lycanthropist Says:

    yeh my man Page tore it up no doubt on the Funky Bitch

  19. BrandonKayda Says:

    Last night’s Divided Sky is huge.

  20. BrandonKayda Says:


    ^Naked guy during Ya Mar

  21. gus Says:

    I’m listening back to MSG3, and I’m confused. I remember you guys saying there were no lyrics to seven below or twist, it was just heavy teasing. there’s lyrics in both of those.

  22. Lycanthropist Says:


    that was a result of trying too hard on the streams…

  23. chefbradford Says:

    Lycan, how are you feeling today? Also, check your e-mail if you haven’t already

  24. Lycanthropist Says:

    good morning BK

    would like to thank everyone who hung out last night, and helped made what could have been a weird situation turn out to be an incredible one.

    thanks again y’all

  25. BrandonKayda Says:

    Yeah Gus – We were completely wrong there, my bad.

    Wait till Mr. C comes on so he can tell you how high we were 🙂

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