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

Tags: ,

749 Responses to “A Feature Finale”

  1. Mitch Says:

    By this I mean that I am the type of person who doesn’t want to miss a second of live Phish and will forgo bathroom trips, beer lines, and everything else so that I can be there for every single note.

    ^totally, I’m selfish at shows too and was being selfish for her. She didnt get cell reception in the bathroom so when I texted her SPARKLE COME BACK! she never got it. Frankie and I were too out of it to remember to videotape it for her. D’OH!

    and gratefulcub, I’ve got a few bands where it takes me a bit into the song to remember the name, or I know all the words and have to run them through in my head til I get to the chorus and remember. I’m the guy at the phish show usually leaning over tho. Really cracked me up in Philly when I had a song written down and a few mins later a new dude leans over and tells me what it is and I just chuckled “yup”

  2. Mr. Completely Says:

    It became the Phish experience I always heard about and wished I had, but never really did until Fall 2009


    FWIW I listen to most shows and albums start to finish once. Maybe twice. Then it goes into the playlist bin. I’m a playlist/mix/shuffle guy now. Albums that get played all the way through more than once are few and far between.

    Think the album is kind of a dead concept, actually, not that there aren’t plenty of good ones, but it’s not always necessary anymore…

  3. Mitch Says:

    I wanna see wendy’s pics
    I wanna have a higher ground meet up
    Leo, would have liked to have met your girl too dude, next time
    I have a maze bowie coin to tell me which song it is

    ^not a haiku, just my response to page 21 while im behind as always.

    you get the backwoods internet fixed yet? Where ya at dude?

  4. Mitch Says:

    I would have loved to have talked to you more but was in the middle of the ticket frenzy before the show.

    my girl prob would have thought I was weird for having internet friends too if she hadnt met frankie earlier this year and then I asked if robear could crash too. Gotta bring them around in singles and then throw the whole group at them. These aren’t internet friends, these are miner friends. respek!

  5. gratefulcub Says:

    During set break, my first show friend that you met briefly at the Blarney Stone, kept saying, Mitch is the MFing man. We were at the WW table, he had gotten a little drunk and just couldn’t believe it: “Mitch!! People are following him around, he is just directing traffic in this place. He calls ahead from F’ing Indianapolis and gets a room above a bar in MANHATTAN!! He is the man, the MF’ing Mack Daddy!” It feels good to laugh that hard. Not that you AREN’T the Mack Daddy, just that him ranting about it was hilarious.

  6. HarryHood Says:


    You more eloquently put into words what I was also trying to say in my lengthy post this morning. I’ve always had IT moments at shows and I’ve always known when IT is happening. The MSG run was the first time that I’ve felt IT outside of the venue walls. Whether it was walking into the upstairs of the Blarney Stone and feeling welcomed by total strangers (kind of) or having a beer with a few of you post show, IT was with me for three straight days. I was part of something bigger than myself or even the band for that matter. That feeling welled up and exploded inside of me during that First Tube and anyone in that room felt it too. We all felt it together. People were screaming, people were crying, and people were dancing their faces off! The energy in that room was electric enough that if the power had gone out at that moment, I’m convinced that we would have never known it. That whole rig would have run on us alone! The hair on my arms stands up now just thinking about it.

  7. gratefulcub Says:

    My wife would laugh about my internet friends too, if I didn’t lie my ass off and never tell her that I have internet friends.

  8. fromthetub Says:

    @Mitch – Mr. Miner has put a bunch of them up this year… just look for the photo credits with the “W.R.” in them. The best ones are from Jones Beach night one (front row), Red Rocks, Shoreline, Cincinnati night 2 and MSG3. There are others as well… was lucky enough to make it to 21 shows this year and have photos from all.

  9. gratefulcub Says:


    Yes, bow down in the glory that is Blue Jesus. It’s gonna be fun.

  10. HarryHood Says:

    The Higher Ground meetup is a go anytime you guys wanna get together. Pick a show and we can work out the details.

  11. fromthetub Says:

    @Mtich – strike that… I don’t have photos from RR1. I took 2 and they are blurry. LLFA.

  12. Neemor Says:

    Mitch, scroll up…..W.Rogell.

  13. Neemor Says:

    Hood, I want to come up when the Johnny B. Fishman Jazz Ensemble plays.
    Because that’s Phish and that would be cool.

  14. fromthetub Says:

    I think that was taken during Guyute.

  15. Neemor Says:

    Sorry, Wendy, that wasn’t really my place to do that.

  16. jdub Says:

    @tub, your photos from MSG 3 are beautiful, you captured the essence of a kuroda moment very nicely. As good as any phish pics I’ve seen

  17. marcoesq Says:

    whats up all, just got back from the backwoods of C’ville….what a trip!

    I’m a firm believer in the fact that the snow/weather definitely played into the whole ambiance of the show. I think it was a contributing factor to the level of intoxication of everyone around as well. What should’ve been a 3hr drive from Baltimore turned into a 6 hour jaunt down 95 in a star wars-like snowstorm

    The whole town was throwing down once we got there, definitely a college town feel that also brought the 5-0 out in full force. People were in a good mood though nonetheless

    Show was definitely off the hook, true there were a good amount of security coming around to each section (to dissuade smoking) but the venue had a very intimate feel, even though it seated 15K

    Floor was almost half empty towards the back and the sound was great. CK5 was in full force

    Naked guy….

  18. Mitch Says:

    let’s keep the lore going that I’m the man and run the show. It will be funnier when my false rep preceeds me. I’m FROM Indiana but LIVE in NYC. I get the old home court advantage at deer creek and the real home court advantage here in NYC. Loved the story tho, made me smile. Tell him he’s the man too. The bar hookup was random and through some friends but I don’t see why we can’t do that everyyear. Consensus was a good time had by all. Glad he had a blast tho.

  19. Mitch Says:

    And it’s funny, with robears waterwheel meetup we kinda were rolling with an entourage.

  20. Neemor Says:

    MSG ’09 Dance Tracks:
    Night 1: Antelope
    Night 2: Boogie On
    Night 3: You Enjoy Myself

  21. m00nshake Says:

    I wish I were able to go to the Miami shows, but I used up all of my work holidays and spent alot of dough getting up to and staying in NYC for three nights.

    I haven’t seen hundreds of shows, but I’ve seen a good selection of shows from 1993 until present, and the 3rd night of MSG is gonna rank up there with the best of them. In total agreement with First Tube, it was explosive!

  22. fromthetub Says:

    Thanks, Jdub. I really appreciate that. I’m such a visual person that grabbing shot during the show only enhances the experience for me. If I see something really cool now I know what will photograph really well, and what I need to be way close to capture.

  23. SillyWilly Says:

    @HarryHood and everyone else regarding IT

    ive never met any of you, but i get a hint of IT just reading the posts from today and yesterday.

    everyone needs to stay safe until the summer so more of us can meet eachother. i feel jealous in a good way that i havent met anyone from the board yet.

  24. Brimley Says:

    What song was it that Trey has the Doc up in the air, rock star style???

  25. marcoesq Says:


    That pic is from first tube. check out the youtube vid

Leave a Reply