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. fromthetub Says:

    Neemor, not a problem.

    @Grateful: this is great!! HA! “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.”

    OK all, I’m out for a while. Happy, happy oh my friend.

  2. jdub Says:

    @neemor, and a lot in between, I would put cities in MSG 2 but otherwise straight up dance funk. YEM offered such variety of dance moves I actually played T’ai chi with drawn out notes of the nirvana section.

    @All who have posted about amazing MSG experience, you all wrote about and clearly expressed the same feelings I had to a T, remarkable but like you all stated, it felt like we owned the nights, such confidence in being free to swim with the notes. It really was my dream phish getaway, easy in, easy out. Three nights of top grade phish, a community of like minded folks to revel in the magic that ensued. Priceless.

  3. She Divides Says:

    hey all…what a weekend in C’ville! We had an amazing time!! Highly recommend Wild Wing Cafe for sports viewing in C’ville!
    The show was powerful and awesome. It’s hard to pick out high points since the whole thing was smoking and perfect for our group which ranged from people with extreme phish experience, to the seriously obsessed in the last year (that’s me), to first timers.

    I had been wanting a stealing time, and divided is *of course* always a highlight for me–especially when played so well! Tweezer>Light>Piper>Free was fantastic…I have always liked Free but it was particularly impressive to me on Saturday, as was the entire 2nd set .

    Security for us was non-existant, I had a wide variety of items hidden in my shirt, walked in with no problems, and enjoyed them in our seats with no issue during the show either. The people around us were pretty chill. We were dismayed by the streaker (although the antelope lyric is so priceless) and the glowsticks on stage. I like a good glow stick war (a la fluffhead at Indio) but it’s never ok for them to end up on stage. Exiting the arena after the show from the 100s was a cluster. Hallways seemed very narrow, and hot and there just wasn’t enough space for everyone (I don’t think I was the only one feeling this way 😉

    I can’t think of a better ending to Fall tour, and my Phish 09!

  4. Mr. Completely Says:

    waving the guitar Jedi style these days is usually First Tube ending section

    just lettin it howl

  5. Neemor Says:

    Huh, funny thing…
    I was sitting here thinking that a lot of the friends that you have from say, high school/college age are one’s that you can very often acquire by default.
    I mean, for the most part.
    Most of them you latch on to when undertaking a new experience, high school, college years, hazing fraternity, etc….
    The cats that I met this week though, these were people that I chose to be friends with.
    Ones that I got to select not only by separating them out of general population, but segmenting even narrower into Phish fans, and even further still be cool Phish phans.
    Now I have a group of friends that I will be able to call on as I walk this Earth to enjoy time with and experience things through similar eyes…
    I guess it’s just very different for me….
    I remember commenting more than once that there wasn’t a better group of people I could have picked to be around and discuss things with then the people surrounding me.
    And you were almost complete strangers!
    Weird how this all worked out.
    Enough sappy shit.
    I’m gonna go eat some tree bark and punch my brother.

  6. Mr. Completely Says:

    hey so it’s real interesting watching peeps try to wrap their heads around where phish is at now

    I think what’s confusing is that while they’re still playing the game by the same rules as they always have, the victory conditions have changed

    one of the key points about phish from my perspective is that they did not seem to have an end in mind up until now – by “end” I mean goal – a purpose to be achieved.

    Not talking about the music here. Talking about what’s actually going on in the room, that the music is a vehicle for, or a doorway leading into…

    anyway one interesting characteristic to me of Phish shows is that they’d kind of pull everyone (well, not everyone, but everyone that was in the game) out of their bodies and minds and shoot them out into hyperspace and then…

    well, and then it was kind of just left to happen on its own.

    There’s a lot to be said for that approach. It’s democratic, you know. Either something can emerge from the collective, or everyone can go their own way. I’m not saying this approach was lacking. Just that that’s what it was.

    Pretty sure that’s not the case anymore.

    When they say they want us to be happy, I don’t think they mean right then. Of course we’re happy then. We’re at a Phish show. Duh.

    Not to condescend to his former self, ’cause I don’t mean it that way, but I think Trey has a lot more to say about life now than he used to. To be honest, I never used to think of him as a guy that had anything to teach me, except musically. He was the master of the clever mindfuck, but once he had you in he palm of his hand, to me, the trick itself was all there was.

    Now he has a lot on his mind and a lot to say about it.

    He got lucky. Really, really lucky. People who drive around as loaded as he was when they busted him are on the verge of death. He could have lost everything. He could have lived, and lost his life….

    But he didn’t. I can relate to that. I went through some shit. I lost a lot. But I learned a lot. And now I have…well, not everything, but everything that matters.

    And as you have noticed, I want to share the view of life that I have been left with, because it is a beautiful and really ecstatic way to live.

    Maybe I’m just projecting, but I don’t think so.

    The music is just a means to a larger end. If that was debatable, or at least unprovable, before – well, I think those days are past now.

    Trey has made some changes in his life for the better. Maybe some of the other guys, too. They’re happy. They want you to be happy. They can’t make you rich, but they can give you clues.

    What’s that song Light about anyway? The one they kept playing so relentlessly and with such transcendent success?


  7. Chuck D Says:

    I’m gonna go eat some tree bark and punch my brother.

    rofl and then llfa

  8. Chuck D Says:


    Mr. C is to the Truth as a white is to snow.

  9. Leo Weaver Says:

    yes, the Return of the Jedi Trey picture is incredible!

    @jdub, your last 3 sentences there sum it all up for me…was glad to shake your hand at Blarney Stone, wish we’d had more time to chat it up

  10. SillyWilly Says:

    Mr. C,

    i told you, you were the Homer, the Virgil, the Chaucer of this tribe.

    thanks for sharing.

  11. Frankie Says:

    Well, that was a hard day at work… back to reality. What a great week in NYC! It just went by so fast…

    So much fun meeting a bunch of you guys (PBS, KWL, jdub, HarryHood, purplehumpbackwhale, Neemor (the man who can grab a women’s breast without her noticing! 🙂 ), sumodie (thanks for the ticket!), Leo (enjoyed that first set/setbreak thursday with you!), gavinsdad! You guys are all really great people and i really hope we meet again soon! Sorry for people i did meet and don’t remember… that’s butter’s fault! :p

    Robear, funniest man alive! Had a blast with you & Mitch, glad you got your faith back on friday! What a second set!

    Mitch & Kyra, the best hosts one could ever have! You all know by now about the Mango Man but i still needed to thank him publicly for everything! He deserves the praises! Thank you my friend! Forever grateful! 🙂

    Can’t wait to see you all again at future shows and meet the ones i missed!


    So much new Phish to listen to now… can’t wait to dig into that! The only thing i relistened to closely is that Light jam from msg wednesday with Mitch and Robear, which we thought had a strong Gorge Sally hose feel… I can’t stop listening to it!

    If we get onto it (although i’m back to slacker mode…), watch out for the Phish Space ’09 mix which me and Mitch want to make out of some deep space Phish hit in the 2009 sound… you know when Page hit that space keyboard… wwwhhhhhiiiiiiiiiii! Should be fun! 🙂

    THANK YOU PHISH & MR. MINER! What a year has 2009 been! 🙂

  12. Neemor Says:

    Well said, Mr. C.
    Return of the Jedi, how did that not strike me until just then….?
    To me, things like that are sometimes too broad of a picture to fit into my narrow skull, but that feeling of what you’re talking about is about right.
    It felt ‘dirty’ before.
    Now it feels ‘clean’.
    And that’s due (in no small part) to the fact that the band is clean (or cleaner-or whatever), and the scene feels cleaner….especially after meeting someone so deLIGHTful in Waterwheel.

    It’s a good time to know this band and be a part of what’s to come.

    Munching, punching……

  13. yematt Says:

    wow, very well said Mr. C. It is crazy that Phish can affect our lives on so many levels. Last year when Phish came back from the dead, I was going through some serious hell and was a at very low point in my life. And right as Hampton had come and gone things had started to turn around. I picked up a book called, “A New Earth” that was give to me as a birthday present a few months before and after reading that life was really starting to take a new positive direction that I didn’t ever foresee happening. And now “Light” has almost that exact same message as “A New Earth” tried to convey. It’s hard to put into words how this whole collective of music, life and being connects to us, but it is truly beautiful when it all forms into one bundle of joy. cheers to phish and tom marshsall.

  14. Neemor Says:

    It was a real pleasure.
    You are indeed nuts, as I illustrated earlier today with the way you crossed the street “Frogger style”, but it was fun as hell.
    I will be working on my smooth French Canadian accent for a long time, I’m pretty sure that would get me laid!
    Until we meet again.

  15. Chuck D Says:

    Yematt, check out The Power of Now, Eckhart Tolle’s first (?) book. I consider it to be my spiritual document of choice.

    A total phish head in boulder caught me in my back yard listening to a trippy ’92 show, ill have to pull the date later, during my first LSD experience and pointed me towards that book. It has changed my life and Phish was an intigral part of that.

  16. Chuck D Says:

    and with that, to the man I know as Steady Eddy, thank you.

  17. BigNasty Says:

    I’m gonna hook the ‘ol laptop to the plasma/home theater tonight and check out that 1st Tube vid.

    Damn good reading here today…great positive vibes…a nice break while the shit storm known as work rages on….

    Thanks all.

  18. BK Says:

    My God, this board has been such a warm bath of love and positivity for the scene and each other and the band the past week or so.

    After seeing a few shows this summer and obsessively reading/lurking this board for a year, I was so, so pumped to see the MSG run, just one subway stop from my apartment. Best friend came out from the Midwest and everything.

    Then on Wednesday I rush home from work, ready to get things going before the show, and my wife tells me that we got an eviction notice in the mail that day, and are going to have to move. Talk about a mindfuck, a head-space 180.

    It is a true testament to this band, and the community it’s created, that I’ve been able to stay (intermitantly) positive over the past 5 days, and a big part of that has been seeing how much love and joy has been shared and admitted to on this board. I didn’t make it to the meet up, and so only met Robear at the WW stand, but Mitch kudos to you for making this procrastination a community for a lot of folks. And of course, Miner, for giving us all the space to commune over shared passions.

    Sorry for the long post, but working as a shrink, I see way too much sadness, despair, and alienation day to day. Beacons of light deserve to be recognized, and celebrated.

  19. Leo Weaver Says:

    @frankie…I had an absolute blast with you and Mitch on thursday, hate I missed friday…and huge thanks for the extra beer hand on our setback journey! you guys are gonna have to follow the lines going south next year for a show or two. I think I’m gonna try to make it up for a short northeast run next summer. Shoot me an email: cannondawg at gmail dot com

    @Mr. C…what can I say but wow…you just expressed something I’ve been trying to put my finger on, very well said. Light has been such a wonderful part of ’09 on SOOOO many levels…MVP hands down IMO.

    @neemor…you’re on FI-YA today man!

  20. Frankie Says:

    Yeah man! We will for sure! 🙂
    The accent came out more and more as the night progressed and my state of mind did too… 🙂

    In the end, i had no words left but Awesome! Crazy! Sick! 🙂

    And thank you!

  21. yematt Says:

    @ chuckd – The Power of Now is actually next on my list to read. I kind of wish I read that first. That man really knows how to explain things in the most comprehensive way. I kind of wish I read the power of now first but I can’t wait to start it once my winter break. My brother owns it so I will definitely give it a read once my winter break starts. powerful stuff.

  22. yematt Says:

    ^repeated lines, d’oh!

  23. Leo Weaver Says:

    @frankie/mitch…lemme know when you get that Phish Space ’09 mix done, I like the sound of it…that wwwhhhhhiiiiiiiiiii! thing Page does makes me smile…big smile 🙂

  24. chefbradford Says:

    thumbs up Mr C

  25. Mugician Says:

    Thanks for sharing Mr. C.

    And what a ride it’s been. For everyone. You cannot deny it when a band can unite a populace in such unique, deep, meaningful, true ways that the band is something very special. So special is the band and the scene that drives it that it becomes inappropriate to give the experience such a trivial name. Band implies entertainment, and this thing we’re so lucky to be a part of goes way past that. I’m glad to share this with you guys, though I haven’t met any of you. Keep on keepin’ on. And cheers.

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