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. Mr. Completely Says:

    never trust a Prankster

    I told y’all that right?

  2. BK Says:

    @Mr C and Mugician – Thanks for the concern. We’ve got a few months to figure it out, but I’m trying to view this as an opportunity. It’s easy to get complacent in a neighborhood you love, near your work etc, but the fact is we’ll never be able to afford living in NYC longterm, so maybe this is the push we needed to head to Brooklyn, or even somewhere out of state.

    Any recommendations from the board on cheap college towns? I went to school in Madison (holla SillyWilly) and loved it. We also loved visiting Chapel Hill/Durham. I’d love to find a positive, young community. Preferably with some phans, but at this point I’d be happy with just not being glared at on the street!

    Btw – I saw JB 1 & 3 and both Alpine’s this year, and MSG 1-3 was like a different band – confident, tight, joyous without hesitation. Good stuff

  3. flarrdogg Says:

    Mr C- We’re gonna hook up and peel back the onion a bit next time I’m down in PDX- probably sometime in early spring.

  4. Mr. Completely Says:

    are you set on the East Coast? Eugene ain’t bad. Neither is Portland of course 😮

    I grew up in Chapel Hill. I’d recommend Durham over CH. CH is a truly small town dominated by college undergrads and baby boomers. Durham is pretty fucking happening these days, at least in parts of it.

  5. NittyGritty Says:

    What up to all!! its been a while…

    So I’m typically not the kind of guy that has random, weird, or cool things ever happen to me, but in the past 4 days some ironic things have happened while listening to Phish. So Friday night I was on my way home from some hookah bar (stoned as tits, of course..) and I was blasting “Possum” as loud as my car stereo would go. Sure enough, about a mile and a half away from my house I hit and killed an opposum. I thought “holy shit.. haha wow”. Then Saturday night, my wife and I were on the way home from eating, and “Antelope” came on. From the time the song started we counted 12 deer running and grazing all along the side of the highway. I obviously know the difference between a deer and an antelope, but it was cool/ironic non the less. Then this morning on my way to work I was listening to a favorite “Slave” of mine, and you guessed it… I caught all 8 stoplights on my way to work and was 25 minutes late… but all I could do was smile..

    Sorry for long post, just thought it would be nice to share some phish irony with some cool people.

  6. BK Says:

    I got that vibe from Durham. Too many button down pink shirts for my taste in CH. The area was so much like Madison, with colleges and a state capital and a real laid back vibe. But without the brutal winter.

    My wife’s a NY-er, so staying at least relatively close to the east coast rules out the NW, unfortunately.

  7. SillyWilly Says:


    Move back to Madison!!! i mean its only supposed to snow 12 inches here by Wednesday morning.

    What about Charlotte? Two of my best friends live there and they absolutely love it. winters arent bad. Or what about a place like Knoxville, TN or Charleston, SC (I also have some friends there that love it).
    i guess it all probably depends on where you and your wife can find work.

  8. chefbradford Says:

    I like it NittyGritty. I was listening to the Hampton 98 Possum a few years back, nailed an opossum driving into town as the jam raged. Cracked me up

  9. SillyWilly Says:

    also, my girlfriend is from cleveland and the university circle area around Case Western and the Coventry area reminds me a lot of Madison.

  10. halcyon Says:

    Great Story NittyGritty!

    BK…If you want to stay in the NE…The Capital Region of NY. Tons of schools, tons of cool cats, tons of oddballs, access to the mtns, rivers, cities and states. The AG’s, Rudi’s, and other assorted goodness always abounds.

    Unfortuneately upstate NY like many places in the NE have very shaky economies. That being said, when its time for us to move back east (family reasons) that is one area we will be returning to. That is, if I can find a decent Job up there.

  11. BK Says:

    Trust me, I’ve been trying to persuade my wife to get back to badgerland for years now. I’m from Rockford, IL originally, so Madison has always been a special place for me. The closest good college, college sports, brats, head shops, etc etc

    Shot in the dark here, but since we all seem to be mildly obsessive fans who love acronyms, is anyone a DFW fan on this board? There’s a new short story of his in the New Yorker that’s making my evening…

  12. kb Says:

    “these four guys had been put on this earth to play music together! It was meant to be…”

    i totally agree.

    @ Mitch – that JB hood is my favorite musical moment of 3.0

  13. BK Says:

    I like it, we’ve got a BK, a kb, and Brandon K, who is often shortened to BK by others.

    I’ve got to get creative and get a new handle…

  14. Mr. Completely Says:

    The area was so much like Madison, with colleges and a state capital and a real laid back vibe. But without the brutal winter.

    But with a brutal summer. And rednecks. Serious ones.

    Those are the downsides, basically. They are considerable, in my opinion. But there are many things to be said for the area, and there are a lot of cool people living there.

    There are a ton of secret and not-so-secret hippies in Chapel Hill, in fact it (or the area right around it) is the capitol of the central carolina freak scene. Lotta artists and growers out in Orange County and such. But it’s much more a 60s generation thing, and in the habit of laying low.

    Oh! Asheville. Duh. Try Asheville for Jeebus’ sake. If you can find a job there. Which you probably can’t. But if you can, check it out! If we ever move back east (which I don’t want to do) there’s about a 90% chance it’d be Asheville.

  15. SillyWilly Says:

    im almost said, Asheville, Mr. C, but I refrained because of the job thing. Asheville is gorgeous. driving through there at 5 am on a long roadtrip you can feel the age of the earth in the smoky mountains. i always envision myself as a Cree Native American rolling out bed to the splendor. its one of the truly ancient places in America.

  16. SillyWilly Says:

    where is ol’ brandon kayda?…that kid is one of the great caller of songs ever. hes got a great career ahead of him.

  17. SillyWilly Says:

    ok so i felt unconfident about saying the Cree lived in the Smoky Mtns. I looked it up and the Cree live in Montana and Canada while it was the Cherokee who lived in the Smokies.

    my bad.

  18. Leo Weaver Says:

    @bk…based on what I know (which is limited to observations/comments of several friends who’ve had some connection to both, i.e. from one and school in another, etc), Athens, GA is the Madison of the South, just without lakes. It’s got a great music scene, has a walkable historic downtown with PLENTY of bars/restaurants/entertainment, art scene, flagship university at the core of the town, an hour from Atlanta, mild winters…I could go on and on. But like CH, it’s got brutal summers.

    Asheville would be great…I’d love to retire there someday and live on the top floor of one of the old downtown buildings.

    Charlotte, as someone mentioend above…I know for sure there’s at least one fellow PTer there 😉 and it’s a nice little city, but it’s very white-collar and pretty stuffy considering the banks and all…but it’s getting better. And 2 hours to the mountains, 3 hours to the beach.

  19. BK Says:

    Maybe the thought police from 1984 got him!

    Thanks for the suggestions guys. My wife’s a teacher, so she’s good pretty much anywhere, but I’m a shrink who works with college students, so I’ve got to find a college-dense area. So CH/Durham, Boston, the liberal arts areas in MA/NH, etc. is where we’re going to look. Or we may just wimp out and move to Brooklyn and be broke for the next decade!

  20. SillyWilly Says:

    well good luck, BK, and im sure youve got friends here in Madison, but if you ever need anything Ill be here for awhile.

  21. halcyon Says:

    BK….Upstate NY or MA, there are tons of schools there. Housing is cheap although property taxes are ski high, thats an entirely different discussion 😉

  22. BK Says:

    Thanks SW…I’m trying my best to make it back for a Wisco basketball game in January or early February, but with recent developments, that may be shelved…we’ll catch up soon I’m sure. Alpine at the latest!

  23. halcyon Says:

    Mr C….condolences to you and your Blazers. Oden has always been a humble hard worker. Too bad his body can’t handle his size and the demands the NBA demand.

  24. BK Says:

    OK, so no one bit on my David Foster Wallace question earlier, but I’m guessing Mr. C must be a fan and have read this story today, otherwise one of the craziest synchronicities ever just occurred.

    From this story: “…he thought I might suffer from a type of benign psychosis called ‘anti-paranoia’, in which I seemed to believe that I was the object of an intricate universal conspiracy to make me so happy I could barely stand it.”

    Ie, “pronoia” referenced by Mr. C a few pages back…

    Jesus, sorry to stray so far from phish over the past page or two. How bout that Light>Slave from MSG I huh??

  25. stitchstash Says:

    @ BK I just got home from school so I’m not caught up with all of the posts from today but I was happy to see that you are from Rockford. I graduated highschool in McHenry, IL not to far from you. Now my husband and I live in Buffalo. Like halcyon said, the economy isn’t so great here but there are a lot of amazing people and the city has a green vibe with a lot of schools to choose from.

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