Spinning In Circles

12.3.09 (W.Rogell)

12.3.09 (W.Rogell)

Energy – the word is thrown around quite a bit in reference to Phish. Oft cited examples are: “That set had such high-energy!” “Time Turns Elastic sucked all the energy out of the room.” “The energy of the show suffered from all the drunk frat boys.” “You could feel the energy in The Garden last night!” Regardless of cultural identity or the number of shows one has seen, one of the defining qualities of the Phish experience how the abstract concept of energy comes to life. Energy depends on the band; energy depends of the fans; energy depends on the dynamic exchange between the band and their audience. As Phish stepped into the arenas of the east, and out of the amphitheatres of the summer circuit, the phrase that best describes the experience of fall shows is “intense collective energy.”

12.2.09 (W.Rogell)

12.2.09 (W.Rogell)

While fall tours have historically cranked the intensity level of the entire experience, Phish’s first fall tour since 2000 was destined to explode in white-hot fire. And if anything characterized the band’s performances throughout the tour, it was the tightly wound, explosive quality of their playing. With the ability to nail their songs precisely again, the band could let loose and allow their soul to flow into the music rather than think about what notes to play. What used to be a given about Phish in their prime, took almost a year to recapture – the subconscious flow of energy into their music. Thought processes seemed to fade away as the band embraced each moment of every song, measure and note. Phish imbued each phrase and beat with a renewed energy and enthusiasm that often resulted in raging, high-energy rock jams. Feeding off the band’s fervor, the audiences across the board responded ferociously, and the famed interplay between Phish and their live audience was reborn in a way it simply could not have been months earlier and in outdoor amphitheares.

12.4.09 (G.Lucas)

12.4.09 (G.Lucas)

Beginning in The Crown, as Cobo carried the feel of a dress rehearsal, every single night was underlined by a palpable energetic interplay between everyone in the building. The band had regained confidence in their playing, and could again pull off the blistering runs of notes and bizarre time signatures that characterized their earlier days, and they were proud to show everyone. Trey played with an abandon we hadn’t seen in ages, tearing apart solos while nailing fugues. Page’s confidence brimmed as strong as ever, as his piano leads often drove the band in certain directions. His bold, melodic theme gets all the credit for pushing Trey out of his comfort zone and kicking Albany’s “Seven Below” into orbit. Mike, as on top of his game as anyone, pushed his own playing to new territories within the context of the band, using more notes and heavier effects, while influencing the destiny of many whole-band excursions. Fishman, who many feel needs to step his game up, still provided more than enough fuel to frame the fire. The result? The incredibly fierce, yet not always exploratory, music that laced fall tour.

This same energy that defined the band’s spirited playing also went into their improv when they chose that route. Whether structured or open jamming, Phish almost always succeeded in shredding most every song they played. When they did take risks, they took them with the same energy that defined their tight compositions and six-minute songs, resulting in some incredibly sublime moments sprinkled throughout the tour. And the crowds fed like vultures off this energy. Peaking with a series of insane moments at Madison Square Garden, this fall will always be remembered for the magnified return of the Phish community’s unbridled energetic interplay.

12.5.09 (J.Thomas)

12.5.09 (J.Thomas)

Cincinatti’s “Split Open and Melt.” Syracuse’s “Piper > BBFCFM.” Philly’s “Bathtub Gin.” Albany’s “My Friend, My Friend,” and the awing “Seven Below > Ghost.” Maine’s “Undermind.” Charlottesville’s “Hood.” These are some of the most unadulterated energetic moments of tour. But there were two moments at MSG that stand up to any collective experiences I’ve witnessed at Phish. Something happened during 12.3’s “Fluffhead” peak, and 12.4’s “First Tube.” Anyone who was there will attest to it, though the actual moments are, literally, indescribable. A simultaneous, religious catharsis of 20,004 people blended together as one glowing ball of light, somehow contained by the bouncing floors and elastic walls of The Garden. Tidal waves of emotion, gushing like whitewater, flooded the mid-town arena in two perspective-altering episodes.

Regardless of the fanbase’s varying opinions on fall’s musical results, nobody can deny that Phish is, unquestionably, into it again. Clearly performing for the love of the game, Trey – specifically – looked like a kid in a candy store all tour long, living his refound dream. The band has refocused their energy on personal happiness and harnessing their emotion through their musical expression, and they are certainly accomplishing that goal. Seemingly carefree onstage again, the comfort and swagger of Phish has returned, and as we prepare to turn the calendar to 2010, that’s as good as an omen as any.


Jam of the Day:

Disease > Piper > Fluffhead” 12.3


The centerpiece of The Garden’s second show.



12.3.09 Madison Square Garden, NYC, NY < Torrent

12.3.09 Madison Square Garden, NYC, NY < Megaupload

headerI: Punch You In the Eye, Backwards Down the Number Line, Axilla, Taste, Boogie On Reggae Woman, Stash, Lawn Boy, Time Turns Elastic, Back on the Train, Julius

II: Down with Disease > Piper > Fluffhead, Cities > Free, Halley’s Comet, Also Sprach Zarathustra > David Bowie

E: Character Zero

Source: Schoeps mk41> KC5> M222> NT222> Lunatec V3> SD 722 (@24bit/48kHz)

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529 Responses to “Spinning In Circles”

  1. voopa Says:


  2. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    deep, if I remember correctly, it had to do with what key the songs were all in. D I think?

  3. SOAM Says:

    I really think of Circles as a Trey tune…how many time has phish played it?

  4. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    dang, I got voopa-ed.

    SOAM, I think the answer is twice.

  5. whole tour! Says:

    think “circles” was played 2 times on fall tour 99:


  6. whole tour! Says:

    we are also well over due for a “come on baby, lets go downtown” and “ride captain ride” in miami.

  7. msbjvein Says:

    MMMMMMMMMMMMmmmmmMMMY SOUL!!!! is due.

  8. whole tour! Says:


  9. Neemor Says:

    If you guys want to get together and create a design like that…let me know.
    I’d love to do it again….

  10. Mr. Completely Says:

    Neemor, as far as I know you’re the only other Phish fan besides myself that likes Will It Go Round In Circles

    It got bagged on incessantly at the time and still does, I’ve never heard anything but negative things about it online

    I caught it at the Gorge and really thought it was fun

    The Billy Preston original is dope as well of course

  11. Mr. Completely Says:

    “I’ve got a dance that ain’t got not steps
    Gonna let the music move me around…”

    I mean come on, that might as well be my theme song

  12. albert walker Says:

    Billy P is the man
    love me some circles
    his first couple albums are quite nice

    but Come on Baby is one of my fav rock songs of all time
    check out Crazy Horse’s version on their first record sung by Danny Whitten

  13. albert walker Says:

    I’ve stated this before but I think they played Ride Captain Ride when Page’s wife was at shows as a joke cuz it was one of her fav tunes back in the day

    giving the divorce probably a long shot

    who knows though, maybe as a diss

  14. whole tour! Says:

    “pretty bad when your dealing with the man and a light shines in your eyes…yeah!”

    story of my asheville trip…lol

  15. Marshall Says:

    copy the list….paste it….and add your name:
    miami phishthoughts attendees:
    1) Whole Tour!
    2) msbjivein !!!
    3) sumodie
    4) butter
    5) llamalee
    6. Marshall

  16. arbitropia Says:

    Great post, Miner.

  17. albert walker Says:

    copy the list….paste it….and add your name:
    miami phishthoughts attendees:
    1) Whole Tour!
    2) msbjivein !!!
    3) sumodie
    4) butter
    5) llamalee
    6. Marshall
    7. Albert Walker

  18. albert walker Says:

    Come on Baby is one of the earliest songs about white cats copping in the hood

    VU Waiting for My Man probably the 1st coming out in the late 60’s.

  19. BigNasty Says:

    copy the list….paste it….and add your name:
    miami phishthoughts attendees:
    1) Whole Tour!
    2) msbjivein !!!
    3) sumodie
    4) butter
    5) llamalee
    6. Marshall
    7. Albert Walker
    8. BigNasty and BigNasty’s wife

  20. Mitch Says:

    Just jumping on here. People dont like will it go round in circles? News to me too. I can dance to that all night. Esp the real version. Fun cover.

    Miami peeps. You should make a spreadsheet. Use the http://www.tinyurl.com/msgmeet and make a new page if you want to.

  21. Phamily Berzerker Says:

    InCorrecto Señor C, I too like the song. I saw the other perfomance in Tucson.

    The lyrics indeed present morsels of truth.

  22. Marshall Says:

    Mitch / Whole Tour

    I updated Mitch’s spreadsheet with the names posted so far (and copied over the information from the MSG tab that was relevant)

  23. Neemor Says:

    Good tune, ‘Circles….

    What with the energy talk and all, what do you guys think a Sabotage would do to the crowd nowadays? Or is that cover no longer poignant? (Was it ever?)

    I could also deal with a resurface of Rhinoceros….

  24. Marshall Says:

    I loved the Beastie Boys, but I like the sampling and rapping more than the punk rock grunge stuff (as novel as it was). In my humble personal opinion, I think it’s no longer poignant.

  25. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    I’d like them to bust out Ramble On again. Loved that when they opened Alpine Valley with it in 98.

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