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. Marshall Says:

    There aren’t many Zeppelin songs that I would not enjoy hearing covered. I’ll take just about anything from that catalog anyday.

  2. albert walker Says:

    Paul’s Boutique

    one of the greatest albums ever made
    and I am not a Beastie’s fan

    the samples the Dust Brothers use on that shit is beat perfection

    did not understand the Sabotage song at all or Phish’s desire to cover it

  3. Marshall Says:

    AW – I actually mentioned Paul’s Boutique initially and then edited my post. My first rap album love. From there I went on the Public Enemy and Fear of a Black Planet (also very loop/sample heavy). There are audible tracers all throughout that Paul’s Boutique. A landmark album in my opinion.

  4. gus Says:

    oh my gosh. learning this last bit of fluffhead is so hard! there are so many crazy chords that are so hard to figure out on the piano!

  5. jay Says:

    That Ramble On at Alpine was the chills. Absolutely loved it.

  6. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    Paul’s Boutique is a classic. Fantastic album through and through. Wore out more than one copy of that in high school and college.

  7. Marshall Says:

    In my best Bela Karoyle voice … “You can doo it, gus. You can doooo it!”

  8. Neemor Says:

    To expand on my earlier post, if this interests anyone:
    In the light of tee shirt design being carried out on this site….
    If anyone wanted to design a more ‘substantial’ jersey for show wearing, where imagination is really the only barrier, let me know…It’s what I do.
    Some of you saw the Antelopes Jersey.
    Basically a baseball jersey with a piping trim, ‘tackle twill’ lettering (fabric sewn on-heavy duty), twill numbers, names, patches sewn…think ‘Authentic Jerseys’ of your favorite sports team for around $75+.
    Football, Basketball, Soccer, Hockey jerseys are all fair game….
    Think along the lines of the Knicks jersey idea that was brought up surrounding MSG.
    Or a nice Hockey sweater for Fall tours (and beyond)….usually more expensive, but you get the idea…
    Generally, a six piece minimum is required for this type of quality work, but if there’s enough interest….a really cool way to identify with the band.
    And with each other….and excessively cool conversation piece of art, IMO….
    (I can’t tell you how many conversations this starts at a show…how many new people I’ve met-some of you saw the interest at Rattle and Hum meet up in The City).
    We would basically have to come to consensus on team name and color base, but from there, names, numbers, different patches you may have or find from then on in, all can be customized and created in your mind’s eye….

    Let me know what you guys think, because I’m ready for a new one!

  9. Marshall Says:

    The cassette versions of Paul’s were cool, instead of white/off white or clear plastic, the cassettes were colored (yellow, green, red, etc.).

  10. albert walker Says:

    vinyl copy is dope as hell

    double vinyl on old school Columbia circle rainbow label
    printed just for that record
    new label had been used for a long time

    folds out to show the whole Brooklyn street shot

    and I really don’t like them at all
    so this praise is really killing me

  11. Marshall Says:

    I have a blank cassette that contains some mixes (done by the band) of certain songs of Paul’s Boutique that were serious throwdown-quality tracks. Who on here has the equipment to transfer cassette to digital audio file?

  12. Marshall Says:

    On the flipside of the cassette are some tripped-out mixes of Fight Like a Brave and a couple other RHCP songs off Uplift Mofo Party Plan (another terrific album).

  13. gus Says:

    why is the joy box $100 now on dry goods? I could have sworn it was $85 when I bought it.

  14. Neemor Says:

    Pre-order cost v. current retail.

  15. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    Neemor, I might have to take you up on that offer for designing shirts. Might be a couple of months before I could pull it off, but it would be good to start designing. What’s the best way to go about this?

  16. yanzlow 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
    9. Yanzlow (I think)

  17. Marshall Says:


    It’s now in use for Miami

  18. Chuck D Says:

    gotta come up with a theme for the jersey; the tight playing of 2009 might foreshadow a skin tight ice skating leotard with fishman’s mumu print?

  19. Mr. Completely Says:

    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

    was just listening to the Crazy Horse Live at the Fillmore version the other day

    so great

  20. Neemor Says:

    We’ll just talk about it as we go along, no rush or anything.
    Maybe in time for next hockey season (or football season.)
    For football jerseys, there are sites like this one from Rawlings (where the Antelopes jersey came from): http://www.rawlings.com/uniformbuilder/
    To get ideas of what color combinations look like, etc.

  21. M00NSHAKE Says:

    I saw someone with the JOY boxset after the show in Charlottesville. That thing is massive! I don’t think I’ve ever seen a boxset that size before…

  22. Willowed Says:

    Back from work, now I can get back to my senseless activities!!

  23. Neemor Says:

    For example, I just designed a sweet looking football jersey with ‘GAMEHENDGE’ across the front…fun to play with and think about.
    We’ll talk.
    Time to go home now, see you guys.

  24. HarryHood Says:


    Sorry man. Didn’t mean to throw an idea at you and then bail. Had to drive home and then do the typical after work chores. Get mail, take out garbage, check on the pornstar that I’ve got tied up in my closet……. You know what I mean.

    Definitely down with the jersey idea. We can gather some ideas and go from there. I’m calling Hood for the back of mine now though!

  25. Gratefulcub Says:

    Neemor, I’m in. One vote for soccer jerseys, although I know I will lose this vote.

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