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. Gratefulcub Says:

    My back shall read “the captain”

  2. Gratefulcub Says:

    I have another idea – grey goose in the airport inspired. (drunk iPhone typing sucks)

    I loved today’s Memphis group listen. I am getting ready to board and listen on the plane.


    Let’s do it chronologically until Miami. Everyone post their favorite shows, I will consolidate, everyone can vote, and we end up with a show for each day until Miami. We can start in the early nineties and end up in 03/04, then we will have Miami. I can quarterback since it’s my dumbass idea.

    Good? Lame? Dude, that’s what miner does?


  3. albert walker Says:

    yeah C that Horse is great

    that is the first release from the vault
    been a work in progress for as long as I can remember

    what a great energy and unique sound for that era

    added that almost punk rock feel with the roots vibe

    Neil copped that loose, distorted heavy rock beat thing from the Horse and then just decided to make them his band

    there first record without Neil is one of my fav rock records of all time
    great stuff

  4. BingosBrother Says:

    @Ramble On talk : true story

    Walkin through the lot on the way in to Alpine me and my cousin hear Ramble On(Zeppelin version) comin from an old ass metal boombox tuned to a radio station. Could still kinda hear it as we embark upon the hill. Thoughts of nothing except what a bad ass last song before the show. Of course Phish knew it was my first show back since my brother died.
    Goddamn right I’m gonna ramble on and sing my song. Magic.

  5. Little Buddy Says:


    I’m definitely gonna keep you in mind on the jersey idea. very cool idea that could make some great gifts for birthdays and such in 2010. Nice!

  6. Lycanthropist Says:

    @ gus

    keep at it

  7. Phamily Berzerker 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)

    Ots of lurkers not opting in….. Boo, hiss.

    So far I will not be there. If the snow never comes to AZ(30 inches Tuesday with a storm scheduled to last omorrow through Sunday), I may last minute head thataway taboot.

    Today I sing tomorrow’s song…

  8. Phamily Berzerker Says:

    By Ots I intended to type “Lots”

    Too many jaeger shots this afternoon. Seriously.

  9. Lycanthropist Says:

    I completed my last day of work for the semester today!

    Off for four weeks straight.

    Got three gigs this weekend starting tonight.

    Looking like a good start to the holidays!

  10. BlackamoebaVoidBoy Says:

    Do we have to attend the show to get a jersey?

  11. Lycanthropist Says:

    add to my previous post:

    And having a Phish listening party next week!

  12. albert walker Says:


    listened to that last Chance Fisher show again last night
    be contacting you

    had to really listen to it a few times never hearing your shit before
    just stuck to one show and gave her a couple listens

  13. BingosBrother Says:

    Whatcha think A-Dub? Sane is a real dope ass tune. Gonna repost my story from Alpine 98. Im sure y’all have similar stories about phishidences and Id love to hear them.

    @Ramble On talk : true story

    Walkin through the lot on the way in to Alpine me and my cousin hear Ramble On(Zeppelin version) comin from an old ass metal boombox tuned to a radio station. Could still kinda hear it as we embark upon the hill. Thoughts of nothing except what a bad ass last song before the show. Of course Phish knew it was my first show back since my brother died.
    Goddamn right I’m gonna ramble on and sing my song. Magic.

  14. butter Says:

    random Phish story:

    me and my homie got our backpacks stolen at F8 during the first show
    we set them in an amateur spot, so our bad
    but we had been lulled into a sense of all good (which it was for the most part)
    luckily no wallets/keys/headies/tickets ect where in our packs …just personal belongings

    i took it really well, and just went with the freeing up from material goods trip

    i later realized probably my oldest material possession from Phish tour ( a woven blue hippy stocking cap ) should have been in that bag but it was cold that night and i just put it on. i think i traded a nug to a girl named Mary for it. She puts tags in them: Hippy Helmets by Mary

    I don’t cling to material items to tightly (although i have a lot) but that hat just wants to keep stickin around. came in super handy after walking out of msg drenched in sweat.

    i got a much doper messenger style bag from one of the vendors the next day.

  15. Lycanthropist Says:

    @aw –

    word.. no rush..

    dont forget about TSU though..

    as i said I really feel that might be up your alley..

  16. Lycanthropist Says:

    which show by the way @aw?

  17. albert walker Says:

    latest one

    I’m a simple man
    just started spinning the one on the top of the list

    sounds great though

  18. Lycanthropist Says:

    yeah thats a good one to start with

    I had been pimping 6.13 and 8.08 for starters, but Im pretty sure the latest one has made its way up that list

  19. chefbradford Says:

    Lycan, NOT excited about missing CF this wknd, AM excited at the prospect of possibly seeing you guys in January

  20. Lycanthropist Says:


    excited to have a PTer in the audience!

  21. Gratefulcub Says:

    On the Tarmac with Memphis 99. Been waiting for this all day. Resisting urge to skip first set.

  22. chefbradford Says:

    It’s not a sure thing yet, but definitely shoot me some January dates if/when you get them lined up. And I certainly look forward to hearing this weekend’s shows soon

  23. chefbradford Says:

    I missed Memphis 99 (would’ve been my first show) because I was in the process of moving south (I grew up in TN). Missed New Orleans 99 for the same reason. FML

  24. Lycanthropist Says:


    will keep you informed

  25. Gratefulcub Says:

    Chef brad. Really a chef? We had a peppadew pepper convo a few pages back.

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