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. beepaphone Says:

    Peter King jokingly stated today that the Steelers would “upset” the Browns

  2. beepaphone Says:

    With apologies to BTB

  3. neemor Says:

    Peter King is a funny man.
    I can see that now.

  4. Mr. Palmer Says:

    MSG 2 is the one show i haven’t gotten a chance to really hear yet. Thanks for getting it up so quick Miner! Family constraints forced me to miss this one (did get to 1 and 3). The auds really bring the energy from the Garden thru the speakers. I usually stick with the sbds, but with the MSG energy, the auds are great to have as well.

    Re: ghost Chili- anyone watch that nutjob on Man v Food. he takes those things down like pez!

  5. flarrdogg Says:

    Memephis ’99 was a fun show…home of Elvis- Cities encore. So was Oak Mtn. NOLA ’99 was a hometown show for me- I’d moved down there about a year prior. The UNO Lakefront Arena is a great place to catch a show- great sound. Michael Ray on trumpet for Funky Bitch, Mozambique, and Cavern. They were raging it. Good times- cool to do Phish shows in the southland.

  6. neemor Says:

    Can’t choose Memphis Pyramid, flarr, that was today’s SOTD

  7. butter Says:

    @aw – the hyatt thats walking distance, thats where i’m at

  8. flarrdogg Says:

    ^not in the ‘favorite shows’ catergory- somebody was talking about memphis a couple pages back.

  9. kb Says:

    i met a guy outside heinz field after star lake this summer. he ended being head of PR for the steelers and gave me a private tour. his son went to the same college i did so i guess that opened up the door. very nice stadium.

  10. flarrdogg Says:


  11. flarrdogg Says:

    I’m outta the loop.

  12. Mr. Palmer Says:

    This was a badass show fwiw. from the 1st note till the last.
    Philly ’99

    Set I: Harry Hood, Mike’s Song > Simple > I Am Hydrogen > Weekapaug Groove, When the Circus Comes, Scent of a Mule, Cavern

    Set II: Boogie On Reggae Woman > Sneakin’ Sally Through the Alley > Ghost > Also Sprach Zarathustra > Down with Disease

    Encore: Possum

  13. chefbradford Says:

    I caught Radiohead at UNO Lakefront in…2003, I think? Amazing show, great venue, ridiculously tight security

  14. chefbradford Says:

    That 2nd set Philly is mouthwatering

  15. beepaphone Says:

    Wow…yeah…also, that show is on Miner’s archive, so..um..yeah…downloading it now. Holy Funking 2nd set!

  16. flarrdogg Says:

    Palmer- Philly night 1 was no slouch either (tweez opener)- I was at both these puppies.

  17. flarrdogg Says:

    What is SOTD? Help a brotha out.

  18. beepaphone Says:

    Show of the day is my guess

  19. neemor Says:

    Yeah, sorry “show of the day.”

  20. flarrdogg Says:

    beep- you won’t be disappointed with philly- holy fucking 2nd set indeed. Are folks all listening to the same shows now and breaking them down? Cool idea.

  21. neemor Says:

    Yeah, flarr….go back a page or two…
    gratefulcub offered to compile our fave shows that we attended and have a SOTD where we all offer our thoughts on the show…
    Like Memphis today.

  22. beepaphone Says:

    Miner wrote very fondly of that show too. Said it’s a major contender for best Spectrum show ever, along with 12/15/1995

  23. flarrdogg Says:

    Go back a page, or two? Laziness= my middle name. I love the idea of compiling hottest shows different folks have attended. 11-17-97 was the sickest show I have ever seen any band throw down in the flesh. Been chasing it ever since.

    Good night, all. Packing for Alaska- flying tomorrow. And yes- I did load up on bug spray and found my daddy’s tent. I’m in high gear…

    Touch back in a week. Peace

  24. beepaphone Says:

    love that 11/17 Tweezer. great show

  25. beepaphone Says:

    Safe travels flarr

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