The Fourth Set of Tour

11.20.09 (W.Rogell)

11.20.09 - The Crown (W.Rogell)

On some nights, creativity, energy and musical acumen converge in a frame of Phish that leaves us all glowing. Every Phish set has something to offer, but sometimes one can feel like Christmastime, as the sparkling musical gifts flow like creamy egg nog. Once in a while, the band eliminates all filler music and creates a cohesive experience that is greater than the sum of its individual parts. The first night of Cincinnati was one of these nights. Following three sets of legitimate, but less than full-on, Phish to start fall tour, The Crown’s second set immediately burst to the forefront with a confluence of improv and creative transitions, all bookended by deliciously addictive sessions of dance grooves. This set stoked an arena-sized fire, with a ripple effect that would be felt throughout the weekend, not to mention the rest of the tour.

11.20.09 (W.Rogell)

11.20.09 (W.Rogell)

After a composition-heavy opening frame, Trey sparked the kindling of the second set with the opening guitar-scratches of “Punch You In the Eye.” Able to tear through “The Landlady” section almost routinely again, the band has brought “Punch” into greater prominence as of late. Nary a more spirited set opener, its adrenalized rhythms quickly dialed up the intensity in the historic arena. And out of the trill apex of the song growled the opening licks of “Tweezer.” Immediately igniting the crowd with a much larger flame, Phish opened the freezer door for the first time of the fall, kicking off the season in earnest. At the onset of the jam, Trey set up shop with a sinister and repetitive lick. The band quickly morphed into a thick musical canvas, as Trey narrated an addictive guitar fantasy over the sparse and driving pattern. Taking his time and phrasing each idea with utmost care, he let his new-found swagger shine throughout this piece. Eventually making a change into his dirty, uncompressed tone, Red influenced Fish to alter his beat into a dirtier, snare-heavy scene, while his story took a left turn down a dark alley with smoke rising from potholes all around. Navigating the ominous environs, the band engaged in a sequence of grittier grooves that complemented the first half of the jam’s smoother planes.

11.20.09 (W.Rogell)

11.20.09 (W.Rogell)

Forcefully, Phish climaxed the piece with a creative build that saw Trey unleash a furious solo. Settling into a post-peak section of spacier funk, the band slid through a drone soundscscape into “Light.” Another in the growing series of transitions from dark “Tweezers” into “Lights,” Phish brought this modern combination indoors for the first time. Breaking out their newest vehicle for its initial voyage of fall, all of a sudden Trey transformed into an intense geyser of colorful melody, shooting guitar lines through the sky like he was born to do. A beautiful foreshadowing of the many transcendent versions that would follow in the coming weeks, “Light”stoked the evolving fire of this phenomenal frame.

Breaking down the high-speed jam into a more percussive realm, Phish seemed headed for a completely new milieu. But instead of moving outward, the passage playfully blended into “Get Back On the Train.” A song usually reserved for first sets came out of a completely spontaneous place, a sure-fire sign that Phish’s creativity had been piqued on this evening. In their third consecutive segue, the band moved naturally from the back-country funk into the musically similar “Possum.” Taking one of summer’s most commonly played songs on its first arena adventure, the band attacked the song with an aggression unseen in the amphitheatres of ’09. Enclosed within cement walls, the copious energy bounced around the room, creating a celebratory conclusion to the set’s initial suite. And soon after “Possum’s” final note came to a crashing close, Trey delicately strummed the opening to “Slave.”

11.20.09 (W.Rogell)

11.20.09 (W.Rogell)

In a slot where the band would usually insert a ballad, Phish keep right on chugging with a centerpiece version of one of their most well-loved songs. Showcasing ethereal textures, the band showed utmost patience in allowing this version to unfold organically. Trey, Mike, and Page were locked in a delicate conversation as Fish slowly increased his rhythmic backdrop. Each member phrased their playing masterfully, coming together in an soaring rendition. Infusing powerful emotion into his guitar work, Trey took this outing to the top with determination, upping the ante for the song over the next few weeks. And then the cherry on top – “You Enjoy Myself.”

"YEM" 11.20.09 (M.Stein)

"YEM" 11.20.09 (M.Stein)

Phish put an exclamation point on this set with a sequence of crunchy rhythms and thematic improv that left the many generic, guitar-based, summer versions of “YEM” in the dust. Fishman proved integral throughout this jam, contributing intricate and evolving rhythms, begging bodies to move subconsciously to the beat. Trey hooked up with an old signature lick, leading the jam into sparser territory, as Mike and Page swam melodies around him. Mike gained an enhanced presence as Trey switched over to some swank rhythm chords, playing all his cards in this one. Following this rhythmic seduction, Trey infused a completely original melodic theme into the mix, and the band jumped on board. Taking the jam away from its typical bubble-funk destination for the first time in ages, the band was finally doing something creative with “YEM.” At the end of their three-week tour, this version of stood head and shoulders above the rest, with MSG’s rendition more than a couple lengths behind. Having fallen into a somewhat generic formula during this era, “YEM” broke that model in Cincinnati, providing closure to a wildly creative set.

This jam-packed frame of music set the community abuzz, as everyone spilled out of The Crown into downtown Cincy. The first exceptional set of the indoor season had just gone down, and everybody understood. Tour was now fully underway. We sat, carefree, amidst the first two-night stand, with nothing to do but kick it until the next evening, and ten more shows staring us down. And after a set like this one, spirits floated through the night on cloud nine, awaiting nothing, and enjoying every moment of the ride.


Jams of the Day:

“11.20.09 Set II” (listen only)


Enjoy fall tour’s fourth set in its entirety. Punch, Tweezer > Light > Train > Possum, Slave, YEM.



11.20.09 The Crown, Cincinatti, OH < Megaupload

11.20.09 (W.Rogell)

11.20.09 (W.Rogell)

I: Chalk Dust Torture, The Moma Dance, The Divided Sky, Alaska, Water in the Sky, Fast Enough for You, Time Turns Elastic, Gotta Jibboo, Fluffhead

II: Punch You In the Eye, Tweezer > Light > Back on the Train > Possum, Slave to the Traffic Light, You Enjoy Myself

E: Joy, Golgi Apparatus, Tweezer Reprise

Source: (FOB) Schoeps mk22 > KCY > Schoeps VMS02IB > Apogee Mini-Me > SD 722 (@24bit/96kHz)

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648 Responses to “The Fourth Set of Tour”

  1. marcoesq Says:

    Great write up Miner, I was beginning to think that this show wasn’t gonna get any love!

    Anytime you start off with a Punch>Tweezer, you know shit’s ’bout to get dirty. Haven’t listened to the YEM yet but will get right on it

  2. SillyWilly Says:

    Sadly, I was not able to make the first night in Cinci. Some last minute things came up, but I made it to the bars in Dayton where a few of my friends were that had been at the show. I thought there was no way the second night was going to compete, but it did!

    I always think that eggnog is one of the most controversial beverages on the market. You cant talk about it with out getting a reaction out of someone.
    I love eggnog in all of its creamy, nutmeg-ish goodness.

  3. msbjivein Says:

    Nice Write Up Miner!! Loved the Cincy Run as Always.
    I’ve never missed a Crown show. One thing for sure is they never disappoint in Cincy!!! It’s up there w/ some of the BEST venues to see Phish for sure. Top 5 indoor venues IMO.

  4. SillyWilly Says:


    I agree about the Crown. That’s a great place to see Phish. I found all the staff and security to be pretty laid-back. Also, it was very easy to access off I-75. Just like a half mile from the free way.

  5. mattc Says:

    Great review. Cincy 1 set two shows me the boys still have it regardless of the lack of type II jamming that people keep pointing out. The transitions into BOTT and Possum were a blast to witness. I thought they were going into Possum after Light; the place really exploded when they finally found their way into Possum. Treys licks in this Tweezer, YEM and the Cobo DwD were nasty.

  6. Mitch Says:

    email me if you get a chance today. gorgemango at facemelt dot net.

    I just saw your post from yesterday and wanted to talk.

    you coming to the city this week? email me at my address you have so we can swap numbers.

  7. scott Says:


    nice write up, very much enjoyed that set as well. small sidenote though; after reading your blog for awhile now, i’m beginning to think you’re a littel confused as to what is compressed and uncompressed. guitar tones. often, trey uses a particular effect that you refer to as “dirty, uncompressed sounding”. this is slightly misguided.

    i am a guitar player and have also sat behind the stage for several shows this year and this tour. trey is pretty much back to using the ross full time now. i’ve noticed he turns it off for a couple of round room and undermined tunes (46 days and pebbles and marbles in particular) which makes sense considering those were created when trey wasn’t using a compressor at all. the tone you are referring to is a situation when trey uses an effect called a whammy pedal. it digitally simulates a variety of pitch shifting effects. one of them is the so-called “whale call”, another is the string bending effect he often uses in the rythem parts of piper, light, and disease jams, and another is the effect you hear in the aforementioned tweezer. trey almost always leaves the ross on when using this effect, which actually makes sense because it controlls the often piercing high end that can result from using the whammy. so, trey’s tone here is actually very much compressed.

    compression is a very subtle effect. just because something sounds distorted does not mean it is uncompressed. just a little sidenote, but figured you’d like to know.

  8. beepaphone Says:

    Great writeup, Miner!
    This will go down as one of the best sets I’ve ever seen. Madness, I tell you, and it was the first show for a couple of mind-blown, face-melted newbies I dragged along. I think this whole set has only one hiccup, and that seemed to be technical difficulties with Mike’s bass on the intro to Slave. Not the only time he had difficulties during tour, if I’m correct. Thanks again, Miner for another great coffee aid write-up!.

  9. Mr.Miner Says:

    @ scott

    “so, trey’s tone here is actually very much compressed. ”

    ^ half way through the tweezer it’s clearly not compressed. You may not know which part I am referencing, b/c your analysis of his other effects are certainly right on.

    and to clear up compression:

  10. Mr.Miner Says:

    The deep, murky guitar roars a la 2003 = uncompressed…which is featured in this Tweezer

  11. posterkid Says:

    One small thing I love about this YEM is how they continue the funk melody from the jam past Mike’s solo and into the vocal jam…that’s a trick they don’t do enough.

  12. cal Says:

    Aaaahhh…What a great companion piece to my first cup of coffee of the day. This was one of the best weekends of my life, and I have to agree that this “YEM” was the best of ’09 (so far). And honestly, with all due respect to the first 50 minutes of Albany 2, this is still my favorite full set of the year. I know it’s difficult to separate the joyous memory of being there from a critical assessment…but this set was virtually perfect from beginning to end, especially factoring in the encore. All those childhood traumas magically wiped away…along with most of my personality.

  13. Mr.Miner Says:

    can someone please confirm DotD is working?

  14. marcoesq Says:


    DotD is not working

  15. Carini's Dad Says:

    Apropos of nothing, what is the most random Phish lyric?

    My vote goes to Mike’s “Check it out” in the middle of Fluffhead.

  16. Chuck D Says:

    Miner, can you point out a time on the tweezer that it goes to non compressed?

  17. cal Says:

    posterkid: Yeah, I think it’s just rare these days that the traditional “YEM” instrumental jam ends with a cool enough theme to warrant that carryover; it’s largely kinda generic. But it’s one of those details about this performance that thrilled me to no end; for me, that was no small thing at all, it was one of those things I’d forgotten about that I needed reminding of. Man, I get warm shivers just remembering that…

  18. Mr.Miner Says:

    ^ weird – “temporarily unavailable”…lets see how this shakes out….

  19. Willowed Says:

    “while his story took a left turn down a dark alley with smoke rising from potholes all around. Navigating the ominous environs, the band engaged in a sequence of grittier grooves ”

    This line gave me a bonner!!

    Thansk Miner for making me chub out at work!!

  20. beepaphone Says:

    I got a “temporarily unavailable” yesterday, tried back 5 minutes later, and it worked fine.

  21. Chuck D Says:

    “Rip Van Winklin'” in sloth for most random lyric

  22. Mr.Miner Says:

    Dotd is working now….

    around the 8:00 min mark for the uncompressed tone…

  23. msbjivein Says:

    How about pretty much all of “REBA” as random lyrics…….

  24. sumodie Says:

    @scott: thanks for the contribution

    @miner: im off to read your old post on compression -thanks.

    some days here i feel like a 1st grader who knows next to nothing….

  25. albert walker Says:

    The Ross compression used in Trey’s tone is far from subtle
    He plays it at a higher level than most would.
    Throw in the twin tube screamers with the hallow body and its effect on tone is pretty extreme.

    Just listen to a Divided from the non Ross years.
    He does not get the creamy, feedbacked never ending sustain of the old school Phish sound.

    This time around he does have it dialed back a bit so it blends more with his non-compressed tone.

    The Ross is a boutique vintage compressor that has a pretty distinctive sound to it
    I own one and have played it a few times. Def the key to getting the Trey tone.

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