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. VoidBoy Says:

    How as Wilco… heard some good things. Always wanted to check them out.

  2. VoidBoy Says:

    Re: Wilco. I walked into a Art store picking up supplies and heard the last track to “A Ghost is Born” and was blown away.

  3. chefbradford Says:

    For me, Wilco’s albums peaked with Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, and to a lesser degree, A Ghost Is Born. Sky Blue Sky hasn’t done much for me. It’s a good, mellow, record, but I loved the dark drones and effects of Yankee, Ghost, and some of their older stuff. Being There is a fantastic, earlier double album, Summerteeth is good, but Yankee is a whole ‘nother thing! Their live shows are still on point though

  4. chefbradford Says:

    Jeff Tweedy’s earlier band, Uncle Tupelo, is terrific “alt-country”

  5. VoidBoy Says:

    “Yankee Hotel Foxtrot”

    I heard the studio (Columbia?) would release them album. I think there was a documentary that went along with the recording of it as well. Yeah, a lot of “country” influences which is fine if (for me) if it borders on the ‘folk’.

  6. Mr. Completely Says:

    i hardly ever listen to any of that fusion stuff either but in its way its great music

    I dug it for awhile – weather report, return to forever, larry coryell, mahavishnu

    don’t really listen to that Joni album much either honestly but it’s worth hearing…Joni Mitchell at her best was really great, the lyrics are just devastating and the jazzy phrasing kills

    that Mingus album of hers is really odd

  7. VoidBoy Says:

    oops “wouldn’t”

  8. Mr. Completely Says:

    Wilco has covered some territory in the course of their career, I guess when I first saw them, they were kind of a country flavored roots rock band, with tons of guitars, sort of like Crazy Horse but less crazy, very very loud and rocking. They have gotten a lot more chill and acoustic-y over the years I guess

    a lot of my friends just loooooove them some wilco

  9. chefbradford Says:

    Columbia hated what they’d done, so Wilco got out of their contract, signed with (I think) Nonesuch, one band member (the late Jay Bennett) split or was fired from the band (Tweedy and John Stirrat are the only original members left), and then the record goes on to be this huge critical, and somewhat commercial, success

  10. chefbradford Says:

    I prefer the more rockin, dark Wilco, myself

  11. chefbradford Says:

    Definitely not for everyone, but worth a try, I think. Void, if you’re really looking to check them out, seek out tracks from Being There, Yankee, or their live double record, Kicking Television. They’ve even got more than a little punk to ’em, which I love

  12. voopa Says:

    Son Volt’s “Okemah” is a great Wilco offshoot album.

  13. Robear Says:

    reprinted with permission from the “Don’t quit your day job files”

    “Come from the north where the oceans freeze
    had to click Robear’s name, get some Phishthought T’s
    Clicked till my credit card could take no more
    Keep the site funded, see what’s in store

    How was I to know that day
    The winds had swept a PT hoodie my way
    But soon toward me from my seat
    Came Miner and his writing and JOTD treats”

  14. chefbradford Says:

    I’ve heard very little from Son Volt, but I like it. I prefer Tweedy’s voice and guitar work to Jay Frarrar’s, which is why I went mainly with Wilco

  15. Elihu Says:

    Hey Mr C thanks for that 71 GD mix from the other day. Had a chance to listen to it all yesterday and really really really enjoyed it. Glad I waited on that Dark Stars track – what fantastic recordings, and you put them all together for an awesome “show” – thanks for making sure the music never stopped!

  16. VoidBoy Says:

    “Critical” though not so much commercial has been my exp. But the college girl rocking out to them got my attention.

  17. chefbradford Says:

    Nice Robear! I’m eagerly anticipating my ringer T, and if I have some extra cash after the holidays, I’m DEFINITELY getting a hoodie!

  18. VoidBoy Says:

    Dark Wilco for sure. Love the feedback driven tunes… yeah.

  19. chefbradford Says:

    Hah, yeah, cute girls have affected my listening habits in the past, often for the better

  20. VoidBoy Says:

    Alright Robear,

    I’m down. Buying something from the Robear Bard… Got a 3 mo. old. Love baby “Phish” gear… I thought I saw something on there… you take Paypal, right?

  21. VoidBoy Says:

    yeah a Hoodie. is there an xxl? I usually go “xl” but they always seem to shrink…

  22. chefbradford Says:

    Summerteeth (released prior to Yankee) is a more pop/rock oriented record, they’d started experimenting more with effects and loops. It’s a bright, shiny record, but there are some incredibly dark lyrics in it. “I dreamed about killing you again last night” goes one song, while “She’s a Jar” says “you know she begs me, not to hit her”

  23. chefbradford Says:

    Listen to Yankee’s “Jesus, Etc” and “Ashes of American Flags”, both written prior to 9/11, and tell me you don’t get chills and goosebumps

  24. VoidBoy Says:

    not to “noob” out on you… but if I was going to spend money right now… what would you recommend I buy… (forget what you think I’m into)…. what is the best “in” to these boys?

  25. chefbradford Says:

    On Wilco? Hmm. My two favorite albums of theirs are Yankee and Being There, but everybody I’ve known who likes them likes different albums. I’d find a way to listen to a couple of tunes off several records, and then make a decision. I think the first things I heard were Being There, then Summerteeth, then Yankee. I’ve never even heard all of their first album, AM; my old roommate’s dog ate it as soon as it came in the mail from ebay. Here’s an idea: go to Pandora radio, type in Wilco as a station, see what plays, what you like

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