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. chefbradford Says:

    And for anyone reading, I’m always hungry for fresh music (fresh to my ears, it can be new or old), always hungry for suggestions. All the talk about the Band and Dylan earlier, I’m reminded of how much I like the fairly young band, Deer Tick. There’s something rustic about their sound that reminds me, however obliquely, of the Band

  2. chefbradford Says:

    Another segue here, My Morning Jacket did a fantastic cover of “It Makes No Difference” at one point

  3. VoidBoy Says:


    Probably stay away from their first couple of albums (nothing personal). “My two favorite albums of theirs are Yankee and Being There”. I’ll look at these… like I said before, the college girl got my attention, and personally, whatever she liked… I was going to like (nw I know why the Backstreet Boys took off). But seriously, what I heard that day was phenomenal.

    “go to Pandora radio, type in Wilco as a station, see what plays, what you like”

    Will do.

    Thanks for the suggestions/advice.

  4. chefbradford Says:

    I need Ridalin, or Adderall, or something. Strattera maybe

  5. chefbradford Says:

    Happy to help, Void. If she was playing “A Ghost Is Born”, and it tickled your fancy, by all means check it out. Every album is different, and that one has some choice cuts. The addition to the lineup of Nils Cline (I think that’s his name) on guitar really pushed that album further out. He’s got some stark, dissonant playing that kind of heightens the paranoia and uneasiness of several tracks

  6. VoidBoy Says:


    Sounds like you need tequila. πŸ˜‰

  7. chefbradford Says:

    A midpoint song on that album (Ghost), “Spiders (Kidsmoke)”, has been described, by more than one publication/critic, as “Kiss meets Kraftwerk, but in a GOOD way”

  8. VoidBoy Says:

    β€œA Ghost Is Born”,

    Yeah, I might start there. Ebay will take me far for a couple of bucks.

  9. chefbradford Says:

    Oooh, I did a number of shots of Patron at our Christmas party Sunday, love that stuff. I’m actually currently sipping whiskey. I essentially stopped smoking the good stuff last year, try to stick to the firewater

  10. chefbradford Says:

    Ebay is a good call. Like I said, Pandora could help. Great site, their Phish streams are pretty sweet, although the playlists tend to run Phish, Allmans, Dead, Bob Marley, Phish, or something of that order

  11. chefbradford Says:

    Predictable is what I mean

  12. chefbradford Says:

    Wilco has played some good sets on Austin City Limits, as well. I don’t know what PBS or ACL’s websites are like (I need to check them out), but if they have an archive you might be able to watch some stuff

  13. halcyon Says:

    Re: Wilco….Being There, Summerteeth, Yankee Hotel Foxtrot have received heavy rotation throughout the years. Rootsy, Pop, Experimental progression in these albums. A Ghost is Born and Sky Blue Sky didn’t receive as much rotation yet were still quality albums.

    Josh Ritter is someone I would recommend. Great lyricist, great music, and he gives it all when performing. A lot of love coming from this guy. Great music to bring your girl to as well πŸ˜‰

  14. Mr. Completely Says:


    here’s a random list of artists & albums that not everyone has been exposed to…literally random, hit shuffle and picked a few off the top you might not have heard…no controversial genres like jazz, bluegrass, african, or rap.

    Spiritualized –
    Material – Hallucination Engine
    John Prine – Bruised Orange
    Danny Gatton – 88 Elmira Street
    Francis Dunnery – Let’s Go Do What Happens
    Leo Kottke – 6 and 12 String Guitar
    Nick Drake – 5 Leaves Left or Bryter Layter

  15. VoidBoy Says:

    “I essentially stopped smoking the good stuff last year”

    Only on “special occasions.” Spent several hours at f8 regrouping after a fat one found its way into my hands… (is that possible?)

  16. Mr. Completely Says:

    Funny, I gave up drinking to concentrate on smoking the kind

  17. Mr. Completely Says:

    except on “special occasions”

  18. whole tour! Says:

    i no longer drink at shows.
    I have a MUCH more pleasant time.

  19. chefbradford Says:

    Hal and Mr C- thanks! Josh R I’ve heard of, but haven’t heard, will give him a listen. Mr C- I love (mostly older) Spiritualized, Kottke, Drake, look forward to the others, Although, what little J. Prine I’ve heard has been beautiful

  20. sumodie Says:

    @msg3 my college buddy/phish newbie got me to drink my first ever beer at a phish show. srsly. for me, beer is always for post show activities.

  21. Weekapaug Says:

    almost done listening to the TSU show everyone has been talking about 12-10-09. Well done Lycan, I really dig this stuff. The horns are a treat too!

  22. VoidBoy Says:

    shots of Patron… a little pricey… though never refuse a hot.

    “good sets on Austin City Limits” I will check this out.

    Actually, Phish is quite “good” after a couple of shots and my focus is much more acute. My, how my biology has changed. I spent several nights at F8 just trying to find my “sea legs”. I’m laughing and smiling with total strangers as we exchange stories from the beyond. (Ghost stories given the occasion). Have I truly lost touch? If I told you the sh*t going through my mind, I’d have a lot of explaining to do… though I’d question the “fool” listening.

  23. chefbradford Says:

    the good thing about working in a restaurant/bar this time of year is that our Christmas party features a FREE open bar. So yeah, I did maybe 5 or 6 shots of Patron. Ahh, good stuff. Good enough that it got me dancing to shitty music at the bar for the after party!

  24. VoidBoy Says:

    I can’t believe I’ve become such a “light weight” Hah, I would have never thought.

  25. Mr. Completely Says:

    Lazer Guided Melodies is the older Spiritualized – their first album, sparse melodic drone heaven – I love it dearly – get high, kick back, crank it loud and just drift away

    Prine is a great genius I think…his self titled first album is more well known…

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