Albany and Beyond

12.5.09 (G.Lucas)

12.5.09 (G.Lucas)

Listen to the ovation at the end of “Seven Below > Ghost.” The roar that you hear is one of absolute celebration from all sectors of the audience; Phish had transformed into psychedelic juggernauts of yore. Regardless of anyone’s opinion on the music itself, the band had showcased the qualities that made them famous – a musical abandon defined by uninhibited risk taking and, ultimately, golden musical pastures. Phish had just let it all hang loose for the first time since their comeback. Sure, the band had played some amazing jams, and certainly had put together more than a few awe-inspiring sets and shows, but this was a different story altogether. This was the exploratory magic of Phish at work again. For nearly an hour, the band pushed each other harder than we had seen them do in this era, experimenting with, and exploring, new musical planes, while arriving at some truly sublime segments of music along the way. In my memory, and in the memory of countless other fans, this was the type of passionate adventure that has always defined the Phish experience.

11.25.09 (HybridRadar)

11.25.09 (Hybrid Radar)

Throughout this fifty-minute stretch, Phish proved what most of us assumed – they could still throw down the gauntlet on a moment’s notice. Listening to Albany while driving last night, I felt like I was listening to Phish of a different era. A different energy blared from the speaker than I was used to hearing this year; the music likened the exploratory bravado that dripped from stages for years on end. I could truly hear the band searching for the sound, and then about halfway through “Seven Below,” hitting their stride like a gazelle on the Serengeti Plains. Everything clicked deep into this jam; deeper than Phish had been usually willing to dig this go-round. And in no surprise, the first time the band let loose in this uninhibited manner, they succeeded with flying colors. With heart-tugging melodic themes and a connected conversation, Phish found themselves amidst the defining musical jaunt since their return.

12.5.09 (J.Thomas)

12.5.09 (J.Thomas)

Once the band hit their stride, they never lost it for a minute. Careening to a triumphant peak of “Seven Below,” the band slid down the other side into “Ghost.” And from note one of this most unique jam, the band had everything locked down. Sewn together with profound musical glue, this piece would drive the band far beyond anything one would expect to hear from the song. Embodying the theory that if the band is flowing, it matters not what songs they play, Phish continued their musical theatrics with a multi-faceted jam that reached several sonic plateaus. Building from cooperative melodic grooves into a more abstract section of shimmering psychedelia, the music turned far more intense as Mike cranked up his filter and began crushing core patterns. The band continued to merge masterful sections of improv, landing in some of the most maniacal music of the modern era. This represented Phish without borders; jamming without preconceived notions of where things were headed; improvising in the truest sense of the word.

This is what Phish did in their prime, in various forms, from 1993 to 2000, and then again in 2003. Throughout these years, Phish always devised new ways to create original magic from similar springboards. Each year represented an evolution from the one before; Phish’s music built upon itself, morphing like a chameleon from one self-referential form to another. A freakish phenomenon, the band continued to reinvent their music year after year, proving to be one of the most creative forces in the history of the game.

12.4.09 (W.Rogell)

12.4.09 (W.Rogell)

So here we are, at the end of 2009. With a New Years Run separating us from Phish 2010, the first year back in just about in the books. It’s been an incredibly positive year for the Phish community, one laced with more than a few memories of a lifetime. But musically speaking, I believe 2009 will be looked back upon as the foundation for everything that followed; the building blocks for the next musical evolution. The band needed to prove to themselves, more than anyone in the audience, that they still had their mojo. It took them a while to get back into the swing of things, with some sparkling highlights along the way. But I don’t think it was until Albany that the band fully realized the magic they were still capable of hatching. Listening back, one can clearly hear Trey trying to bring back the “Seven Below” melody, aiming for a safe ending to the set’s opening jam. But the band pushed on, unconcerned with what was supposed to happen, and diving off the edge. Emerging almost an hour later, the band had rediscovered the mystery of the unknown; those pristine possibilities that arise when they drop guard and allow things to happen. When the landing point is unknown, Phish is at their greatest. And listening to that crowd in Albany, I think everyone agrees.



Jam of the Day:

Birds Of A Feather” 11.25 II


The standout piece of improv in a lackluster second set in Philly.



11.29.09 CCCC, Portland, ME < Megupload

CCCC - Portland, ME

CCCC - Portland, ME

I: Possum, Down with Disease, Nellie Kane, Weigh, When the Circus Comes, Kill Devil Falls, Water in the Sky, Stash, Meat, Undermind, Mike’s Song > I Am Hydrogen > Weekapaug Groove

II: The Moma Dance, Rock and Roll > Light > Crimes of the Mind, Pebbles and Marbles, Also Sprach Zarathustra > Golgi Apparatus, Cavern, Run Like an Antelope

E: Free Bird, Carini, Waste

Source: Beyerdynamic CK930 > Grace Design Lunatec V3 > Sonic AD2K+ > Marantz PMD-661 (@ 24 bit / 96 kHz)

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870 Responses to “Albany and Beyond”

  1. bhizzle Says:

    I ask because I have been hearing the Ghosts from this tour, mostly thanks to Miner, but they DO sound more rock n rolly to me. not so much funk’d up

  2. bhizzle Says:

    Alright, I finally have time to follow the posts and all you turds bail. lol

  3. albert walker Says:

    thanks for the audit chuck D you were right

    it was only 118 out of the high 200’s
    by far the most heard jam though still

  4. albert walker Says:

    play a ghost without missing all the breaks
    I’ve loved most of the jams

    cinci was pretty slick but they still keep missing those little breaks
    timing seems off

  5. Selector J Says:

    Verging on beleaguering the point, but here’s an interview of Trey from PhilZone by Masato Kato saying they were practicing in 2000 for the upcoming tour. Kind of a funny interview especially the part bout the BC port-o-let.

  6. bhizzle Says:

    The first time I noticed the r n r ghosts was the one played at indio. Therefore I thought it had to do with them playing exile and still playing with that “feeling”.

  7. Mr. Completely Says:

    Dead practiced when they had to – new material, or new keyboard player

    Lots of practice in ’71, ’72, ’76, ’79, ’87, ’90. Otherwise very little. Few exceptions….late summer/fall ’89 leading up to all the big bustouts, and the MIDI addition….

    However, fond as I am of GD/Phish comparisons, this isn’t a good area for them.

    Tightness is just a lot more important to Phish I think, I mean mentally, for the band members (except in the burnout years) and most of the fans.

    The Dead would have benefited from sharing that attitude a little more, but then they wouldn’t have been the Dead…

  8. albert walker Says:

    Phish went GD style in 99 man

    threw the tightness out the window
    not that it was bad
    just diched the whole prog rock jazz thing

    for the more free wheeling let’s see where this goes vibe

  9. Mr. Completely Says:

    cinci was pretty slick but they still keep missing those little breaks
    timing seems off

    Yeah I agree with the prior poster who said that Ghost is deceptively hard as well

    They’ve actually had a lot of trouble with that stuff in Ghost for a long time…part of it I think is that they play the song with different feels, different emphasis, so it’s hard to regularize the timing, or something…

    but yeah, they’re not really in sync on that, and it’d be nice to clean that up

  10. cal Says:

    I guarantee they practiced “Mike’s” in between summer and fall…they never once attempted the real ending all summer. Now they’re at least playing it properly, even though we’re still waiting for a real blast-off version. I bet they’re rehearsing “Ghost” right now, and they’ll nail the re-entry in Miami.

  11. albert walker Says:

    for me C those are the things that lead me to the not practicing opinion

    also Slave is an easy, easy song
    if you mention that song to my jazz teacher (a huge Phish fan) and he cringes

    it is just this real easy, common progression and he is playing simple major chordal shit
    not much of a real jam as far as chops or creativity

    they had a lot of problems with it early

    but this is all mute
    it sounded great at MSG and VA
    it got real tight

  12. Mr. Completely Says:

    as you know @aw I am a jams guy…but I think Phish just needs to be tight to be right

    they need that foundation

    now my ear is not honed all that finely for a lot of phish songs yet…I’m getting there…but I think it’s really good for them to try to get back at least some of that tightness

    Fingers will never be as fast as they were at 27…compositions will never be as tight as they were when practice was all they did…but it’s good for them to at least move more in that direction

  13. bhizzle Says:

    How long do typ. external hard drives last? I just turned mine on and noticed it was creating “waves” on my monitor. Or could it be that I have my monitor at too high of a res? (Replaced my old monitor recently so just noticed)

  14. Mr. Completely Says:

    The discussion is interesting, but I actually don’t care whether they’re practicing a lot per se

    I care that they’re improving

    and they are

    so I’m good

    whatever they’re doing, it’s working, so let’s just roll with that

  15. albert walker Says:

    coming back to that original mindset for Trey must feel great

    getting strung out and believing such crazy perceptions about life, music, and your band

    then getting clean and just appreciating it all again
    coming back to those tunes, that same musical dedication and direction
    very cool

    I am a jam guy that came up in the 93-96 era

    so the possibility of having a band capable of both in 2009 is very exciting

  16. bhizzle Says:

    Does anyone remember in Bittersweet when Trey and Mike where getting interviewed and Trey referred to Arnold S. comment about masturbation? Was practicing what he was talking about?

  17. voopa Says:


    Didn’t they do the ending of Mike’s at Shoreline (before the awkward segue into Simple)?

  18. Mr. Palmer Says:

    @aw just finished 7/29/97. man, you were spot on about that Twist. the intro to the early one’s is really cool. Great show. Oblivious Fool? only puzzler the whole show. Good thing that got shelved. I believe they eventually slowed that down and it became “Shafty” on the Ghost album. Me like Shafty, Oblivious fool- not so much

  19. ChefBradford Says:

    Checking in from work. I hope at least some of you cats have/had luck with the posters

    My copy of Bittersweet Motel up ‘n vanished like a fart in the wind a few years back

  20. Mr. Completely Says:

    @bhizzle, how long they last really varies, the monitor thing is weird…maybe try changing refresh rates on the monitor?

    I dunno if you should be concerned about the HD failing or not, that would prob. make me paranoid

  21. albert walker Says:

    did that whole little west coast 97 run

    that one has the best vibe and energy for me

    Ventura was Great, Shoreline was fun, and the Gorge is the Gorge
    but I really dug that first one in AZ

  22. ChefBradford Says:

    Oblivious Fool was weird, that bluesy progression with the incredibly dark lyrics. Shafty’s ominous vibe works much better with the lyrics, I think

  23. bhizzle Says:

    Thx Mr.C.. I’m hoping it’s the refresh rate too. And yes that’s why I ask…paranoia…

  24. Kaveh Says:

    Hey all: Here is what I have for trade or for sale.

    From PTBM:
    12.28 – Sec 412 Row 9 – one ticket – ($40.00)
    12.29 – Sec. 310 Row 19 – two tickets – (face or best offer)
    12.29 – Sec. 114 Row 17 – one ticket – (face)
    12.30 – Sec 407 Row 3 – two tickets – (face or best offer)

    From Ticketmaster – Sec. 103 Row 14 – (face)

    Now here what I’m looking for in a trade, if possible. I would be willing to trade any combination of the above tickets for one floor seat on the 30th, since it is my 50th show (a long time coming, since I started in 1993, but I made it). So let me know if there is any potential out there.

    From PTBM:
    12.31 – Sec 309 Row 5 – two tickets

    And for NYE, I would be willing to trade these two tickets plus something (cash, etc.) for one floor seat.

    Let me know if anyone out there can help. Thanks!

    kjrahimi at yahoo dot com

  25. bhizzle Says:

    Refresh rate changed and it does look better. gracias

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