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. Lycanthropist Says:

    on Radiolarians III

    and wow Satan’s Kingdom Must Come Down is so great! this little classical feel in the beginning gives way to a barrellhouse shuffle with some gritty bass work from Wood making it sound demented as hell.

    Like the Honky Tonk of Hell

  2. chefbradford Says:

    Yeah, picked right up, right around where you and your guitarist come blazing in together on the River jam, I’m 7:30 into “DBTR” now

  3. gus Says:

    no, no tunes for me. well, i kinda want to learn another complex phish song over winter break. reba might be cool, but difficult. i don’t really have any of my own stuff yet, at this stage i’m just messing around with chord progressions and melodies and whatnot. and this is actually really cool, every monday and wednesday i go to this jam session thing after school, and its usually me, a drummer, a bassist, and the teacher (who is one of the best technically talented guitarists i’ve ever heard – comparable to john mclaughlin) and we just jam for like an hour, and it’s so much fun.

  4. chefbradford Says:

    I was never super-familiar with MMW, but I haven’t heard anything since The Dropper, and I think that was 2000 or 2001. Saw them that tour though, and it was amazing

  5. Lycanthropist Says:


    those kind of jam sessions will prove to be an invaluable tool to you! Keep doing them, learning to play with other musicians not only helps your ear, but will introduce new feels for you to explore.

    can’t remember if you have checked out any of my Trio stuff, but would love a younger cat’s POV

  6. chefbradford Says:

    Celia just started up, Lycan. Stream is perfect thus far, I have no idea why it got so f-ed up a little while ago

  7. Lycanthropist Says:

    The Dropper and its subsequent tour was MMW’s direct attempt to then the crowd of jammie hippies that had overpopulated the scene after the uber funky Combustication.

    I think they wanted to make sure that it was known that they were not to be pigeonholed and if you came, you better come for exploration, not easy to dance to grooves.

    I personally love the Dropper, but a lot of shows from that tour and the following Uninvisible tour turns a lot of first timers off..

  8. gus Says:

    i posted this like 4 or 5 days ago, this is the guitar teacher i was talking about. he is un-freaking-believable.

    1:30 – 2:15 is my favorite. he basically knows everything there is to know about music theory and it certainly shows in his playing. jamming with him is incredible, he plays the best stuff. I haven’t really checked out your Trio stuff, I will have to though tomorrow. I’m super tired.

    night everyone (which is like 3 people)

  9. chefbradford Says:

    I had a blast at that show (I also had a blast of L, but it enhanced, didn’t detract). I was dancing, literally, in my seat (good L, but speedy, I was pretty tightly wound up). Whatever they played first was super-funky, awesome. Think there were guests in teh 2nd set, it was Jazz Fest ’01. Good stuff though

  10. stitchstash Says:

    Hey guys, I’m glad Miner brought up Albany again. It made me wonder if it really is just a matter of choice to do these extended jams. Was Miner on to something? It got me to thinking about this summer at Burgettstown. After the show, I was waiting in the bathroom line next to this lady who was holding the nights set list in her hand. She offered to let me see it, and I could see that there were several songs on the list that were clearly not played. I wish I had a better memory to list them off. Sleeping Monkey was one of them and maybe two of the newer songs. Why did they choose not to play them and what was played instead? I wonder how often this happens. I also wonder if they originally wanted to play more songs at Albany or if they just felt the jam and went for it.

  11. Lycanthropist Says:

    interesting about the deviation from the setlist @stitch

  12. chefbradford Says:

    Stitch- curiosity aroused…

  13. chefbradford Says:

    Do you think the setlist was legit?

  14. stitchstash Says:

    Oh yes, I think it was legit! She said she walked up to the stage and asked for it. Why didn’t I think to do that is beyond me. I was up front too. There is no way she would have printed that up herself knowing the names of those new songs. The new songs were what distracted me. I was trying to recall what they were and couldn’t.

  15. chefbradford Says:

    Most interesting…..

  16. stitchstash Says:

    Lycan, Do you make a set list then choose to jam songs out on the spot or is it pre-determined before you play?

  17. Lycanthropist Says:

    well.. certain songs have jams built into their structure

    what we don’t discuss is length.. usually. Although, in the case of the FYA Plight, we consciously decided to get out there and play with dissonance on an otherwise straight funky tune

  18. Lycanthropist Says:

    for those of you who aren’t aware.

    I keep a blog for CF here:

  19. Lycanthropist Says:


    how you holding up? should be getting to the FYA portion of the show by now

  20. stitchstash Says:

    I wish I could listen with you guys. I just got to granny’s house a few hours ago and don’t know how well that would go over.

  21. Lycanthropist Says:

    no worries @stitch

    i think its just @chef

    im jammin the Radiolarians boxset at the moment

  22. Lycanthropist Says:

    and it looks like its just you and me..

    chef and gus have disappeared into the void

  23. chefbradford Says:

    Stream went well late in East African Bush, crapped out again. I’m going to tinker with it over the wknd, see what happens. This show has still floored me, though!

  24. Lycanthropist Says:

    dammn chef

    you can try over at my blog..

    you may have more luck

  25. chefbradford Says:

    Oh ye of little faith, I’m never far from the Black Boards these days! I will be turning in very soon though. Worked most of a shift on my off-day tonight, double tomorrow and Saturday, probably a Sunday morning shift, Christmas dinner with the fam that night, work again Monday morning, MAY have off Tuesday. Take it easy, all, if I don’t pop in again tonight, I will sometime tomorrow! And Miner’s wknd post should be up in the next couple of hours, I would think

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