Ebb and Flow

12.28.09 - Official Poster

In a half-empty arena that carried the vibe of an out-of-the-way stop along fall tour, Phish kicked-off Miami ’09 with a show that felt just a bit out of sync. With a opening act whose music came in waves, much like the waters that surround, the band interspersed some exploratory jaunts throughout some straight forward rock that kept their show enticing. The improvisational highlights of the evening came in the risk-taking of “Stash,” “Light,” and “Harry Hood,” all to varying degrees of success. Whereas Phish fought through some early speed bumps and came together gloriously in “Stash,” they weren’t as successful with their latest incarnation of “Light,” searching and searching, but not coming up with all too much. But perhaps the most sublime and psychedelic portion of the night, however, came in an late-set, ambient-laced dreamscape called “Harry Hood.”

“Stash” filled in its now-patented “First Jam of the Run” slot, but did so with far more skyscraping psychedelia that usual. Representing the only first set launchpad, the band let things hang out early, forming the most demented segment of the night. Following the jam’s standard path for a while, there came a certain point when the band veered off course into uncharted waters. Navigating a stormy sea of musical whitecaps, the band reached their darkest and most abstract points of the night in a scintillating episode that couldn’t help but trigger memories of “Stash’s” sacred trek in the same room six years ago. A musical adventure that teetered at points, finally peaked in a cascade of cacophony.

Miami '03 (M.Collins)

Following a first set that better resembled a mortuary rather than a Phish show, the band brought out their second-set defibrillators in the form of “Mike’s Song.” Sinking their teeth into the most gnarling version we’ve heard in a while, Phish passed through some sinister funk grooves before Trey let loose into a series of menacing guitar leads, narrating a twisting tale of darkness. Taking their head of steam and morphing into “Light,” the band seemed to almost get there a couple of times via their newest vehicle, but in the end fell short of any real greatness. After many of the stellar rides from fall tour, this “Light” just didn’t shine as brightly, but the band can’t be faulted for not pushing themselves, and that’s all we can ever ask.

And push themselves they did once again in an experimental, near-twenty minute “Harry Hood.” Starting the jam in near silence, Phish built, plateaued, and emerged again, through a sprawling cycle of full-band interplay. Transcending its composed build, this “Hood” drifted into more than one engaging musical segment before reconnecting to the its triumphant theme. In the most salient musical moment of the evening, this “Hood” seemed to bring direction and coherence to the band’s improv, in earnest, for the first time, all evening. Another risk taken; but this time, the band came out smashingly successful.

Miami '03 (M.Collins)

Despite the musical highlights, a noticeable lack of energy lent a strange vibe to a show that, at times, seemed like Phish was going at it alone. With virtually no one behind the stage, empty sections of seats on the floor, a black curtain quardening off much of the upper deck, last night felt like a complete juxtapostition to the through-the-roof energy that underlined fall tour; and hardly like a New Years Phish show. One must wonder what effect this feeling, if any, has on the band, their playing, and the their outcome of the show. After a first night that will, no doubt, be left in behind by the exploits of the next three, let’s come back tomorrow and see what’s up.

First Set Notes:

“My Soul,” unplayed since the band’s first farewell at Shoreline 2000, and “Roggae,” unplayed in ’09, came out one after another in a combination that seemed clearly linked by their relative scarcity. “Undermind” provided the first signs of musical vitality to the show with its punchy rhythmic interplay, while “Beauty of a Broken Heart” took the momentum from “Stash” and split it over a platter of groove in an entertaining spin. Overall, the first featured a rather sluggish flow and mediocre song selection, resulting in an underwhelming set of Phish to start off New Years ’09.

I. Sample in a Jar, NICU, My Soul, Roggae, Undermind, Bouncing Around the Room, Poor Heart, Stash, I Didn’t Know, Beauty of a Broken Heart, Possum

II: Mike’s Song > Light > I Am Hydrogen > Weekapaug Groove, Alaska, Backwards Down the Number Line, Makisupa Policeman > Harry Hood > Contact, Character Zero

E: First Tube

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917 Responses to “Ebb and Flow”

  1. BrandonKayda Says:

    Live Phish is up!

  2. Holger Dansk Says:

    Chiming in late, after driving back to the hotel, but have to add IMO this show was perfection from start to finish. Simply amazing. They had the crowd rocking all night. If they pull this off two more nights in a row, I’m not gonna be able to do anything but lay on the beach for a week. Unfreakingbelievable.

  3. BrandonKayda Says:

    Glad to hear it!

    I can’t wait to grab these shows tomorrow, whole second set looks hot

  4. voidboy Says:

    It sounded like the audience was into it. Sounded like great fun tonight.

  5. Boris Says:

    What’s up ya’ll?

    What page are the Cypress Downloads?

    I am really tired, so maybe I scrolled right past the link…

  6. Squirming_Nancy Says:

    Tonight was AMAZING! The 2nd set flowed like water, or better yet, melted butter. I was a little skeptical of Heavy Things too but they pulled it off beautifully. The crowd tonight was in complete synergy with the band. Everyone in that place ROCKED OUT hard. I hope Miner has more positive things to say because I am disappointed with his review of last night’s show. It was the first night of a 4 night run–of course they aren’t going to blow it out, and not every show is going to flow smoothly the way he likes. Roggae was sweet. The Makisupa was ridiculously good. I usually agree with Miner’s reviews for the most part but this one was off IMO.

  7. Al Says:

    I have listened to 2/3 of the first nights show and I have to agree with Miner that night one was musically sub-par. When “Sample in a Jar” seems the best part of set one, something is off. The Stash is quite brave, but nothing outstanding cause the communication is going nowhere. Mike’s song seems promising first but Trey’s whale cry sound just sucks out all of the power. I hope he won’t use it more often. It fits here and there (check out MSGs Ocelot) but not on the Rockers…

    I think Trey just had a bad day, cause compared to his Fall Tour guitar playing, this is very different.

    But let’s listen to Makisupa>Harry…I think that’s where the meat is…

  8. Beezee Says:

    what night we talking bout?. pardon me, but these lists are looking more and more dead like. jibboo>wilson>jibboo feels like a stella>sugaree>stella. different band, different band.

  9. Al Says:

    Nope – none of the jams of night one grabbed me. Rehearsal mode all the way though.
    They try to go different ways and just let go, but there’s a lack of focus and communication. Anyway, still a great Rock concert, but one bad Phish show. But I wasn’t there – we all know that makes a huge difference.

    From what I hear night two must have been better…

  10. Corey Says:

    Well, that Tweezer was rather enjoyable, having snagged a nice aud rec in the early morning hours.

    Not sure about the zzyzx “Manteca jam” but if that’s what PHiSH calls it, I’ll take it. It’s a day late for bday celebration, but perhaps further validation that “they” read “us.” — at least it’s validation in my mind.
    Still waiting for the real deal; I want to look in my shoemouth for crabs.
    Me thinks Mongo and Dizzy would be pleased.

    But, at the Manteca-esque lick, eleven minutes and twelve seconds in…from that point to the end and into the Prince…well, it is just beautiful music. Haven’t heard them go in that direction this year.

    Lovely, creative finish to that one.

    Such a nice cap to our shameless seven course vegetarian + vin tasting at Upstairs on the Square. Shameless. Economy be damned!

  11. Panda Says:

    HORRIBLE write-up


    signing off for life i knew i should not have looked at this CRAP!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Some nerve you have Miner, I told you you needed a break!!!!!!!

  12. ohhphee Says:

    Bye, Bye, Panda. Just opinions, not daggers.

  13. soflghost Says:

    Did anyone mention the final vaccum solo of the decade?

  14. Willowed Says:

    Just woke up. Took a peak at last night. Wow, some real rare stuff played.

    Can’t wait to listen!!

  15. PhrankieC Says:

    hey loyal phish thoughts fans! just got back from miami and im burnt! I have almost the entire 12-30-09 show on my youtube account http://www.youtube.com/user/PhrankieC87#p/u/9/2rEKo_jGD3k
    Happy new year and thanks mister minor!

  16. dennis Says:

    I went to all four nights and although this was the weakest, it was like a warm-up. But it was A LOT OF FUN!!!! I JUST LISTENED TO LIVE DOWNLOAD AND I’M TOTALLY DIGGING IT!!! 🙂

  17. Purplewidow Says:

    Really surprised about no mention of the roggae in the meat!! That was one of the most melodic flowing jams of fall tour!! You can feel Trey open up! A ton of passion there!!

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