A Showcase of Songs

12.30.09 - Miami (Photo: Wendy Rogell)

The diversity of Phish is one of their greatest assets, and a huge reason behind their overwhelming appeal to so many people. Beyond varying their setlists, Phish effortlessly swoops between musical genres, altering the focus of their shows, while composing vastly different orbits each and every night. And when the band plays as well as they did in Miami, any direction usually works just fine. A night after Phish played a show underlined by giant grooves and copious improv, the band returned on December 30th with a song-based show that still held the door open for some quintessential second set psychedelia. Focused on elusive pieces of their catalog for much of the night, the band tore through many seldom played selections with surprising proficiency, while still carving out one of 2009’s elite jams. Though the band’s musicianship stood at the top of their game, this show contained a choppy, yet fun, vibe, with no real flow to either set. Yet, when examining each piece individually, Phish absolutely nailed everything they touched on this night.

12.30.09 (W.Rogell)

If bust-outs tickle one’s fancy, then they were laughing all the way through this first set in which eight of twelve songs appeared for the first time this year, including two debuts. The party got started with the first “Soul Shakedown” of this era, igniting the crowd and setting the tone of the evening right away. Following a short but sweet “Runaway Jim,” and woven around “Stealing Time,” the bust outs just kept rolling – “Jesus Just Left Chicago,” Hank William’s “Dixie Cannonball,” “Corrina,” “What’s the Use?,” Tela,” the debut of “Gone,” and “RockyTop.” In a veritable buffet of Phish rarities, one of the unquestionable highlights of the sequence was “Corrina.” Ten years to the day that they broke out the song in Big Cypress’ opening set, Phish played a highly emotive version evoking memories of the Everglades with graceful solos from both Page and Trey. “Tela” brought the most “significant” bust-out, with eleven years coming between its last performance in New Haven, CT on November 24, 1998. Practiced and polished, Phish gave the integral piece to the Gamehendge saga the full treatment, bringing the composition to a gentle peak. Throughout all of these songs, Phish sounded spot on, both musically and lyrically, making these appearances all the more special. Sure, squeezing “What’s The Use?” between “Corrina” and “Tela” does nothing for context or flow, but the band is clearly now comfortable with the widest array of their material since the mid -’90s. Finally digging deeper into Party Time, Phish debuted “Gone,” a reflective Trey piece with a strong melodic leads and potential for expansion come summertime. “Rocky Top” finished the eccentric part of the set, leaving way for Phish to loosen up their chops in the final segment.

12.30.09 (W.Rogell)

After crushing “Chalkdust,” the musical energy in the room palpably increased, setting the table for the improvisational high point of the first half, “David Bowie.” Through many versions of “Bowie” this year, the band hadn’t often been able to channel the maniacal energy that defined the song’s history. Playing quasi-generic renditions more often than not, few “Bowies” stood out as unique. But Miami’s version jumped off the stage with a creative aggression unseen most of the year, all without moving far outside the box. Possessing that furious, yet precise, energy that characterized “Bowies” of legend, Phish applied their newly-found, effortless bravado the jam, and came out with one of its most successful, densely packed affairs of the year. Peaking with unique, full-band fury, “Bowie” ended the first half with a bang. Having picked up improvisational steam at the end of the set, and following the night before, who knew what to expect in act two?

12.30.09 (W.Rogell)

Opening the second set, Phish continued the Big Cypress allusions by dusting off the second “Sand” of 2009, evoking memories of the forty-plus minute epic in the early hours of the decade. This version followed a more classic contour than Camden’s of early summer, focusing primarily on Trey’s guitar leads over a driving groove, and less on full-band interplay. Trey, however, brought enough fire to carry this version on his own. Starting with sparse phrasings, he soon built into flowing melodies that solely directed the course of the song. Supported by a tightly woven groove, Trey lines surfed atop the musical wave provided by his mates throughout this excursion. Dominating the second half with effect-driven, “retro-milennial” sound-sculpting, Big Red brought the piece to a gnarling peak only a stones throw away from the site of its seminal outing a decade ago.

12.30.09 (W.Rogell)

A fiery beginning to the second half gave way to a cerebral segment of “Curtain (With)” > “Lifeboy.” In complete contrast to the linear dance patterns that opened the frame, Phish entered one of their exquisite compositions with notable precision and energy, and when “With” dropped, the band’s soul took over. Completely at home with the piece that once symbolized the debacle of Coventry, Phish culminated the many versions of the year with one of their best. Played with meticulous passion, “With” felt like a emotional cleansing on the brink of a new decade, while simultaneously, a celebration of 2009 – the year that everything came back together. With undeniable majesty, the band engaged in one of the most alluring passages of the run, featuring interplay both subtle and supreme.

Dripping from the stirring rendition of “With” into the first “Lifeboy” of the year, Phish crafted an elegant combination of introspective hymns. Performed immaculately, the song’s dreamy soundscapes backed its wistful lyrics in the type of delicate display absent from the 2.0 era. But this time around, every note matters, hence the band’s patient and steady progress throughout the year, and “Lifeboy” vividly illustrates this renewed philosophy.

When Phish continued with “Back On the Train” as a centerpiece of the second set, it really seemed as though the 30th would go down as light on musical exploration, but little did anyone know that one of the year’s top jams was about to unfold. Stemming from the back-country funk of “Back On the Train,” Phish would grow one of their most exciting excursions from the least likely of places. Gradually stretching out the song’s form, Mike, once again, led the way out the door, as he was the first to bring unique ideas to the table. As Mike coaxed Trey into some rhythm playing, the band took off on a musical tangent, everyone picking up new on each others’ ideas, and almost instantaneously, transforming the piece into an ambient blanket of shimmering sound.

12.30.09 (W.Rogell)

From there, the band took a multi-dimensional musical expedition, beginning in a quieter, bass-led brew. Latching onto Mike’s patterns, Trey, and Page joined in, forming a sublime, sonic waterfall. Phish had traveled way out there quite quickly – a musical hit of DMT – and soon, the delicate canvas became increasingly dark as the band built the force behind their wall of sound. A kick drum joined Fish’s shimmering cymbal textures, as Trey’s began to scream out over Page’s drone effects and piano patterns. And out of an ambient escapade, Phish built a fierce, all-out high speed musical getaway. A distinct moment transpired where the whole band hit full stride in a galaxy far, far away, and, collectively, took off out of sight. Even Kuroda got in on the act, masterfully speckling the arena with dots of white light to match the musical intensity. In order to return to earth, the band slowed into a polyrhythmic segment, resembling the cadence of a “Limb” jam, as Trey and Page gushed emotion through the final rolling peak. A true journey into the unknown, most didn’t know what had hit them as the band drifted softly into “Velvet Sea.” But we had just witnessed one of the year’s most successful jams; the yin to “Tweezer’s” yang; the other best side of Phish.

"Fish and Rich" (W.Rogell)

“Velvet Sea” provided a lush cushion for the band’s interstellar exploits, a perfect place to descend upon from such gargantuan heights. But once this surreal segment came to a close, Fishman came front and center for his late-second set exploits that are often hard to believe still take place in 2009. This act took a turn for the comical, however, as the band chose “Rich” from the crowd to come up and guest on vacuum since Trey had promised this that Fish’s “I Didn’t Know” solo on the 28th would be his last of the decade. At the time this all seemed innocent enough, but in reality, the band was laying groundwork for their New Year’s prank. (More on that tomorrow.) But “Rich” held his own, and got the arena rocking far more than Fishman could have, in comedic episode that pumped up the audience for the set’s final section.

12.30.09 (W.Rogell)

12.30.09 (W.Rogell)

Following another generic “Free,” a song the band should expand or shelve at this point, they kicked into a late-set “Boogie On,” taking the song-based theme through the very end of the show. But after a short funk groove, Trey slowly integrated the beginning of “Antelope,” blending one song into the other. Throughout the intro – in which the full band joined in, within the full-on jam, and in the outro, Trey precisely and playfully teased the main melody from “Boogie On.” Each time firing up the audience a bit more, by the end of the song, Trey had the arena eating from the palm of his hand as he brought the vicious jam to a close with an combination “Boogie On” / “Antelope” lick. This smoking, high-energy conclusion will forever be remembered as “Boogie Like an Antelope.”

When looking at a New Years Run, one must consider the four-night whole rather than each show on its own. Designed to be a four-night experience, interpreting a New Year’s Run in any other way would be missing the point. This show complemented the 29th’s groove-centric exploration, while the 31st created the feel-good party of the year. People will favor one of these shows over another because of their personal preferences, not because Phish played any better or worse on these three nights. After the 28th’s uncharacteristic warm-up, the band blasted into their best playing of the year, with each show designed for a different purpose. This night provided a showcase of rare songs, and we still managed to get in a jam of the year. Not bad, I’d say. Not bad at all.

I: Soul Shakedown Party, Runaway Jim, Jesus Just Left Chicago, Dixie Cannonball*, Stealing Time From The Faulty Plan, Corrina, What’s the Use?, Tela, Gone*, Rocky Top, Chalkdust Torture, David Bowie

II: Sand, The Curtain With > Lifeboy, Back On The Train > Wading in the Velvet Sea, HYHU > Love You > HYHU, Free, Boogie On Reggae Woman > Run Like An Antelope

E: Frankenstein

12.30.09 (Photo: Wendy Rogell)

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Jam of the Day:

Back on the Train > Velvet Sea” 12.30 II

[audio:http://phishthoughts.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/01/ph2009-12-30t16.mp3,http://phishthoughts.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/01/ph2009-12-30t17.mp3]

Who would have thunk it?

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DOWNLOAD OF THE DAY:

12.30.09 American Airlines Arena, Miami, FL < Torrent

12.30.09 American Airlines Arena, Miami, FL < Megaupload

12.30.09 (W.Rogell)

I: Soul Shakedown Party, Runaway Jim, Jesus Just Left Chicago, Dixie Cannonball*, Stealing Time From The Faulty Plan, Corrina, What’s the Use?, Tela, Gone*, Rocky Top, Chalkdust Torture, David Bowie

II: Sand, The Curtain With > Lifeboy, Back On The Train > Wading in the Velvet Sea, HYHU > Love You > HYHU, Free, Boogie On Reggae Woman > Run Like An Antelope

E: Frankenstein

*debut

Source: Sennheiser MD441U > Edirol R4Pro (Oade preamp mod) @ 24/88.2 (Taper – padelimike)

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1,066 Responses to “A Showcase of Songs”

  1. Matso Says:

    @ nonoyolker –

    Thanks for sharing. That’s tidy little look back at the year and I agree with your comments about not forgetting the quality stuff from the first half of summer and Hampton (I still love that DWD>Seven Below combo FWIW)

  2. ma Says:

    i can see how many may have been a bit weary from travelin’…i live in south florida, can’t relate..

    awesome seats in the flagship and great songs selection…beauty hasn’t even been mentioned… no sound problems from where i was at.

    have a great day all..

  3. nonoyolker Says:

    I finally spun the 28th last night and there is some great material on there. The jam at the end of Roggae is gorgeous (Mike kills it). Feels weird to say but, one of the best Makisupa’s ever? I was listening to that > Hood when falling asleep and it got pretty spacey at the end. That, with Robear’s mention of “Mike, Mike, Mike” antics made for a hot version. The Hood is sublime as well. Good show, but definitely sounds like a bit of a warm up compared to all that came after.

  4. pagesidehighschool Says:

    can anyone help me with downloads, ive never done one from this site, what is the easiest way? program?

  5. ma Says:

    i too believe the run should be looked at in it’s entirety…..that would include the 28th.

  6. oldskool Says:

    Corina and Tela were played to perfection. The amount of soul and inspiration in Trey’s vocals and playing is truly touching. These songs were more than bustouts, they were a commentary on where the band is at right now and I am loving it 🙂

  7. Frankie Says:

    Good to hear from you, nonoyolker! 🙂

    Glad to see all is well and a “Miami Ghost” 2010 to you!!

  8. marcoesq Says:

    ” Phish had traveled way out there quite quickly – a musical hit of DMT – and soon, the delicate canvas became increasingly dark as the band built the force behind their wall of sound

    Wow MIner, nice. A nod to yesterday’s convo? 🙂

  9. albert walker Says:

    for me the 28th was night and day compared to 29th-31st

    if I got 4 nights of 28th quality Phish probably the last 4 night run this kid would have done

    I needed the step up and they brought it

    been waiting for that shit since Hampton and I was starting to doubt they had it in them

    I had a great time at every show including Hampton but musically there was always the question marks regarding how good this would be able to get

    once they hit Maze on the 29th all fears were gone
    my band was back and they were killing it

  10. albert walker Says:

    also after MSG Light I think my expectations were just insane for this jam

    although I dig the Miami version just did not take off where I would have liked

  11. Larry Sellers Says:

    pagesidehighschool – go the mega upload route. I believe you need to dl winzip which the upload site should provide for you.

  12. nonoyolker Says:

    @ Matso – thanks man. I guess got a tad retrospective with the new year and all. I feel that now that we are at this pinnacle, i is easy to forget all of the peaks we have climbed along the way. I went back last night and listened to all of my “go to” jams throughout the year. Many of them still hold up – some, not as much. Most are missing the “guts” of the jam. The “pocket” as I think AW puts it. They are ok in the composition section and eventually hit a peak, but there is some missing elements in the middle. Still, great fun.

    Going back to listen to past shows demonstrated the HUGE improvement in the SBDs thoroughout the year. I thought people were just being picky earlier, but damn… I was listening to the DC especially and it sounds like it was recorded from a mile away on a Fischer Price microphone. Night and day.

  13. marcoesq Says:

    @oldskool

    yes

  14. Frankie Says:

    2010 will make 2009 feel like 1984…

  15. pagesidehighschool Says:

    My first show was New Haven 98. I got in late first set, the first song I heard was Sample, ironic because it was one of ten songs i actually knew. Then Tela! I had no idea at the time what i was actually seeing, but i thought it was a great song. Funny, similar thing happened this summer with icculus, didn’t realize how sweet it was in oswego, really appreciate it even more now. What’s up with CT, is that my gamehenge state?

  16. nonoyolker Says:

    Great to hear from you Frankie! Hope you are kicking ass in the great white north! Best wishes in ’10 pal.

  17. ma Says:

    in ghost, just before the auld lang syne tease, trey does the same riff as the one he does in hampton just before dropping into 2001….love it!!

  18. albert walker Says:

    Without the Hartford, Alpine, or RR Ghost we would not have the Miami Ghost

    Being part of the struggle has been great but for me when looking back I really see a band hitting their stride in Miami

    We’ve been discussing how they have been missing all the breaks in the Ghosts before the jam and they nailed everyone of them in Miami

    Just a cleaner sound in general down there
    Not much of the slop we have grown accustomed to in 2009

    Def not perfect, and there is work to be done but reached the base level of what I consider to be good well played Phish

  19. marcoesq Says:

    Anyone hear of the TAB rumor show in Boston 02/12 day after Phila?

  20. gratefulcub Says:

    pagesidehighschool

    The easiest way is to download the megaupload file, and use the extract program you can get at the address below. After downloading the program, you can right click on the downloaded file, and choose ‘Extract’ to get audio files.

    http://download.cnet.com/Free-RAR-Extract-Frog/3000-2250_4-10804840.html

  21. Kenny Powers Says:

    @ pagesidehighschool:

    to download the files, just click the links and tell your computer where to save it. what you’re actually downloading is a .rar (same as .zip i believe) file, which you need to “unpack” or “unzip” in order to see and play the individual mp3 files.

    To do that you can use free and super-simple programs like WinRar or 7zip. Both do the same things. I prefer 7zip mostly because i like the interface a tad better and perhaps it’s a wee bit faster?

    Anyway to unpack the file, here’s a step-by-step. Assuming the .rar file you downloaded is called 12-29-09,

    right-click the file. If you have installed WinRar on your computer, you will see an option in the right-click menu for “extract to 12-29-09”.

    If you have 7zip, you need to hover your mouse over “7zip” and that will open a submenu which will have the option “extract to ’12-29-09′”.

    At that point it will extract all the indivual files into their own regular folder which will have the same name as the .rar folder.

    You’re done!

  22. nonoyolker Says:

    2010 is going to be so hot, its going to make Ray Bans look like Rec Specs…

    TAB in the bean? Friday show as well? If Reds coming to my hood, I’ll check that out. I noticed Boston was oddly left out of the orginal tour date rumors I saw.

  23. marcoesq Says:

    ^Supposed to be at the HOB

    Shippin’ up to Boston, yo

  24. marcoesq Says:

    Just like my Ravens are shippin up to Foxboro to beat up on some Pats Sunday

  25. msbjivein Says:

    Awesome Write up miner. Thanks.

    The 30-31st was the best Phish experience since Hampton for me. The entire vibe those two days was off the hook!! I finally got to put a couple faces to some Phishthoughtee’s which was great. The Gathering was weak but I did meet a super cool kat, Wholetour. And ran into LlamaLee and Ain’tnoTela in the lot the night they played Tela. I heard Sumodie was at Hard Rock but some how we didn’t meet up. I hope we can catch up in the Summer dude!

    Something else that really added to the NYE experience was my buddies TownHouse Hookup on Miami Beach! EPIC! My wife and I as well as four close friends got to hang out in a pimped out Town House on the Beach. We spent all afternoon on the Beach grilling out some steaks and Just taking in the once in a lifetime experience. Knowing we were going to see Phish that evening just made that entire day almost Dream like. Thanks Joe D!!

    Then came Three sets of some spot on Phish!! Can’t wait til tomorrow’s write up Miner!! WOW! What an Experience!! This is what IT’s all about!!
    Phish,Phriends and Making memories!! Here’s to some of the best Memories to come!!!

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