2009: The Year That Was

6.16.09 (B.Kisida)

Phish blazed quite the comeback trail in 2009. Beginning in early March and finishing on New Year’s Eve, the band played 50 shows as they marched their way back to prominence. As the months passed, Phish grew more and more comfortable with each other, enhancing their precision and improvisational chops along the way. Despite a few setbacks, 2009 represented a steep upwards curve for Phish 3.0, and will provide a solid musical foundation as they step into the future of Summer 2010. But before getting ahead of ourselves, let’s take a look back at the Phish’s comeback of 2009.


Hampton: 3.6-3.8

3.8.09 - Hampton (Unknown)

The Reunion  – one of the most dreamlike Phish experiences anyone there has ever had. Out of five years of silence, the band stepped onstage with the magical notes of “Fluffhead.” Sending a message of musical dedication right away, the band started this era with the complex composition that eluded their post-hiatus years. In a marathon weekend of music, The Mothership overflowed with energy for over three hours every night. These shows carried the feel of a recital; a welcome back to the world of Phish as they ran through 84 songs in six sets. Culminating the three-nights with their first earnest jam of the new era, Hampton’s “Down With Disease” still holds up on tape when listening back to this magical weekend.

Shows: 3

Can’t Miss Jams: “Down With Disease”


Summer Tour –  Leg I: 5.31 – 6.21

Jones Beach (W.Rogell)

Spanning 15 shows over three weeks, Phish hit the road for the first time in over five years. Moving from the northeast, through the mid-south, and up the Midwest, the band stayed out for three full weeks . Kicking off their touring season with Fenway Park’s stadium spectacle, things began to slide into full swing again. After some spotty performances at Jones Beach and Great Woods, the band finally clicked in Camden on June 7, for their first great show of the modern era, and, perhaps, the most outstanding night of tour. Taking this momentum on the road south, the band played solid stops in Asheville and Knoxville before stepping onto the biggest stage of the year at Bonnaroo. Over the course of two shows, Phish introduced the mainstream masses to their style, and with one of the strongest shows of the summer on June 14, Phish left no doubt who ruled the weekend in Manchester, TN.

After a much-hyped, but underwhelming show at St. Louis’ Fox Theatre, Phish finished up their first leg of summer by visiting their old haunts of Star Lake, Deer Creek, and Alpine Valley. The gem of these nights became the start-to finish, lightening-interrupted escapade in the cornfields of Indiana. Juxtaposed to the the all-too-common, linear rock jamming that characterized this tour, Deer Creek felt like a revelation with far more musical adventure. The final set at Alpine also provided a glimpse of some enhanced improvisation.

Shows: 15

Standouts: 6.7 Camden, 6.14 Bonnaroo, 6.19 Deer Creek, 6.21 Alpine Valley

Can’t Miss Jams: 6.2 “Hood,” 6.4 “Ghost,” 6.7 “Fee,” “Sand,” Tweezer,” 6.9 “Ghost,” 6.12 “Kill Devil Falls,” 6.14 “Rock and Roll > Light,” 6.19 “A Song I Heard the Ocean Sing > Drowned > Twist,” “Tweezer > 2001,” 6.21 “Crosseyed > Disease,” “Piper”


Summer Tour –  Leg II: 7.30 – 8.16

Red Rocks (G.Lucas)

Phish showed up at Red Rocks as a completely different band than we left in Alpine Valley. Perhaps due to their surroundings, or perhaps due to a transformative five weeks off, Phish played far more confidently and relaxed, quickly trumping anything from June with their June 31 performance. Over these four nights, Phish reinvented themselves from early-summer, taking musical risks and daring excursions all over the place. As fun as any four nights in memory, Red Rocks ’09 will live on forever; if for nothing else but its immortal “Tweezer.”

Stopping for one show at Shoreline, Phish headed up to the Gorge for their most impressive two shows of the summer. Inspired by the vast natural landscape, Phish engaged in frequent and successful open jamming over these nights, crafting some of the year’s most indelible moments. Taking things eastward, the band’s  improvisation seemed tone down and tail off. Usually kicking down one or two jams per show, this east coast shows didn’t hold the same wide-open feel as those out west, and people could tell. The high point of this east coast swing became the Phishy night at Hartford, strewn with bust-outs, whole-band improv, and an homage to “Icculus.” The spirit lived on!

Shows: 12

Standouts: 7.31 Red Rocks, 8.1 Red Rocks, 8.7 Gorge, 8.8 Gorge, 8.14 Hartford

Can’t Miss Jams: Red Rocks: “Ghost > Wolfmans,” 7.31 “Split Open and Melt” and all of Set II, 8.1 “Rock and Roll > Disease,” 8.5 “Disease,” 8.7 “Sneakin Sally,” “Light,” “Bathtub Gin > Hood,” 8.8 “Rock and Roll,” 8.11 “Number Line > Carini > Jibboo,” 8.13 “Drowned,” 8.14 “Disease > Wilson > Slave,” “Ghost > Psycho Killer,” 8.15 “46 Days,” 8.16 “Number Line”


Festival 8, Indio, CA 10.30 – 11.1

Festival 8 Pollock

Combining two of their most hallowed traditions, Phish threw a laid-back, hassle free, three-day Halloween festival. The diametric opposite of those magical cluster-fucks of lore, everyone had easy access to the Polo Grounds and the lavish resorts of Palm Springs. The stunning “Exile” set highlighted three blissful days of the sunshine, while Phish’s noontime acoustic set met with rave reviews. Indio brought so much joy to all, that rumors are already circulating about the band’s return to the west coast site this fall

Shows: 3

Can’t Miss Jams: 10.30 “Wolfman’s > Piper,” 10.31 The Exile Set, “Ghost,” “YEM,” “Suzie,”11.1 The Acoustic Set, “Tweezer > Maze,” “Mike’s > 2001 > Light > Slave”


Fall Tour: 11.18 – 12.5

MSG (G.Lucas)

Stepping inside for their first fall tour since 2000, and their first all-indoor arena tour since February 2003, the band took a little while to get things going. Playing incredibly high-energy shows that featured only one or two legitimate pieces of improv per night, some began to wonder if Phish was satisfied putting on well-polished arena rock shows. Then Albany happened. On November 28, the band’s rediscovered their exploratory spirit, dropping 50 minutes of straight improv, riding their magic carpet far above any any previous heights of 2009 with “Seven Below > Ghost.”

Taking this momentum through the end of the tour, more risk-taking continued in spurts through Maine, MSG and Charlottesville, highlighted by three interstellar quests stemming from “Light,” two of which are no-brainer tour highlights. “Piper” finished off a standout regular season with particularly strong outings in New York and Virginia. Over the second half of fall, Phish had gained a musical head of steam, and Miami looked to be a blowout.

Shows: 13

Standouts: 11.20 Cincinnati, 11.24 Philadelphia, 11.28 Albany, 12.3 MSG, 12.5 Charlottesville

Can’t Miss Jams: 11.18 “46 Days, “Disease > Free,” 11.20 “Tweezer > Light,” “YEM,” 11.21 “Split,” “Rock and Roll > Ghost,” 11.22 “Drowned,”11.24 “Disease,” 11.25 “Birds,” 11.27 “Piper > Tomorrow’s Song,” “11.28 “Seven Below > Ghost,” 11.29 “Undermind,” 12.2 “Light > Slave,” 12.3 “Disease > Piper,” 12.4 “Seven Below,” “YEM,” 12.5 “Tweezer > Light > Piper”


New Year’s Run, Miami, FL: 12-28 – 12.31

12.31.09 (W.Rogell)

What more can be said? Phish capped their comeback with their most impressive and spirited shows of the year. For detailed accounts, check out last week’s posts!

Shows: 4

Can’t Miss Jams: 12.28 “Stash,” “Hood,” 12.29 all of Set II, 12.30 “Get Back On the Train,” 12.31 “Rock and Roll > Piper,” “Ghost > NO2”


2009 Regular Season Awards

Type II Jam Vehicles – First Team: “Down With Disease,” “Piper,” “Rock and Roll,” “Tweezer,” “Ghost”

Type II Sixth Man of the Year: “Drowned”

Type I Jam Vehicles – First Team: “Wolfman’s,” “Harry Hood,” “Jibboo,” “Stash,” “Slave”

Type I Sixth Man of the Year: “Bathtub Gin”

All-Rookie Team: “Light,” “Number Line,” “Ocelot,” Stealing Time,” “Joy”

Rookie of the Year: “Light”

Comeback Player of the Year: “Fluffhead”

Most Improved Player of the Year: “Harry Hood”

Bust Out of the Year : “The Ballad of Curtis Loew” 5.31 (8.2.93 – 625 shows) (discounting “Mustang Sally” and “How High the Moon”)


Jam of the Day:

Tweezer > Fluffhead” 8.1.98 II

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

One of the greatest “Tweezers” of the late ’90s.



11.23.96 Pacific Coliseum, Vancouver, BC < Torrent

11.23.96 Pacific Coliseum, Vancouver, BC < Megaupload

Pacific Coliseum - Vancouver

Pacific Coliseum - Vancouver

Let’s start rolling out the readers’ requests! This one hails from the Pacific Northwest on the home stretch of an all-important fall tour.

I: Chalk Dust Torture, Guelah Papyrus, Cars Trucks Buses, The Divided Sky, Punch You In the Eye, Midnight on the Highway*, Split Open and Melt, Rift, Funky Bitch

II.  The Curtain > Mike’s Song  > Simple > Makisupa Policeman** > Axilla > Weekapaug Groove > Catapult, Waste, Amazing Grace, Harry Hood

E: Good Times Bad Times

*debut, cover
**“Woke up this morning, border guard in my bunk, turned the fucking dog on the bus, and found my dank.”

Notes: This show included the first Phish performance of “Midnight on the Highway,” which was learned while the band was stopped at the American/Canadian border.

Source: Unknown

Tags: ,

844 Responses to “2009: The Year That Was”

  1. Joe Says:

    to me, Indie is still just “college radio” (think early REM-era) from the 80’s. Same thing and probably at the same level of popularity (although the current internet distribution model is probably more ‘indie’ friendly than it was in the past). There is definitely some good out there but I agree that the crowd is insufferable (same can be said for us I guess)

  2. chefbradford Says:

    I’ll take flak for this, but I can handle it

    I really, really enjoy MGMT. Not every song that I’ve heard, but enough that I’ll spin a mix every couple of weeks at work

    Fire away

  3. JMelby Says:


    I posted this here recently and on the green board, but there was a lot of credit card fraud down in Miami. Think it happened at the Bayside Marketplace or Liquor Downtown on East Flagler Street. So check your cards boy and girls. They only started using mine this last weekend. Got all my cash back so it ended well for me but a few really lost some cash.

    Please pass this along to friends that were there.

    As for the chat of the day, I really liked the It’s Ice at Hampton and I go back to it a lot. Also think Golden Age was a highlight of the year, wonder if it will show up on Trey tour. Man add the horns and hold on.

    Great work Mr. Miner!

  4. Mr. Palmer Says:

    Golden Age w/ Horns –TAB…Great Call!

  5. Joe Says:

    The one indie darling that I don’t get at all is the fleet foxes.

  6. Mr. Completely Says:

    nothing wrong with liking MGMT

    not my thing but I get it

    good observation by @Joe re: 80s college radio rock

  7. Mr. Completely Says:

    oooh yeah Golden Age with TAB

    very very good call

  8. Selector J Says:

    i think indie has become ‘the thing’ as of recent mainly because music is being delivered in a very different way.

    The hype machines have left radio and MTV and now are on the internet.
    Just as in news and politics where you have a place like The Huffington Post or Drudge Report, in music you have a place like Pitchfork that offers up opinions and gets a huge following really quickly.

    These new venues on the internet skew towards indie cause all people that were in failed ‘Joy Division meets Sonic Youth’ bands became music critics. 🙂 And then the self-appointed in-crowd go to these sites for music and get directed to enjoy this band or mock that band. Now how did America allow them to be self-appointed? good question. i don’t know. and that may be the meat of the discussion, really.

    Meanwhile, the major labels are left to appeal to tweens and the American Idol crowd so their new stuff invariably sucks but is (marginally) profitable.

  9. SillyWilly Says:

    Since chef started confession….

    after i explained my dislike of indie rock, i must confess that I listen to a little band from Colorado called The Samples.

    I know, I know, but I can’t help it.

  10. halcyon Says:

    No flaming from me Chef….there is plenty of talent in the so called “indie” genre….MGMT, Califone, Vampire Weekend, New Pornographers, Grizzly Bear, Anathallo, etc etc etc If “indie” is supposed to be bands that buck the trend and are truly independent then I would classify Phish under “Indie”. Look at what they have done, and how they did it.

    That being said, many hipster dweebs give “Indie” genre a bad name.

  11. chefbradford Says:

    Sometimes I like to freak out the kids at work by throwing a live Velvet Underground album on. Horrible sound quality + well, VU, = terrified, confused college kids.

    It’s satisfying, if a little depraved

    They nearly tore my head off when I tried to play My Bloody Valentine though

  12. halcyon Says:

    @ Silly….The Samples have been around for ages…they were on the first Horde tours

  13. SillyWilly Says:

    right on Selector J

    “Now how did America allow them to be self-appointed? good question.”

    Don’t you believe everything you read on the internet? I do.

    —Sarcasm should be felt through the keyboard—–

  14. chefbradford Says:

    Not really sure what ‘indie’ means now. MGMT is, to me, a psychedelic band. I like Vampire Weekend, as well, although from what I’ve read, I’m not sure about their upcoming followup album

    Really enjoyed Arcade Fire’s ‘Funeral’ album, but wasn’t driven to check out anything else

    I really enjoy Deer Tick

  15. Joe Says:

    is an ‘Indie band’ still indie after signing with a major label?

  16. SillyWilly Says:

    Yeah, I dont know all their history, but I know theyve been around for awhile…I went to see them at a dive bar in Bowling Green, OH a few years ago.

    No one there so I told Sean Kelly (their lead singer) that I loved his music.

    All he could say was, “Far out, dude.”

  17. flarrdogg Says:

    My ipod approximately (not total, but when I’m limited in space)

    30% Phish
    30% GD (lots of 72-74)
    20% Jazz/Fusion
    10% Other “jambands”- specifically Panic and Galactic- flame on…
    5% JGB- my soul loves that stuff
    5% Cracker- my guilty pleasure

  18. Mr. Palmer Says:

    Since we are making confessions here: I kinda like Ryan Adams and the Cardinals. Actually, i like the Cardinals more than Ryan Adams but you get the point.

  19. Mr. Completely Says:

    They nearly tore my head off when I tried to play My Bloody Valentine though


    Loveless pwns faces.

  20. Mr. Completely Says:

    Ryan Adams plays baseball?

  21. Joe Says:

    your confessions aren’t that bad everyone (there is hipster cred in all of it). Now if you said you liked BRIAN Adams still, that would be a true confession.

  22. Willowed Says:

    Confession. I like Dashboard Confesionals…

    Just kidding, If I did I would let one of you guys punch me square in the face.

  23. Mr. Completely Says:

    or do you mean Arizona?

  24. Willowed Says:

    Modest Mouse is OK but I need to be in a real pissy mood and drunk on Merlot

  25. Selector J Says:

    Don’t you believe everything you read on the internet? I do.

    I believe everything that I already agree with on the internet.

Leave a Reply