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

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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. Willowed Says:

    or Tangeray.

    My wife says when I drink Gin I turn into a Pirate. A very bitter mean pirate.

    That’s when I bust out the Indie jams

  2. Mr. Completely Says:

    I think the cheesiest thing on my current HD is “Tomorrow is Forever” by Dolly Parton and Porter Waggoner – it’s cheesy but great and part of my “original versions of songs Jerry and/or the Dead covered” mix, which has become quite the huge playlist…that’s probably the guiltiest pleasure on there…or one of the various versions of “Waters of March” which despite being a true musical cliche remains one of the great melodies in history….

  3. SillyWilly Says:

    LLFA @Selector J

    thats spot on, dude.

    I listen to Ingrid Michaelson on the regular.

  4. flarrdogg Says:

    Loveless is a great album and I think an important listen for people who love Phish. Trey has openly praised and borrowed from MBV too often to even keep track of…

  5. chefbradford Says:

    I’ve been a fan of Modest Mouse for years, although the last album didn’t do as much for me. Some of the earlier albums, Moon and Antarctica, the unknown EP ‘Everywhere and His Nasty Parlour Tricks; (some nice psychedelic, heady stuff), and ‘Good News’ are all pretty tasty (especially Long Drive, Moon, and Everywhere)

    Mr C- they reacted the same way when I tried to play Jesus and Mary Chain

    MBV’s ‘Soon’ EP is tasty as well

  6. Mr. Completely Says:

    going back to something @aw said earlier

    if you want to understand the very aggressive spacey jamming from late ’95 or parts of 97-99, the big sonic hammers with feedback and sheets of noise stuff, you should really check out Loveless, ’cause that’s the root of that whole vibe

    overwhelming at times, but listened to with proper volume it’s a real work of art

  7. albert walker Says:

    early Jesus and Mary Chain was the shit

    one of the loudest bands I have ever seen

    2nd maybe to Dinosaur JR

  8. Mr. Completely Says:

    @chef, try some of the Sonic Youth experimental albums

    Or Sonic Boom’s solo stuff post Spacemen 3, he had a project called EAR with Kevin from MBV that is epic space-noise awesomeness

  9. flarrdogg Says:

    ^and if by ‘proper volume’, you mean rocking the foundation of your home, I agree.

  10. SillyWilly Says:

    This reminded me…I’ve noticed that I haven’t listened to many heady female musicians.

    Are there any females that are playing some good jam type stuff?

    Or, could any one point me in the direction of some truly funky women to listen to?

  11. Joe Says:

    I lived with a hipster’s hipster in the late 90’s (before it was kind of a caricature). I have to say, he had an awesome music collection and turned me on to a lot of great music like the Jesus and Mary Chain that I wouldn’t have been exposed to otherwise. I was more into Phish (obviously), Dead, and late 80’s/ early 90’s rap than “indie rock”.

  12. flarrdogg Says:

    Silly- I saw Grace Potter a while back and was taken with how she owned the stage. Blues rock- not really hippie music. Also, Susan Tedeschi has some serious soul. Most of my female friends that are into the tunes (and my girl) absolutely love her.

  13. chefbradford Says:


    I hope this link works. An ex just sent it to me, and it’s hilarious. Just watch, please.

    My faves on this video are Radiohead and Dave Matthews. Gotta watch it

  14. albert walker Says:

    I’m late to this party but Gillian Welch does some cool rootsy, traditional Americana folk thing

    the cat she tours with has some pretty good chops

    my girl dragged me down recently to one of her shows and it was really quite good

  15. SillyWilly Says:

    Oh yeah! I do have a Susan Tedeschi album. Thanks, flarrdogg.

    my girl listens to mostly females in the line of Regina Spektor, Ingrid Michaelson, Norah Jones…

    if i could just find a little niche to introduce her to my world….

  16. chefbradford Says:

    Didn’t Phish cover a song from Loveless back in the 90’s?

    Haven’t heard much Spaceman 3, but I def enjoy Spiritualized

    Sonic Youth- what I’ve heard (mostly more recent stuff), I’ve mostly liked, but I do need to dip into their insane 80s catalog

  17. albert walker Says:

    if you dig heavier, experimental rock

    Royal Trux is some cat and his girlfriend
    he plays guitar and she howls like a banshee

    one of my fav all time bands
    great experimental stuff heavilly influenced by classic early 70’s rock n roll

  18. chefbradford Says:

    I like Regina Spektor. Quirky, hilarious, often beautiful music

  19. SillyWilly Says:

    Thanks, AW

    i just la-laed gillian welch and i dug what little i heard of her.

    thanks for the recs.

  20. albert walker Says:

    been a while since I pimped these records

    Royal Trux-

    Thank You
    Cats and Dogs

    some of the best rock of the post Nirvana commercial raping of independent rock

  21. Joe Says:

    you probably couldn’t even put out a pamphlet of great women artists of the jam world. Think we need to work on that.

  22. voopa Says:


    On the jazz side, check Jessica Lurie.

  23. SillyWilly Says:

    I love Regina Spektor. her last album wasn’t her best, but she sings some truly haunting/beautiful tunes.

  24. Joe Says:

    sarah on drums doesn’t count either

  25. Phamily Berzerker Says:

    Again, I am way behind in the posts, but I gottta say it.

    Aside from the the crowd interaction, I think the community and fans at large make would/could make some totally cool stuff to share.

    I have to go home and start the fire for mi reina as she is holding court with friends on our driveway and wants a fire in the firepit.

    It was 74 F, here today is a fire necessary?

    As a reformed pyromaniac, or at the very minimum a pyro in recovery, I say yes! No shovelling sunshine in AZ either. Just the facts as it also gets mighty warm here taboot come Mayish.

    You Folks Rock!

    Hooray Phish!

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