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. flarrdogg Says:

    AW- good call on the Gillian. I always forget about her. Definitely some real soulful, rootsy, americana. I don’t complain when my girl puts it on.

  2. chefbradford Says:

    ^Silly- haven’t heard the latest (double?) album, but yep

  3. flarrdogg Says:

    chef- That shit is both creepy and hilarious at the same time. Santa’s a spaceman in space, man.

  4. SillyWilly Says:


    Her latest album was called Far and its good, I just have come to expect the unexpected from her and it wasn’t as weird (quirky?) as some of her other stuff.

    still good though.

  5. albert walker Says:

    anyone that dug hard late 90’s rock

    Jesus Lizard is touring right now with all original members

    anyone that has seen this band knows how sick they are
    one of the math rock pioneers out of Austin originally but played a lot out of Chicago back in the day

    they played 2 shows recently at the Metro and just destroyed the place

    I mean from the first notes Yow was crowd surfing just like back in the day

    the lead singer was notorious for being naked and crazy by the fist tune so people did not know what to expect now that he is an old man

    as crazy as ever
    fell to the floor crowd surfing and left in an ambulance
    fuckin classic
    highly recomended if they come around

  6. Mr. Completely Says:

    yay, Jessica Lurie!

    She is an awesome person. I first met her when her old band the Living Daylights opened for my unknown favorite band of the 90s, Jambay. Living Daylights were a killer, killer funk-jazz trio sort of in that typical late-90s post-MMW vein, but very authentic and cool. The bassist, Arne Livingston, is one of the finest on his instrument I’ve ever seen. A real monster. We used to promote a ton of Daylights shows around here, never made any money but had a lot of great nights. My favorite were some all-improv sets they did with the Slip, billed as the “Slipping Daylights” – each band would play a set, then they’d all 6 get up and just jam for an hour.

    Anyway Jessica Lurie is a killer musician regardless of genre or gender. He husband is a great artist, too, and I think I heard he’s starting to get a lot of work in the comics world….

  7. oldskool Says:

    Just signing on and kind of skimmed but I have not noticed anyone mentioning Wilco in the discussion of “indie” bands.

  8. Selector J Says:

    Khaki King is pretty amazing. She went to middle school with my wife in Atlanta. Wifey says she was a total prodigy. She had a band in middle school and would take everyone’s instrument and show the boys exactly what she wanted them to play. And they’re just like, “ok… I’ll try.”

  9. chefbradford Says:

    flarr- I’m glad you enjoyed. Yeah, it’s a little creepy, but I laughed my ass off

    Dave M- “Show me your…”

  10. Mr. Completely Says:

    Anyone on here into Jambay back in the early/mid 90s?

    I ask that question every 2-3 months on here with no bites so far.

    They were the shit.

  11. flarrdogg Says:


  12. chefbradford Says:

    For some reason I never think of Wilco when I think indie. To me they are, like Phish, completely their own beast

  13. albert walker Says:

    I like my country, country and my rock, rock

    that Wilco shit is like the Eagles to me

    no first puff assholeness shining through

    those are pretty good albums
    def a love this track, hate this track relationship for me

    love the album he ripped off Brian Wilson on most of it
    very heavilly Beach Boys influenced
    shouuld have given them royalties

  14. flarrdogg Says:

    word to arne livingston- that cat is badass. I’m only familiar through what he’s done with SKB.

  15. albert walker Says:

    if anyone here has not heard jesus lizard

    please do a favor and check out Liar or Goat

    instant classics
    nothing like it

    especially if you dig the Steve Albini, Big Black style agressive math rock

  16. voopa Says:

    Heard of Jambay, never heard.

  17. BrandonKayda Says:

    Loveless is incredible.

    That album blew my mind last year when I played it for the first time.

    Bought it at a used record store (that sadly got shut down recently) that had a whole lot of old rare stuff. Good place to find new music.

    Anyways, yeah, Loveless is amazing to me. It is one of those albums that I can only play every once in a while on special occasion. Don’t want it to wear at all.

    Beautiful pink noise

  18. Selector J Says:

    chef yea i liked that video, too. pretty good parodies of everyone. the 311 i thought was really nailed, too.

    Funny thing is DMB already has a X-Mas song called… wait for it… Christmas Song. No mention of ‘mangers,’ unfortunately.

    although not an indie band, there’s my confession:
    from 92-95 i loved me some DMB. Not ashamed. Haven’t listened to them in years but I like the stuff off of Recently and Remember Two Things. There. I said it.

  19. Joe Says:

    the album loveless reminds me of a woman who broke my heart (and the pumpkins Gist).

  20. albert walker Says:

    my freshman year in college before they booted me it seemed the ladies were playin the shit out of that hologram record

    the one you stair at and you see some image

    was pretty indifferent to it

    not the best shit I had ever heard not the worst
    lead singer types tend to drive me crazy

    hence my hatred for Pearl Jam, Doors, etc

  21. chefbradford Says:

    I still like to listen to DMB sometimes, but I think their albums peaked a long time ago, and their live stuff doesn’t do a whole lot for me

  22. Joe Says:

    To clarify. she loved both of those albums.

  23. albert walker Says:

    I admit one day I used to dig the Pumpkins
    I thought Gish was a great record
    would see them live at the clubs around town

    don’t really like any of ther later shit at all

    talk about an annoying frontman

    but as a young dumb kid in high school I thought Gish was pretty hip coming from a local rock band

  24. albert walker Says:

    I’ve always dug the Bowie, T-Rex, Mott the Hoople era early-mid 70’s glam stuff and the early Pumpkins is heavilly influenced by it so it makes sense

  25. Selector J Says:

    I’ll give JL a listen, for sure. Didn’t really know much about them but they’ve been all over the local media press in Austin since their reunion.

    also: in Austin, there’s a band called the Jazzus Lizard. pretty self-explantory. I heard they do a good job.

    If I remember correctly (far from a guarantee there) right before Jesus Lizard reunited there was a multi-member sit in at one of their shows. There was a definitely a sit in. Maybe just one of the dudes…

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