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. albert walker Says:

    I know it is still chill down there

    but the 80’s – mid 90’s was crazy for small label music down there

    so many greats came out of that scene in so many different genres of music

  2. Selector J Says:

    the one you stair at and you see some image
    yep, that’s “Remember Two Things”

    Recently was the EP one that you had to order from their newsletter thing. That one had some high energy live tracks like ‘Halloween’ and their ‘All long The Watchtower’ cover… (I can literally feel my cool points being sucked violently back into space…)

  3. Mr. Completely Says:

    used to go to Austin a fair bit

    Cliff Antone was a buddy of my Dad’s back in the day, owner of Antone’s, the bar where SRV and Jimmy Vaughn came up…lotta great music thru that place…

  4. Mr. Completely Says:


    still a pretty happening venue I guess, different location though I think

    Cliff was a crazy guy back in the day

  5. Selector J Says:

    Austin is definitely a good spot to be in if you’ve got to be in Texas. 80s mid 90s was pretty crazy from what I hear. B-hole Surfers were blowing up. The last golden age of music for here.

    Cliff Antone is a god around these parts. He died not too long ago. Before he passed he brought legendary blues pianist, Pinetop Perkins, in to his house and gave him regular gigs at his club. Pinetop is like 97 and still plays a weekly at Antone’s.

  6. Selector J Says:

    “…But Antone had to relinquish ownership of the third — and some might say best — Antone’s at 2915 Guadalupe St. in 1984 when he was convicted of possessing more than 1,000 pounds of marijuana and served 14 months of a five-year sentence in federal prison…”

    Yep. definitely a crazy guy back in the day.

  7. chefbradford Says:

    a quick apology/correction- earlier I said that MBV’s ‘Soon’ EP was great; I meant the EP “Glider”, on which the song ‘Soon’ appears

    my b

  8. Selector J Says:

    should have kept reading… gets way better:

    “Clifford Antone’s troubles worsened in 1996 as federal agents investigated a drug ring responsible for smuggling more than 5 tons of marijuana from Mexico to the United States and Canada. Antone’s name appeared in the ledger of an El Paso drug dealer, who used the book to keep track of his suppliers and buyers, court documents show.
    Agents then raided Antone’s Town Lake condo and seized $60,000 in cash, a 50-pound scale, shredded papers, 2 ounces of marijuana and a vial of cocaine.”

  9. Robear Says:

    Can’t keep up anymore.

    Glad we’re discussing levels of greatness, re: Fall tour

    With Mitch on MSG


    Can’t get enough of 12/30/09

    Haven’t hit the 31st yet. Back to the shed for more work.

  10. BrandonKayda Says:


  11. BrandonKayda Says:

    2>1>3 when I think about it

  12. Mr. Completely Says:

    yeah Selector

    he was a founding member of the Free Mexican Air Force – that was a real thing, not just a Peter Rowan song.

    he was a hero in the smuggler’s underground in the 70s and 80s…didn’t realize how public all that is now.

    really not sure how much I can safely say, me and my peeps have been well away from that scene for over 20 years now, but still…

  13. Mr. Completely Says:

    people who keep ledgers in plain text or any non-military-grade encryption are just idiots is all I can say

  14. Gavinsdad Says:

    Solid convo as usual…dipping into all the nooks. For me I like to connect the guitar wank dots from Neil y to j mascis to Doug martsch. Love indie soloing. Add a little scoop of Nels cline sonic wanking in this latest wilco incarnation and I’m good.

    In 10th grade we’d get baked and listen to rems reckoning, Jesus and Mary chains psycho candy and zappas joesgarage. Watermelon in Easter hay in particular.

    I’ve followed gobs of music from when it was called college rock to alternative to now indie rock and the same rules apply. Too much hype. Find the wheat in all that chaff. I work for a hipster death star and this year wasn’t terribly impressed with many of the pitchfork top 10.

    I’m more like AW in that I’d rather hear the band that influenced the derivative band (ie listen to gang of four and wire instead of the rapture etc etc).

    Keep it comin.

    By the way….I wanna meet chuck d. You gonna be at any NE t
    TAB? I already said I’d get a meetup goin for Philly. Lemme know who’s down.

  15. Lycanthropist Says:

    man downers on tryin to do new music..

    realities but still tough none the less

  16. Gavinsdad Says:

    Ps. Loved MSG 2 but my spot was amazing and I was feeling good from meeting handful of you guys at the blarney. Just listened to it in the car today in fact. Liked the dancey elements (boogie and cities and 2001) but also dug some of the melt (stizash and Bowie). Fun time in the 8th row page aisle.

    Also. Had to see a doc today for a bad ankle and he thought I was reading a book by bill bruford (it was among the thugs by bill Buford…about football hooligans…wicked) and we got into it and talked about program, crimson rush and early yes. He then wondered why i didn’t listen to The Porcupine Tree which I guess is an English prog band out now? Can anyone vouch for this band?

  17. Selector J Says:

    crazy stuff, Mr. C.

    Peter Rowan lives near Austin somewhere, too. He’s got something to do with the Old Settler’s Music Fest. I imagine he listened to some first hand accounts of that enterprise before writing that tune.

  18. MGW20 Says:

    Great overview Mr Miner! But how can you leave out the Drowned from Syracuse? The energy was absolutely unbelievable. And the jam moved quite organically, in my opinion. It may not be as type II as you may prefer, but it certaintly held up as a flawless jam.

  19. Lycanthropist Says:

    any body out there?

  20. Mr. Palmer Says:

    Hey Lycan, Found my Radiohead CD The Bends. I really enjoy this record more so than Kid A. Little more rock and roll, little less electronic. Think i bought it when it came out and probably haven’t listened to it more than a few times since.

  21. Lycanthropist Says:

    The Bends was one of those records that made my adolescence. absolutely love it

  22. Mr. Palmer Says:

    Did you say a while back that Chance Fisher covers a few tunes from The Bends? point me in the direction.

  23. Mr. Completely Says:

    old Red Rowan knew the scene first hand, definitely. not hearsay for that guy.

  24. Lycanthropist Says:

    CF covered it in its entirety one show.. What a huge experience that was for me.

    Not only tributing Radiohead, but with a nod to Phish.. it was a real coming together of my musical influences and to be able to do it live, was a long dream of mine.

  25. Lycanthropist Says:

    unfortunately that show didnt get recorded.. however.. i think i may be able to dig up a few of the post-show individual covers that popped up in some later sets.

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