Six Defining Moments of ’09

11.21.09 (W.Rogell)

On the coattails of yesterday’s top ten jams of 2009, today I’ve compiled a different type of list. Not all highlights at Phish shows come from cosmic jams, and sometimes, the most poignant moments emerge from places one least expects. As Phish returned to the stage for the first time in five years, particular songs took on enhanced meaning, delivering a message all themselves. Below are six Phishy moments that dotted ’09 with significance.


6. “Corrina, Corrina” 12.30 I, Miami

This dark-horse selection came within the crazed setlist of December 30th’s opening frame, and when the band dropped into the old-school cover, a blissful calm washed over the arena. Back in Florida, Phish broke out this song ten years to the day they revived it at Big Cypress. In a weekend filled with musical nods to Phish’s millennial festival, the band’s calm cohesion provided a heart-tugging reminder of The Everglades, while soothing the crowd with a gorgeous rendition.

5. “Shine A Light” 10.31. II, Indio

10.31.09 (G.Lucas)

The gospel-infused peak of Exile On Main Street provided one of the most cathartic moments of ’09. Coming at the end of their masterful interpretation of The Rolling Stones’ classic, this Halloween rendition with backing singers and horns, brought a musical church to the polo fields of Indio. Putting an emotional cap on the soul-drenched double-album, “Shine A Light” provided a memory nobody will soon forget. In a wise move, Phish adopted this cover into their catalog, a perfect anthem for this golden era of their career.

4. “First Tube” – 12.4 I, MSG

"First Tube" 12.4.09 (G.Lucas)

Energy; the word is thrown around loosely in the Phish scene. But at Madison Square Garden, one moment embodied the relentless, unbridled spirit of the entire Phish community – “First Tube.” The crowd fed of Trey’s obvious energy, making him only more excited. Collectively exploding in roars of enthusiasm, the crowd fed symbiotically of off Trey’s overflowing aura, creating a legitimate human event. Every last person in that round room swam amidst an electric sea of energy of the likes I’ve never seen before. Collective consciousness had never felt so real as The Garden sat on the brink of implosion. Listening back, this might not sound particularly special, but if you were there, the mere memory brings goosebumps. If talking sheer power, this moment takes the cake.

3. “Icculus” 8.14 II, Hartford

Hartford (T.Salido)

Following a shredding combo of “Ghost > Psycho Killer,” Phish drifted into a hefty dose of onstage antics as they segued into “Catapult.” Trey’s goofy nature emerged within a classic narration, and subtly, the band began vamping over the changes of “Icculus.” Continuing with his most amusing on-stage monologue of 2009, Trey plastered Gamehendge-laced smiles on the faces of everyone in the amphitheatre. Proving that the spirit that once drove the band in their early years lived again this time around, this sequence deep in Hartford’s second set became the most significant non-musical passage of the year.

2. “The Curtain (With)” 8.1 I, Red Rocks

Red Rocks '09 (G.Lucas)

When Phish ended their 2.0 career with a horribly botched “Curtain (With)” encore at Coventry, the hallowed composition came to represent all that was wrong with the band’s finale. Crashing and burning rather than going out gracefully, Phish couldn’t even pull off the song, having to start from the top again. Many thought “Curtain” would open their comeback show in a five-year “do-over,” but whenever it emerged, the moment was going to be special. Coming as a shock, in the daytime set of Red Rock’s third show, the band tore into the beginning of the song. Drawing a huge crowd reaction, we were suddenly thrust into an incredibly emotional and Phishy context. As the compositional half merged with “(With),” Trey poured his heart into one of his most pristine solos of the year. On a perfect summer afternoon at Red Rocks, Phish hit the reset button for this era, and it felt perfect.

1. “Fluffhead” – 3.6. I, Hampton

Hampton '09 (Unknown)

Unmatchable and untouchable, Hampton’s “Fluffhead” opener will live eternally in the Hall of Fame of Phish History. Evoking the very magic that had been absent from 2.0 with the seminal (and difficult) composition they had avoided like the plague the last time around, “Fluffhead” sent a powerful message from moment one of this era. Somewhere between awake and dreaming, we found ourselves at home again. Nobody will ever forget the feeling they had when Phish walked back into our lives with, perhaps, the most iconic chord progression in their repertoire. Pure magic of the most spiritual nature, the universe shifted back into alignment, and once again, life was just a bundle of joy.


Jam of the Day:

Reba” 12.8.94 II

In the best-ever year for the song, this creative second-set version wrapped up “Reba” for fall tour.




10.17.95 State Palace Theatre, New Orleans, LA < Megaupload

10.17.95 State Palace Theatre, New Orleans, LA < Torrent

State Palace Theatre - New Orleans

State Theatre - New Orleans

This is one of the shows  that Phish co-billed with Medeski, Martin, and Wood along their southern run in Fall ’95. MMW came out in each and jammed with the band. This one goes out to Lycan – finally!

I: Sample in a Jar, Stash, Uncle Pen, AC/DC Bag, Maze, Glide, Sparkle, Free, Strange Design, Amazing Grace*

II: Mound, Prince Caspian, The Fog That Surrounds, Suzy Greenberg > Keyboard Army > Jam**

E: My Long Journey Home^, I’m Blue, I’m Lonesome^

* Sung first by the band, and then by audience member “Nathan,” a gospel singer

** w/ MMW, ^acoustic

Source: Unknown

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731 Responses to “Six Defining Moments of ’09”

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  1. butter Says:

    for a man searching for ideas for a write up, this is quite a piece

    reading todays write up brought me back to the exact feeling i was having when those moments occurred

    all of those moments being beyond words, you did quite a nice job describing them Miner

  2. garretc Says:

    Why is it not summer yet? Baffling, absolutely baffling…

    *shakes head*

  3. MuthaOhks Says:

    Great piece. I actually had a “Phish Moments ’09” party this year. Everone attenting the party submitted their 3 best moments at Phish in ’09 (in advance). I stressed the “moment” aspect- you know, when you feel reallly feel IT. I then made a compilation of all of our moments and we listened to it at the party. It sparked some great conversations and memories. I ended up with a five disc, 5.5 hour, “Moment’s ’09” compilation. Many of Miner’s choices did end up on the disc.

    It will be an anual event. Good post.

  4. Willowed Says:

    Good morning friends!!

  5. Angryjoggerz Says:

    Morning all… have a great one!

  6. brother Says:

    That “Swept Away” from Miami would another moment I would add to list. The jam that they added on at the end was an amazing moment for sure.

  7. gavinsdad Says:

    definitely would love to catch a swept away…that’s and a billy breathes…

  8. Luther Justice Says:

    The MSG First Tube picture is one of my favorites from ’09. The crowd and Trey shared a moment and we knew our strong bond was still there after all of these years.

    Who’s to say some of the band’s best years aren’t right in front of them? This band is pretty fucking awesome IMO. Everytrime you think you’ve got them figured out, they surprise you. That’s why I love them so.

  9. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    fantastic post. with each of the “moments” on this list I found myself nodding in agreement. order works perfectly for me too. If I had to stretch it out to a list of ten particularly phishy things, I’d add the following:

    10) Alpine Brother – Father’s Day, family vibe, bring the kids to work day
    9) Bruce Sit In – not especially phishy though it was definitely a huge moment for Trey
    8) Genesis Induction – they slayed WITS and Trey gave a great speech about one of his biggest influences
    7) SPAC Harpua – mainly for the personal element of the story. Trey has history there and he hasn’t shied away from it yet.

  10. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    dang emoticons…

    the shaded smiley is supposed to be “8)”

  11. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    oh, and I did see that Fee4zy called me out on my “axiom” last night. Clearly, she is not a Breakfast Club fan.

    No gauntlets need be thrown down, but I look forward to sharing a few gorilla fingers if the opportunity arises!

  12. Luther Justice Says:

    I read that last night T3. She’s got your number. Be ready to throw down if you two meet this summer.

  13. jdub Says:

    Good morning BB. Nice follow up Miner. MSG Fluff was almost as explosive as the first tube, but not quite the same. People didn’t know what to say at set break, just complete awe at what the band had just done to us. That feeling will stick with me a long time.

  14. Little Buddy Says:

    Great write up, Miner. The further we get from 2009 the more these kinds of moments seem to resonate. Good times!!!

  15. Dbone Says:

    6 is an odd number for a top # list, but I know Miner is just making this up as he goes along so its all cool.

    I don’t know if I would necessarily put it on my own list, but I wonder what others think about the guest appearance of the Boss as a defining moment of 09. Probably not in the context of all things Phish or the music, but in terms of sheer coolness for Trey especially.

    Another one that I think could go up there would be the whole New Year’s prank (along the lines of the icculus and real return of goofy phish).

    And another one would be the Halloween map and album cover gags. I’d put that on a list because of the history tha Phish has had with online communities (creating around them in the early days of the interwebs) and their close band/fanbase interaction. To be able to revive that in a way like the map and album covers did is pretty amazing and pretty cool considering how much the internet and phish and their fanbase has grown since the early days.

    myy $0.02

  16. pagesidehighschool Says:

    Hartford Icculus was sweet, and well played too. I caught the last one in oswego, but can’t remember what it was like. only if there was a way to get that show so i could give it another………… wait a minute

    I saw sharon jones and the dap kings on colbert report the other night. fn sweet, my kinda music. the band built their own recording studio with analog equipment to get an older sound, cool stuff

  17. Mr. Icculus Says:

    @Miner First Tube MSG just reading that gave me goose bumps thx.
    thats what makes me keep coming back for more, wish others like family and freinds around me could understand that its far more than tye dies and drugs, its a spiritually cleansing moment that can only be found at a phish show.

  18. Dbone Says:

    @T3 the Genesis thing was technically in 2010, or? But who’s nitpicking. I agree with your additions to the moments – SPAC Harpua especially.

  19. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    oh yeah, guess that was 2010. guess I’m a little slow on updating my internal calendar. okay, soooo… I’m gonna replace it with the Rich Vac and NYE Prank Duo. Those two are as phishy as all get out.

  20. punkmug Says:

    Great posts the last two days Miner. Bravo! Great reading and reflecting on 2009.

  21. pagesidehighschool Says:

    My defining moment came at greatwoods. it was babies momas first show. she was really enjoying herself and having a great time with all of my friends. When they started up fluffhead, she looked almost puzzled, confused with all the commotion. even though it wasn’t the best version of the song, the crowd went nuts at the peak. she turned to me and said “wow, i get IT” its so amazing to watch them blow someones mind for the first time

  22. pagesidehighschool Says:

    ^she jokes today, “we had such a good time at that phish concert, that we went back to the hotel and made some babies” AAAAAAAAAAHAHAHAHAHA!

  23. ma Says:


    i saw this topic coming Yesterday… wow, intuition!
    these two topics together define phish…you can’t have one without the other…bring on the ballads debate!

    if i could add 1 to the list, it would be “i just want to see his face”…talk about collective consciousness.

    enjoy the day!

  24. BTB Says:

    On the drive into work I was thinking about “moments” of 2009 as a topic. Woah brahzzzzzz! My vote is Fluffhead > Corrina. Damn is that Corrina beautiful.

  25. BTB Says:

    Guys + Gals, click on my BTB Tab for the complete “Ray Anastasio” art collection.

    These ‘serious’ works of art are pretty good. Disclaimer: I got the links from a PT thread, so I take no credit, but it’s easier to see when you can just scroll down and look at them all at once instead of countless links.


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