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”

  1. Stupendous Says:

    Heading to the Movies at Midnight y’all

    Have phun be safe!


  2. William H. Bonney Says:

    @Stupendous Saw you were in Tampa area, me too. Which 3d showing, are you going to be seeing? I saw Starlight 20 and I guess channel side has it too. R there others?

  3. snowbank Says:

    anyone + phish < phish

    nobody can make phish better than phish. That said, the sit-ins add some spice. I am all for it cause it mixes up tours, but sit-in are ultimately disappointing cause nobody can hang. MMw might be the exception because Medeski can rip.

    @HH & PigSomething- Thank you. That's what I saying, The place went freakin nuts like nothing I have seen before. I felt like my ears were shutting down to protect themselves. The music wasn't even that amazing. Trey just got a feedback loop with the crowd that was crazy.

    I wonder if we can earthquake data from that time. I would bet is was measurable.

  4. locust the lurker Says:

    How ’bout David Byrne for a sit-in?

    He wrote in his journal after Bonnaroo ’04 about possibly collaborating with Trey:

    “Trey Anastasio is on after us, the climax of the festival. He’s doing 2 sets, one with an orchestra and one with a band. After our set he comes into our trailer followed by a film crew and invites me to collaborate in the future, on the orchestral material.

    Unfortunately the sky opens up immediately after our set and we skedaddle before it gets too muddy and the traffic gets insane. So I’ll have to hear what he’s doing later.”

  5. HarryHood Says:

    @ Skyballs

    Very familiar with the area bro. I went to college at SUNY Canton and one of my best friends is from Odgensburg. The middle of nowhere doesn’t decribe it accurately enough!

  6. BTB Says:


    that would be dope, lol.

  7. jdub Says:

    The Fluff peak from MSG 2 doesn’t get talked about as much but it was the precursor to the First Tube lift off.

    MSG 3 was my good friends first show. We just looked at each other after set I, speachless. He’s hooked for sure and is pissed he is in Singapore until November, which means he’ll be back in MSG for NYE.

  8. KWL Says:

    sit ins: my favorite of all time was bela fleck in nashville 95.

    best slave ever, to these ears. then again i don’t seek out slave so i wouldn’t know if there was 1 or 27 better versions

    I would happily listen to bela and trey trade licks any day.

  9. Skyballs Saxscraper Says:

    @ HH

    I’ve targeted two areas that I’d love to live in next: either Burlington or Syracuse. The best two things here are the river and the drive-in, and both are inaccessible for half the year. But if you like peace and quiet, it’s good for that.

    The last big name, music-wise, to appear up here was Richie Havens. During the summer, we get a bluesfest, bluegrass weekend, and there’s some jazz also, somewhere in there. A few wineries, locally. Still I want to get out soon.

  10. flarrdogg Says:

    Hampton Fluffhead still makes the hair on the back of my neck stand straight out. Just relistened.

  11. Selector J Says:


    Something tells me you can’t back that up…

  12. HarryHood Says:

    @ Skyballs

    I’ve lived in Burlington twice and my brother currently lives in Syracuse. I also dated a girl for a year who lived in Syracuse. If I had to pick between the two, I’d go for the Cuse. Burlington gets old fast.

  13. Selector J Says:

    re: Fluffhead
    I got goosebumps just reading about it in Miner’s post.

  14. ThePigSong Says:

    re: Fluffhead
    I got goosebumps reading about you guys reading about Miners post.

  15. Chuck D Says:

    Carl Marx might have some words for you Selector.

  16. voopa Says:

    List of theaters showing Ph3D at midnight:

  17. Mr.Miner Says:

    in re: to earlier conversations…f*&k Phish covering Dead songs at this point in their career. That would be lame-o.

  18. Luther Justice Says:


  19. Kaveh Says:

    @Miner – agreed…won’t want to see a Dead cover.

  20. Luther Justice Says:

    Trey is not a fake Jerry. Just sayin.

  21. flarrdogg Says:

    I’m perfectly fine with Dead covers being a thing of the past. Having said that, Standing On The Moon or So Many Roads would bring the fucking house down.

    LJ- What’s up, homie? Told some of my peeps about the “I pity the fool” parenting technique we were discussing the other day. You may want to be on the lookout for an “Uncle Jessie Wanted” craigslist ad.

  22. Mr.Palmer Says:

    Flarr- still rocking that stream from jazzfest. Thanks again. I have to get down there next year.

    Link for NOLA stream is on page 7 BTW.

  23. William H. Bonney Says:

    If phish wants play a dead tune great, if not cool. Hard to call it lame. IMO

  24. Mr.Miner Says:

    Got a Friday Greek to trade for a saturday. Hit me up if you can do this

  25. William H. Bonney Says:

    @ Selector J Thanks for some reality, there.

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