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. lastwaltzer Says:

    alright folks out again bout to pick up the keys to the new place.

  2. SillyWilly Says:

    This whole debate actually is perfectly consistent with my love for Phish.

    Phish is a perfect example of artists working against a (capitalist) system. I am not, however, giving Phish a political agenda. They don’t have one. They are simply having fun and this to me is the essence of originality.

    So what is politically beautiful about Phish?

    Taping Policy….I’ve been able to enjoy Phish for free for years. I never saw one show pre-2009 but ive listened to weeks and weeks and weeks of shows without ever paying a cent for it….And Phish approved it!!!!!

    thats fucking beautiful.

    Every Phish experience is designed to be different. Far from the canned shit designed to maximize profits by requiring as little work as possible to replicate, Phish challenges themselves to give us something new and unique every show.

    How is this political? Well, in choosing to act as they do they necessarily reject the system. Dissent is political.

    Phish always wins.

  3. jdub Says:

    @Silly, I think we posted the same concept at the same time.

    @Chef, good question. Golgi is what comes to mind.

    I don’t think Phish will cover the GD, but damn that would be an epic Halloween bash.

  4. ChefBradford Says:

    Silly, I like your style

    So we’ve got YEM, Glogi, both classics. Any other takers?

  5. Lycanthropist Says:

    @chef –

    divided sky opener

  6. EL Duderino Says:

    @ ChefBradford

    It’ll be Chalkdust… 🙁

  7. William H. Bonney Says:

    Only problem is some of the Goldman Exec. aren’t at the company anymore. Moody’s has to share blame giving out BS ratings on all that. We got work to do, without a doubt. Just not sure we have people to get things done, the right way. Letting companies fail and go thru bankruptcy would have been true capitalism. Which is what any one of us you runs a business would have to do. Re-organize make some tough calls and not make the same mistakes again. Instead we bailout every body who is connected the congressmen or senator. Which brings back Goldman, no body is better conntected. I fear we are doomed to go thru more trouble before we get a real handle on things.

  8. SillyWilly Says:


    Funky Bitch.

  9. locust the lurker Says:

    @ El Dude:

    Yes and I’m in bliss right now.

  10. ChefBradford Says:

    More classics. It’d be nice to see something new/er pop off. Also be nice to see some of last year’s ‘standards’ drop a bit lower in rotation. I’m curious to find out what Trey and Tom have been working on.

    Too much to hope for a polished “Golden Age” opener?

  11. halcyon Says:

    What up BBoard…..

    Halcyon Checking in after a craaaaazy day at work. 70 degrees yesterday with 60 – 75mph winds, followed by 12″ of snow last night. Non Stop action at work. Luckily it was my friday, have a few pints of sammie smiths to drink and some blueberry to bane with. should be relaxing

    Colorado BB’ers

    KBCO presale for Franti tomorrow am, general onsale sat may 1st 10 am….git sum!

  12. EL Duderino Says:

    Another semi-collapse is coming.

    Either way they’re crooks.

    Hank Paulson is a douche!

    It’s his scam.
    Cut off his fuckin’ head and put it on a fence post in front of the federal reserve building IMO!

  13. jdub Says:

    What I love about Phish? They publicly share their connection to the source, creativity in the moment shared by thousands of people who are 100% present. Art on a wall doesn’t do this, it is a bit self indulgent and disconnected from the audience. Most forms of music are the same. But high level improvised psychedelic music opens a portal that no other art can match.

  14. SillyWilly Says:


    I take that back.

    They’re gonna open with Sand and when they do we’ll know……….

    watch out for your face this summer.

  15. EL Duderino Says:

    Remember these are the mother fuckers who wanted to put the Social Security in the market!

    Wonder how that would’ve turned out for all of us if that happened?

  16. SillyWilly Says:


    great post, man. gave me chills.

  17. William H. Bonney Says:

    🙂 Sounds like a plan Genghis Khan would be proud of. Yeah we all know the fat cats will skate and some mail room clerk is going down for whatever happens.

  18. William H. Bonney Says:

    Tampa Bay Rays are so much fun to watch. This almost make up for all the misery of the first 10 years. Rolling again tonite 5-0 already.

  19. pagesidehighschool Says:

    Wow jay z and the dead convo, isn’t there a horrible mash up of the two, the grey album, or is it the gray album…..

  20. locust the lurker Says:

    Summer ’10 opener = Timber (Jerry)

  21. Skyballs Saxscraper Says:

    The Rays have been a legitimate AL East Contender since 2008. I’m glad they’re in the mix now, it’s no fun always watching the Yankees beat up on the Red Sox.

    …okay, who am I kidding, it is SO much fun. But variety is good, yes?

  22. (Formally Known As) BrandonKayda Says:

    What’s up BB?

    Summer 10′ opener will be Punch

  23. Skyballs Saxscraper Says:

    pageside: I think it’s Jay-Z w/The Beatles White Album.

  24. Looking For Owls? Says:

    William H. I live here in Tampa, Can’t agree with you more, was at the game on tuesday. They are fer real

  25. Skyballs Saxscraper Says:

    AC DC Bag?

    Let’s get this show on the road.

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