Before we plunge head first into Leg II of summer 2o10, let’s pause for a moment to reflect on Leg II of 2009. Phish came out at Red Rocks and redefined this era after a tentative run in June. Boasting far more confidence, Phish showed up in Colorado in a relaxed musical state, willing to take risks they weren’t prepared to take only five weeks earlier. When the year came to close, Leg II of summer stood out as, perhaps, the strongest segment of 2009, with musical highlights abounding. Today we hit the brakes for a moment and glance in our rear-view mirror at The Top5 “Moments” of Summer 2009 – Leg II.
5. “Number Line” 8.16 II – SPAC
While this SPAC show didn’t quite provide the final exclamation point that people expected, Phish did throw down one of the standout jams of August in their final show. Morphing their shiny-new anthem “Backwards Down the Number Line” into primordial soup for the soul, Phish built upon their Chicago rendition from a week earlier. Until Phish threw down Blossom’s “Number Line” this June, SPAC’s version stood as the crowning moment of the song’s young career. This jam provided a dark final excursion to end the tour before the rest of the set turned to fun.
4. “Icculus” 8.14 II – Hartford
In this moment, we realized that Phish was still comprised of the same four zany guys that started the band back in the day. With his addiction and glassy-eyed stare years behind him, Trey used “Icculus” to launch into classic rant about the technological overload of modern culture, and how everyone needed to get back to reading The Book. The Phishy spirit that had grabbed us all at one point in our lives and dragged us into Gamehendge had returned. To see the look on Trey’s face when this went down pretty much said it all. Everyone left Hartford smiling that night.
3. “46 Days” 8.15 II – Merriweather
Buried in the consensus “worst show of Leg II” was perhaps the best jam of the tour in the ludicrous version of “46 Days.” Remaining in the song’s structure for approximately three minutes, the band shifted into full destruction mode immediately. Trudging through a cosmic sludge, Fish hit a change and Phish took off for the heavens. Flowing like they seldom have this era, the band locked into one of the more magical jams of this era. Any semblance of “46 Days” was left in Phish’s vapor trail as they took a hose-powered journey to the edges of groove and bliss.
2. 7.31.09 II – Red Rocks
The second set of the second night of Red Rocks still stands, in my opinion, as the best single set Phish has dropped in this era. Featuring jams aplenty, fluid transitions, and the Red Rocks “Tweezer,” this frame can stand up to any other – easily. Played in three mini-suites, Phish graced the audience with “Drowned > Crosseyed > Joy,” “Tweezer > Number Line,” and “Fluffhead > Piper > A Day In the Life.” If you have any doubts or hazy memories of this night, go re-listen, it never ceases to amaze.
1. 8.7.09 – The Gorge
In Phish’s first night back to the Gorge in six years, they played a show that likened a soundtrack for the mystical natural surroundings. Fusing together several patient jams, Phish – literally – played differently at The Gorge, a trend that has held true throughout their career. While everyone has their favorite shows, this two-set Picasso featured three of the jams of the year in “Sneakin’ Sally,” “Light,” and “Bathtub Gin.” And you just don’t get that in one Phish show these days. That is without even mentioning the glorious combination of “Hood” and “Slave” that ended this special night. (And we might as well tack on the second night’s “Rock and Roll” while we’re here.) Needless to say, the band’s return to the Columbia River Gorge won’t soon be forgotten.
Jam of the Day: Leg II Venue History Week
One of the defining jams of Summer ’97 from the first night at Deer Creek.
DOWNLOAD OF THE DAY:
8.10.1996 Alpine Valley, East Troy, WI < Megaupload
In Phish’s inaugural visit to Alpine Valley in 1996, they dropped significant versions of “Reba,” and “Bathtub Gin” in the first set, while showcasing “Fluffhead” and “Harry Hood” in the second. With this show, Phish inherited the massive Midwestern mecca from the Grateful Dead and prepared to blaze a legacy.
I: My Friend, My Friend, Poor Heart, AC/DC Bag, Fee, Reba, I Didn’t Know, The Horse > Silent in the Morning, Rift, Bathtub Gin, Cavern
II: Wilson, Down with Disease, Scent of a Mule, Free, Fluffhead, Hold Your Head Up > Whipping Post > Hold Your Head Up, Harry Hood, A Day in the Life
E: Contact, Fire
Source: B & K 4021Tags: 2009, Jams, Summer '09