Flipping the Script

12.5.2009 (Graham Lucas)

Three years ago today, Phish turned the ship around. Amidst a fall tour that featured limited creativity, less a few jams here and there, the band unveiled a 48-minute sequence that remains among the most adventurous of this era.  Where they often reeled in their excursions, the band pushed on, shocking everyone in The Knick on that fateful November night. Many cite Albany’s “Seven Below > Ghost” as a legitimate turning point of 2009, and considering the course the band took for the rest of fall tour through Miami, that assertion would be hard to argue against.

Albany ’09 Print (Brosmind)

Phish had played an impressive second leg of summer, specifically out west where stands at Red Rocks and the Gorge illustrated a much enhanced improvisational confidence. When the band returned to the east coast to conclude summer, however, the their risk taking diminished, managing about one serious jam per show. With the start of Fall Tour started, Phish stepped inside for the first time after their comeback shows in Hampton. Throughout history, fall tour, traditionally, saw the band’s experiments darken and the intensity of their jamming elevate, but over the first half of Fall ’09, their musical progression plateaued.

Despite a few gems, specifically Cobo Arena’s “46 Days,” Philly’s “Disease” (which built upon a highlight version from Detroit) and a rock solid second set on the first night of Cincinnati, the band’s extended jams followed a cookie-cutter pattern of shredding rock > percussive grooves > ambient washout. The night before Thanksgiving, Phish dropped their weakest show of tour in Philadelphia, capping an sterile night of music with “Time Turns Elastic.” Needless to say, this wasn’t the anticipated path for the first fall circuit since 2000. But then we got to Albany.

The first night in New York’s capitol showed hints of inspiration in the debut of “Golden Age” and a scorching version of “Piper.”  But after the second night in Albany, nobody would be talking about the first. To kick off their fourth and final set of the two night stand, Phish took “Seven Below” off the shelf for the third time of the year, and this one would be unlike the previous two. Pushing far beyond convention and outshining any musical plane they had visited during the year, the guys played off each other with stunning fluidity, progressing through several melodic themes en route to a soul-tickling escapade. Infusing the magic of lore into their set-opening jam, Phish wove original music of the likes they had only hinted at during the peaks of summer. And as they wrapped up 25 minutes of pure catharsis, they segued smoothly into “Ghost!”

12.6.09 (G.Lucas)

Playing with an abandon unseen in ages, the guys keenly navigated a melody driven turned sweltering psych rock rendition of their groove vehicle that quickly stood out as the version of the year. A multi-tiered jam that slithered through several distinct feels, Albany’s “Ghost” contained as many daring twists and turns as “Seven Below,” and this entire sequence of egoless interplay set the community ablaze. Harnessing the adventurous spirit and whole-band unity that once defined the quartet, Phish cranked through improv so original it made the most of the year’s previous music sound contrived.

There aren’t many jams from 2009, that didn’t take place in The Gorge or Miami that still lavish the praise of Albany’s revelation. With new momentum in tow, Phish jams grew bigger and bolder over the final week of Fall Tour, a palpable shift that graced the band’s return to Madison Square Garden and their tour-closer in Charlottesville. Throughout their comeback year, Phish experienced re-growing pains as they worked their way back to prominence. And though they didn’t turn that corner in earnest until a month later in Miami, it was this night three years ago that set the band on course for their Holiday Run transformation.


Jam of the Day:

Seven Below > Ghost” 11.28.09 II, Albany, NY

[audio:http://phishthoughts.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/12/ph2009-11-28s2t01.mp3,http://phishthoughts.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/12/ph2009-11-28s2t02.mp3] Tags: , ,

1,498 Responses to “Flipping the Script”

  1. bob dylan Says:

    ^is that 12/20 a secret show in case Mayans were right? Or a typo for 12/29?

  2. bob dylan Says:

    Guess 12/30 typo seems just as likely.

    Boredom on the bus to work again. Home at 11:15, go back at 6:09. I’m not a happy camper with scheduling.

    Bring on the PHiSH!

  3. bob dylan Says:


    ^dui laws on weed in Seattle. Looks like we’re all screwed even on days we don’t smoke…

  4. Spasm Waiter Says:

    Sup bb? Chilling w baby spaz this AM making plans to go to Tulum Mexico in Feb. looks sweet. Thinking Soloman Bay house rental. Amy experienced BBers in that regard?

  5. Spasm Waiter Says:

    Sup bb? Chilling w baby spaz this AM making plans to go to Tulum Mexico in Feb. looks sweet. Thinking Soloman Bay house rental. Amy experienced BBers in that regard?

  6. xpun Says:

    went to tulum week after Halloween AC. we stayed at an all inclusive that wasn’t too impressive but we had a good time. def hit tulum and chichen itza. spend a day in playa del carmen, shops and such. beautiful area, mayan cities are impressive.

  7. PigSong Says:

    Also planning a trip – Kolkata for a buddies wedding in June. The more research I do the more I think I need to persuade the missus to leave baby at home. Doesn’t sound like the healthiest place for a 7 month old to travel to.

  8. tzara's Says:

    @bobby d, that was a pretty weak, uninformed piece from NPR IMO. Interviewing people drinking mushroom tea? Come on. There’s been a lot of stoner paranoia about this issue, but my understanding is that they are not testing the compound that stays in your system for a month or so. It’s another one that spikes up when you imbibe, then drops off more quickly.

    I also don’t see them being excited about doing a bunch of blood tests on random people, just because they ran a stop sign or something. If you’re stinking up the car and billows of smoke come out, then I’d be worried.

  9. PigSong Says:

    A blood test breaks it down with a high reliability rate if you’ve smoked in 1-3 hours, 3-9, 9-18…ect (or something to that effect).

    Is there a phantom new post up or something?

  10. oldskool Says:

    Slacked too long on ordering the Star Lake DVD and now the bonus disc is no longer available…The disc is really the only reason I was ordering so if there is a lossless download around please let me know

  11. Spasm Waiter Says:

    Xpun- Thanks man. Sounds like a cool area that is pretty easy to get to. I like bonefish and they frequent that area. We are going to rent a villa and slow it way down for a week. Did you find bane?

  12. BNCB Says:


    My dude Charlie D with Leg 2 Phishthoughts. Nailed IMO.

  13. plord Says:

    Calling a “Take 5” Opener on the 28th in honor of Brubek’s passing.

  14. Spasm Waiter Says:

    Too bad about DB. He was one of my Dad’s very favorites. T5 is pretty iconic tune.

  15. Spasm Waiter Says:

    ^cool artwork depicting some gamehendge characters.

  16. BingosBrother Says:

    Did the internet die? Canadian holiday?

  17. BingosBrother Says:

    Beginning to get concerned…

    Phishthought – Lizards lyric, 2 ways of looking at it, always bugged me.

    the lizards were a race of people practically exctinct from doing things smart people don’t do.

    Now, are they practically extinct? Or do they not do smart things anymore?

  18. BingosBrother Says:

    Triple Nipple you lazy bitches.

    Trey opens for Crazy Horse on ACOUSTIC. Sunuvabitch.


  19. BingosBrother Says:


    30 Days of Dead zip dl


  20. MiA Says:

    Noobs. 😉

  21. Spasm Waiter Says:


  22. ElJefe Says:

    Tzara- I voted against bc of the grey area shit. Still happy it passed though! ; ) Just go tix for Tomahawk in Feb!!

  23. MiA Says:

    The latest Is at. http://phishthoughts.com/2011/10/14/ttff-holidays-at-msg/

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