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”

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  1. vegas wolfmans Says:

    Nice. I just listened to this jam last week and it absolutely holds up. Band playing over their heads and coming up aces. Page deserves much of the credit for pushing -7 out there. Rest of the band is ready to fade to ambience at 11:30, but he comes over the top with recurring theme that rest of band drops on and blisses out-> second movement -> peak #2 btwn 18:00 and 22:00 -> killer outro -> ghost. $$$. The ghost has never impressed me nearly as much.

  2. gunslinging parrot Says:

    I listen to this jam at least once a week!

  3. st8 of mind Says:

    Mornin’ BB. Nice write-up Miner. Thanks.

  4. Tweezer Says:

    I agree that the Seven Below> Ghost was some of the most adventurous jamming of ’09, but in terms of shows, the first night in Albany was better.

  5. BNCB Says:


  6. Guyute711 Says:

    Louisville to the ACC. Big East is turning into the biggest joke in the country.

  7. PigSong Says:

    Nice one! I don’t have a copy if this anymore – so I’ll be hitting it multiple times this week.

  8. Mr. Palmer Says:

    G$$- In 5 years the ACC will be going through the same thing.

    The Big east will disband and the basketball only schools will create their won basketball conference.

  9. gavinsdad Says:

    taking the sbd to the dome…been quite awhile…

  10. HeadyBrosevelt Says:

    i love this sequence. while there have been better stints of improv since, i still listen to and love the albany -7 > ghost. it occurred when it desperately needed to. i will listen to this today along with the 11/28/97 Worcester show. peace.

  11. HeadyBrosevelt Says:

    we need new crystals of snow here in colorado…

  12. xpun Says:

    “it occurred when it desperately needed to.”

    Yes. Remember my first listen to this on no spoilers. the jams were so formulaic as miner said above and i remember this one just always finding the next section. we had a good blizzard a few weeks later and i listened to this repeatedly as the snow blanketed and buried everything in sight

  13. bob dylan Says:

    Thank you mr miner. Loaded this on the phone this morn for the commute. Leave at 9:48 to be there by noon but it doesn’t matter when I’m transcended to that hot ass gym.

    I got a free ride, ticket and hotel offer that morning from a buddy cause someone bailed. Told my boss “I just got an offer I can’t refuse, gotta go” what a treat. Kickdown central.

  14. DaNcInG fOoL Says:


  15. voopa Says:

    Yikes, this storm is supposed to bring 4-6″ of rain to the valley floor, and up to 18″ in the watersheds over the next few days. Probably won’t be a repeat of ’97, but all it takes is one levee break to fuck things up good. Guess I’d better batten down some hatches.

  16. JamsOnly Says:

    Agree the -7>Ghost is epic, but the Philly show on the 25th was solid with Birds, Twez, and YEM being very well played.

  17. bob dylan Says:

    Just read the top while listening. I got chills. Maybe it’s the iced coffee and brisk air coming in the bus. Either way, I’m now starting to get pumped for New Years.

    Fuck the naysayers, buy a ticket, take the ride.

    PHiSH at the garden with a GA floor! Who’s comin’ with me?!

  18. DaNcInG fOoL Says:

    1 month bitchez!!! See ya on the floor bd

  19. 4thDimension Says:

    13:53 mark of 12/4/99 SOAM = welcome to the 4th dimension

  20. bob dylan Says:

    @Jamsonly Philly night one blew night 2 out of the water tho so it was hard not to bash it a bit. That Reba still stands out in my mind. Mango taboot.

  21. BNCB Says:

    Flying straight into the storm.


  22. sumodie Says:

    The mediocre first set was immediately forgiven when that 7 Below dropped, nevermind the Ghost that followed. Crowd response was massive. Was already on cloud 9 and then the boys laid that YEM encore on us, which has the scariest. (& thus my fav) v3.0 vocal jam

    Did the rest of tour and thought every subsequent show was worthy but it wasnt till Miami that i felt the band truly reaped the benefits of the 7Below>Ghost breakthru

    Damn straight Page led the charge in Albany, Chairman of the Boards refused to be denied that night

  23. sumodie Says:

    My phone may be smart but it sure hates it when i type BB msgs. Recent android software update has made it even more difficult to post here. Grrrr

  24. bob dylan Says:

    As a chairman, you sometimes need to make executive decisions.

  25. gavinsdad Says:

    philly 09 special to me for many different reasons. Missing a friend who left us too soon.

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