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. gavinsdad Says:

    and also with you @jamzonly….thought S2 nite 2 philly 09 was played strongly. esther and tte deflated the tire but they played them both really well. lots of fun behind stage with @bobdylan and good friends.

  2. Dorn76 Says:

    Was thinking we needed a new post, as time was drawing near…..and voila!

    Nice one, Miner. Hope you had a great holiday week.

  3. gavinsdad Says:

    on the floor msg 12/29. hope to catch a few of ya.

  4. bob dylan Says:

    Popped my behind stage cherry at those. I have our seats with your bro in law burned in my minds eye. I liked that venue for PHiSH. We did our best to stay positive post show for your bro in law “buuut, last night was smokin” #tte’d

  5. bob dylan Says:

    Wish this job would call back. Only been a day but its a big boy job with time off between Xmas and NYE. Compared to my current job that is doing everything possible to get us fired. Just changed the attendance policy and ill surely be down with disease come the 28th. I only secured the 30-1 off.

  6. DaNcInG fOoL Says:

    awesome gdad, see you there

  7. Mr. Palmer Says:

    Got a pregame room across street from MSG on 29th. Hotel Penn.

  8. gavinsdad Says:

    Got a pregame room across street from MSG on 29th. Hotel Penn.

    ^maybe i can get snuck out of the hotel under a room service cart tablecloth.

  9. Kaveh Says:

    morning BBers

    Nice write up @Miner…good to recall Albany in the memory banks.

  10. roberto luongo Says:

    made my first adult decision of my life and am gonna sit out NYE this year

    did the numbers trying to grab hotel and flights this late with scalped tix and it was probably close to $5K for the run

    nothing against Tory. just not sure I can swing it. burned myself by goin all in on GA floor mail orders and even got shut out first time on sale. oh well wasn’t meant to be.

    have fun kids.
    time to start lookin for lame Chicago shit to do cuz sure as hell ain’t gonna be webcasting that shit all pissed off.

    fun post Miner. that 7 below does smoke
    for a while there we thought TOry forgot he was supposed to play his guitar
    09 crazy year.

  11. Kaveh Says:

    close to $5K for the run

    ^ Just think of the amount of beer you can by to watch the shows via couchTour! #massiveParty

  12. Mr. Palmer Says:

    Curious what some of the blackboard’s electronic music connoisseurs think of some of these newer bands. ( well, new to me)

    Pretty Lights
    Big Gigantic

  13. DaNcInG fOoL Says:

    c’mon RL, do it ned styyyyle

  14. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    I know it isn’t your scene, AW, but LoS is playing Chicago for NYE this year.

  15. Mr. Palmer Says:

    Not worth 5k man. Not much is.

    Rl doesn’t drink beer, but I bet he can get a few pairs of kicks instead.

  16. MiA Says:

    Great hometown show for those that can share hotels, drive in, etc.

    Coming in from the outside can get very expensive. Especially if you’re tastes run above the Four Points in Chelsea.

    For $5K, you could webcast that shit from the Amalfi Coast or Hanalei.

  17. roberto luongo Says:

    ya TIII

    that dead cat can pick a banjo like nobody’s bizness (probably doesn’t help current tour) but the leftover shtick is kinda tough to take.

    who knows may just do it to have something to do.

  18. Mr. Palmer Says:

    Aren’t your buddies from Umphrey’s a local Chi-town band. I’m sure they are playing.. We aren’t helping, are we?

  19. roberto luongo Says:

    not new years weekend MIA

    that’s the problem. nice tropical beach vacations over the Christian holiday and new years are like 5x regular prices minimum for flights and hotels. most are booked far in advance.

    we’ve looked into a few islands. makes MSG run look cheap.

  20. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    UM is playing ATL (Tabernacle) for NYE this year

  21. Kaveh Says:

    @RL — Island vacations are always nice to look forward to.

    Didn’t know you didn’t drink beer, so as @Palmer said, you can get some sweet kicks with that amount of money for NYE in NYC.

  22. gavinsdad Says:

    yeah that’s a big nut AW…you and the wife have made quite an effort in 3.0. it’s ok to take a back seat sometimes even tho it stings.

    (i try not to think to much about missing the greeks, both dicks, superball, etc).

  23. voopa Says:

    Saw LoS and SCI 12/31/97. Went for Mother Hips, missed ’em. Worst NYE ever.

  24. bob dylan Says:

    Palms, UM hasn’t been doing the NYE in chi-town the past few years.

    I remember UM NYE 05 at the Aragon like it was 7 years ago. Keller Williams opener. Ahh. (Over/under on Luongo taking the bait?)

  25. IrieWalton Says:

    Haven’t seen a single live show this entire year after catching multiple runs throughout my whole life. Its gotten easier as the year has gone on, but mostly due to the fact that the 30th Anniversary Tour gets closer and with it the hope for a PDX>Gorge>SEA run.

    Make it happen!

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