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. dusty Says:

    good stories. Much blessing to all of you and your families. I am amazed how together some of us our with kids. Not I.

    cash out and clean on underside of t-shirt


    I also used my socks for the clean. Classy.

  2. roberto luongo Says:

    mid 90’s we never rocked socks

    flat ass skateboarding shoes and no sox was the uniform. too hard to keep track of clean socks on tour.

    had to go t-shirt

  3. voopa Says:

    Me & 3 buddies cannonball runned the beginning of Fall ’95…after spending the night after Cal Expo in our own beds, we hit the road for San Diego at 8am, but I locked my keys in the car at our last stop before leaving Stockton! The rear windows on the Colt popped open to the back, so we were able to get the driver’s side one open and use a broomstick to pop open the door lock. Fortunately, that was the only hiccup…we were like EZ described with the piece every 30 or so, whale spouting down the valley…found parking in SD right in front of the venue and ran in just as the show was starting.

    Drove to LA to crash at a friend’s after SD…long day. Went to Tower Records on Sunset the next day and picked up Hundred Year Hall. Pharmie fest at the LA Greek that night. Next day dropped one friend off at his place on the coast then headed to Shoreline, including a stop at Trader Joe’s were I picked up a case of Oregon Honey Beer (sold it all before and after the show)…walked into Shoreline and my best friend from home was right there inside the gate with two tabs waiting…

    Haven’t been able to do too many stretches like that since…’97 Ventura>Shoreline>Gorge, ’98 PDX>Gorge>Shoreline>Ventura>Phoenix, ’11 HB>Tahoe>OSL…well, I guess there have been a few 🙂

  4. gavinsdad Says:

    sculpin bomber in my fridge. love stumbling on those. i think its got some peach essence. def a grower. should surpass your love of green flash @kaya if you have enough of it.

    love these tales too. never had that bad of luck but waiting to get into oswego certainly wasn’t fun. the Went is so long ago i cant remember and at clifford ball it was so new and we were so early that we didn’t have traffic.

    i’m so old. ’90 summer we waited at deer creek for friends from norcal to set us up. that was AFTER the band got theirs first. i got clean in late May 93 so i never really saw and droughts. 91 – rehab things were good cause Fort Collins was also Fort Closet.

    i need a new phish song

    MIA – i have started to grow less fond of CCCC Halleys…that ’99 ambient wash dissonance sound with the shralpy shreddy Trey isn’t my fave. i prefer a little more crispness. i feel like i’ve just about played all the big famous jams to death and now need some alternates. even looking at T3’s list from last nite made me think “holy shit the BB learned me some phish since 09”.

  5. gavinsdad Says:

    not dissing all of ’99 whatsoever…just starting to fade on the quad C Halleys.

  6. bob dylan Says:

    2 speeding tickets in one run? If that’s the same cop that woulda been a nice one.

  7. kayatosh Says:

    sculpin’s a very tasty brew — $$$. taste the peach. can’t find it by the case. but am on the prowl. expensive brew.

  8. MiA Says:

    I’ve definitely gotten burnt on certain songs. But I love the build and the never give up. Have you listened to the Bathtub Gin from the same show?

  9. kayatosh Says:

    love that gin, mia. right into simple.

  10. voopa Says:

    Oh shit that reminds me, I got 2 tickets the weekend of Halloween ’98. One outside Kettleman City on the way out to the coast on the 28th, the other on the 1st about 20 minutes from home (after driving for 14 fucking hours).

    One was thrown out because it wasn’t on the books when I went in for the other one…plus we were carrying a damn drugstore that weekend. Got really lucky.

  11. ren Says:

    Pulling up to the Clifford Ball….got there at some ungodly hour…still dark. Didn’t realize how close we were and decided to clam bake the hell out of our ride…like FULLY. Came around a bend and saw flashing lights of the highway patrol…thankfully was the entrance and they were helping to organize the line of traffic. Opened the doors, letting out a huge cloud of smoke with a smiling trooper glaring at me. He wished us well and said he was glad to have us. I took my pic with him…still have it.

    Not all cops are dicks

  12. roberto luongo Says:

    not all cops are dicks

    ya some are cunts

  13. gavinsdad Says:

    will check that Gin

  14. Dorn76 Says:

    I can assure you there would have been no speeding tickets in my Volvo diesel. Alas I sold it for $500 the Summer before and was sporting my new/used Mitsubishi Galant.

    Zippy little car that I eventually totalled at a toll plaza on the Jersey Turnpike. Group of very nice and probably very uninsured latino fellows I rear-ended were happy to see I was ok before they drove off.

  15. gavinsdad Says:

    @kaya – the only case of sculpin i had was earlier this year and was 65$. ouch.

  16. joe Says:

    I also recall cypress being very dry for herbs. Seemed like everyone was looking. We had enough for ourselves but my preception was that there wasn’t much to go around. Found some nice LSD though.

  17. Dorn76 Says:

    What I mean was they spoke only Spanish and had no interest in taking down my info.

    Bit of a twitter misunderstanding has me worried anytime I even mention race.

  18. ren Says:

    @Dorn- My 1st car was 1989 Galant Sigma Edition….fancy. Metallic gold exterior, brown velour interior. One of the ugliest cars I’ve ever seen….but loved it like an ugly mutt. Being almost a year older than a lot of my crew it got a lot of use for that first year while it was the only car to be had. It took us everywhere…in all sorts of altered states. During that year it was decided that if we all survived with me driving that year I would fulfill my obligation for lifetime. Still holding many of them to it 😉

  19. kayatosh Says:

    ren; one more solo tip: employ periodic, slight lift to the stem for increased air flow.

  20. MiA Says:

    First car was a 1967 Catalina. Blue though. Was a little rustier.


  21. MiA Says:

    That 11-30-95 Dayton Tweezer is a lot of fun too. That whole sequence into Maki and Antelope is very fun too. Nothing real crazy but very very good.

  22. ren Says:

    @kaya-kind of like jigging the slide on a bingger I imagine. Thanks for the pro-tips!!! I’ll come to you with more specific queries when I’m immersed

    I feel like MiA last week….except it shipped USPS 2day. Don’t know why they bother tracking as it usually shows up before tracking is even updated

    1967 Catalina-some would call that classic…..purty

  23. dubber Says:

    Has anybody come across recordings for Phil’s Terrapin Crossroads with Medeski and Scofield yet?

  24. kayatosh Says:

    get some


  25. ren Says:

    Forgot that #line once melted face


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