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:

    Not all cops are dicks

    ^ narc alert

  2. MiA Says:

    The back seat in the Catalina was a thing of beauty. Cars today no nothing on how to build a back seat. It was a like a van back there.

  3. dusty Says:

    quarter of bubble fits so nicely in the five fuse boxes. There are links for the p&f shows maybe 20 pages back. Listened to a bit of it. I can’t take Phil’s voice and to me sco and john just seem so out of place. MMW with some great guests coming up if you live back east. Antibalas in SF though next monday. I love the great american and the dog loves the pacific…win win. Mmm..thoughts of sco with MW and cylde stubblefield.

  4. ren Says:

    I know where you work Mitch 😉

    Not a narc…but well connected where it counts. Lots of lawyer friends….1 D.A. and maybe even a cop in there somewhere. Actually got invited to a private Halloween Party in Brooklyn this year by the D.A…all cops. Thats where I draw the line….but I bet they raged it.

    Power corrupts..absolute power corrupts absolutely

  5. ren Says:

    I’ll be happy to imbibe any substances provided under witness to belay any fears

  6. MiA Says:

    The cop in N.O. was great. Really a nice guy.

  7. ren Says:

    One thing the BB has really instilled in me is not to generalize or exclude myself from possibilities.


  8. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    one of the people I frequently see shows with is a state trooper here in MA. the only time he becomes problematic is when he over drinks, since he can’t partake in any of the usual reindeer games that we all play (though I have witnessed him transacting for our benefit, which is nice). otherwise he’s a fan just like the rest of us.

  9. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    whoa. Bielema to Arkansas? what say you Badger people?

  10. tela'smuff Says:

    just wondering what the pulse is on a Bieber themed NYE prank? yes, no, don’t care, etc, etc. it seems obvious at this point, but maybe too obvious.

  11. roberto luongo Says:

    fuck the police

  12. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    put me down for “potentially hilarious” but probably too obvious now

  13. ren Says:

    He’s learning to flex his bawler muscles….doubt he wants to spend his NYE with Phish…probably on a yacht in the Mediterranean somewhere

  14. Dorn76 Says:

    KP did a nice remaster of Albany 12-13-97

    Opens with a 18+ min (!) Yamar that contains a very Tweezerish jam.

    ( . )( . )’s

    he posted the google doc yesterday I believe…

  15. roberto luongo Says:

    missin the BIebs prank is one of the main reasons I’m bummin I may skip MSG

    just to hear the clueless phishies that actually think Troy is cool bitchin about Biebs

    sounds fun.

  16. Dorn76 Says:

    here tis’


  17. DaNcInG fOoL Says:


  18. roberto luongo Says:


    unless he got his shit expunged cuz of drug court Canada never lets ex-felons in.

  19. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    trey just announced he’s playing in Toronto 1/18


    but that phish part is putting the metaphorical cart before the horse

  20. DaNcInG fOoL Says:

    we’ll show him a good time so he’ll come back in the summer with the boys

  21. Dr Pronoia Says:

    Really shocked T3. I was agitating for him to go this year when we were inexplicably struggling but to go right before his 3rd rose bowl is a surprise, and I think, majorly disrespectful to Barry Alvarez (who should step back in???). Plus, Arkansas?? Really? I know the big 10 wasn’t great this year but that’s dropping a tier IMO

  22. Dr Pronoia Says:

    I’d take Paul Cryst back too maybe

  23. Jtran Says:

    TREY? tour


  24. sumodie Says:

    Links to first two Phil & friends shows on p45. Havent seen night 3 pop up yet

  25. Jtran Says:

    thanks for the pointer sumo, downloading the show from the greenboard (whatever night that is – I’m confused)

    The one I’ve spun so far from dropcanvas is great. Really dig the whole show.

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