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. sumodie Says:

    But no word on Trey’s postponed Port Chester NY show…?

  2. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    there are two cap theatre dates for january, the 23rd is the make up one.

  3. voopa Says:

    lol@ Jtran…love The Californians…best bit they have going right now. That and “What’s Up With That?” And WU, of course.

  4. gavinsdad Says:

    so how bout that studio album and studio time. i really dont care about such a thing…i dont need that as much as i’d like them to try new tunes live and warm them up for awhile. hell, bring back Steam for another tour or two.

    but really, i think the page and mike little kid thing and general old family guy stuff is what keeps this band apart. i dont really care about that either.

    in a fantasy world tho i’d like to see
    spring tour (1.5 weeks, april)
    2 leg summer tour (all announced at one time including festi)
    fall tour ending with halloween shows
    dec tour (week)
    nye run

    3 of the above things wont happen

  5. Phlorida Phan Says:

    ^ I’d like to make that dec tour all florida! help a brother out phish

  6. voopa Says:

    Some new material would be nice.

  7. roberto luongo Says:

    Tinker Hatfield is a genius and his AJ IV’s are some of the most perfect shoes ever created

    but DAMN these new Js are hideous!!


  8. sumodie Says:

    Ahh yes a smattering of TAB dates, Albany too so i could skip port chester

    Troy promised there would be phish studio time, wtf. Maybe they’re waiting for the Bieber’s schedule to open up so he can sing on a few tracks

  9. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    and so begin the annual photo retrospectives

  10. sumodie Says:

    Can’t wait to see Biebstah prancing with Troy during YEM at MSG!

  11. snow Says:

    I just finished my youtube video:

  12. bob dylan Says:

    I can’t keep up with the Jordan’s. I thought the IV were re released and jay had them but then when I was looking online it said something like aj60 and they were similar but not totally the same.

    Ill stick to vans I guess.

  13. roberto luongo Says:

    I think they should do a tour with Biebs as the lead singer

    get Tory to start playin guitar again and not worrying so much about his cute little Alaska vocal

    damn I almost forgot about that fuckin terrible song.

  14. DaNcInG fOoL Says:

    i’ve got crash space for the phish in toronto show this summer for anyone who doesn’t think i’m too big of an asshole for them.

  15. roberto luongo Says:

    black friday release MItch. my girl got me a pair for my birthday


  16. roberto luongo Says:

    I only will wear Air FOrce I’s, Air Max I’s and AJ I through V

    more of a retro guy

    the new chool shit started gettin too techy

  17. joe Says:

    new jordan’s make me realize how out of the loop I am. Look terrible to me but I’m sure the kids will love em. probably comfortable though with that old Hurrachi material.

    updated the ticket exchange board

  18. bob dylan Says:

    Never mind. Found em. Those ARE cool Jordan’s. jordans. Jordans’

  19. ren Says:

    Air MAX 90’s all the way

  20. joe Says:

    these were the worst sneakers I ever had. They were free for our hoops team


  21. roberto luongo Says:

    hah. one more thing me and Ren don’t see eye to eye on.

    90’s are hideous.

    the OG Air Max is shoe design perfection

  22. roberto luongo Says:

    Joe the community is in 100% agreement those new Js are the ugliest thing Nike has ever put out

  23. bob dylan Says:


    These are what I’m talking about. They are number 60 but other site says there’s only 28. Can’t keep it straight. Some are Nike. Some are just Jordan.

    Oh well.

  24. ren Says:

    Funny….I saw it as us both being into Air Max’s.

    2 different sides of the coin i guess

  25. MiA Says:

    You guys have a bigger fascination for shoes that Imelda Marcos.


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