The OPhishal Welcome Back Party

6.6.09 (D.Vann)

6.6.09 (D.Vann)

Phish has finally arrived. If you were to form a setlist of the highlights of summer thus far and put them into one show, they wouldn’t surpass what happened last night at Camden.  Creating the massive show of dance grooves that we have all been waiting for, Phish played a show that was an assertive announcement of their return to prominence on the last night of their east coast run. In one of Trey’s favorite venues, and quasi-“hometown” show, Phish slaughtered two sets like they haven’t done in ages. The band is once again firing on all cylinders for the first time in over a decade, as every single person in the venue left wide-eyed and in awe of what they had just witnessed.  Everyone was tapped in last night, band and audience alike, and we all floated out of the venue after the show.  Phish has IT again; this is when things will start to get serious.

As soon as they took the post-“Fee” jam out into a tightly-woven, blissful excursion right off the bat, everyone knew things were on.  Phish went on to crush the whole set as the entire band continues to connect more and more each night, with each member just as active as every other. With a nasty “Wolfman’s” jam, Phish commenced the groove-based theme of the show that would finish as the antithesis of the night before. Playing the first “Guyute” since last time around, Phish ran through the composition with aggressive confidence and coherency; an incredible performance of the loved anthem.

6.6.09 (D.Vann)

6.6.09 (D.Vann)

Phish continued to bust out songs we haven’t heard this tour throughout the first set, including the subsequent triumvirate of “My Sweet One,” a dirty but tight “46 Days,” and the welcome 3.0 debut of “Lizards.”  While listening to “Lizards,” it felt like we were walking through a corridor, back into a world we once knew, but with five years behind us, that world wasn’t quite the same- it couldn’t be.  But it just might be better.  Everything about last night’s show points to the possibility that the future may yet hold Phish’s brightest days.

6.6.09 (D.Vann)

6.6.09 (D.Vann)

After a blistering version of “The Wedge,” one of the band’s ultimate summer favorites, Phish slowed it down the first “Strange Design” of this latter era.  The ballad felt more poignant during this third chapter of our Phish lives. Closing the set with the ridiculously adrenalizing- and witty- combination of “Tube” and “First Tube,” as Trey commented after “Tube,” “Well, we might as well play this one now.”  The crowd responded in a huge way to the bombastic one-two punch, with the set closer being a real set highlight as the band obliterated the rejuvenated and extended ending.  From the pit to the lawn, the crowd was buzzing at setbreak following one of the most exciting first stanzas of summer. The five hour bus drive down I-95 seemed to rev up the band’s engines as Camden slowly morphed into Phish’s first 3.0 wonderland- with the band swimming and surrounded in IT for the entire show. As the newly shortened set break passed, everyone clearly knew that it was on like Donkey Kong for set two.

6.6 (D.Vann)

6.6 (D.Vann)

We knew that it would be huge and we knew that it would be funky- but what would it be? When the band threw down “Sand” for only the second time since coming back in 2002, it sounded crisp and we knew we were in for a treat, but we didn’t know the half of it.  Over twenty minutes later, after some of the most sublime Phish dance music you’ll ever hear, we were left in awe of the peak Phish experience we had just had. I’m pretty sure- on instinct- that everyone in the venue felt the same way.  We had just lived the hugest dance jam of 3.0- “The Camden “Sand”- a dynamic of exploration of rhythm, and his time melody was part of the mix!  It wasn’t only Trey chopping funk and creating wildly distorted effects- he was also playing incredibly engaging lead lines for much of the jam, adding another element to the already fiery work of Mike, Fish and Page.   With melodic themes lacing the energetic grooves and the band’s creative energy fully back in effect, this jam really turned into something special.

Following the blistering set opener, Phish tore apart another dance jam with the upbeat funk of “Suzy” and then absolutely slaughtered “Limb By Limb” with a stunning “type I” rendition of the jam. A night where everything was a highlight, one of the most interesting was the debut of Mike’s “Sugar Shack.”  Featuring quirky changes and some very smooth grooves, the exciting new installation to Phish’s catalog also sees Trey sprouting composed carnival-esque melodies.  It’s good to see a new Mike song in the mix, and this one is a great one.

6.6.09 (D.Vann)

6.6.09 (D.Vann)

The next part of the evening was the most intriguing.  A disgustingly raging “Character Zero” was putting a cap on the best show since the comeback when upon the ending of the song, Trey ripped into the beginning of “Tweezer?!” “What?!” In the most startling moment of tour thus far, Phish ripped into their improvisational epic deep into set two, weaving one of the night’s huge highlights and placing the song as the second set closer for one of two times in history!  As the band dug into the improv, Trey picked up a lead that he took through the duration of the jam that was infectious as hell as the band created a sublime jam with a rendonkulous peak to put an exclamation point on the northeast leg, and the best show-of this summer by a mile.

Mix-and-matching their setlists, continuing an emerging pattern, Phish is keeping everyone on their toes these days, something exemplified by Camden’s four song encore.  When it felt like a classic “Bouncin,” “Reprise” was coming, the encore blossomed into something much greater.  Including the debut of “Joy,” another great new song, and a surprise “Antelope” into “Reprise,” the band ended the show with the ultimate bang.  While the northeast run had its amazing moments leading up to Camden, last night IT all came together in grand fashion.  Heading south, the warm weather awaits while Phish is, simultaneously, starting to bring some heat of their own.  As we step inside Asheville Civic Center, the sense of anticipation will be heightened, waiting to see what our musical acrobats will do next.  I can’t wait to find out!

I: Chalk Dust Torture, Fee, Wolfman’s Brother, Guyute, My Sweet One, 46 Days, The Lizards, The Wedge, Strange Design, Tube, First Tube

II: Sand, Suzy Greenberg, Limb By Limb, The Horse > Silent in the Morning, Sugar Shack*, Character Zero, Tweezer

E: Joy*, Bouncing Around the Room, Run Like An Antelope > Tweezer Reprise

* debut

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313 Responses to “The OPhishal Welcome Back Party”

  1. shpongleyez Says:

    msb, got you confused with hawkinbj: sorry!

    too many consonants…

  2. Bwana Sun Says:

    On tap for Asheville – my calls: Rocky Top, Ginseng Sullivan, Funky Bitch, Mike’s>Weekapaug, Halley’s Comet, Walk Away, ASIHTOS, Fire

    I’ll be waiting for the “No Spoilers”… Gonna be sick!!!

  3. BTB Says:


    I can probably give you a ride from DC to Alpine. I’ll have an empty car at that point. You’ll even get the passenger seat – I’m only going to the Saturday show though, you’ll be on your own after that. if you want a ride…

  4. guyforget Says:

    WOW! Just listening to last night for first time right now. WOW!

  5. Walfredo Says:

    Best Tweezer Ive ever heard. Just sick. Second set is just a wave of adrenaline.

  6. Wax Banks Says:

    Speak for yourself Mr. Miner, I couldn’t care less about dance grooves, that usually means 15 minute 2-chord jams, which bore me to tears. Give me prog rock Phish and concise, tight jams any day over white boy funk.

    A curmudgeon after my own heart, sort of!!

    ’15 minute 2-chord jams’ describes everything from ‘Mike’s Song’ to ‘Fire on the Mountain,’ and if you throw in an extra chord or two you get ‘Stash’ and ‘Hood’ – and I wouldn’t necessarily call any of those jams ‘dance grooves,’ though you can certainly dance to them. Let’s face it, Henry: for some people, dancing is a mnemonic or focusing device, enabling a certain kind of commitment to (and even concentration on) improvisation despite its inherent uncertainty.

    I’m with you this far: I think ‘Sand’ is a stupid, juvenile song. (Almost as bad as ‘Jibboo’ and ‘First Tube’!) But damn, that Camden performance turned out to be something extraordinary – shifting from one tonal center to the next, chord frameworks emerging in time, the beat protean despite its momentum…the prog band in your head can do a lot of stuff but they can’t do that.

    None of us want the fucking Disco Biscuits to replace Phish onstage tonight, but the open-ended funk tunes and ‘dance grooves’ give Phish a chance to do extraordinary things, complex and unprecedented things. (Dare I say…’heavy’ things? I dare not.) They won’t be returning to 1997 anytime soon, but you certainly can at home, if only to remind yourself that far and away the strongest and most adventurous run of Phish shows came when Phish’s basic performance element was (or was becoming) the ‘dance groove.’

    Ignore the carping from the gallery, in any case. Unless it’s guitar tones and arena sound you’re interested in, the discussion here is gonna stay somewhat uncritical – by design.

  7. mine that bird Says:

    the fee was sick, its being overlooked

  8. schanzerelli Says:

    Dude – Not sure what you were listening to in Set I but clearly Trey was either on something….or not on something. Agree that this was an amazing setlist on paper but after a pleasant and standard chalkdust and fee…..Wolfmans, guyute, MSO, lizards and strange design were an absolute mess (lyrically, musically, groovishly ect…). All the more disappointing given how tight, crisp and on fire they were at jones beach on thursday night with a much lesser setlist on paper. Thank goodness whatever trey was on wore off or whatever he took at the break kicked in….because everything from character zero was in fire. Trey knew he was off as well as evidenced by him not wanting to get offstage once he found his groove for real in character zero and through the 4 song encore.

    sorry – dont mean to be negative…..and have never posted to a board before but have seen at least 50 shows……and dont actually recall a section of a set being as flat and disappointing as the middle of set I. But every show is a good time regardless. still the best option out there for an overall good time.

    Also – side note – what the hell is up with that hell hole in camden. great view. but parking, facilities, sound on the lawn, ect…..just horrible. i imagine i was too “happy” in my prior visits there to even notice…but was pretty”happy” sunday as well and cant imagine a place designed any worse. blow it up…..start again (the stadium…not the city…..though that may be a decent rebuilding plan for camden as well).

  9. Max Cascone Says:

    I’ve heard nothing but great things about this show, and it’s next on my playlist (going in order so I’m all caught up for the midwest run next week!). However I think your statement “The band is once again firing on all cylinders for the first time in over a decade” forgets about the Miami NYE 2003 run. That run was hailed as three of most fire-filled shows in anyone’s memory, and this is coming from people who had seen 200+ shows. So, I just didn’t want the justified excitement of what’s happening now to obscure the sickness that was Miami 2003.


  10. oneshowatatime Says:

    i’ve only listened to the song 2-3 songs, but am i a douche if i like “Joy”?

  11. linderama Says:

    Missed the Jones Beach shows, but thoroughly enjoyed mansfield and camden. Both the mansfield and camden shows really brought me back to feeling alive again, when the jam-ro-mance first started in ’89/’90 in the Capital Region of NYS. The first set of Mansfield, for me, had me wondering what journey was in store for us that evening. I really wanted dirty phunk grooves or noodle grooves or a mash up of those both. First set was a GOOD set for me, and offered a little spice, but wasn’t the “dirty” show I was hoping for. Second set, however, was smoking not too long into seven below and as Mr. Miner says, the band was firing on ALL cylinders! The 2nd set of mansfield carried the energy all the way to camden for a smoking, sick, first set that ended deep and phunky. In bwtn sets, I tweet #phish suggesting a Sand for an opener would shake the house down. I shared my tweeting with those around me, and lo and freakin behold, the boys give me a Sand, a 22 minute, freakin sick Sand to open second set! Did I say thank you? – absolutely not enough – so thank you again! Second set was so random and phunk-rockin’ for me, tight and right-on and groovable. These two shows were like renewing vows to the one you love and they deeply reminded me why I started the relationship in the first place. They showed us their deep love, and we gave it back. The love for jamprovisational music is alive in this wonderful community we know as Phish. I love to hear them explore and journey through and some of my fav moments from them are still soundchk at the IT show, the Control Tower Set, the fourth set at Lemonwheel, the siket disc, you see where I’m going… let them explore and ye shall find a new adventure!

  12. linderama Says:

    I liked Joy. Particularly coming from the perspective of having a beautiful 8 year old daughter who is in a shared parenting relationship and we want nothing but joy for her.

  13. Jim Says:

    Fee and Lizards have some major f-ups. Hvaen’t gotten to set II yet…

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