We Follow The Lines Going South

6.7.09 Camden (D. Vann)

6.7.09 Camden (D. Vann)

Still reeling from Camden’s throwdown as we make our way down to Asheville, the excitement for the rest of this Summer is now bubbling more vigorously than ever.  With six summer shows under their belt, Phish looks to dial up the intensity and improvisation as we enter one of the most anticipated weeks of tour.  From the mountains of Asheville, to the sleeper in Knoxville (tickets are now going for $12 on TicketsNow!), and from the monstrosity of Bonnaroo to the intimacy of The Fabulous Fox Theatre- this week holds countless promising moments.  The venues will be diverse, including both the grandest and smallest stages of the summer, and it’s all kicking off with an indoor GA show tonight in Asheville.  Having re-acclimated to the live setting, the band looks to springboard off their colossal night in Camden and continue their fireworks down south.

6.7.09 (D.Vann)

6.7.09 (D.Vann)

The band members are having a blast on stage night after night; flashing huge smiles, joking with each other and the crowd, and clearly sharing our enthusiasm for what is unfolding this summer. Trey, Page and Fish look like kids in a candy store up there, and while Mike is always more reserved, his bass has been expressing his thoughts in between subtle smiles.  This positive energy and enthusiasm has permeated their music into the audience where the crowds have been spectacular.  Everyone at the shows is having a blast and it seems that most people are coming for the right reasons- in celebration of Phish.  Once again, we are living IT, and it feels so good to be home again.

6.7.09 (D.Vann)

6.7.09 (D.Vann)

One of the most encouraging trends on this leg has been the copious amount of new songs, virtually all with improvisational potential.  Not to mention that when these pieces are compiled onto Phish’s forthcoming album, they may just comprise the most impressive studio effort of the band’s career.  Each piece focusing on a different piece of Phish’s sonic repertoire, the new material spans the Phish spectrum from ballads to psychedelia to straight-ahead rock and roll.  It will be interesting to watch the development of these new songs and see when they are placed as centerpiece jam vehicles in the show.  Personally, I look forward to the time when Phish builds big second set versions of “Stealing Time From the Faulty Plan,” the playful “Ocelot,” and “Twenty Years Later,” just to name a few.  And that time could be sooner rather than later.  Phish’s songwriting hasn’t been this strong since 1997 when they debuted a slew of new material that summer.  And with the way things are going, I think we will continue to hear further debuts as we shift into the southern run.

With the band improving by the night, it has been like watching time-lapse photography of Phish’s re-development.  Harnessing the precision and energy that put them on the map, and channeling it into a renewed improvisational spirit, the odysseys that made Phish famous are again knocking on our door again; and we’ve never had a more welcome visitor.

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344 Responses to “We Follow The Lines Going South”

  1. Brimley Says:

    Not that I like all car salesman, and most live up to the ratfink/weasal image they convey, I do have a buddy who is a manger at a local Ford dealer and he’s a great guy…

  2. msbjivein Says:

    No Roo for me…….Have to work on Saturday..BOOOOOoooooooooooooo
    I’ve seen your Band before. I can’t remember where but I do remember catching them at some point. HAve fun @ Rooo!! Late Nite set will kill!

  3. Kaveh Says:

    It is all about patience and letting the band get themselves together again on stage. It has been great fun to watch and listen to this process taking place from Fenway onwards. I think each show has gems here and there, but Jones Beach III and Camden are places where it all started to come together.

    “Running before they could walk” ….great point. We have to remember it has been 5 years for these guys…it just isn’t going to turn on like a light switch.

    But the process of watching it is awesome.

  4. El Duderino Says:

    FWIW, Workingman’s Tracker just began a GD ’78 project today! April ’78 is just as good if not better than May ’77 IMHO. 😉

  5. Danny B Says:

    I think Hood is right, nothing so far has been a throwaway. They are still warming up, and I think they will be warming up all the way through 2009. Every show so far has had moments of brilliance, and moments where the band seemed a little lost. And yes, every show has had flubs. I think the one thing we can agree on, is that we are all there for the moments of brilliance, and they are starting to dominate the sets each night. JB3 and Great Woods didn’t get a lot of love, but as Hood said they converted some people to Bug, Jiboo, etc. I thought the Jiboo jam, Caspian, Bug, and Julius were sick. Those are songs that I don’t normally hope to see, I don’t dislike them that much, but I wouldn’t put them on my wish list. Great Woods changed that. The energy during the Julius encore was off the charts!!!!!!!!

  6. msbjivein Says:

    I’m sure there are some cool car salesmen out there. Please don’t be offended if you’re a car salesman. Actually he was a “Used Car Salesman” totally different breed.

  7. HarryHood Says:

    I guess I was one of the fortunate one’s who had no sound issues at Fenway, yet I still didn’t find it to be a great show. They played some classics, and I really enjoyed a few songs, but I never really felt IT. After five years without seeing them, I was really amped and ended up walking out feeling unsatisfied. There was NO lot scene to speak of, and things just didn’t feel right. Great Woods however was completely opposite. I walked out buzzing with excitement about a show that I hadn’t felt in years! I’ve love seeing a great setlist from the next night and thinking that I still wouldn’t trade it for the show I was at. My first Fluffhead, a stellar Hood……. I’m still reeling.

  8. GuitarPicker420! Says:

    Having listened fairly attentatively to the entire tour, I think that they are clearly heading in the right direction. It was clear to me, after the first hiatus, that they had not dedicated themselves to the band, the composed parts were sloppy, and overall, I found Phish 2.0 uninspiring, thus the lack of shows attended. Listening to just the first 9 shows of this year, I am stunned at their effort, and really enjoy what they are doing. I like a 40 minute tweezer as much as the next guy, but I really appreciate a well crafted jam that says what its going to say, and then doesn’t try to be more than it is. I have seen too many “jam bands” that just jam and don’t play songs. That is something we don’t have to worry about with Phish 3.0 The songs are the key and they are definitely doing them well. I would like to see them work on their harmonies a bit more and I would like to hear the rest of the band up in the mix as Trey has sounded out front the whole tour. There are parts where you really need to hear the freight train that is Mike and Fish up there to support what Trey is doing. I can’t wait for the Roo and then on to the Creek (my hometown and the venue I have seen them at the most)

  9. HarryHood Says:

    The sound has definitely been uneven. I was on Page side for GW and at times couldn’t hear Mike at all. Second set was a bit better, 1st set was rough. I’m hearing that people on Fish side had no issues with Mike’s sound. I’m thinking that the new sound guy needs to walk the venue during sound check and see how it is throughout. And for God’s sake TURN MIKE UP!!!!!!

  10. El Duderino Says:

    I agree with what you just said fully GP420

  11. Mr. Completely Says:

    @El Dude – thanks for the heads up, I have been so focused on trying to keep up with Phish shows that I haven’t been checking the usual haunts. I am a big fan of April 78 as well and there are still several shows I either don’t have or need upgrades for. April ’78 is the home of pure shred!

    I really really liked Miner’s metaphor of the time lapse. After the big “we have arrived” moment at JB3, they took a sharp turn and said “hm ok now let’s try an old school kind of show focused on tightly played composed material” and pretty much nailed that too. GW is going to be the forgotten show out of the last 3 and understandably so but there’s some great stuff in there.

    Oh to close out (or revive) an topic from yesterday – funk jams rule, especially when they lead into epic ensemble improvisations that build to giant peaks. Epic dance grooves are not simply devices to keep your body busy so you can concentrate on the heady stuff, what a silly and overly cerebral idea! Of course it can have that effect, but that’s not the point.

    The point is that dancing is fun, people. At least it is if you’re any good at it, and at a Phish show all it takes to be good at it is to think it’s fun, and not care what you look like. Yes, it can induce a trance that can be used to access higher states of being. BUT THE POINT IS THAT GETTING DOWN WITH YOUR BAD SELF IS WHERE ITS AT much moreso than nerding out on the movement between various tonal centers or whatever. I mean, whatever floats your boat, but don’t condescend.

    It was “Dionysian Productions,” remember. Not Apollonian. <– I’m speaking in nerd terms here, if you don’t get the reference, it’s not interesting enough to google IMO – but still true.

    Prog rock is boring every listen after the first. It’s kid stuff, IMO – or really “overly intellectual young dude” stuff. Fluffhead’s a fine song and all, but give me a jam like that Sand anytime.

    Plus, fellas – chicks dig the funk, yo. Word.

  12. Kaveh Says:

    Yes HarryHood, you were on of the lucky ones that had good sound at Fenway. The wind keep us in and out all night, and that really made the show hard to really get into. After all I’ll take a great sounding seat over sight anyday, as that is why I’m there, to listen. So needless to say, I’m looking forward to next week at the Fox when the sound will be silly good.

    And I agree with GuitarPicker420…we all love the 30-40 minute bombshells, but I’ll take the band as they are now. Clean, mean and playing with a percise, execution frame of mind. That is how it was when I started seeing them 1993, so a rebirth to that setting, although in totally different times, is making the summer tour 2009 a great one.

    Hope everyone is loving the love that Phish is bringing.

  13. El Duderino Says:

    @ Mr. Completely anything form the venerable CM is where it’s at. Enjoy the ’78 project I know I will. Hopefully CM will put something new out in up-grades. He seems to do that for almost every project 😉

  14. HarryHood Says:

    I think we need an update on the Indy Falcons………..

  15. HarryHood Says:

    haha….. Just thought of a new sports team. The Indy Famous Falcons!

  16. DaNcInG fOoL Says:

    red rocks july 8 1978 is one of THE best dead shows ever (and i say that as someone who recognizes that the dead went downhill after ’77)

  17. Chalkdustin Says:

    It’s like watching your kids grow up (I don’t have kids but I can guess what it’s like). There are some great times and some struggles, but in the end it’s a great journey.

    “There’s good points and bad points.”

  18. Mr. Completely Says:

    A friend and I were listening to the Sand again last night and as the jam was peaking I said “that was nineteen minutes well spent” – meaning in their first hugely extended jam they still stuck to the “all killer no filler,” zero meandering approach. So great! And such great musical conversation in that last 5-6 minutes!

    The best thing was that even tho it’s an ensemble jam all the way, at the peak Trey tears off a great series of leads to take it over the top – like a classic Ghost jam or the Sand breakout at the Gorge: Song -> Epic Dance Grooves -> Ensemble Improv -> peak by The Trza -> And We Deflate

    a brief stumble at the very end underlines the truly improvisational nature of the piece

  19. kevin are hollo Says:

    the sad truth tho, and what i think henry whats-his-name was referring to, is that the advent of the funk or groove based playing happened to coincide with (or stimulate? up for debate) the dearth of practice, sloppy playing, and eventual decline in performance quality.

    so while you had several years of really incredible playing (the full-band improv you point to above), with a burst of digitized funk of 40,000 years, you also had shows creeping up that were evidence of a much looser grip on composition, technique, etc.

    one could argue that it’s “easier” to create textured sounds over a bedrock groove of one or two chords, particular when you’re high on opiates.

    ditto for straight-up rock songs with loud raucous soloing in a traditional blues fashion.

    careful with the generalizations, completely, especially if you’re going to start crossing over into fusion. weather report (my single favorite band) was often lumped in with other proggers and while i would never argue for yes’s greatness, weather report simply can’t get boring (there’s too much to digest!).

    if i miss anything about the phish these days, it’s what i’ve missed for the last decade or so. that thrashy, punky, metal sound that was so prevalent once upon a time, that was so aggressive and violent. yeah, they’ve grown up, and so have i, but those emotions never really go away, do they?

  20. El Duderino Says:

    Dancingfool, I don’t know where you get that. Fall ’79, late spring early summer ’80 there are so many after ’77. Not sure where your coming from. Mr. Completely set this straight, down hill from ’77 hmmmm

  21. worthlesswampyfool Says:


    we need “chicks dig the funk” lot shirts!

  22. kevin are hollo Says:


    i’m planning on doing some audience interaction flyers for the fox.

    care to help out?

  23. Mr. Completely Says:

    @Chalkdustin just made me remember – after listening to some Camden last night we threw on the DVD of Talking Heads live in Rome and watched Adrian Belew communicate with aliens thru his guitar – Cities at blistering tempo and with extra verses – Crosseyed – Houses In Motion – etc – any Phish fan that has not seen this show should stop whatever they are doing and check it out

    I’ve posted these here before but it was awhile ago so here
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6g8lFmsCXhg <–crosseyed with intro funk jam

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NaMzKpNC2Jk <– houses in motion
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2KQjy02eqOk <– the great curve

    I know it won’t happen but I’d love to see either of those last 2 tunes reappear in a Phish setlist

  24. El Duderino Says:

    I used to have the “Got Phunk” lot shirt back in the day. I think it was ’99 when those were rolling around

  25. msbjivein Says:

    The Falcons are gone…….I know it sucks. My day will begin to creep by now. I want some action up here. More Falcon attacks!!!!!!!

    Gas to get to work=Maybe $5
    Watching dudes get attacked by Falcons=Priceless!!!

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