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. gavinsdad Says:

    @ Mr.

    totally agreed. there are so many people that approach this band in so many different ways, from an audiovisual appreciation standpoint and i myself, from my very first show (4/4/90) have DANCED MY ASS OFF to them. we got the fuck down as “kids” and we still do today.

    and for the immediate naysayers…don’t trip, while i’m dancing, i’m listening, intently in fact, and furthermore i am not high as a kite while doing so. granted, i’ve been utterly blotto in the past while seeing the band but overall i’m just trying to say that I like it tech but i also like it funky as shit.

    i was initially intrigued by the bands tech arrangements and then was amazed that you could dance to em as well.

    don’t let me derail the thread here (which seems fairly playful anyway) but i have always ALWAYS been a vocal supporter of fishman’s employment of breakbeats…or beats in the spirit of breakbeats. you don’t need to focus on 97s supposed “cowfunk” to know that dude lays down breaks since the earliest 90s. i’ve mentioned this one before but some of the best breaks are tranny’ing into the reba jam and that pelham, AL 94 reba has some of the nastiest breaks i’ve heard.

    dance or don’t…they’re still fun as shit regardless.

  2. gavinsdad Says:

    @ kevin are:

    return to forever too!


  3. DaNcInG fOoL Says:

    i didnt say they sucked after ’77; i didn’t say they aren’t worth listening to after ’77; i didn’t say there weren’t amazing shows after ’77; but anyone who doesn’t think that after ’77 their best years were behind them doesn’t know what they are talking about

  4. R1 Says:

    just booked flight to Pitt. starlake>alpine is ON!

  5. Kaveh Says:

    Kevin are hollo…sure thing. give me a shout: kjrahimi@yahoo.com

    my wildcard for the whole tour: Big Ball Jam at the Fox. It would be fun to see on of those again!

  6. c0wfunk Says:

    cruised through downtown on the way out of a surprisingly easy workday (I got trapped in a sticky situation, needed a key, called the guy with key and he said — “oh I took care of that already you can go” and it was over shazam!) – the vibe is starting to thicken around the civic center, roads are barricaded and the sun is shining. Most I know have had tickets fall into place, including a small local rerelease yesterday morning.. headed downtown cruise through with the dog pretty soon after a beer and some lunch. On Tour in my living room. Wild.

  7. kevin are hollo Says:

    ^i’m with you completely, gavinsdad.

    actually love ‘romantic warrior’, have it on vinyl…chock full of nasty breaks and metal tones courtesy of di meola.

    yes, too, the fish breaks. now there’s an album i’d buy! “fish breaks, vol 1”

    cf. drum + bass section of YEM, 12-31-93 (alltime fav of those)

    cf. GIN, 11-7-96

    cf. mikes, 12-31-95 (that drumbeat in particular wigs me out)

  8. El Duderino Says:

    That’s cool C0wfunk, looks like things are turning out nicely for you. I wish I was there so we could burn one, got some Mr. Nice, and let me tell y’all it’s pretty nice!

  9. Albert Walker Says:

    that recent RTF tour was the fire
    seeing Clarke, White, DiMieola, and Corea play jam-band similar fusion showed me who the real pros are- not that I did not know

    when jazz cats play rock makes the rock guys kind of look pathetic

    these old timers have not missed a step

  10. c0wfunk Says:

    re: songs and jams and funk and stuff…

    there is often a formula that goes song -> jam on song until running out of ideas -> tool around -> there it diverges

    you can either

    start a new song
    start a new jam. which is where a lot of the magic is Really born

    Fall 97 was a time when they just started a new jam – we’re sort of in between right now, and rarely are we getting that extra jam.

    As far as songs go – they are certainly what separates amateur jambands from the pros – you’re never going to go past a certain point without hooks and singalongs. In 2004 trey seemed Sick to Death of Phish Songs – he was always lost and noodling around the melody, trying to find something new that was trying to get out of him .. over the last years, he discovered again that those songs are great and now he is playing with relish, anticipating and driving like we all remember and love.

    “funk” to me is just a vehicle – there’s always something to dance to – especially if you key in on fishman. At the Show it’s Always about The Dance and the vibe, FIRST! It is the way that we all are able to release those ego hangups and dive into the collective consciousness that gets us There to the place where IT happens every song..

  11. c0wfunk Says:

    right on .. got the mr. nice too so in a way you’re here with me 😉

  12. Mr. Completely Says:

    @El Dude – I technically agree with what he said, but they were so high in 77 there was a long way to come down and still be great. Won’t do a Dead thread hijack, but both you and he can be right at the same time (overall downhill but still plenty of great shows after)

    @kevin – I’m hopeful that what we’re seeing now is a synthesis of the “thesis” Phish 1.0 (old school thru early 90s) and “antithesis” Phish 1.5 (97 and after funk beast), with each side correcting the egregious tendencies of the other. That would be the best possible Phish IMO, one that is true to its Zappa/prog roots while funking out – in a more focused and less meandering way.

    While it’s true that the advent of funk and the slacking on composed chops happened at the same time, don’t conflate the two things. There’s no direct causality there; they probably share the same root causes (boredom with old style of playing and advent of hard drugs) but there’s no reason the two couldn’t co-exist.

    The notion of free improvisation over a bed of relatively straighforward groove is of course the basis of modal improvisation as pioneered by Miles Davis (and many others, but let’s not get into jazz history) over the 60s and early 70s. Also much of Coltrane’s finest improvisation happens in very simple one-chord structures. There’s nothing inherently unsophisticated about one and two chord jams, whether vamp driven or not. In fact I’d argue (and would have a lot of heavy jazz cats at my back) that the modal playing of the mid-60s Miles quintet is just about the headiest jazz every played.

    I agree that Weather Report straddles the line between jazz fusion and prog rock. And, honestly, I do find Weather Report boring now, and I have listened to a hell of a lot of it over th years – but that’s strictly a subjective perception, and not meant to pick a fight. I totally respect their classic albums, it’s just not my bag – much like King Crimson on the prog side, or Mahavishnu Orchestra on the fusion side. Good music, but to me, overly constrained by its reliance on structure and overall cerebral approach. As you say it’s very unlike Yes – someone that’s a huge Yes freak, I’m very unlikely to have much in common with taste wise, the same’s not true for WR/Crimson etc.

    I agree on the desire to see more aggressive, thrashy attack from Phish – that would be great – when I was first listening to Phish in ’89 and ’90 all my dude friends were all about YEM, the ladies all loved Fee, and I wanted to hear practically nothing but BBFCFM.

  13. c0wfunk Says:

    the cool thing about now is that we don’t have to listen to the crappy shows – so you can find shows from every year of the dead (phish) that sparkle. It’s evolution really… the good shows live on and get heard / traded, the clunkers fade away and don’t matter any more

  14. DaNcInG fOoL Says:

    ^hence the reason for the name “So What”

  15. El Duderino Says:

    No one could do a one chord jam/vamp like Trane. Tokyo ’69 Favorite Things is one of the sickest things I’ve ever heard.

  16. Frondoot Says:

    sundays tweezer still puts me in a trance every time i listen. that riff trey picked up in the jam wont leave my head

  17. c0wfunk Says:

    in phil’s book he talks about he likes the viola lee one chord jam so much because he can infinitely vary his contrasting harmonies – constantly going to Anywhere or Everywhere and then referring back to the Root in infinitely varying fractal combinations.

    speaking of funk – I hope you all are acquainted with the superfly soundtrack by curtis mayfield – maybe the pinnacle of orchestrated funk.

  18. Mr. Completely Says:

    @El Dude – Trane’s approach at the end of his life was to take those extremely simple structures and play LITERALLY EVERY POSSIBLE COMBINATION OF NOTES in one permutation after the next. Amazing.

    @Albert – one thing I was really curious about re: that tour – I’m glad you saw it and know you are a guy who pays attention – is there any open improvisation at those gigs? Or is it contained? In the rec.music.phish terms I hate but still use cause people know them, is it all Type I jamming, or do they ever go Type II? I’d guess they don’t, and that’s fine, but I was wondering.

  19. Kaveh Says:

    @c0wfunk: “here’s always something to dance to – especially if you key in on fishman.”

    LOVE IT!

  20. c0wfunk Says:

    mr c the way trane would take one of mccoy’s voicings and immediately play every note in every possible way and then all over was amazing .. also the things he got with the “squeak” and the “mistakes” he would find in the horn remind me a lot of how trey rides the edge of chaos in his effects and chaos – using what some would think of as “out of control” or “feedback” as an essential part of his melody…

  21. DaNcInG fOoL Says:

    john coltrane’s live in japan is ridiculous

  22. Albert Walker Says:

    know it’s almost all improv
    heavilly orchestrated pieces
    but at this point in their carrer their was a lot of jamming within the structures
    DiMieola is just a shredder, but Chick, Clarke, and White have developed so much in the last 25 + years
    def composition based music though, that’s what Chick does best

    also saw Chick, McGlauphlin, Garret, and McBride play recently-

  23. DaNcInG fOoL Says:

    lol at coltrane tokyo ’69, not sure what you’re talking about, he died in ’67

  24. c0wfunk Says:

    it’s funny cuz my adult musical history is – jamband kid -> trained jazz musician -> free improv musician and I find it hard to go back now and Play straight “jamband” music with most of my more rock trained friends. I’m a lot more satisfied when I encounter people who can feel those modal changes and get out of the pentatonic groove we get stuck in .. but after all it’s hard as hell to find guys who want to (or can) learn some standards and practice and jam off that… but if you do, it’s fun as hell.

  25. Mr. Completely Says:

    @c0w – good point about sifting for gems

    I originally came to this site for Hampton No Spoilers, but I stayed because Miner is so good at that. I really lack a deep knowledge of Phish music and am picky as hell. I don’t have the patience to download every ’99 show and dig through for the gems. IMO Miner has really fantastic taste, I have learned a lot from his mixes and Downloads of the Day.

    I am a picky-ass Deadhead which is why my Dead mixes are good, I’m not afraid to call it crap when it stink. One way to look at it is, how hard is it to make a mix from any given era? From 69 to early 78 it’s like fish in a barrel. I could pop out ’74-74 mixes till the cows come home, nearly without effort. ’76-78 nearly as much, restrained more by smaller repertoire. But the Brent era is a lot more work. A *lot* – but it’s doable. I have a few mixes from that era that would stand up to any reasonable level of objective scrutiny IMO.

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