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. Albert Walker Says:

    I think the Herbie and Headhunters from that era is some of the tighetest, funkiest, most original compostions and jamming also

  2. kevin are hollo Says:


    thell them it’s a charitable organization that devotes time and energy to needy kids.

  3. msbjivein Says:

    I have no idea where to get quality live recorings in that era let alone any era. I got a pretty good recording of The Funky meter’s w/ JB’s horn Sect. It’s from Switzerland somewhere.

  4. BTB Says:


    Just say, “sorry, misspelling, fish tour! Gone fishing!”

    A wikipedia search on Phish would easily involve the words Grateful Dead and Drugs/Hippies. Everyone on our wavelength is probably cool with that, but in the real world you have some fat lady who’s only literature is the holy bible who might ask you to pee in a cup upon your return….or just tell everyone in the organization you’re a loser b/c he/she has nothing better to do.

    Just saying, I’m going to Pitt/DC/ALpine and I’m saying I am going out of town with an uncle. I wouldn’t risk my job b/c of other peoples misconceptions about what we do.

    Jokingly though, If someone else in your organization was going on INSANE CLOWN POSSE tour you might also be tempted to shit on that persons professional credibility eventhough that is unfair.

  5. Mr. Completely Says:

    @Kevin – the definitive live Meters document is “Live On the Queen Mary.” It is not the best Meters show from that era but as I just mentioned most sources now circulating digitally kind of suck ass. The really frustrating thing about that is that I used to have a few super clean low gen cassettes from that era that aren’t in digital circulation at all.

    My point here is that there is really NO objective or qualitative way to compare music across diverse genres. I understand what WR is up to and why it is so amazing for some people, but it fails to move me. I feel little to no emotional connection to the music. The Meters, OTOH, I instantly connect with. And they were technically much tighter than most people realize. Zigaboo is the finest syncopated dance-beat drummer the world has ever seen (cue the Johnny Vidacovich fans, but bear with me please). One thing that comes out in live shows is that Leo was an Eddie Hazel-esque Hendrix channeller on occasion live, something totally absent from the studio stuff.

    One great thing about them back then is they’d play anything by request. I mean anything: songs they had never practiced? no problem. If they had ever heard it, and you yelled it out and they dug the idea, they’d go for it and usually pretty much nail it on the fly.

    So much of music is about feel. I don’t just mean “feeling” i.e. emotion. I mean groove, touch, dynamics. The Meters had impeccable feel. Their music is incredibly well executed but rooted in low down dirty funk and rock, so it has that “tight but loose” feel I love so much.

  6. BTB Says:

    HAAAAAAAAAA – Mr. Completely response was way better! that’s too funny man

  7. McGrupp Says:

    Thanks BTB. I’m not worried about what they think, nor am I worried about credibility or losing my job.

    I informed them b/c I want to open their eyes and minds…

    And when I got this response, I was like, wow that’s a really good question.

    What is a phish tour? 🙂 And how can it be explained in a few short sentences to someone who is not even remotely familiar with Phish.

  8. Walfredo Says:

    A Phish tour- is sort of what normally people do on vacations- except entirely different. You are going to see the same band play multiple concerts on different nights. It would be sort of like if you were in a band or worked for a band. You finish one show- then drive to the next town and start the next show. The only difference being- that instead of being paid to live such an existence- you pay for entry to each show, each night- and pay your own way for expenses to get to the shows.

    The band is followed by a group of nomads or gypsys- who setup shop outside of the shows in a travelling caravan to support this habit. Some cook grilled cheese, some sell cold beer, some offer nuggets. No matter what they sell- there very existence relies on me- the custie. So- while I can get a weeks worth of touring in- these folks can make it a full-time lifestyle.

    If you have any follow up questions- I’ve got a blank space where my mind should be.

  9. McGrupp Says:

    Walfredo….EXCELLENT!!!!! I will be taking some of your excerpt, if you don’t mind! Nice. Thank you.

  10. kevin are hollo Says:

    on discovering an instant love of the meters:

    reading in an interview 15 years ago about phish practicing to the meters and ALWAYS ending the songs too early made up my mind for me.

  11. Mr. Completely Says:

    @McGrupp – joking aside I like what you composed but drop the last paragraph.

    @Albert – I always just assume everyone is hip to Headhunters so I forget to mention it. Chameleon and Watermelon Man are perfect. Watermelon Man has so many dimensions of genius in it, it’s freaky – it literally tells the story of African American music up to that point in condensed form, starting with “simple” (but super dope) tribal rhythm and passing through several stages while building to a massively sophisticated harmonic/melodic peak, and then breaking back down to the raw african groove – all while being such a heady dance jam you can just rock to it without thinking about any of that (or anything at all)

  12. snigglebeach Says:

    Phish tour is nomadic caravan of very diverse people with good musical taste, driving and camping and partying all over the country.

  13. kevin are hollo Says:

    phish tour is a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, with or without the crust.

  14. msbjivein Says:

    Johnny Vidacovich is my biggest influence as a drummer. I love him and he’s also a really cool dude. I’ve met him several times. The last time I saw him he recognized my wife and I from a Seattle show he did at “The Loft” the night before Katrina hit NOLA. We were talking to him about what his plans were cause the airport was shut down at that time. He said “we’re gonna try to book some gigs locally for a couple days and see what happens”(He was playing w/ Robert Walter’s trio at the time) Then BAM NOLA got slammed by Katrina.! Anyway the last time I saw him he signed a DW drumhead w/ his signature RRLR RLRL sticking tech.

  15. HarryHood Says:

    McGrupp…… Way to stir up some great responses. I’m sitting here laughing my ass off! Props to Mr. C & Walfredo. If anyone asks you what Phish tour is, just refer them Phishthoughts.com and let Miner take care of ’em for ya 😉

  16. Walfredo Says:

    McGrupp- Use whatever you’d like 🙂 Wish I was taking off for some touring myself…

    At my wedding in April one of my wifes friends- dead serious talked to me for about 20 minutes about how similar me and her boyfriend were- and how into fishing he was. She was planning our fishing trip together- because my wife had mentioned how obsessed with Phish and planning trips around Phish I am. I didn’t have the heart to explain it…

  17. Mr. Completely Says:

    The main lesson of The Meters is that Less Is More when it comes to groove. On their thickest jams, each individual person is playing very little. Not to get weird about it, but very few white bands get this idea at all. I hear covers of Cissy Strut or whatever and they make me laugh. Every musician is trying to play the whole line. I liked the Dead’s version of Pocky Way – loved it, even, in the brief phase where Brent played the B3 instead of the cheesy synth riff – but they never got it at all.

    Phish got it. I’m glad they didn’t try to play Meters covers, but they go the message. Funk is sparse. Everyone plays a separate, syncopated line, and The Funk emerges from the totality.

    Even fully orchestrated funk music shares this quality. Curtis Mayfield was the master of rich funk arrangements, his genius was in finding room for every horn and backing vocal without overcrowding things – listen to “Can’t Say Nothin'” for crash course. Mayfield was groundbreaking in many ways but was greatest funk/soul horn arranger of all time hands down – including JBs or anything else, much as I love that stuff.

  18. kevin are hollo Says:

    phish tour is trying to unlock the door to your house, hearing the phone ring, but once you get inside and rush to the phone, it stops.

  19. Albert Walker Says:

    mid 70’s funk check out Swamp Dogg
    he was originally on Elektra, but as his music got weirder moved to smaller labels

    this is Miami soul funk and it is the shit
    his 1968 album total destruction of your mind is legendary in soul funk circles

  20. Mr. Completely Says:

    @msb – very very nice story – we put on a couple Johnny V shows out here in PDX several years back and I agree, he is an amazing person. He seems to not be bothered by the fact that almost no one knows he’s one of the greatest drummers in the history of hitting things with other things.

    You hip to Tony Allen? Fela Kuti’s old drummer?

  21. BTB Says:

    I’ve tried to explain in to people before and they just give me blank stares like “what the hell do you do that for?”

    Honestly, I’ve stopped trying to explain to people what it is. I just do my thing!!

    Look at the reaction you get from girls (non-wook/hipster) about getting in a car and driving 1200 miles on a thursday-sunday to see 3 concerts by the same band. No matter how you explain it, they think you’re crazy!! Fuck it, maybe it is!

    “but it makes me feel like Arnold in Pumping Iron”

  22. Albert Walker Says:

    also if you are just checking out Curtis go to Roots Curtis or Curtis Curtis the earlier stuff is way funkier

    I feel by the time they got to super fly a little too over produced and starting to have a disco vibe

  23. Mr. Completely Says:

    nice @kevin

    i’ll try

    phish tour is when you’re trying to remember the answer to a question someone just asked you but you can’t, and in the meantime you think the most interesting thought you’ve thunk in a year, and just when you’re about to say aloud you remember the first thing you were searching for, and it pushes the new thought aside and you never think it again.

  24. Chalkdustin Says:

    Sorry to break up the thread with this, but here’s a video of Trey’s acoustic TTE.

  25. Jer Says:

    @ Mr C.

    “@msb – very very nice story – we put on a couple Johnny V shows out here in PDX several years back and I agree, he is an amazing person.”

    Not to hijack this entertaining string of posts, but you live in Portland too?? I think like 30% of the people posting on this site live in here. I’m out by Rocky Butte.

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