A Feature Finale

12.4.09 (G.Lucas)

12.4.09 (G.Lucas)

In the aftermath of their return to MSG, Phish brought their fall tour home in Charlottesville, Virginia last night with one of the dirtiest throw-downs of all, anchored by thick dance grooves, uber-exploratory improv, and cash-money playing all night long. Despite a 15,000 person capacity, John Paul Jones Arena held a distinctly intimate feel after Madison Square Garden’s big city blowout. With a GA floor uniting all the kids for the fall finale, Phish responded with an unforgettable farewell set, albeit only for three weeks.

12.4.09 (G.Lucas)

12.4.09 (G.Lucas)

Stepping on stage for their final frame, it didn’t take long for Phish to drop the danciest and most addictive”Tweezer” since Red Rocks now-legendary version. Attacking the jam from a rhythmic perspective, Phish instantly transported the arena to a moss-ridden, Mesozoic swamp of groove. Using rhythm licks and staccato leads, Trey blended with the band in the type of sculpted, blissful ventures that drives my soul. Sliding with swagger into his solo, Big Red’s playing led the band in an instant classic. As the band raged in the post-peak section of the jam, Trey abruptly cut the jam with a recalcitrant insistence on playing “Light” at that specific moment. The rough transition hardly effected what is quickly becoming a Phish staple, “Tweezer > Light.” Having started the Summer at Fenway with the debut of the sequence, the band finished Fall with the same combo that packed a completely different punch.

12.2.09 (W.Rogell)

12.2.09 (W.Rogell)

Since its debut, “Light” has developed into the band’s newest and largest jam vehicle, growing in stature throughout the year, and recently featured as Madison Square Garden’s deepest jam. In the last version of a tour that has been nothing short of a revelation for the song’s potential, Phish unveiled one of their most psychedelic and abstract jam in ages. Morphing in and out of subtle grooves and with an amorphous mastery, this jam represented some peak sonic experimentation. The band passed through a passage that strongly suggested “Dave’s Energy Guide” en route to an incredibly cerebral masterpiece. Through all the “Lights” of fall tour, Phish illustrated an evolving desire to break new musical ground, specifically in the last few versions, and that couldn’t be a better sign for the future of the band.

Blending their cosmic jaunt into “Piper,” the band tore into another piece of music that has continually pushed their playing throughout the year. Last night’s full-throttle mind-game provided a dense passage of growling rock-turned-groove, in a jam that Trey, again, ended too quickly to play “Free” –  an interesting trend that could be theorized upon for hours. Splashing into the ultimate ’09 landing point for exploratory improv, the band concluded the initial non-stop section of the set with a dash of bass-driven arena rock before allowing anyone to catch their breath.

12.3.09 (W.Hermann)

12.3.09 (W.Hermann)

Featuring their “Exile” costume for consecutive shows, Phish used the appropriate “Sweet Virginia” as their final mid-set interlude of tour. Following the Stones’ southern ballad, Phish rolled into a magnificent “Harry Hood” whose completely sublime interplay between Mike and Trey made the many versions of tour look somewhat standard. Guided by a seemingly deeper spirit, the ethereal textures and other-worldly melodies of this “Hood” brought echoes of mid-to-late ’90’s classics, evoking the song’s essential core. Taking their early-epic for a regal ride, this version drew inspiration from the stirring set of music that had preceded. As the band sustained the song’s final note, one could practically hear the oncoming crash into “Suzy,” and when it came, “Hood’s” energy spilled into the super-spirited funk number that has dotted so many top-notch sets this year.

12.4.09 (W.Rogell)

12.4.09 (W.Rogell)

Following “Golgi,” the band stamped the set complete with an “Antelope” that brought the tour to an upbeat ending with the altered lyric, “You’ve got to run like a naked guy, out of control!” referencing a first-set stage-jumper in the raw who wove his way around the band and their equipment, eluding two stage security like Barry Sanders breaking a busted play. A comedic ending to a top-notch affair, the band concluded in a place of extreme musical focus amidst tongue-in cheek hilarity; it sure seems that things are back on track in the world of Phish again. Finishing their tour with the first “Loving Cup” since Indio’s accompanied blowout, and the always fitting ,”Reprise,” the encore punctuated and enhanced the band’s farewell. Now at home again in both amphitheatres and arenas, the world is Phish’s oyster once again, and it’s just great to be a part of it.

Set 1 Notes: An eventful, though rather jam-less, first set featured the tour’s only appearances of “Ya Mar,” “Sneakin’ Sally,” and “Bold As Love.” “Bag,” “Chalkdust” provided an old-school kick start to the frame while “Faulty Plan” went through the entire tour fall without any of its anticipated indoor evolution. The band continues to kill “Divided Sky” with frequency because they can. A late-set combo of “Funky Bitch” and “Bowie,” by all accounts, should have ended the first half. But “The Wedge” followed before the hallowed Hendrix cover ended an extended opening frame.

I: AC/DC Bag, Chalk Dust Torture, Stealing Time From the Faulty Plan, The Divided Sky, Ya Mar, Sneakin’ Sally through the Alley, The Old Home Place, Cavern, Funky Bitch, David Bowie, The Wedge, Bold As Love

II: Tweezer > Light > Piper > Free, Sweet Virginia, Harry Hood, Suzy Greenberg, Golgi Apparatus, Run Like an Antelope

E: Loving Cup, Tweezer Reprise

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749 Responses to “A Feature Finale”

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  1. SillyWilly Says:

    This is my first time being the first to post!

    Great write up, Mr. Miner. I love the way you describe things. How often does someone use the adjective Mesozoic to describe music.

    fall tour was awesome. i cant wait for Miami!

  2. tela'smuff Says:

    huge show people. Light was IT. Dialed in. Tweezer did indeed bring the thickness. Other than Light, my two personal favs were Bowie and Hood. Maybe it was me, but that Bowie seemed to rage extra hard. I actually pulleda neck muscle. The Hood just kept building and building. Huge explosion.

    Naked guy was hilarious! Dude could not be caught! During Golgi Mike’s bass cutout and the band played as a trio for about the first minute. Antelope was hilarity! Love to see the band still has the goofiness.

    A spectacular show. Just simply raged.

    Thanks for the reviews and website Miner!

  3. GK Icculus Says:

    Impressive rager of a second set, and band charged all night and kept the energy high. Naked guy was THE omen for the evening, culminating in the debut new Antelope lyrics, “You’ve got to run like a naked guy out of control!” Very playful, very vibrant. Somewhat predictable setlist given the way that Fall tour has played out, but very much a magical night in Charlottesville.

  4. flarrdogg Says:

    Mr. Palmer posted this link on the last thread:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o9MyzwqzlzY

    wicked good video from msg. check it- awesome.

  5. c0wfunk Says:

    Great writeup! This show brought it fo shore, and they combined great songs, great jams, on point musicianship, and all out side splittoing hilarity. Phish at its best.

    Nice full first set – divided sky is in top form, awesome that sally has its vocal jam back, check out page’s funky bitch organ solo – he just kept coming back for one more chorus and built it to the sky. And of course naked guy – some serious dodging skills, quite a spectacle. Pretty sure I heard a little “naked pa” in ya mar.

    And the second set. The magic that reads tweezer-light-piper-free! So many movements. Miners desc of the tweezer is spot on. Thick swamp funk. The swarm into light was a bit sudden and insistent but otherwise smooth. And the way light bubbled away! The culmination of the synth mess canvas from this year. Left my wife saying “where do u go from here?”. And the answer was piper. Largely an excuse to reset the jam palatte they just cruised on thru. The second dip into spaceland started to lose the crowd a bit which I think spurred the bounce into free – which again was very smooth.

    the hood build contained some masterful loop work from trey as he integrated the loops into his solo lines. Don’t skip suzie – page again absolutely tore up his solo – the piano crescendo was huge.
    And the run like a naked guy! Brilliant cap on a huge show, this pushed it into legendary status. The whole band latched on to it and the entire arena was buzzing ear to ear. Classic phish moment.

    Holding back loving cup and ending the tour with it is a great “tour composition” technique..

    Cold and snowy landscapes, step into the freezer. dec phish is so great cuz new years is only 3 weeks away!

  6. c0wfunk Says:

    One more quick note- mikes bass went out during golgi, and it was a trio for a minute with trey singing the bass notes between lyrics. When mike came back he was extra prominent and took a small extra jaunty space for his lines

  7. Billy Breathes Says:

    I’ll apologize in advance now for the ‘against the grain’ comments.

    I love Phish. They are in my blood. Their music is a part of my life.

    But…with so many songs in their repertoire, why the constant repeats?

    I mean come on guys, when is enough enough?

    I love seeing them live, there’s nothing like it. But they are playing the same shit every other show.

    How many times can you possibly hear the same song over and over, again and again, on the same tour?

    I know I know, the songs are played differently with each run, but seriously, it just gets old, really old. Unless I suppose, it’s all new to you.

    Really though….I don’t get it….especially when they have SO MUCH material they could be playing.

    Why aren’t they playing any of it?

    Something just doesn’t seem right.

  8. Mr.Miner Says:

    it matters so little “what” they are playing now…but to be honest, they have varied the setlist more than ever, just using similar jam vehicles for a tour which is par for the course. I bet if you counted the number of different songs played on this tour it is astronomical. How can you complain about huge jams from Lights and Disease? And rotation is called rotation for a reason.

  9. henry Says:

    True you should apologize for that comment….hahahaha. I think its all about feel. I mean theres a certain amount of trust here….and I trust them…I think they are playing what is enjoyable and fresh and most importantly what they are playing GOOD at the time. Theyll make theyre way thru the songs dont worry be patient just let them grow and enjoy themselves and everything else will fall into please. Side note…. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zceuA0CSQmg no clue how this guy did it but he has HD video with sound board to the whole MSG run….kinda boggled how he got it without setting up a tripod but nonetheless….nice. So anyone know whats up with the green languedoc? Anything different or is it just a new green G3? Anybody know what this trey solo tour is gonna be….orchestra…classic TAB quintet….horns…please no 70 volt? Glad to see they finished stong fall tour has been so satisfying for me and I hate to say it but I dont want any outdoor shows I want them to play indoors forever…h.ahaha….and im a Deer creek kid who lives down the road from alpine…..guess ill just have to fork out for nice pavilion seats.

  10. c0wfunk Says:

    According to zzyzx, a couple days ago, they were very near the record for distinct songs in a tour, I think by now we maybe topped it.tour closer shows have traditionally been “sum up” shows rather than places to define new patterns.

    My green tour buddy, seen almost every show since 97, last night said “there were great shows this tour, and there were epic shows”.

  11. Kaveh Says:

    I agree with Minor. The actual setlist doesn’t matter, considering the absolute high level that Phish is playing at right now. And if the band feels comfortable and are enjoying themselves up there, then I’m all in for that. Have of the fun of seeing them is seeing how happy those four are with each other when they are on stage. Phish 3.0 has really found a great groove right now, thinking back to how they have progressed since Hampton. It is quite mind bending to think about that…they have come a long way in a very short amount of time.

  12. c0wfunk Says:

    (Green crew buddy)

  13. halcyon Says:

    @ Kaveh …. padelimike’s AUD from 12/4/09 is pristine. Amazing quality. I wonder if he was at 12/2 & 12/3? If so, when is uploading those?

  14. Kaveh Says:

    @Halcyon…I haven’t listen to it yet, but I’m glad that it sounds so great. I am still floored by the quality on his Philly aud. I didn’t see him posting anything from the first two nights, but I’ll keep my eyes open and for the tour closer too!

  15. Kaveh Says:

    @Halcyon. I’ve been finding many goodies from the post yesterday that led to all the “Rare Material.” Did you check that link out?

  16. kb Says:

    ^ i actually agree somewhat about song selection. not that anyone cares. 🙂 but suzy,ac/dc, antelope, bowie i could care less if i heard another, unless they were really pushed way out.

    on the other hand, i am very happy about what’s happened with light, and would love to see more of their newer material pushed like this one.

  17. halcyon Says:

    @ Kaveh….I have the link, been working all weekend and haven’t had time yet to fully check it out. There are some interesting links. Miner posted a while ago in the comments tons of links and outtakes, a lot of it was pertaining to Cactus. When I get home, I will look for it and post it again.

  18. Kaveh Says:

    @Halcyon – sounds good. I’ll be looking forward to it later.

  19. Billy Breathes Says:

    I love Light.

    But 2 Tweezer–>Lights in 1 tour?

    Just seems orchestrated, like many of their jams as of late. They are all doing A LOT of the same thing; no need to get into the details here.

    Here are just a few consistent repeats that are really starting to wear. I love these songs, but honestly, how many times can you really hear them on the same tour?

    Golgi, Chalkdust, Divided, Bowie, Piper, Free, Hood, Possum, Rock n Roll, Suzy, DWD.

    I’m not trying to be negative, so please don’t take my posts personally, I am speaking to the broader spectrum of Phish as a whole. Not an individual concert-goer’s experience.

    Things that make you go hmmm.

  20. Snigglebeach Says:

    @Billy

    That list represents the songs they have played the most since 1995.

    They have been overplaying those songs for 15 years. Get over it

  21. Dr B Says:

    I’ve noted the repetition as well. But, go back to any era, and it looks similar. I mean, there was a time when you couldn’t go more than 3-4 shows without hearing a ______ (fill in the blank).

    And the Tweezer->Light seems predictable now, but only history will tell what this comes to mean. One of the (many) things that’s fun about Phish and setlist analysis is to note how certain songs get paired over time. E.g., Oh Kee Pa-> Suzie, Mike’s->Weekapaug. Even Mike’s->Simple. I’m sure people felt Mike’s->Simple was noteworthy at one point, but now it’s part of Phish history. Who’s to say that Tweezer->Light isn’t becoming that? Regardless, Light is clearly the favorite Big One from the new bumper crop.

    Changing topic a bit. Who’s got a link for me to those beautiful padelmike DL? I’m dying to hear C-ville. And I’m traveling to Sth America later today. This show MUST make it onto my iPod before I leave…

    Cheers, pholks!

  22. chefbradford Says:

    Record for songs played in a year was 230-something, in ’98. Last I saw, a couple of weeks ago, they were up near 220, which even then was the second-most distinct songs played in a year. Anyway, Want. To Hear. This Show.

  23. afroskully Says:

    BB… i kind of agree with you on the song selection. One of the reasons you go to a phish show is because you don’t know what’s coming next. When i was watching that setlist unfurl last night, i was kind of surprised to see MSG night one kind of happening again within the 1st 4 songs.

    But you have to take into account a 5 year stoppage of consistent playing. The setlists were so different show to show in the mid 90s because they were playing all of those songs all of the time. If you havent played something (for example) like the middle section of guelah in a while, there’s a really good chance you’re gonna flub it. So they wait til they get some rehearsal time under their belt and play it again. It’s gonna happen in time. The setlists will be more different the more they play.

    I think for their first year back of touring, and the amount of bustouts that they gave us… we should be stoked as hell that they’re back enjoying themselves and playing their hearts out… even if it means you see a few more bowies and DwD’s than you would’ve liked. At MSG 1, (and after 40+ shows), i was hearing a lot of repeats from the other shows i saw this year. After the first pang of “again?” ran thru my head, i looked at my buddy next to me, at his first show, and tried to hear it for the 1st time again. It felt great.

  24. c0wfunk Says:

    China-rider
    Scarlet-fire
    Help-slip-franks
    Estimated-eyes
    Foolish-victim

    Oh kee pah-suzie g
    Mikes-simple-h2-paug
    Tweezer-taste

    Why not tweezer-light?

  25. Billy Breathes Says:

    Thanks afroskully. Makes a lot of sense.

    I am indeed glad they are back.

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