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

Tags: ,

749 Responses to “A Feature Finale”

  1. kenny powers Says:

    anyone have the link (or remember which article it was from) for the Trey Jedi First Tube pic?

  2. Mugician Says:

    BK, sorry to hear about that. Best of luck to you.

  3. Chuck D Says:

    …just sharin’ in the groove

  4. Frankie Says:

    No problem! That was a lot of fun navigating between those spun people… we were on a mission! 🙂 You made a few good saves yourself!
    I’ll shoot you an e-mail! Take care bud! 🙂

  5. Mugician Says:

    I can’t find the First Tube video… anyone wanna throw a link my way?

  6. yematt Says:

    @ kp – it’s the 1st picture in miner’s previous review “evoking spirits past”

  7. kenny powers Says:

    @ yematt,

    oh that’s right, thanks man! diesel shot.

  8. Frankie Says:

    I agree! Like so many of your posts, this is a perfectly written thought and i’m gonna save that to reread it again and again…

    Someday I’m gonna gather all your posts for a book called The book of wisdom by Mr.Completely.

    Thank you!

  9. Mr. Palmer Says:

    @ mugician http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DW0KVD5rsyk

    click in this guys name HarpuaFSB . He’s got the whole show in sweet hd 1080

  10. Mugician Says:

    Ooooh. Thanks buddy!

  11. Chuck D Says:

    Is there something special going on during Philly Reba? People seem to be getting real excited during the composed section. I get real excited too, but normally dont start yelling and cheering until the transition… just seemed to me that something odd was happening like a nude guy on stage or something.

  12. flarrdogg Says:

    Mr C- Fascinating take on the last page:

    ‘once he had you in he palm of his hand, to me, the trick itself was all there was.’

    I could not agree more with your sentiment here. It is all so much more REAL for these guys now. Don’t get me wrong- still having tons of fun (see naked antelope lyrics!), but now coming from a place that seems more mature? real? deep? heartfelt? Coincidentally, this is where I’m at personally- light years away from Coventry- so it all really seems to click right now. The future is exciting, but I sure like where they’re at right now.

  13. flarrdogg Says:

    Also, I’ll stop pimping it now, but do yourself a favor and everyone check out the Harpua FSB vids on youtube. WoW!

  14. Frankie Says:

    Phish 2009 is a story of survival! During the breakup years, me and my friend Dave often discussed that these four guys had been put on this earth to play music together! It was meant to be…

    By the greatest luck, they met! They played, they succeeded, they split but they still all survived and even stayed friends! And now they are back and playing with so much energy and fire! And it’s only beginning! This to me is just the greatest rock’n’roll story i have ever heard!

    Just for that, this PHISH 2009 thing has so much value and i feel really grateful everytime these guys step on a stage together!

  15. Mr. Palmer Says:

    Anyone have a link to Albany 1? That and Cincy 2 i can’t seem to track down. Much thanks

  16. voopa Says:

    Wow, great stuff on here as always. Wish I hadn’t been busy yesterday, making my OCD ass spend all day today catching up! Good thing I have (relatively) little work to do. Kudos to all.

  17. Mr. Completely Says:

    wow @BK that’s some heavy shit, eviction notice, y’all gonna be OK?

  18. Marshall Says:

    Catching up …

    @ Leo W. – yes, your are right the 9/28/99 First Tube is the shiznits! It is so dirty!

    @ KB – the JB1 Hood … I’m with you … ethereal is the word that comes to mind.

  19. Mr. Completely Says:

    the most beautiful thing @flarrdog is that they don’t have to give up any part of who they are to do this new more intentional thing

    the antics, the silliness, the offbeat vibe, the WTF musical moments, the deep-end psychedelia, and the shredding straight ahead rock bombs – all now just placed with a little more intent than before

    maybe they need to get people going, or knock us out of our comfort zone once we’re going, or reground us after a big moment, or tie it (us?) all together at the end with a big payoff – all those things call for certain kinds of phish songs so those are the ones they’re playing.

    that being said, I hope they soon reach the point in their journey where the message of the moment is best conveyed by Buffalo Bill 8)

  20. flarrdogg Says:

    Message of the moment is ALWAYS best conveyed by Buffalo Bill.

  21. Chuck D Says:

    Mr Palmer, drop.io/phishtunes has Cincy 1 and 2, in AUD mp3 320.

  22. Mr. Palmer Says:

    thanks chuck d

  23. halcyon Says:

    Props to Cowfunk for posting the scents a subtle sounds lyrics the other day. I have been reading them over and over, and passing them along to so many people. I never stopped to listen to the lyrics. They really struck a chord with me.

    BK….hang in there, may everything will work out

  24. flarrdogg Says:

    Yes Yes- more intent than before. Well put. They are collectively a lot more present than at any time in memory, so the result should be more focused and thought out. Hopefully they won’t lose the spontaneity that is oh so important. I don’t think they will.

  25. Mr. Completely Says:

    ok I got one more thing to say here today, something to hold in mind next time you’re at a show

    it’s really for in the show so it’s ok if you forget about it for now. it’ll probably strike you as silly anyway.

    everyone has heard some conspiracy theories so I’m gonna tell you my favorite one. here it is:

    There’s a conspiracy out there all right – a conspiracy on your behalf. To help you when you need it. To catch you when you fall and help you learn to fly when you can.

    You kind of suspected that all along, didn’t you? But it seemed silly? That feeling is called “pronoia,” by the way.

    It’s true, though. That actually is happening. And the band is in on it. So are some of your friends. You know the ones: with the smile, and that look in their eye. Sounds like Mitch’s lady might be in on it. Keep your eye on her, my friend.

    So next time you’re There, maybe remember this silly idea, and see if it makes any more sense in that context.


Leave a Reply