Moments In a Box: The First Sets of Fall

Posted in Uncategorized with the tags , , on December 15th, 2009 by Mr.Miner

The first sets of fall didn’t carry much improvisational weight, so when Phish unveiled a jam in the opening frame, it always drew enhanced attention. Providing musical respites from the composition and song-driven stanzas, these pieces often came as the first opportunity to really immerse oneself in all-out Phishiness. Most often sticking to contained exploration, the band rarely took chances during the first half of shows, reserving almost all musical risk for the second. Here, however, are four first-set pieces that did take off into creative wonderlands.

***

“46 Days” 11.18 I

"46 Days" (M.Christie)

"46 Days" (M.Christie)

Towards the end of a relatively generic tour-opening set, Phish sat into one of the thickest jams of tour. A song that varies between a vehicle for improvisation and a blues-rocker, the placement of this version had “blues rocker” written all over. But as the bombast came to a head, the band slipped into a very slow funk groove. Leaving the song’s structure in a wake of heavy organ swells, deep bass bombs, and a percussive rhythms, the band formed a gooey canvas that Trey painted with a retro funk line, circa 1997. Phish locked into a methodical and transportative groove that likened a mind-controlling soundtrack for an alien chain gang marching hopelessly to their death. With sonic effects gradually layered into the piece, the throwback groove morphed into a futuristic, ambient sound sculpture. Phish had jumped into the abyss out of nowhere, crafting one of fall tour’s enduring pieces in its opening frame. With a completely original lighting display by Kuroda, an indelible moment crystallized right away at Cobo Arena.

[audio:http://phishthoughts.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/12/ph2009-11-18s1t101.mp3]

***

“Split Open and Melt” 11.21 I

11.21.09 (W.Rogell)

11.21.09 (W.Rogell)

Late in Cincinnati’s third set of the weekend, the opening beat to “Split” shot from stage like a sonic cannonball. While always an adventure, the band had already played some extremely psychedelic renditions during the summer, making the first indoor “Split” all the more intriguing. As the band embarked into the nether, they wandered through a sublime melodic plane on their way to an abstract mind-fuck. Harnessing the very essence of the song, Phish upped the levels of this version with a gradual climb into the darkest realms of sonic sorcery. Completely overtaking The Crown with their psychedelic textures, all members of the band equally contributed to the symphonic cacophony. Growing into a “jaw-on-the-floor” moment, one could hardly believe the coherency in which Phish plowed through such precise, demonic music. Moving far out into an amorphous ball of sound and fury, a mind-popping moment occurred as the band slammed back “Split’s” natural groove without missing a beat. A high point of Cincinnati’s two nights, no first set pieces approached the levels of awe and terror induced by this piece.

[audio:http://phishthoughts.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/12/ph2009-11-21t09.mp3]

***

“Undermind” 11.29 I

Official Portland Poster (N.Duval)

Official Portland Poster (N.Duval)

In perhaps the most engaging first set of fall, Phish took “Undermind” off the shelf for the only time during fall tour. The song that lyrically fits the band’s current place in time so well always seems to provide a tasty nugget of rhythmic exploration. Dusted off in fine style, in the band’s highly-anticipated return to Cumberland County Civic Center, Phish took “Undermind” to new heights. Playing with increasingly effected tones throughout the piece, Mike and Trey engaged in a dynamic two-step, wrapping their melodies around each other like supple snakes. Page hopped on the clav, adding another layer of crunch to the jam, as Fishman held things together from down below. As their momentum built, Trey and Mike showcased their symbiotic chops in what quickly became a clear highlight to the night. Getting downright dirty, Mike, Trey, and Page formed a creative three-person aural brew that bubbled with all sorts of spicy, filtered effects. As the band climaxed the jam, splashing back into the chorus, the crowd responded with appreciative fervor at the virtuoso mini-experiment.

[audio:http://phishthoughts.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/12/ph2009-11-29d1t10.mp3]

***

“Reba” 12.04 I

12.4.09 (W.Rogell)

12.4.09 (W.Rogell)

One of the band’s most complex pieces, “Reba” often features small mistakes by one band member or another. Whether a smudge in the song’s fugue or a massive flub a la Indio, more often than not, the compositional section hits a speed bump or two along the way. Because of its degree of difficulty, “Reba” always represents a signpost for the band’s precision playing. Consistently launching into one of Phish’s most blissful improvisational segments, a tightly wound beginning enhances the overall experience; and this first setter in Madison Square Garden’s final show had it all. Exploding through the composition with speed, confidence and a sense of musical drama, the band nailed the opening half with little trouble, carrying a gigantic head of steam into the jam. Taking off with a greater sense of musical determination than usual, the section of improv commenced immediately with a quicker tempo and zero time to settle. More akin to an older version, Trey came directly out of the gates flowing subconsciously, phrasing his melodies masterfully and pouring his heart into each measure. The band chugged right along with their leader, hitting a series of creative stops and changes along the upward path. A song that flourishes exponentially when the band is fully locked in, this Madison Square Garden outing levitated the mid-town arena with densely packed cascade of groove. One of the strongest versions of the year, sometimes the band can express more in less time with ultra-focused playing, and that is what this “Reba” is all about.

[audio:http://phishthoughts.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/12/ph2009-12-04s1t09.mp3]

Winged-music-note=====

Jam of the Day:

Down With Disease > Twenty Years Later” 11.24 II

[audio:http://phishthoughts.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/12/ph2009-11-24s2t03.mp3,http://phishthoughts.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/12/ph2009-11-24s2t04.mp3]

A psychedelic excursion that highlighted the second set in Philadelphia.

=====

DOWNLOAD OF THE DAY:

11.24.09 Wachovia Center, Philadelphia, PA < Megaupload

11.24.09 (B.Ferguson)

11.24.09 (B.Ferguson)

I: Chalk Dust Torture, Bathtub Gin, Cities > Camel Walk, The Curtain With, The Wedge, The Moma Dance, Reba, Golgi Apparatus, Stealing Time From the Faulty Plan

II: Possum, Down with Disease > Twenty Years Later, Harry Hood, The Mango Song, Mike’s Song > Simple > Slave to the Traffic Light, Weekapaug Groove*

E: A Day in the Life

*1/2 time version

Source: Sennheiser MD441U > Edirol R4Pro @ 24/88.2

Tags: , ,

The Fourth Set of Tour

Posted in Uncategorized with the tags , on December 14th, 2009 by Mr.Miner
11.20.09 (W.Rogell)

11.20.09 - The Crown (W.Rogell)

On some nights, creativity, energy and musical acumen converge in a frame of Phish that leaves us all glowing. Every Phish set has something to offer, but sometimes one can feel like Christmastime, as the sparkling musical gifts flow like creamy egg nog. Once in a while, the band eliminates all filler music and creates a cohesive experience that is greater than the sum of its individual parts. The first night of Cincinnati was one of these nights. Following three sets of legitimate, but less than full-on, Phish to start fall tour, The Crown’s second set immediately burst to the forefront with a confluence of improv and creative transitions, all bookended by deliciously addictive sessions of dance grooves. This set stoked an arena-sized fire, with a ripple effect that would be felt throughout the weekend, not to mention the rest of the tour.

11.20.09 (W.Rogell)

11.20.09 (W.Rogell)

After a composition-heavy opening frame, Trey sparked the kindling of the second set with the opening guitar-scratches of “Punch You In the Eye.” Able to tear through “The Landlady” section almost routinely again, the band has brought “Punch” into greater prominence as of late. Nary a more spirited set opener, its adrenalized rhythms quickly dialed up the intensity in the historic arena. And out of the trill apex of the song growled the opening licks of “Tweezer.” Immediately igniting the crowd with a much larger flame, Phish opened the freezer door for the first time of the fall, kicking off the season in earnest. At the onset of the jam, Trey set up shop with a sinister and repetitive lick. The band quickly morphed into a thick musical canvas, as Trey narrated an addictive guitar fantasy over the sparse and driving pattern. Taking his time and phrasing each idea with utmost care, he let his new-found swagger shine throughout this piece. Eventually making a change into his dirty, uncompressed tone, Red influenced Fish to alter his beat into a dirtier, snare-heavy scene, while his story took a left turn down a dark alley with smoke rising from potholes all around. Navigating the ominous environs, the band engaged in a sequence of grittier grooves that complemented the first half of the jam’s smoother planes.

11.20.09 (W.Rogell)

11.20.09 (W.Rogell)

Forcefully, Phish climaxed the piece with a creative build that saw Trey unleash a furious solo. Settling into a post-peak section of spacier funk, the band slid through a drone soundscscape into “Light.” Another in the growing series of transitions from dark “Tweezers” into “Lights,” Phish brought this modern combination indoors for the first time. Breaking out their newest vehicle for its initial voyage of fall, all of a sudden Trey transformed into an intense geyser of colorful melody, shooting guitar lines through the sky like he was born to do. A beautiful foreshadowing of the many transcendent versions that would follow in the coming weeks, “Light”stoked the evolving fire of this phenomenal frame.

Breaking down the high-speed jam into a more percussive realm, Phish seemed headed for a completely new milieu. But instead of moving outward, the passage playfully blended into “Get Back On the Train.” A song usually reserved for first sets came out of a completely spontaneous place, a sure-fire sign that Phish’s creativity had been piqued on this evening. In their third consecutive segue, the band moved naturally from the back-country funk into the musically similar “Possum.” Taking one of summer’s most commonly played songs on its first arena adventure, the band attacked the song with an aggression unseen in the amphitheatres of ’09. Enclosed within cement walls, the copious energy bounced around the room, creating a celebratory conclusion to the set’s initial suite. And soon after “Possum’s” final note came to a crashing close, Trey delicately strummed the opening to “Slave.”

11.20.09 (W.Rogell)

11.20.09 (W.Rogell)

In a slot where the band would usually insert a ballad, Phish keep right on chugging with a centerpiece version of one of their most well-loved songs. Showcasing ethereal textures, the band showed utmost patience in allowing this version to unfold organically. Trey, Mike, and Page were locked in a delicate conversation as Fish slowly increased his rhythmic backdrop. Each member phrased their playing masterfully, coming together in an soaring rendition. Infusing powerful emotion into his guitar work, Trey took this outing to the top with determination, upping the ante for the song over the next few weeks. And then the cherry on top – “You Enjoy Myself.”

"YEM" 11.20.09 (M.Stein)

"YEM" 11.20.09 (M.Stein)

Phish put an exclamation point on this set with a sequence of crunchy rhythms and thematic improv that left the many generic, guitar-based, summer versions of “YEM” in the dust. Fishman proved integral throughout this jam, contributing intricate and evolving rhythms, begging bodies to move subconsciously to the beat. Trey hooked up with an old signature lick, leading the jam into sparser territory, as Mike and Page swam melodies around him. Mike gained an enhanced presence as Trey switched over to some swank rhythm chords, playing all his cards in this one. Following this rhythmic seduction, Trey infused a completely original melodic theme into the mix, and the band jumped on board. Taking the jam away from its typical bubble-funk destination for the first time in ages, the band was finally doing something creative with “YEM.” At the end of their three-week tour, this version of stood head and shoulders above the rest, with MSG’s rendition more than a couple lengths behind. Having fallen into a somewhat generic formula during this era, “YEM” broke that model in Cincinnati, providing closure to a wildly creative set.

This jam-packed frame of music set the community abuzz, as everyone spilled out of The Crown into downtown Cincy. The first exceptional set of the indoor season had just gone down, and everybody understood. Tour was now fully underway. We sat, carefree, amidst the first two-night stand, with nothing to do but kick it until the next evening, and ten more shows staring us down. And after a set like this one, spirits floated through the night on cloud nine, awaiting nothing, and enjoying every moment of the ride.

Winged-music-note=====

Jams of the Day:

“11.20.09 Set II” (listen only)

[audio:http://phishthoughts.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/12/ph2009-11-20t10.mp3,http://phishthoughts.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/12/ph2009-11-20t11.mp3,http://phishthoughts.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/12/ph2009-11-20t12.mp3,http://phishthoughts.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/12/ph2009-11-20t13.mp3,http://phishthoughts.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/12/ph2009-11-20t14.mp3,http://phishthoughts.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/12/ph2009-11-20t15.mp3,http://phishthoughts.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/12/ph2009-11-20t16.mp3]

Enjoy fall tour’s fourth set in its entirety. Punch, Tweezer > Light > Train > Possum, Slave, YEM.

=====

DOWNLOAD OF THE DAY:

11.20.09 The Crown, Cincinatti, OH < Megaupload

11.20.09 (W.Rogell)

11.20.09 (W.Rogell)

I: Chalk Dust Torture, The Moma Dance, The Divided Sky, Alaska, Water in the Sky, Fast Enough for You, Time Turns Elastic, Gotta Jibboo, Fluffhead

II: Punch You In the Eye, Tweezer > Light > Back on the Train > Possum, Slave to the Traffic Light, You Enjoy Myself

E: Joy, Golgi Apparatus, Tweezer Reprise

Source: (FOB) Schoeps mk22 > KCY > Schoeps VMS02IB > Apogee Mini-Me > SD 722 (@24bit/96kHz)

Tags: ,

Moments In A Box: Night Three MSG (+1)

Posted in Uncategorized with the tags , , on December 14th, 2009 by Mr.Miner

When the dust finally settles at the end of tour, we are left with vibrant memories and indelible inspiration that help power us through everyday. These times often take the form of exploratory musical passages, but at other times, these frozen moments are born from songs or Phishy occurrences. Today, let’s take a look back at the final two nights of fall, and four unique occurrences that continued to sow the seed within our souls.

***

“Scents and Subtle Sounds” – 12.4 II, MSG

12.4.09 (G.Lucas)

12.4.09 (G.Lucas)

As the band stepped on stage for their final set at MSG, one could already envision the inevitable “Rock and Roll” opener; Phish tends to highlight their most successful pieces of the year at its conclusion. The Velvet Underground cover would certainly arrive, but not before the band shocked the arena with the return of their post-hiatus opus, “Scents and Subtle Sounds.” Brought back to life without the fantasy-like narrative introduction – just as we left the song in 2004 – the band unveiled its first-ever indoor rendition. Following the previous nights’ “Light,” and “Disease > Piper,” conventional wisdom said that we were in for an extended adventure. Although the band decided to keep the song within its surreal confines, its mere reintroduction was cause for great celebration. “Scents” provided two defining jams in the post-hiatus era, both set in Camden’s E Center about a year apart, and reaching stratospheric realms of psychedelia. With their “retirement” in 2004, Phish lopped off this song’s destiny for greatness. But when the song dropped, a tsunami of dopamine flooded my brain, blissed out that we were again merging with this mystical tale. Now, back on scene, Phish is ready to continue “Scents'”cosmic flight. The prodigal song that leaped directly into the upper echelon of the band’s offerings with its debut in 2003, has finally returned for further spiritual treks. A huge win for all.

[audio:http://phishthoughts.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/12/ph2009-12-04s2t01.mp3]

***

“You Enjoy Myself” – 12.4 II, MSG

(Sticker by Griggs)

(Sticker by Jiggs)

A certain symbiotic relationship exists between Madison Square Garden and “You Enjoy Myself” that always makes for a tasty treat. Tracing the song’s legacy in the building, Phish dropped all-time classic versions of “YEM” to close the third set of 1995’s legendary New Years’ Eve, and to punctuate two standout second sets on 12.29 in 1997 and 1998. All three of these versions hold a significant place in Phish lore, thus when the band opened the door to their timeless piece on 12.4 to close the MSG run, a palpable excitement bubbled to the surface of the arena. Nailing the composed half, when the band kicked into the funk, the place nearly exploded. Bouncing up and down in unison with Mike and Trey’s trampoline acrobatics, The Garden overflowed with energy by the time the jam dropped. Delving into a collaborative exercise in groove, Phish ended their three-night party with another top-notch version (though it can’t rightfully be grouped with the aforementioned triumvirate.) Trey locked into to a series of rhythm licks and delicate staccato lines, dancing his notes around Mikes swarming bass lines, Page’s piano melodies, and Fish’s swanky beats. Smoothly moving from rhythm playing to soloing, Trey transitioned the band into a fierce build, bringing the show – and stand – to a passionate peak.

[audio:http://phishthoughts.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/12/ph2009-12-04s2t10.mp3]

***

“Shine A Light” 12.4 E, MSG

12.4.09 (G.Lucas)

12.4.09 (G.Lucas)

After six sets at The Garden, Phish had thrown down most all of their major songs, thus when they came out for their final encore, nobody quite knew what to expect. As Trey stepped to the mic for a final time in New York City and emotionally crooned the opening line to “Shine A Light,” it became abundantly clear that they couldn’t have selected a better song. The southern gospel that brought the band’s “Exile” set to a sublime peak in Indio unified the massive arena in a collective glow. Carrying profound lyrical weight at this stage of the game, “Shine A Light” could fit as the theme of Phish’s modern era. A glorious piece of music, “Shine A Light” will provide more than a few tear-jerking moments before all is said and done. The words speak for themselves –

May the good Lord shine a light on you,
Make every song you sing your favorite tune.
May the good Lord shine a light on you,
Warm like the evening sun.

[audio:http://phishthoughts.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/12/ph2009-12-04s2t12.mp3]

***

“Antelope” – 12.5 II, Charlottesville

12.5.09 (G.Lucas)

12.5.09 (G.Lucas)

At the conclusion of Charlottesville’s smoking tour closer, Phish punctuated their final set with a classic dose of hilarity. As the band brought an intense “Antelope” to a head, Trey infused the final chorus with a humorous an allusion to a super-skilled stage-streaker that darted around the band in his birthday suit during the first set. Unable to be quickly caught, said streaker almost made the band stop “Yamar,” as Trey backed away from a naked hug, and Mike reacted with a near-halt to his thumping. Making this R-rated scene all the more absurd, this guy had a shocking ability to avoid stage security for a good while, using amps and speakers as picks while running around the stage like the Tasmanian Devil. As Trey set the gearshift to high, he spontaneously busted out the final lyrics, “You’ve got to run like a naked guy, out of control!” The band joined the comedic chorus in old-school, zany fashion, putting the finishing touch on a standout show, and tour, with collective laughter. Although the guy wasn’t around to see his ripple effect on the show, he will forever remember his night in jail with this recording.

[audio:http://phishthoughts.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/12/Phish-2009-12-05T0210.mp3]

Winged-music-note=====

Jam of the Day:

Rock and Roll > Ghost > If I Could” 11.21 II

[audio:http://phishthoughts.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/12/ph2009-11-21t13.mp3,http://phishthoughts.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/12/ph2009-11-21t14.mp3,http://phishthoughts.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/12/ph2009-11-21t15.mp3]

This sequence provided the improvisational highlight of Phish’s final set in Cincinnati.

=====

DOWNLOAD OF THE DAY:

12.4.09 Madison Square Garden, NYC, NY < Megaupload

MSG, NYC

MSG, NYC

I: Heavy Things, Possum, Wilson, Kill Devil Falls, Glide, 46 Days, Bouncing Around the Room, Reba, Dinner and a Movie, Guyute, Maze, First Tube

II: Scents and Subtle Sounds, Rock and Roll > Seven Below > Twist, Mike’s Song > I Am Hydrogen > Weekapaug Groove, The Horse > Silent in the Morning, You Enjoy Myself

E: Shine a Light

Source: Sennheiser MD441U > Edirol R4Pro @ 24/88.2

Tags: , ,

Weekend Nuggets: The Other Night In Albany

Posted in Uncategorized with the tags , , , on December 12th, 2009 by Mr.Miner

DOWNLOAD OF THE WEEKEND:

11.27.09 Knickerbocker Arena, Albany, NY < Megaupload

11.28.09 Albany (Peek)

11.28.09 Albany (Peek)

With all of the due praise that 11.28 has garnered for its improvisational odyssey, the night beforehand has slid under the radar. In one of the most unique shows of tour, Phish molded an original second set featuring two debuts, a couple bust-outs, and a hefty portion on-point jamming. “My Friend, My Friend,” an aural omen of the fire to come, kicked off the frame, setting the table for the out-0f-left-field cover, “Golden Age.” An experience likening the debut of “Roses Are Free,” twelve years earlier in Rochester, no one had any idea what song Phish had busted out. The entire set passed and we walked out of the venue having no idea the song was even a cover. With a triumphant Phish jam and lyrics referencing “an age of miracles,” I thought the band had just debuted their best-kept secret, written specifically for this go-round. Only later in the evening did I find out the song’s indie pop-tronica roots, download the song, and become mesmerized by its transformation. Phish fed off the energy born from “Golden Age” for the entire set, killing “On Your Way Down,” “Piper > Tommorrow’s Song” and “Harry Hood.” And the first set ain’t too shabby either!

I: AC/DC Bag, Maze, Driver, My Mind’s Got a Mind of its Own, Gumbo, Bouncing Around the Room, It’s Ice, Two Versions of Me, Timber, Limb By Limb, Cavern, Light

II: My Friend, My Friend > Golden Age*, On Your Way Down, Fluffhead, Piper > Tomorrow’s Song*, Prince Caspian, Harry Hood, Suzy Greenberg, The Squirming Coil, I Been Around

E: Fire

*Debut

Source: Sennheiser MD441U > Edirol R4Pro @ 24/88.2

Winged-music-note=====

Jams of the Weekend: 11.27.09

Golden Age

[audio:http://phishthoughts.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/12/ph2009-11-27s2t02.mp3]

Piper > Tomorrow’s Song

[audio:http://phishthoughts.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/12/ph2009-11-27s2t05.mp3,http://phishthoughts.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/12/ph2009-11-27s2t06.mp3]

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VIDEOS OF THE WEEKEND:

“Golden Age” 11.27.09

***

“On Your Way Down” 11.27.09

***

11.28.09 - Albany (Peek Photography)

11.28.09 - Albany (Peek Photography)

Tags: , , ,

Dustin’ Them Off

Posted in Uncategorized with the tags , , on December 10th, 2009 by Mr.Miner
12.5.09 (G.Lucas)

12.5.09 (G.Lucas)

Coupled with their explosive playing, the consistent flow of bust-outs speckled the path of fall tour. Each night, Phish reached deep into their catalog and pulled out at least one rarity they play only once in a blue moon; or at most, once per tour. This became one of the defining features of fall, and one that many fans crave, leaving many setlist pads sparkling. Without traveling across the country time and time again, some of these rarities may never be heard by regional fans, making the current frequency of these infrequent moments all the more exciting for so many. Sought after bust-outs carry the aura of the golden-ring; a reward for catching that particular show; a personal little treasure along the ride. Some songs become elusive between eras, fading in and out of existence, while others remain rare for their careers. This fall, Phish brought out more than a few songs that nobody saw coming, adding an refreshing element to their sets.

12.3.09 (W.Rogell)

12.3.09 (W.Rogell)

The multitude of bust-outs breaks down to the oozing confidence that Phish now boasts after relearning a good part of their repertoire. Their display of bravado began back in Hampton, with the very first song of this era – “Fluffhead.” Seen for years as the ultimate bust-out, and unplayed in the post-hiatus years because the band simply couldn’t handle its intricacies, “Fluffhead” made an immediate statement that Phish had a different attitude this time around. Unveiling one of their most difficult compositions right off the bat, the song has since become a staple of the band’s current rotation and a virtual musical microcosm of 2009 – tight, energetic, and hugely emotional. But the band also earned some others along the way, dropping more than a few rarities and spicing up setlists throughout the fall.

12.4.09 (W.Rogell)

12.4.09 (W.Rogell)

At some point during this past tour, Phish played, “Mountains In the Mist,” It’s Ice,” “Axilla,” “Big Black Furry Creatures From Mars,” “Sleep Again,” “Fire,” “Train Song,” “On Your Way Down,” “Golden Age,” “Torn and Frayed,” “My Friend, My Friend,” “Tomorrow’s Song,” “My Mind’s Got A Mind of Its Own,” “Two Versions of Me,” “Sanity,” “Uncle Pen,” “Foam,” “Vultures,” “Walk Away,” “Meat,” “Dinner and a Movie,” “Crimes of the Mind,” “Timber,” “Pebbles and Marbles,” “Nellie Kane,” “Horn,” “Weigh,” “Peaches En Regalia,” “Glide,” “Shine A Light,” “The Curtain (With),” “Scents And Subtle Sounds,” “Cities,” “Camel Walk,” “Sneakin’ Sally,” “The Old Home Place,” “Carini,” “Freebird,” “Cool It Down,” and “Bold As Love.” Though there have been longer gaps between some of these songs than others, that’s quite a list for a bakers dozen worth of shows. Some of these songs represent mere kick-downs, while others hold more potential; the most significant of all being the return of “Scents and Subtle Sounds.” Though re-introduced in succinct fashion, the band has already reached sky-scraping heights with the surreal springboard. If “Scents” gets back into rotation, watch out.

MSG (G. Lucas)

MSG (G. Lucas)

While bust-outs can’t make a show on their own, they can certainly add some spice to an evening, especially within the current framework of first sets that rely so heavily on song selection. “Alumni Blues” or “Buffalo Bill” certainly don’t equal musical explorations – or jams at all – but they can make the time in between them all the more entertaining. With a clear focus on reacquainting themselves with so many of their pieces, it seems that Phish has laid the foundation for years to come. Armed with an infinite amount of material, a vibrant spirit, and a burgeoning sense of exploration, the light is, indeed, growing brighter now.

Winged-music-note=====

Jam of the Day:

46 Days” 11.18.09

[audio:http://phishthoughts.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/12/ph2009-11-18s1t10.mp3]

This is the first jam of tour, and holds up as one of the most engaging. Featuring some of the thickest funk and locked-in, methodical playing we’ve heard in a while, this one came our of nowhere late in Cobo’s first set.

=====

DOWNLOAD OF THE DAY:

12.2.09 Madison Square Garden, NYC < Torrent

12.2.09 Madison Square Garden, NYC < Megaupload

12.2.09 (W.Rogell)

12.2.09 (W.Rogell)

I: AC/DC Bag, Chalk Dust Torture, Wolfman’s Brother, NICU, Ocelot, Brian and Robert, Poor Heart, Sample in a Jar, Peaches en Regalia, The Divided Sky, Cavern

II: Golgi Apparatus, Light > Slave to the Traffic Light, Tweezer > Joy, Sparkle, Harry Hood, Wading in the Velvet Sea, Suzy Greenberg, Run Like an Antelope

E: A Day in the Life, Tweezer Reprise

Source: Schoeps mk41 > KCY > Sonosax SX-M2/LS > SD 722 (@24bit/96kHz)

Tags: , ,

Spinning In Circles

Posted in Uncategorized with the tags , on December 10th, 2009 by Mr.Miner
12.3.09 (W.Rogell)

12.3.09 (W.Rogell)

Energy – the word is thrown around quite a bit in reference to Phish. Oft cited examples are: “That set had such high-energy!” “Time Turns Elastic sucked all the energy out of the room.” “The energy of the show suffered from all the drunk frat boys.” “You could feel the energy in The Garden last night!” Regardless of cultural identity or the number of shows one has seen, one of the defining qualities of the Phish experience how the abstract concept of energy comes to life. Energy depends on the band; energy depends of the fans; energy depends on the dynamic exchange between the band and their audience. As Phish stepped into the arenas of the east, and out of the amphitheatres of the summer circuit, the phrase that best describes the experience of fall shows is “intense collective energy.”

12.2.09 (W.Rogell)

12.2.09 (W.Rogell)

While fall tours have historically cranked the intensity level of the entire experience, Phish’s first fall tour since 2000 was destined to explode in white-hot fire. And if anything characterized the band’s performances throughout the tour, it was the tightly wound, explosive quality of their playing. With the ability to nail their songs precisely again, the band could let loose and allow their soul to flow into the music rather than think about what notes to play. What used to be a given about Phish in their prime, took almost a year to recapture – the subconscious flow of energy into their music. Thought processes seemed to fade away as the band embraced each moment of every song, measure and note. Phish imbued each phrase and beat with a renewed energy and enthusiasm that often resulted in raging, high-energy rock jams. Feeding off the band’s fervor, the audiences across the board responded ferociously, and the famed interplay between Phish and their live audience was reborn in a way it simply could not have been months earlier and in outdoor amphitheares.

12.4.09 (G.Lucas)

12.4.09 (G.Lucas)

Beginning in The Crown, as Cobo carried the feel of a dress rehearsal, every single night was underlined by a palpable energetic interplay between everyone in the building. The band had regained confidence in their playing, and could again pull off the blistering runs of notes and bizarre time signatures that characterized their earlier days, and they were proud to show everyone. Trey played with an abandon we hadn’t seen in ages, tearing apart solos while nailing fugues. Page’s confidence brimmed as strong as ever, as his piano leads often drove the band in certain directions. His bold, melodic theme gets all the credit for pushing Trey out of his comfort zone and kicking Albany’s “Seven Below” into orbit. Mike, as on top of his game as anyone, pushed his own playing to new territories within the context of the band, using more notes and heavier effects, while influencing the destiny of many whole-band excursions. Fishman, who many feel needs to step his game up, still provided more than enough fuel to frame the fire. The result? The incredibly fierce, yet not always exploratory, music that laced fall tour.

This same energy that defined the band’s spirited playing also went into their improv when they chose that route. Whether structured or open jamming, Phish almost always succeeded in shredding most every song they played. When they did take risks, they took them with the same energy that defined their tight compositions and six-minute songs, resulting in some incredibly sublime moments sprinkled throughout the tour. And the crowds fed like vultures off this energy. Peaking with a series of insane moments at Madison Square Garden, this fall will always be remembered for the magnified return of the Phish community’s unbridled energetic interplay.

12.5.09 (J.Thomas)

12.5.09 (J.Thomas)

Cincinatti’s “Split Open and Melt.” Syracuse’s “Piper > BBFCFM.” Philly’s “Bathtub Gin.” Albany’s “My Friend, My Friend,” and the awing “Seven Below > Ghost.” Maine’s “Undermind.” Charlottesville’s “Hood.” These are some of the most unadulterated energetic moments of tour. But there were two moments at MSG that stand up to any collective experiences I’ve witnessed at Phish. Something happened during 12.3’s “Fluffhead” peak, and 12.4’s “First Tube.” Anyone who was there will attest to it, though the actual moments are, literally, indescribable. A simultaneous, religious catharsis of 20,004 people blended together as one glowing ball of light, somehow contained by the bouncing floors and elastic walls of The Garden. Tidal waves of emotion, gushing like whitewater, flooded the mid-town arena in two perspective-altering episodes.

Regardless of the fanbase’s varying opinions on fall’s musical results, nobody can deny that Phish is, unquestionably, into it again. Clearly performing for the love of the game, Trey – specifically – looked like a kid in a candy store all tour long, living his refound dream. The band has refocused their energy on personal happiness and harnessing their emotion through their musical expression, and they are certainly accomplishing that goal. Seemingly carefree onstage again, the comfort and swagger of Phish has returned, and as we prepare to turn the calendar to 2010, that’s as good as an omen as any.

Winged-music-note=====

Jam of the Day:

Disease > Piper > Fluffhead” 12.3

[audio:http://phishthoughts.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/12/ph2009-12-03t11.mp3,http://phishthoughts.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/12/ph2009-12-03t12.mp3,http://phishthoughts.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/12/ph2009-12-03t13.mp3]

The centerpiece of The Garden’s second show.

=====

DOWNLOAD OF THE DAY:

12.3.09 Madison Square Garden, NYC, NY < Torrent

12.3.09 Madison Square Garden, NYC, NY < Megaupload

headerI: Punch You In the Eye, Backwards Down the Number Line, Axilla, Taste, Boogie On Reggae Woman, Stash, Lawn Boy, Time Turns Elastic, Back on the Train, Julius

II: Down with Disease > Piper > Fluffhead, Cities > Free, Halley’s Comet, Also Sprach Zarathustra > David Bowie

E: Character Zero

Source: Schoeps mk41> KC5> M222> NT222> Lunatec V3> SD 722 (@24bit/48kHz)

Tags: ,

Metaphyshical Music

Posted in Uncategorized with the tags , , on December 9th, 2009 by Mr.Miner
12.5.09 (G.Lucas)

12.5.09 (G.Lucas)

If “Backwards Down the Number Line” represented the joy and exaltation of Phish’s return this summer, “Light” has now become the band’s philosophical statement and their most significant new jam vehicle. Emerging as a central piece of Phish’s musical evolution this fall,”Light” not only pushed the limits of the band’s improv, but carries strong lyrical meaning as well. Rife in Buddhist allusion, Trey speaks of separating from one’s thoughts, the divine within us all, and embracing the shining possibilities of the moment.

I see the future is less and less there / and the past has vanished in the air. / I’m left in the now with a wondrous glow / I think I’m still me, but how would you know?

These lyrics, while describing Trey’s personal journey, could be read as a metaphor for Phish coming to grips with their new musical persona. Firmly planted in the moment, the band seems less concerned with the future than ever, and have consciously distanced themselves from a troubled past. But this process has led to a bit of a musical identity crisis; although they feel great playing, and that is certainly most important, just where they are headed remains undefined. But each time Phish takes the stage, their happiness and their inner light fuels the power of the moment. In a vocal round likening a group affirmation, the band sings:

And the light is burning brighter now (Obstacles are stepping stones) / And the light is burning brighter now (That guide us to our goal) / And the light is burning brighter now (fences are filters) / And the light is burning brighter now (That purify our souls)

12.3.09 (W.Rogell)

12.3.09 (W.Rogell)

As the versions of “Light” built throughout this fall, its musical platform began to infuse a new sound into the band’s improv. Beginning in Cincinnati, the band segued into “Light” from “Tweezer’s” gnarling fifteen-minute excursion in groove. Combining their classic vehicle with their newest launchpad (a segue the band has favored since its Fenway debut) Phish upped the ante with the first indoor version of “Light.” Cranking the intensity level to eleven, the band elevated the intensity and potential for the song during it’s first fall outing. With a small dose of cathartic exploration, the band began to hint at new direction – then promptly segued out of the song.

Skipping the next few shows, “Light” emerged in the bizarre position of first set-closer on Albany’s first night. The song’s first and only stand-alone version seemed oddly placed, but the version certainly built upon Cincy’s succinct outing. Morphing into a deep-space ambient excursion for nearly three minutes, Fishman began a drone beat that would have pushed the band into a truly engaging plane. But as soon as he kicked in with this rhythm, Trey called for setbreak. While not an incredibly compelling version, Albany’s jaunt illustrated Phish’s willingness to take the song to far out places, following their summer statements at Bonnaroo and The Gorge.

12.5.09 (G.Lucas)

12.5.09 (G.Lucas)

But the final three versions of tour, all played in relative proximity, unearthed some of the deepest jams of the fall. Broken out in the second set of Portland as the only exploratory piece in the frame, the band took a bold step outwards with this run-through. In the first far-reaching version of the tour, Phish got into some full, albeit brief, type-II playing that moved from the uplifting into hard groove, landing in a pool of amorphous jamming. This exploration seemed to re-awaken Phish to “Light’s'” interstellar abilities, and they obviously liked what they heard, featuring the song in two of their final four shows. These subsequent versions at MSG and Charlottesville would build upon Cumberland County’s centerpiece, leaving us with two of the most compelling musical segments of tour.

12.5.09 (J.Thomas)

12.5.09 (J.Thomas)

Phish showcased “Light” in their very next show as the unquestionable jam of the night, using the piece to kick off a three-day New York affair. Once again, crafting a magnificent highlight, this jam suggested a new improvisational direction. Combining ferocious playing with an experimental milieu, the entire band pushed each other into the most significant jam played over The Garden’s three nights. Transcending the song’s emotional build quickly, Phish turned to hard-nose textures, entering creative, type-II territory for the duration. Led by abstract bass offerings, Trey played quicker rhythm licks over a poly-rhythmic beat and Page’s piano leads, turning this into an original piece of art. Changing to more melodic offerings, Trey brought a spiritual element to a jam, which at this point, has gathered a momentum and life of its own; one of those living, breathing musical organisms. Entering into a driving, yet abstract, exploration, Phish organically immersed themselves in IT. Adding some snarling licks and themes to the mix, Trey led the band into a new-sounding piece of music that continued to grow. Fishman and Mike locked into a intricate rhythm that provided a complex backdrop, allowing Page and Trey to actively create an engaging, interwoven top half. The most successful and exploratory jam  of tour besides Albany’s “Seven Below > Ghost,” this version of “Light” arguably highlights the song’s young life.

12.5.09 (G.Lucas)

12.5.09 (G.Lucas)

The final fall rendition of the song came in the tour’s final show, and the third-ever combination of “Tweezer > Light.” This time, Phish blended their swampy dance odyssey, rather abruptly, with their newest standout, as Trey’s eagerness to get into “Light” took over. But when they got there, another ethereal journey materialized, this time moving into some of the most psychedelic textures we have heard in this era. Without a morsel of hesitation, the band soared into one of the song’s most creative outings. Evolving into an eerie spacescape painted with groove and melody, they passed through a segment that strongly suggested “Dave’s Energy Guide.” Between New York’s excursion and Charlottesville’s abstract mind-fuck, the band left no doubt that about their current experimental focus lies in “Light.”

As Phish winds down their comeback year and will continue to forge a path into an unknown future, one can surmise that their music will evolve into places we haven’t yet imagined. Using 2009 to set a foundation for what lies ahead, the band has given us  recent glimpses into new improvisational realms through the lens of their newest jam vehicle. If the playing that has characterized “Light” throughout the fall is any indication of future endeavors, this song holds many a musical pilgrimage in store.

Winged-music-note=====

Jams of the Day:

Light > Slave” 12.2

[audio:http://phishthoughts.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/12/ph2009-12-02t13.mp3,http://phishthoughts.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/12/ph2009-12-02t14.mp3]

Tweezer > Light” 12.5

[audio:http://phishthoughts.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/12/Phish-2009-12-05T0202.mp3,http://phishthoughts.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/12/Phish-2009-12-05T0203.mp3]

Fall’s two peak versions of “Light” came in powerful improvisational combos.

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DOWNLOAD OF THE DAY:

12.5.09 John Paul Jones Arena, Charlottesville, VA < Torrent

12.5.09 John Paul Jones Arena, Charlottesville, VA < Megaupload

John Paul Jones Arena, Charlottesville, VA

John Paul Jones Arena, Charlottesville, VA

I: AC/DC Bag, Chalkdust Torture, Stealing Time From The Faulty Plan, The Divided Sky, Ya Mar, Sneaking Sally Through the Alley, 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

Source: (FOB) Neumann ak43’s (nos) > lc3 > km100 > V3 > 722 > @24/48

Tags: , ,

A Matter of Choice

Posted in Uncategorized with the tags , on December 8th, 2009 by Mr.Miner
12.6.09 (J.Thomas)

12.5.09 (J.Thomas)

With the holidays just around the corner, and four shows left in Miami, Phish is on the brink of completing their first year back on the road. And what a year it has been! With an action-packed fall tour that gained serious momentum in Albany, the band brought hints of deeper musical exploration. Taking the first half of tour to acclimate to indoor arenas once again, when the band hit Albany after Thanksgiving, they were ready to take off – and that they did. Throughout the second half of tour, Phish showed an increased willingness to take risks, something that will be integral in the long-term musical success of the band. Trampolining off fifty-minutes of a deeper magic from the dawn of time, Albany’s “Seven Below > Ghost” pushed the band deeper into the creative fabric of their music over tour’s final week. Creating some of fall’s most indelible explorations at Madison Square Garden, with “Light,” Disease > Piper,” and “Seven Below,” and at Charlottesville with “Tweezer > Light,” Phish began to incorporate more open jamming into their shows.

12.6.09 (G.Lucas)

12.5.09 (G.Lucas)

But aside from these aforementioned jams, and some excursions sprinkled throughout the first half of tour, Phish – and particularly Trey – seemed to make a conscious choice in favor of more songs and less extended improv. Several jams during fall, even some of the spectacular ones, got the kibosh a bit too soon, cutting off potential dreamscapes. At profound musical moments, when Phish would formerly launch into sacred improv, more often than not they launched into their next song. And after witnessing the ease in which the band went nuts in Albany, it’s certainly not a matter of ability or polished chops; it’s a matter of choice.

12.6.09 (G.Lucas)

12.5.09 (G.Lucas)

Many have wondered if taking musical excursions close to, and over, the edge, brings back unwelcome memories and feelings of Trey’s days of indulgence. For as long as anyone can remember, the improv, the exploration, the drugs, losing himself in the power of the music – it was all part and parcel of Trey’s grand experiment. But now sober, and seemingly happier than ever, one has to wonder how his state of mind translates to the direction of Phish’s music. The band has displayed a greater intentionality behind their playing throughout the fall, featuring many blistering and creative type-I playing. Examples of this standout style can be found in almost any version of “Hood,” “Stash,” “Antelope,” “Slave,” “YEM,” “Limb,” “Reba,” or “Mike’s.” Explosive, rather than exploratory, playing has defined these songs, while only recently has “Light,” joined “Down With Disease” as the only guaranteed, open-ended psychedelic jaunts, with “Piper” and “Rock and Roll” not far behind. These patterns create an interesting dynamic at shows, one where almost everyone knows when jams are coming based on song choice. Dare I say Phish, the band that made the the wacky and unknown famous, has become a bit predictable? With surprises more often coming in bust-outs rather than improvisation, the band, while spicing up their setlists, has toned down their amount of jamming.

12.6.09 (G.Lucas)

12.5.09 (G.Lucas)

This evolution is quite interesting, because when the band does choose to explore new ground, they almost always arrive in transcendent musical passages that elicit boisterous ovations from the entire crowd, all knowing they witnessed something significant. Detroit’s “46 Days,” and “Disease,” Cincinnati’s “Rock and Roll > Ghost,” Syracuse’s “Drowned,” Philly’s “Disease” are all earlier examples of this from fall. With first sets  reserved, almost exclusively, for songs, compositions, and type-I jamming, Phish has limited the time-frame of their experimentation to the second half of their shows. But with increased musical risks during the last week of tour, and their enhanced comfort in the arena setting, signs seem to be pointing in the right direction. On the flip side, a tour that I thought would bring us many openly-improvised sets like Albany, brought us only one. That is not to say Phish didn’t play some great shows, they absolutely did. Things clicked on the first nights of Cincy, Philly, and Albany, and at Charlottesville and MSG, forming some stellar evenings.

But the question that still begs asking after almost a year is “What will Phish 3.0 become, and where will their music evolve?” Though Fall didn’t represent a massive step in any one direction, the band now seems at home in all its settings – amphitheatres, arenas, and festivals – and have a solid foundation on which to build upon. With three tours of sober playing under their belts, Phish may be on the verge of something bigger. Hinted at throughout fall tour – specifically towards the end – Phish’s spirit of exploration is alive and well, but the question lies in how often they will choose to don their musical moon boots and trounce off into the cosmos.

Winged-music-note=====

Jam of the Day:

Seven Below > Ghost” 11.28 II

[audio:http://phishthoughts.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/12/ph2009-11-28s2t01.mp3,http://phishthoughts.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/12/ph2009-11-28s2t02.mp3]

The most cohesive, brilliant, and thematic improv from Phish this year.

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DOWNLOAD OF THE DAY:

11.28.09 Knickerbocker Arena, Albany NY < Torrent

11.28.09 Knickerbocker Arena, Albany NY < Megaupload

11.28.09 Albany (S.Kelly)

11.28.09 Albany (S.Kelly)

I: Party Time, Stealing Time From the Faulty Plan, Uncle Pen, Sanity, Foam, Walk Away, NICU, Alaska, Split Open and Melt, Joy, Vultures, Backwards Down the Number Line

II: Seven Below > Ghost, Cool It Down > Gotta Jibboo, Let Me Lie, Wolfman’s Brother, Julius

E: You Enjoy Myself

Source: Sennheiser MD441U x2 set 1: 45deg./42cm set 2: 60deg./58cm, Nakamichi CM700/CP701: straight ahead, Sennheiser e602II: straight ahead > Edirol R4Pro ( Oade preamp mod ) @ 24/88.2

Tags: ,

A Feature Finale

Posted in Uncategorized with the tags , on December 6th, 2009 by Mr.Miner
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: ,

Evoking Spirits Past

Posted in Uncategorized with the tags , on December 5th, 2009 by Mr.Miner
12.4.09 (Photo: Graham Lucas)

12.4.09 (Photo: Graham Lucas)

Inside Madison Square Garden, one can feel the history of Phish in the arena. Having just completed their 17th show at the storied venue, the corridors drip with memories of nights past and moments we’ve enjoyed. When songs are dropped, one can’t help but remember the classic versions that have gone down within the round room that surrounds. On the final night of their three-night stand, the band evoked, and added, to their  34th Street legacy with a two-set performance of current hits, classic jams, and a significant return to their catalog. Locked and loaded with another non-stop setlist, the band blasted off in the greatest indoor Phish arena, bar none. When Phish has The Garden in the palm of the of their hand, manipulating energy with their minds and instruments, there is simply nothing like it. And last night was again one of those nights. With their least exploratory playing of the run, Phish defined their show with a second set of flowing, succinct improv, and a monster “YEM” to punctuate the whole shebang. With fierce playing, the band treated the Friday night audience to a plethora of grandiose anthems that created a memorable two-set experience.

12.4.09 (G.Lucas)

12.4.09 (G.Lucas)

After a string of high-energy rockers to start things off, the band whispered into the first version of “Glide” since their poignant and bittersweet Coventry farewell. A song that seeped heavy emotion in the fields of Vermont, nodding to the physical survival of all band members at their 2004 demise, the songs carried a distinctly celebratory feel when broken out last night. In a complete juxtaposition of tone, on this night “Glide” celebrated the arrival of this era, and the everlasting spirit of the Phish. Bringing an undeniable air of redemption to the set, this version’s significance wasn’t lost on anyone.

12.4.09 (G.Lucas)

12.4.09 (G.Lucas)

The sparkling gem of the first set came in the form of an old-school, up-tempo “Reba” that saw impeccable communication and interplay between the entire band. Drenching the arena with a sublime waterfall of driving melodies, Trey led the band in a version that immediately stood out as an indelible memory of the MSG run. Dropping, without whistling, into “Dinner and a Movie” the sinister bust-out sent the energy through the roof. Following the only “Guyute” of tour with a particularly smoking “Maze,” the band brought the house down to close the first set with a “First Tube” that matched “Fluffhead’s” peak as the MSG’s two points of near implosion. With collective energy pouring from the audience in tidal waves, this version defined the interplay between Phish and its audience as the two forces brought each other higher and higher to a mind-bending peak. This may be one of those moments you just had to be there to completely comprehend – ridiculously powerful stuff.

12.4.09 (W.Rogell)

12.4.09 (W.Rogell)

The second set held the promise of further experimental improvisation, and a small dose bubbled out of “Seven Below,” but more than anything, this set brought a series of heavy hitting songs that torched The Garden like MJ. But before the band launched into a string of connected pieces, they stunned everyone with the return of their post-hiatus masterpiece “Scents and Subtle Sounds.” Having not played the opus since Summer ’04, and never indoors, the reintroduction of one of post-hiatus most promising jam vehicles brought waves of blissful emotion through throngs of kids throughout the arena. Anticipating an experimentation of the likes we’ve seen at the beginning of the last couple second-sets, instead the band played a standard version that brought the song back into play; and there are few better developments over the three-night run.

12.4.09 (W.Rogell)

12.4.09 (W.Rogell)

After the opener, Phish put a spotlight on another of ’09’s greatest hits, “Rock and Roll.” One of the year’s indelible type-II vehicles, last night Phish played a rather contained rendition with a hefty dose of blistering rock and a section of percussive breakdown typical of many versions. With no shortage of precise playing, this jam didn’t break or explore any new  ground the band hasn’t covered many times proficiently this year. But as the song came to its arguably premature end, the band twisted into “Seven Below,” a certain nod to Albany’s epic that awakened their improvisational spirit a week ago. Phish jammed from off the song’s theme into a segment of hypnotic whole-band interplay that Trey painted with a repetitive lick, potentially a loop, lending a drone feel to the night’s most compelling excursion. Placing their open improv in the middle of set rather than at the beginning, this mystical music brought the band out to its furthest point of the evening, crafting a abstract escapade. A not-so-exploratory second “Twist” of tour still transcended the near-composed jam in Syracuse with some tight and creative type-I improv while bringing a welcome return to the setlist. Without letting up, the band returned to the historically terrorizing territory of MSG “Mike’s Songs.” Channeling the arena’s copious energy, the band built a gnarling rendition that brought echoes of “Grooves” past from the rafters.

Following a “Horse > Silent” interlude, the band brought down the house with the groove-based highlight of the night in a stupendous “YEM.” Once settled into a funked-out jam, Trey played off Mike’s bass patterns, taking a signature rhythm lick – one codified on The Siket’s Disc “The Name is Slick” –  and turned the party out. Weaving variations of the staccato lick throughout the band’s rhythmic gymnastics, Trey hit his solo in full stride, stretching things out in the biggest blowout of the night and a rightful cap to the stand. But just when you thought Phish had played it all, they came out with the memorable peak to their Exile on Main Street set, the gospel-laced “Shine a Light.” A perfect ending to a phenomenal three night stand, the band integrated their Halloween costume into their triumphant Garden finale. Forever etched in the memory of all in attendance, and with musical memories galore, Phish’s MSG run ended in a fitting lyrical tribute to the entire Phish community.

And now, the Southern denouement…

P1070233_Compressed

12.4.09 (Photo: Graham Lucas)

I: Heavy Things, Possum, Wilson, Kill Devil Falls, Glide, 46 Days, Bouncing Around the Room, Reba, Dinner and a Movie, Guyute, Maze, First Tube

II: Scents and Subtle Sounds, Rock and Roll > Seven Below > Twist, Mike’s Song > I Am Hydrogen > Weekapaug Groove, The Horse > Silent in the Morning, You Enjoy Myself

E: Shine a Light

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