Musings In a New Year

12.31.09 - Miami (Photo: Wendy Rogell)

Almost a week later, all I can think about is Miami; what a phenomenal run! Over the last three nights of the year, Phish took an impressive step towards permanently regaining top form. Like King Midas, everything the band touched turned to gold throughout the waning nights of the “aughts,” leaving the band’s early-summer growing pains as time-washed memories. The band had IT once again – at least for these nights – and could do no wrong. With all four players at the top of their game, Phish converged in celebration of now, with seven sets of the most encouraging music we’ve heard thus far.

12.30.09 (S.Williams)

Each moment unfolded with a patient luster, each measure given equal attention, in a series of particularly confident performances. With each member fluidly owning their instrument, the band’s collective focus centered on musical conversation. Sure, this is always the goal of improvisational music, but it hasn’t always been so routine this year. In Miami, the proficiency and the subtlely with which Phish exchanged ideas, blew most of the year’s dynamic out of the water. There have been many outstanding nights of music throughout the year, from March through December, but the way the band so clearly listened and responded to each others’ every move created a far enhanced dynamic down in Florida. And lo and behold, several of 2009’s top-shelf jams grew from this final weekend.

12.29.09 (W.Rogell)

More legitimate action and interplay existed within Miami’s music. Unlike many straight-forward, high-energy jaunts of the summer and fall, these multi-dimensional jams had layers, themes, plateaus, and peaks; psychedelic intricacies. Stuff like “Tweezer > Caspian,” “Back On the Train,” “Ghost,” and “Rock and Roll > Piper,” all contained completely unique, superlative improvisation, while most every other launchpad showed up in shining form; not to mention the many bust-outs played impeccably. Going light on their ornate compositions, the band stuck with “Divided Sky,” “Curtain (With),” “Guyute,” and “Fluffhead,” and slayed them all, minus “Fluff.” But, hey, that one’s excusable since they had a different drummer.

Showcasing their full repertoire over four nights, Phish punctuated their comeback year triumphantly, illustrating prodigious growth over 2009. Building off their momentum of late-fall, the band played three consecutive nights of the year’s most exceptional music. Before Miami, these flashes of brilliance came in songs, sets, and, occasionally, whole shows. But for the first time in 2009, Phish brought the absolute fire for three consecutive nights – six sets in a row. And don’t be calling out Red Rocks or MSG – they were certain stepping stones, but this was a whole ‘nother ball game. Miami completely changed the landscape as we turn to 2010.

12.31.09 (W.Rogell)

Having regained their swagger in full force, Phish seems destined to blast into this new decade with renewed creativity and conviction. With a year of touring under their belt, the band has fully regained their sea legs, returning to form as the psychedelic juggernauts we once knew. And the best part about the current situation is that they seem as ecstatic as we are about these developments. With solo tours planned, rumors bubbling about summer and beyond, and “tapes” we can’t put down again, the Phish universe is bursting with energy and moving at full speed once again.

They want us to be happy. Well – so far, so good.

12.31.09 (Photo: Wendy Rogell)


Jam of the Day:

Boogie Like An Antelope” 12.30 II


Run Like A Reggae Woman.



12.28.09 American Airlines Arena < Torrent

12.28.09 American Airlines Arena < Megaupload

12.28.09 (S.Williams)

I: Sample in a Jar, NICU, My Soul, Roggae, Undermind, Bouncing Around the Room, Poor Heart, Stash, I Didn’t Know, Beauty of a Broken Heart, Possum

II: Mike’s Song > Light > I Am Hydrogen > Weekapaug Groove, Alaska, Backwards Down the Number Line, Makisupa Policeman > Harry Hood, Contact, Character Zero

E: First Tube

Source: Sennheiser MD441U > Edirol R4Pro ( Oade preamp mod ) @ 24/88.2 (Taper – padelimike)

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1,024 Responses to “Musings In a New Year”

  1. marcoesq Says:

    The Hampton ’98 Mike’s gets me going pretty good in the gym too

  2. Robear Says:

    agreed, KWL. Great point.

    Did you notice the HUGE thank you Trey gave to Gary, the new soundman that ‘we love’ during the NYE encore?

    Gary took lots of heat early, and is now fully on board, doing an excellent job.

    We have to remember that each venue, while familiar to the band, was new to Gary.

    The band, crew and tech peeps regained their confidence through out the year.

  3. EL Duderino Says:

    I was listening to the sbds from Alpine ’04 yesterday, not for any particular reason other than I just downloaded both shows from Demon. Paul’s boards are awful sounding compared to Gary’s either leg 1 or leg 2 of summer.

  4. EL Duderino Says:

    @ Robear

    Plus the new digital board and the new PA and the new Mics makes all this a learning curve.

  5. BTB Says:

    El Duder – the reason I mention Magilla as the ultimate piss break is b/c of the time they played it at Deer Creeck (03′ I think) and everyone took a piss all at once. Trey cut the song short and commented, “should we play that one again?” Obviously they recognized no one was into hearing that one live. I like the studio version though and Trey has reworked it.

    I don’t think they’ve played it live since.

    Neemor – I added DFBoy as I agree with Fishman, “it gives me a reason to hate this band”. Which is funny, but kinda true in a way. For me it’s a throw-away

  6. Robear Says:

    nice, El Dude.

    Lots of criticism this year directed at the band and crew, came through Rose colored glasses on the past.

  7. Neemor Says:

    ‘Dress Up Your Pet Day (the 14th) or National Hugging Day (the 21st).’
    Well done.

    24th Compliment Day. That sure is a great day.
    And I like your sweater.

    Today being Old Rock Day, please spin Led Zeppelin at some point.
    Or the like.

    Also, See Anchorman.

  8. gratefulcub Says:

    Love Dog Faced Boy.

    Maybe it is soley due to the Hood>DFB>Hood (with Sam Bush) from Nashville being the first time I saw it. That was a definite “What’s going on moment” followed quickly by big grins.

  9. nonoyolker Says:

    Didn’t Fishman write the lyrics to Dog Faced Boy? I dig that tune. Nice slow down number.

    re SBDs: REALLY tasty from Miami. Sound is about perfect.

  10. SOAM Says:

    What happened to BUG?

  11. BTB Says:

    Or apparently criticism of Dry Goods, who according to Mitch the Custy, they roll up a shirt into your poster and send you bent rimmed hats.

    Sound guy has improved. I guess we could say 1000% since Fenway (which is a tricky place).

  12. EL Duderino Says:

    The biggest difference between Gary and Paul, and y’all can correct me if I’m wrong but I don’t think so is, Clarity and Depth. first off the equipment that Phish had used in 2.0 was not upgraded from 1.0 and second Paul was self taught. That’s impressive but there is a lot to be said for getting an education from a certified university in this field. Gary I’m sure learned a little more about the reasons why you do certain things as Paul may have not through trial and error. Just my .02$ on that.

  13. BTB Says:

    BUG was played at Cobo. Not sure after that.

  14. Robear Says:

    On a more sour note, my backwoods internet has gone from pretty slow to really frickin’ slow. I can’t stream the JOTD’s anymore. Drat!

    Patiently awaiting the soundboards from Miami to come in the mail.

  15. albert walker Says:

    To show how bad the Phish produced SBD’s really are
    Just listen to Indio

    They were done by an outside sound company and they sound AMAZING!

    Funny how each shows varied so dramatically in sound.

    For produced by Phish SBD’s I would agree Miami is at the top of the list for good sound.
    I really like them.
    Mike sounds full and great.

  16. BTB Says:

    Oh, and the Joy box was 6 years late.

  17. yanzlow Says:

    TAB ’99-01 is some real, real good stuff. In July of ’01 I flew out to San Diego and followed Trey up the coast (with a quick stop in Vegas – my 1st time there) to SF. First time driving the PCH, in a convertible (of course). That music will always hold a special place b/c of that tour. Speaking of bust-outs, either Trey or Phish (or both!) needs to get Mozambique back into play. what a fun tune!
    Somebody commented about how the jams during the holiday run seemed “composed.” Yes. They do, but they are indeed still improv. One of the hallmarks of their greatness, and somewhat missing from chunks of ’09 – though to be expected. It’s pretty mindblowing that they’ve been able to hit moments like that so quickly. Even in the much-vaunted and hallwed late ’90s there have been entire shows where that level of uber-lock-in doesn’t happen.
    One more thing – when one band member plays a lick from another song during something else, it’s a ‘tease’ but when the whole band is bouncing back and forth (listen to page on the boogielope – awesome, and def. not run like an antelope chords) there should be a name for that. I hesitate to use the term ‘mash-up’ b/c that usually is rap and something else done on a computer. Lets coin a new term!

  18. albert walker Says:

    Gary is LOUD and muddy
    kind of a flat mix with everything at similar levels

    Paul was softer but more clear with better musical separation between instruments IMO
    very Trey heavy in his general mixes

    Cinci and MSG it was loud as fuck in there

    don’t know which one I dig more
    but very different

  19. HarryHood Says:

    @ Type III

    Great list, but my favorite holiday is none other than Feb 2. Groundhog Day. It’s the only officially recognized day that we celebrate a varmit.

    Me at noon on Feb 2: “Take it easy guys, I’m outta here for the day”

    Co-workers: “Why are you taking the afternoon off”

    Me: “Guys, seriously? It’s Groundhog Day, what the hell are you still doing here?”

  20. HarryHood Says:

    ^ Another missed question mark….. That’s 2 today

  21. BTB Says:


    and we get to say Punksatony

  22. joe Says:

    where’s a-hole day on that list?

    The Miami Bowie is bursting at the seams with energy. Seems like much more than any other 09 version.

  23. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    HH, Groundhog Day is my mom’s and grandmother’s birthday, so it’ll always be a special one for me. just not in a varmint-loving kind of way.

    when I was in college there were people I knew who would road trip out to Puxatony every year. I went on tour; they went to central PA. I think I chose wiser…

  24. whole tour! Says:

    all time classic “mash-ups”

    campus club 2-13-1992 – big black furry antelope from mars

    Big Birch 7-13-94 – Cavern -> Wilson[1] -> Cavern > NICU -> Tweezer -> Julius -> Tweezer[2] -> Big Black Furry Creature from Mars[3] -> Tweezer -> Mound

    Miami 12-30-09 – boogie on like an antelope

  25. marcoesq Says:


    I’m with you, I LOVE Mozambique

    Too bad they dropped it out of rotation after Fall ’99

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