Monday, December 14, 2009

And Then There Were Three

When fall tour was announced there were only three shows that got circled for me.




Of course, lotto did not pan out that way, but with a series of swift craigslist moves, i ensured myself entrance to all three shows at the historic (and hometown) arena.

There is literally no other place like it on earth.

With a jubilant excitement reminiscent of 15 years ago, we geared up for what we all knew would be killer shows.

While one disappointing aspect of these shows was the utter disappearance of the "scene" outside of MSG, likely into the surrounding bars that none of us were old enough to drink at previously, little else differed from feeling of the great blockbuster shows of the past.

If there was ever a time that I had to choose one venue to see Phish play in for the rest of my/our careers i would choose MSG.

This year alone I've been to Hampton, Red Rocks and The Gorge, all legendary venues in their own right.

But nothing compares with MSG.

I pretty much galloped down 32nd street every night, wading into the sea of miracle needers, up the stairs and into the cavernous arena in what felt like seconds.

Including all of the outdoor summer venues with massive lawns, MSG is ALSO the chillest venue on the planet. As soon as the lights went down it was all good. The staff was helpful but didn't interfere with anything.

Coming off the best improv of tour in Albany and a one night jaunt to Maine for an intimate old school gathering, MSG was setup to be nothing short of spectacular.

Opening with a strong AC/DC Bag>Chalkdust combo and then dropping a deliciously funky Wolfman's signaled that they were firing on all cylinders. A long reach into the closet to pull out Peaches and a boisterous Divided Sky capped a nice first set back in the Garden.

A second set full of monsters highlighted by an exploratory Light>Slave>Tweezer and a tight Suzy>Antelope closing left us feeling good about the next couple of nights.

Beginning the second night with a song sacred to these hallowed grounds PYITE got the crowd fired up and when they kicked into BDTNL, i thought the roof might literally come down. Unfortunately, this version went nowhere, even after a few attempts to take off. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't, but i appreciate the effort. Nonetheless a good first set placement of this new tune.

Continuing the high energy with Axilla>Taste, a thumping Boogie On that was cut too short my taste, and a torrid Stash, the rest of the set lacked the same punch, though Time Turns Elastic did NOT kill the set as i imagined it would.

Then the dance party started. Before the set, Wurtz turns to me and goes, "I'll find a slow song to take a leak." At the end of the encore neither one of us had moved an inch.

3.0 jam monster DWD lived up to its rep in maybe the best jam of MSG as it landed perfectly into Piper. I haven't loved the force with which Trey has been pushing Piper this year, but there could not have been a better fit, similar to Slave the night before out of Light.

A strong Piper melded perfectly with the opening strum of Fluffhead in another perfect placement and the crowd was lifted into another stratosphere. Fluff provided one of "those" moments for everyone at the show.

Where many expected a ballad, the band launched into a groovefest for the rest of the show.

Cities was thick as molasses and just as they started to take it in an interesting direction, Trey called for Free, with similarly gooey layers.

A very short Halley's led to a short and powerful 2001 and then the climactic Bowie to cap off a set that rivals Cincy night one set two as best set of tour.

I'll be honest. I called dance party part deux for night three. I was wrong. My friend craig got it right in calling MSG3 a rockfest. As i've previously mentioned, it just wasn't my type of show, but upon re-listening i've found some neatly tucked away moments that i didn't catch the first time as well as some of the truly great peaking moments that notched the show up a little in my book.

A disjointed first set, with a few peaks in 46 Days (jam cut short) and Reba (oooollld school) really came together with the closing combo of Maze and the most energetic moment of all three shows, First Tube.

The return of Scents and Subtle Sounds, yet another good piece of 2.0 that i have neglected in the past, didn't lead to any mind-blowing moments, but it was nice to hear.

The inevitable Rock and Roll and Albany killer Seven Below (underrated jam IMO) explorations pettered out a bit too quickly into Twist, before the Mike's Groove provided a bit of textured funk. I'm still waiting for Weekapaug to go off one of these days.

Always great to catch a Horse>Silent and YEM went in a nice direction, but we were truly showered in glory with Shine a Light. If you had asked me before the show, i would have guessed Loving Cup encore, but this newly learned Stones classic was a fitting end to a powerful run of shows.

These shows met expectations and then some. Long term bust outs paved the way for some really interesting improvisation and tour regulars were nailed with precision.

Much as this entire tour was a re-establishment of Phish's arena rock creds, the first trip back to MSG since 2002's mistake laden slop-fest left a new impression on fans. Once again it has become clear that complex songs will not stand in the way of terrific shows and while there will be flubs, it will be because the band is pushing themselves, not holding back.

Still buzzing, i headed for Charlottesville on the last stop of 2009 tour for me. Would it be a continuation of MSG or a standalone southern celebration?

Friday, December 11, 2009

What C'ville could have looked like...

I was not expecting the show the we got at C'ville. I thought the only show in the south would be a tour capper for the ages, with bust outs and big jams. While we did get both, they came from the opposite places i was anticipating.

While trying to stick to a 3.0 formula, i figured we'd end up with something like this:

Set I

Tube, Runaway Jim, Moma Dance, Foam, Lizards, Stealin Time, Divided Sky, Ya Mar, Gumbo, Funky Bitch, Wedge, Sugar Shack, Split Open and Melt, Antelope

Set II

Ghost>Theme From the Bottom, Undermind>Sneakin' Sally, Light>Sand, Squirming Coil

E: Bold As Love, Loving Cup

Harnessing the "Energy"

Mr. Miner did a great piece on the energy that was so prevalent during the indoor fall tour, which got me thinking about what we heard indoors that differed so greatly from the outdoor throw-downs of late summer.

Summer gave us such great hope after the organic improvisations of Red Rocks, Gorge and the East Coast that we assumed this would carry over into the high intensity bowels of the indoor arena.

But tour started, and while there were great moments, more often than not jams seemed to fade away or follow easily identifiable formulas and build to deafening crescendos instead of textured paradises.

While the causes are plenty, many are focusing on Trey holding back, either due to needing more comfort on stage or because of some mental association of type 2 jamming with drugs.

I'd like to take a different view.

I think Trey wasn't holding back at all. If you were at MSG, there's no way you could say that Trey was laying back or taking it easy. He was bouncing from minute one through the last note of the third show, peaking with First Tube.

The problem, as it seems to me, may be an inability at this moment to properly harness the power of an indoor show.

The vast audience lawns and lush landscapes of summer provided a perfect backdrop to let the band reacquaint themselves with sonic exploration. The first leg provided peeks and snippets, but they tore loose in the mountains of Colorado and never looked back until the last notes of SPAC.

Fall tours have always been powerhouse events full of dark and murky dance grooves and psychedelia, but with the band's new focus on finding the happiness and JOY in their music many of the formerly evil turns the music would have taken in the past turned into soaring major chord progressions or choppy funk-ish rhythms as they weren't sure where each other intended the jam to go.

By C'ville (my fourth show in a row) it was clear that Trey was relying on a small set of riffs and licks that attracted audience applause and usually were in combo with a powerful moment of lighting from Kuroda.

At the same time, the creativity rediscovered during the late summer tour continued to evolve. Though more predictable than ever, if its going to take them playing Light every three shows to regain the magic, then so be it. At some point it will all click again.

Not many of us have ever been in the position of doing something the same way for 20 years, having our crutch, or whatever you want to call it taken away, then trying to make it be the same.


A note on MSG 3:

MSG3 just wasn't my type of show. Lots of great playing, a terrific setlist, but perhaps just a little too straightforward. I was expecting a legendary destruction of the Garden, and when leaving the show i felt like the moments where the show could have taken off into another stratosphere never materialized and we were left with more of a "here's what we need to play before the tour ends" show. Lots of people disagree, so what do i know...

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

The End Of Tour

While the last notes of C'ville replay in my head, I can say for certain that this was a great tour.

Highlighted by terrific exploratory jams in Cincinnati and Albany, incredible energy at MSG and an instant classic of a tour closer that included a Naked Man, this tour certainly brought us back a few years in mind and spirit.

I said it after Hampton3 and after Summer Tour, but Phish is back. It's not 94, 97 or 2000, but the band is making high quality music on a nightly basis and we all should be glad.

Would i like Trey to stop cutting jams short? Sure. Could Fishman change up the beats a little more often to open up jams? Sure.

Were Mike and Page playing out of their minds exploring their instruments in new ways? Absolutely.

Mike was clearly the MVP of this tour, with Page a close second. Trey's re-emerging confidence may have played a bigger role in their overall sound, but in the four shows i saw live, Mike's melo-rhythmic bass lines (yes, i just made that up) anchored nearly every improvisation.

Quick Thoughts Before Full Reviews:

  • Best set I saw was MSG2 Set II (DOWNLOAD), C'ville Set II close 2nd (DOWNLOAD)
  • While the Garden is untouchable, JPJ Arena was a great place to see a show
  • Good opening sets at MSG1 and C'ville

Friday, October 23, 2009

Tour Opener #4 - Thursday, 09/09/1999 GM Place, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

Set 1: Mozambique[1], Axilla > Limb By Limb, Horn, Guyute, Chalk Dust Torture, Back at the Chicken Shack, Stash, I Didn't Know, Character Zero

Set 2: Birds of a Feather, Ha Ha Ha, Ghost, The Inlaw Josie Wales[1], First Tube[1], Tweezer, Bug, You Enjoy Myself, Hello My Baby

Encore: Sample in a Jar, Golgi Apparatus, Tweezer Reprise

[1] Phish debut.

Notes: Mozambique, The Inlaw Josie Wales, and First Tube made their Phish debuts at this show


I think without a doubt, following Halloween '96, the biggest influence over the band's sound came from Trey's solo tour in the spring of 1999. Not only did the last batch of 1.0 songs come from these shows, but the multi-layered soundscapes of 99-00 differed greatly from the funk throw-downs of 97-98, probably in no small part to the fact that Trey had a lot of space to fill on stage with only a bass player and drummer.

Going back to listen to the 2nd set of those first Trey shows really reminds us that there was an extremely prevalent experimental vibe strung throughout the tour. The wide open nature of songs like Sand and Gotta Jibboo presented him with a new opportunity to build something special each night by himself on stage.

Bringing these themes and new compositions back to Phish, a directional change in their sound is almost instantly recognizable as they began their June run. New songs Back on the Train and Bug as well as the instrumentals My Left Toe and much later The Happy Whip and Dung (from the Siket Disc) were all indicative of a slower paced, mellow groove style.

In choosing this show over the June opener, the basic reasoning is that the monster songs from Trey tour had yet to be incorporated into Phish's rotation. While there are some incredible shows from that tour like Atlanta and Oswego, our discussions came to a head and were finalized in that the tour that debuted First Tube, Gotta Jibboo and Sand HAD to take priority. Some of the most memorable moments of 99-00 and beyond sprouted from those songs.

In starting another new song, Mozambique, a song only played on this tour but one that pop's up frequently on Trey Tour, the band was making it clear that there was some new music to be played and that they were toying around with some new musical textures.

I happen to love this song, and other songs from the 8' Fluorescent Tubes gig.

A powerful Axilla (sans ending) drops into a Limb by Limb that had some good length and some interesting improv to it. At this early juncture in the show, it was already slightly apparent that a shift from layered funk to sheer soundscapes had occurred.

Horn and Guyute were both nice first set adventures, Guyute bringing some real darkness to the mix.

Again during Chalkdust, there are moments when it seems that they were going to break away from the song strucuture, but eventually are pulled back in and take a breather with Chicken Shack. As much as I loved the new Trey songs, the inclusion of the blues standard does very little for me.

Closing the set down with pure madness, they launch into an epic Stash that explores some exceptionally dark and rhythmically obscure places. Great version.

In only the 5th performance since 1996, I Didn't Know (with vacuum) provided some great fun before ending with a standout take of Character Zero. In listening to this show for this post, I found myself starting this track over again to make sure i'd heard this correctly. For a song that has recently become a bathroom break for many phans, it was refreshing to hear a top notch version.

The second set opened up with a raging Birds of a Feather, this one showing signs of laying texture over the structure unlike many traditional versions and the comical Fishman tune Ha Ha Ha.

Out of the silence comes the eerie whistle of Ghost bringing us all to a gooey and delicious land of thick beats, bass chunks and mellow improvisation. Having been a product of the funk explosion in early '97, Ghost was primed at this juncture to be a breeding ground for cutting edge jams and exploration.

Treating us to back to back new tunes, Trey debuted The Inlaw Josie Wales on acoustic guitar and then gave us perhaps the best new tune of the Farmhouse era, First Tube.

I'm not sure there are enough words to describe the energy this song brings to every show. Placed all over the set list throughout the years, its an instant lift from a long jam or slow song and can kick start a set or bring down the house as an encore.

Keeping the mood high, they rip into a Tweezer, heavily infused with funk before Trey starts ripping some rock star lines about halfway through the jam.

Giving us all a break for a moment with Bug, the band was swinging back and forth between massive improvisational conquests and tighter composed tunes quickly as we were instantly hit with YEM.

Crescendoing toward a tight, funky jam with an ambient decay in sound that melts into an intricate vocal jam, the band then comes together for Hello My Baby.

Sample in a Jar, Golgi Apparatus, Tweezer Reprise

A great encore of high energy classics topped with perhaps the best way to end a show and leave everyone high on a cloud.

This show was the first of a giant cross nation slog that would take them to some great venues and produce some incredible music.

First Tube, Gotta Jibboo and Sand (debuted on subsequent nights) would go on to become rotation staples, exemplifying and pushing the new sound the band was leaning towards.

Unfortunately, we didn't get a chance to discuss the Japan shows, which also left their mark on the band. Touring in Japan in smaller venues and to large festivals to fans that looked and sounded like nothing the band had previously experienced must have been an eye opening and humbling experience.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Tour Opener #3 - 04/04/1994 The Flynn Theatre, Burlington, VT

Set 1: The Divided Sky, Sample in a Jar, Scent of a Mule[1], Maze, Fee > Reba, Horn > It's Ice > Possum

Set 2: Down with Disease[1] > If I Could[1], Buried Alive[2], The Landlady[2], Julius[3], Magilla[4], Split Open and Melt[2], Wolfman's Brother[3] > I Wanna Be Like You[5], The Oh Kee Pa Ceremony[2] > Suzy Greenberg[2]

Encore: Harry Hood, Cavern[6]

[1] Debut.
[2] Giant Country Horns.
[3] Debut; Giant Country Horns.
[4] Giant Country Horns; more of a shuffle beat than usual.
[5] Phish debut; Giant Country Horns.
[6] Old lyrics. Carl Gearhard on trumpet.

Notes: This show, a benefit for The Flynn Theatre, featured many debuts, including Scent of a Mule, If I Could, Wolfman’s Brother, Julius, and the full Down with Disease. I Wanna Be Like You also made its Phish debut. The show kicked off with one a cappella line of My Hometown. Buried Alive through Suzy Greenberg featured The Giant Country Horns: Mike Gallick on baritone sax, Carl “Geerz” Gerhard on trumpet, Dave “The Truth” Grippo on alto sax, Don Glasgo on trombone, Chris Peterman on tenor sax, and Joey Sommerville on trumpet. Cavern, which contained the old, alternate lyrics, also featured Gerhard. Magilla was played slightly differently than most versions, with more of a shuffle beat. Trey updated the crowd throughout the show on the score of the Duke - Arkansas NCAA championship basketball game.


A show that served as a bridge between what was and what would be, sandwiched between perhaps their greatest show up to this point (12/31/93) and a spring and summer of virtuosic performances.

As many tours had begun in these earlier years, we were introduced to new songs, these recorded for Hoist. Most, if not all of these tunes became locked into the regular rotation for years to come.

This period of immense focus and creativity that we were about to embark upon started in their hometown with old friends on stage and off. While new songs these days are often greeted with skepticism and indifference, the audience laps up every last drop. While its not hard to imagine instantly falling in love with Disease or Wolfman's, this show reminds us of a time when all of the new music was fully appreciated and eagerly accepted.

Kicking off with an a capella line then Divided Sky, the band immediately jumps headfirst into one of their harder compositions. Followed by one of the only Hoist songs known to fans before the album's release, Sample in a Jar keeps the energy high.

One thing that is already apparent, and continues throughout the show is the pace at which they continue to fire off song after song. While today's shows often have the vibe of a well paced excursion, shows during this period exhibited rapid fire release of songs before the previous song had fully finished.

These set-lists were tightly composed novellas, stringing a new story together night after night.

The first debut of the night came with Scent of a Mule, a quirky tale with dueling solos that has launched more than a few incredible moments of music throughout the years.

Out of the smoke of Mule, the frenetic beat of Maze rises to our ears. Tinged with arabian themes, this version is straight ahead fire.

Again, without taking a moment to breathe, the bass drum kicks of Fee begin our tale of the weasel. One of those songs that never gets old and is never out of place in any set, the end of this one dissolves to one of my favorite Reba's.

Maybe the very hardest of Trey's compositions (sorry Guyute), Reba was already a fan favorite and jam monster by this point. Immediately upon landing in the jam section, we are taken on a short ride out of the song structure before returning to familar territory and even given a treat during the bag it tag it reprise with improv whistling. An incredibly fun version all around that deserves a slot in the discussion of great Reba's.

A beautifully executed Horn precedes a blistering It's Ice, complete with some really interesting jamming in the middle section. This is one of those sections that doesn't really get drawn out too far anymore that has always held some absolutely incredible potential.

Continuing the trend of taking the music out of the song structure in Possum, we were treated to some playful interludes after its raucous beginning, and before its glorious peak and ending.

Though a tight set with many great moments, the 2nd set debuts would come to dominate this show.

Lacking the spacey ambient intro that would come to signify Down With Disease (or confuse it with another!), the band ripped straight into this now classic tune for the first time after giving us the "peak" at the stroke of midnight during new years so Mike could get footage for the music video.

A rendition that pretty much stuck to the album version, albeit with a slightly extended jam, faded into another new one, If I Could. This tender tune is one that really sticks out on the album, but mostly doesn't do it for me live (see Jones Beach 09). However, on this first take in front of a live audience they nail it.

Buried Alive, The Landlady

Then came the Giant Country Horns, a welcome addition to any show, and the whole crew proceeded to spit fire through these well known tunes. Though the Landlady would be swallowed by PYITE for good shortly, that big band/jazz quality of the tune that i think was lost during the incorporation is something that i hope we get to see again, whether on this song or another.

Breaking out another new song, Julius, the band locks in with the horns and delivers a stellar debut.

Magilla, Split Open and Melt

A slightly revised Magilla came before a fantastic Melt. I love this song with horns. It adds a dimension that we rarely appreciate since for the most part we dive headfirst into some mind numbing "fill the hole" jamming with this song.

Upon dropping their first Wolfman's we can see the very beginnings of funk infused, groove jams. This song was made for it. As well, another great song for horns, I continue to come back to this version time and time again.

After Fishman's glorious rendition of I Wanna Be Like You, yet ANOTHER debut, the band gets back in place for OKP>Suzy. Maybe the best known "combo" of theirs (eh...probably Mike's Groove actually), i guess let's call it a reliable combo, this evening's version does not disappoint.

Hot page solo and of course, the horns.

For the encore, the band treats us to a powerful, if shortish Hood and a Cavern with the older lyrics.

As mentioned earlier, this show followed a pattern of many tour openers of the early years of new debuts, some favorites sprinkled in and here we got the HORNS.

The band continued to tour almost non stop through July familiarizing themselves and the fans with the new songs and bringing the music to a new high. Countless "best of" versions of songs like Stash, DWD, Wolfman's, Maze and Tweezer would be dropped in the coming months.

Legendary shows such as the Beacon Run, the Fox, the Warfield, Red Rocks, and of course, Sugarbush can all trace their beginnings to the Flynn.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Tour Opener #2 - February 13th, 2007 London, England

Set 1: Chalk Dust Torture, Wolfman's Brother, Also Sprach Zarathustra > Stash, Walfredo[1], Taste, Waste, Poor Heart, Character Zero, Peaches en Regalia, Love Me[2], David Bowie

Set 2: Julius, Cars Trucks Buses, My Soul[2], Punch You In the Eye, Slave to the Traffic Light, When the Circus Comes[2], Maze > Rock A William[1], Harry Hood, Frankenstein

Encore: Prince Caspian, Johnny B. Goode

[1] Debut.
[2] Phish debut.

Notes: The European tour opener featured the debuts of and Rock A William and the Phish debuts of Love Me, My Soul, and When the Circus Comes.

Setlist from


Following Halloween in 1996, late fall and new years tours had featured a new emphasis on percussive improvisation that was paying immediate dividends, taking jams in entirely new directions. But no one was prepared for what the next year would bring.

In a stroke of genius, the band heads to Europe soon after their monstrous NYE run for their first headlining tour on the continent. Quickly we learned that these new surroundings would be a launchpad for creativity.

While its clear that many phans made the cross ocean journey, on tape the venues sound pleasantly spacious and the band's sound is raw in a fashion that can't be had in larger coliseums and amphitheaters.

As has been noted in many histories of the band, since the very beginning they have been dedicated to constantly improving their sound and their gear. These Europe shows almost have a sense of deconstruction to them, giving a meatier sound with more depth than the hollow caverns of large venues allow.

The first set of their first intercontinental headliner starts screamin' HOT with Chalkdust, the trusty opener. Tons of energy and a nice Trey solo.

After a short but disgustingly funky Wolfman's, we get our first mini taste of '97 funk. Placed earlier in the show than in later years, 2001 features a short ambient intro, tight funk grooving and a nice extended middle section. Though shorter than many 2001's we would come to know and love this fit perfectly into the flow of the set and kept the already high level of energy going strong.

Straight out of peak of 2001 we land nicely in a powerful version of Stash. The audience is coming through loud and clear on this one and you can really get a feel for how small these venues were compared to what we were used to. After some cool outer realm exploration, Trey brings us back to reality and introduces a new song, Walfredo. Though only played on this tour with one other bust out appearance at Vegas 2000, this is one of a handful of songs written by the entire band together. To top it off, the band also rotates instruments.

A wicked version of Taste mellows into a reflective Waste. I love that either direction.

Poor Heart, Character Zero, Peaches en Regalia, Love Me

Fairy standard versions of classic first set numbers preceded the Phish debut of Love Me (Treat Me Like A Fool), a doo-wop-ey tune, before the familiar clang of the high-hat brought us Bowie.

Always showing up in meaningful shows, this Bowie delivers like many others. We're taken on a few twists and turns before the song peaks flawlessly.

All in all, a nice set. No major signals yet, but its clear that they came to play hard.

Julius, Cars Trucks Buses, My Soul

Always love a Julius opener and this was a great CTB. The debut of My Soul was OK. I'm not a big fan of this song that featured prominently over the last few years of 1.0.

Then they dropped PYITE with a fairly extended opening sequence which led to one of the key moments of this show as it would be a harbinger of what was headed our way.

Seemingly over, the last sounds of PYITE begin to form into an sea of cascading sounds and we have a dark, brooding jam out of nothing. This music was extremely patient.

Perhaps the biggest indicator of a new direction for the band, this was when we began to realize that any tune was ripe for improv at any point.

While unfinished versions of songs like Stash and Fluffhead and extended jams from Tube and Fee are all possible now, this was pretty new at the time.

Literally melting into Slave, we we're treated to a rare mid-set soaring rendition of this classic. Bringing the energy down a little, we were given another debut, a cover which became a late 90's staple When the Circus Comes to Town. Maybe lacking the power of emotion found in later years, this was a well timed break as we geared up for Maze.

Maze is another song that benefited greatly from more percussive playing. Over the next couple of years, this song would be explored to its heights (notably the version on Bittersweet Motel), and this version teased at the possibilities.

Another instrument switch brought us Rock a William, another debut of a Phish penned tune. Though another song that had disappeared from the rotation by the end of '97, the exercise of writing these songs together clearly provided a benefit in terms of communication and ear training.

Once everyone resumed their places, the descending tom beats of Hood filled the room. Always a crowd pleaser, this version was roaring from the start and the beautiful melodies and harmonies of this well orchestrated improv lead us wonderfully higher and higher until we reach the crescendo of the show. And we DO feel good!

A scorching Frankenstein closes the set down. Before leaving, a singing Capsian and the rock and roll standard Johnny B. Goode (played four times on this tour), sent us home.

Following more of a typical pattern for tour opening shows, this one flies under the radar for the most part. Lots of debuts and some inspired jamming, but we all know they were just getting their feet wet.

I think the best thing to take away from this show is the level of creativity and willingness to try anything that permeated the band during this time and was clearly on display.

As the tour progressed we would hear some of the most amazing music our ears ever came upon and one show in particular (3.1.97) that would be shrouded in immortality.

The music created during this Euro Tour was maybe the most powerful display of virtuosity and mastery over their craft that could have ever been imagined and blew new life into music already loved and adored so much.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Tour Opener #1 - September 8th, 2000 Albany, NY

Set 1: Mellow Mood, Limb By Limb, Ghost, Bouncing Around the Room, The Horse > Silent in the Morning, Saw It Again, NICU, Glide, Axilla, Taste, Golgi Apparatus

Set 2: Birds of a Feather, Windora Bug, David Bowie, Back at the Chicken Shack, Bathtub Gin > Jam > Character Zero

Encore: Fire

Download Link

When we think of shows that NEED to make a statement, there are only a handful of shows that come to mind and this is maybe the most memorable.

Perhaps it was just all of being in the right place at the right time, but it seemed as though this entire Fall Tour consumed my life and those around me for its duration. There was class, work, family, friends, boyfriends and girlfriends but through it all, the only thing that mattered was checking the set-lists and trying to get our hands on AUD's through the rudimentary systems setup on the internet at the time.

Before everyone was carrying cell phones and Twittering set-lists, we needed to wait for our friends to leave the show and get home before calling us with their updates.

For all of us, we were waiting to find out how the band was going to approach this last tour.

And our answer came immediately: Mellow Mood. This song captured the moment with such certainty that any doubts that were lingering breezed away. Phish was back on tour, and we should be enjoying it.

Both the title and the lyrics to this old school Marley classic were perfectly placed. Phish was relaxed, they were ready to "play our favorite song" (all of them) and instructed us to "strike the hammer while iron is hot." For me, this was a directive to take advantage of what we're giving you because we're going to leave it all out here and once we step off the stage, we might never come back.

Side Note: This is a moral of seeing Phish that i've taken to heart in 3.0. Think about it for a moment. Each and every night that these guys step off the stage COULD be the last show they ever play and we need to savor it.

The rest of the first set, though light on improv, was a career spanning who's who of standalone cuts. No song, no era was going to be left out on this tour.

Limb by Limb warmed everyone up before oozing into a terrific Ghost. Bouncin' and Horse>Silent led to an energizing Saw it Again before the highlight of the first set for me.

NICU, Glide, Axilla, Taste, Golgi

Moving backwards and forwards through their repertoire, they blazed through these five songs. Though no version of these tunes stands out particularly, all were well played and provided great energy to the crowd.

The real question of the evening had yet to be are the jams gonna be?

A fairly standard Birds they debuted Windora Bug, a forgettable tune from this last tour. Then it got nuts.

This particular Bowie always stands out in my memory. Maybe its my love of this venue, but this is when the HEAT started in this show. There's always that moment in a tour opening show when you can feel the tension release and in my opinion this is where it happened.

After a quick Chicken Shack, the evening's highlight of Bathtub>Character Zero was dropped on us like a megaton bomb, vacuum and all. Really take a listen to this if you haven't heard it, great melodies and lots of fun.

With one last burst of energy, an encore of Fire closed down this evening with perfection.

We heard jams, we heard well timed covers and we heard from a wide variety of the band's repertoire.

The band was practiced and was ready to dust off some oldies, they hadn't lost their touch for amazing improvisation and they were ready to tour across the nation lighting each venue on "fire" as they left.

It wasn't the best set-list, but it was a well composed one and as with any good tour opener, we were left wanting for more.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Discussing Shows w/ @phishshowaday on twitter

Our good friend @phishshowaday on Twitter will be exploring tour opening shows next week and each suggestion will be accompanied by our own thoughts on the show and what it meant for that tour.

As the show most likely to be scripted with little nods to the past and future, tour openers have always held slightly more intrigue than other shows and set the tone for the coming week(s).

As always, if you have any suggestions, please let us know by emailing us at

Fall Tour

And there we have it. A decent sized east coast tour of arenas big and small. The first trip back to MSG since '02 and only the second time since NYE '98. An historic rock venue on its last legs (Cobo) and a tour ending trip to a new southern venue.

Though summer likely busted my wallet for a full tour, I hope to be able to personally visit at least four of these venues (fingers crossed for lottery!).

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Shocked and Persuaded

"So much better I said to myself
And drawing quite close to the top of the shelf
I struggled with destiny upon the ledge
And gasped when defeated he slipped off the edge
And silence contagious in moments like these
Consumed me and strengthened my will to appease
The passion that sparked me one terrible night
And shocked and persuaded my soul to ignite..." - Tom Marshall & Trey Anastasio, "Rift"

How many times have I heard these lyrics? Yet while driving to work today I was reminded once again that no matter where I seem to be in life, I've been perfectly willing to drop anything and rearrange everything for a couple of hours of music, a few nights in a row, anywhere in the world.

With each tour announcement or rumor thereof, it's as if my body gets an electrical "shock" that fires up all of my tour instincts. Where are the shows? How are we gonna get there? Where are we staying? At the moment i feel like i'm waiting for this electrical pulse to hit for fall tour.

A feeling not felt since 04, when in reality i'd already lost a lot of "the feeling," was persuaded to re-emerge last September with the Hampton announcement. Since then, i've been almost giddy, with each show i've seen adding to the need to see more.

This year, my soul has literally been shocked and persuaded to ignite in a way that i wasn't sure would happen again. I'm listening to old shows with a new ear, finding golden moments that i'd never heard before in shows from '93 to '04 and waiting on the edge of my seat for more.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

October 6 & 7 2000, Shoreline

There are only three times in my phistory that i have ever been truly devastated at missing a show, and they all happened in just over a year:

1. Oswego '99 - thanks to EG's crush on a girl who shall not be named my entire crew blew their money on Woodstock that year. They all had a terrible time, came back fighting and many did not speak to each other ever again. I stayed home and enjoyed some Sophie Parker.

2. Big Cypress - continuing my year of phestival disappointments, everyone from my parents to my girlfriend to the girl that shall not be named conspired to make it impossible for EG and I to drive down and experience this one live.

3. Shoreline 2000 - at the time, i truly did not believe that they would play again. As many have noted, at this point they were merely going through the motions. There were so many reasons to go to these shows, but EG and I just couldn't make it happen. Before streaming video, before instant downloads and before movie theater simulcasts we just sat and hit refresh on for two days as the setlists came song by song.

Musically, these shows were mediocre. But to be there for the last notes ever played would have been epic and special. At the height of my pre-professional phandom, only missing out on these shows could have thrown me into the fit of depression and wallow that ensued after Merriweather that year.

Unlike the train wreck that was Coventry, these shows were a happy ending to nearly 20 years of incredible music in a serene setting near the birthplace of improvisational rock and roll.

And i'm still sad to have missed it.

Friday, September 18, 2009

More on JOY

I'm really glad that as fans, we got the chance to hear all of the JOY songs for two tours live before hearing the album, BUT that the album had been recorded before we heard the songs.

Let me explain...

When we have connections to songs through live experiences prior to a song appearing on an album, the studio version is almost always a letdown and overlooked. Though i heard Rift as an album first, then the songs in concert, those songs had mostly become fan favs before the album was released and didn't carry the same energy on disc.

With Hoist, they reversed this trend, saving these songs for album release, then playing live. These songs had a definite starting point and evolved from the album to the live shows.

More personally, i knew all of the Farmhouse songs before the album dropped and though there are terrific versions of some songs (1st Tube, Sand, GBOTT) I was more disappointed with the songs that had lost their luster (Piper, Twist).

In the case of JOY, Phish composed these songs with their ideas, then took them on the road to try them out. Some became hits (Kill Devil Falls), some became jam monsters (Light), some had to be reworked (BDTNL) and some are still snoozers (TTE).

Though many of the album cuts of these songs leave you wanting more, you can hear the urgency of making music that pervades this entire album.

The solos are short, the songs are tight and they wanted to spit this out and move on.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Gorge Wolfman's: I just don't get the love...

Ok...i was there. I saw the amazing glowstick war (other than the AC/DC Bag at Hampton, prob the best of the year). The crowd was going nuts.

But it just doesn't hold up on tape. I listened in the car. I listened while chillin' out. I listened again while cooking dinner one night. It's just not there.

It's a good jam, had some nice peaks, but the crowd energy is what made it cool.

Compared to some of the other jams that weekend, and throughout tour, i'm not sure this makes a top 10.

Oh, why the hell not...In no particular order:

1. Gorge Light>Taste
2. Gorge Gin
3. RR Drowned>C&P>Joy
4. RR Tweezer>BDTNL
5. Gorge Sally>Gorge Jam
6. Merriweather 46 Days>OSN
7. SPAC BDTNL>20 Years Later
8. Darien Drowned>Caspian
9. RR Ghost
10. RR Boogie On (I LOVE the last two mins or so before YEM)

Mike Gordon @ The State Theater

I really had no idea what to expect at this show.

Never been to any of his other side projects, and let's face it, the songs Mike writes tend to be...well...weird.

While these songs were no different, there was a pervasive funkiness, a "mikeness" if you will, throughout the show.

Lot's of grooving, some pretty awful singing (even for these guys), a sick light show and a pretty cool venue all made for an enjoyable night.

Am i paying to go see Gordon solo again soon? No, but i'm glad i went and i hope that a song or two i heard make it into the Phish rotation.

9/12/09 State Theater Falls Church VA

Another Door
Andelmans' Yard
Emotional Railroad
Can't Stand Still
Ain't Wasting Time No More* >
La La La*
Couch Lady >
15 Step
Only A Dream

Sugar Shack
Taking It To The Streets

Show Notes:

* Allman Bros cover, Reid Genauer on guitar & vocals
^ Craig Myers original

Friday, September 11, 2009

Joy Review

This is going to be a short one since i actually got most of my thoughts out yesterday.

There are only a few songs worth the time on this disc:

Backwards Down the Number Line
Sugar Shack

BDTNL, as i've already mentioned, is THE 3.0 anthem. Trey is giddy every time he sings it and lately it has evolved into a jam monster. You can hear the pure energy on this track of the four of them back in the studio together and its noticeable that Lillywhite had very little to alter off this first take.

Mike's Sugar Shack is def one of my fav new songs and is probably the "phishiest" of the tracks. Great vibe and it comes across well live. No major jamming from it yet, but i'm looking forward to its evolution.

I first heard Light at Gorge and was privileged to hear the calypso jamming out of this one. While the body of the song doesn't really have any umph, the ambient intro is maybe the only piece of music i hadn't heard before this came out. Could be wrong, but i think the next studio album will have much more of this type of lead in. Phish's songs have always had intros and outros that are as much a part of the tune as the chorus or verse (2001, DWD, Axilla, Bowie).

Beyond those three there's not much i'm going to listen to again on here. I had to skip through Time Turns Elastic after 7 minutes and the other new songs just don't do it for me.

So there you have it. I'll give this a B, if only because BDTNL is so fucking awesome and if i hadn't played with someone for four years and made an album i have no idea what i would have to go through.

This crop of Trey songs rightfully dwell on his troubles and i'm very much looking forward to some new songs with a "phishier" disposition.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Joy Review - Initial Thoughts

I know i'm tardy on my late summer reviews, but I'm still digesting. For now, just keep listening to RR and Gorge on loop.

In the meantime, I've begun listening to JOY and though I'm only about halfway in, i think there are a few things worth mentioning.

"I've got memories..."

I can vividly remember waiting for the release dates of Billy Breathes, Story of the Ghost, and Farmhouse. As we all know, studio albums are not this bands forte, but each album gives us a peek into where the band's mind is at during the recording sessions.

The "growing up" of Billy Breathes had no relation to the sheer funk of Ghost and Farmhouse was pretty much a happy medium of trancey soundscapes and adult rockers and ballads.

I skipped Round Room and Undermind. I have never listened to either as part of my 02-04 (except Nassau and IT) didn't happen mantra. Some of the songs i enjoy live, but these albums have always seemed haphazard and lacking to me.

"This time's gonna be different..."

While i firmly believe Backwards Down the Number Line is the 3.0 anthem, Kill Devil Falls has surely become a quick fan fav with its infectious lyrics, driving rhythms and optimistic viewpoint. In short, its a rager with monster potential.

The central line of this song appears to me as an open ended question. Most certainly THIS time, meaning 3.0, has been different. Much better than the aborted 2.0.

More than ever, this band is speaking to us in the album, directly to the fans and to themselves. Nostalgia is high with a tip of the hat to the past and a giant leap towards the future.

This album is by no means great, and i can tell you that without listening to the whole thing. But after a summer of hearing these songs evolve, its cool to hear what they sounded like before they hit the stage. Like any album, many of these songs will be put on the back bench, while some with be thrust into the permanent rotation. Some will be reworked and have second lives and others will be barely heard from again.

Full song by song analysis coming...likely late as always.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Mr. Miner Nails it Again

Best Set of Summer

With all the love for 8/1 I've heard around i was pleasantly delighted to see this.

As if we were both riding the same wave for 6 shows straight, Mr. Miner AGAIN comes out with this terrific review that melds perfectly with my own thoughts.

I will never forget some moments from this show, moments which are burned into my memory like the opening notes of Mike's on 4/3/98 and the "we love to take a bath" from 7/3/00.

1. A truly mind numbing Melt in the pouring rain
2. The Drowned 2nd set was perfect.
3. The C&P transition. It literally smacked you in the face as hard as the rain had just a little while earlier, but with a much softer landing.

I think in the end, it all comes down to what are you going to pop in and listen to 5 years from now?

This set will absolutely be high on the list.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Best Night Of Tour

As soon as the last note was played there was no question in my mind that 8/7/09 was one of the greatest Phish shows of all time, and likely the only show this year that could fall into that category.

I've listened right up until the Sally vocal jam which is where things really take off, and i keep hesitating to put it back on.

Will it be as good as i remember? Was the atmosphere so great that it felt like a great show?

The day after the show while waiting in line for Pollocks i got some confirmation in the form of someone i likely know from my biscuits years but couldn't quite place who had "been to 238" shows and called the first night of Gorge "in the top 30."

That's saying something...i guess...

But was it? Are we even comparing 1.0 to 3.0? Pop in a show from 97 and its a different band playing. The songs are the same, but the energy is different. The sound is different.

Many people are claiming 09 is the "best" Phish ever. Clearly they are misinformed, because the best Phish ever happened when they were at their best...91, 94, 97/98, early 2000.

The question really is, should 09 be added to that list of great years? Will we be looking back 2 years from now saying that this summer run was legendary, or will the vast improvement the band has made since Hampton continue? Will a possible NYE run blow this out of the water? Festival 8?

I like 3.0. I think the shows are interesting, full of energy (different on each coast, but still energy), and getting more and more creative by the minute.

The fact that we had a show like the first night of Gorge only increases the likelihood that we will get more shows on this level and THAT is why people keep coming back for more and more and more...

Part of me really wished that they sucked, so i could go back to my 04-08 vacuum cleaner mentality to music and believe that Phish was done and creative music would have to come from somewhere else.

But as you can read below, the third night of Hampton hooked me again, and it wasn't even that good compared to what we've heard since.

I am definitely approaching a moment when i will no longer be lucky enough to have the time or funds to travel extensively in search of a great show.

But it's never going to stop, BECAUSE of shows like the first night of Gorge.

So without actually completing a relisten, i will agree with Mr. Miner, and flatly state that this was the best show of tour.

Miner's flowery language is a bit more than i would use, but its the right idea.

This show had everything i wanted from a phish show when i was still awed by large coliseums and vast amphitheater lawns. Much like 4/3/98 felt, a great show unfolds slowly and can peak at any moment. When they opened with Disease after just playing it at Shoreline i knew something was up. It felt loose and fun. And that's how i remember shows.

The anxiousness that I'd felt at every show since Hampton was finally removed after this one. They COULD play a complete knockout show from top to bottom, and looking back, it was a huge relief when they did.

The proverbial dam that was holding back any creativity broke open that night and the water continued pouring through during the rest of tour.

But i think anyone who listens to this show, especially anyone who was there, will consider this a watershed moment of this tour, and of this year (so far). I don't think Darien's Drowned>Caspian, MPP's 46 Days>Oh Sweet Nuttin and SPAC's BDTNL>20 Years Later can occur without the variety of improvisation we heard at the Gorge. It had to happen, there had to be a show where they worked and worked and worked at getting that unbelievable connection back.

I will stop typing very soon, but for me, THE moment of the show is the calypso jam where they add vocals. Some will recognize that adding vocals to an amazing piece of improvisation is an old school Phish occurrence that we haven't really heard in later years.

But when they started singing together, pretty much out of nowhere, it felt like someone had flicked a switch. I'm probably mangling it, but there's a Gordon quote somewhere about the music coming from the center of his body (like a care bear, my visual addition) and blasting out into the crowd.

And that's what it felt like. It was as if the four guys on stage all held up their power rings or something and captain planet came down from the sky.

Everything was moving in one perfect motion and they sang in JOY at a feeling they'd likely forgot was possible to achieve. It was the musical equivalent of standing on top of a mountain and banging on your chest and roaring at the top of your lungs.

Miner's Review

Thursday, August 20, 2009

20 Years Later

Anyone else get the feeling this is a Zeppelin rip-off?

Songs I'll have to wait for Fall/New Years For...

Here was the list before Late Summer with what i heard crossed out:

Boogie On Reggae Woman
Ya Mar
A Song I Heard the Ocean Sing
Gotta Jibboo
The Wedge

Songs i did hear that were a pleasant surprise:

The Sloth (First!)
Strange Design
Ha Ha Ha
Mango Song
Sneakin' Sally (First!)
Roses are Free (First for me since 4/3/98 i believe)
Sleeping Monkey (First for me since 6/30/00)
Cross-eyed and Painless (First!)

Segues continued...

After tapping out yesterday's post i stumbled upon this, from, which would have been great 15 years ago...

The Use of Segues

For the purposes of this file, there are two different segue notations: "->" and ">." The former refers to an actual segue, or when one song jams fluently and without interruption into another; the latter is used when:

    1) One song stops and another immediately starts but there is no fluent jamming between songs;
    2) One or more band members begin a new song as the previous song is still ending and there is no transition;
    3) Two songs are played that are usually played together but do not actually segue (for example, Mike's Song > I am Hydrogen > Weekapaug Groove or The Horse > Silent in the Morning); or
    4) A song that is typically a "lead-in" song is played (for example, The Oh Kee Pa Ceremony or Buried Alive).

Sometimes, the difference between a ">" and a "->" seems arbitrary or a matter of opinion. For this reason, we considered only using segue notations for actual jam segues (example number one above). Two arguments, though, convinced us that we should list both.

First, on many tapes (especially older, pre-1992 tapes), traders have traditionally noted segues without distinguishing between the two types. However, differentiating fluid, improvisational transitions (ie, the "->" symbol) – which are often among the highlights of a show – from routine transitions (the ">" symbol) gives fans a true feel for what was played and ably communicates the significance of a transition. Second, demarcating routine ">" segues from improvisational "->" segues aids tape traders in determining tape flips. No harm occurs in breaking up an uneventful, purely routine transition between songs. But an improvisational segue should never be carried over from side A to side B of a tape, lest the integrity of the segue be destroyed.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

> vs. ->

Back in the day, when we still traded tapes and getting your hands on a show didn't mean waiting until 2 hours after it finished and downloading it, i remember many heated discussions about what the proper way to signify a segue on a j-card was.

I know you clicked that link because you have no idea what a j-card is.

I am of the opinion, and this likely has something to do with my years spent following the Disco Biscuits, that a true segue has or does not have some very specific features.

In order for something to count as a segue, the band cannot stop playing. Period. Jams out of songs that end in an ambient fade away to SILENCE must be followed by a COMMA on setlists to signify that the song ended before the next song started.

Should another song grow out of the ambient fade or a band member start a new song before completely fading out then it is a segue.

Now that we've got that out of the way, let's move on to > vs. ->.

To say that a band "jammed into that song," there needs to be a clear moment when the improvisation morphed into the new song. For me, this is notated with ">" because there was nothing between the two songs. One literally melded into the other.

The best example of this on the recent tour would be the Drowned>C&P transition from Red Rocks. There is a clear moment when the band drops into C&P seamlessly from the Drowned Jam.

Most of the jams on tour however, are of the "->" variety, meaning that the jams petered out and another song was picked up without the sound stopping.

The reason i bring this up is because Drowned>C&P is not the best jam of anything. It is however the best TRANSITION and SEGUE we've heard this year.

Best of Late Summer

Instead of my approach of attempting to digest entire shows like last tour, i'm going to attack this one differently.

There are some generally accepted best moments of tour that are emerging and i'll be going through them all to figure out what we really heard (it was massively different than the first leg of tour) and maybe call some "best of's." We'll see.

Here's the list as it stands now from my own recollection (shaky at best) and online chatter (hallucinatory at best):

7/30 Red Rocks


7/31 Red Rocks


8/1 Red Rocks

First Tube

8/2 Red Rocks

Boogie On>YEM

8/5 Shoreline


8/7 Gorge

Sneakin' Sally

8/8 Gorge

Ya Mar
Rock and Roll>Makisupa

8/11 Chicago


8/13 Darien


8/14 Hartford

Forbin's>Mockingbird (Duh)

8/15 Merriweather

46 Days>Oh Sweet Nuttin', Hood

8/16 SPAC

BDTNL>20 Years Later

After typing this list out i just realized how prophetic i may have been after Hampton suggesting that BDTNL would become a monster. It's the launchpad for three jams on here as well as the conclusion of one.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Great Merriweather Review

Review: Phish @ Merriweather Post Pavilion

Lots i agree with, and some really good pics.

Merriweather Initial Thoughts

To begin, this was one of the best times I've had at a show. It's not often that i get to bring a dozen friends with me including many who were at their first show. We had a blast in the lot playing hippie drinking games (notably Amy, Dylan and Carolyn), managed to get everyone into the Pavilion where you could actually see and just had an all around great show.

It was a wonderful way to end summer tour back on the east coast with a hometown show with friends.

Merriweather as a venue pretty much sucks. The sound is damn near awful, the lawn has no line of sight to the stage and the bathrooms aren't big enough to handle a sold out crowd.

On the plus side there was ZERO security going in and they sell the biggest/cheapest draft beers i've seen on tour.

The show was...well...likely the worst i've seen this year barring the 46 Days>Oh Sweet Nuttin, Hood, which was epic. Great encore as well, but i feel like good encores have been saving shows recently, rather than topping them off.

Best Hood of 09. And i rarely say things like that.

The Tweezer>Taste was nice, but how can you kill a set with Alaska AND Let Me Lie?!?!?!? Especially after the painfully dull Time Turns Elastic to close set one...

Party Time was cool, and i hope it turns into a second set jam out of monsters like Tweezer, Ghost, Disease and belongs in the middle of long type 2 jam sections that almost get lost for a second. It has the potential to be a crutch, but to also have Meatstick like longevity out of a tounge in cheek song.

All in all a decent show, and a nice end to a great summer run.

Friday, August 14, 2009

West Coast Highlights

Gorge Night 1 (Sally Jam, Light, Bathtub)
Red Rocks Night 2 Set 2 (Drowned>C&P>Joy, Tweezer, Piper>ADITL)
Red Rocks Night 1 Set 1 (D. Sky, Stash)
Red Rocks Night 3 Set 2 (R&R>Disease>Free)
Red Rocks Nigh 4 Set 2 (Boogie On>YEM & Billy)

Summer Tour Recaps

If this wasn't a blog I'd be speechless.

Between the grandeur and greatness of two of the most incredible venues in the nation, some amazing moments of music, and seeing shows with old friends and new it's hard to conjure up enough words to write intelligently about any of it, but i will try.

The most popular question I've received is definitely "Red Rocks v. Gorge?"

There's no comparison.

Red Rocks is a drive in/out 9000 person natural amphitheater with scattered parking lots. The views from anywhere are amazing, there is no bad seat in the house (though you better be prepared to hike to it) and the sound is unbelievable. If you weren't staring at giant rocks and the lights of Denver in the distance with the moon rising behind you it would be hard to distinguish the sound from an indoor arena.

The Gorge, is, well...Gorge-eous. Sorry, i had to. Look at the f-in' pics!

It's a giant campground with a general store and SICK all GA venue. The view is expansive, the sun mellows behind the ridge just as the show starts, no large screens or anything and an extremely pleasant breeze blows through the entire show.

My only issue is the sharp incline of the lawn which made it easy to tumble or be tumbled on.

The two venues couldn't be more different and each pleasing in their own ways.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Saturday, August 1, 2009



Not many lots with this view

First sunny day pic!

Night two view

Pic from the lot

Red rocks july 31

Time turns elastic
Lawn boy
Water in the sky (fast)
Stealing time from the faulty plan

Crosseyed and painless
Backwards down the number line
A day in the life


Friday, July 31, 2009

Red Rocks July 30

*denotes highlight

Set one

D sky
Poor heart
Moma dance
The horse
Silent in the morning

Set two

Limb by limb
Billy breathes
Squirming coil


Loving cup

Set one was tighter. Trey on fire!

Set two had good exploration. Some flubs but nothing awful.

Venue is incredible. Will continue to post pics.

Live setlist updates on twitter.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Heading Back on Tour

Here we go again.

This year has really been a greatest hits of the people i love seeing Phish with most. Beth for Hampton, Ev and Wurtz for JB...and now Tina! Unbelievable. Never thought i'd be doing this stuff again.

I will post complete setlists here after the shows. Follow @darcphader on twitter for song by song updates live from Red Rocks, Gorge and Merriweather.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Songs I'll have to wait for Late Summer For...

After 3 Hamptons, 2 Jones Beach and the 'Burgh i'm still waiting for:

Boogie On Reggae Woman
Ya Mar
A Song I Heard the Ocean Sing
Gotta Jibboo
The Wedge

Monday, July 6, 2009

Review - Pittsburgh 6/18/09

So pretty much every minute of my time EXCEPT for actually being at the show has been accounted for on here as i take my sweet ass time listening to and digesting the shows.

I've previously noted that i really enjoyed the lot scene and thought that the venue was great. The inside crowd was eh..., but we had some good friends to hang with.

06/18/09 Post Gazette Pavilion, Burgettstown, PA
Set I: Golgi Apparatus, Chalkdust Torture, Bouncing Around the Room, Wolfman's Brother, The Divided Sky, Heavy Things, Walk Away1, Wilson, Tube, Alaska, David Bowie
Set II: Down With Disease> Free, Guyute, Piper> When the Circus Comes to Town, Harry Hood, The Squirming Coil, You Enjoy Myself
Encore: Grind, Hello My Baby2, HYHU> Bike3> HYHU, Loving Cup

1 Last Played 10/5/2000 (80 Shows)
2 incomplete; there were two false starts; after the first, Trey said that if they messed up again, Fish would sing Bike
3 Last Played 9/12/2000 (95 Shows); Fishman banter included him saying "welcome to the trainwreck portion of the show"

Love the Golgi opener, nice way to start things off. The Chalkdust and Bouncin were standard warmups. Wolfman's was pretty good and started to go places.

Nothing for a while is going to top the D. Sky at JBII, so this one was just OK for me.

I can give or take Heavy Things, but Trey's soloing was good.

BUST OUT! Walk Away! Not sure many people in the crowd knew this one and it took me a minute to figure it out. Great placement and great tune.

Duh duh...Duh duh.

All: "Wiiiiiiilllson!"
CR: "Is everyone shouting? What are they saying?"
All: "Wiiiiiiilllson!"
CR: "What?!??! The volleyball?"
Amy: "No, Wilson, he's a bad man."
CR: "Ok...i'll take your word for it."

Here are your answers CR: Gamehenge

We can discuss further after spending some time in the garden. I've also got a copy of TMWSIY we can listen to.

Good Wilson, and the set started to pick up steam here. As i've previously posted, this TUBE is incredible.

Many have been talking about it as "jam of the tour." i'm not quite there yet (see Camden: Sand, Tweezer; Deer Creek: ASIHTOS>Drowned) and i still have to listen to Alpine, but it was SICK!

Funkalicous Page throughout, and the slide/bends that Trey is doing are just insane. No human should be able to move their fingers like that.

I heard Alaska before this show and haven't really thought to much about it since. It's fine. It will probably grow on me a little bit, but just like many of the new songs, there seems to be little room for exploration. Fine songs but i just don't see the potential as anything other than first set filler.

Side Post:

New Song that i like the most: Stealing Time from the Faulty Plan

I can't even count how long i've been walking around singing "Gotta blank space where my mind should be...i've got memories! i've got memories! i've got memories...memories of being FREE!

New Song that i will reluctantly look forward to: Kill Devil Falls

Unimpressed doesn't describe how i felt at Jones Beach when i heard this the first time, but after hearing the version from 'Roo i get the feeling this one could be a jam monster.

New Song that will never quite grab me: Time Turns Elastic

I'm all for the long composed Trey songs but this one feels slapped together. The sentiment is beautiful, but the execution i feel is lacking. its too herky jerky for me. Every time i turn it on i want to get into it, but it just never happens.

Back to the show...

Now Bowie...Fish suggested that the encore was the train wreck portion of the show. I disagree.

The first set was rounding out, we'd just had some massive energy give way to a bathroom break for most people and all were headed back at the sound of Fish's high hat.

I was one of those people as i literally dragged Amy back over the lawn "hill" and into the crowd so we could be there for the opening Bowie notes.

The composed section was going beautifully and then right before the jam, Trey lost his place and couldn't get back. Disappointing, and more of a train wreck than some 40 somethings trying to sing acapella later in the night.

In fact, upon listening again, the composed sections of many songs were butchered in this show.

The jam was great, but damage was done. the electricity was gone for the moment.

NOTE: This review will remain unfinished. Everything I heard at Red Rocks and Gorge, even the "ok" parts, was far superior to anything on the first leg of tour.

I had a great time in Pittsburgh and look forward to going back.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

So Stupendous!

Just listen to Tube from Pittsburgh. Do it. Right NOW!

Friday, June 26, 2009

Audio Review: Manchester TN 6.14.09

So I've never gone to 'Roo and never even considered it save for the few times i've debated going down to work with a few friends in exchange for free tix and hotel.

I love festivals and all, but there's just something about THAT many people which makes it seem pretty unappealing to be there. I've always trended more toward the smaller (cheaper) festivals. Not to mention that since they un-jammed the festival the scene has gotten strange.

Regardless, it was pretty cool for Phish to be playing, let alone twice in one weekend.

Both set lists looked solid, but i had to listen to this one first.

06/14/2009 Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival, Manchester, TN
1: AC/DC Bag > NICU, Gotta Jiboo, Punch You in the Eye > Sparkle > Bathtub Gin, Character Zero > Tweezer* > The Horse > Silent in the Morning, Run Like an Antelope, Mustang Sally^, Bobby Jean^** > Glory Days^**

2: Rock & Roll^^ > Light > 46 Days, Limb by Limb, Farmhouse, Backwards Down the Number Line > Prince Caspain, First Tube

E: Suzy Greenberg > Tweezer Reprise

While no one seems to be talking about this as one of the best shows musically, i think the energy is hard to beat at any other show this year (sans Hampton...nothing beats Hampton.)

The first set is HOT. Great Bag>NICU. Decent Jiboo jam, but this used to be a freaking launchpad for craziness.

They nailed PYITE, which seems like its getting more slots in the rotation than in past years. Not that i'm complaining...

I hate Sparkle...I know people that started listening to Phish based on this song, yet its the ONE song that irritates me like no other. Can't explain it.

Good Gin with some really nice moments in the jam. A wankish Char Zero (i'm bored of this song) led into a real surpise...a mid first set TWEEZER! Yes, i will step into the freezer.

I thought the jam petered out beautiflly into the Horse>SITM. Hampton Silent was better executed i thought. Good Antelope and then the BOSS.

Mustang Sally was really good and as i was listening to the Bruce songs i thought, "Wow, they sound really tight..." Then i remembered that they all grew up in New Jersey and the first songs they ever learned how to play were Bruce songs. Glory Days was fitting.

Second set was pretty high energy, but i didn't get blown away. I'm getting the feeling this was one of those "had to be there" shows.

Rock and Roll is getting alot of rotation, but we're not seeing the monster improvisations. this one was very good though. I enjoy Light (new song) and i'm actually looking forward to the album this summer. NOT a fan of Round Room or Undermind, though some of those songs became nice jam vehicles.

Everyting else was fairly standard. I thought the first tube was a bit flubbed, but the encore was great! Suzy and Tweeprise to close out 'roo.

Seemed like a great show to be at, but sounded pretty average on tape. Who knows, maybe i'll change my mind ala Knoxville.

Pittsburgh Food Review: Primanti Brothers

By now, i'm sure you've either seen Primanti Brothers on the travel channel, suggested to President Obama on the Daily Show or somewhere else.

It's the place with the giant sandwiches piled high with french fries and coleslaw.

After the show we were HUNGRY and opted to drive about 45 minutes out of our way to sample the wares of this famous establishment.

It was exactly what i was expecting. We walked in to a small crowd and found some seats easily. Unable to put three brains together and figure out an order we opted to just get a few standby's and share it all. We ended up with Turkey, Corned Beef and Roast Beef.


While the fries were soggy and pretty bland, the coleslaw provided lots of flavor and crunch. The meats were top quality and the bread was solid, if pedestrian.

I can definitely see why this is a must hit landmark for all visitors to the 'burgh and a mandatory late night stop (open 24 hrs) for the boozers, but this is NOT something you can eat on a regular basis.

I hear the breakfast is really good as are the other more creative sandwiches.


Turkey: B+
Roast Beef: B- (meat wasn't very rare and made it dryish)
Corned Beef - B+ (not my style of corned beef, but still very good)

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Ahhhhh Page

One of the most widely spread comments after Hampton was how great it was to have Page turned up in the mix. Page was on fire (see reviews below).

The sound at Hampton was like nothing I'd ever heard before. So clean and crisp and each band member was perfectly audible.

This has not been the case over the summer, where sometimes i can barely hear Gordon and Page has definitely been turned down and Trey has been louder than he needs to be on many occasions.

Also, what's up with the short Squirming Coil endings?

One of the most beautiful moments from many shows has been the set ending Coil soloing. The interplay with the three instrumentalists fading slowly to a wonderfully improvised Grand Piano outro has been a career long highlight and i sometimes feel as if its just getting cut short now.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Pittsburgh Food Review: The O

Hot Dogs. Lots and lots of hot dogs. And fries!

I don't think CR ever wavered in her decision to bring us first and foremost to this piece of Pittsburgh history.

The place is built almost like three different restaurants.

When you first walk in you're presented with a wall of hot dog choices. and ONLY hot dog choices. Beef or mixed? I choose beef (kosher). The toppings are too many to discuss, but i went with spicy brown mustard and chopped yellow onions. Classic.

We will save the discussion of whether or not ketchup deserves to be on a hot dog if you're over the age of 7 another time, but the Mrs. insists on this huhribble treatment of dogs.

But while the dogs were great, every 'burgher knows why you go to "The O."

The fries.

We got a medium, which took up most of a cafeteria style tray. The fries were STUPENDOUS!!!

And best of all, they came with cheese sauce (excellent) and gravy (good, but not the best overall cheese fries with gravy I've ever had...).

Over at the fry station you could also get anything other than a hot dog...fried fish or chicken, burgers, etc.

When we sat down to gorge ourselves, i noticed that there was also a pizza making station. Insane.

And what a beer selection...just amazing.


Hot Dog: A
Fries: A+