Six shows into the fall tour, and Phish seems to be having a blast. The band has diversified their song choice and their musical approach. Finding their indoor groove, the band enters Albany with a head of steam. This will be their 4th 2-day stand, and 10th time playing at the Times Union Center, commonly remembered as the Pepsi center to fans (or Knickerbocker Arena, “The Knick”, to real veterans).
If history proves to be any indication, we should be in for quite the party, with songs like “2001″ being the most common played song in this venue. If you need something to pump you up for these shows, take a listen to the “Stash”, “Ghost” and “YEM” from the 2-night stand in ’99 (which we wrote about in our article “A Last Stand”).
The Knick also served as the home to the Dead’s live release “Dozin’ at the Knick”, commonly referred to as ‘Dosin’ at the Knick”. The first night of the two night run saw a wild second set that featured one of the best later versions of “PITB”. Check it out here.
As Phish returns to another familiar venue tonight, we are surely in store for some special moments. Now that the band has regained the feel of playing indoors, and have become more comfortable with their more challenging numbers, it is likely we will see some new songs debuted in the coming shows. See you all in Albany! Safe travels.
Last night Phish threw down a far more tame show than the night prior. With half the tour behind us, there is still so much to look forward to. Travel safe heading to Albany, we will see you there.
Here’s the link for last night’s show, the second night at the Wachovia Center in Philadelphia.
Set 1: Kill Devil Falls, 46 Days, Sugar Shack, Halley’s Comet, The Divided Sky, Sleep Again, Ocelot, Train Song, Wilson, Run Like an Antelope
Set 2: Birds of a Feather, Farmhouse, Tweezer, You Enjoy Myself, Esther, Time Turns Elastic, Tweezer Reprise
Encore: Oh! Sweet Nuthin’
Sorry for the lack of updates, I’ve been extremely busy lately with tour and work and all. I will be back to posting regular articles hopefully later this week.
Here’s the download for last night’s show from the Wachovia Center in Phili.
Set 1: 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
Set 2: Possum > Down with Disease > Twenty Years Later > Harry Hood, The Mango Song > Mike’s Song > Simple > Slave to the Traffic Light > Weekapaug Groove
Encore: A Day in the Life
Those in attendance at last nights show in Cincinnati were treated to a night packed with special moments. Te show followed in the tradition of the many shows Phish has played in the venue before. From start to finish, every note was well played – nothing seemed out of place. I wouldn’t have traded a single song for any other. Last night was perfect.
Traveling today is fairly hectic, so I will just say a few things before I continue on my journey. From the moment the lights dropped and the “Wilson” chants began the energy inside The Crown, now known as the US Bank Arena, was overwhelming. The band took no time to tap into the crowds’ intense vibe, and the result was evident in their playing. “Wolfman’s” brought out some early funk that continued to push the band’s percussive jamming style. As we had expected, “Torn and Freyed” was plucked from the Halloween set, and made for a great moment. The song is destined to go even further as the tour progresses, and personally, we can’t wait. Phish continued to treat us throughout the set, busting-out rarities “Albuqurque” and “Ginseng Sullivan”, both of which were flawlessly played, and exhibited the band’s often overlooked singing abilities.
The first set “Melt” lead to one of the best jams of the night, and of the year for that matter. As the band continues to push one of their most challenging songs further toward the Cosmos, the improvements in their musical abilities, have become increasingly evident. The version from 8 saw Trey lock into a dissonant melody that evolved into some heavy shredding. Last night’s version followed a similar path, and with a fully-equal parted effort, the band managed to carve out one of the most special moments since the reunion. This energetic improv reappeared again in “Antelope”, which was another highlight of the night. And, surprising to many, we hadn’t even reached the second set.
The second set reached some incredible high points, carrying over the vibe from the first set. “Rock & Roll > Ghost > If I could” was the obvious highlight, however, the entire set was exceptional. Trey filled the arena with some heavy lead work, and he couldn’t have looked happier doing it. Page was noticeably on all night, and his solo on “Coil” showed us how he can effortlessly craft a piece of pure beauty from thin air.
Time is running out. The journey continues.
See you in Syracuse. Travel safe.
On a cool, rainy night in the Motor city, Phish opened their fall tour with a show that hinted at what will come as the tour progresses. Phish got started with some standard rock, bringing Cobo Arena back to its roots, one last time.
The first set flowed like one from a past era, sprinkled with new songs to add an original flavor. The setlist was surprising, and carried the night into a more of a rock-concert feel than a Phish show. However, certain moments saw a combination of the two which made for a perfect tour starter. “Sample in a Jar” heard Trey deliver one of his best standard rock solos this year, as he shed some of his edgy tone, and at the same time, brought back licks we have not heard in years. So many Phish fans have negative feelings for anything that isn’t wildly outside jamming, but this “Sample” reminded us how great, and diverse, Phish’s musical catalog is. Such a simple song, when played well, can have an incredibly powerful impact. “Kill Devil Falls” picked up on this vibe, carrying into an extended jam that continued to heat things up inside Cobo. “It’s Ice” came as a very welcome treat, and was executed fairly well. “Ice” is far better suited for arena shows, and as the tour progresses, will hopefully make a dive toward the depths it saw this year at Hampton.
“46 Days” was one of the highlights of the night, as the band took the song into a deep, percussive groove. Page initiated an ascending pattern that has been present in many jams in ’09, and Trey quickly latched on, syncopating his notes amongst the rest. As the song risked being dragged into an extended guitar solo, Trey kicked back into the chorus to add some additional power to the song. Upon reentering the jam, the band diverged into a syncopated layer of crawling funk-filled notes that brought the show to a new level. Coupled with Kuroda’s psychedelic light show, Cobo Arena came to life, as legend had told. “Bowie” closed the set, as expected, and though we hoped to see it reach into its potential depths, it only hinted at greatness before coming to a close.
The second set saw the first dark “Disease” of the year, showcasing the band’s tight new form, and unimpeded new direction. The jam flowed perfectly into “Free”, another ultimate arena rocker. Trey, who in the past has referred to his guitar pedals as his “safety mechanisms” has slowly been using them less in his playing (has anyone else noticed?) as he becomes more comfortable and confident leading his old band.
Distortion pedals and effect pedals allow guitarists a certain forgiveness that Chet Atkins described quite elegantly. Known for playing in his high school bathroom to achieve a natural reverb, Chet simply said when asked about it, “it just made me sound better than I really was”. In March, and much of the summer, Trey’s sound was dominated by his effect-laden tone, with heavy use of his new favorite toy, the digitech wham II. After 8, as a natural energy took over, and Trey no longer required his safety cushions to falls back on, we saw him slowly return to a cleaner, less effect-heavy style of playing. Last night followed in this new development, as we heard him incorporate a greater use of his licks from the ’98-’99 era.
The set featured an interesting mix of slow and fast tempos, laying the set out in a spontaneous way that all come together by the end. With two slow songs in the second set, I know people will be talking, but the spontaneity is what counts. Going into a Phish show, knowing what is going to happen, is my greatest nightmare. Last night proved contrary, with high and low points of many different kinds. On the first night of the tour, the band delivered a classic rock performance in a classic rock venue peppered with some of their own improvisational force. Almost every note was well played, and there is no doubt the energy has carried over from 8.
This weekend, as the band returns to another storied venue, this time one familiar to the band and their fans, we can only go upward in terms of quality. That has been the trend since Hampton, with every step of the way getting better and better. This weekend will be a significant time, the first two-night stand, in a place that holds a very strong Phishiness.
See you in Cincinnati…
Set 1: AC/DC Bag, Foam, Stealing Time From the Faulty Plan, Bouncing Around the Room, Sample in a Jar, Kill Devil Falls, It’s Ice, Horn, Mountains in the Mist, Poor Heart, 46 Days, David Bowie
Set 2: Runaway Jim, Down with Disease > Free, Waste, Taste, Bug, Wading in the Velvet Sea, Mike’s Song > I Am Hydrogen > Weekapaug Groove, Cavern
Encore: Character Zero
We all know about Detroit’s legendary status as one of the greatest music cities of all time. There is no doubting the inherent musical magic that takes place in the unsuspecting motor city. The birthplace of Motown, and home of an endless list of music greats, Detroit carries a deep passion for music that has existed for many years. Tomorrow night, Phish will open their fall tour in Detroit, returning for the first time since ’99, where they delivered one of the best shows on their late fall tour. Tour openers have historically been packed with new songs, and we can be sure the band is eager to try out a few of their new tunes
In the past, when Phish has graced the city with its presence, they seem to have fed into the city’s energy, leaving us with some unforgettable performances. Whether it be the “Tweezer”, and the rest of the second set from 12.6.97 or the “Gin>2001″ or “YEM” from 12.2.99, there is no doubt the city has a strong vibe present. And not only Phish has experienced it.
For the first time tomorrow night, Phish will enter the walls of Cobo Arena, a venue that has housed many legendary performances by numerous artists. The venue holds a high status in Detroit Rock City, and as Phish continues to cement their new rock form, what better place to kick off the tour than one of the ultimate houses of rock – Cobo Arena. The former home to the Pistons will end its glory with Phish, the last scheduled act to perform at the venue, capping off its journey through rock history.
On August 17 1976, Yes rolled into Detroit on their Relayer Tour, a tour that saw the band push experimental music to all new levels. As they took the stage at Cobo that night, with one of their signature psychedelic backdrops, the band let loose, performing a show that would be remembered for all time to come. Released on a rare live recording appropriately titled The Gates of Delirium after a song by the same name, as well as on their compilation Yessongs, the band pushed their psychedelic compositions to the brink on that night. One of our contributors was in attendance and remembers the show as being a psychedelic exploration for the ages. Check it out for yourself below, the recording is a testament to the band’s level of performance on that night. To my fellow Steve Howe and Bill Bruford fans – strap in for this one.
“The Gates of Delirium” 8.17.76
Cobo continued to host magical shows throughout the 70′s including two epic performances by the Grateful Dead. On October 3rd, 1976 (click here for the show), the Dead took the stage at Cobo Arena playing a second set that saw the band click with a noticeable energy throughout. The second set of “PITB>Drums>The Wheel>Jam>Good Lovin’>Jam>Comes a Time>Dancin’>Not Fade Away>Dancin’”, pretty much speaks for itself. The jams are tight, and the band plays with a responsiveness to one another only heard on nights such as these. Every song is a highlight, and the first set “Scarlet Begonias” is nothing to overlook either. The Dead returned again on 11.1.77 (click here for the show) playing another epic second set. This time boasting another heavy setlist composed of “Terrapin Station>Estimated>Other One>Drums>Wharf Rat>Truckin’>Around and Around”. Again, the setlists speaks for itself.
“The Wheel>Jam” 10.3.76
Cobo Arena has been the home to many more live albums and great shows, leading us to understand why the band chose the storied venue before it gets torn down later this year. Madonna, Kiss, Bob Seger, The Tragically Hip, Journey, Yes, Kid Rock, and The Doors have all released live albums of performances at Cobo Arena. Jimi Hendrix performed a memorable show at Cobo on May 2nd 1969, which was said to have been one of his most “jammy” shows of his career (hmm..). Those who have seen concerts there say that once the house lights drop, an unmistakable energy fills the venue from wall to wall. Tomorrow night, we will find out. If Phish’s past trips to the Motor City prove to be any indication of the city’s musical energy, combined with the venue’s mysterious vibe, we are in for a real treat. Travel safe and see you in Detroit!
Check out this majestic “Tweezer” from ’97 at the Palace at Aubrun Hills.
“Tweezer>Izabella>Jam” 12.6.97 (This jam flows into “Twist>Piper”, so I highly recommend downloading the entire show)
2009 is rapidly unfolding as one of the standout years in Phish’s long spanning career. Carving out its own niche, 2009 has created an identity that will hold strong for many years to come. . And to add to what has already taken place, Phish will cap off the year with the long-awaited fall tour and New Years run. As we all know, the bands’ style becomes noticeably different as the scenery shifts from the vast outdoor amphitheaters to the confines of the indoor arenas. What the rest of this year will bring, we can only imagine.
Since the reunion, the band has shown us moments of greatness as they regain their confidence and comfort with one another. After 8, it appears as though they are now solidified in their new form. With an unmistakable energy surrounding the band, we can only sit and dream of what will unfold during the upcoming fall tour. Today, we look back at some of the great jams that have gone down since the reunion in March.
“DWD” 3.8.09 Hampton
“Sand” 6.7.09 Camden
“A Song I Heard the Ocean Sing” 6.19.09 Deer Creek
“Tweezer” 7.31.09 Red Rocks
“Drowned” 8.13.09 Darien Lake
“Reba” 11.1.09 Pt.1 Festival 8
“Reba” 11.1.09 Pt. 2
On Sunday, we all wondered if the band could match the performance from the night before. We had left the concert grounds on such a high note, and to match that level of playing would be quite a feat. As we took up our positions on the grass for the acoustic set, none of us really knew what to expect. If Phish had chosen to dedicate an entire set to acoustic music, there was no doubt that they would bring something new, and interesting to the table. And that they did. The set began with the ironic selection of “Water in the Sky”. The sound quality was perfect so that you could hear every note without having to be too close to the stage. Sitting there in the sun, taking in the graceful acoustic music was the perfect way to pass the afternoon. It immediately became obvious as to why Phish had chosen to play an acoustic set. Not only did they sound practiced, but they brought new forms and arrangements to songs making the music feel fresh and new. The setlist featured some major surprises in both “The Curtain With” and “McGrupp”. Both songs fit perfectly, and added an interesting twist to the setlist. I can’t express how enjoyable this set was, and I very much hope Phish does it again. “The Curtain With” 11.1.09 When Phish returned for the second last electric set of the weekend, there was a noticeable difference to the band we had seen the first day. Responding to one anothers’ playing, exuding a sense of purpose and confidence, Phish seemed revived with a new spark. The set opened with “ACDC Bag” and immediately the band picked up where they had left off the night before. Every jam took on a direction of its own, fully equal-parted, and full of energy. “Jibboo” led into a brilliant jam that saw the band fully click with a togetherness we had seen only sporadically throughout the summer. Trey seemed to be glowing with an aura that guided his every note to divinity. The fluidity in his playing was something we had not seen in some time. And I think we all know, when Trey hits the note, so does the band. The much awaited “Reba”, last played on the last night of the Red Rocks Run, came much to our delight. The jam continued in the bright vibe of the set, and carried into a soaring modal excursion. The rest of the set saw the return of “Guelah Papyrus”, as well as a stand-out version of “Undermind”. The song features a heavy rhythmic focus, and is clearly a direction the band is looking to explore further. This version, in my opinion, took the song further than any previous version, and hinted at the songs potential for the upcoming tour. The set closed with a flawless version of “Split Open and Melt”, one of the bands most challenging songs, showing the effects of the band’s practice during their recent time-off. The set closed on this high note preparing us for what would unfold during the following set. “Undermind” 11.1.09 As the band returned for the final set of Festival 8, we all knew a massive “Tweezer” awaited us. Sure enough, the opening notes of the song rang out throughout the concert ground to open the set. As the band entered into the jam, the crowd erupted with a combination of joy and glowsticks. Trey threw on his black-cat vibe and threw down some heavy lead work atop Mike’s deep bass groove. The band carefully weaves through several distinct sections in the jam, adding a noticeable mix of flavors. Incorportating elements from their previous styles, the jam took on a direction of its own. The end of the jam settled into an ambient layer of sounds that carried us into the next extended journey, in “Maze”. The rest of the set speaks for itself. Like the previous night, no note seemed out of place. The energy from the night before had carried over in a very strong way. The setlist unfolded in a very unexpected way, showing Phish becoming more comfortable with their massive song catalog. As has been the trend since the reunion, Phish has gotten better every step of the way. While they continue to grow and become more comfortable and confident with their songs, the potential for the future is seemingly endless. “Tweezer>Maze” 11.1.09 See ya in Detroit.
Day 3 11.1.09
On Sunday, we all wondered if the band could match the performance from the night before. We had left the concert grounds on such a high note, and to match that level of playing would be quite a feat. As we took up our positions on the grass for the acoustic set, none of us really knew what to expect. If Phish had chosen to dedicate an entire set to acoustic music, there was no doubt that they would bring something new, and interesting to the table. And that they did.
The set began with the ironic selection of “Water in the Sky”. The sound quality was perfect so that you could hear every note without having to be too close to the stage. Sitting there in the sun, taking in the graceful acoustic music was the perfect way to pass the afternoon. It immediately became obvious as to why Phish had chosen to play an acoustic set. Not only did they sound practiced, but they brought new forms and arrangements to songs making the music feel fresh and new. The setlist featured some major surprises in both “The Curtain With” and “McGrupp”. Both songs fit perfectly, and added an interesting twist to the setlist. I can’t express how enjoyable this set was, and I very much hope Phish does it again.
“The Curtain With” 11.1.09
When Phish returned for the second last electric set of the weekend, there was a noticeable difference to the band we had seen the first day. Responding to one anothers’ playing, exuding a sense of purpose and confidence, Phish seemed revived with a new spark. The set opened with “ACDC Bag” and immediately the band picked up where they had left off the night before. Every jam took on a direction of its own, fully equal-parted, and full of energy. “Jibboo” led into a brilliant jam that saw the band fully click with a togetherness we had seen only sporadically throughout the summer. Trey seemed to be glowing with an aura that guided his every note to divinity. The fluidity in his playing was something we had not seen in some time. And I think we all know, when Trey hits the note, so does the band.
The much awaited “Reba”, last played on the last night of the Red Rocks Run, came much to our delight. The jam continued in the bright vibe of the set, and carried into a soaring modal excursion. The rest of the set saw the return of “Guelah Papyrus”, as well as a stand-out version of “Undermind”. The song features a heavy rhythmic focus, and is clearly a direction the band is looking to explore further. This version, in my opinion, took the song further than any previous version, and hinted at the songs potential for the upcoming tour. The set closed with a flawless version of “Split Open and Melt”, one of the bands most challenging songs, showing the effects of the band’s practice during their recent time-off. The set closed on this high note preparing us for what would unfold during the following set.
As the band returned for the final set of Festival 8, we all knew a massive “Tweezer” awaited us. Sure enough, the opening notes of the song rang out throughout the concert ground to open the set. As the band entered into the jam, the crowd erupted with a combination of joy and glowsticks. Trey threw on his black-cat vibe and threw down some heavy lead work atop Mike’s deep bass groove. The band carefully weaves through several distinct sections in the jam, adding a noticeable mix of flavors. Incorportating elements from their previous styles, the jam took on a direction of its own. The end of the jam settled into an ambient layer of sounds that carried us into the next extended journey, in “Maze”.
The rest of the set speaks for itself. Like the previous night, no note seemed out of place. The energy from the night before had carried over in a very strong way. The setlist unfolded in a very unexpected way, showing Phish becoming more comfortable with their massive song catalog. As has been the trend since the reunion, Phish has gotten better every step of the way. While they continue to grow and become more comfortable and confident with their songs, the potential for the future is seemingly endless.
See ya in Detroit.
Finally setting aside all rumors, Phish has announced their much awaited New Years run in Miami. Returning to the sunshine state for the first time since 2003, Phish will once again perform one of their legendary four-night runs leading up to New Years Eve. Ticket information can be found here. The request period ends Nov. 15, so get your lottery orders in soon!
Today, we look back on the second day of Festival 8 and the amazing transition the band went through that night.
Day 2 10.31.09
The second day of Festival 8 began with the first day-time set of the festival. Known to take on a very distinct feel, day-time sets at previous festivals have been a time for gracious, melodic jams. The afternoon kicked off in a similar fashion with a fitting selection of “Sample”, “Divided Sky” and “Lawn Boy”. The heat under the California sun was overwhelming, and the perfect quencher came with “Kill Devil Falls”. With its Little Feat style Texas-boogie vibe, the dancing got underway, and the energy in the crowd quickly picked up. The band fed off the crowd’s energy, launching into a rockin’ jam. “Gin” followed and, remaining close to the song’s frame throughout, featured a bright jam that keep the energy rolling.
Still, the band exhibited a similar patience to the previous night. They were still forcing jams rather than letting them happen, and still a step away from hitting the note. The rest of the set carried in the bright day-time vibe, ending with an exceptional “Antelope” that touched on the greatness that would take place in the following sets.
Walking into the concert grounds for the Halloween set, we all knew we were about to witness something great. As the video screens lit up with a montage of the 99 potential musical costumes, the feeling was truly otherworldly. We had waited, speculated, and hoped for this moment for so long, and now it was finally taking place right before our eyes.
As the band took the stage, opening with “Rocks Off” two things became apparent. First, Trey was going to play the entire album in both the standard and alternate tunings used by Keith Richards (a major feat). Second, the Stones really are a hard act to match. Seeing the Stones many times over the years made me appreciate right then and there how great they really are. Phish are superior musicians in every respect, but the Stones have a certain soul that is hard to replicate. That became obvious as Phish struggled to capture the Stones’ sound in the first few songs. Don’t get me wrong, it was incredible, every minute of it. But, understandably so, it took the band a few songs to feed into the energy that has kept the Stones touring for over 40 years.
A special moment, for me, came when Jon sang “Sweet Virginia”, one of my favorite songs. It was one of the best songs of the night, and after relistening, was the first song that truly captured the Stones’ sound. Trey eased back into Keith’s position, peppering the song with bluesy licks while Jon added his signature light-hearted vocals. The backup singers and Jon clicked and with the addition of the horns, truly captured the song’s gospel sound. After this point, as I mentioned before, everything was history. Once “Torn and Frayed” started, the band stepped into an entirely new form.
“Torn and Frayed” 10.31.09
It is worth recognizing that the year’s since the band’s breakup in 2003 have been filled with ups and downs. As many know, Trey has been through a period of extreme hardship. The subject matter on his solo albums as well as on Joy deals with the issues he has gone through, some of which looks into the darker periods in his life.
Fittingly, during this period, Trey’s tone, as well as his songwriting took a turn toward a darker sound which stood in stark contrast to the playful songs written in the band’s earlier years. Covering Exile served as the next step in Phish’s development. Overcoming the difficulties that have plagued the band’s members for the past 5 years, reuniting with a concert for the ages, Phish took on a new form. While many have said this album did not change the direction of the band, I have to disagree. Past Halloween sets have had lasting effects on the band, and I think Exile will have the same impact. Reaching into the Stones’ energy, and injecting it into their own sound, the band became tighter and more responsive to each others’ playing.
After performing “Torn and Freyed”, the band played with a renewed energy that carried over to the following night. Trey’s solos flowed with an energy not seen from him in years. Provided with a dense layer of sound from the horns, Trey was able to solo without having to carry the jam. Using licks reminiscent of those he played with his larger solo bands, he graced the music with a intensity that cemented Phish’s new rock form. The rest of the Halloween set carried in this energy and saw the band fully capture the Stone’s sound.
When Phish returned for the final set of the night, we all knew we were in store for something special. After seeing the band fire on all cylinders during the Halloween set, there was no doubt that there was a rare energy flowing that night.
As they returned with “Backwards Down the Number Line”, we awaited what would surely be an extended journey into the abyss. However, rather than reaching toward the dark, the band carried the rock-vibe from the Halloween set, injecting a tremendous energy into the music. Every note turned to gold, nothing seemed out of place. The patience that had loomed over the jams prior to the Halloween set had been removed. The jams took on directions of their own. Every song during the set was immaculately presented, each featuring a memorable jam of its own. “Backwards” flowed with a distinct groove that segued unnoticed into “Fluffhead”. As expected, the band threw down a fiery “Ghost” which featured some heavy bass work by Michael G.
Throughout the summer “YEM” had developed into a standardized jam that was rarely a highlight. At 8, however, the song returned to its old form as a jam vehicle. The spontaneity had returned to one of the band’s greatest songs, and nothing could have made me happier. The night that couldn’t get any better was capped off with one of the best encores I have ever seen, form any band. The “Suzy” encore will forever be ingrained in my mind as one of the great musical experiences. I think if you were to ask the band, they would certainly agree. 100% pure hose.
“YEM” 10.31.09 PT.1
“YEM” 10.31.09 PT.2
“YEM” 10.31.09 PT.3.
Festival 8, along with so many other things, acted as a reminder that Phish is so much more than just a band. Whether it be the secret language that took place between the band and the fans in past years, the Gamehenge saga, the late night sets…Phish offers so much more than just music. They offer an experience, and 8 was the perfect example. Each day presented its own Phish experience, each with a distinct vibe. In the coming days, we will take a look all 3 days from 8, and the unique experience that each offered.
Day 1 10.30.09
As Phish took the stage on Friday, the sun had already gone down laying the way for an extended set in the darkness. The energy in the crowd that night, with all the anticipation that had been building since the start of the “Save the Date” charade, was overwhelming. The band fed off the crowd’s vibe immediately, as they launched into a ferocious version of “Chalkdust” to get the improvisational juices flowing. It immediately became obvious to everyone listening that the band had been practicing in their off-time. The set carried a very tight vibe, however, the band seemed overly patient. As the set progressed, the jams opened up and we began to see the band at a level of comfort not seen since before the reunion.
The amazing part about the first night was the stark musical contrast between dark and light that took place. For example “Stash”, which is generally reserved for darker jams, led into an unconventionally bright, melodic jam. Toward the end of “Disease”, however, the band reached into some very dark psychedelic territory. The culmination of this dark jamming came during “Wolfman’s”, and reminiscent of the version from Halloween ’98 (the jam which provided the background music to the “Save the Date” map), the band took the song on a dark, ambient journey.
Anyone who had heard the soundcheck from the night before knew the band was waiting to delve into the darkness. However, I don’t think anyone was expecting it to take place on the first night. The dark “Wolfman’s” segued seamlessly into a bright “Piper” showcasing the two opposing jamming styles. This combination served as the improvisational highlight of the night, venturing deep into uncharted musical territory.
When the ‘Burble’ emerged, the setting became even more dream-like. As this psychedelic orb of light made its way through the crowd, the band drew on its mystical vibe delivering a divine version of “Hood”.
The contrast between the bright “Hood” jam, and the dark “Wolfmans” reminded us exactly how dynamic these four musicians are. The Phish experience has so much to offer, even within a single night. As we left the concert grounds that night, we could hardly imagine what the next day would have in store for us…
Check out the “Hood” from night 1.
“Stash” 10.30.09 Pt. 1
“Stash” 10.30.09 Pt. 2
After a week, we are still basking in the glory that was 8, thinking about all the amazing moments that took place. 8 was perfect, in every way. For me, there were so many elements that combined to make the experience seem like a dream. Whether it was the 8 sets of Phish, being surrounded by mountains in California, the three ‘From the Archives’ broadcasts…the whole thing was absolutely perfect. It would have been hard to ask for more. Today I have prepared a half-hour clip of some special moments from 8. I have included everything from songs played on The Bunny, set-break music and of course Phish jams. The set-break music at 8 blew me away as they played some of my favorite songs, making everything even more perfect. Throughout the week we will continue to break down the music from the festival as we prepare for the next step, FALL TOUR!
“All Things 8″
I won’t post the tracklist right away. See if you can guess the songs.
“SOAM” Pt. I 11.1.09
“SOAM” Pt. II 11.1.09
“Gotta Jibboo” 11.1.09
“Run Like an Antelope” 10.31.09
Returning to normal life after 8 seems strange. What many of us witnessed, and took part in over the weekend will change us forever. Looking at those around me, I feel as though I know something they don’t. So many amazing moments, so many amazing memories. Here’s a little recap of our journey:
We landed in Palm Springs around noon on Thursday, boarded the shuttle, and we were off. Cruising through the desert highways, surrounded by gated communities and block malls, we joked and guessed at what was in store for us. Traveling through what was certainly the most scenic area I have ever seen Phish, the excitement grew. In moments we would arrive at the destination that had awaited us since the beginning of the whole ‘Save the Date’ charade.
After arriving at the site we set-up camp and headed to the Overlook where we caught the special ‘From the Archives’ video montage. The vibe was extremely cool as we took part in what was, for me, a perfect night to start the weekend. Watching exclusive Phish videos with a bunch of devoted fans. Kevin treated us to quite a few rarities, some of which can be seen here.
The sun rose on Friday over the mountains filling the sky with layers of color. The combination of the glowing sky, the mountains and the palm trees that surrounded the campground was surreal. The morning started with fresh croissants, muffins and produce from the Farmer’s Market. Needless to say, Phish really knows how to treat their fans!
Entering the concert grounds that afternoon, we were treated to a view of all the amazing art and amenities that awaited us. From fire breathing sculptures to ‘Foam’ beer, it was hard to take it all in.
Phish took the stage after the sun had gone down, and began the show with “Party Time” (which we called in our article “What Lies Ahead”)! The song made for the perfect start to the weekend, just as we expected. The first set continued with a patience that seemed to constrict the potential of the jams. Both the early, and the late set were speckled with moments that bordered on greatness. In particular, “Disease” was headed to a special place, before being abruptly cut off by Trey. The start of “Caspian” seemed out-of-place, and we were left wondering what would have happened had the jam continued.
On Saturday, rumors that had swirled for months were finally put to rest as we were handed Phishbills stating the musical costume to be Exile on Main St. Brimming with joy, we awaited what would surely be one of the greatest nights in Phish history. The day set followed in the patience of the first day, and was again speckled with great moments. Again, “Antelope” reached into the realm of greatness, but failed to reach the heights that would unfold later that night.
When the time came for the Halloween set, we prepared for what would be one of the greatest nights of our lives. A Phish festival on Halloween, in California, a Rolling Stones cover. Somehow the moons had aligned so that Phish’s reunion coincided with Halloween falling on a Saturday, with a full moon. I kept reminding myself, remember how this night feels. It doesn’t get much better.
When Trey hit the first notes of “Rocks Off” I could hardly move, the moment we had all waited for was finally happening. The first few songs didn’t quite hit the note, the band took time to step into the shoes of one of the greatest rock acts of all time. However, when the first notes of “Torn and Frayed” were played, the rest of the set, and the weekend for that matter, were history. Phish played with an energy we have not seen from them in years.
“Torn and Frayed” 10.31.09
The Rolling Stones have been touring for over 40 years, and every show is filled with an energy that no other band can touch on. With Mick Jagger running across the stage and Keith Richards adding his soulful flavor, there are few in the business who can match them. On Saturday night, Phish dipped into the Stones’ energy, lighting their set with a magic we have yet to see since the reunion.
Trey, having toured with a horn section in his own band, added a dose of the style he created during his solo years. Smoothing out his sound and carrying the melody as he used to, Trey played with a fluidity not seen in years.
The energy from the Halloween set carried into the final set of the night. Every note was perfect. The jams went places. No song seemed out-of-place. The band pushed their music in a new direction. Phish were finally back in full form. During the summer, we had seen glimpses of what was to come, but the band had yet to fully regain their stride. At Festival 8, the rust was brushed off, the smell of plastic removed. This set was as good as any since the reunion in March.
During the acoustic set, it was hard to tell if the energy from the previous night had carried over, as the vibe was extremely mellow. We camped out on the grass, taking in the music with the band creating the ideal soundtrack under the hot California sun.
As the night drew near, and we entered the concert grounds for what would be the final sets, we all wondered if what we had seen the night before was a one time thing. When the music started, once again every note was perfectly placed. Transitions seemed scripted. The show was perfect from start to finish. The music was entirely unexpected, completely spontaneous, pure Phish.
Listen to the evolution of the music over the weekend. Notice the amazing difference between Friday and Sunday. We will continue to break down the music from the festival in the coming days.
We’ve returned from Festival 8, a weekend that will forever remain etched in our minds. There are few words to describe the magic that occurred. More will come as we settle back in. For now, I just wanted to post some of the goodies from the weekend. Enjoy!
Jam, Undermind > Devil With a Blue Dress Jam, Starship Trooper Jam, Gone, Liquid Time