Phish Summer Tour Part 1 – Wrapped Up

Photo By John Neely

Last night Phish finished off the first leg of their Summer tour in in Alpine Valley (East Troy, WI) so we thought we’d leave you with a few thoughts.

Phish traveled a long way on this tour. It started a little rough and hit a few bumps along the way but they wrapped it up in style with a wild, soaking wet show at Deer Creek and the two nights at Alpine Valley. In listening to those three shows, I’m hearing redemption for some of the earlier ‘bumps’ and promise for the future. Come July 31 at Red Rocks, I expect they’ll have even more songs rehearsed and the second leg will be a smoker.

Let’s hope.

Now, how about some pictures from last Thursday’s show at Star Lake (or whatever it’s called now.) Huge thanks go out to our friend, John Neely for these photos.

Photo By John Neely

Photo By John Neely

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Phish – 6/18/09 Star Lake

Disclaimer: This has been written solely by listening to the audio of the show. I did not attend…

First things first, here’s the setlist:

2009-06-18 Star Lake Amphitheater - Burgettstown, PA
1: Golgi Apparatus, Chalk Dust Torture, Bouncing Around The Room, Wolfman's Brother,
The Divided Sky, Heavy Things, Walk Away*, Wilson, Tube, Alaska, David Bowie
2: Down With Disease > Free, Guyute, Piper > When The Circus Comes To Town,
Harry Hood > The Squirming Coil, You Enjoy Myself
E: Grind**, Hello My Baby**^, Hold Your Head Up > Bike^^ > Hold Your Head Up,
Loving Cup
* Last Time Played 2000-10-05
** acapella
^ aborted
^^ Last Time Played 2000-09-12

Phish returned to Starlake Ampitheater last night (it has a new name now but I can’t be expected to track all of these damned corporate sponsorship pavilions) and they kicked the show off with a double-opener of “Golgi Apparatus” and “Chalkdust Torture”. “Golgi” was quick and well played whereas “Chalkdust”, also well played, featured a nice, long, on-point, solo from Trey. “Bouncing Around The Room” seems always to disappoint some, both in person and on paper, but this is straightforward and delightful Phish. This version comes off well and is quickly followed by “Wolfman’s Brother”. In keeping with the current Phish 3.0 mode of shorter jams, this version clocks in at just over ten minutes and contains slow-starting jam that, once it gathers steam, is simply rockin’. Mike and Fishman hold it down from the beginning while Trey and Page bring it up slowly with a combination of clavinet and loose, chicken scratch guitar work. After Page moves to piano, Trey’s lead heats up and the whole thing soon climaxes. Next up to bat: “Divided Sky”. Ah… Listening to this on the train as the sun rises across the river is not a bad way to start the day. This version is not the most precise. It starts very strong but, on the final jam, Trey misses an early cue and seems not to get fully back on track. Even when he’s hitting his mark he seems tentative as if he’s concerned that being too out front when making an error will bring the show down too much. He redeems with the last note, holding it well and staying out front to finish the song.

Next we hear Trey capturing his loop for “Heavy Things” and the bouncy tune returns us to the song zone from our place of instrumental bliss.  This one takes a little to get going and, as such, doesn’t get to that ideal space of the Hampton performance in March of this year. Don’t get down on this set yet, though.  For the first time since just before the first hiatus, the classic James Gang song, “Walk Away”, reared its head.  With a great vocal delivery from Page and a bit of rust on the arrangement this doesn’t really go anywhere but is still fun to hear. Similarly, “Wilson” was not a ‘version for the ages’.  During the show, I received a text message suggesting that label be applied to this next song, “Tube”.  While that may have been a bit of caught-up-in-the-moment hyperbole, this “Tube” delivers a great funky jam and an on-the-money rock jam transition resulting in a great version. Continue reading

Phish June 10th Knoxville, TN

Night two across the Southern sector of the country brought us three hours west of Asheville, and into a more fitting stereotype of the South. What can’t be said about Knoxville can easily said about Asheville. Knoxville is a quaint college town with a clichéd SEC feel to it; however, since the circus had arrived into town, that subtle “football is god” mentality had evaporated for the night being. Another day, another a plethora of freaks, and I couldn’t of asked for a better gathering in Knoxville. To go from the intimate feeling of Asheville to the sheer magnitude of Knoxville was fulfilling in a way, it was like suddenly being awakened.

I arrived in Knoxville and met up with a few friends and we rode into the lot. The police presence was known in Knoxville, but so were the extras, so no one was really complaining. In a way, the irony of seeing several fans piss within a foot of an empty cop car was somewhat symbolic of how this community has so much going on under the radar.

The energy was still present from last night’s show, but the fans attending the show were three times last night’s capacity. Seating was a free for all, and only at a Phish show could you steal seats and get away with it. Despite the abundance of extras present in the lot, the venue was nearly full. The band started the show with “Runaway Jim”, and right off the bat the band appeared more relaxed than at the Asheville Civic Center. Jim was solid and had the crowd rocking. Then the real heat came, “Punch You In The Eye.” This version was close to flawless, and wasn’t nearly the train wreck I had witnessed at Hampton. The crowd soaked in every moment of it, and then the boys decided to take an energy nose dive, they chose “Ocelot” as the next song in the set. Continue reading

Phish June 9th 2009, Asheville, NC

The thought of Phish playing in the secluded city of Asheville, North Carolina brings about vibrations of unrepressed joy for me. For Asheville is a beacon of light in a state that has drowned itself with socially unconscious laws and norms, for this was also the first time that Phish would descend upon this wonderful city, and in fitting fashion, Phish delivered what was expected of Asheville. The Civic Center (also known as Thomas Wolfe Auditorium) holds a mere 7,400 people, which for most rock bands falls within the par of playing arenas. However, Phish falls within the elite group of bands that can fill stadiums and fields without hesitation. So for them to choose a smaller arena like Asheville, meant that they were attempting to give back to the fans. Instantly the demand for tickets was out of control, and proved to be a fine example of how the age of technology has enhanced scalping techniques, and hindered the casual fan.

I arrived from Atlanta, and found myself within what almost amounted to a mirage of entropy. It seemed surreal to see my favorite city so overcrowded, and yet so jovial too. The euphoria was more widespread than the warm mountain air that afternoon. Vendors were dispersed throughout the town, as a central shakedown street was somewhat void, so fans made due with these constraints. Per usual, the Asheville police did a wonderful job of realizing the modus operandi of jam band fans, and left them to their own devices (for the most part).

The vibe entering the arena can only be compared to that of any special Phish show, the few were beyond ecstatic about seeing the boys in the glorious Civic Center. We staked out a rail Page side, and began to wait for the lights to go down. The usual pre show banter was abundant, what song would open the show, could they bust this out, etc. I’ll admit the opening choice of “Kill Devil Falls” garnished a mixed reaction from the crowd. It was quite palpable who had been around and who was just showing up to the Rodeo. That being said, once the band got to the jam portion of the song, the crowd locked in with the band, and we were off for the night. “Moma Dance” was funked out and had some brief moments that brought me back to the funk days of the band. Then what I perceive to be the first bad choice in set placement of the night, “Sample in a Jar” was next, and I feel it somewhat deterred us from what I hoped would be a show packed with improvisation. “Stash” followed and it was solid, and did contain a couple of dark moments during the jam. What followed next could only happen at a Phish show. Continue reading

Phish 2009-06-07, Camden, NJ

On a beautiful, early Summer, evening across the river from Philadelphia, Phish set out to demonstrate its rebirth. Well, perhaps that’s laying on the hyperbole a little thick but the show was a decided improvement over Hampton and showed distinct signs of growth for what has come to be known as Phish 3.0.

Here’s the Setlist:

2009-06-07 Susquehanna Bank Center - Camden, NJ
1: Chalk Dust Torture, Fee -> Jam, Wolfman's Brother, Guyute, My Sweet One,
46 Days, Lizards, The Wedge, Strange Design, Tube, First Tube
2: Sand, Suzy Greenberg, Limb By Limb, The Horse > Silent in the Morning,
Sugar Shack, Character Zero > Tweezer
E: Joy, Bouncing Around the Room, Run Like an Antelope > Tweezer Reprise

Opening with a rock & roll infusion, the band charged through “Chalkdust Torture” into the first ‘bust-out’ of the night, “Fee”. An old classic that has been on the shelf just after the first hiatus, “Fee” was a delight to see but it was not without a glaring lyrical gaff. Trey apologized mid verse, noting that he had no trouble with the words backstage, finished out the verses and led the band into a delightful, a-typical, five minute outro jam. This served as out first clue that Phish hoped to do more than “play” the songs; improvisation figured prominently on the menu. With this promising prelude, “Wolfman’s Brother” came to visit bringing high expectations. This version is no twenty minute epic but it is very much a strong example of the concise jamming that has, so far, been trademark of Phish 3.0. Anyone who hadn’t come to re show in dancing shoes surely began to feel inadequately equipped during this little jam. Continue reading