Photos by S. Balaji Mani
Article by Lori S. Twohy, Derek Steele, Craig Lindsley, Barrett Caughthran, Emory Widener, and Mike “Miko” Steinberg
Phish is back with a vengeance and playing music again with what seems like a new found gratitude for what they have. And what they have is magical. We “Phish Heads” are getting extremely pumped up for the second leg of their summer tour, which begins with four nights at the breathtakingly beautiful Red Rocks amphitheatre in Morrison Colorado where Phish hasn’t played in 13 years.
Those of us who mourned the loss of Phish, when they decided to call it a day, back in 2004, felt the excitement of a second coming, so to speak, when we got to see them again, this past June, and earlier this year in Hampton. It was an incredible feeling to be able to dance our asses off again to all our favorite Phish jams, as well as many new songs off of their upcoming album JOY. I got to do nine shows on the first leg of summer tour (with Camden being my favorite), and was blown away by the energy on stage, and in the audience. It was like a huge musical family reunion. So we decided to make our review of the first leg of summer tour a sort of “phamily” project, including reviews by “Phans” who went to a different set of shows, and who come from all walks of life, as well as from all over the country.
Exhaustion and Exhilaration
The following is my account of the events that occurred from the start of Phish’s summer tour until the end of the tour in East Troy. It began long before the above dates when Phish played three sold-out nights for their reunion in March (Phish reunited after almost five years off in Hampton, Virginia on March 6 2009). Following the triumphantly successful reunion in March, Phish had a legion of rabid fans that were prepared to hit the road as soon as summer tour started. The early rumors all pointed to an epic spring tour that was to take place at some of the most famed indoor venues in the country, but before the reunion shows took place, the band announced a 13 date tour aimed to start at the beginning of summer. Like the reunion, the tickets sold out as soon as they went on sale, but the true surprise happened after the reunion. They announced that they would play the historic Fenway Park in Boston, and they also added another night at the Jones Beach Amphitheater. The tour was as follows:
May 31 – Fenway Park, Boston MA
June 2 – Jones Beach Amphitheater, Wantagh NY
June 4 – Jones Beach Amphitheater, Wantagh NY
June 5 – Jones Beach Amphitheater, Wantagh NY
June 6 – Comcast Center, Mansfield MA
June 7 – Susquehanna Bank Center, Camden NJ
June 9 – Asheville Civic Center, Asheville NC
June 10 – Thomson-Boling Arena, Knoxville TN
June 12 – Bonnaroo Music Festival, Manchester TN
June 14 – Bonnaroo Music Festival, Manchester TN
June 16 – Fabulous Fox Theatre, St. Louis MO
June 18 – Post-gazette Pavilion, Burgettstown PA
June 19 – Verizon Wireless Music Center, Noblesville IN
June 20 – Alpine Valley Music Center, East Troy WI
June 21 – Alpine Valley Music Center, East Troy WI
My personal journey began at 5:30 am EST in Asheville, NC, where I live, on May 30 2009, one day before Phish tour started. I left that morning not knowing what would happen or what to expect, but it did not prevent me from formulating what I thought would happen as I passed mile after mile in my 1997 Subaru Outback. The ride up to Boston felt like it took weeks but in reality only took a scant 16 hours. Being that I was the only one in the car, I entertained myself by listening to some obscure Phish shows from the mid-eighties, hoping that I would somehow influence the universe to align and have Phish play every song I’ve ever wanted to hear, the first night (ha-ha I can dream cant I). I arrived in Boston and drove straight to the Dave Matthews Band show at Fenway that night hoping to get in just in case Trey came out a played that night. The only thing that wound up happening was that I bought a bunk (already scanned and void) ticket for $15 and paid $20 for parking. I resigned myself the Crown Plaza for some much need rest because at that point I was starting to become delusional as it had been 18 hours since I had gotten up.
The beautiful sunlight flooding through my hotel window awoke me on the morning of the 31st and the first day of summer Phish tour had begun. I spent an unusually large amount of time outside of Fenway Park because I had heard nothing but reverence for the mystique that that ballpark held. It was fitting that a week earlier Phish released its first single aptly titled Time Turns Elastic, and now they would be playing a concert at a landmark that is well over 100 years old. The gates opened and the chaos had begun! The expectations were high among the crowd of 53,000+ and Phish came out firing. After a brief rainstorm before the show, the band came out to the middle of the infield to sing the Star Spangled Banner. The band then appeared on the massive stage in center field 5 minutes after left the infield, and the show was officially underway. The playing was excellent as it had been at Hampton and like Hampton they did not explore the jam sections. The band was polished, in sync and concise in their playing, and it was beautiful to watch. The atmosphere at that show was one of excitement and high energy and I walked out onto the cold windy streets of Boston, got in my car and drove to New York.
The next four days in New York might have been my favorite part of the entire tour. I got to the amphitheater at around 3 pm on the 2nd. I did not know when I pulled in that my life would change that day in ways that I could have never dreamed. I walked around the park to the beach before most of the people had arrived for the show. The day was beautiful and although the water in the Atlantic was cold, it glistened in the warm sun like a vast field made only of diamonds. Upon returning to my car from the beach, a car pulled in next to me and four people got out that I had an instant connection with, Yossarian, Adam, Kale, and Sarah, and for some reason we bonded that day and are all still very close friends. It is strange how complete strangers from different areas of the country can meet one day randomly at a show and feel as if they had known each other there whole lives. Anyways, in short, I had found my tour family and we went to every show together after that night.
The first Jones Beach show was one of, if not the most magically wonderful and spiritual night of my life. Phish played brilliantly and as I sat with the Atlantic as my backdrop I wondered if life could get any better? The second set was so intensely spiritual that during the Harry Hood jam; I had a total out of body experience and felt better than any substance could ever make me feel. It was as if God was talking directly to me. I got back to the car and was greeted by a smiling Yossarian, whose face I can still see if I close my eyes, who like me was awe struck with what he had just witnessed. We sat for a long time talking about the show and living in some of the happiest moments I have ever had the privilege to be a part of. The day after was Mike’s birthday and he played a show in the city to a small number of fans with drummer Bill Kruetzman of the Grateful Dead.
My good friend Alex drove up from Virginia to go the next four shows with me. I got to Jones Beach early again, and continued to hang out with my newly found friends. Alex wound up being stuck in traffic until the show had almost started, but wound up making it just in time. It was his first show and what a show it was. It was yet another stellar performance and set list from the band with highlights that included a beautiful Dirt and a funky Meat Stick along with many other favorites from the Phish catalog.
Alex and I arrived the last day of Jones Beach eagerly anticipating what was going to be played that night, but also looking forward to the next few days back out on the road. The last night at Jones Beach was a wet one! It rained like cats and dogs all night, and Phish played up for its fans that were stuck out in the rain. I remember thinking how appropriate and powerful Piper was as I danced wildly in wind and rain. The light and sound bouncing off the driving rain in the night was so powerful that I was unable to move at points during the show. I left the amphitheater that night in silence just thinking about what an amazing three days of music I had just witnessed and wondering how Phish was possibly going to top their performances in New York?
We were staying in East Hampton during the New York run so when we awoke the next morning we decided to take a ferry across the Long Island Sound in order to not have to deal with the New York City traffic. Predictably, we had to wait on the main ferry so the Phish fans that were waiting along side of Alex and I cracked a few beers and began the party that day. I wound up talking to a local Phish fan on the ferry that spent the entire ride filling Alex and I in on the history of the various lighthouses and landmarks that are in and around the sound. Alex had a few beers with the man and we all relaxed until we got to Connecticut. The first thing we did when we got off the boat was to get a hotel in Mystic, Connecticut so we could sleep that night after the show and get a head start to Camden the next morning.
Upon arriving to Mansfield we sat in the car in traffic. It was the most anti-climactic two hours ever! I figured I would tell you in order to get jubilation that I felt upon getting inside the venue right before the start one of my favorite songs off of the album Undermind, Nothing. I missed most of the first song due to traffic but it was a new song that I had heard just a couple days before. The band seemed to respond to the new location as much as the fans did and it was never more apparent than when they opened the second set with seven below>fluffhead. The band really started to catch their stride that night and what would follow would be a show that for many was the best of the tour.
Camden, New Jersey is the most disgustingly trashy and ghetto city I have ever been to. It is a place that America has forgotten about and let die a slow agonizing death with a glorious view of the Philadelphia skyline to really remind the people of Camden how bad they actually have it. One can imagine how puzzled I was as to why Phish was playing here of all places? In retrospect, it makes sense because Trey is from New Jersey and it seems to hold a special place in his heart. The show was the complete antithesis of the city surrounding the venue. It was thought out and beautiful, and had a liveliness that no one had seen Phish display in over a decade. The bands sentiment towards the Northeast was made even more apparent when Trey explained that they didn’t really want to leave and then played the longest encore of the tour in order to prolong the time spent in the Northern states.
It was after this show that my journey with Alex ended. Alex drove back to Virginia that night as I headed south to my home in Asheville. The night was just beginning for me, as I had decided to drive to Asheville without stopping. It has to be said that Yossarian flew home after Mansfield but would return to touring after Knoxville, and the others spent the night in Virginia after driving several hours after the show. Needless to say I got home at 10 am the next morning so completely exhausted that for a brief moment I thought about selling my tickets to the rest of the shows and staying home (very briefly). The home show was as good as any other show of the tour. It was slower than most of the others, but the small venue almost called for it. The Asheville crowd was also very nice, and it didn’t create the chaos that it was supposed to, that according to the newspaper.
The most underestimated show of the tour was Knoxville. People were literally giving tickets away in front of the venue, but it was not as if the building wasn’t completely packed. In fact it was so crowded that during the intermission no one could move in the hallways around the entirety of the arena. Phish blew the roof off that night, and what some people were thinking was going to be a throw away show wound up being one of the best of the tour. It was definitely nice to be inside with such a huge crowd because the energy was like a nuclear bomb that just kept going off all night. The journey was half over and it had seemed as if it had just started. The biggest shows of the summer were up next.
Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival is the Mecca of music festivals in the United States. It was my sixth straight Bonnaroo, and I was looking forward to it more than any of the others I had been to. The heat of Manchester feels very appropriate and homely to me, but is usually not the general feeling among concertgoers. The bottom line is that Phish was soon going to be in their element, in front of 80,000 screaming people in a field in the middle of nowhere. Near the end of the second day it finally hit me that I was going to be seeing Phish play Bonnaroo that night, and I was pumped! They took the stage soon after 11 pm on Friday night and blasted out an over three-hour set that left the crowd wanting more. It was two nights later that we got more, and we got more than we could’ve imagined. The end of the first set saw Trey shredding along side his idol Bruce Springsteen and was one the most touching moments of the tour.
The fabulous Fox. I think that’s all that needs to be said. It was the smallest venue that Phish played in 15 years or so. The theatre is the most intricate beautifully ornate venue I’ve ever been to and like the beauty of the walls themselves, Phish crafted a slower emotional set that included Sleep, which had only previously been played 11 times. It was everything that I had hoped it could be, and I am so grateful to Patrick for giving me the privilege of getting into that show to see Phish. It has to be said that throughout the tour Phish continually played better and better each night as they got into a rhythm.
Pittsburgh was an exciting show, because most of the people actually going to most, or all of the shows, that were unable to get into the Fox, went straight to Pittsburgh and rested up for a couple days. It was because of this rest that the crowd had ferocity that hadn’t been seen since Camden. It might have been that they had ever so briefly returned to the Northeast, but I personally think that it had everything to do with the rest and relaxation. Pittsburgh has always been known for great shows and great crowds, and it had both. Along with an ideal fan mix of songs, they simply played immaculately, and as with previous nights, expanded on jamming and going to places in those jams, that is the reason that Phish is as big as they are now.
The next stop was the next to last and I felt a sort of longing for home, but at the same time, a yearning to see more shows. Deer Creek has always been host to epic shows and this one was no different. The weather started to turn around the end of the first set and no one could have imagined what was to happen next. The sky opened up and poured rain and gave a lightning show that left everyone in awe. The second set was postponed because the weather was so bad, and the people in the lawn were told to go back to their cars for an hour, but as promised the band came back. The second set was played with an amazing light show from Chris Kuroda with help from the massive amount of lightning that continued the crash until the band finished the encore with Tweezer reprise. It may not have been the dream set list to some, but no one could deny the power of that second set.
The last two nights were at Alpine Valley, and were the perfect way to end a tour. The venue is the largest non-festival venue in the country. It was a beautiful Wisconsin day when I arrived at the venue, and adding to the beauty was the fact that I got a set of Pollock prints over the weekend. The first night culminated for me, when they played Prince Caspian>Waste and it was so beautiful, that it moved me to tears. It was at that moment that I really realized that the tour was over. I had spent most of my time throughout the tour with Yossarian and Alpine Valley was no different. We stayed that night with Mindi and Patrick (Two people I absolutely adore, and feel very close to now) ten minutes or so away from the venue. The next day my Phamily and I spent the day together and we went to the venue.
The last show was very moving. The show started with all the band’s children on stage during Brother in order to wish everyone a Happy Fathers Day. The songs chosen were obviously meant as a nice end to their first tour in five years as the last set started, and everyone started getting into the music for the last time that tour. It was a heavy groove laden set, but near the end the band showed its bittersweet emotion of the tours end. It was during Wading in the Velvet Sea that I broke down and could not contain my emotions anymore. I wept, not out of sadness, but out of a joy, that I got to experience this month long spiritual journey guided by Phish. It was culminated by Slave to the Traffic Light when the last exalt of energy and emotion was let out by the band. It was a moment in time that I will never forget. It was the most free I’ve felt in my entire life, and by the end of the “Slave” jam I was in a new place in my life entirely.
The tour was long and grueling and I would not change a thing about it. It allowed me to really look at myself in the solitude of the road and in doing so I was able to grow in ways that I couldn’t have imagined when I first left Asheville on May 30th. The best parts of the entire journey were the people I was fortunate enough to share it with. I don’t know what I was expecting to get out of it when I start, but it was not what I wound up with. I wound up with something much greater than just music, a band, or even just friends. I wish I could find a word for what I feel about the whole of the journey, but I am unable, suffice to say it was/is the greatest month of my life.
Acknowledgements: My Phamily: Yossarian, Alex, Adam, Sarah, Kale, Julie, Mindi, Patrick, Yogi, Greg, Jaime, Stephanie, and Morgan I LOVE YOU GUYS. My other Phamily; Lori (Thank You for the opportunity), Patrick, Billy, Kim, Martin, Tasha, Miko, Chad, Charlie, and anyone I forgot.
Endnote: I will end my summer with the four night run at Red Rocks, Shoreline, and Two nights at the famed Gorge
Derek, 24, Student from Asheville, NC
A Tour at the Last Minute
I was very fortunate; I didn’t decide to go to the first show of the Phish tour at Fenway until the night before, while I was attending Bisco Inferno at Red Rocks. A young lad in the RR lot said he was jumping on a SWA flight to Providence RI at 8:20 am the next morning to see Phish in Boston. I thought to myself, “wow, maybe I should do that”. Turns out there were some seats left on that flight. I didn’t go to bed that night (why bother? sometimes that makes you even more tired) and decided to just push on till the day. I had no idea if it would be hard to get a ticket, but had faith that if I made the effort, it would all work out. I did miss the national anthem due to the rain, but I parked my car in an almost empty lot right across the street from the venue. The first guy I see has an extra for $35, and I roll on in. Wow, did this really happen? Phish? Fenway? If it was a dream, I thought, please don’t wake me up?
My wife thought I was coming home on Monday. Well I had so much fun in Boston; I decided to take the rental car down to New York. What the heck? I’m already on the east coast, right? SWA is pretty cool about stand by, so I take my chances and head for Jones Beach. The Tuesday night Jones beach show was stellar. With a day off, I’m thinking, “I better check out the new Yankee Stadium”. Thursday was great; I sat in the lower center orch. row L. Right next to me was Joe Russo and his girl. By this time, my wife was getting a little pissed/jealous.
From there, I proceeded to Mansfield, followed by Camden, Knoxville, Manchester, and then I was forced to make a decision; there’s no way I can do St. Louis and get to Pittsburg, plus I didn’t have a ticket, and was worried my ticket karma might just run dry. I believe I made the right decision by skipping The Fox, because the show in Pittsburg was my favorite of the whole tour, even though I sprained my ankle dancing on my lawn, sorry, THE lawn. I was moved to excellent handicapped seating, after I missed a couple of songs at the first aid station (I think they just moved me up close to ensure no law suit). Actually, it was nobody’s fault but mine, since I was twirling around recklessly with my free mind during that night’s opener.
Well I phinished the tour thru Deer Creek (where my wife joined me) and Alpine, the only three shows I had planned on attending in the first place. All in all, it was an incredible adventure, that proved, without a doubt, that lack of planning does lead to high levels of flexibility. My wife still hates me, but I wouldn’t have traded this wild & crazy adventure for anyone or anything. At least I ‘m enjoying the ride. She’ll probably get over it by Red Rocks, which thank God, is only 7 miles from our house.
Don’t stop believing!
Craig, 49, Businessman from Denver, CO
An East Coast Run
It was with resentment and trepidation that I received the news of Phish getting back together. I attended the debacle known as “Coventry” and was fine with never seeing the band, known as Phish, again.
But of course my tough guy façade quickly disintegrated once the day of rebirth at Hampton was quickly approaching. I did not attend Hampton, but I would have loved too. I went to the Thursday and Friday shows at Jones Beach, Saturday at Great Woods, and Sunday at Camden.
Now I am not going to go through each song, and how I felt it was played Basically because I cannot stand reviews of such a nature for I feel they appeal to the kind of Phish geek I basically loath. You know of whom I speak; the phan who collects each show and spends their time ranking songs. I have a semblance of a normal life and do not have times for such things.
Now don’t get me wrong I’m as big of a nerd as anyone; I’m just not the species of the last paragraph.
Jones Beach Thursday; I was excited to be back at the world of Phish. Good solid Phish show, if you want to know the set list look it up.
Jones Beach Friday; rained the entire night which to say the least put a DAMPer on the situation, but another strong, solid, show. The first time I heard Backwards Down the Number Line and quickly ascertained it for the lovely showstopper it will become.
Great Woods Saturday; finally the sun, lots of lovelies in the lot, even though there was nothing being sold anywhere (future reference, eat before the show or bring stuff to cook at Great Woods). Great venue, great dancing and dance space. For me the second set just exploded, great jams and the first time I have heard Fluffhead in many a year.
Camden Sunday; every once in a while, I will see a run of shows that, for me, just progressively gets better. This four night run happened to be an example of just such a run. Camden Phreakin BLEW UP. For me, a lot of the appeal, and how well I judge the show is on how much I can dance and what the pholks around me are doing. Well this was a night of tribal initiation and celebration, of full moon rising and pheromones racing, of punches in the eye and dirty grindings. The only Sand of tour was ridiculous, hell the whole show was a rendition of everything pagan and holy that keeps me going to these phuckn things.
Thank you Phish for getting back together and letting this 38 year old man tap back into eternity.
Barrett, 38, Elementary School Teacher from Indio, CA
The Southern Experience
Although I have only been designated to write about the 4-show southeast run I attended, I feel compelled to include something about Fenway Park, 5/31/09. I was picked up at the airport by a dear friend of mine, a Bostonian whom I had met at the Hampton shows, and felt warmed by the “Welcome to Boston” banner stretched across the gate exit. I shared the hotel room I’d reserved with two new friends. I obtained two tickets, one seated high atop the pavilion, and one floor taper ticket; achieving an awesome view from one of the highest seats possible, and one from below, enabled me to roam freely through the dancing hundreds assembled . This was my first trip to Boston and to Fenway Park, and Phish’s first appearance there as well. The energy was light and uplifting, as the Boston Set highlights included The Star Spangled Banner, sung from the pitcher’s mound, Ocelot– my first time hearing this song, a vibrant David Bowie, and The Ballad of Curtis Lowe – performed 624 shows earlier on August 2nd 1993. A beautiful rainbow was revealed in between the showers and the wind, leaving Boston brisk, and wondrous.
The next show on the tour that I attended was Asheville on June 9th. It was quite exhilarating seeing Phish play here for the first time; seeing them play in the city which I reside. I was met inside the Asheville Civic Center by friends, after I made my way through the line wrapped outside around the venue. The city seemed to glow with the vibe the band brought with them. The venue was small, and the light show stellar. You could have cut the energy with a knife. The most memorable part of the show was Trey prompting Fishman to sing Lengthwise, sung at least partly and very comically out of tune. Set highlights included my first time hearing Kill Devil Falls, a jammy Tube, which was also played the night before in Camden, NJ, a Halley’s Comet bringing the entire venue to its feet, a slow and deliberate Theme from the Bottom, and a very brightly executed Maze, attaining its crescendo through a lengthy jam, and leaving me in awe of the superb skill and talent of the band that played before me.
Knoxville was as enticing as I connected with friends I hadn’t seen in years at set break. I had several extra tickets to this show, and so it seemed did everyone else. I was grateful to sell 5 at face, 2 for $10 per. to a man and his son and pinning the final to a board positioned mid-crowd just before the gate…a miracle I hope someone was able to take advantage of. It was great seeing what the band saw from behind (4 rows above upstage center), how the lights radiated out over the audience, and seeing the monstrous rigs hauled in, broken down, and boxed after the show. The roadie teams seemed to be broken down into their subsequent groups- sound, lighting, etc., and designated by different colored t-shirts. Set highlights include David Bowie of course, Weekapaug Groove, and a nicely delivered Army of One. The most memorable moment of the night was when they pulled out the condensers and rang into Hello My Baby barber shop quartet style, positioned upstage left- a first since Sunday,12/5/99 at The BlueCross Arena, in Rochester, NY, 136 shows earlier.
Bonnaroo was nothing short of AMAZING! A torrential downpour rolled through Thursday afternoon, keeping the dust level for the weekend low, a blessing indeed. The skies were black and Phish played two nights, a late night set on 6/12/09, and a headlining set on 6/14 to close the festival. It was Phish’s first Bonnaroo, though all members had played it previously. The Friday late night set highlights included a rendition of Highway to Hell, heard before, by myself, only on recordings, and a Kill Devil Falls which included a Type II Jam, (jamming involving variations, structural differentiations, and additional keys).
The final night at Bonnaroo was a perfect end to a near-perfect weekend. It was my girlfriend’s first Bonnaroo, and we trotted around the field from the very back at Café Where, to the designated pit area in the front area of the What Stage, both nights. I found it easy to get to the front from the very back Friday night, and experienced a short wait Sunday night outside the pit area before the gate opened. Set highlights Sunday night included AC/DC Bag– with which the crowd erupted into a frenzy of dance, NICU– one of my personal favorites, and a seemingly flawless Horse>Silent in the Morning. The most memorable part was when Bruce Springsteen appeared and accompanied the band through Mustang Sally– first time played since Monday, June 20, 1988 at Nectar’s, in Burlington, VT; Bobby Jean, and Glory Days followed.
All in all, my Southern Experience was one indeed exciting, and will be forever remembered as enjoyable and fulfilling. Thanks to Lori for asking me to be a part of this article, and for her courage to embark on an independent publication, showcasing the bands I have come to love.
Emory, 29, Event Promoter/Producer from Asheville, NC
A Little Bit of Every Place
I saw Phish build from a small bar band to a group that regularly sold out the likes of Alpine Valley, Red Rocks, Shoreline, and Madison Square Garden. I have done entire holiday runs several times including New Years and have seen three Halloween shows. I saw the band evolve from its eclectic rock and jazz, to funk (fall ‘97 is still my phavorite) to the ambiance that would define the Phish 2.0. I saw the comeback show of 2.0, and was blessed again to see them take the stage, after a four and a half year hiatus, in Hampton this past spring. I saw the scene rise up and get ugly, and also saw the decline in some of the members of the band. As a person in recovery, something I had some difficulty in reconciling. Here I was supporting something I said I would not. I saw Jerry Garcia junk himself into oblivion and seeing it again before Phish stopped at Coventry.
The Phish I saw this spring and summer was a return to innocence. It seems as, in many cases, I was seeing the band I fell in love with in 1992-1993. They were playing the songs as if they were hungry. But there was a maturity as well. Shit, we (me and the band members) are all close in age and I was seeing the music of men in their mid 40’s and I knew it evolved. Seeing Trey committed to his sobriety (which he has spoken publicly about) was refreshing. It was obvious in his music. He smiles in every song and its great to see him literally jumping during the Possum at Deer Creek and hovering over Mike Gordon as if he was in utter bliss. This moment, one in the many I saw with Trey this summer, made me smile with glee. I know what it is like to hit highs like that. He was back and was loving every blessed moment.
I had an experience of Phish, this summer, that I had never had before. During Maze on the 6/20 Alpine Valley show, I actually left my body. How could that be? They were so locked into each other’s depth, that it teleported me. Phish is not usually and ethereal experience for me, and I am still clean and sober. I do get High on Music and this band was taking me there.
There are so many moments from the summer tour. The 6/21 Man Who Stepped into Yesterday>Avenu Malkenu (I am Jewish and to hear this holy song on Father’s Day, the words mean Our Father Our King); Cross Eyed and Painless from the same show, the debuts of Sugar Shack and Joy at Camden (6/7/09), and the quadruple encore at the same show. Man, the band was just so awesomely dark that night. By the way, Camden was my favorite of my six (well technically five and a half because my plane was late and I got to Jones Beach for the second set of the last night. I also saw Great Woods. That with both Alpine Valleys and Deer Creek makes 6). Many of the new songs have grown on me. I love Ocelot, Kill Devil Falls and The Connection. Time Turns Elastic is growing on me. I do know this. I am grateful for new Phish music. PERIOD.
So, the band that started for me in Hampton this year, is on a new musical evolution. Page is standing out and I am loving it. He is staying away from the ambience and just railing on the acoustic piano and various organs Mike has new effects on his bass and Fish, well he is just killing it. He made my last night of Alpine, with the late second set Slave to the Traffic Light and the encore Frankenstein, as over the top finales to what had been impeccable drumming all tour. Speaking of Mike, I think his tenure in his side project has definitely impacted his playing in the band. He has tasted being a front man and is definitely a greater presence in Phish 3.0.
I have two more shows in leg two. I will be in Chicago and then get to return to my home venue at Meriwether Post Pavilion, the place where my original musical ride began back in early high school. How lucky am I to travel back there now, as a 45 year old. I still stayed on the road on an extended ride. I feel kinship with the members of Phish, who might have experienced a similar path. We are all more mellow but still hit elevation through the music being made in the moment. This is obvious seeing them this summer and for the outsider looking in, it is undeniable. Phish 3.0 is back and there can be little to stop it.
Miko, 45, Attorney originally from Pikesville, MD, now residing in Ferndale, MI
There is something special that happens at a Phish show, in which those of us who love the band, just seem to get. I don’t mean to sound cliché, but like some of the writers above, I can only describe it as spiritual. Phish was the first band that I ever got to meet back stage, the first band I traveled out of the country to see (Europe 98), the first band I ever traveled to see on the east coast (3 times now), and the first band that made me realize that music can rock and make you happy at the same time. I grew up in southern California in the 80’s seeing bands out of LA such as Jane’s Addiction, Red Hot Chili Peppers and Guns n Roses. My other favorite bands, back then, were The Cult, The Damned, and The Ramones. So when my friends started going to see The Grateful Dead, I didn’t get it. It was too happy for me. I did however like most other classic rock bands from the 60’s like the Beatles, The Doors, The Stones, The Who, etc.
When I went to my first Phish show on September 29th, 1995 at the Greek theatre, in LA, I was a little skeptical. But they blew me away and when I look back at the set list now, I can understand why. Trey played the guitar with a hard rock edge that I was more accustomed to, so it no longer bothered me when a song went on for 15 minutes. And the happiness in the audience was contagious, to say the least. It was something I had NEVER experienced at a show before. Adding to the mix were the beach balls being passed around, Mike and Trey jumping on trampolines, Fishman in his dress singing an Aerosmith cover, the disco/techno kind of feel to my first 2001, and of course Page singing one of my favorite Beatle songs “A Day in the Life”. I was so hooked. Then somebody told me that they play different songs at every show. No two shows are ever exactly a like? That was it for me; they became my new favorite band and my entry into the jam band world, where for most people it was the Grateful Dead. I have been on the happy jam band train ever since, and I have these guys to thank for it.
This site is dedicated to you Phish. Without you guys, I wouldn’t be here.
Lori, 40, JBO Editor from Palm Springs, CA