They’re Baaack!

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"2001" 3.8.09 (P.Lucks)

As promised, I’m back with some breakdown of the third night before I give a more general overview of this weekend’s sublime and encouraging family reunion.  Over the next few weeks, I will be delving into specifics of Hampton, while also addressing some comments on this site. I will try to set the record straight as to the meaning of Hampton’09, because it seems that a few people absolutely missed it; that being said, back to night three.

The culmination of the band’s scripted weekend was another Phish marathon that completed their run through the classic Phish canon.  Beginning with “Sanity,” Trey toyed with the lyrics as a means of comedic self-reference.  Emphasizing the phrases “I lost my mind just a couple of times” and “I don’t need a place to hide,” he proclaimed his personal revival.  As the band began with a vengeance, everyone knew it would be a special night.  In the most exciting first set of the weekend, the band slaughtered more of their classic and complex compositions.  A tight return of “Foam” showed off the band’s polished chops and gave a retro glimpse into to an earlier time when they attacked their compositions with no abandon.  And, again, that time is now.

3.7.09 (P.Lucks)

3.7.09 (P.Lucks)

The ensuing “Bathtub Gin” was an emotive welcome home to all of the Phish crowd, as the soaring melodies and locked thematic jamming brought a unbridled level of pure joy and energy to the arena.  With the impending realization that Phish is as excited to be back as we were, everything seemed to click into place.  Tucked in the middle of five of the band’s most classic songs was the long awaited debut of “Undermind.” A indiscernible crunchy groove quickly morphed into the band’s title track of their last album, and was used to introduce the new Phish.  “Relocated, not retired/Reprimanded and rewired…Reinvented, Redefined…” Bringing amazing energy from the crowd, the band moved from the verses into a new dancy jam- something always welcome on Phish tour.

In the middle of the set came a furious and evil rendition of another tough composition, “My Friend, My Friend.”  This crisp version of this song sounded like 1993 when the hit every single note with zest.  Definitely one of the high points of the set, the menacing Rift classic paired up with its album-mate and led directly into a scorching “Maze.”  The band played incredibly well throughout this set, with a tightness and urgency that had been absent during loose playing of 2.0.

As the third two-hour first set wound down, the band ripped into a three song combination that brought the house down.  “Tube,” “Cars, Trucks, and Busses,” and “Free” instantly enhanced an all-out dance party into a staright up bash.  The first asteroid crash of the last five years sent an instant shot of adrenaline to the crowd, who were enthralled to be dancing so hard again.  This effect lasted throughout a standout “C, T, & B,” highlighting Page’s masterful work all weekend, and into a concise, yet bombastic “Free.”  Ending with the energetic “Frankenstein,” complete with Page on “keytar,” the band punctuated another sixteen songs and two hours of pristine Phish.

3.7.09 (P.Lucks)

3.7.09 (P.Lucks)

But when the second set got underway, Phish began to get back to business as usual.  Using clearly scripted setlists all weekend long, the band lined up a hallowed collection of Phish songs for the ideal reunion run. However, the quality of jamming, albeit tight as all get out, was mostly concise, and was structured within the framework of songs.  The surface that was scratched by night two’s “Rock and Roll” was dug into more deeply into by the twenty-two minute set-opening “Down With Disease.”  Starting by surfing the psychedelic wave of the song’s million-dollar melody, the band shredded the feel-good “composed jam” before entering into free flowing improv.  In some truly exploratory playing, the entire band took the music far away from “Disease” into a slowly moving realm where the band fused into one being.  Tapping into the their ethos, Phish created the only open-ended and extended jam of the weekend, sliding back into form with one of their classic vehicles.  Like a return to a secret cave we hadn’t visited in years, being smack dab in the middle of true Phish improv was an overwhelming feeling of soulful happiness.  Listening to the band combine their spontaneous ideas in a coherent and engaging way, the missing piece of the weekend had now been completed.

3.8.09 set I (P.Lucks)

3.8.09 set I (P.Lucks)

In a three-night Phish suite comprised of their most hallowed songs, the reunion was specifically about the Phishy vibe returning to the world.  The band and crowd were able to reconnect with the spirit and energy that defined Phish’s scene in the early to mid-‘90s.  Nostalgic, yet simultaneously forward looking, the weekend provided the community with a massive trampoline to launch our trajectory into this summer and beyond.  Phish wasn’t out to play thirty minute jams this weekend; that was clearly not the point- it was far more about the intangible aspects of the weekend that will never be heard on tape.  But with this “Disease,” the band sent the message, “Yes, we can still get as deep as ever, so watch out this summer!”  Everyone in the venue got the message loud and clear, and hopefully those listening at home did as well.  Sure, Phish could have come out and played four song sets- no question- but that was not the intention of the weekend. Instead of being focused on deep musical exploration, Hampton represented a magical celebration of Phish and their return to our everyday consciousness as well as their own.

Following their deepest excursion, the band continued into the most flowing set of the weekend with a gorgeous “Seven Below.” After the two uplifting improvisational pieces, Phish made a sublime stop in a precisely played “Horse > Silent.”  Managing to fit in nearly every classic song into their twelve hour, eighty-eight song weekend, by the time this point in the set came, one could virtually predict the that would follow- but how they would fit together was something no one could know.

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3.8.09 (P.Lucks)

The opening licks of “Twist,” one of the band biggest 2.0 vehicles, infused some more modern Phish into an old-school themed run.  Trey led the band through this jam using the dirtiest, most beautiful uncompressed tone.  As soon the jam grew out of the darkness into an alien-ambient texture, the band entered some of the most impressive music of the weekend. As the improv reached it’s deepest point, they coyly slid into the elusive “2001” that had been hinted at throughout the previous few sets.

As the beat started, The Mothership was cleared for liftoff, and we collectively blasted off into chapter three with crisp, strapping grooves that were like candy for everyone’s minds.  Taking the space-aged cover through a short and intense incarnation, the emotions flooding the moment were totally overwhelming; a cohesion of our collective consciousness.  At, arguably, the highest point of the weekend, the band made a huge drop into “Moma Dance,” all but imploding the minds of everyone in the room.  Bringing memories of the big “Black-Eyed” back in 1997, swank molasses grooves filled the room.  “Twist > 2001 > Moma”- like something out of a Phish comic book- simply unreal!

"Reba" 3.7.09 (J .Tilden)

"Reba" 3.7.09 (J .Tilden)

With their second nod to The Beatles in as many nights, Phish busted out a stirring rendition of “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” that featired a colossal Trey solo before ending their weekend with the most majestic combination possible of “Velvet Sea” and “Slave.”  Bringing a cathartic culmination to the greatest weekend of our lives, the delicate “Slave” jam whispered in our hearts of the soulful connection between, the band, the cosmos, and ourselves.  As “Reprise” closed the ecncore amidst an flurry of massive baloons, things felt amazing again.

We have finally arrived.  All weekend long, Phish reminded us why they are the greatest band on the planet. And with nothing but bright skies ahead, the world is back to the way they should be- with a happy and scorching Phish.  As summer tour is only months away, and west coast dates on the horizon, things couldn’t look better.  As any one of the 13,000 people that walked out of our sacred venue with shit-eating grins could tell you, “The magic is back.”

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MINER UPDATE: I got stuck in Newark, NJ tonight, so didn’t have access to downloads yet.  I will be putting regular tracked AUDs of the weekend up this week. Cheers, everyone! It’s ON!

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253 Responses to “They’re Baaack!”

  1. For spacey Phish, Dec ’99 had some good moments. Set 2 of both 12.13.99 and 12.18.99 are definite keepers.

  2. Adam Schneider Says:

    Hey everyone. I’m not even going to delve into the negative posts that people are saying are here. All I will see is that I haven’t seen Phish trying to hard since I don’t know when. They were happy, psyched, and overall FEELING the music.

    Sure, there were flubs, but overall, it reminded me of rusty version of 1992 Phish, but with the maturity that they now have. Set 2 of Sunday’s show was an indication of what they will sound like when they hit their groove.

    I LOVED EVERY MINUTE OF THIS WEEKEND! They’re back! They’re happy! And they sound GREAT!

    Love it!

  3. can we get someone to tell us how the lot scene was last weekend. was shakedown flowing, were the cops being bastards as usual. just an overall veiw of the scene. there are too many music reviews

  4. Maze/Bowie? Says:

    I was there Friday and Saturday, and listening to Sunday Set II right now, which is bringing the heat. That Twist > 2001 > Moma is insanity. The shorter jams were perfect, brought me back to when I first saw them in ’94. Focused, tight, energetic and purposeful.

    As for the lot scene, there was no shakedown to speak of on Friday, the cops were cracking down. But you could walk around no problems with an pen container if you brought your own beers. Even on the streets around the coliseum. Saturday they loosened up a little more. Both nights after the shows, the cops let the nitrous flow for 30-45 minutes, then shut everything down and shooed everyone out of the lot. I didn’t really see any problems with cops busting people, although I guess they did if they confiscated over a mil from people.

    All in all, one of the best weekends of my life. Turned to a buddy of mine during stash on friday and said that, outside of my wedding day and the day my little girl was born, I have never been so happy in my whole life.

    THey brought it, and since #2 is due rght before summer tour, that’s all of the Phish I will be seeing until the fall. What a great memory to get me through….

    The boys are certainly back in town. Anyone who says differently is on another planet.

  5. lot scene on the strip was busted up early friday from what I heard and saw and was nonexistent the rest of the weekend. I heard legends of a backlot shakedown that went down saturday but by the time I got out there sunday after show it had dispersed. It was actually a bit unsettling walking down the parking lot strip after show on friday, I could find no food whatsoever, but there were nitrous tanks every 10 feet. By the end of the weekend they had shut that down too. Kids of course improvise and there was artwork and etc for sale, but everything was mobile..

  6. Gills –

    From what I saw, there wasn’t a shakesown, per se, on any night. There was vending going on, but it was sparse, and wandering, not all concentrated in one area. Not too many kitchens set up, or tables, etc.
    The police presence was heavy. They definitely made there presence known, but I didn’t see them busting heads or anything. As long as your wares weren’t in violation of the law (copyright or otherwise) they weren’t concerned. Summer tour is gonna be the same as any other tour. Some venues/communities will have a much more relaxed attitude towards vendors than others.

  7. Let me clarify…when I say summer tour is going to be just like any other tour….I’m talking only about vending at shows. I’m not refering to the quality of the shows, which is going to be OFF THE FREAKIN’ HINGES!!!!

  8. and P.S. FUCK NITROUS!

  9. there actually was a little back lot that turned into a nice little scene saturday and sunday before the show. it was gone immediately after but just for a little while it felt like a phish lot. hampton as we once knew it is gone. the days of the shakedown between the trees seems over as the lot has been totally redesigned.

    walked out friday night and no one was selling food. saturday i had a heady french bread pizza. i also ate some vegan ginger bread and some blueberry muffins sunday after the show but over all the lot scene was non existent.

    oh and i did get some cotton candy from up state NY.

  10. Apropos of no recent comments… & belatedly (since I was waiting to finish listening to Sunday before reading anything)… THANK YOU MR MINER!!! for the no spoilers downloads!

    Sunday in particular sounded fantastic–do you know if the taper has seeded FLAC files for this source?

    Listening to this progression of shows has been pretty amazing. There were PT threads Saturday morning about Page’s solo on Suzy, which, if you go back to it, is kind of incoherent and thin. But by Saturday’s second set, you didn’t have to look too hard for favorite bits. I think Antelope was the tipping point–you can hear a difference in the way the crowd is cheering–and after that, they were pretty much in IT for the rest of the run.

    Looking forward to your dissection of these shows set by set in coming days

  11. Many thoughts about the weekend:
    1. Hampton is and always has been the perfect venue for Phish, esp. because it is easy to wait in line to get good seats, or what I prefer, being able to enter the floor from by the stage to boogie down 1o feet from Page. Though, like all venues, the energy of the people around you can have a big impact an your personal enjoyment.
    2. Lot scene was very chill. Most people who arrived early were sitting my their cars sipping down beers listening to music and enjoying the beautiful weather. No stress, no interference by police whose presence there prevented any major shakedown, but also the heavy flow of substances – a good think in my mind.
    3. Friday night was so surreal. Fluffhead into Divided Sky was an unthoughtof opener that it took until Saturday Set 1 for me to get grounded in the experience and really find a groove.

    Thank you all for taking the care to make the scene positive and I look forward to more big jams on summer tour.

  12. I love the positive vibe Mr. Miner writes. Thank you and h8rs keep your comments to yourself. haven’t you heard if you have nothing nice to say don’t say it

  13. contact420 Says:

    Have you guys seen this shit yet?
    Check out #5

    http://www.thesmokinggun.com/archive/years/2009/0311091phish1.html

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