This was my fist show. I was only 14 at the time, just turned 15. I love Phish more than life itself. Unfortunately I have no time to write an extremely long review, as much as I really want to.I just want to say that the two nights at the Gorge changed my life.
Thankyou Phish, for enlightening through music and saving through creativity!
P.S. I was also surprised at the unfamiliarity with Destiny! Greeeeaaaaat tune. I was front row right in front of Mike the second night and was in heaven watching his pure genius unfold right in front of my eyes!
It had been 10 years since my last visit to the Gorge, and this run gave me a chance to see in person the band's progression since the high-energy Hampton return in March. Remembering the wind-affected sound on the lawn in 1999, we headed to the floor where we found a nice spot towards the back on Page's side. The sound quality was perfect throughout the show. Though I think Trey has been too high in the mix on most of the summer tour tapes I've heard, it wasn't as noticeable in person. The crowd was fantastic, laid-back, yet attentive.
The band opted to open with Down with Disease, which had been played the previous show at Shoreline. It was just what I needed to hear though, an opportunity to cast aside my cares for the next couple of days and just dance to a song I'd first heard 15 year earlier. It was clear from the first jam that the band was clicking, but Disease never wandered far from the theme and while pleasing to the ear, was just a high-energy warm up for the band and audience. Ocelot, the first of three songs from "Joy" to make an appearance, is comfortable and bluesy, but not thrilling to these ears, though Mike got a chance to take the lead for the first time of the night. Pebbles and Marbles made its first appearance since the band's return slid straight into the now overplayed Possum.
I honestly wasn't expecting to ever hear Destiny in person, so my joyful reaction to hearing the opening notes helped me conveniently overlook the fact that the execution was a little forced and the band was a bit out of sync. Interesting to see how 95 percent of the crowd appeared completely unfamiliar with the tune, but given it was only the third performance in 18 years, it's understandable that younger fans don't seem to know it.
A strong Stash allowed the band to get into darker, more psychedelic jamming for the first time in the set but it was Sneakin' Sally through the Alley that was the highlight of the set. At about the five minute mark they went into a full-on, out-there vocal jam before getting back into a high-energy jamming. At around the 11 minute mark, the band headed for spacier territory and a beautiful, melodic theme eventually emerged. This version was eons better than the song's last appearance at Camden in 2004 and a highlight of 2009 summer tour. They probably could have ended the set there and I would have been happy, but Trey busted into Cavern to wrap the set up on more rocking ground.
Moma Dance is an enjoyable second set opener, but the 2009 versions have been more truncated and less jammy. I find that a little disappointing in that Moma Dance grew out of the great funk sound of 1997. It's not meant to be a eight-minute tune, in my opinion. The third-ever version of Light contains an excellent outro jam that flows perfectly into Taste, which soars as usual. A joyful Fluffhead (a guarantee to bring the house down any time it's played these days) had a few unique instrumental textures and flourishes to make it distinctive. Joy, which while heartfelt, is a little on the sappy side for my taste and might be more appropriate as a first set song.
To close they show, they pulled out three heavy hitters in a row. The Gin doesn't disappoint, with multiple exciting themes including a funky middle section dominated by Mike and a Trey-led flourish in the final minutes that's equally enjoyable. Harry Hood has become a bit too common for my taste, and this version doesn't break any new ground but still leaves you with a smile on your face.
A Slave encore is rare enough that it made the night feel special, like the band didn't want to stop playing. A solid version. Overall, an excellent show, with a nice blend of well-played old favorites, rarities and new songs. Light in particular has great potential and the Sally, Light>Taste and Gin are must hears.
Sally through Slave might be the best run of Phish '09. In a summer of strong DWD's this opener's strictly by-the-numbers, but only a churl can complain about a show this playfully focused. Listen for the elves-in-bermuda-shorts groove that slips (from the best Light yet) into a strong Taste. And dig that humongous Gin > Hood!
this show, in my opinion, is the best show of the summer, possibly of the year. i feel phish was still shaking off some rust on their june east coast run. they started to pick up some steam during the burgettstown-deer creek-alpine valley run, but i still don't think they were going as far out or hitting some of the peaks they found on the redrocks/gorge run. the east coast run that came after was good, but i felt it benefitted from oddball/rare song selection more than tight, explorative jamming. anyway, back to this gem...
after blowing up down with disease for the first time since their return at shoreline, they opened with it the very next show. this is a much more standard version, think early '94 version. ocelot works well after disease, and pebbles and marbles is a nice early treat. one of the few songs from that batch that i really get into. possum gasses the crowd up before taking a breather in sleep. destiny unbound rips. trey is particularly hot in the funky middle section. i like this one more than the fenway version. stash is nice and explorative. page and trey both have some hot licks. then comes what is possibly the jam of the summer. this sneaking sally is huge, and it should be considered one of the best. out of the "song", they hit a funky vocal jam, similar to vegas 04, but this isnt one of those shitty vegas shows. fishman and trey lead them back around into a very slick and funky sneaking sally jam. they move in and out of the the theme, but the funk exploration is constant. this jam works really well into cavern to close the set.
they kept the funk flowing to start the second set with a red hot moma dance. this is a rare 2nd set version. while i don't like the song light, damn, i love those light jams. the whole band is in sync on this one before it gives way to a very nimble taste. this is one of those tastes that makes it easy for me to justify as a damn good second set tune. page and trey work off each other very well. the sharp play continues in this very-well done fluff head. joy mellows everyone out before the best bathtub gin of the year. this was also the only 2nd set performance of bathtub in '09. this one does not take the normal '09 bathtub path. this one has a really nice funk/rock vibe that stretches for nearly 20minutes. after this one starts to peter out, fishman takes us into a beautiful set closing harry hood. they always seem to nail this one at the gorge, and this one was no different. slave was a nice pleasant surpise of an encore. not the best of the year, there are a shit ton to choose from, but this one is very good. page in particular sparkles here.
overall, this is a must hear show. you may not agree that this show is the best of the summer, but if you don't like this show, you are not a phish fan!
pebbles and marbles, destiny unbound, sneaking>cavern
This is an incredible show by any standards, and one of the strongest offerings the band has made since having returned in March of that year. The Disease opener is one of those quick, but sharp-as-a-knife kind of affairs, with some incredible soloing by Trey. Trey was really inspired AND on point on this night and it showed from the get-go. A nice laid back contrast in Ocelot followed, and the first set is full of welcomed rarities in Pebbles and Marbles, and Destiny. The Sneaking Sally is out of this world. A really great funky Sally jam to get started, followed by a vocal-jam breakdown, followed by an out of this world patient, melodic glory hose fest. Hear it!
Set two has tons to love as well. The calypso groove that emerges from the Light jam and then segues beautifully into Taste is delicious, and the Bathtub Gin probably still stands as the best 3.0 version to-date. A summer 97 throwback. Hood and then Slave encore to close? Sure. A+
This was my first west coast show and thankfully, my east coast buddies came out to meet my west coast Buddy. Special was written all over this night before the concert even started.
Musically speaking, I still put this show up as the best of 09, definitely better than any show I saw. The Sally, Light and Gin are all worthy of inclusion on anyone's best of 09 list. Even the Hood and Slave had extra mustard in the jams. The Gorge seems to bring out a much more patient and exploratory band. Lets hope they don't skip this venue in 2012.