Relative to most of the shows before this tour closer, it featured some real fun improvisation–a real breath of fresh air for people worried if Phish would get their stage swagger back. On Sunday, June 21st, Father’s Day, Phish took the stage as the sun finally hid itself behind the massive lawn. There was a large metal tub at the front of the stage as Phish walked out. Trey quickly opened up the show with their elusive classic, Brother. One by one, the Phish band members’ children walked out and got into the tub–like the Brother lyrics “someone’s jumping in the tub with your brother!”. I remember thinking to myself how dangerous it could have been if some crazy fan threw a beer bottle of something else at one of the kids, needless to say it went smoothly and enjoyed by all in attendance. After the song, Trey introduced all the children and, sticking with the brother theme, launched into a standard 2009 Wolfman’s Brother (standard as in around 10 min, thick at beginning, rocking by end). There were a lot of signs floating above the heads of phans on this gorgeous and hot Wisconsin day, one on neon orange paper saying “Happy Father’s Day”, another with “Sneakin’ Sally” and “Funky Bitch” on alternate sides.
After Wolfman’s Brother, Trey pointed at a sign being held in front of him and commented on how he has seen it the past couple of shows–out came the Funky Bitch. The last time Funky Bitch was played was at Alpine Valley in 2004–so it seemed fitting to bust out the Son Seals cover here.
Before there was a moment of silence after the well played Funky Bitch came Divided Sky–Played pretty well, however lacking the amazing trilling and powerful drum rolls that usually comes with the end of the song. That being said, not many 2009 Divided Skies are up to Phish 1.0 snuff anyhow.
After a string of standard songs–Joy, Gotta Get Back on the Train, Taste, Poor Heart, The Horse>Silent in the Morning–came one of the night’s highlights. The soft and dramatic notes of The Man Who Steppped Into Yesterday appeared. The last time fans got this treat was 7/7/2003 in AZ. The crowd was very vocal (as you can hear on the recordings) about their pleasure of hearing this. Shortly after the reprise they played Time Turns Elastic, giving everyone 17.5 minutes to talk about how cool the first set was.
Set 1: Brother, Wolfman’s Brother, Funky Bitch > The Divided Sky, Joy, Back on the Train, Taste, Poor Heart, The Horse > Silent in the Morning, The Man Who Stepped Into Yesterday > Avenu Malkenu > The Man Who Stepped Into Yesterday, Time Turns Elastic
Set 2: Crosseyed and Painless -> Down with Disease > Bug > Piper > Wading in the Velvet Sea, Boogie On Reggae Woman, Slave to the Traffic Light
Encore: Grind, Frankenstein
Set break was electric with anticipation as to what Phish would open up the second set with, seeing as it would be the last set they would play for over a month. It’s was dark out when the house lights shut down, the crowd roared and POP–Crosseyed and Painless, a song they have not played since almost exactly 5 years earlier at Deer Creek. This made a lot of people happy, it wasn’t a typical Down With Disease or Rock ‘n Roll opener (that we got more than our share of in the following second leg and Fall Tour soon thereafter). The place just broke down–after listening to the recording again recently, I really have come to enjoy this version. Out of the gates, the jam has a pretty humble beginning. However, it builds up linearly in a direct fashion with Trey playing a lot of consecutive notes and at a faster than moderate pace. Page fits in nicely behind him adding a lot of his own trilling and rocking notes/chords. The jam certainly comes to a peak, however it’s not a tension/release peak–as I just mentioned, it’s more of a linear journey upwards. Here is where it leaves up before sinking down into psychedelic space (don’t listen here if you have not heard the show yet and plan on downloading it at the bottom)–.
Out from Crosseyed and Painless’ murk comes the intro to Down With Disease. At just over thirteen minutes, it’s a very solid version that keeps the energy high before snapping into Bug.
Out of the end of Bug comes Piper’s quiet introduction. This version of Piper is another one of the night’s highlights. One of the more interesting versions of the song in 2009, this Piper gets very improvisational for only clocking in at thirteen minutes. The latter half of the jam features a very psychedelic segment with a lot of drum rolls following Trey bending notes over and over again. While this is all going on, Kuroda has some of the most ridiculous lights moving overhead. Before getting into real weird Phish territory, Trey does his final “bend” and uses an effect that sounds like he sends off his guitar’s sound as a wave traveling to the back of the lawn and up over the hill.
Watch clip to see what I’m talking about.
Out of Piper’s discombobulated and psychedelic improv emerged Page’s piano, eventually going into Wading in the Velvet Sea. There are three occasions I can think of in 2009 where Page took it upon himself to exit a jam and go into a song of his choice. The other two times were at Red Rocks on 7/31 during Piper>A Day in the Life and at Festival 8 on 10/30 during Prince Caspian>Wolfman’s Brother. All of these turned out to be a great partnership of songs.
The second set closed out with a short and bass driven Boogie on Reggae Woman (no Miami version) and Slave to the Traffic Light.
Phish came out for the encore–after yet another version of Grind, Page, Mike and Trey went to the back of the stage and came back all wearing new instruments. Page, in his Key-tar that he first donned at Hampton earlier in the year, Trey in a never seen before 5 neck guitar that looked ridiculous and Mike in a new bass that was shaped like a huge ball of fire. They ended the first leg of 2009’s Summer Tour with a Frankenstein about as goofy as it gets.