Monday, June 1, 2009

Phish Kick Off Summer Tour, Release 1st Single

A reunited and reinvigorated Phish played Boston's Fenway Park last night, opening night of their highly anticipated summer tour. The Vermont based group had a remarkable run during the 90's, leaving no room for debate as to who would lead the jam band genre and continue the legacy of the Grateful Dead. Signed to Elektra in '91, each album outsold its previous and the tours expanded to arena and festivals. Before Coachella and Bonnaroo, Phish took it upon themselves, throwing elaborate festivals which included on-site camping, general stores and of course multiple sets by the band.
But as time went on, little cracks started to appear. Band members spoke openly about the responsibility of running a business. A business that supported numerous families and fans that had made the decision to religiously follow them. In late 2000, the band officially announced a hiatus, citing exhaustion and most importantly, lack of creativity. In the summer/fall of '97, Phish played arenas mixing funk, bluegrass, folk, jazz & rock, sometimes within the same song. But only 3 years later, the music sounded tired and lifeless.
In 2002, the band felt as though the time off served them well and decided to regroup, tour and release the album, Undermind. However, it was immediately evident that the band needed more time off. The album, better yet the band, didn't seem to have the energy and most of the songs resembled abbreviated demos. Their first single, "The Connection" wasn't even 2 and half minutes?!? Rumors of arguments and tantrums started to build, with news of lead singer Trey Anastasio being heavily addicted to heroine. Consequently, touring was sporadic and sub par. In 2004, they officially broke up, leaving behind more than 20 years of music.
Earlier this year, a clean and sober Trey, along with the rest of the band announced a return. They played 3 shows in Hampton, VA and we're officially back. Although the shows did show some rust, what most people were excited about was new, exciting music. Introduced on March 6th, "Backwards Down The Number Line" hinted that Phish was intent on making quality music and could still play. In a gracious gesture to the fans, Phish also offered all three shows for free on their website for a limited time. Based on the number of downloads, it's safe to say the people still love Phish.
Before the tour, Phish hit the studio with producer Steve Lillywhite to record a new album, due this summer/fall. The 1st single, Time Turns Elastic is a 13 minute epic that I can't wait to hear live. The tour will run through late summer, with local shows played at Alpine Valley and Toyota Field. From what I've heard so far, last night's show was great (copies are already circulating on the web). Here's last night's set, I'll be at the June 20th show @ Alpine, and more than likely the Toyota show as well.
Set One:
Sample In A Jar
Moma Dance
Chalk Dust Torture
Bouncing Around The Room
Poor Heart
Limb By Limb
Wading In The Velvet Sea
Down With Disease
Destiny Unbound
Character Zero
Set Two:
Bathtub Gin
David Bowie
Time Turns Elastic
Curtis Loew
You Enjoy Myself
Good Times Bad Times
Tweezer Reprise

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