Stranger in a Strange Land: Phish 8.11.09 Toyota Park, Chicago, IL

Friday, August 14, 2009

Phish 8.11.09 Toyota Park, Chicago, IL

Toyota Park 8.11.09

Set I: Kill Devil Falls, Sample in a Jar, Ocelot, Paul and Silas1, Windy City2, The Curtain With, Train Song, Gumbo, Heavy Things, Time Turns Elastic
Set II: Backwards Down The Number Line> Carini, Gotta Jibboo, Theme from the Bottom, Wilson, Also Sprach Zarathustra> Chalkdust Torture, Harry Hood, The Squirming Coil
Encore: Loving Cup

1 Last Played 11/29/1998 (206 Shows)
2 First Time Played (Original)

A Midweek, Midwestern Romp in the Windy City

The return of a Jedi: A rip roaring Trey Anastasio cuts loose and holds nothing back from the very start of set one until the final notes of the Loving Cup encore soared up into the beautiful Chicago night sky. Phish on this Tuesday evening in August delivered a fantastic night of magnificent musical soundscapes and created an amazing, thick and nasty groove for 25,000 plus people to share in and boogie down to all night long.

The opening trifecta of Kill Devil Falls, Sample in a Jar and Ocelot got the show going with the spotlight on two highly promising and enjoyable new tunes with a meaty, rocking Sample stuck in the middle that got everyone to their seats and settled in for the ride that we were embarking on at Toyota Park. Trey, from the very get go had a huge smile on his face and was rocking his Languedoc hard. The next two selections of the first set included a requested bust out of Paul and Silas (last played 11/29/98) and the debut of a new Page number fittingly titled Windy City. The latter was a progressive, rocking, bluesy number that sounded like it would have fit nicely on Page’s solo album. I almost need to listen to this track a few more times to get my head better around the tune, but it did contain some nice Page vocals and great guitar picking from Trey. Two highlights of the opening set were the second performance of The Curtain (With) since returning to the stage this year, and a fantastic run through of the Phish classic Gumbo. Both tunes were a first for me and were played spot on and just a real treat to hear. A very well played and high energy Heavy Things came next and again showed off some great guitar work by Trey taking the song to a new level. The band really was sounding great together, listening and playing off each other’s phrases and creating a wonderful musical conversation. The set closed with another new tune called Time Turns Elastic. This is the perfect set placement for this ambitious song. After this version of the new track I came away with a greater appreciation for it. It truly is Phish’s new rock opus and it is incredible to watch the four of them pull off such a complicated and intricate musical composition in the live setting right before our eyes. The ending of TTE was extended a bit and really raged. It was just a great way to end the first segment of the show.

The second set can really be broken down into two sections. The somewhat awkward, but very well played beginning of the set saw some stand out performances and more great interplay from all four members of the band. The opening Backwards Down the Number Line got things moving and was nicely extended to contain a fantastic end jam section. This segued somewhat choppily into the first Carini of the tour and Carini brought the energy level inside Toyota Park to an extreme level! This selection may have been a shout out to the person with the Carini sign up in the grandstands, but whatever its reason, this version brought the house down with an extended darker jam out to it leading into the “Farmhouse” album cut Gotta Jibboo. The jamming contained in Jibboo was a highlight of the second set, Mike, Page, Trey and Fishman were full steam ahead as one entity taking everyone along on this blissful ride with them. This first portion of the second set, though played extremely well lacked a bit of flow or connectivity that is characteristic of a second set from Phish. It was almost like the band really didn’t have a road map in place at the start and we were kind of headed in no particular direction. This soon changed as we moved into the second section of set two.

Theme From the Bottom, Wilson, 2001àChalk Dust Torture, Harry Hood, The Squirming Coil— If you would have told me that my second set would contain this run of songs I would have been ecstatic and would not have cared if anything else was even played. This stretch of the show was Phish at their finest, creating intense musical canvases and showing off their eclectic musical abilities as a band. We were all buckled up and holding on tight as Phish brought us along on this astonishing musical adventure that they were creating. All smiles and fun! Theme was beautiful and served as the perfect second set “breather” or ballad as Trey and Mike intertwined runs that filled the stadium full of sound and joy. Wilson then revealed his ugly head which kept the energy level of the crowd and band cranked up and when they dropped into 2001 it as lift off! A stand out version of Also Sprach Zarathustra had everyone dancing their asses off and I thought maybe we would get a transition into a Toyota Park Ghost but instead Trey and company ripped into a surprise second set Chalk Dust Torture!! Chalk Dust was ragging and contained a tight jam. Again the energy inside the stadium was kept at an extremely high level with this selection. Yes, Harry Hood! Probably my favorite Phish song, so I was delighted to hear the opening funky notes to this classic ring out into the night air. This version was very well played as the band slowly worked and built the song up to its high peak; in the section before the closing “you can feel good” part the band took a somewhat crazy turn, mixing things up slightly before seamlessly dropping back into the familiar closing Hood groove. Thinking that Hood may just be the end of the set I was thrilled when the opening of The Squirming Coil began. This was a very powerful rendition of Coil and contained some soaring and eloquent piano work from Page to beautifully end the set.

The classic Stones cover Loving Cup encore sent everyone back out into the night and to the lots happy to have just witnessed such a magical musical experience that only Phish can deliver. High on the fact that Phish is back and sounding absolutely phenomenal for us all too once again share. Tuesday night saw Mike filling the stadium with his thunderous bass, Fishman keeping magnificent time all over his drum kit, Page being the master that he is on the ivories and Trey absolutely shredding and nailing everything played. As apparent from the Chicago show and the incredible start of the second leg of the summer tour, it is very clear that the force once again is strong.

-Jeff Klenske-


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