[Welcome To Weekly Catch With Osiris! A weekly series brought to you from the team at Osiris. Each Wednesday we're going to bring you a historic Phish show from that week with some commentary. Our goal is to go beyond official releases and well-known shows to bring you some of the overlooked gems throughout Phish history. If you like what you find, we'd encourage you to check out the assortment of podcasts at the Osiris! This week's catch comes from Brian Brinkman of Beyond The Pond.]
Ten years ago this week Phish kicked off their first full tour of 3.0. It's an odd moment of reflection. Back in June 2009 there were lingering questions about Phish's ability to recapture the magic of their peak era. You could still see 1.0 in the rearview mirror, as well as the darkest days of Phish from 2003-2004. Following the Hampton shows in March there were questions about the long-term viability of the band as a creative force. The three reunion shows were more or less recitles, lacking the surprises and on-the-spot creativity that had long defined the band at their best. Fenway's tour opener felt similar in many ways, a vanilla welcome-back that, aside from the "Tweezer -> Light" and the debut of "Time Turns Elastic," felt like hitting shuffle on many of Phish's 1990's studio releases. It would thus be night one in Jones Beach - a venue the band hadn't played since 1995 - where the familiarity and newness of Phish 3.0 would come into focus.
The show started with the first show-opening-pairing of "Runaway Jim" and "Foam" since June 13, 1995. A sign, like so many others in the early days of the era, that the band was honoring the best of their past & were as keenly aware of their past glory as their fans were. The band immediately sounds comfortable & at ease. The nerves from Hampton gone, the thrill of a tour opener behind them, for perhaps the first time since June 2004, the band was just playing a gig.
The debut of "Stealing Time From The Faulty Plan" is well-received and the song exudes its post-rock core and showcases the promise it still hasn't fulfiled. "Cities" and "Reba" both serve as creative highlights & showcase why both were featured prominently in some of the biggest shows of 2009 - 11/24, 12/3, 12/4, 12/29. The first set closed with the first "If I Could" since June 28, 2000 - 103 shows - and is equal parts gorgeous and explosive in its emotional release. A unique set closer, the tweaking of the setlist to find a groove has begun.
Understandably so, June 2009 isn't exactly a revered period for Phish. As the tour would develop, the task of calling upon nightly jams, crafting fluid setlists, incorporating new songs, all the while adjusting to life as an older, sober band on the road, proved to be more than the band was capable of overcoming. This would prove to be true throughout the second set, which, aside from a spectacular jamming segment, would be a sign of challenges to come as the band sought to recapture what made them so special during their peak.
The set began promisngly enough with "Mike's Song" which raged for eight minutes, looked like it might diverge into the unknown before "Simple" barged right in. Now "Simple" is far from being out of place in "Mike's," but here felt a touch ripchordy. Similarly, as "Simple" sounded as though it may find new pasteures to jam in, "Wolfman's Brother" barged on in, and "Weekapaug Groove" barged in on it. It was a suite of introuders that all felt rushed and lacked the room to breathe that tends to make these kinds of suites so special when they're delivered right. It was a foreshadowing of the battles Phish would fight for much of the next three years as they worked to regain their comfort on stage & with each other.
The set and the show peaked with a bizarre take on "Harry Hood." Abandoning the traditional rise of the song, the band employed an ambient style that displayed a sense of fearlessness to their playing. While many would argue in the days following the jam that it was a failed attempt, the benefit of hindsight allows us the opportunity to hear the long-term impact this jam had on the band. Whereas so much of 2009-2011 would be defined by their inability to take nightly risks, here was a band, just four shows into their return, pushing one of their best songs into relatively uncharted territory. "Harry Hood" would return to being a traditional set closer within a few shows, but here, they channeled 2.0 in effort to continue discovering whatever new sounds might be kicking around in their material.
The show ended on a humorous note as Trey asked the crowd why they hell they weren't playing the following night. With two more shows scheduled at Jones Beach for 6/4 and 6/5, it was another off aspect of the early 3.0 era. The band simply couldn't get going. Soon enough however, though there would be ups and downs to come, the band would continue to chip away and uncover new sounds and creative pathways that would separate the era from the two that preceded it, and put the band on a pathway towards longevity.
Thanks for reading and hopefully you're enjoying this series. Weekly Catch with Osiris will be taking a short hiatus during Phish's 2019 Summer Tour. We'll be back after Alpine for more deep dives into Phish's history!
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March 27, 1993
25 years ago
Set 2: Buried Alive > Halley's Comet > It's Ice > Bouncing Around the Room, Chalk Dust Torture, The Man Who Stepped Into Yesterday > Avenu Malkenu > The Man Who Stepped Into Yesterday > Mike's Song > I Am Hydrogen > Weekapaug Groove, Hold Your Head Up > Cracklin' Rosie > Hold Your Head Up, Poor Heart > Golgi Apparatus
 Beginning featured Trey on acoustic guitar.
 Fish on trombone.
 All Fall Down signal in intro.
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