, attached to 2009-10-31

Review by jadedforbin

jadedforbin FESTIVAL 8
Review by D.C. Smith (clforbin2001)
Minneapolis, MN 11-5-09

As anyone who knows attended, FESTIVAL 8 was the cap-off of Phish's triumphant return from self imposed exile (hmmm, wonder if they thought this same thing when picking the album).

The festival site is the best EVER...period. Anyone who doesn't believe me wasn't there. No possibility of rain, no 3 foot deep mud, just perfect; warm to hot during the day and cool and beautiful in the evening. Those who honestly complained about the heat must have missed Summer 99, cuz that was ten times worse.


SET I ("Uno")

Some dismissed this first night a "warm up"; which in some ways, it is. But choice jams like the semi-ambient "Stash" and the best "Time Turns Elastic" yet made even this first set seem special to me. For the (few) folks that don't like the new songs, maybe this set did seem a "warm-up". But I loved that they came right out and played a bunch of new tunes - the lyrics to the "Joy" songs have deeper meaning than most of the band's catalogue, and even if I am in the minority, I nominate "Elastic" as THE new first-set closer.

SET II ("Dos")

I don't know why, but they were a little off on PYITE...the intro was pretty sloppy, with Trey even in the wrong key for a bit. After that though, this set gets going quick...anyone who bitches about the list need only look at it on paper - minus "Joy", that's straight Fall-97 song choices, folks. And if you don't like "Joy", consider that it is basically the band's love song to the fans, and maybe you'll change your tune; personally I love it. Wolfman > Piper was spacy but not super-extended; their new sound overall is a bit stripped down from the delay loops of the late 90s, and I don't think they really WANT to do a bunch of 25 minute "alien lazer" jams anymore. Bowie was pretty standard but very tight and energetic. Hood was interesting, as it has been since the "re-return", lacking the old guitar punch at the end but gaining in sentimental value with every performance. It just reminds us again that this is a finite thing. We can feel "good about Hood" right now...no one knows for how long it will last, so enjoy it and savor it.


SET I ("Tres")

Possibly one of the tightest first sets of all of 2009. Divided was amazing in the hot sun. Mid-set Killdevil, Coil and Gin are nice. The Possum doesn't stand up to 8-2-98 Deer Creek (but I don't think any version since does, if you know one let me know). Then they closed with the classic first set capper, "Antelope", a tight, fairly short, yet fiery version. Hella good. I mentioned to my wife how it was cool how they played the new ("Elastic" on 10-30) vs. the old ("Antelope" on 10-31) for the first two first-set closers of the event.

SET II ("Quatro")

"Exile on Main Street". Not my first choice for the album, yet the band completely MURDERED every lick and vocal on this double LP. I loved it despite it being perhaps my last choice of albums for them to cover. So damn well played. Irresistable. I pick "Torn and Frayed" and "Shine a Light" to appear in future sets (perhaps this fall?)

SET III ("Cinco")

Best set of the phest for me personally. "Number Line" is really turning into a monster set opener. Transition to Fluff is nice, version is tight with some little flubs (find me a post-hiatus Fluff with no fuck-ups, it doesn't exist) and great energy. Ghost is best version of 2009 IMHO, having listened to all the others. Length isn't everything; this one is the grooviest. Circus, to me, is always a throwaway, but w/e it's their show they can play what they like. YEM to close was beast - tight throughout, no noticeable flubs, and perhaps the best version since "Cheesecake" (if you don't know what I'm talking about, I am sorry). If anyone honestly complains about this setlist....check yourself, it's possible you DON'T REALLY LIKE PHISH (Haters take note).


SET I ("Seis")

The first ever acoustic set for the band and a landmark moment in Phish history. Many nice little tunes that have fallen by the wayside, such as "Mountains in the Mist", "Bri & Rob", the slow version of "Water" to open (SOOO much better than the fast version, guys, keep it up!) "Curtain With" puts the Coventry version to absolute shame (where it frankly belongs). And who would have called "McGrupp", the biggest bustout of the entire fest, to come in the acoustic set? This was my first, and it sounded very natural unamplified. Throw in a TRIPLE ENCORE ON THE FIRST SET OF A THREE SET SHOW and this really is just epic.

SET II ("Siete")

For some reason, I found this to possibly be the most uneven set of the entire weekend. I liked the song choices but to be honest Trey was a little off, and sometimes a lot off. And I love Reba so much, it hurts when they totally nail the composed segment then botch the transition to the jam (which is so much easier than everything they just played lol). Guelah was a nice bustout but semi-flubbed. Melt was nice but semi-tame (as it has been all year).

SET III ("THE OCHO" or just "Ocho" for short)

As with Set II, this last set on 11-1 had some uneven-ness in the playing. Whenever they transition out of Tweezer I'd just prefer for them to keep going at it and really take it out there. That being said, this "Tweezer > Maze" is one of the tightest transitions since the "re-return". For whatever reason, the next four songs all seemed out of place here, and the playing was subpar in both Free and Limb by Limb. Fishman didn't even try to do the drum outtro. But the boys brought it back home in style with the un-callable, unpredictable "Mike's>2001>Light>Sick Alien Hose Jam>Slave". Holy fucking shit. Who would have called Light for the highlight of the entire last two sets? If you don't believe me, listen to it. All the people calling for 97-era space jams can STFU right now.

Add in "Grind", the ultra-rare "Esther" and Tweeprise, and there you have it. Anyone who says this festival wasn't seriously fucking sick are out of their minds. Or maybe they're just too jaded by memories to enjoy the band anymore. Ah well, more for the rest of us - I see Cinci tickets for 25 bucks on stubhub. I'm fucking going. :)


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