The five years between 2004 and 2009 made for a rough era for Phish fans. The band was on hiatus, and their loyal legion of followers weren’t sure if or when the quartet from Vermont would return to the stage. Phish ultimately made up for their five-year break, however, when they made the long-awaited announcement of their return in October 2008.
Complete with a trio of reunion shows and a new studio album in tow, Phish was back.
On March 6th, 2009, Phish took the stage for the first time in five years in front of a sold-out crowd at the Hampton Coliseum. Emotions were at an all-time high, but Phish fans were able and ready to welcome the boys from Vermont back into action.
By now, most fans know that the band opened with a song not played since 2000, a song so beloved despite its current “de-songed” nature that fans were literally screaming with joy. Yes, it was indeed a glorious “Fluffhead”.
The rest of the comeback show that evening featured performances of more incredible tunes, as Phish mostly stuck to their older, live classics throughout the evening, with the exception of one cover—The Rolling Stones’ “Loving Cup”—played during the encore’s final number. The band also took advantage of the night’s celebrations by debuting a new song, “Backwards Down The Number Line”, which has since become the most commonly played song in the years that have followed. Phish would release the Joy album with “Number Line” in September 2009.
There are too many memorable moments to count from their 2009 comeback—the pause in “Divided Sky”, the jammed-out “Tweezer” flowing seamlessly into “Taste”, the “Waste > YEM” combo with the restart. It’s hard to believe this was 13 years ago considering the group’s exponentially growth since returning. If Phish was learning how to swim again in 2009, they’re Olympic-level swimmers now.
Relive the band’s epic 2009 comeback performance via the videos below.
Phish – “Fluffhead” – 3/6/09
Phish – Hampton Coliseum – 3/6/09 [Full-Show Audio]
Setlist: Phish at Hampton Coliseum, Hampton, VA – 3/6/2009
Set 1: Fluffhead, Divided Sky, Chalk Dust Torture > Sample in a Jar, Stash, I Didn’t Know, The Oh Kee Pa Ceremony > Suzy Greenberg > Farmhouse, NICU, Horn > Rift, Train Song, Water in the Sky, The Squirming Coil > David Bowie
Set 2: Backwards Down the Number Line > Tweezer -> Taste, Possum, Theme From the Bottom, First Tube > Harry Hood, Waste > You Enjoy Myself
Encore: Grind, Bouncing Around the Room, Loving Cup