Weekend Nuggets: Old School

Posted in Uncategorized with the tags on November 29th, 2008 by Mr.Miner


4.1.86 Hunt’s, Burlington, VT < LINK

Phish circa '86 - The Phish Book

Phish circa 1986

I: Quinn the Eskimo, Have Mercy > Harry Hood > Dave’s Energy Guide, The Pendulum*, Jam#, Icculus, You Enjoy Myself

II: Help on the Way > Slipknot! > AC/DC Bag, McGrupp and the Watchful Hosemasters, Alumni Blues, Dear Mrs. Reagan, Not Fade Away^

*Trey says, “That was the Bob Dylan Band. Don’t ask which one is Bob, though.” #With Zenzile, a poet from South Africa who may have been a student at Goddard College. ^Featured members of The Joneses, with whom Phish alternated sets.

10.31.86 Sculpture Room @ Goddard College, Plainfield, VT < LINK

I: Mustang Sally, Camel Walk, Golgi Apparatus, Slave to the Traffic Light, Melt the Guns, Dave’s Energy Guide, Sneakin’ Sally Through the Alley, Halley’s Comet, Back Porch*, Shaggy Dog, Fluffhead

II: Jam > AC/DC Bag, Swing Low Sweet Chariot Jam, Peaches en Regalia, David Bowie, Have Mercy > Harry Hood, Sanity, Skin It Back > Icculus, Alumni Blues

*Max Creek cover.

We are taking it WAY back for this weekend’s selections!  We find ourselves in 1986, on two special nights of the year- April Fool’s Day and Halloween.  The April Fool’s show contains the musical pun “Help > Slip > Bag,” as well as the Buddy Holly cover, “Not Fade Away.”  Early classics “Harry Hood, “You Enjoy Myself” and the old school rarities “Dear Mrs. Reagan” and “Alumni Blues” also grace the setlist.  This is classic stop amidst the genesis of Phish.  The Halloween show is much Phishier featuring many more old-school classics such as Slave, Bowie, Halley’s, “Fluffhead” and beyond.  This show is an early gem, foreshadowing the madness that would come in the future on All Hallow’s Eve.



rumor2With so much excitement in the air around next summer, the rumors continue to roll in.  I have heard a few new things recently.  First, expect a month long tour mostly in June, including two nights at Alpine at the end of the month (6/25 & 6/26?).  An appearance at the mega-sized Rothbury Festival in Michigan seems like it will compliment the band’s slot at Bonnaroo.  Obviously, rumors are just rumors until we see dates on Phish.com, but to summarize what has been reported :

-Red Rocks 4 nights around July 4th

-The Gorge 3 nights

-Shoreline 3 nights

-Alpine 2 nights

-Bonnaroo and Rothbury

-Approximately a month long tour anchored in June



“Bathtub Gin” Halloween 1989 – (Absurd Trey Footage)

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“McGrupp” 2.14.91 State Theatre, Ithaca, NY

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Miner’s Picks: Turkey Music ’08

Posted in Uncategorized with the tags on November 27th, 2008 by Mr.Miner
11.28.03 Nassau

11.28.03 Nassau

Thanksgiving has arrived, marking the beginning of the holiday season and a very Phishy time of year.  So many storied Phish anniversaries occur this weekend.  Some of the most memorable are the Worcester runs of  ’97 and ’98, along with the epic long weekend in ’94 spanning half the country from UIC > Minneapolis > Bozeman, and ’96’s run from Seattle > Cow Palace > Sacramento.  While celebrating these anniversaries and the holidays, you might as well celebrate that there are only 100 days left until Phish returns! Needless to say, we all have a lot to be thankful for this season.

With everyone busy with family, friends, football, and food, I figured I’d go light on today’s post and just provide some great music for the holiday.  I’ve selected some choice cuts that should go especially well with dark meat and canned cranberry sauce! The selections, and a blurb about each, are below.  Enjoy your turkey (or tofurky) and Happy Thanksgiving!

1. Bathtub Gin 6.30.99 Bonner Springs, KS

Kicking off the first show of Summer ’99, Phish wasted no time in giving the audience a preview of the insanity that would follow all tour long.  Opening with not just a Gin, but an improvisational beast, Phish introduced new styles that would characterize the year. This jam moved through multiple feels, making significant stops in groovy, ambient, and transcendent realms.  This pretty much knocked the socks off everyone at Sandstone, as this was the first Phish song performed since since New Years.

2,3. Ghost > Wilson 12.5.97 CSU Convocation Center, Cleveland, OH


11.29.03 Philly - photo: Piranha

This segment was the opener of the first show of an other worldly weekend in Fall ’97 that followed with Detroit and Dayton.  This “Ghost” got things underway quickly with thick grooves over a slower tempo, allowing the musical canvas to breathe and inviting the band to collectively crush it.  Trey gets into some quality rhythmic playing throughout this version, but also takes some perfectly improvised solos, sounding like he is leading a march of soldiers into battle.  This one isn’t talked about too much, but it is a superb version.  A segue into “Wilson” cemented the Phishy and militant feel of this opening portion.

4,5. Reba > Fast Enough For You 7.16.98 The Gorge

Taking on the vast and mellow vibe of its surrounding, this “Reba” settles into a unique funk groove that typifies the feeling of the moment that was Summer ’98.  One of those times where Phish was playing nature, or vice versa, this version diverges from standard form to congruently fit the majesty and laid back atmosphere of the Gorge.  Not ending, Phish continued the jam just until the sun dipped below the horizon, at which point they moved into a beautiful and appropriate “Fast Enough For You.”  This segment is summer Phish at its greatest.

6. Stash 9.9.99 GM Place, Vancouver, BC

The only real highlight of the first set of Fall ’99, this “Stash” is one of the more overtly psychedelic pieces of music they played all show.  Featuring layers upon layers of ambient effects, this jam built into a quintessential ’99 soundscape of seriously menacing music.  This one is a diamond in the rough, as the night is always revered for its standout second set.  Put this one on late at night.

7. Tweezer 9.23.00 Allstate Arena, Rosemont, IL


11.29.03 Philly - photo: Craig

This was the long awaited first “Tweezer” of Fall ’00.  Waiting until the eleventh show of tour to drop it, this one was long overdue and highly anticipated, as you can hear from the roar of the crowd as it starts.  It did not disappoint.  Traveling through some classic “Tweezer” territory at the onset of the jam, Phish took the second half of the jam out to more exploratory and dirty places.  Locking into psychedelic bass-led drone pattern, the band uses deep distortion and delay to create machine like textures.  ’00 Represent!

8,9,10. Halley’s > Simple > Walk Away 11.11.98 Van Andel Arena, Grand Rapids, MI

This Halley’s is simply stupendous.  Almost a half an hour of madness-inducing music, this version leaves the funk behind for some high-octane shredding.  Bouncing musical ideas around like lottery balls, this jam takes some focus to keep up with.  Unrelenting for the first section, the band does settle into some groovier playing that sees Trey spitting sublime full speed rhythm licks.  Passing through multiple improvisational sections to reach “Simple,” including a beautiful ambient portion, this Halley’s is one for the ages.

11. Slave to the Traffic Light 11.18.98 Bi-Lo Center, Greenville, SC

In a mid-week out of the way show, Phish threw down a huge second set.  Part of a late set “Slave, Fluffhead” combination, things couldn’t get much more uplifting.  A gorgeous version played to a half-empty venue that many walked into without having their ticket checked, this defining atmosphere is one place where Phish does special things.  A tender, slow and delicate build to a soaring peak, this Slave is a personal favorite.

12,13. Piper > What’s the Use 9.11.00 Great Woods Mansfield, MA


12.1.03 Albany - photo: Staunchy

The middle section of a tremendously coherent set of music, this “Piper” is typical of the many breakneck-paced standout versions of ’00- until about half way through.  After the initial psychedelic sprint, the band, led by Mike, broke down into a much slower tempo that proved to be the perfect juxtaposition to the preceding insanity.  Carrying out this slower jam that one would never guess to be “Piper,” the band sits in some bass heavy dance rhythms for an extended period.  Growing more ambient as it goes, the jam eventually slides into a the stunning post-apocalyptic jam-composition, “What’s the Use?”

14. You Enjoy Myself 11.14.98 The Crown, Cincinnati, OH

The Cincy YEM- one of the most interesting YEM’s from Fall ’98.  Right out of the trampoline section, Trey loops some rhythm chords and then begins “telling stories” via his solo on top of his own licks.  Resulting in some infectious dance music, this version had the house bumpin’ right throughout its unique jam.  A dark-horse version from a fall filled with so much amazing Phish, this version is sure to put a smile on your face whether you’ve heard it or not.

15. Down With Disease 5.21.00 Radio City Music Hall, NYC

5.21.00 Radio City Soundcheck

5.21.00 Radio City Soundcheck

The first show after Big Cypress was as hard of a ticket as any in Phish history to that point.  As Phish entered the legendary New York venue to follow up their Everglades adventure, everybody wanted in the 5,900 person theatre.  Batting second in the second set, this blistering Disease just about peeled the paint of the Radio City’s walls.  The energy in the room matched that flowing from the stage, as the highlight of the show filled the hall with enough adrenaline to kick start a dead horse.  A well-known version, this is another gem from the underrated year of 2000.

16. Drowned 12.3.97 The Spectrum, Philadelphia, PA

Smack dab in the swamp funk that dominated Fall ’97, this “Drowned” set the tone for the rest of the danceadelic evening.  Moving away from its characteristic uptempo rock textures into a Phished out groove-fest, this version illustrates how every song was getting the James Brown treatment during this superbly fun two-night stand.  One of the standout jams from the show, this longer version laid the foundation for the continuous flow of funk for the duration of the show.

17,18. 2001 > Velvet Sea 1.1.00 Big Cypress

Quite possibly the greatest finish to any show, this combination of songs reached the spectrum of human emotion under the first sunrise of the new millennium.  With the emotions of all so deeply touched by this epic evening, Phish brought out the first ever sunrise 2001, welcoming us to a new age.  After a surreal dance session, the band wound down with one of their most beautiful and poignant compositions, “Wading In the Velvet Sea.”  Overwhelmingly majestic at this point in time, there was no better song Phish could have played to capture the feeling of the moment.  This is why they are Phish.  As Trey’s solo dripped over us, it was a lullaby reawakening us to the wonders and spectacle of life.  Cleansed, renewed, and entering a new segment of history, Phish capped the most magical evening of their career in the only way possible.



1. Bathtub Gin 6.30.99

2,3. Ghost > Wilson 12.5.97

4,5. Reba > Fast Enough For You 7.16.98

6. Stash 9.9.99

7. Tweezer 9.23.00

8,9,10. Halleys’s > Simple > Walk Away 11.11.98

11. Slave to the Traffic Light 11.18.98

12,13. Piper > What’s the Use 9.11.00

14. YEM 11.14.98

15. Down With Disease 5.21.00

16. Drowned 12.3.97

17,18. 2001 > Velevet Sea 1.1.00


Gamehendge: More Than Music

Posted in Uncategorized with the tags , on November 26th, 2008 by Mr.Miner

So many aspects of their career made Phish more than just a band.  A combination of playfulness, inside jokes, and connection to their fans created a community around Phish from early on.  One of the distinct factors contributing to this phenomenon was the myth of Gamehendge.  Written as Trey’s senior thesis at Goddard College in 1987, the songs comprising this story soon became the foundation for early Phish.  As the band emerged from their college days, playing less covers, Gamehendge became central to the Phish live experience.  As fans learned about Phish’s fantasy land of lizards and multibeasts, they felt like they were being let in on something different, something special.

phishplateBrewing with unlimited inspiration at such a young age, Trey scribed The Man Who Stepped Into Yesterday without knowing it would soon define the acid rock of early Phish.  Gamehendge was not only significant for its brilliant music, but for the consecrated place it represented in the fan community.  As people began to see Phish regularly and picked up the story of Gamehendge, a common reference point in the Phish experience was born.  Creating a narrative for all fans to latch on to, this mythical place catapulted Phish into the realm of the sacred for their loyal followers.  The Phish community began to form around fans’ connection to this story- its characters, its songs, and most significantly, its literary themes woven throughout.

AC/DC Bag - The Character

AC/DC Bag - The Character

While the story of Colonel Forbin climbing a mountain to meet Icculus and re-capture the Helping Friendly Book may seem like a childhood fable, many implicit themes spoke to the left-leaning Phish audience.  Gamehendge was a communal utopia where the Lizards lived in peace and harmony with nature and each other.  These were fundamental values of the hippie counter-culture that populated the crowd.  The Lizards attained bliss through living by the code of Icculus’ book; by not over-complicating life with their own desires, they lived as one, free from corruption.  Freedom in simplicity, a cornerstone of the enlightened path, defined the life of Lizards, and represents what so many of us chase every day.  Yet, this Edenic society is taken over by a human traveler, the evil Wilson, who steals the book and locks it away from the Lizards, representing man’s conquest over the natural world.  Illustrating Trey’s personal ideals as a college student, fans felt a connectedness to these lessons in Gamehendge, that when combined with the live experience and Trey’s attention to the story’s every detail, Phish became more than just music.  The freedom from worry and focus on simplicity were the exact feelings we we had at shows, creating a magical congruency between what we felt and what we heard.  All of these aspects of Gamehendge helped create a sacred space for fans, both literally and figuratively.

liz1Similar to Jerry Garcia and Robert Hunters use of Americana myth to inspire some of their most revered epochs, Trey used his own, far more playful perspective, to evoke Phish’s central values via Gamehendge.  Like the tribulations of August West in “Wharf Rat” and the glorified bygone era defined by Workingman’s Dead, Trey created a parallel reality with reptile inhabitants, a beautiful infiltrator, Tela, and the heroic knight, Rutherford the Brave.  As the Weir / Barlow songwriting team added the spice of the old West to the Dead with such tunes as “Mexicali Blues,” and “Black Throated Wind,” the mythology embraced by Dead culture grew deeper rooted in the country’s past.  Yet, the myth of Gamehendge remained purely allegorical and certainly more light-hearted . The overthrow of Wilson by Col. Forbin and the Lizards is followed by the traitorous actions of Errand Wolfe, who keeps the Book for himself, never returning it to the Lizards, becoming the next dictator of the Gamehendge.  Rife with political allusions, and human lessons, Gamehendge was Trey and Phish’s way to work meaning into their music.  While wholly different that the mythology of the Dead, the dynamic is parallel.

In the end, the moral of the story remain tucked in Icculus’ word’s to Forbin’s atop the mountain:

But I warn you that all knowledge seeming innocent and pure
Becomes a deadly weapon in the hands of avarice
And greed

A lyric that seems incredibly appropriate in this day and age, the timelessness of Gamehendge’s lessons is ironic.  In the end humans corrupted the natural world of Gamehendge, upsetting the states of Llamas, Spotted Stripers, Multibeats and beyond.  One can take the comparison to our real world as far as they’d like.

lizardWritten as a psychedelic fairy tale, The Man Who Stepped Into Yesterday grew into something far larger than Trey could have imagined.  It became the ethos of a community; so far that seventeen years later, when Trey had to call it quits due to his personal battles, he was defamed as “Wilson” by many bitter fans.  What started out in a college dorm room, finished at Coventry, and is about to start again.  A door will appear in mid-air, and we will have the same choice that Colonel Forbin did- and I think we will all make the same decision.




This is the original recording of Trey’s senior thesis from Goddard in 1987.  Complete with the full story narration that is woven in pieces into live shows, this will take you on an hour long journey through Gamehendge. If you ever had any questions about the story, this will answer them

images73.12.88 Nectar’s, Burlington, VT SBD < LINK

The first-ever live performance of Gamehendge at the place where it all started.  Below is a cast of characters, thanks to Wikipedeia.

  1. The Lizards (the race of people who inhabit Gamehendge and are dependent on the writings of the Helping Friendly Book for their survival)
  2. Wilson (a traveller who arrives in Gamehendge and eventually captures the Helping Friendly Book from the Lizards and locks it in the top of his castle, thus becoming the sole ruler of Gamehendge)
  3. Colonel Forbin (a retired colonel who embarks on a mission to rescue the Helping Friendly Book from the tower of Wilson’s castle)
  4. McGrupp (Colonel Forbin’s dog)
  5. Rutherford the Brave (head knight of the Lizards who leads a team of allies to help overthrow Wilson)
  6. Tela (member of the allies and Colonel Forbin’s object of desire who is eventually revealed as a spy for Wilson)
  7. Errand Wolfe (member of the allies who keeps the book for himself after overthrowing Wilson instead of returning it to the Lizards, thus declaring himself ruler)
  8. Roger Wolfe (member of the allies, Errand’s son)
  9. Mr. Palmer (Wilson’s accountant who is hanged by the AC/DC Bag in the town square after he is caught embezzling money to fund the allies)
  10. The AC/DC Bag (a robotic hangman with a bag on its head used to hang traitors and enemies of Wilson)
  11. The Unit Monster (a giant monster who is a member of the allies and is killed along with Tela for spying)
  12. Spotted Stripers (Three legged messenger birds sent by Tela the spy to reveal information to Wilson about the activities of the allies)
  13. Multibeasts (giant four-legged creatures that are used as transportation by the people of Gamehendge, much like horses or camels. They have long curly hair and splotches of brown and white color.)
  14. The Famous Mockingbird (a bird who is sent by Icculus to fly to the very top of Wilson’s castle and retrieve the Helping Friendly Book for Colonel Forbin)
  15. The Sloth (a hitman who is hired to murder Wilson after the Helping Friendly Book is rescued)
  16. Icculus (the Supreme God of the Sky and author of the Helping Friendly Book)
  17. Llamas (giant animals used by the Lizards in combat; complete with huge guns on each side)
  18. Jimmy (young resident of Gamehendge)
  19. Poster Nutbag (The cat owned by Jimmy; always dies some form of death towards the end of the song ‘Harpua’, an ever-changing narration sometimes taking place in Gamehenge)
  20. Harpua (A mean bulldog owned by an old man who was banished from Jimmy’s village; invariably ends up in a terrible fight with Poster Nutbag, usually resulting in Poster’s death, sometimes set in Gamehenge.)
Tags: ,

From the Bottom, From the Top

Posted in Uncategorized with the tags , on November 25th, 2008 by Mr.Miner

Along with the big guns that always ensured a large section of intense improv, Phish has so many great songs that were not always stretched out.  Being Phish and always prone to taking musical risks, from time to time they extended one of their songs, turning it into something out of the ordinary.  Sometimes staying within the songs’ chord progressions, and other times taking them out, these jams always took on a sense of excitement because you never knew they were coming.  “Theme From the Bottom” was one of these songs.

picture man

"Theme" Hampton '03 - photo: picture man

Debuted at the Lowell, MA show of 5.16.95 along with several other new songs, Theme soon became a crowd favorite.  Combining aquatic symbolism for life, poignant lyrics, and infectious melodic hooks, this song about friendship and the unknown became a staple of Phish setlists in years to come.  With a delicate composed section and an soaring emotional guitar solo “jam,” few were disappointed when Fishman’s shimmering cymbal hits initiated this one.

When the band decided to use Theme as a vehicle for improvisation, the resulting textures from this blissful song varied with the times.  Below are six versions of Theme that move beyond its standard structure to varying degrees.  When listening, you’ll notice how the sound of the each jam is definitive of Phish’s point of sonic evolution at that time.  Ranging from 1995 to 2003, these are some of the most interesting versions of “Theme” you’ll find.

6.22.95 Finger Lakes PAC  Canandaigua, NY II

Tim Mosenfelder

1995 - photo: Tim Mosenfelder

Only the seventh Theme ever played, this one opened the second set of this epic show known for its 40+ minute Tweezer that slid out of this Theme’s amorphous post-song jam.  The actual Theme jam features some ripping Page piano work coupled with some inspired soling by Trey, forming an extended and soupy version- akin to many ’95 “Free”s.  While the jam grows into some spirited full-band shredding, the most exploratory part of this Theme comes as Trey sustains the ending note of the song and the band builds an amorphous space-scape of sound around it.  This post-peak jam develops into some quintessential Summer ’95 abstract psychedelic madness.  Eventually gaining momentum, heading towards the opening lick of Tweezer, Fishman adds an aggressive beat and the band is off into an exciting second set that would read “Theme > Tweezer > Tweezer Reprise.”

LISTEN TO 6.22.95 FINGER LAKES THEME >JAM NOW! (Roll over link and press play!)

(The Tweezer lick slowly builds right as this track cuts off)


11.27.96 Key Arena Seattle I


1996 - photo: phish.net

In this version which emerges out of “Free,” the band delves into some darker exploration outside of the song’s melodic theme.  Notice the slower pace of the grooves as the band is amidst their transformation to the style of 1997.  This version features some wailing Trey work, as well as precise soling.  Almost sounding like a “Tweezer” at times, the band finally resolves to more melodic territory as they re-enter the song’s peak.  A concise, yet excellent version.



7.21.97 Virginia Beach, VA II

photo - photorazzi

photo - photorazzi

In the historic first show of the US Summer ’97 tour, Phish went big on Theme in the second set.  A twenty minute version, this Theme was an outright highlight of the show.  Right away you will notice the incredibly slowed down playing that characterized the year.  Giving the music more space to breathe, Trey is able to use shorter phrasing and let his notes carry over multiple beats.  Using this more sparse style of soloing, Trey, Page and Mike all compliment each other much more than playing “on top” of each other.

Leroi Moore

Leroi Moore

As the songs triumphant composed jam came to a peak, Trey began hitting some rhythm licks that initiated a transition into deep Summer ’97 funk.  As this Theme becomes a dance party, the band welcomed the late LeRoi Moore from The Dave Matthews Band to stage to join them on saxophone.  Easily joining in the thick groove Phish was churning out, Moore added a jazzy element to the jam as he took front and center with his solo.  After some time of locked in jamming, Moore picked up a second sax and began playing both at once.  Mimicking the silly vibe, Trey grabbed a second guitar and slung it around his neck, began rhythmically strumming both.  Soon Page was on all fours playing four keyboards, Trey added a third guitar, and Fish began to play with upwards of seven drumsticks before running around the stage with cymbals.  Mike joined in and played two basses for this part of the jam that somehow sounds more coherent than you would think.



7.26.99 Deer Creek II

indexPlaced into the second set of the tour closing show, this Theme provided a palate for poignant reflection on the past month.  A ripping version that illustrates the cohesive jamming typical of the end of a tour, the entire band crushes this version.  Using a dissonant tone and wailing walls of sound to extract emotion, Trey paints most of this jam with extremely ’99-esque playing.  Fishman provides a driving, cymbal-heavy beat with which Mike’s and Page thump away interesting patterns.  A great version that I often forget about, this was one of the highlights of a strange last set of Summer.



6.16.00 Zepp Osaka, Osaka, Japan II

stub-0616This version, also included in the last set of a tour, provided an expressive centerpiece in an emotive set.  Following the standout “Runaway Jim,” the band lost no steam as they entered into the Theme jam.  With a perfect pace to the improv, the band began toying within the chord progression of the jam.  Yet, as the melody settled, the band progressed into some strapping grooves and heavy drone patterns that provide a juxtaposition to the song’s standard course.  This is the version- this past Saturday night- that inspired this post.  This is some vintage ’00 Phish, before the band started to lose steam later in the year.



2.25.03 The Spectrum, Philadelphia, PA II

2.25.03 The Spectrum

2.25.03 The Spectrum

A definitive highlight of a relatively thin show, this Theme moved creatively through a precise composed jam the highlighted the band’s newly rejuvenated chops. Before the jam reaches its composed peak, the band entered a “breakdown” section out of which they flow a funky groove.  This groove is still loosely attached to the song, though that attachment would soon be snapped as Fishman switched to a sparser beat, encouraging Trey to get into some dirty ’03 soloing.  This section moved away from the song’s usual focus and transformed into a dancy, psychedelic segment of music.   Hitting the ending lyrical verse, this version would enter a post-song dissonant crescendo, eventually segueing into Runaway Jim.




7.9.98 Zeleste, Barcelona, SP < LINK



The highlight show from the three nights in Barcelona ’98, this one has outstanding improv throughout.  A top-notch opening trio of “Carini, Boogie On > NICU” got the show started quickly.  A ripping Split and a sublime Gordon-led “Tweezer” highlighted the first set, while the second set featured a unique “Drowned,” and yet another big second set “Theme From the Bottom.”  The improv only gets hotter throughout the set, culminating in a phenomenal “Hood > Izabella.”  (The Chalk Dust encore is missing from this recording)

I. Carini > Boogie On Reggae Woman > NICU, Split Open and Melt, Meat, Poor Heart, Tweezer, Hello My Baby

II. Drowned > Theme From the Bottom, When the Circus Comes to Town, Scent of a Mule > Blister In the Sun > Scent of a Mule, Harry Hood* > Izabella

E: Chalk Dust Torture

* unfinished

Here is a 192 kbps link w/ the Chalk Dust if you are interested.

Tags: ,

In Between

Posted in Uncategorized with the tags on November 24th, 2008 by Mr.Miner

Soaring back from the stratosphere, your mind slams into your skull.  Phish holds their final climactic note as Trey announces the band’s return in fifteen minutes.  You wipe away the sweat from your eyes, catching your breath as that note comes crashing down.  The silence is loud; glancing around, you get your bearings.  Night turns to day.  It is setbreak.

picture man @ pbase

Hampton - photo: picture man

Feeling far different than you did when the set started, Phish has taken you to away to that place deep inside.  You see your friends collecting near that staircase over there, as some Dave Brubeck gently wafts through the house speakers.  Making your way over before the rush, you reunite with your crew, all together in the lair of the Phish.  Absorbing the atmosphere surrounding you, everyone glows with vibrant life in the aftermath of the first half.  Spotting a patch of empty seats, you head over and set up shop.  For the next thirty to forty minutes, you have nothing to do but reflect on the music, enjoy your friends, run to the bathroom, and burn a few.  Time literally turns elastic.


Deer Creek

Sitting back, you relax and gaze through the spectrum of color, and movement in front of you.  Running through the highlights of the set, mentally and verbally, you pull out a couple of pre-rolls, as you’ve learned that your rolling capacity can be astonishingly diminished in this vortex between the music.  Sparking one, you are soon passed a bowl from your buddy, and before too long you’re in the middle of the ritualistic setbreak session.  Allowing the smoke to enhance your fantasy land, you inevitably have some clowning interactions with heads you never met before; familiar strangers traveling a common path.  A time when the humor of the absurd rears its bizarre head, setbreak often becomes a straight-up comedy session of psychedelic hilarity.  Everyone’s heightened states and the ever-present magic present at Phish can combine to create side-splitting interludes between the music.

picture man @ pbase.com

photo: picture man

Soon your awareness shifts to your corporeal self, and you set your compass for the bathroom in order avoid the urge during the ensuing madness.  Thrusting yourself into the herd of cattle filling the arena corridor, you slither your way through a space preposterously packed with people perfectly content to inch around like snails.  In an uncrowded venue, this mission is a cinch, but when the big shows arrive, the secondary protocol is needed.  After executing your plan, you head back in the direction of your crew, everything around you sliding past in slow motion.  Light on your feet, you float through the hallway and touch down back at your home base.  (Unless you get lost, and then your mission takes on unknown dimensions of confusion and horror.)

picture man @ pbase

photo: picture man

Returning to your crew, a few spliffs still circulate, as the talk has turned to the approaching music.  There is nothing quite like the anticipation of the oncoming freight train that is set two.  If the first set was hot, you knew the second set was going to be something special.  If the first set dragged a bit, lacking many highlights, you knew the band would come out and blow the place apart.  It was a win-win situation, but the course of your cosmic adventure was yet to be charted.  Some fans create betting pools on the set opener; some merely venture a guess, and while almost always wrong, there is nothing like the band coming out and dropping into the song you called five minutes earlier.  A smile engulfs your being as you cannonball into the bottomless musical ocean.


photo: picture man

It’s been over a half an hour, it must be getting close.  As you stand, clinging to the rail, a handy metaphor for your present reality, you are ready for the music.  You’re done talking, there is nothing else to say.  As you see Paul and Chris making their way back to the boards, you hop out into the aisle and down the steps, reclaiming some dance space before the flood of people arrives.  As you sit on the railing, just waiting, you spot some of your other friends down on the floor.  Leaning over, you point them out to your buddy.  “Where? Who?” he asks.  “Not there!” you respond.  “The section to the right.  See that guy in the yellow shirt?  Go back three rows from–”

And the lights go black.  Everything falls into irrelevancy.  That feeling of divine possibility peaks inside your chest as your soul smiles, awaiting to receive the music.  Walking back on stage, the band assumes their places as Trey noodles and scratches at his guitar, checking in with each.  “One. Two. One, two, three four…”

Post your most absurd setbreak anecdotes in Comments below!



4.17.94 The Patriot Center, George Mason University, Fairfax, VA SBD ^LINK

The Patriot Center, Fairfax, VA

The Patriot Center, Fairfax, VA

A crispy soundboard recording from the spring of ’94, this one contains a great second set.  With shredding set-opening “David Bowie” followed by a rare pre-97 jammed-out version of “Wolfman’s Brother,” this set starts out with a bang.  Including a typically smooth and exploratory ’94 “Reba” and a manic “Maze,” the show certainly does not lack in improvisational chops.  Respek.

I: Loving Cup, Foam, I Didn’t Know, The Divided Sky, Mound, Down With Disease > If I Could, My Sweet One, Cavern

II: David Bowie, Wolfman’s Brother, Uncle Pen, The Sloth, Reba, Big Ball Jam > Maze, Contact, Golgi Apparatus

E: HYHU > Cracklin’ Rosie, Bold as Love


Relix From the Roxy & Weekend Nuggets

Posted in Uncategorized with the tags , on November 22nd, 2008 by Mr.Miner

l85470k65maIn recent news, Phish has just released an 8-CD box set chronicling their amazing three-night stint at The Roxy Theatre in Atlanta during February of 1993.  Most everyone is familiar with the famous 2.20.93 show containing the classic second set segue fest, melting tastes of many songs within a Tweezer and a Mikes Groove.  With teases galore demonstrated the band’s playful direction and exuberance at the time, this one is a true relic from the analog age.

images5However, few are familiar with the two shows surrounding this classic.  For a taste of the first night and a sampling of the sound quality on this release, Relix Magazine is sponsoring a free download of “Funky Bitch w/ Jimmy Herring” from 2.19.93.  Grab it now for a SBD copy of this special guest appearance!

2531310729_779cfb7cbfOnce digging deeper into the first show, one will discover a smoking “Split Open and Melt” as well as an entertaining “Forbin’s > Mockingbird” during the first set.  Yet, the set highlight is certainly the closing “David Bowie,” including a “Moby Dick” jam in the intro and frighteningly tight section of grooving improv.  The second set unveils an extended YEM excursion and a guest appearance from guitarist, Jimmy Herring on “Funky Bitch,” “My Sweet One,” and “Llama.”

The third show, 2.21, also includes its share of standout jams.  The front-runner is the second set sequence of “Stash > Manteca > Stash” with the first set closing Antelope right behind.  With a bluegrass-style “Good Times, Bad Times” encore, Phish continued their silliness before Reverend Jeff Mosier joined them on stage to close the show with a bit more bluegrass.

With crystal clear sound quality, and eight full CDs (including the 6.24.00 Atlanta Tweezer as filler!), this proper box set will not disappoint.  Jump over to Relix’s download to check out the free “Funky Bitch” and decide for yourself!  Expect more archival releases like this in the near future as the Phish business is having a comeback of their own.


rumorSUMMER TOUR RUMORS: They keep rolling in from multiple sources.  In addition to the Bonaroo and four night Red Rocks run that I previously reported, word has it that Phish will be visiting The Gorge for three nights and Shoreline for three nights this summer.  These additional rumors enhance the credence of my theory that we will see a tour comprised of multiple mini-runs.  If we are to believe what has been floating around, Phish is up to 11 shows this summer already, and we haven’t heard anything about the east coast yet!  The excitement just keeps coming- stay tuned!



7.31.93 Masquerade Music Park, Atlanta, GA < LINK

Masquerade Music Park, Atlanta, GA

Masquerade Music Park, Atlanta

Following Phish’s legendary run at The Roxy, they next returned to Atlanta that summer on 7.31, standing on the brink of their hallowed month of August.  A standout Mike’s > Leprechaun > Weekapaug provided the centerpiece of the second set.  The Mike’s features prominent jamming on Led Zeppelin’s “Heartbreaker,” while Leprechaun was played for its third and final time ever. With some ripping classics like Split, “Foam,” and “Mound,” and some old school ’93 covers of “Daniel Saw the Stone” and “Highway to Hell,” this show will be a nice addition to your digital collection. Enjoy!

I: Rift, Sample in a Jar, Ya Mar, Split Open and Melt, Mound, Foam, Nellie Cane, The Divided Sky, Cavern

II: Wilson, Runaway Jim, It’s Ice, Maze, Sparkle, Mike’s Song > Leprechaun > Weekapaug Groove, Purple Rain > HYHU, Daniel, Highway to Hell

E: AC/DC Bag, Freebird


“Split Open and Melt” 7.31.93 Masquerade Music Park, Atlanta, GA

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On The Road

Posted in Uncategorized with the tags on November 21st, 2008 by Mr.Miner

open-roadWhether you hopped in the car after the show and careened down the interstate to the next city by the time the sun came up, or whether you got your sleep and left early the next day, all of us spent ridiculous amounts of time on the road during Phish tour.  The open road, a metaphor for unknown adventure, seemed an appropriate place to be between mysterious inner journeys.  Crossing the nation multiple times, hitting just about every interstate, your car was your home during these month long odysseys.  The people you shared a car with shared your mission- all for one and one for all- but in between getting to shows on time, there were plenty of other decisions, debacles and events that had to take place on our daily commutes.

The Piss Break

restareaThe most consistent issue in a car with multiple people is the piss break. “Where do you want to stop?” ” When?” “Can you hold it?”  “Didn’t you just go 50 miles ago?”  These questions would fill the minimal air inside the vehicle as everyone tried to strategize the best scenario.  You had your options.  First, you had your no-frills highway pull-off rest areas.  Never very glamorous, they had facilities, picnic tables and maybe a vending machine if you were lucky.  Inevitably you’d walk by at least three cars of passed out heads who decided that the rest area was the best hotel for the night.  Or, you might decide to drive to the next exit- trying to combine a pee break and refueling- efficiency, baby!  Often times, if things were desperate or you were in Nevada, waiting to get off wasn’t an option.  And so comes the third option and last resort- the side of the road.  Choosing this course was effectively raising a neon yellow “Hey! Look at me!” sign for any passing police.  Always trying to avoid this option for legal and safety reasons, sometimes you just had to go.  And if you were in a state like Nevada, it was sometimes as good of a plan as any.


fltline_minimartWith the combination of excessive psychedelics, little sleep and extended road time, Phish tour often felt like one long visit to a gas station mini-mart.  With the patterns of Gatorades, sodas, and bottled waters indelibly burned into your brain, you navigated those stores like the back of your hand.  You generally knew exactly what you wanted, though routinely wound up staring at the shelves for minutes.  On your journeys, you began to absorb valuable knowledge.  You knew if all else failed, there would be a 7-11 to satiate you soon enough.  You began to learn the subtle differences between an Exxon Tiger Mart and a Shell Food Mart.  You soon picked up on which microwaveable products, if any, were actually edible.  You learned that nothing beats a Wawa, and couldn’t wait to get to the Philly or Jersey shows to hit one up for a freshly made hoagie.  You knew all the details; you were living the life.


The decision you had to make the most over the course of a tour was, “Where should we eat?”  Constantly a debate, the options were always somewhat limited.  The most prevalent choice was fast food, but many cars didn’t play that game, so what were some of the most appealing options?

1. images1Cracker Barrel: One of the Phishiest places to stop and eat on the road, this down home establishment came attached to a “Old Country Store” in which you could always find a treasure.  Taking on a Southern twist, Cracker Barrel was particularly good for breakfast, where you could find grits, hash brown casserole, and a tasty omelet.  You were guaranteed to find some heads there, and always had the opportunity to sit in in a rocking chair outside after your meal.

images22. Waffle House: A specialty once you got into the Southern half of the country, this “diner” was guaranteed to provide as much comedy as it did food.  With waitresses that are characters from an SNL skit, the cleanliness of the New York subway, and a cartoon style menu, any visit to “The Golden Squares of the Open Road” was thoroughly entertaining.  Or there was always Waffle House’s equally greasy bastard cousin, Huddle House.  Either way, “Scattered, smothered, and covered, please.”

images33. Applebees: This was a solid place for a dinner on an day off while on the road.  Applebees were plentiful enough across the country that you could hold out until you found one, and it had a big enough menu that everyone could be happy, even the vegetarians.  With a full bar and a feel of family fun, this chain off of seemingly every other exit never disappointed (too much.)

maryland_house_outdoor_service_sign4. The Northeast Mega-Rest Area Plazas: Whether it was the Molly Pitcher Service Area on the Jersey Turnpike, the Maryland House a bit further down 95, or the Ludlow Service Plaza on the Mass Pike, these huge conglomerates were a place to stop when you were in a rush.  Ranging from Sbarro to Bob’s Big Boy, Starbucks to Cinnabon, these plazas were traveler havens.  Resembling a Phish lot along tour’s main roads, these rest areas were a mecca for fans.  Offering much more than food, you could get any car gadget you needed, gas up, weigh yourself on the way to the bathroom, and find a new pimpin’ pair of shades.  These places had it all.

images45. Subway: Always a great idea for a light lunch before a show, Subway often came through in the clutch.  Six inch or twelve, veggie or meat, hot or cold, the sandwich artists did it right.  The meal deal of a foot-long, chips and a drink was a fool-proof remedy for any head’s hunger.  Filling you up without weighing you down was their specialty.  There were no emergency runs to the bathroom during the show with a six inch for lunch.  As years passed, Subways expanded to more and more territory making Jared’s meal of choice all the more accessible as we bounced from show to show.


open_road_largeOne of the beauties about tour was, in fact, all that time you spent in the car with friends.  With nowhere to go, and all the time in the world, it was within the confines of your vehicle that some of the most memorable moments happened.  Debating Phish, talking life, smoking and joking, the only boundaries were the lines on the asphalt.  There was nothing like open highway as far as the eye could see, in a state you didn’t know, heading for a Phish; your very own pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.  Raging jams all the way- from analogs to CDs, to what will soon be iPod Tour 2009, we have advanced with the times, always making sure to have the band we love blaring as we drove on our merry way.  Looking out from behind your sunglasses at the fields streamed by, having just extinguished a hoover, the drop of a Reba jam filled the fresh air as you turned up the volume- your own little moving sanctuary.  Free from worry and concern, you continued on, knowing the mysteries that awaited and doing your best to solve them.

Share your favorite memories from the road in Comments below!



4.1.92 Liberty Hall, Lawerence, KS < LINK

Liberty Hall, Lawrence, KS

Liberty Hall, Lawrence, KS

April Fools Day and Spring ’92- quite a Phishy combination!  With Fishman sporting a black dress and a boa around his neck, and Trey introducing himself as “Tommy Dorsey’s third cousin twice removed,” this great sounding AUD is filled with classic Phish humor.  Featuring a set list with tons a lot of classics, this one is a under-circulated piece of Phish history. Enjoy!

I: Golgi Apparatus, Foam, Bouncing Around the Room, Brother, All Things Reconsidered, Sparkle, Runaway Jim, I Didn’t Know, The Landlady, David Bowie, Carolina

II: Llama, You Enjoy Myself, The Horse > Silent in the Morning, Uncle Pen, Tweezer, Horn, Chalk Dust Torture, Cracklin’ Rosie, The Squirming Coil, Tweezer Reprise, Contact, Rocky Top

E: Lawn Boy, Good Times Bad Times


Something Phishy in NYC

Posted in Uncategorized with the tags on November 20th, 2008 by Mr.Miner
11.19.08 - Phish Rehearsing Yesterday In NYC

11.19.08 - Phish Rehearsing Yesterday In NYC

It seems that Phish is taking v.3.0 seriously. In reports that have surfaced out of New York City, the band has been in an undisclosed rehearsal space for the past couple days rehearsing a host of material.  Songs that have been run through are “Chalk Dust Torture,” “Harry Hood,” “First Tube,” certain songs off Billy Breathes and some unrecognizable songs (to the casual fan doing this reporting.)  Apparently doing their own thing without much hubbub, they have been playing without recording, and it is if they will be recording anything or not.  So three and a half months out, Phish is already starting to prepare.  It certainly seems that they are approaching the third chapter of their career with dedication and intention.  Reports from the studio have been glowing, saying that the boys sound great and are happy to be working together again.  Get ready folks!!  More to come…..


Coincidences? Maybe So, Maybe Not…

Posted in Uncategorized with the tags , on November 20th, 2008 by Mr.Miner

The Phish experience always reminds us that we are part of something far greater than ourselves.  Uniting with thousands of others to immerse ourselves in universal spirituality can be a powerful process.  Often we have left shows in awe of life, its wonders, and its possibilities- all sparked by three hours of music.  It is this life-affirming quality, the glow deep down inside radiating through us, that separates a Phish show from most other events in the world.  People often connect Phish and religion, citing the parallel qualities of connection to a higher power, a portal directly to the divine.  While grandiose, this statement rings true for so many of us that we can not deny the overarching fact that Phish represents the universal spirit.  Can this spirit be accessed in other ways?  Sure, but never as routinely and consistently than at a Phish show.

Robert Mayer

Big Cypress- photo: Robert Mayer

Connections to the metaphysical realm often appear when stars align and things occur at Phish shows that seem too perfect to be a coincidence- but similarly impossible to control.  While Phish did their best to respond to natural situations with specific songs (e.g “Drowned” during a rainstorm at Darien’00),  this synchronicity between Phish, the natural world, and ourselves has at times been striking, even eerie.  When we inspect these rare “coincidences” that have taken place so many times at Phish shows, one begins to wonder- “Is something else at play here?”


Big Cypress Sunrise - photo: Mike

Many of the significant “coincidences” throughout the band’s career have involved weather.  Let’s look at some examples.  Would we have witnessed that surreal uber- psychedelic sunrise in Florida if Phish hadn’t just finished the most magical journey of our lives?  During the legendary 7.22.97 Raleigh show, was the band orchestrating the storm or the storm orchestrating the band?  Either way, there has rarely been such a congruency between stormy conditions and equally stormy music, with the highlight of this confluence being the lightening strike at the peak of the first set “Taste.”  Similarly, at Nashville ’99, the rainstorm that had been holding off all night burst wide open with the onset of the monumental YEM jam.  At the IT, as Phish improvised a blissful afternoon “Reba ” and began to explore a more abstract texture, simultaneously, a cool breeze blew across the crowd in unison with the musical vibe.  During the summer of ’99, a tour that featured a lot of dark music, many times Phish pulled into a new city and like clockwork, clouded darkness and inclement weather would envelop the area.  An obvious parallel between the natural world and Phish was the flooded, muddy quagmire that surrounded a particularly gloomy final weekend in Coventry, VT.  On the contrary, what artist painted the sky a thousand hues ranging from royal purple to majestic orange on the second night of The Went before the band and their massive crowd had a magical peak experience together?  One of these incredibly surreal moments took place in Japan.

John Greene

6.11.00 - Hibiya Park: photo: John Greene

Throughout the one outdoor daytime show in central Tokyo, the weather was gray and rainy all day long, yet as the band peaked the uplifting “Harry Hood” jam to close the set, the heavens parted giving way to a brilliant rainbow over the stage.  Colors in the void.  Coincidence?  I’m not so sure.

8.17.97 - Great Went sunset

8.17.97 - Great Went sunset

Transcending mere weather, another facet of Phish’s connection to the higher plane often involve our own personal experiences and thoughts.  We have all experienced a time- mine was at Deer Creek ’96- when the band steered a scary, menacing jam into lighter waters just as you were about to lose your grip on reality.  Did they do that just for me?  It always seemed so.  After a 30 minute Mike’s, in which the drum beat was speaking in tongues and the music was overtaking my sanity, “all I needed was a little Weekapaug,” my friend told me afterwards.  Could the band read our minds?  How did they know what we needed?  And what about all those times you knew what song was coming before they played a note?  Some sort of connection of consciousness was certainly present.  In fact, when my brother called that they would open the last set of The Went with NICU, I corrected him saying, “They won’t open with it, but may segue into it.”  Then boom- the set opens Buffalo Bill > NICU.  Bizarre?  I think so.

Adam Foley

1.1.00 - photo: Adam Foley

These random synchronicities that involve our own lives remind us that Phish is something so much more than music.  The stories go on.  A friend lost her hoodie during the 4.3 show, and after searching feverishly for it, decided to “let it go” only to find it at her feet when the set break lights came on.  In the days before cell phones, we would randomly meet up with our friends at the most bizarre points on the road, only to be heading to the same place.  And, this post can’t conclude without a mention of my prophetic “Bohemian Rhapsody” dream.  I wrote an entire post on it early on, but many of you probably never read it.  It was one of the most metaphysical occurrences of my life.  Check out the story right here!

We all know that Phish brings power greater than four musicians to the stage every night.  Harnessing the energy of the galaxy through their minds and instruments, the band are prophets delivering the word of the universe directly to our imaginations.  Privileged to be part of such mysticism, many events prove too powerful and parallel to ignore.  It is these mysteries, these small synchronicities, that often remind us we are part of a greater web of life, our existence unquestionably tied to those around us.  Some people call it magic, some people call it religion; we call it Phish.

What are some “Maybe So, Maybe Not” coincidences” you remember form your time with Phish?  Respond in Comments below!


8.3.03 IT – photo: phenster.com



11.26.97 Hartford Civic Center, Hartford, CT < LINK

Hartford Civic Center

Hartford Civic Center

Let’s keep the Fall ’97 train rolling.  Here we have one of my favorite shows from the tour. The second set opening segment of “Character Zero > 2001 > Cities > Yamar > Punch” rates right up there with anything from the run.  A sinister trip into the dark side, this Zero evokes the spirit of Jimi as Trey guitar screams in honor.  An often overlooked first set contains a chunky show-opening “Tweezer,” a thick “Gumbo” and a twisting “Split.”  Enjoy this gem from the fall that never stopped giving.

I: Tweezer > Sparkle, Gumbo, My Soul, McGrupp and the Watchful Hosemasters, Dirt, Split Open and Melt, The Horse > Silent in the Morning, Taste

II: Character Zero > Also Sprach Zarathustra > Cities > Ya Mar > Punch You in the Eye > Prince Caspian, Poor Heart, Tweezer Reprise

E: Cavern

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Five Epic Encores

Posted in Uncategorized with the tags , on November 19th, 2008 by Mr.Miner

The encore of a Phish show is usually an afterthought to the mayhem gone down just previously in the second set.  Most often a token song or two, there have been times that Phish developed something more significant to end the night.  Such examples of this abound, and some include the “Vernon Downs the House> YEM” before the Lemonwheel, 12.29.98’s perfect topping of “Divided Sky,” Alpine ’99’s bust-out trio of “Camel Walk,” “Glide,” and “Alumni Blues,” or the surreal pairing of Punch > Slave at Polaris ’98.  Yet,  these examples all remain within the conventions of standard Phish songs.  There have been occasions when encores have been one of the loftiest highlights of the show.  Below are five exemplary encores that blew the roof off of the place as the bus was warming outside.

12.30.97 MSG: Carini > Katy > Sally > Frankenstein

p1010087Possibly the most exciting encore ever dropped by the band, the context in which it was placed made it all the more magical.  Having played right though MSG’s curfew, the band decided to extend the night a bit more since fines had already been levied.  As Trey explained, they would continue playing through midnight- right into New Year’s Eve, joking that they would have two New Year’s shows.  Needless to say, the energy in the Garden immediately sky-rocketed as the possibilities were endless.  But in all the potentialities of what could come next, no one could have possibly imagined the reality.

A Beautiful Sight

A Beautiful Sight

As the band responded to the fierce anticipation, the heavy opening chords of the first U.S. Carini swiftly took advantage of the crowd’s adrenaline-fueled state, roaring from the stage with ferocity.  Juicing the 20,000 in attendance, the band tore through the song that everyone wanted to hear since they got the analog of its sublime debut in Amsterdam on 2.17.  As the militant textures eased, the band picked up on Mike’s heavy bass pattern, collectively entering two of the best minutes of music in history ,as the Phish metal smoothly segued into an ultra-thick and slowed down pool of dinosaur funk, morphing into “Black-Eyed Katy.”   With the molasses tempo, and Fishman layering some lyrics over the top, the Moma dance was conceived, not to be heard from again until it appeared reworked in Europe on 6.30.98.  As if this monstrous pairing wasn’t enough, the band took the funk instrumental and weaved it right into a “Sneaking Sally” reprise after they had opened the show with the Robert Palmer cover for its first appearance since the ’80s.  Sliding through the return of the rhythmic verses, the band finally put an exclamation point on their first “New Year’s” set, with a segue into a booming “Frankenstein.”  Ensuring a place atop lists of memorable encores, this segment of music was Phish at its most playful, on the eve of finishing one of the best years of their career.



10.27.94 University Hall, U of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA: Slave > Icculus, Tweezer Reprise

045Following a particularly zany ’94 show in which the band’s youthful absurdity was in full effect, Phish bust out perhaps the most intense encore ever played.  Following a show that featured such rarities as “Forbin’s > Vibration of Life > Mockingbird,” and “Big Black Furry Creatures From Mars,” not to mention a sublime “Tweezer,” and absolutely spot on improv all night long, the band saved something special for the end.

Starting with the delicate opening notes of Slave, the encore was underway.  Using characteristic ’94 tightness, intensity, and directional jamming, the band created a climactic soul-awakening piece.  Playing like there was no tomorrow, Phish absolutely slaughtered this succinct piece of improv.  Stunning in its beauty and passion, this Slave could have topped the show perfectly on its own, but out of the song’s peak, Trey began to thank the crowd as the band began to vamp over the changes of “Icculus.”  Trey told the the crowd “some things to remember” as they went out in the world.  As he continued, Trey absolutely lost his shit giving these instructions, screaming far beyond the top of his lungs, impelling the audience to “Read the Book!” in more ways than one.  This version is one of legend- you have to hear it.

The only thing that could have possibly topped the intensity of “Icculus” was the “Tweezer Reprise” they dropped with Fishman screaming in the background.  Jammed out beyond it usual couple minutes, the show could simply not have ended on a higher note.  This encore will have plenty to say to 12.30.97’s before any championship belt is awarded.



12.6.96 The Aladdin Theatre, Las Vegas, NV: Harpua > Wildwood Weed > Harpua > I Want To Be a Cowboy’s Sweetheart > Harpua > Suspicious Minds > Harpua, Suzy Greenberg

photo- Scott Bernstein (?)

photo- Scott Bernstein (?)

Needing to be on this list for pure spectacle if nothing else, the encore of the last night of Fall ’96 will always be remembered for its Vegas-esque cabaret show.  Featuring a troupe of Elvis impersonators, musical guests Les Claypool and Larry LaLonde of Primus, John McCuen, and the Yodeling Cowgirls, the stage was a veritable clusterfuck as Phish plus many more created a comedic thirty-minute story out of “Harpua.”  With Les Claypool’s “Wildwood Weed” rap, the Cowgirls’ song, and Fishman’s cover of “Suspicious Minds” all spliced into “Harpua,” the end of tour theatrics were ultra-special because they followed an insane Phish show, marking the band’s first visit to Sin City.  Jimmy had never been on an adventure quite like this before.



4.3.98 Nassau Coliseum, Uniondale, NY: Carini > Halley’s > Tweezer Reprise

Jamie Huntsman

4.3.98 - photo: Jamie Huntsman

Closing the famed Nassau portion of The Island Run, this encore was as fun as any.  All sparked by a stage jumper in “Loving Cup” which led to the “Carini’s gonna get you” Antelope explosion, the venue was absolutely going berserk when this set ended.  Granted the band had also just played a career-defining concert, but the massive surge of energy at the end of the show certainly came from this episode.  Had it not been for the stage jumper, the encore most likely would have taken another route, but with the building vibrating with enthusiasm, the band came out and dropped the second ever domestic “Carini” only three shows after dropping the first on 12.30.97.

Again, the show could have ended here, but instead, soaring on an emotional crest, Phish dropped into Halley’s, which instead of a jam cut right into Tweezer Reprise.  But there was never any Tweezer!  Breaking out their ultimate tool of adrenaline when it was most appropriate, they would follow up the improvised Reprise with a set-opening Tweezer in Providence the next night.  This Reprise would find Trey aggressively marching in circles on the stage, knowing they were about to finish one of the best nights of their career. (see video below)



8.9.98 Virgina Beach, VA: Terrapin Station

terrapin-stationFor their entire career, Phish endured constant comparisons to the Grateful Dead.  Only the second improvisational psychedelic rock band to constantly criss-cross the country with legions of hippies in tow, Phish spent their entire musical lives trying to distance themselves from their predecessors.  Regardless of how different their music was from Jerry’s crew, they could not escape the constant associations.  One result of this was that their Dead covers remained buried in their college days.

A white hot second set starred an all-time highlight “AC/DC” Bag opener, a extra potent “Antelope,” and a tremendous Summer ’98 YEM.  When Phish came out for the encore on the third anniversary of Jerry’s passing, no one knew what was about to happen.  The unmistakable opening chords of perhaps The Dead’s greatest opus filled the pavilion-  Phish was playing Terrapin.  Creating a dreamlike state, Phish worked through one of the Dead’s finest pieces.  Leaving many speechless far beyond the ending of the show, this  decision was colossally significant and symbolic.  Finally at ease with their own identity and unique legend, Phish gave a surreal and magical nod to Garcia above.  If there was ever a truly epic encore, this would most definitely be it.


What are your favorite encores? Respond in Comments below!



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11.23.97 LJVM Coliseum, Winston Salem, NC < LINK

240x240_557fab8bc629ecd086738f5bbdc17d23Last up in our outlandish week of 11.17-11.23 1997 is the Winston-Salem show.  Featuring perhaps the jam of the week in the darkest half-hour “Bathtub Gin” you’ll ever hear, the first set had the best “Black-Eyed Katy” of the fall and an evil “Stash.”  Great stuff all around. Grab it. Enjoy!

I: My Soul, Theme From the Bottom, Black-Eyed Katy, Sparkle, Twist, Stash > NICU, Fluffhead, Character Zero

II: Bathtub Gin > Down With Disease > Low Rider > Down With Disease, Bold as Love

E: Julius

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