Big Cypress Pt. 2: Realizations

Posted in Uncategorized with the tags , on December 31st, 2008 by Mr.Miner

Reclining in a lawn chair amidst our RVs, I witnessed the last sunrise of the century.  Would the world last until tomorrow?  With all of the Y2k hysteria going on back in society, it was anyone’s guess.  The clear Florida sky soothed my body as visions of that Mike’s danced behind my eyelids.  I was ready for it, I thought to myself.  I was ready to take the seven hour plunge into the abyss, not knowing how I would come out on the other side.  Yet, as ready as I could be, those butterflies fluttered inside me.  This was going to be different.

nugs.net

12.31.99 - photo: nugs.net

The morning quickly turned to late-afternoon, and we made our way back to the stage.  Finding our usual spot behind the speaker tower, we sat and enjoyed the sunshine.  This afternoon set seemed like a cocktail party before a boxing match, a strange dynamic as everyone knew what we were facing mere hours away; the end of everything as we knew it.  When it was over, it would be 2000.

The band made their way to the stage for the last conventional set of the weekend.  As that morning sun began to head downward, everything started to flow.  Perfectly fitting, one of the most classic openers in Phish history cracked the ice, as “Runaway Jim” took us into New Year’s Eve.  As the sun inched ever closer to the horizon, the band dropped “Tube,” upping the rhythmic adrenaline of 100,000 at once.  Taking in the grooves, watching the sun, the clouds, and raging with your friends– was this heaven?  It sure seemed like it.

"Tube" 12.31.99

"Tube" 12.31.99

The centerpiece of the first set was unarguably the sublime playing within “Split Open > Catapult.”  A menacing jam that absolutely took on a life of its own, Phish had me.  This was where I was supposed to be– right here in the middle of the Florida swamps awaiting my destiny.  They continued to breathe magical life into the music until it reached the most un-Split territory imaginable.  Fairy tale majesty of the soul oozed from the universe through Trey’s fingers, producing some of the most beautiful life-affirming melodies of the weekend.  The band built right along with this spiritual path, growing the jam to a delicate, yet chugging, peak.  All of a sudden, as if discovering the answer to it all, the band began building this transcendent texture into a groove.  Then, Boom!  We were all free, sailing in the most beautiful and bass led groove on the planet.  Like superheroes, we soared through the sky, trailing capes of vibrant colors as the band laid into the Everglades-sized funk groove.  Honoring this other-wordly excursion, the band sung “Catapult” over the addictive, cathartic groove.  In retrospect, this jam was arguably the musical highlight of the weekend.

Phish ended the afternoon set with a song that got everyone hyped for the evening– a first time cover of J.J. Cale’s “After Midnight.”  The lyrics alone whipped the entire festival into a frenzy, and in my mind, further confirmed the fact that we were in for a cosmic event like never before.  They “were gonna’ let it all hang out,” there’s only one thing that meant to me– seven hours of psychedelic improv.  It was on!  Some thought I was crazy as I began voicing what would happen.  I thought they were equally as crazy.  As we chilled in the hours up until midnight, my head spun faster and faster, dizzy with expectations.

hotdogeditBefore we knew it, we were sitting in front of those speaker towers again.  This time, armed for the evening; extra clothes, water, a two foot bong, the whole nine.  IT was gonna happen, we needed to be prepared.  As I sat amongst the crowd, people were forming betting pools, predicting what song would kick off the new millennium.  It made me wonder.  “Don’t they know?” I thought to myself.  What else could Phish do but come out and play to the universe?  Even as I saw the “bookie” writing down the bets and odds, I was sure his scorecard was completely irrelevant.

I wasn’t talking much in preparation for what would go down, and ran the quarter-mile to the side fence to pee one more time before this happened.  As my mind was adrift, “Meatstick” started playing over the PA.  Leaping to my feet, I saw the famous 1994 hot dog come sailing in above the crowd from the back left side of the field!  Taking on a double entendre with “Meatstick” playing in the background, the craft sailed to the stage.  “A little humor before the storm,” I thought to myself.

As the band deboarded, they encountered Father Time who had passed out while peddling the gears of an over-sized clock to the 21st century.  Taking actual meatsticks, each band member fed Father Time who regained the energy to move us to the year 2000!  Classic Phish absurdity at its finest.  The band took up their instruments, playing along with the PA, soon morphing into a countdown to the end the century.  Flashes of an apocalyptic New York City plagued by Y2k flew through my mind, quickly wondering what was going on in the rest of the world, and just as quickly forgetting….3….2…1….and the band bust into “Auld Lang Syne?”  Ok.  It’s a tradition.  Now, here we go!

1.1.00

1.1.00

As the New Year’s hymn ended, Mike threw down the opening riff to “Down With Disease?!”  Huh?  What?  Were we back in some arena on some odd numbered New Year?  What the hell was going on?  Maybe they would just play some songs before diving into a jam of a couple of hours, and then another, and then another.  Yeah, that must be what’s up.

After a spectacular Disease and a segue into “Llama,” I was disoriented.  Llama?  What the hell was going on here.  After “Bathtub Gin” appeared in super-sized form, it all fell apart.  Trey began talking about ABC’s spot that was coming up, direct from our swamp.  As Trey spoke to Tom Brokaw, or whoever it was, my vision of the night crumbled in front of my eyes.  This was the least cosmic thing that could possibly be happening.  While Trey gave his now famous instructions on how to use the road, poking fun at the fiasco that was the entrance to the festival, and then dropped into “Heavy Things,” I knew that my vision, my certainty, my truth was not to be.  It took me minutes to cognitively process the shift in direction my evening was taking.

Robert Mayer

Midnight - photo: Robert Mayer

This wouldn’t be the adventure I had dreamed of.  This wouldn’t necessarily be the greatest jam the band ever created, that was left to be seen.  This was going to be one long seven hour Phish show.  And then it hit me like a ton of bricks.  This was gonna be one seven hour long Phish show!!  Holy shit!  I was so caught up in preparing my consciousness for a musical vision quest, I had completely lost sight of what was going on.  This is what I had always dreamed of– a never-ending Phish set.  One massive jam after another after another after another after another and so on.

It all came back together fairly quickly during the stunningly beautiful “Twist” jam.  This was the soundtrack to the universe.  As the band settled into a gorgeous down-tempo groove, something inside me realigned.  Those expectations of a seven hour jam slipped away, and my heart beat to the methodical rhythm of this blissful jam.  Without ending, the music slid into “Prince Caspian,” a song I had loved since its debut in ’95 due to its connection to The Chronicles of Narnia, far and away my favorite books as a kid.  The song always gave me a sense of connection to myself and to my childhood, and this time around it was beyond poignant.  It was the universe telling me that everything was cool, and we were in for a ride!

Phish was right on board my mental path as they bust into “Rock and Roll,” one of the most adventurous jams of the night.  A thirty-minute Talking Head’s-esque Phish exploration of rhythm and thematic melody was one of the mega-highlights of the evening.  Providing a wonderful musical joy ride through a four dimensional textured corridor, things were starting to come together.

phish-nye-99-00YEM, Crosseyed.  Okay, now we were talking!  We were a couple hours in and things started to evolve to a deeper place.  In certainly the most adventurous “chunk” of the all-night set, “Rock And Roll,” YEM, Crosseyed, and “Sand > Quadraphonic Toppling” totaled two hours of dark unbridled improvisation, each jam taking on a unique character.  The Crosseyed was an unexpected treat that blew up into one of the most memorable musical portions of the evening.  The “Sand” explored the hyper-complexities of groove and intricacies of sonic texture, morphing in the only ever Phish performance of The Siket Disc‘s “Quadraphonic Toppling.”  This forty minute jam was one of the largest highlights of the night, with the band hitting their stride in a diversity of unheard of grooves

And after the darkness came the light.  With Cypress-sized versions of Slave and “Reba,” Phish had us soaring through the nighttime sky on a magic carpet of spiritual threads.  The Slave is straight bliss as the band takes as much time building to a drumbeat as they do building to the peak.  The “Reba” gave everyone the chance to kick back and reflect on what was actually going on as our bodies floated through space.  The jams of this set began to take on a certain slow-paced patience that came to define the music of the evening.

12.31.99

12.31.99

The next couple hours mostly read like a super long Phish show, though there were some big moments thrown in.  The Bowie was solid, but the true highlight of this portion of the show was the absolutely locked in molasses grooving they hit in the post-”After Midnight” reprise part of the “Drowned.” Definitely battling for musical passage of the weekend, this was some of the greatest full-band playing of the entire seven hours.  The jam was already impressive, moving at a down-tempo pace, but then they all simultaneously hit a tempo that everyone just gels with, Trey comes in with the perfect rhythm licks, and voila– Phish happens.

I always found it funny that the band had the presence of mind to insert one Fishman song in the exact relative time slot late in the second set, just as they would during a normal show.  And just as in a normal show, after the Fishman song, the end of the show began.  Tonight that happened in the biggest way possible.

Danny Clinch

1.1.00 - photo: Danny Clinch

The sky was already beginning to lighten a bit when the band strummed the opening chords of “Roses Are Free.”  YES!  Ever since that sacred night in Nassau, everybody in the scene had been waiting for Phish to go huge on this song again, but it hadn’t happened.  Everyone knew this time would be IT.  And so it was; Phish brought the audience on an awing ambient journey for nearly forty minutes as they brought up the sun of the next millennium.  One of the most melodic and gorgeous jams of the evening, 100,000 people watched silently as time passed before their eyes and Phish crawled the outer realms.  One of those Phishy moments, when everything was absolutely perfect, this Roses sunrise was everyone’s indelible memory from the seven hours.  As the clouds split apart in a strangely psychedelic pattern, it was like the heavens were opening, welcoming us to the rest of our lives.  Gazing around at my friends during this frozen moment, knowing the path we had collectively traveled for years to get here, we had finally arrived.

The Dawn of a New Millenium

The Dawn of a New Millenium

Resolving the massive journey with “Bug,” the morning had broken– we had made it, and somehow, contrary to the song’s lyrics, it did matter.  It mattered a lot.  Just in time for one last mind-fuck, Phish began the intro to “Harry Hood.”  Playing the reggae for fifteen seconds while everyone exchanged looks of dismay, they had us hooked.  Had they forgotten?  They played this last night.  Sure, it was most definitely the perfect sunrise song, but…as soon as my thoughts progressed this far, they used a natural break in Hood to smash into the first ever morning 2001.  Smiles were so wide they hurt, as we absolutely raged the most blissful morning in memory.  This was the stuff dreams were made of– busting into a sunrise 2001 after a seven hour set– were we positive this wasn’t heaven?

In one of the Phishiest moves of the set, they combined the funk anthem with one of their most poignant compositions, “Wading In the Velvet Sea” to approach the close of the most magnificent set ever played.  It was as perfect as it gets.  The beauty of the music and the surroundings were inseparable as all was most definitely one.  As the ballad ended, the band picked up right where they had started, playing through a morning “Meatstick.”  Everything had finally come full circle, and we basked in the dawning of a new millennium.  As The Beatles’ “Here Comes The Sun” poured through the PA, the power of the moment was awe-striking.  Dreams do come true.

=====

phbigcypressDOWNLOAD OF THE DAY:

12.31.99 Big Cypress RMSTR! < LINK

Thanks to the hard work of Paul Gwynne Craig, working round the clock in Europe, we have a remastered copy of this legendary night!  Each and every track has been given his personal touch and attention, but unfortunately, due to his bandwith limitations in Europe, you will have to download them track by track.  Don’t fret, just create a new folder and download them all to there!  Thanks Paul!!  This should hold us over until next year’s 10 year anniversary CD/DVD collection comes out.*

*Scotty B made that up.

I: Runaway Jim, Funky Bitch, Tube, I Didn’t Know*, Punch You in the Eye, Bouncing Around the Room, Poor Heart, Roggae, Split Open and Melt** > Catapult, Get Back on the Train, Horn, Guyute, After Midnight***

II: # Meatstick^ > Auld Lang Syne, Down with Disease > Llama, Bathtub Gin^^, Heavy Things^^^, Twist Around > Prince Caspian > Rock and Roll, You Enjoy Myself%, Crosseyed and Painless, The Inlaw Josie Wales%%, Sand > Quadrophonic Topplings*, Slave to the Traffic Light, Albuquerque, Reba, Axilla, Uncle Pen, David Bowie, My Soul, Drowned > After Midnight reprise, The Horse > Silent in the Morning, Bittersweet Motel, Piper** > Free, Lawn Boy, Hold Your Head Up > Love You%%% > Hold Your Head Up, Roses are Free, Bug, Also Sprach Zarathustra$ > Wading in the Velvet Sea, Meatstick (7:45)

*With Fish on vacuum. **Unfinished. ***First time played; J.J. Cale cover #Set begins around 11:35 pm with Father Time on stage pedaling away at a stationary bike, powering a large clock, with the sound of the gears on the PA. At approximately 11:50 pm, Father Time collapses from exhaustion and the clock stops. At this time, with appropriate sound effects, a large fan boat entered the field from halfway back, stage right. Soon the sides and top of the fan boat were blown off to reveal the band riding in the hot dog from 12-31-94. The hot dog approached the stage as the band threw leis and other goodies into the crowd. Once the hot dog reached the stage, the band disembarked carrying several meatsticks. They fed these to Father Time, reviving him to drive to clock to midnight. ^Instrumental version, with the band picking up the song from a pre-recorded version played during the hot dog ride. ^^With vocal jam, as Trey, Mike, and Page sang the notes as they played them. ^^^Recorded live for ABC’s Millennium coverage; Trey instructed the crowd to chant the word “Cheesecake” after the song (instead of applauding), in an attempt to confuse TV viewers; Trey introduced the band for the recorded footage and offered a message of peace and harmony for the world (“The right lane is for driving. The left lane is for passing. So stay in the right lane unless you’re passing.”). %With “Cheesecake” vocal jam. %%Trey solo acoustic. %%%With Fish on vacuum; Fish introduced Page before the song, and Mike and Trey afterwards, and the band as “Phish 2000.” $Preceded by a tease of the “Harry Hood” intro. No encore; post-show music was the Beatles’ “Here Comes the Sun.”

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Big Cypress Pt.1: Expectations

Posted in Uncategorized with the tags , on December 30th, 2008 by Mr.Miner

Ever since that Polaris show during July of ’99 when Trey announced the millennium show in Florida, the juices were flowing.  All alone, with 100,000 friends, in the Everglades to witness the passing of time to the soundtrack of Phish– what could possibly be better?  Soon it came out that Phish would play an all-night set for the entry into 2000, something that caused butterflies in my stomach as soon as I heard it.  “Were they serious?” I thought to myself.  That feeling that I got at the end of every show- that unquenchable jonesing for more- might finally be satiated with such an event.  Was this really happening?  It was, and the excitement began building directly upon leaving Polaris and heading on an all-night cannonball run to Alpine Valley.

Sunset 12.30.99

Sunset 12.30.99

All night!  The possibilities were endless, and my imagination began to run wild.  This was the event Phish was destined for, ever since their inception back in the eighties.  Staring down the millennium like the barrel of a rifle, Phish would step to the stage and never leave.  As Trey announced during the first set of the first day, there would be security around the stage to make sure the band members could not leave!  His joke only made my fantasies all the more vivid!  Phish was going to be the soundtrack to the most cosmic night we had ever experienced.  A journey into the unknown, the likes of which we had never seen.  All those shows throughout the year, all those years throughout the decades, they had all led up to this, the most monumental affair of Phish’s career.  But I had expectations.

This was the only Phish show I ever entered with expectations, and after 250+ shows at that point, I should have known better.  Yet, ever since the all-night set was announced, it was obvious to me what would happen.  It would be akin to The Lemonwheel’s ambient “Ring of Fire” jam– Phish would come out at midnight and play however the spirit moved them.  Yet, this ring of magic wouldn’t be one hour- but seven!  All fall I imagined this night as the ultimate psychedelic adventure of both my and Phish’s life; this is where our paths had led us.  I was sure that when they came out at midnight, there would be no songs, how could there be?  There would be no “Runaway Jim” or “Down With Disease” to wish us happy new year, just an amorphous beginning to a jam that would move organically for hours as the universe shifted from the 1900′s to the 2000′s.

phish-big-cypress-99-thumbIt was going to be colossal– I knew it in my heart.  This was what I had been waiting for my whole life, pure unadulterated Phish improvisation with absolutely zero musical reference points to know where we were headed.  No beginnings or ends, just music– universal spiritual music– the stuff that Phish did best.  We wouldn’t know how many hours had passed or how many more there were to go, we would be lost in the harnesses of the Phish with nothing but our collective imagination to move us.

Yes, it had to be.  The band would spend the first four sets of the festival playing all of their significant songs, and then come out at midnight and just play.  It was perfectly scripted in my head– I knew it to be true.  And during that first set, when Trey affirmed that the band would never leave the stage, even for a short break, I knew I was right.

12.30.99

12.30.99

And so it started.  The 30th.  After waiting in hours, or days, of traffic, we had just enough time to ditch our RVs and make it to the concert ground for the first set.  The Native American chants led by Chief Jim Billie made my personal predictions even stronger in my mind, harnessing the energy of the land’s true inhabitants; reaching into history to access the future.  It was all coming together.  The forces were aligned, and then came “Ghost.”  By dropping such a dark song in the midst of daylight, my only thought was, “Of course, they had to play some huge songs during the day, because there wasn’t gonna’ be any tomorrow night!”

The 30th proved everything I thought it would be- a show of massive proportions showcasing the darker side of Phish.  There came a bulbous festival combo of “Wilson > Curtain > Tweezer” to open set two, and a magical fifteen-minute “Harry Hood” and “Good Times, Bad Times” to close the set.  This was shaping up the be quite the night, and the third, and best, set was yet to come.

Big Cypress Boardwalk

Big Cypress Boardwalk

After two full sets, Phish sometimes came out for shortened third frame, but not this time, as the final segment of the day would be the most impressive.  Using two of their most divergent and popular songs, the band opened the night time with a fierce Chalk Dust and a “Moma Dance” that sounded larger than life, slowly booming through the speaker towers.  Without wasting anytime, Phish tore into a ripping mid-set Antelope that proved to be one of the highlights of the entire day.  After a quirky stop in “The Sloth” and a moment of reflection with “When the Circus Comes to Town,” Phish revved up one of the most belligerent Mike’s Grooves in memory.

12.30.99

12.30.99 III

It was the last “Mike’s Song” of the 1900′s and it sounded like a precursor to the apocalypse.  An excursion of the deepest and darkest, this Mike’s shook the festival and its audience to the very core, tapping into forces that seemed far larger and more powerful than anything we knew.  The music was slow, directed, and overwhelmingly menacing, as if it descended upon us from the heavens, delivering an ancient message of redemption.  The jam grew far darker and aggressive as it progressed, pulling everyone’s mind into one evil grooving stew.  Certainly the definitive jam of the evening, it was the ethos of this Mike’s that the 30th had always been about– the mysterious unknown and the terrorizing adventure into darkness.

As the band moved through the ferocious jam, the field, and the whole world, tremored in its monstrosity.  This was IT, this was the place where everything would go down, and night one could not have been scripted better.  Finishing off with transitions into Simple, Hydrogen, and Weekapaug, when this set ended, everyone had their world shot into perspective by the magnitude of the music.  With a Tweezer Reprise encore, the stage was set for what would surely be the most magnificent night of the band’s career.

To Be Continued Tomorrow….
=====

phishbigcypressmapos0DOWNLOAD OF THE DAY:

12.30.99 Big Cypress Indian Reservation < LINK

The first night.

Tags: ,

12.29: The Phishiest Day of the Year

Posted in Uncategorized with the tags , on December 29th, 2008 by Mr.Miner
dscn1397

12.29.03 - photo:Matt Collins

In the annals of Phish history, no dates have gone down with such a legacy as December 29th.  While many other dates provided routine annual highlights, none quite approached epic musical nature of the 29th.  Those mid-August festival dates only started in 1996, and the other New Year’s Run dates, while each holding a character of their own, did not consistently produce the magic of December 29th.  Was it the best show of each New Year Run?  Well, most of the time, yes– but even when it wasn’t, the 29th brought the fire.  Phish had warmed up with one show, and felt none of the pressure of New Year’s Eve.  Although the 30th is a special night, reserving its own place in my heart, the 29th is truly the Muhammad Ali of Phish dates.  Lets take a trip through 29ths past (going back to 1994 to make this post manageable.)

12.29.94 Providence Civic Center, Providence, RI

What more needs to be said about this show than “The Providence Bowie.”  A jam that has come to define the deepest of Phish psychedelia, this gargantuan “David Bowie” anchors this show all by itself.  A terrifying voyage far into the unknown, this jam wraps darkness, bliss, terror and melody into one transcendent ball of ’94 Phish.  Right up there with the best segments of improvisation in the band’s history, this Bowie is IT, pure and unadulterated.  While this show and subsequent Live Phish release is dominated by the Bowie, this show has some first set treats as well.  The classic opening combo of Jim > Foam laid the path for a gorgeous rendition of “If I Could” and a raucous Split Open.  This ’94 installment was an instant classic!

I: Runaway Jim > Foam, If I Could, Split Open and Melt, The Horse > Silent in the Morning, Uncle Pen, I Didn’t Know, Possum

II. Guyute, David Bowie, Halley’s Comet, Lizards, Cracklin’ Rosie, Good Times Bad Times

E: My Long Journey Home*, Sleeping Monkey   (*Acoustic)

***

12.29.95 The Centrum, Worcester, MA

42951086The 1995 New Year’s Run was so outstanding and the New Year’s Show blew up so huge, that it is hard to say that 12.29 was the standout show.  However, when assessing the three shows previous to New Year’s Eve, this outing stands out as a Phishy ride through the dark side, highlighted by one of the jams of the run.  As many sinister shows do, this one opened with “My Friend, My Friend,” setting the tone for the evening.  A strong first set brought a texture-laden “Stash” that featured some tremendous piano work by Page.  After using a “Fluffhead” to resolve “Stash”s psychedelia, the band closed the set with a furious “Llama.”

While the first set is great, this show is famous for its second.  The truly epic segment of “Bathtub Gin > The Real Me > Gin,” affectionately known as “The Real Gin” is the gem of this show.  A tremendous jam that has survived the test of time, Phish gave a nod to their Halloween costume by bringing out one of Quadrophenia‘s quintessential songs.  The Gin built strongly, yet innocently, and soon the powerful music transformed into The Who’s song that no one saw coming.  The rest of the set followed up with a series of special songs as the band first dropped McGrupp to chill the room out for a few.  But before too long, the raging musical nighttime returned in the form of a zany BBFCFM, lending its bizarre vibe to this ride.  As the madness dwindled, Mike’s bass instructor, Jim Stinnett, emerged for a bass duel with Gordeaux.  Providing an out of the ordinary portion of the show, the bassists revved up ZZ Top’s “La Grange,” busting out the cover before closing up with some shorter songs.  This set wrapped up the Worcester portion of the run as Phish prepared to conquer Madison Square Garden in their biggest shows to date.

I: My Friend My Friend, Poor Heart, Down With Disease, Fog That Surrounds, NICU, Stash, Fluffhead, Llama, Sweet Adeline

II: Makisupa Policeman, Cars Trucks Buses, Bathtub Gin > The Real Me > Bathtub Gin, McGrupp and the Watchful Hosemasters, Big Black Furry Creature From Mars, Bass Duo*> La Grange, Bouncing Around the Room, Fire

E: Golgi Apparatus

*Mike and Jim Stinett, Mike’s bass instructor.

***

12.29.96 The Spectrum, Philadelphia, PA.

42951167This standout Spectrum show is almost always thought of as the best of ’96′s run.  With a classic second set Phish-fest, everyone was amped on their way up to Boston to close out the year.  Really, the whole second set is a continuous highlight with stellar versions of “David Bowie” and “Bathtub Gin.”  Once the YEM turned into a rotation jam and they dropped “Harpua,” this one got a plaque in the New Year’s Run Hall of Fame.  Tight, directional playing characterized this second set which was so strong it overshadowed a rather lackluster first.  A great night in a classic building.

I: Poor Heart, Caravan, Cavern, Taste, Guelah Papyrus, Train Song, Rift, Free, The Squirming Coil, La Grange

II: David Bowie, A Day in the Life, Bathtub Gin, Lizards, You Enjoy Myself* > Sixteen Candles > Vocal Jam, Harpua***> Champagne Supernova# > Harpua

E: Rocky Top

*With rotation jam. **Mike solo on piano. ***Story about everybody in town. Jimmy, Poster Nutbag, Harpua, etc., go to hell, where they all see the “Uber-Demon” (Tom Marshall). # Oasis cover, sung by Tom Marshall, the “Uber-Demon”.

***

12.29.97 MSG, NYC

dscn1411Simply put, this is among the best shows ever played.  Culminating a massive year at MSG, this night kicked off the three-night affair and stole the show.  While the following night was a clear standout with unparalleled adrenaline, when it comes down to musical improv, it simply can’t compete.  Opening with the playful trio of “NICU,” Golgi, and “Crossroads,” Phish began to scribe one of the most memorable chapters of their career.  A soaring mid-set Theme paved the way for a powerful triumvirate to end the set.  A near flawless “Fluffhead” pumped up the arena, as Phish took a pensive breather in”Dirt” before annihilating a set-closing Antelope.  Arguably the greatest Antelope of the modern era (post-’95), this rendition of the song closed the first frame on the highest possible note.  The band followed up the blistering jam with a classic ’97 funk breakdown in the closing segment of the song.  At this point, The Garden was on!

What happened after setbreak was a work of sheer artistry.  A ballistic “Down With Disease” jam, in the tradition of so many great ’97 Diseases, transcended the composed uptempo rock and entered into a murky, slowed down treat.  Taking things from a much chiller point of view, the band collectively wove a  masterful tapestry of sound and texture.  A triumphant point within the entire year, this jam showcased so much off what made ’97 so special.  Turning into something far more than the sum of their parts, Phish explored the depth of groove in the minimalist second half of jam.  As most top-notch ’97 jams did, this segment moved out of the funk into some snarling music, featuring a nasty solo from Red.

42950915As the twenty-plus minute unfinished exploration wound down, a similarly formidable jam geared up as Phish morphed into what everyone knew would be a colossal “David Bowie.”  With the band as on as they were this night, a mid-second set Bowie was the perfect call.  Delicately setting the mood of the jam, the band passed around some initial musical ideas before collectively diving forth.  A contender for jam of set (it is stiff competition), Phish masterfully crafted an intricate Bowie that was both patient and urgent, simultaneously.  Remaining in and around the song’s general path, the band stylistically improvised on the Bowie theme, building a monster jam that headed for the peak with a missle on its back.  Yet, as the band built up one of the breaks of the climax, instead of ripping back into the song, they took a left turn, bursting with energy directly into “Possum.”

The band was clicking on all cylinders at this point and having a blast.  Trey playfully strummed rhythm licks as Mike began the song over a very clean and open musical groove.  As soon as the jam started, the band began toying with “Can’t Turn You Loose,” an Otis Redding jam associated with The Blues Brothers.  Instead of a bluegrass interlude, this “Possum” would become a playful, crowd-pleasing and Phishy segment as they alternated between the two songs.  Favoring a more rhythmic style, fitting in course with the evening, this jam seemed to be a natural flowing extension of the band’s virtuoso improvisation on this night.

Finally stopping after a “Can’t Turn You Loose” reprise, the band caught their breath for the first time in the entire set.  In the small time they had to figure out what to play next, they couldn’t have made a more shrewd decision.  Following some of the most inspired playing of the year, they sat into the mother of all late-97 “Tube”s, spinning The Garden like a gyroscope.  “Move over Dayton!” and “Take off Albany!”– a new sheriff was in town.  The band took us for a ten minute swim through the thickest swamp funk of the year.  Paced at an infectious tempo, this “Tube” is the standard that all others will forever be held to.  The entire venue bounced as if on a trampoline, as this set immediately grew in stature.  A bombastic MSG YEM to close– peace!  Put this one in the record books.

I: NICU, Golgi Apparatus, Crossroads, Cars Trucks Buses, Train Song, Theme From the Bottom, Fluffhead, Dirt, Run Like an Antelope

II: Down With Disease > David Bowie > Possum > I Can’t Turn You Loose* > Possum#, Tube, You Enjoy Myself

E: Good Times Bad Times

*A jam, from this song often associated with the “Blues Brothers,” but truly an Otis Redding cover. #”I Can’t Turn You Loose” reprised after “Possum.”

***

12.29.98 MSG, NY

Although I believe that the 28th was the show of this run, the popular choice is once again 12.29!  A perfectly flowing second set was punctuated by one of the best YEMs ever played.  A set opening “Free” took the road less traveled, leaving the funk behind for more a more dissonant path.  A soaring merger of “Limb By Limb” and 2001 provided the meat of the set before Stevie Wonder’s “Boogie On Reggae Woman” funkified the filler before the YEM.   A rare “Divided Sky” encore put a special cap on a special night.

I: Rock and Roll > Funky Bitch, Punch You in the Eye > Horn, Ginseng Sullivan, Split Open and Melt, Brian and Robert, Guyute, My Soul, Freebird**

II: Free, Limb by Limb > Also Sprach Zarathustra, Boogie On Reggae Woman, You Enjoy Myself

E: The Divided Sky

**A capella.

***

12.29.03 American Airlines Arena, Miami, FL

12.29.03

12.29.03

Five years later, post-hiatus in Miami, the 29th stood out once again.  A refreshing run of shows after a underwhelming Turkey Run, all four Miami shows were solid from start to finish.  Yet ask most fans which was their favorite night, and you’re bound to get more “29ths” than anything else. (I would lean toward the 28th.) This year’s 29th featured a well crafted seco0nd set with segues galore.  Without any of the initial jams going anywhere spectacular, Phish pulled off fun transitions between “Rock and Roll, ” “Twist,” and Boogie On, creating an air of collective fun in the “intimate” arena.

But the meat of the set was the not-so-booming combo of “Ghost > Free.”  The Ghost jam began patiently with a pulsing bass and bluesy feel before building into something far more.  Trey elevated his playing in the second half of this jam before the entire band took a turn for a more groovy and uptempo place.  A far cry from the militant Ghosts of yesteryear, this dirty version provided the most inspired and psychedelic improv of the night, leading into a slowly bouncing “Free.”  The centerpiece “Free” jam gave Trey and Mike a chance to create a one-on-one jam right on the spot before diving back into the depths. A nicely juxtaposed “Divided Sky” followed, giving the set a splash of old-school Phishiness.  The longest jam of the night actually came in the the show opening “Piper,” extending to over fifteen minutes of shredding.

I: Piper, Foam, Anything But Me, Limb By Limb, Wolfman’s Brother, Poor Heart, Cavern

II: Rock and Roll > Twist > Boogie On Reggae Woman > Ghost > Free, The Divided Sky, Good Times Bad Times

E: Waste, The Squirming Coil

***

While I am always against ranking Phish shows (it just seems like a futile effort) December 29th always provided us with a standout memory on each and every New Year’s Run.  Cheers to this year’s anniversary, and here’s to 12.29.09 being the best one yet!

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DOWNLOADS OF THE DAY:

12.29.95 The Centrum, Worcester, MA < LINK

12.29.98 MSG, NYC SBD < LINK

dscn1434012.29.03 – photo: Matt Collins

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Mike Talks Phish

Posted in Uncategorized with the tags , on December 27th, 2008 by Mr.Miner

mike_gordon-1As he prepares for his mini-New Years Run over the next three days with The Mike Gordon Band, Mike took a little time out on the day after Christmas to talk to The Burlington Free Press about his other band.  In the interview, Mike discussed several Phish-related topics from the guys motivation, their rehearsals, their new management, and their potential touring schedule.  Leave it to Mike to let us in on what is really going on behind the scenes in the world of Phish.

Returning to the studio, Phish spent five days rehearsing in New York City, musically reacquainting with each other and seeing what each member was “bringing to the table” after four years apart.  Gordon mentioned he also had some new songs this time around, implying that the rehearsals were not limited to older material.  With both Mike and Trey’s solo projects having developed in Phish’s time off, it is no surprise that new songs will make up part of Phish’s new repertoire.

Although Gordon noted that the “Phish-organization-got-too-big” reasoning was largely a scapegoat for Phish’s breakup, he also pointed to multiple ways that the band will try to minimize their bureaucratic and organizational involvement this time around.  Phish plans to take themselves out of many decisions, favoring a more corporate infrastructure.  When John Paluska, Phish’s former manager was at the helm for so long, he was integral in keeping Phish on their own path, independent of the larger music industry.  Part and parcel of Paluska’s path were the band’s renowned festivals for which 80,000 people would descend on location for nothing but six sets of Phish.  As Phish is now managed by Red Light Management in Charlottesville, VA, and music mogul Coran Capshaw, expect more of an entrance into music’s mainstream.  Red Light is bringing in a “whole new model,” as Gordon observed, “Maybe we don’t have to have our own festival to make great music. We don’t have to do that and maybe we can be even more a part of the music industry than we were before rather than separate from it.”  Ouch!  That does not sound good.  Based on this statement, Bonnaroo could be a sign of things to come.  Fingers-crossed!

mike-gordonAt the conclusion of the interview, Gordon mentioned the possibility of working with Steve Lillywhite on a new Phish album, and also said that while further dates around Hampton were still possible, his feeling was that we would not see Phish until the summer after their Virginia comeback.

All of this is very interesting.  Phish seems to be buying into Capshaw’s “new” music model after the band spent twenty-plus years forging their own model of self-sufficiency.  With Phish relinquishing the reins of their organization a bit, and Capshaw stepping in to steer their boat, one can only wonder what may be in store for Phish 3.0.  This certainly explains Phish’s Bonnaroo headlining slot and the rumors about Rothbury.  This news may signify the end of the Phish festival, as the band doesn’t seem prepared to undertake such an endeavor.

Yet, regardless of all of these changes in Phish’s management, once Phish hits the stage, things will return to normalcy.  With less to concern themselves with logistically, band members will have more time to focus on what is important– the music.  Hopefully, there is an upside to what seems like a compromise of Phish’s independent legacy.  Without the need to plan tours, devise ideas for festivals, and control their every move, Phish will have the freedom to explore their musical ideas and creativity.  By honing in on what is most important, band members will be able to dedicate themselves to their craft, something that benefits us all.  Let’s just hope that although Phish may be swimming in a larger pond, that our lily pad remains pure.

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Red Rocks Amphitheatre

Red Rocks Amphitheatre

SUMMER ’09 RUMOR MILL: In other news, dates for Red Rocks appear to be July 29 – August 2 = FIVE NIGHT STAND!

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Weekend Nuggets: The Great Went

Posted in Uncategorized with the tags , , on December 27th, 2008 by Mr.Miner

DOWNLOADS OF THE WEEKEND:

phish-great-went97As we return from the holidays, let’s finish some unfinished business.  The last “Download Of the Day” was night one of The Great Went.  This weekend’s downloads complete all of the music that happened on this historic and memorable first trip to Limestone.  With magic dancing in the air, the feeling of complete isolation from society was enchanting.  Taking on a whole different feeling than The Clifford Ball, the sheer distance that people drove to get to the tip of America made Limestone feel like it belonged to us.  We had our own little Phish city in the middle of nowhere.  The Lemonwheel and IT would carry this tradition proudly, but there was nothing like the first time we stepped foot on Loring Air Force Base.  Relive the weekend in all its glory, including Kevin Shapiro’s broadcasts from the archives that we heard all weekend.  (I’ll put a link to night one in this post as well, for the convenience of having everything in one place.)

8.16.97 The Great Went, Limestone, ME SBD < LINK

8.17.97 The Great Went, Limestone, ME SBD < LINK

I: The Wedge, Beauty of My Dreams, Dogs Stole Things, Vultures, Water in the Sky > Maze, Bouncing Around the Room, Tweezer > Taste, Carolina

II: Down With Disease > Bathtub Gin > Uncle Pen, Also Sprach Zarathustra >Art Jam* > Harry Hood

III: Buffalo Bill > NICU, Weigh, Guyute, Dirt, Scent of a Mule# > Prince Caspian

E: When the Circus Comes > Tweezer Reprise^

*The band members take turns painting large designs at the side of the stage. Then, the crowd “carries” the pieces of this design to the side of the venue where it is assembled and hoisted for everyone to see onto a tower. This wood tower is tall and covered in painted plywood and has been built during the two shows.  As “Harry Hood” goes into its jam, Trey asks Chris to turn the lights off, and the band jams while the front section has a gigantic Glow Stick War. #No Muel Duel.  ^The entire art tower was burned to the ground.

8.16.97 Late Night “Disco Tent” < LINK

The Great Went Archives Radio Show < LINK

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VIDEOS OF THE WEEKEND:

“2001 > Art Banter” 8.17.97

You need to a flashplayer enabled browser to view this YouTube video

“Tweezer” Jam 8.17.97

You need to a flashplayer enabled browser to view this YouTube video


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Dear Santa,

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

Dear Santa Claus,

Thank you for bringing me exactly what I wanted for Christmas this year!  It has been many years since I’ve felt this good at Christmas time.  It almost seemed like Christmas came early this year, somewhere around the beginning of October.  Out of all the presents I may get this year, nothing can compare to that huge announcement with a ribbon on top.  Even though 2008 has been a good year, it looks like 2009 will be WAY better!  In March I am going to see lots of friends I haven’t seen in a long time, and we are gonna’ have a party!  We are gonna’ play and dance around like there’s no tomorrow, and it’s all because of you.

Some of my friends tell me that that you don’t exist, but I know you do.  I know it as sure as I know anything.  Just like The New York Sun explained to that little girl, Virginia, back in 1897, “the most real things in the world are those that neither children nor men can see.”  That editor was a very smart man, because what he said is true.  The stuff that makes me the most happy is invisible.  When I step inside that crazy building in Hampton in a couple months, I will close my eyes and be brought to the best place on the planet.  And I don’t need to look at anything!  The feelings are what takes me there; the love, the devotion, the belief– all the stuff you are about, Santa.  It’s kind of cool, you and this band I like aren’t so different; it’s really all about having faith in something bigger.  That’s why we go to to these shows– to be a part of something more than ourselves; not so different from the Christmas spirit.

This year, I want to thank you so much, Santa.  Thank you for allowing something so special to come back to a crazy world that so desperately needs it.  Soon the we will unwrap our gift and the celebration will begin; we will enter a Crayola universe where dreams come true.

Have a fun trip home to the North Pole, and enjoy the cookies and milk I left you!

Love,

Miner

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DOWNLOAD OF THE DAY:

8.16.97 The Great Went, Limestone, ME SBD < LINK

phish-great-went-97-jp2The first day ever at Limestone, Phish opened up Loring Air Force Base in style.  With three sets of beautiful Phish, this first night is one of the best single days in Limestione history.  Featuring the return to “Harpua” from The Clifford Ball in set one, the “Wolfman’s > Simple” and a sublime Slave in set two, and “Halley’s > Cities > Llama” in set three, this show is one for the ages.  In addition to these famous jams, the “Limb By Limb” in set three is one of the best ever played, with the music matching the surroundings perfectly. Enjoy this soundboard!  Night two to follow…

Merry Christmas, Happy Hannukah, and Happy Kwanzaa!!

I: Makisupa Policeman > Harpua*, Chalk Dust Torture, Theme From the Bottom, Punch You in the Eye > Ghost, Ginseng Sullivan, You Enjoy Myself, Train Song, Character Zero, The Squirming Coil

II: Wolfman’s Brother > Simple** > My Soul > Slave to the Traffic Light, Rocky Top, Julius

III: Halley’s Comet > Cities > Llama > Lawn Boy, Limb By Limb > Funky Bitch

E: Contact, Loving Cup

IV: Disco Tent Jam

*Starts with the theme and Jimmy story, picking up where the song aborted last year at the end of the Clifford Ball (08-17-96). **With theme from “The Odd Couple” tease/jam.

Tags:

Rumors Gone Wild!

Posted in Uncategorized with the tags , on December 23rd, 2008 by Mr.Miner

108_08051“Early next year” has turned into “right around the corner,” and Phish will be announcing more of their touring plans sooner than later.  As the anticipation level rises, the community is salivating for the knowledge of where and when they will travel this summer.  With the most anticipated pre-tour period to date, rumors have begun to swirl all over the Internet and around the industry regarding what path Phish will take.  I have been trying to keep everyone abreast on the murmurings that have been popping up, but as 2008 winds to a close, things seem to becoming clearer.

With all of the leaks and predictions, a hypothetical picture is emerging.  It seems as though Phish will do three groups of shows after Hampton– one in April, one in June, and one in late July and August.  Yesterday, a set of tour dates were posted to Phantasy Tour that corroborates this general pattern.  Here are the rumored dates:

April 9-10-11 MGM Grand Garden Arena Las Vegas, NV
April ?? (post-Vegas but pre-Philly) Pepsi Center Denver, CO
April 16-17-18 The Spectrum Philadelphia, PA
April 20-21-(22?) Madison Square Garden New York, NY

June 2-3 Camden, NJ
June 4 Jones Beach, NY
June 5-6 Hartford Meadows, CT
June 13-14 Bonnaroo Manchester TN
June 16-17-18 Deer Creek
June 19 Busch Stadium St Louis MO

July 24-25 The Gorge
July 29-30-31/Aug 1 Red Rocks
Aug 4-5 Shoreline Amp Mt View CA
Aug 6-7 Staples Center (or Hollywood Bowl) Los Angeles CA

soyhead

photo: soyhead

Now before everyone starts freaking out and explaining why these dates can’t be correct– let me be the first to say that these dates, in all likelihood, are mostly incorrect.  Yet it is the pattern of shows that I’d like to inspect.  Not to mention, there are some dates that look to be accurate in there.  First, I can’t imagine that Phish will kick off their post-Hampton career in Las Vegas, it seems like exactly the wrong place.  Yet, at the same time, I have heard that they will be west to play Denver in April, so that will keep us guessing.  If they played Vegas, however, it would no doubt be at the Thomas & Mack Center.  With this set of dates, it looks like the original idea of filling in the other weekends in March has been pushed to April with the predicted appearances at The Spectrum and MSG.  While the March buzz has died down a bit, I wouldn’t go making plans for those weekends just yet!  The Hampton shows may exist as “three of a kind,” but Phish could easily announce something to the contrary.

The June tour seems to be shaping up coherently.  It appears Phish will spend the early summer circulating around the east coast and Midwest, though there are some glaring omissions to this list of dates.  It seems unlikely that in their eleven-show first leg that they would skip their classic haunts of Great Woods, Alpine Valley, and SPAC.  (I’ve heard that they will be hitting Alpine.)  And Busch Stadium in St. Louis?  Eh, I’m not so sure about that.  However, the Camden, Jones Beach, and Bonnaroo dates that have been reported fit neatly into this initial circuit.  Highlighted in this faux list is a three-night stand in the cornfields of Deer Creek, something every fan will smile at when considering.

Red Rocks Amphitheatre

Red Rocks Amphitheatre

Yet, in my opinion, the most exciting leg is shaping up to be the late-summer west coast tour.  Combine A fully-warmed up Phish with some of these venues, and you have the recipe for magic.  I have heard the same Red Rocks dates from multiple sources, the four nights of July 29 – August 1.  It seems likely that these will be the dates for Phish’s return to Morrison for the summer’s only four-night stand.  Filling in around the shows in Colorado will be certain visits to The Gorge and Shoreline.  This particular list of dates has the band playing two shows at each of their classic west coast stomping grounds, however, I have also heard the potential of three nights at one or both locales.  Moving down the coast, it appears Phish will hit the LA area as well.  If this map is accurate, SoCal could be the witness to Phish’s Summer ’09 finale, though I have also heard the tour may pop into Phoenix to close.

The most noteable absence from this potential list of dates is an outright Phish festival.  With all the talk about Bonnaroo, whether you are for or against it, there is one thing everyone can agree on- we’d love another Phish festival.  Whether or not Bonnaroo is substituting for a trip to Limestone remains to be seen.  This imaginary path leaves Phish out west, far from the homes of their beloved festivals.  Might we see a comeback tour without a Phish fantasy land at the end of the rainbow?  I wouldn’t have thought so, but that just may be the case.

y1plr5ueogzm1z8xl95wg9rv32aoxqvo-a9If this set of dates is even approximately accurate, we have a lot of Phish to look forward to in the Spring and Summer of ’09!  With over 30 potential shows being kicked around, Phish’s return could turn out to be more significant than imagined.  As I’ve stated previously, this won’t be any nostalgia act, this will be about moving forward, and perhaps this number of dates are the first indication that the band means business.  As we all look forward to getting back out there on the road, back to the source, back to the freedom and bliss Phish brings, we have plenty of rumors to discuss and debate over the holiday season.  Before too long, we will have our answers!

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DOWNLOAD OF THE DAY:

7.23.97 Lakewood Amphitheatre, Atlanta, GA < LINK

1997-07-23moThis is the third show of US Summer ’97, and capped perhaps the three most exciting opening shows of any tour.  Following Virginia Beach and Raleigh, Phish moved down to Atlanta and funked out their second visit to the venue.  With a best-ever “Ghost” and a top-notch “YEM” holding down the second set, Phish would leave some classic jams in Atlanta air.  After Lakewood it was on to Texas, and summer tour was officially underway.  Another reader request, be sure to grab this one if you don’t have it already!

I: Julius, Dirt, NICU, Dogs Stole Things, Ginseng Sullivan, Water in the Sky, Limb By Limb, Split Open and Melt, Billy Breathes, Possum

II: Punch You in the Eye, Ghost > Sample in a Jar, You Enjoy Myself > Rocky Mountain Way^ > Chalk Dust Torture

E: Frankenstein

^Joe Walsh cover (first time played)

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No Brainers

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

Discussion, critique, and debate around their music has been, and will always be, a constant in Phish’s fan base.  Everyone has their own take on things, and we all often go to lengths to legitimize our opinions.  Many post-show decompression sessions were spent listening to Phish and talking about it.  With music addictive as any drug I’ve known, Phish’s acrobatics often spring-boarded folks deep into Phish talk.

2As fun as it is to debate until the sun came up, often times enjoyment came in agreement.  As much as Phish’s music spurns debate, it often crushes disagreement as well.  Sometimes Phish played so well, they literally jammed away any subjectivity.  Nobody is gonna’ argue nuances with the Nassau Roses, and no one’s gonna’ step to the Radio City Ghost or the Salem Tweezer.  You won’t find a fan that will pick a bone with Hampton’s Halley’s or the Albany YEM– sometimes the argument is over before it begins.

To honor these peace-making versions, I put together a compilation of  “No Brainers”– versions that need no discussion.  There are obviously many “no brainer” versions of every song, and this time around I chose one of each; next time, another.  Welcome to Miner’s Picks: No Brainers Vol. I!

***
YOU ENJOY MYSELF: 12.29.98 MSG

dsc03533

3.1.03 (Staunchy)

More than any song, one could pick a hundred versions of YEM to include in such a compilation.  Yet, today, I chose one of my personal favorites that I’m sure many will rank highly as well.  In this set closing smoker at MSG, there is nary a wasted note or misdirected phrase throughout an exciting excursion.  In what I have often called a perfect version of the song, the band’s ’98 style is on full display in one of their favorite homes.

TWEEZER > IZABELLA: 12.6.97 Auburn Hills, MI

Although I often tout this segment, there are clear reason for its accolades.  Possibly the most transcendent jam of Fall ’97, this throw-down at The Palace remains an all-time highlight to this day.  Combining their larger-than-life dance funk with an exploration into the heart of the universe, I’ve never met a person who doesn’t love this entire set.  In a fall tour that took on a life of its own, this “Tweezer” may be the pinnacle.

WOLFMAN’S > SIMPLE: 8.16.97 Limestone, ME

The Great Went (Ned Beebe)

The Great Went (Ned Beebe)

In one of the weekend’s defining portions of improv, these two jams combine to illustrate the diversity of Phish’s music.  In their first trip to the magical site of Limestone, Phish tore apart the most developed Wolfman’s to date to open The Great Went’s second set.  With the beats oozing loudly from the speaker towers and bellowing across the land, we were witnesses to Limestone’s first epic jam.  Flowing with the confidence at the peak of two-month summer tour, Phish sculpted a masterful musical marble.  Surprising us with “Simple” when we least expected it, Trey went on to take one of the most poignant solos of the summer.

HARRY HOOD: 12.30.95 MSG

In what is some of the most powerful music ever produced by the band, this version holds a special version in my soul.  With Trey, Mike and Page building the music as if connected, the emotional quality of this jam’s harmony and melody are unparalleled.  Adding Fish’s work, this version possesses a driving urgency that meshes beautifully with the delicate textures of life.  A passage of music that defines the spiritual and emotional nature of Phish’s world, this version changed my perspective on life forever.  After many years, it has been fun meeting so many others who had similarly powerful experiences during these magical moments at MSG.

BATHTUB GIN: 8.17.97 Limestone, ME

204Coming out of an giant “Down With Disease,” the Went Gin  saw the band and 80,000 fans simultaneously have a peak musical experience.  A piece of music that has come to define the energetic interchange between Phish and their fans, this jam was a cathartic release at the end of an epic summer, celebrating all that the Phish community represented.  One of those out-of body experiences where all were enveloped by the hugeness of what was transpiring, egos fell by the wayside as everyone became lost in Phish’s wild wonderland.

GHOST > SLAVE: 7.4.99 Lakewood

A pairing of incredibly divergent songs resulted in one of the most sublime transitions of the band’s 20+ years and a July 4th memory to last a lifetime.  Another jam that enraptured all in attendance, the music took over the pavilion as the deep bass of Ghost ballooned from the speakers.  A version that stands out in a summer full of belligerent Ghosts, its pairing with Phish’s most regal piece made the jam that much stronger.  The Slave is another time where everything came together at one place at one time– for everyone.

MIKE’S SONG: 12.31.95, MSG

photo -  Austin

photo - Austin

This jam was the centerpiece of one of Phish’s most renowned shows.  Closing the second set, one of the greatest incarnations of the song ever played made a militant futuristic dance hall out of the Garden.  Hallowed as one of the band’s finest nights of their career, this Mike’s is one of the reasons why.  As the second jam kicks in, look out for some serious ninja Phish crack.  No joking around here, this is what its all about.  By the end of the jam, Trey was silhouetted on stage creating a digital delay loop that would continue as he left the stage, awaiting 1996.

2001: 7.17.98 The Gorge

How can you go wrong with a twenty-five minute wide-open exploration of dance grooves in front of the Columbia River Gorge?  On this memorable night, Phish took this version deep into the dark night sky, stopping by stars and planets in their musical orbit.  An experiential delight, and a segment of music you could listen to forever, “The Gorge 2001″ has become a term unto its own.

REBA: 7.6.94 Montreal, QC

powerWith the plethora of ridiculous Reba’s played within this year, the conversation always comes back to this version from Montreal.  Taking the driving music to another level of triumphant groove, this version features improv not often heard in your every day “Reba.”  Yet, just at the peak of said section, the band splashes blissfully back into the classic Reba jam.  This is one among many, in a year with copious no brainer versions of the song.

Enjoy these all-time highlights, and share your own in comments below!  Be on the look out for “No Brainers Volume II,” due out soon.

DOWNLOAD “MINER’S PICKS: NO BRAINERS” Now! < LINK

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ROSS COMPRESSOR UPDATE:

Below are pictures of the Ross Compressor that Phantasy Tour had engraved for Trey.  The quote comes from “Walls of the Cave,” and seems to imply no pressure to change back to his old tone, but “When the moment comes…”  Very clever. Well played PT!

ross-topross-bottom

Tom Marshall will be hand delivering the pedal to Trey’s house this morning, in time for Christmas!

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RUMOR MILL ’09:

  • rumor3 nights at the Pepsi Center in Denver in mid-April
  • Further confirmation of 4 nights at Red Rocks on July 29 – August 2nd
  • June 4 @ Jones Beach (seems solid)
  • 2 nights in Camden in mid -June

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DOWNLOAD OF THE DAY:

7.20.91 Arrowhead Ranch, Parksville, NY < LINK

phish_tnailThis is the first show of a classic two night stand with the Giant Country Horns back in the Summer of ’91.  The next night was a show almost every fan had on analog, and this one paved the way.  This one comes as a holiday request, so “Ho! Ho! Ho!,” and enjoy!

I: Chalk Dust Torture, Foam, The Squirming Coil, Llama, Oh Kee Pa Ceremony > Suzy Greenberg, The Landlady, Bathtub Gin, My Sweet One, David Bowie

II: Buried Alive, Reba, Caravan, Dinner and a Movie, Flat Fee, Golgi Apparatus, Stash, TMWSIY > Avenu Malkenu > TMWSIY, You Enjoy Myself, Rocky Top

E: Possum

With The Giant Country Horns.

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Weekend Nuggets: December 30th

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

DOWNLOADS OF THE WEEKEND:

msg_copy_7895455x310I have always maintained that the best nights happen on the 30th.  New Year’s Eve is too fleeting, once it’s over, it’s over.  12.29 could make a strong argument for best musical night ever given its history, but there is something about the 30th– the night before New Year’s.  Often reserved for darker shows, leaving the happy stuff for the 31st, Phish loved this date.  As we head into the end of the year, let’s listen to some great 12.30′s.! (’92 and ’93 are already on the site! Use the Search Bar)


12.30.94 MSG, NYC
< LINK

The band’s first visit to Madison Square Garden came on the 30th.  Following a torrential year of touring, the band soared into their New Year’s Run only three weeks after finishing fall tour.  Big versions of YEM, “Tweezer” and “Harry Hood” carry the second set of a show that had a tough act to follow in 12.29.94′s Providence show.

I: Wilson > Rift, AC/DC Bag, Sparkle, Simple, Stash, Fee> Scent of a Mule, Cavern

II: Sample in a Jar, Poor Heart > Tweezer, I’m Blue I’m Lonesome*, You Enjoy Myself, Purple Rain > HYHU, Harry Hood, Tweezer Reprise

E: Frankenstein

*Acoustic.

***

12.30.95 MSG, NYC < LINK

For the second year in a row, Phish found themselves at MSG for the 30th; this time for a two-night stand into 1996.  This year’s version of 12.30 was a stellar show with two sets of chock-full Phish.  An early show “2001 > Suzy > David Bowie” got things spinning fast, while “It’s Ice > Kung > It’s Ice” continued the dark path.  The second set was a keeper, with in my opinion, the most magnificent “Harry Hood” ever holding it down.

I: Prince Caspian > Also Sprach Zarathustra > Suzy Greenberg > David Bowie, Simple, It’s Ice > Kung > It’s Ice, TMWSIY > Avenu Malkenu > TMWSIY, The Divided Sky, Sample in a Jar

II: Ya Mar*, Free, Harry Hood > AC/DC Bag, Lifeboy, Scent of a Mule, Cavern, Run Like An Antelope

E: A Day in the Life

*With “Auld Lang Syne” tease.

***

12.30.96 Fleet Center, Boston MA < LINK

Another great 12.30 effort, featuring two full sets of great Phish.  A quality “Reba” and “Theme” in set one made way for a “Timber Ho” opener is set two and the then rare “Guyute” moving right into a big “Tweezer.”  A Slave put a cap on another great 30th.

I: Ya Mar, The Sloth, Llama, Gumbo, Reba, Talk*, Funky Bitch**, Theme From the Bottom, Good Times Bad Times

II: Timber (Jerry), Uncle Pen, AC/DC Bag, Guyute, Tweezer > Lifeboy, Scent of a Mule#, Slave to the Traffic Light

E: Possum

*With Trey on acoustic guitar. **The PA cuts out. The band continues playing for a few minutes while it is reconnected and end up miming playing. #Comedian Steven Wright came out and rang a bell twice.

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VIDEO OF THE WEEKEND:

“Tweezer” 12.30.94 MSG Pt.1

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“Tweezer” Pt.2

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“Tweezer” Pt.3

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Phish at Bonnaroo

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

So unless you’ve been living in a cocoon this week, you have heard the mainstream rumors that Phish will headline Bonnaroo for two of the three nights.  If you have been reading Phish Thoughts for a bit, you’ve known that this would happen for about a month now.  Yet, as the rumor has been virtually substantiated from the powers that be, there has been a lot of backlash in the community about this decision.

bonnaroo_500x400Some think Phish has no place on a multi-band bill, something they avoided for most of their career.  The argument is that Phish shouldn’t be part of something bigger when they can draw the same amount of people themselves.  Some feel that they are being pressured into it by super-manager, Coran Capshaw, who holds a stake in the festival, and other outside business influences.  Bottom line, all of these lines of reasoning are, in my opinion, total crap.  Phish is playing Bonnaroo for one reason and one reason only, they want to!

The Clifford Ball

The Clifford Ball

If you remember back to the late ’90s and early ’00s, Phish, with Great Northern Productions, created the blueprint for the massive Phish festival.  When southern concert promoters Superfly and A.C. Productions teamed up to throw the first jam-rooted Bonnaroo, they looked to the experts, welcoming many members of Great Northern’s team on board to help and to use their model of Phish’s former weekend celebrations.  Yet, due to timing, Phish never got to take part in the festival that they were integral in inspiring.   Soon followed all the other mega-festivals that, trying desperately to draw as many people that Phish drew by themselves.  Bonnaroo and its brethren essentially filled the summer time vacuum for 60,000 to 80,000 fans who could no longer trek to Limestone.  Essentially, Phish’s absence made room for the growth of Bonnaroo, and now the band wants to join in.  Do they need to play it– of course not!  But they want to join the party too!

Consider these factors with the overwhelming nature of Coventry and the effort, coordination, and money it takes to throw their own festival (which they still may do!), and tell me, honestly, that this doesn’t make sense for them.  They pull into a huge festival with no work of their own, tear the place apart for two nights, steal the show, and move on with their tour.  Sound like a plan to me!  With Trey’s affinity, familiarity and previous performances at Bonnaroo, it seems like a very congruent fit.

Trey & Mike at Rothbury (Rolling Stone)

Trey & Mike at Rothbury (Rolling Stone)

When the members of Phish reemerged at last summer’s Rothbury festival in various sit-ins and performances, it seemed like they enjoyed being a part of everything.   Basically every other significant band plays at these festivals, and why would Phish not want to take part in this community celebration of music, art, and fun?  It is not like Phish will be moving from mega-fest to mega-fest– they are gonna’ stop in at one or two, and if you wanna skip ‘em, no one will hold a gun to your head.  So why complain?  Why not accept that your personal desires don’t line up with Phish’s desires, and meet your buddies at the next show?

The Lemonwheel - photo Todd Wickersty

The Lemonwheel (T. Wickersty)

In addition, Bonnaroo will automatically expose Phish to an entire new generation of kids who were in middle school at the time of Coventry.  More people who would have never imagined the magic of Phish will get to experience it in bigger-than-life format.  How can this possibly be a bad thing?  If you think that there won’t be a whole new scene of Phish fans whether they play the festival or not, you are sorely mistaken.  Kids who have been incessantly listening to bootlegs and smoking bongs for the past four years, kids who had older siblings that sung the praises of the Phish, kids who never knew Phish existed are all gonna’ be on board.  Welcome to Phish 2009!

And hey, for the fans it’s a deal!  $200 bucks for two shows and two full days of festivities??  Hell, I paid $240 for each night of Hampton, sounds like a deal to me!  And anyone who thinks Phish will step on that stage and not absolutely slaughter their shows forgot who Phish is.  These will be “super-Phish shows.”  Shows whose setlists you will cringe at when you read on the Internet what you missed.  This is Phish’s time to reclaim their throne as the maestros of the live music scene, and if you think most everyone won’t be walking away from Manchester, TN discussing how insane the Phish sets were, I think you’ve got a surprise coming.

The Great Went

The Great Went

Can you even imagine the magnitude of the Bonnaroo “Tweezer?”  Can you fathom the depth of the Mike’s Groove that will overtake the masses’ consciousness?  Inevitably, Phish will also debut new material at the festival, and whether is a twenty-minute transcendent “Light” or a set-opening “Backwards Down the Number Line,” everyone will walk away from Bonnaroo more excited about Phish then when they entered.  Phish’s mission at Bonnaroo will be clear, “tear the roof off the sucka’.”  And I guarantee you, that is exactly what they will do.

The fact is, people are confusing their own desire to attend Bonnaroo with Phish’s “right” to play there.  Understandably, a mega-festival comes with its caveats and clusterfucks, but at the same time, it comes with freedom from ushers, seats, conventional rules, and standard show limitations.  While it is understandable why individuals would not want to attend the event, making the jump to say Phish shouldn’t play the event is purely illogical.  Ready or not, here they come!

What are your opinions on Phish headlining Bonnaroo for two nights?  Respond in Comments below!

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rumorSUMMER ’09 RUMOR MILL: As Bonnaroo is all but confirmed, a few more nuggets of info have been passed my way.  From a solid source, Phish has two nights scheduled for Camden in mid-June, seemingly part of their initial early-summer tour.  I’ve heard potential Red Rocks dates to be 7.29-8.2.  I’ve heard some grumbling about NOLA Jazzfest, but nothing firm at this point.  I wouldn’t forget about those other weekends in March either.  It’s almost 2009, we should know soon.  That’s all I’ve got for now folks!  Enjoy the weekend.

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DOWNLOAD OF THE DAY:

12.28.97 USAir Arena Landover, MD < LINK

1997-12-28moWe are sticking with the New Year’s Run theme today, featuring the dark-horse show of 1997.  Finishing the run with three nights at MSG– two of them being legendary– this show actually can hold its own.  With two exciting sets, the “Cities > Curtain > Sample” combo early on got the run started after a warm up “Julius.”  The second set was highlighted by the “Ghost > Drowned” and “Halley’s > Slave” segments.  This one has also been requested by a number of folks.  Enjoy!

I: Julius, Cities > The Curtain > Sample in a Jar, The Old Home Place, Runaway Jim, Farmhouse, Funky Bitch, Split Open and Melt, Bouncing Around the Room, Character Zero

II: Axilla* > Simple**, Ghost > Drowned > Scent of a Mule, Halley’s Comet > Slave to the Traffic Light, Rocky Top, Cavern

E: Bold as Love

*With Axilla (Part 2) ending.**Trey’s guitar experienced feedback coming out of Simple, causing Trey to pause and talk about ghosts in the machine…they then paused and went into “Ghost.”

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