Mike’s, Hydrogen, Weekapaug. Ahhh. It rolls off your tongue sweetly, with just enough syllables to create a mini-rhythm all its own. This musical combination represents a pristine Phishy realm, like an untouched natural habitat. Debuted at Underhill, VT, on July 23, 1988, the trilogy of “Mike’s Groove” was born. During the band’s formative years from late-1988 thru the end of 1992, the band would engage in over 200 “Mike’s Grooves” without anything but “I Am Hydrogen” between the bookends. Yet, as the band progressed into late-’93 and ’94, things didn’t always remain as pure.
Regardless of the many interludes the band would take between “Mike’s” and “Weekapaug” during their career, “I Am Hydrogen” always fit the best. Providing a gorgeous confluence of harmony and melody, it was the ideal connection between the dark and boisterous “Mike’s” jam and the happy, celebratory nature of “Weekpaug.” Together, the three formed a mini-psychedelic journey all on their own. Flowing seamlessly from sinister mystery to inner reflection and capped by cathartic release, “Mike’s Groove” was an acid trip in a microcosm. The three-song suite grew to be as Phishy as anything in the band’s catalog, never ceasing to bring roars from any and every crowd.
Before “Simple” was debuted at San Francisco’s Warfield Theatre on May 27, 1994, Phish had already begun creating divergent segues out of “Mike’s Song.” Breaking the 200+ streak on February 4th, 1993 in Providence, RI by merging “Mike’s” with “The Man Who Stepped Into Yesterday,” all bets were now off. But on this spring night in San Francisco, Phish introduced what would become the next chapter in “Mike’s Groove” mid-pieces.
As the band began to experiment with the transition into “Simple,” hitting it at various points in the Mike’s jam, the effect was always similar- a surge of collective adrenaline and a roar from the crowd. The guitar anthem had such a catchy hook and playful lyrics, it was hard not to enjoy the new addition. Yet, the Gordon-scribed piece, while adding energy to the overall “Mike’s Groove,” took away the flowing peaks and valleys of the musical path. Throughout the rest of 1994, “Simple” split time with “Hydrogen” as the Mike’s Groove connector.
Once ’95 hit, Phish began using different songs out of “Mike’s,” diverging from their pattern of years past. 1995, the year of the fewest “Mike’s Groove’s” up to that point, saw such diverse pieces as “Contact,” “McGrupp,” “Keyboard Cavalry” and “A Day in the Life” take “Mike’s” into “Weekapaug.” In 1996, “Simple” morphed into its own jam vehicle, and while often played inside “Mike’s Grooves,” many standalone versions provided set highlights. Throughout ’96 and ’97, “Simple” and “Hydrogen” again split time as the dominant “Groove” connectors, and on July 22, 1997, amidst an epic second set and monsoon in Raleigh, NC, the band brought both songs into a super “Mike’s Groove” for the first time ever, a hallmark occasion in Phish history. During these same years, however, a new trend was also emerging- the “Mike’s Sandwich.”
As the mid to late ’90’s progressed, “Mike’s Sandwiches”- instances where Phish would stuff multiple songs in between the slices of “Mike’s” and “Weekapaug,” became more prevalent. Often creating whole sets out of a “Sandwich,” the band turned more inventive in what could constitute a “Groove.” Most of these “sandwiches” fell in line with the burgeoning pattern of using “Simple” as the main exit out of “Mike’s” for ’98, ’99, and ’00. During these years, the band literally cut most “Mike’s Song’s” in half, substituting “Simple” for the second Mike’s jam after the initial, old-school strobe and trampoline jam.
Phish’s final show at Shoreline before the hiatus, 10.7.00, saw “Mike’s Groove” return to its original incarnation, kick-starting the band’s finale early in the first set. This farewell “Groove” proved to me a harbinger of post-hiatus “Mike’s Grooves” which would see a return to the combo’s initial form. All but one performance in ’03 and ’04 adopted the uncompromising flow of the original trilogy- “Mike’s > Hydrogen > Weekapaug.”
Only three times in their career did Phish bypass a connector all together, improvising right from “Mike’s” directly into “Weekapaug.” All three- Hershey 12.1.95, Niagara Falls 12.7.95, and The Gorge 7.17.98– were huge moments in band history.
With the impending return of Phish, you would figure we aren’t too far away from our next “Groove.” It will be interesting to see what direction Phish will take its classic interlude in this third time around the block.
What are your favorite “Middle’s of Mike’s?” Respond in Comments!
BONNAROO: While the official line-up will be announced on February 3rd. Most feel that with the addition of Knoxville, that Phish is a shoe in. This article from Spinner.com certainly seems to think so.
TICKETS: Things seemed to go more smoothly for the general community with Summer Tour’s ticket requests. Despite the inevitable rejections (including my order), with less concentrated demand, more fans seemed to get their hands on some tickets. If you have some extras that you need to trade, there is a lot of trading going on over at Phantasy Tour. If you have any extra pavilions for any show, look no further than firstname.lastname@example.org! I’m looking! I’ll get all the regular on sale info up here in an organized fashion before Friday so you can plan your strategy….In other news, I’m already hearing talk about Halloween at MSG!
DOWNLOAD OF THE DAY:
8.20.93 Red Rocks SBD < LINK
With most everyone waiting with bated breath for the potential announcement of Red Rocks shows, (and others denying it could ever happen), I thought we’d revisit the band’s first trip to Morrison, Colorado’s legendary venue. A sublime show the whole way through smack in the middle of one of Phish’s best months of their career, highlights abound from both sets. The setlist speaks for itself. The “Antelope” is insane.
I: The Divided Sky, Harpua, Poor Heart, Maze, Bouncing Around the Room > It’s Ice > The Wedge, Ginseng Sullivan, Rift, Run Like an Antelope
II: Also Sprach Zarathustra > Slave to the Traffic Light, Split Open and Melt, The Squirming Coil, My Friend My Friend > Chalk Dust Torture, You Enjoy Myself > Purple Rain* > HYHU, Cavern
E: The Mango Song, Freebird
*With Mimi Fishman (Fish’s mom) on vacuum.Tags: Songs