Not So Simple

Debuted at the Warfield Theatre on May 27, 1994, “Simple” has played several roles through Phish’s career.  A central use of Gordon’s composition has been as a high-energy interlude between “Mike’s” and “Weekapaug,” supplanting “Hydrogen’s” role for much of the late ’90s.  Giving any “Mike’s Groove” a vastly different contour, “Simple” became a somewhat galvanizing song among fans.  Some loved it’s catchy hook and bombastic energy, while others thought it was an intruder on sacred ground.

2998740559_9879522a7aAlthough the band integrated standalone “Simples” into their setlists, it wasn’t until 1996 that it emerged as a vehicle for improvisation.  Taking its feel-good melodies for the musical equivalent of mellow sails across the bay, Phish began to gradually explore the song’s potential.  During Fall ’96, this potential was realized with several standout versions; specifically Halloween’s third set standout, Champaign’s powerful version of 11.8, Memphis’ emotive rendition of 11.18, and the popular twenty minute excursion from the tour’s last stop in Vegas.

1997 brought some outstanding versions of “Simple,” as the song straddled the fence between its independence and its connection with “Mike’s.”  The Great Went‘s super-sized version was one of the most poignant ever played, while 12.9’s half-hour exploration brought the song to depths uncharted.  1998 brought “Simple” closer to its roots, as it was again the primary link in “Mike’s Grooves.”  Yet 1998 is where our story begins.

phish-worcester-98A week after Phish had unveiled a stunning ambient journey through “Simple,” immortalized on Hampton Comes Alive, the band found themselves in Worcester, on the cusp of their last set of their ’98 fall tour.  As they picked up their instruments for the final frame, they decided to open with “Roses Are Free!?”  As the opener of the last set of tour, the sky was the limit!  My mind zoomed directly into the stratosphere, dreaming of Nassau’s hallowed trek.  As the song moved out of its composed section and into the distorted grooves that followed, all hopes were peaked for about a minute of music filled with aggressive textures.

Then, like a slap across the face, Trey came over the top of the potentially explosive launchpad and laid down the “Simple” lick completely out of context.  Catching the rest of the band totally off guard, the “transition” was a trainwreck.  “Ouch!”  I thought to myself.  Cutting of a “Roses” that had a full head of steam for “Simple!?”- that just didn’t seem right.  But it was what it was, and I rejoined the concert after a momentary reflection on the musical incongruity.  As the song passed through its verses and the band entered the jam, the music dynamically glided through the guitar-led improv.

511633729_2a62d0a2f3Just when “Simples” usually trickle out into a quiet melodic ending, Phish chose the road less traveled.  Instead of moving into silence, Trey began playing searing strings of notes that signaled to the band that they wouldn’t end there.  Quickly getting the message, the others hopped back on board, creating an improvised realm that took very little time to grow into something wholly different.  Taking a moment to collect their bearings, Phish plunged into a dark and evil jam.  From the onset, the intensity was electric as the band molded a ball of dissonant sonic madness.

As the effects and distortion provided the glue of the jam, Trey and Fishman broke out into a cooperative groove that Mike and Page meshed their way into.  For a period, this “Simple” existed as a driving rhythmic canvas dripping with excessive psychedelia, but it transformed quickly into outright lunacy.  The band entrenched themselves in one of the craziest jams of the entire tour with absolute aggression.  Mike’s basslines thumped a unique pattern buried deep under layers of experimental dissonance.  Trey and Page created a terrifying wall of sound as Fishman threw down a barely-human beat behind it all.  This was a voyage to the center of the earth, descending through the pathways of Hades.  This was the power of Phish rearing its head in a brand new way; this time as the soundtrack for an insane asylum.

507822011_63b14557b7Peeling away some of the layers in play, Phish took the madness down momentarily before returning to a peak that ended this twenty-minute adventure.  As the band let their effects echo out over the crowd, most people were completely floored by the sheer intensity of it all.  Phish had entered a whole new territory and it took a mental adjustment to process the music.  Yet, just as our minds were organizing the lunacy, Phish skillfully slid into the opening of “Makisupa.”  Ever the tacticians, the band used one of their more relaxing songs to bring people “back” from the netherworld of “Simple.”

The rest of the set would progress to great heights, closing the tour with the triumphant farewell of “Bathtub > YEM.”  However, none of jams would approach the daring experimentation and outright psychedelia of the not-so-“Simple” episode that took place at the beginning of the set.

LISTEN TO 11.29.98’s ROSES > SIMPLE NOW! (Roll over links and press play)



Aaron de Groot

(A. de Groot)

The feedback received to the idea of “No Spoilers” downloads was a resounding, “Hell, Yes!”  That being said, we are going to give it a whirl!  There were many questions that came up, as well as some good suggestions- I will address a few now, but there will be a FAQ put up soon regarding the process.

The downloads will be hosted on a separate page.  This is where the FAQ will also be posted, and I will publish that URL as soon as it’s up.  Regular downloads (tracked and labeled) of the Hampton shows will be  posted around the same time on Phish Thoughts’ home page, which will be the norm.  The goal is to have two mp3 files for download: “Set 1” and “Set 2+E.”  Every effort will be made to have one show posted before the next show starts, yet there is only so much within our control. (This time would be greatly decreased if there was a taper willing to join in on this project!)

While this all takes a lot of restraint on your part, it seems that people are willing to exchange patience for excitement, and we are gonna give it a go!  More to come…



7.24.93 Great Woods, Mansfield, MA < LINK

Great Woods, MA

Great Woods, MA

Here is Phish’s stellar performance at Great Woods in the revered Summer of ’93.  A ripping second set opened with the fire of “2001 > Split, Fluffhead,” while also featuring a strong “Mike’s Groove” with an outstanding “Weekapaug.” Phish were a week away from entering August ’93, one of their peak months ever, and here you can begin to see why.

I: Llama, Horn, Nellie Cane, The Divided Sky, Guelah Papyrus, Rift, Stash, The Mango Song, Bouncing Around the Room, The Squirming Coil

II: Also Sprach Zarathustra > Split Open and Melt, Fluffhead, Maze, Glide, Sparkle, Mike’s Song > Y-Rushalayim Schel Zahav > Weekapaug Groove, Purple Rain > HYHU, Daniel, Good Times Bad Times

E: Golgi Apparatus, Freebird

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141 Responses to “Not So Simple”

  1. Read Icculus Says:

    ….”Get your fresh Phish here!”……

  2. Jerrydamule Says:

    MM – I downloaded your 5/5/93 and 5/6/93 Albany shows (posted in the last 2 weeks or so). The 5/6/93 appears on my ipod as a .wav file. If FLAC = .wav, then I’m assuming itunes supports FLAC and MP3 formats.

    like I said, eery vortex… calmness before the storm

  3. contact420 Says:

    Wav files are supported by i-tunes. Apple has it’s own lossless file that’s similar to flac called AIFF which of course is supported by i-tunes

  4. Jer Says:

    Jerry, FLAC /= .wav…FLAC can be decompressed into a .wav, but they are not the same thing. AFAIK, the ipod will not play FLAC files, and there is not an app available that will play them. If you downloaded music from this site, I can almost guarantee you that they are mp3 files. The file names may have .wav included in them (but are actually mp3 -files-), thus the reason you see that on the 5/6/93. Please correct me if I’m wrong.

  5. contact420 Says:

    Yes that is correct i-tunes cannot play flac or shn files. They must be converted into .wav files to play in i-tunes using a compression tool such as xACT for apple users or MKWact for p.c users

  6. WALSH Says:

    My ‘Simple’ story, and the reason it is forever engraved on the folds of my grey matter.

    Come with me, back to the Summer of 1998 in Limestone, ME at the Lemonwheel festival! It is a gorgeous day in Maine, and everyone is getting ready for the first set of the Weekend. Arriving at the festival the previous day, we were approached by a fellow head with an offer to buy some L, while waiting in the line after the car search on our way to our parking space. Having done L, but never seen gel tabs before, I was intrigued..and two of the blue ones we bought hit the spot while walking around the freakshow that first night.

    Back to the 2nd day. Finding more gel tabs was the first priority of the day for us after the triumphant first night; and find them we did. Scored a sheet of green gel tabs for $100!!! SAAAA-WEEEET!!! Figuring color meant nothing, we dropped 3 each and went in. As the set started with Mike’s I was already getting out there and was wondering how this was jumping all over me, since I had only come down a few hours ago…but I had a great spot about 10 “rows” back from the stage.

    As ‘Simple’ began the riff began to really become unsettling to me and really seemed to be more in your face than normal(now i have listened back and it still seems more pronounced than other versions)…ANYWAY. I begin to see things around me moving a little bit slower by the second/minute/who knows? and the music is doing the same. Slower and slower IT all goes until…BOOM, Blackness! Then everything is back to normal, and I am fine. This happens a few more times and I finally need to get to the fence and try to get my shit together, I do NOT want to be that guy! It felt like it took hours to get to the fence, but I made it, with the same thing happening the WHOLE WALK! As I sit against the fence, I notice the security guards to my left. They probably didn’t even notice me, but I sure thought they did. So I start to bob my head to music, figuring I would look like I was just relaxing.

    Next thing I know there is a girl next to me and she is a MESS! I am still in and out of SLoow mooTIOn, and I really do not need any attention drawn to me…MMMMWWWAAAAHHH!!! She begins to projectile vomit, PERFECT!!! Cops and EMT are over by us in a second and a cop is asking me what this girl took, and if I sold it to her?!? All the while, his voice and movements are fading slower and SSLLLOOOWWWEERRR…BLACK! Then I come back out of it and he is just laughing at me and they take the girl away.

    I didn’t snap out of it until Divided Sky…MUCH later in the set. From then on I wanted to see another ‘Simple’ live, and couldn’t catch one, until Coventry…ouch. It is forever burnt on my psyche…for better or worse.

    Seems like a lifetime ago. : )

  7. Mr.Miner Says:

    yeah, but WAV files are BIG!

  8. carl Says:

    thanks for the up–the timing couldn’t be better, since i can now say: see y’all at great woods!!! (let’s not discuss the ethics of how)
    heart racing, nerves jangly

  9. easo91 Says:

    “Los – This blog has the 8 discs plus a bonus March 28th, 1992 disc:
    FYI, download from blogs at your own risk
    where is the bonus tweezer from?

    I don’t think anything on that blog is legal

  10. lot rat Says:

    three fuckin weeks

    you can smell it

  11. lot rat Says:

    diggin into a tasty other one>stella>playin reprise getting primed for some lot action………….ughhhhh donna just opened her trap.

    It been a long time since i got my teeth on a three night run of this sort. Simple or no Simple (my longshot to open) the groove is coming back.

    Anyone practicing the Meatstick?

  12. contact420 Says:

    My girlfriend practices on my meatstick every night

  13. General Zod Says:

    ….”To my ears the B&K 4011’s and anything made by Neumann
    …..are where it’s at! A lot of people like Scheops, I don’t, too warm
    …..and muddy from a distance and clarity more times than not
    …..suffers whether your FOB or not.”

    you have good ears…’re exactly right IMHO

  14. Pence Says:

    Miner, you should add a donation link anyway. With the type of entertainment ou provide everyday, you deserve a little monetary return.

  15. lot rat Says:

    “contact 420”

    BURY IT!

  16. tba Says:

    This 93 Great Woods show was like a rookie pro athelete breaking out for a huge game, showing he is going to be a hall of famer. Phish was not quite rookies, but this was one of their first big shows where they really brought the heat, showing they are the great live rock band of the 90’s generation. Pearl Jam is a close second, and Cobain is a fucking genius, but Phish is the live band dominating play, and here they pound it baby. There would be no more Keene Theaters or Townsend Family fun parks after this monster.

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