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)

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“NO SPOILERS” HAMPTON DOWNLOADS UPDATE

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…

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DOWNLOAD OF THE DAY:

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. Jerrydamule Says:

    Don’t particularly love or hate Simple (although I do prefer H20 in my sandwich), but the part of Simple that consistently grabbed my attention would be the somewhat composed closing segment… the part where they would break it down and Trey’s single notes would carry the melody over a quiet backdrop, seesawing between major and minor note refrains. (I’m not a musician, so I’m probably not expressing this correctly.) I always found this part to be quite beautiful, entrancing, and perfectly juxtaposed as a soothing exit to the thunderous quality of the main part of the song.

    22 days… it eerily feels like the calm before the storm

  2. MangoMan Says:

    yea I agree.. the ‘outro’ of simple is great.

  3. spideyguy0 Says:

    showhe, ive seen Strange Design. If you’re drunk enough it starts to sound enough like Phish that its a good time. They’re playing 2 shows by me in the next couple weeks and I’m going, cause its a lot of fun for a bar show, but its not Phish (not that I’ve ever seen Phish, but you can get a pretty good sense by listening to their respective tapes). Listen to the samples on thestrangedesign.com and keep in mind that it sounds slightly better live.

  4. kevin are hollo Says:

    @showhe

    i highly recommend strange design, if you venture over to their site you’ll find a review of their columbus ohio show by yours truly.

    not sure i captured it accurately or not (a bit too much coffee), but you’ll get the gist.

    those guys are VERY accurate in their representation / illustration / channeling of the phish sound. the drummer in particular has a very loose-limbed approach, can do the polyrhythms but also the hammering cavern type stuff with equal aplomb.

    songs to watch out for (in terms of precision, energy and overall abandon): split open and melt, stash and antelope.

    they really blew me away with stash, taking it out late in the second set for a long walk around the nuyorican block, chooknow? as i walked out it occurred to me (not for the first time) that stash is probably THE phish song.

    xoxo
    kev

  5. contact420 Says:

    Mr. Miner,
    While I congratulate you on a wonderful site and your great insight into the world of Phish I must make a recommendation on your idea to post the Hampton shows after they happen in mp3 format. I was hoping that your site would be able to handle a lossless format for your Hampton posts. If unable to do so, how about a direct link to the shows on bt.etree.org ? This Hampton run will be posted no later than 24 hrs after each show and I’m sure there will be multiple sources available for all to choose from and enjoy. If you would like to set up a designated server here at phish thoughts for bit torrent posts, I have people who will help you get up and going. Just a thought

  6. guyforget Says:

    please enlighten me….

    what do you mean “lossless”. i download the shows from this site and they come in a zipped .rar file, then i extract them and they are mp3s??

    is there a better way i should be doing this??

  7. Chalkdustin Says:

    @ Kevin

    Stash is the song that hooked me on Phish. The first time I heard it, I was floored. Who were these guys and how on earth do they create such a deep and powerful vibe? Stash is hands down one my favorites- I call it a sonic orgasm. It builds and builds then finally climaxes into a running flow of melody. Love it.

  8. Mr.Miner Says:

    ^^ me no understand. I could certainly put up links to BT’s FLACS under the mp3 downloads, but my intention is to have mp3s available as quickly as possible for ease and convenience (320kbps). Email me more about your server ideas…..Not sure I’m following….Also, massive bandwith for FLACS = more $$ for bandwith…..I’m open to ideas / donations, etc…

  9. elbows Says:

    Good afternoon everyone! Simple was always one of those tunes that I sort of ‘forget’ about, in a sense that I never really anticipate it, chase it, etc. But when I hear it, it’s always a pleasure. Never a song I’ll put on, but that opening riff is really catchy in agood way, and the song is so celebratory. I’ve always been a sucker for ‘anthematic’ songs, and I think Simple qualifies.

    Totally off topic, but I’m hoping someone can help me: In my car, I have an unlabeled mix, and the Tube is, for lack of other words, stupendous! In fact, it’s my favorite pre-funk Tube. So I’m trying to figure out the date, and I think it’s the Game-Hoist show (6-26-94?). Anyhow, the only real distinguishing character, and part of the reason I LOVE this Tube, is that Page sort of teases Foam during the “What’s that rubber bottle…” through “shelf of pregnant hens” parts. Help would be very much appreciated!

    Besides the ‘no spoilers’ page, will you be doing a regular review of the previous night’s show every morning? I only have tickets to Sunday, so the next best thing to being inside the show is reading your spot-on reviews. No pressure to do it; lord knows you’re doing enough. I was just wondering.

  10. contact420 Says:

    Yes. Lossless files are uncompressed. mp3 files are much smaller. What happens is when converting to mp3 the program takes sound out of the recording that it finds unimportant and makes the file smaller. Now for store bought music, converting to mp3 is not such a big deal because the recording is strong, has been mastered and is a soundboard recording. Audience recordings suffer so much when converted to mp3 because parts of the singnal have been removed. 16 bit recordings are lossless format and now with tech improvement 24 bit recordings are available now as well. Huge difference. http://wiki.etree.org/index.php?page=BitTorrenthttp://www.shnflac.net/index.php
    http://bt.etree.org/index.php
    The first link is faqs about lossless files and how to download them. the next two links are where to find lossless Phish

  11. Mr.Miner Says:

    ^^ is the difference b/w FLAC and mp3 really news to anyone on here!?!

    elbows-
    Yes, reviews will be posted with shows to follow asap…

  12. contact420 Says:

    I posted this on yesterday’s thread…I’ve ben collecting shows since ‘92. Audience recordings are very personal. 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. Others swear by the Scheops, it’s all personal. Lossless is the only way to go. The recordings definitely suffer when downgraded to mp3. For you noobs looking for Phish, the 2 main sites are http://bt.etree.org/index.php and LL @ http://www.shnflac.net/index.php bt.etree has a ‘98 project well underway and Lossless Legs has just begun a 2000 project no more than 2 days ago! Most projects on LL have multiple sources for each show while BT.etree usually does not. Most of you already know this info, you noobs probably do not so here ya go, and never encode to a lossy format…enjoy

  13. contact420 Says:

    Just trying to help the new comers Mr. Miner. I know you know this stuff

  14. guyforget Says:

    Thanks Contact, what i’m asking is should i be treating the downloads on this page differently than what i’ve been doing?

    Miner, what format do you intend to be delivereing these downloads in? i get them in mp3 after opening the .rar

    is this correct or am i an idiot?? bring it, i’v got thick skin.

  15. Mr.Miner Says:

    ^ Guy, no you are doing everything correct.

    I intend them to be mp3s for convenience of dropping them right into itunes / ipod.

    FLACS are .wav files which IS the exact music as it was recorded. Mp3’s are compressed files, often losing a bit of roundness, warmth, and high end.

    I will continue to host mp3s on Phish Thoughts, and will be happy to link to BT pages where lossless copies are.

    As for not transferring FLACS to mp3s. That’s some old school taper nonsense! (Yes, FLACS / wavs) do sound better on a legit stereo, but also take twice as long to download and then conversion, burning…etc.

  16. kevin are hollo Says:

    @guy

    you’re not an idiot. the .rar is an archived (zipped/compressed) set of files that allows for faster download times. enclosed within are the MP3s.

    the only issue here is sound quality: the MP3s are small and fast but tinny and washed out sounding.

    the FLAC or SHN formats are “lossless” (never completely true), and sound warmer and fuller (more natural).

    as of now, the host of this site is only offering things in MP3 format, but the other formats are available with torrent-type sites.

    xoxo
    kev

  17. kevin are hollo Says:

    ^there ya go.

    dontcha wish blogs could be real time? ;p

  18. contact420 Says:

    It would be cool Mr. Miner if you did have a server for bit torrent trading! Phish Thoughts would be a one stop shop for all phish needs. It would cost more money to handle the big files, but a pay-pal donation link could help. I bet there would be a lot of people interested in making this place the premier site for all things Phish including the hottest sources. Sounds like it’s time to expand. People may start to want to release their sources here first. Being a member of Workingman’s Tracker for all things Jerry I’ve seen that site explode to over 2000 members and the site is completely self-sufficient through donations. Check it out guys if you love Garcia! http://gdvault.com/tracker/index.php

  19. showhe Says:

    @spidey and kev…

    Thanks…I’ve been listening to their clips on their website. Not really bad, the vocals are a tad lacking but I’m sure it sounds better live. As far as the playing they are pretty right on. If I can round up a posse I may hit it up…being old and it being a college bar I may look out of place by myself…although I usually look out of place anyway.

  20. devo Says:

    i am really in the mood to hear some great ambient phish jams. Can anyone point me towards one specific show that has great ambient jamming throughout. I suppose I started thinking about this since Miner wrote today about simple. I am not a huge simple fan, but do enjoy it when it is jammed out in a nice melodic, ethereal, and ambient way.

  21. A_Glide Says:

    Anyone check out what Hampton is going for on stub hub recently? $750 for Friday.

    Absolutely rediculous. I knew I should have pulled the trigger at $350, I just couldn’t bring myself to do it.

    At this point I’ll consider almost any trade, 4 for 1 both nights Alpine Pavilion 2 ea. night for 1 Friday Hampton if anyone is interested.

  22. guyforget Says:

    good, so, are people asking you for more from the hampton shows than what you usually do? jeez, some people….

  23. guyforget Says:

    thanks Kev, and Miner. i know about the other formats being better than mp3, i was just going to be extremely mad at myself for converting the over 100 downloads from this site to mp32 when they could have been another format!!!

    And Contact, i was just busting your chops…

  24. Mr.Miner Says:

    contact- I’m, into it….email me @ mrminer@phishthoughts.com to discuss…

    I want this to be a one stop Phish shop- that was def it’s intention… heading out for a bit, but i’ll get back to you…..donation button would be KEY

  25. nonoyolker Says:

    devo – if you want ambient, go for the ambient jam from lemonwheel. That’s an hour of serious ambience… I think miner posted it a while back.

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