The Cincinnati Gin

14129230p2220030We sit amidst the six-year anniversary of Phish’s two week comeback run in the Winter of ’03.  As investigated earlier this week, Las Vegas was the springboard for the rest of a phenomenal run that restored our faith in the Phish.  Despite the many highlights  from this fortnight, there were two half-hour jams that were talked about, listened to, and revered more than any other pieces of music on this tour.  These two excursions came to represent all that was right in the Phish universe, signaling that Phish’s improvisational prowess was as healthy as ever; their desire to musically evolve was still ingrained in their ethos.  In a two-part- Friday / Monday- series we’ll check out these two jams-  Cincinnati’s “Bathtub Gin” and Nassau’s “Tweezer.”  Today- the “Gin.”

The Cincinnati weekend marked the halfway point of Phish’s short winter tour, and as the only other weekend stand besides Vegas, these shows drew fans from all over the country.  People needed to see for themselves a reinvigorated Phish, and the they would not be disappointed.

As the band came out for their final set of the weekend, everyone’s juices were flowing.  Dropping a fierce “Tube,” the band and crowd leapt into the fray together.  An infectiously-paced and funkified jam set the tone for the rest of the set; the best was yet to come.  As the band ended their escapade in groove, Trey morphed directly into the intro lick to “Bathtub Gin.”

13699475image9b58dede479711d7Wrapping up the composed section, the band got ready for take off and the crowd roared in anticipation of what was coming.  Trey wasted no time in getting started painting some initial melodies onto the musical canvas. But it wasn’t until a couple minutes in, when Mike dropped a heavy groove, that the improv really took off.  Fishman was right with him, and Phish moved directly into some outright dance rhythms.  This initial section of improv was characterized by robust rhythms and gorgeous melodic leads by Trey that fit congruently into the musical space.  Yet this uplifting section seamlessly transformed into something far more exploratory and adventurous.

Like Lewis and Clark exploring the west, the band were on a mission of their own, discovering their new direction for this chapter of their career.  Growing more aggressive and piano-heavy, the jam began moving away from its “Gin”-themed improv into some distinctly post-hiatus grooves.  Trey’s un-compressed edge provided an interesting juxtaposition against his bandmates’ slower offerings.  Then, as if a race horse cracked by the whip, Phish sped up the jam into double-time, creating a totally different, and more aggressive, musical feel.

13699471image9b586be0479711d71The band carried a rhythmic gallop into this section of improv, tearing into some enthusiastic full-on playing.  The driving textures of this jam shifted when Page began playing his clav, lending a pseudo-electronic feel to the music.  At this point, the band seemed to hit a place of contentment as they slowed down their pace, peeled away some layers, and dove into a less distorted, mellower musical pond.

Switching vibes all together, the band united in a more abstract place, bringing the improv even further into the unknown.  This is where the jam got extremely interesting.  With almost no beat, Trey began playing, and teasing, the “Gin” lick over a greatly divergent- almost electronic- backdrop.  With Page using extreme effects through his keyboards, Fish creating a shimmering, cymbal-heavy beat, and Mike playing a bizarrely melodic bass line, image004the band entered some other-worldy territory.  Meanwhile, Trey continued playing forms of the “Bathtub” melody over this demented Phish-tronica canvas.  Phish was molding incredibly unique music, with Page going off in directions unheard before.  Creating an “alternate” version of the song, their improv remained as connected to “Gin” as it was divergent- a wholly new musical experiment.  This was one of those times that Phish took a big risk, and overwhelmingly succeeded.

As Trey played some repetitive licks, signaling to wrap it up, the band and crowd emerged from being immersed in some deeply “other” Phish.  Finishing the jam collectively, and with authority, the band oozed back into a slowed down version of the song’s ending.  Flabbergasted, everyone exchanged looks of wide-eyed amazement as the band took a minute to collect themselves before decompressing with “Friday.”  While many shining moments developed over the week from LA to Chicago, this “Bathtub Gin” was the most divergent and defining musical portrait of the first half of tour.

(All photos from Cincy 2.22.03)



phish20baseball-400-x-585-111.6.96 Civic Coliseum, Knoxville, TN < LINK
With Phish about to return to Knoxville this summer, I thought we’d travel back in time to their last performance in Tennessee’s metropolis.  This show took place during the first week after Halloween’s “Remain In Light” performance- when the shows on tour really started to take off.  The second set is held down by a large “Mike’s Groove,” while the first is bookended by “Split” and “Bowie.”  Check out this under-circulated nugget from Fall ’96

I: Split Open and Melt, Cars Trucks Buses, Fast Enough for You, Taste, Train Song, Poor Heart, Punch You in the Eye, Billy Breathes, David Bowie

II: Wilson, The Curtain > Mike’s Song > Swept Away > Steep > Weekapaug Groove, Scent of a Mule, Sample in a Jar, Funky Bitch

E: Rocky Top

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104 Responses to “The Cincinnati Gin”

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  1. Baxter Says:

    Yes, phish 2.o broke new ground, as will the latest metamorphosis. Thanx for the downloads. We are soooooo looking forward to new phishy revelations to bail us out of our depression! Again, thank you Mr. Miner!

  2. Al Says:

    YYYEESSS!!! Knoxville, Charlotte, Auburn Hills and Pittsburgh were all GREAT 96 shows. Too sad they are so underrated…

  3. Brian Says:

    Excellent post, Miner. I find it interested that you chose to focus on the Gin from that weekend when there are so many highlights that are worthy to write about: The entire second set of the first night (specifically, Mike’s Song> Free> Waste> Also Sprach Zarathustra> Harry Hood). And then, of course the Piper>Weekapaug from 2/22. This whole weekend is a great listen! Thanks for posting!

  4. showhe Says:

    Besides the Weekapaugh from that night (that closed the Mike’s Groove from the Friday show), this is really the only other song that always pops into my head when I think of that sat. show. I had found a nice spot in the aisle way around the first level…by the time the gin ended I think I had made an entire circle around the arena because I couldn’t stop moving and grooving to this song. I wanted more, I could get enough and was kind of let down by their choice to play Friday (not a fan), but found it a good time to catch my breath and collect myself for the Bowie up next. Cheers to a 5 song 2nd set!

  5. Mitch Says:

    This weekend popped my Phish cherry. I was still a n00b and this is one of my most vivid memories from this weekend. I was floored. I still wasn’t 100% familiar with all the songs and this one blew me away. It was one of those moments that the outsider laughs at the spectacle of everyone in unison singing “we love to take a bath.” I listen to this show every year in February.

  6. ma Says:

    i’m certain many would agree that like minds not only think alike, but hear alike… wasn’t there, but often find myself listening to that tube>gin!
    have a great weekend! 2 more weeks!!

  7. nonoyolker Says:

    Phish 2.0 deserves some dap, thanks for the nod miner. The Cincy Bathtub is a heater (like the Mr. Completely tease to kick off the jam around minute 8), and that Tweezer from Nassau is totally out of this world. Can’t wait to read that write-up. I think that Tweezer and Crosseyed from Star Lake are the two best v2.0 jams (not sure how earthshatering a claim that is to make). One show from that winter tour that I think gets underlooked is the 2/26 from Worcester. Hot YEM opener, great ghost and a really tasty Stash. Give it a spin.

  8. AbePhroman Says:

    The Nassau Tweezer is light years better than the Cincy Gin, but it’s still good. The Gin from Nassau was sweet too, but it gets fluffed because the rest of the show was the heat.

  9. Jeff Says:

    this Gin was huge. Great review of a great version, but you failed to mention that the first major part of the jam was based off of Mr. Completely. I’ve heard of a DEG (that’s what I originally thought at the show) tease in the jam, but I think they (I) got that confused w/ Mr.C. Anyway, it was sick, but even sicker was the computer techno fuck that Trey and Page locked into at the end. A top version of Gin for me. Also, at the start of the Gin jam a glowstick war broke out and Trey caught one mid playing to the delight of the audiance. He then caught another (and I watched this all happen) and he did this quick arm behind the back toss back to the front row and pegged a dude RIGHT in the face! It was hilarious and on the SBD you can hear Trey gasp/laugh and he signalled an apology to the guy. Then he melted everybody’s faces.

  10. dyda Says:

    thanks for this post. love how distorted the whole band gets, especially trey, at the end of the tinkering with the gin theme to close out the jam

    shoreline gin from 7.9.03 is another monster version

  11. HSV 007 (CWgang) Says:

    Thanks for the memories Mr. Miner. Both of these Cincy ’03 show were incredible, but especially the 2/22 2nd set. From the Tube, Bathtub Gin opener to the Bowie, Bug, E: Suzie, it was the fire. The snow outside before & after only added to the heady metropolitan feel. Have a great weekend all.

    T-minus 14 days & counting……..

    “Here come the ambassadors, they show up one by one…”

  12. dyda Says:

    that is totally a mr. completely jam in there

    chicago jibboo, simple, and seven below…

  13. Chalkdustin Says:

    What a stellar, stellar gin. Don’t think I’ve heard this Knoxville show. Thanks for the bday nuggets.

    “Shocks my brain!”

  14. In Flagrante Delicto Says:

    I was broke as a joke for most of the Phish 2.0 shows, but lucky enough to catch both the Cincy shows. Vivid memories of driving up from Memphis through Kentucky.

    Everyone says they tore these shows up because of the fire in the band’s hotel, middle of the night before.

  15. Rodrick Says:

    Not to be a poopie-pants, but I have to strongly disagree with everyone’s notation that the Tweezer jam is the standout at Nassau as well as Phish 2.0. Earlier that evening, Phish launched the most tight and concise playing they probably laid down since ’98 on GBOTT. It was a perfect song. No aimless meandering adventures. Not just a psychedelic layering of tonal sounds. Straight up rock-n-roll jamming with a purpose. People talk about the Victor disc being just typical jamband noodling without much thought or risk-taking qualities. GBOTT is simply perfect.

  16. showhe Says:

    I’ve never felt such a high energy from a crowd that was coursing through the arena the first night of the cincy run and it def. carried on through to the next.

  17. A_Glide Says:

    The Mr. Completely talk made me throw in 7-15-03. Sick Sick Sick…

  18. SOAM Says:

    People are already in the lot-

  19. A_Glide Says:

    I just heard someone yell GARLIC GRILLED CHEESE!

  20. SOAM Says:

    I’m feeling a dust opener lately
    maybe a chalkdust>tube>wolfies

  21. Frankie Says:

    Who’s got my extra for these two boxes of XL-II’s ?

  22. nonoyolker Says:

    “Who’s got my miracle!?!?!” Funny story, SPAC ’04 I went with a ton of heads and my best friend was the only guy without a ticket. We were doing our thing in the lot, what i call “living the good life”, and my buddy went off to try to find a miracle. Like five min before we head in, my buddy comes running back ticket in hand. Apparently some guy had an extra and he set up a four square tournament and whoever won got to buy the extra. My buddy schooled heads and made it in by the opener.

  23. full tour: announced! Says:

    greensboro piper > 2001 was another winter 2.0 highlight.

  24. bhizzle Says:


    I have mixed feelings about glowsticks. At the Nassau show I sat behind stage and when it dropped the stick looked sweet (thanks for the paper, Strizzy), but when they started coming on stage it was different. And it was due to Trey catching one. Then all of a sudden everybody with a stick wanted to be the person who threw the stick Trey caught and then the sticks had to be dodged.


    Four square rocks!!! Awesome way to determine who gets “the extra”.

  25. Jeff Says:

    the glowstick thing is partyly the bands fault and partly the phans. When it first started Trey encouraged it. And times like the Cincy event, he seems to enjoy it. But I have also seen him end a set early due to it (Chicago ’00) There is no question it adds to the experience of the show and can really heighten the energy of the crowd thus getting the band going. Inevitably, much like balloons, they end up as a distraction to the band as they spend a few minutes dodging intentional beamings from some idiot fans. I’m not sure how much this affects the attitude of the band overall, but my feeling more times than not, they move on from the momentary shock of getting drilled. They have to be big boys and accept the designs of their creation. If they really had a problem with it they would release a staement telling us to chill. My fear is one of the guys getting drilled in the eye, and we are lucky that it hasn’t happened yet. I’ve seen Mike take an ass shot. We were front row and as the band walked on some girl just lined him up and threw it as hard as she could pegging Mike in the backside. He turned and looked briefly. About 3 real phans gave her an ass chewing and she cowered in embarressment. That’s about the best you can do.

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