A Space Odyssey

hw8“Also Sprach Zarathustra,” a thirty minute classical piece, was composed in 1896 by Richard Strauss as a musical response to Fredrick Nietzshe’s nihilistic writings in “Thus Spoke Zarathustra.”  The introduction to Strauss’ piece, the popular melody we know, was written as a “tone poem” with intentional unresolved harmonies to convey his belief of the unsolvable mystery of the universe.  This introduction came into popular culture in 1968 with its prominence in Stanley Kubrick’s “2001: A Space Odyssey,” musically symbolizing a cosmic rebirth.  Carrying as much power and profundity as any track in cinematic history, “Also Sprach Zarathustra” punctuated the humanistic themes that defined Kubrick’s work.  Though the Phish scene adopted the nickname “2001” from Kubrick’s masterpiece, the band took their musical inspiration from the ’70s fusion-era artist, Deodato, who transformed the classic piece into a funk-laden escapade.  It is his reworked version that Phish has popularized since 1993, thrilling audiences with its wide open space-funk textures.

Adopting the song in the Summer of ’93, Phish immediately grew addicted to its futuristic feel, as they opened virtually every second set of the tour with the adrenalizing piece.  A showcase for Kuroda’s lights and smoke machine, “2001” was a catalyst for big sets, serving as a launchpad into central jam vehicles such as “Mike’s,” “Maze,” “Antelope,” and “Bowie.”  This new four-minute funk intro hyped up crowds all summer long, and continued to play this role throughout ’94 and ’95.

861967917_598b96e7a4It wasn’t until until the historic Halloween ’96 show that “2001” began to develop.  On that night, guest percussionist Karl Perazzo convinced the band to settle into the ascending patterns before each passage through the song’s famed chorus.  Following Perazzo’s lead, the band molded a set of chunky grooves that stretched the song to seven minutes; an idea was born.  Not coincidentally, it was the “Remain in Light” set from this show that shifted Phish’s musical focus towards collective groove.

Throughout the rest of 1996’s fall tour, Phish continued to push the boundaries of “2001” with longer versions appearing in Memphis (11.18), Sacramento (11.30), and Las Vegas (12.6).  By the time Summer ’97 rolled around, “2001” had transformed into a new beast.  But it wasn’t until The Great Went’s out-of-body experience that we all realized the song’s potential.

Fitting congruently into Phish’s style of Fall ’97, “2001” was showcased across the country five times, and once on New Year’s Eve, establishing itself as one of the band’s preeminent vehicles for funk improvisation.  As the years progressed, the tiny intro of 1993 was long forgotten in favor of far more extended versions, as Phish created countless adventures in psychedelic space-groove.

Few songs are more liberating to hear live than “2001,” and below are five classic versions.  (You can listen to each on this page.)

***

12.6.96 The Aladdin Theatre, Las Vegas, NV

508820594_dd75c3239aThis version forever solidified “2001’s” place as a Phish jam.  Pushing this first set version longer than ever before, the band fully realized their next monster on the last night of Fall ’96.  This early extended rendition featured impressive improvisational chops by Page, a deep pocket from Mike and Fish, and some would-be classic ’97 funk lines from Trey, including his frequently quoted P-Funk licks.  Experiencing Phish crack like never before, fans came away from this set with a revelation and a preview of what was to come in the following year.

LISTEN TO 12.6.96 “2001” NOW! (Roll over link and press play.  These are big files, so let them load.)

***

8.17.97 The Great Went, Limestone ME

3251307446_d82a7cd91c1Amidst one of their greatest sets ever, Phish reinvented their space-age cover.  Standing in a vast field, under the heaven of a speaker tower, thick grooves rained like never before in our lives.  With a series of loops as a backdrop, Phish crafted a revolution.  In our first trip to the hallowed grounds of Limestone, the band and audience, alike, had a cathartic experience over a half-hour of bliss.  This was the first outlandish incarnation of “2001,” and the first where it was pretty clear that Phish was involved in some alien contact.  As the band members peeled off, one by one, to create an onstage mural, the other three kept the groove pumping with loose, yet locked, communication.  An experience like never before, this evening forever changed the course of the song and the band.

LISTEN TO 8.17.97’s “2001” NOW!

***

11.19.97 Assembly Hall, Champaign, IL

508840095_015303024fThe second appearance of “2001” in the Fall of ’97 proved to be one for the ages.  From the first snare hit, this version possessed the perfect tempo for the band to be able to go off, both individually and collectively, creating one of the tightest versions in history.  With to-die-for licks, Trey complemented Mike’s massive bass patterns like glue, while Page filled in the spaces in between.  Like the rhythmic maestro he is, Fishman framed this masterful improv with a delicate , yet driving, beat.  This version represents Phish smack dab in the middle of Fall ’97’s blossoming.  Whenever I want to listen to a “2001” specifically, this one usually finds its way to the CD player.

LISTEN TO 11.19.97’s “2001” NOW!

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7.17.98 The Gorge, George, WA

3182714970_58492826c3This ’98 version of “2001” has become virtually synonymous with the majestic venue of the pacific northwest.  A mathematical expression of this phenomenon would be “Phish + The Gorge = 1998’s “2001.””  A flawless example of Phish matching their music to their surroundings, this loose, laid back, and locked half-hour odyssey seemed to descend from the heavens as much as it emanated from the stage.  This version best represents the band amidst Mike’s sought after on-stage state of “half awake and half dreaming,” as the music flowed through them naturally and effortlessly.  Trey organically moved from wah-grooves to lead melodies as the situation dictated, spraying infectious guitar flair all over this adventure.  Heavy on the Rhodes throughout, Page enhanced the celestial feel of this jam, while Mike pumped out dominating bass lines.  Taking fourteen minutes to even approach the first apex, this was an exercise in psychedelic groove.  Featuring peaks and valleys, this version possesses incredible dynamism.

LISTEN TO 7.17.98’s “2001” NOW!

***

7.7.1999 Blockbuster Pavilion, Charlotte, NC

3306318907_c97d4edc21Opening an amazing second set, this “2001” boasted a hugely climactic eight-minute build up before Phish unleashed their fury.  This was a showcase for the band, who patiently worked through a memorable twenty-two minutes of space travel.  More atmospheric and less in your face, Phish built a lush soundscape out of this Summer ’99 classic.  Featuring an out of character rhythmic breakdown in the middle of this monstrosity, this version illustrates the risk-taking of Phish as well as their experiments with sound and texture that defined ’99.  This colossal set opener would be remembered for years to come.

LISTEN TO 7.7.99’s “2001” NOW!

*

Throughout its late-’90s history, “2001” was the bearer of some of the most epic dance sessions ever, as the song grew and morphed with the trends of Phish’s music.  One song that everybody loves to hear every time it is unsheathed, I recently considered the enticing prospect of  “2001” opening Hampton.  This would provide the requisite freak-out time for the entire crowd, and would levitate The Mothership immediately.  Following the bombastic “welcome-back groove session,” the band could slide right into “YEM,” opening 3.0 in regal fashion.  A kid can dream, right?  Whenever “2001” is first launched this time around, watch out, things will get crazy!

Other Top-Notch 2001s: Riverport 8.6.97, Hartford 11.26.97, Providence 4.4.98, Christiana 7.1.98, 8.8.98 Merriweather, Lemonwheel 8.16.98, Alpine 8.1.98, MSG 12.29.98, 12.2.99 Detroit, Philly 12.11.99, Hampton 12.18.99, 1.1.00 Big Cypress, Fukuoka 6.14.00, Cincy 2.21.03, Greensboro 3.1.03, Great Woods 8.11.04

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NO SPOILERS UPDATE:

hampton_outsideWe’ve heard some feedback and discussed things, and to err on the side of caution, we are going to revise our “uploading window” to be within an hour of the show finishing – unless something goes tragically wrong.  While we have thought this out, are confident, and have Plan Bs, some things are beyond our control.  It may be a bit faster, it may be a bit slower, but we’ll take care of you!

phishthoughts.com/nospoilers

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BONNAROO UPDATE:

bonnaroo1The headlining slots for Bonnaroo were announced yesterday.  Phish will be playing their late-night set on Friday, and closing out the entire festival on Sunday night with their two-set performance.  The Boss will headline Saturday night.  No one upstages the Phish!  This should be huge!

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PAGE ON TWITTER: A FALSE RUMOR

twitter_logo_125x29UPDATE: Scotty B at HiddenTrack did some sleuth work, proving that Jamptopia’s report is, in fact, bunk!  Check out his write up as to how he found out.

Over at Jamtopia.com, they have posted a story about the alleged recent use of Twitter by Phish members.  As if we needed more fuel for our overflowing souls, the most exiting item was this recent update from Page regarding Hampton:

Page_McConnell is absolutely amazed, exhausted and exhilarated, but it’ll all be worth it! We promise

I think they are trying to make us lose sleep this point.  For more news about Phish on Twitter, check out Jamtopia’s article! (FYI: Theories abound that this might not actually be Page.)

======

DOWNLOAD OF THE DAY:

9.17.00 Merriweather Post Pavilion < LINK

Merriweather Post

Merriweather Post

Sticking with this week’s trend of gems from 2000, this show may take the cake.  With a second set that is filled to the brim with type II Phish improv, and an hour and forty-five minute first set boasting several favorites including “Fluffhead” (for the second to last time) and “Curtain (With),” this show was arguably the best outing of the fall.  Immersed in the mystical woods of Merriweather, Phish accessed some deeper magic from the dawn of time in creating sparkling memories on the last tour of Phish’s initial go round.

I: Guyute, Back on the Train, Bathtub Gin, Limb by Limb, The Moma Dance, Lawn Boy, Fluffhead, The Curtain With, Chalkdust Torture

II: Rock and Roll > Theme from the Bottom > Dog Log > The Mango Song > Free

E: Contact, Rocky Top

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125 Responses to “A Space Odyssey”

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  1. Matso Says:

    I hate to take issue with an otherwise exhaustive post on 2001, but what about the 8/13/97 Starlake version? Coming in the middle of set II after the excellent Jim, Ghost>Izabella package, this version fully realised the funk potential of the song a few days before the mammoth (and possibly bloated?) version at the Went.

  2. Mr.Miner Says:

    ^ Couldn’t fit every one Matso! That one was great, yet short, and was outshone, IMO, by the other two of the summer. I couldn’t just list every one from 97/98 (though it was tempting) 😉

  3. c0wfunk Says:

    I always found it sort of funny (ironic funny?) that Phish never got the chance to play 2001 in the year 2001.

  4. Matso Says:

    Hey Miner, you’re making it sound like the Starlake 2001 was ‘just another 2001’. I beg to differ 😉 I haven’t compared it to the Riverport version in a long time, but I’m sure it holds its own and IMO is better than the 8.8.98 (which wasn’t all it could have been). I certainly turn to the Starlake 2001 more frequently than the Went version despite the hugeness of the latter (I usually skip from the Rocky Top straight to the Hood in that set).

    Btw, the Great Woods 2004 version (which you have mentioned) is fantastic. Trey’s soloing in both that and the Antelope is outstanding and really purposeful (ie. not noodly at all). I never could get my head around how he could have played with such clarity, originality and focus a mere few days before the calamity of Coventry, but hey that’s all in the past, me have no regrets.

    Btw, that Twitter remark from Page is beautiful. I love Phish and despite not knowing when I’m going to see them again (no summer tour for me), I am so excited for what is to come.

  5. DFB Says:

    This is a great list, and I hate to complain, but I think in your pre-Hampton excitement, you forgot about a 2001 that is generay accepted as one of the best – 12/29/98! It SHOULD be a top 5, but not even an honorable mention?

  6. Joe England Says:

    I if i had to explain this band using only a cover song that they play to do so it would be 2001

  7. Pence Says:

    Going off memory 9-17-2000 is the best Dog Log ever.

  8. Wax Banks Says:

    Heh. I’ve always preferred 11/26/97 to the version from a week prior, but a lot of that is probably just frequency of play – w/r/t 11/19 I always wanted to get right to that astounding ‘Wolfman’s Bro,’ and back in the day before ‘Next Track’ was a possibility, well…

    OK, reminiscing about Fall ’97 is well and good as always, but my problem is this: the Great Woods ’04 version of ‘2001’ is a fucking sham, along with most of that two-night stand. Trey was rubbish the first night through, no matter, but the second night – the supposed face-saver – was notable mainly for its comedy and crowd participation (the ‘Fishman vote’ and percussion duet dragged even at the show – wasted opportunity, alas).

    Like so many tracks at these two shows, the Mansfield ‘2001’ features excellent playing from three members of Phish and a near-absent guitarist (which arrangement mars a coulda-been tremendous ‘Wolfman,’ btw). His ‘directed’ playing isn’t spare and minimalist, it’s spare and repetitious; the entire second half of the song he plays a single lick. It isn’t daring; hell, Trey and the others were doing that sort of thing literally twenty years ago in front of audiences a hell of a lot less willing to put up with their shit. 🙂 The cool moments of guitar playing near the beginning of the tune could’ve happened anytime, but they don’t start anything or go anywhere. They’re just…notions.

    Like just about everyone else at those Great Woods shows, I held out high hopes after 8/10 (everyone in the band really came to play but Trey, and I hoped against reason that he was sick or tired) and had a fine time on 8/11. But like the Kesey madness from 1997 and the Went ‘Art Jam’ (and unlike, say, the ‘Gene Simmons’ goof on 2/20/93) the fun just doesn’t make for good listening at home. Dishonorable Mention for this ‘2001,’ and the two-night stand of which it’s an alleged highlight!

  9. lovematicgrandpa Says:

    Great posts as usual Miner. Fans of 2001 and especially “evil” Phish should check out the version from Memphis in ’99 (9.29.99). “Die, Die, Die” That whole set II is great Phish. The evil 2001 goes into Disease. This version of Disease was on it’s way to being an all-time top version, then it meandered and lost some steam, but it still has some absolutely stunning jamming.

  10. Baxter Says:

    11/19/97 is a stand-out for me. Perhaps because the HAL9000 computer in the movie was made in Urbana, so Phish had to play the song at Champaign-Urbana?

    Because this song symbolizes a new beginning, and because Hamp is the space ship, I now believe that “Also Spracht Zarathustra” will be the opener,. and close with “The Curtain”.

  11. HSV 007 (CWgang) Says:

    Thanks again Mr. Miner. 2001 is an all time favorite, jump up and shake your ass tune. The crowd knows whats coming & the band draws out the creshendo of excitement to the fullest. These are some of Kuroda’s finest moments, especially in the intro. I completely agree with the 10.31.96 ATL being a turning point for this song. The horns on stage kicked it to a whole different level. The 8.8.98 version is a monster not to be missed. There is something about the darkness on MPP

    BTW, didn’t an older 70’s funk/soul band cover this as well? Grant Green or Richard “Groove” Holmes…..the exact band name escapes me.

    8 days till super space phunk in the mothership.

  12. Matso Says:

    @ WaxBanks –

    Easy fella! I’ll have to go back and relisten to the 2001 in question and see if I feel like changing my mind. I doubt it though: the spare and ‘repetitious’ playing is actually what sets this one apart for me.

    As someone who has demonstrated his musical bona fides in other posts, you should know that ‘mere’ notions and suggestion are sometimes extremely effective in an improvisation context. An obvious reference point is Miles Davis. I recently saw his former cohort Wayne Shorter take a similar approach in two brilliant one hour-long pieces of full band improvisation. Why not our man Red?

    So to my ears, this 2001 sounded more considered than some of the aimless versions of 99/00 where Trey sometimes just wah-wah out a series of hackneyed licks.

    It’s been at least a year since I last listened to the GW 04 shows, so I admit I might be wrong. I’ll need to go back and review. But I also wasn’t there in person, so I’m not suffering from any bad show trauma, which you sound like you might be. (Note, no other claims of greatness were made about the Great Woods shows as a whole, even though I don’t think they were as rubbish over all as you’re suggesting.)

    (btw, you mentioned the 7/24/98 Wolfmans recently, which I hadn’t heard before. It’s good. Very good. Thanks for the tip.)

  13. colonelforbinn Says:

    Anyone have an educated guess as to what time Phish will start playing for their ‘late-night’ set at Bonnaroo?

  14. nonoyolker Says:

    @ Wax Banks
    Couldn’t disagree with you more. Great Woods 2001 was tight. Ease up.
    Great work from Miner to comprise a top shelf list. Made for a great morning read.

  15. brocksburgh Says:

    I could listen to Fish play the 2001 groove all day long. A crazy version that I’ve rarely heard mentioned but is definitely notable is 9/29/99. Trey sounds like a machine, layering loops on top of loops for the first 12 minutes until they touch the actual 2001 theme.

    Miner, if your call of 2001 > YEM opening Hampton comes true, that place will absolutely go off. I can’t wait.

  16. Baxter Says:

    The most memorable 2001 I ever saw was at Boston Garden on NYE 94 when the band got in a giant flying hot dog, and a huge marsh mallow war broke out between the audience and the guys in the flying hot dog. It just blew my mind.

  17. showhe Says:

    I had a very vivid phish dream last night….I was at Hampton backstage before the show started talking with Trey and how we all hoped for the best for him and the band. Then they go on-stage and Fish kicks in with the all too familiar beat. The band rages this out straight into a weird ass Harpua….somehow Sheryl Crow ended up on stage and was part of the story. I think I pretty much woke up after that…it was an odd ending to a phish dream.

    So my call on the opener after last nights dream:
    2001>Harpua*

    *featuring Sheryl Crow

    😀 lol.

  18. SOAM Says:

    wb-stop pissing in my face.

  19. Frankie Says:

    @showhe
    Ahahaha! Let’s hope not… 🙂
    What did you eat before going to bed? 😀

  20. Frankie Says:

    I was lucky enough to see a great 2001 in Toronto in ’99 and what i remember most were those bright white lights behind the band with each punch… it was just surreal and added so much to the experience… can’t wait to see those again…

    One of my favorite 2001 is without a doubt the one at the end of Big Cypress… it feels as though the music is playing the band and it’s so emotional considering they were at the end of a marathon set… they just play so loose and relaxed…

    What a band Phish is where, with each song, you can argue which version is the best and there won’t be any winners ’cause there is so many amazing versions of each song and at the end of the day, it depends on the state of mind you have when you hear a particular version, that makes you like it or not… it’s music which needs the contribution of the listener…

    This morning, i listened to the Red Rocks ’95 Mike’s Groove for the first time and it became an instant favorite… among many others… 😀

  21. sh!t scared-out of ram Says:

    shenanigans on the twitter post.

  22. Powder Lips Says:

    Went 2001 was a monster, always loved the song in its short classic form, but as a show goer this is when I reliezed its full potential. Really one of my favorite show memories, the collective band/crowd/maine energy during that performance was out of hand

  23. camman Says:

    showe… you must have hit a wrong key cause D.C. is NOT 4 hours from STL, try something more along the lines of 14 hours….

    and this is the way it has to be. I’ll be in the fox, coughing up $250 bucks for a ticket. thats just the way it is…

    i won’t miss out on them Miner on this band

  24. Matso Says:

    I’ve been thinking about Page’s Twitter comments. I wonder if what he’s referring to is the band practicing some new and difficult piece, or more specifically, Time Turns Elastic.

    New, intricate composed material = “absolutely amazed, exhausted and exhilarated, but it’ll all be worth it!”

    I wouldn’t be surprised if they dropped this at Hampton as a long full band suite, making perhaps for a 3 song second set, or a 40+ minute encore.

  25. hawkinbj Says:

    Holy crap would it be awesome if they opened with this at hampton…..no words, just Fishing dropping straight into the driving snare-beat and opening up a can of funk.

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