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!


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



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!




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!



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.)



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”

  1. hawkinbj Says:


  2. Wax Banks Says:


    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.

    Oh I wouldn’t use 99/00 in the tune’s favour either. 🙂

    What you’re hearing as considered or deliberate playing sounds to me like stasis – I love Phish’s spacious spare playing (e.g. the Fukuoka ‘Twist’ that Miner posted about recently, incredible!) and was surprised by how much I enjoyed Trey’s recent growling blues stuff with TAB, but in the 8/10-11/04 shows Trey just sounds disconnected to me; he’s not working with the band architecturally, not building into something greater than his notions. Pretty much every day I listen to Miles’s On the Corner sessions while I write, and part of what I like about ’em is that the band is playing really, really spare music, but exploring a wide variety of colours and spaces even within a track. They’re throwing out lots of ideas, keeping them manageable and communicable for the ensemble’s sake – and each player manages to actually play more than one damn thing per track. They’re all listening really, really hard.

    That’s what the GW04 ‘2001’ is missing, for me: after the first minute of guitar notions it sounds like Trey is repeatedly insisting on this one lick, and not responding to the cool space the rest of the band has set up. He sounds like he’s having a lazy good time; good for him, but that’s not the job.

    I’m not suffering from any bad show trauma, which you sound like you might be.

    True. Nothing else happened at the shows; they were just a letdown after my previous Phish show, 6/19 at SPAC (otherworldly). I listened to a little of Coventry the other day and just couldn’t deal with it; there’s no point. The emotions of the breakup were so strong even without hearing the band (really Trey) in such poor form – extra depressing after that great June ’04 run.

    I tend to imagine for myself the juvenile obligation to form strong opinions about everything, though I’m happy to change them – strong opinions loosely held, etc. When I’m not talking about the 8/04 shows I don’t feel anything about them, save for Coventry which is so symbolically overloaded. I like what the rest of the band was doing back then, but Trey was a goddamn mess up there, wasn’t communicating fluently with his bandmates. Which means the 8/04 music is easy enough to latch onto: maybe it’s (oddly) more like the usual tight-rhythm-section/loose-guitarist solo model of many other rock bands. But it doesn’t have the density of ideas even Phish’s spaciest ‘ambient’ music long had.

    This isn’t convincing, I know. I can’t quite concentrate at the moment. Shorter version: the GW04 ‘2001’ feels like coasting, and Trey’s repetitious guitar figures don’t sound like interesting ideas to be shared but default gestures that lead the band nowhere. It’s a static performance rather than a clear, deliberate one. Also: I need breakfast! And not to be hungover. 🙂

  3. Pence Says:

    did anyone see what the final bid was for the fishman lunch and fox tickets was through mimi fish auction

  4. Wax Banks Says:

    @SOAM –

    wb-stop pissing in my face.

    Don’t put your face there, man!! That’s just Good Bathroom Etiquette 101.

  5. Clod Says:

    This song to me is all about Kuroda. The smoke machine during the beginning gives a sense of mystery and uncertainty to the song. By the time the music is going, I love the “searchlight” sensation of the light show. More than a few times in my life, during this song, the whole stage looked like space ship, in the spirit of Close Encounters, roaming and searching. And then, obviously, the pre-programmed Kuroda work during the chorus is unbelievable.

    In my few posts here, I always seem mention my daughter, but I guess she has been my Phish partner for the last five years. Every now and then, I put on the 1996 Vegas DVD and go straight to the 2001. I turn out the lights in the house and the room becomes a colored frenzy with the Kuroda’s light show projecting into the Living room, with my daughter jumping up and down and “singing” (Daaaaa….Daaaaa…Daaaaa…DaaaDaaaa – she does not know the name of the song. That is what she says when she wants to hear it). She is, however, not as much as a fan of the Karl Perazzo inspired ascension groove as dad is.

    I know that the Hampton opener name game is been played out, but 2001 would be a sensible choice because they could play the “smoke machine” intro and “ascension groove” while the crowd is going nuts and by the time the crowd settles down (relatively speaking), they could work into the chorus section.

    It is snowing in Vermont right now. If it snows hard next Friday when I catch my flight southward, I may just freak out.

  6. showhe Says:

    @Camman ~ DC = Deer Creek…sorry for the confusion dooder.

  7. Frankie Says:

    The Phish bag is full of new surprises! 😀

  8. Pence Says:

    Im looking forward to hearing the 2001 for the clifford ball dvd that I just received confirmation that it shipped!!! Its happening.

  9. Baxter Says:

    First set hamp= 2001-YEM-Alligator-The Eleven-Bug-Fluff Head-Mike’s Song

  10. Frankie Says:

    @Wax Banks
    On the corner is a fantastic album! Never heard the whole sessions though… Just like i never heard the Tribute to Jack Johnson sessions…

    I’ll put it on the list…

  11. Pence Says:

    not to mention the CK5 split scren should be sweet.

  12. Frankie Says:

    @ Pence
    I got it too! Can’t wait to see the Flatbed Jam!! 😀

  13. elbows Says:

    Thank you Mr. Miner! Sprach is by far my favorite Phish cover, and probably top 5 in their catalogue. Coincidence that A Space Odyssey is my favorite movie? Coincidence that 2001 was the first live Phish song I ever heard (Urbana 97…I drove from Chicago, missed first set, and my newb ass was launched into space)? 2001 is a sure-fire way to melt those egos and board the astral ship, everytime.

    I wholeheartedly agree with an above poster who mentioned the Memphis 99 2001…9/29/99, I believe? First of all, the show was in a PYRAMID. Phish launched through the summit of that building and the feedback I’m convinced is the echoes of utterances of the Dog Star Sirius being transmitted back to us in appreciation for acknowledging them. This 2001 is well worth checking out. The only problem is that the quality of the show I have suffers a bit…I’d would LOVE to get a nicer sounding version of that show, if anybody knows if it’s available.

    I love the extended space-funk jams, I love the quick but powerful 93 versions, and all in between. Check out the Cinci’ 03 2001…while not the greatest version ever, Trey teases Bach’s Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring towards the beginning. The atonal notes wafting slightly unparallell to the 2001 rhythm is mind-melting, although it only lasts 20 seconds. Worth listening to, though.

    Again, Mr. Miner, thanks for a great post. I’d encourage everyone to listen to the Memphis Pyramid Sprach. Out of this world.

  14. Scott Bernstein Says:

    Anyone else think Page’s twitter is run by a fan? I don’t think he’s the type to write “thinking chalkdust” and “feeling happy and healthy.”

  15. admiral french pockets Says:

    Bernstein, I saw your comment on Jamtopia’s page and I 100% agree with you. Gordo and Phish Inc are legit on Twitter, but this Page thing is all BS. Wine coolers? Happy and Healthy? C’mon now….

  16. full tour: announced! Says:

    that greensboro 2001 was oozing with heady goodness. There was literally music dripping from the ceiling. Liquid basslines from gordon, generally slippery fender rhodes mastery from page…dirty dirty trey laying it down…fishman the human beat machine!

  17. spideyguy0 Says:

    Alright, I found out last night that the guy who set me up with Saturday and Sunday tix and a hotel, and said he was getting me Friday got screwed over by a broker for the Friday. Now I’m out of luck for the first show back, and really looking for some type of miracle, since now I don’t even have the option of buying $400 StubHub tickets if I wanted to. If anyone out there has extras they can part with please keep me in mind. I’m not looking for charity, I’ll pay, above face, but not $600. Also have 1 mezzanine for 6/4 and a lawn for 6/7 and although I told myself I wasn’t gonna part with those it’s looking like I may have to.

  18. full tour: announced! Says:

    cypress 2001 sounded like the band was hooked up to a giant underwater breathing apparatus machine. With each breath came sweeping tonality and some solid licks. Nothing tops that “big cypress” sound. it was definately surreal.

  19. Mr.Miner 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?”
    ^^ correct! edited.

  20. Mr.Miner Says:

    “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.”

    ^^ re: 8.10.04- BINGO! That version absolutely smokes!

  21. Mulcahey Says:

    just have to say thank YOU for including the 7/7/99 2001

    that was my first show… and in my n00bmindedness, i went home and tried to find the phish CD that had 2001 on IT

    little did i know…

    THANKS FOR THAT MINER! if i recall there was some trey/jedi guitar in the air antics (that he permanently ruined by putting a similar picture on the cover of the shine album)

    after that show, i was pretty impressed!

  22. Mr.Miner Says:

    “Anyone else think Page’s twitter is run by a fan? I don’t think he’s the type to write “thinking chalkdust” and “feeling happy and healthy.””

    ^ Good point Scotty.

  23. shpongleyez Says:

    Woooo! I often forget 2001 (somehow) when thinking of favorite Phish tunes. Love it, and love the dream opening to Hampton 2001 > YEM. That’s what I’m talking about, kid!!!

  24. Mr.Miner Says:

    ^ Yesss, Kid!

  25. contact420 Says:

    My favorite 2001 is 8/01/98 Alpine Valley and the reason is simply:

    2001 > Magilla > 2001

    This is a prime example of how tight Phish was. Doing a slick phunky rhythm to 2001 and than turning on a dime into a great jazz riff (magilla) and than back to the 2001 at the drop of a hat. I feel this is a choice 2001!

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