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. kevin are hollo Says:

    behold the dark magustry of black magik dog log.

    this thing needs no theory mongering to justify its place in the nasty canon.

  2. Los Says:

    my 3/8/09 for your 3/7/09…


  3. kevin are hollo Says:

    ^thank you contact, cuz i thought i was gonna have to punch my computer screen to adjust the settings for more “alpine.”

    and speaking of magilla, wax banks should write a book about why that single song has been upheld by the band as a specific hallmark of great performances (at least from 94-2000).

  4. cottle Says:

    I had totally forgotten what 2001 used to sound like, before it got all spacefunk. Another good example, in my opinion, of the short and sweet 2001 is the 6/11/94? Red Rocks show. It’s pretty simple, but good nonetheless, and ends w/ this elongated, creepy sustained note that melts right into Antelope.

  5. c0wfunk Says:

    I love the page rhodes (clav?) riff in the old, short version of 2001, one of my favorite page riffs, but it sort of got lost in the space funk versions… I think it may be from the 70s porno funk version that they are covering.

    at Deer Creek in 2000, we had a little canopy setup on shakedown street where we were running our grilled cheese / pancake operation, and while we were in the show second night, someone tagged the canopy with a sticker that is a caricature of Mike in space in a space suit and the text “2001 a Bass Odyssey” .. It’s been on my coleman stove ever since! I’ve never seen the sticker before or since…

  6. elbows Says:

    Another interesting 2001 is from Alpine, 03 or 04. They do a YEM>2001>YEM, which looks GREAT of paper. However, from what I remember, it was not executed as well as it could have been. I’ll have to revisit that one.

    “Open the pod bay doors, HAL”

  7. full tour: announced! Says:

    ^ definately the fender rhodes ….it has that light airy sound to it. The clav is more bass heavy and pronounced.

  8. guyforget Says:

    Lemonwheel 2001 was the shit..

  9. Wilfred Brimley Says:

    @ Elbows…I was at first night ’04 Alpine and witnessed the YEM>2001>YEM to close the show and it was a let down for me…I kept missing both of these songs by a show or two [10 shows since ’99] and they were letdowns…They wasn’t too much synchronicity to the pairing in my opinion….I’ve stated before though that Trey was smacked up on this night…

  10. Matso Says:

    @ WaxBanks –

    I’m also a “strongly held opinions until shown otherwise” type of guy. But one thing I don’t have any strong opinions about and which you’ve added to the discussion is the “On The Corner” sessions. Now I have this beast of a set and I just don’t know what to make of it. Sometimes I’ll come across a section which I’m convinced is the apotheosis of full group playing. Other times Miles will have parked his coked-out ass on that shitty little organ he was playing at the time and completely ruin an otherwise excellent jam (Bill Laswell did well to tone that whiny noise down on Panthalassa). And then other times the sessions are just crap, pure and simple, and should never have been released other than for purely academic purposes (in other words, Teo Macero’s role should not be underestimated).

    Anyway, to swing this back around towards the Phish, I don’t think you can use the OTC sessions as a riposte to the perceived lack of structural integrity of Trey’s playing at GW 04. Your comment that “They’re all listening really, really hard” doesn’t sit right with me. In interviews, Dave Liebman and Pete Cosey have both said they didn’t know what the hell they were doing up there and that when Miles told them to play, they played their asses off more from fear of the great man than anything else. Often those solos – as sick as they are – sit on top of the churning groove with what sounds like minimal interplay with the rhythm section around them.

    I don’t think Trey’s playing suffered from a lack of listening in August 2004. At GW it sounds intact, but maybe a little distracted. And at Coventry, I’d say that at times it sounded like he was desperately keen to work with the band, but that his health issues prevented him from responding quickly enough. The strange thing about those final shows is that there are moments of near-brilliance and some great playing amidst all the flubs. The WOTC almost goes places and the Jim>Gibboo would have made for an astounding opener in any other circumstances but for the fact that people were still reeling from the hideous ordeal of simply getting there. It goes a bit downhill from there, but the Bag, the Twist and the Stash all have moments where you can piece together the elements of what would otherwise be very sick jams indeed (by the Drowned/Hood, it was over though and the second night was a near total write-off).

  11. In Flagrante Delicto Says:

    Had my first IT moment to 2001, opening the second set, Great Woods 1995.

    And my Clifford Ball DVD just arrived. I got the full pack, and they threw in all this extra shit. It’s awesome.

    Wrist bands, two 1996 Schvices, an unused camping ticket, a balsa wood glider, the old-school phish sticker, etc.

    Plus the tshirt and magnets that came with the deal.

    I’m quivering with anticipation for next week.

    And the dvd rips.

  12. full tour: announced! Says:

    who would like to do a heady trade?

    i have in hand mansfield 6/6 section 9….it would make my entire life to be able to trade that ticket to that show i cant make it to for ONE extra asheville.

    lets help each other out and say “f you” to the scalpers and fake “fans” trying to only make a quick buck at all our expense….


  13. Mr.Miner Says:

    Agreed Matso, re: Coventry. There are a few great musical moments, specifically

    Set 1 of the festival
    AC/DC Bag

  14. SOAM Says:

    set me freeeeeeeeee-Drowned is fuckin sick-never ever fails

  15. full tour: announced! Says:

    drowned> after midnight reprise from cypress is what borat would call “very nice!”

  16. Baxter Says:


  17. voopa Says:

    Totally agree about the ’98 Gorge 2001…the Mike’s>Weekapaug that follows is a must hear too. Try to catch a video…they were playing to CK5’s awesome display during these 3 numbers.

    Sacramento ’96 was fun too, with Trey and Fish playing and shouting James Brown riffs.

    Great post! New to this site and loving it!

  18. R1 Says:

    Hey In Flagrante – how long ago did you order your DVD’s? Wondering when I’ll get mine.

  19. dyda Says:

    heads up:

    livephish radio is playing the clifford ball right now

  20. soulish Says:

    My Hampton weekend just got a little sweeter as I was able to get front row tickets for cheap to see the Pittsburgh Symphony and Yuja Wang do Prokofiev’s 2nd Piano Concerto on the 5th in the afternoon. Seeing 50 or so musicians on top of their game and seeing a great young pianist up close will be a great lead in to seeing 4 musicians on top of their game for 2-3 hours 3 nites in a row, though for Phish I will be significanly further away, I don’t do the floor that well.

  21. c0wfunk Says:

    i really enjoy the split open and melt > blowing off steam jam > ghost from coventry .. and the parts mentioned above.. I think each set has a bonafide musical highlight, though the composed sections might as well be a recording for guitar hero..

  22. bhizzle Says:

    The old lady just called said I got my dvds too…..started as a bad day and in 1 hr I’ll have forgotten all about it.

  23. SOAM Says:

    I am going to see the days inn symphony and Mya Big Wong do 3 days of powertweaking ensemble concerto in the aftanoon as well-seeing this elder pianist will be the highlight of my life and this will be a great lead in to a 3 day weekend blackout.

  24. R1 Says:

    Another great contribution to the board SOAM

  25. SOAM Says:

    lighten up beethoven

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