Straight Across

Equilibrium: a state of balance between opposing forces or actions.

In "Line" at Hampton (J. Kravitz)

In "Line" at Hampton (J. Kravitz)

Equilibrium is the state that Phish attains when things are flowing subconsciously- in from the universe and out through their instruments.  It is this state that is sought every time the band steps on stage; sometimes it happens, sometimes it doesn’t- but the ride of discovery is half the fun.  Phish has utilized different techniques throughout their career in a constant attempt to achieve this musical balance.  From their famous “Fill in the ‘Hey” hole” jamming exercise to their collegiate Oh Kee Pah Ceremonies; from “the Blob” that formed Billy Breathes to their collaborative funk grooves, Phish has continually strove to reach a musical equilibrium.

3.8.09 (Unknown)

3.8.09 (Unknown)

One of Phish’s techniques used to achieve this balance throughout most of their career was their “four across” stage set up- Fish and Page turned in slightly and looking at each other.  Absent from 1999 to 2004, the band came out at Hampton in their original stage set up- the one we grew up with.  This was clearly an intentional return to the band’s on-stage roots, and the decision carries a certain significance and symbolism.  Set up as four equal parts, all next to, and able to see, each other’s eyes, the “old” Phish was back.  As the band reconnects with many of their early musical habits in 2009, the switch to the old-school lineup aligns perfectly with this rejuvenation.

3.6.09 (Unknown)

3.6.09 (Unknown)

At the first show of 1999- June 30th at Bonner Springs- the band took the stage, for the first time in their career, in a new arrangement.  Fish was placed on a riser behind the band- the conventional spot for a drummer.  Mike was brought front and center, while Trey was bumped to stage left.  Quite disorienting at first, the band remained with this set up all the way through 2000.  Mike’s prominence in the music, and a physically-tighter rhythm section were going theories as to why the switch was made at this time.

When the band came back from their hiatus, there was another on-stage shape shift.  Trey returned to his place in the middle of the band, able to better communicate with everyone, and Mike assumed his former spot on stage left.  Meanwhile, Fish remained behind the other members in the same position.  The band carried this arrangement throughout the 2.0 era, and it seemed like the “line” was forever gone.

Fast forward five years- we enter The Mothership.  Re-acclimating ourselves to the foreign, yet familiar, surroundings, when glancing up at the stage, we are struck by the “line” again!  Initiating the old-school vibe before a note was even played, Phish was returning to their roots.  The stage looked normal again, and when the band came out with “Fluffhead,” everything seemed to be falling into place.  This was the band we knew!

"Contact" (J.Kravitz)

"Contact" (J.Kravitz)

Phish has always been a musical phenomenon- four equal cogs that, when working together, equal far more than the sum of their parts.  Musical balance is key to this transcendence; absorbing the ideas of all four band members equally- questing for that moment.  With their return to the original stage set up, the balance of Phish’s music is once again physically manifested.  Lined up as peers, each member is an equal part of the greatest whole on earth.  The band’s original arrangement will likely trigger their original stage dynamic and style of communication.  We began to observe this already at Hampton.  As Phish continues to forge a new musical path, they will do so with revitalized energy, a dedication to practice, and an enhanced physical balance.  With this recipe, the result will be an aural equilibrium that will provide many an adventure in IT.



Hampton – Photo: Jeff Kravitz (insidecelebpics)



phish-red-rocks-946.10.1994 Red Rocks < LINK

6.10.1994 Red Rocks < TORRENT LINK

Everyone knows about the stellar 6.11.94 Red Rocks show with the great FM SBDs that have circulated over the years.  This show was the night before.  A classic second set was anchored by the epic beautiful combination of “Curtain > Tweezer > Lifeboy,” and capped with a vintage ’94 “Hood.”  “Demand > Bowie” added some beef to the openeing frame.

I: Runaway Jim, Foam, Sample in a Jar, Nellie Cane, Demand > David Bowie, Lizards, Cavern, Julius

II: Axilla [Part II], The Curtain > Tweezer > Lifeboy, Sparkle, Possum, HYHU > I Wanna Be Like You > HYHU, Harry Hood, Tweezer Reprise

E: Sleeping Monkey > Rocky Top

Source: Nuemann TLM 170i>DAT [Set 1: Sub-cariods; Set 2: Cariods)

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319 Responses to “Straight Across”

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  1. Wilson Says:

    that Red Rocks poster looks like some old school U2 photography.

  2. youenjoy09 Says:

    Thank you for giving me something fresh, insightful, and interesting to read everyday Miner….I really appreciate your work!

    :high on caffeine, strays off topic:

    What does everyone think about mixing a first-show with sykes? I am 27 and experienced in that field, but will see the Phish for the first time ever at the Gorge and am debating what dimension to enter from….leaning towards passing through a single diamond in the sky, if you hear what I’m playin….thoughts ?

  3. youenjoy09 Says:

    …Good luck on Red Rocks tickets everyone!

    @ Mr. Miner – if I am lucky enough to somehow score any extras to any nights of RR and you get shut out, I would gladly hook you up for all the knowledge, time, and energy you have kicked down….

  4. Davey Says:

    Love IT. Good luck on RR everyone. I’m strategizing and going for the middle dates before the 4 night pass. Anyone with extras you know where to turn. Scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours eh?

  5. Al Says:

    Miner, here’s a suggestion for a new ongoing chapter on your site. I’d love to see a ranking of favorite shows of us regular phans here on the site. I’d love to know what shows are the 10 most beloved ones in Phish history. This would be very attractive for many Newbies to find the really important and great shows easily and fast. What do you think? My top ten changes on a weekly basis, so there would be enough dynamics in that list!

  6. c0wfunk Says:

    love the old stage setup, glad it’s back

    regarding the download today .. I’m listening to the 96 run and finished night 3 last night so this struck me … today’s download and that show both contained second set opening curtain > tweezer (ok there’s an axilla on the 94 one) and set closing hyhu>fishman>hyhu>hood>tweezerprise .. kinda wild to me. I guess they were still writing setlists in 96, so I have to assume this is semi intentional?

    regarding psychs at first show — my first show was on that level, at hampton, and it was crazy .. I’d never trade that experience for anything. But my biggest thing is, just don’t get too far gone that you end up missing the show for some reason (as some with me at that first show did!!) I’ve never been to the Gorge, but it seems like the perfect locale for such an experiment!

  7. bhizzle Says:

    “This was the band we knew!” – Yes we knew that band, but we also knew that band in the following formations. My first Phish was in 94. So between 94 and 99, for me anyway, the line up was the 4 across for roughly 5 years. Then from 99-04 the line up changed with minor variations, but the math is another 5 years. Both “bands” have had their equal amount of time and while during the latter years some may say their performance may have dipped there have been many a good show from them. In the former years some may say is their peak, but in the very beginning, as with everything else in the world we know, there were some off times. In addition, for alot of peeps the 99-04 is all they know. Don’t get me wrong. I love the four across and I agree it gives everyone the same stage presence and the ability to see each other. I guess I’m not a fan of that particular statement. Haven’t most discussions been about going forward? I don’t want it to be a reversal. What’s next? Bringing back the language? DOH!

  8. bhizzle Says:

    PS – I DID like the piece Minor. Thanks as always.

  9. c0wfunk Says:

    interesting thought hizzle .. those years brought so many great things to phish, it is important that they don’t get reflected upon with disdain because of the negative aspects.

  10. RobAins Says:

    Interesting little interview with the President of TicketMaster No. America regarding last week’s RR debacle……

  11. Comrade Says:

    re: psychs – i’m with c0wfunk – do what you’re comfortable with but don’t end up as one of those people who are so out in the atmosphere that they don’t remember the show (otherwise what was the point?). or someone who is so messed up that they f*ck with the experience of others.

    speaking of which – on the friday (Hamton) i had the unpleasure of standing next to some d-bag who was way out of it – and bothering everyone. Until that is he decided to throw a glowstick necklace – and wound up hitting Trey in the head. boy he really seemed proud of himself – until a bunch of us kept moving him farther and farther back.

  12. los Says:

    pHISH works for me in any state of mind…sober, high, tripping, rollin or drunk…not too drunk or I wont remember show…

    My perfect mix is some beers…and bud and boomers throughout show…

  13. LovematicGrandpa Says:

    Anyone else just loving this Time Turns Elastic demo? I’ve probably listened to it 10 times since it’s been posted. Phish could make this gigantic.

  14. Jacob Says:

    Two weekends ago, my girlfriend and I went to a performance of the Blue Note 7, with Nicholas Payton, Ravi Coltrane, etc. (If you have the means, I highly recommend it.)

    Anyway, their stage set-up was the same (piano, guitar, bass, drums).

    I think that Phish’s interest in jazz and big band music when they were coming up influenced that setup. (Even though Mike has said he wasn’t crazy about jazz then, it’s pretty obvious that Page, Trey and Fish all loved it.)

  15. c0wfunk Says:

    seems like when they switched the setup in 99 there was an interview that Trey said the stage setup was because of the way the stage at Nectar’s is shaped? Anyone else remember this?

  16. Pencilneeck Says:

    so tickets go on sale 12 mountain. is that 2 minutes from now?

  17. ma Says:

    where are the GA seats at red rocks? are all the rows of seats reserved? just wonderin’.

  18. SOAM Says:

    Ticketmaster gave every phish fan 50 bucks so they can at least trip or puff in the lot outside-

  19. c0wfunk Says:

    Last time I was there (SCI & Ratdog in 06 or so) they did a “GA” orchestra down front, a reserved section in the middle, and GA all in the back .. There are “seats” (just long benches) all the way up to the top of the place

  20. paulyh Says:

    only if they put Pages piano in original spot,faceing trey not the crowd..I know Im bein picky but whatever!!!

  21. ma Says:

    thanks for the info…are you saying some of the benches towards the top will be GA…if so, looks like there is room on the bench AND the walkways between the rows….is that the way it plays out?

  22. paulyh Says:

    the 99 setup and the 03/04 setup were quite different!!fish was not directly facing foward he had a slant going,with a lower riser..

  23. MM Says:

    @Cowfunk – I remember that comment and it makes sense. The old Nectar’s (before the renovations) stage was rectangular, with just enough depth to fit each band member and his equipment. There was no way to fit a drummer in convention back spot…

  24. Lambo Says:

    Man, they have set the bar extremely high at Red Rocks. I eagerly await the return of Forbin’s and Demand there! Hopefully a bluegrass session with Jeff Austin Taboot! Summer tour is right around the corner, get ready.

  25. RobAins Says:

    Say what you will about TicketMaster (and I still think they are shady as hell) but you have to admit that sending everyone who purchased the 4 day passes last week $50 (credit cards were never actually charged, just authorized to charge at midnight but they caught the mistake early enough) is pretty good of them.

    Good luck with the public on sale today everybody!

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