Sleeper Shows

Posted in Uncategorized with the tags , on April 30th, 2009 by Mr.Miner
Shoreline '03

Shoreline '03

In a summer tour that is filled with a selection of the finest venues and plenty of excitement, it seems that almost every show is receiving a massive dose of hype- except a few.  While the buzz in the scene has centered around Red Rocks, The Gorge, Fenway, Asheville, and The Fox, it seems that Summer ’09′s slate of other venues is a laundry list of memories past.  Deer Creek, Alpine, Star Lake, Merriweather, SPAC, Darien, Camden, Great Woods, the list goes on.  But amidst all of these high key shows and memorable venues, there are three that look to be the sleeper shows of the summer.

Toyota Park - Chicago, IL

Toyota Park - Chicago, IL

On a Tuesday night in August, Phish will play Chicago, but somehow everyone forgot.  After every single show sold out in minutes, this one took almost a day!  Pretty odd seeing it’s the same Phish and the show is in one of the three biggest markets in America!  At this point, extras are flying around like mosquitoes on Lake Michigan, and something tells me people will be giving them away at the show.  Coming on a Tuesday after the west coast run- two days after the Gorge- and before the final four-night swing around the northeast, this Chicago show is truly the show in between.

All of this and the show is in Toyota Park, an MLS soccer stadium with a massive GA field!  To be honest, this may be one of the most enjoyable experiences of the summer.  With plenty of room inside the 30,000 person venue Phish will surely match the size of their setting with massive musical endeavors.  Having a propensity for rocking the Windy City, this time should be no exception, especially since they have somehow made a stop in Chicago an out-of-the-way show.

Thompson-Boling Arena, Knoxville, TN

Thompson-Boling Arena, Knoxville, TN

In Knoxville, on a Wednesday in June, Phish will play a gig at the University of Tennessee that was squeezed in between the much talked about affairs of Asheville and Bonnaroo.  Added after the original tour was announced, this arena stop was also one of the easiest tickets of the summer, as Knoxville’s local ticket system worked beautifully- likely due to tempered demand.  With many fans already resolved to hitting the first four and last four of June, you can be sure not too many people will be flying into Knoxville for Thompson-Boling Arena; this show will be for the people on tour.  On a Wednesday night indoors, this one looks like a dark-horse success story in the making.

phish08

Shoreline '03

Although it’s hard to call Phish’s only stop in the Bay Area a sleeper show, I’m going to go ahead and do it, and here’s why.  The Red Rocks stand is clearly the focal point of all Phish west of the Mississippi this summer, and an all-out effort will be made by all fans to get to Colorado.  But even if people are shut out of Red Rocks, no one will be shut out of The Gorge, the west’s most magical venue, and location of endless Phish lore.  Due to scheduling, Shoreline got hung out to dry on a Wednesday night on the peninsula.  With Red Rocks and The Gorge being “destination” shows, Shoreline is receiving very little attention- the first ingredient to a sleeper.  Coupled with the fact that Phish tears apart Shoreline routinely, there is no doubt that this will be a mid-week special.

With summer’s white hot spotlights falling elsewhere, these three shows will likely emerge from the shadows with some epic jams and more than a few surprises.  Just as Phish is known to rise to the occasion in the “big” shows, so are they famous for taking “out-of-the-way” audiences for cosmic rides.  Call it a hunch, but these less-talked about shows won’t hold the same label come the end of the summer.

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DOWNLOAD OF THE DAY:

6.16.95 Walnut Creek, Raleigh, NC < LINK

6.16.95 Walnut Creek, Raleigh, NC < TORRENT LINK

1995-06-16gnThis legendary show of summer ’95 has been recently re-popularized by the “Left Nuts” CD that came with the Walnut Creek ’97 DVD.  On the sampler are select soundboard versions of the multitude of highlights from this show, including the epic “Runaway Jim > Free,” and the “Dog-Faced > Catapult > Split Open and Melt.”  To cap the show, there  is also a huge “YEM” featuring Boyd Tinsley on violin.  Amidst a week of incredible outings in 1995, this one is among the best.

I: Halley’s Comet > Down With Disease, Esther, Ya Mar, Cry Baby Cry, It’s Ice, My Mind’s Got a Mind of It’s Own, Dog Faced Boy* > Catapult > Split Open and Melt

II: Runaway Jim > Free, Carolina, You Enjoy Myself*, The Squirming Coil

E: Bold as Love

*With Boyd Tinsley (Dave Matthews Band) on fiddle for a portion of the jam.

Source: Neumann RSM190i > Neumann PS > D7 > JVC XD-P1 [patch master used in xfer]

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Three Things That Should Go (But Won’t)

Posted in Uncategorized with the tags , on April 28th, 2009 by Mr.Miner
3.8.09 Hampton (J.Mordaunt)

3.8.09 Hampton (J.Mordaunt)

With the first Phish tour in five years about to explode in only a month, there are many facets of the experience we will be reacquainted with after an extended absence.  From navigating the summer lot to scheming for your perfect show location, a whole new realm of critical thinking will be reopened.  We will be confronted by traffic jams, bathroom lines, and maps every day for the first time in quite a while, and security guards will be factors in our lives again as we engage in our secret mission seeking the ultimate- those frozen moments where thoughts go blank and we forget who and where we are- utterly engulfed by the psychedelic monstrosity of Phish.

Yet on our mission, and while reacquainting ourselves with the flow of tour, we will inevitably be confronted by some of the same boneheaded trends of shows past.  And as we enter this summer, the most anticipated tour in memory, here are a few of those in-show behaviors that would be better off left behind.

3.7.09 Hampton (J.Mordaunt)

3.7.09 Hampton (J.Mordaunt)

Clapping: There is nothing more absurd than when the band enters a slammin’ dance groove and half the pavilion starts clapping to the beat.  It may be subconscious, or it may be a meager attempt at getting involved, but if I had the ability to make one thing vanish, it just might be the constant clapping.  Not surprisingly, the band often gets annoyed by this trend as well, intentionally jamming in another direction, leaving the clappers wondering where their downbeat went.

Throwing Glowsticks: If Trey hadn’t said how cool these things looked during The Great Went, would things be different now?  What used to be reserved for rolled-out raver kids became mainstream in the Phish scene’s later years, posing annoyances and safety hazards for the band and audience alike.  There is nothing like being blissed out, eyes closed, in the middle of a “Hood” jam and getting slammed in the skull with a glowstick; poetry in motion.  Although those glowrings don’t hurt as much when they come crashing down, get ‘em outta here too.  What’s the point again?

Hampton (J.Kravitz)

Hampton (J.Kravitz)

Talking Loudly: One of the most annoying things possible at a show is when your two or three neighbors, who clearly don’t care about Phish, are yapping away over beers like they are at a crowded college bar.  Sure, it’s loud in there, but it’s a huge rock concert- it’s supposed to be!  Yet some people insist on conversing like it is their last living moment together on earth- in your ear.  A completely obnoxious behavior, you wonder how people like that get their hands on Phish tickets these days.  I’m all for talking- but let’s catch up after the show.  During the show, shut it.

But, alas, with 20,000 person concerts, I don’t really expect any of these things to come to a halt, but if I had my ‘druthers, they would vanish from the universe of a Phish show.  But the overarching beauty here is that we have a Phish universe again, and no number of clappers, glowstick throwers, or obnoxious conversationalists can take that away.

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DOWNLOAD OF THE DAY:

9.21.99 Pima Co. Fairgrounds, Tucson, AZ < LINK

9.21.99 Pima Co. Fairgrounds, Tucson, AZ < TORRENT LINK

1999-09-21gnIn an open fairgrounds in the desert, Phish played the most random venue of Fall ’99, and played it well.  The band assembled a creative second set, combining some diverse songs and improv in “Carini > Bug,” and “Vultures > Limb,” the cover “Will It Go Round in Circles,” and a monstrous “Antelope” to close.  This one is not so widely known, but even the first set brings some heat with “Split” and “Drowned.”  Plus, a virtually aunheard of “Reba” encore.  It’s hard to call this show underrated, because nobody ever talks about it; it’s more like unrated.  Check it out.

I: Poor Heart, Sample in a Jar, Split Open and Melt, Drowned, I Didn’t Know, Get Back on the Train, Birds of a Feather, Theme from the Bottom, Golgi Apparatus

II: Carini > Bug, Strange Design, Vultures* > Limb by Limb, Will It Go Round In Circles, Dirt, Run Like an Antelope

E: Reba*, Bold as Love

*Unfinished.

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“Reba > Walk Away”

Posted in Uncategorized with the tags , on April 27th, 2009 by Mr.Miner
00319874_lg

Fall 1998 (B.Brecheisen)

The beginning of Fall ’98 was an exciting time in the Phish world.  The band had recently concluded a triumphant summer tour, capped with the festivities at Lemonwheel in Limestone.  While laid-back funk was certainly the theme of Summer ’98, the band began to approach a new style of playing toward the end of the summer.  On the hallowed Air Force base in the corner of America, a more abstract and ambient style began to emerge in earnest.  The best examples of this burgeoning style were the “Ghost jam” and the “Ambient Jam,” or the fourth set of the first night.  This style was less rhythmic and focused more on collective dissonant harmonies and exploratory soundscapes.  Less reliant on beats and more on flowing intuition, the band began creating jams that adapted the philosophy behind collaborative groove into the realm of ambient music.  Each member was responsible for pushing the music ever so subtly, and together, the band could move mountains.  After that weekend in Maine, it was clear that Phish would be entering new territory come fall, but how quickly that would develop was quite a surprise.

The Greek Thetare, LA

The Greek Thetare, LA

Opening the tour in the serene setting of LA’s Greek Theatre, Phish came out with a discombobulated first set that featured several songs from their new release, The Story of the Ghost.  Without any true flow to the set, the band warmed up their chops for what would certainly be a more impressive set two.

As the second set got underway with the diverse combo of “Possum,” “Moma,” the amphitheatre began to pulsate with life, and Fall ’98 was officially underway.  After the sinfully thick funk jam, Phish revved up the beginning of “Reba.”  Always a second-set highlight when placed there, this version would transcend anyone’s wildest dreams.

As the band moved through their pristine classic jam section, it was magic to our ears in the impeccable sounding Greek Theatre.  Trey’s delicate solo on top of the band’s relaxed groove was truly blissful as he improvised sublime melodies with masterful phrasing.  Yet, sailing blissfully through this gorgeous segment of the jam, nobody in the venue expected the psychedelia which was just around the corner.

Fall 98 (R.Bleckman)

Fall ’98 (R.Bleckman)

At the point where this jam diverges, Fishman initiates a more complex, less flowing, beat and the band begins to fade from groove into a more drone sonic canvas.  As soon as this shift is made, all band members hop onto this idea and begin to create an alternate path filled with ambient effects and heavy textures.  The normally light Reba jam all of a sudden becomes incredibly dark as the band dove head first into their alternate experiment.  With layered effects and a far different beat, Phish entered the clutches of the eerie, creating a haunting jam that carried a different sort of beauty.

Using alternate sounds, Phish created a creeping and delicate jam that proved to be a precursor for similar exploration along their fall tour- most immediately two days later with the Vegas “Wolfman’s.”  With a sonic mixture that sounded more like the laboratory of a mad scientist than a Phish show, the band created a completely unique jam that continued to grow deeper and darker, moving far away from anything ever heard in a “Reba” jam.  Jaw hanging, eyes closed, I followed this divergent path into the throes of abstract madness.  This was pure unadulterated IT, and this was only the second set of tour!

Fall 1998 (R.Bleckman)

Fall ’98 (R.Bleckman)

This alternate jam began to build until the band began attacking the music with more aggression, creating a supremely different sound; locked together like crazy glue and in your face.  Just as the band hit the most sinister part of their excursion, they gradually build a slow groove, taking them out of the fiery dungeon, and segueing, out of the blue, into “Walk Away” for the first time since The Bomb Factory on May 7, 1994.  Taking everyone by surprise with the landing point of their other-worldly excursion, the combination made for the outright highlight of the show, and one of the best moments of the entire tour.

Fall '98 (S.Tackeff)

Fall ’98 (S.Tackeff)

Not letting go of the musical momentum that was created over this adventure, Phish built up the end of “Walk Away” to a grungy, dissonant climax out of which they released into the melodic anthem, “Simple.”  (You can listen to the entire triumvirate below.)

Pulling out of the Greek and heading for a Halloween bash in Sin City, we popped in the DAT and relived the stunning jam in silence, still holding the magic energy inside, listening in disbelief.  This “Reba” was the first, and one of the best, abstract jams that would grace Fall ’98.  With many more to follow, this got the ball rolling for what would be an unforgettable month on the road with Phish.

***

LISTEN TO 10.29.98 “Reba > Walk Away > Simple” NOW! < LINKS          (Roll over, click play)

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DOWNLOAD OF THE DAY:

10.29.98 Greek Theatre, Los Angeles, CA < LINK

10.29.98 Greek Theatre, Los Angeles, CA < TORRENT LINK

In addition to the “Reba >Walk Away,” this show followed a pattern set at The Fillmore of big second set “Moma Dances,” a pattern that would hold true for Fall ’98.  A beautifully flowing second set was capped with a frantic, well-played “Bowie.”  The encore brought the sublime debut of The Beatles, “Something;” a perfect launch into a great tour.

1998-10-29moI: Julius, Roggae, Llama, Limb by Limb, Driver*, Sleep*, Frankie Says, Birds of a Feather, McGrupp and the Watchful Hosemasters, Character Zero

II: Possum, Moma Dance, Reba > Walk Away > Simple, Albuquerque, David Bowie

E: Something**

*Trey on acoustic guitar **First time played

Source: Unknown

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Remembering Jazzfest

Posted in Uncategorized with the tags , on April 26th, 2009 by Mr.Miner

The New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival is one of the greatest traditions of this land. Uniting the best and brightest from all walks of improvisational music, combined with southern flavor and creole cuisine, Jazzfest becomes a multi-sensory indulgence. This past weekend, the ‘09 edition got underway, and yesterday, April 26th was the 13 year anniversary of Phish’s unique Jazzfest appearance in 1996.  Performing at the festival grounds under the blazing southern heat, and right before The Meters, the band played one long set that created a unique dynamic between Phish and their classic surroundings.

4.2.6.96 The Fairgrounds @ Jazzfest

4.26.96 The Fairgrounds @ Jazzfest

When Phish announced the would be playing the New Orleans fest, the community was jazzed to see the band make such a prestigious and historic appearance. But when all was said and done, the festival didn’t share the joy of the Phish scene infiltrating the festival, and the band would never be invited back.  The inundation of the fairgrounds with Phish’s fringe element took the organizers by surprise; a surprise they didn’t need to see again. Meanwhile, Phish took to the Bayou with a solid one-setter that gave N’awlins a taste of Vermont’s Finest.

4.26.96 Phish Crowd

4.26.96 Phish Crowd

Following the band’s epic peak of 1995 at Madison Square Garden, everyone was eager to see them again, and what better place to do it than New Orleans? A lot of people shared this idea, and a circus of Phishies descended upon the fairground on a near 100 degree afternoon.  VW Buses took over the residential area where the festival is located, while dreaded, patchworked hippies dispersed throughout the grounds. This entire scene creatied an odd amalgam of Phish lot and Jazzfest; Jazz lot.

When it came time for Phish to play at 3:30 pm, the dispersed tribe united around the Ray Ban main stage, awaiting the first notes of 1996. Opening with an appropriate and festive “Ya Mar,” Trey wove a tease of “When The Saints Go Marching In” to commemorate their visit to the south.  The band went on to play a very palatable set for the mixed audience, making sure to include a little something for everyone. The set contained several highlights, but the band’s first dip into improv came with “Stash.” The dark, twisting music sat against a summer backdrop, as the band shredded the densely textured jam to the delight of the Phish-dominated crowd.

4.26.96 Jazzfest

4.26.96 Jazzfest

Longtime friend of the band and New Orleans native, Michael Ray, came out and joined them on trumpet for a spirited run through Page’s “Cars Trucks Buses.”  But when the dust settled, three other segments of music stood out- “YEM” > a half-a capella and very interesting “Wolfman’s Brother” (segue via vocal jam), “2001 > Hood,” and a large, late-set “Bowie.” None of these jams entered into a separate reality, but that really wasn’t the point of the set. The band had sustained contact with the source for four nights at the end of 1995, but on this first afternoon of 1996, their set  was defined by straight-forward, fun in the sun.

“Stash” and “Bowie” provided the only outright darkness of an otherwise upbeat, happy show. Phish brought their pre-’97 cow funk down to the swamp, with particularly laid-back escapades in “YEM,” and “2001.”  Following the “2001,” Phish released “Harry Hood” for the first time since the sacred 12.30.95 rendition, and under the late afternoon sky, they unveiled a tightly wound and majestic version of their feel-good classic.

4.26.96 Jazzfest

4.26.96 Jazzfest

If this was a normal Phish set, it might have ended with with “Hood” or “Sample,” and then certainly with The Beatles classic, “A Day In the Life.”  But this wasn’t a normal Phish set, and they just kept playing, entering into their most extended and interesting jam of the day in “David Bowie.”  Cranking out some ’95-esque psychedelia, the set-closing “Bowie” thrilled all the Phish kids and created the post-show buzz.

The fairgrounds and surrounding neighborhood provided a unique post-show atmosphere of southern comfort.  Sometimes the experience of a show can be so unique that the music, regardless of how crazy or mellow, just seems to fit.  Just like that laid back day New Orleans so many years ago.

photos by Brad G. Serling and Andreas Veneris

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DOWNLOAD OF THE DAY:

4.26.96 NOLA Jazz & Heritage Festival < LINK TO livephish release for Hurricane Katrina relief. (Buy it, its a good cause!) AUDs up when I find ‘em.

The Fairgrounds: Post-Cavern

The Fairgrounds: Post-Cavern

Ya Mar*, AC/DC Bag, Sparkle, Stash, Cars Trucks Buses**, You Enjoy Myself > Wolfman’s Brother***, Scent of a Mule, Also Sprach Zarathustra > Harry Hood, Sample in a Jar, A Day in the Life, David Bowie

E: Hello My Baby, Cavern

*With “When The Saints Go Marching In” tease. **With Michael Ray on trumpet. ***A capella intro.

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Weekend Nuggets: Gamehendge SBDs

Posted in Uncategorized with the tags , on April 25th, 2009 by Mr.Miner

DOWNLOADS OF THE WEEKEND:

gamehendge-plateThis weekend, I am featuring the second and third full Gamehendge performances- both in SBD format.  Both shows are hallmarks of the analog days, and both showcase a very different version of Phish than we know today.  Legend has it that the band broke out their musical fable at Sacramento in ’93 due to the intimate and attentive audience.  The ’91 edition, performed in Olympia, WA and coming in an extended first set, was bookended by some Phish classics.  Both shows are a must for any collector.

  • With these two shows, all five Gamehendge sets (3.12.88, 10.13.91, 3.22.93, 6.26,94, 7.8.94), plus Trey’s original project can be downloaded from this site.

***

10.13.91 North Shore Surf Club, Olympia, WA SBD < LINK

10.13.91 North Shore Surf Club, Olympia, WA SBD < TORRENT LINK

I: Runaway Jim, Wilson, Reba, The Landlady, Colonel Forbin’s Ascent > Fly Famous Mockingbird , Tela , AC/DC Bag,  The Sloth, McGrupp and the Watchful Hosemasters, Mike’s Song > I Am Hydrogen > Weekapaug Groove

II: Llama, Bathtub Gin, The Squirming Coil, It’s Ice, My Sweet One, Jesus Just Left Chicago, Bouncing Around the Room, HYHU > Love You > HYHU, David Bowie

E: Eliza, Uncle Pen, Carolina

***

3.22.93 Crest Theatre, Sacramento, CA SBD < LINK

3.22.93 Crest Theatre, Sacramento, CA SBD < TORRENT LINK

I: Chalk Dust Torture, Guelah Papyrus, Uncle Pen, Stash, Bouncing Around the Room, Rift, Weigh, Reba, Sparkle, David Bowie

II: Golgi Apparatus, It’s Ice > Lizards > Tela > Wilson > AC/DC Bag > Colonel Forbin’s Ascent > Fly Famous Mockingbird > The Sloth > McGrupp and the Watchful Hosemasters, Mike’s Song > I Am Hydrogen > Weekapaug Groove

E: Amazing Grace, Fire

Set 2 contained complete Gamehendge narration.

***

Here is a Phish Thoughts piece on Gamehendge I wrote a while back.

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VIDEO OF THE WEEKEND:

“Split Open and Melt” 3.7.09, Hampton, VA

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The First Time

Posted in Uncategorized with the tags , , on April 23rd, 2009 by Mr.Miner
7.26.03 Atlanta

7.26.03 Atlanta

There is nothing quite like being at a Phish show when they play a brand new improvisational song.  I’m not talking about the live debut of a track that has already been released on an album- I mean a song that no one has ever heard before- period.  We get so used to Phish’s regular song rotation, that when they unfold a new beast right before out eyes, the experience can be quite powerful.  Traditionally debuting songs at beginning, and often in the first show, of a tour, Phish is never shy in getting their new material into their setlists.  The power of hearing a polished piece with a new jam for the first time can be one of the greatest thrills.  In Phoenix, the first show of Summer ’03, the band gave us one of those moments.

7.25.03 Charlotte

7.25.03 Charlotte

Following an awkward four night comeback run over MSG and Hampton, and a better winter tour, Phish had four months to prepare for summer tour, and prepare they did.  Coming out with a typically odd first set of tour at Cricket Pavilion, the second is where our story begins.  Second set openers generally go two ways-  a short introductory song that leads into something big, or, more often than not, a song that develops a significant jam itself.  This time, it was the latter.  Phish dropped a gooey-thick “Wolfman’s” to open the set, and to get the summer going in earnest.  Moving along with more pace and intent than most versions, this “Wolfman’s” complemented the sweltering summer evening.  As the jam progressed, the band retained as much respect for the space in the music as they had for any of their notes, resulting in an interesting “minimalist” type jam.

Moving into darker, slower, and more layered psychedelia, Phish began opening another door underneath the desert stars.  Gordon and Page added overtly mind-melting effects to Fish’s sparse beat and Trey’s melodies turned into sound effects.  Having moved from the liquid dance floor into the lair of the beast, the band took us deep on a journey into a sonic dungeon.

7.22.03 Deer Creek

7.22.03 Deer Creek

As all of the band’s effects morphed into a collective dissonance, out of the murk Trey began to delicately narrate a musical fairytale. The band subtly joined in, Fish wish an eerie beat, and as the lyrics began, they sounded like secret instructions.  Perfectly fitting the verse with their accompaniment, Phish created a magical aura of a fantasy land with the beginning of “Scents and Subtle Sounds,” and the lyrics were so clear and poignant.  Like opening the wardrobe, Trey sang:

If you would only start to live
One moment at a time
You would, I think, be startled
By the things that you would find.

Wrapping up their psychedelic verse with,”For if you do it right / You’ll find the moment never ends,” they hit a transition into a completely new part of the song.  With searing guitar licks, and meticulous composition, this piece was providing one of those moments its lyrics described.  It was like dancing to magic; something you’d never heard before engulfing your soul, and as the vibrant lyrics led us into the void, the improv was an overdose of bliss.

7.26.03 Atlanta

7.26.03 Atlanta

As the band layered their mystical vocals at the onset of the jam, it felt as though we were ascending to heaven.  To hear something so utterly gorgeous that had never touched our ears was completely overwhelming in the most amazing way.  Like opening up a new universe, the band crafted an uplifting and driving jam that oozed spirituality.  It’s not every day that Phish debuts a piece of music with the power and grace of “Scents,” so when you’ve seen the band for years and a brand new dynamic piece of music leaps off the stage the way it did that night in Phoenix, you are left staggered; sucker-punched by your own quest for the ultimate.  And there is nothing better.

Considering Phish’s album isn’t finished yet, it seems highly improbable that it will hit stores before summer tour begins.  That being said, given Phish’s pattern of debuting songs at the very beginning of tours, Jones Beach could be the site of many moments like the one just described- debuts of pieces that have never hit public ears.  (I think Fenway will be reserved for the anthems.) We know the band will be coming to tour with over twenty new songs in the mix, and we are guaranteed to bear witness to many pristine vehicles for exploration.  Moving into summer, this prospect of so much new material excites me the most.  Phish will never stop playing their classics, but what remains to be seen is what songs will be the classics of chapter three.

What big “true” debuts did you manage to see?

***

LISTEN TO 7.7.03 “Wolfman’s > Scents” NOW! < LINKS                             (Roll over, click play)

***

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DOWNLOAD OF THE DAY:

4.20.93 Newport Music Hall, Columbus, OH < LINK

4.20.93 Newport Music Hall, Columbus, OH < TORRENT LINK

Newport Music Hall, Columbus, OH

Newport Music Hall, Columbus, OH

When I posted 4.21.93 this at the beginning of the week, someone who attended the show had made the recommendation and request for night one of the stand.  Ask and ye shall receive.  Enjoy some more shredding ’93 and have a great weekend!

I: Runaway Jim, Weigh, Sparkle, Stash, Bouncing Around the Room, It’s Ice, Glide, Uncle Pen, Lawn Boy, David Bowie

II: Chalk Dust Torture, Fluffhead, Sample in a Jar, Big Ball Jam, TMWSIY > Avenu Malkenu > TMWSIY, My Friend My Friend, Llama, You Enjoy Myself, HYHU, Whipping Post, Golgi Apparatus

E: Funky Bitch, Amazing Grace

Source: unknown

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The Story of The Story of the Ghost

Posted in Uncategorized with the tags , on April 22nd, 2009 by Mr.Miner

tsofg2When Phish went into Bearsville Studios in March of 1997, they knew they were going to record, but they didn’t necessarily know what. In addition to some demos that Tom and Trey had made, they decided to go into the studio to jam, and what would come out would be anyone’s guess.  After five days in Bearsville, NY during March, and five more in September, the band had a large amount of material to work with.  After the March sessions, they selected their favorite segments of improv and began writing songs around them- lots of songs.  Taking this unique approach to songwriting, much like “The Blob” from Billy Breathes, what would eventually emerge over the course of a year was Phish’s seventh studio album, The Story of the Ghost.

Phish largely reversed the process, focusing on what they do best, and based songs off their creative improvisation.  Remember in Summer ’97 when the band came out with an arsenal of new tunes?  These were Anastasio / Marshall songs written just before, and recorded during, these sessions; “Ghost,” “Limb by Limb,” “Piper,” “Dogs Stole Things,” Twist,” “Vultures,” “Velvet Sea”- I could go on.  But the songwriting that resulted from the Bearsville Sessions was one of the most interesting eras of the band’s career.  Songs such as “Birds of a Feather,” “Meat,” “Roggae,” and “Frankie Says,” all resulted directly from the group’s studio improvisation.  Phish returned to Bearsville in September of ’97 for more experimentation.  Then came more songs- “Fikus,” “Shafty,” “Black-Eyed Katy”- and when all was said and done, they had enough material not only for The Story of the Ghost, but also for the all instrumental Siket Disc, released in ’99.  The Siket Disc was made entirely of outtakes from these same sessions.  And there are still songs from these sessions we have never heard.

Bearsville Studios, Bearsville, NY

Bearsville Studios, Bearsville, NY

When Phish took their abundance of material back into the studios in April 1998, they had some deciding to do.  With over forty songs from which to choose, they had to whittle out an album.  Phish had flirted with the “concept album” with Rift and Billy Breathes, and would make a more outright attempt this time around.  Aside from “Guyute,” and the radio-friendly “Birds of a Feather,” all the tracks resembled an apparition of its whole self that we had come to know live.  Snippets of the entire picture faded in and out like ghosts passing in the night.  With two to three minute musical passages, Phish created their most flowing album to date, piecing together a musical collage.

The sound of the album mirrored the band’s looser live sound of the era, led by Gordon’s round, prominent bass grooves.  The clearest examples of this are found on “Ghost,” “Meat,” “Fikus,” “Shafty,” “Roggae,” and “The Moma Dance.”  The musical character of the album was both funky and sparse, creating a spacious rhythmic palette throughout.  “Guyute” was the one song that didn’t really fit in with the album’s vibe, though the fact that they finally recorded the complex composition offset its somewhat awkward placement.

Fall '98 (T.Wickersty)

Fall '98 (T.Wickersty)

At the end of the album, an insane “Moma” groove fades into the mix as the band begins to sing the lyrics right over the liquid funk.  Just as “Ghost” brings the album in, “The Moma Dance” completes its circle, as the band layers the lyrics to “Ghost” over the crack-like groove.  This is the perfect ending to a pretty perfect album; the only thing is, that it is not the ending.  Phish added the two-minute ambient verse “End of Session” to close the album.  This passage must be significant to the band, perhaps marking the literal end of their recording sessions, because it doesn’t necessarily fit.  A beautiful snippet in its own right, its music diverges from anything on the record, and comes after the album’s natural conclusion.  It translates like a “hidden track” that Phish decided to label, and perhaps that is the point.

Trey recently stated in Rolling Stone that he wasn’t convinced Phish had yet made a great album, upping the expectations for their 2009 installment.  Yet, looking back through Phish’s catalog, Rift, Billy Breathes and The Story of the Ghost jump out as valiant attempts.  With each of these albums, the band furthered the conceptual framework of what they were trying to do.  While Rift had an overall story behind it, Billy Breathes took an idea and began translating it to music, painting a certain mood.  However, when Phish dropped The Story of the Ghost in Fall of 1998, they released the most artistically coherent album of their career.

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Check out The Phish Archive of reviews and articles about The Story of the Ghost from 1998.

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DOWNLOAD OF THE DAY:

9.30.95 Shoreline, Mountain View, CA < LINK

9.30.95 Shoreline, Mountain View, CA < TORRENT LINK

shoreline-amphitheatre

Shoreline Amphitheatre

This performance at Shoreline marked the fourth show of the band’s massive Fall ’95 slate.  This show marked the beginning of the band vs. audience chess matches which ran throughout the Fall and would eventually end in a 1-1 tie on New Year’s Eve at The Garden.  Highlights include the first set “Reba” and “Antelope,” while the second set brings a hot “Runaway Jim” and a sinister “Mike’s” jam that segues into “Keyboard Cavalry”- not to mention Fish’s first glorious cover of Elvis.  Trey also dedicated “Blue and Lonesome” to Jerry Garcia, in his amphitheatre, only months after he had passed.  (Here is a link with an overlay of “Steal Your Face” on Shoreline as pointed out on yesterday’s picture- pretty cool.)

I: My Friend My Friend, Cars Trucks Buses, White Rabbit Jam*, Reba, Uncle Pen, Horn, Run Like an Antelope, Blue and Lonesome**, Sample in a Jar

II: Runaway Jim, Fog That Surrounds, If I Could, Scent of a Mule, Mike’s Song > Keyboard Cavalry, Weekapaug Groove, Suspicious Minds# > HYHU, Cavern

E: Amazing Grace, Good Times Bad Times

* The Band vs. Audience chess match is introduced.  Page and a tourhead named Pooh played a 3-4 move intro to set up the board during the White Rabbit jam.  #First time played.  **Dedicated to Jerry Garcia.

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East and West

Posted in Uncategorized with the tags , on April 22nd, 2009 by Mr.Miner
Shoreline (Designed to look like GD's Steal Your Face)

Shoreline (Designed to look like GD's Steal Your Face)

There has always been discussion about the differences between east coast and west coast Phish shows.  “The band plays more intensely on the east coast; the shows are so much better!”  “The vibe and the scene is so much more laid back out west, and the band rips; it’s so much more fun!”  People can debate which they prefer until they are blue in the face, but we need look no further than The Naked Gun’s Frank Drebin for an answer to this debate. When he encounters both his ex and his enemy at the Queen’s reception, an event from which he was banned, his ex exclaims “Frank!” while, simultaneously, his enemy proclaims, “Drebin!”  Caught in an awkward position, Drebin looks up in the absurd way that only he can, and says- “You’re both right!”  And that, my friends, is the answer to our regional Phish debate.

Great Woods - Mansfield, MA

Great Woods - Mansfield, MA

East coast shows and west coast shows carry a very different feeling for several legitimate reasons.  Being an east coast band, Phish’s core of fans still lives in the Northeast.  This holds true for most older fans, while younger fans in the east are constantly being indoctrinated to Phish music and culture.  As a result, east coast shows are more populated and generally more rambunctious.  As you move further west across the country, fewer and fewer people are familiar with Phish; especially in the younger demographic.  I taught high school in San Francisco for the last five years, and I can honestly tell you that none of the kids knew who Phish were- until I told them.  Phish are just are not part of youth culture out west- at all.

The lack of out-of-control young’uns at west coast shows further contributes to the already mellower vibe and increased space.  General east/west stereotyping becomes truthfully magnified in the microcosm of a Phish show.  At an east coast show, confronting a denser and rowdier crowd, you are far more likely to get bumped into while dancing, have beer spilled on you by a passer by, get offered “molly” by someone with a cocked hat looking no older than sixteen, get into an altercation with police, or see medics dragging drugged out fans out of a show on a stretcher.  You get the drift.

Madison Square Garden, NYC

Madison Square Garden, NYC

But the flip side of that coin is that Phish plays their biggest, most intense, shows on the east coast- by far!  I’ll trade being pushed into the back of a GA floor in exchange for a psychedelic Nassau odyssey.  I’d easily have a beer poured on my head in exchange for a ripping night at Hampton or MSG.  So what if there are hundreds of teenagers running around The Centrum?  You won’t see them when the lights go down.  East coast shows may be crazy, but this is Phish’s home turf!  This is where the shit goes down- and has gone down- for over twenty years.  And there’s no arguing with that.

Growing up in the east and living out west, I will sometimes encounter a “west coaster” who says something like, “Yeah- I love Phish, but I can’t go see them on the east coast anymore- it’s just too hectic.”  And while I always politely finish my conversation without laughing, inside my head I am thinking- “Won’t go to an east coast show?….Hmm…Do they even know Phish?”  Not to sound dismissive of anyone or their decisions, but Phish will always be an east coast band, and to not see them there is like always watching your favorite sports team on the road.

The Gorge

The Gorge

But west coast tour is like paradise.  Not nearly as humid in the summer or cold in the fall, the weather plays the first part in this idyllic experience.  The venues are more interesting and less cookie-cutter.  Then, as previously mentioned, take away the under-20 crew, as the audiences out west are generally made up of local 21+ heads and east coast transplants.  The vibe throughout the audience, while maintaining the feel of a psychedelic circus, is far more chill.  It is like people out west are “experienced”- in the Hendrix sense- and understand what this is all about.  The lack of east coast aggression plays into this feel as well, providing a far more laid back experience for the average fan.

Phish most definitely picks up on this aura, and, more often than not, echoes it in their improvisation.  The Gorge, for example, has produced so many jams that simply could not have been played anywhere else.  Although this is the extreme example of the influence of western nature, Phish also responds to the smaller audiences that are often prevalent on the west coast (see Utah 11.2.98 and Boise 9.14.99.)  Things generally run smoother out west, with less arrests and dangerous incidents than routinely take place at east coast gatherings.  And then you have your surroundings.  Instead of strolling out into Camden, NJ, you generally find yourself in more amicable and beautiful locations as you wind your way through the west.  Yet, despite this relaxed energy, Phish has consistently cranked out top-notch shows up and down the coast; they just create divergent experiences.

Coors Amphitheatre, Chula Vista, CA

Coors Amphitheatre, Chula Vista, CA

You’ll never hear me say that east coast shows are better than west coast shows, or vice-versa; the argument is futile.  They are both the greatest.  This summer will provide a perfect taste of both flavors, as Phish is hitting some of their classic haunts on both coasts.  A renewed energy will certainly encompass every crowd across the country, but no matter how hard you’re tripping, you’ll never mistake Shoreline for Great Woods.  Why?  Because the east is the east and the west is the west, and that’s just the way it is.

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ALBUM UPDATE: A lot of nonsense has been flying around the internet about Phish’s new album.  Such absurd rumors had their newest album, “Party Time” (in reference to Trey’s quote in Rolling Stone) containing mostly past unrecorded tracks dating back to the band’s collegiate days.  But yesterday, these pictures from Phish’s studio- a track list and Trey’s new guitar- surfaced at surfaced over at liquidgoggles.com.  While the list may not be the final track listing for the album, we can see what the band is working with.  Ironically, a track, and possibly the album, is called “Party Time!”  Not all the tracks are legible, but most of it is, and it looks very exciting! This is what I can make out; the songs that have been performed in any capacity have asterisks.

1Backwards Down the Number Line*

Kill Devil

Ocelot (?)

20 Years Later

Splinters of Bat (?)

Gone*

Party Time

Let Me Lie*

2Starting Time From the Fourth Plan

Only a Dream

If I Told You

Sugar Shack

Joy

Light*

I’ve Been Around

Time Turns Elastic*

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DOWNLOAD OF THE DAY:

12.28.96 The Spectrum Philadelphia, PA < LINK

12.28.96 The Spectrum Philadelphia, PA < TORRENT LINK

1996-12-28moBy avid reader request, here we have the first night of Phish’s New Year’s Run from 1996.  A solid show from start to finish, this kicked off the celebratory run in style.  First set highlights include the first quasi-jammed out “Wolfman’s,” “Split, and “Mango.”  The second set started with a standout “Makisupa > Maze” that was featured Monday, and a proper “Mike’s Groove” to end the set.

I: Runaway Jim, NICU, Wolfman’s Brother, It’s Ice, Billy Breathes, Ginseng Sullivan, Split Open and Melt, The Mango Song, Frankenstein

II: Makisupa Policeman > Maze, Bouncing Around The Room*> TMWSIY > Avenu Malkenu, Mike’s Song > Strange Design > Weekapaug Groove, The Star Spangled Banner

E: Johnny B. Goode

*With Digital Delay Loop Jam before “TMWSIY”.

Source: Schoeps cmc641>oade>da-p1

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The Definitive “Split” of ’93

Posted in Uncategorized with the tags , , on April 20th, 2009 by Mr.Miner
Trey, 1993 (A.Dines)

Trey 1993 (A.Dines)

Sixteen years ago today, Phish was in Columbus, Ohio playing the second show of a two night stand approaching the end of their Spring 1993 tour.  The setting was the ornate Newport Music Hall, and one of the jams from this show would live on forever as a part of Phish history.  The band busted into “Split Open and Melt” as the third song of the second set, and soon engaged in some incredibly compelling improvisation.  The jam stood out to the band so much, that they decided to bring it into the studio.

Most everyone is familiar with Phish’s 1994 official release, Hoist.  The last track on this album, “Demand,” is a brief musical poem with elusive meaning, ending with the lyric “Driving home to Mom and Dad / To spend a weekend with no cares.”  Then, as the music ends, we hear someone get into a car, shut the door and pop in a cassette tape.  As the subject starts the engine, we hear a ridiculously ripping “Split Open and Melt” jam playing in the fictional car.  And here is where our stories intersect- that jam after “Demand” was plucked directly from our show in Columbus sixteen years ago.  The car drives off to the soundtrack of the intensely building jam until we hear it crash, giving way a layered live mix of “Yerushalayim Shel Zahav,” and thus ending the album.  Creating a sonic collage, and juxtaposing their stripped down studio work with their layered live psychedelia, Phish clearly chose this jam with intent.  On its anniversary, let’s take a look back at a jam so utterly breathtaking that the band decided to add it to an album.

41075wa00kl_aa240_At the onset of their 1993 “speedjazz” era, Phish engaged this “Split” jam like a lioness attacking an innocent zebra, proceeding to tear it to shreds.  This was a time where jams didn’t take time to settle, but started, earnestly, before the lyrical refrain even ended.  Trey’s licks began firing early and often as Page was all over the piano like a madman- both being held together by a lightning quick groove.  Fish and Gordon provided the super-glue for this stunningly tight musical conversation.  Trey’s licks became more condensed, often referred to as his “machine gun” playing, as his guitar acrobatics pushed the jam forward.  This amphetamine-laced music was led by Trey’s absolutely shredding guitar; far moreso than later Phish.  Moving at such a break-neck pace, this was the day where Phish left your jaw on the floor in a whole different way.

phish-hartford-4-30-93Building the momentum of the jam behind Gordon’s strapping basslines and Fish’s masterfully absurd beats, Trey progressed from notes to screams of tonal terror, creating a terrifying balls-to-the-wall soundtrack to an intense sci-fi movie.  The band slaughtered this jam, all four at once, like four lionesses shredding that poor zebra until there was nothing left.  Trey’s dissonant wails led the mission, as the band tore through the jungle, never missing a collective hit amidst the maddening psychedelia.  Mike’s playing was equally impressive as he molded basslines to complement the melodic themes while also leading the insane rhythm.  Page’s piano work was that of a true jazz player, using his instrument to achieve a drone effect in the jam while simultaneously playing dizzying right-hand lines. This was a piece of improv where all four members absolutely clicked during an era when the result was completely mind-bending, “can -you-handle-this” type of music.

Mike has referenced this jam as a moment where the band “got it” and figured out what they were trying to do musically.  It is no coincidence that after this spring tour in 1993, which finished only two weeks later, Phish went on to crush Summer ’93; a tour that is still revered to this day as the epitome of an era.  Taking Mike at face value, this “Split” jam- sixteen years ago today-kick-started one of the most well loved eras in Phish history.

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LISTEN TO 4.21.93 “Split” NOW! < LINK (Roll over, click play)

***

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DOWNLOAD OF THE DAY:

4.21.93 Newport Music Hall, Columbus, OH < TORRENT

Newport Music Hall, Columbus, OH

Newport Music Hall

Here is the complete show in which this famous “Split” was performed.  A classic show of Spring ’93, this one was definitely a high point of the tour.  On-point jamming characterized this evening and it featured many other highlights beyond “Split,” including a raw “Mike’s Groove” at the end of the night.

I: Buried Alive, Poor Heart, Foam, Guelah Papyrus, Maze, Colonel Forbin’s Ascent > Famous Mockingbird, Rift, Punch You in the Eye, I Didn’t Know, Run Like an Antelope

II: Possum, Mound, Split Open and Melt, The Squirming Coil, The Horse > Silent in the Morning, Big Ball Jam, Mike’s Song > Great Gig in the Sky > Weekapaug Groove, Gumbo

E: Sweet Adeline, Cavern

Source: Unknown

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“Dank.”

Posted in Uncategorized with the tags , , on April 20th, 2009 by Mr.Miner
Hampton (A.Kuroda)

Hampton (A.Kuroda)

Of all the musical genres in which Phish dabbles, reggae is, perhaps, the least significant. With mere passages of “Harry Hood” and “Slave” flirting with a roots-based groove, “Makisupa Policeman” is Phish’s lone original foray into the genre.  A relic from the band’s stonier days, “Makisupa” is actually the first known publicly played Phish original, making its debut on 10.23.84. Mentioning this fact in Philadelphia on 11.29.03, Trey also also noted that its lyrics were written by Tom Marshall as a kid. Though it was the “original Phish song,” the band’s homage to ganja has been somewhat of a rarity throughout their career. Always eliciting comedic cheers with Trey’s chosen “keyword,“ ”Makisupa” is Phish’s only musical reference to many fans’ recreational smoke. Usually highlighted by the creative dub lines of Gordon, this song has played multiple roles throughout Phish’s career.

makisupa_policeOne way that “Makisupa” has appeared in Phish shows has been as a set opener- accounting for about half of its appearances dating back to December ’94. Furthermore, many of these set, and show, openers have paved the way for outstanding stanzas in high profile shows. Examples include Worcester 12.29.95, The Clifford Ball 8.16.96, The Great Went 8.16.97, The Spectrum 12.28.96, and The Gorge 7.17.98. A relaxing way to ease into a set, Phish usually kept these versions succinct, juxtaposing them with something far more intense, as in the popular combination of “Makisupa > Maze.” Below are two examples of set-opening “Makisupas” with their accompanying pieces.

Makisupa > Maze” 12.28.96 II

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Makisupa -> 2001” 8.16.96 III

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photo - beforeandaftermusic.com

(beforeandaftermusic.com)

A second use for Phish’s quasi-reggae composition emerged in 1995—a landing point for, or an interlude between, adventurous psychedelia. Instead of employing the mellow music as a lead-in to something big, or simply within a string of standalone songs, Phish began to use the reggae rhythms as a gentle pillow from raucous exploration. Three illustrative examples of this “relieving” use of “Makisupa” came on 7.2.95 at Sugarbush out of a grinding jam in “Runaway Jim,” 10.22.95′s at Champaign in “Tweezer > Makisupa > BBFCFM,” and Dayton’s 11.30.95 Nutter Center performance of “Tweezer -> Makisupa -> Antelope.”  Once the late ’90s hit, “Makisupa” was used  far more sparingly in this role.

Tweezer -> Makisupa -> Antelope” 11.30.95 II

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lights

3.1.03 (P.Lucks)

As the years moved on, Phish devised a third tactical use of “Makisupa”—the developed second set version, as typified by the song’s seminal rendition on 11.19.97 in Champaign’s Assembly Hall. At times, Phish treated the song as a springboard for contained improv, especially in 1999 when Trey added a keyboard to his set up.  Instances during that fall where the band stretched the reggae groove out a were 9.28.99 in Pelham, AL, 10.4.99 in Normal, IL, and Hartford Civic Center’s version on 12.12.99.

Makisupa” 11.19.97 II

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Makisupa” 9.28.99 II

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Though not used too frequently over the years, “Makisupa” always seems to pop up at the right time. To begin a hot summer evening or to conclude a dark extended jam, “Makisupa” is more often than not placed in a show with care.  Because, hey, when you’ve only got one reggae song, you’ve gotta be careful what you do with it!

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DOWNLOAD OF THE DAY:

12.12.99 Hartford Civic Center, Hartford, CT

Megaupload < Link

1999-12-12moThis is a dark horse show within a red-hot December ’99 run.  Featuring a show-defining “Drowned,” a standout “Caspian,” and a blistering “Antelope,” this show somehow slips through most conversational cracks. This show also carried a heavy first set “Stash,” and a subject appropriate, mid-second-set “Makisupa.”

I: Heavy Things, AC/DC Bag, Strange Design, The Divided Sky, Beauty of My Dreams, Bug, Stash, Chalkdust Torture

II: Drowned > Prince Caspian, The Squirming Coil, Makisupa Policeman, Run Like an Antelope

E: Runaway Jim

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