The Moments Before

Hampton (A.Kuroda)

Hampton (A.Kuroda)

Beyond sets, songs, and jams, Phish shows are made up of a series of moments.  Some of these moments seem frozen in time, allowing us to soak in the energy before moving on.  One of the special aspects of a Phish show is that everyone holds different moments in their hearts.  The band’s musical snippets and licks speak to everyone differently, personalizing the communal experience of a show.

These Phishy moments are those split seconds where you think you might explode from being so happy, so excited, so pumped and “in the now;”  those times where your thoughts transform into physical sensations and shoot through your soul, reminding you of just how real your experience is.  Often, these are the moments directly preceding colossal improv, readying you for what is about to erupt.

While improvisational triumphs are the fabric of our Phish addiction, there are plenty of these composed moments within a show that speak to us in a similarly inspiring way.  Precursors to the most serious improvisation, they are signposts along the road that read, “Danger! Phish Bombs Ahead!”  While all of these soundbites are meaningless on their own, placed in the context of their respective songs, they are the gateways to the heavens.  Here are some of my favorites:

The Drop Into the “Mike’s” Jam

Hampton (R.Siegal)

Hampton (R.Siegel)

Few moments carry more bombastic anticipation than the back and forth guitar licks immediately preceding the drop into “Mike’s.”  Preparing for a dark and sinister adventure, when this ultimate bomb drops, my head verges on bursting every single time.  Clutching my heart with the grips of their music, Gordon pounds away his initial pattern, leading the evil march.  These initial seconds of a “Mike’s” jam comprise one of the most powerful Phish moments, as the band prepares to take us on a ride to the center of the earth.

The Antelope “Jump” Guitar Lick

Hampton (R.Siegal)

Hampton (R.Siegel)

As Phish busts into the onset of an “Antelope” jam, they always hit a composed groove, directing them into the thick of it all.  Yet before they make the final plunge, Trey’s signature lick to me has always represented a sprinting Antelope leaping high into the air amidst a hurried escape.  This lick, composed of few notes, is the last signal before the band descends into the depths of an “Antelope” jam.  This metaphorical lick represents the band’s launching point, while conjuring a vivid mental image.

“Thank You Mr. Hood”

Hampton (R.Siegal)

Hampton (R.Siegel)

This moment, in one of the band’s earliest and most defining songs, exists as a sacred point in the Phish canon.  Following a gorgeous composition and a heavy musical interlude, these lyrics, sung in harmony by the band, are the last words we hear before Phish enters one of their most uplifting pieces of improvisation.  Used as a melodic device, this lyric dissolves into the ethereal textures of the “Hood” jam.  Like magic carpet rides through divine musical atmospheres, “Hood” jams are the stuff of dreams and catharsis.  With sublime interlaced melodies that seem to derive from another plane, it is here that Phish channels the higher powers – and it all happens after thanking Mr. Hood.

The Climax of the First Half of “You Enjoy Myself”

1998 (B.Brecheisen)

Fall '98 (B.Brecheisen)

An opus that combines the band’s eclectic composition with their loosest improvisation, “YEM” is the best of both worlds.  Often cited as the definitive piece of Phish music, “YEM” has been a staple for decades.  Connecting the divergent halves of the song is Phish’s most high-energy composed climax.  Following almost ten minutes of tight playing, Phish revs it up, not once but twice, before crashing into the colorful Jello funk with a resounding “Boy!”  Few moments in any show approach the point when Trey holds that note, staring at the sky, white beams blazing, as the band chugs beneath him.  Then comes the build- then BAM!- in a split-second the funk hits like you’ve splash landed in a pool of crystalline water.

The “Reba” Drop

Hampton (J.DiGiuseppe)

Hampton (J.DiGiuseppe)

Much like “YEM,” “Reba” features a ridiculously intricate opening section before loosening into a groove.  “Reba” contains some of the most complex playing in any Phish song and juxtaposed against its laid-back bass heavy jam, the composition seems even more tightly wound.  Following the fugue in the song, the band enters a pattern of collective hits that lead into the most blissful drop in all of Phishland.  As the gates to the flowing river of “Reba” are opened, you are guaranteed some of the most gorgeous music of the night.  Sailing away into a sea of euphoric grooves, paradise awaits.

The Opening Lick Of “Tweezer”

Hampton (P.)

Hampton (P.McGuire)

“Tweezers” routinely brings such adventure, adrenaline, and everything I am looking for in a Phish jam, that it takes nothing more than the opening guitar lick to bring me to the brink.  Especially when taken by surprise by this lick, like at Hampton’s comeback show, my heart virtually skips a beat as soon as the first note emanates from Trey’s guitar.  This level of adrenaline generally continues until the jam drops when all thought processes cease.  But that first lick of the song has been known to cause extreme reactions from me.

“An Asteroid Crashed…”

Similar to “Tweezer’s” dynamic, but not nearly on the same level, when Phish cannonballs into “Tube” with this lyric, all one can think about is the deep, layered funk that will surround them in a minute or two.  This moment was even more potent some years ago when “Tube” didn’t appear as much, and then took on new meaning as the song began to emerge as a jam vehicle.  Few moments are as universally exciting as the opening of “Tube.”

There are plenty of other moments that get all of us emotionally fired up for what is ahead, but when sifting through them all, these came out as my favorites.  Anticipation is one of the greatest emotions involved in the Phish experience.  The anticipation of waiting for shows to come, the anticipation that engulfs you all day before the show; the anticipation once you get inside the venue, waiting for the lights to go out- but none of these emotions approach the immediate anticipation of an impending Phish jam on the threshold of explosion.

What are your favorite pre-jam moments of Phish?  Share in Comments below!


Hampton – Photo: Unknown



10.22.96 MSG, NYC < LINK




Here is the second show of a two-night stand in early in Fall ’96.  With great playing all the way through and a killer setlist, this is one of the few shows that really stood out during the pre-Halloween east coast run of 1996.  Featured are great performances of “YEM” and “Mike’s Groove” and “Disease.”

I: The Curtain > Runaway Jim, Bouncing Around the Room, It’s Ice, Talk, Split Open and Melt, Sparkle, Free, You Enjoy Myself

II: Also Sprach Zarathustra > Down With Disease, Taste, The Mango Song, Lawn Boy, Scent of a Mule, Mike’s Song > Swept Away > Steep > Weekapaug Groove*

E: All Along the Watchtower**

*With The Madison Scare Garden dancers towards the end. **With Buddy Miles on drums, Merl Saunders on keyboards, and Fish on Trey’s mini-drum kit.

Source: B&K 4021s > EAA PSP-2 > DA-P1 > D(1) – ORTF / OTS (10F10 row 5)

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185 Responses to “The Moments Before”

  1. Jay Says:

    Al said “a Torrent program and using torrents in the future will open up my pc – so when bugs, trojans etc. are on my drives they will be everywhere???”

    A port will be opened to your torrent app only. If there is a bug in the torrent app then you might be vulnerable but this goes for all M$ applications. That is why you protect your computer with virus protection.

    Or, you can just do what I did and installed Linux and not worry about it.

  2. wanderin Says:

    @ Al….download utorrent (its safe, its free) follow the helpful tutorials that are provided. You should have no problems.

  3. Jay Says:

    As for copyright stuff, no worries with downloads from this site.

  4. Al Says:

    Thanks guys!!! I was starting to get very nervous cause I NEED the summer tour 2009 tapes from this site:-)

  5. Asher Says:

    Mr. Miner, I love this topic. Great stuff. I agree, there is no better feeling then hearing Trey nail that lick before the Antelope jam. I also always loved the point in Taste after the rapid composed build where Trey hits that long sustained note and…its….ON!

  6. guyforget Says:

    Reba, Mikes, Antelope & Punch are my favs.

    BTW, was listening to Hampton after taking the last few weeks off from it. Wow, what a difference listening to it with fresh ears and not such a critcal ear. Totally fucking awesome. Going back to what we were discussing yesterday in regards to wives/GFs, if they play that concise, tight style as they did in Hampton, it will increase the liklihood of our phirst timer ladies enjoying the experience. Any 4 or 5 song sets or 45 mins of improv won’t be in our favor for our ladies gettting IT. Thoughts?

    And by the way, those fucking AUDs are rediculous. I highly recommend burying hampton 09 for a few weeks then dusting them off, if you have not already.

  7. Mr. Completely Says:

    @Al – I second wanderin’s recommendation of utorrent. For one thing it has a helpful setup wizard which can make sure the correct port is open so the torrent program can get through your firewall without letting anything else in.

    If you are only torrenting legal materials from known sources it will solve both of the main issues you’re worried about. First of all, the cops won’t come looking for you because you’re not breaking any laws. Simply using torrent software isn’t illegal anywhere in the Western world at least. Secondly it will avoid malware. When ppl get viruses and stuff via torrent the problem is not with the torrent program itself but with something that you download. Illegal torrents (warez/cracked apps, etc) can be dangerous to download, they frequently contain malware of various kinds.

    So if you get your torrent sources from this site, or from legal-only sharing sites like, you will have NOTHING to worry about.


    FWIW I can’t torrent at work – it is uber hi security network, and our bandwidth is our business – so I generally grab new torrents after work about twice a week.

  8. guyforget Says:

    So, on the topic of torrents, they are new to me since i started using them here, and now other places as well. They are great, but i want to be sure i’m “torrenting” correctly and “for the people”…

    I download the .rar.torrent file, run it through utorrent, then unzip the .rar file and grap the mp3s.

    As long as i leave the torrent file sitting in utorrent in a list, am i sharing it with other people?

    And, should i always leave them on the list in utorrent, such they are such small files they can just sit there forever?

  9. jasper Says:

    tons of great examples in here. one in particular i’m crazy about is the BA-BA-SNAP! BA-BA-SNAP! drop in Free. BIIIG Mike showcase, followed by Trey taking us on a particularly blistering ride all the way back home to FREEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE….

  10. Frankie Says:

    I agree guy, it would be way easier to turn new people onto Phish with the Hampton style than the 4 song sets jamfest! Personally, i prefer the long jams but you know the 3.8 set two was the perfect combination of jams/songs ratio to ease a noob in… That’s the one i used to get my friends fired up along with the 3.7 second set Rock’N’Roll party!

  11. Dr SF Jones Says:

    I have a similar question as guyforgot… if you leave the torrent on the list and then at some point quit you internet browser, doesn’t the torrent start to download again when you reopen the internet connection. I download so much Phish that I get confused if this happens as to what I already have and what I need…

  12. elbows Says:

    Nice post, Mr. Miner. I love how you capture the subtle, but nonetheless important, traits of Phish. I love the part in YEM, towards the beginning, when Fish hits the drum and Page goes into his solo. I dunno, that always got to me.

    P.S – That big picture right on top of the d-load of the day – That isn’t Hampton 09, right? I swear, though I have bad eyesight, that Fishman’s kit is behind the band.

  13. voopa Says:

    The torrent connection is unrelated to your browser connection. As long as your torrent program is running, and the torrents are listed and running, and you keep the original files in their original location on your computer, you can seed as long as you’re online. Even if you go offline for whatever reason, the torrent won’t redownload so long as the files are still in the same place.

  14. guyforget Says:

    Voopa – thanks. i was curiuous if they needed to stay in the same place. I guess my practice of moving them to my “completed torrents” folder i created is not the thing to do, since that is not where i originally ran them through utorrent froml. Shit. Oh well, i guess i’ll start torrenting properly today….

    Great topic today, as the first 5 minutes of antelope on 6/16/94 (on this site) opened my ears to a whole new world i never knew existed. check it out. I love the guital work right after the “jump” lick Miner describes…..

  15. worthlesswampyfool Says:

    i was thinking the same thing about that picture right before the DL of the day. its an amazing picture but couldnt be hampton 3.0 b/c fish is behind like in 2.0. is it june yet?

  16. worthlesswampyfool Says:

    i also love the anticipation of the fuddled bass tuning stuff that happens right before mike drops the bass in the beginning of dwd, although the song is not a real fav of mine. just knowing mikes gonna rip those opening notes out always jacks me up. or maybe its because its normally to begin a set and i know i got an hour+ left to love life.

  17. worthlesswampyfool Says:

    sorry to keep posting. but im a long time reader and first time poster. wanted to say LOVE the site keep it up.

  18. voopa Says:

    You may be able to move them and keep them running. If that’s what you’ve been doing with no problems, then yeah. As long as the program knows where to look for them once they’ve been moved.

  19. wanderin Says:

    @ Guyforget

    I usually keep my downloaded torrents in a separate folder from my other music files. I will copy them from my dl torrents folder and place them in my normal folder. The program will still be running and will be seeding as long as there are people wanting those files. I am sure there are many other methods people have, but this is one that I use.

  20. Chalkdustin Says:

    Geeze, this is all very confusing. I’m using Vuze since that was the only program the security here at work would let me get. I download the torrent through Vuze then move the rar file from where the program puts it to my music folder and expand it to get the MP3s. Then I usually remove the torrent from the ‘unwatched’ part of Vuze cuz it usually just says queued next to it…that’s wrong, right? I should leave the torrent in ‘unwatched’ and leave the rar where it was downloaded to? Sorry, I’m so not good with this stuff and I want to get it right!

  21. Mr.Miner Says:

    yeah- that Hampton Photo is from ’03- nice call

    Thanks for learning torrents folks, we will be putting together a torrent tutorial page before switching over.

  22. Mr. Completely Says:

    if your torrent program shows the files without an error message you haven’t broken anything. Note that we are talking about 2 different things here though:

    1) the .torrent file. you DL it from this site (or wherever) and open it in your torrent app. The torrent apps typically stash a copy of the .torrent file in their own self-created folder somewhere. So once stuff is running you can move or delete the .torrent file itself – at least that’s how it works in all of the half dozen or so apps I’ve used over the years.

    2) the downloaded fileset. In this case usually a .rar file, from it will usually be a folder with FLACs or SHNs and some text and info files. These probably need to stay wherever you chose to put them when the download starts in order for the uploads to keep working. Or at least if you move them you’ll probably need to show the torrent app where to find them.

    So I have a “torrent downloads” folder and all the .rars and FLACs and stuff go there.

    Then I have another folder right next to it, “decompressed audio” – that’s where the mp3s go when I open the .rars, or where the AIFF/WAVs go when I open the FLAC files.

    I use iTunes as my library. When I add the mp3/AIFF/WAV to iTunes, it copies the files from my “decompressed audio” folder to the iTunes library. I am paranoid so I always look on the HD to make sure that has actually occurred, but it has never failed, so I don’t know why I still do that.

    Then once the audio is in iTunes, I delete the contents of the “decompressed audio” folder. This leaves you with the music ready to go in itunes, and the original .rar or FLACs still in the torrent location for uploading.

    As for how long to leave the .rars or FLACs on your HD for sharing – you are keeping the actual fileset too, not just the .torrent file so its not negligible size. As long as you are keeping a good share ratio overall (above 2.0 is a good baseline) then it’s a judgment call how long to leave it up. You can watch the demand for torrents drop over time. Once a torrent is sitting idle most of the time for a few days it should be OK to nuke it. I generally leave them up at least a week, minimum, before even checking that – if its an active torrent you can easily get a 5.0+ ratio in that amount of time.

    Of course if you have particular favorite file sets you may decide to keep sharing them basically forever – I love this “torrent caretaker” idea.

  23. Mr. Completely Says:

    @chalkdustin unfortunately not sure how to help you – I used Azureus for a long time but abandoned it when they turned it into Vuze – which I am sorry to say is a (IMO) hideous piece of bloatware, I found it totally confusing and annoying. Not sure why your work would prefer that app, it’s not better or more secure than any other torrent app out there, but if you’re stuck with it, hopefully someone else on here can help you.

  24. Mr. Completely Says:

    but “queued” usually means “ready to go but not being seeded right now” – if you have a lot of filesets in shares that can happen easily. There’s usually a “max uploads” setting (the number of outgoing connections to allow) and if all your upload slots are full, then other filesets may be labelled “queued.”

    If that doesn’t make sense I have no further guesses. But I would leave the downloaded .rar files where they are, yeah, if you want to share them.

  25. Chalkdustin Says:

    No worries, Mr. Completely, I appreciate the advice. I’m using a Mac and couldn’t find another program that was compatible and accepted by the security here. Maybe I’ll just have to do all my downloading at home from now on.

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