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. guyforget Says:

    what about in utorrent when you torrent is completed at %100 (blue progress bar) and its still sitting on your list of torrents? Am i sharing at that point even though i have my .rar file?

  2. Davey Says:

    All this virus torrent talk could be solved if you buy a mac 😀
    If you have a mac already I’ve found that Transmission is a little faster and easier to use than Vuse/Azureus. Couldn’t get any easier in my opinion. Just keep your ratio up and you’ll have no problems.

    My favorite “tense anticipation” (even though it doesn’t drop into a jam) is the Divided Sky mumblings dudaaldudaludualudaludaludualu to those notes Dun Dun Dun Duuuuuuuunnnnnn then when they do it full speed it brings tears to my eyes. It actually did bring tears to my eyes when I heard it in the “no spoilers”

  3. Davey Says:

    @ guy, you are seeding it at that point. Torrent programs expect you to seed just as much as you leech. So if you download a 5gb file they want you to give 5gb of it back. It’s hard to keep up a good ratio sometimes though.

  4. Mr. Completely Says:

    @Davey – I agree, Transmission is a very nice light BT client. It has few options and settings and IMO that’s fine.

    @guy – exactly correct. uTorrent (and many other clients) don’t move torrents to a separate list when they’re complete – Azureus did that, I think Vuze prob. still does. If it’s at 100% , the .rar file is ready to be opened, and the fileset will start being shared as long as you don’t mess with the .rar after opening it.

  5. Davey Says:

    Ya you HAVE to keep the file in the same place that it was downloaded to or it won’t be able to find it to seed. So after opening the .rar just leave it be and I usually just open up my program at night and let it seed while I sleep. Usually when you wake up you’re at a good enough ratio. 1.0 or at least .8 or something.

  6. Chalkdustin Says:

    @ Davey, I’ve never heard of that program but I was able to download that to my computer. Looks a lot less complicated than Vuze, but we shall see tomorrow with the new DOTD!

  7. Mr. Completely Says:

    to add to what davey said about keeping good share ratio – that is why you want to build as good a ratio as possible up front, eventually you want some giant video file that everyone else has already gotten, so its very hard to get decent ratio on and it kills your overall ratio – if you have built up strong overall ratio before that you can absorb the blows that will come when that happens.

  8. Davey Says:

    Ya it’s works for PC’s too. Mac’s are just limited to either Vuse or Transmission and in my opinion…. Transmission is way better. It’s light and therefore doesn’t take up as much RAM which makes my DL’s faster.

  9. Chalkdustin Says:

    How do you build up ratio????? (so sorry for the dumb questions)

  10. Davey Says:

    I Completely agree with Mr. Completely. My ratio is really bad right now (like .56 or something) because Phish show’s come and go really quickly. You DL them and seed a little bit of them, then everyone is done.

  11. Davey Says:

    For every Megabyte that you take, you give a Megabyte back when you are done downloading.

  12. Frankie Says:

    Mac users, thanks for the heads up on Transmission! I’ll check it out when i get home tonight…

    Torrents is the greatest invention since the wheel IMO. I remember buying bootleg cds of Black Crowes and Black Sabbath for 40 bucks and it sounded like it was recorded in Bill Ward’s bass drum… didn’t know better…

  13. Davey Says:

    So I’d recommend trying to get a username and password to or just go to or something and download a really popular torrent, something that has at least 1000+ leechers and seeders then after it’s done downloading just leave your program open for a while and let people leech it from you until you have a good ratio. It’s hard to explain on the internet (or I just suck at explaining) but just give back whatever you take.

    Good advice would be to just leave the program open at least a couple hours after it’s done downloading. I do it overnight.

  14. Mr. Completely Says:

    @Chalkdustin just leave it up and running for awhile. “Ratio” is “MB uploaded: MB downloaded.” In Transmission it shows your ratio for each individual fileset, and at the top it shows you your overall ratio.

    The best way to build good ratio is to get on a torrent relatively early, complete the DL, and be sharing it when the main rush of downloaders hits. I have gotten ratios of over 5.0 or ever 8.0 on a couple of Mr. Miners torrents within just a couple days by doing that.

    A couple others I came to very late, and ended up under 1.0 – but since I had “built up” ratio on those popular torrents, my overall ratio is still like 2.75 or something.

    So grab em as early as you can and leave em up as many hours as you can for a week and you should be fine, I bet.

  15. Davey Says:

    Leechers = people wanting and DL’ing the file
    Seeders = people who have already DL’ed it and are giving it to you.

    So a file with way more Seeders than leechers will go fast. If everyone is trying to get a file from, say, 5 seeders it will take a while.

  16. Davey Says:

    It’s really complicated when you are first learning it but once you start doing it, it will go smooth as butter. I don’t know half of the stuff that the settings do. I just open something and then leave it open. Works for me.

  17. guyforget Says:

    so, you need to keep the .rar file in order for others to leech from you? i thought you just need to keep the .rar.torrent file. If you need to keep the .rar files, doesn’t that eat up your storage space quickly? Each one is like 350K mb…..

  18. R1 Says:

    wow – i am becoming quite intimidated by this torrent talk. i’m sure it will all begin to make sense at some point.

  19. guyforget Says:

    i don’t think it’s complicated at all, just need to know the specifics of how to share instead of being an unitntentional greedy bastard and not even knowing it!!!

  20. Davey Says:

    Once you open the torrent it will make a file on your computer somewhere, then slowly fill that file with the required MB space. You can choose where it goes but in order to seed it, you have to leave it wherever you put it in the first place. It’s kind of a pain but the .rar isn’t that big of a file. You can trash it after you feel you’ve seeded it enough.

  21. Davey Says:

    I’ll give you an inside tip. Anime episodes are a great way to up your ratio, I just opened Transmission and noticed that my ratio is terrible .56 YUCK. So I went on and DL’d an anime episode with 7500 seeders and over 10,000 leechers. So i’ll be able to give way more back than I took, thus helping my overall ratio.

  22. guyforget Says:

    Thanks Davey. that makes sense. i’ll delete my .rar files after a week after i’v left them on utorrent for a week or so. i can trash the .rar.torrent too for good, right?

  23. voopa Says:

    Heh, try working with lossless torrents….I have about 300G worth of shows in my “active torrents” directory, and that’s just from the last 3 months!

  24. Davey Says:

    P.S. Undermind is one of my new favorite songs. So slinky sneaky and slick.

  25. Davey Says:

    Ya you can ditch the torrent file as soon as you are done DL’ing it.

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