Not A Wasted Note

Fall '98

Fall '98 (Unk)

Once in a while, Phish will play a jam where every note falls in the right place.  Fluid and flowing in the subconscious state, the band becomes a model of musical efficiency, using each note with intention; nothing is superfluous.  The music is channeled directly from the source, untouched by human error.  Each tone, texture or sound has a purpose, and there is no part of the jam that isn’t completely coherent.  When all four members peak together for twenty minutes, the results can be glorious. A jam can- no doubt- be outstanding without this level of perfection, yet every now and again a version of a song pops off in such a way, leaving you amazed that four humans just created it.  There are many examples of this phenomenon, and 12.29.98’s “YEM” is one of them.

Punctuating arguably the best set of the ’98 New Years Run, Phish morphed into a robotically-precise groove machine, transforming Madison Square Garden into an all-out, end of the year, dance party.  This “YEM,” from its first note to its last, never missed a beat; a model of collaboration.  With communication like none other, this version sounded like you were listening to a record.

1998-12-29moThe initial composed portion was played almost impeccably, at a pace where every note of every arpeggio could be heard with crystal clarity.  Moving into the blissed out soundscape- the calm before the storm- the band never faltered, providing divine harmonies, yet moving through the passage with direction and a subtle sense of urgency.  As Phish moved into the next compositional segment, followed by the song’s mid-point build, they were firing on full throttle, without getting ahead of themselves for a second.  The pace of their playing was discernibly patient, yet fierce at the same time.  As Mike played a series of melodic lines behind Trey’s massive sustained peak, The Garden was cleared for take off- and that is exactly what it did.

From the initial funk drop though the end of the song, the band’s playing was flawless.  Moving through the lyrical segment and Page’s solo during the trampoline section, the band was clearly locked in and ready to explode.  And then Trey and Mike jumped off.  Communicating with mind-bending efficiency, the ensuing jam sounded completely rehearsed.

Hampon (Unk)

Hampon (Unk)

Beginning a clinic in Phish grooves, Trey initiated a crack-style rhythm pattern that Mike immediately backed with “The Way I Feel’s” bass line.  As the band moved into the jam, every member’s phrases were offered as complements to each others’, clearly listening as hard as they were playing.  Collectively switching patterns at the drop of a hat, or more literally a single snare hit, the band progressed through a catalog of dance patterns.  The music jumped from the stage with such vitality as a living breathing entity.   Dynamic and bursting with a controlled energy, this version showcased the band not only at the climax of a standout show, but at the end one of the peak years of their career.

Artistically building out of the funk, the jam gained a head of steam, driving forward like a freight train, with every member crushing it while fitting together like a jigsaw puzzle.  Page’s lines leapt from his grand piano, Trey painted colorful strokes across Mike’s oddly melodic musings while Fish surfed a wave of precise beats and incredibly tight rhythms.

The peak and the post-peak sections maintained 100% engagement by all, and were good to the absolute last drop.  With each band member at the top of their game, this version of their seminal piece provided a snapshot of what 1998 Phish grooves were all about.  An archetype of efficiency, this “YEM” represents the type of jam that emerges when everything clicks and no notes are wasted.


LISTEN TO 12.29.98 “YEM” NOW! < LINK (Roll over, click play)



3.6.09: Photo: C. Taylor Crothers



4.10.93 Aragon Ballroom, Chicago, IL SBD < LINK

4.10.93 Aragon Ballroom, Chicago, IL SBD < TORRENT  LINK

Aragon Ballroom, Chicago, IL

Aragon Ballroom, Chicago, IL

Taking it back exactly 16  years, here we have a SBD memoir of Phish’s performance on this day in 1993.  In Chicago, the band threw down a hot show, with a big “Mike’s Groove” strewn with humor, darkness, and an interlude of “Great Gig In the Sky” holding down the second set.  In addition, local blues artist, and multiple-time Phish guest, Sugar Blue, joined the band for the final four songs of the second set.

I: Runaway Jim, Weigh, Sparkle, Split Open and Melt, The Squirming Coil, My Friend My Friend, Uncle Pen, Chalk Dust Torture, Lawn Boy, David Bowie

II: Lengthwise > Maze, Bouncing Around the Room, Rift, Glide, Big Ball Jam, Mike’s Song > Great Gig in the Sky > Weekapaug Groove, Funky Bitch*, Help Me*, Hoochie Coochie Man*, Cavern*

E: Amazing Grace, Good Times Bad Times

*With Sugar Blue on harmonica and vocals.

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162 Responses to “Not A Wasted Note”

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  1. Bobby Caplewood Says:

    Speaking of “not a wasted note” Check the 7-23-97 Lakewood ATL ………..PYITE>GHOST………a perfect 30 minutes. they put together sounds in Ghost you will not hear in any other version and the Punch is super funky and rock solid. I believe the boys were rewarding those of us that battled the nine hour drive from Raleigh in the flooding tropical rain storm that followed us all the way down I-85…What a Summer tour………..Oh I miss those days!

  2. hairy pood Says:

    nice phish bomb on the train. that pic’s very worthy of postage. i want that guy to bomb my car for the west coast run…

  3. Al Says:

    Great post again, Miner! Exactly how I feel, too.

    Other Jams without a wasted note:
    as Bobby^ said: Atlanta GHOST 07/23/97, but also that funky Split open.
    – Tweezer 7/10/99 (Vol 8), 2/28/03
    – ACDC Bag 9/14/99
    – Antelope 12/29/97, 07/29/97
    – Bowie 31/12/2002 NYE comeback (yes indeed!)
    – Piper 06/19/04, 12/29/03
    – Mike’s Song 12/31/95
    – Stash 07/30/97, 12/01/03 (yes, indeed! Great Page)
    – Reba 06/19/95, and Cifford Ball 96
    – Twist 04/02/98
    – Hood 11/22/97, 12/31/95
    – YEM 12/29/96, 11/09/96, 06/11/94,
    – Runaway Jim 11/29/97, 12/28/97
    – Bathtub 07/29/98 (Vol. 17 filler), and Great Went
    – Ghost 11/17/97 (Vol. 11) 07/23/97, 11/28/97, 12/28/97
    – Maze 10/18/96, 07/06/98 (Prague release), 11/28/97, 08/13/96
    – Birds 07/21/03
    – Ya Mar 08/02/03 (IT), 12/13/97


  4. hairy pood Says:

    I just stumbled into this quote and response from the other day:

    ^Davey. Re: “To be fair BwanaSun, Frankenstein and Peaches aren’t Phish songs. Although they do open them exceptionally well.”

    Yeah, sure, but like many Phish covers, I’d rather see Phish play them than the original artists… These too: Ya Mar, Roses are Free, Cities, Boogie On Reggae Woman, Funky Bitch, Jesus Left Chicago, Purple Rain, Walk Away, Ride Captain Ride…

    This makes me a little sad. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE Phish. But, I would rather hear Zappa play Peaches En Regalia, Edgar Winter play Frankenstein, Stevie play Boogie On, And the Talking Heads play Cities or Crosseyed and Painless. I cannot understand the idea of preferring to see Phish plays these songs. Would you rather see Phish, whom most of us have seen many times, or the velvet underground play rock and roll? How about an early 70’s stones live version of loving cup vs. phish? this really irks me and piques my interest towards whether you were serious, or just expressing your love of phish’s versions of great covers.

  5. Al Says:

    forgot one, sorry.
    Check out Split open & melt at Deer Creek 07/10/00!! There is a GREAT SBD of that show in rotation > here:

    Great collective groove. Also Mike’s favorite version 11/06/98 from Madison. Good one, too.

  6. ma Says:

    don’t forget the SPAC Twist 04’… a monster!

  7. bhizzle Says:

    This may be a day late but did anyone else hear about Frank’s wife putting the iron fist down or trying to when it comes to other bands playing Zappa tunes? She wants every band that wants to play his songs or just one to pay a licensing fee. I wonder if we’ll be hearing Peaches this summer.

  8. Jack O Roses Says:

    Just wanted to say thanks Mr. Miner for the excellent work you’ve been doing here! Also, much thanks for all the shows you’ve posted!

    I do have a couple of show requests.

    11-20-91 Campus Club
    6-30-94 Richmond
    7-1-94 Philly
    10-27-94 UVA
    Or maybe a focus on sick 1994 shows?
    7-15-98 Portland, OR

    Thanks again Mr. Miner! See ya this summer!!!

  9. Al Says:

    Tweezer 12/06/97…sorry miner for mentioning that one so late.

    Concerning Phish playing covers:
    There’s nothing better than Phish playin’ Crosseyed or Timber. Phish adopted those songs. They are Phish songs in their own way, now. Just look at the IT Ya Mar or the Burgettstown 03 & West Palm Beach 96 Crosseyed. Or the 04/03/98 Roses. Don’t want to miss that.
    But concering sharing the stage with other musicians, I’d rather just have Phish on stage, that’s true. Although Karl Perazzo was great! But that’s about it for me.

  10. Exree Hipp Says:

    For me, the ‘not a wasted note’ jams are those that sound composed throughout, and though all the jams you named, Al, are great, I don’t think any of them are missing a few minutes of noodling.

    But there are some jams that for me seem like they were written beforehand, they are so graceful, namely the 6/11/94 YEM you named and the 10/23/94 (ALO) Hood. Lot of stuff from 12/95, too, including the 12/1/95 DWD and 12/9/95 YEM, and I’ll second your comments about the stuff from the Ball, including the 8/16/96 Mike’s > Simple and the 8/17/96 Reba. Always am amazed at the patience in the build of the 6/28/00 Gin, too.

  11. SOAM Says:

    Ride Captain Ride gives me a woody. Shout out to the lot wookettes

  12. Al Says:

    Agreed, ^Exree Hipp.
    But there’s noodling and there’s the other noodling. One is just plain boring, mechanical, without emotion (God, I sound like desperate housewife) and the other one is the searching for the right key in your pocket to open the golden door in front of you – you know what I mean?

    I’m just listening to the Dallas 07/25/97 show at th moment. What a GREAT show!! Awesome Chalkdust!

  13. lanser Says:

    4/10/93 first show for me, judd, stecker. the night it all began.

  14. nonoyolker Says:

    I love seeing a phish interpretation of a cover song. I’d never listen to ride capt ride by whoever did it originally, but hey, put a little phish chewy into a jam and my interest has been caught. Songs like Cities are completely unrecognizable compared to the heads version (speaking of no wasted notes, check the heater Polaris ’98 versh, 15 min of frosting). Not really into Robert Palmer, but Sneaking Salley Thru the Alley gets me pumped at a phish show. This doesn’t mean that every cover they do is better than the original, but it is always cool to see your favorite band playing a song they admire that you may dig too
    Great write up on the YEM. Version is pure fire.
    Also, trying to fight the good fight and use the torrents, but i am just not getting it. Tutorial maybe?

  15. Al Says:

    Just finished listening the the Dallas 7/25/97 version of Chalkdust Torture!! Now, everyone to your shelves or hard-drives, grab it and listen. I’ve finally found MY favorite Chalkdust Version!!! Finally, after 13 years….

  16. msbjivein Says:

    Since we’re talkin Phish covers. Why not find out whet everyone’s favorite Fish cover is. I personaly like Fish’s BIKE cover, And Cracklin Rosie. What about Y’all?

  17. SOAM Says:

    Those are my 2 least favorite by a mile and toss in a cheesy 70’s dirt weed brown mexicali HYHU in there as songs I hope are extinct.


  18. msbjivein Says:

    “Covers are part of the Deal” but you don’t like any Fish covers????

  19. Brimley Says:

    I loved the 7/25/99 Deer Deer Creek My Friend>My Left Toe>Whipping Post…Love the Allman’s and the segue is flawless

  20. SOAM Says:

    I would prefer if that little troll Fishman had no mouth just arms , legs and his fat gut.

  21. msbjivein Says:

    ^^ That was ones of my Fav DeerCreek shows. Had killer seats like ten rows back. When they Busted out whipping post I about lost it! The Suzy was killer to.

  22. A_Glide Says:

    ^I saw Son Seals and Sugar Blue encore @ Rosemont in ’99. Funky Bitch, Messin with the Kid. That was pretty sick.

    Anyone know about the YEM vocal jam from 12-31-95? I’m curious if everyone else thinks Trey is sayin the same thing me and my friends think he’s saying.

  23. bcb Says:

    Wow, this YEM really is smoking! I am enjoying it more than should be legal. Maybe I am way out of it, but what is “the way i feel’s” bass line?

    Pages synth tone scared me. Actually scared me.

    There is nothing more pleasing than Phish NAILING one of their most legendary songs.

    As for Fish songs, I’ve always been a fan of Cracklin Rosie

  24. whole tour! Says:

    is it june yet? i’m going f-ing insane! lost my mind more than a couple of times waiting for this tour to finally start! If i had a way to fast forward to may 31st i would have hit that button like 2 months ago!

  25. msbjivein Says:

    SOAM, I love to see Fish come out and sing. Obviously he’s not the greatest singer. I just can’t help but imagine the look on the faces of the none HEADS in the crowd. “What the FUck is this shit!” You either get or you don’t.

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