Madison Square MikeSong

12.31.95 (musicremedy.com)

12.31.95 (musicremedy.com)

The 1995 New Year’s show at Madison Square Garden is often seen as the coronation of one of the greatest years of Phish, and also the culmination of their their career to that point.  Showcasing a musical smorgasbord of all things Phish, the band tore the roof off the most famous arena in the world announcing their definitive arrival to the music industry.  After years of grassroots touring and dedication to their craft, Phish had proved to themselves, and to all, that they had succeeded.  Peaking their musical style of the fall with boisterous arena improv and tightly wound compositions, Phish was at the absolute top of their game, and it showed.

phish-new_years_eve_1995_bChurning out what many consider to be the finest Phish show ever, the band played several top-notch versions of their most popular jam vehicles.  The towering highlights included a divine first set “Reba,” second set adventures in “Drowned” and “Runaway Jim,” and a third set that featured a celebratory “Weekapaug,” and a near-flawless “YEM.”  But despite these multiple peaks throughout the night, none were more engaging, vicious, and masterful than the “Mike’s Song” that concluded set two- the final jam of 1995.

The band built on the outrageous momentum created over the fist two sets, and as they approached their second setbreak, the piercing riff of “Mike’s” jumped off the stage like a shotgun blast of adrenaline flooding our collective consciousness. The Garden was soon engulfed in the heaviest improv of the evening, and with their razor sharp chops of December ’95, Phish created a timeless piece of improv that is still revered today.

Gamehendge Time Laboratory (C.Taylor Crothers)

Gamehendge Time Laboratory (C.Taylor Crothers)

Launching into the jam, Page brought his classic organ swells as the band climbed into a fierce and dirty “Mike’s” groove right off the bat.  Fish and Mike developed a tight pocket in this initial part of the jam, allowing Trey to freely express his thoughts within the framework of a slammin’ groove.  Trey got into some vicious lead lines quickly, and the room transformed into a sinister sonic dungeon as the band furthered their foray into darkness.  The intensity of the music was palpable, as there was no laying back during ’95 “Mike Songs.”  The band attacked the music with aggression and created a smoke-filled monster out of the first jam, but the real improv started when Phish dropped into the second.

For years, the most creative section of “Mike’s Song” was the second jam, following the power chords- the same chords that signaled the song’s conclusion in latter years.  Somewhere along the way in the late ’90s, the band neutered one of their greatest songs, lopping off its ballsiest segment without notice.  But we were still in ’95 here, and when Phish dove into the more menacing and improvisational jam, what resulted was the stuff dreams are made of.  Following the drop, Trey almost immediately entered some solo-shredding that led the band into the meat of the song.  On point and playing like one entity, Phish locked onto Trey’s pattern, entering some full-band grooves that got the room shaking in earnest.

Fall '95 (T.Mosenfelder)

Fall '95 (T.Mosenfelder)

As the jam progressed, it got more and more coherent as they collectively created passages of pure improvisation, related, but not connected, to “Mike’s” structure.  This was 1995 Phish doing their thing, exploring outer rings of the musical galaxy with enthusiasm, determination, and a sense of unbridled adventure.  Unsure of where they would end up, the band was squarely focused on the moment-to-moment progression of this masterful music.

phas20-11Bringing the jam to a dissonant crescendo, the textures fell away, and the only sounds left audible were Trey’s multiple loops at the onset of a digital delay jam.  One by one, the other band members left the scorching stage, eventually leaving Trey on stage, silhouetted by the smoke and lights, continuing his innovative one-man jam.  Providing a psychedelic denouement to one of the raunchiest pieces of the entire Fall, the drone patterns created a fitting end to a raucous set.   In the midst of this sonic collage emerged Trey’s voice, bringing us out of our meditative dreamstate, quietly saying, “We’re gonna be back in about 15 minutes. Don’t go away. Thank you.”

It was safe to say that no one was going anywhere.  We had just witnessed a piece of Phish history, one of those moments you didn’t need to hear on tape to confirm its magnitude.  Phish was in the process of annihilating The Garden in their first New Year’s Eve performance in the building, and we were all lucky to be along for the ride.  When the band came out to “Auld Lang Syne > Weekapaug,” 1996 had arrived, and though many lasting moments came from the last night of ’95, this “Mike’s Song” was a crowning homage to one of the greatest years of the band’s career.

***

[audio:http://phishthoughts.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/12/2.07-Mikes-Song.mp3]

***

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R1’s DOWNLOAD OF THE DAY (Written by contest winner, R1)

7.17.1999 Oswego County Airport, Volney, NY < TORRENT LINK

Oswego

Oswego 7.99

“Continuing my trend of showcasing sick first sets, I come to you with another reader-request, suggested by several folks.

On an obscenely hot weekend in upstate NY, Phish matched the intense temperatures by bringing the heat, albeit a slow burn, for their weekend mini-festival. Busting out of the gate with a fiery, funktastic “Tube” replete with ubiquitous ‘Crosseyed’ phrasing, followed by a smooth “Boogie On,” it was clear that the fellas were in a dancing sorta’ mood. The highlight of the first set is the “Tweezer > Have Mercy” combo, featured in Miner’s Pick’s: Summer ’99. The jam starts off gooey thick, with a descending progression, before the band takes a collective inhale and releases as Trey’s notes seem to ping-pong between Mike’s bass bombs. Wonderfully melodic, yet full of searing Trey work, this relatively laid-back version segues sublimely into the Mighty Diamond’s plaintive reggae gem.

The second set saw the band welcome to the stage “Funky Bitch” sribe, blues guitarist Son Seals, to join them for a ripping version of the frequent cover as well as another one of his tunes, “On My Knees.”  From there, the set blasted off with a ferocious” DWD.” What followed was some more of the relaxed summer flow, with a beautiful, fluid “Wolfmans > Sally > Timber” sequence and a “YEM” that struts to a similar reserved groove.  This is some oxymoronic chilled-out, summer heat.”

I: Tube, Boogie on Reggae Woman, Birds of a Feather, Guelah Papyrus, My Sweet One, Roggae, Tweezer  > Have Mercy*, Taste, Character Zero

II: Funky Bitch**, On My Knees**, Down With Disease*, Wolfman’s Brother > Sneakin’ Sally Through the Alley > Timber Ho!, You Enjoy Myself

E: The Squirming Coil, Tweezer Reprise

*Trey on keys. **With Son Seals.

Source: Schoeps cmbi + mk2s > AD1000  15″ spread 130 degrees FOB

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110 Responses to “Madison Square MikeSong”

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  1. shpongleyez Says:

    your mom’s just a fan of this 95 cuz it was what hooked her 😉

    nice first set lovin, r1, now how about some sick nasty filthy-ness. you know…the goods!

  2. Al Says:

    What wonderful posts and picks these days – thanks Miner & R1

  3. ColonelJoy Says:

    No Question, 95′ was the best NYE show ever, by a long shot. Usually the 29th or 30th proves the best of the run, but not that year.

  4. Al Says:

    ^don’t forget NYE Big Cypress…

  5. axillalot Says:

    Thanks for this show miner, never been able to find a decent sounding copy of it. Any chance you could complete the weekend and put 7/18 up next? Thanks!

  6. mr. icclus Says:

    Wish i could have been there to here that Mikes to bad i was only 15. Miner you keep digging into the past. You hardly posted anything on hampton you talked only about a few songs from hampton. Haven’t posted anything about the summer tour besides your sleeper shows. Why always must you rehash the past, lets move forward. Why not post something about all this Fenway hype. Whats your opinion? What songs do you expect to here and why?

  7. Little Buddy Says:

    mr. icclus…

    You should be thanking Miner for teaching you about Phish history so that you can appreciate the coming tour when it arrives. He posted A LOT on Phish 3.0 leading up to, and immediately after Hampton. This whole summer will be filled with current Phish postings and analysis. Enjoy the knowledge that he’s laying out there for you to absorb since you were too young to be there. A well educated Phish-head is an appreciative Phish-head. There will be plenty of Phish 3.0 talk in the months to come. Chill…

    R1 – ‘Swego was the heat in more ways than one. I’m still recovering from that sunburn…

  8. Jack O Roses Says:

    This whole run of shows was amazing. We were wondering what they’d do to top the flying hot dog from NYE ’94. We we’re pleasantly mind-blown! lol

    Here’s a really fun game from Jamtopia! Name these 30 Phishy venues:
    http://jamtopia.com/blog/phish-geography-game/

  9. dyda Says:

    that second jam segment in the 95nye mike’s is top 5 material

  10. vtsnowboarder802 Says:

    what the heck is the ‘crosseyed’ tease/theme I keep seeing references to? I’m listening to yesterday’s wolfman’s now, but have no idea what i’m listening for…

  11. jay Says:

    crosseyed and painless tease. Listen for the hints of the talking heads song.

  12. lanser Says:

    we knew it was special while it was happening. amazing night!!!!!!!

  13. Dave Sanny Says:

    I was just hearing this Mike’s last night and was blown away, yet again. And then to come here this morning to read this???? You gotta love it.

    Thanks Mr. Minor.

  14. JMelby Says:

    That whole night was amazing with so many great moments. I loved the jam in Jim when Trey was finishing with his lilttle drum kit and started hitting the strings of the Languedoc with the drumsticks. All I could think of at the time was The Song Remains The Same that was shot at MSG on that stage, when Jimmy Page is using the bow on his guitar and just shreds it apart. I always wondered if Trey had that in the deep recesses of his mind as he did the same on Jim. It also was so cool when they split Mikes Groove over the 2 sets. I’ve always thought it might be cool if someday they did the same with Divided Sky. Start it very late in the first set and then walk off b/4 the continue note that we all yell for from Trey. They would come out for the start of second set and hit that note, Jon hits the cymbals and off we would go. A true Divided Sky. Any thoughts?

    One thing I really remember about the night b/4 was John Popper up front by the stage just getting down to the 2001>Suzy, b/4 heading to Roseland to perform their show. Everyone around us thought it meant he’d be up on stage with Phish. I for one am glad that didn’t happen.

  15. In Flagrante Delicto Says:

    Oswego was the worst of the fests. The drive up was nearly impossible if you saw the show the night before. By the time we arrived, all of the good camping spots were gone, unless you had heads who skipped the show before to get up there early (and see the Slip play the second stage). We ended up camping in poison ivy (stupid).

    And it was so damn hot. Miserably, miserably hot.

    I can say I’ve never had a bad time at a Phish show, 75+ shows in. But Oswego was damn close.

    I do love the Roggaee in the first set, though. There’s a song that doesn’t get enough love.

    Thanks for the posts, Miner and R1. I’m all for looking to the future, but the way I get excited is to think about how frequently I’ve been surprised by the band in the past.

  16. In Flagrante Delicto Says:

    *ever had a bad time (not never)

  17. Mr.Miner Says:

    “Why not post something about all this Fenway hype. Whats your opinion? What songs do you expect to here and why?

    ^^ Phish is playing fenwway in 2 weeks. I don’t have any expectations because I never do. I hope they play Tweeezer, because I love it. Is that good? 😉 There’s nothing to say my man- you’ll ear about it ehn it happens.

    If you don’t know your past, you on’t know your future

  18. Jerrydamule Says:

    12.31.95 was the heat. Images tucked away deep into recesses of my mind. Fishman dressed as Baby New Year’s in diapers. That one is burned into my memory. So I got that going for me, which is kinda nice.

  19. msbjivein Says:

    @ R1, Nice pick. I can still feel the heat from that fest. Even though it was hot as hell the music was still the HEAT! The next day the Del mcCoury Band came out. Maybe we could add that also?? Would love to hear It again.

    @ In Flagrante, Don’t forget about Coventry.

  20. msbjivein Says:

    @Icclus, Live Today, Dream Tomorrow,CHERISH YESTERDAY!!

  21. mr. icclus Says:

    ^^Miner don’t take it the wrong way i love reading your post. And yes the knowledge that you give us touches our hearts and souls. It like looking at pictures but evan better when you stir up memories like the 2000 post yesterday. And everyone just goes off with great stories about the shows. But im just so excited for this summer that i want to dig into the possibilities and here your prdictions i know you can do better than just a Tweezer. This is going to epic not many have played Fenway, can you imagine the excitement of the boys playing Fenway!!!! Im still hopeing for a Forplay/Long Time.

  22. Marco2 Says:

    The Oswego show was described as “obscenely hot”? R1’s excellent pick from yesterday(starplex 97)was the hottest I’ve been in my entire life! My research tells me it was 20 degrees warmer at the Dallas show. Anyone attend both?

  23. bhizzle Says:

    Oswego….man…that’s where I learned not to bring my OL to any festivals. Nag, nag, nag….needless to say she ain’t my OL any more. I did have a good time though. We went up with a group of peeps. These two dudes followed us up tripping non-stop, both are red heads with super pale skin. Due to the heat they took their shirts off, but with them tripping they never knew they were getting scorched. I looked at them and just felt their pain. The next day they were in so much pain they dosed again and this time rubbed on some spf, with a few cringes as they did. Then my friend, my girl and I left right after the last set and what a bear. We were camped in. After a few scouting trips I routed the VW Fox through tents and rides, threading needles. I was grabbing corners of tents to temporarily move them out of the tire path. One tent I heard some chick yelling at her boy “Get out there and do something”. I was trying to chill her out saying everything was under control, no damages is being done and it will be fine in one minute or less. She kept on bitching at her boy.

  24. bhizzle Says:

    Also, I really cannot remember other Phish festivals where there were other acts.

  25. Mr.Miner Says:

    Icculus- kind of joking. Just not much to say yet…..

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