Moments In a Box: The Midwest

6.19.09 (D.Vann)

6.19.09 Deer Creek (D.Vann)

Finishing up our run through tour this week, today we will look at some of the most transcendent moments of Phish’s final June leg.  Having built improvisational momentum over the previous weeks, the band certainly kicked it up a notch for their final four nights.  Contained within this weekend were some of the most exploratory jaunts of the tour, foreshadowing what awaits come August and beyond.  Though hard to select just a few, here are some moments in time that no one will dispute.


“Oceans > Drowned > Twist” Deer Creek, 6.19 II

Take your pick, because this entire segment of music is pure money.  Following an unprecedented hour-long rain delay before the second set, sparked by a monsoon and copious lightning you might see in National Geographic, the house lights finally went dark.  Just as promised, they started set two at 11pm, and given the torrential circumstances, we all knew we were in for something special.

6.19.09 Deer Creek (D.Vann)

6.19.09 (D.Vann)

Playing off the soaking wet surroundings, the band took things out with the welcomed heavy drop into “A Song I Heard the Ocean Sing.”  Exactly five years to the day that the band unveiled their SPAC epic, they used it to launch the best set of June.  After breaking out the template in Knoxville, we knew that the song was back in the mix, and we would eventually get that next big version we had so eagerly awaited.  And on the five year anniversary of its definitive excursion, we had waited long enough.

6.19 (D.Vann)

6.19 (D.Vann)

Taking the song beyond its guitar-led jam and into an ambient wonderland of percussive rhythm and psychedelic sorcery, Phish delivered.  Given its context, the highly-anticipated jam couldn’t have been delivered at a more powerful time.  As the band worked through a spectrum of deep mystic textures, Trey sprinkled some of his magic atop, guiding our way through the forest beautifully.  As they wound down their improv to a piano solo, Page transformed the piece with a seamless transition into “Drowned.”  Moving from “Oceans” to “Drowned,” Phish was definitely toying with their setlist while annihilating the jams that stemmed from each song.  The Who cover similarly transcended its structure into a dirtier jam that wound its way to some high speed funk chops.  Combining two stylistically different pieces, Phish- inspired by the weather- took the crowd by storm.

Potentially a bit prematurely, Trey came in with the opening chords of “Twist”- a third creative jam strung together to begin the set.  With some of the tightest playing of this opening triumvirate, “Twist” was an ideal and familiar landing point for this segment of madness.  Given the context of the band’s contained playing all tour, this “moment” was incredibly encouraging.




“Tweezer Reprise” Deer Creek, 6.19 E

!!!!! - 6.19 Deer Creek

!!!!! - 6.19 Deer Creek

Following the band’s most creative and exploratory new-school set, and sheltered from the insane weather slamming the amphitheare, Phish let loose.  With lightning bolts framing the stage- and one particularly awing strike on the right side of the pavilion during the song’s initial build- everyone’s heads were on the verge of explosion.  There are musical moments, and then there are experiential moments of unbridled energy, passion, and adrenaline; those when life simply can not feel any better or more exalting.  This was one of those times. Everyone– from Trey marching like a madman on stage, to the last soaking fan on the lawn- was so alive at this moment, energy coursing through our collective existence, as mother nature and Phish converged in a spectacle like none other.  Sure there have been rainstorms at shows, but this was different.   This was 2009; this was Deer Creek; and Phish had just played the greatest set since their return.  They weren’t playing “Taste” when lightning struck close by (a la Raleigh ’97), they were playing freakin’ “Reprise” in a complete deluge!  Sometimes, life just doesn’t doesn’t get any better, and when you saw the band framed by lightening bolts, peaking the show- well, I get goosebumps just thinking of it.




“Piper” Alpine Valley, 6.21 II

6.21 Alpine (D.Vann)

6.21 Alpine (D.Vann)

After blasting off the last set of tour with the unexpected and ambient-laced highlight of “Crosseyed > Disease, Phish landed in a soaring version of “Bug” to wrap up their initial segment.  But as the ending of the song was carried out, Phish wasn’t about to slow down, slipping into “Piper.”  While the other two “Pipers” on tour (JB, and Star Lake) were exploratory and adventurous, they weren’t necessarily the most cohesive pieces of improv.  This would be different.

6.21 (D.Vann)

6.21 (D.Vann)

Cannonballing into the jam, the band wasted no time hitting the gas. Immediately they locked into some full-on, take-no-prisoners, type playing.  After the earlier adventures of the set, the band was warmed up and navigating the music as one entity; one of those times when they seem like a four-headed monster.  Trey and Page engaged in some fast-paced interplay, while Fish sat into a series of breakbeats that gave the music an urgent, sprinting feel.  Stopping, starting, and cutting on a dime, Phish ran though this jam like Barry Sanders effortlessly evading tacklers.  Completely in tune with each other, the band nailed one of June’s tightest pieces of improv.

It felt like Phish hit a stride in this “Piper,” powerfully uniting their musical ideas, taking risks and succeeding; a process that wasn’t omni-present on tour.  This was an instance where the music took on a life of its own; the music was playing them.  Ridiculously dense, filled with copious musical thoughts, this “Piper” was an encouraging piece of psychedelia as the tour wound down.  Getting exploratory without losing their cohesion is a mark of success in Phish’s current progression of their craft.  Heading into leg two, Deer Creek and this Alpine show upped the ante of what’s to come.  But looking back, this “Piper” is right up there with any jam of June.





11.16.1996 Civic Center, Omaha, NE < TORRENT

11.16.1996 Civic Center, Omaha, NE < SENDSPACE

phish-kiel-center-96This download comes as a result of much reader discussion.  Lauded for its otherworldly “Hood” which saw Trey hold one note for almost three minutes straight, this show was both unique and enthralling.  Boasting an odd setlist with even more peculiar execution, Phish crafted a wild ride on this night in Nebraska.  See the “Hood” video below!

I: Poor Heart, Down With Disease, Guyute, Gumbo, Rift, Free, The Old Home Place, David Bowie, Lawn Boy, Sparkle, Frankenstein

II: La Grange, Runaway Jim > Kung* > Catapult, Axilla > Harry Hood, Suzie Greenberg, Amazing Grace

E: We’re an American Band^

*w/ Vibration of Life


Source: Unknown

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245 Responses to “Moments In a Box: The Midwest”

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  1. freshtracks420 Says:

    So…I’ve sort of been out of the loop for the past few days, but was told by a friend earlier today of the possibility that the Halloween fest might possibly be in Arizona now?!? Is there anything to this that anyone knows of? I saw a brief mention of something to that effect on this thread several days ago, but didn’t think much of it because it has seemed like Indio was definitely going to be the place. Anyone got the 411 on this for me…sorry if I’m behind…

  2. judd Says:

    Omaha *11/16/96* was an instant classic for me. I was blown away at this show and still hold it with the hightest regard as one of my overall favorites.
    I was upper side stage behind fishman, and have memories of the energy that swirled around the arena in a tug-of-war between the crowd and the band. the band was stoking the fire over and over throughout the second set and the crowd would roar and cheer, as if they were going to overcome the stage at this wild General Admission show.
    what an amazing night.

  3. Selector J Says:

    @freshtracks: The going scuttlebutt is that the contracts for Indio are not finalized but if everything goes according to plan that is where it’ll be. Logically, they would have a back up (or two) if the Indio thing falls through but I have yet to hear anything from anyone with a proven track record about where those back ups are.

    Pulling an all-nighter on my Central America geology paper with the help of 4/2/98 (thanks to previous day’s comment about the epic 1st set Stash). Omaha ’96 on deck!

  4. Dbone Says:

    @Judd – couldn’t agree more. an often overlooked show that was quintessential Phish in so many ways. Awesome exploratory jams and grooves, eclectic but cohesive setlist, and downright wackiness/nastiness throughout.
    Funny that minor says the “crafted a wild ride” because I remember the wild ride from CO to Nebraska along route 80 through snowstorms where the side of the interstate was literally littered with jackknifed and overturned trucks. Crazy stuff.

    Completely unrelated, but yesterday evening I came as close to having a Phish experience as I ever have outside a concert. I was jogging on a path through this meadow with the Theme from Jones Beach(?) on the ipod. In front of me was bright sunshine and from behind me a rainstorm was moving in. As the Theme jam came to its final peak, I came to the top of a small hill – full on sunshine and an absolute downpour. I look to my right and a huge double rainbow appears which seems to end about 200 meters away. Sorry for going off on a tangent, but it was just one of those moments (in a box).

  5. freshtracks420 Says:

    @ selector J: Thanks for the update and good luck on that paper…although at the risk of sounding like your mother….procrastinating on “Phish Thoughts” isn’t gonna get that paper done any quicker young man! Just giving you a hard time…if I had to write a paper right now, I would definitely be trying to do something else too! BTW…was at the 4/2/98 show…don’t just stop with the “Stash”…set 2 of this one is quite tasty…definitely a highlight of what, at times, seemed like a sort of sloppy Island Tour, IMO.

  6. Selector J Says:

    Fuggin Aye. That Hood video is a mainline shot of dopamine! Lord only knows what Trey was doing while holding that note. At first I thought he was playing with the feedback but then he just appears to be rocking out like he was in the front row (rather than rocking out like the guy onstage with a guitar in his hand). Awesome.

  7. Selector J Says:

    Okay back to work… freshtracks is right, this paper refuses to write itself…

  8. Al Says:

    Omaha – yeah, nice show. Well, 1996 had its gems, even the Fall Tour! Still recommend set II from Pittsburg to everyone!

    If anybody had a hard time finding the No-Brainer Chalkdust Torture (7/25/97) from my “Al’s Phavorites” CD at > it is misprinted as “Taste” on the 7/25/97 download sheet there. So just download the Taste from that Dallas show and you’ll have the greatest Chalkdust ever.

  9. Matso Says:

    Good morning.

    Fur Al (Germany’s undisputed no.1 Phishhead), off the top of my head and to maybe fit on an 80min disc:

    1. Yamar, 8.2.03 (17:15)
    2. AC/DC Bag, 12.30.97 (25:39)
    3. Harry Hood, 12.17.95 (~15min)
    4. Tweezer -> Have Mercy, 7.17.99 (~25min)

    Can’t wait to hear this show and see this vid. All blocked at work.

  10. Al Says:

    Danke Matso 😉
    I have to check out those last two songs on your CD! The first two are on my top-list as well. I was at IT and stood about 10 rows in front of Trey, when he played that EPIC Yamar. I think only the Albany fall tour 97 Yamar gets close. I think this IT Yamar is the winner. The MSG 97 Bag is my number 2, close behind the Boise 99. Your Hood choice must be Lake Placid and Tweezer>Mercy Oswego. Hmm, I’ll check it. By the way, the Jim from Oswego is about 30 min. I think. Good stuff…

  11. Matso Says:

    Yes, but the Oswego Jim never really coheres properly. I think the boys might have been indulging a bit that weekend which led to some energetic but not particularly focused playing. For extended forays into Jim, I prefer the 7.2.95 Sugarbush monster with that super sweet segue into Makisupa, the 8.11.98 Starlake (which is also an odd one, but very interesting) and of course 11.29.97.

  12. Al Says:

    Matso, just finished listening to your Oswego Tweezer and the Placid Hood. I like that Tweezer a lot, but I just fell in love with that Hood. Really beautiful!! They played those Hoods really fast back in 95. Another great one is of course the 12/30/95 Hood from MSG. But your choice just jumped out of nowhere into my top-5, competing with the 11/22/97 Hood. Tough fight that will be…

    A sleeper Jim is the Landover 12/28/97 (gets quite funky), as far as I can remember. I also like the Raleigh 7/22/97 very much. The Worcester 97 Jim is still unrivalled. The Great Went Hood and the Darien Lake 8/14/97 come to my mind as well, just as the strange “my soul’ish” Hood from 12/30/97 MSG.

    By the way, a really nice and short Tweezer, but incredibly rocking and well played by Trey is the Milan 2/20/97 Tweezer. You can download the SBD of that show on the link & as well I think.

    Yesterday I listened to a nice and beautiful Bowie SBD from 3/18/97 Ben & Jerrys show. Also complete SBD on the spreadsheet link.

  13. Al Says:

    Bathtub Gins:
    1. Riverport 7/29/98
    2. Bonner Springs 6/30/99
    3. Lexington 11/7/96
    4. Great Went 97

  14. Matso Says:

    Both that Tweezer and Hood are on my favourites list because I happened to be there and had very significant experiences at both of them.

    Trey’s delicate soloing at the outset of the Hood jam is just so beautiful (it’s like a children’s melody) and it all came right after a deep Free->2001. In that little arena in the mountains and snow, it was heaven.

    I’ve commented on the Tweez->Have Mercy before, but suffice to say, that Have Mercy couldn’t have meant more to me at the time.

  15. Al Says:

    Oh man, Runaway Jim from Landover 12/28/97 kicks ass!!! Just checked my recommendation… is even better than I remembered. Wow!! Shares #1 with Worcester, cause they are different. Landover, the most underrated show out there. Hot Julius, groovy Split open, and the second set is mindblowing. The Ghost in the machine. A psychadelic Scent of a Mule, can you believe that…

  16. hairy pood Says:

    I’m So pumped for shoeline>goege. ASIHTOS>waves>twist is hot on tape, wish i coulda made it to my bday show… off to country fair tomorrow, see ya’ll at shpreline! orr haowehver itts spellt

  17. Leo Weaver Says:

    @Al, you should add 11/23/97 Gin to the list…give yourself about 30 minutes though…it’s quite a journey into the depths and back…and I suggest continuing on thru that 2nd set…

  18. Al Says:

    ^Leo – I’ve had that one in mind, too. But I can’t remember it exactly. But now I will listen to it.

  19. Matso Says:

    I haven’t listened to the 11/23/97 Gin in a long, long time. The tape I had was not fantastic (DAUD3 at least). I think Miner posted this show a while back so I will need to get it again. But as Leo Weaver (related to Bob?) points out, it’s a journey into the depths.

    Btw, what do people think of the IT Soundcheck? I listened to the first half again last night and really enjoyed it. There’s a really relaxed feeling to their playing, but tight too.

  20. tela'smuff Says:

    Piper from Alpine was the best piece of Music Phish played the whole tour as far as band improvisation goes. I’ve been screaming it since the show ended.

    I actually thought the second set of Alpine night two was the best set they played all tour. Every song was played with inspiration and focus. It is a top version of Bug for me, and one of the better, if not most heartfelt, version of Velvet Sea I’ve seen. Just a fantastic set.

  21. Leo Weaver Says:

    @Matso…not related, but I met a Bob Weaver once…kept insisting that I call him Henrietta or something…wore these crazy ass goggles and kept talking about a vacuum.

    @tela…I’ve been thinking the same thing re: AV2…it’s been a very tough call between it and DC. I do think the Piper is one of my top 2-3 of the tour…and I’m not a big piper guy…do love me some good piper-launched jams though.

  22. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    gotta say, while I wasn’t there and have only heard the AUDs, I wasn’t overly impressed by the C&P from Alpine. I love that tune but they seemed to lose their way towards the outro before Mike just decided to take over and drive it into Disease. I might need another listen to reassess that one…

  23. notkuroda Says:

    glad to see Omaha up again! The thing that gets me about the hood is how insane the rest of the band goes while trey holds that note for 2-3 minutes. I love Hood, I’m not exactly sure it’s my favorite but it’s definitely one of the most unique I ever saw.

    Also, glad you put a picture of that lightning up. I tell people about the lightning storm, but no one really gets how spectacular it was. The show itself was unbelievable, but the energy of the audience was unmatched. I mean how many phish shows have you been able to go back to your car and get wasted during set break?!?!?Deer Creek was the best Phish experience I’ve had since 96(which isn’t looking to start a debate, it was just MY experience was perfect, and I didn’t see Phish that much between 98-coventry)

  24. Al Says:

    DC, Camden, Knoxville, Asheville and AV2 (set II) are incredible!

    At the end of DwD at Alpine Set II, the band plays a mellow bluesy segment that sounds like the DEAD sounded on their 2009 tour, I swear! It’s when Trey switches off the distortion and plays quite clean.

  25. Mitch Says:

    A woman I work with booked her flight from NYC to LAX for only 130. She’s friends with some phishy people and said to book them now while they are cheap. I’m gonna get mine this weekend. All signs point to So-Cal.

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