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”

  1. Al Says:

    What a great show CINCI, the Crown 11/14/98 is! Just listening to that great Tweezer. Trey blows off the roof there. The YEM is super funky as well. Trey records his rhythm guitar work with his pedal and plays a lead solo on it, as if there were two guitarists. That’s so cool. got a 320 kbs version. Awesome recording.

  2. nonoyolker Says:

    @ Type III – “I wasn’t overly impressed by the C&P from Alpine.” I agree man. I was anxious to hear that all tour and it just sounded flat. The composed section seemed a little slower than usual versions and they just kind of ambled through the jam. Haven’t listened to it in a few weeks but will give it another shot.

    An inadvertent reference to 11.19.96 from the mislabeled (and sick!) Omaha show, does bring up the fire segment of Bathtub -> Vibration -> YEM (!!!) from the Kansas City. That segment is nasty and the yem is equipt with a “groove is in the heart” jam that is disgusting. The Bowie from that show is hot too if i remember correctly.

  3. Al Says:

    ^agree on the C&P from Alpine. It’s OK but they’ve done better…

  4. GuitarPicker420! Says:

    OT – I saw Willie Nelson, John Mellencamp, and Bob Dylan on Wednesday night. If you are at all into those guys, you should definitely check the tour out. I hadn’t seen Mellencamp in 12 years and he was really great. I had forgotten how many great songs he had written. Dylan was Dylan, if you like him, you would have liked the show. Willie did his schtick and, of course, has written some timeless classics too. Highlights were Authority Song (which just rocks live), Highway 61, Whiskey for my Men, and a really rocked out Like A Rolling Stone.

  5. Mitch Says:

    IT soundcheck is awesome. I listened to it the other day and enjoyed it again. I remember listening to it live on bunny radio while in line to get into the fest.

  6. nonoyolker Says:

    IT soundcheck is really dope. They get into a nice dark, but relaxed jam. I especially like the part between 12-15 min (i think, been a while). They used that part as the menu music for the IT dvd. I also listened to it on the bunny in the countless hrs waiting to get into Loring. Good stuff.

  7. Frankie Says:

    I remember liking the Coventry soundcheck also while listening to it upon recommendation… is that the one when Danny Clinch sits in on harmonica for a song or two? Been awhile since i listened to that one…

    Thanks for all the recommendations guys! So much stuff to pick out from the archives and it’s great to share our little gold nuggets from over the years… i know it’ll take me a long time to go through all the ones i didn’t know about but i’ll write them down and pick one up from time to time… Thanks a lot!

    Next stop: 11.23.97

  8. Mitch Says:

    we took the road right in the middle, driving back roads thinking it couldnt hurt. we waited about 1.5-2 hours total in line. my buddy is like miner’s friend. hes a navigational pro. back in the day of printing off the local map from PT and using our atlas. no such thing as garmin.

  9. Mitch Says:

    he was a pizza delivery guy in college tho so it only makes sense that hes now a pro at finding the best back way.

  10. tela'smuff Says:

    For those that thought the C&P was just OK, just wondering if you were at the show? Becasue while I would agree that if you were to compare it to other versions it may not hold up as far as improv goes, it was probably the most rockin’, energetic version I’ve seen (out of 5). Just being there, the energy was off the charts which made it pretty special for me. Just the whole flow of that set felt like it used to, as far as being one big collective piece of music. The set had a theme, or it had IT, as we like to say. For me, it was the only set that truly had the entire package.

    While DC was magical, and the music was very good, the elements are what made that show as special as it was.

    AND, can someone give that Back On The Train some love from the first set Alpine II????? Really, go back and listen. It was amazing.

  11. nonoyolker Says:

    @ Mitch, nice work man. Good to have a big game navigator in the whip to get you through the back roads. I was in traffic for like 24 hrs maybe? Definitely lost my mind a couple of times in that line. The next year was way worse, even though i crossed into Canada and came at it Canuck-wise. 36 hrs?

  12. punkmug Says:

    @tela’smuff. YES! Back on the Train was/is awesome. I think the Wolfman’s from Alpine was a standout version from the early summer leg.

  13. R1 Says:

    @Matso – I fucking LOVE the IT Soundcheck. Really, some of my favorite Phish out there.

  14. nonoyolker Says:

    @ tela’s v – wasn’t there, just heard the sbds afterwards. Just going based on what i heard on tape. I’m sure it must’ve been the shit experientially live. I think i tried to listen objectively and not compare to other versions, but who knows if that actually happened. Like i said, i’ll give it another spin for sure. I was just not that impressed with the first couple listens and was looking forward to hearing it in ’09.

  15. Mitch Says:

    our coventry backroad trip (going again by the map they give the locals to navigate) got us in after about 6 or 7 hours which for that fest wasnt that bad.

  16. Kaveh Says:

    @ Minor:

    Great picks for the Midwest run. I agree that the Deer Creek show was a monster, start to finish, but the second set was a great one indeed. All your points spot on. For Alpine, I would give the Maze and The Lizards a tip of the hat too. (I’m a Maze junky. Anytime, anyplace. Straight rock n roll.) The Piper is great. I loved it live and I love it more listening to it. Great jam, very rhythmic. I would also add, from the much, much too overly criticized St. Louis show, that there is a great Rift, Horn and Possum, and McGrupp.

  17. Frankie Says:

    ahahaha! Getting lost in Cabano and Edmunston…

    Going to the what concert hey? ahahaha!

  18. nonoyolker Says:

    @ Mitch – I want in your car for Indio

  19. jay Says:

    @Al, If you are comparing Gins today I must reiterate my suggestion from yesterday – 06-28-2000 (Holmdel). Ranks up there in favorites for sure. Quintessential Gin.

  20. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    I’m with nono here. I wasn’t there (which I mentioned) but it just didn’t grab me on tape. I wasn’t trying to debase what it must have been like live and was not comparing to other versions, just commenting on how the outro jam didn’t hold me or take me anywhere. I felt like it kind of petered out and then they had to regroup to get it going in Disease.

    I am a huge TH fan and so any time they play C&P, Cities, etc. I’m psyched. This one didn’t do it for me, that’s all.

  21. nonoyolker Says:

    @ Frankie – Haha, yeah, i’d like to say the Canadian venture was premeditated, but sadly, no… Great country up there though. A real ‘bute Clarke.

  22. SJC Says:

    Bunny radio. Ah, the memories. BU. BU. BU. NNY.

  23. Frankie Says:

    6.28.00 Gin! Yes! Once again!

  24. TheDropper Says:

    Deer Creek and Alpine were my first shows in 3.0. WOW!

    I was on the lawn, and we just put on our parkas and walked down to the front as the lawn cleared. Met some folks from Hotlanta, Good Times. I was so pumped with the entire second set. It Raged. Miner is right, goosebumps. By the way, where did you score that pic? I have pulled a bunch off of videos that were posted. Anyway, what a great show. Plenty of Memory Burn from that night.

    And yes, the last nigt at Alpine was insane. That place went CRAZY when they busted Crosseyed. All I could think of during the Piper was how SPAC ’04 and Miners review from said show. The fact I got Oceans and the Type 2 Piper.

    Great 3 night run. 3 weeks till the next one!

  25. Mitch Says:

    nonoyolker, my buddy moved to san diego a couple years ago so im def trying to get in his car. we have done the same thing to bonnaroo taking back roads to get back on the interstate right where the let you in going northbound. hes a pro for sure. always has a plan and works well in the clutch.

    team mango representing. look for our shirts, i’m sure we will make one covered in mangos and dates.

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