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. Mr.Miner Says:

    ^there you go… can hear the crowd roar in the opening build when that bolt strikes!!!

  2. ColonelJoy Says:


    And God will help you, man….when the Christian Right takes power again!!…..bummer, ain’t it.

  3. SOAM Says:

    Just my opinion-which I figure may have some sympathetic ears here

    peace pot and microdot

  4. gho2it Says:

    Sweet interview with Mike from Bassplayer mag…

  5. Mr.Miner Says:

    @Col. Sand counts- that was one of the more innovative versions that aded an entire melodic concept to the song.

    Camden Tweezer was over 17 mins- not short

    Asheville Ghost def gets the nod

    Oceans>Drowned>Twist- count it.

    JB Hood. check

    JB Reba…yup

  6. notkuroda Says:

    I know I’m one of 13 people who don’t think the island run was the best ever(I personally prefer the 95 new years run, I wasn’t there either), but it’s pretty funny how riled up people get when I suggest this!
    I guess I’m just not a fan of “it goes without saying that xxxx is the best ever”. There’s always a flip side to that coin.

    It goes without saying that long jams do not equal good jams.

  7. Mr.Miner Says:

    the island run wasn’t about long jams, it was about great jams 😉

    (obv “best ever” differs b/w people- but everyone I know pretty much feels this way about the Isand Run)

  8. ColonelJoy Says:


    Camden Tweezer was more like 13 minutes…..don’t let the livephish minute mark fool you….

    And just respectfully disagree on your other selections. Some people are quick to annoint things as being “sick” or “epic”….I’ve done it….I’m not saying it is a character weakness:)

  9. butter Says:

    @SOAM i def feel you on your post

  10. albert walker Says:

    I would rather have been at the 94 new years run or the 95 than the
    Island Run

    but those are spread between 2 different cities so there I would agree with best 4 night stand at one venue

  11. albert walker Says:

    I did attend all 3 I just mentioned but like you said its all preference

  12. bearito Says:

    Look at those 1st set Island Run openers! Tube, Mike’s, Tweezer, Oh Kee! Those shows just ooze energy, and all around great band interplay. Wish I could have been there.

  13. GuitarPicker420! Says:

    @notkuroda “It goes without saying that long jams do not equal good jams.”

    So, so very true. I think that, unfortunately, too often a jam is graded on its length. I think you can pack some great stuff into a jam that is only 10 minutes long. That is what I think is so great about 3.0, they get to the point quickly. I never felt like I would be better off sitting on my ass (which happened A LOT in 2.0) because Trey was wasting time getting to the point. I feel like they are embracing more of a modal jazz idea in 3.0, in other words, state the theme, improvise around the theme, state the theme, end.

    I was thinking about this while watching the IT DVD since it gets so much love here, and I was watching the Chalkdust and found myself insanely bored, it just didn’t go anywhere interesting and then when it did finally come to a peak, Trey flubbed the outro and it just left me feeling meh. In contrast, check out the Chalkdust to open Bonnaroo, just wicked packed with energy, glowsticks flying, balls to the wall rock and roll.

  14. ColonelJoy Says:


    I would agree, who but plebians don’t, that the Island Run was the best 4-night stand….though night 4 isn’t so hot, IMO….

    But that was unique. The only other time they did a 4-night, non NYE rune was the 20th Anny run, and that was after the summer 03′ peak of 2.0 Phish.

    I don’t necessarily think Island Run was the “peak” of 1.0 Phish, just the peak of the Cow-Funk…melding into the space.

    Peak Phish is simply most everything between 95′ and 99′

  15. ColonelJoy Says:

    Jamz are like Cocks, the bigger the better.

    Bruno told me this….

    Seriously, it isn’t that long jamz are better always, but as Page pointed out, sometimes it takes 15 plus minutes to make it happen, and with this band, over their history, that is when the really good shit happens….over and over and over and over again.

  16. notkuroda Says:

    I like Mike’s line in that bassplayer article, kind of illustrates my point
    “Sometimes a slight tweak is more groundbreaking than ten minutes of craziness”
    @Miner, I’m well aware how revered those shows are. That’s why I listened to all 4 shows, all the way through, on a couple of occasions. I had to see what I was missing. Now the world don’t move to the beat of just one drum, what might be right for you may not be right for some.

  17. ColonelJoy Says:


    I think the IT Chalkdust is pretty sick, but I have heard boring long Chalkdusts……Hampton 04’….both the opening 20 min dust and 20 min Bathtub suck….

  18. ColonelJoy Says:


    The Army and Iraq would be munch more pleasant if I were permitted to burn one down at the end of the day….that much I know

  19. Mr.Miner Says:

    Camden Tweezer was more like 13 minutes…..don’t let the livephish minute mark fool you….

    ^^ what are you talking about? It’s 17:04. What does this have to do with Live Phish?

  20. Marshall Says:

    Re: discussion of drugs, I would guess that 90% of usage occurs amongst people ages 15 to 30, with the usage rate dropping off dramatically with people ages 30 and older. This has likely been true for the last 30 to 40 years since illicit drugs hit the mainstream. There are many reasons that this is the case, not the least of which is that many people simply grow tired of using and would rather live a “normal” life.

    Even the strongest proponents of legalization recognize that drugs have a debilitating effect on a lot of people.

    I’m not saying that they can’t lead to incredible experiences, but I think Phish would be a lot better off if it weren’t so closely associated with a following of drug users. Their music is simply better than and “above” that.

    There’s sufficient evidence from postings on this board that you don’t have to be high to truly enjoy a show.

    NOW, back to “PHISH” thoughts…

  21. Mr.Miner Says:

    Hampton 04′….both the opening 20 min dust and 20 min Bathtub suck….

    ^ i respectfully disagree, and thinnk this 1st set is greatly underrated

  22. ColonelJoy Says:


    At 13 the Tweezer just peters out….so I call it 13, as that is when it seems to end….but fighting over that is really undignified, so we should both stop!

  23. notkuroda Says:

    Wow, now not fluffing the island tour makes me a plebian! Nice big word
    @Miner, I totally agree about the Hampton 04 first set(ESPECIALLY chalkdust and gin). Second set was straight crap, but I loved the first

  24. Mr.Miner Says:

    “At 13 the Tweezer just peters out….so I call it 13, as that is when it seems to end…”

    ^^ i’m not arguing, I just don’t follow at all. That Tweezer does not peter out…it peaks with an original riff and winds down without returning to the structure….are we talking about the same jam?

  25. whole tour! Says:

    i know i’ve said it before, but i strongly feel knoxville was the best front to back powerhouse show of the run. and it was by far the easiest ticket to score.

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