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. ColonelJoy Says:

    Wishing that Phish not be associated with drugs is like wishing ZZ Top not be so frequently associated with lengthy facial hair….

  2. Mr.Miner Says:

    ^^ ahhh, just checked the track…I got you.
    There are some minutes of silence in there that get added on…


  3. ColonelJoy Says:

    Knox probably was best front-to-back so far….which is in tradition with this band, for those paying attention, and most of you are….

    Knox is the SLC 98′ so far…

  4. ColonelJoy Says:

    Thanks for verifying, Miner:)

  5. Mr.Miner Says:

    well. Knox was a blast start to finish, but none of the best jams of tour were in there

  6. ColonelJoy Says:


    the plebian reference was more an act of fluffing miner backwards, as is good to do now and again, than disrespect for an honest opinion. I did first two nights of Island run, and none of the 95′ NYE run….if I could do it over, I’d probably do 95’….as long as I could still see the 4-3-98 of course!!

  7. whole tour! Says:

    ”when one door is closed many more will open” robert nesta marley

  8. oneshowatatime Says:

    has anyone heard anything about the band remastering the SBDs from the first leg yet? anything at all?

    listening to hampton right now and i just don’t understand how they could go from THIS to the garbage they released from the first leg…

  9. ColonelJoy Says:

    Marley definately stole that from Trippy, late 19th Century English writers, but that’s all right with me….

  10. whole tour! Says:

    no huge jams, but huge presion playing. hit the spot for me.

  11. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    Regarding the subject of “long is not always better” I agree for the most part but have to throw this quote from the review of the 10-31-95 YEM on in there. It is just plain funny — and true (all mis-spellings, etc. from original):

    You’d be an Absolut Jackass not to get a copy of this version and hear
    it for yourself. I recall that some people who were at the show
    whined on the net that this version was too long.. I imagine they are
    the same sort of people who would leave during the Bozeman or Mud
    Island Tweezers, or yawn during the intense 12/29/94 David Bowie. May
    Icculus have mercy on their Bouncin’ and Sparklin’ souls… 😉

  12. ColonelJoy Says:


    I think, at this point, while I agree with your opinion of the download quality, the band/organization has more important things to do…

  13. ColonelJoy Says:


    That’s hillarious…

  14. ColonelJoy Says:

    10-31-95 YEM…I like to call it the Sodomy YEM…

  15. oneshowatatime Says:

    @Col. J – you may be right (which is a super disappointing possibility), i just hope one of those “more important things” the band is concerned with is working out those SBD kinks before they get to Red Rocks.

  16. Mr.Miner Says:


  17. SOAM Says:



    if you don’t like weed and boomers there is always CHRISTIAN ROCK


  18. KWL Says:

    many moons ago a good friend handed me a disc of the 10.31.95 show and said ‘listen to this YEM. It will change your life.’

    I probably listened to that YEM about 763 times that year.

  19. ColonelJoy Says:

    I’d be surprised if the download quality remained that bad. It did get better at the end of the leg, but it still wasn’t as good as 2.0 quality….which seemed to be a perfect balance of, okay it’s an MP3, and I’m willing to pay for it….so, short of album quality, but still what’d you’d expect from a quality SBD…

  20. Wax Banks Says:

    @Miner –

    Island run = best four night run in history….by far…I can’t believe people even debate the point. Its the closest thing to “objective” in Phish talk.

    If you’re talking consecutive nights, you’re right. If you mean consecutive shows, the run from 11/17/97 to 12/6/97 – fourteen shows contains at most two subpar outings, and the first six shows of that run (up through 11/26 in Hartford, one of Phish’s all-time towering second sets) are as strong as the Island Tour or stronger. The Denver show is pure batshittery; 11/19 has a strong-not-classic first set, but that second set will liquefy your American balls; all four sets from Hampton are canonical (through 11/21 I is maybe weak-ish?); 11/23 II is huge and the first set contains a great Stash and best-ever BEK; 11/26 II is, in the gross parlance of our times, retarded.

    Then there are Worcester shows! Jim! Wolfman’s Bro! The best-ever Funky Bitch! Stash > Free > Piper! And on the other side of that run is the top-50-sets-ever 12/2 II, the big Cleveland show, and the likely best Phish set of the 1990’s in Auburn Hills.

    The Island Tour is great, no question, but 11/17-11/23/97 soundly beats any run from 1998 (or 1999, or 2000). For variety, complexity, intensity, risk, and groundbreaking material, nothing in the Island Tour really compares. Don’t get me wrong, it’s the best stuff of 1998 in my opinion, but it’s less exploratory than celebratory. Great to be a part of – the two RI shows were some of the best times of that part of my life. But the music didn’t get as high up the mountain then.

  21. ColonelJoy Says:

    Can we agree that the 10-31-95 YEM is the best non-second set achievement at any Ween show? Okay, serious arguments for 98′ Wolfmans…

  22. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    I remember checking my watch when the lights went down for the third set 10-31-95 and then again at the end of that YEM. I really thought something must be wrong since it read that it was 45 minutes later than the last time I checked… An absolutely mind blowing version that simply never lets up!

  23. ColonelJoy Says:

    Looke at Wax drop in!!

  24. ColonelJoy Says:

    I’m submitting Wax’s posts for Library of Congress consideration….

  25. whole tour! Says:

    weed and boomers and phish rule! i’m with SOAM on this one.
    peanut butter got to have jelly.
    mmm guava jelly….

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