An Anthem of August

Red Rocks (J.Kravitz)

Red Rocks (J.Kravitz)

If one thing was for certain this past tour, when the band cranked up the intro to “Down With Disease,” we knew were were in for a creative jam session.  Each of the the song’s four appearances on the second leg of summer was unique, and all were highlights of their shows.  Always a band and crowd favorite, Phish made no bones about pushing the classic vehicle this summer.  Using “Disease’s” safe and upbeat textures to get the audience going and the band united, their real creativity usually came after the searing composed jam.  Much like “Drowned” and “Rock and Roll,” the band’s other frequent summer springboards, “Disease” allowed the band to settle into a fool-proof rock groove before stepping up and taking musical risks.  Bringing the song to all corners of the musical globe, “Disease” was one of August’s most versatile jams.

8.1.09 (G.Lucas)

Red Rocks - 8.1 (G.Lucas)

Beginning an the third night of Red Rocks, Phish segued out of a set-opening “Rock and Roll” into the first “Disease” of the run.  Centering it squarely in the second set, this piece of improv took center stage , providing the most adventurous excursion of the evening by leaps and bounds.  After Phish crushed the initial part of the song, they careened out of its structure into some aggressive rock patterns, whose layers were gradually peeled away, leaving an oddly-percussive groove.  Taking this arrival point on an exploratory path, the band entered into some new musical turf, guided by Page’s prominent organ leads and Trey’s note bending complimentary patterns.  Fishman, however, stood as the player of this piece, continually flowing with unique rhythms that defined the sound of the jam.

Shoreline - 8.5 (voopa)

Shoreline - 8.5 (J.Florek)

When the band landed in the Bay Area for a Wednesday night affair at Shoreline, “Disease” was again showcased in the second set with a colossal twenty-minute version.  The composed section of this go-round featured some inspiring “type-I” shredding by Big Red, setting up, arguably, the most outstanding version of the entire summer.  Trey took the lead out of Shoreline’s composed jam, offering some gnarled leads and hard rhythm chops while Page killed his clavinet.  Trey began to change the pattern of his chops, slicing and dicing the jam from all angles, on top of a sparse, yet cogent, pocket.  As Mike and Fish engaged in some eclectic interplay, the rhythmic structure of the jam became its most unique quality.

Shorline (voopa)

Shoreline (J.Florek)

After using his guitar percussively, Trey oozed out of his grooves with a series of darker leads and effects, coaxing the entire band into a spacier milieu.  Trey  explored this realm with organic melodies while Page remained glued to his clav as if it were a matter of life or death.  This segment evolved into an eerie, ambient groove that was pure, unadulterated improv.  Phish settled into collective “type-II” experimentation- something that became the norm for “Disease” during August.  The exploratory epic landed in some intricately crafted drone soundscapes that reached deep into the abyss before segueing somewhat abruptly into “Limb By Limb.” Listen here.


After playing such a huge version of “Disease” at Shoreline, Phish turned right around and surprisingly opened The Gorge with the same summer anthem.  This time using the song to fire up the crowd, “Disease” opened a show for only the tenth time in its life.  Keeping this rendition within the song’s confines, the energy that the band infused into the jam was overwhelming.  With Trey jumping up and down before the song even kicked in, the band’s enthusiasm seeped directly into the audience.  Dripping with adrenaline from start to finish, this jam set the tone for what would be an unforgettable weekend.

Hartford - 8.14 (D.Vann)

Hartford - 8.14 (D.Vann)

The fourth and final appearance of  “Disease” came as the opener of Hartford’s second set.  Kicking off a frame of non-stop improv that would culminate with a visit from “Icculus,” this version climbed far beyond the boundaries of the song, resulting in one of the summer’s most surreal musical passages.  Getting the set moving with its high-octane rock and roll, Mike led the piece from behind the scenes with a flow of unique, pulsing rhythms.  In this version, the band rode out the composed jam a bit longer before sculpting the music- first with slick grooves, then percussive patterns, eventually getting to a final couple minutes of pure transcendence.  Breaking down the music into a slower groove, the band- all off a sudden- was surfing a spiritual wave out of nowhere.  If you were to craft a mix with of best minutes from the tour, these final two certainly be included.  But the blissful music was suddenly lopped off by the much-discussed “Wilson”-induced abortion.

Each time we heard Mike’s bass-slapping reverb this summer, it was like revving up the engine for a ride.  Four times we hopped in, and four times we came hopped out with a huge smile.  A feel-good summertime vehicle, “Disease” also gave Phish the perfect platform to craft multi-part jams, drawing in the audience with high-speed rock en route to deeper psychedelia.  As we move from Summer to Fall, we will likely see more diverse jam vehicles, but if there is one thing we know for sure, “Disease” is here to stay.

Winged music note=====

Jams of the Day:

Rock and Roll > Disease > Free” 8.1 II


“Disease” is at the anchor of this set-opening sequence from Red Rock’s third night.

Down With Disease > Wilson” 8.14 II


The beginning chapter of a larger second set story.



10.25.1996 Hampton Coliseum < Torrent

10.25.1996 Hampton Coliseum < Megaupload

Hampton '09 - ( J.DiGiuseppe)

Hampton '09 - ( J.DiGiuseppe)

Here we have the second Hampton show of the band’s career.  This is the night that Trey proclaimed Hampton to be his favorite room to play, thus  beginning the Phishy mystique behind the room they inherited from The Grateful Dead.  Before long, however, The Coliseum would transform into The Mothership- one of the Phishiest rooms in the land.

I: Ha Ha Ha, Taste, Makisupa Policeman, Maze, Billy Breathes, Mound, Guelah Papyrus, I Didn’t Know, Stash, The Squirming Coil

II: Tube, Prince Caspian, Timber Ho, TMWSIY > Avenu Malkenu > TMWSIY, NICU, Free, Strange Design, Harry Hood, Cavern, The Star Spangled Banner*

E: Johnny B. Goode

*A capella.

Source: Unknown

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448 Responses to “An Anthem of August”

  1. whole tour! Says:

    “in a misty glade” sounds pretty damn floyd-meddleish to me!

    i hink the siket disc was the closest to phish floyding it so far. I’d love to see another all instrumental jam album.

  2. Mr.Miner Says:

    Siket was sick…wasn’t really traditional studio work obviously…

  3. whole tour! Says:

    i just couldn’t picture roger waters writing some of the newer phish songs. It wouldn’t bother me to never see another “bubblegum” pop feel good song for a while.

  4. Mr.Miner Says:

    I guess Ghost is closest they came to what I’m talking about…

  5. whole tour! Says:

    some darker tunes are always appreciated.
    They have a few like “20 years” and “faulty plan”…even “KDF” has a harder edge to it.

  6. Mr.Miner Says:

    it can be Phish music, but yeah- Joy is an attempt at pop rock rather than something bigger….Number Line is already on the radio….

  7. Robear Says:

    hey bk, life’s pretty good, thanks!

    My daughter started ‘4th grade band’ today and picked the Sax as her instrument. Let’s get her into some jazz, engaging, not over her head. She’d enjoy ensemble’s with lyric’s, too. Any suggestions?

  8. sumodie Says:

    @freshtracks: I was booked for Indio before leg 2 started -wouldn’t miss a left coast phish fest for the world (or in any other locale). Have my Miami hotel on reserve too (thus making any skiing anywhere for me this season doubtful).

    As for Mike’s oblique fall/winter tour comment, I think the tour is on, though it won’t be any longer than what’s been posted around here. There was a credible sounding comment on the green board last week saying the band might be scaling back the number of shows following Indio, but who knows what that really means.

    I’m guessing the Fall/NYE tour announcement comes the day Joy releases, or just thereafter. Patience is hard…

  9. whole tour! Says:

    the floyd thing for me is that i can listen to “echoes” or “shine on” and be taken to another place.

    “TTE” tries, almost too hard, to capture that essence.
    They need a straight up dark, balls to the walls, space epic.

  10. halcyon Says:

    Throughout the years I have always wondered if they will ever revisit a ‘concept’ album (Rift, Billy Breathes), or even produce an album that is more experimental (sounds, structures) as opposed to capturing a live feel.

    Not that I am against a live sound 😉

  11. halcyon Says:

    # line is all over the radio….which is cool.

    When are they going to get angry on an album.

  12. Mr.Miner Says:

    ^ fact. grasping…..desperately almost….

    Indio may be stand alone at this point. and I’m prety sure those Nov/Dec dates are legit.

  13. Mr.Miner Says:

    yeah, i mean once, go deep on an album…make a top 100 of all time type scene….or top 300…Trey says they’ve yet to make their best album, and I can’t believe he thinks its Joy

  14. joe Says:

    mr. miner,

    that’s my one complaint about joy. It’s like it’s made for adult contemporary radio (or whatever it’s called), which is not really their demographic and never has been but it’s what all the ‘singles’ (since heavy things?) seemed geared towards. I think that’s more Trey(ie. Shine) than anything, Mike’s solo is more experimental it seems like. I’d love to hear alot more studio trickery ala the opening minute of Light. Pretty sure the fan base that’s buying their albums would allow them to indulge in a little more of that type of thing.

  15. whole tour! Says:

    numberline is just an all around great song. Really heartfelt. I felt a connection to it. Then the jam really now puts the icing on the cake.

  16. Mr.Miner Says:

    agreed joe- adult contemporary Phish….lol I agree.

  17. whole tour! Says:

    like a puzzle where all the pieces fit

  18. Mr.Miner Says:

    I felt Ghost was an attempt and I felt Undermind was also an attempt….Billy Breathes as well, but Ghost got the closest to what I am thinking of as a musical concept album….

  19. Mr.Miner Says:

    musically thematic vs. subject/lyrical thematic

  20. joe Says:

    the connection was the worst adult contemporary attempt besides Shine (although I kind of dug the live connection version this summer)

  21. Mr.Miner Says:

    ^ me too 🙂

  22. whole tour! Says:

    what about “discern”? that song had adult contempory all over it

  23. Mr.Miner Says:

    I like discern…the live versions were sick…abstract jam.

  24. whole tour! Says:

    only time i ever saw an entire lawn sit down at a show was during “discern.” Since i ner saw “TTE” live this summer is that the same thing that happens during that tune? the mass bathroom migrations are kinda new.

  25. sumodie Says:

    “Siket was sick…wasn’t really traditional studio work obviously…”

    I love that album -and yes, I’d be all for the band putting out something ‘experimental’ again. Our chances are good to great if 3.0 is sustainable….

    TTE is nothing like Floyd, at all, imho. And I’m a TTE fan (well, more like a hopeful believer that something will click and make it work better in concert).

    TTE would work way better on a new Phish concept album (not Joy) of prog rock/Floyd/Siket disc style music. Of course, the other tracks would arguably have to be better than TTE (and I love listening to the studio version of TTE on my headphones).

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