Memories of a Past Era

9.30.00 Las vegas (M.Mitchell)

9.30.00 Las Vegas (M.Mitchell)

On September 30, 2000, nine years ago today, Phish played Las Vegas on Trey’s birthday while sitting on the brink of extinction. Sure, they were proclaiming a “hiatus,” but who knew what would actually transpire. The band had finally run out of gas. Throughout Fall 2000, there were still moments of brilliance (see “Bathtub Gin” from the previous night), but they were fewer and further between. Improvisation remained adhered to song structure, and by the time the band reached the west coast, there were several nights, in retrospect, that Phish was simply going through the motions.

2000-09-30moIt’s an interesting time to reflect upon, because as I was going to every show – still having a blast nightly –  the musical stagnation wasn’t as apparent as it became years later listening back.  One might think the opposite; if I’d seen shows for years, wouldn’t the changes be more apparent? Well, not really. Busy living each and every Phish moment as if it was my last, I have nothing but fond memories of that last tour. But that final west coast run after Vegas certainly felt different. Defined by a bittersweet helplessness, we went to those last four, but this night in Vegas was the last show that carried the sense of still being on tour without the end yet in sight. There was still a show in Phoenix and a four-night run up the coast, but needless to say, emotions ran deep as the lights dropped on the last indoor Phish show.

Interestingly, I went back to listen to what has always been the musical highlight of the evening for me – “Twist > Sand” – only to discover that my memory was far brighter than the actual music. I hadn’t listened to it in years, though I certainly had heard it plenty of times. But juxtaposed with today’s Phish that I’ve been cranking lately, this time through, the band sounded pretty lazy; the period of decline had set in.

9.30.00 (D.Clinch)

9.30.00 (D.Clinch)

While much attention has been given to this Vegas evening due to Trey’s birthday and the copious bustouts, I’ve always found its only improvisational merit buried deep in the second set. After the appearances of “Walfredo” (244 shows), “Esther” (142 shows), and “Forbin’s > Mockingbird” (144 shows), but before “A Day in the Life” (166 shows) and “Emotional Rescue” (151 shows), Phish sank into a chunk of improv for the only time in the second set, combining “Twist” and “Sand.” After the “Forbin’s > Mockingbird” narration, referencing the band’s upcoming break, the musical highlight of the show unfolded – though on this particular night, that wasn’t saying all too much.


Live In Vegas DVD

Introduced by Mike’s bass lines, the opening of “Twist” subtly emanated from beneath the boisterous arena crowd.  As the jam gets underway, the band enters some pretty standard Santana-esque “Twist” grooves, with Trey flowing particularly well. Remaining anchored to the template of “Twist,” the band creates a minimalist backing that Trey and Page toy over collectively. Before they approach anywhere significant, the lyrical reprise returns, ending what could have been. But when the song ends, the band sustains a drone soundscape that Fish cuts through with the opening beats of “Sand.”

Adapting a laid back vibe throughout its composition, the rhythmic juggernaut seemed to be saving its wrath for the jam. But launching into a relaxed groove with Trey starting out on keys, maybe there would be no wrath at all. The band layers textures and effects instead of offering any melodic leads, creating a spaced-out vibe to the improv. Mike and Fish drive the jam behind the sonic layers before Trey even picks up his Languedoc.

9.30.00 Vegas (S.Phly)

9.30.00 Vegas (S.Phly)

Hitting some heavily altered notes, Trey uses his guitar to add another layer of sound rather than a distinct pattern. Without ever building the jam vertically, Phish explores spacier realms in a song usually reserved for ballistic exploration.  I can dig on this version, but I can certainly understand those who can’t. As I said, it’s an interesting time to look back on.

For some reason that I am still trying to figure out, this show became Phish’s first full-show DVD release, showcasing the band at one of the very few downtimes in their career. This show always seemed like an odd choice, somehow over-hyped, especially since the night before – despite the Kid Rock fiasco – was far more musically engaging. Some things I’ll never understand. Nonetheless, make your own decision on this Vegas 2000 “Twist > Sand” by clicking play below.


Winged music note====

Jam of the Day:

Mike’s > Keyboard Cavalry > Weekapaug” 9.30.95 II


Fourteen years ago today, Phish started a small tradition of dropping large Shoreline “Mike’s Grooves.” (The tracking is weird on this, and “Mike’s” actually goes four minutes into the second track.)



8.12.98 Vernon Downs, Vernon, NY < Torrent

8.12.98 Vernon Downs, Vernon, NY < Megaupload

1998-08-12moAnother Phish tradition is to play a massive show right before a festival, causing many a fan prioritizing a good camping spot to miss the throw down.  In ’96 it was the vastly underrated Hershey show, in ’97 it was Darien’s Bozo-laced adventure, and in ’98 it was this show at Vernon Downs. The last show before Lemonwheel, Phish threw down the a two-set effort that featured more than a few highlights.  The “Ramble On > Slave” is a must hear, while the band kills the entire second set.  Prepare to get bassed with these chunky FOBs!

I: La Grange, Makisupa Policeman, Funky Bitch, Possum, Roggae, Character Zero, Ramble On > Slave to the Traffic Light

II: Mike’s Song  > Simple > Rift, Loving Cup, Sleeping Monkey, Weekapaug Groove, The Squirming Coil

E: Burning Down the House*, You Enjoy Myself


Source: (FOB/BTP) Schoeps CMC6/MK41 > Sonosax SX-M2 > DA-P1

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339 Responses to “Memories of a Past Era”

  1. Mr. Completely Says:

    RAR files: 7zip for windows, free, unzips everything etc
    stuffit expanded for mac, also free

  2. Ocelot42 Says:


  3. Little Buddy Says:

    @ Lycan – Did you see that Thom Yorke is forming a band with Flea and Nigel Godrich? Might be interesting…

  4. Mr. Completely Says:

    once you have installed it you just right click on a rar file and you’ll get a 7zip menu, choose one of the Extract options and you’re good

    great freeware program

  5. pence Says:

    you need to D/L Winrar to “unzip” a .rar file. once you D/L the software its pretty straight forward where you pick the file you want the files to extact to. Need this—>

  6. bl68300 Says:

    thanks Mr. C!

  7. pence Says:

    ^or that

  8. Jay Says:

    try using 7zip on those rar files

  9. bl68300 Says:

    well thats a nifty tool!

  10. GuitarPicker420! Says:

    To the guy who said there weren’t enough good songs on London Calling, I think you need to listen again. Rudy Can’t Fail is freaking phenomenal, Jimmy Jazz is bumping, Lost in a Supermarket. I saw a great little band in Indy, the Born Again Floozies, do a great cover of Death or Glory. Of course, Wrong ’em Boyo (which is a reworking of Stagger Lee), Guns of Brixton, Spanish Bombs, and then topped off with Train in Vain. It is a great, great album with lots of great songs.

    As far as Radiohead is concerned, I don’t think they are going to do an album that has so few dance numbers on it. The songs are clearly well crafted, but they just don’t translate well into an all night dance-fest, which is what they generally go for, even if there are one or two slow numbers. Just not enough of a beat for them to cover the whole album. Again, just my 2 cents. I do like the album, just don’t think it works as a concert. Its not just them performing the songs, they are throwing a concert and in general Phish shows involve people boogying and whatever they pick is going to have that in mind.

  11. Jay Says:

    the EW comments are hilarious

  12. wvbrdr Says:

    @ bearito, sorry but I don’t have a download link.

  13. Lycanthropist Says:

    @ Little Buddy –

    No I hadn’t heard that. It would be interesting indeed… I guess Nigel would be playing drums?

    Unfortunately it seems like Radiohead is on the outs, at least as the member’s primary concern. Thom and Johnny Greenwood have been discussing orchestral composition. BTW, if you haven’t heard the “There Will Be Blood” soundtrack, you should. Some really intense string arrangements done by Johnny. Thom loves his MacBook solo compositions. Phil Selway (the drummer for radiohead) is also part of some super group called seven worlds collide or something like that. They have all said they are reluctant to try to put together another true studio album. They are enjoying releasing singles on the internet as they wish.

    Sad, but glad that they are still finding new avenues to express themselves.

  14. bearito Says:

    @ lycan

  15. Lycanthropist Says:

    @GP420 –

    Think about a revved up and extended Everything in its Right Place, not to mention National Anthem, Morning Bell, Idioteque, and Optimistic. All could be played with ferocity and all are extremely danceable. IMO anyway.

    Then the spacey tracks would be trippy as hell:

    Treefingers (already sounds like it could have a place on the Siket Disc)
    In Limbo
    Kid A

    just saying, for halloween it could be a pretty psychedelic trip, not to mention they have a whole third set to jack it back up.

  16. GuitarPicker420! Says:

    This site is updating what gets killed off on a daily basis.

  17. Mr. Completely Says:

    some of those usernames are epic…mean, but epic…

    BradSands’Yayo – wow

  18. Jay Says:

    # GOD
    Fri 09/25/09 12:53 PM

    * Raptor Jesus
    Fri 09/25/09 2:27 PM

    Toasting in epic bread
    o Icculus
    Fri 09/25/09 3:23 PM

    Coasting on epic tread.

    o #17
    Fri 09/25/09 3:45 PM

    Boasting on epic dread.

    o Mike
    Fri 09/25/09 6:35 PM

    Roasting on epic lead

    o True Fische
    Fri 09/25/09 7:30 PM

    Hosting on the Sepik Bed

    o WZHA
    Fri 09/25/09 8:03 PM

    Voting for the bestest band

    o Big Daddy
    Fri 09/25/09 10:04 PM

    Moanin while I get some head.

    o Harpua
    Sat 09/26/09 11:55 AM

    Bi-Coasting with the Grateful Dead

    o sixstringbrad
    Sun 09/27/09 11:47 PM

    Boasting with my redneck, Ted.

    o Lushhead
    Tue 09/29/09 3:53 PM

    Hopes Halloween album is Led.

    o Mike
    Tue 09/29/09 5:05 PM

    im tripping to hard to get outa bed

  19. Jay Says:

    epic thread LOL!

  20. Robear Says:

    Miner, we had a similiar opinion of the final 2000 domestic tour. My question, after listening to the readicculus jams from Japan in June of 2000, what happened? Maybe the deterioration of the scene hear had more of an effect on the band than we realize.

  21. Mr. Completely Says:

    that was just about my favorite part too Jay

  22. Robear Says:

    DOTD request:

    Laguna Seca Daze 5/25 and 26/94

    Monterey California. Guest appearance with Les Claypool, first night.

  23. Mr. Completely Says:

    I am going to buy these 2 Eno albums and the Eno/Byrne one this afternoon

  24. Mr. Completely Says:

    whoze got my h3tty genesis downloadz?

  25. bearito Says:

    @ wvb

    Thanks anyway. I’ve been trying to hear that 10/31/98 Wolfman’s for a while now.

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