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

Tags: ,

339 Responses to “Memories of a Past Era”

  1. Little Buddy Says:


    The “Blood” soundtrack is pretty amazing. I’ve heard of the Selway group too. I think Glenn Kotche from Wilco plays drums for them and Selway sings and strums. I hope Radiohead eventually do another LP, because the singles just don’t do it for me. I won’t be surprised if they never tour the States again. Thom’s pretty obsessed with the whole carbon footprint thing, but I hope they at least do another album.

    Sorry to hijack the board for some Radiohead talk for a minute… I can feel the scorn through my screen. Back to Phish.

  2. wvbrdr Says:

    bearito, here’s a stream:

    not a download, though.

  3. bearito Says:

    As far as a Radiohead costume is concerned I feel that vocally it would be too tough to pull off. Neither Trey or page could pull off that falsetto imho.

  4. bearito Says:

    @ wvbrdr


  5. Mr. Completely Says:

    @bearito – we have to eliminate a lot of albums if we consider the vocal limitations of the band as an absolute limit – for instance no way any of them can sing Bowie’s parts either.

  6. bearito Says:

    Agreed Mr. C. I just feel that there’s just some stuff that would translate better than say Radiohead. Neither the White Album, or Quadrophenia do I consider easy albums to represent musically or vocally, but they pulled it off quite well.

  7. Mr. Completely Says:

    ‘course modern day david bowie couldn’t sing old david bowie parts either

  8. bearito Says:

    This “Hendrix Jam” is hot smoke. Thanks wvbrdr!

  9. llamalee Says:

    a friend told me today its gonna be rush – moving pictures, makes sense doesnt it. if you look at the album cover and how you navigate on the page. i wanted to be surprised and got pissed off

  10. Mr.Miner Says:

    The recent Eno /Byrne album Everything That Happens Will Happen Today is my favorite album to come out in years…..genius work of art…

    ENO is a PIMP!

  11. bearito Says:

    ‘course modern day david bowie couldn’t sing old david bowie parts either

    Very true. It would have to be very vocally collaborative on Phish’s part to make it work imo, but I think it would be tits nonetheless.

  12. Mr. Completely Says:

    oh I’m on record as 100% down with a Bowie album. I think they just need to roll with the vocals thing. I mean, Robert Plant is no joke either and same with lots on that list…David Lee Roth even, I mean come on…very few albums should be eliminated on that basis. Maybe Queen.

    Hell, the vocal harmonies on American Beauty are otherworldly, at least on the remix – certainly the Dead never sounded like that live.

    Miner, I was going to ask if anyone has heard that new one, I have not, I will check it out

  13. voopa Says:

    Modern Bowie, eh?

    1. Modern Love
    2. China Girl
    3. Let’s Dance
    4. Without You
    5. Ricochet
    6. Criminal World
    7. Cat People (Putting Out Fire)
    8. Shake It

  14. Jacob Says:


    Good call on Everything that Happens. Love that album, always listen to it when I’m cleaning the house. Its makes me feel like an adult.

    Strange Overtones. Period.

  15. JerryTimber Says:

    Eat a Peach just got axed

  16. SJC Says:


  17. whole tour! Says:

    with phil collins recent announcement that he suffered a spinal injury and won’t be able to drum again, an early genesis album might be a nod.

    Maybe they will do a police album…sychronicity?

    or maybe they will cover the McLovin’s debut album?

  18. Lycanthropist Says:

    Mike could pull off some of Thoms vocals i think…

  19. whole tour! Says:

    all of their previous albums were by bands who wern’t touring anymore…fwiw.

  20. whole tour! Says:

    all previous albums were by bands in the rock and roll hall of fame too…fwiw

  21. Mr. Completely Says:

    McLovins are 100% dead certain lock first ballot rock and roll hall of fame

  22. whole tour! Says:


    they sure are

    sent the package out mr. c!
    i’m also gonna send you an email so check it in a few.

  23. albert walker Says:

    Did you catch the recent tour with Eno and Byrne Mr Miner?

    The shows in Chicago were def a highlight of last year’s live music.
    Did a mix of Eno produced Heads and almost the entire new album.
    I had huge expectations (I know bad idea) and the blew them away.

  24. Mitch Says:

    “Been a while since I’ve commented, just waiting for something that caught my interest.”

    Jacob, you calling us boring??

    Mr. C,
    I’m still on page 5, but if you mean the dat tapes he put the cd, I want that (in the ladies voice from napoleon dynamite if anyone gets the reference)

  25. Lycanthropist Says:

    re: radiohead –

    although they lost a little respect in my book when Thom agreed to do a song on the “New Moon” soundtrack.

    ugh.. i hate that series with a passion.

Leave a Reply