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. Jay Says:

    So what was your impressions of Exile on Main Street Mr. Miner?

  2. Mr.Miner Says:

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

    ^^ so pissed…i didn’t. They played the Greek in Berkeley like 2 days after the June leg, and returning to my family, I couldn’t hop across the Bay. Then a Bonnaroo it was WAY to much of a clusterfuck to do anything except find a place for Phish…..

    I LOVE that album SO MUCH

  3. Mr.Miner Says:

    loved Exile – need to listen again before definitively commenting.

  4. oneshowatatime Says:

    Holy shit–less than a month left for FESTIVAL EIGHT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Just finalizing my antelope costume, anyone want to join the herd on 10/31?

  5. Mr. Completely Says:

    wow, at the Greek even

    this just in: HOT RATS PWNS MY FACE

    not exactly news but still

    has been just long enough since I spun it that it feels really fresh. Such a tight album.

  6. Jay Says:

    herd of antelopes at 8? love it!

  7. Mr. Completely Says:

    yes very great group costume idea, kudos

  8. butter Says:

    RE : Exile – i went to a yard sale right before my wife came to my house for the first time when we were dating. I found a used cd of “Exile” and bought it for like a buck. When i got home to play it …i remembered that this was the Stones album with “Sweet Virginia”. Well my wife’s name is Virginia. i burned her a copy and sent her home with it….and the rest is history.

  9. albert walker Says:

    I think we are now seeing that Phish giving us these albums is fun

    Go back and listen to something you have not heard in years
    LIsten to something you may never have cuz you thought it sucked
    Try to picture arrangements they could bring
    Who would sing

    They sure as hell brought some buzz the last week of Sept that would have never been there

  10. albert walker Says:

    Eat a Peach – first real good album (not including VU, Heads, Beatles, Who) that has gotten whacked

  11. Mr. Completely Says:

    @Mitch, I don’t have the DATs, thus the issue. I could borrow a DAP1 if I needed to. I have metal cassettes made off the DAT back in the day. Almost everything I have on analog is in circulation though I may have a few technical upgrades (meaning I have fewer generations or a better known lineage than what’s in circ) – but this thing hasn’t ever hit any tracker I know of.

    I’ll seed it first at, then tradersden as soon as the seedboxen nuke my upload rate, and just assume that it will spread from there. You can get the lossless version one of those places, or mp3s here, in a few days…maybe over the weekend depending on the mail.

  12. Mr. Completely Says:

    @albert – exactly – it has totally worked on me, I am really enjoying it

    still waiting for someone to upload that genesis album somewhere 😮

  13. albert walker Says:

    I’m all vinyl how do you think I feel

    I actually bought on ebay a near mint OG Marquee Moon yesterday night

    by the time I fill in my wholes I could be out a few hundred since I only like original pressings in good condition

    luckily I have most of these

  14. Mr. Completely Says:

    Marquee Moon is next up in the Grand Tour Through Long Neglected Albums I Vaguely Remember Liking Back In The Day

  15. albert walker Says:

    First puff of the day and a little Crimson over here
    never would have thought to bring back this record out of the collection if this shit was not going on
    excuse to listen to a great shelfed record no doubt

  16. Mr. Completely Says:

    ^^^ exactly ^^^

    Crimson is up after Television

    the 2 Eno albums both killed

    Hot Rats killed

    really fun day of music

  17. Chuck D Says:

    music is the best

  18. beepaphone Says:

    Ok…yesterday I had a neutral stance…then I noticed Superfly was a possibility. I have a very vivid picture painted in my head of how this album would go down.

    Horn Section
    Fish singing
    Mayfield’s bass lines turned into thick and meaty Gordo bombs.

    It would be the nastiest funk party of all time

  19. Robear Says:

    Just spinning all of ‘Exile’ for the first time. Bring it on!

    You guys are right. I’m gonna’ see how many of these are on the old hard drives and have some fun with this.

  20. voopa Says:

    Superfly would be awesome, but Fish singing? Hmm…

  21. beepaphone Says:

    think about it…not the best voice, but he could do a better curtis than the rest

  22. fat bastard Says:

    what songs specficailly do you like on the basement tapes? I’ve got it right but I don’t have the heart to go thru it all.

  23. macbergleton Says:

    That Twist>Sand was my least favorite part of 9/30/00. As you said, Miner, upon relistening, it’s not terribly engaging.

    I loved that show, though, for the old school “type Is” and the bustouts. it was just fun. as far as the jamming went, i think the top honor belongs to either Maze (pretty hot) or Timber. Regardless, I agree that the relative state of the band is apparent through most of ’00, and even ’99. Personally, i prefer ’09 to either era, but there’s something about fresh phish…

  24. fat bastard Says:

    I like the pictures

  25. Mitch Says:

    Me C,
    I didn’t care if they were dats and to be honest I didn’t remember what they were even of. Just remembered reading that you found some stuff at home and it was going to cd. So in that regard I like to find random gems.

    No rush, just gathering random stuff for my archives so to speak. If you guys don’t do this you might give it a shot. My friends and I pass around hard drives and share music and keep a central archive as well so if anyone crashes we still have all our tunes.

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