With October upon us, and the baseball postseason underway, fans across the nation – from New York to Colorado to Los Angeles – begin to hang on every pitch of every inning. For the next month, right through Indio, the playoffs will be a passionate subplot to many of our days and nights. People have often likened Phish and baseball fans, two statistically-obsessed subcultures within our society. When the game or show is on, everything else is off, as we seek a unique feeling only attained when our heroes really work collectively. Accessing very different parts of our selves, being a fan of baseball and a fan of Phish, can be incredibly compulsive and complementary habits, eating up significant chunks of time. But few things engage me more than these two pastimes. Combining them for just a day, I present to you Phish’s starting post-season lineup. You can download the nine selections below.
A lead-off hitter needs to get going quickly and have speed to get around the bases. Not placed here for power, “Tube” gets on base early and often. Known to steal bases and use its funk to kick start the team’s offense, “Tube” plays the role of a lead-off hitter perfectly. A short shot of groove sets the table for the bigger jams, “Tube’s” crack-like dance rhythms reach base almost every time. Chula Vista’s first set version from ’99 works quite nicely as an illustration.
2. Bathtub Gin
Batting second, “Bathtub Gin,” a solid hitter who specializes in lacing doubles in the gap. Boasting both power and speed, “Gin” fits well in the second position. Rarely coming up empty, and sometimes going huge, “Gin” has the type of steady mid-range jamming that embodies the qualities of a great number-two hitter. Here is an overlooked version from The Palace in ’97 that segues into “Foam.”
The three slot usually goes to the best hitter on the team, and since its ’97 debut, there has been no more consistent jam vehicle than “Ghost.” Evolving stylistically with the band,”Ghost” has proven to also be one of the most versatile pieces in their repertoire. A true five-tool player, “Ghost” can go anywhere at anytime, capable of groove, spacescapes, gnarling rock, ambient, and melodic textures. If translated to baseball stats, we are talking .300, 30, and 100 year in and year out. And “Ghost” will get plenty of pitches to hit because look who’s hitting next. This dark-horse version from Portland Meadows in ’99 illustrates the song’s versatility.
The ultimate cleanup hitter, “Tweezer” is the Babe Ruth of Phish songs, swatting jams out of the park with a 42 ounce bat like it’s a toothpick. If there are ducks on the pond, “Tweezer” will clean the base paths almost every time. Protecting “Ghost” with its intimidating psychedelia, no opposing pitcher wants to face “Tweezer” with the lead on the line. Having been groomed for this position since i’s youth, “Tweezer” ascended to its rightful spot in the order a long time ago and doesn’t seem to have signs of giving it up. These days, when I think “Tweezer,” I think Red Rocks.
5. Down With Disease
Giving opposing pitchers no rest, “Down With Disease” holds down the coveted five spot. Reserved for a powerhouse that rarely strikes out, “Disease” fits the description perfectly. One of Phish’s favorite vehicles, when that fuzzy bass intro emerges, it sounds like a hanging curveball just waiting to be clobbered. “Disease” is a crafty veteran who can get the job done in more ways than one, but most often its with diverse and creative improv. Not necessarily a 40 home run hitter, “Disease” has made the All-Star team every year since 1996. Here is the incredibly cathartic version from 12.30.03 in Miami.
6. David Bowie
This aging veteran has lost a step in its old age, but “Bowie” can still close sets with the best of them. No longer the psychedelic monstrosity of ’94 and ’95, the song still possesses power and legacy. I’m an AL fan, so “Bowie” will fill our designated hitter slot. Sometimes a defensive liability in the outfield due to older legs and aching knees, “Bowie” still has the potential to come through in the clutch every time it steps to the plate. Here is one from the glory days – 6.18.94’s Mind Left Bowie.
Another versatile player, “Stash” slides into the seven hole, illustrating the top to bottom consistency of Phish’s line-up. “Stash” boasted an explosive summer of 2009, and goes into the playoffs as hot as any song. After stellar nights in Colorado, Washington, and Connecticut, “Stash’s” confidence is peaking. Providing spark in the bottom third of the lineup, “Stash” is a versatile hitter who can spray the ball to all fields, slapping 10-minute singles or 20-minute home runs. Here is the foreboding version from Hartford this summer that hasn’t gotten enough props.
As we get towards the bottom of the lineup, “Split” boasts an ominous presence for any pitcher. Just when they think there might be a gap in the offense, this scary hitter steps to the plate. Drawing a lot of walks due to its intimidation, “Split” has the highest on-base percentage of any number eight hitter in the league. Capable of legging it out via groove, more often than not “Split’s” outward psychedelia is it’s biggest offensive weapon. Here is an all-time favorite from Niagara Falls ’95.
9. Run Like An Antelope
Rounding out the staring lineup, and acting as the “second lead-off” hitter is “Antelope.” With the quickest speed on the team, its ability to reach base on infield singles, and to reach third on routine doubles, astounds all opposing teams. If “Antelope” gets to first, it might as well be on third, boasting the highest single-season stolen base total since Rickey Henderson. And don’t be surprised to see some power in his bat, “Antelope” has made a living by popping dingers at the end of any given set. Here is a scorcher from La Mesa ’94.
“Miner’s Starting Lineup” < Torrent
“Miner’s Starting Lineup” < Megaupload
1. “Tube” 9.18.99 Chula Vista, CA
2. “Bathtub Gin > Foam” 12.6.97 Auburn Hills, MI
3. “Ghost” 9.12.99 Portland, OR
4. “Tweezer” 7.31.09 Morrison, CO
5. “Down With Disease” 12.30.03 Miami, FL
6. “David Bowie” 6.18.94 Chicago, IL
7. “Stash” 8.14.09 Hartford, CT
8. “Split” 12.7.95 Niagara Falls, NY
9. “Antelope” 12.9.94 La Mesa, AZ
DOWNLOAD OF THE DAY:
7.26.91 Georgia Theatre, Athens, GA < Torrent
7.26.91 Georgia Theatre, Athens, GA < Megaupload
Here is a return to the Summer of ’91 and Phish’s standout run with The Giant Country Horns. This second-to-last show of the Horns’ run showcases a well-practiced band whose communication transformed Phish’s music into a a sort of prog-rock fusion for a fortnight. The Aquarium Rescue Unit opened this show as the band co-billed their run though the South, switching headlining slots.
I: Chalk Dust Torture, Reba, My Sweet One, Foam, Suzy Greenberg, Cavern, The Man Who Stepped Into Yesterday > Avenu Malkenu > The Man Who Stepped Into Yesterday, Buried Alive, Bouncing Around the Room, The Landlady, Golgi Apparatus
II: Stash, Dinner and a Movie, You Enjoy Myself, Flat Fee, Funky Bitch, The Squirming Coil, Tweezer, Sweet Adeline, The Lizards* > Tweezer Reprise
E: Lawn Boy, Frankenstein, Split Open and Melt
w/ The Giant Country Horns
* Happy Birthday dedication to Chris Kuroda
Source: Shure 57 > Casio D7 > SPDIFTags: Culture, Miner's Picks