Step Into Space


Albany ’99 (A.Foley)

A tour that started in Vancouver exactly one month earlier, had traversed the nation moving down the west coast, across the south and back up the east coast. We had made it to Albany on October 9 for the final two-night stand of tour. Boasting many fine shows along the way, Phish returned to their home turf of the Northeast to close another tour in the friendly confines of “Knickerbocker” Arena. Fall ’99 saw Phish experiment with sound in a different direction, favoring abstract dissonance and amorphous spacescapes. Following a trend that began during summer, their jams became increasingly layered, veering from the groove and calm ambient playing of ’98 to more aggressive, distortion-based textures and artistic sound sculptures. Phish displayed these trends in droves this night on this next-to-last night in Albany.

Albany '99 Pollock

Albany ’99 Pollock

The first set had its own space-excursion, as a straight-forward “Ghost” grew outwards in scope, then seamlessly merged into a primordial soup that suggested “My Left Toe.” In the middle of the first set, Phish set their controls for the heart of the sun, morphing from a fast-paced rock-groove into a slower arrhythmic pattern that suggested a voyage to the other side. Page layered walls of sound that supported the jam, while Fishman flowed with all sorts of polyrhythms. A magnificent showcase of one of the band’s current foci, they wasted no time merging with the infinite. Deep into space exploration, Trey looped one pattern while adding others; Fish played a shimmering ever-shifting beat; Page’s favored sound over melody; and Mike blended his notes in a non-linear pattern. The band took a high dive into celestial sludge before emerging with the heavy opening of “Free,” back in the era when “Free” was still a legitimate piece of improv. The thick groove showcased Trey’s classic “millennial” style, moving from searing sheets of resounding terror into growling leads. With the end of tour within reach, Phish rejected complacency in favor of cerebral creativity – good to the last drop.

Fall '99 (Unk)

Fall ’99 (Unknown)

Phish stepped back into the cosmic realm at the beginning of the second set, combining “Limb By Limb” and “2001” into 35 minutes of millennial madness. Slaughtering the typically complex “Limb” jam with super-glued communication. Just before the band collectively peaked, they descended from their melodic heights into a darker, rhythmic milieu.  Fish kept the polyrhythms flying at lightning speed, as Trey and Mike’s dark interplay led the band down the road less traveled. Creating an abstract sonic brew, Phish embarked on a distinctly ’99-esque segment of improv that the band absolutely annihilated – you can hear the response from the crowd on tape.  Effortlessly re-merging with “Limb’s” cathartic theme, the band – and specifically Trey – smashed the peak of the jam to smithereens, leaving approximately 17,500 jaws firmly lying on the arena floor.

Fall '99 (Unk)

Fall ’99 (Unknown)

Trey joined Fish’s ending drum solo, and as the song formally ended, Trey continued his pattern over a blanket-like ambiance that the rest of the band instantly created.  Oozing back into a quiet jam that suggesting “Limb’s” rhythmic structure, Phish began to build a spacescape whose intensity and stature grew with each passing moment. Entering a gorgeous plane, Fishman faded his drum beat in, the lights came up, and the arena lifted off into the tour’s last “2001.”  Leaving the laid back grooves in the summer amphitheatres, this version took off with a faster pace and an enhanced zest. After joining the dance party with a series of choppy funk licks and leads, and once the the band locked into some full-on grooves, Trey left his axe behind, hopping onto his mini keyboard. He immediately complemented Page’s Rhodes with staccato patterns he might play on guitar. Mike and Fish pulsated consistently, never coming apart, providing the adhesive for the top-layer experiments.

1999-10-09moTrying all his tricks, Trey used his keyboard proficiently and enhanced the groove with an array of sounds and effects. But once the band passed through the song’s first theme, he stuck to his guitar. Mike’s super-sized bass patterns dominated the second half of the piece, as Trey and Page wrapped slick melodies around them. Thumping throughout the arena, his diverse lines led the band away from clap-able rhythms into alternate grooves during this “2001” marathon that lasted almost 20 minutes.

Segueing into “Disease,” Phish’s space-camp ended for the evening, as they closed the show with the energetic anthem followed by “Simple” and “Loving Cup.”  But our galactic treks in both sets comprised the enduring memories from this night in Albany ten years ago.

Winged music note=====

Jams of the Day: 10.9.99

Ghost  > Free” I


Limb By Limb > 2001 > Disease” II




10.9.99 “Knickerbocker” Arena, Albany, NY < Torrent

10.9.99 “Knickerbocker” Arena, Albany, NY < Megaupload

The "Knick" Today

The “Knick” Today

This is the typically darker and more exploratory first night of Phish’s two-night finale to Fall ’99. Getting to some spaced-out jams, the band showcased their abstract millennial sound that grew throughout the tour.  A great setlist with great playing – good stuff all around.

I: Punch You In the Eye, Wilson, Guyute, Ghost > My Left Toe > Free, Sparkle, Possum

II: Limb By Limb > Also Sprach Zarathustra*> Down with Disease > Wading in the Velvet Sea, Simple, Loving Cup

E: Slave to the Traffic Light

*Trey on keys for part of jam

Source: Unknown

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388 Responses to “Step Into Space”

  1. BTB Says:

    Anybody check out this Cobo Arena in Detroit???

    What a weird little place. Looks pretty intimate from the pictures on the net.

    Seats 12,000 people.

  2. kenny powers Says:

    wow, what a trippy looking little arena. The inside looks like something Kubrick would have designed in the 70s.

  3. kenny powers Says:

    ^ looks way smaller than 12,000 given no seats behind stage…but i guess numbers don’t lie.

  4. BTB Says:

    Kubrick – nice! Doesn’t it, that place is going to lift off. I think I’m a fan

  5. msbjivein Says:

    I bet that place sounds awesome!!! Hmmmmm Wed show…….Man I wish I didn’t use all my vacation on Summer Tour! I’m feeling a Fever coming on…………..

  6. BTB Says:

    Just realized I’m going to miss my Ohio State / Michigan game b/c of Phish Tour…

    Anyone need tickets, Buckstache or scUM? I have 2 extra now!

  7. beepaphone Says:

    @ BTB re:cobo
    yeah i still havent found a great pic of the inside, but it looks awesome…like a cross between a theater and an arena. Very Phishy looking. Last and only chance to see ’em there. Tearing it down next year I guess.

  8. BTB Says:

    There’s a miny 3rd deck at the Cobo. Just found some other pics

  9. beepaphone Says:

    floor is GA too

  10. BTB Says:

    Wonder what that place looks like when filled with Nug Smoke.

  11. kenny powers Says:

    yeah Google Images has a bunch of pics on there. The venue’s right by the water, looks like a cool spot. Shame they’re tearing it down – one look at that picture and I thought man, if the security is lax this could be a new Midwest arena haunt.

  12. BTB Says:

    I’m pretty sure US Bank in Cinci holds 20,000 or so. This could be a great little place to start the tour.

  13. BTB Says:

    Sure to be a sell out- with all the Mich. St. students 2 hours away.

    Anyone ever been to East Lansing Michigan? Absolutely beautiful up there.

  14. beepaphone Says:

    I don’t think a lot of Mich St. students will have the tenacity to score tickets at college student prices to a 12,000 person venue. Especially first show of tour.

  15. beepaphone Says:

    some will be there though…no doubt

  16. msbjivein Says:

    Michigan has a lot of Phans the boys have been playing up there since ’92. They haven’t played MI a lot but I run into a lot of heads from MI………….

  17. BTB Says:

    Beeps, I disagree. Mich st. has a lot of hipsters and they rarely get a PH show in there back yard. When was the last time PH played in MI? Long time, i think

    Everybody, check out how close the boys will be…


  18. beepaphone Says:

    Perhaps you’re both right. t’was a snap judgement

  19. GuitarPicker420! Says:

    @BTB – in my experience “hipsters” hate Phish viscerally. Though, by and large, they’ve never actually heard any Phish music, they just don’t like the idea of Phish.

  20. BTB Says:

    They better show up. There’s only 5 PH fans in Cleveland and I’m one of them. Plus, the wednesday show. They should be able to sell out a 12,000 seat place though. Although, I’m not sure how reliable that number is.

  21. BTB Says:

    I call “hippy / festi / wook” looking peeps “hispters”. Maybe my vernacular is wrong. I’m not referring to black rimmed glasses, skinny jean dudes talking about Pitchfork and such.

    I just hate saying the word hippy or heads, I guess

  22. beepaphone Says:

    lol text from my brother: “Peeps be all like Kanye and Obama be all like Taylor Swift”

  23. msbjivein Says:

    That show will sell out in minutes……………

  24. beepaphone Says:

    I hope they all sell out in minutes. As opposed to Summer tour selling out instantaneously.

  25. morecowbell (aka jay) Says:

    would love to see Phish in Detroit. Just a cool sounding name for a city and that city has some serious music history (when I say music history I mean Leather Tuscadero.

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