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. gavinsdad Says:

    cobo looks dank…i also google’d around and found out that war memorial is 8K for concerts and cumby is 9K for concerts. how sick is that?

    i can’t make those but have we all seriously thought about what a bonus this is?

    consider…in Dec ’93 i went to new haven (veterans memorial) and that was 11.5K…in Dec ’94 i went to philly civ and that was 12K. i remember those shows being amazingly intimate…both of the places were slimy from everyone raging so hard….

    i was saying to some friends not on this board that i really look forward to our scene being whittled down to those that really care. i think we’re starting to see some (i repeat, *some*) evidence of this. i’m not saying i don’t want it to go away but if i was seeing shows at all 8K seaters you wouldn’t see me complaining. i’d be shitting if i had the Cobo on my list for Fall. gonna be sick.

    have fun everyone.

  2. Kenny Powers Says:

    is this Syracuse place the same thing as the Onendaga War Memorial? I have a ’94 tape from that venue…think that might have been the last time they played there. Cool.

  3. BTB Says:

    I think the boys are planning these places on purpose. I agree GD. They are going in the right direction here.

  4. msbjivein Says:

    The ENERGY is gonna be NUTS this Fall!!

  5. gavinsdad Says:

    i also need one of our scholarly peers (mr c, lycan, sumodie, wax banks, etc) to wax philosophical on the concept of demand. i’ve brought this up to some friends, and on here before, and i am perplexed at the upfront demand on PTBM, then on LN/TM, and then once the shows happen there are tickets that cant’ be given away.

    i feel like the fiends and the lifers put in for the max allotment (and obviously the scalpers and resellers get brought into the mix) but i am starting to wonder, based on the ease of certain tour stops tix this summer if we have a smaller community/smaller overall demand in the end?

    i understand that certain venues are gonna be sellouts (red rocks….msg this fall) because of myth, quality of past shows, location on the map, venue size, etc. but just by looking at these few tinier arenas on fall tour has me thinking that our “scene” is shrinking courtesy of 1) the last hiatus and 2) because of???? i’m not really sure.

    anyone else care to ponder?

  6. Kenny Powers Says:

    agreed BTB, which would be consistent w/ Asheville and the Fox in June. They could’ve played nothing but 20,000+ venues if they wanted to, but they now that somewhat legendary status where they can pick and choose anywhere. I’m sure they get off on playing wildly different rooms w/ different acoustics and vibes.

  7. BTB Says:

    I think the fan base is smaller. Until NOOBS go to these little intimate venues for 1st time seeing PH and get blown out of the room.

    In short, I think overall ticket demand is down (except for the precious places in the Northeast / RR)

    The outdoor shacks are usually 18,000+, but they can’t help that.

    I love sweaty little concert halls in the fall / winter!!!!!!!!!!!

  8. msbjivein Says:

    It’s hard to tell right now. You are right though there were shit tons of tix this summer. I think we’ll know if the scene has shunk after fall tour for sure. Also Summer usually is more popular than Fall tours so who knows it could be a VERY intimate Fall……………

  9. morecowbell (aka jay) Says:

    is this Syracuse place the same thing as the Onendaga War Memorial?

    Yes, this is the Onondaga County War Memorial. I saw my first Dead show there back in ’81 🙂

  10. Pence Says:

    I definitley see a lot people overpaying on stub hub/ebay MSG tickets

  11. BTB Says:

    Some 17 year old kid was trying to scalp me a ticket at Alpine for $75 bucks the day of the show. He was like, “I’ll give it to you for $75, even though I paid $120”

    I looked him square in the face and offered him $5.

    Ended up buying tix from a more realistic fan for $25 bucks. He was extremely happy to get rid of it. Tons of extras all summer, especially in the midwest.

  12. beepaphone Says:

    I’m bringing a couple noobs to Cincy. They’re going love it…I know it. It’s great to hear the reactions when you bring an old friend to a show and they say things like “I didn’t know a concert could be that good”.

  13. Kenny Powers Says:

    i’m not by any means a PT resident scholar (good call btw on those names you threw out, those guys are wordsmiths of the highest order),

    but i think in addition to a possible erosion of the fan base over the years, the secondary ticket market has EXPLODED since the boys last played in 2004. While scalpers/brokers have always been sneered at, it has become accepted in legal terms as a legit business enterprise and market demand for tickets has skyrocketed, good economy or not.

    These companies have guys that stake out computers and snag as many tix as possible when they go onsale. Sure, TM and Live Nation and Phish tix by mail try to minimize that by creating a 4-ticket limit or whatever, but that doesn’t stop the networks of brokers from all making it their job to score as many as legally possible.

    I think that is a major contributor to why these shows sell out ASAP and then the demand as the actual show approaches doesn’t match the initial perceived demand.

  14. Ocelot42 Says:

    Gah. Phish in my state. Not very far from my Brother’s house in the (safe) Detroit suburbs. And what am I? Flat. Ass. BROKE. Like, scraping for rent and food broke. “Only turn the heat on every third day” broke. Dammit.

  15. Kenny Powers Says:

    ^ to sum up, there’s a much higher broker:phan ratio than there used to be.

  16. beepaphone Says:

    @ KP – thats exactly it. Demand may or may not be down, but tickets are more scarce.

  17. voopa Says:

    He’s yelling at the parking lot
    Throwing beer cans down the stairs

  18. beepaphone Says:

    @ Ocelot – You have a month…1 show…you can do it man.

  19. msbjivein Says:

    Tix are scarce when they go onsale but plentiful onlot…At least this summer excluding the Biggy’s………..

  20. BTB Says:

    try every 4th day… wala…tix money

  21. Chuck D Says:

    layers. always dress in layers.

  22. BTB Says:

    Bring it all together: Wear extra layers, turn heat down and surplus of tix appear day of the show in the lot.

  23. morecowbell (aka jay) Says:

    Ticket lottery does not work as scalpers flood that service as it costs them nothing till they actually get selected. Only way to combat that is to force them to actually walk down the street and put cold hard cash on the counter of the post office for a money order and mail it in. First come first serve by postal date. The Dead knew what they were doing. That and getting 50% of the tickets available before they go to ticketbastard/LoserNation

  24. Kenny Powers Says:

    yeah Ocelot, just head to the venue, enjoy the pre-game and keep a keen ear open for extras. worst case you got to be at the lots for the first and last Phish show at a venue that’s about to be torn down.

  25. Ocelot42 Says:

    I have one real possible option, and that’s getting the ticket dirt cheap on Stub-Hub like I did for the Chicago show. The real trick isn’t getting together the $50 for the ticket, it’s convincing the wife that the $50 is best spent in that fashion. And she runs the bank account with an iron fist in times of feduciary distress. That said, with the likely scarcity of opening show of the tour tickets? My hopes are not high. (Taking the time off of work for a Wednesday show would suck, too.)

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