A Stairway To The Stars

10.30.09 (Photo: Graham Kucas)

10.30.09 (Photo: Graham Lucas)

With all due focus on Phish’s mastery of The Exile Set and the bombast of Festival 8’s final frame, the shadows cast have already engulfed the 30th, a show that was anything but forgettable. Setting up Halloween with a flowing second set of tightly woven improv, Phish played a show that spanned the emotional spectrum from uplifting to macabre. Surrounded by colorfully lit palm trees and and giant, flame-throwing tiki-torches, the band opened their musical carnival by stringing together several popular jams while molding an artistic set with a distinctly Phishy flavor.

Indio_Oct 30_09

10.30.09 (G.Lucas)

The band kicked off the second half with 1000 mics of adrenaline to the dome in the form of a festival-sized “Punch,” as Trey’s crack-like guitar scratches burst from lowered speaker towers that practically stared us in the face. With all the room in the world to move, the concert field collectively exploded as Phish tore into the full-on opener. Using the composition to set up a drop into a larger vehicle, the only question was which they would choose. Gordeaux quickly answered this question with his signature bass feedback, signaling entry into “Down With Disease.”

10.30.09 (W.Rogell)

10.30.09 (W.Rogell)

Launching into one of the year’s most consistent jams, Phish brought us on a magic carpet ride as they crushed the melodic, structured jam. Though several minutes into this scintillating “Disease,” Trey changed into a series of quasi-distorted rhythm chops, signaling a break from the song’s form. The already thrilling adventure turned menacing as Trey’s guitar tone transformed into an uncompressed growl, pulling the band into darker territory. Page hopped onto the clav, Fish switched up beats, and the band merged into sparser grooves – seemingly on the verge of  something bigger. Washes of sonic psychedelia coupled with a slowed, then diminished beat, soon created an effect-laden transition into “Prince Caspian.” Throughout this initial portion of the set, Phish displayed cohesive playing with a fierce intention behind their improv. Exuding confidence through their instruments, the band built a gorgeous version of the imaginary tale before forgoing the song’s final power chords for a piano transition into “Wolfman’s.”

10.30.09 (G.Lucas)

10.30.09 (G.Lucas)

The subsequent sequence of “Wolfman’s > Piper” contained the most adventurous jamming of the weekend, as well as Phish’s darkest Halloween experimentation. Spring-boarding off a series of swanky grooves, Phish took us into the netherworld with an ambient exploration of the occult. Syrupy funk dripped from the speakers onto the first festival audience in six years, in a confluence of motion and catharsis. The band locked into slowed down dance rhythms that included equal contributions from all members, quickly building into a show highlight. The mechanical precision of the over-sized grooves brought that physical rush of excitement inside, that ability to conquer the universe as it raced through my mind. The limitless room to move only enhanced the aura of freedom, and as the grooves wound down, Phish dropped into space.

Crafting the weekend’s “Halloween jam,” Phish evoked memories of the insane depths plunged by “Wolfman’s” on Halloween ’98, with a harrowing ’09-style ambient excursion. Building a terrorizing wall of eerie psychedelia Phish summoned the dark spirits with their cryptic musical mysticism. Sculpting one of the most ominous jams of the year, the band sufficiently explored this haunted realm before the passage bled into “Piper.”

10.30.09 (W.Rogell)

10.30.09 (W.Rogell)

Another one of ’09s strongest songs, “Piper,” reached a place of organ-led, sparse, rhythmic playing that maintained the music’s fast-pace while opening up space within for unique offerings. This jam grew into a truly engaging piece of Phish, as the band continued to break down the music into an increasingly divergent place. Morphing into an awesome melodic plane with shimmering rhythms and seemingly-composed melodies, Trey added a vocal layer over top –  much like the Gorge’s “Light” jam – and the band arrived in some truly sublime music. Only after the next night – and upon further listening – did it become evident that Phish had previewed their Halloween costume at the end of “Piper” with an “I Just Wanna See His Face” jam. One of the outstanding highlights of The Exile Set got some practice the night before; much like the band used the “Mike’s” jam in Tallahassee on 10.29.96, to covertly jam on Remain in Light’s “Houses In Motion.” This Stones-laced “Piper,” one of the most beautiful musical moments of the weekend, delicately dissolved into “Joy.” The band used the poignant ballad as a landing point for their extensive improv, as everything flowed perfectly through this sequence.

Phish got right back to business as they dropped into “Bowie.” Just before the band popped out of the intro, Trey dropped one last bit of misdirection, whispering, “We’re gonna give you a little hint about the Halloween album now.” Pranksters until the end, Phish followed the joke with a concise, yet smoking, rendition of their classic. More true to form than in past years, ’09 “Bowies” have remained type-I all the way, and this one followed suit. Nonetheless, the band showcased their spot-on communication as they built perhaps the song’s strongest outing of the year.

"Burble" (G.Lucas)

'Burble' During "Harry Hood" (G.Lucas)

Combining two of their oldest pieces, Phish unveiled their first (non-Coventry) festival “Harry Hood” in ten years. A hallmark of The Clifford Ball, The Great Went, and Lemonwheel, there has always been something incomparable about a wide-open “Hood” in a vast field, under an never-ending sky. As the band brought back a treasured tradition, they also introduced “Burble,” our partner in hallucination for the weekend. As the band sailed into the ethereal jam, a balloon structure, likening a massive pharmaceutical, floated gently over the crowd. Kuroda used the piece as a backdrop for his own work as the entire experience created a tripped-out, blissful conclusion to the set. While playing through this masterfully nuanced “Hood,” the superb quality and creativity of the actual music got overshadowed by the artistic eye-candy. The holistic spectacle, however, made for an uplifting and psychedelic start to the band’s first-ever west coast festival.

Making our way out of the concert field for the first time, we passed by The Coil, through the haunted castle, and around the decorative grounds Phish created for the weekend. Surrounded by giant art installations, exhibits with artists busy at work, and other sundry attractions, the distinctly mellow vibe of Eight contrasted with the monstrosities of yesteryear. As we made the short walk back to our free-for-all campground following an exciting show, we still had six sets left! Was this heaven? No; it was the long-awaited return of the Phish festival!

Set 1 Notes:

10.30.09 (G.Lucas)

10.30.09 (G.Lucas)

Just as everyone predicted, Phish opened their first festival of the modern era with “Party Time.” More polished and confident than Merriweather’s debut, this slapped a smile on everyone’s face just as things revved up. A raging, above-average “Chalk Dust” kicked the energy up a notch, setting up a drop into the liquid funk of “Moma Dance.” A mid-set combo of “Stealing Time” and “Stash” stirred up the witches’ cauldron with their paths of sonic sorcery. “Stealing Time” stretched into its most significant incarnation to date, pushing the song a bit further towards the brink of type-II exploration. “Stash” followed its late-summer pattern of blow-out versions, this time with a shift into a major-key for a section of the jam before landing back into darkness; a highlight version no doubt.

I: Party Time, Chalkdust Torture, Moma Dance, NICU, Stealing Time From The Faulty Plan, Stash, I Didn’t Know, Poor Heart, Cavern, Beauty of a Broken Heart, Ocelot, Time Turns Elastic

II: Punch You In The Eye, Down with Disease > Prince Caspian > Wolfman’s Brother > Piper > Joy, David Bowie, Harry Hood, Golgi Apparatus

E: Character Zero

10.30.09 Indio, CA < Torrent

10.30.09 Indio, CA < Megaupload


Jam of the Day: 10.30 II

“Wolfman’s > Piper > Joy”

The highlight of the first night.




10.30.90 El Dorado Cafe, Crested Butte, CO SBD < Torrent

10.30.90 El Dorado Cafe, Crested Butte, CO SBD < Megaupload

Circa 1990 (Unknown)

Circa 1990 (Unknown)

Here a show from Phish’s first Halloween weekend in Colorado during 1990. This is the night before Halloween, sticking with the theme of the day. This old-school SBD includes the debut of “Llama” and more than a few classics in early form.

I: The Landlady > Bouncing Around the Room, Donna Lee, The Asse Festival > Suzy Greenberg, Uncle Pen, Cavern, The Squirming Coil, Possum

II: Mike’s Song > I Am Hydrogen > Weekapaug Groove, Magilla, Foam, Reba > Llama*, The Ballad of Curtis Loew, Fluffhead, Hold Your Head Up > Terrapin > Hold Your Head Up, Buried Alive > David Bowie

III: Paul and Silas, The Lizards, Good Times Bad Times, Contact, AC/DC Bag


Source: SBD


Indio_Oct 30_14

10.30.09 Indio, CA (Photo: Graham Lucas)

10.30.90 Indio, CA (Photo: Graham Lucas)

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296 Responses to “A Stairway To The Stars”

  1. albert walker Says:

    I trade biotech and it has been pretty dead lately.
    Vol has come way in.
    Pretty busy for the first 30 hour after open and then slows down for the rest of the day.
    Intraday vol has come in also so after the open things have been pretty stuck.
    PT is a nice excuse to get away from research reports which is how I spend the majority of the day.

  2. Marshall Says:

    I’ve still never heard Jennifer Dances…

    With you on the Zeros (it got played A LOT). For some reason, I liked that song better back in the mid to late 90s. Something about the chorus repeat starts sounding contrived to me nowadays.

  3. GuitarPicker420! Says:

    @aw – I just look at the market as a whole and say it is WAY overvalued. The P/E of the S&P 500 is in the 70’s! Until earnings start coming back for real, I just can’t see a justification for these levels. I am just picking and choosing individual stocks that I think are good bets or that have been overlooked. Unfortunately, a lot of the stocks that come back as undervalued in my screens are so lightly traded as to be as illiquid as a mortgage backed security. Like I have said before, I have been buying interests in companies that are gobbling up water rights and have an interest in water. I just think that there will be a tremendous rise in demand for water.

    You look at Indio and how lush those fields were. That is all water from upstate and at some point, probably sooner rather than later, something will have to give. They just can’t make the desert green without spending a lot more for water and I want to be in on the guys selling it to them.

  4. Marshall Says:

    But I love how Zero ends, by peaking and peaking.

  5. RamblinOnMyMind Says:

    Marshall, I didn’t mention it, but i definitely noticed the shift of Mike to the left and Fish to the right. I’m pretty technologically challenged, so I don’t really understand all the technical components of what goes into mixing a track. The “delay” might get lost on me.

  6. Marshall Says:

    Re: yesterday’s Sparkle fest, I have 48 versions of Sparkle on my harddrive. Shortest is 3:36. Longest is 4:09. A jam-heavy Sparkle is way overdue for sure 😉

  7. Marshall Says:

    The fixed pans were about 65/35 (65% to one speaker, 35% to the other). Didn’t want any hard panning, like the early Beatles records. Not good use of stereo in most people’s opinions.

  8. Selector J Says:

    1. Stash is owning in 3.0. My favorite song to hear them play these days.

    2. Costa Rica is laid back but has tons of petty thieves. I went there for a conference in ’07 and had my backpack stolen out of our rental car in Manuel Antonio. We were eating lunch at this sweet hotel with an open air restaurant and a spectacular view of the sea and mountains.

    Couldn’t have been more than 20 yards from our (locked) car but our view was obstructed by a sunshade. Halfway through lunch, I went to the car to grab something. Backpack gone. Including all my clothes, cellphone and passport.

    Realized later that a guy chatting up a waitress at the bar was definitely their point man and some of the hotel/restaurant staff likely were in on it, or at the very least ambivalent about what was going on.

    If any of y’all go to Manuel Antonio and see a Tico with a badass black Snoop Dogg T-shirt, kick him in the nuts for me.

  9. albert walker Says:

    Love the water plays
    Wish I could do the value trading man.
    Don’t have the patience. Especially being more of an options guy I have trouble looking that far ahead.
    Buying in March was like shooting Fish in a barrel. Just close your eyes and pick some small caps, you did great.

    I think choosing shorts in the right spot could start to get interesting.
    Now that everything has run up you are going to get some separation of good and bad performers on the next couple earnings calls.

  10. Mr.Miner Says:

    love the Fab FB page you guys made. I am also starting an “offcial” one for other purposes called “Mr. Miner’s Thoughts”. Please join and spread the word!


  11. Mr.Miner Says:

    and contribute away!

  12. Mr. Completely Says:

    The version at the Gorge rekindled my tolerance of Zero. I’m feelin’ it again now. I do think it works best when it doesn’t have to carry the weight of a set closer or encore.

    @GP420 – water rights are a hot topic up here – we have more water than anyone in the US and are always on alert for legislative or commercial attempts to send it south. Agree 100% that water is going to become a critical global resource and cause of conflict

    @Ramblin – only other example on record I know of Jerry using a similar very extreme distortion effect is on this track, an early prototype of Crazy Fingers:

    …unfortunately an “.m4a” file type aka AAC track which I guess most windows machines don’t like…oh well sorry…I am working on recompiling all that stuff as zipped Mp3s, going to take awhile

  13. voopa Says:

    Windows machines play m4a’s just fine. Not sure what the problem was the other day.

  14. BingosBrother Says:

    Thanks El Dude and Mr. C. I will start with those 2. Caught my one and only GD show at their last show, thank God for Phish to satisfy my cravings for the great beyond. Too much Phish lately(all the time since the announcement) and need a little GD for my soul. Take a little break so I can appreciate the rager that will be Cobo. *Will still check here for great writing and intelligent conversations from all you cool cats.

  15. Marshall Says:

    21 fans added to your official FB page in about 10 minutes. Good indicator of how many “lurkers” there are here who don’t post.

  16. yematt Says:

    @ marshall.. wisdom teeth. not sure if you got a response yet but I just got mine out last summer and just did the NO2 & novocaine. I was awake the whole time and was out in about 40 mins. The oral surgeon gave me a word of advice before coming in on the day, “Just make sure you bring some really good music”. The Beatles River Rhine tapes completely put me in a zone.

  17. Marshall Says:

    @ Yematt. Thanks. I’ve never had nitrous at the dentist, so I wondered how much it “helped.” I hadn’t even thought to bring an iPod, but thanks for hitting me in the forehead with that one.

  18. sumodie Says:

    @aw: enjoyed your f8 musings over the weekend -you have a talent for concise yet sharp observation. msg & costa rica arent too shabby a trade for miami. CostaR has gorgeous & varied geography. would love to go back & visit monte verde (cloud forest) & arenal volcano in the interior.

  19. fromthetub Says:

    So “Mr. Miner’s Thoughts” will replace “Mr. Miner’s Phish Thoughts” on Facebook? And we’ll still have the group. I think I’m a little behind here, but am a fan/member of all 3 regardless.

  20. Mr.Miner Says:


    “Mr. Miner’s Thoughts” is replacing “Mr.Miner’s Phish Thoughts” on FB.

    I’m getting Phish out of the title for a reason. (The old page will come down once people migrate.)

    “Thank You Mr. Miner” group that was by you guys on here will continue to exist as is.

    Thank YOU!

  21. Mr.Miner Says:

    …and ’09 Zeros have owned, ever since June – straight up.

  22. c0wfunk Says:

    nice – 5 hours later and char 0 is still up for topic 😉

    character zero is great from behind the stage — so I can only imagine how great from the stage — the whole floor is always fist pumping all together through half the song. Worth it alone, even if it wasn’t such a great rocker. I will concede that at times it is a stock closer and can be overused as such. I am a huge fan of the one jammed out char 0 from hartford(?) fall 97. More proof that in fall 97 no song was safe.

  23. Wax Banks Says:

    AW sez –

    I saw the Zero coming so we were already balling and did not have to listen to it, but I agree one of my least fav songs.

    When Billy Breathes first came out I loved to hear Char0 – oddly enough I liked the brief vocal segment at the end best of all, but it really just balls-out, cock-on-the-table RAWK.

    At shows it’s a magical thing.

    On tape I usually skip it. The adrenaline rush comes from the deep-sea jamming; if Char0 doesn’t take me by surprise I can’t bring myself to care much about it. Same with goddamn Moma Dance – ZZYZX tells me I’ve seen that shit live five different times, but the only one I remember is Fenway, and the only thing I remember about that version is that I could barely hear it from my seat. Unlike, say, Free – that Worcester 11/30/97 show is burned into my brain. But Char0 and Moma are just good-time songs now, like PYITE or Mango. I have a good time hearing them, but they don’t launch the rocketship.

  24. Wax Banks Says:

    I will concede that at times it is a stock closer and can be overused as such. I am a huge fan of the one jammed out char 0 from hartford(?) fall 97. More proof that in fall 97 no song was safe.

    11/26/97, baby. Fucking gem of a show.

  25. albert walker Says:

    Driving into Indio from the airport I was listening to Ventura summer 97.
    We get to the zero, which I am not the biggest fan of, and by the end I am just loving it.

    Trey’s licks are shredded and wah-drenched, Page is hammering the keys with a vengeance, and Mike is dropping bomb after bass bomb.

    I’m not a huge Phish historian, more of a live performance guy so I have some blank spaces in my Phish memory.
    My taper bro told me summer 97 Zero’s were all pretty raging and after giving this one a real listen I do not doubt him.
    I was at that one and it made me wonder how I had developed such a negative memory of the song.
    Must have just been played to much or something, cuz they def raged a few back in the day

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