The Power of Songs

The Acoustic Set (G. Lucas)

The Acoustic Set (G. Lucas)

Take away the psychedelic improv, monstrous dance grooves, countless effect pedals, digital delay loops, multiple keyboards, envelope filters, and all of the accoutrements of a full-on Phish show, and the songs remain. Lyrics, melodies, and rhythms, stripped down to their naked core; vulnerable souls of their electric kin. Phish has never been known for their pure songwriting prowess, and they have rarely tapped into this energy in their career. Hence, the band surprised everyone when they announced the inclusion of a full-length acoustic set at Festival 8. It would be a first at a Phish festival, and showed a willingness explore a new side of their music.

As we walked to sun-drenched concert field at the crack of noon, few knew what to expect from the band who had played exactly two full acoustic sets in their career. Would they play songs we had never heard before? Would they eliminate favorites from the night time festivities by playing acoustic versions? Would they play Gamehendge like it was story time? It was anyone’s guess. With an iced coffee in one hand and a spliff in the other, I sat down on a blanket to enjoy the show. Having never sat for a moment of Phish in memory – less one “Scent of a Mule” (when I was wholly overwhelmed by the speedy bluegrass and had to sit right there on the arena floor amidst knee-slapping dancers) – I actually looked forward to kicking back and listening to what the band had in store. Certainly the peak of the Festival 8’s mellow vibe, many would return to camp unexpectedly touched by their afternoon experience.

The Acoustic Set (W.Rogell)

The Acoustic Set (W.Rogell)

For the first time in my life, I didn’t stand up when the band hit the stage. Others did, but I decided to fully embrace the experience. The show started with a whisper, opening Sunday morning with a gentle rendition of “Water In the Sky.” As the band meticulously played through many of their mellower songs, it became abundantly clear that the band – and particularly Trey – had practiced unplugged. Not known for his acoustic playing, Trey sounded crisper than any other time in his career; a far cry from his sing-alongs on his solo tours. The band’s vocals, which sounded so strong all weekend long, was another key facet to this set’s success. An obvious reflection of their healthier lifestyle, Trey and Page, especially, sounded more dynamic – and controlled – than ever before.

Between the heartfelt playing and poignant vocals, the power of Phish’s songs emerged. There was no jamming, there were no antics or trickery, just the aural fabric of Phish music. The patience and soul that Phish showcased on this afternoon (and in The Exile Set) illustrated a musical maturity that many never imagined from Phish; an ability to access our deepest emotions not by blowing our minds, but by warming our hearts. Over the course of two hours, the band melted their audience with ballads – “Strange Design,” Mountains In the Mist,” “Let Me Lie,” and “Talk;” Phish favorites – “Bouncin’,” “Curtain (With), “Wilson,” and “McGrupp;” and a couple debuts – “Invisible” and “Sleep Again.”

The Acoustic Set (G. Lucas)

The Acoustic Set (G. Lucas)

But the most powerful moment of the set may have been the last. As the third song of their encore, the band played the post-hiatus ballad, “Secret Smile.” This ardent composition appeared only six times in Phish’s second chapter, and never more bittersweet than in Vegas ’04. Appearing late in the first of three shows that allowed everyone to see the band unraveling, Trey’s voice sounded more strained as ever, as his guitar seemed to cry in desperation through his dripping solo. A month later, Phish announced their retirement. So when Phish brought out “Secret Smile” for the first time since Vegas ’04, it carried a profound emotional weight. Translating differently than before, the song likened hymn of happiness and redemption. As the band extended its delicate ending, one could hear a pin drop on the grass field as the eloquent energy captivated everyone. Many of us became flooded with emotion – an appreciation of being back where we belonged. No funk licks, triumphant jams, or psychedelic experiments were necessary to deliver this message. As we sat there, immersed in the soul of Phish, we could feel it undeniably. And it was good.

Water in the Sky, Back on the Train, Brian and Robert, Invisible*,Strange Design, Mountains in the Mist The Curtain (With), Army of One, Sleep Again*, My Sweet One, Let Me Lie, Bouncing Around the Room, Train Song, Wilson, McGrupp and the Watchful Hosemasters

E: Driver, Talk, Secret Smile



Jams of the Day:  11.1 – The Acoustic Set

Secret Smile


Mountains In the Mist


The Curtain (With)




header-miami-2009Yesterday, with an announcement that amounted to a mere formality, Phish unveiled their four-night New Years Run at American Airline Arena in Miami, FL. Though the community has known this for months, and it was confirmed, in jest, in Festival 8’s Phishbill, it’s always fun to get the official word. This will be the band’s first New Years Run since Miami 2003. Anyone who was there in ’03 can tell you there is nary a better place to spend New Years than on the beach with the Phish. Sunshine by day and psychedelia by night – the situation can not be beat!

The ticket lottery is currently underway and ends this Sunday, November 15th at 11.59 pm. See you there!



11.12.95 O’Connell Center, Gainesville, FL < Torrent

11.12.95 O’Connell Center, Gainesville, FL < Megaupload

Fall Tour '95 T-Shirt

Fall Tour '95 T-Shirt

This is the next show after Atlanta’s Fox Theatre run that kicked off the second half of Fall ’95. The first of four consecutive Florida shows, Phish continued to fire on all cylinders during their 54-show romp, building historic momentum throughout November and December, peaking their style of play.

I: My Friend, My Friend, Llama, Bouncing Around the Room, Guelah Papyrus, Reba, I Didn’t Know, Taste That Surrounds, If I Could, Split Open and Melt, Hello My Baby

II: The Curtain > Tweezer > Keyboard Army, Sample in a Jar, Slave to the Traffic Light, Hold Your Head Up > Cracklin’ Rosie > Hold Your Head Up, Possum, Tweezer Reprise

E: Fire

Source: Unknown

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664 Responses to “The Power of Songs”

  1. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    addendum to that note about Taste: they played Taste (original version) in Spring ’95, then Fog that Surrounds in the early Fall and then Taste that Surrounds in the late Fall before the reworked version debuted in Amsterdam in Summer 1996.

  2. msbjivein Says:

    Phuckin Phall Tour Phans!!!

  3. msbjivein Says:

    “Have you ever done Phish…INDOORS?!!”

  4. Marshall Says:

    I’ve been confused about Taste and Fog forever. I know that Fishman sings some of the verses on Fog that Surrounds, whereas they’re fully in Trey’s realm for “Taste,” but where does Taste that Surrounds fit it in the evolution.

    I guess I should just do my own homework – problem is my track listings aren’t always correct. Anyone have good dates for the transitions between versions?

  5. Marshall Says:

    I caught one version of Fog I believe at The Fox a few days prior to the DOTD.

  6. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    Marshall, here you go:

    Fog that Surrounds

    Taste that Surrounds


    With the new you can pretty much just change the url after “song/” to whatever you want and get the full history

  7. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    Marshall, I posted a few links for you which are awaiting moderation, but you can go to and go to the Song Histories tab. Click on what you want and get the full monty on it.

  8. msbjivein Says:

    Anybody headed to Florida this weekend for Bear Creek????
    If you llike NOLA backbeat Funk you’ll love Bear Creek!

  9. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    and you saw Taste that Surrounds at the Fox 🙂

  10. Robear Says:

    ‘step into space’

  11. Bapslap Says:


    Your Sunday morning must have started at 3pm!

  12. Mitch Says:

    So if I’m not mistaken, the other two acoustic sets were for the bridge school benefit. Did the band forget those shows when saying it would be their first all acoustic set? Or did they mean at a Phish show?

  13. Marshall Says:

    Thanks Type3 – I had a Maxell II of The Fox show within a couple of months after the show (got if from a professional wook who worked the mailroom at my company – he saw my computer’s screensaver one day that read “gone phishin'” and after that we were friends). Anyway, his label from late 1995 read “Taste (the fog that surrounds).” That was one of the fun things back then before the Internet, when song titles weren’t always known for sure.

  14. jay Says:

    Anybody headed to Florida this weekend for Bear Creek????
    If you llike NOLA backbeat Funk you’ll love Bear Creek!

    Envious msb. Pure envy 🙂 Have a great time and have a toast on my birthday!!

  15. Brian Says:

    FYI all, if anyone is thinking about Philly on Tue night, I just grabbed club box level seats online. They seem like they’re gonna be pretty sweet.

  16. HarryHood Says:

    @ Bapslap

    You would be correct. Partially because my “Saturday” night didn’t end until about 4am eastern!

  17. msbjivein Says:

    JAY, I knew your Bday was coming up. What day is it exactly??

  18. st8 of mind Says:

    Another great write up Miner. You definitely captured the feeling of being there. I was extremely excited about this acoustic set. I’m not sure why people were so hesitant about this set before it was played. I had a feeling it would be the best set of 8 and would be one of those discs that you refer to forever, and Phish certainly delivered. I will add that “Let me Lie” sounded really good acoustically as well. Exile was absolutely unreal, and the weekend was very memorable. Thank you for all of your hard work and great insight. This passage really captures what Phish is all about and the direction I think they are heading, which is awesome!

    “The patience and soul that Phish showcased on this afternoon (and in The Exile Set) illustrated a musical maturity that many never imagined from Phish; an ability to access our deepest emotions not by blowing our minds, but by warming our hearts.”

  19. Marshall Says:

    Can anyone think of another song (since Taste) that has undergone such metamorphosis from performance to performance, like Fog>Taste did? I was only catching local shows back then, so I didn’t “experience” the transition of Fog/Taste like anyone who was there for many shows did.

    Also interesting that Phish lists track 8 on LivePhish Vol. 1 (12/14/95) as “Taste,” even though it’s really “Taste that Surrounds,” since Fishman sings more verses. But there are plenty of inconsistencies with Phish tracklisting (Dog Gone Dog vs. Dog Log is one example).

  20. jay Says:

    @msb Friday the 13th Wooooooohhhhhaaaaaaaa

  21. Marshall Says:

    OK, I’m still confused … according to …

    “Taste” debuted on 6/7/1995 and was played 10 times that summer up through 6/30/1995.

    Then “Fog that Surrounds” debuted that fall and was played from 9/27/95 through 10/17/95 (8 times)

    It then became “Taste that Surrounds,” which was played from 10/24/95 through 12/29/95 (14 times)

    Then “Taste” returns the following summer on 7/3/96 and has continued since.

    Only Phish.

  22. MakisupaSecurity Says:

    @ Butterlyeffect , Where are these MitM haters of which you speak?

    Also, anyone looking for a clean friendly roomie for the Albany shows? I could use a place to cra$h for both nights.

  23. KWL Says:

    Thanks, Miner. Great write up on a beautiful afternoon. Was very powerful for me. Particularly the With (my last being the you-know-when debacle). I actually saw a guy wearing a Coventry shirt before walking onto the concert field for this set. Oooooooook.

    I didn’t sit the whole time, only when Trey told me to, with the rest of the sheeple.

  24. NittyGritty Says:

    Good morning all. That acoustic McGruff gives me a hard on, like literally. Great post Miner… it really took me right back to where I was the day we witnessed the birth of a beautiful acoustic set.

    “Party in tha city where tha heat it on, all night on the beach to the break of dawn.. welcome to Miami, mi-eeme ah-me ah-me”.. Get ready for an all out THROWDOWN. hope to meet some of ya’ll down there, as I can’t make any fall shows.

  25. msbjivein Says:

    Oh Shit!! FRi the 13th!

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