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. BTB Says:

    The Doors played at Cobo Arena and recorded the show under the name “Live In Detroit”.

  2. Robear Says:

    lmao, Mr. C.

    three GD shows I need to hear. I was waiting for you to show back up!

  3. beepaphone Says:

    llfa. if you want to know if I stole the soap dispenser, read the Detroit police beat the next day…dinosaurs don’t need soap dispensers anyways

  4. Marshall Says:

    For all you guys that don’t know Robear personally, I will tell you that he’s the man. Of all the Phish fans I’ve met, he’s the kindest soul in the lot.

  5. neemor Says:

    Hey guys….been a while due to sickness and I missed posting, my virtually real phamily. Can’t wait for NYC meet up to bring that all to life!
    Speaking of meet ups:
    Mr Palmer mentioned on pg 7 today about Stout in the City to meet at.
    Looks great to me and I’m wondering if we have enough “pull” to get one of the sections or rooms rented or held for us specifically, if that’s even necessary…
    The Green Room on the main floor looks perfect.
    I’ll make a call or two if you guys are interested…

  6. BTB Says:

    COBO – the table tennis tournament that marked the first athletic competition between the US and Communist China was held there; and Bob Seger’s big breakthrough album, ‘Live Bullet’, was recorded during his concert there.

    So take that all you Festi8 peeps…

    Phish: Live at Cobo . To be released on Maxwell XLII

  7. Marshall Says:

    @ BTB – did Forrest Gump play in that match?

  8. T. Leo Says:

    Cobo sounds like it is rich in minor league hockey history. Wish I had a Charlston Chiefs jersey. Oh well, I guess I’ll just wear my Toledo Goaldiggers t-shirt

  9. BTB Says:

    How funny would that be though???

    Get a sign that say’s PHISH: LIVE AT COBO at hoist that shit around. Wow. That would be funny guys. I might do that…

  10. Robear Says:

    thanks for the kind words. Marshall’s the real deal too.

    so far, all the folks I’ve met from this site have been super:

    very enjoyable to meet

    Thank you Mr. Miner!

  11. BTB Says:

    Forrest Gump LOL

  12. beepaphone Says:

    today’s setlist is going to have a giddy, Friday kind of feel to it

  13. Robear Says:

    Big shout out to Colonel Joy! Hope all’s well, and you’re prepping for Your first shows back!

  14. jdub Says:

    @mr. C

    I was going to through Wilber out there and you beat me to it. He’s a brilliant mapmaker and has the most complete view of th universe that I am aware of.

    You guys have got me wanting to read the book flow, it’s on a long list that doesn’t get shorter

  15. KWL Says:

    @Mr C:

    I have been getting down with my bad self all night, all thanks to your funk mix.

    Well done sir.

  16. T. Leo Says:

    Great Call Robear, Yes thanks Col Joe have a great Veterans Day!

  17. BTB Says:

    Cobo is pretty fun to goof on…So is Detroit for that matter!

    Agreed. Mad shout out to the Veterans. So damn proud

  18. jdub Says:


    hope you’re feeling better these days. All this talk of cobo tonight but I can’t wait for MSG. I’m definitely going to wed and fri, thurs is up in the air – something tells me i don’t want to miss it.

    Nice call out to col joy, thanks to all those who put there asses on the line for our dysfunctional country.

  19. T. Leo Says:

    Maybe hear some Stevie Wonder in MoTown….Boogie On Reggae Woman

  20. halcyon Says:

    Seconding Robears and jdubs motions … Happy Veterans Day to Col Joy, Matthew Shwarz, and other posters / lurkers who are veterans….

    Mr C … I was wondering if Wilber was ever brought up in conversation around here … interesting reads (of what I have read), but there seems to be a weird/dark side to wilber and his clan….

  21. Marshall Says:

    Out of three night runs, I’ve determined that if I have to skip one, I’ll skip the middle show for one and only one reason – I’m usually spent the day after the first show. A day of rest makes all the difference.

  22. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    Marshall, the setlist is coming. I had to run out to the drug store (not the good kind) for my wife. Give me about 20 to 30…

  23. Marshall Says:

    Thriller to open, BDTH to close.

  24. Marshall Says:

    No prob Type III. It’s just that I can’t sleep otherwise 🙂

  25. Mr. Completely Says:

    @jdub – nice. Wilber has, unfortunately, seemed to recently become one of the guru types he used to eviscerate so brutally, surrounded by acolytes and the trappings of Genius And Enlightenment, Inc.

    When it comes just to his writing, though, it’s impossible for me to state how important I think he is. “map-maker” is a profound and insightful way to describe his contribution.

    if anyone is interested, good starting places:

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