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. jdub Says:

    Halcyon, there is def some weirdness with his clan. My sister lives in boulder and tells me wacky stories about the group. Wilber a bit of an egomaniac in spite of his writings… although if you think about it, a desire to claim that your map of the universe is the most complete is a big ego trip. But he has a pretty damn good map regardless.

  2. jdub Says:

    You started this conversation today c, that’s why I love lurking here because anything goes.

    “No boundary” is a great launching point and rather easy read

  3. jdub Says:

    @Marshall and all

    thoughts on 3 day runs and if you had to pick one…

  4. neemor Says:

    Yeah, jdub…
    When the Fall dates were posted, I had the instantaneous feeling in my gut that Thursday was the one to see of the MSG run.
    I think I recall Miner posting at one point recently about how multi-night runs tend to have a ‘flow’ (to coin the term today!) that holds pretty true to form. Something like, first night is for composition and solid play and the subsequent nights (second night in particular) usually opens up for some more free-form (read:Type III) jamming.
    Hence, that’s the one show of the run, if I had to choose ONE, to see for me.
    Now, there is something to be said for the explosion that will occur when the boys walk onto The Garden’s stage for the first time since ’03 )if I’m not mistaken). Then again, that may look something like Chalkdust Torture, Stash, My Friend, My Friend, Seven Below…whereas night two (if it holds true to the multi-night format) might look something like: Buried Alive, Sloth>Ha Ha Ha>Cities>Rift, Billy Breathes…
    Take nothing away from the CDT, Stash set, but I’d put my money on night two…
    I’ve been lucky with my show selections this year so far (Burgettstown, Deer Creek, Hartford) and I’m doing Albany night one, Portland and MSG all three, and feel really confident that with the way they’re playing right now, I will see at least one life-affirming set or show in there somewhere.
    BTW, Cobo is SIX days away!
    It’s on.

  5. Mr. Completely Says:

    there seems to be a weird/dark side to wilber and his clan….

    yeah. real weird stuff. I had a job interview with his gang at one point. super super weird vibe. very heavy hero worship thing going.

    It’s extremely disappointing and, indeed, embarrassing. I have recommended Wilber to many people over the years, and his current new agey guru enlightenment-for-sale schtick is extremely distateful.

    However his more analytical books are profoundly insightful at the deepest and highest levels – or so I find them.

  6. halcyon Says:

    His writings are intense, and am open to exploring them again.

    A few years ago I remember hearing of some strange happenings, and it started to turn me off.

    I should remember that If I read it for the message, then that is what counts.

  7. jdub Says:

    Neemor, I’d say your are definitely going to go big. I put my money on it. We’ll get one at MSG and one out of Albany-port run, which should be considered a run. The rest I’m sure will be more than solid.

    And that’s the forcast folks, playing it safe here

  8. neemor Says:

    Intense writer?
    Chuck Palahniuk.
    I know that’s a rather pedestrina statement for the ‘readers’ here, but he’s the man.
    (Fear and Loathing)
    “If death meant just leaving the stage long enough to change costume and come back as a new character…Would you slow down? Or speed up?”

  9. jdub Says:

    Good question

  10. jdub Says:

    Slow down because I know I wouldn’t have to fit it all into this lifetime

  11. neemor Says:

    “i can predict that gloria estefon and the miami sound machine will join phish on new years for a half hour “come on everybody and do that conga”> “scarface theme song” > “la bamba” > “livin la vida loca”

    One of the reasons I’m so glad to be a part of this board.
    Thank you, Mr. Miner.

  12. jdub Says:

    We went big at Hartford this summer IMO

  13. Mr. Completely Says:

    @halcyon – unfortunately it’s often important to separate the message from the messenger. i hope for his sake he one day realizes how his actions have cheapened his work and lessened the reach of his ideas.

    I also find that his works span a very broad range of styles. I strongly prefer the more academic or theoretical books. They simply have more ideas in them, and the ideas are more distinct from his odd and overwhelming personality.

  14. KWL Says:

    the official word has come down: Blue Tusk will be open before and after the Cuse show.

    I hereby nominate the Tusk as official PT meet up spot (I don’t do the Facebook thing if someone wants to post it on there). Great beer selection, great music.

    I’ll be there, taking care of my ticket trade w/a fellow PTer and getting ready for the madness…

    Its right downtown, 165 Walton. Directly across the street is a really great brew pub, Empire. Bout half mile away from the venue.

    their message to me: ‘It’s on man, Tusk will be open and jammin’ out before and after the show!
    See ya there bro.’ Nice.

  15. Marshall Says:

    KWL – doing facebook won’t hurt you

  16. Marshall Says:

    Speaking of FB, anyone know why I don’t see either the Miners Thoughts or the Thank You pages when viewing via the iPhone App? It’s there via the browser.

  17. Marshall Says:

    Don’t answer. I’m just FB app challenged, that’s all. Night all.

  18. gratefulcub Says:


    Rant is the best thing I have read in years. It got me going on a Chuck P spree.

  19. gratefulcub Says:

    re: MSG tickets

    I have 2 for Thursday, and a co-worker is going to go with me for his first show.

    But, since I am here, and I have a train that will take me to the garden, I am thinking of riding over and seeing if I can get a solo ticket on Wednesday. Do you guys think that is a complete waste of time, or will there be a ticket available. thoughts?

  20. fromthetub Says:

    @grateful, there’s a good chance I’ll have extras for Wednesday.

  21. jdub Says:

    I haven’t read chuck Pahlaniak, don’t know too
    much about him. A phish biography is coming out soon which is sure to be a great read.

  22. sumodie Says:

    I have a solo Wed. that I need to dump, gratefulcub

  23. gratefulcub Says:

    I will definitely check back here closer to show day. thanks.

    I have no business going. I am taking friday off, and doing Thursday night right. But, taking off my suit, going to phish, training back home, sleeping a couple of hours, and getting up an putting the tie back on just sounds like……well, it sounds like a damn fine idea to me. If these jokers ever figure out who I am, I will be without a job.

  24. jdub Says:

    GC-Put it to you this way, if I can’t trade one of my wed ticket for thurs ticket then I will have to sell at the garden on wed

  25. sumodie Says:

    section 321 behind the stage -should be well placed for the rear speakers

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