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. gratefulcub Says:

    sumodie, I can’t say definitely I will go yet, but I will definitely check back with you guys closer to time

  2. KWL Says:

    I would bet there will be the most tickets Wednesday, decreasing on Thursday and further on Friday. But there will be tickets out there for all shows, I’d say…

  3. jdub Says:

    Nice one gratefulcub

  4. KWL Says:

    just picked up Wilber’s Brief History from my roommate’s bookshelf thanks to the earlier discussion. Gotta say, 5 pages in and he’s flat wrong on sex, gender, and feminism, but I will press on with an open mind… One great thing about this board is all the new stuff it has turned me on to, beyond just phish.

  5. jdub Says:

    “Men just want to either fuck it or kill it” something along those lines.

  6. KWL Says:

    geez, 7 pages in now and he has neatly justified rape, patriarchy, and worse…

  7. BTB Says:




    nite ya’ll. I’ve got to see this set list tomorrow. Good luck TIII

  8. Mr. Completely Says:

    @Robear – these is “must hear” stuff not deep cuts – all these shows would go in the first round of the Dead Show Fantasy Draft. Trying to spread them out across eras and styles or they’d all be Dark Stars from 72-74.

    3 unreleased/circulating shows
    9-19-70 Fillmore East – from Dark Star on

    2-24-74 Winterland – all time great Dark Star > Morning Dew caps a show epitomizing their strongest era.

    2-26-77 Swing Aud. – kind of a random top shelf ’77 show out of many. Jerry’s solo in Dancin’ is maybe my alltime favorite. It’s impossible to go wrong with any of the 3 night run 5-7/8/9-77 as well.

    Honorable mention: 12-18-73 Cleveland and 8-6-74 Roosevelt Stadium

    3 official releases (deadheads complain about the choices, but the fact is they’ve chosen a ton of the legit best shows from every era to release):

    Dick’s Pick 16 (11/2/69). Skip the first set completely. Second set is primal psychedelic Dead at their first improvisational peak.

    One From The Vault (8-13-75). Impeccable and unique. First thing I usually hand people.

    Dick’s Pick 18 (2-3 / 2-5-78) Scarlet > Fire, Other One can’t be beat.

    Honorable Mention: (2-13-70) – really better than DP16 but I’ve been listening to it for 23 years so it’s not my go to anymore – and Dick’s Pick 29 (5-19 and 5-21-77), just wow esp. the 2nd show

    Live/Dead ain’t bad
    Check out remastered Anthem of the Sun CD when you’re real high sometime
    and Greyfolded is an album that’s in my mediafire that’s worth hearing next time you hang with Lucy

  9. KWL Says:

    he obviously hasn’t read any ‘feminism’ outside of white western feminism, but I won’t say anything else until I have something good to say!

  10. Mr. Completely Says:

    uh @KWL if you think he’s actually justifying those things I’d say we have very different interpretations of his writing

    he attacks all systems that attempt to explain the world in terms of a single viewpoint

    thus the irony that he eventually became an example of such mental oppression in some ways, insisting that his totalizing system is different

  11. neemor Says:

    “back in my day we had to listen to maxells barefoot uphill both ways in the snow”
    -Mr. C.
    Love it.

  12. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    Afternoon Delight (Acoustic)*>
    Repetition (Nuance)**>
    Driving While Immersed***
    First Tubing>
    Making Plans
    Add It Up>
    Wanted Returns*****+>
    Phishermetrics (Evolution)+
    Antelope Pissing Contest++>

    Miami (Ga Ga)>
    Marx v. Adams^^
    Scattered Chatter^^^>
    Planning the Crown
    Making Calls^^^^>
    Burble Talk>
    History Lessons>
    Flip It^^^^^>
    Making Calls>
    XLIIs (interpolating Good News)
    Cobo (BDTH)

    Ticket Talk

    1st set contained discussion of Missing Paug throughout. Flow theme persisted as well with multiple references back to it in subsequent parts of the show eventually getting into deeper stuff altogether. Entire show benefitted from strong contributions by many today.
    * Taste the Fog Jam, Lottery teases, Companion tease
    ** NYC Bound Jam, Flow tease
    *** Shuge or Shaq tease
    **** Wook Down tease, Spreadsheet tease
    ***** Dead Gumbo tease
    + RR Mound Duel
    ++ Pats Colts teases
    ^ Transition was extended with several returns to PFT before eventually landing elsewhere
    ^^ Secret Smile tease, Deep Thoughts Jam
    ^^^ included Making Plans Jam
    ^^^^ Picture Pages tease
    ^^^^^ Backwards Jam on Mike’s theme


    I have to give a shout out to Marshall for his contributions today. He asked some thought provoking questions which really led the conversation in different directions. Whole Tour had some notable humrous interjections and the conversation that started “in the moment” eventually got us all the way to Wilber and other modes of thought. Kudos to GP420, jdub, Mr. C, and others who got us from there to here. I also enjoyed the duel between AW and Miner. Could have gone a number of ways but it eventually led to the two finding the point of the other somewhere near the middle.

    Another classic day all around!

  13. jdub Says:

    Nice list mr. C

    I particularly enjoy that may ’77 run as most heads do, the sound of the recordings are fantastic. The Barton Hall scarlet/fire is quite exceptional IMO , not to mention it was the year of my birth

  14. jdub Says:

    There is not much Wilber hasn’t read I

  15. neemor Says:

    If someone had the ability to PhotoShop a picture of Shuge and Shaq with a “?” somewhere in the mix playing one on one basketball, I’d own that tee shirt.
    Without a doubt.
    You guys are amazing.

  16. gratefulcub Says:

    I was saddened to see the lack of love that Marx got in his battle with Adams. Anyone that can have that many hits, make that much money, and have that little talent, deserves some respect.

    Anyone can be a superstar with songs as grand as summer of 69. But, to take the Marx songbook, a mullet, and cheesy overdramatic videos and turn it into a career, well that takes something special. Or, maybe it was just the 80’s.

  17. KWL Says:

    Mr C I’m only on p10, so i’m sure he will get around to taking apart those singular systems of thought. But so far he has his own singular system, and it is based on Darwin/biological evolutionism.

    I’m totally with the overall project as you have described it, I do something similar for a living. Not to make myself look righteous or anything, just to say that I’m committed to such a project.

    But seriously, ‘male’ and ‘female’ are pretty totalizing right off the get go, with ugly implications.

    And any notion of ‘stages of development’ seems pretty totalizing too, no? I mean, to condense all of human history into six stages? Sounds like the worst of modernity.

    ok, NOW I won’t say anymore until I have something nice to say. I’m sure there is a ton of value in his work, once I get past this little speed bump…

  18. jdub Says:

    Kwl, are you doing the MSG run

  19. jdub Says:

    Type iii, how long does it take you to do the setlist, you must keep running notes.

  20. KWL Says:

    @jdub, I am, yes

    @III nicely done

  21. KWL Says:

    think I got ya Mr C. My early take is that he is an epistemological pluralist (no one view explains the world, we need the best of them all) but an ontological monist (there is an underlying pattern or unity to the world, both physical and spiritual).

    I anticipate I will get hung up when he tells me that his particular brand of epistemological pluralism can explain that world (that is, I know how to combine diverse knowledges to make it all add up). Which is precisely what you were saying re: irony.

  22. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    Jdub, it depends on whether I get distracted at all. Usually takes about 30-45 minutes but longer days (25 pages or more) can take longer. I read it throughout the day so I know what is going on but I haven’t started taking notes yet. That’s crossing some kind of obsession line in my eyes.

  23. Robear Says:

    thx, Mr. C. Some of those I have, some I don’t. Such a vast catalog, it’s nice to hear other peeps favorites. I’m going to get 6/30/74 (GP’s suggestion) when I can. I had that Swing Aud. 2/26/77 on XLII 🙂 Time to find a better copy.

  24. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    G’night, all…

  25. Mr. Completely Says:

    your critique is perceptive, certainly

    the concept of stages of development (there are anywhere from 8 to around 15 depending on how precise he’s being being and what part of his career he was in when he wrote a given book) is, indeed, a totalizing concept. This is the fundamental irony, to be certain. At one point, he appeared to be well aware of it, and simply reconciled to the idea that any large map must in some sense have this quality. The idea of “integral” is that this meta-system incorporates the valid truths from many individual disciplines, each of which is correct in its own sphere but incorrect when applied outside its domain – by this logic if your meta-system encompasses, well, everything, then it will never be applied inappropriately.

    Indeed, this irony of a totalizing conceptual system attacking other thought systems for being totalizing is in fact the basis of his (imo terminally devastating) critique of postmodernist Critical Theory.

    his point re: biological evolution is not that it is the ultimate truth but that it is, nonetheless, truth – and must be respected in its own domain. So when academic theory says one thing, and science says another – and his summation of evolutionary developmental theory is correct – then theory must adjust to incorporate the facts or become irrelevant.

    However, FWIW my wife is a Women’s Studies masters degree holder and based on my conversations with her it actually seems like his argument is with an older and now less academically relevant generation of feminist academics – the idea that men and women are different in fundamental psychological (not just physical) ways, but still equal, is I think a generally accepted one.

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