Musings In a New Year

12.31.09 - Miami (Photo: Wendy Rogell)

Almost a week later, all I can think about is Miami; what a phenomenal run! Over the last three nights of the year, Phish took an impressive step towards permanently regaining top form. Like King Midas, everything the band touched turned to gold throughout the waning nights of the “aughts,” leaving the band’s early-summer growing pains as time-washed memories. The band had IT once again – at least for these nights – and could do no wrong. With all four players at the top of their game, Phish converged in celebration of now, with seven sets of the most encouraging music we’ve heard thus far.

12.30.09 (S.Williams)

Each moment unfolded with a patient luster, each measure given equal attention, in a series of particularly confident performances. With each member fluidly owning their instrument, the band’s collective focus centered on musical conversation. Sure, this is always the goal of improvisational music, but it hasn’t always been so routine this year. In Miami, the proficiency and the subtlely with which Phish exchanged ideas, blew most of the year’s dynamic out of the water. There have been many outstanding nights of music throughout the year, from March through December, but the way the band so clearly listened and responded to each others’ every move created a far enhanced dynamic down in Florida. And lo and behold, several of 2009’s top-shelf jams grew from this final weekend.

12.29.09 (W.Rogell)

More legitimate action and interplay existed within Miami’s music. Unlike many straight-forward, high-energy jaunts of the summer and fall, these multi-dimensional jams had layers, themes, plateaus, and peaks; psychedelic intricacies. Stuff like “Tweezer > Caspian,” “Back On the Train,” “Ghost,” and “Rock and Roll > Piper,” all contained completely unique, superlative improvisation, while most every other launchpad showed up in shining form; not to mention the many bust-outs played impeccably. Going light on their ornate compositions, the band stuck with “Divided Sky,” “Curtain (With),” “Guyute,” and “Fluffhead,” and slayed them all, minus “Fluff.” But, hey, that one’s excusable since they had a different drummer.

Showcasing their full repertoire over four nights, Phish punctuated their comeback year triumphantly, illustrating prodigious growth over 2009. Building off their momentum of late-fall, the band played three consecutive nights of the year’s most exceptional music. Before Miami, these flashes of brilliance came in songs, sets, and, occasionally, whole shows. But for the first time in 2009, Phish brought the absolute fire for three consecutive nights – six sets in a row. And don’t be calling out Red Rocks or MSG – they were certain stepping stones, but this was a whole ‘nother ball game. Miami completely changed the landscape as we turn to 2010.

12.31.09 (W.Rogell)

Having regained their swagger in full force, Phish seems destined to blast into this new decade with renewed creativity and conviction. With a year of touring under their belt, the band has fully regained their sea legs, returning to form as the psychedelic juggernauts we once knew. And the best part about the current situation is that they seem as ecstatic as we are about these developments. With solo tours planned, rumors bubbling about summer and beyond, and “tapes” we can’t put down again, the Phish universe is bursting with energy and moving at full speed once again.

They want us to be happy. Well – so far, so good.

12.31.09 (Photo: Wendy Rogell)


Jam of the Day:

Boogie Like An Antelope” 12.30 II


Run Like A Reggae Woman.



12.28.09 American Airlines Arena < Torrent

12.28.09 American Airlines Arena < Megaupload

12.28.09 (S.Williams)

I: Sample in a Jar, NICU, My Soul, Roggae, Undermind, Bouncing Around the Room, Poor Heart, Stash, I Didn’t Know, Beauty of a Broken Heart, Possum

II: Mike’s Song > Light > I Am Hydrogen > Weekapaug Groove, Alaska, Backwards Down the Number Line, Makisupa Policeman > Harry Hood, Contact, Character Zero

E: First Tube

Source: Sennheiser MD441U > Edirol R4Pro ( Oade preamp mod ) @ 24/88.2 (Taper – padelimike)

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1,024 Responses to “Musings In a New Year”

  1. Mr. Completely Says:

    lol so everything except the very best parts?

  2. jay Says:

    pull of tour is real strong. Like a spirit wisp oh the willow caressing you forward. Hard to think of anything else. Nothing else matters. What a great feeling.

  3. voopa Says:


    must hears:

    hell, check it all

  4. Leo Weaver Says:

    @gus…keep workin’ on those keys, you’ve got some talent. Yeah, you might wanna lock yourself in your room for a couple of days and give those MIami shows front to back listens…3 or 4 times should get’cha started. I can’t get enough!

  5. Leo Weaver Says:

    YOu got it Jay! Damn real life gettin’ in the way again…

  6. jay Says:

    real life always gets in the way of real living.

  7. Mr. Completely Says:

    Mediafire is back up. If you’re interested in ’77 Dead and don’t mind a mix playlist with fairly invasive edits (segues), check out
    for the band at the stompin’, swaggerin’ top of their game. There’s no open improvisation but plenty of hot contained jamming, and just a shitload of Jerry shred and massive Phil bombs and the band in general firing on all cylinders – the crest of the last great wave they rode. There were still many great shows to come, but nothing like this ever happened again.

    Longer writeup with context is on p12 from today.


    @Lycan – jay’s picks from a couple pages ago are amazing, he reminded me of a few treasures I haven’t touched in years, thanks for that Jay.

    I would start with the Scarlet > Fire disk from the ’78 DP and the Eyes/Playin > Scarlet > Playin disk from the summer ’74 one, if you haven’t finished going back through the comments yet. Do watch out for Donna on the Playin’s though. Buzzkill city.

  8. Mr. Completely Says:

    ’77 Dead isn’t my favorite Dead, but that mix is my favorite ’77 Dead.

    It’s their 1994, basically.

  9. stitchstash Says:

    I had to step away for a bit but Mr C’s words resonated with me so much that it required me to further reflect on them. Mr C., for some reason I didn’t see the post where you had mentioned losing a friend. What a terrible thing to have happen. I’m sorry to hear about that. I have also lost a few friends along the way to drugs and alcohal. I hope some of the younger readers take to heart what you just wrote. *Oddly enough I knew what Miners 11 meant out of context. I can see how you like 8. That is my favorite #. It makes me think of infinity.

    My advice to the young guns: It is great to have goals and direction, but you must also learn to recognize the path you do not wish to travel down.

  10. Mr. Completely Says:

    The only thing that could keep me from doing all of Summer ’10 Phish tour at this point is my family, the fact that they depend on me. I had a tour life already, but I’d be a lot better at it now.

  11. jay Says:

    Thanks for the 77 dead mix. I love dead mix tapes 🙂

  12. voopa Says:

    “It is great to have goals and direction, but you must also learn to recognize the path you do not wish to travel down.”


  13. gus Says:

    “lol so everything except the very best parts?”

    Mr. C – i think I may have worded what I said wrong. what i was trying to say was that I haven’t heard anything from miami EXCEPT for the tweezer, boogie like an antelope and back on the train, which i have heard.

  14. jay Says:

    it’s the only thing keeping me off tour this summer. kinda promised the better half I would make it happen child wise.

  15. stitchstash Says:

    I feel like I’m in the same boat. I love Phish but I love my family more. I’d miss my kids way too much to be gone from them any longer than a weekend. I’m not sure if I’d be better on tour now that I’m older or not. I care to much about things now. Such as, where are we sleeping? Can I take a shower? Do I have enough money for food? All things that did not matter before I had kids.

  16. Mr. Completely Says:

    thanks for your words. at the time my reply to Miner’s kind thoughts was a little lighthearted, because I was in the middle of things, and not really reflecting upon it. However as the day has passed I find myself thinking of John and the sadness of those days so I welcome your kind thoughts.

    I tell crazy stories on here all the time and sometimes I do wonder how well understood it is that I don’t think I was living the right life in those days. Believe it or not I have actually never told most of my really extreme stories on here. I hold back much more than I tell. I know that probably sounds ridiculous. My friends and I were extremely aggressive in our approach to what we thought of as the outlaw life. We aimed from the start to go large and we succeeded. But it basically destroyed everyone. I mean destroyed.

    I rebuilt myself. Faster, stronger, better. So did a couple others, in various ways. But most are gone. A few might still come back. A few more are still circling the edge.

    The point is that we didn’t have to do it that way.

    We didn’t always have to have more. Hold the biggest stash, make the biggest deal, get with the most girls, drop the biggest dose, see the most shows. That’s all bullshit. It’s not about that at all. We did those things and scored those points and it meant nothing.

    Less than nothing. It robbed the shows of their magic.

    So I enjoy telling kooky tour stories and I’m still sitting on a giant stack of ’em, but I hope it’s clear when I tell ’em that I’m basically calling myself out for being a fool.

    They say wisdom is learning from the mistakes of others. If that’s true, some of you have a chance at wisdom. I mostly just have hard-learned lessons. And scars, and memories.

  17. stitchstash Says:

    Jay, good luck! Who knows, you may have just as much fun at home!

  18. Mr. Completely Says:

    well Jay if there was ever a Dead mix that’s perfect for makin’ babies, it’s that one, so enjoy!

    more seriously, I remember you describing your family situation and I continue to wish you luck.

    @stich well said. for me, the concern about those things would make tour better, ’cause I’d plan ahead and roll in style, and have the resources to make that happen.

  19. jay Says:

    all your lessons I learned the hard way myself. I was also a dumbass and feel blessed that I survived as well. Still have friends circling that black hole. One I lost last summer/early fall to an O.D.

    When that happened I just hugged my girl real tight and said “by the grace of god…”. It is so true that it does not have to be that way at all. It is not what is important. I think deep down I knew the music was first and foremost the important thing and that saved me.

  20. Mr. Completely Says:

    me too Jay.

    whenever things were so far gone I could barely remember why I was even at the shows anymore, when the shows had become steppingstones to all those other foolish things – Jerry would reach me, out of nowhere, and remind me about the source.

    For some reason I heard Comes a Time a whole lot more often than I should have, statistically. Sometimes I think they were trying to tell me something. Other times I think I just got lucky.

    Hell of a song to hear when you high and not happy with who you are.

    Glad you made it through.

  21. Mr. Completely Says:

    anyone who is reading all these sad stories

    I still stick with what I said before: it is the best thing ever, being on tour, young, and free.

    It’s just that we didn’t do it right, not all the time at least. You can do better. Maybe you already have. I did, sometimes – I had whole tours that passed blissfully.

    Don’t want anyone reading this and thinking tour is a huge fucking downer. It isn’t.

  22. jay Says:

    glad you made it through as well mrC. For me it was Black Peter that haunted me. That song will always have a special place in my heart. Songs can be powerful.

  23. stitchstash Says:

    Mr C. Your words carry such emotion and I feel your sentiment. You had a different approach to life than me, but I can sense that we have shared similar life experiences. Hopefully this summer we can swap some stories. But only funny good ones, that make us laugh! I often find myself holding back as well. I try to keep to Phish, but as I get to know all of you better, I can’t help but stray. You guys are more than just a Phish blog, your part of my Phish phamily. I can’t wait to meet some of you and boogie down with you guys this summer! Just say No to the Lawn!

  24. jay Says:

    yea, I concur. those 7 years that I was doing 30-40 shows a year was absolutely the best time of my life. By far. I highly recommend it to everyone. The pile of good stories towers over the pile of bad stories (even though the bad story pile is still too high).

  25. Gus Says:

    lemme just say, in all FOUR shows I’ve been to this year I’ve had nothing but positive experiences. which is great considering I’m new to this kind of stuff. I say this now, and I really mean it, I will try as hard as I can to stay away from bad drugs. I never want to have to go through that.

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