Aside from all of the significance Miami ’09 posed for the future, it also hailed as the ten year anniversary of Big Cypress, the culmination of Phish’s career at that point, and the most profound night of music in the band’s history. Phish, themselves, have said they didn’t know where to turn when they stepped off that stage – what could possibly top that? December 30, and more specifically, December 31, 1999, represent holy days in the annals of Phish history. The band channeled a greater energy as time turned into 2000, through a night of musical perfection. Y2k madness overtook America, except in the swamps of Florida, where things transformed into an experience of a lifetime.
Rumors swirled earlier in 2009 about a return to The Everglades for an anniversary weekend, but landing close by in Miami had nobody complaining. Throughout the weekend, Cypress memories flooded our minds and conversations, and I’ve got to imagine the band’s as well. As friends and I sat on the beach listening to the Cypress “Roses” as the sun rose on December 31, an incredible synchronicity existed as morning broke into the spiritual anniversary. Ten years later, who would have predicted we’d be in Florida again with Phish to ring in the next decade? But there we were, recalling the unmatchable majesty of that weekend a decade ago in our lives, while living new memories.
Throughout the four Miami shows, Phish made musical reference to the festival more than a few times, but the following moments seemed to be clear nods to the band’s legendary millennial performance.
“Heavy Things” 12.29 II
Deep into an enchanting Phish set, the band playfully toyed with “Jibboo,” weaving in and out of “Wilson” in a calisthenic groove-a-thon. And when the band settled back into “Jibboo,” they seemed headed for the song’s ending. But instead, Trey kept the band moving, segueing relatively smoothly into “Heavy Things.” At first it seemed completely random, and then upon second thought, completely appropriate. Ten years earlier, ABC featured an awkward guest spot from Big Cypress, the millennium’s largest concert. The song Phish played for the national audience was “Heavy Things,” birthing the entire “Cheesecake” theme of the Cypress and beyond. When the band showcased the song amidst, arguably, the set of the this year’s run, one couldn’t help draw parallels. As the band took their pop single for a scintillating ride, “Heavy Things” never sounded so good, providing a soaring interlude in a non-stop set
“Sand” 12.30 II
Among the many colossal jams of the all-night set, none were more ominous than “Sand’s” forty-minute apocalyptic groove clinic. In the depths of the evening, the band went on a culminating rhythmic trek, bringing the stellar run of late-’99 “Sands” to a outlandish peak. With sinister licks and millennial sheets of sound, Trey let loose over thick layers of groove. Reaching sublime portions of improv and morphing with the ambient-melodic “Quadrophonic Toppling,” the Cypress “Sand” is the consensus best-ever, as far as conversations I’ve ever had. Interestingly, when the band opened the the 30th’s second set with “Sand,” the style of jamming resembled a millennial feel, albeit a bit toned down. Gnarling guitar leads grew more abstract as the piece developed, evoking memories of ’99s dissonant psychedelia. While clearly not in the same ballpark as the Cypress version, Miami’s bust-out of “Sand” likened a collective memory of a night long ago while soaring into the future.
“Corrine, Corrina” 12.30 I
Played out of nowhere on December 30, 1999, in the opening set of of the weekend, Phish broke out the “Corrina” for the first time in ten years at Big Cypress. Though they played the song twice within the “aughts,” the bust out of the traditional cover on the 30th in Miami – ten years to the day – seemed like obvious evidence that Phish had Cypress on their mind. A staggeringly beautiful rendition showcased the band’s enhanced soul and lyrical ability, as well as their nuanced improvisation that characterized the New Year’s Run. At this mature stage of the game, “Corrina” sounded more natural than ever coming from the band.
“Auld Lang Syne > Down With Disease” 12.31.III
While Phish may have played “Disease” at midnight one way or another this year, its inclusion in such an allegorical weekend had significance any way it’s sliced. Inserted in the iconic slot after “Auld Lang Syne” – exactly as it was ten years earlier – “Disease” brought in the New Year for the first time since our spiritual sojourn in the swamps. One of the band’s career-defining anthems, “Disease” re-emerged in 2009 as a central launchpad for Phish, and its midnight placement acknowledged its role in 2009 as much as anything. Featuring the band’s first great jam of the era in Hampton, “Disease” has been one of the most consistent pieces of improv last year. As the life-sized disco ball sat center stage, shooting a million beams of light around the arena, and oversized balloons danced to the celebratory rhythms, all had come full circle. We were once again careening into the future with the Phish from Vermont.
Jam of the Day:
“Stash” 12.28.09 I
A fierce chunk of darkness amidst the first set of the run.
DOWNLOADS OF THE DAY:
Here is an alternate Schoeps source for the Miami run from taylorc to go along with padlimike’s recordings. Everyone hears things differently, so download both, and take your choice. I find these to be a bit of an upgrade with a thicker bottom end that really pops; some very full-sounding recordings. You can use this week’s “Jams of the Day” to sample this source.
Source: Schoeps mk41 > KC5 > M222 > NT222 > Lunatec V3 > SD 722 (@24bit/48kHz)