The Man of Miami

12.30.09 (S.Williams)

Phish’s greatness emerges when the musical spotlight shines not on one band member, but the group as a whole. When Phish engages in top-notch improv, as in Miami, the notion of naming an “MVP” of the run seems absurd. Any musical heights reached directly results from the virtuoso mixture of four, rather than one all-star performer. The old adage that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts has never rang more true than with Phish. That being said, Mike Gordon annihilated Miami like a like a bass-driven assassin, owning his instrument in a display likening a musical Harlem Globetrotter. While leading most jams of the weekend, Mike cast down bass line after mind-expanding bass line, defined by his one-of-a-kind phrasing and unparalleled fluidity. From nuanced effects to ludicrous runs up and down the fretboard, Mike’s mastery jumped from the stage in Miami, and continues to surface with every shows’ re-listen.

12.28.09 (S.Williams)

When Phish decided to reunite, Mike returned to the band in the best musical shape of all. Hot off two acclaimed tours with The Mike Gordon Band, and having just scribed his first solo rock album, The Green Sparrow, Gordon came back to Phish already thumping. (His only other solo project was 2003’s Inside In, the soundtrack to his film “Outside Out,” with a host of guest musicians.) Gordon dedicated himself to his solo project, becoming a band leader for the first time, while playing his originals as well as an eclectic array of covers. Far more active than Trey, Page or Fish in 2oo8, Mike didn’t need the same adjustment period as the rest of the band.

12.30.09 (S.Williams)

But over the year of playing together, not only did Phish regain their band-wide communication skills, but Gordon grew from a beast into a musician that now has his way with his instrument like Michael Jordan crossing over Craig Ehlo. His playing steadily improved from summer to fall, and peaked over New Year’s Run in a superlative bass expose. Forging transcendent pathways in “Tweezer,” “Back on the Train,” Ghost,” and “Piper,” Mike left his mark on each of the weekends most successful jams. But not only did he guide the band through the astral plane, he also peppered their compositions and simpler songs with unique, ever-changing phrases in a non-stop display of creativity. Hell, he even improvised bass fills during “Auld Lang Syne!” All weekend long, Mike launched a personal, bass-led jihad on Vice City, romping around the neon-purple jungle as if a musical King Kong.

Throughout the run, Mike and Fish seemed very much on the same page, and when Phish is in the pocket, things begin to happen. Anchoring arena-sized grooves with a flair for the dramatic, Mike joined Fishman with diverse playing, ranging from chunky and buttery grooves to driving, jazzy and melodic patterns; always hitting that least-expected note to push the band exactly where they needed to go. While all four band members brought their A-game to Florida, Gordon shone with supreme originality and subconscious determination. Mike once described his ideal on-stage mind state, in quintessential Gordeaux fashion, as “half awake and half dreaming.” One can only assume he stood in between worlds for the duration of Miami’s four nights.

12.30.09 (S.WIlliams)

The greatest side effect of Mike’s passionate playing is how it pushes Trey’s imagination. Intertwining ideas in intricate musical passages throughout the run, the duo’s interplay provided the foundation for much of the band’s holiday improv. The greatest Phish jams tend to arise when Trey and Mike are locked in, perfectly complementing each other every step of the way, and this happened more than a few times in Miami. Beyond the weekend’s open-ended excursions, check out “Reba,” “Stash,” “Hood,” “Bowie,” “Slave,” or “Ocelot” for top-notch examples of two minds working as one.

Owning Miami like Tony Montana at the peak of his empire, Mike sat atop Little Cuba in a plush musical throne. With the band also atop of their game, the most engaging nights of the year seemed to materialize with relative ease and a whole lot of fun. But spinning these shows over and over again, new bass lines continue to emerge; the idiosyncratic building blocks of an unforgettable weekend.

12.30.09 (Photo: Shawn Williams)


Jam of the Day:

2001 > Slave” 12.29 II


The exclamation point on a phenomenal set.



…Will return tomorrow. Drop any requests that are not already in the audio archive into today’s comment thread or in an email to In addition, the fall and New Year’s shows, as well as some ’03 and ’04 – graciously uploaded by reader, Jon Gollatz – will be added to the archive within the next little bit. Cheers. Miner


12.30.03 (Photo: Wendy Rogell)

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334 Responses to “The Man of Miami”

  1. Sven Says:

    UIC 11/24/94 – Great second set

  2. ThePigSong Says:

    My wife and I also co-called that Fluff. I think that moment will forever be pinnacle Phish for me.

  3. Ocelot42 Says:

    Yeah, I popped the first Hampton show on during lunch today just to hear that crowd swell as Fluffhead starts. Listening to the whole show right now, actually.

  4. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    I was completely wrong on the first song back call. I thought they’d come out and do some Kenny G covers or maybe something by Michael Bolton or Michael McDonald. Totally fooled me.

  5. beepaphone Says:

    Or Richard Marx’s “right here waiting for you”

  6. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    or maybe some acoustic songs by Escape

  7. Mr. Completely Says: obv

  8. marcoesq Says:

    or Xtreme

  9. marcoesq Says:

    Definitely thought it was gonna be “Every rose has it’s thorn”

    Acoustic set complete with Bret Michaels in full leather

  10. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    damn! I meant Xtreme, not Escape. I have no idea who Escape actually is.

    HA! just googled and apparently it’s a Journey “tribute” band. even better…

  11. beepaphone Says:

    I’m still waiting on my hetty Enya encore

    a capella “sail away”

  12. ThePigSong Says:

    Thanks to whoever was talking about Kenny G the other day – subsequently leading me to The Dead Kenny G’s

    really digging bewildered herd.

  13. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    surprised they never did any enya during a vocal jam.

  14. voopa Says:

    I’ll gladly bash KG anytime. No prob, PigSong.

  15. Mitch Says:

    ID LOVE TO GET THAT SHOW, AUD OR SBD, ANY FLAVOR WILL DO! THANKS! gorgemango at facemelt dot net. I’m looking for the 14th as well if you have it.

    ““Get the Fuck away from me.” Great player but a total asshole.”
    ^really? dropping f-bombs at 14 year olds? weak.

  16. ThePigSong Says:

    I’ve gotta ask again, is Zappa Plays Zappa actually worth $40?

    just curious I guess, ’cause I know I’m not going to convince the house-guests to throw down that much cash…

  17. beepaphone Says:

    While you’re at it send it my way too: rblack at greenwaysupply dot net

    appreciate it.

  18. chefbradford Says:

    “The Hashishim (Assassins), who derived their name from the vast quantities of ‘hashish’ they consumed, were unique among vicious killers in being both deadly and, at the same time, inclined to giggle, groove to interesting patterns of light and shade on their terrible knife blades and, in extreme cases, fall over”
    -Terry Pratchett, fantasy/satire/children’s author

    Also, since I’ve seen Miner refer to them as musical assassins, perfectly describes Phish

  19. marcoesq Says:

    K fellas, give me a few minutes. Gotta upload

  20. BTB Says:

    For those of you with Miami SBD’s, there is a guy yelling Tela right after they played the song. As in, end of song, guy yells, “TELA” at the top of his lungs.


  21. Mitch Says:

    “I had no idea Marc Daubert was a member of Phish. Weird. “36 hour music, alcohol and drug binge” – SOAM, are you Marc Daubert???”

    I’m still on the first chapter of the phish bio but i’m not sure all the facts in that article are correct. I’m pretty sure I read that Tom wrote I am Hyrdrogen with trey for example. I’ll read more closely when I get home on the details of this dude. I think he was just in their grade… Maybe what I’m remembering is overlapping.. there are a lot of names in that first chapter that run together since they aren’t normal names when talking about phish.

  22. Mitch Says:

    dude wanted them to play it again, hes been so used to yelling it all year. TELA REPRISE!!

  23. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    yeah, I caught that too, BTB. However, I much prefer the guy during the 12.28 show who was yelling (right before Roggae): “Fucking Tela, goddamn it!” that just screams classy. and original.

  24. Mitch Says:

    or maybe he was so happy they finally played it. we’ve all been there at a show. overcome to the point of hooping and hollering. id have yelled FLUFFHEAD after the hampton one if i wasnt too busy high fiving all my friends.

  25. pagesidehighschool Says:

    good post minor! I really think Gordo’s solo tour this past fall is why he’s been on fire! I’ve only heard a few shows, but they’re all good, especially the cities in Wisconsin. I use to hate on solo tours cause it meant no phish shows for a while, but i think now after hearing the results it has on phishs’ playing as a whole, i’m all for it. lets see….. Gordo(Fall): Check, Trey(Early Spring): Check, Vida: Page gets an extended vacation to reflect on how awesome he is! Pork Tornado (Now-Summer Tour): plenty of time to work out!

    side note: do you think the electrolux is really gone forever? What’s next, Pants!?

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