From Darkness Into Light

Big Cypress Poster

Darkness and light, opposite symbols that go to the very core of cultural mythology. The psychedelic journey often mirrors these poles, taking one from the eye of the beast to the most glorious, self-realizing peaks. Staring down the dark side in order to most clearly see the light of one’s new self. While Phish regularly condenses these introspective rites into three-hour sessions, on one occasion they had all night. In the swamps of Florida, on the brink of 2000, Phish finally had the setting to match their goal – an all-night affair with no restraints. In the Clifford Ball DVD extras, filmed in 1996, the band spoke of the “LG,” or the “Long Gig” they envisioned one day, where the band would just keep playing and playing, outlasting even the fans who stayed all night and beyond. They claimed it would happen; they’d get port-potties onstage, and one day they’d play their “Long Gig;” it was the ultimate goal. While the band exaggerated in typical fashion throughout the interview, the glimmer in their eyes told a different story. Through their goofy looks and hyperbole, one can see the sincerity behind their claims. They meant it. And finally, on December 31, 1999, Phish had their “LG.”

Big Cypress - 12.31.99

In their 1996 interview, Trey pondered what type of music the band would play after 60 or 70 hours straight. Well on this night, eight would have to be the test. And the results were other worldly. Producing jams that were connected by a certain ethereal quality, like a patient thread splicing together the band’s divine musical offerings. Without time constraints, and armed with their port-o-potty, Phish played as the spirit moved, extending jams as long as felt natural. While no single piece of music broke any record, (somewhat surprisingly), the night included many extended jams, first highlighted by the night’s opening features of “Disease,” “Bathtub Gin,” and a sublime “Twist > Caspian” which truly began to set the musical tone for the evening. Following next came one of the nights longer, thematic and defining jams, “Rock and Roll.”

The darkest chunk of the night kicked off with a scorching “Crosseyed,” which carried a melodic progression throughout the jam, and peaked with a percussive 40-minute apocalyptic grooves of “Sand > Quadraphonic Toppling,” bringing the many climactic late ’99 versions to an unquestionable head. Resolving this darkness with a multi-tiered “Slave,” the band commenced the jam without even a beat remaining until it became time to move. Phish let is all hang down on this night, playing a macrocosm of any regular show, we all finally had a place to be instead hallucinating in hotel rooms until the sun came up.

The Beginning of "Roses" (D.Clinch)

Perhaps the most connected piece of music came in the depths of the evening, as the band brought a reprise of “After Midnight” into one of the most hallowed musical passages of their career – set and setting considered. Powerful, soulful, music, channelled from the ether, where every note mattered as much as the next. The final peak of the night came as the sky began to turn a dark grey, foreshadowing the oncoming day. Phish sat into “Roses Are Free” for one of few times since their epic Nassau adventure in April ’98, but never had they again transcended the composition. But when they unshelved the song on the brink of dawn to bring in the millennium’s first sunrise, everyone knew this time would be different. Moving right out of the song into multi-faceted epic, the band passed through several planes of ambient, melodic, and, finally, deeply dark and churning music. The ultimate stage seemed as though the universe’s final plates were shifting into alignment for the onset of the new era.

Before the sun began to rise in earnest, the sky boasted stunning patterns of pink puffy clouds that nobody who witnessed will ever forget. Phish and the forces were at work again, this time collaborating on a soundtrack for the passage of time. And while that is what the entire night represented, the entry back into morning’s light boiled down to the second-only “Roses” jam.

And it was good.

Almost eight hours, or a lifetime later, Phish had finally done it. They had played their “LG.”


“The Long Gig” – Clifford Ball Extras, 1996


Jam of the Day:

Roses Are Free” 12.31.99 > 1.1.00

Here’s the epic piece that brought darkness into the dawn of the millennium, and a sampling of the newly circulating Cypress FOB source, taboot.




7.7.1999 Verizon Wireless Amp, Charlotte, NC < Torrent

7.7.1999 Verizon Wireless Amp, Charlotte, NC < Megaupload

Verizon - Charlotte

Continuing our tour of Summer 2010 venues, here’s Phish’s stop in Charlotte in the Summer of ’99. The second set really brings the heat with its 35 minute “2001 > Disease” and grows more abstract with some ambient sound-sculpting out of “My Left Toe.” After a guitar-driven “Bug,” a catalog of Phish grooves closes the night in one of the summers most infectious “YEMs.”

I: Back on the Train, What’s the Use?, Billy Breathes, My Mind’s Got a Mind of its Own, Sneakin’ Sally through the Alley, Axilla, Rift, Wolfman’s Brother,  Maze, Loving Cup

II: 2001 > Down with Disease,  My Left Toe > Wading in the Velvet Sea > My Left Toe > Bug, You Enjoy Myself

E: Possum* > Funky Bitch*

*Derek Trucks on slide guitar

Source: Schoeps cmc6/mk4v > Lunatec V2 > Tascam DA-P1 (@ 48 kHz)

Tags: , , ,

963 Responses to “From Darkness Into Light”

« Previous12345678...3839Next »
  1. Chuck D Says:

    BTB BBQ is going to turn in to the BTB BBQ Massacre when some PCP filled w00k thinks your a big black furry creature from mars…

  2. jdub Says:

    Wonderful Cypress reflection Miner. As I sit and drink an early morning coffee with eerie cloud patterns outside I can’t think of a better way to enjoy the after glow of Lucy than that Roses with pink bubbly clouds. Way to put me their even though I wasn’t.

  3. oldskool Says:

    hey guys,

    Haven’t been around too much lately as I have been totally consumed with work. But I wanted to say hey and comment on Cypress. It was a magical weekend and a truly transcendent musical experience.
    Minor, wonderful job capturing the nuances of the experience 🙂

  4. Willowed Says:

    This was a masterpiece Miner.
    Nice work!

  5. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    very evocative piece today, Miner. definitely one that can bring a person right back there.

  6. Marshall Says:

    Could it be that a Big Cypress Long Gig – Big Long Box DVD/Blu-ray set is finally on the way …. could it be? Miner?

  7. hoedown Says:

    Oh what a night that was. I’ll never forget all the people passed out throughout the concert around 3-4 in the morning. I couldn’t understand how people could not hang in there and “last”. Guess they over did it early in the day/weekend. Or maybe the under-did-it. :). Good morning BB.

  8. stash Says:

    it’s impossible to be at every incredible gig, experience, show or event – clifford ball, cypress, woodstock ’69, burning man, birth of a kid…. but man, the one’s we each have make us who we are. i’m just glad that we can share the emotion that each event brings to each of us.

    it’s the events in our lives that makes the journey. keep on….

  9. JerZ Says:

    I was listening to the Crosseyed and Sand yesterday. It was awesome. I also took a listen to the “Light up and leave me alone”. I really recommend checking that out today if it has been a while for anyone reading this. Page’s vocals are soooo soulful and the jam that comes out of it is so tight. Take a listen if you get the chance- it will blow your mind

  10. tela'smuff Says:

    thanks for bringing me back Miner. The jam that still resonates the most with me is Sand>Quadrophoninc Topplings. I can still rmemeber that moment like it was yesterday. BC was and will always be the pinnacle of Phish. A lot of personal favortie versions that night incl. Twist, Drowned, Roses, Sand, Crosseyed and Y.E.M.

  11. hoedown Says:

    Bug was the sickness as well imo. Also love the 2001 with that sweet reggae-ish break down in the middle. So many amazing memories. I was very intrigued by the enchanted forest or whatever it was called.

  12. stash Says:

    jerz – that light is so good. the jam is awesome. it was the first time i heard that song. the ghost from that set it great too.

    you gotta love the show opener though… “filter out the everglades…” phish is always on top of things.

  13. Stir it with a Ladle Says:

    took me back ten years to roses, thanks miner

  14. Little Buddy Says:

    What a special night. Miner certainly hit many of the high points with eloquence. Thanks for our reflection, Mr. M.

    @hoedown – I’m with you. Bug really grabbed me on this night. It’s been a special song to me ever since. Same with Albuquerque.

  15. BTB Says:

    I’ve jammed the Cypress ‘Bug’ 50 times – for some reason that song sounded great coming off that stage.

  16. SillyWilly Says:

    Morning, all.

    chilling write-up today, Miner.

    Makes me sad I was too young to be there.

  17. Matso Says:

    The jamming that morning resembles but surpasses the Flat Bed jam from Clifford Ball, the Ambient jam at Lemonwheel, and a lot of the Festival soundcheck jams from over the years. I like the idea of a “family resemblance” between all of these suites; in other words, there share certain recognisable characteristics, but each also evolved into something different, shaped by its unique context and the development of the band’s playing over time.

    The family resemblance is that the jams are flowing, unconstrained, patient and egoless. As Trey described Big Cypress, it was like “breathing”.

    I would argue that this resemblance arises partially from the open-endedness of the context (although this is less true for soundcheck jams) and partially from an absence of audience expectation. The Flat Bed and Ambient jams were quite explicitly a departure from normal jamming and the context prepared the audience for that. A similar “anything goes” approach applies to soundcheck jams (Note: I did not refer to the Tower Jam above although this falls into the explicit “departure from the norm” category. The Tower jam is very deliberate in how it eschews a normal rock/funk/ambient texture for something far more disonant and therefore feels and sounds different to the jams I’ve highlighted. In other words, it’s not part of the same family).

    It’s a bit counter-intuitive to suggest that there was an absence of audience expectation for the Midnight set at Big Cypress; this set possibly had bigger expectations tied to it than any other set ever! But ultimately the open-ended nature of the set, the need to fill 7 hours with music, the instinctual recognition by the band that they couldn’t possibly bring every jam to a peak point and the (again) counter-intuitive intimacy of Big Cypress stripped away those expectations. “It’s just us again” said Trey after Heavy Things, one big family with a long story behind it, for a moment free of all expectations of each other.

    But the open-ended (perhaps immortal) nature of that set also meant that the threat of the end of the set (or death) was not there to give the jams a sense of urgency that oftens leads to, in my opinion, the most powerful experiences. As Miner notes, the band transcended Roses are Free again for the first time since the Island Run. But what a difference in how they did it. I love both versions, but if the Island Run Roses is a moment of complete lucid self-realisation, then the Big Cypress Roses is a blissful moment of loss of self. My personal preference is for the former, even if I also recognise the sublimity of the latter.

    On another, less exalted note, a strange Cypress memory just came to me: I remember a girl with nothing on below her waist being carried out by two security guards during the composed section of Reba. She was screaming her head off in a real “I’m having a bad trip” kind of way. We had a crew of Japanese fans right in front of us who didn’t seem to know what to make of it. We recovered from our shock a little bit faster than they did and quickly moved to reassure our new friends that everything was ok. Then the Reba jam started and it was all good.

  18. Angryjoggerz Says:

    From last night, Butter said:
    but yes it is different and i didn’t marry into the “wrecking crew”

    I had to laugh. My friends and I always referred to the Uhaul tour kids as wrecking crew as well. Nothing nastier than the back of that Uhaul opening up and 10 dogs and 10 billion headlice come jumping out.

  19. marcoesq Says:

    morning all, great piece Miner..gets me all fired up!

    I love how you can kind of morph your pieces from conversations we have on here from previous days. It’s as if you are an improvisational genius yourself!

  20. marcoesq Says:

    And yes, the After Midnight jam is definitely my favorite of the night, it brings so much emotion to me every time

  21. Mdawg Says:

    I am still waiting for the LG! The LG would be EPIC!

  22. fat bastard Says:

    “nothing i see can be taken from me!”

  23. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    without even factoring in extended jamming, how long do you think it would take them to run through every song in their catalog? I’m not talking the one time covers but songs that we all attribute as being in the phish canon.

    also, nice comment, Matso. I believe that the flow of the jamming at BC is directly related to that lack of urgency

  24. verno329 Says:

    Checked out the YEM through Slave last night for the first time in a long time and it was great. Definitely will be revisiting soon.

    My favorite part of the “LG talk” was Marley’s appearance. The cheers for Marley’s mention during one of Trey’s speeches at Coventry was pretty neat.

  25. marcoesq Says:

    Wow Matso, I just read your post and that is a fantastic description of the power of the music that night

    Where exacctly where you standing? I somewhat remember someone freaking out on or around the time of Reba and I’m trying to see if it was the same thing.

    We were (far) Page side, about 50ft in front of the sound tower and 200ish ft from the wall

« Previous12345678...3839Next »

Leave a Reply