Relivin’ Indio

10.30.09 - Indio (G.Lucas)

If someone told me ten years ago that we would be reliving Phish shows in 3D movie theatres in 2010, I would have dismissed the idea a futuristic fantasy that belonged in Back to the Future II. But lo and behold, only a decade later, we find ourselves right here. Capitalizing on the newest fad in cinematic technology, Phish 3D, an audio collage of Festival 8 from Indio, California, is now showing in an exclusive one-week engagement around the nation. While fans have given mixed reviews of the feature length film, I felt the concert experience translated quite well to the big screen and beyond, providing a lasting memoir of an unforgettable weekend.

Indio Pollock

Split into three sections, nighttime Phish footage, the acoustic set, and the Halloween set, one obvious strength of Phish 3D is the film’s willingness to cover full songs from beginning to end, as opposed to the usual excerpts documentary-based features include. Without any narration, interviews, or external perspectives, Phish 3D allows the viewer to fully soak in the live concert experience. (I kept thinking that the film would be an excellent introduction to Phish for someone who has never seen the band and isn’t sure they could stomach a show.) Within a society catered to short attention spans, the extensive, uncut footage provided a relief from the modern era of sound bites and highlight reels. The ability to watch the band communicate and develop jams from such an intimate perspective provided a novel viewpoint for those not glued to the rail every show. Watching their eyes lock during the music and their seeing their expressions during peak moments provided a wholly divergent experience. Given the on-stage perspective of a fifth band member, one gained a virtual, first hand point-of-view of the band’s interpersonal dynamics and stage set up, things that  I, personally, never see during a show. Phish 3D allowed  most to view Indio from an 180-degree different perspective than the actual show, and the two together formed a complete experience. And with the crowd-perspective shots, it often felt like we were right on the plush fields again.

The track selection for the opening segment of the movie couldn’t have been better, featuring an opening run of “AC/DC Bag,” “Stealing Time,” “Undermind,” “Tweezer > Maze,” and “Mike’s,” all complete and uncut. “Tweezer > Maze” stood out as the highlight of this sequence, as it did at the show; and with the varying stage shots of the band slaughtering the jam provided a completely an all-encompassing visual experience. Trey’s passion translated vibrantly throughout the film, and especially during “Tweezer,” as his spirited playing matched his animated and fiery demeanor. Following the “Tweezer > Maze,” the movie didn’t slow down, choosing “Mike’s” as the final jam of the opening section. Any time I can go to the movies and see uncut 3D versions of “Tweezer” and “Mike’s” – it’s a win-win in my book!

The Acoustic Set (G. Lucas)

The second segment of the film featured brief non-stage footage, something the film could have used more of, before showing an extended excerpt from Sunday morning’s acoustic set. The clarity of the audio matched the clarity of the video in a pristine remembrance of a modern morning of lore. While this section may have incorporated one too many songs, the inclusion of “The Curtain (With)” made the entire segment worthwhile, bringing everyone back to the spiritual sunshine of November 1. The ability to see the crowd during the acoustic set really brought the festival to life, as theatre-goers tried to pick themselves out of the colorful ocean of people. This sequence painted a warm portrait of the acoustic set, providing unattainable perspectives of one of the most universally loved portions of Festival 8.

"Loving Cup" (Photo: Graham Lucas)

The final third of the movie covered Halloween, and Phish’s take on The Rolling Stones album, Exile On Main Street. While the footage of the selected songs provided some absolutely priceless moments, this is where the film would have hugely benefited from greater backstage access. Unable to get behind the scenes, less one practice session, the story of Phish’s Halloween tradition was implied but never explained, making the section somewhat confusing for the non-initiated movie-goer. The film only contained a small snippet of the on-site Exile rehearsals, a segment that certainly left the desire for more backstage footage, but for that we’d have to wait for the credits. Clearly a case of limited access, Phish should have foresaw this obstacle and allowed more leeway for the film crew to tell the story of the band’s Halloween tradition.

Trey and Saundra (Unknown)

Nonetheless, the shots of “Loving Cup” and “Shine A Light” provided powerful memoirs of an eloquent night in the polo fields of Indio, California. The up close and personal footage of “Loving Cup” provided priceless perspectives of the “all-time” version, while the inclusion of “Shine A Light,” the cathartic exclamation point to Exile, brought back the most poignant memory of the weekend. Phish and company knew they had nailed the album, and celebrated with its soul-drenched peak. The stellar shots of Saundra Williams and Sharon Jones gave us a much closer perspective of their own fun and enthusiasm, expressions that couldn’t be easily seen live; and they were loving it. After showing a short clip of the band and their guests rehearsing “Suzy Greenberg,” the Exile section concluded with its memorable encore rendition with full-on accompaniment. And just when one thought the marathon movie has come to a close, the film cut to the weekend-ending “Tweezer Reprise.” Perfect.

"Burble" (G.Lucas)

If one shot summed up the absolute exuberance of Festival 8, it had to be during “Suzy.” The camera filmed from behind Williams and Jones, looking out at the stage as the women danced and sang. Meanwhile, with his back to the crowd, Trey, sporting a child-like, aura-encompassing smile, watched Williams and Jones spice up his own concert as if it were part of his dream. And that same dreamlike quality that shone through the expression of our favorite front man embodied the collective spirit that characterized Indio’s blissed out festival; one of the most enjoyable events of Phish ’09.

On the other hand, many people have complained about song selection, camera work, editing, and the such. Really?? I have one question to these purveyors of negativity who complain that a Phish 3D movie wasn’t worthy of cinematic greatness – “Can you still have fun?”

Phish 3D Track listing: AC/DC Bag, Stealing Time From The Faulty Plan, Undermind, Tweezer, Maze, Mike’s, Back On The Train*, Strange Design*, The Curtain (With)*, Sleep Again*, Train Song*, Wilson*, Loving Cup, Happy, Shine A Light, Soul Survivor, Suzy Greenberg, Tweezer Reprise


Jam of the Day:

Stash > Cities” 6.30.98 II

A highlight from the opening set of Summer ’98.

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.



7.18.91 Casino Ballroom, Hampton Beach, NH < Torrent

7.18.91 Casino Ballroom, Hampton Beach, NH < Megaupload

A random stop with the Giant Country Horns during Summer ’91

I: Chalk Dust Torture, Foam, Runaway Jim, Guelah Papyrus, Suzy Greenberg, Stash, Take the ‘A’ Train, Cavern, Mike’s Song > I Am Hydrogen > Weekapaug Groove

II: Llama, Reba, Poor Heart, Split Open and Melt, The Lizards, The Landlady, I Didn’t Know, Possum

E: Alumni Blues > Letter to Jimmy Page > Alumni Blues

Notes: This show featured the Giant Country Horns. At one point during the show, the crowd was told by the promoter that they were dancing too much, prompting Trey to offer a date with Fishman to the fan who danced best on their chair!

Source: AKG 451 > D5

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541 Responses to “Relivin’ Indio”

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  1. garretc Says:

    Uh oh @Butters, look like your Phish 3D neighbor must have been Miner! (See last line…) LLFA

    Cool write up Miner! Can’t wait to go see it sometime this week…

  2. gratefulphisherman Says:

    Well said Mr. Miner!!! I just got home from seeing the show in Portland and I can honestley say this is now one of my biggest regrets in life not being a part of this experience. But I am thankful to have a taste of what was obviously a special time had by all!! All shows should now be filmed this way and simulcast to cool theaters for people who can’t escape the real world!

  3. Luther Justice Says:

    It’s D-Day for this elections worker. I’m working the next 28 hrs straight. Please wish me luck!

  4. Willowed Says:

    It’s all about having fun people!
    Make it a great day!
    Thanks for the recap Miner!

  5. Mr.Palmer Says:

    Right on Miner can’t wait to go see it tomorrow.

  6. Henrythetoad Says:

    I agree Miner. Great movie and i loved that mikes,tweezer and the loving cup

  7. Henrythetoad Says:

    love the download today

  8. Wilson8or Says:

    Thanks Miner! Finally, a review I can trust! I’m going to see it Thursday

  9. Gavinsdad Says:

    Miner is defintely open minded. I wonder if he’ll keep as open a mind during the Toyo TTE in June. :p

    Props to the people who said Camden are gonna be the shows of the Summer and who love banana flavored things. I had some banana Bassetts ice cream on Saturday and it’s a killer.

  10. pabalive Says:

    I agree with almost all that you wrote here. I for one, would have preferred less of the Exile set and more Phish. But, I’m a Phish fan. I brought my 5 year old for the very reason you stated, “this is a great way to introduce the band to someone who has never seen them”. He knew about 2/3 of the songs and seemed to really enjoy himself, he dozed off during Soul Survivor…can’t blame him there. But, was bouncing out of his seat for the Suzy Tweeprise. All in all, it was very cool to see your favorite band on a big screen in 3D. I felt like everything leading up to the Exile Set was great and then it got a little dull from there on out. But, that’s just me.

  11. bouncin fan Says:

    I agree paba

    With all the great rockin phish tunes why make us sit through all that old timers country, blues rock.

    I don’t even dig the stones. I was hoping for radiohead or mgmt.

    Besides that I loved the phish. Chanting Wilson with my fellow phans wad awesome.

    Have a great day bb

  12. Little Buddy Says:

    Nice write up, Miner. I agree with you whole-heartedly. I’ve been away from the bb for a few days so I don’t know what most have been saying, but the early negative reviews turned out to be a little over the top IMO. I thought it was great. The acoustic section was a bit too long and more festie footage would have been nice, but that shot that Miner mentions with Trey staring up at the ladies getting down and the ferris wheel in the background was worth the price of admission for me. The band seemed like they wee having so much fun! Good stuff!

    The Undermind was a nice surprise. I wasn’t expecting that one to be in there and it was great.

  13. [Not Tom] Marshall Says:

    Thank you Mr. Siskel, uh, I mean, Mr. Miner. Great review. Has me fired up to see it again.

  14. dogmattagram Says:

    Morning all. The wife and I saw Phish 3D on saturday. We had to drive about an hour and a half to the theater but we found a beautiful park near by and made a day of it. The movie was very good over all. My big thing with it was the lack of CK5! I really wanted some more 3D lights. My wife – who I would say is just slightly above noob status- really got IT in a few spots – Maze, Shine A Light, Suzie… There were a total of 6 people in the theater but that made for an intimate kind of setting where we were all talking to each other before and after. Agood time was had by all.

  15. Not as cool as Raul Says:

    Like Dogmattagram, attended a sparsely attended show quite a distance from my home (3 hours). I live in rural Northern Michigan, so all my Phish trips are quite a distance from home. Nevertheless, this was a solid manifestation of the weekend’s events. I wasn’t able to go to Indio, but listened to much of it via streaming and, of course, after the fact as well. No real complaints save those of omission: really loved the Wolfman’s>Piper>Joy from this weekend and wished it could’ve been in the mix. Acoustic, like many have noted, could have been shorter and some context for the Exile set would’ve been nice for the Noobs. Overall, I can still have fun and continue to live while I’m young. Good stuff.

  16. [Not Tom] Marshall Says:

    ^ about 30 people in the 10:00 pm Saturday night showing in Hunstville AL. There were glowsticks in the theater (not tossed) and lots of shouts and clapping after songs, as if we were at a live show.

  17. lastwaltzer Says:

    “On the other hand, many people have complained about song selection, camera work, editing, and the such. Really?? I have one question to these purveyors of negativity who complain that a Phish 3D movie wasn’t worthy of cinematic greatness – “Can you still have fun?””


  18. BTB Says:

    Interesting write-up on Summer Tour Tix:

    I’m of the belief that people have “under-reacted” myself.

  19. In Flagrante Delicto Says:

    “Within a society catered to short attention spans, the extensive, uncut footage provided a relief from the modern era of sound bites and highlight reels.”

    Uhhh… I’m actually hoping that there’s some “extensive, uncut footage” in the DVD release. The movie was horribly edited, with one quick-cut, ultra closeup following another. Combined with the 3D technology, my eyes were constantly adjusting to the shot, and it was disconcerting. I’d have liked some camera shots to last over 2 seconds, so I’d have a moment to take in what I was looking at before adjusting to the next shot.

    Great music, transcendent weekend in Indio, fantastic way to remember the experience, bad film.

    But a bad Phish movie is like a bad Phish show (yes, they do happen) – I still can’t think of a better way to spend the evening.

  20. albert walker Says:

    I kind of agree with Miner

    I am a pessimistic asshole but had no expectations going in. Ate enough ganja food to take down an elephant and had a great time. Hit the 4/20 viewing in Rosemont, Il and it made for an entertaining evening.

    Couple of notes.

    The Stealin Time just ripped. I remember at the time, although we all still wanted a more jammed out version, thinking it was the hottest to date and there is some very nice Trey Fishman interplay on the jam.

    Tweezer just proved why it is king of 2009. Watching Trey jump from theme to connected theme in this amazing version illustrates 2009’s more in less thematic jam style quite nicely.

    The Mike’s comes off quite nicely surprisingly. I have been dissing the 8 min Mike’s all year but in the movie the jamming sounds great and the band interplay is tight and energetic.

    The Stones shit stole the show in Indio and stole the show in the movie. Just amazing energy and performance.

    Laterz ya’ll

  21. [Not Tom] Marshall Says:

    re: ticket sales and the related blog article

    This summer all those who think they will show up and find tickets on the ground may find that those tickets were actually still for sale at the box office. I think the scalpers learned their lesson and things are back to normal. If you want to go to the show, buy a ticket the old-fashioned way.

    The crowds will be the same size at each venue as last year.

    I wonder if ticket sales of Phish3D may spark Phish to play a few places they’ve overlooked in ’09 and ’10. In other words, there might be a random location in AL or IA that had a better-than-expected turnout at the movie, and maybe Phish will reward that area by adding a theater or club show in the Fall or next year.

  22. lastwaltzer Says:

    I don’t think people had a problem with the playing in the songs, its more of the production of the film. And like I’d said before, just because someone wasn’t 100% in love with the film doesn’t mean they or others didn’t have a good time taking it in.

    I would hope word gets back to phish about how people felt about the film. They seem to care what fans think so maybe next time they won’t hire a porn director to shoot a concert film.

  23. albert walker Says:

    I think it’s safe to safe going in we were not going to get the Last Waltz or Stop Making Sense.

    I guess maybe I was not let down cuz going in I really envisioned it being exactly like it came out.

  24. [Not Tom] Marshall Says:

    I’ve said this before, but for me the ultimate Phish movie experience would be to have a show captured by a true IMAX camera positioned on top of the soundboard corral, in a fixed position, that doesn’t pan or zoom at all. The lights provide plenty of motion and action and on a true IMAX screen (not the dome version) you’d be able to see the stage just fine while be completely immersed in CK5’s work. It’d be the equivalent of having the best Box seat in the house. Finally, the sound systems in IMAX theaters are the best you can hear in the movie industry and would rival the concert sound experience.

    But this will never happen.

  25. zzyzx Says:

    “With all the great rockin phish tunes why make us sit through all that old timers country, blues rock.”

    Yeah that “Shine a Light” was just miserable.

    I’m not a Stones fan and I was rooting for Ziggy, but my Exile complaint is that they showed “Soul Survivor” instead of “Just Want to See His Face” or the 3 songs after that leading up to “Shine a Light.”

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