The Re-Birth of “The Groove”

8.10.10 - Telluride, CO (Graham Lucas)

When Phish returned to the stage in 2009, they reeled in “Mike’s Groove” from its days as an improvisational centerpiece to its old-school format of “Mike’s > H2 > Weekapaug.” Barely extending each piece beyond eight minutes run-thrus, the routine of the modern era “Mike’s Groove” grew quickly tiresome. The opening riff of “Mike’s Song” – once a jolt of adrenaline to the heart – now signified 20 stagnant minutes of music while Phish churned out generic version after generic version of each bookend. Rarely adding meat to the simplistic sandwich, for over a year “Mike’s Grooves” provided little investigation into the unknown. But throughout this summer, Phish bolstered their musical suite in unexpected ways. Though “Mike’s Song” remained a structured descent into darkness, the feats that the band accomplished after the song’s closing power chords brought the adventure back into the “Groove.”

8.10.10 (G.Lucas)

Beginning in Canandaigua, New York at the end of June, Phish began to switch things up. Segueing into “Simple” and then into “I Am the Walrus” before bursting into “Weekapaug,” this entire “Mike’s Groove” had gained liftoff, forming a half-set escapade that departed from its played-out pattern. Fast forwarding to July 4th’s tour closer in Atlanta, the band lit the fuse of a late-set “Groove,” and the spark led to an array of Phishy fireworks. In a slot where the band had placed so many cliched versions, this holiday “Mike’s Groove” turned out to be anything but usual. Segueing surprisingly into “Tela,” and then eve more dramatically into “Harpua,” Phish packed significant bust-out action into this patriotic tale. But when Trey’s story led to the cover of Rage Against the Machine’s “Killing In the Name,” this tour-ending “Mike’s Sandwich” resembled a monstrosity from from New York’s Carnegie Deli.

When the second leg rolled around, Phish molded larger musical suites, using “Mike’s” and “Weekapaug” to bookend adventurous pieces of improvisation. During The Greek’s second night, Trey abruptly bust into “Ghost’s” jam with the opening of August’s first “Mike’s Groove.” Any memories of the ugly transition dissipated in the vapor trail of Trey and Mike’s fury, and when the band stepped into “Simple,” nobody expected a tour-defining jam to emerge. But to the surprise of most, that is exactly what happened as Phish transformed the anthem into an abstract and melodic experiment. Popping with sonic originality, “Simple” grew into the first breakthrough jam of tour; a jam that blossomed in between “Mike’s” and “Weekapaug.” Phish also squeezed in succinct versions of “Number Line” and “Seven Below” into this super-sized “Groove.”

8.10.10 (G.Lucas)

In Telluride, Phish beefed up an early-set “Mike’s Groove” by inserting the run’s only “Crosseyed and Painless” before merging with their traditional path of “Hydrogen > Weekapaug.” After ripping the universe wide open with “Disease > What’s the Use?” on Alpine’s first night, Phish laid back into a swanky “Dirty Sally Groove.” Using”Dirt” as an introspective comedown from a particularly sharp “Mike’s Song,” the band wasn’t done with this second-half “Groove” just yet. Feeling the flow, the band dropped into the slithering funk rhythms of “Sneakin’ Sally” and absolutely annihilated the cover. Guided by Mike’s laser bass lines, Trey bounced a lively solo over an ocean of liquid grooves. Bringing this late-set treat to a head and through a vocal jam, Phish set up a blistering “Weekapaug” to punctuate this dynamic musical paragraph.

Only two shows later in Jones Beach, however, the band pieced together the most eventful “Mike’s Groove of the season. Providing the meat and potatoes of the second set, Phish combined a standout “Simple” and a defining “Number Line” with a creatively placed “Rock and Roll” to form the most flowing and vituosic “Mike’s Groove” of summer. Finishing this suite with a spunky “Weekapaug,” the band cranked up the feel-good anthem as they did all summer long. While “Mike’s” certainly took on added life in August, “Weekapaug” saw far more attention as several versions turned into high-flying highlights. Blasting off into lands of melodic percussion, the band magnified the suite-closer with creative jaunts that infused shows with ending momentum rather than methodical motion.

8.9.10 Telluride (G. Lucas)

In a season of revitalization, “Mike’s Groove” fell in line with the larger trend of summer. Finding original pathways to creativity, the band breathed new energy into a stagnant part of their catalog. Not long after many fans called for its shelving, “Mike’s Groove” bounced back resiliently, providing highlights to every Leg Two show in which it appeared. Snowballing with Phish’s over-arching head of steam in 2010, the band’s classic musical combo came into focus during a significant second leg of summer. While the spotlight shifted away from “Mike’s” and onto the rest of the “Groove,” craftsmanship and improvisation came back to Phish’s hallowed sequence during a summer that held nothing but future promise.

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Jam of the Day:

Reba” 8.7.10 II

One of three stellar “Rebas” along the trail of August; this one  from The Greek.

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.

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DOWNLOAD OF THE DAY:

10.27.96 N.Charleston Coliseum, Charleston, SC < Torrent

10.27.96 N.Charleston Coliseum, Charleston, SC < Megaupload

This is Phish’s second, and last, visit to North Charleston Coliseum, another venue that will host a two-night stand next month.

I: Runaway Jim, Punch You In the Eye, AC/DC Bag, Fee, Scent of a Mule > Catapult* > Scent of a Mule, Split Open and Melt, Talk, Taste, Suzy Greenberg

II: Chalk Dust Torture, Bathtub Gin, Rift, Prince Caspian, Ya Mar, Tweezer, Fluffhead, Life on Mars?, Tweezer Reprise

E: Possum, Carolina

*performed twice during the Mule Duel; first by Mike, and then by Page solo on the theremin

Source: Sennheiser ME-67’s

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738 Responses to “The Re-Birth of “The Groove””

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  1. Foul_Domain Says:

    First!

  2. Foul_Domain Says:

    Morning All.

    Long drive ahead of me this morning. After that read, I think i’ll cue up the Greek Mike’s Groove.

    I have a new employee riding with me today too, so that fellas in for a heavy dose of KICKASS!

    Have a great day BB!

  3. joechip Says:

    The Blossom Mike’s Groove was standard, but absolutely ripping and inspired IMO.

  4. buddysmyles Says:

    totally shut out this tour. cant win em all! c’mon ticketbastard!
    congrats to all who had success.

  5. willowed Says:

    Ok Boys,
    Good morning. Looking for one 10/30 and one 10/31

    Help Willowed see his first Halloween show.

    I can trade 2 Providence tickets if needed (would rather pay cash).

  6. Little Buddy Says:

    Amen to the rebirth of the groove! Mike’s finally got nasty at Blossom and things started getting interesting at CMAC. From there on Mike’s Groove has been quite an unpredictable treat.

    Have a great day, bbers! Gonna be a busy one here. I gotta find the link to the BB tix exchange spreadsheet. I don’t have anything to trade yet, but I might by the end of the day Saturday. Any of you early risers have that link?

  7. tela'smuff Says:

    i get the novelty of having some unique songs sandwiched between Mike’s and Paug, but overall I don’t get this, only because they are still playing straight ahead versions of both songs. Mike’s is a stright up 7 min rock song and Suzy is more jammed than Weekapaug. So that doesn’t really solve the problem that Mike’s has become pretty tame. I enjoyed the JB version, it was pretty fiery, and Blossom’s version is the heat. still, i get where you’re coming from.

  8. BeantownBoy Says:

    Good Morning, BB’ers.

    Great write up, Miner!

    @ LB

    The link is on the front page on the right hand side, but here it is:
    http://tinyurl.com/bw5hy2

  9. Little Buddy Says:

    Thanks, Beantown. Searching for the link on the home page was to easy and obvious for me apparently. Thanks for the help!

    @ Tela’s – What up, man. Still van’t get over that Hampton ’03 connestion. I told my friend who was with me and my future wife at that show and she was blown away by the similarities in our experiences. Re: Mike’s – I’m not sure how long it’s been since Mike’s was really jammed into open jamming space with any kind of regularity. I mean, it was back in ’95, but I don’t remember many shows I’ve been to since then where it went wide open. My memory isn’t great and I am hardly a “tape” collector/studier, so many on the BB would know better than me. I’m just glad it’s nasty again, even if it is short.

  10. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    Sometimes the world has a load of questions
    Seems like the world knows nothing at all
    The world is near but it’s out of reach
    Some people touch it…but they can’t hold on.

    Phish is moving to describe the world
    Night must fall now-darker, darker.
    Phish has messages for everyone
    Night must fall now-darker, darker.
    Phish is moving by remote control
    Night must fall now-darker, darker.
    Hands that move them are invisible
    Night must fall now-darker, darker.

    The world has a way of looking at people
    Sometimes it seems that the world is wrong
    Phish loves the world, and all the people in it
    Phish shakes ’em up when phish starts to walk.

    Phish is only partly human being
    Divine, to define, phish is moving to define, so say so, so say so
    Phish defines the possibilities
    Divine, to define, phish is moving to define, so say so, so say so
    Holding on for an Eternity
    Divine, to define, phish is moving to define, so say so, so say so
    Gone…ending without finishing
    Divine, to define, phish is moving to define, so say so, so say so

    The world moves on the ocedoc’s licks
    The world moves and it swivels and bops
    The world moves on the ocedoc’s licks
    The world moves and it bounces and hops
    A world of light…phish’s gonna open our eyes up
    A world of light…phish’s gonna open our eyes up
    Phish’s gonna hold/it move/it hold it/move it hold/it move it hold/
    it move it
    A world of light…phish’s gonna open our eyes up

    Phish is moving to describe the world
    Night must fall now-darker, darker.
    Phish has messages for everyone
    Night must fall now-darker, darker.
    Phish is moving by remote control
    Night must fall now-darker, darker.
    Hands that move her are invisible
    Night must fall now-darker, darker.

    Divine, to define, phish is moving to define, so say so
    Night must fall now-darker, darker.
    Phish…has got to move the world…to move the world…to move
    the world

    A world of light…phish’s gonna open our eyes up
    A world of light…phish’s gonna open our eyes up
    Phish’s gonna hold/it move/it hold it/move it hold/it move it hold/
    it move it
    A world of light…phish’s gonna open out eyes up

    Wanna define…so say so, so say so
    Divine to define, phish is moving to define, so say so, so say so
    Night must fall now-darker, darker.
    Phish…has got to move the world…to move the world…to move
    the world

    Bring on the tour!

  11. tela'smuff Says:

    @LB – I agree. Very cool we were on the same page for that!
    As far as Mike’s, I instantly think of 2-21-03. Strangly, there is no Mike’s Groove” at this show. It was completed the next night. Also, see 12-30-99 Mike’s Groove for some far out shit. I’m sure there are a few others 2.0 that I’m forgetting. But that Cincy version is pretty unique.
    You going to SC? Is there a meetup in the works?

  12. albert walker Says:

    It def felt like Mike’s was getting the work out this summer. In leg 2 I caught 3 in 7 shows. Seems like Trey’s finally finding some tasty licks to drop and the Mike and Fish groove continues to tighten up.

    I’m feeling we will get the monster Mike’s in fall. As they get to the end of the jam and hit that little composed section you can feel the crowd hold their breath hanging on to the hope they drop into the famed 2nd Mike’s jam but nothing. I think we will get the additional jam in the fall and it will be huge. Don’t wanna miss that one.

    Mike’s was always my favorite jam back in the mid 90’s so I am anxiously waiting for its’ return to its’ former glory. Def moving in the right direction.

  13. SillyWilly Says:

    My needs are the same as Willowed’s right now.

    One 10/30 and one 10/31.

    Ill try and scoop up as many Halloweens as I can on Saturday and trade them out.

    I think Ill be setting up multiple laptops for this one.

  14. Jtran Says:

    Seems like the BB needs to score a lot of Halloween tickets Saturday. I’m looking as well.

  15. SillyWilly Says:

    I think if we get as many Halloweens as possible and BBers don’t need them, we can trade for 10/29s and 10/30s on lot.

    at least, that’s my strategy.

  16. tela'smuff Says:

    also, the download of the day has probably my fav version of Mule I saw live. i don’t recall much else from the show other than I think Gin was decent and the Life on Mars? was cool (as always).
    Tweezer, Fluff, LoM?,Tweeprise. damn. back then that didn’t seem to be as big as a deal, but looking at that I need to revisit it.

  17. b-rock Says:

    @Tela’s – those Cincy shows in ’03 were the only time Weekapaug was played without Mike’s in the same show. It’s basically a 2-night Groove.

    @Buddy, 11/22/97 is a really unique Mike’s, not only did they open the show with it but it was super mellow and funked out unlike any I’ve ever heard. Plus the Hydrogen is like half-time slow and the Paug is a rager. Check it out if you haven’t heard that one.

  18. SillyWilly Says:

    @B-rock

    you’re right.

    that 11/22/97 Mike’s Groove is life changing.

  19. JWP Says:

    Have folks actually gotten emails from PTBM, or just credit card charges/holds?

  20. lastwaltzer Says:

    While the sandwiches filling has been delicious, the bread is still a little stale. That is saying a lot though cause last year the sandwiches had moldy bread.

  21. Gavinsdad Says:

    @jwp – ptbm emails were sent yesterday….many of us here received them. Mine did not contain good news

    just got into parking lot at work….did the JB mikes>simple…then got to the #line and I’m still on it. Really worthy #line, as most of us have acknowledged. Make sure to turn it up to hear it’s might. I have to say, I think we’ll reference a good number of these leg 2 jams in conversations years down the line. They are that good.

  22. JWP Says:

    That’s really weird, because I do have a charge on my card, but I’ve not received an email. Oh, the waiting!!!

  23. Guyute711 Says:

    My roomate hasn’t gotten his e-mail yet either. He has a hold for 2 out of 5 that he ordered.

  24. BingosBrother Says:

    Yo GD, how was Dopesmoker?

  25. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    as if on cue, the Mike’s from 7.25.91 came up on my player. That would be a Groove with HORNS in case you didn’t have that one memorized. Bitchin’ little groove, that one.

    \m/^ ^\m/

    get those metal horns in the air, people!

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