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.


Jam of the Day:

Reba” 8.7.10 II

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




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””

  1. Selector J Says:

    I was unsuccessfully looking for Jay’s email the other day, too. My switch to gmail left a few casualties in the contacts list somehow. Gonna have to sift through the old email client, I guess.

    His company is publicly trading now. So maybe he’s busy cashing in stock options… 🙂 I’ll keep a look out for him at the local lunch spots.

  2. BingosBrother Says:

    who remembers midget nitrous wookie?

  3. Mr. Completely Says:

    wookette you mean?

    one of the founding legends of the BB, from before anyone called it the BB.


    I have regaled people far and wide with the tales of the Midget Wookette Nitrous Scout


    going back even further I miss “old dude”

    king of the one liner

  4. Mitch Says:

    Old dude did bring it.

    “as your attorney” classic

    Pham, don’t forget to be the ball. When your boss goes to the boss take credit for all of his successes.

  5. Mitch Says:

    *Goes to the bathroom

  6. Gavinsdad Says:

    Bizarre…I just spent the past many reading old June 2009 posts. Bout 80% of the same people who posted then still posting now.

    Where’s msbjivein at? I started posting around when he talked about the bird flying Into the window…or was that chalkdustin?

  7. BingosBrother Says:

    Ah yes…wookette…ooh thats a paddlin for me…founding legend no doubt…

    old dude was def the king of the one liner…

    I also remember a certain buffalo bill who is still a polarizing figure on the BB.

  8. Mr. Completely Says:

    funny @gd I’ve been thinking about doing the same thing…but as you say it takes many.

  9. BingosBrother Says:

    Camman, Camman, where have you gone?

  10. Mr. Completely Says:

    another great one for one-liners was “What!What!” who was only around for a little while last fall if I remember right but was truly funny

  11. BingosBrother Says:

    I am enjoying one of buffalo bill’s compilations as we speak. He certainly is one hep cat.

  12. Mr. Completely Says:

    bill’s out looking for owls, obv

  13. Mr. Completely Says:

    I didn’t get any of his music

  14. Mr. Completely Says:

    ahhhh….I remember nostalgia…it was great

  15. BingosBrother Says:

    Get any or “get” any? Either way, I know that you have.

  16. BingosBrother Says:

    I remember remembering things. Way back in the anals of history.

  17. Jtran Says:

    Funny the BB’s been around long enough to talk about the old times.

  18. Mr. Completely Says:

    it’s been around long enough that we can talk about the last time we talked about the old times…the last time had better flow and was more cohesive IMO but there’s good creativity here so far…I give it a B- as a work in progress

  19. Mitch Says:

    Yeah camman needs to get back. Like he’s too cool to post? Maybe his rents took his computer cable like neemors boss.

    Lots of people back home like to play remember when. Obviously not much to discuss anymore.

    Never forget going apeshit my myself up on the lawn for buffalo bill at deer creek. Then comes Frankie for moral support.

  20. Mr. Completely Says:

    “Get any or “get” any? Either way, I know that you have.”

    I have no idea what this means but admire the slightly ominous tone

  21. Gavinsdad Says:

    WhatWhat still owes me and Sumo a dance off

  22. Mitch Says:

    Looking for owls will be my new thing to say at parties. Odd that 1:100 people get it. Need to take a setlist book in my pocket to keep track.

  23. Mr. Completely Says:

    ahhhh that’s why he fled!

    his mouth wrote a check his feet couldn’t cash

    …worst metaphor ever?

  24. Mitch Says:

    “who’s that weird guy writing in a book and asking about owls?”

  25. jdub Says:

    It’s been a year and a half since I started wasting time here. Seems so long. We should’ve asked asked for a group shot with Midgette Nitrous Wookette and her tank when we saw her at TAB. What a moment.

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