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 oneĀ  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. Mitch Says:

    *dudes not daws

    Bring her to the bb meetups. Well find her a man. And if not, a warm place to stay and up the mound:meatstick ratio. Dr p can be 2:1 big pimpin steez like me.

  2. Selector J Says:

    Not so sure Loving Cup is def about that. Some making out in that song for sure, tho. Wouldn’t rule it out but lots of other stuff going on there.

    Halley’s Comet on the other hand… where do you think the “central part of town” is?

  3. Mitch Says:

    Alls I know is that the dead taught us that ya just gotta poke around.

  4. Runaway Jim Says:

    If I miss the public onsale, how hard is it expected to be to score some Charleston tix?

  5. Mr. Completely Says:

    yeah man NO WAY Mick Jagger would write a song about that

  6. Mr. Completely Says:

    One theory I had at Dead shows, which was never disproven in my experience, is that no matter where in the venue you are located during any performance of Shakedown Street, someone in your immediate area is guaranteed to be doing the little “just gotta poke around” dance, poking their index fingers in the air and waving them like the doo-dah man, usually accompanied by a look of pleasure at their own cleverness in thinking up this very creative dance which no one has ever seen before

  7. Mr. Completely Says:

    ooooh “Deluxe Edition” Waiting for Columbus bonus tracks are excellent

    big win here

  8. KWL Says:

    hey kidz, long day of travel

    what’s good?

  9. Mr. Completely Says:

    not that I never did the Poke Around move myself…I’m not above it

    as long as you’re on point with the “whooo”s its cool

  10. Mr. Completely Says:

    last 10 or so pages ain’t bad, as long as you like dumb but funny shit

  11. Jtran Says:


    Get your Broomfield’s in the lotto?

  12. Mitch Says:

    If you like stuff that’s good you could say.

    Who doesn’t love shakedown street? Not the same I know but the dead at MSG last April.. Loved it!!! That and “in and out of the garden he goes” got everyone pumped!

  13. Mitch Says:

    I cannot confirm or deny poking dance. I’m sure I would. I dance like a dork tho.

  14. Mr. Completely Says:

    yep….we started the St. Stephen bustout rumor before every MSG or Boston Garden run. Yes, we were dicks, but many other people did the same thing.

  15. fee4zy Says:

    Those of you who have stay at home wives – do you see them as working as hard as you do even if the house is a mess? My hubs is telling me that I don’t work as hard as him and it’s time for me to work instead of sitting on my ass. I clean, do laundry, grocery shop, shop for him and the girls, volunteer at the school, co-chair of the parent group of my child’s program, run and maintain the dogs, cook dinner at least 4 nights a week, make sure homework’s done, lunch is packed for him and the girls, so what am I doing wrong. Oh, and getting teaching job is cake right now, so I can just go out tomorrow and get a job. WTF?

    Sorry – vent.

  16. Mitch Says:

    Why does that make you a dick? That’s like walfredo at mpp and so many other related to the area Phish songs.

  17. Mr. Completely Says:

    that’s straight BS @fee IMO

    feminist academics debunked that years ago, put an hourly value on all the work stay at home wives (or husbands) do, all that…work is work and IMO if you’re taking care of the kids that’s as valuable as work gets

    I mean if he’s OK with those things you’re doing now not getting done that’s one thing

  18. Mitch Says:

    Did you tell him that fee4zy? That’ll shut him up. I’m not even married but when I was put in my place cause “I had reason to be tired from working all day” I quickly recognized we don’t have fairies keeping put place clean.

  19. Mr. Completely Says:

    I don’t know why it makes me a dick but usually when I admit my old rumor-starting hobby someone calls me a dick, so I guess I’m defensive about it

    (not really, I don’t care, we were young and dumb anyway)

  20. Mitch Says:

    Also, remember he’s a dude and may not be thinking clearly. A good whack in the head of logic from a female perspective helps from time to time.

  21. fee4zy Says:

    I honestly think it’s just the stress from work making him lash out like this. But when he starts calling me lazy, well that’s when I just lose it. I’m not divorcing him now, but I really don’t like how he doesn’t value what I do to contribute to the family, even if it isn’t in the form of a salary and health insurance.

  22. Mr. Completely Says:

    it was just really fun to hear back a rumor you clearly helped start, even distorted by the inevitable game of Telephone

    most of them were those obvious things that many people would say so it wsa good to throw in details so you could pick out your version

    at MerleFest ’92, Grisman was headlining the last day, height of the Garcia/Grisman era, so obviously people were talking Jerry sit-in…our version had hiim helicoptering in at the last minute…I heard it back 3 times on Sudnay afternoon….good times

  23. Mitch Says:

    I’m asking tho, you were just saying they were gonna play it? Seemed predictable to me after the fact.

    Fee4zy, afterwards I’m usually like (lightbulb) oh yeah that makes sense… Slunks into position an inch tall.

  24. Mr. Completely Says:

    yeah that’s serious stuff @fee

    lazy is a heavy charge in a family setting

    you might consider going on strike for 3-5 days, except absolutely necessary child and pet care…?

    ^^^ that seriously is my advice

  25. Mitch Says:

    Haha gotcha c. That’s a good one. Big jer swooping in to play some acoustic.

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