December Dark Horses

In the waning days of December ’95, Phish kicked off their final four shows with a stop in Binghamton, New York in show that has grown immortal with its LivePhish release. December ’99 took a day off on the 14th, before revving up their final, pre-Cypress,  run through the south. Since most people are familiar with Binghamton ’95 and there isn’t any other action on this day in December history, let’s circle back around to Sunday, and two exploratory December 12 jams that never got their proper due.


Drowned > Caspian” 12.12.99 II – Hartford, CT

Providing an intense chunk of ’99 jamming, Hartford’s set opener kicked off the second half and then kept on going. Rolling from one experimental texture into the next, this piece formed an exploratory tapestry while giving the tour a psychedelic shot in the arm  — even within the crazed context of December ’99. Band members took turns guiding the core of this piece while the others painted its periphery. Bringing the audience on a field trip to percussive space camp, the band underlined the latter half of this jam with extraordinary communication and “millennial” sound-sculpting. This dark horse December ’99 monstrosity sprawled in various directions, including a gorgeous, yet urgent, ambient section, while Trey played drone patterns on his mini-keyboard. Hartford’s “Drowned” is a superb piece of late-’99 sonic exploration that hasn’t gotten nearly the attention it should over the years. Then Trey unleashes a solo for the ages in a  surreal comedown of “Prince Caspian.” Take a half-hour out of your day to enjoy this joyride into the universe from 11 years ago.



Down With Disease” 12.12.95 II – Providence, RI

Miami '03 (M.Collins)

Before “Down With Disease” turned into a type-I anthem in 1996, Phish pushed the song through some hearty explorations in the song’s adolesence. And none were more explosive and downright exploratory than this half-hour epic from Providence ’95. Jumping into a type-II gold mine, the band began carving original pathways as soon as the jam dropped. Getting into a heavy groove early on, the band continued to build on this direction, careening into quintessntial December ’95 power rhythms before deconstructing the piece into a quieter canvas for sparser splatter painting. Building the jam back into completely original music, Phish took liberty over the next twenty minutes, coming together in a four-piece stunner. At a time when Phish cranked out new music on a nightly basis, this was one of their more innovative jaunts of a notorious month. Eating more famous December ’95 jams for lunch and spitting them out, Providence’s “Disease” is something to behold. Trying to narrate such a sublime tale of musical theatrics would be an excersize in futility, so take another half-hour out of your day and tune out to one of the greatest Phish jams you may never have heard. (Complete with money-back guarantee)




Will be back tomorrow. Requests always welcome.


333 Responses to “December Dark Horses”

  1. EL Duderino Says:

    We need a little spillage form the vault though…

    Shits tighter than Fort Knox

  2. EL Duderino Says:


  3. SillyWilly Says:

    Totally, Lycan.

    For the first time since they’ve been back, I feel like we are justified in saying something really big is coming at the end of December.

    Maybe it’s just our expectations keep getting transcended, but, to me, the Summer and Fall keep getting better and better on re-listen.

    That Mike interview from a few weeks back just really confirmed what we were hearing I think.

    They’re just beginning to delve into this new, more-cooperative place they’ve found this year.

    We’re in for another crazy plunge.

    I hate making predictions, but I really feel that way.

  4. butter Says:

    very true @Dude about the sound quality being so much better in 3.0 recordings

  5. Lycanthropist Says:

    i am tryin not to let my expectations for NYE to get out of control

  6. EL Duderino Says:

    Watch out for 12/30 IMO

  7. albert walker Says:

    NYE 2010 was the original timeline I set at Hampton by which it would be fair to start judging them compared to other eras. Not talking about including 3.0 in the process of making the list of 13.5 greatest tweezers in the western hemisphere but just understood the huge undertaking of relearning their chops and diving for the first time in a long, long, time into their extensive catalog gave them a free pass at some of the more rough early moments.

    The Stash, Bowie, and 2011 from AC. The Utica Antelope and Have Mercy. Augusta Gin.

    You can just feel the next level of jamming about to blow up.

    3.0 has been fun but it looks like the band known as Phish is starting to emerge here.

    This little 5 night run hopefully will be what Miami was to 2009 as far as dramatically raising the expectations of this 3.0 style.

    Laterz kids.

  8. neemor Says:

    Nice to have a glimpse back into one of the underrated shows of late ’99, Hartford 12.12.
    I remember this show fondly but have never had a copy to relisten to, this being the first time hearing anything from that show.
    It tends to get lost in The Swamp, but this was such a fun night of prep for Cypress.
    And I fall in the category of that guy who’s never heard anything from 12.12.95, so this Disease should be a real treat while wrapping Christmas gifts…
    Thanks Miner.

  9. neemor Says:

    Way to put it in perspective, aw….this run should one-up Miami, it’s so good to have them back in the great NorthEast for the New Year’s run!
    I can’t see this run being anything but fun, exploratory and memorable!
    One for the ages.
    Who’s coming with me??

  10. Kaveh Says:

    As usual, the night before NYE is usually the barn burner. NYE is fun; but not so much from a musical prospective.

  11. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    me! well, if you have a 12.31 and 1.1 ticket for me that is.

  12. albert walker Says:

    No doubt Neemor.

    Here’s to getting that MSG Light that will make us forget about that Greek version.

    Books are pretty much closed for 2010. All I got to do to close out this shitty year is rage out NYC in style.

    First time to MSG NYE since 95 and my girls first since 98. Should be fun.

    Laterz kids
    Out to dinner with the broker

  13. SillyWilly Says:

    “Here’s to getting that MSG Light that will make us forget about that Greek version.”

    goose bumps.

  14. Lycanthropist Says:

    Augusta’s Light comes close to that challenge imo

  15. albert walker Says:


    I spun that Greek Light this weekend and was thinking the opposite after giving the Greek Light the first spin in several months.

    as much as I dug a few fall versions

    I feel they all came upshort. that Greek shit just flows from theme to theme so smoothly. just feels orchestrated throughout the whole jam.

    I do think the Augusta gets to some real nice spots later in the jam but there are some awkward moments compared to the smooth as silk Greek version.

    what the fuck do I know though.

  16. Chuck D Says:

    you know where you want to retire!

  17. Lycanthropist Says:

    comes close.. doesnt succeed 😉

  18. Selector J Says:


    These jokers were just reminiscing in my (shared) office about, “back in ’95 when Pavement was the best band in the world.”

    Nothing against Pavement but…
    just couldn’t stifle the laughter.

    C’mon, man!

  19. lastwaltzer Says:

    I’ve checked all the fall Lights multiple times, nothing comes close to the Greek IMO.

    That said your stylistic preferences could make all the difference since the fall takes have a distinctly different feel. The Augusta one has that organ driven jam (if i’m not mistaken) which is tight but so many unique ideas are touched on in the Greek take, not to mention its so freaking smooth!

  20. neemor Says:

    How much has Light done to re-establish the idea of Phish LaunchPads for the modern age?
    I knew they had it in ’em, but this song is pretty much the perfect piece to set up dives into the depths…
    I was starting to worry that it was becoming a bit of a crutch song, but as it’s grown on me (us) and begun to ‘flesh out’ and go in so many divergent directions, and now that I’ve seen a few solid ones in full flight, Light to me is the standout new song of the modern era and should only continue to grow brighter.
    I love Light and can’t wait for the MSG 2011 Light on 1/1/11…is there any other place for it after the Worcester 2 beast?
    I think not.
    I’ll be wearing my helmet.

    TIII, if I had extras, I’d hook it up.
    As it is, I’ve had to import my 12.30 from Philly and my 1/1 from the deep south!
    No link yet to NYE, but I might just need the breather.
    Can’t believe I’m saying that, but NYE, like Halloween for me is a night I can take or leave. If the ticket dropped into my hands, sure, I’d be there with bells on, but I don’t hate the idea of letting the party animals rage NYE with a vengance while I throw down the bookenders.

    I assume we’ll see you in Woostah and 12.30, TIII?

  21. lastwaltzer Says:

    and i’m not surprised its lycan who said they liked the augusta one since it does feature nice work from mr. mcconell.

  22. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    I’ll be on the floor both nights in wormtown. not hitting the 30th but seeing if I can finagle 12.31 and 1.1

    NYE has long been my favorite holiday, probably because I had a long standing tradition of seeing phish that night 😉 it’d be nice to do it again!

  23. Chuck D Says:

    i was introduced some dude through a friend at a local bar the other night who said he hated Light. that was about when the conversation ended.

    do you know anyone who dislikes Light significantly? one who is disappointed when Light starts up, much like many of you feel about TTE…

  24. lastwaltzer Says:

    “do you know anyone who dislikes Light significantly? one who is disappointed when Light starts up, much like many of you feel about TTE…”chuck

    I don’t but I know this guy who guys by Chuck d who met this guy at a bar one time………………..

  25. BingosBrother Says:


    Hood mixes here for you.

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