Basking In Bethel’s Blowout

Posted in Uncategorized with the tags on May 30th, 2011 by Mr.Miner

Bethel Woods (George Estreich)

After spinning through the first two shows of tour a number of times over the weekend, and I have to say, I hear the emergence of a new Phish. Not only are their jams multiplying in number, but they are also diversifying in scope and laced with new ideas. The band seemed incredibly fresh over the weekend and ready to try new things once again. And one of the biggest reasons for the Bethel shows’ many successes was—go figure—Trey Anastasio. Over the weekend, Trey stepped up and led the band in the commanding fashion of lore, but directed jams with a refined style that didn’t always necessitate melting faces. With delicate, yet directional licks of leadership—creative and intricate leads—Trey came to the forefront of the stage in a way that didn’t diminish his mates’ contributions. I keep thinking of the word “mature” to define this type of playing; a style that could only have been acquired through decades of improvisation and experimentation with the same players. Some key jams from Bethel where this refined yet powerful style is quite prevalent are “Halley’s,” “Bathtub Gin” and “Number Line.” And not consequently, these were three of the more impressive excursions of the weekend.

Bethel Woods (G.Estreich)

But only one day earlier, Phish engaged in a completely different type of jamming in an awing rendition of “Waves.” This unforgettable segment came via deep and collaborative exploration—and incredible patience. Unafraid to let things breathe and allow ideas to develop, the band didn’t scurry from improvisational abstraction over the first two shows, but embraced it—exercising patience to discover sublime moments. In this vein, creative soundscapes emerged as a style of Phish jamming again, and no piece exemplified this better than “Waves.” Dripping into the ether directly as the lyrics ended, the band illustrated a new-found proclivity for cosmic exploration. As no one member pushed or dominated the jam, the band traveled together through one of Bethel’s utterly surreal portions of improv. Open-ended jamming at its finest, the band took a collective swan dive into the void during “Waves” and just let the music flow through them. Ending this journey with a ambient sound sculpture, this standout sequence (and its eerie “Crosseyed” counterpart) couldn’t be more different than the stellar jamming of night two.

Bethel (G.Estreich)

And yet another divergent sound was showcased in one of the absolute gems of the weekend that got buried in the opening set—”Kill Devil Falls.” This jam was captained by the combination of Trey and Fishman—the backbone of Phish. Pushing the band with speedy and intricate breakbeats, Fishman directed this jaunt at a vicious pace. Fish’s quickened beat science pushed Trey out of some of his only “Whaling” of the weekend and into mind-bending guitar playing, while coaxing the entire band to engage at a pace at which they play.. But the jam wasn’t straight ahead rock; it was far more creative yet still moving a mile a minute. This seemed like an extension of the “urgent ambient” jamming that began to emerge last year during summer’s second leg (illustrated in the Greek’s “Rock and Roll” and Jones Beach’s “Number Line”)—but on steroids! This was some breakneck jamming and tight as anything we heard all weekend.

Phish had that invincible feeling again over the Bethel run; that sense that bullets would bounce off their musical armor like Lilliputians’ attacking Gulliver. And even though the third night’s affair strayed a bit towards the seemingly-fading song-based trend of this era, the show was still strewn with impressive musical conversations. Throw in a bit of staccato, plinko-funk jamming, and from every angle possible, Bethel was an overwhelming triumph for the band and their dedicated fan base. By anyone’s account, this is shaping up to be one crazy summer, and when we finally wind down amidst the Rockies in Colorado come Labor Day, we’ll think back to the green rolling pastures of Bethel Woods and smile.

Bethel Woods (George Estreich)

Tags:

Playing It Safe on Sunday

Posted in Uncategorized with the tags on May 30th, 2011 by Mr.Miner

Bethel Woods - 5.29.11 (D.Lavery)

After two nights of psychedelic debauchery to open summer tour, Phish finished their three-night stand in Bethel with a show that was delivered with a razor-sharp tightness, but far less improvisational adventure than the previous couple. At several times throughout the show, the band seemed on the verge of diving into a musical abyss, but each time they took a turn out of creative waters and into the next song. When looking at Bethel as a three-show package, however, Sunday’s anthemic punctuation mark seemed just fine as we departed the blissful pastures of Woodstock for the grit of central Jersey.

5.28.11 (C.LaJaunie)

Though Sunday’s show carried a “Saturday night rock and roll” vibe throughout, it still contained legitimate highlights book-ending the second set in “Mike’s > Simple” and “2001 > Light > Slave.” But after rewriting the landscape of modern Phish over the previous two nights, the decision to stay within the box during all of these jams (less “Simple”), seemed like a strange move. Carrying an air-tight quality to many of these sequences, the band allowed only “Simple” to breathe, while pushing through their other improvisational passages with safe and linear interplay. They played with the same precision and fire we have seen over the first couple of nights, but for whatever reason, they decided not to take any musical risks last night. At the end of “46 Days,” “Meatstick” and “Light,” Phish seemed on the brink of oozing into creative and psychedelic waters, but in each case the jam was cut in favor of keeping the setlist moving. The most egregious case of this came in the middle of the second set during “Meatstick.”

 

5.28.11 (P. McGonigle)

After sparking the second half with a ferocious “Mike’s Song” and followed with a summery, ambient jaunt in “Simple,” they smoothly segued into an inexplicably short “Weekapaug.” But at this point in the game, the stage was set for the continuation of a legitimate Phish set. But when “Meatstick” was cut off awkwardly for “Fluffhead,” any musical momentum had been derailed. It’s one thing when “Fluffhead” follows a significant jam, but its a whole ‘nother thing when it cuts one off altogether. After a disconnected three-song, mid-set sequence, the band picked the show back up with the space grooves of “2001.” Featuring heavy-hitting dance patterns, Trey, again, showed off his precise and multi-note licks that have been so prevalent in the summer’s opening weekend. And finally, one of the set’s highest points came in its final song—a multi-tiered “Slave to the Traffic Light” which built slowly through beat-less textures before ending the weekend with a blissful peak.

5.28.11 (C.LaJaunie)

The opening set contained a true “first set” vibe for the first time this tour, and though everything was played sharply and with gusto, “Timber” represented the most engaging interplay of the set—and likely the show—as the band seethed white-hot psychedelia within the fourth song of the show. “Ocelot” and “Antelope” both featured contained jams with impresive full-band communication, and “Suzy” even boasted a shredding quasi-jam. But, all in all, other than “Timber,” the set amounted to a whole bunch of singles.

Regardless of its linear, song-based contour, Sunday night represented but one slice of a three-part pie that was Bethel Woods—the stand where Summer 2011 blasted off. Have a safe day off and I’ll see you in Jersey!

I: AC/DC Bag, Sample in a Jar, Rift, Ocelot, Ya Mar, Timber, The Oh Kee Pa Ceremony > Suzy Greenberg, 46 Days > Twenty Years Later, The Ballad of Curtis Loew, Run Like an Antelope

II: Mike’s Song > Simple > Weekapaug Groove, Meatstick > Fluffhead, Joy, Also Sprach Zarathustra > Light > Slave to the Traffic Light

E: Loving Cup, Tweezer Reprise

 

Tags:

A Total Transformation

Posted in Uncategorized with the tags on May 29th, 2011 by Mr.Miner

5.27.2011 (Kevin Deutsch)

So let’s be serious here…what the fuck is going on? Where are we? What year is this? Because last night was as good as Phish has sounded in memory. Taking risks throughout both sets like a band we once knew—and have become staggeringly intimate with over the past two nights—Phish let us in on a secret: they are as good, if not better, than at any point in their career. Having their way with improvisation like they have in their best of days, the band has all of a sudden completely changed the game. And as a result of the first two shows in Bethel—two nights that have been nothing short of revelations—fans all over the country are now changing their summer plans, perhaps putting a little extra on their credit card than anticipated, in order to catch more of the greatest show on earth—Phish 2011.

Completely reinventing themselves in front of our eyes, from the moment they stepped on stage, the band commanded last night’s show with a passion, enthusiasm, and most of all—jams of all shapes and sizes—in a complete package of the likes we haven’t come close to seeing during this era. The Gorge? Miami? The Greek? Alpine? Utica? MSG? Psshaw….improvisational child’s play compared to the unbridled jamming of Saturday night’s spectacle. Since Hampton, Phish hadn’t come close to playing a show as chock-full of virtuoso, full-throttled and wide-open jamming as they did last night—and it was only the second night of summer tour! So do your reassessing, change your plans, and get to the amphitheatre nearest you! But enough about how we have a new phenomenon on our hands…what the hell happened last night?

5.28.2011 (Masthay)

It all started with a third-song “Cities.” As the band dripped into the funk, Trey layered a menacing guitar lead over the band’s textures, upping the entire jam to another level. Growing in size and scope while maintaining a thick groove, it was the most powerful version of “Cities” we’ve heard in this era. Then, when Phish dropped into “Halley’s,” the one percent chance that they would actually jam on the song came through in droves! Things were falling into place. Soaring into a quickened groove and anchored by Trey’s lightening-quick guitar work—a defining facet of the Bethel shows thus far—Phish crushed a “Halley’s” like they haven’t since a previous epoch. Speeding into “Anetlope-esque” interplay, the band was off and running in the best show anyone had seen since a previous lifetime. As they switched gears into a bass-led and more demented path, more than a few times I wondered what song we were amidst as I was blissfully unaware of anything but the transcendent moment. And this feeling would be replicated all night long in one improvisational escapade after the next. Flowing through “Halley’s” into “Runaway Jim,” the band’s relentless creativity continued. Within the mellow section of the song between verses, Phish infused a mind-melting “plinko funk” jam in the exact essence of the Worcester “Hood.” Feeding the song’s melodic patterns into a staccato-shredder, the band furthered one of their emerging jamming styles. And when they tore through the song’s “regular” jam, it was the second standout segment within”Runaway Jim!”

5.27.11 (K.Deutsch)

After playing through “Gumbo” and a smoking “Quinn the Eskimo,” the band unveiled a pristine “Limb by Limb” And with their newly-found super-abilities, this “Limb” took on an immaculate, life-affirming majesty that others simply don’t. But just when we had no idea how this extended set would come to a close, the opening notes of “Bathtub Gin” took everyone by surprise. And the only thing that could have been more of a surprise than the song’s placement was the jam that came out of it. Getting into torrid uptempo grooves, Trey took command of the music with his precise guitar assassination, and the band careened into yet another stellar piece of improvisation—this time—one of the no-brainer highlights of the night. Phish gained momentum by the second—pushed forward by the quickening beats of Fishman—and sounded as if they might segue into “Golden Age” when, in fact, they were actually speeding into a double-timed “Manteca!” Where were we at this point? When we last left Madison Square Garden, the band had dropped a series of great jams over the New Year’s Run, but they didn’t have the exploratory fire like this! Playing as if a band possessed, upon seamlessly re-merging with “Bathtub’s” theme and punctuating an absolute joke of a first set, the band received an extended standing ovation as if it was the end of the show. But it was only setbreak.

5.27.11 (K. Deutsch)

Nobody had any idea what had hit them come setbreak and the only thing many could consider is what might happen when the lights dropped again. And when they did, another musical labyrinth ensued. Sculpting the entirety of the set with mind-melting improvisation from start to finish, Phish came out and simply slayed the second half. To continue describing the superlative nature of their playing would feel redundant at this point, but simply stated, the band spat fire throughout, from the first note to the last. Sometimes, after a stunning set, you are just left with feelings and memories, and last night these emotions couldn’t have been more glowing. Memories of a full-throttled dance session that slowly morphed into a sky-scraping, ambient soundscape in “Disease.” A memory of a natural arrival in “Free” that served as a landing point of deeply cosmic exploration. Feelings evoked by a show-defining, centerpiece jam in “Backwards Down the Number Line”—an organically building adventure into the stratosphere of psychedelia. Memories of visiting band member’s “houses” within in a classic bit of Phishiness and comic relief in an extended “Makisupa.” (I think we all want to live at Page’s house!) Feelings of an exploratory and overwhelmingly blissful “Hood” that brought the song back into play as an vehicle for creative, out-of-the-box, interplay. Memories of needing water after the obvious set-closer in “Cavern” only to be backhanded by a scintillating “Bowie” that punctuated the frame with yet another improvisational odyssey.

We weren’t in Kansas anymore. Nope. We were in Bethel, New York—the site of Phish modern-era reinvention, and it might as well have felt like heaven. The band we watched re-birth themselves over the course 2009 and 2010 had left the building, and Phish 2011 moved in. A whole new monster with razor sharp fangs and a refined improvisational acumen, the band of summer clearly has something to prove. These last two nights have been incredibly powerful events for anyone who has loved this band for any part of their life. To be witnessing all this again is nothing short of awe-inducing. To use a cliche but incredibly appropriate sign off, “It’s all happening…”

I: Theme From the Bottom, NICU, Cities, Halley’s Comet > Runaway Jim, Gumbo, Quinn the Eskimo, Limb By Limb, Horn, Bathtub Gin

II: Down with Disease > Free, Backwards Down the Number Line, Makisupa Policeman -> Harry Hood > Cavern, David Bowie

E: A Day in the Life

Tags:

Whoa—A Serious Tour Opener

Posted in Uncategorized with the tags on May 28th, 2011 by Mr.Miner

Bethel Official Print (Stout)

Wasting absolutely no time warming up, Phish greeted a salivating fan base in Bethel on Friday night with a show that—above all else—showed a willingness to take risks and put themselves out on an improvisational ledge to see what happens. Meeting their summer audience on the astral plane, Phish put forth a psychedelic adventure of the likes we haven’t seen in quite some time. Within the meat of the second set, the band set the controls for the heart of the sun, and came out with musical gold. The prefab nature of the New Years’ Run was nowhere to be seen as the band dug into one of their more experimental sets in ages—the type of sets of which I dream. And they came up with gold all night long in a show opener that couldn’t be more encouraging—and inspiring—to open summer tour.

After an extended, six-month layoff, the band took a collective inhale and ended their time off with none other than “Tweezer.” Like a breath of the swankiest air you’ve felt in years, Phish growled into summer with a welcome home out of one of their classic pieces. Flowing through connected and laid-back grooves to kick off the show, the band showcased an early propensity for prolific playing. Segueing seamlessly into “My Friend, My Friend,” the guys opened the season with an legitimate improvisational combo that got everyone’s motor revved early. Following up with a non-stop string of greatest hits and hard hitting grooves, the band sparked a first-set fire that culminated in the two most improvisational pieces of the half in “Stash” and “Kill Devil Falls.” Within these two late-set jams, Phish set set the tone for the rest of the show with a absolutely face-melting “Stash,” and the most exciting and out-of-the-box “KDF” since Bonnaroo ’09. In between, the band also worked in a sleek “Wolfman’s -> Walk Away” combo, that saw “Wolfman’s” briefly get into a more abstract and intriguing segment.

Bethel Woods - 5.27.11 (Scott Bedford)

But the second-set’s opening sequence seemed to follow the first—more song-based jams. And when the band dropped into “Boogie On,” it seemed totally out of place as the third song of the second set. And I think Phish sensed that too, because half-way through the song’s generic funk grooves, Trey began playing more slowly and with abstract effect, leading the band into a mind-numbing deconstruction of “Boogie On” that was hard to fathom in the live setting. Not until I heard this sequence again on tape did I realize the precision and mastery with which the band executed this demented migration from Stevie Wonder’s song into “Waves.” And when the band landed in “Waves,” the defining, soul-searching sequence of show commenced and wouldn’t end until the final notes of “Velvet Sea.”

5.27.11 - "Boogie On" (S. Bedford)

Dipping into the first version “Waves” since Red Rocks ’09, the band came up with one of the most sublime segments of this era. Embarking on free-form psychedelia in the vein of a “Dark Star,” the band entered completely egoless jamming with no goal in mind but to play the next note, and it resulted in one of the most enchanting and exploratory passages of Phish in this era. Delicate and connected, exploratory yet coherent, the band intertwined ideas like weaving a fine musical silk. After moving through a melodic collaboration, the band moved onto a far more abstract plane with some serious psychedelic sound-sculpting. Navigating their way through a stunning soundscape of the likes we haven’t heard in recent years, the band organically emerged into “Prince Caspian.” A massive sense of arrival graced this mid-second set version, as it blossomed into a more than just a landing pad for the band’s stratospheric journey. Infusing a sense of glory into the power-ballad, Phish engaged in enhanced interplay that brought this version to a colossal peak. But unfinished—in the surprise of the night—the band rolled out of “Caspian” into “Crosseyed.” And out of “Crosseyed” came the the show’s defining segment, and one of the most sinister and to-die-for segments of 3.0 Phish.

5.27.2011 (S.Bedford)

After the band had careened through a torrid “Crosseyed” jam, reprised the lyrics, and continued annihilating a ferocious whole-band conversation, they—collectively—slowed into one of the evilest, most crack-like sequences of Phish in this era. Engulfing the pavilion in larger-than-life swamp music made for monsters, Phish, led by Trey’s uncompressed snarl, unveiled one of the defining modern sequences of dungeon sorcery (evoking echoes of the “Mike’s” jam from 7.22.97). As the crunching and menacing music enveloped our lives again, Phish unrolled a soundtrack of dreams.

Oozing from this sonic underworld into “Velvet Sea,” the slower song provided the perfect cap on the other-worldly excursions into the depths of Phish psychedelia. From the point the band decided to break down “Boogie On” and embark on “Waves,” the show shifted from a concert into a cosmic exploration of the type we travel coast to coast to capture. Organically forging a wide-open adventure on the first night of summer, Phish has our minds drooling at the possibilities the next 31 shows hold. We can only make the assumption that on the first night of tour, the band sent us a message of intent—a psychedelic telegram—to tell us that Summer 2011 blow our minds and expand our hearts. Jump on…its gonna be a hell of a ride.

I: Tweezer > My Friend, My Friend, Poor Heart, Roses Are Free, Funky Bitch, Wolfman’s Brother -> Walk Away, Stash, Bouncing Around the Room, Kill Devil Falls, Bold As Love

II: Carini, Back on the Train, Boogie On Reggae Woman > Waves > Prince Caspian > Crosseyed and Painless > Wading in the Velvet Sea, Possum, The Squirming Coil

E: Julius

Tags:

Here We Go!

Posted in Uncategorized with the tags on May 27th, 2011 by Mr.Miner

Bethel Woods (Vermillion Media)

So I’m finally in Bethel, my book in finally out of my hands in its final stages of design, the book site has finally launched, and best of all…Phish is finally playing today! So as a wise man once said, “Let’s get this show on the road.” The day has finally arrived and now we stare down a massive slate of summer shows, and we are all drooling to see what the band has to offer. In a matter of hours, the wait will be over and we will again be together again in the Congregation the of Phish. With a slew of shows on our plate, Bethel represents but a three-night appetizer of all that is to come, but with word that the guys have been practicing for tour and with “Waves” played at soundcheck yesterday, I foresee these three nights to be quite the hearty appetizer.  On the site of the legendary Woodstock festival, one must wonder if Phish will give any sort of musical nod to the legendary gathering. Perhaps Trey will start the weekend with an electrifying Star-Spangled tribute to Jimi? Will they open the run, as Richie Haven did Woodstock, by covering “Freedom?” Or perhaps they will cover another of the counter-culture artists—Santana comes to mind—that graced the mud-laced mecca. And maybe they will do nothing at all and focus their energies on what we love best…Phish jams.

One would think that the glossy feel of the New Years’ Run will be gone as the band digs into the dog days of summer. Amidst the thick East Coast summer air, Phish will push the doors to 2011 wide open. Its time to blow it up folks, Summer 2011 is here in a matter of hours….But before we dive head first into the most extensive tour of this era, allow me to introduce a way of participating…

***

MR MINER’S PHISH THOUGHTS: THE BOOK

The Book

I have finally launched the website for my forthcoming book:”Mr. Miner’s Phish Thoughts: An Anthology by a Fan For the Fans.” And on the book site, we are running a contest that requires you to select certain songs played in each show. The contest will be broken up into three legs of summer, and fans will accrue points as each leg of the contest progresses. We will post standings periodically and you will be able to follow your progress. Just enter your email address and make your picks! The winner of each leg will receive a free, signed copy of “Mr. Miner’s Phish Thoughts: An Anthology by a Fan For the Fans.” Click here to enter, and while your at it, peruse the book site!

****

NO SPOILERS – Summer 2011

No Spoilers 2011

Summer 2011 is ready to go, and we’ve made some changes. No Spoilers is now available as a podcast. This will let iTunes (and other programs) automagically download the latest show soon after it’s available. Old-school regular downloads (either Megaupload or straight http download) will still be available. Any news will still be posted on the classic No Spoilers page and details/instructions are there now: http://phishthoughts.com/nospoilers.

****

PS: I would have posted this last night, but a massive storm in the area knocked out the power of our rental house and I am currently at a local library doing work! To update, I have been swamped with finishing up the book before tour, but I am back on the blog full-force now. The time has come…see you soon!

Tags:

Monday Morning Minutes

Posted in Uncategorized with the tags on May 22nd, 2011 by Mr.Miner

12.31.2010 (Ryan Gilbertie)

WOOKIPEDIA: One of the greatest facets of Phish Thoughts to me, is the community that has formed around the website. Not only have fans found new friends to help kill time virtually, but also real people with whom rage Phish with personally. The connections that have been made and friendships formed by so many people on the self-dubbed “Black Board” (the comments section of the blog) has blown me away. I have, similarly, met tons of great people through the site, and continue to do so as Phish fans’ sense of community is unparalleled. And as any good community does, they look for ways to improve things. Last week, one of the regulars on the Black Board suggested an idea for a community-based resource in the vein of Wikipedia. But surrounding Phish culture, soon, the much more appropriate name, “Wookipedia” was born. Instead of introducing it myself, I told the person who came up with the idea to write a blurb on it. And here is what Mitch had too say.

"Power" Pollock 1995

For anyone that’s familiar with the bottom half of Miner’s site, they know that there are a lot of ideas passed around on the board on any given day. Often times you’ll find great nuggets of info regarding the latest music, what food or drink spots to check on tour or how to burn a copy of your bootleg DVD.  If you’re like me, you probably try and make a mental note or jot something on a scratch of paper, but the hell if  I’m gonna dig through pockets on the road, ya dig? Last week, after some discussion on the “BB,” I threw together the “W00kipedia” where we can all add our knowledge so its easily accessible from anywhere. Just create an account and edit the pages as you wish. Please remember to link your newly created pages to the main page with a blurb about it so people can easily find it. Though the infrastructure is up, there are very few pages up already. This will be a resource that grows in usefulness with the more people who contribute! Enjoy.  -Mitch (http://ptbb.wikia.com)

=====

“The Venues of Summer: Volume I” Utica DVD Raffle

The Winners Are...

First off, thanks to all who contributed. With over 20 entries, the raffle came down to 15 people who named all the tracks on the compilation. The contestants who made it into the raffle were: Matt Stevens, Jeremy Renda, Jason Embry, Mark Hoyt, Soloman Hay, Chris Magnerelli, Michael Aurzada, Brian Richardson, James Emantin, Mario DiPasquale, Brian Brinkman, Randy Hope, Ross Bellenoit, Mike DesJardins, and Mitch Ladd.

And the three raffle winners—as picked by Mrs. Miner—who win a “Live In Utica” DVD/CD box set are: Matt Stevens, Mark Hoyt and Brian Brinkman!! Congrats guys—shoot me an email with your mailing address and I’ll get the packages out to you!

The tracks were:

“Birds Of A Feather -> Catapult PNC 6.29.2000

“Mike’s Song” Blossom 6.20.95

“Harry Hood” Darien Lake 8.14.97

“Reba > Carini” Great Woods 7.13.99

“It’s Ice” Riverbend 9.20.2000

“Piper -> What’s The Use?” Great Woods 9.11.2000

“Split Open and Melt > Kung > Jam” PNC 7.15.1999

=====

Jam of the Day:

Split Open and Melt” 6.21.94

I had never heard this beast until Kevin Shapiro dropped it as part of Live Bait 4 last week. I immediately dubbed it “the best jam I’ve never heard.”

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.

=====

YOUR SUMMER TOUR PHOTOS ARE NEEDED!!

If you’re going to a show this summer, bring your point-and-shoot cameras! As of last year these are allowed into venues, so snap away and send me your best shots! I don’t have consistent photo contributors for this upcoming tour, so it’s very likely that if you send me some shots after the show that you’ll see them on the site the next morning! You can send photos in zip files (preferred) or as individual email attachments. Let’s see your creativity all over the site the summer! If you’d like to contribute, please email your photos to mrminer@phishthoughts.com before you go to sleep after the show! Thanks! (I will always take shots the next day as well.)

Tags:

TTFF: Venues of Summer: Leg One

Posted in Uncategorized with the tags , on May 20th, 2011 by Mr.Miner

6.27.10 Merriweather (Graham Lucas)

As tour awaits, here’s little history to get us prepared for next week…

***

Mango -> Free” 9.17.00 II

One of my favorite highlights from Merriweather history; some outlandish music.

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.

***

Bathtub Gin” 7.10.99 I

6.25.10 (C. March)

While “Tweezer,” “Birds,” and Chalk Dust” have all drawn their due credit from Phish’s first show in Camden, this “Bathtub Gin” helped craft a stellar opening set.

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.

***

Stash” 7.1.95 II SBD

A classic version from one of the final shows of Summer ’95 at Great Woods.

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.

***

2001” 7.7.99 II

6.26.10 (G.Lucas)

This Charlotte set-opener, with an extended intro, gets into some a dynamic exercise in space-groove.

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.

***

Piper” 8.8.98 SBD

A stellar Summer ’98 version, just as “Piper” was breaking out of its shell.

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.

***

Twist -> Slave” 7.4.00 II SBD

6.26.10 (G.Lucas)

This recently released nugget from Camden has been a favorite since I walked out of the show. This new SBD allows you to hear the nuances of this dark-themed interplay in “Twist,” while the “Slave took home the 4th of July.

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.

***

Reba” 9.14.2000 I

This “Darien “Reba” takes a brief dip into a dark theme before resolving back into the classic groove.

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.

PNC - Holmdel, NJ

***

Drowned -> Rock and Roll ” 6.29.00 I

A classic, old-western shredfest that capped the first set at PNC 2000.

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.

-

Tags: ,

“Venues of Summer Vol. I” & Utica Giveaway!

Posted in Uncategorized with the tags , on May 18th, 2011 by Mr.Miner

PNC Bank Arts Center - Holmdel, NJ

As Summer Tour is around the corner, and in the spirit of the new soundboard tracks from the archives that continue to trickle out from “Past Summer Tours,” I decided to combine a compilation of my own with a contest and giveaway. Here’s the deal: in the compilation linked below—”Miner’s Venues of Summer Vol. I”—you’ll find 12 tracks from the history of Leg One venues. Just drop folder into iTunes and the setlist of the compilation will pop-up. But here’s the catch, you won’t see the venues or dates of the selections. Your job is to come up with the correct venue and date for each selection, nothing too hard, and shoot me an email with the subject line “Summer Venue Contest.” All correct responses will be entered to win one of three brand spanking new copies of “Phish: Live In Utica” DVD/CD box set! All winning entries will be put into a hat and the three winners will be drawn at random. You may enter anytime until Sunday at 3pm pacific, and the winners will be announced on Monday! Send your entries to mrminer@phishthoughts.com (FYI: I didn’t get all techie and strip MP3 tags, but just drop the folder in iTunes and play by the honor code. The point is to get as many candidates as possible for the Utica drawing, not to trick anyone.)

Enjoy the Tunes!

MINER’S VENUES OF SUMMER VOL. I < DOWNLOAD HERE!

*****
10.20.2010: “I Saw It Again > Antelope”

=====

Jam of the Day:

Halley’s -> Roses -> NO2” 7.13.99 I

Here’s a selection from Great Woods history that didn’t make the compilation, but is a retro-summer treat, nonetheless.

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.

Tags: ,

The Art of AJ Masthay

Posted in Uncategorized with the tags , on May 18th, 2011 by Mr.Miner

Hampton '09 - Bass Bomb

Concert art has been a large facet of the Phish scene for quite some time, as legions of fans have transformed into collectors who buy, sell and trade show posters. While this hobby, often bordering on obsession, once centered on official posters sold at the merch stands, in the past few years, more and more independent artists have been issuing their own print runs for shows. And, as a result, unofficial prints have found a legitimate niche in the collecting community. AJ Masthay, one of the leading independent Phish artists, has come into his own since the band has returned in this era, transforming his art into sought after collectibles with a style distinctly his own. The two prints AJ made for the band’s Hampton reunion, in his own words, “represented a turning point” for his work and took his art to “a new level.” Since then, his prints have become favorites of collectors for their bold, engaging imagery and vibrant colors schemes. I recently caught up AJ to talk about his history as an artist, the inspiration behind his work, and the current state of affairs at Masthay Studios.

*****

MM: So, what came first, Phish or art?

Telluride 2010

AJM: Art came way before Phish—hell, my parents still have my kindergarten show & tell drawings of Spiderman! I was always the quintessential “art geek” throughout school, no interest in sports, proms, [or the more popular activities.] That’s probably one of the reasons I eventually clicked with heads and the counterculture surrounding the Grateful Dead and then Phish.

MM: Growing up, who were artists that you admired and who influenced your early vision?

AJM: When in art school getting my degree, I was heavily influenced by the old Italian Renaissance masters. I’ll never forget my first trip to Italy and just being blown away by Michelangelo’s slaves, unreal. My mentor at that time was a printmaker named Fred Wessel, and he really is the one who spurred on my love of prints and printmaking. As I became more interested in concert posters, I’d say my main influences were the works of Jeff Wood, Stanley Mouse and, of course, Jim Pollock.

MM: Talk a little bit about how you got into printing concert posters.

AJM: Well, I had to pay for going on tour somehow, right? I’m no good at making veggie burritos or French bread pizza, so it made sense to try to sell some artwork on the lots to help get me to the next shows. My absolute first experience selling on the lot was at the Lemonwheel. I had done a couple charcoal drawings of Jerry and made cheap photocopies of them to sell. Sure enough, they did pretty well at $5 a pop, and made me think maybe I had something here.

Fresh out of college I still had access to my university’s printshop, so I’d sneak in there and crank out 50 or so prints for upcoming shows to sell on the lots. Next thing I knew I found my own press and was able to set up my own humble printshop. I think the first works I created specific to the scene were back on TAB tour in 2001. These were small editions done on an etching press. They were well received and things just kind of snowballed from there.

Atlantic City 2010 Triptych

MM: Your prints have gained popularity for their bold imagery, thick use of paint, and vibrant colors. Explain a little how you’re vision and style has developed.

AJM: I’ve always loved dynamic compositions when it comes to artwork, I guess that’s where a lot of the bold imagery comes from. I believe it’s important to create a lot of depth in a print, places where the viewer can crawl into the image and get lost. I also love breaking the borders of an image, again, making parts of the print appear to jump off the page.

The vibrant colors come from my traditional printmaking background and preference for oil based inks over water. I often get comments about the “smell” of opening a fresh tube from my studio, which is due to the oil based inks. Also the fact that I layer my inks on the paper gives the colors more depth and after enough layers, a really nice glossy sheen that you don’t typically find on other prints.

MM: Have you been hired to do official work for any bands?

AJM: Absolutely. Most notably, over the past year, would be the multiple editions I’ve done for Umphrey’s McGee and Widespread Panic. In all likelihood, the lot art will become a thing of the past as my schedule becomes busier with the official work.

Worcester 2010

MM: How did those jobs come about?

AJM: I know the art director from Umphrey’s was a good friend of one of my biggest supporters. He introduced her to my work and the band approached me to do their 12/30/09 print at the Aragon Ballroom. I guess they liked my style; since then I’ve done prints for them at Red Rocks, Minneapolis, Madison, NYC, Boston, Philly, and a full triptych for their last New Year’s Run at the Riviera in Chicago.

Widespread learned about my work through Jeff Wood. They had asked him to recommend some new artists and he turned them on to me. Thanks Jeff!

MM: Explain the process of making a print for people who might not understand.

AJM: The majority of my works are reduction relief prints, also known as “suicide prints.” Each color in a print is created by carving a sheet of linoleum—envision a giant rubber stamp. But because I layer my colors on top of each other and do multiple carvings on the same plate, the plates, themselves, are destroyed in the creation process, hence [the term] “suicide prints.” What this also means is that there will never be any second editions of my work because the plates do not exists by the end of the printing process.

While creating last year’s Summer Camp Festival print, I made a nice little process page on my website that explains the process with tons of photos. Check it out for a better understanding.

MSG 2010 Triptych

MM: These days, how do you decide what Phish shows to make prints for?

AJM: I can’t say there is much rhyme or reason to it. I guess it’s based mostly upon what venues or locations I’m interested in or at least get my juices going. Nine times out of ten these are the shows I’ll be hitting on a tour, but not always.

MM: How do you get your inspiration for your prints? Do you consider location and Phish history? What type of things factor in?

AJM: I’ve learned that inspiration can come from any direction, usually when you least expect it. I have a running note on my iPhone entitled “Print Concepts” and every time something pops in my head, I force myself to stop and jot it down. I know if I don’t, it’ll be gone forever. (Damned short-term memory!) I enjoy doing prints for venues I’ve actually attended and will usually use some type of personal experience I’ve had there to work into the image. Sometimes it resonates with others, sometimes it doesn’t. Phish history can also play into an image. One specific example is my MSG prints from the last New Years Run. My first shows were the ’93 New Year’s Run with the fish tank stage. I’ve always wanted to create something around those memories and it became the basis for the underwater theme of those prints.

MM: What are your favorite Phish prints that you’ve done? Overall?

Hampton '09 - Bass Bomb II

AJM: That’s a tough question, like who’s your favorite child. My two Hampton prints from 2009—the Bass Bomb and Bass Bomb II—have to be near the top, if not at the top. I think those two prints really represent a turning point in my work, where something “clicked” and my prints went to a new level. Other highlights would have to be my Telluride and Atlantic City prints from last year and the Bethel and Portsmouth prints from this current run. Telluride and Portsmouth because of their classic, dignified images, and AC and Bethel because they are just downright fun.

MM: Let’s go through your Leg One prints for this summer. What was the inspiration for each? (To purchase any prints, simply click on the image!)

AJM: I had a tough time coming up with concepts for Leg One. I pushed myself a bit outside of my comfort zone and chose all venues I’ve never been to so there was no way for me to draw from personal experience.

Bethel Woods Triptych – 5.27,28,29 : Originally I wanted to do something for Bethel based around the Furthur bus and the whole Woodstock thing, but as I worked out sketches it all felt trite and I knew it wasn’t going to work. So I thought about the fact that the whole place used to be a dairy farm, and imagined what it must have been like back in the early ‘60’s before all the hippies descended; just cows roaming around. What kind of craziness might have happened in those fields back then? Why, alien cow abductions of course…

***

PNC – 5.31 & 6.1: PNC was a fun one. Sometimes when I’m stuck on a venue I turn to the good ol’ Internet and see what Wikipedia has to say about the history of a city or venue. It turns out Bell Labs had a headquarters in Holmdel for many, many years. God only knows what kind of freaky experiments went on there, which got me thinking “How would a scientist explain what makes a Phish show special?”. I don’t think it’s a question that can be answered by analyzing the scene, but it sure would be fun to watch them try!

***

Alpharetta – 6.14 & 15: Alpharetta is what I affectionately call the “Jabba Frog.” Having never been there, I’m pretty sure there are no swamps in that part of Georgia, but to be honest, that didn’t matter to me. I wanted to make a print that had that feeling of a humid overgrown swamp lake with huge flies buzzing around and a big fat frog getting fatter off them. I enjoyed playing with the borders on this piece, almost making the flies break out of the image to escape being eaten.

-

***

-

Portsmouth – 6.19: Portsmouth has obvious ties to the nautical history of the town. In Connecticut, we have Mystic Seaport, where they have some of the really old, majestic tall ships, and I thought it would make the perfect image for that town. Again, I think this print has almost a vintage feel to it, something anyone could appreciate whether knowing it’s a concert poster or not. Really, one of my all time favorites.

MM: So, in regard to a possible collaboration with Phish in the future, do you know how they select artists for their official prints?

AJM: I’m not aware of what the process is, but hell yeah, I would love to do official work for my favorite band.

MM: Before signing off, any last words or anything you’d like to add about your craft?

AJM: I just really enjoy creating art. Honestly, I do it for myself. I think I’d still be drawing and printing if no one else were interested in my work. The fact that so many people appreciate it still blows my mind to this day and I appreciate the support of every person that digs my art.

***

If you would like to order any of AJ’s prints for only $35, head over to Masthay Studios! AJ is also offering Leg One “subscriptions” for $225, where you will get the same number for each print in the series and get them delivered all at once. Check it out…

=====

Jam of the Day:

Tweezer > 2001” 7.1.98 II

A throwback to Summer ’98′s second show of summer in Den Gra Hal and one of the most mind-melting sequences that dropped all season

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.

*****

Greek Theatre 2010 Triptych

Tags: ,

What Might Bethel Bring?

Posted in Uncategorized with the tags on May 15th, 2011 by Mr.Miner

Bethel Woods (smartertravel.com)

Opening a sprawling summer tour on the grounds of the original Woodstock festival, Phish will settle in for three nights in the rural atmosphere before hitting the road. Within three shows, we can be fairly certain some serious stuff will go down. Assuming the band is coming into the summer off of rehearsals—as they did last year, when the first three shows were among the strongest of June—Bethel’s trifecta holds promising possibilities and should kick the summer off in style. Here are some things I feel we may see over the first three nights in New York State.

***

Bethel 5.29 (Masthay)

New Songs: Phish came back with Joy in 2009, and we haven’t seen too many new songs beyond those on the album thus far. As the band traditionally debuts new material at the beginning of tour, I would imagine we’ll hear some new songs over the nights in Bethel. Before the band’s comeback, Trey and Tom, allegedly, wrote a large group songs, many of which we’ve yet to hear. One of the duo’s efforts—”Pigtail’—popped out on 12/28 in Worcester, and sounded like one of the most promising new pieces from 2010. Hopefully Bethel will bring out more of these unplayed Anastasio/Marshall selections. Summer Tour will provide the band plenty to develop whatever new material, they have in store, hence the beginning of the season is the perfect time to break it out.

***

A New Jam Vehicle: I would also imagine that we’ll hear a new jam vehicle during the first three nights of tour. “Light” has been the band’s sole cosmic launchpad written in this era, with a jam spouting from “Number Line” here and there. It’s high time that the guys add a new vehicle to their repertoire. Whether this new jam takes the form of a comeback song a la “Scents and Subtle Sounds” or “A Song I Heard the Ocean Sing,” an expansion of a current song a la “Stealing Time” or “Pigtail,” or a brand new song we’ve yet to hear, I think Phish is ready to add another springboard into the mix. I know we are all ready to hear one!

***

12.30.2010 (Graham Lucas)

The Rebirth of “Tweezer”: 2010 was a tough year for “Tweezer,” as the band rarely focused their improvisational energies on the classic song. Producing the most impressive—though still contained—versions at Hartford, Merriweather, Alpharetta and the Greek, the band, subsequently, took the song much farther than any of these instances during the New Year’s Run at MSG. On the 30th, the band used “Tweezer” to push musical boundaries for the first time since Miami (12.29.09) and took the song on its most extensive explorations of the modern era. With a massive summer tour staring them down, I think Phish will get “Tweezer” back into the improvisational mix and, once again, use their seminal springboard to explore new ground again during 2011.

***

12.31.10 (George Estreich)

More Staccato Jamming: Phish seemed to hit on something during the New Year’s Run, as several of their standout jams featured staccato leads from Trey and, in response, similarly-styled phrasings from his bandmates. A jamming style that coaxes equitable offerings from all band members and has already sculpted some of the best four-part conversations of the era, the band may have just found themselves a direction to explore come Summer Tour in their staccato interplay. This type of improv has already infused a spectrum of standout jams spanning “Harry Hood” to “Sand,” illustrating its versatility—a key to any stylistic focal point. I can only assume the guys, themselves, have noticed some of these same things.

***

With three nights to settle into Summer Tour before hitting the road to PNC, we will get a mini-preview of what the band has in store for us this summer during their first-ever visit to Bethel Woods. Kicking off tour with three-night stands, though a rarity throughout the band’s career, has become their latest M.O., as this will mark their third consecutive tour to start with such a stand (Broomfield, Greek).  Giving the band members, as well as their audience, a chance to ease into the rigor of the road, a three-night stand is just what the doctor ordered. Whether camping, staying at a rental property in lake country, or simply raging a hotey, Memorial Day weekend will be far more laid back staying in one place. And we are almost there.

=====

Jam of the Day:

Tweezer” 12.30.10 II

This exploratory version that passes through a staccato segment, hits on two of the day’s themes. Bethel, here we come…

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.

Tags: