TTFF: 11.11.11

9.14.11 - Essex Junction, VT G.Lucas / webcast)

This Friday, we’ll take a break from MSG memories and look at what Phish has done on Veterans Day, November 11th, throughout their career. Since 1990, the band has only played three times on 11.11—in 1995 at The Fox in Atlanta, 1996 at Van Andel Arena in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and again at Van Andel in 1998! And lo and behold, these three nights have plenty of meat to compose a Friday playlist. The Fox show was the third of a three-night stand that kicked off the second half of a marathon (54 show) fall tour. Taking a week off after Halloween in Chicago, Phish reemerged in Atlanta and would wind their way over six plus weeks up to Albany. I’ve always thought of 11.11.95 as the strongest of the trifecta. The following year, Phish was on their Midwestern leg of Fall tour on the 11th of November, and they were at the very beginning of a metamorphosis. The band had just stunned their audience with their interpretation of Remain In Light for Halloween, and from then on, their slow transformation to groove-based playing was underway. In 1998, Phish had just crushed three nights at UIC Pavilion amidst a standout fall tour when they landed back at Van Andel, in a case of cosmic routing, on the same date they had played there in ’96. This show continued the band’s hot streak and featured one of the best second sets of tour. Let’s reminisce…


Mike’s Song” 11.11.95 I

This raucous jam kicked off the show in the ornate Fox Theatre after a short “Cars, Trucks, Busses” opener.



Ghost” 11.11.98 II

This rarely talked about “Ghost” came as the second set closer at Van Andel, and is one of the most impressive versions of the tour.



Tweezer” 11.11.96 II

A jam that was ahead of its time with sections that sound like they could be plucked from Fall ’97.



2001 > David Bowie” 11.11.95 II

This ferocious “Bowie” vividly illustrates the band’s creative psychedelia of Fall ’95, as they rode with a missile on their back towards December.



Halley’s > Simple > Walk Away” 11.11.98 II

One of the greatest “Halley’s Comets” of the song’s late-90’s renaissance that moves from rock to groove into lunacy…and then into “Simple.”



Gumbo” 11.11..98 I

This slow and methodical standout often hides out of sight, tucked in the beginning of the the first set of Van Andel ’98.



Stash” 11.11.95 I

The dark and overpowering Phish of Fall ’95. Trey goes on quite the rampage in this version.



Slave to the Traffic Light” 11.11.96 II

The melodic endpoint of a relatively dark second set.

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952 Responses to “TTFF: 11.11.11”

  1. Tzara's Ghost Says:

    “aren’t we all just pretending stuff to make life more pleasant?”

    “So does the post-modernist make the actual claim that there is no truth? or recognize that there is a truth, but pretend that there isn’t because life is more pleasant that way?” JeffieM

    Acutally the opposite I think: There is no truth, but we must pretend there is. Life is much more pleasant with truth than without.

  2. SillyWilly Says:

    It’s not guilt.

    I think people are reading guilt on to what I said.

    Adorno said “poetry is barbaric after Auschwitz”

    He’s demanding something new, something different.

    There can be poetry, if it’s not poetry. Get it?

    this embodies a rejection of the past for a new, unknown future.

    “I can’t go on. I’ll go on” embodies the same absurd ethic. The illusion of western progress must surely be dead after WWII (i guess you can agree or disagree with this, but you’re going to have to defend the use of western ideas for Hiroshima, Nagasaki, Dresden, and the elimination of European Jews, Gypsy, and eastern european catholics. No small task) and yet we’re faced with continuing civilization.

    i mean, of course, this is art. So it’s not literal. Unless it is. Of course it isn’t. Except when it is. If it’s not it’s not. But it is. Or it isn’t?


  3. SillyWilly Says:

    i think i gotta go to bed

    i love talking about this stuff. sorry to anyone i turned off.

    there’s definitely lots of people who will disagree with most things i said tomorrow, but it’s the way i see it, and i’ve spent years trying to get around it, and i can’t.

    i think it’s fascinating for understanding phish, too, because phish provides a depth of analysis

  4. JeffieM Says:

    “There is no truth, but we must pretend there is. Life is much more pleasant with truth than without.”

    A week ago, I would have pretty fervently rejected this claim. There is a truth. All questions about nature should be absolute and binary. Even if our answers have to be “maybe” the answer to “the first president of the United States was Andrew Jackson” has an answer, and same with questions like “is Jah real?” and “I’d be happier if I drank less beer.” I have really no way to answer those questions, but they have one answer, just like the Andrew Jackson question.

    I’ve actually been learning a decent amount about quantum physics in the past week that could somehow roll a lot of that on its head. Somehow though, I don’t think we can escape the fact that nature does have an objective reality.

    “aren’t we all just pretending stuff to make life more pleasant?”

    Of course, our world view affects our perceptions which affect our behavior which affects our environment which affects our worldview. Saying we ‘pretend’ things has a connotation of a bit more of a conscious decision to disbelieve our perceptions than I’m comfortable with. We obviously adjust every new perception in a way that fits it into our pre-existing notions of how the world works. I don’t think it’s a deliberate attempt to fool ourselves, though. It’s just a necessity that learning is a process of adding to a pre-existing structure.

  5. JeffieM Says:

    good stuff, Silly. peace.

  6. Tzara's Ghost Says:

    Nice input, @JeffieM. I think you’re pretty much right. There probably is an objective reality, but it’s another question whether we can ever apprehend it. And how does the fact that we can never apprehend whether, for instance, there is a God, or whether the universe will contract back into itself, or if it will expand forever, affect our philosophy and view on life?

    I think that is the question that existentialism posited, and everyone has to have their own answer. But we have to have a worldview nevertheless, and we have to live life as if our worldview were true. So, in that sense, we are ‘pretending.’ At least that’s my take on it. I was being a little cynical probably by saying we invent reality be more pleasant. But there’s some truth to that.

  7. SillyWilly Says:

    Of course nature has an objective reality

    if you jump off a cliff you will literally die. (i mean, physically, but spiritually? or cognitively? or metaphysically? Prove. it.)

    The problem with objective reality is it tells us very little, and what it does tell us will be up to each of us individually to choose to believe or not.

    yes, science gives us more and more of a picture of physical reality. But, even then, we should say science shows us we know less and less which may mean we know more? in the sense that we know we were mistaken in the past but then we’ll be mistaken in the future. at least we know more now than then. So, literally what did we learn? reality is reality now. but not now. and not….now.

    re: Pretending truths

    #1what I mean by that is literally all of this: you are born. you will die.

    anything that makes you face life and post-pone death is pretentious.

    if we were utterly real with ourselves, and many would argue: utterly logical

    we would kill ourselves. right. now.

    when we choose to live we choose to ignore death (I believe this is a good thing, but by many versions of logic, it is not “logical”)

    #2or how about this for truth:

    life is good. we should savor it. we should milk it for what it’s worth. fight death with our entire being.

    isn’t this just as delusional as the person who kills him or herself upon having their first conscious thought?

    both of them ignore equally valid logic.

    where is truth?

    it’s pretend.

    #3or even more interestingly: a 3rd position, the one most of us actually concoct.

    we accept both as valid. and now we have three conceptions of truth. some good points, some bad points, but it all works out. I’m clearly just a little freaked out.

    but, I get through being freaked out not by adhering to a truth, I construct my own reality.

    and at that point, it’s literally just pretending.

    simultaneous truths, ah, such clever construction. but when there’s more than one you have to choose (like a dogmatist), and accepting all of them (like a taoist) is a choice. a pretention (i made that word up)

  8. SillyWilly Says:

    good convo, JeffieM

    it’s fun.

    sorry if my tone sucks at times.

    if my tone sucks it’s because I’m fucking crazy and have these conversations with myself in my room.

    You think I’m kidding.

    I think I drink a lot of coffee.

    I’m not kidding, but I do drink a mild amount of coffee. I’m also fucking crazy.

  9. Phamily Berzerker Says:

    Keep going Silly! just relax you’re doing fine.

  10. JeffieM Says:

    For me, rather than admitting that I am pretending, it’s more the admission to myself that I’m almost certainly wrong in most of my answers to the “tough questions” but that I have to live in the world, so I treat my approximation of reality as true and go from there. I don’t think that I’m right, but I think it works better than any other explanation that I can come up with (or else I’d adopt that view, which would then be subject to the same probable wrongness but most rightness). And on some level, that question doesn’t have as much to do with making the world more pleasant as it does mere survival. Hume would have argued that we can’t really know whether or not food is nourishing, and I think a hard skeptic has to accept that claim. At the same time, though, I don’t think that this line of reasoning has caused anyone to stop eating.

    Maybe pretending is the right word, it’s just a question of how conscious a person is of the fact that they are pretending. I think I’d say that most people are less aware of it than you and Silly would. And yet it’s something I dwell on probably too much. So then am I exceptional in that? How would one know.

    /JeffieM’s metaphysical ramblings

  11. JeffieM Says:

    Stella Blue is a really fucking beautiful song.

  12. Tzara's Ghost Says:

    Stella Blue can pretty much replace the whole conversation we just had and I’d be just as happy. Pretending or not.

  13. SillyWilly Says:

    keep going?


    i really blow my mind when i start to strip down thought to the point where it’s unnecessary.

    you get to that point where it’s just you and your breathing. the mental projector is off. there is no movie at the theater.

    but this doubles up, doesn’t it?

    because you realize your life is a choice. you are there, literally by choice. living implies the rejection of suicide. it has to.

    i mean not before you wake up and have a real thought. that moment when your mind becomes your own, but when you realize all of this is up to me. whatever happens happens because of me.

    and that’s the point where you realize the decision to quiet your thoughts was yours to make and it’s a constant decision. the meditation breaks down if you don’t pretend that you are where you are for no other reason than you.

    and that’s exactly why i was saying my meditation sucks. and it’s also why all of this is so nuts.

    because underneath it all is a constant decision making process. you will continue to choose to be at peace or you will choose to be anxious.

    the problem comes from when the source of your anxiety is that very idea.

    i’m afraid of the choice. the constant fucking choice. you have to choose to keep going. always.

    and that’s where I must pretend.

    living is pretentious.

    it can be funny if you let it be. i laugh my ass off sometimes.

  14. Bwana Says:

    i think one of the best things about sticking around for as many years as you can (i.e. not offing yourself), is that you get to see the evolution of your own thought processes, perspectives, and pretentions… 😉 yes, that’s a selfish reason, but a reason none-the-less… and really if you are taking an introspective look at yourself, then you are likely taking an introspective look at the world around you. which could possibly have an effect on universal consciousness. the optimist would say yes it certainly will and does… a pessimist might argue no we will always be limited in our understanding… and a wook will just spin and spin and spin.

  15. Tzara's Ghost Says:

    “and that’s where I must pretend.
    living is pretentious.
    it can be funny if you let it be. i laugh my ass off sometimes.”

    That’s a good point, that I know we agree on: just because one comes to logical conclusions that tend to negate any extrinsic meaning to existence does NOT mean that you can’t have a blast living it and live it to the fullest. In fact it demands it, since there is nothing else to rely on. I think Sartre’s “Existentialism and Human Emotions” deals with this if I remember correctly. It is not necessarily a somber conclusion.

  16. JeffieM Says:

    And then Silly, I take that and go in the complete opposite direction. Completely macro.

    At some point in the history of this planet, there were two systems fairly similar components and organizations.

    But one of them had some characteristic that caused it to perpetuate.

    And the second generation similar system had the same characteristic.

    And the other first generation system dissolved.

    But there was continuous perpetuation through division, and really the only common characteristic throughout all the generations of these systems were that they were good at surviving until they could reproduce.

    And then there is us, and we exist in a way that makes us pretty good at surviving in a certain environment that is basically our environment long enough to create viable offspring, but the only reason that is our characteristic organization is because our ancestral systems had those same features. They were good at surviving and reproducing.

    And then I realize that one feature that would make a system good at surviving and reproducing is enjoying survival and reproduction.

    And so it’s pretty likely that a characteristic feature of my personality as a system is that I enjoy surviving and reproducing.

    Because if I didn’t, I would. not. exist.


  17. SillyWilly Says:

    Yeah, Tghost

    Sartre has always been a comfort to me.

    also a horror, but a comfort, too.
    I think he would like that characterization of himself. Wry little bastard.

    I’ve always thought Nausea was a helpful story.

    He decides jazz is better than suicide.

  18. SillyWilly Says:

    word, JeffieM

    just keep enjoying so you can survive

  19. Bwana Says:

    i agree forced meditation kind of defeats the purpose for me… but we all eventually find some way to turn off our thoughts that doesn’t require as much active choice making… dance is that medicine for me alot of times. probably why i enjoy phish as much as i do… they always provide a pretty engaging meditation…

  20. SillyWilly Says:

    im going to bed for realz for real

    (i did that on purpose)

    (or maybe I didn’t but thought it was funny, and so I left it)

    (you’ll never know)

    (just pretend what you want)


  21. JeffieM Says:

    yeah, out too.

    take care of your shoes and everything else.

  22. Phamily Berzerker Says:

    Turn your mind to nothing, to air, and let each and every thought as it appears, fall away like rain drops or snow and be here and now with no past and no future. Your thoughts are not solid, they are less than air, let them pass.

    Perhaps yo could see yourself as a rock or stone in a large slowly moving river. Let your thoughts become debris floating on the surface or cloudy water. Let the current sweep them by you as you clear your mind.

    Stillness of mind is massively helpful in getting mindful about lots of thing.

    I’ll be doing some guided meditation work in NYC over the run for folks if interested.

  23. MrCompletely Says:

    great convo

    @jeffiem, I like what you said a couple of posts ago about truth or understanding being something like a working assumption, used in a practical way in order to frame your experience, and not held as final. This is a very scientific view. The idea is to hone your theory or model until it has the highest “order of approximation” possible, meaning that it hews as closely as possible towards a representation of “actual reality” – in science this has a practical meaning, which is that your model of reality should predict (in a statistical sense) real-world (experimental) observation.

    In order to continually improve one’s working theory it is most important to consider all experimental evidence (events in reality) which contradict it or do not fit the model. If you are trying to be clear minded, experiment must always win over theory, and facts which don’t fit must be taken seriously.

    And above all one must always ask: what evidence you falsify my theory? What could prove my worldview to be untrue? If you don’t know the answer to that, you don’t really have a theory or worldview in any meaningful way.

    I never understood the pretentiousness angle. Except that since life contains everything, it “is” almost anything you say it is.

    anyway, here’s some music for ya:

  24. ThePigSong Says:

    woah, I leave for an hour or two and smart thought permeates the board.

    Really dug the first half of that MMSW album that aj didn’t link.

    I also took my full 2003 collection and sorted by time, a clunker here and there but overall it’s provided me with lots of fresh Phish improv.

  25. Bwana Says:

    sounds cool @PB. i still need to secure some tix though… New Yorkers and city folk in general need those outlets for sure. i know they have silence chambers you can rent by the hour in NYC. basically a pod that is soundproof with calming light…

    much like your suggested meditation alludes, i think the closer to wild nature you live the easier it is to find ‘stillness of mind’… always has been for me anyway…

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