The Rebirth of “Tube”

Posted in Uncategorized with the tags , , on December 7th, 2011 by Mr.Miner

Fall 1997 (Unknown)

Fourteen years ago tonight, Phish pulled into Dayton’s Nutter Center on a Sunday night following, perhaps, their best performance of Fall ’97 in Auburn Hills. The band had visited the intimate arena once before on 11.30.95 and a played a great show anchored by the second set sequence “Tweezer -> Makisupa -> Antelope.” But two years later, on December 7th, Phish was neck deep in funk grooves and there was still one song they hadn’t played all summer or fall. Because of my love for the ’95 Nutter show, when Cleveland hit on 12/5, I made the call to the people I was riding with—”Tube” in Dayton. It just felt right. The Nutter Center and “Tube” would go well together, at least in theory, and as it turned out the combination wasn’t so bad in reality either!

The last time the band had played “Tube” was in Stuttgart, Germany on 2.26.97, where they hinted at their forthcoming funk in a first-set rendition. But this version stayed true to the form, anchored by Page the entire time as he moved from piano to organ and then back to piano while the rest of the band sat aside comping him. The song has always been a short, infectious, sought after bust out, but with the developments of Summer and Fall ’97, the potential collision of an asteroid and Phish on a James Brown-esque rampage across the country had all sorts of potential. Thus when the band actually did play “Tube” towards the end of the first set at the Nutter Center—I can still remember the moment it dropped—the intimate venue felt like it might explode.

Sliding into Page’s clav solo with precision, the band immediately carried a synced-tempo of champions. They hit a strong collaborative groove behind Page, as he went off on his clav then switched to organ. As the band hit a break, where in the past they might have ended the song, they came back in with a collaborative funk groove of the Fall ’97 variety. The Nutter center shook as the band reinvented the song in front of our eyes. Hitting another break, Trey scratched out a guitar pattern and the band dove headfirst back into the funk for another section of grooves before bridging to the end of the song. All of a sudden, it felt like this funk treatment was what the song had been made for. Phish had done more than impressed everyone in the audience—they had impressed themselves!

After winding up the particularly tight groove, the band liked what they had done so much, that instead of starting a new song, they went right back into the rhythmic workout. Elaborating on the funk theme by adding layers of effects and melody, the band took this section into more earnest improvisational realms. Transforming into one of the eternal highlights of the fall, this jam transformed into a delicate melody-infused hyper-groove; this was music that felt as good as it sounded. Several minutes in, Trey gradually blended in hints of “Slave,” and the band eventually made the move into a magnificent set-closing rendition.

Though Dayton ’97 will always be remembered for many aspects of its show, the most revolutionary was the first truly improvised and funkified “Tube.” After transforming the song into a jam vehicle on this night, Phish kept the song in loose rotation through the end of 2000, appearing in many shapes and sizes. And it was always an adrenaline-inducing dance party. Finishing a gargantuan Midwestern weekend in Dayton and with their reborn song in tow, the band headed for the home stretch of their hallowed tour with a bullseye on Albany one week later. All those “Tubes” we know and love throughout the late ’90s can be traced directly back to the grandfather of all “Tube” jams from Dayton on this 14 years ago.

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Jam of the Day:

Tube > Slave” 12.7.97 I

A classic.

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A Box Set Debate…

Posted in Uncategorized with the tags on December 6th, 2011 by Mr.Miner

In Stores Today

Instead of posting on Phish Thoughts today, I co-wrote an article with “Guy Forget” of Online Phish Tour for publication on their site. With the official release of the Hampton/Winston-Salem box set today, we had a written debate on which show is the “best” in the box—nothing like making art compete! I made a case for 11.23 at Winston-Salem, while he took the position of Hampton’s second night, 11.22. Check out the article, it should be a fun read!

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Jam of the Day:

Tweezer -> Izabella” 12.6.97 II

Today is the 14 year anniversary of my favorite “Tweezer” ever played.

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Here’s a link to a piece I wrote about this jam a while back. I’ll post the beginning below.

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My “Go-To” Jam

12/6/97 "Tweezer" T-Shirt - LE

Everyone has a go-to jam. It fits any mood you could ever be in, and you’ve listened to it several hundred times in your life. It is the first piece of music you want to hear when you are glowing after a show, ready to conquer the world. It is the first piece of music you want to listen to after a hard day at work. It is the only piece of music you could never possibly get sick of, even if played on a loop in your head forever. It is that analog tape you played to death, that CD you never lost, and now it is forever stored on your computer, iPod, and several other devices. It is part of you; you feel like what you hear, it just all fits. For me, there is only one answer to this scenario—the “Tweezer” from Auburn Hills ’97. Read on!

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Box Set Giveaway Results!

Posted in Uncategorized with the tags on December 5th, 2011 by Mr.Miner

First off, thanks to all eight people who entered the contest! I realize it took more effort to describe a jam in 500 words than to send me your email address, and for that you deserve a round of applause. To decide the two winners, I chose my favorite five entries, put their name in a hat, and allowed Mrs. Miner to determine the fate of the box sets. And the two winners of Phish Thoughts Hampton/Winston-Salem Box Set Giveaway are…

Devin Concannon – “The Hampton Halley’s”

Mike Aurzada – “The Hampton Hood”

Congratulations! Shoot me an email with your address and I’ll get the box sets out to you today or tomorrow!

Thanks to all eight contestants! In addition to the winners, they were, Matt Stevens, Joshua Dobczak, Matt Gedellwas, Scott Graham, Chasin Holden, and Bob Davis. Below are the final five entries:

*****

Devon Concannon – “The Hampton Halley’s”

It has been leaked online for some time, but the hype isn’t another case of “well circulated soundboard syndrome” – in 25 short minutes the band declared proudly that this was Fall  ’97 and this was going to be one of, if not the best tour of their career.

6.3.11 - Clarkston, MI (Michael Stein)

After a legendary night-one, fans wandered back into the Mothership wondering what Phish could possibly have left to offer. After a strong first set featuring a “Mike’s Groove > Hood” opener, the band took the stage amidst high anticipation. Mike’s “bachoo” got the place roaring and we were off! Halley’s Comet itself is a hilarious mix of Phish’s barbershop vocals and blues, with nonsensical lyrics of Phish lore (though, not actually written by Phish themselves!). Regardless, on this fall night in 1997, a backdrop of comedy was the perfect launching pad for a Phishy adventure into the abyss.

Trey felt something in the air. He yells to Mike – “Let’s stay on this!” Immediately they settle into a bouncing funk groove, locking down over thumping bass and cow funk guitar chops. They begin to tell a story with the music, as if to score a film – by the 8-minute mark the groove has morphed into a thematic melody with a sense of searching, driving, yearning. Trey’s effects and delivery create a sense of tip-toeing across Page and Mike’s fluid offerings. With suggestive lines he leaves us sitting on the edges of our seats, waiting to find out what’s next in this story. Trey found an opportunity to add a new texture to the mix, orchestrally slamming the relative major chord over Page and Mike’s flowing groove. With his wizardly-wave, the momentum shifted on a dime without ever dismantling the unity of the song. Fishman transformed from groove-oriented setwork to a more percussive approach, matching Trey’s ringing bursts.

Over the next few minutes Trey would built a patient gorgeous soundscape that tapped into his inner emotions. I jot down the words that come to mind in hopes I can describe it for the purposes of this essay but I can not. The words I jot down are “wonder, gaze, awe, vastness, curiosity”. With incredible note choice, like a poet of masterful diction, Trey formed an incredible story within what became a frame of Zappa’s “He Used to Cut the Grass”.

As the band began to paint spacey textures of underwater exploration, Trey poured his soul into a guitar confessional – an emotion epiphany shared by the audience. In a telepathic build, they achieve lift off – Trey soaring through the air with the massive, glowing, Fall ’97 tone. Chills. My jotting becomes incoherent scribbles as the universe is channeled through Trey’s nerdy little pasty fingers, guiding the band through a secretive, blissful outro and directly into Phishtory as we know it. Hampton “Halley’s” is Phish, and Phish Always Wins. It’s a science fact.

*****

Mike Aurzada – “The Hampton Hood”

A more traveled friend of mine, who was with me at many shows of  Summer and Fall ’97 tour summed it up for me by saying “Every set… every song placement … from opener to closer is a target rich environment for an epic jam.  It surely keeps you on your toes.  There are no piss breaks”

Bold words, that Phish could turn on anywhere and everywhere.  My instant cynic said that Phish struggled to pull off those introspective, subtle, victory lap ethereal jams like a great “Slave” or “Hood” in a first set.  Without it being the set closer.

11/22 and Phish seemingly started a Set III from the previous night. Like they never took an encore and came out for one more set. Sea legs and ready to go.  A monstrous funked out melodic “Mike’s”  out of the gate, and into a phenomenal “Weekapaug.” Definitely Second Set material.  Good time to expect a breather. “NICU,” etc.

The roar from the crowd makes me smile. Set two antics, and just over a half hour into set one. Hampton and “Hood” go together.

The patience of the first two minutes is fantastic. The band phenomenally tight before the first chants of “Harry, Harry, Where do you go when the lights go out!” you know that they are all just laughing and having a great time on stage. Unforced. Confident. Relaxed.  And flawless. Not a note missed in the composed section. Perfection.

The Gorge 2011 (Graham Lucas)

I won’t go into the note by notes of the “Hood” Jam. Everyone probably has a passage that grabs them. But for me, I turn this “Hood” up, close my eyes and am lifted.  Starting with patience and  leisure, you can sense the communication of Page and Trey listening to each other that lets you know, there is no forcing anything here. Each a melodic equal. Take your time. No curfew to worry about. Let the notes flow through you  All four members come together each taking their own piece and rolling the melody along. Is there another song as coordinate as this jam? My ears wander musically between Page, Trey, Mike and Jon, and find each one with a pertinent, great contribution to say. Quiet, yet refined. Building.

I find myself breathing slower in the jam. A zen like state. Somewhere about half way through, Trey is gonna slowly lift me up. Like a friend reaching a hand out for you to get up from a comfortable sublime position you’ve taken. And at the end of that hand up, is a warm hug.

This band communicates to us. And while there is tons of raging porno funk and melodic jamming layered everywhere over these three days. It’s a simple “Harry Hood” that turns me on. Maybe it’s the placement. Maybe it’s the patience. But if someone wanted to know why I love Phish. Hey, listen to this.

Fall ’97 And every set and song placement is a target rich environment. Ain’t that the truth.

*****

Matt Stevens – Hampton’s “Emotional Rescue”

My favorite jam of the Hampton/Winston-Salem ’97 run is the very first one of the three nights, the” Emotional Rescue” opener on 11/21. Is it the best jam from these shows? Maybe, maybe not; there are certainly no shortage of contenders—among them the 11/21 “AC/DC Bag,” the 11/22 “Mike’s” and “Halley’s,” the 11/23 “Bathtub Gin,” and both “Black-Eyed Katy’s”.  What sets the Emotional Rescue apart to me is what it signifies where Phish was at the time it happened. Phish, in Fall ’97, is the only band in the world that could open a show with a first time performance of the Rolling Stones’ 48th most well known song, one with bizarrely falsetto vocals Mike admirably committed to and pulled off in his own twisted way, a song that 90% of the attendees had likely never heard before that night, and absolutely crush it for 17 minutes. A moment like this could only happen as a result of the confidence, precision, and majesty that the band was playing with at the time.

6.18.11 (John Crouch)

Led by Mike’s thumping bass, Fish’s sharp drumming and Trey’s wah-pedal driven funk scratching, “Emotional Rescue” fits perfectly within the central tenets of the Fall ’97 sound. As the jam begins out of the closing chorus of the song, Trey patiently allows his band mates to shine. Mike continues to lead the charge as Trey starts setting a series of loops. Trey then begins soulfully strumming chords over his loops as Page becomes more prominent in the conversation on the piano.  At about 9 minutes Page moves to the synthesizer and starts creating sounds to match the spaciness of Trey’s loops. He returns to the piano after a minute and Trey’s playing gets a bit more aggressive as a really nice section stressing “the one” of each measure develops.  Trey starts an eager riff which Fish picks up on and the tempo of the jam begins to increase. It is here, at nearly thirteen minutes in that Trey begins to play what would typically be considered lead guitar for really the first time in the jam, which is not to say his previous playing was not impressive or compelling as it was certainly both, rather that it was this thoughtfully restrained playing that allowed this and countless other full-band improvisations to flourish that fall. As the jam works its way out of the “Emotional Rescue” groove and into a darker, spacier place, Page returns to the synth and layers a wash of sound over Mike’s ever deepening bass bottom. The tempo slows way down and Trey delicately plays a pattern of notes as the jam begins to resolve. Finally Fish starts “Split Open and Melt” and it’s clear that this is not just any show. Neither, as it turned out, would it be just any weekend.

*****

Scott Graham – “The Hampton Halley’s”

8

8.17.11 (Michael Stein)

Trying to decide what jam you like the most from three stellar nights of rock-n-roll of that late November weekend in Hampton, Virginia is tough. Each show has its own unique qualities that stand out from the next. Personally “Halley’s Comet” stands out to me as a once in a lifetime “Halley’s.” Over the crowd noise you can hear Mikes low voice start the beginning of “Halley’s!” The vocal portion of the song is flawless even with the crowds help and the energy builds.  Just under 4:30 into the song the band dives directly into a 70’s porn funk groove without missing a beat. Thick and crunchy all at the same time with a perfect blend from each of the members it’s an instant dance groove. Page and Fish lead the way as Trey and Mike sit back and build momentum. Trey and Page start to exchange ideas and immediately seem to be on the same page. Trey’s light patterns are filled with delicate notes from Page as the four members start to blend on a single idea. These are the jams I miss today. The band takes an early idea to another level as Trey grows increasingly confident with the direction the music is taking him. A patient build and Trey takes control of the entire audience. This is one of the musical adventures that we chase as fans.  Twelve minutes into this song we all have a pretty good idea where this adventure is heading and it’s fantastic. Fish Mike and Page are locked perfectly in a complemented beat as Trey in detail expresses his emotions over the top.  When the band decides to switch directions they do so with little effort.  Page stands up and goes “up top” and starts to drop that old school funk feel which Mike and Fish pick up on instantly and seamlessly. You can tell Trey and company are enjoying this as much as the crowd.

As the music slows to me is where Phish’s true “art work” is on display the most. The delicate textures that keep the adventure going is something that sets this band apart from other jam bands.  Instead of going into another song they decide to keep this story alive. The next seven minutes, to put it simply, is Phish at its finest. Pure art work directly from the minds of four musical magicians. Its masterful, beautiful, dark, simplistic, delicate, deliberate, and complicated all at the same time. This song is why I drive thousands of miles and spend hundreds of dollars each and every year to see this band play. It’s a once in a lifetime moment that will never be recreated on stage. The energy that is created when four minds are thinking as one and there music is the idea we hear as a result is something that is hard to explain with words. Locking eyes with a complete stranger sharing a smile during what can only be described as a “moment”…

Thank you Phish!

*****

Bob Davis: “The Hampton AC/DC Bag” – A Haiku

AC/DC Bag
This is what it’s all about.
You had me at Ghost.

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Jam of the Day:

Harry Hood” 12.5.95 II Amherst, MA

A phenomenal Fall ’95 rendition from UMass from 16 years ago today. Trey playing through the haunting Leslie cabinet…

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Slave to the Traffic Light” 12.5.97 II, Cleveland, OH

A dark and exploratory “Slave?” Fourteen years ago tonight…

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TTFF: The Beginning of December

Posted in Uncategorized with the tags on December 2nd, 2011 by Mr.Miner

As the calendar flips to December, memories of Phish jams past always dance in our heads. The month is synonymous with vintage Phish, as the band brings their explorations of the year to a head each year. Throughout history, many fall tours spilled into the early weeks of December, and in 1999, the band gave December a tour of its own, as the band geared up for Big Cypress. This week’s playlist is taken from shows that took place on the first two days of December throughout the years. Enjoy the tunes as we fade into the weekend.

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Peaches En Regalia” 12.1.96 I, Los Angeles, CA

This bustout of “Peaches,” for the first time since 12.31.94, opened the show at Pauly Pavilion at UCLA.

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Mike’s Song > Weekapaug” 12.1.95 II, Hershey, PA

Nineteen-ninety five was, arguably, the peak year for “Mike’s Groove,” and as the band careened towards ’96,every single version in December absolutely slayed. This is the first one—a legendary rendition from Hershey, PA.

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Split Open and Melt” 12.1.94 I, Salem, OR

Another outrageous ’94 “Split.” They just don’t make ’em like this anymore.

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Tweezer” 12.2.95 II, New Haven, CT

This fierce all-timer transcends groove and lands in pure musical annihilation. In SBD clarity thanks to @shapsio!

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Reba” 12.1.96 II

A big-time second-setter from Pauly Pavilion.

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Light” 12.2.09, NYC, NY

One of the first jaw-dropping versions of “Light.”

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Bathtub > 2001 > YEM” 12.2.99 II, Auburn Hills, MI

This show kicked off the Phish’s torrid December Tour of ’99, and this sequence formed the scorching centerpiece—and a tour highlight.

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