TTFW: The End of 2010

Posted in Uncategorized with the tags , , , on March 28th, 2012 by Mr.Miner

12-30-2010—MSG (Graham Lucas)

The time between Fall Tour and New Year’s Run did little to derail Phish’s building momentum. Set to return to Worcester and Madison Square Garden—the exact venues of the ’95 Holiday Run—for an unprecedented five nights, fans were flying high to take on the most extensive year-end run in history. And the band’s playing did not disappoint. Though only one of the five shows really came together as a complete two-setter (1/1/11), the run produced ample highlights as the band completed a tremendous year of progression and playing. It would be almost six months before we greeted the band again in Bethel, but after the holiday run—the musical exclamation point on 2010—the time felt a heck of a lot different than this off season does.

2010’s Holiday Run featured six central jams—”Seven Below -> What’s the Use?,” “Harry Hood,” “Tweezer,” “Sand,” “Ghost,” and “Simple”—and plenty of supporting music to go along with them. Today’s playlist is comprised these selections and more as we continue our audio retrospective on this era.

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Seven Below -> What’s the Use?” 12.27 II

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Wolfman’s Brother” 12.28 I

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Harry Hood” 12.28 II

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Bathtub Gin” 12.30 I

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Tweezer” 12.30 II

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Sand” 12.31 II

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Ghost” 12.31 II

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YEM -> Manteca -> YEM” 12.31 II

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Twist > Simple” 1.1 II

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TTFM: Turning It Up—Fall 2010

Posted in Uncategorized with the tags , , , on March 25th, 2012 by Mr.Miner

10.30.10—Atlantic City, NJ (Dave Lavery)

Following a festival slot at Austin City Limits, Phish’s fall tour of 2010 began in earnest with an intimate three-night stand a Broomfield, Colorado. While these shows didn’t hold up as tour highlights come, they were a solid starter pack for what would be the band’s best 3.0 tour to that point. This tour contained several indelible trends, and the first began in Broomfield—”Light” as a vehicle for quickened groove. What had been primarily an abstract and “ambient”-slanted jam, transformed in Broomfield, upping the song’s potential for improv, and several stellar versions would follow. Another Fall trend was the transformation of “Carini” into a blissed out jam. The band took the demonic piece and continuously flipped it upside down, transforming its path into melodic realms. Finally, durng Fall 2010, “Sand” evolved from a platform for guitar fireworks into a whole-band jam, and was a centerpiece of fall. Surrounding these metamorphoses, Phish’s musical efficiency and proficiency both soared, but the band’s lock-step jamming didn’t fully click until their second performance in Charleston. From that point, Phish traveled north for the rest of the tour—two weeks that saw the band’s consistency return like never before in this era. Less Amherst, the band ran off a stretch standout performances in Augusta, Utica, Providence, Manchester, and three in AC. When this tour ended, the community was flying high as the band seemed destined for greatness again. Today’s playlist—featuring a few more than ten tracks—brings us back though the hottest stretch of Fall 2010.

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Crosseyed and Painless” 10.16 II, Charleston, SC

A three-tiered beast of the likes we rarely hear this era.

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2001 > Tweezer” 10.16 II

A high-octane, mid-set pairing from the band’s fire-stoking show.

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Light” 10.19 II, Augusta, ME

My pick for the version of Fall, combining both groove-based and abstract elements.

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Reba” 10.19 E, Augusta. ME

Out of nowhere Phish dropped one of the elite “Rebas” ever.

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Run Like an Antelope” 10.20 I, Utica, NY

The Utica “Antelope” went where no modern version has been before or after.

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Split > Have Mercy > Piper > Split” 10.20 II, Utica, NY

The unforgettable sequence from Utica’s second set.

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Rock and Roll > Carini” 10.22 II, Providence, RI

Some avant-garde psychedelia into, arguably, the “Carini” of tour.

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Light” 10.26 II, Manchester, NH

A groove-centric rendition that saw a reprise of the “Alumni Blues” funk from the opening set

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Ghost -> Mango” 10.26 II

A fierce “Ghost” that, for some reason, doesn’t get mentioned much.

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Cities” 10.29 I, Atlantic City, NJ

Atlantic “Cities.”

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Sand > Carini” 10.29 II

Two staples of tour came together in the opening show of AC.

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Chalk Dust -> Whole Lotta Love -> Chalk Dust” 10.30 I

Was this a Halloween trick or tease? During setbreak, opinions varied.

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2001 > David Bowie” 10.30 II

After the Zeppelin antics, the band got down to business at the end of the 30th.

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Stash” 10.31 I

The improvisational beast of Halloween.

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Fat Man In a Bathtub” 10.31 II

The kick off of one of Phish’s more fun Halloween sets ever.

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Spanish Moon” 10.31 II

The highlight of “Waiting For Columbus” that we are still waiting to see reemerge.

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2012 Champion: “YOU ENJOY MYSELF”

"You Enjoy Myself"

From Trey is My Friend: “Congratulations to “You Enjoy Myself!” You have won the 2012 Phish March Madness tournament! What a final game… there were probably 20+ lead changes with both teams refusing to bow out without a fight. “Tweezer” was up by 5 votes with 15 minutes to go but “YEM” was able to scrap back in the final few ticks and win by a score of 546-540. Wow! what a great way to finish an amazing tournament. Thank you all so much for making it so fun and so interesting. I’m kinda sad it’s all over :tear: but I’m so happy it was an exciting finish. Thank you once again for voting over and over again and keeping things interactive. Cheers everyone!”

Thanks for participating!

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TTFF: Enter The Ocedoc—August ’10

Posted in Uncategorized with the tags , , on March 23rd, 2012 by Mr.Miner

8.5.06—The Greek (Wendy Rogell)

After only a month off, Phish was back at it again, this time starting out west at Berkeley’s Greek Theatre. Beyond the very creative jamming that took place in the Bay, these shows also welcomed Trey’s newest weapon to the big stage—The Ocedoc. His new guitar completely altered his style of leg one, as he all but abandoning The Whale for more precise runs of notes. The band stopped at Telluride for a couple of shows before moving to the Midwest for Deer Creek and Alpine Valley—the other standout stop of tour. Finishing with two at Jones Beach, the band was gelling like never before in this era and had their sites set on fall tour filled with downsized arenas.

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Tweezer” 8.5 II, Berkeley, CA

An underrated version filled with thick, west coast groove.

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Simple” 8.6 II, Berkeley, CA

One of the most innovative and gorgeous jams of the year.

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Light” 8.7 II, Berkeley, CA

This wide-open masterpiece got my for jam of the summer.

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Harry Hood” 8.7 II, Berkeley, CA

A gorgeous version that sounded even better in The Greek’s pristine acoustics.

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Piper > Mist” 8.9 II, Telluride, CO

After aborting “Tweezer” in the Rocky Mountains, the band salvaged the set one of the jams of summer in “Piper.”

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Carini > Free” 8.10 II, Telluride, CO

The only piece of exploration in a seemingly out-of-place second show of Telluride.

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Drowned > Jibboo -> Gin” 8.12 II, Noblesville, IN

This unconventional second-set trifecta anchored Deer Creek’s opening night.

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Reba” 8.14 I, East Troy, WI

This version was a toss up with The Greek’s for best of summer.

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Down With Disease -> What’s the Use?” 8.14 II, East Troy, WI

A spectacular jam that saw the band execute the most astounding segue of this era.

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Ghost > Theme” 8.15 II, East Troy, WI

Nothing crazy, but plenty of great playing.

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Legthwise -> Maze” 8.17 II, Wantagh, NY

This early-90’s combo kicked off the second set at Jones Beach

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Number Line” 8.17 II, Wantagh, NY

Jones Beach’s “Number Line” bookended the summer’s versions with Blossom’s—perhaps the two best to date.

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THE TITLE GAME: “YEM” vs. “TWEEZER”

"YEM" vs "Tweezer"

The votes have been tallied and the two finalists for the title of “The Most Loved Phish Song” are no surprises—”You Enjoy Myself” and “Tweezer.” While “YEM” illustrates Trey’s magnificent early song writing, there has not been a jam in history that has taken us more places than “Tweezer.” This one should be a close battle, and voting is open all the way through Tuesday to get the most accurate count possible. Cast your VOTE NOW at Trey Is My Friend’s Facebook page, and watch the votes pile up!

Semi-Final totals:

“YEM” def. “Harry Hood” —  590 – 519

“Tweezer” def. “Reba”  — 666 – 437

 

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The Final Four of Phish

Posted in Uncategorized with the tags on March 21st, 2012 by Mr.Miner

Trey is My Friend Hosts "The Phinal Phour"

The battle lines have been drawn, the regionals are over, and we have made it to the end of the line—the Final Four! After some hard fought battles in the Elite Eight, the people have spoken and the cream has risen to the top. The first semifinal of 2012 will pit two vehicles of groove—#1 seed “Tweezer” against another #1 seed “Reba.” The second semifinal will see the tournaments overall top seed and Phish’s seminal opus, #1 “You Enjoy Myself” battle against the band’s sacred hymn and #2 seed, “Harry Hood.” Below are recaps of the Elite Eight games and previews of the two monster match-ups to come. Thanks to Trey is My Friend for such a great idea and a well run tourney!

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(1) “You Enjoy Myself” def. (3) “Antelope”— 625-338

In the west regional final, the size and defense of the tournaments’ top seed, “You Enjoy Myself,” held off the run-and-gun offense of an upstart “Antelope” squad who had their eyes on the big upset. The game stayed close for the first half as “Antelope’s” pesky quickness caused several turnovers that led to easy baskets. But the second half was another story. Spreading their feared zone defense, “You Enjoy Myself” took away the long ball by smothering the three-point line, while their help side defense was quick to collapse when the ball was passed inside. This took away “Antelope’s” advantage and led to an easy victory by the sizable voting gap of 625 to 338.

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 (1) “Tweezer” def. (3) “Ghost”— 566-369

The East final matched two esteemed launch pads—“Tweezer” and “Ghost.” Dark, exploratory, and funky as hell are adjectives that describe this ferocious battle. Taking the game into the outer regions of psychedelic debauchery, “Tweezer” and “Ghost” played a contest that was not for the faint-hearted. Featuring a continuous highlight reel of ally-oops, fast breaks, and groove-based basketball, both teams were feeling the flow in this game. Like the West’s match-up however, “Tweezer” just proved to be too much for the late-‘90s funk staple, and “Ghost’s” offensive prowess disappeared into the night with ten minutes to play. “Tweezer’s” experience—having played the game in every way possible—proved to be one of the crucial factors of this contest, as “Ghost” looked like a discouraged JV squad by the end. Though this was the marquee match-up of the Elite Eight, did anyone ever have any doubt about the result?

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(1) “Reba” def. (2) “Bathtub Gin”— 559-449

“Reba” was the third #1 seed to make it into the Final Four, illustrating the accuracy of the tournament’s seeding committee. Phish’s classic fugue-turned blissful groove outclassed “Bathtub Gin” in a notably upbeat game—a far cry from the demonic basketball on display in the East final. “Gin” tried to knock “Reba” off its uplifting path by applying full-court pressure early and often. Making a second-half spurt with some powerful rhythm licks and ball movement “Gin” looked as if they it might overcome the narrow deficit. But “Reba” was able to answer back, winning the closest regional final by a tally of 559-449 to reach the Final Four.

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(2) “Harry Hood” def. (1) “Down With Disease”— 596-365

“Harry Hood” put on a ball control clinic in the South regional final, dictating a slower pace of game and taking the break-neck #1 seed “Down With Disease” completely out of rhythm. “Disease,” known for its off the rails adventure, was never able to get things going as the meticulous back door cuts and methodical passing of “Hood” lulled them to sleep. A This match-up featured the archetypal battle between a song that holds an unmatchable place in the Phish pantheon versus a more modern classic with limitless jam potential. And tradition won out over improv as #2 “Harry Hood” put a trouncing on “Disease” by the score of 596-365. As “Hood” moves into the semifinals, “Disease’s” fight song has never seemed more appropriate, for now is the time the team members can finally say, “This has all been wonderful, but now I’m on my way.”

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FINAL FOUR PREVIEWS:

(1) “Tweezer” vs. (1) “Reba”

If I had to pick two songs to hear at any given concert, these would be the two. This national semi-final pits two diverse vehicles of groove against each other. With “Tweezer” favoring darkness and mystery and “Reba” leaning towards bliss and towering glory, this match-up is one for the ages. Both of these songs have similar game experience, but “Tweezer” more readily adapts to different styles of games, while “Reba” is a fairly one-dimensional, though formidable, squad. Able to shoot threes that tickle the next from anywhere on the floor, “Reba” will have to rely on their marksmanship to counteract “Tweezer’s” intimidating and imposing front line. While this should be a very entertaining game to watch, I think “Tweezer” has a spot in the championship locked up.

PREDICTION: “Tweezer”

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(1) “You Enjoy Myself” vs. (2) “Harry Hood”

Perhaps the two most revered songs in the band’s catalog will square off in the second national semifinal. Both “YEM” and “Hood” touch the very soul of Phish, featuring multi-part compositions that release into jams that have a character all their own. “Harry Hood” is carrying momentum after knocking off “Disease” with a particularly intense last few minutes of play, while every analyst has picked “YEM” to be in the championship from Selection Sunday. Could an upset be brewing? Many fans have been touched by “Harry Hood’s” ethereal and heart-tugging jams, and the emotional connection many have to the song could put it over the edge. While the band’s signature piece, “You Enjoy Myself” hasn’t held as much significance in this era, its history and experience is unmatched by any team in the tournament. It’s lack of a routine rotation spot as of late could hurt “YEM” against a song that has never rested much since it’s 1985 debut. Though I’ll be casting my vote for “Harry Hood,” I think “YEM” will win in a barnburner.

PREDICTION: “You Enjoy Myself”

 

VOTE FOR THE NATIONAL SEMIFINALS NOW @ TREY IS MY FRIEND!

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PHILLY PHISH EVENT- TONIGHT!

3/21/1992 Twenty Years Later: A Night to Celebrate the Phish

1992

March 21, 1992 at the Chestnut Cabaret in Philadelphia was a typical ’92 smoker! Secret language all over the place, that ’92 energy rippling through the room, and a”YEM” complete with a “Three Blind Mice” vocal jam reared its lumpy head. Tonight, The Blockley in Philadelphia would like to invite everyone to come and celebrate the 20th anniversary of the one and only time Phish graced our West Philadelphia stage! There will be 1/2 priced drafts until 10 PM and “Lot-Tails” such as Reba’s Toxic Purple Paste, the Makisupa Swizzle, Piper’s Sour (complete with worms!), and Bathtub Gin Punch…You in the Eye! Phish Quizzo/Happy Hour will start around 8 PM and 3/21/92 will begin playing over the PA around 9:30. Throughout the night there will be giveaways (think 3-day Bader Field Pass and other Phish goodies), surprise jams, DVD footage, related videography, and a Phan-friendly food menu, taboot! Look for Mike the Rager behind the bar in his magical vest! Come on down, and feel the feeling you forgot!

When: Tonight!—Wednesday 3/21/2012 @ 8 PM

Where: The Blockley, 38th and Chestnut, Philadelphia, PA

Why: An Asteroid Crashed, and nothing burned!

Check out The Blockley on Facebook!

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Jam of the Day:

David Bowie” 3.21.92 II, Philadelphia, PA

Twenty years ago, today, Phish dropped this “David Bowie” in the middle of the second set.

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TTFT: The Season of the Whale—June 2010

Posted in Uncategorized with the tags , , , on March 20th, 2012 by Mr.Miner

6.26.10 - Merriweather (Graham Lucas)

We last left our modern-era audio retrospective after wrapping up the comeback year of 2009 in Miami. This week, let’s take a look back at the the year that was 2010. After six long months off—a time filled with promise—Phish came back at Toyota Park in Chicago, kicking off Leg One of summer with a blistering two-set effort amidst sweltering heat. Coming off a practice session at UIC Pavilion, the band’s beginning-of-tour momentum carried through Blossom and Hershey Park as they opened up the run with three of its stronger shows. The following weekend featured two nights in Hartford and two in SPAC, before the band hit an improvisational breakthrough at Camden and Merriweather with jams such as 6.25’s “Chalk Dust,” 6.26’s “Rock and Roll,” and 6.27’s “Piper.” After popping north to Canandaigua, the band finished out the tour with four shows down south, each featuring flashes of greatness, but little whole show consistency.

This tour was also the month that Trey favored his whammy pedal for pitch bending, a technique affectionately (or not) nicknamed “The Whale.” Many fans lamented this more mimialist playing by Trey, but by laying back, Trey allowed Page, and specifically, Mike to step up and lead jams like never before. When Trey got finally debuted “The Ocedoc” and a more fiery style of play at The Greek, a new improvisational dynamic had emerged over Leg One that allowed the band to communicate on a more democratic level. Phish threw down many great jams during this month, and today’s playlist represent ten of my favorite in chronological order.

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Ghost” 6.11, Bridgeview, IL

The improvisatioonal centrepiece of a big-time second set that opened tour with a bang.

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Number Line” 6.12 II, Cuyahoga Falls, OH

One night later, this jam topped Chicago’s “Ghost,” showcasing a single-mindedness rarely seen in 2009.

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Disease -> Sand” 6.17 II, Hartford, CT

An intense throwdown on night one in Hartford.

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Rock and Roll > Free” 6.19 II, S.Springs, NY

This “Rock and Roll” set up the following weekend’s tour highlight version. This one from SPAC, however, ain’t too shabby either.

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Drowned > Swept > Steep” 6.20, II S.Springs, NY

This sequence provided the meat of SPAC’s second performance.

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Chalk Dust > Caspian” 6.25 II, Camden, NJ

Phish hadn’t dropped a jam like this all summer long. It felt like a monumental breakthrough at the time, and it still holds up just fine.

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Rock and Roll > Free” 6.26 II, Columbia, MD

Right up there with the best jams of tour; a gorgeous piece of improvisation. This comes from the Saturday night of tour’s peak weekend.

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Piper” 6.27 II, Columbia, MD

Amidst a thematic second set strewn with allusions to “Saw It Again,” Phish dropped the gnarliest “Piper” of the era up to that point.

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Light” 7.1 II, Raleigh, NC

This was the top version from a tour in which “Light” became Phish’s preeminent jam vehicle.

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Tweezer -> Slave” 7.3 II, Alpharetta, GA

Believe it or not, this was the first time that “Tweezer” and “Slave” had been paired in the band’s career—and it made for a no-brainer tour highlight.

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UPDATE: THE PHILLER

The latest from Robert Champion of The Sloping Companion:

The Philler by The Sloping Companion on Mixcloud

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TTFF: A Grab Bag

Posted in Uncategorized with the tags , on March 16th, 2012 by Mr.Miner

10.31.10 — Atlantic City, NJ (Graham Lucas)

We’ll start looking at 2010’s highlights next week, but for now, here are another ten favorites to accompany your Friday and beyond. There’s no rhyme or reason to these selections other than the fact that they are great.

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Harry Hood” 12.31.93 III, Worcester, MA

One of the most explosive and cathartic versions ever played—the final piece to a phenomenal year of Phish.

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Halley’s Comet”  8.3.98 I, Noblesville, IN

Here’s another jam I listened to yesterday and got blown away all over again, so I’m featuring it today. Page tickles “A Love Supreme” within the grooves before this jam takes a turn for the divine.

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Horn” 7.15.98 I, Portland, OR

Out of nowhere sprung this beautiful music.

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Twist -> Slave” 11.14.97 II

Step into space…

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Tweezer > 2001” 7.1.98 II, Christiana, Copenhagen, DK

One my my top-shelf Phish experiences, from the second show of Summer ’98 at The Grey Hall.

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Bathtub Gin” 7.21.97 II, Virginia Beach, VA

A funkified welcome to US Summer Tour ’97! USA! USA!

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Free” 6.30.99 II, Bonner Springs, KS

My go-to version since the moment it was played.

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Drowned” 12.3.97 I, Philadelphia, PA 

“Drowned” can take many forms, including ferocious groove.

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David Bowie” 4.30.94 II, Orlando, FL

A classic “Bowie” from Spring ’94.

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Down With Disease” 12.30.03 II, Miami, FL

A gorgeous end to an “interesting” set.

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PHISH MARCH MADNESS: UPDATE!

Elite 8

THE ELITE EIGHT is open for voting @ Trey Is My Friend!!

Marquee match-ups featuring the heavyweight battle of “Tweezer” vs. “Ghost!”

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Let the Madness Begin…

Posted in Uncategorized with the tags , on March 15th, 2012 by Mr.Miner

Tourney Time 2012

Enjoy the first round of action today, and here is a powerhouse playlist to rock with or without the ballgames. Also, make sure to cast your vote in Trey Is My Friend’s championship song bracket‘s Round of 32 by the end of today! And then head back for the Sweet 16 tomorrow! In the Phish universe, ticket madness is about to explode over the weekend as all the show of Leg One go on sale in two days! Get your strategies prepared!

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Split Open and Melt -> Catapult” 12.31.99 I, Big Cypress, FL

One of the top highlights from Big Cypress—an all-time great.

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Reba” 6.13.94 II Kansas City, KS

1994 and “Reba,” a match made in heaven. Here is another stellar version.

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Ghost” 8.7.98 I, Raleigh, NC

A first set bomb after the rain stopped at Walnut Creek ’98.

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Piper” 8.8.98 II, Columbia, MD

As Phish came back from Europe, after dropping Prague’s 7/6/98 version, “Piper” continued to expand.

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Tweezer” 11.3.96 II, Gainesville, FL

A groovy and percussive version with Karl Perazzo; two shows after “Remain In Light” you can already hear the influence of the album’s style.

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YEM -> Izabella” 7.26.97 II, Austin, TX

Everyone knows “Tweezabella,” but do you know her sister “YEMabella?”

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Stash” 11.13.97 II, Las Vegas, NV

Phish dropped this mammoth “Stash” on the first night of Fall ’97. Funk, what?

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Thinking Out Loud

Posted in Uncategorized with the tags on March 14th, 2012 by Mr.Miner

9.12.09 - Carnegie Hall (B.Slayter)

One thing that stood out to me at Trey’s performance with the LA Philharmonic on Saturday, was his absolute focus and attention to every minute detail from note of the show through the last. Trey—while usually far more playful and animated—seemed to approach this performance with a sense of respect and reverence. His emotional presence and his incredibly precise playing illustrated a capacity for—dare I say it—perfection. Wrong notes are not allowed in the symphony, and Trey did not hit one throughout the near two and half hour show. The diligence with which he listened to the orchestra and meticulously placed his offerings within the context of the whole, provided a snapshot of an ego-less musician respecting and honoring the music above all else. Trey’s performance was nothing short of breathtaking, and the thought I had later that night was, “What if he brought the same attitude to Phish these days?”

Despite 2011’s musical greatness, which I am the first to tout, the band’s democratic dynamic often seemed unbalanced at times throughout the year. Beyond the well- documented cases of “Rip Cord Red” pulling the string on so many jams-in-progress, there was an overwhelming sense that whatever Trey wanted, musically, was what happened. If he didn’t feel comfortable within a jam, for whatever reason, most often he simply interrupted the musical conversation with the chords of a new song. I’m not quite sure what the orchestral equivalent is to an awkwardly aborted “Ghost” jam, but lord knows Trey would never come close to committing such an atrocity on the stage of a symphony. He just wouldn’t. Has he lost his sense of reverence for Phish? Are jams no longer sacred to him? One can only wonder.

The Gorge '09 (G.Lucas)

While the essence of an orchestra is precision, the essence of Phish has very much been about improvisation. And while the band—no doubt—engaged in many thrilling jams last year, the overall vibe of many shows shifted from a group-mind led journey to to a Trey-led rock concert. When Trey did let go of his over-orchestration of setlists in 2011, Phish played some of the greatest shows of this era. For prime examples of this, see Bethel 1 & 2, Clarkston, Charlotte, The Gorge 1, UIC 1 and 2 to name more than a few shining examples. In these standout shows, the music flowed with far greater vitality and with far more care than the lesser shows of summer. There was no obvious impatience on the part of Trey to get through a certain number of songs; these shows carried an organic movement from beginning to end, a far cry from the choppiness of of PNC 2, Merriweather 1, Camden, Raleigh, Tahoe 2 or UIC 3, among others. One question I’ve often wondered after these less impressive and less cohesive efforts—“Do they talk about the show?”

At one point in his career, Trey, self-admittedly, pored over setlsts for hours each night, making sure that Phish shows had the perfect composition. Then the band executed this plan as a whole. Not to belabor the analogy, but this process sounds similar to his orchestral performance. When looking at Phish shows of last year, there are many instances where it seemed that Trey was trying to execute one plan while his band mates were immersed in another. Was Trey listening as closely to Mike and Page as he hacked the PNC “Ghost,” Alpharetta “Tweezer” or (insert many jams here), as he was to the first chair violin player on Saturday? Clearly not—but the unanswerable that question begs to be asked is, “Why not?”

8.16.11 - UIC (M.Stein)

Looking back over Phish’s most prolific years, regardless of era, there is an unspoken patience between all band members that allowed the music to progress as a single entity—a four-headed, though single-minded, creation. Masterful segues like 7/22/97’s “Disease -> Mike’s” or 6/26/95’s “Disease -> Free” unfolded over the course of minutes as a natural progression of the entire band, not as the impulsive idea of one member. For a while in this era, I could understand the “sobriety makes Trey less patient” line of thinking, but after observing his patience on Saturday—albeit in a different setting—and in shows like 8/5/11 and 8/15/11—I no longer give that theory credence. Trey is still Trey, a master of his craft, and I am convinced that it his mind and lack of attention that get in the way of weaker Phish shows, not his skill set.

One of the most commonly heard laments by fans these days is the ever-present 3.0 gripe, “They don’t jam enough.” In a very candid recent interview given by Chris Kuroda, he even joked about how Phish doesn’t jam as much any more. Jokingly (but not so jokingly) he said “they should look into that,” while then sharing a funny aside about how he and Brad Sands give the band shit about this issue all the time. But he also made sure to say that it was all out of love. Kuroda also hypothesized this improvisational shift wasn’t premeditated, but just a natural extension of who the guys are at this stage in their life. But if we are going with his theory, Mike, Page, and Fish seem at a different stage in their lives than Trey. Either way, with Kuroda’s admission, it’s clear the band is aware of their lessened jamming, but do they care?

As many know, I’m the first to gush over Phish when they are killing it, which—I believe—they are quite capable of doing on a nightly basis. But the shows that feel bumpy or “off” all seem to stem from the attention—or lack thereof—of our beloved six-string assassin. The puzzling factor to me has been how the “on” nights, where the whole show flows well, and the “off” nights, where just a jam or two stand out, are totally arbitrary. This factor makes seeing a couple shows very hit or miss for a fan. While there is a distinct possibility that one will walk out blown away, there is just as likely a possibility that he won’t—an interesting dynamic.

"2001" - 8.10.11 (E.Batuello)

With a full slate of Phish this summer, one has to wonder which side of Trey is going to show up more often—the patient collaborator and sound-sculpter whose playing brings the band to an entirely different level, or the impatient rock star who focuses more on his own agenda and song choice than what is actually happening on stage? With the band’s skills quite polished, and the clear willingness of Mike, Page, and Fish to go deep, we are all waiting to see which way the captain will steer the ship this summer. Your guess is as good as mine.

Just months ago, on September 5th, 2011, Trey was quoted in Believer Mag saying such things as:

I see improvisation as a craft and as an art. The craft part is important. There’s a lot of preparation and discipline that goes into it just so that, when you’re in the moment, you’re not supposed to be thinking at all.

…Musicians come and go and they’re stewards of the music for a brief period of time. But once the music plays — it’s really between Beethoven and the listener at that point. The musicians are there to get their goddamn hands off of it. All that training! Thousands of hours! Sight-reading every day! All so they can get the hell out of the way because nobody gives a crap about them at all. The less you notice them, the better it sounds…

But are these simply sound-bytes that he has programmed in his mind since the mid-’90s, or are these thoughts still the driving ethos of Phish? Sometimes it is hard to tell.

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Jam of the Day:

Ghost” 6.15.00 I

This “Ghost” inspired me yesterday, so I am featuring it today. Enjoy the only version from Japan 2000—an uplifting beast—remastered by Kenny Powers.

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TTFT: Miami ’09 & March Madness

Posted in Uncategorized with the tags , , , on March 13th, 2012 by Mr.Miner

12.29.09 - Miami, FL (Wendy Rogell)

As we finish our audio retrospective of 2009, today brings us to Miami. Riding the cresting momentum of fall tour’s back end, there was a sense that something special would happen down south. Heading to the proximity of Big Cypress ten years later and back to American Airlines Arena six years later, plenty of memories and anticipation hung in the air. And when the band left Miami, they had found a new sense of musical purpose, bringing their playing to a new level while inspiring the community and making the future look brighter than ever. Mike had been using his envelope filter more and more towards the end of fall, and in a New Year’s Run in which he was the undeniable leader, the effect was prominent in many of the jams. Achieving a new level of musical density, Phish was hitting on all cylinders as the calendar turned to 2010. Today’s playlist is comprised entirely of Miami highlights. Stay tuned from a trip through 2010 starting tomorrow.

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Tweezer -> Caspian” 12.29 II

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Back on the Train” 12.30 II

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Ghost” 12.31 II

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Rock and Roll > Piper” 12.31 II

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Corrina” 12.30 I

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Harry Hood” 12.28 II

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Reba” 12.29 I

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Boogie On -> Antelope” 12.30 II

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Phish March Madness @ Treyismyfriend.com!

64 songs, 1 champion! A tournament to end hotel room debates forever—Phish March Madness has arrived! The songs have been seeded by the committee and the first round games are already underway, hosted by my good friend at Trey Is My Friend—a Phish news, rumor, and satire blog. Head on over to cast your vote for the first round matchups now! There are some ridiculous Sweet 16 “games” brewing if seedings hold up! This should be fun! Is “YEM” the champ? Will “Tweezer” crush all? Will 2012 bring a Cinderella story? With your help, we’ll find out! (Further instructions are on the site)

The Field of 64

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A Night In the Key of Trey

Posted in Uncategorized with the tags , , , , on March 12th, 2012 by Mr.Miner

3.10.2012 - Walt Disney Concert Hall (Daniel Kalette)

Throughout his musical life—as a member of Phish and beyond—just about any time Trey has stepped on a stage, his guitar playing has instantly become the defining facet of the music and the center of attention. Most often leading his bands with his spontaneous six-string narratives, Red has come to relish the spotlight. But despite standing in the center of the orchestra at Walt Disney Concert Hall on Saturday night in Los Angeles, and working closely with conductor, Scott Dunn, on cues, his guitar playing was not the focus of the performance. Featuring delicate, subtle licks and often “implying” far more than he was actually playing, Trey’s legendary axe was but one piece of the rich sonic tapestry that was the Los Angeles Philharmonic. Allowing his music to come to life in way he, himself, had imagined for decades, Trey’s compositions—and Don Hart’s masterful arrangements of them—became the focus of the show, themselves. Blending in with the symphony, though clearly voicing his electric and acoustic guitar tones, Trey shone in a completely different way on Saturday night, while realizing but another dream in the finale of his four-city symphony tour.

2.14.12 - Pittsburgh (M.Stein)

Several pieces, such as “Divided Sky,” “Water in the Sky,” “Brian and Robert” and “Let Me Lie,” were backed solely by the strings section, providing an ethereal and dreamlike quality to these more mellow songs. But the unquestionable highlights of the show came when whole orchestra joined in the mix, turning pieces like “First Tube,” “Guyute (Orchestral),” “Stash” and “You Enjoy Myself” into mind-bending, guitar-laced, hybrid pieces that pushed the boundaries of classical music. Trey phrased his solos in “First Tube,” “Stash,” and “YEM” in a way that sounded just like his classic playing, but often offering partial licks with little sustain, allowing your mind to connect the dots. At the same time, many parts of his typical solos were given to other members of the orchestra, whether trumpets, flutes or violins, creating an entire melange of Trey’s melodies coming from every angle. Not only diffusing the spotlight, Hart’s arrangements allowed the orchestra to authentically express Trey’s thoughts, underlining their tight partnership since 2004.

Walt Disney Concert Hall (C.Highsmith)

One of the largest ovations in the acoustically immaculate Walt Disney Concert Hall came after Trey’s two-movement piece, originally debuted in 2008 with Orchestra Nashville, “Time Turns Elastic.” Though much maligned by the Phish crowd in the rock setting, the piece was, at times, unrecognizable to its mainstream translation, as the intricacies of the composition were able to breathe through the instruments of an entire orchestra instead of forced through the amps of a rock quartet. Taking on a completely different character in its intended setting, “Time Turns Elastic” was the most challenging piece for the audience to digest. The extensive opening movement (before anything comes in or out of focus) fuses a jazz-like guitar style into an often atonal, and clearly emotional, musical sequence. The meticulous way in which Trey hit every note made it very clear that each one counted—there were no flubs allowed—and this formal tone even translated to his typically goofy face.

Trey and Scott Dunn - 2.14 (Stein)

Throughout the second movement (the known song) it was striking how little guitar Trey played. With his music dancing around him, his focus turned to his heartfelt lyrics and their precise delivery. Trey layered his singing atop the piece as the orchestra did the bulk of the playing. In certain spots he contributed signature licks of the song, while taking enhanced guitar roles in others, but for much his magnum opus, Trey held the strings on his guitar or played in very minimalist fashion. And when “Time Turns Elastic” came to its concluding peak and the audience responded, satisfaction—rather, elation—shone from Trey, as his introspective piece was given proper treatment.

Though Hart’s arrangements took center stage throughout the night, perhaps the most noteworthy Phish-to-symphony metamorphosis took place with “You Enjoy Myself.” Hearing the band’s seminal piece interpreted by so many musicians in an a concert hall that Trey noted, mid-performance, was the best sounding room he’d ever been in, was nothing short of majestic. Following the composed half of the song, the trombone took the honor of “Boy,” “Man,” “God, “Shit,” and the orchestra proceeded to interpret a “YEM” jam! Highlighted by the call and response soloing between Trey and the trombone player in the “jam,” this segment carried a legitimate groove. This “jam” sequence truly illustrated the mastery of Hart’s arrangements, as Trey found some space to take liberty with his own part, even weaving in a tease of “Streets of Cairo” (likely from muscle memory at this point.) But the most impressive part of “You Enjoy Myself,” believe it or not, was how the orchestra interpreted the vocal jam. Taking the parts of the band members’ “voices,” the strings (plus?) imitated the section with staccato phrases that fit congruently with each other, clearly patterned after an actual vocal jam.

2.14.12 - Pittsburgh, PA (M.Stein)

Trey’s emotion of the night was summed up in the way in which he performed a solo chant over this final section. Eyes closed and stepping slightly away from the orchestra, Trey soulfully chanted over the music in a way he debuted in a hallmark performance at Carnegie Hall on 9/12/2009 . A very special evening was topped with an instrumental encore, “The Inlaw Josie Wales,” and ended in multiple standing ovations for all involved. For Trey, the dream continued, and for the LA Philharmonic—a symphony that, in the words of Conductor Laureate, Esa-Pekka Salonen, is “interested in the future” and “not trying to re-create the glories of the past”—their vision was fully realized.

I: First Tube, Water in the Sky*, Divided Sky*, Brian and Robert*, Goodbye Head, Guyute (Orchestral)^, Let Me Lie*, Stash

II: Time Turns Elastic, If I Could*, You Enjoy Myself

E: The Inlaw Josie Wales*

*Trey on acoustic

^Trey on acoustic > electric guitar > acoustic

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