First Sets and Sax-Scraper

Posted in Uncategorized with the tags , on August 19th, 2012 by Mr.Miner

8.17.18 – BGCA (Graham Lucas)

In a complete role reversal, on Saturday night at Bill Graham Civic Auditorium, the first set provided the meatier musical dish, while the second set never found a groove. Refusing to allow any second set jam to develop, less a universe aligning “Simple,” Trey kept the setlist moving forward in favor of the style of jamming we have quickly become accustomed over two nights of Leg Two. The irony of this show was that the first set was—unquestionably—the best of tour, seemingly setting up a significant second half that was, in the end, left begging for musical drama. But, let’s focus on the first set for a change.

8.17.12 (G. Lucas)

The band carried Friday’s momentum right into Saturday night’s opening frame, showing a willingness to get right into things with a spunky opening pairing of “Runaway Jim” and “Wolfman’s Brother.” Though “Runaway Jim” remained with in the confines that you’d expect from its opening slot, that wouldn’t be the same with “Wolfmans.” A dynamic version took a left turn at the juncture where the guys conventionally steer it back to shore. Veering into a smooth-then-hard-edged groove tangent, the band built its initial first set highlight out of its second song.

Phish’s energetic playing continued in Page’s “Beauty of a Broken Heart” before “Ocelot” brought the an intense, blues-based, mid-set peak. “Maze” has turned into a reliable scorcher over the past year, and last night’s certainly fit right line with this trend. The band rolled into “46 Days” with a head full of steam, tearing apart a rendition that popped with a far groovier feel than usual thanks to Mike, Fish, and Page. Perhaps this rhythmic vibe led to the next song selection of “Tube,” because when the band hit the break for the jam, dense dance textures dominated the dance floor, as Page made sweet love to his clavinet over an infectious groove.

The band took their first real breath of air with “Circus” before getting right back into things with a notably clean version of “Sugar Shack.” But the true highlight of the set emerged next in “Split Open and Melt.” On the drop of a hat, the guys switched modes into abstract artisans, sculpting some of the more mind-fucking music we’ve heard from “Split” in a quick minute. In fact, the band got so deep into the fray, they couldn’t find their way back from the other side and into the song’s ending, but in this case, the imperfection hardly diminished the places traveled. One of those jams that leave you slack-jawed in the live setting, the band set its path for the outer realms and stayed the course for the duration. Quite different than the standout we just heard at SPAC, this version continued to get crazier and crazier until the band had all sorts of issues getting back on the same page in order to pop into the theme. The third entirely different “Split” of the summer stole the cerebral jamming trophy for the first half. “Cavern” provided an exclamation point to a frame of music that seemed destined to set up big things. But those big things never came.

8.17.12 (Graham Lucas)

The second set became a patchwork creation of greatest hits, none of which the band took into an interesting jam but for “Simple.” The initial couplet of of “Golden Age > Piper” each had developing jams that were cut short before they were realized in any sort of way. When “Mike’s” started, it seemed like it would be one of those rocking, though improvisationally thin second sets, with our only hope of exploration coming in the off chance that the band kicked down a “Simple” within the “Groove.” And boy did they ever.

Official SF Triptych (K.Taylor)

After “Mike” anchored a particularly rousing version of his song, the band evoked the feel of the Dead once again with a stunningly patient, ambient sound sculpture out of “Simple.” At times, it seemed that barely anyone was playing anything at all, though a gorgeous tapestry of sound continued to emanate from the stage. Sounding very much like “The Wheel,” this vibration-uniting excursion silenced a chatty-Saturday night audience with its mystical aura. An instant favorite, and a certain must-hear-now chunk of music, this “Simple” stole the second set all by itself, because after that Phish hopped the express train to Fizzletown, USA.

An innocuous and rushed sequence of “Number Line,” Carini > Wilson,” “Weekapaug,” “Horse > Silent,” “2001 > Fluffhead,” “Loving Cup,” Show of Life,” and “Character Zero” provided no music to sink one’s teeth into, whatsoever, while taking up the final hour of the set plus encore. After displaying an eagerness for extended jamming over the first two shows of leg two, Phish reeled things in quite a bit on Saturday night with an energy-centric second set. But we’ll always have “Simple.”

I: Runaway Jim, Wolfman’s Brother, Nellie Kane, Beauty of a Broken Heart, Ocelot, Maze, I Didn’t Know, 46 Days, Tube, When the Circus Comes, Sugar Shack, Split Open and Melt, Cavern

II: Golden Age > Piper > Mike’s Song > Simple > Backwards Down the Number Line, Carini > Wilson >Weekapaug Groove, The Horse > Silent in the Morning, Also Sprach Zarathustra > Fluffhead, Loving Cup

E: Show of Life, Character Zero

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A San Francisco Treat

Posted in Uncategorized with the tags , , on August 18th, 2012 by Mr.Miner

8.17.12 – BGCA (Michael Stein)

Playing their first non-festival show in San Francisco proper since 1998, Phish continued their musical assault on The Golden State at Bill Graham Civic Auditorium on Friday night with a second set of non-stop action. Centering a relentless setlist on two experimental peaks in “Down With Disease” and “Tweezer,” the band tore the tiny Bay Area venue to smithereens. Supporting the notion that Long Beach was the start of something big, the band came back the very next night and opened up the vault again, illustrating an enthusiasm for unconventional jamming.

8.17.12 (M.Stein)

Steering clear of any second set filler, the guys came out with a intense desire from the first note to last, and when paired with the level of creativity that is currently oozing from the stage, this made for quite the explosive combo. Bursting out the gates with a monstrous exploration of “Disease,” the band navigated the piece with a loose, psychedelic San Francisco vibe, allowing the music to play the muse, organically morphing through several distinct portions of jamming. Connected in a way not dissimilar to the opening night’s “Rock and Roll,” this “Disease” showed a proclivity for free form improvisation. Once breaking form, Trey laid notably back, allowing Mike and Fish to set the groove. Collaborative to the core, a band member presented a thematic idea to which the rest of the guys would gravitate, and moving in this organic fashion from one section to another, the jam slowly progressed towards abstract territory. And once Fish dropped his driving beat, the band entered a psychedelic playground would have made their tie-dyed mentors proud. Some of the strongest portions of playing of tour’s opening two nights have come in this amorphous style, and it was within this milieu that the band pushed and pulled “Disease” through a soul-affirming final segment—instantly becoming another golden moment of 2012.

8.17.12 (M.Stein)

Thus far this run, the band has shown no need to cool down after their set-opening jam, on this night, falling right into a fierce, though compact, “Birds.” But when the final hits of “Birds” gave way to “Tweezer,” shit was clearly about to get bonkers. Where so many “Tweezers” of this summer and this era have fallen short, Bill Graham’s “Tweezer” went where “Tweezers” are meant to go—into other realms. Fusing three distinct segments of jamming together, the guys dropped the most significant “Tweezer” since Dick’s, and one of the elite of this era. Within the opening, bass-heavy groove, Gordeaux dropped enough crack to satiate all the junkies in the Tenderloin, and his generosity didn’t cease from there, as he anchored much of this jam with narcotic bass lines. Moving away from his rhythm licks, Trey began to weave intricate leads into the dance patterns, lending a more nuanced dynamic to the jam. Naturally building into a small guitar-led section, the band momentarily peaked the jam before dropping into the jam’s third movement—a glitchy, looped-out, bass-anchored segment of experimentalia. And while the other parts of the jam certainly spoke to the dancer in all, this section blossomed into something far more atmospheric and cerebral. Dripping into “Twist” out of this gargantuan centerpiece, the band showed effects of a newly discovered musical Viagra, keeping things going strong for 45 minutes before showing any semblance of slowing down.

Standout takes of “Velvet Sea,” “Chalk Dust” and “Joy” set up a set-closing “Antelope,” a subtle nod from the guys to someone’s 666th night spent with them. And just when the show was over, Trey stepped to the mic and commenced a perfectly placed “Shine A Light.” A glorious afterthought to a thorough set of Phish, this is exactly where the piece of gospel-rock belongs. Capping the night with a ferocious take on “First Tube,” Phish slammed the door on their first night in the Bay. But where one door closes, another opens—at the same bat time, same bat channel.

8.17.12 (Graham Lucas)

First Set Notes: The first set felt like a pep rally for the rest of the Bill Graham run, featuring a high-energy, crowd-pleasing vibe throughout. Though “Sand” had some teeth and “Corrina” provided a welcome respite amongst a set of straight rotation songs, this set was more about setting the vibe in the intimate room, and did so quite well. A surprising “Slave” came at the end of the opening set for the first time since The Fox in ’09, and appearing in the first set for the first time since Portsmouth ’10. Trey doled out a prankster-like tease at the end of “Roses” as the band hinted at a gorgeous music before Trey pulled the plug for “My Friend,” clearly knowing how much everyone craves for “Roses” jams. Funny, but not really, this move was the only jolt of the first two nights—not bad, I say…not bad at all.

I: AC/DC Bag, The Moma Dance, Possum, Corinna, Sand, Halley’s Comet > Funky Bitch, Sample in a Jar, Roses Are Free > My Friend, My Friend, Slave to the Traffic Light

II: Down with Disease > Birds of a Feather, Tweezer > Twist > Wading in the Velvet Sea, Chalk Dust Torture, Joy, Run Like an Antelope, Shine a Light

E: First Tube

8.17.12 – BGCA (Graham Lucas)

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California Dreamin’

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

8-15-12 (John Florek)

Having re-listened to Long Beach a second time, I am still in awe of the level of communication displayed by the band Wednesday night. Phish’s improvisational skills are as sharp, if not sharper, than ever and clearly on the rise again. When the guys click like they did in the Southern California, a whole new improvisatioanal dynamic emerges.

In “Rock and Roll,” “Ghost,” and “Hood”—three top-notch excursions—there were “jams within the jams.” In each piece, one band member would present a new idea, and the other three guys would flock to it with negligible reaction time, and within measures, that single idea had blossomed into a musical tangent—often seen to fruition—before moving onto the next. Never falling prey to a cliché idea for the entirety of the second set, while constantly pushing each other forward, Phish showcased the essence of improvisation. If Phish comes close to playing in this vein on a nightly basis—and I don’t see why the won’t—we are in for quite a treat over the next fortnight.

8-15-12 (John Florek)

What really stood out to me when relistening to the show was the single-minded nature of the band’s jamming. I couldn’t say any individual stood out last night over anyone else, because each band member’s phenomenal performance could be singled out. But what makes Phish larger than life is when any individual lead falls away in favor of the group mind. Things elevate the highest when one can’t pick an “MVP” of a show. Last night, Phish—as a whole—took home the gold.

The second set seemed to go by in a flash. Bombarded with fresh ideas for the duration, I was so engulfed by the moment that all of a sudden they were crushing “Good Times, Bad Times,” the obvious set closer. In essence, the set started…and then it ended, with nary a second of dead time. Even the mind-set “Guyute” felt possessed its menacing vigor of old—the first version that popped like that in a while. And while we are talking about shredding versions of standard songs, check out that set-closing “Good Times.”

8-15-12 (John Florek)

Touching on just about all aspects of their game in a spectacular display of musicianship, Phish is moving into new levels of play. The band has always possessed a more singular focus to their music in former eras than they have now. Reeling in diverse styles from their near 30-year career and refinishing them with modern brushstrokes, Phish has become a more diverse band than ever. Covering ludicrous amounts of musical ground within a single jam, their music is more multi-dimensional than ever. And I’m not just talking about one show here. Their 11-14 minute jams birthed this phenomenon, and—now—if they start to stretch that dense musical paradigm into long form, over 20 plus minutes, hide the women and children, because psychedelic warfare will be waged nightly! Since 2009, the band has, undeniably, progressed with each and every tour, and this naturally seems like the next step. Like so many ghosts asked Ray Kinsella in “Field of Dreams,” is this heaven? No, this is Phish 2012. Let’s walk into the cornfields…

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Island Run Pin Update:

The four piece colllectors set is officially up for sale at MYFE. Designs! Check out these high quality photos, and head on over to MYFE.’s house to pick up a set for your desk, mantle, or display case! Only 250 sets were made, and they will never be reproduced, so once they are gone they are gone!

“Twist” 4.2.98

“Roses > Piper” 4.3.98

“Birds > 2001” 4.4.98

“Oh Kee Pah > YEM” 4.5.98

The Island Tower

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Beyond Belief

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

8.15.12 – Long Beach (Sam Heller)

Opening the floodgates of creativity, Phish redefined possibilities with a second set that elevated this game to a completely new level. Storming out of the gates with nearly 45 minutes of experimental jamming in “Rock and Roll > Ghost,” and continuing with an immaculate “Limb by Limb” and “Harry Hood” that will make a you cry, Phish brought their A+ game to a tour-opener of dreams in Southern California.

As not to sound redundant throughout this piece, allow me to say up front—this was the best I’ve heard Phish play in ages. Last night’s second set was a case study in virtuoso communication and the metaphysical explosions that result from such human achievement. Touching on every facet of their sound that makes them the phenomenon we know and love, Phish gave a glimpse into paradise. The best thing you can do for yourself as a Phish fan right now, is to stop reading this review, cancel the next 90 minutes of your life, grab some headphones and bask.

8.15.12 (Sam Heller)

Weaving musical gold while lacing together one dreamscape after another, Phish came out with a massive statement in Long Beach. “Rock and Roll,” in and of itself, contained a entire show’s worth of standout improvisation. Spanning the the full spectrum from wide-open fields of melodic glory to demonic lairs of a “storage” sequence that sounded plucked from the wee hours of Super Ball, itself, the band could do no wrong. After plunging such depths with the first jam of the set, they could have easily hit cruise control. But that’s about the farthest thing from what happened.

Moving from a monumental excursion directly into “Ghost,” it felt that the band turned a corner with this decision. Feeling no need to reel things in, they forged forth into—arguably—the most spectacular portion of the night. Using the entirety of “Ghost’s” jam to peak “Rock and Roll’s Odyssean journey, the band converged on a life-altering peak. Taking but a couple of measures to move outside the box, “Ghost” proved, as it has all summer, to be an efficient path to original music. And this time, they drove the piece right through the heart of the audience, sparking a communal bolt of reverie. After 45 minutes of unbridled, wide-open jamming, the band could have dropped their instruments and walked off stage to a standing ovation. But they just kept moving forward.

8-15-12 (S.Heller)

Concluding almost an hour of non-stop improv with a spectacular take on “Limb By Limb,” it became quite apparent that the entire set would be laced with grandeur. A spot-on and notably raging “Guyute” fit within the context of this set better than any recent appearance of the song, and “Dirt” felt as poignant as ever Trey’s guitar lines dripped with emotion. And when the guys rolled into “Harry Hood,” they could have taken this show to the bank with a standard version—but they didn’t. Sensing a theme here?  Instead, Phish played what has to be considered an elite “Hood” of any era. Listening to each other with a subconscious marksmanship—a hallmark of the entire show—the band sculpted a final dip into majesty. Providing the proverbial cherry on top, this multi-tired “Hood” sealed the deal on a night that was far better than imaginable.

And we may have just scratched the surface…

First Set Notes: A more than solid tour-opening frame was marked by high energy playing from start to finish. “Cities” got things moving as the second song of the show, while both “Stash” and “Gin” popped with extra spirit along the way. But, as many tour-opening sets of this era, this one was long in the rearview mirror by the time the encore hit.

I: Suzy Greenberg, Cities > Kill Devil Falls, Guelah Papyrus, Cool It Down, Rift, Stash, Bouncing Around the Room, Bathtub Gin, Quinn the Eskimo

II: Rock and Roll > Ghost > Limb By Limb, Guyute, Dirt, Harry Hood > Good Times Bad Times

E: Julius

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MYFE. & Miner Present: The Island Run

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

4.3.98 – Nassau (livephish)

The Island Run needs no introduction. Four shows that were spontaneously announced in the spring of ’98, because the band was teeming with creativity have become legend in the Phish community. Following the well-loved tours of Fall and New Years ’97, the band had a European jaunt planned for June—but they couldn’t wait that long. They wanted to play now. And the rest is history. As they began to blend a spacey ambiance into their funk stylings of ’97, Phish dropped, arguably, the greatest four-night run of their career in Nassau and Providence, resulting in timeless jams that sit amongst best of all-time.

In the modern era of Phish, beginning at Hampton’s comeback in ‘09, fan-created, jewel-quality, cloisonné pins have emerged as collector’s items of choice. From Gamehendge characters to song representations and from original art to classic logo-rip offs, pins are everywhere on the scene today, taking almost all focus away from lot t-shirts while reducing the hype about posters. Fans rock these pins on hats, shirts, bags and any number of other places. Additionally, collectors have pin boards on which they display their collection. More easily viewable than twenty five posters that are still in tubes in the closet, and retailing for less money, Phish pins have become all the rage in 3.0

4.3.98 – Nassau Coliseum

After I published my book last winter, I decided to think up some pins. Though people had created pins to represent all things Phishy, I decided to take the idea a step further and develop pins that creatively represented historic jams in Phish history. And what better place to start with than The Island Run? Within days I had four designs in mind, but I also had a problem— I didn’t know the first thing about how to make a pin! As fate would have it, in reaching out to the pin community, a kind soul connected me with one of the original and most respected pin making teams in the scene, MYFE. Designs.

Just before the Hampton 2009 reunion, MYFE. Designs was part of the team that launched the first pin of the 3.0 era; the pin that ‘started it all.’ Since then, MYFE. has grown into one of, if not the most, respected pin companies in the scene. Anchored by a two-man team of Tanner Council and Mike “Monk” Cavagnino, MYFE. is known for their thoughtful creative process that has produced some of the highest quality and most sought after pins in the scene today.

Thus, it is with great pride that I announce the first MYFE./Miner collaboration—a four-piece limited edition collectors set representing my favorite jams from each night of The Island Run. Each set of pins comes fixed in it’s own custom-built collector’s case—a free-standing, crystal-clear, plexi-glass tower—that perfectly displays the artwork and detail on both the front and back of these pins. No expense was spared in getting these pieces up to showcase status for your collection. Below you can read about why I chose each jam, and the design process that went into each pin. These collector sets are available for purchase for $80 from MYFE.’s site, and go on sale very soon—as in later today!

The Backstamps

(Note: Photos do not accurately reflect the color and detail of the pins.)

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Twist” 4.2.98 II, Nassau Coliseum

4.2.98 – “Twist”

Coming late in the second set of The Island Run’s opening show, this “Twist” jam elevated in full, giving us the first true sense that something greater was at work. What started as an outrageous Phish concert had turned into a completely sublime experience. Fusing groove and melody in way never truly done before or since, this version of “Twist” grew a life of its own, enveloping the minds of the unsuspecting Nassau audience. Part and parcel of this unforgettable jam, was Chris Kuroda’s one-of-a-kind lighting display. As “Twist” reached a higher plane, Kuroda blanketed the venue with moving, narrow white beams of light, creating an overwhelmingly, extra-terrestrial feel. As the futuristic music with this alien lighting display, a powerfully cathartic moment crystallized; a moment so surreal that if you were there, you’ll never forget the Nassau “Twist.”

Design: When thinking of a design to represent this “Twist,” Kuroda’s indelible lighting display immediately came to mind. I wanted to convey the way the beams took over our visual field while we danced to this divine music. Initially, I sketched this design from memory, but then, on a call with MYFE., we decided to look at the actual YouTube clip from the show. Instead of going with my original sketch, we paused the video at the exact moment that I had attempted to draw. Capturing a screen shot of the lights, precisely as they were during the jam, MYFE.—vectored a proof directly from the image, assuring an accurate reproduction of the scene. After considering different materials and accouterments to accentuate the lights on the actual pin, we decided that sticking true to the white beams, lined with simple black nickel, would be the classiest call. Complete with seven “cut-outs,” 4.2.98’s “Twist” is the first pin in the commemorative series.

[audio:http://phishthoughts.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/04/Island-Twist.mp3]

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Roses Are Free > Piper” 4.3.98 II

4.3.98 – “Roses > Piper”

Hailed by many fans—including myself—as their favorite jam of all time, “Roses -> Piper” is a household term in any Phishy abode. Covering the gamut from seductive grooves to deep-space, sound sculptures and everywhere in between, “Roses -> Piper” has come to define the astounding capabilities of Phish for an entire generation. Kicking off the second set, this timeless pairing covered 45 minutes of the greatest improv you’ll ever hear. April 3, 1998—a night that will always live in infamy—is eternally synonymous with this unparalleled jam. Read more about this “Roses -> Piper” here.

Design: This was the first pin I designed when sitting down last winter. I wanted to create something that would aesthetically do justice to my favorite sequence of Phish music. The first image that came to mind was a worm (“Piper, Piper the red, red worm) slithering through roses, conveying the interconnectedness of this life-changing sequence. But there needed to be a sense of place, so I printed and traced an image of Nassau Coliseum and laid it behind the first piece of paper with the worm and roses. I then traced my entire design onto a single piece of paper. When I got together with MYFE., we all agreed that there was nothing that needed to be changed with this design. With some slight cleaning up of the leaves and roses, and some re-angling of the worm’s curves, this pin represents the original, hand-drawn design.

[audio:http://phishthoughts.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/2.02-Roses-are-Free.mp3,http://phishthoughts.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/2.03-Piper.mp3]

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Birds of A Feather > 2001” 4.4.98 II

4.4.98 – “Birds > 2001”

Phish debuted “Birds of a Feather” during The Island Run’s first show at Nassau. But when they opened Saturday night’s second set with “Birds” in Providence, only two days later, the jam exploded into one of the highlights of the four shows. Blending spacier textures —sounds that would come to define 1998—into the rock jam, Phish pushed the envelope in this hybrid experiment. To say the interplay within this “Birds” is airtight would be a gross understatement. Carving a ferocious and forward-looking jam out of the brand new song, it felt as though the band was looking to top themselves for a third straight night. Finally returning to the last verse after a profound journey, Trey hit the final chord of the song with a delay effect that immediately morphed into the beginning of “2001.”

Crafting an alien-like ambiance before liftoff, with Fish’s snare hit, Phish spun into one of the elite versions of “2001” ever played. Carrying a white-hot intensity, a break-neck pace, and layered with droves of loops and effects, this version launched into the stratosphere, setting a new standard of what was possible from the one-time, three-minute funk cover. If you love Trey solos over “2001,” this is the version you’ve been looking for you’re whole life. If you’re a groove junkie like me, this version never fails to provide that magical fix. This is one of the best. Interestingly, the band never passed through the second theme of the “2001,” instead, breaking the groove down into a percussive vocal jam before starting “Brother.” Clocking in at over half hour of infectious improv, the pairing of “Birds > 2001” is but another timeless paring of Island Run lore.

Design: This pin underwent the most change from original sketch to final product. Before I was in touch with MYFE., I had a simplistic drawing of birds flying through space, but after a long call one night, we decided to incorporate the iconography of Stanley Kubrick’s film “2001: A Space Odyssey,” where the music originated. After re-watching “2001” the next night, I loved our idea of birds flocking around the Monolith—the mysterious, extra-terrestrial object that brought higher consciousness to the apes at “The Dawn of Man,” and to species throughout the universe. When confronted with the Monolith, apes, men, and other species—literally—flocked around the object, providing the ideal image for the birds in the pin. At the end another call, we randomly pulled up an old movie poster for “2001” that only portrayed the astronaut helmet used by the main character, Dave. We quickly thought of putting the entire scene within the visor of the space helmet—as if the astronaut was viewing the birds and the Monolith. This was the answer. And it came out perfect.

[audio:http://phishthoughts.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/2.02-Birds-of-a-Feather.mp3,http://phishthoughts.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/2.03-Also-Sprach-Zarathustra-1.mp3]

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Oh Kee Pah > YEM” 4.5.98 II

4.5.98 – “Oh Kee Pah > YEM”

Despite the fun of the deep funk jam that brought “Possum” into “Cavern” at the end of this show, the most impressive music of the Island Run’s final night came right at the beginning. Rolling with the momentum of the past few nights, Phish came out and played one of my favorite versions of “You Enjoy Myself” in history. Taken entirely by surprise, the audience erupted as the band dropped into “YEM” out of “The Oh Kee Pah Ceremony” for the only time in their career! This move signified a rabid band ready to tear apart the Civic Center once again, and what a way to get the party started! Moving into a totally original jam, laced with sinful whole-band groove, Phish needed no time to warm up on this night. Playing incredibly expressive leads, Trey sounded as if he was narrating a story rather than playing a guitar solo. An original collaboration of rhythmic acrobatics, there is no other version out there that sounds like The Island “YEM.”

Design: The original sketch of this pin had a trampoline over Rhode Island with the letters of “O-h K-e-e P-a-h” bouncing off surface of the tramp. But when MYFE. completed the first rounds of the proofs, such an obvious image didn’t hold up to our other three designs. One night I had an idea: instead of spelling out “Oh Kee Pah”—both literally and figuratively—we’d include images of all the elements that comprised the band’s infamous, collegiate rites of passage. We’ll let you do the detective work from here. With a star marking Providence on the state of Rhode Island, this pin balances the sense of place present in 4.3’s “Roses > Piper” pin.

[audio:http://phishthoughts.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/1.01-The-Oh-Kee-Pa-Ceremony.mp3,http://phishthoughts.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/1.02-You-Enjoy-Myself.mp3]

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The Island Tower

 

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Looking to Leg Two

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

Long Beach Arena (lavenue.com)

With Long Beach only two days away, Leg Two has snuck right up on us! On Wednesday, Phish will embark on a thirteen-show tour over two plus weeks, criss-crossing the nation while hitting a host of venues they’ve never played before. In each year since ’09, the band’s second leg of summer has produced the most significant music of the season. Thus, if this pattern continues, the most memorable jams of 2012 are yet to unfold. Starting in a janky, little-used arena in Long Beach, California, and winding up in everyone’s favorite soccer stadium in Commerce City, Colorado, the second leg of tour looks promising for many reasons.

Momentum: Phish hit a legitimate stride over Leg One, achieving a consistency we hadn’t seen over the past few years. Playing—as a unit—as well as ever, the band crushed their most impressive tour of this era, showing no signs of fatigue over a month-long docket. Their jamming felt fresh and new styles finally took hold. If the band continues to do what they’ve been doing, the fortnight should be a breeze for them, and I think we will all be quite happy with the results.

Starlight Theatre, Kansas City (premier-parking)

Venues: Rarely, at this stage of the game, does Phish visit so many new venues in the course of one tour. Over Leg One, the guys dropped in on one new locale, while in half the time over Leg Two, they will play five venues for the first time ever: Long Beach Arena, San Francisco’s Bill Graham Civic Auditorium, Kansas City’s Starlight Theatre, St. Louis’ Chaifetz Arena, and the Oklahoma City Zoo. Phish always gets a kick out of new environs, and I’d bet they’ll be more than a bit enthused to step onto so many new stages, especially in four small markets. For traveling fans, these new stops will provide totally novel experiences, far more interesting than the normal summer amphitheaters. For regional fans, in many cases, Leg Two will bring Phish to their hometown area for the first time in ages! And when Phish plays Oklahoma City, they band will cross off another state in the dwindling list of those they haven’t played. In addition to these new venues, Phish will return to Oak Mountain in Pelham, Alabama, for the third time ever (’94, ’99), and to Lakewood Amphitheatre in Atlanta for the first time since 2003. With Charlotte the only routine venue of tour, Leg Two should be an adventure!

No Fall Tour: Phish announced earlier this year that there will be no fall tour, therefore, this will be the last we see of the band until New Year’s Run in New York City. Because of the upcoming off-season, I imagine that the guys will let it hang out over their final tour of the year. They have been playing with tremendous confidence and a sense of the moment, and I’d expect these trends to continue.

Execution: But for a few fizzling second sets, Phish has been able to execute their game plan on a nightly basis in 2012. Whether that plan included an extended setlist of songs or several connected jams, the guys played with passion, patience, and musical density, resulting in zero shows that were notably off, sloppy or played poorly.

This summer has brought a renaissance to the modern era, and Leg Two is where the shit goes down! See you in Long Beach…

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MINER ON JAM ON TONIGHT!

Be sure to tune into “Gone Phishin” on SiriusXM’s Jam On TONIGHT at 9 pm eastern (6 pacific) as I host the first of a two-part show that looks back at my favorite jams of Leg One! The first 90-minute segment airs tonight and the second at the same time tomorrow! Thanks in advance for listening!

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20% OFF SALE ON PHISH THOUGHTS BOOKS!

(Masthay)

Now through Dick’s you can order Mr. Miner’s Phish Thoughts for only $39.99 plus shipping and handling! I am not going to have many books on tour due to the tough routing, thus your best way of grabbing one is through the site. 600 plus pages, 250 plus photos and hours of entertainment—all for just $39.99! I will try to have some in Colorado! (Please allow a couple days to ship while I am on the road.)

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TTFF: Cities of Summer

Posted in Uncategorized with the tags , , on August 10th, 2012 by Mr.Miner

6.15.2012 (Michael Stein)

In the tradition of Kevin Shapiro’s “Live Bait” series, in which he highlights jams from the venues and/or cities of the upcoming tour, I have put together an “unreleased” playlist of my own that fits the same bill for Leg Two. Perhaps someday some of these choice nuggets may get the soundboard treatment. Until then, enjoy these audience recordings within “Cities of Summer.”

***

The Curtain > Tweezer” 11.19.95 II, Charlotte, NC

Out of so many phenomenal Fall ’95 “Tweezers,” this version, from Charlotte Coliseum, is one of my favorites.

[audio:http://phishthoughts.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/04/ph95-11-19d2t03.mp3,http://phishthoughts.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/04/ph95-11-19d2t04.mp3]

***

Wolfman’s Brother” 8.6.98 II, Atlanta, GA

This Lakewood “Wolfman’s” is a perfect portrait of a band migrating from funk towards a more ambient sound during Summer ’98.

[audio:http://phishthoughts.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/03/15-Wolfmans-Brother_.mp3]

***

Gumbo” 7.3.99 I, Atlanta, GA

The second song of a two-night, Lakewood holiday stand stretched into an engaging dance session right off the bat.

[audio:http://phishthoughts.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/1-02-Gumbo.mp3]

***

Frankie Says > Bowie” 11.4.98 I, Denver, CO

A phenomenal chunk of Fall ’98 ambient jamming blossomed out of “Frankie Says”and  led into an intricate set-closing “Bowie” at McNichols ’98.

[audio:http://phishthoughts.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/ph1998-11-04d1t08.mp3,http://phishthoughts.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/ph1998-11-04d1t09.mp3]

***

Harry Hood” 9.28.99 I Pelham, AL

Playing like a man possessed, Trey leads the band and audience to the mountaintop and beyond in one of the greatest “Hoods” you’ve never heard. And it came at the end of the first set at Oak Mountain ’99’s throwdown! This selection goes out to Scotty B. of YEMBlog, one of the biggest “Hood” fans on the planet.

[audio:http://phishthoughts.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/ph99-09-28d2t01.mp3]

***

Reba” 6.13.94 II Kansas City, KS

“Reba” and 1994 are like peanut butter and jelly. I’ve always loved this version for the hypnotic rhythm groove Trey spins right out of the gates. You can check out the awesome You Tube clip as well!

[audio:http://phishthoughts.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/02/ph1994-06-13d2t03.mp3]

***

Timber -> Simple” 11.16.97 II Denver, CO

Having always lived in the shadow of the next night’s monumental show, this “Timber” from the opening night of Denver ’97, never gets its due. One of the truly dark horse jams of Fall ’97—with a spectacular segue—deserves the soundboard treatment one day. It’s that good.

[audio:http://phishthoughts.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/Timber-Jerry.mp3,http://phishthoughts.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/Simple.mp3]

***

Bathtub Gin” 7.20.98, Ventura,CA

Everyone knows the Riverport “Gin” from a week later, but this similarly, show-opening version from North of LA, laid the groundwork for the masterpiece to follow.

[audio:http://phishthoughts.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/03/01-Track-01.mp3]

***

Piper -> 2001” 11.4.98 II, Denver, CO

The centerpiece of an underrated show in Denver.

[audio:http://phishthoughts.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/03/ph1998-11-04d2t03.mp3,http://phishthoughts.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/03/ph1998-11-04d2t04.mp3]

***

Antelope” 8.6.97 II Maryland Heights, MO

After a cross-country trek from The Gorge to St. Louis, this blistering “Antelope”—with a theremin-laced “Makisupa” jam, was a talking point of the Midwest section of Summer ’97, and one of the best versions of the entire tour.

[audio:http://phishthoughts.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/03/ph97-08-06d3t05.mp3]

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MINER ON SIRIUS/XM’s JAM ON—MONDAY and TUESDAY

I’m both happy and excited to announce that I will be the guest host of Sirius/XM Jam On‘s “Gone Phishin” this coming Monday and Tuesday, 8/13 and 8/14. The show will air at 9 pm Eastern / 6 pm Pacific and will run for 90 minutes each night. Over the course of three hours, I will be highlighting my favorite jams of Leg One, as we prepare for Long Beach’s opener of Leg Two on Wednesday night. Be sure to tune as it should be a good time with great music guaranteed!

 

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Hidden Moments Pt. II

Posted in Uncategorized with the tags , , , on August 8th, 2012 by Mr.Miner

7-7-12, SPAC (Ryan MacNeil)

Here’s a closer look at some more stellar nuggets from Leg One that might not leap off the page when perusing setlists.

***

Light Up or Leave Me Alone” 6.22 I, Riverbend

This dense chunk of improv during an action packed opening half in Cincy, is the tightest conversations of the set. Foreshadowing the all-star jamming in the second set, the guys fired into a full band groove out of the last verse, and the crowd absolutely went off. Riding an infectious tempo, the band locked into a sinful groove that allowed all members to shine while the sun was still out. Though not as long as SPAC’s set-closing version, this one takes the cake for improvisational gusto.

[audio:http://phishthoughts.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/1.06-Light-Up-or-Leave-Me-Alone.mp3,http://phishthoughts.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/1.07-Wilson.mp3]

***

Harry Hood” 7.4 II, Jones Beach

Amidst an extended visit to Standardstown USA during the second half of July 4th second set, this “Harry Hood” was the only jam that got interesting. Breaking the mold of the piece, the band infused the same, calypso chord progression from the the Gorge’s “Light” of August 7, 2009, into the jam. Lending a summery vibe to the alredy-uplifting anthem, this version stood out as the best of tour.

[audio:http://phishthoughts.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/2.11-Harry-Hood.mp3]

***

Suskind Hotel” 7.4 I, Jones Beach

Phish tacked a fiery jam on Mike’s “Suskind Hotel” amidst a marathon first set on July 4th. Many may have forgotten the obscure piece, as it was only the second time played on the big stage. But back in 2006, “Suskind” was a central jam vehicle for Mike, Trey, Marco Benevento, and Joe Russo’s horribly monikered, though musically impressive, GRAB project. Driving the jam into a fast paced and groovy milieu, the band exploded through the piece and ended on a dime. And when it was over, nobody was really sure what had happened—but it was good. Bring on more visits to the “Hotel.”

[audio:http://phishthoughts.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/1.12-Suskind-Hotel.mp3]

***

If I Could” 6.7 II, Worcester

In one of the sets of the summer—filled with jams aplenty—it would be easy to gloss over the “breather.” But in this case, the guys outlandish playing from “Carini > Taste > Ghost > Boogie On” spilled right into the elusive ballad. Juicing every ounce of emotion out of the song, the guys brought the crowd to their knees with this poignant landing pad.

[audio:http://phishthoughts.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/2.05-If-I-Could.mp3]

***

Split Open and Melt” 7.8 I, SPAC

In the first set of the final show of Leg One, Phish unveiled the second “Split” of summer. While Portmouth’s version was defined by slow and drone-like textures, this version popped with far more fire and dynamic interplay. Launching into a cacaphanous and aggressive conversation, the band carved an intense journey that peaked with deranged fury. Each band member contributed to this maddening piece of improv, navigating incredibly abstract music with unreal cohesion. Within a three-night stand, some jams can be lost in the flood of music, but this “Split” should not, as it stands out and one of the strongest versions of this era.

[audio:http://phishthoughts.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/1.12-Split-Open-and-Melt.mp3]
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More Webcasts—Meh.

Posted in Uncategorized with the tags , on August 6th, 2012 by Mr.Miner

Bill Graham Civic Auditorium

One of the most anticipated runs of summer just got a little less intimate, as Phish announced that they will offer official webcasts for all three sold-out shows at San Francisco’s historic Bill Graham Civic Auditorium. No longer will the shows take place behind closed doors for the 7000 lucky souls in the building, but they are now pay-per-view commodities that can be purchased and watched with any Internet connection. When I speak of my distaste for webcasts, the most common retort is, “But what about all the fans who can’t make it to the west coast?” Well, what about all the west coast fans during Atlantic City? What about all southern fans during Deer Creek and Alpine? What about the Midwestern fans during Long Beach? That’s life! The point of a Phish concert has never been to allow as many people as possible to “tune in.” The fact that shows happen in small arenas in random cities across the country, inaccessible to those not in the building, is actually part of the magic! Phish just spent a month touring the east coast and Midwest, and they will provide soundboard downloads within an hour of every show’s conclusion—is that not good enough? Is nothing sacred anymore? The Phish experience once represented a personal quest one had to undertake to reap the spiritual spoils of the live experience. Now anyone can eat Doritos and take bong hits on their couch while watching the first Phish shows in San Francisco since 1994 (less the ‘98 Fillmore show) like a TV sitcom—and that cheapens what Phish is all about. It is one thing to webcast high key shows like the New Year’s Run, Bonnaroo or the Vermont Flood Benefit, but leave the regular tour stops for the fans on tour. What’s next, a month-long subscription where one doesn’t have to leave the confines of his own home to witness what goes down on stage for an entire tour? I sure as hell hope not, even as I face the impending reality of not seeing every show.

6.20.12 (M. Stein)

Beyond cheapening the Phish experience, webcast shows, more often than not, don’t hold up, musically, to the rest of the shows of tour. Take Leg One as our most recent evidence. Phish webcasted the Portsmouth and Jones Beach shows, and three of those four were among the weakest of tour. Both Portsmouth shows and July 4th illustrated a propensity for a lot of songs and very little jamming. In these three shows—combined—the only out-of the-box improv came in 6/20’s “Hood -> What’s the Use?”, 7/4’s “Twist,” and the very ends of 7/4’s “Tweezer” and 6/20’s “Rock and Roll.” That’s it. Other than those passages, the band cranked out never-ending setlists that did little to engage the psyche of the audience. Was there quality playing and tight, “type I” jamming? Of course! This is 3.0—there is always quality playing and tight, “type I” jamming. But those elements don’t make a show or we’d all be heralding the first night of Portsmouth as the best show of tour.

In webcasts of this era, it’s fair to say that the band has tended towards more more songs and less jamming than other shows of tour. In 2011, the first night of Tahoe and Dick’s stellar three-pack—the ultimate counter-example to any “webcast effect”—appeared to put this theory to rest after it had gained momentum over ’09 and ’10. But with six of the last eight webcast shows being suspect, perhaps the idea bears reexamination. There are often standalone highlights in webcast shows, for example, 7/4’s “Twist,” 12/30/11’s “Piper,” or Alpharetta ’11’s “Disease -> Maze., but more often than not, these uber-public performances pale in comparison to their surrounding shows. I am far beyond the point of trying to figure out why webcast shows don’t always explode, but going on empirical evidence gathered in this era, they usually carry a different vibe.

(Terrell Shaw)

Yesterday, in an extended, multi-party Twitter debate on this very subject, long-time fan, critic, and Phish.net guru, Charlie Dirksen tweeted: “no doubt that Phish is self-aware that their webcasted gig’s audience is larger than they can ever fully know.” And it’s this enhanced self-awareness—potentially taking the guys out of the moment and altering the course of setlists and shows—that is all I’ve ever hypothesized (and been derided for). Perhaps the guys “play to the webcast,” or maybe they just think about it at times, but something about these shows often feels a little different. In all circumstances, Phish’s music reflects the environment in which it was created, responding to such variables as venue size, weather, location, and crowd vibe. How is a webcast to an unknown audience of thousands not another similar variable?

There is no doubt that webcasts benefit the community by allowing a greater audience to share in the groove—but is that groove diluted? Wouldn’t one rather listen to a mind-numbing show an hour after it ended than watch a mediocre one? Almost every other show of Leg One, besides Portsmouth and July 4th, absolutely smoked. In case you forgot, they included, Worcester, AC, Riverbend, Star Lake, Blossom, Deer Creek, Alpine and SPAC. The one glaring exception? A gimmicky Saturday night affair with virtually no second set jamming at SPAC that was broadcast on Sirius. Is this just another in a long line of coincidences? Maybe so, maybe not.

What is the take away from all this? Who knows, but get your ass to Long Beach at all costs!

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Jam of the Day:

Run Like An Antelope” 7.3 II, Jones Beach

A nugget from the only high-quality, webcast show during Leg One.

[audio:http://phishthoughts.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/2.09-Run-Like-an-Antelope.mp3]
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Starting Things Off

Posted in Uncategorized with the tags , , on August 6th, 2012 by Mr.Miner

7.8.2012 (Ryan MacNeil)

Openers, though not crucial to a standout show, necessarily set the opening tone of the night. Often used as a slot for a warm up song or a bust-out, when the band expands on show openers, the vibe of the night is immediately elevated. Phish featured a mixed bag of openers, hitting on all parts of the spectrum from token to stellar during Leg One, and following were the top five.

5.”Soul Shakedown Party” 7.1, East Troy, WI

A welcome beginning to any show, when the band opens up with the Bob Marley cover, it usually foreshadows good things. And looking back on Alpine’s second night, this occasion certainly fits the bill. A bust out that everyone loves, “Soul Shakedown” began a theme of rarities that carried throughout the first half. Nothing too serious, this opener, if nothing else, gave everyone plenty of time—and the perfect soundtrack—to burn a show-opening spliff before the action got going in earnest.

[audio:http://phishthoughts.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/1.01-Soul-Shakedown-Party.mp3]

4. “Mike’s > Hydrogen > Weekapaug” 6.16, Atlantic City, NJ

Regardless of how insignificant “Mike’s Song” has become on the modern improvisational landscape, when put at the front of a show, the guitar lick, the drop into the jam, and the menacing textures take on a whole new role. Far more akin to its original format of the early ‘90s than its late-’90s jam-fiestas, “Mike’s Groove” will, nonetheless, always hold a special place in the annals of Phish. In this more compact format, the front of the first set is, arguably, the best placement for the musical suite, demonstrated perfectly by this Atlantic City version.

[audio:http://phishthoughts.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/1.01-Mikes-Song.mp3,http://phishthoughts.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/1.02-I-Am-Hydrogen.mp3,http://phishthoughts.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/1.03-Weekapaug-Groove.mp3]

3. “Buried Alive” 6.7, Worcester, MA

This old school shredder kicked off the entire tour, illustrating the band’s intent to thrill right off the bat. Instead of warming up with “Sample” or “AC/DC Bag,” the guys dove head first into summer with a fierce take on”Buried Alive.” A good omen, no doubt…

[audio:http://phishthoughts.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/1.01-Buried-Alive.mp3]

2. “Wolfman’s Brother” 6.22, Cincy, OH

When Phish starts the show with a chunk of improv, a different sort of energy grips the crowd, and when the guys dropped a thick and extended “Wolfman’s” to spark Riverbend, that is exactly what happened. Digging into a plinkofied, funk exchange that blossomed into the most significant version of tour, the band strapped on their seat belts right away for one of the best two-setters of summer.

[audio:http://phishthoughts.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/1.02-Wolfmans-Brother.mp3]

1. “Skin It Back” 7.3, Wantagh, NY

One of the greatest openers of their career, the band kicked off Jones Beach with their biggest bust out off all-time—and they jammed it! Though everyone thought the band was bringing back “Spanish Moon” from Waiting For Columbus, Phish was, in fact, digging far deeper—1,417 shows to be exact—playing the eleventh version of Little Feat’s “Skin it Back.” Jamming significantly in the bluesy, percussive sound, the guys combined everything one could look for in an opener into a single experience. It will be tough for any second-leg opener to dethrone Jones Beach’s shocker.

[audio:http://phishthoughts.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/1.02-Skin-It-Back.mp3]

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Jam of the Day:

Light > Twist” 7.8 II, SPAC

The fourth “Light” of Leg One; all were tour highlights.

[audio:http://phishthoughts.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/2.02-Light-1.mp3,http://phishthoughts.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/2.03-Twist-3.mp3]
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