Miner’s Mailbag

8.22.12 – Starlight Theatre (Ryan MacNeil)

Today I am trying a new format for a post that I hope will become a weekly feature on Phish Thoughts. Yesterday evening, via Twitter (@mrminer), I put a call out for any Phish-related questions. I would then select some to answer for today’s post…and voila! I think it’s a cool way to keep a pulse on what the community is thinking about and a great way to interact on a more personal level in more than 140 characters. I will try to answer all the other questions via Twitter. I hope you enjoy, and I welcome any constructive feedback.

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@phantastic99 Do you feel the long layoffs after summer will hurt phish next summer?

I think Phish proved in Worcester this year that no amount of time off can truly “hurt” them if they practice and prepare for tour, so I suppose the answer to your question is no. But, with such extended time off (if things repeat themselves), I do feel there is a certain amount of “resetting” that naturally happens. It’s no longer like the late ‘90s where the band’s improvisational style directly builds upon itself from one tour to another. It’s more of a catch all—or catch anything—scene these days. For example, during Leg One the band was pushing plinko jams and in Leg Two they were virtually non-existent; everything was coming up blissful. I think that the band is capable of playing in so many different styles at this point, that it is far more about how they are feeling on any given night than what has happened, musically, in preceding shows or tours. Another example, Page was majestically integrating the Theremin into the best jams of Leg Two of 2011, only to bust it out once this year as a joke during Star Lake’s “Scent.” So to wrap back around to your question, I don’t think time off can hurt the band, but it would be fascinating to see where a fall tour that built off such an amazing summer would go to right now. But that’s not where Phish is at these days. With kids in school and families in full force, the band has adjusted their schedule accordingly.

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 @deadareus  Audience vs. sbd… What’s your personal preference and why?

Great question, and the eternal audiophile debate. I think that the crispiest, most ideal audience tape will always sound better than a soundboard. But there are so many variables in that audience tape coming out perfectly, that 9 times out of 10 I prefer the current soundboards. It’s a different experience though. Listening to an audience tape is listening to how the room sounded that night; it is an authentic, aural reproduction of the show. It will capture aspects of Phish’s sound that the soundboards can’t. But at the same time, soundboards allow one to hear the detail of the music with far more clarity—hence their advantage—though they can sometimes sound flat. I think LivePhish has their mix fairly dialed in at this point, and that’s what’s on my iPod at all times. With the immediacy of the soundboards these days, everything has changed in the listening game. Without a DAT to pop in immediately like back in the day, I know I’m not gonna’ wait for tapers to post torrents to re-listen to the show. We’re spoiled, but it is what it is.

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@WDurgin Does the music suffer when they webcast? #phishtroll

Haven’t you heard? After Leg Two, the theory has shifted: the music suffers when they don’t webcast!

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@likeanantelope December 95 or May 1977. Which was a better month of music? #phishandthedead #toughquestions

December 1995 by a country mile, but I’m kinda biased. With December ’95, we are talking about one of the peak months of music ever produced by Phish. There are hearty takeaways from each and every show in this month which, in many respects, was a stylistic culmination of the band’s entire career. My favorite era of Dead music is the early ‘70s—specifically the one drummer era of ’72 and ’73—when the jams were far more wide open and psychedelic. Everyone always touts ’77 Dead, but I always found those tapes to be far less intriguing than their earlier ones.

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@alicht What are your top 5 shows of 2012 thus far?

1) 8/31 Dick’s, 2) 8/19 Bill Graham, 3) 9/1 Dick’s, 4) 8/15 Long Beach, 5) Tie: 8/28 St. Louis and 6/7 Worcester; Runners Up: 6/15 AC, 9/2 Dick’s

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@AceMcCready68 With the band stretching songs past 20 minutes do you think the 4 song second set will happen in the next year?

No. I don’t think they have the stamina or the drugs to jam four songs in a row for fifteen plus minutes. We can only hope. About the stamina that is.

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@seif69 I would like to see you talk about the (non)religious themes in songs like Bug, Lifeboy, Sand, etc. #phish

Clearly, Trey and Tom have exposed an agnostic, if not atheist, bent in these tunes. (“I will choose my own religion…” “You don’t get a refund if you overpray”) With anti-establishment themes like these, the band is subliminally luring their fans away from organized society into a cult of rock and roll idolatry where loyalists spend $75 dollars for ticket, $20 for parking and $50 dollars for a poster every night. When these lemmings are doped up on psychedelics, their fragile minds are suspectible to delicate, lyrical manipulation, as in the instances that you have referenced. (Also see: “Time for the Meatstick, Bury the Meatstick, Time for the Meatstick” and “Please her with a tweezer.”) Most Phish fans are so caught up in hypnotic dance that these messages integrate with their brainwaves on a frequency that is undetectable to the human psyche. These altered brainwaves seduce their followers away from their families and into lives of on-tour debauchery. “It doesn’t matter.” Get it?

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@benerickson922 How would the introduction of new original material impact future shows/tours?

Shit. I was hoping it would have impacted shows already. But so far, so good. Ya’ gotta believe if the guys plan on playing for a while, and all signs seem to point that way, that they will cut a new record. That’s what bands do, right? It’s been the longest gap of Phish’s career without producing a new album, and would hope that changes soon. How would it impact shows? It would provide spice and variety while keeping things on the up and up! It’s time to add another signature jam or three to this era to go with “Light” and “Golden Age.” Expect most fans to bitch about any new material for the first tour, and then begin to come around slowly as usual.

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Jam of the Day:

Down With Disease” 8.17 II, SF

The most far-reaching jam of BGCA outside of night three.

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431 Responses to “Miner’s Mailbag”

  1. bobby weird Says:

    due props to @snow, who admirably both used the phrase ‘inaccurate reception’ and made self inflicted jams re king county. this is a grown ass man who comes around quickly.

  2. bobby weird Says:

    *jabs. m/b.

  3. tzara's Says:

    Just got back from the UW/Stanford game. Take that Cardinal. Can’t believe the defense the Huskies are playing after last year. This town is getting some attitude.

  4. Phunky58 Says:

    wow u have st. louis in ur top 5 and not star lake are u kiddding me???? thats way offf the mark imo. and to put ac above star lake for honorable mention. hmmm thnk u need to relisten to leg1 again, seems u have become wrapped up in all the leg2 hype and overlooked the overalll better leg of this tour which was leg1.

  5. Brian Says:

    Thank you. 72-74 Dead is, IMO the best they ever offered. Sounds more organic. Less drummers = more musical freedom for the drummer to offer more unique contributions. Some amazingly exploratory jams. Nice to see someone who knows a lot about improv back that opinion.

  6. Ben Says:

    Can I still ask questions if I don’t have a twitter account?

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