Flipping the Script

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

12.5.2009 (Graham Lucas)

Three years ago today, Phish turned the ship around. Amidst a fall tour that featured limited creativity, less a few jams here and there, the band unveiled a 48-minute sequence that remains among the most adventurous of this era.  Where they often reeled in their excursions, the band pushed on, shocking everyone in The Knick on that fateful November night. Many cite Albany’s “Seven Below > Ghost” as a legitimate turning point of 2009, and considering the course the band took for the rest of fall tour through Miami, that assertion would be hard to argue against.

Albany ’09 Print (Brosmind)

Phish had played an impressive second leg of summer, specifically out west where stands at Red Rocks and the Gorge illustrated a much enhanced improvisational confidence. When the band returned to the east coast to conclude summer, however, the their risk taking diminished, managing about one serious jam per show. With the start of Fall Tour started, Phish stepped inside for the first time after their comeback shows in Hampton. Throughout history, fall tour, traditionally, saw the band’s experiments darken and the intensity of their jamming elevate, but over the first half of Fall ’09, their musical progression plateaued.

Despite a few gems, specifically Cobo Arena’s “46 Days,” Philly’s “Disease” (which built upon a highlight version from Detroit) and a rock solid second set on the first night of Cincinnati, the band’s extended jams followed a cookie-cutter pattern of shredding rock > percussive grooves > ambient washout. The night before Thanksgiving, Phish dropped their weakest show of tour in Philadelphia, capping an sterile night of music with “Time Turns Elastic.” Needless to say, this wasn’t the anticipated path for the first fall circuit since 2000. But then we got to Albany.

The first night in New York’s capitol showed hints of inspiration in the debut of “Golden Age” and a scorching version of “Piper.”  But after the second night in Albany, nobody would be talking about the first. To kick off their fourth and final set of the two night stand, Phish took “Seven Below” off the shelf for the third time of the year, and this one would be unlike the previous two. Pushing far beyond convention and outshining any musical plane they had visited during the year, the guys played off each other with stunning fluidity, progressing through several melodic themes en route to a soul-tickling escapade. Infusing the magic of lore into their set-opening jam, Phish wove original music of the likes they had only hinted at during the peaks of summer. And as they wrapped up 25 minutes of pure catharsis, they segued smoothly into “Ghost!”

12.6.09 (G.Lucas)

Playing with an abandon unseen in ages, the guys keenly navigated a melody driven turned sweltering psych rock rendition of their groove vehicle that quickly stood out as the version of the year. A multi-tiered jam that slithered through several distinct feels, Albany’s “Ghost” contained as many daring twists and turns as “Seven Below,” and this entire sequence of egoless interplay set the community ablaze. Harnessing the adventurous spirit and whole-band unity that once defined the quartet, Phish cranked through improv so original it made the most of the year’s previous music sound contrived.

There aren’t many jams from 2009, that didn’t take place in The Gorge or Miami that still lavish the praise of Albany’s revelation. With new momentum in tow, Phish jams grew bigger and bolder over the final week of Fall Tour, a palpable shift that graced the band’s return to Madison Square Garden and their tour-closer in Charlottesville. Throughout their comeback year, Phish experienced re-growing pains as they worked their way back to prominence. And though they didn’t turn that corner in earnest until a month later in Miami, it was this night three years ago that set the band on course for their Holiday Run transformation.

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Jam of the Day:

Seven Below > Ghost” 11.28.09 II, Albany, NY

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TTFT: Turkey Tunes

Posted in Uncategorized with the tags , on November 22nd, 2012 by Mr.Miner

Happy Thanksgiving!

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Ghost” 7.30.99 Niigata, JP

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Tweezer” 11.12.95 II, Atlanta, GA

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Simple” 11.21.98 II, Hampton, VA

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Split -> Catapult” 12.31.99 I, Big Cypress

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Bathtub Gin” 2.14.03 I, Inglewood, CA

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Mike’s Song > Keyboard Cavalry” 11.21.95 II, W-S, NC

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Stash” 10.10.99 I, Albany, NY

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Piper > Mist” 8.9.10 II, Telluride, CO

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Free” 12.15.99 II, Washington, DC

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YEM” 7.2.98 II, Christiana, DK

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TTFF: Modern Holidays

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

12.31.2010 (Ryan Gilbertie)

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In anticipation of this year’s New Year’s Run, let’s reminisce with some of the brightest memories from the holiday runs of 3.0

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Tweezer -> Caspian” 12.29.09 II

The best “Tweezer” of any Holiday Run this era, and one of the elite 3.0 versions.

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Ghost -> N20” 12.31.09 II

The first New Year’s Eve “Ghost” of this era, a modern tradition that has stuck so far.

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Seven Below > What’s the Use?” 12.27.10 II

This jam highlighted Worcester’s opening show two years ago.

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Simple” 1.1.11 II

The standout piece of the strongest show from 2010’s 5-night run.

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Piper” 12.30.11 II

The best jam from an unimprressive Holiday run last year.

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Harry Hood” 12.28.10 II

One of the elite versions of all time.

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Back on the Train” 12.30.09 II

The most impressive jam to ever stem from this song.

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2001 > Slave” 12.29.09 II

The cathartic closing combo of a very special night in Miami.

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3.0 Rankings for Fun

Top NYE Show: 1) 2010 2) 2009 3) 2011

Top Holiday Run: 1) 2009 2) 2010 3) 2011

Top Holiday Run Show: 1) 12.29.09 2) 1.1.11  3) 12.31.10 4) 12.30.09 5) 12.28.11

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MASTHAY’S “THE TERMINAL” ON SALE TODAY @ NOON EST!

Grab your quadtych today at Noon EST at Masthay Studios !

“The Terminal” AJ Masthay

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Miner’s Mailbag VI

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

6.11.11 (Brian Ferguson)

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@RichLevy00: Since everyone is so tease obsessed…What do you really consider a tease?? One that’s worthy of a footnote…

In my opinion, a tease must include clear intent on behalf of a band member and be 100% non-debatable (e.g. Page’s “Green-Eyed Lady” in Dick’s ’11 “Tweezer” or Trey’s “Norweigan Wood” in Worcester ‘12 “Taste”). If there is any question as to whether something was a tease or not, I don’t feel it should be noted on an official setlist. There have been teases noted where I can understand what the person heard but I don’t think it’s a tease at all (e.g. alleged “Live and Let Die” in Pelham ‘12 “Rock and Roll”) and then there are teases that make no sense whatsoever to me. I’m not sure why Phish fans are so tease-crazy, I’ve always thought it to be odd phenomenon. To recap—clear intent and no subjectivity.

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@TimberCarini: What are your favorite five “one-time covers” you have seen live and why were they special?

In no particular order:

“Running With the Devil” 8.6.98, Atlanta: As a huge Van Halen fan from early on in my life, this encore from Lakewood ’98 shocked me in the best way. To hear Trey play Eddie’s licks, even if they weren’t so clean, was a sublime experience that united my childhood and young adult life.

“Terrapin Station” 8.9.98, Virginia Beach: Click here to read a post about this magical moment.

 “Thunder Road” 6.19.11 Portsmouth: When the band started the intro to “Thunder Road” to honor the passing of Clarence Clemmons, I could hardly believe my ears. Once again the band had inserted one of my absolute favorite songs into their live show. Even though it was pretty much off the cuff, the power of hearing Phish cover meaningful songs from your life is undeniable.

“Bohemian Rhapsody” 12.31.96 III, Boston: For a tripped out tale about this experience, click here.

“So Lonely” 11.14.98 E, Cincinnati: My first two favorite bands in life were Duran Duran and The Police, thus when the band pulled this song out of nowhere as the encore at The Crown and bled into “Tweezer Reprise,” I was totally floored.

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@mcary23: …five songs or even segments of songs that you consider lyrically to be Tom and Trey’s best work…

Some of my favorite lyrical pieces are “It’s Ice,” “Lifeboy,” “Sand,” “Silent In the Morning,” “Velvet Sea,” “Frankie Says” and “Spices.”

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@bryantweathers: What do you expect from #Phish in 2013 in terms of tour dates?

A lot of people have asked this very question, so based on nothing at all, here is my prediction for 2013: a two-legged summer tour featuring Festival X, a Halloween run, a Thanksgiving/30th Anniversary Run and New Year’s Run. As the band members now have families, I think full-blown fall tours are a thing of the past.

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@diller24: Where does Madison Square Garden rank among top Phish venues?

If considering both the show experience and musical output MSG is right up against the Gorge for top venue of all time. I’ve always thought of it as the top indoor venue to see Phish. While Hampton has a better show experience and better sound, it doesn’t have the history of MSG. Phish hasn’t performed close to as many memorable shows and jams in The Mothership as the New York’s midtown Mecca. This upcoming holiday run will make 27 total shows at MSG—almost a month of Phish in one venue! And if I were to list the all-time jams that have gone down in The Garden, it would be a post of its own. I did a whole series of MSG memoirs a couple years ago before MSG 2010, and I plan to repost them in anticipation of this New Year’s Run. While some of the 3.0 shows at MSG haven’t quite been up to snuff, there is little question that the venue has hosted more top-shelf Phish shows than any in the land.

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@stillwading: If you were to have the band over for breakfast, which cereal would you have in stock for each member and why?
Trey: Cap’n Crunch—because he leads the ship.
Mike: Cinnamon Life—because Mikey likes it.
Page: Smorz—because they are as close to a sandwich as you can get in breakfast cereal.
Fish: Fruit Loops—to match his dress and demeanor.
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@HeyCrutch: If you could change one thing about Phishtory, what would you change?

The band would have played Halloween shows in ’97 and ’99. (I guess that’s two.)

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Jam of the Day:

Light” 7.1.10 II, Raleigh, NC

One of the highlights of early summer 2010, as “Light” was coming into its own.

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MASTHAY’S “THE TERMINAL” ON SALE TOMORROW!

Don’t forget to pick up your New Year’s Run quadtych at Noon EST tomorrow at Masthay Studios!

“The Terminal” AJ Masthay

 

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AJ Masthay’s “The Terminal”

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

“The Terminal” Sketches – AJ Masthay

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Amidst 2012, a year when official Phish posters seemed to dwell in the uninspired, fan-turned-professional artist, AJ Masthay, has continued to crank out some of the more visually stunning and thought provoking prints in the scene. Using time-honored techniques in a field that is becoming increasingly digital, AJ’s hand-carved, linoleum block prints have gained widespread recognition over the past few years with hallmarks of brilliant colors, thick coats of ink, and bold-eye-catching imagery. I recently caught up with AJ to discuss his transformative year and his upcoming MSG quadtych, “The Terminal.” (Click on images to enlarge.)

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MM: It’s been a year since we sat down to talk. Your 2012 work has been hailed as some of your best work to date. You knocked your Phish series out of the park and picked up some official work for Further tour. How has your printmaking progressed over 2012?

AJM: 2012 was big for me, no doubt. The biggest change on my end was finally taking the plunge and pursuing my career as an artist full time, Feb 29th – Leap day – was my last day putting on the collar shirt and tie. Knock on wood, it’s been one of the best decisions of my life. I now have the luxury of devoting every waking moment to creating art and growing Masthay Studios.

2012 was also a year of refining techniques for me. I consider myself a craftsman, you know old school apprentice and master shit where you live and breathe your craft and strive for perfection. The more disciplined you become, your work will naturally become more refined. I created a new registration system for my Vandercook press this year allowing for much tighter alignment between plates. This is critical for achieving the kinds of detail you see in my recent works, specifically all the Furthur pieces from both the summer and fall.  I’ve been printing for almost 20 years now and it always amazes me how much there is to still learn.

Let’s talk little bit about your second consecutive New Year’s Run quadtych! Moray eels, pigeons, a robot and Grand Central Station—what was your inspiration and vision behind this year’s prints?

12.28.12 (Masthay)

Let me start out by saying I love creating the triptychs and now the quadtychs. The size of my work is limited by the size of the bed on my printing press, about 15″ x 22″. The print sets give me the freedom to stretch my legs and flesh out larger compositions while still working within those constraints. Being born and raised in Connecticut, I’ve had the luxury of going into the city pretty much whenever I felt like it, and 99% of the time that meant hopping a train and heading to Grand Central. It’s just one of icons of Manhattan and with the shear volume of people coming through that beautifully ornate terminal, most anyone living or visiting the City will have some type of emotional connection to the space.

So I had my environment chosen, now to develop the cast of characters and story that will take place in that environment. An MSG new years run has a certain amount of nostalgia for me, like that old hat that just feels right when you put it on. We’ve all been trucking into the city for so many years now, there’s a comfort and familiarity to the whole experience and I love that. This is where the robot comes from—it is a direct reference to the Harpua story from 1997 (Lost in Space robot, pentagrams, and udder ball) but it also represents nostalgia and all the amazing experiences we’ve been blessed with [in that building].

There is a definite darkness to the eels in these prints. Was there a specific message you were trying to convey through the eels?

12.29.12 (Masthay)

Ahh, the eels; the eels represent so much it’s hard to know where to start. On one level the eels bring a fishiness to the prints, representing sea creatures so often associated with the band. But these eels aren’t in the ocean, they’re in Grand Central Station, and they’re emanating from a smashed disco ball—a NYE 2009 reference. If you look at the emotion being portrayed by the eels in each pane or vignette of the quad, you’ll see the emotion that I personally feel I go through during these four-night runs. In the first pane the eels are curious and inquisitive, checking out the robot and wondering how things will progress in this run. The eels are obviously comfortable in their environment. In the second pane they are fully engulfed in the RAGE. The rage continues in the third pane but the hunger becomes more and more evident—both literal hunger and the hunger for things to come. Finally, the full on face melting of New Year’s Eve and just being slayed by the greatest band on earth. Darkness—maybe emotion—absolutely.

This is the third consecutive MSG holiday run—has it become increasingly hard to think of geographically relevant imagery, or do you have ideas just waiting to come out?

That’s’ the beauty of New York City, there is so much to work with, the difficult part is tying it into MSG and the shows. Being able to do that and make it all feel natural, not forced, is where the creativity comes into play.

This quad looks a bit more detailed and refined than a lot of your previous prints. Is this a natural progression of your work?

This is partially the natural progression I spoke about earlier, implementing new techniques to allow for greater detail and better registration, but is also a direct result of choosing an environment like Grand Central Station. The place is stunningly beautiful, as ornate as any Newport mansion, but meant for all to utilize and enjoy. I also purposely did not hold myself to a certain number of colors on these, I think there’s something like eleven total colors, some of which will be, literally, mixed on the prints by layering. I Facebooked a message a few days ago saying “I’m not sure how I’m going to do this,” and the shear number of colors on these quads is what I was referring to. It’s going to be challenging, but that’s part of the fun.

I really love the 29th print with the train and the eels bursting out of the image, as well as the gas masked train conductor alluding to last year’s “MSG Rapture” quad. Do you conceive the central imagery of each print individually and then figure out how to combine them, or figure out one scene in totality and figure out how to split them up?

12.30.12 (Masthay)

These print sets typically start out with the larger composition, feeling out the flow throughout all four prints and how they will work as a set. Once that is laid out, the true challenge is developing the composition within each pane so that they can each stand on their own as an individual work of art but also as a part of the whole. There’s give and take throughout the entire process and I go through A LOT of erasers. If you ever get the opportunity to check out any of my original sketches in person, you will see evidence of this process. I see the sketches as a living, breathing entity, constantly changing and growing throughout the creation process. I try one thing, feel it out, and if it works, great, if it doesn’t feel quite right, erase and try again. Many artists use thumbnail sketches or preliminary sketches to work these things out before touching the final piece. Personally, I love the rawness of doing things on the spot, my own personal version of free form jamming I guess, but in a visual context as opposed to audio.

I love how you’ve integrated the show info as tiny details to the print that fit right into the Grand Central motif. How concerned are you in allowing that info (date/locale) to be seen clearly or do you just make sure it’s on there somewhere?

How I handle the text is determined on a print by print basis. Obviously on commissioned work for bands the text needs to be front and center, so sometimes its nice to treat these unofficial pieces more like art prints, almost downplaying the date and venue information. Yes, it’s in there, but it’s not the defining factor of the image nor does it need to be understood to be appreciated.

What’s going on in the NYE print? Is the clock electrocuting the eels or vice versa? Or is that up to the eye of the beholder?

12.31.12 (Masthay)

I love telling stories in my images, but what I don’t do is completely lay out the narrative. I leave that up to the viewer, allowing them to connect to the piece and develop that narrative for themselves. What one person sees could be a completely different story from the person standing next to him, I love that. Is the clock electrocuting the eel or vice versa? I’ll let you decide, but what I really wanted to capture is the energy that is December 31, 2012.

How can people get a hold of this year’s prints? Will they be for sale soon?

Prints will be available for purchase this Friday November 16 at 12 noon EST on MasthayStudios.com. In keeping with Masthay Studios New Year’s Run tradition, I will be documenting the entire process of creating the editions, but this year it’ll all be through Facebook and Twitter with separate content on each. You can look forward to lots and lots of photos of the creation process along with some commentary from yours truly. This is a unique opportunity to actually see your prints being made, if you haven’t done so already, be sure to “Like” Masthay Studios on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

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Jams of the Day: 

Memories from MSG 2011.

Carini -> Tweezer” 12.28.11 II, MSG

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Piper” 12.30.11 II, MSG

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Election Music

Posted in Uncategorized with the tags , , on November 5th, 2012 by Mr.Miner

One Nation Under a Groove (Thepin Stash)

Not to trivialize today’s important election, but if you’re a fan of great Phish, there is really only one choice. Just look at recent history. Bill Clinton took office in 1993, the beginning the band’s first peak era. Clinton served two terms through 2000, watching over’s Phish’s glory years, and at the end of his term, Phish called it quits for the first time. George W. Bush, arguably the biggest buffoon to ever sit in the Oval Office, was sworn in at the beginning of 2001 and served two terms during which the band managed to crank out merely 1 and 1/2 years of opiate-laced jamming in ’03 and ’04. Enter Barack Obama in 2009. Less than two months after the Democratic victor was inaugurated, Phish came back at Hampton Coliseum and entered the Golden Age of their career, playing their tails off for the last four years. So here we are at the political crossroads of 2012. Under a Democratic White House, we experienced ’93, ’94, ’95, ’96, ’97, ’98, ’99, 2000, ’09, ’10, ’11, and ’12. Under a Republican watch, the band came into their own during the late ’80s and early ’90s, and graced us with ’03 and half of ’04. Those are the facts—and the choice is yours. Vote wisely, my friends!

On Election Day 2012, I bring you three choice cuts from each of the past four years. And here’s to four more years of Democratic Phish!

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Bathtub Gin” 8.7.09 II, Gorge

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46 Days” 8.15.09 II, Merriweather

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Back on the Train” 12.30.09 II, Miami

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Simple” 8.6.10 II, Greek Theatre

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Reba” 10.19.10 E, Augusta, ME

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Ghost” 12.31.10 II, MSG

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Down With Disease” 6.3.11 II, Clarkston, MI

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Rock and Roll -> Meatstick” 8.5.11 II, Gorge

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Tweezer” 9.3.11 II, Denver, CO

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Twist” 6.22.12 II, Cincy

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Undermind” 8.31.12 II, Denver, CO

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Light” 9.1.12 II, Denver, CO

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…With Liberty and Justice For All (Seeyoutheredesigns)

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Miner’s Mailbag V

Posted in Uncategorized with the tags , on November 2nd, 2012 by Mr.Miner

6.25.10 Camden, NJ (Graham Lucas)

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@EdCochran18: Can you address the cultures of different venues?

This is one of the weirdest factors of going on tour—by far. Because you are (usually) in a different state every night, the first thing that comes into play are state laws. Last summer, for example, when tour jumped from California into the south and then back to Colorado, the culture was like day and night. Weed and other drugs are seen so differently from state to state in the US, its hard to believe we are still in the same country sometimes, (see OKC.) Thus the first thing to verse yourself on is the laws of where you are and how seriously they have it out for hippies. But then the venues, themselves, can be extremely laid back or tight. For example, at Bill Graham Civic the ushers patrolled to make sure you were smoking weed and not cigarettes (this is a fact), while at Merriweather, there are teen-aged girls, backed by an urban security SWAT team, making sure your feet don’t cross painted lines on the aisles in the pavilion, less they kick you onto the lawn (also a fact.) Sometimes security takes themselves way to seriously (Jones Beach) while others they encourage you to have fun (Hampton.) It’s pretty crazy to bounce from venue to venue and have to adjust to a new set of norms on a nightly basis when all you’re trying to do is dance and feel good, but—alas—that’s why Jedi training is a huge asset on Phish tour.

Chillest Venues: The Gorge, Hampton, Dick’s 

Tightest Venues: Merriweather Post, Jones Beach, Virginia Beach

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@Teddier: Five years into the future-what are Phish doing to keep their interest fresh and will their music change much by then?

Five years! Wow. Phish has only played four years in this era and we are jumping five more ahead. I’ll be completely honest and say that Phish 2017 may or may not exist. While I certainly hope so, five more years is a long time for these guys to keep going. For some reason, I don’t see Phish following the Grateful Dead model of play until you drop. I suppose nothing stands in their way of playing five years and beyond except a desire to move on. If they are still playing in five years, I sure hope the band has a couple more albums under their belt and we are hearing a hell of a lot of new material! Improvisationally, however, the sky is the limit. As long as these four guys are committed to each other, I am confident they will crank out high quality jams. Any stylistic conjecture would be sheer speculation of which I wouldn’t even know where to start. If Phish has one thing going for them, their fans will never lose interest no matter what they do. Tour wise, let me take a wild guess—maybe summer tour and a new years run?

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@Matthewgerber79: Do you ever see Mikes Song or YEM ever returning to their former improv glory, or has that ship sailed along with Halley’s?

Interestingly, all it takes is Trey’s will and either of these songs can snap back into form on any given night. But for whatever reason, I don’t see it happening. “YEM” doesn’t feel like as huge of a loss as “Mike’s,” which has gone from a top three jam vehicle for the second half of the ‘90s to a recycled guitar build. But at least “Mike’s” is over in eight minutes these days, while “YEM” still has nearly ten minutes of composition and five minutes of a vocal jam, leaving the song with negligible payoff on any given night. Everyone has been focusing on the rarity of “YEM” over the past two years as if it’s a bad thing, but if the band is only gonna step into four minutes of generic funk, my preference is to leave it on the shelf. There’s no need to kill so much of a set with the theatrics that are “YEM.” It’s unquestionably one of Phish’s greatest songs, but they’ve played it so much over their career, it seems like they no longer know how to make it interesting.

 @henryilnicky: top 5 bliss, groove, shred, space/weird jams #nextaskminer

Here are some personal favorites in no particular order and without racking my brain:

Bliss:

“My Left Toe” 7.21.99, Star Lake

“Reba” 7.6.94, Montreal

“Harry Hood” 12.28.10, Worcester

“Bathtub Gin” 8.17.97, Great Went

“Bathtub Gin” 9.12.99, Portland Meadows

Groove:

“Sand > Quadraphonic Toppling” 12.31.99, Big Cypress

“Ghost” 5.22.00, Radio City

“Bathtub Gin” 7.29.98, Riverport

“Roses Are Free” 4.3.98, Nassau

“Mike’s Song” 12.31.95, MSG

 Shred:

“Tweezer” 12.2.95, New Haven, CT

“Piper” 7.18.99, Oswego

“Antelope” 10.24.95, Madison, WI

“Drowned > Rock and Roll” 6.29.2000, PNC

“Antelope” 12.9.94, La Mesa, AZ

Space/Weird:

“Drowned” 9.14.00, Darien Lake

“Wolfman’s Brother” 10.31.98, Vegas

“David Bowie” 12.29.94, Providence

“Disease > Free” 6.26.95, SPAC

“Reba > Walk Away” 10.29.98, Los Angeles

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