Exploring the Edge

Posted in Uncategorized with the on December 31st, 2012 by Mr.Miner

12.28.12 (Graham Lucas)

One night after focusing exclusively on songs, Phish came out on the 30th and threw down the gauntlet with 40-plus minutes of the darkest, most abstract, menacing music they have played in this era. Starting with a long-form “Down With Disease” and featuring a centerpiece “Carini” that immediately vaulted into the upper echelon of all-time jams, the meat of last night’s second set was some of the most patient, potent and exploratory improvisation we have heard from the band in ages. Methodically sculpting mind-expanding soundscapes, the guys showcased larger-than-life music ripped from my wildest fantasies. Stellar versions of “Slave” and “Harry Hood” resolved a second set that sent everybody to the exits with overwhelming satisfaction having bore witness the musical sorcery we quest for night after night.

12.30 Official (J. Flames)

After experiencing the colossal sequence of “Disease” > “Twenty Years Later” > “Carini,” one had the innate knowledge that something special had happened in Madison Square Garden. The band had delved deeply into the dark side of the universe they have rarely visited in this era, and done it with overwhelming success. The musical Siths showcased spellbinding control of the room while taking their audience on a thrilling ride through supernatural netherworlds. When all was said and done, and the band moved into “Number Line,” it was as if they had released the crowd from an eerie hypnosis, bringing us back to the reality that we were attending a paid concert on earth rather than an alien ritual on the fringes on the galaxy. Such is the almighty power of the Phish.

When “Disease” led off the second set, everyone knew a musical journey was in store, but nobody could have predicted just how far out the band would travel. Exiting song structure into a minimalist and melodic exchange, the guys’ poise was immediately evident, and as when they migrated into a slow and murky groove, their intent to push musical boundaries became abundantly clear. As the band smoothly moved into the occult, Trey guided them with an uncompressed tone and ferocious intent, bringing the music into an eerie milieu in which it would stay for quite some time. As they progressed from one section of the jam to the next, the music only became deeper and more expansive, finally pushing into a space-laden realm when one might have guessed they were winding down. Phish crafted complex, layered textures that enhanced the music’s mystical feel, and as they took a turn for the home stretch, Mike’s laser-like, envelope filtered leads brought the jam into a sinful groove, evoking the feeling of an extraterrestrial death march. Dripping into “Twenty Years Later,” Phish landed on a song that congruently fit the sinister vibe of the moment, and when they soon revved up “Carini,” things wouldn’t get any lighter.

12.28.12 (G.Lucas)

What happened next was nothing short of transcendent perfection. Words cannot approximate the staggering soundscapes that Phish birthed from “Carini” last night. On the 15-year anniversary of its US debut in the same building, the band produced a jam fans will be listening to for eternity. Descending from a ferociously imposing groove into music so eccentric, abstract, and eerily profound that it would floor the most psychedelic juggernauts in the history of improvisational music, Phish exhibited pure creation on the richest, darkest, and most abstract level. This jam was something else all together, fusing sounds that spanned the tribal to the futuristic—a pioneering vision of the scope of the human psyche. Any attempt at a more comprehensive description of this music would do no service, as it could not come within light years of its cutting-edge innovation. Just grab some headphones and bask in the sound, because this was the absolute business.

Following their Odyssean three-song voyage that comprised most of the second set, Phish passed through a couple of rocking selections in “Number Line” and “Julius” to ground the audience before closing things out with one of the most passionate versions of  “Slave to the Traffic Light” we have heard in recent years. Filled with elegant guitar licks of glory, this uplifting piece served as divine deliverance from mysterious lands far, far away.

12.28.12 (G.Lucas)

Though this set certainly earned the band a token encore, instead, they came out and played one of the best versions of “Harry Hood” we have heard in this era. Lively and dynamic, Trey led the band through a rendition of their seminal classic that popped from note one and peaked with a purpose—the way “Hood” is meant to be played. The level of communication on display throughout the night spilled right over to the encore as the band backed up the set closing “Slave” with the most exquisite exclamation point in their catalog. A “Show of Life” denouement closed the books on one of the finest nights of Phish in 2012, and as the band bowed and looked out at the audience, who returned their gaze with admiration and awe, they saw that it was good. It was very, very good.

1st set notes: A tight, well-played first set featured a quality song selection, boasting some semi-rarities in “Ya Mar,” “Horn,” and “My Friend, My Friend,” as well as a bustout of “Ride Captain Ride.” But regardless of what happened in the first set, the story of the show unfolded after intermission.

I: Runaway Jim, Cities, Divided Sky, Back on the Train, Ride Captain Ride, Ocelot, Ya Mar, Horn, My Friend, My Friend > Run Like an Antelope

II: Down with Disease > Twenty Years Later > Carini > Backwards Down the Number Line, Julius, Slave to the Traffic Light

E: Harry Hood > Show of Life

12.28.2012, MSG (Graham Lucas)

A Sterile Saturday Night

Posted in Uncategorized with the tags , on December 30th, 2012 by Mr.Miner

12.28.12 (Graham Lucas)

Shows like Saturday night’s at Madison Square Garden leave me scratching my head, wondering what, exactly, the band was intending to do. Following an opening night that laid the groundwork for a stellar run, the guys came out on one of the holiest days of the Phish calendar, 12/29, and barely attempted a lick of open improv. Following Denver’s revelation and a monumental “Tweezer” on the 28th, one had to expect at least a chunk of musical risk-taking on night two. But with one sonic body blow after another, they guys made it a point try absolutely nothing. There is no doubt that they played their songs quite well, and nobody can take that away from them, though we expect Phish to play their songs proficiently at this stage of the game. However, if we are calibrating shows by their level of cerebral engagement—music that enraptures one’s wildest imagination—12/29 was the least impressive of the year by leaps and bounds.

12.29.12 Official (J. Flames)

Before going any further, let me state—once again—that I go to Phish shows to see them jam; to witness the band weave musical memories in real time. If I wanted to listen to Phish songs, I could throw one of many CDs to happily meet that desire. But shows are supposed to be something more. Phish shows are the times when we have the privilege to be awed by the superhuman powers of the most magical musicians on earth. But there was nothing magical about last night at all. With little rhyme or reason, the guys sculpted a piecemeal setlist that possessed no direction or vigor whatsoever. I would love to write about the improvisational highlights of the show but there were none. Zero. Zilch. A few minutes of bland, quasi-connected, atmospheric funk out of “Golden Age” represented the band’s only attempt at any sort of jamming. Even songs like “Rock and Roll,” “Reba,” “Bathtub Gin” and “Waves” that almost always feature exciting improv were delivered in straight forward and unspectacular fashion. There were plenty of high-energy moments—specifically “Suzy Greenberg” and “46 Days”—but those are meant to be the supporting cast, not the lead actors.

The concern that now comes into play for this Holiday Run is whether the 28th will wind up as the best show of the run, just as it was a year ago. It felt like Dick’s provided a pivot point in the development of modern Phish. It seemed that the guys had their hearts rededicated to sophisticated musical experimentation, and that the “hit or miss” aspect that has annoyingly pervaded 3.0 was a thing of the past. But after last night’s song-based snoozefest, that all seems like wishful thinking. Perhaps the 29th was just a bump in the road, but by anyone’s standards, it felt virtually inconceivable that the band would pull out such a performance on Saturday night at the Garden. But they did. And there is nothing to do but smile, put it behind us, and comeback on the 30th for a massive bounce back night of improvisation.

I: Crowd Control, Mound, AC/DC Bag, Rock and Roll, Sugar Shack, Reba, Halley’s Comet > Limb By Limb*, Wading in the Velvet Sea, Bathtub Gin**

II: Golden Age > Waves > Prince Caspian*** > Boogie On Reggae Woman, Suzy Greenberg, Bug, Cavern, 46 Days

E: The Squirming Coil, Grind, First Tube

*Follow the Yellow Brick Road tease
**”Susie Q” quote from Fishman

12.28.12 (Graham Lucas)

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Opening the Freezer

Posted in Uncategorized with the tags , , on December 29th, 2012 by Mr.Miner

12.28.12, MSG (Graham Lucas)

On the first night of their highly anticipated 2012 New Year’s Run, Phish stepped onto the Garden’s stage and stunned their audience with an era-defining rendition of “Tweezer,” invoking the improvisational spirit we witnessed in Denver just months ago. Showing no signs of rust from their extensive off-season, the guys backed up the night’s monstrous centerpiece with highlights of “Wolfman’s Brother” and “David Bowie,” not to mention rock solid play throughout the show. Watching the band play with such polish and confidence on the first night of the run brought unbridled enthusiasm not only for the music that went down, but for the limitless possibilities that the next three nights now contain.

Official 12.28 Print (J.Flames)

Following a straightforward opening set, less a stellar “Wolfman’s” closer, Phish could hold back no more and tore open the universe at the start of the second with a free-form, to-die-for “Tweezer” that needs to be heard to be believed. The band connected the many movements of this masterpiece with a criminal smoothness, resulting in an ego-less and sophisticated musical adventure that is beginning to define the new contour of Phish jams. Harnessing the egalitarian improvisational gusto unveiled in the Rockies over Labor Day weekend, Phish played a jam in which nobody dominated while different members stepped up to lead throughout. Courageous, utterly refined, and woven with meticulous precision, this “Tweezer” proved that the music of Denver was no mile-high fluke, but a legitimate turning point in the course of the band’s modern chapter. Trey’s playing, a topic deserving of its own paragraph, was defined by both confidence and cooperation, leading when he saw fit and stepping back just as effectively in other parts of the jam. Moving from a soaring beginning to a bass-led, bliss-laden middle, onto an more minimalist, melodic section before finishing in a profound sonic convergence, this fully-realized jam brought a bit of everything into the mix, vividly illustrating why we go to such lengths to see Phish perform. Astounding in every sense of the word, “Tweezer” was the stuff of musical reverie and provides a gem of 2012 that can only be rivaled by Dick’s “Light.” And if this happened on night one of the run, there is unquestionably more to come. Wow!

12.28.12 (G.Lucas)

Though this spine-tingling exploration stole the show, there are other points of note as well, first and foremost, the guitar showcase of one Trey Anastasio. Shining bright all night long, Trey played masterfully in all milieus without ever dominating jams. Assertive yet deferring at the perfect times, Trey’s leadership stood out around every corner in both sets. With scorching solos in “Maze” and “Theme,” carefully integrated offerings in “Stash” and “Twist,” dirty, rhythmic swank in “Wolfman’s,” and minimalist guidance in “Bowie,” Trey’s discerning aesthetic was a huge takeaway from the first night at MSG. Armed with a seemingly limitless arsenal of evolved techniques, he was up to any task last night, and something tells me the next three nights won’t be any different. It has been a long journey for Trey to reach this point of proficiency in the modern era, but he has truly arrived once again.

Improvisationally speaking, “Wolfman’s” and “Bowie” provided the other high points of the night. Using the former as a first set closer, the guys took “Wolfman’s” in a more original direction than they have in recent memory. Splashing into atypical funk textures, they passed through “stop-and-go-ish” type jamming before moving further away from structure and into a seductive exchange in which Trey infused the progression of “Little Drummer Boy.” The whole band immediately picked up on the holiday spirit, as they integrated the song into the jam without ever losing the groove. Then, on a dime, they melted right back into the funk. But instead of jumping to the song’s ending, they guys infused a blues build into the jam that creatively returned them to “Wolfman’s.” Taking a bow and moving into setbreak, this piece got their creative juices flowing after a high-energy opening frame—and you know what happened next.

12.28.12 (Graham Lucas)

Closing the second set, “David Bowie” provided the other musical high point of the show. The band united in a gritty conversation that built in intensity throughout, giving the audience a glimpse into the song’s ethos. A sinister tone pervaded the jam and the intricate exchange never lost momentum, as Phish stamped a strong conclusion on the night with a revitalized version of a song that has lost its way in recent years. In between “Tweezer” and “Bowie,” the guys sandwiched some intense jamming with “Maze” and “Twist,” but neither moved outside of the box.

If the band had just played “Tweezer” and walked off stage, it would have been plenty to satiate much of the Garden’s crowd last night. But supporting the monumental jam with high-energy selections and two bounce back jams in a couple of classic vehicles, Phish delivered a very strong opening course to their four night extravaganza. And as we look forward to nights two, three and four, the questions are out the window and only excitement remains.

I: Stealing Time From the Faulty Plan, The Moma Dance, Funky Bitch, Army of One, Tube, Stash, Nellie Kane, Kill Devil Falls, Free, Wolfman’s Brother -> The Little Drummer Boy -> Wolfman’s

II: Tweezer -> Maze, Twist* > Theme From the Bottom, Fluffhead, David Bowie

E: Bouncing Around the Room, Good Times Bad Times

*Little Drummer Boy teases and quotes

12.28.12, MSG (G.Lucas)

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TTFW: More December Music

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

8.24.2012 – Oak Mountain (Ryan MacNeil)


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

This white-hot sequence is capped off by an infectious “YEM” jam that is based on Alice Cooper’s “I’m 18.”



Down With Disease” 12.11.97 II, Rochester, NY

A classic jam from a monster show.



Tweezer” 12.2.95 II, New Haven, CT

An elite “Tweezer” drenched in the full-on Fall ’95 style. There’s no funk in this one.



Drowned > Caspian” 12.12.99 II, Hatford, CT

A dark horse jam from December ’99 that is quite spectacular.



The Curtain > David Bowie” 12.11.95 II, Portland, ME

This combo kicked off set two of 1995’s Cumberland County show.



Free” 12.15.99 II, Washington, DC

Trey’s use of his mini-keyboard sets this jam off.



Reba” 12.7.95 II, Niagara Falls, NY

A stellar version from a stellar set.



Sand” 12.16.99 II, Raleigh, NC

Another example of how Trey’s keyboard enhanced so many Winter ’99 jams.



Halley’s Comet” 12.7.99 I, Portland, ME

One of the greatest “Halley’s” jams of all time, now in SBD thanks to Kevin Shapiro!



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

A ferocious December ’95 “Mike’s Groove.”




Late-Night Shows @ Mercury Lounge

Instead of seeing the same late-night acts that permeate the jam scene, check out some local, New York City psych-rock bands after Phish is done on the 29th and 30th! Here is some more information from Sam Davis of Dog Gone Blog:

We at Dog Gone Blog are very excited to bring you the lineup for our upcoming run of late night shows leading up to NEW YEAR’S EVE!

Following last year’s soiree with Superhuman Happiness and special guest Colin Stetson (Bon Iver, Arcade Fire), due to popular demand, the Brooklyn ensemble will once again grace us with their presence on December 30. This year we’re also psyched to be hosting a second show on the 29th with Real Estate bassist Alex Bleeker and his band of Freaks along with rising Brooklyn psych-rock outfit Prince Ruperts Drops.

Both shows are taking place at Mercury Lounge on New York’s Lower East Side (217 East Houston St) and will have liquid light shows provided by Planetary Projections. Posters designed by the amazing Justin Gabbard will also be available for purchase. Stay tuned to Dog Gone Blog to hear about special guests and other announcements in the coming weeks.

Come join us and celebrate the great year that was 2012 while catching some of New York’s best local acts in one of our favorite venues! Tickets are only $10!

Ticket Links: 12/30 Superhuman Happiness, Alex Bleeker and the Freaks

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TTFF: December Monsters

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

The Twelfth Month

Drowned > Roses” 12.11.97 II, Rochester, NY



Disease > Lizards” 12.12.95 II, Providence, RI



Limb by Limb” 12.3.99 II, Cincinnati, OH



Sally > Ghost > 2001” 12.11.99 II, Philadelphia, PA



Tweezer” 12.16.99 II, Raleigh, NC



Simple > Timber” 12.9.97 II, State College, PA



Harry Hood” 12.5.95 II, Amherst, MA



Split Open and Melt” 12.7.95 II, Niagara Falls, NY



You Enjoy Myself” 12.9.95 II, Albany, NY



Run Like an Antelope” 12.9.94 I, Mesa, AZ

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Ten Holiday Run Wishes

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

12.30.10, MSG (Graham Lucas)

1. “Waves”: This majestic song debuted at MSG on 12/31/02 and hasn’t returned to the The Garden since. Given that we’ve only heard one version this year (Deer Creek) and it was magnificent, I’m pulling for a big time “Waves” over the Holiday Run.

2. The “Tweezer” of the Year: Though there were many quality “Tweezers” this year, especially on the second leg of summer, Phish has yet to throw down a colossal 2012 version. Here’s hoping we get a mega-“Tweezer” filled with the funkified urban grit of New York City.

3. Unexpected Jams: We all know the band will jam “Rock and Roll,” “Disease,” “Light,” and “Piper,” and I can’t wait for each. But I also wish to be blindsided by one or two jams from unexpected vehicles a la Worcester’s “Roses” or Atlantic City’s “Birds.” The songs that these jams stem from are irrelevant, it’s all about the element of surprise.

4. New Material: Just yesterday Mike posted a picture of himself playing bass in The Barn. What if, in addition to routine practice, the band was polishing off a couple new songs? It’s high time for some fresh setlist material, and though it’s doubtful we’ll see any during a year-end run, a kid can dream, right?

5. A Fully Realized “Twist”: After working this jam during Leg One, including one of the standout excursions of 2012 in Cincy’s “Twist,” the band shied away from exploring the song during Leg Two. Carrying such profound improvisational potential, it would be a shame to see another standard version of “Twist” over the Holiday Run.

6. Smooth Segues: This year featured a host of silky segues, from “Sand -> Nellie Kane” to “Light -> Sally” and “Lighteca” to Sand -> Ghost.” Hopefully the guys will take their time between songs and merge some with stunning fluidity—an element that always ups the ante of any song pairing.

7. A Jammed Out “Crosseyed”: Phish has featured this Talking Heads cover as part of their rotation for the duration of this era, but seldom have they used it as a jam vehicle. The band has been more inclined to springboard into high-energy rock and roll from “Crosseyed” than into any sort of adventure. Bill Graham’s version, however, reminded us of the profound depths the guys can plunge with this song, and hopefully over the Holiday Run we see another such rendition.

8. A “David Bowie” With Teeth: It would be great to see a revitalized version of this once-prolific jam that has turned rather stale in the 3.0 era. Chances of this, however, feel like they are slim to none.

9. “Wolfman’s” or “Bathtub Gin” In Set Two: Both of these songs have turned into tame, unidirectional first-set jams. I hope to see the band place one or both of these under the spotlight during the main event, as each song has been begging for some love for quite a while now.

10. Passion: Whatever happens at MSG and whatever songs are played, let’s hope the band comes with a serious intent to blow the room apart. Madison Square Garden is a venue of great legend in Phish history, though the band hasn’t treated the round room to a full-on musical assault in this era. Let’s hope this run contains that elusive MSG show we’ve been dreaming about since the band’s ’09 return.


Jam of the Day:

Mike’s Song” 12.31.95 II

Speaking of full-on musical assaults…



Cover (AJ Masthay)


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Red Phish? Blue Phish?

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

12.31.10, MSG (George Estreich)

With Labor Day weekend in the distant past and the Holiday Run only two weeks away, the question that now descends on the Phish community is “What band will show up at MSG?” Last year was the first modern New Year’s Run without a Fall Tour behind it, and the guys played the most uninspired batch of shows in memory. It is hard to imagine Phish repeating 2011’s debacle, but as Trey has recently busied himself with TAB and his Broadway musical, “Hands On a Hardbody,” it’s impossible to predict how much preparation will go into this run and what will result.

One might cite Dick’s phenomenal playing as a sure signpost to December greatness, but that was the same feeling we all had last year. Following a stellar three nights in Colorado—and a whole lot of time off —Phish arrived at MSG and went through the motions for most of 2011’s year-end extravaganza. Aside from 12/28’s “Carini > Tweezer” and 12/30’s “Piper,” the band produced nothing of lasting value over four nights last year. Could it happen again in 2012? I shudder at the thought. With the community coming to the Big Apple from all corners of the nation and beyond, one has to believe the band won’t disappoint again. Right? On the heels of their most impressive year of playing in the 3.0 era, Phish should rightfully come to New York with intent to punctuate 2012 in fashion.

MSG 2012 Unofficial (Branden Otto)

In 2009 and 2010, the band played a fall tour which didn’t leave them with such a massive chunk of downtime before the end of December. Subsequently, both of those runs has plenty of lasting highlights and even a some whole shows that were up to snuff. The 29th, 30th, and arguably the 31st of 2009, and the 31st, January 1st of 2010’s, and arguably the 30th, all held up as complete shows. But only the 28th of 2011 could hold a candle to any of them. Without practice and with no fire whatsoever, the band stumbled through the final three nights of ’11 with, virtually, zero risk-taking. This wasn’t the Phish we knew in any era of their career; this was a bunch of guys getting paid without trying much of anything.

It would be not like our musical superheroes of botch two Holiday New Year’s Runs in a row, and if I were placing a wager, I definitely wouldn’t bet against them. I’ve got to imagine that they know last year’s MSG run profoundly sucked and they will be back to prove a point this time around. It may simply come down to putting in some time in the practice room. Rumor was that they skipped any preparation last year and the results were glaring. Thus, I doubt they will repeat that folly. As Phish steps onto the nation’s biggest stage on the most celebrated nights of the year to usher in 2013, the year of their much ballyhooed 30th Anniversary, one has to think that the guys will mean business. But any speculation won’t give us the answer. As Bob Marley once sang, “Time alone – oh, time will tell.”


Jam of the Day:

Carini > Wolfman’s” 12.28.98 II

A MSG gem that is begging for the LivePhish treatment.


Reinvented, Redefined

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

Don’t want to be a painter ’cause everyone comes to look


If you’ve been following Phish circles on social media lately, perhaps you’ve taken notice of some cool images that have been making the rounds. Photographer and Phish fan, Andrea Nusinov, recently started AZN Media, a company specializing in social media advertising that is driven by the philosophy that a unique, artistic image will generate more attention and response than conventional photography. Her Phish-based images have been making a wave in the community with innovative takes on her own concert photos. Using the lastet photoapps, Andrea has enhanced her photographs to create the thought provoking and visually engaging imagery that I share with you today.

If you like what you see, be sure to follow AZN Media on Instagram and Facebook! In addition, Andrea hosts a Facebook page for her Phish images and you can follow her, personally, on Twitter. Enjoy! (All photography and enhancement by Andrea Nusinov. Click images to enlarge. Above: 12/29/09, Miami)


The Webcast Effect (6/25/10, Camden)


See my face in the town that’s flashing by (6/19/12, Portsmouth)


The Helping Friendly Book, first edition (6/19/12, Portsmouth)


It takes a few moments of whirling around (6/12/11, MPP)


Slip into the dark of night as I attempt to stay upright (12/31/11, MSG)


Trapped In Time (6/15/10, made entirely from pics of earlier shows)


We wandered ’til we reached a bubbly spring (12/30/11, MSG)


Time is a treasure here cuz it flows in every direction (10/24/12, TAB)







Jam of the Day:

Moma Dance” 2.26.03 II, Worcester, MA

Today’s selection is hand-picked by Andrea, herself.



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