TTFF: Dreaming of Summer

Posted in Uncategorized with the tags , on March 13th, 2014 by Mr.Miner
7.22.13, Toronto (Jake Silco)

7.22.13, Toronto (Jake Silco)

Mike’s -> Simple” Clifford Ball 8.16.96 II

A historic chunk of Summertime Phish.

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Reba” 8.2.03 Limestone, ME

A daytime, post-hiatus gem.

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Sneakin’ Sally” 8.8.98 Columbia, MD

Quintessential Summer ’98 grooves here.

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Disease -> Free” 6.26.95 I, SPAC, NY

Simply put, one of Phish most superbly executed  psychedelic odysseys.

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Chalk Dust Torture” 8.31.12 II, Commerce City, CO

Some of Trey’s most blissful and cathartic playing of Summer ’12.

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Light” SPAC, NY 7.5.13 II

This dense, virtuosic conversation kicked off Summer ’13 in earnest and is now my go-to version of the song.

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Crosseyed and Painless” 7.10.13, Holmdel, NJ 

This jam has so much staying power—truly an all-timer.

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Harry Hood” 7.22.97 II, Raleigh, NC

After an intense, power-packed set of Phish, the band encored with this sublime “Harry Hood.”

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Rock and Roll -> Meatstick” 8.5.11, George, WA

A jam—especially in context—that caused ripples throughout the modern Phish universe.

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Ghost” 8.15.98 II, Limestone, ME

The essential nugget of late-Summer ’98 Phish foreshadowed the shift to ambient jamming come the fall. This relatively under-the-radar “Ghost” sneaks into my personal top five.

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Summer Dates Cometh

Posted in Uncategorized with the tags , on March 11th, 2014 by Mr.Miner
Bader Field 2012 (Andrea Nusinov)

Bader Field 2012 (Andrea Nusinov)

Here we go again! Yesterday, Phish dropped their next slate of dates—Summer 2014—and it doesn’t look very similar to recent summer dockets. Spending all but one weekend on the east coast, the band will pepper the Northeast and Southeast with 18 of 22 shows before breaking until the end of August for their annual Dick’s run in the Rockies. Holding true to rumors, the band declared, in fine print beneath their You Tube video, that “no additional east coast dates will be announced this summer or fall.” This confirmation leaves the door wide open for the all-west coast Fall tour that is supposedly in the works. The final piece of buzz from yesterday’s drop came once someone had translated the Chinese announcement video. The man holds up a piece of paper detailing a mission in Chinese, which closes with a reference to James Michner’s, historical fiction novel “Hawaii.” Fans hopped on this nugget right away, speculating that the band may be finally plotting the Hawaii holiday run was rumored in ’99. Regardless of the relevance of this off-coast finale, there is no doubt that winter changed to spring in the Phish universe yesterday, as fans can now look past Jazzfest to Summer Tour 2014!

7.14.13 (A.Nusinov)

7.14.13 (A.Nusinov)

The tour starts out in familiar northeast environs, kicking off at Great Woods before the band codifies the modern tradition of July 4th weekend at SPAC with another three-night stand. The staple Northeast venues, however, end there as Phish will the next five shows in venues that many fans have never stepped foot in—or at least not for a while. The band hasn’t played the Mann Music Center in Philadelphia’s Fairmont Park since their memorable two-night stand in 1995. These will be the band’s fourth and fifth shows at a venue that has become synonymous with the masterful “David Bowie” performed there on July 24th of ’95.

The highlight of the Northeastern portion of tour looks to be the three-night run at Randall’s Island in New York City. With a capacity of 35-40,000 and an all-GA policy, this will be the festival-like scene for the summer. Couple this three-day festi environment with the city’s nightlife, and you’ve got yourself one hell of a destination weekend. It seems that these pre-fab festival settings are more and more the way that Phish is going these days. Venues like Bader Field or Randall’s Island can hold the same amount of people that attended Indio and Super Ball, and without the massive work and overhead that goes into the classic Phish festival. While the results are not quite the utopias of Plattsburgh and Limestone, it sure is hard to argue with the logic.

MPP '13 (A.Nusinov)

MPP ’13 (A.Nusinov)

After a single show in Canandaigua, site of the infamous “Fleezer” of 6/22/95, the only summer dates off the eastern seaboard will take place at DTE Amphitheatre in Clarkston, Michigan, and a three-night return to Northerly Island in Chicago. Phish played a stellar show in their only visit to DTE’s spacious shed in 2011, and I, for one, am anticipating their return. Were it not for the inclement weather last year, I actually loved Northerly Island in Chicago, but fans on the lawn didn’t necessarily agree. Hopefully improvements have been made to this makeshift venue and the weather will cooperate this time around, as Phish always seems to save the goods for the Windy City.

Following four days off, Phish will conclude their summer tour with a hearty, seven-show run through the Southeast, and you can be sure they’ll be firing on all cylinders at this point. A one-off performance at Charlotte’s former Verizon Wireless, always the site of great Phish, will kick off this run before the band heads north for two nights at everyone’s favorite venue, Merriweather Post (sarcasm font employed). Tour will then criss-cross back south, stopping at Portsmouth’s intimate nTelos Pavilion for two nights en route to two shows in Alabama! Not only stopping at Oak Mountain, the band will head further south to the gulf coast and perform in Orange Beach. I’ve already been told by a resident of the area (@FairhopeBrewer on Twitter), that the community down there likes to think that they live “south of Alabama” and the area contains a wholly different vibe that the rest of the state. So we’ve got that going for us, which is nice. Tour will then close with a random single show in Alpharetta, a venue where Phish has only ever played two-night stands.

7.14.13 (A.Nusinov)

7.14.13 (A.Nusinov)

Needless to say, this isn’t your father’s summer tour. Absent are such classic haunts as PNC, Deer Creek, Alpine Valley, Star Lake, Blossom and the like, while some new and old stops have taken their place. Phish will cap the season with their fourth consecutive Labor Day Stand at Dick’s in Commerce City, the only other true destination weekend of Summer 2014. Though west coast heads may be disgruntled right now, they will likely get the last laugh as a west coast fall tour is the stuff of dreams. Not since 2000 has the band undertaken such a swing, but this year, it seems imminent come October. And as for Hawaii, the plane tickets are far cheaper from out here as well! Hey, one can dream right?

July 1 @ Xfinity Center – Mansfield, MA (Capacity – 19,900)
July 3-5 @ SPAC- Saratoga Springs, NY ( 25,100)
July 8-9 @ Mann Center – Philadelphia, PA (14,000)
July 11-13 @ Randall’s Island – New York, NY (b/w 35- 40,000)
July 15 @ CMAC Performing Arts Center – Canandaigua, NY (15,000)
July 16 @ DTE Energy Music Theatre – Clarkston, MI (15,274)
July 18-20 @ First Merit Pavilion – Chicago, IL (30,600)
July 25 @ PNC Music Pavilion – Charlotte, NC (19,500)
July 26 – 27 @ Merriweather Post Pavilion – Columbia, MD (19,319)
July 29 – 30 @ nTelos Music Pavilion – Portsmouth, VA (6,500)
August 1 @ Amp. at the Wharf – Orange Beach, AL (Approx. 10,000)
August 2 @ Oak Mountain Amphitheatre – Pelham, AL (9,936)
August 3 @ Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre – Alpharetta, GA (12,000)
August 29 – August 31 @ Dick’s – Commerce City, CO (26,000)

(Date list and capacities thanks to Jambase)

MPP '13 (Andrea Nusinov)

MPP ’13 (Andrea Nusinov)

SPAC '13 (Andrea Nusinov)

SPAC ’13 (Andrea Nusinov)

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Built to Last

Posted in Uncategorized with the tags , on March 7th, 2014 by Mr.Miner
MSG '13 (Ken Scelfo)

MSG ’13 (Ken Scelfo)

Phish’s dates are looming. And it’s brought me into contact with a feeling I haven’t had in a very long time—Phish is here to stay. Unlike previous times—when their very presence sometimes felt as fleeting as their live improvisations—the band has reached an anchored and steadfast place. And they seem to be in it for the long haul. The question this begs me, someone who has felt like he has needed to be there every step of the way, is—“Was it for this my life I sought?”

With a medium as ephemeral as live music, you’re either there or you’re not. The tapes tell a limited story of what happens each night, but they are powerless in recreating the overall experience. One never knows in which show Phish will dive off the deep end, making strategizing on what shows to hit a fool’s errand because even the most bullet proof logic often backfires. This is part of the reason so many of us simply removed that equation from our lives and hopped on entire tours. There’s nothing like the comfort of knowing that you’ll be there for every note played. The plotting of getting to and from tour vanishes and you can relax for the ride.

12.28.13 (J.Silco)

12.28.13 (J.Silco)

You see, I came late to the game, with my first show coming in the Summer of 1995, despite growing up in New England and having plenty of occasions to see the band. Only a few months later, in North Charleston in the Fall of 1995, I had an utterly transformative experience with the sublime combination of Phish and pure LSD, and I immediately became addicted to the experience.

Once I became hip to the scene, part of my mental trip became how much Phish I had missed! All of ’92, ’93 and ’94—and I had tickets offered to me in each of those years at least once. The thought that I could have seen New Year’s Run ’93 in New Haven or 10.8.94 in Fairfax, Virginia still stings a little bit. In retrospect, who knows if I’d be here now if I started then, we all have our paths. But with my newfound passion for the band, needless to say, I made it a point to see as many Phish shows as I could.

During 2000, we heard that Fall would be the end, rather a “hiatus” of the music and lifestyle that we all loved so much. It was bittersweet. They played “Let it Be” after the final show. We cried. We mourned. We moved on. Then, without much time passing, the band was back and touring in 2003. Yet, before we could turn our heads, they were gone again. And maybe this time it was forever. Things had gotten unhealthy for them and their lives certainly mattered more than their band. But regardless of circumstance, they pulled the plug quite abruptly and it was a colossal loss to everyone in the community. I still remember crying while staring at the half-assed message Trey posted on their site announcing the end. How could something so special end like this?

MSG '13 (A.Nusinov)

MSG ’13 (A.Nusinov)

I made peace with Coventry and once again moved on. Unlike so many others, I was not sure Phish was going to come back for a second time. I had written it off. I had no other choice. But as soon as I heard the confirmation of their second return, in the Summer of 2008, I felt that burn in my heart again. That feeling that had been all but stored away as something that had happened in my past was now choking me like a frog in my throat. It was all happening. Again. And I simply could not escape the fact that the highs, emotions and level of spiritual connection that I felt at Phish shows had been unmatched in any other life experience. Thus, the draw of Phish tour was too strong to deny, even in this more mature world I was trying to navigate. And—quite honestly—one of the driving forces behind my unending desire to see every single show was the thought that I could wake up any day and Phish could be gone again. The fear was real. This experiment was bumpy and unpredictable the last go-round and addiction is a vindictive enemy. Was the band just coming back to right their wrongs of ’04? To save their legacy? Would they be ghosts in five years?

12.31.13 (A.Nusinov)

12.31.13 (A.Nusinov)

Well, here we are, five years later, and the answer is hell no. In fact, Phish is more stable than they’ve been in well over a decade. Band members have found balance in their individual lives with their families, side projects and a couple Phish tours a year. The health and happiness of the band is well documented, and not since the mid-nineties has Phish enjoyed such a rock solid place. When combining this state with their current proficiency and creativity, in a manner like never before, it feels like the band is in it for the long haul. Their tongue-in-cheek invitation to their 60th reunion was not an empty gesture. There is much more to come from the Phish from Vermont.

And as I get older, I’m realizing that the goal of life may not necessarily be to see the most Phish shows as one possibly can. At some point, one can max out the information they can learn from a single experience. I’m not quite sure that I’ve reached that point, but I may be getting close. And that is ok, because when the day comes to stop seeing every show, I no longer have that existential fear that Phish will vanish into thin air. They’ll be around. And so will I.

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