TTFF: The Dark Side of ’99

Fall '99 (Jay Blakesburg)

Fall ’99 (Jay Blakesburg)

To balance the light, there is there is the dark. And just as the guys were climbing spiritual mountains of ultra-bliss during 1999, another strand of their improvisation was growing more ominous and abstract. Phish’s ambient jamming of Fall ’98 focused primarily on the melodic side of things, with push-and-pull, amoeba-like interplay. In 1999, however, buoyed by the release of “The Siket Disc,” Phish’s abstract jamming—and overall sound—progressed in a much darker direction. The band grew an affinity for sonic layering and dissonant effects, developing what I have called their “millennial” sound. Favoring a drone and hypnotic style of play, Phish moved into their next mini-progression of the late-’90s. Within this context, Trey favored harder-edged guitar work, sheets of sound, and effect-laden soundscapes that veered from his center-stage soloing of years past.

Beginning during Summer Tour while, largely, showing up within single jams, this “millennial” sound became more prevalent and nuanced as Phish moved through their Fall and Winter tours, often dominating the feel of sets and shows all together. Phish music was growing darker in both the downtempo and uptempo realms, a vibe that seemed congruent with the oncoming unknown of 2000 and beyond. As the world crept closer to the turn of the millennium and a potential Y2k disaster, Phish provided an ominous soundtrack to a time filled with shrouded in mystery and speckled with hope.

For today’s playlist, I picked a couple jams from each tour in ’99 so you can hear the progression of the band throughout the year.

Bathtub Gin” 6.30.99 II, Bonner Springs, KS

It had been six full months since we had seen Phish—the longest stretch of down time in Phish’s career up to that point. And the band greeted us with this 20-minute tour-opening “Bathtub Gin” that touched on their darker, ambient sound that would grow throughout the summer.



My Left Toe > Velvet Sea > MLT” 7.7.99 II, Charlotte, NC

This choice ’99 nugget is dedicated to RJ of Helping Friendly Podcast and our own Albert Walker. This clip seemed way too timely to ignore based on yesterday’s Twitter debates.



Piper” 7.18.99 III, Volney, NY

The Oswego “Piper” covers a wide array of ’99-esque feels over a near-half hour, but most of all it is an example of how densely layered and hard-edged their sound had gotten to by the middle of the summer. This would be an example of the developing uptempo millennial jamming, without the pronounced dissonance of late Fall and Winter.



Stash” 9.9.99 I, Vancouver, BC

This “Stash” was the first jam of Fall “99, in the first set of tour. A tale of dark magic, this jam had the venue buzzing at setbreak.



Tweezer” 9.9.99 II, Vancouver, BC

This “Tweezer” moves from candy grooves into a seething section of abstract, millennial psychedelia.



Ghost” 9.12.99 II, Portland, OR

One of my top five “Ghosts,” Portland’s massive version moves through some hypnotic grooves into a section of abstract darkness.



Ghost” 10.9.99 I, Albany, NY

A first-set ambient-laced giant from the Knick.



Sand” 12.3.99 II, Cincinnatti, OH

Having just re-spun this “Sand” yesterday, I was reminded of its quintessentially millennial qualities. A great example of a lot of what I have described.



Drowned” 12.12.99 II, Hartford, CT

A dark horse piece of scalding, uptempo, late-99 jamming.



Jam > Bug” 12.17.99 II, Hampton, VA

Most thought the band was prepping the Mothership for liftoff, but they faked everyone out after a five-minute sound sculpture. This was the soundtrack to the Hampton reunion video..

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291 Responses to “TTFF: The Dark Side of ’99”

  1. Stoney Case Says:

    Telas be careful. Miner not so impressed with that Disease.

  2. bearito Says:

    Keep em coming Miner! Gratzie!

  3. Stoney Case Says:

    He said it’s not exactly “shower material”

  4. tela's_muff Says:

    haha! zing!

    that’s fine, i think it fits his description of the ’99 sound perfectly. it’s like an anti-uptempo jam mixed with a First Tube jam.

  5. Joe Says:

    Party like its 1999 with mr miner. I’m sure the old bastards of the bb were in their prime for these jams.

  6. Stoney Case Says:

    I loved it. Spun for first time probably since the show. DWD>Fast Enough>Ya Mar FTW! Exactly what I listened to

  7. marcoesq Says:

    Morning all. Love the darkness. Could easily add the Auburn Hills 2nd set to this list. The Gin>2001>YEM is full of medevial goodness.

    Was listening to the VA Beach ’99 Fee yesterday and concluded that may actually be the precursor to the Camden Tweezer and all of the ’99 feel goodery.

  8. Phamily Berzerker Says:

    SUmmit County entertainment tonight

    Tomorrow Boulder, Sunday Denver.

    GO see this band CO folks!

  9. ren Says:

    Just want to shout out and thank JerseyJim again for the Orange Sunshine book. Definitely kept me entertained while in Mexico. Seemed like there was more talk about hash smuggling than L but a very interesting read for sure and a glimpse into something I knew little about.

    Didn’t have any trouble scoring some Acapulco Gold while down there. Passed out by 5pm on the 1st night (pool bar) and Mrs Ren went out and scored it on the beach. Good wife she is.

  10. marcoesq Says:

    Respinning this Gin. Didn’t remember it being that dark. Detroit Gin could be its alternate

  11. marcoesq Says:

    Ok its got some meat on it towards the end. Very drone like

  12. BingosBrother Says:

    7/25/99 all of set 1 is the darkness. Saw It Again had Page burning his eyeballs into my soul. Demonic set.

  13. marcoesq Says:

    7.13.99 Wolfman’s>Piper up next. Deranged lunacy for my 18th bday

  14. DryIceFactory Says:

    woof 12/2/99 gin>also>yem…. my favorite “sequence” from December 99, for sure.

    the gin elevates. sets the tone for all the shreddy monster 2000 Gin’s, which by the way, I’m on record for reporting as my favorite year (all-around) for the song.

  15. ren Says:

    Anyone know if there is a way to download a whole show in one shot on or can you only download 1 track at a time?

  16. little umbrellas Says:

    Wassup BB’ers? Hope all is well. Thanks for this playlist Miner. Dark Magus, Black Beauty and this playlist. Boom.

    For any in the Bay we accepted a gig offer and are jumping on an opening slot tonight. A smaller show than our last, it’s @the Bottom of the Hill, but our soul group (Harry & The Hitmen) will debue some new originals.

    Gigging in Santa Cruz tomorrow as part of the Wharf concert series. Then driving to Santa Fe, dropping my lady off at a month long art residency and flying back.

    @any who have tips for a Cali-Santa Fe road trip. Places to get lunch? Camping spots?

  17. little umbrellas Says:

    @AustinTexas BB’ers- King Kahn is playing the Mohawk tonight. !

  18. jerseyjim Says:

    hey ren – no prob on the book.

    those guys were quite the kingpins, i guess. Miami had it’s Scarface, California had it’s Starface…

    Thx for the tunes, Mr M.

    The Y2K millenial Bug. Looking back now, one would say: “…aw, first-world problems”

  19. RicksFork Says:

    This is my kind of post. Great year for Phish with the darkness that I long for. Love that Portland Ghost so much. Hope all is well with everyone here. Barely a month until fresh Pheesh. Thanks Miner.

  20. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    newly upped trove of dead show vids

  21. MiA Says:

    Echo Ren’s sentiments JerseyJim. That was super solid. Thanks. Been loving it.

  22. George W. Kush Says:

    Garcia on wax

  23. MiA Says:

    That sounds good LU.

    Listening to Target Center Tweezer. Great set opener.

    Disclosure: MrsMia has always hated the loops.

    MrsMia: It took me a long time to just get comfortable with the fact that everyone around me was pretty much doing something illegal and sometimes in front of cops. Now Trey plays what sounds like a siren to me, and I keep hearing the sound they make right before they arrest you. Hard to dance to that.

  24. George W. Kush Says:

    Mrs Mia sounds like a very practical and sensible person. Nice to have someone like that at the helm when you are FBRd. Unless that person is also nagging about their surroundings.

  25. MiA Says:

    Piper has got me all… this

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