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. Dorn76 Says:

    Thank you Miner. Ivy League can’t hang with these jams.

  2. vapebraham Says:

    focal banger – $$$; yum. alchemist is IT.

  3. vapebraham Says:

    dorn, princeton, sculpin, rhombus

  4. sumodie Says:

    I’d stream Phil set 2 tonight to see what Scofield, Medeski, and Cline can ignite on top of the bedrock of Lesh & Russo

  5. sumodie Says:

    Cmon, Dorn, we wanna see a selfie of you atop the rhombus swilling mad ivy priced sculpin

  6. RoosterPizza Says:

    Last edibles I had were MIAs Bhang bar…man were those good.

  7. Dorn76 Says:

    See you tomorry, Rhombus.

  8. MiA Says:

    Listening to Cypress twist. MrsMiA is changing clothes to go to golf club. I’m sitting here stoned. Loops. Thick with loops.

    MrsMia walks past me, looks at me and says “the cops are coming!” And walks out of room.

  9. MiA Says:

    Twist > Caspian seems brilliant in some way.

  10. RoosterPizza Says:

    Bethel Waves and neighbors on the back porch blowing bubbles into the ocean with little rooster. Things back on track…

  11. vapebraham Says:

    mclovins a stone’s throw away tonight. has anyone seen these young, soft bucks lately? watched some mclovin live video and was underwhelmed/slightly annoyed.

  12. BingosBrother Says:

    I love Mrs. mia.

  13. Gavinsdad Says:

    @vape – I saw em at Sullivan hall last year. In 5 years if they keep playing together they are gonna be monstrous. They are in the “great intent but slightly off in their chops and ability to totally gel” phase but I still dug em. They opened for Phils family band.

  14. Gavinsdad Says:

    Need a box of those stat @rp. I’m in dwindle mode.

  15. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    Dorn, do me a favor and have something from Hoagie Haven for me while you are in town. Maybe have yourself a little rhombus-side picnic

  16. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    Totally thought gdad was referring to the bubbles 😐

  17. MiA Says:

    Me to Bingos. Lots of cowbell in this rock and roll. I mean lots. Ridiculous.

  18. vapebraham Says:

    pass the BB’s. so tasty.

  19. vapebraham Says:

    thanks for the feedback re. mclovins, gd. might stumble over there.

  20. MiA Says:

    Wow. This got a lot darker than I remember around 20 min.

  21. RoosterPizza Says:

    Gdad, would love to my hands on some of those, uh, bubbles. Haha

    Bethel Crosseyed better than I remembered.

  22. Gavinsdad Says:

    Bubble Barz

  23. Gavinsdad Says:

    Just tweezerd a tick off my daughters scalp. A little nerve wracking. The Palmolive didn’t choke it out, nor did the Vaseline. Dad shit.

  24. Dorn76 Says:

    You haven’t really lived until you’ve seen the fear in mom’s eyes from the Lyme disease causing deer tick stuck in the toddler’s vagina.

  25. Dorn76 Says:

    Vajayjay, Cooch, what have you…

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