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..

[audio:,] Tags: ,

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

  1. Dorn76 Says:

    TTB tune, Sweet and Low, off latest studio album. Find me a better solo reflective drunky tune.

  2. MiA Says:

    Well that is something I never expected to read on the BB.

  3. Gavinsdad Says:

    I never want to read those two words together ever again.

  4. garretcorncob Says:

    We’re all on a watch list now

  5. BingosBrother Says:

    Cooch Tick was my high school nickname.

  6. MiA Says:

    Yuck. My deck is swarmed with June bugs.

    This isn’t a June bug. MrsMiA took the picture.

  7. George W. Kush Says:

    meatball sandwich

  8. MiA Says:

    Fuck that thing. ProTip: do not identify disgusting huge bugs that freak you out and will give you nightmares.

  9. voopa Says:

    I get jokes.

  10. phishm Says:

    I love it when folks on here orange up the pussy. So cute.

  11. phishm Says:

    This jam is as good as it gets as far as I’m concerned. One of those jams that if you just close your eyes and allow the music to consume you, you start to realize it’s a psychadelic journey of a young head that just got their mind blown. Great jam for sure.

  12. Spasm Waiter Says:

    I live in Tick Central. Those things really like to find their way into Tahoe netherregions. I have had 3 or 4 in me this spring alone. And we have these folks deadest on fighting the deer cull. Car accidents, Lyme disease, and other neurological diseases aren’t enough to convince folks to shoot Bambi and give the meat to hungry people. Pretty out of control here. Frustrating. Spraying your yard in chems isn’t the most pleasant option either.

  13. Spasm Waiter Says:

    Ignore tahoe^

  14. avila Says:

    I ask for fall rumors and I get cluster flys and bugs. Hmmm.

  15. Gavinsdad Says:

    Bob Vila – I stopped posting links years ago but phish rumors has what u need. Seattle Oregon Boise Utah SF la Vegas. Made that up a little bit of that from memorry but October

    We should get a beer at the Toro this time around. And a sausage.

    Have a good wknd kids. Little league > Phil in the park for me today.

  16. bearito Says:

    King Khan @ One Eyed Jack’s here in Nola tomorrow. Should I geaux?

  17. Gavinsdad Says:

    I lied about links. Because there are 700 bands that now sound exactly like Philadelphias Work Drugs:

    This shit is easy and pedestrian fluff. Laaaaaaaame.

  18. Gavinsdad Says:

    This is a much better album by a band whose name reflects what I really feel about modern indie

  19. BingosBrother Says:

    Would you like some sausages?

  20. little umbrellas Says:

    @bearito. Yes! Definitely.

  21. little umbrellas Says:

    @Avila. Seattle, BGCC, two LA venues, Vegas

  22. little umbrellas Says:

    Debue’d New music last night. Headed to SC for the Wharf Party. Thank you BB. You rock!

  23. Stoney Case Says:

    LiLUmb, calling PDX a certainty. They’re teasing us for no reason re Boise and Salt Lake rumor. I told my guy, “no one went to Salt Lake when Phish was popular and had the stones to make people pay for skipping. No one’s gonna go this fall”.

    He shrugged.

  24. little umbrellas Says:

    ^who knows right? I could be wrong. But I don’t believe I am. I hope I am, Portland deserves a show (IMO), but yeah…

  25. verno329 Says:

    Got lost last night for.a couple hours on Mr C’s 72 Dark Star mix. Just nasty.

Leave a Reply