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:

    Being father to a daughter makes you part Oprah.

    At wife’s alumni lunch getting some liquid courage to face the Rhombus shortly after 4pm.

  2. Mr. Palmer Says:

    Everyone should go to the Archive and spin the last two nights of Phil at the Cap. Just the second sets with Nels. So sick.

  3. Mr.Miner Says:

    boise > reno. not salt lake

  4. Stoney Case Says:


    No one in Boise has ever heard of Phish.

  5. Al Says:

    But every phish-head knows Boise…

  6. MiA Says:

    Boise, Columbus, Utah, West Virginia … Doesn’t matter.

    It’s “don’t skip the skip show”

    I was going to skip Boise, Utah and Columbus. Glad I didn’t.

  7. Stoney Case Says:

    Lulz. Don’t fall for it fellas. Phish doesn’t have the stones or wherewithal to drop a “don’t skip the Skip show” show. Name 2 in 3.0. Plus, very very few west coast heads gonna do west coast tour. Most WC heads work in MMJ industry and will barely be able to catch nearby shows. It’ll be the trusties and locals at shows for the most part. Had they started Halloween and ran until mid-November, diff story. Would be like Mardi Gras every night.

  8. Stoney Case Says:

    Noticed a day off between DTE and northerly isle. Who’s keeping @phish out of the comedy clubs?

  9. BingosBrother Says:

    I’ll do it. I’ll wear my white shoes.

    #Reno Hightower

  10. MiA Says:

    Most WC heads work in MMJ industry?

  11. Stoney Case Says:

    West coast heads

    Medical Mary Jane

    Ticket Trees as Boise Breathes

  12. Mr.Miner Says:

    Stoney—that paragraph is drenched in generalizations, speculation and bitterness. What gives, brother? Take a dab. Lighten up. Feel the love.

  13. Stoney Case Says:

    Or legit questions for obsessed fans drenched in sarcasm, and inside jokes.

    Name 2 ‘skip shows’ in 3.0

    Give even a semblance of a reason for Phish to play Reno.

    Now a college town when they were summarily avoided in the previous fall tours.

    The questions^

    The rest was the sarcasm. I’m Irie chillin with my son. Not much to do but try and start a convo.

  14. Stoney Case Says:

    Miner. Don’t be so short sighted about what the west coast heads do in the fall and how difficult the rumored dates will be to enjoy. Come on man. We don’t all have the same flexibility in this endeavor.

  15. MiA Says:

    Slave to the MMJ plant

  16. Stoney Case Says:


    If only the youngins would head out early. Garret. The Canadien kid. Gotta be others. Mitch?

  17. Dorn76 Says:

    Using The Rhombus as a windbreak to get in proper headspace.

  18. Stoney Case Says:

    Dorn. Explorer. Problem solver.

    Pics or it didn’t happen.

  19. IrieWalton Says:

    Always down to help a farmer in need, plus I got 5 weeks vacation to burn with no large commitments beyond seeing fam and tour.

  20. Stoney Case Says:

    Nice Irie. You’re the #CrewBoss. Now to get the young ins to fall inline. Df. Bk.

  21. IrieWalton Says:

    Probably have at least one HSU alumni who’s Oudh join me from stumptown. We’re both old pros in the way of the scissors, could have you ready fort our in a few days. Stat.

  22. IrieWalton Says:

    Man. That post got iphone’ed hard.
    Time to hit the vape and pump the roots.

  23. Stoney Case Says:

    ::prays for early finishers::

  24. sumodie Says:

    Palmer, cant wait to spin Phil’s 2nd night with Nels. Good call on

    Dorn is invoking the ghosts of trey’s past at the Rhombus, noice!

  25. vapebraham Says:

    Filet plus napa angel 2008 cab sav – by Chilean winemaker aurelio montes. Home party.
    Life is for living. Get some.

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