Hampton Coliseum Region: Round 1

Posted in Uncategorized with the on April 6th, 2019 by Mr.Miner

Hampton Coliseum

Gorge Region Round 1 Recap

The first round play in the Gorge region was dominated by blowouts, though two games were as close as possible. Let’s recap each game, starting with the most exciting.

#9 Vegas 98 27 #8 Hartford 97 26

The eight-nine match-up came through with drama once again, as Vegas 98 edged Hartford 97 by only one vote. This one was neck and neck the whole way through, as neither squad created any real separation throughout the game. The teams exchanged buckets down the stretch and the score was tied as the clock moved under five seconds. Vegas called a timeout and set up a final play. On the inbounds, they executed a perfect back pick off the ball, the Hartford defense did’t rotate, and Vegas hit an open layup as time expired! This game illustrated what Tweezer Madness is all about!

#6 Alpine 15 26 #11 Charlotte 95 26 tie

In a battle between two wildly different versions, Charlotte jumped out to a big lead, but Alpine chipped away and chipped away, tieing the game several times but never getting over the hump. And in the final minute of play, they hit a three pointer to tie the game yet again. Charlotte was set up to win, but their attempt at the buzzer wedged in between the rim and the backboard as time expired. This brought the tournament its first tie, and following the Tweezer Madness bylaws, ties are broken by the seeding committee. The committee issued this statement:

Though we love both versions, and Charlotte has the clear edge in length, we find Alpine to be a perfect Phish jam. This Tweezer jam has no extraneous notes, features laser-like focus between band members and a criminally smooth, one-minded flow. For these reasons, Alpine will be advancing.

#5 Providence 98 37 #12 MSG 17 19

This modern-day MSG version, though two-pronged and with a blissful peak just couldn’t keep up with the much-loved, late-90s grooves of the Island Run. This one was never competitive.

#4 Magnaball 42 #13 Finger Lakes 95 13

The centerpiece jam of the Magnaball weekend annihilated the super-long Fleezer of legend, lending the 3.0 era some more street cred in a tourney pitting era against era. Of the four standout Summer ’15 versions, three have now advanced to the round of 32.

#10 Lake Placid 95 28 #7 Barcelona 98 17

The final Tweezer of the band’s famed Fall 95 tour drubbed the bass-led version of Barcelona 98 in the region’s most significant upset. Barcelona, not as well known as the potentially under-seeded Lake Placid version, had a steep hill to climb in this contest, but it was thought that its delectable dance club grooves could make a run for the money. But it wasn’t to be as the guitar and piano led psychedelia of Lake Placid dominated the game from the tip.

#3 Great Went 38 #14 Dick’s 11 18

The Great Went smothered Dick’s 11 with it’s raw Summer 97 funk stylings, moving out to an early lead and expanding it throughout the match-up. Colorado’s early 3.0 highlight couldn’t generate consistent offense against Limestone’s stone cold classic, as it was plagued by turnovers and poor decision making from the jump. The Went advanced easily and could make some legitimate noise in this tournament before all is said and done.

#2 Lake Tahoe 13 44 #15 Randall’s 14 13

Fan favorite, Lake Tahoe, put the beat down on Randall Island’s version in a battle of 3.0 standouts. Randall’s never truly stood a chance against Tahoe’s 30-plus minute journey who many have pegged for a final four appearance.

#1 Alpine 98 51 #16 Eureka 92 7

Once again, the number one seed rolled as Alpine 98 dominated Eureka 92 from the outset, shutting out the 16th seed for the first 15 minutes of the game. Eureka 92, though ahead of its time and deserving of a spot in the tournament, wasn’t thought to truly compete. The pundits were right, and the oldest version in the field will head back to the redwoods, but has nothing to hang its head about.

Thanks to everyone who listened and voted in the Gorge Region! The Hampton region’s first round will run for 72 hours from the time of this posting. Enjoy the next eight matchups and continue to enjoy your time in the freezer!

Hampton Region #1 vs #16

Hampton Region #8 vs #9

Hampton Region #5 vs #12

Hampton Region #4 vs #13

Hampton Region #6 vs #11

Hampton Region #3 vs #14

Hampton Region #7 vs #10

Hampton Region #2 vs #15

The Gorge Region: Round 1

Posted in Uncategorized with the on April 3rd, 2019 by Mr.Miner

The Gorge

MSG 1st Round Re-Cap

Though most of Madison Square Garden’s first round match-ups went as expected, there were some very close contests and one surprising upset. Let’s go to the videotape!

The region’s shocking upset came in dramatic fashion as the mid-major 11th seeded, Laguna Seca 94, made a late run and upended the heavy-hitting version of Blossom 15 by a single vote. Blossom had an open look to win it at the buzzer, but the ball rolled around the rim and fell out of cylinder. Nobody saw this one coming, and many thought Blossom was a real contender to reach the Sweet 16. But its season ended prematurely, and the strong version will pack its bag and head back to Cleveland to ponder what could have been.

The seven seed, Hartford 13, and the tenth seed, Nassau 99, engaged in a hotly-contested, see-saw battle that saw several lead changes throughout. Hartford saw a narrow lead evaporate over the final two minutes of the game, but hit a desperation three-pointer at the horn defeating the dark-horse 99 rendition in crushing fashion by only a single vote.

Jones Beach 95, the regions second seed, ran out to a large lead only to become complacent and allow number 15, Cincy 98, to stage a furious comeback that ultimately fell short. The game was even closer than the final margin of eight votes would suggest, as Jones Beach tacked on some free throws off of intentional fouls by Cincy as they looked to extend the contest.

Third-seeded Bomb Factory easily defeated MSG in a contest of 1994 juggernauts, while Lakewood 15, the region’s four seed, drubbed Big Cypress in a match-up that was never close. Camden 99 and Gorge 97 went back and forth for much of the game before fifth seeded, Camden, strung together some late buckets and won by a comfortable margin of seven votes.

The always exciting eight versus nine game lived up to the hype, as Vancouver 99 and Gainesville 95 exchanged blows in a battle of vastly different musical eras. Vancouver jumped out to an early lead before Gainesville mucked up the game with strong grand piano chords, playing lock down defense and scoring just enough to comfortably put down the favored Canadian version by seven.

In the final MSG first round game, top seed Auburn Hill ’97 bludgeoned Dayton 95 without resistance.

Thanks to all who voted in the tournament’s first region! Please cast your vote for the Gorge region’s first round games below. I’ve decided to have regions’ first round slate to play for three days—72 hours from the time of posting—rather than four in the interest of moving the tournament along.

Get your headphones out and let’s go!

Gorge Region #1 vs. #16

Gorge Region #8 vs. #9

Gorge Region #5 vs. #12

Gorge Region #4 vs. #13

Gorge Region #6 vs. #11

Gorge Region #3 vs. #14

Gorge Region #7 vs. #10

Gorge Region #2 vs. #15

Madison Square Garden Region: Round 1

Posted in Uncategorized with the on March 31st, 2019 by Mr.Miner

Madison Square Garden

Please vote once for each match-up.

MSG Region #1 vs. #16

MSG Region #8 vs. #9

MSG Region #5 vs. #12

MSG Region #4 vs. #13

MSG Region #6 vs. #11

MSG Region #3 vs. #15

MSG Region #7 vs. #10

MSG Region #2 vs. #15

Tweezer Madness

Posted in Uncategorized with the on March 28th, 2019 by Mr.Miner

Click on bracket

Today, on the 29-year anniversary of the debut of Tweezer, and as the NCAA tournament enters the Sweet Sixteen, I welcome you to Tweezer Madness!

First things first—this is for fun. This is not intended to be a definitive ranking of Tweezer jams. In fact, ranking jams is nonsensical. One jam is not better than another. Making art compete is silly, but if taken in the vein this is intended, I think it will be a lot of fun. This tournament is a completely subjective exercise, and it is by no means an attempt at an objective referendum. Moreover, at this point in my own life, I feel that comparing jams is a fool’s errand, but I’ve considered putting this tournament together for many years, when I mentioned it to some friends a couple weeks ago, their enthusiasm for the idea motivated me to make it happen.

The Seeding Process

Seeding these Tweezer jams was an impossible task. I tried to balance my own proclivity for the fluid, groovier versions of 1997 and beyond with a heartfelt honor and my old-school love for the adventurous journeys of 1994 and 1995. I tried to mix up the eras between the higher and lower seeds to create the an engaging and interesting bracket.

In this process, it became evident that comparing Phish eras doesn’t really work. How can one weigh the ethereal, layered textures of Nassau 99 against the fuel-injected fury of New Haven 95, or the 50-minute, multi-part colossus of Mud Island 95 against the smooth, space grooves of the Island Run’s version? Opposing versions quickly become apples and oranges. In the spirit of making an all-time tournament, however, I’ve included jams across all eras.

Dry Goods Sticker

When I re-listened to a version, I inevitably found myself trying to reshuffle the bracket in order to bump up its seed, but several days into the process, I gave up trying to get them all “right,” because there is no such thing. I could have shuffled seeds forever, but at some point I realized it really didn’t matter, a loose approximation of tiers worked fine. Time and time again, I realized that seeding jams is an imperfect science, and beyond that, purely comedic. Eventually, it felt more important to finish the bracket than to continue nitpicking over every seed. Trust me, I did enough of that. And then I did it some more.

The selection of the top seeds is a reflection of my own heart. To me, the number one seeds feature unparalleled flow, ultimate cohesion and each contain—in my opinion—some of the most timeless and divine Phish music ever played.

That said, many of my other favorite versions are scattered throughout the bracket. I truly believe that all 66 versions (including the play-in games) are awesome.  I needed to fill 66 slots, so some versions necessarily had to be seeded lower than others. In short, don’t take the seeding too seriously.

If I left out your favorite version, don’t fret, my opinion means no more than yours. But I’d like to think—and I hope—that I got everyone’s favorite version in the field.

To view the bracket, click on the image and you’ll get a full size, printable version. I will be posting matchup polls (with complete dates) on this site.  I recommend using Phish.in or Reilsten on a computer, or the ReListen app on a phone, to access all the music.

I am posting the two play-in games today. The winners of these games will be the final two 16 seeds as reflected on the bracket. After a 48-hour voting window, I will post the first round region by region, giving four days for listening and voting. Once the first round is over, I’ll post two regions at a time, soon enough, we’ll have a tournament champion.

Without further ado, step into the freezer!

Play-In Game # 1

Play-In Game # 2

Fall Tour 2018 Discussion

Posted in Uncategorized with the on October 21st, 2018 by Mr.Miner

Early 3.0 Playlists: 2009-2011

Posted in Uncategorized with the on March 18th, 2018 by Mr.Miner

Red Rocks – 7.31.09 (Graham Lucas)

About a month ago, a friend of mine who missed the first three-plus years of 3.0 was saying how Phish wasn’t very musically proficient in these years. I begged to differ. First, I started listing great stuff from each year in a group text, but then I decided to show him instead of tell. With the incredibly useful LivePhish app, I created extended playlists of the most relevant jams from these years. In addition to sharing them with some friends, I figured I’d share them with anyone and everyone who’d want to listen as a reminder of how exciting these years actually were. I find that 2009, 2010 and 2011 get a bad rap. Though the band was less consistent during this early comeback era, they did produce quite a bit of good music.

These playlists got quite long, so I most often included only the songs that had the jams and not the come down songs, so some tracks have abrupt endings, but in the end this doesn’t prove too obtrusive. If you have the LivePhish app, these links will open the playlists in your app. Enjoy!

2009: https://livephi.sh/2FywjTv

2010: https://livephi.sh/2GgGzxC

2011: https://livephi.sh/2G5oDs2

Be on the lookout for 2012 and beyond coming soon!

The Gorge – 8.7.09 (Graham Lucas)

The Palace Tweezer—Twenty Years Later

Posted in History, Jams with the tags , , on December 6th, 2017 by Mr.Miner

My Actual Ticket Stub—12.6.97

Twenty years later and I can still remember everything about that night—where I was, who I was with, what I was wearing. They say that live music can change your life, and that is exactly what happened to me on the sixth of December in 1997. On this night, something momentous happened. A piece of music harnessed from the outer realms of the universe came down through the instruments of a band from Vermont and transformed The Palace of Auburn Hills into a place of worship. On this night, we received “The Palace Tweezer.”

This jam is hands down, far and away, my favorite piece of music ever created by mankind. And it’s not even close. The Palace Tweezer has it all—the grimiest, subliminally connected funk grooves, a passage of ascension into spiritual realms of sound and soul, and an indescribable section of musical wizardry that I suspect was the soundtrack of the universe’s creation. The entire piece unfolds like poetry without a moment of hesitation, as if the music already existed—perfectly composed—and the band just allowed it to come through them. It seems impossible that a piece of improvised music so immaculate, so powerful, and so utterly dynamic could be generated by human beings on the fly.

I cannot begin to guess how many times I have listened to this jam over the past twenty years, but it sounds every bit as good today as it did when I got the analog copy sometime after tour. It has not lost a drop of freshness or power. The Palace Tweezer is a part of the fabric of my existence. Though I know the piece by heart, the feelings it produces on each and every listen are no less stirring than on the day I heard it.

Though Phish crafted so many sections of “funk” that fall, none approach the nuanced, four-minded mastery on display in this jam. The band members finish each other’s musical sentences, speaking as one entity rather than individual musicians. These grooves have a life of their own—locked in doesn’t begin to describe it.

The band gradually and ever so smoothly builds from these opening dance rhythms into a section of improvisation that opens a wormhole in space-time, allowing the music—and the Palace—to slip into an alternate dimension. This passage gives me chills every time I listen to it. Literally. Every time. Trey hits a lick in here that elevates the possibilities of the entire jam, and the band is right with him. From this point forward in the jam, words fail me. The music is beyond linguistic expression—a deeper magic from before the dawn of time.

I truly believe that the band communed with the divine while playing this jam. It is not far fetched, as we are all individual manifestations of the one divine energy of the universe. We are the universe awakening to itself and expressing itself as human beings for a short blip of time. Life is but a process of remembering not who we are, but what we are. Yet, because we are in human form, we are not in always in touch with this higher truth. But on that Saturday night in December, twenty years ago, Phish was not only in touch with it, they channelled this truth through music, through themselves and, subsequently, through everyone in the room.

It is this process that makes transcendent Phish jams such incomparably powerful experiences. This is the reason we keep going back—to remember and experience our truth. The Palace Tweezer is the greatest expression of my personal truth that I have ever heard. It is primordial music, an oracle of the infinite, telling a story of our past, present and future all at once.

Today—twenty years later—I will listen to the The Palace Tweezer again, and I will smile with awe and wonder, just as I did when the lights came on, oh so long ago.

Tags: , ,

The Baker’s Dozen

Posted in Commentary, History, Uncategorized with the tags , , on September 21st, 2017 by Mr.Miner

The Baker’s Dozen (Andrea Nusinov)

Well, well, well… The band that has continued to outdo itself throughout their thirty-four year career did it once again with—unquestionably—the greatest event they have ever thrown. The Baker’s Dozen wasn’t just a run of shows, it was a summation of Phish’s entire career and a statement of where they stand today. Their residency at Madison Square Garden showcased the band’s endless musical catalog, unparalleled improvisational prowess, carefully contoured set crafting and cleverness of mind—the four central elements that define Phish. Meticulously planned and perfectly executed, the Baker’s Dozen will be talked about, listened to and remembered by the Phish community for the rest of time.

Jim Pollock

In the months leading up to the Dozen, perhaps the most popular topic of debate among fans centered on whether the band would repeat any songs during the course of the run. With thirteen shows spanning two and a half weeks, the band would essentially have to play an entire tour—Fall ’16 spanned exactly 13 shows—without repeating a song. Could they do it? Sure. Would they do it? That was an entirely different question.

Conventional wisdom said that if they chose to go the “no repeats” route, they would be forced to play long improvisational passages, thereby cutting down the number of songs per show, a stepping stone towards their goal. They would have to feature more than just a smattering of covers to supplement their original music, something they had done throughout their career. Fans debated back and forth, but in the end there was only one answer, as the band in question was Phish. Of course they wouldn’t repeat a song. This feat was likely impossible for any other band in history, but for a band that has made a living for three decades by breaking musical precedents, there was no other choice. 237 songs in thirteen nights, and not a single note repeated. Only Phish. Only Phish.

Baker’s Dozen (Andrea Nusinov)

Not since the late 90s, and dare I say not since their hallowed Fall ’97 tour, has Phish brought all facets of their superior game night after night after night, delivering sculpted musical journeys that will go down in the annals of their illustrious history. But unlike their legendary tour of Fall ’97, when Phish destroyed America, the mind-quests of the Baker’s Dozen were not birthed from a single musical paradigm, but from styles spanning their entire career, and sprinkled with some new sounds as well. In the yesteryears of Phish’s first Golden Age, the band honed in on a musical focus each tour and they fleshed out their ideas through that unique prism while often moving beyond those styles. But the brilliant sets of MSG featured improvisational escapades of all shapes, sizes and colors, forming a sonic smorgasbord that spanned the totality of the band’s musical spectrum. From the ambient sounds of “Wolfman’s > Twist > Waves” to the laid-back candy grooves of “Mike’s Song” and “You Sexy Thing;” from the soaring, bliss-drenched jams of “Chalk Dust” and “Ghost” to the murky abstractions of “Drowned > A Song I Heard the Ocean Sing;” from the knee-deep funk of “Everything’s Right” and “46 Days” to the psych-jazz of “Taste,” Phish showcased their diverse musical genius with utmost flair for thirteen straight nights.

Even more than their lights-out jamming, however, Phish’s set crafting stood out as the defining element of this run. The thirteen second sets were each thought out sagas with unparalleled flow—fantasy-like Phish. These seamless musical adventures wrapped one so intimately in their narrative arcs that it often surprised the listener when the final page turned—“Whoa—what just happened?!” And this wasn’t just the case on few of the nights, but nearly every evening of the run. Second sets contained nimble contours that guided the collective and delivered it to the Promised Land. Even during some of their most prolific tours, the band often did not consistently present coherent musical statements as they did at the Baker’s Dozen. And unlike previous tours, when certain shows and jams stood out amongst the rest, the Baker’s Dozen provided a counter-example—the entire thirteen nights was the highlight. Each night stood alone in its excellence, offering a flavor of its own. Every night was the best. We had ascended to Phish heaven.

Baker’s Dozen (Andrea Nusinov)

On top of the to-die-for music, the band threw a heap of classic Phishiness into the Baker’s Dozen with nightly, pre-announced donut themes, creating a community-wide mystery each day and making sleuths of every fan as they tried to figure out what the band would play to match the flavor of the night. Referencing themes with new covers, puns, lyrics and song titles, the band was in peak prankster form crafting these detailed affairs, clearly enjoying the process. The clever nature of the Baker’s Dozen added the proverbial cherry on top of the most unique and original extravaganza of Phish’s career.

And then it came down to the run’s twenty-sixth and final set. Within, ironically, the one show without a strong musical connection to its theme—this stanza unfolded like a poem that encapsulated the ethos of Phish’s career.

“We’ve got it simple ‘cause we’ve got a band.”

Behind the spectacle that is a Phish show—behind the lights, the crowds, the jams, the energy, the madness, and the beauty—there is a band, four lifetime friends who have had the ride of their lives making music with each other. Though the ride hasn’t always been easy, the choice has always been simple—this musical project is what these guys were put on this planet to do—to play together in a rock and roll band. The joy they derive from playing in Phish is self-evident, and play they did in one of the defining jams of the Baker’s Dozen.

“I’m a part of you, and you’re a part of me”

Baker’s Dozen (A.Nusinov)

This cosmically significant lyric from “Come Together,” when taken in reference to the Phish community, depicts how integral the band and its fan base are to one another, illustrating how the two forces have come together and risen up to form one of the most fabled communities in rock and roll history. Phish has never been shy about their symbiotic relationship with their notoriously passionate fans; it is, self-admittedly, what has driven this whole experiment from their humble Northeast beginnings. The exchange of energy between the band and its loyal followers at their live shows creates a unique, communal catharsis that none of the participants—on either side—find anywhere else in life. Forays into the unknown result in moments that transcend our individual nature and blossom in the one energy of which we are all comprised. Illusory boundaries of the self are shattered in explosions of metaphysical truth, and no one is never the same again. These ego-dismantling experiences allow all involved to tap into the one consciousness, the one soul of which we are all made, and revel in the divinity of existence.

“There’s a starman waiting in the sky / He’d like to come and meet us / But he thinks he’d blow our minds”

Baker’s Dozen (Andrea Nusinov)

“Starman” holds a important significance in story of The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust. After he is contacted in a dream, Ziggy becomes the rock and roll messenger of an infinite Starman, who will descend from space to save humanity from it’s imminent demise. Ziggy spreads this messianic message of hope and love through his music, prompting people to follow him and believe in Ziggy, himself, as a prophet. The parallels between the story of Ziggy and Phish are striking. Phish has come into existence in this time and in this earthly dimension to invoke a musical and spiritual ecstasy within a western American society that has lost touch with the cosmic truths that exist within each and every person. Phish are messengers of the beyond, our Ziggy Stardust through whom the infinite is manifested.

A Phish show transcends music and enjoyment, giving fans a glimpse of reality beyond words and beyond the mind, something eternal. Peak live experiences remind participants that there is more to existence than what is routinely perceived. And I don’t think there is one person in the band’s massive fan base that wouldn’t claim that Phish and their music has saved them at least once in their life. Phish provides us inspiration and vitality, belief and spirituality, which we carry with us into our lives beyond the dance floor. Like modern day shamans, Phish has been our spirit guides through this crazy world, and has brought to us peace, community, and unconditional love. And beyond all of that, Phish—for three hours at a time and for decades on end—has “let all the children boogie,” providing fans an outlet to let go of life’s difficulties, and to bask in nothing but the timeless moment. In their own way, Phish has saved the universe.

You Enjoy Myself

7.23.17 (Andrea Nusinov)

Culminating this final set came Phish’s seminal composition-turned-throw down, “You Enjoy Myself.” Not only is this piece one of the most well-loved selections in the band’s musical cannon, but its silly and oft-dismissed title holds a significance in this set. “You Enjoy Myself”—you (the fans) enjoy myself (Trey, the composer / Phish, the musicians). This title is a selfless statement of Phish’s mission—they bear their souls for our enjoyment, or put from their perspective, “Our intent is all for your delight.” Sure, Phish has been the band members’ path to well-being and success, but their ultimate purpose is so much bigger than that. Trey has said it over the years many times in many ways, but perhaps most directly in “Joy“—We want you to be happy.” It’s plain and simple. To say they have succeeded in their goal would be a colossal understatement.

“What a beautiful buzz”

For all involved, band and fans alike, what a beautiful buzz the Phish experience is—the most beautiful buzz on planet earth. And with “Loving Cup,” this poignant, message-laced set of music concluded in an explosion of arena-wide exaltation.

“The life I love is making music with my friends”

With the encore, the epilogue of a seventeen-day odyssey, Phish brought this set-long statement full circle, back to the simplicity of music and friendship with the heartwarming cover of Willie Nelson’s “On the Road Again.” Its lyrics and meaning in the context of a career-defining residency need no interpretation.

On the road again
Just can’t wait to get on the road again
The life I love is making music with my friends
And I can’t wait to get on the road again

On the road again
Like a band of gypsies we go down the highway
We’re the best of friends
Insisting that the world keep turning our way
And our way, is on the road again

“Won’t you step into the freezer.”

And what other way to finish the Baker’s Dozen—after one last sprinkle of clever humor in a “Lawn Boy Reprise”—than with “Tweezer Reprise.” Phish’s go-to shot of musical adrenaline and rapture punctuated a signature run of shows that will go down in band—and music—history. We have all stepped into the freezer and found a home in the universe Phish has created. It is the most majestic, invigorating, and life-affirming universe we have ever known. It is a universe of truth, and it is most definitely a donut.

Baker’s Dozen (Andrea Nusinov)

Baker’s Dozen (Andrea Nusinov)

Baker’s Dozen (Andrea Nusinov)

Baker’s Dozen (Andrea Nusinov)

Tags: , ,

Refreshing the Board

Posted in Uncategorized with the on August 9th, 2017 by Mr.Miner

Dayton, OH (Michael Stein)

Discussing Vegas: Part III

Posted in Uncategorized with the tags , on December 20th, 2016 by Mr.Miner
jhg

10.31.16 (Micahel Stein)

Lawn Memo: Before we get into the actual Halloween set, let’s talk about the first and third set of Halloween. Dave, what are your overall thoughts?

Mr. Miner: I thought they were both quite good. I thought the song selection for set one was great and there were a lot of high energy moments throughout, starting right off the bat with “Carini.” I thought the “Tube” “Wolfman’s” was a great combo and I really liked the juxtaposition of “Petrichor” “Antelope” to end the opening set.

Memo: Agreed, great song selection! The “Petrichor, “Antelope” combo put me in the perfect frame of mind going into the Ziggy set. Love the new-Phish and old-Phish combos. I liked the third set live but love it even more after a couple spins. “46 Days > Sand > Twist” was an excellent way to start off and “Slave to the Traffic Light” was the perfect way to close it. “Sand” and “2001” brought some excellent jams in short time frames. I thought both the first and third set were nice bookends to Ziggy.

10.31 (Michael Stein)

10.31 (M. Stein)

Miner: Yeah, the third set felt like a great exhale after the band nailed Ziggy. They let loose with some groovier stuff and created a really fun atmosphere to end the weekend. I think “Sand” was one of the high points of the run, as the band went outside the box to create a truly cathartic peak. And it’s always a treat when they blow up a “2001” like that amongst this era of four-minute versions. I love when Trey actually plays lead guitar over those grooves rather than just mess with effects which has, for better or worse, become the norm. I also really dug the “Twist” drum jam. The way they maintained the song structure within that limited expression was really cool.

Memo: Yeah, that “Twist” jam was really unique. Man, I love when they close a run with “Slave to the Traffic Light.”

Miner: It’s a great finale. It allows for reflection, introspection and a sense of peace after all of the madness. Definitely a great choice. I really likes this version as well.

Memo: “Slave to the Traffic Light” IS the song that does that for me. It melts me every single time. When it caps a run—you nailed it—total reflection for me. It gives me the warmest of all feelings. I could see “Slave to the Traffic Light” at every show.

10.31 (Michael Stein)

10.31 (Michael Stein)

Miner: Every show? It might get a little old for me as the jam is pretty formulaic, but when placed in the right spot, it is unquestionably perfect. My friends and I often say that a show needs to earn a “Slave,” and that it should be held back to cap a standout night of music. I think when they play it after a standard-ish show, it kind of loses its power.

Memo: Yes, every show. I need a lot of reflection in my life. Agreed that the right placement only elevates it. Some of the best hugs in my life have been post “Slave to the Traffic Light”.

Miner: Fair enough, I’ll take a Tweezer every show.

Memo: Ha, so will I! So after a full tour, what are your thoughts on “Petrichor?”

Miner: Funny you ask. I usually can digest new Phish immediately, but it took me three times seeing this song live to truly “get it.” At first it seemed like “Time Turns Elastic” junior, but it is actually far more dynamic that that song. Granted it’s a very long composition, but it has many feels and movements that work as one which is what I thought TTE never achieved. It’s a great piece of music.

Memo: “Petrichor” has grown on me. I loved the placement in Vegas and thought it’s execution was top notch. I love how different each section is yet how well they all fit together. I try to pause and think about the fact that my favorite band can write songs as different as “Petrichor” and “I’ve Always Wanted It This Way.” I have high hopes for “Petrichor.” They seem to touch on the jamming element but bail at this instance. I hope it goes deep sometime. I could see it being a baby “YEM”.

10.31 (M.Stein)

10.31 (M.Stein)

Miner: Sorry to burst your bubble, but they aren’t gonna jam “Petrichor.” That’s not what it was written for. There is no departure point written into the song. It creates a journey without improvisation, and I think that it’s strength. It’s like long form musical theatre. But I totally agree with you on Trey’s diverse compositional abilities. That’s always been one of his hallmarks. From something as simple as “Jibboo” or “Dog Faced Boy” to something as complex as “You Enjoy Myself” or “Petrichor,” for him to succeed almost every time is remarkable.

Memo: You’re probably right. I’m still waiting for the first “Waiting All Night” jam. I might be waiting even longer for “Petrichor.” Regardless, it’s brilliant. I listen to it a lot on my way to work, it always seems to put a bounce in my step. If they just so happen to jam it, well, we might need to do an entire post about it.

Miner: I’m still waiting for a “Bouncin” jam to be honest! What have they been doing all these years?!

Memo: One of the best part of Phish’s Halloween shows are how all-out their fans go with costumes. What were the best Halloween costumes you saw?

Miner: Two friends of mine dressed up as the murdered sisters in the hallway from The Shining and another friend of mine dressed up as Mike Ditka. They all nailed their costumes beyond anything I’ve seen in years. I’d have to say it was a tie.

Memo: I saw the Ditka costume, great stuff. Lot of good ones, however, nothing to top my all time favorite—The IT Tower which I saw at Atlantic City (http://i.imgur.com/6IECYwf.jpg). Moving forward, Dave, you wrote an entire blog post back in 2009 about how you thought Ziggy Stardust was the best choice Phish could make on Halloween. Seven years later it happened, was it everything you had hoped it would be?

Phishbill 2016

Phishbill 2016

Miner: Well, I didn’t really have any expectations of what it would be like. I felt that the storyline to the album and the history behind David Bowie’s alter ego of Ziggy had so many parallels to Trey’s rise and fall, that there couldn’t have been a more perfect album fior them to cover upon their return. I thought the entire performance was incredibly soulful and spiritual, especially with the recent passing of Bowie, himself. Though the album chronicles a tragedy, it is ultimately a hopeful story and that feeling truly permeated Phish’s performance. Trey, Bowie, Ziggy—they were all one in the same in this context, and the parallels of their three storylines are undeniable. I thought that made the performance incredibly intimate and personal.

Memo: Man, Dave you just nailed my thoughts in one paragraph. There is no doubt that Ziggy Stardust is an album with incredible meaning for Phish. I especially like your description of soulful and spiritual. It was of all that for me. Hearing each member of Phish belt out those incredible lyrics was something I will never forget. You could feel the emotion with each note and you can still hear the emotion on each re-listen. It was a soulful experience to take that in with 16,000 fellow fans and think about how each of our lives have risen and fallen, and what a journey it has been with Phish.

Miner: Yeah, if there was one word to describe the set it would be soulful. The band really accessed a part of their playing and themselves that isn’t always on display, and that made the performance so special. They usually fluctuate between goofy, rocking, grooving, and uplifting, but soulful isn’t a word I would generally use to generally describe Phish. On this night and in this set, however, they oozed soul.

Memo: Phish often has guests for these cover sets and Ziggy was no exception. What were your thoughts on the decision to go with strings and backup singers and no horns?

10.31 (Michael Stein)

10.31 (Michael Stein)

Miner: I, personally, don’t like horns with Phish. I realize that’s probably an unpopular opinion, but I just don’t dig on how their sound meshes with the band. There are probably a few exceptions throughout the years, like Exile, but I was happy with their decision to leave them out this year. I thought the strings provided an incredibly dreamy feeling to the music and I thought it provided the perfect accompaniment for such a soulful performance. I thought the backup singers were integral to the entire set. Without them I don’t think it would have worked nearly as well as it did. David Bowie’s vocals were obviously the most challenging element of the album for Phish to tackle, and I feel that the support of the backup singers provided the necessary complement for the songs to truly come to life.

Memo: I was initially shocked with the decision to go without horns, but I’m glad they went without them. The strings/backup singer combo was impeccable. It was the perfect complement to the central performers. At no point did they overshadow but instead only aided in the beauty. I get chills on each re-listen. The arrangements were perfect. I thought it was an all emotional, classy application and exactly the way they should have played it.

Miner: Phish has a knack for executing these sets perfectly. Their brilliant musicality and their unparalleled sense of the moment always combines in all-time performances. They were born for this stuff.

Memo: So what were your favorite parts of the Ziggy set? Favorite songs or moments?

Miner: This was the first album that Phish has covered—other than Dark Side—that I knew note for note while it was happening, and it is one of my favorite albums of all time as well, so it’s hard to pick what my favorite moments were since it’s such a holistic piece of art. I’ve always dreamed of hearing Trey play the signature guitar lick to the title track, so that was very special for me. I also thought “Rock and Roll Suicide” was perhaps Trey’s best vocal performance of his career and one of the most emotional moments in Phish history—the lyrics, the meaning, the crescendo of the set—it was absolutely perfect.

"Rock and Roll Suicide" (Michael Stein)

“Rock and Roll Suicide” (Michael Stein)

Memo: I firmly agree that “Rock and Roll Suicide” was a defining moment for Trey. The lyrics are so applicable to his journey that I think it helped him to find something extra. Trey belting out “You’re not alone” while bobbing in the front of the stage is an all time moment for me. I listened to that before work one night and was belting out in my best Trey rendition for about five hours. It was something special.

Miner: Yeah, who would have guessed Trey would have had a defining career moment without a guitar in his hand?

Memo: My favorite Bowie song has always been “Moonage Daydream” so seeing that was obviously something special for me. Trey’s voice rang true and the solo was everything I had hoped it would be. Powerful stuff. Speaking of the strings and backup singers, there are moments in “Moonage” where they intermingle with such beauty.  

Miner: I love the song “Soul Love.” I thought the strings and the backup singers really worked perfectly on this one. Once they nailed this tune, I felt they reached a level of comfort to execute the rest of the set.

Memo: “Soul Love” was outstanding.  Near the top for me in amount of re-listens. The backup singers give me chills. “It Ain’t Easy” was another tour de force with the background singers. I feel like I could take on the Death Star by myself while listening back.

"Ziggy Stardust" (Michael Stein)

“Ziggy Stardust” (Michael Stein)

Miner: Yeah, that was awesome. Another great Trey vocal performance. It was so surreal to see him on stage without a guitar. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen that before other than vocal jams and a capella tunes. Little known fact, that song is a cover of a Ron Davies original that Bowie included on the album.

Memo: As you stated the vocals were obviously the most challenging part of the album. I loved how Phish broke them up and every member contributed. For the most part I thought they were excellent. They may not have hit the range that Bowie could hit but the emotion behind each lyric elevated the performance.

Miner: Yeah, I thought the lyrics were as good as Phish could have made them, and what more can you ask for than that? Additionally, I absolutely love “Starman” and “Lady Stardust” and thought Phish really nailed each song. They both carried so much meaning as well. Phish are the starmen that have come down from the sky and blown all of our minds for thirty years now, and the lyric in Lady Stardust—”And it was all right, the band was altogether”—was a chill, borderline tear-inducing moment after all that Phish has been through. That lyric totally relates to this golden age of the band’s career and it hit with such poignancy.

Memo: What do you think Ziggy’s legacy will be? How do you think it fits into the pantheon of Phish Halloween sets?

10.31 (Michael Stein)

10.31 (M. Stein)

Miner: I’ve come to a point where ranking and comparing shows seems fruitless to me. They are all so unique and special. I know that’s a little against the grain that I’ve established on my site over the years, but how can one compare their Halloween performances? They are all so great and so different. I think the most we can do is pick favorites. But in terms of third sets, my runaway favorite is Vegas ‘98. That “Wolfman’s” is one of my all-time favorite jams and the most quintessential Halloween jam that they have ever played. That shit is over the top Phish. In terms of Ziggy, I think it stands on its own as a straight cover set as opposed to an interpretive cover set—just like the White Album. All the other sets, the band made their own in one way or another, often with improvisation. I guess the next closest straight cover would be Exile. I loved the reverence with which they played The Beatles, The Stones and Bowie. I mean what can you do to improve on such classic rock and roll albums? To even try borders on sacrilege. I also loved the more improvisational Halloween sets, they had a whole different feel, with the obvious example being Remain in Light, and somewhat lesser so Loaded, Quadrophenia and Waiting for Columbus. If one thing rings true, however, I’ve absolutely adored every Halloween set. I think they have all been perfect.

Memo: I thought Ziggy was one of the finer Halloween performances, and both the first and third set only help the 10/31/2016 cause. It certainly doesn’t hurt that Vegas as a whole was an all-time run. I want to give credit to how Phish approached the last two Halloween runs in Vegas. With Halloween being the first night in 2014, coming out with Chilling, Thrilling was brilliant. That set the tone for the entire run and was the perfect way to inject life into Vegas right from the start. In 2016, with Halloween being the last night, Phish slayed the first three nights with huge jams and even bigger sets. Ziggy felt like a culmination of all four nights. It was the perfect set at the perfect time. Both in 2014, and 2016 Phish nailed the setlist construction. Let’s talk a little about the show experience. Your thoughts on Vegas / MGM for Halloween as a city / venue?

10.31 (Michael Stein)

10.31 (Michael Stein)

Miner: Vegas is the best possible city for Halloween. I think that goes without saying. I feel it’s probably the best city for Phish in general. The all night aspect of everything is unmatched in other cities and all the sensory overload of Vegas make it the perfect psychedelic destination. Hunter Thompson was onto something. As a venue, the floor is a total clusterfuck, but there are enough nooks and crannies around the building to make it an enjoyable experience.

Memo: Vegas rules. It’s insane. I love it so much yet there is no city I can’t wait to leave like Vegas. The energy for Phish is on another level. Hearing everyone’s stories is an experience in itself.  I do love Boardwalk Hall as an actual venue but Atlantic City can’t touch Vegas. Hopefully it’s a common occurrence.

Miner: A lot of people talk about the grueling nature of four nights in Vegas, but I don’t really drink or gamble so it’s all just like one big 24 hour amusement park for me. I feel I get all the positive and none of the negative out of that town. I’ve been to every Phish show in Vegas, but never been to Vegas without Phish and I’d like to keep it that way. The city has little appeal to me without Phish there, but when the band is in town, I find the entire experience to be one big spectacle.

Memo: I am pretty sure I did enough drinking and gambling for the both of us. In fact, I still might not have recovered. 24oz Lagunitas IPAs during the shows is no joke.

Miner: Wow! That sounds like a lot of piss breaks to me. But, hey, any way you cut it, Phish and Vegas go together like peanut butter and jelly. And on that note, I guess this is a wrap! Great talking Vegas with you, brother. This was a lot of fun. Let’s revisit this format in the future. Happy Holidays to all!

10.31 (Michael Stein)

10.31 (Michael Stein)

Tags: ,