With Summer Tour 2012 rapidly approaching, let’s continue a look at summers past with ’96. I’m not trying to pull the ten “best” jams from each summer, but just ten great ones. Enjoy the picks from this underrated tour!
THE SLOPING COMPANION ESSAY CONTEST
Robert Champion of The Sloping Companion is running an essay contest for those that “Like” The Sloping Companion Facebook Page. The winner will win a recycled/upcycled wood art piece. All anyone has to do to enter is write a short, two-to-three paragraph essay about why they are so passionate about Phish. The contest is running for about two weeks and the winner will have their piece aired on the show, will be on the station, and will win a specially-created, one of a kind art piece.
12/29 Irish Times Update: $5 Cover Added to Afterparty
Book Cover (Masthay)
I did all I could to throw a free afterparty in New York City, but after negotiations with the owner of the bar, there will need to be a $5 cover charge in order to staff the event—specifically to have someone to run the “book check” so that anyone who purchases a book at the signing can enjoy the show without worrying about its safety. I can assure you that I am not making cent with the afterparty and this is a simple issue of the owner changing his mind after the fact. Nonetheless, $5 in New York City will hardly buy you a dog and a soda on the corner, so come across the street after the 29th show and celebrate a fantastic year of Phish with friends. Music all night long will be provided by provided by Coltrane and friends. The details are below for the sake of repetition:
The Afterparty: Post-show – 3 am – $5 cover charge
Come one, come all!
(Around) Ten Tunes for Friday: 11/18 in Phish History
11.16 / 11.18.94 Michigan Poster
November 18th has been a prolific date in Phish history, as the band performed on this day in the powerhouse years of ’94, ’95, ’96, and ’98. In addition, Phish also kicked of their first fall tour of the modern era in 2009 on this date, but though the “46 Days” and “Disease” were noteworthy, this playlist will consist of the other four shows. In 1994, Phish sat smack dab in the middle of one of the peak months of the mid ’90s, and on the 18th, they took their blistering chops up to Michigan State University in East Lansing for a smoking affair. The following year, Phish was on the second half of a marathon Fall tour when the passed through North Charleston Coliseum for a solid Fall ’95 show with some unreal peaks in. In 1996, November 18th brought the band to Memphis, Tennessee, where they played a phenomenal second set on their at the tail end the end of their Midwestern leg of the tour. And in 1998, the band played one of the first-ever shows at Greenville, South Carolina’s Bi-Lo center, a dark horse mid-week affair that is barely talked about though contains several great jams. When plucking the highlights from this quartet of shows, we are left with quite the Friday playlist! Let’s get right to it.
This Friday, we’ll take a break from MSG memories and look at what Phish has done on Veterans Day, November 11th, throughout their career. Since 1990, the band has only played three times on 11.11—in 1995 at The Fox in Atlanta, 1996 at Van Andel Arena in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and again at Van Andel in 1998! And lo and behold, these three nights have plenty of meat to compose a Friday playlist. The Fox show was the third of a three-night stand that kicked off the second half of a marathon (54 show) fall tour. Taking a week off after Halloween in Chicago, Phish reemerged in Atlanta and would wind their way over six plus weeks up to Albany. I’ve always thought of 11.11.95 as the strongest of the trifecta. The following year, Phish was on their Midwestern leg of Fall tour on the 11th of November, and they were at the very beginning of a metamorphosis. The band had just stunned their audience with their interpretation of Remain In Light for Halloween, and from then on, their slow transformation to groove-based playing was underway. In 1998, Phish had just crushed three nights at UIC Pavilion amidst a standout fall tour when they landed back at Van Andel, in a case of cosmic routing, on the same date they had played there in ’96. This show continued the band’s hot streak and featured one of the best second sets of tour. Let’s reminisce…
In the days following their transformative Halloween in Atlanta, Phish headed back to Florida with Karl Perazzo along for his third and fourth consecutive shows. After their well-documented escapade at Coral Sky in West Palm Beach, the band played this show at the University of Florida in Gainesville. Perazzo played his final two sets before Phish traveled to the Midwest, off and running on their percussive pathway to 1997. Remain In Light took immediate effect as the band continued their collaborative grooving. Check out the late-set “Tweezer” for a show-stopping highlight featuring this emerging style of improv.
Phish blew up this second set “Mike’s Song” in Tallahassee, Florida, the show before Halloween. The band got some down-low practice during “Mike’s” second jam as they grooved significantly on Talking Head’s “Houses In Motion.” With Karl Perazzo on board, this piece really took off.
VIDEO OF THE WEEKEND:
“Stash” 11.2.96- More from Phish’s upcoming Coral Sky release
Since Phish has shied away from the Pacific Northwest this time around, here are a couple shows from ’96, when Phish was a nationally touring outfit. These shows were part of an extensive west coast run that concluded Fall ’96. (This Portland show may have been posted once, but now it will be in the permanent archives as well.)
Darkness and light, opposite symbols that go to the very core of cultural mythology. The psychedelic journey often mirrors these poles, taking one from the eye of the beast to the most glorious, self-realizing peaks. Staring down the dark side in order to most clearly see the light of one’s new self. While Phish regularly condenses these introspective rites into three-hour sessions, on one occasion they had all night. In the swamps of Florida, on the brink of 2000, Phish finally had the setting to match their goal – an all-night affair with no restraints. In the Clifford Ball DVD extras, filmed in 1996, the band spoke of the “LG,” or the “Long Gig” they envisioned one day, where the band would just keep playing and playing, outlasting even the fans who stayed all night and beyond. They claimed it would happen; they’d get port-potties onstage, and one day they’d play their “Long Gig;” it was the ultimate goal. While the band exaggerated in typical fashion throughout the interview, the glimmer in their eyes told a different story. Through their goofy looks and hyperbole, one can see the sincerity behind their claims. They meant it. And finally, on December 31, 1999, Phish had their “LG.”
Big Cypress - 12.31.99
In their 1996 interview, Trey pondered what type of music the band would play after 60 or 70 hours straight. Well on this night, eight would have to be the test. And the results were other worldly. Producing jams that were connected by a certain ethereal quality, like a patient thread splicing together the band’s divine musical offerings. Without time constraints, and armed with their port-o-potty, Phish played as the spirit moved, extending jams as long as felt natural. While no single piece of music broke any record, (somewhat surprisingly), the night included many extended jams, first highlighted by the night’s opening features of “Disease,” “Bathtub Gin,” and a sublime “Twist > Caspian” which truly began to set the musical tone for the evening. Following next came one of the nights longer, thematic and defining jams, “Rock and Roll.”
The darkest chunk of the night kicked off with a scorching “Crosseyed,” which carried a melodic progression throughout the jam, and peaked with a percussive 40-minute apocalyptic grooves of “Sand > Quadraphonic Toppling,” bringing the many climactic late ’99 versions to an unquestionable head. Resolving this darkness with a multi-tiered “Slave,” the band commenced the jam without even a beat remaining until it became time to move. Phish let is all hang down on this night, playing a macrocosm of any regular show, we all finally had a place to be instead hallucinating in hotel rooms until the sun came up.
The Beginning of "Roses" (D.Clinch)
Perhaps the most connected piece of music came in the depths of the evening, as the band brought a reprise of “After Midnight” into one of the most hallowed musical passages of their career – set and setting considered. Powerful, soulful, music, channelled from the ether, where every note mattered as much as the next. The final peak of the night came as the sky began to turn a dark grey, foreshadowing the oncoming day. Phish sat into “Roses Are Free” for one of few times since their epic Nassau adventure in April ’98, but never had they again transcended the composition. But when they unshelved the song on the brink of dawn to bring in the millennium’s first sunrise, everyone knew this time would be different. Moving right out of the song into multi-faceted epic, the band passed through several planes of ambient, melodic, and, finally, deeply dark and churning music. The ultimate stage seemed as though the universe’s final plates were shifting into alignment for the onset of the new era.
Before the sun began to rise in earnest, the sky boasted stunning patterns of pink puffy clouds that nobody who witnessed will ever forget. Phish and the forces were at work again, this time collaborating on a soundtrack for the passage of time. And while that is what the entire night represented, the entry back into morning’s light boiled down to the second-only “Roses” jam.
And it was good.
Almost eight hours, or a lifetime later, Phish had finally done it. They had played their “LG.”
Continuing our tour of Summer 2010 venues, here’s Phish’s stop in Charlotte in the Summer of ’99. The second set really brings the heat with its 35 minute “2001 > Disease” and grows more abstract with some ambient sound-sculpting out of “My Left Toe.” After a guitar-driven “Bug,” a catalog of Phish grooves closes the night in one of the summers most infectious “YEMs.”
I: Back on the Train, What’s the Use?, Billy Breathes, My Mind’s Got a Mind of its Own, Sneakin’ Sally through the Alley, Axilla, Rift, Wolfman’s Brother, Maze, Loving Cup
II: 2001 > Down with Disease, My Left Toe > Wading in the Velvet Sea > My Left Toe > Bug, You Enjoy Myself
Never has one show affected the course of Phish’s musical direction as much as Halloween 1996. Deciding to cover Remain in Light, an album centered on percussive grooves, forced the band to acclimate to a different style of play. Phish approached its tracks from a rhythmic point of view; different from the arena rock psychedelia that captivated audiences throughout Fall ’95. As 1996 moved into its second half, Phish hovered in a holding pattern, ready for a fresh musical path, but not exactly sure what that would be. As a result, their initial east coast run of the Fall was nothing to write home about. But as they prepared to unveil The Talking Heads’ album for Halloween, Phish brought other musicians into the mix, and their extensive practice sessions pushed the band towards their destiny.
With the addition of Dave Grippo and Gary Gazaway on sax and trumpet, and more specifically, Santana’s percussionist, Karl Perazzo, the band worked on executing the collaborative patterns that were strewn throughout the record. Phish’s meticulous preparation for their third musical costume resulted in a masterfully interpretive set in which they killed the album from beginning to end.
During a 1998 interview with David Byrne for Sessions at West 54th, the band discussed each of their Halloween “costumes” and how they subsequently affected the band’s style. Page noted the profound influence of covering Remain In Light.
It may have had the biggest effect on us because we really learned the grooves and we really tried to get inside the grooves on the album…I took so much away from that. And the groove-oriented playing that we’ve done in the last few years – repetition, pulling things out, putting them back – all that sort of thing, a lot of it was from learning [Remain In Light].
The effects Page spoke of began to emerge at the very next show in West Palm Beach. To open the second set, Phish launched into an extended groove exploration of “Crosseyed > Antelope,” and the music sounded more like the rhythmic jamming that defined Remain In Light rather than the fast-paced, guitar-centric playing that peaked in ’95 and spilled into ’96.
10-31-96 The Omni (T.Wickersty)
“Crosseyed > Antelope” began a gradual evolution of the band’s sound throughout the rest of the fall. Starting to slow down and funk out, Phish started moving towards their groove-based playing of 1997 and beyond. When comparing the pre-Halloween shows with those after October, the changes leap out. Pieces that helped define this shift included the Auburn Hills “YEM” (11/9), the Grand Rapids “Tweezer” (11/11), the San Diego “Mike’s” (12/4), and the Vegas “2001”(12/6).
While ’96′s New Year’s Run didn’t necessarily capture this emerging style of jamming, the band was poised for a transformation come 1997. And during their winter tour of Europe in Markthalle, an intimate club in Hamburg, Germany, this evolution came together. The band references “Wolfman’s” from 3.1’s Markthalle show as the moment they realized the type of collaborative playing they had quested after. Everything simply clicked, bringing the community their first helping of “cow funk,” mastered and released on Slip Stitch, and Pass. And so it began – 1997’s rhythmic revolution was underway – but the process of transformation started late one Fall night in Atlanta – and Phish never looked back.
Capping a three-night stand at The Grey Hall, Phish threw down a four-song second set; this is the first half. Only the second version featuring the song’s new intro, this “Ghost” sits among the upper echelon of all-time renditions.
The night after Vegas ended, Phish made their way into the desert for the last show before the final four. Markedly better than the previous performance, “Piper > Guy Forget” (an old soundcheck song never performed live) held down the opening segment of the second set, while a thick “Camel Walk” and a solid “Bowie” closed it out. After Phoenix started the fateful final four of 2000.
I: First Tube, Wolfman’s Brother, Back on the Train, Beauty of My Dreams, Vultures, The Inlaw Josie Wales, Billy Breathes, Llama, Lawn Boy, Runaway Jim
II: Roses Are Free, Piper> Guy Forget*> When the Circus Comes, Camel Walk, Driver, David Bowie
Phish concluded Fall ’96 with a famed run down the west coast. Ending in Las Vegas on December 6th, these two shows came directly before- with a stop in Phoenix in between them. Both shows illustrate the band’s developing sound, as they finished the tour with far more musical direction than when it began. Converging in more groove-oriented playing, the transition to funk was underway. The LA “Tweezer” and San Diego “Mike’s” stand head and shoulders above the rest of their respective shows. Enjoy the weekend.