A Dying Breed

Posted in Uncategorized with the tags on June 3rd, 2014 by Mr.Miner
"David Bowie" 11.19.96 (Unknown)

“David Bowie” 11.19.96 (Unknown)

Though Phish picked up a new direction on Halloween ’96, they did not just up and drop their old style. Just as many jams became forward-looking pieces that hinted at the groove of ’97, many standout excursions still elevated via Trey’s lead guitar. And the sonic juxtaposition between the two styles was significant. The jams that foreshadowed the funk were informed by the Talking Heads ethos of collaboration on a single groove—each person contributed a part of one, overall musical structure. The other sort of post-Halloween highlight of Fall ’96 nodded to the breakneck, psych rock patterns that fueled their ’94 and ‘95 ascent. But most of all, these jams were anchored by Trey’s marksman-like lead playing. Remaining out front for almost the entirety of these retro-looking jams, Trey stepped back only to play his mini drum kit, another sound that tied these improvisations to the past rather than the future. But with their newfound inspiration from their holiday cover set, this retro style of jamming received a necessary jolt as well. The beautiful thing, however, about this juncture in Phish’s career, was their past was glorious and their future was brighter than they could possibly imagine.

For the five weeks of Fall ’96 that followed Halloween, these 95/96 hybrid jams were just as common, if not more so, than the 96/97-style excursions. Additionally, as evidenced by 11.6’s “Mike’s Song” from Knoxville and 11.13’s “Suzy Greenberg” from Minneapolis, Phish often mashed these two styles together in long-form jams that moved between improvisational approaches within single, era-morphing pieces. Whereas groove jams were a pushing of their own musical envelope at this time, these psych rock pieces with Trey at the helm represented Phish’s safe space on which they could comfortably rely.

SCA961122-HBOne can hear a totally different dynamic within these 95/96 hybrids as compared to their 96/97 counterparts. There was far more urgency behind these pieces, and the band communicated in a  totally different manner. During mid-90s arrival, Trey’s lead guitar was like a compass, always guiding the band in the right direction, and it was this time-tested formula that guided these jams. When jams opened up, most often, the rest of the band would fall back into support positions for their six-stringed assassin. One can hear Page and Mike play “behind” Trey, almost like jazz players comping a soloist. But Leo and Cactus often “comped” with whole melodic phrases of their own, a technique that formed a notably dense musical palette. Page stuck mostly to piano and organ during these pieces, using the 96/97 jams to incorporate his crunchier clavinet and electro sounds that would come into full bloom during the following years. Page and Mike often stepped to the forefront when Trey hopped on his kit, a common pattern in many extended Fall ’96 jams, but when he was done playing rhythms and picked up his axe, this dynamic returned quickly.

Fall of ’96 was a fascinating time in the Phish world. What began as a listless tour down the East Coast was totally transformed and invigorated by Halloween, took on a revitalized sense of adventure in the weeks thereafter. The band’s renewed inspiration shone through in their many groove-laced jams that dotted their westward road, but it also came through loud and clear in the final stretch of old-school, psych rock jams of their career. Though their Phish’s music would assume several stylistic shifts over the rest of their career, never again would we hear the improvisational remnants of their iconic peak of 1993-1995. Their sound changed forever.

Today, I present to you a playlist that illustrates this then-dying breed of old-school, psych rock jams as seen through the lens of late-Fall ’96.

Bathtub Gin” 11.7.96 II, Lexington, KY

A historic piece that is a perfect example of the style of jamming to which I am referring. If Trey is holding his guitar, he is leading the way brilliantly. And in this jam he does so in more ways than one.

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Simple” 11.8.96 II, Champaign, IL

After a stint on the kit, Trey picks up his guitar and annihilates the rest of this hard-edged jam.

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Split Open and Melt” 11.15.96 II, St.Louis, MO

Phish’s old-school style of improvisation truly catered to “Split,” as evidenced by this balls-to-the-wall version from St. Louis’s “M” set.

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Mike’s Song” 11.15.96 II, St.Louis, MO

This take-no-prisoners “Mike’s” jam leans strongly towards ’95 in pace and texture. And it is amazing.

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Simple” 11.18.96 II, Memphis, TN

In this well-known “Simple,” following his turn on the mini-kit, Trey takes the helm with a heart-wrenching solo and never lets go. Page offers gorgeous comps of piano and organ, but there is no question who is center stage in this one.

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David Bowie” 11.19.96 II, Nashville, TN

This extended, set-opening “David Bowie” illustrates the guitar-centric style of the 95/96 hybrids. Page provides some co-leads on piano in spots throughout the journey.

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Weekapaug Groove” 11.23.96 II,  Vancouver, BC

When Trey played like this, “Weekapug” really packed a wallop!

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Simple” 12.6.96 II, Las Vegas, NV

“Simple” was the most prolific jam of Fall ’96, and this final version from Vegas provides a third, very different take on Gordon’s anthemic piece.

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Mike’s Song” 12.28.96 II, Philadelphia, PA

This Mikes” moves into a blissier territory than most from the year on the heels of gorgeous lead playing by Trey and some equally beautiful piano co-leads by Page. (And it gave me a tenth track to round out the playlist.)

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Tweezer” 12.30.96 II, Boston, MA

Phish’s year end “Tweezer” was one of the last versions in which Trey would assume such a lead role and maintain it throughout.

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Bridging the Gap

Posted in Uncategorized with the tags , , on June 2nd, 2014 by Mr.Miner
Phishbill 10.31.96

Phishbill 10.31.96

When Phish concluded 1995 with a peak performance at Madison Square Garden on New Year’s Eve, nobody in their fanbase could have predicted that the band would return to the same room, two years to the day, and sound diametrically different. In fact, the same could be said for the their two-night MSG stand that nearly bisected these year-end holiday shows in late-October of 1996. There was still no hint as to the band’s oncoming metamorphosis, despite the fact that it would start in just over a week. In just the opposite vain, the band, for the first time in their career, had downshifted into a stylistic neutral following the end of their crowing year of ’95. That’s not to say didn’t play great shows. Virtually the entirety of their short US Summer Tour were standout shows. The Red Rocks, Deer Creek and Clifford Ball runs were stuff the of legend (and still are), while Hershey has come to light over the years as a show on the level with any of them. The only standard performances that aren’t still discussed today were their stateside return at Wolf Mountain, and Alpine Valley. But despite these standout Summer shows, Phish was treading stylistic water. They were riding out the wave of fast-paced psych rock that had delivered them to The World’s Most Famous Arena on the biggest night of the year, but they didn’t quite possess the same full-throttle nature as the previous Fall. Having only played a handful of headlining gigs in Europe while opening for Carlos Santana earlier in July, and with a resultingly truncated US Summer, they hadn’t had much on-stage time to develop a new direction before the start of Fall.

Billy Breathes

Billy Breathes

Phish released their sixth album, Billy Breathes, the day before kicking off Fall Tour ’96 in Lake Placid. And as they set out in support of this album (whose songs were virtually all live staples already), their shows—in retrospect—were pretty uninspired. This may seem hard to believe, but in the 11 shows that pre-date Halloween on Fall Tour, there are but three jams with all-time musical value eighteen years later—Pittsburgh’s “Maze,” Charlotte’s “Simple,” and Tallahassee’s “Mike’s Song” (whose treasure lies in its sub rosa rehearsal of Talking Heads’ “Houses in Motion”). That’s slim pickings for twenty-two sets of Phish, regardless of what year it is! Only two months removed from a stellar Summer run, Phish’s sense of purpose had faded and their shows were suffering.

But then came Halloween. A proverbial shot in the arm if there ever was one, Phish’s musical costume of the Talking Heads on October 31 in Atlanta, forever changed the course of their career. To learn “Remain in Light” for their third Halloween set, the band had to embrace a percussive style of groove-based playing with which they had only flirted. Composed with a far more democratic style Phish was used to up through 1995, “Remain in Light” gave the band a new way of looking at improvisation. This seminal performance was the first brick in the road to the band’s funk-based paradigm shift of 1997.  But five weeks of Fall Tour still remained!

Markthalle—Hamburg, GR

Markthalle—Hamburg, GR

And in these last five weeks, Phish’s new direction began emerge. The tempo of many jams slowed down. Trey became more and more enamored with his wah pedal, playing sparse and chunky chords structures for his band mates retort. Highlights began to bubble up at a far quicker rate—inspiration was clearly afoot—and they sounded far different than the music before Halloween. The thick grooves that we would come to know so well started to seep into Phish’s repertoire slowly but surely over the rest of Fall. This time period represents the beginning of a process that culminate on that fateful night in Hamburg, Germany, March 1, 1997—commemorated on “Slip, Stitch and Pass”—when everything “clicked” for the band, and they had fully realized their new direction.

During a 1998 interview with David Byrne, himself, for Sessions at West 54th St., Page looked back on Halloween ’96 and noted:

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 point of today’s playlist is to bridge the gap between Halloween and the the Hamburg’s March 1st arrival. I have selected tracks with which you can track the band’s stylistic progression over this time. Enjoy the selections. (And forgive the repetition of songs, there were only so many jams they were taking in this direction.)

Crosseyed > Antelope” 11.2.96 II, West Palm Beach, FL

The band was so amped about their Halloween set that they brought “Crosseyed”—and the whole Talking Heads style of jamming—directly to their next show. The results were legendary.

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Tweezer” 11.3.96 II, Gainesville, FL

Still with Karl Perazzo, acting as training wheels for their first excursions into full-blown groove, Phish continued their percussive style of play with this “Tweezer.”

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Mike’s Song” 11.6.96 II, Knoxville, TN

After a more conventional and high quality “Mike’s” jam (some with Trey on  mini-kit), the band breaks into an extended section of collaborative funk grooves, bobbing and weaving through some straight James Brown steez! This jam illustrates just how gargantuan of a pivot point that Halloween truly was, as only a week later, the band’s jamming sounds completely different.

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Tweezer” 11.11.96 II, Grand Rapids, MI

Here’s a “Tweezer” I’ve featured a lot before that sounds like it could be plucked from some point in ’97. Only 11 days after Halloween and the band was already turning the party out with dance music funkier than they had ever played before.

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Suzy Greenberg” 11.13.96 II, Minneapolis, MN

In between more torrid musical bookends to this long-form jam, Phish slows down into some serious wah-funk.

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Tweezer” 11.18.96 II, Memphis, TN

Gary Gazaway sits in on trumpet for this slowed down and swanky “Tweezer” jam. A cool diversion from the norm, but underneath Gazaway’s soloing, the band is plugging away at thick, collaborative grooves.

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Tweezer” 11.27.96 II, Seattle, WA

Within this standout “Tweezer” jam (and even within the composed song) you can feel the oncoming funk train slowly moving in. The pace has slowed and the music is thick. Toto, “Are we still in ’96?”

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Mike’s Song” 12.4.96 II, San Diego, CA

In this “Mike’s,” Trey starts in with the wah feel early in the first jam, and then again about ten minutes into this monster “Mike’s” jam, the band shifts into a very forward-looking musical feel without losing the harder edge of “Mike’s.”

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2001” 12.6.96 I, Las Vegas, NV

From the first set of Fall Tour’s finale, this is one of the very first jammed out “2001s,” and none had reached this length or absolute smoothness.

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Down With Disease” 2.17.97 II, Amsterdam, NL

I can still remember hearing this tape for the first time in college and thinking, “Who is this band?!” with beaming excitement. In this gooey “Disease,” the band is honing in on Cowfunk.

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2001” 2.18.97 II, Paris, FR

While this version may sound relatively common place after all these years, in the Winter of ’97, it was blazing a funkwards path.

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Down With Disease” 2.21.97 I, Florence, IT

Phish had begun to shift jam vehicles already, shying from “Mike’s” a tad more and leaning towards “Disease.” This version from Florence is brniging the band closer and closer to the goal of their collaborative quest. This one is an under the radar, first set gem.

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TTFF: 1996—The Transitional Year

Posted in Uncategorized with the tags , , , on March 8th, 2013 by Mr.Miner
8.4.96 Red Rocks

8.4.96 Red Rocks

Inspired by some recent banter in the Twittersphere…

Wilson > Disease” 8.14 I, Hershey, PA

Right off the bat in Hershey, the band dropped this opening sequence

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Mike’s > Lifeboy” 8.13 II, Noblesville, IN

An adventurous mid-’90s “Mike’s” in the yet-to-be developed Cornfields of Deer Creek.

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Tweezer” 8.14 II, Hershey, PA

Legend has always said it that this Herhsey show before The Clifford Ball wasn’t so hot. I never understood that assessment. Here’s another reason why.

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Mike’s Song” 10.29 II, Tallahassee, FL

A percussion-drenched “Houses in Motion” jam laces the latter part of this jam in the final show before their seminal “Remain In Light” Halloween set.

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The Great Curve” 10.31 II, Atlanta, GA

Speaking of “Remain in Light,” I saw this Tweet yesterday and I immediately agreed.

If you’re not familiar…

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Crosseyed > Antelope” 11.2 II, West Palm Beach, FL

The band began to shape-shift on the first night after Halloween as Karl Perazzo stayed on tour for a few.

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Tweezer” 11.11 II Grand Rapids, MI

A post-Halloween signpost on the long road to Cow Funk.

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2001 > Llama” 12.6 I, Las Vegas, NV

One of the early, jammed-out versions from the final night of tour.

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Tweezer” 12.1 II, Los Angeles, CA

Three “Tweezers” on Friday? I dig it. This is a monster from the tail end of Fall Tour.

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Slave to the Traffic Light” 8.17 II, Plattsburgh, NY

An all-time classic.

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TTFM: Summer ’96

Posted in Uncategorized with the tags , on May 21st, 2012 by Mr.Miner
Summer 1996—Pollack T-shirt

1996 Summer Tour T-Shirt (Pollock)

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!

Wilson > Disease” 8.14.96 I, Hershey, PA

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Reba” 8.4.96 II, Morrison, CO

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Antelope” 8.12.96 II, Noblesville, IN

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Split” 8.12.96 I, Noblesville, IN

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Tweezer” 8.14.96 II, Hershey, PA

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Harry Hood” 8.16.96 III, Plattsburgh, NY

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Mike’s > Lifeboy” 8.13.96 II, Noblesville, IN

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Slave” 8.17.96 II, Plattsburgh, NY

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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.

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A Fix From ’96

Posted in Uncategorized with the tags , on February 29th, 2012 by Mr.Miner
Summer 1996—Pollack T-shirt

1996 Summer Tour T-Shirt (Pollock)

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The Curtain > Tweezer” 8.6 II, Morrison, CO

A timeless piece of Red Rocks history.

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Mike’s > Lifeboy” 8.13 II, Noblesville, IN

They don’t make “Mike’s” this anymore.

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Harry Hood” 12.6 II, Las Vegas, NV

A heart-wrenching, end-of-tour classic from The Aladdin.

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Bathtub Gin” 11.7 II, Lexington, KY

The Rupp Arena “Gin”—an all-timer.

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Reba” 8.17 I, Plattsburgh, NY

After waking up from the first night of The Clifford Ball, the band continued the dream sequence with this blissful, afternoon “Reba.”

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Run Like an Antelope” 11.24 I, Portland, OR

A ferocious and under-the-radar version that put an exclamation point on the first set in PDX like a musical freight train.

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TTFF: 11/18 History & Afterparty Update

Posted in Uncategorized with the tags , , , , , on November 18th, 2011 by Mr.Miner

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:

12/29/2011 @ The Irish Times

254 W 31st St. (b/w 7th and 8th Ave)

Less than 1 block from MSG!

The Book Signing: 4 pm – 6 pm

The Afterparty: Post-show – 3 am – $5 cover charge

Come one, come all!

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(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.

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Split Open and Melt” 11.18.94 I

This jam vividly illustrates the band’s ferocious jamming of November ’94. Communicating as well as ever, they ridiculously shred this version to pieces.

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2001 > Simple” 11.18..96 II

One of the first jammed out “2001s” leads into a sublime “Simple” led by Trey’s cathartic lead playing.

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Reba” 11.18.95 I

This soaring rendition flies way under the radar in terms of ’95 “Rebas,” but can hold its own against the best of them.

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Tweezer > Contact” 11.18.94 II

A quintessential Fall ’94 “Tweezer” starts with some snarling textures before the band hits a hard-edged “Wedge” tease, then settles into a groove and moves far beyond it into totally original places.

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Wolfman’s > Lizards” 11.18.98 II

The band moves from the funk into an extended and groovy take on their ’98 melodic ambient style before merging with “Lizards.”

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David Bowie” 11.18.98 I

This extended first set closer lit a fire under the band for the second half.

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You Enjoy Myself” 11.18.95 II

This experimental 30-minute beast is best known for its “Brick House” jam, but offers a whole lot more.

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Slave to the Traffic Light” 11.18.98 II

One of my personal favorites, much of this jam’s beauty lies in its initial section of delicate interaction. Flowing from start to finish, Trey shines throughout, bringing the jam to a massive peak.

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TTFF: 11.11.11

Posted in Uncategorized with the tags , , , , on November 11th, 2011 by Mr.Miner

9.14.11 - Essex Junction, VT G.Lucas / webcast)

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…

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Mike’s Song” 11.11.95 I

This raucous jam kicked off the show in the ornate Fox Theatre after a short “Cars, Trucks, Busses” opener.

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Ghost” 11.11.98 II

This rarely talked about “Ghost” came as the second set closer at Van Andel, and is one of the most impressive versions of the tour.

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Tweezer” 11.11.96 II

A jam that was ahead of its time with sections that sound like they could be plucked from Fall ’97.

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2001 > David Bowie” 11.11.95 II

This ferocious “Bowie” vividly illustrates the band’s creative psychedelia of Fall ’95, as they rode with a missile on their back towards December.

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Halley’s > Simple > Walk Away” 11.11.98 II

One of the greatest “Halley’s Comets” of the song’s late-90′s renaissance that moves from rock to groove into lunacy…and then into “Simple.”

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Gumbo” 11.11..98 I

This slow and methodical standout often hides out of sight, tucked in the beginning of the the first set of Van Andel ’98.

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Stash” 11.11.95 I

The dark and overpowering Phish of Fall ’95. Trey goes on quite the rampage in this version.

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Slave to the Traffic Light” 11.11.96 II

The melodic endpoint of a relatively dark second set.

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Weekend Nuggets: Florida ’96

Posted in Uncategorized with the tags , on September 18th, 2010 by Mr.Miner

DOWNLOAD OF THE WEEKEND:

11.3.1996 O’Connell Center, Gainesville, FL < Torrent

11.3.1996 O’Connell Center, Gainesville, FL < Megaupload

O'Connell Center - Gainesville, FL

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.

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Jam of the Weekend:

Mike’s Song” 10.29.96 II

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.

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VIDEO OF THE WEEKEND:

“Stash” 11.2.96 - More from Phish’s upcoming Coral Sky release

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Weekend Nuggets: Pacific NW ’96

Posted in Uncategorized with the tags , on May 22nd, 2010 by Mr.Miner

DOWNLOADS OF THE WEEKEND:

Portland '96

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.)

11.24.96 Memorial Coliseum, Portland, OR < Torrent

11.24.96 Memorial Coliseum, Portland, OR < Megaupload

I: Poor Heart, AC/DC Bag, All Things Reconsidered, Bouncing Around the Room, Reba, Character Zero, Strange Design, Taste, I Didn’t Know, Sample in a Jar, Run Like an Antelope

II: Also Sprach Zarathustra > Sparkle, David Bowie, A Day in the Life, You Enjoy Myself, Loving Cup, Suzy Greenberg

E: Ginseng Sullivan, Cavern
Source: Unknown

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11.27.96 Key Arena, Seattle, WA < Torrent

11.27.96 Key Arena, Seattle, WA < Megaupload

I: Julius, My Friend, My Friend, Ya Mar, Chalk Dust Torture, The Sloth, Uncle Pen, Free, Theme From the Bottom, Bold As Love

II: Down with Disease > Jesus Just Left Chicago, Scent of a Mule, Tweezer > Sweet Emotion Jam > Down with Disease, The Star Spangled Banner, Fire

E: Waste, Tweezer Reprise

Source: Unknown

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Jam of the Weekend:

Bathtub Gin” 11.7.96 II

A beast from Rupp Arena in Lexington, KY.

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VIDEO OF THE WEEKEND:

“Sneakin Sally” 10.31.98 - Las Vegas, NV

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From Darkness Into Light

Posted in Uncategorized with the tags , , , on March 24th, 2010 by Mr.Miner

Big Cypress Poster

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.”

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“The Long Gig” – Clifford Ball Extras, 1996

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Jam of the Day:

Roses Are Free” 12.31.99 > 1.1.00

Here’s the epic piece that brought darkness into the dawn of the millennium, and a sampling of the newly circulating Cypress FOB source, taboot.

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DOWNLOAD OF THE DAY:

7.7.1999 Verizon Wireless Amp, Charlotte, NC < Torrent

7.7.1999 Verizon Wireless Amp, Charlotte, NC < Megaupload

Verizon - Charlotte

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

E: Possum* > Funky Bitch*

*Derek Trucks on slide guitar

Source: Schoeps cmc6/mk4v > Lunatec V2 > Tascam DA-P1 (@ 48 kHz)

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