The Story of “The” Ghost

Posted in Uncategorized with the tags , , , on May 23rd, 2014 by Mr.Miner

20100616-000718-776261“Ghost” is a composition that Phish wrote in 1997 to facilitate their newly found passion for equitable groove-building. At this time, Phish’s musical focus fundamentally shifted from their past. No longer did they thrive on frenetic, guitar-led jams and scorching peaks, but focused on collective, group jamming amidst textured dance music. Debuted in the first show of  Summer ’97, “Ghost” jams became the band’s primary vehicle of funk exploration. “Tweezer” was barely played this summer. “Sand” didn’t exist. And while Phish, no doubt, inserted funk jams into just about every improvisational sequence, “Ghost” was the portal through which their sonic transformation truly took place. Though this protean jam made the stylistic shifts of the late-’90s right alongside the band, its conceptual raison d’etre was realized three years later—and 14 years ago yesterday—at Radio City. On May 22, 2000, Phish not only played their most accomplished version of “Ghost” to this day, they informed it—start to finish—with the democratic ethos that defined their groove transformation of 1997-2000.

As I listened to this magnum opus with close attention yesterday, something that never registered with me came to a glaring forefront—Trey played virtually no lead guitar in the 27 minutes that composed the Radio City “Ghost.” Mike played a serious leadership role throughout this jam as it morphed between feels, but most particularly at its onset, where the band coyly dripped into one of the filthiest—and most equitable—groove sessions of their career. Where Trey often took the lead right out of the gates in “Ghost,” this time he simply laid back and didn’t play at all, allowing his bandmates to craft a pornographic dance groove.  And when he did decide to enter, it wasn’t to play guitar hero, it was to be a fourth layer in the groove, filling in space with sparse rhythmic hits. As he offered his sound into the textured music, the whole band locked into each others ideas and the result was legendary. Radio City might as well have been Studio 54 as the band laid into a dance explosion.

Radio City 2000 (Unk.)

Radio City 2000 (Unk.)

As their first investigation of groove concluded, Fishman slid back into a more conventional “Ghost” rhythm, and the band sounded as though they could have been launching into the beginning of the jam once again. This brief return the the song’s theme—during which Trey played lead—served as a coy reset of the jam from which the band launched once again, this time into a very different feel. But even in this second movement, Trey remained very much a part of the whole, offering, first, a repetitive and glitchy, melodic phrase, and then playing off it and tweaking it for the duration. This is a quintessential 2000 Phish jam, focused on intricate layering, innovative sound, and whole-band, drone textures in the aftermath of Big Cypress.

A single guitar lick acted like a lasso, pulling the band out of this jam and back into “Ghost’s” theme for the second time in this Herculean piece. Trey resumed his position as lead for this section, but just as one might have thought it was heading for a rock-based, guitar-led peak, Phish took another left turn. Trey backed off his solo and began to offer rhythm chords that followed a very emotive progression. At this juncture, the band moved back into full improv mode prompted by Trey’s change, and Page came to the forefront, playing rolling chords along the same progression that Trey had started. This third movement takes on a reflective feel that seemed incredibly appropriate as this “Ghost” represented the band’s first monumental excursion since the Everglades. I’m sure being that deep in a jam again brought them back to their peak experience in Florida, and it came through powerfully in the music. Mike, once again, stepped into the lead  in this section, as Trey slid into a spiral lick with intermittent rhythm chops. In retrospect, it really sounds like they were having a musical conversation on stage about where they were in their career in the Spring of 2000.

2000-05-22mo3The band finally pushed through into a fourth and final feel, an ambient passage that rode the same emotional wave. Trey offered a quiet, high-register solo over an aural blanket that infused the final portion of the Radio City “Ghost” with an undeniably spiritual feel. And the band—still fully locked and improvising—flowed, together, to a final resting point that sounded like musical poetry.

At no point during this nearly half-hour odyssey did Phish fall back on any musical conventions. Not for a second. They were in full destruction mode the from the first note to the last. I still remember the feeling that I had when the opening notes of a late-set “Ghost” oozed into the space of Radio City Music Hall. It was haunting and inspiring feeling. But it was no comparison to the feeling in the building upon the jam’s final notes. Following almost five months of dormancy after the most historic performance of their career, Phish had once again exploded in virtuosic creativity, throwing down the defining version of their late ‘90s dance anthem in an Art Deco theatre in the middle of New York City. And it was the ultimate realization of their late-’90s shift to collaborative, groove-based playing. Once and for all-time, Phish had told us “The Story of the Ghost.”

Radio City Soundcheck (C.Taylor Crothers)

Radio City Soundcheck (C.Taylor Crothers)

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Winged-music-noteJam of the Day:

Ghost” 5.22.00 II, NYC, NY SBD

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TTFT: US Summer 2000

Posted in Uncategorized with the tags , on May 31st, 2012 by Mr.Miner

6.16.2009—The Fox (Brian Kisida)

Over the holiday weekend, I finally got excited for Phish tour. I thought it wasn’t going to happen this year—or happen at the last minute—but, sure enough, it happened. With Worcester only a week away, the summer tour that has been in the distance for so long is just around the corner—and it feels great. All I know for sure is that next Thursday, we’ll be in front of Phish again, and right now, that’s good enough for me! Rumors of band rehearsals have bubbled to the surface and if I were a betting man, I’d place a fairly large wager on the opening show blowing up. With so much energy in the air, opening nights of tours have always been special occasions, and after such a long lay off, this one will carry even more intensity. Not only will we reunite with the band, but with so many friends that we only see when Phish plays music—a multi-pronged homecoming in the metropolitan city of Worcester. Kicking off this summer indoors certainly feels like a “do-over” for the New Year’s Run, and the band can easily pack more excitement into these two upcoming shows than was strewn thinly over nine sets in December. And it wouldn’t surprise me if that happened. But in the mean time, here are ten tunes from Summer 2000’s US tour. Enjoy!

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2001 > Sand” 6.22.00 II, Antioch, TN

Phish came back from Japan and exploded in a monstrous groove session to kick off set two of their US opener.

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Tweezer” 6.24.00 I, Atlanta, GA

The last great “Tweezer” for a while…

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Split Open and Melt” 6.25.00 II, Raleigh, NC

The one highlight from one of the least impressive shows I’ve ever attended.

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Mike’s Song” 6.28.00 II, Holmdel, NJ

A piece of menacing artistry.

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Birds -> Catapult” 6.29.00 II, Holmdel, NJ

A twisted bit of psychedelia laced with teases of “A Love Supreme.”

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Ghost” 7.1.00 II, Hartford, CT

This jam closed the show and turned into the highlight of the show.

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Bathtub Gin” 7.3.00 I, Camden, NJ

A largely forgotten jam in a stellar two-night stand.

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Disease -> WMGGW” 7.15.00 II, Columbus, OH

The most significant slice of Summer’s last show.

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TTFF: Phish2k—Summer Tour

Posted in Uncategorized with the tags , , on February 17th, 2012 by Mr.Miner

10.23.2010 (Dave Lavery)

The Summer of 2000—moving from Tokyo, Japan to Columbus, Ohio—represented Phish’s last true push of creative music. Though the band’s playing in Japan was on another level than in the states, the band, nonetheless, cranked through a solid summer tour—their last until 2003. Once the fall came, Phish shows turned less consistently creative, and standout jams came less frequently as the band moved towards hiatus. Today’s playlist features some of the tour’s lesser known jams to go along with a couple fan favorites, all arranged chronologically as they came in the Summer of 2000. Enjoy ten more tunes as the wait for summer dates continues!

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Piper” 6.10.00 I, Tokyo, JP

The only “Piper” of Japan happened in a big way in the first set of Tokyo’s second show.

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Theme -> Dog Faced Boy” 6.16.00 II, Osaka, JP

This unfinished “Theme” followed a massive “Runaway Jim” (featured last week) in the band’s final show in the far east.

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Tweezer” 6.24.00 I, Atlanta, GA

This sunset “Tweezer” from Lakewood is one of my personal favorites.

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Bathtub Gin” 6.28.00 I, Holmdel, NJ

A spectacular and triumphant version that Trey leads to the mountaintop.

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Birds -> Catapult > Heavy Things” 6.29.00 II, Holmdel, NJ

Phish dropped this stellar piece of improv to open the final set of PNC’s two night stand. The dark and twisted “Birds” jam has hints of Coltrane’s “A Love Supreme” laced throughout .

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Ghost” 7.1.00 II, Hartford, CT

This scorching, second-set closing “Ghost” snuck in the door at the last minute to highlight the show.

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Limb by Limb -> 2001” 7.6.00 II, Toronto, ON

A dark horse combo that got things moving after setbreak in a quick stop north of the border.

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Split Open and Melt” 7.7.00 II, Burgettstown, PA

Though not with the unbridled fury of 1994, Phish could still rip a serious “Melt” in 2000. Can they still?

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Mike’s Song” 7.14.00 II, Columbus, OH

A driving and sinister jam transforms into beauty, representing one of the last—if not the final—versions of “Mike’s” with two jams.

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Down With Disease -> WMMGW” 7.15.00 II, Columbus, OH

Summer’s dramatic “farewell jam” came at the top of the second set, while sliding smoothly and unexpectedly into “While My Guitar Gently Weeps.”

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“Go-Suto” (Japanese: Ghost)

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

Osaka 2000

As soon as Phish debuted “Ghost” in their first show of Summer ’97, the song became a staple jam vehicle for Phish. Moving with the band’s musical direction of the late-90s, “Ghost” featured groove, rock, and ambient jams depending on the era, almost always providing a highlight for any show in which it appeared. And then in Phish’s second show of 2000, at Radio City Music Hall in New York City, the band rewrote the record books for their late-90’s song. Exploring the hyper-complexities of groove and moving far beyond them into completely transcendent music, Phish threw down, perhaps, the greatest version ever played.

After such a blowout, one would figure the band continued magnifying the song for the rest of the summer, let alone the rest of the year. But they didn’t. While the Phish played solid “Ghosts” in Hartford (7.1), Chicago (9.22), and Denver (9.27), the band only took out the song six times after Radio City. And only one truly stood out – 6.15.00. Phish let loose on the final standout “Ghost” of the pre-hiatus years on the penultimate night of Japan tour in Osaka, Japan. Towards the end of the first set, the band unveiled the only Japanese version of the song, and as it turned out, the last truly great version of 2000.

6.11.00 - Tokyo (E.Sakai)

In Big Cat, a small club, elevated six floors amidst a shopping plaza, the audience squeezed into the small, square room. The predominantly Japanese audience packed it in, as the concept of personal space differed from that in the states – a lot. Before long, a combination of fans began filling the room with blown-up balloons, like a life-sized lottery bin. But when the music started, silence fell, and everyone’s focus turned squarely to the stage.

After a routine four-song, set-opening sequence, Trey quietly initiated a series of siren loops, opening the only “Ghost” of the Pacific. Following the composed section, the band oozed into the piece with a methodical, bass-led groove. Taking ample time to settle into a thick rhythmic canvas, the band pondered the early course of the jam before diving in. Mike took the melodic lead, while Trey and Page added effects, beginning the excursion in a sparse dance pattern. Trey coyly began to pick a melody within the groove, very much blending with whole, yet bringing a whole new element to the table.  Amidst a increasingly murkier plane, Fishman hit a disco-like groove that Mike immediately latched onto, bringing memories of the infectious dance odyssey weeks ago at Radio City. Page and Trey began to gently toy with the beat, and all of a sudden, the band rolled into subconscious territory.

6.15.00 Big Cat Ticket

6.15.00 - Big Cat Ticket

Offering independent melodic ideas along these uptempo rhythms, Trey stepped into prominence, before long, playing an open chord progression that would guide the band through an upbeat, out-of-character second half of the jam. The rest of his band mates picked up on his idea, gradually building a triumphant build over these changes, Meanwhile, after setting the musical plate, Trey transformed into the a cathartic waterfall of notes and melody, peaking the piece in a rolling, cyclical fashion. Uniting all the energy in the room, Phish took sailing on the majestic seas of bliss, drawing out the apex of the jam in an all-out celebration of the human spirit. After the peak, the band seamlessly slid back into “Ghost,” bringing this version to a close.

The Osaka “Ghost”  became an immediate highlight of Japan 2000, and without anyone knowing at the time, represented the last pre-hiatus triumph for the song. This moving piece of music goes under-circulated due to its international origins, and has thus been under-appreciated over the years. Everyone knows the Radio City “Ghost,” and rightfully so. This one came next.

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Jam of the Day:

Ghost” 6.15.00 I Rmstr

This standout version of the song has recently been remastered by Phish Thoughts reader, “Kenny Powers,” and is available to download by clicking the orange title above.

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DOWNLOAD OF THE DAY:

5.23.00 Roseland, NYC, NY SBD < Torrent

5.23.00 Roseland, NYC, NY SBD < Megaupload

Roseland Ballroom - NYC

During and after the first Radio City show, fans lined the sidewalks of Manhattan to get tickets for Phish’s just-announced show at Roseland the night after. The intimate gig was filmed for VH-1’s “Hard Rock Live,” and though the show was relatively jam-less, the event provided a special night in the spring of 2000.

I: AC/DC Bag, Wilson, First Tube, Ya Mar, Mike’s Song > Simple > It’s Ice, When the Circus Comes, Back on the Train, Gotta Jibboo, Taste, Sleeping Monkey

II: Punch You In the Eye, Twist, Waste, Piper, You Enjoy Myself, Run Like an Antelope, Train Song, Bug

E: Boogie On Reggae Woman, Cavern

Source: SBD

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Retro-Review: Hibiya Outdoor Theatre – Tokyo

Posted in Uncategorized with the tags , , on April 27th, 2010 by Mr.Miner

Here is another in my series of Japan 2000 retro-reviews. This story recounts Phish’s daytime show in Tokyo, their third gig in three days. I wrote this later written that evening. Enjoy!

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6/11/00 – Phish: Hibiya Outdoor Theatre, Tokyo, Japan

Hibiya Outdoor Theatre - 6.11.00

Hibiya Outdoor Theatre - 6.11.00

Sometimes we experience magic. Sometimes we hold witness to events that far surpass the power in any one of us, and elevate our appreciation of life and all its amazement to the next level. Today was one of these days.

The day began quite rainy as fans flocked to the Hibiya Outdoor Theatre, a miniature amphitheatre within proximity to Tokyo’s Royal Palace in Hibiya Park. Merely twelve hours after the Zepp show ended, many Japanese and American fans, alike, filed into the venue around 1pm. An hour later, the Japanese jam-band, Big Frog, would take the stage. As I entered the grounds everyone seemed to embody positive and mellow states of minds, despite the gloomy weather. As Big Frog played, Japanese and American fans mingled about the park, talking and meeting each other, many for the first time. Everyone shared an excitement for Phish’s upcoming set in this beautiful location, and the collective energy filled the air with an atmosphere of total comfort, friendliness, and camaraderie. Big Frog ended their well-received set at 3pm, as the rain seemed to be letting up.

Phish took the stage about 3:45 pm to the enthusiastic cheers of the crowd of 2,200 predominantly Japanese fans. As soon as they came out, you could see the look in the band’s eyes – they shared the same excitement with the fans, thankful to be playing such a special locale. A huge grin broke out over Trey’s face as he ripped into “First Tube.” The crowd erupted as Phish charged through the opener, while Trey bounced with joy. Phish kept the fast-paced rhythms rolling with “Punch You In the Eye,” and this fierce opening had the crowd going berzerk. The energy exchanged shared between the fans, Japanese and American alike, became palpable, as ear to ear smiles dotted the crowd. After the fiery couplet of the show, the band slowed it down with “Horn.”

More notably, a quick “Ginseng Sullivan,” Trey played the opening riff of “Stash” for the first time since 12.12.99, during Hartford’s first set. Sorely missed from the bands all-night 8 hour millennium concert in Big Cypress, FL and and the Radio City weekend in May, the crowd grew visibly excited to reacquaint with the classic vehicle. The “Stash” jam began as Trey came out of the composed section weaving dark melodies around the bands groove. The piece remained a Trey-led improvisation, culminating with a screeching solo that captivated the audience. “Dirt” served as a cool down from the intense “Stash,” and out of the ending, Phish built the intro to “Possum.” This “Possum” remained anchored to blue-grass-rock rather than the more psychedelic “Possums” of yesteryear, nonetheless, the crowd erupted with each change and chorus.

Hibiya - 6.11.00

I cannot stress enough my amazement at how many Japanese fans knew every change, note, melody, and stop to all of Phish’s songs. These folks are not passive observers, but extremely active listeners and dancers. The excitement of the event continued to build as they dropped only the second “It’s Ice” since Cleveland ’98 (also played at Roseland ‘00). Nailing the intricacies of the song, the “Ice” grooves felt so refreshing after such a continued absence in the setlist. The first half ended with the band’s first performance of “Farmhouse” since the album was released on May 16th. Trey drew out the end of the song with an extended solo before thanking the crowd and taking a bow.

The set break immediately brought the realization that ever since Phish had taken the stage, the rain had stopped entirely! Albeit grey as San Francisco in January, it was dry and cool, making for a nice change of pace from the hot and stuffy Tokyo clubs of the previous two nights. The set break vibes flowed purely positive, as all Americans were at a loss to describe the unbelievable feelings and sheer international ‘Phishiness’ that filled the air. Japanese fans and Americans relaxed together, waiting for the second set with huge anticipation. Humanity was at its best today, as cultural bridges were built through the power of music. The feelings and emotion floating around the colorful atmosphere far outweighed the gloominess of the weather, and all involved seemed completely in tune with what was happening.

Club Quattro - 6.13.00

After a fairly long break, the band retook the stage, still fully immersed in daylight, and jumped into “Birds of a Feather.” This “Birds” showcased some smoking whole-band patterns and particularly hot improvisation by Trey. The version remained within the realms of a “Birds” jam, but fully developed, unlike the shorter “album” versions of Fall ’98. The dark feel of Birds gave way to the opening build of a bombastic “Free.” The band moved through the composed section methodically, launching into the jam with thick, bass-driven grooves that had the crowd completely freaking out. After Trey offered some settling rhythm licks for the first part of the jam, he started playing melodies in a dissonant and sinister tone, building the creeping jam in small increments with sublime lines. This jam featured two separate soloing sections for Trey before slowly building back to the “floating in a blimp a lot….” ending. This is an upper-echelons versions of “Free,” evoking memories of Sandstone ’99.

A powerful “Bug” followed “Beauty of my Dreams,” in the climactic vein of Roseland’s second set closer. The band hit the top of the jam perfectly, and slid into the intro of “David Bowie.” This “Bowie,” was quite similar in style to the last one played at Radio City, with fluid, groove-based improv from start to finish. Featuring silky smooth bass lines, and some outstanding rhythm offerings by Trey, this “Bowie” built to a ridiculous apex and drew an emotional reaction from the audience. This “Bowie” is a keeper for sure, especially for those who favor dancier “Bowies” to the more intricate or abstract ones. Los Lobos’ “When the Circus Come to Town” came next, placed perfectly as a reflective moment on the slew of dark improvisation that typified the set so far.

Hibiya 6.11.2000 (J.Greene)

Phish scripted an idyllic ending with the emotional release of “Harry Hood” As they moved through the composed section, I looked out over the crowd of Japanese folks who seemed to me the happiest people in the world at that point, many moving with each progression of the song. As the jam settled into the most sacred space, the crowd seemed to raise their arms in unison, opening themselves up to the surreal magic that flowed so greatly from the band and fans alike. As the jam began to build, the crowd looked above as the clouds began to break and the first rays of yellow sunlight broke through the late afternoon sky. This scene seemed to be orchestrated by the band and nature alike, and everyone felt the mystical of the rays of light coming from both the sky and the stage. This second consecutive glowstick-less “Hood” built for what seemed like an eternity, as all involved basked in the beauty at hand. A stupendous “Hood” reached amazing levels of melody and harmony, while the anthem provided the absolute perfect ending to this set, and all involved were united in this moment. Pure magic I tell you, pure Phish magic.

The adoring crowd gave the band a large ovation following this long and ultimately triumphant jam. The band stayed off stage briefly and returned for an extended rendition of “Character Zero,” featuring some Hendrix-like wails form Trey. This version ripped hard and midway through, a large rainbow appeared above the stage to the left. Band and crowd alike felt the special intensity of the moment as nobody wanted to leave. The rainbow seemed like an affirmation of the day’s beauty and transcendence by the forces above, and all seemed perfectly in place. Upon finishing the show, Trey exclaimed, “Arrigato!” several times, and took a traditional bow to the adoring sea of Japanese fans.

It’s quite hard to translate all the transcendent energy that existed yesterday through a keyboard, paper, or pen. It’s the stuff dreams are made of, an eye-opening experience for the ages. Sometimes differences in culture and language can be obliterated by the beautiful and unifying language of music. The shared experience of the couple thousand people in attendance today will never be forgotten by a single person, a true venture into the human spirit and a reminder that we are all connected souls traveling through this world. Sometimes, in the hustle and bustle of modern day society, people lose sight of universal realities.  Today reminded everyone of these shared truths that are so often forgotten, and reminded everyone that the life is an  amazing and privileged journey that we are all riding together.

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Jam of the Day:

Seven Below > Ghost” 11.28.09 II

This breakthrough highlight of ’09 just doesn’t get old.

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DOWNLOAD OF THE DAY:

5.27.94 The Warfield, San Francisco, CA < Torrent

5.27.94 The Warfield, San Francisco, CA < Megaupload

The Warfield - San Francisco

A classic show from San Franisco’s iconic theatre; this one features the debut of “Simple”

I: Wilson, Runaway Jim, Foam, Bouncing Around the Room, David Bowie, If I Could, Punch You In the Eye, Harry Hood, Golgi Apparatus

II Suzy Greenberg, Peaches en Regalia, My Friend, My Friend, Reba, The Lizards, Julius, Nellie Kane*, My Mind’s Got a Mind of its Own*, Mike’s Song > Simple** > O Mio Babbino Caro^, Possum

E: Fire

* w/ Morgan Fitcher on fiddle, acoustic, ** debut

^ w/ opera singer Andrea Baker (unmiced)

Source: (FOB) Schoeps CMC5/Mk4 > Sonosax SX-M2 > Apogee AD-500E > Sony D-10 @48 KHz

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Fukuoka 2000: A Retro-Review

Posted in Uncategorized with the tags , on April 20th, 2010 by Mr.Miner

Live Phish 04: 6.14.00, Fukuoka, JP

As some of you may or may not know, I worked with JamBase back when the site sprouted wings around 2000. When Phish toured Japan that year, I served as the their pacific correspondent, writing reviews at the crack of dawn after partying in Japanese clubs all-night. When my friends went to sleep, I routinely headed to the hotel business center to write up a piece to send off to Andy and Ted, keeping stateside fans in the loop. Due to the unedited nature of these reviews, they often rambled, providing more of a play-by-play account of the goings-on in Japan from the front line.

Recently, I’ve revisited these pieces to clean them up for future use, and I thought some of them would make interesting retro-accounts of Phish’s last gasp in 2000. Little did we know at the time, that the band would soon slide downhill. Our last experiences before Japan had been December ’99 > Big Cypress > Radio City; a pretty amazing run of music. In our minds, Phish was flying high on their first legitimate tour of Japan, and we were along for the far eastern adventure. I wrote the following account the night of the now-legendary Fukuoka show – 6.14.00 – after kicking it around the corner from Drum Logos in a club, ironically, called “The Tripp Factory,” which hosted an impromptu post-show affair for Japanese and American fans alike. I’ve edited a bit for tightness, but the review remains largely the same.

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While Phish puts on engaging shows each and every night, sometimes a second set comes around that is united in concept from beginning to end; a set that stands above a mere collection of songs and jams. This type of set is defined by its thematic coherence; a certain direction from the opening to the closing note. These are the musical adventures that define the essence of Phish; the reasons we jive and strive to get to each and every show. Last night at Drum Logos in Fukuoka, Phish threw down what is sure to be one of the best, if not THE best set of the summer – including all shows yet to be played! Relentless grooves fused with spacey psychedelia, as Phish turned the small club into a futuristic dance hall for seventy-five minutes. Let’s get down to business here, you need to know exactly what you missed.

First off, the venue was slightly larger than Club Quattro the night before, boasting a capacity of about 650 people. Upon arriving, fans could barely give their extras away, as 80 tickets were still unsold! The club had a multi-tiered dance floor, with three different levels, and a small balcony hung above, where the tapers and lighting board set up. The overwhelming feel of the room was blackness; the floors, walls, and balcony were all solid black, a potential foreshadowing of the music that would ensue.

In a great first set, opening with “Carini,” “Curtain > Cities” (!?), the improvisational highlights emerged in “Gumbo > Llama” and “Split Open and Melt.” The second set was primed and ready to explode, yet no one in the room had any idea of what would go down when Phish took the stage. The second half opened with the most extended version of “Get Back On the Train” to date, as the band stretched out the ending rhythms far longer than usual. Staying well within the structure of the song, the band warmed everyone’s legs with some bluegrass-funk that served as a table setter for the main course.

As “Get Back On the Train” wound down, they sparked the ever-changing intro of “Twist.” A spiced-up beginning, featuring a harder dive into the song, readied the crowd for the sublime improvisation about to unfold. As the jam began, Trey led the band through some “Twist-based” patterns, before fading a bit into the musical background while Mike stepped up to lead. The music progressed into an ambient space, much in the style of the cerebral “Twist” from Big Cypress, but without Trey playing a beautiful melody over top. Instead, Trey colored the music with textures, tonal colors, and waves of sound rather than straight ahead playing. This gave the piece a much more eerie and psychedelic feel, and as the band progressed, the jam continued to get more and more abstract, yet always remaining loosely connected to a groove – albeit some incredibly “out there” grooving. At this point, many people in the crowd were thinking that this would be the second coming of “Twist > 2001,” and as Page brought in his own futuristic sounds, the launch seemed inevitable.

But well into the jam, at its most formless point, the band slowly emerged out of the murky space with the return into the end of “Twist!” As they concluded the song, however, the band picked up right where they left off, amidst a similar spacey groove. This started very quietly, and Mike hinted at a more driving bass line to come. As he picked up the volume of his line, many fans recognized this as a very slowed down intro to “Ghost.” Yet, tonight, “Ghost” wasn’t to be, and the brief  hint at the song’s melody lasted for only a minute or so.

Drum Logos in the Distance (J.Greene)

At this point, Mike began to lay down some classic Gordeaux lines, as he took responsibility for both the rhythm and melody of the jam, while Trey continued his role providing textures and tonal color. Meticulously, Trey blended his musical thoughts into the mix as the band’s momentum continued to gradually build. As Gordon began throwing down more vicious bass lines, he was virtually soloing while leading the band. Fishman slowly progressed out of his ambient beats, holding down a tight pocket with Mike, and the entire feel of the jam became dark and sinister. From this point forward, this nameless piece of music exists as one of the nastiest Phish groove sessions that has recently gone down in public view – straight-up futuristic funk, all on a tiny island in the Pacific! This evil groove took on a life of its own, as it morphed from an ambient space walk into a psychedelic bass-driven excursion that moved your brain as much as your body. As the band basked in their exploratory session, Mike hinted at “Walk Away,” nudging the band to build the beginning of the old-school, James Gang cover. The crowd soon picked up on this transition and exploded in cheer, congratulating Phish on the epic music that had just ensued.

“Walk Away’s” pace, while a bit slower than normal, fit the set perfectly. Emerging seamlessly from the previous groove, Phish treated the Japanese-dominated crowd with a very slick transition. This was the first song that had been played in a long time, and the crowd responded energetically as Page belted out the lyrics.

Fukuoka Heads (P.McGuire)

As “Walk Away” ended, the band slipped back into a quieter bass pattern, returning to the space-aged feel of the set. This groove, again led by Mike, soon settled into a shimmering ambiance, and as Page and Trey began to add textured sound effects to the musical landscape, the crowd was now ensured of the “2001” that had been foreshadowed earlier in the set. As Fishman’s snare hit engaged the infectious rhythm, the crowd exploded – as much in motion as in sound – and Drum Logos now was spinning to Japan’s second ever “2001.” Mike continued to take the improvisational lead, as Trey chopped into play with some shorter rhythm licks. The first theme came relatively quickly, but the second section became far more drawn out and chock full of signature Trey licks and bulbous bass lines. For the first time in history, Phish decided to close a set, and a show, with “2001,” a significant exclamation point on one of the greatest sets in years. With nothing more to say after such a powerful, full-on, and non-stop performance, the band ended the set with, perhaps, the highest peak in their repertoire. And then they took a bow.

With a mellower encore of “Sleep” and “Squirming Coil,” the band provided some relaxation and reflection, allowing the set to stand on its own in the annals of Phish history. This was truly one for the ages; you’ll need to hear it to believe.

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Jam of the Day:

Stash” 9.9.99 I

Everyone knows of the big second set that opened Fall ’99, but this nugget of psychedelia jam came amidst a typically discombobulated opening set of tour.

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DOWNLOAD OF THE DAY:

7.12.99 Great Woods, Mansfield, MA < Torrent

7.12.99 Great Woods, Mansfield, MA < Megaupload

Great Woods '09 (G.Lucas)

The first night of Great Woods ’99. After the five-year bust-out of “Foreplay/Longtime,” check out the first set combo of “What’s the Use?,”  “Split” under a blood-red sunset.

I: Foreplay/Long Time > Down with Disease, Back on the Train, What’s the Use?, Split Open and Melt, Water in the Sky, Character Zero

II: Twist, The Moma Dance, Makisupa Policeman > David Bowie, The Lizards, Guyute

E: Rock and Roll

Source: Unknown

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Monday, Monday…

Posted in Uncategorized with the tags , on January 25th, 2010 by Mr.Miner

The Gorge 8.7 (G.Lucas)

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Jams of the Day: Tokyo – 6.10.00 I

Disease

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Piper

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Two hefty chunks of improv from the first set of Zepp Tokyo.

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DOWNLOAD OF THE DAY:

6.10.00 Zepp, Tokyo, JP < Torrent

6.10.00 Zepp, Tokyo, JP < Megaupload

Zepp - Tokyo, JP

An improvisationally heavy show takes us out of the gate this week. “Disease,” “Piper,” “Sand,” and “Bathtub” all highlight this under-the-radar Japan offering.

I: Down with Disease, Sample in a Jar, Piper, Lawn Boy, Guyute

II: Heavy Things, Sand, Sparkle, My Soul, Bathtub Gin > Twist, Albuquerque, Wading in the Velvet Sea, Loving Cup

E: The Inlaw Josie Wales, Limb By Limb\

Source: Unknown

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Ambient Evolution – An Audio Post

Posted in Uncategorized with the tags , , , , on October 13th, 2009 by Mr.Miner
The Fox - 6.16 (B.Kisida)

The Fox - 6.16 (B.Kisida)

In an effort to switch things up, I decided to go with an “audio post” today. I often write about Phish’s ambient styles, and ever-evolving use of sound and layered psychedelia, so today I put together a mix that brings you on an audio tour through 1998, 1999, and 2000. Instead of focusing on songs or jams, I put a lens on ambient improv, creating an 80-minute “Trip Through the Late ’90s.” The jams evolve from a section of ’98, to a section of ’99, and concludes with a section of music from 2000. I will post a setlist once I figure it out, as I made the mix on the fly and it’s getting late out here. See if you notice an evolution through the years, or just kick back and space out. Enjoy! (As usual, click the orange track title to download the mix.)

A Trip Through the Late ’90s

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Winged music note=====

Jam of the Day:

David Bowie” 10.12.94 II

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The first serious Fall ’94 “Bowie.” There would be many more.

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DOWNLOAD OF THE DAY:

10.12.94 The Orpheum Theatre, Memphis, TN < Torrent

10.12.94 The Orpheum Theatre, Memphis, TN < Megaupload

phish-palumbo-94-miniThis show – Phish’s most recent October 12 offering – celebrates its fifteenth anniversary today. In only the fifth show of a 40+ gig tour, Phish boasted well-polished chops and masterful communication. A soaring second-song “Reba” led into this focused night of music that centered on the second set jams of “David Bowie” and “YEM,” and ” Harry Hood,” with “Bowie” taking the cake.

I: My Friend, My Friend, Reba, The Sloth, Poor Heart, Split Open and Melt, The Lizards, Guelah Papyrus, Julius, Sweet Adeline

II: Peaches en Regalia, David Bowie, Bouncing Around the Room, Scent of a Mule, You Enjoy Myself, Nellie Kane*, Foreplay/Long Time, Harry Hood, Sample in a Jar

E: Good Times Bad Times

*Acoustic

Source: Unknown

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The Beginning of the End – Pt. II

Posted in Uncategorized with the tags , on October 7th, 2009 by Mr.Miner

shorelineRising over the bay and visible from my apartment, the sun came up for the first time in our lives without Phish. The morning after Phish’s final show felt surreal as we watched the dawning of a new age. Gazing out the massive windows, across the Panhandle and up to Haight-Ashbury, where all this madness began – a different post-show vibe than ever before permeated the room. We had Phish to thank for our friendships, but were all about to transition to a life without them – our dreamlike experiences would be deferred, put on “hiatus” indefinitely. Things would be different now.

Phish had just delivered their definitive final statement from Shoreline’s stage, a statement that summed things up perfectly. Flawless from start to finish, and composed with utmost care, the band executed a perfectly scripted curtain call. Beyond the music, this evening celebrated the grandeur of the Phish experience and the mutual love between the band and their fan base- a relationship unparalleled in music to this day.

2000-10-07moNo time would be wasted in Phish’s last foreseeable performance, as they broke out of the gates with an inspiring “First Tube,” a song that often seemed to exorcise Trey’s inner demons and got everyone into the here and now. Coupled with a classic, concise “Mike’s Groove” the show kicked off with a double-dose of adrenalized Phish grooves, getting things underway in a flash. A nod to the old-school with “Fee,” preceded an emotionally driven “Bathtub Gin” that carried a bittersweet melodic theme and developed into the centerpiece of the smoking first set. Phish passionately crafted a jam that represented a final musical farewell, despite being placed in the opening set. The symbolic “Glide”meant more to the band than we surmised at the time – an homage to their friendships and collective journeys over time. Closing with a randomly placed “My Soul,” the second to last Phish set came to an end. Setbreak adopted an indescribable feeling; one that couldn’t have been predicted. We sat, we puffed, we dreamt, we reveled, and we remembered. The next set would be the last. And it was clear from the band’s opening statement that they would leave us with something to remember.

Shoreline 2000 (nugs.net)

Shoreline 2000 (nugs.net)

Opening the final stanza with the late-90’s staple of “Twist”, the band passed through its Latin-sounding grooves into a mellow psychedelia featuring Page on piano and some patient Trey soloing before he started chopping out some rhythm chords. But before too long, “Twist” gracefully stepped aside for the final “2001” of our lives. I distinctly remember gazing over the pavilion, taking it in, knowing that tomorrow would be so drastically different. Following the few minutes of ambient buildup, when the snare hit kicked, Shoreline exploded. Super-charged from the get go, this “2001” carried a dynamic sense of urgency that many contemporary versions left behind in favor of wide open funk-scapes. For 11 minutes, the band led us through a veritable catalog of Phish grooves, satisfying our inner dancer.  But as the second theme peaked, the band oozed into the opening of “Tweezer.”  Yes, they were most definitely leaving it all on stage.

The final “Tweezer” shied from any overt funk and traveled directly into a guitar-led jam that built in sound and intensity rather quickly, with Trey taking liberty to shred atop the evolving groove. Moving away from its smooth inception, about halfway through, the improv took a turn into a more dissonant, aggressive and dirty place, stylistically resembling a jam from the mid-90s. Phish played their biggest, most poignant songs on this evening, beautifully settling into “Velvet Sea”out of “Tweezer.” Fitting the contour of the set like a glove, “Velvet Sea” had always been a Phishy song to play after some serious music went down. The beautiful composition and crying guitar solo carried extra emotional weight given the somber circumstances.

Shoreline 2000 (nugs.net)

Shoreline 2000 (nugs.net)

Just when things seemed the most bittersweet, the beginning of “Meatstick” whispered through the speakers in a classic Phishy maneuver. Finding the perfect place for some comic relief to honor the band’s theme song of their final two years, this show wouldn’t have been complete without “Meatstick” – and nobody would have said that before hand.  Ultimately, Phish wound their way to their quintessential show closer, “David Bowie;” boasting a set that flowed impeccably. “Bowie” provided a last introspective journey, one more time to move inward following the band’s sublime musical path; our last guided mediation. Pouring all the momentum from both sets into the likely set closer, the band held nothing back as they tore their way through the dark and intricate improv. Then, instead of saving “Tweezer Reprise” for their encore, the band decided to drop the bombast as a climactic and unexpected set closer. The crowd simply couldn’t have responded more enthusiastically.  “YEM” encore – perfection.

I’ve often thought of this show as one of the most consummate shows I ever experienced. Not the best or the craziest – just simply perfect. Sometimes a show flows naturally from beginning to end, without any glitches or slow points, and this was one of them – it had to be.

Shoreline 2000 (nugs.net)

Shoreline 2000 (nugs.net)

As the DAT of this second set provided our soundtrack for the surreal San Francisco sunrise, we all felt a sense of thankfulness for having been a part of the Phish experiment. So many tiny factors in life could have pushed out lives in just a slightly different direction, and we would have missed Phish – and all of each other – without even knowing it. It was impossible to imagine who we’d have been without Phish; a powerful moment of realization. It didn’t really matter whether they came back from this “hiatus” or not – we had lived the magic. Someone along the way blessed us with the good fortune of discovery, and we never looked back. Memories lasted forever, and we already had enough of those to carry us through eternity. Regardless of Phish’s destiny, we had befriended some of the greatest people on earth, and discovered ourselves along the way.  Phish had given us everything. And they owed us nothing.

Phish provided us a constant portal to the divine and the mysteries of the universe – access to unimaginable realms we never knew existed. Phish provided us a way to experience life’s majesty in a unique way that we couldn’t have found in any other corner of the globe; an indelible and irreplaceable force on the rest of our time. As the post-show selection of “Let It Be” filled the pavilion, The Beatles song delivered a poignant message of  tranquility, as many fans stayed – clapping, crying, cheering – emotions swirling. The band left all they had out on the stage that night; a proper exit for an unrivaled career.

So as we reflect on the unsurity that defined the end of Phish 2000, let us not get bogged down in the minutae and remember how lucky we are to be staring down the first Phish festival in five years. If you had told me this nine years ago, I would have chuckled and demurred. Yet here we are – sitting atop the mountain again – and the view could not be finer.

Winged music note=====

Jams of the Day: 10.7.00

“Bathtub Gin” I

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“Twist > 2001 > Tweezer” II

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DOWNLOAD OF THE DAY:

8.2.96 Wolf Mountain Amp, Park City, UT < Torrent

8.2.96 Wolf Mountain Amp, Park City, UT < Megaupload

phish96rectredallThe first show of Phish’s brief US summer run took place at Wolf Mountain in Park City after the a change of venue from the Delta Center in Salt Lake City. Overshadowed by the impending Red Rocks run, Page debuted his theremin on this relatively mellow night of adjustment from Europe’s smaller stages.

I: Somewhere Over the Rainbow*, Ya Mar, Down with Disease, Guelah Papyrus, Poor Heart, Foam, Theme From the Bottom, Golgi Apparatus, Tweezer, Hello My Baby, Possum

II: Runaway Jim, Simple, Taste, Free > Fluffhead, Prince Caspian, The Horse > Silent in the Morning, Run Like an Antelope

E: Punch You In the Eye

*Performed solo by Page on theremin.

Source: AKG C568 EB’s > Aerco preamp

Tags: ,

The Beginning of the End

Posted in Uncategorized with the tags , on October 6th, 2009 by Mr.Miner

phish-shoreline-00-pollock-leThe mere fact that we sit in 2009 discussing what Phish might do at their Halloween festival is a true cause for celebration that we must not overlook. Who knew nine years ago that we would be here today? No one knew much of anything as we made it up the coast to Shoreline in October of 2000, making the era-ending shows all the more nebulous. I approached the final two nights of Fall2k  as the last time I’d ever see Phish, because I knew nothing to the contrary. They said they were taking a hiatus, but once things ended, who knew what direction life would take everyone. Needless to say, my fingers weren’t crossed and after Shoreline, I never expected to be at a Phish show again.

We pulled into my own apartment in San Francisco the morning of the 6th, ready to take on the inevitable. Our music, our lifestyle, our inspiration was coming to an end – and that’s all we knew. We didn’t speculate when or if the band would come back – we didn’t need to. We had been there and lived it. There were no regrets and no expectations – just two more shows before life took on a completely new contour.

Though the band had gradually slowed over the previous couple weeks, they still had the ability to drop gems at any time, resulting in a certain frustration knowing that they still could make our heads spin – just no longer their own.  After the better part of two decades, Phish needed a break.  Was it understandable? Yes, absolutely. But nobody knew what to expect after the stage lights came on after the final encore. The rest of our lives were waiting.

Entering the penultimate show, there remained one more tomorrow; one more night to stay up, starry-eyed, dreaming of what could be. One more night to laugh carelessly, forgetting life existed outside of “Tweezers” “Splits” and “Mike’s Grooves.”One more night to live the dream. One more sunrise to hold onto that feeling inside. One more.

2000-10-06moAs we found our places in the pavilion, the lights suddenly dropped.  By opening with “Carini,” Phish got everyone’s focus immediately, smashing somber thoughts with growling metal chords and crashing bass bombs.  Just like that, we were at a Phish show, and -per usual- nothing else mattered. The first set contained all songs that everyone wanted to hear, with Bob Marley’s “Mellow Mood” ironically placed right in the middle with Trey crooning, “I’ll play your favorite song, darlin’.” Phish painted this set with a dark musical brush, crafting sinister highlights from the second-song “Stash,” the mid-set “Maze,” and the closing “Antelope.” It seemed that Phish cast aside distractions for their final two nights; as they played with a fiery purpose that had been lacking since the Midwest. After the first set ended, fans got the picture that Phish wasn’t going out like a sucka.

After the break, the band opened the second half with the lyrically appropriate “Heavy Things.” Lines like “Things are falling down on me” and “Stumbling as I fall from grace,” took on new meanings as we teetered on the brink. After the introspective pop concluded, one of two central jam sequences of the night revved its motor.  The unmistakable bass intro to “Down With Disease” sped the hearts of so many fans, as this would finally be the time that Trey really meant, “This has all been wonderful, but now I’m on my way.”

Fall 2000 (Unk)

Fall 2000 (Unk)

With no time for pontification, the band coaxed our minds into the music with a blistering rendition that took us on a thrilling, feel-good ride. With the pedal on the floor, the band tore through an engaging composed section to the jam, and exited the song’s structure led by Mike’s prominent bass work.  Moving into a mystical, more subdued milieu, spirits seemed to rise from their instruments as Phish molded an ambient sculpture infused with percussion. As Trey layered more dissonant wails atop these textures, the jam grew more abstract by the moment.

Seamlessly rejoining “Disease’s” melodic structure, the band stopped off in the composition before blowing right past it, turning their fast-paced jam into something far more groovy. Almost instantly, the band began teasing “Spock’s Brain,” and soon morphed songs without missing a beat, showcasing their elusive rarity. “Disease > Spock’s” gave us one unforgettable moment of the evening, and after a mid-set interlude of “The Inlaw Josie Wales” and “Rift” we met our second indelible memory of the set.

The Final Marquee

The "Final" Marquee

Out of the silence, Phish dropped into a welcome version of “Cities,” as its last incarnation in Minneapolis two weeks earlier had ballooned into a 20-minute highlight. This time around, the band didn’t take the cover into the cosmos, instead moving methodically through the thick funk rhythms.  Though “Cities” remained tightly knit, the band flowed from its grooves into the opening of “Sand.” Things were about to get dirty.

The ominous opening of Phish’s rhythmic juggernaut kept people moving with a real sense of musical motion. The composition opened into a sea of psychedelia, as Trey set up his loops for the excursion.  The band took their time in building sonic layers – there was no need to rush – and the pace of this  version complemented the band’s patience, facilitating some nasty grooves. Trey carved the music with signature licks, then splashed walls of sound and fury into the straight forward groove, adding another piece to the puzzle.  Continuing to crank out the dissonance, Trey’s offerings gave the jam a sense of chaotic order as the band continued to ferociously chug along.  Fifteen minutes later, we looked back upon one of the last epic dance sessions of our Phish lives, though something told us that the next night still had plenty left in store.

As we headed back to the city, we pulled in for one last night of Phish tour. There was one more. Things seemed different, but not nearly as different as they’d seem 24 hours later.

To be continued….

Winged music note=====

Jams of the Day: 10.6.00 II

Down With Disease > Spock’s Brain

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Cities > Sand

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DOWNLOAD OF THE DAY:

10.6.2000 Shoreline, Mountain View, CA < Torrent

10.6.2000 Shoreline, Mountain View, CA < Megaupload

Shoreline Amphitheatre

Shoreline Amphitheatre

Keeping things thematic today, we have the band’s next-to-last show of their first career. Enjoy!

I: Carini, Stash, Boogie On Reggae Woman, Mellow Mood, Maze, The Moma Dance, Run Like an Antelope

II: Heavy Things, Down with Disease > Spock’s Brain, The Inlaw Josie Wales, Rift, Cities > Sand, Golgi Apparatus, Brian and Robert, Bold As Love

E: El Paso*^, Chalk Dust Torture*> West L.A. Fadeaway*^

* w/ Bob Weir, ^Phish debut

Source: AKG 480b’s (cardoids)  > Lunatec V2  > Graham Patton ADC-20 > DA-P1

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