The Return of New Year’s Eve

Posted in Uncategorized with the tags , , on January 6th, 2010 by Mr.Miner

"New Year's Eve" (Photo: Wendy Rogell)

New Year’s Eve; out with the old and in with the new. As long as anyone could remember, Phish and December 31 went together like peanut butter and jelly. Whether in the cold of Worcester, Boston, and New York, or the warmth of Big Cypress and Miami, Phish and New Year’s Eve were one in the same. On a holiday where the entire point is to have a blast celebrating the year that was, Phish’s New Year’s Eve shows became rites of passage, culminating with 1999’s sacred millennial odyssey in The Everglades. But after this experience of a lifetime, Phish appeared only twice on New Year’s Eve over the next ten years. We hadn’t flipped the calendar with them since 2003 in this very same building on Biscayne Bay, thus New Year’s Eve ’09 took on a renewed feeling of excitement that had been gone for more than half a decade.

12.31.09 (W.Rogell)

Without the grind of their night-long parties of yesteryear, Phish came to bat on the 31st locked and loaded, building off, arguably, their two finest shows of the year. Just as each of the previous nights had a distinct theme, New Year’s Eve was colored by feel-good Phish from beginning to end, ringing in 2010 with songs of joy and upbeat jamming; everything we’ve come to expect from the band in their three-set, year-end parties. And before we knew it, we were off on a musical crash course with a brand new decade.

The ride got started with the energetic one-two punch of “AC/DC Bag” and “46 Days,” but got kicked into high gear by the fourth-song “Bathtub Gin.” A jubilant vibe painted the entire jam which moved from glue-tight structured territory into a heavier dose of groove; the latter segment pushed forward by none other than Michael Gordon, the unquestionable player of the weekend. His driving bass patterns attracted Fish, and, on the spot, they reinvented the pocket of the jam, and Trey and Page followed their lead. A fiery segment of holiday improv resulted from this group conversation, with all members completely in tune. “Gin” became the first taste of the band’s inspiring New Year’s themed playing, characterized by densely packed catharsis.

12.31.09 (Photo: Wendy Rogell)

The chunkier part of the set continued with full-speed runs through “Punch” and “Moma,” keeping the energy high and people moving to the beat. Breaking for a composition, Phish played only the second “Guyute” since summer, and its triumphant nature fit congruently on this night. But the most intriguing first-set sequence came next. Playing through their Billy Breathes segment, “Swept Away > Steep,” at the point where they used to scream, and more recently, just drop into a new song, the band fluidly drifted into a mellow, Beatles-esque psychedelia, led hand in hand by Trey and Page. If this wasn’t composed ahead of time, I’d be surprised, as Page and Trey immediately initiated the same melodic theme. One way or the other, Phish stumbled upon something gorgeous in this piece, and its inward journey served as a reflective interlude for the end of the year.

12.31.09 (W.Rogell)

As this jam settled, Phish broke into the opening of “Demand” for the first time since Ames, Iowa during November ’96, thus trumping “Tela” for the “biggest” bust-out of the weekend. Played like they’d kept it in rotation all along, Phish nailed the two minute piece and hopped right into “Seven Below.” A song that birthed two standout jams of fall stayed closer to its structure this time around, but still provided inspired improv with Fishman maintaining a strapping beat behind a melodic canvas. When listening to Mike on this piece, one will hear some of his most intriguing play of an outlandish weekend, offering up lines most musicians wouldn’t even conceive. Collectively driving this piece to the top, the band played as a four-headed monster flowing with effortless abandon, once again packing a whole lot of action into a very short time. Closing the first set with a rollicking “Julius,” Phish got off to a phenomenal start on their return to a night they once owned.

12.31.09 (W.Rogell)

A particularly short set break had the lights off way before anyone expected, and one of the weekend’s strongest sets kicked off with the 2009 anthem “Rock and Roll.” Sewing this stanza thematically together with a dense, uptempo musical thread, Phish began by tearing the opener into oblivion. As the music entered a potentially deeper plane, Trey elected to keep the set bumpin’ with energy, segueing quickly into “Piper.” Phish filled the subsequent ten minutes with over the top, compact improv at a dizzying pace. As if trying to summarize all the places the jam has reached during its epic year, the band threw down a concentrated, complex gauntlet that moved a mile a minute. Playing with ridiculous cohesion, the band straight annihilated the final “Piper” in a year that featured many magnificent journeys from the song. Combining two of 2009’s defining pieces, the band opened the second set like a musical incarnation of Usain Bolt.

The blissful vibe continued as the band morphed from an ambient landing into “Simple.” A song played only four times in 2009, none were more symbolic than this version on New Year’s Eve. Things had returned to an Edenic state in the Phish universe, and on the cusp of 2010, the lyrics never meant more to everyone, because once again, “…we’ve got a band.” Moving from a melodic jam into a spacier outro, Mike and Trey chased each others’ phrases into nothingness as the band faded into “Theme.” Keeping the fun, yet emotional, night moving, the band infused the song with a soaring energy and musicianship that brought the opening, non-stop segment of the set to a close.

12.31.09 (Photo: Wendy Rogell)

Giving a nod to their unforgettable “Exile” set from Halloween, the band used the album’s emotional peak, “Shine a Light,” as mid-set interlude. Another lyrically appropriate song for a celebration of all that is to come for the Phish community, this version came perfectly placed in an increasingly impressive set. And then came the expedition of the night in a multi-faceted, bass-led safari through “Ghost.” Trey laid way back as the jam began, allowing Mike to take center stage with his bouncing, envelope-filtered leads. Like a space-general, Gordon thumped out futuristic patterns as his band fell in behind him. The pocket grew Grand Canyon-deep, as Mike’s basscrobatics bounced brains like basketballs around D Wade’s building. Crafting one of the weekends most compelling pieces, the band continued their unified jamming that underlined the entire evening.

12.31.09 (Photo: Wendy Rogell)

As “Ghost” built into an dark, abstract realm, Mike took his effects off, allowing Trey to take the lead for the second half of the jam. Flowing with inspired melodies, Trey awed the arena with his path to the mountaintop, where the band slid into a post-peak series of grooves that became increasingly delicate and ambient. Trey wove a stunning “Auld Lang Syne” tease amidst this emotive musical tapestry before Phish swam into a drone soundscape. Just as everyone thought the band would ooze the set to a close, Mike brought us into the dentist chair with “NO2.” Maintaining their shimmering backdrop throughout his narration, the band buzzed into silence before dropping an explosive “Suzie” to close one of the superior sets of the run.

"Midnight" (W.Rogell)

After another abbreviated setbreak, everyone knew what songs the band had left to play. Miami’s final set would inevitably include “Disease,” “Fluffhead,” and “You Enjoy Myself,” but how it would go down would be the story of the final frame. Launching into “Party Time” with about six minutes until midnight, the band funked into the New Year, showering everyone with Phish’s first “Auld Lang Syne” since ’03. An always-emotional moment – one where I always feel so thankful for being in the right place at the right time – this one felt extra sweet after five years of differing midnight festivities.

Everyone knew that “Disease” stood in the on deck circle, but this year, this set wasn’t about surprise – at least not yet. Featuring another theme song of ’09 in the slot where its triumphant jam was born sixteen years earlier, this moment was about simply being there again; seeing those big balloons bounce in front of our favorite band as we spun into a new decade to the soundtrack of our lives. After such a smoking second set, this one brought high octane playing, all in the name of fun. Staying firmly within the box throughout the final frame, the point wasn’t exploration, but explosive celebration, and Phish certainly accomplished their goal to the delight of all.

"Disease" (W.Rogell)

"Auld Lang Syne" (W.Rogell)

Instead of providing musical twists and turns in their final set, the band chose to mess with our minds with a prank that left everyone disputing what the hell actually had happened long after the show ended. Having laid the groundwork with all of the vacuum shenanigans over the 28th and 30th, and having foreshadowed the gag with the 30th’s cover, “Dixie Cannonball,” the band had the audience right where they wanted them. After ending “Disease,” they brought a life size disco ball to the center of the stage, and Fishman crawled inside. Bringing out a cannon and illuminating a net above the soundboard, Phish created the preposterous illusion that they were about to launch Fishman into the rafters of the arena – and for a split second, it all seemed totally reasonable. Trey got behind the drum set and gave a dramatic roll as the cannon fired loudly. Material hung from the roof as if Fishman shot right through, as a faux helicopter’s search light descended over the crowd with full-on sound effects. But neither Fishman, nor the disco cannonball, was anywhere to be seen.

12.31.09 (W.Rogell)

Much like the previous night, the band called for someone from the audience to replace Fishman – this time on drums. Trey called someone out from the stands to the left side of the stage side, and a dark-haired girl made her way to the drum set. After gushing over Trey in a comic act, when asked her favorite Phish tune, she replied “Fluffhead,” to the roaring approval of the crowd. Trey then announced that the band would play “Fluffhead” with Sarah on drums. As she awkwardly starting the song, Trey looked over and seemed to help Sarah along, and soon she caught the groove and the band launched into the song much to everyone’s shock. What the fuck was going on?! And from the end of “Disease,” that is exactly what Phish wanted us to wonder – and they pulled it of with genius. In an incognito switcheroo, a wigged and costumed Fishman slid onto the drums with hardly anyone noticing, leaving everybody with a different theory as to what happened and how. After the show ended, a friend came up to me and asked, “So, did Sarah play the rest of the set with them?” ‘Nuff said!

12.31.09 (Photo: Wendy Rogell)

Featuring solid versions of “Fluffhead,” “Coil,” and “You Enjoy Myself,” this set, more than anything, brought the spectacle back to New Year’s Eve, while continuing the uplifting theme to the evening. And it worked out quite well. Poignantly fitting “Joy” into their final set as well, the band reminded everyone what this era is all about – our collective happiness. And after some lyrical, heartfelt thanks from Trey, a “Loving Cup” encore brought us home. Capping 2009 with a set defined by their prankster spirit, Phish hit every angle over their four nights in Miami, reclaiming their undisputed title as the musical pimps of the universe. And what a year it was!  From March 6 in Hampton to December 31 in Miami, and everything in between, 2009 saw the re-evolution of Phish; a force of nature unto themselves. And side by side, the return of our dreams. It all really happened.

Phish 2010, here we come!

I: AC/DC Bag, 46 Days, Water in the Sky, Bathtub Gin, Punch You in the Eye, The Moma Dance, Guyute, Swept Away > Steep, Demand > Seven Below, Lawn Boy, Julius

II.Rock and Roll > Piper > Simple > Theme from the Bottom, Shine A Light, Ghost > NO2, Suzy Greenberg

III: Party Time > Auld Lang Syne > Down With Disease, NYE Prank, Fluffhead, Joy, The Squirming Coil, You Enjoy Myself

E: Blue Moon, Loving Cup

"2010" (Photo: Wendy Rogell)

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Jams of the Day: 12.31.09 II

Rock and Roll > Piper

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Ghost > NO2

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The improvisational meat of New Year’s second set.

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DOWNLOAD OF THE DAY:

12.31.09 American Airlines Arena, Miami, FL < Torrent

12.31.09 American Airlines Arena, Miami, FL < Megaupload

12.31.09 (W.Rogell)

I: AC/DC Bag, 46 Days, Water in the Sky, Bathtub Gin, Punch You in the Eye, The Moma Dance, Guyute, Swept Away > Steep, Demand > Seven Below, Lawn Boy, Julius

II.Rock and Roll > Piper > Simple > Theme from the Bottom, Shine A Light, Ghost > NO2, Suzy Greenberg

III: Party Time > Auld Lang Syne > Down With Disease, NYE Prank, Fluffhead, Joy, The Squirming Coil, You Enjoy Myself

E: Blue Moon*, Loving Cup

*Trey thanks all members of the Phish organization by reading their names off a list “as quickly and lyrically as possible” to the tune of “Blue Moon.”

Source: Sennheiser MD441U > Edirol R4Pro ( Oade preamp mod ) @ 24/88.2 (Taper – padelimike)

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Video of the Day: Auld Lang Syne > NYE Prank

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12.29.09

Posted in Uncategorized with the tags , , , , on December 30th, 2009 by Mr.Miner

Some experiences are better left untouched – for a while…

***

I: Golgi Apparatus, Maze, Driver, The Connection, Wolfman’s Brother, Ocelot, Reba, Access Me, The Divided Sky, Cavern

II: Kill Devil Falls, Tweezer > Prince Caspian, Gotta Jibboo > Wilson > Gotta Jibboo > Heavy Things,  2001 > Slave to the Traffic Light

E: Sleeping Monkey, Tweezer Reprise

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A Glimpse of Joy

Posted in Uncategorized with the tags , , , on September 1st, 2009 by Mr.Miner
PHISH-Joy-cover-art

Joy

When talking to Rolling Stone in March, after Hampton, Trey confidently said that Phish has yet to make their best studio album.  And after giving Joy a number of listens over the past couple days, it is pretty clear that Phish has still not crafted that elusive “best album yet.”  On the heels of their two post-hiatus records, both of which carried a coherent musical vibe, Joy translates as a hodgepodge of styles, with its unity lying in its lyrical themes rather than musical connectedness.  Whereas you could listen to “Round Room” or “Undermind” and get the sense of a conceptual piece of art, Joy leaves you feeling like you have listened to mix tape.  While each songs is produced quite well and hold their individual merit, when the dust settles, this record may be Phish’s least cohesive studio offering since Hoist.

Red Rocks (D.Vann)

Red Rocks (D.Vann)

Opening with an enhanced rendition of “Backwards Down the Number Line,” Phish introduces the theme of the album right away.  A reflection on life’s experiences and lessons learned, friendships and the passage of time, growing older while staying young; these introspective topics paint the portrait of a mature band reflecting on their past while still building an exciting future.  The initial track musically benefits from Steve Lillywhite’s studio production, featuring rich vocal harmonies and a mix that accents Page’s leads as much as Trey’s.  A lyrical tone-setter, ending with the line, “The only rule is It begins,” this is also one of the more impressive studio translations.

“Stealing Time From the Faulty Plan” follows up the opener with a healthy dose of psychedelic blues-rock.  This infectious song, which begged for exploration all summer long, sounds just about the same as we’ve come accustomed to hearing it in the live setting.  With not much added or taken away, the track delivers what we expected- a rocking single.  A song that will likely see more attention when brought indoors, for the time being we can only imagine.

Merriweather (K.Pusey)

Merriweather (K.Pusey)

Phish seamlessly integrated the song “Joy” into their summer shows, using the poignant ballad as welcome respite from darker places.  But the version on the album lacks the heartfelt warmth that has come to define the very song.  Coming off a bit thin with an acoustic guitar and more pop-like, sing-songy lyrical cadence, the raw emotional weight of this song is compromised in the studio setting.  I truly love this song, and I thought the studio version would ooze enchantment.  It doesn’t.

The album continues with arguably its most impressive track in Mike’s “Sugar Shack.”  With its quirky rhythmic changes and darting melodies tightened in the studio, this track pops off the album with as much spunk of any.  A completely unique song, both musically and lyrically, its inclusion does nothing for the overall flow of the album.  The fourth track in a row that bears little musical relation to the other three, this is where the mix-tape vibe really kicks in.  With no obvious meaning, this songs seems to sit on its own, out of relation with the others on the record; but from a musical standpoint it just may be the most intriguing.

Hartford (A.McCullogh)

Hartford (A.McCullogh)

A return to the bluesy feel comes next with “Ocelot.” Seemingly the most light-hearted song on the record, this song could suggest a lyrical metaphor for recovery- a secondary theme of the album.  Written from Tom Marshall’s perspective, Trey “pranc[ed] with the beasts who parade every night” and “silently slouch[ed] through the forest by light,”  but doesn’t want him to be “the only one left on the block,” but instead to reunite with friends and family to “hide in the heard and float with the flock.”  Musically crisp and clean, “Ocelot’s” folk fusion provides one of the most playful moments on Joy.

Joy’s patchwork continues with “Kill Devil Falls,” a song whose live performances have begun to evolve, but whose composition is still far too pedestrian for a legitimate Phish song.  The Chuck Berry-infused rocker tangentially fits with the album’s loose blues-rock framework, but its benign musical template leads nowhere engaging.  Lyrically in sync with the album’s vibe, Trey promises that he’s learned his lesson and “this time is gonna be different,” but yet, allows for human flaws, following up that line with “Until I do it again.”  All in all, this track is bound by simplicity, and sounds like any band could have written it.

6.16.09 The Fox (B.Kisida)

6.16.09 The Fox (B.Kisida)

The most original and enchanting moments of the entire album come during the minute-plus intro to “Light.”  With an ambient build up that was only suggested at Wallingford, CT’s Classic TAB performance last October, Phish introduces this powerful song with the only “new” music on the album.  This soulful build into the song’s initial explosion sets the tone for the openly-expressive piece.  Referencing his own path from addiction to recovery, the most personal lyric on the album may be “I’m left in the now with a wondrous glow- I think I’m still me, but how would you know?”  Reflecting on the deeply introspective journey he undertook to get to today, Trey’s words are sung with a certain vulnerability that has seeped into to his later work.  The lyric, “And finally waiting for nothing at all” also carries a significant meaning- things have finally come to fruition- the time is now.  Creatively bursting with energy and finishing with a layered vocal round, “Light” is my personal favorite track on the album, and one that is infused with the promise of the future.  “The light is burning brighter now…Guide us to our goal…”

Hartford (A McCullogh)

Hartford (A McCullogh)

The album’s theme of reflection comes across playfully in the short ditty, “I’ve Been Around.”  Evoking memories of the last song at a high-school dance, this Page-scribed interlude references the ebb and flow of life; with its high times and its low times, the mysterious journey is never dull.  Sometimes we “throw it down a while” and sometimes “the town throws it down on “us.”  Coyly congruent with Joy’s greater meaning, “Ive Been Around” serves as a Phishy lead-in to the album’s conclusion.

While traveling a path that features four to five minute songs, the band’s decision to insert “Time Turns Elastic” into the mix here is a bit questionable.  Clearly the album’s centerpiece, Trey’s lyrics- both literal and metaphorical- carve out the meaning of the song and its relation to the album’s central themes.  But with so many intricately composed sections, this prog-rock epic doesn’t jive with Joy’s simplicity.  Doing little to unify the record musically, “Time Turns Elastic” may have been better released as a single rather than part of this whole.  (But I bet if you asked Trey, he’d say it is the key to the album.)

Red Rocks (D.Vann)

Red Rocks (D.Vann)

Gazing back over the landscape of their lives, the retrospective piece “Twenty Years Later” closes the album in dramatic fashion.  Following the words, “the morning [of life] has passed, and “its a new day.”  Soaked with the air of redemption, this song’s slower, lush soundscapes give it a more ominous feel- “Inside this silent sea, all are free, all are free, second time around.”  It was a wise choice to rearrange the original order of the album’s songs, placing “Twenty Years Later” as the natural conclusion to counterbalance “Backwards Down the Number Line,” while providing an eerie denouement to “Time Turns Elastic.”

Interestingly, Joy is an album that contains consistent lyrical themes, but little musical cohesion.  While the words carry consistent themes, the music jumps around with little to no connection, creating a studio album that leaves something to be desired.  Questing for the album that is far bigger than the sum of its parts, Phish will live to record another day.  Representing their return to the studio, Joy has both its successes and shortcomings, something we’ve come to expect from Phish’s recorded work.  While pleasant to listen to, nothing on Joy will blow you away; the polar opposite of the band’s live dynamic.  Four guys who were born to play live, Phish will always be master improvisers, but will they ever make that timeless record?  The answer remains to be seen.

Winged music note=====

Jam of the Day:

Cities > Maze” 8.5 Shoreline II

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A late second-set highlight at Shoreline, this is the only time either of these songs were played during the second leg of summer.

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DOWNLOAD OF THE DAY:

8.11.2009 Toyota Park, Chicago, IL < Torrent

8.11.2009 Toyota Park, Chicago, IL < Megaupload

3831060420_86a7994870

Official Chicago Poster

This mid-week stop in the Windy City connected the western and eastern parts of the second leg of tour.  While there are several legitimate musical highlights throughout the second set, the overall presentation of the show seemed awkward and disconnected.  “Number Line,” “Carini,” Jibboo,” and “Hood” stand out in this oddly constructed frame, following up one of the most uneventful first sets of tour.

I: Kill Devil Falls, Sample In A Jar, Ocelot, Paul and Silas, Windy City*, The Curtain With, Train Song, Gumbo, Heavy Things, Time Turns Elastic

II: Backwards Down the Number Line > Carini > Gotta Jibboo, Theme From The Bottom, Wilson, 2001 > Chalk Dust Torture, Harry Hood, The Squirming Coil

E: Loving Cup

* debut

Source: Schoeps CCM4V’S(din)>Lunatec V2>Benchmark AD2K>Sound Devices 722 (24/48) (Taper – Z-Man)

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A Phishy Affair

Posted in Uncategorized with the tags , , on August 25th, 2009 by Mr.Miner
Hartford 8.14.09 (Drazin)

Hartford 8.14.09 (Drazin)

The last time Phish was around, during the “post-hiatus” years, there were many magnificent  musical moments- contrary to popular myth- but something was missing.  Throughout the band’s past, they had not only put on great concerts, but laced their performances with humor, antics, musical jokes, and a general zany energy that defined a Phish show.  As the years wore on and the band got deeper into unhealthy habits, this energy- this Phishiness- began to fade, a clear sign that all was not well in Gamehendge.  As 2003 turned to 2004, Phish’s spirit was waning, and after a three-night stint in Vegas, things were clearly spinning out of control.

Hartford (A.Hill)

Hartford (A.Hill)

And then Coventry happened.  We were forced into a distinctly un-Phishy ending to the greatest chapter of our lives, and it just didn’t feel right. But alas, sometimes, as Nana said, “That’s the way the cookie crumbles.”  But the fates wouldn’t have it that way, and five years later we found ourselves back in the kingdom of Phish- but would it be the same?

After so many unknowns were answered at Red Rocks and The Gorge, Phish sailed back into New England in a triumphant homecoming.  When the band quit in ’04, Trey said he feared becoming a nostalgia act, thus when returning in ’09, we knew things would be forward-looking.  With a forthcoming album, more heartfelt and mature songs, Phish has entered a new stage of their lives and of their careers.  But on one special night in Hartford, CT, the band showed everyone that they haven’t lost touch with the spirit that inspired them from the start- Phish still had their Phishiness.

Hartford 8.14 (T.Salido)

Hartford (T.Salido)

Though their renewed musical spirit was on display throughout the second leg, one wondered if their early days of Gamehendge narrations and allusions were simply a relic of a bygone era.  But when Phish opened Hartford with four songs that could have been pulled from their college days, a different energy to the show began to emerge.  “Punch,” “AC/DC,” and “NICU” got the party started, but it wasn’t until the dramatic drop into “Colonel Forbin’s” that we knew something special was at hand.  As Mike’s bass crisply cut the thick summer air, the band delved into their classic saga of the Gamehendge hero.  Clearly practiced, the band confidently and cleanly moved though the composition, with Trey even giggling as he mentioned “Icculus, the prophet.”  But as the time came for the first narration of 3.0, the band transitioned directly into “Mockingbird.”  Likely a by-product of their rehearsals, they bypassed any storytelling for a soaring run through “Mockingbird”- a gorgeous piece of music that is so much more than a mere bust-out.  By nailing the old-school composition, the band dosed the crowd with that Phishy energy, and when they dropped the first “Birds” of tour, the place exploded.

Hartford (T.Salido)

Hartford (T.Salido)

In a torrid session of improv, Phish crushed the only version of “Birds” this tour; a rendition that veered from the song’s direct path due to dynamic interplay between Mike and Trey, subtle rhythmic shifts, and powerful piano leads.  While not getting into ‘type II’ territory, this was nonetheless an enthralling escapade.  Coupled with another strong version of “Stash,” these two dark jams anchored the old-school set.   “Stash” moved into some dirty psychedelia, led melodically by Page, as Mike and Trey created a cacophony of effected sound.  Trey climbed out of this sonic dungeon with wails that conveyed emotional desperation.  This piece is some seriously dark Phish, and easily throws its hat in the ring with the best “Stashs” from this tour.  Sidestepping any melodic interlude for a straight trip into the center of the earth, this is a dark-horse version that hasn’t gotten its due credit.

8.14 (T.Salido)

Hartford (T.Salido)

The same early-era energy oozed into the second set, but not before Phish crafted the most enchanting- albeit oddly aborted- piece of music all evening.  Transforming the “Disease” jam into a percussive ride, and then into a slowed down musical medium, Trey infused the piece with stunning melodies as the band hit a mellow groove that oozed spirituality.   People have called this a “Reba jam, ” but that assessment is a mere attempt to label an incredibly improvisational segment of Phish that really had little to do with the song.  Could the music have been drawn from a spaced-out and slowed down “Reba?”- sure, but in my opinion there was no musical allusion going on there.  Instead, Phish was flowing in some of their most magical improv since The Gorge, which is why it was incredibly disorienting and flat-out wrong when it was abruptly cut off by the coarse opening of “Wilson.”  Trey had to be the only person in the entire venue thinking that dropping “Wilson” amidst this delicate jam was the right call, but ironically, he is the only one who matters.  What could have been a stunning summer highlight of  “Disease > Slave ” had Big Red been patient and used the five minutes of “Wilson” to bridge the two noble songs, turned into “Disease > Wilson > Slave,” which wasn’t too shabby either!

Centering “Slave” in the second set, Phish built perhaps the summer’s most climactic version of the usual set-closer.  A joy to hear as a focal point, “Slave” ascended with meticulous and creative offerings from all in a blissful melange of harmony and melody; a mid-set emotional peak.  Without skipping a beat, Phish slid into “Piper,” continuing the uplifting vibe of the set.

8.14 (A.Hill)

8.14.09 (A.Hill)

On this night, “Piper’s” break-neck jamming would reach another level of connection and interplay as the band trounced through the shredding piece with spirit and innovation- getting to some truly unique musical places.  Initially led outwards by a catchy Trey lick, the band turned the rock textures more rhythmic, creating some fast-paced whole-band patterns, as they completed each others’ musical thoughts with an awesome proficiency.  In the most dynamic segment of the set, this “Piper” continued on its driving path, cushioned by completely unique bass lines, and led by slicing and dicing guitar acrobatics.  Naturally arriving in “Water in the Sky” out of a more ambient section, it was cool to see Phish moving organically and landing wherever they landed, regardless of song or placement.

Hartford (A.Hill)

8.14.09 (A.Hill)

The non-stop nature of this set continued with the long-awaited return of “Ghost,” which had not heard from since the tour-opening highlight at Red Rocks.  Pumping the amphitheatre with more energy to the point of implosion, Phish tore into the jam with an opposite feel of Red Rocks’ wide-open funk; this time favoring more a more intense, driving course.  The band locked into some on-point improv, with Trey making guitar runs all over the place.  The consistent rhythm allowed him and Page to create some searing leads, directing the forceful jam to the top with their two-part creativity.

But when they arrived at the top of the blistering piece, Trey sat into a hard rhythmic riff that brought the band seamlessly into “Psycho Killer!”  Having been played over the PA before the show with lyrical accompaniment by many fans, one has to believe the band caught wind of this and playfully worked in the song for the only time since Dayton ’97.  But when they finished crushing the Talking Head’s song, the antics began.

Dance Contest (D.Vann)

"Dance Contest" (D.Vann)

Trailing down into a digital pattern that sounded more like a futuristic video game than music, the band sustained the pattern as Trey began poking fun at a kid in the front row who continued gyrating to the bizarre sounds.  Out of the joke came an impromptu Trey vs. Fish dance contest to the same music to the amusement of all.  The band had already ripped so hard, that any fun asides seemed completely appropriate- and Trey continued the side-show by beginning the lyrics to “Catapult” over the same backing texture.

Hartford (T.Salido)

Hartford (T.Salido)

As he continued to banter over the strange rhythm, he turned the course of his narration as soon as the band began the chord progression to the rarely played homage to the god of Gamehendge, “Icculus.”  As soon as the song was discernible, the audience responded with an ovation.  Trey began talking about his youth, when there were no video games and technology, and comparing it to the present with us “crazy kids out there with [our] iPhones and [our] DVDs, listening to [our] auto-tuned music; it’s all machines!” Then, in the line of the night, he said, “But what I want to ask you is, when was last time that one of you  picked up a fucking book?!”  Exploding the amphitheatre with his comical splicing of present day culture and Gamehendge lore, we hadn’t seen Trey this animated in ages.  It wasn’t the fact that they were playing “Icculus” that was so exciting, it was hearing that passionate voice we had heard on our earliest analogs scream about the fucking book!  That’s what mattered!  Trey was feeling his history, basking in the culture he created, and subsequently feared and ended twenty years later.  His  spirit was back; after all the legal entanglements, addiction, and rehab- we had our hero had returned!  We had heard him play like a maestro throughout the tour, but rarely did he say anything. As he continued his absurd and extensive rantings, it was like being reunited with an old friend- a spirit we hadn’t felt in ages.  It wasn’t about the bust-out- it was about passion, a old-school passion we never knew we’d see again.  It was about The Book and all its symbolism.  It was about being reconnected to Phishiness again.

Hartford (Drazin)

Hartford (Drazin)

As the band closed the show with a “YEM” that was more antics than improv, it didn’t seem to matter.  Though I would have liked to see a huge blowout “YEM” to cap the night as much as anyone, Phish had left it all on the table in a series of high-spirited, non-stop jams.  So when Trey began to shimmy to his band’s groove instead of add to it, everything was relative to the special evening that had just unfolded.

Among all the musically significant shows this past tour, Hartford represented something unique; something special.  No doubt the music was great, but more than anything, that Phishy spirit that grabbed our imaginations at some point on our lives, and ran away with it, was back in effect.  Walking out of Hartford into mild summer eve, it felt as if the Lizards had wrestled The Book away from Wilson- and Errand Wolf- if only briefly, and all was right in Gamehendge once again.

=====

Winged music noteJams of the Day:

“Piper > Water In the Sky” 8.14 II

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

“Ghost > Psycho Killer” 8.14 II

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

=====

DOWNLOAD OF THE DAY:

8.14.09 Comcast Center Hartford, CT < Torrent

8.14.09 Comcast Center Hartford, CT < Megaupload

3823520005_82f4aeb7e6After searching for a great AUD source, this is the best I could find for now.

I: Punch You in the Eye, AC/DC Bag, NICU, Colonel Forbin’s Ascent > Fly Famous Mockingbird, Birds Of A Feather, Lawn Boy, Stash, I Didn’t Know, Middle Of The Road, Character Zero

II: Down With Disease > Wilson > Slave To The Traffic Light, Piper > Water In The Sky, Ghost > Psycho Killer > Catapult > Icculus > You Enjoy Myself

E: While My Guitar Gently Weeps

Source: Schoeps MK4 > KC5 > CMC6 > Sonosax SX-M2 >  Apogee Mini-me(aes out@24 bit/96khz) > COAX > Edirol R-44 SD-HC Card > USB > Soundforge 8 (tracking,resample/dither to 16bit/44.1khz) > FLAC(Taper – Andy Murray)

***
jpg1

Hartford 8.14.09 – (Photo: Ryan Gilbertie)

Tags: , ,

The First Show of Summer

Posted in Uncategorized with the tags , , on May 28th, 2009 by Mr.Miner
Keyspan Park - 2004

Keyspan Park - 2004 (MSJ)

The first show of summer- there is nothing quite like it. Staring down the barrel of so many adventures, the tour- and possibilities- seem endless.  Always defined by a palpable energy and anticipation, Phish’s tour kickoff parties are always a blast.  With friends reuniting from across the country and beyond, everyone is always in great spirits and raring to go as soon as they arrive in the chosen city of destination.  This will be the case- plus more- come Sunday in Boston, considering how many people will be seeing their first glimpse of Phish in 2009.  After Hampton’s ticket debacle, many loyal fans were forced to wait it out until this summer to get their first 3.0 fix, and the time has finally come!

7.6.03 - Tech Rehearsal @ Cricket Pavilon (M.Gordon)

Tech Rehearsal @ Cricket Pavilon (M.Gordon)

Fenway will be vibrating with so much collective energy this weekend, awaiting all the new material Phish has to offer, and rocking to updated versions of the classics.  Predicting what they will play, while fun, is ultimately futile. (“Time Turns Elastic,” “Tweezer” to open set II?) But I do predict that almost every single person in the stadium Sunday will have a one-of-a-kind Phish experience that will be as fun as any they’ve ever had.  There is no more time to wait, only time to pack up and travel!  So as you go on your way to Fenway, or whatever your first summer show will be, take the appropriate tunes contained within “Miner’s Picks: Summer Kickoff Party.”  Contained on the compilation are highlights from the first shows of each US summer tour spanning the years of 1995-2004.  The time is now, so enjoy the music and get ready to launch into summertime!

***
DOWNLOAD “MINER’S PICKS: SUMMER KICK OFF PARTY”
< LINK

DOWNLOAD “MINER’S PICKS: SUMMER KICKOFF PARTY” ——————-^TORRENT LINK

***

1-3) 6.7.95 – BSU Pavilion, Boise, ID

I. Ha Ha Ha > Tatse

II. Harry Hood

4,5) 8.2.96 – Wolf Mountain, Park City, UT

I. Tweezer

II. Fluffhead

6-10) 7.21.97 – Virginia Beach Amp., VA

I. Ghost

Bathtub Gin

II. Wolfman’s > Magilla

Slave

11-13) 7.15.98 – Portland Meadows, Portland, OR

I. Moma Dance

II. Tweezer > Free

14-17) 6.30.99 – Sandstone Pavilion, Bonner Springs, KS

I. Baththub Gin

II Free

My Left Toe > Stash

18-20) 6.22.00 –  AmSouth Amp, Antioch, TN

II. Jibboo > 2001 > Sand

21-22) 7.7.03 – Cricket Pavilion, Phoenix, AZ

II. Wolfman’s > Scents and Subtle Sounds (debut)

23-27) 6.17.04 – Keyspan Park, Coney Island, NY

I. Moma Dance > Free

II. 46 Days > Possum

E. Divided Sky

=====

DOWNLOAD OF THE DAY:

6.30.95 Great Woods, Mansfield, MA < TORRENT LINK

1995-06-30gnThis is not a first show of tour, but one on the home stretch of the massive musical outing of Summer ’95.  This show sparked the final twi-night stand before Sugarbush’s quasi-festival ended the triumphant summer.  There is great playing througout this one, as Phish was a well-oiled machine at the end of tour.  This one is coming at you as the last pre-tour reader request – enjoy!

I: AC/DC Bag, Scent of a Mule, Horn, Taste, The Wedge, Lizards, Mound, Fee, Run Like an Antelope

II: Also Sprach Zarathustra > Possum > Ha Ha Ha, TMWSIY > Avenu Malkenu > Mike’s Song > Contact > Weekapaug Groove, Amazing Grace, The Squirming Coil

E: HYHU > Cracklin’ Rosie > HYHU, Golgi Apparatus

Source: Unknown

Tags: , ,

Five Songs That Got Shut Out

Posted in Uncategorized with the tags , , on April 5th, 2009 by Mr.Miner
Hampton (J.Volckhausen)

Hampton (J.Volckhausen)

After playing 84 songs over six never-ending sets at Hampton’s last month, Phish still managed to leave a few classic pieces untouched.  With only three shows, there was no doubt that some songs would have to be left off the guest list, with their finger in the air.  But when sets turned into mini-shows, and the evenings stretched to four hours, it seemed that no stone would be left unturned.  As the band tore into most of their classic old-school repertoire, it seemed that we would hear all of the significant snippets from Phish history.  Yet upon further review, we missed a couple.  And given the vibe of the weekend, it is hard to believe that these, somehow, missed the cut.

1. “The Lizards”

The gateway to Gamehendge, “Lizards” is a hallmark of early Phish composition.  One of the most-loved non-improvisational pieces in the band’s catalog, “Lizards” embodies the Phishy spirit and was, similarly, the gateway to the world of Phish for many a fan.  Its absence within the three-show weekend wasn’t noticeable at the time, yet unfathomable in retrospect.  Trey’s composed “If I Were a Dog” solo in the second half of “Lizards” is one of the most sacred moments of Phish music, and one we will be sure to hear this summer.

2. “Cavern”

Hampton (J.Volckhausen)

Hampton (J.Volckhausen)

One of the most popular set closers in the band’s history, “Cavern” could have also slid anywhere within those two-hour first sets.  “Cavern” was one of the feel-good arrivals of a Phish show, and often the song that punctuated that special set.  Its funky rhythms always gave you one last song to rage before the encore.  Choosing many less prominent songs over this night-time mission, Phish left “Cavern” to close a set this summer- coming soon to an amphitheatre near you.

3. “The Mango Song”

In a weekend in which Phish showcased their compositional chops on their most unique pieces, “Mango” was curiously absent.  Debuted in ’89, this happy genre-defying song was played consistently through the years if not often.  Its relative rarity built it into a crowd favorite, and it would seem to have fit the bill for Hampton just right.  Carrying a distinctly summertime vibe, perhaps they decided to save it for the warmer months, just like last Friday’s Phish Thoughts’ feature song, “Ya Mar.”

4. “Ya Mar”

Hampton (J.Bryce)

Hampton (J.Bryce)

A song that dates back to Phish’s days of college, this adopted cover was a staple of summer Phish.  It wouldn’t be surprising to see it appear early in the first show at Jones Beach, welcoming the community back to the summer circuit.  Its calypso rhythms and island vibe would fit nicely along the water at Wantaugh, NY for the first summer show since ’04.

5. “Llama”

In any three-day exploration of old-school Phish, one would expect to hear this short and fiery Gamehendge reference.  Embodying the tightness and precision that band has vowed to reconnect with, “Llama” would have been musically congruent with the weekend’s goal.  You would imagine that this one won’t stay in hiding for long, and when it does return, expect it to jump of the stage with a renewed gusto.

Sure, they could never have fit them all into three shows, but after brainstorming which songs were left off the list, these were the non-selections that stood out the most.  All fixtures the Phish’s early catalog, each holds a distinct and special place in the band’s history.  Applying only trivial significance into these omissions, it is interesting to think back at all those hours of Phish and realize that we never heard these five.

ADDENDUM: “Golgi” and “Fee”

feeAfter waking up this morning and reading through the comments, I realized somehow left out “Fee” and “Golgi”- two of the songs that should most definitely be on this list before “Mango” and “Yamar.”  These omissions are directly related to the lack of sleep I got all weekend and the tired state in which I wrote this post.  These classics of the Phish catalog were two of the more surprising omissions given their history and popularity amongst all levels of fans. (How could they not play “Golgi” after that ticket fiasco!?)

Other significant older pieces that were left outside of Hampton looking in were: “The Sloth,” “McGrupp,” “Lifeboy,” “Mound,” and “Julius.”

=====

DOWNLOAD OF THE DAY:

12.31.91 Worcester Memorial Auditorium, MA SBD < LINK

12.31.91 Worcester Memorial Auditorium, MA SBD < TORRENT LINK

Phish Poster 5/91

Phish Poster 5/91

Sticking with the old-school theme of the day, here is a SBD copy of the 1991 New Year’s Eve show.  This would be the final New Year’s without some sort of additional spectacle.  Just lots of crisp, old-school jamming.  This one contains many a Phish classic.

I: Possum, Foam, Sparkle, Stash, Lizards, Guelah Papyrus, The Divided Sky, Esther > Llama, Golgi Apparatus

II: Brother, Bouncing Around the Room > Buried Alive > Auld Lang Syne, Runaway Jim, The Landlady, Reba, Cavern, My Sweet One, Run Like an Antelope

III: Wilson > The Squirming Coil, Tweezer > McGrupp and the Watchful Hosemasters > Mike’s Song > I Am Hydrogen > Weekapaug Groove**

E: Lawn Boy, Rocky Top, Tweezer Reprise

Tags: , ,

Straight Across

Posted in Uncategorized with the tags , , on March 26th, 2009 by Mr.Miner

Equilibrium: a state of balance between opposing forces or actions.

In "Line" at Hampton (J. Kravitz)

In "Line" at Hampton (J. Kravitz)

Equilibrium is the state that Phish attains when things are flowing subconsciously- in from the universe and out through their instruments.  It is this state that is sought every time the band steps on stage; sometimes it happens, sometimes it doesn’t- but the ride of discovery is half the fun.  Phish has utilized different techniques throughout their career in a constant attempt to achieve this musical balance.  From their famous “Fill in the ‘Hey” hole” jamming exercise to their collegiate Oh Kee Pah Ceremonies; from “the Blob” that formed Billy Breathes to their collaborative funk grooves, Phish has continually strove to reach a musical equilibrium.

3.8.09 (Unknown)

3.8.09 (Unknown)

One of Phish’s techniques used to achieve this balance throughout most of their career was their “four across” stage set up- Fish and Page turned in slightly and looking at each other.  Absent from 1999 to 2004, the band came out at Hampton in their original stage set up- the one we grew up with.  This was clearly an intentional return to the band’s on-stage roots, and the decision carries a certain significance and symbolism.  Set up as four equal parts, all next to, and able to see, each other’s eyes, the “old” Phish was back.  As the band reconnects with many of their early musical habits in 2009, the switch to the old-school lineup aligns perfectly with this rejuvenation.

3.6.09 (Unknown)

3.6.09 (Unknown)

At the first show of 1999- June 30th at Bonner Springs- the band took the stage, for the first time in their career, in a new arrangement.  Fish was placed on a riser behind the band- the conventional spot for a drummer.  Mike was brought front and center, while Trey was bumped to stage left.  Quite disorienting at first, the band remained with this set up all the way through 2000.  Mike’s prominence in the music, and a physically-tighter rhythm section were going theories as to why the switch was made at this time.

When the band came back from their hiatus, there was another on-stage shape shift.  Trey returned to his place in the middle of the band, able to better communicate with everyone, and Mike assumed his former spot on stage left.  Meanwhile, Fish remained behind the other members in the same position.  The band carried this arrangement throughout the 2.0 era, and it seemed like the “line” was forever gone.

Fast forward five years- we enter The Mothership.  Re-acclimating ourselves to the foreign, yet familiar, surroundings, when glancing up at the stage, we are struck by the “line” again!  Initiating the old-school vibe before a note was even played, Phish was returning to their roots.  The stage looked normal again, and when the band came out with “Fluffhead,” everything seemed to be falling into place.  This was the band we knew!

"Contact" (J.Kravitz)

"Contact" (J.Kravitz)

Phish has always been a musical phenomenon- four equal cogs that, when working together, equal far more than the sum of their parts.  Musical balance is key to this transcendence; absorbing the ideas of all four band members equally- questing for that moment.  With their return to the original stage set up, the balance of Phish’s music is once again physically manifested.  Lined up as peers, each member is an equal part of the greatest whole on earth.  The band’s original arrangement will likely trigger their original stage dynamic and style of communication.  We began to observe this already at Hampton.  As Phish continues to forge a new musical path, they will do so with revitalized energy, a dedication to practice, and an enhanced physical balance.  With this recipe, the result will be an aural equilibrium that will provide many an adventure in IT.

***

3361128558_ac96397072

Hampton – Photo: Jeff Kravitz (insidecelebpics)

=====

DOWNLOAD OF THE DAY:

phish-red-rocks-946.10.1994 Red Rocks < LINK

6.10.1994 Red Rocks < TORRENT LINK

Everyone knows about the stellar 6.11.94 Red Rocks show with the great FM SBDs that have circulated over the years.  This show was the night before.  A classic second set was anchored by the epic beautiful combination of “Curtain > Tweezer > Lifeboy,” and capped with a vintage ’94 “Hood.”  “Demand > Bowie” added some beef to the openeing frame.

I: Runaway Jim, Foam, Sample in a Jar, Nellie Cane, Demand > David Bowie, Lizards, Cavern, Julius

II: Axilla [Part II], The Curtain > Tweezer > Lifeboy, Sparkle, Possum, HYHU > I Wanna Be Like You > HYHU, Harry Hood, Tweezer Reprise

E: Sleeping Monkey > Rocky Top


Source: Nuemann TLM 170i>DAT [Set 1: Sub-cariods; Set 2: Cariods)


Tags: , ,

A Ghost Encounter

Posted in Uncategorized with the tags , , on March 24th, 2009 by Mr.Miner
3.7.08 (D.Pecoraro)

3.7.08 (D.Pecoraro)

Phish jams provide so much more than mere music- they are experiences.  When the “Tweezer” lick or “Mike’s” riff drops, that adrenaline we feel isn’t due to the audio stimuli we are about to receive, but rather the all-encompassing life experience we are about to notch into our belt.  The experience of a Phish jam moves beyond “listening” into the realm of “living.”  These jams bring us inspiration, fear, introspection, catharsis, and revelation- this is the fabric of life.  This contributes to the humor when parents or non-Phishies ask us why we would want to attend four straight shows.  Always a difficult question to answer to those who haven’t experienced IT, we often find ourselves stuck- or talking for ten minutes- trying to explain.  It all comes down to the live experience- experience– those moments where nothing else matters; this was one of those moments.

It was Saturday night in Hampton, and Phish had just finished their best segment of music to that point.  “Rock and Roll > Limb” gave us an initial taste of 3.0’s improv.  After a ripping ride, one might have predicted a more mellow song waiting in the wings- but there wasn’t.  Lurking right around the corner was one of those experiences.

n530651454_1889642_7918341

3.7.09 (D.Pecoraro)

As the peak of “Limb” ended, many needing a quick breather, but Phish would not allow it, easing their way into the opening grooves of “Ghost.”  Simply hearing this beginning after a five year absence, and knowing all the crazy rides the song had taken us on, was enough to send our energy directly through the roof.  Echoes of yesteryear came flooding into the Coliseum, hearkening back to the colossal Hampton “Ghost” of 1997.  As soon as the rhythmic patterns started oozing from the stage, that feeling returned.  That eager anticipation you feel when you couldn’t be more excited for the moment- we were about to live a “Ghost” jam for the first time in half a decade- and my brain was overdosing with adrenaline.

Hampton (D.Pecoraro)

Hampton (D.Pecoraro)

Without any noodling, Trey got right down to business, offering edgy, uncompressed lines over a methodical groove.  Soon the band joined the improvisation, crafting a communicative pattern around a three-note phrase by Trey.  Following the beginning of the jam, the music opened up quite a bit more, allowing space for Mike, Page, and Trey to play shorter, staccato melodies that fit in and around each other like an intricate jigsaw puzzle.  With no one member overpowering this segment of music, the band’s collaborative effort stood out- especially with their new live mix.

Hampton (D.Pecoraro)

Hampton (D.Pecoraro)

Coming to a natural transition, the band shifted back into a more traditional “Ghost” story, with Trey playing sustained wails over the band’s soundscape rather than focusing on dance rhythms.  The music began to ascend- chasing Trey’s emotive offerings, and before we knew it, the band latched onto his melodic geyser, following his lead into one of the most spiritual releases of the weekend.  This was the first time that Trey stopped thinking and just played what was in his heart- and it was so, so obvious.  The previously calculative Jedi had lost himself in his music, inviting us to come along, rediscovering the unbridled joy in the organic peak of a beautiful Phish jam.

3.8.09 (J.DiGiuseppe)

"AC/ DC Bag" 3.8.09 (J.DiGiuseppe)

The emotions evoked within myself, as I’m sure many others, were awing.  There we were again- merged with the band in the middle of IT- dancing our hearts out because nothing else mattered.  It was a powerful moment; rediscovering the experience of Phish as the band grew more comfortable on stage once again.  Soon after the climactic peak, the band slid down the jam’s denouement and right into “Piper.”  This “Ghost” authoritatively completed the message whose delivery had started with “Rock and Roll > Limb”- Phish’s emotional improv was back.  While much of the first three sets carried the vibe of a recital, it was this second set that announced the band’s creative return.  And it wasn’t until “Ghost” that we caught a glimpse into the soul of the band that will inspire us through the next part of our lives.

LISTEN TO 3.7’s “GHOST” NOW! < LINK (Roll over link and press play)

n530651454_1889636_6318826

“The Mothership” – Photo: Dave Pecoraro

=====

DOWNLOAD OF THE DAY:

8.6.96 Red Rocks < LINK

8.6.96 Red Rocks < TORRENT LINK

8.4.96 (J.Richter)

8.4.96 Red Rocks (J.Richter)

Moving right along, here we have night three of 1996’s famed stint at Red Rocks.  If you are following along, we will go though every show the band has played at the legendary venue this week. The no-brainer highlights of this show are the first set-ending “Antelope” and a sublime “Tweezer” that is one of my personal favorites.  Look for the gorgeous “Hood” that concluded the night’s jamming.  This one is a keeper.

I: Makisupa Policeman, Rift*, Suzy Greenberg, Simple, Theme From the Bottom, Lizards, Dinner and a Movie, Horn, Run Like An Antelope

II: The Curtainb> Tweezer**, Prince Caspian, A Day in the Life, Big Black Furry Creature From Mars, Purple Rain, Harry Hood#, Tweezer Reprise

E: Johnny B. Goode

*Contained “This is Red Rocks, This is the Edge” (referring to U2’s live album “Under a Blood Red Sky”), by Trey. **With “Norwegian Wood” jam. #First appearance of the “Hood!” chant after the band sings “Harry,” which was initiated by flyers passed out at the show.

Source: FOB > DFC/9th row > Sonic Studios Dsm6’/Pa6lc3s (w/60khz bass rolloff) > D7 @48k > Clone

Taper: J.P.

Tags: , ,

The Sound Of Phish

Posted in Uncategorized with the tags , , on March 23rd, 2009 by Mr.Miner
"Divided Sky" 3.6.09 (J. DiGiuseppe)

"Divided Sky" 3.6.09 (J. DiGiuseppe)

Hampton wasn’t just a new chapter for the band and the audience, it also represented a transition in front of house sound engineers for the first time since 1986.  Paul Languedoc had held down the soundboard at Phish shows for nearly two decades, and had become an institution in the Phish scene.  Like all institutions, legends were built around him- not just his mixing- but his individually hand-made guitars.  While many guitar players switch axes many times throughout a show, you’ll never see Trey ditch his trusty Languedoc- it’s the sound dreams are made of.  Versatile and beautiful, Trey’s guitar tone, while encompassing many variables, all starts with the Languedoc.  Mike also used a Languedoc-crafted bass until 1997, when he switched over to his Modulus, boasting a fuller sound for the band’s groove-heavy era.

3.6.09 (W.Rogell)

3.6.09 (W.Rogell)

But as an everyday member of the band, Languedoc was the sound guy.  As Paul has retired from the road, Hampton was our first taste of Phish without his oft revered mix.  And to be honest, I think it was better.  Back in the day, friends and I wondered why Languedoc was so consistently praised for his live mix; in short, we didn’t believe the hype.  If there was one thing Paul made sure of- you could always hear Trey at the top of the mix.  (And this is coming from a Trey lover to the end.)  While Mike and Page offered just as much musically, they were always turned noticeably down, and it often became humorous.

In fact, it wasn’t just us that noticed this; fans began to take notice on large scale.  In early 1997 a “social protest movement” grew within the Phish community- PLM or “People For a Louder Mike.”  It took an organized cadre of tapers and  hippies with a catchy slogan for Languedoc to amend a clear shortcoming!  Finally, Gordeaux got brought to an acceptable place of prominence in the live mix.  Coinciding with his switch to the Modulus, all of a sudden Mike was dropping bombs that enveloped the room- and it was the best.

"Sanity" 3.8.09 (J.DiGiuseppe)

"Sanity" 3.8.09 (J.DiGiuseppe)

Then you had Page.  It has become a virtual consensus among fans that he was at the top of his game in Hampton, leading jams and creating engaging melodic themes all weekend long.  And I completely agree with this.  While Trey was self-admittedly a bit tentative over the weekend, The Chairman stepped up throughout the shows, earning MVP for the comeback run on many a message board thread.

While there is no doubt that he was shredding, I now pose the question, “Was part of Page’s prominence in Hampton partially because we, literally, heard him better?”  Taking nothing away from his playing, I sincerely believe this factored into why he stood out so much.  Our ears had been trained- for years- by listening to a relatively unbalanced, guitar-heavy, live mix; one in which Page was most easily lost.  Hence, with a more balanced mix, Page would naturally stand out.

3.6.09 (W.Rogell)

3.6.09 (W.Rogell)

In addition, Languedoc’s mixes weren’t the most dynamic- meaning he wasn’t always responding to what was going on stage.  If someone steps up to lead a jam, they should be pushed up ever so slightly in the mix, in order to complement the natural contour of the music.  While potentially inaudible in one instance, over an entire show of  “dynamic” mixing, the music will “pop” much more.  To be fair, Languedoc had a very good mix, but he definitely had his taste of how it should sound.  Once he achieved that sound, he became somewhat of a creature of habit with the knobs.  I know this may sound blasphemous to some fans out there, but it is certainly not meant in any inflammatory way.  Paul did a great job for a long time, but had a propensity to settle in with the room sounding a certain way.  Ultimately, Languedoc’s true passion seems to lie in his custom guitars, where he has chosen to focus his work from here on out.

3.6.09 (W.Rogell)

3.6.09 (W.Rogell)

I have no idea who did the live mix for Hampton, but I do know that it sounded amazing and far more balanced.  Yes, they was the first shows back, it had been a while- but after seeing hundreds of shows, it was something that jumped out each night.  And the best illustration of this new-found balance was how crystal clear Page sounded all weekend long.  In a band of such uniquely talented musicians, all should be treated equal, with necessary adjustments made on the fly.  At Hampton, this four-part equilibrium was closely approached- maybe moreso than ever.  Call me crazy, but I it noticed on all three nights.

This is in no way meant to bash Languedoc- he always had it sounding spot-on in all types of rooms for nearly twenty years- but his affinity for big guitar often compromised Page’s contributions.  I’m not even sure if the person who mixed Hampton is a permanent hire – but it’s fascinating how someone stepped in for their first time ever and had the mix sounding so vibrant.  It’s interesting what a fresh pair of ears with no preconceptions can do.

Do you Agree?  Disagree?  I’d love to hear your opinions in Comments!

rogell-9

“The Return” – 3.6.09 – Photo: Wendy Rogell

=====

DOWNLOAD OF THE DAY:

8.5.96 Red Rocks < LINK

8.5.96 Red Rocks < TORRENT LINK

8.5.96 @ Red Rocks (J.Richter)

8.5.96 @ Red Rocks (J.Richter)

Continuing on our tour through Red Rocks history, today we have the second night from Phish’s four-night stand in 1996.  Look out for monster bookends of set two in “2001 > Disease” and a heavy “Mike’s Groove.”

I: Wilson, Poor Heart, Guelah Papyrus, The Divided Sky, Wolfman’s Brother, Foam, If I Could, Julius, The Squirming Coil

II: Also Sprach Zarathustra >  Down With Disease, It’s Ice, Halley’s Comet > Somewhere Over the Rainbow**, Waste^, Talk^#, Train Song^, Strange Design^, Amazing Grace, Mike’s Song > I Am Hydrogen > Weekapaug Groove

E: Cavern

**Page, solo on Theremin. ^Page on a smaller piano, Trey on acoustic guitar, Mike on acoustic bass, and Fishman on a smaller drum set (the “acoustic mini-stage”).  #First time played.

Source: FOB > DFC/9th row > Sonic Studios Dsm6’/Pa6lc3s (w/60khz bass rolloff) > D7 @48k > Clone

Taper: J.P.

Tags: , ,

Undecided, Undefined

Posted in Uncategorized with the tags , , on March 20th, 2009 by Mr.Miner
3.6.09 (W.Rogell)

3.6.09 (W.Rogell)

Out of the 84 songs we heard over the three nights at Hampton, only three were new to the Phish catalog.  Though the band has over twenty demos recorded for their new album, they broke out only three “new” songs.  But the choice of these three songs placed amidst the sacred Phish canon fit congruently with Trey’s assessment of the weekend in Rolling Stone- “Let’s take a step back together- and simultaneously a step forward.”

“Backwards Down the Number Line,”  “Beauty of a Broken Heart,” and “Undermind”- the debuted triumvirate- all carry a common thread of reuniting and moving forward.  As carefully as Trey worked over these setlists, you can be sure that these three songs were specifically chosen to communicate a message; one of re-found happiness, reunion, and redemption.

3.6.09 (W.Rogell)

3.6.09 (W.Rogell)

“Backwards Down the Number Line” opened the first second set of chapter three, and placed in this significant slot, its meaning cannot be ignored.  Originally, the song was a birthday poem that Tom Marshall wrote to Trey while he was living alone in upstate New York.  In Rolling Stone, Trey referenced the first time he got the poem from Tom.

As soon as I read it I put it to music.  It summed up how I feel not only about Tom but the band and our audience.  It’s about getting younger.  Let’s take a step back together- and simultaneously a step forward.  That’s what these shows feel like.  I had to play that song.

Reuniting and moving forward; remembering the past with our sights set on the future- that is what Hampton was all about, and Trey couldn’t have summed it up better.  “The only rule is it begins,  Happy happy oh my friend.”

Page McConnell (hiddentrack.com)

Page McConnell (A. Kaufman)

“Beauty of a Broken Heart” was the biggest surprise of the three debuts, coming from Page’s self-titled solo album released in 2007.  Written as a reflection on Phish’s breakup, there couldn’t have been a more fitting song for the band to adopt as they came back together.

Immobilized I realized
misjudged the situation’s size…

A love supreme, an ancient art
a finely tuned piano part
that plays its notes from stop to start
and hinges on a broken heart…

Though seasons change and seeds may start
the beauty of a broken heart
cannot be seen but in full view
the colors can come back to you.

These lyrics, written as a musing on something that had ended grew new meaning now that Phish is back together.  Most literally, the colors have come back to us.  This was not only a poignant moment of the show, but also a rare addition from Page to the Phish repertoire.  Seeming like the band may try to incorporate their diverse solo material into the collective mix, this could be the beginning of a pattern.

3.8.09 (P.Lucks)

3.8.09 (P.Lucks)

Perhaps the most symbolic debut of the weekend was “Undermind.”  The long awaited title track made its appearance in the first set of the last show, foreshadowing what is to come in the Phish world.  Tweaked musically, the performance featured crunchier grooves than we were used to hearing on the album.  Downplaying melody in favor of rhythm, the song adopted a funk-reggae feel.  But as infectious as the grooves were, the lyrics painted a playful picture of where the band is at right now.

Undecided, undefined
Undisturbed, yet undermind

Relocated, not retired
Reprimanded and rewired

Mystified and mishapen
Misinformed, but not mistaken

Reinvented, redefined
Rearranged, but not refined.

With the repetitive line of “Undecided, Undefined” leading out of the jam into the end of the song, the message was clear- the future is wide open. A song that seems like it was written and shelved just for the band’s comeback, the synchronicities between its lyrics and the state of the Phish scene are remarkable.  Perhaps the most exciting debut, musically, fans immediately foresaw this groove-based vehicle going places come June and beyond.

3.7.08 (M. Walters)

3.7.08 (M. Walters)

While new material may not have been the focus of Hampton, the carefully selected debuts conveyed a powerful message.  Between the three songs, we can infer a genuine enthusiasm for the band’s reunion and a commitment to forge a new path for Phish.  As we move in to summer and will hear more of what “the new” has to offer, understand that it represents where the band is coming from now.  Don’t be that jaded fan to knock a song because you never heard it before and it’s not “Tweezer”‘- even “Tweezer” was a new song once too you know.

=====

DOWNLOAD OF THE DAY:

8.4.96 Red Rocks, Morrison, CO < LINK

8.4.96 Red Rocks, Morrison, CO < TORRENT LINK

Red Rocks (Hidden Track)

Red Rocks (Hidden Track)

With all the Red Rocks madness engulfing the scene over the last 24 hours, I figured we would revisit the epic four night stand that got the banned in the summer of ’96.  Here’s night one, with others to follow.  Again, please use torrents.

I: Chalk Dust Torture, Funky Bitch, Guyute, Fee, Split Open and Melt, The Mango Song, The Sloth, Maze, Loving Cup

II: AC/DC Bag,  Reba, Scent of a Mule, Sample in a Jar, David Bowie, Sweet Adeline, Slave to the Traffic Light

E: Star Trek Theme*, Rocky Top

*Page, solo on Theremin.

***

20090308_2

3.8.09 – Photo: Marc Walters

Tags: , ,