Weekend Nuggets: Cover Clips

Posted in Uncategorized with the tags , , on November 5th, 2010 by Mr.Miner

“Join the Band > Fat Man In the Bathtub” 10.31.10 II

The beginning of a legendary Halloween performance.


“Makisupa > Night Nurse > Makisupa” 10.26.10 II

The most authentic reggae cover the band has ever pulled off. In memory of Gregory Isaacs.


“Chalkdust > Whole Lotta Love > Chalkdust” 10.30.10 I

The most explosive and well-executed Led Zeppelin segment of the show – by far.

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Little Phish

Posted in Uncategorized with the tags , , , on November 1st, 2010 by Mr.Miner

10.31.10 II - Boardwalk Hall (Graham Lucas)

Phish redefined the Halloween experience on Sunday night in Atlantic City, ending their holiday mystery by playing Little Feat’s Waiting For Columbus, the first live album they have ever donned as a musical costume. Transforming Boardwalk Hall into a legitimate Seventies dance party, Phish recreated the concert experience of another band, taking their Halloween stunt to another level. Joined by a horn section and conga virtuoso, Giovanni Hidalgo, on percussion, the band slayed a double-album that reflected the ensemble jamming featured so prominently throughout fall tour. Dipping into several musical textures, much like Phish themselves, Waiting For Columbus proved to be the ideal choice for the band right now. Elevating their game throughout the tour, Phish capped the winding road of fall with a defining Halloween performance that will certainly leap into any debate over the best ever.

Excerpting David Fricke’s eloquent article in this year’s Phishbill:

Phish are not just playing another classic album, back to front…[they] are covering a legendary Seventies concert experience – what is was like to be like in the room when Little Feat ruled a stage, fusing salty blues, New Orleans second-line funk, zippy jazz-rock mischief and country-diner romance in drop-dead songwriting, with snapping-treble guitar action and stunning improvised crosstalk.

Little Feat - Waiting For Columbus

And they achieved their task to perfection, recreating this experience to a tee and executing the album with unmatched musicianship. Far more complex than covering a recorded set of songs, Phish masterfully learned a series of songs and live jams recorded over seven nights in London and Washington, DC, during August of 1977. Playing the double-disc with passion and precision, the set never dragged for a moment, stealing the show – and the weekend – in Atlantic City. From beat one, the groove grabbed the audience and never let go, providing the genuine feeling that we had been transported to a different place and time.

Beginning with the infectious opener “Fat Man In the Bathtub,” the collaborative rhythmic focus of the album became wholly apparent right away, signifying a far more participatory experience than in past years. To quote Fricke, “…you will be expected to dance. Anastasio can’t help raving about the mad wicked action in these songs.” With varying time signatures, a dirty, blues-based sensibility, and collaborative improvisation throughout, Waiting For Columbus proved to be the aural treat after Phish’s Led Zeppelin “trick” on the 30th. The album not only showcased the band’s impeccable current chops, but also contained slower funk realms that sounded natural and addictive in Phish’s musical medium.

In terms of familiarity, everyone knew “Time Loves A Hero,” an Phish cover that has popped up in setlists from time to time, and the signature piece “Dixie Chicken” – both which provided earnest high points as Page took center stage on the latter. But familiarity hardly mattered with music this engaging; music that spoke to your body and loudly as your mind. Fusing blues, funk, jazz, and rock influences – much like Phish themselves – Little Feat’s culminating work fit provided the ideal soundtrack for a Halloween party.

10.31.10 II (Graham Lucas)

While the Waiting For Columbus set was drenched in songwriting and soul, carrying a notable energy and momentum from beginning to end, most would agree that the percussive-based “Spanish Moon” brought the most indelible group memory. Comprised of gooey, funk textures with dripping bass lines and nasty rhythm guitar licks, this ode to “whisky and bad cocaine” combusted the dance floor, providing the early favorite to stick in rotation. And when this piece ended, the retro-trip was only halfway over.

10.31.10 (G.Lucas)

Interestingly, Fishman wrote a piece in the Phishbill explaining that there has been no greater influence on his drumming that Little Feat’s late Richie Hayward. And throughout last night’s performance, the similarities became obvious as Fish covered Hayward’s melodic beats and lyrical phrasing. In classic Fishman fashion, he wrote,”I’ve already ripped this guy off so much that covering this album is my chance to finish the job once and for all!” He and Hidalgo worked in awesome unison, churning out dance patterns all night long that anchored the album in a dynamic rhythmic foundation.

Interpreting the legendary guitar work of Lowell George, Trey added his own accents and spice to the already-swaggering leads. A choice that seemed hand-picked for Trey, Waiting For Columbus provided him the chance to magnify his current style while encouraging more percussive offerings than we’ve seen from The Ocedoc this fall. One of Trey’s finest Halloween performances, his gutsy guitar tone fit the album perfectly and he navigated the diverse live tracks with staggering proficiency. Phish had clearly practiced this complex album with diligence, as the entire band came together in a magical Halloween transformation; an unforgettable set of music for the annals of Phish history.

10.31.10 II (G.Lucas)

By putting a barbershop quartet spin on the humorous and vocally-based, “Don’t Bogart That Joint,” and bringing Fishman front and center for the beautiful ballad “Willin’,” the band still managed to fit a few Phishy twists into an incredibly authentic performance. “Sailing Shoes” and “Feats Don’t Fail Me Know,” the final two songs of the liquid-flowing set, brought two more quintessential stops in the bass-led percussive pastures that underlined the entire album. And as Trey dug into his final solos of the second frame, they felt completely natural – as if he was swimming amidst his own music rather than playing that of another. Wearing a tightly-fitting musical costume, the lines between Little Feat and Phish became completely blurred last night in a Halloween set for the ages. The band pushed their holiday tradition to the next level this year, throwing an outright dance party like no other this fall, while simultaneously providing a genuine glimpse into the musical tradition that birthed Phish itself.

More to come on Halloween’s other two sets tomorrow!

I: Frankenstein, Big Black Furry Creature from Mars, Ghost > Spooky, The Divided Sky, Roses Are Free, Funky Bitch, Boogie On Reggae Woman, Stash, Character Zero

II: Fat Man in the Bathtub, All That You Dream, Oh Atlanta, Old Folks’ Boogie, Time Loves a Hero > Day or Night, Mercenary Territory, Spanish Moon, Dixie Chicken > Tripe Face Boogie, Rocket in My Pocket, Willin’, Don’t Bogart That Joint, A Apolitical Blues, Sailin’ Shoes, Feats Don’t Fail Me Now

III: Down with Disease > Back on the Train, Gotta Jibboo, Camel Walk, Suzy Greenberg, Wilson > Harry Hood, The Horse > Silent in the Morning, You Enjoy Myself

E: Julius

10.31.10 II Graham Lucas)

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Getting The Led Out

Posted in Uncategorized with the tags , , , on October 31st, 2010 by Mr.Miner

10.30.10 - Atlantic City, NJ (Dave Lavery)

Phish primed their Halloween audience on Saturday night with a fun and raucous rock show laced with Led Zeppelin history, crossing the strongest rumor off the never-ending list musical costume possibilities. Filling two sets with ballistic playing, Phish granted the Atlantic City audience an explosive and special show that will go down in the band’s rich Halloween lore.

On the eve of their three-set exclamation holiday show, the band crushed from beginning to end, with much of their impressive improvisation coming before setbreak. Popping through a set-opening trio of “Kill Devil Falls,” “Cavern” and “Foam,” the band clearly carried an extra something with them from the get go on Saturday night. But when the band ripped into what seemed like another innocuous first set “Chalk Dust,” the evening was just getting started. Phish transformed a furiously creative jam into a full-blown stop in Led Zeppelin’s “Whole Lotta Love” before dive-bombing for the ending of “Chalkdust.” At this point, the Zeppelin reference could have been a Halloween preview, or a tease altogether. But when Phish followed up the smoking segment with “Ha Ha Ha,” the joke was clearly on us, and we didn’t even know the half of it.

10/30 Official Poster

“Chalk Dust” began a scintillating first set run that continued with a sticky and percussive “Wolfman’s Brother” that continued to push the envelope of fall versions. Moving out of the composition into a vocal scat over a pulsing groove, the bands musical exploits never stopped while they simultaneously added a fifth vocal layer. Passing into a sparse rhythmic plane, Trey darted through the intricate beats with staccato melodies that Gordon answered with strong counter-leads of his own. Soon enough the band was neck-deep in a pit of percussive quicksand that continued to draw the band down the rabbit hole. Hinting at “Manteca” (as most funk jams this tour have at one point or another) all four members kicked in equitable antes in this rhythmic canvas. A strained, but well intended, transition brought the band from “Wolfman’s” into Fall’s first “Undermind.”

Continuing their rhythm-based jamming, Phish flowed into a standout version of “Undermind” that was delivered with enhanced precision and tightness that has characterized this tour. Trey and Mike entered a dynamic conversation while Fishman held the court for such a discussion to take place. Page comped this scene with organ swells that provided a backdrop for the three-piece summit. Look for some furious work from Red throughout this, potentially, best-ever version.

10.29.10 (J.Weber)

Following the post-hiatus song with two oldies, Phish closed the set with a massive “Bathtub Gin” and “Squirming Coil.” Highlighted by guitar acrobatics – an emerging theme of the show – Phish led “Bathtub Gin” down decidedly dancy road. Oozing right into the thick of things, it took Phish no time to lock into an initial groove that spiraled into a tornado of nasty guitar licks, ballooning bass lines, and collective melodic sensibility. This “Gin” built into a cathartic first set standout that brought one of the legitimate high points of the entire show. Flowing and connected with unparalleled urgency, Phish carried a Mack truck’s worth of momentum through this mind-numbing first half gem.

But after setbreak, Phish built a retro-adventure centered on a “Tweezer” that wove in and out of four Led Zeppelin songs, climaxing with the iconic final verse of “Stairway to Heaven.” As soon as the “Tweezer” jam dropped, Phish went right into tease of “Heartbreaker” before changing back into to “Tweezer” for a stellar couple of minutes that too quickly found their way “Ramble On.” Passing through mere portions of each Zeppelin song, Phish built a classic rock jigsaw puzzle that likened a joyride down high school’s memory lane. After passing through the gorgeous “Thank You,” Phish briefly returned to “Tweezer’s” theme before merging into “Stairway to Heaven.” Turning “Tweezer” into a straight up medley, Phish musically chuckled at any fans that had believed the hype, while creating a wildly entertaining sequence of music along the way.

10.30.10 (Dave Lavery)

Although a smashing and significant “Tube” opened the set followed by a “Possum” that stuck out like a sore thumb, what this show now needed was some pure Phish fire. All teases and jams aside, there was little meat in the second set until the final third. But any concerns were put to rest with an ornate sequence of “2001 > Bowie” that doused the end of the show with some serious improvisation.

Building on the revitalized versions of Fall, Phish absolutely went to town on “2001,” tearing apart the space-funk with a flying passion. Turning Boardwalk Hall upside down and spinning it around, the band really gave this version the full treatment, extending its second half into a clinic of groove. One of those versions where the mind shuts off and the body just moves, this one had the venue bumping as one in the middle of the second set. Flying off the chain with furious runs of notes, it had been ages since Trey had been so active and out front in the space-aged realm – and it was straight up glorious.

10.29.10 (J.Weber)

Dropping into “Bowie’s” intro at “2001’s” peak, the band unveiled another resuscitated piece of their catalog that has shined throughout Fall. A dialed-in rendition littered with nuances and intricacies, Mike, Trey and Page played a game of musical tag, chasing each other through a labyrinth of psychedelia. A perfect example of the new and improved Phish, the amount of ideas conveyed within this compact musical cannonball was stunning, as the band never let up from the moment the jam began. Unquestionably the musical highlight of the show, you can take “2001> Bowie” to the bank – top-notch stuff.

“Show of Life” set up a set closer from which the band could have selected a number of successful songs, but “Number Line” wasn’t one of them. Using this enigma of a song as a contained set closer contains very little power, and honestly, leaves the show wanting more. And luckily, last night, Phish had a little more in them, capping the set with a filthy and fitting encore of “Good Times, Bad Times.” Finalizing the evening with a last tease of “Whole Lotta Love” after “Reprise,” suffice it to say that Phish got their Led out on Saturday night, treating the South Jersey audience to a full-on experience. But now that Zeppelin is out, what will the costume be? Nobody knows a thing and the witching hour is quickly approaching! Your guess is as good as mine, but if one thing is for sure, the last night of Fall tour will be one for the books.

I: Kill Devil Falls, Cavern, Foam, Guelah Papyrus, Chalk Dust Torture > Whole Lotta Love > Chalk Dust Torture, Ha Ha Ha, Walk Away, Wolfman’s Brother > Undermind, Bathtub Gin*, The Squirming Coil

II: Tube, Possum*, Tweezer* > Heartbreaker^ > Ramble On^> Thank You^ > Tweezer > Stairway to Heaven^, Halley’s Comet > Also Sprach Zarathustra > David Bowie, Show of Life, Backwards Down the Number Line, Good Times Bad Times

E: Sleeping Monkey, Tweezer Reprise*

* w/ “Whole Lotta Love” teases, ^ incomplete

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Posted in Uncategorized with the tags , , , on October 28th, 2010 by Mr.Miner

10.11.10 - Broomfield (Brooks Perry)

Frank Zappa, Genesis, Led Zeppelin, Jimi Hendrix, Queen, King Crimson, and The Police are just some of the many artists that have been ground through the Halloween rumor mill in past weeks. While last year, Phish included their fan base in the evolving mystery of what musical costume they would don for the holiday, this year we have been left in the dark. So many rumors have been tossed around with so many rationalizations that it is hard to believe any of them. We are two days away from Halloween and Phish has the entire community stumped – and kudos to them for keeping the secret all to themselves.

Both Mike and Trey have done interviews vaguely discussing the Halloween album, both giving it high praise. Gordon said:

I’m really excited about it, to the point where I’m calling some of my friends and I’m saying, ‘Well, I don’t even have any more room on my guest list, but you’ve got to come somehow, because this is going to be the one.’ It just really feels right to me.

10.23.10 (C. La Jaunie)

While Trey’s significant soundbite was as follows:

This year, this one’s for me. The one we picked, I’m going to get more out of this as a musician than I ever have before. Three songs into it, I called everybody and told them, ‘None of the other ones — I wouldn’t think, hopefully — will have nearly the effect on my playing this one’s going to.

Without dropping any clues, the band, themselves, are hyping up Boadwalk Hall’s blowout, clearly enjoying the fact that nobody knows what will happen.

Just yesterday, Atlantic City radio personality, Pinky Kravitz (father of part-time Phish photographer, Jeff Kravitz) speculated in print that Phish will play Led Zeppelin for Halloween, citing a “magic mockingbird” as his source. This published conjecture has made the British rockers’ double-album “Physical Graffiti” the newest lead horse in this guessing derby. But if Phish has kept everyone guessing for this long, I find it highly unlikely they would allow the answer to leak days before Halloween.

Other front-running possibilities include Queen’s “A Night at the Opera,” Genesis, “The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway” or “Selling England By the Pound,” Jimi Hendrix’s “Electric Ladyland,” King Crimson’s “Lark’s Tongue In Aspic,” and any number of Frank Zappa albums. Assuming Phish is trying to please the entire audience, the abstract prog-rock of King Crimson has to be crossed out, while “The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway’s” 90-minute, intricate rock opera seems unlikely for similar reasons. Though Trey is known to love both of these bands, these albums seem too inaccessible for a Halloween party.

10.12.10 (Bill Hartlage)

While many fans have expressed interest in Phish stepping outside the boundaries of classic rock, many of the current possibilities are going right down that road. British glam-rockers, “Queen” and the eclectic Frank Zappa round out the most talked about candidates. Might the band honor the 15-year old fan ballot from 1995, when the high-vote getter was allegedly Zappa’s “Joe’s Garage?” That year, Phish vetoed the democratic process by playing The Who’s “Quadrophenia” at Rosemont Horizon in Chicago.

10.12.10 (B.Perry)

To add another layer to this puzzle, an anonymous inside source recently claimed this year’s musical costume is more complex and was harder for the band to learn than any they’ve chosen before. This clue has pushed my thinking in the direction of Zappa’s catalog and away from the guitar-driven rock of Zeppelin and Hendrix. But at this point, nobody is sure of anything – and that is the best aspect of the mystery!

Another part of me feels that Phish might have a huge prank waiting in the wings and that all of these conjectures are way off base. I don’t know where that leaves us, but something might happen that nobody ever saw coming. All of the talked albums have been talked about in previous years, and it would be just like Phish to come out and play something in a completely opposite direction. Last year, clues were leaked by now and some people knew the deal, but nobody I’ve come in contact with on tour seems to have a clue.

With only five sets of Phish separating us from the answer, musical hints may lie within. So keep your ears peeled and keep on guessing, because something tells me we won’t know the answer until it happens. And that’s just the way the band wants it.

10.12.10 - Broomfield (Bill Hartlage)

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Cover Flow

Posted in Uncategorized with the tags , , on July 13th, 2010 by Mr.Miner

6.26.10 - Merriweather (Graham Lucas)

In a clear effort to freshen up summer setlists, Phish unveiled no less than 10 one-time covers over the 18 shows the season’s opening leg. Placing some innocently within first sets, and others more dramatically within the depths of second halves, the effects of these songs varied from case to case. A process unseen since the Summer of ’98, it seemed that Phish brought a new cover to the setlist almost nightly. This summer brought a more eclectic bunch of songs than the popular anthems covered twelve years ago,  as several songs went unknown until after the show to most fans. Phish also included songs everyone knew, offering a melange of tracks from different genres and eras. It remains to be seen if anything will come of these covers, or if they were just dashes of spice in their respective shows. Regardless of their future, here are the ten covers the band debuted last tour, with a blurb about each. (Every selection has two audio tracks, Phish’s rendition and the original.)


1. “Look Out Cleveland” – The Band, debuted 6.12 I

The Band

Opening up the second night of tour, this song’s lyric, “Look Out Cleveland, there’s a storm coming through,” was appropriate on two levels. Not only was inclement weather predicted for the evening, the typhoon of Phish had spun off Chicago, about to devour Blossom Music Center. The song’s Americana feel completely fit Phish’s current vibe, and this opening cover seemed like it was heading much further when the band cut it off for the similarly-vibed, “Ocelot.” If any of these covers are actual candidates to stay in rotation, this one could work quite well.

[audio:http://phishthoughts.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/07/ph2010-06-12t01.mp3] [audio:http://phishthoughts.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/07/09-Look-Out-Cleveland.mp3]


2. “Instant Karma” – John Lennon, debuted 6.12 II

John Lennon

Coming deep in Blossom’s second set, and completely out of left field, Phish’s cover of Lennon’s classic provided a jolt to an already stellar show. While the band didn’t nail the song, they certainly played it proficiently, as Page did a noble job on the iconic vocal track. One of the covers that provided more excitement exponentially than listening back, the mere inclusion of “Instant Karma” in this slot confirmed that Summer 2010 wouldn’t be the same old shtick.

[audio:http://phishthoughts.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/07/ph2010-06-12t15.mp3] [audio:http://phishthoughts.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/07/02-Instant-Karma-We-All-Shine-On.mp3]


3. “Cold Water” – Tom Waits, debuted 6.15 I

In this benign addition to Portsmouth’s first set, Phish smoothed out a gritty song, losing something in translation. Adding a loafing groove to the song, the band put their own twist on “Cold Water.” This song neither added or detracted from Virginia’s first set, but I doubt we’ll hear this one again.

[audio:http://phishthoughts.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/07/phish2010-06-15.d1t10.mp3] [audio:http://phishthoughts.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/07/06-Cold-Water.mp3]


4. “Lit O Bit” – Rita Clarke and The Naturals, debuted 6.22 I

Rita Clarke

Opening Great Woods, I’m not sure anyone knew this jazzy, Dixieland number. A piano-led ragtime feel exuded from this New Orleans-esque cover that got Tuesday night’s show started in fresh fashion. A harmless ditty, this one could come back to the first set rotation to replace a stale oldie, and I wouldn’t mind one bit. A more authentic “Party Time,” this cover provides the same musical feel as Phish’s original.

[audio:http://phishthoughts.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/07/ph2010-06-22_mk41_1644_d1t02.mp3] [audio:http://phishthoughts.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/07/04-Lit-O-Bit.mp3]


5. “The Rover” – Led Zeppelin, debuted 6.24 I

Physical Graffiti

Closing one of the strongest first sets of tour, Phish busted out “The Rover” after a powerful “Reba” jam, putting an ripping exclamation point on Camden’s first frame. Collectively nailing the cover,  Page tackled the dynamic vocal once again; and if Phish were to keep a song around to polish, this one would work great. A perfect placement helped the debut of “The Rover,” creating a definite buzz going into setbreak. Anytime Phish plays Zeppelin, it seems to work out, and this was no exception.

[audio:http://phishthoughts.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/07/ph2010-06-24t13.mp3] [audio:http://phishthoughts.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/07/6-02-The-Rover.mp3]


6. “A Free Man In Paris” – Joni Mitchell, debuted 6.25 I

Mike sang this mellow Joni Mitchell relic from 1974, that translated very well to the Phish stage. Featuring intricate, yet catchy, guitar lines, this tune carries a distinct likability. Again, if Phsh were to replace an over-played ballad with this cover, I’m all for it.

[audio:http://phishthoughts.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/07/ph2010-06-25t07.mp3] [audio:http://phishthoughts.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/07/03-Free-Man-In-Paris.mp3]


7. “In the Aeroplane Over the Sea” – Neutral Milk Hotel, debuted 6.26 I

In The Aeroplane Over the Sea

Only after the show did someone inform me that this song comes from one of the most critically-acclaimed Indie albums ever recorded. Once I listened to the wistful original that carries a distinctly melancholy vibe, I thought Phish missed this one altogether. They played this song as if impersonating a house band for a 1950s prom, and the heartfelt emotion of the song didn’t translate. I think Phish is just too happy these days to authentically play music like this. Oh, and doesn’t Trey have an acoustic guitar? That would have been helpful as well.

[audio:http://phishthoughts.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/07/ph2010-06-26t07.mp3] [audio:http://phishthoughts.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/07/03-In-The-Aeroplane-Over-The-Sea.mp3]


8. “Jumpin’ Jack Flash”The Rolling Stones, debuted 6.27 II

Emerging seamlessly out of “Ghost” amidst the most adventurous set of tour, Phish never missed a beat in nailing this Stones favorite. Building directly into a “Saw It Again” reprise to close the sequence of summer, the band inserted this newbie in the most dramatic of places. Fitting congruently within the dark set, “Jack Flash” came as a complete surprise bringing the set to an unquestionable peak. There are many Stones songs from Exile I think we’d see before Phish played this one again, but on this night, there was none better.

[audio:http://phishthoughts.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/07/ph2010-06-27t18.mp3] [audio:http://phishthoughts.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/07/2-01-Jumpin-Jack-Flash.mp3]


9.  “I Am the Walrus” – The Beatles, debuted 6.29 II

Segueing out of an ambient “Simple” jam in the middle of Canandaigua’s “Mike’s Groove,” “I Am the Walrus” made its own case for cover of the summer. Nailed precisely as if they’d been playing it for years, Phish masterfully incorporated the track from Magical Mystery Tour into their mid-week set. Building dissonant, psychedelic sheets of sound out of the song’s peak, Phish passed through a menacing metal jam on their way to “Weekapaug.” If used well, this song could have an impact should the band choose to keep it around. And with their well-documented affinity for The Beatles, who knows?

[audio:http://phishthoughts.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/07/ph2010-06-29_mk41_1644_d2t06.mp3] [audio:http://phishthoughts.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/07/06-I-Am-The-Walrus.mp3]


10. “Killing In the Name” – Rage Against the Machine, debuted 7.4 II


Saving their last cover for the last set of tour, Phish used the controversial punk cover as a narrative device in “Harpua’s” story that comically retold our the history of America. Creating an immediate implosion, the crowd ate up the profane ’90s anthem, shooting fans back to specific points in their lives. Though clearly part of the show’s tongue-in cheek humor, playing a song about institutional racism in the south on July 4th carries some level of socio-political connotation, intended or not. Regardless of political allusions, this thrashing piece created an indelible highlight from the onslaught of early-summer covers.

[audio:http://phishthoughts.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/07/ph2010-07-04t20.mp3] [audio:http://phishthoughts.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/07/02-Killing-In-the-Name.mp3]


Jam of the Day:

2001 > Light” 6.25 II

An all-time experiential highlight, Phish’s tribute to Michael Jackson on the one-year anniversary of his death will go down as one of the most legendary dance sessions is history. Follow that up with one of the most exploratoty “Lights” of tour, and you’ve got a powerful late-set segment.




6.18.2010 Comcast Theatre, Hartford, CT < Torrent

6.18.2010 Comcast Theatre, Hartford, CT < Megaupload

Hartfird 6.18 Poster

This show’s second set is one of the strongest of tour. Opening with “Halley’s > Light > Billy Breathes,” the band clicked early. Adding a groovealicious “Tweezer” and super-charged versions of “Theme” and “Hood” to follow, the flow of the second half couldn’t get much stronger. Coupled with a favorite-filled first set, and a double “Tweezer Reprise” encore, this Nutmeg State throwdown represents Phish’s strongest effort of their Northeast run.

I: Fee, Rift, Wolfman’s Brother, Summer of ’89*, Foam, Possum, The Moma Dance, Julius, Reba, Cavern

II: Halley’s Comet > Light > Billy Breathes, Tweezer > Theme From the Bottom, Harry Hood, Wading in the Velvet Sea, Stealing Time From the Faulty Plan

E: Sleeping Monkey, Tweezer Reprise, Tweezer Reprise


Source: DPA 4023 > Sonosax SX-M2 > Sound Devices 722 (24/96)

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The Final 8 ?

Posted in Uncategorized with the tags , , , on October 22nd, 2009 by Mr.Miner

WARNING! :: This post contains spoilers about the set-up of Festival 8!

Picture 1As Indio is less than a week away, a leaked copy of an overall schematic for Festival 8 titled “Battle Plan” hit the internet this week, uncovering some potentially revealing details about The Halloween Set. In the festival site, there are eight campgrounds, each named after one of the potential musical costumes. Conventional wisdom would say that these campground names will be the final eight albums left alive. The campground names are:

Exile on Main Street (Rolling Stones)
The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway (Genesis)
Hunky Dory (David Bowie)
Electric Ladyland (Jimi Hendrix)
Purple Rain (Prince)
Kid A (Radiohead)
Larks’ Tongues In Aspic (King Crimson)
Oracular Spectacular (MGMT, Rumored, not visible on map)

6.6.09 (G.Lucas)

6.6.09 (G.Lucas)

Now there are multiple ways to interpret this information. The first, and most obvious, way to make sense of these campground names is that Phish will play one of these eight albums. In this scenario, all other albums should be “killed off” by the time we head into Indio. Maybe there will be a process of elimination at the festival to get down to the last album alive, maybe we’ll get “Phishbills” as we walk in on the 31st and maybe the band will just get on stage and begin one of these records – who knows?

The second going theory is that there is a secret 100th album that has been “murdering” all the other records in the gallery. In this hypothesis, the entire elimination process has been a decoy, and Phish will solve the “Who Dun It?” mystery by playing the “murdering” suspect – widely conjectured to be The Rolling Stones’ appropriately named “Let It Bleed.” This scenario would certainly fit Phish’s prankster spirit and provide the “Trick” in the holiday’s “Trick or Treat” tradition.

6.4.09 (W.Rogell)

6.4.09 (W.Rogell)

A third way of looking at the leak of these campground names is to call their bluff; this could be all bunk information to mislead us to the very end. Everyone will listen to these eight albums at their campsites to make sure they are familiar with them, and then Phish will come on stage and play “Thriller” or “Ziggy Stardust,” or something different altogether. I certainly wouldn’t put it past the band to have led us on a month-long wild-goose chase while they sat behind the scenes and laughed while rehearsing something else.

phishpumpkin-300x240It’s hard to believe that the band will conclude this album elimination game without any twists or turns – this is Phish after all. With the spirit of Halloween trickery in the air, and with a band known to fuck with their fan base, the only thing to expect is the unexpected. I, personally, believe there is a missing piece that has yet to be revealed.

A bit about the potential Final 8. Noticeably absent from the campground titles is many fans’ favorite, “Ziggy Stardust.” Again, these name may have no predictive value whatsoever, but if they do, the band has opted for “Hunky Dory,” a more mellow, lyrically-based Bowie album that wouldn’t seem to fit for a Halloween blowout. “Larks ‘ Tongues” has awesome potential, though I suspect it would lose the interest of many fans not familiar with King Crimson. Radiohead? MGMT? They just don’t seem to fit, but could push the band in completely different directions. If this really is the final eight, it leads me to think they will play “Exile” “Electric Ladyland” or “Purple Rain.” But, again, who knows?! The questions  and theories will continue to flow until the answer is revealed, and, in the meantime, all we can do is keep guessing!


Phish Thoughts Ticket Exchange

The ticket exchange board has been revamped for Fall Tour and ready to facilitate trades.  Check it out, post your extras, find the trades you need!

Winged music note=====

Jam of the Day:

Mike’s > Weekapaug” 12.7.95 II


The stellar end to a monumental show in Niagara Falls during December ’95.



10.28.94 Galliard Auditorium, Charleston, SC < Torrent

10.28.94 Galliard Auditorium, Charleston, SC < Megaupload

11.29.03 (C.Raig)

11.29.03 (C.Raig)

Back in 1994, the band was on the road leading up to Halloween, and this night this night in South Carolina marked their second-to-last show before they debuted The White Album. Along the path of a momentum-building tour, this show was no exception. The second set sequence of  “2001 > Bowie > Manteca > Bowie” highlights a well-played show. PS : The Audio Archive is well on its way!

I: I Didn’t Know, Llama, Guelah Papyrus, Scent of a Mule, Stash, Glide, Axilla (Part II), All Things Reconsidered, Sample in a Jar, Carolina

II: Also Sprach Zarathustra > David Bowie -> Manteca -> David Bowie, The Lizards, Peaches en Regalia, Rift, Lifeboy, Chalk Dust Torture, The Old Home Place*, Nellie Kane*, Foreplay/Long Time

E: Fee, Highway to Hell


Source: Unknown

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Five Other Possibilities

Posted in Uncategorized with the tags , , , , , on October 15th, 2009 by Mr.Miner

Despite Ziggy Stardust being my personal choice for Phish’s musical costume, plenty of other engaging album choices still remain. Assuming Phish is working off their provided list, several defining records could still hold the golden ticket. While everyone has their own opinion of what could work and what certainly will not, I present to five other albums – in no particular order – that Phish could destroy.


Exile on Main Street – The Rolling Stones

exile_on_main_stHailed as one of the Stones finest accomplishments, their 1972 masterpiece blends the influences of blues, rock, country and soul to form a double-album considered among the best “studio” works of all time. During the recording process, nine years into their career as one of the biggest rock acts in the world, the Stones found themselves in financial straits, and decided to flee England to avoid paying income tax. The band drove to the French Riviera, setting up shop in the basement of Villa Nellcote, Keith Richard’s mansion by the sea. As they began recording in their makeshift studio, the band members were at the height of their drug and alcohol addictions, including Keith Richards’ notorious heroin habit. The combination of cramped quarters and intoxicated, unreliable band members created a frustrating dynamic for the band as they plugged away sporadically – usually in the middle of night – in all sorts of chemical states.

The resulting work, however, has since been exalted as a trendsetting record of the gritty, drugged-out rock and roll scene that blossomed in the Seventies. “Exile” came first, spawning a generation of bad-boy imitators,  but no one did it quite like the Stones.  Some hail the mere fact that the Stones actually got “Exile” recorded as a miracle, as they were hardly in control of anything during this period. But what resulted was “Exile On Main Street,” the Stones tenth album, and  snapshot of ragged rock stars trying to keep it together. Perhaps Robert Greenfield, author of “Exile on Main St.: A Season in Hell with the Rolling Stones” said it best:

To say that the human toll exacted during the making of Exile on Main Street was extreme is an understatement of major proportions. But then even if you had tried to tell the denizens of Nellcote that far too many of them would, in the immortal words of Pete Townshend, die before they got old, no one would have listened. They were all too busy getting high.


London Calling – The Clash

London-callingIf Phish were to veer from classic rock, The Clash’s dynamic double-album, London Calling, would be an outstanding choice. The band’s third album, released in 1979, represented a shift in The Clash’s musical style, steering away from the classic punk sound, with  elements of ska, pop, soul, rockabilly and reggae. And unlike The Rolling Stones odyssey of “Exile,” The Clash recorded London Calling within a matter of weeks; many songs finished in one or two takes. “London Calling” was the Clash’s watershed album, transforming the scruffy British quartet into bona-fide rock stars.

Their musically diverse songs carried various political messages. Whether attacking fascism in “Clampdown, denouncing drug culture in “Hateful”, or commenting on political rebellion in “Spanish Bombs,” The Clash’s songs often carried serious meaning amidst their playful feel. “London Calling’s” copious grooves and dub rhythms could provide Festival 8 with a horn-laced, desert dance party with a grand finale of the infectious pop single, “Train In Vain.”


Hot Rats – Frank Zappa

zappa_frontThe quirky time signatures, sudden changes, and generally bizarre complexity that defined Phish’s early work can be largely traced directly to Frank Zappa. An iconoclast to the end, Zappa made music his own way – a style that Hot Rats illustrates with vibrancy. Released in 1969, and comprised of only six tracks, Zappa described the album as “a movie for your ears.” Departing from his shorter satirical songs and raunchy lyrics popularized with his band, The Mothers of Invention, Hot Rats focuses on longer, jazz-like instrumentals with extensive soloing – a format that sounds perfect for Phish.

Though the album’s opener, “Peaches en Regelia,” has been in Phish’s long-time repertoire, the overwhelming complexity of the record’s compositions makes me question its real chances. This summer Trey was still working on nailing the licks to “Sugar Shack,” and for this costume he’d have to pick up the nuances of 17-minute track “The Gumbo Variations,” among others. But given the proper time and attention, this album could make for a mind-numbing set. Just thinking about Phish playing “Willie the Pimp” makes my ears drool.


The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway – Genesis

The_Lamb_Lies_Down_on_Broadway-1aThis 1974 double concept album from Genesis could make a spectacular Halloween set, but with a ninety-minute running time “The Lamb” seems like a long shot. However, if Phish were to come out and nail the surreal tale of Rael, a juvenile delinquent in New York City who is swept underground to face his personal demons and split personality, the results would be astounding. Akin in structure to “The Wall,” “Lamb” is a theatrical rock opera that Genesis coupled with an elaborate stage show during their touring days for the album; a show that could translate to the stage in Indio. Peter Gabriel actually played the story’s protagonist, adding another potential layer of costume for Trey. If Phish took this route, they would certainly showcase hours upon hours of  meticulous preparation.

With little to no time for improvisation, Phish would likely play this psychedelic relic straight through. But within the album, the songs differ in feel from the groovy to the eerie to the spoken word. The first record boasts ten structured songs, but the second half contains nightmarish soundscapes as Rael descends into the underworld. Though many wouldn’t know what hit them, there would be a lot of new Genesis fans leaving Indio on November 2 if the band chose The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway.


Thriller – Michael Jackson

michael-jackson-thriller-coverWith Phish’s gallery of 99 albums, the talk of Michael Jackson’s masterpiece has faded to silence – and this could be exactly what Phish wants. Potentially a diversion to keep people preoccupied, the gallery has certainly kept the community’s heads spinning. But maybe – just maybe – this is all a smokescreen, and the band will come out and rock Jackson’s 1982 classic that fans have been pushing since 1995.

The most popular argument against “Thriller” is the wide range of dynamic vocals that fill the album, but if we start eliminating album choices because Phish aren’t the vocalists that their predeccessors were, we’d have to cross out quite a few. Could they reproduce Mick Jagger, David Bowie, Mick Jones, or even David Lee Roth? No – but that certainly hasn’t ruled out any of those albums, so I think “Thriller” must be legitamately considered. There could be a guest vocalist, Trey could “sing” with his guitar, or they could have another arrangement already in place. The bottom line is that this album would blow Indio apart – and what better subject matter for Halloween?! Just imagine the look of the crowd when Phish starts “Wanna’ Be Startin’ Something.” Now imagine the look of the crowd 20 minutes later after the disco-funk jam concludes. You know the songs; you get the picture. Just outside of his former Los Angeles home, and months after his passing, this could be Phish’s lasting tribute to the King of Pop.

Winged music note=====

Jam of the Day:

Down With Disease > Have Mercy > Disease” 11.12.94 II


A historic chunk of improv from Kent St, Ohio during Fall ’94.



10.15.94 Oak Mountain Amphitheatre, Pelham, AL < Torrent

10.15.94 Oak Mountain Amphitheatre, Pelham, AL < Megaupload

phish-san-jose-94Everyone knows about Oak Mountain’s 1999 installment, but if we rewind five years from there, or fiftteen years from today, we find The Dave Matthews Band opening for Phish in their only other visit to the Alabama amphitheatre. After a classic first set and an adventurous second, the band invited their guests out to join them on “The Maker.” A southern nugget from Fall ’94.

I: Wilson, Sparkle, Simple > Maze, Glide, Reba, Down with Disease, Golgi Apparatus

II: Also Sprach Zarathustra > Runaway Jim, Halley’s Comet > Scent of a Mule, You Enjoy Myself > Catapult > You Enjoy Myself, Amazing Grace, Foreplay/Long Time*, Bouncing Around the Room, Suzy Greenberg

E: Drums** > The Maker***

*Acoustic, **w/ Carter Beauford on drums, ***w/ Dave Matthews Band, debut

Source: Audio Technica 822 > Sony D8

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Halloween ’96 – Changing the Game

Posted in Uncategorized with the tags , , , on October 1st, 2009 by Mr.Miner

pb1Never has one show affected the course of Phish’s musical direction as much as Halloween 1996. Deciding to cover Remain in Light, an album centered on percussive grooves, forced the band to acclimate to a different style of play. Phish approached its tracks from a rhythmic point of view; different from the arena rock psychedelia that captivated audiences throughout Fall ’95. As 1996 moved into its second half, Phish hovered in a holding pattern, ready for a fresh musical path, but not exactly sure what that would be. As a result, their initial east coast run of the Fall was nothing to write home about. But as they prepared to unveil The Talking Heads’ album for Halloween, Phish brought other musicians into the mix, and their extensive practice sessions pushed the band towards their destiny.

With the addition of Dave Grippo and Gary Gazaway on sax and trumpet, and more specifically, Santana’s percussionist, Karl Perazzo, the band worked on executing the collaborative patterns that were strewn throughout the record. Phish’s meticulous preparation for their third musical costume resulted in a masterfully interpretive set in which they killed the album from beginning to end.

During a 1998 interview with David Byrne for Sessions at West 54th, the band discussed each of their Halloween “costumes” and how they subsequently affected the band’s style. Page noted the profound influence of covering Remain In Light.

It may have had the biggest effect on us because we really learned the grooves and we really tried to get inside the grooves on the album…I took so much away from that. And the groove-oriented playing that we’ve done in the last few years – repetition, pulling things out, putting them back – all that sort of thing, a lot of it was from learning [Remain In Light].

The effects Page spoke of began to emerge at the very next show in West Palm Beach. To open the second set, Phish launched into an extended groove exploration of “Crosseyed > Antelope,” and the music sounded more like the rhythmic jamming that defined Remain In Light rather than the fast-paced, guitar-centric playing that peaked in ’95 and spilled into ’96.

10-31-96 The Omni (T.Wickersty)

10-31-96 The Omni (T.Wickersty)

“Crosseyed > Antelope” began a gradual evolution of the band’s sound throughout the rest of the fall. Starting to slow down and funk out, Phish started moving towards their groove-based playing of 1997 and beyond. When comparing the pre-Halloween shows with those after October, the changes leap out. Pieces that helped define this shift included the Auburn Hills “YEM” (11/9), the Grand Rapids “Tweezer” (11/11), the San Diego “Mike’s” (12/4), and the Vegas “2001”(12/6).

While ’96’s New Year’s Run didn’t necessarily capture this emerging style of jamming, the band was poised for a transformation come 1997. And during their winter tour of Europe in Markthalle, an intimate club in Hamburg, Germany, this evolution came together. The band references “Wolfman’s” from 3.1’s Markthalle show as the moment they realized the type of 3329098551_6cb1b984f6collaborative playing they had quested after. Everything simply clicked, bringing the community their first helping of “cow funk,” mastered and released on Slip Stitch, and Pass. And so it began – 1997’s rhythmic revolution was underway – but the process of transformation started late one Fall night in Atlanta – and Phish never looked back.

Winged music note=====

Jams of the Day:

Crosseyed > Antelope” 11.2.96 II



Ghost > Runaway Jim” 7.2.98 II


Capping a three-night stand at The Grey Hall, Phish threw down a four-song second set; this is the first half. Only the second version featuring the song’s new intro, this “Ghost” sits among the upper echelon of all-time renditions.



10.1.00 Desert Sky Pavilion, Phoenix, AZ < Torrent

10.1.00 Desert Sky Pavilion, Phoenix, AZ < Megaupload

Desert Sky Pavilion - Phoenix, AZ

Desert Sky Pavilion - Phoenix, AZ

The night after Vegas ended, Phish made their way into the desert for the last show before the final four.  Markedly better than the previous performance, “Piper > Guy Forget” (an old soundcheck song never performed live) held down the opening segment of the second set, while a thick “Camel Walk” and a solid “Bowie” closed it out.  After Phoenix started the fateful final four of 2000.

I: First Tube, Wolfman’s Brother, Back on the Train, Beauty of My Dreams, Vultures, The Inlaw Josie Wales, Billy Breathes, Llama, Lawn Boy, Runaway Jim

II: Roses Are Free, Piper > Guy Forget* > When the Circus Comes, Camel Walk, Driver, David Bowie

E: Waste


Source: B&K 4011’s > Lunatec V2 > Apogee AD-500 > Tascam DA-P1

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A Gallery of Possibilities

Posted in Uncategorized with the tags , , , , on September 29th, 2009 by Mr.Miner
The Invitation

The Invitation

With their ever-expanding use of technology coupled with their desire to hype up Festival 8, yesterday Phish posted a “gallery” of 99 outstanding albums as the splash page on their web site, introduced by a Festival 8 invitation with the simple instructions: “Phish – Play the Last Record Alive.” Much like the Save the Date map that preceded this haunted galleria, albums have already been “killed off,” with Medeski Martin & Wood’s Shack Man, Tom Petty’s Damn the Torpedoes, Huey Lewis’ and the News’ Sports, Talking Head’s Fear of Music, and Leonard Cohen’s I’m Your Man quickly getting the axe- literally. And much like the wild-goose chase of their Save the Date map, this list of albums could be just that.

Huey Lewis Is Dead - Or Is He?

Huey Lewis Is Dead - Or Is He?

With a list of 99 records, Phish put almost every Halloween suggestion ever made on the table and then some. The site includes many albums we all know, and most likely quite a few we don’t all know, giving us time to familiarize ourselves with some.  With a reputation of playing more obscure albums, some of the most popular recordings like, Led Zeppelin’s I or IV, The Grateful Dead’s American Beauty, Michael Jackson’s “Thriller,” and Jimi Hendrix’s “Are You Experienced?” or “Electric Ladyland” seem unlikely for Halloween. This gallery of possibilities also contains contemporary classics such as Radiohead’s Kid A, U2’s The Joshua Tree, Rage Against The Machine’s Evil Empire, Nirvana’s Nevermind, and Pearl Jam’s Ten. Although we’ve never seen Phish tackle a modern-day work in full, maybe this will be the year. In my gut, however, this also seems unlikely.

Anything Is Possible

Tom Petty Got the Axe

With defining albums of many genres and eras, along with several obscure gems, the gallery also hangs some records for humor of the imagination- see the offerings from Pork Tornado, Hall & Oates, Kiss, Metallica and Black Sabbath. (Some great albums, yes. Real possibilities, no.) At this point, it’s very difficult to take anything from Phish at face value, making me think this could be ploy to increase interest, boost lagging ticket sales, and divert attention from fall tour speculation.

But what is going to happen with this gallery? Are we going to know what the album is beforehand?! I seriously doubt it. At the same time, I don’t even want the possibilities narrowed to five- that would be incredibly anti-climactic, as the audience has traditionally known nothing about the bands’ musical costume when walking into the venue on Halloween night. While “The White Album” and Quadrophenia weren’t revealed until the set began, Remain In Light and Loaded were unveiled via “Phishbills” handed out as everyone entered the arena – but never has there been any level of knowledge before hand.  This album elimination is a clever idea, but I think they should stop at a certain number to maintain the suspense of the evening.  Is it going to be one of two options walking in?  That would be strange.

Anything Is Possible

Anything Is Possible...

Personally, I loved not knowing Remain In Light, and Loaded when Phish bust them out – it was like a genuine costume; a mystery to me. Each album had at least one song everyone knew (“Once In a Lifetime,” “Sweet Jane” and/or “Rock and Roll,” making it just familiar enough, but making the musical journey a genuine trip. Knowing the album well made for an entirely different – completely surreal – experience with Dark Side, but that was Dark Side.  While knowledge of the album note for note can bring enhanced appreciation, it can also carry preconceptions.  Would I like to know the album when they play it – for sure.  But I’m not gonna chase down every album on this list that I don’t know – and there are many – in the hopes of discovering the music that might transpire, though I’ll definitely download a few. Whether this gallery is a trick or a treat, Phish has certainly exposed us to a plethora of classic albums, a great resource in itself. And in the end, their choice is most likely on the screen right now – but who knows if it has been killed already? Halloween is all about the rising of the dead, is it not? With the masters of trickery at the helm, the suspense never ends.

Winged music note=====

Jam of the Day:

Wolfman’s > Lizards” 11.18.98 II


This set opening “Wolfman’s” highlights Phish’s ambient jamming they added to the mix during of Fall ’98. Moving out of the funk and into spacier textures, this little-known version kicked off a significant second set in Greenville, SC. The half-empty, brand-new arena was the perfect locale for a mid-week throwdown. (Note: Yesterday’s “Reba > Walk Away” is fixed.)



9.28.99 Oak Mountain Amp, Pelham, AL < Torrent

9.28.99 Oak Mountain Amp, Pelham, AL < Megaupload

Phish - Fall '99 (A. Foley)

Fall '99 (A. Foley)

On the topic of mid-week throwdowns, here we another that celebrated its ten-year anniversary just yesterday. After a rainy afternoon in the lot, Phish lit a fire inside the southern amphitheatre, bringing hot dance grooves right off the bat. Opening the show with”Wolfman’s,” “Sneakin’ Sally” and “Tube,” Phish set the plate with a hearty dose of funk. “Harry Hood” made a rare appearance as the first set closer, while “Tweezer > Makisupa” and a blowout “YEM” sealed the deal on a great evening in Alabama.

I: Wolfman’s Brother, Sneakin’ Sally through the Alley, Tube, Ginseng Sullivan > Roggae, Maze, Wading in the Velvet Sea, Harry Hood

II: Farmhouse, Heavy Things, First Tube, Tweezer > Makisupa Policeman, Chalk Dust Torture, You Enjoy Myself

E Halley’s Comet > Tweezer Reprise

Source: Schoeps CMC 641 > Apogee AD-1000 > DA-P1

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The Best Cover Band Ever

Posted in Uncategorized with the tags , , , on September 5th, 2008 by Mr.Miner

The best cover band in history.  That is one trophy Phish could take home and put on their mantle- no contest.  For a band that wrote so many excellent originals, Phish never lost sight of their ability to nail and integrate the perfect covers into their sets.  Beginning as a cover band, way back when, Phish continued to play the music of other bands throughout their career.  Whether they adopted songs into their own repertoire, or dropped one-time covers that were inevitably your favorite songs from years past, Phish could nail them.  Any way you cut it, Phish could learn a song, or even a whole album in a short while, jump onstage, and shred it apart.  The hallowed Utah “Dark Side of the Moon” performance was conjured up in a few hours before the show.  We have all seen the off-the-cuff “Roses are Free” rehearsal in Bittersweet Motel, backstage in Rochester before they went on.  With the ears and abilities Phish possessed, cover songs were always fun tangents, or centerpieces, to their epic shows.

First, there are all the cover songs that we all just consider Phish songs- “2001,” “Funky Bitch,” “Yamar,” “Ginseng Sullivan,” “Loving Cup,” “My Mind’s Got a Mind of Its Own” (not a Gordon song), “Timber Ho!,” Hold Your Head Up,” “Frankenstein”- songs that worked their way so far into the fabric of Phish that were inseparable from the band itself.  You certainly didn’t think to yourself when they dropped into a Funky Bitch- “another cover song.”   Part of Phish’s greatness was recognizing and weaving nuggets of other bands’ work into their own staples.

Next, you had songs that Phish ripped apart, made their own and incorporated, but you could never separate them from their original artists.  These were songs like “Cities,” “Roses Are Free,” “Izabella,” “Rock N Roll,” “Peaches En Regalia,” “Purple Rain,” “Sneakin’ Sally,” “Crosseyed and Painless.”  They were Phish songs, no doubt, but you knew where they came from. Always.

Then you had the one-time (or few-time) covers, highlighted in the summer of 1998; the band seemed to break out another hit you had once put on a mix-tape, every single show.  Smashing Pumpkin’s “Rhinoceros,” Beastie Boys’ “Sabotage,” Led Zeppelin’s “Ramble On,” Van Halen’s “Running With the Devil,”
Jane’s Addiction’s, “Been Caught Stealin’,” The Dead’s “Terrapin Station,” The English Beat’s’ “Mirror in the Bathroom”- you knew these songs from sometime in your past, and so did the band.  Playing them was like a collective trip through our individual memories, going back and placing each song in the context of our own lives.

Finally, you had Halloween.  Armed with confidence and bravado for four years, Phish took on the challenge of covering an entire album- start to finish.  They played entire sets of non-Phish music, and at least two of them are thought of as “best ever” Phish performances.  The Talking Heads’ “Remain In Light” ‘s polyrhythms and percussion patterns forced the band to look at music from a different perspective in 1996- a perspective that revolutionized the way they would play all of their own music.  Absolutely crushing that set, fans looked to the next time the band would don a musical costume.

Waiting two years, the band next played Halloween was in Vegas ’98- a set in which they played Velvet Underground’s “Loaded.”  This was one of the more emotionally poignant sets of the band’s career.  Nailing the ’70s emotional pop-rock and ballads of Lou Reed, while making the songs their own and jamming on their musical themes- when the band walked off stage, everyone in attendance knew they had witnessed something very special.  It didn’t matter if you knew the album or not.  It was that good.

Amidst their 1995 marathon tour, they stopped at the Rosemont Horizon to cover The Who’s “Quadrophenia.”  Definitely the dark horse out of the Halloween sets, this night provided a spot on,

jim pollack

jim pollack

emotionally-driven, Who impersonation as they ran through the saga of Jimmy, the boy with four personalities.  Many expected them to come out and play a disco set of Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” on this night, and the band played along, coming onstage to “Wanna Be Starting Something” over the PA.  Many fans were greeted by a British punk-rock opera that that they weren’t familiar with; others were thrilled.  They did a particularly good job in nailing this show, though it seems to have sat into the background of 1996 and 1998.

The original Halloween bash took place in 1994, when the band played into the wee hours of the morning after covering the Beatles double-LP, “The White Album.”  A more straight-up interpretation of the songs, the magic came in seeing the new Fab Four play the classics of the original Fab Four.  Each of them incredibly accurate to form, comprising the longest Halloween set in history.

Yet, regardless of what “type” of cover Phish played, they always seemed to nail it.  They sounded authentic; they sounded real.  The adrenaline kicked in when they would take one of these familiar songs and turn it into a Phish odyssey.  Examples of this phenomenon were the Nassau and Cypress “Roses,” the Cypress “Rock and Roll,” the Went’s “2001,” Merriweather’s ’98 “Sneakin’ Sally,” Star Lake’s ’03 “Crosseyed and Painless,” Albany’s ’97 “Yamar,” or Orlando’s ’95 “Manteca.”   These instances represented when the Phish universe merged with the more mainstream musical landscape, producing some epic portions of improvisation.

So next time the debate of cover bands come up- if that ever happens- be sure to interject, and let it be known that you are a die hard fan of the best cover band of all time.  Then you can explain they even had some pretty good music of their own.

To commemorate all the cover songs of Phish’s past, I’ve put together a compilation of covers (and jam sequences involving covers) that you are sure to enjoy. Below is the link and tracks for Miner’s Picks: Cover Songs. Download of the Day: Alpine 7.24.99 is below the video.


1. Yamar 12.13.97 Albany, NY

2,3. Timber Ho! > Simple 11.16.97 Denver, CO

4. Funky Bitch 11.30.97 Worcester, MA

5,6,7. Character Zero > 2001 > Cities 11.26.97 Hartford, CT

8. Rhinoceros 8.3.98 Deer Creek, IN

9. Rock And Roll 12.31.99 Big Cypress

10, 11. Twist > Izabella 7.31.98 Columbus, OH

12. Been Caught Stealin’ 8.1.98 Alpine Valley

13. Sneakin’ Sally 8.8.98 Merriweather

14. Running With The Devil 8.6.98 Atlanta, GA

15,16. Ramble On > Slave 8.12.1998 Vernon Downs,  NY

17. Roses Are Free 12.31.99 > 1.1.00 Big Cypress

18. Sabotage 8.8.98 Merriweather


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With all the talk of Alpine Valley in a recent post, this show was requested for uploaded by several people.  A truly great night at the end of Summer ’99, this show was all that and a bag of chips.  Starting off with a second song Fluffhead that stretched out to over 30 minutes of serious whole band improv, this show was on fire to begin with.  The second set brought another huge Alpine Tweezer, this time highlighting methodical funk that segued into a digitally looped Catapult, and finally settled into Mango > Happy Whip and Dung Song.  The only appearance ever of this Siket track certainly added a special aspect to this show. After they busted out Glide, Camel Walk, and Alumni Blues for an encore- everyone went home happy.  This show is a top notch showcase of the band’s playing at the end of a great summer tour.


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