Relivin’ Indio

Posted in Uncategorized with the tags , , on May 4th, 2010 by Mr.Miner

10.30.09 - Indio (G.Lucas)

If someone told me ten years ago that we would be reliving Phish shows in 3D movie theatres in 2010, I would have dismissed the idea a futuristic fantasy that belonged in Back to the Future II. But lo and behold, only a decade later, we find ourselves right here. Capitalizing on the newest fad in cinematic technology, Phish 3D, an audio collage of Festival 8 from Indio, California, is now showing in an exclusive one-week engagement around the nation. While fans have given mixed reviews of the feature length film, I felt the concert experience translated quite well to the big screen and beyond, providing a lasting memoir of an unforgettable weekend.

Indio Pollock

Split into three sections, nighttime Phish footage, the acoustic set, and the Halloween set, one obvious strength of Phish 3D is the film’s willingness to cover full songs from beginning to end, as opposed to the usual excerpts documentary-based features include. Without any narration, interviews, or external perspectives, Phish 3D allows the viewer to fully soak in the live concert experience. (I kept thinking that the film would be an excellent introduction to Phish for someone who has never seen the band and isn’t sure they could stomach a show.) Within a society catered to short attention spans, the extensive, uncut footage provided a relief from the modern era of sound bites and highlight reels. The ability to watch the band communicate and develop jams from such an intimate perspective provided a novel viewpoint for those not glued to the rail every show. Watching their eyes lock during the music and their seeing their expressions during peak moments provided a wholly divergent experience. Given the on-stage perspective of a fifth band member, one gained a virtual, first hand point-of-view of the band’s interpersonal dynamics and stage set up, things that  I, personally, never see during a show. Phish 3D allowed  most to view Indio from an 180-degree different perspective than the actual show, and the two together formed a complete experience. And with the crowd-perspective shots, it often felt like we were right on the plush fields again.

The track selection for the opening segment of the movie couldn’t have been better, featuring an opening run of “AC/DC Bag,” “Stealing Time,” “Undermind,” “Tweezer > Maze,” and “Mike’s,” all complete and uncut. “Tweezer > Maze” stood out as the highlight of this sequence, as it did at the show; and with the varying stage shots of the band slaughtering the jam provided a completely an all-encompassing visual experience. Trey’s passion translated vibrantly throughout the film, and especially during “Tweezer,” as his spirited playing matched his animated and fiery demeanor. Following the “Tweezer > Maze,” the movie didn’t slow down, choosing “Mike’s” as the final jam of the opening section. Any time I can go to the movies and see uncut 3D versions of “Tweezer” and “Mike’s” – it’s a win-win in my book!

The Acoustic Set (G. Lucas)

The second segment of the film featured brief non-stage footage, something the film could have used more of, before showing an extended excerpt from Sunday morning’s acoustic set. The clarity of the audio matched the clarity of the video in a pristine remembrance of a modern morning of lore. While this section may have incorporated one too many songs, the inclusion of “The Curtain (With)” made the entire segment worthwhile, bringing everyone back to the spiritual sunshine of November 1. The ability to see the crowd during the acoustic set really brought the festival to life, as theatre-goers tried to pick themselves out of the colorful ocean of people. This sequence painted a warm portrait of the acoustic set, providing unattainable perspectives of one of the most universally loved portions of Festival 8.

"Loving Cup" (Photo: Graham Lucas)

The final third of the movie covered Halloween, and Phish’s take on The Rolling Stones album, Exile On Main Street. While the footage of the selected songs provided some absolutely priceless moments, this is where the film would have hugely benefited from greater backstage access. Unable to get behind the scenes, less one practice session, the story of Phish’s Halloween tradition was implied but never explained, making the section somewhat confusing for the non-initiated movie-goer. The film only contained a small snippet of the on-site Exile rehearsals, a segment that certainly left the desire for more backstage footage, but for that we’d have to wait for the credits. Clearly a case of limited access, Phish should have foresaw this obstacle and allowed more leeway for the film crew to tell the story of the band’s Halloween tradition.

Trey and Saundra (Unknown)

Nonetheless, the shots of “Loving Cup” and “Shine A Light” provided powerful memoirs of an eloquent night in the polo fields of Indio, California. The up close and personal footage of “Loving Cup” provided priceless perspectives of the “all-time” version, while the inclusion of “Shine A Light,” the cathartic exclamation point to Exile, brought back the most poignant memory of the weekend. Phish and company knew they had nailed the album, and celebrated with its soul-drenched peak. The stellar shots of Saundra Williams and Sharon Jones gave us a much closer perspective of their own fun and enthusiasm, expressions that couldn’t be easily seen live; and they were loving it. After showing a short clip of the band and their guests rehearsing “Suzy Greenberg,” the Exile section concluded with its memorable encore rendition with full-on accompaniment. And just when one thought the marathon movie has come to a close, the film cut to the weekend-ending “Tweezer Reprise.” Perfect.

"Burble" (G.Lucas)

If one shot summed up the absolute exuberance of Festival 8, it had to be during “Suzy.” The camera filmed from behind Williams and Jones, looking out at the stage as the women danced and sang. Meanwhile, with his back to the crowd, Trey, sporting a child-like, aura-encompassing smile, watched Williams and Jones spice up his own concert as if it were part of his dream. And that same dreamlike quality that shone through the expression of our favorite front man embodied the collective spirit that characterized Indio’s blissed out festival; one of the most enjoyable events of Phish ’09.

On the other hand, many people have complained about song selection, camera work, editing, and the such. Really?? I have one question to these purveyors of negativity who complain that a Phish 3D movie wasn’t worthy of cinematic greatness – “Can you still have fun?”

Phish 3D Track listing: AC/DC Bag, Stealing Time From The Faulty Plan, Undermind, Tweezer, Maze, Mike’s, Back On The Train*, Strange Design*, The Curtain (With)*, Sleep Again*, Train Song*, Wilson*, Loving Cup, Happy, Shine A Light, Soul Survivor, Suzy Greenberg, Tweezer Reprise

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Jam of the Day:

Stash > Cities” 6.30.98 II

A highlight from the opening set of Summer ’98.

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DOWNLOAD OF THE DAY:

7.18.91 Casino Ballroom, Hampton Beach, NH < Torrent

7.18.91 Casino Ballroom, Hampton Beach, NH < Megaupload

A random stop with the Giant Country Horns during Summer ’91

I: Chalk Dust Torture, Foam, Runaway Jim, Guelah Papyrus, Suzy Greenberg, Stash, Take the ‘A’ Train, Cavern, Mike’s Song > I Am Hydrogen > Weekapaug Groove

II: Llama, Reba, Poor Heart, Split Open and Melt, The Lizards, The Landlady, I Didn’t Know, Possum

E: Alumni Blues > Letter to Jimmy Page > Alumni Blues

Notes: This show featured the Giant Country Horns. At one point during the show, the crowd was told by the promoter that they were dancing too much, prompting Trey to offer a date with Fishman to the fan who danced best on their chair!

Source: AKG 451 > D5

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Phish…in 3D!

Posted in Uncategorized with the tags , on March 8th, 2010 by Mr.Miner

Photo: (J.Kraviitz)

First Avatar, then Alice In Wonderland, and now…Phish in 3D coming soon to a theatre near you! Hopping on the coattails of the newest burst in cinematic technology, Phish, in conjunction with AEG Live and Action 3D, are releasing a feature length movie in April, with footage filmed at laset year’s Festival 8. Armed with 3D glasses, legions of fans will be able to go see Phish at the movies and check out what all the movie buzz was about back at Indio – all before the start of summer tour!

This will be the band’s first professionally “finished” cinematic concert feature, though they did simulcast Coney Island’s tour opener in 2004 and Coventry’s “career-ending” weekend. The band released the former show in the DVD package “Live in Brooklyn,” while Coventry has yet to be re-viewed – by anyone. No information has been released as to what footage the movie will contain. One might surmise the band’s revered take on The Rolling Stones’ “Exile on Main Street” might comprise the substance of the film, but with the title Phish 3D, one has to believe some original material will be included.

10.30.09 (Photo:G. Lucas)

With a concert grounds bursting in psychedelic eye-candy, Indio will be the perfect site to return to in three-dimensions. Perhaps Burble will float into the theatre during “Hood”? Maybe flaming torches will encircle the audience for “Fluffhead,” “Mike’s” or “Reprise?” The possibilities are certainly there for a more-than-engaging Friday night at the movies. Musically speaking, the “Wolfman’s > Piper > Joy” would make a great segment from the 30th, while any of November 1st final set’s would provide explosive footage. Will the the acoustic set will be included? At this point, there are more questions than answers.

"Burble" (G.Lucas)

The band has released strangely little information on this project that will debut next month, still including no mention of the movie on Phish.com. After no marketing whatsoever, and a website that is yet to go live, a trailer has been added to the previews of “Alice In Wonderland,” Tim Burton’s 3D offering that released this past weekend. With no official release date announced, we can expect the movie to drop nationally sometime in April, providing a life-like look back at the most blissful weekend of 2009. Where the film will be playing will be largely determined on available technology. From Bloomberg.com:

Theater owners are rushing to expand the number of 3-D equipped cinemas to accommodate more than 16 3-D films scheduled for release this year, including Disney’s “Alice in Wonderland,” which opened today, according to Hollywood.com Box-Office.

There were 3,659 screens in the U.S. and Canada equipped with 3-D projectors as of Jan. 5, according to the National Association of Theatre Owners.

Here is a 3D theatre locator used for recent releases thanks to Jamtopia.com. Hopefully one will pop up in your vicinity.

This relatively unannounced surprise will serve as a small treat to tide everyone over to summer tour. So get out your ganja butter popcorn and whatever other treats you might want for this trip down memory lane, because come April, Phish is going to the movies.

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Jam of the Day:

Halley’s Comet > Roggae” 7.10.98 II

Easing into the week with some gooey summer funk from Barcelona ’98, this “Halley’s” leads into a preview of “First Tube” long before it hit the Phish stage. This little-known gem comes from the last night of Europe ’98.

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DOWNLOAD OF THE DAY:

8.25.93 Paramount Theatre, Seatlle, WA < Torrenrt

8.25.93 Paramount Theatre, Seatlle, WA < Megaupload

Circa '93

As you might have been able to tell, I’ve been listening to a lot of Summer ’93 lately, and this show comes as the penultimate of the tour from up in the Northwest.

I: AC/DC Bag, Daniel Saw the Stone, Sample in a Jar, Sparkle, Foam, Ginseng Sullivan#, Nellie Kane#, Amazing Grace, Stash, Glide, Cavern

II: Buried Alive > Possum, Mound, My Friend, My Friend, Paul and Silas^, You Enjoy Myself* > Mice and Bats* The Squirming Coil, Good Times Bad Times

E: Bold As Love, Rocky Top

# no amps; ^ w/ vocal jam; *w/ Baby Gramps on vocal jam > debut of “Mice and Bats” w/ Fish on vacuum

Source: TOA K1 > DTR 80P

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Weekend Nuggets: Fall Tour Openers

Posted in Uncategorized with the tags , on November 14th, 2009 by Mr.Miner

DOWNLOADS OF THE WEEKEND:

9.8.00 Albany Tour Opener

9.8.00 Albany Tour Opener

As Wednesday’s Fall Tour opener stares us down, this weekend we will take a trip back to some other indoor Fall Tour openers. Albany’s 2000 kickoff is new to the site, featuring standout versions of “Ghost” and “Bathtub Gin,” while the others are re-posts to grab if you missed ‘em!

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9.8.00 “Knickerbocker Arena” Albany, NY < Torrent

9.8.00 “Knickerbocker Arena” Albany, NY < Megaupload

2000-09-08moI: Mellow Mood*, Limb By Limb, Ghost, Bouncing Around the Room, The Horse > Silent in the Morning, Saw It Again, NICU, Glide, Axilla, Taste, Golgi Apparatus

II: Birds of a Feather, Windora Bug*, David Bowie, Back at the Chicken Shack, Bathtub Gin** > Jam > Character Zero

E: Fire

*Debut / **The jam out of the end of Gin featured Fishman on vacuum and Trey on drums.

Source: B&K 4011′s > Lunatec V2 > Apogee AD-500 > Tascam DA-P1 (@48kHz)

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9.9.99 GM Place, Vancouver, BC < Torrent

9.9.99 GM Place, Vancouver, BC < Megaupload

gm_logoI. Mozambique*, Axilla > Limb By Limb, Horn, Guyute, Chalk Dust Torture, Back at the Chicken Shack, Stash, I Didn’t Know, Character Zero

II: Birds of a Feather, Ha Ha Ha > Ghost, The Inlaw Josie Wales*, First Tube*, Tweezer > Bug, You Enjoy Myself, Hello My Baby

E: Sample in a Jar, Golgi Apparatus, Tweezer Reprise

*Debut

Source: Unknown

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11.13.97 Thomas & Mack Center, Las Vegas, NV < Torrent

11.13.97 Thomas & Mack Center, Las Vegas, NV < Megaupload

Thomas & Mack Center

Thomas & Mack Center

I: Chalk Dust Torture, Black-Eyed Katy*, Theme From the Bottom, Train Song, Split Open and Melt, Beauty of My Dreams, My Soul, You Enjoy Myself, Character Zero

II. Stash, Punch You In the Eye, Prince Caspian, Bouncing Around the Room, Mike’s Song > I Am Hydrogen > Weekapaug Groove

E Loving Cup

*Debut

Source: Unknown

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Winged-music-noteJam of the Weekend: 9.8.00

Ghost” I

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Bathtub Gin > jam > Character Zero” II

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The most compelling segments of Fall 2000′s tour opener.

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VIDEOS OF THE WEEKEND: Festival 8

“Harry Hood” jam 10.30.09 (by RadioStarKilla)

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“Mike’s Song” 11.1.09 (by glump1)

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“Tweezer” 11.1.09 - partial (by Tyler Penn)

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Festival 8 Slideshow (by S.Colfax)

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Where Palm Trees Dipped and Seagulls Swerved

Posted in Uncategorized with the tags , on November 12th, 2009 by Mr.Miner
Festival 8 (R.Schloffel)

Festival 8 (R.Schloffel)

If Coventry embodied the dark debacle that Phish and their scene had become by 2004, Festival 8 represented all that is right in the current world of Phish. The most accurate word I can use to describe Festival 8 is “paradise.” We had arrived at a tropical site of dreams, and the entire place was set up for our ease and comfort. When contrasting Coventry’s mud-covered clusterfuck with Indio’s days of delight, things couldn’t have felt more different.

To begin with, as we approached the gate with a caravan of five RVs, we expected to wait in some traffic. After sitting on roadways for anywhere between 12 and 24 hours to enter previous festivals, this obstacle seemed like a given. But to our shock, we didn’t wait for one minute. After the thorough search for glass bottles and pounds of weed, the security let everyone through free of hassle. The only thing seized from any of our RVs were two glass-bottled Starbucks drinks. Onward and Upward!

Festival 8 (R.Gibbs)

Festival 8 (R.Gibbs)

After our team captain convinced the attendants to allow us to park in formation, we set up our home base within 45 minutes of approaching the main gates. Given maps upon entering, some exploration was in order. Prepared to walk a couple miles, everyone was pleasantly surprised to discover the concert field just around the corner from our campsite, about 100 times shorter than any festival walk in memory. The vibe of the Eight remained incredibly laid-back throughout the weekend, with well-behaved fans who appreciated the blissful setting. The entire event seemed like a Phish festival all grown-up. With amenities at every turn, shuttles to and from the lavish, nearby resorts, we certainly weren’t in Limestone anymore. Conducive to the band’s family-oriented atmosphere, the guys could hop back and forth between their loved ones and the festival in minutes.

10.31.09 (W.Rogell)

10.31.09 (W.Rogell)

The ease of Festival 8 seems to be the evolution of the Phish festival – easy access and hassle free. Providing a different feel from the absolute isolation of Limestone, this new model is quite  logical for the band’s place in time; just as Limestone defined the late ’90s. Virtually incomparable, Limestone possessed a Phishy magic that Indio could not. Just knowing what everyone had to do to reach the tip of America made those ritualistic weekends irreplaceable. The entire events were bigger, vaster, and more adventurous. We had our own city on the edge of the earth, and no one even knew. The unique majesty of those experiences will live inside us forever. But again, that was then and this is now. I’m not sure anyone who attended Festival 8 would have traded Indio for Limestone in a million years. Just as Phish and their fans continue to mature, and their music evolves, so will their signature events.

10.31 III (G.Lucas)

10.31 III (G.Lucas)

On top of everything else, the choice of locale – the Palm Springs desert – made the weekend flawless. With sunny days and cool evenings, the weather never intruded on our good times – something that can’t be said for virtually any other Phish festival. In addition, the site’s proximity to the highway provided easy access for the sundry artists, vendors and attractions. An amalgam of the Phishy spirit and the over-the-top west coast creativity of Burning Man, the art installations at Eight upped the ante from previous festivals, creating the feel of a psychedelic carnival. Throw in multiple bars, shade tents, countless couches, a jumbo-tron showing sporting events and movies, and golf cart taxis to get around the grounds, and this was most definitely not your father’s Phish festival!

4075629370_45205d109f_o

Festival 8 (R.Gibbs)

Perhaps the biggest difference between Indio and Coventry is the utter joy engulfing the entire community these days. Back in ’04, we were there to celebrate a legacy – an irreplaceable time in our lives that was coming to a pre-mature end. And regardless of how much fun we had, the weekend possessed an irrefutable sadness.  Indio could not have been more opposite. With Phish back in 2009 – happy and on the rise again – everyone wore ear to ear smiles, and the positivity was absolutely infectious all weekend long. I never saw one incident, argument or bit of beligerence from anyone all weekend long, just people rejoicing to be back in the promised land.

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Winged-music-noteJam of the Day:

2001 > Curtain > Tweezer” 11.19.95

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A standout sequence that kicked-off Charlotte’s second set along the road of Fall ’95.

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Festival 8 (Photo: Russell Gibbs)

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DOWNLOAD OF THE DAY:

11.15.95 Sun Dome, USF, Tampa, FL < Torrent

11.15.95 Sun Dome, USF, Tampa, FL < Megaupload

Sun Dome - U of South Florida

Sun Dome - U of South Florida

Making their tour of Florida universities, the band stopped at The University of South Florida a day after playing their legendary Orlando show the night before at The University of Central Florida, and three days after playing Gainesville. Amidst a tremendous run in the Sunshine State, a fierce “Mike’s Groove” holds down the second set of this show.

I: Poor Heart, AC/DC Bag, Fast Enough for You, Rift, Prince Caspian, Sparkle, Split Open and Melt, Sweet Adeline, The Squirming Coil

II: Wilson, Theme From the Bottom, Scent of a Mule, Mike’s Song > Life on Mars? > Weekapaug Groove, Fee, While My Guitar Gently Weeps

E: Suzy Greenberg

Notes: The band won the first chess game with the audience.

Source: Unknown

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The Power of Songs

Posted in Uncategorized with the tags , on November 11th, 2009 by Mr.Miner

The Acoustic Set (G. Lucas)

The Acoustic Set (G. Lucas)

Take away the psychedelic improv, monstrous dance grooves, countless effect pedals, digital delay loops, multiple keyboards, envelope filters, and all of the accoutrements of a full-on Phish show, and the songs remain. Lyrics, melodies, and rhythms, stripped down to their naked core; vulnerable souls of their electric kin. Phish has never been known for their pure songwriting prowess, and they have rarely tapped into this energy in their career. Hence, the band surprised everyone when they announced the inclusion of a full-length acoustic set at Festival 8. It would be a first at a Phish festival, and showed a willingness explore a new side of their music.

As we walked to sun-drenched concert field at the crack of noon, few knew what to expect from the band who had played exactly two full acoustic sets in their career. Would they play songs we had never heard before? Would they eliminate favorites from the night time festivities by playing acoustic versions? Would they play Gamehendge like it was story time? It was anyone’s guess. With an iced coffee in one hand and a spliff in the other, I sat down on a blanket to enjoy the show. Having never sat for a moment of Phish in memory – less one “Scent of a Mule” (when I was wholly overwhelmed by the speedy bluegrass and had to sit right there on the arena floor amidst knee-slapping dancers) – I actually looked forward to kicking back and listening to what the band had in store. Certainly the peak of the Festival 8′s mellow vibe, many would return to camp unexpectedly touched by their afternoon experience.

The Acoustic Set (W.Rogell)

The Acoustic Set (W.Rogell)

For the first time in my life, I didn’t stand up when the band hit the stage. Others did, but I decided to fully embrace the experience. The show started with a whisper, opening Sunday morning with a gentle rendition of “Water In the Sky.” As the band meticulously played through many of their mellower songs, it became abundantly clear that the band – and particularly Trey – had practiced unplugged. Not known for his acoustic playing, Trey sounded crisper than any other time in his career; a far cry from his sing-alongs on his solo tours. The band’s vocals, which sounded so strong all weekend long, was another key facet to this set’s success. An obvious reflection of their healthier lifestyle, Trey and Page, especially, sounded more dynamic – and controlled – than ever before.

Between the heartfelt playing and poignant vocals, the power of Phish’s songs emerged. There was no jamming, there were no antics or trickery, just the aural fabric of Phish music. The patience and soul that Phish showcased on this afternoon (and in The Exile Set) illustrated a musical maturity that many never imagined from Phish; an ability to access our deepest emotions not by blowing our minds, but by warming our hearts. Over the course of two hours, the band melted their audience with ballads – “Strange Design,” Mountains In the Mist,” “Let Me Lie,” and “Talk;” Phish favorites – “Bouncin’,” “Curtain (With), “Wilson,” and “McGrupp;” and a couple debuts – “Invisible” and “Sleep Again.”

The Acoustic Set (G. Lucas)

The Acoustic Set (G. Lucas)

But the most powerful moment of the set may have been the last. As the third song of their encore, the band played the post-hiatus ballad, “Secret Smile.” This ardent composition appeared only six times in Phish’s second chapter, and never more bittersweet than in Vegas ’04. Appearing late in the first of three shows that allowed everyone to see the band unraveling, Trey’s voice sounded more strained as ever, as his guitar seemed to cry in desperation through his dripping solo. A month later, Phish announced their retirement. So when Phish brought out “Secret Smile” for the first time since Vegas ’04, it carried a profound emotional weight. Translating differently than before, the song likened hymn of happiness and redemption. As the band extended its delicate ending, one could hear a pin drop on the grass field as the eloquent energy captivated everyone. Many of us became flooded with emotion – an appreciation of being back where we belonged. No funk licks, triumphant jams, or psychedelic experiments were necessary to deliver this message. As we sat there, immersed in the soul of Phish, we could feel it undeniably. And it was good.

Water in the Sky, Back on the Train, Brian and Robert, Invisible*,Strange Design, Mountains in the Mist The Curtain (With), Army of One, Sleep Again*, My Sweet One, Let Me Lie, Bouncing Around the Room, Train Song, Wilson, McGrupp and the Watchful Hosemasters

E: Driver, Talk, Secret Smile

*debut

Winged-music-note=====

Jams of the Day:  11.1 – The Acoustic Set

Secret Smile

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Mountains In the Mist

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The Curtain (With)

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IT’S OFFICIAL! : NEW YEARS IN MIAMI

header-miami-2009Yesterday, with an announcement that amounted to a mere formality, Phish unveiled their four-night New Years Run at American Airline Arena in Miami, FL. Though the community has known this for months, and it was confirmed, in jest, in Festival 8′s Phishbill, it’s always fun to get the official word. This will be the band’s first New Years Run since Miami 2003. Anyone who was there in ’03 can tell you there is nary a better place to spend New Years than on the beach with the Phish. Sunshine by day and psychedelia by night – the situation can not be beat!

The ticket lottery is currently underway and ends this Sunday, November 15th at 11.59 pm. See you there!

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DOWNLOAD OF THE DAY:

11.12.95 O’Connell Center, Gainesville, FL < Torrent

11.12.95 O’Connell Center, Gainesville, FL < Megaupload

Fall Tour '95 T-Shirt

Fall Tour '95 T-Shirt

This is the next show after Atlanta’s Fox Theatre run that kicked off the second half of Fall ’95. The first of four consecutive Florida shows, Phish continued to fire on all cylinders during their 54-show romp, building historic momentum throughout November and December, peaking their style of play.

I: My Friend, My Friend, Llama, Bouncing Around the Room, Guelah Papyrus, Reba, I Didn’t Know, Taste That Surrounds, If I Could, Split Open and Melt, Hello My Baby

II: The Curtain > Tweezer > Keyboard Army, Sample in a Jar, Slave to the Traffic Light, Hold Your Head Up > Cracklin’ Rosie > Hold Your Head Up, Possum, Tweezer Reprise

E: Fire

Source: Unknown

Tags: ,

A Sunday Spectacle

Posted in Uncategorized with the tags , on November 9th, 2009 by Mr.Miner
Rogell_indio3_3

11.1.09 (Photo:Wendy Rogell)

After Phish unleashed a full weekend of music, and a Halloween show for the ages, they still had Sunday night left on their plate. With the highly-anticipated Halloween and acoustic sets behind them, the band had two more to let loose with their own brand of celebration. Daylight “savings” time provided us with a two-set show in the dark, despite its early 5:30 start time. A feeling of relaxation swept through the air, as everyone prepared for an all-Phish throwdown; and that is exactly what we got. With a second set comprised, almost exclusively, of the band’s darkest dance grooves, Phish concluded the Halloween weekend with the desert dance party that had loomed over the festival.  The 30th brought segued experimentation, the 31st brought soulful rock and roll, and the the 1st brought heavy, crunching rhythms. Squeezing “Tweezer,” “Free,” “Mikes” and “2001″ all within one frame of Phish, the band left no doubt of their direction for the weekends final chapter.

11.1.09 (G. Lucas)

11.1.09 (G. Lucas)

The Indio “Tweezer” waited in the wings as the band took the stage for the eighth time at Festival 8. We knew it was coming soon, but when opening licks rumbled from the speakers to open the set, everyone strapped in for blastoff. Phish’s signature exploration followed the edenic path of the weekend, passing through a series of laid-back rock grooves before taking a turn for the spiritual. Playing off the festival setting, the band created a slowed down soundscape that matched their expansive surroundings, before collectively building out of the structured “Tweezer” jam. Trey and Page favored patient and sublime melody and harmony over rhythmic funk, forming an uplifting jam that peaked with blissful intent. Trey took the lead, gushing with heart-tugging lines that sailed atop with his bandmates’ backdrop.

11.1.09 (G.Lucas)

11.1.09 (G.Lucas)

Following this emotive peak, Phish dropped into a funkified section that saw Trey chop away some patented rhythmic patterns. But before long, the band moved beyond these grooves, landing in some spacey psychedelia that slowly spun its way down into “Maze.” This rare combination of songs kept the energy of the show at the highest level as Phish crushed their maniacal classic under the second’s set white-hot spotlight. The meticulous quality of the ordered chaos formed a mind-bending whole that hearkened back to the band’s earlier, more blast-your-head-off years. The juxtaposition of “Tweezer’s” triumphant swamp adventure and “Maze’s deliberate insanity showcased the sparkling polish that gleamed from Phish’s diverse skill sets. Stylistically opposite, both songs possessed a rabid cohesion that merged to form one of Festival 8′s most significant highlights. And just when it seemed like time for a breather, the band cranked up “Free.”

A perfect choice to follow the pent up tension of “Maze,” “Free” provided musical resolution without lessening the energy of the set one iota. The verses and chorus gave a short break from the bombast, but the drop into the jam threw us right back in. Still refusing to go all-0ut on “Free,” the band nonetheless got into some heavy, festival-sized grooves before setting their course for the songs conclusion. Strong versions of  “Sugar Shack,” “Limb By Limb” and “Theme” followed, but the set seemed at risk of  transforming into a series of standalone songs. But just as “Theme” came to an end, the opening riff of “Mike’s Song” obliterated any such possibility, opening the door to a menacing musical suite.

11.1.09 (G.Lucas)

11.1.09 (G.Lucas)

As Phish dropped into the apocalyptic “Mike’s” jam, the gigantic torches encircling the field rhythmically spat fire in the greatest use of the props all weekend. The music and fire converged perfectly for the first time, providing the palpable feeling of descending into the underworld. The massive sound enveloped the audience, as Trey set a fire of his own with a sinister solo. As the band annihilated the bass-driven patterns in a spectacle of epic proportions, the entire moment took on a life of its own. The jam absorbed the overwhelming energy of the masses, pumping the intensity back into the music, and up through the stratosphere. As Phish peaked their evil romp, one could already feel the segue into “Hydrogen,” but in the most exciting moment of the weekend, Phish kicked into the sloooow funk of “2001.” “Mikes > 2001″ – the first time ever – 16 years after incorporating the funk-cover into their catalog. Gordon’s forged the crack-like space-funk with precise, booming bass lines that guided the crowd through one of the frozen moments from Festival 8 that will live eternally. Talk about adrenaline – this was another level!

11.1.09 (G.Lucas)

11.1.09 (G.Lucas)

As everyone and their mom expected the band to come tearing out of “2001″ with “Weekapaug,” Phish delivered another left hook as they blended the sustained peak with the opening of “Light!” Unsure of where the music was headed, one thing I knew for sure – the band was flying through uncharted territory with an unconscious determination. As lyrics gave way to improv, they took off on a high-speed chase through some inspiring jamming that took on that sense that the instruments were playing the band. The energy flowed like a river through the entire festival as Phish explored one of their new-found excursions.

'Burble' During "Light"

'Burble' During "Light"

As the climbing jam reached a plateau, Page infused an ambient feel into the mix. The rest of the band latched on to this idea, forming an abstract spacescape behind Trey’s fading melodies. The entire band congealed into an amoeba-like ambient jam during which another Burble structure reached into the sky above. All props aside, however, the actual soundscape the band molded carried an ominous tone that continually delved deeper. Fish’s cymbal work gave way to a singular, drone beat that added to the eerie quality of the music. The balloon structure morphed to the side of the stage, attracting hypnotic stares. Minutes into the cosmic soup, Trey suggested a melody that subtly tipped off the jam’s destination. Softly oozing into the opening of “Slave,” another indelible memory had just unfolded.

Bringing a gorgeous resolution to the darkness, the composition sounded pristine, soon giving way to the band’s delicate creativity. Starting at silence, Phish sculpted the climactic bookend to the set-opening “Tweezer.” Phenomenally patient, the music seemed to unroll at a pre-destined pace amidst the near-silent crowed of over 30,000 people. Laced with majestic interplay between Trey and Mike, the band crafted a well-phrased, emotional exclamation point on an unforgettable weekend. Flowing with IT from the beginning of the set, Phish nailed their triumphant finale, leaving everyone drooling for more.

11.1.09 (G.Lucas)

11.1.09 (G.Lucas)

As the band came out for the encore, everyone expected them to follow “Grind” with “Weekapaug,” but in a far cooler move, the band began the site-appropriate carnival tale of “Esther.” Finalizing the weekend with a fire-driven “Reprise,” “Weekapaug” would wait for another day, leaving the otherworldly second-set sequence reading “Mike’s > 2001 > Light > Slave!” Coupled with the strongest first set of the weekend, Indio’s final offering quickly leapt into the upper-echelon of  2009. There’s nothing like ending on an high note, and the band concluded Festival 8 with, easily, their strongest set of Phish. With only weeks separating the band from the concrete confines of Fall Tour, things couldn’t have been better out west after a peak Phish experience.

Set 1 Notes:

11.1.09 (G.Lucas)

11.1.09 (G.Lucas)

The most significant first set of the weekend started with the tightly wound combo of “AC/DC Bag” and “Rift” before opening up with a standout “Jibboo.” Ever since Phish’s return, and from Red Rocks in earnest, “Jibboo” has been a constant show highlight whenever it appears. A well-played, drawn out “Heavy Things” set the table for the arguably the best “Reba” of 3.0, with Jones Beach providing the only competition. The band absolutely nailed every note of the composed section until their infamous brainfart entering the jam. But nobody was left thinking of imperfections after the band slaughtered the sensual improv. “Undermind” saw Trey experiment with new textures amidst the chunky groove, also providing a highpoint of the set. Fitting nicely in its 3.0 slot, a dense, quasi-abstract “Split” punctuated the opening frame a with scorching version that certainly holds up on tape. All in all, this strong opening round foreshadowed what lurked around the corner.

I: AC/DC Bag, Rift, Gotta Jibboo, Heavy Things, Reba, The Wedge, Guelah Papyrus, Undermind, Sparkle, Split Open and Melt

II: Tweezer > Maze, Free, Sugar Shack, Limb By Limb, Theme From the Bottom, Mike’s Song > 2001 > Light > Slave to the Traffic Light

E: Grind, Esther, Tweezer Reprise

Winged-music-note=====

Jam of the Day:

Tweezer > Maze” 11.01 II

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Indio_Nov1_8

California Love - 11/1/09 (Photo:Graham Lucas)

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DOWNLOAD OF THE DAY:

11.10.90 Earlham College, Richmond, IN SBD < Torrent

11.10.90 Earlham College, Richmond, IN SBD < Megaupload

Earlham-College

19 Years Ago Today

This is the only November 10th show, other than The Fox in 1995, over the span of the last twenty years. Happy anniversary to Earlham College! Enjoy the early-school SBD.

I: Reba, The Landlady, Bouncing Around the Room, Runaway Jim, Cavern, My Sweet One, Buried Alive > The Lizards, Mike’s Song > I Am Hydrogen > Weekapaug Groove

II: Suzy Greenberg, You Enjoy Myself, The Asse Festival, Fee, Llama, The Divided Sky, Bike, Possum

Source: SBD

Tags: ,

A Stairway To The Stars

Posted in Uncategorized with the tags , on November 9th, 2009 by Mr.Miner

10.30.09 (Photo: Graham Kucas)

10.30.09 (Photo: Graham Lucas)

With all due focus on Phish’s mastery of The Exile Set and the bombast of Festival 8′s final frame, the shadows cast have already engulfed the 30th, a show that was anything but forgettable. Setting up Halloween with a flowing second set of tightly woven improv, Phish played a show that spanned the emotional spectrum from uplifting to macabre. Surrounded by colorfully lit palm trees and and giant, flame-throwing tiki-torches, the band opened their musical carnival by stringing together several popular jams while molding an artistic set with a distinctly Phishy flavor.

Indio_Oct 30_09

10.30.09 (G.Lucas)

The band kicked off the second half with 1000 mics of adrenaline to the dome in the form of a festival-sized “Punch,” as Trey’s crack-like guitar scratches burst from lowered speaker towers that practically stared us in the face. With all the room in the world to move, the concert field collectively exploded as Phish tore into the full-on opener. Using the composition to set up a drop into a larger vehicle, the only question was which they would choose. Gordeaux quickly answered this question with his signature bass feedback, signaling entry into “Down With Disease.”

10.30.09 (W.Rogell)

10.30.09 (W.Rogell)

Launching into one of the year’s most consistent jams, Phish brought us on a magic carpet ride as they crushed the melodic, structured jam. Though several minutes into this scintillating “Disease,” Trey changed into a series of quasi-distorted rhythm chops, signaling a break from the song’s form. The already thrilling adventure turned menacing as Trey’s guitar tone transformed into an uncompressed growl, pulling the band into darker territory. Page hopped onto the clav, Fish switched up beats, and the band merged into sparser grooves – seemingly on the verge of  something bigger. Washes of sonic psychedelia coupled with a slowed, then diminished beat, soon created an effect-laden transition into “Prince Caspian.” Throughout this initial portion of the set, Phish displayed cohesive playing with a fierce intention behind their improv. Exuding confidence through their instruments, the band built a gorgeous version of the imaginary tale before forgoing the song’s final power chords for a piano transition into “Wolfman’s.”

10.30.09 (G.Lucas)

10.30.09 (G.Lucas)

The subsequent sequence of “Wolfman’s > Piper” contained the most adventurous jamming of the weekend, as well as Phish’s darkest Halloween experimentation. Spring-boarding off a series of swanky grooves, Phish took us into the netherworld with an ambient exploration of the occult. Syrupy funk dripped from the speakers onto the first festival audience in six years, in a confluence of motion and catharsis. The band locked into slowed down dance rhythms that included equal contributions from all members, quickly building into a show highlight. The mechanical precision of the over-sized grooves brought that physical rush of excitement inside, that ability to conquer the universe as it raced through my mind. The limitless room to move only enhanced the aura of freedom, and as the grooves wound down, Phish dropped into space.

Crafting the weekend’s “Halloween jam,” Phish evoked memories of the insane depths plunged by “Wolfman’s” on Halloween ’98, with a harrowing ’09-style ambient excursion. Building a terrorizing wall of eerie psychedelia Phish summoned the dark spirits with their cryptic musical mysticism. Sculpting one of the most ominous jams of the year, the band sufficiently explored this haunted realm before the passage bled into “Piper.”

10.30.09 (W.Rogell)

10.30.09 (W.Rogell)

Another one of ’09s strongest songs, “Piper,” reached a place of organ-led, sparse, rhythmic playing that maintained the music’s fast-pace while opening up space within for unique offerings. This jam grew into a truly engaging piece of Phish, as the band continued to break down the music into an increasingly divergent place. Morphing into an awesome melodic plane with shimmering rhythms and seemingly-composed melodies, Trey added a vocal layer over top -  much like the Gorge’s “Light” jam – and the band arrived in some truly sublime music. Only after the next night – and upon further listening – did it become evident that Phish had previewed their Halloween costume at the end of “Piper” with an “I Just Wanna See His Face” jam. One of the outstanding highlights of The Exile Set got some practice the night before; much like the band used the “Mike’s” jam in Tallahassee on 10.29.96, to covertly jam on Remain in Light’s “Houses In Motion.” This Stones-laced “Piper,” one of the most beautiful musical moments of the weekend, delicately dissolved into “Joy.” The band used the poignant ballad as a landing point for their extensive improv, as everything flowed perfectly through this sequence.

Phish got right back to business as they dropped into “Bowie.” Just before the band popped out of the intro, Trey dropped one last bit of misdirection, whispering, “We’re gonna give you a little hint about the Halloween album now.” Pranksters until the end, Phish followed the joke with a concise, yet smoking, rendition of their classic. More true to form than in past years, ’09 “Bowies” have remained type-I all the way, and this one followed suit. Nonetheless, the band showcased their spot-on communication as they built perhaps the song’s strongest outing of the year.

"Burble" (G.Lucas)

'Burble' During "Harry Hood" (G.Lucas)

Combining two of their oldest pieces, Phish unveiled their first (non-Coventry) festival “Harry Hood” in ten years. A hallmark of The Clifford Ball, The Great Went, and Lemonwheel, there has always been something incomparable about a wide-open “Hood” in a vast field, under an never-ending sky. As the band brought back a treasured tradition, they also introduced “Burble,” our partner in hallucination for the weekend. As the band sailed into the ethereal jam, a balloon structure, likening a massive pharmaceutical, floated gently over the crowd. Kuroda used the piece as a backdrop for his own work as the entire experience created a tripped-out, blissful conclusion to the set. While playing through this masterfully nuanced “Hood,” the superb quality and creativity of the actual music got overshadowed by the artistic eye-candy. The holistic spectacle, however, made for an uplifting and psychedelic start to the band’s first-ever west coast festival.

Making our way out of the concert field for the first time, we passed by The Coil, through the haunted castle, and around the decorative grounds Phish created for the weekend. Surrounded by giant art installations, exhibits with artists busy at work, and other sundry attractions, the distinctly mellow vibe of Eight contrasted with the monstrosities of yesteryear. As we made the short walk back to our free-for-all campground following an exciting show, we still had six sets left! Was this heaven? No; it was the long-awaited return of the Phish festival!

Set 1 Notes:

10.30.09 (G.Lucas)

10.30.09 (G.Lucas)

Just as everyone predicted, Phish opened their first festival of the modern era with “Party Time.” More polished and confident than Merriweather’s debut, this slapped a smile on everyone’s face just as things revved up. A raging, above-average “Chalk Dust” kicked the energy up a notch, setting up a drop into the liquid funk of “Moma Dance.” A mid-set combo of “Stealing Time” and “Stash” stirred up the witches’ cauldron with their paths of sonic sorcery. “Stealing Time” stretched into its most significant incarnation to date, pushing the song a bit further towards the brink of type-II exploration. “Stash” followed its late-summer pattern of blow-out versions, this time with a shift into a major-key for a section of the jam before landing back into darkness; a highlight version no doubt.

I: Party Time, Chalkdust Torture, Moma Dance, NICU, Stealing Time From The Faulty Plan, Stash, I Didn’t Know, Poor Heart, Cavern, Beauty of a Broken Heart, Ocelot, Time Turns Elastic

II: Punch You In The Eye, Down with Disease > Prince Caspian > Wolfman’s Brother > Piper > Joy, David Bowie, Harry Hood, Golgi Apparatus

E: Character Zero

10.30.09 Indio, CA < Torrent

10.30.09 Indio, CA < Megaupload

Winged-music-note=====

Jam of the Day: 10.30 II

“Wolfman’s > Piper > Joy”

The highlight of the first night.

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DOWNLOAD OF THE DAY:

10.30.90 El Dorado Cafe, Crested Butte, CO SBD < Torrent

10.30.90 El Dorado Cafe, Crested Butte, CO SBD < Megaupload

Circa 1990 (Unknown)

Circa 1990 (Unknown)

Here a show from Phish’s first Halloween weekend in Colorado during 1990. This is the night before Halloween, sticking with the theme of the day. This old-school SBD includes the debut of “Llama” and more than a few classics in early form.

I: The Landlady > Bouncing Around the Room, Donna Lee, The Asse Festival > Suzy Greenberg, Uncle Pen, Cavern, The Squirming Coil, Possum

II: Mike’s Song > I Am Hydrogen > Weekapaug Groove, Magilla, Foam, Reba > Llama*, The Ballad of Curtis Loew, Fluffhead, Hold Your Head Up > Terrapin > Hold Your Head Up, Buried Alive > David Bowie

III: Paul and Silas, The Lizards, Good Times Bad Times, Contact, AC/DC Bag

*debut

Source: SBD

*****

Indio_Oct 30_14

10.30.09 Indio, CA (Photo: Graham Lucas)

10.30.90 Indio, CA (Photo: Graham Lucas)

Tags: ,

Weekend Nuggets: Festival 8

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

DOWNLOAD OF THE WEEKEND:

11.1.09 Festival 8, Indio, CA < Torrent

11.1.09 Festival 8, Indio, CA < Megaupload

After the Halloween festivities, Phish ripped one of their strongest two-set shows of the year. Much more to come about this one, but both sets contained highlights galore. The night, and weekend, peaked with a second frame filled with thick, festival-sized dance grooves. A write-up will follow next week. The acoustic set – a story all its own – is included in this download.

Indio_Nov1_13

11.1.09 (Photo: Graham Lucas)

Acoustic Set: Water In The Sky, Back On The Train, Brian and Robert, Invisible, Strange Design, Mountains in the Mist, The Curtain With, Army of One, Sleep Again, My Sweet One, Let Me Lie, Bouncing Around The Room, Train Song, Wilson, McGrupp and the Watchful Hosemasters E: Driver, Talk, Secret Smile

II: AC/DC Bag, Rift, Gotta Jiboo, Heavy Things, Reba, The Wedge, Guelah Papyrus, Undermind, Sparkle, Split Open & Melt

III: Tweezer > Maze, Free, Sugar Shack, Limb By Limb, Theme From The Bottom, Mike’s Song > 2001 > Light > Slave To The Traffic Light

E: Grind, Esther, Tweezer Reprise

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

Winged-music-note=====

Jams of the Weekend: 11.1 Set I

Jibboo

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Reba

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Split Open & Melt

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=====

VIDEO OF THE WEEKEND:

“Torn and Frayed” 10.31.09 II

***

“Suzy Greenberg” 10.31.09 E

***

99 Albums In 4:20

Here is the mesmerizing video montage of all 99 albums that was played on Halloween before The Exile Set. Eclectic Method, a trio of video remix artists, created the entertaining mash-up. Attached to this segment was a final Rolling Stones clip that is missing. Check it out!

Tags: , ,

A Happy Halloween

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

After nailing their costume of  Exile On Main Street, Phish emerged for their third set of Halloween. Usually reserved for uber-exploratory, dark jamming, the final sets of Halloweens past have featured ’94′s demonic “David Bowie,” ’95′s colossal “You Enjoy Myself,” ’96′s combo of “Maze” and a dark-horse “Simple,” and ’98′s terrorizing masterpiece of “Wolfman’s Brother.” So when the band came out for their final frame, it wasn’t a leap of faith to think that we were in for some heavy psychedelia, ’09 style. But when the dust settled after the triumphant five-song set, many were left wondering where the ghosts and goblins had gone?

10.30.09 (G.Lucas)

10.30.09 (G.Lucas)

Instead of delving into their hallowed haunted experiments, Phish laid down their most upbeat and cheerful Halloween set ever. Many waited for the spooks to arrive, but even when the band launched into a third set “Ghost,” no harrowing darkness emerged. Slightly thrown, waiting to hear a larger and more sinister piece of music, expectations poked at my third set experience.

10.30.09 (W.Rogell)

10.30.09 (W.Rogell)

Opening the set with “Backwards Down the Number Line” seemed like an odd Halloween choice, but remembering the burgeoning versions of late-summer, it seemed Phish would use their favorite new-school vehicle to take us into the abyss. The last times we heard the song, it blossomed into uncharted psychedelia at SPAC and Chicago. But on this night in Indio, the jam barely broke form, and when it did, it spilled right into “Fluffhead.” Featuring the once-elusive opus in almost every big set this year, Phish played a particularly strong version of their revived composition. And when “The Arrival” hit, the tree-sized tiki-torches that surrounded the concert field shot blasts of fire for the first time of the weekend. A triumphant guitar solo had the crowd in the palm of Trey’s hand, and upon the ending of the song, Phish dropped into the “Ghost” we had been waiting for.

10.30.09 (G.Lucas)

10.30.09 (G.Lucas)

“The Indio Ghost” – it sounded nasty before it even started. As Phish darted into the jam, they carried a distinct rock and roll texture with them. Some short clav patterns and rhythm chops would be as funky as this version got, as the band veered away from deep groove or dark psychedelia in favor of a straight forward rock grooves. Minutes into this section, Page initiated a piano pattern that spurned a gradual, band-wide peak into the fields of bliss. Trey decided he would take this one as far from the dark side as possible, doubling as a geyser of spiritual melodies in one of the most energetic peaks of the weekend. A relatively concise jam ended on very high note before winding back down into the song’s ending. A solid version no doubt, but certainly nothing eerie or supernatural.

10.31.09 (G.Lucas)

10.31.09 (G.Lucas)

At this point, it became clear Phish chose a different path for this Halloween set, or perhaps their emotions just brought them there. Having just finished the Exile set, and no doubt hanging with all of their guests during setbreak, the obviously fun energy of their evening may have led them to choose feel-good music to finish off the night. And in the Phish universe there is nary a feel-good song like “You Enjoy Myself.” The ensuing version that followed a “Circus” interlude transformed into an instant show highlight with a series of grooves and continual peaks that showcased the band’s precision and passion on this special night. Phish slaughtered their classic in one of the strongest renditions of the year. An extended bass vamp led into a vocal jam in which Kuroda improvised with the fire of the tiki-torches rather than the stage lights – creating the most entertaining ending segment in memory.

Following the vibe of the show, the encore brought back the horns and singers for a blistering gospel-rock version of “Suzy Greenberg, complete with a “Suzy Reprise” jam once the song ended. It may have been Halloween, but Phish had just thrown down a definitively rejoiceful set with smiles all around. As the band transformed “Suzy” into a climactic show-closer with their entire ensemble, the positive energy oozed off the stage. A celebratory Halloween, this night will be remembered for its grab bag of musical treats rather than any wicked trickery.

Winged-music-note=====

Jams of the Day: 10.31 III

Ghost

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You Enjoy Myself

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=====

DOWNLOAD OF THE DAY:

phish-festival8-ticket10.30.09 Festival 8, Indio, CA < Torrent

10.30.09 Festival 8, Indio, CA < Megaupload

I: Party Time, Chalk Dust Torture, The Moma Dance, NICU, Stealing Time From The Faulty Plan, Stash, I Didn’t Know, Poor Heart, Cavern, Beauty of a Broken Heart, Ocelot, Time Turns Elastic

II: Punch You in the Eye, Down With Disease > Prince Caspian > Wolfman’s Brother > Piper > Joy, David Bowie, Harry Hood, Golgi Apparatus

E: Character Zero

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

Tags: , ,

Evoking the Soul of Rock And Roll

Posted in Uncategorized with the tags , , on November 5th, 2009 by Mr.Miner

“What Phish is doing tonight is more than covering a record. They are telling, through these songs, their own stories about ecstasy, madness and survival.”

- David Fricke in Festival 8′s Phishbill

The Exile Set (G.Lucas)

The Exile Set (Graham Lucas)

The Rolling Stones’ 1972 masterpiece “Exile On Main Street” chronicles the adventures and experiences of life in a rock n roll band. Via the album’s 18 songs, the Stones’ illustrated both the glamorous and dark sides of life as a touring act; a thematic fit for Phish in 2009. The band has returned to glory after living twenty-plus years of the rock and roll life, with many successes, tribulations, and anecdotes under their belt. By donning the music of Exile, Phish vicariously narrated their own tumultuous path of super-stardom, with each song providing a snippet of the experience. But when looked at as a whole, Exile On Main Street is a definitive cultural record that chronicles both the “beautiful buzz[es]” and “torn and frayed” nature of the rock lifestyle. And beyond its narrative nature, the album, itself, provides a veritable history lesson on the musical influences of rock and roll.

The Exile Set (G.Lucas)

"Loving Cup" (G.Lucas)

While the album’s subject fit congruently for Phish, its music hearkened back to the roots of Americana rock and roll. Colored with blues guitar licks, country rhythms, and soulful lyrics and backed by a sparkling horn section and outstanding singers, Phish threw down one of their most powerful Halloween sets to date. With gospel-esque harmonies and horn arrangements that popped with cleanliness and authority, one could tell that the entire group had rehearsed the album plenty of times before stepping on the stage. Instead of pushing the band in a new musical direction, “Exile” seemed to be reflection of Phish’s current state of music. Joy’s cohesion lies in its blues-rock feel and its narrative, thematic storytelling, both facets that are part and parcel of Exile. Thematically similar – reflecting on darker days and the hope of a brighter future – “Exile” seemed incredibly appropriate as the set got going. And beyond its lyrical themes, Phish absolutely nailed the double-album of music.

If one word could define the feeling of the Exile set, it is “soul.” Combining a virtuoso horn section of David Guy (trumpet), David Smith (trombone), and Tony Jarvis (tenor saxophone) with Sharon Jones of The Dap-Kings and Saundra Williams on vocals, Phish created an ensemble that cooperatively killed the entire set. Sometimes out front and sometimes subtle, the horns provided impeccable accompaniment throughout the album, while the singers gave the set an authentic feel of southern gospel fusion. Collectively, their performances formed a near-religious run-through of the hallowed album.

Phishbill (Jamtopia)

Phishbill (Jamtopia)

Fans received Phishbills the morning of the show, eliminating any last-minute surprise to the Halloween set, but also giving fans time to re-listen to Exile a couple times during the afternoon. Once Phish took the stage, however, the captivating album sprang to life. With the popular opener “Rocks Off,” Phish and friends were off and running in what became a classic night in the band’s history. After settling in through the first few songs, Phish grew far more relaxed and by “Tumbling Dice” had loosed up to absolute comfort while having the time of their lives.

With eighteen songs on the album, Phish, more or less, played each true to form. But after a poignant version of “Sweet Virginia” with Fishman on vocals, the band let their chops loose on “Torn and Frayed” – a highlight of the set and the top contender to remain in the band’s rotation. Taking the emotional and groovy composition on a Phishy ride, the song seemed like a perfect musical fit for Phish at this stage of their career. Trey took liberty on his solo, lacing the song with his signature licks and crafting a massive high-point of the first part of Exile. Interestingly, Trey switched between two Languedocs during the set – one to mimic Kieth Richards’ metallic, rhythm-like playing and one for searing solos; this time he used the latter.

10.31.09 (G.Lucas)

10.31.09 (G.Lucas)

The Rolling Stones’ ode to civil rights activist, Angela Davis, “Sweet Black Angel,” directly following “Torn and Frayed,” provided one of the most powerful moments of the set with its acoustic, southern-spiritual feel. This felt like the church of rock’s past, and we were all congregants. Goose bumps arose as the band delicately moved through this piece. The vocal harmonies were enough to make your heart melt all by themselves, and when the horns oozed into the mix, they provided a subtle, yet poignant, layer to one of the albums most meaningful songs.

The blow-out version of “Loving Cup” came next, boasting a completely full sound with the horns’ accompaniment. As the mid-point of the record, “Loving Cup” injected the set with a huge dose of energy. The horns and singers added so much to the song; a festive and Phishy moment amidst an album strewn with more somber themes. As expected, the crowd reacted enthusiastically to the suped-up version.

10.31.09 (S.Walters)

10.31.09 (S.Walters)

As the band turned the corner into the second half of the album, they were firing on all cylinders and carried a distinct musical momentum into the final stanza. The upbeat “Happy” kept the energetic vibe moving forward, as did the country-blues “Turd On the Run.” On these songs, as throughout the set, the horns shone brightly, illustrating flawless chops and a dynamic layer to the overall puzzle. The set took on a more-traditional blues feel with the slow-paced but infectious “Ventilator Blues.” Phish slid from this number into another set highlight – “I Just Want to See His Face.” With a refrain of “Let this music relax your mind,” and a sparse gospel texture, this song transported us into a small church rejoicing in the south. Jones and Williams, while defining the album’s feel, shone like stars on this song. “I Just Want to See His Face” provided a cool and refreshing moment as Trey integrated some Phishy effects into the mix; simply gorgeous.

10.31.09 (S.Walters)

10.31.09 (S.Walters)

From this point on, the album continued to build to its emotional peak, continuing with “Let It Loose.” Representing one of the Stone’s most prominent forays into gospel, Phish interpreted the piece with indelible accuracy. Page’s lyrical treatment of the piece infused a soulful feel, and combined with Jones and Williams, the band sounded spot-on. The emotional wave of the album began to peak in earnest with this piece. As the horns came in with their backing layers, the song dripped raw emotion onto the crowd, beginning the transformative – and hopeful – ending of the album.

After “All Down the Line” and “Stop Breaking Down,” two catchy blues-rock numbers, the set came to a cathartic peak with “Shine A Light.” Providing a stunning church-like musical experience, this may have been the most powerful cover of any Halloween album in the band’s history. Climaxing the set, both thematically and musically, lyrics have never seemed more appropriate for Trey, Phish, and for all of us at this stage of the game.

May the good Lord shine a light on you,
Make every song you sing your favorite tune.
May the good Lord shine a light on you,
Warm like the evening sun.

Peaking the darker album with a hymn of hope, the band and their guests absolutely crushed this song, creating a warm feel of Phish-gospel.

10.31.09 (S.Walters)

10.31.09 (S.Walters)

The album’s closer “Soul Survivor” carried a double-entendre, referencing the record’s musical roots and the band’s physical survival through their years of debauchery. A rocking denouement to a masterful set, this song punctuated one of Phish’s greatest Halloween escapades.

More than a simple cover, the Exile set provided a gorgeous glimpse into rock and roll history, bringing the genre’s roots to the forefront of the stage as Phish crafted one of their most memorable cover sets to date. More than any other musical costume, “Exile On Main Street” held a real meaning to the band members – both collectively and individually – a reflection of their own experiences as life-long rock stars. A record that each member fell in love with during their youth, both Trey and Page have dreamed of playing Exile forever. And on Saturday night, their dream came true, translating the classic album into Phish with grace and proficiency in the band’s triumphant return to Halloween.

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Jams of the Day: Some Exile Highlights

Torn and Frayed

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Sweet Black Angel

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Let It Loose

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Shine A Light

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DOWNLOAD OF THE DAY:

10.31.09 Festival 8, Indio, CA < Torrent

10.31.09 Festival 8, Indio, CA < Megaupload

Indio Pollock

Indio Pollock

I. Sample In A Jar, Divided Sky, Lawn Boy, Kill Devil Falls, Bathtub Gin, Squirming Coil, Runaway Jim, Possum, Run Like An Antelope

II. Rocks Off, Rip This Joint, Shake Your Hips, Casino Boogie, Tumblin’ Dice, Sweet Virginia, Torn And Frayed, Sweet Black Angel, Lovin’ Cup, Happy, Turd On The Run, Ventilator Blues > I Just Want To See His Face, Let It Loose, All Down The Line, Stop Breakin’ Down, Shine A Light, Soul Survivor

III. Backwards Down The Number Line > Fluffhead, Ghost, When The Circus Comes To Town, You Enjoy Myself

E: Suzy Greenberg*

* w/ horns and singers

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

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