“Rock And Roll > Limb”

Posted in Uncategorized with the tags , , on March 12th, 2009 by Mr.Miner
3.7.09 II (S. Wiltse)

3.7.09 II (S. Wiltse)

In a weekend that oozed positivity on all fronts, some of the specific musical passages were lost in the sheer spectacle of the event.  The three shows carried a very old-school vibe, from song choice to playing style.  Most of the jams were shorter, directed, and concise, following the path of their earlier days.  But, as usual, it’s quality, not quantity that is sought in Phish jams, and multiple segments from this weekend possessed an amazing dynamic.  Over the next while, we’ll take a look back at some of the moments that helped define Hampton ’09, and today we’ll start with Saturday night’s “Rock And Roll > Limb By Limb.”

Ready For Blast Off (J.Kravitz)

Ready For Blast Off! (J.Kravitz)

Coming out for their fourth set of the run, Phish had engaged in minimal open-ended improv over the previous three.  Most jams were structured and tight, but lacked much exploration.  This would change with the onset of this set.  The playing throughout this entire segment flowed organically, with nothing sounding forced or contrived.  The opening chords of the Velvet Underground cover riled up everyone immediately, bringing memories of the band’s late ’90s era of glory.  As Page started to sing, everything felt in place once again.

The lyrics leading into the improv were particularly poignant, speaking of the power of music to lift us out of hard times-  “Her life was saved by rock n roll…Despite all the complications…It was alright.”  A perfect ode to Phish’s present state of affairs, the crowd latched onto the meaning, cheering the powerful words. As the band sailed into the jam, Trey sat into an emotive solo, while Mike and Page created some interlocking offerings that, when combined with Fish’s work, formed a tightly cohesive and thematic jam.

"Free" 3.8.09 (J. DiGiuseppe)

"Free" 3.8.09 (J. DiGiuseppe)

Trey initiated the more exploratory section of improv with some guitar riffs that slowly guided the band out of the song’s structure.  Hopping onto his ideas, the band switched gears into a slowed down and murkier texture.  In a quick moment, they were amidst a separate jam that had nothing to do with the song; flowing fluidly.  Page and Trey complemented each other beautifully here, as Trey began to send guitar cries upwards towards the heavens.  The band congealed around these more spiritual licks, and allowed Trey to lead the improv, which continued down an emotional path until Page’s piano roll wound the jam down to a point where Trey picked it up and segued seamlessly into “Limb By Limb.”

3.6.09 (J.DiGiuseppe)

3.6.09 (J.DiGiuseppe)

As “Rock And Roll” went unfinished, the “Limb” was the natural continuation and peak to this introductory portion of the set.  Attacking the song with a delicate ferociousness, the band slayed it.  As the jam soared, the band was glued together and absolutely crushing it.  Trey took one of most gorgeous solos of the weekend, and the spirit emanating from the stage was infectious. Moving as one entity as they approached the apex, any separation between the band members was obliterated in their collective peak.  Reflective and celebratory at the same time, this jam served as a destination for the set’s initial climb.

3.7.09 II (S.Wiltse)

3.7.09 II (S.Wiltse)

As the set and the weekend rolled along, Phish would dig deeper into improvisational ground, but this piece of music would remain the first time Phish 3.0 took an open-ended musical risk and succeeded.  “Rock And Roll > Limb,” though not the longest piece in history, was played perfectly, fit right in with the vibe of the weekend, and will always be remembered as the first unstructured improvisational leap of the new era.

LISTEN TO “ROCK AND ROLL > LIMB” NOW! < LINK (Roll over link and press play)

***

HAMPTON AUDS UPDATE

hampton_outsideI should have tracked copies of the AUDs up by this weekend at latest. They will be from one of the No Spoilers tapers, Jesse Hurlburt, whose rig sounded great.  I know a lot of people prefer the AUDs, which is why I am posting them.  But if you have downloaded the SBDs and are into them- I think they are the best yet- save me a buck or two and hold off.  As always, please use torrents when possible.  In related news, I am going to set up a donate button soon for the cost of site / download maintenance with any profit going to charity, so stay tuned!

***

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“3.6.09” Photo: John DiGiuseppe

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Mothership Memoirs

Posted in Uncategorized with the tags , , on March 11th, 2009 by Mr.Miner
3.7.09 (S.Wiltse)

3.7.09 (S.Wiltse)

What a weekend!  Having had a chance to listen to almost everything at least once, I gotta’ say, the band sounds amazing.  So precise, so focused, and playing with such purpose.  The energy in the room, from the band and audience, was greater than I’d ever seen, and was certainly the defining memory of the three nights.  There were some points that felt like we were on the brink of blasting off into space- if arenas did that sort of thing.  Everyone always talks about the energy at a Phish show, but this was a whole different story- it was so tangible.  With 13,000 people in such a small building for such a massive event, the combination was ideal.  And something I had forgotten about Hampton is just how amazing the sound is in there; straight up crystalline.   All of these factors contributed to creating a weekend of pure magic.

"I Didn't Know" (J.Kravitz)

"I Didn't Know" (J.Kravitz - insidecelebpics.com)

Jams like “Foam” and Maze,” or songs like “Character Zero” and “Silent In the Morning” took on whole new character with the band’s mode of attack and the crowd’s response.  Another prime example was “My Friend, My Friend,” which sounded so ridiculously menacing with the dynamic in the intimate room.  The weekend was a rediscovery for everyone in the building of just how fun Phish can be.  The band ran through so much material; a recital of their most revered songs, flooding everyone with memories and emotions from the years shared together.

3.7.09 (S.Wiltse)

3.7.09 (S.Wiltse)

This weekend was about a new beginning, and as they say, “If you don’t know your past, you don’t know your future.”  It was the starting block for 3.0 and Phish got out of the gate rather fast.  Running through their history with a glimpse into the future.  It wasn’t coincidence that the only new song was about reuniting friends, and has a refrain of “The only rule is it begins.”  And begin it did.  With mostly old faces all around, this weekend was about reuniting and reigniting the Phish family.  While there may be fans of a new generation on summer tour, there were very few in The Mothership.

"Mike's Song" (J.Kravitz)

"Mike's Song" (J.Kravitz - insidecelebpics.com)

The entire three-part performance was like a lucid dream.  From the “Fluffhead” opener to the “Reprise Closer,” with Kuroda’s masterful light show, things seemed too amazing to be true- we were raging Phish again!  Every note of every song sounded like the first time we had heard it, and the feeling was just over the top.  Moments like “Tube,” “Gin” or “Free;” the “Antelope” jam, the drop into “Moma” out of “2001,” or the drop into the first “Mike’s” jam- these were priceless moments of euphoria.  While most of the improv remained anchored to song structures, the band slayed every single jam with no exceptions. The “Limb By Limb” was sublime, the “Hood” was a revelation, the “Bathtub” was felt like we were running through meadows- it was just the most positive experience; and to have this all happening at this point in our lives makes it so much more special.

3.7.08 (J.Kravitz)

3.7.08 (J.Kravitz- insidecelebspics.com )

And there were some amazing unstructured jams as well.  After re-listening to the “Disease,” I was as floored on my couch as I was at the show.  It’s only fitting that the biggest jam of the weekend spouted from “Disease.”  The “Ghost” is an amazing piece of collaborative work, while the “Twist” > “2001” > “Moma” was straight comic book Phish.  The “Spilt” was a piece of abstract, in your face psychedelia.  The “Rock and Roll” jumped off into some darker places, while the “Tweezer” opened the floodgates on night one with funkified soundscapes.  There is definitely a lot to dig into.

3.7.08 (S.Wlitse)

3.7.08 (S.Wlitse)

Even the hotels and community helped make the weekend as great as possible.  They could not have been more accepting of all the fans, our quirky sense of humor, and ourvarious smoking habits!  It was predicted that Hampton’s economy would get a five million dollar boost from these three days; quite a nice symbiotic relationship.  It just goes to show what can happen when people work together instead of against each other.

Coming away from this weekend, the message is loud and clear- summer tour is going to kill.  Allowing their playing to do the talking, the band told us that they are approaching this time with as much enthusiasm as we are.  With twenty demos already recorded for a new album and having played only one, you can be sure that Phish will be coming out with plenty of new material to fuse with their classics come the days of summer.  And they can’t come soon enough…

—-

Check out more of Jeff Kravitz’ work at www.insidecelebpics.com

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They’re Baaack!

Posted in Uncategorized with the tags , , on March 9th, 2009 by Mr.Miner
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"2001" 3.8.09 (P.Lucks)

As promised, I’m back with some breakdown of the third night before I give a more general overview of this weekend’s sublime and encouraging family reunion.  Over the next few weeks, I will be delving into specifics of Hampton, while also addressing some comments on this site. I will try to set the record straight as to the meaning of Hampton’09, because it seems that a few people absolutely missed it; that being said, back to night three.

The culmination of the band’s scripted weekend was another Phish marathon that completed their run through the classic Phish canon.  Beginning with “Sanity,” Trey toyed with the lyrics as a means of comedic self-reference.  Emphasizing the phrases “I lost my mind just a couple of times” and “I don’t need a place to hide,” he proclaimed his personal revival.  As the band began with a vengeance, everyone knew it would be a special night.  In the most exciting first set of the weekend, the band slaughtered more of their classic and complex compositions.  A tight return of “Foam” showed off the band’s polished chops and gave a retro glimpse into to an earlier time when they attacked their compositions with no abandon.  And, again, that time is now.

3.7.09 (P.Lucks)

3.7.09 (P.Lucks)

The ensuing “Bathtub Gin” was an emotive welcome home to all of the Phish crowd, as the soaring melodies and locked thematic jamming brought a unbridled level of pure joy and energy to the arena.  With the impending realization that Phish is as excited to be back as we were, everything seemed to click into place.  Tucked in the middle of five of the band’s most classic songs was the long awaited debut of “Undermind.” A indiscernible crunchy groove quickly morphed into the band’s title track of their last album, and was used to introduce the new Phish.  “Relocated, not retired/Reprimanded and rewired…Reinvented, Redefined…” Bringing amazing energy from the crowd, the band moved from the verses into a new dancy jam- something always welcome on Phish tour.

In the middle of the set came a furious and evil rendition of another tough composition, “My Friend, My Friend.”  This crisp version of this song sounded like 1993 when the hit every single note with zest.  Definitely one of the high points of the set, the menacing Rift classic paired up with its album-mate and led directly into a scorching “Maze.”  The band played incredibly well throughout this set, with a tightness and urgency that had been absent during loose playing of 2.0.

As the third two-hour first set wound down, the band ripped into a three song combination that brought the house down.  “Tube,” “Cars, Trucks, and Busses,” and “Free” instantly enhanced an all-out dance party into a staright up bash.  The first asteroid crash of the last five years sent an instant shot of adrenaline to the crowd, who were enthralled to be dancing so hard again.  This effect lasted throughout a standout “C, T, & B,” highlighting Page’s masterful work all weekend, and into a concise, yet bombastic “Free.”  Ending with the energetic “Frankenstein,” complete with Page on “keytar,” the band punctuated another sixteen songs and two hours of pristine Phish.

3.7.09 (P.Lucks)

3.7.09 (P.Lucks)

But when the second set got underway, Phish began to get back to business as usual.  Using clearly scripted setlists all weekend long, the band lined up a hallowed collection of Phish songs for the ideal reunion run. However, the quality of jamming, albeit tight as all get out, was mostly concise, and was structured within the framework of songs.  The surface that was scratched by night two’s “Rock and Roll” was dug into more deeply into by the twenty-two minute set-opening “Down With Disease.”  Starting by surfing the psychedelic wave of the song’s million-dollar melody, the band shredded the feel-good “composed jam” before entering into free flowing improv.  In some truly exploratory playing, the entire band took the music far away from “Disease” into a slowly moving realm where the band fused into one being.  Tapping into the their ethos, Phish created the only open-ended and extended jam of the weekend, sliding back into form with one of their classic vehicles.  Like a return to a secret cave we hadn’t visited in years, being smack dab in the middle of true Phish improv was an overwhelming feeling of soulful happiness.  Listening to the band combine their spontaneous ideas in a coherent and engaging way, the missing piece of the weekend had now been completed.

3.8.09 set I (P.Lucks)

3.8.09 set I (P.Lucks)

In a three-night Phish suite comprised of their most hallowed songs, the reunion was specifically about the Phishy vibe returning to the world.  The band and crowd were able to reconnect with the spirit and energy that defined Phish’s scene in the early to mid-‘90s.  Nostalgic, yet simultaneously forward looking, the weekend provided the community with a massive trampoline to launch our trajectory into this summer and beyond.  Phish wasn’t out to play thirty minute jams this weekend; that was clearly not the point- it was far more about the intangible aspects of the weekend that will never be heard on tape.  But with this “Disease,” the band sent the message, “Yes, we can still get as deep as ever, so watch out this summer!”  Everyone in the venue got the message loud and clear, and hopefully those listening at home did as well.  Sure, Phish could have come out and played four song sets- no question- but that was not the intention of the weekend. Instead of being focused on deep musical exploration, Hampton represented a magical celebration of Phish and their return to our everyday consciousness as well as their own.

Following their deepest excursion, the band continued into the most flowing set of the weekend with a gorgeous “Seven Below.” After the two uplifting improvisational pieces, Phish made a sublime stop in a precisely played “Horse > Silent.”  Managing to fit in nearly every classic song into their twelve hour, eighty-eight song weekend, by the time this point in the set came, one could virtually predict the that would follow- but how they would fit together was something no one could know.

img_4523

3.8.09 (P.Lucks)

The opening licks of “Twist,” one of the band biggest 2.0 vehicles, infused some more modern Phish into an old-school themed run.  Trey led the band through this jam using the dirtiest, most beautiful uncompressed tone.  As soon the jam grew out of the darkness into an alien-ambient texture, the band entered some of the most impressive music of the weekend. As the improv reached it’s deepest point, they coyly slid into the elusive “2001” that had been hinted at throughout the previous few sets.

As the beat started, The Mothership was cleared for liftoff, and we collectively blasted off into chapter three with crisp, strapping grooves that were like candy for everyone’s minds.  Taking the space-aged cover through a short and intense incarnation, the emotions flooding the moment were totally overwhelming; a cohesion of our collective consciousness.  At, arguably, the highest point of the weekend, the band made a huge drop into “Moma Dance,” all but imploding the minds of everyone in the room.  Bringing memories of the big “Black-Eyed” back in 1997, swank molasses grooves filled the room.  “Twist > 2001 > Moma”- like something out of a Phish comic book- simply unreal!

"Reba" 3.7.09 (J .Tilden)

"Reba" 3.7.09 (J .Tilden)

With their second nod to The Beatles in as many nights, Phish busted out a stirring rendition of “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” that featired a colossal Trey solo before ending their weekend with the most majestic combination possible of “Velvet Sea” and “Slave.”  Bringing a cathartic culmination to the greatest weekend of our lives, the delicate “Slave” jam whispered in our hearts of the soulful connection between, the band, the cosmos, and ourselves.  As “Reprise” closed the ecncore amidst an flurry of massive baloons, things felt amazing again.

We have finally arrived.  All weekend long, Phish reminded us why they are the greatest band on the planet. And with nothing but bright skies ahead, the world is back to the way they should be- with a happy and scorching Phish.  As summer tour is only months away, and west coast dates on the horizon, things couldn’t look better.  As any one of the 13,000 people that walked out of our sacred venue with shit-eating grins could tell you, “The magic is back.”

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MINER UPDATE: I got stuck in Newark, NJ tonight, so didn’t have access to downloads yet.  I will be putting regular tracked AUDs of the weekend up this week. Cheers, everyone! It’s ON!

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A Night of Nights

Posted in Uncategorized with the tags , , on March 8th, 2009 by Mr.Miner
"Fluffhead" Opener of 3.0 (J.Tilden)

"Fluffhead" Opener of 3.0 (J.Tilden)

What a difference a day makes.  After performing a dreamlike four-hour marathon for their return, Phish came back with a second set that has started a new “best-ever” list for 3.0.  With another four hours of “Recession Phish,” people had plenty of time to forget about their problems, as they lost their minds to the one of the most magnificent sets in memory- while pointing to the sunny pastures of summer and making plenty of people “re-assess” their plans for June.

While the second set was of another universe, the first might as well have been from the early ’90s.  The three big jams, “Split,” “Reba,” and “Antelope,” all hallmarks of Lawn Boy, highlighted the set, while other compositions of the era were strewn through it.  “Runaway Jim,” “Punch You in the Eye,” “Gumbo,”- with its original Ragtime ending supplanting a funk jam for the first time since 1997-, “Halley’s,” ‘Guelah Papyrus,” “Lawn Boy,” and “It’s Ice”- with a supremely psychedelic subterranean section of the song.  With a setlist that again boasted some of the band’s most difficult compositions, the band made a seconded their own motion that they were back and meant business.

The Mothership (J.Tilden)

The Mothership (J.Tilden)

The “Split” carried a distinctly ’94 feel, with abstract, dark improv that at times left many gazing at the stage, in awe of what they were hearing.  There wasn’t much hardcore groove going on when the jam got underway, more like psychedelic debauchery, in the piece that brought yet more 3.old school to the table.  Listening to the “Reba” fugue played so cleanly again was a thing of beauty; wrapped in the precision awaiting the plunge.  And when that plunge came, it was like diving back into a crystalline pool that had sat still for years, awaiting our arrival.  Taking the lead right away, Trey built the jam with gorgeous and deliberate licks that pushed the groove rather than let it settle.  The band was swimming in the those waters with us, channeling the energy they felt in their favorite room into their blissful groove.  The classic jam concluded with another tongue-in-cheek Phish joke as they dropped “Mexican Cousin” in place of the end of the song- mixing in a bit of new-school humor in with the old.  Everyone in the arena could see oncoming “Antelope” from a mile a way, aligning directly with the vibe of the set.  The band tore apart their classic set closer in what was easily the most ferocious improv of the first two nights- up to that point.

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"Pre-show" 3.6.09 (J.Tilden)

Setbreak took on a distinctly different character this evening- people were back in the flow of things, as the band would soon show us that they were too.  There were no nerves, only excitement at how sick everything had become.  Almost six hours of Phish in three sets-all without any long, flowing, out-of-structure jamming, it seemed like the second set was heading for something big- but how big? We had no idea.  Yet, as all enjoyed a setbreak of relative normalcy, the feel of Phish tour had returned- just like that- almost like we had never left.  Almost.  When lights dropped for frame four, people held their hats tightly, but unless they were crazy glued to their heads, those hats are now gone.

"Harry Hood" 3.6.09 (J. Tilden)

"Harry Hood" 3.6.09 (J. Tilden)

If everything up to this set reminded us of how amazing Phish could be, this set proved to be a magical slap across the face.  Reminding us of why Phish are Phish, and why we are who we are, the band unleashed a set that will undoubtedly go down in their illustrious history as the set jump-started Version 3.0.  It would be clear to all after this set that it’s on as it’s ever been for Phish- if not more.  Using the lyrically poignant “Rock and Roll” to kick off the set that certainly reminded each and every one of us of how our lives have been saved by rock n roll, Phish also worked in an obvious self-reference.  Taking the rock textures of the song far beyond, the band entered a far darker psychedelic piece of improv, signaling that the band’s jam engines had been sparked in earnest.  Taking the improv to places only the soul could describe, the band took the settled their fascinating journey in a “Limb By Limb” that as the kidz say-“Blew the fuck up.”  Bringing unbridled inspiration to the table, the band crafted a tale with other-worldy interplay, bringing the song to heights approached by few versions. Coupled with the dark jam out of “Rock n Roll” the band formed a psychedelic journey from start to finish with only two songs- and the best was yet to come.

"Tweezer" 3.6.09 (J.Tilden)

"Tweezer" 3.6.09 (J.Tilden)

Following the climactic opening portion of the set, the band decided to wake up the spirits in the rafters of Hampton using the first incarnation of “Ghost 3.0.”  In a dance odyssey turned melodic geyser, this “Ghost” redefined what a Phish jam could be for 2009.  In one of the most stunning performances of the song, Phish took us right away on another magnificent tour of their renewed improvisational dimension, and it had never looked so gorgeous.  Peaking the jam with every bit of of fervor and intensity that we have ever known from the band, Phish scratched another line on the wall of Hampton’s Green Room under the list entitled “Defining Jams Played In This Building.”  And just as the magical dust was about to fall to the floor, a small breeze swept it up and transformed into the beginning of “Piper.”  Placing the always-emotional piece of improv after such a monster jam was a decision of mastery.

As the band blew out the jam of the song with an intention that is quickly coming to characterize the new Phish, the band entered some high paced rock, eventually fusing in some distinctly other rhythms that slowly unfolded into a seamless segue into a frantic “Birds of a Feather.”  Finalizing a triumvirate that will forever read “Ghost > Piper > Birds,” Phish absolutely crushed the the jam, capping an hour-plus of divine playing.  Taking some time for everyone to revel in the musical acrobatics, the band responded to their own silence with the piano intro to “Wolfman’s Brother,” ushering in one of the funkiest jams in recent memory.  The band showered The Mothership with an array of dance grooves that kept everyone going on full-tilt, basking in the glow of IT once again.

"Suzy" 3.6.09 (J.Tilden)

"Suzy" 3.6.09 (J.Tilden)

Following the funk escapade, the band brought us on a phenomenal late-set ride through “Prince Caspian,” whose regal nature matched all the music that preceded it.  Listening to Trey take a “Caspian” solo again was, in itself, something to behold as the entire band complimented his heroics with some of their own.  As if running on Energizer batteries, instead of dropping a set closing song, the band decided to rev up the next-in-line of historic Hampton “Mike’s Grooves.”  The song and venue that were made for each other had quite a raunchy reunion as Trey tore apart the jam with a distinctly uncompressed tone that lent a beautifully evil vibe to the already dark  jam.  Annihilating the first “Mike’s” back on the scene, the entire band seemed enthralled to dig into the menacing improv once again.

(R.Phelps)

Hampton From Embassy Suites (R.Phelps)

Using the classic form of “Mike’s Groove” to re-inaugurate, “Hydrogen” felt like a breath of the freshest air flowing through the venue, linking up to an all-out “Weekapaug.”  This put a lid on what was certain to be a quasi-succinct set-ending “Groove.”  Yet, seeming like a joke, Phish dropped into what would be the set closer in earnest in “Character Zero.” Keeping the entire arena raging for the completion of almost the eighth hour of Phish in two days, the venue swayed as one organism to the currents of the Phish.

Having to play one more song for an encore, the band couldn’t have made a classier choice than The Beatles’ “A Day In the Life.”  Putting the cap on evening of psychedelic sorcery with a nod to the sonic, and mind, experimentation of the original Fab Four, Phish showed, yet again, why they are the greatest band on the planet.

3.6.09 (M.Hutchinson)

3.6.09 (M.Hutchinson)

With playing that flowed organically, the band scripted a piece of Hampton history last night, while giving us glimpse not only into ourselves, but into a new world of musical possibility.  Reestablishing what Phish is truly all about, the band stepped to the plate in the second set and hit a towering shot, reminding us of why we all spent some part of the ’90s doing nothing but following Phish.  In a building synonymous with the band, Phish awakened the spirits of lore with a set that will not soon be forgotten.  Reacquainting themselves with IT on only their second show back, the course is now set for a sparkling summer of musical mayhem.  Home at last; and it feels so good.

***

In what was a touching side note to the show, Phish debuted Page’s song “Beauty of a Broken Heart.”  This is a song he wrote for his 2007 solo album, about the break-up of Phish. And with an obvious meaning to the band, it seems that this song may be Page’s first solo contribution to the catalog. (Thanks Lanser!)

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NO SPOILERS UPDATE

(M. Hutchinson)

(M. Hutchinson)

Everything went smooth for No Spoliers night two, I believe we got both sets up faster, and there were no hitches whatsoever.  I hope you enjoyed them for the second go-round, and stay tuned for night three!

Thanks a million to the No Spoilers crew, making this all happen!

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Like A Dream

Posted in Uncategorized with the tags , , on March 7th, 2009 by Mr.Miner
"Grind" (R.Layne)

"Grind" (R.Layne)

So much for warming up.  In one of the most surreal evenings in history, Phish came shooting back into our lives at a million miles per hour.  Transcending anyone’s wildest imagination, the band leapt to life with a a sacred party that was a virtual antithesis of their their previous comeback in 2002. Words could never quite express the myriad emotions and feelings that painted the masterpiece that was last night, but one can only attempt.  Clearly practiced and coming out to prove so, the band played a show that exceeded any possible expectations from anyone in attendance.  A showcase of their intention, the band ran through sixteen first-set songs in most impressive fashion, proving a two-hour welcome home soundtrack.  Tackling expectations right out of the gate, Phish came out and slaughtered “Fluffhead” in a statement that conveyed not only enthusiasm and preparedness, but a reconnection to the spirit of old-school Phish.  In what was certainly one of the most dreamlike moments in the band’s history, the entire crowd was whisked away within two notes.  After ignoring the “Fluffhead” for the entire 2.0 period, opening the next phase of their career with the song couldn’t have meant more.  And if that statement wasn’t enough, they came right back with another one of their most difficult and cathartic songs in “Divided Sky.” Every selection throughout the extensive two hour set was played precisely and emphatically, but it wasn’t until “Stash” that the band took their first dive into improvisational territory. In a jam that slid into play under the watchful command of Mike and Page, the band created a contoured passage that moved from dark psychedelia through several minutes of bliss, and back into an exciting peak of the song.

3.6.09 (B.Lee)

3.6.09 (B.Lee)

The entire night felt like an out-of-body experience, as if we were watching something out of a dream- and it couldn’t have been more real.  Every song played with precision and emotion, the band took a ride through many early ’90s  classics before landing in “David Bowie” to end the set.  With a concise, yet ripping version, Phish punctuated a marathon return. At set break the overwhelming feeling was that of awe. People spent the entire time catching their breaths, legs, and minds from the inconceivable. Almost unable to think, and absolutely speechless, many basked in the feeling that had been absent for so long, and came back into our lives like an anvil. Catching me off guard, the lights were all of a sudden out again, but everything seemed a little bit more normal this time through.

As the band stood on the precipice of their first second set, they decided to bring a taste of what is to come with the first new Phish song, “Backwards Down the Number Line.” Staying within the template of the song played on Trey tour, the band busted out what is sure to be a huge new jam, and a song whose lyrics couldn’t be more appropriate for the occasion.  The new quickly merged with the old as the playful song poured into the opening of “Tweezer.” The first licks of the haloed song brought everything back again. Like a shaft of light poured into The Mothership, every note sounded better than the next as the band set up their first dive into off of their deepest platform. With intricate and massive dance grooves that brought echoes of the raunchiest funk of yesteryear from the rafters of the Coliseum, the band doused us with some of the best feelings that any of us had felt in years. The path of the jam turned from an experiment in excessively gooey funk into some stunning improv from the band that reminded each and every one of us why we love being alive. Bringing the jam to a plane of majesty, Phish took their time building down from this phenomenal section of jamming and settling to the melodies of “Taste,” completing the connection of the symbiotic pieces.

3.6.09 (B.Lee)

3.6.09 (B.Lee)

Channeling every bit of emotion into a soaring “Tatse,” the band crafted one of the most intricate and exclamatory jams of the night. Collectively killing the polyrhythmic improv, the band was off and running into the next phase of their lives with all the intensity and potency possible.  Yet, the most sublime moment of the show came after Phish had blasted their way through one of the most energetic “Possums” in recent memory, taken a blissful sail on the oceans of “Theme,” and shredded a “First Tube” to bits, when they dropped into “Harry Hood.” Like a rebirth for all of us, as individuals and as a community, the unveiling the epic piece crystallized the entire evening with a tidal wave of emotion and amazingly interlocked improvisation. If this entire experience wasn’t overwhelming enough, Kuroda broke out a disco ball effect during the climactic jam creating a blissful mash-up of aural and visual pleasure.  The sheer power of “Harry Hood” showered us tonight, as its revelation was an reminding affirmation of all that is beautiful out life; this was the ultimate.

3.6.09 (R. Layne)

3.6.09 (R. Layne)

In a quintessential moment of reflection, Phish spun a gorgeous, seemingly set-ending “Waste,” allowing us to think about the flood of magnificence we that had absolutely washed us under. But they weren’t quite over.  As if springing from some fantasy setlist, the band dropped right into the beginning of “YEM.”  Making fun of their last, not-so-hot, comeback shows at Hampton, the band intentionally botched the opening much like did circa ’03.  Yet after their joke, the band restarted the opus with ferocity, and delivered us to the promised land ,while providing the most up tempo dance music of the night.

A welcomed “Bouncin’” encore, saw the large balls that had decorated the top of The Mothership drop and begin to- in fact- bounce around the room! What seemed set up for a classic “Bouncin,” “Reprise” encore was diverted into a celebratory romp through “Loving Cup” to the delight of all. Bringing the heat far more than anyone could of imagined, the entire experience was like being shot directly back into the middle of a raging Phish with no time to acclimate to the surroundings. Thinking of the future is now dizzying, let alone tonight!  Taking the music deeper and deeper as the show moved on, one can only imagine what they have in store for the next two. We are living the dream, folks- welcome home.

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NO SPOILERS UPDATE

WE ARE SET FOR TONIGHT!!

hampton_outsideThe first No Spoilers is in the bag!  Set one was up at 1:30 am, 90 minutes after the show ended, and set two followed two and a half hours later, at 4 am (mind you the show ended around 12:30.)  Thanks if you participated – we hope you enjoyed them! We learned some lessons – the main one being that decent bandwidth (in The Mothership and in nearby hotels) is very hard to come by in Hampton!  We’ll try have it go a little faster for Saturday night.

Big thanks to:
Jamie L aka Jerryfreak (for crazy service way above and beyond the call of duty Friday night)
Jesse H
Mark H

The crew that brought you set 2:
Dave F
Scott G
BAustin
Greg L.
Mikey K.
Carrington C.
Matthew
Rick
Elliot
Oliver
Foxy
Steve F.
Tara
Jim P.
Jenny
Jerryfreak

And all the other tapers at the show.

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Reuniting and Restarting

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

phishisbackAs we approach tomorrow with utmost anticipation, there is more coming back into focus than just simply the music-the Phish community is reuniting for the first time since 2004.  These shows will serve as a family reunion, a funked-out fashion show, and carry the optimism and excitement of the first day of school.  We are all standing at our own bus stops, waiting for the big yellow vehicle to whisk us off to a new place.  Those butterflies and that unpredictability that we felt heading into elementary school are very present as we re-enter the school of Phish.

13699471image9b586be0479711d7As the scene descends on Hampton and its surrounding area, crews are reuniting, old friends are in touch via text, email and phone for the first time in years, and we will all surely bump into folks we haven’t seen since the muddy bog of Coventry.  As the saying goes- “The gang is back together”- and it’s never been so sweet!  The reunion will  go beyond simply the people in each crew, but will extend to the acquaintances that everyone made on tour.  Maybe not the people you hung with until 6 am every night, but the people you raged shows and shared moments with- faces and names you thought you might never need to recall are back in play- so dig deep in the recesses of your memory for the identities of these parallel travelers!  As the R & B song goes, “Reunited and it feels so good.”

3328702513_05e64f24faIn addition the reunion aspect of this weekend, the shows are shrouded in mystery.  Similar to the first day of first grade- this spectacle holds all the wonder in the world.  For school the questions were, “What would your teacher be like?”  “How would the other kids be; would they be nice?”  “How would you be treated?”  You always picked out a special outfit- or maybe your parents did- to sport on this special occasion- and Hampton is not all that different.  Fans will be funked out to the nines to celebrate the return of our dreams, and that unknown excitement and wonder we will feel walking through the threshold of The Mothership won’t be so dissimilar from the swirling emotions that flooded our little  heads as we proudly carried our new lunchbox into the classroom for the first time.  What will “the teacher” be like?  How will all the new kids be?  What will it be like?  The dynamic is similar- though I’m not so sure any of us felt quite like this before any school year!  This beginning of 3.0 puts us all on a level playing field, each with our own new lunchbox, starting the same grade together.

(J.Pinsky)

photo- (J.Pinsky)

As our family and friends come back to the source of our undying Utopian vision, there is a revitalized energy in each and every one of us, that when combined will reach epic proportions.  Our creativity and expression are part and parcel of who we are, and when so much palpable spirit is contained in one round room, the possibilities become limitless- beyond Phish, beyond ourselves, into something far greater.  Who knows what will happen?  And that mystery is so much of the fun!

Before long, we will be discussing how the first show was instead of wondering ad infinitum what will happen.  The anticipation has grown to the point of bursting, and it’s just about time to pop that bubble.  Tomorrow, we will have answers.  Tomorrow, we start anew.  Tomorrow the stars will realign and the universe will subtly shift back into order.  Tomorrow…

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HAMPTON UPDATE:

What looked to be a mini-Mothership was yesterday found to be a “Welcome” sign in front of the venue, with it likely being part of a security “corral” allowing people to enter in an orderly fashion and prevent gate crashing.  I’ve heard there may be hired outside security guards rather than the usual Hampton employees as well- we shall see.  According to reports from people in Hampton already, there is a significantly increased police presence in the surrounding area, so be safe people!  In unrelated news, I read here that Phish are trying to crack down on the sale of bootleg merchandise in the lot, a staple of years past. Interesting developments. In more interesting news, check out this New York Times article about their rehearsals, the best jam in five years, and how they are planning to be around a while !  All Hampton Photos by Meaty.

photo - (Meaty)

3328704173_e5fe832b90



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DOWNLOAD OF THE DAY:

11.4.94 Onondaga War Memorial, Syracuse NY < LINK

11.4.94 Onondaga War Memorial, Syracuse NY < TORRENT LINK

photo - (J.Kremin)

photo - (J.Kremin)

Here we have another treat from November ’94.  As Phish geared up for the last month of a phenomenal tour, they pulled into their extended home turf in Syracuse, NY.  This second set is a winner with a monster “Mike’s Groove” and capped with a “Slave.”  The first set provides a visit to Gamehendge via “Forbin’s > Mockingbird” and an oddly-placed, yet well-played mid-set “Bowie.”

I: Sample in a Jar, It’s Ice,  Bouncing Around the Room, David Bowie, Colonel Forbin’s Ascent > Famous Mockingbird, Scent of A Mule, Suzy Greenberg, Chalk Dust Torture

II: The Curtain > Mike’s Song > Simple > Mike’s Song > Tela > Weekapaug Groove, Ya Mar, Golgi Apparatus,  Slave to the Traffic Light

E: Loving Cup, Rocky Top

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Hampton Travel Tunes

Posted in Uncategorized with the tags , , on March 4th, 2009 by Mr.Miner

13863608image26fd88404d0911d7With nothing but Hampton on my mind, its has been hard to focus from moment to moment over the past twenty-four hours. For today’s post, I figured I’d put together a little five-hour compilation to serve as an audio companion on your travels to southeastern Virginia.  Five hours should cover any domestic flight heading to Norfolk or Newport News, and should cover most people’s drives.  Enjoy the older jams, because soon there will be a lot of new material to focus on!  Below are the tracks with a little blurb about each, and make sure to check out the goings on down at the coliseum below!

For those not going to Hampton, sit tight and enjoy the tunes.  The No Spoilers Downloads are set up, and I’ll have a recap posted each morning.  The summer is right around the corner- remember “we’re all in this together.”

***

“The Curtain > YEM” 11.27.97, Worcester, MA SBD

2031I had to kick off the compilation with this slammin’ Worcester opener from ’97, largely because it’s been a popular call to kick off this weekend!  This ’97 incarnation also started a three-night stand of lore, and the “YEM” is pure heat with a distinct “Crosseyed” jam that follows up the initial grooves.

“Stash” 11.13.97, Thomas & Mack, Las Vegas, NV

This was the first big jam of Fall ’97 and it gets lost due to the many all-time greats that were strewn throughout this tour.  Opening the second set, this psychedelic trek spanned the spectrum of Phish from evil and ambient to blissful and melodic.  This is a true monster that reaches the depths uncharted.

“Reba” 12.11.95, Cumberland Co. Civic Center, Portland ME

This first set version carries a quick pace through the composed section and then plunges into the sparkling lagoon that is the “Reba” jam.  Trey and Mike worked symbiotically throughout this section of improv, as Phish sported their polished armor of December ’95.

“Bathtub Gin” 7.8.98, Zeleste, Barcelona SBD

The “Gin” was the second song of the Barcelona stand during Europe ’98.  Amidst a fortnight of standout Phish, this “Gin” brought the fans on tour to a cathartic peak with its cascading melodies and extended improv.  This is one of the more triumphant renditions out there as the whole band was fully engaged, embarking on their final European stand.

“Runaway Jim > Free” 7.18.99 Oswego, NY

img_0329Taking the road less traveled, this “Jim” careened off into a funk escapade that fit the summer afternoon just right.  Following the long passage of dance grooves, Phish segued perfectly into a thick, festival-sized “Free.”  This was one of the certain highlights of the weekend.

“Tweezer” 6.14.95, Mud Island Amp, Memphis, TN

In the middle of the Summer ’95, the most psychedelic and out-there music Phish ever played, they were dropping massive, dark, abstract jams nightly; this “Tweezer” was one of them.  Clocking in at fifty minutes, this is one of the most experimental “Tweezers” ever played, and in my opinion, one of best. The band works through an entire jam, and then essentially restarts the improv with the original melody.  If you’re driving to Hampton locally, this “Tweezer” is all you’ll need!

“Slave to the Traffic Light” 10.6.95 , The Orpheum, Vancouver, BC

This early-Fall ’95 “Slave” builds amazingly patiently, oozing the spirit of the great northwest.  Fishman gets quite creative behind the kit as he backs the mid-tempo flow of his mates, giving this “Slave” a unique feel and pushing the band’s further.  Trey finally takes center stage and brings this set closer to the top.

“Down With Disease” 6.15.00, Big Cat, Osaka, JP

136995091A dark-horse selection due to all the great music than came from the Far East in 2000, this “Disease” has always been a personal favorite.  The jam moves through the “Disease” section, a “Crosseyed-esque” section, into some demented and very different territory.  A cross between Phish-tronica and an eerie theme to a spooky nightmare, this jam reached places that the band had never gotten to before.

“Antelope” 8.12.1996, Deer Creek, Noblesville, IN

Deer Creek and “Antelopes” just go together.  Maybe it’s a play off the venue’s name, or maybe it’s not, but the band always seems to drop heavy “Antelopes” in the cornfields.  This 1996 version was a centerpiece of the second set on this first night of two.  The band communicated proficiently throughout this jam, building on each other’s musical phrases and ideas.  This blistering version was one of the highlights of the summer, let alone the weekend.

“Harry Hood > Suzy Greenberg” 11.16.96, Omaha, NE

hw51The Omaha “Hood.”  One of the most intense pieces of music that emerged from Fall ’96, this version came in the middle of a bizarre second set following “Kung” w/ The Vibration  of Life > “Catapult” >  a darker than usual “Axilla.”  This is an insane “Hood” where the band is glued together, moving at a mile a minute, when Trey hits a note and holds it- for three straight minutes!- and the band completely annihilates the jam beneath him.  Some of the most dramatic Phish in history, this one is a keeper.  The energy crashes into the ever-playful “Suzy Greenberg.”

“Mike’s > H2 > Weekapaug” 11.22.97, Hampton, VA

No compilation made for Hampton would be complete without a little music from the Phish mecca.  This colossal opening “Mike’s Groove” opened the defining night of the venue’s history.  Boasting a thick funk jam, with foreshadows of “Black-Eyed Katy”, this Mike’s took a rhythmic journey before descending into the fiery pits.  The Weekapaug jam is just as creative, and when all was said and done, this was only the beginning.

“2001” 8.16.98, The Lemonwheel, Limestone, ME

This massive version brought down the proverbial house as the improvisational focus of an otherwise thin last set to the ‘Wheel.  This twenty-minute jaunt showcased the chunky, bass-heavy grooves that dominated Summer ’98.  Following up the Great Went’s monster, this version illustrated how tight the band had grown in just one year.

DOWNLOAD MINER’S PICKS : TRAVEL TUNES < LINK

DOWNLOAD MINER’S PICKS : TRAVEL TUNES < TORRENT LINK

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HAMPTON UPDATE: A MINI MOTHERSHIP!

img_4143

Mini-Mothership in the Making 3.3.09

Forgive the tabloid nature of this report, but things are happening down at Hampton.  Not only has the band been sighted, but the band’s artistic director, Russ Bennett, who was integral in the design and layout of all their festivals, is on the scene.   It seems that the band is adding some extra flair to their comeback weekend, creating a mini art installation of The Mothership in front of img_4143the venue, as well as some other pieces!  Bennett, and those ubiquitous red trucks, were spotted at Lowe’s yesterday, before a mini-coliseum began to take shape in the afternoon.  One report from Phish Thoughts reader, Clay, cited a worker who said it be a part of a “holding area” to prevent gate crashing, while people enter the venue a certain number at a time.  Who knows what else might sprout up, as the band seems to be going out of their way to make this weekend more than your normal Phish experience!  Hampton Festival ’09, anyone?  The weather is supposed to range from the mid to upper 60’s.  Two more days!! Photos thanks to bailedwiththehay

Phish's Truck

Phish's Truck @ Lowe's (3.3)

Rob Bennett @ Lowes (3.3)

Russ Bennett @ Lowe's (3.3)

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INSTANT SETLIST UPDATES: FOLLOW “mrminer” on TWITTER!

twitterIf you’re not holding out for the No Spoilers thing, which you obviously should, follow “mrminer” on Twitter for instant setlist updates throughout the weekend!!  One way or another, Phish Thoughts has you covered!  Thanks to Cason Gaither for the help! You can also follow all Phish related Tweets- find out how here!

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DOWNLOAD OF THE DAY:

10.2.99 Target Center, Minneapolis, MN < LINK

10.2.99 Target Center, Minneapolis, MN <  TORRENT LINK

Target Center, Minneapolis, MN

Target Center, Minneapolis, MN

This one comes as an “instant reader request,” as it was only asked for yesterday.  Ask, and ye shall receive. (And if I forget, ask again!) This is one of the standout shows of Fall ’99, boasting a second set of pure improvisation.  The “Tweezer” and the “Piper” are particularly good.  The first set carried some favorites as well, as “Quinn the Eskimo” popped up as well as a “Split” and a “Wolfman’s,” following the always-welcomed “Llama” opener.

I:  Llama, Wolfman’s Brother, Punch You in the Eye, Quinn the Eskimo, Poor Heart, Roggae, Split Open and Melt, The Squirming Coil > Loving Cup

II: Tweezer > On Your Way Down, Piper, You Enjoy Myself > Frankenstein, Waste

E: While My Guitar Gently Weeps, Tweezer Reprise

Source: unknown

Tags: , ,

Why Isn’t It Friday Today?

Posted in Uncategorized with the tags , on March 3rd, 2009 by Mr.Miner

As I sit at my computer, deciding on what to write, historical retrospectives seem almost pointless, because the future is now.  Three days are left until the morning of a new era in our lives, and the anticipatory excitement is completely overwhelming.  The pre-show butterflies have taken flight early this time around, leaving an extra-special, week-long bundle of wonderment and nerves in our stomachs.  With only the formality of a 72 hour of waiting period, the time is finally upon us.

2904046075_1258b89024What began with a Flash video in the wee hours of October 1st has snowballed in hype, energy and enthusiasm, and will finally come to fruition this Friday, in one of the most anticipated concerts in rock and roll history.  As I’ve previously posited, we are witnessing the course- correcting nature of the universe; the powers of fate and destiny flexing their cosmic muscle.  While many fans have posed theories to explain Phish resurrection, my overwhelming response has been- “Does it really matter?”  While the reasons for their return may be manifold, once Phish steps onto a stage together, look at each other and their surroundings, the ultimate reason will be clear- this was meant to be.

512266015_0d99142fbdSay what you will about financial need, ego stroking, and the allure of their former super-stardom- this is part of the master plan- our own spiritual stimulus package, for the band as well.  I’ve always held that if these four guys are alive and playing music, they should always be doing it together- the “hows” and the “whys” become relative.  Once those lights drop, a moment that still seems elusive, that indescribable feeling will return.  And regardless of whether you have been to 300 shows or zero, that feeling will be different this time around- it will be composed of not just adrenaline and excitement, but a rejoicing in the fact that the portal to our mystical world has once again reopened- like the Colonel’s door to Gamehendge.  It seemed like that vibrant world would be closed forever- restricted by yellow caution tape like the scene of a horrendous train wreck- as we were forced into a Phishless existence with no indication that things would ever change.

2926669927_05d2937afaBut then, years later, events began to occur; seemingly random events that have pushed us back to the brink.  Trey went down and then rose again.  Mike wrote an album, started a band, and toured, illustrating his strong desire to still create; after some solo work, Page began popping up for guest sit-ins; members of Phish appeared together at the Rothbury Festival- and then the rumors started.  Trey played a comeback show in Brooklyn, debuting a slew of new material that seemed far too lush and complex for his solo band, then hit the road for two weeks following the announcement.  All of these disparate happenings were stones in the path that has ultimately led us to now.

In the end, the journey that has led us to here is largely irrelevant- what is far more important is that we have arrived.  The past is behind us as lasting memories, with the future lying ahead as dreams unwritten.  If we can make it through these next three days without imploding, our collective destiny awaits.  The importance of the past has fallen away, while the seemingly bright future remains eternally unpredictable, thus leaving us with now- the only time that holds true power.  Bask in this moment, for it will never come again, and its power is immeasurable.  With so many people’s collective energies, hopes, and dreams converging this Friday, we will be launched into the next chapter of our lives, with Phish back to provide the soundtrack.

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THEY’RE GETTING READY!

img4114

Hampton Coliseum - 3.2.09

Phish Thought’s roving Phantasy Tour correspondent, Chris Stearns, who wades through the nonsense to find the goods, passed along some pictures that were taken and posted yesterday (3/2) of the snowy coliseum and Phish’s buses unloading in the lot.  The trucks are from a company called Upstaging.  Upstaging is the #1 tour trucking company

Phish's Buses @ Hampton - 3.2.09

Phish's Buses @ Hampton - 3.2.09

in the industry, and Phish has used them since at least 1997.  All Upstaging trucks are red. The band, apparently, has The Mothership booked all week to do full rehearsals with lights and their new sound guy, dialing everything in for this weekend.  They’re waiting!

(Thanks to PTers ScentOfAMelt and sanberdino for the reports!  Thanks to A. Bollinger for pics!)

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PHANART: The Art Of The Fans Of Phish

bhm_0057A coffee table book featuring art inspired by Phish has hit recently hit the market.  In the words of project overseer, Pete Mason, “There was a culture and community established at Phish shows that really reflected the positive emotion inspired by the band and we wanted to capture that, through the art, before it was lost forever. I think this book does just that.”  The 400+ page book features more than 1600 pieces of art and over 40 essays, all created by fans of Phish, as well as numerous fan memories and stories collected over the bands 21-year existence. With a purchase price of $59.95, all net-profits from the sale of Phanart will benefit The Mockingbird Foundation, a non-profit organization created by Phish fans to support music education. For more details, or to purchase a copy of the book visit www.phanart.net.

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DOWNLOAD OF THE DAY:

2.26.97 Longhorn, Stuttgart, GR < LINK

2.26.97 Longhorn, Stuttgart, GR < TORRENT LINK

phish-milan-97

Milan 2/97 Poster

This one comes as a special reader request that was supposed to go up on the anniversary a few days ago.  Alas, better late than never!  This Stuttgart show came towards the end of the band’s Winter ’97 Europe run, and is widely known for its second-set centerpiece version of “YEM.”  But the show offered quite a bit more! A very interesting first set featured bust outs of “Camel Walk,” “My Friend,” “Tube,” and “Dog Log,” while integrating the new tunes of “Carini” (then known as “Lucy”) and “Rocko William.”  Not to mention a soaring fourth song “Hood!”  An adventurous “Scent of a Mule” gave way to a proper set-ending “Slave.”  This escapade in Germany was among the most well-loved gems of this early ’97 run, but is often overshadowed by Amsterdam and Hamburg.  Check it out!

I: Camel Walk, Llama, My Friend My Friend, Harry Hood, My Soul, Tube, Carini, Rocko William, Dog Log, While My Guitar Gently Weeps

II: Buried Alive > Poor Heart, Ha Ha Ha, You Enjoy Myself > Kung > Theme From the Bottom, Scent of a Mule > Jazz Jam* > Magilla# > Scent of a Mule, Slave to the Traffic Light

E: Highway to Hell

*Trey’s part of the Muel Duel. #Page’s part of the Muel Duel.

Tags: ,

The Hampton Opener?

Posted in Uncategorized with the tags , , on February 13th, 2009 by Mr.Miner

508665625_591543fa33With 21 days to go until Hampton’s three-day reunion bash, few fans can stop speculating about what song the band will open up the third chapter of their career with.  Speculation has been running rampant daily on Phish Thoughts’ comment threads and Internet message boards all over, so I figured that we would dedicate this Friday to the question fans have been tossing around for almost five months now- “What will they open with?!”

Always a fun topic to discuss, even for a regular show, the reasoning used to support current theories are far more detailed and thought out for this comeback show.  Everyone has different opinions on what Phish will start with because everyone has different opinions on what message they will be trying to send.  What will they welcome us home with?  In the most highly anticipated show of the band’s career, the opener will be used to not only set the tone for the run, but for all of Phish 3.0.  Let’s explore some of the possibilities and reasonings for some potential tour openers. (Revised and updated from October.)

507814199_b5715078861. You Enjoy Myself: The magnificent opus that has long defined the band is one obvious choice for the opener; getting back to where it all began right off the bat.  “YEM” has always been Phish’s quintessential song, merging precise composition, loose improvisation, and silly lyrics.  Earlier this summer, Trey said he would give his left nut to play “YEM” five times in a row every day until he dies, however, odds are they will only play it once.  A “YEM” opener would signify the enthusiasm of the band to return to glory, and would get Hampton bumping in no time.  Usually reserved for the end of a set, “You Enjoy Myself” would be a perfect reentry into Phish’s kingdom.

2. Down With Disease: We all know how much the band loves to break out this song in big situations, and there has never been a Phish situation bigger than the one at hand.  “Disease” has to be a strong candidate for the first song out of the gates.  Lyrically symbolic of leaving their troubled times behind them, Phish will “be on their way” to becoming a dominant musical force and the inspiration for so many fans again.  The lyric, “Trying to stop these demons that keep dancing in my head,” delivers the message of redemption and a focus on the future and not the past.  The future is what 3.0 is about after all- letting bygones be bygones and moving forward.  In addition, “Disease” contains plenty of time for the crowd to let out minutes of deafening roars before launching into the jam.  This seems like strong candidate.

Hampton (C. Clark)

Hampton (C.Clark)

3. Chalk Dust Torture: One of the most frequently played songs in the band’s career, and a clear favorite of Trey’s, this song could be used to open the run and whip the crowd into an immediate frenzy.  A common set opener, this is another likely candidate.  Lyrically fitting, the reprise of, “Can’t I live while I’m young?” still has profound meaning for Phish and their aging fan base, and it would be a poignant message to deliver right away.  If the band wants to start back with some straight rock and roll, you can be sure that “Chalk Dust” will be leading off.

4. Tube: If Phish wants to use Pulp Fiction’s technique of giving us an adrenaline shot directly to the heart, they will choose “Tube.”  Can you imagine if the lights went out, they stepped on stage, and an asteroid crashed?!  The place might just pop- the energy would be straight up, unfathomable.  This would be the opener in a crazy dream you might have, but it could happen- this is Hampton after all.

507864448_9be89ae1455. Punch You In the Eye / Wilson: Either “Punch” or “Wilson” would serve as a rowdy Gamhendge supercharge right from the get go.  Both of these songs would bring forth amazing energy and get the crowd re-situated in Phishland very quickly.  With nothing too improvised, these songs would, nonetheless, get Hampton sweating and bouncing in no time at all, complete with audience participation.

6. Mike’s: If Phish were to come out to the opening licks of  “Mike’s”- forget about it.  We would witness the immediate implosion of the venue and surrounding Hampton area.  This would be the ultimate statement that “We are back, and we mean business.”  Hampton “Mike’s Songs” were a staple of Phish’s previous life, and this would be the perfect time to drop the sixth one ever.  Imagine if three minutes into Phish 3.0 we plunged into a 511197412_b46c4bbe11militant “Mike’s” jam!?  Whew!  Just the thought of it makes my heart pound faster.  A “Mike’s” would catapult us back into the thick of things with little time to mentally or physically warm up for the madness.  This would be a dream come true- a Hampton”Mike’s” straight away.  This would be incredibly powerful.

7. Get Back On the Train: If this song were selected, it would obviously be a lyrical choice that would reflect the band’s personal battles they have overcome to reach the stage together once again.  Although the lyrics fit the situation, this would be an incredibly underwhelming choice for Hampton’s opener.  An average song at best, this one wouldn’t have the same musical effect as other choices.  But who knows, Phish could open with this and drop right into YEM, something not so far fetched.  Although there would be legitimate meaning here, I think the opener will be a bit bigger.

8. Undermind: This song, the title track of Phish’s last album, was never played in 2004.  Busted out by Trey’s solo band a couple of times years ago, this song would be a perfect musical and lyrical fit to open up the rest of time.

Relocated, not retired
Reprimanded and rewired

Mystified and mishapen
Misinformed, but not mistaken

Reinvented, redefined
Rearranged, but not refined

These spot on lyrics, infectious melodies, and chunky grooves could be the ideal opener.  Familiar, yet never played, it would represent Phish bridging their past with a new sure-to-be crowd favorite.  This could be the perfect way to start- with a new jam we have never heard.

Andy

Coventry

9. The Curtain (With): This would seem like the natural choice to lead off with since they closed Coventry with a horribly botched version of their hallowed classic.  Beginning in the wrong key, the band had to stop and take it from the top for their their last song ever.  It was sad.  But now there is a chance to right the wrong of Coventry, and they could very well choose to symmetrically open up their next chapter by nailing the gorgeous composition which leads into an uplifting jam.  It would give a nod to the fact that Coventry was not the way it was supposed to end, and that Phish is back to do things the right way again.  Used as a launching pad into a larger jam vehicle, they could use a “Curtain (With) > YEM” combo to open the show in incredibly Phishy fashion.  “Curtain” could also be paired with a lot of other songs to initiate the party.  “Curtain > Tweezer,” anyone?

508844243_dbfa6d4e5c10. A New Song: It is very possible, since Phish will evolve into a different monster, that they will come out with something we’ve never heard before. With all the new material Trey and Tom have been writing, it would be a very Phishy move to ignore the obvious classic choices and welcome people to the future with a song that nobody has heard.  It would send the message, “We are back, and don’t expect us to be the same.”

Matured with a greater perspective, the band could come out and drop something that reflects their renewal- a proposition that seems very inviting.  Phish will be different, that is for sure; so we might as well start off on a new foot.  While I think “Backwards Down the Number Line” will open up a second set during the three night run, it could be what they come out of the gates with.

hampton0The first notes that emanate from the stage at Hampton will spark joy and jubilation in the minds of thousands, and it could take so many different routes.  These are merely some of the possibilities I have conjured up, and I am sure there are more legitimate guesses out there.  They could always open up with “Runaway Jim,” like most every other show in history- who knows?  What do you think?  One of these?  Something different?  Respond in comments and let’s hear what you think!
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DOWNLOAD OF THE DAY:
12.17.95 Olympic Center, Lake Placid, NY < LINK

Olympic Center, Lake Placid, NY

Olympic Center, Lake Placid, NY

This is the final show of the marathon 54-gig run of Fall ’95. Well-oiled and firing on all cylinders, Phish would conclude their epic journey with two standout shows in the intimate upstate New York venue.  I’d run through highlights, but the setlist speaks for itself.

I: My Friend My Friend, Poor Heart, A Day in the Life, Run Like an Antelope, The Mango Song, Tube, Stash, Lizards, Chalk Dust Torture

II: Bouncing Around the Room, Maze, Free, Also Sprach Zarathustra > Harry Hood, Sparkle, Tweezer > Tweezer Reprise

E: Hello My Baby, Runaway Jim

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The Comeback…Again

Posted in Uncategorized with the tags , , on October 7th, 2008 by Mr.Miner

So Phish is coming back…again.  I can’t seem to think about much else these days.  Sitting already with fluttering anticipation of the Hampton shows, I can’t help but think back to New Years Eve 2002-2003 at MSG- the first comeback, and subsequent Hampton run.  The occasion could not have been bigger- Phish’s comeback in the Garden- the thought of it was almost too intimidating.  Yet, while Phish wound up having a wonderfully adventurous 2003, closing in sunny style with four standout shows in Miami, the beginning was not as hot.  The band, obviously as anxious as we all were, played a very “safe” comeback show, and proceeded to produce very little in Hampton that held up to our memories.  Lasting only a year and a half in their return, maybe the band jumped the gun- who knows?  2009’s return, four and a half years later, has a distinctly different feel to it; the band seems to have faced the personal demons that were eating away at their fun and cohesion, and dealt with them.  How long will it last- nobody knows, “the only rule is it begins.”

Jeremy

12.31.02 MSG - photo: Jeremy

Yet, let’s hope this third beginning is musically stronger than their second beginning, even if for the sake of hype and impossible tickets.  When the band returned to MSG in 2002, with no less hype, and not much easier of a ticket, they seemed tentative, unwilling to take any real musical risks.  For a band that made a career on musical risk-taking, this stark difference over the inverted New Year’s Run was palpable.  Returning with a Piper that most people heard only half of, due to the extended roar of the maddened crowd, the band opened with one of the few real jams of the evening.  The rest of first comeback set stayed very conservative, with a short set ending Bowie being the only other jam vehicle taken off the shelf.

The second set back brought slightly more adventure.  Beginning with an enchanting new song, “Waves,” whose composition and structured jam was a beautiful preview of Phish 2.0, the set moved into Divided Sky, juxtaposing the new and the old with a united theme of nature’s spirituality.  A Carini kindled memories of the colossal MSG odyssey of 12.28.98, and a late set Hood brought back the uplifting, albeit brief, improvisation of Phish- but it was really the only jam of the set.

12.31.02 MSG

12.31.02 MSG

The third set of the show brought out the best Phish of the night, as they used the debut of “Seven Below,” complete with a surreal indoor snowstorm to bring us into the new year.  On cue, the band busted into Runaway Jim as the post-Auld Lang Syne song, featuring the most interesting jam of the night as the percussive and groovy jam segued smoothly and unexpectedly into the lyrically appropriate Little Feat cover, “Time Loves A Hero.”  A solid Taste followed, before the set ended with the poignant debut of “Walls of the Cave,” within close proximity to the song’s allegorical subject of the Twin Towers.  Walls also brought some new improvisation into the mix, capping the show with one of its highlights.  A  Velvet Sea encore thematically fit the end of this emotional evening.

It was great to have Phish back- it was better than great- and Hampton was sure to blow up!  The first night was bound to be a bit tentative we convinced ourselves- wait till they get to Hampton with no pressure on them.  Well, we all got to Hampton, and the shows were no more adventurous than the one up north.  Playing it very safe, it was almost unfathomable that a Phish three-night run at Hampton could produce so few memorable jams.  In fact, thinking quickly off the top of my head, I remember the second set of the first night, with the unique 46 Days jam, My Friend, Thunderhead and Antelope, and that’s about it.  When I go back and look at the setlists, they played most of their big songs- Tweezer, YEM, Mike’s, Split, Disease, Twist, Free, and more.  The Wolfman’s was arena rock fun, and they ended the last show with 2001, but it didn’t feel the same.  I distinctly remember listening to these after the shows, as they were the first livePhish soundboard releases.  They sounded clean, but they confirmed what I had thought at the shows. There was nothing to write home about- no fire, no adventure, no explosiveness, and very little psychedelia.  After a few listens, these discs found a place in a stack of CDs on a random spool in my apartment rather quickly, never to be heard from again – the only time that has ever happened with Phish.

Before the band came out ripping the LA Forum and Thomas & Mack Center to start the Winter ’03 tour, letting us know that things were back to normal- many questioned whether Phish had lost their magic. Others wrote off the shows as obviously indicative of the time off- what were you expecting, right?  Everyone seemed to have their own opinions and theories of these comeback shows, and their significance, before the rest of 2003 brought back the Phish we knew and loved.

John DiGiuseppe

1.3.03 Hampton - photo: John DiGiuseppe

Hopefully, these three Hampton shows won’t be as anti-climactic as the last three comeback shows at the Coliseum.  Hopefully, the band will reunite in the Barn and sharpen their teeth before next March.  I have a strong feeling that they will- there is a sense of redemption in the air- and Phish is known for stepping up to the occasion.  I predict there will be more jaws hanging on the Coliseum floor then in the initial days of 2003.  With the likely announcement of shows in New York, Philly, and Boston over the rest of the weekends in March, I feel that the band will surely be ready to destroy their biggest markets.  They wouldn’t play it safe over the course of an entire month; they are back for different reasons this time.  They weren’t on “hiatus,” they didn’t have to come back; they were done.  Without any pressure, this time, everyone has pure motivations.  They don’t need the money- they need the Phish.

1.3.03

1.3.03

As the band prepares for what will likely be the final chapter of their career, a youthful exuberance has engulfed the community again.  Like a collective dream come true, we will all go to Phish shows again.  I get the sense  the band feels that the same exact dream has come true for them- they, as well, will get to go to Phish shows again.  Each time the lights go out, it will be a privilege for us all, an unexpected gift from the universe, at a time when the world at large seems to be moving in the opposite direction.  But as the darkness gives way to Kuroda’s colorful washes of reverie, nothing else will matter- we will all be right we are supposed to be. Our world will be right again.

The First Comeback: 12.31.02 MSG – photo: Jeremy

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DOWNLOAD OF THE DAY:

3.13.92 Campus Club, Providence, RI SBD < LINK

A classic tape and a personal favorite of the analog era, this a classic show from the amazing Spring of ’92 highlights Phish’s musical intensity, zany humor, and unique creativity.  One of those shows where the first and second sets seem flipped, the band’s opening frame featured great versions of Split, Maze, Fluffhead, and Antelope.  With a second set that includes a full “Secret Language” explanation within the Possum intro, this show represents a young Phish playing their hearts out on the long path to success.

I: The Curtain, Split Open and Melt, Poor Heart, Guelah Papyrus, Maze, Dinner and a Movie, The Divided Sky, Mound, Fluffhead*, Run Like an Antelope** > Big Black Furry Creature From Mars > Run Like an Antelope**

II: Wilson > Brother, The Horse > Silent in the Morning, The Landlady, Lizards, My Mind’s Got a Mind of its Own, The Sloth, Rift, Cold as Ice > Love You > Cold as Ice, Possum#

E: Contact, Fire

*Trey teases “We’re Off to See the Wizard.” **With “Simpsons” language. #Trey explains the “Secret Language.”

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