Step Into the Bieber

Posted in Uncategorized with the tags , on October 9th, 2012 by Mr.Miner

Justin Bieber – LA (Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

It all started in Long Beach. During a setbreak conversation, a friend told me that Justin Bieber was the show and had stood right next to her at the soundboard for much of the set. “Interesting,” I thought. I had heard of Justin Bieber. He was the teen-aged idol of today’s generation of young girls; a teen pop star through and through. I had never heard a lick of his music, but I thought it was cool that the kid came to the LBC to see Phish. After the show, more information came out. Bieber’s guitarist, Dan Kanter, was a huge Phish fan and had brought Bieber and his girlfriend, Selena Gomez (who I had never heard of) to the show that night. The trio had met the band during setbreak and hit it off while talking music. Then more. Since Phish had no plans for fall tour, Chris Kuroda would be designing the light show for Bieber’s upcoming tour (!), which was one of the reasons Kanter brought him to the show. Over the next couple of days, there was some confusion in the Phish community—was Kuroda actually going in tour with Canada’s pretty boy, or was he just designing the lighting schemes? It soon came out that Kuroda would actually hit the road on Bieber’s “Believe” tour while Phish spent time with their families and solo projects. Taking his Jedi-like skills to the most mainstream act around, CK5 would now see how the other half lived, all while lighting up the minds and imaginations of teeny-boppers across the land. Kuroda worked for The Black Crowes, Aerosmith and R. Kelly during Phish’s haitus, but this would mark his most crossover effort to date. Once everyone figured out the truth of the matter, laughter prevailed in community, but Bieber Fever went into remission as Phish went on to crush the second leg of tour.

Bieber and Kuroda Light Up Los Angeles (Jeff Kravitz)

Fast forward to last week when Bieber’s North American tour kicked off in the southwestern states. In scrolling my Twitter feed, I noticed YEMBlog had posted a short piece about Kanter teasing “Divided Sky” in a live show! “Cute,” I thought, but certainly didn’t think anything of it. And I didn’t even bother to check the clip. In addition, the short piece mentioned that Kanter had also threw in a tease of “Fluffhead’s” “Bundle of Joy” section in a different song! Apparently, Kanter and Kuroda were having some fun while getting paid. It’s doubtful if Justin, himself, let alone the thousands of prepubescent girls in the audience, knew anything of the musical trickery.

Kanter and Bieber (Jeff Kravitz)

Then yesterday, the Phish Internet exploded with Bieber talk. Kanter had worked in significant sections of “Sand” and “First Tube” into Bieber’s show! Several websites had written up the entertaining blurb (all which contained priceless comments from a mix of Bieber and Phish fans.) This time I checked the clips. Amidst a more “grown up” part of the show that flashed images of street action and aggressive music, Kanter sure enough tore right into the themes of “Sand” and “First Tube!” It was not subtle. To see Bieber running and dancing around in a multi-million dollar, mega-production to Trey’s melodies was just too hilarious for words. I immediately retweeted the clips to my followers as I watched and laughed. Kanter had taken the prankster spirit of Phish and wove it right into one of the cheesiest shows on the planet! And I can only imagine the shit-eating grin on the guitarist’s face, let alone Kuroda’s, as he did so.

Biebs In Action (Jeff Kravitz)

I jokingly Tweeted to Kanter, “When are you gonna drop “Tweezer” licks in a Bieber show?” Within a minute, YEMBlog responded that Kanter had already posted on Phantasy Tour that “Tweezer” was coming next! My mental response was a fusion of “WHAAAT?!?” and “That’s fuckin’ awesome!” Within minutes, a multi-party conversation started with people making all sorts of Phish/Bieber jokes, primarily focused on the absurd possibility of a Bieber-focused gag on New Year’s Eve. I suggested that Tom Marshall would be announced as Bieber as he descended from the rafters of MSG at midnight with the goth-angel outfit that Beiber has worn for the same stunt to kick off each and every show. Marshall responded, suggesting he would be introduced wearing an overcoat onstage only to have Bieber shed the costume and appear on stilts to sit in with Phish as the clock struck twelve! Everyone was in on the humor! But then people started worrying about Phish embracing the Biebs too much. “Really?” I thought. Fans were actually concerned that Bieber’s fans—and more particularly his music—would cross over to Phish. Now this seemed a bit absurd. Perhaps the guys work a Bieber allusion into a New Year’s joke or tease a pop song in jest, but theories hypothesizing the potential of Justin singing with Phish felt a bit too ridiculous for me. But, hey, he’d probably pull it off far better than Kid Rock did! The bottom line is “Who Cares?!” But for those sweating it out, the Canadian heartthrob is off for New Year’s Eve!

Regardless if the pop star ever steps foot Phish’s stage, I really don’t see an influx of fourteen year old girls and their parents infiltrating the Phish scene. Nor do I see Bieb’d out setlists as even a remote possibility. But to see fans began to sour over the potential was enough for another personal chuckle. Would some Bieberheads get turned on to Phish? Probably. Is that a bad thing? Hell no! But regardless of fan crossover, the real humor here is that Phish music that will continue to be woven into Bieber’s upcoming concerts! While the band is off tour, the question every morning will now be,” What songs did Kanter dropped on the domes of 20,000 unknowing teens last night?” And we will all sit back and laugh. Shit, if you were a Phish fan playing guitar for Justin Beiber, wouldn’t you do the same thing? I know I would.

8.15.12 Long Beach (John Florek)


Jam of the Day:

Tweezer” 8.17.97 I, Limestone, ME

Something groovilicious for any potential Bieberites stopping by.

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On the Way Upwards, The Colors Come Back

Posted in Uncategorized with the tags , on November 11th, 2008 by Mr.Miner

lighting geometryThe size, sound, and shape of the Phish experience combine to provide pure sensory overload.  From the crisp candy grooves invading your ears to the elusive smell of that dank nugget, to the magical glow of the stage lights- Phish heightens of all your senses to create a fully human experience.  One of Phish’s sensory factors that has been touted for years has been the lighting work of Chris Kuroda.  Often called the fifth member of the band, his skills at improvising lighting as the band improvises music has given Phish another x-factor, enhancing their one of a kind live experience.  As impressive as his technical abilities are of cuing lights based on the band’s musical signals, his ability to dictate particular moods for particular songs has been his most consistent contribution the vibrancy of Phish.

Jamie Huntsman

photo: Jamie Huntsman

After seeing enough shows, one begins to realize that Kuroda’s lighting movements and “hits”, while impressive, are somewhat formulaic.  Sure, he is “improvising,” but his “moves” are fairly consistent within all composed sections.  While not downplaying his skill, I feel that his larger contributions come neither in the crashing of the whites during “Can’t I live while I’m young?” nor the precise flashes of his beams according to Trey’s riffs.  Rather, the true value of Kuroda is the way he provides aura to the music by coloring the magical sounds of the band with moods, providing theatrical hues to Phish’s dramatic improvisation.  Throughout the band’s career, Kuroda has grown inseparable of the Phish experience, lending his own artistic take on Phish jams.  Providing a psychedelic tapestry of saturated shades and crackling color to the mind-bending music, the lights of Phish have become legendary.  Constantly basking in such a rich spectrum of color was like opening the door to Oz each and every evening.

As Phish’s career developed, so did the mood-matching of sound and color.  As songs debuted and began to grow, so did Kuroda’s ideas of what colors complimented each improvisational texture.  While always open to on the spot creativity, songs began to take on signature colors.  Often dictated by the musical emotions expressed within, the lights enhanced the mood of the jam without altering it.  As classics and new songs alike took on colorful qualities, Phish shows lived and breathed in a different way, painted by the brush of five- not just four- artists.

The Primary Colors of the Phish Palate

508846215_91247b586dLight Blue / Turquoise

Often used in more delicate sections of uplifting improv, this color connotes majestic wonder.  Light blue is often used in more mellow songs as, something like “Dog-Faced Boy,”  or “Mountains in the Mist” to achieve a sense of serenity.  A color that almost always appears in the opening segments of YEM, this shade is unmistakeably Phishy.

Routinely used in: Harry Hood, Theme From the Bottom, Scents and Subtle Sounds, Antelope (intro & ending) , YEM composed section, Runaway Jim quiet part,


Pink / Yellow

Chris Clark

photo: Chris Clark

These two lighter colors are often used in unison with more blissful, melodic sections of music.  Pink is the quintessential color of the Reba jam, while Yellow often defines Slave.  Characteristic of many melodic songs, such as Tela, this combination is soothing to the eye and to the soul.  Not only reserved for silky segments, these colors often wash upbeat, happy rock jams as well.

Routinely Used In: Reba, Slave, Tela, Fluffhead, Down With Disease, Piper, Lizards, McGrupp, Runaway Jim, Limb by Limb, Silent in the Morning


105669810_eed8dc93dcDark Blue / Purple

These colors signify mystery and darkness.  Used in deeper, eerie and exploratory jams, these are the shades of Bowies and Tweezers.  When the band digs in for a slow, dark psychedelic portions of their shows, these colors of the unknown always seem to reoccur.  A signature look of more ambient and space textures as well, when covered in purple, things are usually going in a favorable direction.  Never relegated to only one type of music, these darker hues can often accompany improvised slower ballads, like Velvet Sea, Bug, or Friday.

Routinely Used In: David Bowie, Tweezer, Split Open and Melt, Antelope, Ghost, Stash, Twist, Velvet Sea, Sand, Maze, improvised madness



Representing adrenaline, excitement, and pure bombast, red is used with songs that rev up the entire audience.  Generally deployed during more aggressive improvisation such as Mike’s, in the Phish universe, red means “Go!” And go full throttle.  Take no prisoners.  Choose your cliche- but when the band is ripping in-your-face jams, it’s often fire-engine red enveloping the stage.

Routinely Used In: Mike’s, Free, Birds of a Feather, First Tube, Axilla, Frankenstein, Punch You In the Eye, Tweezer Reprise



105670261_b38cc20d14White is the color of the ultimate peak of dramatic set closers and high-paced rock jams.  Used almost exclusively at the climax of a verse or a jam, the whites are reserved for those “planned out” roof-bursting moments.  Examples of such verses are the chorus Golgi and the scream in Possum.  Examples of “composed” rock peaks are Chalkdust and Maze. And the whites also come crashing at the end of virtually every set.

Routinely Used In: Loving Cup, Golgi Apparatus, Chalkdust, Character Zero, Sparkle, Possum, Maze peak, Weekapaug, Taste

These myriad examples of color represent a small spectrum of the Phish rainbow.  While always combining and improvising, Kuroda developed a new way of running lights.  Always enriching the experience, colors of light became synonymous with types of music as Kuroda became Phish’s own visual artist.  Setting a psychedelic trend for other to follow, his use of lights revolutionized the Phish experience and became inseparable from the shows.  Lending a sense of fantasy and imagination to the music, the lights provided the glue for color and sound to morph into one.

What are your opinions on colors and songs?  What are you’re fondest lighting experiences? Respond in Comments below!



Symphony Hall -  Springfield, MA

Symphony Hall - Springfield, MA

12.30.92 Symphony Hall, Springfield, MA SBD < LINK

Good old 12.30. So many amazing memories from this date.  This show came early in string of standout shows on one of the Phishiest days of the year.  Check it out in crispy soundboard fashion. Enjoy!

I: The Landlady, Sparkle, Split Open and Melt, Esther, Chalk Dust Torture, Fluffhead, Paul and Silas, Reba > I Walk the Line > Reba, I Didn’t Know, Timber Ho > David Bowie

II: Axilla, Rift, Bathtub Gin, You Enjoy Myself > Auld Lang Syne > You Enjoy Myself, TMWSIY > Avenu Malkenu > TMWSIY, Possum, Big Ball Jam > HYHU > Love You > HYHU, Take the A-Train, Llama

E: Ride Captain Ride, Sweet Adeline

THE NEW “TAG CLOUD”: If you haven’t noticed, I’ve tagged all the posts on Phish Thoughts by subject.  In the lower right hand column on the home page, you will see all the terms in various size fonts.  The size of the font corresponds to the number of articles about that subject, so now you can search the archives by clicking any of the tags (or by using the search bar.) The search bar is effective when looking for particular “Downloads of the Day” which are always active. Cheers, and happy searching!

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