A Sterile Saturday Night

Posted in Uncategorized with the tags , on December 30th, 2012 by Mr.Miner

12.28.12 (Graham Lucas)

Shows like Saturday night’s at Madison Square Garden leave me scratching my head, wondering what, exactly, the band was intending to do. Following an opening night that laid the groundwork for a stellar run, the guys came out on one of the holiest days of the Phish calendar, 12/29, and barely attempted a lick of open improv. Following Denver’s revelation and a monumental “Tweezer” on the 28th, one had to expect at least a chunk of musical risk-taking on night two. But with one sonic body blow after another, they guys made it a point try absolutely nothing. There is no doubt that they played their songs quite well, and nobody can take that away from them, though we expect Phish to play their songs proficiently at this stage of the game. However, if we are calibrating shows by their level of cerebral engagement—music that enraptures one’s wildest imagination—12/29 was the least impressive of the year by leaps and bounds.

12.29.12 Official (J. Flames)

Before going any further, let me state—once again—that I go to Phish shows to see them jam; to witness the band weave musical memories in real time. If I wanted to listen to Phish songs, I could throw one of many CDs to happily meet that desire. But shows are supposed to be something more. Phish shows are the times when we have the privilege to be awed by the superhuman powers of the most magical musicians on earth. But there was nothing magical about last night at all. With little rhyme or reason, the guys sculpted a piecemeal setlist that possessed no direction or vigor whatsoever. I would love to write about the improvisational highlights of the show but there were none. Zero. Zilch. A few minutes of bland, quasi-connected, atmospheric funk out of “Golden Age” represented the band’s only attempt at any sort of jamming. Even songs like “Rock and Roll,” “Reba,” “Bathtub Gin” and “Waves” that almost always feature exciting improv were delivered in straight forward and unspectacular fashion. There were plenty of high-energy moments—specifically “Suzy Greenberg” and “46 Days”—but those are meant to be the supporting cast, not the lead actors.

The concern that now comes into play for this Holiday Run is whether the 28th will wind up as the best show of the run, just as it was a year ago. It felt like Dick’s provided a pivot point in the development of modern Phish. It seemed that the guys had their hearts rededicated to sophisticated musical experimentation, and that the “hit or miss” aspect that has annoyingly pervaded 3.0 was a thing of the past. But after last night’s song-based snoozefest, that all seems like wishful thinking. Perhaps the 29th was just a bump in the road, but by anyone’s standards, it felt virtually inconceivable that the band would pull out such a performance on Saturday night at the Garden. But they did. And there is nothing to do but smile, put it behind us, and comeback on the 30th for a massive bounce back night of improvisation.

I: Crowd Control, Mound, AC/DC Bag, Rock and Roll, Sugar Shack, Reba, Halley’s Comet > Limb By Limb*, Wading in the Velvet Sea, Bathtub Gin**

II: Golden Age > Waves > Prince Caspian*** > Boogie On Reggae Woman, Suzy Greenberg, Bug, Cavern, 46 Days

E: The Squirming Coil, Grind, First Tube

*Follow the Yellow Brick Road tease
**”Susie Q” quote from Fishman
***Unfinished

12.28.12 (Graham Lucas)

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Opening the Freezer

Posted in Uncategorized with the tags , , on December 29th, 2012 by Mr.Miner

12.28.12, MSG (Graham Lucas)

On the first night of their highly anticipated 2012 New Year’s Run, Phish stepped onto the Garden’s stage and stunned their audience with an era-defining rendition of “Tweezer,” invoking the improvisational spirit we witnessed in Denver just months ago. Showing no signs of rust from their extensive off-season, the guys backed up the night’s monstrous centerpiece with highlights of “Wolfman’s Brother” and “David Bowie,” not to mention rock solid play throughout the show. Watching the band play with such polish and confidence on the first night of the run brought unbridled enthusiasm not only for the music that went down, but for the limitless possibilities that the next three nights now contain.

Official 12.28 Print (J.Flames)

Following a straightforward opening set, less a stellar “Wolfman’s” closer, Phish could hold back no more and tore open the universe at the start of the second with a free-form, to-die-for “Tweezer” that needs to be heard to be believed. The band connected the many movements of this masterpiece with a criminal smoothness, resulting in an ego-less and sophisticated musical adventure that is beginning to define the new contour of Phish jams. Harnessing the egalitarian improvisational gusto unveiled in the Rockies over Labor Day weekend, Phish played a jam in which nobody dominated while different members stepped up to lead throughout. Courageous, utterly refined, and woven with meticulous precision, this “Tweezer” proved that the music of Denver was no mile-high fluke, but a legitimate turning point in the course of the band’s modern chapter. Trey’s playing, a topic deserving of its own paragraph, was defined by both confidence and cooperation, leading when he saw fit and stepping back just as effectively in other parts of the jam. Moving from a soaring beginning to a bass-led, bliss-laden middle, onto an more minimalist, melodic section before finishing in a profound sonic convergence, this fully-realized jam brought a bit of everything into the mix, vividly illustrating why we go to such lengths to see Phish perform. Astounding in every sense of the word, “Tweezer” was the stuff of musical reverie and provides a gem of 2012 that can only be rivaled by Dick’s “Light.” And if this happened on night one of the run, there is unquestionably more to come. Wow!

12.28.12 (G.Lucas)

Though this spine-tingling exploration stole the show, there are other points of note as well, first and foremost, the guitar showcase of one Trey Anastasio. Shining bright all night long, Trey played masterfully in all milieus without ever dominating jams. Assertive yet deferring at the perfect times, Trey’s leadership stood out around every corner in both sets. With scorching solos in “Maze” and “Theme,” carefully integrated offerings in “Stash” and “Twist,” dirty, rhythmic swank in “Wolfman’s,” and minimalist guidance in “Bowie,” Trey’s discerning aesthetic was a huge takeaway from the first night at MSG. Armed with a seemingly limitless arsenal of evolved techniques, he was up to any task last night, and something tells me the next three nights won’t be any different. It has been a long journey for Trey to reach this point of proficiency in the modern era, but he has truly arrived once again.

Improvisationally speaking, “Wolfman’s” and “Bowie” provided the other high points of the night. Using the former as a first set closer, the guys took “Wolfman’s” in a more original direction than they have in recent memory. Splashing into atypical funk textures, they passed through “stop-and-go-ish” type jamming before moving further away from structure and into a seductive exchange in which Trey infused the progression of “Little Drummer Boy.” The whole band immediately picked up on the holiday spirit, as they integrated the song into the jam without ever losing the groove. Then, on a dime, they melted right back into the funk. But instead of jumping to the song’s ending, they guys infused a blues build into the jam that creatively returned them to “Wolfman’s.” Taking a bow and moving into setbreak, this piece got their creative juices flowing after a high-energy opening frame—and you know what happened next.

12.28.12 (Graham Lucas)

Closing the second set, “David Bowie” provided the other musical high point of the show. The band united in a gritty conversation that built in intensity throughout, giving the audience a glimpse into the song’s ethos. A sinister tone pervaded the jam and the intricate exchange never lost momentum, as Phish stamped a strong conclusion on the night with a revitalized version of a song that has lost its way in recent years. In between “Tweezer” and “Bowie,” the guys sandwiched some intense jamming with “Maze” and “Twist,” but neither moved outside of the box.

If the band had just played “Tweezer” and walked off stage, it would have been plenty to satiate much of the Garden’s crowd last night. But supporting the monumental jam with high-energy selections and two bounce back jams in a couple of classic vehicles, Phish delivered a very strong opening course to their four night extravaganza. And as we look forward to nights two, three and four, the questions are out the window and only excitement remains.

I: Stealing Time From the Faulty Plan, The Moma Dance, Funky Bitch, Army of One, Tube, Stash, Nellie Kane, Kill Devil Falls, Free, Wolfman’s Brother -> The Little Drummer Boy -> Wolfman’s

II: Tweezer -> Maze, Twist* > Theme From the Bottom, Fluffhead, David Bowie

E: Bouncing Around the Room, Good Times Bad Times

*Little Drummer Boy teases and quotes

12.28.12, MSG (G.Lucas)

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Ten Holiday Run Wishes

Posted in Uncategorized with the tags , on December 12th, 2012 by Mr.Miner

12.30.10, MSG (Graham Lucas)

1. “Waves”: This majestic song debuted at MSG on 12/31/02 and hasn’t returned to the The Garden since. Given that we’ve only heard one version this year (Deer Creek) and it was magnificent, I’m pulling for a big time “Waves” over the Holiday Run.

2. The “Tweezer” of the Year: Though there were many quality “Tweezers” this year, especially on the second leg of summer, Phish has yet to throw down a colossal 2012 version. Here’s hoping we get a mega-”Tweezer” filled with the funkified urban grit of New York City.

3. Unexpected Jams: We all know the band will jam “Rock and Roll,” “Disease,” “Light,” and “Piper,” and I can’t wait for each. But I also wish to be blindsided by one or two jams from unexpected vehicles a la Worcester’s “Roses” or Atlantic City’s “Birds.” The songs that these jams stem from are irrelevant, it’s all about the element of surprise.

4. New Material: Just yesterday Mike posted a picture of himself playing bass in The Barn. What if, in addition to routine practice, the band was polishing off a couple new songs? It’s high time for some fresh setlist material, and though it’s doubtful we’ll see any during a year-end run, a kid can dream, right?

5. A Fully Realized “Twist”: After working this jam during Leg One, including one of the standout excursions of 2012 in Cincy’s “Twist,” the band shied away from exploring the song during Leg Two. Carrying such profound improvisational potential, it would be a shame to see another standard version of “Twist” over the Holiday Run.

6. Smooth Segues: This year featured a host of silky segues, from “Sand -> Nellie Kane” to “Light -> Sally” and “Lighteca” to Sand -> Ghost.” Hopefully the guys will take their time between songs and merge some with stunning fluidity—an element that always ups the ante of any song pairing.

7. A Jammed Out “Crosseyed”: Phish has featured this Talking Heads cover as part of their rotation for the duration of this era, but seldom have they used it as a jam vehicle. The band has been more inclined to springboard into high-energy rock and roll from “Crosseyed” than into any sort of adventure. Bill Graham’s version, however, reminded us of the profound depths the guys can plunge with this song, and hopefully over the Holiday Run we see another such rendition.

8. A “David Bowie” With Teeth: It would be great to see a revitalized version of this once-prolific jam that has turned rather stale in the 3.0 era. Chances of this, however, feel like they are slim to none.

9. “Wolfman’s” or “Bathtub Gin” In Set Two: Both of these songs have turned into tame, unidirectional first-set jams. I hope to see the band place one or both of these under the spotlight during the main event, as each song has been begging for some love for quite a while now.

10. Passion: Whatever happens at MSG and whatever songs are played, let’s hope the band comes with a serious intent to blow the room apart. Madison Square Garden is a venue of great legend in Phish history, though the band hasn’t treated the round room to a full-on musical assault in this era. Let’s hope this run contains that elusive MSG show we’ve been dreaming about since the band’s ’09 return.

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Jam of the Day:

Mike’s Song” 12.31.95 II

Speaking of full-on musical assaults…

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Cover (AJ Masthay)

PHISH THOUGHTS BOOK HOLIDAY SALE!

Need a holiday gift for the Phish fan in your life? Now you can get Mr. Miner’s Phish Thoughts—660 pages of love—for only $29.99! The hard cover book features hundreds of essays in a unique choose-your-own-adventure format and over 250 full color photographs! Delivery only takes 3 to 4 days from the date you order, so head over to the book site and order one now! (shipping and handling fees apply)

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TTFF: Modern Holidays

Posted in Uncategorized with the tags , , on November 15th, 2012 by Mr.Miner

12.31.2010 (Ryan Gilbertie)

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In anticipation of this year’s New Year’s Run, let’s reminisce with some of the brightest memories from the holiday runs of 3.0

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Tweezer -> Caspian” 12.29.09 II

The best “Tweezer” of any Holiday Run this era, and one of the elite 3.0 versions.

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Ghost -> N20” 12.31.09 II

The first New Year’s Eve “Ghost” of this era, a modern tradition that has stuck so far.

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Seven Below > What’s the Use?” 12.27.10 II

This jam highlighted Worcester’s opening show two years ago.

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Simple” 1.1.11 II

The standout piece of the strongest show from 2010′s 5-night run.

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Piper” 12.30.11 II

The best jam from an unimprressive Holiday run last year.

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Harry Hood” 12.28.10 II

One of the elite versions of all time.

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***

Back on the Train” 12.30.09 II

The most impressive jam to ever stem from this song.

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***

2001 > Slave” 12.29.09 II

The cathartic closing combo of a very special night in Miami.

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3.0 Rankings for Fun

Top NYE Show: 1) 2010 2) 2009 3) 2011

Top Holiday Run: 1) 2009 2) 2010 3) 2011

Top Holiday Run Show: 1) 12.29.09 2) 1.1.11  3) 12.31.10 4) 12.30.09 5) 12.28.11

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MASTHAY’S “THE TERMINAL” ON SALE TODAY @ NOON EST!

Grab your quadtych today at Noon EST at Masthay Studios !

“The Terminal” AJ Masthay

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AJ Masthay’s “The Terminal”

Posted in Uncategorized with the tags , , , , on November 12th, 2012 by Mr.Miner

“The Terminal” Sketches – AJ Masthay

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Amidst 2012, a year when official Phish posters seemed to dwell in the uninspired, fan-turned-professional artist, AJ Masthay, has continued to crank out some of the more visually stunning and thought provoking prints in the scene. Using time-honored techniques in a field that is becoming increasingly digital, AJ’s hand-carved, linoleum block prints have gained widespread recognition over the past few years with hallmarks of brilliant colors, thick coats of ink, and bold-eye-catching imagery. I recently caught up with AJ to discuss his transformative year and his upcoming MSG quadtych, “The Terminal.” (Click on images to enlarge.)

*****

MM: It’s been a year since we sat down to talk. Your 2012 work has been hailed as some of your best work to date. You knocked your Phish series out of the park and picked up some official work for Further tour. How has your printmaking progressed over 2012?

AJM: 2012 was big for me, no doubt. The biggest change on my end was finally taking the plunge and pursuing my career as an artist full time, Feb 29th – Leap day – was my last day putting on the collar shirt and tie. Knock on wood, it’s been one of the best decisions of my life. I now have the luxury of devoting every waking moment to creating art and growing Masthay Studios.

2012 was also a year of refining techniques for me. I consider myself a craftsman, you know old school apprentice and master shit where you live and breathe your craft and strive for perfection. The more disciplined you become, your work will naturally become more refined. I created a new registration system for my Vandercook press this year allowing for much tighter alignment between plates. This is critical for achieving the kinds of detail you see in my recent works, specifically all the Furthur pieces from both the summer and fall.  I’ve been printing for almost 20 years now and it always amazes me how much there is to still learn.

Let’s talk little bit about your second consecutive New Year’s Run quadtych! Moray eels, pigeons, a robot and Grand Central Station—what was your inspiration and vision behind this year’s prints?

12.28.12 (Masthay)

Let me start out by saying I love creating the triptychs and now the quadtychs. The size of my work is limited by the size of the bed on my printing press, about 15″ x 22″. The print sets give me the freedom to stretch my legs and flesh out larger compositions while still working within those constraints. Being born and raised in Connecticut, I’ve had the luxury of going into the city pretty much whenever I felt like it, and 99% of the time that meant hopping a train and heading to Grand Central. It’s just one of icons of Manhattan and with the shear volume of people coming through that beautifully ornate terminal, most anyone living or visiting the City will have some type of emotional connection to the space.

So I had my environment chosen, now to develop the cast of characters and story that will take place in that environment. An MSG new years run has a certain amount of nostalgia for me, like that old hat that just feels right when you put it on. We’ve all been trucking into the city for so many years now, there’s a comfort and familiarity to the whole experience and I love that. This is where the robot comes from—it is a direct reference to the Harpua story from 1997 (Lost in Space robot, pentagrams, and udder ball) but it also represents nostalgia and all the amazing experiences we’ve been blessed with [in that building].

There is a definite darkness to the eels in these prints. Was there a specific message you were trying to convey through the eels?

12.29.12 (Masthay)

Ahh, the eels; the eels represent so much it’s hard to know where to start. On one level the eels bring a fishiness to the prints, representing sea creatures so often associated with the band. But these eels aren’t in the ocean, they’re in Grand Central Station, and they’re emanating from a smashed disco ball—a NYE 2009 reference. If you look at the emotion being portrayed by the eels in each pane or vignette of the quad, you’ll see the emotion that I personally feel I go through during these four-night runs. In the first pane the eels are curious and inquisitive, checking out the robot and wondering how things will progress in this run. The eels are obviously comfortable in their environment. In the second pane they are fully engulfed in the RAGE. The rage continues in the third pane but the hunger becomes more and more evident—both literal hunger and the hunger for things to come. Finally, the full on face melting of New Year’s Eve and just being slayed by the greatest band on earth. Darkness—maybe emotion—absolutely.

This is the third consecutive MSG holiday run—has it become increasingly hard to think of geographically relevant imagery, or do you have ideas just waiting to come out?

That’s’ the beauty of New York City, there is so much to work with, the difficult part is tying it into MSG and the shows. Being able to do that and make it all feel natural, not forced, is where the creativity comes into play.

This quad looks a bit more detailed and refined than a lot of your previous prints. Is this a natural progression of your work?

This is partially the natural progression I spoke about earlier, implementing new techniques to allow for greater detail and better registration, but is also a direct result of choosing an environment like Grand Central Station. The place is stunningly beautiful, as ornate as any Newport mansion, but meant for all to utilize and enjoy. I also purposely did not hold myself to a certain number of colors on these, I think there’s something like eleven total colors, some of which will be, literally, mixed on the prints by layering. I Facebooked a message a few days ago saying “I’m not sure how I’m going to do this,” and the shear number of colors on these quads is what I was referring to. It’s going to be challenging, but that’s part of the fun.

I really love the 29th print with the train and the eels bursting out of the image, as well as the gas masked train conductor alluding to last year’s “MSG Rapture” quad. Do you conceive the central imagery of each print individually and then figure out how to combine them, or figure out one scene in totality and figure out how to split them up?

12.30.12 (Masthay)

These print sets typically start out with the larger composition, feeling out the flow throughout all four prints and how they will work as a set. Once that is laid out, the true challenge is developing the composition within each pane so that they can each stand on their own as an individual work of art but also as a part of the whole. There’s give and take throughout the entire process and I go through A LOT of erasers. If you ever get the opportunity to check out any of my original sketches in person, you will see evidence of this process. I see the sketches as a living, breathing entity, constantly changing and growing throughout the creation process. I try one thing, feel it out, and if it works, great, if it doesn’t feel quite right, erase and try again. Many artists use thumbnail sketches or preliminary sketches to work these things out before touching the final piece. Personally, I love the rawness of doing things on the spot, my own personal version of free form jamming I guess, but in a visual context as opposed to audio.

I love how you’ve integrated the show info as tiny details to the print that fit right into the Grand Central motif. How concerned are you in allowing that info (date/locale) to be seen clearly or do you just make sure it’s on there somewhere?

How I handle the text is determined on a print by print basis. Obviously on commissioned work for bands the text needs to be front and center, so sometimes its nice to treat these unofficial pieces more like art prints, almost downplaying the date and venue information. Yes, it’s in there, but it’s not the defining factor of the image nor does it need to be understood to be appreciated.

What’s going on in the NYE print? Is the clock electrocuting the eels or vice versa? Or is that up to the eye of the beholder?

12.31.12 (Masthay)

I love telling stories in my images, but what I don’t do is completely lay out the narrative. I leave that up to the viewer, allowing them to connect to the piece and develop that narrative for themselves. What one person sees could be a completely different story from the person standing next to him, I love that. Is the clock electrocuting the eel or vice versa? I’ll let you decide, but what I really wanted to capture is the energy that is December 31, 2012.

How can people get a hold of this year’s prints? Will they be for sale soon?

Prints will be available for purchase this Friday November 16 at 12 noon EST on MasthayStudios.com. In keeping with Masthay Studios New Year’s Run tradition, I will be documenting the entire process of creating the editions, but this year it’ll all be through Facebook and Twitter with separate content on each. You can look forward to lots and lots of photos of the creation process along with some commentary from yours truly. This is a unique opportunity to actually see your prints being made, if you haven’t done so already, be sure to “Like” Masthay Studios on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

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Jams of the Day: 

Memories from MSG 2011.

Carini -> Tweezer” 12.28.11 II, MSG

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Piper” 12.30.11 II, MSG

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Four Crappy Phish Runs

Posted in Uncategorized with the tags , , on October 18th, 2012 by Mr.Miner

As readers know, I’ve spent most of my time on this site highlighting the best and the brightest moments, jams and shows of Phish’s career. But let’s be honest, sometimes the band just doesn’t get it done. One needn’t look any further back than Bill Graham’s second night or 2011’s craptacular New Year’s Run to find shining examples of these less than stellar performances. Today, instead of pointing out gems from the past, let’s take a look at four of the least inspired runs in the band’s career.

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New Year’s Run 2002-2003

NYE 2002 (S.Campbell)

Though everyone was through-the-roof excited for Phish to be back after a 2 ½ year absence, once they hit the stage, there wasn’t a hell of a lot to write home about. Their 2002 New Year’s performance contained very little impressive jamming, and got by on the community’s adrenaline alone. The only musically memorable part of this night came in the third set with “Runaway Jim -> Time Loves a Hero,” and even this jam was nothing too special. Phish’s highly-anticipated comeback show easily took the cake for the worst New Year’s Eve show of all time. And once the band got down to Hampton—the fucking Mothership—things just got worse.

Strewn by sloppy and uninspired play, the band slogged through three shows with zero listen back value whatsoever. The first night in Hampton provided the strongest effort of the three, highlighted by the jam of the run in “46 Days.” The second night fell totally flat despite a first set that looks great on paper. The “Wolfman’s” from set two provided a decent jam that got the Coliseum rocking, but outside of the live experience it’s not worth remebering. The third night was highlighted by—well—nothing that I can remember. The band had more or less lost me by the fourth show in the run, and I was just rooting for some serious practice time before they came out for winter tour. “Weekapaug > What’s the Use?” would have to be considered the jam of the show, but it was not memorable. When the band returned at the Forum in LA and then Las Vegas in mid February, they announced their return with their instruments, not just their presence on stage, and the 2.0 era got rolling in earnest

***

Turkey Run 2003

20th Anniversary Print (Pollock)

After a phenomenal and exploratory Summer Tour in 2003, the band took a few months off before hitting Nassau, Philly and Boston for their 20th Anniversary Run in November. Everyone was expecting some very special shows over this weekend, and most everyone was let down. Over these four nights, there were only a handful of highlights with “Twist -> Simple” from 11.29 at The Spectrum leading the way by far. The first show in Nassau Coliseum featured two engaging first set sequences in “Ghost -> What’s the Use” and “Bathtub > Free,” but the second set was completely innocuous, featuring a string of unjammed singles. Philly, outside of “Twist -> Simple,” really need not be discussed at all. I know a lot of people enjoyed the third night in Albany, but I found it to be a totally setlist driven affair. If there could be any less action in a sequence labeled “Tweezer > 2001 > YEM,” show me too it; it doesn’t exist. The “Wolfman’s Brother” that came towards the end of the first set pumped the crowd up and provided the one true highlight of the night. Halfway through the second set,however, the band invited their original fourth member, Jeff Holdsworth, to the stage to perform his songs “Camel Walk” and “Possum.” Holdsworth stuck around for to play the first song ever performed live by the band, “Long Cool Woman With a Black Dress,” and their old-school single “Run Like an Antelope.” It all sucked. Steeped in Phishy nostalgia, this set contained nothing worth listening to again.

When the band made their way up to Boston for their 20th Anniversary show, everyone expected musical fireworks and something extra special. But the band didn’t even address the crowd or acknowledge the event but for a stellar video retrospective that aired on stage during setbreak—easily the highlight of the show. The beginning of the second set provided the a small musical takeaway in the unconventional combination of “Rock and Roll -> Weekapaug -> Tweezer Reprise.” The guys dropped a solid “Maze” late in the set, but “Maze” can’t do much to save a show. All in all this “celebratory” run was pretty piss poor. Antelope Greg maintains that these shows didn’t cut the mustard because he wasn’t there. Well, Greg or no Greg, these shows simply blew. (But check that “Twist -> Simple” below as the jam of the day.)

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Vegas 2004

Vegas ’04 (Pollock)

The three night run in Las Vegas in the spring of 2004 marked the beginning of the end. After this weekend, Trey would post his notorious message on Phish.com proclaiming—“We’re done.” The news came as a stake through many a fan’s heart, but based on the guys’ haggard musical output over the weekend, few could argue with his reasoning. Sandwiched in the middle of a lot of very messy playing, however, there were some really solid jams, led by “Halley’s > Tweezer” that opened up night three and a manic “Twist” from night two. The other Vegas notables include a near twenty-minute “Pebbles and Marbles” from the final set of the run and an opening night sequence of “Drowned > 2001 > Disease.” But relative to what we recognize as quality Phish today, these shows really stunk up Sin City.

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 New Years Run 2011

MSG 2011 (DKNG)

It’s no secret that last year’s New Year’s Run at MSG blew goats. After a stellar summer that concluded with an outlandish run at Dick’s, the community was incredibly excited to “Occupy YEMSG” for the holiday celebration. But after Phish came out and raised hopes with a high quality opening show, everything went down hill. Getting progressively worse by the night the band stumbled to the finish line in a run for which they didn’t hold rehearsals. The 29th featured little to no improvisation, with a single segue between “Chalk Dust” and “Hydrogen” making the only buzz of the night. The 30th was a trainwreck, less the jam of the run in the second set’s “Piper,” and New Year’s Eve immediately challenged the 2002 show in the same building for the worst ever. On one of Phish’s high holidays, a bunch of first set singles gave way to the “main event” in the second. The only jam of note in the set, however, was “Light” which saw Page make token use of his Theramin. Though the band jammed “Light,” I’m not sure I’ve ever listened to this version after my once through after the show. Remember the third set? Probably not. Three words—“Velvet Sea,” “Alaska.” Nuff said.

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Jam of the Day:

Twist -> Simple” 11.29.03 II, Philly, PA

The one gem of 2003′s Turkey Run.

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Back to The Garden

Posted in Uncategorized with the tags , on October 3rd, 2012 by Mr.Miner

Madison Square Garden

On Tuesday, Phish announced what everybody has known for quite a while, the boys will be back in New York City for their New Year’s Run. It has been no secret that the band signed a multi-year deal with MSG in 2010, and everyone has known since years ago where we’d be come December 28, 2012—back in The Garden again. Phish and New Year’s Eve at MSG has become an institution over the years, as the community has descended upon the capitol of the world for their end of the year celebrations in 1994 (just the 30th), 1995, 1997, 1998, 2002, 2010, 2011, and now 2012. And following a series of bunk performances in New York City last holiday season, I’d expect Phish to come out polished and firing for redemption come the end of December. Although the band has just as much time off as they did last year before the run, one would expect Trey to hold practices this time around—something that was absent from 2011’s debacle. Only a week after the long-awaited date of 12.21.2012, we will filter back into The World’s Most Famous Arena to conclude, without question, the best year of Phish since their return. But this time, it’s gonna’ be different!

For the first time in 23 years, Madison Square Garden will completely remove the seats from their floor and offer general admission tickets! But there is a catch that might make a huge difference depending on how hard they patrol the floor. Instead of having one, flowing open floor, MSG will sell “GA front” and “GA rear” tickets. The effect of this segmentation could result in more crowded environs for both sections. Without the ability for the masses to “push up” and crowd the front when the show begins, the back of the floor may not loosen up as usual and provide the dance space that spunions have come to love on GA floors. Perhaps fans’ preoccupation with the floor will free up the classic 300 level walkway that was so congested by construction last year?  Here is the ideal scenario: they “undersell” the floor and require a separate entrance for all GA ticket holders, disallowing anyone without a ticket and bracelet from coming near the GA area. Who knows how things will turn out, but after last year’s clusterfuck at MSG, any change has to improve the situation!

The mail order window is now open through October 15, and with the new setup, one can request GA Floor only, though cannot specify front or rear. This is always a nice option so that one isn’t stuck with a handful of 400 level stubs come mid-October. Best of luck in the lottery, and we’ll be meeting in The Big Apple before you know it for a final serving of 2012 Phish!

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Jam of the Day:

Carini -> Tweezer” 12.28.11 II

One of few redeeming jam sequences from last year’s New Years’ Run

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TTFW: The End of 2010

Posted in Uncategorized with the tags , , , on March 28th, 2012 by Mr.Miner

12-30-2010—MSG (Graham Lucas)

The time between Fall Tour and New Year’s Run did little to derail Phish’s building momentum. Set to return to Worcester and Madison Square Garden—the exact venues of the ’95 Holiday Run—for an unprecedented five nights, fans were flying high to take on the most extensive year-end run in history. And the band’s playing did not disappoint. Though only one of the five shows really came together as a complete two-setter (1/1/11), the run produced ample highlights as the band completed a tremendous year of progression and playing. It would be almost six months before we greeted the band again in Bethel, but after the holiday run—the musical exclamation point on 2010—the time felt a heck of a lot different than this off season does.

2010′s Holiday Run featured six central jams—”Seven Below -> What’s the Use?,” “Harry Hood,” “Tweezer,” “Sand,” “Ghost,” and “Simple”—and plenty of supporting music to go along with them. Today’s playlist is comprised these selections and more as we continue our audio retrospective on this era.

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Seven Below -> What’s the Use?” 12.27 II

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Wolfman’s Brother” 12.28 I

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Harry Hood“ 12.28 II

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Bathtub Gin” 12.30 I

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Tweezer” 12.30 II

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Sand” 12.31 II

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Ghost” 12.31 II

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YEM -> Manteca -> YEM” 12.31 II

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Twist > Simple” 1.1 II

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TTFT: Miami ’09 & March Madness

Posted in Uncategorized with the tags , , , on March 13th, 2012 by Mr.Miner

12.29.09 - Miami, FL (Wendy Rogell)

As we finish our audio retrospective of 2009, today brings us to Miami. Riding the cresting momentum of fall tour’s back end, there was a sense that something special would happen down south. Heading to the proximity of Big Cypress ten years later and back to American Airlines Arena six years later, plenty of memories and anticipation hung in the air. And when the band left Miami, they had found a new sense of musical purpose, bringing their playing to a new level while inspiring the community and making the future look brighter than ever. Mike had been using his envelope filter more and more towards the end of fall, and in a New Year’s Run in which he was the undeniable leader, the effect was prominent in many of the jams. Achieving a new level of musical density, Phish was hitting on all cylinders as the calendar turned to 2010. Today’s playlist is comprised entirely of Miami highlights. Stay tuned from a trip through 2010 starting tomorrow.

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Tweezer -> Caspian” 12.29 II

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Back on the Train” 12.30 II

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Ghost” 12.31 II

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Rock and Roll > Piper” 12.31 II

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Corrina” 12.30 I

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Harry Hood” 12.28 II

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Reba” 12.29 I

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Boogie On -> Antelope” 12.30 II

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Phish March Madness @ Treyismyfriend.com!

64 songs, 1 champion! A tournament to end hotel room debates forever—Phish March Madness has arrived! The songs have been seeded by the committee and the first round games are already underway, hosted by my good friend at Trey Is My Friend—a Phish news, rumor, and satire blog. Head on over to cast your vote for the first round matchups now! There are some ridiculous Sweet 16 “games” brewing if seedings hold up! This should be fun! Is “YEM” the champ? Will “Tweezer” crush all? Will 2012 bring a Cinderella story? With your help, we’ll find out! (Further instructions are on the site)

The Field of 64

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Weekend Nuggets: MSG Highlights

Posted in Uncategorized with the tags , , on January 13th, 2012 by Mr.Miner

“Tweezer” 12.28 II (HarpuaFSB)

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“Piper -> Twist” 12.30.11  (mkdevo)

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Jam of the Weekend:

Down With Disease > Free” 6.10.11 II

Another monster “Disease” from last year, this one from Camden, New Jersey.

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