TTFF: Reader’s Picks—Alexander Papadonis

Posted in Uncategorized with the tags , , , on March 15th, 2013 by Mr.Miner
7.4.2012 Jones Beach (George Estreich)

7.4.2012 Jones Beach (George Estreich)

All selections and text by Alexander Papadonis, aka @DryIceFactory

Bathtub Gin” 6.28.00 II, Holmdel, NJ

From a consistency standpoint, 2000 might just be the best year for “Bathtub Gin.” Here’s my pick for the best one of the summer. Straight fire all throughout.

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Cities” 7.31.98 II, Columbus, OH

What would a @DryIceFactory playlist be without – what I would consider – the best version of “Cities” ever played? Bumping summer groove session gives way to supersonic Trey-shred. Must hear Phish from top to bottom.

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Sand” 6.11.11 I, Columbia, MD

Everyone loves to talk about the Portsmouth “Sand,” but does anyone else remember the Merriwether 1st setter that took place a week before? Trey absolutely attacks the Ocedoc in this version, masterfully creates some fierce tension and brings the jam to a head before moving into the ending. The highlight of a banging 1st set in an otherwise disappointing weekend in the Mid-Atlantic.

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Tweezer” 8.1.98 II, East Troy, WI

Musical perfection, a must-hear highlight from Alpine ’98.

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David Bowie” 11.26.94 II, Minneapolis, MN

The Minneapolis “Bowie” absolutely, 100% set the blueprint for what took place in Providence one month later. You won’t convince me otherwise.

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Light” 10.26.10 II, Manchester, NH

Sometimes I feel like the only people who appreciate this show were the ones who were there. Phish absolutely clobbered a rather rowdy week-night crowd at Verizon Wireless Arena on a Tuesday in New Hampshire. This “Light” (complete with an Alumni Reprise jam) really hit the spot, and might not even be the highlight of the show for many.

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Twist” 2.24.03 II

“Twist” is a jam that can go, literally, anywhere. This one takes a slow and steady course to Saturn.

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Piper -> What’s The Use?” 9.11.00 II

Why not pair a scary “Twist,” with a scary Piper? The highlight of a great show at Great Woods.

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Harry Hood” 9.11.99 II, George, WA

Phish slams the door shut on yet another fantastic set at The Gorge. The crowd roars in approval from the composed section all the way to the final peak. This “Hood” is a personal favorite and is underrated, must-hear Phish.

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YEM -> Manteca -> YEM” 12.31.10 II, MSG, NYC

What’s better than a “YEM” paired with “Manteca” antics?

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Three Of A Kind

Posted in Uncategorized with the tags , on January 11th, 2012 by Mr.Miner

Throughout the Summer, Phish performed no less than four three-nights stands: to start the summer in Bethel, to end the Summer Tour in Denver, a mid-season festival in Watkins Glen, and a return to the intimate environs of UIC Pavilion in Chicago to cap Leg Two. Within these three-night affairs, the band was able to showcase the full spectrum of their playing styles, and got a chance to settle into one room (or one stage) and really let things loose. Without the pressure of only two sets and onto the next city, three nights allowed Phish to musically move any direction they so desired, while giving fans a three-day break from the road. Inevitably, as the band relaxed into these four stands, some of the best shows and jams of the summer resulted. Let’s take a look at last summer’s three-nighters in chronological order.

Bethel Woods, 5/27-5/29

Official Bethel Print (Stout)

Phish came blasting out of the gates at Bethel Woods last summer, kicking off June’s tour—and 2011—in mind-bending fashion. Though the band had gained considerable momentum during the second half of Fall 2010, and played a legit New Year’s Run, nobody expected to experience what went down in Bethel over Memorial Day weekend. When the band came out blazing after an almost six month layoff, many fans expected a warm up show for the first show of tour. But May 27th proved to be anything but a warm up, starting a trend of very significant tour-opening shows 2011.

Bethel Woods (Chris Klein)

The first night at Bethel Woods, though featuring an above average first set, was all about the second. Centered on the psychedelic joyride of “Boogie On > Waves > Caspian > Crosseyed,” the band played with far more confidence and audacity than we had observed at MSG. And the second night of the stand shook the Phish universe to the core. Putting together the most impressive two set show of the modern era up to that point, the band absolutely destroyed the northern New York venue with two sets of barn burning Phish. Highlights of this second night include, “Cities,” “Halley’s Comet,” “Runaway Jim,” “Bathtub Gin,” “Disease > Free,” “Number Line,” and “Harry Hood.” Everything Phish touched turned to gold on this night, and it was this show on May 28th that caused many fans to begin rearranging their summer plans—3.0 Phish had never been like this before.

On the third night in Bethel, the band ran out of creative gas, as they played a straightforward rock and roll show to their salivating crowd. And while this show has likely gotten little play on anyone’s iPod, the safe Sunday night affair seemed just fine on the heels of the improvisational exploits of the first two shows.

Super Ball 7/1-7/3

Super Ball (G.Lucas)

Though Indio provided an idyllic backdrop for Festival 8, it just didn’t feel the same. But when fans began to populate Watkins Glen International on June 30th, the entire infrastructure of the festival felt far more like the dreamlike weekends of lore. With themed art installations and notably smaller grounds, Super Ball was the user-friendliest Northeast festival to date. And boy did Phish respond. The first day with filled with fiery playing throughout both sets, with the improvisational highlight coming with an ethereal and ambient take on “Simple.” The second day of the festival began to heat up in earnest towards the end of the second set, setting up a monstrous nightcap. The third set of the day was one flowing highlight whose centerpiece sequence read “Golden Age > Piper > Caspian > Tweezer.” The bonus here was the only jammed out “Golden Age” to date, less a small funk jam at Darien. The exploratory spirit applied to this festival version would vanish during second leg of summer, as the TV On the Radio cover became an anthem rather than a vehicle for jamming. “Twist > 2001 > Harry Hood” provided the other highlight segment of the set before the band continued to play random singles, compromising the cohesion of the frame as a whole. But when this set ended, the true highlight of the festival began.

The Storage Jam (B.Ferguson)

The Ball Square Jam. The Storage Jam. Call it what you will, Phish’s late-night surprise set—a rite missing from Indio—returned with smashing success at Super Ball. Guised within an artistic rendition of a self-storage shed and immersed in an hour-long rotation jam, the band explored  some of the most experimental music of their career. This jam saw the return of Page’s Theremin, a gimmick he had used in 1996, that he brought back with a whole new skill set. This instrument would make its way into some of the most engaging Phish jams during the second leg of summer—The Gorge’s “Rock and Roll” UIC’s “Undermind,” and Denver’s “Piper. This dark and wholly abstract style of play that was broadcast to fans in surround sound, would establish a new style of improv for the second leg of Summer—“Storage Jamming.” And it would only take hours before this style began seeping into their live show.

On the final day of Super Ball, Phish came out and played, arguably, their strongest two-set show of the year. The band tore every piece to shreds, whether it was the first set’s “Destiny Unbound,” “A Song I Heard the Ocean Sing” or “Reba,” or the second set’s “Disease -> No Quarter, “Light,” or “Waves -> What’s the Use?.” Phish had IT on July 3rd, and played a memorable show laced with full-band interplay that is among the best of the entire year.

UIC Pavilion 8/15-8/17

Unofficial UIC (Ortiz)

Phish had a rich legacy at UIC Pavilion before stepping foot in the venue last summer. With two standout ’94 shows and a legendary three-night run in the fall of ’98, the band returned to a venue where they had exclusively spat fire. And for the first two nights, that is exactly what they did. “The Elements Set” needs no introduction, as the second set of 8/15 has become fan favorite from the moment it happened. The quintessential frame of  “all killer, no filler,” Phish barely stopped for air while cranking through “Sand -> Light > Dirt, Waves > Undermind > Steam > Fire.” Not to mention a stellar first set that puts this show squarely in the running for the two-setter of the year

On the second night in the Chicago, the band came back with just as much gusto and creativity, applying their skills most furiously in the first set during standout versions of “Chalk Dust” and “Limb by Limb.” But the massive version of “Down With Disease” that opened the second set stole the show, moving through countless interesting realms before the band calmly migrated into “Twist.” Trey anchored the middle of the set with strong solos in “Number Line” and “Theme,” before the band got back at it with an increasingly rare “YEM” to close the night.

The third night opened in promising fashion with the old-school Gamehednge staple “Colonel Forbin’s > Mockingbird,” but considerably fizzled thereafter. The highlight sequence of this show was the pairing of “Crosseyed” and “No Quarter” to jump start the second set, but after that, though great songs kept coming, no musical excitement accompanied them. Thus when “Tweezer” and “Ghost” passed with virtually no jamming, the energy of the set deflated considerably. The band kept the fun high by continuing to work in vocal teases of “Still Waiting” in just about every song of the set, and after two nights of serious musicianship, though this show felt a little empty at the time, it suited the last night of tour just fine—kinda.

Denver, Colorado 9/2-9/4

Official Denver Print (LandLand!)

Simply put, Phish’s Labor Day weekend run at Dick’s soccer stadium was their strongest and most consistent three-night stand of the year. Punctuating their touring season with three of its strongest shows—all including smoking first sets—this run represented 2011 Phish at its finest. Beginning with the “S” show, Phish threw down jams with airtight communication, highlighted by the forward-looking experiment that grew out of “Seven Below.” But beyond jamming, the band was playing inspired music all night long in a show that also featured “Sneakin’ Sally > Sparks,” and “Scents and Subtle Sounds > Slave.”

After a fiery opening set on the second night in which even song sprung to life with vitality, the band played one of the most on point second sets of summer. Kicking off with “Disease -> Tweezer,” the “Tweezer” jam immediately transformed into one of the IT moments of this era, as the band came together in a life-affirming musical masterpiece. After splicing a spirited version of “Golden Age” and a shredtastic “Kill Devil Falls” into the mix, Phish arrived at the second profound moment of the set—“2001 > Light -> Disease Reprise.” Taking risks and succeeding like champions, the band had the switch locked in the “On” position all night long, including the standout “Antelope” with “Disease” teases that ended the set.

9.4.11 (M.Stein)

And unlike any other three-night stand during the year, Phish came out and played their third, consecutive standout show in Denver. Opening with “Maze” and continuing with first set highpoints of “Tube” “Timber,” and “Bathtub Gin,” the band certainly meant business on their final night of summer. Centering the final set of Colorado around a sublime triumvirate of “Twist – > Piper > Harry Hood,” the band’s playing was at top level at this point in the year, as they flew through jams with immense creativity and immaculate proficiency. Add a surreal second-set “Roggae” and “Ghost -> the second “Guy Forget” of all time -> Ghost,” and we’ve got yet a third contender for show of the summer—all from Dick’s alone! A raucous “Walls of the Cave” closer slammed the door shut on Summer Tour 2011—by far and away—the most magnificent tour since Phish’s 2009 return.

These three-night stands provided benchmarks along the road of Summer Tour. When looking at the consistency of music throughout these four stands, one can easily observe the transformative nature of Phish music last year. Building off of 2009 and 2010, during 2011, the band began to forge new improvisational pathways for their music, craft timeless jams that stand up to any era of Phish, and rewrite the record books for what is possible in this era. It took a couple of years to get there, but in 2011, the band exploded with the type of consistently creative playing that I—and many others—had faith would return. From Bethel to Super Ball to UIC to Denver, the three-night stands in 2011 centralized the band and community for some of the most enthralling experiences of the year. We’ll see what 2012 brings, but if I had to guess, I bet we see a couple more of these musical trifectas.

7.3.11 - Super Ball (Graham Lucas)

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Miner’s Picks: Summer 2011 — Downloads

Posted in Uncategorized with the tags , , on October 6th, 2011 by Mr.Miner

8.6.11 - The Gorge (Joe Iudice)

For the end of the week, and with the help of Chris Keiner of Phish Listening Room, I have assembled downloads of all the Miner’s Picks that were posted last week. And here’s where Chris comes in. As audience sources of each current show are posted on etree, he reviews the same four songs from each and every source, honing in on—in his opinion—the best available recording for every show played. These installments of Miner’s Picks were assembled from Chris’ selected sources, thus feature the “best” sounding source for every single track! Also, for the first time in Miner’s Picks history, I am offering the compilations in both lossless and mp3 formats.

Below, you will find any link that you will need to download these summer compilations. The torrent links are listed first and are the easiest way to pull entire compilations at once. There are two sets of torrent links—one comprised of FLACs and one comprised of 320 kbps mp3s. Additionally, if torrenting isn’t your thing, there are also direct Megaupload links for the compilations as well. I had to keep each Megaupload file under a 1 gig, so there are multiple download links for the FLAC compilations, though the mp3s files all fit into a single download for each set of picks. Enjoy the summer highlights in any format you choose!

I want to also thank Eric Masters for organizing and re-uploading all the Leg I picks, by far the heartiest compilation of them all. In addition, download links for “Miner’s Picks: Denver” will be provided as soon as they are ready. Enjoy the weekend!

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TORRENT LINKS

FLAC

Miner’s Picks: Summer 2011 – Leg I (FLAC)

Miner’s Picks: Summer 2011 – Super Ball (FLAC)

Miner’s Picks: Summer 2011 – Leg II (FLAC)

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Mp3

Miner’s Picks: Summer 2011 – Leg I (mp3)

Miner’s Picks: Summer 2011 – Super Ball (mp3)

Miner’s Picks: Summer 2011 – Leg II (mp3)

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MEGAUPLOAD DIRECT DOWNLOAD LINKS

LEG I

Miner’s Picks: Summer 2011 – Leg I (FLAC) Pt.1

Miner’s Picks: Summer 2011 – Leg I (FLAC) Pt.2

Miner’s Picks: Summer 2011 – Leg I (FLAC) Pt.3

Miner’s Picks: Summer 2011 – Leg I (mp3)

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SUPER BALL

Miner’s Picks: Summer 2011 – Super Ball (FLAC) Pt.1

Miner’s Picks: Summer 2011 – Super Ball (FLAC) Pt.2

Miner’s Picks: Summer 2011 – Super Ball (mp3)

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LEG II

Miner’s Picks: Summer 2011 – Leg II (FLAC) Pt.1

Miner’s Picks: Summer 2011 – Leg II (FLAC) Pt.2

Miner’s Picks: Summer 2011 – Leg II (FLAC) Pt.3

Miner’s Picks: Summer 2011 – Leg II (mp3s)

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Miner’s Picks: Denver: Coming Soon…

 

 

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Into the Great Wide Open

Posted in Uncategorized with the tags , , on October 3rd, 2011 by Mr.Miner

6.18.11- Raleigh (John Crouch)

Though Phish jammed on a diversity of songs throughout this past summer, some provided multiple leaps into the wide open and unknown musical pastures. Below are the five most consistently profound jam vehicles of Summer 2011.

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“Down with Disease”

Phish played eleven versions of “Down with Disease” this summer, and nine of them broke free into open jams. Several renditions became highlights of the season with Clarkston’s epic excursion leading the pack. DTE’s 20-minute “Disease Supreme” took the cake for the version of summer, but other stellar outings included UIC’s exploratory jaunt that touched on so many places before winding into “Twist,” Super Ball’s powerful, groove-laced, then ambient piece that led into “No Quarter,” Camden and Alpharetta’s first-leg psychedelic standouts and Essex’ Junction’s final statement of summer. Nine for eleven—that’s one hell of a batting average. Also featured as an experimental vehicle in Bethel, Tahoe and Denver, one can make a strong case for “Disease” being the jam of the season.

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“Light”

6.3.11 (Michael Stein)

Ever since “Light” burst onto the scene in 2009, the song has consistently pushed the band outside the box. “Conventional jamming” doesn’t exist in “Light” aside from Trey’s atonal solo, and the song’s improvisational canvas is ever-morphing. In eight summer outings, all but two reached completely original galaxies, led—head and shoulders above the rest—by Tahoe’s dark, bass-led adventure. UIC’s version likened an extra-terrestrial encounter, while Denver’s final suite of summer favored delicate and melodic interplay, culminating in the sublime “Disease Reprise.” Super Ball’s “Light” turned into the first blowout version of summer, reaching soulful planes untouched by the song over June. Though Riverbend’s version is not long, the band reaches an ethereal plane that—by all accounts—should have been explored further, though Portsmouth’s version capped the most impressive “Light” of leg one.

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“Rock and Roll”

“Rock and Roll,” the lasting piece of Halloween ’98, not only provided the jam of the year, the era, and one of the best pieces of all-time in the Gorge’s 8.5’s abduction, it also left some other lasting highlights on Summer 2011 as well. Mansfield’s version provided one of the indelibly mind-numbing pieces of Leg I—a jam that holds up to anything from the summer. Charlotte’s “Rock and Roll” blossomed into a deeply soulful excursion that has been overshadowed by the top-shelf “Ghost” that followed, and in these three jams alone, the song produced three tremendous summer highlights. Throw in a very experimental, though not as cohesive, version at Merriweather, and you’ve got half the versions of summer. Others included more rocking outings in Denver (which segued into “Come Together), Essex Junction (which dropped into “Twist”), and PNC’s first-set banger.

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“Waves”

6.11.11 (Brian Ferguson)

Though “Waves” only made it to stage four times this summer, three of them were top-notch highlights. Busting the doors of summer wide open on night one in Bethel, the band deconstructed “Boogie On,” landing in “Waves,” and commencing one of the lasting highlights of the season. Getting into a delicate conversation and then abstract soundscapes, Phish announced their improvisational authority on tour’s opening night. The next version, in Super Ball’s finale, was one of several centerpiece jams in the festival’s most experimental (main stage) set. Moving far into ambient, space harmonies, Phish eventually seeped into a dripping version of “What’s the Use?” And then “Waves” came out in the Element Set as the spark to one summer’s most revered sequences: “Waves -> Undermind -> Steam.” Though the band only played four versions this summer (Merriweather being the other), three turned to absolute gold.

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“Piper”

Always reaching wide-open musical pastures, only four of nine summer versions truly grab my attention—Denver, Hollywood, Merriweather and Raleigh. Denver’s Theremin-laced excursion remains one of my favorite jams of summer, while Hollywood’s psychedelic experiment continues to fly under the radar. The Mid-Atlantic region saw two standout explorations of “Piper,” Merriweather first night spectacle and the lesser-talked about rendition from Walnut Creek. Beyond these top four, Blossom’s version, though succinct,” gets into ambient realms quickly and segues into the only “Lizards” of the summer, and Super Ball’s rendition provided high-speed action that dropped into “Tweezer.” All in all a very solid summer for a song that is synonymous with improvisational adventure.

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Jam of the Day:

Rock and Roll -> Meatstick -> Boogie On” 8.5.11 II

The creme de la creme of Summer 2011.

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Miner’s Picks: Denver’s Finale

Posted in Uncategorized with the tags , , on September 29th, 2011 by Mr.Miner

Official Denver Print (LandLand!)

Two weeks after one of their best stands of the year at UIC, Phish traveled to Denver to put a cherry on top of an already amazing summer. But when the three nights in the Rocky Mountains were over, the band had rearranged the highlights of summer, pushing quite a few more jams onto the top shelf. The momentum started on Memorial Day at Bethel Woods in upstate New York had wound its way through two legs of tour and a mid-summer festival, taboot. And on Labor Day weekend, Phish gave us one more unforgettable experience to celebrate everything that had transpired over the season. What resulted in Denver was the strongest top-to-bottom stand of the year and some of the summer’s hottest musical talking points. Phish hadn’t played six consecutive sets this strong in ages, and they provided the perfect exclamation point to a summer or glory. Below are my favorite jams from Denver and one final sequence from the benefit show in Vermont.

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9.2.11

“Stash” I

After a slow start to the opening night in Denver, “Stash” provided the spark to the “S” show and Phish never looked back.

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“Sneakin’ Sally > Sparks” I

An awesome combination of old-school covers provided the standout sequence of the opening set. A funked out “Sally” turned dirty before winding its way into “Sparks”—the first version since The Cow Palace in Fall ’96

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“Sand” II

A perfect example of how “Sand” has evolved into a full-band jam. In this version, Mike leads much of the way as the band builds to a collective peak.

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9.4.11 - Denver (Michael Stein)

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“Simple > Steam” II

An ambient “Simple” jam bled into the most powerful version of “Steam” to date.

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“Seven Below” II

The most impressive jam of the opening night, Phish moved from an sparkling conversation in groove to the depths of psychedelia.

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“Scents > Slave to the Traffic Light” II

This uplifting combination punctuated the show. Trey reached for the heavens in the peak of “Scents” and with a sublime note that he held for quite some time in “Slave.” The “Slave” is below.

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9.3.11

“Llama” I

The perfect example of Phish’s on-point playing across the board, “Llama” hasn’t sounded like this since last decade.

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9.2.11 (G. Lucas / webcast)

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“Wolfman’s Brother” I

A rousing, set-closing version that moved away from center before returning to the theme.

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“Down with Disease > Tweezer” II

A hot “Disease” built towards “Tweezer” in what seemed to be an epic transition in the making, But the rug was pulled out from underneath and the band started “Tweezer” from the top. And when they did they dropped one of the defining jams of the summer. This version of “Tweezer” featured the most cathartic build in memory before Trey spiraled out of the groove and began an exercise in looping. Dropping a unforgettable melody atop two looped phrases, Trey takes this version to the bank—one of those jams in which Phish achieve musical perfection.

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“Light -> Disease Reprise” II

Deep into the second set, out of the peak of “2001,” Phish unexpectedly dropped into “Light.” Shying from the avant garde, bass led excursions that peppered the second leg, this version favored a melodic canvas in and Trey, and then the band, brought back “Disease” in, perhaps, the most artistic moment of the weekend.

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“Run Like an Antelope” II

One of few “Antelopes” of summer that brought some real fire to the table, this time including “Disease” teases within the jam.

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9.4.11

“Bathtub Gin” I

In this explosive version that bookended summer with Bethel’s standout, Trey put on an absolute guitar clinic. Moving from rhythm lick to rhythm lick, this one is as dirty and as swanky as they come.

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9.3.11 (Michael Stein)

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“Tube” I

It’s great that “Tube” is a highlight again. This compact, yet fully developed, jam is an example of Phish’s modern musical marksmanship.

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“Twist -> Piper > Hood” II

Perhaps my favorite sequence from the entire weekend, the segues are fluid, “Piper” stands out as one of the jams of the weekend, and the “Hood” is the most spectacular version of the summer. Blending modern stacatto soundscapes with an old-school assault on the song’s theme, Phish crafted a hybrid version of “Hood” that oozed victory.

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“Roggae” II

And as a come down from the previous triumvirate, the band played “Roggae.” They opened up the slower piece in the wake of the Gorge’s version, channeling the musical feel of the “Hood” jam that came before.

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“Ghost -> Guy Forget -> Ghost” II

Amidst a high-speed and dancy jam, Trey hit an fierce lick bringing the band into the second-ever appearance of the soundcheck legend “Guy Forget.” A smoking sequence put a perfect cap to a weekend that produced in ways nobody could have expected.

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9.14.2011

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“Carini -> Down with Disease -> Slave” - 9.14, Essex Junction, VT

The standout chunk of the benefit show in Vermont was anchored by the stellar combo of “Carini -> Disease.” “Carini” built into something far more significant than we’d seen since last fall, and “Slave” brought a light to the darkening “Disease jam.

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The Philler: Denver and Vermont Wrap (interview starts at 50:07)

The Philler – Episode Six – The Phlood by The Sloping Companion on Mixcloud

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Miner’s Picks: Summer Leg II

Posted in Uncategorized with the tags , , on September 27th, 2011 by Mr.Miner

"Rock and Roll" - 8.5.11 - The Gorge (Graham Lucas)

Phish was riding high from a standout June tour and phenomenal festival when the hit the road for their second leg of summer. Beginning at the West Coast musical shrine of the Gorge, things started on an incredibly high note. From night one of tour we saw Phish integrate their newest abstract style of “storage jamming” into their live shows. Throwing down a seminal piece of modern-generation Phish on the first night of tour in “Rock and Roll -> Meatstick” things were off and running in a hurry. Pushing forward in their stylistic reinvention, the band incorporated this new-style psychedelia into all of their shows, even if only in small spots. The band was moving forward again, and there was no looking back. Following the night of insanity at the Gorge came the LA “Piper,” Tahoe’s “Light” and “Ghost,” UIC’s “Elements Set” of 8.15 and the next night’s “Down With Disease.” The band was comfortable taking massive musical risks again, and more often than not they were succeeding with flying colors. On a tour that lasted only two weeks, Phish still managed to crank out quite a few highlights. Capped at UIC by the only indoor stand of the summer, Phish’s second leg like it passed in a blink…but the music remains. My favorite pieces from Leg Two are below.

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“Roggae” - 8.5 I, Quincy, WA

The laid-back, West Coast psychedelic vibe took hold right away at the Gorge, sinking in deeply with this surreal sunset version of “Roggae.”

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“Rock and Roll -> Meatstick -> Boogie On” - 8.5 II

The jam of the year and, perhaps, the defining musical sequence of the modern era. Page’s Theremin was re-introduced in the live setting after the band’s groundbreaking Storage Jam, bringing new sounds into the mix while facilitating a new style of abstract jamming.

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“Farmhouse” - 8.5 II

“Oh snap! Did Miner just drop a “Farmhouse” on his picks?!” Indeed, I did. The cosmic energy from the previous 50 minutes spilled over into a beautifully reflective version of Phish’s ballad.

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“Wolfman’s -> Maze” - 8.6 I, Quincy, WA

Passing through a “Heartbreaker” tease within the monstrous rhythms of the jam, Phish built from this groove-based outing into “Maze,” a combo that cranked up the intensity of the first set.

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8.6.11 (G.Lucas)

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Tweezer > Caspian -> Sand -> Tweezer” - 8.6 II

If wide-open Phish grooves are your thing, this sequence is for you. Featuring an underrated “Tweezer” and my favorite “Sand” from the second leg, this is a can’t miss sequence of dance floor Phish. The “Sand -> Tweezer” is below.

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“Run Like an Antelope” - 8.6 II

Musically recapping most of the set within the song’s intro, Phish finished the job with a “Golden Age” jam in the “Antelope.” A supercharged version in a season that wasn’t necessarily full of them.

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“Tube” - 8.8 I, Hollywood, CA

A powerhouse few minutes from the first set of Hollywood.

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“Piper” - 8.8 II

This standout “Piper” capped a fierce (and underrated) set-opening sequence of “Carini > Crosseyed > Twist” at the Hollywood Bowl, and became the improvisational highlight of the show.

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“David Bowie” - 8.9 I

This rarely-placed, mid-first set “Bowie” anchored a strong opening set in Tahoe with a dark and intricate excursion.

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8.10.11 - Lake Tahoe (John Crouch)

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“Light” - 8.9 II, Stateline, NV

An exploratory, bass led epic that—like the Gorge’s “Rock and Roll”—reached musical places never before touched in the band’s career.

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“Chalk Dust -> Slave” – 8.9 II

Two ripping renditions of classic songs that were tactfully bridged by an delicate breakdown of “Chalk Dust.”

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“Runaway Jim > Ghost” - 8.10 II, Stateline, NV

In my mind, Phish should have rode out the magical plane they found in “Runaway Jim,” but they didn’t. Cutting a potentially stellar jaunt short with “Ghost,” the band took the second piece from rock to storage psychedelia in a version that takes the cake for the best of a weak second leg for the song.

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***

“Wolfman’s Brother” - 8.15 I, Chicago, IL

With a completely original jam all together, this version gets my vote for “Wolfman’s” of the year.

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“Reba” - 8.15 I

Riding the cresting momentum of the first set, this “Reba” hit the spot at UIC.

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UIC Pavilion (Chad Smith)

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“Sand > Light > Dirt” - 8.15 II

The beginning combo of the “Elements Set,” a standout segment that has been overshadowed by the latter par of the frame. Phish took another dive into original, abstract, and intergalactic realms in “Light.”

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“Waves -> Undermind > Steam” - 8.15 II

One of the most compelling jam sequences of the second leg, Page broke out his Theremin again for a spiritual soiree at towards the end of “Undermind.”

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“Harry Hood” - 8.15 E

The exalting exclamation point on a remarkble night in Chicago, and the best “Hood” of the summer that wasn’t played in Colorado.

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***

“Chalk Dust Torture” - 8.16 I, Chicago, IL

A third-song scorcher from UIC’s second show.

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“Limb by Limb” - 8.16 I

Taken into plinkofied planes, this first set “Limb” came as a surprise and delightful highlight of its set.

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***

8.9.10 - Lake Tahoe (John Crouch)

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“Down with Disease -> Twist” - 8.16 II

This exploratory “Disease” touches on countless places, though settles in few; a post-hiatus style jam without the opiates. A smooth transition into “Twist” capped a wild ride.

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“Bathtub Gin” - 8.17 I, Chicago , IL

A cathartic musical farewell, albeit for only a couple weeks.

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“Crosseyed > No Quarter” - 8.17 II

The only sequence really worth including from a fun, but musically anti-climactic final set of tour.

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Miner’s Picks: Super Ball

Posted in Uncategorized with the tags , , , on September 26th, 2011 by Mr.Miner

7.2.11 - Super Ball (Graham Lucas)

As fans populated Watkins Glen International in central New York for July 4th weekend, something significant was coming back together. Though Festival 8 on the West Coast was blissful in 2009, Super Ball—two years later—represented the true return of the Phish festival. With art installations of the like we hadn’t seen since IT in 2003, the look and feel of Super Ball brought us back to the carefree memories crafted so many years ago. Though smaller in scope, the Northeastern “home turf” feel was back and an intimate feel permeated the weekend. With a spectacular late-night set (a facet of the Phish festival absent at Indio) and concert grounds that were open virtually all day long, an event like this had been waiting in the wings since the band’s return.

_

With the return of such a classic atmosphere, Phish played marathon sets all weekend long, cranking out all sorts of standout music. After the psychedelic high point of the festival in Saturday’s late-night “Storage Jam,” Phish concluded the weekend with one of its strongest two-set efforts of the entire summer on Sunday. All in all, Super Ball brought back a tradition that had been absent for eight years, and featured highlights galore. My favorite jams of the festival are below, most with audio accompaniment.

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“The Moma Dance” – 7.1 I

This standout version from Super Ball illustrates the renewed swagger that “The Moma Dance” discovered this summer.

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“Wolfman’s Brother” - 7.1 I

While many “Wolfman’s” veered off the funked-up course this summer, this version in Super Ball’s opening set got the dance floor hopping with ferocious set of gooey grooves.

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“Crosseyed -> Chalk Dust” - 7.1 II

With an ambient focus on both its intro and outro, “Crosseyed” offered far more than vicious textures in a first-night highlight.

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“Sand” - 7.1 II

There’s nothing like a festi-sized groove-fest with the summer’s hottest rhythmic juggernaut.

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***

7.2.11 - Super Ball (Graham Lucas)

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“Simple > Bug” - 7.1 II

“Simple” provided the most exploratory and impressive piece on the festival’s first night, and one of the more psychedelic passages of the entire weekend.

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“Monkey Man” - 7.2 I

This out-of-left-field Stones cover that capped a miserably hot and uneventful afternoon set is far more fun to listen to without the sweltering temperatures.

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***

“Stash” - 7.2 II

This hard-edged and rhythmically divergent rendition provided one of the few engaging pieces of its set.

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“Golden Age > Caspian -> Piper > Tweezer” - 7.2 III

Here is the stellar third-set sequence that pushed Super Ball to the next level for the duration. The most developed “Golden Age” jam to date gave way to an unconventional “Caspian,” creative “Piper,” and a crunchy, festival-sized “Tweezer”—quality Phish through and though.

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"The Storage Jam" (Graham Lucas)

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“The Storage Jam” – 7.2 IV

A transformational, all-improv extravaganza that stole the weekend at Super Ball; this is the stuff of which Phish dreams are made. This innovative experiment sparked a new style of abstract jamming on display throughout leg II. I wrote about the innovative jam session here.

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“Destiny Unbound” – 7.3 I

A super-charged version of “Destiny” in a first set that absolutely killed.

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“Wilson” - 7.3 I

You know Phish is feeling it when they get creative with “Wilson!” A scorching mini-jam featuring a Mind Left Body tease puts this version into the discussion of “best ever.”

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***

“A Song I Heard the Ocean Sing” - 7.3 I

The long-awaited return of this post-hiatus vehicle provided a storage-infused, sunset standout on Super Ball’s final day.

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***

7.2.11 - Super Ball (Graham Lucas)

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“Reba -> David Bowie” - 7.3 I

This old-school combo—one of the most sparkling sequences of the weekend—has become a personal favorite. An absolutely glorious “Reba” bleeds into to an intricate, uptempo and underrated “David Bowie” through an ambient, post-song extension.

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“Down with Disease -> No Quarter” - 7.3 II

An inspiring “Disease” gradually works its way into Led Zeppelin’s “No Quarter,” a version that trumped PNC’s debut.

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“Light” - 7.3 II

One of the most creative jams of the weekend that set up “Light” for a prime-time second half of summer.

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***

“Waves -> What’s the Use?” - 7.3 II

Phish tacked a jam onto “Waves” in three out of the song’s four appearances this summer, and each time the band moved in a very different direction. In Super Ball’s version, they guys drop into deep space before oozing into “What’s the Use?.”

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Miner’s Picks: Summer 2011 Leg I

Posted in Uncategorized with the tags , on September 23rd, 2011 by Mr.Miner

Bethel Woods - (Michael Mesenbourg)

As I sat at my computer yesterday, I pondered how in the world I would come up with “Miner’s Picks” for such an extensive Summer that was strewn with so much spectacular music. Summer 2011 was the first tour of Phish’s Golden Age that truly held up to tours of old. The creativity was back, new jamming styles developed, and Phish pushed the improvisational envelope like never before since their return. Back in 2009, many fans doubted if the band would ever achieve the heights reached this very summer. In 2011, the band wove timeless music again—music that not only brought us back to a place we once knew, but also brought us forward into spaces yet discovered.

Summer 2011 brought all that and then some. Beginning with the very first show in Bethel on May 27th, things felt different. The band’s confidence and risk-taking was front and center  in a way we had rarely seen through 2009 and 2010. After catching up to speed in the first two years of their return, Bethel began a summer of reinvention—a process we’d been waiting two-plus years to witness and left us with a trail of amazing highlights. Today I will focus on the opening leg of summer tour and list my favorite jams of June in chronological order. (Many selections have audio accompaniment, as it is Friday and all…)

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“Kill Devil Falls” - 5.27 I, Bethel, NY

In the very first set of tour, one of my least favorite Phish songs blew up into, perhaps, the best version ever. Putting an improvisational focus on the usually rock-based piece illustrated the band’s willingness to take their music to unconventional places.

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“Boogie On -> Waves > Caspian > Crosseyed” - 5.27 II

With this segment of unwavering psychedelia, Phish officially announced “Game on!” for Summer 2011.”Waves” remains one of  my favorite jams of summer.

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“Cities” – 5.28 I, Bethel, NY

In this first-set version, Trey layers a well-phrased and snarlng solo over the whole-band funk—the spark of a standout show.

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“Halley’s Comet > Runaway Jim” - 5.28 I

The jam that everyone had been waiting for—the return of “Halley’s Comet”—rolled out in dramatic fashion, as the band crafted one of my top jams of summer with a prowess and focus applied to the song unseen in ages. This “Halley’s” stands on the top-shelf of summer offerings, and then bled into the reinvention of “Runaway Jim” with the debut of its new “plinko” section. This combo left fans wide-eyed and wondering what type of musical steroids the band was on.

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“Bathtub Gin -> Manteca -> Gin” - 5.28 I

Official Bethel Print (Stout)

And just when this first set couldn’t get any better, the band dropped a jam that stood out as brightly as any in the entire show. Closing the frame with a groove-centric “Bathtub Gin” that built into a full-blown “Manteca” and then back into the “Gin’s,” Phish absolutely tore the summer wide open with a version that had the venue buzzing at setbreak.

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“Backwards Down the Number Line” - 5.28 II

Though the entire second set stood out in context, as we moved through the entire summer, this is the piece that deserves the most attention. In a summer where “Number Line” didn’t entail much adventure, this morphing version (that still doesn’t totally depart from the theme) contains a meditative musical conversation that shines above most other summer versions.

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“After Midnight” -5.31 II, Holmdel, NJ

To open the main event of the first post-Bethel show, Phish employed “After Midnight” as a jam vehicle for the first time since Big Cypress’ sacred reprise of the song in the wee hours of the morning. And when they did, they spun a groove-based-then-melodic gem that showed us Bethel’s jams were no anomaly

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“Drowned” - 5.31 II

If “After Midnight” set the improvisational tone for the second set, Phish used “Drowned” to take it much further. Passing through gorgeous and abstract realms of sound, the only version of summer was a highlight for the season.

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“Down with Disease -> Fluffhead > Bowie” - 6.3 II, Clarkston, MI

One of the most compelling segments of music in the entire summer. the opening leg, I think we’ve been here before.

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“Sneakin’ Sally through the Alley” - 6.4 II, Cuyahoga Falls, OH

Hyper-funk turned-dissonant psychedelia—the standout jam in a very popular show.

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“Tweezer” - 6.5 II, Cincinatti, OH

Though Phish wasn’t too kind to “Tweezer” this summer, they still eked out two stellar versions, and this is the first. Focusing on whole-band groove, the band locks into an infectious jam that seems to have flown way under the radar this summer. The antithesis of Denver’s melodic mind-meld, this version gets downright dirty on the dance floor.

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6.18.10 - Raleigh, NC (John Crouch)

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“You Enjoy Myself” – 6.5 II

This summer “YEM” became a “rarity.” Appearing only 4 times over 34 shows, this version from Cincinnati is the unquestionable champion. Departing from generic “YEM”-funk, the band closed a dark-horse two-setter with a sparkling rendition of their classic.

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“Rock and Roll” - 6.7 II, Mansfield, MA

An improvisational monster—one of the most impressive pieces of June. I wrote about it here.

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“Golden Age > Mike’s > Fast Enough > Weekapaug” – 6.8 II, Darien Lake, NY

The opening sequence of Darien Lake deserves a place on this list. The first quasi-jammed out “Golden Age” was backed by one of the strongest “Weekapaugs” of the summer. “Mike’s” is still missing in action, a nostalgic shell of its former self.

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“2001 > Harry Hood” - 6.8 II

In a show focused on groove for most of the second set, this combo fit this theme quite well. The most impressive “2001” of the season included prominent “Golden Age” and “What’s the Use?” sections, creating a mash-up of aural delight. The “Hood” departed from its normally intricate rhythms as Fishman caught a groove and band went with it in a divergent and interesting rendition.

***

“Stash” - 6.10 I, Camden, NJ

This mid-first set version stood out as one of the strongest pieces from Phish’s 2011 visit to Camden. Though never veering far from the theme, the band, nonetheless, engaged in an intricate and extensive exploration through the song’s darkness.

***

“The Curtain With” - 6.10 I, Camden, NJ

Phish closed the set with this cathartic masterpiece. Playing as a single entity, the band reached mind-bending realms of musical cooperation, resulting in a piece a version that needs to be heard to be believed. Truly awesome.

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***

“Down with Disease > Free” - 6.10 II

This two-song combination seemed to be a single song for the beginning part of the summer, but I’m not sure any of the early-tour “Diseases” that weren’t played in Michigan plunged the depths of this one—a huge momentum builder to kick off the second set. Growling and uncompressed Trey came out to play as the band got serious in New Jersey.

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***

6.11.11 - Columbia, MD (Brian Ferguson)

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“Piper -> Velvet Sea” - 6.11 II, Columbia, MD

This “Piper” brought the most intriguing jam in a set that traveled a little bit of everywhere. Within an improvisationally-light two night stand, this excursion stands out as one of the most impressive at Merriweather.

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“Wolfman’s -> Boogie On” - 6.12 I, Columbia, MD

Getting creative in both halves of this funkified combo, Phish would place its most significant jam sequence of the night in the opening set on this evening.

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“Light Up or Leave Me Alone” - 6.14 I, Alpharetta, GA

Page and Trey absolutely tear it up in this always welcome bust-out and no-brainer highlight of Alpharetta.

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“Down with Disease > Maze” - 6.14 II

This sequence opened Alpharetta’s second set in style, as “Disease” found ambient musical textures and “Maze” brought the experimentation to a blistering head.

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“Rock and Roll > Ghost” – 6.17 II, Charlotte, NC

One of the most enduring sequences of the opening leg featured two exploratory excursions in a row, and—by far—the “Ghost” of the summer.

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***

6.12.11 - Columbia, MD (Moshe Cohen)

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“Reba” - 6.17 II

Out of nowhere, the band dropped into this second-set “Reba.” Feeling the flow following the set-opening “Rock and Roll > Ghost,” the band slayed a jaw-dropping rendition that peaked for what seemed like ten minutes.

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“Split Open and Melt” - 6.18 I, Raleigh, NC

Phish got deep in this late-second setter, descending into a sinister sonic dungeon and saving a piece-meal set that had started to fizzle.

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***

“Slave to the Traffic Light” - 6.19 II, Portsmouth, VA

The resolution of a set-opening combo of “Crosseyed > Walls,” this version of “Slave” bled a purity and a majesty that I’m not sure was touched by any other outing this summer. On the closing night of June, Phish left us with an nugget of soulful magic for the break.

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***

“Sand” - 6.19 II

Though Phish crushed every single “Sand” of summer, this version brought leg one’s jazzier versions to a head. Standing out from the pack, this jam moves away from its traditional contours into some unadulterated funkscapes. The band is locked into some experimental and next-level grooves that just might put this version over the edge as the “Sand”of summer. Add some addictive stop/start jamming and a “Sand” reprise to the mix and we just might have a winner.

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***

“Light > Number Line” - 6.19 II

This compact versions of “Light” that came late in tour’s final show, reached some musical depth for one of few times in leg one. With this version, however, the band warmed up the gears of the traditionally intergalactic vehicle for a monstrous second half of summer. The band even displays some musical forethought before moving into “Number Line,” making the always-choppy transition far less so than usual.

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Summer Memories

Posted in Uncategorized with the tags , on September 21st, 2011 by Mr.Miner

“Steam” 8.15.11 – UIC Pavilion

This version of “Steam” came at the tail end of the “Elements Set” on the first night of UIC. Serving as a landing point for the other-worldly excursion of “Waves -> Undermind,” Phish didn’t let up as they tore through a growling, indoor version. The song choice, while fitting in with the theme of the set, also fit in with the theme of the show—sweltering heat and humidity due to air conditioner malfunctions. This was the final piece of Phish before a quick cover of “Fire” capped one of the sets of the summer. (by The Qunnski)

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“Carini” 9.14.11 – Essex Junction, VT

This officially-released clip of “Carini” highlights the unquestionable highlight of the Vermont benefit in Essex Junction. After a transformation into a jam vehicle last fall, “Carini” took a back seat to several other centerpiece jams this summer, but when they kicked off the final set of summer with the crowd favorite, they crafted a seasonal highlight. Moving through heavy darkness into spiritual, guitar-led transcendence, and then onto a whole-band melodic mind meld, this piece (combined with “Disease” and “Slave”) provided the final top-shelf jam sequence of the summer.

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“Disease jam -> Twist” 8.15.11 – UIC Pavilion

This clip picks up the band as they are in the final stages of an uber-exploratory “Down with Disease,” kicking off the fourth set at UIC. The band is still hitting at full throttle at the beginning of this video, and gradually slow down into ambient pastures, eventually crafting a mellow, but artistic, segue into “Twist.” A lively conversation in this “Twist” jam sees the entire band cooperate by leaving plenty of space for each other to respond. Each band member shines at different points in this thematic jam that punctuated the opening segment of the set.

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“Drowned” 5.31.11 – PNC

This is a throwback to the first week of summer, and PNC’s first show after Bethel’s three-night blowout. In this dark-horse summer highlight, the band moves far beyond the traditional rock textures of “Drowned” into a deranged and ambient spacescape—a brick in the musical path that led the band into the late-night storage shed experiment at Super Ball. Drifting into more abstract realms, first harnessed by melody and then totally devoid of it, Phish dipped deep into the cosmic sea of sound on this night in Holmdel. Launching into the spiritual stratosphere with the only “Drowned” of summer, this version is a psychedelic diamond in the rough.

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Portraits of Vermont

Posted in Uncategorized with the tags , on September 17th, 2011 by Mr.Miner

9.14.11 - Essex Junction, VT (Michael Stein)

*****

9.14.11 (Michael Stein)

*****

9.14.11 (Michael Stein)

*****

9.14.11 (Michael Stein)

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