Moments In a Box: Jams of June I

Posted in Uncategorized with the tags , , , on July 18th, 2011 by Mr.Miner

6.8.2011 Darien Lake (Craig Carson)

Following last Friday’s ten tunes that were focused on some of the outstanding improvisational passages from June, today let’s look at some other stellar jaunts from the month. With so much amazing music from June and Super Ball, some of the deeper cuts of leg one just might get lost in the shuffle. These selections, all coming from second sets, have other jams in the same frame that overshadow them (except “Steam”), so let’s take a moment to give these jams their propers.

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2001” 6.8 II, Darien Center, NY

6.8.11 (C.Carson)

When Phish dropped into this “2001” within a set of heavy grooves, nobody expected what was to follow. Though always fun to hear, despite a few select versions, “2001” hasn’t exactly been the jump off during this era, but that all changed this time around. Weaving the rhythm of “Golden Age” throughout the opening segment, the band infused the space-funk with added zest while a palpable energy filled the pavilion. Following the first theme, the band continued to play with “Golden Age” within the grooves before Trey decided to throw a “What’s the Use?” tease into the mix. Picking up on this idea immediately, the entire band hopped onboard and got into some of one of the coolest segments of “2001” we’ve heard in a while.

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Reba” 6.17 II, Charlotte, NC

6.17.11 (E.Battuello)

After dropping a tour-defining jam combo in “Rock and Roll > Ghost” at the beginning of this set, the band took a small exhale in “Free” before launching into the first second-set “Reba” since Knoxville ’09 (and before that, Allstate 2000). Obviously feeling it, the band attacked one of their most complex compositions and blissful jams with fury. And they absolutely slaughtered IT. Precisely cruising through the fugue, the band splashed into the cathartic groove with fierce intent. Standing out with superb full-band interplay and an unrelenting peak, this is one of the top-shelf versions of the modern era.

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Steam” 6.12 II, Columbia, MD

6.12.11 "Steam" M.Hoyt)

After debuting “Steam”—the only new song of tour—in Cleveland, the band broke it out for the only other time of June at Merriweather Post Pavilion. Slightly altered and more complete than it’s Blossom predecessor, this rendition featured lyrical refrains as the band drifted into the jam, and a hell of a lot of “steam!” Word has it that the band actually mic’ed Kuroda’s onstage smoke machines to get make the “steam” sound so authentic—a new level of particpation for CK5. Anyway you cut it, this sinister groove is going to be a monster, and to be honest, its hard to believe that the band didn’t throw down a festival-sized version at Watkins Glen. Leg two awaits…

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YEM” 6.5 II, Cincinatti, OH

6.14.11 (J.Crouch)

All of a sudden, in 2011, “You Enjoy Myself” has become a rarity! Only appearing three times in 21 shows, this version that closed Cincy gets my nod for Leg One’s gold medal. Veering the band away from “YEM’s” classic theme, Trey infused divergent leads into the mix and the band followed his direction. One of the most creative renditions in recent memory, this “YEM” contains a whole lot more than a bit of funk.

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Equitable Exchanges

Posted in Uncategorized with the tags , on June 20th, 2011 by Mr.Miner

6.18.11 (John Crouch)

Phish punctuated their opening leg of summer with a tour-closing show at nTelos Pavilion that displayed musical dominance from beginning to end. Everything the band touched turned to gold last night, as they greeted the intimate audience with a plethora of four-part conversations in a show whose improvisational creativity and quality song selection never stopped. Finishing tour with a stellar three-night finale, the band left everyone in Portsmouth, Virginia, with a night of top-level playing and outstanding exchanges in a show that flowed beautifully from start to finish.

Official Portsmouth Print (Pollock)

As the band took the stage for the final time in June, they dropped a bomb, opening with “Harpua” for the first time since the 10.20.89! It turned out that the elusive bustout was a vehicle to bring the band’s four fathers on stage for Father’s Day in the most comedic fashion. When the song reached its classic narrative between Jimmy and his father about the fate of his cat, Posternutbag, one by one, each of the band member’s fathers came onstage to narrate part of the conversation. Dr. Jack McConnell delivered the line of the night altering the climactic lyric to the deadpan “Your, goddamn cat died.” A quality start to a special evening, the familial opening continued with the third consecutive Father’s Day version of “Brother,” each time featuring the band member’s kids jumping in a tub with each other while the band played—and laughed—behind them.

But when the family fun concluded, the band got musically serious very quickly with a shredding exploration of “Down With Disease.” Taking the jam for its only first-set ride of tour, the band pushed the song into an adrenalized jam that included creative tangents within. Setting the tone of full-band interplay early on in the night with “Disease, the next no-brainer highlight of the set came a couple songs later in “Timber Ho.” A song that has popped off the stage each time the band has played it this summer, did so once again in one of its most creative outings of tour. Trey laid back allowing Mike and Page direct the onset of the jam, joining in later with refined and meticulous phrasing. Transforming the piece into a completely equitable conversation—something that took place all night long—the band was clearly listening to each other and responding efficiently, gathering musical momentum by the moment.

6.18.11 (John Crouch)

Following the danceable duo of “Wedge” and a particularly gooey “Moma Dance,” Phish debuted Bruce Springsteen’s “Thunder Road”—a song that graced so many of my high school mix tapes—in honor of The E Street Band’s saxophonist, Clarence Clemmons, who passed away the previous day. Though admittedly a bit shaky on the song, Trey told the audience they had quickly learned it out of love—and to be honest—I thought it was an amazing and emotional moment for Trey and so many of us that grew up listening to the Big Man’s passionate playing. Closing the set with “Tube,” “Alaska,” and “David Bowie,” the standout of the three emerged in the patient, four-minded exchange of the set-closer. Page stood out within this “Bowie” while helping steer course of the jam—a trend of recent days as his playing has been at the top of his game. The band’s attentiveness was again on display as they echoed, responded to, and danced around each other’s ideas with marksman-like precision. Typical of the many improvisational passages throughout the show, the band collaborated in the truest sense of the word during “Bowie,” sculpting one of several equitable excursions.

6.18.11 (J.Crouch)

And this type of jamming picked right back up after setbreak as Phish dropped into their third “Crosseyed” of June. This time, however, once the band annihilated the composed grooves of the song like a one-brained assassin, they pushed right beyond them, forging original territory that moved from aggressive playing into a darker experiment. Lingering in the jam’s sonic fallout, the band floated through space into “Walls of the Cave.” In centering the Round Room song in the second set for the first time since the post-hiatus era, Phish not added spice to their setlist, they also infused its jam with creativity for the first time in ages. Without leaving the “Silent Trees” textures, Trey played diverse leads over the driving rhythmic pocket as Page complimented him quite well on piano for the duration. A more honest conversation than the song’s usual guitar wankery, the new-era Phish breathed new life into the post-hiatus song that had turned quite dull by the time 2004 rolled around (with some obvious and notable exceptions.) “Walls” worked great in the second slot last night, and instead of returning to the song’s final lyrical reprise, the band took migrated into an ambient outro that bled beautifully into “Slave.”

Phish’s intimate communication was expressed powerfully in two wholly-divergent second set masterpieces—“Slave” and “Sand.” Touching on the divine and the demonic, though these highlights diverted in feel, they were united by their sublime and selfless jamming. The “Slave” carried a slower tempo than usual, providing each band member plenty of space to articulate his thoughts. What resulted is one of the most patient, emotional and soul-drenched versions of the song that we’ve heard in quite some time. Mike, Page, and Trey led the jam, collectively, and Fishman framed the musical portrait of catharsis. Then, following a “Fluffhead” that worked perfectly well within the set, and featured a gargantuan guitar peak, the band unveiled “Sand”—the show-stopping jam of the night.

6.18.11 (J.Crouch)

If Phish grooves get you off, sit back, crank this and bask in the bliss of this musical crack. Having featured several standout versions of “Sand” this leg, the band punctuated tour with—easily—the song’s most impressive outing of summer. Going utterly ballistic, Phish hopped into a vat of boiling rhythms and came out with one of the most infectious dance sessions of this era. Connecting like they were marionettes controlled by a universal puppeteer, the band played a version that—on playback—resembles a filthy and disgusting joke. Locking into original and cooperative patterns, the guys never hesitated in crafting one of the swankiest joyrides of the season. Trey turned towards distinctly jazzier leads before stepping outside the box with his offerings within the context of a completely original conversation. The band was grooving and they were grooving hard—so much so, that upon the ending of this  next-level jam, the band paused and broke back into the groove they had just left in a move that ignited the crowd into a frenzy.

6.18.11 (J.Crouch)

Slipping into a “Sneakin’ Sally” that moved into “Light” without much of a post-vocal jam, the band kept when the band reached the fork in the road in “Light,” they more than made up for it. Trey veered from his atonal soloing for a more delicate whole-band textures. Allowing their modern-era epic to breathe far more than most versions of summer, last night, the band dropped into a wholly segment of wholly surreal jamming out of “Light.”

The show—and tour—ended on the upbeat trifecta of a delicate “Number Line,” a smoking “Suzy Greenberg” set-closer, and a rocking “Julius” encore. Using these happier songs to resolve a largely ominous set, Phish balanced the tone of their improv well throughout set, and show. Catching fire once again following Alpharetta’s largely contained, webcasted affairs, Phish finished up a spectacular opening leg with three strong shows in a row—a great sign of things to come as we take a quick ten-day break before meeting up again at Watkins Glen. If this summer is going to progress from leg one to leg two in the way Summer of ’09 and ’10 did, boy, are we off to a spectacular start!

I: Harpua, Brother, Down with Disease, Back on the Train, Funky Bitch, Timber, The Wedge, The Moma Dance, Thunder Road*, Tube, Alaska, David Bowie

II: Crosseyed and Painless > Walls of the Cave > Slave to the Traffic Light, Fluffhead, Sand, Sneakin’ Sally through the Alley > Light > Backwards Down the Number Line, Suzy Greenberg

E: Julius

*debut, Bruce Springsteen, dedicated to Clarence Clemmons

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(I’m taking a couple days off to get back to my family. I’ll be back…)

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TTFF: Venues of Summer: Leg One

Posted in Uncategorized with the tags , on May 20th, 2011 by Mr.Miner

6.27.10 Merriweather (Graham Lucas)

As tour awaits, here’s little history to get us prepared for next week…

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Mango -> Free” 9.17.00 II

One of my favorite highlights from Merriweather history; some outlandish music.

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Bathtub Gin” 7.10.99 I

6.25.10 (C. March)

While “Tweezer,” “Birds,” and Chalk Dust” have all drawn their due credit from Phish’s first show in Camden, this “Bathtub Gin” helped craft a stellar opening set.

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Stash” 7.1.95 II SBD

A classic version from one of the final shows of Summer ’95 at Great Woods.

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2001” 7.7.99 II

6.26.10 (G.Lucas)

This Charlotte set-opener, with an extended intro, gets into some a dynamic exercise in space-groove.

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Piper” 8.8.98 SBD

A stellar Summer ’98 version, just as “Piper” was breaking out of its shell.

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Twist -> Slave” 7.4.00 II SBD

6.26.10 (G.Lucas)

This recently released nugget from Camden has been a favorite since I walked out of the show. This new SBD allows you to hear the nuances of this dark-themed interplay in “Twist,” while the “Slave took home the 4th of July.

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Reba” 9.14.2000 I

This “Darien “Reba” takes a brief dip into a dark theme before resolving back into the classic groove.

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PNC - Holmdel, NJ

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Drowned -> Rock and Roll ” 6.29.00 I

A classic, old-western shredfest that capped the first set at PNC 2000.

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“Venues of Summer Vol. I” & Utica Giveaway!

Posted in Uncategorized with the tags , on May 18th, 2011 by Mr.Miner

PNC Bank Arts Center - Holmdel, NJ

As Summer Tour is around the corner, and in the spirit of the new soundboard tracks from the archives that continue to trickle out from “Past Summer Tours,” I decided to combine a compilation of my own with a contest and giveaway. Here’s the deal: in the compilation linked below—”Miner’s Venues of Summer Vol. I”—you’ll find 12 tracks from the history of Leg One venues. Just drop folder into iTunes and the setlist of the compilation will pop-up. But here’s the catch, you won’t see the venues or dates of the selections. Your job is to come up with the correct venue and date for each selection, nothing too hard, and shoot me an email with the subject line “Summer Venue Contest.” All correct responses will be entered to win one of three brand spanking new copies of “Phish: Live In Utica” DVD/CD box set! All winning entries will be put into a hat and the three winners will be drawn at random. You may enter anytime until Sunday at 3pm pacific, and the winners will be announced on Monday! Send your entries to mrminer@phishthoughts.com (FYI: I didn’t get all techie and strip MP3 tags, but just drop the folder in iTunes and play by the honor code. The point is to get as many candidates as possible for the Utica drawing, not to trick anyone.)

Enjoy the Tunes!

MINER’S VENUES OF SUMMER VOL. I < DOWNLOAD HERE!

*****
10.20.2010: “I Saw It Again > Antelope”

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Jam of the Day:

Halley’s -> Roses -> NO2” 7.13.99 I

Here’s a selection from Great Woods history that didn’t make the compilation, but is a retro-summer treat, nonetheless.

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Summer’s Swan Song?

Posted in Uncategorized with the tags on April 11th, 2011 by Mr.Miner

The Gorge '09 (Graham Lucas)

Phish added one more piece to their massive summer puzzle of 2011 yesterday, announcing a dream-like West Coast stint at the beginning of August and a three-pack to follow at Chicago’s UIC Pavilion—a venue rich in Phish history. Totaling 30 shows for the summer at this point, the season’s most recent addition looks to be the most intriguing leg of all. And adding a twist to things, the band worded their announcement ambiguously—they did not state that these would be the final shows of summer, nor did they say that there would be another announcement—leaving many fans wondering if UIC marks the end of the road.

Hollywood Bowl - Los Angeles

Could Red Light possibly wait for another cycle of on-sales to release more dates? Yes. In fact, in response to an email inquiry about any further shows, Red Light respectfully wrote back “We are considering a small amount of dates around Labor Day, but will be a minute before they are confirmed.” Really? Let’s look at the situation here. August’s tour had been rumored to travel back to the East Coast, hitting venues such as Hartford, SPAC and Jones Beach. But with a supersaturation of Northeast Phish shows this summer, and only one of them sold out, perhaps management nipped those in the bud and replaced them with a Labor Day run. Perhaps Labor day will be in Colorado. But let’s throw speculation out the window for now and look at what is officially on the books, because this run looks to be the peak of the summer!

After one year off, the band will return to The Gorge on August 5th and 6th to kick off the second leg of Summer Tour. Opening up on the most stunning stage of in nation, get ready for two nights of wide-open Phish jams like only The Gorge can provide! After a quick day off, on August 8th Phish will finally play the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles for the first time in their career after years of ongoing rumors. With a capacity of 17,376 (and The Gorge’s 20,000+), nobody should have any problems finding tickets to the first three nights of tour. But the next couple might be different.

Harvey's - Lake Tahoe

Fans will hit the road immediately after the Hollywood Bowl show, because the very next day Phish will arrive in Lake Tahoe on the California / Nevada border for a two-night stand at Harvey’s Casino make-shift 7,000 person amphitheatre on August 9th and 10th. Located in a leftover parking lot with bleacher seating at the back, Harvey’s Outdoor Amphitheatre may prove to be a bit more difficult to grab tickets for. Though the venue, itself, may be a bit roughshod, Phish will visit another beacon of West Coast nature in Lake Tahoe, and fans will enjoy two days in mountains with rental properties and hotels on the lake during a spectacular time of year.

Following another day off, Phish will head from Tahoe to San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park to headline the city’s Outside Lands festival on Friday, August 12th. Headlining the other two nights will be Muse and Arcade Fire, and though the schedule has yet to be released, you can check out the full lineup here. And there’s still rumor floating that the band will also play a solo show at the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium in San Francisco the following night.

UIC '98 (Pollock)

Phish may bookend a summer that will open with three shows at Bethel Woods with three shows at UIC Pavilion in Chicago. These shows will mark the band’s first return to UIC’s intimate environs since a legendary three-night stand during Fall ’98. Phish also played two standout shows at UIC  in 1994—6.18 and 11.25—and will undoubtedly add to their legacy with a three-pack that could close out the touring season. Moving into Chicago’s gritty, undersized venue for the final nights of summer with a tour’s worth of momentum is the recipe for the perfect storm; an end-of-tour blowout of the highest degree.

Tickets requests are now open for an unusually long, two-week period ending April 25 at 11:59 am est. The Gorge and Tahoe are full General Admission shows and cost only $50 each. The Hollywood Bowl has tiered pricing at $60 and $45 for reserved seating only, and UIC will be $60 for reserved seats or GA floor.

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Jam of the Day:

Sneakin’ Sally” 8.7.09 II

A gem from Phish’s last visit to The Gorge.

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DOWNLOAD OF THE DAY:

11.7.98 UIC Pavilion, Chicago, Illinois

FLAC Torrent (via etree), Megaupload < Links

UIC 1998

My favorite of the three nights in ’98, primarily because of the other-wordly improvisation that took place within “AC/DC Bag > Ghost.” Secondary reasons include a blissful, classic “Reba” and a darkhorse “Mike’s that gets the show underway with some dirty funk grooves. During an awesome fall tour, the shows at UIC were among the best, and they are all available for download in Phish Thoughts’ Audio Archive.

I. My Soul, Mike’s Song > Driver, Brian and Robert, The Wedge, Limb By Limb, Fikus, Billy Breathes, Beauty of My Dreams, Weekapaug Groove

II. AC/DC Bag -> Ghost, Reba, Farmhouse

E: Guyute, While My Guitar Gently Weeps

Source: Flacs: Audio Technica 815 (shotguns) > Sony SBM-1 > DAT (@ 48 kHz), MP3s: Schoeps

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