What a Week It Was!

Posted in Uncategorized with the tags on November 18th, 2008 by Mr.Miner

Sitting amidst the ongoing anniversary of one of Phish’s most revered tours, I can not help but broach the topic of Fall ’97.  A tour that featured too many outlandish highlights to list or describe, this month-long run remains a defining point in the band’s career.  Always revered for its infectious funk jams, Fall ’97 was so much more.  Some of the most impressive and psychedelic jams the band has ever played are lifted from this month long trek of musical nirvana.

Fall '97 Pass

Fall' 97 Pass

Yet, as we zoom in closer, we are amidst an even more impressive anniversary within the same tour.  The week-long stretch of 11.17 to 11.23 can make a strong case for the greatest week of Phish ever.  Beginning in Denver and ending in Winston-Salem, this seven day stretch represented the band at the top if their game, and contained many jams that deserve their own plaque in Phish’s Hall of Fame.  These shows are household names- Denver, Champaign, and Hampton ’97- hero’s from an age gone by.  Although sandwiched by continuous standout shows, when looking back over this epic week of music, the memories still leave the jaw resting comfortably on the floor below.

(11.16 &) 11.17: McNichols Arena, Denver, CO

Hot off the heels of their first visit to the E Center in Salt Lake City, Phish arrived in the Rocky Mountain State for two nights that would become forever immortalized.  The first night of this stand featured an impressive second set with the improvised opener of “Timber Ho!” that morphed into a vastly different musical palate favoring melody over darkness, before twisting into the crowd-favorite “Simple.”  A twenty-minute intense and inspiring Hood provided the other true highlight of the evening before they dusted off “David Bowie” as an encore for its first appearance of  the fall.

1997-11-17moBut whenever the term “Denver ’97” gets mentioned, visions of Tweezers and Ghosts begin to twirl in our heads.  While the first night was a great Phish show, the second night was one of legend.  When all was said and done, it would be the “Ghost” from first set of 11.17 that the band would incessantly listen to on their tour bus for the rest of the run, the show from 11.17 would be released as LIVE PHISH 11, and the sublime jamming throughout the night that would be talked about by fans forever.

phlive11Before the crowd even had a chance to get settled, Phish was dropping one of the best Tweezers of a Tweezer-heavy tour.  Opening the show, this funk odyssey grew into some certifiable Fall ’97 Phish crack.  As the grooves ended, the opening of “Reba” began.  “Tweezer, Reba?!”- that’s one way to open a show!  As the fugue opened the gates for the flood of colorful groove, the crowd soon found themselves floating in another huge Phish jam.  Quickly developing into an absurd first set, a mere breath of “Trainsong” gave way to the career-highlight version of “Ghost.”  The first fall appearance of the new Phish jam vehicle proved to be the one that Phish had been waiting to play since the song’s inception.  Transcending the raw Cow Funk that typified its summer incarnations, this “Ghost” took off into driving dance textures, fusing melody, harmony, and groove in a way the band had never done before, and rarely since.  This jam featured virtuoso playing by all four members, and truly created a whole greater than the sum of its parts.  This “Ghost” is characterized by the simultaneous and symbiotic combination of to-die-for groove and spiritual cathartic release.  Add some of Trey’s most inspired playing into the mix, and you’ve got one for the record books.  A legend in its own time, the Denver ’97 “Ghost” will properly put any pretenders to rest.

Barry Brecheisen

photo: Barry Brecheisen

And that’s all the first set!  Set break gave way to a unique exploration of uptempo Phish rock rhythms utilizing the random triumvirate of “Down With Disease,” “Olivia’s Pool,” and “Johnny B Goode.”  On a night like this, the band used any song to get directly into the thick of things, and the obvious example would be the jam out of “Johnny B. Goode,” as creative and psychedelic as anything they played all night.  Topping the stand with a monster YEM, the band littered the jam with the disgusting grooves that would soon define the era.

11.19.97 Assembly Hall, Champaign, IL

Assembly Hall, Champaign, IL

Assembly Hall, Champaign, IL

Stopping in the Midwest for one show on the way to Hampton, the magic from Denver was still oozing in Illinois.  The first “Bathtub Gin” of the fall kick started the the show with its second slot placement.  With a gorgeous meshing of piano, guitar, and bass, the band improvised amorphously as one throughout this rendition.  A tour highlight that is often forgotten due the abundance of tour highlights, this Gin’s ocean of vibrant waves eventually breaks down into some funk rhythms before picking up steam and segueing perfectly into “Llama.”  This Phishy juxtaposition of musical feels weighted the first half of the set, while the final combination of Fee > Meatstick > Antelope held down the end.   The band moved into a dreamy jam out of “Fee” in which Trey began to play the vocal melody of “Meatstick” (the song had only been sung once over a chugging jam in Lille, France over the summer).  The band soon hopped on board and played a mini three minute Meatstick jam, complete with barely discernible vocals, before delicately transitioning into a blistering set ending Antelope.

phishdestroysamericaPhish was on fire.  It didn’t matter what set it was, what song they were playing, they could do no wrong this week.  It was as if they were set on cruise control at 120 mph.  Communicating masterfully and effortlessly, the band was having so much fun at this point and it was so obvious.  Each night, each set was another odyssey.  You had to strap your seat belt tight because you simply never knew what was coming.  The new term of Fall ’97 was “four song set” as the band played several second sets of few heavily improvised pieces.  The second set of Champaign would be one of these sets.


photo: sypsyn

Coming out with no ambient build up, Fishman kicked right into the opening of 2001, transforming the venue into a futuristic dance hall for the next twenty minutes.  The first 2001 of such length since the revelation at the Great Went, this version had the perfect tempo to it, creating a wide-open spacescape of Phish grooves.  A personal favorite version, the band was so locked yet loose during this one, they truly nailed the essence of the cover in Champaign.  As this Hall of Fame version climaxed, it led right into another first-ballot inductee in “Wolfman’s Brother.”  Totaling a half-hour of spectacular playing, this version moved from the smoothest funk into more ambient realms before shifting into part two of the jam.  With an aggressive high speed chase through the Phish universe on the magic carpet of a  Crosseyed jam, the second segment of this jam is better suited for warfare then for casual listening.  Existing as some of the deepest and most impressive music to emerge from Wolfman’s in its career, this jam is the type of evidence I present when people claim Fall ’97 was all about the funk.

As the Wolfman’s wound into some slower rhythms, the band seamlessly slid into Makisupa.  An excessively dubbed out version would bring the all-star Phish jamming to a non-stop total of one hour.  While most Makisupas exist as a fun ganja reference with some token reggae rhythms, the band created something much more significant this time around.  Moving from dub into deep space, the band explored the beat-less realm as they created ethereal textures.  A smashing version of “Tatse” ended the set of distinctly “other” type of jamming.  As the crew packed their gear after the show, someone remembered to grab the vat of magic dust from backstage and put it on the bus for Hampton.

11.21 & 11.22 Hampton Coliseum, Hampton, VA

hampton_outsideWhat more can be said about this weekend that hasn’t already been said.  The two shows that stamped the Phish logo on the Mothership would go down as two of the best in the history.  Below is the mini two-night review from the “Tour Stop: Hampton” post:

1997 would be a different story all together.  In the most epic Hampton installment ever, Phish gave a nod to the celestial portal by gracing it with it’s first two-night stand.  It would be over the 21st and 22nd of November that Hampton Coliseum would officially become Phish’s personal playground.  With two shows that were as good as any, on a tour that is sometimes overwhelming with all of its magnificent music, Phish threw down four sets for the ages that still live in legend today.  The first night, the deeper more truly psychedelic performance, gave way to one of the best Phish shows in history on the second night.  With the debut of the Stone’s “Emotional Rescue” to start the stand and jamming into an dark and nasty Split as the second song of the stand- Phish wasted no time in getting to business.  The three-song sequence of Ghost > AC/DC Bag > Slave comprised  the entire second set, less a Loving Cup closer.  This hour plus of straight Phish imrov is some of the most magical to come out of Fall ‘97.  Delving into various styles and textures, this jam sequence was a trek through Phish’s imagination and was brought to fruition by a poignant Slave.  Moving through funk, rock, and straight madness, this set was an archetypal “night one” of a two night stand- going deep with no regard for time or space, playing what comes.  A four song masterpiece, this second set left fans wondering what could possibly come out of the next night.

11.22.97.  The date needs no introduction.  The best Phish dance party ever thrown, a night with more grooves than a 33 rpm record, it is up there with the the band’s elite performances ever.  Starting with a supremely thick Fall ‘97  Mike’s Song, containing full band hints at Black-Eyed Katy, this show was off and running in no time.  Just after the massive Mike’s Groove ended with the last hits of Weekapaug, the rolling reggae intro of Harry Hood began.  Really!?  Now?!  Yes.  Really.  A phenomenal version of Hood left the crowd stunned and speechless for Train Song and Billy Breathes, before the set closed with the rocking combo of Frankenstein, Izabella.  After such an ludicrous first set, the crowd was left aglow, without words to describe what was unfolding.  One of the quietest set breaks ever gave way to one of the loudest sets of the band’s career.

Halley’s > Tweezer > Black Eyed Katy, Piper, Antelope.  The rest is history.  With utter command over the room, the band brought the audience through a clinic of Phish improvisation.  The most delicate and spiritually inspiring moments of the set came toward the end of the “best ever” Halley’s, while the band soon had the entire spaceship bouncing through the quintessential fall swamp funk of ‘97- Tweezer> Katy.  Pure Phish crack.  Not letting up for a second, the blistering combo of Piper, Antelope provided the musical balance to the molasses that had preceded.  Universally regarded as one of the best nights in the twenty years of Phish, you have all heard this one as much as I have.  From that night on, every trip back to Hampton would be significant, and marked on everyone’s calendar.

11.23.97: LJVM Coliseum, Winston-Salem, NC


photo: last.fm

The show after consensus classics are often overlooked, unless they become classics themselves! Having produced an unfathomable amount of standout music over the previous six nights, the seventh had them scheduled to play in Winston-Salem.  With just as much fired up enthusiasm, the band took the stage to follow up what many thought they could not follow up.  While the first frame was more conventional in composition, it did contain the fall’s most bombastic “Black-Eyed Katy,” one of the tour’s best versions of “Stash,” and a late set “Fluffhead,” ta boot.  But the best was yet to come.

072As the band geared up for their eighth set of the week, there seemed to be a limitless pot of inspiration they were drawing from as one majestic piece of music continued to flow right into another.  Seemingly trying to top themselves every single night, Phish set off into a 30+ minute excursion of “Bathtub Gin” that descended into some of the darkest, most psychedelic music all tour. Held cohesively by Fish’s insane break beat work, the band dove into some improvisation that could not have been created on any other night.  One of the most formidable segments from the tour, an argument could easily be made that this Gin was better than anything at Hampton.  Winding into some space improvisation, the band found themselves in the intro of Disease.  Providing a soaring heap of upbeat rock and roll, this jam seemed like a musical celebration of the majesty of the weekend, if not the entire week.  Not finished with their fun, the band masterfully wove their way from Disease into “Low Rider” back into Disease, completing the 50 minute non-stop journey from the beginning of the set.  This sequence symbolically marked the adventurous end of the week that was, as the band went on to close with “Bold As Love” and encore with a ridiculously shredding “Julius.”

As typified by this week of absolute magic, Fall ’97 had a unique sense of excitement and discovery from both the band and their fans as they collectively broke new ground nightly.  With monster jams and mega sets, Phish was improvising with an intensity not seen in almost two years.  While the shows of this historic week, and the tour,  were accented by heroic dosages of refined funk exploits, the tour was similarly characterized by overt psychedelia and abstract exploration.  All of these trends were visible during one of the band’s best weeks of playing in their career, and we celebrate it now, eleven years later.



11.19.97 Assembly Hall, Champaign, IL < LINK (missing Wolfman’s>Makisupa)


The Phish Book

The Phish Book

With the goal of getting this entire week up for download, here is the ridiculous Champaign show.  Denver’s first night was yesterday, and there is no reason to post an AUD of the Live Phish release from 11.17.  The Hampton shows are up on Weekend Nuggets, and I will get the Winston-Salem show up tomorrow.  ’97 doesn’t get much better than this folks.

I: Julius, Bathtub Gin > Llama, Dirt, Limb By Limb, Funky Bitch, Theme From the Bottom, Ginseng Sullivan, Fee > Meatstick > Run Like an Antelope

II: Also Sprach Zarathustra > Wolfman’s Brother* > Makisupa Policeman#, Taste

E: Possum

* “Crosseyed and Painless” jam  #With space jam


11.16.97: A Personal Memoir

Posted in Uncategorized with the tags , on November 17th, 2008 by Mr.Miner

Part of the greatness of Phish tour is that mixed with all the majestic music, there were inevitably absurd episodes and hilarious experiences that live on to this day.  Combine the use of psychedelics, massive crowds of people, and the ambitious mission of getting to every show on time, and you had the recipe for some serious shenanigans.  Each year on the anniversary of that surreal weekend that was Denver ’97, I am always reminded of one such tale.

phish-denver-97The day after the E Center introduced the new concept of the four song second set with “Wolfman’s > Simple, Twist > Slave,” I set out for Denver.  The west coasters I did the first two shows with were headed home, and I was driving to Boulder to stay with a good friend I knew from growing up.  My friend- let’s call him “Leaguer”- was at school in Boulder and decided to come to the shows with me having never seen Phish.  Leaguer was the classic high school stoner- think Slater from Dazed and Confused with curly hair- but never got into any facet of “the scene.”  A sports fan through and through, live music just wasn’t his thing.  But a lover of any good time, it was not hard to convince him to test the waters of the Phish.

In order to fully appreciate this story, you need to fully appreciate Leaguer.  Basically, he is a total clown.  Someone who makes you laugh consistently with his witty and unique humor, he has even spent a stint as a stand up comedian.  He went to school at Boulder more to see the football team than for the mountains.  Distinctly an indoorsman, I’m not sure he ever skied in all his years at Boulder.  He is someone I knew from junior high and high school and was a second younger brother to me.  One of my best friends, the dude is straight comedy, and I was psyched to introduce him to my other world.  With him having now progressed into a hip, weight-lifting New York City metrosexual, we always think back on this night and laugh heartily.


Denver 1997 - photo: nugs.net

We got to the show in time to find him a ticket and chill a bit before going in.  Leaguer had dabbled in psychedelics in his high school years, and we both figured that it would be fun to be elevated for his first Phish experience.  Not knowing their music at all or what he was in for, Leaguer was game- what the heck- you can’t have a bad time on mushrooms. Or so he thought.  We each crafted our one-eighth sandwich and chowed down.  Having just come from Vegas and Utah, I was bursting with enthusiastic anticipation to witness what would unfold over the next two nights.  And Leaguer was just psyched to join the ride.

db_phish41Before stubbing him down to the floor, we picked a spot to meet after the set in the random case that he got booted back to his section.  As we sat in our seats before the show, those eighths were beginning to overwhelmingly engage our minds.  In what seemed like an never-ending flash, the building was full and the lights went down.  I knew that Leaguer, having never been to a show, was nervous about not having a floor stub.  I told him to take my actual seat, as I was going to rage in the aisles.  We both thought that was a perfect plan, since no one would come claim his seat.  So Phish comes out and the show begins. “NICU,” “My Soul” and then boom- the second ever drop of “Black-Eyed Katy.”  As I was going huge, I glanced over at Leaguer and our plan had worked out and the rest of the row had filled in.

I can never quite understand the next event.  As the band chilled out with “Farmhouse,” a mustached security guard came down to clear the aisles on the floor.  As I used my Jedi Phish skills to slide over, pretend not to notice him, and reclaim my space in the aisle, I saw him look down Leaguer’s row.  Maybe Leaguer really looked like he didn’t belong there, because as we were beginning to trip balls and he was doing absolutely nothing, the security shined his light at him and asked him for his ticket.  No one else- just him- like a suspect picked out of a police line up.  As Leaguer visibly panicked, I was helpless to fix the situation.  Just before the guard escorted Leaguer off the floor, I made eye-contact with him, signifying we’d meet at our chosen point at set break.

photo - Antelope

photo: antelope

After a string of random songs ended the set, including two with a guest banjo player, I thought to myself, “Not the best ‘first set ever’ for Leaguer to see.  Apparently I didn’t know the half of it.  As I got to the seats in the lower bowl where we meeting, I spotted him and he didn’t look good.  Contradictorily, I was euphorically faced and ready for what would certainly be a huge second set.  As I approached him, he was clearly bugging- tripping far too hard in a totally foreign, overwhelming environment.  While it’s always fun to teeter, its no fun to fall off the the other side.  As I tried to calm him down, reminding him we were just at a concert on mushrooms, he was completely inconsolable.  I felt bad about the situation at hand, but also knew that he was totally fine in the scheme of things, giving the entire episode a certain comedic aspect.  As he sat there rocking back and forth, he peered up at me more than once asking, “Can we go home now?”  As I laughed at his propositions, he was too enraptured by his maddening world to hear any reason or logic.  The mere fact that it was Leaguer, and he had finally had come to see Phish, just made it the funniest thing to me.

The guys behind us noticed what was happening, and a dreaded hippie reached over and handed him a crystal, saying,”Hold this for a while.  It will help you.”  Without even knowing it, Leaguer grabbed it and continued rocking back and forth, desperately trying to gain control of an uncontrollable situation.  After a few minutes of my attempting to bring him back, he looked at the crystal in his hand with disdain and exclaimed, “What the fuck is this?” and handed it over to me knowing not where it came from.

tripping_ballsObviously staying with him for the second set, I settled in to watch from the seats.  Nothing i said could convince Leaguer that what was about to happen was going to change his reality into an Edenic state.  As the lights went down, I hopped into the aisle, and Leaguer stayed rocking in his seat as they opened up with “Timber Ho!.”  Transcending the song’s darker territory, the band took the music out into a blissfully symphonic place of melody and harmony- but it didn’t pull Leaguer out of his seat.  The roar of the crowd as the jam creatively segued into “Simple” caught his attention and he stood up for the first time since I’d seen him.  Remaining standing, he leaned over to me in the middle of the “Simple” jam, again asking if we could leave yet. I explained to him that we’d go home when the show was over, and that he should try to focus on the music.  Unable to focus on anything at all, he continued on in his discombobulated state.

Meanwhile, the band was creating a magnificent second set that would see a mid-set “Wilson”give way to a powerful, magical and driving twenty-minute “Harry Hood.”  As heavenly hallucinations flooded my mind, this set had me hooked, I was in the music and it was paradise.  Following the brilliant peak of the Hood jam, the band ended with the set with the screaming Hendrix textures of “Izabella.”  I am pretty sure that I saw Leaguer calming down for at least a few seconds during this one.

photo - wergert

photo: wergert

After the set, he still was out of sorts.  Explaining that there was only one more song, he dug in to make it through a huge and rare Bowie encore.  About halfway into the extended Bowie jam, Leaguer tapped me on the shoulder, pulling me out of my subconscious state.  He looked at me and said, “This is pretty good!”  Bursting with laughter, I gave him a nod and he ironically enjoyed and swayed to the second half of the jam.

As we drove the short way back to Boulder, Leaguer reclaimed his former identity and we discussed the events of the evening.  Confirming that he missed a really good show and laughing about everything, but mostly his reaction to the crystal, he kept saying that he couldn’t believe the amount of energy there was in the arena.  Having been to every sporting event in the book, he said it was incomparable.  Unfortunately, he decided to skip the next night, and never made it back to the Phish.  As I said before, it just wasn’t his thing.  But he will never forget his one Phishy evening in McNichols Arena.

Share your own absurdities in Comments below!



11.16.97 McNichols Arena, Denver, CO < LINK

McNichols Arena, Denver, CO

McNichols Arena, Denver, CO

The “other” Denver show, as the next night would become historic- this second set is a dark horse of Fall ’97.  It is outstanding.  Check it out.

I: NICU, My Soul, Black-Eyed Katy, Farmhouse, The Old Home Place, Billy Breathes, Cars Trucks Buses, Scent of a Mule*,  Poor Heart*, Taste, Hello My Baby

II: Timber Ho! > Simple, Wilson > Harry Hood, Izabella

E: David Bowie

*With Pete Wernick, aka “Dr. Banjo” on banjo

Tags: ,

Weekend Nuggets

Posted in Uncategorized with the tags on November 15th, 2008 by Mr.Miner


7.13.94 Big Birch Pavilion, Patterson, NY MATRIX < LINK

phishsing-500A well known and wild show, this one has a little bit of everything.  A solid first set of songs opened the floodgates for a classic set two segue-fest.  Playing Cavern while singing Wilson, this opening segment is as famous as it is disorienting.  Giving way to a daring mid set Tweezer, mixed with multiple songs, this one keeps hitting with punches you never saw coming.  With a grand Slave to cap all the madness, this one is vintage ’94.  This matrix recording doesn’t hurt either.  Enjoy the weekend everyone!

I: Buried Alive > Poor Heart, Sample in a Jar, Foam, The Mango Song, Down With Disease, Fee, It’s Ice, Fast Enough for You, I Didn’t Know, Split Open and Melt

II: Possum, Tweezer tease > Cavern tease > Wilson* > Cavern > NICU > Tweezer# > Julius^ > Big Black Furry Creature From Mars** > Tweezer > Mound > Slave to the Traffic Light > Suzy Greenberg

E: My Sweet One, Tweezer Reprise

*Played to the tune of “Cavern.” #With “Woody Woodpecker” tease. ^With “Rock and Roll Is Here To Stay” tease. **Played to tune of “Scent of a Mule.”



Jay- Z and Phish: 6.18.04 (The looks on the band’s faces are classic!)

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Out West in April ’92

Posted in Uncategorized with the tags , , on November 13th, 2008 by Mr.Miner

When listening to Phish, I am always apt to pop in something from their latter era of 1994 and beyond. However, the years that Phish spent laying the groundwork for their 1995 peak and subsequent reinvention, were the foundation needed for their later greatness.  And I always forget just how sick early Phish really is!  Beginning to tour in earnest in the Fall of 1990, the band played incessantly in building a loyal grassroots fan base.  Moving through bars, clubs and colleges all over the nation, Phish began to debut new songs, experiment with their musical direction, and integrate quirky, humorous elements into their live show.  With each run of shows in this period of rapid development, Phish seemed to get markedly tighter and more adventurous.

Phish circa 1992

Phish circa 1992

Unquestionably, the band’s first creative peak came in the Spring of 1992.  Armed with an array of new songs, most of which would comprise Rift, and a new “secret language” that directly involved their fans with subtle musical cues, Phish was fomenting a unique identity.  After the month of March, which included many standout shows (see 3.11, 13, 19, 20 and 26,) Phish embarked on a western journey that would comprise the hallowed month of  April.  Moving into Colorado on the 3rd, and California on the 15th, the band existed as a four headed, well-oiled improvisational monster.  With fast-paced, jazz-rooted psychedelia, Phish continued to carve out their ever-evolving musical path.  The band’s energy in this month of shows literally jumps off the many soundboard recordings that have leaked over the years.  Kick-starting their era of “speedjazz” that would culminate in 1993, this band represented a young lion aggressively exploring its world.

1992 Tour Ad Poster

1992 Tour Ad Poster

Each and every 21 shows from April of 1992 have legitimate musical highlights, with the most acclaimed jams coming in the California run from 4.15 through 4.21.  From the well known 4.21 Redwood Acres “Tweezer,” 4.18 Stanford “Harry Hood,” and the 4.16 Anaconda Theatre Mockingbird, to the less circulated 4.13 Tempe “David Bowie,” Tucson’s 4.12 shredding “Antelope,” or the pristine “Foam” from the Warfield on 4.17, amazing moments were aplenty.  Marked with a “sense of urgency” in their playing, Phish was in the middle of discovering what they were musically capable of, both individually, and as a quartet.  Teeming with the enthusiasm, Phish was consitently on-point during this month of insanely tight communication.  Tearing apart the western US, the band created new fans as quickly as they created stellar jams.  With a polished sound, goofy presence, and a fiery demeanor, this Spring run represented Phish in the process of becoming.

Phish circa '91

Phish circa 1991

Before long, 1992 would turn into 1993 and beyond, and this incredibly Phishy run through the wild west would remain a frozen moment in time, capturing an innocence that would gradually pass with the rapid development of their organization and scene.  Marking the most significant musical adventures to date, April 1992 will forever be remembered as some of the best and most exciting Phish ever.

To commemorate such a memorable month, I have compiled Miner’s Picks” April ’92,” totaling five hours of crispy SBDs! These picks should help everyone understand why this month in Phish history is revered to this day.  There are some absolute gems on this one.  The tracks and link are below.  ENJOY!



1. YEM 4.5 Fox Theatre, Boulder, CO

2. David Bowie 4.5

3. Reba 4.12 U of Arizona Student Center, Tucson, AZ

4. Run Like An Antelope 4.12

5. David Bowie 4.13 After the Gold Rush, Tempe, AZ

6. Fluffhead 4.13

7. Split Open and Melt 4.16 Anaconda Theatre, Isla Vista, CA

8. Col. Forbin’s > Icculus > Famous Mockingbird 4.16

9. Mike’s > H2 > Weekapaug 4.16

10. Foam 4.17.92 The Warfield, San Francisco, CA

11. Reba 4.17

12. David Bowie > Catapult > David Bowie 4.17

13. Tweezer 4.17

14. Rift 4.18 Wilbur Field, Stanford University, Palo Alto, CA

15. Harry Hood 4.18

16. Tweezer 4.21 Redwood Acres, Eureka, CA

17. YEM 4.25 Campus Rec Center, Evergreen College, Olympia, WA

18. Harry Hood 4.25

19, 20. The Landlady > Possum 4.29 First Avenue, Minneapolis, MN

21, 22, 23. Mound > Oh Kee Pah > Llama 4.29

24. Brother 4.17 The Warfield, SF, CA

25. Stash 4.13 Tempe, AZ


I want to extend an open invitation for article / post suggestions!  After 100, it’s not as easy to conjure up a creative angle every single day, but so far so good.  if you think you have a topic that in any way relates to Phish that you would like to see featured on Phish Thoughts, drop me a line!  I cannot promise I will use them all. and there are some I am purposely avoiding for now, but I’d LOVE to hear what you have to say. The mailbox is always open at mrminer@phishthoughts.com!

Tags: , ,

100 and Counting…

Posted in Uncategorized with the tags on November 13th, 2008 by Mr.Miner

Today represents the 100th post ever on Phish Thoughts; our own little hundredth show! I can’t believe the site has been around this long already and has grown into such a Phishy online community.  Thank you all for your reading, suggestions, and support.  In celebration of this centennial post, I wanted to think of something thematic to go with.  After extended deliberations and much soul-searching, I present to you:

“100 Things I Learned On Phish Tour”

100. Avoid buying dense weed with lots of red hairs.

99. Why wait in show traffic when you can cut it all?

98. Anything is better than lot food.

weed2_311891a97. Don’t share joints with people you don’t know.

96. Don’t eat the black gel tabs.

95. “Nothing I see can be taken from me.”

94. The ability to get two nights for the price of one at any hotel.

93. I hate burnt sage.

92. How do rage on an arena step no more than 2 x 3 feet.

91. How to never wind up dancing on an arena step.

90. Driving at night is far more efficient than driving during the day.

waffle89. Waffle House is way better than it looks.

88. Buttering up security guards is always a good idea.

87. Avoid dancing too close to dreadlocked fans for fear of getting smacked in the face by one.

86. Take a circuitous route to the show, avoiding the exit everyone is waiting at.

85. How to get free hotel rooms.

84. Don’t talk to the guys on lot with bright tye-dyes, sunglasses and mustaches.

nb_2043-76510883.Security guards like to puff too.

82. Late checkouts are always possible if you say the right things.

81. Don’t buy anything from the guy who has everything!

80. You can find anything you need on Phish lot- anything.

79. People really do ask random others if they’ve got extra floor space.

images78. Fall tour is when the shit really goes down.

77. There is no need to actually *see* the band during a show.

76. International Phish shows are the greatest experiences ever.

75. Coors Amphitheatre in Chula Vista is the best “standard” outdoor amphitheatre in the US.

images-174. Don’t leave your bong out in a hotel room, even in Vegas!

73. America’s police have low IQs and very little common sense.

72. Don’t care what songs they play.

71. The difference between all the hotel chains’ breakfast buffets.

70. The veggie burritos people sell post-show on summer tour were made pre-show and sat in the car all day.

69. A lot of people’s first names.

bjfg_smokealarm_mn68. How to negate hotel’s smoke alarms.

67. Murfreesboro, TN is really spelled like that.

66. Some people go to concerts to talk.

65. A sherlock bubbler probably shouldn’t be your car piece.

64. Shows are a workout.  Dress for one.

63. Dancing barefoot is nasty.

jointrex_175x12562. Pre-roll joints to avoid set break confusion.

61. All you really need in your pocket at a show is your ticket stub.

60. How to have an all night campfire in Dick Butkus’s “Quick Cook” grill.

59. You can get stuck in a vortex in the hallways on the 3rd floor of MSG.

58. There is nothing like hopping in the car and throwing on the DAT of the second set you just experienced.

universe57. Phish can harness the power of the universe- nightly.

56. It’s always a relief when tour gets out of the South.

55. The lawn and the pavilion are like night and day.

54. Seeing setlists on the Internet sucks.

53. A video game system is a good thing to bring on tour.

52. Phish plays “Saturday Night Specials,” and they usually include Disease.

night_driver51. Post-show driving is no more difficult that Atari’s “Night Driver.”

50. The Hampton Holiday Inn becomes a post-show war zone with passed out wooks in the hallway, pizza boxes like shrapnel, and more debauchery than imaginable.

49. The Gorge is the most stunning place to see Phish play.

48. There is nothing quite like an MSG show.

glowsticks47. Glowsticks were a bad idea.

46. Girls can go in guys bathrooms, but vice-versa- not so much.

45. Trey has a unique “show shirt” he wears for most of each tour.

44. Phish couldn’t survive without one of their members.  Apparently keyboardists aren’t as expendable as they were in the days of the Grateful Dead.

43. Grab extra paper towels from the bathroom for the inevitably spilled beer that will make dancing hazardous.

42. Portland Meadows gives you black boogers.

shoreline200041. 2000 is an underrated year.

40. A bad Phish show is an oxymoron.

39. Some people took on “lot names” – oh the absurdity.

38. Phish is a giant metaphor for life.

37. Trey’s rhythm licks sound a lot like Jerry on many occasions.

36. 12.28.98 is one of the best and most underrated shows ever.

pipefp22_thumb35. Sterilize the mouth pieces of random glass pieces with the lighter if you care to indulge, you’ll be happy later.

34. There is no such thing as a piss break at a Phish show.

33. Any song can go anywhere at anytime.  Still waiting for the twenty minute Bouncin’.  (Think about it before you guffaw.)

072208mike_gordon32. Gordon always plays exactly the note you never expected- all the time.

31. Canadian drug dogs can smell a month old roach under your seat that you never knew was there.

30. It’s always good to sleep between shows at some point.

29. Strangers can turn into friends over night.

nymiami_tickets28. New Years Runs should always be in Miami.

27. Chicken Fingers is a good order anywhere you go.

26. Phish festivals are super-sized psychedelic playgrounds for adults.

25. Some people will pay a lot of money for front row tickets- every single night.

24. Try to avoid the automotive nitrous.

23. Patchouli is no better than body odor.

wod53011cwd_prd22. If you roll with herb, roll with Ozium.

21. Some people care more about what sticky pass they have than what the band is playing.

20. 93-95 = 97-99; they are just like two different bands.

19. There is nothing like ’94 Rebas.

18. Just be yourself.

17. People pay money to dance in the hallways of arenas, unable to hear what they are dancing to.

phish116. Phish is a portal to the divine.

15. Scent of a Mule is not the best choice to drop in the middle of the second set.

14. Something was in the air at SPAC ’04.

13. 1 for $3, 2 for $5 pretty much works for anything.

12. Post-hiatus takes far too much unjustified grief. 2003 was amazing.

11. Most lot dogs are named Marley or Kaya.

flying-j10. Flying J truck stops have anything you could possibly need.

9. A month of Phish shows are good for the head.

8. There is a nitrous mafia in Philadelphia.

7. The Island Run was a different thing all together.

6. 12.30 is a better night than 12.31.

5. Bathroom lines are only an illusion.

phish-lights14. The 12.6.97 Tweezer is perfection.

3. LSD and Phish is like peanut butter and jelly.

2. Phish is much more effective under Democratic Presidents.

1. There is nothing I’d rather do on any given night than see Phish.



11.13.97 Thomas & Mack, Las Vegas, NV < LINK

tm001Eleven years ago today, Phish began one of their most legendary tours ever- Fall ’97.  With more insane shows than you can shake a stick at, it all started here.  With a curtain cutting off almost half the venue, the show took on an intimate feel.  With the debut of “Black-Eyed Katy,” a solid YEM, and a hot Split anchoring the first set, the show unfolds in after halftime.  A twenty-minute “Stash” that got into some tribal territory, officially got the tour underway.  A strong set ends with a standout Mike’s Groove.  This one is historic.  Enjoy it!

I: Chalk Dust Torture, Black-Eyed Katy*, Theme From the Bottom, Train Song, Split Open and Melt, Beauty of My Dreams, My Soul, You Enjoy Myself, Character Zero

II: Stash, Punch You in the Eye, Prince Caspian, Bouncing Around the Room, Mike’s Song > I Am Hydrogen > Weekapaug Groove

E:  Loving Cup

*First time played


Please Welcome to the Stage…

Posted in Uncategorized with the tags , on November 12th, 2008 by Mr.Miner

The excitement of Phish shows existed in their intense compact journeys into the unknown.  While trying to craft artistically coherent sets, the band was often limited by venue imposed curfews ranging from 11 pm to 12 pm, as very few shows extended past midnight.  While the band tried to squeeze many aspects of their playing within two time-constrained sets, they always left you fiending for more.  One of the most frustrating things in the second set of a Phish show was when the band called up a guest to jam with them.  With already limited time, when these sit-ins happened, you kissed fifteen to twenty of those precious minutes good-bye.

12.30.03 w/ P. Funk

12.30.03 w/ P. Funk - photo: Max Z.

Regardless of who the guest was or vast their musical talent, Phish + 1 could never match the intensity and fury of the locked and loaded quartet.  More often than not, when a guest came up, the resulting music was watered down by the forced, unnatural communication.  Did all guest spots effect shows negatively?  Certainly not.  However, if given a choice to have Phish play with any guest or just rage as a band, I would cast all other musicians aside every time.

Sure, some of the guest sit-ins weren’t musically poor, but they provided no adrenaline or adventure to the course of the evening.  Examples of harmless sit-ins that ate up precious Phish time are plentiful.  Such occasions include Derek Trucks’ “Possum,” “Funky Bitch” double encore appearance in Charlotte on 7.7.99, Scott Murawski’s guest appearance at Great Woods for “Possum” and Skynyrd’s “Tuesday’s Gone” at the end of two great nights, Dave Matthews’ appearance in Virginia on 6.17.95 to cover “Three Little Birds, or  B.B King’s extended on-stage visit at the Meadowlands in 2003.  These musical passages were fun for the masses, and clearly enjoyable for the band as well, but after a show of pure fire when you are jonesing for one more ripping Phish jam, a guest appearance was inevitably a let down.

The fundamental issue at hand is that no one can enhance the Phish.  They have perfected their art, and when a fifth wheel gets thrown onto the car, it is usually for fun and entertainment value rather than musical direction (see the P-Funk medley from Miami ’03).  While most guest appearances fall relatively flat, there have been some instances where they turned out incredibly well, with guests complimenting Phish’s improv with some of their own.  Below are some of the better guest appearances in Phish’s career.

Bela Fleck 11.29.95, “Slave to the Traffic Light”, Municipal Auditorium, Nashville TN

Bela Fleck

Bela Fleck

Adding his virtuoso talent into the mix on the delicate Phish jam proved to be incredibly successful.  As Trey and Mike played off of Bela’s banjo melodies, the band created a gorgeous rendition of their old school classic.  With true jazz-based improvisation, the musicians echoed and connected each others lines while Fishman balanced the jam on his shimmering cymbal-driven beat.  Getting into some intense musical communication, this is an example of an improvisational maestro fitting right in with what the band does.  Bela also joined the band twice previously in ’93 and ’94, and once later, with the Flecktones, in France during Summer ’97.

LISTEN TO THE 11.29.95 SLAVE w/ Bela Fleck NOW! (Roll Over link and press play)

Karl Perazzo 10.29.96-11.3.96, Tallahassee, Atlanta, West Palm, Gainesville

Karl Perazzo

Karl Perazzo

The veteran Santana percussionist sat it with Phish for a run of shows surrounding their transformative Halloween set in 1996.  The centerpiece of this run was the band’s cover of Talking Head’s “Remain In Light,” an album for which Phish needed multiple extra musicians to round out the polyrhythmic compositions.  Yet, Perazzo played a major role in the progression of Phish’s sound from fiery arena rock to collaborative groove-based playing; a shift that would alter the band’s musical direction forever.  His extra layers of percussion amidst this Southern run brought Phish’s jamming to a slower, cooperative tempo- something that can be heard on many selections from these shows.  The Tallahassee “Mike’s” on 10.29, 11.2’s “Crosseyed > Antelope” from West Palm, and the Gainesville “Tweezer” on 11.3 are all terrific examples of this phenomenon.  Having sat in with the band earlier that year in Europe, and many years earlier in 1992, Perazzo knew what Phish was all about.  When listening to shows in the Midwest after the Perazzo run, one can hear the noticeable difference in pace and groove as Phish began their transformation to 1997.


Michael Ray 10.14.94, 2.26.96, 9.26.99, 9.9.00, New Orleans, Albany

Michael Ray

Michael Ray

Michael Ray is one of the more accomplished musicians to grace Phish’s stage.  A veteran of The Sun Ra Arkestra and his own Cosmic Crewe, Ray also worked with Trey on Surrender to the Air, an album of free jazz experiments.  Sitting in by himself at four different shows throughout the band’s career (and three other times as part of the Cosmic Country Horns) Michael Ray and Phish have had a close musical relationship for years.  All of Ray’s guest appearances have come in his hometown of New Orleans except for the last.  On 9.9.00, the second show of Phish’s fall tour in Albany, NY, Ray joined the band for most of the second set, including “Sand,” “Makisupa Policeman, “Funky Bitch,” “Cars, Trucks, & Buses,” and “Harry Hood.”  Already quite familiar with Phish and their improvisational direction, Ray felt right at home coming on stage mid-jam and adding his searing psychedelic lines and on-stage antics to the final peak of a dark twenty-minute “Sand.”  Ray’s Phish literacy was quite apparent as he wove in a tease of “First Tube” to his trumpet solo.  The cover of “Funky Bitch” provided the perfect trampoline for Ray to bounce his melodies off, as he lent his Bayou flavor to this Northeastern excursion.

LISTEN TO 9.9.00 SAND and FUNKY BITCH w/ Michael Ray NOW!

Peter Apfelbaum: 11.30.96 “Timber Ho > Tatse”, Arco Arena, Sacremento, CA

Peter Apfelbaum

Peter Apfelbaum

In one of the best-ever guest sit -in segments, Peter Apfelbaum took center stage in a performance that brought the audience back to the late ’70s era of jazz-rock fusion.  A Grammy-nominated musician for various projects, Apfelbaum is one of few artists who has appeared on stage with both the Grateful Dead and Phish.  With his tenor saxophone, he joined Phish in a twisting psychedelic adventure of “Timber Ho > Taste” that provided the meat of the second set.  This segment has been a fan favorite since the night it happened- something very rare for guest spots.  In addition, Apfelbaum joined the band, and John McEuen on lap slide guitar, for the encore of the best “Amazing Grace” (w/jam) the band has ever played.  Apfelbaum went on to play with Trey’s solo band when it ballooned to a nine and ten piece ensemble.

LISTEN TO 11.30.96 TIMBER HO > JAM > TASTE w/ Peter Apfelbaum NOW!

Jay-Z: 6.18.04 “99 Problems” & “Big’ Pimpin” Coney Island, NY


photo: rocafella.com

In a genre shattering mind-fuck, Jay-Z, king of the modern hip-hop scene and Brooklyn native, blew everyone away by stepping on stage with Phish at Coney Island during their final summer.  Retired at the time, no one could believe that Mr. Shawn Carter, himself, was onstage with our goofy heroes.  In an appropriate role reversal, Phish provided the tight backing music to two of Jay-Z’s biggest hits as the Jigga Man stepped to the mic in front of a flabbergasted crowd.  “Big Pimpin'” provided the musical highlight of the stint, even if the stoned-out hippie crowd might not have “bounced” like New York clubs.  Phish held the intricate beats and melodies perfectly for the Grammy winning single, proving once again, anything can happen at a Phish show.  They began the hip-hop interlude with the heavier and more recent single “99 Problems” of The Black Album.  Jay-Z was clearly enthusiastic about the appearance, commenting between songs, “You was hiding all this from me! I felt it!”  In a joining of two unquestionable kings of their scenes, the results were ridiculous memories nobody will soon forget.


The Grammys

The Grammys

An article about guest sit ins would not be complete without a brief mention of the “Worst Guest Appearance of All-Time.” In Las Vegas on 9.29.00, there occurred a complete debacle.  After beginning the second set with the unthinkable combo of “Dinner and a Movie,” “Moma Dance,” “2001 > Fluffhead” and a buffer of “Meatstick,” Phish welcomed Kid Rock to the stage.  With no idea how many drugs were done and/or shared before this miserable idea was hatched, the audience was mostly confused as Trey’s “buddy” made it to stage in the last week of shows before the hiatus.  Ruining the second half of the show with songs that Phish could have slaughtered, this pristine night quickly turned into a mockery.  Spoiling the potential greatness of “Rapper’s Delight” and “Walk This Way,” the band kept the guy on for “You Shook Me All Night Long” and an encore of “We’re An American Band.”  Taking off into the Vegas nightlife and a hiatus that was less than a week away, the members of Phish were clearly over-indulged by this point, and in need of a break!

What are you’re opinions on Phish guests? Respond in Comments below!



7.23.91 The Bayou, Washington, DC SBD < LINK

phish-summertour-91This show is special for multiple reasons.  First, it is a complete performance with the Giant Country Horns.  Second, it took place at The Bayou, a great club that no longer exists.  Third, it contains a performance of “Flat Fee.”  Fourth, it is a crispy SBD.  This is a classic from the Summer of ’91.  Enjoy!

I: Chalk Dust Torture, Foam, The Squirming Coil, My Sweet One, Oh Kee Pa Ceremony > Suzy Greenberg, Stash, Flat Fee, Bouncing Around the Room, Mike’s Song > I Am Hydrogen > Weekapaug Groove

II: Llama, Reba, Cavern, Lizards, The Landlady, Tweezer, Sweet Adeline*, Dinner and a Movie, Gumbo, Touch Me, Caravan, Golgi Apparatus*

With The Giant Country Horns.    *missing from recording

Tags: ,

On the Way Upwards, The Colors Come Back

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

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

Jamie Huntsman

photo: Jamie Huntsman

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

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

The Primary Colors of the Phish Palate

508846215_91247b586dLight Blue / Turquoise

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

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


Pink / Yellow

Chris Clark

photo: Chris Clark

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

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


105669810_eed8dc93dcDark Blue / Purple

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

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



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

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



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

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

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

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



Symphony Hall -  Springfield, MA

Symphony Hall - Springfield, MA

12.30.92 Symphony Hall, Springfield, MA SBD < LINK

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

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

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

E: Ride Captain Ride, Sweet Adeline

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

Tags: ,

Weekend Nuggets

Posted in Uncategorized with the tags on November 8th, 2008 by Mr.Miner


109_02As promised, here are the final two nights of the three-night UIC stand in 1998.  Enjoy!

Night 2: 11.8.98 UIC Pavilion, Chicago, IL < LINK

I: Taste, Carini, Love Me, Ride Captain Ride, Fee, Paul and Silas, Roggae, Water in the Sky, Stash, Cavern

II: Chalk Dust Torture, Meat, Rock and Roll, Down With Disease > Piper, Wading in the Velvet Sea, Run Like an Antelope

E: Been Caught Stealing

Night 3: 11.9.98 UIC Pavilion, Chicago, IL < LINK

I: Llama, Horn, I Get a Kick Out of You*, The Divided Sky, Frankie Says, Dogs Stole Things, Poor Heart, Free, NICU, Bold as Love

II: Bathtub Gin, The Man Who Stepped Into Yesterday > Avenu Malkenu > The Man Who Stepped Into Yesterday, The Moma Dance, Slave to the Traffic Light, You Enjoy Myself

E: Frankenstein, Freebird**


“Mike’s” jam 11.7.98

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“Ride, Captain Ride” 11.8.98

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“The Wedge” 11.7.98

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A Three Day Weekend 10 Years ago

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

phish-chicago-98A week and a half into Fall 1998, a tour that had so many high points, Phish stopped in Chicago for a virtually unprecedented three night stand at the venue they tore apart in 1994, UIC Pavilion.  The only domestic three night run between New Year’s at MSG in 1997 and Deer Creek run in 2000, three night stands did not come often in the late ’90s. One aspect that made this stand so special was the intimacy of the venue. With a 10,000 person capacity and a fully GA policy, this stand had totally different feel than Worcester ’97, MSG, ’97, or Deer Creek ’00. The venue seemed even smaller with no behind-stage seating, taking on the feeling of our living room for three nights.

Responding to the Phishy confines and cozy space, the band crafted a coherent three chapter odyssey, each with a distinctly different musical vibe to their second set, climaxing in a final night party of Phish favorites.

11.7.98: The Abstract Psychedelic Night

508770755_c2771e200cThe undeniable centerpiece of this show is the other-worldly twenty minute AC/DC Bag jam which segued into one of the most exciting Ghosts of the tour.  Starting out in a upbeat groove, the Bag jam bust of the gate like Secretariat at Churchill Downs.  Trey is the unquestionable leader of the first part of the jam as rest of the band begins to improvise a musical tapestry behind his lead lines.  Yet, the most engaging part of the jam comes when the band slows down and begins to take their music to the outer realms.  Switching to a shimmering, yet driving beat, Fishman slows down the rest of the band and the magic begins.  Getting into some transcendental jamming, this piece stood out immediately as a creative highlight of tour.  One of those truly spiritual passages of music, the band tread on sacred ground for some time.  Completely together in their exploration of this higher plane, this jam defines why we go see Phish.  One of the deepest psychedelic adventures in a Fall that featured many, this Phish epic is a portal directly to the spirit of the divine.

phish-uic-11-98And that is all one song.  The whole set is only made up of four, and the closer is a concise “Farmhouse.”  The “AC/DC Bag > Ghost”, “Reba,” are the stuff legends are made of.  As the Bag wound down into ambient tones, Trey triggered his Ghost loop signaling there was no slowing down.  Quickly building the beginning of the song, the band launched into a searing adventure in rhythm and sound.  Initiating with some dark Ghost grooves, this version gradually, yet continuously, picked up steam until the lid was about to blow off the place.  One of the standout versions of the song in a tour that had several gems,  this initial forty minutes of music finally wound back into the slower beat of the song, as everyone was left in awe.  Wasting no time in the set, the band decided to jump into an unexpected “Reba.”  In a delicate and dramatic classic-sounding “Reba,” Trey spouted sublime melodies throughout the floating improvisation. With a first night that I think stole the entire run,  there was no space to even mention the  seven song Mike’s Groove sandwich in the first set!

II: 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

*Trey on acoustic guitar.

11.8.98: The Rock and Roll Night


Fall 1998 - photo: unk

With high-key, loud, and fast paced jams strewn about the second set, night two was unquestionably the “Saturday Night Phish Rock n Roll Extravaganza.”  Tearing through musical pieces like a NASCAR race, the theme of the show was Ricky Bobby’s “If you’re not first, your last,” as Phish played at a frenetic pace all night long.  The second set opening Chalkdust set the tone for the rest of the night with its typical shredding textures.  Pausing only briefly in “Meat,” the rest of the set was pure Phish fire.  The aptly placed “Rock N Roll” appeared for the first time since Halloween, providing its own springboard for guitar mayhem and up tempo jamming.  Sliding out of the Velvet Underground cover came the centerpiece of the night- “Disease > Piper” clocking in at forty minutes of balls-to-the-wall Phish improv.  Highlighted by urgent searing rock grooves, these two songs built one piece of music.  With a mere three minutes of quiet playing connecting the two songs, this segment was full throttle the whole way.  Trey finally took his foot off the pedal as the band waded in a perfectly placed Velvet Sea.  More often then not, when a late set Velvet Sea appeared, it was followed by a North American Pronghorn Antelope.  And sure enough, out came the blistering-set ending explosion.  Far groovier than much of the music that preceded it, the Antelope jam featured smoothly flowing Trey licks contributing to the appropriately nasty last segment of the night.  Climaxing at a dizzying point, this was the perfect cap for the magnified night of rock music.  As if that wasn’t enough bombast, the band encored with the second ever appearance of “Been Caught Stealin,” setting the roof on fire.

Ironically, the improvisational highlight of the night may lie in the first set “Stash.”  In an extended jam of psychedelic sorcery, Trey masterfully teases the”Fikus” melody from the night before, providing connection between the evenings.  Along with the standout “Stash,” the first set included a second song “Carini,” with the debut of the verse about the “naked dude” that jumped on stage the previous night in Madison and Carini had to corral.  The rare covers of “Love Me,” “Ride Captain Ride,” and “Paul & Silas” rounded out the notable music of the first set with the “Taste” opener.

I: Taste, Carini, Love Me, Ride Captain Ride, Fee, Paul and Silas, Roggae, Water in the Sky, Stash, Cavern

II: Chalk Dust Torture, Meat, Rock and Roll, Down With Disease > Piper, Wading in the Velvet Sea, Run Like an Antelope

E: Been Caught Stealing

11.9.98 The Night of Phish Anthems


"YEM" 11.19.98 - photo: unk

Following two high quality and thematic shows, Phish came right back on night three with their big guns loaded and ready for action.  The second set opened with a massive, celebratory “Bathtub Gin” that remains a highlight of the tour to this day.  This excursion is one that truly displays the improvisational chops of all the band members as they sculpted many fans’ favorite Gin of the year.  One of those second set opening masterpieces, this was a cathartic release of emotion and energy as everyone entered the sixth and final frame of the run.  Spanning diverse musical feels, this Gin moved from a climactic peak into a murky, quasi-ambient place for some time before dripping back into the melody of the song.  Trey is all over this entire jam, shredding lines of beauty with seemingly no effort.  With a sublime guitar exposition woven perfectly with the rest of the band’s playing, this one was an instant keeper.

Moving through the Phishy musical narrative of “The Man Who Stepped Into Yesterday,” the band infused this final set with some old school energy as the Gamehendge overture provided an ideal follow up to the monstrosity of the Gin.  When a “Moma Dance” comes out in the middle of the second set, you can be sure its going to thick and magnified.  This was the exact scenario, as the funk engulfed the arena with Mike’s bass bombs filling the room to the very last row.  The crowd danced in delight, sensing that Phish was in the middle of creating a really big set.  Following the standout Moma, the band ended the set with the combination of Slave, YEM.  Now that’s a way to close a run!  Seemingly working in one of everyone’s favorite songs, Phish closed out the show with two of their most hallowed anthems.  Both containing uplifting and life-affirming qualities, it was the quintessential combination of Phish magic for that moment, and it put an exclamation point on the three night stand.

The first set featured one of the meatiest and mechanically driven “Free”s of the year, a highlight of the run that is often overlooked due to its set placement.  In addition, a “Divided Sky” graced the first set with a fierce guitar solo at the peak of of the composition.

I: Llama, Horn, I Get a Kick Out of You*, The Divided Sky, Frankie Says, Dogs Stole Things, Poor Heart, Free, NICU, Bold as Love

II: Bathtub Gin, The Man Who Stepped Into Yesterday > Avenu Malkenu > The Man Who Stepped Into Yesterday, The Moma Dance, Slave to the Traffic Light, You Enjoy Myself

E: Frankenstein, Freebird**

*Cole Porter cover; second time played. **A cappella.

The diversity of music throughout these three nights touched on all aspects of Phish.  In a extended musical showcase, the three nights in the Midwestern capitol proved to be some of the most fun evenings of Fall ’98.  After the western leg of an incredible tour, the few nights to pause in one place seemed to do both the band and the fans just right.  This would be the final chapter of Phish’s legacy at UIC Pavilion, one which also included two ridiculous ’94 shows.  This venue will go down in Phish history batting a perfect 1.000, going 5 for 5 in its career.  Highly unlikely that the band will ever return to such a small arena, we will always have those five perfect nights in downtown Chicago.



Night 1: 11.7.98 UIC Pavilion, Chicago IL < LINK

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

*Trey on acoustic guitar.

Look for nights 2 & 3 on Weekend Nuggets!

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The Madison Split

Posted in Uncategorized with the tags , , on November 6th, 2008 by Mr.Miner

Phish has explored their defining jam vehicles in so many ways, so many times throughout their career, it’s impossible to pin-point a “best version” of any song in their extended repertoire.  It’s even hard to name a top five for any particular Phish classic.  The best you can do is choose an era-1998 let’s say, or even a tour-Fall, and see what you can do from there.  Of course, any type of version “ranking,” is wholly absurd, merely a matter of taste and opinion, and usually leads to lengthy and futile, yet fun, conversations among friends.  However, ten years ago today, amidst a lackluster, nearly-jamless show in Madison, WI, Phish challenged this ranking theory by throwing down the objective “Best Split of 1998.”

Jamie Huntsman

1998: photo: Jamie Huntsman

On the first night of a four night run that would be completed with their stellar stand at UIC, Phish played a lot of fluff during this college town show.  Only extending jams over ten minutes in “Maze,” “Simple,” Caspian, and Hood, this fifteen-minute set closing Split Open would steal the show like the Hamburgler pocketing beef patties.  With nothing to speak of in the first set but a routinely intense “Maze,” Phish bust out of the end of “Sparkle” with the intro beat of “Split Open and Melt.”  The composed section flowed with the perfect tempo, Fishman holding down the smooth jazz beat as Gordon already began to improvise some of his bass lines.

“Down, down, down, down, down, down, MELT…”

Boom! Before realizing what hit you, Trey attacked with lively staccato funk licks, as Page rolled around the clavinet with menacing mastery.  Gordon was throwing down thundering lines from note one, and within ten seconds, you were in the midst of a ridiculous Phish jam.  One of those musical segments you didn’t need to put any effort into dancing to, this machine like groove continued to grow as Trey moved into some new, funkier phrasing.  Meanwhile, Fishman was  slaughtering the beat, effortlessly glued to Mike’s uniquely sinister thoughts.  I often reference the band being “locked in,” well in this jam, they are Krazy Glued together.

nye8Responding to each other with fully complimentary and improvised melodies, Page, Mike and Trey engaged in one of the more interesting musical conversations of the entire tour.  Collectively leading the jam, each of them completely knew what the other two were doing, as they all took center stage simultaneously, resulting one of the most intensely tight jams of the year.  Fishman steered the musical conversation like a river guide at the back of the raft, moving it gently from place to place, always considering what his mates were saying.  Often answering Trey’s patterns himself, Fishman made sure this jam got to where it needed to go.

Kohl Center, Madison, WI

Kohl Center, Madison, WI

With a continuously infectious groove, the music built in intensity as the band’s mind-bending improvisation never let up for a second.  In what seemed like no more than a flash, Trey’s end-of jam lick rang in, reminding you where you were and what the hell was actually going on, as your mind and body were gone amidst astral rhythms.

And just like that it was over.  Fifteen minutes of the best music from the tour passed by in a heartbeat.  Reeling as the band built to their final three beats of the song, looking around at my friends who had the same look that I wore, we knew that was IT.  So what if the rest of the show wasn’t that hot- none of us will ever forget the 11.6.98 Kohl Center Spilt.  Ever.





3.22.93 Crest Theatre, Sacremento, CA SBD < LINK

It’s about time I got a Gamehendge show up here! Today we have the classic Crest Theatre performance in March of 1993.  The second set open with a Golgi before It’s Ice transforms into Lizards and the journey is on.  After the band finishes the Gamehendge narration with McGrupp instead of Possum, they proceed throw down a classic Mike’s Groove to end the show.  Rumored that the band decided to play the saga due to the audience’s extreme attentiveness, this one will live on in Phish history.  This soundboard copy will make sure you can hear the whole story as well as the music.  Enjoy!

I: Chalk Dust Torture, Guelah Papyrus, Uncle Pen, Stash, Bouncing Around the Room, Rift, Weigh, Reba, Sparkle, David Bowie

2: Golgi Apparatus, It’s Ice > Lizards > Tela > Wilson > AC/DC Bag > Colonel Forbin’s Ascent > Fly Famous Mockingbird > The Sloth > McGrupp and the Watchful Hosemasters, Mike’s Song > I Am Hydrogen > Weekapaug Groove

E: Amazing Grace, Fire

Set 2 contained complete Gamehendge narration.

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