Getting Into IT

We all love Phish for their ability to rearrange our realities with improvisational jams channeled from the ether.  The transportive nature of their music was the central reason that Phish became such a musical phenomenon and a central part of our lives.  Traveling to places deep within, riding the rapids-filled river of Phish music, we were able to discover things about ourselves, our friends, and the world around us.  We learned to believe in Phish and trust that their musical maze would lead us where we needed to go.  Yet, between these extended periods of cosmic improv, Phish possessed a completely different side.  They wrote great songs.  I’m no longer thinking of improv based pieces, but the classic Phish songs that we all love, that are the same every time out.  After seeing twenty, fifty, or hundreds of shows, these songs became “filler” in the evening, as they were consistently taken for granted as breathers before the next huge adventure.

42950698Yet, not everyone had an older sibling or friend usher them into “the scene,” and these songs that later became less relevant to our show experience were once central in lassoing our interests away from hip-hop, alt rock, metal or whatever we were into at the time.  You may not remember the first time you heard “Bouncin’ Around the Room,” but you remember how you felt.  Enchanting and different- the harmonies were so rich and the melodies sang in your head for hours after.  The percussive beat and the singing in rounds added to the intrigue, and then it was over.  Hey, this was pretty good.

One day, maybe in a parents’ car, high school party or dorm room, someone put on “Sample In a Jar.”  Wow!  This was pop rock taken to a whole new level.  The guitar sounded so warm and inviting, and the grooves just felt right echoing inside of you.  The verses sounded just as cool as the chorus, and that big peak at the end got you every time.  You began asking your buddy to play that song each time you saw him.

At some point ,”Fee” provided an introduction to Phish’s narrative lyrical nature.  Listening to the tale of Floyd, Fee and Millie, you couldn’t help but be tickled by the absurdity of it all.  Floyd, the chimpanzee tried to court Millie away from the weasel only to being sliced on the nipple by Millie, herself, and fall to his aquatic death.  Fee’s life was saved and their romance lived on.  Listening to the details, the music simultaneously narrated the story, complementing the words perfectly- pretty clever these Phish guys were.

Matt Collins

12.29.03 - photo: Matt Collins

Soon, your interest was peaked and you turned to a bootleg.  You had been told of this Gamhendge story, and when you heard “Lizards,” a new world opened- not only to Colonel Forbin.  This was the song that hooked me and I needed to know more.  The fairy tale magic combined with Trey’s sublime super-emotional guitar in the second part, had me wanting to discover what Phish were all about.  The verses, the chorus, the musicianship- everything!  Who was this band, and why was I listening to Use Your Illusion all the time? (n.b. They are great albums!) Before long I found myself at a Phish show and the rest is history.

While everyone’s path to Phish was different, at some point, these anthems, with no jamming whatsoever, played a significant role in our love for the band, and perhaps still do.  Maybe it was the quirky lyrics and multi-faceted music of “Golgi Apparatus” that caught our ear first.  Or possibly, “Picture of Nectar” was the initial song you were jonesing to hear- oh yeah, they call that one “Cavern.”

42950724The fact is, those five-minute songs are as Phishy as twenty-minute “Tweezer”s.  These songs that so often got ignored in our later days of being a fan were just as much a foundation of Phish’s success as “You Enjoy Myself” or “David Bowie.”  Not everyone could latch onto intricate psychedelic journeys right off the bat, but if those twenty minutes were surrounded by “NICU” and “Sparkle,” it all became more palatable.  And even though you were at your two-hundred and seventy-fifth show, the band always understood that there were many present for the first time.

As we sit on the brink of Hampton, creeping closer everyday, the fact is that there will be a whole new generation of Phish fans once we step back into the freezer.  Kids who were twelve, thirteen, and fourteen when Coventry happened, and have spent the last few years listening to shows and posting online, are dying to experience Phish for the first time.  There will also be those who will be those who will be discovering Phish for the first time ever, like we did so many years ago; some with no knowledge of the band’s music at all.  As they always did, Phish will play to entire room in Hampton, mixing new and old school “singles” in with their improvisational adventures.  Yet this time around, when Bouncin’, Golgi, and Sample boom through the PA, they will sound a little bit sweeter, and a lot more meaningful.  They will be sonic blessings whose musical paths will bring us back to a time long ago, while introducing others to their future.  Anyway you cut it, they will be magic to our ears.


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7.11.91 Battery Park, Burlington, VT SBD < LINK

artist-99187166-1450185Here we have a crispy DSBD of a free show in Phish’s hometown during the Summer ’91’ tour with The Giant Country Horns.  This show marks the first performance of The Doors’ “Touch Me,” and features bust-outs of “Frakenstein” and “Flat Fee” after 217 and 348 shows, respectively.  Amidst a tour of standout shows with the horns, the band was ripping as the next night would be their a classic show in Keene, NH released as Live Phish 19.

I: Oh Kee Pa Ceremony > Suzy Greenberg, The Divided Sky, Flat Fee, My Sweet One, Stash, Lizards, The Landlady

II: Dinner and a Movie > Cavern > TMWSIY > Avenu Malkenu > TMWSIY > Mike’s Song > I Am Hydrogen > Weekapaug Groove, HYHU > Touch Me*, Frankenstein

E: Contact > Big Black Furry Creature From Mars

With The Giant Country Horns. *First time played.


46 Responses to “Getting Into IT”

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  1. Ben Says:

    I started listening to Phish in 8th grade in 2004 because my brother and his roommate said they were incredible. I listened to Suzy Greenberg over and over because I thought it was catchy and it didn’t sound weird like that one “reba” song my brother played. It wasn’t until my freshman year that I felt IT after hearing the 7.16.94 harry hood which nearly brought me to tears. I have since bought every studio and live albums and downloaded over 300 shows because I can’t get enough. My brother was lucky enough to win lottery tickets, but I started working 5 days a week for tickets and I’m hoping to get a little help from Christmas, birthday, and graduation present. It is still probably unlikely but maybe. My parents think I am insane for constantly listening to the same band for the last 4 years. I love this site because it’s awesome to think that so many had felt IT when I was 2 years old and still know about it. I hope to one day see them live. Thank you Mr. Miner

  2. Crowther Says:

    You know in terms of the prices, If ticketmaster, and whoever else, wants to go to that much trouble to make all that money, Let them go for it. I love Phish. And someone could say to me, “that still doesn’t solve anything”. Yea but whining about makes it worse. It is what it is. I had to pay extra, and if thats how its gonna be for the whole summer tour, I wont be able to go to many. I feel like though when your kind and let go of your dramas. The rest takes care of itself. And if money is what they want so bad let them have it. It is just paper anyway (I know that can be debated for hours and value and all). But objectively it is a piece of paper. It only has any value because we give it value. So while they are worrying about their paper, even if we are not their we will be enjoying ourselves, with true happiness. And if it really gets that bad, eventually Phish will be forced to do sometheing because people wont be able to afford to go.

    So SURRENDER TO THE FLOW. You even said Mr. Miner that we “learned to trust Phish”. Now I realize your comment was in a musical context. But i feel When dealing with the four coyotes on stage – it applies to all aspects. And I read the comments everyone writes on here. All the Spiritual, Coincedences and Existential Stuff, the Tour Stories, On the Road, the Inital Experiences. Well if what anyone says is true about loving Phish and really mean what they say and that, ^^Little Buddy said it – have a little faith. You dont just have faith when your at a show and they are melting your face off with a hood or like a Yem (among many many others). You have faith Then and Now. You have Faith at 12/31/95 and You have faith at 8/16/04. Phish is not a Coat. You dont put it on for Shows and take it off when “Ticket Prices get bad” or “They are on vh1” or a bad show. I know a guy that saw 80+ shows. He was there 92 on. And he says all the time how people would complain “oo phish is playing bigger venues – It’s over”. “Phish has DWD on Vh1 – They arn’t the same.” “Phish is on the cover of Rolling Stone – We lost out the guys” (In terms of them being the same – of course not Bob Dylan or Miles or Trane would not be who they are if they didnt Change. The only Constant is change). And he says each time when they would complain it didnt mean anything. They were still there. They were still Cactus, Henrietta, Wilson (just kidding) Big Red, and Leo. And I realize that is not exactly an argument right not, but i feel it applies in the sense – THEY ARE STILL PHISH. And if anyone TRULY does trust them then I question what their is to worry about. Don’t whine about the storm and let it pass, Dance in the rain.

    I know it might just be the worst thing in the world to miss a Phish show, And it might be because you cant afford it, well if you cant go/afford it (and you have been) then Be happy you went. I am happy you went I have never seen Phish, but i get to read all the posts. All the stuff just like ^^rb described. I was where ^^Andrew and ^^Brad were. I was like 13-14 during Coventry. I am a sophmore in College now. And although I was never there my friends and I still geek out to Phish now. I know its not a “Show”, but we have the recordings. And they arn’t that bad, even the audiences arn’t. And like i said I paid the extra for Saturday (I got lucky wiht a friend for Fri an Sun.) and even if I had not i would have still payed more.^^Andrew has to work 20 hours a week. I respect that.

    O and ^^Joe England – said sorry for being on his soapbox (I am aware what i have said could be judged as that as well), but i dont think you should be sorry. Its what you feel. And your not being disrespectful or unkind to anyone. I am not sorry for what I wrote. I feel it and I mean it. And Joe I agree with you. I really dont liek when people bring that stuff around. Its there business, but whether someone was at a 95 show or knows more Phish in the end doesnt mean anything. If anything if someone doesnt know much or anything at all, What little i do know, I want to show them. I feel like everyone should get a chance to see Phish or experience them in some way. Just like you said Joe^^ you would show them in a heart beat. Exactly. If you are real and your yourself then thats what matters. Not what you know that someone else doesn’t or what show you were at that someone else wasn’t. And if your real then It’s good. Real is Good. The ones that have to act like that are the ones that are the ones that obviously DON’T get IT. If they did they would not waste their time with stuff like that. They would be Stepping into Freezers, Bagging it, Tagging It, Selling it to Butchers, And Then dancing With Some MeatSticks. They would be Bouncing, Setting their Gear Shift, or taking a Bath.

    And even if it does “suck” and you can’t go, you still have your friends and your family. You still have your memories. Your still an ALive one. When your sitting on your death bed your not gonna be thinking about “O I didnt get to see Phish play that one time” “Those ticket prices sucked”. You Will Be thinking about ALL THE TIMES YOU DID SEE PHISH. Just look at all the posts on here. All the Fucking Stories and Posts. I was Not even there and it gets me everytime. ^^ Manatee knows. Even this specific blog. Look at what everyone wrote. Look what Mr. Miner writes about everyday. ^^Matso was talking about that “WONDER”. It gets me everytime. Thats what youll be thinking about when your dying. Either that or how the next life you will be better dressed.

  3. Crowther Says:

    I know i write a lot, and if it bothers people i apologize. I guess I just get excited but I just thought about:

    ^^Campion – That is a sick Idea for a shirt. I will DEFINTLEY buy one of those.

    And ^^TadCaster – When you think about it thats a Perfect idea for an Opener.

    “Then Before and Now Once More I’m Bouncing Around the Room”. The Music SOOO Bounces around the Room and the Phans Totally will be bouncing around the room grooving and shaking it down. Not to mention “The place I sought was far beneath the Sea”. WHERE DO PHISH LIVE?

    And look at this:

    The sirens sang their songs for me
    They dance above me as I sink
    I see them through a crystal haze
    And hear their sweet sound bouncing round
    The never ending coral maze
    The crystal haze
    And hear them bouncing round the room
    The never ending coral maze

    Sirens sang a song for me…. (Besides the obvious, Treys guitar can sound like a siren sometimes) They Dance as I sink Into The vibrations of the music. The crystal haze is so the fog and smoke (among other things) (Hampton is in Virginia, there will definitely be smoking). The SWEET SOUNDS BOUNCING AROUND. Thats obvious. The Coral Maze is the music. The Jesters totally take us through a Maze. And Its definitely NEVER ENDING.

    Maybe I’m reading to much into, but when TadCaster said that “Then Before and Now Once More” and how Bouncing would be a perfect opener. I thought about it. It would be perfect. And maybe even that women they speak of in the beginning is that happiness we look for in that significant other we search after. “The Dream” And The echo of her speaking constantly Bounces. And If anyone saw the movie “Into the Wild” or read the book, thats a pretty accurate representation of the notion “Life has no meaning until you have someone to share it with.” That Song Is powerful when I think about it now. Who knows Maybe Tom and Trey had no intention of that. And maybe I am just biased because that was the tune I first heard. I dont know. I was just thinking about it.

    Thanks Tad Caster

    Thank you to everyone posting. It is always so good to read everyones Posts.

    And as always Thank you Mr. Miner

  4. lanser Says:

    another great one mr. miner. esther caught my ear instantly as well as golgi and yem. ah 12/25/92 the first time i ever listened to phish. i’ll never forget that night. what a christmas present.
    thanks judd.

  5. DAve Says:

    Kudos to you Miner. As someone who still relishes in the original uniqueness of Bouncin’ or or some other “played out” song, I applaud your highlighting that it was these type of songs (Sample, Bouncin’, Silent) that piqued our interest in the first place. I have always enjoyed a well placed “sell-out” song at a show. The Bouncin at the end of set I Hampton ’96 was, for me, perfectly calming.

  6. Carla Says:

    Great blog! The early 2 songs that hooked me were Lizards and The Wedge. I was also lately thinking about how NICU and PYITE were 2 of my fav set openers. I’ll always remember the energy inside Albany ’97 during that PYITE.

  7. burndog Says:

    The first two songs that caught my ear were Sample in a Jar and If I Could. I had a buddy that would pick me up for work and he would be playing Hoist in his cassette player. I have yet to hear If I Could. It took me 26 shows to hear Sample In A Jar. It was at the Target Center in 2000. The last show that I saw before their first break. I have heard Sample 7 times since 2000. I have a feeling that we will hear it in Hampton.

  8. shpongleyez Says:


  9. bigtimd Says:

    um… maybe this is off topic but can you link up the 2nd set of 7.15.99?

    i think we all know why.

  10. HEADBAND25 Says:

    This entry reminds me of the conversation you and I had in the car on the way to the warriors game. A certain friend of ours dismissed Squirming Coil as a crappy song and I disagreed. I think I deserve some sort of acknowledgment for inspiring you to write this…

    Keep up the good work Mines, and get to working on that sign…

  11. Carl Says:

    Great post! Maybe the shorter songs came to be regarded as filler because the band started to treat them that way. If you listen to a show from 93 or 94, chances are that the non-jam songs will be played with the same care and attention as the longer improvisation vehicles. As much as I love the later jams, it’s much easier for me to listen to an entire first set from early/mid-90s Phish, where the short songs don’t create the same feeling of breaking the flow. (One of the things I love about later 2000 shows is that they seemed to get into the songs again, putting together weirder setlists and playing shorter songs with respect)

  12. In Flagrante Delicto Says:

    Great post, Minor. And I appreciate the comments as well.

    First song I ever heard was Fee, in the car of a hippie chick I has eyes for in the Spring of 1994. I wasn’t into it. The same chick gave me a mix with Sample on it, and Junta followed (again on a XLII) and I was intrigued.

    I had tickets for Great Woods summer 1994, 7/8/04, just because some friends were going. They played a full Henge in the first set. I wasn’t there. I traded the tickets away so I could do something else that night, like a moron.

    Finally saw them the next summer, at the same venue, 7/30/05. By then I was more familiar with their music, but only the studio stuff. The whole show experience is a treasured memory for me. The Bag opener made me pay attention. But I didn’t get IT until it got dark. When your first show is outdoors, the first time the lights go down as the band walks onstage is the second set. I’d never been in such an electric environment. Then the stage fills up with all this fucking smoke, the band starts playing low, weird, disonant noise, and BOOM. They dropped 2001, everyone went nuts, and I got IT.

    The moment that the lights drop, before a note is played, may still be my favorite moment at any Phish show. I hit an entirely unexpected stroke of good luck with TM, and I can feel that moment already, months in advance.

  13. burndog Says:


  14. tubeopener Says:

    Nice post. I got it standing rear of the stage right behind fishman at Hampton ’96. It was a mind opening show. Keep these ’91 horns shows coming!!!

  15. oboyler12 Says:

    Its crazy, i was 14 for coventry too and its weird how people can have such similar stories. My older brother was a huge phan and he would always play them for me. i enjoyed parts (the end of antelope, sample, dwd) but i would never listen to them on my own. A few years ago i decided that i needed to give them another shot. I happened to buy NYE 95. I listened to pyite and the sloth and really enjoyed them. Then reba happened. I couldnt believe what i was hearing. Literally the most beautiful thing i have ever heard in my entire life. The build in the jam is so intense and emotional. It did something that no other piece of music could do and it made me a die hard. Now phish is by far my fav band and i cant get enough. Now i just count down the days. Somehow i got tickets to the sunday show and i get to go with my brother and his friends that hw would used to go to shows with. I can say without any doubt it will be the happiest day of my life so far. o yeah that reba is still my fav jam

  16. Carl Says:

    I think I was on my way to Driver’s Ed when I heard Chalkdust on WBLM, the Blimp–they probably had HORDE tickets to give away–so my first exposure to Phish was that slowed down, fattened up, droopy, dripping Trey vocal, which did not get me hooked. (I don’t know the story about that track, but I now take it to be a reference to the sound of tapes that get slowed down somewhere in the many, many generations between the taper and you, back in the days of actual tapes.) The Blimp played Cavern, too, and I loved the “give the director” part, and bought Nectar and kind of liked it. I had my guitar teacher figure out the riff from Stash for me, and I started learning arpeggios and jazz chords. But I still didn’t really get it. Half a year later, I went to my first show (2/3/93, Portland Expo). I loved the Wedge (which happened to be the 1st Wedge), and Fee–I loved how everyone was singing, and I wanted to be part of that community. But the jams freaked me out, especially David Bowie–the Expo has acoustics like an airplane hangar, and the more lazer gun-like moments of guitar hurt my ears, plus I had smoked and couldn’t hang. Ha ha! I went home somewhat depressed that I hadn’t loved seeing Phish. It was the solo on Reba from Lawn Boy that really showed me how to listen to Phish, and by the time they returned to Maine, three months later, I was a complete convert, eager for soul-twisting dissonance and mixolydian bliss and absorption into the light and sound.

    Thank you for inviting us to tell our stories!

  17. Jampirate Says:

    Between the great post and the stories from the good folks gearing up for their first show, I have been brought back to my own emotional discovery of IT. As weird as it seems, Union Federal from Junta was the first song that got me thinking these guys must be something special. Having only heard this one album, my same friend that gave it to me invited me to a show. 4/24/94 was my first show when I got IT….sometime during Bowie.

    I am getting incredibly excited just thinking about so many Phans having their first experience. I think that special fresh new energy has always been an integral part of the Phish. Thank you, Mr. Miner, for the reminder of all the things that come together to make what we all love so much.

    Brad, Andrew, Crowther,and Ben….you guys are in for a treat.

    Carla….PYITE has remained my favorite set opener over the years.

    Tubeopener…I must have been dancing right next to you when you got IT

    Thanks again, Mr Miner

  18. Jacob Says:

    True Story. I had heard Bouncing Around the Room, yeah, I’m part of that crop, in like ’95 or ’96 on the radio from A Live One. We had a pretty heady radio station in Indianapolis.

    Anway, I went to go buy Lawn Boy, so I could hear Bouncing, but instead of the Lawn Boy disc, they actally put in the Picture of Nectar disc inside of the Lawn Boy case. Don’t know how it happened, but I loved it. Turning on my little boom box and playing The Mango Song before school remains one of my favorite Phish memories.

    Then I purchased A Live One. It was game over after that. I had to have Phish.

  19. John Campion Says:

    bhizzle: Tshirts are being made as we speak. I’ll have them on summer tour as well (east coast)

  20. Drinks>Chainsaw Says:

    1992>Friend home from Prep School on break, has a “bootleg” tape of “New Music”> Smoke Filled Car Ride> hooked on phish, saw a show the next month for 10 bucks

    Encore: Paying ridiculous amounts of money to see the Hampton shows> Well worth it

  21. Sloth Says:

    I fell into the groove in the fall of ’94 when a friend first used the words phish and dead in the same sentence. funny thing was i thought phish was a codename for the dead, so when he told me phish was coming to va i thought he was actually talking about the dead, who were also playing in va. despite the initial confusion, which was overcome by the purchase and subsequent non-stop hours upon hours of listening to hoist (if i could being the “it” moment – though philosophically it was really a “thou” moment of connection – martin buber anyone?), that initial spark sent me on a journey that brought me closer to friends, self, god, parking lots, late-night rides, and cool ass camp sites in the middle of nowhere, following and loving phish. musically there is nothing better. no other musicians wield the power to control so many minds. many moments of collective consciousness at big cypress proved this to me, but no more than the pause in the middle of divided sky, the change from the dark thank you mr. miner to the light-fluffy thank you mr. miner leading into my favorite phish moment of happy bliss that followed (hood would be call on day 1 second set closer). yes, the memories of the experiences stay with us throughout our years. and yes, hampton will create more, whether the notes are heard inside the mother ship or through the scratchy sound of a friend’s cell phone. and they won’t be the end all or the be all. since, like many things in life, nothing can ever reclaim that magical moment of the first aha phish moment. thank you all for sharing. i’ll see you here, there, or someplace in between getting gas.

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