The Middle of Mike’s

Mike’s, Hydrogen, Weekapaug. Ahhh.  It rolls off your tongue sweetly, with just enough syllables to create a mini-rhythm all its own.  This musical combination represents a pristine Phishy realm, like an untouched natural habitat.  Debuted at Underhill, VT, on July 23, 1988, the trilogy of “Mike’s Groove” was born.   During the band’s formative years from late-1988 thru the end of 1992, the band would engage in over 200 “Mike’s Grooves” without anything but “I Am Hydrogen” between the bookends.  Yet, as the band progressed into late-’93 and ’94, things didn’t always remain as pure.

img_1416Regardless of the many interludes the band would take between “Mike’s” and “Weekapaug” during their career, “I Am Hydrogen” always fit the best.  Providing a gorgeous confluence of harmony and melody, it was the ideal connection between the dark and boisterous “Mike’s” jam and the happy, celebratory nature of “Weekpaug.”  Together, the three formed a mini-psychedelic journey all on their own.  Flowing seamlessly from sinister mystery to inner reflection and capped by cathartic release, “Mike’s Groove” was an acid trip in a microcosm.  The three-song suite grew to be as Phishy as anything in the band’s catalog, never ceasing to bring roars from any and every crowd.

Before “Simple” was debuted at San Francisco’s Warfield Theatre on May 27, 1994, Phish had already begun creating divergent segues out of “Mike’s Song.”  Breaking the 200+ streak on February 4th, 1993 in Providence, RI by merging “Mike’s” with “The Man Who Stepped Into Yesterday,” all bets were now off.  But on this spring night in San Francisco, Phish introduced what would become the next chapter in “Mike’s Groove” mid-pieces.

picture-021bAs the band began to experiment with the transition into “Simple,” hitting it at various points in the Mike’s jam, the effect was always similar- a surge of collective adrenaline and a roar from the crowd.  The guitar anthem had such a catchy hook and playful lyrics, it was hard not to enjoy the new addition.  Yet, the Gordon-scribed piece, while adding energy to the overall “Mike’s Groove,” took away the flowing peaks and valleys of the musical path.  Throughout the rest of 1994, “Simple” split time with “Hydrogen” as the Mike’s Groove connector.

Once ’95 hit, Phish began using different songs out of “Mike’s,” diverging from their pattern of years past. 1995, the year of the fewest “Mike’s Groove’s” up to that point, saw such diverse pieces as “Contact,” “McGrupp,” “Keyboard Cavalry” and “A Day in the Life” take “Mike’s” into “Weekapaug.”  In 1996, “Simple” morphed into its own jam vehicle, and while often played inside “Mike’s p1010089Grooves,” many standalone versions provided set highlights.  Throughout ’96 and ’97, “Simple” and “Hydrogen” again split time as the dominant “Groove” connectors, and on July 22, 1997, amidst an epic second set and monsoon in Raleigh, NC, the band brought both songs into a super “Mike’s Groove” for the first time ever, a hallmark occasion in Phish history.  During these same years, however, a new trend was also emerging- the “Mike’s Sandwich.”

As the mid to late ’90’s progressed, “Mike’s Sandwiches”- instances where Phish would stuff multiple songs in between the slices of “Mike’s” and “Weekapaug,” became more prevalent.  Often creating whole sets out of a “Sandwich,” the band turned more inventive in what could constitute a “Groove.”  Most of these “sandwiches” fell in line with the burgeoning pattern of using “Simple” as the main exit out of “Mike’s” for ’98, ’99, and ’00.  During these years, the band literally cut most “Mike’s Song’s” in half, substituting “Simple” for the second Mike’s jam after the initial, old-school strobe and trampoline jam.

image-ba5376ba449611d7Phish’s final show at Shoreline before the hiatus, 10.7.00, saw “Mike’s Groove” return to its original incarnation, kick-starting the band’s finale early in the first set.  This farewell “Groove” proved to me a harbinger of post-hiatus “Mike’s Grooves” which would see a return to the combo’s initial form.  All but one performance in ’03 and ’04 adopted the uncompromising flow of the original trilogy- “Mike’s > Hydrogen  > Weekapaug.”

Only three times in their career did Phish bypass a connector all together, improvising right from “Mike’s” directly into “Weekapaug.”  All three- Hershey 12.1.95, Niagara Falls 12.7.95, and The Gorge 7.17.98– were huge moments in band history.

With the impending return of Phish, you would figure we aren’t too far away from our next “Groove.”  It will be interesting to see what direction Phish will take its classic interlude in this third time around the block.

What are your favorite “Middle’s of Mike’s?” Respond in Comments!



BONNAROO: While the official line-up will be announced on February 3rd.  Most feel that with the addition of Knoxville, that Phish is a shoe in.  This article from certainly seems to think so.

header-new1TICKETS: Things seemed to go more smoothly for the general community with Summer Tour’s ticket requests.  Despite the inevitable rejections (including my order), with less concentrated demand, more fans seemed to get their hands on some tickets.  If you have some extras that you need to trade, there is a lot of trading going on over at Phantasy Tour.  If you have any extra pavilions for any show, look no further than! I’m looking! I’ll get all the regular on sale info up here in an organized fashion before Friday so you can plan your strategy….In other news, I’m already hearing talk about Halloween at MSG!



8.20.93 Red Rocks SBD < LINK
pollockposterWith most everyone waiting with bated breath for the potential announcement of Red Rocks shows, (and others denying it could ever happen), I thought we’d revisit the band’s first trip to Morrison, Colorado’s legendary venue. A sublime show the whole way through smack in the middle of one of Phish’s best months of their career, highlights abound from both sets.  The setlist speaks for itself.  The “Antelope” is insane.

I: The Divided Sky, Harpua, Poor Heart, Maze, Bouncing Around the Room > It’s Ice > The Wedge, Ginseng Sullivan, Rift, Run Like an Antelope

II: Also Sprach Zarathustra > Slave to the Traffic Light, Split Open and Melt, The Squirming Coil, My Friend My Friend > Chalk Dust Torture, You Enjoy Myself > Purple Rain* > HYHU, Cavern

E: The Mango Song, Freebird

*With Mimi Fishman (Fish’s mom) on vacuum.


139 Responses to “The Middle of Mike’s”

  1. aintnotele Says:

    @ Selector J ~ Its my last semester at CofC and I graduate into this tour…it’s like the world has opened up to me and said, “For all your troubles, I present Phish 3.0…enjoy!!!”
    By the way, does it mean you’re golden if you haven’t got a denial email from phish-tickets yet? I already got denied for Knoxville, but no word for the rest of the tour…anyone get a “you’re in” email yet?
    …Sorry to stray from the Mikes Groove comments…

  2. c0wfunk Says:

    tried to d/l that 10-7-99 from the phish spreadsheet, but part 2 isn’t working. Anyone got help on that?

  3. c0wfunk Says:

    both denial and “you got tix” emails went out saturday night. If you haven’t gotten one either way you should definitely call.

    You should not have received any word about Knoxville yet .. the request period ends noon tomorrow.

  4. aintnotele Says:

    Well damn…I thought they would deny each show separately. Its all or nothing i guess, and I read the email more carefully and it was for the previous requests

  5. Full Tour: ANNOUNCED! Says:

    ^ i’m perplexed by the ticketing system/lottery myself. Why is it that say you get denied for asheville, and you have also signed up for mansfield or jones beach…..why would it cancel those other orders just because one show was denied. Is it all or nothing?

  6. Colonel Forbin Says:

    I have 2 pavillions for both nights of Jones Beach, Great Woods, Star Lake, and Deer Creek as well as 2 GAs for asheville. Needless, I was very fortunate this time around. Im lookin to trade for a Saturday (2nd night) Hamptons. Give me a shout….39 days till blast-off!!!

  7. Selector J Says:

    I’ve heard second hand of people getting deer creek but not St. Louis, so I think they filled each order with any of the tickets available. So I don’t think it was all or nothing.

    But what do I know?

    @aintnotele: Big up, Cougar! We’ll have to link up next time I’m in the Chuck. I still got several friends down there. Toast the folks at the Chicken for me.

  8. showhe Says:

    I got deer creek but not asheville, so it’s def. not all or nothing.

  9. aintnotele Says:

    ^ha, i was just at the chicken…gotta get my lunch beer on

  10. lot rat Says:


    reminds me of another trilogoy that flows that way…


    Both start off with modest tempo arrangment, build up into the instrumental connectors…and in a split second send everyone in the building into face melting groove fest.

    PS 10/7 & 8 are good shows, better than the following night in Albany. Piper>Bag night 2…get some

  11. Jer Says:

    “Simple just simply blows, in my opinion. Don’t like it, never did. In fact, Simple may very well be my least favorite Phish song.”

    You know, I cannot stand when Simple segues out of Mike’s…the most anti-climactic point of a show for me. I always have a smile when they drop to F and they go a different direction.

    Strangely enough, I love a lot of the segues into Simple from other songs like 8-16-97, 11-16-97, 10-29-98, and 7-9-03

  12. Mulcahey Says:


    you forget one of the most epic of the epic Sandwiches


    SET 2: Mikes>Simple>Dog Faced Boy>Yamar>Weekapaug

    epicness throughout, the mikes is reminiscent of an evil island luau, melts into a raging simple with some delicate trey/page interplay, which someone turns into a short but sweet dog faced boy. As dog faced boy finishes up, suddenly yamar lifts up out of the settling dust, including shoutouts to treys grand pa. and of course to close it all out a RAGING funky high flying trapeze artist down and dirty grassstain on your favorite pants but live to tell the tale weekapaug. My favorite Mikes groove ever.
    I dont have access to it now but its available at or probably on the google spreadsheet.


  13. SOAM Says:

    Circus is coming to town

  14. camman Says:

    So, ive decided the best “middle of mikes” goes something like this:

    Mike’s> Delay Jam> Set Break> Gamehendge Time Factoryizzle> New Years Count Down> 1996> AUld Lang Syne> Weekapaug

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