Not A Wasted Note

Fall '98

Fall '98 (Unk)

Once in a while, Phish will play a jam where every note falls in the right place.  Fluid and flowing in the subconscious state, the band becomes a model of musical efficiency, using each note with intention; nothing is superfluous.  The music is channeled directly from the source, untouched by human error.  Each tone, texture or sound has a purpose, and there is no part of the jam that isn’t completely coherent.  When all four members peak together for twenty minutes, the results can be glorious. A jam can- no doubt- be outstanding without this level of perfection, yet every now and again a version of a song pops off in such a way, leaving you amazed that four humans just created it.  There are many examples of this phenomenon, and 12.29.98’s “YEM” is one of them.

Punctuating arguably the best set of the ’98 New Years Run, Phish morphed into a robotically-precise groove machine, transforming Madison Square Garden into an all-out, end of the year, dance party.  This “YEM,” from its first note to its last, never missed a beat; a model of collaboration.  With communication like none other, this version sounded like you were listening to a record.

1998-12-29moThe initial composed portion was played almost impeccably, at a pace where every note of every arpeggio could be heard with crystal clarity.  Moving into the blissed out soundscape- the calm before the storm- the band never faltered, providing divine harmonies, yet moving through the passage with direction and a subtle sense of urgency.  As Phish moved into the next compositional segment, followed by the song’s mid-point build, they were firing on full throttle, without getting ahead of themselves for a second.  The pace of their playing was discernibly patient, yet fierce at the same time.  As Mike played a series of melodic lines behind Trey’s massive sustained peak, The Garden was cleared for take off- and that is exactly what it did.

From the initial funk drop though the end of the song, the band’s playing was flawless.  Moving through the lyrical segment and Page’s solo during the trampoline section, the band was clearly locked in and ready to explode.  And then Trey and Mike jumped off.  Communicating with mind-bending efficiency, the ensuing jam sounded completely rehearsed.

Hampon (Unk)

Hampon (Unk)

Beginning a clinic in Phish grooves, Trey initiated a crack-style rhythm pattern that Mike immediately backed with “The Way I Feel’s” bass line.  As the band moved into the jam, every member’s phrases were offered as complements to each others’, clearly listening as hard as they were playing.  Collectively switching patterns at the drop of a hat, or more literally a single snare hit, the band progressed through a catalog of dance patterns.  The music jumped from the stage with such vitality as a living breathing entity.   Dynamic and bursting with a controlled energy, this version showcased the band not only at the climax of a standout show, but at the end one of the peak years of their career.

Artistically building out of the funk, the jam gained a head of steam, driving forward like a freight train, with every member crushing it while fitting together like a jigsaw puzzle.  Page’s lines leapt from his grand piano, Trey painted colorful strokes across Mike’s oddly melodic musings while Fish surfed a wave of precise beats and incredibly tight rhythms.

The peak and the post-peak sections maintained 100% engagement by all, and were good to the absolute last drop.  With each band member at the top of their game, this version of their seminal piece provided a snapshot of what 1998 Phish grooves were all about.  An archetype of efficiency, this “YEM” represents the type of jam that emerges when everything clicks and no notes are wasted.


LISTEN TO 12.29.98 “YEM” NOW! < LINK (Roll over, click play)



3.6.09: Photo: C. Taylor Crothers



4.10.93 Aragon Ballroom, Chicago, IL SBD < LINK

4.10.93 Aragon Ballroom, Chicago, IL SBD < TORRENT  LINK

Aragon Ballroom, Chicago, IL

Aragon Ballroom, Chicago, IL

Taking it back exactly 16  years, here we have a SBD memoir of Phish’s performance on this day in 1993.  In Chicago, the band threw down a hot show, with a big “Mike’s Groove” strewn with humor, darkness, and an interlude of “Great Gig In the Sky” holding down the second set.  In addition, local blues artist, and multiple-time Phish guest, Sugar Blue, joined the band for the final four songs of the second set.

I: Runaway Jim, Weigh, Sparkle, Split Open and Melt, The Squirming Coil, My Friend My Friend, Uncle Pen, Chalk Dust Torture, Lawn Boy, David Bowie

II: Lengthwise > Maze, Bouncing Around the Room, Rift, Glide, Big Ball Jam, Mike’s Song > Great Gig in the Sky > Weekapaug Groove, Funky Bitch*, Help Me*, Hoochie Coochie Man*, Cavern*

E: Amazing Grace, Good Times Bad Times

*With Sugar Blue on harmonica and vocals.

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162 Responses to “Not A Wasted Note”

  1. Mr. Completely Says:

    has anyone ever seen lots shirts with Trey as superhero and big “The Crimson Dago” logo? that would be badass. best nickname ever.

  2. whole tour! Says:

    i just saw the first epic south park of this season….the ‘queef’ episode….lol…f’ing hillarious….required viewing!

  3. SOAM Says:

    Saw TAB at a tiny gym in Burlington for Jazzfest a while back and bumped into him-I asked if he was any good at hockey and he laughed-then I told him Flyers suck, Bruins rule.

    The shows were sick -the place was like Hoosiers -tiny and balcony hanging over floor.

    couple tales, couple tokes, couple saucebuckets-dig?

  4. whole tour! Says:

    nice SOAM! always quality to hang with big red.

    I met mike once before a “duo” show here in town. He was a cool cat. He was just chillin’.

  5. hairy pood Says:

    I used to live in Burlington, and I’d see the boys all over town. I cooked lunch for Trey at Pacific Rim, Page sat directly behind me in the movie theater watching “Fahrenheit 9/11” (my girlfriend at the time was freaking out), saw Fish in the Co-op a few times, and I made a point of seeing Mike every Tuesday at the Radio Bean. I was friends with Gordon Stone, so during Honky-Tonk Tuesday setbreaks, Gordon and Mike would often sit down at the bar next to me and we’d just shoot the shit……

  6. c0wfunk Says:

    woah some dood just played the national anthem on a skull shaped guitar before the mets marlins game .. how bizarre I have no idea who it was and the announcer’s didn’t say..

  7. shpongleyez Says:

    Interesting Dead article in the NYTimes:

  8. BingosBrother Says:

    Nice download Miner. I think this is the show where Trey said he was actually seeing the notes before he played them and he’s been chasing that moment ever since. Last show I ever saw with my bro was a Sugar Blue encore(Hoochie Coochie Man, Messing With the Kid) and the first show I took my Dad, bro, and cuz to 2 years later had a Sugar Blue encore(Funky Bitch, Messin With the Kid). Good Times

  9. old dude Says:

    nice show, indeed. my third (all chicagoland), and third in a row they opened with Runaway Jim. maybe that’s why i feel it’s the quintessential opener.

    still remember those opening chords – front row! head thrashing neck injury on SplitOAM jamfest. wicked evil My friend. my brain farted out my ear hole upon hearing GTBT. good times.

  10. old dude Says:

    cowfunk – seems the skull guitar was a bad omen for Maine. 2 runs already? can’t stream gameday on…..too much torrent downloading eating my bandwidth – that shit’s addictive. see what Miner has wrought!? should I choose Mets 04-10-09 or Shoreline 10-07-00 flac? damn you technology and your tradeoffs!!!!

  11. BingosBrother Says:

    I’ve had a wicked hangover all day and that YEM is the first thing to actually make me get the fuck up and live. I think I might need new CPU speakers after that one. WOW!

  12. gavinsdad Says:

    what about the power dank yem from 12/9/97?

    love the supporting jism spray from dirksen…where the heck did he go? his reviews made dull work days amazing.

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