MR. MINER'S PHISH THOUGHTS

12.31.95 (musicremedy.com)

The 1995 New Year’s show at Madison Square Garden is often seen as the coronation of one of the greatest years of Phish, and also the culmination of their their career to that point.  Showcasing a musical smorgasbord of all things Phish, the band tore the roof off the most famous arena in the world announcing their definitive arrival to the music industry.  After years of grassroots touring and dedication to their craft, Phish had proved to themselves, and to all, that they had succeeded.  Peaking their musical style of the fall with boisterous arena improv and tightly wound compositions, Phish was at the absolute top of their game, and it showed.

phish-new_years_eve_1995_b

Churning out what many consider to be the finest Phish show ever, the band played several top-notch versions of their most popular jam vehicles.  The towering highlights included a divine first set “Reba,” second set adventures in “Drowned” and “Runaway Jim,” and a third set that featured a celebratory “Weekapaug,” and a near-flawless “YEM.”  But despite these multiple peaks throughout the night, none were more engaging, vicious, and masterful than the “Mike’s Song” that concluded set two- the final jam of 1995.

The band built on the outrageous momentum created over the fist two sets, and as they approached their second setbreak, the piercing riff of “Mike’s” jumped off the stage like a shotgun blast of adrenaline flooding our collective consciousness. The Garden was soon engulfed in the heaviest improv of the evening, and with their razor sharp chops of December ’95, Phish created a timeless piece of improv that is still revered today.

Gamehendge Time Laboratory (C.Taylor Crothers)

Launching into the jam, Page brought his classic organ swells as the band climbed into a fierce and dirty “Mike’s” groove right off the bat.  Fish and Mike developed a tight pocket in this initial part of the jam, allowing Trey to freely express his thoughts within the framework of a slammin’ groove.  Trey got into some vicious lead lines quickly, and the room transformed into a sinister sonic dungeon as the band furthered their foray into darkness.  The intensity of the music was palpable, as there was no laying back during ’95 “Mike Songs.”  The band attacked the music with aggression and created a smoke-filled monster out of the first jam, but the real improv started when Phish dropped into the second.

For years, the most creative section of “Mike’s Song” was the second jam, following the power chords- the same chords that signaled the song’s conclusion in latter years.  Somewhere along the way in the late ’90s, the band neutered one of their greatest songs, lopping off its ballsiest segment without notice.  But we were still in ’95 here, and when Phish dove into the more menacing and improvisational jam, what resulted was the stuff dreams are made of.  Following the drop, Trey almost immediately entered some solo-shredding that led the band into the meat of the song.  On point and playing like one entity, Phish locked onto Trey’s pattern, entering some full-band grooves that got the room shaking in earnest.

Fall ’95 (T.Mosenfelder)

As the jam progressed, it got more and more coherent as they collectively created passages of pure improvisation, related, but not connected, to “Mike’s” structure.  This was 1995 Phish doing their thing, exploring outer rings of the musical galaxy with enthusiasm, determination, and a sense of unbridled adventure.  Unsure of where they would end up, the band was squarely focused on the moment-to-moment progression of this masterful music.

phas20-11

Bringing the jam to a dissonant crescendo, the textures fell away, and the only sounds left audible were Trey’s multiple loops at the onset of a digital delay jam.  One by one, the other band members left the scorching stage, eventually leaving Trey on stage, silhouetted by the smoke and lights, continuing his innovative one-man jam.  Providing a psychedelic denouement to one of the raunchiest pieces of the entire Fall, the drone patterns created a fitting end to a raucous set.   In the midst of this sonic collage emerged Trey’s voice, bringing us out of our meditative dreamstate, quietly saying, “We’re gonna be back in about 15 minutes. Don’t go away. Thank you.”

It was safe to say that no one was going anywhere.  We had just witnessed a piece of Phish history, one of those moments you didn’t need to hear on tape to confirm its magnitude.  Phish was in the process of annihilating The Garden in their first New Year’s Eve performance in the building, and we were all lucky to be along for the ride.  When the band came out to “Auld Lang Syne > Weekapaug,” 1996 had arrived, and though many lasting moments came from the last night of ’95, this “Mike’s Song” was a crowning homage to one of the greatest years of the band’s career.

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R1’s DOWNLOAD OF THE DAY (Written by contest winner, R1)

7.17.1999 Oswego County Airport, Volney, NY < TORRENT LINK

Oswego 7.99

“Continuing my trend of showcasing sick first sets, I come to you with another reader-request, suggested by several folks.

On an obscenely hot weekend in upstate NY, Phish matched the intense temperatures by bringing the heat, albeit a slow burn, for their weekend mini-festival. Busting out of the gate with a fiery, funktastic “Tube” replete with ubiquitous ‘Crosseyed’ phrasing, followed by a smooth “Boogie On,” it was clear that the fellas were in a dancing sorta’ mood. The highlight of the first set is the “Tweezer > Have Mercy” combo, featured in Miner’s Pick’s: Summer ’99. The jam starts off gooey thick, with a descending progression, before the band takes a collective inhale and releases as Trey’s notes seem to ping-pong between Mike’s bass bombs. Wonderfully melodic, yet full of searing Trey work, this relatively laid-back version segues sublimely into the Mighty Diamond’s plaintive reggae gem.

The second set saw the band welcome to the stage “Funky Bitch” sribe, blues guitarist Son Seals, to join them for a ripping version of the frequent cover as well as another one of his tunes, “On My Knees.”  From there, the set blasted off with a ferocious” DWD.” What followed was some more of the relaxed summer flow, with a beautiful, fluid “Wolfmans > Sally > Timber” sequence and a “YEM” that struts to a similar reserved groove.  This is some oxymoronic chilled-out, summer heat.”

I: Tube, Boogie on Reggae Woman, Birds of a Feather, Guelah Papyrus, My Sweet One, Roggae, Tweezer  > Have Mercy*, Taste, Character Zero

II: Funky Bitch**, On My Knees**, Down With Disease*, Wolfman’s Brother > Sneakin’ Sally Through the Alley > Timber Ho!, You Enjoy Myself

E: The Squirming Coil, Tweezer Reprise

*Trey on keys. **With Son Seals.

Source: Schoeps cmbi + mk2s > AD1000  15″ spread 130 degrees FOB

The 1995 New Year’s show at Madison Square Garden is often seen as the coronation of one of the greatest years of Phish, and also the culmination of their their career to that point.  Showcasing a musical smorgasbord of all things Phish, the band tore the roof off the most famous arena in the world …

Madison Square MikeSong Read More »

The Dawning of Phish 2000 (D. Clinch)

In retrospect, there have been many different opinions posed about Phish 2000.  Many point to the year as a downward spiral to Shoreline when the band officially went on hiatus.  Others feel the band’s playing was inconsistent on a night to night basis, yet recognize that they still created some very memorable moments.  And others tout 2000 as something wholly different, and not such a musical decline at all.  To be fair, if we were to negotiate these positions, we could most likely agree upon the fact that despite a loss of momentum and creativity towards the end of the year, Phish was still Phish and created many amazing evenings during the year 2000.

After the incredible peak of Big Cypress, and without adding any innovation to their sound, the band seemed to lack a new musical direction, something they had traditionally incorporated every year, if not every tour.  Nonetheless, 2000 doesn’t get the credit it deserves and is usually generalized by jaded fans as a year worth forgetting- well, that’s simply not the case.  Let’s take a look back at the year that was.

Radio City Soundcheck (C.Taylor Crothers)

The hype couldn’t have grown greater after the band announced their first post-Cypress shows of the year would take place in New York’s Radio City Music Hall in May.  With a capacity of 5,900 on a weekend in New York City, and with a national ticket demand that shot through the roof, these were certainly the hardest Phish tickets to date.  This would be the first Phish ticket mission in which many people didn’t succeed, something that had become commonplace in this day.  But those who did were treated to two standout performances- specifically the second- that took on an enhanced quality and elegance in the storied venue.  The immortal remnant from this weekend was the masterfully extended “Ghost” that came towards the end of 5.22’s second set.

phish-handbill-japan2000b

Following a fun, but sardine-packed, surprise gig at Roseland for VH-1, Phish would take off for Japan in only a few weeks.  Their seven show run over eight days provided some of the most lasting musical highlights from the year 2000.  On their first outright tour of Japan (they had played the Fuji Rock Festival in ’99), the band treated the incredibly respectful, mostly Japanese, crowds to some absolute gems.  The exploratory and adventurous Tokyo “Tweezer,” that opened up the first show’s second frame, set the bar quite high for the week’s jamming, and the band wouldn’t disappoint.  Highlights oozed from every show-  the “Disease” and “Piper” at Zepp Tokyo,  the “Wolfman’s”, “Antelope” and “Sand” from Nagoya, the entire show from Fukuoka, the “Ghost” and “Disease” from Big Cat in Osaka, the “Runaway Jim” from Zepp Osaka- and those are just the creme de la creme.  With these Japanese tapes getting immediate circulation, many stateside fans were unaware of the magic going down in tiny rooms across the Pacific.  This week abroad was truly a cultural and musical adventure to be reckoned with, and one of rhe most unique Phish experiences ever.

Deer Creek 2000 T-Shirt
phish-polaris-00

Upon returning to America, Phish hopped right into their amphitheatre circuit, announcing their presence on night one in Antioch, TN with a blistering “Jibboo > 2001 > Sand.”  Songs from the recently released Farmhouse would dominate summer setlists, as every other night you were sure to hear “Jibboo,” “Sand,” “Twist,” and “Heavy Things.”  The summer was highlighted by the two-night stand in Camden for July 4th, which featured a heavily improvised July 4th second set, which many consider to be the best music of the US summer tour.  The month wound up in the Midwest, with one show at Alpine, a first-ever three night stand at Deer Creek, and the tour closing two-nights at Polaris.  This last week of shows provided some of the most exciting playing of the tour, as each of the final five shows included some incredible high points.  Such peaks included “Fee > What’s the Use, Limb” from 7.10, the Moby Dick set from 7.11, and “Curtain With” and “Crosseyed > Caspian” from 7.12- all Deer Creek.  The entire second set of Polaris’ 7.14 show featured incredibly dark and intense jamming, as the band squeezed a “Mike’s” “Bowie” and a “Sand” into this ominous frame.  And while the tour closer didn’t hold up to the first Polaris gig, Phish played a shredding “Disease > While My Guitar Gently Weeps” that stood out among the rest as the farewell jam of the tour.

All in all, Summer 2000 was a very successful run.  While some songs may have been overplayed a bit, Phish still had their improvisational chops with them, and hadn’t begun to fully lose steam yet- that would take place in the fall.

Fall Tour Opener- 9.8.00 Albany, NY

Beginning in Albany, and traversing the country to Shoreline over the course of a month, Phish’s playing grew more inconsistent over this tour.  There were still scorching pieces of improvisation- they just came a bit less frequently as the band’s creativity wasn’t always quite as prevalent.  Don’t get me wrong- Phish was still Phish- and I never once left a show with an inkling of disappointment, but when looking back and comparing the many eras of Phish, it was the consistency of excellence that slowed.  Phish brought us on exciting full-length psychedelic treks at Great Woods on 9.11, Darien Lake on 9.14, Merriweather on 9.17, Rosemont 9.22, Minneapolis 9.24, Desert Sky on 10.1, and Shoreline to end it all.  However, while many other shows boasted great individual highlights, the entirety of these efforts was not always up to snuff.

But despite all the nay-saying in the scene about Phish 2000, I enjoyed the year to the last drop and believe it has a lot of music to offer.  As said in the very first sentence of this piece, these observations come in retrospect, and there certainly wasn’t a prevailing vibe of bitterness or negativity at these shows of Fall 2000.  Phish was, and always will be, a celebration of life, and all of its mysteries and splendor, and that element was never lost.  Phish was still our soundtrack as we broke into the next millennium.

9.8.00 Albany, NY

But after Shoreline, we would be forced to wait; the band needed a break.  After touring incessantly since 1990, the guys wanted some time to themselves, and went on an indefinite hiatus.  Some believed that was all we would ever see from the band, while some knew that it wasn’t.  But Phish would be back at it before we knew it, and probably a bit too soon, re-taking MSG’s stage only two years later for New Years 2002- and the rest is history.  Lasting only a year and a half before needing to disband once again for health reasons, Phish would “retire” after Coventy’s debacle.  But here we are in 2009, and while it’s taken us a long time to get back on the train, our train is about to leave the station in a mere few weeks- this time, bound for glory.

phish-allstate-00-pollock

To commemorate all that was good in the year 2000, I present to you two editions of “Miner’s Picks: Phish2k- ‘Summer’ and Fall.” Trying to be as comprehensive as possible without overdoing it, I collected 12 hours of jams from the Summer and 9 hours from from the Fall.  (These are the compilations that chomp tons of bandwidth, so if you decide to download them, please consider a small donation.)

I chose to leave out out the must-hear entire sets of 7.4 II (Camden) and 9.17 II (Merriweather) and 10.7.00 II (Shoreline) for sake of file size, and because those sets shouldn’t be broken up. These shows are available on Phish Thoughts in their entirety.  I also had to leave out Live Phish releases (Alpine, Darien) for which I don’t have AUD sources handy.  Otherwise, there is a ton of great music contained within that chronicles Phish’s last year featuring something from just about every show.  But don’t listen to me, check it out, and come to your own conclusion on the great debate of Phish 2000.

DOWNLOAD MINER’S PICKS: PHISH2k-Summer < LINK

DOWNLOAD MINER’S PICKS: PHISH2k-Summer < TORRENT LINK

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DOWNLOAD MINER’S PICKS: PHISH2k-Fall < LINK

DOWNLOAD MINER’S PICKS: PHISH2k-Fall < TORRENT LINK

SUMMER

1. Disease- 5.21, Radio City II

2,3. Ghost > Rock and Roll- 5.22 Radio City II

4. Tweezer- 6.09, Tokyo II

5. Piper- 6.10 Tokyo I

6. Wolfman’s- 6.13, Nagoya II

7. Sand II

8. Ghost- 6.25, Osaka I

9. Disease II

10.Reba- Osaka, 6.16 I

11.Runaway Jim II

12,13,14. Jiboo > 2001 > Sand- 6.22 Antioch, TN II

15. Moma Dance- 6.24 Atlanta I

16.Tweezer I

17. Antelope II

18,19. What’s the USe > Slave- 6.25, Raleigh II

20. Bathtub Gin- 6.28, PNC I

21, 22. Disease, Hood II

23. Mike’s II

24,25,26. Birds > Catapult > Heavy Things- PNC 6.29 II

27,28,29. Halley’s > Mango > Twist- 6.30 Hartford, II

30. Ghost- 7.1 Hatford, II

31. Runaway Jim- 7.3 Camden II

32. Sand II

33,34. Limb > 2001- 7.6 Toronto II

35 Gumbo- 7.07 Star Lake I

36,37,38. Maze > Shafty > Maze II

39,40,41.Drowned > Chalk Dust Reprise > Chalkdust 7.11 Deer Creek I

42. The Curtain With- 7.12 Deer Creek I

43. Free I

44,45. Crosseyed > Caspian II

46,47,48. Mike’s > Frankie Sez > Bowie- 7.14 Polaris II

49.50. Disease > WMGGGW- 7.15 Polaris II

FALL

1. Ghost- 9.08 Albany I

2,3,4. My Friend > Gumbo > Maze- 9.09 Albany I

5,6. Curtain > Sand II

7,8,9. Piper > What’s the Use > YEM- 9.11 Great Wooods II

10. Piper- 9.15 Hershey Park II

11. Tube > jam II

12,13. Boogie On > Twist- 9.18 Cleveland II

14,15,16. It’s Ice > Velvet Sea > Sand– 9.22 Cincy II

17,18,19. Tube, Reba, Ghost- 9.22 Chicago II

20. Tweezer- 9.23 Chicago II

21,22. Cities > Free- 9.24 Minneapolis II

23,24. Piper > Gumbo- 9.27 Englewood, CO II

25. Bathtub Gin- 9.29 Vegas I

26-29. Dinner, Moma, 2001 > Fluffhead II

30,31. Twist > Sand- 9.30 Vegas II

32,33. Piper > Guy Forget- 10.1 Phoenix II

34. Reba- 10.4 Chula Vista I

35,36. Wolfman’s > Sneakin’ Sally- 10.5 Irvine I

37-40. Drowned > NICU > jam > Bowie II

41,42. Disease > Spock’s Brain- 10.6 Shoreline II

43. Sand II

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R1’s DOWNLOAD OF THE DAY (Written by contest winner, R1)

7.25.97 Starplex, Dallas, TX < LINK

7.25.97 Starplex, Dallas, TX < TORRENT LINK

phish-dallas-97

“This one comes from reader Al’s request. In their 4th show back on U.S. soil following their famous European tour, Phish put together a sweet little show in the currently-threatening-to-secede Longhorn state. Another show with a very hot first set, the boys didn’t take long to delve into a bit of improv with the combo of “Wolfman’s > Maze.”  The “Wolfman’s” features a syncopated jam that moves into a spacier realm- with a tight pocket and the beloved “Crosseyed” teasing and line-ripping from Trey- while the “Maze” is a pretty much a straight rager. The rest of the first set includes an uplifting “Bathtub” into a “Makisupa” that turns a bit bluesy at the end, finished off by a super-energetic “AC/DC.”

The second frame here had renowned jazz drummer Bob Gullotti playing along with the boys on a second kit. I think, had I been in attendance, the out-of-nowhere cymbal crashes and such throughout the set may have hampered my groove a bit. However, Gullotti’s additions definitely do not hamper any of the grooves in the set’s highlight of “Ghost.” Fish and Bob seamlessly churn the beat throughout this exotic rendition, which morphs into a sonic whirlpool unto which cascades of drum fills pour.”
Miner’s note: The entire second set is a dark-horse scorcher, filled with top notch improv from start to finish.  Gullotti fit in beautifully with the band and certainly added to the show.  This is an overlooked highlight along the long road of Summer ’97

I: Beauty of My Dreams, Wolfman’s Brother > Maze, Water in the Sky, Bathtub Gin > Makisupa Policeman > AC/DC Bag

II: Chalk Dust Torture > Taste > Ya Mar > Drums*-> Ghost > Character Zero

E: Theme From the Bottom

Entire second set with Bob Gullotti on drums.  *Trey turns the jam in Ya Mar over to “Leo and the Drummers”; Page drops out of jam leaving only Fish and Gullotti.

Source: Schoeps CMC641 > Oade Preamp > SBM-1 > D8

In retrospect, there have been many different opinions posed about Phish 2000.  Many point to the year as a downward spiral to Shoreline when the band officially went on hiatus.  Others feel the band’s playing was inconsistent on a night to night basis, yet recognize that they still created some very memorable moments.  And others …

Phish2k- Two Thousand Done Read More »

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