Moments In A Box: The South

6.10.09 Knoxville, TN (D.Vann)

6.10.09 Knoxville, TN (D.Vann)

Whether introspective or communal; comical or transcendental, moments are the patchwork that compose the quilt of the Phish experience.  During shows, moments occur more quickly than normal life- one after another colliding with your reality, altering it time and time again.  On Monday we looked at a some of these timeless experiences from the northeast run, and today, we turn to the second part of June- the south.  Starting in Asheville, stopping in Knoxville, and playing two at Bonnaroo; this was a highly anticipated run of shows.  The following are a few parts of the week that standout in most everyone’s memory.


“Ghost” Asheville Civic Center, 6.9 II

The vibe of this show- and its entire day- was the by far the most laid back of tour.  The venue was as relaxed as Asheville itself, as people navigated the GA floor with ample room and they provided a smoking section that overlooked the mountains to puff as much as you wanted at setbreak.  A pleasant experience all around turned into a twisted psychedelic dream early in the second set when “Ghost” started.  Following a Jones Beach version that was a highlight of the northeast, this drop into this “Ghost” brought much anticipation.

6.9.09 Asheville (D.Vann)

6.9.09 Asheville (D.Vann)

The intimate crowd drew silent (despite the copious beverage stations on the floor) as the Phish crept into the jam, sensing something was at hand.  Coming out with a non-conventional rhythm, Fish directed the course of this improv from the get go, taking it directions divergent from the song’s usual groove-fest.  His abstract beat drew eclectic bass lines and unique phrasings by Trey and Page, providing the anchor of a unique initial canvas.  The band did catch a groove after all, carving a unique path of improvisation along the way.  Transforming the music into a soaring piece that fused engaging melodies with crafty beats, Phish gradually and extensively peaked the jam with an entire section of improv.  The whole band was on point as Trey let loose with some of his most sublime playing of tour, cascading surreal melodies as effortlessly as a spring waterfall.  As the band descended from the mountain top, they oozed into into a perfectly placed pool of “Fast Enough For You.”  This was a peak experience for everyone in that tiny venue- just ask them.




“Kill Devil Falls” 6.12, Bonnaroo Late-Night

In a tour whose jams had remained largely inside the box, it was quite ironic that Phish’s most straight-forward new song provided one of the most thrilling rides of the month.  It was debated how Phish would present themselves to the over-sized Bonnaroo audience, and after “Stash” went into “listener-unfriendly” territory, things were looking up.  But they just kept playing song after song, and all this seemed like was another rock and roll addition to the set.

Bonnaroo (D.Vann)

Bonnaroo (D.Vann)

When the composition turned the corner into the jam, everyone bobbed along with the timeless Chuck Berry-esque sound.  As Trey began his solo over a standard groove, nobody knew where this was heading.  Taking the rock and roll path out the back door, Trey started to extend his notes into drawn out sheets of sound, giving the band enough of a hint to hop on and follow his lead.  In one of those disorienting “What song is this?” moments, it didn’t take long before we were far away from the blues-rock launch pad and into some purely Phishy territory.  Halfway through their late-night Bonnaroo set, the band took one of the first and only trips to their outer improvisational realms without morphing into an ambient jam.  This was Phish taking things back to the source using some fierce interplay that grew innocently and organically from a newbie.  Multiple parallels have been drawn between this jam and the famous Camden Chalk Dust from ’99- and rightfully so.  Both stem from similar springboards and carry a certain driving energy into a high-speed, spirited peak.  We all needed an old-school Scooby-Doo double-take when all was done, as we couldn’t believe the most psychedelic jam of the show came out of “Kill Devil Falls.”




“Harry Hood” Knoxville, TN 6.10 II

6.10.09 (D.Vann)

6.10.09 (D.Vann)

After one of tour’s strongest shows had- by all rights- ended three times already with “Hello My Baby,” “Julius,” and “Cavern,” the band shocked everyone by dropping into the opening reggae rhythms of “Harry Hood.”  Getting that shot of adrenaline, my mind instantly refocused after having already moved on to the encore.  As much an experiential moment as a musical one, this “Hood” capped a huge night in Tennessee, and a smoking second set.  Typical of the focused and triumphant “Hoods” of June, this one did not disappoint.  Featuring active interaction by all band members, the improv was highlighted by the incredibly dynamic conversation by Trey and Mike.

While this version wasn’t as drawn out or exploratory as some of the others of tour, it provided an emotional exclamation point to a standout show when everyone least expected it. Moments don’t always have to come from the depths of a show, and this succinct, yet poignant, “Hood” that came out of left field will back me on that one.





soundiconI’m sure you’ve noticed the new format for “Listen Nows,” featured in today’s and yesterday’s posts.  Instead of having that ugly ad-laced audio player, we’ve now got a sharp little Flash player for all the tracks.  But wait- there’s more!

Let’s say you finish listening to a jam and think, “Wow!  Miner’s onto something here- I’ve gotta have that track!  All you need to do is click the orange song link in the title line of the “Listen Now” and you will download it right to your computer.  No need to “right click and save as”- just click the link and accept the file.  I hope you enjoy this new feature of the site, and much props to Alexander K. for the technological work.  (I will be replacing old links with this new feature as well.)



We were going to finish out June’s tour with Alpine’s 6.20 show today, but after technological mishaps continued into the night, I figured it wasn’t meant to be.  I’ll get that final show up tomorrow.  Cheers.

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308 Responses to “Moments In A Box: The South”

  1. Frankie Says:

    Yes he is, of Critters Buggin fame…

    Everyone should own their record Stampede! Been a while since i listened to it but it really blew me away…

  2. bearito Says:

    The illuminasty duo is some cool stuff. They were joined by a bass player recently, Jim Singleton, whom I’m really into. They then called themselves the illuminasty trio. Jim’s a member of Astral Project
    (great band).

  3. bearito Says:

    I have a copy of Stampede but haven’t gotten around to listening to it yet. I certainly will dig it up.

  4. Frankie Says:

    Nice, thanks bearito!

  5. larrybirdflu Says:

    question for everyone. just got my email from PTBM or whatever they are calling it now telling me that my merriweathers will be shipped soon. my question is does anyone know if its a new design for second leg or the same design that they used for all of first leg?

  6. halcyon Says:

    MMW is great. They are a great group of guys, and are really into their craft.

    An interesting story to tell: A friend who lives in Spain was writing for a local weekly newspaper, and he was sent to the Ibiza Jazz Festival to cover it. MMW was one of the headline acts, and he got the chance to hang out with them and interview them. MMW could not ship all of the instruments over to Ibiza (Time, Money, etc) and they had to search all over Europe for Piano Instruments for Medeski. There was a certain organ that medeski had needed and they ended up finding it in a Church in Prague. Needless to say they ended up hauling it via truck to Spain and by ferry to Ibiza.

  7. bl68300 Says:

    miner how do you feel bout sts9? i think youd like em. they take a minute to get used to, but when its there, damn ITs there! (dont know if it was asked, dont like readin through allll the posts after a long day @ work)

  8. Stupendous Says:

    Stampede by critters buggin is an amazing album indeed!!! Outre-Mer, totally different but amazing non the less
    The most amazing Album Ive heard in the past two months : JFJO Winerwood
    I highliy recomend this, i believe its free from their site, could also be the last album wih Reeds??? not sure….anyway Ive liked them for a while but nothing die hard or anything (like ph or mmw) but theres something about this disc thats absolutely stunning…possibly a new member involved or reeds decided to give it his all…do yourself a favor pick it up its free!

    Used to love STS9 back in 01-02 when it was organic man-played jungle-breaks (e.g. Seasons 01 (official release)) awesome…but the band has changed so much over the years that im not sure if i dig the new direction…last time i saw them i got bored….and im into electronica like Prefuse, Squarepusher, Daedelus…in other words stuff they listen to and want to head in their direction just not sure if i get any excitement from seeing these acts live (cpu laptop sample music ) not a strong enough connection for me as an audience member eventhough I myself create electronic music…its not what im interested in performing live….ts cool to chill to at home or party, just not something to witness live…IMO
    Thats where Bisco comes in but imo they have the most awkward song stuctures, melodies, chord changes and Vocals, always looking forward to the trance-fusion jams although i love songs like Magellan…when its epic.
    but the reason I stopped following them (musically, im in FL dont really go to many shows…) was cause after 02 the jamming got stale it was just about your average notch-cranking-Crescendo-peaking jams… and now a days ive heard songs like “sweating bullets” that just fall on the border line cheese (not a SCI reference) but just cheesy techno sound in the structured part of the song…Meh….
    The Duo Is awesome….Absolutely loved Marco’s Solo album aswell….very mature sound in contrast.

    @ Selector: Would love to talk ragga wit you… I grew up in PR thats all I listened to before phish n gd….love dub….really getting into nu dub and a little dubstep aswell…

    on a final note… if you dig MMW or Jazz in general give EST a listen….
    The Esjorn Svenson Trio; to me they are a more elegantly sophisticated acoustic-electric nu bop trio thats very hip yet traditional…way headier than the Bad Plus; which is ok IMO
    …sad to say Esjorn Svenson passed away recently on a diving accident…
    Their last album was shaping up to be so promissing…He will be missed.

    Also If youve read this far and are a MMW-head… I was lucky enough to attend Camp MMW 2008 and taped everything from the smoking improv shows from every night to the lessons and jam sessions between campers…
    Holler if you r interested!
    nuff 4 now!!!

  9. halcyon Says:

    Stupendous…..definitely interested in Camp MMW. Where in PR did you grow up? I have tons of family down there, and visit regularly.

  10. Stupendous Says:

    @Hal: I grew up in the San Juan area, in a town called Guaynabo, but I have fam spread out through the island…Feel free to email me at thebeasel at gmail
    dot com and we can set something up for you to take a peek at CMMW.
    Where do u go in pr?…its a small world after all.

  11. halcyon Says:

    My mom’s family is from and still lives in the Mayaguez, and Cabo Rojo area. I had family that lived in Bayamon. I still have family in Guaynabo. When I visit, I go to Mayaguez / Cabo Rojo, El Combate, Aguadilla, Vieques, and the mountains.

  12. bearito Says:

    Same here stupendous – would love to get some Camp MMW in my life.

  13. Stupendous Says:

    @Hal Cool! My grandmother still lives in Mayaguez. we should hook up down there at some point in future travels, not many phans down there, kind people fur sure some heads…Me & my buddy got into phish back in high school round 95 somehow, and totally overlooked the dead until college…. lol
    -the west is the best, even in pr! Vieques & Culebra are BomB!
    @bear – email me as well…

  14. whole tour! Says:

    MMW is the only band i can say i’ve seen as many times as phish. The very first time i saw them here at the jazz fest in 1996, i had a backstage pass. I was being the huge eyed teenager and i got to meet both medeski and chris wood as they were packing up their gear backstage. “You guys are fucking amazing!” is what i recall saying. They were like “thanks dude” and after that i had a connection with MMW that has driven me to never miss an opportunity to see them. I think it’s up to around 30 MMw shows now, and it’s still not stale.

    They are really their own orgamism. They have remained outside of the mainstream box to their advantage. It has allowed them to continue to play tiny intimate venues, yet they still play the huge and not so huge festivals.

    I had another opportunity to meet IllyB when i was in school out in tally. There was an instore cd signing and he signed my ticket stub and answered all my questions about the crazy percussion instruments he has in his arsenal.

    Another amazing opportunity i had was about three years ago when MMW came to my school here in my hometown and hung out with the jazz students all day, then that night they had a special show in the school’s brand new jazz auditorium. The band specifically requested that everyone there (like only about 200 people) to all come sit in the orchestra pit by the stage. Mostly everyone obliged the band and came down front.

    It was a special intimate gig that was more like a jazz recital than their usual shows. Everyone was super quiet and respectful. They pu ton an outstanding show to the small crowd and finished the gig with them on acoustic instruments at the front of the stage. I have seen them attempt this in front of drunken crowds in bars and theaters, only for the the crowd to be too loud to hear them on the acoustic instruments. At one show i saw, they left the stage looking frustrated that people wouldn’t just shut the hell up and listen. At this jazz recital gig, the crowd was dead silent and for the first time i could actually hear them playing at the front of the stage. Definately something i’ll never forget.

  15. halcyon Says:

    Stupendous……have you ever been to Culebra? That is one place I have to visit. I would also love to explore more of the interior mountains.

  16. halcyon Says:

    thats awesome Stupendous….I have a cousin in Cabo Rojo who is way chill and he and his wife introduced me to some cool reggae from PR…I can’t remember the Band names right now, but they were good. I’ll send a shout out in a few days.

  17. halcyon Says:

    @ Whole Tour….First time I saw MMW was in a small Art Gallery in Mass. It was an intimate venue and they threw down. A couple of years afterwards I caught them in front of a meathead frat crowd in Az. During setbreak the members of the band were chatting with some fans, and I remember Chris Wood saying how frustrated he was with tapers paying more attention to their rigs, and frat boys talking over their music. If my memory serves correct, the second set was noticably louder.

  18. Selector J Says:

    Nice, Stupendous. Definitely would love to chat reggae some time. I’m a bit uneducated in the newer dub stuff. However, one of my friends here in Austin who goes by the name McPullish is a modern dub maestro. He had a pretty big riddim about a year ago called “Back To Mount Zion.” Luciano, Chezidek, and Fantan Mojah all did versions for him. He has a ‘one riddim’ CD out on that and lots of 45s for it, too. (Bonus: He backs all the 45s with heavy dub versions which is unfortunately, not very common these days.) McPullish plays all of the instruments on his riddims (except a flute and some horns on a few tracks) which is unique as far as I know for any dub artists/dub producers. Very knowledgeable, too. He is constantly schooling me on reggae history. I think anyone who likes both electronic and reggae would really dig on his stuff.

  19. Stupendous Says:

    @ Hal: Cultura Profetica? the best regg band we have to offer (to my knowledge) I want to say yes to Culebra i might have been very young,
    most recently went to Vieques
    @ WT: WORD! MMW is def that kind of band. Theyre not rockstars; they’re beautifully human. True Magic striving on the moment. big up!

  20. Stupendous Says:

    @Selector J: McPullish is a modern dub maestro
    Would love to hear/meet/see…not to intune with nu dub names more so in the dubstep realm but i dig the lil ive heard
    Im not gonna lie….I started off w/ Marley then Steel Pulse eventually working my way in to Augustus Pablo, Lee Scratch Perry, Hugh Mundell and some of the more raw stuff, I roy, Uroy, Jesus Dread,. I dig most. but i really dig some of the more “polished” reggae era circa 72-76ish…eg the gladiators, Israel Vibration Black huru…
    Have you checked the Dub Trio? Sick Dub Jams Live if u can handle a punk/metalesque head on both ends of the dub. I believe they are
    Matisyiahus backing band now….

    Reggae Ive seen:
    Ziggy Marley (everytime i see him he makes rain come down from the sky….the first time by repeating the line “great god will come from the sky”
    from bob’s Get Up Stand Up… second time opening for the other ones in 98
    right b4 showtime…crazy thunderstorm…not a huge fan but still magical)
    Alpha Blondy, Lucky Dube, Burning Spear, Culture, The Abyssinians,
    Israel Vibration, Don Carlos, The Wailers, Damian Marley, Steel Pulse,
    im sure i forget some.

  21. Stupendous Says:

    Burning Spear being the most “Jam” friendly reggae show ive ever seen…
    or the only one?…maybe. Every song went past 9 minutes with him coming to the congas that were on the front of the stage doing dub version jams in every song..back in 98..good times.

  22. sumodie Says:

    “First time I saw MMW was in a small Art Gallery in Mass.”

    @halcyon: that wasn’t in northampton was it? My first or second MMW show was across the street from the Academy of Music upstairs at the Noho Performing Arts Center -I think that’s the name. They played forever that night!

    Also love the PR talk -a college roommate of mine is from Guaynabo. We were once on his uncle’s boat off Vieques and saw an amazing “sound n light” show courtesy of the US Navy conducting some night time exercise.

  23. Mr.Miner Says:

    “miner how do you feel bout sts9? i think youd like em. they take a minute to get used to, but when its there, damn ITs there! (dont know if it was asked, dont like readin through allll the posts after a long day @ work)”

    ^ everyone tells me that. I like them as people- great guys. Their music has never gripped me though.

  24. halcyon Says:

    @ Sumodie… was in Northampton, and that is probably the venue. That show was rippin. Earlier I mentioned a friend of mine in Spain and how he interviewed them in Ibiza, and he was at that show with me in Mass. He mentioned that to MMW and they said they remembered playing that night, and that venue.

    Good memories!

  25. Cactus Says:

    What about Oysterhead? I caught one of their shows in Camden in November 01 and I’m pretty sure STS9 opened for them. I was there for Oysterhead, and I’m telling you right now, they freaking ripped shit up. Claypool, Copeland, and Trey. Pretty sick trio right there. I dig all those songs… Shadow of a man…Oz is ever Floating…all that stuff was really, really good.

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