“The Crown” – Cincinati, OH

Looking past Festival 8, Phish will soon return to one of their Midwestern homes – “The Crown” (now called US Bank Arena) in Cincinnati, Ohio. Adding the arena to their routing in Fall ’98, Phish played four more shows there before pulling up short in 2004. The Crown doesn’t usually enter into discussions of classic Phish venues, yet, slowly but surely, that is exactly what it’s become.  Hosting one of four multi-night parties of Fall Tour ’09, The Crown will again glow with the aura of the Phish.

November 14, 1998

2.21.03 (Unknown)

Fall ’98 contained a seven show Midwestern run that Phish’s capped off with their first performance at Cincinnati’s downtown venue. Coming off a stellar UIC run and stops in Grand Rapids, Michigan and Cleveland, the band arrived in southern Ohio for a Saturday night gig. The first half contained serious versions of “Reba” and “Tweezer,” balancing the night’s improvisational highlights between the two sets. Reversing their usual pattern, Phish opened the second half with a colossal “David Bowie,” rousing the crowd with its ominous complexity. Tactfully, the band juxtaposed “Bowie’s” ordered chaos with a tranquil splash into The Beatles’ “Something,” calming the opening storm.

The second-set “You Enjoy Myself” stands out as the other significant piece of improv from Phish’s virgin visit to Cincy’s central part of town. As the jam dropped, Trey looped a rhythm lick and then began narrating a solo atop his own groove. This innovative style brought an added layer to “YEM’s” textured funk. And for an encore, the band surprised everyone by debuting The Police’s “So Lonely,” a classic track off of their first album Outlandos d’Amour. All in all, Phish’s first visit to The Crown provided a whole lot of fun and some indelible highlights. The vibe of the arena provided an added bonus, as ushers were non-existent, allowing fans to dance wherever they wanted to – a factor contributing to all of the quality experiences had at The Crown over the years.

December 3 & 4, 1999

2.21.03 (M.Hommes)

Potentially due to this fan-friendly feel, Phish made The Crown a two-night stop along their climactic run of December ’99. Following a tour-opening blowout at The Palace in Auburn Hills, Phish moved south for a weekend stand in Cincy. Building momentum for Big Cypress throughout these shows, The Crown’s two nights brought more than a few “millennial” highlights, showcasing the band’s dissonant psychedelia. The first night, as usual, dove far deeper and darker, with the second set being the unquestionable gem of the weekend.

Opening with a ferocious “Sand,” Phish presented their first of many standout December ’99 versions that culminated at Big Cypress. Not slowing their creativity, the band followed the full-on, textured grooves with an incredibly exploratory “Limb By Limb” that certainly ranks among the best-ever. Moving beyond any conventional “Limb” jam into a section of deep ambient space while carrying melodic undertones, this version belongs in the record books – a truly transcendent piece of music. Phish closed out the set with a hugely aggressive “Piper” and a profound 20-minute “Hood” that dipped its ladle into ’99’s sonic ambiance as well. Composed of four significant pieces of standout improv with “Bug” as a breather in the middle, this set is among the best of December ’99.

2.22.03 (Unknown)

The band came back Saturday night with a comparatively tame show that included only one standout jam – the second set “Split Open and Melt.” With their “millennial” sound peaking, Phish veered into a scintillating segment of psychedelic space-groove in one of the song’s best renditions of the year. The only other significant jam came in the blistering “Bowie” that closed the set. This Saturday-night-special catered to the weekend crowd with a lot of songs, and not a whole lot of improv. Even when they broke out a first set “Tweezer,” it remained quite contained with a simple build and peak. Nonetheless, the other-worldy “Split” defined this show, and provided another indelible memory at The Crown.

February 21 & 22, 2003

The next time Phish pulled into their Cincinnati home in February of 2003, the game had completely changed. Phish had taken their hiatus, and were now on their first tour since Fall ‘2000. As Phish regained their groove over this Winter tour, the Cincinnati weekend immediately stood out as the strongest nights of the tour up to that point. With another Friday / Saturday combo, The Crown instantly became a winter weekend destination for Phish fans across the nation. And when the band completed their fourth and fifth shows at The Crown, there were many outbound travelers leaving the city blissed out.

2.22.03 (Unknown)

The first night boasted an exciting setlist from start to finish. Highlight jams in the opening frame included a massive mid-set “Disease” and the hottest “Antelope” that had reared its horns in the 2.0 era. But Phish upped the ante in the second set, as they came out with the tour’s first “Mike’s Song” – a raunchy 15-minute rendition that destroys anything the band has produced from the song in 2009. Without choosing a classic “Groove” connector, they instead used a monstrous segment of distorted music to segue into “Free;” a bombastic combo that almost blew the roof off the place.

After stopping off in “Waste,” the band continued the fireworks, crafting an intro to “2001” in which Trey quoted Bach as the band blasted into the first “2001” of tour – totally surreal stuff. Infusing the set with a consistent danceability, Phish let loose in a session of serious collaborative grooves that kept the venue bumping. The band already possessed tight communication – a far cry from their comeback run – as they sculpted a superb set. Merging celestial soundtracks, Phish moved from the peak of “2001” into the always-ethereal “Harry Hood,” completing a phenomenal segment of Phish. The set continued with “All Of These Dreams,” “Possum,” and ended with “Cavern.” No “Weekapaug?” A “Velvet Sea” encore left the vicious “Mike’s” hanging without a “Weekapaug ” – a very rare occurrence in Phish history. The Crown’s ’03 reunion had commenced, and as people dispersed to the downtown hotels, spirits soared.

2.22.03 (Unknown)

A “Sloth” opener on Saturday gave an aggressive kick-start to the opening of the show, foreshadowing bigger things to come. A third-song “Piper” blossomed into a scorching piece of improv, making it seem like we were deep in the second set. The band carried the fast-paced jam into even quicker tempos, immersing themselves in an exploratory piece that organically, and seamlessly, wound up in a wild “Weekapaug,” closing out the “Groove” from the previous night! Believe it or not, this is the only time “Weekapaug” has ever appeared in a show without “Mike’s,” and this nugget of Phishiness pumped the already excited crowd into a frenzy. The band was clearly embarking on a very special show.

The second set of Saturday night’s affair still stands out as one of the best frames of the entire Winter ’03 tour, highlighted by a crack-like ‘Tube” jam, a centerpiece “Bathtub Gin” that broke electro-ambient ground, and a late-set “Bowie” that showcased the band’s intricate connectedness. With a distinct flow from start to finish, this five-song frame concluded with the reflective denouement of “Bug.” A “Suzy” encore put a fun cap on two very significant nights at The Crown.

To honor Phish’s history at The Crown and their upcoming visit, I have compiled “Miner’s Picks: The Crown,” totaling over five hours of Cincy jams. The links and track listing are below.





1.”Reba” I

2,3. “Tweezer > Moma” II

4, “David Bowie” II

5.”Something” II

6. “You Enjoy Myself” II

7,8. “So Lonely > Tweezer Reprise” E


9. “Slave to the Traffic Light” I

10. “Down With Disease” I

11. “Antelope” I

12. “Sand” II

13. “Limb By Limb” II

14. “Harry Hood” II



15. “Split Open and Melt” II


16,17. “Mike’s > Free” II

18,19. “2001 > Hood” II


20,21. “Piper > Weekapaug” I

22. “Tube” II

23. “Bathtub Gin” II

24. “David Bowie” II

(Note: I had to pull low bitrate versions of good sources for the post-hiatus stuff, since I only have the SBDs archived. My apologies.)

Winged music note


Jam of the Day:

Limb By Limb” 12.3.99 II

Check it out.



11.14.98 The Crown, Cincinnati, OH < Torrent

11.14.98 The Crown, Cincinnati, OH < Megaupload

I: Funky Bitch, My Soul, Reba, Bouncing Around the Room, Tweezer > The Moma Dance, Sparkle, Character Zero

II: David Bowie, Something, Piper, Golgi Apparatus, Guyute, Hold Your Head Up > Sexual Healing > Hold Your Head Up, You Enjoy Myself, Julius, Hello My Baby

E: So Lonely* > Tweezer Reprise


Source: M.Gefell m210->Lunatec V2->AD1000->DAP-1 @48khz

Tags: ,

Looking past Festival 8, Phish will soon return to one of their Midwestern homes – “The Crown” (now called US Bank Arena) in Cincinnati, Ohio. Adding the arena to their routing in Fall ’98, Phish played four more shows there before pulling up short in 2004. The Crown doesn’t usually enter into discussions of classic …

Tour Stop: The Crown Read More »

Despite Ziggy Stardust being my personal choice for Phish’s musical costume, plenty of other engaging album choices still remain. Assuming Phish is working off their provided list, several defining records could still hold the golden ticket. While everyone has their own opinion of what could work and what certainly will not, I present to five other albums – in no particular order – that Phish could destroy.


Exile on Main Street – The Rolling Stones


Hailed as one of the Stones finest accomplishments, their 1972 masterpiece blends the influences of blues, rock, country and soul to form a double-album considered among the best “studio” works of all time. During the recording process, nine years into their career as one of the biggest rock acts in the world, the Stones found themselves in financial straits, and decided to flee England to avoid paying income tax. The band drove to the French Riviera, setting up shop in the basement of Villa Nellcote, Keith Richard’s mansion by the sea. As they began recording in their makeshift studio, the band members were at the height of their drug and alcohol addictions, including Keith Richards’ notorious heroin habit. The combination of cramped quarters and intoxicated, unreliable band members created a frustrating dynamic for the band as they plugged away sporadically – usually in the middle of night – in all sorts of chemical states.

The resulting work, however, has since been exalted as a trendsetting record of the gritty, drugged-out rock and roll scene that blossomed in the Seventies. “Exile” came first, spawning a generation of bad-boy imitators,  but no one did it quite like the Stones.  Some hail the mere fact that the Stones actually got “Exile” recorded as a miracle, as they were hardly in control of anything during this period. But what resulted was “Exile On Main Street,” the Stones tenth album, and  snapshot of ragged rock stars trying to keep it together. Perhaps Robert Greenfield, author of “Exile on Main St.: A Season in Hell with the Rolling Stones” said it best:

To say that the human toll exacted during the making of Exile on Main Street was extreme is an understatement of major proportions. But then even if you had tried to tell the denizens of Nellcote that far too many of them would, in the immortal words of Pete Townshend, die before they got old, no one would have listened. They were all too busy getting high.


London Calling – The Clash


If Phish were to veer from classic rock, The Clash’s dynamic double-album, London Calling, would be an outstanding choice. The band’s third album, released in 1979, represented a shift in The Clash’s musical style, steering away from the classic punk sound, with  elements of ska, pop, soul, rockabilly and reggae. And unlike The Rolling Stones odyssey of “Exile,” The Clash recorded London Calling within a matter of weeks; many songs finished in one or two takes. “London Calling” was the Clash’s watershed album, transforming the scruffy British quartet into bona-fide rock stars.

Their musically diverse songs carried various political messages. Whether attacking fascism in “Clampdown, denouncing drug culture in “Hateful”, or commenting on political rebellion in “Spanish Bombs,” The Clash’s songs often carried serious meaning amidst their playful feel. “London Calling’s” copious grooves and dub rhythms could provide Festival 8 with a horn-laced, desert dance party with a grand finale of the infectious pop single, “Train In Vain.”


Hot Rats – Frank Zappa


The quirky time signatures, sudden changes, and generally bizarre complexity that defined Phish’s early work can be largely traced directly to Frank Zappa. An iconoclast to the end, Zappa made music his own way – a style that Hot Rats illustrates with vibrancy. Released in 1969, and comprised of only six tracks, Zappa described the album as “a movie for your ears.” Departing from his shorter satirical songs and raunchy lyrics popularized with his band, The Mothers of Invention, Hot Rats focuses on longer, jazz-like instrumentals with extensive soloing – a format that sounds perfect for Phish.

Though the album’s opener, “Peaches en Regelia,” has been in Phish’s long-time repertoire, the overwhelming complexity of the record’s compositions makes me question its real chances. This summer Trey was still working on nailing the licks to “Sugar Shack,” and for this costume he’d have to pick up the nuances of 17-minute track “The Gumbo Variations,” among others. But given the proper time and attention, this album could make for a mind-numbing set. Just thinking about Phish playing “Willie the Pimp” makes my ears drool.


The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway – Genesis


This 1974 double concept album from Genesis could make a spectacular Halloween set, but with a ninety-minute running time “The Lamb” seems like a long shot. However, if Phish were to come out and nail the surreal tale of Rael, a juvenile delinquent in New York City who is swept underground to face his personal demons and split personality, the results would be astounding. Akin in structure to “The Wall,” “Lamb” is a theatrical rock opera that Genesis coupled with an elaborate stage show during their touring days for the album; a show that could translate to the stage in Indio. Peter Gabriel actually played the story’s protagonist, adding another potential layer of costume for Trey. If Phish took this route, they would certainly showcase hours upon hours of  meticulous preparation.

With little to no time for improvisation, Phish would likely play this psychedelic relic straight through. But within the album, the songs differ in feel from the groovy to the eerie to the spoken word. The first record boasts ten structured songs, but the second half contains nightmarish soundscapes as Rael descends into the underworld. Though many wouldn’t know what hit them, there would be a lot of new Genesis fans leaving Indio on November 2 if the band chose The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway.


Thriller – Michael Jackson


With Phish’s gallery of 99 albums, the talk of Michael Jackson’s masterpiece has faded to silence – and this could be exactly what Phish wants. Potentially a diversion to keep people preoccupied, the gallery has certainly kept the community’s heads spinning. But maybe – just maybe – this is all a smokescreen, and the band will come out and rock Jackson’s 1982 classic that fans have been pushing since 1995.

The most popular argument against “Thriller” is the wide range of dynamic vocals that fill the album, but if we start eliminating album choices because Phish aren’t the vocalists that their predeccessors were, we’d have to cross out quite a few. Could they reproduce Mick Jagger, David Bowie, Mick Jones, or even David Lee Roth? No – but that certainly hasn’t ruled out any of those albums, so I think “Thriller” must be legitamately considered. There could be a guest vocalist, Trey could “sing” with his guitar, or they could have another arrangement already in place. The bottom line is that this album would blow Indio apart – and what better subject matter for Halloween?! Just imagine the look of the crowd when Phish starts “Wanna’ Be Startin’ Something.” Now imagine the look of the crowd 20 minutes later after the disco-funk jam concludes. You know the songs; you get the picture. Just outside of his former Los Angeles home, and months after his passing, this could be Phish’s lasting tribute to the King of Pop.

Winged music note


Jam of the Day:

Down With Disease > Have Mercy > Disease” 11.12.94 II

A historic chunk of improv from Kent St, Ohio during Fall ’94.



10.15.94 Oak Mountain Amphitheatre, Pelham, AL < Torrent

10.15.94 Oak Mountain Amphitheatre, Pelham, AL < Megaupload


Everyone knows about Oak Mountain’s 1999 installment, but if we rewind five years from there, or fiftteen years from today, we find The Dave Matthews Band opening for Phish in their only other visit to the Alabama amphitheatre. After a classic first set and an adventurous second, the band invited their guests out to join them on “The Maker.” A southern nugget from Fall ’94.

I: Wilson, Sparkle, Simple > Maze, Glide, Reba, Down with Disease, Golgi Apparatus

II: Also Sprach Zarathustra > Runaway Jim, Halley’s Comet > Scent of a Mule, You Enjoy Myself > Catapult > You Enjoy Myself, Amazing Grace, Foreplay/Long Time*, Bouncing Around the Room, Suzy Greenberg

E: Drums** > The Maker***

*Acoustic, **w/ Carter Beauford on drums, ***w/ Dave Matthews Band, debut

Source: Audio Technica 822 > Sony D8

Tags: , , , , ,

Despite Ziggy Stardust being my personal choice for Phish’s musical costume, plenty of other engaging album choices still remain. Assuming Phish is working off their provided list, several defining records could still hold the golden ticket. While everyone has their own opinion of what could work and what certainly will not, I present to five …

Five Other Possibilities Read More »

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