10.19.2010 – Augusta, Maine (Ryan Gilbertie)

After an all-night drive to Utica, I never stopped to give Augusta’s show its proper due. So, let’s start this week with a flashback to October 19, in the college town of Augusta, Maine. Building off Charleston’s triumphant finale, Phish traveled far north to drop their second consecutive standout show, including two jams that trumped anything played through the first five shows of tour. Enclosed in a gymnasium frozen in time somewhere around 1982 – Phish juxtaposed plenty of of forward-looking music to these retro surroundings while creating two pieces that stand the test of time. During a roots-rock Americana-based opening set, Phish included diversions with a tour-highlight “Bathtub Gin” and “Divided Sky,” but the real northern lights came after setbreak…and during the encore! In a mini two-part series to begin this week, we’ll look at a two tour-defining moments that took place one night in Maine.

10/19 Poster

Jumping head first into the second set with a “Fuck Your Face” and Mike’s Song” mash-up, the band swung from their knees and ignited the second set. But when the hard-edged piece ended, one of Augusta’s extraordinary moments emerged in “Light.” Fall versions of “Light” tended toward next-generation Phish grooves – sped up and highly intricate textures – rather than the melodic and abstract sounds that characterized summer’s standouts. But in Augusta, the band not only moved through both of these sonic plateaus with fluid virtuosity, they also dipped into the cosmic soup – a brief but soulful spacescape in the vein of “Tweezer’s” ending in Miami (12.29.09). This multi-dimensional version progressed through organically morphing improv with utmost patience, one-minded connectedness, and an exploratory spirit. Landing in several segments of fully realized psychedelia, Augusta’s “Light” stood out as Fall’s top-shelf offering; a piece that flirts with the loftiest incarnations of the modern launch pad.

Locked and loaded, Trey hit a rhythm chord that ended the song’s thrilling structured jam and reset the improvisational canvas. Immediately stepping into quick collaborative rhythms, Page’s organ solo lent a darker feel to the music. Trey and Fish locked into a series of hits that engaged the band in full, moving as one into the first stage of a fluid psychedelic journey. Fusing bliss and groove, Trey offered several melodic themes that guided this four-part conversation, taking the band far away into the land of make-believe. Mike and Page formed a drone curtain for Trey and Fish’s two-part dynamic play. Moving forward, both Mike and Page oozed into patterns of their own, soon crafting a four-player game of sonic ping-pong.

10.19.2010 – Augusta, ME (Ryan Gilbertie)

Trey’s melodic leads turned spiritual, fitting perfectly within the band’s nuanced rhythmic folds, creating an interwoven quilt of musical mastery. Phish painted this passage with delicate precision while simultaneously pushing the boundaries of their modern sound – a sure sign that the state of current Phish could not be better. Passing though an abstract segment, Trey played notes that resembled a classic digital delay pattern, still speaking with melodic sensibility. As the jam grew quieter, the band transformed into a four-headed ambient monster, stepping powerfully from its lair and engulfing the music with heavy sonic sorcery. Bleeding into “Twenty Years Later,” Phish proceeded to take the song’s ominous patterns for the most significant ride of their young life, finally infusing a full-band jaunt into the dark tale; a perfect counterpart for “Light’s” intergalactic excursion.


Jam of the Day:

Bathtub Gin” 10.19.2010 I

With today’s focus on Augusta, here is the first set “Bathtub Gin” that lit the show afire.



10.19.2010 Civic Center, Augusta, Maine

FLAC Torrent (etree), Mp3 Torrent, Megaupload < Links

Augusta LE Pennant

The first show of Phish’s week in the Northeast, this intimate mid-week affair built off Charleston and catapulted the band onto Utica via stellar playing throughout and a juicy second set of highlight-strewn Phish.

I: Chalk Dust Torture, Back on the Train, Torn and Frayed, Bathtub Gin, Gumbo, The Divided Sky, Jesus Just Left Chicago, Nellie Kane, 46 Days, Possum

II: Fuck Your Face, Mike’s Song* > Light > Twenty Years Later > Fast Enough for You, Weekapaug Groove, Halley’s Comet, Free, Harry Hood, Golgi Apparatus, A Day in the Life

E: Reba, Backwards Down the Number Line

* with”Fuck Your Face” quotes at the beginning and end of the jam

Source: FOB Schoeps mk22> kc5> cmc6> psp3> mini-me@48-24>r44>sd (Tapers – Rob Adler / Dave Flaschner)

After an all-night drive to Utica, I never stopped to give Augusta’s show its proper due. So, let’s start this week with a flashback to October 19, in the college town of Augusta, Maine. Building off Charleston’s triumphant finale, Phish traveled far north to drop their second consecutive standout show, including two jams that trumped …

Northern Light Read More »

10.19.10 – Augusta (Ryan Gilbertie)

A spirited run through “Weekapaug” concluded the meat of the Augusta’s second set, punctuating a “Mike’s Groove” that included a devastating northern “Light.” But aside from “Harry Hood,” the rest of the frame fizzled into a series of standard rotation songs. Front loading the set with plenty of music to carry the second half , perhaps the second-set imbalance contributed to what happened next. Returning to the stage for the encore – all but a formality on almost every evening – Phish had something else in mind.

Just before an overnight haul to Utica, the band unveiled an encore for the pages of history. Expecting nothing at all, when the opening notes of “Reba” bounced from the stage, looks of disbelief shot around the arena. For only the third time in its 21 year history, Phish employed their classic piece as an encore (most recently in Tucson, Arizona on 9.21.99 and before that in Berkeley, California on 3.31.91.) Given the band’s stellar playing in Augusta, this one had the feeling of something special from note one, and blossomed into something greater than anyone could have imagined. Navigating the multi-part composition with a precision and momentum rarely seen this era, all the pieces in fell into place as Phish set sail on an ocean of divine groove.

10.22.10 (J. Rizzo)

Splashing into the crystal waters, the band’s lush offerings began to sculpt a sonic oasis. Fishman played a slower tempo, creating a groovier pocket and leaving copious musical space for his mates to run free. Trey took the lead, initiating a golden thread of melody he would weave through the entire piece. After setting the rhythmic pace, Mike stepped up and engaged Trey in co-leadership of the fluid vessel. Weaving his own lines in between Trey’s never-ending song, the two guitar players achieved a symbiotic cohesion. And with Trey’s cash-money phrasing, this jam began to elevate – all within the context of a superior “Reba” jam. But with a delicate rhythmic breakdown by Fishman, the musical course veered into the uncharted.

10.20.10 (M.Stein)

Hopping on the abstract idea right away, all band members formed a levitating ball of exploratory sound. As Trey bent a single note amidst this atypical canvas, it signaled the onset of a whole-band exploration. Rarely does “Reba” depart from its blissful groove, but when they have, stunning highlights result (8.16.93 and 10.29.98 come to mind.) In Augusta, the band briefly returned to the theme en route to a tranquil and divergent rhythmic pool. Trey and Fish lured Mike and Page into floating moments of abstraction that bridged a filthy and aggressive whole-band groove. Carving a funky, hard-edged path, the entire band churned out atypical music that had nothing to do with its soaring foundation. Before long, they slammed into a bumping rhythm, sounding like they would flow right into “Manteca.” Based in the rhythmic template, these weren’t debatable Trey teases, but a solid foundation of the Dizzy Gillespie cover. Instead of taking Fish’s bait and diving into the cover, the band forged on in their experimental encore while Fishman coyly teased the song’s repetitive lyric over the sinful groove. Behind this vocal-play, Trey melted like butter back into “Reba’s” theme – a perfectly executed re-entry without hesitation.

10.20.10 (M.Stein)

Fully re-engaging “Reba’s” classic build, Phish sidestepped any shortcuts while pushing the piece to glorious heights. Trey led the troops to a monstrous peak, leaving all jaws hanging on the carpeted floor as Fish’s drum roll ended the jam. If there was ever a time to end “Reba” with its classic whistle and final verse, this was it. But in a move that made little sense, the band, i nstead, dropped into an awkwardly-placed “Number Line” to follow-up “Reba’s” spiritual quest that immediately jumped into any conversation about top-shelf versions – and I’m not talking about “in the modern era.” With a peak rendition for the ages, Phish left Augusta at the tip-top of their game with Utica less than 24 hours away. As we jumped into the mini-van with that internal fire burning and little care about how many miles lied ahead, Phish tour felt like Phish tour once again.


Jam of the Day:

Wolfman’s > Cities” 10.20.10 I

Funked-out, first set fire from Utica.



10.22.2010 Dunkin Donuts Center, Providence, Rhode Island

FLAC Torrent (etree), Mp3 Torrent, Megaupload < Links

10/22 Poster (Spusta)

Coming off Utica, Phish took one set to exhale before sparking a top-notch second half that was served in three courses. First came “Rock and Roll > Carini > My Problem Right There” and second came “Mike’s > Sanity > Groove.” Before the third course, Phish served an intermezzo of  “Suzy” and another standout “Light,” before finishing with with the dessert course – “Character Zero > 2001 > Loving Cup.” Straight fire through and through, Providence’s second set seemed to set the table for a Mullins Center detonation that never fully materialized.

I: Down with Disease, Funky Bitch, Fluffhead, Roses Are Free, Rift, The Moma Dance, Ocelot, NICU, Sample in a Jar, Julius

II: Rock and Roll > Carini > My Problem Right There, Mike’s Song > Sanity > Weekapaug Groove, Suzy Greenberg, Light, Character Zero > Also Sprach Zarathustra > Loving Cup

E: First Tube

Source: Schoeps mk5> kc5> m222> nt222> lunatec v3 > SD 744t (Taper – taylorc)

A spirited run through “Weekapaug” concluded the meat of the Augusta’s second set, punctuating a “Mike’s Groove” that included a devastating northern “Light.” But aside from “Harry Hood,” the rest of the frame fizzled into a series of standard rotation songs. Front loading the set with plenty of music to carry the second half , …

An Ethereal Encore Read More »

The encore of a Phish show is usually an afterthought to the mayhem gone down just previously in the second set.  Most often a token song or two, there have been times that Phish developed something more significant to end the night.  Such examples of this abound, and some include the “Vernon Downs the House> YEM” before the Lemonwheel, 12.29.98’s perfect topping of “Divided Sky,” Alpine ’99’s bust-out trio of “Camel Walk,” “Glide,” and “Alumni Blues,” or the surreal pairing of Punch > Slave at Polaris ’98.  Yet,  these examples all remain within the conventions of standard Phish songs.  There have been occasions when encores have been one of the loftiest highlights of the show.  Below are five exemplary encores that blew the roof off of the place as the bus was warming outside.

12.30.97 MSG: Carini > Katy > Sally > Frankenstein

Possibly the most exciting encore ever dropped by the band, the context in which it was placed made it all the more magical.  Having played right though MSG’s curfew, the band decided to extend the night a bit more since fines had already been levied.  As Trey explained, they would continue playing through midnight- right into New Year’s Eve, joking that they would have two New Year’s shows.  Needless to say, the energy in the Garden immediately sky-rocketed as the possibilities were endless.  But in all the potentialities of what could come next, no one could have possibly imagined the reality.

A Beautiful Sight

As the band responded to the fierce anticipation, the heavy opening chords of the first U.S. Carini swiftly took advantage of the crowd’s adrenaline-fueled state, roaring from the stage with ferocity.  Juicing the 20,000 in attendance, the band tore through the song that everyone wanted to hear since they got the analog of its sublime debut in Amsterdam on 2.17.  As the militant textures eased, the band picked up on Mike’s heavy bass pattern, collectively entering two of the best minutes of music in history ,as the Phish metal smoothly segued into an ultra-thick and slowed down pool of dinosaur funk, morphing into “Black-Eyed Katy.”   With the molasses tempo, and Fishman layering some lyrics over the top, the Moma dance was conceived, not to be heard from again until it appeared reworked in Europe on 6.30.98.  As if this monstrous pairing wasn’t enough, the band took the funk instrumental and weaved it right into a “Sneaking Sally” reprise after they had opened the show with the Robert Palmer cover for its first appearance since the ’80s.  Sliding through the return of the rhythmic verses, the band finally put an exclamation point on their first “New Year’s” set, with a segue into a booming “Frankenstein.”  Ensuring a place atop lists of memorable encores, this segment of music was Phish at its most playful, on the eve of finishing one of the best years of their career.


10.27.94 University Hall, U of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA: Slave > Icculus, Tweezer Reprise

Following a particularly zany ’94 show in which the band’s youthful absurdity was in full effect, Phish bust out perhaps the most intense encore ever played.  Following a show that featured such rarities as “Forbin’s > Vibration of Life > Mockingbird,” and “Big Black Furry Creatures From Mars,” not to mention a sublime “Tweezer,” and absolutely spot on improv all night long, the band saved something special for the end.

Starting with the delicate opening notes of Slave, the encore was underway.  Using characteristic ’94 tightness, intensity, and directional jamming, the band created a climactic soul-awakening piece.  Playing like there was no tomorrow, Phish absolutely slaughtered this succinct piece of improv.  Stunning in its beauty and passion, this Slave could have topped the show perfectly on its own, but out of the song’s peak, Trey began to thank the crowd as the band began to vamp over the changes of “Icculus.”  Trey told the the crowd “some things to remember” as they went out in the world.  As he continued, Trey absolutely lost his shit giving these instructions, screaming far beyond the top of his lungs, impelling the audience to “Read the Book!” in more ways than one.  This version is one of legend- you have to hear it.

The only thing that could have possibly topped the intensity of “Icculus” was the “Tweezer Reprise” they dropped with Fishman screaming in the background.  Jammed out beyond it usual couple minutes, the show could simply not have ended on a higher note.  This encore will have plenty to say to 12.30.97’s before any championship belt is awarded.


12.6.96 The Aladdin Theatre, Las Vegas, NV: Harpua > Wildwood Weed > Harpua > I Want To Be a Cowboy’s Sweetheart > Harpua > Suspicious Minds > Harpua, Suzy Greenberg

photo- Scott Bernstein (?)

Needing to be on this list for pure spectacle if nothing else, the encore of the last night of Fall ’96 will always be remembered for its Vegas-esque cabaret show.  Featuring a troupe of Elvis impersonators, musical guests Les Claypool and Larry LaLonde of Primus, John McCuen, and the Yodeling Cowgirls, the stage was a veritable clusterfuck as Phish plus many more created a comedic thirty-minute story out of “Harpua.”  With Les Claypool’s “Wildwood Weed” rap, the Cowgirls’ song, and Fishman’s cover of “Suspicious Minds” all spliced into “Harpua,” the end of tour theatrics were ultra-special because they followed an insane Phish show, marking the band’s first visit to Sin City.  Jimmy had never been on an adventure quite like this before.


4.3.98 Nassau Coliseum, Uniondale, NY: Carini > Halley’s > Tweezer Reprise

4.3.98 – photo: Jamie Huntsman

Closing the famed Nassau portion of The Island Run, this encore was as fun as any.  All sparked by a stage jumper in “Loving Cup” which led to the “Carini’s gonna get you” Antelope explosion, the venue was absolutely going berserk when this set ended.  Granted the band had also just played a career-defining concert, but the massive surge of energy at the end of the show certainly came from this episode.  Had it not been for the stage jumper, the encore most likely would have taken another route, but with the building vibrating with enthusiasm, the band came out and dropped the second ever domestic “Carini” only three shows after dropping the first on 12.30.97.

Again, the show could have ended here, but instead, soaring on an emotional crest, Phish dropped into Halley’s, which instead of a jam cut right into Tweezer Reprise.  But there was never any Tweezer!  Breaking out their ultimate tool of adrenaline when it was most appropriate, they would follow up the improvised Reprise with a set-opening Tweezer in Providence the next night.  This Reprise would find Trey aggressively marching in circles on the stage, knowing they were about to finish one of the best nights of their career. (see video below)


8.9.98 Virgina Beach, VA: Terrapin Station

For their entire career, Phish endured constant comparisons to the Grateful Dead.  Only the second improvisational psychedelic rock band to constantly criss-cross the country with legions of hippies in tow, Phish spent their entire musical lives trying to distance themselves from their predecessors.  Regardless of how different their music was from Jerry’s crew, they could not escape the constant associations.  One result of this was that their Dead covers remained buried in their college days.

A white hot second set starred an all-time highlight “AC/DC” Bag opener, a extra potent “Antelope,” and a tremendous Summer ’98 YEM.  When Phish came out for the encore on the third anniversary of Jerry’s passing, no one knew what was about to happen.  The unmistakable opening chords of perhaps The Dead’s greatest opus filled the pavilion-  Phish was playing Terrapin.  Creating a dreamlike state, Phish worked through one of the Dead’s finest pieces.  Leaving many speechless far beyond the ending of the show, this  decision was colossally significant and symbolic.  Finally at ease with their own identity and unique legend, Phish gave a surreal and magical nod to Garcia above.  If there was ever a truly epic encore, this would most definitely be it.

What are your favorite encores? Respond in Comments below!



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11.23.97 LJVM Coliseum, Winston Salem, NC < LINK

Last up in our outlandish week of 11.17-11.23 1997 is the Winston-Salem show.  Featuring perhaps the jam of the week in the darkest half-hour “Bathtub Gin” you’ll ever hear, the first set had the best “Black-Eyed Katy” of the fall and an evil “Stash.”  Great stuff all around. Grab it. Enjoy!

I: My Soul, Theme From the Bottom, Black-Eyed Katy, Sparkle, Twist, Stash > NICU, Fluffhead, Character Zero

II: Bathtub Gin > Down With Disease > Low Rider > Down With Disease, Bold as Love

E: Julius

The encore of a Phish show is usually an afterthought to the mayhem gone down just previously in the second set.  Most often a token song or two, there have been times that Phish developed something more significant to end the night.  Such examples of this abound, and some include the “Vernon Downs the House> …

Five Epic Encores Read More »

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