Taking Care of Business

Posted in Uncategorized with the tags , , on October 21st, 2013 by Mr.Miner
10.13.2013 "Divided Sky" (Andrea Nusinov)

10.20.2013 “Divided Sky” (Andrea Nusinov)

In a display of musicianship rarely seen these days, Phish annihilated the Mothership proper on Sunday night, gracing the historic venue with the throwdown it’s been begging for since November 22, 1997. This was the real deal folks. This was Phish at Hampton Coliseum in all their fury and wonder. This was the stuff of legend. This was the stuff of dreams. The band hadn’t woven an indoor tale like this in quite some time, and—honestly—it was a sight to behold. Sunday’s show touched upon the very ethos of why we do what we do. The community now has a new date to go along with the many numbers we recite in our sleep—10.20.2013, welcome to our consciousness.

10/19 Official (J.Flames)

10/20 Official (J.Flames)

The band toned it down a bit from their audacious start of Saturday night, favoring standard rotation songs to which we’ve all grown accustomed. There were, however, a few talking points beyond the intense energy that the band brought to each and every selection. After the opening three songs, the guys kicked into “Roses Are Free” in what seemed like another ho-hum selection. But Trey had different ideas. Out of the ending of the song, the band moved into a dreamy, mid-tempo passage that pointed to the first “Roses” jam since Worcester last year. As the crowd’s anticipation built, however, the band couldn’t fully lock up, and but a minute or so into the jam, Trey aborted it for “Sample In a Jar.”

The show picked up in earnest with a savage version of “46 Days.” This rousing piece was the first to truly get the audience’s hearts to beat as one—a heartbeat that would pulsate throughout the intimate arena for the rest of the night. A precise “Divided Sky” gave way to an “Bold as Love” closer. The set was solid, if not a bit slow, but big things were on the horizon, and everyone in the building could feel it.

What happened after setbreak is the stuff of instant legend. Phish gave every single song in the second set the absolute full treatment, and as was said in the tale of King Midas, everything that they touched turned to gold. Spending the entire second set in improvisational space, Phish staged a musical drama for which they became famous. This was Phish—raw, unadulterated and without a net.

10.18.13 (A.Nusonov)

10.19.13 (A.Nusinov)

The set kicked off with a nod to a crew of up-fronters dressed like Waldo from the “Where’s Waldo?” books. Trey asked them before the set if they were dressed like Waldo or people from jail, and then promptly told them the band would play a “song about jail” before busting out “Paul and Silas.” But then, the moment we had all been waiting for unfolded as Trey unleashed the opening lick to “Tweezer.” This “Tweezer” was the filthiest piece of indoor arena Phish we’ve heard in this era. Hands down, bar none. Moving seamlessly from dark to sinister to outright disgusting, this jam provided the yang to the Tahoe version’s yin. A piece of music that incarnated all that is good and holy about fall Phish truly upped the bar of possibilities for the next week and a half. This is sacred ground, people—tread lightly and with no distractions. A textured voyage into groove and far beyond, this jam leapt from the stage directly into the Hall of Fame. This monumental jam ended in an stunning passage of melodic ambience that lifted us, ever so gradually, out of the deep abyss and into an uplifting conclusion. And upon the ending of the jam, Trey dropped into “Golden Age.”

10.18.13 (A.Nusinov)

10.19.13 (A.Nusinov)

Leaving jaws on the Coliseum floor from the floor up to the rafters, Phish moved into the second movement of a flowing and relentless musical stanza. The band took all of the energy they had put into “Tweezer’s” psychedelia and applied it to the funk paradigm in “Golden Age.” Launching into a groove fiesta, Trey played all sorts of choppy rhythms licks while his band mates churned out dance grooves as if it was 1997. Turning the party out like none other, the band stuck with this vibe for quite some time before bleeding into an spacey outro that highly suggested a move into “2001.” But unlike the handful of times they’ve executed that transition in the past couple years, the guys took a left turn into “Piper.”

Like several applications of “Piper” this summer, this version was utilized as a triumphant exclamation point on the opening half of the set. Trey’s guitar screamed in joy, and all could share in the exultation he expressed. This was group catharsis as it is defined in the dictionary. Energy coursed through the arena like tangible bolts of lightning as the band tore through their victory march. And then came the best moment of the night. Phish moved into a classic rock vamp, and it sounded as if they might segue into “Rock and Roll.” But out of nowhere, the band moved into an impromptu cover of Bachman, Turner, Overdrive’s “Taking Care of Business!” The venue fucking exploded. One of the more clever musical moves we’ve seen Phish pull off in a hot minute, this transition sent the crowd over the top.

10.12.13 (Andrea Nusinov)

10.19.13 (Andrea Nusinov)

The band dissolved into an ambient outro, and it became clear that we would get the “2001” that had been dangled in front of us moments ago. And the band played it like they meant it! Digging into the chunky funk grooves, they spun the Mothership into another galaxy, and just when it seemed like “You Enjoy Myself” was a forgone conclusion, the band ripped into “Sand!” Taking the road less traveled at every juncture this fall, Phish threw yet another curveball to the delight of every person in the building. As if a band possessed, the guys crushed another primary jam vehicle with a purpose. Carving out layers of snarling sound, Trey led the troops in a climactic rendition of “Sand” that saw them keep on cranking where they have so often faltered late in the second set. And then the release.

10.18.13 (J.Silco)

10.18.13 (J.Silco)

As the band drifted into “Slave,” the final chapter of our musical fairy tale had been revealed. With one more push, Phish would reach the finish line of a championship race. And what a push it was. Unfurling a delicate jam, the band spent a good amount of time in a mellow, reflective space, allowing the events of the night to catch up to every soul in the house. The entire version felt very refined, ever so gradually building momentum, as the guys wove a graceful finale. They had made it. We had made it. And it was good.

The look Page’s face as he thanked the crowd said it all. Sincerity, humility and pride spilled from his aura as he turned to each side of the arena and thanked them earnestly. It was a special night of Phish and we all knew it. The classic Beatles cover “A Day in a Life”—a track heralded for its groundbreaking nature at the time—felt incredibly appropriate for an encore. While “Tweezer Reprise” stamped the night complete and the chorus of “Step into the Freezer” echoed throughout Hampton Coliseum, I thought back over the last 18 years, and thanked the good Lord that I took that step.

I: Julius, Funky Bitch, Back on the Train, Roses Are Free > Sample in a Jar, Ginseng Sullivan, 46 Days, Divided Sky, Bold As Love

II: Paul and Silas, Tweezer > Golden Age > Piper -> Takin’ Care of Business > Also Sprach Zarathustra > Sand, Slave to the Traffic Light

E: A Day in the Life, Tweezer Reprise

Hampton 2013 (Andrea Nusinov)

Hampton 2013 (Andrea Nusinov)

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Hampton Comes Alive

Posted in Uncategorized with the tags , , on October 20th, 2013 by Mr.Miner
10.18.13 (Jake Silco)

10.18.13 (Jake Silco)

What a difference a day makes. One night after taking batting practice over the course of two sets, Phish came out swinging on Saturday night at Hampton Coliseum and truly inaugurated their 30th Anniversary Fall Tour with a smoking two set affair. Laying it on early and often, the guys took no prisoners, crafting a show that—arguably—bested any at The Mothership in 14 years. Evoking the feeling of fall tours of lore, the guys threw down a show that was bursting at the seams with energy and never relented for a moment, leaving fans with shit-eating grins as they moseyed back to their hotels through a perfect autumn evening.

phishhamptonposter

10/19 Official (J.Flames)

Stepping to the plate with a purpose, the band lead off the game with a solid double in the gap in the form of “Bathtub Gin” before staging a scoring rally that was highlighted by a scorching indoor “Tube.” A version that set fire to the full-sized, Saturday night crowd, this creative and extended “Tube” provided an unquestionable highlight of the first set. Following this adrenalized start, the guys slowed things down with the modern rarity, “Fast Enough For You” and Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Ballad of Curtis Loew.” Non-rotation songs of “Yamar” and “My Sweet One” sandwiched a crunchy “Stealing Time,” which set the table for a smoking “Mike’s Groove” that was weighted towards “Weekapaug” with Page leading the way on clavinet. In retrospect, I thought there would be more musical meat to discuss in the opening stanza, but it just goes to show how far balls-to-the-wall energy and precise musicianship will take a set.

The first half had the arena buzzing as fans prepared themselves for what was sure to be a stellar main event. The band was feeling it, and they were bringing it hand over fist. A night after starting the second set with “Twist” for the only the second time since 2003, Phish opened Saturday night’s with “Ghost” for the first time since Alpine 2010, and the second time since Raleigh 2003! And what a “Ghost” it was. Reminiscent of IT’s legendary “Ghost” from Limestone, this version had a trajectory set for the heavens, and shot like an arrow into a blissful, peaking plateau where the jam sat for an eternity. Trey peeled of sheets of descending notes at the zenith of this excursion, cascading like victory over his legions of devotees. Super-charged catharsis of the highest degree, this “Ghost” drove us across the sky in a chariot before grounding us with a breakbeat-driven, ambient denouement.

10/18 (Jake Silco)

10/18 (Jake Silco)

Flipping the conventional script, the band segued out of “Ghost” and into a second-song “Disease,” providing a unique contour to the set’s opening couplet. The band moved from the song’s rock platform into a more ethereal, open-ended excursion that reached some profound places before getting chopped a bit abruptly for a wild, antic-filled version of “Steam.” The band absolutely slayed the “Steam” jam as Trey illustrated how he’s honed his pitch-bending as juxtaposed to the overly-whaley, 2013 debut at SPAC. Following the conventional jam, however, Trey joined Fishman on drums for a percussive-driven segment that saw Mike not only play his fight bell with drum sticks, but also bring back his power drill  from Friday night’s “Antelope” to play the bass. Page stabbed at his Hammond, providing the only melodic comping to this rhythmic tangent, before the guys remerged with the end of “Steam.”

10.18.13 (J.Silco)

10.18.13 (J.Silco)

It was high time for the band to take a breath, and they did so in the form of “Prince Caspian.” But the set found its way into too much filler after that. “Boogie On” had some extra zest, and carried the energy of the night just fine. But after that came “Theme” (which was actually quite good). And then came “Wedge.” “And then “Silent in the Morning.” At this point, we could have been in the middle of a first set! The guys did, however, close things with a bang, scripting a haunting and twisting version of “Harry Hood.” The set, though, had already lost considerable momentum, an issue that has seemed to plague an older Phish.

Just like that, we are one night away from fall tour’s first weekend being complete. And if the first two nights are any prediction of what is to come, we are in for one hell of a run. Phish took but one night to stretch their legs, and on Saturday, Trey used his newly dusted off Ocedoc to announce, “Game on!” And you know what they about Sunday shows…and with a “Tweezer” looming at Hampton Coliseum?! Yikes. Hide the women and children folks—we’ll see you in a few hours!

I: Bathtub Gin, The Moma Dance, Tube > Fast Enough for You, The Ballad of Curtis Loew, Ya Mar, Stealing Time From the Faulty Plan, My Sweet One, Mike’s Song > I Am Hydrogen >Weekapaug Groove

II: Ghost > Down with Disease > Steam* > Prince Caspian > Boogie On Reggae Woman, Theme From the Bottom, The Wedge, Silent in the Morning, Harry Hood

E: Quinn the Eskimo

10.18.13 (Jake Silco)

10.18.13 (Jake Silco)

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A Lumpy Start

Posted in Uncategorized with the tags , on October 19th, 2013 by Mr.Miner
10.18.13 (Jake Silco)

10.18.13 (Jake Silco)

As Phish stepped into Hampton Coliseum for the first time since their comeback weekend in 2009, the place was half-empty. Few in the building were familiar with such environs, especially since the last time we gathered in Hampton, Virginia, tickets were going for $500! I didn’t think that the sparse environs would play a part in the actual show—and perhaps it didn’t—but the band played their most mellow show in memory to kick off Fall Tour. But it wouldn’t have been a Phish show without any adventure, and on this night the band fuel injected all of their adventure into a redonkulous version of “Carini”—a piece that immediately stands among the best jams ever dropped in the storied round room. But other than this paradise voyage, the show was delivered as if not to offend any one, and it wound up being just a bit too tasteful for many fans that were chomping at the bit.

10/18 Official (J.Flames)

10/18 Official (J.Flames)

Halfway through an inexplicably mellow second set, someone reminded Trey that soundcheck had been over hours, and when Trey got that message, he tore into “Carini”—a jam that defined this show in full. Settling into a growling mid-paced jam, the band locked into the pocket and never looked back, crafting a multi-thematic voyage that deserves any and all fans’ immediate attention. As the band moved through an extensive period of darkness, they flipped the switch on this already impressive piece, and built it to a scintillating, Allmans-eqsue blues-rock peak. Trey hit upon a lick of glory and transformed this melody into the guiding light of the jam that would bring the band to the mountaintop. And just when you thought Phish had brought another 3.0 classic to a bluesy peak, they broke shit down into funk textures that reinvented the jam on the fly. Moving into an entire jam-after-the-jam, the band continued to bring the house down with rhythmic interplay. In fact, this segment built an entire theme unto itself before the band finally wound their way down. If you caught the webcast, you already know, but if you haven’t heard it yet, sit down with this “Carini” with your morning coffee—I guarantee you will have a better day for it.

10.18.13 (J.Silco)

10.18.13 (J.Silco)

Any musical highlights other than “Carini,” however, were few and far between. The only other true meat of the show came in the set opening “Twist”—the first version in such a slot since Philly 2003—and the oddly placed “Roggae.” “Twist” seemed like a very peculiar choice from to kick off the second set, and although the band moved into an impressive ambient lair, the jam felt a bit short of complete as they drifted into “Free.” Following the opening couplet, the band played a searing rendition of “Roggae,” a song usually reserved for less highlighted placement. This “Roggae” captivated the room’s attention in full, raising the eyebrows of quite a few skeptics. But when Trey started playing “Sparkle” in the middle of the second set, I literally leaned over to my friend and asked, “What’s going on?” And then they played “Cavern.” Finally, the messenger bird made it’s way down from the rafters and delivered Trey the word, prompting him to “Throw something down for the kidz before things turn sour!” And so he did.

Hot versions of “Number Line” and “Antelope” closed out an underwhelming set, but when the band plays something of the caliber of “Carini,” sometimes its all just gravy. 2013 has seen slight step backwards in the quality of tour openers, as Bangor and now Hampton’s first night, have carried the vibe of warm up shows. But even in warm up shows, Phish can still deliver the goods, and I bet that when this run is all said and done, nobody will have forgotten Hampton’s “Carini.”

First set notes: A solid, though standard first set kicked things off with solid song selection and energy. “Jim” and “Stash” provided the first dips into full-band improv, but in truth, this was a warm up set through and through.

I: Wolfman’s Brother, Runaway Jim, Mound, Chalk Dust Torture, Army of One, Nellie Kane, Stash, Ocelot, Rift, Bouncing Around the Room, Walls of the Cave

II: Twist > Free > Roggae, Sparkle > Cavern > Carini > Backwards Down the Number Line, Twenty Years Later, Wading in the Velvet Sea, Run Like an Antelope

E: When the Circus Comes, Suzy Greenberg

10.18.13 (Jake Silco)

10.18.13 (Jake Silco)

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Four Wishes For Fall Tour

Posted in Uncategorized with the tags , on October 13th, 2013 by Mr.Miner
8.2.13 (Brian Thomas)

8.2.13 (Brian Thomas)

Phish played so well this summer, these lists are getting harder and harder to make. But as we go into Fall, there are still a few things I am hoping to see.

1. The First Set: The last remaining weakness of modern Phish shows is undoubtably the first set. Aside from SPAC’s “Split Open and Melt,” there were no open ended jams in the first half of any shows this summer. There is rarely even much contained jamming of note in opening frames, causing these sets to be musically uneventful. At no point in the last few years have I spun any first set from start to finish, and rarely do I dip into first sets at all but for the random “Reba” or “David Bowie.” Why does Phish choose to keep their first sets so mellow? Sure, lots of fans are there to hear their songs, but how about mixing it up? When the band throws down a great second set, I consider it a great show at this point. Imagine if they infused both sets with creativity? I’m not saying it should be like 1997, but just a bit of interesting music, some meat—and not always “Stash,” “Bathtub Gin,” or “Antelope.” An air of unpredictability has returned to Phish’s second sets this year, but their first ones have remained quite routine.

2. “Energy:” We’ve just seen the birth of Phish’s newest jam vehicle—”Energy.” In only three versions after its debut, the band has built an open-ended psychedelic juggernaut. Sprouting a jam in Alpheretta, the cover was soon placed in the hallowed spot of second set opener in Chicago and San Francisco. The band first opened up “Energy’s” jam in Chicago, charting an uplifting course with an ambient outro, while in San Francisco, they took it down a less cathartic, darker path. I believe we will see this song really blow up this Fall, starting right away in Hampton. I also believe we will see the band take “Energy” jams in wildly different directions, making the new Apples In Stereo cover all the more intriguing.

3. Get In Set Two! : There are several songs that have been begging for the second set treatment, though Phish has been quite stubborn in in keeping them as structured, first set jams. They are: “Wolfman’s Brother,” “Bathtub Gin,” “Tube,” “Stash,” “Split Open and Melt,” “Ocelot,” and “A Song I Heard the Ocean Sing.”

4. New Phish Material: Before every tour for the past couple years, this hope has been listed. Let’s be serious, the band hasn’t written a song in ages. “Steam” is the only original that has debuted in this era and stuck around. Joy songs have been played into the ground and then some. A new album has been hinted at all year, though nothing—even a rumor—has materialized. Does this mean another run with no new originals? Most likely. They did great this summer adding “Energy” to the mix. “Say Something” has potential. But how ’bout an actual Phish song? It’s about time.

=====

Winged-music-noteJam of the Day:

Rock and Roll” 8.3.13 II, BGCA

This monster version provided the centerpiece of Bill Graham’s second show. PS—Thanks for your feedback. I am keeping the links.

[audio:http://phishthoughts.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/2.02-Rock-and-Roll.mp3]
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On the Brink of Fall

Posted in Uncategorized with the tags , on October 10th, 2013 by Mr.Miner
Hampton '09 - (J.DiGiuseppe)

Hampton ’09 – (J.DiGiuseppe)

This is not 2009. This is not 2003. As soon as Phish and their audience steps into Hampton Coliseum in exactly one week, this feeling will be palpable. The band has not stepped foot in The Mothership as a dialed in, well-oiled machine in 14 years—since 1999—and even those shows were anti-climactic. With tickets for next weekend’s throwdown inexplicably going for under $20 on StubHub, Phish is set to annihilate Trey’s storied “favorite room” in the land, in a three-day party that will launch Phish’s first fall tour since 2010. Extrapolating on Hampton, Phish hasn’t stepped inside for more than four shows since their 2012 breakthrough—this run is going to be special!

Featuring a number of historic tour stops, including Hampton, Worcester, Hartford, and Rochester, one new tiny venue in Reading, and a return to Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, Fall 2013 is primed to explode. Fresh of their most creative tour of the modern era, Phish is now in a place where they can take things deeper for the first time in three years. And back then they were still getting going. Armed with a couple new springboards in “Energy” and “Say Something” and a child-like enthusiasm, Phish seems on he cusp of some serious music.

Hampton (J.DiGiuseppe)

Hampton (J.DiGiuseppe)

The only fall tours of 3.0 came in the era’s first two years, a time when the band was most certainly still getting their sea legs back. As a result, the psychedelic mind-fuckery that has traditionally been associated with fall shows never totally came to fruition since the 2009 comeback. Perhaps that’s also a development of the band’s age, but perhaps it was also a result of where they were on the road back. Will the music turn like the season this in this Autumn of 2013? We will know the answers soon enough. One way or the other–dark, light or in between—I predict the music will be as good as ever, and having a two-week run through New England during the back half of October—well—that just feels like old times.

We gotta get on the road…

*****

A Playlist of Fall Venues

“Halley’s Comet” 11.22.97 II, Hampton, VA

The best jam ever played in the legendary Mothership—an all-time classic.

[audio:http://phishthoughts.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/11m-Halleys-Comet.mp3]

***

“Stash > Free” 11.30.97 II, Worcester, MA

Trey incorporates his signature Fall ’97 wah grooves into a dark and dirty version of “Stash” whose funk fury blends right into “Free.”

[audio:http://phishthoughts.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/ph_FTA_2011-07-01b_11_stash.mp3,http://phishthoughts.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/ph_FTA_2011-07-01b_12_free.mp3]

***

“Down With Disease” 12.11.97 I, Rochester, NY

This jam—right at the beginning of the band’s Rochester’s Fall ’97 debut at the War Memorial—foreshadowed a very special night.

[audio:http://phishthoughts.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/04/ph1997-12-11d1t02.mp3]

***

“Mike’s Song” 11.22.97 II, Hampton, VA

A ferocious kick off to Phish’s signature Hanpton performance.

[audio:http://phishthoughts.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/04/ph1997-11-22d1t02.mp3]

***

“Simple” 11.21.98 II, Hampton, VA

In this jam, the band focuses their their Fall ’98 ambient style on an uplifting rendition of “Simple.”

[audio:http://phishthoughts.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/01/II-03-Simple-.mp3]

***

“Weekapaug > Antelope” 11.27.98 II, Worcester, MA

A beefy “Mike’s Groove” f0llowed all the bust-outs and antics in this classic Worcester show. This is the “Groove’s”—and the set’s—final sequence.

[audio:http://phishthoughts.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/II-13-Weekapaug-Groove-.mp3, http://phishthoughts.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/II-14-Wipeout-.mp3,http://phishthoughts.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/II-15-Weekapaug-Groove-.mp3,http://phishthoughts.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/II-16-Run-Like-an-Antelope.mp3]

***

“Ghost” 12.11.97 II Rochester, NY

This “Ghost” came as the funk relief after a notably dark and psychedelic set that anchored by a monster set “Drowned.”

[audio:http://phishthoughts.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/2.04-Ghost.mp3]

***

“Reba” 10.31.94 I, Glens Falls, NY

The only true improvisational keeper from Phish’s only performance at Glens Falls Civic Center, a marathon endeavor featuring their first musical costume, The Beatles’ “White Album.”

[audio:http://phishthoughts.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/1.11-Reba.mp3]

***

“Jennifer Dances” 12.5.99 II, Rochester, NY

The debut of everyone’s favorite song. But, seriously. Bring it back.

[audio:http://phishthoughts.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/II-06-Jennifer-Dances.mp3]

***

“Chalk Dust > Whole Lotta Love > Chalk” 12.30.10 I, AC, NJ

This is the truly fierce Zeppelin sequence from a tongue-in-cheek performance on the night before Halloween 2010.

[audio:http://phishthoughts.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/03/1.06-Chalkdust-Torture.mp3,http://phishthoughts.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/03/1.07-Whole-Lotta-Love.mp3,http://phishthoughts.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/03/1.08-Chalkdust-Torture.mp3]

***

“Character Zero > 2001 > Cities” 11.26.97 II, Hartford, CT

This is the most dynamic jam in the history of Phish’s performances at Hartford Civic Center—a Hendrix-inspired shredder than blends into a funkier than thou “2001.”

[audio:http://phishthoughts.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/Character-Zero.mp3,http://phishthoughts.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/Also-Sprach-Zarathustra.mp3,http://phishthoughts.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/Cities.mp3]

***

“Sand > Carini” 10.29.10 I, Atlantic City, NJ

This show gets overshadowed by the next two, and might just be better than both. This sequence is one of the main reasons why.

[audio:http://phishthoughts.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/03/2.03-Sand.mp3,http://phishthoughts.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/03/2.04-Carini.mp3]

***

“Harry Hood” 12.31.93 III, Worcester, MA

One of the greatest classicly-shaped “Harry Hoods” of all-time.

[audio:http://phishthoughts.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/12/PH1993-12-31D3T08.mp3]

***

PS: I think I am going to stop providing download links for these jams. Do people still use them? I figure we all have the music. No? Let me know.

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