Equilibrium: a state of balance between opposing forces or actions.
Equilibrium is the state that Phish attains when things are flowing subconsciously- in from the universe and out through their instruments. It is this state that is sought every time the band steps on stage; sometimes it happens, sometimes it doesn’t- but the ride of discovery is half the fun. Phish has utilized different techniques throughout their career in a constant attempt to achieve this musical balance. From their famous “Fill in the ‘Hey” hole” jamming exercise to their collegiate Oh Kee Pah Ceremonies; from “the Blob” that formed Billy Breathes to their collaborative funk grooves, Phish has continually strove to reach a musical equilibrium.
One of Phish’s techniques used to achieve this balance throughout most of their career was their “four across” stage set up- Fish and Page turned in slightly and looking at each other. Absent from 1999 to 2004, the band came out at Hampton in their original stage set up- the one we grew up with. This was clearly an intentional return to the band’s on-stage roots, and the decision carries a certain significance and symbolism. Set up as four equal parts, all next to, and able to see, each other’s eyes, the “old” Phish was back. As the band reconnects with many of their early musical habits in 2009, the switch to the old-school lineup aligns perfectly with this rejuvenation.
At the first show of 1999- June 30th at Bonner Springs- the band took the stage, for the first time in their career, in a new arrangement. Fish was placed on a riser behind the band- the conventional spot for a drummer. Mike was brought front and center, while Trey was bumped to stage left. Quite disorienting at first, the band remained with this set up all the way through 2000. Mike’s prominence in the music, and a physically-tighter rhythm section were going theories as to why the switch was made at this time.
When the band came back from their hiatus, there was another on-stage shape shift. Trey returned to his place in the middle of the band, able to better communicate with everyone, and Mike assumed his former spot on stage left. Meanwhile, Fish remained behind the other members in the same position. The band carried this arrangement throughout the 2.0 era, and it seemed like the “line” was forever gone.
Fast forward five years- we enter The Mothership. Re-acclimating ourselves to the foreign, yet familiar, surroundings, when glancing up at the stage, we are struck by the “line” again! Initiating the old-school vibe before a note was even played, Phish was returning to their roots. The stage looked normal again, and when the band came out with “Fluffhead,” everything seemed to be falling into place. This was the band we knew!
Phish has always been a musical phenomenon- four equal cogs that, when working together, equal far more than the sum of their parts. Musical balance is key to this transcendence; absorbing the ideas of all four band members equally- questing for that moment. With their return to the original stage set up, the balance of Phish’s music is once again physically manifested. Lined up as peers, each member is an equal part of the greatest whole on earth. The band’s original arrangement will likely trigger their original stage dynamic and style of communication. We began to observe this already at Hampton. As Phish continues to forge a new musical path, they will do so with revitalized energy, a dedication to practice, and an enhanced physical balance. With this recipe, the result will be an aural equilibrium that will provide many an adventure in IT.
Hampton – Photo: Jeff Kravitz (insidecelebpics)
DOWNLOAD OF THE DAY:
6.10.1994 Red Rocks < LINK
6.10.1994 Red Rocks < TORRENT LINK
Everyone knows about the stellar 6.11.94 Red Rocks show with the great FM SBDs that have circulated over the years. This show was the night before. A classic second set was anchored by the epic beautiful combination of “Curtain > Tweezer > Lifeboy,” and capped with a vintage ’94 “Hood.” “Demand > Bowie” added some beef to the openeing frame.
I: Runaway Jim, Foam, Sample in a Jar, Nellie Cane, Demand > David Bowie, Lizards, Cavern, Julius
II: Axilla [Part II], The Curtain > Tweezer > Lifeboy, Sparkle, Possum, HYHU > I Wanna Be Like You > HYHU, Harry Hood, Tweezer Reprise
E: Sleeping Monkey > Rocky Top
Source: Nuemann TLM 170i>DAT [Set 1: Sub-cariods; Set 2: Cariods)