Archive for 1999

Weekend Nuggets: Fuji Rock ’99

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , on February 28, 2009 by Mr.Miner


fujiThis weekend we have the two headlining gigs from Phish’s first trip to Japan in Summer ’99.  Playing on the isolated “Field of Heaven” stage, Phish treated the predominantly Japanese audience with two blistering shows, carrying their momentum from their extensive US tour to the Far East.  Highlights abound throughout these two shows, including two phenomenal second sets.  The 31st was held down by the huge “2001 > Bowie,” opening the flowing second set with some extended improv.  A late set “Fluffhead” fir perfectly as a cathartic release to this frame.

7.31.99 Field of Heaven, Fuji Rock Festival, JP < LINK

7.31.99 Field of Heaven, Fuji Rock Festival, JP < TORRENT LINK

I: My Friend My Friend, Golgi Apparatus, Get Back on the Train, Limb by Limb, Free, Roggae, Sparkle, Character Zero

II: Also Sprach Zarathustra > David Bowie, Wading in the Velvet Sea, Prince Caspian, Fluffhead, The Squirming Coil

E: Vac/Horn Duo*, Brian and Robert**, Simple

Encore began with Tibetan monk Newang Chechang (sp?) speaking about the situation in Tibet. *Fish on vacuum with Newang on a long horn. **With Newang on wooden flute.

Source: unk


8.1.99 (

8.1.99 (

The last night of Summer ’99 was certainly one of the best.  With a second half that boasted a “Tweezer,” a “Mike’s Groove,” and a “YEM,” the last set of the summer was chock full of musical fireworks. In addition to the well crafted second set, the first read like a “Who’s Who” of old-school Phish songs.  This is a show that is required for any complete collection, and its a SBD, taboot, taboot.

8.1.99 Field of Heaven, Fuji Rock Festival, JP SBD < LINK



8.1.99 Field of Heaven, Fuji Rock Festival, JP SBD < TORRENT LINK

I: Cities, Rift, Wilson, The Moma Dance, The Divided Sky, Horn, Split Open and Melt, Poor Heart, Bouncing Around the Room, Run Like an Antelope

II: Possum > Tweezer > Llama > Mike’s Song > I Am Hydrogen > Weekapaug Groove, The Wedge, Lizards, You Enjoy Myself

E: Sweet Adeline, Tweezer Reprise



hampton_outsideI am putting out an open invitation for photo contributions from Hampton, specifically inside the show, to use on Phish Thoughts the very next day.  Anyone can email me photos after the show that night, and I will use the best shots for my review of the show.  Please email me the files and at within three to four hours after the show is over. The photos selected for use on the site will be clearly accredited to you, the photographer.  Thank you in advance for any and all contributions- it will be great to have current pictures on each new post from you, the readers!



3251306826_09e533a8acDr. Trip over at Festival is running a contest for one last 3.8 Sunday night Hampton ticket! The rules are simple, and are as follows:

  • The person with the funniest Festival story, Picture or Video wins the ticket!
  • Contest is going to run from 02/26/09 -03/04/09
  • Anyone is allowed to enter as many times as they like.

Click here to enter!



Fuji Rock Festival Montage 1999 (You get a great feel for the festival)

A Blunt Prediction

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , on January 29, 2009 by Mr.Miner

It was setbreak.  About halfway though, I ran into a buddy and fellow secret agent of mine on our highly classified Phish mission. After strategizing for a moment, we made an executive decision to chill and burn one.  As we sat down on the rubberized basketball court of the half-empty Boise State Pavilion, I pulled a pre-rolled blunt out of my pocket.  (Although I live out west, I did grow up on the East Coast!)  Few of our friends had made the significantly out-of-the way drive from Portland to Boise, only to turn around and head to back Shoreline on the coast, so when we met up, we thought we’d take the last train to Sparksville.


9.14.99 Boise

As we inhaled our smoky delight, our spun minds turned to what Phish would come out with in the second set.  I noted that they hadn’t dropped a “Bag” thus far this tour, and Sean responded that he had noticed the same thing about “Gumbo.”  Hmm. “Sick!”, we thought, some sort of “Bag,” “Gumbo” combination in the second set! That would be great.  Our conversation drifted several different ways before it was ended as blunts burn for so long!  At some point we decided it was time to stake out our spots for the second set, despite the place being a ghost town.  He headed up front while I hung out about a third of the way back on the spacious floor. Meeting up with some other friends before the lights went down, my conversation with Sean was long gone from my memory- at least for now.

Fall '99 (Jay Blakesburg)

Fall '99 (Jay Blakesburg)

Mid-thought, when the lights went out, and I quickly ditched my stuff safely before the music started.  As the band emerged, everyone assumed their desired place in the wide open gym of the Broncos.  As Phish stepped up to play, Fish’s quaking drumroll led right into the beginning of “Peaches!”  The band hadn’t broken out their old-school Zappa cover since 2.28.97 in Berlin, Germany.  The intimate crowd was immediately treated to a special moment, as all were fully aware that the Phish hadn’t thrown down a “Peaches” in years. My mind was taken adrift by the bust-out, and when they dropped directly into “AC/DC Bag,” my mind never considered my conversation of twenty minutes earlier.

As most know, this “Bag” transformed into an all-time highlight, as the band transcended the song with existential playing that spoke directly to the soul.  Moving from funky AC/DC Bag textures, the band moved into ambient beauty that started in a dark place and became one of the most truly beautiful and awe-inspiring Phish jams.  The dark mysterious textures patiently grew into a musical portal directly to the divine through some of the most inspirational playing of the fall.  Peaking this gorgeous section of improv, the band dove  into a straight-ahead groove, hinting at “Crosseyed,” much like the Portland Meadows “Ghost” from days before, taking the theme for an exciting ride.

Fall '99 (Jay Blakesburg)

Fall '99 (Jay Blakesburg)

Once the music settled to the point of almost all sustained effects, they peeled them away at once for a heavy drop into “Gumbo.”  Boom– our prophecy had come true, but shit if i realized it!  I was so lost in the magnificence of what had just happened, that even the plunge into “Gumbo” didn’t make me recall the prediction we had made.  The music bellowed out of the speakers, taking over the small crowd who no longer knew if there were five or fifty thousand people there.  As the slow paced song took its time loafing into the jam, I embraced the compositional break without having my heart tied directly to spiritual improv for a few minutes.

But when those verses ended, we knew to expect a dance party with ample room for everyone and their double.  As the jam began, it took almost no time at all for Mike to begin teasing Queen’s “Another One Bites the Dust.”  The music was moved from the uber-psychedelic realm to that of a dance club, and the band began pounding out slow rhythms.  As soon as Trey began joining the tease, the crowd responded huge and the band returned their energy with a full-on jam of the song.  Some of the most engaging grooves of the night came when the band began to improvise out of the Queen rhythms, creating a somewhat retro Phish-funk jam that reminded us of years past.

In a set that ended with “Disease” and “Frankenstein,” the musical fireworks were front-loaded in this one, yet Phish selected the perfect songs to feed off of the energy and emotion they had stirred up within their audience.  After the magnificent set, I met up with my friend Adam inside the venue and began heading out, reveling in the post-show flood of emotional bliss.  As I threw a sweatshirt on to head out into the mild fall night,  I saw Sean walking up ahead.

9.16.99 - Shoreline (Susanna Millman)

9.16.99 - Shoreline (Susanna Millman)

“Wait a second!?” I thought to myself, as our setbreak blunt talk quickly replayed through my head in milliseconds.  “They just ripped exactly what we had said they should!”, I thought, as my heart pounded heavier.  “And I never even realized it the entire set!? Ha!” I laughed to myself out loud.  I sprinted ahead and caught up with Sean and tapped him on the shoulder enthusiastically.  As he turned around, he knew exactly why I was so excited, and we reflected on the bizarre connection to something bigger that we felt at that point.  Did we predict the future?  Had we invented the set?  Would it have happened if we hadn’t shared that smoke and spoken that conversation?  Maybe so, maybe not.

These are the things that are beyond our explanation; strange predictions that turn out correct, synchronicities between you and the band.  This time, the “Bag > Gumbo” was a tour highlight, not to mention one of the high points of all ’99.  With this Phishy magic in the air, my absurd backtrack to Portland to pick up my future wife, which seamlessly segued into a non-stop drive to our place in Santa Cruz, seemed like nothing at all, albeit a near-24 hour haul.  Sometimes when the larger forces are at play the menial tasks don’t seem so important.  Puffing bubblers of Bubbleberry with Adam across the Northwest, pumping the “Bag > Gumbo” on the desolate Idaho highway, nothing could have been more perfect.  It was one of those timeless moments on tour that you will remember forever; the moments that make up the fabric of it all.



10.15.98 The Fillmore, San Francisco, CA < LINK

phish-fillmore-98The announcement of this special show sent ripples through the Phish community as the band prepared to play a pre-tour gig at one of Bill Graham’s famous haunts.  Once the on-sale location was disclosed over the radio, fans raced to a specific pier on the Embarcadero to get a place in line that would ensure them tickets.  The show contained many highlights, including a first set that far outshone the second.  Compiling two 90 minute sets, everyone got their hard fought ticket’s worth out of this night.  Show highlights include “Ghost,” “Wolfman’s,” “Gumbo,” and “Reba”– all in the first frame!  The second set brought a welcome rendition of “The Moma Dance” and a fabulous set ending “Hood.”

I: Ghost, Water in the Sky, Wolfman’s Brother, Gumbo, David Bowie, Brian and Robert, Reba, Character Zero

2: My Soul, Chalkdust Torture, Roggae, The Moma Dance, Wading in the Velvet Sea, Prince Caspian, Frankie Says, Birds of a Feather, Lawn Boy, Harry Hood

E: Dirt, Limb by Limb

Weekend Nuggets: Paul Remasters Providence

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , on January 17, 2009 by Mr.Miner


12.13.99 Providence Civic Center, Providence, RI < LINK

1999-12-13gnOur own resident sonic engineer, Paul Gwynne Smith, has brought us yet another remastered gem from Phish’s past.  This time, he has worked his magic with a special night from Providence in December ’99.  The entire night, focused centrally on groove, was foreshadowed by the always-elusive and raucous “Tube” opener.  The first set was anchored by the mid-set combo of “Gumbo” and “Moma Dance, while the second features one of the most extended and exciting “Sand”s from the run.  Thanks to Paul, we now have a crispy snapshot of some superb late-’99 Phish.  This was first return to the Civic Center after the cosmic Island Run.  These are single song downloads again, so create a new folder and have at it.  Thanks, Paul!

I: Tube, Cars Trucks Buses, Gumbo, The Moma Dance, Piper*, Theme From the Bottom

II: Gotta Jiboo, NICU, Sand, The Inlaw Josie Wales, Mountain in the Mist, Limb by Limb, Golgi Apparatus, Slave to the Traffic Light

E: Silent in the Morning#, Heavy Things

*With Trey on keys.  #Not accompanied by “The Horse.”



“YEM” jam 4.5.98 Providence Civic Center Pt.1

YEM jam Pt. 2

New Year’s Music

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , on January 1, 2009 by Mr.Miner

dscf0062Happy 2009 to all!  If one thing can be said for sure, regardless of your angle, 2009 will be better than 2008.  If nothing more, we will have a torrential monsoon of Phish jams to digest and comprehend, something we haven’t experienced for quite some time.  The new year is full of hope– for me personally, and for us as a community– it is all in front of us.  With destiny on our side, things are bound to turn out the way they are supposed to. Here’s to a sacred 2009.

When I got home early this morning, I had a little left in my tank.  Having recently relived the Big Cypress experience through writing, I thought I’d revisit it by sound.  Always my friends at 3am, my turntables and I warmed together for a New Years exploration of Big Cypress.  All music and magic contained in this mix is drawn from the all-night set bringing in the new millennium.  Enjoy the tunes with restoration, relaxation, and maybe a few bowl games.  Happy 2009 All!


^ fixed / edited version…Peace.

Big Cypress Pt. 2: Realizations

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , on December 31, 2008 by Mr.Miner

Reclining in a lawn chair amidst our RVs, I witnessed the last sunrise of the century.  Would the world last until tomorrow?  With all of the Y2k hysteria going on back in society, it was anyone’s guess.  The clear Florida sky soothed my body as visions of that Mike’s danced behind my eyelids.  I was ready for it, I thought to myself.  I was ready to take the seven hour plunge into the abyss, not knowing how I would come out on the other side.  Yet, as ready as I could be, those butterflies fluttered inside me.  This was going to be different.

12.31.99 - photo:

The morning quickly turned to late-afternoon, and we made our way back to the stage.  Finding our usual spot behind the speaker tower, we sat and enjoyed the sunshine.  This afternoon set seemed like a cocktail party before a boxing match, a strange dynamic as everyone knew what we were facing mere hours away; the end of everything as we knew it.  When it was over, it would be 2000.

The band made their way to the stage for the last conventional set of the weekend.  As that morning sun began to head downward, everything started to flow.  Perfectly fitting, one of the most classic openers in Phish history cracked the ice, as “Runaway Jim” took us into New Year’s Eve.  As the sun inched ever closer to the horizon, the band dropped “Tube,” upping the rhythmic adrenaline of 100,000 at once.  Taking in the grooves, watching the sun, the clouds, and raging with your friends– was this heaven?  It sure seemed like it.

"Tube" 12.31.99

"Tube" 12.31.99

The centerpiece of the first set was unarguably the sublime playing within “Split Open > Catapult.”  A menacing jam that absolutely took on a life of its own, Phish had me.  This was where I was supposed to be– right here in the middle of the Florida swamps awaiting my destiny.  They continued to breathe magical life into the music until it reached the most un-Split territory imaginable.  Fairy tale majesty of the soul oozed from the universe through Trey’s fingers, producing some of the most beautiful life-affirming melodies of the weekend.  The band built right along with this spiritual path, growing the jam to a delicate, yet chugging, peak.  All of a sudden, as if discovering the answer to it all, the band began building this transcendent texture into a groove.  Then, Boom!  We were all free, sailing in the most beautiful and bass led groove on the planet.  Like superheroes, we soared through the sky, trailing capes of vibrant colors as the band laid into the Everglades-sized funk groove.  Honoring this other-wordly excursion, the band sung “Catapult” over the addictive, cathartic groove.  In retrospect, this jam was arguably the musical highlight of the weekend.

Phish ended the afternoon set with a song that got everyone hyped for the evening– a first time cover of J.J. Cale’s “After Midnight.”  The lyrics alone whipped the entire festival into a frenzy, and in my mind, further confirmed the fact that we were in for a cosmic event like never before.  They “were gonna’ let it all hang out,” there’s only one thing that meant to me– seven hours of psychedelic improv.  It was on!  Some thought I was crazy as I began voicing what would happen.  I thought they were equally as crazy.  As we chilled in the hours up until midnight, my head spun faster and faster, dizzy with expectations.

hotdogeditBefore we knew it, we were sitting in front of those speaker towers again.  This time, armed for the evening; extra clothes, water, a two foot bong, the whole nine.  IT was gonna happen, we needed to be prepared.  As I sat amongst the crowd, people were forming betting pools, predicting what song would kick off the new millennium.  It made me wonder.  “Don’t they know?” I thought to myself.  What else could Phish do but come out and play to the universe?  Even as I saw the “bookie” writing down the bets and odds, I was sure his scorecard was completely irrelevant.

I wasn’t talking much in preparation for what would go down, and ran the quarter-mile to the side fence to pee one more time before this happened.  As my mind was adrift, “Meatstick” started playing over the PA.  Leaping to my feet, I saw the famous 1994 hot dog come sailing in above the crowd from the back left side of the field!  Taking on a double entendre with “Meatstick” playing in the background, the craft sailed to the stage.  “A little humor before the storm,” I thought to myself.

As the band deboarded, they encountered Father Time who had passed out while peddling the gears of an over-sized clock to the 21st century.  Taking actual meatsticks, each band member fed Father Time who regained the energy to move us to the year 2000!  Classic Phish absurdity at its finest.  The band took up their instruments, playing along with the PA, soon morphing into a countdown to the end the century.  Flashes of an apocalyptic New York City plagued by Y2k flew through my mind, quickly wondering what was going on in the rest of the world, and just as quickly forgetting….3….2…1….and the band bust into “Auld Lang Syne?”  Ok.  It’s a tradition.  Now, here we go!



As the New Year’s hymn ended, Mike threw down the opening riff to “Down With Disease?!”  Huh?  What?  Were we back in some arena on some odd numbered New Year?  What the hell was going on?  Maybe they would just play some songs before diving into a jam of a couple of hours, and then another, and then another.  Yeah, that must be what’s up.

After a spectacular Disease and a segue into “Llama,” I was disoriented.  Llama?  What the hell was going on here.  After “Bathtub Gin” appeared in super-sized form, it all fell apart.  Trey began talking about ABC’s spot that was coming up, direct from our swamp.  As Trey spoke to Tom Brokaw, or whoever it was, my vision of the night crumbled in front of my eyes.  This was the least cosmic thing that could possibly be happening.  While Trey gave his now famous instructions on how to use the road, poking fun at the fiasco that was the entrance to the festival, and then dropped into “Heavy Things,” I knew that my vision, my certainty, my truth was not to be.  It took me minutes to cognitively process the shift in direction my evening was taking.

Robert Mayer

Midnight - photo: Robert Mayer

This wouldn’t be the adventure I had dreamed of.  This wouldn’t necessarily be the greatest jam the band ever created, that was left to be seen.  This was going to be one long seven hour Phish show.  And then it hit me like a ton of bricks.  This was gonna be one seven hour long Phish show!!  Holy shit!  I was so caught up in preparing my consciousness for a musical vision quest, I had completely lost sight of what was going on.  This is what I had always dreamed of– a never-ending Phish set.  One massive jam after another after another after another after another and so on.

It all came back together fairly quickly during the stunningly beautiful “Twist” jam.  This was the soundtrack to the universe.  As the band settled into a gorgeous down-tempo groove, something inside me realigned.  Those expectations of a seven hour jam slipped away, and my heart beat to the methodical rhythm of this blissful jam.  Without ending, the music slid into “Prince Caspian,” a song I had loved since its debut in ’95 due to its connection to The Chronicles of Narnia, far and away my favorite books as a kid.  The song always gave me a sense of connection to myself and to my childhood, and this time around it was beyond poignant.  It was the universe telling me that everything was cool, and we were in for a ride!

Phish was right on board my mental path as they bust into “Rock and Roll,” one of the most adventurous jams of the night.  A thirty-minute Talking Head’s-esque Phish exploration of rhythm and thematic melody was one of the mega-highlights of the evening.  Providing a wonderful musical joy ride through a four dimensional textured corridor, things were starting to come together.

phish-nye-99-00YEM, Crosseyed.  Okay, now we were talking!  We were a couple hours in and things started to evolve to a deeper place.  In certainly the most adventurous “chunk” of the all-night set, “Rock And Roll,” YEM, Crosseyed, and “Sand > Quadraphonic Toppling” totaled two hours of dark unbridled improvisation, each jam taking on a unique character.  The Crosseyed was an unexpected treat that blew up into one of the most memorable musical portions of the evening.  The “Sand” explored the hyper-complexities of groove and intricacies of sonic texture, morphing in the only ever Phish performance of The Siket Disc‘s “Quadraphonic Toppling.”  This forty minute jam was one of the largest highlights of the night, with the band hitting their stride in a diversity of unheard of grooves

And after the darkness came the light.  With Cypress-sized versions of Slave and “Reba,” Phish had us soaring through the nighttime sky on a magic carpet of spiritual threads.  The Slave is straight bliss as the band takes as much time building to a drumbeat as they do building to the peak.  The “Reba” gave everyone the chance to kick back and reflect on what was actually going on as our bodies floated through space.  The jams of this set began to take on a certain slow-paced patience that came to define the music of the evening.



The next couple hours mostly read like a super long Phish show, though there were some big moments thrown in.  The Bowie was solid, but the true highlight of this portion of the show was the absolutely locked in molasses grooving they hit in the post-“After Midnight” reprise part of the “Drowned.” Definitely battling for musical passage of the weekend, this was some of the greatest full-band playing of the entire seven hours.  The jam was already impressive, moving at a down-tempo pace, but then they all simultaneously hit a tempo that everyone just gels with, Trey comes in with the perfect rhythm licks, and voila– Phish happens.

I always found it funny that the band had the presence of mind to insert one Fishman song in the exact relative time slot late in the second set, just as they would during a normal show.  And just as in a normal show, after the Fishman song, the end of the show began.  Tonight that happened in the biggest way possible.

Danny Clinch

1.1.00 - photo: Danny Clinch

The sky was already beginning to lighten a bit when the band strummed the opening chords of “Roses Are Free.”  YES!  Ever since that sacred night in Nassau, everybody in the scene had been waiting for Phish to go huge on this song again, but it hadn’t happened.  Everyone knew this time would be IT.  And so it was; Phish brought the audience on an awing ambient journey for nearly forty minutes as they brought up the sun of the next millennium.  One of the most melodic and gorgeous jams of the evening, 100,000 people watched silently as time passed before their eyes and Phish crawled the outer realms.  One of those Phishy moments, when everything was absolutely perfect, this Roses sunrise was everyone’s indelible memory from the seven hours.  As the clouds split apart in a strangely psychedelic pattern, it was like the heavens were opening, welcoming us to the rest of our lives.  Gazing around at my friends during this frozen moment, knowing the path we had collectively traveled for years to get here, we had finally arrived.

The Dawn of a New Millenium

The Dawn of a New Millenium

Resolving the massive journey with “Bug,” the morning had broken– we had made it, and somehow, contrary to the song’s lyrics, it did matter.  It mattered a lot.  Just in time for one last mind-fuck, Phish began the intro to “Harry Hood.”  Playing the reggae for fifteen seconds while everyone exchanged looks of dismay, they had us hooked.  Had they forgotten?  They played this last night.  Sure, it was most definitely the perfect sunrise song, but…as soon as my thoughts progressed this far, they used a natural break in Hood to smash into the first ever morning 2001.  Smiles were so wide they hurt, as we absolutely raged the most blissful morning in memory.  This was the stuff dreams were made of– busting into a sunrise 2001 after a seven hour set– were we positive this wasn’t heaven?

In one of the Phishiest moves of the set, they combined the funk anthem with one of their most poignant compositions, “Wading In the Velvet Sea” to approach the close of the most magnificent set ever played.  It was as perfect as it gets.  The beauty of the music and the surroundings were inseparable as all was most definitely one.  As the ballad ended, the band picked up right where they had started, playing through a morning “Meatstick.”  Everything had finally come full circle, and we basked in the dawning of a new millennium.  As The Beatles’ “Here Comes The Sun” poured through the PA, the power of the moment was awe-striking.  Dreams do come true.


phbigcypressDOWNLOAD OF THE DAY:

12.31.99 Big Cypress RMSTR! < LINK

Thanks to the hard work of Paul Gwynne Craig, working round the clock in Europe, we have a remastered copy of this legendary night!  Each and every track has been given his personal touch and attention, but unfortunately, due to his bandwith limitations in Europe, you will have to download them track by track.  Don’t fret, just create a new folder and download them all to there!  Thanks Paul!!  This should hold us over until next year’s 10 year anniversary CD/DVD collection comes out.*

*Scotty B made that up.

I: Runaway Jim, Funky Bitch, Tube, I Didn’t Know*, Punch You in the Eye, Bouncing Around the Room, Poor Heart, Roggae, Split Open and Melt** > Catapult, Get Back on the Train, Horn, Guyute, After Midnight***

II: # Meatstick^ > Auld Lang Syne, Down with Disease > Llama, Bathtub Gin^^, Heavy Things^^^, Twist Around > Prince Caspian > Rock and Roll, You Enjoy Myself%, Crosseyed and Painless, The Inlaw Josie Wales%%, Sand > Quadrophonic Topplings*, Slave to the Traffic Light, Albuquerque, Reba, Axilla, Uncle Pen, David Bowie, My Soul, Drowned > After Midnight reprise, The Horse > Silent in the Morning, Bittersweet Motel, Piper** > Free, Lawn Boy, Hold Your Head Up > Love You%%% > Hold Your Head Up, Roses are Free, Bug, Also Sprach Zarathustra$ > Wading in the Velvet Sea, Meatstick (7:45)

*With Fish on vacuum. **Unfinished. ***First time played; J.J. Cale cover #Set begins around 11:35 pm with Father Time on stage pedaling away at a stationary bike, powering a large clock, with the sound of the gears on the PA. At approximately 11:50 pm, Father Time collapses from exhaustion and the clock stops. At this time, with appropriate sound effects, a large fan boat entered the field from halfway back, stage right. Soon the sides and top of the fan boat were blown off to reveal the band riding in the hot dog from 12-31-94. The hot dog approached the stage as the band threw leis and other goodies into the crowd. Once the hot dog reached the stage, the band disembarked carrying several meatsticks. They fed these to Father Time, reviving him to drive to clock to midnight. ^Instrumental version, with the band picking up the song from a pre-recorded version played during the hot dog ride. ^^With vocal jam, as Trey, Mike, and Page sang the notes as they played them. ^^^Recorded live for ABC’s Millennium coverage; Trey instructed the crowd to chant the word “Cheesecake” after the song (instead of applauding), in an attempt to confuse TV viewers; Trey introduced the band for the recorded footage and offered a message of peace and harmony for the world (“The right lane is for driving. The left lane is for passing. So stay in the right lane unless you’re passing.”). %With “Cheesecake” vocal jam. %%Trey solo acoustic. %%%With Fish on vacuum; Fish introduced Page before the song, and Mike and Trey afterwards, and the band as “Phish 2000.” $Preceded by a tease of the “Harry Hood” intro. No encore; post-show music was the Beatles’ “Here Comes the Sun.”

Big Cypress Pt.1: Expectations

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , on December 30, 2008 by Mr.Miner

Ever since that Polaris show during July of ’99 when Trey announced the millennium show in Florida, the juices were flowing.  All alone, with 100,000 friends, in the Everglades to witness the passing of time to the soundtrack of Phish– what could possibly be better?  Soon it came out that Phish would play an all-night set for the entry into 2000, something that caused butterflies in my stomach as soon as I heard it.  “Were they serious?” I thought to myself.  That feeling that I got at the end of every show- that unquenchable jonesing for more- might finally be satiated with such an event.  Was this really happening?  It was, and the excitement began building directly upon leaving Polaris and heading on an all-night cannonball run to Alpine Valley.

Sunset 12.30.99

Sunset 12.30.99

All night!  The possibilities were endless, and my imagination began to run wild.  This was the event Phish was destined for, ever since their inception back in the eighties.  Staring down the millennium like the barrel of a rifle, Phish would step to the stage and never leave.  As Trey announced during the first set of the first day, there would be security around the stage to make sure the band members could not leave!  His joke only made my fantasies all the more vivid!  Phish was going to be the soundtrack to the most cosmic night we had ever experienced.  A journey into the unknown, the likes of which we had never seen.  All those shows throughout the year, all those years throughout the decades, they had all led up to this, the most monumental affair of Phish’s career.  But I had expectations.

This was the only Phish show I ever entered with expectations, and after 250+ shows at that point, I should have known better.  Yet, ever since the all-night set was announced, it was obvious to me what would happen.  It would be akin to The Lemonwheel’s ambient “Ring of Fire” jam– Phish would come out at midnight and play however the spirit moved them.  Yet, this ring of magic wouldn’t be one hour- but seven!  All fall I imagined this night as the ultimate psychedelic adventure of both my and Phish’s life; this is where our paths had led us.  I was sure that when they came out at midnight, there would be no songs, how could there be?  There would be no “Runaway Jim” or “Down With Disease” to wish us happy new year, just an amorphous beginning to a jam that would move organically for hours as the universe shifted from the 1900’s to the 2000’s.

phish-big-cypress-99-thumbIt was going to be colossal– I knew it in my heart.  This was what I had been waiting for my whole life, pure unadulterated Phish improvisation with absolutely zero musical reference points to know where we were headed.  No beginnings or ends, just music– universal spiritual music– the stuff that Phish did best.  We wouldn’t know how many hours had passed or how many more there were to go, we would be lost in the harnesses of the Phish with nothing but our collective imagination to move us.

Yes, it had to be.  The band would spend the first four sets of the festival playing all of their significant songs, and then come out at midnight and just play.  It was perfectly scripted in my head– I knew it to be true.  And during that first set, when Trey affirmed that the band would never leave the stage, even for a short break, I knew I was right.



And so it started.  The 30th.  After waiting in hours, or days, of traffic, we had just enough time to ditch our RVs and make it to the concert ground for the first set.  The Native American chants led by Chief Jim Billie made my personal predictions even stronger in my mind, harnessing the energy of the land’s true inhabitants; reaching into history to access the future.  It was all coming together.  The forces were aligned, and then came “Ghost.”  By dropping such a dark song in the midst of daylight, my only thought was, “Of course, they had to play some huge songs during the day, because there wasn’t gonna’ be any tomorrow night!”

The 30th proved everything I thought it would be- a show of massive proportions showcasing the darker side of Phish.  There came a bulbous festival combo of “Wilson > Curtain > Tweezer” to open set two, and a magical fifteen-minute “Harry Hood” and “Good Times, Bad Times” to close the set.  This was shaping up the be quite the night, and the third, and best, set was yet to come.

Big Cypress Boardwalk

Big Cypress Boardwalk

After two full sets, Phish sometimes came out for shortened third frame, but not this time, as the final segment of the day would be the most impressive.  Using two of their most divergent and popular songs, the band opened the night time with a fierce Chalk Dust and a “Moma Dance” that sounded larger than life, slowly booming through the speaker towers.  Without wasting anytime, Phish tore into a ripping mid-set Antelope that proved to be one of the highlights of the entire day.  After a quirky stop in “The Sloth” and a moment of reflection with “When the Circus Comes to Town,” Phish revved up one of the most belligerent Mike’s Grooves in memory.


12.30.99 III

It was the last “Mike’s Song” of the 1900’s and it sounded like a precursor to the apocalypse.  An excursion of the deepest and darkest, this Mike’s shook the festival and its audience to the very core, tapping into forces that seemed far larger and more powerful than anything we knew.  The music was slow, directed, and overwhelmingly menacing, as if it descended upon us from the heavens, delivering an ancient message of redemption.  The jam grew far darker and aggressive as it progressed, pulling everyone’s mind into one evil grooving stew.  Certainly the definitive jam of the evening, it was the ethos of this Mike’s that the 30th had always been about– the mysterious unknown and the terrorizing adventure into darkness.

As the band moved through the ferocious jam, the field, and the whole world, tremored in its monstrosity.  This was IT, this was the place where everything would go down, and night one could not have been scripted better.  Finishing off with transitions into Simple, Hydrogen, and Weekapaug, when this set ended, everyone had their world shot into perspective by the magnitude of the music.  With a Tweezer Reprise encore, the stage was set for what would surely be the most magnificent night of the band’s career.

To Be Continued Tomorrow….

phishbigcypressmapos0DOWNLOAD OF THE DAY:

12.30.99 Big Cypress Indian Reservation < LINK

The first night.

Damn,That Jam!?

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , on December 17, 2008 by Mr.Miner

They innocently oozed into it right out of Moma.  Phish had the crowd in the palm of their hand, and decided they’d play with them a bit.  Beginning from a place of near silence it commenced.  A few meandering bass notes with some guitar noise, and before you knew it, the band began to shape their ball of musical play-doh.  Very subtle at first, adding only sound and effects, Phish created a space-scape with a delicate texture shimmering like a the first star in the summer sky.

hw9Trey added some walls of tonal color and dissonance, with Page following suit.  The entire band instantly was up to their ears in a primordial sonic soup.  As the size of the sound continued to grow, and its shape expanded, most everyone in the spaceship was sure the band was creating a monumental build to 2001.  It was a given; where else would they possibly bring this type of gnarly martian music?  The entire building would explode with Fish’s snare hit.  This was it.

hw551This inner anticipation created the childlike dynamic of needing to stay in bed just ten more minutes before you could get up on Christmas morning.  The excitement living inside your soul was so deep it was almost sickening.  You couldn’t wait to run down those stairs, into the family room to see a twenty-minute 2001 sitting under the tree.  The five-minute passage that Phish created seemed like an eternity as we lied under our covers,  knowing what lied just ahead of this menacing passage.  The dark to the light, the eerie to the divine; this is what Phish was all about.  With each sonic swell, you felt the bass bulge inside you, and heard the intergalactic keyboard tweaks setting the gears for take off.

As the band checked their systems, using their instruments in unique and complementary ways, they formed a flowing cosmic noise.  It felt as though the entire room was levitating, and would soon zoom off into the ether, leaving vapor trails like Doc Brown’s Delorian.

As Fish rolled around on the toms, snare, and cymbals, take off was imminent.  Safety belts were strapped as the band entered a silent countdown.  3…2…1…”Bug?!”

img_0460Just as everyone and their mothers thought Phish was taking us to the outer rings with Fall ’99’s last 2001, the band dropped right into “Bug.”  On the recording you can hear Trey make the call about four seconds beforehand.  What many people would complain about after the show, was actually an incredibly Phishy anti-climax.  While the band became known for blowing your brains out, but they were also famous for pulling the anti-climactic move when you least expected it.  Yet, while everyone was wondering why they weren’t dancing to funk, Trey and the band were busy annihilating the “Bug” jam, creating a soaring piece of improv in its own right.

Hampton '99

Hampton '99

Phish were known to throw the change-up when the crowd is sitting dead red on a fastball, and to be honest, that is what made them so fresh and unpredictable.  Often dropping  “Harpua” out of the blue, the band would also use their ballads and composed songs at times when you expected a deep journey.  This is where expectations came into play.  Don’t carry them- they are unneeded emotional baggage.  Phish will naturally unfold in front of you, and the beauty of it all is being a part of that organic experience.  Forcing your own thoughts and ideas into what should be played only tarnishes a pristine experience.  Yet, during this jam in Hampton, nine years ago today, Phish convinced everyone in the building that we were heading for the Andromeda Galaxy.  The anticipatory nature of the jam is so definitive that the band used it as the backing music for their comeback announcement video, late that fall night.

Phish’s trickery was always half the fun.  We were, in fact heading for unbridled psychedelia, it was just coming  a few minutes later in the form of a demented twenty-minute “Split Open and Melt.”  They say that good things come to those that wait, and the following night, to open the last set of tour, Phish tore apart that 2001 we all so longingly desired.  And it was good.

LISTEN TO 12.17.99 MOMA > jam! > BUG NOW!



5.1.92 The Rave, Central Park, Milwaukee, WI < LINK

Spring '92 Poster

May '92 Poster

Another show from a reader’s request, this one is plucked from the all-star spring of 1992.  This high-quality AUD is allegedly from the rig Shapiro and friends’ ran during this tour.  A high energy beginning with Suzy and My Friend got the adrenaline coursing early, as Trey shredded the My Friend solo ferociously.  The first set reads as a typical 1992 first set, but is highlighted by an atypically smooth, piano-led “It’s Ice” jam.  Set two features a “Sanity, Buried Alive” opener and a hot Mike’s Groove.  A side note, this was the last appearance of Fishman’s “Bag-Vac” in “I Didn’t Know.”  Thought you’d like to know.

I: Suzy Greenberg, My Friend My Friend, Poor Heart, The Landlady, NICU, The Sloth, The Divided Sky, Guelah Papyrus, It’s Ice, Horn, I Didn’t Know, Possum

II: Sanity, Buried Alive, Wilson, All Things Reconsidered, My Sweet One, Mike’s Song > I Am Hydrogen > Weekapaug Groove, Mound, Lizards, Llama, Terrapin, Golgi Apparatus

E1: Lawn Boy, Good Times Bad Times

E2: Rocky Top

Twas the Night Before Hampton

Posted in Uncategorized with tags on December 16, 2008 by Mr.Miner

As we enter the home stretch of the Christmas season, we also find ourselves on the anniversary of an amazing show in Raleigh on 12.16.99.  I thought I’d combine the two themes. (Read to the rhythm of “Twas the Night Before Christmas”)


Twas the night before Hampton, and Raleigh appeared,
Exploding in groove, and mind-bending cheer.
Wilson began and the ‘Dust followed up,
A raging beginning to start, sure enough.

The floor was wide open, the stands they were packed,
The wooks were all spun and the yuppies were jacked.
The tapers were taping, their mics were held high
As hallucinations danced in the sky.

Soon there was Lawn Boy, and then there was Limb,
Get Back, Roggae and a second-set Jim.
To close the first half were two beasts of the earth,
A Camel and Possum, both scribed by Holdsworth.

Set break had come and theatrics would follow,
Far greater than Hampton’s 18th or tomorrow.
This followed a trend, a pattern complete,
That the night before was quite often the heat!

There maybe less pressure, there maybe no nerves,
But on the eve of the big ones, Phish always threw curves.
Yet take history’s proof, don’t listen to me,
Take Vernon and Darien before Limestone, now see?

Like Boise pre-Shoreline, a path Phish did forge,
Just like Vancouver came ‘fore The Gorge.
The shows before New Year’s were always much thicker
With free-flowing jams, and clearly less liquor.

The hype for the big shows routinely allowed
For the band to surprise the night before’s crowd.
Calls would be made, and messages played,
“Don’t bother, stay home! You missed IT, I say!”

This night in Raleigh would be just the same,
With a second set reaching the top of their game.
The best “Sand” of the year, not counting the swamp
Commenced a dark set in which Phish would soon romp.

Thirty-minutes of groove from the stage emanated
While all of us dancing were feeling elated.
A brief stop in Mango and a wade in the sea,
Before Tweezer took over, and set us all free.

One to cherish and keep; that millennial sound,
With deep walls of texture, distorted and round.
Weaving through darkness, the jam crept along
When the band, out of nowhere, hit a triumphant song.

The music moved smoothly, to the top of a Slave,
Peaking the jam with improv so brave.
Nothing at Hampton would be quite like this,
Though it would contain its own share of bliss.

For two nights of bombast and Mothership spells,
All coming to Hampton would arrive with bells.
Happy to be there, as well they should be,
They all wished they’d made it down to Ra-leigh.

One of the best throughout all ninety-nine,
Hampton wouldn’t even enter that line.
With a sense of the moment, and a penchant for drama
While donning their magical music pajamas;

Phish touched the divine on the night before hype,
‘Ere the people dressed up came down the next night.
So next time you plan a trip to see Phish,
Leave an extra day early, and you won’t have to wish.


12-16-99 Reynolds Coliseum, Raleigh, NC

I: Wilson > Chalkdust Torture, Lawn Boy, Limb by Limb, Horn, Get Back On The Train, Roggae, Heavy Things, Camel Walk, Possum
II: Sand, The Mango Song, Wading in the Velvet Sea > Jam > Tweezer > Runaway Jim
E: Bittersweet Motel > Tweezer Reprise

DOWNLOAD 12.16.99 Raleigh, NC NOW! < LINK



6.15.95 Lakewood Amphitheatre, Atlanta, GA < LINK

2850125432_3b2e497f38A standout show from the psychedelic summer of ’95, this one comes off of the request wire.  A quality show from start to finish, a dark “Stash” and “Antelope” highlighted the first set.  The second set was a classic Summer ’95 odyssey.  Going excessively deep with a near half-hour Bowie, the darkness is resolved first with Theme, and finally with a magnificent Slave.  A beautifully patient jam, this one is the version I go to when I want to hear Slave at sunrise.

I: My Friend My Friend, Sparkle, AC/DC Bag, The Old Home Place, Taste, The Wedge, Stash, I Didn’t Know*, Fluffhead, Run Like An Antelope

II: My Sweet One, Ha Ha Ha > David Bowie, Strange Design, Theme From the Bottom, Scent of a Mule, Acoustic Army, Slave to the Traffic Light

E: Bouncing Around the Room, Frankenstein

*With Fish on trombone, Mike on electric drill and Trey on megaphone.

Two Anniversaries: 12.11.97 & 12.11.99

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , on December 11, 2008 by Mr.Miner

Today we find ourselves on the anniversary of a couple very Phishy shows.  In addition to the Cumberland County ’95 show (up for download yesterday), this date brought us two monsters in 1997 and in 1999.  These two shows, Rochester and Philly, were both instant fan favorites of their respective tours, and both are vibrant illustrations of where the band stood at that time. Happy 12.11! (Both shows are available for download below their setlist.)


phish1First, let’s circle back to a cold and dreary winter day in 1997.  Phish was on the brink of finishing their undeniably exciting and now legendary Fall tour.  On the heels of an epic weekend in the Midwest and a stop at State College, Phish pulled into the classic War Memorial Auditorium, a room that hosted the Dead on many occasions.  The show proved to fall right in to the pattern of colossal Fall ’97 outings, with one of the best second sets of the month

The show opened bursting at the seems with energy with the three song combo of  “Punch, Disease > Maze.”  Punch, one of the great openers in the band’s catalog, was a mere table-setter on this night for a phenomenal “Down With Disease”–  an excursion that firmly tore apart the thematic jam for ten minutes before getting into slowed down rhythms that quickly brought the music to a much deeper place.  It seemed quite apparent from moment one, that the band was tapped in on this evening.  As the jam developed, Trey began  soloing with a menacing musical scowl, while the entire band dropped into a sublime and patient groove around his lines.  This is stuff that you have to hear, and most everyone already has.  This Disease is a huge tour highlight mere minutes into the show.  The switch was flicked on, and would stay that way for the duration of the evening.

image-8089ac8843c311d7The jam’s delicate dance patterns brought the music to a slow and winding close, without a return to Disease, as the band seamlessly dripped into the intro to “Maze.” Bringing maniacal psychedelic madness into the mix, Phish took the energy already in the room, and channeled it directly into their improv, creating a forty minute set-opening segment of music that jumped off the stage and directly down your throat.  Allowing little time for warm up, the band reserved their mellower moments for the end of the set, decelerating with “Dirt, “Limb by Limb” and “Loving Cup,” before closing with a randomly placed “Rocky Top.”

2215350003_f5fd829beaThe improvisation continued in mind-bending fashion in the non-stop second set.  The band quickly upped the ante with a twenty-minute “Drowned” opener that was among the heaviest psychedelia dropped during the tour.  Beginning in completely shredding fashion, the band slammed their foot back on the gas pedal quickly after taking the stage for set two.  About halfway through this jam, the band gradually started to move away from the song’s progression into some straight Phish improv.  Moving from uptempo ferocity into distinctly slower and murkier textures, the jam all of a sudden became a lot more interesting.  For the duration of the song, the band would explore musical places of the dark and other.  With the patience and precision of a surgeon, they slowly created the perfect juxtaposition to the initial half of the jam.  With some crack Trey licks played over a thick groove, this jam soon morphed into a much more ambient affair, with loops and effects galore, as Trey continued to slowly sprawl his thoughts.

13699471image9b586be0479711d7Famously, this standout portion of improv beautifully weaved its way into Ween’s “Roses Are Free,” a performance made famous by Bittersweet Motel.  While few were familiar with the song on this evening, all would come to know it as sacred Phish territory in Nassau, merely four months from this debut.  The ending riff of the song proved a perfect launching point for the rare “Big Black Furry Creatures From Mars.”  The lights went dark with white strobes, and the band dove into the quirky Phish-metal composition.  Trey took it upon himself to run laps around the stage amidst the maddening music, lending a deranged and Phishy tone to the already standout show.  A version that lasted eight minutes, full of dissonant build and distorted climax, this was not your average BBFCFM!  As if the band had gone temporarily insane, the asylum’s jam morphed into a excessively slow and heavy groove, not unlike the ending of Axilla for a period of minutes.  Creating a dark and eerie musical palate, Phish reveled in forcing the crowd to the brink.  After a two-minute ending of beat-less distortion, the band dropped a meticulously placed Ghost.

Giving the crowd exactly what we needed, this highlight rendition of Ghost is among the upper echelon in a standout year.  Providing the show with a much needed release pf flowing Phish grooves, the band took the liberty to precisely rip the only true Fall ’97 funk jam of the night- something that made Rochester so unique.  A perfect “Disease Reprise” emerged out of this multi-dimensional psychedelic odyssey, artistically closing the musical ideas sparked at the beginning of the show.

I: Punch You in the Eye > Down With Disease > Maze, Dirt, Limb By Limb, Loving Cup, Rocky Top

II: Drowned  > Roses Are Free* > Big Black Furry Creature From Mars > Ghost > Down With Disease (Reprise) > Johnny B. Goode

E: Waste

*Ween cover, first time played

DOWNLOAD 12.11.97 Rochester SBD NOW! < LINK



The Spectrum

The Spectrum

As Phish came back to The Spectrum for the second consecutive night, in December of ’99, they had a little redeeming to do.  After a botched transition from “Have Mercy” back into “David Bowie” the night before, the band bailed on the idea and awkwardly moved into a Fishman interlude of “Cracklin’ Rosie,” all but killing the momentum of the set.  The band stumbled to the finish line with a quick and low-energy “Twist” and “Waste.”  Yet what a difference a night can make!

1999-12-11gn1999’s version of 12.11 was arguably the band’s strongest outing of their climactic December 1999 tour.  Opening with “Harry Hood” for the first time in almost ten years (1.20.90), the twenty-minute version let us know immediately that we were in we were in for a treat!  Obviously expecting something more chill to follow the huge Hood jam, Phish brought Mike’s.  Gotta’ love it!  Giving the Groove the full treatment, the band segued from the evil bombastic soup into Simple then Hydrogen before closing the segment with hugely climactic Weekapaug.  After a reflective moment in “When the Circus Come to Town,” the band leapt into Gordon’s rare, “Scent of a Mule”- all in the first set!  The Spectrum buzzed loudly during setbreak, with the feeling that set two would be other-worldly.  And it was.

pict0221In one of the tightest sets of 1999, Phish would destroy their classic Philly haunt with a frame of celebratory segues, creating a set of pure Phish dance madness.  If you liked to move at Phish shows, the Sally > Ghost > 2001 > Disease was as good as anything you had ever heard.  Packed to the hilt with dense Phish grooves and a huge ambient jam before a stellar 2001, this segment was as hot as anything that reared its head in ’99.  The Ghost and the 2001, individually, are up there in the top versions ever.  The infectious 2001 spun the Spectrum with the ease of the Globetrotters spinning Spaldings to “Sweet Georgia Brown.”  The entire segment totaled 55 minutes of pure Phish crack, and it was one of those sets that when over, you knew that you had been a witness to something special; that was what it was all about.

An incredibly well-played show that was comprised of virtually all improvisation, this one will always be remembered by all in attendance.  You can hear the crowd roaring all night on the recordings, responding to a completely full-on Phish experience.  This was a night of beauty in a the City of Brotherly Love, and arguably the greatest Phish show ever dropped in the building. (12.15.95 would be the only contender.)

I: Harry Hood, Mike’s Song > Simple > I Am Hydrogen > Weekapaug Groove, When the Circus Comes, Scent of a Mule, Cavern

II: Boogie On Reggae Woman > Sneakin’ Sally Through the Alley > Ghost > Also Sprach Zarathustra > Down with Disease

E: Possum

DOWNLOAD 12.11.99 Philly NOW! < LINK



8.9.98 Virgina Beach Amphithatre, VA < LINK

VA Beach Amphitheatre

VA Beach Amphitheatre

There is nothing like a little slice of summer in the middle of December, and where better to grab it from than 1998?  This show has been requested a number of times, and is certainly worthy of all praise it receives.  The second set alone boasts Summer ’98’s best “AC/DC Bag,” a sick “Antelope,” and a mid-set “You Enjoy Myself.”  With two ninety-minute sets, you got your money’s worth out of this night in Virgina.  And to top it all off, “Terrapin Station” to honor the third anniversary of Jerry’s passing, and so much more.

I: Punch You in the Eye, Bathtub Gin, Lizards, The Moma Dance, Birds of a Feather, Esther, Roggae, Bouncing Around the Room, David Bowie

II: AC/DC Bag > Sparkle, Run Like an Antelope, Brian and Robert, Waste, Somewhere Over The Rainbow, You Enjoy Myself, Frankenstein, Chalkdust Torture, Hello My Baby

E: Terrapin Station

December ’99: Millennial Momentum

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , on December 3, 2008 by Mr.Miner

The fall of 1999 was a special time in the Phish universe.  The band had a more rigorous schedule than any fall since 1995, featuring 38 shows split into two tours.  The initial longer tour would traverse the country during the month of September, while the latter two-week run would focus on the northeast in preparation for the most anticipated event of the Phish’s career- Big Cypress.  Throughout this December run, there lived a sense of uncontrollable momentum, building to the crest of the 21st century.  Each show, each jam, each groove inched closer to the band’s ultimate night-long destiny.  A renewed excitement oozed infectiously during an outstanding run of shows, as the band and their community careened toward the millennium.


12.2.99 Auburn Hills, MI

The previous three years had led up to this point.  From the time Phish shifted their playing to a slower, more groove-based style in early ’97, the band had consistently refined and evolved their sound, adding new musical textures each tour, while focusing less on others.  If ’97 brought the funk, ’98 brought ambient psychedelia, and ’99 brought searing soundscapes strewn with dissonance and distortion.  Finding a balance between these elements, Phish entered this December run having notched copious dark adventures over the the year’s two tours.  Building towards a musical peak in congruence with the change of time, there existed a sense of something greater than usual on this tour- a sense that we were all riding the similar wave of fate.  As the world braced itself for Y2K and a goodbye to the 1900s, our course was for the Everglades, as we prepared for what would surely be the most significant event of our Phish lives.

The proverbial ball was pushed off the top the hill on the second of December in Auburn Hills, Michigan.  Launched by a phenomenal Bathtub > 2001 >YEM, we were off.  It all seemed so close now, a few weeks of shows, Christmas time, and then we would all follow the lines going South.  But there was some business to tend to first.  Minus an off night on 12.10 in Philly, Phish created a fortnight of sparkling memories that took us through the Northeast, while making stops in the Midwest and the Mid-Atlantic.

12.15.99 Washington, DC

12.15.99 Washington, DC

Over these shows, Phish wove tales of mastery with their fully developed “millennial” late-’99 sound.  Often favoring tonal color and dissonance over solo melodies, Trey enhanced his playing during this year and come these shows, was in full throttle, using jams as his personal canvas for abstract art.  Page followed this trend, favoring effect laden washes and psychedelic sounds that complemented Trey’s avant garde creations.  Improv often passed through periods of groove before climbing into these intensified, distorted realms, catering to the most prevalent song of the run, “Sand.”

A depiction of a dark reality, “Sand,” debuted only months earlier at The Gorge, had already grown into a Phish staple.  All five versions of “Sand” played in these two weeks were immediate tour highlights.  From the millennial madness of Cincy and Portland, to the half-hour dance party in Providence; from the best version in Raleigh, with Trey using his mini-keyboard better than ever, to the “2001 > Sand”  marathon that opened the last set at Hampton, this song was the unanimous MVP.  As these renditions continued to grow in stature, it felt as though they were building to something.  If we didn’t know where this momentum was leading at the time, in the wee hours of the first day of 2000, we discovered.


Big Cypress - photo: Andy

As Mike’s bassline pounded through the speaker towers, we knew we were in for something special- something we had been feeling for so long.  Phish initiated the most extended and sublime exploration of groove in their career, resulting in forty-five minutes of absolutely to-die-for music.  Comfortably achieving complex places previously untouched, the band tore through the darkness with some of the most driving rhythmic music of their career, “Sand > Quadrophonic Toppling.”

Along this concise path of musical ascension, 12.11 in Philly and 12.16 in Raleigh proved to be two of the best shows of the year.  With a second set that was hard to reckon with, The Spectrum’s show brought the heat in the ridiculous triumvirate “Sally > Ghost > 2001.”  With some of the best improv of the tour, this was truly a space-aged sock hop.  Both the “Sand” and the “Tweezer” from Reynolds Coliseum upstaged anything the band would drop at Hampton over the next two nights.  Both are colossal pieces of quintessential late-’99 improv, defining the style of music I have tried to describe.

Chris Heppner

12.18.99 Hampton, VA - photo: Chris Heppner

The tour also saw the band’s return to the Phishy venue of Cumberland County Civic Center in Portland Maine for the first time since 12.11.95.  A two night stand in the intimate venue boasted two great second sets- the first highlighted with a gorgeous ambient exploration of “Bathtub Gin” and the second by the aforementioned “Sand” and a very atypical “Piper” jam.

phish-hampton-99pollockQuite fittingly, the last two shows before Cypress took place at Hampton.  The building that grew to symbolize Phish’s psychedelic power, would host the band one last time in the 1900s, a two-night stand that brought the year to a head.  What started with a big “Bathtub Gin” at Bonner Springs had led up to this, as the band stepped out for their final set.  Gratifying the crowd with the “2001” that everyone had tasted the previous night during post-Moma jam, Phish launched into an almost forty minute carnival ride of “2001 > Sand,” the ultimate pairing of Phish-generated crack grooves.  The audience delighted in the overwhelming non-stop party.  Closing the set with a heavy Mike’s Groove, Phish provided yet another journey into the shadowed forests of space before resolving with a tour ending Weekapaug> Buffalo Bill > Weekapaug.

And that was it.  Cypress was less than two weeks away.  A brief visit home with our families, and into the nether world we would go, knowing not what to expect from Phish’s greatest mystery yet.  As the entire community celebrated the holidays and prepared for the ultimate, anyone who had seen this run of shows knew the band was ready.  All things were set for the ride of a lifetime.

To celebrate the nine year anniversary of this climactic run of shows, I have put together an extensive compilation of tracks from these two weeks.  Highlighting at least one jam from every show of tour, “Miner’s Picks: December ’99” totals ten hours of can’t miss psychedelic relaxation.  The tracks and links are below!

Post your own memories of December ’99 in Comments below!




1,2,3. Bathtub Gin > 2001 > YEM 12.2 II Auburn Hills, MI

4. Sand 12.3 II Cincinnati, OH

5. Limb By Limb 12.3 II

6. Split Open and Melt 12.4 II Cincinnati, OH

7-10. Mike’s > Meatstick > H2 > Weekapaug 12.5 II Rochester, NY

11. Halley’s Comet 12.7 I Portland, ME

13,14,15. Baththub Gin > Simple, Free 12.7 II

15. Run Like an Antelope 12.8 I Portland, ME

16-19. Sand, Dirt, Piper > Dog-Faced Boy 12.8 II

20,21. David Bowie > Have Mercy 12.10 II Philadelphia, PA

22-25. Sally > Ghost > 2001 > Disease 12.11 II Philadelphia, PA

26,27. Drowned > Prince Caspian 12.12 II Hartford, CT

28. Sand 12.13 II Providence, RI

29. Free 12.15 II Washington, DC

30. Reba 12.15 II

31. Sand 12.16 II Raleigh, NC

32,33. Wading In the Velvet Sea > Tweezer 12.16 II

34,35,36.  Moma Dance > jam > Bug 12.17 II Hampton, VA

37. Split Open and Melt 12.17 II

38. Harry Hood 12.18 I Hampton, VA

39. Tube 12.18 I

40,41. 2001 > Sand 12.18 II