Archive for 2003

The Nassau Tweezer

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , on February 23, 2009 by Mr.Miner
Nassau 2.28.03

Nassau 2.28.03

As the Cincinnati weekend came to a close, fans dispersed back across the country with plenty of tales to tell.  With only three shows before Nassau, the date that everyone had circled on their calendars when this tour was announced, Phish’s winter momentum was snowballing.  Two nights after a hot show in Worcester, Phish returned to the scared stomping grounds of Nassau Coliseum- the site of half of The Island Run and, more significantly, the divine events of 4.3.98.  Having stopped there only two other times in 1999, for a pair of wholly underrated shows, the communal anticipation of something huge in Nassau was building.  And huge would turn out to be an understatement.

The first set shone with the band’s second consecutive top-shelf  “Gin”- the first since Cincy’s standout escapade- and the eternally sought after oldie, “Destiny Unbound,” played for the first time in 791 shows (11.15.91).    The overwhelming excitement following this set filled the arena, and had it buzzing like a hornet’s nest during the break.  Yet when people eventually left the Coliseum on this last night of February, their memories would hardly be focused on the first set.

030228_stubHaving only dropped one “Tweezer” thus far on tour- a monster version in Chicago- Phish was due to break out one of their most popular jam vehicles.  As fans assumed their places for what was obviously going to be massive set, the opening lick of the song bled from Trey’s Languedoc.  Boom!  Just like that,  we were amidst a set-opening “Tweezer” that was most certainly heading to great places.  Where- we didn’t know- but there was an overwhelming aura of greatness that surrounded the composed section of the song.

Nassau 2.28.03

Nassau 2.28.03

As we prepared ourselves to enter the Freezer, Phish built up the maniacal, noisy peak before we collectively took the plunge.  As the final phrasing of the melody oozed into the jam, the feeling of potential was limitless.  Jumping right into some lead melodies, Trey joined the band’s directional groove right off the bat.  Moving briskly, Phish pumped through some quintessential “Tweezer” textures before beginning to build the improv outwards.

In a break that left the drums and bass both prominent and reverberating, the music took a distinct turn into the second part of the jam. Feeling the way he wanted the music to move, Trey hopped into the fray with some authoritative leads.  The totality of the jam possessed a laid back vibe as Page tickled the Rhodes in the background and Mike bounced some relaxed patterns.  Trey took front and center, guiding this section of the improv with some quality licks that charted the band’s course.

508809808_6a5329e1c4Soon the music became far quieter, with each member taking their sound down a notch, as Mike and Fish’s mellow, yet popping, groove kept things on track.  It was this moment that set the course for the most triumphant musical passage of the entire winter tour.  With one chord, atop this minimal groove, Trey revved his psychedelic lawnmower, creating a distorted sound that seemed to vibrate and echo like a bizarre elastic band.  The band responded to each guitar chord by slightly shifting their ideas, filling in the space by complementing Trey’s sound.  It was at this point that Trey used an incredibly unique effect and played a series of chords that belonged in a post-modern collage, entering the band into yet a third section of this “Tweezer.”

From this point, the band’s musical ideas fused together as they began to move as one entity.  Mike and Page were straight killing it here, as Trey conceived his next move.  What came next out of his guitar would be a spring of gorgeous, spontaneous melodies that give me the shivers to this day.  This was one of those spectacularly surreal moments that only occur at Phish shows.  The entire band understood what needed to happen and wrapped their groove around Trey’s confessional, creating some of the most sublime music of the year.

Nassau 2.28.03

Nassau 2.28.03

As Trey moved right from these awing melodies into a pattern of distorted chords in which he would echo himself, the band truly hit their stride.  This was the bliss we chased across the country.  This was IT;  this was what we believed in.  This was the reason for it all.  The crowd was engulfed by the cosmos, as the universe’s energy, channeled through our four superheroes, rained down upon us.  Trey moved on to some spectacular and divergent playing in which he threw a beautifully dissonant musical boomerang around the venue; each time he caught it, throwing it higher into the rafters.  This section developed into one of the classic passages of music in the band’s history, as its unique playing and spiritual feeling was a revelation to the entire Phish world.

As this section of other-worldly music wound down, one had to presume that the band would wrap up the “Tweezer.”  But it took them less than a minute to transition into a completely different jam all together!  In some far more grounded improv, Phish entered faster, more straight ahead playing that seemed like it had come from a totally different song altogether, perhaps a “Piper.”  The band would gradually meander their way to some bluesy rock and roll, eventually morphing into a scorching jam around Peter Frampton’s “Do You Feel Like We Do?”  Bringing the song to a second, and completely different type of peak, the band chugged forward, knowing what they were in the midst of creating.

511607974_7b50588edbRarely do Phish songs get two distinct jams, but this Nassau “Tweezer” was an anomaly, boasting three completely different pieces of connected improv.  The central jam was so psychedelic and stratospheric that the band decided to slide people back to earth with another ten minutes of improv.  Eventually- a half-hour after it started-  this “Tweezer” turned into heavily muddied sound effects without a beat, signaling not only the end of the jam, but the oncoming drop of another song, as they sustained these effects for well over two minutes.

Out of the depths came some delicate reggae chords from Trey.  What was at first disorienting turned celebratory as the band glided aboard for the second-ever “Soul Shakedown Party” (2.17.97).  Phish clearly recognized how special the evening had become, and gave the nod by dropping the Marley cover out of the deepest part of the show.  As we all know, the band moved right into a hugely sinister “Bowie” out of this reggae interlude, but that is a separate article for a separate day.

001fThe Nassau “Tweezer,” in my humble opinion, stands as the greatest relic from Winter 2003; and can hold its weight in any “all-time” conversation.  A definitive piece of music of the post-hiatus era, this jam sits right at the top of any 2003 compilation.  Signifying their emerging musical direction that would be furthered come summer tour, this “Tweezer” was a masterpiece.  Phish had made quite the return to the hallowed grounds of Nassau, and with one show left in their comeback run, things looked as promising as ever.



9.24.00 Target Center, Minneapolis, MN < LINK

Target Center, Minneapolis, MN

Target Center, Minneapolis, MN

Here is a highlight from the much-maligned tour of Fall 2000.  While Phish may have been losing steam, they still had what it took to pop out legitimate shows- this being one of them.  The second set opened with a fabulous funk turned ambient excursion of “Cities” which wound its dark path into “Free.”  This show also saw the welcomed return of Velvet Underground’s “Cool It Down” for the first time since Halloween ’98, as one of seven covers played this night.

I: Mellow Mood, Chalk Dust Torture, Back at the Chicken Shack, Sparkle, The Sloth, The Divided Sky, Roggae, First Tube, Punch You in the Eye, Sample in a Jar

II: Cities* > Free, Ya Mar, Carini, Lawn Boy, HYHU > Love You > HYHU, Cool It Down, David Bowie

E: Fire

*w/ ambient jam with Trey on keyboards.
Source : Schoeps m222/mk41 > nt222 > AD-1000 (Ken Rossiter)

The Cincinnati Gin

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , on February 20, 2009 by Mr.Miner

14129230p2220030We sit amidst the six-year anniversary of Phish’s two week comeback run in the Winter of ’03.  As investigated earlier this week, Las Vegas was the springboard for the rest of a phenomenal run that restored our faith in the Phish.  Despite the many highlights  from this fortnight, there were two half-hour jams that were talked about, listened to, and revered more than any other pieces of music on this tour.  These two excursions came to represent all that was right in the Phish universe, signaling that Phish’s improvisational prowess was as healthy as ever; their desire to musically evolve was still ingrained in their ethos.  In a two-part- Friday / Monday- series we’ll check out these two jams-  Cincinnati’s “Bathtub Gin” and Nassau’s “Tweezer.”  Today- the “Gin.”

The Cincinnati weekend marked the halfway point of Phish’s short winter tour, and as the only other weekend stand besides Vegas, these shows drew fans from all over the country.  People needed to see for themselves a reinvigorated Phish, and the they would not be disappointed.

As the band came out for their final set of the weekend, everyone’s juices were flowing.  Dropping a fierce “Tube,” the band and crowd leapt into the fray together.  An infectiously-paced and funkified jam set the tone for the rest of the set; the best was yet to come.  As the band ended their escapade in groove, Trey morphed directly into the intro lick to “Bathtub Gin.”

13699475image9b58dede479711d7Wrapping up the composed section, the band got ready for take off and the crowd roared in anticipation of what was coming.  Trey wasted no time in getting started painting some initial melodies onto the musical canvas. But it wasn’t until a couple minutes in, when Mike dropped a heavy groove, that the improv really took off.  Fishman was right with him, and Phish moved directly into some outright dance rhythms.  This initial section of improv was characterized by robust rhythms and gorgeous melodic leads by Trey that fit congruently into the musical space.  Yet this uplifting section seamlessly transformed into something far more exploratory and adventurous.

Like Lewis and Clark exploring the west, the band were on a mission of their own, discovering their new direction for this chapter of their career.  Growing more aggressive and piano-heavy, the jam began moving away from its “Gin”-themed improv into some distinctly post-hiatus grooves.  Trey’s un-compressed edge provided an interesting juxtaposition against his bandmates’ slower offerings.  Then, as if a race horse cracked by the whip, Phish sped up the jam into double-time, creating a totally different, and more aggressive, musical feel.

13699471image9b586be0479711d71The band carried a rhythmic gallop into this section of improv, tearing into some enthusiastic full-on playing.  The driving textures of this jam shifted when Page began playing his clav, lending a pseudo-electronic feel to the music.  At this point, the band seemed to hit a place of contentment as they slowed down their pace, peeled away some layers, and dove into a less distorted, mellower musical pond.

Switching vibes all together, the band united in a more abstract place, bringing the improv even further into the unknown.  This is where the jam got extremely interesting.  With almost no beat, Trey began playing, and teasing, the “Gin” lick over a greatly divergent- almost electronic- backdrop.  With Page using extreme effects through his keyboards, Fish creating a shimmering, cymbal-heavy beat, and Mike playing a bizarrely melodic bass line, image004the band entered some other-worldy territory.  Meanwhile, Trey continued playing forms of the “Bathtub” melody over this demented Phish-tronica canvas.  Phish was molding incredibly unique music, with Page going off in directions unheard before.  Creating an “alternate” version of the song, their improv remained as connected to “Gin” as it was divergent- a wholly new musical experiment.  This was one of those times that Phish took a big risk, and overwhelmingly succeeded.

As Trey played some repetitive licks, signaling to wrap it up, the band and crowd emerged from being immersed in some deeply “other” Phish.  Finishing the jam collectively, and with authority, the band oozed back into a slowed down version of the song’s ending.  Flabbergasted, everyone exchanged looks of wide-eyed amazement as the band took a minute to collect themselves before decompressing with “Friday.”  While many shining moments developed over the week from LA to Chicago, this “Bathtub Gin” was the most divergent and defining musical portrait of the first half of tour.

(All photos from Cincy 2.22.03)



phish20baseball-400-x-585-111.6.96 Civic Coliseum, Knoxville, TN < LINK
With Phish about to return to Knoxville this summer, I thought we’d travel back in time to their last performance in Tennessee’s metropolis.  This show took place during the first week after Halloween’s “Remain In Light” performance- when the shows on tour really started to take off.  The second set is held down by a large “Mike’s Groove,” while the first is bookended by “Split” and “Bowie.”  Check out this under-circulated nugget from Fall ’96

I: Split Open and Melt, Cars Trucks Buses, Fast Enough for You, Taste, Train Song, Poor Heart, Punch You in the Eye, Billy Breathes, David Bowie

II: Wilson, The Curtain > Mike’s Song > Swept Away > Steep > Weekapaug Groove, Scent of a Mule, Sample in a Jar, Funky Bitch

E: Rocky Top

The Return of Phish 2.0

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , on February 16, 2009 by Mr.Miner

It was on this weekend six years ago that Phish re-established themselves in the post-hiatus era.  As much of the Phish community flocked to Las Vegas for two nights at the beginning of the band’s winter comeback tour, many fans held lingering questions in their mind.  The Hampton shows left a bland flavor in mouths of most fans, and aside from those who saw the “Walls > Carini” at the LA Forum on Valentine’s Day, many wondered when, and if, Phish would regain their explosiveness.  Any unclarity was wiped away over the course of two demonstrative shows in which Phish musically exclaimed their return.

image-808998a843c311d7There was nothing like another spectacular weekend in Vegas for Phish to regain the confidence of their fan base. (Ironically, it would be a weekend in the same room about a year later that signaled the band’s imminent demise.)  Returning to the Thomas and Mack Center, the site of so many special nights, the band played with a creative dynamic and that sense of urgency that was so blatantly lacking in their four-night reverse New Years Run.  Weaving together lively sets all weekend long, Phish highlighted songs past and present, culminating with the much-loved second set of the 2.16.03 show; no set of the weekend better exemplified the meshing of the old and the new.  The opening segment of “Disease > Seven Below > Disease” popped with intensity while the band’s playing remained incredibly intricate.  With remarkable improv and seamless segues, this was one of the first big highlights of 2003, a year that would resurrect Phish and bring us all back to those mystery-laden adventures of yesteryear.

powerYet, what also emerged from this Vegas weekend was a new direction in the band’s sound and playing.  Not as squarely focused on groove as in the late-90’s, the band still anchored their playing in dance rhythms- though with far more texture and effect- creating a “space-like” quality to the music.  This new direction would be typified by such legendary Winter ’03 jams as the Cincy Gin (2.22), the Chicago and Nassau Tweezers (2.20 & 2.28), and the Worcester Ghost (2.26).  This style of dissonant-space-groove became magnified as the tour and year moved on, taking Phish’s jams to new and different places than ever before.

image-ba5346c0449611d7The colossal “Piper” that came later in 2.16’s second set also foreshadowed a post-hiatus trend; that of huge “Piper” jams.  On this night, the song would fly off the handle for 22 minutes, something that became the norm throughout the year as it produced continuous highlights.  Including musical references to the set’s “Seven Below” and a full “Disease Reprise,” this “Piper” soared in a new direction for the song- a launch pad for adrenalized, full-on improvisational adventures.  Like this Vegas version, every time “Piper” appeared in ’03, jaw-dropping  jams materialized.  A full-speed canvas that the band collectively shredded to bits, “Piper” became one of the best developments of ’03, fully realizing a transformation that began as the band wound down in 2000.

While the most impressive playing came within the weekend’s final set, the others shone as well.  2.15’s “Waves > Bug,” highlighted the Round Room composition for the first time since the comeback show, and the “Ghost” that followed absolutely smoked. (Potentially in response to a banner that hung from the second level image-ba5300d6449611d71proclaiming it had been 871 days since the previous version.)  The first set boasted hot versions of “Reba” and “Antelope,” while 2.16’s first set opened with a ferocious “Bowie > Catapult > Bowie,” and brought some amorphous new-school improv with the second “Round Room” ever.

This Vegas weekend back in ’03 was cause for universal celebration in the Phish scene, as they were finally back.  Both inspirational and playful again, the Phishy vibe had returned in a city where it had thrived for years.  These nights were the first building block for Phish 2.0, in a year that saw their playing evolve, exploring a plethora of new ideas.  This was the first step (well, second and third) down a path that would culminate in Miami’s magnificent New Years’s Run.

All photos from Vegas ’03



Over at, they are running a Hampton opener contest!  If you guess correctly, and we all know we have the right answer, you have a chance to win summer tickets. The top prize is one ticket to The Fox if you are the only person to guess the answer correctly!  Give it a shot; why not?  Details are on the site.



hampton_outsideFor those of you who won’t nearly be done with your night when the encore ends, there are Phish after-parties scheduled in the surrounding Hampton area each night.  If you are arriving on the 5th, the night before the shows begin, The Disco Biscuits will be passing through Norfolk on their winter tour.  After Friday’s Phish show, Bassnectar and Orchard Lounge will take The Norva Theatre’s stage starting at midnight.  Following both Saturday and Sunday’s shows, Steve Kimock and Friends will be playing late-night gigs at The Norva as well.  In addition, after Sunday’s show, UK psychedelic dub maestro, OTT, will be headlining a down-tempo electronica party at The Omni in Newport News.  Click on artists below to buy tickets now!

3.5 The Disco Biscuits @ The Norva, Norfolk, VA (Pre-Phish)

3.6 Bassnectar, EOTO, Orchard Lounge @ The Norva

3.7 Steve Kimock and Friends w/ Melvin Seals @ The Norva

3.8 Steve Kimock and Friends w/ Melvin Seals @ The Norva

3.8 Ott, Bluetech, Telepath @ The Omni, Newport News VA



10.26.96 Charlotte Coliseum, Charlotte, NC < LINK

1996-10-26gnA show that has always been overshadowed by the Halloween hubbub in Atlanta just a few days later, this stop in Charlotte had plenty to offer. With a second set filled with feel-good Phish anthems, the band took the most improvisational liberty with “YEM,” “Simple” and “Antelope.”  This night had an upbeat feel from the beginning, and was a solid effort amidst a relatively generic east coast run to begin Fall ’96.

I: Julius, Cars Trucks Buses, Wolfman’s Brother, Reba, Train Song, Character Zero, It’s Ice, Theme From the Bottom, Sample in a Jar

II: Down With Disease, You Enjoy Myself, Sparkle, Simple, McGrupp and the Watchful Hosemasters, Waste, Run Like An Antelope

E: Fire

Summer 2003: A Return to Glory

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , on January 5, 2009 by Mr.Miner

Phish 3.0 is around the corner.  In two months to the day, many of us will be traveling to the beautiful hamlet of Hampton, VA to set up camp for the weekend.  2009 is here, and with it, butterflies of excitement and a sense of anticipation is filtering through the community.  As we prepare our psyches and souls for brand new technicolor journeys, let’s take a look at some high points of Phish 2.0

7.30.03 Camden, NJ

7.30.03 Camden, NJ - Alex Phelan

In a comeback that lasted only a year and a half, Phish managed to play a fairly heavy schedule, creating some real monster shows within the year of 2003.  The winter run got the band back in the saddle, and though ripping from the onset in Los Angeles, once the band hit mid-tour in Cincinnati, they were once again firing on all cylinders.  Capping the tour with their renowned run through the Northeast, blowing up both Worcester and Nassau to the fullest, Phish was now prepared to undertake a full summer tour.

Summer ’03 is when the band hit their post-hiatus peak.  While Miami was outstanding, and the Summer ’04 run was even better, if not all-too bittersweet, Summer ’03 is when the band truly felt IT again.  Everything was back in full swing this summer.  The Sammies and veggie burritos flowed freely once again, and we went on a nostalgic tour of Phish’s most beloved summertime amphitheatres.  However, while the feeling of being in front of the Phish may have brought recollections of previous years, the music was most definitely evolving to a new place.

7.26.03 Atlanta

7.26.03 Atlanta

Integrating more exploratory effects and layered textures into their music, “space funk” took on a whole new meaning.  No longer as raw and unadulterated as ’97 and ’98, the band’s playing grew more refined and their jams took on completely new directions.  Exploring rhythmic psychedelia through both minimal groove and layered soundscapes, 2003’s music soon possessed a unique sound. Growing a host of new material from Round Room and beyond, songs like “Seven Below,” “Scents and Subtle Sounds,” and “Walls of the Cave” began to work themselves into rotation, along side more classic numbers.  Yet, more than anything musical, that innocent purity of Phish had returned.  As big as the scene may have been, the vibe in the shows was that of old.  Phishiness had returned, bringing the dynamic of the unknown to the stage each and every set.  The excitement was back, and every day you awoke with the question “What will happen tonight?” Everybody felt it.

As Phish traversed the nation, once again climbing up to Limestone, they left behind a trail of phenomenal music.  Songs were jammed out differently, new songs took center stage, and Phish vitality was reborn.  Reinvigorated, at least for the moment, the band was fully dedicated to their craft this summer, something that would be gone in just one year.  By the time the weekend at “IT” had concluded, Summer ’03 had taken a place next to the most well-loved tours in Phish history.

Below is a recap of seven epic jams from the Summer of ’03.  Because I only possess official SBD releases for these shows, I cannot post these songs on site.  However, you can download each track from and put together the compilation yourself.  Unable to write about all the magnificent music that took place in the Summer ’03, I’ve included an additional list of Summer ’03 highlights.

“Seven Below” 7.13 The Gorge

The Gorge '03

The Gorge '03 - Brian Spiritsano

Hailed as one of the lasting high points of the summer’s improvisation, this late set jam on the second night of The Gorge signaled loud and clear that Phish was back and as good as ever.  This sublime improv began firmly rooted in the melodic template of the song before twisting into a more overtly psychedelic realm.  Trey’s post-hiatus uncompressed and dirty tone was on full display, typifying his more aggressive and edgy playing of ’03 and ’04.  Before too long, the band had left any semblance of the song’s structure in favor of more cosmic exploration.  Entering an eerie space, the band took the audience on a delicate stroll down a sinister and ambient musical roadway. When all was said and done, calls and texts flew around the nation about the most exciting and terrifying Phish jam since their return.

“Scents and Subtle Sounds” 7.30 E Center, Camden, NJ

7.30.03 Camden, NJ

7.30.03 Camden, NJ - Alex Phelan

One of the most significant musical developments of the entire summer tour was the debut and evolution of Trey and Tom’s post-hiatus masterpiece, “Scents and Subtle Sounds.”  A stunning composition musing on the power of “The Moment,” this song instantly turned into a crowd favorite with its intricate sections, lyrical brilliance, and soaring improvisation.  The first versions remained contained within an uplifting musical structure, not dissimilar to “Harry Hood,” but once Camden rolled around, the song had developed into a legitimate improvisational vehicle.  This 30-minute performance steeped in blissful and surreal jamming, still exists as the defining version ever played.  Reaching psychedelic planes that would remain untouched by the song until the band returned to Camden the following summer, this rendition stood out immediately as both inspiring and exploratory at the same time.  Truly a jam for the ages, words can only go so far in describing its regal nature.

“Split Open and Melt” 7.22 Deer Creek

7.22.03 Deer Creek

7.22.03 Deer Creek

Another defining moment of the summer happened during the middle show of Deer Creek’s three night stand in the form of “Split Open and Melt.”  Forging the jam’s fierce trail, the band hopped into some driving patterns, immediately building musical momentum.  The thickness of the music beefened, as Trey’s exploration turned towards the dissonant and distorted.  Similar to much of his post-hiatus playing, his guitar’s dark path into the center of muddled dementia really stands out as the needle pulling the musical thread through the fabric of this jam.  A fantastically evil voyage that turned much slower about half way through, the entire band turned their vicious improv into something far more settled and grooving.  Taking the audience on a bass-led section of slow rhythmic playing, Phish created a multi-faceted monster out of this jam.  Watch out for evil seething guitar venom as the music descends into the center of the earth.

“Harry Hood” 7.25 Charlotte, NC

7.25.03 Charlotte, NJ

7.25.03 Charlotte, NJ

With all the changes in post-hiatus Phish, none were more intriguing than the emergence of “Harry Hood” as an enhanced jam vehicle.  No longer confined to its uplifting chord progression, Phish used their classic song to explore new uncharted places.  Gradually growing in depth from its first performance at Chula Vista to its colossal version at Camden, “Harry Hood” developed into something far greater than ever before.  “The Charlotte Hood,” would come to symbolize this transformation.  On this night, Phish created a twisting tale that passed through many segments of improv, moving far beyond the song’s conventions.  As the jam built upwards, it also built outwards, winding up in an uptempo groove-fest that you might expect from a “Bathtub Gin.”  Moving into a boisterous and shredding section, it was very easy to forget what song the band was playing this time.  A strong wave of distortion preceded the final peak of the song– a truly revolutionary version of “Harry Hood.”

“Twist” 7.30 Camden, NJ

7.30.03 Camden, NJ

7.30.03 Camden, NJ - Alex Phelan

Typifying the raunchy and abstract quality of post-hiatus psychedelia, this monster “Twist” opened the second set of one of Summer ’03’s best shows.  Gently sliding into the jam via regular “Twist” textures, the band soon painted with a much more aggressive palate.  Entering some of the most masterful improv of the post-hiatus era, this jam illustrated the crushing jaws of the monster that was ’03 Phish.  The band navigated an extended period of jamming that is not for the light-hearted, letting it all hang out in Southern Jersey.  This jam is one ’03’s finest moments.  Read more about this night here!

“Mr. Completely” 7.15 West Valley, Utah

7.15.093West Valley, Utah

7.15.03 West Valley, Utah

Pulling off yet another Utah surprise, Phish busted out one of Trey’s most popular solo jam vehicles, as most fans skipped the show and made their way from The Gorge directly to Sandstone.  Anyone making that decision missed one of the danciest jams to come out of post-hiatus Phish.  Taking off on a thirty-minute joy ride, the band lit up the Southwestern sky with musical fireworks.  Featuring some absolutely nasty playing, Trey led the band and audience alike through this exercise in groove.  The only time Phish has ever touched this song, it turned to gold.  A certain summer highlight, this one boomed though everyone’s rides for the rest of tour.

“Crosseyed and Painless” 7.29 Burgettstown, PA

The Gorge '03

The Gorge '03 - Dan Gareau

Perhaps the jam of the summer, this set opening odyssey was pure Phish.  Transcending the musical path of the Talking Heads cover, Phish used the song’s rhythm as a springboard to some purely spiritual music.  Hitting a subconscious musical stride, the band was clearly tapped in on this night, channeling IT directly to our ears and minds.  Showcasing a plethora of textures and feels, this jam was one of those where everything was in the right place.  The band chugged along the tracks as one, leaving a vibrant wake of beautiful psychedelia.



Wolfman’s > Scents (debut) 7.7 Phoenix, Harry Hood 7.8 Chula Vista, Ghost 7.12. The Gorge, Tweezer 7.17. Bonner Springs, Antelope 7.17 Bonner Springs, Disease > Catapult 7.18 Alpine Valley, Twist 7.18 Alpine Valley, YEM 7.19 Alpine Valley, Gumbo 7.22 Deer Creek, Scents and Subtle Sounds 7.23 Deer Creek, Antelope 7.23 Deer Creek, Drowned 7.25 Charlotte, Bowie 7.25 Charlotte, Piper 7.26 Atlanta, Ghost 7.27 Raleigh, Harry Hood 7.31 Camden, IT (a lot)



SUMMER ’09 RUMOR MILL: With Rothbury just confirmed for 2009, don’t be surprised to see Phish make a two-night headlining appearance a la Bonnaroo.  I heard about this far before the festival was firmed up, and I think it is likely.  From what I’ve heard, Rothbury was a great time last year.



9.11.00 Great Woods, Mansfield, MA < LINK

Great Woods Amphitheatre

Great Woods Amphitheatre

In a year that gets dogged on all too much, there are a bunch of fabulous shows. This installment from the first night of Great Woods is one of them.  With a perfectly flowing second set that never stopped, Phish slaughtered the ending segment of “Piper > What’s the Use > YEM.”  A unique collection of songs comprise the interesting first set on a night that stood out as one of the strongest from the first leg of tour.

I: Roadrunner*, The Moma Dance, Rift, Brain and Robert, Vultures, Horn, Beauty of My Dreams, Ya Mar, Stash

II: Chalkdust Torture > Twist > Piper > What’s the Use? > You Enjoy Myself

E: Good Times Bad Times

*(Jonathan Richman and the) Modern Lovers cover from the album “The Modern Lovers”

The Tower

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , on December 4, 2008 by Mr.Miner

As Phish evolved through the ’90s, one of the most enchanting qualities surrounding their shows was the sheer spectacle of it all.  Between the size of the crowds, the loud mind-bending music, and the fantastical light show, it felt as though we opened the door to Oz every time the lights went down.  Creating a parallel reality at their shows, we felt as if were entering the Phish dimension walking through the portals of basketball arenas.  The band, more than anyone loved a spectacle.  One need not look farther than their New Years’ shows and festivals to prove that.  Whether it was riding a giant hot dog or torching a massive piece of communal art, the greatest show on earth sometimes included much more than music.  One such time was the somewhere between the 2nd and 3rd of August at IT in Limestone, when Phish put on perhaps the greatest spectacle of their career.

Russ Kahn

photo: Russ Kahn

It had been rumored all day that the annual “late night” set would take place atop the air traffic tower that still stood on the defunct Air Force base.  By the time the show happened, everyone all but knew this would go down after the show, and it seemed a hell of a lot cooler than jamming on a moving truck or the Great Went’s “disco” tent.  Nonetheless, the show happened and all was jolly in post-show partyland when we began to see a light from atop the tower and could hear sound in the distance.  Moving quickly to the tower, we were greeted with an empty field that soon filled, in a sort of “real-time-lapse” film.  Barely visible, Phish bellowed dissonant noise from the sky as smoke poured off the tower against the red concert lights.

tower2Although we knew all day this would happen, it was still utterly surreal- nobody knew it would look like this!  As the band progressed into some more developed madness, it became apparent that they would jam extensively from the darkness of the night, and from the dark side of the universe, as if composing the score of a psychedelic war movie.  And the music was dirty.  Wasting no time with composition, the band aimed an arrow at the heart of experimentation and hit a bulls eye.  Exploring dark, dissonant, and noise-like textures, the band created a sort of evil doppelganger to their more melodic and broadcasted sound check.  Something that seemed pulled from a dream sequence, Phish continued improvising on the most menacing abstract planes, creating music that transcended anything one could hope for from a song-based jam.  Delving deep into the cavern of experimental sound, the band raged an hour of music that was the highlight weekend.  Artistically reaching natural peaks and grooves, the band stood as silhouettes, as smoke, light and sound poured from atop the tower.  Now this was a spectacle!


photo: Vinnie Ray

Leave it to Phish to take it a step farther.  As if this wasn’t enough psychedelia, about two thirds of the way through the sinister sonic experiment, white sheets fell, covering all visible sides of the tower as three dancers from the Bay Area’s Project Bandaloop began performing acrobatics at the top.  They began to gradually descend in front of projected patterns as Phish slowed down, trying to match their music with a beat-less texture.  Amorphously improvising amidst their own late-night circus scenery, Phish had outdone themselves once again; leaving nothing behind them but a trail of smoke and light in the night sky.

As the weekend of IT concluded Summer ’03, Phish had returned.  Killing a festival at the end of their “return-to-glory” tour, things sat well as we left Limestone.  Little did we know in a year, it would be done.  Yet, as we dispersed from tour, with so many new magical memories in our head, none were more indelible than The Tower Set.  As night turned to day, and day back to night, that feeling of standing in a pit of musical mayhem, with colorful smoke and music bellowing from the heavens, did not soon fade.  The exclamation point on a summer of renewed exploration, The Tower stood as a reminder of what was and what could be.

THE TOWER JAM (Great Footage!)



12.5.95 Mullins Center, UMASS, Amherst, MA < LINK

The second of two shows at UMASS, this show stood out among the first week of December ’95.  The first set contains a great “Free,” and “David Bowie,” while the second set is strewn with classic ’95 improv.  A 20+ minute excursion into “Bathtub Gin” ends in “Keyboard Cavalry,” while a 15 minute Scent lands in “Lifeboy.”  To top the show off, Phish played a magnificent “Harry Hood” that stands out among the best of 1995.  Trey’s guitar run through the Leslie speaker (usually used for organ) creates the most haunting tone.  Enjoy this classic!

I: Horn, Chalk Dust Torture, Fog That Surrounds, Lizards*, Free, Esther, David Bowie, I’m Blue I’m Lonesome

II: Poor Heart, Bathtub Gin > Keyboard Army, Scent of a Mule > Lifeboy, Harry Hood, Cavern

E: Theme From the Bottom, Sweet Adeline

*Dedicated to Dick Vitale.

Camden 7.30.03– A “Post-Hiatus” Masterpiece

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , on July 29, 2008 by Mr.Miner

Post-Hiatus; 2003-2004 Phish means so many things to so many different people.  Some savor it; some don’t even really listen to it.  Some trash it for petty reasons.  Some were unable to drop their personal or Phish baggage and allow moments to exist and unfold in front of them.  Yet, anyone who turns a cold shoulder to this segment of Phish history may be blindsided by certain shows and jams that would beg to differ.  The SPAC stand in ’04 might object to such an argument.  The Nassau ’03 show might want to throw its two cents into the conversation, while the near 50 minutes of Hood>Bowie from Charlotte might want to speak up.  The IT certainly would rise to make a case.

To name a few more argument makers; the entire June ’04 run from Brooklyn to Alpine, Walls>Carini from the LA Forum sending its Valentine’s love, Deer Creek’s Split>Free, or the Chicago show followed by the Cincy two-night run in the winter of ’03 might raise their hands to be called upon.  I could go on and on.  It’s funny, because there is often so much trash talked about these two years while they are strewn with high quality shows and great jams.  People would make the following point– Trey flubbed too many composed licks of Stash, or messed up the fugue in Reba; he wasn’t as accurate on the technical aspects of written pieces.  First off, who goes to shows with the primary goal of hearing the composed sections of songs played immaculately?  There are albums and 1993 tapes for that.  The essence of Phish- and what has always been the essence of Phish- is their improvisation.  And to be honest, the “post-hiatus” period was heavy in improvisation and exploratory jamming, typified by the dark-horse show in Camden on 7.30.03- five years ago today.

When Phish played two-night stands, the first night was usually reserved for darker, more experimental jamming, while night two was more often than not, a “greatest-hits” type of show, reserved for more of the crowd favorites and classic jam vehicles.  This first night in Camden of ’03 follows this pattern and remains one of the strongest shows from ’03-’04.  In looking at this show, we can uncover the facts that Phish, while their sound was ever evolving, and Trey’s tone dirtier and more distorted, were still producing heavy improvisational journeys for all who opened their hearts and minds to them.

On the heels of one of the more popular ’03 shows on 7/29- (the Starlake Crosseyed>Thunderhead & bustout fest), Phish did not let up on the 30th of July as they prepared for IT.  Overshadowed by the next night’s more bombastic songs of Piper, Mikes>H2>Weekapaug, Free, and Hood, many don’t recognize the depth and darkness of what happened the night before.  In fact, when I mention this show to people, many are not even aware of it.  Let’s quickly run through the first set.

In menacing fashion, foreshadowing the rest of the evening, My Friend, My Friend opened the show, honing in on the darker side of things right away. Following Star Lake’s trend of pulling dusty songs of the shelf, Velvet Underground’s “Lonesome Cowboy Bill” batted second, put in the setlist for the first time since Halloween ’98.  What followed was an absolute highlight of the show, and the entire summer tour- a sublime 30 minute performance of Scents and Subtle Sounds, the post-hiatus Anastasio/Marshall masterpiece about living life in the Moment.  Steeped in blissful and surreal improvisation, this best-ever version reached abstract and psychedelic realms that would be virtually untouched by the song until the band returned to Camden the following summer.  Truly a jam for the ages, words can only go so far in describing its regal nature.  (See below for the track).  A first ever performance of the Dylan classic, “You Ain’t Goin’ Nowhere” followed this deep exploration, providing a respite before they launched into the rare and sought after Spock’s Brain, showing its face for the first time since 10/6/00.  A more conventional end of the set included Chalkdust, On Your Way Down, Fast Enough, and Taste- a combination of commonly played and not-so-commonly played songs.  The stage was set for what would be a serious second set.

After the break, the opening notes of Twist filled the pavilion.  Greatly divergent in form and focus, Twists always appeared in differing forms- from the more Santana-sounding Latin grooves that typified many, to the space-funk that defined the Island Run and SPAC, to the straight alien ambience that made the Meadowlands ’03 version and the Alpine version from earlier in the summer (7.18.03) so heavy.  Well, this one would also be different.  The jam eased in through previously scouted Twist territory, but soon Trey began to lead the jam outwards as the rest of the band built a collective and cohesive groove underneath him.  As Fishman switched beats, the feel of the jam changed and the whole band began to dig deeper, as Trey’s tone became a little dirtier and more distorted.  As the band locked into a singular rhythmic pattern, the improvisation moved into darker depths.  Speeding up, Phish turned into a chugging freight train with some serious non-conventional Twist jamming highlighted by a sick drum beat which Trey soon picked up on and began to speak over.  This jam moved into very abstract and dissonant places which transformed into frenetic madness with Trey offering some of his deepest phrasings of the night, before it chilled out into walls of sound with lighter Trey and Page melodies on top.  With a magnifying glass on evil darkness, the Twist trickled to an end as a stand alone piece without resolution within the jam itself- but as Phish can often do, they used the next song, Bug, as the release to the Twist.

The Twist>Bug is really one entity- one experience- juxtaposing crystalline guitar melodies, providing the emotional and triumphant conclusion, to the 25 minutes of darkness that preceded.  Trey and Page built the Bug to a truly massive crescendo before its conclusion.  The band took longer than normal after such an adventurous excursion before deciding to turn the Tweeter Center into a dance party with the opening melodies of You Enjoy Myself.

The YEM, itself, is multifaceted beginning with minimalist staccato rhythm licks from Trey over the notoriously bulbous groove, letting Mike and Page take the lead.  Trey seamlessly morphed his licks into melodies, providing lead lines and rhythm patterns simultaneously, before ripping into a more typical YEM shred session that brought the crowd to energetic heights.  The four-song set closed with the highly allegorical Walls of the Cave, made even more poignant in the long-cast shadows of New York City.  Ending the dark and exploratory set with some high octane energy to lead the crowd off into the night, Phish had just provided a set (+ Scents) of incredibly deep improvisation which, honestly, typified a lot of summer 03 shows.  Secret Smile provided the perfectly sensual ending to an evening that would live on in infamy.

Regardless of the year, 1993 or 2003, Phish are magicians.  A couple of years off didn’t change that, and fours years off now will not change that either. Should we expect things to sound different when they come back for post-hiatus part deux?  For sure.  Will it still be magic that speaks to and explores our souls?  For sure.

Pictures above are from 7.30.03 Set II. (Thanks to