Archive for International

Twelve Years Ago: 2.17.97

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

phish-amsterdam-97Twelve years ago today, and four shows into 1997, the Phish created a monster.  In their second visit to Amsterdam, and their first to Paradiso, Phish played a second set that was not only musically superb, but pointed in the direction the band would head during the famed year.  It wasn’t until the Hamburg show in Germany on March 1st that the band say they “clicked” during the “Wolfman’s” jam, finally realizing the style of collaborative play they had sought.  Yet, this epic night in Amsterdam was like a neon street sign pointing in the direction of Hamburg.

Opening the second set with “The Squirming Coil,” the band built the piano outro directly into the amorphous intro of “Down With Disease.”  Throughout 1996, “Disease” had become a central jam vehicle, creating upbeat rock textures and extended feel-good excursions.  Sparked by the Clifford Ball’s third set version and strewn throughout Fall ’96, “Disease” had developed into a melodic Type I Phish anthem.  This version from Amsterdam would be vastly different.

2.17.97 Paradiso

2.17.97 Paradiso

The band sat in “Disease” territory for the first part of the jam, but as the improv progressed, some layers were pared away and the pace began to gradually slow.  When Fishman dropped his driving beat, things began to get quite interesting.  The entire band found themselves in a more spacious musical medium, allowing them to greatly alter their phrasings.  This segment first developed into a mid-tempo rendition that still held some ties to “Disease,” but that all ended at once.

As the band moved into one of the first extremely slowed down “Disease” jams, a trend that would dominate ’97, this music sounded different!   I vividly remember getting this tape and when listening to it for the first time, being staggered by the pace and patience of Phish’s playing.  This was the same band that wound up 1996 in Boston’s Fleet Center only two months earlier, but they sure sounded completely different.  This was the first early ’97  jam I heard that opened my ears to where the band was heading.  Mike was far more prominent in their slowed down grooves, while Trey played far more sparsely, accentuating the band’s rhythms.  The music seemed like molasses compared to the arena rock of late ’96, and it sounded amazing!

Paradiso 7.2.97 (M. Loertscher)

Paradiso 7.2.97 (M. Loertscher)

Careening down I-95 with a couple of friends, we sat in silent amazement as this analog uncovered the raw ’97 style for the first time.  The band brought the music to a creeping pace where every note offered by each member could be heard distinctly and meant something.  There was no high-speed layering, but a focus on completing the musical ideas that were started by each other.  As the jam hit a few rhythmic stops and starts along the way, listening to this tape was like rediscovering Phish.  Their improv just kept getting deeper and deeper, leaving any remnants of “Disease” far in their wake.

Right out of this dark and methodical jam, Phish seamlessly moved into the debut of “Lucy Had a Lumpy Head,” a song that seemed to fit congruently with their new style.  Far slower than most versions played in the future, the song was a revelation- a dark, eerie composition that catered to the new sound Phish was moving towards.  This wasn’t your happy-go-lucky-Phish; this was something wholly different.  After the band moved through the verses of their newest song, they briefly sat in the thickness before Trey initiated a soaring guitar lick that brought the jam in a totally different and triumphant direction.

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Paradiso, Amsterdam

Leaving the song behind and embracing sublime adventure, Phish built this segment into a cathartic piece of music, complete with spontaneous melodic chants.   Before long, the band was back to a quicker place and carried a strong melodic theme that directed the jam.  Page commandeered the lead with his aggressive piano patterns, while the rest of the band created a dissonant backdrop for his work.  This was Phish in the process of discovering; taking risks with abandon and just creating.

Flowing through more overt psychedelic textures, the band naturally arrived at a chugging rhythm which transformed into yet another section of improv; one far closer to the groove-based sound the band was gradually uncovering.  Spanning several peaks and valleys of musical creativity, this surreal jam out of “Lucy” is must hear Phish- and was so revolutionary in its context.

17Accessing a far more mellow and transcendent realm in its final stage, this jam contained it all- a beautiful illustration of Phish at their best and on the brink of something huge.  Without any awkwardness whatsoever, the band transformed their gorgeous ambient creation into the beginning of “Taste.”

This “Taste” was phenomenal, carrying all the energy and momentum Phish had built over the course of the night; however, instead of focusing on the jam itself, I want to highlight one of the most masterful transitions in the band’s history.  As Phish built the song’s polyrhythmic patterns, it was clear that their musical brains were adhered tightly together.  Moving effortlessly through the soaring jam, the band prepared to approach the final ascent to the peak of the jam- and they were absolutely crushing it.  Building…building…building…the peak was imminent, as Trey hit  the melody signaling to his mates to enter the final stages.  Yet, instead of playing the shrill peak to “Taste,” Trey perfectly- and i mean perfectly- laid down the “Disease” lick at the peak of the jam, bringing them back to where this madness had begun.  The rest of the band moved triumphantly with him, reentering “Disease” immediately.  This was one of those spine-tingling Phish moments that my friends and I listened to at least 1000 times, often cheering in response, as if the band had just hit a home run.

1997-02-17gnPhish pulled off such a full-speed and wildly creative idea with absolute flawlessness it was almost too much to believe.  The perfect apex to an incredibly new-sounding set, Phish was off and running down the yellow brick road of 1997.  The final three songs-  “Suzy, “Caspian,” and “Sleeping Monkey”- were mere afterthoughts to the revolutionary playing that had preceded them.  This was only the beginning, but what a beginning it was!

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DOWNLOAD OF THE DAY:

2.17.97 Paradiso, Amsterdam, NL < LINK

I: Soul Shakedown Party*, The Divided Sky, Wilson, My Soul, Guyute, Timber Ho!, Billy Breathes, Llama, Bathtub Gin > Golgi Apparatus

II: The Squirming Coil > Down With Disease > Lucy Had a Lumpy Head* > Taste > Down With Disease, Suzy Greenberg, Prince Caspian

E: Sleeping Monkey, Rocky Top

*First time played

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“NO SPOILERS” HAMPTON DOWNLOADS – UPDATE

phishhamptoncrowd

The Mothership

We are making quick progress in our quest to bring “No Spoilers” versions of the Hampton shows to anyone and everyone who can’t make it.  We have created a FAQ and all information related to this project will be hosted at http://phishthoughts.com/nospoilers.  If you have any further questions, comments or suggestions, please email them to nospoilers@phishthoughts.com.

If you are patient enough to stay off the grid, this will be the next best thing to being at Hampton.  You will experience the show in tape delay, but also in mystery, without knowing what Phish decided to bust out.  You can have a legitimate Phish party if you have enough like-minded friends!

Remember, bookmark http://phishthoughts.com/nospoilers !!  (This URL is subject to change; stay tuned!)

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NO MORE LANGUEDOC

Paul @ Hampton '04

Paul @ Hampton '04

The rumor that has bounced around the Internet has been confirmed, Paul Languedoc will no longer be mixing sound for Phish.  Here is some recent correspondence between a Phish Thoughts reader (name removed) and Paul:

Hey Paul,

you’re probably getting a lot of this but the band wont be the same with out you. I hope your back to keep those boards consistent and the band pumping. They need you and most of all we need you! A band is like an instrument with out a main component it will never be the best! You know this better then anyone!


Thanks so much for the compliments, but I’m sorry to say I won’t be with the band on the upcoming dates. I had to move on a few years ago and I like very much what I’m doing now. It’s true that I’m getting a lot of this, nice to be appreciated.

Take care,

Paul L


Best of luck, Paul.  We will miss you.

Just keep making those guitars for Trey!

The Jewel of Japan

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , on February 10, 2009 by Mr.Miner
dscn0996

Drum Logos, Fukuoka

Upon stepping out of the dark and musty club into the clear Japan night, I knew that we had just seen the best show Phish would play all summer.  It wasn’t that they had been playing poorly, in fact, quite the contrary, Phish had been tearing up Japan.  This show was just that good.  We were all a bit awestruck by what had just happened inside Drum Logos, and everyone’s faces conveyed this.  I turned to my buddy, and made the bold, yet confident, statement, “That was the best show we’ll see all summer.” And the US tour hadn’t even started.  But it turned out I was right- at least in my humble opinion.

One of the smaller clubs of the tour, Fukuoka’s Drum Logos sat unassumingly along a city sidewalk across from a park.  It would have gone unnoticed but for the smattering of fans congregated outside.  The mid-point of Japan’s two-week tour, this night in Fukuoka would live immortally not only in the memories of everyone present on Japan’s southern island, but also in the form of Live Phish Volume 4.  From note one of the first set, it was clearly on, but the ridiculously powerful exploration took place in the second.

preshow_from_balcony

Drum Logos In the Distance (J.Greene)

Following a set opening bluegrass-funk session in “Get Back on the Train,” Phish got down to business in earnest as the opening of “Twist” echoed delicately through the intimate room.  The band moved through the initial section of the song and dropped into the jam with utmost subtlety.  Allowing the improv to move organically instead of pushing it in any direction, the band took their time as they quietly bounced ideas around the stage.  This mellow portion lent ample space for each member to develop and offer their own musical phrases without overriding anyone else.  Stepping into some blissful drone patterns, the band created a musical milieu that most definitely didn’t pop off the stage at every show.  This music was deliberately patient, developing incredibly slowly and  coherently, sounding like a Phishy “Dark Star”-style jam.  The jam held a very enchanting quality that drew you in- stub-0614Page played beautiful piano chords, Mike played a select few notes at a time to carry the sparse rhythm, Trey focused on texture and sound, while Fish framed it all with a minimal cymbal-heavy beat.  Sounding like the soundtrack to a dream, the band progressed through some of the most sublime improv in recent memory.  This was IT; this is why we were in Japan.  This was not the type of music Phish played every night, but rather a mystical aberration in a tiny Japanese club, with the higher powers harnessed fluently.  Eyes closed, I glided away in a dream state, floating in space with the meticulously played music as my invisible magic carpet.

Japanese Heads (John Greene)

Japanese Heads at Drum Logos (P. McGuire)

The improv wound itself to an even more mellow and beat-less space where Trey began playing refined high-octave melodies atop the band’s sonic backdrop.  This was the first time that Trey played outright melodic leads, and it was in a segment of music that sounded like a cosmic lullaby; sheer beauty supported by a web of psychedelia.  Allowing this minimalist segment to take its natural course, the band settled into a near-silent state before Trey brought the “Twist” melody back from the depths.  A truly epic jam that focused on sound rather than melody- textures rather than beats- had just unfolded, and it took a minute to readjust our perceptions.  But as this marked the end of one divine excursion, it was merely the start of another.

4lpAllowing the feedback from the end of “Twist” to linger in the air, the band seized the moment and began sculpting that quiet feedback into an abstract soundscape.  Before long, all band members added layers to the sonic puzzle which continued to deepen.  The patterns played seemed almost mechanical as Fishman subtly created a quiet, yet driving, beat.  Underneath layers of effects, Mike began playing what sounded like a super-slowed down version of the “Ghost” intro bass line.  But this didn’t seem to be heading for “Ghost”- the band was fully immersed in something completely other.  An ominous feeling ballooned from the stage as the improv turned into creeping psychedelic grooves with Mike still leading the quasi-melodic path.  A melange of thick tonal color emanated from both Page and Trey’s keyboards, furthering the eerie theme.  Mike’s playing grew even more prominent, quickly directing the band into a much heavier jam, and the band once again found themselves floating amidst IT.  Trey finally began to use his guitar more conventionally, adding some rhythm licks to this sinister music.  Phish had transformed the small venue into some sort of futuristic dance hall with one of those jams that you knew would hold up forever, even though you were still living it.

Any thoughts of “Ghost” were left in the wake of the band’s virtuoso jamming and infectiously slowed-down patterns.  This was Phish at their sound-sculpting best, creating a unique and methodical musical monster.

phish-kabuki-99Finally, Page and Trey removed some layers of sound and the band broke into an outright groove that reached out and grabbed you.  Turning their focus to rhythm and melody rather than overt psychedelia, the band emerged in a drawn out and addictive groove that we soaked in before the band gradually began building into….”Walk Away!?”  Out of the depths of this colossal jam, Phish seamlessly segued into their old-school cover that had only seen the light of day four times since 1994.

The James Gang song gave the audience some composed moments to digest the magnitude of the music that had just happened, because when it ended, Phish was right back at it.  Allowing the ending of “Walk Away” to linger, much like they did with “Twist,” the band took the sonic wash and began to, once again, mold it like Play-Doh.  The subsequent six minutes saw Trey play chorded melodies over a quiet canvas with Fishman keeping a muted beat behind him. This jam progressed to near silence before Page began blocking out some sparse piano chords.  Meanwhile, Fish and Mike were busy crafting what certainly sounded like the very beginnings of a “2001” intro.  As Trey added some quintessential space-age effects, it seemed that the club had been cleared for blast off.

phish-japan-00-cardOut of this gorgeous soundscape, Fish nailed his snare and the place exploded with the onset of full-on space funk.  For the last fifteen minutes of the set, Phish settled into the groove they had hinted at all night, and slaughtered a smooth club version of “2001.”  This was a celebratory dance session, as the entire audience felt the same flow, having been brought through a deep and eerie set to this vibrant peak.  This “2001” served as an indelible exclamation point for this top-notch set.  It was, in fact, the first time in the band’s career that they ended any set with the dance anthem.  Fitting perfectly at the conclusion of this excessively exploratory set, the Japanese crowd reveled in the slick grooves that slid through the air.  As “2001” peaked, everyone expected to hear something come out of it; whether it was a “Sample,” or “Golgi” or “Frankenstein” or something!  But no; nothing at all- it was so powerful!  Phish masterfully worked the feedback down to silence to the amazement of the crowd.   As Trey walked off stage, he gave his signature bow and “Domo Arigato!” to the crowd, when in fact the crowd could have done the very same for the band.

(Note: The standout first set has not even been mentioned!  The opening series of “Carini,” “Curtain > Cities,” “Gumbo > Llama” absolutely crushed, with the clear highlight being the “Crosseyed”-laced “Gumbo” grooves.  The set ending “Split” was also a jam to be reckoned with).

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DOWNLOAD OF THE DAY:

6.16.94 State Theatre, Minneapolis, MN SBD < LINK

State Thatre, Minneapolis, MN

State Theatre, Minneapolis, MN

A SBD copy of an exciting Summer ’94 show, this one comes in as a special reader request. The second set reads like a classic ’94 adventure, with a fierce “Antelope,” a rare “Forbin’s > Kung > Mockingbird” and an interesting “Disease > Contact.”  The first set saw “Gumbo” appear for the first time in 103 shows.  Enjoy!

I: Bouncing Around the Room, Rift, Julius, Fee > Maze, Gumbo, The Curtain > Dog Faced Boy, Stash, The Squirming Coil

II: Suzy Greenberg, Run Like an Antelope, Colonel Forbin’s Ascent > Kung > Famous Mockingbird, Big Ball Jam, Down With Disease > Contact, Big Black Furry Creature From Mars > Purple Rain > HYHU, Golgi Apparatus

E: Ginseng Sullivan*, Amazing Grace*, Good Times Bad Times

* acoustic, not on recording.

Weekend Nuggets: Phish in Japan

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , on January 3, 2009 by Mr.Miner

DOWNLOADS OF THE WEEKEND:

dscn08886.9.00 On Air East, Tokyo < LINK

This potent show kicked off Japan 2000.  In a small, dark club Phish greeted their Japanese audience with a funky opening set featuring the combo of “Funky Bitch” and “Moma Dance.”  A perspective-changing “Tweezer” highlighted the second set, with a laid back, club-style “YEM” encore punctuating the night.

I. Axilla, Taste, Billy Breathes, Poor Heart, Golgi Apparatus, Funky Bitch, The Moma Dance, First Tube, Chalkdust Torture

II: Tweezer, Bouncing Around the Room, The Mango Song, The Squirming Coil, Gotta Jibboo, The Meatstick* > Tweezer Reprise

E: You Enjoy Myself

* w/ Japanese Lyrics

phish_at_nagoya

6.13.00 Club Quattro, Nagoya

6.13.00 matrix Club Quattro, Nagoya < LINK

In by far the smallest club of 2000’s Japan tour, everyone had to take an elevator up inside a mall to access this tucked away music venue!  Fitting no more than 500 tightly squeezed fans, Phish tore apart one of their best shows of the run.  With two sets of equal stature, the tiny club was filled to the brim with standout Phish jams by the end of the night.  With the space between band and audience all but obliterated, this was as intimate of a Phish show as I’ve seen.  Highlights include the first set “Mike’s Groove,” and second set segment of “Wolfman’s, Antelope > Contact, Sand.”

I: Meat, Maze*, Ya Mar, Fast Enough For You, The Old Home Place, Wilson, Mike’s Song > Simple > Weekapaug Groove

II: Gotta Jibboo, Wolfman’s Brother, Run Like an Antelope > Contact, Sand, Roggae, Prince Caspian, Rocky Top, Cavern

E: Brian and Robert, Good Times Bad Times

*Followed by a reprise of “Meat”

***

VIDEOS OF THE WEEKEND:

Phish: Japan Tour 2000 (A Ryan C Winkleman short) 11 mins.

“First Tube” 6.11.00 Hibiya Park, Tokyo


Club Phish

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , on September 25, 2008 by Mr.Miner
Blane

7.13.00 Nagoya - photo: Blane

By the time the late ’90s rolled around, Phish had become a massive entity and musical force of nature, whose live shows contained a large scale production.  No, there were no pyrotechnics, (except on 7.4.00), but the crisp sound and elaborate, other-worldly, lighting rig gave the shows a fantastical feel- something outside the realm of conventional reality.  Half the fun was being overwhelmed by the size of the music and the show, as Mike’s bass filled your chest, and Fishman provided your heartbeat.  The monstrosity of what happened on stage was mind-altering.  After seeing the band so many times in arena and amphitheatre settings, when Phish played small clubs, the experience took on a whole new feel.

No longer was Phish a mechanical monster opening its razor sharp jaws to the pavilion, but a ripping band on stage playing music.  It all seemed more intimate and real- the monstrosity was gone.  Instead of silhouettes in smoke and magical lights, you actually saw the faces of the band members and watched them communicate.  That massive production was scaled down into the size of your average concert, and for Phish, that changed the course of the evening.  Everyone in the room felt more connected in the same experience, unable to escape to the lawn or the corridors if the desire struck.  The focus on the visual candy that was Kuroda’s light show was absent, changing the majestic appearance, but often intensifying the music that showered the crowded floor from a much closer proximity.

6.9.00 On Air East - Tokyo

6.9.00 On Air East - Tokyo

Not only was there an alternate aesthetic to the experience, the music actually sounded different.  With far less space for the music to travel, the band often played more notes in their phrases.  Conversely, when playing on huge open-air festival systems, the music often slowed down to a crawl to allow the music to bellow forth and cover the extensive fields.  This phenomenon was often most translated through Mike’s playing.  Instead of playing his spacious wide open bombs that resonated through your imagination, he tended to play more complex melodic lines, keeping your ears alert as his glue held the bands diverse musical patterns together.  Although some counterexamples to this trend can be found in the initiation of the Summer ’97 funk in Europe, over the course of their career, this held true. (See Ghost video below for a great example of the “club style” that I am describing!) Moving the improvisation along a different course, some jams played in clubs you would never have heard at MSG or Hampton- they wouldn’t have translated.

Along with all of these experiential differences, there was also a distinct difference in the vibe of the crowd.  Usually taking place in an international country, or a special club like The Fillmore or Roseland, for which people gave an arm and a leg for a ticket, there existed an enhanced sense of mutual respect.  With only a few hundred to a few thousand people present for the music, tickets to these shows didn’t fall into the hands of the folks who stood around, distracted others, and talked during shows.  A more focused musical audience, especially in Japan, was one of the supreme perks of club and international Phish.  People weren’t there for the lot, or to sell drugs- people were there for Phish and Phish only- the vibe was pure.  Friendliness was contagious at these shows, as every person felt the same privilege to be in attendance; egos tended to fall by the wayside- “We’re all in this together, and we love to take a bath,” took on a whole new intimate meaning.

Instead of dispersing all over the land of the brave and free, after these international club shows, most fans would reunite at bars and nightclubs to carry on the festivities together; a sort of traveling party.  Often, band members would slip in, further shattering the barriers between the fans and band.  Americans mingling with Japanese and European heads using the international language of Phish as common ground; ’twas a beautiful thing.  Without the concern of police harassment due to overwhelming numbers of hippies, you could navigate the cities in your post-show euphoria without a care.  The world was your oyster- checking out places you’ve never been by day, and capping each evening with a hearty dose of Phish.  Is that not the perfect vacation?

In the grand spectrum of Phish experiences, the small club show was an irreplaceable gem that not all fans got to take part in.  Therefore, for those of you who haven’t seen a club Phish show or even heard much club-sized Phish, I have put together Miner’s Picks: Club Phish.  With seven hours of small-sized Phish highlights from 1997-2000, this sampling should give you a taste of what Phish does when contained in a smaller tank.  Enjoy!!

DOWNLOAD MINER’S PICKS: CLUB PHISH PT. 1 <<DOWNLOAD NOW!!

DOWNLOAD MINER’S PICKS: CLUB PHISH PT. 2 <<DOWNLOAD NOW!!

1. The Moma Dance 7.1.98 Den Gra Hal, Christiana, Copenhagen

2,3. Jam > Cities 6.20.97 Archa Theatre, Prague, CZ

4,5,6. Chalkdust > Ghost > Oblivious Fool 6.13.97 SFX Center, Dublin, IR

7. Tweezer 7.9.98 Zeleste, Barcelona, SP

8. Bathtub Gin 7.8.98 Zeleste, Barcelona, SP

9,10,11,12. Disease > Carini > Tatse > Disease 2.17.97 Paradiso, Amsterdam

13. YEM 6.9.00 On Air East, Tokyo, Japan

14,15,16. Antelope > Contact, Sand 6.13.00 Club Quattro, Nagoya, Japan

17,18,19. Stash > Ghost > Saw It Again 6.19.97 Arena, Vienna Austria

20. Free 7.6.97 Spiaggia di Rivoltella, Desenzano, Italy

21. Down With Disease 6.15.00 Big Cat, Osaka, Japan

22. Ghost 7.3.97 Serenadenhof, Nuremburg, GR

23. Wolfman’s Brother 6.24.97 La Laiterie, Strousbourg, FR

24. Ghost 7.2.98 Christiana, Copenhagen

25. Runaway Jim 6.16.00 Zepp, Osaka, Japan

26,27. Tweezer > 2001 7.1.98 Christiana, Copenhagen

28. YEM 7.2.98 Christiana, Copenhagen

Ghost jam 7.6.98 Lucerna, Prague, CZ

Free: 2.16.97 Warstesaal, Koln, Germany

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DOWNLOAD OF THE DAY: 11.11.98 Van Andel Arena, Grand Rapids, MI

Another show that flew somewhat under the radar in an amazing Fall tour of 1998, this show has a little bit of everything.  A ripping opener of Punch followed by a slow as molasses, Gumbo started the show with a bang.  But it’s all about the second set of this one.  Opening with a 25-minute ripping Halley’s Comet that explores some maniacal territory while also containing plenty of grooves, this set is one of the best of Fall ’98.  This Halley’s immediately stood out as a huge tour highlight, as the end gave way to some lighter fare in Simple > Walk Away.  With an impeccable Limb by Limb and a disgustingly groovy, lesser known, Ghost to end the set, Phish hit a winner on this evening.  Check it out.

I: Punch You in the Eye, Gumbo, If You Need a Fool, Sleep, Tela, Birds of a Feather, Theme from the Bottom, Julius

II: Halley’s Comet, Simple > Walk Away, Limb by Limb, When the Circus Comes, Ghost

E: Contact, Rocky Top, Funky Bitch

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In other Phish Thoughts news, notice the “Miner’s Pick’s” clickable download links all along the right column of the front page.  You no longer have to scroll or click through the site to find the entire Miner’s Picks Series. Cheers.

Den Gra Hal – “Download of the Day”

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , on August 27, 2008 by Mr.Miner

What happens when you contain the forces of Phish with an intimate stone barn in Scandinavia?  Throw in the fact that the barn is located in the center Freetown Christiania, Copenhagen- an old semi-autonomous hippie community from the early ’70s.  Marijuana, hash, and mushrooms are peddled openly at stands in the town’s center square, a few hundred yards from the door to the venue- which could only fit a couple thousand people at most.  The whole town wasn’t more than a few city blocks in area, and the only posted rule in the village was “no hard drugs.”  These volatile ingredients were the recipe for outstanding Phish jams and a lot of excitement.  This was Den Gra Hal- a former horse stable turned music venue- which Phish blew apart as the beginning of their Summer tour in 1998.

The few hundred Americans who stumbled upon Christiania  the night before the first show show were greeted by a multi-color graffiti laden building, The Grey Hall, in which Phish would be playing the next three nights.  It certainly had a unique vibe.  As fans congregated outside that evening before the run, Phish played an extended two hour sound check with the back doors intentionally left open for sound, allowing everyone an auditory glimpse into the band’s new tunes.  Trey popped in and out to chat with fans and when asked about the interior of Den Gra Hal, observed that he “could really see that room on a lot of acid,” and encouraged all to indulge on the following evening for the show.  No joke; a resounding endorsement by Trey, himself.  The surroundings were heavenly- the summertime “darkness” was more akin to four hours of deep purple skies each night in which to bask after the show.  A few outdoor bars and a small lake atop a hill rounded out this ideal locale for a three day Phish stand.

Phish made good on Trey’s recommendation, playing a well-over three hour show on the first night to kick off the party featuring such highlights as the first Moma Dance, a huge Mike’s, a Stash>Cities, a reworked Ghost, a Tube, and a Wolfman’s> Frankie Sez> Antelope.  There was no messing around on the first night of tour, but I have come to discuss the second night.

Sometimes you leave a show knowing that Phish just threw down the gauntlet.  You know that throughout the rest of the tour, they may throw down some nasty stuff, but it wouldn’t be any nastier than that.  This feeling happens from time to time, and the first of July in 1998 was certainly one of those times.  Exiting the musty and dank stone room onto the lawn with heavy Phish grooves echoing through your skull, gazing up at the royal sky- you are amidst one of those life-affirming moments we quest after with such determination.  Fulfillment.  You just had the time of your life, were walking up the cobblestone path to grab some smokeables in the square, and turning left to grab some icy Tuborgs with your friends after witnessing Phish as good as they get.  Smoking and joking, trying to figure out what superhuman powers had been bestowed on the band lately- you were amidst the seven best consecutive shows in history- the Island Run and three months later, these three in Christiania.  Trying to wrap your head around the epic forty minute Tweezer > 2001 that had just gone down inside the confines of that horse stable across the way.

It was all so cohesive; progressing naturally through multiple groove segments, screaming to the inner dancer in us all.  Settling in with bass and clav grooves, the music built to a place where Trey subtly joined in the texture before moving into lead melodies that perfectly accentuated the music.  The band locked into a more unified pattern, gaining momentum, before they jumped into the cauldron together.  Soon, Trey started tickling the crowd with his wah-rhythm grooves over a sublime  musical palate led by a fine Gordeaux.

This was all happening in a tiny barn in Denmark!  Yeah, this was dreamland- it had to be, this is what I’d always dreamed of.  A third section of the jam was initiated by Fishman, and the band sounded like they had rehearsed these changes as they flowed effortlessly through some of the smoothest most refined music.  Trey wove melodic tales in the context of the band’s framework, soon giving way to some of his more explosive soloing in the jam.  As the band morphed into another place, Trey reaches up to the purple sky with his melodies.  His playing gets sublime before the band melts into ambience on their way to a precise and slammin’ fifteen minute club-version of 2001.

Leaving the outer-space magnitude for the amphitheatres later in the summer, Phish ripped a notably clean 2001 with little dissonance and distortion, and lots of spot on funk.  Everyone played tight lines, totally bouncing off each other; Page highlighting his Rhodes, Trey consistently improvising melodies, Mike thumping away adhesive, and Fishman carrying, while accenting, the rhythms.  This faster note-heavy version of the song was perfectly suited for the size of the room where the sound did not need to travel more than several hundred feet.  The room was crowded, yet had energy pockets that had been popping off since the beginning of the set, with plenty of room to move and receive the magic.  This is what it was all about- losing yourself to a massive Tweezer in a tiny barn under a wooden roof and a purple star-lit sky.

Sometimes foreign Phish shows, like The Grey Hall, bring a new appreciation for the show experience altogether.  With few in attendance for tangential reasons, the focus of everyone is on the band.  The space between the band and crowd is all but eliminated, as club shows morphed into nightclub parties which band members often attended.  Everyone had busted out their passport and trekked across oceans to get there- this wasn’t home turf- so there were no chips carried on anyone’s shoulder.  No one was there to hang out in the “lot,” and often foreign Phish-goers were the most mellow of all.  During that summer in Europe and, later, in Japan, I vowed never to miss another foreign Phish show.  Let’s hope I can take myself up on that.

LISTEN TO TWEEZER > 2001

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DOWNLOAD OF THE DAY LINK: 7.1.08 Den Gra Hal: Copenhagen

This Scandinavian epic is going to kick off Phish Thoughts’ “DOWNLOAD OF THE DAY.” In response to multiple requests for full-show downloads, the “DOWNLOAD OF THE DAY” will be one show, in its entirety, up for download on the site each day. Along with the link, there will be a short review of what the show is all about. These will be standout shows with great audience sources- they will sound crispy. (There will be archived links, so you don’t need to download every day.)

In response to recent slow download speed, I am using Mediafire + bandwith as a temporary solution until I get my own host.  Sorry about the slow Sendspace links, revision is in the works.  Miner’s Picks: Summer ’95 pts. 1 and 2 are on Mediafire already, and when I wake up all of ’95 and all DJ mixes will be bumped over to Mediafire for faster access. I hope you check back every day and take advantage of this welcome addition to Phish Thoughts.  The first selection, as reviewed above is:

7/01/98 The Grey Hall – Freetown Christiana, Copenhagen

I: NICU, Sample In a Jar, My Mind’s Got a Mind of Its Own, The Moma Dance, Down With Disease > Dog-Faced Boy > Piper, Waste, Chalkdust Torture Set

II: Tweezer > 2001 > Loving Cup, My Soul, Sweet Adeline

E: Harry Hood

(photos: russ kahn)

It Was 10 Years Ago Today…

Posted in Uncategorized with tags on July 10, 2008 by Mr.Miner

Barcelona. The mere mention of the city brings images of the Mediterranean coast, the architectural works of Antoni Gaudi, sandy beaches and paella. In the Phish world, it also coaxes memories of a hot (both literally and figuratively) three night run to end the spectacular Europe 98 tour. From the legendary Grey Hall which saw the debut of the Moma Dance, the epic Tweezer>2001, the exploratory Ghost>Jim, to the new(ish) live Phish release of 7/6 at the Lucerna Theatre in Prague, to the cozy confines of Zeleste, a tiny square club on the outskirts of the city. After two nights of World Cup-laced Phish jams in Spain, the stage was set for the tour closer on 7/10/1998.

For anyone who was there, the intense heat and humidity inside the club provided a wet backdrop for what would certainly be an interesting night. This was all supposed to go down at some beach front venue called the Bikini Club, yet with the number of ticket sales, the venue had to be switched to the not-so-unique Zeleste. Boo! Nonetheless, all were ready for what was certainly going to be a blow out affair- no pun intended.

The set opened harmlessly with a Disease, Dogs Stole Things. And then the “blow out” began. WIth the opening riffs of Divided Sky, everyone was amped as the compositional masterpiece hadn’t been dusted off across the pond. Yet, midway through the song, the crackling began. Apparantly, Phish, the musical super-heroes that they are, were having some serious sound issues. Interesting. Aborting the song because the feedback became far too obtrusive, Trey went on to tell some jokes as Languedoc and team worked quickly to ameliorate the situation.

When the band got the go ahead, instead of moving back to Divided Sky, Trey immediately pumped the energy through the roof, slowly beginning the licks to Mike’s Song. Hell, since the band had sound issues and the crowd was already drenched in sweat–might as well come back and throw down. It didn’t happen. Before they even dropped into the jam, similar issues plagued the system, and snap, crackle, and pop– the Mike’s was aborted. Trey was visibly pissed off as he informed the eager crowd that they would have to take a break while this all got worked out, and that they would play up to curfew from the time everything got fixed. Pretty strange happenings, especially coming on the last show of tour after the previous two nights had gone off just fine–same club, same system.

When they reappeared on the stage some thirty minutes later, Mike stepped up to the mic and began the a capella opening to Halley’s Comet, not seen since the 28th of December in Landover, MD. Not many know of this Halley’s, but it’s straight fire. Trey comes right out of the composed section with some “yo-yo” grooves using his 1998 wah-pedal funk. This jam develops into some real candy-grooving, and eventually slides into a driving preview of First Tube, at this point only played with the Eight Foot Fluorescent Tubes in Burlington at Higher Ground on April 17, 1998–the true first incarnation of the Trey band with local musicians Russ, Tony, Russ Lawson on guitar, and Heloise Williams on vocals. Definitely the highlight of the show, this Halley’s chills out nicely into Roggae. Sparkle briefly brought back the speaker demons, but all remained in tact. Upon the ending of Sparkle–take two! The opening riffs of Mike’s jacked the audience’s pulse right back up and featured an extended exploration of Simple, taking the song to places before uncharted.

With a definitively off-kilter show, Phish ended their European vacation and headed back to the states to Portland and the Gorge to begin the legendary summer 98 US tour. The fans dispersed to different night clubs around the city to revel in the couple weeks that had just ensued and to party with all of the new friends made. A strange evening it was .

Below is a link to the eighteen minute Halley’s for your listening pleasure.

BARCELONA HALLEY’S 7/10/98

07/10/98 Zeleste, Barcelona
Set I: Down With Disease, Dogs Stole Things, The Divided Sky, Mike’s Song
Set II: Halley’s Comet> Roggae, Sparkle, Mike’s Song> Simple> Weekapaug Groove, Sample in a Jar, Good Times Bad Times
E: Brian and Robert, Taste