Archive for Miner’s Picks

March Madness

Posted in Uncategorized with tags on March 27, 2009 by Mr.Miner
Hampton (J.Kravitz)

Hampton (J.Kravitz)

As the NCAA tournament takes peak form this weekend in the rounds of sixteen and eight, a different type of March Madness has swarmed the Phish community in the form on ticket on-sales.  After the near-impossible Red Rocks mission, fans look to have more success against the weaker seeded shows this weekend.  Big match-ups against both Ticketmaster and Live Nation headline today’s slate. The host venues of these battles will be The Gorge, Merriweather, Darien, and SPAC.  The fans look to give it 110% in their quest for paper glory.  After today the first nine tickets of late summer will have come and gone, and only Shoreline and Hartford will remain.  On a raucous Friday in March, the madness is most definitely in the air.

Hampton (J.Kravitz)

Hampton (J.Kravitz)

“Madness” is a word often used loosely to describe Phish music.  Honing in on this idea of “musical madness,” I compiled eight Phish jams that embody this word.  A friend on mine recently posted on Facebook “The Best Five Albums to Listen to After a Phish Show,”  and yesterday, another buddy retorted, “What are the best albums to listen to while frantically trying to score Phish tickets via public sale?”  Well here is my response.

Hampton (P.Washburn)

Hampton (P.Washburn)

The music should match the mania, and these eight selections fit the theme of the day.  In honor of March Madness- both ticket and basketball- I have collected an “Elite Eight” jams that are the musical definition of madness; allow them to color your weekend in any way you please. The download link is above the track listing.  Good luck today!  I’ll always take any extra pavilions off your hands.  Just drop me a line!

MINER’S PICKS: MARCH MADNESS < LINK

MINER’S PICKS: MARCH MADNESS < TORRENT LINK

***

“Bathtub Gin” 11.23.97, Winston Salem, NC

This one is a beast that dominates the second set that could be better than its legendary Hampton predecessors.

“Simple” 11.29.98, Worcester, MA

Hampton (P.Washburn)

Hampton (P.Washburn)

I’ve written about this one before- a masterful, tour-ending  piece of psychedelic sorcery.

“David Bowie” 10.27.95, Kalamazoo, MI

A dark and monstrous “Bowie” from Fall ’95, one high point for the song.

“Split Open and Melt” 12.1.94, Salem, OR

A dark-horse jam in the first set that illustrates ’94 Phish going for the jugular.

3.8.09 (Unknown)

3.8.09 (Unknown)

“Tweezer” 12.2.95, New Haven, CT

A “Tweezer” like none other- fifteen minutes of the most seething music you’ll ever hear.

“Maze” 10.18.96, Pittsburgh, PA

A highlight of this dark-horse ’96 show, this “Maze” gets way out there in a hurry.

“Stash11.12.94, Kent, OH

Dark and terrorizing, like “Stash’s” should be, this version characterizes the depths to which ’94 Phish plunged to in no time at all.

12.7.95 “Mike’s > Weekapaug,” Niagara Falls, NY

One of the best “Grooves” out there, each half boast stand out jamming- though the “Mike’s” takes the cake.

(Note: This is not meant to be a definitive list of “the” eight craziest jams.  ever- just eight pieces of madness.)
=====

DOWNLOAD OF THE DAY:

8.20.93 Red Rocks SBD < LINK

Phsh @ Red Rocks (Coventry Blog)

Phsh @ Red Rocks (Coventry Blog)

Since we are going through the history of Red Rocks, here is the legendary first show the band ever played there, smack dab in the middle of August ’93.  This is a re-post, but it fits the season.  New readers- enjoy!

I: The Divided Sky, Harpua, Poor Heart, Maze, Bouncing Around the Room, It’s Ice, The Wedge, Ginseng Sullivan, Rift, Run Like an Antelope

II: Also Sprach Zarathustra > Slave to the Traffic Light, Split Open and Melt, The Squirming Coil, My Friend My Friend-> Chalk Dust Torture, You Enjoy Myself > Purple Rain*> HYHU, Cavern

E: The Mango Song, Freebird

*With Mimi Fishman (Fish’s mom) on vacuum.

***
3337964888_60568796891

Hampton Space – Photo: Jeff Kravitz / insidecelebpics.com


Hampton Travel Tunes

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , on March 4, 2009 by Mr.Miner

13863608image26fd88404d0911d7With nothing but Hampton on my mind, its has been hard to focus from moment to moment over the past twenty-four hours. For today’s post, I figured I’d put together a little five-hour compilation to serve as an audio companion on your travels to southeastern Virginia.  Five hours should cover any domestic flight heading to Norfolk or Newport News, and should cover most people’s drives.  Enjoy the older jams, because soon there will be a lot of new material to focus on!  Below are the tracks with a little blurb about each, and make sure to check out the goings on down at the coliseum below!

For those not going to Hampton, sit tight and enjoy the tunes.  The No Spoilers Downloads are set up, and I’ll have a recap posted each morning.  The summer is right around the corner- remember “we’re all in this together.”

***

“The Curtain > YEM” 11.27.97, Worcester, MA SBD

2031I had to kick off the compilation with this slammin’ Worcester opener from ’97, largely because it’s been a popular call to kick off this weekend!  This ’97 incarnation also started a three-night stand of lore, and the “YEM” is pure heat with a distinct “Crosseyed” jam that follows up the initial grooves.

“Stash” 11.13.97, Thomas & Mack, Las Vegas, NV

This was the first big jam of Fall ’97 and it gets lost due to the many all-time greats that were strewn throughout this tour.  Opening the second set, this psychedelic trek spanned the spectrum of Phish from evil and ambient to blissful and melodic.  This is a true monster that reaches the depths uncharted.

“Reba” 12.11.95, Cumberland Co. Civic Center, Portland ME

This first set version carries a quick pace through the composed section and then plunges into the sparkling lagoon that is the “Reba” jam.  Trey and Mike worked symbiotically throughout this section of improv, as Phish sported their polished armor of December ’95.

“Bathtub Gin” 7.8.98, Zeleste, Barcelona SBD

The “Gin” was the second song of the Barcelona stand during Europe ’98.  Amidst a fortnight of standout Phish, this “Gin” brought the fans on tour to a cathartic peak with its cascading melodies and extended improv.  This is one of the more triumphant renditions out there as the whole band was fully engaged, embarking on their final European stand.

“Runaway Jim > Free” 7.18.99 Oswego, NY

img_0329Taking the road less traveled, this “Jim” careened off into a funk escapade that fit the summer afternoon just right.  Following the long passage of dance grooves, Phish segued perfectly into a thick, festival-sized “Free.”  This was one of the certain highlights of the weekend.

“Tweezer” 6.14.95, Mud Island Amp, Memphis, TN

In the middle of the Summer ’95, the most psychedelic and out-there music Phish ever played, they were dropping massive, dark, abstract jams nightly; this “Tweezer” was one of them.  Clocking in at fifty minutes, this is one of the most experimental “Tweezers” ever played, and in my opinion, one of best. The band works through an entire jam, and then essentially restarts the improv with the original melody.  If you’re driving to Hampton locally, this “Tweezer” is all you’ll need!

“Slave to the Traffic Light” 10.6.95 , The Orpheum, Vancouver, BC

This early-Fall ’95 “Slave” builds amazingly patiently, oozing the spirit of the great northwest.  Fishman gets quite creative behind the kit as he backs the mid-tempo flow of his mates, giving this “Slave” a unique feel and pushing the band’s further.  Trey finally takes center stage and brings this set closer to the top.

“Down With Disease” 6.15.00, Big Cat, Osaka, JP

136995091A dark-horse selection due to all the great music than came from the Far East in 2000, this “Disease” has always been a personal favorite.  The jam moves through the “Disease” section, a “Crosseyed-esque” section, into some demented and very different territory.  A cross between Phish-tronica and an eerie theme to a spooky nightmare, this jam reached places that the band had never gotten to before.

“Antelope” 8.12.1996, Deer Creek, Noblesville, IN

Deer Creek and “Antelopes” just go together.  Maybe it’s a play off the venue’s name, or maybe it’s not, but the band always seems to drop heavy “Antelopes” in the cornfields.  This 1996 version was a centerpiece of the second set on this first night of two.  The band communicated proficiently throughout this jam, building on each other’s musical phrases and ideas.  This blistering version was one of the highlights of the summer, let alone the weekend.

“Harry Hood > Suzy Greenberg” 11.16.96, Omaha, NE

hw51The Omaha “Hood.”  One of the most intense pieces of music that emerged from Fall ’96, this version came in the middle of a bizarre second set following “Kung” w/ The Vibration  of Life > “Catapult” >  a darker than usual “Axilla.”  This is an insane “Hood” where the band is glued together, moving at a mile a minute, when Trey hits a note and holds it- for three straight minutes!- and the band completely annihilates the jam beneath him.  Some of the most dramatic Phish in history, this one is a keeper.  The energy crashes into the ever-playful “Suzy Greenberg.”

“Mike’s > H2 > Weekapaug” 11.22.97, Hampton, VA

No compilation made for Hampton would be complete without a little music from the Phish mecca.  This colossal opening “Mike’s Groove” opened the defining night of the venue’s history.  Boasting a thick funk jam, with foreshadows of “Black-Eyed Katy”, this Mike’s took a rhythmic journey before descending into the fiery pits.  The Weekapaug jam is just as creative, and when all was said and done, this was only the beginning.

“2001” 8.16.98, The Lemonwheel, Limestone, ME

This massive version brought down the proverbial house as the improvisational focus of an otherwise thin last set to the ‘Wheel.  This twenty-minute jaunt showcased the chunky, bass-heavy grooves that dominated Summer ’98.  Following up the Great Went’s monster, this version illustrated how tight the band had grown in just one year.

DOWNLOAD MINER’S PICKS : TRAVEL TUNES < LINK

DOWNLOAD MINER’S PICKS : TRAVEL TUNES < TORRENT LINK

=====

HAMPTON UPDATE: A MINI MOTHERSHIP!

img_4143

Mini-Mothership in the Making 3.3.09

Forgive the tabloid nature of this report, but things are happening down at Hampton.  Not only has the band been sighted, but the band’s artistic director, Russ Bennett, who was integral in the design and layout of all their festivals, is on the scene.   It seems that the band is adding some extra flair to their comeback weekend, creating a mini art installation of The Mothership in front of img_4143the venue, as well as some other pieces!  Bennett, and those ubiquitous red trucks, were spotted at Lowe’s yesterday, before a mini-coliseum began to take shape in the afternoon.  One report from Phish Thoughts reader, Clay, cited a worker who said it be a part of a “holding area” to prevent gate crashing, while people enter the venue a certain number at a time.  Who knows what else might sprout up, as the band seems to be going out of their way to make this weekend more than your normal Phish experience!  Hampton Festival ’09, anyone?  The weather is supposed to range from the mid to upper 60’s.  Two more days!! Photos thanks to bailedwiththehay

Phish's Truck

Phish's Truck @ Lowe's (3.3)

Rob Bennett @ Lowes (3.3)

Russ Bennett @ Lowe's (3.3)

=====

INSTANT SETLIST UPDATES: FOLLOW “mrminer” on TWITTER!

twitterIf you’re not holding out for the No Spoilers thing, which you obviously should, follow “mrminer” on Twitter for instant setlist updates throughout the weekend!!  One way or another, Phish Thoughts has you covered!  Thanks to Cason Gaither for the help! You can also follow all Phish related Tweets- find out how here!

=====

DOWNLOAD OF THE DAY:

10.2.99 Target Center, Minneapolis, MN < LINK

10.2.99 Target Center, Minneapolis, MN <  TORRENT LINK

Target Center, Minneapolis, MN

Target Center, Minneapolis, MN

This one comes as an “instant reader request,” as it was only asked for yesterday.  Ask, and ye shall receive. (And if I forget, ask again!) This is one of the standout shows of Fall ’99, boasting a second set of pure improvisation.  The “Tweezer” and the “Piper” are particularly good.  The first set carried some favorites as well, as “Quinn the Eskimo” popped up as well as a “Split” and a “Wolfman’s,” following the always-welcomed “Llama” opener.

I:  Llama, Wolfman’s Brother, Punch You in the Eye, Quinn the Eskimo, Poor Heart, Roggae, Split Open and Melt, The Squirming Coil > Loving Cup

II: Tweezer > On Your Way Down, Piper, You Enjoy Myself > Frankenstein, Waste

E: While My Guitar Gently Weeps, Tweezer Reprise

Source: unknown

Tour Stop: The Gorge

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , on January 23, 2009 by Mr.Miner

Few music venues in the world combine the magic of the natural world with fabulous sound and a carefree atmosphere.  The Gorge, however, is one of these special places.  A Phish stomping ground, the Gorge in George, Washington hosted the band for four two-night stands, each producing some of the most memorable shows from their respective tours.  The stunning visual beauty of the blazing sunset over the Columbia River combined with the aural beauty of Phish improvising a perfect soundtrack can be overwhelming– in the best way possible.  With camping on site, and relatively little hassle by authorities, The Gorge has been Phish’s west coast Mecca since 1997.

gorgeAny time a west coast run was anticipated, The Gorge routinely jumped to the top of the rumor list, and still does, as no other Phish experience can quite compare.  Nobody will ever forget their first visit to The Gorge.  As you walked over that grassy ridge and finally saw where the stage was located, you had to do a Scooby-Doo “double-take” to believe your eyes.  This was where Phish was meant to play!  With a 22,000 person capacity and a massive property, when the circus came to George, a mini-west coast festival vibe emerged each time.

Some of Phish’s most memorable summer moments have occurred right in front of the natural majesty; eternal moments and memories.  As we prepare for The Gorge ’09, whether it is in August or September, let’s take a trip down memory lane and recount the Phishy exploits that have gone down at the band’s northwestern home.

8.2 – 8.3, 1997

Phish’s initial visit to The Gorge came at the half-way point of a colossal summer tour that began in Virginia Beach, moved through the south and up the west coast, and all the way back  to Limestone, ME.  A new style of slowed down funk grooves that combined with Phish’s first Gorge experience made for some musical fireworks.  These shows, raved about for the rest of the tour, would set the bar for Gorge Phish.

3181900701_8fab2075d0The first show at The Gorge would start in earnest with the third-song “Ghost,” the song everyone was dying to hear after its debut and extended explorations in Europe.  This jam embodied the raw Summer ’97 sound, with big bass lines, spacious grooves, and copious rhythm playing by Trey.  Leading right into crunchy improv, we got our first taste of the massive open-air acoustics that makes The Gorge sound so beautiful.  With nothing inhibiting the sound, the monster-sized rhythms ate up the entire audience.  As the set continued, Phish used “Divided Sky” as backing music for the sunset, creating a completely surreal and Phishy moment at their new playground.  A rubbery “Wolfman’s” and a fierce “Split” rounded out the highlights of the opening frame.

gorge-014The second set was one of the classic second sets to ever take place at the storied venue.  Following the rocking “Down With Disease” jam, the band seamlessly slowed into some patterns that suggested a far different musical milieu.  As the pace became as thick as tar, akin to the Raleigh 7.22.97 Disease, Trey slipped in the intro lick to “Tweezer,” right at the jam’s deepest point.  Boom!  Just like that The Gorge was transformed into the world’s largest Phish tank, as we swam through the colorful, over-sized funk.  This was the first of only two “Tweezers” played over the 19-show tour, with the other coming on the last day of The Great Went.  Needless to say, the drop into the “Tweezer” jam brought more than your average excitement.  Settling into some ridiculously collaborative grooves, Phish’s style had completely transformed from anything we had heard in Fall ’96.  This was straight dance music, and it took some of the older fans time to understand what Phish was even doing with their new style.  I distinctly remember reading Charlie Dirksen’s review of this “Tweezer” saying that “nothing happened” musically.  Oh, Charlie, you just didn’t get it!  This is a jam that should be heard by all, and more specifically pumped at high volumes at a dance party– the music is so thick you can feel it envelop your body.

After an extended funk session, the band gradually built back into “Down With Disease,” though their final transition was a bit sloppy,  The Gorge “Diseazzer” was born.  This jam would remain a summer highlight long after The Great Went ended.  One other piece of Phish history was born on this night.  This was the first time Trey asked Kuroda to shut the lighting rig off as the band jammed to the stars for the “Harry Hood” encore.  One of the more transcendent experiences– living a Hood jam in the dark with nothing but the heavens providing guidance, was the perfect ending to a perfect night.  Trey would repeat his request at The Great Went, which prompted the first ever glow-stick war, yet the magic of The Gorge inspired this idea in the first place, creating pure serenity for the 22,000 fans.

gorge-018Phish’s follow-up, while being quite exciting, couldn’t match the exploits of night one.  The opening combo of “Bathtub Gin > Foam” provided twenty-five minutes of the most intricate and tightest playing of the evening.  The brand new song, then known as “Twist Around,” popped up later in the set for its second appearance of tour.  As the band was still figuring out the jam, they created a wide-open soundscape that seemed to merge perfectly with the vast surroundings.  A late set “Limb by Limb” allowed Trey to emote the magic he was feeling on such a stage via a well-phrased solo.

The final set of 1997’s Gorge installment centered around the more anthemic songs of “Simple” and “Fluffhead.”  Having delved deep into darkness on the previous night, this set would be celebratory.  The melodic glory of Simple’s jam washed the audience with good feeling as if cleansing the palate of their mind.  When the jam dribbled down to silence, the music twisted right back up with the opening of “Fluffhead.”  The ultimate feel good Phish song was centered in the second set at one of the most extraordinary Phish venues, and it was perfect.  Phish, masters of their art, ended the weekend at The Gorge the only way possible– with a slowly-building and gorgeous encore of “Slave to the Traffic Light.”  This was a vivid illustration of how Phish truly “gets it,” and how their sense of the moment is unparalleled.

7.16-7.17, 1998

Arguably the definitive Gorge stand in Phish’s career, they blew this one up.  One show and a few days removed from an amazing Europe run, Phish pulled into George for the second time.  With all sorts of momentum, the band crafted two shows that will stand forever as part of their west coast legacy.  When people mention The Gorge, these are the shows that shoot to the front of everyone’s minds.  Let’s see why.

3182714926_bcb5d804a8Right off a scorching show at Portland Meadows, Phish stepped in front of the Columbia River the next day and put on a clinic.  One of Phish’s perfect sets got the weekend underway immediately.  Casually entering the set with the combo of “Squirming Coil” and “NICU,” the band then dug significantly deeper with standout versions of “Stash” and “Reba.”  In this ultimate summertime “Reba,” Trey didn’t start his quintessential solo out of the gates, but instead sat back into some idyllic wah-grooving that we were unaccustomed to hearing as part of the song.  But it fit perfectly with the mood of the evening.  Phish carried out the unfinished jam as the sun’s path began to lower, eventually dipping below the horizon as they segued into “Fast Enough For You,” yet another synchronicity between Phish and nature.  A rare first set “Circus” was chosen to settle things down before the band blew out a set-ending “Antelope.”  Perfectly sculpted and executed masterfully, this first frame upped the ante for the upcoming three.

y1plr5ueogzm1z8xl95wg9rv32aoxqvo-a9The second-set, while holding some stellar jams, didn’t quite hold up to the first.  Carried by the late set triumvirate of “Bowie,” “Tube,” and “Slave,” the audience would stream out talking about these late set jams as opposed to the more contained songs at the beginning of the set.  All three of these jams deserve huge props as they represent highlight versions.  The “Tube” is one of the best ever.

Night two would go down in Phish history.  The second set of “2001 > Mike’s > Weekapaug > Character Zero” would be raved about for a decade to follow.  The three song opening combo equated to one hour of the best Phish improv of the summer.  Often referred to as the definitive version of “2001,” inspired by the universe above, they put on a twenty-five minute clinic in Phish groove.  This was pure crack– a mega-2001 under the stars with the natural world surrounding us– it didn’t get much better than this.  As if the half-hour of adrenaline wasn’t enough, at the 3181882151_d0fea0a7872peak of the jam, the band hit the opening riff to “Mike’s,” reuniting the two pieces that were once close buddies.  If you want to talk bombast, put on this Mike’s!  As soon as the jam starts, Trey hits a rhythm pattern that he would take most of the way through the jam, continuously upping the intensity along the way.  This was militant Phish at its best, throwing down music for an army to march into battle to.  This aggressive Phish kept people raging non-stop from the beginning of the set.  With the drop of the second “Mike’s” jam, the band exited the militaristic textures and entered some of the most beautiful and blissful playing to ever morph out of a “Mike’s” jam.”  Inspired by the venue’s beauty and creating a perfect juxtaposition to the music that preceded it, Phish took us on a divine ride through the most colorful places of our imagination.  Our musical tour guide, Phish showed us the gamut on this mystical night in Washington.

Using this jam as the melodic interlude before “Weekapaug,” the band skipped over any connector and melted directly into the second half of “Mike’s Groove.”  As the “Weekapaug” soared off into the improvisational stratosphere, all was smiles in the land of Phish- this was the type of show we lived for!  (Note: The first set contained a great “Gumbo” and another sunset “Divided Sky,” circa ’97.)

9.10 & 9.11, 1999

phish-gorge-99For the third year in a row, Phish would make a two-night stop at The Gorge, this time, however, the two nights came right at the beginning of fall tour.  Following a smoking Vancouver opener, the caravan traveled directly south to what was now a very Phishy venue.  This visit to The Gorge would see some new developments in Phish’s catalog as “Gotta Jibboo” and “Sand” would both make their Phish debut over the weekend.  There was no better way to kick start the fall than a return to the Columbia River Gorge.

The first night featured a melange of songs that didn’t necessarily flow so well.  The first set combined classics like “Divided Sky” with TAB songs like “First Tube” and “Will It Go Round In Circles?” and The Siket Disc‘s “What’s The Use?”  The second set is where the highlights from this evening would spring from.  A blistering “Disease” sparked the fire of the set that would be continued with the popular combo of “Moma Dance” and “Piper.” This combo demonstrated the band’s diverse styles while providing a meaty start to the second half.  “Gotta Jibboo” was a welcome addition to the Phish catalog, donating some happy candy-grooves to the mix, but the most intriguing moments of the night emerged out of “Split Open and Melt” and “David Bowie.”  Both of these jams share a patient and menacing quality that stretched them out to 15 and 25 minutes, respectfully.  These were the two jams of the show in which Phish really dug into some psychedelia, easily providing the most engaging music of the night.

The second night of this stand would see some more significant improvisation and incorporate two more songs from Trey’s band.  The show began with an infectious “Tube,” “Funky Bitch” duo that commenced the raging right away.  This first set was more eventful than the previous night’s, incorporating “Limb,” “Punch You in the Eye,” and “Free” into the setlist.

phish_03_0095However, the segment that absolutely stole the show came at the beginning of the jam-heavy second set in the form of “Wolfman’s > Sand.”  Carrying out the shows rhythmic theme, Phish entered into an inviting dance-a-thon out of “Wolfman’s.”  As this multidimensional jam built momentum, Trey began directing it from the background using wah-grooves to push the music in different directions rather than a searing solo.  Morphing into a dissonant ’99 soundscape, the band navigated textures as they transitioned into the first-ever “Sand.”  This was like a revelation!  The massive spacious dance grooves of “Sand” boomed out of the speakers, welcoming us all into a brand new musical universe.  Nary has there been as much fun at a Phish show as raging all-out to this jam with the most room you could ever want.  This was yet another Goliath-sized peak Gorge experience.  After the colossal twenty-minute all-star introduction to the song of Fall ’99, the band dipped the “Meatstick” before segueing into a hectic fifteen-minute “Maze,” again showing off multiple jamming styles.  Getting deep into the madness of “Maze,” Phish continued the psychedelia that characterized this second set.  Following the early classic, Phish settled the rest of the show with phenomenal versions of “Prince Caspian” and “Harry Hood.”  Particular focus should be given to this twenty-minute “Hood,” a song for which The Gorge always brought out the best.

7.12 & 7.13, 2003

phish6dangareau1After Phish had taken their hiatus and Summer ’03 was charted, two more nights at The Gorge were on tap towards the beginning of tour.  having written the recipe for northwestern magic, how could Phish not revisit one of their favorite haunts of all time?  With Round Room songs in the mix, these Gorge shows would serve as an honest sampling of where the band stood musically at the time.  Following two great shows at Shoreline, Phish was ready to up the ante in Washington, and up it they did.

The focus of the first night was placed squarely on the second set.  Stringing huge versions of “Piper,” “Tweezer,” “Ghost,” and “David Bowie” together with a few fillers, Phish created a monster.  But the clear highlight was the dancetastic “Ghost” which prompted many cross-country phone calls after the show.  The jamming throughout the set was sublime, and characteristic of Summer ’03’s creative direction.  One of the standout sets from this tour, and a great example of the post-hiatus sound, this set was a popular CD in the car for the rest of the summer.  Not to mention that the first set had great versions of “Taste,” “Stash,” and “Maze,” taboot.

p10101961Phish’s last performance at The Gorge provided a legitimate set of musical highlights.  The first set was much more significant this time around and boasted a hot “Runaway Jim, “Scents and Subtle Sounds” opening combo.  The final of four appearances of the song “Round Room” came in this set, exploring its ambient and abstract textures.  This song always produced amazing jams, but was hardly touched.  We may very well see more extended “Round Rooms” this year.  Whenever YEM closes the first set, you know the band means business, and by closing this frame with a monstrous version, we knew set two had big things in store.

The meat of the second set read “Wolfman’s > Jesus Left Chicago, Seven Below, Harry Hood.”  Each version listed is noteworthy, but the “Seven Below” took the cake as the most adventurous post-hiatus jam to date.  Taking the mellifluous song to the depths of dissonant psychedelia, this jam moved mountains in the Phish world.  Giving us the feeling that Phish was back with their sense of over-the-edge adventure, everyone left The Gorge in ’03 rightfully amped for the rest of the summer.  As the band announced their presence of authority with two outstanding shows, The Gorge once again proved to be the perfect place to see Phish.

phish10dangareau1With a Summer tour announced already, the community now eagerly awaits the knowledge of when we will return to our northwestern home.  Whether it is in August or September, you can be certain that we will find ourselves on that precipice, watching the golden sun drop below the landscape once again as Phish carries us out into the night.

To commemorate all of the wonderful nights spent in George, Washington, I have put together a compilation of “Miner’s Picks: The Gorge.” Within you will discover much of the musical magic described above (minus the ’03 stuff because I only have official SBDs.) Download and enjoy this audio history of the best venue in the country.  The track listing is below.  Share your memories of The Gorge in Comments!

DOWNLOAD MINER’S PICKS: THE GORGE Pt. 1 < LINK

DOWNLOAD MINER’S PICKS: THE GORGE Pt. 2 < LINK

MINER’S PICKS: THE GORGE
8.2.97
1.  Ghost I
2.  Divided Sky I
3.  Split Open and Melt I
4,5,6.  Down With Disease > Tweezer > Disease II
7. Harry Hood E
8.3.97
8,9. Bathtub Gin > Foam I
10,11. Twist > Jesus Left Chicago I
12,13. Simple > Fluffhead II
7.16.98
14. Stash I
15,16. Reba > Fast Enough For You I
17. Run Like An Antelope I
18. David Bowie II
19. Tube II
20. Slave to the Traffic Light II
7.17.98
21. Gumbo I
22,23,24. 2001 > Mike’s > Weekapaug II
9.10.99
25. Split Open and Melt II
26. David Bowie II
9.11.99
27. Tube I
28. Free I
29,30. Wolfman’s Brother> Sand II
31. Harry Hood II

=====

THE VICTOR DISC:

14313__phish_lEver heard of The Victor Disc? Much like The Siket Disc, there was an alleged series of instrumental outtakes from a 2002 recording session floating around. Well, some of it has surfaced on the Internet in the phishposters.com forum.  Here’s the gist of what was posted.
On December 19th, 2002, while they were in New York to appear on The Late Show With David Letterman,  Trey and Page popped into a downtown recording studio sometime after midnight.  Deciding to play, they called Fishman and Gordon, asking them to join.  Phish then taped an hour and a half of spontaneous jamming, and decided on the title, The Victor Disc, named after the session’s engineer.  The track listing is below.

1. Den of Iniquity (9:53)
2. Lazy and Red (5:54)
3. Sky Train Wand (17:21)
4. Blue Over Yellow (15:27)
5. Bubble Wrap (4:31)
6. Guantanamo Strut (17:21)

(Recorded 12/17/02 in NYC)

Three tracks have leaked onto the internet! They are: “Lazy and Red”, “Den of Iniquity,” and “Bubble Wrap.” Roll over songs and click play to listen now!

DOWNLOAD THESE THREE TRACKS NOW! < LINK

Not quite a new album, but new Phish nonetheless!

A New Era

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

Regardless of your political leanings, and unless you’ve been in a coma, you have been moved in some way or another by the events in Washington, DC over the past few days.  A hopeful wave of good feeling has crested in America, despite hard economic times, and a new era is dawning.  Today is the the most momentous day of my lifetime.  Only 46 years after Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream” speech was delivered from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, his dream has become embodied in Barack Obama.  Today, Obama, an African-American, will be inaugurated as the President of the United States.  This notion seemed so inconceivable only a few years ago that Chris Rock made a spoof about its absurdity in 2003’s “Head of State.” Yet, today, in 2009, America is making the greatest step forward that I have ever witnessed.

861967917_598b96e7a4In a strange way, Phish is riding this great emotional wave.  2009 is the year that things are beginning to progress again; we were stalled there for a bit.  Obama even bodes well for Phish, as they have always flourished under a Democratic White House, while not faring so well with Republicans in office.  As Clinton was inaugurated in January of 1993, Phish went on a streak of years representing the greatest of their career (so far.)  Bush was “elected” president a month after Phish played their final show at Shoreline in 2000, and, as we needn’t be reminded, remained in office for the past eight years.  Let’s see, in the past eight years, Phish played for one and a half before crashing and burning. Hmmm.

2904046075_1258b89024Yet, on the brink of a new era of potential unity in America, the hope of redemption lingers in the air.  Simultaneously, a happy and healthy Phish has emerged out of the woods in Vermont to bring us back to the promised land.  As I have watched the inaugural celebrations and thought of Phish, I have had a distinct feeling that this wave of inspiration will not be limited to politics, but infuse American culture at large.  Only time will tell, but it sure feels different today than it did yesterday, and once March 6th hits, things will shift yet again, and our dream will be realized.

header-new1As most of America is optimistic for Barack, so should we be for Phish.  Things are pointing in the right direction, and it seems to me that the third time around will last considerably longer than part deux.  Our soundtrack is back.  No longer will we need to dig into the archives to find some new Phish to listen to, we will be living it.  We will download new shows instead of searching for old ones, but most of all, we will dance again to the greatest beat in the universe.

To commemorate this historical day in American history, I have compiled some Phish to complement the occasion.  Here are some choice cuts and a blurb about each that make up “Miner’s Picks: 1.20.09.” Download links are below. Enjoy!

***

2001 > Curtain > Tweezer 11.19.95 Charlotte Colieum, NC

513460520_fe780696b6A phenomenal start to the second set of this standout Charlotte show, this segment seemed like an appropriate launching point for a new era.  A classic combination of Phish springboards splash-lands in a twenty-minute “Tweezer.”  An improvisational monster, this jam progresses through distinct portions, all possessing their own feel and building to their own peak.  This is a heavily underrated nugget of Fall ’95.

Piper 12.8.99 CCCC, Portland, ME

In a year that featured too many outstanding “Pipers” to list, this one stands apart from the rest.  After its typical break-neck paced shred-fest, this version breaks down into some mid-tempo grooves before transforming into a gorgeous and abstract ambient excursion.  This multi-faceted jam is highlighted by the transcendent  final portion of soul-filling music.  Completely atypical for any “Piper,” the powers of Phish took over, directing this episode places never explored by the song.

Reba 10.18.94 Vanderbilt Univ., Nashville, TN SBD

1141298742_834063c5201994 was unquestionably the year in which the band took “Reba” for the most exciting rides.  This dark-horse ’94 version features Phish at its best, creating something wholly different with the classic groove.  Transcending the song’s blissful path, the band takes an abrupt turn, moving into more subtle and spacey patterns.  This new segment grows on its own and blossoms into its own peak within the jam.  A phenomenally triumphant and dynamic “Reba” seemed perfect for this historic day.

Run Like An Antelope 8.6.97 Riverport Amp. Maryland Heights, MO

This ridiculously intense summer Antelope closed the set after an absurdly long half-country trek from The Gorge to St Louis.  This version includes top-notch fiery Summer ’97 jamming, while stopping in a Makisupa portion during the post-jam segment.  I believe this to be the wildest North American Pronghorn of this summer, and because it’s not a part of one of the tour’s high-key shows, it often gets overlooked.  Trey absolutely slaughters this version with thoughtful, atypical offerings.

AC/DC Bag > Sparkle 8.9.98 Virgina Beach Amp, VA

This AC/DC bag was not only the outright highlight of this great show, but one of the defining jams of an outstanding Summer of ’98.  With grooves straight out of the gate, this is some classic summertime funk, not to deep, but infectious and as dancy as anything.  An outstandingly tight carnival ride through Phish improv, this Bag kicked off the blistering set that would end with the “Terrapin Station” encore.

Ghost > Free 7.23.99 Polaris Amp. Columbus, OH

2338849685_1576546f7dOne of the nastiest portions of Phish in all of 1999, this segment was composed of militant, in-your-face Phish.  One of the great “Ghosts” of the year opened the second set with a larger-than-life feel.  This version features some precise and standout playing that can best be characterized as slow, yet urgent.  Trey emotes deeply, annihilating this version, while locked with Gordon who straight owns this piece.  This “Ghost” is a phenomenal archetype of Summer ’99 and redefines the word “raging.”  A very cool, unexpected martian-esque transition into “Free” blew the place apart.  A jam that saw Trey lunging and leaping all over the stage, this “Free” creates a sonic soundscape of that seems like it is coming from the depths of fall tour.  An inseparable piece from the “Ghost,” this jam complements the audacity and massive quality of the set opening jam.

Stash > NICU 11.23.97 LJVM Winston-Salem, NC

I have often said that “Stash” is the dark horse song of Fall ’97, while the magnifying glass was most often placed on more funk-rooted vehicles.  This intricate version of “Stash” passes through both melodic and dissonant sections on its twisting path, but ultimately ends up focusing on eerie and intense psychedelia.  Overflowing with intensity, this quality of improv illustrates where Phish took some other jams in the fall of ’97.  Traveling far off the beaten path, this mind-fucking episode winds up innocently segueing into “NICU” in Phishy fashion.

Tube 9.18.99 Coors Amphitheatre Chula Vista, CA

phili3In a two-set outdoor fall show completely in the dark, the Phish community discovered one of the greatest most accommodating amphitheatres in the nation.  Covered with huge flat cement platforms made for throwing down, Phish allowed just that by exploding in an outstanding ten-minute “Tube” toward the end of the first set.  Pure Phish crack, this one got the heart rate up quickly and didn’t let up as the band explored the funk at a slower open-air pace.  One of the best “Tubes” of the late ’90s flourishing of the song, Page sparkled as this one lit up the dark desert night.

Down With Disease 12.11.97 Rochester, NY SBD

This wildly popular Disease never gets old because it detaches so far from the song’s conventional upbeat structure.  Delving deep into darkness early in the the first set, Phish created a monster that features some of the band’s best playing of the entire tour.  Moving away from the rock n roll, the band settles in a menacingly slow, inspected groove that eventually moves unfinished into “Maze.”

YEM 8.12.98 Vernon Downs, NY

2926669175_bbc854cbf7This encore version following the bust-out cover of “Burning Down The House,” capped a ridiculous pre-Lemonwheel show.  Amidst a predominately muddy field aside the horse track, this wide open free-for-all made for two outstanding sets that led up to this YEM.  The chunky grooves echoed across the fields as bodies moved as if in some sort of mind-control experiment. These gargantuan grooves were prominent throughout Summer ’98, but this night in upstate New York, the size of it all was awing.

Slave to the Traffic Light 12.5.97 CSU Convocation Cntr, Cleveland, OH

When was the last time you listened to this “Slave?” If ever?  I bet it’s been a while.  This Cleveland show gets buried in the excitement of Detroit and Dayton, and when it does get its cred, it is usually in the form of first set praise.  This second set  “Slave” culminates a jam out of “Julius,” and takes a path you don’t hear every day.  As the jam builds along its delicate and transcendent path, the band begins to add layers of dissonance to the jam, and soon Trey initiates what you would think to be the beginning of the peak of the jam.  Not even close.  On one collective hit, the band decides that the jam is going elsewhere, vary far elsewhere.  For the rest of the time, the band created a climactic and colossal soundscape that sent everyone into the stratosphere.  What was going on?  Nooone really knew,  but it was insane.  Check this out for a real ride over the edge.

Harry Hood 8.16.96 The Clifford Ball, Plattsburgh, NY SBD

1996-08-16mo2When thinking about a wave of positive emotion overtaking people, “Harry Hood” immediately springs to mind, and this version washed over 70,000+ at The Clifford Ball.  One of the most majestic of all “Hoods,” this version closed out the first night the first festival ever.  Everyone was in awe of the weekends’ spectacle, and the band harnessed that magic in this sublime jam.  One of my all-time favorites, this one suits the dawning of a new age just fine.  Tapped in like none other, the band reaches places words cannot begin to describe.

DOWNLOAD MINER’S PICKS : 1.20.09 Pt.1 < LINK

DOWNLOAD MINER’S PICKS: 1.20.09 Pt.2 < LINK

ph2004-08-09hampton00660

Hampton ’04 – Photo: Chris Clark

No Brainers

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , on December 22, 2008 by Mr.Miner

Discussion, critique, and debate around their music has been, and will always be, a constant in Phish’s fan base.  Everyone has their own take on things, and we all often go to lengths to legitimize our opinions.  Many post-show decompression sessions were spent listening to Phish and talking about it.  With music addictive as any drug I’ve known, Phish’s acrobatics often spring-boarded folks deep into Phish talk.

2As fun as it is to debate until the sun came up, often times enjoyment came in agreement.  As much as Phish’s music spurns debate, it often crushes disagreement as well.  Sometimes Phish played so well, they literally jammed away any subjectivity.  Nobody is gonna’ argue nuances with the Nassau Roses, and no one’s gonna’ step to the Radio City Ghost or the Salem Tweezer.  You won’t find a fan that will pick a bone with Hampton’s Halley’s or the Albany YEM– sometimes the argument is over before it begins.

To honor these peace-making versions, I put together a compilation of  “No Brainers”– versions that need no discussion.  There are obviously many “no brainer” versions of every song, and this time around I chose one of each; next time, another.  Welcome to Miner’s Picks: No Brainers Vol. I!

***
YOU ENJOY MYSELF: 12.29.98 MSG

dsc03533

3.1.03 (Staunchy)

More than any song, one could pick a hundred versions of YEM to include in such a compilation.  Yet, today, I chose one of my personal favorites that I’m sure many will rank highly as well.  In this set closing smoker at MSG, there is nary a wasted note or misdirected phrase throughout an exciting excursion.  In what I have often called a perfect version of the song, the band’s ’98 style is on full display in one of their favorite homes.

TWEEZER > IZABELLA: 12.6.97 Auburn Hills, MI

Although I often tout this segment, there are clear reason for its accolades.  Possibly the most transcendent jam of Fall ’97, this throw-down at The Palace remains an all-time highlight to this day.  Combining their larger-than-life dance funk with an exploration into the heart of the universe, I’ve never met a person who doesn’t love this entire set.  In a fall tour that took on a life of its own, this “Tweezer” may be the pinnacle.

WOLFMAN’S > SIMPLE: 8.16.97 Limestone, ME

The Great Went (Ned Beebe)

The Great Went (Ned Beebe)

In one of the weekend’s defining portions of improv, these two jams combine to illustrate the diversity of Phish’s music.  In their first trip to the magical site of Limestone, Phish tore apart the most developed Wolfman’s to date to open The Great Went’s second set.  With the beats oozing loudly from the speaker towers and bellowing across the land, we were witnesses to Limestone’s first epic jam.  Flowing with the confidence at the peak of two-month summer tour, Phish sculpted a masterful musical marble.  Surprising us with “Simple” when we least expected it, Trey went on to take one of the most poignant solos of the summer.

HARRY HOOD: 12.30.95 MSG

In what is some of the most powerful music ever produced by the band, this version holds a special version in my soul.  With Trey, Mike and Page building the music as if connected, the emotional quality of this jam’s harmony and melody are unparalleled.  Adding Fish’s work, this version possesses a driving urgency that meshes beautifully with the delicate textures of life.  A passage of music that defines the spiritual and emotional nature of Phish’s world, this version changed my perspective on life forever.  After many years, it has been fun meeting so many others who had similarly powerful experiences during these magical moments at MSG.

BATHTUB GIN: 8.17.97 Limestone, ME

204Coming out of an giant “Down With Disease,” the Went Gin  saw the band and 80,000 fans simultaneously have a peak musical experience.  A piece of music that has come to define the energetic interchange between Phish and their fans, this jam was a cathartic release at the end of an epic summer, celebrating all that the Phish community represented.  One of those out-of body experiences where all were enveloped by the hugeness of what was transpiring, egos fell by the wayside as everyone became lost in Phish’s wild wonderland.

GHOST > SLAVE: 7.4.99 Lakewood

A pairing of incredibly divergent songs resulted in one of the most sublime transitions of the band’s 20+ years and a July 4th memory to last a lifetime.  Another jam that enraptured all in attendance, the music took over the pavilion as the deep bass of Ghost ballooned from the speakers.  A version that stands out in a summer full of belligerent Ghosts, its pairing with Phish’s most regal piece made the jam that much stronger.  The Slave is another time where everything came together at one place at one time– for everyone.

MIKE’S SONG: 12.31.95, MSG

photo -  Austin

photo - Austin

This jam was the centerpiece of one of Phish’s most renowned shows.  Closing the second set, one of the greatest incarnations of the song ever played made a militant futuristic dance hall out of the Garden.  Hallowed as one of the band’s finest nights of their career, this Mike’s is one of the reasons why.  As the second jam kicks in, look out for some serious ninja Phish crack.  No joking around here, this is what its all about.  By the end of the jam, Trey was silhouetted on stage creating a digital delay loop that would continue as he left the stage, awaiting 1996.

2001: 7.17.98 The Gorge

How can you go wrong with a twenty-five minute wide-open exploration of dance grooves in front of the Columbia River Gorge?  On this memorable night, Phish took this version deep into the dark night sky, stopping by stars and planets in their musical orbit.  An experiential delight, and a segment of music you could listen to forever, “The Gorge 2001” has become a term unto its own.

REBA: 7.6.94 Montreal, QC

powerWith the plethora of ridiculous Reba’s played within this year, the conversation always comes back to this version from Montreal.  Taking the driving music to another level of triumphant groove, this version features improv not often heard in your every day “Reba.”  Yet, just at the peak of said section, the band splashes blissfully back into the classic Reba jam.  This is one among many, in a year with copious no brainer versions of the song.

Enjoy these all-time highlights, and share your own in comments below!  Be on the look out for “No Brainers Volume II,” due out soon.

DOWNLOAD “MINER’S PICKS: NO BRAINERS” Now! < LINK

=====

ROSS COMPRESSOR UPDATE:

Below are pictures of the Ross Compressor that Phantasy Tour had engraved for Trey.  The quote comes from “Walls of the Cave,” and seems to imply no pressure to change back to his old tone, but “When the moment comes…”  Very clever. Well played PT!

ross-topross-bottom

Tom Marshall will be hand delivering the pedal to Trey’s house this morning, in time for Christmas!

=====

RUMOR MILL ’09:

  • rumor3 nights at the Pepsi Center in Denver in mid-April
  • Further confirmation of 4 nights at Red Rocks on July 29 – August 2nd
  • June 4 @ Jones Beach (seems solid)
  • 2 nights in Camden in mid -June

=====

DOWNLOAD OF THE DAY:

7.20.91 Arrowhead Ranch, Parksville, NY < LINK

phish_tnailThis is the first show of a classic two night stand with the Giant Country Horns back in the Summer of ’91.  The next night was a show almost every fan had on analog, and this one paved the way.  This one comes as a holiday request, so “Ho! Ho! Ho!,” and enjoy!

I: Chalk Dust Torture, Foam, The Squirming Coil, Llama, Oh Kee Pa Ceremony > Suzy Greenberg, The Landlady, Bathtub Gin, My Sweet One, David Bowie

II: Buried Alive, Reba, Caravan, Dinner and a Movie, Flat Fee, Golgi Apparatus, Stash, TMWSIY > Avenu Malkenu > TMWSIY, You Enjoy Myself, Rocky Top

E: Possum

With The Giant Country Horns.

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.

palace

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.

Andy

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!

DOWNLOAD MINER’S PICKS: DECEMBER ’99 PT. 1 < LINK

DOWNLOAD MINER’S PICKS: DECEMBER ’99 PT. 2 < LINK

DOWNLOAD MINER’S PICKS: DECEMBER ’99 PT. 3 < LINK

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

Miner’s Picks: Turkey Music ’08

Posted in Uncategorized with tags on November 27, 2008 by Mr.Miner
11.28.03 Nassau

11.28.03 Nassau

Thanksgiving has arrived, marking the beginning of the holiday season and a very Phishy time of year.  So many storied Phish anniversaries occur this weekend.  Some of the most memorable are the Worcester runs of  ’97 and ’98, along with the epic long weekend in ’94 spanning half the country from UIC > Minneapolis > Bozeman, and ’96’s run from Seattle > Cow Palace > Sacramento.  While celebrating these anniversaries and the holidays, you might as well celebrate that there are only 100 days left until Phish returns! Needless to say, we all have a lot to be thankful for this season.

With everyone busy with family, friends, football, and food, I figured I’d go light on today’s post and just provide some great music for the holiday.  I’ve selected some choice cuts that should go especially well with dark meat and canned cranberry sauce! The selections, and a blurb about each, are below.  Enjoy your turkey (or tofurky) and Happy Thanksgiving!

1. Bathtub Gin 6.30.99 Bonner Springs, KS

Kicking off the first show of Summer ’99, Phish wasted no time in giving the audience a preview of the insanity that would follow all tour long.  Opening with not just a Gin, but an improvisational beast, Phish introduced new styles that would characterize the year. This jam moved through multiple feels, making significant stops in groovy, ambient, and transcendent realms.  This pretty much knocked the socks off everyone at Sandstone, as this was the first Phish song performed since since New Years.

2,3. Ghost > Wilson 12.5.97 CSU Convocation Center, Cleveland, OH

Piranha

11.29.03 Philly - photo: Piranha

This segment was the opener of the first show of an other worldly weekend in Fall ’97 that followed with Detroit and Dayton.  This “Ghost” got things underway quickly with thick grooves over a slower tempo, allowing the musical canvas to breathe and inviting the band to collectively crush it.  Trey gets into some quality rhythmic playing throughout this version, but also takes some perfectly improvised solos, sounding like he is leading a march of soldiers into battle.  This one isn’t talked about too much, but it is a superb version.  A segue into “Wilson” cemented the Phishy and militant feel of this opening portion.

4,5. Reba > Fast Enough For You 7.16.98 The Gorge

Taking on the vast and mellow vibe of its surrounding, this “Reba” settles into a unique funk groove that typifies the feeling of the moment that was Summer ’98.  One of those times where Phish was playing nature, or vice versa, this version diverges from standard form to congruently fit the majesty and laid back atmosphere of the Gorge.  Not ending, Phish continued the jam just until the sun dipped below the horizon, at which point they moved into a beautiful and appropriate “Fast Enough For You.”  This segment is summer Phish at its greatest.

6. Stash 9.9.99 GM Place, Vancouver, BC

The only real highlight of the first set of Fall ’99, this “Stash” is one of the more overtly psychedelic pieces of music they played all show.  Featuring layers upon layers of ambient effects, this jam built into a quintessential ’99 soundscape of seriously menacing music.  This one is a diamond in the rough, as the night is always revered for its standout second set.  Put this one on late at night.

7. Tweezer 9.23.00 Allstate Arena, Rosemont, IL

Craig

11.29.03 Philly - photo: Craig

This was the long awaited first “Tweezer” of Fall ’00.  Waiting until the eleventh show of tour to drop it, this one was long overdue and highly anticipated, as you can hear from the roar of the crowd as it starts.  It did not disappoint.  Traveling through some classic “Tweezer” territory at the onset of the jam, Phish took the second half of the jam out to more exploratory and dirty places.  Locking into psychedelic bass-led drone pattern, the band uses deep distortion and delay to create machine like textures.  ’00 Represent!

8,9,10. Halley’s > Simple > Walk Away 11.11.98 Van Andel Arena, Grand Rapids, MI

This Halley’s is simply stupendous.  Almost a half an hour of madness-inducing music, this version leaves the funk behind for some high-octane shredding.  Bouncing musical ideas around like lottery balls, this jam takes some focus to keep up with.  Unrelenting for the first section, the band does settle into some groovier playing that sees Trey spitting sublime full speed rhythm licks.  Passing through multiple improvisational sections to reach “Simple,” including a beautiful ambient portion, this Halley’s is one for the ages.

11. Slave to the Traffic Light 11.18.98 Bi-Lo Center, Greenville, SC

In a mid-week out of the way show, Phish threw down a huge second set.  Part of a late set “Slave, Fluffhead” combination, things couldn’t get much more uplifting.  A gorgeous version played to a half-empty venue that many walked into without having their ticket checked, this defining atmosphere is one place where Phish does special things.  A tender, slow and delicate build to a soaring peak, this Slave is a personal favorite.

12,13. Piper > What’s the Use 9.11.00 Great Woods Mansfield, MA

Staunchy

12.1.03 Albany - photo: Staunchy

The middle section of a tremendously coherent set of music, this “Piper” is typical of the many breakneck-paced standout versions of ’00- until about half way through.  After the initial psychedelic sprint, the band, led by Mike, broke down into a much slower tempo that proved to be the perfect juxtaposition to the preceding insanity.  Carrying out this slower jam that one would never guess to be “Piper,” the band sits in some bass heavy dance rhythms for an extended period.  Growing more ambient as it goes, the jam eventually slides into a the stunning post-apocalyptic jam-composition, “What’s the Use?”

14. You Enjoy Myself 11.14.98 The Crown, Cincinnati, OH

The Cincy YEM- one of the most interesting YEM’s from Fall ’98.  Right out of the trampoline section, Trey loops some rhythm chords and then begins “telling stories” via his solo on top of his own licks.  Resulting in some infectious dance music, this version had the house bumpin’ right throughout its unique jam.  A dark-horse version from a fall filled with so much amazing Phish, this version is sure to put a smile on your face whether you’ve heard it or not.

15. Down With Disease 5.21.00 Radio City Music Hall, NYC

5.21.00 Radio City Soundcheck

5.21.00 Radio City Soundcheck

The first show after Big Cypress was as hard of a ticket as any in Phish history to that point.  As Phish entered the legendary New York venue to follow up their Everglades adventure, everybody wanted in the 5,900 person theatre.  Batting second in the second set, this blistering Disease just about peeled the paint of the Radio City’s walls.  The energy in the room matched that flowing from the stage, as the highlight of the show filled the hall with enough adrenaline to kick start a dead horse.  A well-known version, this is another gem from the underrated year of 2000.

16. Drowned 12.3.97 The Spectrum, Philadelphia, PA

Smack dab in the swamp funk that dominated Fall ’97, this “Drowned” set the tone for the rest of the danceadelic evening.  Moving away from its characteristic uptempo rock textures into a Phished out groove-fest, this version illustrates how every song was getting the James Brown treatment during this superbly fun two-night stand.  One of the standout jams from the show, this longer version laid the foundation for the continuous flow of funk for the duration of the show.

17,18. 2001 > Velvet Sea 1.1.00 Big Cypress

Quite possibly the greatest finish to any show, this combination of songs reached the spectrum of human emotion under the first sunrise of the new millennium.  With the emotions of all so deeply touched by this epic evening, Phish brought out the first ever sunrise 2001, welcoming us to a new age.  After a surreal dance session, the band wound down with one of their most beautiful and poignant compositions, “Wading In the Velvet Sea.”  Overwhelmingly majestic at this point in time, there was no better song Phish could have played to capture the feeling of the moment.  This is why they are Phish.  As Trey’s solo dripped over us, it was a lullaby reawakening us to the wonders and spectacle of life.  Cleansed, renewed, and entering a new segment of history, Phish capped the most magical evening of their career in the only way possible.

DOWNLOAD MINER’S PICKS: TURKEY ’08 PT. 1 < LINK

DOWNLOAD MINER’S PICKS: TURKEY ’08 PT. 2 < LINK

1. Bathtub Gin 6.30.99

2,3. Ghost > Wilson 12.5.97

4,5. Reba > Fast Enough For You 7.16.98

6. Stash 9.9.99

7. Tweezer 9.23.00

8,9,10. Halleys’s > Simple > Walk Away 11.11.98

11. Slave to the Traffic Light 11.18.98

12,13. Piper > What’s the Use 9.11.00

14. YEM 11.14.98

15. Down With Disease 5.21.00

16. Drowned 12.3.97

17,18. 2001 > Velevet Sea 1.1.00

Out West in April ’92

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , on November 13, 2008 by Mr.Miner

When listening to Phish, I am always apt to pop in something from their latter era of 1994 and beyond. However, the years that Phish spent laying the groundwork for their 1995 peak and subsequent reinvention, were the foundation needed for their later greatness.  And I always forget just how sick early Phish really is!  Beginning to tour in earnest in the Fall of 1990, the band played incessantly in building a loyal grassroots fan base.  Moving through bars, clubs and colleges all over the nation, Phish began to debut new songs, experiment with their musical direction, and integrate quirky, humorous elements into their live show.  With each run of shows in this period of rapid development, Phish seemed to get markedly tighter and more adventurous.

Phish circa 1992

Phish circa 1992

Unquestionably, the band’s first creative peak came in the Spring of 1992.  Armed with an array of new songs, most of which would comprise Rift, and a new “secret language” that directly involved their fans with subtle musical cues, Phish was fomenting a unique identity.  After the month of March, which included many standout shows (see 3.11, 13, 19, 20 and 26,) Phish embarked on a western journey that would comprise the hallowed month of  April.  Moving into Colorado on the 3rd, and California on the 15th, the band existed as a four headed, well-oiled improvisational monster.  With fast-paced, jazz-rooted psychedelia, Phish continued to carve out their ever-evolving musical path.  The band’s energy in this month of shows literally jumps off the many soundboard recordings that have leaked over the years.  Kick-starting their era of “speedjazz” that would culminate in 1993, this band represented a young lion aggressively exploring its world.

1992 Tour Ad Poster

1992 Tour Ad Poster

Each and every 21 shows from April of 1992 have legitimate musical highlights, with the most acclaimed jams coming in the California run from 4.15 through 4.21.  From the well known 4.21 Redwood Acres “Tweezer,” 4.18 Stanford “Harry Hood,” and the 4.16 Anaconda Theatre Mockingbird, to the less circulated 4.13 Tempe “David Bowie,” Tucson’s 4.12 shredding “Antelope,” or the pristine “Foam” from the Warfield on 4.17, amazing moments were aplenty.  Marked with a “sense of urgency” in their playing, Phish was in the middle of discovering what they were musically capable of, both individually, and as a quartet.  Teeming with the enthusiasm, Phish was consitently on-point during this month of insanely tight communication.  Tearing apart the western US, the band created new fans as quickly as they created stellar jams.  With a polished sound, goofy presence, and a fiery demeanor, this Spring run represented Phish in the process of becoming.

Phish circa '91

Phish circa 1991

Before long, 1992 would turn into 1993 and beyond, and this incredibly Phishy run through the wild west would remain a frozen moment in time, capturing an innocence that would gradually pass with the rapid development of their organization and scene.  Marking the most significant musical adventures to date, April 1992 will forever be remembered as some of the best and most exciting Phish ever.

To commemorate such a memorable month, I have compiled Miner’s Picks” April ’92,” totaling five hours of crispy SBDs! These picks should help everyone understand why this month in Phish history is revered to this day.  There are some absolute gems on this one.  The tracks and link are below.  ENJOY!

DOWNLOAD MINER’S PICKS: APRIL ’92 SBD Pt. 1 < LINK

DOWNLOAD MINER’S PICKS: APRIL ’92 SBD Pt. 2 < LINK

1. YEM 4.5 Fox Theatre, Boulder, CO

2. David Bowie 4.5

3. Reba 4.12 U of Arizona Student Center, Tucson, AZ

4. Run Like An Antelope 4.12

5. David Bowie 4.13 After the Gold Rush, Tempe, AZ

6. Fluffhead 4.13

7. Split Open and Melt 4.16 Anaconda Theatre, Isla Vista, CA

8. Col. Forbin’s > Icculus > Famous Mockingbird 4.16

9. Mike’s > H2 > Weekapaug 4.16

10. Foam 4.17.92 The Warfield, San Francisco, CA

11. Reba 4.17

12. David Bowie > Catapult > David Bowie 4.17

13. Tweezer 4.17

14. Rift 4.18 Wilbur Field, Stanford University, Palo Alto, CA

15. Harry Hood 4.18

16. Tweezer 4.21 Redwood Acres, Eureka, CA

17. YEM 4.25 Campus Rec Center, Evergreen College, Olympia, WA

18. Harry Hood 4.25

19, 20. The Landlady > Possum 4.29 First Avenue, Minneapolis, MN

21, 22, 23. Mound > Oh Kee Pah > Llama 4.29

24. Brother 4.17 The Warfield, SF, CA

25. Stash 4.13 Tempe, AZ

====

I want to extend an open invitation for article / post suggestions!  After 100, it’s not as easy to conjure up a creative angle every single day, but so far so good.  if you think you have a topic that in any way relates to Phish that you would like to see featured on Phish Thoughts, drop me a line!  I cannot promise I will use them all. and there are some I am purposely avoiding for now, but I’d LOVE to hear what you have to say. The mailbox is always open at mrminer@phishthoughts.com!

Weekend Nuggets: Phish Returns!

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

As excitement continues to fill the air around us, and our hearts inside, this weekend, instead of putting up a show, I compiled some of my personal favorite Phish jams into a nice 4.5 hour compilation called “Miner’s Picks: Phish Returns! ’08” With no lens on any specific time period, this is just a collection of top notch Phish.  Let’s look at each selection, and understand the context of each.

John DiGiuseppe

2.24.03 NJ - photo:John DiGiuseppe

1. 2001 11.19.97 II Champaign, IL

This killer version of 2001 is the first really big one of Fall ’97 after it was busted out in Utah a few shows earlier.  The tempo of these Champaign grooves are infectious and this almost twenty minute version kicked off a magnificent second set following two stellar nights in Denver.  Mike is thumping away unique and complimentary bass lines to Trey and Page’s funk licks, and Fish is just holding it all perfectly.  This one is smooth as silk.

2. Tweezer 7.25.98 II Austin, TX

In a summer of amazing Tweezers, this Austin version often goes overlooked.  Paced more slowly with the open-air sound of South Park Meadows, this jam starts out by settling into some psychedelic layering with Mike leading the way.  Trey joins in with his “yo-yo” wah guitar licks,  and all of a sudden the band is locked in a tar-thick groove that you can swim in.  A perfect example of cooperative playing, the band absolutely nails this version, and while not the longest ever, this Tweezer is an example of a version without one wasted note.  A dance-party favorite!

8.9.04

8.9.04

3. Stash > Free 11.30.97 II Worcester, MA

This segment of this standout second set is a magnificently dark inward journey.  The Stash reaches a unique place that fuses evil exploration with rhythmic patterns that is rarely seen in Phish jams.  Getting to a very deep place, with some truly unique improvisation, this Stash eventually segues seamlessly, in ambient fashion, into the opening licks of Free.  A powerful transition, this Free features some excessively nasty Fall ’97 funk, while still maintaining the dark overall vibe from the Stash.  Fish owns this Free jam as the band produces some vintage grooves that provide a glimpse into the darker side of Fall ’97.  This overall 30 minute adventure is among the best of the tour.

4. Reba > Walk Away > Simple 10.29.98 II Los Angeles, CA

This segment was by far the highlight of Fall ’98’s tour opener.  Placed into a magnified slot in the second set, the band started off in conventionally gorgeous Reba territory before using the jam as a platform to launch into the most extraordinary psychedelic and eerie textures ever produced out of the song.  Introducing their new abstract style that would work its way into Fall ’98, this Reba was a highlight of the entire tour that took place on night one.  If you’ve never heard this, you won’t believe how ridiculous it is, and if you have heard it, you’ve listened to it a thousand times.  A true Phish masterpiece, this Reba will live on in the annals of Phish history forever.  A pure gem.

5. Wolfman’s Brother 11.13.98 I Cleveland, OH

This Wolfman’s, dropped early in the first set of an oft overlooked show, is a diamond in the rough.  Though, this Cleveland stop wasn’t one of the band’s stronger efforts of the fall, the first set Wolfman’s enters some directed funk that gives way to the descending chord progression that the Dead popularized as the “Mind Left Body Jam.”  Appearing a few times in Phish’s career, this Wolfman’s is one of the clearest examples of the band paying this jam.  Other notable Phish Mind Left Body Jams exist in the 6.18.94 UIC intro to Bowie and the Great Went’s Scent of a Mule.  If you were ever confused about what this “jam” was, this Wolfman’s should clear it up.

6. Split > Catapult 12.31.99 I Big Cypress

A highlight from the entire Florida weekend, this daytime Split set the tone for the evening, and was a hot topic of conversation between the day and night sets.  The initial grooves give way to aggressive improvisation, eventually building to a crescendo and transitioning into some incredibly spiritual and melodic playing by Trey.  As the band locks into this delicate vibe, the jam resolves in a very divine and Phishy place, yet Fish soon picks up the beat and Mike starts a bassline that drives the band out into some completely chunky and blissful territory.  This results in the band honoring the “crack-groove” with the lyrics of Catapult layered atop.  Again, a can’t miss classic!

7. Ghost > Rock and Roll 5.22.00 II Radio City, NY

Radio City

Radio City

Perhaps the most transcendent Ghost ever played, this version is atop many fans’ lists.  Placed late in the second set, the heavy intro shook the foundation of the Music Hall to its core as Phish entered the jam exploring the hyper-complexities of groove.  Entering a Phish-disco feel, this Ghost spins in perfect pace and rhythm as Mike simply lays it down.  The band was focused in this hallowed venue, and tore through, in my opinion, the most adventurous version of Ghost ever.  Not settling simply in funk, the band progresses into a melodic and reflective portion of the jam, just as tight as the funk they left behind.  This second segment of the jam gives it a genuine flow and resolution to the odyssey, creating a journey that touches on a spectrum of emotions, and is not just an all out dance fest.

8. Halley’s Comet 12.7.99 I Portland, ME

This Halley’s is a true dark horse version that I rarely hear or see discussed.  Coming in the first set of the first night of a great Cumberland County two-night stand, I think this jam is often just forgotten.  However, it should not be.  Covering a great deal of territory and diverse textures, this jam extends to almost 30 minutes as it chugs into various realm.   The jam starts off mellow and builds in intensity as it moves along, before settling into a quiet and ambient section about two-thirds of the way in.  The band sits in this darker section, as if searching a cave for a hidden treasure.  After some intense introspection, they find entry into an incredibly triumphant ending segment of the jam.  This Halley’s really touches on all things Phishy, and for some reason, it often gets left behind.  Let’s take it out, and honor it for being a top-notch nugget of December ’99.

9. Bathtub Gin > YEM 11.29.98 II Worcester, MA

Hampton - 8.9.04

Hampton

This is the ending sequence to Phish’s superb Fall Tour  of 1998.  Often using Bathtub Gin to welcome us to tour or to say good-bye, this version reaches some emotional segments that communicate the bittersweet feelings everyone felt during the last show of tour.  A standout version , this Gin hits its peak, and then moves into seven minutes of quieter shimmering exploration without ever losing its beat.  This latter portion served as a calm reflective segment of music to think back over the wonders of the previous month.  Eventually, this builds back into some high-paced pronounced Phish grooves, with the band returning to their energetic jamming before finally quieting into the opening notes of the tour ending You Enjoy Myself.  A perfect combination of huge jams to end a magnificent run, the band lets loose on this YEM, tearing it apart and bouncing the Centrum like a basketball with the precision of an Allen Iverson crossover.  This 40 minute combination of improvisation is as good as it gets.

10. David Bowie 6.24.95 II Philadelphia, PA

This classic rendition of Bowie defines the song’s psychedelic and elegant nature.  Masterfully building the tension of this jam as a band, and letting it out slowly, Phish has complete control throughout this much acclaimed version.  Illustrating the style of Summer ’95, this Bowie was one in a long string of Summer ’95 Bowie adventures, yet, the absolute control and direction the band demonstrates during this improvisation separates it from the more exploratory and meandering versions.  Another can’t miss gem, this Bowie is Phish during a musically crazy time of their career.

11. Run Like an Antelope: 8.20.93 I Red Rocks, CO

In their first visit to Red Rocks, Phish closed the first set with a blistering version of Antelope.  Featuring classic “speed jazz” improvisation from the legendary month of August ’93, this soundboard recording allows you to the intricacies of their playing as they build the jam to a dizzying peak.  A perfect example of the style Phish swam in at this time, this Antelope put a bold exclamation point at the end of their first set in the powerful Morrison amphitheatre.

DOWNLOAD MINER’S PICKS: PHISH RETURNS! ’08 PT. 1< LINK ACTIVE!

DOWNLOAD MINER’S PICKS: PHISH RETURNS! ’08 PT. 2< LINK ACTIVE

IF YOU DOWNLOADED THIS YESTERDAY, YOU MAY NOT HAVE ALL TRACKS B/C THE FILE GOT CORRUPTED!  MAKE SURE TO GRAB THE WHOLE COMPILATION!

1. 2001 11.19.97 II Champaign, IL

2. Tweezer 7.25.98 II Austin, TX

3,4. Stash > Free 11.30.97 II Worcester MA

5,6. Reba > Walk Away > Simple 10.29.98 II Los Angeles, CA

7. Wolfman’s Brother 11.13.98 I Cleveland, OH

8,9. Split Open and Melt > Catapult 12.31.99 Big Cypress, FL

10,11. Ghost > Rock and Roll 5.22.00 II Radio City, NYC

12. Halley’s Comet 12.7.99 I Portland, ME

13,14. Bathtub Gin > YEM 11.29.98 II Worcester, MA

15. David Bowie 6.24.95 II Philadelphia, PA

16. Run Like an Antelope 8.20.93 I Red Rocks, CO


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

========

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

======

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.