Archive for New Years

New Year’s Music

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

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

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

DOWNLOAD “STILL WAITING:  CYPRESS ’09”  (75 minute DJ mix) < LINK

^ fixed / edited version…Peace.

Big Cypress Pt. 2: Realizations

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

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

nugs.net

12.31.99 - photo: nugs.net

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

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

"Tube" 12.31.99

"Tube" 12.31.99

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

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

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

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

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

1.1.00

1.1.00

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

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

Robert Mayer

Midnight - photo: Robert Mayer

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

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

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

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

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

12.31.99

12.31.99

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

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

Danny Clinch

1.1.00 - photo: Danny Clinch

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

The Dawn of a New Millenium

The Dawn of a New Millenium

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

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

=====

phbigcypressDOWNLOAD OF THE DAY:

12.31.99 Big Cypress RMSTR! < LINK

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

*Scotty B made that up.

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

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

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

Big Cypress Pt.1: Expectations

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

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

Sunset 12.30.99

Sunset 12.30.99

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

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

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

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

12.30.99

12.30.99

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

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

Big Cypress Boardwalk

Big Cypress Boardwalk

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

12.30.99

12.30.99 III

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

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

To Be Continued Tomorrow….
=====

phishbigcypressmapos0DOWNLOAD OF THE DAY:

12.30.99 Big Cypress Indian Reservation < LINK

The first night.

12.29: The Phishiest Day of the Year

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , on December 29, 2008 by Mr.Miner
dscn1397

12.29.03 - photo:Matt Collins

In the annals of Phish history, no dates have gone down with such a legacy as December 29th.  While many other dates provided routine annual highlights, none quite approached epic musical nature of the 29th.  Those mid-August festival dates only started in 1996, and the other New Year’s Run dates, while each holding a character of their own, did not consistently produce the magic of December 29th.  Was it the best show of each New Year Run?  Well, most of the time, yes– but even when it wasn’t, the 29th brought the fire.  Phish had warmed up with one show, and felt none of the pressure of New Year’s Eve.  Although the 30th is a special night, reserving its own place in my heart, the 29th is truly the Muhammad Ali of Phish dates.  Lets take a trip through 29ths past (going back to 1994 to make this post manageable.)

12.29.94 Providence Civic Center, Providence, RI

What more needs to be said about this show than “The Providence Bowie.”  A jam that has come to define the deepest of Phish psychedelia, this gargantuan “David Bowie” anchors this show all by itself.  A terrifying voyage far into the unknown, this jam wraps darkness, bliss, terror and melody into one transcendent ball of ’94 Phish.  Right up there with the best segments of improvisation in the band’s history, this Bowie is IT, pure and unadulterated.  While this show and subsequent Live Phish release is dominated by the Bowie, this show has some first set treats as well.  The classic opening combo of Jim > Foam laid the path for a gorgeous rendition of “If I Could” and a raucous Split Open.  This ’94 installment was an instant classic!

I: Runaway Jim > Foam, If I Could, Split Open and Melt, The Horse > Silent in the Morning, Uncle Pen, I Didn’t Know, Possum

II. Guyute, David Bowie, Halley’s Comet, Lizards, Cracklin’ Rosie, Good Times Bad Times

E: My Long Journey Home*, Sleeping Monkey   (*Acoustic)

***

12.29.95 The Centrum, Worcester, MA

42951086The 1995 New Year’s Run was so outstanding and the New Year’s Show blew up so huge, that it is hard to say that 12.29 was the standout show.  However, when assessing the three shows previous to New Year’s Eve, this outing stands out as a Phishy ride through the dark side, highlighted by one of the jams of the run.  As many sinister shows do, this one opened with “My Friend, My Friend,” setting the tone for the evening.  A strong first set brought a texture-laden “Stash” that featured some tremendous piano work by Page.  After using a “Fluffhead” to resolve “Stash”s psychedelia, the band closed the set with a furious “Llama.”

While the first set is great, this show is famous for its second.  The truly epic segment of “Bathtub Gin > The Real Me > Gin,” affectionately known as “The Real Gin” is the gem of this show.  A tremendous jam that has survived the test of time, Phish gave a nod to their Halloween costume by bringing out one of Quadrophenia‘s quintessential songs.  The Gin built strongly, yet innocently, and soon the powerful music transformed into The Who’s song that no one saw coming.  The rest of the set followed up with a series of special songs as the band first dropped McGrupp to chill the room out for a few.  But before too long, the raging musical nighttime returned in the form of a zany BBFCFM, lending its bizarre vibe to this ride.  As the madness dwindled, Mike’s bass instructor, Jim Stinnett, emerged for a bass duel with Gordeaux.  Providing an out of the ordinary portion of the show, the bassists revved up ZZ Top’s “La Grange,” busting out the cover before closing up with some shorter songs.  This set wrapped up the Worcester portion of the run as Phish prepared to conquer Madison Square Garden in their biggest shows to date.

I: My Friend My Friend, Poor Heart, Down With Disease, Fog That Surrounds, NICU, Stash, Fluffhead, Llama, Sweet Adeline

II: Makisupa Policeman, Cars Trucks Buses, Bathtub Gin > The Real Me > Bathtub Gin, McGrupp and the Watchful Hosemasters, Big Black Furry Creature From Mars, Bass Duo*> La Grange, Bouncing Around the Room, Fire

E: Golgi Apparatus

*Mike and Jim Stinett, Mike’s bass instructor.

***

12.29.96 The Spectrum, Philadelphia, PA.

42951167This standout Spectrum show is almost always thought of as the best of ’96’s run.  With a classic second set Phish-fest, everyone was amped on their way up to Boston to close out the year.  Really, the whole second set is a continuous highlight with stellar versions of “David Bowie” and “Bathtub Gin.”  Once the YEM turned into a rotation jam and they dropped “Harpua,” this one got a plaque in the New Year’s Run Hall of Fame.  Tight, directional playing characterized this second set which was so strong it overshadowed a rather lackluster first.  A great night in a classic building.

I: Poor Heart, Caravan, Cavern, Taste, Guelah Papyrus, Train Song, Rift, Free, The Squirming Coil, La Grange

II: David Bowie, A Day in the Life, Bathtub Gin, Lizards, You Enjoy Myself* > Sixteen Candles > Vocal Jam, Harpua***> Champagne Supernova# > Harpua

E: Rocky Top

*With rotation jam. **Mike solo on piano. ***Story about everybody in town. Jimmy, Poster Nutbag, Harpua, etc., go to hell, where they all see the “Uber-Demon” (Tom Marshall). # Oasis cover, sung by Tom Marshall, the “Uber-Demon”.

***

12.29.97 MSG, NYC

dscn1411Simply put, this is among the best shows ever played.  Culminating a massive year at MSG, this night kicked off the three-night affair and stole the show.  While the following night was a clear standout with unparalleled adrenaline, when it comes down to musical improv, it simply can’t compete.  Opening with the playful trio of “NICU,” Golgi, and “Crossroads,” Phish began to scribe one of the most memorable chapters of their career.  A soaring mid-set Theme paved the way for a powerful triumvirate to end the set.  A near flawless “Fluffhead” pumped up the arena, as Phish took a pensive breather in”Dirt” before annihilating a set-closing Antelope.  Arguably the greatest Antelope of the modern era (post-’95), this rendition of the song closed the first frame on the highest possible note.  The band followed up the blistering jam with a classic ’97 funk breakdown in the closing segment of the song.  At this point, The Garden was on!

What happened after setbreak was a work of sheer artistry.  A ballistic “Down With Disease” jam, in the tradition of so many great ’97 Diseases, transcended the composed uptempo rock and entered into a murky, slowed down treat.  Taking things from a much chiller point of view, the band collectively wove a  masterful tapestry of sound and texture.  A triumphant point within the entire year, this jam showcased so much off what made ’97 so special.  Turning into something far more than the sum of their parts, Phish explored the depth of groove in the minimalist second half of jam.  As most top-notch ’97 jams did, this segment moved out of the funk into some snarling music, featuring a nasty solo from Red.

42950915As the twenty-plus minute unfinished exploration wound down, a similarly formidable jam geared up as Phish morphed into what everyone knew would be a colossal “David Bowie.”  With the band as on as they were this night, a mid-second set Bowie was the perfect call.  Delicately setting the mood of the jam, the band passed around some initial musical ideas before collectively diving forth.  A contender for jam of set (it is stiff competition), Phish masterfully crafted an intricate Bowie that was both patient and urgent, simultaneously.  Remaining in and around the song’s general path, the band stylistically improvised on the Bowie theme, building a monster jam that headed for the peak with a missle on its back.  Yet, as the band built up one of the breaks of the climax, instead of ripping back into the song, they took a left turn, bursting with energy directly into “Possum.”

The band was clicking on all cylinders at this point and having a blast.  Trey playfully strummed rhythm licks as Mike began the song over a very clean and open musical groove.  As soon as the jam started, the band began toying with “Can’t Turn You Loose,” an Otis Redding jam associated with The Blues Brothers.  Instead of a bluegrass interlude, this “Possum” would become a playful, crowd-pleasing and Phishy segment as they alternated between the two songs.  Favoring a more rhythmic style, fitting in course with the evening, this jam seemed to be a natural flowing extension of the band’s virtuoso improvisation on this night.

Finally stopping after a “Can’t Turn You Loose” reprise, the band caught their breath for the first time in the entire set.  In the small time they had to figure out what to play next, they couldn’t have made a more shrewd decision.  Following some of the most inspired playing of the year, they sat into the mother of all late-97 “Tube”s, spinning The Garden like a gyroscope.  “Move over Dayton!” and “Take off Albany!”– a new sheriff was in town.  The band took us for a ten minute swim through the thickest swamp funk of the year.  Paced at an infectious tempo, this “Tube” is the standard that all others will forever be held to.  The entire venue bounced as if on a trampoline, as this set immediately grew in stature.  A bombastic MSG YEM to close– peace!  Put this one in the record books.

I: NICU, Golgi Apparatus, Crossroads, Cars Trucks Buses, Train Song, Theme From the Bottom, Fluffhead, Dirt, Run Like an Antelope

II: Down With Disease > David Bowie > Possum > I Can’t Turn You Loose* > Possum#, Tube, You Enjoy Myself

E: Good Times Bad Times

*A jam, from this song often associated with the “Blues Brothers,” but truly an Otis Redding cover. #”I Can’t Turn You Loose” reprised after “Possum.”

***

12.29.98 MSG, NY

Although I believe that the 28th was the show of this run, the popular choice is once again 12.29!  A perfectly flowing second set was punctuated by one of the best YEMs ever played.  A set opening “Free” took the road less traveled, leaving the funk behind for more a more dissonant path.  A soaring merger of “Limb By Limb” and 2001 provided the meat of the set before Stevie Wonder’s “Boogie On Reggae Woman” funkified the filler before the YEM.   A rare “Divided Sky” encore put a special cap on a special night.

I: Rock and Roll > Funky Bitch, Punch You in the Eye > Horn, Ginseng Sullivan, Split Open and Melt, Brian and Robert, Guyute, My Soul, Freebird**

II: Free, Limb by Limb > Also Sprach Zarathustra, Boogie On Reggae Woman, You Enjoy Myself

E: The Divided Sky

**A capella.

***

12.29.03 American Airlines Arena, Miami, FL

12.29.03

12.29.03

Five years later, post-hiatus in Miami, the 29th stood out once again.  A refreshing run of shows after a underwhelming Turkey Run, all four Miami shows were solid from start to finish.  Yet ask most fans which was their favorite night, and you’re bound to get more “29ths” than anything else. (I would lean toward the 28th.) This year’s 29th featured a well crafted seco0nd set with segues galore.  Without any of the initial jams going anywhere spectacular, Phish pulled off fun transitions between “Rock and Roll, ” “Twist,” and Boogie On, creating an air of collective fun in the “intimate” arena.

But the meat of the set was the not-so-booming combo of “Ghost > Free.”  The Ghost jam began patiently with a pulsing bass and bluesy feel before building into something far more.  Trey elevated his playing in the second half of this jam before the entire band took a turn for a more groovy and uptempo place.  A far cry from the militant Ghosts of yesteryear, this dirty version provided the most inspired and psychedelic improv of the night, leading into a slowly bouncing “Free.”  The centerpiece “Free” jam gave Trey and Mike a chance to create a one-on-one jam right on the spot before diving back into the depths. A nicely juxtaposed “Divided Sky” followed, giving the set a splash of old-school Phishiness.  The longest jam of the night actually came in the the show opening “Piper,” extending to over fifteen minutes of shredding.

I: Piper, Foam, Anything But Me, Limb By Limb, Wolfman’s Brother, Poor Heart, Cavern

II: Rock and Roll > Twist > Boogie On Reggae Woman > Ghost > Free, The Divided Sky, Good Times Bad Times

E: Waste, The Squirming Coil

***

While I am always against ranking Phish shows (it just seems like a futile effort) December 29th always provided us with a standout memory on each and every New Year’s Run.  Cheers to this year’s anniversary, and here’s to 12.29.09 being the best one yet!

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DOWNLOADS OF THE DAY:

12.29.95 The Centrum, Worcester, MA < LINK

12.29.98 MSG, NYC SBD < LINK

dscn1434012.29.03 – photo: Matt Collins

Weekend Nuggets: December 30th

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , on December 20, 2008 by Mr.Miner

DOWNLOADS OF THE WEEKEND:

msg_copy_7895455x310I have always maintained that the best nights happen on the 30th.  New Year’s Eve is too fleeting, once it’s over, it’s over.  12.29 could make a strong argument for best musical night ever given its history, but there is something about the 30th– the night before New Year’s.  Often reserved for darker shows, leaving the happy stuff for the 31st, Phish loved this date.  As we head into the end of the year, let’s listen to some great 12.30’s.! (’92 and ’93 are already on the site! Use the Search Bar)


12.30.94 MSG, NYC
< LINK

The band’s first visit to Madison Square Garden came on the 30th.  Following a torrential year of touring, the band soared into their New Year’s Run only three weeks after finishing fall tour.  Big versions of YEM, “Tweezer” and “Harry Hood” carry the second set of a show that had a tough act to follow in 12.29.94’s Providence show.

I: Wilson > Rift, AC/DC Bag, Sparkle, Simple, Stash, Fee> Scent of a Mule, Cavern

II: Sample in a Jar, Poor Heart > Tweezer, I’m Blue I’m Lonesome*, You Enjoy Myself, Purple Rain > HYHU, Harry Hood, Tweezer Reprise

E: Frankenstein

*Acoustic.

***

12.30.95 MSG, NYC < LINK

For the second year in a row, Phish found themselves at MSG for the 30th; this time for a two-night stand into 1996.  This year’s version of 12.30 was a stellar show with two sets of chock-full Phish.  An early show “2001 > Suzy > David Bowie” got things spinning fast, while “It’s Ice > Kung > It’s Ice” continued the dark path.  The second set was a keeper, with in my opinion, the most magnificent “Harry Hood” ever holding it down.

I: Prince Caspian > Also Sprach Zarathustra > Suzy Greenberg > David Bowie, Simple, It’s Ice > Kung > It’s Ice, TMWSIY > Avenu Malkenu > TMWSIY, The Divided Sky, Sample in a Jar

II: Ya Mar*, Free, Harry Hood > AC/DC Bag, Lifeboy, Scent of a Mule, Cavern, Run Like An Antelope

E: A Day in the Life

*With “Auld Lang Syne” tease.

***

12.30.96 Fleet Center, Boston MA < LINK

Another great 12.30 effort, featuring two full sets of great Phish.  A quality “Reba” and “Theme” in set one made way for a “Timber Ho” opener is set two and the then rare “Guyute” moving right into a big “Tweezer.”  A Slave put a cap on another great 30th.

I: Ya Mar, The Sloth, Llama, Gumbo, Reba, Talk*, Funky Bitch**, Theme From the Bottom, Good Times Bad Times

II: Timber (Jerry), Uncle Pen, AC/DC Bag, Guyute, Tweezer > Lifeboy, Scent of a Mule#, Slave to the Traffic Light

E: Possum

*With Trey on acoustic guitar. **The PA cuts out. The band continues playing for a few minutes while it is reconnected and end up miming playing. #Comedian Steven Wright came out and rang a bell twice.

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VIDEO OF THE WEEKEND:

“Tweezer” 12.30.94 MSG Pt.1

“Tweezer” Pt.2

“Tweezer” Pt.3

As the Clock Struck Midnight…

Posted in Uncategorized with tags on October 31, 2008 by Mr.Miner
M. Mitchell

Miami '03

In the many traditions of Phish, none were greater than their three-set New Year’s Eve Show.  Having performed on this night of revelry every year from 1989 through 1999, and again in 2002 and 2003, so many memories and legendary moments have taken place on 12.31.   Each New Year’s Run culminated as the clock struck midnight, and the band oozed into Auld Lang Syne as fans popped celebratory champagne, hugged and kissed their friends while all felt warm and fuzzy inside.  Yet, the moment that always cemented the Phish New Year was the song they bust into directly after the classic holiday tune.  With choices ranging from incredibly creative choices to some incredible train-wrecks, there was always great anticipation for this “moment after” New Years.  Let’s look at some.

MSG '02

MSG '02

12.31.1993 Worcester Centrum: In what is by far the greatest post-New Year’s moment in Phish history, on this night, they opened the third set with Auld Lang Syne, and as the song ended in all is celebratory gusto, Phish ripped into the debut of the Down With Disease jam- without ever having played the song!  I was not there, but I must imagine that it was the best experience ever to hear the Disease lick rip into the jam for the first time as the peak of the biggest party of the year.  Complete with shredding Auld Lang Syne teases, this choice was absolutely genius, as no one knew what was going on and were all experiencing what would go down as one of the most classic segments of blissful Phish ever.  The band did not debut Down With Disease until the next show, April 4th of 1994, at the Flynn Theatre in Burlington, VT.  Not only the most clever, but also the Phishiest move ever, this post-New Years moment takes the cake.

Jason Carlson

Miami '03 - photo: Jason Carlson

1995 MSG, NYC: Leaving the epic set II Mike’s Song hanging in the second set, after twenty minutes of scorching improv and a digital delay jam that left a silhouetted Trey on stage solo, the crowd was left in awe of what they had witnessed.  As the band came out for the third set, they did their mad scientist routine, and Fishman was born as the New Year’s baby.  But as they peaked Auld Lang Syne, FIshman slid into the quickened beat of Weekapaug as the crowd responded rambunctiously to the completion of the last set’s Mike’s.  Transforming into one of the most heavily improvised Weekapaugs ever, eventually segueing into only other performance of The Who’s, “Sea and Sand,” this post-New Years moment could be the most musically significant of them all.

1996 Fleet Center, Boston, MA: Using the “jam of the year,” the band put together a shredding end of 1996 and beginning of 1997.  Beginning with a newly-jammed out 2001 with a countdown on all the arena clocks, the band soared into the new year in space.  Moving through the Auld Lang Syne, the band quickly dropped into Down With Disease.  An unquestionable focus of the year, they used the launch pad as their New Year’s celebration three years after debuting the jam at the same time.  Setting the tone for a blistering Suzie and Antelope, and the surprise Bohemian Rhapsody, this was one of the best third sets of New Years’ past.

Big Cypress '99

Big Cypress

1999 Big Cypress, FL: A trampoline into the next millennium, this post-midnight moment came as the show was just beginning.  Choosing a monstrous and reflective Down With Disease to ring in 2000, this moment was as significant as any listed, as we were embarking on the longest Phish voyage of all time.  Featuring tight, unique jamming, this started this magnificent night perfectly.

Miami Midnight Madness

Miami Midnight Madness

2003 Miami, FL: After four days of fun in the sun and incredible Phish music, the New Years’ moment in this show gets on the list for sheer absurdity.  After opening the set with the out-of-nowhere cover of “Jungle Boogie,” the arena was bumping.  With an entire marching band climbing out of a tiny car onstage, and costumed dancers along side, Phish celebrated their Miami New Year’s by ripping into Black Sabbath’s “Iron Man,” with the marching band’s accompaniment.  The combination of the pre- and post New Year’s songs had the crowd confused and crazy. Before too long, the band leaped into their classic, Runaway Jim, using a familiar yet raging jam to bring everyone back to their Phish reality.

Miami '03

Miami '03

1997 MSG: After slaughtering the second frame of this show with set opening Timber and a rest-of-set Mike’s Groove sandwich, the anticipation for the third set of this New Year’s was huge.  It would go down as the final chapter in one of the best years of Phish’s career.  And they still hadn’t played the quintessential ’97 groove machine, Tweezer.  As expected, the band came out to a 2001, and had the crowd in the palm of their hand as they dropped into the post-Auld Lang Syne Tweezer that was bound for glory, but it sucked.  One of the biggest anti-climaxes in 12.31 history, Trey spent most of the song jokingly popping massive, obtrusive balloons that had descended and engulfed the stage.  With no coherent jam and a lack of a Trey presence almost all together, this Tweezer was a huge disappointment in one of the best New Year’s Runs ever.

1998 MSG: With about as much zest as the year before, Phish finished a stellar four nights by ripping into Simple as the year’s post New Years song.  A sloppy juxtaposition to the two sets of fire than preceded it, this aimless balloon-ridden jam had a serious lack of “rage” to the shows New Year’s celebration.  This jam set the tone for a forgettable third set that is easily left behind in favor of the rest of the show.

Sometimes on point, and sometimes past their New Year’s Eve prime, Phish made every midnight juncture memorable.  Each winter, if there was one thing you could could count on, it was Phish on New Year’s Eve.  Regardless of what Northeastern city was the destination or what venue hosted the festivities, Phish on New Year’s became an institution for even casual fans.  With this comeback gaining momentum with rumors of March 28 and 29th at MSG, one can only assume that come December, we will all be gathering somewhere to ring in the new year once again.

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DOWNLOAD OF THE DAY:

6.16.00 Zepp, Osaka, Japan, MATRIX < LINK

Zepp Osaka

Zepp Osaka

The final show of their only Japan tour, the show is a keeper.  With a beautiful opening Limb, a great first set Reba and a thematically flowing second set, there is a lot to listen to in this show. With an extended Runaway Jim that goes into some pseudo-electro grooves, the improvisation is on throughout this one. Great version of Slave, Bug and Hood also highlight the second set.

I: Limb by Limb, Back on the Train, Sample in a Jar, First Tube, Golgi Apparatus, Heavy Things, Dirt, My Sweet One, Bowie Tease > Reba, Character Zero

II: Runaway Jim, Theme from the Bottom, Dog Faced Boy, Driver, Slave to the Traffic Light, Julius, Bug

E: Bouncing Around the Room, Harry Hood

The Comeback…Again

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , on October 7, 2008 by Mr.Miner

So Phish is coming back…again.  I can’t seem to think about much else these days.  Sitting already with fluttering anticipation of the Hampton shows, I can’t help but think back to New Years Eve 2002-2003 at MSG- the first comeback, and subsequent Hampton run.  The occasion could not have been bigger- Phish’s comeback in the Garden- the thought of it was almost too intimidating.  Yet, while Phish wound up having a wonderfully adventurous 2003, closing in sunny style with four standout shows in Miami, the beginning was not as hot.  The band, obviously as anxious as we all were, played a very “safe” comeback show, and proceeded to produce very little in Hampton that held up to our memories.  Lasting only a year and a half in their return, maybe the band jumped the gun- who knows?  2009’s return, four and a half years later, has a distinctly different feel to it; the band seems to have faced the personal demons that were eating away at their fun and cohesion, and dealt with them.  How long will it last- nobody knows, “the only rule is it begins.”

Jeremy

12.31.02 MSG - photo: Jeremy

Yet, let’s hope this third beginning is musically stronger than their second beginning, even if for the sake of hype and impossible tickets.  When the band returned to MSG in 2002, with no less hype, and not much easier of a ticket, they seemed tentative, unwilling to take any real musical risks.  For a band that made a career on musical risk-taking, this stark difference over the inverted New Year’s Run was palpable.  Returning with a Piper that most people heard only half of, due to the extended roar of the maddened crowd, the band opened with one of the few real jams of the evening.  The rest of first comeback set stayed very conservative, with a short set ending Bowie being the only other jam vehicle taken off the shelf.

The second set back brought slightly more adventure.  Beginning with an enchanting new song, “Waves,” whose composition and structured jam was a beautiful preview of Phish 2.0, the set moved into Divided Sky, juxtaposing the new and the old with a united theme of nature’s spirituality.  A Carini kindled memories of the colossal MSG odyssey of 12.28.98, and a late set Hood brought back the uplifting, albeit brief, improvisation of Phish- but it was really the only jam of the set.

12.31.02 MSG

12.31.02 MSG

The third set of the show brought out the best Phish of the night, as they used the debut of “Seven Below,” complete with a surreal indoor snowstorm to bring us into the new year.  On cue, the band busted into Runaway Jim as the post-Auld Lang Syne song, featuring the most interesting jam of the night as the percussive and groovy jam segued smoothly and unexpectedly into the lyrically appropriate Little Feat cover, “Time Loves A Hero.”  A solid Taste followed, before the set ended with the poignant debut of “Walls of the Cave,” within close proximity to the song’s allegorical subject of the Twin Towers.  Walls also brought some new improvisation into the mix, capping the show with one of its highlights.  A  Velvet Sea encore thematically fit the end of this emotional evening.

It was great to have Phish back- it was better than great- and Hampton was sure to blow up!  The first night was bound to be a bit tentative we convinced ourselves- wait till they get to Hampton with no pressure on them.  Well, we all got to Hampton, and the shows were no more adventurous than the one up north.  Playing it very safe, it was almost unfathomable that a Phish three-night run at Hampton could produce so few memorable jams.  In fact, thinking quickly off the top of my head, I remember the second set of the first night, with the unique 46 Days jam, My Friend, Thunderhead and Antelope, and that’s about it.  When I go back and look at the setlists, they played most of their big songs- Tweezer, YEM, Mike’s, Split, Disease, Twist, Free, and more.  The Wolfman’s was arena rock fun, and they ended the last show with 2001, but it didn’t feel the same.  I distinctly remember listening to these after the shows, as they were the first livePhish soundboard releases.  They sounded clean, but they confirmed what I had thought at the shows. There was nothing to write home about- no fire, no adventure, no explosiveness, and very little psychedelia.  After a few listens, these discs found a place in a stack of CDs on a random spool in my apartment rather quickly, never to be heard from again – the only time that has ever happened with Phish.

Before the band came out ripping the LA Forum and Thomas & Mack Center to start the Winter ’03 tour, letting us know that things were back to normal- many questioned whether Phish had lost their magic. Others wrote off the shows as obviously indicative of the time off- what were you expecting, right?  Everyone seemed to have their own opinions and theories of these comeback shows, and their significance, before the rest of 2003 brought back the Phish we knew and loved.

John DiGiuseppe

1.3.03 Hampton - photo: John DiGiuseppe

Hopefully, these three Hampton shows won’t be as anti-climactic as the last three comeback shows at the Coliseum.  Hopefully, the band will reunite in the Barn and sharpen their teeth before next March.  I have a strong feeling that they will- there is a sense of redemption in the air- and Phish is known for stepping up to the occasion.  I predict there will be more jaws hanging on the Coliseum floor then in the initial days of 2003.  With the likely announcement of shows in New York, Philly, and Boston over the rest of the weekends in March, I feel that the band will surely be ready to destroy their biggest markets.  They wouldn’t play it safe over the course of an entire month; they are back for different reasons this time.  They weren’t on “hiatus,” they didn’t have to come back; they were done.  Without any pressure, this time, everyone has pure motivations.  They don’t need the money- they need the Phish.

1.3.03

1.3.03

As the band prepares for what will likely be the final chapter of their career, a youthful exuberance has engulfed the community again.  Like a collective dream come true, we will all go to Phish shows again.  I get the sense  the band feels that the same exact dream has come true for them- they, as well, will get to go to Phish shows again.  Each time the lights go out, it will be a privilege for us all, an unexpected gift from the universe, at a time when the world at large seems to be moving in the opposite direction.  But as the darkness gives way to Kuroda’s colorful washes of reverie, nothing else will matter- we will all be right we are supposed to be. Our world will be right again.

The First Comeback: 12.31.02 MSG – photo: Jeremy

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DOWNLOAD OF THE DAY:

3.13.92 Campus Club, Providence, RI SBD < LINK

A classic tape and a personal favorite of the analog era, this a classic show from the amazing Spring of ’92 highlights Phish’s musical intensity, zany humor, and unique creativity.  One of those shows where the first and second sets seem flipped, the band’s opening frame featured great versions of Split, Maze, Fluffhead, and Antelope.  With a second set that includes a full “Secret Language” explanation within the Possum intro, this show represents a young Phish playing their hearts out on the long path to success.

I: The Curtain, Split Open and Melt, Poor Heart, Guelah Papyrus, Maze, Dinner and a Movie, The Divided Sky, Mound, Fluffhead*, Run Like an Antelope** > Big Black Furry Creature From Mars > Run Like an Antelope**

II: Wilson > Brother, The Horse > Silent in the Morning, The Landlady, Lizards, My Mind’s Got a Mind of its Own, The Sloth, Rift, Cold as Ice > Love You > Cold as Ice, Possum#

E: Contact, Fire

*Trey teases “We’re Off to See the Wizard.” **With “Simpsons” language. #Trey explains the “Secret Language.”