“Split Open and Melt” is undeniably one of Phish’s most unique songs. Blending the lines between funk, fusion and Phish, the song stands out as one of the band’s most original compositions. “Melt” contains several extremely complex sections as well as a very odd time signature, making the song very difficult to play. Perhaps the most intense, and aggressive of any Phish composition, “Melt” has paved the way for some very heavy jams in the past. Featuring an intense, dark jam that dives down into the depths of exploratory jamming, “Melt” always makes for an interesting listen. However, the band has admittedly struggled with the song’s complexity. As Mike mentioned in a recent interview with Bass Player (click here to read the interview):
“Songs such as “Foam” and “Split Open and Melt” are intense; I have to memorize each song like a story because there are no consistent time or key signatures. The rhythms are easier to remember than the melodies. The instrumental section of “Split Open and Melt” is a good example of how I have to bounce around. As soon as something appears to be regular—such as a whole-tone scale—there are some chromatic notes added in that make it irregular.”
To be honest, there are SO many good versions of this song. Most notably, 7/15/92 from Charlottesville, 4/21/93 from Columbus, 12/14/95 from Binghamton, and 12/31/99 from Big Cypress, the list goes on. The jam from from Columbus was featured on their studio album Hoist, coming after the song “Demand” (check out this great article on it from a few months back on Phish Thoughts). There are so many other magical versions of the song. In ’94, just the jam portion was played after “Demand”, similar to the version on Hoist. These two versions from 4/14/94 and 6/26/94 are both smoking hot, exhibiting the fierce jam in the context of a different frame.
However, the “Melt” from 6.11.94 at Red Rocks sets itself apart from the rest. The composed section is played at a faster tempo, and is nailed perfectly. The “Melt” jam is generally one of the best displays of Trey’s shredding abilities, and this version is no different. He noticeably takes a step back and lets the gritty beat emerge from underneath. As a result, Trey delivers some ripping lead lines while letting Mike lay down a heavy bass groove. The jam heads outside as they fully exploit the unique rhythm and chord changes in the song. Mike locks into a very outside groove, with phrasing reminiscent of Dave Holland in Miles Davis’ band. In a ’94 interview with Steve Silberman (read the interview here), Trey had the following to say about the song:
“We just discovered how to play Split Open and Melt, because it’s got this really weird time change that was throwing us off. But that one on Hoist at the end, that was the first time it clicked. Split Open and Melt went from being a big pain in our butt to like, this was it, this was how you play Split Open and Melt. For the next year, it was incredible. We played one at Red Rocks…. It was just screaming. That had gotten to that point from the one on Hoist, from Columbus, Ohio. That was the night that it broke through. I actually, this is what happened: The one at Red Rocks was the end of the cycle. It peaked, and it never got as good as that again. It hasn’t yet. And this tour, it didn’t have it anymore. It didn’t have the magic. It’s weird. We figured it out, and then it went through this big cycle starting in Columbus and ending in Red Rocks, and this tour, it’s back on the back burner again. We’re not playing it that much.”
After taking the jam to a new level of improvisational discovery in Columbus, the band began to speed up the tempo and use the song as a launch pad for aggressive, outside jams. “Melt” is clearly a vehicle for musical release. Perhaps the best example of this is the version from Coventry, also known as the “blow off some steam jam”. The Big Cypress “Melt” is arguably just as good as Red Rocks ’94, but exhibits an entirely different style of jamming focused more on ambiance. The ’94-’95 phase is marked by dark-horse style improv that lead to unrestricted, yet methodical jams. The ’94 Red Rocks “Melt” characterizes this style in its truest form, and undoubtedly remains one of the best versions of the song to this day.
Listen to “Split Open and Melt” from 6.11.94 from Red Rocks Amphitheater.
Here’s a video of “Split Open and Melt” from 2.16.97 Wartesaal, Cologne, Germany
In case you hadn’t noticed, we have started a news page. The speculative Phish spring 2010 European tour dates are up. Click here to check out the news page, or click the link on the right side of the page. Now onto today’s Saturday Special:
“I think you’ll find this a rare musical experience”. Today, we feature a treat for all the Jerry lovers out there. The sound of Jerry’s guitar is instantly distinguishable, and for many of us, creates a feeling like no other. The shows (early and late) from 4.10.82, from the Capitol Theater in Passaic, NJ, is perhaps one of the best examples of Jerry’s raw acoustic guitar playing. Appearing by himself, with only his acoustic guitar, Jerry treated the audience to a night packed with incredible moments. This show is a very intimate musical experience. In his soft, comforting voice, and his signature Takamine guitar, Jerry sings sweet songs, that rock the soul.
According to many, this show is the only known solo performance by Jerry after forming the Grateful Dead. All other shows include at least one other musician on stage making this show quite a rarity. The rumor has it that John Kahn was supposed to perform, but was unable to make it, so Jerry went through anyway. It is said that Jerry felt uncomfortable and so he never performed solo again. These shows are absolutely amazing, offering a great look at Jerry’s acoustic guitar playing. The SBDS, available for download below, help to cherish this rare moment.
Listen to “Gomorrah” from the late show on 4.10.82.
Listen to “Reuben and Cherise” from the early show on 4.10.82
Here’s a video, from a few days after the Capitol Theater show, of Jerry and Bob performing “Deep Elem Blues” on Letterman 4.13.82.
Here’s the Dead performing “Jack-a-Roe” at Hampton Coliseum 10.9.89.
Yesterday, Phish announced the tracklisting for their bonus album Party Time. Featuring three new songs the band debuted this summer: Jon’s “Party Time”, Trey’s “Alaska”, and Page’s “Wind City” as well as some other new and old songs, it is clear the band has regained their creative spark. It is quite amazing to have a band that just reunited in March already releasing two full studio albums. The reason for this, perhaps, is due to the fact that some of these songs appear to be unfinished projects that have been lingering for some time.
During the Bearsville sessions that lead to the release of The Story of the Ghost the band was flowing with creativity. Shows around this time, the Island tour for example, are some of the band’s best performances. Party Time features songs from the Bearsville sessions, a song from the undermind sessions, and songs from the band member’s side projects. It seems as though this is the album more directed at the band’s devoted fan base. The songs are noticeably less poppy, and quite Phishy.
Here is a look at some of the songs off Party Time.
In a Misty Glade
Originally recorded during the Bearsville sessions. It’s an odd song, sung by Jon, with acoustic and electric guitar, as well as subtle organ providing the backing. The song has a very nice, psychadelic melody, that follows with an interesting guitar pattern throughout. The lyrics are soothing, and more direct than most of the songs Jon sings. There are two different takes of the song from the Bearsvile sessions. Both feature a similar acoustic guitar line, with Jon’s signature rough-edged singing. Each member contributes minimally to the song, providing a soft, ambient-like texture reminiscent of Floyd. I really enjoy this song, its very unique. I look forward to seeing it live.
Here’s the first version of “In a Misty Glade”.
Performed twice by Trey with his solo band on 8.7.08 and 10.21.08. “Gone” is a revealing song, with a look into some of Trey’s darker moments. It features a standard rock pattern, and Trey pours his heart out over it. From the moment I first heard this song, I had a feeling it might become a Phish song. It has a great sound that goes along with the band’s new direction and clearly contains an important message. Judging by the lyrics, this song has some deep meaning for Trey. The words “Running from yourself, all those sleepless nights, all that pain” provides a glimpse into the struggles Trey has faced in recent years. Trey has said, as you grow you develop an urge to release your emotions through lyrics. “Gone” is an example of the hardships Trey has overcome, and a painful release of the emotions that he has experienced.
Here’s “Gone” from 10.21.08 at Lupo’s Heartbreak Hotel.
The final song recorded before the band broke up in 2004. Trey shared this with us on his broadcasts on Sirius radio. According to Trey the band had nearly broken up, and the song was recorded with each member in a separate room. It was recorded at Mike’s house on his computer. The song features a barbershop arrangement with lyrics reminiscent of the band’s older songwriting. Trey says the idea was to create a big-band type sound, within the context of a barbershop arrangement. “Birdwatcher” is a quirky take on a classic sound that makes for a very interesting listen.
Listen to “The Birdwatcher”.
I am not sure that this is the same song that will be on Party Time, but the lyrics would indicate that it is. The Bearsville sessions have it titled “Fishman Tune 1″ but it contains the lyrics “Knock you off your shrine”. The song features a reggae-style beat with Jon’s playful lyrics on top. The drum pattern stands out as the highlight of the song, featuring a typically odd-timed rhythm. Again, this song exhibits their older songwriting style.
Listen to “Fishman Tune 1″, or potentially “Shrine”.
If I Told You
I am very unsure about this one. I think because I like it so much, I am hoping that it’s on the new album. Titled “Jon Fishman Tune 2″, the opening lyrics are “I told you…” which may just be a coincidence. This song is weird, with Trey and Jon’s lyrics overlapped above an industrial-like rhythm. A repeating “beep” flows through the entire song, which gradually thickens as the lyrics continue. Featuring very odd sounds and strange lyrics, this song is classic Phish. If this is the song on Party Time, it’s nice to see they still have an interest in being weird.
Listen to “Fishman Tune 2″, or potentially “If I Told You”.
Only a Dream
This song was performed by Mike Gordon’s band in 2008. Strangely, the song stands out from Mike’s other numbers, as it noticeably sounds like a Trey song. Featuring a rock-based rhythm, with heavy power chords over top, the song is perfect for the new direction the band is taking. The tune carries through the fun lyrical section into a melodic jam, lead by Murawski’s guitar. It’s understandable why Trey might have been eager to grab this one for Phish’s catalog after listening to the version from 12.27.08 from Lupo’s Heartbreak Hotel.
Listen to “Only a Dream”
Party Time is available with the pre-order of Joy on Phish drygoods. Click here for the link.
Every Phish fan is constantly on the hunt for low-key, uncirculated shows. Not just any show will do. For a show to be a true sleeper, it has to feature transcendent musical experiences, that were witnessed by those at the show, and then seemingly forgotten. This is not to say these shows have not been heard, or are unknown, they are simply less talked about, less traded, and for some reason have made their way off the main circuit of Phish shows. Perhaps due to a remote location, or a lack of tapers present, these shows sit in the hands of a few people, until a time like now, when we decide to share them with all of you.
A few years back, Phish’s archivist Kevin Shapiro hinted at some sleeper shows, several of which have become Livephish releases since. A “sleeper” can be subjective to aspects such as location, available recordings, personal preference etc. Today, we have selected three under-appreciated shows for today, that we feel have flown under the radar for too long. These shows were on his list, so don’t be surprised if you see them released in the future. In terms of quality these are some of the best under-the-radar shows the band has performed. Whether you have these shows in your stash or not, ask yourself, ‘when was the last time you listened to them’.
1994.07.05 The Congress Centre, Ottawa, Ontario
Kudos to you if you have this show in your collection. Nearly unheard of in trading circles, this show has been hiding from the ears of Phish fans for too long. This show comes one day before the well-known show in Montreal which features a killer “Reba” (which was released by livephish as a bonus track on itunes). As the band made their second venture to the north in ’94, they were far more experienced than their first trip. Coming off the legendary performances that marked the spring of ’94 (Bomb Factory, my personal favorite UIC Pavilion), the band was in the process of reaching the experimental heights that would fully be achieved in ’95. Displaying some of their tightest playing, with ears more cunning than ever, it is clear how practiced the band is at this point. Every time a member of the band begins a new pattern, the other members adapt their own playing to suit it, much in the spirit of their ‘Oh-Kee-Pah’ practice sessions.
This show is special for a number of reasons. Ottawa is way off the beaten track, and the band has been known to take advantage of situations where less is expected of them. This show features the second last “Letter to Jimmy Page” ever (the last one coming 10 days after this show), which is a song that saw its end far too early. Aside from this rarity, the highlights of the show are the “Stash” which features a ripping, dark jam that is wildly outside. The “Gin” is phenomenal, featuring another one of Trey’s incredible droning-licks. Riding the drone, the band locks into a groove which eventually leads to a repeating melody courtesy of Trey. Trey feeds the jam with Jimmy Page style licks, creating a heavy layer of sounds before finally dropping into a funk groove. The jam finally reaches a point of complete outside space, taking the listener on full musical journey. The best of both the type I and type II worlds. The contrast and timing between the different sections is a true statement of the band’s tightness at this point. The “Yem” is another highlight, featuring outside experimental jamming. Jon provides us with his classic rendition of “The Great Gig in the Sky”, making for a truly Phish-filled night in the great north.
Listen to the “Bathtub Gin” from 1994-07-05.
1998.08.01 Alpine Valley, East Troy, WI
For some reason, this incredible show has not received the attention it deserves. Set amongst so many other hig quality performances, the Alpine show has been lost in the splendor of summer ’98. This period was a journey into the intergalactic side of Phish jamming, separated from the rest through the use of heavy effects, and spacey-psychedelic improvisation. From the start of the first song, the band’s first rendition of Led Zeppelin’s “Ramble On”, indicators point towards a magical night. Following with “Mike’s Groove”, Esther making up the sandwich, the Phishiness begins early as Trey and Page start to converse in a “random note language”. However, the real highlight of the night comes during the “2001>Magilla>2001>Tweezer>Fluffhead”. The segueway into “Magilla” goes without notice as the songs blend perfectly together.
The “Tweezer” emerges out of the “2001″ beat, and leads into the finest jam of the night. The early stages of the “Tweezer” jam (which kicks off at4:25), are lead by Mike’s heavy bombs. In the style of ’98, the song takes on a funky, spacey form. Page layers effects over the deep funk groove, as Trey sits back providing his wah fills. The jam creates mystical feel with a hazy melody. No member of the band steps out of their role, as each contributes to the groove in a way that allows each member to be heard. The developing patterns and interweaving layers combine to produce an aura of music like no other. Absolute divinity is reached around 12:00 and follows through until the jam fades into “Fluffhead”. This is one of the finest jams from a period stacked with so many significant musical moments. An absolute gem. No amount of words can do this masterful, spontaneous composition justice.
Listen to the “Tweezer” from 1998-08-01. I hope you it enjoy as much as I do.
1999.07.31 Fuji Rock Festival, Naeba, Niigata, Japan
Phish capped off their summer ’99 tour at the Fuji Rock Festival in Japan. The third night, played on the Field of Heaven stage, is the sleeper highlight. With surroundings like no other, placed into a foreign atmosphere, Phish took advantage and completely let loose. The first two nights offered the band the chance to warm up and adjust to the surroundings. By night three, the band brought together the elements of their surroundings with their traditional playful form, leading toward some extremely unique moments. One of the finest came when Newang Chechang, a Tibetan monk, came out and delivered a moving speech on his people’s exile from Tibet. The speech is followed by Newang on a long horn accompanied by Jon on the vacuum. The two sounds blend to create a uniquely moving piece of music.
The “2001>David Bowie” from this show is the highlight, and is a truly magical jam. The musical contours of this jam are what make it so interesting weaving in and out of a standard “Bowie” jam, entering numerous outside sections. Eventually leading into an ambient section with short, tasteful phrasing from both Trey and Page, the song dives back into the standard “Bowie” finish. The entire show is very well played with some very interesting jams.
Listen to the “Bowie” from 1999-07-31.
Watch the video of Jon and Newang on vac and horn. Also watch the incredible “Simple” encore below.
Jon and Newang
Simple – Part 1
Simple – Part 2 (Trey rips jam apart)
Imagine a festival with Jimi Hendrix, Miles Davis, The Who, Joni Mitchell, Sly and the Family Stone, Pentangle, Emerson Lake and Palmer, The Moody Blues and The Doors along with many many others. On this day in 1970, the first of five days at the Isle of Wight Festival took place on a small island in England. Largely considered to be the largest musical gathering at the time (until the Summer Jam at Watkins Glen in 1973) the attendance is estimated somewhere between 600,000 and 700,000 people.
This festival was from another time. Performances were constantly interrupted by political activists trying to deliver their messages to the crowd. Numerous musicians who were at the festival for their own enjoyment appeared on stage with other bands such as Zal Yanovsky’s appearance with his former bandmate John Sebastian (both members of the Lovin’ Spoonful).
The final day of the festival, Sunday August 30th was Jimi Hendrix’s final show in the UK. His performance, which is one of his finest, is now considered to be legendary. The Who performed “Tommy” in its entirety and later released their set as Live at the Isle of White 1970. The album, although not as good as Live at Leeds, features some great playing and is packed with energy.
Miles’ performance shows his band in a very transitional phase making yet another stylistic leap forward (much to the dismay of his loyal fans), toward a concept that revolved around extremely loose frames that were mere starting points for improvisation in an electric context. The lineup consists of Miles, Dave Holland, Chic Corea, Keith Jarret Jack DeJohnette, Airto Moreira and Gary Bartz. This concert was one of the first live displays of his new style, which is wildly experimental. Incredible footage of Miles from his performance at the festival is documented on his DVD Miles Electric. Other performances can be seen in the film Message to Love. Both are highly recommended.
The following videos from the Isle of Wight Festival, show how great this festival was, and they’re in amazing quality. Jimi’s performance is absolutely mind-blowing with some of the finest guitar playing ever. We love Jimi over here, and this is simply one of the finest examples of his God-like abilities. Miles’ show paved the way for improvisational music, and exhibits the style heard on Tribute to Jack Johnson (read our article on Jack Johnson here). Click here to check out Jimi’s setlist from the show. Enjoy these videos which help us relive the incredible music that took place starting 39 years ago today.
Listen to Jimi perform “Freedom” at the Isle of Wight Festival 1970-8-30.
Jimi performing Voodoo Chile (Slight Return).
Here’s Jimi performing a scorching version of “Machine Gun”, a political song about the Vietnam war (for some reason it won’t allow this video to be embedded, but I urge you to watch it on youtube. This version contains one of his best solos ever played).
“In From the Storm”, the final song Jimi performed at the festival.
Miles jamming on the “Bitches” medley. Absolutely phenomenal.
Miles performing “Bitches Brew”, this performance is wild. Jam music at its finest. Listen to the jam that emerges around 6:00 with a heavy bass groove.
The Who performing “Naked Eye”.
After listening to the most recent shows several times, we can start to delve back into Phish’s full catalog of live shows. 2009 is simply one of the years, gladly added to the library of Phish shows making up my collection. As I sort through, looking for forgotten favorites, or hidden gems, it occurred to me that it was right around this time last year that Kevin Shapiro, Phish’s archivist, broadcast a selection of songs on livephish.com. Having the gold-mine of Phish shows at his fingertips, Shapiro took us through some incredible moments, reminiscent of the Phish-radio broadcasts from their past festivals.
With a taste for Phish that is incredibly similar to my own, I always trust Shapiro to select gems with great sound quality. Last year was no different. Delving into a wide range of songs from the catalog, some unreleased, Shapiro took listeners on journeys that are certainly worth revisiting. Similarly, the year before on the fifth anniversary of livephish (12/20), Shapiro did a livephish radio broadcast also featuring some incredible gems (including the Haley’s from our 10 Phish Jams you Should Hear). Today we will offer Shapiro’s selections from last summer’s broadcast on livephish radio. We have selected 10 of our favorites from both broadcasts and discussed them (FYI: selecting only 10 was extremely difficult). This is a real treat for any Phish fan, and we figure it should help with the ‘end of summer blues’ that seems to be setting in. Obviously, because he’s Phish’s archivist, all of the downloads are SBDs which really enhances the listening. The first five picks are from last year’s broadcast, the latter 5 are from the year before. Both of the broadcasts are available for download below containing what Kevin calls a “highly potent combination of primal Phish”.
10 Picks from the Archives
1. Reba 1993-8-16 – One of the best versions of the song. Ever. This “Reba” is longer and more exploratory than the jams the song usually offers. The composed section is nailed with standard ’93 execution. Jon’s drumming is particularly noticeable around 4:47, as he absolutely nails the tomb section. The jam begins by straying from the normal melodic flow of the song as Page and Trey begin to lock into a descending, outside pattern. The entire band quickly picks up on this and the jam takes a very early turn in another, darker direction. The jam takes a more rock-based focus, which then slows back down and slowly turns toward the lighter side. Gradually, the song progresses back towards a more typical “Reba” jam. The contrast between the light and the dark is the extremely unique aspect of this “Reba” which places it among my favorites. Just when this jam gets good, it gets better.
2. Gumbo 1997-7-29 – From the summer of funk, this Gumbo is an absolute gem. The jam enters into a funk groove with heavy effects all around. Slowly, Trey picks up the jam and begins a simple lead pattern over top of the groove. Never standing too far out, Trey manages to solo throughout the entire jam in a way that glides over the rhythm. Page complements Trey’s lead with careful phrasing, helping to provide a thick texture over top of the rhythm. It is these full sounding, yet minimalistic funk jams that make ’97 such an incredible period. The jam never strays to far outside, yet the funk carries it to a level of groove that could not have been established otherwise. A different type of jamming, from a very interesting period in Phish’s storied past.
3. AC/DC Bag 1997-12-30 – Another one of those “best ever” jams. This one is more known than the one above, but needs constant revisiting. Each time I listen to this jam I discover some new aspect that I hadn’t noticed before. Bringing the year of the funk to a close in one of the finest venues in the world, this jam is the culmination of all the progress made throughout ’97.
Shortly after the start of the guitar solo, Trey reserves himself for a more groove-based jam. Layered with Page’s clav work, the funky, yet minimalist jam slowly begins to build. As Mike begins to slightly alter his bass-line, the rest of the band slowly layers effects moving the jam into a completely new section. Still heavy on the funk, the jam rides the groove above Jon’s beat. Trey delves into a short, interesting, octave-dropped section before returning back to the funk with some heavy rica-rica. The following sections are some of the most dynamic in any jam. The band goes in and out of a soaring jam, filling the gaps with a soft, piano-based soundscape. The jam finally closes out with a Klezmer-like sound.
4. Haley’s>David Bowie 1994-11-26 – I love the period from ’93-’95 because every show is played with so much energy, as though they had something to prove on a nightly basis. After the raging Hayley’s the band slowly, and smooth as ever, slips into the intro to “Bowie”. Similar to the “Reba” from above, from the outset this jam is headed outside places. From the show that features the “Slave” from A Live One, this jam is an exhibition of Phish’s psychedelic exploratory abilities. The jam unleashes into a full roaring tide of chaos, raging on with dark howls from Trey’s Doc. This is the type of jam where it feels like the band may take off, with a rhythmic groove that implies motion, the entire band builds on the tension before unleashing once more into the raging conclusion of “Bowie”. This version of “Bowie” is just under 40 minutes alone, and explores an extremely wide range of outside jamming, including a wild vacuum solo midway through.
This is Phish fabric cut from a different period in time, and this soundboard recording helps us cherish it. It’s impossible to point out a particular section of this jam. In fact, the entire show from the Orpheum Theater in Minneapolis, MN is incredible, as is the entire month 11/94 (11/30 and 12/1 are both Livephish releases). This jam is an ideal look at Phish in possibly their most psychedelic phase. This gift deserves endless thanks to Kevin.
5. Ghost>Slave to the Traffic Light 1999-7-4 – This “Ghost” is the way the song is supposed to be played. Recent versions are a bit sloppy at the outset, and this version should be used as a lesson. This is how funk music is played. Each member, slowly builds together a piece of the groove, making for a sound that is greater that its parts. Layering effects early on in the song foreshadows where the jam would eventually lead. Hardly containable between the lyrical sections, the band explodes into raging funk at every opportunity. When the actual jam begins, the band dives into a deep groove which Trey floats above with his effect-laden tone. The melodic jam continues and eventually flows right into “Slave”. Slave features a soaring melodic solo that makes for a stunning piece of music. Trey’s solo is very interesting as he encorporates several different techniques and effects to make for an ethereal layer of sounds. The combination of these two songs works perfectly, showing two contrasting styles of Phish.
6. Stash 1998-4-2 – From the famous Island Tour. Need I say more? One of the greatest four night runs in Phish history, and this “Stash” is certainly a highlight. Reaching into the intergalactic soundscapes that defined that period, this phase separates the band from any other period in their career. As tight as can be, and exploring a new realm of music, post-funk, the island tour is a display of Phish at the peak of their jamming. The jam enters into an early groove, avoiding the all out wailing that typifies standard “Stash” jams. By no means is this jam standard.
7. Bathtub Gin> The Real Me> Bathtub Gin 1995-12-29 – This second set “Bathtub” seems pretty standard at the start, going through the song’s typical melody. However, when Trey locks into a riff with a droning ring to it, the jam takes a different turn. Going back and forth between the drone and an explosive chord, over Jon’s standard 1-2 rock beat, the jam begins to take a dive into a new form of rock.
Completely leaving behind all memories of what was “Bathtub”, the band slowly picks up on the queue for “The Real Me”, a raging The Who number. Giving the song the fierce Townshend-like energy it deserves, the jam continues to build steam. Adding tempo, and feeding into the rock, the song leaves the cover with a smoking trail behind it. Trey’s droning continues, leading the jam into an all out rocker, with a mind-blowing bass line by Cactus. Trey and Page then lock into a chord battle, and with Trey’s quick wahs, it makes for a glimpse into the funk that would soon emerge in the months following the show. The melodies of “Bathtub” slowly rise up from underneath the jam, eventually leading the song to a slow end.
8. AC/DC Bag 1999-9-14 – Another AC/DC bag with a magical jam. A previously unreleased SBD with incredible sound quality offering a much better listen. Mike absolutely kills this jam, as the other members layer effects, creating a psychedelic blend with Mike’s Talking Heads-like bass line. A fully equal parted jam, exploring the psychedelic realms, with an unexplainable halt in the midst of the jam. Full of funk, yet completely outside, this jam is such an interesting blend of the different Phish sounds. Coming in and out of the stop-time, into the same roaring funk which continues to build as the jam progresses. This jam is a lesson in timing to any musician. After a few bits of stop-time, with dives back into the funk, the jam dips deeper into the abyss. Eventually trailing off into an ambient layer of sounds (with bird sounds included), this jam is an example of how the band can carry an entire jam from start to finish, with no noticeable lead instrument. Did I mention Mike absolutely kills it?
9. Contact 2003-1-3 – This is one of my personal favorites from any jam in ’03. When I heard this recording I was so optimistic about the direction the band was heading. This jam made up for all the flaws that occurred on that tour in the winter of ’03. Funk-laden, and playing as tight as ’94 the band leads this jam through the ultimate funk journey. Full of pauses, which feature individual solos, the jam is absolutely great. Every member of the band is at their best during this “Contact” encore.
10. Tweezer 1994-11-28 – No list of Phish jams would be complete without a Tweezer from the ’94 period. In a time that took this song to heights that were rarely seen after, this version from the MSU Field House in Bozeman, MT is one of the best examples. Another previously released SBD, this gem spent too long in the distorted sounds of an AUD. Clocking in at over 40 minutes, the jam is a real musical journey, leading the listener through numerous sections. Starting with a heavy rock focus, the jam turns sideways yet stays within the frame of the song. Eventually, the band takes the jam toward ambiance with scattered sections of build-up. Finally the jam returns to the basic foundation of the rock jam before finishing off in an outside, chaotic, jumble of sounds.
Here are the downloads for the two broadcasts by Kevin Shapiro on Livephish radio.
DOWNLOAD Kevin Shapiro’s Broadcast from 2007-12-20
Interesting factoid: In a response to whether or not there is a possibility of a Big Cypress DVD, Shapiro had the following to say (click HERE to read the interview with jambands):
“If you were asking my opinion I’d say 99%. Unedited or uninterrupted is the only way I’ve ever presented the idea. I think that’s how Cypress deserves to be presented. And no one has ever disagreed with that in principle. But that’s a very meaty video release. I don’t doubt that somewhere along the way, someone will suggest that we should release less than the whole thing. And by advocating a full-show release, I don’t think we rule that out. We could do it in full length, either in parts or altogether and still do a documentary or more creative piece on it too. I hope we do it in full even if it takes other forms as well. Nobody disagrees with the magic of Cypress. It’s a great show; a landmark event and we have excellent quality audio and video. It would be sick! The holy grail.”
Last week, Phil Lesh and Bob Weir announced they would be teaming up with John Kadlecik from Dark Star Orchestra, Joe Russo from the Beneveuto Rosso Duo, as well as Jay Lane and Jim Chimenti from Ratdog. The band is going under the name Furthur and has announced three shows in September at the Fox Theater in Oakland, CA.
The mix of artists is interesting, however, there are certainly mixed feelings about the project. Having Phil and Bob co-heading a group could create problems. However, it seems John K. is a suitable person to take on Jerry’s songbook. He has clearly developed a similar style that fits the Dead’s playing far more than Warren Haynes (which in my opinion was a trainwreck).
Here’s a DSO show, the playing is pretty good. The vocals certainly need work, which is where Bob and Phil will be coming in.
Click HERE for the Stream.
This summer has been packed with so many exciting events its hard to take it all in. The talk has been all about the new songs, new direction etc. But, perhaps because of its early return at Fenway, or its multiple appearances on the tour (Fenway, the Gorge), the importance of “Destiny Unbound” seems to have been missed completely. With so many things to talk about, and new songs being introduced, the song that was synonymous with “impossible” in the past, appears to have been overlooked.
Debuted live on 1990-09-14, the song made regular appearances in 1990 and 1991 before being shelved for 790 shows (12 years). During ’91, the song carved out a niche after the Landlady, and was an early fan favorite. Written by Mike, and featuring his signature quirky lyrics, the song is noticeably different to other Phish songs. It features a Lou Reed (Velvet Underground) style guitar intro with country-esque singing on top creating an interesting contrast.
Listen to “Destiny” from 1991-11-15 in Charlottesville, VA.
During the early 90′s after the song had been absent for a few years, Trey reportedly said that if the entire audience sang the song, they would play it. Efforts were arranged to have this accomplished, including the now famous “Death Chant” show from Hampton, VA on 1997-11-22. Before starting the second set, the band arrived on stage to find the entire crowd chanting the song’s lyrics. Trey responded by telling the crowd it sounded like some “death chant” and asked if it was the “ritual sacrifice” part of the show. There was some talk between Trey and Page, and a look over at Mike. Mike responded with a “no” head-nod, and the band launched into Haley’s instead (which is mentioned in our 10 Phish Jams You Should Hear). At Red Rocks in ’96 fliers were passed around to try and arrange a mass-chant. At Lemonwheel in ’98, perhaps the largest chant took place, with the mics picking it up and broadcasting it. However, none of these attempts ever brought any results, and the song became as rare as any.
Many people thought it would never be played again, and rumors began to swirl as to the reasons for this. One theory suggested that the song sounded too much like the Grateful Dead. Another said Mike simply didn’t like the song and chose to retire it.
In an interview with Relix this year Mike talked about how certain songs become irrelevant to him, and as a result are harder to perform. He specifically mentioned “Mike’s Song” and explained how such a song, written in his sophomore year in college, might be hard to relate to in his mid-40s. Perhaps “Destiny” was a similar case, or maybe they couldn’t achieve the sound they were trying to get out of the song. For whatever reason, “Destiny” was removed from Phish setlists and became the symbol for rare Phish songs.
When all hope seemed to have been lost for the song, after a failed chant revival in 2000, the band took the stage at Nassau coliseum on their second last show of the winter ’03 tour. After going through some rough patches on the tour, the band decided to try and spark some energy. Following the “Birds” opener, the band dropped into “Destiny”, with the instantly noticeable guitar intro. The crowd, and anyone checking the setlist in the following days was absolutely shocked. The song was jammed out nicely and seemed to be a good vehicle for the band’s new sound. The odd thing is the song sounded exactly like it did in ’91. So, clearly this song has some mystery to it. “Destiny” was not played after Nassau, until May 31st this year at Fenway Park.
By the time Phish reached Fenway this year, perhaps the reasons the song made its 12-year hiatus from setlists were no longer relevant. Phish no longer has to desperately separate themselves from the shadow of the Grateful Dead, an issue that loomed over much of their early career. Mike seems to be more confident with his songwriting these days and clearly the song has a new relevance. Being featured in one of Phish’s most important shows ever, Fenway Park, in a setlist that was mainly anthems, “Destiny” clearly has a place in Phish 3.0.
What other Phish rarities are you still waiting for? Post them in the comments section below.
Here’s the download for the show from 1991-11-15 from Charlottesville, VA. Featuring a classic “Landlady>Destiny” combo (with an incredibly smooth transition) as well as plenty of old Phishiness, this show is a great look at their style back in ’91.
Watch this video of Phish performing “Destiny Unbound” 1991-02-14 in Ithica, NY (featuring the famous van-giveaway).
Here’s “Destiny” from Fenway Park 2009-05-31.
While we generally don’t like to be the one’s to speculate (more specifically we don’t like to be wrong), the rumors surrounding Phish’s upcoming tour seem to be gaining certainty. The following tour dates are all but confirmed with several more in the rumor mill. Aside from the following, other (less certain) possibilities are: The Hollywood Bowl, a TV appearance (likely Conan), a show in Denver at an undisclosed location and a stop in Worcester between Albany and MSG. Here’s the rumored dates:
11/20/09 – US Bank Arena – Cincinnati, Ohio
11/21/09 – US Bank Arena – Cincinnati, Ohio
11/24/09 – Wachovia Center – Philadelphia, PA
11/25/09 – Wachovia Center – Philadelphia, PA
11/27/09 – Times Union Center – Albany, NY
11/28/09 – Times Union Center – Albany, NY
12/2/09 – Madison Square Garden – New York, NY
12/3/09 – Madison Square Garden – New York, NY
12/4/09 – Madison Square Garden – New York, NY
12/5/09 – John Paul Jones Arena – Charlottesville, VA
New Years Run 2009
12/28/09 – American Airlines Arena – Miami, FL
12/29/09 – American Airlines Arena – Miami, FL
12/30/09 – American Airlines Arena – Miami, FL
12/31/09 – American Airlines Arena – Miami, FL
“I’d like to introduce to you one of the best Goddamn rock and roll bands I ever heard…Little Feat” says the promoter before the band drops into the funky bass groove of “Hamburger Midnight”. What that promoter said all the way back in 1973 still holds true today, Little Feat is musical force like no other. After being kicked out of Zappa’s Mothers of Invention in 1969 for writing the song “Willin’”, Lowell George went on to form his own band. The band released eight albums with Lowell George before he met his demise 1979 due to a drug overdose. They continue to continue to tour today with many of the original members, however, Lowell’s slide guitar that defined their early sound is absent. During the ten years with Lowell, some incredible shows were performed and recorded. Today’s show is from a small club in a Denver condominium in 1973 called Ebbet’s Field, which apparently was quite the place for music in the ’70′s. The sound is incredible, and the band’s playing is some of their best. Setlist: The show is also available for stream on Archive.org. CLICK HERE for the stream. From the Wetlands Preserve in NY, this is the first show of the fall 1990 tour, which unfortunately was also the first tour that prohibited audience soundboard recordings due to a malfunction earlier in the year. This show was played one week before the release of Lawn Boy in Phish’s busiest touring year. Clearly very practiced, the band debuts several numbers that would go on to become Phish staples. The show also features an appearance from the Dude of Life on three songs. A very interesting show, with a scorching “Reba” Setlist: Here’s Little Feat performing “Skin it Back”. Phish performing “Uncle Penn”.
1. Little Feat – 1973-07-19
Early Show Hamburger Midnight, Got No Shadow, On Your Way Down, Walkin’ All Night, Two Trains, Willin’ , Cold Cold Cold > Dixie Chicken > Tripe Face Boogie, Fat Man In The Bathtub
Late Show A Apolitical Blues, Two Trains, Got No Shadow, The Fan, Texas Rose Café, Snakes On Everything, Cat Fever, Walkin’ All Night, Sailin’ shoes, Dixie Chicken > Tripe Face Boogie
2. Phish – 1990-09-13
1: The Landlady, The Divided Sky, Foam, Tube*, The Asse Festival*, Run Like an Antelope, Minute by Minute*, Buried Alive*, Paul and Silas*, Bouncing Around the Room, Possum
2: Mike’s Song-> I Am Hydrogen-> Weekapaug Groove, Magilla*, Stash*, Going Down Slow*, Oh Kee Pa Ceremony-> AC/DC Bag-> Buried Alive-> Take the A-Train-> Sparks-> Reba, Self**, Dahlia**, Revolution’s Over**
E: Lizards, La Grange
*First time played. **With the Dude of Life.
“I’d like to introduce to you one of the best Goddamn rock and roll bands I ever heard…Little Feat” says the promoter before the band drops into the funky bass groove of “Hamburger Midnight”. What that promoter said all the way back in 1973 still holds true today, Little Feat is musical force like no other.
After being kicked out of Zappa’s Mothers of Invention in 1969 for writing the song “Willin’”, Lowell George went on to form his own band. The band released eight albums with Lowell George before he met his demise 1979 due to a drug overdose. They continue to continue to tour today with many of the original members, however, Lowell’s slide guitar that defined their early sound is absent. During the ten years with Lowell, some incredible shows were performed and recorded.
Today’s show is from a small club in a Denver condominium in 1973 called Ebbet’s Field, which apparently was quite the place for music in the ’70′s. The sound is incredible, and the band’s playing is some of their best.
The show is also available for stream on Archive.org. CLICK HERE for the stream.
From the Wetlands Preserve in NY, this is the first show of the fall 1990 tour, which unfortunately was also the first tour that prohibited audience soundboard recordings due to a malfunction earlier in the year. This show was played one week before the release of Lawn Boy in Phish’s busiest touring year. Clearly very practiced, the band debuts several numbers that would go on to become Phish staples. The show also features an appearance from the Dude of Life on three songs. A very interesting show, with a scorching “Reba”
Here’s Little Feat performing “Skin it Back”.
Phish performing “Uncle Penn”.
It seems that most of the conversation surrounding Phish these days is based around their ‘new direction’. With such a musically dynamic band, it is clearly hard for them to sit still. Every one of their past albums explores numerous genres, showing their ability to adapt their sound to diverse musical textures. As Trey explained after releasing his solo album Bar 17, a song with an intro has 2 bars of eight, which means the story or song begins on the 17th bar. Thus, Bar 17 was the beginning of Trey’s story. Joy can be thought of as the 18th bar. The next step in Phish’s musical story. Yesterday, Phish officially released “Backwards Down the Number Line” the song Tom sent to Trey on his birthday, which shows the continued progression in Phish’s songwriting. Phish’s shift toward deeper meanings and messages is similar to the shift in the Beatles songwriting that occurred in late 1964.
After meeting Dylan, Lennon and McCartny’s songwriting shifted towards a more narrative approach with deeper meaning. Dylan’s influence can particularly be heard in John’s “I’m a Loser”. The album is still heavily influenced by their earlier songwriting techniques, as are the following two albums Help! and Rubber Soul. It was not until Revolver that their new songwriting form fully took over. Songs such as “Taxman”, “Eleanor Rigby”, “I’m Only Sleeping”, “Yellow Submarine” (as well as pretty much every other song on the album) all feature deep meanings and a very new style that separate the Beatles from their earlier years.
Listen to I’m a Loser by the Beatles
A similar progression seems to have taken place with Phish. Their initial songwriting approach was to create masterful compositions and layer them with jokes and playful lyrics, much in the spirit of Zappa. This style defined Phish in their early years, and its what made them who they are today. However, by the time Farmhouse was released, everyone noticed a major shift in the band’s songwriting. I remember people complaining that it wasn’t Phish and for whatever reason, the album was no good. Similar to the Beatles, the progression actually took place much earlier and saw similar resistance. Hoist , for example, saw a shift toward a more lyrical base, with a greater reliance on meaning.
The albums (that include lyrics) following Farmhouse, Round Room and Undermind, followed the progression of the prior album. Straying from the abstract lyrics and music that defined their early years, the later albums have a far greater reliance on lyrics with meaning, and noticeably less composition. “Pebbles and Marbles”, “Anything but Me”, and “All of these Dreams” are a stark contrast to the early Phish songwriting style. “Pebbles”, which is one of the few later extended compositions, has insightful lyrics that reflect the style of “Time Turns Elastic”. Unlike their earlier compositions such as “YEM” or “Guyute”, these lyrics actually seem to be delivering a message. Joy seems to be following the same path, offering more lyrics and relying more on improvisation than composition. As Trey said in a 2006 interview with JamBase:
“As you get older, you are interested in nothing but emotion and you start finding lyrics and singing to be the most direct path to the heart. This is the way I see it: Music is a language. You get to a point where you are either writing, composing, or improvising on the guitar, all you want to be doing is turning your mind off and just emoting. But if you go through the very slow process over years and years of studying all this stuff – all these different styles of music and learning about how horn voicings work, practicing all your scales up and down, and trying to discover the secret beauty of the language of music – then when you try to speak simply, you’re speaking simply but it’s informed and that gives you the possibility of having a more sophisticated or a deeper emotion. And at the same time, I guess it just happens, life goes on and shit starts to happen to you. So it starts to become very desperate, like you really need to express these emotions and you feel like you’re just gonna die if you don’t.”
It’s clear to anyone who is familiar with the history of the band that they have a lot to express. And if it’s as urgent as Trey says it is, this album is going to be a major outlet. Reading into some of the songs, one can gather some of the messages that may be contained. “Reach for a beer, glad that I’m here, when I realize that you’re not around…” seems to be a reference to Trey’s trouble with drinking. Other songs seem to be a message to the fans from the experiences the members have gained. Perhaps the motivation to release Joy has been brewing for some time. In the same 2006 interview with JamBase as above, Trey said the following offering a glimpse into the future:
“My dream is that one person one day would hear some song that I wrote and have it brighten their day a little bit, I absolutely live for that, and if that can happen, then it would make me really, really happy.”
To read the 2006 JamBase interview with Trey, CLICK HERE.
Listen to the “Backwards Down the Number Line” from SPAC 2009-08-16.
Have a great weekend! Here’s the debut of the new Jon Fishman original “Party Time”.
Phish shows ooze with improvisational energy, taking the listeners on musical excursions that seem to end far too soon. Constrained by curfews, travel schedules and other factors that exist when touring, shows are the best bite of Phish a fan can get. Most of the time.
This past weekend, while many of us were catching the end of the most recent tour, the anniversaries of nearly all of Phish’s summer festivals passed (IT was two weeks before). With Phish’s only announced tour date being a festival, the thought is clearly on the minds of a lot of people. The surroundings of a festival offer a great deal more space for the band to unleash their creativity, both in musical and other ways.
In the history of Phish, there have only been a few times in a live setting where the band has shed all barriers and simply jammed with no constraints. Removed from the normal concert setting, stripped of any song’s frame, the band uses their creative energy to guide them through new levels of musical discovery. As Trey said at Lemonwheel in ’98, “not a typical Phish set, whatever the spirit moves”. Each time, the result has been masterful, propelling the band into a new form of improvisation. Today, we look back on “The Flatbed Jam”, “The Ring of Fire” and “The Tower Jam” (the disco tent jam from the Great Went is not included because it’s not really Phish.) Each of these jams exhibits the rawest form of jamming the band has ever displayed live.
1. The Flatbed Jam
Perched upon the back of a flatbed, the band rode through the Plattsburgh Airforce Base during their Clifford Ball festival. With only the most essential pieces of equipment on board, the band entered into a simplistic, minimalist jam that features no identifiable lead instrument. The bands “stage” setup is reminiscent of their very early years. With Page on a Fender Rhodes only, and Trey using only his tube screamers, it is a rare treat. With all of the band’s “safety mechanisms” (as Trey likes to call them) stripped away the jam is able to reach musical peaks that could not have occurred otherwise.
Each band member creates a greater part of the whole by contributing a small pattern to the jam. Beginning as a soft outside jumble, the jam transforms slowly. Traveling through numerous sections of harmonic interplay, it constantly leaves a question unanswered. Bordering on eeriness at times, the jam delves into the dark before finally returning to a midpoint somewhere between light and dark. The jam sits in this state of limbo, building tension. The tension continues to grow as the song progresses, building up to a climactic release. Finally, once the band arrives at this point of melodic release, the soaring melodies travel through the night air and the band rides off into the night…
The flatbed jam was released this year with the Clifford Ball DVD package, for those of you who have not seen it. I highly recommend it. Here is a clip of the flatbed jam with some words from Trey.
2. The Ring of Fire Set
The Ring of Fire Set occurred at Lemonwheel in the summer of ’98. Summer ’98 ads said, “in addition to their other amazing exploits, will exhibit themselves in a TEMPLE OF FIRE!”, which was finally revealed at the festival. After finishing “Tweezer Reprise”, Trey went on to explain the rundown for what was going to go down for the rest of the night, and the concept behind the temple of fire.
The crowd took part in some candle dipping which then became the lights for the stage, there was no lightshow. The concept according to Trey was that the fans light up the band with energy, and so the symbolic flame from the candles that the fans had made was a representation of that. Before the candles and torches were brought out to surround the stage and crowd, Trey said the following:
“Phish will now perform in a ring of fire, for those of you who have been wondering what that was all about. This is what it is. We’re going to create a Ring of Fire starting with your candles and going out with tiki torches so that we’ll be encircled in fire. Our music that we’ll be playing is really intended to be almostt kind of in the Brian Eno philosophy of ambient music. I’ve always kind of had this dream of being part of the turning off the lights and having the glowsticks going. There’s a very cool feeling when we’re playing up here and it’s dark and you feel like people are just wandering around taking in the scenery and you’re kind of creating a different kind of music than you know, we get up here and make the big bang out of things. So, you know what I’m talking about.”
The ambient jam that followed is one of the finest pieces of Phish music I can think of. Featuring a fully equal-part jam that pours with melodic improvisation. Just under an hour in length, this jam is a set of Phish showing off what they do best. This is what every fan craves and dreams of.
The set itself begins in a simplistic, minimalistic style, similar to the flatbed jam. However, the direction and peaks that this set reaches are unmatchable. This jam features Phish in their comfort zone, the stage, and with all of their tools. The music we hear sounds like Phish rather than just pure ambiance. Leading through peaks and valleys, no individual member of the band carries the jam, each member plays an equal role in contributing. The result is one of the finest hours of Phish. Ever. For your listening pleasure, the entire ambient set is available for stream and download below (Listen at 9:00 for one of Trey’s nicest melodies ever, and at 34:45 for a great natural funk).
3. The Tower Jam
At the IT festival in 2003, Phish snuck out to the old air traffic control tower under the cover of the night. With lights controlled by Chris Kuroda, and synchronized dancers suspended from the tower, the band launched into a secret late night set. Atop the tower, the band started off with an alien-like ambient jam full of layered effects and siren like sounds alerting the campgrounds of something Phishy.
This jam is perhaps the best thing that came out of the band during the ’03-04 period. Going back to their roots of pure improv, and fueled with the outside factors that were effecting the band at the time, this jam is heavy and dark. Exploring all realms of outside music before crashing back, at some point during the Tower Jam, liftoff is definitely achieved. Similar to the Ring of Fire Set, this jam is an hour long, and is a fully equal part jam. The major difference between the two is the increased use of effects in the Tower Jam, thus making for a far more outer-worldly experience. In terms of the atmosphere the Tower Jam was quite a spectacle with incredible lighting and dancers synchronized with the music and lights. The tower jam was released with the IT Festival dvd, and can be downloaded at livephish.com. I have posted part of the Tower Jam from youtube below.
Since we were unable to provide reviews after each show, today we will provide a look at all four shows from Darien to Saratoga, and their impact on the whole summer tour (check out our article Phish 3.5 to see the progress earlier in the summer).
Starting in Toyota Park actually, Phish made a direct statement, “busting out” rare numbers that had been on wish lists since June. It was clear, another notch was under their belt in the already-legendary 2009 summer tour. With the renewed sense of confidence instilled in each member of the band after the Red Rocks and Gorge shows, everyone knew another leap would be made. As the band delved into some of their more complex numbers (Dinner and a Movie, Forbins) there was no doubt in anyone’s mind that the tour had come to a climax.
June was comprised of similar, contained setlists with incredible jams speckled throughout each show. Every night we were offered a glimpse at what would become of the band once they had fully shed their rust. Rather than starting with too much on their plate, the band attacked a smaller roster of familiar songs allowing them to regain their comfort with each other. These songs quickly became the highlights of the summer tour, offering gems at numerous shows (Tweezer, Hood, Ghost, Drowned etc.). During their time off, each member evolved their sound in a new direction. Old songs are played in new ways now, with rearranged sections to suit the players’ new styles (most notably Mike’s complex new baselines). After the band attempted to bust out some rare tunes in Chicago, the next step was clearly on its way.
The past four shows were the culmination of the journey the band has already traveled this year. Think of how far they have made it thus far. Trey was flubbing the intro to YEM in March, almost unable to make it through. Now, he’s laying it down harder than ever with ’95-esque precision.
At Darien Lake on Thursday night, when the instantly noticeable intro chords to “Dinner and a Movie” began, any song in the bands catalogue could follow. Going back to one of their first complex numbers that defined the early stages of their career, it was clear there was nothing left to hold back. The song was played with incredible precision providing the energy the band needed to deliver the stellar set 1 at Darien Lake. Funneling this energy into one of the new songs that the band has been working hard at (it was soundchecked that day, with specific focus on the “carnival” like part), the “Sugar Shack” turned out far more polished than any previous version. The second set continued to ride the energy from the first set and the band came out of the gates with a rocking version of “Drowned”. Altogether, Darien was a very enjoyable show, with two equally enjoyable sets.
Hartford was a rare night, in any Phish era. Playing perhaps my favorite setlist of any show this summer, and delivering each song with incredible precision, it was definitely one of the best shows the band has played in quite a long time. Hearing the intro diminished chords to “Col. Forbins Ascent”, it was confirmed, the band had brought back something that was so integral in their early years of touring. Practice. “Forbins” and “Mockingbird” are not songs that an unpracticed band plays. That is the reason these songs were not attempted even once in the post-hiatus ’03-’04 era. The band nailed the “Forbins” perfectly, and followed it with an incredibly melodic rendition of “Mockingbird”.
Perhaps Phish knew that the true fans had made the journey for this one, because the setlist was ripped right off of every single fan’s “dream setlist”. The entire show flows with improvisational energy that has otherwise appeared sporadically throughout the summer. Unlike other shows this summer, it is impossible to name only a few gems from this show. Every jam embodies the new direction the band is heading, exhibiting amazing playing from each member. Anyone who was in attendance needs no reminder, this was one to remember. In Hartford, Phish was as funky as James Brown on his worst night.
The show at the Merriweather Post Pavilion was far more contained than the previous night in Hartford, but still kept with the new step the band had taken. Playing six major bustouts and one brand new song in the first set, the band pleased the fans who had been waiting the entire tour to hear them. Again, played with precision and accuracy, showing the obvious time and practice they have been putting in, this set took off to a very good start. However, when the second set improvisational energies normally begin to flow, many of the jams began to resemble the shows in June. Marked by exteneded solos that rarely leave the of the songs borders, most of the jams were rock-based, fun jams. The “Tweezer” which has been such a highlight this summer was a bit lacking considering the other versions the band has played this summer (check out Camden’s “Tweezer” if you haven’t already). The band finished the set with a bang, playing a fiery, extended “46 days” before leading into another “Oh! Sweet Nothing”. The “Hood” closer, again, did not compare to some of the earlier versions this summer. Altogether, the show was very well played. However, the jams resemble the ones in June, with a far more rock-based focus.
The show at SPAC was a great way to finish off the tour, except for a few exchangeable moments (heavy rain, Katie Perry and ACDC covers). Keeping in line with the previous 4 shows, the band continued to bring out rarities, satisfying those who had stayed on until the end to catch them. I had been hoping for a “Llama” opener since the start of the tour, so to finally get one was very nice. The only problem was, the sound in the pavilion was absolutely atrocious for the first song and a half. Either way, the effect was there, and Phish launched off the rocking opener into the always funky “Moma Dance”. The tour really came full circle when the band opened the second set with the new standard “Number Line”, and took it for a real nice ride. The song that Mike and Trey first played together last summer at Rothbury finally culminated in the epic jam of the night. Featuring some very tight playing that leads into an melodic ambient section, this jam is one of the finest of the tour. The jam goes on a full journey, with a very outside section that eventually leads into “Twenty Years Later” which I thought was very well played. The “Harpua” was rewarding to us all, but I think Jon got a bit carried away this time. It was funny, I’ll give the man in the dress that much. The experience was there, and it was very Phishy. So, I don’t think anyone minded while Jon galavanted about.
As the band played the final “YEM” of the summer, the leaps the band had made since March were obvious. There is no more angst surrounding a particular section of a song anymore, and rare songs can be brought back at any time. The encore provided us the final cut off the new album Joy, which was a very fun number in line with the album’s title. The closer “Highway to Hell” is not a favorite of mine, and I would have loved to see it replaced. Nonetheless, it was fun, and a nice way to close things off. SPAC was a party of a show, with energy pouring out the rafters. Phish left us off on a good note this time, and only excitement remains until they return.
Listen to the “Birds of a Feather” from Hartford which features a great example of Phish’s new improvisational direction.
Here is an excellent video of the “Forbins>Mockingbird” from Hartford.
Anagnorisis is the point in a literary work or play, when the character makes a discovery turning ignorance to knowledge. For those of us heading to these next four shows, that point is now. In March, none of us knew what to expect or what to think. In June, things felt like they were returning to normal. In August, the band pushed aside all expectations that had been created in June, granting us the the feeling so many of us had forgot. All is right in the world of Phish, finally. The post hiatus tours of ’03-’04 constantly felt as though their legs were falling out from under them. When they called it quits, I don’t think many of us were overly shocked.
However, now things are different. Heading into these last four shows, our optimism is at an all time high. Coming off a less than stellar show in Chicago, the community seems to be right back in its old swing. Fans are accepting of the fact that the band made a few leaps that didn’t necessarily work out for the best. The important part is that the leaps were made. Phish is trying new things, bringing back old classics, and taking new songs places they have never been. The sense of unpredictability is returning (and will fully return as soon as they start being more creative with their encore choices).
The next four nights will be very significant for a number of reasons. First, the band has just completed their first tour in five years which is a major breakthrough considering where we were last year at this time. Second, the band members are healthy, and clearly having fun. And third, the test has clearly worked. The band has been testing a model that would allow them to tour for the next 20 years or more, remain healthy, and spend time with their families. This past tour is a clear indication that the new model is working.
Today, we will be heading to Darien to catch the next four shows. We will be providing reviews and updates, as well as the usual setlists and downloads. Check back the morning after each show for in-depth reviews. For those of you heading to the shows, travel safe, have fun, and enjoy the music! See you there!
Here’s some of our favorite moments from these upcoming venues:
Darien – From the show on September 14th, 2000, the “Darien Jam pt 3″ emerged in between “Crosseyed” and “Dog Faced Boy”. This jam is absolutely phenomenal. It begins as a heavy rocker that leads into an incredible ambient section with some of my favorite playing by Trey.
“The Darien Jam pt 3″ -9/14/00
Hartford – From the fall ’97 tour, the band performed a killer show on 11/26/97. The second set began as follows: “Character Zero>2001> Cities> Ya Mar> “Punch You in the Eye> Prince Caspian”. Listen to the funk-filled “Cities”.
“Cities” – 11/26/97
Columbia – The “Dog Log” from 9/17/00 is perhaps one of the finest versions of the song. Being the only time played in the entire year, this is most certainly a major bustout. The playing in this version is particularly tight. A great song, yet highly underplayed.
“Dog Log” – 9/17/00
Saratoga – “Scents and Subtle Sounds” was performed on 6/19/04 at Saratoga. In a tour marked with blemishes, the two night run at SPAC is considered to be the highlight. This version of the song is missing the intro section from the album version. I am really hoping “Scents” makes a return. Soon.
“Scents and Subtle Sounds” 6/19/04
If anyone has any moments from these venues to add, post them in the comments section.
Here’s a video of “Glide” from Columbia, MO 3/31/92.
Here is the setlist and the AUD download for last nights show.
- Kill Devil Falls
- Sample In A Jar
- Paul and Silas
- Windy City
- The Curtain With
- Train Song
- Heavy Things
- Time Turns Elastic
- Backwards Down the Number Line >
- Carini >
- Gotta Jibboo
- Theme From The Bottom
- 2001 >
- Chalk Dust Torture
- Harry Hood
- The Squirming Coil
- Loving Cup
Debut of Windy City
In Phish’s massive song catalog, there are many songs that have matured over time. However, some have reinvented themselves to the point of becoming entirely new songs. These songs were introduced to us in a live setting, and through the energy of the shows, were changed to become what they are today. I am not talking about songs that were combined to make a whole, such as “Fluffhead”, “The Asse Festival” etc. I am talking about songs that were introduced under one name, and now exist under a different one. Today we’ll look at three examples, and their stages of transition.
Black Eyed Katy – Moma Dance
The original song, “Black Eyed Katy”, made its debut in the first show of the incredible fall ’97 tour at Thomas and Mac Center in Las Vegas. “Katy” was the symbol of the transition into the band’s new funk stage. Showcasing a tight funk groove followed by a jam that stayed within the confines of the song, “Katy” brought the funk every time she made an appearance. With no lyrics, and running as long as ten minutes, the song became a funky jam vehicle to exhibit the bands new direction. Performed seven times on the fall ’97 tour, it seemed as though Katy would become a regular.
However, in the summer of ’98 she left us, adding lyrics and becoming the “Moma Dance”. “Katy” saw a significant development on the ’97 tour, before making the full transition. Through the funk jams in “Katy” the band was able to create an incredible full song with multiple parts and intricate lyrical sections. To see the multiple faces of “Katy”, check out the versions from Winston-Salem 11/23/97 and from Worcester 11/28/97. For a great version of the “Moma Dance” check out 7/16/98 at the Gorge.
Listen to “Black Eyed Katy” from 12/30/97 at Madison Square Garden.
Oblivious Fool (Olivia’s Pool) – Shafty
Perhaps the most significant transformation took place with “Oblivious Fool”, which later became “Shafty”. Coincidentally, “Oblivious Fool” was debuted at Brad Sands house in Charlotte, VT on 6/6/97. The song made its live public debut a week later in Dublin, Ireland 6/13/97 along with Vultures, Ghost, Water in the Sky and Limb by Limb (wow). Starting off as a Little Feat-like blues shuffle, “Oblivious Fool” was a fun number to hear. The lyrics about hell and fools sounded like a joke over top of the unlikely rhythm. Performed seven times in the summer of 97, and once in the fall, “Oblivious Fool” also seemed to be coming in to its own. However, after the final version in Denver, the song was taken apart, and reassembled as the dark funk number “Shafty”. While it lasted, “Oblivious Fool” was a good-time song. However, “Shafty” has provided us with numerous dark jams with heavy funk grooves. For a great version of “Shafty” check out the version from the Island tour ’98 (see the video below).
Listen to “Oblivious Fool’s” live debut on 6/13/97 in Dublin, Ireland.
Taste – Fog that Surrounds – Taste that Surrounds – Taste
This song saw perhaps the oddest, most drawn out, yet most rewarding transition. In a less than fluid debut, “Taste” was first introduced at Boise State University Pavilion on 6/7/95. The first versions feature the same lyrical section by Trey as in the current version, however, Jon’s lyrics are absent. The jam is guitar heavy, and does not include the interweaving rhythmic section that would be added later. The original version of “Taste” slowly evolved, and was played frequently in the summer of ’95.
After a short break from touring, Phish returned in Sacramento on 9/27/95 and debuted “Fog that Surrounds”. Trey says to the crowd “You think you know this song, some of you, but you don’t” before launching into the new version of the song. “Fog” is a bare-bones version of “Taste”, however, this time Trey’s lyrics are absent and Jon’s are present. The debut version features a disjointed attempt by Jon to run through his first real singing gig.
Not long after, the song made another transition to “Taste that Surrounds” which is Trey’s “Taste” section mixed with Jon’s “Fog” section. This version of the song was debuted on 10/24/95 in Madison, WI. After going through a fairly rough patch with Jon’s solo singing, the debut of the combined version was highly successful.
This success was short-lived, as a few weeks later the song changed again. Layering Trey’s and Jon’s lyrics over each other, the song returned to a discombobulated mess. In these versions (11/12/95 for example), the effect of Jon’s subtle singing voice and Trey’s powerful lyrics become lost in the mix.
The final version of the song appeared in the summer of ’96 as “Taste”. After working on Billy Breathes with producer Steve Lillywhite, the band altered the song to become the fan favorite version that exists today. Replacing the layered vocals with separate parts featuring Trey’s lyrics and parts of Jon’s, the song finally reached its full effect. The guitar solo at the end was slightly altered to become a full band jam leading up to Trey’s explosive modal excursion. For a great version of “Taste” check out the version from Walnut Creek 7/22/97.
Listen to this very early version (the 4th ever) of “Taste” from 6/15/96 Lakewood Amphitheatre, Atlanta, GA.
Phish is one of the few bands that is willing to introduce an unfinished song to their fans. The energy that is contributed by the fans in a live setting is irreplaceable, and through it the song evolves. When a song takes such a transition, its final product feels like a mutual effort between the band and the fans, making the experience all the more rewarding.
Watch this video of “Shafty” from the island tour, Providence, RI 4/5/98. Note the stark contrast to the original “Oblivious Fool”.
After writing yesterday’s article, The Evolution of Trey’s Tone – Part II, I began thinking further about the factors that have influenced Trey’s most recent tonal change. It is clear that at certain points in Phish’s career they have been influenced by certain musicians more than others. However, there are certain influences that have constantly remained present in Phish’s playing. A Tribute to Jack Johnson by Miles Davis is one of those influences. Completely improvisational, and featuring only two songs, both over 20 minutes, this album is one of the finest pieces of music ever recorded.
In 1971 Miles released A Tribute to Jack Johnson as the soundtrack to a documentary about the boxer Jack Johnson. The album defines jam music in the realest sense. Miles’ band at the time featured Steve Grossman on soprano sax, Michael Henderson on bass, Herbie Hancock on the organ, Billy Cobham on drums, and the legendary John “Mahavishnu” McLaughlin on guitar. A stellar lineup to say the least.
The story goes like this: McLaughlin, Cobham, Grossman and Davis had scheduled a recording session at Columbia studio in New York. As per usual, Miles was late, and so the band began improvising without him. Herbie Hancock, who happened to be in the building at the time, was brought in at the last minute to play organ. The producers began recording, and when Miles showed up late, he liked what he heard. He stepped in the studio, and at 2:19 on the first track “Right Off” Miles begins his solo. The album includes the recordings that occurred at Columbia studio on April 7, 1970 mixed with some of Miles’ solo recordings from 1969.
The music is a raw sounding improvisational form of fusion jazz. Characterized by Miles’ outside modal playing and McLaughlin’s gritty guitar sound, Jack Johnson borders on funk-rock. This album has always been one of my favorites, as it takes the listener on a transcendent musical journey. The chaotic highpoints blended together with the melodic plateaus provide contour to the musical landscapes. The playing is tight yet highly exploratory.
Jack Johnson, above all, is a timeless piece of music. Even though it was released in 1970, the music sounds as though it is brand new. The playing on the album was extremely groundbreaking, as it brought the spirit of both rock and funk music to jazz. Using electric instruments in this fashion was nearly unheard of at the time. Very few, if any, jazz musicians were using distortion effects such as the one used by McLaughlin on the album.
The first song “Right Off” begins with an edgy, funky groove. The groove never quite leaves the song, as it delves into ambiance, before returning back to finish the song off. The second song “Yesternow” lifts the bass line from James Brown’s “Say it Loud, I’m Black and I’m Proud”, and features some alternate musicians, such as Dave Holland and Chick Corea, in parts. Miles’ playing on both tracks features some of his most complex and tightest music ever recorded. This piece of music is loaded with energy blurring all lines between musical genres.
Beginning with Silent Way in 1969, and then Bitches Brew in 1970, Miles introduced a highly innovative sound to jazz music. Using electric instruments and accompanied by a guitar, Miles’ bands were a cross between jazz, rock and funk. Although not as commercially successful as the prior album Bitches Brew, Jack Johnson exhibits what many feel is the finest playing of all three. In a 1995 interview with Addicted to Noise, Trey said the following with regard to the album:
“Right now I think Miles is probably the cutting edge in every stage along his career. I’ve been really heavily influenced by this Miles Davis album, A Tribute to Jack Johnson. John McLaughlin plays on it, and he plays really differently from how he normally plays, he’s in a great space on that album, and I think that’s really affected me a lot, that whole kind of style. And Miles influenced a lot of these rock bands, like the Dead or something.”
Interesting little factoid: The intro music to disc 2 of A Live One is part of “Right Off”.
Listen to “Right Off”, the first track off Jack Johnson. Pay close attention at 2:19 as Miles comes in with his soaring modal solo (if you are unfamiliar with the modes check out our article on them: Modal Exploration). Give this one a bit of time to load, its quite long, but well worth it.
Also, in 2004 Trey recorded a session with Herbie Hancock at the farmhouse. Below is one of the recordings from that session showing some of the same type of improvisational playing as is heard on Jack Johnson.
This is the second part in The Evolution of Trey’s Tone, for the first part, CLICK HERE. On Friday, we left off with phase 3, ending in 1993, today we will explore right up until 2009.
Phase 4 (1994-1996)
The next phase in the evolution of Trey’s tone was probably the most crucial in developing his sound. Prior to ’94 he was using very few effects, and the ones he was using were only for distortion and compression. In 1994, Trey had Bob Bradshaw (guitar effect guru made famous through his work with Eddie Van Halen) build him a bypass switching system. With this new piece of equipment, he could switch effects without having his signal to his amp interrupted. And, as we all know, the introduction of effects into Trey’s life changed Phish’s music, in particular their jams. In a ’94 interview with Guitar Player magazine, Trey said the following:
“I got this Bradshaw system that is just amazing. My signal goes straight to my amp 80 percent of the night. It’s hardwired through. For years all I used was two Tube Screamers. I didn’t use any effects because I didn’t want my signal going through my effects all night. I had all these effects lying around from when I first started playing guitar – an Electro-Harmonix Micro Synth, some really crappy effects. Now that I have this switching system I can take them all on the road. I also have an Ibanez DM-2000, one of the first digital delays they ever made. It’s got this bug in it. If you have the flange going and you hit the infinite hold button, it totally freaks out. It makes all these awful sounds. That’s all I use it for.”
With the Bradshaw system, Trey could experiment with new sounds that previously would have affected the quality of his sound. In this phase, which is the phase that most fans love Trey for, his tone is crispy clean. Even when distorted, its a very light distortion (aside from BBFCFM). With both Tube Screamers turned on, his tone is still clean, it never reaches a point where it is actually distorted in the typical sense. For example listen to the solo at the end of Bowie.
What is interesting is that even though his tone is so clean and “normal” (compared to now), it is still so unique. His sustain, as a result of the feedback from his Languedoc, gives his cleanliness a bit of an edge. Suiting for the more rock-based songs. Trey’s tone in this phase is the tone that distinguished him from the rest, from his influences.
Listen to the Stash from Orlando 1995-11-14, one of the greatest versions ever:
Phase 5 (1997-2000)
The change from phase 4 to phase 5 tone is very subtle, and as a result is not noticeable to many people. As a guitarist, I note this as the first stage in the change toward where Trey is today. In ’97, perhaps to suit the funky direction the band was heading in, Trey added a bit more edge to his sound. The noticeable “crunch” in his current tone first appeared in ’97. No longer was his sound immaculately clean.
In ’97, Trey switched to a Fender Deluxe Reverb amplifier, which has a loud vintage tone. Compared with the Mesa’s, Groove Tubes, and Custom Audio Electronic amplifiers that he had used in the past, the Fenders gave him more of a rockish sound. Abandoning the jazz influence that had dominated his tone up to this point, Trey stepped into a more rock-based playing style to suit the tone. I am unsure of which change took place first, the change in playing or the change in tone. This progression toward rock was highlighted when the band chose to cover the Velvet Underground’s “Loaded” on Halloween ’98. The heavy lead lines by Lou Reed, and the standard barre chord format provided the perfect platform for Trey to launch into his new style.
Listen to the Reba from 1998-04-03. Notice the subtle “crunch” that has been added to his tone:
Phase 6 (2003-Present)
The final phase in Trey’s playing has seen a complete overhaul in tone. What started in ’97 with the move toward a more rock-based, edgier tone, continued post-hiatus. In 2000, Trey dropped the Ross compressor from his rig loosening up his sound. The following is an excerpt from a conversation Tom Marshall had with Trey about the Ross:
“Basically, he used the compressor differently than people normally do — often people will place it early in the effects chain to smooth the sound going into the other effects. Trey did it backwards, and had the Ross last — AFTER his two tube screamers. The Ross was always on. Always. His signature Squirming Coil “playable sustain” was the result of full volume pedal and both screamers on and pumping that signal into the Ross.
Me: and so you got rid of it?
Trey: I started playing without it after Phish and found that I could get an “edgier” sound that I can’t get with it.”
In 2003, Trey emerged from the hiatus completely changed. His ’03 tone is the first step towards where he is now marking the change toward the unique sound we hear from him today. Noticeably thinner, and with significantly more treble, his tone has a new edge that was not present before. It has a new piercing sound that he seems to be controlling with a pitch shifter (guitar junkie note: you will notice that he has moved the Digitech Wham to the other side of his mic for greater accessibility. Check HERE for a very in-depth discussion of his new rig etc). Trey’s new tone is far more outside than his previous tones, and somewhat resembles John McLaughlin’s tone on some of the Miles Davis albums (Tribute to Jack Johnson in particular).
Earlier this year, fans convinced Trey to bring back his Ross compressor, and even went to the extent of buying him one. In March at Hampton Coliseum, he brought back his Mesa Boogie Mark III amp as well as the Ross, along with his old speaker cabinets to the delight of many fans. His tone sounds much better than in ’03, which was marked by odd squawks and squeals. We are clearly in the process of transition, as Trey is apparently working very hard on the details behind his new sound. The word is that he has been trying out many different combos of amps and preamps, even taking a few pieces of equipment from Jerry’s rig (an SMS preamp).
It is one of the great mysteries of Phish as to what has driven this most recent tonal change. The new sound seems to accompany the new direction the band’s songwriting is headed. Most of the new songs seem to have a greater focus on rock, and Trey’s new gritty tone seems to suit that. His style of playing has changed significantly, and again, it is hard to tell whether the style or the tone changed first. We can only wait and see what new developments will unfold in the evolution of Trey’s guitar tone.
Listen to the Stealing Time from the Faulty Plan from Red Rocks night 2 (2009-07-31):
What is your favorite phase in the evolution of Trey’s tone? Post your opinions in the comments section below.
It seems as though some people are placed on this earth to fulfill a specific purpose. Often, once their purpose has been fulfilled they are taken from us, serving a nearly prophetic role. Jerry Garcia is one of those people, and it was on this day, 14 years ago, that he was taken from us. Jerry has had a lasting effect on countless people, bringing joy to their lives through his music. Unable to fit within the normal grain of life, Jerry chose to live an introverted life focused mainly around his art and music. However, this was made difficult for him by the massive number of Deadheads who looked to Jerry as their leader. As Bob Weir said after scattering Jerry’s ashes into the Ganges River in India, “May you have peace, Jerry, and travel to the stars.” Below is a quote from Bob Dylan that sums things up quite well:
“There’s no way to measure his greatness or magnitude as a person or as a player. I don’t think eulogizing will do him justice. He was that great – much more than a superb musician with an uncanny ear and dexterity. He is the very spirit personified of whatever is muddy river country at its core and screams up into the spheres. He really had no equal. To me he wasn’t only a musician and friend, he was more like a big brother who taught and showed me more than he’ll ever know. There are a lot of spaces and advances between the Carter Family, Buddy Holly and, say, Ornette Coleman, a lot of universes, but he filled them all without being a member of any school. His playing was moody, awesome, sophisticated, hypnotic and subtle. There’s no way to convey the loss. It just digs down really deep.”
We have chosen 10 extraordinary Dead moments to celebrate this day (big thanks to Dominic!). Each highlights a different period in Jerry’s career. There are also a number of other Jerry related downloads and videos below. By listening to his music, we keep the spirit of Jerry alive.
10 Extraordinary Grateful Dead Moments
1. 1969-02-22 - Mountains Of The Moon> Dark Star> Cryptical Envelopment> Drums> The Other One> Cryptical Envelopment
Listen to the second part of Cryptical Envelopment:
2. 1970-06-24 – Darkstar>Attics of My Life>Dark star>Sugar Magnolia>Darkstar>St. Stephen>China Cat>I know You Rider
Listen to the intro to this epic Darkstar:
3. 1971-04-29 – The Alligator>Drums>Jam>GDTRDB>Cold Rain & Snow
Listen to the Jam in between Drums and GDTRFB:
4. 1972-12-31 - Truckin>The Other One>Morning Dew
Listen to The Other One:
5. 1973-03-24 – Playin’ in the Band
Listen to Playin’ in the Band:
6. 1973-09-07 – Eyes of the World
Listen to Eyes of the World:
7. 1977-05-09 – Comes a Time
Listen to Comes a Time:
8. 1977-12-27 – Estimated Prophet
Listen to the Estimated Prophet:
9. 1982-09-21 – China Cat Sunflower>I Know You Rider
Listen to China Cat Sunflower:
10. 1987-03-02 – Feel Like a Stranger
Listen to Feel Like a Stranger:
Downloads and Videos
Jerry Garcia Band
DOWNLOAD 1978-10-07 Keystone Palo Alto, Palo Alto, CA
New Riders of the Purple Sage
The Grateful Dead, Wharf Rat, 1981-03-28 Grugga Hall, Essen, Germany
The Grateful Dead, New Speedway Boogie, 1970-07-03 McMahon Stadium, Calgary, Canada
Here is the setlist for tonight’s show. The AUD download for last night’s show is also below.
- The Mango Song
- Chalk Dust Torture
- Middle Of The Road
- Twenty Years Later
- Ya Mar
- It’s Ice
- Wolfman’s Brother
- Character Zero >
- Run Like An Antelope
- Rock & Rolll >
- Makisupa Policeman
- The Wedge
- You Enjoy Myself
- Backwards Down The Number Line >
- Good Times Bad Times
- Tweezer Reprise
Each Saturday, from now on, we will feature a download and some choice videos. Today, we start off with quite a treat. Enjoy the weekend!
On December 1, 1970 at Curtis Hixon Hall, two of the greatest guitar players ever came together. Derek and the Dominoes performed, featuring Eric Clapton and Duane Allman. This recording is of particular significance as it is the only known live recording of the duo. The collaborations in this show are incredible, this is a must listen for any Slowhand or Skydog fan! Click on the link below to download the show.
This is a video of Phish performing The Velvet Underground’s Oh Sweet Nothing at Shoreline on 2009-08-05.
This video is of The Allman Brothers Band performing In Memory of Elizabeth Reed from the Fillmore East in 1970.
1. Down With Disease
3. Pebbles And Marbles
6. Destiny Unbound
8. Sneakin’ Sally >
1. The Moma Dance >
2. Light >
6. Bathtub Gin >
7. Harry Hood
1. Slave To The Traffic Light
After starting the second leg of the summer tour with 4 nights at Red Rocks – 4 shows that surpassed everyone’s expectation – and after a fiery show at Shoreline, Phish is ready to head to the tip of Northwestern US for their 5th 2-day gig at the Gorge Amphitheatre in George, Washington.
Whenever Phish decides to play at the Gorge, they elect to play back-to-back days. They have never played at the Gorge one day without following it up with another show the next day. Their first show at the Gorge was in 1997, when they played shows on August 2nd and 3rd. Liking their time so much there, Phish would play 2-day gigs the next two years around the same time. After taking a four year break from the venue (which mostly was due to hiatus), Phish returned in 2003 to play their 2-day affair, which until today was their last appearance at the mesmerizing venue.
While Phish enjoys playing particular songs at certain venues (for various reasons), I noticed that not one song was played every time during their 4 2-day runs at the Gorge. That being said, ‘Divided Sky’ and ‘Punch You In The Eye’ were played at three of the four 2-day runs. So if you were to ask me to make predictions for what they were to play these next two days, it would be extremely difficult, and any guess i had would be purely based on what they played the last 5 shows. ‘Punch You’ is still fair game to be played, but after playing ‘Divided Sky’ at Red Rocks and then again at Shoreline, i would guess its going to be shelved for later in the tour. In their first ever show at the Gorge, Phish opened with ‘Theme from the Bottom’, which has not been played since the Asheville show on June 9, 2009, so its a great possibility it will be played. Phish’s first ever show at Red Rocks was opened with Divided Sky, which was their opener to start their 4-day run their this past week.
The fact that, historically, Phish’s setlists have been so spontaneous at the Gorge, just enhances the experience of this treasured venue. I would say Phish has been very impromptu this whole second leg, and it will certainly continue these next two days.
If you aren’t excited about what these next two shows have in store, take a listen to the Disease from the Gorge ’97 show, this should get you pumped!
For anyone interested in listening to the live feed, the people over at hoodstream.com have been doing a great job in getting the live audio, and sometimes even accompanied video for us. If we find a live stream worthy of watching or listening to we will post it for you guys as soon as possible (probably via twitter).
Check back later here for reviews, setlists, and AUD downloads!
Also, be sure to check out twitter for the latest posts and updates. Follow us on twitter: http://twitter.com/dogoneblog
In late 2008, shortly after Phish announced their reunion, fans began petitioning for a change in Trey’s guitar tone. Conversations along these lines had surfaced in ’03 when Trey re-emerged with an entirely new sound. Never before in the history of any band had the fans taken such an active roll in trying to shape the sound of the band they love so much. This unique aspect of Phish is one of the most compelling parts about being a fan. The experience that one gets is more than just listening to music. It’s about being part of a community, laughing when the band makes a mistake, and feeling like the band and the crowd are in it together.
So, when fans suggested Trey bring back his Ross compressor pedal, he listened. And he has been using it since the reuniting shows in March. Even though Rolling Stone wrote an article about it, many fans do not fully understand the mechanics behind Trey’s sound. I often stumble across message board threads where fans are trying to find words to explain what they are hearing. “Whale siren” or “guitar light-saber battle”, are just a couple of the ones I’ve seen. Today, I hope to try and shed some light on Trey’s unique tone and how it has evolved over the years. Starting from the beginning, I will discuss each of the major phases and how they helped shape the sound of the band. Be sure to check back Monday for part II!
Phase 1 (1982-1985)
Trey’s early guitar tone is characterized by a thin, distorted, mid-rangy sound. Equipped with his mesa boogie amp (the same one he brought back this year in Hampton) and Ibanez guitar, Trey had yet to develop what would later become his signature tone. Influenced by Jimmy Page, Jimi Hendrix, Zappa, Duane Allman and Jerry Garcia (along with others), Trey attempted to combine aspects from each of their sounds into his own. His tone is noticeably similar to Duane Allman, as his close friend Marc Daubert mentioned in an interview with Hidden Track earlier this year (click HERE to read the interview):
“At the time, Trey had his amp positioned in his father’s basement to give a sort of natural reverb to the sound. This combined with a Mesa-Boogie amp created a Duane Allman-sounding effect.”
This phase in Trey’s tone does not cut through the mix well, and makes for a fairly cluttered sound, highly uncharacteristic of later Phish. His sound is much more rockish than later years, and does not suit the softer Dead covers, which were very common in early shows. The range of effects Trey uses during this period is narrow, as he had yet to acquire a proper switching system. Below, I have included the Mike’s Song from 1985-05-03 from the UVM Wilks/Davis Wing Dorm BBQ (Page’s first show, although he does not sit in until later), which provides an early glimpse at Trey’s guitar playing. Notice the very different sound in his tone, in particular its similarity to Duane Allman.
Phase 2 (1986-1989)
The next phase in Trey’s tone saw a significant change in sound. After meeting guitar luthier Paul Languedoc (who was working at Time guitars), Trey explored a new sound that would lay the ground for later developments. Trey used a Time guitar for a shord period of time before asking Paul to make him a custom guitar. On Paul’s website, Mike says the following:
“Our relationship with Paul began in the mid 80′s when Anastasio visited Time Guitars, the electric guitar company in Vermont where Paul was working. First Trey wanted some work on his factory-made instrument, but soon he bought a Time guitar, and had ideas for custom features and other guitars. I remember going to Time Guitars with Trey once or twice – it was in an old barn, and there were a bunch of employees. One of the first projects Paul completed for Trey was a “mini-guitar,” which was only half the size of a normal electric guitar, and was made out of Bubinga. It was Paul who eventually conceived of the hollow-body models that Trey has been using for many years, based on Trey’s desire for an organic tone.”
Once Trey acquired his first Languedoc, known as “Old Reliable”, sustained notes and less distortion created a jazzier, more unique tone. As Trey continued to improve his playing and stray further from his influences, a new sound began to emerge. His tone in this period is still thinner than later years, however, it is clearly more jazz influenced. Similar to jazz guitarists, Trey cranks his midrange setting which gives him a deep funky sound, as is heard in songs such as Alumni Blues. Listen to this YEM from Goddard college on October 29, 1988 to see an example of Trey’s phase 2 tone.
Phase 3 (1990-1993)
The third phase in the evolution of Trey’s tone is perhaps the most important, and would go on to truly define Trey’s sound. Equipped with his second Langeudoc, the padauk blonde, Trey leaned away from any particular style and began melding them into one. His jazz influence continued to play a roll, as is seen in early songs such as Flat Fee, however he delved equally into rock. “Lawn Boy”, which was released, in 1990 is a perfect example of Trey’s tone at this point in time. This period is marked by significantly less distortion, resulting in a far cleaner tone. His tone is noticeably bassier, which is likely caused by his jazz influence. With regard to his gear, a guitar player interview from ’93 says he uses “Mesa Mark III pumps a 2×12 cab, while a volume pedal, a Ross compressor, and a pair of Ibanez Tube Screamers fill out his effects roster.” So at this point, the Ross was already a part of his rig. It’s main feature is to balance the peaks and valleys in volume. So the loudest notes and the quietest notes are balanced out through the pedal. It also allows for greater sustain, as can be heard in the solo for The Squirming Coil. The following example is of Foam from The Stowe Performing Arts Center in Vermont from July 25, 1992. Listen to Trey’s solo at 4:12, pay particular attention to the contrast in tone to the previous phases. Check back Monday as we will move right up to his current tone and analyze the entire progression!
Have a great weekend! Enjoy this video below of Phish performing Lushington>Possum from 5/20/87. Notice Trey’s time guitar and his phase 2 tone.