The house lights go dark. The pre-show music stops. Everyone rises to their feet. Phish takes the stage. Quickly turning to those around you, you make your last minute stab in the dark at the opener. Then it happens. The first note is played, releasing all the angst that has been building since the last show. Whether it was only one night, a few days, or several years, the feeling is always the same. From the moment the show starts, until the moment it ends, one cannot help but feel as though they are removed from their normal walk of life. Transplanted into another realm, with Phish as our Sheppard, we follow them on journeys that become etched in our minds for all eternity.
Once again, this Friday, we will be brought into the world of Phish. Only this time things will be different. Phish has never had a Halloween festival, and the simple thought of it is fun, new and creative. In 2000, when the band took their first hiatus, they stated they were on a mission to regain their creative spark, and understandably so.
After taking their music to such incredible heights, so many different times, one has to wonder “what will they do next?”. Phish has never been comfortable remaining stagnant, and no great artist ever was. The Beatles were constantly changing, so was Miles. Dylan is still evolving, and so is Phish. But at a certain point, like writers’ block, one draws blank when in search of creativity. So after five years we are all wondering – has the creative spark been rekindled? Every indication points to the answer being an overwhelming yes.
Trey has just come off the performance that every musician dreams of – playing Carnegie Hall. Mike is writing and playing at a level we have never seen from him before. Phish are back to doing the things we love them for. They seem happy doing it. We are happy seeing them do it.
Being a fan is a full time job these days, as the band seems to be pouring with creativity. Whether it be the videos the band has been using to make announcements, the on-stage antics, the music, everything surrounding Festival 8 – this is surely one of the most exciting times in Phish history.
When the band returned in 2003, things were not like they are today. At times, there was a decline in the quality of music. But, as Trey said on Festivalography the other day, there was progress. This summer, as the tour progressed, so did the band. Gaining confidence and comfort, Phish seemingly returned to where they had left off in ’00 – pushing a new style into uncharted territory. In 2003, it seemed the band was attempting to go in this new direction, but lost the spark before it could ever fully emerge.
This Friday, we will see the band develop further. Who knows what effect the Halloween Set will have, if any? Who knows what late-night antics will occur? We’ve talked about this festival for months, and now it is only days away. What Phish has in store for us I can only dream of…
To everyone departing in the coming days, we wish you a safe and happy journey. See you in Indio!
Here’s a little gem from The Centrum on the ’95 NYE run. Enjoy!
With many of us departing in the coming days, there are so many things to think about. One is how the band’s new songs will develop. What will the next step be? How will they inject their rediscovered creativity into these new numbers, and what direction will they ultimately take? These are the types of questions that are starting to fill our heads with the first set only days away.
Party Time, which has yet to arrive, features several songs that have yet to be played. A few are likely to debut over the weekend, with endless possibilities as to which direction they will take. Many of the recordings we are going on are from the Bearsville Sessions, which took place over a decade ago. It’s safe to say they have likely evolved. The songs on Joy also were just begining to develop. And to add to the mix, many of the songs off Undermind have yet to receive proper treatment. Here are 8 songs that we think are likely to further develop either this weekend, or during the upcoming fall tour:
Performed twice by Trey with his solo band on 8.7.08 and 10.21.08, “Gone” is a darker song that would be a perfect jam vehicle once the sun goes down. I can easily see this one coming out on Halloween night, making its debut and leading into a heavy jam. The song’s standard rock focus fits well with the band’s new direction and shows a more personal side of Trey’s songwriting. Both times Trey played the song, he seemed to be pouring his emotions into the solos. I can’t wait to see what direction this song takes.
“Splinters of Hail”
Splinters of Hail has a very CSNYish vibe, and sounds very different from anything Phish has ever written. The song features all acoustic instruments, and therefore will most likely be played during the acoustic set. The vocal harmonies in this song are incredible, as are the arrangements. Likely to lead into a delicate acoustic jam, the fragile music will provide the perfect soundtrack to our morning of coffee and figure 8 shaped donuts.
“Splinters of Hail” Party Time studio version
Another song that is likely to be debuted during the acoustic set, “Misty Glade” could turn out to be very interesting. “Misty Glade” features Jon on vocals and was originally recorded during the Bearsville Sessions. The song’s contrasting major and minor sections make for a very interesting listen.
“Misty Glade” (Bearsville Sessions)
Featuring a slow, reggae groove, this song would fit perfectly in a day-time set in the California sun. Again sung by Jon, and featuring one of his quirky drum patterns, the song could potentially explode into a full out reggae jam. With the ground surrounded by palm trees, and hot weather, it’s likely we’ll see the band delve into some reggae-grooves. “Shrine” seems like a perfect place to start.
“Fishman Tune 1″ (Bearsville Sessions)
This song is sure to blow into an all out jam at Festival 8. The song was only played once in Columbia, where the band seemed to be loving every minute. The song’s deep percussive groove, and playful lyrics are sure to lead to an extended jam. In Columbia, as Trey soloed along the feel-good melody, the song’s potential was hinted at. “Party Time” would make for the perfect opener to the festival in my opinion.
“Party Time” 8.15.09
“Only a Dream”
“Only a Dream” was explored heavily by Mike’s band over the course of the summer and is sure to make its debut soon enough. The song’s standard rock rhythm fits well the band’s new direction, similar to “Gone”. Trey builds a solo similar to “Carini” toward the end of the song which then fades out. If this is any indication of the song’s jamming potential, all signs seem very good.
“Only a Dream” Party Time studio version
“Backwards Down the Number Line”
Since last summer when the song was debuted, we slowly saw “Backwards” come into its own as a defining song for Phish 3.0. The feel good lyrics, and upbeat rhythm make for a perfect launchpad for an extended jam. Over the course of the summer tour, the song grew with the culmination of its growth taking place at SPAC in the form of a 20 minute psychedelic jam. Up until that point, the song had slowly been growing, as the band gradually extended the jams. In Chicago the song saw a 14 minute journey, offering a glimpse of the excursion that would take place days later in Saratoga. Everyone knows this song is ready to make its next leap, and we personally can’t wait.
“Stealing Time from the Faulty Plan”
Arguably the best song on the new album, but yet to make any sort of extended improvisational journey. This leaves us wondering, and waiting for the time when the song will make its inevitable journey into the unknown. The energetic guitar lines throughout the song create the ideal platform for a raging jam.
“Stealing Time” 7.31.09
Many people are staying away from Festival 8 rumors, to avoid ruining the surprise. To respect those people, we won’t post anymore rumors on the main page. Click on our ‘Dog Gone News‘ section to check out the latest rumors from now on. That aside, let’s dive into today’s edition of ‘Ambient Alarm Clock’.
With the majority of Phish’s fan’s residing in the Northeast, the coming days will see Phishheads from all walks of life making their way to Indio, CA. Whether flying, driving, biking – whatever gets you there – we will all be feeling the same emotions as we embark on a journey that is sure to leave us with memories for years to come. What awaits us behind the gates of the Empire Polo Club will be revealed in a matter of days, and at this point, there are no words to describe the overwhelming excitement.
As we prepare for our respective journeys, one of the most important parts in the preparation will be selecting our music for the trip. Sure, everyone will have their top picks for the musical costume on hand, but this is California we’re headed to, we need as much music as we can carry. Some of us have long journeys ahead, and that requires hours of tunes to keep us entertained. So, today we have prepared some great shows that you can throw on your IPod for your trip to Indio. These shows are all very special, each one is a gem. So, here are some of the shows we’re loading up for our trip:
1991.10.24 Prescott College, Prescott, AZ
This incredible show from Prescott College, was a very Phishy affair. Prior to the first set, Trey mentioned how much Prescott reminded him of Goddard. Poetry readings took place by “Fern” before the show and at the set break, and the band fed on this intimate environment, delivering an amazing performance, start to finish.
The first set is highlighted by the combination of “TMWSIY>Avenu Malkenu>TMWSIY>Bowie”. The segue into “Bowie” features a wildly outside jam, taking on a carnival-like sound (with loads of Secret Language). This “Bowie” is loaded with energy throughout and features a very groovy jam. As the band locks into a funky groove, Trey’s guitar playing takes the helm as he delivers one of his best solos. Trey rolls through an octave section, a definite nod to Wes Mongomery, before locking into one of his famous drone-licks. The song concludes with some raging screaming from Mike and Trey, a hint at the energy flowing that night. If you aren’t familiar with this Bowie, as I suspect many people aren’t, make sure you put it at the top of your playlist for the trip.
The second set carries the fire of the first opening with a heavy “Mike’s Groove”. “Tube” came as a welcome bustout after being absent for 112 shows. Unfortunately, “Memories” and “Adeline” were performed without mics and are not included in the download.
1993.8.15 The Macauley Theater, Louisville, KY
From Louisville, KY, this show took place in August ’93, a time when the band was delivering magical performances on a nightly basis. Following two legendary shows, which have both been released by Livephish, the band headed into Kentucky carrying the energy from the two prior nights. What begins as a reasonably tame first set becomes an all out show of improvisational force when the band drops into “Stash”. This version is different from any other, beginning with a subtle jam that builds tension as the music slowly thickens. The release comes in the form of a divine melodic resolution, parting from the song’s frequent path toward the dark. The second set is highlighted by the standout versions of “Tweezer”, “Maze”, and “Harry”.
1994.11.28 Field House, Montana State University, Bozeman, MT
No trip, for us, would be complete without one of the standout shows from November ’94, or an extended “Tweezer”. This show has both. During this period the band was showcasing the outside, exploratory jamming that was taking jams to heights never reached before. Intent on extending jams, and listening with a rare closeness, the band was breaking down barriers nightly. The first set is reasonably contained, however, the second set revolves around the massive “Tweezer” that was dropped. Extending over 40 minutes, and venturing through various musical grounds, this “Tweezer” acted as the culmination of the progress the song had gone through during ’94. Part of this version appears on A Live One, prior to “YEM, as the interlude titled simply “Montana”. A great gem to sit back and zone-out to on the long journey to Indio.
1999.10.2 The Target Center, Minneapolis, MN
“Llama” openers often lead to good things, and this show is a prime example. Following in the minimalistic jamming style that defined ’99, the band allows the music to take control. They do not over-think the music or try to make jams happen. As a result, the band and the fans are greatly rewarded.
The show begins with a space-filled set highlighted by an often-overlooked “Split”. Over top the song’s heavy groove, Trey shreds the jam to pieces with his vibe-heavy tone. The second set is where the fire really takes place. Begining with a slowed-down, spacey “Tweezer”, the set leads into one of my favorite rare covers, Little Feat’s “On Your Way Down”. Without pause, the set reaches its climax in the form of a 20 minute “Piper” followed by a funky version of “YEM”. “Piper” features a funky, ambient jam that ventures toward the Cosmos with the aid of Trey’s loops.
With the first set of Festival 8 starting one week from today, preparations are in full swing for the Phish community to descend upon Indio. In the past weeks, many of us have listened to albums that have gone unheard for years. Many others have discovered new music that they have come to love. All thanks to Phish. The past months have been exciting with all the speculation and unfolding sequence of events. As the final preparations for the trip out west are made, every Phish fan has hopes for the Festival, aside from the Halloween set. Here are some of ours:
“It’s Ice” was played at Hampton, and only once on the summer tour – the second night at the Gorge. This song is different from other Phish songs, it matches masterful composing with deep, insightful lyrics. Trey talked about the song’s lyrics in an interview with Shelly Culbertson from ’91:
“…do you get that he has a battle with his image underneath? I love those lyrics. To me, they’re some of Tom’s best. It’s a tough tune. Is that the image you got? They battle it out. The guy is under the ice, trying… I love those lyrics. I was completely blown away when he gave me those lyrics.”
At Hampton, the song featured an extended ambient section, and was one of the highlights of the second night. This lead many of us to believe that it would be a staple for the summer tour. The single performance gives us hope. Mike mentioned how the band was trying to keep the catalog small, as they regained their comfort. During the second leg, as the band’s confidence grew, so did the list of songs. This one is at the top of the list for a reason.
“It’s Ice” 8.24.93
I feel like people have forgot about this song. It was last played at Deer Creek in ’04, and has always been a rare favorite. Since the first time it was performed live, on 6.13.97 in Dublin (the song was unofficially debuted at Brand Sand’s house on 6.6.97), the band has used the song as a vehicle for bright, melodic jams. A perfect first set day-time song, and a welcome compliment to the picturesque surroundings.
Only played once in ’09 – at Hampton – the song’s reggae groove will provide the ideal backdrop as we bask in the California sun. The deterring factor keeping this one off setlists is most likely the fugue, “The Asse Festival”, featured in the song. With the recent time-off to polish up the composed section, this one should make its way back in to the rotation.
“Guelah Papyrus” 8.3.91
Not played once in 2009, either “Roggae” has been shelved, or is about to make a bustout comeback. Last played at the Thomas & Mack in ’04, “Roggae” is another song that has often lead to slow, melodic jams. There doesn’t seem to be any reason as to why this song hasn’t been played – its structure is very simple. Nonetheless, I know several people who are eagerly waiting for this song to make its return. Another ideal day-time song.
In 2008, when Trey returned from his own personal hiatus, he brought with him a new approach to his guitar playing. Incorporating his styles from the past, mixed with a new tone and some new tricks, Trey had a very unique new sound. When listening to Trey’s solo performances from ’06 and prior, a different style is heard, yet the foundations were put in place for him to develop it further.
During his extended period of solidarity, he surely had time to contemplate what he would do upon his return. Composing “Time Turns Elastic” was a large part, but another part of it was altering his sound and songwriting direction. The ultimate result is the product of the five years Trey spent away from Phish. During that period he had time to push his own sound further, whereas in the past a great deal of his efforts were put into forming the sound of the band. We’ve talked about this before in our two part article The Evolution of Trey’s Tone Part I, Part II. Today, we take it a step further looking at a specific element of Trey’s new style than applies to more that just his tone: the Digitech Whammy.
Guitar players will literally laugh at the idea of this pedal becoming an integral part of Trey’s new sound. Anyone who has ever used it will know of its cheesy-sounding effects, reminiscent of Tom Morello’s playing. But somehow, Trey has managed to sculpt its sound into a crisp, psychedelic sounding tool. The pedal has many functions, including awkward sounding harmonizers, a “dive bomb” (think Eddie Van Halen) function, and several detuning options. Trey has taken a liking to the detuning feature, which essentially bends the pitch of his notes deeper when using the pedal. By using this when soloing, he adds a rich color, creating a sound I have never heard before. Check out this clip of “Ocelot” from the first night of the Gorge this summer, notice the pitch-shifting going on.
The Digitech Whammy is in no way a new addition to Trey’s rig. The pedal has been with him for years, and has served different purposes during different phases. Initially Trey used it purely for outside psychedelic sounds. The pedal was then used for looping, providing the famous siren-like sound, and was also used extensively in the cover of Remain in Light (listen to the solo for Born Under Punches). In the past the pedal sat off to the side of Trey’s rig, however, recently Trey has relocated the pedal right infront of his mic, for easy access. If you have ever seen Trey lift his guitar over his head, waving it from side to side with roaring feedback, he was using the wham to shift the pitch of the feedback giving it that crazy light-saber sound.
In the coming weeks we will have a chance to see how Trey has further developed his tone, and his style since we last saw him. During the summer, he was trying numerous set-ups attempting to perfect his sound. Given the recent time off, his sound should be as crisp as ever come 8. Just another thing to think about.
Remember this gem from the summer? A perfect example of Trey’s new style of playing.
Set 1: Down with Disease, Ocelot, Pebbles and Marbles > Possum, Sleep, Destiny Unbound, Stash, Sneakin’ Sally through the Alley > Cavern
Set 2: The Moma Dance, Light -> Taste, Fluffhead, Joy, Bathtub Gin > Harry Hood
Encore: Slave to the Traffic Light
As Festival 8 looms closer, thoughts of what will go down seem to be reaching all new levels. Moving past the musical costume, acoustic set, and various goodies that await us at Festival 8, people have now begun to discuss what will be played. The idea of a new song being debuted, which seemed like the furthest thought in our minds a few months back, is now at the top of the list. What will they open with, will there be a special late-night set? So many thoughts flow as we come closer to reaching the date we have so long awaited.
One song in particular has been on my mind – “Ghost”. The atmosphere of a Halloween festival provides the ideal platform for an extended journey on the song. The song fits perfectly with the spooky spirit of Halloween, and coupled with the surroundings, the foundations for the song to take-off seem to be in place. In the past, Halloween has been played indoors with the confines of curfews and touring schedules. However, at 8, the band has nowhere to be, and there sure as hell won’t be any curfews. That said, the ingredients for a legendary “Ghost” throw-down seem to be in place.
Over the course of the summer, several standout versions of “Ghost” were played, showing everyone the continued potential the song has. After the wild second set “Ghost” at Hartford, we were left wanting more. As the song began to break new ground, the tour suddenly ended, leaving the ‘latch unhooked’ for future exploration. 8 provides the ideal place for the next journey into the song’s funky grooves, and with nothing holding it back, the possibilities seem endless. Lets now take a look at some memorable versions of “Ghost”, and let me tell you, there are lots. Here are a few worth special mention:
“Ghost” 12.31.98 [SBD!]
Set 1: My Soul, Chalk Dust Torture, Billy Breathes, Heavy Things, Back on the Train, Split Open and Melt, Sparkle, Horn, Bathtub Gin
Set 2: Bouncing Around the Room > David Bowie, Sand, The Mango Song, Ghost > Rock and Roll
Encore: Bug > Golgi Apparatus
This show features the epic “Ghost” from above. One of my favorite versions ever coming on the second night of Phish’s 2 night run at the storied venue.
Some of the recent discussions around Festival 8 seem to forget exactly who we’re dealing with here. “Phish can’t…”, “Phish won’t…” simply aren’t concepts that enter my head. At a Phish show, and more specifically a Phish festival, anything is possible. While certain aspects remain the same, there are always new elements – surprises – that keep us guessing. For example, everyone knows what’s in store when the band drops into “Tweezer” or “Bowie”. But sometimes, Phish will guide the most unlikely of songs into extended jams, reminding us of their incredible improvisational abilities. As Trey has said before, any song can lead to a jam if the feeling is right. Today we look back on several songs that, although rarely jammed on, have led to memorable improvisational journeys.
Phish’s classic composition has been played so many times over the years, generally leading to a point of musical release during the concise solo. However, at Alpine Valley in ’99 Phish took the song for an extended, melodic journey. The song leads into its usual solo, resolving the tension that has been accumulating throughout. However, when Trey hits a wailing high note, the song launches into an unexpected extended jam.
“The Mango Song>The Happy Whip and Dung Song” 7.24.99
From the same show as the “Fluffhead” above, this “Mango Song” will surprise any Phish fan. The song normally leads to a bright, melodic jam over the chord progression,typically ending with Page’s repeating high-notes. However, in this rare classic, the band launches into an extended melodic jam with Trey’s guitar soaring above. When the jam recedes to a series of layered effects, the music segues into the far-out, dark grooves of “The Happy Whip and Dung Song” providing the ideal musical contrast.
On the Fall ’97 run when everything Phish touched turned to gold, they decided to pay “Julius” the tribute it had so long deserved. In my opinion, “Julius” is an example of how Phish can write music in so many different genres, and have it sound authentic. Trey, who has shown his ability to dominate blues jams on numerous occasions, highlights this jam with his incredible lead work. The band flows over the song’s straightforward rhythm, with Trey diving into and out of wild bluesy guitar solos, reminiscent of the Duane Allman.
“Ya Mar” 8.2.03
This song has been known to take the odd journey, resulting in some memorable jams (i.e. 12.13.97, 4.5.98 to name a couple). However, at the IT festival, the band took the song on perhaps its most memorable journey to date. The jam diverts from its regular course, heading into some very deep improv. Taking a rhythmic focus, the band adapts, synchopating their notes to create a dense layer of spacey sounds. Jon’s drumming, which involves some very complex patterns, stands out as the highlight of the jam. This Ya Mar is an absolute monster, and a complete surprise coming at a very early point in the festival.
“Frankie Says” 12.28.03
I don’t see why this song doesn’t venture further out more often. The eerie sounds and spacey vibe seem like the perfect launch-pad for a dark exploratory journey. On the ’03 NYE run in Miami, the song was taken for an extended trip to the depths of musical discovery, showing the songs hidden potential. Situated in the middle of the first set, this jam literally came from nowhere, knocking everyone off their feet. The jam gets very dark as Trey drops the octave of his guitar, giving him the classic deep-detuned Jimi sound. Jon provides a thick layer of percussion, filling the jam with a dense texture, that Trey appropriately shreds to pieces. This was a glimpse at the potential heights this song could reach, given its dark, eerie feel.
I have uploaded all of the songs from above into a rar file on mediafire. Download it below. Enjoy.
What are your favorite unexpected jams? Let us know in the comments section!
Today we’re adding a new weekly feature to the site, Ambient Alarm Clock. As many of you know, this was the name of Trey’s radio program at UVM back in the 80′s. The basic idea is to select some great jams for you to throw on every Monday, to help ease you into the week. There’s nothing like throwing on a nice spacey jam while the sun comes up, and you get your day started.
If you have any suggestions or requests, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. In the future we’ll throw in music other than Phish, but with all the Festival 8 hype right now, it’s hard to listen to anything else. Unfortunately, I had very little time to put this together, so I quickly made some picks and added them. Consider this an abbreviated version. Today’s picks take a trip through the spacey grooves of ’99, a time in which the band pushed ambient psychedelia to an entirely new level. But first, we start off with a clip of Trey DJing on WENT Radio. I hope you enjoy.
Trey plays DJ Krush/DJ Coldcut on WENT Radio
“Bathtub Gin>Simple” 12.7.99
“Bug>My Left Toe” 6.30.99
As was promised last week, we will continue providing downloads of Phish’s past festivals in the run up to 8. Here’s day 2 of the Clifford Ball.
DOWNLOAD 1996.8.17 The Clifford Ball, Plattsburgh Air Force Base, Plattsburgh, NY [SBD]
Set 1: The Old Home Place, Punch You In the Eye, Reba > Cars Trucks Buses, The Lizards, Sample in a Jar, Taste, Fee -> Maze, Suzy Greenberg
Set 2: The Curtain, Runaway Jim, It’s Ice, Brother, Fluffhead, Run Like an Antelope, Golgi Apparatus, Slave to the Traffic Light
Set 3: Wilson, Frankenstein, Scent of a Mule, Tweezer, A Day in the Life, Possum > Tweezer Reprise
Notes: This was the second show of The Clifford Ball festival. Before the second set, Trey paid tribute to Aaron Stein of Syracuse, who was front row center for every show of the tour. The first Brother since August 2, 1993 (257 shows) featured Ben and Jerry on guest vocals. Wilson included a Heartbreaker tease. Antelope featured a female acrobat twirling in the rigging, suspended above the stage in a circus-like fashion. Scent of a Mule featured a Page/Fishman duel instead of the typical Page/Trey duel. Tweezer had big trampolines on each side of the stage and more circus shenanigans. A stunt plane circled overhead during Tweezer Reprise and Harpua. Harpua was unfinished; it was completed on August 16, 1997 at The Great Went.
(Setlist courtesy of Phish.net)
With Festival 8 just around the corner, we thought we’d look back today at the show that formed the idea for the Phish festival. In early 1991, Phish began to develop the idea to play as far off the normal circuit as possible, and with as few boundaries as possible. On 8.3.91 at Amy Skelton’s Farm in Auburn, ME, the band’s concept came to life in an extended show played in the middle of nowhere. With nothing to limit their creativity, the band delivered a show that would lead them to pursue the concept further. This was an important show in Phish history, highlighted by the second set “Curtain” opener, followed by versions of “Reba” and “YEM” packed with incredible lead work from Trey. The second encore of “Harry” is very interesting, and quite different from other versions. If you haven’t heard it, check it out. Enjoy the weekend.
“Harry Hood” 8.3.91
Set 1: Wilson, Foam, Runaway Jim, Guelah Papyrus, Llama, Fee, The Squirming Coil, Poor Heart, The Sloth, The Divided Sky, Golgi Apparatus
Set 2: The Curtain, Reba, Chalk Dust Torture, Bouncing Around the Room, Tweezer, Esther, Cavern, I Didn’t Know, You Enjoy Myself, Rocky Top
Set 3: Stash, Ya Mar, Fluffhead, Lawn Boy, My Sweet One, The Lizards, Buried Alive > Possum
Encore: Magilla, Self, Bitchin’ Again, Crimes of the Mind
Encore 2: Harry Hood
Notes: This was a free show. YEM featured an infamous “no gerbils in your bottom” vocal jam. Self, Bitchin’ Again, and Crimes of the Mind (the last two debuts) featured The Dude of Life, and Bitchin’ Again also featured Sofi Dillof. Buried Alive featured Jamie Janover on didgeridoo. Self was played for the first time since September 13, 1990 (132 shows).
(Setlist courtesy of Phish.net)
While we sit and ponder the potential musical costumes, constantly checking to see which have been axed off, another mystery has us guessing and speculating – the acoustic set. As we have been attempting to analyze the possible albums, we have also taken it upon ourselves to put together some potential songs for the acoustic set. Let’s first take a look at some of Phish’s acoustic music from past years.
In ’93 Phish began to add some acoustic flavor to their shows, featuring Trey on acoustic guitar during “Horse” and parts of “My Friend, My Friend”. An acoustic intro section to “Maze” was also composed, appearing on 2.6.93 at the Roseland Ballroom in New York. “Ginseng Sullivan”, a song that would become a staple in later for soundchecks, also made its debut in ’93.
Phish would go on to explore acoustic music further in 1994, dedicating sections of their sets to acoustic music with no microphones. In the spring and fall of ’94, Phish began to introduce several new acoustic numbers including “Dog Faced Boy”, “Nellie Kane”, “My Mind’s Got a Mind of Its Own”, “Old Home Place”, Boston’s “Foreplay/Longtime” along with several more. These numbers featured Trey on acoustic guitar, Mike on banjo, Jon on mandolin, and Page on an upright bass. With the help of Rev. Jeff Mosier, the band took their acoustic playing to an entirely new level, exploring bluegrass music in depth. Who knows, maybe they’ll bring out the old bluegrass set-up for the acoustic set at 8.
The band delved deeper into the sounds of acoustic music in 1995 incorporating the four-guitar piece “Acoustic Army” in to many of their sets. This unique number features all four members of the band on (open-tuned) acoustic guitars, and explores the style that Trey would later incorporate into “The Inlaw Josie Wales” and other acoustic compositions. “Acoustic Army” was played heavily throughout ’95, before hitting the shelves after the show on 12.8.95 in Cleveland. Can you imagine this song making an appearance at 8?
At Red Rocks in ’96, the band introduced their acoustic mini-stage, debuting “Talk”. The mini-stage followed the band to Deer Creek on 8.13.96, and most famously to the Clifford Ball on 8.16.96. The songs by this point had changed to original acoustic Phish compositions including “Waste”, “Strange Design”, “Train Song” and “Talk”.
After ’96, as the band deeply explored funk, acoustic music simply didn’t fit the sets. However, in ’98 Phish performed two benefit shows, completely acoustic, sparking the band to explore acoustic music once again. New acoustic tunes began to surface such as “Sleep” and “Driver” and “Wading in the Velvet Sea”. In ’99 the band continued to debut new acoustic numbers including “The Inlaw Josie Wales”, showing Trey’s incredible ability to compose masterpieces for electric and acoustic guitar.
Recently, Trey has admittedly taken a keen interest for the acoustic guitar. In the summer of 2008 he performed his first entirely acoustic solo shows, marking his comeback in a very humble way. A great deal of the music for “Time Turns Elastic” was composed using alternate tunings. A video of Trey performing “TTE” acoustic can be seen on his website (click here to watch the video). That said, the acoustic set could turn out to be a very interesting experience.
[Guitar Note: Trey originally used a Wentzell acoustic, he then moved to a series of Martin's including D-28's and D-45's. He is now alternating between his Martin DC Trey Anastaso Signature Edition, and a D-45.]
Here are some acoustic numbers Phish has performed in the past that may appear in the set at 8.
“Billy Breathes” 10.18.98
“Old Home Place” 10.18.98
(Other potential choices are: “Ginseng Sullivan”, “Nellie Kane”, “Dog Faced Boy”, “Train Song”, “Inlaw Josie Wales”, “Foreplay/Longtime” etc.)
What songs do you think will be played during the acoustic set? Post your opinion in the comments section.
Set 1: Driver, Wading in the Velvet Sea, Possum, Roggae
Notes: This acoustic in-studio set was broadcast live for KBCO’s “Studio C” series.
“Acoustic Army” 10.21.95
Some Phish shows are like some classic albums. You throw them on without even thinking, enjoying every song from start to finish. Every Phish show has its highlights, some greater than others. Sometimes a mediocre first set can lead to a killer second set, or sometimes a single gem sparkles amongst a number of other standard songs. However, some Phish shows come out of the gates loaded with an energy that consumes the entire show into one magnificent musical experience. Today we have selected a few shows that were, and still are, good to the last drop.
1996.8.14 Hershey Park Stadium, Hershey, PA
This show is often overshadowed as it fell between the two night run at Deer Creek and the Clifford Ball. From beginning to end, the show is packed with incredible moments. Getting off to some early improv, Phish begins the show with a fiery “Wilson” that leads into a dark, outside jam. Next up comes “Disease” which brings the show back to earth with a bright, contained jam. If I had to call something “standard Phish”, this would be it. Without taking the song too far out, they carefully improvise within the song’s frame, creating a vibrant melodic jam. The first set is absolutely magical, with a divine version of “Reba”, and a ripping “Stash”.
The highlight of the second set is the raging version of “Tweezer” that should be heard by all. Trey provides some incredible lead work to begin the rock-based jam, before guiding the band into some pitch-shifting madness. “Jim” and “Yem” are also exceptional. This show is a pleasure to listen to, from beginning to end.
Set 1: Wilson -> Jam -> Down with Disease, Fee -> Poor Heart, Reba, The Mango Song, Gumbo, Stash, Hello My Baby
Set 2: Runaway Jim, You Enjoy Myself, The Horse > Silent in the Morning, Cars Trucks Buses, Tweezer, Theme From the Bottom, Hold Your Head Up > Cracklin’ Rosie > Hold Your Head Up, Sample in a Jar, Tweezer Reprise
1997.12.11 Rochester War Memorial, Rochester, NY
This is another show that flows with energy from start to finish. Coming at the end of the legendary fall ’97 tour, this show stands out as one of the finest of them all. The initial “PYITE” gets things rolling leading into one of the best, and most famous, versions of “Disease” to date. Segments from this “Disease” are featured in the movie Bittersweet Motel. The band takes this “Disease” for a dark excursion which fittingly makes its way into “Maze”. The energy carries through the set feeding into a bright “Limb by Limb”, packed with Trey’s fluid ’97-style shredding. The band goes without break in the second set, as they pour their creativity into a set filled with improvisational magic. Every song is a highlight, even the extended “BBFCFM”.
“Down with Disease” 12.11.97
Set 1: Punch You In the Eye > Down with Disease -> Maze, Dirt, Limb By Limb, Loving Cup, Rocky Top
Set 2: Drowned -> Roses Are Free* -> Big Black Furry Creature from Mars > Ghost -> Down with Disease -> Johnny B. Goode
1998.11.29 Worcester Centrum, Worcester, MA
This show closed out the fall ’98 tour with a bang, featuring two sets packed with stellar music. The show begins with “Paul and Silas”, and I don’t think its any mystery that bluegrass is a great way to get a party started. The first set is highlighted by the odd combination of “Limb by Limb>Catapault>Kung>Maze”. The set closes with a sit-in by Vermont guitarist Seth Yacavone on two numbers, including “Layla”.
The second features some very heavy jams, so prepare yourself before diving into this one. The set begins with the ween cover “Roses are Free” which segues into a monstrous, exploratory “Simple”. “Possum>Wipeout>Possum” is standout and features some alternative-picking style “DEG” teases. The set follows with a spacey “Gin” that flows seamlessly into “YEM”. Both versions follow in the intergalactic jamming style of ’98 and exhibit the confidence the band has gained over the tour. This is, in my opinion, one of the most powerful second sets Phish has ever performed. The encore adds the final touch to an incredible tour with a sublime “Roggae” followed by “Hello My Baby”.
“Roses are Free>Simple” 11.29.98
Set 1: Paul and Silas, Axilla, Theme From the Bottom, Sparkle, Horn, Limb By Limb > Catapult > Kung > Maze, All the Pain Through the Years > Layla
Set 2: Roses Are Free > Simple, Makisupa Policeman, Possum > Wipe Out > Possum, Bathtub Gin, You Enjoy Myself
Encore: Roggae, Hello My Baby
Note: Rumors are swirling of a Trey solo tour in February 2010. Check out our news section to find out more. Also, if you haven’t already, head over to the newly redesigned Phish.net.
Ever since the first time “Tweezer” was played on 3.28.90, the song has journeyed to far-away places. This was always a surety whenever Trey began playing the droning intro notes to the song. However, when the song returned from its journey, the possibilities were endless. In ’94, the year that took the song further than ever before, this changed temporarily as “Tweezer” found a temporary landing pad in “Lifeboy”. Two polar opposite songs – one a playful jam vehicle with meaningless lyrics, the other a lyrical masterpiece with simple instrumentals – joined forces to create one of the most powerful song combinations in Phish history.
It all began on March 30, 1993 in the Hilton Ballroom in Eugene, OR, when the first “Tweezer>Lifeboy” took place. From the inception, this duo formed a lasting effect. This wild version of Tweezer journeyed far-out before finally reaching the discombobulated ending section. As the tempo slowed to a near halt, Trey began the intro to “Lifeboy”, providing a sense of musical release. On that night a bond was forged that would reemerge a year later on4.22.94 in Columbia, SC. Again, in Columbia, the band continued to push “Tweezer” further outside only to land in the comfort of “Lifeboy” once again.
The combination appeared once more on 5.4.94 before the two became attached for seven consecutive shows. This run began on 5.17.94 in Santa Barbara, CA, and ended on 6.23.94 in Pontiac, MI. During this period, the band continued to explore the song combination through extended jams, resulting in some of the best versions of “Tweezer” ever. Some exceptional versions include 5.22 from Vancouver, 5.28 from Monterey, and 6.23 from Pontiac. Although, the most notable, and perhaps the best occurrence of “Tweezer>Lifeboy” took place on 6.18.94 at UIC Pavilion, a show I have discussed endlessly. The pair appeared again in Holmden, NJ on 7.2.94 and in Mansfield, MA on 7.9.94. Both of these versions carried the trend, and feature spectacular jams. It became apparent during this period, to the fans, and clearly to the band, that these two songs shared a special relationship.
The pair continued to join forces throughout the rest of ’94, although far more sporadically than in the spring and summer. The first appearance took place in the second set of the fall ’94 tour opener in Bethlehem, PA on 10.7.94. This version of “Tweezer” was the first of many during fall ’94, a time that witnessed the song reach musical heights unheard from the band before. Although the two songs were not attached anymore, the combination began to serve as a rare treat saved only for special occasions.
The magical combination of “Tweezer>Lifeboy” saw its end at the Fleet Center in Boston on 12.30.96. Perhaps the band had fully explored the link between the two, and chose to move on. Who knows what drives Phish to do anything that they do. The “Tweezer” from 7.31.09 at Red Rocks featured the discombobulated composed section that often led into “Lifeboy”, but unfortunately this was not the case. We still await the day that these two powerhouses join forces again, recreating the magic from the past. For now check out this gem from the legendary fall ’94 tour.
This is without question one of the best versions of “Tweezer” ever, from a very special show (available for download below). The jam reaches toward the divine at one point before returning to the songs original frame. Once again, the discombobulated ending feeds into “Lifeboy”. The connection between the two songs can clearly be heard here as the outside tension that is built during the “Tweezer” jam, is resolved as the intro notes to “Lifeboy” take hold.
Set 1: Wilson > Sparkle > Simple, It’s Ice, If I Could, The Oh Kee Pa Ceremony > Suzy Greenberg, The Divided Sky, Amazing Grace
Set 2: Maze, Fee, Scent of a Mule, Tweezer, Lifeboy, You Enjoy Myself -> The Vibration of Life -> You Enjoy Myself, Tweezer Reprise
Encore: Sample in a Jar
If you’ve ever been to a Phish festival, you’ve probably heard Kevin Shapiro’s Phish Festival Radio broadcasts. Sitting by your tent, or wherever, the guru himself takes us through gem after gem as we await the next set. Over the years, these broadcasts have become famous, and have featured members of the band as guest djs, interviews, and of course – incredible jams in crisp SBD quality.
Today, we continue to feed the hype leading up to Festival 8. We have chosen to share all of the past Phish Festival Radio broadcasts, and highlight some of the best moments in detail. Without a doubt Kevin has some of the greatest taste for Phish jams, and his broadcasts – whether they be on Phish Festival Radio or Live Phish Radio – are highly sought after. The man himself has told us that, if all goes well, he expects to do some broadcasts at 8. Until then, let’s check out some of the broadcasts from the past.
Clifford Ball Radio
On the first day of the band’s first festival, Phish took over the airwaves of 89.1 FM. The broadcasts began as the campgrounds opened, providing the soundtrack to the fans’ first Phish festival experience. Unfortunately the sound quality on the recording of the broadcast is poor, so we have uploaded one of the jams Kevin chose, out of our own stash (this jam is not included in the broadcast download for some reason). The download for the broadcast is also available below.
“Tweezer>McGrupp” 12.31.91 [SBD]
This was the jam that kicked off the broadcast, as fans made their way to through the campground. This early “Tweezer” hints at the magical places the song would later reach. As the jam kicks off, the band begins by layering their instruments with each member’s patterns interweaving with the others. This “Tweezer” takes off early, eventually landing in the jazzy intro to “McGrupp”.
DOWNLOAD Clifford Ball Radio
Great Went Radio
The second Phish festival followed with more broadcasts by Kevin, this time on 89.1 FM WENT. The shows featured two archived broadcasts from Kevin (available below), an hour-long Grateful Dead program, a Saturday morning jazz show, as well as originals of songs the band had covered, among other things. One of the highlights is Trey’s wild DJ set where he talks about a record store he found in Amsterdam.
“Harry Hood” 4.18.92
From the free outdoor show from Palo Alto, CA, the place the Dead was formed. The entire show is wild, but this “Harry” that Kevin chose is quite special. The band teases the classic jazz number “Linus and Lucy” before launching into a divine modal excursion.
DOWNLOAD Great Went Radio
“The World’s Only Radio Station”, 89.1 The Badger. For those in attendance at Lemonwheel, this was the only radio station that mattered. At Lemonwheel, Kevin continued to deliver spectacular gems, and the broadcasts became more interesting.
“DWD>Have Mercy>DWD” 11.12.94
This is a truly sublime version of “DWD”. The jam takes a wildly outside trip which slows to form the deep grooves of “Have Mercy” (not played in 101 shows), the classic reggae tune by the Mighty Diamonds. The slow reggae groove unexpectedly leads into a dark outside ambient soundscape, before launching back into the wild “DWD” jam. If you don’t know this jam, and the entire show from 11.12.94 Kent, OH, check it out. It’s pure magic.
Big Cypress Radio was more of the same, Kevin dishing out magical jams from various shows. Kevin kept people sane with his broadcasts while they sat in traffic, trying to get into the campground. At Big Cypress, Kevin had the entire decade to look back on, and over the two days, he shared some great moments from Phish’s career.
This was the debut of “Reba” and was dedicated to the ‘Spirit of Nancy”. It seems as though the band has been performing this song for years as they take us through the soaring jam that paved the way for so many incredible more.
DOWNLOAD Big Cypress Radio
“The Bunny” was a larger radio operation than had been used in the past. But when the radio station was set to go online, the crew ran into a series of problems. Finally, once the problems were sorted out, the tradition continued as Kevin led us through another Phishy journey.
“Halley’s Comet” 11.11.98
This collosal “Halley’s” from Grand Rapids is the first piece of an incredible second set. Exploring the intergalactic, spacey grooves of ’98, the band takes this Halley’s for an extended journey. If you don’t know the show check it out, as this is only the start of the powerful “Halleys>Simple>Walk Away” combination.
DOWNLOAD IT Radio
It certainly didn’t feel like the last Phish festival, let alone the last Phish concert on Coventry Radio. What started out as a series of disappointing messages from the band with regard to the mud situation, turned into a weekend of incredible broadcasting, that sent Phish Festival Radio off in style. These were the final broadcasts Kevin made, and ever since we have been waiting for more.
Defining the funk-based playing of ’97, this “Bowie” delves into both the dark-style jam the song is known for, as well as a thick, textured funk groove. These contrasting styles make this one of the more interesting versions of “Bowie”.
Once again, the eye of a Phish festival is staring at us. With Festival 8 only 18 days away, the excitement is hardly containable, considering all the many possibilities. At Coventry in 2004, the feeling was different. We were there to bid farewell, to experience the music a last time – and it sure did feel like the last time. Coventry was a different kind of festival. Prior to Coventry, however, Phish festivals were a time of unbounded musical exploration. Within the context of a festival, all boundaries are left behind, allowing Phish the ability to fully display their creativity.
Thinking back on the music from the past festivals makes me even more excited for 8, as the atmosphere of a festival provides the ideal Phish experience. Whether it be the unique late-night experiences or the stage antics, every Phish festival has offered something different, and something special. To try and relive the magic of Phish festivals, here are some of the best moments from the past.
“Mike’s Song>Simple>Contact>Weekapaug” 8.16.96
The Great Went
“Bathtub Gin” 8.17.97
“Sand>Quadrophonic Topplings” 12.31.99
Set 1: Chalk Dust Torture, Bathtub Gin, Ya Mar, AC/DC Bag, Esther, The Divided Sky, Halley’s Comet > David Bowie
Set 2: Split Open and Melt, Sparkle, Free, The Squirming Coil, Waste, Talk, Train Song, Strange Design, Hello My Baby, Mike’s Song -> Simple -> Contact -> Weekapaug Groove
Set 3: Makisupa Policeman, Also Sprach Zarathustra > Down with Disease -> NICU, Life on Mars?, Harry Hood -> Fireworks Jam
Encore: Amazing Grace
On the run up to Festival 8 we will be featuring the downloads from all of Phish’s past festivals. Today, we begin with the first day of the Clifford Ball, Phish’s first festival.
On 8.23.80, the Talking Heads performed at the Heatwave Festival, outside Toronto, ON. After recording Remain in Light the Talking Heads expanded their band to a nine piece set to accommodate the dense new form of music. The first show after recording Remain in Light was at the Heatwave Festival in 1980, showcasing the new expanded band. Bringing in guitar master Adrian Belew, of King Crimson, the band created a unique sound that focused more on syncopated rhythms and the increased use of effects. This show is a great look at the band in a transitional phase. Very funky. Check it out, and enjoy the long weekend.
“Crosseyed and Painless” 8.23.80
Psycho Killer, Warning Sign, Stay Hungry, Cities, I Zimbra, Once in a Lifetime, Houses in Motion, Born Under Punches, Crosseyed and Painless, Life During Wartime, Take Me to the River
“Born Under Punches” – Rome, December 1980
“Twist” 4.2.98 – one of the best jams ever.
In the fall of 1999, Phish closed off their tour early, with two shows at the Pepsi Arena in Albany. The first night, which took place 10 years ago today, was a fiery show highlighted by the outside improv that began early in the first set. The second night was a lesson in wildly creative, ambient improvisation. As tours progress, confidence increases, resulting in the final shows being some of the best. 1999 was no different, as Phish sent everyone packing with something to talk about. At the end of a tour, the band and fans have time to reflect, looking back on the pros and cons of the most recent shows. In the past, this has often been a time of change, as the band builds on their recent progress, pushing forward to new levels of creativity.
In ’99, the end of fall tour was a significant period, as the band had just come off a tour that would lay the path for what would become one of their finest shows in history. Exploring a more ambient, spacey style of jamming, Phish was coming to the cusp of their current phase, similar to the fall of ’95. Having transitioned from ‘cow-funk’ to intergalactic space-style jams, the band was continuing to push their new style to further limits. At the Pepsi Arena, Phish fully realized the direction that would carry through into December, carving the path for the heavy jams that took place at Big Cypress.
On the first night the band ran through many of their classics, extending the jams with elements of their new style. Beginning in the first set, wildly outside improv began to take place which followed through to the second night. With Trey using his mini-keyboard, the jams took a more equal-parted dynamic, focusing on creating layers of sound, rather than any particular instrument taking the lead. The first night set things off early, with a “Ghost>My Left Toe>Free” that defines that type of jamming the band was exploring at the time. From pure ambient layers to heavy groove-based jamming, this jam explores a wide range of styles. The second set’s “Limb by Limb>2001>Disease” follows in the same outside improv, creating fluid layers of sound that carry the jams through varying ambient soundscapes.
The second night acted as the last stand for the band, before they would rest until the legendary December ’99 tour. The set began by displaying several of the cuts off Farmouse, however, “Vultures” set the tone for what would become a very outside improvisational journey. After exploring “Vultures” extensively, the band launched into a unique version of “Stash”. Diverting from the usual dark, raging jam, the band creates an ethereal layer of sounds, with Trey’s heavily reverberated notes fluttering above. One of my favorite later versions of the song, and a powerful set closer which set the laid way for a heavily exploratory second set.
As the band took the stage for the final set of the tour, they began by doing what I think should happen much more often – jamming. Without any frame to build on, the band launched into an ambient jam releasing a dose of the creative energy that was flowing at the time. As the ambiance fades, the opening section of “YEM” emerges. The band creates an extended “Pre-Nirvana” section with ambient sounds that seem to flow throughout the set. Rather than segueing into a vocal jam, the band takes this “YEM” for a full ride, following into a spacey “Caspian”. The rest of the set rides on this magic, resulting in a killer “Gin” that enters into a heavy groove with Trey’s methodical notes floating above. The entire second set is filled with ambient grooves layered with psychedelic sheets of sound. In their last stand before December ’99, Phish left the crowd with two shows to remember.
Set 1: Punch You In the Eye > Wilson, Guyute, Ghost -> My Left Toe -> Free, Sparkle > Possum
Set 2: Limb By Limb > Also Sprach Zarathustra > Down with Disease > Wading in the Velvet Sea, Simple, Loving Cup
Encore: Slave to the Traffic Light
Set 1: Farmhouse, Gotta Jibboo, Heavy Things, First Tube, Dirt, Vultures, Stash
Set 2: Jam > You Enjoy Myself > Prince Caspian > Train Song, Bathtub Gin, Character Zero
Encore: Contact, Misty Mountain Hop
10 More videos were added to the Phish website yesterday. Here are the new videos (thanks to Jamtopia for the updates):
- Frank Zappa, Cosmik Debris from Apostrophe
- Led Zeppelin, Misty Mountain Hop from Zeppelin IV
- Metallica, Master of Puppets from Master of Puppets
- Minutemen, Jesus And Tequila from Double Nickels On The Dime
- Nirvana, Lithium from Nevermind
- Pink Floyd, Comfortably Numb from The Wall
- Radiohead, Everything In Its Right Place from Kid A
- Rush, YYZ from Moving Pictures
- Violent Femmes, Blister In The Sun from Violent Femmes
- Yes, I’ve Seen All Good People from The Yes Album
Last night, things got a little bit more interesting as Phish added some video clips to the wall of albums. When you click on some of the album covers, a YouTube video pops up featuring a song from the album. This is a further development, after some Phishy photoshopping took place. Many questions are left, as one would assume the albums that do not have videos are the next to go. If that is the case, we can narrow the list even further. Sadly, many of our top picks do not have videos, and so I hope that is not the case. Here are the albums and the videos that go along with them:
David Bowie – Hunky Dory
Video: David Bowie “Oh You Pretty Things”
David Bowie – Ziggy Stardust
Video: David Bowie “Five Years”
AC/DC – Back in Black
Video: AC/DC “Hells Bells”
Aerosmith – Toys in the Attic
Video: Mike Gordon and Leo Kottke “Sweet Emotion”
Led Zeppelin - IV (Zoso)
Video: Led Zeppelin “Going to California” (Would this not be the most perfect song to hear on Halloween in California?)
The Band – The Band (Brown Album)
Video: The Band “Up On Cripple Creek” (from The Last Waltz)
When you click The Clash’s London Calling you, for some reason, get the video for “Up On Cripple Creek”. When you click Arcade Fire’s Funeral, you get “Sweet Emotion” by Mike and Leo. Odd.
Today we bring you the second article of our ‘Autumn Leaves’ feature, as we take a trip back one of the greatest Phish tours ever – fall 95. Touring heavily through ’94 and ’95 put the band in a very exploratory phase. Constantly trying to push jams to their utmost limits, the band was seemingly reaching the height of the initial phase of their career. Prior to ’96, no specific style dominated the bands’ playing. Every show was an attempt at discovering new ways to improvise and to feed off the energy from the crowd. However, when September of 1995 came, the band was in the process of reaching a musical plateau which would propel them into the next phase of their career. This phase featured many of the best shows, and is considered to be one of the best Phish tours ever.
The tour kicked off on September 27th on the west coast at the Cal Expo Amphitheater in Sacramento, CA. This show, as with many other tour starters, featured the first performances several songs such as “The Fog that Surrounds”, “Cars Trucks and Buses”, “Keyboard Cavalry” and “Hello My Baby”. The band continued up the coast, playing shows in San Diego and LA before arriving at Shoreline for their second performance on the Dead’s home turf. The show at the Greek Theater in LA is noteworthy for the heavy “2001>Maze” that opened the second set. The Shoreline show brought added weight as it was only months before that Jerry Garcia had passed. That night, Trey dedicated “I’m Blue I’m Lonesome” to Jerry, which was an emotional moment for both the band and the fans. On a brighter note, Shoreline was also the first night of the band’s chess game versus the audience. Trey asked Chris to shine the lights on the chess board, and the first moves of the match were made.
Similar to what is happening now, Phish announced that they would be donning a musical costume on Halloween, and offered fans the chance to mail in votes. Rumors spread quickly of Thriller being the choice, a theory that gained steam all the way through to Halloween night.
Phish followed the west coast up to Seattle where they added steel guitarist Baby Gramps to their opening bill. Dropping a heavy “Tweezer” in Vancouver, and pushing jams to new heights, the band rolled on playing killer shows all through the west. On 10.11, the band headed south to Arizona where they played two rarities, “Mike’s>McGrupp>Weekapaug” and Crossroads (196 shows). The following night the band debuted Bowie’s “Life on Mars?” in the town Trey was born in, Fort Worth, TX. The show on the 14th saw the first appearance of MMW during “YEM” with a crazy mix up of instruments – Trey played guitar and mini drums, Fish played vacuum and trombone, Chris Wood played a one-string stand up bass, and Billy Martin played Fish’s drums. Three nights later in New Orleans, MMW returned during “Keyboard Cavalry” for a wild jam to close the set.
The musical costume speculation began to heat up as the tour progressed, and to add fuel to the fire, the band decided to feed into it. On 10.21 – the livephish release from Lincoln, NE – the band teased “Black or White” during “GTBT” and “Beat it” in “Hood” and “Suzy” (as we have mentioned before). On 10.25 the band teased Pink Floyd’s “Breathe” and encored with Jimi’s “Fire” mixing fans’ predictions up even further.
On the 27th, one of my favorite shows was performed at Wings Stadium in Kalamazoo, MI. The entire show is well played, and the second set features a monstrous “2001>Bowie” that is a wild piece of improv (check it out if you don’t know it). Trey adds some cult-like chanting to the dark “Bowie” jam before leading into a raging modal solo. The 29th in Louisville, KY featured more “Beat It” teases as well as the first “Shaggy Dog” since 5.6.92 (358 shows). The next show was Halloween, which is well known and has been released by Livephish. Phish and the horns tore through The Who’s Quadrophenia, encoring with a Who-style “My Generation” with instrument smashing and all. Clips from Thriller were played over the PA prior to the musical costume being performed, confusing the hell out of a lot of people.
Check out “2001>Bowie” from 10.27.95
Riding on the energy from Halloween night, the band headed to Atlanta to perform three, now famous, shows at the Fox Theater. The run opened with “Tweezer Reprise” setting the tone for the rest of the shows. Dropping too many killer jams to name, this run launched the band into the second phase of the fall ’95 tour which would reach its highest points in the following month. Phish killed every single show from this point on, without exception, 3 of which have become livephish releases. In Orlando on 11.14 Phish performed what is, in my opinion, the best version of “Stash” ever. The majority of the second set rides on the dark jam, segueing in and out. On 11.15, the band emerged victorious in the first chess match against the audience.
Continuing through the south, Phish played in West Palm Beach where they were joined by Butch Trucks on “Possum”, and Jimmy Buffet on “Brown Eyed Girl”. Heading into the Carolinas, Phish played three killer shows featuring a heavy “YEM” on the first night, a fiery “Tweezer” the second, and a dark “Bowie” on the third.
In Landover, MD on 11.22 after Trey accused Jon of messing up “Rift”, the band dropped one of the most exploratory versions of “Free” to date. On 11.25, the band played a killer show in their first visit to the mothership, featuring the first ever rotation jam. The second set of this show is wild, with “Kung” sung to a melody and a ripping “Mike’s”. On 11.29, Bela Fleck joined the band adding an interesting element to the jams.
December 1995 began with a bang as Phish returned to their stomping grounds in the northeast. In Hershey, PA on 12.1 (livephish release) the band reached new heights, paving the way for what would become one of the best months in Phish history. Every single show from December ’95 featured at least one jam that ventured into uncharted musical territory. Whether it be the “Tweezer” from 12.2 or 12.8, the “Gin” from 12.5 or the “YEM” from 12.9 etc., all of these jams pushed the music in a direction it had never been before. Intentionally lengthening jams to reach rich musical destinations was a focus at this time, and can be seen in many of the extended jams during this period. There are too many good jams to name from this month, and I highly suggest listening to every show from December ’95.
Check out “Bathtub Gin” from 12.5.95
This was a time that changed the face of Phish forever. Similar to the heights reached on Halloween ’96, or 12.31.99, Fall ’95 had a lasting effect on the band. After taking these jams to the rich musical places seen during ’94 and ’95 it was as though the band had reached the climax of the sound they were trying to achieve. Afterward, Phish headed in an entirely different direction. Check back for our next Autumn Leaves article, as we will look at Phish in the transitional period of fall ’96.
Set I: Sample in a Jar, Poor Heart, Simple> Runaway Jim> Fluffhead, It’s Ice, Acoustic Army, Prince Caspian, Good Times Bad Times1
Set II: Also Sprach Zarathustra> Tweezer> Kung> Tweezer> Love You> HYHU, Squirming Coil, Tweezer Reprise, Run Like An Antelope
Encore: Come Together2 3, A Day in the Life2
1 Dedicated to Jimmy Page
2 Played for anniversary of John Lennon’s death on 12.8.80
3 First time played
This show is a standout performance from December 1995. The second set is highlighted by a groundbreaking “2001>Tweezer>Kung>Tweezer” and a wild “Antelope” set closer. The encore, “Come Together”, pays tribute to John Lennon, whose death occurred on December 8, 1980.
“Free” from 11.14.95
One of the most compelling aspects of Phish shows, and the band in general, is the diverse musical experience that exists within each jam. Phish shows have so much to offer, and within them there are markedly different points. Whether it the difference between first and second sets, indoor and outdoor venues, parts of the globe etc., the journey that exists within a Phish show contains multiple faces, each with its own distinct feeling. There have been countless times at shows where I have been listening to a “Reba” or “Hood” jam and felt the feeling of complete bliss. With the music sailing through the air, the feeling of pure joy takes over. However, there have also been those times when you are forced to grind your teeth, feeling as though you are strapped in for a ride into the dark, murky depths. Today we will look at some of the different feelings evoked during Phish shows, with some examples to recreate the experience.
Phish jams that reach toward the light can bring one completely in-touch with the music. As Trey’s notes glide through the air, the music surrounds, enveloping us with joy. Bringing us to an entirely new place, following the journey through the light, it is these jams that bring about the ultimate release for both the band and the fans. Trey has spoken about the divine, and feeling as though his music is powered by some greater power. Looking into Trey’s eyes during these jams, it feels as though he is reaching into the divine and using his guitar as its voice. It is these jams when we can’t help but close our eyes, and let the music guide us.
Listen to “Reba” from 12.31.95
This “Reba” is the perfect example of a ‘light-jam’ or what us musicians know as a ‘major-jam’. With Trey’s notes fluttering above the smooth rhythm, the music brings comfort and joy.
The polar opposite of the jam above, dark Phish jams offer a completely different ride. Combined with psychedelia, dark jams take the listener on a journey of a different sort. As the wailing notes howl, and the muddy grooves layer beneath, the band dives into the depths of the dark, shepherding us through diverse outside soundscapes. These dark jams are often the most exploratory, arriving at rich musical destinations after journeying through the deep murky depths.
Listen to “Bowie” from 6.15.95
Known for the absolute madness that occurs during the jam, this version of “Bowie” is an outside trip into the dark abyss. One of the darkest, most exploratory periods in Phish’s career with this jam serving as a perfect example.
The Dance Party
There are those jams where the feeling is just so irresistible – you have to dance! As the deep bass grooves vibrate the ground, you begin to look around for more space to strut your stuff. Even the most unlikely of dancers, the guy who looks like he can hardly move, all become overwhelmed with the funk. Even when relistening to the show, sitting at your desk or wherever, you can’t help but bob your head, tap your feet, and vibe to the groove. Phish has always attempted to make music for people to dance to, and as a result – dancing has always been an important part of Phish shows. In the ‘cow funk’ period, the bank really pushed this philosophy, and jams from the period bring the incredible urge to just let it out and dance. So before you toss this one on, make sure no one is around, and get ready to enter this high-energy dance party (which also serves as one of my favorite versions of YEM).
Listen to “YEM” from 11.28.97
This all-out funk party came early in this epic show from Worcester, appearing in the second slot of the first set. Getting things going right from the start, the band made this a full out dance party. This “YEM” is a great example of pure 100% cow-funk, and its in the form of a crisp SBD recording.
With all of the many faces of Phish jams, psychedelia has always been a major focus of the band. Throughout each of the different ‘Phish eras’ there has always been a changing approach as to how psychedelia would fit into the show. In the early years, it was largely free-form jams that bordered on outside jazz. As the band progressed, and incorporated more effects into their sound, the psychedelic jams changed. With the use of layered loops and spacey sounds, the band explored an entirely new direction of psychedelia.
Listen to “Split Open and Melt” from 12.4.99
If you haven’t heard this wild ride into the realm of psychedelia, prepare. With very spacey sounds atop the intergalactic groove, this “Split” is taken for an outside ride.
If you have good quality live Phish photos, please email me at email@example.com.
Last night, Mike’s fall tour came to a close at Higher Ground in Burlington, VT. With rave reviews coming from a wide variety of sources, it appears the future for the Mike Gordon Band looks bright.
On Friday, Mike performed in a tiny club in Toronto, bringing back the feeling of Phish’s early days of touring the club circuit. In the past, when Phish would travel to Canada, only the most devoted fans would make the trek (read our article The Spirit of the North). The band would reward the fans in these intimate venues, far-off their regular touring path. Friday night was no different with Mike’s band. The energy was brimming from the outset, and in the small quarters of the Mod Club, the band rewarded the fans once again. Feeding off the energy of the crowd, Mike and his band delivered one of the best shows of the tour. Once again the feeling was there of the band and fans both in it together, in a small room, sharin’ in the groove.
Unlike some of the previous shows on the tour, on Friday, Mike and his band needed no time to warm-up. The night kicked off with “Traveled Too Far”, one of several songs played off Mike’s new album The Green Sparrow. Mike began by playing with his Korg Kaossilator, an effect box, creating some very interesting sounds. The song was taken for a 20 minute ride which began with a vocal jam prior to the intro. Holding nothing back, an early groove was started which led into the song perfectly, showing the connection Mike has crafted with his band mates. Even the highest expectations were shoved aside as the band launched into one of the best jams of the tour. To be fully honest, this was one of the best jams Mike has had in years, in any band. And to anyone close enough, you could see how much Mike was enjoying it. Featuring noticeable “Sugar Shack” teases, and some alternative picking reminiscent of “DEG”, Murawski and Gordo vibed off each other showing the long history the two share.
Mike has cited Murawski’s other band – Max Creek Band – as one of his favorites, and has sat in with them on numerous occasions. In the 80′s, Phish covered Max Creek’s “Back Porch Boogie”, a funky number that Mike tricked the band into playing the song, claiming it was one of his own. Joking with each other much in the way Mike and Trey do, it was obvious Mike was having the time of his life. The close friendship between the two was shown when a fan held up a “Skin it Back” sign and Mike tapped Scott, laughing, to see his reaction. Unfortunately, the song was not played.
The show was contained to a single set due to the strict curfew, but in that time, Mike and his band made quite an impact. Each song was extended and explored, with some very unique jams resulting. “I’m Deranged” was one of the highlights of the night, appearing in a sandwich between “Andelman’s Yard”. The song featured a heavily syncopated riff by Scott that flowed throughout the song. The jam went very outside before returning to the bright melody of “Andleman’s”. Other highlights were “Another Door” and the GRAB song “Suskind Hotel”.
The feeling of this being a simple side-project was completely absent. The emphasis on the band-mentality, rather than displaying a single musician’s talents, has made for a very different feeling. Showcasing songs from the other band members, it is clear that Mike intends to make this band more than a musical outlet for himself. He has said how important developing this band is to him, and his intense focus during the show made it apparent that he is putting a great deal of effort in to it. The band nailed their noticeably difficult composed sections, and jammed with a growing confidence. Closing the show with the Beatles “She Said, She Said”, nailing the vocal harmonies, Mike and his band left the stage glowing with excitement. Afterward, we caught up with the band at the after party where they shared their feelings on the incredible night. This show was the definite sleeper of the tour, and a treat for anyone who made the trek through the cold, rainy Toronto night.
Listen to “Traveled Too Far” the opener on Friday night in Toronto.
Traveled Too Far, Andelman’s Yard>I’m Deranged>Andelman’s Yard, Crumblin Bones, Sugar Shack, River Niger>Radar Blip, Time (The Revelator), Another Door, Suskind Hotel,
She Said She Said
Mike and his band performing “Cities” 9.26.09
Phish performing the Max Creek cover “Back Porch Boogie Blues”
Today we have a special show that I have been fond of for quite some time. In 1995 Dave Matthews Band made a stop in Burlington, VT where they were joined by Trey for a few songs. The connection between DMB and Trey is very tight, as they had toured together the previous year. A great show with incredible playing all around. This show offers a look at DMB in their earlier, jammier stages.
Seek Up, Dancing Nancies, Best of What’s Around, Rhyme and Reason, Jimi Thing*, Jimi Thing Jam*, Recently*, Ants Marching*
E: Tripping Billies
*With Trey Anastasio
Also, 11 years ago today Phish played Farm Aid, which featured sit ins by Neil Young, Willie Nelson and Paul Schaffer. Here is “Down by the River” with Neil Young.
Today, we bring you the second part of our ongoing Sleeper Show feature. We picked some gems last time, and today we will carry on the trend. Finding off-the-radar Phish shows is a very rewarding experience. You stumble across a date that seems unfamiliar, then check the setlist only to realize something magical happened that night, and all this time you were unaware. The feeling of discovering this hidden magic is incredible. Today, we hope to bring some people those feelings by sharing a few shows that have fallen off the beaten track. In our last Sleeper Shows article, we had a great response from readers who suggested some killer shows, including a few of my favorites. I have included two of these shows in my article today. Thanks for sharing, and thanks for reading.
1993.8.2 The Ritz Theater, Ybor City, FL
They’ve said it, we’ve said it – whenever Phish plays off the main circuit they perform their best shows. In a very random location – Tampa – Phish performed one of their best shows. I am largely of the opinion that “Chalkdust” is a great way to start a show, as it feeds life into the first set. This show is a perfect example of this, and set I rides this energy to a blissful musical plateau.
The first set, while packed with energy, is also packed with complex music. After a rockin’ version of “Chalkdust” the band dives into “Guelah” (including secret language ques) which features the first fugue of the night. By the fourth song, “Brother”, it becomes apparent that this is no ordinary Phish show. Trey takes the solo for a modal journey into the depths of the dark, clinging to the dissonant theme of the song. When the band arrives at the second fugue of the night “All Things Reconsidered” they play it without the slightest flub. A great example of the musical level the band had reached by ’93. The “Gin” is one of the best jams of the night, featuring a very unique, bright, jam. The melody of the song carries into a bluesy groove. Eventually the jam takes on a bluegrass rhythm before sliding into the reggae vibe of “Makisupa”. A trip through multiple musical journeys that is a must hear.
The second set rides the free energy of the first, leading to a very unusual event. The set begins with “2001″ which is kept short as it was only debuted a month earlier on 7.16.93. The song had yet to reach its potential, and was merely used as a launchpad to get the psychedelia started. The second set includes a “Heavy Metal Jam”, where a heavy-metal singer from the band First Born jumps on stage for some brief vocal accompaniment. Trey has commented on this night and how funny it was to see this guy jump on stage and start screaming. The magic carries through the set, which is packed with fun. The “Antelope” screams with energy, and is full of shredded licks. A great, under-rated show from the summer of ’93.
Check out “Run Like an Antelope>Makisupa Policeman (Reprise)>Run Like an Antelope” from 8.2.93.
1999.9.14 Boise State University Pavilion, Boise, ID
This is a reader recommendation that has been a favorite of mine for some time. Known for the “Bag>Gumbo” combo in the second set, this show oozes with the spacey, ambient textures that defined the band’s jamming style in ’99. With Phish playing in Portland two nights before, and at Shoreline two nights later, many fans decided to skip this show. As a result, the arena was less than half full, providing a great atmosphere for the devoted fans.
The first set is great, and again starts with a powerful “Chalkdust” to get things going. The “Waste” is standout, and features Trey’s heavy uni-vibed noodling. “Loving Cup” is played the way I remember it being played. It used to be a song I would hope for at a Phish show, not just an encore. I love the way Trey solos over the melody, often leading into a spacey sort of jam. This is the perfect example. The effect-heavy jam leads into my favorite track from The Siket Disc, “What’s the Use” – a lesson in outside ambiance. I have always loved this song, and hope is rears its dark head again. “Taste” is also played exceptionally well.
The meat of this show, as with so many others, comes in the second set. I can’t say enough about this set, and so I will let the music do most of the talking. Starting with “Peaches”, which had not been played since 2.28.97, the crowd was instantly energized. Feeding off this energy, the band launched onto one of the finest jams of ’99. The “ACDC Bag”, just under a half hour, is a ride on the intergalatic express. With Trey on his set of keys during the jam, the band pushes this spacey jam to the brink of musical exploration. Following into “Gumbo” out of a series of looped effects, the rest of the set is pure magic. The band rides this high wave all the way into the encore, with features a divine “Simple”. Every song is worth mention. Those who haven’t heard this show, enjoy.
Listen to the legendary “ACDC Bag” from 9.14.99.
1995.11.19 Charlotte Coliseum, Charlotte, NC
Another reader recommendation, and another great sleeper. This show came at a very experimental time in Phish’s career. Sandwiched in the middle of a three night run in the Carolinas, the band was intentionally trying to push jams to their limits, both in length and in musical discovery. They have said that by exploring their songs through extended jams, they would arrive at rich, new musical places. This show has everything. The first set begins with “Makisupa”, to get the good vibes going. However, like the shows above, the energy starts early with a raging “Maze”. Following “Maze”, the band introduced the slow-arrangement of “Poor Heart” for the first time. The rest of the set is high quality ’95 improv.
The second set begins with a soaring “Theme” that leads into “2001″ and then “The Curtain”. The highlight of the show comes with the heavy version of “Tweezer”. Featuring Trey on his mini drum-kit the jam takes a rhythmic focus. Attempting to push the jam to new heights, the jam progresses through multiple sections of free-form improv. Again, this show flies under the radar and is worth checking out if you don’t know it.
Listen to “Tweezer” from 11.19.95.
Tell us your favorite sleeper show in the comments section! If you mentioned a show last time that I did not include, I will get to it in a future article. Keep the suggestions coming, we truly appreciate them.
After many of the expected, and a few of the unexpected albums have been axed from the list, the speculation continues to run in high gear. None of the albums we have mentioned have received the axe, so we feel that we are on the right track. Today, we’ve compiled a full list of albums that we feel could make the cut. We’ve narrowed it down through a number of different criteria. Some albums on the list were decoys, albums Phish most likely would not play. Others, such as the albums by bands they have already covered on Halloween, were obvious no-goes. Here are our picks (we have included the ones we have already mentioned, with brief descriptions):
1. Blind Faith – Blind Faith
As we have already mentioned, this would be a great pick. There are phenomenal musicians on every instrument, hence the band being dubbed the first ‘super-group’. Trey has said he is a big Clapton fan and this album exhibits his playing like no other. Also, Phish has never covered a Blind Faith song. The entire album is incredible and I still hold this as one of my top picks, although I don’t think it is the most likely.
2. Bob Dylan – The Basement Tapes/Blood on the Tracks
Again, both possibilities. Trey has said he would like to do the Basement Tapes in the past (2003 interview with Relix), and again recently on a radio interview. The instrumental music on The Basement Tapes is superior to Blood on the Tracks, as The Band is Dylan’s back-up. Blood on the Tracks would be mostly Trey singing and for that reason I don’t think they will choose it. For the same reason I left Van Morrison off the list. It is hard to choose an album that focuses on a single musician. I don’t feel these albums will become the musical costume yet they should still be considered.
3. Brian Eno - Before and After Science
This album fits all the criteria and could very well be the choice. Trey has professed his love for Eno’s work on numerous occasions. Eno is largely considered to have pioneered ambient music, making Halloween the perfect time for the band to pay tribute. A day that is traditionally filled with ambient noises from the dark would provide the ideal canvas for Phish to paint their own ambient picture. If you have not heard this album, I highly recommend it. The one aspect of this album holding it back is the connection and similarity to the Talking Heads. To many, it would seem like Phish was covering another Heads album, and this may lead them to stray away from choosing it.
4. David Bowie - Scary Monsters/Hunky Dory/Ziggy Stardust
Phish has a long history with David Bowie, and it would feel perfect if it were to all come together with a Halloween set that relived his weird antics. All three albums seem possible with Ziggy at the head of the pack. He is also the only artist with three albums. The odd music would provide the perfect atmosphere for a weird, fantasy-like Halloween. Trey would destroy Mick Ronson’s leads and Page would have his hands filled playing Rick Wakeman’s (most notably the keyboardist for Yes) parts.
5. Frank Zappa – Apostrophe/Hot Rats
Both of these are big possibilities. Trey and Jon have both said how much Zappa has influenced them both. Zappa would undoubtedly put each musician to the ultimate test, and would involve Trey’s compositional skills to fill the instrumental gaps. The band could also bring out extra musicians as they did in the past with Remain in Light. This is a tall order, and as I mentioned before, is unlikely to happen in a short period of time. With the band apparently flopping between albums it would appear time is running out. That said, it is also very likely that Trey and Jon are familiar with a great deal of the music on both albums making the job significantly easier. It is also possible that the band has been fooling us and has been learning this album for a while now.
6. Genesis - The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway
This album has everything needed to become the musical costume. Only one factor holds it back, and that’s the length. Running over an hour an a half would create a problem as that is a ton of music to learn. The White Album was lenghty, however, as Trey has said it was practically part of his genetic make-up. If they could pull this off, it would be an incredible experience. Telling the story of the Rael’s journeys through New York would be similar to the narrative-like feel of Gamehenge. Trey also mentioned in a radio interview yesterday that, in the past, part of the decision behind choosing the album has been based on a particular band member’s ability to replicate the playing of one of the musicians being covered. For example, Trey mentioned Jon’s ability to mimic Keith Moon’s style when they covered Quadrophenia. I have no doubt in Jon’s ability to replicate Phil Collins’ drum parts. This should be high on everyone’s list, regardless of the length. We will be at a festival after all…
7. Jimi Hendrix – Are You Experienced?/Electric Ladyland
While I think these are both possibilities, I don’t think they will make the final cut. To cover an entire Jimi Hendrix album would be a self-fulfilling endeavor for Trey. We all know about Trey’s love for Jimi and the influence he has had on Trey’s playing. The backing musicians are less than stellar, and would hardly present a challenge for the rest of the band. There’s not even a piano. While I would love to see Trey bring Jimi’s magic back to life, I just don’t think it’s realistic.
8. King Crimson – Larks’ Tongues in Aspic
In the past, Phish has generally brought something new to the table, other than The White Album. If they were to do this album, it would definitely shock quite a few people. I think it’s possible, but if you’re familiar with Robert Fripp’s guitar playing, it does not seem overly likely. Known for a very original style of picking, Fripp does not use any conventional guitar techniques. Trey would literally have to reinvent his playing to take on this album. That said, Trey said he likes to get inside the heads of the musicians he is covering, and really understand the space they were in at the time of recording. For those of you who don’t know, “Daves Energy Guide” is an admitted take on Fripp’s guitar-style. One might even say it is a direct lift from the album “Discipline”. If this is the album, I will be very happy and it could very well change the future of Phish, much in the way Remain in Light did in ’96.
9. Led Zeppelin - I/IV (Zoso)
I think these are the overall favorites to become the musical costume, and for that reason, I don’t think either will make the cut. However, as much as Trey loves Jimi, he loves the other Jimmy almost as much. These albums provide the opportunity for Trey to play guitar-God, and for the rest of the band to shine as well. Jon has said his first experience with drumming was attempting to emulate John Bonham, and that he basically learned to drum from it. Page would most likely sing, so he would have a new challenge to face. Mike would have John Paul Jones’ lines to master making this a challenge for the entire band. I would have to say that IV is the more likely of the two as it contains the songs Phish has covered less often. To get a taste of what it would be like to hear Trey play “Black Dog”, check out the version from Bonnaroo ’04.
10. Michael Jackson – Thriller
For those of you who don’t know (I feel like this is common knowledge) Eddie Van Halen played the guitar solo on “Beat It” – clearly the reason for Trey’s love for the song (he has teased it on multiple occasions – 10.21.95, 10.29.95). The entire album presents a challenge for the band, as Mike would be locked into disco-mode from the start, Jon would become a drum machine. More importantly, who would sing? I don’t see it happening. For a classic PT discussion in support of it, click here.
11. Neil Young – Everybody Knows This is Nowhere/Tonight’s the Night
While seeing these covered would make me very happy, I don’t think it will happen. Neither album evokes the type of spirit that I think would be necessary for Halloween, more specifically a Halloween festival. Trey is clearly a big Neil fan, and playing his album would be very fun, for Trey. Like some of the other albums, it doesn’t present enough of a challenge for the rest of the band. Possible, but unlikely.
12. Rolling Stones - Sticky Fingers/Exile on Main St.
I think these are both major possibilities. Since they have played “Loving Cup” so many times, I think “Exile” is less likely. Sticky Fingers would be a great album to cover, but I feel like Phish will avoid it. The songs are too well known and I think the band gets a kick out of bringing new music to their fans’ ears. Again, unlikely.
13. Rush - Moving Pictures
Another of my top picks to become the musical costume. Phish has never covered a Rush song, however, Space Antelope has. In Trey’s basement back in the early 80′s Trey and friends took a stab at “Hemispheres”. This would fulfill the role of introducing fans to new music, as I doubt a large number of Phish fans are big Rush fans. It would also be the perfect backdrop to a spooky night. Rush’s dark, complex, compositions would add a strong effect to the eerie surroundings. While Rush is only a three person band, there is enough overdubbing used to leave room for a fourth musician. The music is challenging, original, and fits the vibe of Halloween. It doesn’t get much more perfect.
Listen to Trey’s band Space Antelope play “Hemispheres”.
14. Steely Dan – Pretzel Logic
For several reasons I think this is one of the most likely albums. Way back at UVM, Trey’s sign saying “Bass Player Wanted” also included “Guitarist and singer into Steely Dan, Allman Brothers”. Eat a Peach was axed yesterday, leaving Steely as one of Trey’s oldest and most significant influences. This album is doable, yet a very tall challenge. The entire band will have to master some very complex music. I think it is very possible, and I would be very happy to see this album covered.
15. Van Halen – Van Halen
A lot of people seem to be crossing this one off the list early. It’s not my first pick, but I think it would suit the event very well. Opening with “Runnin’ with the Devil” on Halloween would be perfect. The album presents a challenge the band definitely could take on. However, again, this album largely focused on a single musician, making it less likely.
16. Yes – The Yes Album
This is probably my personal favorite from the entire list of albums. I would be extremely happy to hear the band cover this one. It presents a huge challenge to every member. Jon has said Bill Bruford was one of his earliest influences, and it would be incredible to see Jon play his drum lines. Steve Howe is one of the greatest guitarists of all time, and Tony Kaye and Chris Squire are also some of the best at their respective instruments. The dark compositions would create the perfect effect for Halloween. However, this album presents a few questions. For one, who would sing Jon Anderson’s high pitched vocals? Second, and perhaps most importantly, can Trey learn “The Clap” in such a short period of time? Unless he already knows it, which is very possible, I think it would take a great deal of effort to learn it from scratch.
We have taken Pet Sounds off the list for a few reasons. First, I have a hard time seeing the band reaching the level vocal of harmony required to achieve the full effect. Second, while it is one of the greatest albums ever, and likely the reason why they included it, it does not pack enough of a punch. It’s too much of a feel good ride, and I don’t think that suits the Halloween vibe at all. That said, the Pink Floyd albums also did not make the cut. While I think Phish could surprise everyone, they have already played Darkside and I don’t see them doing the same band twice.
Check out this video of “Gin” from Halloween ’89.