It was just last year that we were getting ready to embark on the first Phish tour in five years. With Hampton in the bag, the Phish community was blossoming with a rediscovered energy in preparation for Phish’s first show at the storied Fenway Park. As we packed up our cars a week early, loaded up on tunes (and bugspray) and planned to head off, it’s safe to say that no one had any idea what to expect.
Fast foward a year, and here we are sitting in 2010, ready to enter the next stage of Phish 3.0. With two full tours, and plenty of other scattered shows under their belt, we can safely assume the band has shed their training wheels. We’ve seen them on TV, the Halloween tradition has been restored…it’s time for the next level.
I’ve been thinking about this quite a bit lately. It’s no secret that Phish was hesitant to jump into the jammy waters that define their music in 2009. When they did, they carefully dipped their toes over the edge, but only a few times did anything truly great materialize. I’m a big proponent of 2009 – I think the band sounded great overall. But let’s be fair, no goes to a Phish show to see a rock concert. We travel these unimaginable distances to experience those special moments of musical discovery that speak directly to the soul. These moments don’t come from particularly well-played composed sections (as nice as they are to have), but from a fearless group of musicians willing to explore their music to its deepest depths.
Many shows in 2009 lacked these magical experiences. However, when they did emerge, there was less meandering – less wasted time. As I’ve mentioned before, in 2009 Phish was able to reach that place with far greater ease. My conclusion is that they reversed the approach taken in 2003 that ultimately led to their demise. Rather than dive head first into their music, this time they’ve chosen to start from the ground up, relearning nearly every one of their songs along the way.
When looking back, the early years acted as a stepping stone upon which Phish to built their improvisational style. These years revolved around nailing and creating difficult compositions rather than wildly outside jamming. It was not until later, when they started playing as a unit, that the band began to truly jam. It seems we’re reliving those years all over again.
With summer tour only 23 days away, I think we’re all wondering the same thing…what’s next? As 2009 progressed, jams were emerging more often, were becoming increasingly more risky. Miami was definitely a sign in the right direction. So, now that Phish has their stride back, what direction will they take next? If I were a betting man, I’d say we’re in for one hell of a summer.
With that said, here’s some things we’d like to see on the upcoming tour:
1. “Watcher of the Skies” Opener
Readers will probably have guessed by now that I am a huge fan of Genesis. Seeing this live would be the ultimate moment for me, and other Genesis fans alike. Genesis regularly opened shows in the early 70′s with “Watcher” because of its epic intro section. I can’t think of a better way for Phish to kick of their summer tour in Chicago. I’m sure Trey agrees. Mike?
“Watcher of the Skies” (2010.3.15)
2. “Tomorrow’s Song”
For me, one of the finest moments of the entire year was the combination of “Piper” > “Tomorrow’s Song” on the first night of the Albany run. While not as long as the jams the next night, I’d argue that the quality of the music just as good. As we awoke from one of the finest musical passages of the entire year, and landed face first in the completely unexpected bust-out in “Tomorrow’s Song”, there was little to do but smile, smile, smile. Similar to the feeling one experiences when the Dead would stumble their way into “The Wheel”, “Tomorrow’s Song” welcomes a feeling of spiritual grace.
“Piper” > “Tomorrow’s Song” (2009.11.27)
3. “A Song I Heard the Ocean Sing”
Every time this song appears, it’s an open invitation to jam. It’s songs such as these which have yet to fully develop due to the break-up. Played three times in ’04, and twice in ’09, each time the band displayed the songs potential as a major jam vehicle. Let’s all hope this song takes the next step, developing further into a staple of 3.0.
“A Song I Heard the Ocean Sing” (2009.6.19)
4. “Liquid Time”
After hearing the Festival 8 Soundcheck, and Trey’s renditions on his solo tour, few things are more exciting than the inevitable debut of “Liquid Time”. The song’s dark vibe would provide a perfect way to kick off a second set after the sun has gone down.
“Liquid Time” (Festival 8 Soundcheck)
5. The Next Step
There’s hope that 2010 will bring back the spirit of the jam, returning what we all love about Phish. Now that the band has shed the rust, it’s time to see where this new direction will take us…
From Hidden Track:
Trey Anastasio and Classic TAB closed the action on the main stage with a set littered with bust outs in the form of covers and new originals. Big Red and his ensemble tackled a tune Tom Marshall helped him write especially for the occasion called Sailboat Man that was performed in what Trey described as “a Reggae Stylie.”
The group also debuted a song named Burn That Bridge and dusted off two covers – The Band’s It Makes No Difference last played on May 14, 2005 and The Devil Went Down To Georgia by the Charlie Daniels Band last played at Bonnaroo ‘04 during this one-off performance.
Trey Anastasio and Classic TAB
May 16, 2010
Hangout Beach Music and Arts Festival
Gulf Shores, AL
Set: Gotta Jibboo, Push On Til The Day, Devil Went Down, Burn That Bridge*, Money Love & Change, It Makes No Difference, Alaska, Sailboat Man*, Sand, Valentine, Cayman Review, Plasma -> Drifting, Black Dog
Encore: First Tube
* – First Time Played
[Thanks Scotty B. at Hidden Track for providing the write-up and setlist!]
Download: 2010.5.16 TAB Hangout Beach Music and Arts Festival, Gulf Shores, AL [Torrent]
Source: [FOB] Josephsons C42MP (DIN)> SX-M2 > Korg MR1 (24/48)
The wheel is turning When exploring the vast realm of the Dead’s song catalog, for me, one song stands out amongst the rest – “The Wheel”. Without a doubt, it holds a place as one of my all-time favorite Dead songs. The song was officially released on Jerry’s solo debut, Garcia, and later debuted by the Dead on 6.3.76. However, the song was first conceived in the midst of an acid drenched psychedelic jam session. Following the legendary farewell performances at the Winterland in October of ’74, the last shows featuring the Wall of Sound, the Dead took a brief hiatus. During that time Bob Weir, Mickey Hart, and Jerry Garcia would all release their debut solo works, Ace, Rolling Thunder, and Garcia, respectively. While Bob’s album helped to develop his songwriting, that he would bring to the Dead upon their return, Jerry’s served a very different role. Attempting to create a musical backdrop for the Grateful Dead Movie introduction (capturing the band’s farewell shows at the Winterland), Jerry went on a psychedelic journey with Robert Hunter Bill Kreutzman along for the ride. From a series of jam sessions, in which Jerry played the majority of the instruments, “The Wheel” was born. It is said that while they were listening to the recordings, Robert Hunter spontaneously wrote out the lyrics on a wall. Jerry spoke about the sessions in an interview with Rolling Stone: “I’m doing it to be completely self-indulgent musically. I’m just going on a trip. I have curiosity to see what I can do, and I’ve a desire to get into sixteen track and go on trips that are too weird for me to want to put anybody else I know through. And also I want to pay for this house…” Three of the ‘songs’ on Garcia, “Late for Supper”, “Spidergawd”, and “The Eep Hour”, embody the pure spirit of psychedelic improvisation. These are surely some of the most outside recordings Jerry ever laid down in the studio (aside from his recordings with Ornette). Also, included on the album are two alternate takes as well as the “Study of the Wheel”. The jams are drenched in psychedelia – all musical structures are broken down as Jerry and friends travel to the outermost spaces of musical exploration. In a separate interview, Jerry talked further about the process used to create these recordings: “…that side was really almost one continuous performance, pretty much. When a song would come up in there, or just a progression, we’d play with it and work it through a few more times. And The Wheel came out of that. It wasn’t written, I didn’t have anything in mind, I hadn’t sketched it out.” “The Wheel” embodies the same folky musical structures as a song like “Brokedown Palace”, but when performed takes us to a very different place. Often emerging from the midst of “Drums” or “Space”, “The Wheel” continued to follow the adventurous path from which it was born, regularly producing moments of pure spiritual grace. Today, we revisit some of these great moments. “The Wheel” > “Jam” (1976.10.3) “The Wheel” (1977.2.26) “The Wheel” > “Playin’ in the Band” (1978.2.3) “The Wheel” > “Jam” (1981.8.28) Phil & Friends w/ Trey and Page (1999.4.15) “The Wheel“
and you can’t slow down
You can’t let go
and you can’t hold on
You can’t go back
and you can’t stand still
If the thunder don’t get you
then the lightning will
The wheel is turning
When exploring the vast realm of the Dead’s song catalog, for me, one song stands out amongst the rest – “The Wheel”. Without a doubt, it holds a place as one of my all-time favorite Dead songs. The song was officially released on Jerry’s solo debut, Garcia, and later debuted by the Dead on 6.3.76. However, the song was first conceived in the midst of an acid drenched psychedelic jam session.
Following the legendary farewell performances at the Winterland in October of ’74, the last shows featuring the Wall of Sound, the Dead took a brief hiatus. During that time Bob Weir, Mickey Hart, and Jerry Garcia would all release their debut solo works, Ace, Rolling Thunder, and Garcia, respectively. While Bob’s album helped to develop his songwriting, that he would bring to the Dead upon their return, Jerry’s served a very different role. Attempting to create a musical backdrop for the Grateful Dead Movie introduction (capturing the band’s farewell shows at the Winterland), Jerry went on a psychedelic journey with Robert Hunter Bill Kreutzman along for the ride.
From a series of jam sessions, in which Jerry played the majority of the instruments, “The Wheel” was born. It is said that while they were listening to the recordings, Robert Hunter spontaneously wrote out the lyrics on a wall. Jerry spoke about the sessions in an interview with Rolling Stone:
“I’m doing it to be completely self-indulgent musically. I’m just going on a trip. I have curiosity to see what I can do, and I’ve a desire to get into sixteen track and go on trips that are too weird for me to want to put anybody else I know through. And also I want to pay for this house…”
Three of the ‘songs’ on Garcia, “Late for Supper”, “Spidergawd”, and “The Eep Hour”, embody the pure spirit of psychedelic improvisation. These are surely some of the most outside recordings Jerry ever laid down in the studio (aside from his recordings with Ornette). Also, included on the album are two alternate takes as well as the “Study of the Wheel”. The jams are drenched in psychedelia – all musical structures are broken down as Jerry and friends travel to the outermost spaces of musical exploration. In a separate interview, Jerry talked further about the process used to create these recordings:
“…that side was really almost one continuous performance, pretty much. When a song would come up in there, or just a progression, we’d play with it and work it through a few more times. And The Wheel came out of that. It wasn’t written, I didn’t have anything in mind, I hadn’t sketched it out.”
“The Wheel” embodies the same folky musical structures as a song like “Brokedown Palace”, but when performed takes us to a very different place. Often emerging from the midst of “Drums” or “Space”, “The Wheel” continued to follow the adventurous path from which it was born, regularly producing moments of pure spiritual grace. Today, we revisit some of these great moments.
“The Wheel” > “Jam” (1976.10.3)
“The Wheel” (1977.2.26)
“The Wheel” > “Playin’ in the Band” (1978.2.3)
“The Wheel” > “Jam” (1981.8.28)
Phil & Friends w/ Trey and Page (1999.4.15)
A little note about the direction we’re heading in:
It’s been almost a year since this blog started. Since the beginning, we’ve been discussing shows and music of all sorts – Phish, Dead, Miles Davis, Chet Atkins…you name it. It’s come to the point where the archives are filled with loads of great music, but with new articles coming and structure of the site, lots of it is buried and forgotten (by myself included). I’d like to take the advice of the Grateful Dead and take a step back. In the past, we’ve posted shows and jams, but after a quick read many of them fall back into the vast sea of Phish shows.
Going forward, I want to start discussing some of my favorite shows – Dead and Phish – and review them in full. Along with the classic jams series, this should be a great way to help listeners navigate the sea of Phish shows. I also plan to branch out more and discuss more than just ‘jam bands’. My writing partner is no longer contributing, and so things will be taking on a more personal feel. If you look on the right side of the page, there is now a section called Dog Gone Show Reviews, check here for past and future reviews. I’ll also try and provide the best quality sources available. A strong effort will be made to keep the list small, but it will inevitably grow over time. There’s just too many good shows! Other Phish sources – The Phish Companion, Phish.net and Mr. Miner’s Audio Archive – are great, and are extremely thorough. But, they’re all fairly daunting when new and old-comers are searching for ‘the best shows’. Obviously, this is a very subjective topic. But hopefully our approach will act as an accessible way for people to find great shows.
Today is a bit of a test, as it happens to be the anniversary of a show I want to discuss. We’ll start small, and build up to some of my favorite shows of all time. Today’s show is a perfect place to start. Please let me know what you think about this idea, or if you have any shows you’d like to see reviewed.
Hayden Square, Tempe, AZ
When it comes to Phish shows, 1994 is my favorite year – specifically Fall ’94. However, at the start of the Spring tour, the band was in a transitional phase between their speed -jazz jamming style, and the psychedelic madness that would later ensue. Several of the shows that took place around this time altered the game for Phish. It was truly a time of discovery for the band and their fans. No longer were their jams guitar-led shredfests. Instead, a collective energy would come together forging a new sound that began to emerge during the early months of Spring 1994. During this time, the band’s improvisational groove was evolving on a nightly basis. Following the “Tweezerfest” on 5.7 all barriers were torn down, allowing the band to embrace a very risky jamming style. With fewer song references in their jams, their improvisation became more like songwriting on the spot. Today’s show highlights this transition and shows the band letting it loose, allowing their music to guide them.
As I have previously mentioned, the shows from May ’94 have a special flavor to them. Marking this transitional phase, many of the May shows acted as milestones, as the band regularly found its way into mesmerizing musical passages. In addition, the entire month is blessed with high quality soundboard recordings (This show is not one of them, but it’s a good AUD.). This was really the last tour that with that number of SBDs in circulation – they would continually dwindle as the band grew.
The highlights in this one are spread out, with great jams in both sets that you won’t want to miss. The show kicks off in typical fashion with “Runaway Jim”, cooking things up for the set that follows. “It’s Ice” comes next, without pause, and shows the band playing around with the jam section of the song. It’s a longer jam that begins with a jazz-infused section featuring Trey and Page riffing off eachother’s notes. Trey latches on his wah, letting out screatching wails. The band picks up locking into a fast-paced jazzy groove. Page is at the helm in this jam, driving the band into some early psychedelic territory. The end-jam rides on the jazzy groove before launching into the closing section of the song. A truly remarkable version that will catch the ear of fellow “It’s Ice” lovers.
By the time we arrive at the mammoth “Stash” from this show, the band is fully charged up in their new improvisational groove. As the song winds into the jam, Trey rolls out these typical ’94 licks – long, sustained notes riding on the roar of the ‘doc. The band charges forth with some mind-blowing playing. Soaring with a fiery roar, Trey leads the jam into a dark section of all-out madness. You can’t help but sink into his oozing tone as he wails his way through a lesson on tension and release, ala Ted Dunbar. We gracefully land in “If I Could”, returning to earth…for the time being. “Slave” is typically beautiful, and followed by “Suzy”, a magnificent set comes to an end.
This show has classic openers in both sets – “Jim” in the first, “Chalkdust” in the second. But it’s not until the third song, “Split Open and Melt”, that the second set exploration truly begins. It was right around this time that the band would ‘figure out’ the tricky time signature featured in the song, according to Trey. Once again, Big Red lays out a fury of licks, but this time the band is right there to match him. It’s when the band finds these ‘pockets’ of sound, fully connected in their playing, that propels them to their finest moments. While Trey is shining, you can hear every other member adding their own part to the jam. This is ’94 at its finest. In a perfect example of how the band was traveling down uncharted paths, they begin to add a themes and ambient effects that we have not heard from them before. Another remarkable highlight.
“Split Open and Melt“
I’d say the rest of the setlist speaks for itself, because it does. But, worthy of special mention is the top-notch version of “YEM”, another gem from this great show. The thing about ’94 is the band had been touring so much in the years prior, and had become so close that their playing was perhaps at its tightest point ever. Seamlessly flowing between songs and nailing compositions is what defines this era of Phish. It was this remarkable connection between the band that allowed them to propel their jams to such heights during this period. So, needless to say, “YEM” is absolutely flawless, which sets the way for a great jam. What’s particularly interesting about this “YEM” is that it has yet to fully take on the ’94 jamming style. The band seems locked up in their speed-jazz grooves as the jam begins, but as it progresses they begin to break new ground. There is a greater willingness to experiment rather than ride the wave. And, this willingness allows the band to reach higher levels of musical creativity as they push on forth…
“You Enjoy Myself“
Set 1: Runaway Jim, It’s Ice, Julius, Mound, Stash, If I Could, My Friend, My Friend, Slave to the Traffic Light, Suzy Greenberg
Set 2: Chalk Dust Torture, Bouncing Around the Room, Split Open and Melt, McGrupp and the Watchful Hosemasters > Peaches en Regalia > Scent of a Mule, You Enjoy Myself, Purple Rain > Hold Your Head Up, Good Times Bad Times
Encore: Free Bird
Rolling Stone writer David Fricke has posted great a discussion with Trey from last fall. The two sit down and talk about the Stones’ classic album which is being re-released on May 18th (remember Phish will perform a cover from Exile on Main St. on Jimmy Fallon this Thursday) Check out the full interview below. From Rolling Stone:
You had all of these British bands idolizing American blues musicians, which was the birth of what we know as electric rock & roll. But a lot of those records, with time, became too transparent — the lifting from the blues guys — so it’s almost not believable. This one straddles some kind of edge. They took what was good about that music and truly made it their own. Funnily enough, the songs they covered were to me the least successful tracks on the record. But when Jagger sings, “Kissing cunt in Cannes” ["Casino Boogie"] it’s so them, clearly.
Our last “Classic Jams” playlist received some very kind praise, which made us eager to get the next one ready for your listening pleasure. Last time we focused on some of the jams that every Phish fan should be aware of when navigating the vast ocean of Phish shows. Today, we venture deep into the psychedelic world of Phish, journeying through some of the most mesmerizing musical moments. These are times when the entire band is aflame with a collective creative energy, able to propel their music toward moments of pure musical enlightenment. So sit back, and prepare yourself for this journey. This is not one for the lighthearted.
“Classic Jams Series Pt. II“
Sometimes its nice to dive into a playlist without any setlist to guide you. And so, we’ll wait until later this afternoon to post today’s picks.
DOWNLOAD: Classic Jams Series Pt. II (Right-click and choose “Save As” to download)
IT Soundcheck (excerpt) > David Bowie (11.26.94) > Down With Disease (12.12.95) > Split Open and Melt (6.16.95) > Stash (7.2.97) > Tweezer (5.6.93)
As we prepare to turn the page and enter the next chapter of Phish 3.0, sitting only 37 days(!) from the tour opener, the thoughts of tours past fill our minds. Making the shift toward summer tour, much of our listening has also shifted over toward some of our favorite past summer tours. Lately, we’ve been highlighting the different style of jamming that is often associated with the summer environments – joyous, expansive, wide-open jamming. However, during the summer of ’95 Phish played with a different set of cards, venturing deep into the universe of dark, mind-bending psychedelia. Continually progressing, summer ’95 saw the band’s improvisation take on a new form; one that embodied the philosophies of King Sunny Aide in creating a single sound representative of the whole band – the synch.
However, summer ’95 often splits Phish fans into two camps – those who appreciate the risks the band was taking, and those who feel the music suffered as a result of aimless improvisational meandering without reward. Built on the massive progress of 1994, which was perhaps the most exploratory year in Phish’s career, summer ’95 came at a time of unrivaled musical risk-taking. Purposely extending jams, moving as a single unit, searching for those moments of musical enlightenment. But, with these extended jams – sometimes as long as 40 plus minutes – came segments that some people felt they could not connect with. Just like Bitches Brew isn’t for everyone, neither is summer ’95. But as Trey famously states in Bittersweet motel:
“If you’re gonna take a risk, sometimes you’re gonna play shit.”
Steve Howe, the guitarist from Yes, echoes a similar message. When asked how he composed incredible pieces such as “South Side of the Sky” or “The Clap”, he responded that he simply records hours and hours of private improvisation. He then goes through these recordings and picks out what he feels to be great, and develops these segments into songs. Similarly, if one were to go through many of these extended jams from ’95, they would discover some moments that are among the finest the band has ever played.
As a result of this split between Phish camps, summer ’95 fails to receive the attention it deserves. There is not a single archival release from the tour, and many of the ‘epic’ jams that took place fly way under the radar. Compared to other summer tours that receive loads of attention, summer ’95 is a relative sleeper.
Rather than go through the highlights of the entire tour, which can be saved for another post, it seems appropriate to discuss one show in particular that exemplifies the jamming style of summer ’95, but also foreshadows the direction the band would take in the fall. Many people are familiar with the standout shows from Red Rocks 6.10, Mud Island 6.14, Deer Creek etc. but few seem to mention the incredible second night of the Jones Beach run on 6.29.
Toward the end of 1995′s space odyssey of a summer tour, the band rolled into Wantagh for two shows at Jones Beach – many fans favorite summer venue. The first night is well-known and was highlighted by the landmark version of “Tweezer” that brought the first full fledged “DEG” tease in years. However, the second night, which is often overshadowed by the previous night’s performance, is arguably the better all-around show.
The first set kicks off with an excellent “Jim”, followed by “Taste”, setting the tone for an exceptional first set. “Divided Sky”, a welcome offering on any summer tour, spirals through multiple climaxes in an extended solo section. “Split” is typical for ’95, highly adventurous, with the jam building on Trey’s caterwauling notes. The set comes to a close with “Carolina” before heading into one of the finest second sets of the entire tour.
“Free”, which was still in its infancy, opens the second. Appearing only for the seventh time, the song demonstrates its potential as a future jam vehicle. It’s a group effort in this show with no one taking center stage as they work through the unfamiliar musical territory. The transition between “Free” and “Bowie” is drawn out, leaving us lost between songs. Reminiscent of a late 80′s “Space”, psychedelic sounds fill the segue before we find ourselves in the highlight of the show – a “Bowie” that clocks in at nearly 30 minutes.
This song demonstrates the wildly outside psychedelia that defined the summer of ’95, although in a somewhat more contained form. The band is meandering less, and reaching those moments of pure enlightenment – satori moments – with greater ease. The song goes through many adventurous sections before reaching the exit jam, and is one of the finest and most overlooked moments of the tour. “Strange Design” materializes next amongst what it otherwise an all-out psychedelic romp, and feels just right, allowing for a moment to return from the outer limits.
The summer of ’95 saw some of the greatest versions of “YEM”, including the one played on 6.29. Their playing is as tight as ever, and combined with their pursuit of psychedelic discovery, songs like “YEM” were given the full treatment. This high energy version finds the musicians listening to and playing off of each other in typical ’95 fashion – the synch at its finest.
The show closes with “Acoustic Army”, “A Day in the Life”, and encores with “Theme from the Bottom” – a capstone on one of the finest second sets of the entire tour.
In many ways psychedelia seems to define 1995, with the summer acting as an example of the absolute limits to which the band could take their jams. This show from the second night at Jones Beach is an ideal representation of summer ’95, and is often overlooked considering its greatness. Check out the entire show, which you can download below. Or, if you’re short for time listen to the excellent “Free” > “Bowie” that highlights the second set.
“Free” > “Bowie“
Set 1: Runaway Jim, Taste, The Horse > Silent in the Morning, The Divided Sky, Cavern, Rift, Simple, Split Open and Melt, Carolina
Set 2: Free -> David Bowie, Strange Design, You Enjoy Myself, Acoustic Army, A Day in the Life
Encore: Theme From the Bottom