Admittedly, I’ve been listening to less Phish lately. Maybe it’s because of all the great new music, or maybe I just needed a break. But the listening that I have done recently, has been focused on revisiting the less talked about highlights from 3.0. There are already so many jams that have fallen the way of the wind, seldom discussed or heard. Today we look back on several of these underrated moments from 3.0.
1. Down with Disease (8.5.09 Shoreline Amphitheatre, Mountain View, CA)
I rarely hear mention of this standout jam from the second leg of summer ’09. Around 12:00 the music takes a turn, entering a spacey section driven by Page’s synth effects.
2. Ghost > Limb By Limb (6.11.10 Toyota Park, Bridgeview, IL)
It seems those of us that were present for this have kept it in the back of our minds. But for others, that is hardly the case. This was the first psychedelic excursion of summer ’10, and also the tour opener. “Ghost” reaches some deeply transcendent territory and lands in a unique version of “Limb by Limb” with a African-inspired vocal jam tacked on the end (a supposed nod to the World Cup).
3. Fee > NO2 -> Kung > Fire (8.12.10 Deer Creek, Noblesville, IN)
This seldom discussed encore took place on the first night of Deer Creek last summer. Choppers flying overhead, waiting to prey on nitrous-hungry fiends, the band acknowledged the scene with this eye-catching combo. With all of the bust outs in 3.0, this kind of thing seems to be taken for granted.
5. Tweezer (6.7.09 Susquehanna Bank Center, Camden, NJ)
I’m sure some will argue that this isn’t exactly “underrated,” but it is. Overshadowed by the Messianic arrival of the massive “Sand” jam that opened the set, this “Tweezer” fails to earn the respect it deserves (even if it has garnered three PT threads in its support).
6. Harry Hood (6.2.09 Nikon at Jones Beach Theater, Wantagh, NY)
I think I’m probably the only one who talks about this version of “Hood.” In my humble opinion, it’s one of the top versions since the return. The jam features a section of deep psychedelia that offered us an early glimpse into the early jamming style of 3.0.
7. 46 Days (11.18.09 Cobo Arena, Detroit, MI)
Again, this one is debatable. Those that were there will remember this as the moment that kicked off the much-awaited fall tour within the historic Cobo Arena. As soon as the jam began, everyone knew the band had escalated to a higher level. Even Kuroda knew it and he embraced the moment by layering washes of color across the venue’s white backdrop. I remember it like it was yesterday.
8. Reba (11.24.09 Wachovia Center, Philadelphia, PA)
Some feel this is one of the top versions since the return. Showing a noticeable patience, the band comes together to create a piece of stunning, collective music. This is an occasion where the whale actually seemed to pan out on one of the less charged numbers.
9. Drowned (8.13.09 Darien Lake PAC, Darien Center, NY)
With so many similar jams on songs like “Drowned” and “Rock n Roll,” it’s hard to differentiate between them all. There’s lots of great moments, but many charted similar paths. Although, this jam from Darien in ’09 served as one of few that truly stands out.
10. Piper > Tomorrow’s Song (11.27.09 Times Union Center, Albany, NY)
I’ve been a major proponent of this jam, and those who remember it well know how special it was. Foreshadowing the events of the following night, the band took “Piper” for a journey into the cosmos eventually landing in the blissful chant of “Tomorrow’s Song.”
This week Ambient Alarm Clock takes a look back on Phish’s trip out west in March of ’93. Amid a massive tour that stretched through all corners of the country, the band was reaching one of the first major high points in their career. With the addition of Page’s baby grand, and a wealth of new material, the band left a blazing trail that stands up as one of the finest to this day.
Also, stay tuned as we await the imminent announcement of Phish’s festival at Watkins Glen. Over the past few days the shady track president hinted through his twitter account at an announcement taking place today (the expected date). However, yesterday he posted a tweet implying a delay had taken place. Our friends at Hidden Track have the full scoop which you can check out here.
For today’s musical selections, first we’ll visit a rarely mentioned yet smoking version of “Reba.” This one came midway through the second set on March 9, 1993 at Pike’s Peak Center, Colorado Springs, CO. Check out the segment at 10:24 when Trey locks onto a single note for a nearly three minutes (it has to be up there with the 11.16.96 “Hood” for single longest note). Click the dates for full setlists courtesy of Phish.net.
Next up we’ll visit the well-known version of “YEM” from 3.14.93 at the Paul Wright Gym located in Gunnison, CO. This was a landmark performance that quickly became a commonly circulated SBD recording. The jam features various teases including Yes’s “Owner of a Lonely Heart” along with a full-on “Spooky” segment. A classic, must-hear version.
“You Enjoy Myself” (3.14.93)
I’m a fan of anything with “DEG” teases in it, so for the next selection we’ll turn to the “Bowie” from The Palace in Hollywood, CA on 3.18.93. Featuring secrete language signals during the intro and an extended “DEG” segment during the jam, this one is among my favorites from this period.
“David Bowie” (3.18.93)
Finally, we turn to another top-notch performance from Santa Cruz, CA on 3.25.93. The entire second set from this show is worth your attention, but we’ll feature the “Mike’s Groove” from late in the second set. A typically wailing combination with a jam on the Anastasio/Popper original “Don’t Get Me Wrong” during Weekapaug.
“Mike’s Song” > “Hydrogen” > “Weekapaug Groove” (3.25.93)
Today we look back on three more great jams from the month of December—the “Tweezer” from 12.9.94, the famous “Albany YEM” from 12.9.95 and the “Simple” > “Timber” from 12.9.97. All three jams show the band exploring vastly different musical styles and continue to highlight this magical month.
This spacey version features the band singing “Let’s say goodbye to Salem” (in reference to the “Tweezer” from a week prior). Lots of psychedelic, stretched-out exploration with loads of Miles’ influence.
The Albany YEM (12.9.95)
One of the most famous versions of Phish’s magnum opus. It includes a “silent jam” and quotes from the “Shaft” theme. We discussed this jam the other night on Type II Cast, which you can now check out here. This one goes out to Scotty B. of YEMblog. Be sure to check out Scotty’s writeup on the jam over at Hidden Track.
Simple > Timber (Jerry) (12.9.97)
Another 30 minute adventure from the magical Fall ’97 tour. Slow, spaced out psychedelia.
Sometimes, something so subtle can drastically alter the course of a song, making it stand out among other versions. It can be a tease of a cover or one of their own songs, a slight change in a section, or as Monty Python would say “something completely different”. These moments depart from the song’s frame, altering the course with a simple riff, or a collective realization of a tease. All of these irregularities draw our attention, and make these versions memorable for their unique qualities.
Often, these unique aspects of the song come as such a surprise that we feel truly removed from whatever it is we are doing, and find ourselves in one of those truly Satori moments – moments where the perfect state is reached and realized. Some notable examples are the “Divided” from 11.19.92 which includes a tease of “Those Were the Days” (recently released by livephish), the “Reba” from 7.3.94 featuring an extended “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” quote (discussed in our most recent Sleeper Show article), the famous “Tweezer” from 7.15.98 with the “California Love” tease or even this year’s “Boogielope” from 12.30.09. Songs such as these can become memorable versions simply based on these unique qualities, apart from their phenomenal jams.
Today I’ve chosen to share some of these particularly great songs that standout for one reason or another. I hope you enjoy this selection as much as I do.
“David Bowie” (1989.11.30)
This early version of “Bowie” contains a “Contact” tease in the intro section, as well as a tease of Coltrane’s “Mr. PC” (7:18). Jon immediately picks up on the “Mr. PC” tease and switches to a jazz rhythm to accompany Trey. The synch!
“Mike’s Song” > “Faht” (1993.8.16)
A wild “Mike’s” with numerous teases including Jimi’s “Who Knows”, Santana’s “Gypsy Queen” and Stevie Wonder’s “I Wish”, as well a “Faht” segue.
“Split Open and Melt” (1997.8.10)
The jam in this version leads into a full-on quote of King Crimson’s “Lark’s Tongue in Aspic (Part II)” around 10:00 in.
“You Enjoy Myself” (1993.3.14)
This one goes out to Mike over at EVRadio! The extended “Owner of a Lonely Heart” quote, as well as the various other teases (“Spooky”, “Low Rider”, “Oye Como Va’, “We Will Rock You”, “Welcome to the Machine”) should suit his rockin’ taste.
“Weekapaug Groove” (1991.12.31)
“Weekapaug” is known for its various teases and quotes. This one, featuring a lengthy “Lion Sleeps Tonight” segment, stands out among many of the rest.
“Runaway Jim” (1996.8.7)
A jam on Santana’s “Gypsy Queen” propels the song into a truly great section of improv.
An early “Tweezer” with a tease of Jimi’s “Who Knows” – a constantly reoccurring theme in Trey’s guitar playing.
“You Enjoy Myself” (1993.7.16)
The song segues into “Yerushalayim Shel Zahav” during the opening segment offering a moment of true spiritual beauty.
Very often, people will ask me “what are the best Phish jams?” or “where can I find a list of the best jams”? Approximately 30 people find their way to this site every day, simply by googling “the best phish jams”. The truth is, there are so many great jams -subject to varying tastes – that it’s hard to list all of the “best jams”. There’s just too many. The closest attempt in compiling a list of “the best jams” has been the incredible work done by the writers of The Phish Companion. The depth of their analysis is remarkable. However, that depth also leads to confusion amongst many newcomers, and even those who have been listening for years.
However, there are certain jams that everyone agrees are AMONG the best. These are classics that have stood the test of time, and are considered to be some of the finest moments in Phish history. Those who have never heard them will be in awe of the greatness they are about to witness. And those that have heard these a thousand times, well, I don’t think we mind hearing them again.
Today, we’re starting with some very well-known jams that are by all accounts, among the most memorable Phish jams ever. The idea is to eventually create a podcast series where you can subscribe via itunes, creating a collection of what we believe to be the “best phish jams” (thanks to Eric Wyman for the suggestion!). This will be the perfect way to introduce those who are less-familiar, or not familiar at all, with Phish’s music. You can either download the file or stream it through the site. Be patient while the file is loading, it is somewhat large.
The setlist for today is:
Bathtub Gin (11.23.97) > “Ghost” (12.31.98) > “Chalkdust Torture” (7.10.99) > “AC/DC Bag” (12.30.97) > “Funky Bitch” > “Jam” (11.22.94)
Classic Jams Series Pt. I
[The ambient clips you will hear before/after each song are to make things interesting for those who have heard these jams before, and to add a sense of fluidity. Whoever can come closest to guessing the "ambient" interludes will receive a little gift from DGB. I promise, it will be worth your while. Send your picks to email@example.com and we'll determine a winner by the end of the week.]
As we prepare enter into the next phase of Phish.30, everyone is wondering how the band will sound. With a full summer tour, a festival, fall tour and NYE run under their belt, there is no doubt the band has regained their collective stride. As Mike said in a recent interview with the Times Union Albany:
“We had a great first year back recording and playing. We feel now that we’ve got the engine greased up we’re ready to keep doing it. At the same time, it’s important for us to take about half of this year just to work on our own projects, so we can do everything we want to accomplish.”
And did I forget to mention (forget to mention) the three solo tours 2 from Mike and one from Trey? All three have received rave reviews all across the board.
There is no doubt, the band is playing with a renewed energy that we have not seen in years. This summer will definitely see Phish turn another corner. Those that were skeptical with regard to the lack of jamming in ’09…well, consider Mike’s words – they’re engine wasn’t greased up. It’s clear that this time around, they had no intention of simply diving back into the Phish mobile and cruising across the country aimlessly. And, rather than produce a year’s worth of mediocre jams, the band focused on regaining their communication with one another, relearning challenging compositions - the music rather than the jams.
As the year progressed, and the band shed their training wheels we began to see jams emerging, as they were perhaps testing the improvisational waters. Looking back, Camden’s “Sand”, which at the time was hailed as the return of the Messiah, still shows traces of sloppiness. But, by the time we reached Miami it was evident how far the band had come in such a short period of time. Jams were emerging from unexpected places, bust outs were happening left, right and center – Phish was back in every sense of the word. So as we closed the door on 2009, we all knew the next gathering 2010 would be big…and now it’s just over two month away.
Today is the last day to pre-order tickets for Phish’s Summer 2010 tour through their exclusive lottery system. Get your orders in by 11:59pm EST. We wish you all the best of luck, and hope to see you on the road this summer!
As we head in to another weekend, edging closer to Summer tour, we’ve compiled another round of highlight summer jams. Enjoy the jams, and the weekend.
“Birds of a Feather” (1999.7.8 Virginia Beach Amphitheater, Virginia Beach, VA)
This gem from summer ’99 features a gorgeous tease of the Dead’s “Day’s Between” before segueing into a spacey “If I Only Had Brain”.
“Tweezer“ (2000.6.24 Lakewood Amphitheater, Atlanta, GA)
A space-filled groovefest from the coveted Lakewood Amphitheater.
“Harry Hood” (1993.8.15 Macauley Theater, Louisville, KY)
One of the best “Hoods” from a year that saw many great versions of the song. Soaring, beautiful, melodic jamming.
“Split Open and Melt” (1997.8.2 The Gorge, George, WA)
A wild ride from Heaven’s amphitheater. Groovy outsideness. Man.
“You Enjoy Myself” (1997.7.31 Shoreline Amphitheater, Mountain View, CA)
One of the best “YEMs” from one of the band’s finest summer tours. A journey to the depths of psychedelic funk.
“Reba“ (1996.8.14 Hersheypark Stadium, Hershey, PA)
A spirited melodic jam that defines what summer tour is all about.
“Run Like an Antelope” (1999.7.25 Deer Creek, Noblesville, IN)
The jam moves between several different sections, from rock to reggaed-out funk. An experimental “Antelope” that features collective jamming throughout.
Well, it looks like Spring is here again. As the classic jazz standard “It Might as Well Be Spring” goes, I’d say I have spring fever. Once again the Phish community is blooming with excitement for the upcoming tour. Over the next few days we will scramble to get our mail-orders in by the Friday deadline, and we wish the best of luck all of our readers.
It seems like just yesterday that we walked out of the American Airlines Arena on New Years, wondering when and where we would see the band next. And now, with the warm weather quickly arriving, it appears we are just around the corner! Thoughts of past summer tours fill our minds as we plan to return to many more storied Phish venues this summer. And as we look back, the growth and progress the band has seen becomes evident. For starters, we are planning for a SUMMER tour in March. If this was ’94, we’d be strapping up the car getting ready to head off on Spring tour! But, the band has aged, and those types of touring schedules just aren’t realistic anymore. As Greg Allman said in a very recent interview (included in the program to the 2010 United Palace run):
“Musicians don’t retire from music, they retire from travelling.” – Greg Allman
And so, as we get ready to dive into what is sure to be a VICIOUS ticket scramble, we here at DGB will be filling in for the lack of a Spring tour with some highlight moments from past tours (in no particular order). Just recently we talked about Spring ’92 (a favorite period of many a fan), and today we’ll be taking a trip backwards down the number line to Spring ’94. However, since Spring ’94 is such a massive tour we’ll be focusing on the shows from May – that is not to say that April ’94 should be overlooked. Many of the foundations for the truly outside, psychedelic jamming were laid in Spring ’94, and lots of these shows fly way under the radar. This is likely due to the size of the tour, and the sheer number of shows in ’94 altogether. Everyone knows the Bomb Factory “Tweezerfest”, and most know about the two shows at Laguna Seca (including the amazing “Reba” from 5.28). Well, there’s more…
“David Bowie” (1994.5.3 Starwood Amphitheater, Antioch, TN)
“Run Like an Antelope” > “BBFCFM” > “Run Like an Antelope” (1994.5.16 The Wiltern Theater, Los Angeles, CA)
“Bathtub Gin“ (1994.5.20 Campus Recreation Center, Evergreen College, Olympia, WA)
“Stash“ (1994.5.21 The Moore Theater, Seattle, WA)
“Tweezer > “Lifeboy““ (1994.5.22 Vogue Theater, Vancouver, BC)
“Reba” (1994.5.27 Warfield Theater, San Francisco, CA)
“Mike’s Jam” > “Mio Babbino Caro” (1994.5.27 Warfield Theater, San Francisco, CA)
“Split Open and Melt” (1994.5.29 Laguna Seca Raceway, Monterey, CA)
Set 1: Buried Alive > Poor Heart, Sample in a Jar, The Divided Sky, Axilla (Part II), Rift, Down with Disease, Bouncing Around the Room, Stash, Sweet Adeline
Set 2: Also Sprach Zarathustra > Run Like an Antelope -> Big Black Furry Creature from Mars -> Run Like an Antelope, Sparkle, It’s Ice, Julius, You Enjoy Myself, Big Black Furry Creature from Mars, Amazing Grace, Big Black Furry Creature from Mars
Encore: Fee > Rocky Top
[Thanks to Phish.net for the setlist + Hoydog23 for the link]
It appears summer tour rumors are kicking into high gear once again, with heavy speculation as to which venues Phish will play. Rumor has it that the announcement video was filmed, and completed in LA just days ago, and will be released in the coming days. Within the community, rumors surroundings Toyota Park, the Greek Theater, Lakewood, Telluride, and many more are all gaining steam as we near the announcement date.
As the days grow longer, and the weather turns warmer our focus begins to shift from the indoor excursions of fall, to the all-out freedom of summer tour. While everyone loves the better-sound, and overall better musical experience that occurs during the fall, there is absolutely nothing like summer tour. Cruising down the sun-drenched highways with tunes blasting, seeing old and meeting new friends along the way. The warm weather lot chill, the open-air venues and their grassy lawns – summer tour, like fall, definitely has its perks. The wide-open venues on summer tour bring with them a different energy. And, inspired by each of their distinct natural surroundings, Phish’s music adapts to these environments, taking on a free-form quality that only summer can bring.
Lately, we’ve been experiencing some early warm weather. With the sun shining down as you get in your car, or throw on your Ipod, there’s nothing like accompanying it with a sublime jam. So for today, we’ve put together a selection of memorable summer moments from past years. Enjoy these tunes as we await the imminent summer tour announcement!
“David Bowie” (1995.6.15 Lakewood Amphitheater, Atlanta, GA)
“The Curtain (With)” (1988.7.29 The Roma, Telluride, CO)
“Reba” (1993.8.16 American Theater, St. Louis, MO)
“Bathtub Gin” (1999.6.30 Sandstone Amphitheater, Bonner Springs, KS)
“Split Open and Melt” (1996.8.12 Deer Creek Music Center, Noblesville, IN)
“Tweezer” (1998.8.1 Alpine Valley Music Theater, East Troy, WI)
“Harry Hood” (1997.8.14 Darien Lake PAC, Darien Lake, NY)
Phish jams contain so many different musical elements, many of which are often overlooked. Those who are educated in music often try to analyze jams, attempting to determine the musical elements within a jam in order to gain a better understanding of how such magic is even possible. But, the workings of a Phish jam can elude even those with high levels of musical education. Through the band’s famous practice sessions, they developed techniques and methods upon which to direct their jams. Whether it was responsive jamming techniques, musical signals, methods to create tension and resolution, or spontaneous listening exercises – they all factored in to Phish’s jams. In the band’s early years, these jamming techniques can clearly be heard. However, as the band progressed, their jamming styles became more fluid and complex, and as a result harder to decipher.
The words Ella Fitzgerald sung in the famous song “Every Time We Say Goodbye” (written by Cole Porter) will forever remain true: “How strange the change from major to minor”. The major/minor switch is something the human ear can pick up quite easily. The shift not only changes the sound, but the mood of the music as well. Major jams evoke feelings of happiness, liveliness and create calm, warm atmospheres. In contrast, minor jams communicate seriousness, sadness and introspection. Listen to two different pieces, on in major the other in minor, and you will clearly be able to hear the difference in mood. That said, without getting too technical, there are different ways of evoking major and minor moods using the different major/minor modes (see our article Modal Exploration). Since the beginning, Phish has used this as one of their tools to instantly change the mood of a jam, modulating between major and minor to convey feelings of joy or seriousness.
Today we present you with five jams that contain major & minor changes. Notice the change in mood that is created, and how strange it is. Hopefully next time you’re listening to a jam, you’ll have a better understanding of what’s happening when the band makes these sort of musical moves.
“Stash” (1994.5.3 Starwood Amphitheater, Antioch, TN)
“Stash” is one of the band’s most well-known minor jams, famous for Trey’s dark caterwauling guitar solos. This little-known gem from Antioch, TN perfectly displays the contrast between a minor and major jam. Listen as the band modulates between the two creating a very strange feeling. While the major sections are noticeably gracious and beautiful, the minor sections are dark and serious.
“Free” (1995.6.26 SPAC, Saratoga, NY)
“Free” continues to be a platform for major/minor exploration to this day. The current arrangement of the jam features two contrasting major/minor sections that the band changes between, but this is fully composed. In this often forgotten gem from SPAC ’95, the band arrives at a musical plateau by way of a major change before diving back into the depths of a minor jam.
“Down With Disease” (1997.7.22 Walnut Creek Amphitheater, Raleigh, NC)
Well everyone knows how this one goes…The storm came and the second set of this show took off into one long, dark trip into the abyss. “DWD”, which actually contains a major jam, has been known to take a turn for the dark, and this is one notable occasion.
“David Bowie” > “Cities” > “David Bowie” (1997.7.30 Ventura Fairgrounds, Ventura, CA)
“Bowie” is known for its dark excursions by way of its minor jam that begins following the composed section. However, this “Bowie” veers off course toward the bright grooves of the Talking Head’s “Cities”. The change is drawn out, and creates a section of prolonged weirdness as a result.
“Seven Below” (2009.11.28 Times Union Center, Albany, NY)
Whether or not people knew exactly what was happening when this jam occurred, everyone knew the band had just reached some sort of musical plateau. The atmosphere in the room immediately changed, as the transformation occurred, the lights went from dark to light courtesy of yet another major/minor switch.
“Seven Below Jam” 11.28.09
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!
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
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
One element that shows from the most recent summer tour lacked was a powerful encore. In the past, Phish took advantage of the encore to leave their final mark on a night of music. However, recently they have become predictable add-ons to the show, that miss the entire point of an encore. Generally speaking, the point of an encore is to satisfy the audience with one last song from the band. Other than a few occasions this summer, the encores lacked the powerful impact that was present in the encores of the past. As a result, the effect was often lost, and the exclamation point that used to cap off the show was missing. Today, we will look back at some of the most memorable Phish encores.
The most common encores this summer were “Tweezer Reprise”, “Loving Cup”, “Frankenstein” and “Suzy Greenberg”. Very little was added to the show during the encore, aside from a few shows worth mentioning. Burgettstown featured an encore, that was as Jon put it “the train-wreck part of the show”. Not exactly a “good” encore in the normal sense of the word, but the Phish-fun was brought back that night. The Fox show in St. Louis saw perhaps my favorite encore, featuring “The Star-Spangled Banner, McGrupp And The Watchful Horsemasters, While My Guitar Gently Weeps” as the close-out. “McGrupp” had not been played in over 40 shows, and was a powerful way to finish the evening. Other notable encores were Camden, Darien, Gorge night 1, Red Rocks night 4 as well as a few others.
What lacked from the encores, other than the exceptions mentioned above, was a lasting effect. After Burgettstown, everyone was left talking about what had just occurred, even if it was the result of a ‘mistake’. Just being themselves, they crafted a memorable Phish experience that reminded us of the good old days. Being themselves is something that was often left out of the encores this summer, as too many covers were repeated, too many times. All too often this summer were people correctly able to predict the encores, diminishing the effect, and the mystery that makes Phish unique.
Here are some of the best encores from over the years.
1997.12.30 Madison Square Garden, New York, NY - Carini > Black-Eyed Katy > Sneakin’ Sally Through the Alley > Frankenstein
This is considered by many to be the best encore ever. Featuring some wild stage antics, the band closed out this show unleashing the energy that had been brewing throughout the night. The band tears apart the first three songs before launching into “Frankenstein”, segueing perfectly from one to the next. Trey has Kuroda turn down the lights, while the glowstick war continues over the delay jam. Trey and Fish start a ‘ritual dance’ at the front of the stage, before Fish gets on the vacuum. Continuing the loop, the band finally picks back up and finishes “Frankenstein”. An epic moment in Phish history.
Listen to “Frankenstein” from this amazing encore.
1996.12.6 Aladdin Theater, Las Vegas, NV - Harpua > Wildwood Weed > Harpua > I Want To Be a Cowboy’s Sweetheart > Harpua > Suspicious Minds > Harpua, Suzy Greenberg
Another famous encore considered to be one of the all-time best. Featuring Larry LaLonde, Brian Mantia and Les Claypool from Primus. John McCuen of the Nitty Gritty Dirt band, as well as four Elvis impersonators, the band and their guests took the audience on a wild rendition of “Harpua”. Telling the story of Jimmy, as Jon dueled the Elvii, the journey unfolds and finishes with a killer “Suzy”. Fitting with the surroundings, the band brought on a cabaret-like group of performers onto the stage. This encore was a Phishy experience for all and capped the show off with an unforgettable Phish moment in their first trip to Vegas.
Listen to the first part of “Harpua” featuring Larry and Les.
1994.4.21 Lawrence Joel Veterans Memorial Coliseum, Winston-Salem, NC - Drums > Jam > All Along the Watchtower
In the spring of ’94, Dave Matthews Band opened some shows for Phish, with its members appearing in several jams. In Winston-Salem, the encore began as a drum duel with Carter (Dave’s drummer) and Jon. Unlike many drum jams, this one exhibits the incredible talents of both drummers, as they rhythmically complement each other. With Jon playing the beat, and Carter providing layers of percussion, the two gradually thicken the rhythm. The interplay is amazing, as neither drummer seems to miss a beat the entire time. The way the two listen to each other gives the impression that they have been playing together for years.
Slowly, the instruments join the band. LeRoi locks in with the rhythm and laces it with his trademark fills. The rhythmic ping-pong continues as Trey starts to shred on top before joining in with the rest in the percussive jam. The full band creates a melody, somewhere in between Phish and DMB, making for a great mix of sounds. The layers then unravel into the intro of “All Along the Watchtower” with Dave on vocals. Trey absolutely tears apart the solo leading into another full on Phish-DMB jam with elements from both bands. This encore is one of my all-time favs.
Listen to “Drums>Jam” with Phish and DMB.
1998.8.9 Virginia Beach Amphitheatre, Virginia Beach, VA - Terrapin Station
Another well known encore, with an incredibly memorable lasting effect. Until this point, Phish had the task of constantly trying to distance themselves from the Grateful Dead. Leaving their Dead covers far behind, the band had spent years trying to break the connection that was held by so many. However, on the third anniversary of Jerry’s passing, the band decided to pay homage to the group that had paved the way for them. After delivering one of the best shows of the summer, the band left the stage after performing “Hello My Baby”. Rumors had swirled earlier in the day of some sort of Jerry tribute, but as the encore approached these rumors seemed to be long-forgotten. Then, as Trey began the instantly recognizable “Lady with a Fan” intro, a statement was made. No longer overshadowed by the band that created the jam-band touring model, Phish paid tribute to their fallen hero with an incredible rendition of the Dead’s masterful composition. An incredibly emotional moment for the band and the fans,and one of the most powerful encores the band has ever performed.
Listen to “Terrapin Station”.
What is your favorite Phish encore? Post it in the comments section!
Here’s the “Carini” video from 12.30.97 at Madison Square Garden.
After listening to the most recent shows several times, we can start to delve back into Phish’s full catalog of live shows. 2009 is simply one of the years, gladly added to the library of Phish shows making up my collection. As I sort through, looking for forgotten favorites, or hidden gems, it occurred to me that it was right around this time last year that Kevin Shapiro, Phish’s archivist, broadcast a selection of songs on livephish.com. Having the gold-mine of Phish shows at his fingertips, Shapiro took us through some incredible moments, reminiscent of the Phish-radio broadcasts from their past festivals.
With a taste for Phish that is incredibly similar to my own, I always trust Shapiro to select gems with great sound quality. Last year was no different. Delving into a wide range of songs from the catalog, some unreleased, Shapiro took listeners on journeys that are certainly worth revisiting. Similarly, the year before on the fifth anniversary of livephish (12/20), Shapiro did a livephish radio broadcast also featuring some incredible gems (including the Haley’s from our 10 Phish Jams you Should Hear). Today we will offer Shapiro’s selections from last summer’s broadcast on livephish radio. We have selected 10 of our favorites from both broadcasts and discussed them (FYI: selecting only 10 was extremely difficult). This is a real treat for any Phish fan, and we figure it should help with the ‘end of summer blues’ that seems to be setting in. Obviously, because he’s Phish’s archivist, all of the downloads are SBDs which really enhances the listening. The first five picks are from last year’s broadcast, the latter 5 are from the year before. Both of the broadcasts are available for download below containing what Kevin calls a “highly potent combination of primal Phish”.
10 Picks from the Archives
1. Reba 1993-8-16 – One of the best versions of the song. Ever. This “Reba” is longer and more exploratory than the jams the song usually offers. The composed section is nailed with standard ’93 execution. Jon’s drumming is particularly noticeable around 4:47, as he absolutely nails the tomb section. The jam begins by straying from the normal melodic flow of the song as Page and Trey begin to lock into a descending, outside pattern. The entire band quickly picks up on this and the jam takes a very early turn in another, darker direction. The jam takes a more rock-based focus, which then slows back down and slowly turns toward the lighter side. Gradually, the song progresses back towards a more typical “Reba” jam. The contrast between the light and the dark is the extremely unique aspect of this “Reba” which places it among my favorites. Just when this jam gets good, it gets better.
2. Gumbo 1997-7-29 – From the summer of funk, this Gumbo is an absolute gem. The jam enters into a funk groove with heavy effects all around. Slowly, Trey picks up the jam and begins a simple lead pattern over top of the groove. Never standing too far out, Trey manages to solo throughout the entire jam in a way that glides over the rhythm. Page complements Trey’s lead with careful phrasing, helping to provide a thick texture over top of the rhythm. It is these full sounding, yet minimalistic funk jams that make ’97 such an incredible period. The jam never strays to far outside, yet the funk carries it to a level of groove that could not have been established otherwise. A different type of jamming, from a very interesting period in Phish’s storied past.
3. AC/DC Bag 1997-12-30 – Another one of those “best ever” jams. This one is more known than the one above, but needs constant revisiting. Each time I listen to this jam I discover some new aspect that I hadn’t noticed before. Bringing the year of the funk to a close in one of the finest venues in the world, this jam is the culmination of all the progress made throughout ’97.
Shortly after the start of the guitar solo, Trey reserves himself for a more groove-based jam. Layered with Page’s clav work, the funky, yet minimalist jam slowly begins to build. As Mike begins to slightly alter his bass-line, the rest of the band slowly layers effects moving the jam into a completely new section. Still heavy on the funk, the jam rides the groove above Jon’s beat. Trey delves into a short, interesting, octave-dropped section before returning back to the funk with some heavy rica-rica. The following sections are some of the most dynamic in any jam. The band goes in and out of a soaring jam, filling the gaps with a soft, piano-based soundscape. The jam finally closes out with a Klezmer-like sound.
4. Haley’s>David Bowie 1994-11-26 – I love the period from ’93-’95 because every show is played with so much energy, as though they had something to prove on a nightly basis. After the raging Hayley’s the band slowly, and smooth as ever, slips into the intro to “Bowie”. Similar to the “Reba” from above, from the outset this jam is headed outside places. From the show that features the “Slave” from A Live One, this jam is an exhibition of Phish’s psychedelic exploratory abilities. The jam unleashes into a full roaring tide of chaos, raging on with dark howls from Trey’s Doc. This is the type of jam where it feels like the band may take off, with a rhythmic groove that implies motion, the entire band builds on the tension before unleashing once more into the raging conclusion of “Bowie”. This version of “Bowie” is just under 40 minutes alone, and explores an extremely wide range of outside jamming, including a wild vacuum solo midway through.
This is Phish fabric cut from a different period in time, and this soundboard recording helps us cherish it. It’s impossible to point out a particular section of this jam. In fact, the entire show from the Orpheum Theater in Minneapolis, MN is incredible, as is the entire month 11/94 (11/30 and 12/1 are both Livephish releases). This jam is an ideal look at Phish in possibly their most psychedelic phase. This gift deserves endless thanks to Kevin.
5. Ghost>Slave to the Traffic Light 1999-7-4 – This “Ghost” is the way the song is supposed to be played. Recent versions are a bit sloppy at the outset, and this version should be used as a lesson. This is how funk music is played. Each member, slowly builds together a piece of the groove, making for a sound that is greater that its parts. Layering effects early on in the song foreshadows where the jam would eventually lead. Hardly containable between the lyrical sections, the band explodes into raging funk at every opportunity. When the actual jam begins, the band dives into a deep groove which Trey floats above with his effect-laden tone. The melodic jam continues and eventually flows right into “Slave”. Slave features a soaring melodic solo that makes for a stunning piece of music. Trey’s solo is very interesting as he encorporates several different techniques and effects to make for an ethereal layer of sounds. The combination of these two songs works perfectly, showing two contrasting styles of Phish.
6. Stash 1998-4-2 – From the famous Island Tour. Need I say more? One of the greatest four night runs in Phish history, and this “Stash” is certainly a highlight. Reaching into the intergalactic soundscapes that defined that period, this phase separates the band from any other period in their career. As tight as can be, and exploring a new realm of music, post-funk, the island tour is a display of Phish at the peak of their jamming. The jam enters into an early groove, avoiding the all out wailing that typifies standard “Stash” jams. By no means is this jam standard.
7. Bathtub Gin> The Real Me> Bathtub Gin 1995-12-29 – This second set “Bathtub” seems pretty standard at the start, going through the song’s typical melody. However, when Trey locks into a riff with a droning ring to it, the jam takes a different turn. Going back and forth between the drone and an explosive chord, over Jon’s standard 1-2 rock beat, the jam begins to take a dive into a new form of rock.
Completely leaving behind all memories of what was “Bathtub”, the band slowly picks up on the queue for “The Real Me”, a raging The Who number. Giving the song the fierce Townshend-like energy it deserves, the jam continues to build steam. Adding tempo, and feeding into the rock, the song leaves the cover with a smoking trail behind it. Trey’s droning continues, leading the jam into an all out rocker, with a mind-blowing bass line by Cactus. Trey and Page then lock into a chord battle, and with Trey’s quick wahs, it makes for a glimpse into the funk that would soon emerge in the months following the show. The melodies of “Bathtub” slowly rise up from underneath the jam, eventually leading the song to a slow end.
8. AC/DC Bag 1999-9-14 – Another AC/DC bag with a magical jam. A previously unreleased SBD with incredible sound quality offering a much better listen. Mike absolutely kills this jam, as the other members layer effects, creating a psychedelic blend with Mike’s Talking Heads-like bass line. A fully equal parted jam, exploring the psychedelic realms, with an unexplainable halt in the midst of the jam. Full of funk, yet completely outside, this jam is such an interesting blend of the different Phish sounds. Coming in and out of the stop-time, into the same roaring funk which continues to build as the jam progresses. This jam is a lesson in timing to any musician. After a few bits of stop-time, with dives back into the funk, the jam dips deeper into the abyss. Eventually trailing off into an ambient layer of sounds (with bird sounds included), this jam is an example of how the band can carry an entire jam from start to finish, with no noticeable lead instrument. Did I mention Mike absolutely kills it?
9. Contact 2003-1-3 – This is one of my personal favorites from any jam in ’03. When I heard this recording I was so optimistic about the direction the band was heading. This jam made up for all the flaws that occurred on that tour in the winter of ’03. Funk-laden, and playing as tight as ’94 the band leads this jam through the ultimate funk journey. Full of pauses, which feature individual solos, the jam is absolutely great. Every member of the band is at their best during this “Contact” encore.
10. Tweezer 1994-11-28 – No list of Phish jams would be complete without a Tweezer from the ’94 period. In a time that took this song to heights that were rarely seen after, this version from the MSU Field House in Bozeman, MT is one of the best examples. Another previously released SBD, this gem spent too long in the distorted sounds of an AUD. Clocking in at over 40 minutes, the jam is a real musical journey, leading the listener through numerous sections. Starting with a heavy rock focus, the jam turns sideways yet stays within the frame of the song. Eventually, the band takes the jam toward ambiance with scattered sections of build-up. Finally the jam returns to the basic foundation of the rock jam before finishing off in an outside, chaotic, jumble of sounds.
Here are the downloads for the two broadcasts by Kevin Shapiro on Livephish radio.
DOWNLOAD Kevin Shapiro’s Broadcast from 2007-12-20
Interesting factoid: In a response to whether or not there is a possibility of a Big Cypress DVD, Shapiro had the following to say (click HERE to read the interview with jambands):
“If you were asking my opinion I’d say 99%. Unedited or uninterrupted is the only way I’ve ever presented the idea. I think that’s how Cypress deserves to be presented. And no one has ever disagreed with that in principle. But that’s a very meaty video release. I don’t doubt that somewhere along the way, someone will suggest that we should release less than the whole thing. And by advocating a full-show release, I don’t think we rule that out. We could do it in full length, either in parts or altogether and still do a documentary or more creative piece on it too. I hope we do it in full even if it takes other forms as well. Nobody disagrees with the magic of Cypress. It’s a great show; a landmark event and we have excellent quality audio and video. It would be sick! The holy grail.”
Phish shows ooze with improvisational energy, taking the listeners on musical excursions that seem to end far too soon. Constrained by curfews, travel schedules and other factors that exist when touring, shows are the best bite of Phish a fan can get. Most of the time.
This past weekend, while many of us were catching the end of the most recent tour, the anniversaries of nearly all of Phish’s summer festivals passed (IT was two weeks before). With Phish’s only announced tour date being a festival, the thought is clearly on the minds of a lot of people. The surroundings of a festival offer a great deal more space for the band to unleash their creativity, both in musical and other ways.
In the history of Phish, there have only been a few times in a live setting where the band has shed all barriers and simply jammed with no constraints. Removed from the normal concert setting, stripped of any song’s frame, the band uses their creative energy to guide them through new levels of musical discovery. As Trey said at Lemonwheel in ’98, “not a typical Phish set, whatever the spirit moves”. Each time, the result has been masterful, propelling the band into a new form of improvisation. Today, we look back on “The Flatbed Jam”, “The Ring of Fire” and “The Tower Jam” (the disco tent jam from the Great Went is not included because it’s not really Phish.) Each of these jams exhibits the rawest form of jamming the band has ever displayed live.
1. The Flatbed Jam
Perched upon the back of a flatbed, the band rode through the Plattsburgh Airforce Base during their Clifford Ball festival. With only the most essential pieces of equipment on board, the band entered into a simplistic, minimalist jam that features no identifiable lead instrument. The bands “stage” setup is reminiscent of their very early years. With Page on a Fender Rhodes only, and Trey using only his tube screamers, it is a rare treat. With all of the band’s “safety mechanisms” (as Trey likes to call them) stripped away the jam is able to reach musical peaks that could not have occurred otherwise.
Each band member creates a greater part of the whole by contributing a small pattern to the jam. Beginning as a soft outside jumble, the jam transforms slowly. Traveling through numerous sections of harmonic interplay, it constantly leaves a question unanswered. Bordering on eeriness at times, the jam delves into the dark before finally returning to a midpoint somewhere between light and dark. The jam sits in this state of limbo, building tension. The tension continues to grow as the song progresses, building up to a climactic release. Finally, once the band arrives at this point of melodic release, the soaring melodies travel through the night air and the band rides off into the night…
The flatbed jam was released this year with the Clifford Ball DVD package, for those of you who have not seen it. I highly recommend it. Here is a clip of the flatbed jam with some words from Trey.
2. The Ring of Fire Set
The Ring of Fire Set occurred at Lemonwheel in the summer of ’98. Summer ’98 ads said, “in addition to their other amazing exploits, will exhibit themselves in a TEMPLE OF FIRE!”, which was finally revealed at the festival. After finishing “Tweezer Reprise”, Trey went on to explain the rundown for what was going to go down for the rest of the night, and the concept behind the temple of fire.
The crowd took part in some candle dipping which then became the lights for the stage, there was no lightshow. The concept according to Trey was that the fans light up the band with energy, and so the symbolic flame from the candles that the fans had made was a representation of that. Before the candles and torches were brought out to surround the stage and crowd, Trey said the following:
“Phish will now perform in a ring of fire, for those of you who have been wondering what that was all about. This is what it is. We’re going to create a Ring of Fire starting with your candles and going out with tiki torches so that we’ll be encircled in fire. Our music that we’ll be playing is really intended to be almostt kind of in the Brian Eno philosophy of ambient music. I’ve always kind of had this dream of being part of the turning off the lights and having the glowsticks going. There’s a very cool feeling when we’re playing up here and it’s dark and you feel like people are just wandering around taking in the scenery and you’re kind of creating a different kind of music than you know, we get up here and make the big bang out of things. So, you know what I’m talking about.”
The ambient jam that followed is one of the finest pieces of Phish music I can think of. Featuring a fully equal-part jam that pours with melodic improvisation. Just under an hour in length, this jam is a set of Phish showing off what they do best. This is what every fan craves and dreams of.
The set itself begins in a simplistic, minimalistic style, similar to the flatbed jam. However, the direction and peaks that this set reaches are unmatchable. This jam features Phish in their comfort zone, the stage, and with all of their tools. The music we hear sounds like Phish rather than just pure ambiance. Leading through peaks and valleys, no individual member of the band carries the jam, each member plays an equal role in contributing. The result is one of the finest hours of Phish. Ever. For your listening pleasure, the entire ambient set is available for stream and download below (Listen at 9:00 for one of Trey’s nicest melodies ever, and at 34:45 for a great natural funk).
3. The Tower Jam
At the IT festival in 2003, Phish snuck out to the old air traffic control tower under the cover of the night. With lights controlled by Chris Kuroda, and synchronized dancers suspended from the tower, the band launched into a secret late night set. Atop the tower, the band started off with an alien-like ambient jam full of layered effects and siren like sounds alerting the campgrounds of something Phishy.
This jam is perhaps the best thing that came out of the band during the ’03-04 period. Going back to their roots of pure improv, and fueled with the outside factors that were effecting the band at the time, this jam is heavy and dark. Exploring all realms of outside music before crashing back, at some point during the Tower Jam, liftoff is definitely achieved. Similar to the Ring of Fire Set, this jam is an hour long, and is a fully equal part jam. The major difference between the two is the increased use of effects in the Tower Jam, thus making for a far more outer-worldly experience. In terms of the atmosphere the Tower Jam was quite a spectacle with incredible lighting and dancers synchronized with the music and lights. The tower jam was released with the IT Festival dvd, and can be downloaded at livephish.com. I have posted part of the Tower Jam from youtube below.
Last month, each and every one of us sat at our computers constantly checking Phish’s unfolding Save the Date animations. As States were wiped off the map, and sometimes replaced, we all found ourselves listening to the same eerie ambient jam. The odd ambient loops, overlapped with Page’s creepy piano made for the perfect backdrop. As we sat there attempting to discern the pattern, or find lost states, our attention was drawn away from this absolute gem of music we were hearing.
The jam, which is from the Wolfman’s on Halloween ’98, is the perfect example of the musical depths that Phish can take us to. Given the right setting, and the proper amount of energy, the band can often reach musical plateaus that seem other-worldly. This jam is a perfect example. Coming from the most unlikely of songs, the band slowly delves into pure ambiance. At 21:20 you will hear the exact clip played on Phish’s website. The improvised section starts off fairly tame yet very well played, leading into a slow groove. Mike demonstrates some stellar playing (7:35) holding the jam together tightly. While Mike is exploring the neck of his bass, Jon softly provides a backbeat while Page and Trey begin to layer effects. Slowly the jam becomes more and more ambient and spacey, contrasted by Jon’s standard drum pattern. Trey slides into some extremely melodic lead playing before slipping back into the ambiance. The jam becomes reminiscent of the flatbed jam with a simplistic equal part focus. As the ambiance grows, the psychedelia follows with layered loops from Page. Trey begins to delve into the dark, leading the jam into the abyss. Finally arriving at the climax, the “save the date jam”, the band perfectly fills the space with the culmination of the loops and effects that have been layering.
The jam reaches a point that simply cannot happen at any time or at any show. The music must be explored extensively, and after a certain point, new levels of communication and improvisation take place. Once the band has reached a point such as this, their every note suits the jam as though it were irreplaceable. It is though the music was meant to happen this particular way, and as it unfolds the listener feels as much a part of the experience as do the performers. There is nothing like it. Listening to this Wolfman’s jam that the band clearly chose for a reason, exemplifies their ability to improvise in a simplistic, subtle way. Within the structure of the jam each individual member is heard contributing to create the ideal sound. The band reaches points rarely seen, and offers us a glimpse of hope that someday, something like this may happen again.
While Phish continues sweeping the nation, each fan has the same thing on the back of their mind. HALLOWEEN. As much as Phish is progressing and evolving (see Phish 3.5), the thought of where they will be in October is something we are all wondering. Not only this, but the thought of the band hosting their own festival on Halloween is particularly exciting. The surroundings will be in place to set the stage for the band to reach all new heights. The possibilities are endless. This Wolfman’s that the band has chosen for their site, ever so instrumentally, is a look at what this quartet can do when the proper elements are in place.
Listen below to this Wolfman’s Brother from October 31st, 1998 when Phish covered the Velvet Underground’s “Loaded”. Make sure to to listen at 21:20 for the “Save the Date Jam”! Enjoy this gem.
To celebrate Phish’s return to Redrocks, lets look back at 10 of their best jams over time. This is a list of jams, in no particular order, that any Phish fan should listen to. It is not the “best 10 phish jams”, simply 10 jams that you should hear.
1. You Enjoy Myself (1995-10-31) – Since we’ve been talking about Halloween so much, I decided to throw in one of my favorite YEMs that just happens to take place on Halloween. After tearing apart The Who’s “Quadrophenia”, the band launched into this lengthy version of their famous jam vehicle. While the longest jams do not always prove to be the best, this long jam should be considered among them. Clocking in at just over 40 minutes, this epic version of YEM is a must listen for all. Listen at around 19:00 when Mike takes a dive into a muddy bass line that Page interlaces with his looped synths. Trey gets in there making for a heavy delay-loop jam, meanwhile Mike and Jon hold the funky rhythm underneath. Around 21:00, the jam slows right down leading into a wild spacey psychedelic adventure.
2. Run Like an Antelope (1998-11-27) – One of the best Antelopes ever. I doubt there is any discrepancy on that. This jam is simply incredible. Mike slaughters the bass line in this version, and Trey’s tone is incredible in this show. Trey if you are reading this, bring back your old tone. Very nice syncopated jam around 4:00 leading into a ripping solo at 9:00. Listen to this fiery version of Antelope.
3. Halley’s Comet (1997-11-22) – This epic Halley’s from the mothership starts the second set of the show, where the band arrives onstage to find the crowd chanting the words to Destiny Unbound. Trey responds by telling the crowd it sounds like a “death chant”, because he can’t hear, and asks if it is time for the ritual sacrifice. The band jams hard in this funk-laden Halley’s, very ’97-esque. This jam shows off some nice Page loops and killer lead work by Trey. Listen to Trey’s solo around 20:00, absolutely amazing. Over a dark layer, Trey soars above in a modal exploration that leaves the normal confines of a Halley’s. Layered with effects, the band sends the song back to the galaxy in which it came.
4. Down With Disease (1997-12-11) – A classic Phish jam, exhibiting each member’s respective talents. The jam weaves in and out of wildness, into a soft dark spacey section around 11:15, which is something not often heard in a Disease. The jam continues this soft groove throughout the rest of the song, a very interesting version. The entire fall ’97 tour is incredible, and this is just one of many gems from that period. This Disease is a standout version. This particular version truly shows off Jon’s impeccable timing. It really sounds like there’s a drum machine going (16:00).
5. Reba (1995-05-16) – One of my favorite versions of one of my favorite songs. Some amazingly nice syncopated work by Trey in this rendition. The band holds tight taking this Reba in new spacier directions than normally seen (8:15). Amazing work by Page to completely alter the dynamic of the jam. Trey’s lead work around 11:00 is simply incredible. The jam builds up from a soft spacey psychedelic groove to a full out rocker. An excellent Reba.
6. Ghost (1997-11-17) – Phish in the essence of their “cow-funk” era. the jam is very funky, filled with smooth synth runs by Page, loops, and very heavy bass by Mike. Trey glides atop the rhythm, layering effects, in one of the best Ghosts ever. There is no particular highlight of the song, the entire song is mind blowing. Many consider this show to be one of the best shows, and this jam is certainly a highlight. Another gem from the fall of ’97.
7. Bathtub Gin (1993-08-13) – This version of gin is tight from the start within the context of a very loose song. The band moves into a vocal jam early (4:00) showing the exploratory nature of the band at this point in time. ’93 marks one of the most experimental years, with some very outside playing. This gin is no exception.
8. Tweezer>Lifeboy (1994-06-18) – ’94 is probably the best year for Tweezer. Feeding on the now legendary version from the Bomb Factory in Dallas, the band launched into this version mid-second set in Chicago. This is one of my favorite versions (as are many of these choices clearly), exhibiting some amazing guitar work by Trey who launches into a melody around 4:45 that nears upon divinity. He carries the melody through into a ripping solo, which then spaces out and segues into Lifeboy. The transitions in ’94 sound very natural, and this is great example.
9. Mind Left Body Jam>David Bowie (1994-06-18) – From the same show as the Tweezer above, this is my favorite Bowie ever. At 4:45 Trey locks into a melody, which carries the jam to an entirely new level. This jam is incredibly melodic, with great playing all around. At 6:45 the song picks up heading into a heavy rocking exploratory jam. Mike’s fast bass work is absolutely wild. One of my favorite jams, from an outstanding, highly underrated show. Trey talks about this Bowie in this interview. He says that at the beginning of the song, when they play the first note signalling for the high-hat intro, they spontaneously entered what became the “Mind Left Body Jam” (featuring an early introduction of the start of “Frankie Says”). This is an example of how Phish jams have no boundaries, any part of any song can become a jam.
10. Twist (1998-04-02) – After spending time in the studio writing new material, Phish decided to take their new songs on the road in a series of four legendary shows. The Island Tour took place over four nights in Uniondale, NY and Providence, RI. If you haven’t heard all four of these shows, I highly recommend you do so immediately. The entire four night run is magical. This Twist is a perfect example. Completely leaving the confines of the song, the jam enters into places that are unimaginable. The jam is heavy type II, and definitely my favorite Twist of all time. One of my favorite parts in any Phish jam ever is at 6:30. Jon leads the jam as he speeds up the tempo, leading it into all new places. This jam is a journey, and anyone who embarks on the ride is sure to realize how great this jam really is. I can’t say enough about this one. Even though it is last, it could be the best jam on this entire list. Simply put, this is one of Phish’s finest jams ever and it is rarely mentioned among them.
If you have a favorite Phish jam post it in the comments section below.
Many fans of jam music are intrigued by the improvisational techniques used by the bands they listen to. Those without a musical background may or may not have heard of the musical modes, however, simply put a mode is a scale. Most people have heard someone voice the syllables “Doh, re, mi, fa, sol, la, ti”, which is essentially the seven notes of the major scale. The major scale is simply a mode. Without going into too much detail, scales and modes are a particular selection of notes within a particular key or octave. Modes act as a guide, letting the musician know which notes to play, and which notes to avoid in order to attain their desired sound. The ancient Greeks believed that music had the ability to evoke moods and behaviors. The Greeks defined these moods into seven musical scales, known as echos. The Romans later adopted the system renaming it modus. It was felt that each mode evoked a different emotion. Major modes were said to evoke happy, lively moods, whereas minor modes communicated feelings of sadness or seriousness. Plato recommended that soldiers going to battle avoid listening to music in certain modes as it would interfere with their bloodlust. Similarly, Plato and Artistotle both felt that a persons affinity toward a particular musical mode was an insight into that person’s character. Modal jamming is largely felt to have originated with the release of Miles Davis’ “Kind of Blue.” This album features Miles Davis and John Coltrane using the modes as a framework for their jams. Modal jams typically involve less changes in key, allowing the musician to solo more fluidly. John Coltrane (who plays sax on the album) would go on to explore modal jamming to an all new level and is considered one of the great modal interpreters. For an example of this early modal jamming, check out this clip of Miles Davis’ So What, which is also covered by Jerry Garcia and David Grisman on their album “So What”: Let’s now take a look at each of the seven modes, how they are used in jam music, and what types of moods they evoke. Without any further ado, I present to you: The Musical Modes 1. Ionian – The Ionian mode is the major scale. It evokes bright, happy feelings. It should also sound more familiar than some of the other modes. Here are two examples of how the Ionian mode can be used in a jam. Fittingly the “you can feel good about Hood” jam is in Ionian. In these examples you can see how Trey and Duane both use the same scale in different ways. 2. Dorian – The Dorian mode is a minor mode that evokes melancholy, yet soulful moods. The final note of the scale does not resolve itself, leaving one feel as though there are questions left answered. Santana is an avid user of the Dorian mode. Here are two examples of the Dorian mode with Trey and Dicky (many people believe this part of the solo from the ’71 Filmore show is Duane. It is not. I have watched the video, Duane comes in later. Dicky is very modal in his playing): 3. Phrygian – The Phrygian mode has a very dark Spanish/middle eastern sound. It is not commonly used in jam music, and it offers a strong contrast to the rest of the modes. It is also used frequently in metal. I won’t post it, but if you’re interested check out Yngwie Malmsteen’s Heavy E Phrygian. A more suitable example is Jefferson Airplane’s White Rabbit. 4. Lydian – The Lydian mode is another bright and happy mode, but in a very different way than the Ionian mode. Zappa was known for using it in his solos and Dicky Betts uses it very frequently. It has somewhat of a jazzy, unexpected feel to it, and so it works well in jam music. Here is an example of one of my favorite solos using the Lydian mode. It almost sounds as though Trey’s notes are soaring through the speakers: 5. Mixolydian – Jerry Garcia’s favorite mode. It is commonly used in blues and rock, and has a bright feel with a dark side. It is an interesting sounding mode, and is often used in guitar solos. Here are two examples, one of Jerry, the other of Clapton. 6. Aeolian – similar to the Ionian scale, the Aeolian mode is a natural minor scale. Thus, it conveys feelings of sorrow, regret and despair. It has a very dark sound to it, and is often used in Rock. Listen to this example by Jimmy Page: 7. Locrian – The Locrian mode sounds very odd, and is not frequently used in jam music. If it is, I can’t think of an example. The Locrian mode sounds dissonant, and spacey, almost wrong. The previous six modes are used most often in jam music. Hopefully this has shed some light on how modes are used in jamming, and why they are so important. As you can see from the examples above, the modes are a strong tool and can be used to control the mood of the jam. The following is a video of Suzy Greenberg from 10-21-95 at Pershing Auditorium in Lincoln, NE. Notice how Trey plays the solo from Stairway to Heaven using the Aeolian mode at 2:45. Enjoy, as a bonus I’ve also included the Harry Hood from the same show. Notice Trey teases Beat It in both songs (as was mentioned a few days ago in this article).
Many fans of jam music are intrigued by the improvisational techniques used by the bands they listen to. Those without a musical background may or may not have heard of the musical modes, however, simply put a mode is a scale. Most people have heard someone voice the syllables “Doh, re, mi, fa, sol, la, ti”, which is essentially the seven notes of the major scale. The major scale is simply a mode. Without going into too much detail, scales and modes are a particular selection of notes within a particular key or octave. Modes act as a guide, letting the musician know which notes to play, and which notes to avoid in order to attain their desired sound.
The ancient Greeks believed that music had the ability to evoke moods and behaviors. The Greeks defined these moods into seven musical scales, known as echos. The Romans later adopted the system renaming it modus. It was felt that each mode evoked a different emotion. Major modes were said to evoke happy, lively moods, whereas minor modes communicated feelings of sadness or seriousness. Plato recommended that soldiers going to battle avoid listening to music in certain modes as it would interfere with their bloodlust. Similarly, Plato and Artistotle both felt that a persons affinity toward a particular musical mode was an insight into that person’s character.
Modal jamming is largely felt to have originated with the release of Miles Davis’ “Kind of Blue.” This album features Miles Davis and John Coltrane using the modes as a framework for their jams. Modal jams typically involve less changes in key, allowing the musician to solo more fluidly. John Coltrane (who plays sax on the album) would go on to explore modal jamming to an all new level and is considered one of the great modal interpreters. For an example of this early modal jamming, check out this clip of Miles Davis’ So What, which is also covered by Jerry Garcia and David Grisman on their album “So What”:
Let’s now take a look at each of the seven modes, how they are used in jam music, and what types of moods they evoke. Without any further ado, I present to you:
The Musical Modes
1. Ionian – The Ionian mode is the major scale. It evokes bright, happy feelings. It should also sound more familiar than some of the other modes. Here are two examples of how the Ionian mode can be used in a jam. Fittingly the “you can feel good about Hood” jam is in Ionian. In these examples you can see how Trey and Duane both use the same scale in different ways.
2. Dorian – The Dorian mode is a minor mode that evokes melancholy, yet soulful moods. The final note of the scale does not resolve itself, leaving one feel as though there are questions left answered. Santana is an avid user of the Dorian mode. Here are two examples of the Dorian mode with Trey and Dicky (many people believe this part of the solo from the ’71 Filmore show is Duane. It is not. I have watched the video, Duane comes in later. Dicky is very modal in his playing):
3. Phrygian – The Phrygian mode has a very dark Spanish/middle eastern sound. It is not commonly used in jam music, and it offers a strong contrast to the rest of the modes. It is also used frequently in metal. I won’t post it, but if you’re interested check out Yngwie Malmsteen’s Heavy E Phrygian. A more suitable example is Jefferson Airplane’s White Rabbit.
4. Lydian – The Lydian mode is another bright and happy mode, but in a very different way than the Ionian mode. Zappa was known for using it in his solos and Dicky Betts uses it very frequently. It has somewhat of a jazzy, unexpected feel to it, and so it works well in jam music. Here is an example of one of my favorite solos using the Lydian mode. It almost sounds as though Trey’s notes are soaring through the speakers:
5. Mixolydian – Jerry Garcia’s favorite mode. It is commonly used in blues and rock, and has a bright feel with a dark side. It is an interesting sounding mode, and is often used in guitar solos. Here are two examples, one of Jerry, the other of Clapton.
6. Aeolian – similar to the Ionian scale, the Aeolian mode is a natural minor scale. Thus, it conveys feelings of sorrow, regret and despair. It has a very dark sound to it, and is often used in Rock. Listen to this example by Jimmy Page:
7. Locrian – The Locrian mode sounds very odd, and is not frequently used in jam music. If it is, I can’t think of an example. The Locrian mode sounds dissonant, and spacey, almost wrong. The previous six modes are used most often in jam music.
Hopefully this has shed some light on how modes are used in jamming, and why they are so important. As you can see from the examples above, the modes are a strong tool and can be used to control the mood of the jam. The following is a video of Suzy Greenberg from 10-21-95 at Pershing Auditorium in Lincoln, NE. Notice how Trey plays the solo from Stairway to Heaven using the Aeolian mode at 2:45. Enjoy, as a bonus I’ve also included the Harry Hood from the same show. Notice Trey teases Beat It in both songs (as was mentioned a few days ago in this article).