Monday, December 28, 2015

PHISH: 2015 By The Songs & Numbers

2015 at a Glance

Shows: 30 (28 with setlists)
Venues: 18
Song Count: 569
Distinct Songs: 181
Average Songs Per Show: 20.0
Number of "One Timers" played this year: 62
Song played the most in 2015: Fuego (10 times)
Honorable Mentions (9 times played): Twist Around, No Man's Land, Blaze On, 46 Days

Songs that have not yet been played in 2015
Fast Enough For You
The Oh Kee Pa Ceremony
Uncle Penn
Sweet Adeline
Dinner and a Movie
The Curtain
The Mango Song
Walk Away
Cars Trucks Buses
My Soul
Strange Design
Billy Breathes
If I Could
Destiny Unbound
My Mind's Got A Mind Of It's Own

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

10 Things We Now Know About 2015 Phish

It's been a while since I have had a chance to write for the Farmhouse Blog. In the meantime it seems like most blogs have slowed down - if not stopped completely - writing about Phish. YEMBlog still posts a question, Zac has great insight from @TheBabysMouth, and @HFPod hosts wonderful podcasts... But a lot of other folks have stepped away (cc: @MrMiner). The buzz from the "return" in 2009 has subsided and the band has found ways to divide their time outside of the "Core Phour" (see what I did there?). I miss having a topic to discuss, and hearing the opinions of others.  So here I am... ready to try to get the conversation going.

10 Things We Now Know About 2015 Phish

1. The Band Looks Healthy and Energized.
2. Trey has changed his rig - which has changed his tone.
3. Page has eaten a lot of sandwiches.
4. Mike Gordon's time with his solo band has given him new confidence.
5. Fishman is really trying to make this Touchpants thing happen.
6. They are still able to bring the Type 2 jams (see Shoreline).
7. They are still prone to an "off" night (see Austin).
8. They can still bring IT (see The Forum).
9. A lot of new song debuts, which in the past has been a good thing.
10. The band has been playing songs in a slower, more deliberate manner. The result is songs that sound rehearsed and well-played - not rushed. Some really subtle tones and textures. This is a great thing.


Wednesday, January 14, 2015


PHISH AMBIENT JAM GRADE for 7/20/99:   8 out of 10 

Highlights: 7/20/99 Ghost, Twist>Moma>What's The Use?, 2001>Misty Mountain Hop
Listen Here: Phan Reviews:

After a blistering hot weekend at Camp Oswego, the band came Up North to cool off and get back on point. 

Set 1: The band started with a tight set of fun fan favs. Saving the jams for the back half, Trey stayed in type 1 mode until they hit Ghost. Clearly the pent up energy and funk inside their soul needed to be released, and Ghost was the perfect platform. Trey laid down the loops and then laid back the gas pedal on the guitar, while Mike Gordon stepped up and took over. Thumping his way to a groove built around Fishman's driving beat, Mike was all over this jam early and often. Louder than Trey in the mix, Mike was able to carve and craft a punchy line that at times sounded like Crosseyed and Painless and at other times was just straight funk. Mike's tone is gorgeous. Full and punchy without a treble edge. Round but not flat. This was Mike's house. Mike never let's go and finally Page realizes this is the new normal. Page starts flicking and stabbing notes and chords over top of Mike's unstoppable groove. Trey builds some feedback swells reminiscent of the intro to 2001, but Mike ain't buying it. He wants this Ghost to go the distance. He squashes Trey like a bug on his windshield and sets up the next part of the jam while Page acquiesces with some wobbly chords held out longform-style using the wah pedal. That's when Trey flips the switch. Fuck this. I want in. He cranks both tube screamers, dials up the Leslie amp, and unleashes notes in a fit of fury unheard of up to this point in the show. He goes machine gun Trey. Aiming right at Mike. Mike responds by thumping harder...but this can only last so long. Exhausted, both men fall back on Fishman who swings it back into the original Ghost beat and then end the song on a whimper. Clearly Trey was fired up as he tries to back into the Ghost riff while starting Wilson, but quickly slides down to the solitary ba-Bump, ba-bump notes and then off they go.

Set 2: They don't make 6 song sets like this any more. Twist is always a good sign. This Twist goes chilled out Santana style early, and drops into ambient goodness late. Trey works in some oddly shaped loops and feedback swells as the band drifts into the ether (for a short time). They return to the main theme of Twist and move right along into a funky Moma Dance. The band is listening. Having fun. Loose but focused. This Moma comes to it's traditional close as Trey gets "What's The Use?" dialed up. Another great version of this Siket Disc tune, during the only tour full of these ambient adventures. This take is slow and methodical, gorgeous and encompassing. Patient. Otherworldly. This is a prime example of a band at it's most powerful. Filling a summer shed with textures and delicate notes while capturing the attention and imagination of everyone in attendance. You cannot tell if you are going to be abducted by aliens or infused with some super human power. A flash of light to your soul lasting almost 9 minutes.

Comparing this to today's 3.0 versions that last less than 5 minutes... literally, what is the use?

Summoning the voice of God to start the 2001.... Everyone in the band (aside from Fish) creates a golden glow in the key of C. Build, build, build until Fishman drops that signature beat and the crowd drops 4 on the floor. Ambient funk time. This is as good as any version in '99, albeit more concise (which plays to it's favor in this set). The tempo stays up and the intro doesn't last 10 minutes (ala Charlotte '99). Page drops some ethereal tones in the jam over Trey siren loops, while Mike summons the space funk gods with his tone for the jam (almost like LCD Soundsystem's 45:33 intro). Eventually cascading into a set closer version of Led Zeppelin's Misty Mountain Hop - which was the first and only performance of this Zep funk jam. The crowd goes insane. Literally singing every note with Trey and Page. The best band ever harnessing the energy of the greatest rock gods ever. Classic Phish.

Tuesday, 07/20/1999
Molson Amphitheatre, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Soundcheck: My Soul, How Long, Dream Weaver
Set 1: Chalk Dust Torture, Sample in a Jar, Cars Trucks Buses, The Sloth, Divided Sky, Waste > Ghost, Wilson > You Enjoy Myself
Set 2: Twist > The Moma Dance > What's the Use? > Train Song > Also Sprach Zarathustra > Misty Mountain Hop[1]
Encore: Guyute, Hello My Baby

Monday, November 4, 2013

Response to the "Across the Margin" Phish in Wingsuit Article

If you have not read this article, and the comments that follow the blog post, then I suggest you take a look
This is my response....
Phish has spent years and years building expectations about certain days, songs, events and shows. Halloween is one of those “monumental” shows. Whether or not you think it’s fair, the band clearly recognized the expectation existed or else they would not have defended their actions in the Playbill and subsequently apologized to their fans over the next 2 nights. This knowledge – and clear foresight as evidenced by the Playbill – suggests that the band fully recognized this was deceit. Obviously not with malice, but organized, coordinated deceit. 
Every fan has a right to celebrate this ruse, just as they have a right to feel like someone they love has taken advantage of a situation....a historical situation. As with all bell curves, many of us will fall to either end of the spectrum with a majority somewhere near the middle. You cannot fault someone for being disappointed, but you should also not feel compelled to defend the band. This was not a case in which the band “never announced a cover album” and just coincidentally played an unreleased album. They methodically went about planning this event, knowing how it would be received across the spectrum.
My personal opinion – this was more of a New Years Eve "gag second set" and should have been saved for that night….after all, NYE is just 4 shows away.

~ @TimberCarini ~

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

In Honor of the MSG Announcement: CHEESECAKE! 1999 Phish NYE Video from Big Cypress

In 1999 Phish played a swamp in Florida as the biggest concert celebration of the New Millennium in all of North America (just barely beating out Celine Dion). Big Cypress NYE has gone on to be considered Phish's most daring and musically comprehensive festival set in history. Raging long jams and creating sonic landscapes for hours upon hours....until the sun rise over the gator infested ditches of South Florida. However, this historic night started with an innocuous segment on ABC news for their nightly coverage of Y2K. Most people watched at home with their tin foil hats, fearful of the machines taking over at the stroke of midnight. We all sat in that Florida National Park and screamed "CHEESECAKE!" at the top of our lungs as the band opted for the dulcet tones of Heavy Things. Here's yer sign....

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Show #13: Oswego County Airport Volney, NY

PHISH AMBIENT JAM GRADE 7/17:   7 out of 10 

Highlights: 7/17 Tweezer > Have Mercy > Taste, DWD
Listen Here: Phan Reviews:

Oswego is the platform upon which Phish builds and connects its jams - past, present and future. Inviting all of the ingredients which have fans flocking into one fire-born cauldron of magic. Clearly the Architect had set out to construct a concert experience that brought Phish's influences together to appease a little bit inside everyone. Blues, Reggae, Bluegrass, Funk, Whimsy, Ambient, Rock and everything in between. 

The ambient flourishes are ever present in these shows. By now it has become "Phish's style." Many, many Phans think that it is Phish being sloppy but that is just not the case. Phish is playing in a looser style than ever before due to the tremendous impact of 1997 and 1998 on their cache within the record industry and the perceived power that Trey had over the band. They were doing less controlled practices and trying to create music more organically. More experimentally. The Siket Disc was "their sound" at the time. They worked by not working. Sonic landscapes were what they painted within almost every show, and rarely did it matter what set it was or what song it was. This was the Phish "Wall of Sound" ...not by stacking amps, but by creating a symphony of loops and feedback. They are still very precise in most of their songs, and not as drug addled as many claimed they were at the time. Sure, they partied... we all partied at these shows. Before. During. After. However, there is a clear distinction between Phish in 1999 and Phish in 2003.  
 ~ ~ ~ ~
*Reminder - my reviews are primarily based upon exploring ambient jams. I will often skip over great rock, funk or other types of jams in my reviews as they are not necessary for this blog series. The reviews linked above will paint a bigger picture if you are truly interested in learning about the complete shows of 1999.

Set 1: In what seems like a clear blueprint of the future jams of 2000, Phish lays down a Tweezer jam that is altogether smooth, spacey, jagged, peaked, subtle and ambient in more ways than one. Mike Gordon carries this jam on his back - connecting Trey to the rest of the band as Big Red starts to drift. However, it is this drifting that is so reminiscent of the future jams of 2000. This is one of those jams and segues that draws me to the ambient jams of 1999. Space is king. Space is relative. Space is the jam.

The segue to Have Mercy is perfect - with ambient swirls, a funk groove and reggae inflections. Twas the necessary release to the tempest of that Tweezer's futuristic ambient space funk. This is the BEST version of Have Mercy that I have ever heard Phish play. They truly make it their own - with a transition mid song that is so incredibly patient and beautiful - going from tease to full version almost on a whim. Have Mercy also goes out in true 1999 form and atmospherically twirls its way into a great Taste.
 Set 2: The ever present second set Down with Disease gets this show on the road following a historic Son Seals sit-in to open the set. This jam starts as most DWD jams begin - with a tour de force guitar solo from Trey. Attempting to show Mr. Seals how a modern bluesman gets dirty, Anastasio builds a monument to cock rock with a lesly-tinged feedback bonanza. The reverse-reverb effect has Trey really punching the solo through the garage-band-esque backdrop set by the other three as they try to keep up with Red's fire. Around 11 minutes into the song you start to wonder if Trey is going to give up some space to let the band explore, or if he plans to set the record of most trill notes in a solo. The release finally happens after 13 and a half mins, which is when Trey goes for the reverse delay pedal on top of the reverse reverb. This is the sound of a black hole eating its way through the universe. Page provides the space. Gordon seems a bit lost in space. Fishman is the passing stars and planets and comets and meteors. The ensuing ambient jam gets very cacophonous. Dark Star Trey finally fades into oblivion. The band locks up a dirty funk rhythm over the drone of the black hole loop from Trey. Page decides the groove is not enough without weird alien voices or sounds and thus provides the sound effect of tiny space mice crawling through the cascading space funk. Slowly Trey brings back the DWD arena rock chords and finished the song on the main riff. Kirk out.

Link Saturday, 07/17/1999
Oswego County Airport, Volney, NY

Soundcheck: Mr. Sausage, Beauty of My Dreams, Carini (slower)
Set 1: Tube > Boogie On Reggae Woman, Birds of a Feather, Guelah Papyrus, My Sweet One, Roggae, Tweezer -> Have Mercy -> Taste > Character Zero
Set 2: Funky Bitch[1], On My Knees[2], Jam > Down with Disease, Wolfman's Brother -> Sneakin' Sally Through the Alley[3] > Timber (Jerry), You Enjoy Myself
Encore: The Squirming Coil, Tweezer Reprise
[1] Son Seals on guitar and vocals.
[2] Phish debut; Son Seals on guitar and vocals.
[3] No vocal jam.
Notes: This was the first show of the Camp Oswego festival. Have Mercy was played for the first time since November 12, 1994 (335 shows). Son Seals sat in on guitar and vocals for his own composition, Funky Bitch, as well as the Phish debut of On My Knees. Afterwards, a brief blues jam was played as Son left the stage. Sneakin' Sally did not contain a vocal jam.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Shows #11 & #12: 7/15 & 7/16 1999 PNC Bank Arts Center Holmdel, NJ

PHISH AMBIENT JAM GRADE 7/15:  9 out of 10 
PHISH AMBIENT JAM GRADE 7/16: 4 out of 10
Listen Here: Phan Reviews: 


While so many shows we attend leave us feeling a variety of emotions, we often return to the shows that we enjoyed the most. I admit that I listen to (and defend) the shows that I attended much more than shows that have only heard through tapes and recordings. At 100+ shows, I feel like I have a pretty large sample size from which I can draw these emotional attachments for the use of reviews. There are amazing facts about memories and re-living moments that your whole body experienced that goes way beyond hearing music on playback. Reliving those experiences is part of what makes listening to Phish so incredibly powerful. When it comes to listening and reviewing shows for a blog, you get a chance to immerse yourself into shows you never attended or re-live shows you did attend. Shows that you loved, shows that were uninspiring, shows that were "perfect," and shows that carried the emotional baggage of your own personal journey.

This brings me to the next phenomenon: the PAPER TIGER. We are all guilty of judging a show by its setlist. The age of the internet allows communication to flow so rapidly that we get setlists in real time and judge a show as it is taking place. This was not necessarily the case for normal people in 1999. Setlists would pop up the next day or a few days later online (if you had internet outside of your college campus), but with limited information. Tapes/CDs would circulate weeks or months later. CD burning trees would allow you to send blank CDs off to be burned by phans in other states and then you would wait for the return burned copy in the mail. Shows were judged quickly by a setlist or word of mouth - or both. A show with a huge bustout or new cover or crazy theatrics was initially valued higher than a show with an amazing jam. Plus, jams were longer back then so it seemed like every show had a 20+ jam after a song. Paper Tigers are shows like 7/16 with the Born to Run encore. Huge bustout cover in NJ with a special guest - initially thought to be Bruce himself! That was the initial word on the street - by regular phans (not hypercritical uber fans) - that 7/16 was a crazy show.

I didn't attend these shows, so I had no clue, because I had done a whole bunch of the Southern and Midwest Runs of this Summer Tour. I got burned CD's in the mail a few weeks later and I listened to the 7/16 show and thought it was great. I ignored the 7/15 CDs because there was so much music to listen to, that I didn't make time to listen to 7/15.

When I finally heard 7/15 I was blown away. This was "the show" from that Holmdel run. Rivaling only Oswego in the East Coast run that summer as "the show." Obviously it's all up to interpretation, as everyone is looking for a different vibe and a different energy and a different experience. 
The highlights from 7/15 are era defining highlights, and the highlights from 7/16 are just that show's highlights. That is the difference.

Set 1: Punch You In the Eye > Ghost is just a killer 1-2 combo to start any show in any era. This Ghost is a bit faster and more energized than your usual Ghost and it gets the crowd going early. The spacey ambient textures that Trey was putting into the mix seemed to drive the jam in the more aggressive ambient jam style that had been seen in various other jams that tour.  Instead of a slower, mesmerizing "What's the Use?" style ambient jam the band was looking to tap into the variety of ambient jams available in their growing arsenal. As the band slowed down the jam at the end - as if an animal running in slow motion - you could tell they were locked and loaded as one propulsive unit. The remainder of the set was fun and high energy - no letdown - and it was capped off by an explosive YEM that allowed the tension and release of the whole first set to burst through everyone's synapses.

Set 2: Meatstick > Split Open and Melt -> Kung -> Jam
This is the only Meatstick that I put on regularly. This ambient Meatstick jam picks up right at the end of the shenanigans around the 11min mark and just drops into an ambient groove with hovering spaceship sounds by Page, staccato slaps by Gordon, and Fishman working to stay with the crowd claps as a time signature. Trey just sort of floats above with ethereal runs and harmonics from the Whammy. A really nice drone that builds on the Page keyboard weirdness and is the combination of ambient and funk that phans really love. Why have one without the other? Phish says you can have both... The jam simmers down and feedback builds and Fishman drops into 2001. Then Mike says, "No!" and drops the Split Open and Melt baseline within a few measures of Fishman's 2001 beat. Fish doesn't care, he's just going to make the 2001 beat work for SOAM. Trey thinks it's hilarious and cannot stop laughing, can't keep up with the lyrics, and is clearly distracted by Fishman refusing to change the beat. Eventually they get to the chorus and Fishman yields. They race through the composed section and just all want to get to the jammy weirdness as fast as possible. But even as the jam starts it feels rushed, then it stalls, they seem undecided and locked into a mediocre-at-best groove. Then about 7 mins into SOAM they flip a switch. Fuck this. They are not going to plod along in some non-directional jam. They are going for it. GOING FOR IT! Trey gets nasty and weird and the band follows. They rage for a couple minutes and find a deep ambient blanket to pull over everyone's eyes. Get inside. Everyone come closer. KUNG! FROM THE HILLS! FROM. THE. HILLS!!!! It gets super weird inside the blanket and the band finally releases the tension into a screaming jam over an ambient base of fuzz and feedback and uber weirdness. The JAM that comes out is an incredible example of the ambient jams of that era. Trey gets on the keyboard for some Peruvian pan flute for a brief interlude, but quickly recognizes that he needs to be on the guitar. The rage builds for a bit, but drops into a dark and creepy place akin to the 12/30/12 Carini. Although, not like the super low tones of the NYE12 Carini, but more of a horror movie creepy. Trey creates a "rusty swingset" loop over Fishman and Gordon's reprise of the SOAM coda. Then Page goes Thelonious Monk on the piano... it just breathes.... it is ambient, yet directional and defined. Trey adds some Wes Montgomery to Page's Monk. The ambient textures swirl. Gordon and Fishman keep it in the SOAM space. It's as weird and beautiful as it looks on paper.... the opposite of a Paper Tiger. Epic in the actual sense of the word.

Set 1: I cannot review this substandard boring first set of music. Not worth anyone's time.
Set 2:  Also Sprach Zarathustra > Mike's Song > I Am Hydrogen > Weekapaug Groove
The 2001 everyone was waiting for comes out to play. Great run of songs. They don't make Mike's Grooves like this anymore. Ambient and flowing right through the I Am Hydrogen into an excellent Weekapaug. It is great. Listen to these 4 songs from this set and enjoy. Maybe check out Tom Marshall pretending to be Bruce Springsteen for a laugh, but remember why you are here and it's not for Springsteen Karaoke.

Thursday, 07/15/1999
PNC Bank Arts Center, Holmdel, NJ

Soundcheck: Lady Madonna, Have Mercy, Mountains in the Mist -> Dirt -> Mountains in the Mist, Guyute (part), You Better Believe It Baby
Set 1: Punch You In the Eye > Ghost > Farmhouse, Horn > Poor Heart > Axilla > Theme From the Bottom, I Didn't Know, The Sloth, You Enjoy Myself
Set 2: Meatstick > Split Open and Melt[1] -> Kung -> Jam[2] > Bouncing Around the Room, Chalk Dust Torture
Encore: Brian and Robert, Frankenstein
[1] Began as 2001 and was unfinished.
[2] Shine (Collective Soul) and Split Open and Melt teases from Mike.

Friday, 07/16/1999
PNC Bank Arts Center, Holmdel, NJ

Set 1: Sample in a Jar, Beauty of My Dreams, Dogs Stole Things, Limb By Limb, Billy Breathes, Vultures, Back on the Train, Maze, Cavern
Set 2: Also Sprach Zarathustra > Mike's Song > I Am Hydrogen > Weekapaug Groove[1], Simple > Guyute, Loving Cup > Golgi Apparatus
Encore: Born to Run[2]