9/14 In Phish History (And An Official Hello)

First off, since I didn’t do so in my first post, I wanted to thank Raging Mob of Joggers for welcoming me to the OPT crew. This blog is one of the best Phish resources on the web, and I hope to do my part to keep it that way.

In addition to my email, which RMOJ posted, you should follow me on twitter, as I’ll be posting some links and news items that don’t make it on to the main OPT twitter feed.
Now to the main course. September 14th was a special day in late pre-hiatus Phish, featuring two of the most remarkable jams the band has ever played.
The first, the AC/DC Bag from 9/14/99

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, is, in my humble opinion, one of the top 10 exploratory jams in Phish history, and one of the finest examples of the composition-on-the-fly style of jamming that Phish pioneered and mastered in the 90s. Played to a crowd of about 5,000 in Boise, Idaho, the Bag starts off straightforwardly before moving on to a spacy section that culminates with some Whammy dips from Trey. Phish is so good, they made the whales show up in Boise. (Sorry, I had to.)

In the seventeenth minute, the band slips into one of the grimiest, nastiest funk grooves they ever played. Seriously, if you’re wearing pants when you listen to this, tuck them into your socks, because this jam will rip them off and ravish you before you even know what’s happening. Once the eargasm hits, Page’s pulsating keyboards provide a few minutes of post-coital musical cuddling before the band decides it’s ready for another round of copulation, this time in the form of Gumbo. For those who haven’t heard it, I won’t say anything else about Gumbo other than that it may be the best version of that song ever played. Watch it here.

But wait: there’s more. Next, they go into Disease. And, well, I’m running out of synonyms for sex. Watch the damn thing, and then we’ll talk:

I think that’s what Raging Mob of Joggers meant by Trey “attacking songs with his cocky stage swagger.” Wow. Anyway, the Frankenstein is abnormally awesome, and I haven’t even mentioned the Peaches en Regalia bustout that opened the set. So I’ll leave all that to you for homework. Get the show.
Although the second set of this show looks amazing on paper (32-minute Drowned > Crosseyed > Dog Faced Boy), it doesn’t match its counterpart from a year earlier. It’s worth hearing, for sure, but what precedes it is some of the mustest must-hear, certainly from 2000, and really from any year.

I’m talking about the Suzy Greenberg. Specifically, the Suzy reprise jam, forever christened as “Darien Jam #1” when this show and this jam received the LivePhish treatment they’d clearly earned. This is one of those jams where Trey just smells blood. And man, did he kill it. After grooving along for the first part of the jam, he starts soloing in earnest about six minutes in. For the following three minutes, he just builds, and builds…and builds…and builds. Starting at 8:30, freight-train Trey comes charging in, laying down ferocious rock riffs with incredible pace and relentless energy. The tension peaks at 9:20, as Trey starts on a theme that would probably take 3 or 4 mere human guitarists working together to pull off. It’s mind-blowing. As silly as it seems to say this about any one guitar line from a guitarist who’s logged as many improvisational hours as Red, I consider this the greatest lick Trey has ever played. Feel free to chime in with polite disagreements, full-on flames, or thinly-veiled threats in the comments.

The tension gets its well-deserved release before the band settles into a little groove over which Trey rambles about the “big tent” at Darien Lake, then closes out the magnificent set.

I’m not including any audio from this set because it was released officially, but suffice it to say that if you’re reading this, you need it in your collection. The Suzy jam alone would make it worth the $10, but the Reba and Carini are also terrific, and many people enjoy the second set more than I do.

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Before I go, I want to give a quick mention to a show that celebrated its 20th anniversary yesterday: 9/13/90. This concert, Phish’s last at the Wetlands (RIP) in New York, was also a show of many firsts: namely, Tube, The Asse Festival (which would become the instrumental section of Guelah Papyrus), Buried Alive, Magilla, and Stash; covers Minute by Minute, Paul and Silas, and Goin’ Down Slow; and Dude of Life originals Self, Dahlia, and Revolution’s Over (all with the Dude on vocals). This classic show can be downloaded here (c/o the spreadsheet).