Phish Song Rankings: As Of Chula Vista

The summer is coming to a close with the finish line at Dick’s within sight. There is still a stop at  Lockin’ too.  We are getting a Fall tour this year as well, so a busy Phish year for us all.  Personally, I’m sitting at 59 shows and would love to do something special for number 60, but unless I hit the lottery that won’t be happening.

Looking at the California swing of 2016, a pretty standard stretch of shows, with a bust out fest for the last night at the Bill Graham shows.  Bust outs are always fun, but looking at the number of times played, a rare song barely moves the needle in these parts.  I mean if you were there for Demand, I know how cool that can be, it’s one of only 16 times it has been played, good enough for a tie for 251st place.  Alumni Blues? 105 times played, 92nd place.

As far as milestones on the California swing,  Fluffhead was played for the 250th time and Yarmouth Road is at 25.  As far as Mike songs go, Yarmouth Road is quite new to the mix and obviously a favorite with the band it also seems popular with the fans.

Two other new songs that I’m seeing get quite a bit of fan love are No Men in No Man’s Land and Blaze On.  I’ve seen some fan accessories with both of those songs highlighted  which is always a pretty good indicator of popularity.  It goes to show, which is pretty rare for bands going on their fourth decade, that their fans embrace the new material as well as the old.

The Top Twenty remains unchanged, but in the next string of shows I’m betting there will be some major shakeups through the Top 200.  Oh, NB: I’ve pretty much decided to focus mostly quarterly milestones for songs, so 25, 50, 75 etc.  It just keeps things a little more orderly in my head.  Which needs all the order it can get.  Your Top 20 as of Chula Vista:

1   You Enjoy Myself – 576
2    Possum – 508
3    Mike’s Song – 488
4   Weekapaug Groove – 457
5   Bouncing Around the Room – 456
6    Golgi Apparatus – 453
7    Chalk Dust Torture – 445
8    David Bowie – 439
9    Cavern – 438
10   Run Like an Antelope – 436

 

11   Suzy Greenberg – 414
12   Divided Sky – 407
13   Stash – 405
14   Reba – 374
15   Runaway Jim – 372
16   Harry Hood – 360
17   Tweezer – 350
18   The Squirming Coil – 346
19   Foam – 341 (22%)
20   I Am Hydrogen – 335

I finally got my podcast working the way I’d like, so if you’d like to hear some US History presented in a lively, fun way, check it out! (warning! the first two episodes audio is not good, but by episode three, I got it!) Episode 34 is up! Get Your History On! Oh and you can get it on iTunes too!

 Get Your History On

Phish Song Rankings As Of The Gorge Summer 2016

Nothing like vacation to set me back a pace or two! I regret nothing.  Spent an absolutely lovely week with the family in steamy South Carolina and had a great time.  There are shows to catch up on though as Summer Tour has continued to roll along.  This post will take us through The Gorge shows and a followup is in the offing after the Bill Graham shows wrap up later this week.

Quite a few shows got lumped in here, starting with Portland through the aforementioned Gorge.  Of all the venues on this tour, The Gorge is a bucket list item.  Red Rocks is probably number 1 but every photo of The Gorge I’ve seen makes me want to go to there.  The vibe seems awesome, from the band to the fans as well.  My midwestern bias, or inferiority complex I suppose, just doesn’t see anything that special at our venues.  Alpine is strictly ok.  Pity the souls on the lawn, especially those that actually want good sound (though in the last twenty years its improved greatly.)  Northerly Island is meh and now that they have done Wrigley, I’ll be fine if they move on.  Deer Creek, or whatever they are calling it these days,  is a favorite, but a shed in a corn field doesn’t inspire much.

As far as the songs go on this recent stretch, some fun tidbits.  Weekapaug and Bouncing continue to battle for 4th place.  They will probably wind up in a tie like always when the dust settles.  Tweezer has reached the 350 plateau, which always makes me wonder about the close to 100 shows that didn’t have a reprise.  Maybe in another few years, I’ll start to seek those out.

Rocky Top bounced back up to the Top 200, but I can’t see that lasting for too long.  It just isn’t in the rotation much anymore.  A little farther down the list, Roggae fell out of the Top 125, a victim of the same circumstance.

I Am The Walrus has moved up a bit with its third play.  I can only hope it has improved since its tour debut in Chicago.  When a song moves out of the lowest reaches is always kind of neat to me, especially when it pushes the final slot down another notch.  Pretty soon the final slot will be 500th place.  One of these days I’ll have to see how many songs can claim that tie.  No matter what, there always seems to be more to explore with Phish.  Hopefully at The Gorge one day,🙂 Your Top Twenty:

As of Gorge Summer 2016

1   You Enjoy Myself – 575
2    Possum – 506
3    Mike’s Song – 487
4   Weekapaug Groove – 456
5   Bouncing Around the Room – 455
6    Golgi Apparatus – 452
7    Chalk Dust Torture – 443
8    David Bowie – 438
9    Cavern – 437
10   Run Like an Antelope – 434

11   Suzy Greenberg – 413
12   Divided Sky – 405
13   Stash – 404
14   Reba – 374
15   Runaway Jim – 372
16   Harry Hood – 359
17   Tweezer – 350 350 Times Played!
18   The Squirming Coil – 346
19   Foam – 341 (22%)
20   I Am Hydrogen – 335

I finally got my podcast working the way I’d like, so if you’d like to hear some US History presented in a lively, fun way, check it out! (warning! the first two episodes audio is not good, but by episode three, I got it!) Episode 32 is up! Get Your History On! Oh and you can get it on iTunes too!

 Get Your History On

Phish Song Rankings As Of SPAC Summer 2016

Oh dear. The amount of critique and downright anger over the SPAC shows is something else.  Not only that, but people are angry at the people who are angry and critical of the SPAC shows.  We have even moved at people being angry at the people who are directing their anger at the people are angry.

I’m not quite what to make of it, really.  I managed to catch a mixlr stream for a little bit of the final show and it was…ok.  Looking at the setlists for all three nights, meh. I won’t be going out of my way to find the shows.  I’d like to hear the second set Moma Dance, but after that I’ve got a lot of music to listen to before SPAC 2016 hits the queue.

And listen. If you had a great time at SPAC or the shows have changed your life? Great! No seriously, that’s great.  Fuck everybody else. Hell fuck the above two paragraphs.  Your show is not my show. Enjoy your show.

As far as the numbers go, a couple of interesting notes.  Most interesting to me anyway is that 555 knocked Steep, Swept Away and Frankie Says from the Top 200.  For a song first played in 2013 that is quite the meteoric rise, 30 plays is 88 shows, or 34% of the shows.  It shows something that I think is great about Phish, they are happy to throw in the bust outs, but new material gets a pretty fair shake too.

Light reached the 75 plays plateau at SPAC and Guelah Papyrus reached the lofty summit of 200 plays which keeps the song firmly in the Top 50 of songs Phish has played.  I know one person complained about the lack of big hitters/jamming songs at SPAC this time around.  But look at it this way: Phish went pretty far down into their overall catalog, including a lot of new material for these shows.  As they sort out what will make the greater rotation from this new crop, we’ll get to be along for the ride.  Who knows? Maybe Blaze On will stand the test of time.  Or perhaps it will go the way of Saw It Again, which each time it gets played I’ll think, “why don’t they play this more?”  Your Top 20 through SPAC:

1   You Enjoy Myself – 574
2    Possum – 506
3    Mike’s Song – 485
4   Weekapaug Groove – 454
4   Bouncing Around the Room – 454
6    Golgi Apparatus – 451
7    Chalk Dust Torture – 441
8    David Bowie – 438
9    Cavern – 436
10   Run Like an Antelope – 433

11   Suzy Greenberg – 413
12   Divided Sky – 405
13   Stash – 402
14   Reba – 374
15   Runaway Jim – 372
16   Harry Hood – 358
17   Tweezer – 348
18   The Squirming Coil – 346
19   Foam – 341 (22%)
20   I Am Hydrogen – 335

Featured Image courtesy of Andrea Nusinov @azn great stuff check it out!

I finally got my podcast working the way I’d like, so if you’d like to hear some US History presented in a lively, fun way, check it out! (warning! the first two episodes audio is not good, but by episode three, I got it!) Episode 32 is up! Get Your History On! Oh and you can get it on iTunes too!

 Get Your History On

Phish Song Rankings: As of The Mann 6/29/16

I know it’s hard to believe, but Summer Tour kind of snuck up on me.  I’m a bit late to the table as a result.  After running through the Mann shows to update the rankings, I’m feeling good and ready to keep pace with the various stops along the way.  As is always, things move in strange ways.  Though the top numbers don’t change much, there are always some fun tidbits and minutia and just neat things to look at down the roll of songs.

One of my favorite things about watching the songs ebb and flow in the playing rotation is to see songs that have been around a long time matching up with newer songs.  Daniel Saw the Stone reached the 20 times played mark on 6/22, first played in 1993.  While Steam hit that same plateau on 6/25, starting in 2011.

Even a newer song, 555, has reached the Top 200 and as you look around that neighborhood some songs like Swept Away and Steep have gone out of the rotation.  I Didn’t Know has reached an impressive milestone, 250 times played.  It’s weird that I feel like IDK is kind of a rare song, but in truth it’s been played in the heavier rotation for quite some time.  Finally, falling out of the Top 50 was Rocky Top, a song that seemed quite comfortable on the college campus circuit but now seems a little out of place.

Speaking of out of place, as I compare my list to that of Phish.net, I seem to be way off on some of my counts.  I’ll have to do a check against ZZYXX, Phish.net and me.  Even so, the numbers still keep the Top 25 in relatively the same order.  See you after SPAC with even more accuracy!

As of The Mann Summer 2016

1   You Enjoy Myself – 574
2    Possum – 505
3    Mike’s Song – 485
4   Weekapaug Groove – 454
5   Bouncing Around the Room – 453
6    Golgi Apparatus – 450
7    Chalk Dust Torture – 440
8    David Bowie – 437
9    Cavern – 436
10   Run Like an Antelope – 432
11   Suzy Greenberg – 413
12   Divided Sky – 404
13   Stash – 402
14   Reba – 374
15   Runaway Jim – 372
16   Harry Hood – 357
17   Tweezer – 348
18   The Squirming Coil – 345 (22%)
19   Foam – 341 (22%)
20   I Am Hydrogen – 335

I finally got my podcast working the way I’d like, so if you’d like to hear some US History presented in a lively, fun way, check it out! (warning! the first two episodes audio is not good, but by episode three, I got it!) Episode 32 is up! Get Your History On! Oh and you can get it on iTunes too!

 Get Your History On

The Phish 52: My Left Toe 7/21/99

Let’s see at this rate, I will complete my 52 Phish reviews in “52 weeks” around November, 2023.  I’m shooting for better than that.  Looking back over my daily list of things to do* the word JAM has appeared a great deal over the past 5 weeks, but I just couldn’t pull the trigger.  Mind, to paraphrase Jimmy Greenfield, consigliere of the Chicago Now blogging network, this is not an apology.  I’ve been busy and I’m probably trying to do too much.  White Sox blogging, podcasting, which is really turning into the first among equals of creative projects, looking for extra money, coaching baseball and well you know everyday life stuff.  Yeah, I’ve got a bit going on.  And to be honest, while I did commit to the 52, it isn’t like I’m going to lose my house if I don’t keep to it on a regular basis.  So, let’s recommit.  I have the long window of November 2023, a “short window” of beating George RR Maritn; the remaining 45 reviews before the Winds of Winter is published, and the insanely ambitious, not going to happen goal of one a week until I’m done.  Somewhere between all three of those seems about right.  I also don’t know why, but I really want to beat GRRM.

*Yes, I do a daily to do list, have for years.  Currently it is a two list affair, one side for the actual job, the other for my soul.

So let’s get started with a jam that I did witness, but to be honest almost completely forgot about.  However, when I went back to this show from Star Lake (no corporate naming for me, thanks) I couldn’t believe that this song wasn’t in my heavy rotation of jams, like ever.  That has since changed.  A good spacey, ambient jam is always good, regardless of era.  Let’s get to it, My Left Toe.

lefttoe

The song comes out of a pretty standard Simple, ultimately a nice Mike’s Groove* of Mikes ->Simple -> My Left Toe -> Caspian -> Weekapaug.  The first 4 minutes are ambient music at it’s best.  Trey is playing with tone and melody, Fish is just keeping a steady rhythm and Mike and Paige are barely in the mix.

*As I enter my 22nd year of listening and following Phish, I still get confused about what is and what isn’t Mike’s Groove.  Is it a set song? Is it the grouping of songs between Mike’s and Weekapaug? Would that be more of a suite than a groove? Maybe by year 30 I’ll have it figured out.

3:45~3:50 Trey starts to grind it out a little more, a darker tone has seeped into the sound.  There is a build up going on here, but it is taking its sweet old time.  A slow burner, that’s for sure.

7:15 the build, the tension slows way down.  Knowing what we know now, it almost sounds like Caspian will be starting soon.  Perhaps this change in tempo and tone was a signal of the type, “Hey! When we finally pull out of this, Caspian is where we are going.” Of course that is total conjecture on my part.

7:30 Things start to rebound and by 7:50 Trey is really punctuating matters with sustained notes and feedback.

8:31 Oh, there’s Page! 8:48 Page is finally coming through the haze and adding some great texture to the jam.

9:00 A much more melodic sound has emerged.  It’s not quite the total triumph that I’ve come to almost expect from Phish, but we are looking at the angels at this point, that’s for sure.  It has a very Man Who Stepped Into Yesterday feel to it.   I could just dance and sway to this kind of sound all day.

12:30 things start to lose shape a little and it becomes kind of a rock anthem, with Trey leading the way and eventually starts to trill like a guitar hero around the 13:40 mark.

~14:00 The true climax of the song has been reached and at 14:42 a distinctive downshift occurs, the end is in sight.  All throughout this song I can’t help but think how great it would be during a long run.  I tend to make an up tempo, jammy kind of playlist for long runs.  Usually 3 or 4 shorter songs then one jam from Phish or the Grateful Dead.  It keeps things exciting and meditative.

Anyway, 15:00 the essential groove of the song is back for a quick coda and it descends nicely toward Caspian.  I’ve always been a fan of Caspian, despite all the hate it has gotten over the years.  There is something about that opening that just nails me in the feels.  Also the nod to CS Lewis doesn’t hurt.  I like my bands to be literary.  See you next time on the Phish 52. (shooting for before two months!)

I finally got my podcast working the way I’d like, so if you’d like to hear some US History presented in a lively, fun way, check it out! (warning! the first two episodes audio is not good, but by episode three, I got it!) Episode 30 is up! Get Your History On! Oh and you can get it on iTunes too!

 Get Your History On

The Phish 52: 12/30/93 David Bowie

Oh dear.  I don’t like this new feature on the admin page here on WordPress.  It is a little calendar that shades the days that you posted.  Eek. I went 0 of February here at the Lazy blog.  Which puts me a bit behind on the 52 as well.  Jesus, how do people with a full-time job, family and other interests stay so consistent?  Just not my bag I suppose.  Even so, pressing on!

For this installment, I decided to go with a show that I did not attend and also an older show once again.  A pretty old show by my standards.  Basically I came to Phish in the fall of 1993, didn’t attend my first show until summer of 1994.  For the most part, I don’t really venture much further back than 1994 in my live recordings.  I know there is some great stuff back there, but it’s just not mine, you know what I mean.

So, I was working in a cafe and this guy brings Rift into the shop to listen to while we work.  It was such a great perk of working at an indie cafe, we could choose pretty much whatever we wanted to play.  Anyway, I’d never heard of Phish, but we were all pretty tolerant of each other’s music, so on it went.

I can’t say I was blown away, but I was definitely interested.  I particularly liked how the concept album and guitar style reminded me of Steve Hackett and Genesis.  The keyboards were a great touch too.  I was willing to check out more.

The same friend told me to really “get” Phish I needed to see them live, or at least listen to some live tapes.  I also started lurking on rec.music.phish and realized that the band allowed taping at shows, so getting a live tape was pretty easy.  I was still pretty internet-shy, so I went to a local head shop that spun tapes for free and asked for the show I saw some buzz about, 12/30/93.  No, it wasn’t the New Year’s Show, but that seemed like a big commitment.  So a two set show seemed right.  It started with David Bowie.  I wasn’t quite hooked yet, but I was on the line.

Bowie

I’m pretty sure that I hadn’t heard the Junta version of Bowie at this point, so everything was new.  As the intro played, I didn’t know what to expect, but after 1:33, the Bowie groove got started and I was immediately into it.

2:03 The lyrics kick in and I think with a song like Bowie and being new to Phish, things could break one of two ways.  The first way, our way, is to think, “this is weird. I like it.”  The second way, the way pretty much everyone I know in a professional/social way with the exception of fellow fans is, “David Bowie? This is stupid.” click.

I didn’t tune out and was awarded by the amazing composed section of the song that comes next. At 3:00 the spiraling down that then kicks back to the lyrical portion is still one of my favorite Phish composed bits.

After the second lyrical break (UB40? ok, 80s reference. I like these guys) The composition isn’t quite the same as last time and instead of coming back for more lyrics at 5:08 there is a great break in the song.

The song goes into a very subtle, mellow feel but at 5:20 a thirty second quote from a classic rock anthem, Dream On, gets tossed out.  It’s more than a tease, at least I would call it more than a tease.  Also as someone who by this point in my musical fandom was well versed in the classics, it made me feel intimately connected to the band. A shared musical history that we shared.  We were reading from the book, sharing the same experience.

At 5:53, they return the Bowie sound proper and by 6:33 they start to rev things up a bit.  It’s a great example of the tension and release that I think we all can appreciate.

7:09 The pace really gets going.  No one is particularly dominant at this point, a very strong group jam. It was a phenomena that I wasn’t quite used to at that point.

8:03 Trey starts to pull out in front a little more, making it a little more familiar to me.  The pace and speed of the playing isn’t quite as familiar to me though.  It seems to have a point, a destination.  Unlike the heavy metal of my youth, it isn’t speed for speed’s sake.  This guy Trey and the band have got more up their sleeves.

9:02 An explosion! The payoff.  I wouldn’t say Trey is shredding and eventually starts to play around with tone. A controlled style of chaos ensues.

10:37 The now familiar Bowie wind up starts. It isn’t exactly the same as the beginning of the song, but familiar enough to make one say, “oh yeah, we’re still in this space.” At 11:00 there is a final burst and then quick release back to “Dream On” also reminding us of the uniqueness of this song. We’re not going to hear another one like it. Because of that fact, and of course many others, I was happily being reeled in for the next 20+ years.

I finally got my podcast working the way I’d like, so if you’d like to hear some US History presented in a lively, fun way, check it out! (warning! the first two episodes audio is not good, but by episode three, I got it!) Episode 27 is up! Get Your History On! Oh and you can get it on iTunes too!

 Get Your History On

The Phish 52: Prince Caspian 8/20/2015

I’ve seen a lot of discussion of this being Tweezpian or some such mash up and I won’t disagree.  I do think, however, the Prince Caspian can also stand alone and vise-versa.  A couple of opening notes on this jam as well.  So far, I’ve only review stuff from the 1990s, so it feels good to get to something more recent.  In this case very recent!  It is, yet again, a jam that I was witness to.  Truth is, I don’t own a lot of stuff that I didn’t also attend, but I hope to branch out a bit more as I do this project. Speaking of this project, and one post for each week of the year…um yeah about that… Well, I’m giving it my best shot.  Even if it takes 70 actual weeks to get to 52, I’m doing 52 reviews.  Just read them once a week🙂 On to Caspian!

caspian

When Prince Caspian came out of Tweezer, I can honestly say I wasn’t expecting much.  We were just treated to a very good Tweezer and Caspian seemed to signal a coda to end the set, or at least a lead in to the final closer of the set. I remember when people would collectively groan when this song was played and some on the old rec.music.phish referred to it as Prince Poopy Pants.  While that wave of negativity has subsided (pretty much in general, really) I don’t think I’ve ever seen people react with great joy when Caspian was played.  It might be time to rethink that reaction.

2:30 The lyrics come to an end and it very much feels like they will be playing out to the end of the song, maybe another few minutes.  From about the 2:10 point, I urge you to listen to Page’s playing.  The fills and highlights he is throwing around in the early part of the song are just fantastic.  Trey is playing very well, quite spirited.

4:40 Something is going on. It still sounds like Caspian, but things are changing. At 5:10 Trey is really pushing things away from the Caspian structure and at 6:00 minutes, the last tethers of Caspian are gone.

6:35 After some very heavy playing by Trey, Mike starts to bring back the Tweezer riff. At this point, Page is on the synthesizer and Fish is playing a steady rock beat.

8:05 Things start to move away from the Tweezer riff and it starts to become its own jam.  Around 8:20, Mike comes to the fore. This segment shows off how the band moves around the music. Mike is dominating right now and Page is in a supporting role.  Even though the guitar is the traditional lead instrument, Trey does such a great job of adding to the sound, but not throwing things off.

8:55 Trey is playing around with some effects, getting some great echo sounds. It could start to get spacey, but instead Trey settles into a nice fuzzy groove at about 9:15.  This is were the dance party starts for me. A nice funky feel and about 10:24 Trey starts to solo, with great a great intro from Page.  After that, Fish takes over the breaks, almost mini solos, before the focus goes back on Trey.  At 11:08, Trey starts placing some echoes again, but the groove isn’t lost and they settle back in after a minute or so.

12:20 It sounds like they are getting ready to wrap things up.  If they did pack it in here, it still would be a memorable Caspian and with the Tweezer preceding it would be a classic jam, one of the best of 2015.  Of course it doesn’t end here.  Instead at 12:30 Trey punches it really high and starts to bring it.

13:50 It is the jam that is going to lead to the end, with Mike playing some think, chest thumping notes.  The end that they are working toward here is triumphant, no other word for it.  Everyone, band, crowd know that they have just nailed the last 30 or so minutes of music.  As they start to just pound away for the last minute and a half, it’s like they are fist pumping.  Honestly, I’m pretty sure that was what I was doing as the song came to a close.  It’s for moments like these that I keep going to see this band.  Everyone expects the big moments to come from Tweezer, but it’s in moments like this, in songs that don’t have a history, songs that, let’s be honest, are often seen as breaks or good times to go to the bathroom, that makes every show an adventure.  In the spirit of adventure, next week will finally be a review of a jam I didn’t attend.  Keep on jamming…