On October 29th, 2013, Phish dropped a legendary show in Reading, Pennsylvania. Being the band’s inaugural performance here, it was a historic night with an old-school vibe. Shenanigans ensued.

Arriving in Reading you could feel that something special was brewing. The town itself is tiny and entrenched in urban blight. Historically Phish loves these little towns in despair. Not to mention, any chance to avoid Philadelphia is probably a plus in their eyes. Perhaps most well known for carrying the nation’s “Poorest City” moniker in a ranking from the Census Bureau, Reading seemed like a good fit for the Phish from Vermont.

As showtime neared, the anticipation grew. This was a tiny, indoor, East-coast Phish show and everyone really wanted to let loose before Atlantic City. Even before the band played a single note, the walls were sweating. The venue truly feels like a high-school gymnasium. Upon first glancing the stage the intimate setting comes alive. There was only one way down to the floor. And generally while I dislike venues that enforce this crap, the place was small enough that it didn’t really matter. In fact, the dance space we had on the floor was dreamy. That people didn’t feel the need to sneak down to the floor emphasized the quality and size of this venue. The band sounded good from anywhere in the room, and in a space this size, Phish knows how to destroy.

Coming out swinging with a classic Page tune, Cars Trucks Buses really got things cooking. Just a few minutes into the sizzling instrumental tune and the band was firing on all cylinders. Stealing Time always feels right at the beginning of a first set and Ginseng Sullivan was a really nice treat. The first true highlight of the show was Wolfman’s Brother. Easily one of the best Wolfman’s in recent memory, we were treated to some refreshing, hard-thumping grooves. Trey’s guitar peddles were completely dialed in and he was throwing down some really addictive funk-delay-loops. Mike and Fish set a heavy rhythmic foundation. Next thing we knew the band was fully engulfed in a beautiful, wah-wah driven funk jam. Mike was thundering the bottom as Page tickled the top. Fish and Trey were communicating brilliantly. Snare and wah-wah snaps. Truly a masterful version of this song. As everyone looked around and realized how small this venue felt, Sparkle made us all smile and laugh. Walk Away was incredibly solid, yet things really were just getting started.

Divided Sky commands so much attention in a tiny, indoor venue. These days many newer fans have yet to travel out East to catch the band where they feel most at home. Divided Sky may seem most at home in an enormous, outdoor summer venue like Alpine Valley or The Gorge, but it’s hard to beat a sweaty, screaming indoor version of the tune that feels like it was plucked from 1994. Trey took more than a few deep breaths during the long pause. The crowd stared up at the rafters, imagined a sky and held up lighters. It seemed like forever, but the pause was beautiful, natural, and exactly what everyone needed at the time.

As the hugs continued and friends shared rumblings about how much fun the whole Phish organization was having, the band shifted into the sinister with an extremely heavy version of Split Open and Melt. In my opinion, with all variables considered, this is the best version of Split Open and Melt that the band has played since reuniting in 2009. This version of Melt deserves its own article. It is incredibly dark and twisted. The time signatures are complex. The jam gets so heavy that the band literally lifts off into another dimension, yet all four of them remain attached at the hip. Since the band reunited in 2009, every attempt at this song has led to the version played in Reading. Moving straight into Julius was not only understandable, it was a breath of fresh air. Shit was getting really, really dark. And while that’s exactly how we like our Melts, Trey knew we all needed to move on. Julius did his job and ushered us into another much needed setbreak.

Visibly excited the band hit the stage for the second set. A really nostalgic Pop Goes the Weasel tease from Mike gave way to one of the best versions of Down with Disease played since the band’s 2009 reunion (a common theme). A monstrous jam with multiple themes and peaks, this version stood out instantly. Touching upon some anthemic similarities with the Tahoe Tweezer, this Disease was captivating, dark and dirty, beautiful and filled with joy at the same time. Morphing into a thrashing rendition of Taste, the band was feeling good. Taste is a very complex arrangement. To see it emerge after a 21 minute Disease — placed as the second set pearl — demonstrates how confident the band was feeling.

As the crowd collectively caught its breath, Trey ominously started playing the opening notes to Twenty Years Later. An introspective Anastasio/Marshall tune, Twenty Years Later takes its listener on a gorgeous journey. Stories of peaks and valleys resonated through the venue. Some in the crowd grew nostalgic, others grew more intrigued. Then BOOM. In the middle of a fifteen minute version of Twenty Years Later Phish threw down a straight dopamine filled funk jam. A time-shifting Free-esque groove emerged and Trey threw down a supple lick that forced the whole room to move as one unit.

At this point, Phish had won. The band had all of us eating out of the palms of their hands. This is what we all wanted. Piper was up next and that red worm didn’t disappoint. Backwards Down the Number Line has grown into a song that I love. Another round of smiles and hugs gave way to yet another enormous surprise.

YEM. Out of all the shows, in all the states, and all of the venues. Here in Reading. Holy Shit! is what everyone collectively exhaled. We buckled our seat belts and tightened our grip. YEM, in such a tiny, indoor venue, at the end of a raging (and rare) Fall Tour, during Phish’s 30th anniversary year, at the end of a show of this caliber. It started clicking that they probably wouldn’t be playing a YEM in Atlantic City after dropping this one here in Reading. People hugged, people rejoiced, and then we all got down. The dance party was so intense, such controlled chaos. This was a prime Phish crowd. When Mike grabbed a hold of the jam towards the end, Trey nearly hit his face on the microphone as he completely lost himself to his bandmate’s earth-shattering talent. To see Trey dance like that just feels so, so good. Kuroda nearly stole the show with his work during the vocal jam and everyone laughed in hysteria as the band wrapped up a monumental version of YEM. Grind was a comical, tasteful closer to an other-worldly set.

With the crowd left reeling in outer space, Phish completely nailed the vibe with a Bouncin’ encore opener. That YEM vocal jam was a masterful piece of evil art and we all really needed to link back up in a similar groove.

And then. BOOM. Reba. A beautiful, delicate version that forced a few security guards to shed a couple of tears. This was something special. An epic, delightful treat at the end of a scorching show. We lost ourselves to the warm and fuzzy Reba jam and all was right in the world. The band then kicked into Good Times, Bad Times, and those of us with some fight left gave them a run for their money.

The crowd was left completely stunned and the band left the stage. I am honestly surprised that the place is still upright.

Photograph by my bud Jeremy Renda

Tuesday, October 29th, 2013 • The Santander Arena, Reading, Pennsylvania

Set 1: Cars Trucks Buses, Stealing Time From the Faulty Plan, Ginseng Sullivan, Wolfman’s Brother, Sparkle > Walk Away, Divided Sky, Split Open and Melt[1] > Julius
Set 2: Down with Disease[2] > Taste, Twenty Years Later > Piper > Backwards Down the Number Line, You Enjoy Myself, Grind
Encore: Bouncing Around the Room > Reba, Good Times Bad Times
[1] Unfinished.
[2] Unfinished; Pop Goes the Weasel tease from Mike during intro.
Teases:
· Pop Goes the Weasel tease in Down with Disease
· Dave’s Energy Guide tease in Taste
Setlist from Phish.net
Posted in Life, Opinions, Phish at November 30th, 2013. Comments Off.

Back in September, fresh on the heels of a raging summer tour and a third straight blow-out year in Colorado, I wrote an Open Letter to Trey. I explained some thoughts that had been percolating within the nucleus of my inner-most (and extended) Phish crew. In a nutshell, my letter was an attempt to reveal to Trey the significance that The Hiatus and The Breakup has played in all of our personal relationships with Phish.

Flash forward to Halloween 2013… A head-banging Fall Tour and a Thirtieth Anniversary Year filled with unbelievable music and positive energy. And what does the band do for us? They play us their own music. They trick and treat us all at once. They make an incredibly powerful statement; To us, nobody’s music is more important than our own.

Hey Phish, just a heads up… To many of us in the crowd, that statement echoes true, deep, all the way through to our soul.

What happened on Halloween 2013 in Atlantic City will go down in Phish history as one of the most special, emphatic nights in the band’s celebrated thirty years. Debuting more original material on this single night than any other night in the band’s career, each member was clearly demonstrating his own personal ambitions and desires for Phish. Some of those songs may never get played again.

The band has been delivering powerful messages all year. At this point, if you’re still complaining, if you’re still bitching, if you still think Phish isn’t as good as they once were… Stay at home. There are plenty of us who are ready to do this all over again.

In a huge way, it is absolutely clear that Phish is here to stay. I can confidently stop wondering if any individual show will be the last time I get to see these guys play together. That energy has been removed from the room.

The Phish I experienced in Atlantic City in 2013 reminded me of why I fell in love with this band. After a year filled with monumental jams and earth-shattering visceral moments of joy, the band blew my brains out this Fall Tour. They looked young, healthy and refreshed. They all have a spring in their step, they seem happy and genuinely stoked to be working on new material together. The debut of Wingsuit couldn’t have answered my questions any more clearly.

Personally, I’ll be following this energy to New York City come this December. There is no way I’m missing the upcoming New Year’s Run given what’s been happening so far this year. The band is on fire, they’ll be coming out of intimate tracking sessions in the studio and they are proud, confident and exalted.

See you in NYC.

Posted in Life, Opinions, Phish at November 6th, 2013. Comments Off.

I have been doing a lot of listening and analyzing lately. I’ve spent time combing over Phish’s recent summer tour. I’ve compared all of the previous Halloween shows, from The Beatles ’94 to Little Feat 2010. I’ve tried to pull out any teases or clues as to what they could possibly play this year in Atlantic City.

Even with all of the rumors swirling around — Graceland, Chocolate & Cheese, Hunky Dory — I still just have no idea what Phish is going to play.

Personally, I would really like to hear them play Band of Gypsys, the live album released by the band Jimi Hendrix put together after he disbanded the Jimi Hendrix Experience. I think it’s perfect for 2013 Phish. Hendrix himself called it a “jam” album. The entire LP is fused together by complex guitar and bass melodies that weave in and out of each other in psychedelic harmony. It’s raw, dark, mind-bending Rock & Roll at its finest. Incredible drumming by Buddy Miles and passionate bass playing by Billy Cox. Tons of raw energy. Seems like an album the whole band could really get behind.

The official LP track listing lends itself well to a Phish Halloween set. The songs are all of reasonable length and the deep compositional sections all give way to potentially incredible jam launching pads. With a total running time of 45 minutes and 48 seconds, Phish could break-out some really intense improvisational work throughout the entire album. This could be legendary.

Jimi Hendrix’s Band of Gypsys, Official LP Track Listing:

1. Who Knows 9:39
2. Machine Gun 12:41
3. Changes 5:14
4. Power to Love 6:58
5. Message to Love 5:26
6. We Gotta Live Together 5:50

Previous Phish Musical Costumes:

1994: The Beatles, The White Album
1995: The Who, Quadrophenia
1996: Talking Heads, Remain In Light
1998: The Velvet Underground, Loaded
1998: Pink Floyd, Dark Side of the Moon (unofficial)
2009: The Rolling Stones, Exile On Main St.
2010: Little Feat, Waiting For Columbus
2013: Jimi Hendrix, Band of Gypsys?

A guy can dream.

Posted in Opinions, Phish at September 22nd, 2013. Comments Off.

Quote sent to me a few days ago:

If you saw them back in the early and mid-90′s then you know that they are as good now as they have ever been. Older, more mature (unlike their fans, evidenced here), more soulful, and more intelligent. Only thing worse about 3.0 is the crowd. In that sense, I miss 1994.

Phish • Crowd Control lyrics (Anastasio/Marshall)

Listen now I’m talking
I’ve been here for weeks
Waiting in this growing crowd
Staring at my feet

The world around me’s turning
I’m just standing still
The time has come for changes
Do something or I will

I’m a feather in a storm
I’m a raindrop in the sea
If I don’t get enough of you
I’m a lighter shade of me

Sisters, brothers all around you
There’s a devil in the crowd
Meet his eye and it’s the end of time
If you’re praying don’t be loud

It’s crowded in the lowland
But the fools stay on the hill
You control us now
You have the reins
Do something or we will

So show us why we came here
Before we lay on the ground
Give it to us loud and clear
Make the devil turn around

Posted in Life, Phish at September 13th, 2013. Comments Off.

Dear Trey,

Nobody loves Phish more than you. This we know. The band you started, the places Phish has taken us — both in this physical world and beyond — are hard to describe in words. The countless pure moments we have all shared together. The past thirty years have been bigger than any one of us individually. Bigger than you, Fish, Mike or Page.

Phish is a universal energy and we are all a part of it. The way you four came together so many years ago. It’s not an accident or a coincidence. It was meant to be. And we — your phans, your army — are meant to dance for as long as you keep playing that beautiful, indescribable music.

As we all grow older and more mature, the role Phish has played and continues to play in our lives has become a lot more clear and well defined. Phish is a beautiful, pure being that we have all created together. A true release from society’s stifling ways. Phish is an other-worldly launching pad for like-minded people to come together. A place for us to celebrate in the oneness of the universe. A place where we can embrace in each other’s common beliefs. A place where our souls can unite. A place we call home.

A Phish show transcends time and place. A single moment is all it takes for us. One small glimpse into the metaphysical energy that is released when you four walk on stage is all we need. Nothing else brings us such supreme happiness, peace and delight. To some, a Phish show may still just be an excuse to party. But for the real phans — those of us that want to see this train thunder-on well into our golden years — Phish is a beautiful, clean, honest and pure living organism. In an otherwise complicated and dishonest world driven by politics, greed and material possessions, a Phish show is perhaps the pure antithesis of all of that garbage.

So, perhaps we can make an arrangement. Maybe a small little deal.

Twice we have all let each other down. Twice, all of us have let the scene balloon out of control. Certain people (and groups of people) prioritized other things ahead of the music and everyone lost control. The organism got sick and it had to take a break to get healthy. No single person is to blame. And after all these years, for anybody to still be putting the blame on you individually would be pure insanity. This is an attempt to alleviate you from the pressures that (twice now) have caused hairline fractures in Phish’s otherwise rock-solid foundation. This letter is an attempt to put the past behind us and unite old and new phans alike. For all of us to enjoy in this very moment, in these happy and healthy times. And for us all to absorb the positivity being released by the Phish organism in this very moment.

This letter is an attempt to capture that, and for us all to keep this going for as long as possible.

Every year that goes by, I find myself truly wondering if this year’s shows will be the last time I’ll get a chance to see you guys play and share in that magical divinity. It’s a tough mentality to wrestle with given the joy and peace that Phish provides in this warmongering world.

We want to build Phish into our lives, into our careers, into the lives of our children. We all want to grow old together. We cannot imagine a world without the purity that Phish brings us. It’s depressing to even think about.

All of us, in this moment, have a chance to set a course for the future together. Let’s learn from those before us and not make the same mistakes we have made in the past. Let’s learn from the two previous break-ups. Let’s mature together. For we, the phans, and you the band, are really just a reflection of each other. Let’s continue listening to each other. Let’s continue charging through uncharted territory together. Only this time, with a wisdom and appreciation for the living organism we are all responsible for.

Phish breaking up is a dark and lonely place. Let’s stay away from there. Let’s give each other a little nod and remember that we are all in this for the long haul.

You keep playing and we will keep showing up to dance.

-Aviv

Posted in Life, Opinions, Phish, Thank me later at September 12th, 2013. Comments Off.

Thirteen Shows Attended:

Chicago: July 19th
Chicago: July 20th
Chicago: July 21st
Gorge: July 26th
Gorge: July 27th (My 100th show)
Lake Tahoe: July 30th
Lake Tahoe: July 31st
San Francisco: August 2nd
San Francisco: August 3rd
San Francisco: August 4th
Colorado: August 30th
Colorado: August 31st
Colorado: September 1st
Read More…

Posted in Opinions, Phish at September 6th, 2013. Comments Off.

UPDATE: I was contacted again to clarify some facts about the Chicago Harpua. For what it’s worth I think the Phish community deserves to know, so I’m sharing the information I have. See updates below in the facts section.
Read More…

Posted in Life, Opinions, Phish at July 24th, 2013. Comments Off.

Perfect Menu came to fruition at Bend, Oregon’s Startup Weekend 2012. In just under three days we developed our entire application from the ground up. We put together a grassroots sales operation, and within our first 24 hours had one of the most influential and trend setting restaurants in Bend using our product. By the end of the event we had customer validation and commitments nationwide.

Posted in Uncategorized at November 25th, 2012. Comments Off.

I’ve been meaning to share these thoughts for a couple of days…

Song names are secondary. Phish has again reached a creative level that rivals any era from their past. The level at which they’re communicating on stage reduces song names to nothing more than a way to keep count. Whether they sing here-or-there for a few minutes, their voices are really just being used as a fifth instrument. This is Phish at its purest form. Remember this next time you find yourself judging a show based on songs played or not played.
Read More…

Posted in Life, Opinions, Phish at August 29th, 2012. Comments Off.

The way certain people complain about Phish continues to astonish me. In particular, you, Mr. Miner. A relatively authoritative voice in the “online” Phish community, you run a very well known, highly respected weblog — where among other things — you reviews Phish shows.
Read More…

Posted in Life, Opinions, Phish at August 21st, 2012. Comments Off.

Every single Phish show is chock-full of expectations. Some shows bring a lot more hype and excitement than others, yet more often than not, fans start buzzing with anticipation, hopes and expectations long before the band ever sets foot on stage. However, too much pre-show hype surrounding any single Phish show (or run of shows) often leads to a good amount of collective disappointment.
Read More…

Posted in Life, Opinions, Phish at August 8th, 2012. Comments Off.

Some music I recorded back (with various friends) in Montana between 2002 and 2004. I’ll keep adding more as it surfaces.

Posted in Insanity, Life, lifeisawesome at February 28th, 2012. Comments Off.

“Missed our record-breaking Kickstarter campaign? You can pre-order the Elevation Dock here. We expect to be shipping in late April with the rest of the Kickstarter orders.” -Casey

Posted in Insanity, lifeisawesome, SimplyStaggering, Think Brilliant, Ze-awwn-line-inter-toob at February 28th, 2012. Comments Off.

“It’s a big milestone, I think crowd-funding is just in its infancy.” -Casey Hopkins

Posted in Insanity, lifeisawesome, SimplyStaggering, Think Brilliant, Ze-awwn-line-inter-toob at February 9th, 2012. Comments Off.

“It’s been a hell of a run. Looking forward to a solid night of sleep after two months without it. Then it’s laser focus on getting these shipping.” -Casey Hopkins

Posted in Insanity, lifeisawesome, SimplyStaggering, Think Brilliant, Ze-awwn-line-inter-toob at February 8th, 2012. Comments Off.

Quite possibly the best commercial ever made. “Shot 100% on the Go Pro HD HERO. Watch as Kayaker Ben Brown masterfully rules an epic waterfall and enjoy one of GoPro’s summer commercials airing on national TV.”
Read More…

Posted in Insanity, lifeisawesome, Opinions, Thank me later, Ze-awwn-line-inter-toob at February 7th, 2012. Comments Off.