Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Episode 26: Guest Pick - Phish 12.28.11 MSG

Episode 26 is up! This week we were joined by guest Jake Sherman (@JakeSherman), and he chose a really fun show, 12.28.11, from the New Year’s Run of 2011, from the hallowed ground of Madison Square Garden. The setlist is at the bottom of the page, and the chapter markers are below.

Chapter 1    0:00-17:13           Conversation with Jake Sherman
Chapter 2    17:13-1:39:18      Set 1 Phish 12.28.11
Chapter 3    1:39:18-1:55:31   Set 1 Breakdown
Chapter 4    1:55:31-3:26:28   Set 2 Phish 12.28.11
Chapter 5    3:26:28-End         Set 2 Breakdown

Please review us on iTunes, and send comments and feedback to helpingfriendlypodcast at gmail dot com, and follow us on Twitter @hfpod. Also, Brad is on Twitter @brad_hfpod and RJ is at @rj_hfp.

Listener Notes—Episode 26: Guest Pick - Phish 12.28.11 MSG

To set the context for these notes, we’ve been reflecting back on the first 25 episodes of the podcast. Since we started, the most prominent theme, really, is how damn fantastic Phish is playing right now. 2013 IS another peak. As fans, we hope everyone understands and appreciates that. And, for better AND worse, the way we analyze the shows from 2009 to 2013 are all viewed within the context of 2013. So this 2011 show really offers a lot of glimpses of what’s to come, and that was really fun to revisit.

Now, this 12.28.11 show is very very good (and interesting) in its own right. As Jake points out, the collection of the first four songs is one of the highlights, which is unique. Part of that is a wonderfully groovy, rhythmic “Cities” jam that happens early in the first set. We heard a little bit of the Dick’s “Undermind” from 2012 in that jam. Everything builds on the past.

The second set’s “Carini” is really a fantastic preview of what we’ve come to know and love about that song this year (I think it’s our “MVP” of 2013). This version starts with Fishman yelling, the hard, psychedelic rock carrying us into a really nice, spacious, contemplative place. The jam segues into “Tweezer,” which is a fun but straightforward version with some nice unified jamming from the entire band. Trey is noodling, quietly, Page and Mike pick it up, then they all meld together. Funk lives.

And, as usual, “Harry Hood” is a show highlight for us. This song. Every time. Wally (@waxbanks) mentioned a few weeks ago that telling us “you can feel good about Hood” is almost too corny to be emotionally resonant (this was in contrast to “Slave”). But we feel good about it, always. This version has some incredibly emotive soloing from Trey toward the end, with Page providing a beautiful organ backdrop. This slides into an equally emotional “Bug.” Overrated? No.

Let’s all take a minute to appreciate how great this band is playing right now, and let’s also acknowledge everything that built up to it—and what’s yet to come. Hell yes.


Phish 12.28.11, Madison Square Garden, New York, NY

Set 1: Free, Glide > Possum, Cities, The Ballad of Curtis Loew, Stash, Contact > Sample in a Jar, Kill Devil Falls > Bathtub Gin

Set 2: Birds of a Feather, Carini > Tweezer > My Friend My Friend, Rock and Roll > NICU, Bouncing Around the Room, Harry Hood > Bug 

E: Tube > Rocky Top > Tweezer Reprise

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Episode 25: Guest Pick - Phish 4.24.94 Charlotte, NC

Episode 25 is up! This week we have another guest pick—this one is from Rob Mitchum (@robmitchum & @phishcrit). He's working on a great project where he's reviewing every Phish show from 1993 onward on Twitter. We're discussing and playing a show he reviewed recently, 4.24.94 from Charlotte, NC. Really fun show with a couple fantastic jams that foreshadow great things to come. As Rob pointed out during our discussion, this year may have been the biggest "crossroads" for the band. The setlist is below. 

One of the most interesting things Rob said about this show is that in 1993, Phish was relying heavily on teases and covers during their improv. But 1994—exemplified by this show's "Bathtub Gin" and "David Bowie"—they figured out that they didn't need to tease someone else's music, they could actually just go into a different theme on their own. The birth of "Type II" jamming. These two songs make the whole show worth listening to.

Also, here's a link to the article that we discussed, detailing how Rob helped turn Grantland writer Steven Hyden onto Phish. Really good read. Lastly, here's Rob's review of the 12.6.97 Palace show, from when the show was officially released.

We've started creating chapters! Below are the chapter markers for this episode, for your reference (you should be able to skip chapters on most podcast apps/devices, please let us know if it doesn't work for you):

Chapter 1   0:00-40:39           Conversation with Rob Mitchum
Chapter 2   40:39-1:43:31      Set 1 Phish 4.24.94
Chapter 3   1:43:31-2:04:05   Set 1 Breakdown 
Chapter 4   2:04:05-3:22:30   Set 2 Phish 4.24.94
Chapter 5   3:22:30-End        Set 2 Breakdown

Please review us on iTunes, and send comments and feedback to helpingfriendlypodcast at gmail dot com, and follow us on Twitter @hfpod.


Phish 4.24.94, Grady Cole Center, Charlotte, NC

Set 1: My Friend, My Friend, Ya Mar, Axilla (Part II) > Maze, Bathtub Gin -> Jump Monk -> Bathtub Gin > Dog Faced Boy, Paul and Silas > It's Ice > Slave to the Traffic Light

Set 2: Demand > David Bowie, The Mango Song > Julius, Colonel Forbin's Ascent > Fly Famous Mockingbird, Chalk Dust Torture, Contact, Good Times Bad Times

E: Sweet Adeline

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Episode 24: MSG 2013

Photo by Andrea Nusinov
We are grateful to have Kevin (@okdeadhead) join us for our first episode of 2014—breaking down and playing some great selections from the New Year's Run, from Madison Square Garden 2013. We're playing and discussing the Chalk Dust Torture & Ghost from 12.30, all of Set 2 from 12.31 (which they played from the top of an old bus), and the Light from 12.31.

We really appreciate Kevin joining us, and our conversation was fun and expansive. In lieu of Listener Notes, we just want to say that we all agree that MSG capped off one of Phish's best years since the late 90s (1997, to be exact). Listen to this stuff from the New Year's Run and judge for yourself. 

And a quick favor: please review us on iTunes! Lastly, send comments and feedback to helpingfriendlypodcast at gmail dot com, and follow us on Twitter @hfpod.

Friday, January 3, 2014


This is a guest post from our friend @blissphish

It wasn't about what they played, but rather what they didn't play…covers. Perhaps the most important “message” they offered all year…or all era, even. We are here to play OUR songs for YOU. No gimmicks, no hidden setlist messages. Most shows spell something? Bullshit. These shows spell nothing, but PHISH.

To me, there were very few of the “holy shit, time might stop” moments that we had throughout Fall Tour. Maybe during “DWD” on 12/29. And that is OK. It wasn't about 20-minute cathartic jams. It wasn't about new jam styles. It wasn't about 1.0, 2.0 or 3.0 Phish. It was a celebration of their songs. Their rich 30 year history. Bar gigs. Roots. 

Not to say this run didn't have its musical moments, because it certainly did. Wingsuit songs made their way effortlessly into the rotation. Other than “Devotion to a Dream,” they were all placed excellently. “Wolfman's Brother” was once again the catalyst on the 28th, and "Carini" proudly owned the “song of the year” title. “Chalkdust Torture” was the clear centerpiece. 

The most important “moment” from the run came when Trey cut “Tweezer” short and dropped into “Number Line.” He bailed on their biggest jam vehicle, and dove right into what many consider their least favorite Phish song. Was it intentional? I don’t think so. Was it punishment for not getting the “message”? Doubtful. It was Trey doing what he wanted…what makes him happy happy. It was yet another page taken out of the "Garden Party" playbook. Pay attention to these moments, they are the ones that matter, not the Tahoe Tweezers. There’s magic in the valleys, once you get over the peaks.

THE MESSAGE? Contrary to popular belief and speculation, the “message” some of us aren't getting, is the mere fact that there is NO MESSAGE. While we are searching low and high for deeper meaning, I truly believe there isn't any. That’s what Trey was getting at. It was Trey telling us, keep looking, because there is nothing there but the music. So learn it. Embrace it while we still have it. Stop wasting your time chasing songs or jams and fuckin listen to the music. 

One of my personal highlights of the MSG run was “Ocelot." The playing. No wasted notes. Oozing with emotion. Sway and swager. These moments. Not the Reading “DWD” peak. Not the dark horse “20 Years Later.” Not a jammed out “Tube.” But those moments where their intent is shining through. Trey put everything he has into that “Ocelot” solo. Didn't take 10 minutes of meandering to reach a glorious peak. There wasn't any wasted time. It was pure emotion. 

In short, DON’T READ THE FUCKIN BOOK, because there isn’t one. It’s still being written.