type II cast

a type II podcast, broadcasting from the hose.

Type II Episode 7: The (de)Evolution of Mike’s Song


Listen to Episode 7

This week the crew moves into a new direction. Scott, Tanya and Drew discuss the history of Mike’s Song. They start in the early days and discuss how the song has evolved, and eventually, devolved, into 2010.  The framework used in this episode will be repeated in the next 2, at least, as a complete overview of Phish in the 1.0, 2.0 and 3.0 eras.

The first part of this episode will cover the early days. Scott sets the stage and talks about how Mike’s began, the name changes it took in the very beginning, and how it started the “song suite”. From its inception, Mike’s presented itself as a rager, as a song for Trey to wail on. A clip from 5/8/89 is presented to illustrate Scotty’s point.

Then, Tanya takes us to the days of a “beautiful Mikes jam”. The crew feels this era began with NYE ’92 and continued through 1994. It is during this time that the F major jam was started, the song gained legs as being more experimental, and it is worthy to note the frequency at which Mike’s got played, nearly every other show. A clip from 12/30/93 was chosen for this segment.

Up next, Drew discusses the “Glory Days” which he is calling 95-99. During this period, there are many stellar versions of Mike’s to choose from. He dives right into the 11/11/95 clip, and as you could guess, he labels this one epic. After giving due props to 95, we lead into a clip from 8/13/96, again, hitting that epic territory. Finally, Drew touches on the funk that was 97 and the often overlooked jams of 98 and 99.

Then, Scotty brings it back home and breaks down where Mike’s went in Phish 2.0 and 3.0. And, as the title of this episode suggests, we feel Mike’s has tamed it down a bit, and is not the jam vehicle it once was. Scotty notes that the F jam has disappeared, and the song returns to the late 80’s, early 90’s versions which were essential Trey driven. One version which caught the eye of the panel though was 12/28/09, which we grab a clip from.

Finally, the group wraps up a general discussion of the song, I throw out some questions our listeners might be interested in, and we make predictions on the role Mike’s will play in the 2010 holiday run.

Be sure to tune in next week when Sam, Eric and Justin will take us on another nerdy journey into Phish’s history.

Be good,

- Stephen Olker

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Author: UNOlker

Host and Producer of TWoL and TypeII Podcasts.

19 thoughts on “Type II Episode 7: The (de)Evolution of Mike’s Song

  1. Great choice of topic this week. The one Mike’s I’ve seen in 3.0 was at Telluride this summer, and I think it pretty much exemplifies what seems to be the best case scenario these days. (i.e. Trey builds a rockin solo to a nice peak and segues to something cool- not Simple) That being said, I think the Simple jam from the Greek was some of the best melodic playing they’ve done in 3.0… so even if the Mike’s jam itself isn’t doing much these days, at least there has been some great stuff around it. This past tour had a few really nice examples of that. 7-4-10 also comes to mind.

    Another point surrounding the (de)evolution of the Mike’s Groove worth mentioning is the relative weakness of the Hydrogen’s and Weekapaug’s in 3.0. Hydrogen, when it’s well executed, is so sublime. Lately, I find myself less able to surrender to that moment because my mind is too busy rooting for them to get it right. As for Weekapaug, the energy has just been lacking for me in recent versions. (Manchester being the exception)

    Thanks for the great show, and if I may make one suggestion, I love the musical examples, but for some reason the levels on them this week were a little off. (too low) You gotta crank it up for us deaf folks that have been to too many rock concerts.

  2. Yes, Mike’s Song doesn’t go into the “major” ending anymore, which I don’t understand. Also, and it’s hard to explain in writing, the end features four end riffs rather than two (parts right before it would go into Simple or something). So, now they don’t go into F major and they tacked on extra stuff to the end of the song (I feel it makes it sound sloppy and less punctuated.)

    Please bring back Mike’s song, Phish!

  3. Pingback: Hidden Track » Intermezzo: The (De)Evolution of Mike’s

  4. This makes me think back to People for A Louder Mike. Unfortunately, I’m so hungry (and trapped at the office) at the moment, that I’m unable to remember where I wanted to go with this. But remind me, and I’ll check back in with ya.

  5. Top-notch analysis from everyone on the panel this week. I particularly enjoyed the sound clips in this episode. Each one really showed how special Mike’s can be.

  6. There’s another way to look at Mike’s, which is to remember that in the early days it was a performance piece with tramps, and leg lifts in H2, which really went up to the very end of 92—I think the last I saw that was Binghamton 11/19 maybe. There was a reason that they were never divorced—it was a balanced suite, with loud madness and tramps, followed by quiet weirdness (if you ever saw the leg lifts they’ll always color your hearing of the song), so that when they finally landed, Weekapaug set everyone into joyous dancing. Thereafter, Mike’s became a broader suite opener. You guys alluded to this at the end of the cast, but it deserves more attention, because that’s really been its major role. Yes there were a bunch of wild versions and beautiful versions, but those are the anomaly, not the norm, esp. if you see the scope of that trend as 94-97 for a song that’s never dropped out of rotation. Even within those years, there are plenty of straight ahead slayer Mike’s. One of the things that makes the Creek 96 so great is that after all that soaring, twisted improv, it lands in a soul crushing Lifeboy.
    The pairing with Simple was perfect, almost entirely intuitive, and I think you got to the beauty place far more consistently out of a Simple than a Mike’s, so that rather than dreading the song, I almost heard it as an extension of Mike’s that I knew would unravel as a gorgeous, type II jam.
    When we move to 3.0, Mike’s returns to the place it’s always occupied, a hard rocking, focused tube of music. The one from MSG last year was incredibly powerful; short, but explosive. And this fall, it was a doorway to all sorts of amazing sequences and special moments.

  7. Fascinating topic. Had never considered an evolution. Nice work.

  8. Pingback: Archive Show: Episode 7, The (de)Evolution of Mike’s Song « type II cast

  9. Pingback: Episode 45: The Story of the Ghost « type II cast

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