|Originally Performed By
In the weeks before All Hallows’ Eve in 2021, on Instagram from the porch of the Barn, Phish shared a bit of their rehearsal “learning the words and music to one of the greatest psych rock albums of all time, the immortal Get More Down by Sci Fi Soldier...” It was the first time the band shared such an open advance view into the process of creating their Halloween musical costume. Indeed, “I Am In Miami” debuted on stage as the final song in the Sci-Fi Soldier second set of the 10/31/21 show at the MGM Grand Arena in Las Vegas. It was the fourth “original” Halloween costume after Wingsuit (2013) The Chilling, Thrilling Sounds of the Haunted House (2014) and Kasvot Växt: í rokk (2018).
Not only is the song significantly different in style from the space-dance-funk of the rest of the new material debuted that night, it was performed with the band arranged around a single microphone in front of the stage setup, as they do with their a cappella songs, with Trey on acoustic guitar. Prior to the song, Trey addresses the audience with this prelude:
“We are Sci-Fi Soldier from the year 4680. Thank you for unbending* the knee and saving the world tonight. We will now head back to our home, New Miami, to see our sweeties. We can’t wait to see them. And we will leave the bodies and return you to your regular scheduled band. Thank you.” [*note: Trey misquotes this lyric from the song “Don’t Doubt Me” which goes “Un-head the knee”]Phish ”I Am in Miami” – 10/31/21, Las Vegas, NV. Video by Richard Wolf.
Mike starts the song by singing the chorus twice (as Dave Grohl said in this video talking about how Aerosmith also does this frequently, “Don’t bore us, get to the chorus”). Then, Fishman sings verses 1 and 2 about Miami in Ohio, which is not a specific town in that state. While the Miami people are a Native American nation originally from the Indiana, Michigan, and Ohio areas, and this name is used in various parts of Ohio, including for a county as well as the Miami University of Ohio, there’s not a Miami, Ohio. Are you staying with us so far? Where is New Miami anyway? In these two verses he also mentions New Jersey, Milwaukee, and Colorado.
Verse 3 is sung by all four in harmony, ending with the spelling “In M-I-A-M-I am Miami”. It is worth noting that “I AM” are three letters “in” the middle of the word “Miami” (a fun example of the type of humorous wordplay often employed in Phish lyrics). The next two iterations of the chorus are sung by the entire band, unlike the first chorus sung only by Mike.
Verse 4, sung by the entire band, mentions "Scarface". This is likely referencing the 1983 film directed by Brian De Palma and starring Al Pacino, which is set in Miami in the early ‘80s, rather than the original 1932 film, set in Chicago, or the rapper or various other characters using that sobriquet.
The final verse is also sung by the entire band, and it references the sport golfing, obviously popular in Miami; rolfing, which is a type of alternative medicine involving bodywork or massage, likely also popular in Miami; the Marlins, a Major League Baseball team based in Miami; and the Dolphins, a National Football League team also based in Miami.
Naturally, the song ends by spelling the name of the city again. Following this, Trey awkwardly takes his acoustic guitar off by lifting the strap over his sci-fi soldier helmet, they wave goodbye to the fans, and the band is teleported up and away from the stage, presumably back to their spaceship or New Miami, wherever that is.Phish ”I Am in Miami” – 10/31/21, Las Vegas, NV. Video by starman2112rush.
In the year after its debut, there was only one more performance, with the second version showing up 11 shows later at the Wharf in Orange Beach, Alabama on 5/28/22, again featuring Trey playing acoustic guitar (his 1943 Martin D-28) to keep the tune in time.
A year after the Halloween set, the band released a studio version of all of the Sci-Fi Soldier songs. The album is called Get More Down and the credited band is of course not Phish, but Sci-Fi Soldier. The studio version also features Fishman on drums.Sci-Fi Solider ”I Am in Miami” Video by Sci-Fi Solider - Topic.
Last significant update: 11/22/23
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