And There I Saw to My Surprise — Two Nights at the Roseland — New York, NY 02.05-06.1993

Originally I was going to separate these two shows into separate posts but it kind of makes sense to group them together here, considering this was the first “stand” the band played on the Spring ’93 Tour. I’ll handle each show in turn and then we will get to the big picture as well. But I’d be remiss to not first note that this classic venue that was once a skating arena is no more, having closed in April 2014 (after Lady Gaga had the final residency) to make way for yet another 50+ story building here in Midtown. Progress never sleeps, right? With that, let’s strap in because this one is a tad lengthy…

Phish — Roseland Ballroom — New York, NY 02.05.1993

I  Llama, Guelah, Rift, Melt, Sparkle, PYITE, IDK, Poor Heart>Reba, Bowie->Vibe of Life->Bowie

II  Curtain>Tweezer, Horse>Silent, Paul & Silas, Ice, YEM, HYHU>Love You>HYHU, Coil, Reprise

E  Grace, Cup

On the first night of their stop in New York City Phish opened up with a fiery Llama that gets the rowdy crowd going in what will eventually end up being one of those “Page Shows” we used to note excitedly while filing out of the room back in the day. Guelah then slides into its familiar second song first set position (get used to it. this song was played in 30 of the 71 shows that make up the spring tour) before we have Rift, a tune that benefits well here from Page’s new baby grand piano. Next up is the first opportunity for the band to stretch their metaphorical legs a bit with Melt but this one is wholly in bounds and pretty short at that. The renaissance for this song was still about two months away and we will get to listen to that all happen on stage as we move forward here. A fast Sparkle then precedes a massive bustout of PYITE, a tune that had gone 414 shows between appearances. This version is a tad shaky which isn’t really surprising all things reconsidered, but its appearance is notable as they would then begin a pattern of alternating this song and Landlady (not always in consecutive shows). It is an odd thing to have them playing what amounts to two pieces of the same thing concurrently as in most cases when they have had songs that eventually became larger suites (think Fluffhead>Fluff’s Travels with all of the various parts that make it up — Clod, Who Do? We Do!, The Chase, etc.) they ceased to play the parts once the whole had been begotten. Quite frankly, I know there are many who would love the return of the freestanding Landlady but that is a discussion for the comment section. Note that during this version Trey takes the time to teach the crowd The Storm Dance and even notes that the faster playing they typically use for Landlady messes him up a tad. IDK (“Tubs” “Beast Boy” actually attempts to play an oversized picture of Otis Redding, which obviously does not translate well to the tape and seems to just confuse the crowd) and Poor Heart serve as filler in this set in getting us to the first Reba of the year, one that takes a patient path through the jam segment with Trey adding color to the relaxed vibe of the rhythm section. This is followed by the set-closing Bowie which includes some SL (Random Note, All Fall Down) as well as a little taste of Storytime with Trey as they throw the Vibration of Life in the mix before leaving the Bowie intro. This is only the fifth (of 22 total) time they evoked the green beams of the universal vibration of life so it doesn’t really get the reception I think Trey was seeking but it does provide a nice interlude upon which to lay down those aforementioned secret language cues. From here we get the balance of the Bowie (complete with the echo vocalization that the song now lacks) and a Bowie jam that gets out there in that way we love with the band toying around with the rhythm of the jam as they work their way towards the big finish. And with that we are off to setbreak.

This night the second set would kick off with the beloved old school combo of Curtain>Tweezer and this version is a keeper at that. After nailing the Curtain they take the Tweezer out for a bit in a jam that hints heavily at ‘Funkytown’ at times. Ok, so maybe this isn’t a ’95 mindfuck Tweezer jam or a ’98-99 space odyssey but it is worth your time. Horse>Silent, P&S provide a bit of a break here before they dive back into the bigger stuff with a nice Page-led Ice and eventually YEM. And let’s just note here that you will see an obvious pattern form over this tour where the major jam vehicles alternate on a 2-3 show basis with Mike’s Groove and perhaps a “minor” vehicle such as Reba or Stash typically being played opposite of Tweezer and YEM. Obviously they break the pattern occasionally — and often this results in the more notable set/show having been played — but for the most part this is the format we have (along with some other patterns more related to the straight ahead tunes. Keep in mind that this is before the true “open jam era” that would begin in earnest later in ’93 and really springing to life in ’94 and ’95 so a song like Weekapaug actually did have some notably unique jams that could almost carry the set which is relevant when simply perusing these setlists and trying to make comparisons to the way the songs are played today. But let’s get back to that second set here…

From the first notes of YEM it is apparent that this is a song many came to hear. The crowd immediately provides positive feedback to the band and the band responds in kind with an engaging and complete take on the composed section of the song, particularly with a stunning ‘Nirvana’ section and a great Bass & Drums that leads to another interesting VJ that culminates with the choir ending. Page rides this choir theme on the organ before starting up HYHU and Fish then comes to the front of the stage for his pretty much nightly thing to sing Love You and suck some vac while also bantering about the crew (notably, he calls Brad the “chairman of the boards” since he is sitting in a chair by the soundboard, a nickname that will eventually be linked to Page). Once he is back at the kit we get the first Squirming Coil of the tour and here is where Page really gets to use his new toy to great effect, stretching out the end solo as he tinkles away at the keys of his real live actual piano. But I will say that whoever thought it was a good idea to start a synchronized clap thing during Page’s solo really needs to reevaluate that line of thinking. There will be many instances of crowd-generated clap routines over the course of this tour but this might be the most oddly placed one. At least the others accompany the song to some degree. Geez. The expected Reprise closer comes next and then we get those two new tunes again for the Amazing Grace, Loving Cup encore combo.

This is, largely, one of those shows that would today be referred to as an “energy” show where the jamming is limited but the songs are played well and the crowd is fully engaged. But if we do that then we will have people arguing back and forth because one person was there and feels the show is getting slighted by those only listening on tape and surely they don’t get what happened that night and then there will be some negative comment that hurts someone’s feelings about what was a transformative experience for them and then we have to do the whole dance around Attendance Bias and whatnot. Honestly, I’d like to avoid that aspect of modern phishlife if we can so we will just move right along then to tell you that the takeaways from this first night at the Roseland are Reba, Bowie->VOL->Bowie, Curtain>Tweezer (because why avoid the introducing piece?), YEM, and Coil.

Oh, and because we are here we should also note that after the show Mike and Trey went over to The Ritz to join in on what would henceforth be known as The Ritz Power Jam to help out on a few tunes at the end of the second set. They would be part of Spanish Moon, Watchtower, and the Gloria encore. Really, if you have never heard this tape check it out. Warren Haynes, John Popper, Noel Redding, Leland Schliefer, Chuck Leavell, Bernie Worrell, Jaimoe, Jerome Brailey, and Marc Quinones make up the band. Add in the Trey/Mike + DMB on Watchtower and there’s a heck of a lot of musicians involved. I definitely wore out the tapes on that one way back when.

Now on to night two!

Phish — Roseland Ballroom — New York, NY 02.06.1993

I  Golgi, Foam, Wilson, MFMF, Maze, Horn, Divided, Lawn Boy, Wedge, Bouncin’>Antelope

II  CDT, Mound, Stash, Adeline, ATR, Mike’s>H2>Paug, Lifeboy, Uncle Pen, BBJ, HYHU>Lengthwise>Buried Alive, Possum

E  Fire

If the Friday night show was an “energy” affair, then this one would definitely be considered the “Saturday Night Special”. This is also the fourth night (of five total) in a row that they played and even though this is a much younger band at the start of the tour it does show a bit that they were a tad weary by the time they hit the stage for this one (and the late night sit-ins and other partying that occurs in NYC surely had some impact as well). Now, these five night runs weren’t rare at this time so after a while you just accept that they are going to happen and keep that in mind for perspective but as this is a much younger band they don’t seem to have a lasting impact or are always at play when trying to figure out why the band isn’t connecting as well as on other nights.

With all of that said, this is still a solid outing for the band for Spring ’93 showcasing the variety of the songbook, the high standard level of playing, and some guest sit-ins taboot taboot. Things get off well enough with the first Golgi of the year and a second song Foam (pretty much this song’s standard slot when not occupied by Guelah) that brings things up a bit in the energy department before we have the first Wilson of tour. Now, if you know your phishtory you know that this is pre-crowd involvement for this song (that really didn’t take off until later with the 12.30.94 version being The Moment for the song — and the version that ended up on A Live One) so it is quite subdued from the song we know today as the bombastic anthem it has become. There’s even room for some SL (Random Note, Simpsons) in the pause before the “blap boom” ending section. Next up is MFMF and its old acoustic intro before a shredder Maze that features a nice organ solo from Page before Trey takes a few laps around the fretboard. Horn (finally!) makes its appearance as one of the last Rift songs to be played on this tour (remember, Weigh is still a couple of shows away and Mound would show up later one this night) before a quite well received Divided fills the room. Lawn Boy (with Trey taking the solo) and Bouncin’ sandwich a very nice take on Wedge where Page really shines on the piano, bringing this “slow” version closer to the modern iteration of the song. Finally, a rousing Antelope sends everyone to the setbreak on a high note to discuss current events and various forms of literature and other art while waiting in line with the other freaks to unload their bladders.

The second frame starts with CDT (similar to two shows ago) before the first Mound of the year pops up to keep things quirky. Then a now-rare second set Stash fills the third slot and if you are thinking “holy shit! second set stash! that must jam!” then you would be largely incorrect as this one stays at home for the most part, though they do build some nice T&R along the way. Oddly, they take things way down next for a mic’d take on Sweet Adeline and then ATR before ratcheting it back up for the obvious Mike’s Groove we knew was coming. Things start of hilariously enough with Mike doing the “this is MY song” bit before they take the jam out for a dark turn or two. A somewhat out of tune Hydrogen is next before they dive headlong into a dynamic Weekapaug that includes an extra verse and some type II jamming, giving a bit of a glimpse into where this song was at the time considering that in some cases the Paug jam could elevate a set in a way the rote rocker quite simply does not do anymore. Next we get the second Lifeboy ever and this one is maybe a little more poignant that the debut but still lacks the deep pathos this song would deliver as it became a more regular member of the rotation. A quick run through Uncle Pen precedes Fish Fun Time which on this night includes Fish refusing to tell the Prison Joke (don’t worry, it’ll come out later in the tour) and a few rounds of Lengthwise including a verse about burning your finger from holding up a lighter for too long before they transition directly into Buried Alive. John Popper comes out to add flavor on this tune and stays on through the set closing Possum and here I will just say that the subject of the relative merits of sit-ins is on full display here. Back in this time Popper was a big gun on the scene (particularly in NYC and the area) so it was not unusual for him to join in here. What you get here is largely what we all now know his harmonica playing to be which is to say that some appreciate it and others really don’t. I’ll argue that he adds to the Possum but really just clouds the issue a bit on Buried Alive. Then for the encore the debate can go further as they start up Fire only to stop twice after jokingly not being able to play the song before they bring out Noel Redding to sit in on bass. Popper is also there (Trey gives him the first solo) and Mike gives way to join Page on the keyboards and while including one of the original players on the song it is just an okay take without any major benefit in the long run, as in “holy crap have you ever heard that time they did Fire with Noel Redding and John Popper?!?” yeah, it’s fun to hear but just doesn’t really elevate much. So then everyone is off into the night to find other nefarious goings on to attend to with their Phish buzz in full effect. Which is interesting to joke about considering that Fish would sit in with Shockra over at The Wetlands for a couple of songs, playing vac on one and playing drums while reading from a Sun Ra book on another. They also encored with Fire which is nice. But that’s all really just anecdotally relevant to the larger topic anyway.

For your takeaways on this night let’s include The Wedge, Weekapaug, and that Possum. Sure, there aren’t a lot of high highs here but the tour is early…

— —

So where does this stand put us? These two shows point out the benefit of a band that plays and practices together a lot, as the playing is quite strong and energetic no matter what song they are playing. In a way, the playing is so sharp that when they do slip up it is almost UNnoticeable as it almost seems planned (if that makes sense). Part of this is the youthfulness of the band and their mastery of both instrument and the music being played but a lot of it is simply the level of connection and communication they have forged amongst each other. There is still a long upward trajectory to be heard on this tour but here only four shows in it is clear that the band is feeling good and sharing in the energy their fans push back to them. There is excitement in knowing what is to come here as these shows don’t even really scratch the surface of where we will be in a few short months. And that is a wonderful thing to look forward to…

Simple Smiles and Good Times – Providence, RI 02.04.1993

Phish – Providence Performing Arts Center – Providence, RI 02.04.1993

I  Axilla, Foam, Bouncin’, Maze, FEFY>ATR, Stash, Lizards, Sample*>Glide>Antelope

II  CDT, Wedge, Mike’s>TMWSIY>Avenu Malkenu>TMWSIY>Paug, Lawn Boy, Uncle Pen, BBJ>HYHU>Lengthwise>HYHU, Hood, Cavern

E  Grace, GTBT

*1st time played

For the second show of the Spring ’93 Tour Phish was in Providence, RI at the wonderfully ornate PPAC (Providence Performing Arts Center) which has been the home to a wide variety of shows, films, and other events since opening in 1928. This one would include another debut, some teases, and a bevy of jams worth your time. As the second show of the tour it is mostly made up with first time appearances from the majority of the songs played here but there are a couple of tunes that get repeated — and these are the ones you’ll hear quite frequently over the course of this tour. This is different from the band we know today considering that it is now highly rare for the band to play the same song(s) in consecutive shows (unless we are talking about the Reprise fun from Hartford/SPAC in 2010 or the Fuegoization of America over the course of the Summer 2014 tour).

So on this night the festivities would begin with a few warm up numbers, getting both the band and crowd loose with Axilla, a bouncy take on Foam, and Bouncin’. Then they fired up Maze for the Trey shred as well as some nice Page work on the organ. After this they brought it down a notch for FEFY>ATR and both of these are about what you’d expect. This three pack of Rift tunes takes the total count of tracks played up to ten (of the 14 unique songs on the album – the 15th tune being the second Lengthwise — a tune which would show up later in this show). The final few tracks would get sprinkled into the next few shows with Mound and Horn popping up in the 02.06.1993 show from The Roseland which we will cover shortly and Weigh waiting until 02.09.1993 in Rochester. But now back to this show… After this Rift material we have the first true highlight of the night as they would take Stash out for its first ride of the year. Trey catches on to a repetitive lick that he uses to drive the jam forward, building that wonderful tension along the way until they hit the release button at the peak to great effect. This song is going to be featured a lot by the band on this tour, particularly in carrying the jam load for many first sets, and as we go forward you will be able to note how they work to take this song deeper out seemingly every time they play it. Lizards provides the calm following this jam and this version is pretty okay. But hey, there’s a major super big time debut that follows it so perhaps they were just anticipating that one. And what was that epic debut? Only the second track from Hoist to hit the stage in as many days: Sample in a Jar! Yes, that’s right, everyone’s favorite attempt at making a marketable single was birthed this night in Providence and let’s just say it isn’t the most memorable version ever but that kind of goes without saying because we are talking about Sample here, aren’t we? After flooring the crowd with that amazing musical display they would end the set with Glide>Antelope which works quite well probably mostly due to the band taking Antelope out for what would be the second open jam of the set. There’s even the first example of Secret Language of the tour in this one, with the Simpsons signal showing up here post jam in the lead up to the ‘Rye Rye Rocco’ section. And with that we are off to setbreak to enjoy the fun visuals of this old theatre.

And after that break the band came out with energy, cranking through the first of many fiery versions of CDT that would grace this tour. There’s nothing overly special going on here, just the band crushing one of their classic barn burner numbers and hitting all the notes along the way. Second slot tonight is our new [slow] Wedge and this one is a tad cleaner than the debut from last night while still staying in that swinging, slower vibe. From this point the set would take a much darker turn as the band strung together a biggish Mike’s Groove that clocks in just under 27 minutes in toto. From the start of the Mike’s jam it is clear they are taking this one deep and even in being under eight minutes this version gets pretty grimy before coming back to the end and transition to TMWSIY>Avenu Malkenu>TMWSIY. At this stage NOT playing H2 immediately following Mike’s in the middle of the Groove was extremely rare, having occurred only 17 times up to this point — that we know of. Interestingly, before being a part of the Groove H2 was once paired with ‘Who Do? We do!’ (which would eventually become part of the Fluffhead suite) including a brief bridge jam not too dissimilar to ‘With’. Check out 08.29.1987 for what might be the most fully realized example (and one that also includes the long lost lyrics to H2). Geez, I gotta stop with the asides here. Anyway, after that Man Who sandwich they kick up for the Paug finale and this one is a keeper. First Trey throws in a little TMWSIY phrasing over the Paug groove and then for good measure they drop some of the then quite popular Ween tune ‘Push th Little Daisies’ into the brief vocal jamming that springs forth at the end of the song before the close. This is the only instance of this song being teased by the band that anyone has noticed so it is pretty fun to hear them throw that in there — and it is really just the start of the teasing that would be evident all tour long. After this long segment they cool things down with Lawn Boy and for this version Trey takes the solo. Uncle Pen comes in next for the requisite bluegrass number of the night before the inevitable BBJ shows up to lead us into Fish Funtime. Now we have that Lengthwise I mentioned earlier and Fish really draws this one out with a slower read on the pace in a version that is mostly a cappella before the end and return to HYHU. After Fish returns to the kit he strikes up the first Hood of the year for a straight forward yet engaging take on the well loved tune. There’s a Random Note SL in the intro section and then Trey teases Lengthwise at the start of the jam but otherwise this one is all good Hood. The second set closes with the first (of many) Caverns of the year and then we get our second Grace encore paired with a rocking GTBT to send everyone off into the night.

Overall, this is not a show you’ll probably spin again and again but it is one that has its highlights and points towards the band’s trajectory on this tour. You can hear in the Stash and Antelope that they are setting things up for bigger things, exploring the themes of these songs while also throwing in new ideas along the way. In some sense these early tour versions of the typical vehicles are the band getting comfortable again after the post-NYE layoff and they also are examples of the band members doing things to keep each other on their toes. As the tour progresses we will hear these songs blossom further.

The takeaways from this one are definitely Stash, Antelope, the Mike’s Groove (but at least the Paug if you are counting your phish calories), and Hood. Next stop, New York City!

What a Beautiful Buzz – Portland, ME 02.03.1993

Let’s get this 1993 review thing going, shall we?

Phish – Portland Expo – Portland, ME 02.03.1993

I  Cup*, Rift, Fee>Llama, Wedge*, Divided, IDK, MFMF, Poor Heart>Guelah, Bowie

II  Jim, Ice>Tweezer, Horse>Silent>Sparkle, YEM>Lifeboy, HYHU>Terrapin>BBJ>HYHU, Possum

E  Grace*, Reprise

*1st time played

For their first full concert of the year* Phish took the stage in Portland, ME at the Portland Exposition Building, a multi-use facility that is currently the home for the NBA D League “Maine Red Claws” who are affiliated with the Boston Celtics. This would be the first and only appearance by Phish in this venue as they would play the larger Cumberland County Civic Center (now called the Cross Insurance Arena) on subsequent visits to that fair coastal town. Along with being the tour opener, this show holds the distinction of being the first one where Page had the baby grand piano on stage and part of his rig for touring purposes. And with that addition the band wasted no time in letting Page show off his new toy, one that he would use to great success in several songs during this show.

The first set kicks off with Page tinkling around on the baby grand, throwing in a ‘Call to Post’ tease right before dropping the now-oh-so-familiar chords marking the debut of Loving Cup, a tune that has become a staple in the band’s repertoire. The band excitedly runs through this number in a straight to form take on the song that mainly serves to get the band and crowd warmed up and brush off the dust from the layoff. Next they dive into the first tune from the (then) recently released Rift album, playing the title track. Just a bit of forewarning here, the Rift tunes will be in heavy rotation for this Spring tour – as they should be considering this tour is supporting the release of the album… So after a crisp run through of Rift we have Fee>Llama which is an interesting pairing that has only occurred 10 times in the 275 times the band has played Fee. It isn’t uncommon for Fee to be a lead in for a shredder tune or at least something more up tempo. And because I do this sort of thing, here’s the breakdown for the most likely Fee segue partners over the course of phishtory: Maze (21), Rift (11), Divided (11), Llama (10), Antelope (10), ATR (9), Mike’s (9), Possum (8). Looking forward, almost half of those Llama ones happen in ’93 so there’s that to look ahead to here.

After some serious shreddery in that Llama Trey takes a little time to mention the Loving Cup debut and how the band has wanted to play the tune for several years but could (would?) not because Page would only do so if and when he got a real piano on which to play the tune. And then with little fanfare they kick off the next debut of this show and second rift tune played, The Wedge, which in this form is similar but not quite the same as the version we know and love today. Heck, it isn’t even the same as the version on the album! This song started more as a swinging lounge-y number that has a lot of Page to it (which works great with that new piano). A clean take on Divided fills the midset here and then we have Fish hopping out front for some trombone work on IDK. Trey then picks up the acoustic for the MFMF intro and after that quick dark interlude we have Poor Heart>Guelah, two tunes you are going to hear a lot during these shows. Nothing special to report on those except perhaps that the end solo section for Trey in Poor heart is a tad longer than modern versions, something that would also continue throughout this tour. The band then caps the set with the first Bowie of a year full of quality versions, opening up the jam a bit in a way that would grow more as they became more comfortable with stretching this one out to deeper waters. This version is almost foreshadowing in that respect, hinting more at what would become of the song than anything.

After the setbreak the band came back with a fiery Jim that allows Trey to show off a bit in the later half. This song is still a bit away from fully opening up as a jam vehicle (which would begin in earnest later in this tour) but the marks are all there and this one shows a good example of the type of musical density they had in their arsenal back then. Next we have Ice>Tweezer and the segue is really more just coincidental placement than full transition. Ice is pretty standard here but the Tweezer does go off the reservation for a bit with Trey intoning some “water your team, I’m a beehive” over the jam, hinting at more to come in the YEM later in the set. Form here they then play a three song segment of tunes, all from Rift and all pretty straight to the album versions, with the sequence going Horse>Silent>Sparkle. The Horse here (as with pretty well all of the versions in this time frame) has Trey on acoustic, something he will toy with over the course of the tour. Following this we get the second jam vehicle of the set with YEM and for this one they simply do not mess around, getting right to the jam and playing around with some ‘My Girl’ teases and Trey replacing the “wash Uffizi…” line with the aforementioned “beehive” lyrics. I must note though that the crowd gets a little excited and there’s some coordinated clapping happening here so, you know, take that for what it is but understand that back then people didn’t have stuff like “wooing” and “Hood” chants to profess their love back to the band yet. They elevate the jam to great heights before dropping into the B&D section for a bit and adding on a vocal jam that again has the “beehive” from Trey before they eventually get to the “choir” ending that was typical of this time period. This heads almost directly into another debut for Lifeboy – which is notable considering this is the first Hoist tune to hit the stage for the band. This version is a bit loose compared to later versions but still evokes that emotional response you expect from the song. From here we have the standard late second set Fish Fun Time which gets the HYHU brackets (just a note, I won’t typically mention HYHU unless there is something unusual about it) and includes Terrapin (including band/crew intros), the crooning ballad from Syd Barrett that Fish appropriated as far back as 1987, along with BBJ (with Trey telling the crowd what to do and Fish on vac) that includes elements of Terrapin before they head into a HYHU jam to finish it all off. After this interlude we get a quite engaging Possum closer that strays into ‘You Don’t Love Me’ territory before Trey takes over to destroy the end solo as Page adds a new variety of color with the baby grand. And so as to not be seen as an afterthought, the encore includes the debut of Amazing Grace before the expected Reprise sends everyone off into the night.

This is a classic tour opening show complete with a varied setlist, several debuts, an energetic atmosphere from band and crowd alike, and some solid playing out of each player. In a way, this show is a lot of table setting as we are introduced to Page’s new toy and a snapshot of many of the tunes that would become staples for the band on this tour and many that would follow. This show is probably not going to end up on anyone’s “best of” lists but it is a worthwhile listen to get a baseline for where this tour would lead the band musically.

Your takeaways from this show if you are looking to skim the highlights are Loving Cup (hey, it’s the debut!), Wedge (gotta check out the first slow wedge), Bowie, Jim, Tweezer, YEM, and Possum. Not too bad for a tour opener!

*I say full concert because they had an album release party at the Hard Rock Cafe in Boston on 01.28.1993 where they performed Amazing Grace and Fish donated a vac that still hangs on the walls there. 

Spring 1993 – A Primer

Over the years Phish has put together more than their fair share of lengthy, progressive, crowd-pleasing tours. There’s Fall ’97 (aka Phish Destroys America), Fall/Winter ’95 (a new exploration in mind-bending psychedelia every night!), Europe ’97 (the birth of cowfunk), Summer ’94 (marking the move to bigger sheds and bigger crowds), and of course August ’93 (when the shred-jazz-adelia took root), amongst many others. But along with these well known and oft-discussed tours there are the ones that primed the band for bigger things and where they truly cut their teeth in exploring new ideas, new material, and new paths for elevating the music and the crowd towards achieving those collective moments of communal joy that are so much a part of why we as fans continue to return again and again.

The 71 shows that the band played in the 94 days between February 2nd, 1993 and May 8th, 1993 make up one of these “formative” tours. This nation-spanning tour started in the Northeast before following the lines headed south to a legendary run in Atlanta before the first shows in Florida and then out West with a 10-show run in California along the way before making its way across the Midwest and eventually back to their home base in New England (by way of Canada). Highlighting the songs that made up the then recently released Rift album (the album release party was a few nights before the tour began at the Hard Rock Cafe in Boston), this tour is a bridge between two versions of the band. They had ended 1992 on a creative upswing with the tight, structured style of the past ever so slightly beginning to give way to more exploration in the live setting but were still working towards what would eventually become the next step in their musical evolution with the move towards more open waters that really came to the forefront in the aforementioned August portion of the Summer ’93 tour. Rift was their third album released in just over three years and they now had a palette of more than three hundred songs from which to choose in crafting each night’s setlist, along with all of the other tricks in their bag including Secret Language, references and teases of songs that ranged across all genres of music and the ability to play any style of music that suited their fancy, a lead singer who loved to tell stories, and probably most important of all a fanbase that was growing both in size and in terms of dedication to seeing what these guys would do next.

This Spring ’93 tour sits at an interesting point in the band’s history and is therefore quite interesting to look at in depth since it provides a great opportunity to witness the band as they grew into a new version of themselves. With that in mind, over the course of a series of posts (okay, a LOT of posts) I will be chronicling each show and trying to give some information that I have been able to gather about the set and setting in order to hopefully provide some context about how this tour progressed and led us more to the band that we know and love today. My focus is on the music first but whenever possible I will add color regarding the venues, crowd, and other factors that may have influenced what occurred on each night the band took the stage. And in doing that I think we will be able to see not only the patterns that formed but also the path that this tour forged in setting the stage for some of the much bigger things to come.

As a means of forecast, here are the tour dates of the tour. I invite you to add your own thoughts and memories to help shape the story because one man’s point of view on it is not enough when discussing such things…


2/3/93 Portland Expo, Portland, ME

2/4/93 Providence Performing Arts Center, Providence, RI

2/5/93 Roseland Ballroom, New York, NY

2/6/93 Roseland Ballroom, New York, NY

2/7/93 Lisner Auditorium, George Washington University, Washington, DC

2/9/93 Auditorium Theatre, Rochester, NY

2/10/93 Smith Opera House, Geneva, NY

2/11/93 Haas Center for the Arts, Bloomsburg, PA

2/12/93 Mid-Hudson Civic Center, Poughkeepsie, NY

2/13/93 Bob Carpenter Center, University of Delaware, Newark, DE

2/15/93 Memorial Hall, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC

2/17/93 Benton Convention Center, Winston-Salem, NC

2/18/93 Electric Ballroom, Knoxville, TN

2/19/93 Roxy Theatre, Atlanta, GA

2/20/93 Roxy Theatre, Atlanta, GA

2/21/93 Roxy Theatre, Atlanta, GA

2/22/93 The Moon, Tallahassee, FL

2/23/93 The Edge Night Club, Orlando, FL

2/25/93 The Cameo Theatre, Miami Beach, FL

2/26/93 Ritz Theatre, Tampa, FL

2/27/93 Florida Theatre, Gainesville, FL

3/2/93 Tipitina’s, New Orleans, LA

3/3/93 Tipitina’s, New Orleans, LA

3/5/93 Deep Ellum Live, Dallas, TX

3/6/93 Liberty Lunch, Austin, TX

3/8/93 Sweeney Center, Santa Fe, NM

3/9/93 Pike’s Peak Center, Colorado Springs, CO

3/12/93 Dobson Arena, Vail, CO

3/13/93 Balch Fieldhouse, University of Colorado, Boulder, CO

3/14/93 Paul Wright Gym, Western State College, Gunnison, CO

3/16/93 Celebrity Theatre, Phoenix, AZ

3/17/93 The Palace, Hollywood, CA

3/18/93 The Palace, Hollywood, CA

3/19/93 The Greek Theatre, Redlands, CA

3/21/93 Ventura Theatre, Ventura, CA

3/22/93 Crest Theatre, Sacramento, CA

3/24/93 Luther Burbank Center for the Arts, Santa Rosa, CA

3/25/93 Santa Cruz Civic Auditorium, Santa Cruz, CA

3/26/93 Warfield Theatre, San Francisco, CA

3/27/93 Warfield Theatre, San Francisco, CA

3/28/93 East Gym, Humboldt State University, Arcata, CA

3/30/93 Hilton Ballroom, Eugene, OR

3/31/93 Roseland Theater, Portland, OR

4/1/93 Roseland Theater, Portland, OR

4/2/93 Mt. Baker Theatre, Bellingham, WA

4/3/93 86th Street Music Hall, Vancouver, BC, Canada

4/5/93 HUB Ballroom, Seattle, WA

4/9/93 State Theatre, Minneapolis, MN

4/10/93 Aragon Ballroom, Chicago, IL

4/12/93 IMU Ballroom, University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA

4/13/93 Memorial Hall, Kansas City, KS

4/14/93 American Theater, St. Louis, MO

4/16/93 The Macauley Theater, Louisville, KY

4/17/93 Michigan Theater, Ann Arbor, MI

4/18/93 Michigan Theater, Ann Arbor, MI

4/20/93 Newport Music Hall, Columbus, OH

4/21/93 Newport Music Hall, Columbus, OH

4/22/93 The Agora Theatre, Cleveland, OH

4/23/93 Cotterell Court, Reid Athletic Center, Colgate University, Hamilton, NY

4/24/93 Cheel Arena, Clarkson University, Potsdam, NY

4/25/93 Kuhl Gym, SUNY Geneseo, Geneseo, NY

4/27/93 Concert Hall, Toronto, ON, Canada

4/29/93 Le Spectrum, Montréal, Québec, Canada

4/30/93 Sports Center, University of Hartford, West Hartford, CT

5/1/93 Tower Theatre, Upper Darby, PA

5/2/93 Tower Theatre, Upper Darby, PA

5/3/93 State Theatre, New Brunswick, NJ

5/5/93 Palace Theatre, Albany, NY

5/6/93 Palace Theatre, Albany, NY

5/7/93 Bangor Auditorium, Bangor, ME

5/8/93 Field House, University of New Hampshire, Durham, NH

*Please note that these tourdates do not include other appearances by the band in this time frame that are not considered concert performances, for example the band’s supposed appearance at The Boston Music Awards on April 7th and their two song performance at the Ancient Forests Benefit on April 1st in Portland, OR.

Sui Generis

Greetings and welcome!

Please join me as I begin this latest endeavor to try to provide a bit of insight and discussion into this band Phish. I have no grand hope that this will become anything more than what it is: one fan’s introspections and musings on the variety of topics that arise when looking at the long and winding road that started with a few geeky musicians in Vermont only to become a cultural phenomenon and eventually one of the more interesting communities of the music world. What I look to create here is also a place for other like-minded people to share their thoughts and experiences with Phish, their music (and that of others that have even a tangentially-related congruence with them), and any other of a thousand possible topics that may arise from this initial jumping off point.

I look to be more facilitator towards that end rather than someone just putting out content of their own opinion, though there will be that too. I will have an on-going review of tours past starting with Spring ’93 and then branching out elsewhere depending on how things progress here but that will only be one facet of this dive into the depths of our reflection on what is — to me — the best band and communal experience for finding the connection to IT that so many of us crave. In all of this I hope that any who choose to come along will do so by commenting in a respectful and open-minded manner while also leaving their personal gripes at the door. I’m all for constructive criticism and challenging arguments between individuals who show each other mutual respect and hopefully we can maintain that in this teensy little corner of the internet if at least for a little while. And with that I’ll close by reminding you that I am not nor ever wish to present myself as anything more than an amateur in the writing game who happens to have a great deal of passion (still) for this band after 25 years of seeing them perform. Hopefully that is enough to get things off on the right path…

So in the interest of not setting expectations for this too high or too low, let’s get down to the nitty gritty and get this show on the road!