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!