Phish — Lisner Auditorium, GWU — Washington, DC 02.07.1993
I Suzy>Buried Alive>Poor Heart, Ice>Sparkle, Forbin’s>Mockingbird>Rift, IDK, Melt, Fee>Jim
II Llama, FEFY, MMGAMOIO, Reba, Tweezer>BBJ, Glide, YEM, Coil, IIOHAB>Reprise
E Grace, Contact>BBFCFM
After a fine pair of shows in New York City, Phish headed to the nation’s capital for the fifth show of the Spring ’93 Tour which also happened to be the fifth consecutive night the band took the stage. This show would be the last (of two) times the band would play this venue at George Washington University, graduating (ha!) to larger rooms on subsequent visits to the area, including the New Year’s Run ’93 appearance at Bender Arena (at American University) just a few months from this date. It is something of a scheduling oddity that they dipped down to the mid-Atlantic region for this one show before heading back to upstate New York and Pennsylvania over the course of the next several shows and then eventually following the lines headed south for good about a week on from here. But all that being said, we have here the first Sunday night show of the tour which is always something in its own right, right? Plus there are several tour debuts and a bunch of teases to go along with the high energy that both the band and crowd bring to the table here.
The band wasted no time in getting a head start of bringing that high energy to the forefront as they came out gunning in the first set, dropping the first Suzy Greenberg of the year to get the dance party moving before doubling up on the openers with Buried Alive. This butts up right to the Poor Heart that followed and here we see something that becomes a pattern over the course of this tour with the band stringing three and sometimes four songs together with no break to start the first set. Now, most of these are not full segues but rather those quick transitions that happen so frequently in Phish sets. But the sum effect is that they get themselves warmed up with a few energetic songs and also get the crowd amped and moving and itching for more. After these three we have Ice>Sparkle and here five songs in we have yet to experience a dull moment even if all of these are light on jam and heavy on the peanut butter. After bringing it all up thus far Trey takes the opportunity to hold the first real Storytime With Trey session, playing Forbin’s>Mockingbird and weaving a quite intricate tale in the process. I could go through and write out what he said here but my synopsis will be a poor facsimile of his words so I’ll just suggest you get into whatever headspace makes you most open to these stories and spin this visceral yarn. All I’m gonna say is that I think Trey was really liking how “pea stew” sounded because he says it like 100 times. So good luck with that head trip. And then after working through a decent Mockingbird they go right into Rift before yet another IDK (this is the 3rd in 5 shows) with Fish (ahem, “Tubs the little beast boy”) on trombone. A snappy take on Melt stays firmly in the box before they close the set with Fee>Jim. This Jim has a nice little jam and some crowd participation (clapping?? WTF? where are the woos???) during the breakdown before Trey solos but overall it is about what you expect from the song at this stage. And then we are off to the setbreak to look for political celebrities in the crowd and chat about political-y type stuff like manifest destiny, the Iraq war, and the changing nature of the American Dream in the latter part of the 20th century. You know, kid stuff.
For the start of the second set Trey mentions that this is indeed a special night as he has apparently found one of those celebrities in the crowd, motioning to Chelsea Clinton here at her first concert and offering a dedication of the impending Llama to her even though she would have been about thirteen at the time and was most definitely not in the audience. There are some added chuckles as they false start that Llama (a telling joke about the dedication in its own right…) due to Trey’s amp not being on but then they attack the song with fervor in getting everyone moving again after the break. The second Fast Enough for You of the tour precedes the first My Mind’s Got a Mind of Its Own (a personal favorite cover of mine) and then we have the first real jam highlight from this night with our girl Reba stepping into the second set. This one has a little SL (Simpsons – right before the whistling), a somewhat unique jam that deserves to be heard, and some alternate lyrics with “baguette” replacing “bag it”. So funny. And then they head into Tweezer for the combo punch, provoking dreams that don’t exist about a massive jam when instead we get some Gumbo teases, a jam that begs to get extended, and a quick dive sideways into BBJ. Dang. Well, it is ’93 so you shouldn’t expect more than what you got. Oh well, but at least they throw another Gumbo tease in the BBJ. Glide bridges us to the next opportunity for the set to really elevate and this time they do not disappoint with a compelling YEM that includes a VJ that heads into a bit of ‘My Darling, Clementine’ before resolving. A pretty Coil comes up next and you can really tell here that Page is enjoying having the piano on tour by the way he takes on the solo. Nothing earth shattering, but he is doing more here than he was in the later ’92 versions which aren’t bad, but lack the color of the piano. Next we have another tour debut for Fish Fun Time (sans HYHU tonight!) as he comes out for If I Only Had A Brain, vac’ing it up as always. They take this directly into the Reprise closer and then we have another special moment at the start of the encore as Trey dedicates Amazing Grace to his sister Kristy (on her 30th birthday), who is in the crowd, and gives her a bouquet of flowers. This is particularly poignant now considering that this is the sister to whom the song Joy references and who sadly lost her battle with neuroendocrine cancer in 2009. As always, Fuck Cancer. After this touching moment they capped the night with two more tour debuts in Contact>BBFCFM and then we are off into the capital city night.
Here in the fifth show of the tour the band is clearly still getting their feet wet but by now the playing has solidified towards being decidedly crisp and energetic no matter what the song. This show has a variety of flavors for fans to enjoy but lacks a definite-must-hear-at-all-costs song or segment that would push it to higher classification for repeated listens. There are, however, some great takeaways here to spin before the band finally gets a night off to head back up towards Rochester. Definitely spin the Forbin’s>Mockingbird, Reba, Tweezer, and YEM but add in Jim if you are feeling charitable too.