Phish — Mid-Hudson Civic Center — Poughkeepsie, NY 02.12.1993
I Golgi>Maze, Guelah, Sparkle, Melt, Esther>Wedge, CDT, IDK, A Train>Antelope
II MFMF, ATR, Reba, Poor Heart, BBJ, FEFY, YEM>Ya Mar, HYHU>Terrapin>HYHU, Hood, Harpua
E Grace, GTBT
Within pretty much every fan’s personal history with the band there are those nights that take on special meaning because of the obstacles overcome in order to get to the show. It may be due to vehicular trouble, relationship struggle, an undesired interaction with law enforcement personnel, or most commonly (to paraphrase Lou Reed) situations that arise because of the weather. February 12, 1993 is one of those nights for a lot of people as a major snowstorm hit the region, creating a travel nightmare for many people and providing a colorful background story for more than one fan who braved the elements to get their Phish fix that evening. This night would also be the last time Phish would grace a stage in Poughkeepsie, having played there five previous times at The Chance before stepping up to the much bigger (capacity is more than three times that of The Chance) Mid-Hudson Civic Center for this performance. Actually, they played Mair Hall at the Mid-Hudson Civic Center, but you get the idea. And for that last show the band played a fiery show to help ward off the cold, bringing with them more tour debuts, some high quality playing throughout, and a very energetic stage presence that all combine to make this show a fun listen.
Things kick off with a Golgi opener (which they had also done for the second Roseland show) that heads straight into a raging Maze where Page and Trey both take strong solos. This song obviously isn’t quite to the frenetic level here that it will be when it reaches its peak in 94/95 but the build they create with Peak swirling around on the organ as Trey shreds the peak gives a glimpse about where this song is headed. Next up is a come down tune for Guelah and here we have some SL (Oom Pa Pa) in the break, something that perhaps hints at a song that will be heard much later in the show. And since we are here talking Guelah, let me just say that sometimes I miss the voice delay/echo Trey used to use on tunes like this and Bowie. Maybe not an every time thing but it would surely spin some heads if they were to bring it back even just once in a while. Anyway, after a quick Sparkle we have a decent enough Melt that doesn’t really depart the main theme at all but brings the energy level up to a new level in the room. And, of course, they immediately deflate that energy ball with Esther, a fine enough song but not the one you seek if you want to dance your tail off. There are also two more SL signals here as they throw Simpsons and Random Note signals into the intro section. Esther heads to another [slow] Wedge and then we get that energy back up for a fast paced, shred-heavy CDT. IDK provides the crowd opportunity to clap along and laugh at Fish’s sheet-of-plastic solo (I’ve seen some places that note a vac solo here but on tape it sure doesn’t sound like a vac and the .com show notes say it was a piece of heavy plastic so we are going with that). Next up is the tour debut of Take the A Train, one of those songs that is now a relic of the bygone jazzier leanings of the band. This would be the penultimate year for this song with the band, being played three times in 1993 before a singular performance in 1994. Heck it hasn’t even been teased since like 1997 so I’m pretty confident that this one is left firmly in the past. This heads right into the set closing Antelope which is nice and heavy but fairly straight forward, with a couple of A Train teases thrown in for good measure along the way. Then it is off to setbreak to complain about the weather and get some hot chocolate.
After that lovely break the band came out firing once again, throwing down a Rift-y combo of MFMF>ATR. MFMF gets to that dark place we all love and then there is a brief but different intro (mainly from Page) to ATR before that runs its course. Next our girl Reba steps in to take the reins and get the room moving. While perhaps not a top tier version over the band’s total history, this one is clean, crisp, and bright like that girl you adored back in college but never had the nerve to ask out and now you sometimes wake up in the middle of the night wondering where she is and what she is doing and maybe she’d want to catch up and who knows what might happen but that’s crazy so much time has passed and people change so it could never hey wait how did I get so sidetracked here? oh yeah, reba jam. got it. see? it kinda takes you out there. anyway, after THAT all happens, we have Poor Heart, BBJ, FEFY and all three of these give you what is advertised, mostly providing some variety before they head to the next vehicle. And for that we have YEM and one with the ‘Beehive’ lyrics at that. The start is a bit rough with some feedback complicating matters but then they hit the Nirvana section and this one takes off nicely. Solid jam (including a nice quite jam section that precedes Trey’s solo and the rush to the end) and then onto the VJ which transitions into the first Ya Mar of the tour, back after almost a full year off to provide an ironic theme to a set played during a snowstorm. Odd to play this sunny, poolside number rather than directly reference the storm with something like Tweezer (“it’s gonna be cold cold cold cold cold cold”, or Mound (“ice is all he was made of”), It’s Ice (obvious), or even MMGAMOIO (“I freeze myself on fire then I burn myself on ice”). Eh, maybe that was too on the nose for them then. Things change though. Just check 12.27.2010 for one example. Then it is on to for Fish Fun Time which on this night is Terrapin. Nothing real special here unless you are into whale call vac solos but it does lead us to a solid highlight in Harry Hood. This one just pops from the start. It is fairly fast paced (with some fun “hoooooooood” lyric-ing before the jam that is clearly a nod to the group of fans that chanted for Hood and got us here in the first place) and they do not waste much time here as Trey gets to going on his solo before peaking it out nicely. He kinda knows his way around the guitar, I’ve been told.
And then we come to the closer. ah, my friend Harpua. First one of the year (of course) and a fun story about Jimmy watching the Super Bowl halftime. But before all of that Trey gives an update on the Fish Tour Bus Bet which is apparently up to $1000 at this point. Now we get the story with a little nod to Kerouac in the continued repetition of this tale and the music of MJ (Black and White) as Jimmy watches the Super Bowl halftime show which leads us to the confrontation we all know to love and hate. This one ends hilariously with Poster actually winning… before immediately having a heart attack and dying. The end. Cue the coda. Love it. Then we get the second Grace>GTBT encore of the tour and everyone is off to fight the snowstorm.
You can start to mark the trajectory more directly with this show. Things are starting to take shape with the band and they are communicating quite well here nine shows into the tour (only 62 more to go!! woooooo!!). They can turn on a dime and their exuberance in playing is evident even on the tapes. The biggest takeaways here are the Reba, Hood, and Maze (with the Harpua thrown on there as well for those who like that sort of thing. Like me). After the next night’s show at The Bob in Delaware there wouldn’t be a show in what can be considered “The Northeast” until late April after they had run a lap around the country in racking up another 48 shows over the 69 days until they hit Colgate University. Lots to look forward in between though!