Phish — The Moon — Tallahassee, FL 02.22.1993
I Rift, Guelah>Secret Language Instructions>Guelah, Poor Heart>Maze, Fee>Sparkle, Foam, Cavern, IDK>Bowie
II Jim, Ice>Uncle Pen, Tweezer>Glide, YEM, Oh Kee Pa>Llama, HYHU>Love You>HYHU, Coil, Reprise
E Grace, Fire
Riding the swell of the preceding Roxy Run, Phish descended into their first visit to the Sunshine State with a Monday night show that looks pretty good on paper and comes off well in places even in being the sixth night on stage in a row for the band. This first run of shows in Florida brought the band back down a bit in playing some bar-type venues rather than the small theaters and music halls that they had begun playing in the Northeast and some other choice markets for fans that had figured out this was a band to check out whenever they were within striking distance. On this particular night that change back to the bar scene was evident in some ways as Phish took on a relaxed tone that is evident in the interactions with the crowd, the energy of the music played, and in some of the choices made in putting together this setlist. Along with being the first ever Phish show in Florida there are a few other notable ‘firsts’ here, particularly in relation to the sound check which includes the first [known] Guy Forget and the first Nelly Kane (which would debut on stage in the very next show down the road in Orlando, albeit in an abbreviated form within Weekapaug but we will get to that in due time), not to mention the first Oh Kee Pa of this young tour popping up midway through the second set. There are some other fun things to note here as well so we might as well get moving on that.
The first set kicks off with Rift tonight and most if not all circulating copies of this show cut in towards the end of said Rift so there’s not much to talk about with this one except perhaps that it is only the fifth show-opening Rift to date in seventy performances of the song since its debut. Yet another second song first set Guelah is up next and right after Trey throws in a Secret Language signal (Simpson’s) during the intro he begins the interactive portion of the evening by giving a brief tutorial on the Secret Language. I’m not entirely sure why he chose this show to do it, but here we are. These abbreviated SL Instructions include the Simpson’s and Random Note signals (not to mention a ‘Call to Post’ tease) while also being the penultimate time Trey would ever take time to explain the Secret Language to a crowd in the live setting (the final one is just over a month later in Phoenix on 03.16.1993). From here they go back and complete Guelah before hitting up Poor Heart. This gives way to a pretty hot Maze that gives the band the chance to get things cooking a bit. Fee follows here (which is interesting considering the somewhat common pairing of Fee>Maze in this era — Fee has preceded Maze 21 times while it has followed Maze 12) before a quite frenzied Sparkle gets about as close to hitting the mythical Face Melting Sparkle (FMS) territory that many have sought over the years only to be left with disappointment. They get going so fast in the final minute that they have to actively slow down to reel it back in for the final refrain. A punchy Foam follows this before a straight to form Cavern and yet another IDK here in the latter part of the first set. This one has Fish on trombone and he gets a few new nicknames along the way (the Friar, Little John, etc.) before the trombone solo folds into intro of the the Bowie that will close of our first set proceedings. They rip through this version (you know it is ripping when they tease Maze) without forging too much new ground but it is a rocking close to this relatively short first set.
After the break they come out firing with an energetic Jim that shows some of the seeds of beginning to stretch out a bit though that is still a little bit off from here. Ice comes up next and really the most notable thing here is that this is now the fifth time this tour the two songs have been paired together (with all but one starting the second set). They would do this a few more times on this tour before moving on from the pattern but in total the two songs have been played in this sequence 22 times, 12 of which were to start a set). We get a quick run through Uncle Pen out of that Ice and then the familiar tones of Tweezer kick in, bringing us to the first opportunity for some open music of the set. This one has potential but stays in the rocking-bar-band vein before sliding effortlessly into Glide. The midset jam slot tonight is for YEM and this one is well executed (very nice Nirvana section and the jam feels like there are teases being made, particularly from Page) and has a fun VJ that has elements of ‘How Many More Times’, ‘Frankenstein’ (a song they had played ten times up to this point but not since 07.26.1991), and the ‘Theme from Jeopardy’. Well worth your time in checking that one out. That aforementioned first Oh Kee Pa of the year is next before a quite fast paced Llama and then it is Fish Fun Time once again. Tonight we have some hilarity with the “hateful” band intros preceding Love You. A lovely take on Squirming Coil brings things back to form before a nice Reprise closer finishes it off. The encores are Grace and Fire tonight.
This show exists in an interesting place for the band. They are clearly on the rise in terms of building the fanbase, having graduated up from the bars and small clubs they started in to small theaters and other similarly sized venues, particularly on their home turf in the northeast as well as in places like Colorado and California where they already had established themselves. But here on the first visit to Florida they are back to playing a glorified bar room (okay, it is a “night club”. big deal) for an undersold crowd on a Monday night. The venues and crowds seem to get better as they make their way through the five shows of this mini-run within the tour but it is still a bit of a step back to an establishment phase from where they were. The music doesn’t really suffer except in that they may not have gone as far afield in some cases and overall the show itself is worth the time for listening. I doubt this one or any of the others that follow here are going to be archival releases any time soon (maybe when Fish needs to start shelling out for college for all of those kids he went and had) but it is a fun spin. The takeaways are the Guelah>SLI>Guelah, Bowie, Tweezer (kind of, but keep in mind this one is mainly rocking and not too exploratory), the YEM, and maybe the HYHU>Love You>HYHU if for nothing else than some fun banter. As is always the case, you could be stuck listening to Nickelback or worse so even ‘just okay’ Phish is better than the alternative. No one really wants to listen to Nickelback so just enjoy this one for what it is and realize how lucky you would have considered yourself to have been able to catch such a show (and to brag about it now).
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