Phish — The Edge Nightclub — Orlando, FL 02.23.1993
I Golgi, MFMF>Rift, Bouncin’, Melt, Reba, Lawn Boy, CDT, Wedge, Paul & Silas>Antelope
II Axilla, MSO, Stash->Lizards, PYITE>ATR, Mike’s>H2>Weekapaug->Nelly Kane->Weekapaug>HYHU>Terrapin>HYHU, Possum
E Adeline, Poor Heart
If you were an up and coming band on a big tour and you hit a town you had never played before for your seventh show in as many days and on Mardi Gras, there is a good chance that you might have a bit of an interesting night. Your energy at being in a new town and on a night where people like to party might be just enough to help you overcome the fatigue setting in at the tail end of this longest run of shows to date on the tour (which is not saying much considering they had already played a couple of five night strings). Or maybe you ride the momentum of the crowd and the overall vibe of the nightclub within which you are playing and find what you can in the music you make… which is pretty much what we get here: a somewhat uneven show with some really high highs and some other stuff that isn’t quite there. In the end it is a Phish show though, so no matter what we will find something to discuss amiright?
Things get going with a Golgi opener and a fun MFMF>Rift pairing before we go Bouncin’. None of these is overly notable (well, MFMF had the acoustic intro but that was par at this time so I’m not sure why I am even mentioning it again) but they do their job in getting the room moving before the real fun starts. Next up is a pretty maniacal Melt that has some quite evil sounding cackling from the band as well as a proto-Melt jam that hints at where this song is headed in a couple of months when the “aha” moment hits and everything changes for the band in performing this tune (don’t worry, we will spend ample time dissecting that). They then go into Reba, pairing up these two lovely vehicles for the last time, well, ever. Reba has preceded Melt twice (11.02.1989 and 03.29.1991) and Melt has preceded Reba twice as well (12.28.1992 and this show). I suppose it shouldn’t be expected for two of their more reliable second tier vehicles to be paired together but you would think that over the years (especially back then) it would have happened more often. Whatever the count, this pairing works as they go from the dark and dirty grime of Melt to the uplifting, floaty jam of Reba. Next up is Lawn Boy which again has the Trey solo tonight and afterward Page thanks the crowd and dedicates the song to this Orlando crowd. They bring things back up for a rocking CDT before a bouncy take on the [slow] Wedge. This song is starting to find its form but is still now quite the version we know today even with a little extra Page in the gravy on this one. Paul and Silas (with Trey calling out to Page to highlight his solo) runs right into the set closing Antelope you could see coming a mile away and this one has some SL (Simpsons, All Fall Down), a supposed ‘The Price of Love’ tease (it could be the Everly Brothers song or the Bad English song but… ok, it’s the Everly Brothers song but that gave me the chance to link that crappy hair band tune so there!), along with one of the earlier instances of Trey telling the crowd not to do anything they wouldn’t do before hitting the break. Now there’s time to talk about what Disney rides everyone will enjoy the next day on the off day as we wait for the band to come back. Incidentally, the band did go to Disney the next day and, man, would I love to see the pictures from that one!
After the break the band comes out firing with Axilla and MSO, using the two quick energy numbers to get everyone moving again. MSO again has Trey giving Page the solo callout in a quite speedy rendition of the tune. We then get our first vehicle of the second set with Stash and this one has an early example of what will become known as Trey’s “Jedi Speak” jamming where he intones along with the music along with a somewhat different overall feel as it kind of hints towards where Wedge will end up before they move on (there is also a HYHU tease in here). This Stash is also the fifth one of the tour to be paired with Lizards (out of the nine total in eighteen shows) and the third one where the song goes unfinished into that bit of Gamehendgery. The Lizards here is nice enough without much to mention before they move on to another ‘Hendge tune in PYITE which on this night is still a tad sloppy in the execution though still well received. A quick ATR bridges us to the expected Mike’s Groove we knew was coming but it is a bit different tonight. The Mike’s Song is pretty well straight forward but then we have a bustout of sorts with the lyrics to H2 being performed (“I walk awakening on the misty fields of forever” if you didn’t know it from the post title) for the first time since 1990 (the exact date is debatable as .net shows the 11.26.1990 show from Ithaca as having it while .com notes the 10.05.1990 show from Saratoga Springs as being the last). The last one appears to have been 04.21.1994 in Winston-Salem, NC in the midst of a quite solid Mike’s Groove but that is another conversation entirely. After that lyrical addition the H2 itself is a little rough but it does its job in getting us to Weekapaug and this one has a surprise of its own in store. About midway through after getting to the jam part they go into what will be the debut of Nellie Kane. It isn’t a full version but it is there and now we have another ‘bluegrass slot’ tune to add to the rotation. They bring things back to Weekapaug to wrap up this Groove but end up seguing right into HYHU for Fish Fun Time. Tonight that means a lot of banter, a bevy of Fish nicknames (really these are in the space between the closing HYHU and the start of Possum but whatever), and a relaxed take on Terrapin. Next up is the closer Possum (not bad but nothing great here either) before the Adeline (mic’d up tonight!) and Poor Heart encores send everyone off into the Mickey Mouse night.
One of the first things you notice about this show is the high number of grassy tunes in the setlist, more than what would be typical of this era before the mini-stage and Rev. Mosier tour stuff where several grassier songs might get played each night. In fact, of the seven “bluegrass” songs they had played on stage to this point four are here (Paul & Silas, My Sweet One, Nellie Kane in its debut, and Poor Heart) and the other three had been played recently (Pig in a Pen got debuted with Rev. Mosier two shows prior, Uncle Pen was played last night, and Rocky Top was [obviously] played in Knoxville a few nights before that). The only other potential bluegrass song in their entire history up to this night is only noted as “bluegrass” on the setlist for 09.27.1985 (Page’s second show with the band!) in what appears to be a setlist taken from someone’s notes. And since that tape is not readily in circulation we are left to assume it is either one of the songs above or something we will never know about until that tape pops up. In truth the tape is out there as the .com notes for that show talk about tape flips and such but I have yet to hear it. So where was I going with this again? Oh yeah. I think it is notable that these grassy tunes are all coming out right after the Rev. Jeff Mosier sit-in as it points to the interest the band had in expanding their repertoire to include more of this music, culminating in that Fall ’94 mini-tour he did with the band. Yet another example of the band wearing their influences on their sleeve. The fact that they are/were so adept as to be able to fold the grassy side of things directly into one of their bigger (at the time) rocking vehicles says a lot about how they sought to incorporate this ‘old timey’ music into their sound. And in wrapping this all up I’ll say your highlight takeaways from this night are that Mike’s Groove (particularly the H2 and beyond), Melt, Reba, and maybe the Antelope. Not bad for the back end of seven in a row.
Next up for the band is that day off to explore Disney World before continuing to follow those southward leaning lines to Miami for a night that includes a Mimi Fishman appearance and much much more.