Phish — The Cameo Theatre — Miami Beach, FL 02.25.1993
I Buried Alive>Poor Heart>Cavern, Maze, Forbin’s>Mockingbird>Rift, Stash, Bouncin’, IDK, Bowie
II Suzy>Ice>Sparkle>Wilson>YEM, Uncle Pen, BBJ>FEFY>HYHU>IIOHAB>HYHU, Golgi>BBFCFM
E Grace, GTBT
After taking a night off to enjoy Wally World and get down to the tip of Florida, the band finds themselves in Miami Beach for a show at a venue that maaaaaaay be a little different now than it was BITD considering it was once a place to catch hardcore and punk acts before transitioning to a disco night club in the 90s. Now it is apparently… something else… what with the stripper poles, DJs, and such. But for one night in the early 90s this was a venue that hosted Phish and I’m here to dive into what happened that night so let’s just get to it already, okay?
Before we get too far along here I’ll just get it out there that the available recordings that circulate for this show are really not that great. Basically you get a Frankenstein of patched sources (unfortunately this does not mean they played Frank that night though) with some jump cuts, tape flips, and whatnot thrown in there to keep you on your toes. We get this right from the start with the opener Buried Alive which fades in not too far from the start of the song. Nothing special here as we head into Poor Heart and Cavern with this three pack of tunes to get the crowd moving. The Maze that follows seems to wake Trey up as he tears apart his solo quite effectively. Forbin’s>Mockingbird fills the meat of the set after that and the story is quite lovely with a big wave (the biggest surf wave ever!) carrying the crowd (with their feet planted firmly on the floor) to Gamehendge. Page teases the theme to Gilligan’s Island and Trey adds in some hurried detail about GH, noting that there will be a quiz at the end but I’m still waiting for that quiz and all of the other ones from other shows where he has mentioned this so what gives, Trza? Where’s the follow through on that? C’mon, man. Maybe that’s why mainstream never took these guys seriously. What’s that? Oh. Right. Trey moves on from this (as I clearly should have) to nail the end solo in Mockingbird and then the band pretty well nails Rift which by this point they should considering this is the 12th Rift in 19 shows. Next up we have Stash and this one stays mainly in the box during its compact course, being more of the punchy clean variety with a nice peak rather than going into deeper waters. I know I already covered this but there is an absolutely brutal tape cut at the end here that kind of throws one off for a sec. It is a little unnerving, frankly, but we will get by. We will survive. After a standard Bouncin’ we have IDK which gives us a whole host of Fish nicknames from Trey, the trombone solo, and our first indication that Fish needs to be on his better behavior since Trey notes his parents’ presence in the crowd. This brings us to the Bowie first set closer which includes a full nod to Fish’s parents being in the room, some SL (Oom Pa Pa, Simpsons), and a full band tease of the theme to Jeopardy before they head into a solid jam that builds to the end peak quite well. After that we are left to wonder about how different the crowd for some of those classic shows in the late 80s here were from the one in the venue this night and to wonder what they would have thought of these moheads from Vermont.
Right about when we have finally begun to grasp that hetty concept the band comes back for the second frame, kicking it off with a five song sequence of Suzy>Ice>Sparkle>Wilson>YEM. Those first four are about what you’d expect though the Wilson does have some SL (Random Note) and a bit of an extended end section (for the era)… but let’s just move on to the YEM, okay? The composed section is fine enough but then Trey takes charge and elevates the jam segment before they head into a VJ that includes the typical for this tour ‘choir’ ending. After a pretty rough Uncle Pen we have the odd pair of BBJ>FEFY which occurred more than seems correct but for our purposes doesn’t really demand much conversation about that. This brings us to Fish Fun Time and tonight we are treated to a special guest as Mimi Fishman graces the stage for her sixth ever guest vac appearance. I suppose if you make the drive from Syracuse to southern Florida to see your boy’s weirdo band perform at some small club they let you help out with the non-traditional music instrument section of the show. Knowing that Mimi apparently really loved doing this just makes the fact that Fish uses a vacuum that much funnier somehow because you know they had some epic vac jam sessions together. Mother son bonding is amazing stuff. Everyone say “aaaaaawww” now. A quick dip Golgi and a raucous BBFCFM closer take us to yet another Grace, GTBT encore pairing (third already this tour!) and we are off into the Art Deco night to enjoy the sea breezes and people watching of Miami Beach.
This is a fairly uneven show with a few rough patches in a couple of songs but the Maze, Bowie, and YEM (particularly the jam segment) are all worthwhile. These first Florida shows must have been odd considering that they went from playing theaters in the Northeast to some college venues in the MidSouth to The Roxy run to these small clubs which is quite the change of scenery in only a week or so. There is definitely a lot looser feel to some of these shows but when they connect it really doesn’t matter what size the room is. And while they didn’t always connect I feel comfortable in saying that on a nightly basis they found enough points of connection to be able to further develop their sound while also growing the fanbase seemingly one blown mind at a time.