I Stumble Into View — Miami Beach, FL 02.25.1993

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.

I Walk Awakening on the Misty Fields of Forever — Orlando, FL 02.23.1993

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.

All My Plastic Melodreams — Tallahassee, FL 02.22.1993

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).