He’d Like to Brush You Off and I Agree – Santa Rosa, CA 03.24.1993

Phish – Luther Burbank Center for the Arts – Santa Rosa, CA 03.24.1993

I  Llama, Foam, Fee>Poor Heart, Maze, IDK, Sample, ATR, Jim, Grace, Cavern

II  Landlady>Melt, Sparkle>Tweezer>Mound, BBJ>FEFY, YEM, Horse>Silent, HYHU>Prison Joke>HYHU>Terrapin>HYHU, GTBT

E  Carolina, Coil

After a night off following the goings on of The Crest Theatre show in Sacramento the band would be some 75 miles west in Santa Rosa for the only time in the band’s history. This is the 37th show of the tour and the 6th (of ten) along the Cali portion of the tour which makes this the longest stretch in any state so far this tour. In some ways this show suffers a bit existing between that legendary Sacramento affair and the Santa Cruz show that follows (more on this to come, naturally) but it does have its moments…

The first set starts off with a ho hum white hot Llama, Foam pairing where we get warmed up and it is clear the band is ready to rock after the night off. Next up is Fee>Poor Heart and nothing special to note here except that Poor Heart still has the slightly extended end section (compared to the modern versions) and Fee did not have Trey on the megaphone. Maze fills the midset jammer slot and Trey takes his time, toying with the theme throughout while offering his typical shred in a version that stays close to home but engages nicely. Trombone “The Missing Link” Greasy takes his solo in the subsequent IDK and then Sample and ATR do what they do before a slightly extended Jim where Trey seems to be starting the process of drawing more out of this jam. It is wholly in bounds (i.e. ‘type I’) but rocking and pays off in the end. A somewhat oddly placed Grace fills the penultimate slot before Cavern starts up. Normally I just skip over talking about this tune entirely but this one has Trey playing some different phrasing throughout, working downward as he accompanies the lyrical section. Interesting and worth checking out for its variety. After that we have our setbreak as is typical and not ever the fifteen minutes that Trey loves to tell us it will be.

Second set kicks off with a bit of a shaky Landlady before the drop a second song Melt. Yeah. So this one is borrowing a bit from the previous version in Ventura and still not quite where it will get in a couple of weeks but Trey leads the band into frenzied waters, almost going off the rails completely more than once. This one begs to be explored more deeply but alas they come back to the Melt theme and we are on to Sparkle. Whoopee. But okay, that’s all right because we get a Tweezer next and while definitely in the box and not pushing any major boundaries this one relies on great tension-building before resolving into the old school meltdown ending. Maybe not an all timer but worth a spin. Mound, BBJ>FEFY follow from here – and just a quick note that the seemingly odd pairing of BBJ>FEFY has now happened four times this tour, which shows it clearly works for the band if not for anyone else. Next up is YEM and this one is… okay. The composed bits aren’t exactly nailed and the start of the jam seems to go nowhere but dang it if they don’t keep trying to push through and eventually they hit a tiny little bit of space at the peak that is worthwhile. But really this one is more notable for the VJ which is rather extended, has some ‘Under Pressure’ elements, and then arrives at the band all chanting “shut up” to the acquiescing crowd. Creepy. An acoustically meh Horse gets us to Silent and then it is Fish Fun Time where there is the request for the telling of the Prison Joke which Fish does not want to oblige. But rather than move on they bring a person up out of the crowd for the telling and it is exactly what you know the Prison Joke to be before they get to Terrapin. Assuming you know the Prison Joke, that is (I’m linking that one because it is shorter and “performed” by Fish. And let me just say that this has always been one of my favorite Fish Fun tunes since there actually is a bit of a lift in the playing from the band when he takes his vac solo. It’s a small thing but it does offer more than just the diseased wailings of the Electrolux Viking. From here we get a GTBT closer and then it is off to the encores for Carolina, Repri… hey wait! They didn’t play Reprise! They threw a [quite lovely, actually] Coil in there and left Reprise Nation hanging. And no, this one doesn’t come out in a subsequent show. It is just… not. there.

So the tale of the tape is that this one is a tad uneven but you do have a few things to spin if you are so inclined. The Jim, while slightly extended, is really not that different than other versions this month (excepting that quiet jam Jim from Redlands) so we will skip that but (and I can’t believe I am typing this) check out the Cavern. And then in the second set the Melt and Tweezer are your meat. If you have never heard the Prison Joke I suppose that is something to hear but your reaction will probably match that of the crowd.

Next up is the Thursday night show from Santa Cruz for the last time the band has played that lovely seaside town. There’s a bit more to chew on with this one as we will see.

A Lullaby The Breezes Whisper – Sacramento, CA 03.22.1993

Phish – Crest Theatre – Sacramento, CA 03.22.1993

I  CDT, Guelah, Uncle Pen, Stash, Bouncin’, Rift, Weigh>Reba, Sparkle>Bowie

II  Golgi, Ice>Lizards>Tela>Wilson>Bag>Forbin’s>Mockingbird>Sloth>McGrupp, Mike’s>H2>Weekapaug

E  Grace, Fire

The night after Ventura Phish would be well north in the state, some 330 miles up in Sacramento for a Monday night affair that none could expect to go down in phishtory quite in the way that it has. For this night would bring forth a Gamehendge set, the first since 1991 (193 shows) and one of only five full such sets in the band’s history. This is a somewhat debatable number considering our man Trey’s propensity to wax on the topic in that way he does but we’ll just go with it for now because there are much better things about which to argue than the relative number of times Trey has filled an entire set with his narrative fiction. What is definitely true is that there are only two full such Gamehendge sets that follow this one: 06.26.94 (as one half of the famed “GameHoist” show from WV) and 07.08.94 (emerging out of the uber rare NO2 at Great Woods). But this one from Sacramento might be one of the more famous ones due to the ubiquity of the tapes during those formative years for so many fans and how quickly and widely the news of this one spread amongst the heads. It was for this that people often clamored and shouted for that mythical set to be dropped on them only to be once again thwarted.

But before we get to all of that we have a very engaging first set to talk about that gets overshadowed by what went down after the break. The band came out firing, throwing down a fun romp of a CDT that gets the room moving before dropping that second song Guelah they loved to play so much back then. Uncle Pen steps into the third slot tonight before a rocking straight forward Stash surprisingly fills in the four hole. This one is not big on the jamming but high energy and goes with the T&R over the dissonance. The midset segment of Bouncin, Rift, and Weigh is all well played with nothing major to write home about before we get to our girl Reba. This one is nicely done with a bit of a plinko-ish, sparse section in the jam that precedes Trey elevating things towards the end peak. It is a nice alteration of the standard theme for this tune. Next we get a quick Sparkle before the set closing Bowie where Trey throws in some cool phrasing at the start while throwing in several SL cues (Simpsons, Oom Pa Pa, Random Note, All Fall Down) before they devote a lot of energy towards the construction of major T&R in heading to the top of the mountain. Good payoff with that in mind and we are headed to the break still none the wiser for what is coming.

So then the second set starts out innocently enough with Golgi and you are thinking “okay, should be a fun one I guess” before they drop into Ice and you think “yeah, okay, this could work. I wonder how the Mike’s Groove will be tonight…” but then right when they are supposed to go into the jam portion of Ice the band shifts slightly and Trey starts in with the narration over the Ice tempo and it is kinda like when you are watching pro wrestling and everything is going along fine enough but then OH MY GOD IS THAT WILSON’S ENTRANCE MUSIC??? (I think you know what I mean and if you don’t you are clearly not ‘Murican which is fine, of course, but probably has you a little confused right now). And clearly some people there know what is happening right away while it takes others quite some time to figure it out (like, maybe the whole set). I’ll be interested to hear from anyone who was there about the mindset of the crowd. So now we are cruising through the narration and Trey uses this to set up each song along the way including Lizards, Tela, Wilson, Bag, Forbin, Mockingbird, Sloth, and eventually McGrupp. Musically, it is all pretty straight forward as the focus is on imparting the story in toto but really nothing is lost here as it is all well played and moves along quite nicely as they intersperse the narration with the music in the way you would want if you happened to be in the crowd that night. Granted, if you knew nothing of this band and stopped in to check them out and this is what you experienced it might not be the thing that adheres you to them for life – or perhaps it would be – but that is another facet to this whole conversation. The one bit of oddity is that during McGrupp Fish hops on the Madonna washboard to accompany Page during his solo section. Perhaps he was sad he wasn’t getting Fish Fun Time that night. So after they wrap up the GH Suite (with Trey noting there are several other related songs) they start up that Mike’s we knew was coming. This one rocks a bit more than what was typical then which is nice and then after the H2 the Paug picks right back up for a rollicking finish to the set while staying in bounds the whole way. Grace and Fire provide the encores tonight and the crowd is left to discuss what they just experienced as they wander out into the night.

Okay, look, let’s just get this out there right away. There are a couple of different camps on shows like this. If you are in it for the music (i.e. the hetty jamz, yo) then perhaps this isn’t your cup of tea and you think the hype about The Crest Theatre Show make this one highly overrated. I get that and there is no denying this position. On the other hand you have the Gamehendge fanboys who laud this for being a shining example of one of the handful of times they have blessed us with the performance of this mythic performance art and we should all be so lucky to even have the opportunity to spin it again (not to say anything of the wonderful sbd out there in circulation, of course!).This view is also acceptable because let’s face it we are a collection of a wide array of different levels of band nerds and that is just one strata voicing their opinion from the top of Mt. Icculus ( ::insert nasally snort laugh here:: ). And then there are the middling folk who can possibly appreciate it to a certain degree but are maybe left wanting for one reason or another – and that view is perfectly valid as well.

I suppose the point is that this is a perfect show to showcase the wide range of opinion about this band of ours. You have the high energy, on point playing of the first set with a few jams of note followed by something so special and sought after by a certain segment of the crowd that it is still talked about more than 20 years after the last time that it happened. At this stage I’m not going out seeking a Gamehendge set but I do know that if I happen to be in the room when it happens I will be happy as hell to be a part of the experience. Which is not something every fan will say. So in the end I’ll tell you that should spin the Stash, Reba, and Bowie from the first set here along with the second set pretty much from Ice on (though at that point you might as well add in the Golgi because that’s only another 5 minutes of your life, right?).

After a night off the band would be in Santa Rosa for a Wednesday night show which includes the good ol’ Prison Joke, a hot Melt, and a mess of other somewhat messy stuff. Should be interesting to discuss…


Just a quick site update and plug for my new favorite place on these here intrawebz.

Recently, a couple of super phanner brothers put together a website to showcase the fantastic work they have done in focusing on the all killer no filler aspect of Phish that so many of us enjoy so much. This started out as a series of downloadable mixes with all of the jam segments from each tour going all the way back to that Spring 1993 tour I seem to have a thing for to where now you can go to this site and hear all that jam to your heart’s content. Yes I know that sentence is poorly constructed. I’m excited here. Give me a break.

The site is Phish Just Jams and I think you should just go ahead and dive in headfirst. Don’t worry, the jams are deep enough to catch you when you fall. It is pretty straightforward to use so just set the filters for the heart of the sun and go.

And just because I know the three of you who come here regularly (that is probably an exaggeration) are wondering why I bring this up it is that I am going to be peppering in some links to the jams from particular shows using this great resource to help highlight some of the more notable performances we come across going forward. In some cases I will link to the full song from a place like phish.in or phishtracks where appropriate but when discussing the evolution of the band’s musical explorations it is most appropriate to focus on the improvised sections of said music rather than the same composed and lyrical sections we hear over and over again.

Now let’s get to it!

Watch the Big Core Crack and Glow – Ventura, CA 03.21.1993

Phish – Ventura Theatre – Ventura, CA 03.21.1993

I  Maze, Sparkle, Sloth, Divided, Esther>ATR, Melt, Poor Heart, PYITE, Lawn Boy>Possum

II  Cup, MFMF>Rift>Tweezer>Ya Mar, Llama, YEM, MSO>BBJ, HYHU>Rosie>HYHU, Hood, Cavern

E  Monkey, Adeline, Reprise

So after a day off learning to surf (more on this later) and probably celebrating the vernal equinox with buxom blissed out hippie fairy nymphs in various states of undress and consciousness, the band was back at it in Ventura for a one night stand as they started to head north-ish during this run out west. Losing none of the momentum that got them here, the band seems almost re-energized by the increased amounts of vitamin D coursing through their bodies as they have now been exposed to the real live sun for more than a few fleeting moments here in what some will tell you is paradise comparatively. So yeah, the show.

First set gets going with one of my favorite atypical openers, Maze. Not one you are going to slot in there when you submit your picks to PT very often, is it? Well, it works quite well here particularly considering they nail it and give it the business a bit in doing so. Sparkle does what it does next followed by a dirty Sloth that feels like something is afoot. What these people don’t know is that this is kind of practice for the next night’s goings on but let’s keep that our secret, okay? Divided comes in next with a fairly clean version where Trey shines through clearly in charge of the largely composed number and Page throws in a Jeopardy tease along the way. A somewhat shaky though always welcome Esther is next (with Random Note SL) followed by a nice ATR. Now here’s where things get interesting as we get a Melt that is almost-but-not-quite-where-we-want-it-to-get-to version. By that I mean you can definitely hear them pushing it outside the box (and they go out there for a bit) but it still doesn’t quite hit the mark when put up next to that one we’ll hear a month from now. I like this version and it is worth your time but this is still a formative version in all truth. Poor Heart gets us to an almost nailed PYITE (they are getting there with this one by now) and then we get a little dedication from Trey to the guy who gave him some pointers while he was out learning to surf for the first time on their off day. So what song does the guy get? Lawn Boy. Woo. After that they rip up a rocking Possum closer and we are off to the beer line to chat about the set.

Second set they come out with energy, bringing the Cup out first for a very high octane version. Then Trey picks up the acoustic for the MFMF intro and eventually this one heads into a very melodic outro jam that (dare I say) has an almost ‘Doors-ish’ feel to it. Interesting version for certain with no Myfe ending (kinda like that last one from The Forum). This precedes Rift where you can tell they are really going for it as Trey nails his part and the rest of the band follows along quite nicely. This energy follows forthwith into Tweezer which doesn’t go anywhere new but is what I’ll call ‘power type I’ jamming in that they are staying in the box but gunning for it the whole time. That said, there is some tinkling around what could be considered ‘Walk this Way’ by Trey and a brief return to that ‘Sweet Emotion’ theme they hit at the Celebrity Theatre in Phoenix as they rock through this one. They bring it down slightly for a fun Ya Mar with Mike taking the vocal scat thing at the end and then go right back up again for a shreddy Llama. The apparent theme to this set is to see how much they can make everyone dance to the shred tunes, I suppose. So then they get into YEM which in this case is just an okay version considering the competition. Not bad at all, no sir. But it doesn’t really do much in all honesty. Next we have the schtick portion of the show with MSO>BBJ and then Fish Fun Time for Rosie this time out. After that you have to figure they are starting to make plans for the end of the night but they have one more biggish jam up their sleeves (or eyeball dresses as the case may be). Hood starts up innocently enough and seems like it is going true to form before Trey gets a bit of growl to his tone that he carries forward throughout the jam. This version is not like most of your peaky major key Hoods (which is not to say that it doesn’t peak out). Definitely one to go spin. I won’t over analyze it here. Cavern caps the set and then we have Monkey, Adeline, Reprise for the encores to get us moving up to “central” California and the capital city.

This is your prototypical energy show. Heck, it’s also a Sunday show and we know the mantra there. Being a Spring ’93 affair you don’t have big hetty jamz (yo) but it does have some meat to chew on and the playing overall is what you want out of the band at this stage. The takeaways from this one are the Melt (easily), MFMF, maybe Tweezer, and definitely the Hood. Not a bad Sunday night! Next up is a rather famous show from Sactown. Maybe you’ve heard of The Crest Theatre show? If not, what the heck are you doing with your life? Go spin it so you will be ready to discuss. Geez.

It Was the Loudest Thing I’d Ever Heard – Redlands, CA 03.19.1993

Phish – Greek Theatre – University of the Redlands, Redlands, CA 03.19.1993

I  Suzy>Llama, Foam, Bouncin’, Rift, Stash, Fluffhead>Cavern, Antelope

II  Jim, Ice, Uncle Pen, Sample, Lizards, Mike’s>H2>Weekapaug->HYHU>Love You>HYHU, Golgi

E  Grace, CDT

And so, one day prior to the vernal equinox which would then allow this tour to accurately be called The Spring Tour, Phish would take the stage for their first outdoor performance of the year at a smallish independent college in the eastern part of the LA market, ending a four night run of shows at the start of their California run (but which includes the one show in Arizona. Don’t want to foster any confusion with that poorly worded sentence there). This night would have some interesting issues for the band to contend with, as the overzealous campus security didn’t appreciate the volume of the music and repeatedly indicated as much to Paul at the soundboard. This caused the band to produce some rather unusual jams in response, playing sparser lines rather than filling the air with shred and cacophony.

But before all of that they got the crowd moving first with Suzy. A bouncy version, this one heads right into a rather shreddy Llama that might have perked up the ears of those white shirts for the first time. Foam kept things energetic with a straight forward but punchy version that would surely get even the most crotchety jaded phanner at least head bobbing. Bouncin’ and Rift are up next as we make our way to Stash where we have our first hints that things are a bit… different tonight. First Trey gets a bit bendy with his notes in the early part of the jam before the majority of the band drops out for a Fish drum/silent jam segment. It’s a bit odd, honestly. But then they take it up a few notches for Fluffhead>Cavern  and  it seems everything is back to normal, particularly by the time they take on the set-closing shred-ahead Antelope. In toto, this set is a lot of table setting with the band seemingly feeling things out a bit. The playing is fine enough but nothing really stands out here.

So it is with a little bit of surprise that when they come out for the second set and get into Jim things take a sideways turn once again, heading into somewhat open waters for perhaps the first time in that song’s somewhat lengthy history. This is not to say it was anywhere near the big time Fall ’95 versions or (obviously) Worcester ’97 but they go away from form here for a bit, finding a bit of <em>almost</em> ambient space (not the right word, particularly for the time period, but you will understand if you listen here). This pairs up nicely with the subsequent Ice which also heads into darker, sparser waters as they include a breakdown jam where Page throws in a Rhapsody in Blue (or Gin if you prefer) tease for good measure. Again, this is one of the first examples for <em>this</em> song that strays from the formula. After these two brief departures to open the set they hit the third song bluegrass slot for Uncle Pen and Fish is feeling feisty, throwing in barker comments like “hoedown!”, “grab your partner!” and “here we go now!” as he is apparently watching the dancing in the pit/moat in front. Trey even comments on the quality of dancing at the end of this one. Then they play the <b>sixth ever!</b> Sample before a lovely Lizards – which also includes a rather sparse take on the outro instrumental section. You have to wonder if these coincide with the appearance of security at the board, as each time they happen the band then brings out a bigger gun to follow. So that gets us to Mike’s for a fairly straight forward version that slides right into H2 and then a very interesting Paug that AGAIN has that minimalist breakdown jamming which in this case ends up being mainly Page and Fish with Mike and trey dropping out completely but not before Mike throws in a quick ‘Boulevard’ tease (the Jackson Browne song). They eventually get to a VJ that has some inklings of the moe. song ‘Yodelittle’ before it transitions fully into HYHU for Fish Fun Time and Love You. This one includes some extended banter (including Fish apologizing to Paul, perhaps about the continued security issues?) before they bring it back and on home for the set closing Golgi. Grace (with mics!) and a fiery CDT are your encores on this night and we have a night off to catch our breath before taking it up the coast to Ventura on Sunday.

Overall, this is a bit of an odd show that is helped by understanding the context of what was happening that night. For highlights I’d check out the Stash, Jim, Ice, and Paug if nothing else for their uniqueness and the Pen because it is pretty hilarious. Also, if you can grab a good source off of etree with the soundcheck, this one is high quality considering they do Dog Log->Heartbreaker, Misty Mountain Hop, Bang a Gong, and a Jam. It’s a good listen and was captured by tapers since it was an outdoor venue without much of a fence going prior to show time.

Persuasion Through His Thoughts Peruse — Hollywood, CA 03.18.1993

Phish — The Palace — Hollywood, CA 03.18.1993

I  CDT, Guelah, Rift, Fee->Maze, Forbin>Mockingbird>Sparkle>Horn, IDK>Bowie

II  MFMF, Poor Heart>Melt, Tela>YEM, Uncle Pen, BBJ, HYHU>IIOHAB>HYHU, Coil, Cavern


And then there’s the second night in Hollywood for a show that was only added after the first night sold out (good job, phans!). After a night plagued by sound problems, the band was back for another round on Thursday, bringing the energy to the crowd as much as they were getting it in return. This being the third show of four in a row the band was definitely in rhythm and the hijinks would be on display for this one as we will soon see.

CDT would kick off the night with a rocking version before Guelah filled its typical second slot role. Rift then gets the nod for the third slot and in this one you can really hear Fish pounding away with intent on an otherwise standard version. Fee is up next with Trey back on the megaphone this time and again it heads into Maze. The whole band is hitting it here but in particular Trey really goes off and Fish seems to be killing it which is always nice to hear. The fifth Forbin’s of tour comes next and this one provides a cool story about how the whole crowd is part of the first holographic phish show (you really need to hear it to understand…) amongst other items in a somewhat extended Storytime with Trey segment before a pretty well nailed Mockingbird. This precedes Sparkle and Horn which are both perfectly fine though not really notable at all as the FMS still eludes us. IDK brings out Trombone Greasy for a somewhat lengthy solo (and a bunch of nicknames from Trey) before we get the set ending Bowie. This one is worth the listen, starting with some SL (All Fall Down, Simpsons) in the intro and then it heads into some frenzied DEG territory during the jam before resolving in the Bowie fashion. Solid version for the time to be certain and a nice energetic cap to a pretty straight forward but entertaining set.

The second set would take things off in a different direction entirely as the band was definitely feeling their strange this evening. First up, Mike and Fish throw a little ‘Staying Alive’ tease out there and Page plays a bit of ‘Jimmy Olson’s Blues’ before the band gets into MFMF which ends up in a Drummer Boy theme (seemingly initiated by Mike here) that has the band chanting the Myfe section of the lyrics over the melody to Drummer Boy providing a sufficiently creepy resolution to the song. Notably, this was the first time they had broken into Drummer Boy since 12.06.1986 though it was teased on 05.23.1990 at the start of the first set. This is followed by Poor Heart where Trey throws in a MFMF quote and gets pretty amped on the “Cactus” callouts for good measure. Then we get to where things really start to get interesting. Second set Melts can be of many flavors and this one goes plaid in a hurry when Trey starts playing Staying Alive mid jam, throws in some Drummer Boy, and then cranks up the SHRED just to keep everyone honest. It might not be the mindfunker you expect of later versions but it’s memorable, that’s for certain… They come down from this with the second Tela of tour which is probably most notable for what will come just four days later in Sacramento (but let’s not get ahead of ourselves, shall we 😉 ). Actually, it is also notable for a quite lovely transition into YEM (and the last time the two songs have been paired as such). This YEM is pretty spirited, particularly with Mike leading the movement of the jam that evolves here that Trey then elevates which eventually gets to a quite energetic VJ. Uncle Pen, BBJ and Fish Fun Time for If I Only Had A Brain fill time before a quite beautifully played Coil takes the penultimate position in the set (seriously, this is a top notch one from Page) before Cavern closes things out. GTBT rocks the house in the encore and the band is ready to head east for their Friday night date in Redlands.

So of the two night stand here in Hollywood this is the more complete show, partially due to the lack of sound problems that persisted on that first night. The playing is loose yet tight in that ’93 way and the energy is high as the band runs through everything with ease and dexterity. Definitely check out the Forbin storytime, Bowie, MFMF, Melt, YEM, and perhaps the Coil here.

Next up is the one time the band played The Greek Theatre at the University of The Redlands in Redlands, CA. Cool looking little venue right there. And one where the band opened up a couple of tunes for the first time…

I Could Throw My Weight Around — Hollywood, CA 03.17.1993

Phish — The Palace — Hollywood, CA 03.17.1993

I  Landlady>Jim, Foam, Bouncin’, Stash, Grace, Paul & Silas>Ice>Oh Kee Pa>Suzy, Antelope

II  Axilla>Glide, Reba, JJLC, Mound, Mike’s>H2>Paug, Horse>Silent, HYHU>GGITS>HYHU, Golgi

E  Adeline, Rocky Top

Fresh off their Colorado run and the one off Tuesday night affair in Phoenix, Phish hopped over to Hollywood for a pair of shows at the Palace. These would be the only two times the band would play the venue (now named The Avalon Hollywood) and judging from the sound issues apparent the first night perhaps they decided to go elsewhere after this pair of shows. It would also be the first two-night run by the band at a West Coast venue, something that becomes more prevalent as the years progress. This spring run in California would produce some very memorable stuff out of the band which we will get to with this first show serving mainly  as table setting, though it does have its moments.

The show opens with a well played take on Landlady where the band shows up early as being ready to go. This carries over into Jim where Trey takes over for a trill-heavy solo as Mike and Fish thump along behind. The Mike bit is notable because it seems like he is higher in the mix in several of these Cali tapes — not too unlike the classic Spring ’92 shows which are so Mike forward it is almost jarring in its awesomeness with the best example being that oft traded tape from 04.16.1992 in Isla Vista — which is nice considering he is generally the lowest/missing element on older tapes. Foam takes the third spot here and it is a punchy and bright version where Page uses the baby grand to good effect and everyone contributes for an engaging version. The sound issues start to flare up here as it is apparent there is something not quite right between the board and the band. Bouncin gets us to Stash and this one is relatively straight forward but still highly energetic and on point, even with the sound issues impacting the early, composed section of the song at points. At the end of this they take a break from the electric stuff to give Paul the chance to address some of the sound issues and do a mid-set a cappella Grace to the delight of the crowd. Paul & Silas punches things up a bit and goes right into Ice which (while still straight ahead) has a nice little jam tacked on before they wrap it up and head into the third Oh Kee Pa of the tour. This precedes one of its typical dance partners, Suzy, who brings her boogie shoes out for a spirited version that surely got the crowd moving as she can. Then Antelope closes the frame with a not-especially-out-there but peaky version. Listen for a couple of teases here (Yakety Sax, Nellie — not to mention one section that really feels like it is headed into the theme from ‘The Munsters’ tv show). The band seems ready to rock on this Wednesday night but dealing with the sound issues may be impacting things a tad as this set is somewhat short in comparison to others of this time period.

So once setbreak is over they come out with fire in Axilla>Glide, where the more pronounced Mike can be heard making some nice contributions to Glide. Reba steps in for a visit and this one is okay at best with a fairly abbreviated jam section before they seem to abruptly end it, sans whistling. JJLC is next for its second time this tour and Page shines brightest here on both vocal and organ/piano, which is not to say Trey doesn’t do his thing too. Mound does what it does with some hot Mike action before we get that Mike’s Groove we knew would be coming tonight. Mike’s gets a little dirty for a bit but stays mainly contained — this song was just starting to really take off jamming-wise around this time where up to then it was Paug that was the primary focus on the Groove in getting weird — though the transition to H2 is a nice alteration on the norm. So it is no surprise then that the Paug is where the fun lies in this Groove as Trey folds in ‘Heartbreaker’ and ‘Living Loving Maid’ teases amidst a frenetic full band jam and then the band all latches on for a full Lively Up Yourself jam with Trey ‘leading’ the vocal lines. It’s quality. I recommend it. Horse>Silent (with acoustic Horse, of course) provides the breather next and then it is Fish Fun Time once again for “An Okay Gig in the Sky” before the Golgi closer. Encores are Adeline and Rocky Top here sending everyone off into the early spring night.

Overall this is a bit of an all-over-the-place show though the playing is pretty well good on all fronts, a few flubs here and there notwithstanding. Check out the Jim for a little extra stank (notable considering the very next one would be one of the first to really go for a longer walk) and the Mike’s Groove (especially Paug!). Tomorrow night’s show here once they have the sound more dialed and it is not a distraction provides a lot more heat to hear…

All Times and Seasons Are the Reasons — Phoenix, AZ 03.16.1993

Phish — Celebrity Theatre — Phoenix, AZ 03.16.1993

I  Adeline, Buried Alive>Poor Heart>Ice, Fee>Maze, IDK, Divided, HYHU>You Gotta See Mama Every Night, McGrupp, Cavern

II  MFMF, Curtain>Tweezer->Sweet Emotion Jam->Tweezer->Gin, Esther>Secret Language Instructions>Esther>CDT, YEM, HYHU>Bike, Lengthwise>Bike, HYHU, Lawn Boy>Llama, Grace

E  Sparkle>Reprise

After a night off for a little rest and travel the band is in Arizona for one night only as the tour rolls on its merry way. After the crispy sbd from the last set this show is a little jarring to hear, but there’s some quality to be found here amidst the hiss and crackle of tape generations gone by. Plus, this show was at a “theatre in the round” which is something I’ve always wanted to experience for Phish as no matter where you sit in this type of room you eventually get a great view of the band… or their backs as the case may be.

First set starts with the then-not-too-uncommon a cappella (un-mic’d) opener Adeline (in this instance so that the band could capitalize on the intimate room and the great acoustics therein) before Buried Alive storms in to get things going properly. This heads into a quickly paced Poor Heart and a pretty stock (though well played) Ice before we get our first left turn of the evening. Fee starts up and it seems normal enough until you realize Trey <em>isn’t</em> using the microphone, in fact he’s singing through the megaphone un-mic’d. The band backs off so that he can be heard here in a somewhat unique though otherwise straight forward version. This leads to a white hot Maze that stays in the box but definitely will get you doing that Maze thing, checking left and right to make sure you are still in the room and not in fact stuck in a maze. Don’t worry you are in the room. The maze is a macguffin. Phew. A brief IDK with an un-mic’d solo of some sort gets us to a real purty like Divided that the crowd gives great appreciation for at the end. Trey then mentions his grandmother being there in the crowd and we get some HYHU tinklings from Page as Trey’s grandfather takes the stage to lead the band through the Dixieland standard ‘You Gotta See Mama Every Night’ in honor of grandma. Everybody say “awwwwwwww”. Next up is Poss… hang on, Trey shuts down Fish on that intro to get the first McGrupp of the tour going (in honor of Page according to Trey but could have been a ) which, while a tad sloppy, is nice to hear as always before Cavern takes us to the break to discuss the merits of viewing Fish’s backside as part of the total experience.

Second set begins with MFMF and this one is getting darker and darker the more they play it. There’s no Eugene here but they are leaning that way before dropping into The Curtain>Tweezer (an always welcome pairing). The Curtain is fine enough but the Tweezer is where the meat lies in this pairing (naturally) as after a few minutes of chugging through the main theme they hit on ‘Sweet Emotion’ and take it in fully, including lyrics for a bit before returning to Tweezer for a slowed down end jam that never fully resolves before we are hit with Gin on the back end. This is a pre-open style Gin so it is largely straight forward though there are hints of what might be with this song here. It is interesting to note that they only played the song infrequently that year with 15 show gaps being the norm. In fact, after two more showings from this one it would be shelved for almost 30 shows before coming back in a big way in August with two consecutive versions that are worthy, notably including The Murat Gin which seems to have been the tipping point for the song in a lot of ways. But I digress… After this they get into Esther and as they typically throw SL here, Trey decides to lay out some instructions for the Random Note, Simpsons, and All Fall Down signals. This is actually the last known time he has done this so if you don’t know them by then, good luck I suppose. After taking us through the twisted tale of that poor poor lass, we get a rocking CDT that precedes a rather in-the-box YEM. Granted, we are comparing that somewhat to the one the show previous but still. Heck, they didn’t even VJ this one instead heading into HYHU. Fish Fun Time is next on the bill and here we get Bike and a crowd-initiated Lengthwise (briefly) before the Bike resolution. Then there’s a Lawn Boy with Page taking a solo on vocals before a shreddy Llama and a Grace closer just to bookend this one with a cappella tunes. Your encores are Sparkle and Reprise which is a nice pairing for getting people amped up before sending them off into the night.

Overall, this is a decent show with a few memorable highlights and what seems to be great band/crowd interaction on several levels. Definitely a loose feel here as they are clearly in the road way by now and closing in on the midpoint of this 71 show tour. I’d listen to the Tweezer->Sweet Emotion->Tweezer->Gin segment, maybe the YEM for the end jam, and Lawn Boy for the hilarity of it. Now we are off to California for a ten show run up to the Northwest for six shows and the end of this leg of the tour.

The Minutes Seem to Last a Lifetime — Gunnison, CO 03.14.1993

Phish — Paul Wright Gym, WSU — Gunnison, CO 03.14.1993

I  Cup>Foam, Guelah, Sparkle, Stash, Paul & Silas>Sample, Reba, PYITE>Jim

II  Halley’s>Bowie, Curtis Loew>YEM->Spooky Jam->YEM, Lifeboy, Rift, BBJ, GGITS>HYHU, Coil

E  Memories, Adeline, Golgi

Here on the back end of a three night run that had the band traipsing back and forth across Colorado we have a Sunday night show, the last Colorado show before they make the jump over to Arizona on the way towards the West Coast. Playing in the midst of a Spring snowstorm, this would be the band’s last time performing in the highest collegiate gym in the world (he he. that works on more than one level) as their next visit to this mountainous state would be for their first performance at Red Rocks during the much ballyhooed August leg of the upcoming summer tour. This is the 30th show of the tour over 39 days that have seen the band play in 14 states. I’ll detail some tour stats towards the end here today since I think they are somewhat telling at this stage of the game but let’s get into it, shall we?

First set kicks off with that new cover Loving Cup and by now they have it down to where the band and crowd are feeling what this song will be. That energy carries over into a spirited Foam where Trey plays some nice leads over the thumping rhythm section. This gives way to Guelah, Sparkle (non-FMS) and four songs in we have gotten the crowd up enough to hear them well on the aud. Notably, Foam and Guelah in the 2/3 holes is pretty common at this point in the tour so I think one could say that for the band these were definitely being used as ‘warm up’ tunes to a certain extent. Now we drop into Stash which stays mainly in the box for the first half before they ratchet things up towards a fierce jam that eventually comes back to the main theme in closing up. Definitely a version worth checking out. P&S>Sample gets us to Reba where things get a little bit loose considering they bring out Cameron McKinney after several callouts to him by Trey earlier in the set (he was their favorite child to have guest with the band, of course). There is a decent little jam here but it gets largely overshadowed by the kid’s inclusion as he does a little Indian War Dance solo on piano (which was also teased earlier on in the song by Trey) right before the whistling section and then joins in for the ending chorus. Check it out but don’t expect this to be a world burning version. PYITE is up next and this is another example of the band having found form on a song that just came back for this tour. Considering they still are rotating it with Landlady it is good to hear that they can shift towards the longer song and hit all the right spots. A rocking Jim closer sends the crowd to the setbreak with high hopes for a big second set as it is clear the band has come to play on this evening.

And with that second set things go big right from the start. First we get a massive bustout for a quite well played (all things reconsidered) Halley’s that had been waiting 474 shows between appearances. This is also the first time the song was ever performed without its writer, Richard “Nancy” Wright. There’s no outro jam or anything, but they get the energy muffin cooking from the start here. This heads straight away into Bowie and having this fill the second slot should be indication enough that things are going swimmingly. The jam here is pure T&R, staying mainly in the box but with Trey playing some evocative leads above the fray along the way. Another quality jam to add to the list here. Oh and next? Yeah, let’s just bust out another one from the way back with Curtis Loew popping in after 302 shows passed by. Again, nothing major here but considering the time between versions it is nice to hear them play it well. So that gets us to the meat of the set which is a major YEM the likes of which were talked about and traded as commodity back in the day. This one starts off well enough with a quite patient and pretty nirvana section before they head off into the jam. After a couple of minutes in the YEM box they go outside first for an ‘Owner of a Lonely Heart’ quote (with Trey throwing in a vocal), then some ‘Low Rider’ action, then a full ‘Spooky’ jam (with Page on vocals), all followed by a seamless run into ‘Oye Como Va’ before the short D&B gets us to the VJ. And we aren’t finished yet! First they drop a tease of the Pretenders’ tune ‘Mystery Achievement’ (you may not recognize the song’s name, but you will know it when you hear it) before getting to a ‘We Will Rock You’ chant and eventually a full quote of ‘Welcome to the Machine’ prior to the breakdown into madness that includes some spirited pirate banter. This was my favorite YEM for quite some time (and the last show one of my brothers hit before a 17 year gap that we closed in 2010… but that’s another story) so I know it very well and I implore you to give the full thing the listen if you don’t know it. You won’t be disappointed. Next we get a much deserved cool down with a beaut of a Lifeboy (only the third of tour and first in 26 shows), then a pretty well shredded Rift. BBJ will then get us to a debut with the first Great Gig in the Sky filling the Fish Fun time slot instead of the normal Syd Barrett and other light fare. This is a nice change of pace and well done in its hilarious fashion on the vac and includes the spoken lyrics before the main section. Page then tickles the ivories nicely for the Coil closer and we have a triple encore of Memories, Adeline, Golgi to take us into the thin, snowy air of the Colorado night.

Look, this isn’t the best show ever and it may not even make the top ten sets of Spring ’93 when it is all said and done but it makes a pretty good case for inclusion. That second set has everything one could hope for and more out of ’93 Phish including on point playing, high energy, antics, open jamming, bustouts, a debut, and more. And to think that they are still easily on the upswing with this tour just makes you shake your head and laugh. For highlights from this one I’ll say you should spin Stash, Reba, possibly PYITE>Jim, and pretty much the whole second set though you could take out the Rift, BBJ section since that is fairly standard. I guess you could leave out Halley’s and Curtis too but being the big bustouts they were, why not just let ‘em run, eh?

Now it is time to follow the lines headed… west… but while we are here let’s talk stats for a bit, okay? After 30 shows on this tour some noticeable patterns have taken shape in terms of song placement and choice. There are some songs that are clearly being played quite frequently as [leaving out HYHU] there are eight songs that have been played in at least half of the shows: BBJ (22), Grace (20), Rift (20), Poor Heart (19), Sparkle (16), Stash (16), YEM (16), and Llama (15). Another 21 songs have been played more than 10 times so it is clear that the rotation is relatively tight which stands to reason considering this tour is essentially supporting the release of Rift which came out the day before the tour began. In total there have been 112 songs played with 12 debuts (I’m not counting ‘jams’ such as the .net identified ‘Spooky Jam’ in this show’s YEM) which is a pretty good rate there. In terms of some of those patterns, the easiest place to look is at openers/closers/encores. For show openers, the songs are fairly evenly spread out with Golgi the leader at only 6 shows opened. For openers it has been more about stringing together 3-4 solid energy songs to get the crowd moving and allow the band to warm up before heading into jammier waters. First set closers are more telling with Antelope (11) and Bowie (9) being very far ahead of everything else. Second set openers are all over the place with Axilla and Jim each having 5 to their name to lead the way. Show closers are a bit surprising with Reprise (7) holding first and Grace in second (5) after which it becomes muddled. And then not surprisingly the a cappella tunes rule the encores with Grace (13) in the lead over Adeline (7). Maybe this minutiae is only interesting to me, but it is telling when you go through an entire tour to start to see these patterns emerge as it all unfolds.

So that’s the story here. One thing to note is that most sources out there for this one have an aud for the first set and then an sbd for the second which is quite nice. Enjoy this one and we’ll be back shortly with more from AZ…

When the Wind Tries to Shove You — Boulder, CO 03.13.1993

Phish — Balch Fieldhouse, CU — Boulder, CO 03.13.1993

Up the mountain, down the mountain. Friday night with the apres ski crowd, Saturday night with the apres school crowd. After a few days off here we have the middle night of a three night run zig zagging hither and yon across a quite windy state what with all the topography one encounters there. Not sure who planned that routing but some would say that person should be shot. But the band persevered and here on the middle night they again brought their brand of youthful energy and dexterous playing to the faithful, the willing-to-be-converted, the partiers, the hangers on, and the other assorted riff raff willing to pay the fare that evening.

The first set begins in fine fashion with a quite punchy (ha) Landlady before the second Funky Bitch of the tour pops in to rock the masses before Bouncin out of there. Maze comes in flying with a few twists and turns but nothing we haven’t seen before or wouldn’t expect. Fee>ATR fills time next and let me just say I really miss ATR, particularly a cleanly played version such as this one.  Next up is a mini mind Melt(er) that <em>almost</em> goes somewhere before a rather oddly placed mid set Contact which is undoubtedly a dig at the routing for this little Colorado run. Llama rips par usual before we get a quite unique Wilson that begets our first true highlight of the night. The entire thing is slower than normal (even for this time) and the massive power chords are switched out for a much more subdued vibe that just seems to work somehow. Along with a Simpsons signal there’s a bit of Who (Getting’ In Tune) flavoring from Mike to be found here which is nice. Towards the end it almost feels like they are about to go into Hydrogen before they finally get to the “blap boom” bit. This leads right into a hot Lope with a decent jam (and another Simpsons SL signal) that doesn’t exactly take off but provides a nice capper for the set, after which Trey tells that really funny joke about the band coming back in about fifteen minutes. Right. I’ll set my alarm for that, Trza.

Fun time Suzy is hot to trot at the start of the second set, getting those crazy kids dancing once more. She leads us to Tweezer and you’d think we are now off to the races but nothing really materializes as it stays in bounds the whole way, darn it. A fine and dandy Lizards then precedes a fairly standard Ice>Glide segment, getting us to Pen, BBJ which is nice to get out of the way. Honestly, I think after the first time I saw BBJ I realized it only works as a gag a couple of times before most people say, “okay, we get it. this is a direct nod to the band/crowd interaction that is so integral to your shows. Let’s just move on to the real connection to be found within the wonderful music y’all play, mm’kay?” The fun now starts as Mike’s cranks up and Mike spouts off about it being “his song” and gives a dedication to Cilla. The band takes a nice short jam here before the requisite drop into H2 but then the fireworks are on display for a very fine Paug with an extended jam, some My Girl inklings, and a rather large finish. As a bit of an aside here, this tune has become one of the more reliable vehicles on this tour, consistently providing an opportunity for the band to flex a bit both inside and outside of the structure. Here in 3.0 the song has become more of a punctuation mark than a vehicle so it is interesting to hear the evolution of the song as compares to others that went from straightforward tunes to more open vehicles (like Gin, DWD, and others). Paug’s evolution has gone the opposite direction which is not necessarily a bad thing considering the plethora of options they now have to stretch things on on a nightly basis while back in this era they had a relatively smaller repertoire and were really just starting to open things up in that way that we have become accustomed to and crave so mightily. I think you understand my meaning there. Anyway, after that FEFY tugs at the strings of our proverbial hearts next before the Fish Fun Time for Love You and then a rousing Reprise closer. MSO, Grace, BBFCFM encores and it is back up the mountain to Gunnison we go for one of those Sunday shows people seem to talk about not skipping.

As with most of these, we again have a rocking energy show light on the big takeaway jams but another good representation of where the band stood at this stage of the tour. And I didn’t even point out that Fish wore a coat and tie for this show for some reason. Well, I guess I just did. Anyway, from this one I would spin the Melt, Wilson>Lope, and the Mike’s>H2>Paug. Now get ready for a show with some serious jam highlights.