Phish — Dobson Family Arena — Vail, CO 03.12.1993
I Buried Alive>Poor Heart>Cavern>Possum, Guelah, Rift, Stash, Fluffhead>Horse>Silent>Bowie
II Bag, MFMF, Sparkle, YEM, Mound, BBJ, CDT, HYHU>Lengthwise>HYHU, Hood, Golgi
E Adeline, Carolina, Rocky Top
So after a few days off to regain their health, catch their breath, and perhaps get a bit of skiing in (they totally did) the boys are now up in Vail at Dobson Arena. If you have never been to this venue before it is essentially the town skating rink where they have open skate, various hockey leagues, horse shows, all sorts of events, and of course concerts. I never saw the phish there since I got to CO well past the time when they could fit this size room but I enjoyed more than a few shows here. It is a decent place to see a show (with a capacity of around 2,500), particularly in the winter and has the benefit of a wide open floor, being a hockey rink and all. Anyway, on this night phish would take the stage for a show pretty loose and full of teases but clearly high on energy and intent as was the norm on that path in Spring ’93.
The first set kicks off admirably with another Buried Alive opener, our eighth such opener of the tour and ninth overall Buried of the year (can you imagine??). This one is white hot and leads right into a fast-paced Poor Heart that still has that extra lap to the end solo. From here they head right into Cavern and I am shocked to hear myself write it but this one is at least engaging as Trey seems to be starting to work on his ‘jedi speak’ (something we would get to know a lot better later in this year but really in the open psych of ’94 Bowies and such). Again, they head right into another tune, this time Possum which while expected is pretty fiery as well, showing once more the energy the band has brought on this night. Guelah (with Simpsons SL) provides a bit of a breather in a nicely played version (outside of its standard second song of the set slot) that includes a ‘Lively Up Yourself’ tease before Rift gives us what we expect out of the tune in its 19th appearance of the tour — only Poor Heart matches it at this point without also counting HYHU (26) and BBJ (20). This is followed by Stash which stays mainly in the box except for the last minute or so where they essentially devolve the song in bringing it back to the ending. It is a nice departure from the norm. I like it and would subscribe to its newsletter. Then comes Fluffhead and this one is pretty well okay with a few rough patches but somewhat notable in that Trey picks up the acoustic for the end, allowing him to transition right into… Horse! Yay? So, yeah, Horse>Silent gets us to the set closing Bowie which has something to say before it is time to load up on the nachos and beer, you stoner. In the intro there is a bit of SL (Random Note) as well as a slight tease of the end of Silent as they transition into the Fish intro. Then once things get going we get a Popeye tease, a Jeopardy tease, and a nice little action packed shred psych jam packaged up for easy consumption. This is what your typically out there ’93 Bowie sounds like in case you were wondering. Now go get those nachos!
Setbreak ends and apparently (according to the show notes on both .net and .com) there were a bunch of kooky kids up front with brown paper bags over their heads with ‘AC/DC’ written on them in an effort to get the band to play that classic and [then rare] number The AC/DC Bag. Remember, the song had only just been played on this tour once after being on the shelf for over 150 shows and here it had been 14 shows since that one bustout (which is a lot of shows between songs on this tour, quite frankly). The cliché of putting bags on your heads to get a band to play a song based on a bunch of clichés is quite ironic, don’t you think? So they do and it rips (with Page even teasing the old intro a bit) before they head into MFMF (and Trey again picking up the acoustic for the intro here). The notable thing here is that in the end as they are heading towards the “myfe” section they catch on ‘Careful with that Axe, Eugene’ for a bit. The missed opportunity is that they could have capped it with the ending peak to THAT song but instead it fizzles into the MFMF ending instead. Sparkle comes next (still no FMS) and then we get YEM which ends up being a quite nice version. There’s some Low Rider flavorings, the ‘Beehive’ lyrics are referenced by Trey, and an interesting VJ (if that can be said) but really just stick around for Trey’s solo as he goes off for a bit in that way he can. Mound, BBJ gets us to a rocking CDT (are there any other sort at this stage?) before Fish Fun Time for Lengthwise. Then there’s a nice Hood with nothing really special to mention before the Golgi closer. Adeline, Carolina, Rocky Top are your encores and we are off to Boulder.
So overall this one is not bad by any means but definitely suffers in comparison to the shows that surround it. The energy is there, the band is playing well, and the crowd is clearly willing but there just aren’t any jams here that make you want to spin this one time and again. There are a few nuggets that I like and maybe one or two things that would make the first draft of the Spring Tour 93 Highlights Extravaganza Playlist Extraordinaire* but really this show is probably one we won’t talk about much going forward. Takeaways? Spin the Stash (maybe), Bowie, MFMF, YEM.
Next up is a Saturday night special from CU and we all know those kids were probably studying so clearly there wasn’t much energy or a crowd to speak of that night. Heck, maybe some of the band would even wear semi-formal wear to match the prevailing attitudes of the conservative crowd here. I’m sure it will be a quite dull write-up.
*yeah, I’ll do it but not until I finish up working through the whole tour