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.