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.