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.