Doing Things Smart People Don’t Do – Arcata, CA 03.28.1993

Phish — East Gym, Humboldt State University — Arcata, CA 03.28.1993

I  Landlady, Funky Bitch, Sparkle, Melt, Lizards, Sloth, Maze, Fee>Ice, Lawn Boy, Antelope

II  Walk Away>Jim, Mound, Gin, BBJ, YEM>My Life As A Pez>YEM, Paul & Silas, HYHU>Love You>HYHU, Possum

E  Contact>BBFCFM

And then there was one last show in California. This one is a Sunday night affair from up in Humboldt and we have a lovely soundboard of it to enjoy as well. It is also the back end of a run of five straight shows but there really aren’t many signs of fatigue out of the band here. Sure, perhaps it isn’t as full of highlights as the previous few nights but it is a rollicking affair that is tease-heavy and includes a unique one-timer song not to mention a punny pairing in the second set.

The first set starts off innocently enough with a fun Landlady and then the third Funky Bitch of the tour pops up in the second slot. Nothing major here but it is one that’ll get the sleepy head moving. Another workmanlike speedy run through Sparkle then precedes the first jam of the night when Melt stops in for a version that has some unique tone from Trey, sounding a bit gravely and getting fairly close to some Mission Impossible phrasing for a bit. This one stays mainly in form and builds well to a satisfying peak. Then we get a double dip of the Hendge with Lizards and Sloth and at this point on the tape you start to notice just how forward Mike sounds tonight in comparison to those auds and you nod in appreciation for finally being able to hear everything he is doing. After the dirty business of Sloth they head into Maze and while the end is obviously led by rockstar Trey it is Page who shines brightest here when his turn is up. The sbd really helps with the separation here in again noticing what another player is doing and now you are wondering when that box set of all of the best Spring ’93 shows might be coming out and you laugh and realize that is still another ten to twenty years away at this rate since Fish’s kids still aren’t close to college-age. Fee, sans megaphone, gets us to Ice and here we again have a more pronounced presence from Page as his solo is a bit extended in a dark version that hints at some of the things this song will eventually become. Continuing the theme, Page gets the piano solo in the subsequent Lawn Boy which is fairly rare (and not something I think we’ve heard at all on this tour yet) before we head to the Antelope closer. And, oh boy, what a closer it would be. Things going sideways in a hurry as the ‘Fishin Hole’ whistling and teases start early in the intro and then, hey, are they? Yeah, they are definitely playing ‘Axel F’ around the 3:45 mark! Now, if you had gotten your hands on the soundcheck of this one you would know that along with a very captivating Wedge Jam groove clinic Page throws in a tease of that Harold Faltermeyer classic that Fish mistakenly thinks is from Ghostbusters so it was clearly something in the heads of the band that evening. There’s supposedly a Speed Racer tease in here too but either I missed it or that is a bit of a stretch and speaking of stretches, this Lope definitely does just that as they take a big departure from the song for a bit before bringing it all back in fine fashion and wrapping up this set so that the heads can recollect their marbles once more.

After the break we are treated to an odd pairing to start the second set with the second Walk Away of tour opening (which in and of itself is highly rare since along with having just come back after a long respite the song had only opened two 2nd sets ever and both way back in ’89) and that being followed by Runaway Jim. If you can’t see the obvious pun of these two songs being paired together then, well, let’s just leave it there. The Walk Away rocks as it should and then the Jim has a quite engaging jam that the band clearly enjoys considering Trey throws in a few “yeahs!” at the end as they bring it all home. It is clear they are gaining more and more comfort with adding new ideas to this song and come August they would really begin to play around with this one even more. Mound fills the three hole here before we get a then-somewhat-rare Gin (only the third of tour and oddly enough all are in second sets). This Gin goes places for a bit and is worth your time as a proto-gin-jam example. We still aren’t quite there yet with this song but the groundwork is being laid… Another BBJ>YEM pairing comes up next and early on in the YEM (like immediately post-Nirvana) it is clear this version isn’t racing towards the end as Trey steps to the mike and gives a little background before singing a clever little ditty called ‘My Life as a Pez’ which he attributes to old friend Dave Abrahams. It is definitely the sort of thing you’d expect Phish to sing and apparently came up because someone gave the band a bunch of Pez backstage. Ah, the fabled life of rockstars. They then slide right back into YEM for a pretty mellow version that has a nice enough jam and then a ‘Higher Ground’ tinged VJ which also includes some band nickname fun. P&S and Fish Fun Time for Love You get us to the night’s closer which is a quite captivating Possum (yeah, I know!) that has a slurry of McGrupp teases and a whole host of creative thoughts from Trey as he works a few things out here. I definitely recommend checking out this one. And then rather than your standard encore fare we have a double Mike dip with Contact>BBFCFM. Trey essentially dedicates Contact to someone as she travels out to Boston which is nice. Then in BBFCFM they have their usual fun while Mike throws in a bunch of ‘Leave it to Beaver’ teases for good measure. You know, just your standard crazy affair behind the Emerald Curtain.

So perhaps in the end this show is better than the sum of its parts. It isn’t going to be put on an all-timer list but top to bottom it is a solid show in the middle of the tour. At this, the end of the Cali Run, the band has now played 41 shows (the full tour is 71 shows or 73 if you count the two Laguna Seca Daze shows at the end of May) so they are more than half way along the path before they would have about six weeks off in advance of what would become a quite transformative summer tour. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. This show might seem as good as it is because of the high sound quality of the tapes available or maybe it is simply because they were hitting on all cylinders and clearly having a great time up there on stage. It comes through plainly here that this is the band in their element, playing to their people, with no concerns at all. It is the joyful exuberance and youthful energy of a band on the upswing and it is intoxicating in its own way. For this one I’ll say your takeaways are Melt, Maze, Antelope, and Possum and then the ones to secondarily check out are the Jim, Gin, and Yem>Pez>YEM if nothing else for the uniqueness of that one.

Off to Oregon next for a three pack of shows before points further north. First up is another tease-heavy show from Eugene that includes the debut of a cover Phish fans love to hear even though it is mainly tease fodder and has only really been played about four times ever.

Survey Says…

So I realize that I have been deep into the Spring 1993 Tour and that is all fine and dandy if you are into that aspect of Phishtory but there may be more to be had in discussing other shows and tours, for more than one reason. I am completely open to this and wanted to simply finish what I had started with Spring ’93 but there is a natural stopping point upcoming here with the end of the West Coast leg of tour as they took a week or so off in heading to the Midwest (and supposedly appearing at a music award show). In truth, this would offer me the opportunity to get a little distance from ’93 to keep that from getting too stale while also allowing for exploration into some of the evolution and big jamming of later tours. I still plan on finishing out the April and May sections of that Spring ’93 Tour but the diversion into other eras is enticing…

So what say you?

What should be the next tour to take on?

Any specific shows we want to get down and dirty with?

The Finest in the Nation – San Francisco, CA 03.27.1993

Phish – Warfield Theatre – San Francisco, CA 03.27.1993

I  Llama, Guelah, Rift, Stash, Reba, MFMF, Uncle Pen, Sample, IDK, Bowie

II  Buried Alive>Halley’s>Ice>Bouncin’, CDT, TMWSIY>Avenu Malkenu>TMWSIY>Mike’s>H2>Weekapaug, HYHU>Rosie>HYHU, Poor Heart>Golgi

E  Coil, Carolina

After that first night fun time show at the Warfield, the band was back at it again for a night full of highlights and big jams in a time when that wasn’t exactly the norm. Now, I say ‘big jams’ but that doesn’t mean some 20+ minute escapade into mindfunking space darkness or something because that is just crazy talk but there are several vehicles to be found on this night that have some extra stank on them, much like the highly lauded Roxy second night (but not in the segue/tease vein of that one). You’ll get what I mean as we go along here…

First up is a let’s-get-these-people-moving Llama and then that all-but-ubiquitous second slot Guelah. Rift slides into the three hole tonight and this one is crisp and energetic like a pull off of a freshly poured ::insert your favorite summer beverage here::  Next up is a rather straight forward but rocking Stash that doesn’t really go anywhere new but builds some fine T&R before the resolution. And then we have our girl Reba. If you do not know this version, I implore you to go spin it. The band is all on board for this one from the start, running through the composed section cleanly before patiently working through the jam, adding new ideas along the way and working towards a wonderful build and peak. Trey really shines in this one but listen to what Mike does too. Actually, you should know this version already so I’ll just move on here. If you are sooooo busy that you don’t have much time, at least check out the jam. Next up is MFMF (with acoustic intro, natch) then a quick run through Uncle Pen, that ‘new’ song Sample in a Jar, and the Trombone Greasy tinged IDK complete with the “message of love” solo. But that’s just getting us to a captivating set-closing Bowie that has some SL in the intro (All Fall Down), a little ATR tease, and a very patient-almost-plodding jam that eventually comes around to a solid peak that puts a nice exclamation point on this set. As far as first sets in ’93 go, you really can’t get much better than this one.

So then the second set starts up and you are thinking, sure, I guess it’ll be good but can they sustain it? And you would be correct in answering ‘yes’ because from the Buried Alive on it is another solid set that begs to be listened to all the way through. This Buried has some drawn out notes from Trey but is otherwise pretty standard before they pull out the second Comet of the tour (after its very long wait). This then gets to Ice>Bouncin and from here the set then starts to take off in earnest. First we have a fiery CDT that brings the energy level up several notches and then the ol’ TMWSIY>Avenu Malkenu>TMWSIY sandwich pops up to get the people really moving. That’s all nice and all but it is the Mike’s that follows that really takes this set above the board. For the most part, Mike’s Song at this stage is largely straight forwardly jammed with the tramps being a limiting factor on the band being able to open things up for a lot of its history since Trey and Mike were obviously focused as much on their choreography as anything musical. But on this night (and more as we go forward from here) the band starts to play with the theme – with Trey even doing some creative playing underneath the lyrics before they drop into the jam segment. But what you really want to listen for in this one is the proto-Simple-esque jam that emerges for a bit before they go into a full breakdown ahead of the transition into H2. The song is still more than a year from being debuted (at this venue, no less) but here you can plainly hear the rudimentary elements of what will become the classic Mike’s->Simple->Mike’s>H2 nugget we got so used to for quite some time. Go enjoy that why don’t you. And then after H2 we are treated to a very high energy Paug that goes into some ‘On Broadway’ jamming that then departs Paug fully for a bit before returning to resolve in fine fashion. This is elemental phish. This is the band firing on all cylinders, starting to push the boundaries of their catalog and coming through on the other side sticking the landing. As earlier Mike’s Grooves go, this one is a shining example of the form. And then after that is over we have Fish Fun Time for Rosie and a Poor Heart>Golgi pairing to close the show. A very purty Coil and Carolina are your encores — with Carolina having a little a cappella slow Suzy tease at the start similar to 02.21.1993 — and it is now off north to Arcata for the last Cali stop on this tour at Humboldt State before they would enter the PNW and Canada for a few shows and the end of the Western Run portion of the Spring Tour.

This show has a lot to take away from it from both sets and you could easily just hit play on the Llama and let it run right through if you have the time. But if not, focus on the Reba, Bowie, and the Mike’s Groove at the very least. If you want to expand that a tad just add in the Stash and Coil. Next up we get to hear a crapload of teases, some memorable jams, and that classic tune about everyone’s favorite chalky sweet candy that comes with the collectible heads.

Like She’s the Queen of the Town – San Francisco, CA 03.26.1993

Phish – Warfield Theatre – San Francisco, CA 03.26.1993

I  Maze, Sparkle, Foam, PYITE, Fee, ATR, Melt, Fluffhead>Divided, Cavern

II  Wilson>Jim>Mound, Tweezer, Horse>Silent, BBJ>YEM, Oh Kee Pa>Suzy, GGITS>HYHU, Reprise

E  Grace, Rocky Top

Following Santa Cruz, Phish settled in at The Warfield in San Francisco for a pair of weekend shows that have all of the earmarks of ’93 Phish. The first of these shows was the Friday night affair which was the second time the band played this venue after being here for a memorable show the previous spring (one that I recommend checking out as well). This being the 39th show of the tour the band is very loose and comfortable, taking their time throughout and engaging the crowd in various ways as is their way. So let’s dive in, shall we?

The first set starts off first with a little nod to one of Fish’s friends who is doing a cross country bike tour (from Seattle to DC) in support of AIDS research. Then we get one of those somewhat rare Maze openers that just kick off the energy so well, even with this version being somewhat short in comparison. Getting geeky, this is one of only 11 total show opening Mazes ever — and one of only 25 times it opened any set as it has never been encored oddly enough in almost 300 appearances. The subsequent Sparkle is kinda almost not quite but sorta of the FMS variety before we get a very clean run through Foam, as the band is now fully warmed up and raring to go. Next they cleanly take on PYITE which is something considering the shakiness of this tune over the course of this tour. Fee and ATR get us to the first true highlight of the show when they drop a breakneck speed Melt that stays primarily inside the sandbox. This is definitely one to check out though as Fish and Trey are going for it with aplomb. The balance of the set is largely what you’d expect out of Fluffhead>Divided, Cavern as the energy stays high and the band plays the crowd as they head into the break. This set is a lot of warm up fare but solid in its own right though there isn’t much to take away from a true highlight perspective.

That would change a bit in the second set though. After coming out hot with Wilson>Jim>Mound (and definitely check out the Fish rolls in the start of the Jim jam) they drop into Tweezer for the first biggish vehicle of the night. This one stays largely within the framework of the song but gets pretty crunchy and boisterous in doing so. They bring things down after this for Horse>Silent and Trey has a bit of an issue with the tuning on Horse but whatever. BBJ then gets us to the next highlight here which is YEM and this version is one of those ones you don’t hear a lot about but that stands up as a solid example of the band playing one of their prototype songs true to form. Honestly, when you think of the classic songs in the Phish canon and hear them played very well YEM is up there as one of the very best and this version is a very nice clean take in that vein. There is also some Mission Impossible phrasing to be found here if you like that sort of thing. Next up is that classic pairing of Oh Kee Pa>Suzy and for this one Good Time Suzy is on display, bringing her dancing shoes along for the ride. Then there’s the third ever Great Gig in the Sky for Fish Fun Time before the Reprise closer you’d expect here. Grace and Rocky Top are the encores and it is time to rest up for the next night.

This show is a top to bottom well played concert without a lot of big highlights but no real low points either. The band is playing with great energy and acumen at this stage of the tour and they are encountering crowds who are engaged in the music on a nightly basis. This show pales a tad in comparison to the one that follows – and perhaps that’s a bit due to the band’s settling in here for the weekend – but it is worth the listen, perhaps in tandem to its brother from the next night. Your takeaways here are the Melt, Tweezer, and YEM. Next up is the Saturday night hit parade from the same venue!

Stand Up On Your Heels And Call – Santa Cruz, CA 03.25.1993

Phish – Santa Cruz Civic Auditorium – Santa Cruz, CA 03.25.1993

I  CDT, Guelah, Ice, Possum, Bouncin’, Stash, Glide, Rift, Horn, Magilla>Antelope

II  Axilla>Curtain>Sample, Uncle Pen, Forbin’s>Mockingbird->Kung->Icculus>Mockingbird, Wedge, Mike’s>H2>Weekapaug, Golgi

E  MSO>BBJ, Adeline

For the last half of their California run in Spring ’93 Phish strung together shows on five straight nights with this Santa Cruz show being the second such show. This would be the biggest and final show the band would play in this town, having graduated from The Catalyst for shows in ’91 and ’92. As the band’s trajectory continued to climb they would stick closer to San Francisco and the larger venues to be found there so this show (and the entire spring run really) includes some of the last stops at these small but not quite tiny venues before the summer of ’93 opened things up and then it really took off in ’94. On this night, they would do their best to fill the 1,857 seats of the lovely Art Deco Civic Auditorium and those who attended were in for some phishy treats along the way.

Things get started well enough with a rocker CDT much in the mode of how they went in those days. This one just shows to go that they came out firing and ready to play. The subsequent Guelah is well played and received and then we have a fairly standard Ice that has an ever-so-slightly extended jam section but is totally in the box otherwise. Next up is a quick fierce Possum that starts off with some SL (Simpsons, Oom Pa). The very start of the jam itself has an almost BOTT-ish feel for a bit but then it goes rock show machine gun Trey and the crowd goes nuts for it as was the fashion then. Bouncin precedes the first big highlight of this show which is an engaging Stash where the band takes it out, building tension, brings it back to the main theme, takes it out to the ether again, and then brings it all home for some well-deserved resolution. Very punchy version worth the listen. Next up is a dedication to their tour gear truck driver, Terry, preceding Glide and then we have an energetic Rift and a nailed Horn. At this stage the set doesn’t really seem to be all that special but, hey, it’s Phish so here we go. Why not bust out Magilla after 114 shows throw in a Stash tease and some Yakety Sax action and really turn the heads, um, heads? Well, that wasn’t really a question or request because it is exactly what happened. And then they go from there into a seriously raging Antelope closer that has a little ‘Ob La Di, Ob La Da’ jam in the intro as well as more teasing of that in the build from Trey. That tease is notable considering it would come up a few times more with a full jam on it in Albany later that Spring as well as the obvious full performance with the White Album in Glens Falls for Halloween in 1994. Great peak to be found in this Lope as well. After that it is time to cool down and rehydrate for a bit.

So for the second set the band keeps the heat on, starting off with a triple play of Axilla>Curtain>Sample. Kinda of an odd trio but in terms of building energy at the start of the set you could do a lot worse. Uncle Pen fills the bluegrass role next and then we are back to Gamhendgery with another Forbin being dropped after only one show off from the Sacramento goings on. This one wouldn’t go the traditional route as Trey weaves a quite entertaining story about a magic glass of wine, the crowd’s blood being turned to carbonation (and they themselves being encased in a soda can that is the venue), and the ‘ritualistic riff’ which Mike plays, popping the top of the can and spraying the effervescent crowd into Gamehendge. Quite vivid. This leads to a very clean rendering of Mockingbird before Trey starts with the talking again and another stab of the ritualistic riff begets the words of Kung being recited as the crowd falls in spray/mist over Gamehendge (summarizing these stories is kinda odd the more I think about it…). Then as he concludes that aspect all of a sudden we are in Icculus for the first time in 119 shows (and the only time in ’93) before they come back to the end of Mockingbird to wrap it all up. This whole segment is worth the price of admission which was quite low relative to today’s going rates. From here we have the return (after 20 shows) of the “new” song [slow] Wedge which works well here even if it is still odd to hear the different time signature for this song. Then just when you thought we were headed towards the closing tunes they drop Mike’s (of course they do! It hadn’t been played the previous show, after all!) for a nice version that includes a bit of stop/start jamming and some verytinymaybealmost inklings of what would become the transition into Simple… but no we get H2. The Paug that arrives after this is a good one, with more ‘Ob La Di, Ob La Da’ (writing that song title gets a little old, I must say) teasing and a quality jam overall. Some will tell you (looking at you .com and .net) that there is a ‘Don’t Get Me Wrong’ (Pretenders) jam in here but I’ve now spun this several times and I’m not hearing it. Sure, there’s something in the breakdown section of the jam before they build to the end peak which I guess you could say is that song maybe… so it is probably just me. Interestingly, this is the second Pretenders song they have teased this tour so maybe they have a CD on the bus or something. After this we have a Golgi closer and a somewhat odd MSO>BBJ, Adeline encore to send everyone home.

Top to bottom, this is a fine fine example of ’93 Phish with the quality playing, high energy, secret language, teasing, bust outs, jamlets, and everything else that makes a Phish show what it is. You get pretty much the full spectrum here. My only regret is that I haven’t yet heard the soundcheck listed for this one which apparently includes a Wedge/Wolfman’s “mashup” (per .com), Have Mercy (with the ‘You can feel good about Hood’ chorus added in the end section, and the requisite Dog Log. Might have to track that baby down… Anyway, for takeaways, I’ll recommend the Possum (yes, I’m serious), Stash, Antelope, Forbin>Mock->Kung->Icculus>Mock, and the Mike’s Groove. That’s a lot from this one but worthwhile, I think. Enjoy.

Next up we have a two pack from The Warfield in San Francisco before the last show in California up in Arcata on the way to Oregon.