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.