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.

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