I Chase the Backbeat – Tallahassee, FL 10.29.1996

Phish — Leon County Civic Center — Tallahassee, FL 10.29.1996

I  CDT, Guelah, CTB, Taste, Bouncin’, Stash, Train Song, Billy Breathes, Poor Heart>Bowie

II  Rift>Mike’s>Horse>Silent, Paug, Wedge, Zero, Suspicious Minds>HYHU, Slave, HMB



As fans of this band, we kind of have this reputation for being a bit obsessive and complete-ist with regards to our appetite for the music they have produced over the years. I know I know. That’s just a bit of an understatement. We can recite setlists, know show dates based on a particular run of songs, have websites (and apps) devoted to letting you know how many times you saw them play Bouncin’ in 1994, refer to infographics about song rotation, track the timing of when tour dates drop, endlessly argue over which version of a song is the best or what year is the best or whether Mike should wear scarves or is Page hitting the sandwiches too hard again or can Fish really support all of those kids or whether people should be allowed to ‘woo’ and so much more useless shit, search endlessly for teases/quotes, blather on incessantly to the twitters about so many stupid things about our scene and the band, and much much more. I haven’t even touched the taper minutiae, PT, PhishTwitters and a lot of other typical goings on in this weird world of ours. Heck, we have a deserved reputation for attacking anyone who dares to speak ill of something (Phish) that they may not like which . I guess what I am saying here is that we are quite devoted to this band so any time something major happens — particularly with their music — everyone takes notice. And there is something that I have been teasing and hinting at for quite some time now that, lo and behold, is finally here.


First things first though! Phish had only played Tallahassee one time before, for a Monday night show during their inaugural visit to Florida in Spring 93 (which we have covered here previously). That one is probably most notable for having the second to last ever Secret Language Instructions (something that is wholly unnecessary these days, unfortunately), a couple of soundcheck gems (first known takes on Nellie Kane and Guy Forget), and… um… two Fish Fun Time tunes I guess? Okay, so it wasn’t exactly a legendary show. But when the band came back they were in a MUCH different place having become a well known national touring act and all that. This visit would be to the Leon County Civic Center (now called the Donald L. Tucker Civic Center or “The Tuck” – a rare case of returning to an original name as when Florida State University took over ownership of the venue from the Leon County Civic Center Authority in 2012 they brought back the name). It sits on the main campus of FSU and is primarily used for college basketball and other university activities along with outside concerts and other typical events for venues in this size range (12,500). But on this night it was where PerazzoPhish was born and the band started something that we still reap the benefits of today.


You are probably asking yourself what the hell “PerazzoPhish” is and that is a reasonable question to ask. Well, there’s this guy named Karl Perazzo who the band met way back on the Summer ’92 tour when they opened all those shows for Santana (after leaving the OG H.O.R.D.E. tour). Along with the times various members of Phish sat in with Santana there was that 07.25.1992 show in Stowe, VT when the favor was returned (by Carlos, Raul Rekow, and Karl Perazzo)  for the last three songs of Phish’s set opening the night. The Summer ’96 Euro Tour also saw some crossover including on 07.03.1996 Carlos and Karl joined in for a fantastic Taste->Llama. So when the band opened up here in Tallahassee with five people on stage it was definitely a surprise for the crowd but not necessarily uncharted territory for the band. It would take a few songs for Trey to clue everyone in on their guest for the evening but by then it is pretty clear that no one has any issue with what he is adding to the mix.


Things get started out in a rocking way as they play Chalkdust Torture for the second time in as many sets (opening both, in fact). The added percussion here amps things up even a few more notches than normal and the crowd responds with triumphant roars of approval for the slamming entry into the night. Our old pal Guelah Papyrus is back in its familiar two slot tonight, serving the role nicely before they bounce into a punchy take on Cars Trucks Buses. There’s nothing major going on here except that buoyant dance vibe but just three songs in you can already tell something is up with Phish tonight. It isn’t just that there is an added player. Something seems… new here. But we haven’t quite hit it yet. So the fourth song starts up and it is Taste and being that this is one Karl is definitely familiar with he can play around even more than some of the other songs here, resulting in some syncopated madness as they spiral through the jam towards the peak. Fish and Karl are lock-and-step in all of this, putting down a beat that pushes the rest of the band forward. I may have hit repeat on this one more than once. Trey takes time to mention how excited they are to share the stage with Karl for the night and then Bouncin’ keeps the people moving and singing along. Next up is Stash, a tune that wouldn’t seem to lend itself too well to an added percussionist. Well, it does in this case, particularly when that added percussionist helps to push the band a bit resulting in a jam that feels fairly familiar while also being something new. The familiar comes from the chugging leads by Trey which sound a lot like something from Fall ’95 (perhaps a bit like this famous Stash from 11.14.1995?) and the new is that percussive build that they craft bringing this up to be an all Type I jam but one that provides a satisfying bit of T&R. It isn’t a Stash that will be on anyone’s mind when thinking of the biggies but it is a good sign of what is happening here in this set.  After that they bring it down a bit for a pair with the ballads Train Song and Billy Breathes, two songs that don’t really need the extra player but oh well. They bring the energy back up following these two with Poor Heart and then drop right into the set closing David Bowie. Getting right to the point here, they forgo the typical style of jam for Bowie, opting instead for a bit of groove pocket jamming. This is something you don’t get too often with Bowie and it is just another example already of the band’s sound shifting, seemingly as this set progresses. By the time they wrap it up (and give us the obligatory “we’ll be back in fifteen minutes” LIE, you lying liar, Trey!!) you have to start wondering what is in store for the next set. Obviously, a lot of the conversation here would have been around Perazzo but whether it is his influence or just coincidental with what they were already putting in motion is not really clear. I tend to think the latter combined with the still-unknown-to-the-crowd trick about to come in Atlanta but there is a bit of chicken/egg here as well.


Following the break, with the crowd anxiously anticipating their next move, Perazzo is the first to start up, playing a calypso-tinged beat that Trey comes in over with the start to Rift. This is one of the more unique versions of this song that you will hear (save the original, slow version of the song) as it is part Calypso Rift and part rocking shred Rift. This seems like a disparate pairing but it really works well. They drop right into Mike’s Song following Rift, working through the classic tune and heading off into a patiently crafted first jam. This jam gets a bit dark and soupy as both Trey and Page try out a few ideas over the big time bass and percussion pocket with Perazzo offering up some nice fills of his own as well. Trey is soloing with drawn out notes over the pocket, begging it to get over the hump and into deeper waters in a way that feels quite comfortable in that Mike’s way but also feels like they are poised for bigger things here. After pulling back for the main riff to signal us into the 2nd jam the crowd recognizes this could get special and gives a bit of cheer feedback in that regard as Trey breaks out the siren loop and really goes off with these wailing lead lines. He drops out to start something we simply have not heard him do before which is to do some funk comping over that pocket while Page toys around with some proto-funk lines of his own. Mike changes up the bassline to match the feel and we are fully into our first ever cowfunk pocket jam! Holy crap! This is the moment. Here is where we go from a band of precision and otherworldly psychedelic openness to one that can put down the funk and get a real live dance party going. You can hear the joy in the music here as they all bounce around the groove. Just before the 15 minute mark (yeah, I know. RIP, long Mike’s jams…) Trey starts hinting at something before playing a quite recognizable line around 15:15. Everyone hops on board and they are now in a place that hints at the classic Mind Left Body (MLB) theme while also having hints of The Wedge. Trey peaks this out with more wailing lines and we have finished the transition from the dark groove of the first jam over to the lightness of this peak. Admittedly, when they do hit the return to wrap up the song it is pretty rough going but after that jam they can be forgiven for any perceived misstep in this regard. This is a tipping point jam for the band, one that cannot be undersold with regards to the importance it holds in where we go from here.


Call it Patient Zero (thanks, MiA), the moment, example one, whatever. There simply was NO indication at all that the band would play this sort of jam here and now after what had come before it on the Fall 1996 Tour (or before then, clearly). With Phish the points of change seem to be more gradual that distinct as the band works out new ways of doing things over the course of a tour or sometimes even longer. Up until this jam if asked to define “The Phish Sound” here in Fall 1996 I would have said something like “percussive precision with moments of open musical abandon” but that description won’t work from here forward. Granted, we are still a long way from where the sound will go in six to nine months and eventually to the massive changes that came out of Summer ’97 and into the legendary Fall ’97 Tour but this is the birthplace of all of that. While not fully formed or even perhaps recognized by the majority of the fanbase in the moment, this is a wholly new way of crafting jams for the band. This takes what was up to this point a largely average tour and offers a new vocabulary for us to start to unpack, a new way of furthering the conversation between band and crowd. You may be saying “this dude needs to take it down a notch cuz Phish has always had some funk in their trunk” and to that I’d reply “yeah, but not like this. this is loose and tight at the same time and oh so fresh.” I really don’t think that I am overselling it to say that this jam marks our move from the open psych era of Phish to the cowfunk/groove period. This is not to say that every show would become a dance party of one dimensional groove jams though because at the root Phish is still a group of music nerds who just had found a new ‘costume’ to wear. Seriously, if Phish went fully to funk I doubt everyone would have lauded it as highly as they did. It is the ability to use it to counterpoint their other styles that makes it so effective as a tool. They are not a funk band but rather a band that can play funk. And in that one Mike’s jam that previous statement became real.


I suppose I need to now move on to the rest of the set because I am starting to get a bit repetitive and unfocused. So how do you follow up that Mike’s then? Well, being ’96 it probably means not Hydrogen considering they only played that pairing twice in the year (07.23.1996 and 08.05.1996) so instead we get one of only three times they have gone Mike’s>Horse>Silent>Paug. The other two are 12.30.1993 and 10.15.2010 but there are also a couple of times they have included Horse>Silent within the Groove (07.01.2011 at Superball and 08.26.2012). This interlude and lost-marbles-search segment is followed by the expected Weekapaug Groove which picks back up to the energy of the Mike’s but lacks anything more than a fairly standard take on that tune. Next they bust out The Wedge after a 70 show gap for a fun version with the extra percussion, perhaps having tipped their hand that it was coming earlier in that Mike’s 2nd jam. Another mid set Character Zero punches through with a big rocking version and then we get Fish Fun Time for the first time since that IDK in Hampton with the cover of Elvis Presley’s Suspicious Minds (with light up cape, naturally). That video of Elvis doing the song in 1970 is great for more than just the music but the Fish take on the song was fairly straight forward unless you feel that vac solos aren’t supposed to be part of the song. They played Suspicious Minds 11 times along Fall ’95 Tour before it hit the shelf only to be busted out here after a 48 show absence. We will hear from this song again at the end of the tour but let’s go ahead and file it as another one of those songs it would be nice to have them play again. After the HYHU bit and Trey again calling him “Norton Charleston Heston” Fish returns to the kit as the band starts up Slave to the Traffic Light, providing one more collective peak for the crowd. The addition of Perazzo doesn’t really do much here but oh well. A quick a cappella Hello My Baby acts as closer and then a raging Good Times Bad Time encore (after a 34 show gap) sends everyone off into the night to wonder about what just happened and to prep for the drive north to Atlanta for the Halloween show.


In total, this show is probably on the high side of pretty good as the addition of Karl Perazzo helps to push some of the more mundane stuff forward. The takeaway jams here though are of the highest quality that we have seen so far on this tour and not just due to the added beat maker. Taste and Stash from the first set hint at it but the Rift>Mike’s is where new Phish dreams are made. Throw in the groove Bowie for good measure and you have a solid idea of what this show offers. I know I spent a lot of words on it above but you really cannot undersell the importance of this show and that Mike’s jam in particular in how it would shape the future of the band. It is evident that they had clearly been working on this sound before that moment but by pulling the curtain back on what was to come in Atlanta (and beyond) we are shown the roots of what their groove-based ‘cowfunk’ would become.  If you have never listened to that Mike’s jam I would highly recommend doing so if you are the sort who has interest in seeing these music evolutions in real time. This jam, but an inkling of what is to come, would make a lot more sense in context after the show two nights on and even more so as the tour progresses. For that you can thank not just their decision to take on the costume of a legendary polyrhythmic group of musicians but also because they brought in Karl Perazzo to help them get ready for that night. And seeing as how Karl stayed with them for a few shows even after Halloween, it should come as no surprise that everything changes from here on out. If you were a bit bored with the shows on this tour so far, stick around. I think you will soon agree that the remaining tour is anything but boring…

No Art To Which None Compares – North Charleston, SC 10.27.1996

Phish — North Charleston Coliseum — North Charleston, SC 10.27.1996

I  Jim, PYITE, Bag, Fee>Mule->Catapult->Mule, Melt, Talk, Taste, Suzy

II  CDT, Gin, Rift>Caspian>Ya Mar, Tweezer, Fluffhead, Life On Mars?>Reprise

E  Possum, Carolina


Anyone who has a sibling or four knows that there are dynamics between you that no one else really fully understands, though most of us can empathize via similar experiences. The little brother or sister always seems to get the short end of the stick and has to work a bit harder to make his or her accomplishments known. I mean, sure, there are some cases where the youngers get the upper hand but you will never be daddy’s first kid and your older sibling(s) will never let you forget that everything you have came as a result of the things they did to pave the way (and to break in your parents). In case you aren’t clear where I am going here, after their Saturday night show in Charlotte, NC Phish continued south for a Sunday night show in little brother North Charleston, SC. Now, maybe the two Cackalackys will tell you that there is no bad blood here and that any rivalry is mere of the friendly sort and I’d tell you they are probably just shining your shoes. Heck, NC has pretty much twice the population and it 40% large in area not to mention a bunch of other differences that I am bot going to bother looking up on the internet right now but all you have to do is look at how many shows our band has played in each state to know what’s up. Last time we learned Phish has played 40 shows in North Carolina so how many do you think it’s little friend tucked underneath it (or some may say that the big brother state is sitting on top of little bro until he cries “uncle” — just hope there’s no chocolate milk loogies involved) has gotten? Yeah, that would be 18 (and one of those doesn’t even count). Again with the disparate ratios! I mean, sure, of course with all those colleges and people that North Carolina has you could argue the ratio is about right but that’s not fair to the fans living in South Carolina, is it? It is? You sure? Okay. Then, let’s just move on, I guess.


Up to this point Phish had visited the Palmetto State 13 times (not including that jazz standards ‘gig’ from Dr. Jack’s house) with the first being 01.31.1990 for a show that happened but lacks a setlist or any tapes in circulation at yet another venue that no longer exists, the interestingly named Myskyn’s Tavern. For some reason, this show is not mentioned at all in the band bio for that time period but oh well such is life in the days before we couldn’t just let go and enjoy things without detailing every single moment with pictures, scribblings, and blog posts. Wait. Scratch that last part. No matter what, this was their first dip into the South, playing gigs with Widespread Panic in a lot of places to spread the message of Phish just as they had done for WSP in the Northeast where that band had less notoriety at the time. After some shows in Georgia they came back to SC first to Greenstreets (again with the defunct venues…) for a show that knows no setlist and then a return to Myskyn’s for 02.05.1990. That Spring they returned to South Carolina for a pair of shows at The Old Post Office (yup. It’s gone too) on 05.25.1990 (opening to The Mundahs whoever they are) and 05.26.1990 (no setlist, naturally) then swung south before coming back up to Greenstreets again on 06.02.1990 for what is probably the first worthwhile listen (I use that term liberally here) of these 1990 SC shows. You should probably just skip it unless you want a lot of banter and moderately okay playing from the bar band era. That Fall saw two more shows first back at Greenstreets on 10.13.1990 for a show where apparently about three people were in attendance with one being Trey’s sister and then back to Hilton Head for OOPS! It got cancelled due to lack of ticket sales. Maybe just maybe fitting 7-9 shows (depending on whether you count em all) in this state in 1990 was a bit too tall of an order even for a band that just nine years later would draw 90,000 people to a freaking swamp at the tip of America’s Wang. I mean, that’s a lot of time spent here in that year.


Things really die down from there as there is but one stop in South Carolina between 1991 and 1993 and that happened 11.10.1991 at the Music Farm (hey! a venue that still exists! WOOOOOOO!!!!). Check that one for some Rhombus Narration and other fun stuff that is typical of this era. 1994 saw a bit of South Carolina resurgence by the band as we got three shows here, first with the 04.22.1994 stop in Columbia at the Township Auditorium. Along with the requisite Dr. Jack sit-in for the Piano Duet->Bill Bailey encore that we talked about a bit last time there is a quite out there Bowie and a lovely Reba amongst the quality Spring ’94 offerings by the band. That Fall they stopped back in for a pair of shows preceding a pretty big Halloween show starting with the 10.28.1994 show from Galliard Auditorium in Charleston. I strongly urge you to spin the Bowie->Manteca->Bowie from this one if nothing else. Turning back north again on the trail to upstate New York, the band was in Spartanburg for, well, the only time ever on 10.29.1994 for one that really deserves your full attention. I mean, it is all gravy from the twisted MFMF opener on but if Melt->Buffalo Bill->Makisupa->Rift to cap the first set doesn’t do it for you (it will) then start with the Disease 2nd set opener and just let it run. This is Phish at one of their peaks, people. The next show from Glens Falls gets the pub but this one deserves an official release even if there is a [tinny] soundboard out there for it. One year later on 11.18.1995 they returned to play the North Charleston Coliseum for the first time, playing a show best known for the Brickhouse YEM (and another Dr. Jack Bill Bailey encore) but that is solid all around being that it is Fall ’95 after all. Since then they have stuck to this venue but for one pretty darn awesome show that we covered on Fall 1998 from Greenville. Our show above was the one to precede that visit and since they have been back for a pair of shows on 10.15.2010 and 10.16.2010 (check the C&P to open a raging 2nd set) but that’s future talk that we will avoid for now. I guess I should probably get to the 10.27.1996 show at this point since that is our reason for being here, right?


Now firmly on the path of this Fall 1996 tour (and about 1100 words into this post), Phish was playing their 10th show in 12 days (something that might kill them — and us — these days). Not showing any signs of fatigue the band hit the stage running, opening with Runaway Jim (he he). This one is a pure rocking opener fodder which is not a bad thing by any means. They double down on the energy with Punch You In The Eye and AC DC Bag, both of which do nothing to lower the heat of this three pack of fiery show opening tunes. Our breather after Bag is the sing along Fee which dives into Scent of a Mule. Things go as they do here but then head left in a big way as after the normal duel and scat section Mike comes in and starts up Catapult (57 show bustout) which Page mimics on the theremin, that oft seen but seldom used instrument that sits right by all of his other toys. I won’t dive into a full theremin breakdown right now but suffice it to say that I am pro-Page-theremin-use. They return for the klezmer finish and then we get the other SOAM, Split Open and Melt. Incidentally, there have been 32 shows where these two songs have both been played and then there’s the GameHoist show where we got the Mule and the Melt jam to fit the Hoist album Demand>Melt Jam fun. Seventeen of those 32 came in Mule’s debut year 1994 and three times Mule has directly preceded Melt, such as this here show. The Melt jam is mainly similar to most of the straight ahead ones of this era but for the brief play on In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida, the psychedelic opus by Iron Butterfly (or I. Ron Butterfly if you prefer). It is a nice interpolation but nothing remarkable in all honesty. After a bit of banter about Page having a lot of family in the area they play Talk, perhaps my personal least favorite of all the Trey ballads but I won’t bore you with my internal ruminations in that regard.


This interlude brings us to Taste and here we get something new as Trey blends in the melodic line from Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown), the song made famous by The Beatles though my preference is towards the Herbie Hancock version. You may know of the overt reference that Taste often includes to this melody (or not) but here in its first appearance the context is a bit different as instead of being the trigger to move on to the ending of the song it is worked into the jam itself. Now, some will tell you there are other motifs that evolved into the song’s coda like NICU or WTU? type phrasing but for now the song is still gaining steam here as the format is finally set after all those different versions that got us here. Stay tuned with this song. It is going to have a good tour. A suitably fun and rocking Suzy Greenberg then caps the set and we are left to ponder the yonder until the lights go down once more.


When those lights do finally go back down (I am convinced that time expansion occurs during setbreaks) the energy keeps coming in spades as Trey rips into a shredding Chalkdust Torture. This sets the tone for the set quite nicely. A straight ahead but fun Bathtub Gin fills the two slot and then we get a clean and shreddy take on Rift in its wake. This bleeds into the intro to Prince Caspian which provides another good example of the format this song took in 1996 with Trey offering up a bit of drone tone in the outro as they head into Ya Mar. The bouncy island tune gets the dance vibe going for a bit before the close it up and drop a mid/late set Tweezer. While perhaps not a big time version, there is some crunchy stuff to be found in this version. It fits with the prevailing vibe of the show in that instead of going off the deep end into wandering psych jammery they opt for a more concise, directed bit of hose-ery with some devilish licks by Trey along the way. This concludes and they bounce forward into a rousing take on Fluffhead, nailing most if not all of the composed bits and bringing it to a big peak that elicits a nice roar from the faithful. Another spot on run through the David Bowie classic Life On Mars? follows Fluff (I really have grown to appreciate Trey’s playing on this cover even more since the recent death of the ever changing Mr. Bowie) and then we slam into the big rock Tweezer Reprise set closer. The encores on the evening are a fun if not too special Possum and then the fitting Carolina a cappella performance (a 64 show bustout no less) which begs the question of where Dr. Jack was that night because this is the first time in a bit that he hasn’t helped out in South Carolina. Ah, well, he’d be back again eventually to do that shuffle tap dance and croon Bill Bailey for us…


Now, I just wrote a lot of words in putting together this review but in truth the show itself is not one you will probably spin much but for the few notable highlights. I mean, I got the whole second set summarized in just one [long] paragraph and when the first set holds the fun you are probably looking at a show that isn’t exactly all-timer list material. This is definitely a fun show full of some serious shred and rocking stuff but outside of the few moments of playing sideways it is largely average-level Phish improv. Hey, if you went to this one and had an amazing, life-altering experience I am happy for you and believe that this was an incredible show. For you. But in the vacuum of relistening to shows now close to twenty years after the fact (gosh dang it, we are old…) this one is probably more a victim of its surroundings than of anything ‘wrong’ with the show itself. As broken-record as it sounds, the playing here is on point and the energy is high. There is clear connection going on between band and crowd. And the obvious ‘but’ here is that there is nothing above that to discuss. That’s not to say there aren’t good takeaways from this show because there are (Mule->Catapult->Mule, Melt, Taste, and Ya Mar for the second tier). Just know that we are working our way up to the mountaintop here and this is but another switchback to be navigated as we continue to get higher and higher. Now go get your percussion suits on cuz Phish turns into a five piece band for a bit here…



Oh, hey, since we are now ten shows into the tour I thought I would give a bit of a statistical update on where our trends lie thus far. To the bullet points!

  • So far we have had shows in six states (NY at 4 and PA at 2 are the only with more than one), all in the eastern time zone.
  • Only one venue (MSG) has had more than one show with one venue (Marine Midland in Buffalo) being the only time the band has ever played there.
  • 92 unique songs have been performed with 32 being one timers.
  • Of the songs with repeat performances, Character Zero and Taste hold the top slot having been played in half the shows so far. Nine songs have been played four times (CTB, CDT, Disease, Free, Caspian, Antelope, Sample, Sparkle, and Waste).
  • The songs from the recently released Billy Breathes album all feature in these shows with only Bliss not hitting the stage (and probably never happening…)
  • Set openers have been quite disparate with only Jim repeating as 1st set opener and every 2nd set opener being unique so far.
  • Closers are similarly diverse with Sample closing two first sets and Bowie closing two second sets.
  • Encores have yet to be repeated at all.
  • Three songs have been debuted (Swept Away, Steep, and the Star Spangled Banner)

Perhaps not the most exciting stats so far but stay tuned! More shows means more geekery!

Projecting All The Places We Would Go – Charlotte, NC 10.26.1996

Phish — Charlotte Coliseum — Charlotte, NC 10.26.1996

I  Julius, CTB, Wolfman’s Brother, Reba, Train Song, Zero, Ice, Theme, Sample

II  Disease>YEM, Sparkle>Simple->McGrupp, Waste, Lope

E  Fire


Following their one night stop in Hampton Phish continued to live the words of The Curtain by, you know, following the lines going south to play a Saturday night affair in Charlotte, NC. Well, perhaps it is more accurate to say they followed the lines going west by southwest but that’s just picking nits, amiright? Anyone?




Tough crowd. Okay, I’ll try to stick to the music here a bit more. So the band returned to Charlotte, a city that has seen its share of high quality Phish over the years. Actually, the whole state of North Carolina has been a boon for the band. No, that wasn’t a finger-to-the-nose punny nod to the town of Boone, but they have played there, wise guy, and I was there and it was a helluva fun time. Check out the Reba if you haven’t ever heard it. Collectively, the band has played 40 shows in the Tarheel State with 11 of those happening in Charlotte. At the time of this show in 1996 they had played Charlotte venues five times starting with a pair of 1990 shows both at The Pterodactyl Club (a now-closed but one time staple of the live music scene in Charlotte) with one on the Spring Tour and the other coming in the Fall. The next visits would be be to the Grady Cole Center, a smallish multi-use venue that is part of the country parks system. The 07.28.1993 show is most notable as being the first time Dr. Jack McConnell joined the band for his now-signature take on Bill Bailey (they have never played the song without him there) and the piano duet he and Page had which preceded it in the encore. They returned about nine months later on 04.24.1994 for a show full of awesome including Gin->Jump Monk->Gin (727 show bustout for Jump Monk which some may recognize more for its influence on Stash than in its original form), a beaut of a Slave, and ho-hum just another one of those mind blowing ’94 Bowies. 1995 saw the first visit to the larger Charlotte Coliseum for the debut of Slow Heart and big time Tweezer amongst other gems. This was Fall ’95 after all…


The next visit to Charlotte would be for our show up there, again at the Charlotte Coliseum for what would be the last time to date. Since then Phish has continued to come back to the Queen City (and North Carolina in general), playing another six shows that have all been at the Pavilion of Changing Names currently known as PNC Pavilion. Now nine shows into the tour and in the third show of a four night run (the second such run already this tour) the band is in full operational mode and seems poised to take things to another level from the consistent if somewhat reserved performances of the past several shows. Getting the dance vibe going from the start, the band opens with a spirited Julius with that raging Trey you know to be the case for Julius in this era. After that solid opener we get a vibrant Cars Trucks Buses where Page takes the forefront and then we have a nice if somewhat pedestrian Wolfman’s Brother. I know we all recognize the jam potential of that song these days but back then before the landmark Markethalle  version from the show that would beget Slip Stitch and Pass. Here though, only four plus months prior to that date, the song is about as close to the album version as you could get.


But fear not! Next up we have our gal Reba and after running through the composed section we are treated to a thrill ride version where Trey and Fish shine brightly in a jam that flows along quite swimmingly before Trey reaches for the stars and brings down a white hot peak on the unsuspecting gazers in the crowd. I find this version to be quite undervalued in comparison to some of the top notch Rebas out there so I’d recommend you go ahead and spin it. You will not be disappointed. They come up for air for a nice Train Song interlude and then crank into another straight forward and rocking version of Character Zero (our fifth already this tour). I still find it odd to see all of these mid-set Zeros popping up here as we now know it to be a set closer primarily. From here we get dropped into the murk of It’s Ice with Trey setting some atmospheric sound as Page takes a run for a ranging piano solo. This gives way to a satisfying Theme From The Bottom before Sample comes in and squats on our fine little set. In my revisionist dreams I would have nudged Trey to keep that Theme going for another five minutes to cap the set instead of giving way to Sample but he’s the guy making the choices so oh well.


During the break you have to have been thinking that this is one of the best first sets of the tour so far and here today I’d be agreeing with you. The clear highlight is the Reba but all throughout we get crisp playing and a real sense of band connectivity. This raises the hopes and expectations headed into the second frame where Phish usually keeps the good stuff. Tonight that maxim holds true as from the get go this second set brings a higher level of Phish than what we have been experiencing over the past several outings. Things get started with yet another fiery Down With Disease (a song that has open 95 sets in its 251 appearances…). While still a firmly ‘type I’ jam, there are a lot of great ideas being thrown out here from all involved but Trey in particular. This is a white hot chugger of a Disease that just begs to escape its structure but instead they take us directly into You Enjoy Myself. Always a quality pick, this one has a lovely pre-nirvana section and they nail all of the composed bits before Trey finally unleashes a ripping solo in his part of the jam. It almost feels like he still had a lot to say in that Disease and carried over that energy here. Mike and Fish back this up with a great D&B section before we get the obligatory VJ. A fast run through a (sadly) FMS-less Sparkle brings us to our next vehicle Simple. Considering how this has been the most consistent vehicle of the tour so far it is no surprise that they again take this one out for a bit of a ride. Things progress as they do and then once Trey hops on the mini-kit we are in weird land. Page is putting up varied effects and organ fills as the rest of the band drives the pocket in this full band jam. Trey eventually moves back to the guitar and we get a bit more to chew on before they drop into some transitional space with Page almost hinting at Keyboard Cavalry. They opt for the first McGrupp and the Watchful Hosemasters (the first tour debut of the night) instead, having gotten there quite organically it would seem.


McGrupp — always a song I love to hear — provides the opportunity to collect oneself a bit in the wake of that Simple and has a perfectly fine end build as it typically does. You may note here that we have another Page-heavy show on our hands but with Trey also showing his chops and Mike&Fish doing their typically awesome thing this one feels more like the whole band is on top of their game tonight. Our breather song tonight is Waste and Trey gives yet another solid solo at the end, inducing the full crowd sway and smilefest that this song seems to always bring with it. Trey take a moment following Waste to give a shout out to Fish’s cousin (in attendance) who recently won a guitar competition, noting that he played a Hendrix tune in the winning. This precedes the set closing Run Like an Antelope where along with the typical psych shred madness of the jam Trey throws in a Star Spangled banner tease along with a Voodoo Child (Slight Return) tease to nod to the Fish cousin thing. They rock this one out as they tend to do and then for the encore they bring more Jimi with our first Fire of the young tour.


I really think this show is a bit of a tipping point for the band along the Fall ’96 path (…he says with the large benefit of hindsight). Outside of a couple of song choices that I personally do not prefer there is nothing to complain about in this show and the playing throughout is quite high level. There are multiple takeaway jams — Reba, Ice, Simple, and Disease (yes, I know we have highlighted every one so far but c’mon, they are all quite good for this type of DWD) and YEM for the second tier add-ins — and a vibrant energy reflected by both band and crowd. Just listen to Trey for one. Maybe he was just warming up before this or distracted by NYC or something but it all clicks here. And we still haven’t had much of a hint at the massive thing coming only three shows from now! At this stage in the tour, I’d put this one at the top of the list as a great example of the BRiL (Before Remain in Light) sound. They forego the long form, open psych jams of ’95 for tight versions heavy on the quick exchange of ideas (pretty much like the ‘jam density’ thing that became a part of the 3.0 discussions). While this tour still lacks a major, epcot-level type jam all the signs point to that being an impending inevitability. So go ahead and spin this one with the knowledge that it is but a swell in advance of the tsunami about to crash on the masses and enjoy it for the snapshot it provides into life in the days before the Phish world was forever changed.

Nervously She Fumbled For The Pouch: An Important PSA

Hello friends.


I am here today to speak with you about a terrible affliction that has plagued members of the concert-going public for practically as long as there has been music. I speak, of course, of Pockets Syndrome, a malady so infernal that each show tens if not dozens of addle-headed fans of live music succumb to the effects of this horrible scourge. While perhaps not a “deadly” disease or something with long lasting outward effects, Pockets Syndrome can severely impact a person’s ability to lose themselves in the music due to the invasive symptoms that manifest once the onset of the disorder has begun. There are other residual impacts that can be psychological, spiritual, or even metaphysical in nature depending on the prevailing mindset of the afflicted both during and after the onset of the attack. Our goal here is to shine the light of awareness on Pockets Syndrome so that you can be better prepared to avoid its grasp, recognize the symptoms in members of your crew to enact early intervention protocols, and also so that we can all help to spread the message of support to those who may be susceptible to this dreaded condition.


Pockets Syndrome, or “profunda loculos inordinatio” as it is known in certain research circles, is a mainly mental affectation where the sufferer perceives that items placed in pockets (or other holding devices on or near the person’s body) during a concert — typically a rock and roll concert that leans more towards the open jamming, psychedelic sort — can appear, disappear, and move between various catchments. Symptoms may include but are not limited to:  stress, anxiety, confusion, wonderment, thirst/dry mouth, loss of marbles, disconnection with the music being performed, disbelief, the condition known as ‘hot dog fingers’, shock, sadness, anger, befuddlement, fidgeting, and more. Side effects include: inability to communicate with others, lost sense of time and place, total lack of awareness for surroundings, lack of available funds, at a loss for words when buddy asks “hey, man, where’s the weed?”, incapable of helping out the dude who needs a light, potentially mentally scarring deep dives into introspective questions about the nature of objective existence, and being the temporary laughing stock of your friends and section mates.


It should be noted that Pockets Syndrome should not be confused with the similarly named Pocket Syndrome (“Piriformis Syndrome” — sciatic pain caused by having a ‘Costanza’ sized wallet in your back pocket all day) or Phantom Pocket Vibration Syndrome (that feeling that your phone is buzzing away in your pocket even when it is not even in your pocket. maybe put your phone down for once?). While both of these disorders can be related to Pockets Syndrome and often occur simultaneous with it no direct link between these has yet been found. However, if you find that you are experiencing symptoms consistent with either of these debilities it is highly recommended that you check with your doctor, shaman, or at least consult reference materials a bit more real than this.


Pockets Syndrome most commonly impacts individuals who are not necessarily in what medical doctor types might call a “sober state” though there have been reported cases of individuals who are so overcome by the music as to exhibit the tell tale signs. Generally, it manifests once the lights go down and the music is getting everyone moving. The subject decides he or she (while predominantly a disorder associated with males there are numerous case studies of females and persons of other gender types who have been inflicted) has something desirable in his or her pocket(s) and therefore decides to take that item out of said pocket(s). However, upon placing hand in pocket(s) to grab the item the subject is unable to locate it, resulting in some if not all of the symptoms and side effects listed above. In some cases these symptoms can be further exacerbated by the subject knowing that the item is in a particular pocket only to locate it in a different pocket OR checking all pockets without successfully obtaining the item and then rechecking pocket(s) and having the item be easily accessed where the subject thought it was in the first place.


Now, you may be reading this and thinking to yourself that you would never allow yourself to get to the point of lysergic susceptibility that often precedes the onset of Pockets Syndrome. And I was once in your shoes as I thought — nay knew — that it could never happen to me. But it can. And I am here today speaking to you only by the grace of the house lights coming back up at the end of each set and my hands and mind finally working together with my eyes to allow me to find those lost items that had disappeared into my infernal pockets. But even having experienced this malady several times in the past does not keep me from being another potential victim at my next show.


Perhaps you will be able to avoid Pockets Syndrome by wearing clothing that requires another person to tote your belongings for the evening, like these classy Dickies pants or these lovely ladies’ jeans in which case I feel bad for whoever you get haul your crap because no one should have to be your sherpa during jam time. Or maybe you stay healthy by removing the influences that contribute to it by not bringing in anything with you to the show because you really don’t need to have anything with you inside the venue to which I would respond you are either quite fastidious, well disciplined, or just lying to yourself. This person is the type who will ask friends for whatever it is they “forgot” to bring but you aren’t fooling anyone, mister. We pocketed people are on to your shenanigans. The reality is that all of us can contract Pockets Syndrome without warning. And with that in mind I’d like to provide some tips on how to live with Pockets Syndrome and how to identify the signs in your friends so that we can attempt to rise above this menace.


Tips For The Pockets Syndrome Sufferer

  • Before you head into the show, ask yourself the following questions:
    • Am I wearing clothing with pockets?
    • Do I have too many pockets?
    • What do I have in my pockets right now?
    • Can any of these items be left behind?
    • Are there any items that I may come across this evening that would “need” to be added to my pocket inventory and am I ready for that added baggage?
    • Is my SLF or any of my friends going to ask me to hold anything in my pockets for them and can I accommodate that without added PS stress?
  • Once in the show, do a quick pocket check to identify what you have on your person — and where. Having information on where items should be can help to minimize the lasting impact of seemingly lost items.
  • If time and mental state permits, mentally catalog where each item resides. For example, if you have a cell phone, wallet, ticket stub, lighter, some prerolls, a setlist notebook, and a pack of gum try to determine which pocket each item is in currently so that you can quickly ask answer your internal monologue with “yes! my setlist book is in the left butt cheek pocket of my jeans and shall go back there every time I intend to replace it in my pockets”
  • Whenever possible, place any items that 99% of people would consider trash into an appropriate receptacle as soon as possible, removing that item from your pocket inventory forever. This includes empty packaging for… stuff…
  • For paper money, try to return it to your wallet/money clip/stash bag rather than just cramming it into your pocket. Pocket clutter is a major contributor to Pockets Syndrome onset and crumpled money is one of the most common instigators in this regard.
  • If you start to feel anxious or at all concerned that an item you know you had with you via your preshow inventory is now not present, stop and take a deep breath. Rather than dig your giant meaty hand into that small pocket and root around to try to feel it remove all of the pocket’s contents into your hand (if possible, I have no idea how big your hands and pockets are, man) and visually confirm that the item is no longer there. Repeat as needed for all pockets until the item is located.
  • In the event that searching all pockets thoroughly still does not produce the item, do a scan of the floor, seats, and other areas around you if possible. If you have a coat, well, now you have even more pockets to search, buddy. You should have thought of that before you went with the whole need-to-stay-warm plan of attack for this night.
  • Assuming the item still eludes you, quiz your friends to make sure they didn’t receive it from you at some point. This is most commonly related to lighters, packs of smokes, “stuff”, and other stuff. NOTE: unless it is an emergency (and I mean a real emergency, not some tripper nonsense) avoid having such conversations during jams at all costs so as to not impact the enjoyment of said music by your friends and neighbors.
  • Still can’t find it? Fuck it, man, just close your eyes and get back to dancing. It’ll all work itself out post show during the time when you and your friends want to sit and chill in the seats but the venue staff is really trying to get you to leave because it is now close to midnight and their shift captain told them they aren’t getting any overtime so clear those damned hippies outta here like right now. Be respectful and only brush them off like once or twice because they have families too, spunion.


How To Spot Pockets Syndrome And Assist Your Friends

  • Has your friend taken drugs? Like, psychedelic drugs? If so, your friend may be at risk. Note: if you or your friend has rainbows spouting forth from their forehead, you can assume that Pockets Syndrome is a definite risk to begin at any time.
  • Is your friend in control of any items that you may want to have access to throughout the show? If so, you may put your friend at risk for onset symptoms by asking for such items.
  • Does your friend like to smoke/drink/eat/write down setlists at shows? These are inherently risky behaviors that could beget Pockets Syndrome.
  • In the middle of a particularly heavy bit of jamming, while you are rocking the fuck out take a look at your friend. Is he/she getting down as hard as you are or are they patting pockets, rooting around wrist-deep in every fold of fabric of their outfit, and possibly holding a lighter or cell phone down near the floor? If so, your friend is experiencing Pockets Syndrome.

But you can help.

  • If you and/or your friends partake in mind-expanding journeys, have a frank discussion about the dangers of in show pocket use before you go.
  • Know you and your friends’ pocket choices. The well informed comment in the ear of a Pocket Syndrome sufferer can guide them out of the fit and back to the path of musical surrender.
  • Offer to hold anything your whacked out pal might need during the show including that random tallboy swilly beer you brought him at setbreak that he totally is not going to drink but has yet to understand does not need to be in his hand all show. This aha moment will be revelatory to him and humorous to you.
  • Do not contribute to the risk factors by asking a friend to carry items for you.
  • If your friend starts “losing his pockets” try to help by asking what it is they seek. Offer to hold any items removed from pockets during the search and assist in replacement activities. Please note that this intervention can and should be reserved to between songs (or at the very least during crap like Sample or some other pee break tune) and during lights up times. Talking and pocket maintenance during jams is a major show faux pas.
  • Under no circumstances should you allow a friend who is known to exhibit symptoms to wear cargo pants/shorts, old school Banana Republic photo journalist vests, or other garments known to be heavy on the pockets. Limiting the number of available receptacles to a person with a history of Pockets Syndrome can save shows.
  • If the situation warrants it and you are capable, provide the item to your friend so that they can desist from pocket searching. However, if you feel this might spark a similar pocket incident for you, shrug your shoulders and tell your friend “dude! wait for setbreak, yo.”
  • If none of these steps work and you start to understand that this will impact not just your friend’s enjoyment of the show but yours as well, tell them to forget about it; the music is more important.
  • If even after all of this symptoms persist, tell your friend you are going to try to get some more dance space and relocate until you know it to be safe to return. Screw that guy and the trip he’s on!


Please note that these tips and suggestions are by no means a complete list. There is very little reliable literature to be found on this subject and you may find you have ways of dealing with this illness in ways that are more appropriate for you and your crew. The worst thing you can do is to ignore the symptoms. As temporary as this affliction can be for some, the lasting impacts can be quite damaging. The important thing is for us to acknowledge the risk factors, identify early symptoms, and aide those we can so that they too can return to surrendering to the flow and losing themselves in the music. One day we may live in a world where Pockets Syndrome is nothing more than a laughable part of our past but for now the danger is real. Please do what you can to educate yourself and your friends to this and share what you learn with others so that our mantra of “the next show is the best show” continues to ring true… for ALL fans.



None Is Yours And Far Less Mine – Hampton, VA 10.25.1996

Phish — Hampton Coliseum — Hampton, VA 10.25.1996

I  Ha Ha Ha>Taste, Makisupa->Maze, Billy Breathes, Mound, Guelah, IDK, Stash, Coil

II  Tube>Caspian, Timber Ho!>TMWSIY>Aveenu Malkenu>TMWSIY, NICU>Free, Strange Design, Hood>Cavern, SSB



We have had the opportunity to revisit a pair of shows from The Mothership already, considering that the Fall ’98 tour included a two night stand at this, one of the band’s favorite venues in which to perform. I say that with confidence as here in this Fall ’96 single night stop (the 2nd of 18 shows played in the Hampton Coliseum) Trey banters about this being one of the band’s favorite rooms to play due to the good sound and ability for everyone to move around where they like. Considering that they had only played this room once prior to Trey making that proclamation, it speaks to the band’s appreciation of this place as they would only play a single show here one more time (08.09.2004) with all other visits being two or three night stands. The most famous of these, of course, is the Fall ’97 pair that wowed the fanbase when the tapes made it out to the masses but perhaps as equally important it the three night stand the band played in 2009 to end The Long Wait and usher in Phish 3.0. There is also the pair of pre-Big Cypress shows from 1999 and two three night stands separated by ten years in 2003 (the cap to the NYE Run that started at MSG for 12.31.2002, ending Hiatus) and 2013 (three scorchers on the well regarded Fall Tour from that year) but it all started with an innocent Saturday night on fall Tour ’95 tucked between stops in Pittsburgh and Knoxville (kinda sounds like a country/trucker song there…). That 11.25.1995 show is perhaps most notable for spawning the first ever Rotation Jam (out of a pretty decent Mike’s) and is sometimes referred to as the Poor Heart Show considering they played the “normal” fast version in the first set, the Slow Heart version as show closer, and a quick Poor Heart Reprise as part of the encore. There is also a solid Timber Ho! 2nd set opener and an engaging Hood to be found in this show so check it out if you never have.


As you can see (and probably already knew), this is a room that has become one quite revered in the Phish world both due to the easy nature of seeing shows here and for the music that has been produced. Considering the number of shows here over the years, one could get a pretty good snapshot of the band’s progression simply by spinning these in order… but that’s not really what we are here for, is it? So let’s get into the Fall ’96 offering from The Mothership!


From the start, things are a bit different on this night as they open with the Fish-penned Ha Ha Ha (for the first time ever and one of only two times it has opened a show – the other being 06.30.2000). This setlist oddball tune was a bit of a bustout here considering it had been 45 shows since having last been played at the Philly Spectrum on 12.15.1995. These days we look at this song as a nod to a joke, resolution to a big jam, or some other indicator but in the opening slot it seems they are trying to clue us in before the show even gets started so now you end up going through the whole show wondering what that Ha Ha Ha was in reference to way back in the opener slot. And you would honestly be still wondering that by the end of the show since there really isn’t anything in this set that seems to warrant it but now it is in your addled brain, causing havoc with your ability to surrender to the flow, man, and what the hell, now you are having a weird inquisitory head trip instead of being able to lose yourself in the music and shit. Screw that, brah. Back in the room, the band has now moved on to Taste, working through a rough go of the composed section but putting up an energetic if straight forward end jam. Our first Makisupa Policeman of the tour is next and after the “dank” keyword we get a brief, dark, layered outro jam that kinda sorta sounds like it could be plucked out of Fall ’98. There is a full transition into Maze from this which gives us yet another solid take on the song, if perhaps not quite to the demented levels of that one from Pittsburgh.


Now four songs in you can easily tell they are amped up and playing well as everything has been on point (well, maybe that Taste wasn’t perfect but the jam made up for it…). They take a brief breather for, um, Billy Breathes (SO obvious) and then give us a fine take on Mound, a tune that I have often wondered whether it would ever break free from its structure (it hasn’t and won’t, but that doesn’t mean I won’t stop asking). Our old pal Guelah Papyrus continues the dance theme and next we have our first I Didn’t Know of the tour, sung by “Mr. Norton Charleston Heston” himself. After the suck and blow tune we get that Trey banter about this being one of their favorite rooms to play and that leads to a solid Stash. There is some decent T&R building in this version as they leave the song structure for a few minutes but this one isn’t going to rise to the top of the heap by any means. The first set comes to a close with a somewhat longish Squirming Coil as Page takes his solo out for a nice walk in capping a set that has had some pretty good work throughout by the Chairman of the Boards. As you listen to this show you might determine this to be a “Page show” and you wouldn’t be wrong at all in saying that as he does bring a lot to the table throughout (and Coil closers kind of tip their hand in this regard too).


After the setbreak the tour debuts continue with Tube, here a quite short and contained version of the song that in only a year will have evolved into the sometimes-jam-vehicle we pine for these days. Even with the funk about to drop on us there are no hints of that sort of thing here as it segues into Prince Caspian. Wait. What? Segued from Tube to Fuckerpants? What the hell, Trey? While they get through the song you are now starting to wonder why they chose that pairing and if it had ever happened before (it had not) and you start pondering whether this will be a new thing where they pair two seemingly disparate songs like this (it will not). So the Caspian moves into the typical 1996 build jam for the song and you are okay with it because you are an enlightened phan who is capable of brushing off those odd choices and just giving in to the will of the music. At which point your overly patient girlfriend standing next to you rolls her eyes, shakes her head, and leaves for the bathrooms because she did NOT come here to way to some crappy tune about a guy with no feet. And here some 19+ years later you finally realize why that chick wasn’t much of a keeper. Oh, as an added fact here, there is only one other time they went Tube>Caspian was just a bit more exciting as in 07.27.2003 they go Tube>Caspian->2001 in a quite satisfactory segment that has a nice outro to the Tube before a rousing take on Caspian eventually bleeds to our favorite space funk cover. Well, we didn’t get that here in Hampton but it wasn’t all that bad, honestly.


They quickly move on to Timber (Jerry) (yes, I know altering the name of this one time and again is annoying but I really can’t decide which way to name it) and while a brief version there is a nifty little jam that seems to hint back to the Stash from the first set. This drops into our first TMWSIY>Aveenu Malkenu>TMWSIY sequence of the tour (40 shows since the last one) which, while nice to hear, is taking up precious second set jam space here, boys. The subsequent NICU ain’t helping either, Trza. But then they drop into Free and we have at least a few minutes of that chunky rocker as Trey posts up on the minikit for a bit to allow Page to do his piano thing before Trey moves back to the guitar and we wrap this one up. Page gets to sing Strange Design next and then we get what will end up being the veritable highlight of the show with a nicely peaked, type I on steroids Harry Hood. Seriously, the build in this one is very patient and comes off so well. It just adds another entry to the Hampton Hoods legacy where in every single visit to this venue except the 2003 one they have put up a pretty decent version of the song (the main reason it didn’t pop in 2003 is due to it having been played at MSG right before that run). A funky run through Cavern and a rousing Star Spangled Banner wrap up the set and then following the rocking Johnny B. Goode encore we are on the road once more.


So here we have a show that is kinda light on the jams but yet still follows our upward trend for the tour so far. You can almost smell what is about to happen but they are still holding back a tad from that with nary a hint of any of the awesome they will lay down on that crowd in Atlanta and beyond. That’s pretty impressive when you realize that they have clearly been working on the Remain In Light material by now but have yet to allow it to slip into any of these shows to date. This show is a pure fun time Friday night Phish show with some interesting setlist choices and quality playing hiding the fact that they really didn’t cover any new ground here. The takeaways are light with the Coil and Hood be your only definite entries as I wouldn’t want to add anything else that really isn’t that interesting at the end of the day. But hang on to your hats because the Saturday show to come will turn us over into the next phase…



You Keep It Very Clean – Hartford, CT 10.23.1996

Phish — Hartford Civic Center — Hartford, CT 10.23.1996

I  PYITE, Poor Heart, Bag, Foam, Hello My Baby, Zero, Rift, Theme>Lope

II  Brother, Ya Mar, Tweezer>Lizards, Llama, Suzy>Slave, Julius



Phish has a long history with Connecticut, stretching back to the not quite verified 05.08.1988  show at a place called CD’s in Norwalk, CT, a venue I cannot find any information on anywhere which means it probably doesn’t exist anymore because you’d have to think there would be some mention of it on these here intrawebz. As with that show, the next visit to the Constitution State is one that has no known setlist but is at least confirmed to have happened on the noted date (04.02.1989) at The Nightshift Cafe in Naugatuck. Their first show in Hartford would come about six weeks later on 05.27.1989 for a fraternity party at Trinity College. This is still a somewhat incomplete record, however, as only the supposed first set of this show circulates. The next visits to CT would be in 1990 to the famed Toad’s Place first for a show on 03.01.1990, then the classic Woodbury Ski & Raquet Club show from 04.29.1990 which circulates on video in full, and then back at Toad’s Place again on 05.06.1990 for a show that was heavily circulated back in the day. You may know it for the Hood or Bowie but the Jagermeister Song is the comical aspect of this one (dedicated to WSP who opened) or perhaps the odd show ending where YEM pretty much just ends without the vocal jam and they had no encore due to the venue curfew. There was one more show in CT on the Fall Tour that year at Wesleyan University in Middletown (09.16.1990) which was a free single set affair that has a super shreddy Trey-heavy Weekapaug and then they wouldn’t return to the state until the following Spring Tour.


1991 would produce only three shows in the Nutmeg State with two at The Sting in New Britain (05.16.1991 and 11.19.1991) and a banter-heavy affair from The Salisbury School on 05.19.1991 that was organized by a few prep schools in the area. Oh, to be able to book Phish to play your boarding school… what a different time that was. There is a humorous note that the show was apparently cut short by the powers that be due to suspected drug and alcohol use by the students in attendance, something one would never expect from prep school hippies! Quite honestly, none of these shows are overly noteworthy except in establishing Phish’s affinity for playing in the area but things started to ramp up with Phish performances here in The Land of Steady Habits in 1992. While there are only three shows for Phish here in 1992 they are all quite solid and all were performed at the Palace Theatre in New Haven. The first is the 03.19.1992 show which has one of those rare Bowie ‘tease medley’ versions and a lot of that high energy, tight shred stuff they did back then (not to mention the original arrangement of NICU). The 12.28.1992 show is a bit of table setting for the NYE Run but is a worthwhile listen all the same. Then, on 12.29.1992 they dropped a classic Tweezer in a tease-heavy show that sounds more like Spring ’93 than anything from ’92 or earlier. Of course, there are two BBJs in that show which immediately drops it down a few pegs, unfortunately…


1993 had only two CT shows, first for the 04.30.1993 stop in West Hartford and then back to New Haven for the second show on the NYE Run, this time at the Veterans Memorial Coliseum show on 12.29.1993. The playing here is quite good as they had pretty well moved on to the 1994 psych jazz sound at this stage. Stash is quite unique if you have never heard it. After skipping the Provisions State in 1994 Phish returned along the path of the epic Fall ’95 Tour for a great one (again) in New Haven, one best known for the Tweezer it birthed but also for the overall quality of the performance (not to mention being the first time – of four ever – where Prince Caspian has opened the show). I’ll now stop the history lesson to get into the single CT stop for 1996 but it is notable that the band has returned here in almost every year of touring since with an additional nine shows scattered between 1997-2000 and 2009-2013. With the exception of 2000 and 2010 these are all single night stops and in toto Phish has played solid shows here throughout their history. And this one from 10.23.1996 is certainly no exception…


The first set starts off well enough with some energy tunes to get things moving as they rip through decent takes on Punch You In The Eye, Poor Heart, and ACDC Bag. The Bag has a bit of extra sauce on it but stays within form and then they add to that energy some more with the first Foam since summer tour. Four songs in there is nothing major to take away but the playing is tight and the band seems ready to go bigger. Before doing so we get the a cappella Hello My Baby and then another couple rockers in Character Zero and Rift. The set seems to be flying by without much of note but then they start up Theme for a soaring, crisp take on the type I vehicle. Trey uses the distortion pedal well here as he plays with the peak and then upon resolution we drop into the Antelope closer you could have seen coming a mile away if you had been watching setlist trends at this stage of tour. This Lope has some solid dissonant shred jamming and tension building, bringing the crowd to a frenzied peak but it otherwise largely straight forward. And that might be one of the shortest first set recaps I’ve done which kinda makes sense here what with the quite un-notable nature of it all (and the fact that this is only a one hour set…). Which probably had a lot of people scratching their heads unless that itch was just their super hetty dreads being a little dry this time of year, brah.


And your confusion would have been further amplified had you gandered at the stage during the break rather than heading out to the concourse to chat up that cute spinner gal you met on lot earlier that day as a second drum kit was brought out! What the heck?!? Well, maybe if you were up on your side projects and whatnot you would realize once they came out to the stage that the guest second drummer is none other than Bob Gullotti, drummer for such projects as Michael Ray’s Cosmic Krewe (who is still in fine form, I must say, having just seen him as part of the James Brown Dance party thing post Phish on 01.02.2016), George Garzone’s The Fringe (free jazz improv), Surrender to the Air (remember that Trey thing we mentioned not too long ago?), and as support for a variety of folks over the years. He also has the distinction of being a drum instructor for Fish over the years so all told he has some history with the band. This would be the first of three times Bob joined the band on stage with the other two being during shows in Texas (07.25.1997 and 07.26.1997) on the Summer 1997 Tour. For this night in Hartford he sat in for the entirety of the 2nd set and encore.


The set starts out with a punchy Brother, another tour first timer, and this one apparently played by request for Trey’s brother-in-law’s birthday. Right after this Trey introduces their guest and then they drop into a quite fun Ya Mar which has a bit of a drum duel/solo in the end before they come back to the song itself. Considering that Fish virtually never takes actual drum solos this is notable, particularly since with two talented players on the kits it doesn’t ever get jumbled or showoff-y like some big arena rock hair band drummer trying to get the chick in the front row to throw her unmentionables at him. Next up is our first Tweezer in a bit and here is our first real open jam of the night. Trey and Page plug along with the rhythm section setting the beat, with Trey soloing over the time changes as they build momentum here. Trey gets a siren wail going with his sustain, looping it as Page offers up some funky fills and Mike bombs away in the back. Trey drops out to hop on the mini-kit and now we are into the most percussive Tweezer jam that I know of considering there are now three people on drums. Page takes over the lead here with Mike providing some unique lines as well and the jam goes sideways for a few minutes as they explore this open territory. Trey eventually heads back to the guitar for the last couple minutes, building towards the Reprise-ish return to the classic slow Tweezer ending. This segues right into The Lizards which gives us that lovely cautionary tale of our friends from Gamehendge. As usual, this version is bright and danceable and even with two drummers it does not feel overwrought as both Page and Trey nail their respective solos.


Backing this up with Llama you might think that the second drummer would get in the way of the beat here but that never happens. Bob and Fish work quite well together which makes sense considering their shared history. Trey shines here, of course, as they turn the civic center into a head banging good time for a few brief minutes. This is followed up by good times Suzy Greenberg that manages to amp the energy up even further even in being about as standard of a take on the song as is possible. Moving towards the back part of the set now, they transition into Slave to the Traffic Light with both drummers offering up the tell tale stop and go beat of the song. The journey to the peak here is nice but nothing new tough it does elicit a rousing cheer from the patrons in the room. Trey then starts up Julius and we are clearly on our way to the end of the set here. As I have mentioned previously, these ’96 versions of Julius really smoke with Trey shredding the shit out of them but this one has that added drummer kicking it up another notch. The swanky groove they lay down for Trey to solo over mandates chair dancing at the very least, assuming you can resist the urge to rise up and give in to the beat. This serves as a solid closer for this guest-enabled set, bringing the crowd up once more to join in the dance party. A suitably fiery Chalkdust Torture with a fun build to the final Trey solo is spurred on by the double drummers, providing the encore tonight and then we are off to discuss the relative merits of bands that have multiple drummers/percussionists while trying to get gathered to begin the trip headed south for that next stop in Hampton.


This show seems to continue the pattern set so far in this first seven shows which are high on energy and dexterous playing but light on big jams. And that is not entirely inaccurate but might perhaps be an oversimplification of what is going on at this point. With the new album out (and one that isn’t exactly full of big jam vehicles) the focus is on that material as well as getting back into touring form after about two months off following The Clifford Ball. I would maintain that we haven’t yet had a “bad” show necessarily but that doesn’t mean we have had any great ones either. Most of the jam structures so far are either true to form or in their infancy (e.g. Simple) and we are about to see a whole heck of a lot of development in that respect. This show is a fine enough Wednesday nighter coming on the back end of three straight nights after the pair in New York that preceded it. By the time the following weekend is through we will start to see bigger jams and more noteworthy takeaways, not to mention some more variation in setlist construction and song choice in general. I personally like this show because of the uniqueness the second drummer offers and the overall clean play by all involved throughout but that doesn’t mean it has all-timer jams I’m putting on the big list. With that said, your takeaways tonight are rather light but solid all the same:  Ya Mar, Tweezer, and Theme as the add-in if you so choose. Viewed within the context of the tour progression it is in line with what you might expect at this stage even if we still have yet to hear the inklings of the big things to come in just a few weeks. Maybe they are holding back or maybe they just don’t want to show their hand yet. I can’t really answer that for certain but with the benefit of hindsight I can say for certain that the prevailing trends of this tour are about to be turned on their head… and that is going to be quite exciting indeed.