It All Runs Together – Phish and Merriweather Post Pavilion

The 1960s were a time of developing and acting on big ideas in many ways. For some it was opening up to self expression and not simply following the path of others before them resulting in the massive social, cultural, political, and artistic shifts that typify the era. Without diving into some kind of essay about wow, the 60’s, maaaaaan let’s just agree that a lot happened back then. One thing to occur was the creation of the planned community of Columbia, MD by the Rouse brothers, notable real estate developers whose big idea included the design and construction of a familiar venue to Phish and music fans in general, Merriweather Post Pavilion. Seated in the midst of the 40-acre Symphony Woods on land once part of a slave plantation and named after heiress and socialite Marjorie Merriweather Post, the venue was designed by famed architect Frank Gehry, probably better known for buildings like The Guggenheim, Walt Disney Concert Hall, the Dancing House, and many other visually memorable and aesthetically striking structures. Originally meant to be the summer home for the National Symphony Orchestra once that organization went bankrupt the booking net widened to include political rallies and even that godforsaken rock and roll music. There have been a couple of bans on “rock music acts” here over the years due to some gate crashing and whatnot but here almost 50 years since its opening (you have to think they have some fun stuff planned to celebrate that next year) it has become one of the more frequent tour stops for Phish particularly in 3.0.


The band has played Merriweather Post Pavilion fifteen times starting with a single setter in the summer of 1992 and extending all the way up through a two night stand in 2015. As hinted at above 11 of those 15 have come since The Return in 2009 including two night stands for each of the last five times they have visited.

Here is your playlist for the Merriweather Post Pavilion Jams. Note that there are a couple of jams from other Columbias sprinkled in there (SC, MO). Don’t let that confuse you. It is just how the filters work on PJJ. Plus you get that ridic Funky Bitch jam from 11.22.1994 so no complaining!


07.17.1992  Sometimes it is better that there are no tapes of a show. For this first appearance by Phish at MPP that is the case as the band battled through sound issues and an overall lackluster performance in their first set opening for Santana after leaving the H.O.R.D.E tour behind. The reviews you can find of this one range from bad to worse with the one in the Companion by Timer being pretty eye-rolling in many ways. Hey, I was at this show too and while it wasn’t the best set of Phish I caught even that year you don’t see me hassling the drummer about whether this meant they had sold out. MOVING ON…

08.08.1998  The first full show of Phish waited another six years for whatever reason but they came back with fire (perhaps to atone? probably not but fun to speculate for them). The fun starts in earnest with the third song Sneakin’ Sally which gets a big funky outro jam that ends up in Guyute. Following a subdued Fikus, Farmhouse pairing they ramp it up for Possum and then debut a song that would later show up as part of that year’s Halloween costume, the Velvet Underground’s Sweet Jane. This has always been a favorite song of mine so to hear Phish play it (with some added gusto by Trey in his solo) was just amazing at the time. The second set starts out with one of two ever Cavern openers (notably, there are only 13 total set opening Caverns – 10 1sts, 2 2nds, 1 3rd) which came after one of only five Wedge show openers ever (of nine set opening versions ever – 5 1sts, 4 2nds). That’s actually probably the least exciting part of this set though. The 2001 that follows is a clinic in ’98 Phish funk and big Trey leads with some fantastic stuff by Mike for good measure in the back half. They pause the dance party for a nice Tela and then drive into a patient, grooving Piper that stretches out in a wonderful way before we get Fish Fun Time for one of the four performances of Marvin Gaye’s Sexual Healing that all fell in that year. The set concludes with one of those soaring 98 Hoods which gets a bit of extension in the jam before they debut a seemingly out of left field cover of the Beastie Boys’ Sabotage to the crazed delight of the fans in attendance. This is a triumphant return to the venue for the band with jams all over and the band at a peak. It is definitely a keeper.

07.09.1999  The following summer Phish returned again for a single show, opening up with an on point but contained LxL before kind of sleep walking through the majority of the first set that came after. It isn’t a bad set but there’s not much there there until you get to the set closing Jim which chugs through a rocking type I jam and gives hope for the second set yet to come. Coming out with what seems like a bit more purpose they rock through PYITE (with one of those good ol’ Super bad teases) before dropping into a gooey Free>WTU? that is oh so 1999 in the playing. After a Sofi-aided Meatstick (it was the summer of that dance craze which swept the nation, after all) the band starts into Mike’s Song. From the start you can tell they intend to stay in this Mike’s space for a bit and the resulting jam has the feel of an old school T&R jam as it slowly builds as they groove through several minutes of engaging music. As the release forms Trey is hinting at something… ah! there it is! Sweet Emotion quotes come in and the band peaks out the song and moves into Twist for the only time that combo has ever occurred. They don’t go far out like in the preceding Mike’s but Page manages a Spooky tease in there and then we get a fun Paug that nods to the impending solicitation by the band to help break the record for coordinated dancing by quoting Macarena. There is also a Meatstick tease in the encore Hood which while not as big as the one from the previous year is a solid capper to a good Summer ’99 show all the same.

09.17.2000  A couple of weeks before those final 1.0 shows at Shoreline we just covered Phish was back at MPP for their fourth show – and last until after The Return. If your younger phriends ever ask you what the heck The Millennial Sound was this show would be a good one to offer up as an example. First up is the ultra rare Guyute opener (one of four ever) to get the fist pumping and rocking out going. Later there is an underrated Gin (2000 was a good year for the song so in comparison to others around it maybe not the best but definitely a fun one), a bunch of mainly standard for the time takes on songs, and the second version of The Curtain (With) that tour following its ginormous gap stretching back to 1988. The second set on this night is all killer no filler stuff from the Rock and Roll opener through the Free closer including a unique take on Theme that segues into the 40 show bustout of Dog Log and a Mango Song that stretches into deep groove jam full of effects before ending up in that aforementioned Free. There are definitely more complete shows from that time period but the entirety of the second set is worth your time.

08.15.2009  Upon returning to MPP during the first summer tour back in action Phish opened up with a direct nod to the challenges the fanbase has had at this venue over the years by playing the first 3.0 version of the Undermind tune Crowd Control. The constant presence of police helicopters over the lots here and the seemingly militaristic control the security sometimes implements have made for some baaaaad experiences for many a fan over the years. Part of that could be a residual from the venue’s past with regards to rock bands here or it could be a Phish thing but either way it brought out the quirky almost-feels-like-a-protest-anthem ditty for us. The rest of the set is a song-based affair with thirteen played but it is notable that several of these were first timers for 3.0 including that opener, Sloth (57 show gap), Axilla (30 shows), and Ha Ha Ha (69 shows). And that Fish-penned tune preceded the debut of another, the now fairly loved Party Time.  The second set is a bit underwhelming (the Tweezer goes nowhere) but there is a standout 46 Days that even listening back sounds like it could be plucked from a show a little more recent than the rusty days of that tour. You probably won’t go spinning this one in full so grab the 46 Days and let’s move on.

06.26.2010  The next summer would be the first two night run at MPP which has been the case for every visit since. Again, we get that Crowd Control opener (not played between the two shows) and a largely meh first set that is mainly notable for the debut and one time cover of the Neutral Milk Hotel song In An Aeroplane Over The Sea. This was during that tour when every show (almost) had a one off cover by the band kind of like Summer ’98 where that was a thing too. The Phish version is nice enough but never stuck around after this night. Our second set starts off with a strong RnR which was an oft used vehicle in that time period, often alternating 2nd set opening slots with Disease. Later on a promising Tweezer got Horse’d (another trend that was a “thing” that summer) and then the set drifted off into a string of closers lumped together. This too is a show where you’ll pluck the RnR and maybe the Tweezer out before going elsewhere.

06.27.2010  On night two Phish was perhaps a bit more relaxed as they come out with a fun bustout of the instrument-switching, self-referential-lyrics-having Walfredo to open the night. Mainly a relic of the Europe ’97 February run, this was the first since the final run of 1.0 some 131 shows prior. There’s a nod to the venue in the early stanzas as they recollect the namesake of the song, Santana percussionist Walfredo Reyes, Jr., eating crab backstage at that first performance here in 1992 but other than that is is just another quirky rarity people like to pine for more than anything. Another bustout is next with Bob Marley’s Mellow Mood popping in for the first time in 89 shows before the set settles into another bunch of songs that don’t raise any eyebrows due to rarity or unique playing. The second set is one that was talked about quite a lot in the wake of this night as from the end of the Meatstick->Saw It Again combo the band got mighty playful, slipping in several teases amongst a seguefest type of run of songs. Piper has some Saw It Again in it and then Ghost gets more (and a San Ho Zay quote for good measure) before evolving into a had to have been planned debut of the Stones’ classic Jumpin’ Jack Flash which then morphed back to Saw It Again. The ensuing Contact has more Saw It Again and then the set closing YEM goes for broke with Saw It Again, Jumpin’ Jack Flash, Meatstick, Surfin’ Bird and Daniel Saw the Stone teases before one final Saw It Again nod in the encore Fire. These are the type of sets that are so much fun in the moment but sometimes don’t hold up quite so well on tape. Here some of that energy translates but mainly as a fun relic of a loose and fun night with our musical heroes.

06.11.2011  Just about a week short of a year later Phish was back again for another pair here, this time foregoing the Crowd Control opener for that Daniel Saw the Stone which was teased the year prior. That’s a 137 show gap ended for those keeping score at home. Again, the balance of the first set is pretty average though they did flirt with extending Roses Are Free  but that would have to wait for the wonderful excursion in the second show of the tour in Worcester on 06.08.2012. The second set here has thirteen songs which tells you a bit about how deep they didn’t go on anything and that’s in a set that includes a Tweezer (Horse’d again!), Waves (no end jam), RnR, Piper, and 2001. I was at this one and while a fun night definitely not anywhere close to one of my favorite shows even of the ones I attended just that year.

06.12.2011  Fitting the pattern with these two night stands here, the second night has a bit more to offer. First up are a couple of bustouts with one of the best old school openers there is, Buried Alive, coming in after a 46 show gap followed by a 141 show bustout of the VU song Lonesome Cowboy Bill. The rest of the set is pretty predictable as the band runs through a total of twelve songs on their way to the inevitable Zero closer. This is not to say that the band isn’t engaged, just that this is shaping up to be a Saturday Night Special rocker energy show which can be extremely fun when there even if it fell on a Sunday. They just don’t translate as well to tape. That energy is on full display during the C&P in the two slot of the second set where they never leave the song but peak the crap out of it before dripping into the start of Steam. Later Light is just about to start getting out there at the end of its main jam but instead we get The Wedge. Look, let’s put it this way: when the Alaska in this set is the third longest song and longer than Hood you aren’t exactly in jamlandia. The triple encore Sanity>Maki>First Tube feels like a bit of a makeup call when you really think about it considering all that didn’t go down in the second set there. Oh well. They can’t all be heaters…

07.13.2013  After taking 2012 off from MPP Phish returned for Summer 2013 with a first set that while still a tad on the stock side does have a couple of bustouts (Destiny after 61 shows; HttM after 49) and a few jamlets. I like this Taste even with the somewhat whale-y tone from Trey (which carries over into HttM) but the set ending Melt is probably the best highlight from this set. There’s a lot of bent tone dissonance here as Trey rides the back of that whale hard. There is never that feeling of oh-no-this-might-fly-right-off-the-tracks that makes the best Melts what they are but they stick the landing and everyone is safe to fight another day. The second set opening Disease starts off with some solid Trey Trill similar to what you’d hear in a Waves jam before they dive into open waters, Trey bending notes as Page tickles through to a beautifully sparse space. They hang here for a few minutes as each member tries out a new idea or two before Trey strums a few telling chords and we get a real live completed Disease! Those are actually pretty rare these days as the song is typically the launch pad into something else, going unfinished approximately 72.8% of the time (that stat is totally made up but probably not far off these days…). There’s a fun, peaky mid-set Hood here with some subtle teases of BOAF, Dog Log, and Divided along the way and then we get the second ever Architect before a set closing Mike’s>Simple>Paug where the Simple rocks out with melody that almost feels like the Disease return phrasing before the real closer in Paug. Fun show but still in that SNS vein.

07.14.2013  Night two here is a Sunday which brings out the well worn and not necessarily valid chants of “never miss a Sunday show!” from those attending. Hey, it’s said for a reason but there are definitely more than a few examples where this ‘axiom’ does not hold true (I’ll have more on this venue and days of the week in the stats at the end). Thankfully this one is not a big miss. After some table setting in the first set first half the band goes for it in a Stash that is a definite keeper. Yes, there’s the typical T&R here but there is also a section of lovely melodic playing as they build not to mention some chunkier, funkier bits along the path. It is definitely one of the more engaging takes on the song in 3.0. Next up is Mule which goes about as HOLD UP! What is this new toy Fish is playing?? Yep, this is the first ever use of the marimba lumina that we have grown so accustomed to hearing Fish (and Trey) play in 2016. It was quite the novelty in this song that summer. Who knew it would become Trey’s new mini-kit/keyboard rig? This is followed up by a punchy Ice>Tube>Lope end of set sequence as the band plays their most complete first set here since at least the start of 3.0. Golden Age starts off the second set and even if it doesn’t stray far from form there’s a nifty Third Stone From The Sun tease in there. After a jamless Twist and a WYSIWYG BDT#L they head into Light for the expected highlight vehicle of the set. Those expectations are met as this jam goes type II in a hurry with the band connecting on several mind meld ideas including a bit of hey hole type throwback playing and even a stop/start bit that avoids the full blown woo flu. This is a nonstop version that’ll get you up and moving. Mike comes in with the laser tone as they head into Boogie and then keep it rocking for Julius but the set closing YEM is more of what you want as there’s a decent if un-peaked jam and more tease fun with a quote of Set The Controls For The Heart Of The Sun (long time contender for one of the best songs with an annoyingly long name). This show holds the second night MPP being better rule as true once more with some very good jam highlights taboot.

07.26.2014  And now for the pair from 2014 where the infusion of the Wingsuit/Fuego tunes is seenas six of the ten songs from the album showing up in these two shows. The first night has a standard 3.0 first set with the one highlight being a lovely Roggae where Trey and Mike both interject thoughtful guitar lines. The second set cranks in with a raging Carini that only gets to the major peak in the final minutes which is really just a set up for the transition to Ghost. This Ghost starts out patiently and then Trey shifts into a lead mode, first playing a repeated phrase of chords that feel like they should be a tease but once you put that thought out of your head you realize it is just a happy times feel good music. Instead of peaking it out Trey shifts into another phase and the band follows into a face paced groove section full of Trey effects and Page synth lines until they drop out into Steam. The set continues without a lag as they pass through Mango, Monica, Light (with a couple of all too brief moments of full band connection), and 2001 on their way to a soaring Hood that caps the set. In a tour that was pretty uneven between the extremely high bar set at Randall’s Island and some of the lows elsewhere this set holds up as a beacon of what that tour could be when the band was comfortable and communicating.

07.27.2014  With another Sunday show to be played at MPP you have to start thinking about whether the axiom will hold considering this venue has a bit of an up and down history with Sunday shows. What they gave us though is one of those shows that transcends the day of the week to become one of the ones people talk of fondly years afterwards. You aren’t going to find any singular jam highlights in this one though the first set does have solid if not epic versions of Sand and YEM. The second starts off innocently enough with Wilson (as if anything related to that foul despot could be innocent) before they blast into Tweezer, eliciting cheers from the crowd about what could be. But when they hit the jam section Trey strums a few chords and Fish changes the beat and we are off into BOTT?! After a verse they drop back into Tweezer for a few bars then back to BOTT THEN back to Tweezer where the jam pays off, complete with some Manteca by Page and then they drop into one of those newer tunes, Waiting All Night. After a verse or two of Free the band comes back to Tweezer, then off to Simple (with a Magilla tease in there), then back to Tweezer, then into the start of Free. A quick verse or so of that and then we get our first big bustout with Catapult (206 show gap) which heads into a nice Slave. This segues into Disease which while not as long as most versions these days does get to a synth-heavy space in the end as they work towards the full segue to NICU. There’s a teeny tiny end jamlet here that is perhaps not as memorable as the one from 12.14.1995 and really is more bridge to the HYHU that follows but keeps the seguefest going all the same. So guess what that means! Yup, Fish Fun Time and I wonder what he’ll ‘sing’ tonight… oh, hang on a sec. Is this? What the… hey, they are playing the divisive Jennifer Dances! With Fish singing this goes about as well as one would expect and is a perfect Phish troll of those who were pining for the song to come back into play (this was only the fourth ever version and following a 352 show gap). Then after the HYHU to close Fish Fun Time (with a vocal quote of Jenny D by Fish) they start up another rarity with I Been Around, the B-side Page tune (it’s on the Party Time album of seconds from the Joy sessions) which had only been played three times before and not for 149 shows prior to this second set closing version, complete with the band walking off stage in lockstep together. The Boogie>Reprise encore is a nice capper on a wild and fun set. This is pretty much the definition of a seguefest and a great example of the benefits of adhering to the Sunday Axiom.

08.15.2015  In the end of Summer Tour run-up to the wonderful MagnaBall festival Phish played another Sat/Sun pair here, coming in hot off the run of shows leading up to this one. The Simple opener again gets a Magilla tease in a first set full of fun what with the bustouts (Glide and McGrupp both at 53 shows not to mention another three with 24 show gaps: Buried Alive, BBFCFM and YPC) and a fun acronym sandwich for BBFCFM>YPC>BBFCFM not to mention the obscure Gaktoidler reference in Lope (that’s from the 1996 Phishbill). The band is loose and having a good time which is always nice to see, particularly when you are looking forward to the second set to come. After a Halley’s opener they get right to business with a multi-phased 46 Days jam that goes from dark and menacing to light and bright before ending up in the power ballad Bug. This peaks well and then they hit Steam which gets WTU? in the middle which is always a welcome thing though here it replaces any real jam from Steam. The segues keep coming as they go into Piper, taking the song down into a low groove before bringing it up to a big peak and then heading into Tweezer. Hopes are high for this one in this late set slot but instead the band creates another sandwich (must’ve been Page’s turn to write the setlist) by going into NO2 after a 202 show gap (and for only the then sixth time ever). Okay, there’s a crunchy groove with loops getting there but still, there’s no big Tweezer jam here (but we were well rewarded a few days later so…). After a big WOTC closer we get more fun Phish as they talk up Page’s “all time favorite song” Sleeping Monkey which also gets quoted in the expected Reprise to follow. It can be argued that this is a more memorable show than the seguefest a year prior since there is some real live engaging jamming going on above the moves between songs but both definitely have a you-kinda-had-to-be-there vibe that doesn’t fully translate on tape. No matter what this was a grand way to start their weekend at MPP in 2015.

08.16.2015  The next night the band kept the fun going, first teasing that Sleeping Monkey before the show and then eventually quoting it in the YEM VJ at the end of the second set. In between there are a couple of bustouts that are not as big as the ones from the night before or night 2 in 2014 but still worth mentioning (Nothing – 139 shows; Shine A Light – 91 shows) as well as a few solid jams and an overall well played if not otherwordly show. NMINML gets that mutron funk workout, Stash is another solid T&R build version though well below the one from the year prior, and Bowie actually gets more than the standard take we have become accustomed to in 3.0 just to mention the first set bangers. The second frame is a tad song heavy in a way as eight songs that could almost all vie for vehicle status (save Shine A Light) compete for minutes resulting in none of them every really taking off. Sure, there’s nice bits in the Disease as Trey plays a thematic riff that popped into several jams that summer and Light has potential with the echo’d out jam but just as that is getting interesting they move into an unjammed Twist. Oh, and there’s a nice wobbly echo’d Sally before that YEM (which has a nice jam too) so check that one out. But these jamlets don’t elevate this show above what it is. This is a SNS on a Sunday, unfortunately. It’s tough when your older brother is better than you but so it goes.


Time now for the Tale Of The Tape!

Venue:  Merriweather Post Pavilion

No. of Shows:  fifteen

Intangibles:  good fanbase reach being situated in Mid-Atlantic has made it a consistent two night tour stop (in 3.0), woodsy setting and grass lots make for a fun day pre-show, big crazy lawn can be a ton of fun though you’ll want the pav for better sound and sightlines, you get to see helicopters?

Recurring Themes:  two night stands (five such in 3.0); weekend shows as Phish has only ever played here Friday (2 times), Saturday (7 times), and Sunday (6 times – which is a lot comparatively); band likes to play Hood (6 total) here not to mention BDT#L, Free, Stash, Tweezer, and Reprise all which have five appearances; Crowd Control openers (2), SEGUEFESTS!!

Key Jams/Songs:  1992 – no tapes!; 1998 – Sally, Sweet Jane (debut), 2001, Piper, Hood, Sabotage (debut); 1999 – Jim, Free>WTU?, Mike’s->Twist>Paug; 2000 – Gin, Curtain (With), RnR>Theme->Dog Log>Mango; 2009 – Tweezer, 46 Days, Party Time (debut); 2010 – IAAOTS (debut), RnR, Tweezer, Saw It Again seguefest set; 2011 – yeah, so… I got nothing here… maybe the Tweezer, RnR, Piper, C&P, and Light? that’s what PJJ has…; 2013 – Melt, Disease, Hood, Simple, Stash, Mule, Ice, Golden Age, Light; 2014 – Roggae, Carini->Ghost, Hood, Tweezer seguefest set; 2015 – Roggae, 46 Days, Steam>WTU?>Steam, Piper, Tweezer->NO2->Tweezer, Monkey->Reprise fun; Stash Bowie, Disease, Sally

PJJ Ratio:  MPP comes in at a solid 3.00 JPS rating (the average for all venues under consideration in this project is 2.48). Not the best but a better than average showing for this venue.

Merriweather has some 1.0 history including some of the best jams that have been produced here but it is really the 3.0 shows that have given it its reputation. There are frequently Sunday shows here which fans love and outside of a few underwhelming sets the crowd and band connect well in this place. Throw on a couple of “legendary” seguefest sets and this venue is one that fans try to hit if they can swing it. The feel here is a bit of the South but more of the Northeast, contributing to a buzzing vibe and energy feedback loop that can make seeing shows here a quite memorable experience. Just don’t linger in the lots lest the copters getcha!

Come On Dudes Let’s Get IT On – Omaha, NE 11.16.1996

Phish — Civic Auditorium — Omaha, NE 11.16.1996

I  Poor Heart>Disease, Guyute, Gumbo, Rift, Free, Old Home Place, Bowie, Lawn Boy>Sparkle>Frankenstein

II  La Grange>Jim->VoL->Kung->Catapult, Axilla>Hood>Suzy, Amazing Grace

E  We’re an American Band


After getting tricksy and jamming hard in St. Louis on Friday night Phish traveled another 400+ miles for their Saturday night stop in Omaha, NE visiting the largest city in the Cornhusker state for the first (and only) time. This marked the band’s sixth in a row with some form of performance starting with the Monday night show in Grand Rapids and including the pre-game performance of the Star Spangled Banner for the Minnesota Timberwolves game on Tuesday before four straight nights of shows capped by this one in the other Gateway to the West. Seriously, when you have two regional capital cities that are less than 500 miles apart trying to promote themselves with the same moniker it induces some head scratching on the part of those of us who perhaps aren’t as hip to the history of westward expansion and the role that crossing big rivers plays in that. That confusion aside, in the past week they have covered over 1,600 miles of travel through the Midwest to make their total over the tour more than 7,100 miles which would take a hell of a lot of grilled cheese sold in order to cover your gas money not to mention tickets, food, lodging, and whatnot. I sure hope you had a better fiscal plan than relying on your grilled cheese margins for covering those expenses. Somehow you made it here though and with the cold weather just amplifying along the path you are really hoping for another hot show to keep the chill at bay for perhaps one more day


Sheerly by the virtue of the low number of times that the band has played in this state, Nebraska might have an argument for being one of the best places to see Phish (statistically) so you have that going for you coming in. I say that with some confidence knowing that prior to this night there had only been one show in the state over in the capital and home to the University of Nebraska, Lincoln. If for some reason you don’t already know that show from 10.21.1995 you should probably pause here and go ahead and spin that because it is very much worth your time. I mean, there are only three shows where they have ever opened with Reprise of which this is one and the other two are 11.09.1995 which is quite stellar and 06.19.2010 which is… um, well, it is a fun show that has both a Reprise opener and encore? Yeah, okay, it isn’t exactly the best show ever but they were really having fun with the Reprise thing after the double encore of it in Hartford and then opening SPAC with it for the third performance of the song in a row and then Trey teasing it in there before they capped the show with it as well (in what could go down as one of the more obvious calls in band history if you follow the setlists closely each tour). But yeah that Lincoln show (at yet another now defunct venue, the Civic Auditorium) has some heat in the lead up to Halloween on that epic tour. Big time Bowie, really fun YEM, a beaut of a Hood, one of those real purty Rebas, teases all over the place, a return to Reprise out of a shreddy GTBT to close the first set, and just a solid top to bottom show all around. Go ahead and spin that (there’s even an official archival release available on LivePhish) and come back. We will be here when you are all caught up.


::checks imaginary wristwatch::

::stares longingly out of window::


… hmmm… I wonder if they are coming back. Can someone do one of those facesnaptwitogram things all the kids are on about and see whether we just lost everybody to Fall ’95? I really shouldn’t be promoting other shows as highly as I do. The guys in Marketing are really gonna lay into me again and I just don’t need that kind of stress right now, man. It’s just that, wait what’s that? We’re good to go? Really? My producer is giving me the sign to keep it rolling so we won’t try to stretch this out any further. Okay, let’s do this!


The festivities on this evening begin with Poor Heart (while we don’t have full show video of this one I’ll sprinkle in what I have found on YT), that witty ditty about stolen tapedecks which has been a setlist staple forever. I was a bit surprised to find out, however, that in all of its 294 performances the song has only ever opened 13 shows (and 9 second sets) which really feels quite low. Now, granted, the song often comes in at the #2 or #3 slot as a secondary punch in the opening combo but this is still a lot less than I would have guessed. It gets weirder still since three of those openers happened in single set opener slots during the Summer ’92 run when they were opening for Santana and another is a Santana opener from Summer’ 96 so the number of full Phish shows that have Poor Heart openers is then only nine. Looking at those shows there really isn’t much to point to in terms of cohesiveness except perhaps that (leaving out the single setters) they did it three times each in 1995 and 1996, haven’t opened a show with Poor Heart since 09.21.1999, played Bowie in 7 of the 9 shows, and that’s it. There’s nothing else to really link these shows. And I have now spent way more time on this than anyone really should and it is keeping us from the show here so let’s just keep it moving. Poor Heart gives way to Down with Disease and tonight we have another fiery first set version that starts off with a little double tap *ting* by Mike in the intro and then takes off for a screaming bit of shred that really kicks the set into gear. Riding that wave they then head into Guyute, our second of the tour, and pretty well nail the big composed rocker. I always feel like there is more that I should be saying about this tune but outside of the end peak part it really doesn’t do much for me personally. I know there are those who chase it or whatever and I am probably a bit jaded on it having seen it way too much at its peak but there’s just no there there for me. I’d rather they spent that 10+ minutes on something a bit less… I dunno… predictable? Eh, whatever, it is perfectly fine prawg rawk so yeah. Oh well, I guess we can now say I’ve discussed it and move on. Next up is Gumbo, our fourth fun, dancy, energetic tune to start the set and just as in Grand Rapids this one gets the Maple Leaf Rag ending which is nice. Keeping their collective feet on the proverbial pedal the band cranks into Rift for a run through the, um, Rift number and then drops into Free yet again for the eighth time in 23 shows. That’s not a complaint by any means as they have settled into a satisfyingly dirty mode of jamming this song on this tour. Tonight’s version gets some Trey mini-kit fill action including the whistle wah in the big, swirling build and pays off in a fist-pumping manner for all the dudes in the front row.


And then in the wake of Free we finally get a bit of a respite from all of that rocking Phish as they trot out The Old Home Place for our second grassy tune of the night. This allows the full-bladdered folk to run off to do their business and then a few minutes later they drop right back into the bigger stuff with what will be the anchor of the set in David Bowie (Part I, Part II). The intro to this Bowie is a bit different than normal with Trey playing bent, almost twangy notes to accent the high hat and then when they get to the kick it is on. Fitting the mode of these first sets (and for this song in general in this time period) this Bowie is mainly of the type I variety though in the first half of the jam Trey keeps it low key and opts to explore around the Bowie theme in building all of that wonderful tension we look for in this song. There is a great deal of patience shown here as unlike in a version you might here nowadays they really give this one room to become more than just a run to the peak. I mention “nowadays” because here in 3.0 Bowie is a neutered form of its former self, never going as deep as it once did when it was one of THE biggest of vehicles but even still not even touching some of the latter day 1.0 and even a few in 2.0 ones that get into some type II exploration. I’m not saying this Omaha Bowie is an all-timer or anything but even in a relatively tame version there is more to be found here than in most of the 3.0 Bowies with the notable exceptions of the one that came in the wake of the Disease Supreme on 06.03.2011 and perhaps 12.28.2012 which are coincidentally the only 3.0 versions to eclipse 15 minutes…  Now we finally get the first real breather of the set as Page comes out to croon Lawn Boy which then gives way to a non-FMS Sparkle (obviously). After that they romp through a spot on cover of Frankenstein (I have an irrational love for this song) to cap this fun if not phenomenal first set, sending the faithful to the break with yet another LIE about being back in about fifteen minutes. At this point I am surprised we believe anything they say what with how much they push this deceitful agenda on their adoring fans.


Steaming about this seemingly tongue in cheek comment by Trey you storm out to the concourse to get some fresh air, fume a bit, and maybe stretch the legs before the band decides to come back whenever that happens. As you do you hear passing conversations about other great events that have gone down here at the (now closed) Civic Auditorium like that Elvis show in ’77 which was one of his last or that epic Vice Presidential debate between Bentson and Quayle from 1988 which birthed the famous “Senator, you’re no Jack Kennedy” line (found around the 59:00 mark in that video) or the 07.05.1978 and 10.21.1973 Dead shows that went down here. I’m sure there are other highlights at this venue but I am not getting in the habit of noting Hootie and the Blowfish shows so we’ll just nip that in the bud right now, mister. Eventually you make it back to your spot and get ready for what should be another hot set if the past few after Ames are any indication of direction (pro tip: never make assumptions about future Phish sets based on the relative performance of previous sets as this can go wrong in several ways). The lights go down and you start to get yourself ‘right’ as the band starts into our first La Grange since the prior year’s New Year’s Run (56 shows) and from the get you can tell Trey is going to tear this one up. That assumption is correct as there are no signs of rust on this bluesy rocker, a song now residing in the “Where are they now” files since it petered out of rotation in late 1.0 and has only been played once in 3.0 on 07.08.2012. Wrapping this up they bring out Runaway Jim, working through the verses and then heading out into a focused jam that sticks to the main theme of the song while also forging some new ground. After searching a bit they land in a fast paced groove that allows Trey to toy around on top, offering up staccato lines and such that lean towards something a bit in the Hendrix-ish way but still not quite there (though we will soon enough). There is a funkiness going on here as well as this groove punches on before they drop into a less structured phase that sets up the transition space.


After a minute or so of effects Trey comes to the mic and asks Fish to drop out on the drums allowing him to introduce the bustout of the Vibration of Life (148 shows), a ‘song’ most common in 1994 but also found in 1992, 1993, and here in 1996. If you aren’t familiar with it the performance can be either confusing or eye-opening in that holy-crap-these-hippies-are-weird way but I was always a fan of it if nothing else but for looking around to see the confused looks on the unknowing faces surrounding – perhaps due to having caught almost a third of the 22 total performances of it. The song typically showed up in the middle of or as the resolution to something else, most frequently in the middle of YEM but also oddly in the middle of Mockingbird and a couple of times in Bowie intros. While seemingly serious about resetting ones energy and stuff the VoL is really more joke than anything (just spin the 10.31.1994 version in the middle of Harpua if you have any doubt) what with it’s reference to “seven beats per second” that basic math will tell you is 420 beats per minute, stoner boy. Some will say this song is a waste of precious second set potential jam time but I argue that it is an example of when they are feeling loose and comfortable on stage which opens things up to any sort of possibility musically. It is in the vein of stuff like Catapult, Faht, Kung, and the other stuff that those not ‘in on the joke’ would have no frame of reference for in coming to a show for the first time since those ones don’t hit the setlist of the type of tape one would give to a newbie to prime them for a first time Phishing trip. So when they drop this bustout then follow it with one of those really wild Kungs (pretty sure there is a *ting* in there somewhere too) and then take that into Catapult that really sets a tone as to where their heads are on the evening — and also probably threw more than a few spunions upside down and sideways in the wake of that Jim jam. Then, as if to put an exclamation point on it even further they go from Catapult right into a raging Axilla that devolves into the Axilla II ending where the band throws in bits of Kung, shout outs to Lee Fordham and the rest of the Light Crew, and more madness as Trey riffs off of the “don’t shine that thing in my face” bit from Axilla II. With one last “Leeeeeee Fordham” that every time I hear it sounds to me like he is saying “Riiiiiiicola” out of one of those lozenge commercials they turn on a dime and drop into the intro the Harry Hood. Just go ahead and cue that video up as it is worth it and adds to the context of the performance greatly.


Perhaps you already know this version of the song based on the reputation it has deservedly gotten over the years but please indulge me here. This Hood encapsulates a lot about what we look for in Phish in one tidy 15+ minute segment from a show. Starting with the canonic ‘reggae’ intro the band is loose as Fish and Trey throw in more Lee Fordham nods and Mike accents with numerous *tings* of the fight bell. Moving to the lyrics Trey replaces the “Harry” line with “LEE!” as Fish answers with “FORDHAM!” (in my opinion, a much better exchange than the annoying call and response we cannot seem to outgrow that started at Red Rocks ’96 based on a fan flier). A faithful and true run through the composed section mellows the mood a bit and then we are off into the build towards the jam. The band and crowd are rising together here, all but willing this thing to explode even before we get to the last “Thank you Mr. Hoooooooood”. The band moves into the jam with a quiet feel and a ton of patience as Trey assumes his prototypical staring-out-into-the-yonder-that-actually-is-the-ceiling-of-the-venue pose, leading with delicate lines as Page adds color on the electric piano. The move along here for a few minutes in building the beautiful climb towards the peak we all know is coming and the pace quickens as Trey noodles around. As you whirl around with eyes closed and smiling that uncontrollable grin this song tends to evoke Trey stops searching and holds a note (innocently at first) as the rest of the band continues to jam. After about 30 seconds he is playing at pulling the note out of his guitar and soon he is using his pick hand to egg on the crowd as the other three are just going nuts all while that note sustains. The crowd catches wind and adds to the energy as Trey head bangs and pumps his fist in response to the jam Fish, Mike, and Page are throwing down and by about the two minute mark of this you start wondering how long they can go with this. The anticipation continues to build as Trey holds the note for another minute, finally coming back into the lead after more than three minutes. The crowd erupts in response and then the four continue to jam with Trey shredding on top of the ordered cacophony of major key rage they have constructed. By the time they come back for the end refrain you can sense that everyone has been waiting to exhale and step down from your tippy toes, offering up that release we all sought. Not willing to provide any break for the weary they come out of the end swirl by punching into Suzy Greenberg to the elation of the crowd. This Suzy has more Lee Fordham fun, a La Grange tease by Trey in the first break before Page’s organ bit, and then an Axilla tease by Trey in the next break before Page’s piano solo. It is the sort that caps a hot set with the callbacks to earlier goings down. It sure feels like this will be the set closer but then the band pops out front for a little a cappella to send everyone off into the night, busting out Amazing Grace for the first time this tour since they last played it to encore the first night of the Clifford Ball. Heading then to the encore there are a ton of songs they could potentially play here so you have to wonder what is up when they count off and wait for Fish to get it going. But when he does he starts into one of those oh-so-familiar classic rock intros that were the soundtrack of our collective FM radio youth, knocking the beat and cowbell of the Grand Funk Railroad rocker We’re An American Band a song that is obviously a debut for the band on this night. With its raucous tone and referential lyrics (you know, that whole verse about Omaha and the Saturday night thing?) it is a perfect choice to send everyone out into the night on another high note. And after that almost fully segued, scorching hot second set (save for the Amazing Grace) I know I would have been skipping and hooting and hollering as we made our way out into the cold night. The energy that comes from that kind of experience can stay with you for a while which is obviously a part of why we do this time and again — and it might benefit you if your next move was to get into the car to start the trek down to Memphis for the show two nights later.


Judging from the past two shows, we have hit another upward swing on this tour as the band is gelling something fierce and really connecting with the crowd as well. Sure, the first sets are still (and will continue to be) largely energy/song-based affairs but that’s not unexpected in any era. But carrying that energy forward into the more open waters of these second sets is something that this band does so well — and that makes the belly flop in Ames all the more telling as an outlier. With a dozen more shows to come on this tour and the entire West Coast swing still waiting things are heading to another peak with this show pushing the potential higher as we go. Considering that as I mentioned above this was their sixth night of some form of performance in a row it speaks to their interest and intent for there to be not a single misstep here. This show is one of those that combines all of the things that make Phish who they are: execution, energy, connection, humor, hijinx, open jamming, bustouts, covers, and more. I know that the ‘weird’ setlist inclusions in that mid second set might not turn on the newbiest of newbs but as a snapshot of this band tonight’s show is a pretty strong option for one to give to a friend who asks you what this band is all about. They may not get IT at first but once they hear other shows and then come back to this one they will thank you and perhaps say something like “yeah, now I understand why you gave me that tape” assuming you still give your friends cassettes which would be weird because your friend would probably look at you funny and throw it back in your face because who even has a tape deck anymore besides that one dude who always seems to have good drugs but who still drives a beat up 80s Subaru that is definitely being held together by the stickers that cover about 90% of the once painted rear end that screams to cops “please pull me over” and what was I talking about? Eh, you probably got the point there. Your takeaways from this one are the Hood, Jim, and Bowie for the first tier and then the La Grange and We’re an American Band for the second. I would say throw in the VoL->Kung->Catapult->Axilla section too but let’s keep those to ourselves and besides you are spinning that whole second set through anyway so who cares what I put on that player on the sidebar. Rest up now because this tour is on fire pretty much from here on out and Memphis has some seriously big guns and a fun sit-in coming up next.

Don’t You See Anything That You’d Like To Try?

Fall 98 Takeaways

You see that little spreadsheet above? That’s the tracking for our takeaways from this here Fall 1998 Phish Tour. This is the raw data from the end of each post where I identify what songs are potentially worthy of the highlight reel, based on a highly scientific set of criteria that is all subject to my personal and quite subjective preferences. The songs highlighted in yellow are the ones I throw in as “add ons”. Any time you see a segue notation (> or ->) that denotes that the song following it here is part of the sequence. There ends up being a lot of songs here to work through but this is what we do as scarily obsessive fans. I do not expect that another person’s list would be the same as mine but then they aren’t the guy writing this blog now are they?


Over the next few posts I will be taking these “takeaway jams” and categorizing them a bit, perhaps tiering them in some fashion. The goal here is really to revel in the wonderful music, not to offer anything that could be mistaken as ranking art. For simplification and ease of digestion it becomes more expedient to break them into groups but that is more convenience than anything. That said, there are some versions of songs here that are “next level” Phish and as such we will focus on them more than the relatively straight forward or otherwise not srs bns epcot level jams. If you feel that there is anything that I have missed here, leave it in the comments. That way we can all point and laugh at whoever puts forth the proposition that there should be more Wadings in the list (just as an example, of course…).



Hoping to Lighten The Tension – Worcester, MA 11.27.1998

Phish — Worcester Centrum Centre — Worcester, MA 11.27.1998

I  Funky Bitch, Ya Mar, Carini, Jim, Meat>Reba, Old Home Place, DST, Vultures, Circus, BOAF

II  Buried Alive>Wipe Out>CDT->Mirror in the Bathroom->CDT->Dog Log->CDT>Sanity>Buffalo Bill>Mike’s->H2>Weekapaug->Wipe Out->Weekapaug>Paug Reprise>Antelope

E  Wading, Golgi>Wipe Out


Ah, Worcester. City of Seven Hills. Wormtown. Heart of the Commonwealth and the City of Dreams. The Woo! We have mentioned how certain cities and venues seem to bring out the best in Phish and our scene and Worcester, MA is right up there with Hampton, New York City, The Gorge, Colorado, Chicago, and more as a place Phish just seems to feel at home. Over the years Phish has played this town 18 times, first back at the Clark University Pub on 01.19.1990. That’s a venue that I am pretty certain does not exist anymore. But from there they take things bigger first with a New Year’s Eve show on 12.31.1991 at the old Worcester Memorial Auditorium which is a really cool building with a storied history. This article gives a glimpse into this now closed venue. I can imagine that those murals would have been fun to check out with Phish as your soundtrack. After that the band didn’t play here for two full years as they again graced a Worcester stage at the famed Centrum (now DCU Center) that has been home to so many great concerts over the years.


Phish’s first appearance there on 12.31.1993 is a show that many point to as a tipping point for the band (and a great tape to give people new to the band to give them a clue of what this band is all about). That show got a radio broadcast and their are remastered soundboards in circulation which helped to make this a very widespread and popular recording… though the music itself really tells the tale with stellar versions of Reba, Tweezer, YEM, and Hood (some hold this as their favorite Hood ever) as well as the debut of the jam that would become Down With Disease to celebrate the new year. Since that night Phish has been back to this venue fifteen more times first for a pair of shows on the NYE 1995 Run on 12.28.1995 (home to a fantastic Tweezer and more) and 12.29.1995 (ever hear of The Real Gin? Yeah.) preceding the two epic shows at MSG, three Thanksgiving weekend gems in 1997 (11.28.1997 where the Ghost gets the love but don’t miss the YEM and pretty much the whole 2nd set, 11.29.1997 with the longest jam in band history for Runaway Jim, and 11.30.1997 with the big first set Wolfman’s and the Stash->Free>Jam->Piper), the three big time shows from around Thanksgiving 1998 that we will cover here, a single night on the Winter 2003 Run 02.26.2003 perhaps best known for the solo band tunes featured in the first frame but the jams here are big too, another pair of pre-MSG NYE Run shows in 2010 (12.27.2010 accompanied by an epic blizzard that influenced song choices and 12.28.2010 which begat the magnificent plinko funk Hood), the two Summer 2012 Tour opening shows (06.07.2012 with that amazing Carini->Taste>Ghost>Boogie>If I Could segment to start the 2nd set and 06.08.2012 with the return of the Roses jam, the Sandy Kane jam and more), and a pair of Fall 2013 shows on the path to Atlantic City for Halloween (10.25.2013 with the Waves>Carini and 10.26.2013 with its great 2nd set highlighted by Drowned>Light not to mention the Kenwood Dennard sit-in in the encore). Here’s a jams-only playlist over at our friends for you to peruse if this Worcester stuff sounds interesting. I didn’t even mention any of the 1998 highlights and already I am like 1,000 words into this write-up without touching a note of the show above. I suppose I should get to that…


All of that background sets the stage here for high expectations out of the fanbase. Perhaps that could have been on the band’s minds in kicking off their second Turkey Run of shows in as many years here (and the final run of shows on the tour too) but if it was they sure didn’t show it on stage. Instead we are treated to “one of those shows” where everything seems to come together to produce something bigger than the sum of its highly segmented setlist parts. Just take a look at that setlist up there. Seriously. Check it out. Remind you of anything? Like one of those epic seguefest shows all the setlist geeks are always squealing about? Well here we have one of the biggies in Phish history. This is canon. I’ll do my best to work through everything here but you really need to just spin this show to get an idea of how it all went down.


The first set is a bit more traditional, starting off with two covers in Funky Bitch and Ya Mar. The Funky Bitch is fun and gets the crowd into it but the Ya Mar is our first highlight as they add on a cool little jam (with a I Dream of Jeannie tease by Mike along the way). A short Carini is next with a streaker reference and then they kick into Runaway Jim. At this point the crowd is wondering if it will be like the hour long epic from last year. It is not. BUT it does have a nice little Jim Jam at the end which is worth the listen. Our sixth Meat of the tour is next and this one lacks the coda ambient jam but does go right into Reba which is a perfectly acceptable replacement. Reba gets a fight bell *ting* at the drop into the jam and then they build to a predictably good peak. Trey is on point throughout this one with everyone else along for the ride. Nothing revolutionary in this one but definitely a pretty, clean version. A breather for our bluegrass slot tonight brings The Old Home Place in for the first time since the Bridge Benefit shows before this tour then a quick Dogs Stole Things and our first Vultures of the Fall. There’s something about that song that always makes me think it might blow up into a jam but, alas, that has yet to occur. The pre-closer ballad slot gets Los Lobos’ When The Circus Comes and then they bring the set home with a soaring if straight forward Birds of a Feather. Judging from this first set you can tell they came to play but at this stage they have yet to really open it up or give us a hint of what might be to come in the 2nd set. Perhaps better that they saved that surprise…


So after braving the horror that used to be the Centrum bathrooms (seriously, there are some legendary stories about how bad it used to be here before the recent renovations helped… somewhat) you settle back in for the second set and they kick into the second Buried Alive of the tour. Always a good one to kick off a set, tonight it drops into a massive bustout (722 shows!) as they head into the surf rock classic Wipeout. That’s the Surfaris version but I might prefer the Beach Boys/Fat Boys take on it. Ah, the 80s where questionable musical collaborations and funny music videos shaped the world for generations to come… In the Phish world the playing of this song was once a band in joke to make fun of a mistake (i.e. a “wipe out” similar to when a surfer loses it while attempting to catch a tube, as they might say. I’m sure you had trouble figuring that out all by yourself). There are several teases of the song noted throughout the years and two times it actually made it to a setlist in 1991. It was a direct reference in the Vibe of Life portion of the Forbin’s narration on 11.17.1994 so when it came up for the first time again here in the early part of this set it was definitely a head scratching move to the fans. After this they crank into Chalkdust Torture which has a bit more Wipeout in it not to mention Mike playing the baseline to another song familiar to those who matured in the 80s, Mirror in the Bathroom, the wonderfully catchy ska radio hit by The Beat (known here in the U S of A as The English Beat because apparently we need more specificity in differentiating between British ska bands and not really memorable late 70s pop rock bands – apologies if you are big on stuff like this but then if you are what the heck are you doing reading a Phish nerd blog??). That Mike tease is foreshadowing because pretty soon thereafter as they jam CDT the band turns on a dime to start up the debut of Mirror in the Bathroom in earnest before heading back to CDT. Again, they jam the CDT theme before dropping into a bluesy space and adding a few lines from Dog Log in for good measure. This bleeds right back into CDT for a few bars and then we dive into Sanity followed by Buffalo Bill (first one in 75 shows) as the segues keep coming. Catch your breath for a sec because we are only half way home.


Buffalo Bill (one of my longest sought after tunes that I finally caught at Magnaball this summer!) heads into Mike’s Song and now you are thinking, “okay, here we go! just jam, maaaaaaan!” and they do for a bit with a second jam that goes ambient with some nice effects by Trey and Page, leading to a lovely full segue into the “bustout” of I Am Hydrogen (first in 68 shows so the judges say it counts). This is a nice interlude and then we head right into Weekapaug Groove for a triumphant jam that heads to the mountain top peak (with a Nellie Kane tease by Trey in here) before they pull off a full segue back to Wipe Out and then again back to Weekapaug. Things really start getting interesting here as they go double time in bringing this to the apparent close for the song before diving back in to reprise the song with another full Paug jam. Trey first starts to attack and then backs off to set a sustain note/loop as he and Mike then play leads over that note that pierces through in the background. Things get a bit darker here as the continue in this vein for a few minutes before transitioning out to the Run Like An Antelope closer. This Antelope starts out patiently with a somewhat extended primary jam before rising to that frenetic peak and insanity that make this such a great set closing tune. It isn’t the best or most exploratory version you will ever hear but it is a shreddy Lope so who’s complaining?


For the encores it is pretty much gravy at this stage so when they start up Wading in the Velvetta Cheese you just kinda shrug and start to collect your marbles that have someone been scattered all over your section by this set. Admittedly, Trey plays a nice enough solo so you decide to stick around to see if they drop a big energy tune afterwards. You get that with Golgi Apparatus not to mention a final dip into Wipeout so I guess it was worth it. Besides, the Dirty Woo shakedown scene will go long into the night so there’s no rush needed, my friend. The Nitrous Mafia will be waiting for you. Oh, and there is some funny banter between Trey and Fish to be found here if you like that sort of thing.


So how did we like this one? This, like most if not all of the other famed “seguefest” shows (such as 02.20.1993, 05.07.1994, 06.22.1994, 07.27.2014, and on) is a highly beloved show in the fanbase. It combines high energy, stop on a dime musical changes, top notch playing, a few nice jams, and all of the intangibles that make IT all part of the experience. Sure, there is no transcendent monster jam but this is a show that is fun to the core without worry about anything but being in the moment with it. The band is arguably at their best when they are the most un-serious, allowing themselves to take chances they might otherwise think better of. The result is that this show stands as the seventh best rated show ever on .net behind such gems as Big Cypress’s Millenium Set, the amazing middle day of this year’s Magnaball Festival, one of the best two set shows ever from Denver ’97, the mountaintop performance that was NYE 1995 at MSG, one of the best 2.0 shows from Nassau Coliseum, and the ridiculous Drum Logos show from the Japan 2000 tour. There is rightfully a LivePhish release of this one (LP06) and the auds out there are great too so do yourself a favor and spin this one top to bottom to find out what all the fuss is about. And if you like the video check out this for the full second set (with sbd audio). Eagle eyed fans will know that in the start to Weekapaug (around the 42:50 mark) Trey has one of his biggest “Poor Sue” moments….  Of course, as we must do, here are your takeaways for the show: Ya Mar, Jim, Reba, perhaps BOAF if you like em shreddy, and the entirety of the second set. Believe me, it is worth the time as it will also help you to make more sense of the rest of this weekend of shows if you hear this one first. Now go get that balloon, wook. You’ve earned it.

My Temperature Started To Rise — Las Vegas, NV 10.30.1998

Phish — Thomas & Mack Center — Las Vegas, NV 10.30.1998

I  Wilson>Meat>Mule>BATCS>Mule, Long Cool Woman, Antelope, Guelah, Lizards, Cavern

II  Stash->Manteca->Tweezer->NICU>Jam->Caspian>Golgi

E  Driver, Freebird

One night after the tour opener in Los Angeles the caravan had moved northwest along I-15 (or THE I-15 if you are of the west coast persuasion, I suppose) to that ode to human weakness in the desert, Las Vegas, for a pair of shows at the Thomas & Mack Center on the campus of UNLV, but a short distance from the main concentration of decadence along The Strip and its surroundings. This was the second time the band had played the venue (and city) and the second Fall Tour in a row to include this stop as they had opened the 1997 Fall Tour in this very place.  The pair of shows they threw down here in 1998 builds off of what began in LA (though really with the ambient set from Lemonwheel if we are being honest…) while diving even further into the deep end with several notable jams. The anticipation and demand were very high for these shows, considering that the second night fell on one of the high holidays in the world of Phish, Halloween. But prior to that night’s surprises we are treated to an opening night that holds its own tricks and treats.

This first set starts out innocently enough with Wilson — as if any set can be considered ‘innocent’ when the first song relays the tale of a despot who enslaved a race of people all due to his desire for a certain book (yes, I am vastly oversimplifying it but you know what I mean) — and this first one of the tour gets a little extra sauce in the Trey solo as he brings out that electro run of notes that popped up several times in the first show of tour. From here they dip into the languid funkiness of Meat for the first time this tour. This bleeds right into something of a different sort entirely as they bring the energy up a few notches for Scent of a Mule. The first half of this goes true to form but once Page enters his solo that typically evolves into the klezmer duel they drop into a quite familiar groove which I would expect that many in the audience did not immediately recognize to be the Phish debut of the Jimmy Smith classic Back At The Chicken Shack. Let’s be honest though, the real lack of recognition in this crowd would come the next night when they came out for the second set’s cover album of one of the seminal bands of the late 60s, but that’s getting ahead of ourselves a tad. This debut proves to be a pretty straight forward take on the funky organ-led track which would be sprinkled into seven more setlists over the next two years before hitting the shelf. After working their way through this they return to the Mule to finish up the klezmer duel and to catch their breath for the first real ‘stop’ in the set considering the songs up until now had all been segued together.

At this point Trey banters with the crowd, stating that “they tell us this is the fifteenth anniversary of our first show” (or something. close enough.) in introducing the next song to be played. Even though future research would prove this statement to be incorrect (the actual first show occurred 12.02.1983, some 30 plus days later) it was a nice way to get a performance of Long Cool Woman In A Black Dress (that title is waaaaaay toooo looooong) out of the band after, oh, only 1,207 shows. They rock their way quite well through the Hollies’ radio-friendly hit from back in 1971 and there is a funny moment at the end as Fish tries to get them to restart it since he enjoyed it so much. The band says no. Next up is a mid-set Antelope which is always nice considering its ubiquity in the first and second set closings slots these days. Tonight’s version has that evolving ’98 sound in spades, first in the initial build where they go away from the song structure for several bars before coming back around to the main theme and layering in that ambient sound. Trey adds some color that directly relates back to last night’s Reba awesomeness as they climb towards the ‘rye rye rocco’ section and the eventual peak of this Lope. This is clearly a concerted musical shift for the band here and something we will be hearing time and again throughout this tour. Lope leads us to our old friend Guelah Papyrus and tonight’s is about as unique as any of the plethora of times they played it back in that Spring ’93 tour which is to say it is not unique at all. A lovely run through Lizards follows this with a decent solo out of Trey before we get our third mostly formulaic tune for the set closing Cavern. At this point, a set break is well deserved considering we have gotten not just a bunch of cannon fodder but some quality jams and hints of where things are headed here both in the short and long term.

After what must have seemed like an endless setbreak (they all feel that way though when you are holding your thoughts in your hands and trying to keep your eyes from eating your toes, don’t they?) the band comes out and tinkles around a tad before — just like last night — dropping into a song that has traditionally been a first set tune. The placement within the set is not the same, but just like Reba Stash has been played many more times in setting the table than in the latter half of the show, having only appeared in the second set (75), third set (2), or encore (2) slots 79 out of 398 total performances. That’s 19.85% for those counting at home and I did remove as many of the ‘sandwich’ double mentions as I could in getting that figure. The Stash from this night is not really the main attraction here as the jam gets to some sparser space fairly quickly, leaving the tension & release for another night’s version. It becomes evident fairly quickly that there is something brewing here and once Trey hints at the melody to Manteca you realize this was coming long before then. The segue is flawless and we get a drone-heavy take on the bustout — 219 shows with the last being part of what many consider their favorite Stash ‘suites’ ever. and who would blame them for thinking that about THIS! — which includes the lyrics before dying down into the ambient drone once more. Trey plays around for a bit here and again we start to hear the next song before it arrives as they stick the landing on yet another perfect segue, this time into Tweezer.

If you are looking for a bombastic Tweezer with a massive blissy peak and a bunch of shred, this will not be the one for you. Nor is it an off-the-reservation-face-melting psychedelic juggernaut. But this is a great version for entirely different reasons. With the benefit of hindsight we can now understand what they were doing here (and in several of these jams we have mentioned from the prior show and the first set tonight) as it builds off of the ambient vibe they are laying down while also pretty well providing the blueprint of what the Halloween set will be, if you know anything about that band’s style and musical execution. I want to save the full discussion of that correlation for the next post where we will cover all of that but I cannot ignore it either. So let’s focus on the other aspects that make this a noteworthy jam. First, they play around the Tweezer theme for a bit in the typical way before Trey lays down a ‘drone’ loop that provides the background for everything to come. With this still in place the band begins adding more and more layers to this soundscape, Page providing dark intonations, Mike pulsating on the bass, Fish offering ideas and colorful fills/crashes, and Trey harkening back with Manteca teases and moving elsewhere with teases of the Joe Tex standard You Better Believe It Baby. That song doesn’t sound like something that would work in this context, but it does and you have to wonder if Trey was making a purposeful nod with the song title (as in “yeah, this is really happening. you better believe it, baby!”) or just riffing on the old soul tune as it happened since we all know he tends to bring things he had been listening to off stage up with him.

This jams proceeds for a bit before Trey changes his direction and gets more melodic hinting at another transition that eventually reveals itself to be (oh, just yet another) wonderful segue into NICU once Trey changes keys to get into the song properly. At this point you start to wonder if these were all planned out or if it occurred organically which would make them pretty much the only organic things in the venue that night, all things reconsidered…  Anyway, they run through the punchy tune in an almost lazy manner and you start to mentally think about what the end set will involve here but then instead of heading to the final “blap” moment Trey keeps the drone tone on, Page adds a bit, and Fish hits the kits a few times before they let the drone take over and then all dive back into the deep end for a few minutes of very very telling music (again with the foreshadowing!). They take this out a bit, with Trey providing melody and Page/Mike the baseline — honestly, at one point or another it feels like it could fully go into about four decidedly different songs (e.g. Norwegian Wood) — but then it gets quite dark and sparse and Trey brings us up into the light of Caspian.

Now, I am not exactly the biggest Fuckerpants out there (well, except for the Magna Tweezerpants, but THAT’S DIFFERENT and you should go spend the 34 plus minutes it takes to be changed by it if’n you aren’t already in the know) but this just works here. Song placement can often cause head scratching worse than a Head and Shoulders commercial but on this night and in this set in particular there is none of that. This is the resolution to the darkness we have had all set. It provides an uplifting exclamation point on what was a set quite unlike most in the past, which is not meant to put an arbitrary value or ranking on it. Trey has a nice solo here above the band and even here you can here the difference in the full sound they are putting out as Fish rides the crash cymbal and Mike has a diminished feel to his playing that somehow adds depth to counterbalance the uplifting notes coming from Trey, not to mention Page as he comps along on the baby grand. From here we have our last segue of the night in arriving to the Golgi closer that offers a happy exclamation point to the set and even though it isn’t really in congruence musically with everything that came before it, the placement is solid and the reference is clear as this was by all accounts a very difficult ticket to procure. Your encores tonight are another Trey-acoustic take on the new tune Driver followed by the hilarious a cappella of Free Bird, one of my personal favorite tongue-in-cheek tunes in the canon.

It is clear already that here two shows into this tour there are simply so many more things to cover than in the old, straight ahead shred days from five plus years prior. I would apologize for my typewritten vomiting of effusive praise but I am not sorry. For as much as I loved the old school Phish with their precision and attack it has also been their ability to evolve seemingly on a nightly basis that has kept me coming back again and again. And I know I am definitely not alone in that regard. So with that I’ll cap this show by saying that this one includes a lot of not-so-subtle hints as to what would occur the night following, both in the costume set and beyond. There is a lot to cover with those three sets so let’s bring this one home by saying if you do not spin this entire show you should at the very least hit the Antelope, Stash->Manteca->Tweezer->NICU>Jam->Caspian and if you want to stretch a bit the Mule>BATCS>Mule and perhaps the Long Cool Woman bustout.

Rest up. Halloween shows have a tendency to propagate my loquacious leanings.

And They Just Couldn’t Wait — Atlanta, GA 02.21.1993

Phish — The Roxy Theatre — Atlanta, GA 02.21.1993

I  Suzy>Buried Alive, PYITE, Uncle Pen, Horn>CDT, Esther>DaaM>Bouncin>Antelope

II  Axilla, Curtain>Stash->Manteca->Stash->Lizards, Gin->HYHU>Rosie>HYHU, Coil, BBFCFM

E  Adeline, GTBT->Paul and Silas->Pig in a Pen

How do you follow up one of the better nights (up to that point) in your live musical career? Do you try to top it? Do you just say ‘screw it’ and go out there knowing you cannot live up to the previous show? Or do you do what you do which is to treat each night on stage as the special snowflake that it is with the understanding that the people who came out tonight are not the same crowd as the night prior and it is your job — nay your duty — to do whatever you can to try to melt their faces with the music you play on this night? Rhetorical questions, obviously, but this show points out the challenge of being a touring musician, playing your fifth show in as many nights (not to mention knowing they had to hit the road to make it to Gainesville, FL for the next night) and working as hard as you can to achieve that connection you know is out there just waiting to be found and fostered so that the fans that came to this show get as much out of it as you can give them. On this night, planted firmly in the shadow of the one that preceded it we get a little bit of all of the above as the band brings as much energy and musicality as they can to the proceedings while also clearly fighting the fatigue and ‘hangover’ from the prior few nights’ shows. This is not to say that the show suffers but in reality it is not quite to the level of the two nights that preceded it, hetty jams therein notwithstanding. But let’s get into things to see what went down, shall we?

The first set kicks off with a somewhat rare different intro to Suzy as they harmonize a line a cappella before diving into the song proper. This isn’t the first time (or last) that this would occur (summer 1992 has a few, for example). Trey slips in a Tweezer tease along the way, perhaps reflecting back to the previous night’s epic second set but also hinting they are raring to get after it again. They take this into a quick Buried Alive and then run through a still-pretty-rough-around-the-edges PYITE. Uncle Pen and Horn bring us then to CDT which rages in that way it did in the compact form it maintained in this era and then we are on to Esther. Page toys around with the intro here, adding some ‘reggae’ flavoring while the band banters about him ‘moving his organ’ so that everyone can see what he is doing. After Esther (which includes a Simpsons SL) they roll right into the tour debut of Dinner and a Movie before hitting Bouncin’ on their way to the big Antelope closer. This Lope has a Woody Woodpecker tease and some Secret Language (Random Note) but the real reason to spin it is the push towards taking this one outside the lines with Page adding to the dissonance and everything leading to a well executed peak. Now we are at setbreak and when not comparing this set to the show the night before people were probably starting to realize they should just go ahead and call out from work the next, oh, week or so and go ahead and follow the band down to Florida since the music was so hot. I know I would have had that conversation… at least with myself.

After the break the band comes out firing, ripping through Axilla and The Curtain before kicking off a Stash that will eventually become one of those Stashtecas the kids are always on about. This one is not as fully developed as the one from 11.14.1995 (part of that amazing set) or the one from 10.30.1998 (with the masterful transition both to Manteca and eventually to Tweezer and beyond) but it has its value. You get the typical Stash fare of ’93 in the first half and then they take it down quite low before making the move to Manteca (107 show bustout!) and then eventually bringing it back home for the release from Stash. They then go directly into Lizards after another fine segue and this one is about what you expect out of the Gamehendge tune. Next up is a somewhat rare for the time (heck it is rare now too!) second set Bathtub Gin that actually stretches a bit more than what is typical for the song in this era (remember, this song did not really take off as a potential jam vehicle until August ’93 with the Tampa and the probably-doesn’t-need-to-be-mentioned-because-you-should-already-know-it-by-heart Murat version) before heading directly into HYHU for Fish Fun Time. I’ll stop here for a second to point out that they were definitely trying to replicate something of the previous night with all of the seguery here but it doesn’t pop quite as much as that set perhaps due to the songs involved or the way it is handled, which is not to say it is ‘forced’ but that there is something just missing in the execution (even though the segues themselves are quite good here). Perhaps it was the total reckless abandon with which they attacked those songs the night before, throwing in teases and callbacks to prior songs while also layering them seemingly on top of each other. Really, it is just a matter of trying to compare one subjective thing to another. So we will move on with that. After HYHU we have some typical Fish banter, the second Rosie of the tour, and (after Rosie) Trey mentioning how they don’t want to leave the Roxy to head forward on tour. Aaaawww. Anyway, next is a fine Squirming Coil with Page doing his thing and then a typically fun BBFCFM closer to wrap up the set. After that you’d think we were about headed to the exists with a quick encore but they still have some tricks up their collective sleeves (and mumus) as after the standard a cappella number (Adeline tonight) they bring out another guest, the Reverend Jeff Mosier, who like Mr. Herring was also a member of the ARU family tree with their roots here in Atlanta. This is very notable sit-in as it is the first [known] example of him bringing his bluegrass stylings to the Phish stage but it most certainly would not be the last as we would all grow to know him quite well over the Fall 1994 Tour, specifically the Midwest section where he hopped on the bus and sat in for several tunes in several shows (aside: this is another tour I plan on eventually covering. but we will get to all of that eventually…). The first song they tackled was GTBT, putting a grassy spin on the typically raging rock classic before heading straight into the only repeat song of the three show run, Paul and Silas. This gives way to a direct transition to the Phish debut of Pig in a Pen which caps the night off and sends everyone home to check those finance boxes about that notion they had over setbreak.

As I said, this show is not the one from the previous night but it does have its highlights and takeaways. For respins, I’d recommend the Antelope, Stashteca, Gin->Lizards, and the encores if you are into the grassy side of the band. And with that in mind, if you have never taken the time to check it out, I highly recommend devoting the hour and twenty minutes required to watch the Phish Bluegrass Sessions video which was filmed along the path of the Fall 1994 tour, mostly by Rev. Jeff Mosier himself. Realistically, the biggest takeaway from this show is the introduction is allowed for that to happen at all considering his sit-in here and the background story which places he, Trey, and Mike playing bluegrass tunes backstage after this show for more than an hour to the crew, family members, and other hangers on before they hit the road and followed the lines headed south to Gainesville, FL. This summary isn’t the place to get into the full dissection of how that impacted the band but knowing that this is the probable starting point for it is important. So chalk another one up to the band finding the connection they can on the back end of a big run. And next we will dive into the band’s first ever shows in Florida which include some things that set the stage for the rest of the tour as it progresses further west.

The Resounding Echoes Grow — Atlanta, GA 02.20.1993

Phish — The Roxy Theatre — Atlanta, GA 02.20.1993

I  Golgi, Foam, Sloth, Possum?Weigh>ATR, Divided, Horse>Silent>Fluffhead, Cavern

II  Wilson>Reba>Tweezer->Walk Away->Tweezer>Glide>Mike’s->MMGAMOIO->Mike’s>H2->VoL->Kung->H2>Weekapaug->Have Mercy->Weekapaug->Rock and Roll All Night Jam->Weekapaug, FEFY>BBJ>HYHU>Terrapin>HYHU->Hood, Reprise

E  Sleeping Monkey

You see that setlist up there? That right there is Phish in a nutshell, particularly the Phish that existed in the early to mid 90s traversing the country time and again building the fanbase we have today one show at a time. By this time they were not quite well known but regarded highly enough in certain regions of the country that they could play a three night run more than 1,000 miles from their home base in Vermont to a sold out crowd and drop that show seemingly without any notice that something like this was coming. Sure, the signs are there if you listen closely enough to the earlier shows on the tour as they warmed up and reconnected after the short break between the 1992 New Year’s Run shows and the Spring 1993 Tour that began about a month later. But up to this point in the year they had not broken out this brand of Phish yet, choosing instead to focus on more straight forward shows that highlighted the songs on the recently released Rift album while interspersing older songs and some new music in as well. Maybe this was the “make up” show for the one at the Variety Playhouse from just under a year prior that got abandoned only a few a cappella numbers into the second set when a flood in the venue caused officials to not allow the band to plug in and play. Trey had hinted at that flood during the previous show’s Colonel Forbin’s Ascent narration but here, seemingly, was the payoff since that night was more about celebrating Fish’s birthday and inviting Jimmy Herring to join in for the back half of the second set than it was about making any kind of larger musical statement. So here it would be, the show that would eventually make this three night run legendary and part of the lasting canon of the band’s legacy, a show that was at least partially nodded to as recently as 07.27.2014 at Merriweather Post Pavilion what with that show’s twists, turns, and returns to the overarching theme of Tweezer while also stringing the majority of the music together without much of a break to to speak of once they took the stage for the second set. Rather than effervesce here about what this night means in the larger scheme let’s dive in and take a look at what really makes this show stand the test of time: the music. Because if nothing else it is the music that tells the story and everything else is simply statistical detail.

First set starts off innocently enough with a few warm up numbers in Golgi, Foam, Sloth before Trey seems to wake up a bit for Possum (this is not to say the playing is off before this just that they really get going as of the Possum). This is your typical straight forward rocking Possum and by now four rocking songs into the set the crowd is fully warmed up as is the band. This brings us to the always fun Weigh and a fine ATR before a Divided that is clean, powerful and pretty… like my wife! Horse>Silent gets us to a perfectly serviceable Fluff and Cavern ends the set which all feels like table setting. There’s nothing bad in this set but nothing great either. You just aren’t going to have a legendary set on your hands when Divided and Fluffhead ‘carry’ the weight of the set. But it is a first set which is meant to focus more on songs than jams anyway so there is nothing wrong with calling the set what it is and realizing that it is all done simply to set the stage for what they get into after the break. It feels like they are just getting ready to drop IT all on us and holy shit are they ever.

Strap in, this second set summary may take a while…

So the second set starts off with one of those slow-ish Wilsons where they drop some secret language (Simpsons here) and a tease (Iron Man – this is just the start of much much much more to come in this set) before ratcheting things up to the peak before working towards Reba and this is a keeper version to be sure. The pace is quick, the playing is tight, and Trey slips in some Woody Woodpecker teasing which works perfectly in this jam that also has some inklings of Stash and Lizards mixed in before they go into Tweezer. From here things start to really get nutty as this one has not only a Low Rider jam but some Das EFX teases (seriously. go spin this and then the Tweezer and you will hear it) before going into Walk Away (tour debut and 159 show bustout!) and then back to Tweezer. Then they segue into Glide which has an undercurrent of Tweezer from Trey as they move through Glide before they go into Mike’s Song (while stretching the Gliiiiiiiiiiide out into the Mike’s intro which is nice). At this point I should probably just start another paragraph because shit gets real.

Mike’s starts up and they are having fun with the lyrics, changing it up a bit and then the next thing you know Trey is playing Reba, then they are playing Tweezer, then Lizards, the Wilson “blap boom”, then a bit of Stash, then back to Mike’s before ho hum I guess we’ll just do MMGAMOIO before going back to Mike’s and then why don’t we just move over into H2 now?Oh and by the way we’re going to do the Vibe of Life with some N2O undercurrents and add in Kung too while we are at it, tease Entrance of the Gladiators and NO2 and then maybe we’ll finish up and head to Paug, ok? Oh, you thought we were done having fun here? Now let’s just go ahead and rip into that Paug before executing a great segue into Have Mercy over the Paug groove (ho hum, only 669 shows between appearances there), working back to Paug, getting into a Rock and Roll All Nite jam (complete with a fan on vocals – in costume as Gene Simmons no less), and then returning to Paug to cap that off. Yeah. So let’s just take a little breather here and reflect on what just happened.

Got your wits about you now? Okay, let’s keep going… FEFY>BBJ>Fish Fun for Terrapin ought to do it. Heck they even throw a tease in there as HYHU gets teased in Terrapin (which also includes a lengthy series of band and crew introductions). 20 minutes later give or take and we are on to a wonderfully open Hood that provides a nice punctuation mark on a fantastic set of phish. This one goes to eleven. Then the Reprise closer really seals the deal and Monkey provides the denouement it typically does for such things in the encore.

So I’m going to tell you straight up that if you are not familiar with this show you really need to just go ahead and spin it straight through. I get if the ’93 sound isn’t your thing and you like the big open jams of later years or cowfunk or ambient washes or whale’d out jams or songs about doing lines with basketball players (that’s what that song’s about, right?) but this? This is canonical phish.This is a brand of phish that many of us cut our teeth on. I have joked in the past that this set is what the 07.27.2014 set II wants to be when it grows up and honestly there’s some truth in it. Sure, they were harkening back to this sort of set with that show but this is what that came from and what people talk about when they refer to ‘turn on a dime’ mastery phish. It is tough to say now how much of this set was planned ahead of time and how much happened in the moment but considering the setting and time period my money is on it all being a spontaneous outpouring of everything up to that point from the band. This is a touchpoint show that can be pointed to as one of those moments when it all came together. The wonderful thing is that for some bands this would be their peak, the thing to which they aspire and a show that they would talk about longingly in the future as ‘that time when it all made sense and just worked’ for them as musicians. But this is Phish we are talking about here and this show is exciting not only for the music it provided us but also that it is just one of many false peaks along the path as they continually challenge themselves and alter their course by pushing the boundaries of what their music can be.

I know I have already written a lot here and I don’t want to go on for too long (too late!) but this show epitomizes Phish in so many ways. Here we have evident the full gamut of Phish with their tight playing, high energy, playfulness, antics, mastery of varied forms of music, ability to alter the show based on the mood of the room, and their eagerness at pushing the envelope. This show not only culminates everything that came before it (recall that the better 1992 shows are high on energy, segues, teases, etc. but a bit light on open jamming) while also pointing openly to the future that lay ahead. It is the type of show you give to people who want to be introduced to the band just to show them the possibilities of what Phish can do. By this time I had enough of a baseline with Phish that when the tapes reached me (pretty quickly, I might add. this show hit heavy circulation very quickly) that I could hear what this show meant in the context of where they were as a band at that stage but if this was your first show or the first tape someone handed to you, honestly, how would you react to it? To my mind, this was the type of thing Trey was always referring to when he talked about people coming to their shows and not being ‘in on the joke’. Just imagine having no baseline for this band and having something like this be your entry point. It would be totally polarizing but hopefully if you are in the right frame of mind could catapult you into the world we all inhabit. This is truly the type of tape I would give to a friend to see if they “get it” when they ask what phish is “really” about (back in the day – now that story is different).

And if this type of show isn’t your thing? That’s fine. We all came into the scene at different stages and for that reason perhaps appreciate different aspects of what make the band what they are to us. But even if this isn’t your favorite flavor of Phish you have to realize the significance not only of what this set means musically but also in the larger picture of where they were headed soon after this. The jams would only get bigger and more open from here but the spirit of this show shines forth in other classics that came after it such as 05.07.1994 (Bomb Factory, of course), 06.22.1994 (Columbus, OH), 07.13.1994 (Patterson, NY), 12.01.1994 (Salem, OR), 12.14.1995 (Binghamton, NY), 06.27.2010 (Merriweather Post Pavilion), and the aforementioned 07.27.2014 (also MPP). It would eventually pave the way for the four song set era where sets generally did not have much of a stop if at all in getting through those massive jam vehicles. Now it is yet another tool in the arsenal that they can call on or ‘get to’ when pushing the music forward. And having such a versatile band is one of the things that attracts us to following them, is it not? I mean, who would want to go see basically the same show time and again year after year? That’s just boring.

You have read more than enough on this topic so with that I will end this post. If you do not yet have this show memorized I strongly urge you to get on that homework. There are much worse things you could do with your time than to revel in the jaw-dropping greatness of what still stands as one of the top shows the band has ever played.

We’d Be Remiss…

…if we didn’t at least mark the occasion of the anniversary today of one of the canonical shows in all of phishtory. Yes, I am stepping outside of the current project to do this but if you cut your teeth on mid-90s tapes then you definitely had this one in your collection. And really, I don’t need to provide much introduction to this one as it is known far and wide simply by the venue within which this one went down on that spring night in Texas. A show with more highlights than a middle aged housewife trying to hold on to her youth. A show that is a touchpoint for the transition from the speed jazz era that evolved in 1993 on to the bigger psych era that emerges in 1994 and extends through 1995 and into that un-loved but quite strong in retrospect transitional year of 1996. And definitely a show that holds up after twenty-one years as being one that you can give to even your most ardent non-Phish detractor “friends” as evidence in fighting the argument you know you have had more than a few times with the ininitiated.

In case you do not have the setlist memorized as I do, I [re]present to you (hopefully not for the first time because, seriously, how could you possibly have missed this one?) that show:

Phish – The Bomb Factory – Dallas, TX 05.07.1994

I  Llama, Horn>Divided, Mound, FEFY>Mule, Melt, If I Could, Suzy

II  Cup>Sparkle>Tweezer->Sparks->Makisupa->Digi Delay Loop Jam->Sweet Emotion Jam->Walk Away->Cannonball Jam->Purple Rain>HYHU Jam->Reprise

E  Grace, Sample

So go spin this classic today by whatever means suit your fancy as it can be found for streaming (most of the streaming sites lack the encores), for download, or get it in its full LivePhish glory (also available on Spotify). And if you choose either of those last options be sure to stick around for the ‘filler’ which includes the phenomenally abstract Funky Bitch->Jam, Yerushalayim Shel Zahav from 11.22.1994 as well as the extended, ‘reggae’ Dog Log from the soundcheck of 05.07.1994.

There’s really nothing more that needs to be said here. Why aren’t you listening already?!?