A World of Light- Atlanta, GA 10.31.1996

Phish — The Omni — Atlanta, GA 10.31.1996

I  Sanity>HTH>Disease>YEM, Caspian>Reba, Forbin’s>Mockingbird>Zero, SSB

II  Born Under Punches>C&P>The Great Curve, Once in a Lifetime>Houses in Motion->Seen and Not Seen->Listening Wind>The Overload

III  Brother, 2001>Maze, Simple->Swept Away>Steep>JJLC>Suzy

E  Frankenstein


Ah, Halloween. We have dipped our toe into this most holy of high Phish holidays before to break down the band’s performance of The Velvet Underground’s Loaded album but two years before that night — and the last time they had played Halloween before then — the band graced the stage of The Omni for an evening that would perhaps do more to shape the future trajectory of the band than any other single show. That’s a pretty hyperbolic statement to make on the surface but as we go along here I think it will be more clear why I speak so assuredly on this subject. Of course, I tipped my hand a bit on this front with the last show review but that was but that was almost like the preamble before the real speech. The opening band before the main attraction. The fluff… I’ll stop there. I think you get the point.


Phish by this time already had a quite healthy history in Hot ‘Lanta and Georgia in general, having first played in the state way back in February 1990 for a trio of shows supporting Widespread Panic. These shows (The Georgia Theatre in Athens for 02.01.1990 and 02.02.1990 and Atlanta’s Cotton Club — another in the long line of clubs now closed that Phish once played — on 02.03.1990) don’t offer us much considering all are one setters and none of them has a fully known setlist. They continued visiting these two venues later in 1990 and into 1991, playing seven shows alternating between the two rooms starting in Athens with 05.31.1990 opening for the Aquarium Rescue Unit, then 06.01.1990 for a fun one with ARU members sitting in (check out the Antelope and the Col. Hampton’s Ascent>Mockingbird), then 10.18.1990 for an okay one, 10.19.1990 for an odd single setter with two encores, 03.01.1991 for a show most notable for the DEG fun in a few tunes, 03.02.1991 opening for The Grapes (a 90s era ATL-based jam/rock band), and 07.26.1991 for a Giant County Horns tour show that ARU opened (please please check out the YEM and Tweezer from this one if nothing else!). The string was finally broken with their first visit to the Variety Playhouse (though the Athens/Atlanta streak was still intact!) for 07.27.1991, a single set show opening for ARU that marked the end of the famed GCH Tour (and another with a double encore). They returned to the Variety on 11.09.1991 for a show best known for the ‘gospel My Sweet One’ then back to Athens (for the last time ever…) for the fun 11.12.1991 show that has two quite lengthy encores (must be some great cheering going on back then at these shows to ellict all these double encores…). The band’s last visit to the Variety Playhouse came the following Spring on 03.28.1992 for a show best know as the “Flood Show” as they had a quite abbreviated 2nd set where they performed four songs unplugged (three songs and IDK) before giving up. There’s also a Secret Language Instructions and the one time performance of Lullaby of Birdland, both tucked into the first set Bowie. Perhaps wanting to satisfy the fans who had been robbed of their second set in 1992, Phish returned in February 1993 for a three night stand at the Roxy Theater (yup. it’s closed) that really needs no introduction considering there is an official release and everything. Besides, we already covered those amazing shows. All I will say is if you don’t know them already get on it, dude.


Don’t worry, we are almost caught up. I can’t be held responsible for the band playing awesome music in this area so often.


Later in 1993, in the middle of Summer Tour and on the cusp of what is known to be one of the more important months musically for the band’s future development they played at the Masquerade Music Park on 07.31.1993 for a show that has a big Mike’s Song and the last Leprechaun ever (sad). On 04.23.1994 they played the Fox Theater for the first time, bringing out Col. Bruce Hampton and Merl Saunders in a great one that includes debuts of High Heel Sneakers to close the first set and Who by Fire out of YEM (more of a VJ intonation than anything) not to mention an epic Stash. Around this time (04.26.1994) they also visited Purple Dragon Studios for a promo set supporting the Hoist release, a set that is mostly straight forward by that also includes the singular performance of Sun Ra’s Carefree (a song I still long to hear Phish bring to the big stage). That Fall they played the Atlanta Civic Center (10.25.1994) for one of those great Fall 94 shows, this one highlighted by big takes on Melt and Paug, not to mention a slew of teases and some fine segue work throughout. On 06.15.1995 Phish played Lakewood Amphitheatre (a venue that has seen quite a few name changes in the 20 years the band has been playing there…) for the first time, dropping a wildly psychedelic Stash->IDK (one of the first instances of Mike using a power drill that I know of) and the first of the big time Summer ’95 Bowies. Fall 1995 saw another three night run — this time at the Fox — for three more great shows, first on 11.09.1995 for one that has jam highlights all over (Simple>Reba and the Gin are probably the biggies), then 11.10.1995 which continues the jamming trend (Mule, YEM->Crossroads->YEM, Hood), and finally 11.11.1995 which has big Mike’s Groove elements and fun Ya Mar. Keep in mind that these were the first shows following the triumph that was 10.31.1995 and the energy from that night seemed to carry over to this stand. That gets us up to date for this next Halloween show and I appreciate you bearing with me in getting through all of the varied and wonderful history that the band has in The Big Peach (and Athens!).


Now, on to the show!


Oh yeah. One more thing before we get going here. If you don’t already have a copy of this show here are a couple of options for you. Since there is an official release, you can always grab it from LivePhish it or listen on the LP+ app if you have that. You can also stream the release on Spotify. There is also some video out there with an incomplete set I and the full set II (note that there are some large gaps in the video that are filled with iconic Phish imagery but that the audio never falters. oh, and don’t mind the shirtless dude in the first row who gets focused on a lot. he was just feeling IT, maaaaaaan. and the audio cuts out during The Overload which kinda sucks but you should be spinning the soundboard for the audio anyway) though I have yet to find anything of set III. There’s also the streaming resources like phish.in, phishtracks.com, and relisten.net but those will be auds and perhaps not quite up to autidory snuff for your needs.


1996 marked the third consecutive year that Phish would be playing a “musical costume” for its Halloween show and the first year where the band made the choice without any influence by fan voting. This was also the first year that they produced a Phishbill (see here for a doc that includes all of the phishbills up through 2010), a humorous mock up of a Broadway playbill that included some information on the night to come, an essay by Parke Puterbaugh, and some humorous fake ads referencing Phishy themes. It is all a tongue-in-cheek reference to what you would get when seeing a show in New York City or something at the same time shedding some light on the album they would cover. They have since continued this tradition with the Phishbill effectively confirming what the cover album would be for the night — even though many a wook has decried it as a ruse with the confident stance that they just know, man, that Trey is gonna totally do Zeppelin this year cuz the energy from this new tourmaline I scored is just radiating those vibes to me, man. Dig it?


Thankfully for us, we don’t have to sit through the first sets of Halloween shows wondering what the costume might be (I must say, it was a bit distracting wondering about all that 10.31.1995) and we can instead focus entirely on the music at hand. Each of the past two Halloween shows had opened with a nod to the season, first with Frankenstein for the Glens Falls show in 1994 and then with Icculus for the Rosemont Horizon show in 1995. The trend continued here with a Sanity opener (a 43 show bustout) that segues right into a likewise suitable Highway to Hell (41 shows). Nothing like setting the mood with a couple of somewhat unhinged tunes, both which were apparently birthday requests by Brad Sands.. They keep the string going by segueing into Down With Disease, getting the jams going nice and early. Once through the song itself they take the typical Disease jam out for a ride, bringing it to a pocket jam of sorts. Trey and Page flavor this one nicely and even though it is decidedly type I the jam is fresh and novel and could be the best one of the tour to date (it is). Even though he isn’t on stage with them you can almost feel the presence of Karl Perazzo here as the percussive nature of this jam helps to push it forward all while Trey gets his fingers moving and Page gets the boogie going. I am a fan of all of this. The wrap-up then segues right into You Enjoy Myself, a bit of a surprise choice here in song four of the first set. The start is not the cleanest one you will ever hear but once they settle in the nirvana section takes off well. Trey’s solo gets a bit of clap-along-with-Trey to it before the transition to the D&B which tonight is a bit plodding, honestly. If you are into VJs this one is pretty high energy which is always fun in person but can definitely get the heads a scratching upon relisten.


We get our first full stop of the night here and looking back you have to wonder what is in store when a set starts out this big. Phish in this era isn’t exactly known for front loading shows so that points to great things, generally. These thoughts maybe took a back seat when the next song starts up as Prince Caspian isn’t exactly the most loved tune in the canon but they do cap it with one of those soaring, peaky finishes that are typical of the ’96 Caspians. They continue on into the start of Reba, first working cleanly through the entirety of the composed bits. The start of the jam is that patient sort of Reba we beg for with a fantastic build towards the peak. Trey is playing ALLTHENOTES but Mike has just as much to say as they take this one for a thrill ride that begs to be played over and over. After this we get to have a bit of Story Time With Trey as they go into Colonel Forbin’s Ascent>Fly Famous Mockingbird for the first time this tour. The songs are about what you’d expect but the story is topical and humorous as our protagonist encounters the David Byrne rock face on his climb of Mt. Icculus whose big shoulders and dance moves swat the Colonel off into the air, only for him to be caught by the evil, death, killing mockingbird who takes Forbin’s eyes. Nice imagery for the spunions, Trey. I’m sure the trip tents were a bit more full this set break than usual. Now on to closer land we get yet another crunchy Character Zero (our seventh Zero already this tour) and then a nice a cappella take on the Star Spangled Banner as they continue to work on this song in advance of performing it at a Minnesota Timberwolves game in a couple of weeks. This provides an oddly fitting cap to a quite explosive first set and now everyone can continue those conversations they started preshow about the relative merits of covering Talking Heads albums and trying to figure out which song on this album was the one with that one video you used to always see on MTV (remember, this was in the years before MTV forgot what their letters stood for).


Even in knowing what the album to come would be there is definitely a lot of excitement to be had in wondering how Phish would tackle it. Up to this point they had stuck to costumes a bit more in their classic-rock-fed roots as The White Album is a collection of so many wonderful Beatles’ songs and Quadrophenia is bombastic arena rock (with a theme) to the core. But here was an album of music pretty far afield from anything the band had taken on up to this stage with only one Talking Heads song ever having been covered by Phish prior to this night. That song is Cities, a tune we now hold dear as a song the band does well in making it their own (just listen to the original version as compared to one of the more highly lauded recent takes on it from 08.06.2010 in Berkeley). Now, the original versions Phish played were a bit closer to the original tempo and feel for the song (and the Mike Gordon Band versions of it are very true to the roots of the song – here’s one with Trey from 04.04.2014) but here in 1996 that song had long gone to the shelf with but one performance of it on 07.05.1994 (a unique version that benefits from Trey’s nimble fingers in the end solo bits) since it had last been played on 03.01.1989 (an equally unique version in its own right considering the DEG dropped in the middle of it). Anyway, the song was still a few months away from returning to the Phish fold but that landmark show is for another time and a different tour review. The main point is that at this period in phishtory the majority of the fanbase would have no frame of reference for hearing Phish play this band’s songs short of some hissy late generation tapes or word of mouth.


UPDATE/EDIT: Eagle-eyed reader MikeinAustin noted that the band had played another Talking Heads tune prior to this date but I somehow completely forgot that which is odd considering I wrote about it in covering the 03.30.1993 show from Eugene, OR. It is not a complete version, but enough that I should have remembered it. Plus, they have toyed with it since with a VJ on 08.09.1993 in Toronto, ON and quoted in the YEM on 05.23.1994. So yeah. A bit of swiss cheese memory going on for me there. HOWEVER, it still does not change the main point that I was making there above about people not really knowing what to expect with Phish covering the Talking Heads. There may have been a few more people who knew of it occurring though which I think is important to point out. Thanks for catching me on that, MiA. Now back to the review…


The second set begins with the band joined on stage by Karl Perazzo (which we now know was part of the plan with his joining the band in Tallahassee) on percussion, Gary Gazaway on trumpet/flugelhorn/trombone, and old friend Dave “The Truth” Grippo on alto saxaphone. The first track of the album, Born Under Punches, provides everyone with our first dose of the varied stylings this set will offer, combining independent yet interlocking parts from each player into a catchy song that is more than the sum of its parts. Phish plays this one true to form, mimicking the album version well while also sounding like Phish the whole time. This serves as set up for the first big moment of the set as they drop into Crosseyed and Painless, a cover tune that fans have come to know and love quite well. This initial version benefits greatly from Perazzo and Fish putting down an addictive beat that the other players match, creating a groove pocket unlike anything Phish has ever done up to this point in their history. Trey and Mike are practically dancing their are so affected by this groove, all while Page and the horn players adding flavorings on top. They carry this groove forward for several minutes before Karl takes a solo, allowing for the transition directly into The Great Curve. A groove monster in its own right, this song hits hard and fast with Page singing the verses all while the frenetic groove takes off. Trey nails the Adrian Belew lines here and when they hit the big chorus the thing pretty well explodes into this joyous ball of energy. Trey goes off again after the chorus playing the guitar god leads we love all while the pocket beneath seems to pulse and flow in a way that almost feels like it is at risk of flying off the tracks into something wholly different. The energy builds to the finish and we finally have our first chance to catch our breath.


You can tell the band is feeling it when Fish lets out an audible woo/sigh and Trey hops up and down a few times to release some of the pent up energy. Next up is the most famous song on the album, Once in a Lifetime, the song made popular due the re-release of it in conjunction with the Talking Heads concert film Stop Making Sense and its inclusion on the soundtrack for the movie Down and Out in Beverly Hills. Phish’s take is true to the song (and definitely more practiced than the bustout version they recently played as part of the amazing “THANK YOU” encore on 09.06.2015), eventually coming down to a muted transition point. Next up is Houses in Motion which — similar to the opener Born Under Punches — has lyrics that seem to almost counterpoint the groove they lay down underneath. Grippo gets a couple of solo moments here between the verses and Page layers in more effects while Gazaway throws in some echoed trumpet lines in the back half. Trey gets a Tweezer tease in along the way as this jam goes out for a bit before they make a full segue into Seen and Not Seen, a track that gives Mike his chance to take the lead vocals while sitting in a chair on stage as Trey plays his bass. It is pretty funny to see Mike (in marching red shirt and pants) rocking away in a barcalounger while providing the spoken word to accompany the minimalist groove. That’s something I could see happening in a Phish set without it being a costume which makes it even more humorous to see it in this context. All the while Trey paces back and forth behind him in his gold velour shirt doing those knee bends he tends to do during the YEM D&B section. Eventually Trey hops back on the guitar, putting up some extended notes that offer the opportunity for transition to Listening Wind, an atmospheric song that has nature sound effects, haunting yet lovely lyrics sung primarily by Page, and more of that groove. Here in the back half of the album the songs are more ethereal and the grooves a bit less “punishing” perhaps but the more you listen to these “side B” songs the more you can hear the obvious influence they had on the band, just as much as those in the first half. Just listen to the solo Trey takes at the end of Listening Wind which is made up of sustained, somewhat drone-y notes that work with the groove pocket and sound effects to create the vivid image of the words being sung (check out the words if you have never have). As Trey continues to wail away Fish makes his way to the center stage for The Overload, a song with a somewhat menacing tone that takes things into a darker direction. Trey plays similar lines to what he had going in Listening Wind but Mike is lower down and the overall tone is much more menacing than anything else we have heard thus far. Trey sets a whirling loop and Fish adds in some vac as someone (tour bus driver Dominic Placco) comes on stage to bark out “time to get to work” as he points to various band members and eventually they are all playing different “tools” (Trey on skilsaw, Fish on vac, and Mike on that power drill again) that contribute to the cacophony of machine noises being made. If you watch the video you might even catch Col. Bruce Hampton up there on the jackhammer. Page is still on his rig adding to the whirl but this is post modern Phish here as they have tv screens, the nameless worker overlord, and some repeated sound samples adding to the sensory overload (get it?). As the sounds drop out one my one, the band members leave the stage and our costume set is ended.


In the moment it is a wonderful take on a classic album that really deserves your time in its original format as much as here as a cover. This is an important album in the time it was released due to the unique way it melded rock, funk, African polyrhythms, electronic music, sampling, and more in a time when that just wasn’t happening. Brian Eno provided his influence and expertise with other notable guests including Adrian Belew (mentioned previously) and Robert Palmer (yes, that Robert Palmer). While it was not a chart topping record at the time, its influence on music cannot be overstated. Within the context of Phish it stands as a major moment in the band’s history, marking the move from the open psych “precision” to a time where the band focused on creating grooves that allowed for a new way to experiment with their jamming. This is not to say that overnight the band changed completely but from here on out nothing would be quite the same (for better or worse depending who you ask). Heck, even the shows that follow this one on the Fall Tour are mostly still in that 95/96 percussive psych precision phase but as we go forward you will start to get more ‘pocket jams’ and other inklings that this album has laid its influence on the band. And from this night we took one song into the semi-regular rotation as Crosseyed and Painless has now been performed 36 times – with 26 of those coming in 3.0. I personally would love for them to bring The Great Curve back for another dip but as we have seen with every Halloween show played there is usually one and perhaps 1-2 more songs that will get future play from Phish. But short of more songs for the repertoire this costume paid dividends for the band in what they could take from it more than the tracks themselves. Lastly, before we get to the third set I want to give you a link to a quite interesting video from just before the Fall 1998 tour where Phish was interviewed by David Byrne himself for the show that he was the host of, Sessions at West 54th, a PBS series where they would intersperse bits of interview with in studio live performance. This is the raw interview video which includes a lot of stuff not in the final show. There is a section (starting around 25:33 of the raw video) where they discuss Halloween costume albums including the cover of Remain in Light which I think is quite interesting and worthy of your time if you have never checked it out. Knowing that this interview was taped only a couple of weeks prior to their cover of the Velvet Underground’s Loaded (which we have discussed…) adds a bit to me but the salient points here about their intent and takeaways from playing Remain in Light are the main reason for linking this. Enjoy.


Geez, we have a third set to go here? <-Easily something you may have overheard at a show before. Okay, well, let’s get to it then…


So after the pageantry of the costume set we are back to Phish again but as tends to happen we will have some guests as Karl Perazzo sits in for the entirety and the horn players drop in at the end of the set. First up is a brief Feel Like A Stranger tease by Trey (the only ever to my knowledge) before they crank out a fun Brother to get everyone back in the Phish frame of mind. Next they get a bit funky with 2001, offering a taste of what might be to come for this song while still keeping it truer to the Deodato version than some of the extended workouts we will see in coming years. This segues into Maze for yet another quite engaging Fall ’96 version. Trey shreds the crap out of this one and the addition of more percussion only serves to amp this one up more than normal. While perhaps not as big as the one earlier this tour from Pittsburgh, this is a solid take on the straight ahead jammer. Now we have Simple which in three previous performances this tour has proved itself to be one to keep tabs on each and every time. The prior versions had sections of percussive jamming as Trey hopped on the mini-kit for a bit in each one but tonight’s takes it to another level as Fish and Perazzo pound away, allowing Trey to stay at home on the guitar. There is a Mama Told Me Not to Come tease to be found amongst the rhythmic groove here as well. In a show where it becomes difficult to pick out the real peak jams because everything is played well this one stands out. They execute a great move into Steep>Swept Away for the second time this tour, playing that pairing as you know it before seemingly suddenly arriving in the bustout of Jesus Just Left Chicago, last played one year prior during the third set of 10.31.1995. Dave Grippo and Gary Gazaway come out here and add in to the bluesy jam as everyone takes a turn at a solo. This bleeds into Suzy Greenberg, easily one of the most horns-friendly tunes Phish has ever written (personally, I insert the horn lines in my head pretty much every time I hear it). This is a similar pairing as that last Halloween show except for the ADITL they sandwiched in there in 1995 as these two tunes seem to be becoming the de facto post-costume-get-the-horn-section-involved songs for the third set. Tonight’s Suzy goes away from the typical rocking peaky take for a bit as the horn players influence things in a jazzy manner but in the end it is good times Suzy bringing the party home once more. Following the encore break we get the seasonally appropriate Frankenstein to cap this show (a full mirror to last year’s Halloween which opened with Frank), sending everyone out into the night with one last bit of rocking the heck out.


I’ve spent a lot of time (and words) discussing this one so I won’t belabor the point too much further but I think it is pretty obvious how important this show was to the future development of Phish. By no means am I suggesting that they needed this impetus to push them forward as there were no signs of stagnation coming into this night. They were already riding the crest of a peak year (’95) to take on new challenges including their first festival, a well received album, and more. This moment simply provided them with another avenue to explore, one which they have taken and made a part of who they are as a band. Never before had Phish grooved like this. Never before had they mixed musical styles as fluidly as what this new way of playing allowed for. But all through it they are still Phish and sound like no other band in the world. I had a hard time cutting the highlights list for this show down to a respectable size but that’s what you get with a canonical performance. So with that in mind your takeaways are:  Disease, Reba, C&P, The Great Curve, Houses in Motion, Simple, and Suzy with honorable mentions including Forbin>Mockingbird, Born Under Punches, Listening Wind, and perhaps Caspian if we are feeling gracious.


I apologize for this post taking as long as it did but hopefully my words make up for that. I really enjoyed re-spinning this show a few times to make sure I got a lot of the necessary nuance. We will start cruising again here shortly with a couple more Perazzo Phish shows before we head to some seriously crushing Phish in the Midwest portion of the tour. As always, the takeaway tracks are now part of the playlist in the sidebar.


As I Thrill to the Magic Charms — Seattle, WA 04.05.1993

Phish — HUB Ballroom — Seattle, WA 04.05.1993

I  Llama, Ice, Fee, Maze, Fluffhead, Paul & Silas, Stash, Forbin’s>Mockingbird, Bowie

II  Axilla, Poor Heart, Caravan, PYITE, Tweezer, Glide, YEM, HYHU>Cracklin’ Rosie>HYHU, Reprise

E  Carolina, Fire

Now back in the good ol’ U S of A after their one night tour of Western Canada, Phish put another solid show in the books for the good people of Seattle, WA on what would be the last night of the West Coast leg of this Spring ’93 Tour. This is a show that provides a nice exclamation point to all that preceded it, offering musical ideas that have been developed over the past two plus months and popping off with the energy of a band that knows they can do effectively whatever they choose in delighting their fans. Tonight’s show would include so many of the elements that make Phish who they are that it seems difficult to think that the band did not actively take the show in the direction it would eventually go.

Starting with the first set opener the band showed they came to do business, offering up a fiery little monster of a Llama that contains a tease that would play heavily into the tenor of the show, particularly the second set. This tease is Caravan and if you know your Phish history you will note that this jazz standard was once a relatively common cover with 26 of the total 42 performances to date occurring in 1990 (and another five times in 1991 — four times on the Giant Country Horns tour that summer). We will come back to this though…  After that we have a clean take on Ice and a megaphone-less Fee to bring us to the next rager in Maze. A typically high energy version, this one is quite shreddy and fast-paced with a big organ (heh) solo out of Page and some crowd participation as the fans clapped along during the initial build and in a couple of other spots. This clapping is something that wasn’t necessarily rare in later ’93 and ’94 but this is the first time this tour I recall hearing it so clearly on the tapes.

Next up is a mid set Fluffhead and this take is on point and energetic, which seems to be something of a theme by now in this set. Nothing too special here but nice to hear them nail this tune. The bluegrass ditty tonight is Paul & Silas which then gets us to the main highlight of this here first set in a dynamic Stash that I definitely recommend one listening to if you can.  The jam starts off patiently, allowing the band to get a bit outside the song itself before they head into a DEG-ish section and eventually come back around to the song while seemingly hinting at CYHMK along the path. It is a good example of what Stash used to be. By now you’d think they would be starting to head towards the closer but first we have Story Time with Trey by way of Forbin’s>Mockingbird. Tonight’s story is another engaging one as Trey notes the crowd being pretty ‘toasty’ and being quite literal here he means that the crowd is turning into toast.  I don’t want to ruin the detail of where the story heads from there but I will note that there is a ‘Those Were the Days’ (theme to All In The Family) in there from Page. After that we get the lovely resolution that is Mockingbird and finally the set closing Bowie you could have bet was coming if you had been watching setlists this tour (much easier said than done back then, frankly). The intro section gets the Secret Language in spades tonight with Simpsons, AFD, and Oom Pa Pa signals, not to mention a tease of Mockingbird before they head forward for a mainly ‘in bounds’ version that provides an energetic stamp on the set and allows us to all catch our breath for a bit with the break to follow.

After that breath-catching session the band came out and started up the 2nd set by continuing the high energy motif with Axilla and a decently fine Poor Heart before we get the payoff on that tease in the show opener. After 224 shows and almost two full years they dusted off Caravan, throwing in a Manteca tease for good measure. Incidentally, the song would then stay in the rotation for the next leg of tour, being played three more times between this show and the tour closer in Durham, NH a month from here. Each of those also included a Manteca tease for whatever that is worth. Sadly, after seven more appearances for the song it has been shelved (last occurring as a bustout after 160 shows for the New Year’s Run in 1996 at the Spectrum in Philly). Pardon the parenthetical dangling participles there.

After this we get PYITE which is just fine and dandy before they head into a Tweezer that doesn’t stretch too much but offers up several more Caravan teases out of Trey. Worth the listen but this Tweezer isn’t making any best of lists. Glide provides a respite of sorts before the next big one which tonight is YEM. We get a few ‘Owner of a Lonely Heart’ teases along the way here and Trey exerts his domination in taking over the jam which brings us to a nice peak and resolution.  Next up is Fish Fun Time which tonight is Cracklin’ Rosie and then we have a bombastic Reprise closer to cap the night. For the encores we get a couple of ‘dedications’ as they first do the un-mic’d a cappella for Carolina (played in honor of the University of North Carolina basketball team which the band watched beat Michigan during setbreak — this is the infamous Chris Webber time out game if you can recall) and then Fire (for Trey’s friend Dudley who was the other guitarist in Space Antelope back in the day). After this the band would be off for a few days before starting up things in the Midwest on April 9th. They were not resting on their collective laurels, however, as they traveled back east to receive an award and perform at the Boston Music Awards, gathering more laurels in the process.

I am a fan of this show and while it has a few warts in a couple of songs that aren’t exactly top notch versions there is a lot to like here. Seeing as it was the capstone show on a wonderful West Coast leg of the tour, the band is clearly feeling it and they provide a bit of everything in their bag of tricks to celebrate this fact. The straight forward rockers all have great energy, the more open jams go places with concerted effort, there are quality teases and some secret language, Trey tells a captivating story, and the band engages the crowd on several levels that pay off for everyone. Yes, there are better shows on this tour which we have discussed (and which are yet to come when I eventually come back to detail the last leg of this tour) but if you want to give someone an idea of what they could have expected from Phish in this era, you can’t do much better than to offer up this as an example. Your highlights tonight are the Stash, Caravan, Tweezer, and YEM, as well as the Forbin’s story if you like that aspect of Phish.

Next up for me is kicking off our new tour project which we will leave to surprise for now. I will also be putting together a post to pull together the biggest of the highlights through these first two legs of the Spring Tour so keep your eyes peeled in that regard.

Before we move on, however, I do want to give the stats update for these 47 shows. By now they have played in 19 states over 61 days (yup, that’s only 14 days off non-show dates over that time). They have played 121 unique songs with 23 being one-timers. The most frequently played tunes are BBJ (32), Rift (29), Amazing Grace (28), and Poor Heart (28) with HYHU being left out because of course I am not counting that. The most common 1st set openers are Buried Alive (7), Golgi (6), and Llama (6) with the most common first set closers being Antelope (17) and Bowie (14) by far. Second set openers are a bit more scattered though Axilla (9) and Jim (7) are ahead of the pack. Second set closers are also somewhat widespread but Reprise is king with 10 such performances. Encores are also expectedly all over the place but Amazing Grace (18) and Sweet Adeline (11) are the only above single digits. Another interesting trend is how often certain songs were played in consecutive shows (something that virtually never occurs anymore with such a huge song canon) as Amazing Grace, Rift, BBJ, and HYHU all had runs of five or more shows, including three such runs by BBJ and two by HYHU including one run of 22 straight shows. Seven songs had gaps of at least 21 shows within this tour (Lifeboy, Tela, Weigh, TMWSIY, Aveenu Malkenu, Walk Away, and Harpua) and 18 songs were debuted (Loving Cup, Wedge, Lifeboy, Amazing Grace, Sample, Moby Dick, RnR All Night, Pig in a Pen, Nellie Kane, It’s My Life, Choo Choo Cha Boogie, Loup Garou, Spooky, GGITS, You Gotta See Mama Every Night, Sweet Emotion, My Life as a Pez, and Psycho Killer) though several of those were one-off songs played during sit-ins and at least four others were effectively “jams” rather than full performances of the songs. Lots more detail to be found in the stats but I think you get the point.

Thanks for reading and we will see you on the other side…

The Moral Seems A Little Bit Obscure — Vancouver, BC 04.03.1993

Phish — 86th Street Music Hall — Vancouver, BC 04.03.1993

I  Landlady>Rift, Guelah, Sparkle, Melt, Coil, MFMF, Reba, Horn>Antelope

II  Suzy>Stash, Mound, ATR, Sloth, YEM, JJLC, MSO, HYHU>Love You>HYHU, Cavern


Taking advantage of their proximity to Canada, Phish next took the stage in Vancouver, BC for the first time ever before dipping back into the US for the rest of this run out west. This would be a fun show on several fronts with the band throwing in secret language, teases, and some humor amidst two sets full of high quality playing. This is a great example of the type of Phish you could expect in Spring ’93 with all of the youthful swagger and bravado of the band barnstorming their way through this 71 date tour.

The first set kicks off with a straight forward combo of Landlady>Rift, setting the table with some energetic playing that kind of gets a bit ahead of itself in that Rift which is a nice way of saying they didn’t really nail that one so much. They collect things with an expected Guelah and a punchy Sparkle before dropping into the first meaty dish of the evening with a compactly jammed Melt. We are oh-so-close to this song really taking off but they are still reined in a tad here which is not to say that there is anything lacking in the execution with this version. Coil provides a bit of a breather with a lovely Page outro (as always) and Trey then picks up the acoustic to bring in MFMF. This one stays mainly to form without some of the second set dementedness the song has enjoyed this tour. It ends up being a bit of a table setter as well since we then get our girl Reba in her favorite third-to-last-song-first-set slot. There’s nothing overly special about this one but being Reba it deserves a listen at the very least. A somewhat shaky Horn bridges us to the rocking Antelope closer (with Simpsons signal, of course) and we are off to setbreak.

A quick note here, as if you go looking for this show to stream online you will note that the most common resources will only have the Antelope from that first set. Really not sure why this is, except that they are all pulling from the same source which lacks the majority of the set. Go to The Spreadsheet, however, and you can grab the set easily (or you can find better copies on etree and other torrent sites. Now back to the music…

The second set kicks off with a fun time Suzy that includes a little Spin Doctors tease (Jimmy Olson’s Blues, I believe, though my knowledge of their catalog has slipped in the last 20 years or so…) and provides ample opportunity to stretch those dance muscles a bit after the break. We then get the somewhat rare second set Stash (less than 25% of the 400 times played ever) and this one delivers on the promise with a divergent jam that keeps coming back to the main theme to help build that T&R. The payoff here is great from this example of jam density in action. After a run through Mound, ATR, and Sloth we get the next biggie with a midset YEM that begs to be heard. The build in this version is huge and almost feels like something off of Pink Floyd’s Umma Gumma. Once the jam takes off Trey elevates the music to a wonderful peak after playing around with riffs reminiscent of ‘Walk This Way’ as he shows off his ridiculous dexterity on the fretboard. I don’t know that is a full tease, necessarily, but the idea is there and it won’t be the last time we get a taste of it this evening. This leads to a somewhat minimalist D&B section and then, finally, they bring in the humor with a My Girl-tinged VJ and a nod to their April Fool’s shenanigans as Trey whispers an introduction for “Mr. Neil Young”, which works on multiple levels considering the country of origin for that fine performer.

After that all resolves we get the third Jesus Just Left Chicago of this tour. Page shines brightest here with a fiery solo on the organ that pushes the song to great heights even in staying within the structure. Then we are left with the backside of the set which means MSO… but no BBJ tonight! before Fish Fun Time. Tonight the selection is Love You and we get band intros with Fish noting that they are called Fishbone (!). Trey pays him back with the nom de plume Henrietta Tubman that seems to be his go to this week and we are on to the Cavern closer. Tonight’s version is mainly notable for the Walk This Way tease in an otherwise typically fun take on the song. And then before the encore Trey placates some in the crowd by playing a bit of Weigh before they throw down a rocking GTBT to send everyone out to prepare for their second border crossing in the same 24 hour period.

Once again we have a classic example of this band in the speed jazz era pushing the boundaries where appropriate and otherwise flooring fans with their prowess and high energy playing. Tonight’s highlights are plenty with the Melt, Reba, Stash, YEM, and JJLC being the songs I would recommend you spin if nothing else here. This one will never be on anyone who wasn’t there’s Top Whatever list but it is a fun show to spin and shows how far they have come since the start of tour two months and 46 shows ago. One more to go before this leg ends (and we divert into a completely different flavor of Phish…)!

The Source Was Quite Invisible – Bellingham, WA 04.02.1993

Phish — Mt. Baker Theatre — Bellingham, WA 04.02.1993

I  Buried Alive>Poor Heart, Foam, Bouncin’, Divided, IDK, Ice>Sparkle>Maze, Golgi

II  Jim, Sample, Uncle Pen, Llama, Horse>Silent, Mike’s>H2>Weekapaug, Lizards, BBJ, HYHU>Bike>HYHU, CDT

E  Grace, Rocky Top

After spending a couple days and nights in Portland, OR Phish headed well north to the lovely town of Bellingham for a single night’s stay on the way to Vancouver, BC. This would be the third to last show on the West Coast leg of the Spring ’93 Tour before starting up the Midwest portion… but that’s all for another time. Right now we have an interesting one to cover, one that is a bit of a “tale of two sets” in the offing.

The first set kicks off with that quite common pairing of Buried Alive>Poor Heart to get everyone moving and this marks the ninth time (of 13 Buried Alive performances this tour) where the two songs have been paired thusly. They keep things up for a fast pace run through Foam and a buoyant Bouncin’ before heading into a somewhat extended and quite energetic take on Divided Sky. Fish comes out for the washboard solo on the ensuing I Didn’t Know which also includes a vocal jam breakdown at the end after the “Pardon me, Doug” lines. Next up is a bit of an uneven It’s Ice that leads to a kinda shaky (and definitely non-FMS) Sparkle before they crank up the Maze you could have seen coming a mile away (which really isn’t that far off to notice something if we are being totally honest here). This one isn’t the biggest jam or cleanest execution of the tune but it rocks pretty hard which is always nice. A rote Golgi closer brings us to the break where we can all start wondering whether there is any real meat to be found in that set that just occurred.

I mean, sure, it is a set of Phish and that is great but I’m not recommending anyone rush to go spin this one. There aren’t even any unique highlights to call out which might suit your fancy. It is pretty much a bunch of warm up tunes and rockers to get everyone loose on a Friday night. Which is fine and all, but not really what will keep us all engaged and coming back for more if that was the way things are normally. So it is nice to know that this type of set is actually somewhat atypical even in this pre-massive-jams period of the band’s history. Okay, enough on that.

Perhaps the band sensed that they weren’t really connecting in that first frame since they came out with some extra sauce for the second set, starting with a punchy Jim that included a Simpsons signal in the start of the jam section. After a couple of standard fare tunes (Sample, Uncle Pen) we have a shreddy Llama to really kick things up a notch. They cool it down a bit with Horse>Silent (Trey on acoustic in the Horse, of course) and then crank it right back up for the start of Mike’s. Once they get to the jam here we have some almost-but-not-quite DEG playing out of Trey though in this case it is a bit more frenzied and off the rails. After the expected Hydrogen we get the show’s highlight and main takeaway in a Weekapaug that really needs to be heard to be understood. They depart the main theme of the song fairly quickly, heading to some avant garde waters, throwing in a Random Note SL call, and eventually even giving a shoutout to Tela in the breakdown section before the final return to the Paug theme. This is a great example of the band taking this song OUT and really stretching their legs, something they didn’t do as frequently back then. It shows where the band is headed more than anything which is pretty freaking neat.

After that wonderful music happened they provide a great breather in Lizards before dropping their balls all over the crowd… hang on, that sounds a bit blue. They played Big Ball Jam. That’s it. Nothing dirty here, folks. Next up is Fish Fun Time and tonight we get the fourth Bike of this tour, complete with a lovely vac solo from Henrietta Tubman. Chalkdust rocks the closer spot tonight before the Grace, Rocky Top encore (fourth time these two have been paired in the encore this tour) sends everyone off into the night to plan for the border crossing ahead of tomorrow night’s show in America’s Hat.

I mentioned above that this show is a tale of two sets and I think it is clear to see what I mean by that. They never fully connect in the first frame, throwing rocker after rocker out there and just generally working their way through tunes with nothing special going down. There is nothing wrong with this — some of the best received sets in the band’s career are full of straight ahead energy-inducing rock songs — but it isn’t what most people point to when they talk about their favorite shows. “Yeah, man, they played like seven straight tunes that were almost exactly like the last time they played it and then did three more the same way. It was the best!” is something no Phish fan has ever uttered. The fact that the second set here is so different points this out even more considering Jim has some extra stank on it, Llama spits hot fire, Mike’s gets a bit of the treatment, and then Paug just punches through to another level entirely. I’ve said it before that a set like this won’t hit the ‘best of’ lists for any fan who didn’t find god in a microdot that night but they elevated this thing to a point where listening to the two sets together you have to wonder how the post-first-set conversation between band members went down (this was well before they swore off over-analyzing their performance in the moment). It is a fun question to think about and one that doesn’t have any repercussions in the asking. Your takeaways from this night are pretty much what I just detailed: Jim, Llama (if you like concise shreddy versions), the entire Mike’s Groove (but definitely the Weekapaug if nothing else from this show), and perhaps the CDT closer (again with the shreddy thing).

Next is that one Canadian show of this leg of tour (there is a pair of shows in Toronto and Montreal towards the end of the final leg…) and then Seattle for the last one out west.

Tell Him What It Is – Portland, OR 04.01.1993

Phish — Roseland Theater — Portland, OR 04.01.1993

I  Llama, Guelah, Rift, Stash, Coil, MFMF, Paul & Silas>Fluffhead, Lawn Boy, Antelope

II  Axilla>Curtain>Possum, Fee>Ya Mar, Tweezer, Poor Heart, BBJ, HYHU>Terrapin>HYHU, Cavern

E  Carolina, Reprise

April Fool’s just feels like a perfect holiday for Phish. This is a band that thrives on doing the unexpected or at least playing to those in on the joke and watching in amusement as the befuddled others try to sort it all out. Over the years there have been so many different ways that they have used this to their advantage be it secret language, knowing lyrical references, obvious song placements, random covers, various stage antics, and even more when you include the off-stage stuff as well. And when they do actually play on this date (which hasn’t happened since the ’93 show we are here to discuss) you can be sure they make note of it. It could be a one time performance of Help>Slip>Bag (!) such as in ’86 (which also has the only NFA ever in the shared encore with The Joneses and the debut of Icculus – a joke of a song if ever there was one) or Fish wearing a black dress and feathered boa (as in ’92) or the antics we have from this show here in Portland in ’93. Just to set it up, prior to this show the band participated in a rally to benefit Ancient Forests that also included Neil Young amongst others (and where they played Amazing Grace and IDK. again, not taking things too seriously there…). Somewhere along the way (i.e when the band started it themselves) rumors started that he would show up to perform with the band that night at the Roseland. Well, that’s all they needed to toy with the crowd throughout the evening which we will cover as we go along here.

It didn’t take long for the first nod to appear as Trey throws down a ‘Heart of Gold’ tease before they even start up the first set opener. Some in the crowd pick up on it and then we are off to the races with a shreddy Llama. Next up is our favorite two-hole fodder Guelah (after a shockingly long four show gap!) and then its common partner Rift. Both of these are of the expected variety without much to speak of outside of their set placement so we’ll just move right along to the Stash then. This one is not quite as off script as the previous version but there are a solid couple of minutes in the middle part of the jam here that are definitely type II jamming before they bring it around for the T&R resolution. Some interesting stuff to chew on with that one. Also interesting to chew on is the ‘Sugar Mountain’ tease Trey throws in before the next song, just adding to the anticipation of what could be coming… Next we get a somewhat oddly placed Coil that actually works here with a well played composed section and a nice, albeit shorter-than-typical solo from Page. Trey straps on the acoustic for the MFMF intro in a rote version that precedes a quick P&S. Then we have a nice enough Fluffhead and a Lawn Boy (Trey on the solo tonight) before the inevitable Antelope closer starts up. Things are swirling around as they do in the jam here as they build momentum and when they hit the break for the ‘Rye Rye Rocco’ section Trey throws in some ‘I Feel the Earth Move’ lines (another nod to the benefit show as Carole King also performed) and some ‘Barracuda’ for good measure (again with the callbacks as the sisters Wilson performed at the benefit too) before they wrap it up and thank everyone for coming out before heading off to warm up the hot pockets.

After the sandwich break we get an Axilla>Curtain>Possum trio to start the set and let me just again note here that one thing that is very common throughout many of these shows is that they will generally string 3 or sometimes 4 songs together to start the second (or sometimes first) set, not letting anyone have much of a breather for the first 20-30 minutes of the set depending on the song choices. The Axilla here is rocking as usual and Curtain does what it does in setting up the Possum which is another solid version that has hints of McGrupp (again, as they had in Arcata a few nights before) at about the 1:25-1:30 mark. From there it goes into straight forward Possum jam territory. Fee>Ya Mar keeps the party vibe going and then we get the meat of the second set in a chunky Tweezer that has similar elements to the one that preceded it in Eugene, particularly with Trey’s lead lines as they enter the jam. This one is more straight ahead Trey rockstar stuff as they climb the mountain, eventually arriving at the old slow down ending. Definitely not a face melter but Trey is working some stuff out here that may pop up in other jams later on… Poor Heart, BBJ gets us to our real April Fool’s Fish Fun Time as Trey introduces Neil Young… only to have Fish come out instead. Laughs are had, Fish gets a pie to the face (seriously) and they start up ‘After the Goldrush’ which Fish tries to sing but he clearly does not know the words beyond maybe one verse or so and they drop into Terrapin for our normal fun here. Note that .com has this listed as ‘Love You’ which is the wrong Syd Barrett tune for this evening. After they get Fish back to his kit Trey jokes about fooling the crowd and introduces Bill Clinton on saxophone while Page plays some ‘Hail to the Chief’. What jokesters. A rousing Cavern with the evil jedi maniacal laughing caps the set and then we have Carolina, Reprise for the encores before we head north to Bellingham, WA for the next night’s show. Oh, and apparently they played some NY & Crazy Horse (Welfare Mothers) as the house music post show just to rub it in even more.

So what do we do with a show like this? It is a joke-filled affair with the type of playing we expect out of the band nightly at this stage but not a lot of real highlights overall. I mean, I am totally recommending you spin the Stash, Lope, Possum, Tweezer, and the entire Fish segment because it is just plain funny but that’s not the type of phish that will appeal to a large segment of the fanbase. Or maybe it does. I guess the point here is that shows like this are exactly why so many of us go back time and again because as much as we seek the epic jams, unique setlist construction, bustouts, and other music related stuff the antics and showmanship of it is a major draw as well. This is all very Zappa-esque in the delivery in a lot of ways and nods to many of their other influences as well. And let’s face it, if you were them and you were on your 44th show in 57 days you would be doing some pretty weird stuff just to keep yourself interested and involved. But in all honesty I think these guys would be doing it no matter what because that is just one of the many masks they put on and why we go back again and again – to see what flavor of phish we will get to enjoy that time around.

We’ll Help You Party Down – Portland, OR 03.31.1993

Phish — Roseland Theater — Portland, OR 03.31.1993

I  Jim, Foam, Sparkle, Melt>Mound, PYITE, Sample, Reba, IDK, Bowie

II  Lengthwise->Maze, Bouncin’, Uncle Pen, Hood, BBJ, Ice, YEM, Harpua, CDT

E  Bag, Adeline

Further up I-5 and on the following evening from their stop in Eugene the band was in Portland for the start of a two show stand at the Roseland Theater (nee Starry Night before an ownership change in 1991) and their fourth of five total times playing the venue (the last would be the following evening). This one comes off like the hot, sweaty affair it assuredly was as the playing is loose and free throughout both sets. Sure, there’s some feedback to be dealt with on this tape but there’s also some fun jams, a bunch of teases, and a couple of other little oddities to cover with this one so let’s get down to the nitty gritty.

Things get off to a good start with another solid Jim jammer, as they are continuing to be patient with this one, letting Mike and Fish play a bit after the drop before the full band comes in for the rousing finish. We are still in the sandbox on this one but the inklings are forming. Next we get an energetic Foam and then Sparkle before they drop into Melt. While this version stays mainly true to form it is a very energetic, up tempo version that’ll make you yearn for the precision of years gone by. A manageable Mound, a punchy PYITE, and a suitable Sample get us through the midsection of the set before our girl Reba pops in for a quite lovely version that is oddly undervalued in everything I have seen about this show. The composed section is pretty well nailed and then the jam is just one of those beautiful uplifting hose peakery sections with Trey throwing out all sorts of ideas along the way. Maybe I’m overselling it, but maybe not. You decide. Then in IDK we have Madonna on the washboard for a slightly different take than the trombone stuff before they kick off a set-closing Bowie that is also fairly under the radar when looking at this show. You have the standard SL in the intro (AFD, Simpson’s) and then they just take us on a patient journey through the Bowie world, departing around 7:00 with some clever leading from Trey that carries through to the end which resolves in fine fashion. This is definitely a Trey Clinic Bowie if you are into that sort of thing which you should be if you are listening to ’93 Phish cuz that’s kinda a big part of the deal back then.

After the break they come out with a tune that isn’t new exactly but that had never yet been played as a set opener. Fish starts up Lengthwise and by the time he gets to the last couple of rounds the crowd is right there with him, allowing for a perfect segue right into that song’s album brother Maze. It is interesting that this pairing had yet to occur before this show considering their placement on the then recently released album but here we are. And from here it would become a more common thing, as of the fourteen times the song has been played since 03.31.1993 Maze has followed in eight of those. Additionally, eight of those fourteen have been to kick off a set or encore and six of those headed right into Maze. So the Maze. Right. This one is just another fiery shred heaven version with Trey really out front for most of the jam and then we are off to happy time with Bouncin. A quick stop for Uncle Pen and then the first jam highlight of the second set is upon us as Hood starts up (if you are counting at home that is quite the high number of Fish-started tunes on this evening). This Hood starts out with some SL (Simpson’s) and then once they hit the jam they throw in a couple of teases (Odd Couple, Pink Panther) before bringing it all back for a nice finish. Not the biggest version ever but nice and clean and sticks the landing. Next there’s a quick BBJ before we have what seems to be a standard Ice but wait! I read in a couple of places that this one had an ending that one would know from another (future) song but until I listened to both I thought it was probably a stretch. So go cue up Axilla II and listen to the coda/outro and then come back to this Ice, focusing on the part at the end right before they go into YEM. Yup. It’s there. You might have to DL the show because some of the streaming sites elide some of the end bits on some of these tracks – which is relevant to some funny banter later on in this show too, but we’ll get to that. So yeah, that’s a neat little thing. Then we have YEM and for this one Trey rides rhythm for the majority of the jam, allowing Page to shine on the organ for the bulk if it before he comes in strong at the end right before a quick D&B that precedes the VJ. And looking back, that is clearly one of those sentences that taken out of context would make absolutely no sense to the uninformed reader. But I digress. Next we have our second Harpua of the tour and this one is a nice “I remember…” story that harkens back to his times in Gamehedge, some mention of submarines (the roots of TTE, perhaps?!?!) and eventually gets to Jimmy watching Beverly Hills Cop (cue the Axel F tease – definitely a nod back to the 03.28.1993 show where it popped up in the soundcheck and again in the Antelope) before Trey tells him to turn it off so he can get his Stones on with a little ‘She’s So Cold’ quote before they come back to the fight and bring it all home. Throw on a rocking CDT closer for good measure and your set is complete. Your encores are Bag and Adeline tonight and along with the Bag being a rare treat at this stage Trey tells a funny thing between songs about how one of his heroes Bonnie Raitt is playing in town that night and how he has a crush on her. Ginger love knows no bounds, for sure… Adeline gets a dedication to Nina as she lost and had found her ID which Trey returns to her from the stage. Nice Guy Trey helping out!

So what’s the tale of the tape here? This is another one that I can’t rightly recommend you go spin top to bottom because there’s a lot of stuff that just doesn’t really do much. But when they hit here they hit well. And with that in mind I’ll say check out the Melt, Reba, Bowie, Hood, YEM, and Harpua (if you are into the whole story time Trey thing). If you haven’t noticed by now, I’m finding more nuggets to share in these shows as we progress through the tour. Sure, many are of the same song time and again but overall the fact that the level of playing and cohesion has improved is easily evident and I’m just reflecting that as well. It’s a win-win for all of us!

Next up is the second night from this venue from an April Fool’s Day gone by where rumor and speculation led to some typically phishy humor.

As a site news note, once I hit the end of the West Coast run on this Spring ’93 tour I’m going to shift to something a bit more recent. That’s four more shows if you are keeping track at home. Not gonna spoil which tour just yet though…

Qu’est-ce que c’est – Eugene, OR 03.30.1993

Phish — Hilton Ballroom — Eugene, OR 03.30.1993

I  Buried Alive>Poor Heart>ATR, Golgi, MFMF, Llama, Esther, Stash, Glide>Divided, Cavern

II  Cup, Rift, Tweezer>Lifeboy, BBJ, Weigh, Mike’s>H2>Paug->Psycho Killer->Paug, Horse>Silent>HYHU>IIOHAB>HYHU, Reprise

E  MSO, Grace

After a night off to successfully negotiate the border crossing into Oregon and make their way up to Eugene, the band again graced the stage for an evening of frivolity and fervor in a somewhat uneven show that vacillates between raging, open jams and slightly botched compositions.

Things get started fine enough with a Buried Alive>Poor Heart>ATR segment that while not anything special is sure to get heads bobbing and feet tapping. Then we have a somewhat oddly placed Golgi which, okay sure, before they start to take things in a darker direction with MFMF (even though this one has a Sesame Street theme tease and the acoustic intro). This one stays in the box before we get to a quite shreddy Llama where Trey even throws in a little Can’t You Hear Me Knockin’ (CYHMK) tease just to keep everyone honest. After that we have Esther and this one starts off with a little SL (Random Note) and HYHU tease from Page before they dive into the song in earnest. It is a tad shaky at times but always nice to hear. From here we arrive at the first big highlight of this show which is a Stash that almost immediately departs from form once they finish up the verses. CYHMK is back again but played with a bit more before they dive deeper, eventually bringing it all down in building tension before ratcheting it all up towards a solid end peak. This Stash is notably one of the early examples of the band going completely type II with this song as it isn’t until the end peak that they really return to the main theme at all once the jam starts. This one would lead to much deeper explorations in the future but this is a jumping off point of sorts for the tune and well worth your time at that. The rest of this set just sort of glides along considering it plays out as Glide>Divided, Cavern and with that trio you pretty much know what to expect. Nothing bad, of course, but not much to speak of either.

Upon retaking the stage the band fired up Loving Cup and this is a punchy and on point one though not necessarily much different than others that precede it. Rift takes the two slot tonight and this one is fine enough before we get to Tweezer and for this one we have a big rocker version that stays mainly in bounds though is probably most notable for the fact that Page directs the path for sections of this jam unlike in many/most Tweezers of this era that are essentially Machine Gun Trey showcases. This resolves with the slow ending and into Lifeboy which is always nice and being only the fourth ever this one comes off cleanly (with Trey using the “she” indicating god’s lack of attention to listening to him, something that comes and goes with the song). BBJ is next and then we have Weigh which is mostly what you’d expect but for Trey throwing in some heavier licks that almost get to some Zep-ish ground (maybe it is just me but I almost hear ‘How Many More Times’). Trey gives a quick happy birthday to BBJ (which confirms yet again how closely he once watched the setlists) as well as to a guy named Bob turning 40 and that might be the biggest surprise considering at that time it seemed like there was no one “old” in the crowds at shows. Maybe that was just me too though… Anyway, from here the band introduces Mike’s song and he dedicates it to himself during the intro section before they head into a kinda dirty version of the jam that was sure to have the crowd moving. H2 is notable tonight for Trey throwing in a little ‘Call to Post’ tease and then we get to Paug.

Oh, Paug. Why were you once such a carrier of the jam flame only to now be relegated to being a rote rocker? Here we have a version that gets deep in a hurry, with several different layers emerging before, wait, are they? Could it be? Yup. Boom! They arrive in the debut of Psycho Killer and while it is a tad rough it is still worth the price of admission (and it would be another four and a half years before we’d get to hear it again). Honestly, probably the best aspect of this Psycho Killer is the segue back into Paug which is pretty much a flawless victory by the band (FINISH HIM!!). They wrap up the Paug in fine fashion and then Trey breaks out the acoustic again for Horse>Silent. Next up is Fish Fun Time for Brain and then we get the Reprise closer we all expected. MSO and Grace are your encores and it is off to Portland from here for a couple of shows and… more.

In all honesty, this is probably not a show you will spin top to bottom unless you are doing what I am or if you like Eugene shows or something. The band is playing quite well and trying out some new things as is evident in that Stash but there are just so many other shows that outpace this one overall. That said, the highs are high here and I’d recommend checking out the Llama, Stash, Tweezer, Weigh, and the entirety of the Mike’s Groove. You could probably skip the Weigh but why not spin it?

Next up is a pair of shows from Portland at the Roseland and these two each have some great things to discuss which we will catch up on soon enough…

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

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

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

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

E  Contact>BBFCFM

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

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

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

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

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

The Finest in the Nation – San Francisco, CA 03.27.1993

Phish – Warfield Theatre – San Francisco, CA 03.27.1993

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

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

E  Coil, Carolina

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

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

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

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

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

Phish – Warfield Theatre – San Francisco, CA 03.26.1993

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

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

E  Grace, Rocky Top

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

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

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

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