I’d Meet You In Between — Vail, CO 03.12.1993

Phish — Dobson Family Arena — Vail, CO 03.12.1993

I  Buried Alive>Poor Heart>Cavern>Possum, Guelah, Rift, Stash, Fluffhead>Horse>Silent>Bowie

II  Bag, MFMF, Sparkle, YEM, Mound, BBJ, CDT, HYHU>Lengthwise>HYHU, Hood, Golgi

E  Adeline, Carolina, Rocky Top

So after a few days off to regain their health, catch their breath, and perhaps get a bit of skiing in (they totally did) the boys are now up in Vail at Dobson Arena. If you have never been to this venue before it is essentially the town skating rink where they have open skate, various hockey leagues, horse shows, all sorts of events, and of course concerts. I never saw the phish there since I got to CO well past the time when they could fit this size room but I enjoyed more than a few shows here. It is a decent place to see a show (with a capacity of around 2,500), particularly in the winter and has the benefit of a wide open floor, being a hockey rink and all. Anyway, on this night phish would take the stage for a show pretty loose and full of teases but clearly high on energy and intent as was the norm on that path in Spring ’93.

The first set kicks off admirably with another Buried Alive opener, our eighth such opener of the tour and ninth overall Buried of the year (can you imagine??). This one is white hot and leads right into a fast-paced Poor Heart that still has that extra lap to the end solo. From here they head right into Cavern and I am shocked to hear myself write it but this one is at least engaging as Trey seems to be starting to work on his ‘jedi speak’ (something we would get to know a lot better later in this year but really in the open psych of ’94 Bowies and such). Again, they head right into another tune, this time Possum which while expected is pretty fiery as well, showing once more the energy the band has brought on this night. Guelah (with Simpsons SL) provides a bit of a breather in a nicely played version (outside of its standard second song of the set slot) that includes a ‘Lively Up Yourself’ tease before Rift gives us what we expect out of the tune in its 19th appearance of the tour — only Poor Heart matches it at this point without also counting HYHU (26) and BBJ (20). This is followed by Stash which stays mainly in the box except for the last minute or so where they essentially devolve the song in bringing it back to the ending. It is a nice departure from the norm. I like it and would subscribe to its newsletter. Then comes Fluffhead and this one is pretty well okay with a few rough patches but somewhat notable in that Trey picks up the acoustic for the end, allowing him to transition right into… Horse! Yay? So, yeah, Horse>Silent gets us to the set closing Bowie which has something to say before it is time to load up on the nachos and beer, you stoner. In the intro there is a bit of SL (Random Note) as well as a slight tease of the end of Silent as they transition into the Fish intro. Then once things get going we get a Popeye tease, a Jeopardy tease, and a nice little action packed shred psych jam packaged up for easy consumption. This is what your typically out there ’93 Bowie sounds like in case you were wondering. Now go get those nachos!

Setbreak ends and apparently (according to the show notes on both .net and .com) there were a bunch of kooky kids up front with brown paper bags over their heads with ‘AC/DC’ written on them in an effort to get the band to play that classic and [then rare] number The AC/DC Bag. Remember, the song had only just been played on this tour once after being on the shelf for over 150 shows and here it had been 14 shows since that one bustout (which is a lot of shows between songs on this tour, quite frankly). The cliché of putting bags on your heads to get a band to play a song based on a bunch of clichés is quite ironic, don’t you think? So they do and it rips (with Page even teasing the old intro a bit) before they head into MFMF (and Trey again picking up the acoustic for the intro here). The notable thing here is that in the end as they are heading towards the “myfe” section they catch on ‘Careful with that Axe, Eugene’ for a bit. The missed opportunity is that they could have capped it with the ending peak to THAT song but instead it fizzles into the MFMF ending instead. Sparkle comes next (still no FMS) and then we get YEM which ends up being a quite nice version. There’s some Low Rider flavorings, the ‘Beehive’ lyrics are referenced by Trey, and an interesting VJ (if that can be said) but really just stick around for Trey’s solo as he goes off for a bit in that way he can. Mound, BBJ gets us to a rocking CDT (are there any other sort at this stage?) before Fish Fun Time for Lengthwise. Then there’s a nice Hood with nothing really special to mention before the Golgi closer. Adeline, Carolina, Rocky Top are your encores and we are off to Boulder.

So overall this one is not bad by any means but definitely suffers in comparison to the shows that surround it. The energy is there, the band is playing well, and the crowd is clearly willing but there just aren’t any jams here that make you want to spin this one time and again. There are a few nuggets that I like and maybe one or two things that would make the first draft of the Spring Tour 93 Highlights Extravaganza Playlist Extraordinaire* but really this show is probably one we won’t talk about much going forward. Takeaways? Spin the Stash (maybe), Bowie, MFMF, YEM.

Next up is a Saturday night special from CU and we all know those kids were probably studying so clearly there wasn’t much energy or a crowd to speak of that night. Heck, maybe some of the band would even wear semi-formal wear to match the prevailing attitudes of the conservative crowd here. I’m sure it will be a quite dull write-up.

*yeah, I’ll do it but not until I finish up working through the whole tour

I’m Gonna Go Up to the Mountain — Colorado Springs, CO 03.09.1993

Phish — Pike’s Peak Center — Colorado Springs, CO 03.09.1993

I  Jim, Foam, Bouncin’, Maze, Esther>Divided, Glide, PYITE, IDK, Antelope

II  Axilla>Rift, Tweezer, Reba, Lawn Boy, Mike’s>H2>Weekapaug, Horse>Silent>BBJ, HYHU>Terrapin>HYHU, I Walk the Line, Coil, Reprise

E  Grace, Rocky Top

So after the one (mythical) show in New Mexico the band headed up to Colorado for a small run of shows starting in The Springs. This is the 26th show of the tour (in just 35 days, no less — and now practically 2/3 the way across the country). The band is definitely quite warmed up by now, hitting their stride just in time for the warmer weather of the western climes. But first there are mountains to be conquered.

The first set here starts off with a rather patient Jim where they don’t just dive right into the jam after the lyric section but give it a few more bars. It is a nice change of pace and sets the song up for a deserved payoff in the end. Foam follows with capable version that sticks the ending rather nicely. Bouncin’ gets us to Maze and this one goes to eleven. Both Page and Trey get to work on this one in their respective solo spots. The always welcome (to me, not my wife so much) Esther (with random note SL) is next before a decent Divided, Glide, and PYITE all which are just fine and dandy with the crowd really seeming to enjoy themselves even through the SBD. IDK gives us more of that Fish nickname fun and the trombone solo before a ripping Lope (with Simpsons SL and a little playfulness from Trey in the intro as well as an All Fall Down SL at the breakdown) closes shop for the set. All things told this is a solid affair that would be a better Tuesday than most of us could hope for these days.

The second set kicks off with the Axilla>Rift pairing which really fires things up but hey why not get it higher by throwing Tweezer out there next? Trey is clearly feeling it on this one which I will definitely say you should check out. They take this one out pretty well right away, first playing with the Tweezer theme before Trey just goes ahead and lays down the Julius lick (listen again. It is definitely there at around 6:40 and on for a bit) which Mike picks up on and they deconstruct (a full year plus before the song would be debuted) before heading into more abstract ground and then circling around to the ol’ slow down ending. Nice ride. I recommend. Oh and then they bring our girl Reba out for a quite interesting version. Trey is all over the first half of the jam and then he holds Note for the back half (about 2 and a half minutes) which allows Page and Fish to go nuts for a bit before the whistling. Pretty different than typical with that. Another one to check out here for sure. Then we have a respite for Lawn Boy (Trey gets the solo here) before a nice Mike’s Groove. This is notable because this show once again throws off the standard format of Tweezer/YEM show followed by Mike’s Groove/Junior Vehicle show, much like the 02.20.93 one from The Roxy that is so heavily lauded for obvious reasons. This Groove has some playful bantering in the early Mike’s section before they drop into the jam (which takes a unique turn for a bit before heading into familiar territory and the drop towards H2). H2 does what it does before a rocking Paug gets the joint really going once more. They capture some nice space early on in keeping it slower then ratchet things up for a smoking close. Horse>Silent>BBJ is next, then Fish Fun Time for Terrapin (complete with a Star Trek tease from Page after Fish asks the balcony crowd if it looks like the mothership down there) before a stand alone I Walk the Line aaaaaand the tape is done! WTF! C’mon, man!! Eh, the setlist shows Coil, Reprise to close with Grace, Rocky Top in the encores so maybe nothing to worry about here but STILL. and the show notes on .net mention some ‘tenor’ in the crowd (i.e. a wook) singing The Eleven a capella prior to Grace which would be interesting to here for humor if nothing else, but alas and alack… Oh, and Trey also supposedly told a ‘rowdy member of the audience’ (again, wook) who’d been threatening to stage dive all show to go for it. So that must’ve been fun for him.

Let’s sum it up, shall we? First show in Colorado for the year is a solid affair with a receptive crowd and a band clearly feeling it. Just another example of the band showing their love for Colorado. The playing is overall pretty darn good and we have a couple of solid takeaways here. I definitely recommend that Tweezer, Reba, and the Mike’s Groove. Lope is fun too but nothing too crazy and Jim and Maze are better than decent if you are sticking around for more. I wouldn’t kick this show out of bed for eating caps. If you are looking for a full spin maybe you could do worse than this one.

Next stop is Vail a full three days later (!!!) for a tease-ful affair from Eagle County. Even Phishies need to get their spring skiing in when in ‘Rome’ I suppose…

From One End to the Other — Dallas, TX 03.05.1993

Phish — Deep Ellum Live — Dallas, TX 03.05.1993

I Buried Alive>Poor Heart>Cavern, Foam, Sloth, Rift, Stash, Sparkle>Ice>IDK, Possum

II  Landlady, CDT, Guelah, Uncle Pen, Mike’s>H2>Weekapaug, JJLC, MSO, BBJ, HYHU>Love You>HYHU, Coil, Grace

E  GTBT

After another night off for travel between New Orleans and Dallas the band is at Deep Ellum Live for the only time they would play the venue. This was also their first time back to the state since Fall ’91 so their sound had definitely matured a lot in the intervening 16 months or so. It is also notable that their next visit here would be for one of the famed shows in Phishtory, one you only have to mention by venue name to know, The Bomb Factory. That one is another evolution beyond where we are today so we’ll just leave that for the spring ’94 tour recap, okay?

First set kicks off with another Buried Alive opener. I guess I forgot that this tune was fairly standard and not such the once-a-tour-if-that bustout it has become (this is the 8th in just 24 shows). This starts a mini run of runs including Poor Heart (notably, these spring ’93 versions have some extra spark and a slightly longer end solo from Trey than the ‘modern’ version) and Cavern (yay?) before we hit the first meaty tune of the night. Before we get to that though, let’s talk about that three pack a bit. Buried Alive has now opened four shows on this tour with three other times being preceded by Suzy… which opened the show. The outlier is the late set version from the Roseland (02.06.1993) with John Popper on board. Of these eight appearances it has been followed by Poor Heart five times (the other three are Possum twice and PYITE). This night makes the second time that Cavern follows Poor Heart to complete this trifecta but the bigger point to be made here is that they had a well worn habit by now on this tour of using some combination of high energy, relatively straight forward and in the box tunes to open the show. Suzy, Buried Alive, Poor Heart, Rift, Golgi and a couple of others were typically slotted in here with the outlier shows having openers like Bowie or MFMF. The pattern continues that after these opening numbers they would throw down a minor vehicle (Maze, Stash, etc.) or other more complex song like Foam to kick things up another notch. Tonight that would be Foam as it comes through very well played with a quite patient solo from Trey. This song isn’t quite a ‘vehicle’ but they do some interesting things with their individual parts within the structure at times and this is a good example of that. A dirty (the the good way) Sloth comes next and then a nicely executed Rift pops in (obviously, it gets played almost every night this tour so they better have it down by now). Stash fills the jam space midset and in a relatively tightly packed version Trey does well in playing with the T&R around the Stash theme, not to mention a little Sloth tease folded into the outset of the jam. This is followed by some fun banter about Page’s return to his old stomping grounds since he first attended SMU before making that move to Goddard we all know about already. They play Sparkle and then a somewhat darker than normal (for this time) Ice before IDK which has Fish on trombone for a “love solo” in honor of Mike at the Greenpeace table. Possum rocks out for the closer here (with a Simpsons SL that marks the first SL in five shows) in a quite well played though largely not notable first set.

Second set starts off with Landlady that does what she does before yet another raging CDT brings the energy up in spades. This one has some great high speed Oye Como Va phrasing from Trey that is worth your time to check out. It’s only seven minutes so you will be able to get back to that new hammock catalog you have been perusing very shortly. Guelah and Pen get us to Mike’s (woo! every other show! yay!) which is a perfectly serviceable version that precedes a nice enough H2. The Paug is where things take off here though as the band connects on a jam that elevates masterfully after going off the reservation for a bit. Not for nothing, so far this tour it is clear that of the Mike’s Groove suite it is Weekapaug that holds the most promise on a (bi)nightly basis since Mike’s is not quite there yet with the jamming aspect. Then we get a very nice JJLC with Page on top. This is notable as well considering it had been 153 shows since the last one and they nailed it all the same. Perhaps they busted this one out as a nod to their recent New Orleans visit. The common MSO, BBJ pairing precedes Fish Fun Time for Love You then we have a fairly average Coil and the almost ubiquitous Grace (17 times in 24 shows – tops for any song at this stage of tour) to close before a rocking GTBT encore sends everyone out into the night.

Overall this show is spring ’93 in a nutshell. quality playing, lots of energy, a bit of jamming to be found in various places (and some of that of the more compact variety like the CDT), and just a fun time clearly coming through on the tapes. It is somewhat notable that after the Florida run the secret language and teasing seemed to die out for a few shows as noted above but this one has a Simpsons signal in the Possum intro and that Oye Como Va tease which I think is indicative of their comfort level with how things are going. This isn’t to say that shows without such things are better or worse in any way but that the presence of such teases and SL just goes to show they are loose and having a good time which is a great sign. From this one I would check out the Foam, Stash, CDT, Paug, and maybe JJLC if you are a fan of that bluesy thing. Next stop, Austin for a drunken Saturday night crowd!

Steal Away Before the Dawn — New Orleans, LA 03.03.1993

Phish — Tipitina’s — New Orleans, LA 03.03.1993

I  Rift, Foam, Bouncin’, Maze, Guelah, Paul & Silas>Sample, Jim, Lawn Boy, Cavern

II  Axilla, Curtain>Melt, Mound>Mike’s>H2>Weekapaug, Glide, MSO, FEFY, HYHU>Terrapin>HYHU, Coil, Adeline

E  Fire

Here we have the second night of the two night run in New Orleans, the final show Phish would ever play at Tipitina’s as they would graduate on to larger venues such as the State Palace Theatre and McAlister Auditorium over the next two years before their Jazzfest appearance in ’96. This one is a marked improvement over the night previous as the hangovers appear to be gone but the colds remain somewhat, impacting the singing on a few tunes. But the playing is not at risk with that and the band came out with energy and vigor, bringing an old friend out for a couple of tunes as well during a fun if not exploratory show.

The first set kicks off with a well executed Rift that precedes a Foam that continues to bring the energy level up before Bouncin’ gets its turn. This continues the trend of this tour where they would play three-ish crowd pleasing tunes to get the room moving before hitting the first more involved song musically. Tonight that fourth song is Maze and that turns into a shred factory for Trey and at this stage you can tell both band and crowd are feeling it. Guelah, P&S>Sample fills the mid set here with exactly what you expect out of those tunes. Nothing bad but nothing of note either. Jim runs away next with a very spirited version that stays mostly at home but provides another opportunity for Trey to flex the shred muscles for a bit before they wrap it up and bring out a guest for the second night in a row. And who might that be but Gears himself, now residing in New Orleans! He takes the solo turn in Lawn Boy (much more engaging than the small solos Trey has been taking in this tune of late) and then adds his trumpeted flavoring to the set closing Cavern which makes that at least tolerable in its ubiquity. Always nice to have a GCH member join in. Then it is off to the setbreak to catch our breath after that energetic first frame.

The second set gets off to a rocking go with Axilla which leads to a decent Curtain that heads into a very frenetic Melt. We are still not quite to Eureka Moment for this song but it is getting oh so close. Mound bounces in next before the expected Mike’s Groove (remember, we got Tweezer and YEM last night so in this tour that means Mike’s Groove and a junior vehicle – tonight being Melt – gets the call for the second set heavy lifting). Nothing major in the Mike’s or H2 but Paug has some extra sauce on it in a slightly extended version. This is really mostly about what Trey and Page do in a bit of a breakdown section in the middle as well as everything around it as they come back to the peak. Eh, just go listen to it already. It really rages quite nicely. Glide, MSO, FEFY get us to Fish Fun Time time for Terrapin where he once again expresses his great distaste for HYHU and does some band shout outs. Coil is mainly about Page as he takes a bit more of a solo than usual here (and the composed part is a little rough getting there) before an [unmic’d] Adeline closer and a Fire encore take us home.

Your takeaways from this one are the Weekapaug and perhaps the Melt and Maze. But definitely the Paug. Outside of that is is mainly just standard fare for the tour which is not to say it is bad but just not really notable in any particular fashion. As a whole, this is a show you could do worse than to listen to but it won’t jump out as one to spin simply because there aren’t any major highlights to point to here. Of course, you have the sit-in from Carl Gerhardt but being that it is just for Lawn Boy and Cavern there isn’t anything here that you haven’t already heard on a full GCH set such as from the Summer ’91 tour. So I guess we just chalk it up to another solid night along the path and move on to the next thing. And now we get another day off for another 500 mile drive before the band heads into Texas for a pair of shows on their way to Colorado and points further west (by way of New Mexico).

Water Your Team in a Beehive I’m a Sent You — New Orleans, LA 03.02.1993

Phish — Tipitina’s — New Orleans, LA 03.02.1993

I  Buried Alive>Poor Heart>Stash, Reba, Sparkle, Ice, Fee>ATR, CDT, Horse>Silent, IDK, Bowie

II  MFMF, Uncle Pen, Tweezer>Lizards, Llama, YEM, HYHU>Love You>HYHU, It’s My Life, Loup Garou, Choo Choo Ch’ Boogie, Hood, Grace

E  Golgi>Reprise

After finishing up the Florida run, Phish hugged the gulf coastline to make their way to New Orleans for the tail end of the Mardi Gras proceedings that year. They had a few days off to make the trip across and apparently took full advantage of that in ways that will become apparent as we work our way through chronicling the show from this visit. This would be their fourth stop at the venue but their first since 1991 when they played a pair of shows (one in March and the other in November). That November one had a bunch of ARU folk sit in with ten tracks included as the filler for the Katrina Relief release several years ago.

For this stop, the first set kicks off with Buried Alive>Poor Heart>Stash which can really serve to get the crowd going — and would help keep them from singing too much considering Trey now sounds afflicted with the cold Fish had in Florida (along with the fact that the band overall seems a bit… off). This Stash is well played and peaks nicely in a short but sweet version. Reba is next and she does well for herself while not necessarily dropping any jaws. But then, she’s a coy gal and doesn’t get too flashy very often but people still notice her beauty. The set then takes shape with a run through a bunch of stuff where you know what you are getting starting with Sparkle, Ice, and Fee>ATR. Trey notes those aforementioned issues with his voice during the ATR intro right after Page had thrown in a clever tease of Manteca in the Fee coda section. This is followed by (yet another) fiery CDT, Horse>Silent, and IDK (with multiple nickname fun and Fish on Madonna washboard along with Trey and Mike adorning his head with Mardi Gras beads during his solo). Interestingly, there is a note on .com about a sit-in for this version of IDK but I cannot hear it on the tapes and Trey never mentions it… Which gets us to the Bowie set closer. Probably the most notable thing here is that Trey asks the crowd if everyone is still hungover (with the implication being that he is) before they dive into what will be a rather unmemorable version that meanders a bit before coming back to close. Then it is off to the break to nurse those hangovers or maybe get a bit more hair of the dog going prior to the band’s return.

Second set kicks off with another tune with Trey on the acoustic (remember, of course, that Horse was Trey on acoustic back then) as MFMF sets the mood preceding Uncle Pen and then Tweezer>Lizards. The Tweezer has a couple of interesting ideas but doesn’t really flush those out too much with some over-noodling from Trey going on before they end up in Lizards. Trey’s vocal issues are on display a bit as he ‘speaks’ the lyrics for one section but otherwise this one is just fine. A kinda shreddy but sorta uneven Llama gets us to YEM (which has the ‘water your team’ lyrics) which is a pretty decent version with a nice jam. It isn’t a world beater but you get a nice building Page organ solo and then the requisite Trey hose-y takeover and a relatively mellow D&B section as they bring it home to the VJ which has a section that almost sounds like wolves howling (which is apropos to one of the sit-in covers to come). Next up is a relatively quick Fish Fun Time for Love You (though Page does give the opening HYHU a little extra sauce tonight) and then we get a sit-in from Bruce “Sunpie” Barnes for It’s My Life (Junior Wells tune), Loup Garou (a Willy DeVille tune about Bayou werewolves that Sunpie and his band also recorded about five years after this sit-in), and Choo Choo Ch’Boogie (a Louis Jordan original that Sunpie recorded much later than its 1940s heyday). All of these are fun tunes for the locale and were one-time performances by the band. Incidentally, the connection to this fixture of the New Orleans music scene was just starting with this sit-in as Trey would join his band for a whole set on 04.28.1996 (two days after the initial Phish appearance at Jazzfest – which was the bulk of that Katrina Relief release – in what would be a busy day for Trey as he and Page sat in for the whole Cosmic Krewe show too). Then on 04.30.2005 Sunpie came out to join the 70 Volt Parade for a couple of songs in a show highlighted by the “New Orleans Superjam” that deserves your listen, particularly for the second set and encores which include Trey, Cyril Neville, Gregory Davis and Roger Lewis of The Dirty Dozen, Dave Grippo, Michael Ray, Gordeaux, Ivan Neville, and the 70 Volt Parade band members. Oh yeah, Dave Matthews was there too. A fine enough Hood then gets us to the Grace closer (unplugged and not included on most tapes in circulation) and finally a Golgi, Reprise combo for the encores so that everyone can go revel in the last hours of Mardi Gras before doing it all again once more the next night.

In the end, overall, really not much going on here that you don’t hear in other shows. The sit-in is interesting if you like that shuffle-y cajun-ish music but it doesn’t really go anywhere very creative. At the least, it is different than most of the cover fodder Phish gets into and Sunpie is a massive personality with great stage presence that just grabs you and brings you into a happy place full of smiles, dancing, and good times in general. The Reba, Tweezer, and YEM are nice enough but there’s not much meat on the bones of anything in this show, quite frankly. Maybe it was the illness, or the hangovers, or just one of those nights after a couple off where they didn’t really connect. But you would hope that by the second night of the run they’d hit form again and we will find out about that next time…

Thoughts Follow My Vision — Tampa, FL 02.26.1993

Phish — Ritz Theatre — Tampa, FL 02.26.1993

I  Jim, Foam, Fee->Melt, Fluffhead, Llama, Horn, Divided, IDK>Cavern

II  Cup>Paul & Silas>Tweezer, Glide>CDT, Mound, BBJ, YEM, HYHU>Lengthwise>HYHU, Coil, Reprise

E  Bold as Love, Adeline

Here we have a lightly regarded or possibly lesser known show that hides a few gems to be unearthed. This is the first of two stops at this venue in the year with the August visit being more widely known considering the cache that August ’93 holds. But this show has energy, high quality playing, some real live takeaway jams, and that youthful exuberance of the band on the rise. None of these factors on their own make the show a must-hear experience but as a whole it works and as such this is one of the first shows on this tour not part of a run at a major venue (i.e. The Roseland or Roxy shows) that really comes together to be greater than the sum of its parts.

This commences from the get as they open with a fiery take on Jim where Trey takes charge in moving the jam alomstbutnotquite outside of the boundaries of the song. You can tell they are starting to want to jump off the deep end with this song and even though the massive versions of Jim are still more than two years away starting with Raleigh, NC 06.16.1995 — to say nothing of the longest version of any song ever that is the Worcester Jim from 11.29.1997. The seeds are being sowed here though and in just about a month we will start the hear more from this tune. Foam follows with a straightforward and punchy version that piggybacks off of the opener in getting everyone up and moving. trey again shines throughout this one. After a cleanly played Fee we get a Melt where Trey unloads a few clips from the machine gun and Fish backs him up with some insane fills while Page and Mike throw in their own flavors for a version that really points out how quickly they could connect on songs at this stage as at the peak all four seem to be going in different directions at the same time together… which I know makes perfect sense to you. Seriously, check this version out. This is straight fire in under ten minutes. A pretty well nailed Fluffhead comes up next (which is maybe the best version of the song to date this tour) and, once again, the addition of the baby grand piano brings a new life to the vibrancy of tunes like this one. It is a much cleaner sound than the electric piano me thinks and adds to a nicely peaked out version. The shred clinic continues for Llama and then Horn takes it down a notch before a real purty Divided with a pause that seems to last an eternity and Trey and Page combine to fillet the resolution. IDK pops up again tonight for more Fish nickname fun and the Madonna’s “sister” washboard solo in the 9th appearance for the song here in the 20th show of tour. We then get a Cavern closer (woo?) bringing us to a well deserved break to discuss just how hot this first set was. Interestingly, there are no Secret Language or other teases to be found here giving weight to the notion that they were just head-down-going-for-it without much outward thought involved. I approve of this set and wish to subscribe to its newsletter.

The second set starts off with a fun trifecta of Cup>P&S>Tweezer that carries over the mood from the first set. They are starting to really take Lovin’ Cup as their own now even while staying very true to the songs original form. After that quick grassy interlude for Paul & Silas we have a pretty much in the box Tweezer that elevates into a well developed jam. Trey finds an interesting line to follow and Fish goes with him, Page tags along, Mike says “sure, why not”, and they are into something not quite but still kinda tweezery before bringing it back around for the big peak. It’s just a fun ride. A crisp take on Glide provides the breather before a positively raging CDT (so unusual for the time period, huh?). They follow this up with a rather fast paced Mound before bringing out the balls for the all but ubiquitous BBJ before heading into YEM for the second night in a row. This one is very well played (I do love me some of that beautiful nirvana section action. It just amps up the anticipation.) with Page taking a nice solo on the organ where you can almost feel Trey just biding his timing thinking “just wait, yo. be patient…” before he takes over and, oh boy, does he ever. Out comes the gun for another attack. There’s the shred, an Oye Como Va tease and then is goes to a quite quick B&D breakdown before the VJ gets all Pete Schall’d. It might be one of the shorter takes on the song but there’s a lot packed into those sixteen plus minutes. Fish Fun Time is up next and tonight we have that classic ‘sing-along’ (according to Fish) Lengthwise. After a lovely take on Coil we get the booming Reprise closer we knew was coming. The encore is a bit flipped with Bold as Love (Trey nailing the solo here, naturally) preceding the shush-ful Adeline but, seriously, how do you overcome the drunken lovelies?

This one might not make it on the big board at the end of the tour but up until now this is one of the better total shows they have played. The show works better as a complete thing than in picking out individual highlights but I will note that if you are strapped for time or something you should focus on Jim, Melt, Tweezer, and YEM. BUt do yourself a favor and play this show at high volume straight through. You won’t regret it.

Just a note on content:

I had thought about doing another “stats so far” summary for this post being that this is the 20th show of the tour and round numbers are nice but I’m going to wait until the 25th show (Austin, TX 03.06.1993) since that will put us with Florida, Lousiana, and Texas in the rearview mirror. So we have that to look forward to which is nice.

I Stumble Into View — Miami Beach, FL 02.25.1993

Phish — The Cameo Theatre — Miami Beach, FL 02.25.1993

I  Buried Alive>Poor Heart>Cavern, Maze, Forbin’s>Mockingbird>Rift, Stash, Bouncin’, IDK, Bowie

II  Suzy>Ice>Sparkle>Wilson>YEM, Uncle Pen, BBJ>FEFY>HYHU>IIOHAB>HYHU, Golgi>BBFCFM

E  Grace, GTBT

After taking a night off to enjoy Wally World and get down to the tip of Florida, the band finds themselves in Miami Beach for a show at a venue that maaaaaaay be a little different now than it was BITD considering it was once a place to catch hardcore and punk acts before transitioning to a disco night club in the 90s. Now it is apparently… something else… what with the stripper poles, DJs, and such. But for one night in the early 90s this was a venue that hosted Phish and I’m here to dive into what happened that night so let’s just get to it already, okay?

Before we get too far along here I’ll just get it out there that the available recordings that circulate for this show are really not that great. Basically you get a Frankenstein of patched sources (unfortunately this does not mean they played Frank that night though) with some jump cuts, tape flips, and whatnot thrown in there to keep you on your toes. We get this right from the start with the opener Buried Alive which fades in not too far from the start of the song. Nothing special here as we head into Poor Heart and Cavern with this three pack of tunes to get the crowd moving. The Maze that follows seems to wake Trey up as he tears apart his solo quite effectively. Forbin’s>Mockingbird fills the meat of the set after that and the story is quite lovely with a big wave (the biggest surf wave ever!) carrying the crowd (with their feet planted firmly on the floor) to Gamehendge. Page teases the theme to Gilligan’s Island and Trey adds in some hurried detail about GH, noting that there will be a quiz at the end but I’m still waiting for that quiz and all of the other ones from other shows where he has mentioned this so what gives, Trza? Where’s the follow through on that? C’mon, man. Maybe that’s why mainstream never took these guys seriously. What’s that? Oh. Right. Trey moves on from this (as I clearly should have) to nail the end solo in Mockingbird and then the band pretty well nails Rift which by this point they should considering this is the 12th Rift in 19 shows. Next up we have Stash and this one stays mainly in the box during its compact course, being more of the punchy clean variety with a nice peak rather than going into deeper waters. I know I already covered this but there is an absolutely brutal tape cut at the end here that kind of throws one off for a sec. It is a little unnerving, frankly, but we will get by. We will survive. After a standard Bouncin’ we have IDK which gives us a whole host of Fish nicknames from Trey, the trombone solo, and our first indication that Fish needs to be on his better behavior since Trey notes his parents’ presence in the crowd. This brings us to the Bowie first set closer which includes a full nod to Fish’s parents being in the room, some SL (Oom Pa Pa, Simpsons), and a full band tease of the theme to Jeopardy before they head into a solid jam that builds to the end peak quite well. After that we are left to wonder about how different the crowd for some of those classic shows in the late 80s here were from the one in the venue this night and to wonder what they would have thought of these moheads from Vermont.

Right about when we have finally begun to grasp that hetty concept the band comes back for the second frame, kicking it off with a five song sequence of Suzy>Ice>Sparkle>Wilson>YEM. Those first four are about what you’d expect though the Wilson does have some SL (Random Note) and a bit of an extended end section (for the era)… but let’s just move on to the YEM, okay? The composed section is fine enough but then Trey takes charge and elevates the jam segment before they head into a VJ that includes the typical for this tour ‘choir’ ending. After a pretty rough Uncle Pen we have the odd pair of BBJ>FEFY which occurred more than seems correct but for our purposes doesn’t really demand much conversation about that. This brings us to Fish Fun Time and tonight we are treated to a special guest as Mimi Fishman graces the stage for her sixth ever guest vac appearance. I suppose if you make the drive from Syracuse to southern Florida to see your boy’s weirdo band perform at some small club they let you help out with the non-traditional music instrument section of the show. Knowing that Mimi apparently really loved doing this just makes the fact that Fish uses a vacuum that much funnier somehow because you know they had some epic vac jam sessions together. Mother son bonding is amazing stuff. Everyone say “aaaaaawww” now. A quick dip Golgi and a raucous BBFCFM closer take us to yet another Grace, GTBT encore pairing (third already this tour!) and we are off into the Art Deco night to enjoy the sea breezes and people watching of Miami Beach.

This is a fairly uneven show with a few rough patches in a couple of songs but the Maze, Bowie, and YEM (particularly the jam segment) are all worthwhile. These first Florida shows must have been odd considering that they went from playing theaters in the Northeast to some college venues in the MidSouth to The Roxy run to these small clubs which is quite the change of scenery in only a week or so. There is definitely a lot looser feel to some of these shows but when they connect it really doesn’t matter what size the room is. And while they didn’t always connect I feel comfortable in saying that on a nightly basis they found enough points of connection to be able to further develop their sound while also growing the fanbase seemingly one blown mind at a time.

I Walk Awakening on the Misty Fields of Forever — Orlando, FL 02.23.1993

Phish — The Edge Nightclub — Orlando, FL 02.23.1993

I  Golgi, MFMF>Rift, Bouncin’, Melt, Reba, Lawn Boy, CDT, Wedge, Paul & Silas>Antelope

II  Axilla, MSO, Stash->Lizards, PYITE>ATR, Mike’s>H2>Weekapaug->Nelly Kane->Weekapaug>HYHU>Terrapin>HYHU, Possum

E  Adeline, Poor Heart

If you were an up and coming band on a big tour and you hit a town you had never played before for your seventh show in as many days and on Mardi Gras, there is a good chance that you might have a bit of an interesting night. Your energy at being in a new town and on a night where people like to party might be just enough to help you overcome the fatigue setting in at the tail end of this longest run of shows to date on the tour (which is not saying much considering they had already played a couple of five night strings). Or maybe you ride the momentum of the crowd and the overall vibe of the nightclub within which you are playing and find what you can in the music you make… which is pretty much what we get here: a somewhat uneven show with some really high highs and some other stuff that isn’t quite there. In the end it is a Phish show though, so no matter what we will find something to discuss amiright?

Things get going with a Golgi opener and a fun MFMF>Rift pairing before we go Bouncin’. None of these is overly notable (well, MFMF had the acoustic intro but that was par at this time so I’m not sure why I am even mentioning it again) but they do their job in getting the room moving before the real fun starts. Next up is a pretty maniacal Melt that has some quite evil sounding cackling from the band as well as a proto-Melt jam that hints at where this song is headed in a couple of months when the “aha” moment hits and everything changes for the band in performing this tune (don’t worry, we will spend ample time dissecting that). They then go into Reba, pairing up these two lovely vehicles for the last time, well, ever. Reba has preceded Melt twice (11.02.1989 and 03.29.1991) and Melt has preceded Reba twice as well (12.28.1992 and this show). I suppose it shouldn’t be expected for two of their more reliable second tier vehicles to be paired together but you would think that over the years (especially back then) it would have happened more often. Whatever the count, this pairing works as they go from the dark and dirty grime of Melt to the uplifting, floaty jam of Reba. Next up is Lawn Boy which again has the Trey solo tonight and afterward Page thanks the crowd and dedicates the song to this Orlando crowd. They bring things back up for a rocking CDT before a bouncy take on the [slow] Wedge. This song is starting to find its form but is still now quite the version we know today even with a little extra Page in the gravy on this one. Paul and Silas (with Trey calling out to Page to highlight his solo) runs right into the set closing Antelope you could see coming a mile away and this one has some SL (Simpsons, All Fall Down), a supposed ‘The Price of Love’ tease (it could be the Everly Brothers song or the Bad English song but… ok, it’s the Everly Brothers song but that gave me the chance to link that crappy hair band tune so there!), along with one of the earlier instances of Trey telling the crowd not to do anything they wouldn’t do before hitting the break. Now there’s time to talk about what Disney rides everyone will enjoy the next day on the off day as we wait for the band to come back. Incidentally, the band did go to Disney the next day and, man, would I love to see the pictures from that one!

After the break the band comes out firing with Axilla and MSO, using the two quick energy numbers to get everyone moving again. MSO again has Trey giving Page the solo callout in a quite speedy rendition of the tune. We then get our first vehicle of the second set with Stash and this one has an early example of what will become known as Trey’s “Jedi Speak” jamming where he intones along with the music along with a somewhat different overall feel as it kind of hints towards where Wedge will end up before they move on (there is also a HYHU tease in here). This Stash is also the fifth one of the tour to be paired with Lizards (out of the nine total in eighteen shows) and the third one where the song goes unfinished into that bit of Gamehendgery. The Lizards here is nice enough without much to mention before they move on to another ‘Hendge tune in PYITE which on this night is still a tad sloppy in the execution though still well received. A quick ATR bridges us to the expected Mike’s Groove we knew was coming but it is a bit different tonight. The Mike’s Song is pretty well straight forward but then we have a bustout of sorts with the lyrics to H2 being performed (“I walk awakening on the misty fields of forever” if you didn’t know it from the post title) for the first time since 1990 (the exact date is debatable as .net shows the 11.26.1990 show from Ithaca as having it while .com notes the 10.05.1990 show from Saratoga Springs as being the last). The last one appears to have been 04.21.1994 in Winston-Salem, NC in the midst of a quite solid Mike’s Groove but that is another conversation entirely. After that lyrical addition the H2 itself is a little rough but it does its job in getting us to Weekapaug and this one has a surprise of its own in store. About midway through after getting to the jam part they go into what will be the debut of Nellie Kane. It isn’t a full version but it is there and now we have another ‘bluegrass slot’ tune to add to the rotation. They bring things back to Weekapaug to wrap up this Groove but end up seguing right into HYHU for Fish Fun Time. Tonight that means a lot of banter, a bevy of Fish nicknames (really these are in the space between the closing HYHU and the start of Possum but whatever), and a relaxed take on Terrapin. Next up is the closer Possum (not bad but nothing great here either) before the Adeline (mic’d up tonight!) and Poor Heart encores send everyone off into the Mickey Mouse night.

One of the first things you notice about this show is the high number of grassy tunes in the setlist, more than what would be typical of this era before the mini-stage and Rev. Mosier tour stuff where several grassier songs might get played each night. In fact, of the seven “bluegrass” songs they had played on stage to this point four are here (Paul & Silas, My Sweet One, Nellie Kane in its debut, and Poor Heart) and the other three had been played recently (Pig in a Pen got debuted with Rev. Mosier two shows prior, Uncle Pen was played last night, and Rocky Top was [obviously] played in Knoxville a few nights before that). The only other potential bluegrass song in their entire history up to this night is only noted as “bluegrass” on the setlist for 09.27.1985 (Page’s second show with the band!) in what appears to be a setlist taken from someone’s notes. And since that tape is not readily in circulation we are left to assume it is either one of the songs above or something we will never know about until that tape pops up. In truth the tape is out there as the .com notes for that show talk about tape flips and such but I have yet to hear it. So where was I going with this again? Oh yeah. I think it is notable that these grassy tunes are all coming out right after the Rev. Jeff Mosier sit-in as it points to the interest the band had in expanding their repertoire to include more of this music, culminating in that Fall ’94 mini-tour he did with the band. Yet another example of the band wearing their influences on their sleeve. The fact that they are/were so adept as to be able to fold the grassy side of things directly into one of their bigger (at the time) rocking vehicles says a lot about how they sought to incorporate this ‘old timey’ music into their sound. And in wrapping this all up I’ll say your highlight takeaways from this night are that Mike’s Groove (particularly the H2 and beyond), Melt, Reba, and maybe the Antelope. Not bad for the back end of seven in a row.

Next up for the band is that day off to explore Disney World before continuing to follow those southward leaning lines to Miami for a night that includes a Mimi Fishman appearance and much much more.

All My Plastic Melodreams — Tallahassee, FL 02.22.1993

Phish — The Moon — Tallahassee, FL 02.22.1993

I  Rift, Guelah>Secret Language Instructions>Guelah, Poor Heart>Maze, Fee>Sparkle, Foam, Cavern, IDK>Bowie

II  Jim, Ice>Uncle Pen, Tweezer>Glide, YEM, Oh Kee Pa>Llama, HYHU>Love You>HYHU, Coil, Reprise

E  Grace, Fire

Riding the swell of the preceding Roxy Run, Phish descended into their first visit to the Sunshine State with a Monday night show that looks pretty good on paper and comes off well in places even in being the sixth night on stage in a row for the band. This first run of shows in Florida brought the band back down a bit in playing some bar-type venues rather than the small theaters and music halls that they had begun playing in the Northeast and some other choice markets for fans that had figured out this was a band to check out whenever they were within striking distance. On this particular night that change back to the bar scene was evident in some ways as Phish took on a relaxed tone that is evident in the interactions with the crowd, the energy of the music played, and in some of the choices made in putting together this setlist. Along with being the first ever Phish show in Florida there are a few other notable ‘firsts’ here, particularly in relation to the sound check which includes the first [known] Guy Forget and the first Nelly Kane (which would debut on stage in the very next show down the road in Orlando, albeit in an abbreviated form within Weekapaug but we will get to that in due time), not to mention the first Oh Kee Pa of this young tour popping up midway through the second set. There are some other fun things to note here as well so we might as well get moving on that.

The first set kicks off with Rift tonight and most if not all circulating copies of this show cut in towards the end of said Rift so there’s not much to talk about with this one except perhaps that it is only the fifth show-opening Rift to date in seventy performances of the song since its debut. Yet another second song first set Guelah is up next and right after Trey throws in a Secret Language signal (Simpson’s) during the intro he begins the interactive portion of the evening by giving a brief tutorial on the Secret Language. I’m not entirely sure why he chose this show to do it, but here we are. These abbreviated SL Instructions include the Simpson’s and Random Note signals (not to mention a ‘Call to Post’ tease) while also being the penultimate time Trey would ever take time to explain the Secret Language to a crowd in the live setting (the final one is just over a month later in Phoenix on 03.16.1993). From here they go back and complete Guelah before hitting up Poor Heart. This gives way to a pretty hot Maze that gives the band the chance to get things cooking a bit. Fee follows here (which is interesting considering the somewhat common pairing of Fee>Maze in this era — Fee has preceded Maze 21 times while it has followed Maze 12) before a quite frenzied Sparkle gets about as close to hitting the mythical Face Melting Sparkle (FMS) territory that many have sought over the years only to be left with disappointment. They get going so fast in the final minute that they have to actively slow down to reel it back in for the final refrain. A punchy Foam follows this before a straight to form Cavern and yet another IDK here in the latter part of the first set. This one has Fish on trombone and he gets a few new nicknames along the way (the Friar, Little John, etc.) before the trombone solo folds into intro of the the Bowie that will close of our first set proceedings. They rip through this version (you know it is ripping when they tease Maze) without forging too much new ground but it is a rocking close to this relatively short first set.

After the break they come out firing with an energetic Jim that shows some of the seeds of beginning to stretch out a bit though that is still a little bit off from here. Ice comes up next and really the most notable thing here is that this is now the fifth time this tour the two songs have been paired together (with all but one starting the second set). They would do this a few more times on this tour before moving on from the pattern but in total the two songs have been played in this sequence 22 times, 12 of which were to start a set). We get a quick run through Uncle Pen out of that Ice and then the familiar tones of Tweezer kick in, bringing us to the first opportunity for some open music of the set. This one has potential but stays in the rocking-bar-band vein before sliding effortlessly into Glide. The midset jam slot tonight is for YEM and this one is well executed (very nice Nirvana section and the jam feels like there are teases being made, particularly from Page) and has a fun VJ that has elements of ‘How Many More Times’, ‘Frankenstein’ (a song they had played ten times up to this point but not since 07.26.1991), and the ‘Theme from Jeopardy’. Well worth your time in checking that one out. That aforementioned first Oh Kee Pa of the year is next before a quite fast paced Llama and then it is Fish Fun Time once again. Tonight we have some hilarity with the “hateful” band intros preceding Love You. A lovely take on Squirming Coil brings things back to form before a nice Reprise closer finishes it off. The encores are Grace and Fire tonight.

This show exists in an interesting place for the band. They are clearly on the rise in terms of building the fanbase, having graduated up from the bars and small clubs they started in to small theaters and other similarly sized venues, particularly on their home turf in the northeast as well as in places like Colorado and California where they already had established themselves. But here on the first visit to Florida they are back to playing a glorified bar room (okay, it is a “night club”. big deal) for an undersold crowd on a Monday night. The venues and crowds seem to get better as they make their way through the five shows of this mini-run within the tour but it is still a bit of a step back to an establishment phase from where they were. The music doesn’t really suffer except in that they may not have gone as far afield in some cases and overall the show itself is worth the time for listening. I doubt this one or any of the others that follow here are going to be archival releases any time soon (maybe when Fish needs to start shelling out for college for all of those kids he went and had) but it is a fun spin. The takeaways are the Guelah>SLI>Guelah, Bowie, Tweezer (kind of, but keep in mind this one is mainly rocking and not too exploratory), the YEM, and maybe the HYHU>Love You>HYHU if for nothing else than some fun banter. As is always the case, you could be stuck listening to Nickelback or worse so even ‘just okay’ Phish is better than the alternative. No one really wants to listen to Nickelback so just enjoy this one for what it is and realize how lucky you would have considered yourself to have been able to catch such a show (and to brag about it now).

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.