Download my ‘One Time in ’93’ mix

During the last year I began a series of posts, titled “That One Time…”, in which I highlighted instances when Phish did something completely unexpected on-stage with one of their so-called ‘standard’ tunes (songs that typically vary little between performances). You can read the two 1993-focused posts I wrote in this series here and here. I’m having a lot of fun listening for small but interesting variations between songs while working on this project, and I think doing so is helping me become a more attentive listener overall.

To write these posts I flag performances for a possible write-up while listening to shows. I later go back and re-listen to these performances after finishing the tour, and when doing so, began to arrange the songs into a playlist that would be fun to just throw on and listen to. This began for purely personal purposes, but as the playlist has become increasingly fun to listen to, I decided to put some actual energy into it and shape it into something cool and worth sharing. After paring down the playlist into a set-length listen and doing some very basic editing to smooth the transitions between tracks I emerged with the following mix. I think the result is a surprisingly fluid and fun listen of interesting takes on typically-‘standard’ songs.

I wish I could have used lossless sources (e.g. FLAC, WAV) when making this mix but unfortunately the best, and sometimes only, audio I could find was from the Phish Spreadsheet. I thus was often only working with MP3s, and I can only share MP3s with you now. Included with the download is the source information for each audio recording I used when compiling the mix. All audio used complies with Phish’s taping and recording duplication policy (as of the date of publishing this post), and the mix therefore may be shared freely as long as not done for-profit. The download link can be found at the bottom of this post. I hope you enjoy!


Track list:

  1. AC/DC Bag > (8/25/93 – Paramount Theatre, Seattle WA) [9:43]
  2. It’s Ice > (5/8/93 – Field House, Durham NH) [9:27]
  3. Fee -> (8/9/93 – Concert Hall, Toronto CAN) [6:09]
  4. Wilson > (3/13/93 – Balch Fieldhouse, Boulder CO) [7:39]
  5. Big Black Furry Creature from Mars* -> (12/29/93 – New Haven Veterans Memorial Coliseum, New Haven CT) [3:09]
  6. Walk Away > (12/29/93) [3:51]
  7. Good Times Bad Times# -> (2/21/93 – Roxy Theatre, Atlanta GA) [3:19]
  8. Paul and Silas% -> (2/21/93) [2:18]
  9. Pig in a Pen^ (2/21/93) [3:03]
  10. Halley’s Comet > (8/6/93 – Cincinnati Zoo Peacock Pavilion, Cincinnati OH) [6:29]
  11. The Squirming Coil -> Big Ball Jam > (5/8/93) [19:03]
  12. Amazing Grace (5/8/93) [5:38]

Total length: 79:43

  • * Unfinished.
  • # Performed bluegrass style; the “Reverend” Jeff Mosier on banjo.
  • % The “Reverend” Jeff Mosier on banjo.
  • ^ Phish debut; the “Reverend” Jeff Mosier on banjo.

DOWNLOAD MP3 HERE (Mediafire) [91.3MB]

The run-up to the start of my coverage of Phish’s spring 1994 tour on April 4th will continue on March 29th, when I will post a review Phish’s studio album Hoist on the anniversary of its release.

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The 10 Best Phish Shows of 1993: #5-#1

Last week I posted the first half of my 10 favorite Phish shows of 1993, detailing entries #10-#6. Everything I wrote in that post about having to make difficult decisions in ranking these shows against each other applies even more so here. Regardless of the merits of ranking the shows I have (which I would love to see debate about in the comments!), I think we can all agree that these five shows are shows that any Phish fan should be able to enjoy.

So here they are: the top 5 shows of 1993!


April 1993

#5. May 8th – Field House, Durham NH

Phish kicks into high gear early during this tour-closer with a deep, first-set sequence of “Stash > Kung > Stash.” I definitely prefer the late winter/spring “Stash” jams to the early summer ones, and the unbridled intensity of this “Stash” is a perfect example of why. The band tears through “Stash,” builds up a ball of energy in “Kung,” and crashes back into the conclusion of “Stash.” It’s an awesome sequence. The first set is otherwise well-sequenced, paced, and fun to listen to, featuring a rare jazz standard and a somewhat unique if not revelatory “Reba.”

The first set of this show is definitely fun, but it’s the second set that really shines. The band uses the final set of their longest-ever tour to embrace some full-on, distinctly Phishy, freewheeling madness. The longest and–with only one possible exception–wildest “David Bowie” of the year opens the set. Extensive “Jessica” and Secret Language teases are woven into the song’s intro before the band launches into a dark, heavy-metal, type-II jam. This heavy-metal jam is complete with requisite power chords, vocal wailing, and guitar shredding. The set just snowballs from there: “Have Mercy” gets woven into “Bowie” before that song’s conclusion 20 minutes after-the-fact, “It’s Ice” gets a long-for-the-time ‘underwater’ jam, “The Squirming Coil” is sixteen-minutes and goes into a full-band, type-II jam (???), and Phish debuts Eric Clapton’s “Crossroads” in the middle of a ripping “Mike’s Song”…before the tour ends with a jammed-out instrumental version of “Amazing Grace” on top of a “Weekapaug Groove” beat. It’s all totally unpredictable but flows together into something somehow cohesive all the same, and it’s 90 minutes of pure Phish fun. [LivePhish release]

Must-hear sequences: “Stash > Kung > Stash”,”David Bowie > Have Mercy > David Bowie”, “The Squirming Coil > Big Ball Jam”, “Mike’s Song > Crossroads > Mike’s Song > I Am Hydrogen > Weekapaug Groove > Amazing Grace”

#4. March 22nd – Crest Theatre, Sacramento CA

The first set of this show is largely unexceptional for the period. The setlist is promising, featuring the likes of “Stash,” “Reba,” and “David Bowie,” but all these big tunes turn in rather standard performances. It’s still a fun listen; “Bowie” receives a good workout, for example, and goes through several exciting builds, but the first set is certainly not essential listening.

Set 2 is another matter entirely. “Golgi Apparatus” opens the set in unassuming fashion, but during the underwater segment of “It’s Ice” Trey begins the only complete “Gamehendge” performance of the year, making this a truly unique and special set. Despite some of these songs being in light rotation (e.g. “Tela,” “McGrupp”) they are all well performed, and the narration is enjoyable without being overwrought. I had not personally listened to a complete Gamehendge performance prior to this set, and I found it to be both a true delight (even on re-listen) and the most memorable sequence of the sometimes-inconsistent March run of performances. The entire song cycle takes on a dream-like quality as Trey narrates the tale.

This performance of Gamehendge takes up a full hour of the set, but Phish still has enough in their cylinders for a fiery Mike’s Groove to finish out the set. Trey gets downright nasty during “Mike’s” with a killswitch-esque segment while the band uses “Weekapaug” for some earned musical celebration. It’s a perfect cap to an incredible set.

Must-hear sequences: Gamehendge (“It’s Ice > The Lizards > Tela > Wilson > AC/DC Bag > Colonel Forbin’s Ascent > Fly Famous Mockingbird > The Sloth > McGrupp and the Watchful Hosemasters”), “Mike’s Song > I Am Hydrogen > Weekapaug Groove


March 1993

#3. August 13th – Murat Theatre, Indianapolis IN

While the second set of this classic mid-August show is jammier and more memorable than the first, the first half of this scorcher in Indianapolis has its share of highlights as well. A rare, cold-open “Makisupa Policeman” sets a heady tone for the night as song #3 of the evening, and a typical-but-shredding “Stash” warms up the band’s improvisational muscles just a couple songs later. The night really takes a turn for Phishy weirdness, however, with the near-20-minute “David Bowie” set closer (the “one possible exception” I mentioned above while discussing the 5/8 “Bowie”). This experimental “Bowie” works its way through a number of distinct mini-jams including a euphoric peak centered around “The Mango Song” progression and a riff on jazz standard “My Favorite Things.” It’s not the most fluid jam of the month, but it’s an exciting listen and would be the clear standout of many other shows.

Of course, the Murat Theatre show stands out from most other shows, and the exploratory “David Bowie” only marks the beginning of this show’s incredible offerings. This show will forever be known for the “Murat Gin,” one of those legendary Phish jams that has been bestowed with its own short-hand, proper-noun name. The jam is not quite the ecstatic blow-out that the best of the late-90s “Gins” are, but the fact that this jam is even in conversation with those best-of-career showcases speaks to its quality, and it’s an explosion of creativity, joy, and energy that is certainly groundbreaking for this time. The Murat “Gin” displays more fluidity than any prior “Gin” and works through multiple life-affirming peaks. And, unbelievably, that’s not all this set has to offer! The band shortly after then goes on to drop another huge type-II jam at the end of the set by way of a hard-rocking and intense “Mike’s Song.” “Mike’s” eschews the euphoria of the earlier “Gin” for unbridled heavy-metal energy, shouted vocal wails and all.

Several shows on this top 10 list earn their way on through a combination of setlist hijinks, bust-outs, pure Phishiness, and memorable improvisation. With 8/13, while the setlist is certainly good, it’s simply all about the jams. Murat earns the #3 slot because in terms of improvisation it’s the most accomplished show of the year prior to the New Year’s Eve run, pure and simple. [LivePhish Release]

Must-hear sequences: “David Bowie,” “Bathtub Gin,” “Mike’s Song > Lifeboy”

#2. December 31st – Worcester Centrum Centre, Worcester MA

Speaking of that New Year’s run…

Some factors that go into ranking shows on this list are relatively easy to quantify. For example, it’s easy to look at a setlist and count how many big jams a show has. Other factors require a little more attention to detail and nuance and can’t be reduced to a number, such as the band’s approach towards a song on any particular evening. Lastly, some elements of the show experience, like how it must have felt to be in that particular room during any given show can be near-impossible to translate to words or an after-the-fact analysis. It’s these more intangible factors that lie behind the high placement of this show perhaps more than any other show here.

While not quite the largest capacity venue Phish played all year, the Centrum is nevertheless considerably larger than the vast majority of venues that Phish played in ’93, and judging by the excitement of the crowd on tape, the size of the audience brought a considerable energy to the performance. The band sounds electric and precise from the opening “Llama,” and it’s simply incredible to hear the band–from that already high starting point–continually pick up steam and become more and more destructive in their playing as the night goes on. The first set “Stash” and “Reba” are very good, but it’s “Run Like an Antelope” where the evening starts to push into that upper echelon. It’s not a particular long or exploratory “Antelope,” but Trey is simply ripping by this point and the jam explodes with a wild and crazy intensity.

The second set picks up where “Antelope” left off and continues to build. The set-opening “Tweezer” is also not particularly exploratory, but trades exploration for a single-minded, laser-focused party vibe that slowly builds to an incredibly satisfying peak. Trey uses his solo in “You Enjoy Myself” to deliver more thrilling guitar theatrics before the entirety of set 3 serves as a peak for the evening. Phish immediately follows the “Auld Lang Syne” ringing in of the new year with the joyful debut of “Down with Disease” by way of an instrumental jam on that song’s main theme and a dark, precise “Split Open and Melt.” Everything culminates with a euphoric, definitive take on “Harry Hood.” As I write in my review of the show, “Phish is hungry during this show. It’s simply impossible not to sense. The sets are perfectly scripted, the band digs in to just about every jam to bring them to soaring heights, and Trey simply shreds from beginning to end, putting on a master class of rock solo musicianship.” I don’t think there’s much more to be said.

Must-hear sequences: “Run Like an Antelope,” “Tweezer,” “You Enjoy Myself,” “Auld Lang Syne > Down with Disease Jam > Split Open and Melt” (found on Live Bait Vol. 3), “Harry Hood”

#1. December 30th – Cumberland County Civic Center, Portland ME

This show is the yin to the yang of the 31st. Both shows are the complete package, but while the 31st is exploding with energy and a party-vibe, this night showcases the band diving deep into heady, psychedelic territory and surfacing with some of the most impressive jams of the year. Phish shows they mean business right from the get-go by using “David Bowie” to open set 1 for the first time since February. While not as exploratory as some summer performances of the song, this is still a highly entertaining “Bowie” that features a brief “Dream On” jam, knotty full-band interplay, and an exciting series of peaks.

The show just builds from there. The stakes continue to rise over the course of the first set, with a fun narration in “Colonel Forbin’s Ascent > Fly Famous Mockingbird” that references the hockey rink beneath the audience’s feet and the first “Bathtub Gin” since the monumental Murat performance. While this “Gin” may not reach the same heights as the Murat performance, the band nevertheless once again busts open the end of the song and embarks on a galloping, open-ended jam that gradually melts into nothingness. As I wrote in my review, this was “my favorite set of the run so far; first set or second.”

As good as the first set is, it’s merely prelude to the awesomeness contained in the second half. The whole of set 2 is simply a peak performance. “2001” kicks things off as if it’s still summer before a monster “Mike’s Song” kicks off a 40+ minute Mike’s Groove. “Mike’s” is not unusually long, but it is unusually locked-in and focused, with the band driving straight towards a cathartic, euphoric, and type-II peak with a fluidity often absent from this year’s big jams. The rest of the set flows like a dream, with the band refusing to take a pause or play a wrong note: “Mike’s” melts into a serene breather by way of “The Horse > Silent in the Morning” which in turn gives way to the funk intensity of “Punch You in the Eye.” “Punch” emerges into the exquisite, rare treat of “McGrupp” before “Weekapaug Groove” brings the whole sequence to a rocking, explosive conclusion. Still-new to rotation “Slave to the Traffic Light” caps this momentous set with a judicious amount of ‘hose’ peaking from Trey.

Individually these songs are all great, but they somehow manage to coalesce into something even greater. This is one of those shows where every song, every jam, every note seems to somehow be placed exactly where it is meant to be. All four musicians are on top of their game, and this whole show is simply a delight to listen to. To be fair, much of the same can be said of the 31st, and deciding which of these two shows to place on top was probably the hardest decision I made while working on this list. But something about this entire show simply clicks with me in a way that no other 1993 show did. There was something magical in the air on this cold night in Portland, Maine.

Must-hear sequences: “Colonel Forbin’s Ascent > Fly Famous Mockingbird,” “Bathtub Gin,” “Mike’s Song,” “Weekapaug Groove,” “Slave to the Traffic Light”

I hope that these rankings have been as fun to read as they were to work on! Phish’s 1994 spring tour did not start until April, so I’ll be posting one more backwards-looking ’93-focused post on February 25th before I start looking ahead to ’94 Phish. Talk to you then!

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The 10 Best Phish Shows of 1993: #10-#6

To start, I would simply like to say that compiling this list was hard. Real hard. I reviewed 108 full Phish shows from 1993 over the past year, and a lot of those shows were very good. Whittling down a list to just ten shows required eliminating a lot of really excellent shows. For example, I rated 17 of those 108 shows over the past year a perfect 5/5, so even limiting my initial consideration to shows I rated 5/5 still required a lot of cutting down to reach this 10. Nonetheless, after thinking about this list more than I probably should have, and going back and revisiting a lot of those shows, I was able to come up with a list I’m happy with.

This post started to feel too long and unwieldy to publish all at once, so I have cut it into two parts. The second half of the list, containing entries #5 through #1, will be posted exactly one week from today.

Without further ado, enjoy!

#10. August 7th – Darien Lake Performing Arts Center, Darien Center NY

While the improvisation in this show might not go quite as deep as in some of the shows further down this list, this early August show from upstate New York is otherwise the complete package. The band sounds fired up from the opening “Llama” straight through to the closing “Run Like an Antelope.” An early first-set “Stash” has the band going deep into a very satisfying type-II bliss jam that somehow resolves smoothly into a funky “Makisupa Policeman” that sounds straight out of ’97…and that’s just the beginning. Other first set highlights include a fun “Forbin’s > Mockingbird” narration and a tasty “Reba.”

While the first set is non-stop, the second set more than holds its own against it. The band doesn’t pause once during the excellent opening half hour of the set, which is driven by a dark “Mike’s Song > Kung > Mike’s Song” sequence. A great performance of rarity “McGrupp” appears later in the set, and a typical summer ’93 “Antelope” (meaning awesome, intense, and raging) ends the set in fine fashion. Literally every ‘quarter’ of this show has something unique and fun to offer, and it all combines to a whole that is greater than the already-great individual components. [LivePhish release]

Must-hear sequences: “Stash > Makisupa Policeman > Reba”, “Mike’s Song > Kung > Mike’s Song > The Man Who Stepped Into Yesterday > Avenu Malkenu > The Sloth”


May 1993 – Monterey CA

#9. August 16th – American Theater, St. Louis MO

No week in ’93 was hotter for Phish than the mid-August, midwest swing that this show comes from. This may be the first show from this run appearing on this list, but I promise it won’t be the last. The band is cooking from the start, with an exciting opening sequence of “Axilla” and “Possum,” but things really kick into high gear during song #4 with the longest, most exploratory “Reba” of ’93. The band only stays loosely connected to the typical structure of the jam, pushing the song through several successive euphoric peaks beyond what one would expect to hear. It’s an absolute joy to listen to, and honestly the best single moment of the show. However, that’s certainly not to say there’s nothing else to dig into from this show. As the second set shows, that is far from the fact.

Set two opens with one of the longest Mike’s Grooves of the year, providing 30 minutes of highly improvisational goodness just about equally divided between “Mike’s Song” and “Weekapaug Groove.”  “Mike’s” is the stronger half, as the band returns to blissful territory they visited in “Reba.” “Weekapaug” is still a great even if not quite hitting the same cathartic notes, featuring plenty of zany, entertaining antics. Unlike 8/7, this show really is more about these individual sequences than the ‘complete experience.’ The fourth quarter of this show is well-played and sequenced but also largely composition-focused, lacking much improvisation. [LivePhish release]

Must-hear sequences: “Reba”, “Mike’s Song > Faht > Weekapaug Groove”

#8. February 20th – Roxy Theatre, Atlanta GA

With some shows it’s simply all about the second set. That’s certainly the case here. While thoroughly enjoyable, the first set of 2/20 doesn’t stray far from typical February fare. Strong points include a stretched-out “Possum” and precisely-played performances of “Divided Sky” and “Fluffhead.” The second set, on the other hand, is anything but standard fare. An eerie “Wilson” opens the second set before a good “Reba” ups the improvisational stakes. This makes for a solid opening to the set, but it can’t compare to what comes next.

The next forty minutes — the bulk of the set — is comprised of wild and energetic setlist shenanigans. Phish lights the fuse with a ripping “Walk Away” sandwiched right in the middle of “Tweezer,” but it’s Mike’s Groove where things get truly ridiculous. The “Mike’s Song” jam, while characteristically messy,  gets delightfully gnarly and works through a number of teases before ending up in “My Mind’s Got a Mind of Its Own,” and “I Am Hydrogen” barely gets started before a lengthy “Vibration of Life > Kung” sequence entrances the audience.

“Weekapaug Groove” brings the sequence to a joyous, raging conclusion as the band weaves “Have Mercy” and the debut “performance” of “Rock and Roll All Nite” into a quick, high-energy jam, with the band bringing “Gene Simmons” on stage for vocals on the latter. An exquisite “Fast Enough for You” follows the conclusion of “Weekapaug,” bringing the audience back to earth after the forty minute fever dream. This sequence is easily the most memorable sequence of February, and a pure, straight injection of Phish wackiness. To cap it all off, “Harry Hood” makes one of its rare spring appearances to send the crowd home in a pool of bliss. [LivePhish release]

Must-hear sequences: “Tweezer > Walk Away > Tweezer,” “Mike’s Song > My Mind’s Got a Mind of Its Own > Mike’s Song > I Am Hydrogen > The Vibration of Life > Kung > I Am Hydrogen > Weekapaug Groove > Have Mercy > Weekapaug Groove > Rock and Roll All Nite > Weekapaug Groove,” “Harry Hood”


2/19/93 – Atlanta GA (Source:

#7. August 2nd – Ritz Theatre, Tampa FL

Like many first sets from earlier in the summer the first set of 8/2 is a relatively brief affair, clocking in at less than an hour in length, but that hour is so packed with fun shenanigans that it’s kind of ridiculous. The band drops huge bust-outs in the way of “Brother” and “La Grange” and takes “Bathtub Gin” for its first extended excursion of the year, resulting in a glorious, multi-part jam that resolves smoothly into a relaxing and delightfully hazy “Makisupa Policeman” in the biggest highlight of the night.

The second set largely holds up its end of the bargain, though it’s not quite the same condensed injection of creativity that the first is. The set opens with a memorable “Mike’s Song > Sparks > The Ballad of Curtis Loew” sequence. “Mike’s” doesn’t get as exploratory as it will later in the month (see the above 8/16 show), but it makes up for that with unbridled intensity, shredding from Trey, and a guest vocalist at the end. The band steamrolls from there right into an exciting bust-out of “Sparks” and a delicate take on the rare “Curtis Loew.” A notable “Run Like an Antelope” closes the set, which mixes a characteristically intense summer rendition of the song with a “Makisupa Policeman” reprise.

Must-hear sequences: “Bathtub Gin > Makisupa Policeman,” “Mike’s Song > Sparks > The Ballad of Curtis Loew,” “Run Like an Antelope > Makisupa Policeman Reprise > Run Like an Antelope”

#6. August 15th – The Macauley Theater, Louisville KY

As promised, the August midwestern run rears its head again on this list. Like the show from the the following night, the biggest highlight comes square in the middle of the first set, this time by way of a deep, adventurous “Stash.” The longest and best “Stash” of tour gets taken on a wild, type-II excursion, emerging from a dark, psychedelic beginning into a euphoric, celebratory peak reminiscent of “The Mango Song” before descending again into “David Bowie”-esque anger. Truly a milestone jam. The entertaining first set is otherwise notable for a fresh-feeling setlist (check out the relatively rare “Caravan” and “Paul and Silas”), better-than-average renditions of “Runaway Jim” and “Fee,” and an intense narration contemplating the nature of existence in “Forbin’s > Mockingbird.”

Despite the fountain of creative improvisation that Phish unleashed throughout August, “Tweezer” received less attention from the band than one might expect. The “Tweezer” in this second set is the one real exception to that statement, for like the earlier “Stash,” the band here takes the song for its longest ride of tour. To be honest, this 20 minute “Tweezer” is kind of all over the place thematically, preventing it from having the same impact as the first-set “Stash.” Nevertheless, the jam is a great representation of the free-wheeling spirit of the month and works through a couple of satisfying peaks in-between hard-rock riffing, free-jazz anarchy, and contemplative, ambient segments. The rest of the second set is largely comprised of great renditions of through-composed songs like “The Lizards,” “Rift,” and “The Landlady,” but the band keeps an ace up their sleeve in the form of a big “Harry Hood” encore. Though the song is saved for late in the show the band treats the jam with patience, building the jam from a very quiet beginning to a life-affirming peak, ensuring everyone left the building at the end of the show uplifted.

Because this show has neither received an official release nor been classified by fans as ‘legendary’ I feel this is one of the more under-the-radar entries on the list, but don’t miss it if you want to hear some of the deepest jams of the month.

Must-hear sequences: “Stash,” “Colonel Forbin’s Ascent > Fly Famous Mockingbird,” “Tweezer,” “Harry Hood”

I hope this post has been of some interest, and that I have been able to pique an interest in shows that may have flown beneath your radar! The second part, discussing entries #5 through #1, will go live exactly a week from today on 2/1.

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December 31st, 1993: Worcester Centrum Centre, Worcester MA


Happy New Year’s Eve! NYE is a time for reflection, celebration….and three sets of high-energy Phish. This is the band’s first appearance at the Worcester Centrum, a venue they will continue to play until the current day (and one of my personal favorite venues). The Centrum is strucured in such a way that all the of the crowd’s energy seems funneled to the stage, fueling the band. 10/25/13 at the Centrum is the one of the most energetic non-festival, non-holiday Phish shows I’ve had the pleasure of attending, and I think the venue certainly played a role in that. The intensity of the in-venue atmosphere and the general lawless-ness of the surrounding area outside combines to create an explosive atmosphere for heady Phish (downtown Worcester feels worlds away from mid-town Manhattan and MSG and generally has a sizeable, lively Shakedown Street).

It’s incredible to recall that less than 12 months ago Phish was engaged in a nationwide tour of venues with capacities of 1000-5000, and is now the single artist on the bill of a three-set, New Year’s Eve show at a venue with a capacity of near 15,000. Phish has gradually been graduating to larger venues over the course of the year, but this feels like a real threshold moment. The band is threatening to become more than a club band, and at this point, the band has to realize that.

The crowd seems to realize it too, judging by the roaring crowd cheer that begins the excellent circulating recording of this show (a high-quality FM radio rip). A tight, fiery “Llama” opens the show that, together with the crowd enthusiasm, positively sparks with energy. The band has generally sounded perfectly-rehearsed and precise during composed portions of songs this run, and that seems to be holding true tonight. “Llama” is no longer than usual, but Trey’s solo does twist and turn through some delightfully knotty territory. “Guelah Papyrus” follows in it’s classic #2 slot, and works great here to bring everyone back down after the intensity of “Llama.” Trey asks the crowd “Everybody in yet?” during the pause in “Guelah,” which can be interpreted in a couple different ways. The band doesn’t rest for long, as they dive right back into high-energy playing with an early “Stash.”


The “Stash” jam begins at about 5:00 with a repetitive, thrilling groove driven by riffing from Trey. This groove gradually grows more and more dissonant, with Mike eventually departing entirely from the root-note of the jam and pushing at the song’s structure. The band crashes back into the “Stash” progression by 8:15 as the intense groove peaks in energy. This “Stash” reminded me a lot of the 12/29 “Stash” from two nights ago. Neither jam is very exploratory, but they are both tightly wound and build up a lot of excitement. It’s a fun “Stash” that caps off an impressive year for the song.

A bluegrass diversion follows “Stash” as the acoustic arrangement of “Ginseng Sullivan” returns from August. I continue to really enjoy this arrangement, and like “Guelah,” “Sullivan” provides a nice counterpoint to the intensity of the previous song. As entertaining as everything to this point has been, however, it all turns out to be a warm-up for what comes next: a big mid-set “Reba.” The “Reba” jam begins at 6:25 with unusual tremolo runs from Trey, which give this “Reba” a distinctive sound from the outset. This segment lasts until 7:40, when a more traditional “Reba” jam begins. It doesn’t take long for energy to build, however, and the band has a full head of steam by 9:00. They never really stop building steam; Trey drives the band through a series of progressively more intense and blissful peaks. He shreds his way through a flurry of trills at 11:00 that launch the band into a final, euphoric peak. Fishman signals the end of the jam at 11:25, and the crowd simply erupts with approval as the band falls silent.

“Peaches en Regalia” makes its third appearance during this four show run after “Reba,” perfectly placed here to carry the momentum of the set. The band eases off the gas ever so slightly next with the comedic diversion of “I Didn’t Know,” but head straight back to the races for the set-closing “Run Like an Antelope.” The “Antelope” jam begins at 2:50 with typical, driving riffing from Trey. While Trey is still locked into this driving groove, the mood begins to shift at 4:00 as Mike and Page begin to drift into melodic, almost major-key territory. Fishman develops a nice pocket for himself, and there’s a few very cool seconds here as the band members all seem to be doing their own thing while still remaining in lockstep. Instead of breaking for bliss, the the sound grows more intense and develops into a ball of energy by 5:30. Trey shreds his way to a satisfying and exciting peak at 5:50, which the band rides for a while before breaking down in the song’s reggae segment at 6:30.

Tom Marshall is brought up at this point to sing the “first lines he ever wrote for a Phish song.” What a trip it must have been for Tom to sing these lines he wrote in high school for a roaring crowd at the Centrum! While only an hour long, this first set is a non-stop, relentless high-energy set filled with big moments. Trey really deserves a spotlight here; after warming up with some great riffing in “Stash,” he absolutely shreds his way through huge peaks in both “Reba” and “Antelope,” delivering standout versions of the respective songs. This is an excellent first set that feels to me like the band picking up right exactly where they left off at the end of last night’s fantastic show.


Set 2 opens with “Tweezer,” a song which has been strangely absent from setlists since mid-August (LTP: 8/15/93). The jam begins at 4:55 with an initial space in which Page and Trey trade ideas. Trey gradually settles into a somewhat funky groove by 5:50, and begins to repeat a catchy, melodic riff that will drive the jam for the next couple minutes. This segment has a “let’s party”-vibe to it (appropriate, given the date) and is quite entertaining. Some dissonance begins to creep in at 7:50, but the jam resolves in satisfying fashion by 8:45. The energy continues to build until the band reaches an exciting peak at 9:50. Trey’s playing here again deserves a mention; he graces the peak with some unusually melodic lines before melting faces with outright shredding. Trey’s soloing brings this one home, with the composed ending beginning at 11:20. This “Tweezer” is greater than the sum of its parts. It maintains a fluid progression throughout, builds steadily, has a great pay-off, and is an awesome start to the second set.

“Halley’s Comet” emerges from the end of “Tweezer,” which in turn gives way to a snappy and precisely delivered “Poor Heart.” Without stopping, the band next starts up “It’s Ice.” The ‘underwater’ segment of “Ice” continues to be explored tonight, with the band busting it open to a couple minutes in length. The segment starts at 5:00, and Trey quickly leads the band through a lengthy “Peaches en Regalia” reprise. There are some delightful runs from Page at 6:00 as Trey recedes from the “Peaches” melodies. This leads into a Random Note signal and more “Peaches” shenannigans, before the band finally returns to the “Ice” composition at 7:00. It’s a neat segment that the band manages to smoothly fit within the song. “Fee” follows “Ice,” and features virtually no outro jam. It dissipates almost immediately into a long, late-set “Possum.”

The band breaks down the “Possum” groove at the beginning of Trey’s solo, which leads into a very cool segment of interplay between all four band members that is based around a staccato Trey riff. The band transitions back into the standard “Possum” groove and is gradually building energy by 4:45. It sounds like Trey is about to bring the song to a peak at 8:30, but the band instead breaks down the jam again to go through a final, ridiculous build. The band finally reaches the very satisfying peak at 10:00. Trey has been having a ridiculously good evening, and this extended “Possum” benefits mightily from that fact. After “Possum,” “Lawn Boy” provides an opportunity for both the band and audience to take a breath before the set-closing “You Enjoy Myself.”

The ‘bliss’ segment at the beginning of “YEM” is a decent length tonight (roughly 1:30-3:30), and while it starts pleasant enough, it actually descends into a dark and ominous atmosphere due to Page’s ascending drones. Page’s solo begins at 9:00 with interplay between him and Trey, who’s locked into a staccato riff reminiscent of his playing in “Possum.” Trey drops out quickly, however, leaving Page the spotlight. Perhaps tired of playing second fiddle tonight, Page steps up here to deliver an awesome (though relatively brief) solo. Trey comes back in at 10:30 with some cool funk. After a brief passage of full-band funk, Trey takes over with a jazzy solo. Trey puts on an absolute clinic of solo construction here, as he darts and zigs and zags his way up and down and across his fretboard. He’s playing “a lot of notes,” as Mike might put it, but each one feels thoughtfully chosen and placed with purpose. It’s as if in each jam tonight Trey is pushing himself to one-up his last solo, and it’s kind of stunning. His solo builds into a great peak by 14;00, and after some final, thrilling theatrics, the bass and drums segment begins at 14:45. Mike’s solo is nice and chunky tonight, and gives way to the vocal jam at 15:40. As the vocal jam slows to as stop, Trey tells the audience the band is going to “go on a little excursion here…in 15 minutes we’ll be back…

I suppose one could knock this set by saying it doesn’t have a jam quite as cathartic as “Reba” in the first set, but that’s about the only criticism you could make. This is a tightly scripted set (the band doesn’t pause until 45 minutes in) with a lot of big moments. “Tweezer” starts off the set with some quality jamming and an energetic groove, “Ice” gets extended with a cool ‘underwater’ segment, “Possum” features a great Trey workout, and “YEM” ends the set on a huge high-note. The band generally aims in this set for a party-vibe rather than deep exploration, but they succeed wildly in creating such an atmosphere. And with that, we’re on to the final set of the year!



“…Five…four…three…two…one…Happy New Year!” The recording of this show begins with the countdown to midnight, at which point the band takes the stage for the annual performance of “Auld Lang Syne.” After a couple triumphant refrains of this traditional tune, the band segues into…the debut of “Down with Disease?” Not quite: the next track is an instrumental jam based around the main progression of “Disease.” Trey departs from the “Disease” theme at 1:00 and launches straight into more high-octane soloing. He reaches a soaring peak and then transitions smoothly into an “Auld Lang Syne” tease at 2:00. After a little more soloing he returns to the “Disease” theme at 3:10, which winds down and drops into “Split Open and Melt.” While short, this “Disease” jam is a joyous and exciting way to start the new year.

This “Split Open and Melt,” as well as the previous “Auld Lang Syne > Disease,” have been officially released on Live Bait Vol. 3. The “Split” jam begins at 4:20 with repetitive, vaguely dark riffing from Trey. This leads the band to fully lock into an intense groove by 5:15. As opposed to the furious shredding that has characterized Trey’s playing in most of this show’s jams, he here instead sticks to only minimal variations to the riff he has developed. The rest of the band gradually ratchets up the intensity, with Fish and Mike in particular impressing with their fills. A tension and release build, stretched to ridiculous proportions, leads the jam into a raging peak from 8:15-9:00. Trey goes absolutely wild here with tremelo picking and shredding, finally breaking from his minimalism at the beginning of the jam. This leads the band to crash into the song’s ending at 9:45. This is a dark and intense “Split” that is a great counterpoint to the bliss of the previous “Disease” jam.

“The Lizards” brings everyone back down to earth following a non-stop and exciting beginning to this third set. As should be expected at this point, the band plays the song near-flawlessly. “Sparkle” bridges “Lizards” and an extra-silly “Suzy Greenberg” that features “Smoke on the Water” and more “Peaches en Regalia” teases, as well as an extended Page solo. Fishman steps up to the microphone after “Suzy” for the night’s Henrietta segment featuring “Cracklin’ Rosie.” The band isn’t finished after the Henrietta segment, however, for they have one more heavy-hitter up their sleeve: “Harry Hood.”

The “Hood” jam begins at 5:45. Trey quickly, and tastefully, brings the band through a quiet “Auld Lang Syne” tease. Trey then falls back into mellow, arpeggiated playing at 6:55. The rest of the band slowly starts to add some urgency into the jam at 7:55, which pushes Trey into “Hood”-esque melodies. This slowly and patiently swells into a blissful, euphoric groove. The energy reaches a peak at 11:00, pushing Trey to finally depart from the arpeggiated style into full-on soloing. He unleashes a hose of trills and shredding to push this “Hood” to absurd peaks and transition into the song’s ending at 12:55. This “Hood” matches, and perhaps exceeds, the cathartic “Reba” of the first set, and is yet another big moment from this show. The set ends with just about the only song that could follow that “Hood”: the leave-it-all-on-the-stage, hard-rock of “Tweezer Reprise.” Trey acknowledges before beginning the encore that this is “10 years for us” and asks the audience to join them for “ten more.” “Golgi Apparatus” and a poignant “Amazing Grace” comprise the double encore that sends the crowd off into a new year.

Phish is hungry during this show. It’s simply impossible not to sense. The sets are perfectly scripted, the band digs in to just about every jam to bring them to soaring heights, and Trey simply shreds from beginning to end, putting on a master class of rock solo musicianship. The result is a perfect synthesis of 1993 Phish distilled into three, near-flawless sets. This show has long been part of the Phish pantheon of classic performances, and upon re-listen, is deservingly so. The band ends a transformative year with a bang.

It has been a joy discovering 1993 Phish over the last year and documenting that journey here. I plan to do the same over the next year with 1994. Phish takes several months off from touring after this show, with the spring 1994 tour not beginning until early April. During this time off the studio follow-up to RiftHoist, will be released in March. I’ll be taking some time off from blog posts, but you can expect a couple of posts reflecting on 1993 as a whole during this time between shows. The first of these posts, a ranking of my favorite shows of 1993, will be posted on January 25th. Until then, may 2018 be kind to you and yours!

  • Show rating: 5/5
  • Highlights: “Stash,” “Reba,” “Run Like an Antelope,” “Tweezer,” “It’s Ice,” “Possum,” “You Enjoy Myself,” “Auld Lang Syne > Down with Disease Jam > Split Open and Melt,” “Harry Hood

Show stats:

  • setlist
  • First set length: 54 mins.
  • Second set length: 72 mins.
  • Third set length: 58 mins.
  • Encore length: 8 mins.
  • This is the first time Phish performed at the Worcester Centrum Centre. They will return on 12/28/95.
  • The longest gap in this night’s setlist is “Auld Lang Syne,” returning after a one hundred and ten show absence (12/31/92).
  • The best represented studio album is A Picture of Nectar (6 songs).
Posted in 1993, NYE 1993, Review | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

December 30th, 1993: Cumberland County Civic Center, Portland ME

Ahh….December 30th. Outside of Halloween and New Year’s Eve proper, 12/30 is one of the more hallowed days of the year in Phish lore. If a NYE show is all about celebrating the year that is ending and partying until the clock hits midnight, 12/30 often represents the opposite end of the Phish spectrum: an opportunity to dig into deep, dark, psychedelic territory, and leave it all on the stage one last time. Tonight is Phish’s first stop at the CCCC outside of an earlier, 1992 H.O.R.D.E. stop at this venue. They will continue to visit this venue all the way through the modern era (as recently as 2016).

Phish indicates they mean business right from the start of this show, as they open with the first show-opening “David Bowie” since very early in the year (last “Bowie” opener: 2/13 in Delaware). The intro and composition are standard, and the jam begins at 5:30. The jam begins with a subdued, mysterious sound, which quickly and smoothly gives way to a full on “Dream On” (Aerosmith) jam. The band returns to the “Bowie” groove at 6:00, though the feel of the jam remains quiet and subdued. Some pleasant noodling over this “Bowie” groove continues for the next couple minutes, before the band begins to build steam and energy at 8:00. They start cycling towards the song’s peak, working their way through some delightfully gnarly and dissonant passages along the way. The band crashes into the song’s composed ending at 11:00, though don’t end the song before throwing in another fun “Dream On ” tease. I wouldn’t say this is a particularly unique or special “Bowie” (outside the “Dream On” shenanigans), but it’s very entertaining and a treat to begin the show with.


The quirky “Weigh” brings everyone back down to earth after “Bowie,” and is followed by another treat in the way of “The Curtain” (I guess we won’t be seeing “With” this year after all). “Sample in a Jar” rounds out the opening salvo of songs, and is the second song to be repeated on this run. I don’t know how many dozens (hundreds?) of times I’ve heard “Sample,” but I still find it to be a fun, snappy head-bopper that I will rarely complain about hearing. Of all of Phish’s bluegrass songs, “Paul and Silas” strikes me as the one that is the most auspicious sign of what’s to come. It’s nice to hear this one mid-set, and it carries the momentum of the set well. My theory of “Paul and Silas” being a good omen proves true tonight, for it’s followed by the first narration of the run with a “Colonel Forbin’s Ascent > Fly Famous Mockingbird!”

The narration begins with Trey describing the venue the band is now playing in, teaching the audience about the hockey rink beneath their feet and the cold pipes below that. These pipes are vibrating, and the audience should begin to feel the vibrations as well. These vibrations increase in frequency, and eventually the floor disappears, leaving the audience swept up by waves that carry them out to sea. A huge wave, the biggest yet, comes up and capsizes the audience, drowning them beneath the surface. Suddenly there’s no more water, “just blackness.” The audience floats through this blackness and eventually arrives at…Gamehendge, setting in motion the standard closing to the narration. I always like when a “Forbin’s > Mockingbird” narration ties into the venue the band is playing at in some specific way, and Trey definitely accomplishes that tonight. A very entertaining narration that blesses the middle of the set with a hefty dollop of Phishiness.

There’s a weird flub at 0:50 of “Fly Famous Mockingbird” that actually forces the band to stop and start again, though they manage to cover for the mistake pretty well, and it’s only a very, very minor distraction from an otherwise excellent sequence. “Rift” makes a late-set appearance next, and is very tightly played. “Rift” gives way to another, awesome treat: the first “Bathtub Gin” since the breakout Murat Theatre performance! The “Gin” jam begins at 4:45, and the band commits pretty quickly to taking the song for a ride. The feel during the beginning of the jam is still much, much looser than in the modern incarnation of the song.

This initial jam begins to break up at 6:50, but soon reforms around a quicker, more straightforward groove, centered around a galloping riff from Trey. Page contributes some great leads between about 7:20 and 7:40 as Trey builds steam underneath. Trey drives the song towards a peak at 8:30, at which point the band snaps right back to the “Gin” theme. It sounds like the band is ending the song, but the song soon breaks down again shortly after 9:00. A quiet, hazy groove develops around a spacey Trey riff. This dissipates into feedback and then finally silence at 10:10; an unusual ending for a jam at this time. While not quiet as monumental or euphoric as the Murat “Gin,” this is another high-quality and thrilling “Gin” that goes places and is very good in its own right. The band wisely decides not to try and top “Gin,” and instead ends the set on a tongue-in-cheek note with a reprise of the a-cappella “Free Bird” rendition they debuted over the summer.

Wow! This might be my favorite set of the run so far; first set or second. There’s nary a dull moment to be found here. We get treated to a solid and meaty “Bowie” opener, a fun, psychedelic narration in “Forbin’s > Mockingbird,” and a terrific “Bathtub Gin” to bring it all to a close. Phish has been playing well all run, but I think they managed to tap back into that mid-August magic for this set. Hopefully this energy and excitement will carry over into set 2.



Speaking of August ’93 Phish, “2001” reprises the set 2 opening slot it absolutely owned during the summer tour. The band is still playing the same, less-than-four-minute arrangement they played all summer, but I did particularly enjoy the intro to this “2001.” Fishman begins the song solo for a little bit, just playing the beat, and Page slowly joins in with some fun runs on the keys. Once the full band come in it’s the standard “2001” arrangement, but at this point in the song’s history even these minor variations are interesting. The band drops right into “Mike’s Song” out of “2001.”

The “Mike’s” jam begins at 2:40, and the first jam follows its typical, Trey-led course. Trey sounds particularly patient during this segment tonight, however, and it builds to a more substantial peak than usual. The first set of ending chords kick in at 5:20, and the second jam begins soon after at 5:40. What follows is not only perhaps the best “Mike’s” song of the year, but a strong contender for best jam of the year, period. There’s not much more I love than a deep, adventurous “Mike’s Song,” and tonight’s performance delivers the goods.

Trey begins the second “Mike’s” jam in the typical manner by droning on the “Simple” chord, but he quickly moves into euphoric and melodic soloing. The rest of the band effortlessly follows suit, and a full on type-II jam is underway by 6:15. This becomes a full on bliss jam by 7:00, and joyously peaks soon after. Trey goes full-on ‘hose’ and unleashes a barrage of trills at 8:30. What follows is a cathartic, mind-blowing peak. The jam begins to air out at  9:30 as Trey begins to recede. Mike steps up and takes control of the jam. He continues the pleasant vibe for a short while, but proceeds to lead the band through a key change by landing on a minor-key root. The rest of the band very smoothly and patiently follows Mike into darker territory. Trey starts to hammer on some power chords, and the energy of the jam builds. After some energetic and ominous jamming, fitting for the vibe of “Mikes’s Song,” the jam begins to dissipate again at 12:45. A sequence somewhat reminiscent of the “Dream On” jam in “Bowie” flows smoothly into the beginning of “The Horse.”

If you need evidence of the evolution Phish has gone through over the last year, you need do no more than compare the second jam from a February “Mike’s Song” to tonight’s performance. At the beginning of the year the second “Mike’s” jam was often a short, dissonant, and disjointed sounding dip into experimentation. Tonight’s jam is full on-the-spot composing that smoothly works through both a euphoric, blissful peak and a dark, moody, ominous coda. This is a powerhouse “Mike’s” that instantly raises the bar for the rest of the run.


“The Horse > Silent in the Morning” is a welcome breather after the intensity of “Mike’s,” and leads into a well-played “Punch You in the Eye.” The band has not stopped playing the entire set, and every song at this point just seems to organically flow from the last. “Punch” works great in this slot, bringing the energy back up after “Silent” and returning to the somewhat ominous vibes that characterized the end of “Mike’s.” “Punch” dissipates into the rare and always-welcome “McGrupp and the Watchful Horsemasters” (again without a pause in the music). “McGrupp” is performed flawlessly, and gives Page a chance to take the spotlight. This is only the fifth “McGrupp” of the year, making the performance quite a treat.

Fishman quietly begins the “Weekapaug Groove” beat as Page finishes “McGrupp,” leading the band to smoothly slide right into the ending of tonight’s super-extended Mike’s Groove. The “Weekapaug” jam begins at 1:30, and Trey takes the lead with upbeat, energetic soloing. He’s really off to the races by 3:20, driving the band to another euphoric peak. Trey goes into complete ‘machine-gun’ mode and simply rips until 5:00. The band here transitions back into the “Weekapaug” chords as if heading back into the verse, but the band instead breaks the jam down instead of beginning the lyrics. A vocal jam emerges over this groove at 6:20, which the band uses to slowly wind down this high-octane “Weekapaug” and transition into “Purple Rain.” This “Weekapaug” reminds me a bit of the 8/2 performance in that it ends an extended Mike’s Groove on a high note, though I would say this one drives to a longer and more intense peak.

After a run through of the requisite “Hold Your Head Up” theme, the band takes their first rest from playing this entire set. The band then starts the final song of the set in response to a chant from the crowd: the second “Slave to the Traffic Light” since its big bust-out on 8/6. The jam begins at 4:00 with Page playing by himself over a low, monotone drone from Mike. Trey gradually joins in. Mike is still droning at 5:00, and Fishman is only very lightly playing the cymbals. The band proceeds to build the jam extremely patiently. Eventually the song erupts into yet another blissful high, not fully peaking until 8:00. After a final round of trill-hose from Trey, the song comes to a triumphant end at 9:20. This is perhaps the finest ’93-vintage “Slave,” providing this monumental set a roaring finale.

An encore is merely an afterthought after a show like this, but the band nevertheless delivers some more fireworks with a fiery pairing of “Rocky Top > Good Times Bad Times” to warm up the crowd before sending them to the sub-zero temperatures outside. The songs don’t stray from their normal course, but Trey is clearly on another level at this point, and delivers plenty of thrills during his “GTBT” solo.

I can’t believe I never listened to this show before. It’s easy to focus solely on the “Mike’s Song,” which is incredibly satisfying to listen to and one of the deepest, most fully-formed type-II jams of the year. But the entire second set is a tour de force, flowing without pause essentially beginning to end through a perfectly-paced setlist that delivers more euphoric highs by way of “Weekapaug” and “Slave.” And hell, that’s not even mentioning the entire first set, which is generally excellent from beginning to end as well. If you’re a Phish fan that like me never listened to this show, you need to move this show to the top of your mental list of shows to listen to. It’s that good.

  • Show rating: 5/5
  • Highlights: “David Bowie,” “Colonel Forbin’s Ascent > Fly Famous Mockingbird,” “Bathtub Gin,” “Mike’s Song,” “Weekapaug Groove,” “Slave to the Traffic Light

Show stats:

  • setlist
  • First set length: 73 mins.
  • Second set length: 63 mins.
  • Encore length: 9 mins.
  • This is the second time Phish performed at the Cumberland County Civic Center. They last played here on 7/9/92, and will return on 12/11/95.
  • The longest gap in this night’s setlist is “The Curtain,” returning after a nineteen show absence (8/6/93).
  • The best represented studio album is Rift (4 songs).
Posted in 1993, NYE 1993, Review | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

December 29th, 1993: New Haven Veterans Memorial Coliseum, New Haven CT

The 1993 New Year’s Eve run continues tonight with the second Connecticut show of 1993 (the first being 4/30 in West Hartford). The first set begins with a largely-standard “Runaway Jim.” Trey delivers some excellent fretwork at the end of his solo segment, but some sound level issues (corrected by the end of the song) keep this moment from reaching its full potential on the recording. “Jim” is still a high-energy and enjoyable opener, however. “Peaches en Regalia” makes an encore performance next after its big bust-out the night before in Washington D.C. It’s possible the band brought back the song to recognize the recently-deceased Frank Zappa, who was a huge influence on the band. A well-played but standard “Foam” rounds the opening trio of songs.

The composition-heavy vibe of the middle of this set continues with the always-quirky “Glide” and the following “Divided Sky.” “Glide” works well as a prelude to “Sky,” with the first song flowing smoothly into the next, and features a Simpsons signal during the song’s extended pause. “Sky” features no extended crowd pause tonight (a primitive form of the crowd pause started to emerge during some summer shows), and the band briefly loses sync with each other at 7:10. They recover quickly from this flub, however, and the rest of the song is a great listen. Trey’s solo at the end of the song lasts several minutes and is full of energy, culminating in a flurry of trills at 11:50; he manages to drive the song to an exciting peak in the clear highlight of the night to this point.


New Haven, CT

“Wilson” follows “Sky,” and the band adds some extra hijinks to tonight’s performance. A brief but unexpectedly dark and intense jam begins at 3:15 of “Wilson” that is very cool while it lasts. Trey also uses a “Purple Haze” tease to bridge the dissipating ending of “Wilson” into the beginning of the following “Sparkle.” “Stash” is the penultimate song of the set, and the first real opportunity this evening for open improvisation. Despite the relatively short length to tonight’s performance, this “Stash” delivers the goods.

The “Stash” jam begins at 4:50 with a dark, repeating Trey riff. The band locks into an intense groove and develops it continuously until 7:00, at which point Trey breaks from the groove and leads the band through a brief peak. Just as quickly as the peak came, the band then snaps back into the same, intense groove, before breaking into an even bigger peak at 7:45. Mike drops some impressive booms at 8:30 as the band builds towards a very intense and satisfying end to the jam. Instead of transitioning from here into the composed ending, the band instead lets the jam dissipate at 9:30 for a brief sequence described by as “a jam akin to the sound of a television newscast.” After this strange and psychedelic diversion the band moves into the song’s ending at 9:45.

“The Squirming Coil” ends this first set on a contemplative note, with Page delivering a solo that strays further from its typical course than most “Coils” and enters into some delightfully serene territory. The beginning to this first set felt very standard for a ’93 Phish show, but the band turns it up a notch starting with Trey’s impressive solo at the end of the “Sky.” The back half of the set is a noticeable step-up over the first-half and culminates in a short but fiery “Stash” jam.

“We’re going to take a short break, don’t go away!”

“Maze” opens set 2 in a high-energy fashion, much as “Runaway Jim” did in the first. Besides for a segment during Page’s solo that is suspiciously similar to the “Mission: Impossible” theme, this is a standard but enjoyable “Maze.” Early second-set is a somewhat unusual slot for “Bouncing Around the Room,” but the song works well here tonight as a potential nod to the underwater-themed stage dressing of this run of shows (“The place I sought was far beneath, the surface of the sea”). “Fluffhead” is next as song three. The song is performed very well, but Trey’s solo at the end of the song didn’t wow me quite as much as the one from “Divided Sky.”



One of the clear MVPs of summer tour, “Run Like an Antelope,” follows “Fluffhead.” When the song migrated to the second set during the summer it usually meant that the band meant business, and that remains the case tonight. The “Antelope” jam begins at 2:50 with driving, almost angry riffing from Trey. This growl builds into a frantic, high-energy groove by 4:45. The band cleverly fakes-out as if to disintegrate the jam into anarchic free-jazz madness at 5:35 but quickly snap back to the frantic groove. Things get increasingly wild from there, as Trey gets downright demonic with his playing. The band begins to break down this madness at 6:35, and while the volume and crunch is lowered, the quick tempo remains. Washes of descending chords take over, before Trey embarks on some serious shredding to bring the band back to the “Antelope” progression at 8:55. The reggae segment of the song begins at 9:35.

This is a high-energy and intense “Antelope” (even by the standards of this song) that twists its way through a very cool, jazzy digression in the middle of its madness. Tonight’s “Antelope” holds a candle to any of the excellent summer ’93 performances; it’s nice to see this song taken for at least one more wild ride this year. A standard “Contact” bridges “Antelope” and some further madness in the way of “Big Black Furry Creature from Mars > Walk Away.” After one of the pauses and “1, 2, 3, 4!” calls in “BBFCFM” a weird, dark jam of sorts develops instead of the standard crashing back into the song. This jam goes for about a minute before Trey very slyly guides the band through a buttery-smooth segue into the always-fun “Walk Away.” It’s a short but very entertaining sequence that keeps the energy of the show high and carries the momentum from “Antelope.”


“Big Ball Jam” follows “Walk Away” and leads into the night’s Henrietta segment. Fishman asks the audience if they approve of his new haircut before serenading everyone to a stirring rendition of “If I Only Had a Brain.” The band keeps the freewheeling nature of the back half of this set alive with a quick, a-cappella rendition of “Sweet Adeline” before the set-closing “Chalk Dust Torture,” which ends the set just as it begun: on a high-energy note. A standard performance of “Nellie Kane > Cavern” comprises the show’s double encore.

This is one of those shows that straddles the line between a 3 and 4. The highs are high indeed, with “Antelope” bringing down the house mid-second set followed by some silly,  energetic fun (“BBFCM > Walk Away”). However, both sets take a few songs to really build steam, and outside of the big moments the playing is largely standard. The “Antelope” and “Stash” are worth seeking out, and you won’t have a bad time at all listening to this show, but the unevenness keeps this one from being a truly great top-to-bottom listen (in my humble opinion).

  • Show rating: 3/5
  • Highlights: Divided Sky,” “Stash,” “Run Like an Antelope,” “Big Black Furry Creature from Mars > Walk Away

Show stats:

  • setlist
  • First set length: 70 mins.
  • Second set length: 73 mins.
  • Encore length: 8 mins.
  • This is the first time Phish performed at the New Haven Veterans Memorial Coliseum. They will return on 12/2/95.
  • The longest gap in this night’s setlist is “Big Black Furry Creature from Mars,” returning after a sixteen show absence (8/8/93).
  • The best represented studio album is Junta and A Picture of Nectar (4 songs).
Posted in 1993, NYE 1993, Review | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

December 28th, 1993: Bender Arena, Washington DC

Welcome back! Tonight’s show marks the 107th Phish show of 1993, and the second to be performed in Washington, D.C. This is the band’s first and only performance at American University’s Bender Arena (a venue located a mere mile or so from my current home). According to, the show was preceded by a lengthy soundcheck. The recording I’m listening to doesn’t include that check, however, so without further ado let’s dive right into the show!

The ’93 New Year’s Eve run begins with a huge bust-out, the first “Peaches en Regalia” since 1989. This bust-out has clearly been rehearsed, for the song sounds perfectly played. From the sound of this opener, the band is already firing on all cylinders. “Peaches” lands smoothly into a similarly-precise and furiously-paced “Poor Heart.” The pace of the set does not let up from there, with the band slamming right into an early “Split Open and Melt,” which provides this run’s first opportunity for significant improvisation.

The “Melt” jam begins at 4:20 with melodic lines from Trey that hint at the “Peaches en Regalia” theme. Page and Fish quickly lock into an unusually straightforward and rocking rhythm, which propels the next segment of the jam. Trey starts up some swaggering, catchy riffs as Fishman goes to town with fills. The jam grows increasingly intense, and the crowd goes absolutely wild as the band drives towards a straightforward but very satisfying peak. Trey takes a turn at 6:40 and leads the band by way of a brief detour through a darker passage. A series of increasingly wild builds ends the jam on an energetic note, before the band finally coalesces around the “Melt” outro at 9:10. While not as long or exploratory as some of the August ’93 “Melts,” this jam is nevertheless about as fun and exciting as a type-I “Melt” can be, and an easy performance to recommend. The band sounds excited to be back on stage, which can only signify good things to come over the next several days.


Trey and Mike, 12/28/93

The band follows “Melt” with an immaculately performed “Esther,” which works great here in the setlist as a quieter, contemplative counterpart to the excitement of “Melt.” “The Oh Kee Pa Ceremony” is next, and serves its usual role as a pleasant intro to “Suzy Greenberg.” “Suzy” is also its usual, high-energy self, though it does feature a fun wink from Trey at 3:00 with an obvious “Tweezer Reprise” tease. “Suzy” dissipates into “Ya Mar,” a song I more typically associate with outdoor summer shows, not the cold winter. Despite that incongruity, this “Ya Mar” stands out. Page’s solo is long, mellow, and pleasant. Trey adds some great comping with pretty arpeggios underneath, and Page lets his solo dissipate into spacey keyboard drones. Trey’s solo follows Page’s approach is and is very sparse, as he breaks down the song to near silence for at least a minute. This builds back up into a “Auld Lang Syne” tease before coming to an end.

“It’s Ice” kicks off the homestretch of the set. The ‘underwater’ segment of the song gets broken out into a short, full-band jam highlighted by sly melodies from Page on his baby grand. “Fee” follows “Ice,” and is standard aside from a (very) brief outro at the end. Page and Trey settle into some pleasant interplay, before the outro quickly dissipates into the “Possum” intro. The portion of this set running from “Ya Mar” through “Fee” has been good but relatively mellow, so the explosion of energy that marks the beginning of the “Possum” verse is a welcome change of pace. Continuing the dynamic trend of the set, the band breaks down the “Possum” groove at the beginning of Trey’s solo at 3:30, leaving only the skeletal structure of the song in the background. Trey leads the band through a sedate but lovely solo segment. The band finally starts to build the energy at 5:40, and does so quickly. Trey leads the band through a full-on “Kashmir” tease at 6:20 before falling back into a typical “Possum” groove at 6:50. Similar to “Melt,” the band then builds from there into a straightforward but rocking and very satisfying peak. The solo segment does not come to an end until 10:30, at which point the final verse begins.

This is a very good first set that sets the bar high for the remainder of the run at the outset. The band positively explodes with energy at the beginning of the set, ripping through two high-energy openers before delivering the first standout improvisational moment of the run with an energetic “Split Open and Melt.” A through-composed middle of the set is well-placed and precisely delivered, “Ya Mar” features cool, spaced-out solos, and “Possum” brings the heat to end the set on a high note. This all adds up to a great first set at American University.


Bender Arena

A 1993 debut, “Sample in a Jar,” fittingly starts off the first second set of the run. The straightforward rocking of this song makes for a good set-opener, and it’s performed well tonight. To my ears it sounds like the band is playing the song at a slightly slower pace than they did during the summer (perhaps a result of working on the song in the studio). “Sample” is followed by an early “You Enjoy Myself.” The “YEM” composition is performed in standard fashion, but nevertheless sounds very good on the recording. Page’s solo begins at 9:20. His segment is short but energetic; Page throws down some great melodic runs while Fishman provides powerful fills underneath. Page’s solo comes to a peak at 11:00, at which point the jam breaks back down and Trey takes over.

Trey begins his segment with some standard soloing, but he quickly lands on a swaggering riff by 11:50. The band coalesces around this groove, and begins to build. The mood here is fun and rocking, and the jam comes to a peak with excellent trilling from Trey at 13:40. Like “Melt” in the first set, this solo represents Trey’s standard approach/progression towards “YEM,” but he’s playing with such such energy and excitement tonight that the segment becomes a legitimate highlight of the show regardless. After riding this very satisfying peak for a while, Trey cuts out to start the bass and drums segment at 14:20. A standard vocal jam brings “YEM” to a close. This is a (relatively) short “YEM” that follows the song’s typical path, but it’s very entertaining one nonetheless.

“My Friend, My Friend > The Lizards” is next, kicking off a middle portion of this second set that is focused on through-composed compositions. Like virtually everything else so far tonight, both songs are precisely delivered and a joy to listen to. “The Sloth” makes a somewhat unusual, mid-second set appearance to provide a quick jolt of energy before the band slows down for a contemplative “Fast Enough for You.” “Fast Enough” consistently impressed me over the summer, as Trey had seemed to master building the song from its quiet, serene beginning into a fiery peak. That trend continues tonight as “FEFY” shines again, bringing the set to a cathartic peak as we head into the homestretch of the show.

“Uncle Pen” serves as a pleasant bluegrass interlude between “FEFY” and the last big moment of the show, “Harry Hood.” The “Hood” jam begins at 6:05 with mellow, serene melodies from Trey and Page. This grows quieter, and the jam reaches near-silence by 7:25. Trey starts to bring the energy back up at 7:50 as he re-focuses on the main “Hood” theme. The rest of the band quickly starts to build behind him, and the band drives straight towards the song’s peak shortly after 9:00. The band wraps up this “Hood” a couple of blissful minutes later. This “Hood” does not quite reach the same level of transcendence that the best ’93 “Hoods” have achieved, but it’s still a very good “Hood” that serves as an excellent cap to the set.

The band plows right from the feel-good afterglow of “Hood” into the ridiculous heavy-metal of “Highway to Hell,” which brings a party vibe to the end of set. The lone encore, “Golgi Apparatus,” picks up where “Highway to Hell” left off, warming up the audience with one more taste of  high-octane rock and roll before sending them off into the cold. Except for a couple of well-placed breathers, this whole show is bursting with energy and expertly scripted. None of the jams get too ‘out-there,’ but the band makes up for that with a party vibe and precision playing that pushes several songs to furious peaks (the most successful example being the immensely successful “Split Open and Melt”). The band is clearly well-rehearsed and ready to go at the beginning of this run, which can only bode well for what’s to come. The band will travel several hundred miles overnight after this show to make it to New Haven, Connecticut in time for tomorrow’s performance.

  • Show rating: 4/5
  • Highlights: “Split Open and Melt,” “Ya Mar,” “Possum,” “You Enjoy Myself,” “Fast Enough for You,” “Harry Hood”

Show stats:

  • setlist
  • First set length: 68 mins.
  • Second set length: 73 mins.
  • Encore length: 5 mins.
  • This is the first and last time Phish performed at Bender Arena.
  • The longest gap in this night’s setlist is “Peaches en Regalia,” returning after a 559 show absence (6/23/89).
  • The best represented studio album is Junta (4 songs).
Posted in 1993, NYE 1993, Review | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment