For those of you keeping count, this is Phish’s sixth straight show in a row without a night of rest. Tonight is also the last night that the “February soundcheck” pack I downloaded has a soundcheck for. The band is continuing their journey south, with tonight marking the beginning of a mini-Florida residency that will last until the end of the month (4 more shows). The soundcheck begins with a “Guy Forget” jam that is entertaining due to how rare it is to hear in a show. Mike takes a solo completely by himself for about a minute before the band enters into a rather lengthy (~7 min.) jam around the “Guy Forget” theme. There’s a lot of silly vocal play around the song’s titular lyrics and the jam never strays far from the song’s theme. Despite not being a very adventurous jam it’s fun to hear. Besides for that we hear the band working on the harmonies to “Nellie Kane” and practicing “Sample in a Jar.” It doesn’t sound like they have either song completely worked out yet, and we won’t hear either of them later in the night.
The show kicks off proper with “Rift” but unfortunately tonight’s tape cuts in at the end of the song, so it’s hard to say how it sounded (I miss the official recordings all ready!). “Guelah” follows and about a minute and a half in Trey leads the band into a lengthy interlude so that he can explain Secret Language signals to the crowd. The Homer Simpson and Random Note signals are explained. The rest of “Guelah” sounds good. The same can’t be said of the intro to “Poor Heart” which is a bit off and has Mike dropping out for a second to figure things out. “Poor Heart” drops into “Maze.” Page’s solo is ripping from 4:20 through 5:50, when Trey begins his. Trey’s solo sounds good too but it’s not quite as memorable or intense as Page’s. It’s still a good and exciting “Maze” though.
“Fee” provides a breather and lands in “Sparkle,” which has a totally botched ending. They launch into “Foam” after “Sparkle,” which is a bit concerning since they have had trouble nailing their compositions. Thankfully they pull it off well, as well as the following “Cavern.” Fishman takes a trombone solo in “I Didn’t Know,” which leads to the set-closing “Bowie.” The intro is kept reasonably short tonight but the jam is solid and a fitting end to the set. I particularly liked the last breakdown at the end of the song tonight before the final set of trills. I have moved quickly through my recap of this set because not much stood out to me. For the most part it was well-played, except for a couple of major flubs, but it’s a standard setlist and apart from a couple of good solos there’s not much in the way of memorable improvisation.
Set 2 opens with “Runaway Jim” and “It’s Ice” in their standard, 1-2 placement. Both sound good. The “Jim” solo isn’t as fiery or exciting as it has been at some of the recent performances but it still works up to a great close at 6:35. Following the second “Uncle Pen” in as many nights we drop into “Tweezer.” The jam begins at 4:35 with a cool dissonant breakdown that settles into a funky groove. The band builds up momentum over the next couple minutes and the jam is really cooking by 6:45. The rest of the jam is filled with great playing, lots of building of tension, and several peaks. They break the jam down into the composed ending at ~10:00. The jam as a whole has a good progression and it’s one of the better “Tweezer” jams of this tour. This song has really improved over the course of the tour; the early performances didn’t stand out much to me but this is the third “Tweezer” in a row that has really impressed me. “Glide” emerges out of the ending of “Tweezer.”
“You Enjoy Myself” fills its usual position of anchoring the middle of the set and is probably the highlight of the night. I can’t point to any particular section as standing out but as a whole, like “Tweezer,” it has a good progression and tight playing from the band. We also hear one of the best bass and drum segments of the tour tonight with nice and funky playing from Mike. The vocal jam is very lengthy tonight at about 5 minutes and works through a number of teases. “The Oh Kee Pah Ceremony” follows and is the only tour-debut in a night full of setlist regulars. “Llama” is its typically-fiery self. The Henrietta segment is amusing tonight with Fishman referring to “Hold Your Head Up” as “the hateful music,” the band bantering about Syd Barrett being one of the greats of swing music, and Trey referring to Fishman as “Mr. Penis” and “the man of a thousand nicknames,” all which are “well deserved,” at the end of the segment. “Coil” and “Reprise” close the set, while “Amazing Grace” and “Fire” fill the encore slot. “Grace” is unamplified tonight and prone to interruption from the crowd.
I decided to use a whole point scale for rating shows, instead of a half-point scale, because I honestly wouldn’t be able to differentiate between a 2/5 show and 2.5/5 show. But this show might make the strongest argument yet for having a 3.5/5 rating between “solid” and “great.” On one hand the first set is forgettable, has some moments of slop, and lacks any real significant improvisation outside a couple minutes of “Bowie.” On the other, the second set has a good flow and some legitimate highlights with “Tweezer,” which continues its hot streak, and “YEM.” I went with a 3 because those two highlights don’t make for a truly great, top-to-bottom show, but the second set is quality ’93 Phish and the “Tweezer” in particular really had me grooving. I will be back tomorrow night for one more show recap before the band finally gets a well-deserved night off.
- Show rating: 3/5
- Highlights: “Tweezer,” “You Enjoy Myself”
- Phish.net setlist
- Soundcheck length: ~25 mins.
- First set length: ~59 mins.
- Second set length: 94 mins.
- This is the first and last time Phish performed at The Moon.
- The longest gap in this night’s setlist is “The Oh Kee Pah Ceremony,” returning after a nineteen show absence (12/29/92) (soundcheck excluded).
- The best represented studio album is A Picture of Nectar (7 songs).