May 30th, 1993: Laguna Seca Raceway, Monterey CA

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Welcome back to the fields of the Laguna Seca Raceway for day 2 of Laguna Seca Daze. Phish performs another one-set show tonight to close out their appearance at the festival. Will the band play it safe again, as they did last night, or will they take a chance and get a little weird? We shall soon see. “Lengthwise” makes a rare set-opening appearance to kick off the night’s festivities. The crowd picks up Fishman’s chant, carrying the band into “Maze.” There’s a good dynamism to “Maze” tonight, as evidenced by the rest of the band backing off at the beginning of Page’s organ solo to give him some breathing room. Page’s solo is good but not exactly barnstorming either. Trey ups the energy with his solo, but mostly sticks to standard “Maze” playing. I liked the difference in energy levels between the two solos, as opposed to both Page and Trey both following a similar progression of driving hard towards a peak. Overall a decent “Maze,” and one in which I can’t pick a winner in the Page-Trey duel.

The band brings the energy level back down a couple notches with a standard “Guelah Papyrus,” which occupies its usual early in the show setlist position. A quick “Poor Heart” then leads into “Foam,” the highlight of the show so far. Like in “Maze,” the band here shows an appreciated attention towards dynamics. Page’s solo sounds excellent as a result, Trey’s solo has a jazzy inflection, and the band as a whole sounds tight. The result is a very good “Foam.” Some setlist shenanigans follow “Foam” as the band performs “Silent in the Morning” without the “Horse” accompaniment for the first time ever. “Silent” leads into a rare mid-set “Run Like an Antelope.” “Antelope” provides this set with a much needed dose of improvisation. The jam gets going at 2:50 with quick, chunky riffing from Trey that quickly gives way to soloing. Trey locks into a nice melody at 3:50 that then builds into a brief passage of machine-gun soloing a minute later. There’s more ferocious shredding from Trey at about 5:45 during the most dissonant passage of the jam. “Antelope” is almost always driven by Trey’s playing, but that principle is really driven home during tonight’s performance. After the dissonant passage Trey drives the jam hard towards a final peak, with the song breaking down for the composed end by 7:20.

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Phish, 1993

“Ya Mar” makes a welcome and slightly surprising appearance following “Antelope” (surprising due to the infrequent nature of its performances on Winter/Spring ’93 tour). The performance here is relatively standard but Page once again crushes his organ solo; he’s clearly having a good night. Next, Trey dedicates Fishman’s “I Didn’t Know” washboard solo to the people at the top of the festival’s ferris wheel. (This reminded me of his joking about the people at the top of the ferris wheel at Super Ball IX in 2011.) “Split Open and Melt” follows “I Didn’t Know” and rivals “Antelope” for the most exciting improvisation of the set. The jam starts at 4:25 and follows the progression that carried most “Melts” played during the end of April/beginning of May. The jam starts with dissonant riffing from Trey, with the rest of the band slowly starting to push at the song’s structure under Trey’s playing. Trey begins a full-on solo by 6:00 as the rest of the band begins to flirt with key changes. The band doesn’t commit to any of these potential excursions, however, and the backing band slowly stats to coalesce around the ending groove of the jam. After a brief couple minutes of intense fretwork from Trey the band brings this “Melt” home. This is a good “Melt,” but it doesn’t quite achieve lift-off like the best “Melts” from the end of Winter/Spring ’93 did.

“Contact” serves as a pleasant interlude following “Melt,” while blistering performances of “Llama” and “Golgi Apparatus” serve as high-energy set closers. “Possum” is the lone encore tonight. While a relatively concise “Possum,” Trey takes one more great solo to add an exclamation mark to the end of the set. I’m sure Phish neophytes were left in a “daze” following this performance.

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Like last night, the band largely decides to play it safe tonight and does not get too experimental for the festival crowd. That said, I think tonight’s show is noticeably stronger. Both Page and Trey have strong nights, as is evidenced by Page’s playing in “Maze,” “Foam,” and “Ya Mar,” and Trey’s playing in “Foam,” “Antelope,” and “Melt.” “Antelope” and “Melt” are the night’s only serious improvisational forays, and both jams are driven almost entirely by the strength of Trey’s playing.

…and so ends Phish’s last public performance until July! I’ll continue to dissect the massive Winter/Spring ’93 with some posts between now and July 15th, the date of the band’s next show, so stay tuned. I’ll post a schedule of the posts I have planned for June in about a week.

  • Show rating: 3/5
  • Highlights: “Foam,” “Run Like an Antelope,” “Split Open and Melt”

Show stats:

  • Phish.net setlist
  • First set length: 86 mins.
  • This is the second time Phish performed at the Laguna Seca Raceway. They will return on 5/28/94 for a second year at the Laguna Seca Daze festival.
  • The longest gap in this night’s setlist is “Lengthwise,” returning after a nine show absence (4/30/93).
  • The best represented studio album is Rift (4 songs).
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