July 17th, 1993: The Filene Center at Wolf Trap, Vienna VA

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The third night of Summer ’93 brings us to a suburb of Washington, DC. In contrast to the Winter/Spring tour, in which Phish took their time working their way from the northeast down south, the band is positively flying down the east coast, having traveled almost 400 miles south in just 2 days. Tonight’s show opens with “The Landlady,” which is played at a slower tempo than it was during the spring tour, making for a somewhat leisurely start to the show. The band turns up the energy and excitement with the subsequent “Runaway Jim.” Trey delivers an exciting solo here and the band sounds locked-in, driving the song to a hard peak. This is a good “Jim,” and when combined with “Landlady,” a fun opening to the show. A well-executed “Sample in a Jar” rounds out the opening sequence of songs.

The usually rarely-played “My Mind’s Got a Mind of Its Own” appears for the second time in three nights before “Stash” provides the first opportunity of the night for the band to really stretch out. Audience hand-claps during the composition are in full-force tonight, which only rarely (if ever occurred) during the spring tour; an interesting development for the song, from a band/audience interaction perspective. The “Stash” jam begins at 4:50 with fairly typical “Stash” soloing from Trey. While coloring within the song’s lines, Trey continues to sound excellent tonight. He locks into a hammer-on/pull-off trill riff at 6:20, which lets the rest of the band start to vary their groove. This passage doesn’t last long though, for Trey starts to solo again at 7:00 and quickly drives the song to an early peak. There’s a couple minutes of great embellishment before the band starts to wrap-up the song at 9:20. There’s not much unusual improvisational ground covered in this “Stash,” but the band has sounded so tight this evening that it still makes for a decent listen.

Moving from one heavy-hitter to the next, the band follows up “Stash” with the first “Reba” of tour. The “Reba” jam starts at 6:20 with a brief reprise of the “Stash” melody from Trey. The song bounces along at a mellow pace before coming to almost complete silence at 7:30. Trey slowly builds steam from there, and begins the peak of the jam at 9:20. After a minute of glorious soloing, the jam comes to an end at 10:30. There’s nothing unusual about the progression of this “Reba,” but the playing is rock solid, making for a good “Reba” overall. “Reba” is followed by a string of shorter, similarly well-played songs: “Chalk Dust Torture” and “The Horse > Silent in the Morning.”

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“The Oh Kee Pah Ceremony” is the biggest bust-out of the night, and while it usually lands in “Suzy Greenberg,” the band does a fake-out tonight and follows “Oh Kee Pah” with the set-closing “David Bowie” instead. The intro of this “Bowie” is kept short, and the jam starts at 4:55. The first couple minutes of this “Bowie” jam are unusual for the song. The mood is initially dark and subdued, with the jam centered around a descending Trey riff. There’s nice, melodic bass work from Mike during this section. Trey eventually joins Mike with melodic playing, and the jam threatens to break form into a full on ‘bliss’ segment. However, instead of going this route, the jam resets around a more typical “Bowie” groove around 7:00. From there the jam builds to its peak at 9:00 and transitions into the end of the song. This is not a very long “Bowie,” but the first couple minutes of the jam are the most unusual and interesting improvisation of the set.

This is a very well-played first set featuring a locked-in band and lots of great soloing in “Runaway Jim,” “Stash, ” and “Reba.” The band mostly colors within the lines of what you would expect from these songs, but the set makes for a decent listen all the same. The highlight to my ears is the set-closing “Bowie” that features some interesting and melodic, full-band jamming before building to a strong peak. As a whole, I believe the expression “typically-great” is very applicable to this set.

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“2001” opens the second consecutive second-set in a row, and it’s easy to see why the band is choosing to debut the song in this slot. While it’s played in essentially the same manner as last night, with little-to-no improvisation, the song serves as a great rave-up to get the crowd excited for what’s to come. Also like last night, “2001” drops into a song that carries the promise of improvisational excitement. Tonight that turns out to be the first “Tweezer” of tour. This “Tweezer’s” jam begins at 4:45, and is initially guided by a driving, rock riff from Trey. This builds in energy for a couple minutes before Trey transitions to soloing at 6:30. The song takes a more dissonant turn here for a series of tension/release builds. The first one of these builds peaks briefly at 7:50 before the band turns back to dissonance again. Page delivers a flurry of excellent playing during this second build, before a final, exciting peak at 9:00. The band steers the jam towards the end of “Tweezer” after this final peak. While focusing on tension/release builds has been the norm for “Tweezer” so far this year, this performance is delivered with clarity and lots of energy, and the peaks are exciting as well, making this song an early highlight of the set.

“The Squirming Coil” is a well-placed breather following the high-energy “Tweezer.” Trey flubs his lines slightly at about 2:00 as this song makes its tour-debut, but otherwise this is a solid performance. Despite the minor flub in “Coil,” the following performances of “It’s Ice” and “Sparkle” are standard but perfectly played. “Big Ball Jam” leads into the first Mike’s Groove of tour. The “Mike’s Song” jam begins at 2:30, and a quick Trey solo brings us to the first set of ending chords at 4:50. A second jam begins at 4:50, and despite a key change the “Simple” riff is absent from this performance. This ‘second jam’ was often quite messy during the spring tour and that still holds somewhat true tonight. It takes a good minute or so for the jam to coalesce around a descending Trey riff. Mike helps establish a funky feeling for this segment with his bass playing. This groove breaks down at 7:00 to a very minimalist, staccato section before the ending chords kick back in at 7:30. The band is experimenting in the second jam, for sure, but this is not a particularly interesting or memorable “Mike’s Song” all the same.

“Leprechaun” makes its second appearance in the “Hydrogen” slot for the first and only “Mike’s > Leprechaun > Weekapaug.” My feelings towards this song are mostly unchanged from its debut; the song kind of plods along for a few minutes without ever building into anything. I can’t really fault the band for quickly dropping this song. The “Weekapaug” jam begins at 1:08. Trey riffs for about a minute before launching into a solo. This solo doesn’t take long to build before it emerges into an early peak by 3:00. After some exuberant soloing from Trey the jam starts to break down at 3:45. Fishman shifts to playing almost exclusively on his ride cymbal, and Page steps up to share the spotlight with Trey. Page begins to solo at 4:45 as Trey recedes into the background, and Fish drops out entirely at 5:00. Page slides right from his solo into the “Hold Your Head Up” theme, played on his piano instead of organ as typical, and then into the beginning of “Faht,” as the band leaves “Weekapaug” unfinished. Like the “Faht” performed two nights ago, this song doesn’t really translate well to tape, and comes across as two minutes of mostly-ambient sound. Ultimately, the fluid transition from “Weekapaug” to “HYHU” and then “Faht” is probably the most interesting part of this otherwise somewhat-tepid Mike’s Groove.

“Rift” makes a rare, late-show appearance after “Faht” before the set closing “Good Times Bad Times” ends the set on a high-energy, hard-rocking high note. “Amazing Grace” is the first song of a triple-encore, and seems to show that the band intends for this song to be more than a novelty limited to the spring tour. “Daniel Saw the Stone” makes its third appearance in as many shows, as the song continues to move around wildly in the setlist, before “Tweezer Reprise” sends the crowd home. Trey gives a shout-out to Wolf Trap at the end of “Daniel,” saying the venue is “beautiful” and that the band had a great time tonight.

The first set of this show is thoroughly solid, with decent renditions of “Reba” and “Stash” and an above-average “David Bowie” that features some unusually melodic jamming. The second set starts promisingly, with the return of “2001” and a very fun, if not particularly experimental, “Tweezer.” Unfortunately, the set slowly fizzles out from there, with a somewhat disappointing first Mike’s Groove of tour and a double-shot of “Leprechaun” and “Faht” that kills the set’s momentum. This show isn’t a bad listen by any means, but it lacks any real stand-out moments. You’re not missing out on too much if you give this one a pass.

  • Show rating: 3/5
  • Highlights: “David Bowie,” “Tweezer”

Show stats:

  • Phish.net setlist
  • First set length: 67 mins.
  • Second set length: 84 mins.
  • This is the first and last time Phish performed at the Filene Center at Wolf Trap.
  • The longest gap in this night’s setlist is “The Oh Kee Pah Ceremony,” returning after a twenty-two show absence (4/17/93).
  • The best represented studio album is A Picture of Nectar (6 songs).
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This entry was posted in 1993, Review, Summer 1993 and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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