Phish has been circling around the northeast for the last week and a half, but the band now begins a march down South that will last for the rest of the month and into August. “Wilson” makes its first appearance of the tour to open tonight’s show. Besides for a cool, little mini-jam during the pre-“blat boom!” pause, this is a standard “Wilson.” However, it’s nice to see that this song has not been shelved, and hopefully this marks a welcome return to rotation for the song. “Wilson” lands into a well-played and nicely dynamic “Foam.” Despite being placed in the second set for almost the entirety of the Winter/Spring tour, “Foam” is followed by the second first-set “Mound” in as many appearances. “Mound” does what “Mound” does, before an early-show “Stash” provides the first real opportunity for the band to stretch its legs tonight.
The “Stash” jam begins at 4:50, with tension quickly starting to build by 5:30 thanks to dissonant riffing from Trey. The mood of the jam gets quite dark, but Trey releases the tension with an early peak at 6:25. The next minute features standard “Stash” soloing, which builds to an intense explosion of energy at 7:25. After this peak the band starts to break down the jam with some neat, interlocking riffs between Page and Trey and some experimentation from Fish and Mike. This leads into a quiet, subdued passage. The band starts to emerge from this subterranean exploration at 8:45 for a final peak and a return to the composed ending. This is a good, but not particularly mind-blowing “Stash.” It combines some tension/release jamming and a small dollop of experimentation in a tight, relatively concise package.
The middle of the first set could be fairly described as ‘jukebox Phish,’ as the band plays through a number of shorter tunes that are played in standard fashion. All of the songs are performed well, but there’s not much connective tissue between them. This segment of songs is: “Fee > Rift, The Sloth, My Mind’s Got a Mind of Its Own.” “The Sloth” is far from my favorite Phish song, but this is the first “Sloth” of tour, so its inclusion adds at least a little setlist freshness to the run of songs. “I Didn’t Know” makes its first appearance since the tour opener, and fills its usual role as penultimate song of the first set.
“David Bowie” closes the first set and features a lengthy intro tonight, including both a substantial tease of “Donna Lee” and a Secret Language signal. The intro ends at 1:55. As with the 5/8 “Jessica” teases in “Bowie,” I somewhat question Phish.net’s breaking out of “Donna Lee” as a separate song on the setlist, but to each their own. I won’t be considering “Donna Lee” a separate song for my own stats purposes. The “Bowie” jam is underway by 5:20, and starts in a pleasantly subdued fashion. Trey rocks a clean guitar tone for the first minute or so, as the band winds its way through a “Sounds of Silence” tease. The energy starts to pick up by 7:15 as Trey kicks on the fuzz. A couple of brief but fun detours through dissonant passages break up what is otherwise a relatively straightforward march towards the jam’s final peaks. Like the earlier “Stash” this is not a particularly mind-bending jam, but it has enough going on to make it a fun ride all the same. Similar sentiments can be said to apply to the set as a whole; there’s some good jamming in “Stash” and “Bowie,” and the tour-debuts are fun to hear, but overall this set feels more average than the band’s playing the last couple of nights.
“2001” opens set two (of course!) before the first “Suzy Greenberg” of tour. “Suzy” is a song I always enjoy seeing live, but it often doesn’t do a whole lot for me on tape. That’s not the case with this show, however, for the song works surprisingly well coming out of “2001”; the former song serves as a rave-up, while “Suzy” delivers the peak. It’s an effective one-two to open the set. The following “Tweezer” offers the band an opportunity to dig deep, and is the improvisational highlight of the evening.
The “Tweezer” jam starts at 4:15, and after some initial space Trey drives the jam with edgy, rocking riffing that quickly builds up energy. Starting at about 6:15 the band goes through several, increasingly chaotic segments of tension and release. Particularly notable is an intense passage at about 7:30 where Fishman deconstructs the “Tweezer” rhythm in thrilling fashion. After a wild couple of minutes, the band quiets way down at 9:00 and begins to slow down the tempo. What follows is a slow disintegration of the song’s jam. This disintegration is similar in style to the composed end to the song, but not based around the main “Tweezer” riff. Trey picks up his acoustic as the song falls part entirely for a neat transition into “The Horse.” “The Horse > Silent in the Morning” is a welcome breath of fresh air after a high-energy opening to the set.
The second, second-set “Maze” in as many shows follows “Tweezer.” This is a very good “Maze,” with the wildly energetic peak of Page’s solo slightly overshadowing Trey’s solo (which is also good, but feels a little more standard). A note-perfect rendition of “The Lizards” makes its second appearance of tour after “Maze,” filling out the middle portion of the set (the circulating tape has a truly unfortunate tape flip near the end of the song). “Big Ball Jam” (which is also abbreviated due to more tape issues) leads into the standard Henrietta segment of tour: “Purple Rain > Hold Your Head Up.” This “Purple Rain” is a little more comedic than usual, with Fishman introducing the band during the intro and later asking the crowd “how many of you think I look like Prince?”
The first “Harpua” of tour is the last notable song of the evening. Before starting the song, Trey thanks the audience and acknowledges both that “a lot of people come to many gigs” and that this is the last show in the northeast before the band treks southward. He seems to dedicate “Harpua” to these facts, as he trails off by saying “so this one…” before starting the song. The narration of this “Harpua” begins with Trey observing that Vermont is very Gamehendge-esque in its geography, and that it “all blurs together.” Harpua lives way up in the mountains of this Gamehendge/Vermont region, and has a magic power that allows him to create clouds with continuous rain drops that Harpua is able to climb up. He climbs up these raindrops onto a cloud where he swings as if on a hammock. Harpua then descends from these clouds into a town where Jimmy lives, enamored by the television show “Taxi.” Harpua and Poster Nutbag have their fateful encounter, and I found Trey’s narration of their battle in this performance to be livelier than in the typical “Harpua.” A quick and energetic “Tweezer Reprise” ends the set, while “Cavern” is the lone encore.
I found the first set of this show to be slightly pedestrian, despite the solid jams in “Stash” and “Bowie.” After listening to the first set and glancing at the track lengths of set 2, I was expecting to rate this show a 3. However, the second set wound up winning me over, and is a lot of fun to listen to. The “Tweezer” is more adventurous than its length would seem to indicate, and contains a lot of intense jamming. Additionally, the “2001 > Suzy Greenberg” opening works very well, and both “Maze” and “The Lizards” in the middle of the set are performed near-flawlessly. The set flows well, and culminates with an entertaining narration in “Harpua.” The first set is far from bad, but you probably aren’t missing much if you skip it. The second set of this show, however, is a great slice of early-summer-’93 Phish, and a very entertaining listen.
- Show rating: 4/5
- Highlights: “Stash,” “David Bowie,” “Tweezer,” “Harpua”
- Phish.net setlist
- First set length: 63 mins.
- Second set length: 78 mins.
- This is the first time Phish performed at Waterloo Village. They will return on 6/23/95.
- The longest gap in this night’s setlist is “The Sloth,” returning after a nineteen show absence (4/29/93).
- The best represented studio album is Rift (5 songs).