Tonight’s show is another one-set H.O.R.D.E. festival appearance, less than a week after a similar one-set performance at a New York H.O.R.D.E. show (7/21/93). Similar to other Phish festival appearances this year, the band largely played it safe at the 7/21 show. This lack of risk-taking combined with some uncharacteristic sloppiness during a few compositions resulted in the weakest show of the tour so far. Will the band deliver a more compelling performance tonight during their final appearance at a H.O.R.D.E. show?
“2001” takes its usual set-opening slot before the band drops into “Rift.” This song has more-or-less been rock solid during this tour, but the band has a couple issues with this complex song tonight. There’s some brief but noticeable timing issues at 3:00, and Trey struggles a little at the beginning of his solo. The band recovers quickly in both spots, but it’s an unfortunate reminder of the sloppiness during the 7/21 show. Thankfully, the band pulls it together, and the next couple of songs are performed near-flawlessly.
“Stash” provides an opportunity for the band to introduce a festival crowd to their improvisational skills, though the band plays the song more closely to the vest than they have the last couple of nights. I noticed a couple nights ago during the Great Woods show that the audience was beginning to clap along to Fish’s woodblock fills, and that occurs again tonight. The jam begins at 4:55 and features standard “Stash” soloing from Trey for the first couple of minutes. The band launches into a tension/release build at 6:55, which builds excitement. This releases into a solid peak at 8:00. The band then goes through one more intense build before returning to the composed end to the song at about 9:00. This is a solid “Stash” that’s a fun listen, but it’s also nothing too special when compared to other ’93 performances of the song, and is very by-the-books, containing little to no experimentation. A standard mid-set “Squirming Coil” follows “Stash,” and serves as the set’s only breather for the audience.
“Sparkle” kicks off the back half of the set. The timing issues that were noticeable during “Rift” reappear during the intro of the song. Once the band gets past the intro, however, the song sounds fine. “It’s Ice” follows “Sparkle,” and thankfully suffers from no noticeable flubs. The underwater segment is short tonight, but does feature some fun organ work from Page and neat lines from Trey right before the band snaps back into the composition. After the end of “It’s Ice,” the band improvises a Mike and Page-heavy bridge into “Purple Rain,” presumably as Fish and Trey switch spots on stage. Once Fishman is done crooning some Prince, Trey announces that they “wish we could play all night, but we only have time for one more song.” He says they will bring up some friends on stage, before launching into the show-ending “You Enjoy Myself.”
Despite the guest introduction, the composition is performed by only the band and sounds standard. The jam starts at 7:00 with Page’s solo. After Page rips it up for about a minute, the guests joining the band become audible on the tape. While Page is still going strong with his solo a guest guitarist can be heard joining the mix, and a harmonica is audible at 9:30. The jam quickly takes a wild, anarchic turn due to the number of musicians on stage improvising and soloing at the same time, and implodes entirely at about 11:50 in a mass of noise, making this the second consecutive “YEM” that has been left unfinished by the band. Though this “YEM” jam lasts only about five minutes, the guest musicians add a unique, fusion sound to the jam that is quite exciting and memorable, making this one more than worth a listen.
Overall, this is a stronger festival performance than the 7/21 show. While the prior show had a weird flow to the setlist, tonight’s set feels meticulously crafted and paced. The “Stash” provides a fun, initial dip into improvisational waters, and the set culminates in a wild, free-jazz freakout in “YEM.” Outside of the final few minutes of “YEM” the playing is largely standard fare for the tour so far, but the playing is mostly rock-solid (minus the few flubs I noted above) and there’s a good energy and flow to the set. Not a bad listen at all.
- Show rating: 3/5
- Highlights: “Stash,” “You Enjoy Myself“
- Phish.net setlist
- First set length: 60 mins.
- This is the first time Phish performed at the Classic Amphitheater. They will return on 6/30/94.
- The longest gap in this night’s setlist is “It’s Ice” and “You Enjoy Myself,” both returning after a three show absence (7/23/93).
- The best represented studio album is Rift (3 songs).