After this tour’s first of two Canadian sojourns, we return stateside with a Wednesday night show in Michigan. Trey experimented a bit with his lines in “Buried Alive” earlier on this tour, but tonight he sticks with a note-perfect, traditional reading of the song to open the show. The most interesting and experimental “Runaway Jim” of tour follows. At the beginning of his solo, Trey starts repeating a quick, almost-shrill, repeating melody. Mike picks up on this riff and starts matching it with his bass playing. These developments push the Trey solo segment of “Jim” into an almost full-band jam, with a more jazzy vibe than the song typically has. An intense chordal build-up and shredding from Trey brings the song back into more typical “Jim” territory at 6:30. Trey continues to rip on his guitar, and builds the jam into a fire peak not long after 7:00. The experimentation here is brief and subtle, but this “Jim” stands out on close listen.
A looser-than-usual “Weigh” occupies the three slot, with Trey coming in too early with some vocals and adding extra notes on guitar. “Weigh” drops into “Ice.” Reprising the band’s approach to the song on the 8th, Page once again takes over completely during the ‘underwater’ segment. The rest of the band drops out, leaving Page to enjoy his solo spot. This segment is not quite as long as on the 8th, and Page is not quite as thundering, but it’s still a neat moment.
The debut of “Ginseng Sullivan” is next, a pleasant song I don’t really have strong feelings about. Trey is on acoustic guitar for this debut, which combined with a relaxed tempo makes for a somewhat subdued reading of the song. Trey stays on acoustic for the beginning of “My Friend, My Friend.” Between songs, Trey mentions that they “just learned [Ginseng] on the bus on the way over.” He then flat out lies and jokes that “we’ve never played this song before either!” as he starts “MF,MF.” “MF,MF” is played well tonight, and features an extended outro for one of the first times this tour. The band goes through a brief stop/start segment, adds some “Friend, friend, friend…” chanting, and…ends the song with a brief, “YEM”-like vocal jam? It’s a strange hodgepodge of ideas, but it’s a fun enough sequence.
“Stash” is the big improvisational moment of set 1. The jam starts at 4:55, and goes sideways a minute later. Matching his ripping playing in the earlier “Jim,” Trey goes completely bonkers on the fretboard as the band enters into an intense, dissonant passage. While Trey is going wild on the guitar, the rest of the band stays tight and locked-into a driving groove. This segment erupts into a satisfying peak at 8:00, but the band quickly transitions back into a dissonant groove. Instead of unleashing a flurry of notes, Trey starts to break the jam down by messing with the volume of his guitar somehow and fading in long, drawn-out notes and chords. The jam breaks down a bit and gets kinda spacey for a minute or so (primitive ’99-’00 era playing?). The energy picks up at 10:15, and a final peak leads the band back into “Stash” at around 11:00. This is an awesome and very Trey-driven “Stash”!
A snappy and standard pairing of “Sparkle > Cavern” closes out this short first set. So far this has been a very good show. The set gets cooking with an interesting “Jim,” has some interesting moments in “Ice” and “My Friend, My Friend,” and drops a big moment of improvisation in “Stash.” Hopefully this creativity is a sign of a big set 2 to come!
“Mike’s Song” kicks off the second set for the first time this year. The jam begins at 2:45, and Trey comes in shortly after. Trey plays repeats a cool little riff a few times during the initial jam, but it’s brief and relatively standard. Trey starts playing the ‘end chords’ at 5:40, before the band jumps into a second jam at 6:00. They step off the gas here a bit, and let the jam air out. Trey shifts into major-key playing. The jam breaks way down, before the band starts to build it back up again around a Mike groove. Page plays some long, drawn-out organ chords as Trey moves in an increasingly blissful direction. Mike sings…something, at 8:40. Fishman picks the tempo back up at 9:40, and the sound becomes very anarchic as everything starts doing their own thing. Mike locks back into the “Mike’s Song” groove at 10:40. One final solo from Trey brings the band back to the ‘end chords’ at 11:40.
This is one of the longest “Mike Song’s” of the year, but that doesn’t automatically make it the best. The middle segment where the band breaks the song’s structure entirely is exciting for that reason. However, while the band works through a lot of ideas here, they never really stick with and develop one theme. As such, a lot of it just doesn’t really stick. This is a good “Mike’s Song,” but it’s also a bit messy.
“Great Gig in the Sky” serves as the middle of the Mike’s Groove sandwich tonight, which means we get treated to a vacuum solo before “Weekapaug Groove” starts up. The jam starts at 1:40, and is initially propelled by great soloing from Trey. He starts repeating a riff based around a bending note at about 3:00. A ‘hey’ jam begins shortly after, centered around a descending Trey melody. This breaks down at about 6:00. The next segment begins with dark, menacing chordal work from Trey, but it quickly gets very sparse as Page and Trey quiet down and trade ideas. Fishman starts the “Weekapaug” groove back up at 8:30, though Trey continues with his quiet, trailing-away soloing. Page really gets things going again with a stunning piano build at 9:00, as he thunders some powerful chords while going wild with trilling at the same time. This brings Trey back, as he comes in with tremolo picking of his own (never one to be outmatched). He quickly builds the jam into a satisfying peak, before the band transitions back into the “Weekapaug” verse at 10:55.
“Mike’s Song” is good, but “Weekapaug” is great. The lengthy jam is just as experimental as the earlier song, but the sequences the band works through after breaking the song’s structure are more interesting and more successfully worked into a cohesive whole. Together, it makes for an incredibly improvisational opening half hour to the set. It’s probably not too much of an exaggeration to say that there’s more ‘type-II’ jamming in this sequence than in several consecutive weeks of the winter/spring tour combined.
The band shifts to composed songs for the middle of the set. “Esther > All Things Considered” is well-played tonight, as is the subsequent “Bouncing Around the Room > Rift.” The most notable aspect of this sequence is probably the smooth segue between “Bouncing” and “Rift.” Trey starts up the tremolo-opening to “Rift” over the ending of “Bouncing,” which makes for a cool moment. “Jesus Just Left Chicago” begins the homestretch of the set, making its tour debut. The band takes the song nice and slow, which is just how I like my “JJLC,” with Trey in particular delivering a scintillating blues solo at the end. “My Sweet One” is the penultimate song of the set, and the band runs through a ridiculous number of Secret Language signals during the song’s pause. The band’s Secret Language will end up influencing the set closing “Run Like an Antelope” in a big way.
“Antelope” has a long intro tonight, with lots of Secret Language signals and hijinks. Page in particular is feeling feisty. The jam starts at 2:35. The next several minutes are built around the Simpsons Secret Language signal. Trey works that signal melodically into the rhythm/structure of the jam, and each time he plays it slightly more people react to it. It’s a cool moment, and somewhat reminiscent of the 3.0 “Woo!” jams. The jam takes a dark turn at about 3:50, with Trey moving towards his guitar’s register and growling out some riffs. These riffs are still subtly based around the Simpsons signal. Trey finally switches gears from this influence at 5:00, as he shifts to a new, driving riff. This breaks down at 5:50, and Page and Trey once again have a great musical conversation with some back and forth. Excellent Trey shredding brings this jam home, as he builds to a wild peak at 7:35. The ‘reggae’ verse segment of “Antelope” begins at 8:30.
This is a shorter “Antelope” than some of the others from this tour, but it packs a lot of punch and ideas into its length. The initial jam is very unique, being centered around the Simpsons signal, and it then builds to a very satisfying peak. Top-notch playing. Two more tour-debuts comprise the encore: “Sweet Adeline” (performed without microphones), and an exquisite “Bold as Love,” which feels like a perfect ending to the evening.
Excuse me for sounding like a broken record, but this is another fine August ’93 Phish show. Both sets are well-paced with great highlights, with the “Stash” and “Weekapaug” being the biggest moments in my eyes. The first half hour of the second set is also one of the most improvisational sequences of the whole year; hopefully a sign of even bigger things to come! With several officially released shows coming up, I’m optimistic as to what the week ahead has in store.
- Show rating: 4/5
- Highlights: “Runaway Jim,” “Stash,” “Mike’s Song > The Great Gig in the Sky > Weekapaug Groove,” “Jesus Just Left Chicago,” “Run Like an Antelope“
- Phish.net setlist
- Debuts: “Ginseng Sullivan” (Blake)
- First set length: 65 mins.
- Second set length: 75 mins.
- Encore length: 8 mins.
- This is the first and last time Phish performed at the Eastbrook Theatre.
- The longest gap in this night’s setlist is “Jesus Just Left Chicago,” returning after a forty-eight show absence (4/3/93).
- The best represented studio album is Rift (6 songs).