Midwest tour continues tonight with the second show of tour to receive an official LivePhish release. The first set begins with a solo Fishman spot, as he croons “Lengthwise” to the fans. The rest of the band adds a neat little ambient jam under Fishman’s singing, which builds into the beginning of “Llama.” Like “Lengthwise,” “Llama” has a little extra juice tonight, with a couple of cool mini-jams/break-downs spread across the song. It has felt like the band has recently been using “Makisupa Policeman” as a landing pad for big jams, but the band starts the song up cold tonight in the three spot. This is a fun and mellow “Makisupa” that contains some groovy, spacey funk jamming and multiple references to smoking herb. Page adds some heady sound effects to the end of “Makisupa” to bridge the end of the song into the beginning of “Foam,” making for a surprisingly slick segue. Keeping with the trend of the night, “Foam” is very well-played and features an impressive attention to dynamics.
You can hear Trey call out “Stash?” at the end of “Foam” on the official recording, and the rest of the band quickly decides to go along with Trey’s call. The band has had no issue playing the composition of this song all year, so it’s a bit odd to hear Trey flubbing his way through the song, as he does tonight. Perhaps the references to herb in “Makisupa” were an indication of Trey’s headspace tonight. Issues with the composition aside, Trey is locked-in for the entirety of the song’s jam, which begins at 4:50. The band breaks the song down at the beginning of the jam, as Trey wails away with some feedback. Eventually this coalesces around a tension-building, ascending riff. The band starts to pick up steam and is cooking by 7:30. Mike steps up here with some melodic leads of his own on the bass. This pushes Trey into a shredding, hammer-on/pull-off riff, which builds the jam’s energy even further. This peaks, briefly, at 9:50, before a final tension/release build brings the song to a final peak at 10:30. The band transitions into the composed end of “Stash” soon after, and the song is over by 11:15. After the band has finished, Trey remarks that this was the “special Friday the 13th jam!”
This is a very good “Stash”; the jam follows a similar progression to other “Stash” jams from this tour, but it’s executed very well and high-energy from beginning to end. The second performance of “Ginseng Sullivan” is next after its debut two nights prior. Trey continues to play this one on his acoustic, which he stays on for the intro to the following “Fluffhead.” “Fluff” has impressed during its previous few outings, and that continues to be the case tonight. The composition sounds note-perfect, Trey’s solo explodes with energy, and the band even improvises an extended outro for the song. Pleasant readings of “My Mind’s Got a Mind of Its Own” and “Horn” work well as an interlude between “Fluff” and the last big moment of the set: a near-20 minute “David Bowie!”
The “Bowie” intro is very long tonight. The band’s playing here has a moody feel that makes this “Bowie” intro much more atmospheric than is typical. Mike is leading the band during this segment, soloing on the bass and delivering a very impressive solo run at 1:55. The intro jam resets to just Fishman’s beat at 2:10. The rest of the band starts adding some sparse, ominous ambience that develops into ‘plinko’-esque jamming by 3:00. The band finally drops into “Bowie” proper at 4:10, with the song’s jam starting at 7:40. Initially the band’s playing is subdued, with great interplay between Page on his baby grand and Trey. Trey adds some crunchy dissonance at 8:50, but quickly returns to the subdued feeling of the earlier portion. A loud, intense build begins about a minute later, with the sound becoming increasingly anarchic by 10:00. Out of this chaos, the band locks into a fast, driving, hard-rocking riff. This becomes a half-time jam at 10:50, and the band breaks down the jam into almost nothing.
The band is fully ‘out-there’ at this point, and is searching for ideas on where to take the jam next. A direction emerges as Trey starts playing the ending of “The Mango Song” at 12:20. The band rides out this “Mango Song” tease, which dissipates into a weird jam that gets increasingly jazzy. This jazz segment transitions into another elaborate tease at 14:10, this time of “Magilla.” The band finally transitions back into a hard-rocking direction at 15:10, with the jam entering recognizably “Bowie” territory a minute later. An energetic and satisfying peak concludes the improvisation, and the band begins to take this “Bowie” home to the composed end by 17:50. This is a hyper-kinetic “Bowie,” with the band rarely sticking with one idea for long and bouncing between teases of other songs, noisy builds, and solos. It’s an exciting listen, and definitely a “Bowie” worth checking out.
This is another excellent first-set. The opening of the show feels unique, featuring both a “Lengthwise” and “Llama” that contain some unusual playing and a rare, stand-alone “Makisupa Policeman” that transitions smoothly into “Foam.” The jams start to flow from there, with an intense “Stash” and an exploratory “David Bowie” surrounding another perfectly performed “Fluffhead.” Trey flubs a few composed sections here and there throughout the set, which is very unusual for him at this time, but he’s locked-in to the jamming and delivering where it counts.
“Buried Alive” opens the second set, and lands in “Rift.” Both songs are standard performances, but they are well-played nonetheless. The third song, “Bathtub Gin,” is anything but standard. The jam begins at 4:30 with a vocal jam over the song’s progression. Gradually the music starts to break-down behind this vocal jam. It seems like Trey is going to break for a solo at 5:50, but instead he starts riffing along to the vocal wackiness that continues. The band returns to the main “Gin” melody at 6:50, before a new, blissful groove develops shortly after. Page and Mike initially lead this segment, as Mike’s bass line sets the upbeat mood and Page builds energy through his forceful chordal work. Trey joins with melodic chording of his own at 8:20. Fishman is yelling/ranting at this point, screaming “drinking that Gin in the bathtub!” and other nonsense. The jam goes full-on ‘hose’ as Trey unleashes with his solo at 9:00. This peak is brief, as the band starts up the composed ending of “Gin” at 9:35. This turns out to be a fake-out, as the band launches straight into a second jam at 10:00 with more yelling from Fish. The tempo quickens and the band quickly builds energy again. Trey starts trilling at 11:00, turning the tap on the hose right back on again. This builds to a huge, blissful peak, before the jam starts to break down again at 12:30 and turn in a darker direction.
The band turns on the funk at about 13:00 in “Gin,” and Trey solos tastefully over this new direction, adding some “Hey!” shouts of his own. The tempo quickens, Trey starts the “Ya Mar” chords, and the band transitions smoothly into that song. Much ink has been spilled about the “Murat Gin,” and it deserves it. The 8/2 performance was revelatory, but tonight’s “Gin” just builds on the promise of that earlier version and delivers incredibly huge peaks. I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say that this “Gin” sets the bar for all “Gins” to come. A must listen, and probably one of the most (if not the most) successful instance of type-II improvisation this year.
“Ya Mar” works well as a landing pad here, just as “Makisupa” eased the band out of the 8/2 “Gin.” Some of the energy from the prior song spills over, with some extra vocal silliness here as well, but this is otherwise a fairly standard “Ya Mar.” The band doesn’t rest long, however, for they jump right back into the deep end with the subsequent “Mike’s Song.” The “Mike’s” jam begins at 2:30, and Mike goes to town immediately, delivering an impressive bass solo. The crispness of the LivePhish release probably adds to this perception, but Mike has really been impressing me all night long, with his bass work driving several big improvisational moments.
Trey comes in at 3:10, and the first jam follows its standard progression in quickly building to a peak. Despite following the typical path of the song, this first jam reaches an intense and satisfying peak, before the first round of ‘end chords’ come in at 4:30. The second jam starts quickly after at 4:50, and immediately turns in a darkly psychedelic direction. The jam gradually breaks down to almost nothing except Mike and Fishman’s kick drum. The tension airs out, and Mike’s melodic playing pushes the jam in a mellower direction. Page’s subtle organ work contributes to this contemplative change in mood. The vibe here is almost similar to “I Am Hydrogen.” Trey comes back in at 6:50 with playing to match this new, relaxed direction. Trey starts singing…something. (Perhaps this is the “Strangehold” quotes Phish.net mentions?). The energy starts to build at 9:00, as Trey hammers on a riff and the band keeps yelling. This riffing evolves into full-on heavy-metal intensity by 10:20 as the band patiently builds. Trey finally breaks for a quick solo, before the band crashes back into the “Mike’s Song” progression at 11:10. A little further soloing from Trey brings us to the “Mike’s” ‘end chords’ at 11:40.
This “Mike’s Song” is about the same length as the performance from two nights prior, but it contains a much more full-fledged and successful jam tonight. The band blisses out, returning to territory not too far afield from the earlier jam in “Gin,” before building back up the intensity of “Mike’s.” So that’s what, three big type-II jams this evening alone? I think I’m being converted to August ’93 fandom as we speak.
“Lifeboy” emerges out of “Mike’s Song” to make one of its rare appearance. It’s a much appreciated chance to relax after a relentless set so far. “The Oh Kee Pah Ceremony > Suzy Greenberg” are the last two songs of a very short second set (less than one hour in length). “Suzy” is standard, but the band kills the peaks, as you might expect. (Everyone’s been having a great night tonight). The song works well as an exclamation point on an incredible set. “Amazing Grace” and “Highway to Hell” are the encore choices tonight. I appreciate the dichotomy in lyrical themes between the two songs, and I wonder if that is just a perfect coincidence fitting for such a monumental show, or if it was part of the reason the songs were chosen.
The amount of this show that is dedicated to big, deep jams is pretty much unprecedented. There has been a few other big ‘type-II’ improvisational moments this year, but arguably not a show that has been packed so full of them. On other nights, one could point to the “Stash” from this show as being a legitimate musical highlight. But throw in the “Mango Song/Magilla” laced “Bowie,” the mountains of peaks in “Gin,” and the blissed-out intensity of “Mike’s Song,” and you have a show for the ages.
- Show rating: 5/5
- Highlights: “Stash,” “Fluffhead,” “David Bowie,” “Bathtub Gin,” “Mike’s Song > Lifeboy”
- Phish.net setlist
- First set length: 80 mins.
- Second set length: 59 mins.
- Encore length: 7 mins.
- This is the first time Phish performed at the Murat Theatre. They will return on 6/24/94.
- The longest gap in this night’s setlist is “Lifeboy,” returning after an eleven show absence (7/29/93).
- The best represented studio album is Rift (4 songs).