Hi! This is a blog where I review Phish shows from early in the band’s existence, performed before I could have been conscious of the group’s existence (I was born in 1993). Chances are if you find yourself on this page you have some level of Phish knowledge, so I am not going to dive into basic information on the band. Hearing this performance and seeing a show for myself (8/14/09) before my senior year of high school was enough to turn me from a curious onlooker of the Phish phenomena to a diehard fan. Since then I’ve seen over 50 shows and listened to countless more. Some of my favorite Phish experiences include making yearly camping expeditions to Saratoga Springs in 2012, 2013, and 2014, seeing the complete New Year’s Eve runs at Madison Square Garden in 2011, 2012, 2015, and 2016, and being lucky enough to witness Super Ball IX and Magnaball first hand. Growing up in the Northeast has its advantages when being a Phish fan.
But that’s enough about myself. This page is supposed to be about my blog, so let me return to the topic hand. Starting on February 3rd, 2017 I will post a review of the show that occurred that day 24 years prior. In this case, that would be 2/3/93. The next day I will post a review of 2/4/93…and so on. Beginning with the 1993 Winter/Spring tour I intend to review every Phish show and post it here for as long as I can. Due to this time-specific schedule, there may be long gaps between reviews (reflecting the long gaps that sometimes occurred between tours). I’ll try to fill this time with posts recapping previous tours, picking out some of my favorite jams, and otherwise commenting about current day Phish happenings.
You will learn enough about my likes and dislikes and personal quirks about Phish by reading the reviews themselves. The description of the rating system below helps explain what criteria I’m looking at when I judge whether a show is “good” or “bad” or “mind-melting.” My favorite moments at a Phish show are being lost in a deep jam, so I will obviously be biased towards shows that fill that craving. However, I also have a great respect for many of the band’s compositions and also get a lot of enjoyment from a flowing and well-structured set of expertly executed songs, even if the band largely colors within the songs’ lines. Shows I rate low are shows where the band is struggling to connect, one or more musician is clearly having an off-night, setlist choices are poor, the band sounds disinterested, etc. These shows, thankfully, are rare. As Phish is generally at their worst a professional rock band of talented musicians that can put on a fun rock show, most shows will score a 3 (decent) or higher. However, I call it as I see it, and if I feel the band is not living up to that standard I will rate accordingly.
Each show I review on a scale from 1 (bad) to 5 (awesome) to quickly describe and summarize my feeling about each show. This isn’t supposed to be some objective or scientific measure and is just my snap judgment after finishing listening to a show. I add a rating simply because I think it will help highlight standout performances to readers. The rating is relative to the tour, not Phish as a whole, so a 4 star 1993 show should not be seen as ‘equivalent’ to a 1997 4 star show. Here is the rough criteria I use when determining a show’s rating:
- 5/5 -Peak performance with excellent flow, great playing, and memorable improvisation. Full of energy.
- 4/5 – Great show with good song selection and flow. Significant passages of improvisation. Composed passages sound practiced.
- 3/5 – Decent show. Some examples of great and inspired playing but mostly unremarkable in context of era.
- 2/5 – Off-night with weird energy, questionable song placement, or poor flow. Few instances of significant improvisation.
- 1/5 – Awful show. Little connection between band members. Major issues performing composed passages. No interesting improvisation.