May 7th, 1994: The Bomb Factory, Dallas TX

Tonight’s performance is the second of three Texas appearances this tour, and the first show of 1994 to be officially released by Phish. This is also the second show I am reviewing for this blog that was selected as one of the original 20 LivePhish releases (the first being 8/14/93 from last summer). Although this show is considered by many to be one of Phish’s classic performances, I have not listened to it prior to writing this post. The show begins with a ripping “Llama” that is followed by an appreciated “Horn,” the song’s first appearance in a couple of weeks. “Horn” actually features a bit of a improvised coda tonight! Flurries of notes from both Mike and later Trey after the end of the song work to create an ambient interlude between the end of the song and the following “Divided Sky.” It’s only a brief moment, but it’s neat. Speaking of “Divided Sky,” tonight’s performance is very good. The great sound quality of the official release brings out all of the song’s lovely details, and all of the band members are playing well. There’s about a minute long pause tonight, and Trey’s solo at the end peaks with an explosive outburst of trilling.

“Mound” cools things off slightly after “Sky” after this very engaging opening trio of songs. “Fast Enough for You” is next in a mid-set position and is performed near flawlessly. The first Hoist song of the evening, “Scent of a Mule,” picks the pace back up while continuing to feature a very concise duel segment. “Split Open and Melt” follows “Mule” (meaning you could say “SOAM” follows “SOAM”) , providing the first real opportunity for significant group improvisation this evening. And the band certainly takes advantage of it!

Trey begins the “Melt” jam at 4:30 with a minute or so of fairly typical riffing, but Page does a good job of keeping the energy high with his steady chordal comping. The band starts to experiment with the jam’s progression at 6:30, shifting the root around, and eventually land in an anarchic passage driven by all-out drumming from Fishman and intense, non-stop shredding from Trey. Trey begins to step back at 9:00 and shift from this shredding into hazier, effects-driven playing. This adds a dark, psychedelic layer of murkiness over the jam, causing the rest of the band to break down and build back up to a big peak at 10:00. Trey then leads the band through a number of demented takes on the main “Melt” progression and, instead of dropping straight into the composed ending, the band instead transitions into a subdued groove at 11:40 that very slowly and gradually fades out. Not until 13:20 does the band quietly and slowly begin to play the actual, short ending to the song. The best “Melts” are the darkly psychedelic ones, IMO, and this one definitely gets into that territory. A great first set jam.


“If I Could” provides a pleasant landing pad from the darkness of “Melt,” and a standard “Suzy Greenberg” wraps up the set. Altogether, this is a great first set with an engaging opening sequence of songs and a big jam near the end. The middle third or so of the set is pretty typical for the time, but it’s strung together nicely and the band’s playing is rock solid throughout the set.

“We’re going to take a very short intermission, so don’t go away…”

Only the second “Loving Cup” of the year so far opens set two. I genuinely love this song and think it works great as a set opener, so I greatly enjoyed the song’s placement here. The band turns in a spirited rendition of the tune before transitioning into “Sparkle.” Normally I don’t comment much on “Sparkle,” because you generally know what you’re going to get from the song, but the final build at the end of the song is a hair wilder than normal tonight, with Fishman coming perilously close to dropping the beat of the song altogether at the end. “Sparkle” drops straight into the second “Tweezer” in three shows, and the longest track I have listened to writing for this blog not titled “You Enjoy Myself.”

The “Tweezer” jam begins at 4:35 with some sparse riffing and initial space. Some scat-like vocals emerge from the stage as a funky groove is developed, driven in no small party by Mike’s bass playing. A swaggering vibe is established, leading Trey to start up a repeating, catchy, hard-rock riff. Page starts to push towards the light at 7:40 with major chords, which Trey matches with soaring melodies of his own. This bliss jam lasts for a couple minutes before Page reintroduces tension on his baby grand. This guides the band back into a “Tweezer”-esque groove with Page leading for a while. Trey plays some quick chords on his guitar, however, and Mike almost instantly matches this on his bass, and the two go off to the races, pulling the rest of the band along with them into an anarchic, psychedelic, free-jazz freakout. The band settles on a “Mound”-esque blues groove at 13:45 after this messiness, accompanied by yelling by just about everyone on stage. Trey starts soloing at 14:45 “Jesus Just Left Chicago”-style over a couple progressions of a standard 12-bar blues and brings the jam to a funky blues peak at 16:30.


The jam breaks down again after this blues bit. After some searching, Trey lands on a quick, driving riff that the rest of the band gets behind to build the jam to a frantic, noisy peak that then implodes and settles on a chunky Mike groove. Trey adds some more swaggering riffing and wah-pedal chording as Fishman returns to a “Tweezer”-esque rhythm. The band firmly returns to type-I “Tweezer” territory by 22:30 as Trey continues to play soaring melodies. He builds up to a final, big, satisfying peak from 24:30-25:15. They could transition to the composed ending from here, but they instead opt for a hazy, psychedelic outro that transitions (very) smoothly into…”Sparks!” This “Tweezer” impacts this tour with the force of a nuclear explosion. With the one possible exception of the 4/24 “Bowie” this “Tweezer” shows Phish going deeper and more being more exploratory than they really had gone on stage prior. There’s some messiness in the 26 minutes, certainly, but they reach a lot of legitimately great sequences as well and manage to maintain a decent amount of fluidity throughout the whole thing. What’s even more incredible, however, is that the band is just getting started!

“Makisupa Policeman” emerges from the end of “Sparks,” a song Phish seems to save for special occasions during this era (it was last played during the summer’s famous Murat Theatre show). And, for perhaps the first time ever, the band fully jams the song out!  Trey starts playing with his delay effects at 2:30, leading the rest of the band to largely drop out. Trey establishes a “Digital Delay Loop Jam”-esque groove with his pedals which he then begins to shred on top of. Mike comes back in at 3:20 with melodic bass playing, and Fishman slowly starts to come back in as well. This delay-fueled groove builds in a satisfying manner back into a progression very similar to that which the band ended the “Tweezer” jam with. This in turn slides smoothly into a full-on “Sweet Emotion” jam, complete with vocals!  Then, just as smoothly and on a dime, the band slams straight into “Walk Away” (which Trey had been teasing subtly earlier in the jam) with a burst of momentum at about 10:00.

“Walk Away” is always a lot of fun, especially when the band segues into it out of a jam, and that holds true tonight. “Walk Away” gets jammed out significantly too, which is hardly a surprise at this point in this incredible set. Page takes control of this jam early, and before long takes a solo spot similar to the ending of “Squirming Coil,” with the rest of the band largely staying silent. As Page ends his solo with washes of chords, the rest of the band slowly steps back in similar to the ‘underwater’ segment of “It’s Ice” (and with some explicit teases of that song). The volume begins to build at 9:35, though no clear leader of the jam emerges, causing the jam to disintegrate again. After a Simpsons signal and another build the band transitions into the partially complete debut performance of “Cannonball.” The goofy nature of the song combined with the topical lyrics of the song (“Cannonball,” Bomb Factory, get it? haha…) makes for a fun way to end over 50 minutes of Phish insanity.


“Purple Haze” provides everyone the first opportunity to take a breather this set and Fishman an opportunity to grace the audience to one of his vacuum solos. The customary tease of “Hold Your Head Up” is started after the end of “Purple Rain” as usual, but the band then uses the theme as an opportunity to begin another jam, because of course. It’s almost as if the band challenged themselves to jam out every song they played this set after “Tweezer.” The first couple minutes of this jam feature some standard interplay based around the “Hold Your Head Up” theme, but Trey steps up and begins to go for it shortly after 2:00. The band falls in line behind Trey with accompaniment that struck me as vaguely reminiscent of “Weekapaug Groove,” which makes sense as that song is generally a showpiece for Trey these days. Trey impresses with one more ripping peak before the band crashes into, appropriately, a set-ending “Tweezer Reprise.” A comfortingly standard pairing of “Amazing Grace” and “Sample in a Jar” comprises the encore.

Standing by itself the first set of this show is very good. It doesn’t necessarily stand head and shoulders above other first sets from this tour, but the darkly psychedelic “Split Open and Melt” it produces is one of the better “Melts” from this tour so far. This second set is simply monumental, however. The band started to push into firmly type-II territory in their jamming last summer on a fairly consistent basis, but that consistent exploration has been noticeably and unfortunately absent from much of this tour so far. Even last summer, however, Phish did not drop a jam quite as long as this “Tweezer,” nor weave type-II jamming throughout virtually an entire set like they do here.

I will say that the jamming is not uniformly amazing or mind-blowing. This “Tweezer” is nowhere near as fluid as a 20+ minute jam from the modern era, or even 2.0, or hell, nowhere as fluid as the 20+ minute jams the band will be producing regularly just a couple years from now. While it contains some truly excellent passages, there’s some occasional aimlessness and messiness as well. The jamming near the end of the set also is not as impressive as the jamming in “Tweezer” and “Makiuspa.” That said, it’s hard to overstate how big a step it is for the band to devote such a significant chunk of a set to free-form improvisation, and the great moments this improvisation produces spread across the set more than makes up for the occasionally less impressive or interesting moments. Given the legendary status of this show among the fanbase I’m sure I’m preaching to the choir when I say it, but this is absolutely a must-hear show.

  • Show rating: 5/5
  • Highlights: “Divided Sky,” “Split Open and Melt,” “Tweezer > Sparks > Makisupa Policeman > Walk Away > Cannonball > Purple Haze > Hold Your Head Up Jam > Tweezer Reprise”

Show stats:

  • setlist
  • Debuts: “Cannonball” (Deal)
  • First set length: 70 mins.
  • Second set length: 79 mins.
  • Encore length: 7 mins.
  • This is the first and last time Phish performed at the Bomb Factory.
  • The longest gap in this night’s setlist is “Makisupa Policeman” returning after a forty-two show absence (8/13/93).
  • The best represented studio album is Rift (4 songs).
  • One year ago today: 5/7/93 (Bangor Auditorium, Bangor ME) – Rating: 3/5 – Highlights:Split Open and Melt,” “You Enjoy Myself,” “Harry Hood,” “Harpua”
Posted in 1994, Review, Spring 1994 | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

May 6th, 1994: Tower Theater, Houston TX

Phish’s westward sprint this week will take us through three Texas shows in three cities, the first of which is tonight in Houston. For quite some time only the second set of this show circulated, but an (admittedly poor quality) audience recording of the first set was discovered and shared in 2015, and is now available to download on the spreadsheet and Etree. “Down with Disease” makes its first-ever show-opening appearance to begin the night’s performance. The song sticks to the same standard, seven minute script it has adhered to all tour, but Trey does sound nimble and on point from the beginning of his solo, which is an auspicious sign of things to come. “The Oh Kee Pa Ceremony” makes one of its elusive appearances next to introduce the similarly rare, and thus always-appreciated “AC/DC Bag.” This isn’t a notable “Bag,” other than the fact that the song is played at all, but it does pop with a good amount of energy.

“Poor Heart” emerges from the end of “AC/DC Bag” and subsequently crashes into “My Friend, My Friend” without a pause in the music. “MFMF” is well-played, and Phish reprises the brief “Back Inside My Heart” jam during the song’s coda that they played during the April 10th performance of the song (“Back Inside My Heart” is a Julee Cruise song prominently featured in the show Twin Peaks written by longtime David Lynch collaborator Angelo Badalamenti). “Ya Mar” follows “MFMF” and cools off what has been, to this point, a very high-energy show. This is a very standard “Ya Mar,” with neither Page nor Trey’s solos exceeding a modest length, but there is a nice dynamism and neat interplay between Mike and Trey at the beginning of Trey’s solo, near the end of the song.


The Tower Theater

Phish raises the improvisational stakes of the show a half hour in with “Stash.” The “Stash” jam begins at 5:05, and quickly shifts in mood at 5:35 thanks to a modal shift. The new feeling is less dark, and leads to bouncy playing from both Page and Trey. This builds slowly and briefly returns to the usual “Stash” vibe, only to quickly depart again at 7:00. Trey adopts a growling tone, then fades out as Page takes the lead with sparse, high notes on his baby grand. The jam airs out massively, dissipating to largely just Page and Fishman. Trey comes back with sharp, dissonant riffing at 8:30. There’s some nice interplay here between Page and Trey for a minute before Trey pushes towards a peak, leading the band through an intense tension/release segment on the way. The initial release brings the band back to the “Stash” progression at 10:50, and a couple more wild builds wrap up this “Stash.” I wouldn’t characterize this one as stunning or must-hear, but it’s nice to hear the band really dig in and engage in some improvisational exploration in an unhurried fashion, and the result is an engaging listen. Certain segments of this jam would definitely benefit from a less muddy and distorted recording.

Just about everything played so far has been a high-energy rock song or a showcase for soloing or jams, so “Esther” is a pleasant setlist choice next to follow “Stash.” The band does the song justice before ending the set with a ripping performance of “Chalk Dust Torture” that was sure to leave everyone abuzz going into setbreak. There’s not much notable playing in this set and it’s thus an entirely inessential listen, but it’s not a bad listen either thanks to rock solid playing, a good setlist flow, and some decent jamming in “Stash.”

Set two gets off to a good start with a good, if unexceptional, “Maze.” Page’s solo is very short, but Trey’s is nice and extended. Though most of his soloing is standard fare, he unleashes some fun demented growls at the end. For more interesting playing, Trey is a clear winner of the “Maze” duel tonight. A string of short, standard tunes follows “Maze”: “Golgi Apparatus,” “Uncle Pen,” and “Sample in a Jar.” The band sounds lively and the sequence is well-played, but there’s nothing noteworthy here either. The set picks up again with the following “Reba.” The jam begins at 6:20 and gets both very quiet and very relaxed in terms of tempo. Trey and Page come in lazily with drawling playing, and swim about in languid ambience before the momentum begins to build at around 8:30. Trey quickly shifts to soaring melodies and brings the jam to a peak at 10:15. Some good shredding and soloing brings the jam to an end a couple minutes later. This is a very good “Reba,” no doubt, but it doesn’t stray from territory that other “Rebas” from this tour hit on and didn’t stand out much from them to me.


A mid-set sequence of the high-energy “Axilla (Part II) > Julius” does a good job of maintaining the set’s momentum following “Reba,” before the band graces us to a “Hold Your Head Up > Bike > HYHU” sequence that is devoid of any substantial banter. This is the first “Bike” of the year, which is just one show short of reaching bust-out status by my (generous) standard of 50 shows. “David Bowie” ends the set. The intro begins with extensive “Hold Your Head Up” teases and then moves through several Secret Language signals. The composition begins at 2:25, and the jam begins at 6:00 with initially sparse playing. Trey starts up some heavy-metal riffing at 7:20, then moves into a powerful sequence of driving, ascending power chords. After a brief bout of soloing, Trey then (briefly) unleashes some delay effects(!), causing the jam to break down. The band reenters the general “Bowie” progression at 9:20, but instead of racing straight towards a peak Trey instead displays patience in slowly but steadily increasing the energy of the jam until finally unleashing a torrent of shredding at 11:30. The jam peaks soon after and enters the composed ending. This “Bowie” contains easily the most exciting improvisation of the evening. An unamplified pairing of “Ginseng Sullivan” and “Free Bird” comprises the encore, of which only “Ginseng” I found a recording of.

Up until “Bowie,” I would say that “Stash” and “Reba” keep this show from being a total wash (and receiving a lower score). Most of this show feels to me like Phish going through the motions, and even though “Stash” and “Reba” are both very good, they still are less memorable than several other recent performances of the song. Phish saved the best for last, however, and do drop an impressive jam at the end of the second set by way of a dark, heavy “David Bowie.” Most of this show is definitely standard fare, but you definitely won’t regret giving this “Bowie” a listen should you decide to do so.

  • Show rating: 3/5
  • Highlights: “Stash,” “Reba,” “David Bowie

Show stats:

  • setlist
  • First set length: 62 mins.
  • Second set length: 73 mins.
  • Encore length: ~6 mins.
  • This is the first and last time Phish performed at the Tower Theater.
  • The longest gap in this night’s setlist is “Bike,” returning after a forty-nine show absence (8/2/93).
  • The best represented studio album is Hoist (4 songs).
  • One year ago today: 5/6/93 (Palace Theatre, Albany NY) – Rating: 5/5 – Highlights: “Split Open and Melt,” “Possum,” “Lawn Boy,” “Tweezer,” “Mike’s Song > Rocky Top
Posted in 1994, Review, Spring 1994 | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

May 4th, 1994: State Palace Theatre, New Orleans LA

Show #25 of spring ’94 marks the beginning of Phish’s speedy journey west across the continental United States, as they transition from the southern run of the last week or so to the west coast leg that will take up the remainder of the tour. The band spent two nights in New Orleans during their winter/spring ’93 jaunt, but limit their appearance in the city to just one night this time around. A trio of songs in heavy rotation begins the show, with a standard “Runaway Jim” beginning the evening’s performance. Trey sounds a little tentative at the start of his solo but is nice and warmed up by song’s end. “Foam” is next and nicely dynamic tonight, featuring the band breaking down to near silence during the transition between Page and Trey’s solos and staying there for some time. “Sample in a Jar” rounds out this opening salvo of tunes.

The most interesting musical moment of the evening so far comes with the following “It’s Ice.” The band has been extending the ‘underwater’ segment of the song to a couple minutes in length recently, but they push it even further tonight. The jam begins at 5:00 and instead of the full band dropping out as usual, leaving Page alone to solo, Trey instead messes with some funky wah playing. This leads the rest of the band step up, and a rollicking, driving full-band jam is underway by 6:10. This does break down at 7:00 to just Page, but Trey quickly steps back up with hard-rocking riffs. Unfortunately, there’s a loss of leadership at this point; neither Page nor Trey commit to leading the jam, and Fish comes in and out uncertainly. As a result, the jam slowly returns to the composed ending of the song at 8:10. Phish could have pushed even further here, but this “Ice” jam still contains a bit more meat than recent performances, and features a few brief segments of cool, full-band jamming.


The State Palace Theatre has seen better times

The band follows “Ice” with the one-two punch of “Sparkle > Axilla (Part II)”, two high-energy songs that keep the energy level very high at the midpoint of the set, before a true setlist surprise by way of the increasingly elusive “Tweezer” (not to mention the song’s truly rare placement in set 1 during this time). Despite the set one placement, “Tweezer” gets a full workout. The jam begins at 4:35 and immediately settles on a tense, ‘plinko’-esque groove consisting mainly of staccato, scratchy playing from Trey and a deep, monotone Mike bass groove. This breaks down into a half-time slog at 6:30, leading Trey to move into heavy metal chords. The band begins to emerge from this muck a couple minutes later, as Trey turns to actually melodic playing and begins to solo at 8:30. This solo works into a high-energy rhythmic jam that briefly returns to the “Tweezer” riff. The jam then airs out before Trey leads the band to a very satisfying peak/release from 11:40-12:20, at which point they return to the composed ending. I’m left scratching my head as to why the band isn’t playing this song more often; the song is still clearly inspiring them creatively. This is a very good “Tweezer” and an excellent first set jam.

“Lifeboy” emerges from the ending of “Tweezer,” working excellently here as a landing pad for the latter song. The set ends with a precisely played “Rift” and an early, booming “Tweezer Reprise.” The first half of this set, outside the neat playing in “Ice,” is pretty standard fare for this tour, but my ears perked up a lot during the second half. “Tweezer” contains a great, meaty jam, and the rest of the set flows well.

Set two begins with a relatively short and concise “Run Like an Antelope.” This “Antelope” jam begins with a couple minutes of moody, descending riffing from Trey that transitions into quick, dissonant shredding. Trey uses this shredding to lead the band through a couple of standard tension/release runs before reaching a final peak at 6:00. The reggae segment begins occurs soon after. Trey tells us during this portion of the song that his friend’s wife is giving birth to their first baby at this very moment, leading him to dedicate the song’s jam to the kid and to recommend naming the baby “Marco Esquandolas.” “Bouncing Around the Room” provides a pleasant bridge between “Antelope” and what is possibly the shortest “complete” performance of “You Enjoy Myself” I have ever heard. The composition of this “YEM” is good but standard, and Page’s solo begins at 8:10. He begins belting out an organ solo as normal, but is quickly joined on stage by the Cosmic County Horns, signalling the beginning of the third horns set of tour. There’s a minute or two here of funky interplay, but the song dissipates into silence not long after the horns take stage. I was hoping to hear a fully jammed-out “YEM” complete with horns, but alas, the band opts for a truncated version of the song instead.

The Cosmic County Horns sit in with Phish for the remainder of the set, and the result is a set that contains a lot of overlap with the two previous horns sets of tour. The same arrangements of “The Landlady,” “Buried Alive,” “Julius,” “Wolfman’s Brother,” and “Magilla” that we heard during the earlier Giant County Horns shows are all reprised here tonight. No doubt this was a lot of fun and exciting to witness in person, but musically there’s almost nothing new here after hearing those earlier shows. The highlights of this sequence are probably “Wolfman’s Brother,” which features an “Alumni Blues” jam similar to the 4/4 and 4/15 performances but collapses into a free-jazz freakout at the end, “The Landlady,” and “Julius” (the latter two songs really pop with energy due to the horns).


This short second set ends with the always-fun horns arrangement of “Suzy Greenberg,” which receives a little extra improvisational attention tonight. Page’s first solo (after one of the song’s choruses) gets extended and even briefly departs from the song’s structure at 4:00. Page starts to shift keys and the rest of the band backs off to give him some space. The horns then come in after a brief spell to push this interlude to a big peak at 5:00, signalling the transition back into the song’s verse. It’s a fun and notable digression for a song that usually sticks to a pretty strict script.

Phish thankfully makes up for the brief second set by playing the longest encore since the Dave Matthews Band sit-in on the 21st. The double-encore of the linguistically similarly-named songs “Caravan > Cavern” also features the Cosmic County Horns. “Caravan” is certainly stretched out, reaching almost 11 minutes in length, and gives just about everyone (Mike and horns included) a solo opportunity, but I also found just about all of the jamming in the song to be pretty unremarkable type-I fare. Trey introduces the brass section at the end of “Cavern” before sending the audience out into the New Orleans night.

If this were the first horns show of tour I would likely rate this show higher, but as it stands a good chunk of the second set is essentially a reprise of other sets from this tour, and I think few people seek out new Phish shows to listen to on the grounds that they attempt to recreate earlier shows. It is all enjoyable to listen to, however, and  “Wolfman’s” and “Suzy” do receive some extra flourishes that fans of the songs might find worth checking out. The first set is also quite good for the tour. “Tweezer” is notable for even being played at all, and on top of that it contains a great jam that journeys through darkness to reach a big, satisfying peak. So overall I wouldn’t call this a great show, but there’s certainly some neat stuff going on as well.

  • Show rating: 3/5
  • Highlights: “It’s Ice,” “Tweezer,” “Wolfman’s Brother,” “Suzy Greenberg”

Show stats:

  • setlist
  • First set length: 67 mins.
  • Second set length: 57 mins.
  • Encore length: 17 mins.
  • This is the first time Phish performed at the State Palace Theatre. They will return on 10/17/95.
  • The longest gap in this night’s setlist is “Buried Alive,” returning after an eighteen show absence (4/13/94).
  • The best represented studio album is A Picture of Nectar and Hoist (5 songs).
Posted in 1994, Review, Spring 1994 | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

May 3rd, 1994: Starwood Amphitheatre, Antioch TN

Phish’s debut performance at Starwood Amphitheatre was last summer, when the band played a show in the venue’s concession area billed as “The Veranda at Starwood.” Apparently the band was scheduled to perform at this smaller stage again tonight but the show was rescheduled for the main stage, capacity 17,000+, due to rain. The band will not return to the Starwood main stage until a fantastic show in 1999 (presumably then for a much larger audience). The band kicks off tonight’s first set with a rock solid performance of “Rift.” “Guelah Papyrus” is next, returning to the slot it was so familiar with just a year ago. The song was in heavy rotation last year but has since been slipping out of setlists; this is only the third “Guelah” of the year. Some signs of rust are beginning to show, perhaps because of this slipping out of rotation, and there are some timing issues in the song’s intro. These get worked out quickly, however, and the rest of the song sounds good.

“Maze” follows “Guelah Papyrus.” Both Page and Trey’s solos struck me as fairly standard tonight, though both solos are accompanied by some great, appropriately menacing drones. “Sparkle” bridges the fireworks of “Maze” and the improvisational waters of the next song, “Stash,” while also beginning an “S” theme that will last throughout the rest of the set. The “Stash” jam begins at 5:10 with some standard Trey riffing. Over the next couple minutes both he and Mike flirt with a major-key sounding mode shift in between bouts of traditional “Stash” shredding. These teases at a major-key shift are fun and create tension, but the band does not commit to leaving the “Stash” structure, and after a solid, initial peak at 9:00 Trey guides this jam towards the song’s composed ending. This is a solid “Stash” that shows the band testing the improvisational waters, but it felt more concise to me than most recent performances of the song.

“The Squirming Coil” is next, and is placed well here as a relaxing counterpart to the darkness of the previous “Stash.” A “Scent of a Mule” with a very short duel section follows, keeping the “S” theme alive, before a standard pairing of “Sample in a Jar” and “Sweet Adeline” ends the set. This struck me as a fairly pedestrian set for the tour. The songs are well played and strung together to create a decent flow, but outside of the standard “Maze” solos and a dip in the improvisational waters in “Stash” there’s very little jamming to be found here.


Phish chooses “David Bowie” to open set two, which is perhaps a sign that the band is willing to dig a bit deeper during the second half of the show. The intro to the song features a lot of tease silliness tonight, including a lengthy tease of “Sunshine of Your Love,” so the song’s composition does not begin until about 2:00. The song’s jam starts at 5:40 with very subdued dissonance before a more typical “Bowie” groove is established a minute later. The rest of the jam is a fairly standard build towards the song’s inevitable peak, though Trey does lead the band through a neat tension run from 8:50-9:20 during which he hammers on a low, dark note. Said peak is reached at 10:40 in satisfying manner, and Trey brings the song home soon after. Like the “Stash” in the first set, there’s some cool flourishes in this “Bowie,” but tonight’s performance falls short of being truly notable regardless.

Trey introduces Alison Krauss to the stage to help the band with vocals on the next tune, “If I Could.” Alison was the guest vocalist on the beautiful studio rendition of the song, and her performance tonight is similarly lovely. Together with Alison, the band turns in a near note-perfect rendition of “If I Could.” Turning from a recent debut to an old classic, a good but standard performance of “Fluffhead” follows “If I Could” before a similarly standard “Down with Disease.” This “DwD” features some of Trey’s best shredding of the set so far (the “Fluff” solo was very short), but the song as a whole clocks in at only 6:30 as the band hews to the blueprint for the song they have followed for the last month.

After “Disease” Fishman starts up the “Gumbo” beat, a song that has yet to be played this year, before quickly stopping and “formally apologiz[ing] for the false start.” Trey introduces the next song, “Harpua,” by saying that “Fishman wants to play this one.” Trey sets this “Harpua’s” narration among the “vines, volcanoes, and wild animals” of New Jersey, all of which are hidden behind the strip of factories lining the Garden State Parkway. Harpua is trained in this environment to “take revenge on the evil people of New Jersey.” This is accomplished, of course, through the killing of poor Poster Nutbag. Besides for the fun New Jersey flavor this is a fairly standard “Harpua” narration, notwithstanding some more fun “Sunshine of Your Love” teases during the segment where Jimmy puts a record on his record player. A standard but ripping “Chalk Dust Torture” follows “Harpua” before a “I Wan’na Be Like You > Hold Your Head Up” sequence devoid of any banter.

“Slave to the Traffic Light” brings an end to this set, and does so with the most impressive improvisation of the evening. Trey stays out of the beginning of the jam entirely, instead letting Mike and Page swim in a serene, ethereal, and ambient space. This goes for a good solid minute or so before Trey even begins his clean arpeggios. The jam then builds patiently into a blistering, euphoric peak filled with furious Trey shredding and trilling. Every “Slave” so far this year has been impressive, and this one is no exception. An excellent end to the set. The first double encore in about a week, “Nellie Kane >Fire,” sends the crowd home for the night.

The majority of this show struck me as middle of the road for this tour, particularly when taking into consideration the number of strong shows this southern run has produced. “Stash” and “Bowie” are both good, but they fall short of producing memorable jams, and “Harpua,” while fun, doesn’t stray too far from its ‘typical’ narration. “Slave” is fantastic, but ten minutes at the end of the show can only lift up my impressions of the entire performance so much. This is a thoroughly enjoyable listen, no doubt, but this southern run has given us a number of more interesting shows to dig into.

  • Show rating: 3/5
  • Highlights: “Stash,” “David Bowie,” “Harpua,” “Slave to the Traffic Light

Show stats:

  • setlist
  • First set length: 60 mins.
  • Second set length: 78 mins.
  • Encore length: 8 mins.
  • This is the first time Phish performed at the Starwood Amphitheatre. They will return on 7/1/99.
  • The longest gap in this night’s setlist is “Harpua,” returning after a thirty-four show absence (8/20/93).
  • The best represented studio album is Hoist (4 songs).
  • One year ago today: 5/3/93 (State Theatre, New Brunswick NJ) – Rating: 5/5 – Highlights: “Split Open and Melt,” “Colonel Forbin’s Ascent > Fly Famous Mockingbird > Vibration of Life > FFM,” “Possum,” “Tweezer > Manteca > Tweezer,” “McGrupp and the Watchful Hosemasters”
Posted in 1994, Review, Spring 1994 | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

May 2nd, 1994: Five Points South Music Hall, Birmingham AL

With the Florida run now in the rear-view, Phish will begin May by spending a couple more days in the south before finally starting to trek out west for the remainder of the tour. The band begins the tour’s only stop in Alabama with an unusual, but very Phishy, show-opening pairing of “Great Gig in the Sky > Split Open and Melt.” It’s rare to hear a joke Fishman tune as the first song of the night, but the band takes the stage with tongue firmly in cheek. Fishman’s vocal and vacuum solos in the song are a silly way to begin the show, but I kind of dig the change of pace in this slot (it’s so often a high-energy rocker like “Runaway Jim” or “Chalk Dust Torture”) and the crowd seems into it too. The vibe goes in a completely different direction with the following “Melt.”

The “Melt” jam begins at 4:10 with standard riffing from Trey for the first minute, at which point he transitions into a driving, palm-muted riff that the rest of the band uses to quickly ratchet up the intensity. They never come back down. Trey steps off the gas momentarily at 6:20, but that just leads to Page and Mike stepping up. Mike deserves a shout-out for excellent playing throughout this jam. Trey quickly comes back in with guitar wailing that gives way to high-energy “Melt” shredding at 7:00. The band is positively bursting at the seams of the song at this point, with the structure of the song only being loosely adhered to. Trey unleashes some downright demented playing to bring this “Melt” to a fiery peak from 8:00-9:00, before quickly rushing through the composed ending. While type-I and of modest length, the band simply morphs into an intense ball of energy in this jam, making it worth a listen and an early show highlight.


“Bouncing Around the Room” is as well placed here as it can be, serving as a pleasant landing pad from the intensity of “Melt.” The band quickly brings the energy back up with the following “Down with Disease,” which sounds good but also follows the same basic progression as every other “Disease” played this tour. The same can largely be said of the following “It’s Ice,” which is well-played but not too notable. The ‘underwater’ segment is a couple minutes in length and features some full-band interplay, but it’s almost entirely Page-dominated outside of a couple admittedly cool builds. A through-composed theme continues through the middle of the set with the following “Glide > Divided Sky” sequence. “Glide” sounds rock solid, and both great playing from everyone and an energetic Trey solo at the end makes “Divided Sky” a treat to listen to. (There’s no pause in the composition tonight as has been the case at some recent shows.)

A standard as can be “Suzy Greenberg” follows “Sky” before a rare, late-set placement of “Foam.” The song sounds good, but it contributes to the feeling that the back half of this set is very composition heavy. “Sample in a Jar” ends the set. This set starts very strong with a quirky opener followed by an intense and strong jam, but then drifts into more typical fare during the latter half of the set. That said, the band’s playing is strong throughout, and the set is overall a lot of fun to listen to. Set two holds a lot of potential.

For so long “Runaway Jim” was a go-to show opener, but Phish continues to experiment with moving the song around the setlist tonight by using the song to open set two. The beginning of Trey’s solo is not particularly wild, but he’s smoking by the last minute or so of the song. “Mound” takes the two slot, and chugs along at a good pace to maintain the set’s momentum. Yet another delightful “Reba” follows. The song’s jam begins at 5:50 with Fishman unexpectedly slowing the tempo down, then quickly speeding it back up. After this weirdness it doesn’t take long for Trey to begin to build up the jam’s energy. He darts in a straight line straight to a big, euphoric release at 9:45. Despite moving fast and sticking to the jam’s script, Trey’s playing is a delight to listen here and nary a note is wasted. There’s an argument to be made that “Reba” is shining brighter than any other song so far this tour (“Hood” and “Bowie” would seem to be the only other serious contenders), and this performance is another example of why.


“Golgi Apparatus” makes a somewhat unusual mid-set appearance after “Reba” before the band treats the audience to an exquisite performance of “The Lizards” that does a great job of anchoring the  middle of the set. The whole band sounds locked in throughout the entire song and, par for the course for the set, Trey lights up during the following “Julius” to deliver another shredding-fueled, hard-rocking peak. The “Gig in the Sky” show opener must have been a substitution for a Henrietta segment tonight, for “Lawn Boy” is instead the penultimate song of the set. The song doesn’t feature any banter, so immediately after Page’s crooning the band drops into the set-closer, a rare stand-alone “Mike’s Song.”

The “Mike’s” jam begins at 2:35 with Trey introducing to the stage guest bassist Oteil Burbridge (recently of Dead & Company fame). I have a high opinion of him due to his good work in Dead & Co. and he similarly blends in well with Phish here. He takes the lead for a brief while, playing very high notes on the bass so as not to step on Mike’s thundering groove, before Trey leads the group to a standard end to the first jam at 5:00. A second jam begins soon after, initially led by Page on the organ. A murky, tense, and dissonant groove is quickly established. There’s a lot of rhythmic play from here on out, with Oteil doing a great job of bouncing off the other musicians. A vocal jam begins before long, leading the jam into a sequence that sounds somewhat similar to the ‘bass and drums’ sequence of “YEM.” The jam starts to fade out at around 12:30 on my recording before whoever is drumming at the moment kicks into high gear to end the jam with a burst of energy. (According to this jam featured instrument swapping, though it’s hard to make out exactly who is switching and when on the recording). The guest musicians add some novelty to this “Mike’s” and make it a fun listen, but it’s ultimately a little one-note and not one I’m likely to return to much in the future. A standard “Cavern” is tonight’s lone encore.

This is a strong show from top to bottom, with only the back half of the first set veering into standard territory. The show starts strong with a fun opening “Gig in the Sky > Split Open and Melt” sequence, while the whole second set is a great listen with no song sounding out place. According to the setlist archive on tonight’s venue had one of the lowest capacities of any venue since last spring, and the intimate energy of the small venue comes through on the recording.

  • Show rating: 4/5
  • Highlights:Split Open and Melt,” “Divided Sky,” “Reba,” “The Lizards,” “Mike’s Song”

Show stats:

  • setlist
  • First set length: 71 mins.
  • Second set length: ~60 mins.
  • Encore length: 6 mins.
  • This is the first and last time Phish performed at the Five Points South Music Hall.
  • The longest gap in this night’s setlist is “The Great Gig in the Sky,” returning after a forty show absence (8/11/93).
  • The best represented studio album is Lawn Boy (4 songs).
Posted in 1994, Review, Spring 1994 | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

April 30th, 1994: The Edge Night Club, Orlando FL

The Florida run of Phish’s spring ’94 comes to a conclusion tonight with a venue last visited just over a year ago during the winter/spring ’93 tour. A standard but rocking “Chalk Dust Torture” gets the party started in Orlando, which is followed by a rare first set “Mound.” Like last night, the jams start flowing early in this one with an impressive “Stash” as song #3. The “Stash” jam starts at 5:20, and after some sparse initial space the band quickly moves into a psychedelic, melodic, and upbeat passage driven by interlocking Mike and Trey lines. Through some terrific modal work the band moves about as far away as possible from the tense feeling of the “Stash” progression without breaking the song’s structure entirely. This passage swells and then begins to quiet at about 8:00, at which point the mood begins to darken. Trey begins to direct the jam towards the typical “Stash” progression but the feeling remains contemplative and subdued. It’s not until 9:20 that Trey kicks up the intensity and drives the jam towards an intense peak through some ferocious shredding. I’m a sucker for an unexpectedly blissful “Stash” jam, and this one delivers that in spades almost immediately. A great jam to come so early in the show.

“Poor Heart” does its thing after “Stash” before an energetic sounding “Sample in a Jar.” “Punch You in the Eye” takes the set in a somewhat more serious musical direction and is (largely) well-played, and is followed by a rock solid performance of “Rift.” An acoustic, unamplified pairing of “Ginseng Sullivan” and “Sweet Adeline” brings an end to this very short first set, which Trey introduces by mentioning the venue is “very small.” After the marathon-length sets of the last couple Florida shows this one comes across as a bit light and insubstantial as a result, and indeed most of it represents ‘jukebox Phish’ with the band stringing together a lot of shorter tunes without much improvisation. All that said, this “Stash” is worth checking out and one of the most upbeat and melodic takes on the song this tour so far.


Florida runs mean pretty pictures

“Wilson” opens set two for the second time of tour. Similar to the last performance the band really drags out the intro to the song, as if egging the audience on to chant back “Wilson,” but the audience doesn’t bite. There’s some extra silliness strewn across this “Wilson,” but the ending of the song drops into the “Bowie” intro without much soloing or improvisation. This is the slot (second set, song #2) that produced a stunning “Bowie” less than a week ago in North Carolina, so let’s see if the band is willing to take the song on another wild ride here tonight. The intro to “Bowie” actually gets treated to a ludicrous amount of jamming tonight. Someone starts teasing “The Lion Sleeps Tonight” early in the “Bowie” intro, and a full-band jam develops around that song that features Fishman actually abandoning the hi-hat “Bowie” intro. The band plays around with the “LST” theme for several minutes before finally transitioning into the actual composition of “Bowie” at 5:03.

The “Bowie” jam begins at 8:45 and is notable for being unusually subdued for several minutes. After some standard initial space Trey begins to impress at 10:05 with quick, clean picking. A quiet, tense groove develops that is driven largely by Mike and Page; Trey sticks to contributing short bursts of clean notes. This swells, and then breaks back down with Page leading on his baby grand. The mood remains very subdued, and at one point this sequence devolves to just Page playing a few notes over Fishman’s cymbal. Mike begins to lay down a deep drone on his bass at 13:45 that reintroduces a menacing vibe to the song, which finally causes the energy to start to build. The jam swells into a ball of anarchic energy before crashing back into a typical “Bowie” progression at 14:55. Some appropriately intense tension/release passages bring this interesting jam to a satisfying conclusion before the “Bowie” ending begins at 16:55.

This isn’t quite the mind-melting “Bowie” from Charlotte on the 24th, but Phish nevertheless uses the song to once again impress. The “Lion Sleeps Tonight” intro is silly, but the actual jam to the song showcases some serious musical exploration, with the band probing into unusually quiet and subdued territory before building to an intense conclusion. The first “Wolfman’s Brother” since the notable performance of the song on the 17th follows “Bowie.” While not as fully developed as that last performance, the band does manage to fit in another self-contained jam into this “Wolfman’s,” though it lasts less than two minutes and consists of simple funk vamping. This song still has a lot of room to grow, but it seems clear at this point that the band is intent on the song having some sort of jam section in the song.


“Peaches en Regalia” emerges out of “Wolfman’s,” and while the song works well anywhere in a show, I think the placement here is particularly good with the song re-energizing the set after the languid pace of “Wolfman’s.” Another excellent “Harry Hood” anchors the middle of the set. The song’s jam begins at 5:35 with a subtle Trey drone. Page is reluctant to step up and fill the gap, leading the beginning of the jam to have a wide open feel. Clean, quiet Trey picking begins, which works into a “Lion Sleeps Tonight” tease at 6:40. The silliness of this tease contrasts poorly with the ethereal, delicate vibe of the jam to this point, IMO, but thankfully it is very brief and returns straight to the earlier mood. A very neat, ‘plinko’-esque passage then develops featuring Trey and Page locked into intertwining, dancing staccato melodies while Fish only lightly taps the cymbals underneath. This sequence lasts for a good length of time before a more traditional “Hood” build begins at 8:30. Trey kicks on the fuzz and momentum quickly builds, leading into a very satisfying peak beginning by 10:00. A flurry of trills at 11:00 brings this one home to the composed ending. This “Hood” features both some notable improvisation and a euphoric ending, making it another excellent performance of the song.

“Axilla (Part II)” provides some late-show rock before “McGrupp and the Watchful Hosemasters” makes one of its ever elusive appearances. This “McGrupp” is played very well and does a great job of carrying the show’s momentum. The band drops some more “Lion Sleeps Tonight” teases that, unlike in “Hood,” are amusing without being distracting. The band ups the tease game to truly ridiculous level during the following “Possum.” First Phish drops some more “Lion Sleeps Tonight” teases over the “Possum” intro, then early in his solo segment Trey proceeds to tease just about every other song the band has played that set, including “Wolfman’s,” “Peaches,” “Axilla,” and “Wilson.” Then, not to be outdone by this zaniness, Trey then returns to the high-quality shredding he brought forth during the “Hood” conclusion to bring the “Possum” to a frothy, raging peak. My opinion of “Possum” is almost always determined by the band’s execution of the song on any particular night, and the band (i.e., Trey) succeeds in using the song tonight to leave an exclamation point at the end of a great set.

Well, almost the end, at least. Henrietta gets some time in the spotlight with a “Purple Rain > Hold Your Head Up” sequence, while “Big Black Furry Creature from Mars” makes one of its bizarre set-closing appearances to bring an end to another long set two. This “BBFCM” does feature a funny exchange during one of the interludes: Fish yells at someone to “get off the fucking [drum] riser” and get out of the “drum zone,” before apologizing a minute later for swearing because “my mother’s here.” An audience member can be heard yelling a little later “what are you doing?” at the stage as the pause in the song stretches well past a minute in length. Good stuff. “Sleeping Monkey” is the lone encore tonight, appearing for the first time since last summer to end a gap that approaches bust-out status by my standards (50 shows).

The first set of this show is largely inessential but it’s also quite short, and it features a truly excellent “Stash” that is not to be slept on. The second set of this show, however, shines quite bright. It doesn’t have quite enough IT moments to reach transcendence justify a 5/5 rating , but it’s highly entertaining and contains signature Phish silliness (the extensive teasing of “Lion Sleeps Tonight,” “Possum,” “BBFCM”), exploratory jamming (“Bowie,” to a lesser extent “Hood”), and great setlist choices (“Peaches,” “McGrupp”). Between last night’s show in Clearwater and tonight, Phish is ending both their Florida run and the month of April on strong footing, sounding poised to drop more excellent shows during the second half of tour during the month to come.

  •  Show rating: 4/5
  • Highlights:Stash,” “David Bowie,” “Harry Hood,” “McGrupp and the Watchful Hosemasters,” “Possum”

Show stats:

  • setlist
  • First set length: 51 mins.
  • Second set length: 85 mins.
  • Encore length: ~9 mins.
  • This is the second and last time Phish performed at the Edge Night Club. They last performed here on 2/23/93.
  • The longest gap in this night’s setlist is “Sleeping Monkey,” returning after a forty-five show absence (8/2/93).
  • The best represented studio album is A Picture of Nectar and Hoist (3 songs).
Posted in 1994, Review, Spring 1994 | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

April 29th, 1994: Boatyard Village Pavilion, Clearwater FL

Phish’s appearance last night at the SunFest festival was not a one-off Florida appearance, but the mere beginning of a three night run in the Sunshine State that continues tonight in Clearwater. The band returns to the traditional, two set format tonight, and starts the show off on a fun note with the first show-opening “Halley’s Comet” since I began writing this blog. The bands sounds lively from the start, though the song lacks any sort of outro jam. That’s okay though, for they follow “Halley’s” with a second song “You Enjoy Myself!” Clearly the band means business tonight. Not only do they surprise everyone with an early “YEM,” the throw down what I would say is easily the best “YEM” of tour so far while doing so.

The ‘bliss’ segment and composed portion of “YEM” are fairly standard; Page’s solo begins at 8:10. He begins the jam with some entertaining funk playing that the rest of the band complements with an appropriate, almost menacing backing groove. Trey becomes more prominent at 9:20, but not to be outdone, Page pushes to an exciting, initial peak before letting Trey take over a minute later. At this point, Trey takes us into the most experimental music to come out of “YEM” in recent memory, as he spends the next several minutes actively avoiding a traditional solo. Instead, as soon as his segment begins, he unleashes dissonant, almost atonal playing. This together with some subtle and well-used delay effects lead the jam to slowly break down. The jam becomes a droning, dark ball of noise by 12:30. Trey slowly clutches his way back towards a traditional “YEM” groove by 13:20, but instead of driving for a peak, he lets the jam settle into a quiet, jazzy feeling. This segment approaches full-on jazz standard territory, swing rhythm and all, when Trey and others begin a vocal jam over the instrumental jam. The music shifts to dramatic power chords as the vocal wailing becomes more prominent, creating a truly fitting and ridiculous end to an exploratory jam. The band then settles into a driving rock riff that slows, breaks down, and transitions smoothly into “Fast Enough for You.”


Clearwater, FL

Wow! This is an awesome “YEM,” and even more incredible for coming so early in the show. “Fast Enough for You” is well-placed after this great jam, bringing everyone back down to earth following an excellent sequence of music. Recent debut “Scent of a Mule” is song #4. The “Mule” duel is already beginning to show signs of becoming more exaggerated, but is still being kept to a pretty reasonable length. The second “Sloth” of tour follows “Mule” (hmm..coincidence? perhaps not) before a mid-set “Divided Sky.” The emergence of the crowd/band interaction in “Sky” continues tonight, with the pause in the song reaching a good 20-30 seconds. Trey’s solo at the end of the song is decently long, though he doesn’t stray from his usual approach. Together with a solid take on the composition, this all makes for a solid “Divided Sky.”

A rowdy  “I Didn’t Know” follows “Divided Sky” while “Dog Faced Boy” serves as a breezy prelude to “Split Open and Melt.” The first minute or so of the “Melt” jam features typical riffing from Trey, but at 6:00 he takes a more melodic turn and leads the jam in an almost upbeat direction. After some psychedelic goodness here he unleashes dissonant, chordal mayhem at 7:30 as the band returns to more standard “Melt” territory. The tempo then quickens, Fishman yells some “Yeehaw!”s, and the band goes back off to the races. A tense jam develops with Mike teasing “Ice Ice Baby” extensively underneath. This quiets at 9:30. The band starts to return to “Melt,” but instead of finishing the song proper they instead transition into the first “Sanity” since 1992! I wouldn’t say this “Melt” is particularly great, but there’s a few interesting passages which combined with the bust-out of “Sanity” makes for a neat sequence. A fun pairing of “My Mind’s Got a Mind of Its Own” and “Llama” brings an end to a marathon length first set.

This is an excellent first set with unusual setlist choices and high quality jamming, particularly in the most interesting “YEM” in some time. Listening to this set it felt to me like the band just wanted to let it hang loose after playing to more mainstream audiences than normal during their last couple of performances. Let’s see if the band can maintain this momentum through set 2!

A standard “Suzy Greenberg” starts off set two in goofy fashion before the band takes a darker turn with the following “Maze.” “Maze” has been on a bit of a hot streak as of late, but this performance struck me as very middle of the road. Page’s solo is thoroughly run of the mill, and except for a couple of exciting, dissonant passages, Trey’s is largely the same. Not a bad “Maze,” but not particularly face-melting either. “If I Could” is next as song #3 of the set. The band continues to excel with their performances of this song, though the placement here early in the set after a fairly average “Maze” is not as great as it has been in some other shows this tour.

A mid-set “Reba” follows “If I Could,” providing Phish an opportunity to take this set in a more interesting direction. The performance of the composition is a little rockier than usual, but the band finds smooth seas once they come to the jam, which begins at 6:30. Trey comes in with clean, jazzy playing after some pleasant initial space. The jam begins to pick up energy at 8:30 and steadily builds from there. Trey unleashes his finest playing of the set so far in bringing the jam to a very satisfying peak, outbursts of celebratory trills included, from 10:10-11:30. This “Reba” is typical for this tour, but that simply means that this performance lives up to the very high standards set for the song at the moment, and it’s absolutely the highlight of the set so far. “Fee > Uncle Pen” follows “Reba,” and “Fee” actually contains a bit of an outro jam tonight. It begins at 5:05 with some light interplay between Page and Trey. This leads to a deconstruction of the Fee groove and a brief “Mule” duel-like exchange before the abrupt beginning of “Uncle Pen.” It’s a brief passage, but neat all the same.


The back half of the set is anchored by the first Mike’s Groove in over a week (last seen in Winston-Salem). The “Mike’s Song” jam begins at 2:38, and instead of dropping out initially as usual, Trey instead dives right into dark, heavy metal riffing. He sticks with this for a minute before shifting to a traditional first jam solo. He shows off some impressive shredding on his way to the jam’s initial peak, and the ending chords kick in at 5:05. A second jam starting in the “Simple” F key begins at 5:20. This second jam begins with a bouncy, rhythmic groove, but before long Trey reaches for the light and brings the band with him. A melodic, upbeat sequence driven by soaring Trey melodies begins, bringing bliss to this “Mike’s Song.” This peaks at 8:40 and fades out. Typical “Mike’s” darkness begins to creep back in, and the jam shifts back into a traditional “Mike’s” solo at 9:20, with the final set of ending chords coming soon after. This might not be the longest “Mike’s” ever, but the transition into bliss in the second jam is fluid and powerful, making this one worth checking out.

“I Am Hydrogen” emerges from “Mike’s.” Trey sounds loose here tonight, but it largely sounds fine. “Weekapaug Groove” is kept fairly short tonight and is entirely a showcase for Trey. The first couple minutes of the jam are thoroughly standard “Weekapaug” fare, but Trey turns it up a notch at 3:40 and brings “Weekapaug” to a satisfying peak. “Mike’s” is definitely the standout moment in this Mike’s Groove, but the whole sequence is entertaining and the most substantive feeling portion of the second set. Henrietta gets his moment in the spotlight after “Weekapaug” with a “I Wan’na Be Like You > Hold Your Head Up” pairing, while “Cavern” brings an end to the set. A lone “Fire” is tonight’s encore.

It’s always a somewhat odd feeling show when the best moment of the night comes in the first twenty minutes of the show, but that’s what we have here in Clearwater with a fantastic “YEM” coming right at the start. That’s not too much of a knock against the rest of this near three hour show, however; both “Reba” and “Mike’s Song” turn in high-impact jams in the second set, and there’s fun moments strewn across the two sets. This show doesn’t quite add up to the complete package that the Charlotte show was less than a week ago, but there’s a looseness across this whole night that’s a lot of fun. And seriously, probably the best “YEM” of the tour so far.

  • Show rating: 4/5
  • Highlights:You Enjoy Myself,” “Split Open and Melt > Sanity,” “Reba,” “Mike’s Song > I Am Hydrogen > Weekapaug Groove”

Show stats:

  • setlist
  • First set length: 84 mins.
  • Second set length: 80 mins.
  • Encore length: 5 mins.
  • This is the first and last time Phish performed at the Boatyard Village Pavilion.
  • The longest gap in this night’s setlist is “Sanity,” returning after a 201 show absence (5/17/92).
  • The best represented studio album is Junta (4 songs).
Posted in 1994, Review, Spring 1994 | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment