Five Epic Encores

The encore of a Phish show is usually an afterthought to the mayhem gone down just previously in the second set.  Most often a token song or two, there have been times that Phish developed something more significant to end the night.  Such examples of this abound, and some include the “Vernon Downs the House> YEM” before the Lemonwheel, 12.29.98’s perfect topping of “Divided Sky,” Alpine ’99’s bust-out trio of “Camel Walk,” “Glide,” and “Alumni Blues,” or the surreal pairing of Punch > Slave at Polaris ’98.  Yet,  these examples all remain within the conventions of standard Phish songs.  There have been occasions when encores have been one of the loftiest highlights of the show.  Below are five exemplary encores that blew the roof off of the place as the bus was warming outside.

12.30.97 MSG: Carini > Katy > Sally > Frankenstein

p1010087Possibly the most exciting encore ever dropped by the band, the context in which it was placed made it all the more magical.  Having played right though MSG’s curfew, the band decided to extend the night a bit more since fines had already been levied.  As Trey explained, they would continue playing through midnight- right into New Year’s Eve, joking that they would have two New Year’s shows.  Needless to say, the energy in the Garden immediately sky-rocketed as the possibilities were endless.  But in all the potentialities of what could come next, no one could have possibly imagined the reality.

A Beautiful Sight

A Beautiful Sight

As the band responded to the fierce anticipation, the heavy opening chords of the first U.S. Carini swiftly took advantage of the crowd’s adrenaline-fueled state, roaring from the stage with ferocity.  Juicing the 20,000 in attendance, the band tore through the song that everyone wanted to hear since they got the analog of its sublime debut in Amsterdam on 2.17.  As the militant textures eased, the band picked up on Mike’s heavy bass pattern, collectively entering two of the best minutes of music in history ,as the Phish metal smoothly segued into an ultra-thick and slowed down pool of dinosaur funk, morphing into “Black-Eyed Katy.”   With the molasses tempo, and Fishman layering some lyrics over the top, the Moma dance was conceived, not to be heard from again until it appeared reworked in Europe on 6.30.98.  As if this monstrous pairing wasn’t enough, the band took the funk instrumental and weaved it right into a “Sneaking Sally” reprise after they had opened the show with the Robert Palmer cover for its first appearance since the ’80s.  Sliding through the return of the rhythmic verses, the band finally put an exclamation point on their first “New Year’s” set, with a segue into a booming “Frankenstein.”  Ensuring a place atop lists of memorable encores, this segment of music was Phish at its most playful, on the eve of finishing one of the best years of their career.



10.27.94 University Hall, U of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA: Slave > Icculus, Tweezer Reprise

045Following a particularly zany ’94 show in which the band’s youthful absurdity was in full effect, Phish bust out perhaps the most intense encore ever played.  Following a show that featured such rarities as “Forbin’s > Vibration of Life > Mockingbird,” and “Big Black Furry Creatures From Mars,” not to mention a sublime “Tweezer,” and absolutely spot on improv all night long, the band saved something special for the end.

Starting with the delicate opening notes of Slave, the encore was underway.  Using characteristic ’94 tightness, intensity, and directional jamming, the band created a climactic soul-awakening piece.  Playing like there was no tomorrow, Phish absolutely slaughtered this succinct piece of improv.  Stunning in its beauty and passion, this Slave could have topped the show perfectly on its own, but out of the song’s peak, Trey began to thank the crowd as the band began to vamp over the changes of “Icculus.”  Trey told the the crowd “some things to remember” as they went out in the world.  As he continued, Trey absolutely lost his shit giving these instructions, screaming far beyond the top of his lungs, impelling the audience to “Read the Book!” in more ways than one.  This version is one of legend- you have to hear it.

The only thing that could have possibly topped the intensity of “Icculus” was the “Tweezer Reprise” they dropped with Fishman screaming in the background.  Jammed out beyond it usual couple minutes, the show could simply not have ended on a higher note.  This encore will have plenty to say to 12.30.97’s before any championship belt is awarded.



12.6.96 The Aladdin Theatre, Las Vegas, NV: Harpua > Wildwood Weed > Harpua > I Want To Be a Cowboy’s Sweetheart > Harpua > Suspicious Minds > Harpua, Suzy Greenberg

photo- Scott Bernstein (?)

photo- Scott Bernstein (?)

Needing to be on this list for pure spectacle if nothing else, the encore of the last night of Fall ’96 will always be remembered for its Vegas-esque cabaret show.  Featuring a troupe of Elvis impersonators, musical guests Les Claypool and Larry LaLonde of Primus, John McCuen, and the Yodeling Cowgirls, the stage was a veritable clusterfuck as Phish plus many more created a comedic thirty-minute story out of “Harpua.”  With Les Claypool’s “Wildwood Weed” rap, the Cowgirls’ song, and Fishman’s cover of “Suspicious Minds” all spliced into “Harpua,” the end of tour theatrics were ultra-special because they followed an insane Phish show, marking the band’s first visit to Sin City.  Jimmy had never been on an adventure quite like this before.



4.3.98 Nassau Coliseum, Uniondale, NY: Carini > Halley’s > Tweezer Reprise

Jamie Huntsman

4.3.98 - photo: Jamie Huntsman

Closing the famed Nassau portion of The Island Run, this encore was as fun as any.  All sparked by a stage jumper in “Loving Cup” which led to the “Carini’s gonna get you” Antelope explosion, the venue was absolutely going berserk when this set ended.  Granted the band had also just played a career-defining concert, but the massive surge of energy at the end of the show certainly came from this episode.  Had it not been for the stage jumper, the encore most likely would have taken another route, but with the building vibrating with enthusiasm, the band came out and dropped the second ever domestic “Carini” only three shows after dropping the first on 12.30.97.

Again, the show could have ended here, but instead, soaring on an emotional crest, Phish dropped into Halley’s, which instead of a jam cut right into Tweezer Reprise.  But there was never any Tweezer!  Breaking out their ultimate tool of adrenaline when it was most appropriate, they would follow up the improvised Reprise with a set-opening Tweezer in Providence the next night.  This Reprise would find Trey aggressively marching in circles on the stage, knowing they were about to finish one of the best nights of their career. (see video below)



8.9.98 Virgina Beach, VA: Terrapin Station

terrapin-stationFor their entire career, Phish endured constant comparisons to the Grateful Dead.  Only the second improvisational psychedelic rock band to constantly criss-cross the country with legions of hippies in tow, Phish spent their entire musical lives trying to distance themselves from their predecessors.  Regardless of how different their music was from Jerry’s crew, they could not escape the constant associations.  One result of this was that their Dead covers remained buried in their college days.

A white hot second set starred an all-time highlight “AC/DC” Bag opener, a extra potent “Antelope,” and a tremendous Summer ’98 YEM.  When Phish came out for the encore on the third anniversary of Jerry’s passing, no one knew what was about to happen.  The unmistakable opening chords of perhaps The Dead’s greatest opus filled the pavilion-  Phish was playing Terrapin.  Creating a dreamlike state, Phish worked through one of the Dead’s finest pieces.  Leaving many speechless far beyond the ending of the show, this  decision was colossally significant and symbolic.  Finally at ease with their own identity and unique legend, Phish gave a surreal and magical nod to Garcia above.  If there was ever a truly epic encore, this would most definitely be it.


What are your favorite encores? Respond in Comments below!



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11.23.97 LJVM Coliseum, Winston Salem, NC < LINK

240x240_557fab8bc629ecd086738f5bbdc17d23Last up in our outlandish week of 11.17-11.23 1997 is the Winston-Salem show.  Featuring perhaps the jam of the week in the darkest half-hour “Bathtub Gin” you’ll ever hear, the first set had the best “Black-Eyed Katy” of the fall and an evil “Stash.”  Great stuff all around. Grab it. Enjoy!

I: My Soul, Theme From the Bottom, Black-Eyed Katy, Sparkle, Twist, Stash > NICU, Fluffhead, Character Zero

II: Bathtub Gin > Down With Disease > Low Rider > Down With Disease, Bold as Love

E: Julius

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25 Responses to “Five Epic Encores”

  1. Joe England Says:

    Saw the 99 Alpine encore and it was silly. I was in Cinncinati one time and called a Suzy encore that left my friends shaking their heads. I think you could have left room to discuss the “mail it in” encore of Bouncin>Rocky Top. Also i wondering how people out there feel about a Squirming Coil encore. I love the song and and think it fits well as a closer but don’t care for the slow kinda of downer vibe at the absolute end of a show. Give me a Tweezer Reprise that leaves me looking for my face cause it just melted off.

  2. Matso Says:

    @ Joe England – Re: Squirming Coil encores: it depended on how sated I was by the show that preceded it. I loved it at 31/10/1994, I didn’t care so much for it on 7/6/00. It neither makes or breaks a show really. I much preferred it as a Set 1 closer.

    Interesting that none of the big festival encores merited a mention, although I appreciate the post is about ‘epic’ encores and not just peculiar ones. Clifford Ball – ambitious disaster; Great Went – burn baby burn (now that was a Tweez Reprise and arguably pretty epic); Lemonwheel – Baby Elephant Walk; Big Cypress – … ; and, alas, Coventry – epically bad Curtain With.

  3. Powder Lips Says:

    99′ Tuscon Reba, Axis was perfect

  4. Jacob Says:

    One encore I really like is Atlanta 98’s Runnin with the Devil>YEM. I’m a late to the party Van Halen fan, so when that pair comes up on the iPod, I’m psyched. “I live my life like there’s no tomorrow”

  5. ben f Says:

    wow, good picks. happy you called out 10/27/94, my 2nd show. that encore was amazing, as was the whole first set (esp Col Forbin>Vibe of Life>Mockinbird>Divided Sky>Horse>Silent).

    tho not quite epic, i agree 12/29/98 was a perfect encore to an epic 2nd set.

    also not quite as epic, but quick & surprising, was the nite before the terrapin encore, 8/8/98, the first Sabotage cover, at merriweather. the energy was amazing.

    thanks again miner!

  6. Matso Says:

    @ Ben F – right on! If Tweezer Reprise can count as epic, that Sabotage was beyond epic – it completely destroyed the place. I was absolutely stunned by that one and wandered out into the lots with my mind in little pieces.

  7. Jeff D Says:

    you forgot 7.30.03 secret smile 🙂

    12.29.98 was my favorite encore i saw. incredible placement after an amazing set.

  8. Jeff Says:

    Those are great encores. Out of my 69 shows, I haven’t been blessed with a lot of great encores. The only one that really stands out to me is the
    7-11-00 DeerCreek show. That had the whole Chalkdust Torture and Moby Dick craziness. I laughed harder at that show than any others. The band was clearly having a blast and the encore was the topping to a FUN night. E:First Tube > Moby Dick > Chalkdust Torture Jam^^
    ^^Reprise of the “Chalkdust Torture Jam” from the first set; afterwards; Trey said he hoped everyone who is camping has a good time, announces that “we are the Phish from Vermont,” and suggested that if people missed anything that they read the book or see the movie

    good ole Deercreek. that encore sent everybody back to campsites in a great mood.

  9. jerrydamule Says:

    I generally could do w/o a coil encore, particularly when my Divided Sky costume has deteriorated from so much dancing, that it is now at my ankles, and this is compounded by the realization that I did not win the costume contest (shocker). The whole 12/30/97 thing was epic. I had a hunch it was going to be epic after earlier chowing one of those ice cream wheels they sell at the garden. (i can still taste it now). Everything was melting during that show.

  10. Liam Says:

    “the stage was a veritable clusterfuck”. thats brilliant phrasing Mr. Miner

  11. ThinMan Says:

    great post as usual Mr. Miner – i was at the Vegas and it was one hell of an encore – a true spectacule

    for some reasons there are two more encores that stand out in all my shows – don’t know per se, but they just hit me in the right way and the right time (fyi, i am slow encore fan)

    something from greek ’98 and circus from gorge ’99

    beautiful, beautiful timing, great scene and perfect renditions

  12. hawkinbj Says:

    10.27.94 University Hall, U of Virginia, Charlottesville, NC:

    I think you mean Charlottesville, VA 😉 seeing as it’s the University of Virginia

  13. Ingrid Says:

    Just found the site through a friend and promptly subscribed, looking forward to reading your posts. I had chills just reading your post as I remember the 12.30.97 encore very well.

  14. Little Buddy Says:

    That Terrapin was the culmination of a really crazy day. The cops at VA Beach were getting rough with all the kids on the lot and there were several scuffles. Just after I had arrived that day I left my buddies that I was on tour with to go find my friends from home who I knew would be at this show. I shit you not – I was out of my car for no more than ten minutes when I came upon a bit of a riot between kids and cops and I was pepper sprayed by a cop on his bike. He just rode by me, sprayed me and rode on. WTF? I just arrived and am not one to get involved in any scuffles with the po-po so this was shocking, and incredibly painful. I was just walking by the mess and he sprayed me. The whole scene in VA Beach this day was just bad. Kids were actually afraid of not getting into the show because the cops were just so brutal. I clearly remember walking into the venue up a ramp lined with VA state police holding shotguns. This was a truly great show and packed with emotion after the rough day on the lot. I was by myself the entire show, dancing on the walkway at the back of the pavilion and I just remember feeling so overwhelmed when I heard the first lick of Terrapin. I was just 22 years old at the time and listening to this encore really takes me back. Man, I would just love to be back there. BTW – I was front row for the Sabatoge encore the night before (with the woman who would later become my wife) and it was ROCKING! The funk set on 12/30/97 truly was NUTS. Never danced so hard in my life. I was up on the third level at MSG and the place was just bouncing like crazy. Literally – the building was bouncing. The Sally opener is oft overlooked too, I think. Nice work Mr. Miner.

  15. Cary Says:

    That 4-3 Encore was fabulous….the show was one of my all time faves….the energy level changed 1000% after the guy ran on the stage and then jumped back into the crowd….i thought the roof was gonna blow of the Nassau Coliseum during Antelope.

    The encore was blistering………this was Phish at one of its tremendous peaks.

  16. Pauly Says:

    I agree with JoeEngland’s wonderment about Coil as an encore. As long as it’s not Velvet Sea, I’m a happy head.

  17. Pauly Says:

    And I was floored by the Moby Dick encore at Deer Creek in 99. One of the best I had ever seen.

  18. jesse Says:

    i know post-hiatus gets a bad wrap, but 12/29/03 had a pretty amazing encore. not so much because of the songs that were played, but because it was a true double encore. After playing waste, the band left the stage and the lights stayed down! the place was freaking out; it felt like the crowd willed the band back on stage! they obliged, and finished up a damn good show with a well played coil.

    that show was a treat from start to finish. seriously, who had a bad time at that miami run!?

  19. tubeopener Says:

    Great choices. I’ve only been fortunate enough to see about 60 shows but out of those I have been very fortunate to catch a lot of amazing encore’s. I saw the Sabatoge at Merriweather it was like the place just blew up. The Been Caught Stealing Encore 12/28/98 was a similar explosion, not quite as intense. I saw the Terrapin at VA Beach and that was the opposite, it was like everyone took a huge gasp at the same time and then everyone waa just quiet in disbelief, very cool. The Alpine ’99 encore was crazy due my state that night but it was a lot of fun and probably my only chance of hearing Alumni Blues alone much less with Camel Walk, Glide, and Tweeprise. I saw both the 12/30/97 encore and the 04/03/97 encore and both were astounding, i’m glad i’ve finally read a post that addressed the stagejumper at that show, i’ve never seen any reference to that and am glad to know I’m not crazy, it really added a vibe to the show and I remember a lot of people jumping the barrier to get onto the floor and the crowd cheering for them running from security guards. I also did see the Running With the Devil encore in Atlanta and that was really cool. So even though I wish I’d had the opportunity to see more shows, I really have been lucky to catch some special ones. Sweet post, I love reading this site. HAMPTON OR BUST!!!!

  20. Cary Says:


    That stage jumper really helped make the show….i mean it was a very good Phish show untill that point in Loving Cup but not as epic untill the guy leaped away from Carini back into the crowd.

    he set the energy to a new peak.

    The blistering Antelope followed by the obvious Carini (2nd time ever).
    Then Halley’s and the Tweeprize out of nowhere.

    I think we can thank the stage jumper for setting that night into a an epic frenzy

  21. Drinks>Chainsaw Says:

    Did someone jump up on stage in Hampton 03? What other show am I thinking of that someone jumped on stage at…… Or am I just thinking of that Nassau show. I could’ve sworn I have seen this more than once.

  22. theslider Says:

    ^^ 2/14/03 dude jumped onstage and started hollering how much he loved his girl. Freaked Trey out and brought an up till then killer Bag to a quick end.

  23. Eric from Jerzy Says:

    I agree with the encores named, and I know that it is hard to get it down to 5, so I give props to the list. Some of these really take me back, especially MSG 97, which was in my opinion the best show I ever saw (the McGrupp is nasty!). But one encore that definitely deserves merit was Alpine Valley 99- Glide, Camel Walk, Alumni, Tweepize- it just didn’t quit. Viola Lee with Phil was really fun too- I went nuts

  24. J.Campion Says:

    In response to post #14 by Little Buddy:
    I remember VA Beach being just horrible. The scene there really brought me down before the show. Never saw cops get that way with phans b4. Saw it a second time the first night in Holmdel,NJ 1999. Freakin nuts! But back to VA Beach…the show was great. But the Terrapin encore was awesome. I was moved. The moon that night stands out as well. IT WAS HUGE. The lyric “In the shadow of the moon” i think hit EVERYONE there hard.

  25. bryant bozarth Says:

    I’m so glad I just found this site and don’t know how I’ve missed it for so long … once Andy’s went down I may have tuned out Phish on the web…anyway, I was at the 12/30/97 show and blah, blah, hundreds more…its easiest to pick a “best” ….wherin picking the best show is much more subjective, even to myself, and on any given day, impossible to pick (well maybe 2/14/97, 12/29/95, 10/31/95) …12/30 was a great show, and no doubt top ten I ever witnessed and then to get an encore when you really only expected something simple and short and would be thrilled …well we all should have pitched in a buck after the show to pay for the fine …mind you I’m convinced the boys were throwing a bone to all those who didn’t have tix for the next nite, clocking in for a little overtime for the fans, as I said at the time …thats why you love’m …it was all so beautiful an encore

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