The Nassau Tweezer

Nassau 2.28.03

Nassau 2.28.03

As the Cincinnati weekend came to a close, fans dispersed back across the country with plenty of tales to tell.  With only three shows before Nassau, the date that everyone had circled on their calendars when this tour was announced, Phish’s winter momentum was snowballing.  Two nights after a hot show in Worcester, Phish returned to the scared stomping grounds of Nassau Coliseum- the site of half of The Island Run and, more significantly, the divine events of 4.3.98.  Having stopped there only two other times in 1999, for a pair of wholly underrated shows, the communal anticipation of something huge in Nassau was building.  And huge would turn out to be an understatement.

The first set shone with the band’s second consecutive top-shelf  “Gin”- the first since Cincy’s standout escapade- and the eternally sought after oldie, “Destiny Unbound,” played for the first time in 791 shows (11.15.91).    The overwhelming excitement following this set filled the arena, and had it buzzing like a hornet’s nest during the break.  Yet when people eventually left the Coliseum on this last night of February, their memories would hardly be focused on the first set.

030228_stubHaving only dropped one “Tweezer” thus far on tour- a monster version in Chicago- Phish was due to break out one of their most popular jam vehicles.  As fans assumed their places for what was obviously going to be massive set, the opening lick of the song bled from Trey’s Languedoc.  Boom!  Just like that,  we were amidst a set-opening “Tweezer” that was most certainly heading to great places.  Where- we didn’t know- but there was an overwhelming aura of greatness that surrounded the composed section of the song.

Nassau 2.28.03

Nassau 2.28.03

As we prepared ourselves to enter the Freezer, Phish built up the maniacal, noisy peak before we collectively took the plunge.  As the final phrasing of the melody oozed into the jam, the feeling of potential was limitless.  Jumping right into some lead melodies, Trey joined the band’s directional groove right off the bat.  Moving briskly, Phish pumped through some quintessential “Tweezer” textures before beginning to build the improv outwards.

In a break that left the drums and bass both prominent and reverberating, the music took a distinct turn into the second part of the jam. Feeling the way he wanted the music to move, Trey hopped into the fray with some authoritative leads.  The totality of the jam possessed a laid back vibe as Page tickled the Rhodes in the background and Mike bounced some relaxed patterns.  Trey took front and center, guiding this section of the improv with some quality licks that charted the band’s course.

508809808_6a5329e1c4Soon the music became far quieter, with each member taking their sound down a notch, as Mike and Fish’s mellow, yet popping, groove kept things on track.  It was this moment that set the course for the most triumphant musical passage of the entire winter tour.  With one chord, atop this minimal groove, Trey revved his psychedelic lawnmower, creating a distorted sound that seemed to vibrate and echo like a bizarre elastic band.  The band responded to each guitar chord by slightly shifting their ideas, filling in the space by complementing Trey’s sound.  It was at this point that Trey used an incredibly unique effect and played a series of chords that belonged in a post-modern collage, entering the band into yet a third section of this “Tweezer.”

From this point, the band’s musical ideas fused together as they began to move as one entity.  Mike and Page were straight killing it here, as Trey conceived his next move.  What came next out of his guitar would be a spring of gorgeous, spontaneous melodies that give me the shivers to this day.  This was one of those spectacularly surreal moments that only occur at Phish shows.  The entire band understood what needed to happen and wrapped their groove around Trey’s confessional, creating some of the most sublime music of the year.

Nassau 2.28.03

Nassau 2.28.03

As Trey moved right from these awing melodies into a pattern of distorted chords in which he would echo himself, the band truly hit their stride.  This was the bliss we chased across the country.  This was IT;  this was what we believed in.  This was the reason for it all.  The crowd was engulfed by the cosmos, as the universe’s energy, channeled through our four superheroes, rained down upon us.  Trey moved on to some spectacular and divergent playing in which he threw a beautifully dissonant musical boomerang around the venue; each time he caught it, throwing it higher into the rafters.  This section developed into one of the classic passages of music in the band’s history, as its unique playing and spiritual feeling was a revelation to the entire Phish world.

As this section of other-worldly music wound down, one had to presume that the band would wrap up the “Tweezer.”  But it took them less than a minute to transition into a completely different jam all together!  In some far more grounded improv, Phish entered faster, more straight ahead playing that seemed like it had come from a totally different song altogether, perhaps a “Piper.”  The band would gradually meander their way to some bluesy rock and roll, eventually morphing into a scorching jam around Peter Frampton’s “Do You Feel Like We Do?”  Bringing the song to a second, and completely different type of peak, the band chugged forward, knowing what they were in the midst of creating.

511607974_7b50588edbRarely do Phish songs get two distinct jams, but this Nassau “Tweezer” was an anomaly, boasting three completely different pieces of connected improv.  The central jam was so psychedelic and stratospheric that the band decided to slide people back to earth with another ten minutes of improv.  Eventually- a half-hour after it started-  this “Tweezer” turned into heavily muddied sound effects without a beat, signaling not only the end of the jam, but the oncoming drop of another song, as they sustained these effects for well over two minutes.

Out of the depths came some delicate reggae chords from Trey.  What was at first disorienting turned celebratory as the band glided aboard for the second-ever “Soul Shakedown Party” (2.17.97).  Phish clearly recognized how special the evening had become, and gave the nod by dropping the Marley cover out of the deepest part of the show.  As we all know, the band moved right into a hugely sinister “Bowie” out of this reggae interlude, but that is a separate article for a separate day.

001fThe Nassau “Tweezer,” in my humble opinion, stands as the greatest relic from Winter 2003; and can hold its weight in any “all-time” conversation.  A definitive piece of music of the post-hiatus era, this jam sits right at the top of any 2003 compilation.  Signifying their emerging musical direction that would be furthered come summer tour, this “Tweezer” was a masterpiece.  Phish had made quite the return to the hallowed grounds of Nassau, and with one show left in their comeback run, things looked as promising as ever.



9.24.00 Target Center, Minneapolis, MN < LINK

Target Center, Minneapolis, MN

Target Center, Minneapolis, MN

Here is a highlight from the much-maligned tour of Fall 2000.  While Phish may have been losing steam, they still had what it took to pop out legitimate shows- this being one of them.  The second set opened with a fabulous funk turned ambient excursion of “Cities” which wound its dark path into “Free.”  This show also saw the welcomed return of Velvet Underground’s “Cool It Down” for the first time since Halloween ’98, as one of seven covers played this night.

I: Mellow Mood, Chalk Dust Torture, Back at the Chicken Shack, Sparkle, The Sloth, The Divided Sky, Roggae, First Tube, Punch You in the Eye, Sample in a Jar

II: Cities* > Free, Ya Mar, Carini, Lawn Boy, HYHU > Love You > HYHU, Cool It Down, David Bowie

E: Fire

*w/ ambient jam with Trey on keyboards.
Source : Schoeps m222/mk41 > nt222 > AD-1000 (Ken Rossiter)

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118 Responses to “The Nassau Tweezer”

  1. Matso Says:

    @ Contact420 –

    “But I have to remind myself that almost all of you hadn’t seen Phish before ‘95 and none of you saw them before ‘92 like I did. Perspective is word”

    Is this really necessary? What does it matter?

    I read this blog every day and I don’t think Phish 2.0 is favoured over 1.0. We’re all either very well versed in the band’s history, or gettting there by educating ourselves with Miner’s help. We turn our attention to all eras, as long as there’s IT.

  2. Hooks Says:

    I’ve solidified my plan to go solo Fri. without a ticket from Charlotte. My weekend helped accomplish that much. the thoughts about it were swirling around this morning. So I’m sitting drinking coffee early this morning downtown in a little atrium table seating area and I hear an unmistakable lead guitar sound. I get up and walk over to hear oo oo wa ahh comming from the system?! nice! a sign!

  3. Jeff Says:

    contact – that is the headiest thing i’ve seen on this blog yet. i for one saw them first in 94, but find myself talkign about 2003 often as I enjoyed that Winter 03 tremendously. Plus, reflecting on music 6 yrs old vs 15, makes more sense in the current Phish climate. I can talk about 95 Phish, but quite honestly I enjoyed 97, 98, some 99 and some 03 more than 95. and I saw 15 shows on 95 Fall tour. You should start a blog for show talk pre 96 only and maybe we’ll join you?

  4. full tour: announced! Says:

    plus…by the time the band got to the final leg of the tour (centrum, nassau, and greensboro, they had shed any post hiatus rustiness and were firing on all cylinders.
    Each of these shows has at least one or two HUGE centerpiece jams that showed the boundless energy and loose dirty precision of the new 2.0 dirty dirty sound.

  5. A_Glide Says:

    The tires are the things on your car that keep contact with the road.

    My tires did not keep in contact with the road this morning and I slammed into the back of a Honda. That wasn’t headie either.

  6. SOAM Says:

    I’ll be firing all cylinders of all types come set one – night one – round three.

    bap boom

  7. SOAM Says:

    I hope you left your vehicle and immediately hitchhiked to Hampton-the lot is raging

  8. Wilfred Brimley Says:

    I just listened to this tweezer for the first time yesterday and after beginning to question it’s validity early in the jam, I definitely liked it and will listen a few more times to get to know it a little better… In my personal opinion, I don’t really get the hype for the SPAC Piper…I’ve listened about five times now and it seems sloppy, and aimless at points to me…Different strokes for different folks I guess…My favorite jam of 2004 has to be the Twist from Vegas- ridiculous peak. Favorite post-hiatus jam in general is the Crosseyed 2nd set opener from Post Gazette Pavilion-theres about a 4-5 minute section late in the jam that is some of the best Trey playing EVER…Period

  9. SOAM Says:

    all the fat jams aside-Tweezer blows-least favorite of all time-every one.

  10. SOAM Says:

    gimmie a 30 second tweeprise and I am good

  11. Los Says:

    @ contact

    I saw phish before ’95 and still think Nassau WAS it!!!

    but hey ur WAY cooler than me!!!

    @ John Campion

    I got tickets from ebay

  12. Frankie Says:

    Listened to that Tweezer again this morning on my walk/subway ride to work in anticipation of the article! Great great jam! Not enough Mike on my copy though… 🙁

    7 degrees in Montreal today…

    “Won’t you step into the freezer” indeed…

  13. Matso Says:

    @ Frankie –
    I tried to get in touch with my friend but haven’t had an email back yet (we float in and out of contact a bit). I’ll let you know if I hear anything.

  14. Wilfred Brimley Says:

    Yem is probably my favorite song and I don’t here much talk about many outstanding versions post-hiatus…Thanks to Miner and all of the comments i’ve been reading, i’ve been listening to alot more 2.0 shows and I would love to here about any ridiculous YEM’s I could download…

  15. Frankie Says:

    Thank you Matso! I appreciate it! 🙂

    Let me know if you plan to come to Montreal this summer, we could hook up for some shows…

  16. kevin are hollo Says:

    it’s always funny to me when folks get all riled up about who-saw-what-when, fetishizing dates and history as a way to speak on current events.

    while i agree with jeff above, saying “reflecting on music 6 yrs old vs 15, makes more sense in the current Phish climate,” the whole things boils down like this: it’s difficult to talk when you speak different languages. those of us raised on the noisy, punky, free-jazz metal explosion orient ourselves around that sound, even when digesting other musics. at least, this critic does. people whose seminal experiences centered on what is essentially funk or rock music will orient themselves towards those sounds.

    i for one LOVE dance music, i’m a dancer by vocation and it’s hard to find a better vehicle for that than funk. but you won’t find me fetishizing songs or playing from 2003 or 2004, cuz i’m just not centered like that. and to the guy who said phish has nothing to prove, or that there’s no need to legitimize themselves this time round? sorry, but when you devote yourself and your life to an art form, and invite the public to bear witness, and have a profound effect on the creation/dispersion/absorption of pop music as a whole, you damn well better make it good.

    or else the critics’ll getcha!


  17. cottle Says:

    Phunky Son,

    In repsonse to your question, pretty much every show played post-hiatus is available directly through for download, and they’re all soundboards. If you don’t want to pay $10 -$13 per show to download them, check out That’s a great site where you can find folks to trade shows with (but you’ll be getting audience tapes rather than SBD’s). In my opinion, i usually like the AUD’s better, becuase they have a little more life to them. the soundboards usually sound like their missing something, but again, this is just my opinion.

    Hope this helps.

  18. gills Says:

    Phunky you can go to www. they have over 1000 shows for you to chooses from. I beleive they have the entire post hiatus your looking for, check it out……
    Damn I wish I was going to hampton, was there in 02 , the entire city turns into one giant party…….

  19. gills Says:

  20. hawkinbj Says:

    Right on, Miner – right on.

    I can’t say enough about this tweezer. I still remember the first time heard it; completely melted my face off. I was in my car making a long trip at the time and had to pull over and think about what I’d just heard – and wipe the goosebumps off my arms! To me, it sounded so good that there was no way it could have been improvised – it was just so tight and perfect. I was incredibly surprised because I hadn’t really been impressed with 2.0 all that much

    To this day – all years included – I still reference this as my favorite tweezer.

    Thanks for great post Miner!

    Itching for Hampton,

  21. gills Says:

    Did anyone read or look at this months issue of Playboy. they have a little picture and aticle about Phish, and the jamband scene as a whole. they had interviews with umphrey’s , Bobby and some others. I bought the issue because a chick i went to high school with is a centerfold, she wasnt that hot in school, late bloomer i guess

  22. kevin are hollo Says:

    FYI, the site is down, whether temporarily or permanently i have no idea.

  23. Jonathan Says:

    Bitches don’t know bout my diabetus!!

  24. snigglebeach Says:

    This was an epic show from start to finish.

    Only show i ever went to by myself. Had an awful seat in the rafters and before the first song was over i noticed a ticket on the floor walked on and trampled, didn’t pick it up right away, but eventually grabbed it. floor Sec3

    The Destiny Unbound was epic. The gin jam is amazing changing gears at tleast 3 times and that is the Tweezer that all others need to be compared to. I personally have seen tweezer so many times i tend to be annoyed when they start it. i was that night at first. but by the 15 min mark you have to ask yourself what song they are even playing.

    @ notkuroda. Think you are on to something there. Miner is holding out on us. (not that i blame him) Pretty cool. Going to see Biscuits saturday night. can not wait.

  25. Wax Banks Says:

    This Tweezer is lovely; oddly enough I listened to it in full yesterday for the first time in a while, and was briefly confused in a ‘Why the hell don’t I listen to this thing, like, daily?’ sort of way.

    That said, this Tweezer – particularly the sublime IIIb-VIIb-IV guitar declaration everyone j-bombs over – reminds me of something that’s frustrated me in the past with Phish. Mike’s an incredibly sympathetic and responsive bassist, yet at these grand transitional moments he’s often the last one into the new changes. (From memory here, alas.) Trey throws out a new three-chord progression, and when Mike comes in, it’s a one-chord vamp with the traditionally Phishy implied Vmin or VIIb. (cf. How the D-A-G jam in ‘Hood’ often melts into a D-(hinted-A)-G.)

    Goddamn it, I wanna hear those chords, Mike! The full band locking in, even if only for five seconds! The best-ever ‘Limb By Limb’ – SPAC ’04 – is actually improved by his reticence, as when he finally does leap onto the train and starts playing the root at each measure of the climactic four-chord jam, the explosion is all the more intense because of how patiently it’s built up.

    I just don’t need Rock’s Last Shag up in there cockblocking me, is all!!


    OK enough nonsense for today. Dunno why I’m giddy. Glad to think about this ‘Tweezer’ I suppose!

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