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. timmy Says:

    a wonderful article highlighting my favorite tweezer ever. this gem needs to be considered in the “best ever” category whether discussing pre or post-hiatus phish.

  2. SOAM Says:

    Phish In playboy–I’ve got Beaver Pheaver

    I’ll show you mine if…………….

    I am petitioning that during the first Tube all females- you know the 9 or 10 bettys out of 13,000 swords there.. bust out the phunsies and shake em down.

    Twist around thos hefty party sacs –whooo!

  3. Chalkdustin Says:

    One of the best, if not THE best, Tweezers. Love Trey’s sounds in this one. Right on, Miner. I’m groovin’ in my desk chair!

  4. Davey Says:

    So Mr. Miner = Dave Calarco = Bisco writer??????
    *back of head blows onto wall behind me.

  5. bhizzle Says:

    Nassau was one of the best phish shows I been to in long while. I had to be sitting right next to Vomax because he described my seat perfectly. Super to see Fishman play from that perspective. I d/l’d that show from livephish as soon as I got back from the city. And listened to that Tweezer over and over again. Then for some reason later down the road I dropped A Live One in the player and there was part of the jam in that Tweezer that sounded very familiar to the Tweezr on 2.28. Check it out. Compare. And let me know if I am crazy.

    Also, we stayed at the Not-So-Quality Inn a couple miles away and had a blast. People stealing all the ice from all the machines. We started a poker game outside are room. Then these few kids started banging on doors and running away and some big dude came out and freaked us all out.

  6. MangoMan Says:

    ohyea.. Phish IS in the new PLAYBOY.. haha I saw it this weekend.

  7. guyforget Says:

    hello fellow heads. Off the subject, but i wanted to throw something out there and get some opinions. Just returning to work today from a week long Maui vacation, which was nice and afforded me alot of reading time. I’ve been reading “Garcia” by Blair Jackson. Very good account of the band’s career, and i have say, i was struck by similarities of the Dead and Phish and the path of the second halfs of thier careers. I have always dismissed most similarities musically and personality wise, but there are some eerily similar aspects of these two bands. Too many to mention. Minus Jerry’s coma in the mid-80’s and the musical chair behind the keyboards, these bands followed a very similar career path as they matrured. Has anyone read the bood, if so, what are your thoughts?

  8. b23 Says:

    Some of the distortion effects Trey gets while in those boomeranging chords around 14-15 minutes make me wish that the band had taken up the challenge and given My Bloody Valentine’s “Loveless” a shot at one of the Halloween shows.

  9. bosevelt Says:

    I think that BOAF is smokin…..

  10. SOAM Says:

    Sr. Forget-I have read them all-Phil’s is probably the best “searching for the sound” but jackson really good too-highly informative-who knew garcia rode a moped and swam with St.Bernards in his pool-that he had a cleaning lady who was his hook-also saved his life and that he did not leave his 2 family home for 4 years (hmmm)

    the difference between the 2 bands is one could not stop the train-the other got off near derailment and seems to want to make things right.

    even simpler-garcia refused to listen to people who cared about him-hopefully that shaggy little red rocker has walked away from poli spring for good and hears we cares.

    “easy to get in-hell to get out”–big ol mule took a big ole dump.

  11. RobAins Says:

    Guyforget: I read Garcia about a year or two ago, and thought it was amazing. It really humanized Jerry. Blair Jackson is great, and I’ve been wondering if Phish (or any of the individual members, most likely Trey) would authorize a full on Biography. One with lots of interviews and behind the scenes info. I’ve read The Phish Book and know that that was fully authorized, but I’m thinking more along the lines of a 300 page book. Now that they’re reunited for who knows how long, I imagine the writing of any book is a ways off.
    What struck me the most about “Garcia”, was how strapped for cash the Dead were for what seems like their whole career! Constantly having to Tour in order to pay for the whole Grateful Dead business operation. (I think the boys did fine financially, but it was the salaries, etc. for all the roadies and folks at the main office) I definitely thought of this aspect of “Garcia” when Mike gave a recent interview. (Forget which one specifically, but Miner posted the link on here a few months ago) Mike mentioned how happy they were to be with the new Management company, b/c they now don’t have to worry about a whole slew of people besides the four guys in the band, plus a few others.

    You should also read Phil Lesh’s book, “Searching For The Sound.” That was a great read too.

  12. guyforget Says:

    That’s two votes for “Searching for the Sound”, will be on the to-do list.
    yeah, and how the JGB and Jerry’s solo work in the early 80’s partly were used to fund his drug habit.
    the similarities in particular: the hiatus, the drugs, the ticket disasters, the influx of new phans after Jerry’s coma, and the media attention thereafter (much like Phish 3.0), the lack of commercial success, the creation of their own record label, the evolution of the dead heads of the 60s to the while collar heads of the 80s, who could no longer tour full throttle, but take a week or two vacation and cathch them in cities close to home.

    That will be me from now on!!!!

  13. bhizzle Says:

    @ 3:55 – glowstick hits Trey’s guitar, hence feedback then Trey growls

  14. SOAM Says:

    the fans came because of the “touch” and they nearly wrecked everything-jimmy buffet poser rats.

    Most imp Jerry fact: he did 2 weeks clean with a live in health monitor at betty f and then asked to come home on his bday-jerry always got his way and it killed him.

    The people at betty f stated the only way he could leave was if he went in patient at a hospital b/c of all those health issues. he went to score and KFC.

    we better stop talking about Jerry or we will appear totally uncool for 3.0 and all the elitist d-bags out there

  15. guyforget Says:

    “Touchheads” – that’s great

  16. SOAM Says:

    I miss that fat bastard-he had “it” before anyone even knew “it” existed.

    beee with youuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu!

  17. Mr.Miner Says:

    ^ lots o people had IT before Jerry did

  18. bhizzle Says:

    I think it would be safe to say that if that fat bastard were still around physically those Dead tickets would be just as hard as those 3.0 tix.

  19. SOAM Says:

    oh really miner–name a musician who played more live music to more people-who else has provided a comparable amount of joy in any music genre-on that type of a level.

    You may not dig him-but if you love live music-spontaneous-everchanging-psychadelic exploration-wam jam power slam-there can be only one father.

    c’mon now

  20. full tour: announced! Says:

    any of the jazz greats filled that role…garcia just brought it to the masses packaged more like jazzrock…..and the jamband genre was born.

  21. Mr.Miner Says:

    ^I love Jerry’s music- I’m just thinking of the Harlem Renaissance and the early jazz-scene in NYC- Coltrane, Thelonius, etc…they surely had IT

  22. doctorfret Says:


  23. SOAM Says:

    jazz greats played in front of 30 people for a couple years- I dig jazz but even the jazz musicians who had it-it was harder to find and not as often and freely shared-did the jazz dudes allow taping?

    on another note Eddie Murphy rips in Dreamgirls!!

  24. full tour: announced! Says:

    any player that could jam on that higher output level and you can tell who they were just from hearing a few notes of their unique playing style had it. the ones like coltrane who could literally tell a story with their notes and phrases.

  25. SOAM Says:

    peace miner and co.-less than t minus 10 days until liftoff.


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