Hampton (A.Kuroda)

Hampton (A.Kuroda)

Of all the musical genres in which Phish dabbles, reggae is, perhaps, the least significant. With mere passages of “Harry Hood” and “Slave” flirting with a roots-based groove, “Makisupa Policeman” is Phish’s lone original foray into the genre.  A relic from the band’s stonier days, “Makisupa” is actually the first known publicly played Phish original, making its debut on 10.23.84. Mentioning this fact in Philadelphia on 11.29.03, Trey also also noted that its lyrics were written by Tom Marshall as a kid. Though it was the “original Phish song,” the band’s homage to ganja has been somewhat of a rarity throughout their career. Always eliciting comedic cheers with Trey’s chosen “keyword,” “Makisupa” is Phish’s only musical reference to many fans’ recreational smoke. Usually highlighted by the creative dub lines of Gordon, this song has played multiple roles throughout Phish’s career.

makisupa_policeOne way that “Makisupa” has appeared in Phish shows has been as a set opener- accounting for about half of its appearances dating back to December ’94. Furthermore, many of these set, and show, openers have paved the way for outstanding stanzas in high profile shows. Examples include Worcester 12.29.95, The Clifford Ball 8.16.96, The Great Went 8.16.97, The Spectrum 12.28.96, and The Gorge 7.17.98. A relaxing way to ease into a set, Phish usually kept these versions succinct, juxtaposing them with something far more intense, as in the popular combination of “Makisupa > Maze.” Below are two examples of set-opening “Makisupas” with their accompanying pieces.

Makisupa > Maze” 12.28.96 II


Makisupa > 2001” 8.16.96 III

photo - beforeandaftermusic.com


A second use for Phish’s quasi-reggae composition emerged in 1995—a landing point for, or an interlude between, adventurous psychedelia. Instead of employing the mellow music as a lead-in to something big, or simply within a string of standalone songs, Phish began to use the reggae rhythms as a gentle pillow from raucous exploration. Three illustrative examples of this “relieving” use of “Makisupa” came on 7.2.95 at Sugarbush out of a grinding jam in “Runaway Jim,” 10.22.95’s at Champaign in “Tweezer > Makisupa > BBFCFM,” and Dayton’s 11.30.95 Nutter Center performance of “Tweezer -> Makisupa -> Antelope.”  Once the late ’90s hit, “Makisupa” was used  far more sparingly in this role.

Tweezer -> Makisupa -> Antelope” 11.30.95 II


3.1.03 (P.Lucks)

As the years moved on, Phish devised a third tactical use of “Makisupa”—the developed second set version, as typified by the song’s seminal rendition on 11.19.97 in Champaign’s Assembly Hall. At times, Phish treated the song as a springboard for contained improv, especially in 1999 when Trey added a keyboard to his set up.  Instances during that fall where the band stretched the reggae groove out a were 9.28.99 in Pelham, AL, 10.4.99 in Normal, IL, and Hartford Civic Center’s version on 12.12.99.

Makisupa” 11.19.97 II


Makisupa” 9.28.99 II


Though not used too frequently over the years, “Makisupa” always seems to pop up at the right time. To begin a hot summer evening or to conclude a dark extended jam, “Makisupa” is more often than not placed in a show with care.  Because, hey, when you’ve only got one reggae song, you’ve gotta be careful what you do with it!



12.12.99 Hartford Civic Center, Hartford, CT

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1999-12-12moThis is a dark horse show within a red-hot December ’99 run.  Featuring a show-defining “Drowned,” a standout “Caspian,” and a blistering “Antelope,” this show somehow slips through most conversational cracks. This show also carried a heavy first set “Stash,” and a subject appropriate, mid-second-set “Makisupa.”

I: Heavy Things, AC/DC Bag, Strange Design, The Divided Sky, Beauty of My Dreams, Bug, Stash, Chalkdust Torture

II: Drowned > Prince Caspian, The Squirming Coil, Makisupa Policeman, Run Like an Antelope

E: Runaway Jim

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140 Responses to ““Dank.””

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  1. rusty Says:

    nice article… would have liked a section on some of hte more memorable key words that have gone down in the past… anyway you could add something like this?

  2. Myhkel Says:

    …And a fouth(?) use of the key word as in the 7-25-99 Deercreek … #Keywords were “gooballs, brownies, stink kind, nugs and kief”; Trey announces lighting director Chris Kuroda’s birthday and asks everybody to sing; Trey interrupts “Happy Birthday” to say, “We’re going to get you so wasted tonight”; Mike takes a “Happy Birthday bass solo” and a Chris Kuroda “Light solo”.

    Soundcheck: Mike’s Song, Back at the Chicken Shack, Beauty of my Dreams, Day Tripper, (more?)

    1: Meat*, My Friend My Friend -> My Left Toe -> Whipping Post**, Makisupa Policeman#, I Saw It Again, Boogie on Reggae Woman, Cavern## (1:03)

    2: Birds of a Feather^ > Walk Away, Run Like an Antelope^^, Suzie Greenberg^^^, Hold Your Head Up > Purple Rain### > Hold Your Head Up, You Enjoy Myself+

    E: Loving Cup (2+E 1:30)

    First time as show opener; bass solo. **Trey on vocals. #Keywords were “gooballs, brownies, stink kind, nugs and kief”; Trey announces lighting director Chris Kuroda’s birthday and asks everybody to sing; Trey interrupts “Happy Birthday” to say, “We’re going to get you so wasted tonight”; Mike takes a “Happy Birthday bass solo”; Fish says, “You roll up a fat spliff and you don’t pass it to no one” (in a Jamaican accent); Kuroda takes a one-minute silent light solo, then thanks the band for the birthday wishes after “Makisupa.” ##Trey waves guitar to produce feedback. ^”My Left Toe” teases. ^^”Stash” tease; with glowrings. ^^^With Page start/stop jam; “I Wish” (Stevie Wonder) teases. ###Fish forgets lyrics; improvises. +”Boogie on Reggae Woman” jam.

    Deercreek 09…almost guaranteed some special Kindness…

  3. ColonelJoy Says:

    Here’s something I thought about before the Hampton shows:

    Assuming Trey’s sobriety includes prohibition of reefer in any form, and that is a safe assumption (he must have been getting tested, and it is the easiest to test for), how will that change the drug reference in Makisupa? There was no Makisupa in Hampton, but I imagined something like this:

    “Woke up in the morning…..twelve step program in my head/bed…somehting to that effect.”

    Now, Fluffhead has the POWERFUL PILLS line, but that is not improvised, so of course it would remain….but what about the Makisupa reference….

    yeah, 7-25-99 is sick…awesome show…Whipping Post rips it up!!

  4. Baxter Says:

    Happy 4:20 people! I think Trey must still condone weed usage, didn’t y’all notice at Hampton during Antelope, he said “Bid you to have any SPLEEF, man? Run, run, run, run,run, etc.”

    Who’s got my Phenway 4 Phace?

  5. c0wfunk Says:

    woke up in the morning ..

    mr. miner

  6. ColonelJoy Says:

    By the way, being in Iraq….I don’t get back to the states until 22 OCT….any fall tour rumours about? Maybe a 10-31 somewhere? Fall will be my first chance to catch any shows. I’m patient.

  7. Read Icculus Says:

    …at Hampton I thought Undermind had a little reggae kick taboot.

  8. RobAins Says:

    ColonelJoy:: The same guy who told me about Fenway, Red Rocks, Fox etc. waaaay before I even heard the rumors on this site, swears that whatever they’re calling the Knickerbocker Arena in Albany these days, has been booked for 10/31. Spectrum > MSG > Knick > Worcester anyone????

    Stay safe in Iraq!

  9. Pence Says:

    I wanted to make a donation to Miner but dont have the cash, so Im dong this. If you want a Fenway, please take a look.


  10. bhizzle Says:

    Yes! Happy 4:20 indeed dee!

    That 7-25-99 setlist looks nasty. I would have loved to see Kuroda’s light solo, haha. wtf?!?!?! Those boys are f’d in the head sometimes.

    @RobAins – I see your boys got Mule this summer instead of moe. Nice replacement. I was thinking of going, but not sure cuz I heard Mule will be playing for free over here in the ROC the day before. I don’t know if I can wrangle two nights in a row from my better half without her.

    @Minor – I know you said before how you’ve gotten away from MMW, but Friday was something else. I’ve seen my share of them, but this show was all new to me. No tapers allowed, a 1/3 of the venue was filled and every song was something I’ve never heard before. It was an outstanding night minus a technical error at the end with one of Medeski’s boards. It was funny too, all I could think about was all the peeps on this board giving Martin props…definitely, without a doubt deserved. I recomend trying for another taste.

  11. AbePhroman Says:

    Stink. Stank. Stunk.

  12. dyda Says:

    khadafi in my bed…

  13. Jacob Says:

    “Woke up this morning, and looked at the clock…it was 1:11.”

  14. RobAins Says:

    Yeah, apparantly Moe.’s list of available dates and ours just didn’t match up. But Mule is a fine replacement indeed!

  15. Davey Says:

    Happy 4:20. I’m off to court to contest a public park drinking ticket. Hooray!! That’s the only reason you’ll see me on here so early. Us left coasters don’t dig waking up.

  16. mmm hmm Says:

    How about the reggae classic “Have Mercy” by the Mighty Diamonds…you see this one pop up mostly pre-1995, but its a good one. It has a really floaty/ambient jam section and the tune (like all reggae) has a super heavy bass-driven tempo. Granted, this is not a Phish original, but ya gotta keep it in mind.

  17. Jay Says:

    7-25-99 Deercreek is my favorite show of all time in which I attended.

  18. SOAM Says:

    Have Mercy-That is what I was singing during the 80 minute milestones jam at the centrum sat night. awful

    any update on fenway pre sale fiasco-will those be honored?

  19. bhizzle Says:

    what fenway pre-sale fiasco are you talking bout willis!?!?!

    seriously I don’t know what you’re speaking of? i didn’t try for any so I guess I removed myself from that loop.

  20. Jay Says:

    Looks like all fenway sales will be honored. I have not heard otherwise about those who got tickets via the leak of the presale url and password.

  21. ColonelJoy Says:

    Thanks RobAins…..at least by Cliff Ball DVD finally got here today….

    Jay, we do agree on something…. 7-25-99 is about the favorite of any I attended as well.

  22. msbjivein Says:

    @Jay Also one of my favorites! We haad such a killer time!

  23. Mdawg Says:

    Happy 4/20 everybody!

    Go figure, I just got back from a vacation where Jamaica was one of my stops. First day back on the web and what do I see when checking the PT site…

    … talk of reggae and Makisupa.

    @read icculus: i agree that Undermind had a very dub feel to it. Maybe that leads to a summer tour Makisupa > Undermind???

    Woke up this morning…
    …it was 4/20 and I had to go to work =(

  24. R1 Says:

    ^ Umm, this isn’t the PT site there Mdawg

  25. Mdawg Says:

    PT phishthoughts

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