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.””

  1. guyforget Says:

    ^^elbows “vasoconstrictors”

  2. R1 Says:

    totally off-topic, but i just listened to it for the nth time and i want to say how much i love the IT soundcheck. it’s the absolute shit.

  3. old dude Says:

    speaking of Halleys Comet and lost in translation:

    I had an old bootleg CD from Japan (or somewhere) that titled that song “Hell is Coming”. Saw the setlist at a used record store and thought “sweet, new song i’ve never heard!”….buyer’s regret.

  4. old dude Says:

    i took the lyrics from Stash to heart and always pack dank in my tunic.

  5. old dude Says:

    i swear one time in a YEM vocal jam Gordon was telling me:
    wooly boobs
    wooly boobs
    pull more tubes
    pull more tubes
    burp ‘xcuse

  6. old dude Says:

    guelah papyrus is latin for rolling papers

  7. Jay Says:

    Don’t eat, don’t eat. Dont eat cream cheese.

  8. Asher Says:

    Alright, here’s the mother load. A site devoted entirely to misheard lyrics.


    There’s no Phish section yet. I bet we can do something about that.

  9. voopa Says:

    Had an old Deadhead friend who used to sing “Goddamn, well I declare, have you seen the light?” and I would think, “Really? You don’t know it’s ‘like’? Hmm.” Had a crush on her so I didn’t correct her.

    I remember seeing that boot with “Hell is Coming” on it. There was another that listed Sparkle as “Laughing Boulevard.” WTF?

  10. whole tour! Says:

    gotta love those old school italian/japaneese bootlegs that used to fill headshops and cd warehouse back in like 92-97 maybe? the ones that cost like $30 for one cd, had awesome covers, but when you got home for the most part they sounded like crap! lol… i remember i saw a 6 disc clifford ball bootleg at one point that cost like $200. It was just the fm broadcast that someone put onto cd. That was back before anyone had home computers with cdr. Now a days you can get any of that stuff for free from etree, but back then the bootleg cds were a pretty hot commodity.

  11. Brimley Says:

    Back in the late 90’s a local headshop had a random Dead show from Iowa City, Iowa for $45.00 bucks….I told the owner to go “F” himself and laughed my way out the store…

  12. shpongleyez Says:

    @ old dude (and others): my favorite foreign language mistaken title is: Bag it Tag it Medley!

  13. guyforget Says:

    Ha, bootlegs. I can still remember the names of some of the ones i bought…
    Phishin’ at the Shore – 7/16/99 Holmdel
    Seed Pitts – Star lake
    Tweeks up the Tweeter – Mansfield
    The Wind Blows High – MSG 12/28/98

    Those are just the ones i remember..anybody else get ripped off on these! Funny, i just came across these the other day while doing some cleaning and almost had a heart attack at the price tags still on them…

  14. nonoyolker Says:

    @ R1, It soundcheck has a sick jam in it! Good call.

    Makisupa w/ “nice, tall soy milk” lyrics was from Worcester 2-26-03. Hell of a show. Peep the Stash, it rips.

  15. nonoyolker Says:


  16. Bandito Says:

    I’ve purchased a few of those Dead bootlegs in the past. Poor sound quality and usually just fragments of the shows. On the earlier note, I’ve been listening to Phish for the past 14 years and still have no idea what the majority of the lyrics for Llamas are…

  17. whole tour! Says:

    leave it on, press
    press, depress
    llama taboot taboot

  18. Bandito Says:

    I always heard “living off reds, reds, reds, llamas taboot taboot”…

  19. Mr. Icculus Says:

    7/15/00 Polaris Im pretty sure it was Heavy nugs not heady i read this somewhere can’t remember where, but i was at the show and thought it was heady nugggetts who knows….

    Who on here has a campsite reservation close to Alpine. Please email me at bniemanater@aol.com

  20. Asher Says:

    @ guy
    I’ve still got “Phishin’ at the Flynn Vol. 1” that’s Set 1. from 4-4-94 and one called “Simple” that’s Set 2 of 5-27-94 @ the Warfield. It’s actually a pretty good recording of a great set that has the 1st Simple, a killer Suzy and the Flintstones Mac & Cheese jam.
    I don’t remember how I even got these discs. Gotta love the days before CD burners. Sorry bootleg bandits, your days are over.

  21. voopa Says:


    That 5-27 show was something else. I was working for BASS (a local ticketing firm) at the time, and got to pick my seats…chose front row center upper upper balcony, once my friends got their shit together. Shrooming like crazy at the show, didn’t even notice until after wards that the ushers had disappeared during the aria, to cart in the mac n cheese! Burned in my memory forever.

  22. Pence Says:

    If anybody is interested….All profit (winning bid – 63.50+S&H) goes back to phish thoughts as explained in the description.


  23. BingosBrother Says:

    Twist a bomb. WOOH!

  24. cheese Says:

    Mr. Miner is the shit!!!!!
    still looking for 8/2/93 – do you have it?

  25. elihu Says:

    leaving our best, best friends with a llama taboot taboot

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