The Definitive “Split” of ’93

Trey, 1993 (A.Dines)

Trey 1993 (A.Dines)

Sixteen years ago today, Phish was in Columbus, Ohio playing the second show of a two night stand approaching the end of their Spring 1993 tour.  The setting was the ornate Newport Music Hall, and one of the jams from this show would live on forever as a part of Phish history.  The band busted into “Split Open and Melt” as the third song of the second set, and soon engaged in some incredibly compelling improvisation.  The jam stood out to the band so much, that they decided to bring it into the studio.

Most everyone is familiar with Phish’s 1994 official release, Hoist.  The last track on this album, “Demand,” is a brief musical poem with elusive meaning, ending with the lyric “Driving home to Mom and Dad / To spend a weekend with no cares.”  Then, as the music ends, we hear someone get into a car, shut the door and pop in a cassette tape.  As the subject starts the engine, we hear a ridiculously ripping “Split Open and Melt” jam playing in the fictional car.  And here is where our stories intersect- that jam after “Demand” was plucked directly from our show in Columbus sixteen years ago.  The car drives off to the soundtrack of the intensely building jam until we hear it crash, giving way a layered live mix of “Yerushalayim Shel Zahav,” and thus ending the album.  Creating a sonic collage, and juxtaposing their stripped down studio work with their layered live psychedelia, Phish clearly chose this jam with intent.  On its anniversary, let’s take a look back at a jam so utterly breathtaking that the band decided to add it to an album.

41075wa00kl_aa240_At the onset of their 1993 “speedjazz” era, Phish engaged this “Split” jam like a lioness attacking an innocent zebra, proceeding to tear it to shreds.  This was a time where jams didn’t take time to settle, but started, earnestly, before the lyrical refrain even ended.  Trey’s licks began firing early and often as Page was all over the piano like a madman- both being held together by a lightning quick groove.  Fish and Gordon provided the super-glue for this stunningly tight musical conversation.  Trey’s licks became more condensed, often referred to as his “machine gun” playing, as his guitar acrobatics pushed the jam forward.  This amphetamine-laced music was led by Trey’s absolutely shredding guitar; far moreso than later Phish.  Moving at such a break-neck pace, this was the day where Phish left your jaw on the floor in a whole different way.

phish-hartford-4-30-93Building the momentum of the jam behind Gordon’s strapping basslines and Fish’s masterfully absurd beats, Trey progressed from notes to screams of tonal terror, creating a terrifying balls-to-the-wall soundtrack to an intense sci-fi movie.  The band slaughtered this jam, all four at once, like four lionesses shredding that poor zebra until there was nothing left.  Trey’s dissonant wails led the mission, as the band tore through the jungle, never missing a collective hit amidst the maddening psychedelia.  Mike’s playing was equally impressive as he molded basslines to complement the melodic themes while also leading the insane rhythm.  Page’s piano work was that of a true jazz player, using his instrument to achieve a drone effect in the jam while simultaneously playing dizzying right-hand lines. This was a piece of improv where all four members absolutely clicked during an era when the result was completely mind-bending, “can -you-handle-this” type of music.

Mike has referenced this jam as a moment where the band “got it” and figured out what they were trying to do musically.  It is no coincidence that after this spring tour in 1993, which finished only two weeks later, Phish went on to crush Summer ’93; a tour that is still revered to this day as the epitome of an era.  Taking Mike at face value, this “Split” jam- sixteen years ago today-kick-started one of the most well loved eras in Phish history.

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LISTEN TO 4.21.93 “Split” NOW! < LINK (Roll over, click play)

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DOWNLOAD OF THE DAY:

4.21.93 Newport Music Hall, Columbus, OH < TORRENT

Newport Music Hall, Columbus, OH

Newport Music Hall

Here is the complete show in which this famous “Split” was performed.  A classic show of Spring ’93, this one was definitely a high point of the tour.  On-point jamming characterized this evening and it featured many other highlights beyond “Split,” including a raw “Mike’s Groove” at the end of the night.

I: Buried Alive, Poor Heart, Foam, Guelah Papyrus, Maze, Colonel Forbin’s Ascent > Famous Mockingbird, Rift, Punch You in the Eye, I Didn’t Know, Run Like an Antelope

II: Possum, Mound, Split Open and Melt, The Squirming Coil, The Horse > Silent in the Morning, Big Ball Jam, Mike’s Song > Great Gig in the Sky > Weekapaug Groove, Gumbo

E: Sweet Adeline, Cavern

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167 Responses to “The Definitive “Split” of ’93”

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  1. Twiggy Says:

    I’ve seen quite a few shows here with the highlight probably being the Blarney Stone from 2001 in which I actually thought that I was on a rocking boat as beer was being slung from the upper decks as we all sang along in our best Irish voices. Ween will do that to you! Sorry to even start out this thread off topic, but Newport brings back alot of memories. Lake Trout, Galactic, and the Frog Brigade bill was a great night as well. I didn’t see the boys until Deer Creek ’95, but was getting into Phish after a buddy turned me on to Hoist and A Live One. I always thought Demand was a little strange, but really dug it when it went into the jam. Thanks Miner for the tasty treat that was the jam. Sick SOAM. Off topic again, but I’m pretty excited about something other than my tour schedule for the summer. I run a bar in Lexington and of course I book our entertainment (mostly one man acoustic acts). However, last summer, a dude was playing on our patio when all of the sudden he brings up a 10 year old little girl to play a couple of songs. She brought her own guitar (the same Takamine that I have) and a loop station (same loop station that I have) that she had just bought a couple of months prior. She did three songs and the crowd was amazed to say the least. Jaws were dropping and beers were the last things on peoples minds. She ended up playing about 10 songs as the crowd wouldn’t let her go. We exchanged e-mail addresses but I never heard from her again until Friday night when I checked my e-mail. I replied back to her and let her know I had a couple of nights still open for the summer. She shoed up Saturday night with her mom and dad and gladly accepted the dates I had offered. I’m checking into child labor laws, but at this point who cares. Recently, she has opened up for JJ Grey and MOFRO and has recorded a CD. I know I’m way off topic, but I thought this may be a site where people would appreciate this kind of thing. Anyway, her name is Almira Fawn and she is currently 11 years of age. After downloading this sick Newport show that Miner has provided us, check her out on you tube or at http://www.almirafawn.com. Also, please let me know what you guys think. I spoke in length to her father on Saturday and she just got back from taping an episode of “America’s Got Talent” which I am unfamiliar with. Again, Miner, I apologize for the off topic dialouge, but she is so talented I wanted to share with people who know talent, and I feel that this is a site that knows a little something about talent. Peace.

  2. Twiggy Says:

    BTW, I am unable to attend Alpine (Father’s Day Damn you Phish) this run and have two extra lawns for each night. Birthday show is Phenway and I just want to get in the park. Lifetime Sox fan via my pops and would gladly trade all 4 for two to Phenway. In saying that, a couple of good seats would be great. I can throw in a little cash if necessary, or I’ll pay your tab at the Cask’n Flagon before the show. Also, anyone else thought of Page just bustin out the Cheers theme. Seen Phish in nearly every major city in the USA, but never Boston. C’mon fellas, make it happen. Peace.

  3. sliderock Says:

    Random tidbit about ‘Demand’…as I understand it, the car sound effects are the same as those on ‘And So to Bed’ from the White Tape.

  4. ColonelJoy Says:

    Interesting about 93’….the band incubated and peaked a whole era very rapidly. Before 93′ they were quite good, of course, but in 93′ they really played music “only they could play” and which had never been executed before.

  5. ColonelJoy Says:

    What happened was they finally caught up to their vision. A vision was formed early on, but they weren’t capable, didn’t have the chops at the time to execute….listen to Colorado 88’….it’s all there in front of five people in bars, and they’re working it out….the YEMs, Antelopes, Fluffheads….that is what blows me away….no other band ever progressed that way…totally unique in the history of art, In Colonel’s opinion…..

  6. ColonelJoy Says:

    I mean, The Beatles weren’t playing SGT Pepper’s or side-two of Abby road in Hamburg….think about that….

  7. bhizzle Says:

    What is “Yerushalem Shel Zahiv”? Is it song duriing a right of passage or something with distinct meaning?

    Also, I am in no way a Foreigner fan, but I actually listend to the lyrics to Jukebox Hero last night on the way home and I thought it’d be fitting for a cover this tour. See opening phrases of song below:

    Standing in the rain, with his head hung low
    Couldnt get a ticket, it was a sold out show
    Heard the roar of the crowd, he could picture the scene
    Put his ear to the wall, then like a distant scream

    He heard one guitar, just blew him away
    He saw stars in his eyes…

  8. ColonelJoy Says:

    Props to bhizzle for typing “Foreigner” here….

  9. Chalkdustin Says:

    Never knew this Split was the one on Demand. Learn something new everyday from you, Miner. Thanks.

  10. sarkodr Says:

    Ah, the Newport. I grew up in Columbus and the Newport was the site of my first ever concert (Skid Row, yeah, make fun, but it was like 1989 and I was 14). The Newport was also the site of my first ever Phish show (12-2-92) which changed my life forever.
    During early ’93 I was an intern at PromoWest, the promoter for the Newport. Well, I had just discovered Phish and had my first live experience so I couldn’t stop talking about them EVER at that point in my life. One day the head of PromoWest calls me over and asks, “You think Phish could sell out 2 nights at the Newport?” Of course I said “YES” enthusiastically even though I didn’t have the slightest clue about the fan base in Columbus.
    Well needless to say, the shows got booked. I got to set up the dressing rooms and had to chauffeur the bus driver back and forth between venue and hotel, but more importantly I got to see my first ever 2 night stand.
    I could go on and on about this 2 night stand, but I must drink some more coffee.
    The first night is also quite a good show, maybe that should be posted as well (hint hint).

  11. Danny B Says:

    What can be said about 93 that hasn’t already been said. The sheer virtuosity was astounding. Unfortunately I was only 11 years old when this show took place, but man, what a smoker of a show. It is difficult to listen to shows like this, because it makes you want to hear them play like this. I am still very excited for the next stage in the evolution of Phish, every year sounds different, and that is why I love them. 1993!!!! One of my all time favorite years, thanks miner

  12. Jay Says:

    I wonder if Mr. Miner here took his moniker because he knew we all would be thanking him over and over 🙂

  13. fluffced Says:

    @bhizzle

    Yerushalem Shel Zahiv is a classic jewish song, that actually means “Jerusalem of Gold” and is about the 2000 year journey to return to Jerusalem. I am dating a jewish girl and she explained this to me.

    Also “Avenu Malkenu” means “our father our King”

    i really dig Avenu…

  14. jon_hansen Says:

    ’98 Hampton was the definitive SOAM. Tightest and most intense without ever falling apart. Not many SOAM’s can claim that (and BTW, the “falling apart” I’m referring to isn’t a bad thing).

  15. bhizzle Says:

    i really dig Avenu as well…thanks for the education fluffced

  16. elihu Says:

    The ending lyrics – “halo l’chol shirayich ani kinor” – translate to “for all your (Jerusalem’s) songs I am an instrument” (a stringed instrument – violin?). I’ve always assumed this is what the person in the car is hearing (angels singing?) after he/she dies in the crash. (referenced again in cover of the Siket disc?) Does anyone have some insight into the significance of this crash (and death)?

    Thanks Miner for this awesome show – I also never knew Demand came from this show – or that it was taken from a live recording.

  17. wanderin Says:

    I remember the first time hearing the band in 1992 on an old scratched up terrible sounding tape from a show in 91. Dismissing the band and tape due to the poor quality, I didn’t listen to them for a few months until hearing some better quality tapes. Then in 1993 a week after this show, we had listened to a much better sounding tape of today’s download. Instantly hooked. Two weeks after this show I caught my first show in Albany (shows which can be found on this site). A start of a long musical journey. Good times indeed.

  18. aaron Says:

    ’93 and ’94 tapes can’t help but make all other shows seem tired and worn out. Listen to just about any show from the Speedjazz era, then listen to any other show from any other period in Phish’s history (including previous years) and it will feel like the band is playing the second show immediately following the first, and has nothing left in the tank.

    Not only had the band reached the heights of musical virtuoso, they were also flying on the adrenaline of playing to tens of thousands for the first time in their lives. Phish as an entity had also not yet truly started to take itself seriously, and this was the last time the band felt truly playful on stage.

    A magical time period in a magical band’s history. Those of us who got in at the right time should feel truly privileged to have experienced it.

    Thank you, Mr Miner.

  19. wanderin Says:

    Here is a funny/sad craigslist ad for your enjoyment.

    http://hudsonvalley.craigslist.org/tix/1121365027.html

  20. mmm hmm Says:

    Anybody else just find out that their awesome-looking Fenway seats behind home plate just turned out to be the worst seats in the house and furthest from the stage? I thought lottery was supposed to get ya decent tix and the public onsale got the others…so much for that. My seats eat ass. Not only will i be nowhere in sight of anything on stage, there will probably be a huge sound delay as well. Anybody seen DMB there before in the seated area? how easy is it to hop the fence and get on the turf? Is it worth flying from Florida to see the show with such shitty seats? Anybody want to trade seats for turf?

  21. VTsnowboarder802 Says:

    back to yesterday’s post, I’d like to see a fenway makisupa with the code word being

    “fenphish’ed”

  22. VTsnowboarder802 Says:

    @mmm
    do a google image search on fenway concerts. i don’t think there’s any chance at all of getting on the field w/out a ticket.

  23. A_Glide Says:

    ^@twiggy, I still need two for Sunday if you have to sell them

    ^@wanderin , seriously? how can that seem like a good idea?

    ^@ mmmm hmmm
    “Is it worth flying from Florida to see the show with such shitty seats”
    no, totally not. you should probably just give them to me. 🙂

  24. wanderin Says:

    A_Glide

    I have no words for that ad. It made my day off to a laughing start though.

  25. R1 Says:

    ^I wouldn’t.

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