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.


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




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

Source: Unknown

Tags: , ,

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

  1. VTsnowboarder802 Says:

    i haven’t seen a show at fenway, but have friends who have (who coincidently got me tix). They said that field is obviously where it’s at. Anyplace else and it’s more about the experience of just being there… so i guess if you’re not a sox fan, or at least a fan of baseball, the experience may not be as great. me, i can’t wait.

  2. bhizzle Says:

    @ wanderin – sounds like the poh poh to me.

  3. Mr.Miner Says:

    @ colonel: Definitely correct in your analysis of 1993.

    I also have wondered about the symbolism of “Demand’s” crash and “ascent to heaven”…

  4. Mr.Miner Says:

    @ mmmm hmmmm: YES! You will get in for sure…

  5. msbjivein Says:

    I have a feeling the Phenway show will be one of those shows that if your there your one lucky fucker!!! Don’t bitch about your seats some people didnt get in at all.

  6. Mr.Miner Says:

    ^ You can’t say people didn’t “get in”- the show hasn’t happened yet! You can say, people didn’t get tickets from the on-sale.

  7. msbjivein Says:

    @Minor, Some people won’t get in at all No matter how you word it. So why bitch about your seat location? Why not just try to trade up or buy scalper seats?? Those are your two options if you don’t like your seats. No need to bitch like it isn’t worth the trip. IMO.

  8. msbjivein Says:

    BTW I’m in the Phenway show sec 30 row f (third baseline) And I’m not bitchin. Are you gonna tell me my seats suck because they’re not on the turf and it’s not worth the trip?

  9. Uberchef Says:

    I’m also sitting behind home plate! Those seats are guaranteed to be the greatest seats you will EVER have at Fenway for a baseball game, which this is totally not 🙂

    It will essentially be like you are the hitter at bat, and the band will be playing center-right…you’ll have a majestic view of the green monstah, and a great view of the light show. Also, since the infield is cordoned off, you won’t have a sea of people directly in front of you…lastly, you’ll be close to the ‘beers of the world’ area, where you can partake in an icey cold Smithwicks ale. Take heart buddy, it’ll be awesome.

  10. msbjivein Says:

    That last comment was directed at anyone bitchin about seat location.

  11. R1 Says:


    It’s MinEr. Not MinOr. Why, oh why, do sooo many people continue to make this error??

    As an editor and somewhat of a perfectionist, this irks me to no end.

  12. Jay Says:

    R1 chill. It;s just a Miner mistake. 😉

  13. R1 Says:

    ^Very trew. ; )

  14. msbjivein Says:


  15. shpongleyez Says:

    “like a lioness attacking an innocent zebra…” Love it!

    But that zebra weren’t so innocent 😉

  16. olfactoryhue Says:

    03-28-93 East Gym – Humboldt State University, Arcata, CA

    1: The Landlady, Funky Bitch, Sparkle, Split Open and Melt, Lizards, The Sloth, Maze, Fee, It’s Ice, Lawn Boy, Run Like an Antelope

    2: Walk Away, Runaway Jim, Mound, Bathtub Gin, Big Ball Jam, You Enjoy Myself-> My Life as a Pez-> You Enjoy Myself, Paul and Silas, HYHU-> Love You-> HYHU , Possum

    E: Contact*, Big Black Furry Creature From Mars

    *Trey stops to dedicate the “tires on the road” part of the song to Shelly Culbertson for trekking from California to Boston to work for them full-time.

    ^ Put that show on and listen to the SOAM Jam… soooo goood, great show too, the antelope is not to be missed has a “Wishing Hole” whistling section and also has a Beverly Hills Cop tease, great antelope… if you check this show out off tela.sugarmegs they have the sound check as well and you can hear them working out beverly hills cop which Trey mistakes for Ghostbuster till Page corrects him…. great stuff one of my all time favorite shows to listen to… it’s just so damn clean and balls to the wall

  17. spideyguy0 Says:

    To whoever was asking about Yerushalayim Shel Zahav (more of a correct spelling), and here’s a Wiki on it going into more depth for those who are curious

    Unlike Yerushalayim Shel Zahav which was a 1967 pop song, Avinu Malkeinu in both lyrics and melody (not the instrumental melody, but the tune the words are sung to) is a prayer dating back thousands of years that is recited in synagogue on some Jewish holidays. The line sung by Phish is the last line of a very long prayer (guessing about 50 or so lines off the top of my head) each one starting with Avinu Malkeinu (our father, our king), which refers to God. The line sung by Phish states “Our father, our king, be gracious with us and answer us, though we have no worthy deeds, treat us with charity and kindness, and save and redeem us.” In short, Avinu Malkeinu is a prayer of begging for forgiveness.

  18. VTsnowboarder802 Says:

    I’m kinda psyched to be sitting back by home. Nobody in front of me. direct shot at the lights. easy access to fenway franks.

  19. SOAM Says:

    with all the difficulties getting the freaking tix-the fact that they are playing in the most unique venue in the country-in a town that is on fire if you are potentially complaining about sound, sightlines and seats..I encourage you to get your head out of your ass-stop being a buzzkill-get ripped and just dance.

    Most gigs I go to I never even find my seat-just a little spot to sauce, smoke and shake bones. keep it simple-life ain’t perfect but we do have a band.

  20. Al Says:

    Hi there, – can’t join the talk about seats without a show in a geographical near distance – I beg Mr. Miner to release the complete show from 12/28/96. Yesterday, there was a great Makisua>Maze part which proved, that you’ve got the best sounding source of this particular show around! Please…I miss that show, I need it.

    By the way, should update their showlists (Fenway, Jones 2nd.??)

  21. Ryan Schloffel Says:

    @ olfactroryhue…..

    searched sugarmegs to no avail : (

    can you post a link?

  22. jed Says:

    i always think of this version of soam in the same way that i think of the murat gin (8/13/83)…groundbreaking. “best” or “definitive” is a little more difficult to say. nevertheless, 4/21/93 is certainly a *great* version.

    as far as the studio version of “demand,” the sequence of getting in the car, playing a cassette and then crashing at the end is almost identical to the studio version of the kiss song, “detroit rock city” which appears on the 1976 album, “destroyer.” i always wondered if phish was imitating that in their own playful way. it would make sense b/c the band grew up as kids during the ’70’s. and, practically any boy aged 7-13 during that time was a kiss fan. any thoughts????

  23. voopa Says:

    Yeah, I first saw Phish open for Santana in ’92, but my first full show was 3/22/93, followed by the 2 Warfield shows the following weekend. I was 24 and ready for some face melting, and they delivered every single time, in massive quantities.

    Although it’s far from ’93, my favorite SOAM has got to be 8/2/97. Trey plays a simple 4/4 melody to counter the dropped beat of the jam, and stays with it all the way until the “ones” match up again. Pretty heady stuff, then the real solo starts!

  24. A_Glide Says:

    I can’t figure out why everyone has such a hard-on for Fenway. I mean, it’s not like they’re playing Wrigley…

    j/k I wish I was going, my first show will be FOX.

  25. Mr.Miner Says:

    ^ What SOAM said…

Leave a Reply