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

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

  1. Pencilneck Says:

    anybody with horrible fenway seats can send them to me, and i will do away with them free of charge.

  2. Ryan Schloffel Says:

    Is there a link out there to the Champaign show from 11.19.1997? Song was posted yesterday and I’d love to hear the rest of the show. I checked sugarmegs and etree already…

  3. msbjivein Says:

    IT’S FUCKING PHENWAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Had to get that out. Thanks, Mr. MinER!

  4. whole tour! Says:

    can’t complain when weed in MA is now DECRIMINALIZED! who cares where your seats are? at least you got one….SPARK UP – LIFE IS SHORT!

  5. Mr. Completely Says:

    Split is my favorite Phish song.

    This is an “important” performance I think. A pivot point in Phish history, like Halloween ’96. Mike’s discussion of this song, which Miner refers to, is very revealing.

    Before they mastered the art of Melting, all their weirdness was (IMO) of a rather contrived and collegiate Zappa-esque variety. Basically they had 3 gears: fun warm-up and party songs, shreddy intricate masterpieces, and self-conscious strangeness. When I was seeing Phish in 90-91 I liked it, but when they tried being really psychedelic I always remembered the words of Zaphod Beeblebrox:

    “Don’t try to outweird me, son – I get stranger things than you free with my breakfast cereal.”

    To be really truly face-meltingly weird, at least to melt my face I guess, you have to go outside the box. And I think they just weren’t really comfortable doing that. They flailed a bit when they’d try, or fall back on mere silliness.

    Now I don’t know the show by show history well enough to say that it was just this version that changed everything, though that’s the way people talk about it…and perhaps there are really great psychedelic jams from earlier I haven’t heard…all I know is, in ’93 they figured out how to escape the boundaries of logic and technique in this song, and within a year it had carried over to all their other jamming tunes and we were getting the epic ’94 Tweezers and stuff.

    So for me, the evolution of Split is when Phish went from being “tied for the best of the Horde bands with ARU” to…well…really being Phish, one of the great bands in rock history.

  6. Al Says:

    Check out great “SPLITS”, my dear phriends:
    12/01/92 Denison
    11/09/96 Auburn Hills (Left Nuggets Bonus CD)
    07/23/97 Atlanta
    11/21/97 Hampton
    11/06/98 Madison (Mike’s favorite from 98)
    06/14/00 Fukuoka (Vol. 4)
    07/10/00 Creek

  7. Mr.Miner Says:

    11/09/96 Auburn Hills (Left Nuggets Bonus CD)

    ^?? do you mean Walnut Creek ’95?

  8. Mr.Miner Says:

    and if we are talking Deer Creek Splits, the conversation must start with 8.10.97 and end with 7.22.03…

  9. Al Says:

    Oh, Sorry! That Split Open 11/09/96 was not on the Left Nuggets CD Walnut Creek 95. It was on the “Road to Vegas” Bonus CD!

  10. Al Says:

    Fair point! Miner, (8.10.97) there we have your next release……after 12/28/96;-)

  11. Mr. Completely Says:

    thanks for that list Al – I only have a few of those

  12. Davey Says:

    My favorite Phish song. It’s not Phish unless you think you’re going to die during a Split jam. You have to make me afraid for my life at some point during the show for it to be psychedelically “complete.”

  13. fromthetub Says:

    Thanks Miner! 4/21/93 was my third show… I forgot how amazing it was, and that today is it’s anniversary! Nice!!

  14. whole tour! Says:

    i honestly never thought i was going to die at a phish show….lol

    now leaving the e center in camden…that is a different story…lmfao

  15. Al Says:

    Actually, the set 1 closing 06/25/95 Philly (Mann Music center) Split Open is also phenomenal. Trey plays incredibly fast licks at one point. Amazing.

  16. nonoyolker Says:

    Favorite Split – Cypress ’99. Creamy jam – > catapult. Shit is the Sherman Helmsly

  17. guyforget Says:

    my buddy got robbed in camden 7/30/03. First show for him, and he left the show early because he was wasted, and passed out on the hood of my car. when i found him there after the show and woke him up, his pockets were empty, good thing he had left his wallet in the car and only took his cash in. Worst part is we’re from Jersey and he still got robbed in Camden, knowing the deal.

  18. msbjivein Says:

    @ Wholetour, have you felt like you were on a time machine during a show and at the peak of the Jams someone in the crowd gets blasted through time! The anticipation of not knowing who’s next is what kills you. Only one at a time can go.

  19. guyforget Says:

    How about he SOAM from 7/15/99 Holmdel that Miner posted here a few weeks back….The one they can’t decide if they’re playing 2001 or Split the entire song…check it out.

  20. Mr. Completely Says:

    i am actually from 2015, I was blasted back from the show on the International Space Station by the Split jam all the way to ’93, then back forward to now via another Melt hose

    confusing, but scenic

  21. c0wfunk Says:

    mr. C that’s awesome ..

    guy .. that’s one of my favs — it seems fishman started 2001 and the rest of the band was pranking him – then the whole jam is an argument. I love it!

    how about 11-21-97 , to open the show out of emotional rescue – then the split gets all monster and during the big ending they reprise the “ooh ooh oohs” of emotional rescue.

    95 has lots of great melts, probably the best year for the tune imo.

  22. c0wfunk Says:

    missed the list .. glad to see 11-21-97 is on there 😉

  23. whole tour! Says:

    wormholes are very real!
    i once saw 2 wOOks get blasted into a wormhole at miami 2003 during ‘piper’.
    when they came out of the wormhole, they were fused together as one new hidiously, hairy wOOk monster….you ever seen ‘the fly’? it was much, much worse because the beast ate up all the headies and literally exploded, leaving puddles of goo balls everywhere. i’m still in shock.

  24. msbjivein Says:

    WOW Dude! Sounds like a killer SOAM I’ll make sure I hit that show in 2015. I’ve never been shot through time myself. Like I said it’s the anticipation that kills me. But I have lost some close friends to the time machine. HMMMM, I wonder where they are now???

  25. Dr SF Jones Says:

    I love the idea of posting “anniversary” shows on particular dates. It helps me keep track and a bit of focus on the abundant amount of Phish that I have and listen to.
    Thank you again Mr. Miner.

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