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. msbjivein Says:

    @ Whole,DUUUUDE! Wormholes are a bad scene Man! I had a couple of wook monsters land on me after they had been shot out of a wormhole at the NORMAL show in ’99. It took me hours to get outta that goo ball mess!

  2. SOAM Says:

    Forget-I’m not sure whats worse-getting robbed in jersey or being from jersey but I’ll tell you this..I got lost after a camden gig (Easy Chair) and tasted the fear–tough-tough hood

  3. msbjivein Says:

    I’m scared of Jersey!! I’ll never go back.

  4. guyforget Says:

    SOAM, don’t get me started on the MA hating!! But yeah, it’s a tough hood. I like how you refer to 7/30/03 to “Easy Chair”. It was that night.

  5. guyforget Says:

    ^^pussy 🙂

  6. Mr. Completely Says:

    I saw some things in the lot of Giants that I would pay a lot to forget.

    The worst was a truck knocking over a row of portajohns after the show. There were people in them. It was unspeakable, HP Lovecraft style evil…and just SO jersey.

    Yes please keep posting anniversary stuff it distracts me from the constant parade of 20 year anniversaries of dead shows I was at, which is not the youngest feeling thing in the world

    holy fucking shit next year it’s the 20th anniversary of my first Phish show

    /Mr. Completely dies

    The best thing about the wormhole gig is I make a fortune betting on setlists in the lot.

    The weirdest thing about the whole time travel scenario is that I keep running into this heavyset dude with curly hair who always asks about the numbers “4 8 15 16 23 42” – he a is pretty chill guy actually but his friends are always all stressed out and seem to think I’m one of the “others” or some paranoid shit like that.

  7. msbjivein Says:

    @Guy,, Dude I about got pissed on many times at Camden shows. I’m done w/ that shit. The only good thing about all the pissing is that there’s no bathroom lines. I’d rather stand in line at the pissser than have to worry about some idiot pissing next to me in the lawn. Call me what you will but I HATE LAWN PISSER’S!!!

  8. SOAM Says:

    I recall bits and pieces-my spoked B is razor sharp these days kid-B-ware-it’s Stanley cup fever

    tomorrows the day when my brides gonna come..Basement tapes are the best thing dylan ever did.

    your gonna have to find yourself another best friend somehow

  9. guyforget Says:

    MSB – That’s terrible! By the way, we from NJ consider south Jersey Philly anyway, so all this Camden talk should actually be considered Philly…North Jersey/South Jersey=2 completely different worlds.

  10. snigglebeach Says:

    Adding to that thought,

    A lot of reallly big guys are going with long curly hair thing.

    2 shows in a row i have had to do a double-take of a guy that looked just like Hurley. Plus he seems like he should be a head. And who knew he wrote Empire Strikes Back…

  11. msbjivein Says:

    CAMDEN’S A SHITHOLE!!!!!!!!!!!

  12. Al Says:

    Hey, Camden 07/30/03 was the first US show I attended. Yes, I saved a few cents, took a United airlines flight from Frankfurt Germany and saw both nights Camden and IT. The Scents & Chalkdust, Llama & Wolfman’s where highlights for me…..there are better places in the US than ending up in Camden, but no better place than the Tweeter Center for this occasion.

  13. msbjivein Says:

    @ Completely, I know this is off subject, But who wins the Super Bowl this year?? I wouldn’t mind making a couple extra bucks for the new year. And also your actually not that old because your from 2015. I’m probably older than you. If your still older than me then your old as shit man! I’m 31yrs LOL! That’s cool you got to go back in time and catch dead shows. You must have all the luck when it comes to hitting the time machine at shows!

  14. Al Says:

    Another interesting SPLIT Open: Deer Creek 08/12/96. Trey’s guitar sounds as if he plays a flute at one point. Really crazy. It’s a filler on Livephish CD Vol. 12

  15. Exree Hipp Says:

    This split is just insane. Just re-listened to it a couple of times. Thanks for the post, Miner.

    BBJ and Adeline are cut from this source, though, yes? I don’t have them in the .rar I got off the torrent.

  16. msbjivein Says:

    @Al, Did you get pissed on? The Spock’s Brain was my highlight! IT WAS THE SHIT ALSO! We did the whole tour in ’03. Man that was a good time. ’03 had IT’s moments for sure!

  17. bhizzle Says:

    lawn pissing?!?! like someone whipping it out right next to you in the middle of it all and just pissing? on your shoes while your dancing? for reals? never seen that, but then again never been to Jersey for a show. a jersey thing?

  18. SOAM Says:

    did you get pissed on?-Classic

  19. guyforget Says:

    you don’t see that stuff at holmdel. 7/30/03 was awesome, right off the bat with MFMF….

  20. Manny Phresh Says:

    @ SOAM
    Being from Jersey is cool as shit can’t think of any other I place where I would’ve wanted to grow up. Living in Jersey is a whole other story, I wouldn’t move back to Jersey for anything.

  21. Manny Phresh Says:

    Yeah Camden is the epitome of a Northeast ghetto, but looking at the Ben Franklin bridge and seeing the lights change colors while tripping is priceless.

    At least I think the lights change colors.

  22. Jay Says:

    @ manny – “At least I think the lights change colors.”

    Now that is priceless!

  23. SOAM Says:

    I can think of 49 other places

  24. SOAM Says:

    yes hizzle it a joisey tradition to piss on your neighbor at gigs but I’d rather that than listen to them..Brutal

  25. guyforget Says:

    you’re too much SOAM. I dont’ know why, but i still like ya!

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