For three consecutive nights during the Summer of ’95, Phish dropped timeless jams that absolutely defined what that era of improvisation was all about. As discussed in this piece, Summer ’95 was a time of unparalleled risk taking and explorations into the abyss. On every single night, Phish seemed to drop at least one crazy, dark, extended jam- whether it was “Tweezer,” “Stash,” “Bowie,” or “Mike’s”- that forced you to confront your maker. But on June 14th, 15th, and 16th, the band took things to a different level. Totaling 102 minutes of sheer psychedelia, Mud Island’s “Tweezer,” Lakewood’s “Bowie,” and Walnut Creek’s “Runaway Jim” illustrated the severely alternate realms Phish visited throughout the summer, as they stretched the boundaries of improvisational music.
The first of these three excursions came in Memphis, Tennessee at Mud Island Amphitheatre- a venue literally on an island in the middle of the Mississippi. After opening the second set with a quick “2001 > Poor Heart,” the next fifty minutes would be enveloped by one of the most captivating “Tweezers” ever played. Spanning the spectrum from soaring grooves to the most abstract planes, this jam was a microcosm of the summer in itself. Showcasing the band’s willingness to launch into the void with no expectations, Phish took this “Tweezer” to the edge and back many times with mind-bending results. Featuring multiple peaks over nearly an hour, Phish brought the initial improv down to virtually nothing before building it back up and, essentially, restarting the jam with the “Tweezer” lick. And there is still thirty minutes left when that happens. Strewn with more unique improv than many whole shows, this one simply never gets old, and despite such length, never gets lost or boring. It is truly a gem.
The next night, Phish opened up their second set at Lakewood with “My Sweet One” and “Ha Ha Ha” before sitting into a near half-hour “David Bowie.” Appearing early and often in Summer ’95, “Bowie” was one of the band’s favorite jam vehicles with which they launched into the stratosphere. This jam quickly built a head of steam, focused on intricate interplay rather than any outright groove. Fish’s driving beat pushed the band along a frenetic path of musical mayhem, creating a real sense of urgency to the music. Growing darker and bigger in scope as it progressed, this “Bowie” transformed into a fiery mind-fuck, attacking your brain with masterful ferocity. Illustrating their mastery over the madness, the band collectively slowed the jam down as if controlled by a machine, and began chanting over the canvas they created. Delving even deeper, Phish moved through several other textures before all was said and done. This is what “Bowie” is all about- controlled chaos. The band would resolve this maniacal jam later in the set with one of the most beautiful “Slaves” ever played.
And on the third day, Phish played Walnut Creek. This amphitheatre became a household name in the Phish world, and this “Runaway Jim” was one of the early reasons why. Building on the insane music produced the previous two nights, Phish came right out with IT to start the second set. Cracking open the frame with a half-hour plunge into the depths of improvisation, Phish was playing mind games once again. After a tight and spirited run through conventional “Jim” territory, and while maintaining that upbeat rhythm, Trey and Page began to bring the jam outwards. Soon, Mike and Fish were right there on the precipice with them, and what was first a ripping “Runaway” transformed into a whole different monster. Aggressive and intense are two words that characterize the early psychedelia of this jam, yet before it was over, it moved into some of the most abstract spacescapes of the summer. In between, the band cruised through periods of spacious groove, ambient exploration, and driving dissonance.
Not for the faint-hearted, this is some truly amazing- and absolutely crazy- Phish music. Featuring some eerie and bizarre whole-group vocal layering over the most abstract segment, Fishman chanted about “little doggie” being “sooo far from home.” This jam is truly a Phishy opus. Building back from the deepest section, the band eventually guided the music into “Free.”
While Summer ’95 was a crazy adventure from Boise to Sugarbush, these three jams, on three consecutive nights represented a high point of Phish’s successful risk-taking. Typifying the outward psychedelic nature of the band’s music during this summer, these three jams pretty much sum it up. The level of creativity and energy the band brought to the stage that summer was staggering, and the wake of legendary music they left behind them would live on forever.
DOWNLOAD $$ UPDATE: First off, I want to thank everyone for their generous donations to Phish Thoughts thus far. After we collectively paid for the absurd No-Spoiler-induced $743 bill in March, I want to keep you abreast of current finances. I just got the bill for April’s bandwidth, and with donations, I have just barely have enough money to cover download costs for the month ($567.) At this point there are zero dollars in the Phish Thoughts account. If donations continue to come in at this rate, I can continue to offer regular downloads (for non-current shows,) otherwise, I will only be able to offer torrents. FYI: All ’09 shows will only be available in torrent form.
DOWNLOADS OF THE DAY:
6.14.95 Mud Island Amphitheatre Memphis, TN < TORRENT LINK
II: Also Sprach Zarathustra > Poor Heart, Tweezer > Acoustic Army, While My Guitar Gently Weeps
E: Simple, Rocky Top, Tweezer Reprise
Source: Neumann RMS 190i
6.15.95 Lakewood, Atlanta, GA < MEDIAFIRE LINK
II: My Sweet One, Ha Ha Ha > David Bowie, Strange Design, Theme From the Bottom, Scent of a Mule, Acoustic Army, Slave to the Traffic Light
E: Bouncing Around the Room, Frankenstein
*With Fish on trombone, Mike on electric drill and Trey on megaphone.
Source: Nak 300 w/ cp-4 & Senn 441 > Sony Mixer > D10 Pro
Tags: 1995, Jams