If you have been reading this site for a while, you’ve probably come to know how I feel about guests stepping onstage with Phish- more often than not it doesn’t really work. Most of the time the improv is diluted by the band trying to cater to their guest by laying back musically; and other times they just don’t gel. Yet there have been those special times when guests have not only fit in with Phish, but have pushed them and made the music better. On this date sixteen years ago at The Palace Theatre in Albany, NY, long-time friends and touring cohorts, The Aquarium Rescue Unit, stepped on stage with Phish during “You Enjoy Myself,” resulting in the craziest, and one of the best, guest sit-ins of Phish’s career.
A large part of the reason that these two bands gelled so well on stage, tapping into the same wacky psychedelic energy, was that they had a close friendship. In the early ’90s, as both bands were trying to extend their fanbase into each other’s region of the country, Phish would open for ARU in the South, while they would return the favor and invite ARU to open for them in the Northeast. As the two bands shared bills around the country, they developed a friendship and an affinity for each other, sharing an eccentric sense of humor. In addition, the two bands were founding members of the H.O.R.D.E. Tour in 1992, an acronym for Horizons of Rock Developing Everywhere. Inspired by Perry Farrell’s Lollapalooza the year before, they sought to put a foot forward for the second wave of the “jam” scene.
Another reason why this guest spot worked out so well was the sheer musicianship of Col. Bruce Hampton’s crew. Combine Phish with Oteil Burbridge, Jimmy Herring, and Jeff Sipe, and you had some serious chops on stage. Subtract sixteen years from today, and you had a youthful, zany energy behind the collaboration, driving it at a breakneck pace in very exploratory directions. This is the Phish of old, with like-minded friends, absolutely tearing shit apart.
With several added layers to the jam, members of both bands took liberty to improvise vocally, as well as musically, lending a bizarre psychedelia to much of the jam. All the musicians onstage, while having a blast, were simultaneously taking their improvisation incredibly seriously, creating some insane music. Page absolutely slaughtered it as the lone piano player on stage, leading some of the early parts of the jam. Gordon and Oteil, two of the best bass players on the planet, were crushing it, while there was incredibly dynamic interplay between Trey and Jimmy Herring. Jeff Sipe added some tight percussive tabla rhythms to Fish’s beat, and took over the drums as Fish moved to vacuum for a bit. Following the Electrolux-centric section, the groove resurfaced as a quasi-ska beat, but almost immediately moved out of it as Fish hopped back onto the kit and Trey began to get loose. If the madness of all these virtuoso musicians wasn’t enough, this jam also featured The Dude of Life carrying on with his antics and “singing” some nonsensical lyrics.
Before coming to an end, the improv turned the way of jazzy textures with some straight up scatting over top. Touching on so many different musical feels, all with incredible coherency, this was one guest spot that certainly did not disappoint, and goes down in history as one of the most outrageous “YEMs” ever played.
LISTEN to the 5.5.93 “YEM” NOW! ^ LINK (Roll over, click play)
DOWNLOAD OF THE DAY:
5.5.93 The Palace Theatre, Albany, NY SBD < TORRENT LINK
Although this is a repost from months ago, I figured it would be appropriate given today’s sixteen year anniversary of the show. Beyond the absurd “YEM,” this show is filled with oddities, including “My Friend > Manteca > My Friend,” and “Cavern > Take the ‘A’ Train > Cavern.” If you didn’t grab it last time it was posted, grab this SBD recording of a great show.
I: Rift, Guelah Papyrus, Foam, Sparkle, Stash, Bouncing Around the Room, It’s Ice, Glide, Maze, Golgi Apparatus
II: Runaway Jim, My Friend My Friend > Manteca > My Friend My Friend, Poor Heart, Weigh, Big Ball Jam, Ya Mar, You Enjoy Myself*
E: Amazing Grace, Cavern > Take the A-Train > Cavern
*25 min jam with Aquarium Rescue Unit and the Dude of Life.