Tour Stop: Darien Lake

Darien Lake PAC, Darien Center, NY

Darien Lake PAC, Darien Center, NY

Phish’s three stops at Darien Lake in their career have not only made the venue a legitimately Phishy destination, but all three shows illustrate, perfectly, the band’s musical development at that point in their career.  With performances in ’93, ’97, and ’00, the band had ample time between gigs to evolve into a completely different animal each time; every show providing a snapshot of Phish’s musical place in time.

The first show at Darien Lake’a amusement park setting, on August 7, 1993, saw a much younger Phish, amidst a peak month in their career, incorporating all of their eclectic musical trickery and zany humor into an absurdly intense show.  One needs to go no further than the opening of the second set to uncover this.  A newly-conceived “2001” upped the psychedelic-ante, blasting into a blistering “Mike’s” that carried a suicidal intensity that could only have been produced in ’93.  The band was jamming hard- like their lives depended on it- and the quality of the music was wholly overwhelming.  While squeezing in secret language cues, the band abruptly entered an enthusiastic rendition of “Kung,” and a return to “Mike’s” that had the place blowing up with musical fireworks.  “Speedjazz” at its finest, the band was ultimately precise and shredding with a purpose on this evening.

Darien Lake PAC

Darien Lake PAC

Typical of their insane month of August ’93, defined by breakneck jazz-rock psychedelia, the show also included dense, layered adventures in “Stash,” “Antelope,” and “Maze.”  Offsetting some of this crazed improvisation was a segue into the reggae rhythms of “Makisupa” out of an unfinished “Stash,” a relaxing and groovy ride through a first set “Reba,” and a serene second-set stop in “McGrupp.”  Additionally, many compositions stood at the top of their game during this month, and on this night, the band threw down “Llama,” “My Friend,” “Forbin’s > Mockingbird,” and “The Sloth.”  If someone asked you to illustrate what Phish sounded like in the Summer of ’93, this show would be a good starting point.  In Trey’s own words,this was “a roller coaster of the mind!”


1997-08-14moIf Phish’s first Darien Lake show was a portrait in time, their second gig in ’97 was an absolute definition.  Culminating their funk revolution of Summer ’97, Phish stopped in western New York before leading the circus up to Limestone for the very first time.  The theme of this show was the theme of this summer- raw, bass-driven funk.  Quoting Trey, “The funk was too deep,” in the second set, and the band never emerged from their Bozo-laced funked up adventure into Colonel Forbin’s Gamehendge.  Averting “Mockingbird” in favor of further groove, the band took a left turn into “Camel Walk.”

Ken Kesey

Ken Kesey

One of the finest outings of the summer was highlighted by one of the best “Harry Hoods” ever played.  Smack dab in the middle of the second set, this jam was the unfolding of a mystic fairy tale, and included a post-“Hood” jam that needs to be heard to be believed.  In addition to the heavily improvised second set, the first included a second-song “Fluffhead,” an early-funk-era “Free,” and a ferocious “Antelope” to close.  But beyond the divine music, this show held cultural significance as Ken Kesey and his Merry Pranksters joined the band onstage in a Wizard of Oz-type skit.  Kesey was looking for the “Bozos” who had been missing since 1995 (when Jerry died and Dead tour ended.)  Finding the Bozo’s on Phish tour, Kesey gave a stamp of approval to the Phish scene as the rightful inheritors of America’s counterculture.  (A detailed write-up of this show and its historical significance can be read here.)


2000-09-14mo2Fast-forward to the year 2000;  Phish was on their final tour as they passed through Darien Lake one more time.  Though the band’s energy and creativity was on a decline at this point, you could never tell from listening to this show.  One of 2000’s most impressive efforts, 9.14 turned out so well that it wound up mastered as a Live Phish release.  The no-brainer highlight of the evening was the colossal mind-fuck that emerged out of “Drowned.”  Delving into abstract psychedelia and ambient madness, this was arguably the craziest and most “out-there,” terrorizing, and successful jams of the fall- all wrapped into one.   Accessing alien atmospheres during this mind-bending excursion, this jam illustrated the ’99-’00 millennial exploration of abstract soundscapes, an element of the band’s creative direction during these years.

ph000914_01Segueing from an epic “Drowned” into a dark “Crosseyed and Painless,” the band combined the two covers to create a definitively dirty forty-five minutes of millennial Phish.  Beyond this central section of the show, we were treated to an incredibly energetic first set that opened with a “Punch,” “Reba” combo, with the latter being a choice version.  After a mid-set “Carini,” the band ended with a smoking “Oh Kee Pah > Suzy” that included a dynamic funk explosion after the song’s natural conclusion.

Looking back on the theatrics Phish has pulled off under the circus tents of Darien Lake, it is no surprise that the community is amped for the band’s return.  Coming during the final four shows of the tour, you can be sure Phish will be firing on all cylinders when they pull into the amusement park this August, and something tells me this is a can’t-miss show.  If the band’s history at Darien Lake is any indication, this will likely be a highlight of Summer ’09.


8.7.93 Darien Lake, NY < LINK

8.7.93 Darien Lake, NY <  TORRENT LINK

I: Llama, Bouncing Around the Room, Poor Heart, Stash > Makisupa Policeman, Reba,  Maze, Colonel Forbin’s Ascent > Famous Mockingbird, Cavern

II: Also Sprach Zarathustra > Mike’s Song > Kung > Mike’s Song > TMWSIY > Avenu Malkenu > The Sloth, Sparkle, My Friend My Friend, McGrupp and the Watchful Hosemasters > Purple Rain, Run Like an Antelope

E: Carolina, La Grange

Source: AUD (FOB)>AKG460b/ck61>Custom Preamp>Sony D10>Sony D7


R1’s DOWNLOAD OF THE DAY (Written by contest winner, R1)

7.21.98 Desert Sky, Phoenix, AZ < LINK

7.21.98 Desert Sky, Phoenix, AZ < TORRENT LINK


Desert Sky Pavilion, Phoenix, AZ

“The fellas ate their Wheaties before this one. This is a high-energy Phish show.  “AC/DC” opens the first set forcefully and “Fluffhead” keeps the juice pumping.  “Tube” brings the funk and “Antelope” closes the set with more of the unbridled power.

This second set is straight nasty.  Trey simply rips the shit out of the first portion of the “Mike’s” jam before things slow down a bit and get seriously funkified. Mike is throwing around Molotov cocktails, as the band fully locks in, slowly building, with Page moving from clav to piano, as Trey just relentlessly assaults our ears and minds.  The always natural-sounding segue into a bopping “Simple” is followed by a beautiful 1998-07-21mo1evolution into the debut of “Bittersweet Motel.” “Weekapaug” ripens pretty gently before Trey begins to dig in and the band speeds up, with Fish keeping up a blistering beat. Another highlight of the set, “Ghost” follows a steady upward trajectory along Rage Mountain, before cooling out and strutting into Taj Mahal’s “She Caught The Katy”, featuring some nice organ from Page.”

I: AC/DC Bag, Fluffhead, Roggae, Tube, Sparkle, Cavern, Frankie Says, Run Like An Antelope

II: Mike’s Song  > Simple > Bittersweet Motel* > Weekapaug Groove, Brian and Robert, Ghost > She Caught the Katy**,  Funky Bitch

E: Sleeping Monkey, Rocky Top

*First time played **Last played 04-29-87, 862 shows before.

Source: B&K 4011 > Lunatec V2 > Apogee AD-1000 > HHb Portadat @ 48k


124 Responses to “Tour Stop: Darien Lake”

  1. old dude Says:

    Bone Delay opener

  2. old dude Says:

    But he isn’t gonna go to the show
    Until he’s got a bucket of soulfood food to go

  3. Frankie Says:

    Someone’s been Inside In…

  4. HarryHood Says:

    Wow….. I had to actually work for an hour I’ve gotten behind on the conversation…..

    Mound: With the pitcher’s MOUND being clearly visible to everyone including the band because they won’t have seating on the infield, I’d call this a no-brainer!

    Conversation about the T: Kenmore stop on the green line is probably the best because you don’t have to pay attention to which branch of the green line you are on. I.E. (Green Line B,C,D, or E) They all go through Kenmore. The actual stop labeled FENWAY doesn’t really get you any closer, and you have to be on the Green Line E train specifically. If you are staying at a hotel near the park, don’t worry about taking the train. I would just drive to the hotel. Keep in mind though that the street signs in Beantown are terrible if they are even there, so a GPS is almost a necessity to find your way around. If I was only bringing a backpack or two to the the hotel and didn’t have a GPS, I would park at a T-station and take the train to the hotel. Guess it depends on your situation.

  5. Los Says:

    On the topic of covers

    I have seen my share of wonderfully crafted cover by our boys but this time around I’m really stoked to hear primarily pHISH tunes.

    I know they have made cover song thier own and may at times argue that our boys play them better than the original artist but right now in my state of mind, I’m pHISH tunes straightforward.

    That being said, I’m not going into any show this year expecting anything…and will not complain if I hear another C&P, Roses and the such…

    I really think this summer will be one to remember as was Hampton.

  6. jahvolunteer76 Says:

    8/14/97 was only my 2nd show, but needless to say it sealed the deal. Plus I followed it up with the Went so I went from very interested, but skeptical Dead fan to full blown Phish head. The 93 show is amazing as well. The Stash has the most mesmerizing solo by Trey, check it out…

  7. Mr. Completely Says:

    @Los well said

  8. old dude Says:

    this summer will be one of increased solar radiation in the northern hemisphere, thanks to the obliquity of the ecliptic.

    therefore, we will have our faces melted.

  9. msbjivein Says:

    Took the words right out of my mouth Dude.

  10. bhizzle Says:

    @ Jack O Roses

    surrounding shows:

  11. bhizzle Says:

    @ Jack O Roses

  12. HarryHood Says:

    Well, I’m about ready to leave work for the day and Old Dude’s comment just ended it on a perfect note…… Well said man! I’ll be laughing about that one for a while……

  13. bwana sun Says:

    Yes, thanks for the bonus download from Phoenix ’98! I loved that show — it was so stifling hot that day, the sunset couldn’t come fast enough. Great Bag opener and I knew we were in for a treat. 2nd set Mikes opener — too sweet… And I’m a huge Taj Mahal fan and out of nowhere I heard them drop into She Caught the Katy… I’d been out of the country for several months (in Africa) and looked around me to see if anyone else was as shocked and excited as I was to hear this bluesy cover… There were blank faces everywhere and I assumed it must have been a first time bust-out for the tour!! And ended up being a first time ever! Right up there with Curtis Lowe for soulful bluesy cover… So glad to have caught it on a great night in the desert and an absolutely awesome show!!!

  14. Frankie Says:

  15. Alumni Blues Says:

    Looking to get rid of 2 jones beach 6/2 tickets.

    Hit me up.

  16. R1 Says:

    ^actually, She Caught the Katy was played on 8.29.87

  17. Mr. V Says:

    Not sure if anyone has mentioned this yet or not but ticketmaster just had a drop of Gorge tickets.

    Go get em’

  18. wanderin Says:

    live nation is selliing jb right now$940

  19. Mr. Completely Says:

    No Gorge tickets @ TM when I got there :o( thx tho

    need 1 or preferably 2 Saturdays

  20. wanderin Says:

    I just missed the gorge sale too…damm

  21. Mr.Miner Says:

    they are only offering ORCHS for jb, but i cant pull a ticket…anyone got extra orchs for 6.4 or 6.5?

  22. reba Says:

    No luck on ticket trade board, so…

    Have 2 Shoreline Sec 201. Looking for 2 good Fenways (better than Grandstand) or 2 Mansfields, no lawn please. Can do trade in person before either show.

  23. bwana sun Says:

    ^R1 Well there you go Mr. Statistician… She Caught the Katy was played in 1987 – nice one. Not sure too many phans where around for that one but all the same doesn’t surprise me they played it back in the day. Peace..

  24. Corey Says:

    For those who care, there is a very important WALK FOR MUSIC happening on SUnday afternoon, adjacent to Fenway park, in the park behind the McDonalds (sorry for the unintended advertising here). It’s only going to be like a 2 mile walk. Walk. Donate. If you know Phish, ask them if they want to play and walk too. It’s for a good cause and it will make all my “little musicians” feel really good. 5/31 Sunday afternoon…

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