Nine years ago today we were in Chicago – the Rosemont Horizon turned Allstate Arena, to be exact – for the conclusion of a two-night stand in Chicago. Fall tour started in Albany back on September 8th and wove its way around the east for the first ten shows. This beginning stretch of tour contained some of the best playing of the entire fall, but there was one thing missing. We were almost halfway through what we thought could be the last tour ever, and the band hadn’t dropped a ‘Tweezer.” Phish created impressive jams from many other vehicles – but with the absence of those crunching “Tweezer” grooves, there was a certain Phishiness that was missing.
As shows passed, we continued to believe that each subsequent night would certainly contain the all-of-a-sudden elusive throwdown. Great Woods, Darien, Hershey, Merriweather, Cleveland…no “Tweezer.” Once we got to the Windy City, we expected that over the two nights, the band would unshelve their epic. But a blistering first night never flirted with the song, and when the second set of the second night opened with “Birds,” we wondered if we were wrong.
Then- as the closing hits of “Birds” bounced off the concrete surroundings – out roared “Tweezer.” You can hear the pent up enthusiasm of the crowd on the recordings as the band dropped their exploratory piece for the first time all tour. As the freezer door opened, the band dove into a driving beat, taking command of the ride without allowing time to settle. Moving through beefy but straight-forward “Tweezer” territory, Phish used the guitar-led build to get the crowd jacked before reaching more engaging improv.
Phish settled the initial music into a less-forceful groove in which Trey unleashed dissonant growls, drawing the band further and further outwards. Both Mike and Page responded with spacey , and stage two of the jam took off. While exploring this murkier texture, Mike took the lead with a strapping bass line that Trey locked onto instantly. Moving into an effect-laden, yet, percussive canvas, the band created some engaging music through this section. Phish eventually slid back together into their original “Tweezer” groove once their musical trek finished.
Was it a show highlight- definitely. Was it a musical masterpiece to be remembered for the ages- definitely not; but sometimes that just doesn’t matter. When I am living each note – one by one – fully immersed in a jam, it’s the experience that I remember. That feeling of utter joy, oneness with the universe, raging the Phish in a hyper-aware dream state. When we think back on our Phish careers, our memories are made of feelings more than anything else. Sure, we then listen back, analyze, and have fun with it all- but it’s those feelings that Phish is all about. I wouldn’t be writing this article and you wouldn’t be reading if it were not for those feelings that blossom inside us during Phish jams. And on this night, my enduring memory is the shot of psychedelic adrenaline that flooded my mind throughout the first “Tweezer” of Fall. And no recording, re-listen, or analysis can ever re-create that or take it away. But, hey, it’s always fun to listen back – just click play.
Jam of the Day:
The clear highlight of the afternoon set, the Cypress “Split” should need no introduction.
DOWNLOAD OF THE DAY:
8.14.96 Hershey Park, PA < Torrent
8.14.96 Hershey Park, PA < Megaupload
Here we have an underrated show from an underrated summer tour. Squeezed between the higher key escapades of Deer Creek and The Clifford Ball, this Hershey show often gets glossed over as unworthy. I beg to differ. From the opening “Wilson” jam which morphed into “Disease,” through the dark-horse “Tweezer” deep in set two, this show has quite a bit to offer. Great times in Chocolate City!
I: Wilson > Down With Disease, Fee, Poor Heart, Reba, The Mango Song, Gumbo, Stash, Hello My Baby
II: Runaway Jim, You Enjoy Myself, The Horse > Silent in the Morning, Cars Trucks Buses, Tweezer > Theme From the Bottom, HYHU > Cracklin’ Rosie > HYHU, Sample In a Jar, Tweezer Reprise
Source: Schoeps CMC6/mk4 > Sonosax > D10 Pro II > DAP1 (m)Tags: 2000, Jams, Songs