Debuted in August of 1987, “Fee” is one of the oldest songs in Phish’s catalog. Played routinely since its inception, the murderous pop-saga of Fee, the Buddhist weasel, and Floyd, the chimpanzee, who vie for the affection a gospel singer, Millie Grace, fit right in with the zany vibe of early Phish. Hence, it led off the band’s first official album, Junta. Since its beginning, “Fee” has been a fan favorite and one one of those more accessible songs – like Sample or Bouncin’ – that always drew fresh ears, ushering more than few fans into the Phish scene.
Throughout its 22 year history, the song has traditionally been played in the first set as a straight composition. But more than a couple times in their career, Phish tacked a musical tail on the end of the tale. The band seems to drop these “Fee” jams in shows that are quite memorable when the dust finally settles, with the seldom-used launchpad likening a confirmation from Phish that they feel adventurous. Often highlights as well as harbingers of bigger things ahead; below are some of these instances.
11.19.97 Assembly Hall, Champaign, IL I
During their inter-galactic excursions of Fall ’97, Phish extended any song at any time, but most often they dug into their trusty toolbox of funk to do so. When this “Fee” came out, the band had already played a sublime “Bathtub Gin > Llama” and a dynamic “Limb” -both without the ’97 funk -in what was shaping up to be a solid opening frame. The band whispered out of the end of “Fee” with a delicate pattern on which Trey repeated the faster, pre-official-song era melody of “Meatstick” on guitar. All the while, the band painted an ethereal sonic backdrop. Finally adding faint “Meatstick” lyrics in the background, the band creatively built the jam into the intro to “Antelope,” closing out a smoking set. And the second set is history.
7.5.98 Lucerna Theatre, Prague, CZ I
In the band’s first set in Prague during the summer of ’98, they dropped a incredibly engaging “Fee” that followed a rhythmic course rather than its more typical ambient path. Extending the song into a bass-led groove, Fish got on board, complementing Mike with a sparse and percussive beat. Trey soloed over the top of this canvas as Page added effects to round out the sound. Segueing into some quintessential wah-funk, Trey also remained anchored to his established melody. Page hopped onto piano and into the spotlight, as the band hit a collective groove far from any semblance of “Fee.” This one is a gem and is oft overlooked since the second night in Prague annihilated the first.
7.8.99 Virginia Beach Amp, Va. Beach, VA I
Following a show-opening “Julius,” Phish innocently began their old-school single. But when the time came for the ending to fade out, the band had a completely different idea. Latching onto Page’s piano patterns, they slid into a mellow outro that Trey entered with utmost care. Soon the band engaged in a gorgeous musical conversation that spawned gentle phrasing from all. But this piece wouldn’t stay in the mellow realms where it began. Instead Mike and Fish kicked up a groove and the band was off and running on a high-speed piece of transcendent improv – all while the sun still shone above.
6.7.2009 “E Centre” Camden, NJ I
In this second-song “Fee,” Phish didn’t miss a beat as they moved from its ending into a locked jam that oozed enchantment. Getting into a spiritually ambient place with lightning quickness, the band seemed to have something in them we hadn’t seen during this summer’s first shows. As it turned out, this dreamy excursion was an early signpost pointing down the road of one of June’s hottest shows.
Jam of the Day:
“Runaway Jim” 8.11.98 II
This multi-themed, exploratory “Jim” opened the second set of Star Lake ’98. It doesn’t get a lot of hype, though it sure has quite a bit to offer.
DOWNLOAD OF THE DAY:
10.5.2000 Irvine Meadows, Irvine, CA < Torrent
10.5.2000 Irvine Meadows, Irvine, CA < Megaupload
Nine years ago today, this Irvine show represented the last before Shoreline’s two-night finale. This is also was one of two Phish shows to which I’ve been late, this time due to a friend being detained at the Tijuana border on the way back from a senseless mission. Though missing the first set, we saw the heavily-improvised second frame highlighted by “Drowned,” “Bowie,” and “Piper.” After this show we didn’t look back as we drove the last drive of the Phish tour as we knew it.
I: Chalk Dust Torture, Guyute, Wolfman’s Brother > Sneakin’ Sally through the Alley, Limb By Limb, Come On Baby, Let’s Go Downtown, Beauty of My Dreams, Axilla, Horn, Possum
II: Drowned > NICU > David Bowie, Halley’s Comet > Walk Away, Piper > Character Zero
E: While My Guitar Gently Weeps
Source: Scheops CMC6/mk41>SX-M2>AD1000 (Taper – Dave Flaschner)Tags: Jams, Songs