The first two rounds of this past weekend’s NCAA tournament were defined upsets, those improbable scenarios that actually come true. These occasions, when the unexpected unfolds, provide moments of real-life drama, and not without parallels to Phish’s forays into musical adventure without knowing what lies around the corner. The excitement of both live experiences are united by the unknown, and the essence of each connected moment. Nobody knows how things are going to turn out, and that is precisely why people flock to both events. Just as people live and die by that buzzer-beater or the dramatic overtime win, so do others quest for glory in crunchy Phish grooves and full-throttle improv. If one were to stretch this analogy a bit and ascribe “upsets” to Phish shows, they would be discussing those special nights in history when down-low venues blew up in shows that were far more than the sum of their parts. Today, let’s look back at three significant upsets in Phish history. (Click on orange dates to download each show.)
11.2.1998 – E Center, West Valley, Utah
After the high-key Las Vegas Halloween shows, most people dispersed home across the country, while Phish moved on to a half-filled arena outside of Salt Lake City. Equivalent to a 15 seed beating a 2 in the first round, Phish played virtually an entire show before dropping into “Harpua” and beginning their trip to the Dark Side of the Moon. No one could believe what they saw, much like that little guy on Northern Iowa pulling up for a game-clinching, three-point dagger, falling the invincible Goliath of Kansas. Immediately making waves in the community before the next day, this Dark Side show will go down as one of the most memorable “upsets” in Phish history. (Regardless of your opinion on how it holds up on tape.)
9.14.999 – BSU Pavilion, Boise, ID
After the Northwest run of Vancouver > Gorge > Portland at the beginning of Fall 1999, Phish headed inland to Boise, Idaho, before returning to the coast for a couple nights at Shoreline. A long and completely out-of-the-way trip, many fans opted for a personal day, and drove directly down I-5. But for those who made the trek across Orgeon and into Idaho were rewarded with one of the most outstanding shows of the year. In a sparsely filled gymnasium where anyone could walk right to the front of the stage, Phish threw down the gauntlet in the form of “Peaches > Bag > Gumbo.” “AC/DC Bag” provided one of the most soul-touching moments of the entire year, peaking with surreal, layered melody and harmony, before galloping into the sunset in a “Crosseyed-esque” groove. Coupled with “Gumbo” in the now-famous combo, laced with a thick and extensive quote of Queen’s “Another One Bites The Dust,” this show became an instant classic, despite a relatively forgettable first half.
6.26.1994 – Municipal Auditorium, Charleston, WV
Amidst a particularly smoking run during June 1994, Phish found themselves playing West Virginia for the first time in their career, and they decided to commemorate the occasion. Known simply as the “GameHoist” show, this night would be remembered forever – but not for any jams. Instead, Phish opened the first set with “Kung” and went directly into a full-blown Gamehendge set, complete with narrations between the songs. And after closing the set with a blistering run-through of the lizard’s sacred chant, “Divided Sky,” the band decided to turn their show upside down. Having released “Hoist” three months earlier, Phish came out and played their album, top to bottom, as close to the original recording as possible. The band even included a “Split” jam after the album’s final track, “Demand,” which was spliced into the album from a 1993 recording. Phish concluded the set, as they did the album, with “Yerushalayim Shel Zahav.” This unsuspecting outing in West Virginia turned into one of the most unique shows in Phish lore history.
These are but three of countless “upsets” throughout Phish’s career. Share your own “upset”stories in the comment thread below.
Jam of the Day:
“Ghost” 7.3.97 II
A little-known beast from Nuremberg, Germany that a friend brought to my attention this weekend. Check it out!
DOWNLOAD OF THE DAY:
7.10.94 SPAC, Saratoga Springs, NY < Torrent
7.10.94 SPAC, Saratoga Springs, NY < Megaupload
Continuing our look at big time summer Phish from upcoming venues, here we have SPAC’s 1994 installment.
I: Chalk Dust Torture, Horn, Peaches en Regalia, Rift, Stash, If I Could, My Friend, My Friend, Julius, Cavern
II: Sample in a Jar, David Bowie, Glide, Ya Mar, Mike’s Song > Low Rider > Mike’s Song > I Am Hydrogen > Weekapaug Groove, Bouncing Around the Room, The Squirming Coil, Crimes of the Mind*
E: Golgi Apparatus, Rocky Top
* w/ Dude of Life on vocals
Source: Set I: (FOB) Schoeps MK4/CMC5 > Sonosax SX-M2 > Apogee AD500E > D10 (through Rift, Apogee battery died) Stash to end of Set I : OTS AT- 4053; Set II: (FOB) Schoeps MK4/CMC5 > Sonosax SX-M2 > D10Tags: Culture, Dark Side