The Virtuosity of Summer ’93

Pollock Summer '93

In interviews these days, Phish consistently discusses the importance of striking a balance in their lives during this era of their career. Combining Phish, families, side-projects, and some down time, the band members, thankfully, seem to be prioritizing personal sustainability in round three. But this is not the way it always worked. For the first decade plus of their career, Trey, Fish, Mike and Page dedicated their entire beings to the entity of Phish. Virtually every waking hour was spent pushing, practicing, and refining their skills. Phish, unquestionably, represented the most important facet of their lives. Notoriously intense practices and improvisational exercises drove the band’s single-minded musical communication, as they lived, ate, and breathed Phish 24 hours a day. And when listening to their sublime musical output during their first massive peak of Summer ’93, one can hear the hours of intense dedication; one can hear the complete and total focus on the mastery of their music; one can actually hear their burning desire for excellence.

Laguna Seca Daze - 5/93

The summer of 1993 represented a crucial phase in Phish’s development. After touring the summer circuit in 1992 as an opening act for Santana, in ’93 the band began headlining larger amphitheatres, themselves. At the same time, Phish sought to distance themselves from the first wave of “jambands” with whom they co-billed a couple of July’s H.O.R.D.E. tour stops. At this time, the music industry grouped, and often dismissed, Phish with other neo-hippie acts such as Blues Traveler, Aquarium Rescue Unit, The Spin Doctors, and Widespread Panic. But combining a youthful exuberance with a dedication and passion rarely seen in modern music, Phish forged ahead, breaking down boundaries of live music. Ensuring that every night provided a wholly different experience for their fans, the band held themselves to rigorous standards, playing with a life-or-death urgency every time they hit the stage. All the while, Phish shows grew more adventurous then ever before; the music began to take on a life of its own.

Durham, NH - 5.8.93

The intense drive that Phish possessed in this era never wavered, in large part, due to their lack of distractions. Not yet rock stars on any level, the totality with which the band dedicated themselves to their craft crossed the line of obsession, and simply became part and parcel of who they were as people. Yet to marry or to start families, Phish – the band – was, without a doubt, the singular, most important entity in any of their lives – and it showed. Over the previous four years, they played 532 gigs – an average of 133 per year – and going into Summer ’93, Phish carried the momentum of a torrid four-month winter/spring tour that had ended only a month before. Add that run to the scorching year of 1992 in which they played 121 shows, and the band had a full head of steam. While their early years fostered the band’s burgeoning virtuosity, Phish sat on the brink of Summer ’93, primed and ready for their first massive musical peak of their career.

The band displayed drill-bit focus and overwhelming creativity throughout the summer, resulting in nothing less than superlative, transcendent improvisation all season long. With their roots firmly planted in both the jazz and rock traditions, Phish crafted sublime, original music nightly, launching into vastly different universes with nearly every jam. One simply didn’t know where the music would travel each time out of the gate; their improv had zero predictability. Similar songs got different treatments on different nights, as the band explored completely divergent musical territory. The meticulous musical conversations that characterized this tour were indicative of the telekinetic connection, and unity of purpose, the band members felt at this stage of their lives. Jumping into the void multiple times per night and playing with calculated vigor, Phish locked into each others’ ideas and responded to them subconsciously, playing with a style of wizardry that would dissipate in their later years of groove to the chagrin of many fans.

Laguna Seca - 5/93

Laguna Seca Daze - 5/93

During this summer, Phish sounded like they were playing for their lives every time they hit the stage, and essentially, that is exactly what they were doing. On the verge of breaking from of the pack of H.O.R.D.E-style bands, Phish dedicated the entirety of their lives to making Phish the craziest live experience and most enticing music in the scene. The scintillating surreal adventures that characterized their entire tour, solidified Phish as the preeminent force in improvisational rock. With fewer jam vehicles in their catalog than later days, each time out, songs grew more unique, moving away from previous incarnations and into uncharted domains. Open, or type II, jamming became the norm rather than the exception, as Phish explored all corners of the musical cosmos with white-hot intensity.

Also of significance,The Grateful Dead kept on truckin’ during 1993, leaving the Phish community protected from the masses with a youthful  innocence that would be lost come Fall ’95. Summer ’93 still held a certain intimacy, like everyone shared a secret from the rest of the world, and secret power of Phish. Possessing shining skill sets and incredible enthusiasm, while constricted by few other cares in their lives, the band, themselves, raged Phish harder than ever before. The band never came out flat or careless. Each time they performed, the show immediately transformed into the most important event in the world, and this relentlessness pushed and pulled their musical exploits into fantastically ludicrous, mind-expanding planes. The psychedelic unknown became the defining quality of their improvisation; one took the leap of faith with Phish each time a jam dropped, trusting that whatever mania ensued, the band would, eventually, lead the way home. Giving oneself to this experience held a different meaning when there was no predictability where the music would go.

While Phish played outstanding shows throughout July, in August 1993, Phish achieved one of their all-time peaks. Alongside other career high-points of April ’92, June and November ’94, December ’95 and November / December ’97, and December ’99; August ’93 possessed a separate musical quality all to itself. Boiling down to hunger, desire, and stretching the possibilities of live music, Phish absolutely annihilated their two-month, bi-coastal jaunt. Every show during August contains genuinely outlandish moments of improvisation, pieces that one must hear to believe and digest. Providing a portrait of Phish at one of their highest musical mountaintops, Summer ’93, though seeming like ancient history, lives on 17 years later through memories, recordings, and in the hearts, minds, and souls of the Phish community.

To honor this incredible summer and the exploits within, I have compiled “Miner’s Picks: August ’93.” Because Phish had less vehicles in their repertoire at the time, I have split up the compilation into two “sets,” each with similar songs. (I left out the LivePhish releases (Murat, Tinley Park) for which I only have the official SBDs.) These selections paint a vivid, six-hour picture of a band centered in the moment, while careening towards the future. It’s truly an era that is not to be forgotten.

****

MINER’S PICKS: AUGUST ’93 < Torrent

MINER’S PICKS: AUGUST ’93 < Megaupload

Set I:

1,2. “2001 > David Bowie” 8.17, Kansas City, KS

3. “Split Open and Melt” 8.26, Portland, OR

4. “Reba” 8.16, St.Louis, MO

5. “Stash” 8.21, Salt Lake City, UT

6. “Run Like an Antelope” 8.20 Red Rocks, CO

7. “Tweezer” 8.15 Louisville, KY

8-10. “Bathtub Gin > Makisupa > My Mind’s…” 8.2, Tampa, FL

11-13. “Mike’s > Faht > Weekapaug” 8.16, St.Louis, MO

14. “Harry Hood” 8.26, Portland, OR

15. “You Enjoy Myself” 8.3, Miami, FL

Set II:

16,17. “Buried Alive > Tweezer” 8.6, Cincinatti, OH

18. “Stash” 8.15, Louisville, KY

19,20. “Split Open > Glide” 8.9, Toronto, ON

21. “Reba” 8.12, Rochester, MI

22. “Runaway Jim” 8.21, Salt Lake City, UT

23. “Run Like an Antelope” 8.28, Berkeley, CA

24-26. “Mike’s > Great Gig > Weekapaug” 8.11, Grand Rapids, MI

27,28. “2001 > David Bowie” 8.26, Portland, OR

29. “Slave to the Traffic Light” 8.20, Red Rocks, CO

30. “You Enjoy Myself” 8.28, Berkeley, CA

========

1993 Rift Promotional Video  (Great Footage!)

=====

Jam of the Day:

2001 > David Bowie” 8.17.93 II

This selection opened up the second set in Kansas City, and also kicks off the above compilation.

[audio:http://phishthoughts.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/03/Track-01-21.mp3,http://phishthoughts.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/03/Track-02-31.mp3]

=====

DOWNLOAD OF THE DAY:

8.15.93 The Macauley Theatre, Louisville, KY < Torrent

8.15.93 The Macauley Theatre, Louisville, KY < Megaupload

The “Stash” and “Tweezer” were worth the price of admission alone.

I: Sample in a Jar, All Things Reconsidered, Caravan, Runaway Jim, Fee, Paul and Silas, Stash, Colonel Forbin’s Ascent > Fly Famous Mockingbird, Chalk Dust Torture

II: Rift, Tweezer, The Lizards, The Landlady, Bouncing Around the Room, Maze, Glide, Sweet Adeline, Ginseng Sullivan, Nellie Kane, Free Bird

E: Harry Hood

Source: Unknown

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1,037 Responses to “The Virtuosity of Summer ’93”

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  1. Exree Hipp Says:

    We must be on the same plane these days… I spent the last week re-downloading August 93. Been needing to remind myself how tight and adventurous the band once was, and how incredible their ability to talk to each other on stage really could be.

  2. ohhphee Says:

    Damn, Miner! Great writeup today. You hit the nail on the head with the idea that they ate, drank, and slept the band Phish. Don’t think we’ll ever get that kind of “drill-bit focus” you aptly pointed out. Doesn’t mean we wont get kick-ass shows, it just means that they may never play that way again on a consistent basis. All the more reason for us to chase that moment down and fully enjoy it when we get it.

    @Exree

    Yeah, with Miner posting shows from ’92 and “93, I’ve been diving back into that era, too. Smokin” shit! Hopefully, that communication comes back, at least to a degree, to what it once was this year.

    Phish 2010. Can’t wait.

  3. garretc Says:

    So this explains Miner’s ’93 kick he told us about recently! Definitely a real good post today Mr. Miner, well done!

  4. garretc Says:

    I apologize for the repost, but when I posted this yesterday it was right in the middle of the midafternoon lag, so I’m thinking most people didn’t see it:

    So in order to receive parental loan money for tour I had to downsize my tour plans from Hartford > Camden to the more compact (time and distance wise) Camden > MPP. I think I’m probably set on lodgings (found cheap youth hostels, both within 30 min of the venues), but I’m lacking in transportation. Does anyone think they might be able to help me out with various rides (to/from: airports, hostels, venues, cities)? I of course can throw as much gas money as necessary.

    Thanks in advance!

  5. ohhphee Says:

    @garretc

    I wish I could help you with transportation, but my tour dates are limited to the midwest. Keep at it, though. There are a lot of folks on the BB that are doing that same run.

    and now it’s time for bed for this cat.

    Looking forward to digging into Illuminatus! trilogy again.

    I’ll catch up with you all in the am.

  6. Matso Says:

    Thanks Miner! You’ve clearly put some serious thought into this Picks compilation. There are more than a few selections I’m not familiar with, and as someone who doesn’t get the chance to d/l the DOTD most days, this is much appreciated.

  7. G-Funk Says:

    Best write up you’ve ever done.

  8. stitchstash Says:

    Yummy! Phish soup.

  9. Myers Says:

    The louisville tweezer !

    Darien show is excellent

  10. Willowed Says:

    Wow Miner,
    This was a long one. This week has been realy great. You can tell that with the release of the tour dates your excitrement level is rising.
    Your posts this week have a certain something extra. Like you know something big is about to happen and we are all going to take part in it!
    I love it.
    Thank you so much for everything!!

  11. Marshall Says:

    Best. BB Article. Ever.

  12. ma Says:

    mornin”,

    good stuff….the bus came by and i got on….summer 93…miami.

    happy friday!! spring break!!

  13. tela'smuff Says:

    i haven’t listened to a ’93 show in a long time. that was the summer after i graduated highschool and at that time was just really starting to explore Phish. When the ’93 tapes started to filter my way, it was pretty mindblowing. At the time, I was way into Nirvana and Sonic Youth after spending the past 5 years dedicated to hip-hop. Then Senior year I was like Pink from Dazed and Confused, and started hanging with the three “hippy” kids at my small rural school. They knew of Phish and started me out with Junta. As my freshman year of college began, Rift entered my world and I spent most of the fall of ’93 and the first half of ’94 figureing out what Phish was all about. It was a sense of exploration for sure, but ’93 was everything a 17-18 yr old kid could ask for. The standout for me will always and forever be the Murat show, and that Gin. I for many many years kind of had this mental imagery I always associtated with Phish, that being Rift, and the frenetic vibe I felt when I listened to them back then, and then seeing shows in ’94 and ’95, it was all just a fantasy world for kids like me. It wasn’t so much hippy as it was like a geeky inner world where stoner comic book readers, or ex-Dungeons & Dragons players found the coolest music in the world. That was ’93 Phish to me. The closest I heard them play like that again wasn’t until 2009 Fall Tour. At least in my opinion.

  14. kenny powers Says:

    awesome write-up Miner!

    I love the Ritz 8.2.93 show, thinking about trying a remaster of it. Lat Curtis Loew before Fenway!

    Miner – is there a website where you get all your poster jpegs, or are they pulled from various places? I know about the “Phish Poster Archive” but it doesn’t have some of the ones you post. If you know of any other websites I’d love to know!

  15. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    great, great post today. ’93 was the year I really got “IT” though I had seen them a handful of times previously. there were definitely shows that year where I went completely sober and due to the connection with the power of the music alone I had transcendent experiences that I’ll never forget.

    “if you are thinking consciously when you’re up on stage and playing, it’s never the right thing, it comes out sounding planned or contrived and that’s kind of our whole idea with improvisation every night and spontaneity. If you can let yourself go, you end up having a lot of really high emotional experiences with other people and that’s why they keep coming back…”
    -Trey in Rift promo video

    that right there is what IT is all about.

    Interestingly enough, I happened to be reading a post on UM’s blog yesterday which showed the opposite end of the spectrum (i.e. planned instead of spontaneous). They use mics to communicate during their shows and they posted some audio of one of the guitarists guiding the others in the musical direction he wanted. this is somewhat the antithesis of what trey said in the video. not bad mind you, but a totally different approach.

  16. Type III Jamming Personality Disorder Says:

    also, regarding that video, they sure chose some of the, well, less-better-dressed folks to highlight in that video. were we all that poorly dressed back then? I guess Trey got it right later on when he wrote Driver…

  17. SillyWilly Says:

    Morning, all!

    hope everyone’s doing well.

    Thanks for the great write-up, Mr. Miner!

    I love 1993. I think my favorite listening moment came when I heard Makisupa Policeman for the first time ever in the 8-13-93 show.

    And the Gin from that night is wonderful.

    I hope one day to have all the August 93 shows.

  18. Angryjoggerz Says:

    Nice post! My first show was in 1993 (Tinley Park), and I may have been too green to know what was what, so will enjoy going back and listening to the creme of phish.

  19. Angryjoggerz Says:

    Who is the older guy in the baseball hat rocking out in the front row?

  20. Angryjoggerz Says:

    Sorry, one more. That moment of Mike and Fish rocking it funque style is nice!

  21. SillyWilly Says:

    I’d love to see Harry Hood as an encore

  22. stash Says:

    1993! I couldn’t agree more. Quick story:

    Went to Rhode Island to hit th beach. Rainy day. Came back to CT, dropped friends at home. Drove to northern CT to visit some other friends. Dropped Picture of Necter on them. Their mom walks in and says, “Hey, phish is playing tonight at great woods, I just bought you tics. See you later.” I had no idea about anything. Where we were going, how to get there. Nothing. Sick show. Llama opener. 2001. Freebird. Purple rain! After the that. Hit the New year’s run of 93, and the rest is history.

    Thanks fo the flashback.

  23. Little Buddy Says:

    Very impressive write-up. Mr. Miner! I didn’t see a show until 1994 after I graduated from high school, but it was the tapes from 1993 that wet my appetite and drew me in. Good stuff!

  24. kenny powers Says:

    joggerz

    hell of a first show my friend!

  25. stash Says:

    God street wine used to do the same thing as UG. Except Lo Faber would hold up fingers. 2 up for major, 3 down for minor etc. I guess in the end it all depends on how it sounds.

    I’m sure phish has all kinds of signals that they use. And with the amount of dedication and practice they have put in, many of their jams are created in practice and explored on stage to the limits and beyond.

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